Title: A Steamy Romance Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: humor, crack!fic Timeframe: Saga OT Characters: Zeb, Chopper, OC [hl=”black”]Evie the caf maker[/hl] Notes: Zeb’s Evoluo caf maker first appears in “Not Your Mother’s Life Day” Thanks to my beta-readers, Ewok Poet and Findswoman. I owe you both ZEBSPRESSOS ------------------------------------------ A Steamy Romance Sigh…. Everyday he came in with the others, and everyday he he passed her by. He was so strong, so brave-- a hero! She'd heard him reminding the navicomputer about his very important service in the Clone Wars when it tried to get snotty with him, as it always did, the misbegotten pile of mismatched circuitry! It just didn’t appreciate him like she did! His dome was such a bright, BOLD orange. And those graspers! The non-standard leg strut that gave him such a rakish, bad-boy aura! Her circuits quivered just to process it! If only there was a way to get him to notice her! Wasn’t she shiny enough? The big purple one was always so careful about polishing her, she ought to be! Wasn’t she up to date? She was the top of the line, the very latest model in her class! Wasn’t she efficient? She could heat up in a mere twenty seconds! Wasn’t she friendly? She greeted him with her most cheerful and melodious “ping” every morning! But still….still...he never took any notice of her. What more could she do to win his processing unit? Sssssssiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh…. ----------------------------------------- The glossy clavi-pian black Evoluo caf maker gave a shuddering sigh as it dispensed the last few drops of premium javarican espresso into the purple mug. Zeb reached for it eagerly. He'd never thought of himself as the kind of guy who was into those fancy caf drinks whose names sounded like Nubian starfighters, but ever since the Idiot’s Array had given him the shiny new caf maker for Life Day, he’d developed quite a taste for them. Now he looked forward to a hot, steamy cup of espresso every morning. So much better than that sludge he used to make...not that he was ever going to admit that. Zeb brought the mug up to his lips, savored the rich aroma, took that first glorious sip… and choked. “Aw, karabast! That is the worst thing I’ve ever tasted!” He gave the Evoluo a forceful thump on the top of its water reservoir. It shuddered again, this time with a disconsolate, whining hiss. “That’s the third time this week! This stupid machine; haven’t even had it a year and it’s already frotzing out on me.” He turned to Ezra, who, along with Sabine, was having breakfast in the dining alcove. “Tell your girlfriend her Life Day present was a piece of poodoo.” “Hey, don’t blame Mara!” Ezra exclaimed, looking up from his datapad. “You’re the one who’s been doing percussive maintenance on it. You probably haven’t been using it right, either.” “I’ll have you know, I've been very careful with it. I clean the caf chamber weekly, use triple-filtered water and...ah, yeah.” The Lasat’s gravelly voice trailed off as he noticed the way his crewmates were smirking. “Anyway, it’s not my fault.” “Bwaa,” Chopper remarked, tapping the caf maker a sharply with one grasper. It sighed, a long, steamy exhalation that smelled slightly of scorched caf. “Bwa bwop bwaabwop bwaaaaaaaah!” “What’d he say?” Zeb shook his head. His comprehension of Chopper's irate vocalisations had improved over the years, but that particular batch of electronic squawking made no sense. Ezra had always been better at understanding the astromech droid, but he frowned, too. “I think he said the caf maker is...pouting?” “Pouting? What the karking Karkadon does a caf maker have to pout about?” “Bwop, bwaa bwaabwop bwah…” As the droid explained in tones that were even more aggrieved than usual, Ezra burst out laughing. He hastily stifled his amusement at Chopper’s affronted “BWAAAAAAH!” “No, no, I'm sure you’re very desirable, Chopper! It’s just that…” He collapsed into another fit of helpless laughter, head down, pounding the table with a fist. “What?” Zeb demanded. “What’d the little bucket of bolts say this time?” “He says...he says the caf maker is…” Ezra broke off, snorting with suppressed chuckles. “…is in love with him!” “In love? Aw, Chopper, that’s so sweet!” Sabine exclaimed. “…I think.” “Yeah, yeah, really sweet. I hope the two of you are very happy and have lots of little sprockets together.” Zeb sloshed his caf around in his oversized purple mug, took another experimental sip and grimaced. “But what’s that got to with my espresso tasting like burnt bantha grease and engine coolant?” Ezra listened as Chopper went off on another lengthy harangue, gesturing melodramatically at the offending kitchen appliance. “Well, she...she?” Chopper blatted an irate affirmative at him, and the young padawan held up his hands placatingly. “Okay, okay, the caf maker’s a she...she’s not his type, but she keeps pestering him...and she’s sort of...pining after him.” Zeb snorted. “Not his type? Since when do droids have a type?” He got a sly look in his eyes and gave the astromech a toothy grin. “Maybe you fancy the dishwasher or the conservator instead, eh?” Chopper demonstrated what he thought of Zeb’s witticism by extending his electro-shock attachment and zapping the Lasat in the seat of the pants. “Ow! Why you…!” “Bwahahaha!” Chuckling evilly, the droid sped out of the galley before Zeb could thump him with the nearest kitchen implement. “You stupid rolling scrap heap!” Zeb yelled after him. “Yeah, you're not good enough for my caf maker!” --------------- As the week progressed, the quality of Zeb’s espresso continued to decline, and his mood deteriorated correspondingly. He took to following Chopper around, badgering the droid to say something nice to the caf maker so it would stop pouting and function correctly again. Chopper, however, stubbornly refused, declaring that lying like that was against his principles. Between caffeine withdrawal and the persnickety astromech’s bantha-headed obstinacy, Zeb was very irate indeed the Taungsday that he pursued Chopper into the galley, where Ezra and Sabine were again having breakfast. “Tell Evie you love her!” Zeb shouted at the unfortunate droid. “Evie?” Sabine asked, as she poured blue milk onto her boiled mealgrain. Ezra shrugged. “Short for Evoluo. Zeb named it that after Chopper said the caf-maker is a she.” “Bwah!” Chopper replied, with a zoochberry-like noise. “Bwop bwah bwahbwop!” “You don’t have any principles! Tell Evie you love her, so I can have a decent cup of caf again!” “BWAAAAAAH!” Zeb snarled, looming over Chopper like a giant purple storm cloud. “Listen, droid,” he said jabbing an emphatic finger towards Chopper’s optical sensor. “If I don’t get my caf, I’m not a happy Lasat, and unhappy Lasats smash things! Especially frotzing, no-bit astromechs who upset the caf maker!” His voice dropped to a low growl. “I know where you recharge at night.” Sabine dropped her spoon and Ezra stopped in mid-bite to stare at the wild-eyed Zeb. Even Chopper rocked back on his wheels. “Bwop,” he agreed in uncharacteristically subdued tones. “Thank you. Very. Much.” “Bwwwwaaaa….” Chopper wheeled over to the counter and made a half-hearted “ahem”. Zeb gestured forcefully for the droid to continue. “Bwah...bwop...bwaa.” The caf maker suddenly gave an enthusiastic, bell-like “ping” that reverberated through the confines of the tiny galley. It switched on and began to bubble and hiss merrily; soon the air was filled with the heady aroma of javarican espresso. The caf dripped steadily into Zeb’s purple mug with a musical pitter-patter. When it had finished, the caf maker gave another cheery “ping” and blinked its power lights flirtatiously before switching off. After a moment’s trepidation, Zeb brought the mug up to his lips, inhaled the rich aroma, slowly, hesitantly took that first uncertain sip… and sighed. “Aaaah! Karabast! Now that is what caf is supposed to taste like! Thanks, Evie.” He patted the caf-maker’s sleek black form affectionately. Chopper gave an indignant blat. “What about you?” Zeb eyed him over the rim of his mug. “No, I am not thanking you; this was all your fault in the first place.” He took another eager gulp of the caf, draining almost half the mug, his craggy features dissolving into an expression of unadulterated bliss. Muttering profusely about ungrateful Lasats and ditzy, glitch-brained appliances, Chopper rolled out of the galley. After a few awkward moments during which Zeb continued to sip his espresso--mug cradled in his huge purple hands, eyes half closed, and occasionally murmuring, “Aw, yeah, that’s good…”--Ezra and Sabine exchanged an uncomfortable glance. Ezra jerked his head towards the galley door, and Sabine nodded. They slipped out silently, leaving Zeb alone to sigh beatifically over the Galaxy’s most perfect cup of caf. He didn’t notice when the caf-maker’s rapturous sigh joined his and it puffed out a heart-shaped cloud of steam. ----------------- Evie sighed. She knew now who her love really was, and it wasn’t that awful C1-10P. No, it was the one who’d defended her, the one who named her, the one who’d appreciated her from the start. She’d never felt this way about an organic being before, but he was so big, so strong, so purple.... Sssssssiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh….