Chance Meeting
by Fenig Durak


On any other day, Feni would have chosen to ignore the random AIM message from unknown user FuzzyKettch. But something on this lazy Tuesday afternoon made her change her mind. Clicking Ok on the screen revealed to her a simple string of blue text.

Hello there.

A tailored chocolate brown eyebrow rose over her left eye, accompanied by a soft grin of her thick pink lips. "Fuzzy Kettch, huh?" Her slender fingers, tipped with short, bitten nails hovered over the ergonomically curved keyboard. Hello. Do I know you?

She held her breath until the blue words sprang under her own soft green. No, I think we’d remember meeting a huge X-Wing fan like yourself.

We? There’s more then one of you there now? Her fingers flew over the keys with a practiced ease.

***

"Gods, Janson! You weren’t supposed to let her know there’s more then just you!"

"Oh stuff it, Klivian. It’s not like we’re interrogating her."

"Wes is right." Wedge’s hand came up to his forehead as the depth of his words hit him. "Tatooine must’ve frozen over!" His green eyes flashed a triumphant smirk that was shallowly reflected in the oversized monitor screen.

Wes beamed proudly, his skilled fingers flying over the keys. There’s three of up. Myself and my two best friends.

***

Feni leaned back in her overstuffed swivel chair, a ridiculously goofy grin consuming her soft features, shining through her green-brown eyes. "Good lord, there’s three of them." Shaking her head, her chocolate tresses flopped over her shoulders. Leaning forward once again, her hair falling around her face, rimmed with her half bleached, half natural streak of white, she poised her fingers over the home row and let fly the first words that came to mind.

Well, don’t I feel special. So, mysterious trio, what are your names, and how did you discover me?

Almost as soon as she leaned back, her answer came. Well, I’m Wes, on my right is Wedge and on my left is Hobbie. And we discovered you when Wedge stumbled upon your self imposed introduction into Rogue Squadron.

Laughter shook her slender shoulders and it took her a solid minute to regain her breath. Well, as you already know, I’m Feni. And I’m to understand that the Wes, Wedge and Hobbie have all read my story?

***

Wes folded his hands behind his head and grinned over at his blonde friend. The usually dour pilot just scowled and crossed his arms tightly over his chest.

Wedge waved his hand in front of Wes’ face. "Tell her we enjoyed her story a great deal."

"Ok, calm down, Wedge." Wes rolled his eyes and started typing again.

***

"Make the story come true? What are they trying to pull?" She forced herself to blink a few times to make sure that what she was reading was really there before resuming her typing. We are talking about ‘20 Questions’, right?

Blue text flashed onto her screen, accompanied by a chime. Confusion reflected in her eyes. Of course. We’re talking about ’20 Questions’ and ‘Fair Trade’

You’ve read both of my stories? She took a breath and followed up with the inevitable question. What did you think? Once again, she held her breath, this being the first time she’s ever gotten feedback from someone anonymous.

***

Talking as he typed, Wes’ fingers zipped over the keyboard, practically writing a story of his own in response. Well, we all loved how you captured us all so well. Although it makes Hobbie suspicious that you’ve been watching us in the way of field research. But I find it charming.

***

"Charming? Wow, this guy is really laying it on thick!"

***

Unfortunately for Hobbie, Wedge’s favorite part was in the restaurant where you made a fool of Hobbie and that waitress. What was her name? Tracey? But more importantly, my favorite part was the mention of the good night kiss having me hooked.

***

Feni rolled her eyes drastically. "Of course that was your favorite part. I’m surprised it wasn’t the sleepless night."

Laying her fingers once more on they plastic keys, she set to work. Tracey is one of my current roommates. Her and my other roommate, Erin, are both Star Wars fans because of me. And because Hobbie doesn’t usually have anyone, she chose to like him.

***

Wedge’s elbow found its way to Hobbie’s ribs, joined with a conspiratorial smile. "See, I told you that there would be someone out there someday. You just had to be patient."

Completely seething with anger now, Hobbie turned a fiery scowl at Wedge. "Too bad it’s out of pity!" He set his jaw and slumped down in his seat, his legs stretched out in front of him.

"Oh stop whining, Hobbie. She can’t be all bad. Bad taste in men doesn’t mean she’s bad looking," Wes snickered, his laughter gaining strength when Hobbie’s hand found the back of his head.

***

Besides, I doubt she would go for your friend over there being that you three are obviously not who you claim to be. Feni stretched her arms over her head and turned sideways in her chair, her legs dangling over the armrest, serving as the perfect spot to place the keyboard.

I’m hurt that you don’t believe me.

I bet.

Seriously though. If you are willing to give us a chance, we’d really like to give you one too.

***

"How bad does that sound, Wes? She’s probably going to ignore us now, thinking that we’re, no, correction, you are trying to illicit sex out of her." Wedge’s cheeks flushed a warm red, his eyes darting around the modest room, anywhere but at the screen.

"She’s one of our fans. She’ll understand."

***

Feni’s eyes opened wide enough to make the rest of her face seem tiny in comparison. "Force, I should have ignored this one. Damnit!" She calmed her breathing, taking deep, soothing breaths. It was never good to get angry right away, especially when the temper was Italian. Her fingers set to work trying to divine a solution to the misunderstanding. Care to give that last statement another try? It was a bit more indicating then I usually prefer when I first meet someone.

A long, text-less silence followed, and she could imagine Hobbie and Wes arguing over something while Wedge just sat back and watched with half a smile. But that was absurd. There was no way that these three boys, emphasis on boys, could be her beloved Rogues.

Finally, I’m sorry. You’re right. That didn’t come out right. Give me another chance?

I thought that’s what I just did.

***

"Maybe this wasn’t as good an idea as we thought. Just apologize and give her some excuse so we can go eat. I’m getting hungry." Hobbie fidgeted with a thread he pulled off his jacket, wrapping the long string around his finger, and unwrapping it again.

Wes looked mournfully over at Wedge, Wedge returning the gaze with a conspiratorial one of his own. Almost instantly, Wes got the idea and set to work turning words to text.

***

We’d like to make it up to you by buying you dinner.

Feni stared at the monitor for a minute. She’d made it policy long ago to never meet someone from the internet before at least talking to them for extensive periods of time, and even then, it’d have to be in a mutual place. Somewhere very public.

I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.

Please say yes. It’d make us all feel better.

Her mind raced for a way to politely turn him down. The chances of the four of us being in the same state, let alone the same city are pretty rare. Especially for Denver. She smacked her forehead as soon as her eyes ran over her posted text. For the love of sith.

Oh great! We’re in town for a short bit of time. Convention appearances and all. Where in Denver?

She groaned loudly and sank even further in her chair. Great, they’re in town for a convention. That means they’ll be 14 or 15 years old and giggle like Beavis and Butthead. But, being the obligingly honest person that she is, I’m in a suburb just north of Denver. She thought for a moment. "What the hell. I’ve got a car and pepper spray, plus all those great defense courses from the military school I went to."

Maybe we can meet you somewhere? Keep it public?

They read her mind. She stretched her fingers and started to slowly pound out her reply. Sure. I guess I can do that. Give me somewhere to meet you and I’ll be there.

***

"Wes, are you sure? What if she’s gross? What if she gets stuff stuck in her teeth?"

Wes turned a pleading puppy-dog face on Wedge and he nodded. Hobbie barely had time to respond to Wedge’s outstretched hand to the back of his head, silencing his whining.

How does the Jerusalem Café sound? I’ve heard great things about it and I’ve never had Middle Eastern food. All three pilots waited with baited breath, two sets of blue eyes and one set of green boring holes into the borrowed monitor. The release of breath and relieved smiles exchanged between them all at her quick response.

That’s one of my favorite places! Wow, you guys really are staying close by.

***

She smacked her forehead again. "Great, Feni. Why don’t you just give them your address and social security number while you’re at it? Jeez."

Great. So I guess we’ll see you when?

Her fingers seemed to be an entity all their own as they danced over the keyboard, Feni staring in awe. I can be there in 35 minutes. She shut her eyes tightly, an image of a zit faced, fan-boy and his two best buddies popping to mind. She shuddered as her image morphed into the fan-boy from the Freakazoid cartoon. But it was too late. She wouldn’t lower herself to standing up a fellow Star Wars fan. It must be against some code somewhere.

Great, that gives us some time. See you at a table on the patio in 35 minutes!

See you then.

She held her breath until she was safely signed off. Collapsing in her chair, she rubbed her temples. "What have I gotten myself into?"

***

Half an hour later, she was pulling up to the Jerusalem Café in her blue-green Volvo, a beloved gift from her mother. Staring at the familiar café where said mother and her would have lunch whenever her job kept her.

She took a deep breath and opened the door, setting a Birkenstock clad foot on the uneven blacktop, locking the door behind her. Dressed in a comfortable pair of gray slacks from the Gap topped with a sage green polo short-sleeved shirt. Her famous chocolate hair hanging thickly around her face, rimmed with a streak of shock white.

Hesitantly, she turned the corner of the small café to the steps that led up to the dimly lit porch. All the tables were empty except for the round table under the gazebo. The narrow doorway to the gazebo blocked her vision of two of the three, the back of the third facing her. She took a few muted steps towards the table, her sandals clacking on the wood boards, causing the dark headed figure to turn in his head.

Bright blue eyes surrounded by perfectly tanned skin and dark curly hair smiled back at her when their eyes met. Feni’s lip quivered through her weak smile. She could feel her knees going weak as the familiar smile of Wes Janson beamed at her. Wedge and Hobbie, taking cue from Wes, leaned forward in their seats, turning their own charming smiles on the slender girl who until now was nothing but green, comic sans text.

Feni’s jaw dropped and raised her hands to her now burning cheeks. These three, three of her most read and most worshipped pilots were sitting at her favorite table in her favorite café. She had brought countless dates here to see if they passed her test. Most didn’t. And now her three favorite rogues were sitting here of their own choice. Before she knew it, her eyes rolled into the back of her head, the last thing she heard was a wooden thump.

***

Ten minutes and a glass of ice water later, her green-brown eyes fluttered open. Circled around her were four faces. Wes’ bright blue eyes focusing in her. Wedge’s soft green eyes and confident smile waiting for her. Hobbie’s usually mournful frown had morphed into a frown of concern. And the waitress, her dark brown eyes full of worry and concern for one of her best tippers.

At the sign of life, the three Rogues slid their hands under her back and helped her to slowly sit up.

"You had us worried there." Wedge’s eyes reflected the green of her shirt as he smiled.

"Yeah, women don’t usually faint until after I’ve spoken to them." Three sets of laser looks shot out to Wes and the waitress laughed.

"Miss Feni. You will be ok, yes?" The waitress, used to the young woman coming here to sit for hours with her Calculus books, worried over Feni in her thick, Middle Eastern accent.

"I’m fine. Really," she assured the waitress. Her slender fingers slid between a set of Wes’ and a set of Hobbie’s as they helped her to stand, both refusing to let go until she had taken a seat at their table.

***

About an hour later, a half empty plate of baklava in the middle of the table, and four very full, very happy stomachs surrounding the table.

"To be honest, I was expecting three giggly kids." Feni blushed softly at her admission.

"What made you show up then?" Hobbie leaned forward on his elbows, placed gingerly at the edge of the table.

"Well. I guess the fact that you liked my writing." Her eyes moved over each face in turn, favoring each of them with a warm and loving smile.

Wes, having gradually scooted his chair closer to hers, leaned closer to her, lowering his tone. "My favorite part was when you, your character, knew it was me the whole time and didn’t let on."

She turned a curious smile on him, her eyes searching his. Wedge and Hobbie watching gleefully as Feni tried to discern the meaning behind Wes’ admission. "Why’s that?"

"I can answer this one." Wedge sat up straight in his seat, a huge grin taking over his face.

"Please, professor. By all means." Wes smirked, holding a hand out for him to proceed.

Sighing heavily, Wedge shot Wes through with a glare before turning his jovial grin back to Feni. "He’s finally met his jokester match. And personally, I’m quite glad. Maybe the focus will finally be taken off of my office."

The laughter from all four of them made Feni feel warm and at home when it dawned on her. All the books, all the movies, it was all true. She looked down at her bitten fingernails, took a deep breath, and looked back up at her new friends. It felt so good to call them friends. "Take me back with you."

"Back where?" Hobbie asked since he was the only one not taking a drink at the moment.

"Back to your home. Back to the New Republic. Back to X-Wings and star travel." Her eyes were filling with wistfulness at the possible fulfillment of her lifelong dream. Granted her dream was to go to Mars, but hey, who was she to nitpick?

"That’s an awfully big decision, Feni." Wedge set down his glass and adopted the Commander voice.

"Especially since you expected three zit faced kids." Wes smirked softly. He wanted her to come back with them, but he didn’t want her to get there and be miserable.

"Force! If I hate it, I can always come back."

"And what about college? About your future career as a pilot in your military?" Something in Hobbies voice betrayed that he didn’t really want to make that argument, but it was expected.

"I can be a pilot with you guys. You can teach me. I’ve already got my private small aircraft pilot’s license. I just need to learn the new craft. That’s all." Her tone was pleading, her eyes mirroring the pleading.

Wedge sighed and looked over the faces of his friends. "Pilot meeting." The three of them scooted their chairs closer and formed a small huddle. Feni could hear mention of her mother, and of Tycho, and of an academy. The three heads nodded in unison and they broke their huddle, solemn faces turning towards her, their eyes not meeting hers.

"After careful consideration, we’ve decided." Wedge kept his Commander’s voice, his eyes darting from hers to Hobbie’s to Wes’ and back to hers.

"And?"

"Well, as long as your mother approves-" Wedge was cut off by a yelp of joy from Feni and a congratulatory hug from both Wes and Hobbie.

After a fake exasperated sigh, Wedge moved around the table to join in the group hug. "This isn’t the normal introduction into the squadron, you know."

"But I’m not your normal new pilot." Her eyes shone brightly, made even brighter by the tears welling up, threatening to spill over.

"You knew. That entire time, and you already knew." Wes smirked as he quoted her first story.

She smiled brightly at Wes, locking his roguish smile with one of her own before turning an equally eager grin to her new Commander.


Finis


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