Sometimes Carrick did things just because he wanted to.
Far too often he did things because they would help him in a political manner, because they would improve his powerbase and earn him favours from powerful and influential people. As a politician it was just kind of expected that he would turn things to his advantage and not at all far from the truth considering how much of the time he truly did do that.
But today he was on Serenno not to squeeze someone for blackmail material or offer a favour in exchange for another one further down the line, like he had done the last time he was on Serenno. No, he was here to do something he wanted to do and that was to take a Mando for a dinner date. Was it strange that he was taking an armoured warrior woman out for dinner?
Absolutely not and only a sexist would think there was - just because the woman could pummel him to a blood pulp if the mood took her, did not make her any less capable of being a captivating woman. In this case it actually kind of made Carrick even more interested truth be told. So he had sent her the time and date for their meeting via message and was now waiting at the spaceport for her to arrive.
He'd not so much dressed up as he'd worn what he usually did because that tended to be more dressed up than most people anyway. Humming a little bit as he waited, he double checked their reservation.
Perhaps Reiel ought to have thought things thoroughly first before she began flirting with an ex-Jedi during her last mission, but she would be a damned hypocrite for even attempting to deny the fact that she had enjoyed it.
If she was being honest, she never even thought that Carrick would hold true to his word about treating her to dinner. Most men wouldn't even bother despite showing interest in her – if they were actually interested at all in the first place. One did not simply offer to take a woman to dinner if she was clad in heavy armor and refused to remove her helmet for the kriffing galaxy to see.
So imagine Reiel's surprise upon receiving Carrick's message about that dinner they talked about, complete with the time, date, and location of their meeting. There was a bit of horror thrown in the picture as well, considering she had been with her father when she received the message. Lucky for her (and the ex-Jedi, maybe?), her buir was too busy freezing their bounties in carbonite for him to hear what the message was about.
Reiel stepped out of the freighter, thanking the pilot and his crew for letting her join them on the way to Serenno. All she had to do in exchange for the free ride was to get rid of a small group of bandits who were foolish enough to try and steal some crates full of Maker-knew-what (not illegal, to her relief) down the cargo hold where a fully armed and armored Mandalorian had been hiding – a complete stowaway who became a guard in exchange for being allowed in the transport.
Embarrassing, but, eh. She'd experienced worse.
She walked around the spaceport to check if the freighter had docked in the right one. It was her first time on the planet after all. Reiel would've wandered even further if she hadn't caught sight of her quarry.
"Oh, kriff," she muttered, suddenly feeling nervous. "It's really happening. Just– Just calm down, alright? Kriff."
Squaring her shoulders and standing tall (she rolled her eyes at the word) and a little proud to calm her nerves, Reiel made her way towards Carrick with a grin on her covered face.
"Say, mesh'la. Do you hang around here often?"
What a way to greet someone who's going to take you out to dinner.
Ah he thought he'd felt some extra nervous energy in the air and he had been right! He smirked ever so slightly as he turned to regard his guest for the evening. Reiel was, of course, still clad entirely in her Mandalorian armour and it looked rather shiny. Had she shined her armour for their date he wondered? Was that the Mandalorian way of dressing up when you were going out? It was amusing to think about it but he still didn't even know what she was calling him so probably best if he avoided drawing conclusions about her culture.
"Only when I'm waiting for a woman in heavy armour to come sweep me off my feet."
Didn't mean he couldn't flirt though.
He gave her a real smile for a moment before waving for her to follow him.
"Come on then my Mando - we've got a reservation to make."
Walking down the street with a heavily armed and armoured woman by his side was a feeling that Carrick knew he would never get enough of. People in fancy cloaks and capes were stopping to stare at them and he couldn't help but find it so amusing that they thought that their stares mattered. Carrick held out a hand to take Reiel's hand in his own.
"It's like they've never seen a woman before, honestly."
If there was anything Reiel was grateful for at this exact moment, it was for the existence of the strict Creed she followed that required her to never show her face to any other living being sans her close family.
Her cheeks were burning underneath her helmet and she wouldn't be surprised if Carrick would actually feel the heat if he ever touched the beskar covering her head. Alright, that may have been an exaggeration on her part, but that tiny smirk on the ex-Jedi's face when he turned to look at her – and the way he eyed her, really – suggested that he had noticed the extra shine on her armor. Reiel had been busy wiping any blaster marks or grime off and cleaning the armor to the point of looking fresh out of the armorer's forge back there in the privacy of the freighter's cargo hold, actually feeling paranoid about how she would look like (her helmet and armor, rather) once she met up with him. It was obvious that she had never done this before, this "going out for dinner" thing – well, once, technically, with another Mandalorian in their clan who... wished to know her better. But that one ended in a disaster, the guy admitting that he had only asked her out because he lost a bet.
She could still feel the pain in her knuckles if she thought back on how she beat him up and sent him running back to his stupid friends.
Reiel let out an amused chuckle at Carrick's response and curtsied playfully.
"Lead the way, then, gorgeous."
The Mandalorian was quick to fall in stride beside him, taking in the sights around her. A lot of people in fancy clothing out here, openly staring at the two of them, and, hey, were those two women in elegant dresses whispering with each other while raising snobbish brows at her?
Reiel didn't bother to hide the giggle at the looks they were receiving. There was only one person in this planet whose opinion about her mattered at the moment and he was right here, walking beside her and, oh–!
She looked at Carrick's proferred hand, wide-eyed and all too pleased at his following remark. The Mandalorian threw her hesitation to the wind and – feeling a little bolder than she would ever admit – slid one glove off then took his hand with her now bare one. It shouldn't surprise her how big his hand was compared to hers, but here she was, staring at their joined hands with interest.
His next words made her look back up at him and she smirked, nodding her head in agreement.
"Maybe they never have," Reiel commented. "It's a shame, really. Look at these poor saps. Stuck dealing with damsels who can't cover your back in a barfight. Laandur."
The Mandalorian then shifted her focus back at Carrick, helmeted head tilted to the side in curiosity.
"So... what kind of dinner arrangements have you planned for me, Carrick? Do we get a private room or something?"
No facial exposure, right? Sometimes, Reiel did hate having to follow the Way of the Mandalore – the stricter interpretation, that is. Never did her good in scenarios such as this one. It's either Carrick ate blindfolded or they sit back to back and have him promise not to take a peek.
A lesser man may have felt as though they were being mocked for being called gorgeous - preferred to be called handsome or something similar - but Carrick was not a lesser man. Instead he responded with another smirk over his shoulder and a wink. She seemed to enjoy his more open responses to what she did. The expressions he made were only slightly exaggerated and only for her amusement so he hoped she didn't feel as though he were having fun at her expense.
He was having fun though.
Of course he did pause ever so slightly when she seemed to be surprised by his offered hand. He had a few seconds where he was concerned he had misread her intentions and how comfortable she was with expressions of any kind. But these were put to rest swiftly when she did slide one of her hands in with his. The fact that she had slid a glove off to do so was a rather nice touch.
His thumb ran along the back of her small hand with a ghost-light touch.
"And the men are just jealous." he agreed with a smirk, "They're looking at me, walking hand in hand with a Mandalorian, and they're wishing they could be me. And you know what?"
"It's worth them being jealous over."
Her hand was a contrast of calluses from hard work and softest skin - it was both feminine and warrior in one and that was her all over it seemed. He led the way to the restaurant he had made reservations at, handing his credit chip to the doorman and being escorted through the main floor of the restaurant to a private room. The door closed when the waiter left, leaving them alone in the room aside from a protocol droid.
"Droids don't count, right?" he asked for clarification as he pulled out a long strip of heavy cloth, turning away from her slightly so she could tie it for her, "Be a dear and tie it? Tight as you like - if I get a peak I want it to be because you want me to, not because the blindfold slipped."
Reiel could only hope that she was properly expressing just how much fun she was currently having through her words and gestures, if not for the smile reaching her eyes that Carrick could not see. It didn't even bother her in the slightest what he might think of the state of her hands hardened by years of training and labor. There were people who saw beauty in hands who knew of life's hardships, and somehow she knew that the ex-Jedi was one of them.
He was beyond ordinary, anyway. That much the Mandalorian knew.
She allowed Carrick to lead her to a restaurant, ignoring the looks they were receiving, and into a private room. Reiel could not help herself from thanking the departing waiter for his services before turning to the protocol droid.
"No, they don't count," she confirmed, returning the droid's bow with an incline of her head. Reiel then turned to look at Carrick then at the strip of cloth he offered her. She took it, tested it's length and strength, then nodded in satisfaction.
"Someone's been prepared – lovely," the Mandalorian jested but deeply appreciated the gesture. She covered his eyes with the cloth, tying it securely but not too firmly to the point of discomfort before stepping in front of him. There's no way she would let that blindfold slip without her permission. Her identity as a Mandalorian was at stake here. He would not see her face. Nor anyone in this building, for that matter.
Unless he'd agree to be a part of her family, whether as a brother or – too soon, she thought, blushing – a spouse. A nervous giggle escaped her lips at the latter option.
Yep. Way too soon.
Reiel awkwardly waved a hand over his face. Just making sure that he's not really seeing anything.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" she asked, clearly joking but curled her hand into a fist nonetheless. "Nah, I'm kidding. Did I tie the cloth too tight? I hope not. Wouldn't want you to be even more uncomfortable."
She knew she was stalling, but eventually she would have to remove her helmet. Reiel took a deep breath, raised both hands to her buyce, and swiftly took it off with a snap-hiss before she could chicken out even further.
Shoulder-length hair cascaded down, finally free from their prison. The cool kiss of natural air always felt so good, and she closed her eyes for a few seconds to savor the feeling. The Mandalorian nervously ran her fingers through her messy hair, taming and smoothing the usually unruly dark brown locks down before lifting her head to look at Carrick with her own eyes.
Gorgeous, indeed. And considering the combat prowess she had seen during her last mission, Reiel's use of the word was justified in Mandalorian standards. Beauty wasn't limited to physical features to a Mando, see.
"Hey there, handsome," she greeted, her unfiltered voice floating in the room. "The name's Reiel. What's yours?"
Another joking attempt. Helped calm down a warrior lady, no?
Thank the Force that droid didn't count - and that she wasn't one of those weirdos who liked to act like their droids were living things. They were nice companions and all but they weren't alive so they didn't really rate highly in his opinion as a Jedi trained politician. If they got the right to vote he would really be interested in keeping them on side but, as it stood, they were property all over the Galaxy so he didn't worry about their feelings.
He chuckled a little bit.
"Ah but I didn't think to pack the restraints this time." he teased her as she tied the blindfold around his eyes tightly, "Next time, eh? Just so you're aware - I will be using the Force. It doesn't give me details just... it's like touching something."
He shrugged a little bit and tilted his head slightly when she held up a fist.
"A fist." he confirmed with a small smirk, "Don't worry. I'm comfortable enough and getting more relaxed all the time. Not like I have to worry about my safety when there's a Mandalorian warrior sat at my table, right?"
Carrick moved, slowly, to sit down in the chair that was going to be his. Sitting down equally slowly, he held his hands out ahead of him, touching the cutlery and plates with light touches to confirm that the very hazy outlines of things he could 'see' with the Force were true. Force Sight would, usually, be a lot clearer than this but... well he had intentionally made his technique rather sloppy so it would still be next to impossible for him to actually see her features, even if he could tell she wasn't wearing a helmet.
He chuckled a little bit.
"I'd say you're as enchanting as I thought but, well, I'm not good with details right now." he joked right back, "Carrick. My family name isn't really mine yet - trouble with going to the Jedi young was that my family took me off the family tree... getting back on is a pain and a half for sure."
Carrick smiled and held the glass as the protocol droid filled the glasses.
"Naboo red - I brought the bottle from home." he admitted with a little chuckle, "Give you a taste of my home rather than completely tipping things against you and bringing you home. Neutral ground is far better for a first date, right?"
For an embarrassingly short moment, Reiel was left wondering what Carrick meant. She had no idea what he meant with packing restraints. Was there a bounty in the restaurant that needed capturing? The Mandalorian didn't bother carrying a pair of cuffs with her, but maybe her whipcord will do if someone needed tying up–
And then the meaning hit her. She felt like an idiot for completely missing that one out. Reiel laughed, equal parts embarrassed and flustered at the teasing she had been shot with. She shook her head, one hand flying to lightly smack her forehead at her mind's own sluggishness. She acknowledged his use of the Force with a consenting nod – Reiel, by all means, would have been cautious by the prospect but meeting Jedi Knight Fiach Dubh months ago in Tatooine had eased her suspicions about the Force. The female Jedi had been a good teacher, answering Reiel's questions about the Force with as much detail as she could.
"If it helps you, then by all means use it," Reiel told him, but narrowed her eyes when Carrick guessed correctly. No, he didn't guess – the Force was involved. But if it entailed sensing things with something that resembled a touch, then she's still safe and a mile away from breaking the Creed.
She walked beside him as he made his way to his seat. Only when Carrick had occupied his chair did Reiel sit on her own, gaze drifting down on the table and head tilting at the arrangement. She was not used with such fine dining, but at least she could tell what knife and fork to use when eating certain food.
These things could kill as well, she mused. Just exert the right force and strength, let alone the angle and body part which could be cut or stabbed so easily–
Stop right there, sheesh. It's not like you're here to kill anyone with cutlery, Manda's sakes.
"Ah, it seems a little unfair on your part. Here I am, feasting my eyes on a gorgeous man, and he can't even see my face," she teased, smirking a little. Reiel was quick to remove the smirk off of her face at the mention of his family name – or the lack, thereof. From what she'd learned, the Jedi Order once took Force-sensitive children from their families at a young age, not only to simply have them learn about the Force early in their lives but to also teach the younglings to avoid creating attachments. But Carrick's case seemed different. Having your own family cut you off?
Not her place to ask, so she simply shrugged and watched as the protocol droid began filling their glasses with wine. A grin appeared on Reiel's face – she doubted that this would even make her feel tipsy.
"How thoughtful." Reiel let out a laugh at his follow-through, lifting her glass and drinking the stuff like it was some good old-fashioned Mandalorian ale. "Even more thoughtful, that – rule number one in first dates: No taking your date home. And yes, neutral ground is far, far better. Imagine the havoc I could wreak upon your home if you ever made the mistake of taking me. Or the uproar the clan will surely make if I took you home. It'll be chaotic, but the two of us we'll have a lot of laughs out of that."
She gestured for the droid to refill her glass and looked at Carrick with a smile. "So... is this the part where we get to know each other better, mesh'la?"
The fact that she didn't seem to get his joke about the restraints being required amused him to no end but he hid it rather well. A small twist of his lips was all he allowed himself - he wasn't laughing at her after all and he didn't want to give even the hint of that as an option. Instead he kept his visual reaction rather understated. He shrugged a little bit as he wiggled his fingers a little bit in a so-so gesture when she allowed him to use it if it helped him.
"After so long it's like losing a limb and a sense when you cut yourself off from it entirely." he admitted, "So I'd rather not cut myself off from it like that if you see what I mean."
Every part of him was as he had advertised and that included his connection to, and use of, the Force. It was a part of him and it always would be, even if some of his political opponents were already trying to use it against him. Thankfully none of them truly knew how to demonize Force users because they were so incredibly inexperienced in dealing with them as politicians.
More the cult-like versions of them.
He chuckled a little bit.
"Ah unfair? Yes. But I take cultural boundaries seriously." he assured her with a grin, "I'm not about to suggest we start breaking taboos for each other... the night is still young after all."
He hummed a little bit.
"I'm sure I'd end up with some new holes in me if we visited your clan." he joked before agreeing, "I do believe it is - could we perhaps start with the meaning of that name you keep using for me? It really has gotten me curious."
A sorcerer could cut himself off of the Force? Curious. But she would not pry on it any further. She wasn't here to take extra lessons about how the Force works from another sorcerer's perspective, anyway.
Reiel hummed quietly at his explanation, propping an elbow on the table and resting her cheek on her fist. Here was someone who respected and took cultural boundaries seriously. The Mandalorian had been in the presence of those who did nothing but to be either antagonistic, discourteous, and downright dismissive not only of her way of life but others as well – so much that she had gotten used to it. She allowed her stare to soften, an appreciative smile tugging the edges of her lips upwards.
At the joke made, Reiel let out another laugh before reaching out and patting Carrick's hand gently as if to console him. "Don't worry about getting riddled with holes – just get behind me and duck a bit. I'll be your shield against the clan's wrath."
There was still her father to watch out for, but that's a story for another time.
Reiel had lost count of how many times she blushed in Carrick's presence, but the red on her face right now had to be the fiercest. He did tell her before that she'd have to explain to him what she had been calling him. The Mandalorian never used any praises in Mando'a lightly, having been reserved only for those she held in high regard or anyone she fancied (quite rare, really).
It was not the time to be embarrassed, though. He was curious – and she did promise him on their way to Coruscant that she would tell him what the word meant in Basic.
"When you call someone mesh'la in Mando'a, you're basically telling them that they're beautiful. And I don't use that word in terms of aesthetic. For me, someone who is mesh'la is also a good fighter. I've never seen you go all out in a fight on that job with the Senator, but Mandos know a capable fighter when they see one."
Her smile turned into a teasing smirk. "And you were so confident back there, walking down the hallways as if you owned the place. Then striding up casually towards those mercs in the hangar bay. Makes a woman feel things, you know?"
Carrick couldn't help but feel as though this whole experience was rather strange to Reiel. Not so much the date but that someone was actually respecting her cultural boundaries without needing to be asked. Painted a pretty sorry picture of the Galaxy that she had interacted with before him if a politician was the most tolerant person she'd met outside of her own culture. He turned his hand, squeezing her's gently once before letting her pull back.
"I'm not afraid to say that you're a lot less blast-able than I am." he agreed with a smirk, "Hope you don't think less of me."
He might be able to avoid being hit but nothing tanked harder than a well-armoured and well-prepared Mando in his experience. But she seemed intrigued enough that she was even going to teach him what she'd been calling him. Names used against him that he didn't understand? He'd had enough of that working as a Jedi when people wanted to vent their frustrations about him.
And when she started to explain it?
Well even a seasoned politician was allowed to blush a little every now and the, right? Thankfully she wasn't going to see the way he blushed all the way down to his neck because he still had a beard at the moment but still. She would be able to tell he just knew. He took a sip of his wine without making any moves to look at the wine, having mapped out where it was with the Force a moment ago.
"Well I can't honestly say I expected that but I appreciate it - and here I was thinking it was something about my hair." he chuckled a little bit self consciously, "Ah the confidence... part of it is real. Part of it is a projection to hide any hint of doubt."
Reaching down to his belt, he unclipped the lightsaber he kept there and presented it to her. It was intricately made and designed to be both practical and attractive. Within the lightsaber hilt itself was a crystal that resonated with the Force... but as she would see when he pointed it at himself and pressed the button?
It had no power cell.
Instead it was just a fancy little piece of kit that he handed to her easily.
"No power supply? No blade." he explained with a small, softer, smile, "Projection. People think I should be a preening peacock so I show them what they think I am and they don't tend to look any harder than that."
"Nope. Wouldn't even dream of it," Reiel assured him, smiling as she pulled her hand back and held it close to her chest for a moment. It had been so long since someone touched her with such gentleness outside of the clan, and while she had learned to live without such a commodity – given her identity and profession – it did not mean that she never... missed it.
Luck was on Carrick's side, it seemed, for the Mandalorian briefly turned her gaze away to remove her other glove as well before tucking them on her belt.
"Your hair's great, don't worry," she told him with a slight chuckle, lifting her gaze to look at him – more so his face – again. Even with the blindfold covering the top half of Carrick's face, anyone with fully functional eyes would still be able to tell that he was rather dashing. The Mandalorian grabbed her glass, emptied it again in one go, and kept it empty this time. "Still did great at hiding any shred of doubt back there. Had me completely hooked with that confident strut."
Oh, hell. She's attracted to him now, wasn't she? Pretty good, and a tiny bit bad, news.
The Mandalorian might be burdened with both armor, responsibility, and upholding a sense of intimidation her job entailed, but she's still allowed to shed those and act like the woman she was. Right?
Even just this once. You might never get a chance like this again.
Intrigued, Reiel watched as Carrick unclipped the lightsaber hanging from his belt. She had seen in back in the Senator's diplomatic vessel, but he had not used it and instead opted for a vibroblade. She had seen such a weapon before, activated and used to deflect blaster bolts in a fight. Even an unstable one, green light crackling and hissing unlike the serene blue ones back in Tatooine. Reiel would not pretend to be an expert when it comes to hilt designs for the Jedi's primary physical weapon, but Carrick's carried both practicality and appeal.
It suited him.
She had not expected him to point the weapon at himself and pressed a button to activate it, however.
Instincts honed by years of leading a dangerous life kicked in before logic could offer an acceptable reason to assure her that no, Carrick's not going to pull a stunt to endanger himself in front of you, silly.
The table shook at her sudden movement, the cutlery rattling as she lunged at him – one hand shooting forward to grab his in an attempt to redirect the weapon away from him and the other keeping his glass from tipping its contents. What was he thinking, aiming a saber that could literally kill–
No blade of light sprang forth from the hilt, the familiar hissing and humming sounds of an activated lightsaber making their absence known. Of course, it had no power cell.
Feeling altogether stupid for her alarm and worry, Reiel quickly let Carrick's hand go. The Galaxy had to be laughing at her right now, her face red in mortification. The Mandalorian remained standing, fists clenching and unclenching, as he offered the weapon to her.
Slowly, she took the proferred hilt and studied it closely, fingers tracing the cool metal carefully. Finding the button, she pressed it tentatively. Nope. No power cell, for real. The small but soft smile he was giving her helped her calm her racing heart, and Reiel gently and almost reverently placed the lightsaber on his side of the table.
"This one's for show then, huh?" she muttered awkwardly. Reiel could do nothing to stop the red from further coloring her face and traveling down her neck as she gestured rather helplessly at herself, the table, then at him.
She found herself apologizing for her actions, voice turning quiet and softer, more timid, in shame. "I'm sorry, cyare, I... I didn't mean to act so foolishly."
Carrick expected a lot of things but he couldn’t honestly say that having a Mando warrior almost throw herself over a table at him was one of those things. Thankfully she wasn’t trying to kill him but, rather, trying to make sure that he wasn’t doing anything stupid. Of course he wasn’t going to have invited her to dinner just to impale himself with his own lightsaber and they both knew that but he appreciated it was still something of a shock regardless.
Squeezing the hand before it could retreat, he chuckled a little bit sheepishly.
“Sorry – party trick I pull from time to time.” He admitted, “Didn’t think you’d have quite such a reaction to it but… ah… well it’s appreciated.”
It honestly was.
He’d pulled the same ‘party trick’ in front of people who professed to be his friends and allies and they’d just kind of sat there even when he pointed it at himself. Still, she had the lightsaber in her hands now and he could tell that she was examining it in the same way that most people did; they admired the craftsmanship and they thought it suited it. He tilted his head to the side slightly as he sipped at some wine.
“It is for show.” He agreed with a small smirk, “But what makes you think that I have another?”
He, of course, did have another but it was fitted into a sheath around the small of his back that blended in well with his clothes and was usually hidden by his cape. Carrick was intrigued as to why she thought that only ‘this one’ was for show – most people assumed he didn’t use a lightsaber at all so as to distance himself from his past.
It was still embarrassing on her part to just let her instincts take over instead of heeding logic, but a huge part of her felt happy that Carrick had appreciated her reaction. The admission made her think that she might just possibly be the first person to ever react to him pulling said party trick, more so to the point that she would jump at him to prevent the zero possibility of impaling himself with a weapon that didn't even function and was only for show.
The thought saddened her.
But the galaxy did have its fair share of people who would claim to be your allies, only for them to show how uncaring they could be when you were either putting yourself in danger or not. She sat down, brows furrowed and feeling a little melancholic. Carrick's question quickly snapped her out of it, distracting her from her own thoughts.
In all honesty, Reiel meant nothing when she mentioned the words 'this one'. Carrick owned a vibroblade, and being an ex-Jedi himself she thought that he would not willingly part with his lightsaber. While she thought that the one he showed her was his primary weapon (it could be, who knew but him) back in his days in the Order, and continued to carry it around but without a power source, his question did give her pause for thought.
A lightsaber with no power cell, displayed in plain sight. And, drawing from the lessons she learned from Jedi Knight Dubh, the next obvious thing that came to the Mandalorian was that Carrick might possibly be carrying another lightsaber with him – a fully functional one.
One eyebrow raised in intrigue, Reiel leaned forward towards her date and shot him a playful look. She answered his question with one of her own.
"Do you have another one, then? Because from what I've learned from a Jedi I met before – not Izel Thral though – a lightsaber is no mere tool but rather a personal one. 'The crystal chooses it's wielder', that kind of stuff. And while carrying one without a power cell entails that it's just for show, where's the practicality in that when it comes to a fight? Sure, you have your vibroblade and a blaster with you, but are those the only weapons you're really carrying?"
Reiel then gestured at his clothing with a slightly confident smirk, like a foundling who was testing the credibility of their own logic while already feeling it to be true. It would bite her in the rear later if she was wrong, however. "Because if that's the case, then you're wasting a lot of hiding places your outfit offers. For all I know, there could be a couple of vibroknives in there. Or, quite possibly... another lightsaber? An operational one? You seem like a man who has a few tricks up his sleeve. I wouldn't be surprised if you really do have a fully functional lightsaber hidden somewhere within your reach."
She didn't know that he had another lightsaber but she suspected based on what she had learned from other Jedi she had encountered. It was not unreasonable, though some of the reasoning she was using was, in his case, rather flawed. Chuckling ever so slightly, he hummed a little bit and reached out with the Force, taking the lightsaber gently from her hand to have it hover in the air between them.
It turned gently, as though at the mercy of a wayward breeze that didn't actually exist as he beckoned with his fingers.
"The crystal can choose the wielder - or the wielder makes do with whatever is at hand, like I had to. My Master never gave me the chance to get one the longer way." he admitted as he withdrew a power cell from the folds of his robes and set it down on the table as he twisted his hand, the lightsaber beginning to slowly rotate and break into it's component parts, all of them suspended in the Force, "The reason I keep this one so out in the open is because it gives people a target. They disarm me of this and they immediately, instinctively, downgrade their assessment of me. A Jedi without a saber is like a mando without beskar - still dangerous but markedly less."
The crystal shone slightly as he reached out and took it from the disassembled lightsaber and placed it in the palm of her hand instead. He closed her hand over the crystal and held his hand atop of hers.
"They say the crystal shows what a person is really like - I think it's a parlor trick honestly but let's see."
He reached into the Force and pulsed his emotions into the crystal. With such close contact with the crystal, even a non-force sensitive would feel the way it vibrated slightly and grew slightly warmer. Between the cracks of her fingers it would begin to glow, it's light shining ever so slightly but not in a dangerous way. Slowly, he withdrew his hand and the crystal's glow dimmed as the component's reassembled themselves, the crystal slipping from her grasp to join it.
"And if you want to know what other weapons I have hidden on my person...?" he smirked ever so slightly, "I'm afraid that might have to wait until the third date, wouldn't you agree?"
In the end, her assessment did bite her in the rear. It was, yet again, another learning experience – something were embarrassment had no room for in her self-appointed task to educate herself about the Jedi and their ways. Reiel listened to Carrick's explanation with rapt interest, blinking in surprise as he used the Force to take the lightsaber from her. While the action would surely startle some of her clanmates, fascination only burned fiercer in her the longer she found herself in the presence of Force-users and witnessing them use the sorcery – the mysterious powers – they were allowed to harness from the Force itself.
So many questions ran in her head the longer she processed his words. He... had to make do with whatever was at hand? His master, never giving him the chance to get a crystal the longer way? There was a process for retrieving a crystal for a Jedi's lightsaber? The Mandalorian never got the opportunity to ask Fiach about the last question she now had in mind, too caught up with discussing about their peoples' history. It posed a new opportunity to learn things about the Jedi – more so from the perspective of one who left the Order, but Reiel set the matter aside for now.
"A fitting comparison," she murmured, "and a reasonable explanation. Makes an enemy unwittingly commit a mistake." Reiel let out a light laugh. "If we'd met under different circumstances, I think I would've made the same mistake and receive a stab to the throat in return."
Unable to resist the urge, Reiel lifted a hand to poke curiously at the crystal but Carrick beat her to it, taking the thing to place it on the palm of her hand. Her face warmed yet again at the contact, more so when their hands were once again joined – the gentle touch from someone outside family and clan felt alien still to the bounty hunter, but it was an experience she was getting used to. Something she would miss when they part ways.
"It does...? How–"
Brown eyes widened and shone with immense fascination when the crystal not only glowed but also grew warm in her hand. It was not even a trick of her mind when she felt it vibrate ever so slightly in response to what Carrick might be doing – influence it, or send something to the mysterious piece of rock through the Force?
The light and sensations faded too quickly for her liking and her wide-eyed gaze immediately sought Carrick's covered eyes.
It was something she'd never experienced before, almost akin to her asking someone (preferably the man seated across her) to remove her helmet and gaze freely upon her face. Reiel had no idea if she was making the appropriate comparison, but it was the best she could offer herself. Odd, yes, but not altogether unpleasant.
She watched the crystal slip from her grasp as the saber's hilt reassembled itself. The Mandalorian then eyed the hand that held the object, still feeling its warmth on her palm. She would remember this feeling– would hope to experience such a surreal moment again. Reiel smiled softly to herself, that same hand finding the Iron Heart of her beskar'gam.
The laughter that escaped her was louder this time as she reached for her glass, gesturing for the droid to refill it. Instead of drinking the wine in one go like she had previously done, Reiel took a small sip before smiling at Carrick over the rim of her glass.
"Of course, of course. Third date, got it," replied the young Mandalorian, thoroughly amused. "Forgive this lady for being too forward – this is, after all, the Way."
Her own pun at her Creed only elicited another laugh out of her. She then reached for her utility belt and blaster holster, unclipping both and settling them beside the blaster rifle propped up against her chair. She had been too caught up in their conversation that she forgot to take them off. Now, if only she could do something about her armor to better indulge herself in the comforts this private room and Carrick's company offered her...
And it's as if you're going to disrobe in front of a blindfolded guy, di'kut. But on second thought, just keep the armor on. The vambraces and elbow protectors can go, though.
To fill the silence while she removed her vambraces, Reiel made good with the getting-to-know-each-other stage of the date and asked Carrick with honest curiosity, "Tell me what it's like being a politician?"
No, she was not heading straight for personal stuff. Being comfortable in the company of one another did not exactly give Reiel the right to pry on his personal life. She would only ask if it was alright with him – she might be too inquisitive but respect was something that had been strongly instilled in her by the people who raised her.
She understood enough of why he kept the unfinished saber at his side, so visibly, but she didn't know the whole reason. And unless their relationship deepened by several orders of magnitude she never would learn of it's greater significance to him. He would reveal his hidden blade long before he explained the rest of the story about the one he wore at his side. Though he would admit that her feelings of wonder and awe at the little trick with the crystal did make him wish, for a moment, that he could peak through the cloth to see her expression.
But he thought better of trying to take a sneaky peak - he imagined that taking a sneaky peak of a warrior woman was a quick way to lose an eye. Either she would take it herself or one of her clan would when they found out that he had broken one of their customs. That she dealt with his more flirtatious remark without much stuttering and blushing was a good sign and he smiled wider as he accepted a refill of his own from the droid.
"Why do I get the feeling that only a Mandalorian can make a joke like that?" he asked with a smirk, "Don't worry - I know I'm not funny enough to try and get away with it."
Ah but they probably should get back on track with the date he supposed.
"Order from the datapad on the table by the way - I pre-ordered mine." he told her as he hummed a little bit, "Being a politician... hmm..."
He rubbed at his heart slightly as he re-clipped the lightsaber to his side.
"It's a lot like being a teacher for a class of unruly children trying to learn how to fight. They know just enough to be a danger to others but don't know enough to realize they're more of a danger to themselves... and they're stubborn enough to think they know everything. Uphill struggle doesn't even begin to cover it, really."
Her arms felt much lighter with the vambraces off. But now she felt a little defenseless without the closest and most convenient set of weapons in her arsenal – barring majority of the armor she still wore.
Reiel tried to shrug her paranoia off. Came with being a bounty hunter, but hey, she was in the company of someone who wouldn't stab her any moment he fancied. Not unless she made extremely rude comments or invoke his wrath.
She shot Carrick a cheeky grin, leaning over the table and whispering conspiratorially at him. "You wouldn't believe this, but I'm actually bad with puns – the Way is the only stuff I can ever joke about. Don't tell anyone, though. Wouldn't want my people to come after me, blasters and all."
Glancing at the datapad, she peered at the list of food available in the restaurant. Reiel had been craving for something spicy these past few days – during jobs she switched between bland (yet filling) rations and meager meals. She might have been small, but her appetite was actually something of a surprise. In the privacy of the room, she allowed a sliver of embarrassment to show on her face. But amusement eclipsed the feeling – she imagined how her date might react should she eat someone out of house and home, a short burst of laughter escaping her lips as she typed in her order from the selection.
"Sorry, I just–" another giggle "–remembered something."
Perhaps lying to a sorcerer wasn't a good idea, but Reiel wouldn't admit that she had just imagined him with a look of utter surprise on his face should he ever witness the amount of food she could actually eat. It was unladylike and went against certain standards, but she was beyond caring, anyway.
The Mandalorian was quick to focus on the topic at hand when Carrick began to answer her question. Somehow, she understood the struggle. Most people with power tended to act just as he'd described – so full of themselves, and with a bit of arrogance about knowing everything and nothing thrown in the mix.
"Yikes," she oh so eloquently replied, offering no additional input nor witty remarks. Reiel was raised by ex-pirates before being taken into the Mandalorian fold. Both sides were mostly focused on raising warriors, and so it would be understandable that her knowledge about politics was severely lacking. All she knew about it, as taught to her by the village elder who took her in after her biological parents' deaths, was that "a room full of politicians more often than not wasted precious time more than a procrastinator ever could." So, no. She would not offer any more comment about his response. Talking about something you had no masterful knowledge of tended to end in a mixture of disaster and humiliation.
But Reiel was not one to deal in absolutes, and believed that not all politicians were as horrible as the elder painted them to be. She was here on a date with one, after all. And for all the cowering he did, Anno Fah had a principle he chose to hold on to despite the threats on him and his family, and the failed assassination attempt on his person.
A lull in the conversation followed after her short response. Reiel stared at Carrick, head tilted to the side like a curious puppy, and waited for any questions he might ask about her. That was how dates usually worked, right? Flirting and joking aside, that is.
Well Carrick himself was certainly not brave enough to do anything as stupid as make a joke about The Way. Even people who only knew a little bit about the culture knew that it was as close to a religion as the blaster-loving people actually had these days. And that was a topic that was not fit for polite company right there - religion. Always made everything so much more aggrivating than it needed to be.
Grinning right back (he assumed she was smiling from the tone of her voice), Carrick toasted to her with his glass with a grin.
"I'd much prefer it if I was the only one to come after you." he teased, "Makes for a far more interesting time wouldn't you say?"
She was amused by something he could tell even before she giggled - then he was more interested in the fact that she had actually giggled. He didn't really think that Mandos actually giggled but, well, he had met one so he supposed that myth was busted. Chuckling a little bit, he took another sip of his drink in a refined manner as though being blindfolded was his normal state.
It had been during a particularly terrible week of training during his time as a Jedi but that was a funny story for another time.
"So tell me Reiel - what's it like being a bounty hunting Mando? Carrying on the tradition of Simple people making their way in the Galaxy?" He asked with a smile, "No but seriously - what is it you like about the life? Always been curious."
Reiel was blushing, but the wicked grin on her face belied just how flustered she felt at his teasing. She had no way of telling if he meant it or if it was just a joke, but it had been a really long time since she had flirted with someone and to be flirted right back – she had forgotten the feeling. She was enjoying this exchange between them too much, and was now fully convinced that she never regretted flirting with him during that mission involving the assassination attempt on Anno Fah.
Made her feel like the woman she really was, honestly. Men tended to overlook that one fact just because she was a Mandalorian bounty hunter.
"Sentiments shared," she boldly shot back. "A time well-spent, and something we'd both enjoy, I'm quite sure!"
Carrick still managed to be so refined even when blindfolded, and Reiel was content to watch every movement, every quirk of his lips whenever he smiled. He was undoubtedly a handsome man, and she considered it a blessing that he would take interest in her and actually ask her out for dinner. And a gentleman, to boot–
A quiet but content sigh escaped her lips. How she wished that this date would not only be a one-time thing.
A smiled tugged the edges of her lips upwards at his question. Reiel straightened on her seat, hands clasped on the table and head tilted slightly to the side as she considered her words.
"A typical Mandalorian would answer you this: that it is an honor being a hunter who wore the armor of a renowned warrior race. It holds truth, however, especially when you belong to a covert– a clan. Bounty hunters – we are called beroya in our tongue – carry an important role within a clan setting. We are the providers; we bring credits and supplies much needed by the covert. And yes, by doing our role we carry on our tradition, in a manner of speaking."
Her smile turned wistful as her thoughts went to her father. They were both beroya for the clan, after all.
"As for what I like about the life? I don't know if you'd be surprised with me saying this, but there's nothing to like about it. Bounty hunting is a... complicated profession. One moment you're the hunter, and if you're not careful enough, you then get to be the prey. One wrong move and you could get killed. There's not one moment where you're free to let your guard down when anyone could easily plunge a blade on your back. There are times where you have to toe the line between what's moral and what's not. We're meant to capture criminals that law enforcement can't touch, yes. But there were also bounties who did not deserve having a hunter come after them."
"It's an ugly job, bounty hunting."
Reiel paused for breath before continuing on a much lighter note.
"But if there's one thing I actually like about the job is that I'm not just a typical bounty hunter, but a Mandalorian one who belongs to a covert. They say there is no honor among thieves, among the scum of the galaxy. But I'm a beroya – one of the providers for my clan. It's something to be proud of, knowing that my job supports my people. And I get to choose my targets. Criminals, mostly. It's never going to be enough to wash away the villainy in the galaxy, that much I'm aware of. Hells, there's a bunch of crime families out there. Got to be a realist in the real world. We've got too much dreamers out there." She chuckled. "I know it won't make a difference, but to be able to contribute to the clan's welfare while upholding the honor instilled in me by my forebears? That's enough for me. That's what I like about being a Mando bounty hunter."
Another amused giggle from her. "Sorry– didn't mean to make this sound like a lesson or something."
But she had appreciated the question, and was glad that she could openly share her thoughts and feelings about it with someone. Her next question was something silly, and she would not hold it against him should he laugh at it on her expense.
"Now, for something light-hearted: what do you like in a woman?"
And, teasing (always teasing), she added with a mischievous wink, "Better for me to find out so I might... get rid of whatever trait I carry that you might not like."