Title: A Different Side of You Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: Romance, humor, AU Characters: Wren Ordo (OC), Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono, Bellona Ordo (OC), various other OCs Timeframe: Circa 28 ABY, in the Marzra-verse continuity Synopsis: Wren spends a vacation with Kaz on his homeworld of Hosnian Prime, and must deal with navigating Hosnian society, meeting his friends, and attending a formal party in (gasp) a fancy dress! Notes: Written for the OTP Return of Rom-com in Space challenge. My prompts were “awkward meeting” and “childhood friends”. Thank you to @Findswoman for beta-reading ——- Part One The comm unit on Wren’s desk chimed and began playing the opening notes of “I’m a Perceiver” by The Monongs, a perky, pre-fabbed sparkle-bop band of non-threatening guys. While that sort of thing wasn’t her usual style, Kaz liked them. And she had to admit that their music was cheerful, upbeat, and almost impossible to get out of your mind—much like Kaz himself, which made the song perfect for his personal comm-tone. Maybe that was silly, and maybe her so-sophisticated older sister was beyond such things, but the idea that she had a boyfriend to assign a personal comm-tone to still made Wren ridiculously happy some days. She stretched across her bed and flipped the unit on. “Hey, ad’ika!” “Wren!” The image of Kaz dressed in his blue cadet’s uniform shimmered to life. Behind him, Wren could make out the vague shapes of the other comm-booths at the New Republic Flight Academy’s comm-center, where the cadets could go to comm their families and friends for a limited time each week. Kaz smiled and leaned towards his comm-unit as if by doing so he could get closer to her. “So, hey, I have some great news—I’m going to be off for fete week pretty soon and Mother finally convinced Father to let me invite you to stay with us—if you want to and if your parents say it’s okay. Mother’s supposed to be messaging your mom to let her know everything’ll be proper and chaperoned and all that.” Wren rolled her eyes. “Like we need chaperoning.” “Chaperone” was such an aruetii concept. Any Mando girl old enough to wear beskar’gam was capable of fending off unwanted advances in a number of highly effective ways—not that she thought that Kaz would put that kind of move on her. “I mean, we lived in the same apartment on Korriban for months and nothing happened!” Well, okay Ro and Noemi and Humoo had been there too, but still… She and Kaz had never sneaked off to the laundering unit or anything like that, though she knew for a fact that Ro and Noemi had been snogging down there at least once. “I know, right?” Kaz replied. “Anyway, I hope your parents will say it’s okay. We’ll be staying in the villa in the Crystal Dunes, so we can go sand surfing and swimming and sailing! And Equinox Day falls during fete week this year, so there’ll be the big sunsail race and bonfires. The parties are going to be huge!” His face lit up with anticipation as he ticked off the list of activities, each one more enthusiastically than the last. And Wren thought at first that the flicker in his joyous smile was some technical glitch in the transceiver until he said hesitantly, “There’s just one thing that might be a tiny problem…. The Mondavi family always has this big party for the Equinox, and my family always goes, but it’s kind of, well, formal….” “Okay…” She didn’t see the problem with that. True, they didn’t have the kind of super-fancy type parties here on Ordo that were probably ten a deci-cred on Coruscant or Hosnian Prime, and true, noble titles didn’t mean quite the same thing to Mandalorians as they did to other cultures in the Republic, but Wren had been to the Clan meets and she was the daughter of the Marquis and Marchioness Ordo, and a descendent of Mand’alor the Preserver. She knew how to represent her clan with dignity and honor. She could get through some frou-frou evening of cocktails and light refreshments without embarrassing herself. Kaz shifted a little in his seat, fidgeting with his collar as if it was suddenly too tight. “So the girls usually wear...fancy dresses…” “Oh.” That was…different. Did Mandos even wear dresses? Maybe a nice kama for special occasions—wedding feasts or clan meets or things like that—but a dress? No. How were you even supposed to move in all that fabric anyway? It was just impractical. Her dismay at the idea must have shown, because Kaz hastened to assure her, “We don’t have to go. I… I bet I can convince Mother to let us stay home with GeeVee that night. No big deal.” But it was a big deal. Wren wasn’t a Jedi like most of her Spectre cousins, so she couldn’t sense the emotions of someone two systems away (or even sitting next to her, but whatever), but she knew Kaz well enough to notice the little slump to his shoulders, the stammer and the tiny pause that wasn’t quite a sigh. This party was important to him—tradition, maybe or perhaps this Mondavi family was allied with his. Maybe this was even the Hosnian high society equivalent of a clan meet. But whatever the reason, it obviously meant a lot to him. And if it did… Wren loved Kaz, absolutely. She knew some people just didn’t get it, because in some ways he was about as far from Mandalorian as you could possibly get. His marksmanship skills were adequate at best, and he had a habit of tripping over nothing at all. But that didn’t matter, because he was sweet and brave and honorable, and that counted for more than firearms accuracy or athletic prowess. He loved her, too, and that was the most amazing thing of all. Kaz was the first person who’d ever looked at her and seen something special, and he went out of his way to let her know how he felt. He’d practiced his marksmanship incessantly to get from “can barely hit the target” to “adequate at best” for her. He’d learned bits and pieces of Mando’a for her. So, if this party and wearing the requisite fancy dress were important to Kaz, how could she do any less for him? It was one night, maybe a couple of hours. It wouldn’t kill her. Probably. Wren waved a hand in what she hoped was a convincingly dismissive manner. “No. No that’s fine; a dress is no big deal.” She was rewarded with one of his biggest, brightest smiles. “Awesome! Aw, this is going to be epic, Wren! I can’t wait to show you...everything!” He launched into a vivid description of the Crystal Dunes, their beauty and all the recreational activities available there. Wren got caught up in his enthusiasm, and it was only after their allotted comm time had run out and he’d signed off with “Good night, Senaar’ika” that it hit her what she’d agreed to. A dress. A fancy dress. How did one even go about obtaining such a thing? Wren had no idea, but she knew who would. Bellona was in her studio, of course. She was in Full Art Mode—hunched over a sheaf of designs, hair pulled back in a messy equine-tail, a smudge of charcoal on her nose—and Wren very nearly turned around because interrupting Bellona when she was in Art Mode was as unpredictable as poking a sleeping anooba. You might get a yawn, you might get snapped at, but you wouldn’t know which until it was too late. This was important, though. For Kaz. She took a deep breath. “I need your help.” Bellona turned around. Her perfectly arched eyebrows were raised; there was a sparkle in her eyes and a wicked grin on her lips. “Say that again?” So that was how this was going to go. For Kaz, Wren reminded herself. She was doing this for him. “I. Need. Your help.” She ground the words out even though it pained her soul to have to grovel to her sister that way. “That’s what I thought you said.” Bellona’s grin widened. She swept her stack of flimsi to the side and leaned forward on her drafting desk, brushing a strand of electric blue hair out of her face. “Okay, vod’ika. What can I do for you?” Wren gave her a quick summary of Kaz’s call, his invitation and the fancy party for which a dress was unfortunately necessary. “…and I figured since you have this whole fashion thing figured out, maybe you could help me come up with something that won’t be too horrible.” “Are you kidding? You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to put you in something pretty for a change!” Bellona’s smile was at Loth-cat proportions now, which Wren didn’t find terribly reassuring. She wasn’t sure how much overlap there was between her definition of “not horrible” and her sister’s of “pretty”. Maybe she’d be better off doing this on her own. But Bellona wasn’t about to give her a chance to back out; she relocated a box of colored pencils and a dog-eared sketchbook from a nearby stool to a shelf. “Sit,” she commanded Wren, and snagged her datapad from the other side of the table. Her fingers skipped over the touchscreen and the logo for Lorrd and Tey’lur’s, an upscale department store that Wren recognized from the times they’d visited Coruscant for Mom’s exhibitions, flashed up. “So, what are we thinking of?” Bellona asked as she summoned up a row of models dressed in various styles and colors of gowns. “Long? Short? Sleeves? Straps? Strapless?” Wren stared at the improbably tall, impossibly thin figures as they posed and turned on the screen, showing off every angle of their dresses. Showing off every angle of themselves. She squirmed, making the stool wobble perilously on its uneven legs. “I don’t know. I mean—” Wren poked a finger at a Zabrak wearing a low-cut gown with a voluminous purple skirt. “—How do you even walk in that? Wouldn’t your legs just get tangled up in all that fabric? And you’d be cold in that one!” She jabbed at Twi’lek whose magenta dress didn’t even reach her knees. “Everyone would be looking at your legs! Oh…” Wren was hit with the sudden realization that if—when—she wore a dress to the party, people would be looking at her legs. Maybe even Kaz. Maybe especially Kaz. “Oh, Mand’alor…” Her sister laughed—laughed!—as a hot flush warmed Wren’s cheeks and crept up the back of her neck. “You don’t think Kaz hasn’t already noticed your legs? The pants you wear aren’t exactly baggy coveralls.” She patted Wren’s knee. “You have good legs, you know. You might as well show them off.” Wren jerked her leg back. “Let’s just focus on the matter at hand,” she said with a determination that Uncle Kanan would have been proud of. For Kaz, she told herself again. She was doing this for him, so let Bellona snigger if she wanted to, because in the end it would make him happy. There followed one of the most excruciating hours Wren had ever spent that did not involve dental procedures. Bellona called up an endless parade of designer dresses in every color of the rainbow and some that weren’t. Sparkly dresses. Ruffly dresses. Shimmery, shiny, sequin-y dresses. High-necked, low cut, strapless, backless—some that almost seemed frontless! Dresses with gigantic puffy sleeves, dresses with tiny, useless sleeves barely worth the name. High-low hems. Princess necklines. Empire waists. And every. Possible. Permutation thereof, until Wren wondered if this was one of the nine hells that Corellians claimed or if she’d wandered into some fresh level of torment. “This is hopeless!” she cried at last, dropping her head to the table. “None of these are me!” Bellona blew out a deep breath and rubbed the bridge of her nose like she was getting a headache. She closed her eyes, and for a moment she had the same expression that Ronen wore when he was doing one of his Jedi calming exercises—emotion, yet peace; Wren, yet serenity. Bellona opened one eye and regarded Wren speculatively. “Well, there is one way for you to have a dress that’s really you… I’ll design it for you.” “What?!” Okay, Bellona was an artist and she designed jewelry and all that, but a dress? For Kaz’s fancy party? She didn’t know if she wanted to give her sister that much power over her fate. “Have you ever even done something like this before?” Bellona tsk-ed and waved away Wren’s objection. “No, but it won’t be that hard. Mom designed Aunt Hera’s wedding gown. I’m sure she’ll be able to give me a few pointers.” That, Wren thought, put a new spin on things. She’d seen the old holos of Aunt Hera’s wedding; her gown was, as those types of things went, not terrible. It was simple and elegant and it looked like it belonged on her, not just the way it fit, but the style, the colors, the design were all Aunt Hera. Wren trusted Mom not to let Bellona put her in something that made her look like an absolute besom. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but fine.” “Great!” Bellona grinned triumphantly and ruffled Wren’s choppy hair until it stood out in a dozen random directions. “I’m going to make you beautiful, vod’ika! ———— Notes: Mando’a terms Ad’ika: literally, “small child”, but in this context, more like “hey, baby” Aruetii: outsider, non-Mando Vod’ika: little sibling, little sis Besom: person with poor manners and/or hygiene. Oaf, doofus. Lorrd and Tey’lur’s: fanon department store, originally appeared in “Something Unexpected” Equinox Day: a major holiday on Hosnian Prime. Aunt Hera’s wedding dress: See “And They Lived Happily Ever After” for the story.