Title: Even Ground Author: brodiew Characters: Ben Skywalker, Vestara Kai, Luke Skywalker. Genre: budding romance. Summany: Luke offers Ben some advice about relationships and Ben tries to put it into practice. Author Note: This is fic-gift response for @devilinthedetails. I hope she likes it. Spoiler Her request was: A story in Beyond Legends Three things I would like in my fic gift are: Ben and Vestara banter, Ben/Vestara romance, and Luke and Ben bonding. One thing I don't want in my fic gift is an evil Vestara. I'd prefer a Vestara committed to overcoming her Sith tendencies. The main characters I want for my fic gift are Ben, Vestara, and Luke. A character I wouldn't want in my gift would be Abeloth. Shout out to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for providing the prompt 'passing each other in the hall' which set this fic on its path. Even Ground The main cabin of the Jade's Shadow was rather spacious, but with two teenagers charged with physical attraction, and still somewhat divided by their opposing beliefs about the Force, it felt more cramped than it was. Luke Skywalker wasn't sure if he wanted to smile or frown as he watched his son, Ben, and their tag along Sith Apprentice, Vestara Kai, stalk each other like a couple of hungry panthacs. Vestara had been with them long enough to make a decision to shed her Sith ideals and learn more about the light side of the Force. Luke had been distrustful of her, at first, and even now, watched her closely for signs of deception. Ben, who obviously found her alluring, was ready to swallow her professed desire to be good, hook, line, and sinker, bore close watching as well. There was a certain cuteness to their dance. Ben pretending offense at her every challenge and she deliberately pushing his buttons simply to get a rise out of him. Luke decided to offer some advice, in private, by asking Ben to join him in the cockpit. Taking his seat casually, Luke eyed Ben as he entered the compartment. “How's it going out there, Son?” Ben reflexively touched his lightsaber, hanging at his belt and shifted his weight from foot to foot. “Dad she is beautiful and smart and maddening at the same time. We can't seem to find any common ground because all this Light and Dark is sitting on our sleeves and it's itching so bad I can't ignore it. I asked her what her favorite color was and guess what she said?” “Red?” Luke replied though a knowing smile. “Right!” Ben said in frustration. “Red. Really, Dad? Red.” “It is the color of her lightsaber. Be thankful she didn't say black.” Ben cocked his head as the color rose in his neck. “You too, Dad? I need some real help here.” “I know,” Luke said. “I'm sorry. Maybe you should lower your defenses and she will lower hers. It might take some time, but you each need to get out of your own way so that you can see each other clearly.” “That sounds great, but it's not as easy to get out my own way when she is attacking everything I stand for. I want to defend myself and I won't be bested by her sharp tongue.” Luke sat back in the pilot's chair and stroked his chin as there was no beard for him to stroke. Perhaps, it was time to grow one. Obi-Wan's beard- “Search your feelings, Ben,” Luke said, calmly. “Remember that the Force is your ally and that your desire pace her barbs is allowing even the smallest Darkness to creep in. Take a deep breath. Feel the Force flowing through you. My advice would be to approach her peacefully and take a few of shots, but don't defend yourself. Broach another subject. Talk about something something else. But, if the conversation leads to another sticking point, let it pass.” “You're telling me to just let her disrespect the Light?” Ben said, shaking his head in disbelief. Not so much disbelief, Luke could sense, but consternation at hearing something he didn't like. “I'm telling you, Son, that if you like this girl, fighting with her will get you nowhere. Nowhere good anyway.” “Dad, I've seen enough holos to know that the kind fighting we are doing is about sexual tension, foreplay. You and Mom fought on Myrkr, didn't you? And the rest is history.” Luke rose from his chair. “I'm going to pretend you didn't say that first part. The second part, about your Mother, is much more complicated and you know it. We didn't jump into the bunk after the battle with C'Baoth. Years passed. Come on, Ben. Get over the romantic butterflies and go out there and be nice to her now matter what she says.” Ben blew out a breath, closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply, drawing on the Force for true peace and thicker skin when it came to the brown haired, brazen, beauty in the main cabin. Two weeks later... The planet Klungor was not a scheduled stop on Luke and Ben's quest, but it was a much needed one. Though Ben had taken his father's advice, and with good success, cabin fever had risen and some fresh air was needed. Klungor's capital city of Hollipot provided numerous distractions, from arena games to fun parks to fine dining to live and holo theater and everything in between. Ben had been wanting to take Vestara on a proper date, though he would never tell his father that was what it was. We're just going to hang out what was he told his father. Luke gave his best dubiously playful stare and explained he would be researching Force practices on the planet while they had their fun. After leaving the spaceport, Ben and Vestara walked along a boardwalk that looked over a river. The sun was shining, the temperature was just right, there was a light breeze, and he was with a girl he liked very much. The last two weeks had not been easy. Finding his peace was not a one time things. It was constant. It was not that Vestara was unbearably nerve wracking, it was more about seeking understanding in a way that he had to actively set aside his own prejudices; his own preconceived notions about the Sith, about women, and sometimes even about what he held most dear, The Force. As they walked in companionable silence, Vestara took his hand. He jerked it away instinctively, surprised by the contact. “My, my,” Vestara said, pointedly, defenses up after his rejection. “Touchy much?” “I just wasn't expecting you to touch me. That's all,” Ben said, reaching for the hand she had just offered. She didn't jerk it away, but neither did she allow him to take it. His embarrassment rose, causing him to internally kick himself for flinching at her touch. He wanted to press getting her hand, to make her given him another chance, NOW. However, his Dad's voice won out. Be nice. “I'm sorry. What would you like to do?” “Don't sweat it, Jedi,” Vestara said, playfully. “I wasn't going to arm lock you or anything.” “I know,” Ben replied. “I would not have allowed it.” Stang! Keep your tongue under control, Ben. “That may be so, but you still would have ended up on your back,” she countered. “Would that be so bad?” Ben said. “On a day like today, laying in the grass and letting the sun warm our faces sounds like a great idea.” “That would be require me to be on my back as well. I don't think so.” “The position too vulnerable for you? To open to attack?” She glanced sideways at him. “Perhaps.” “You have nothing to fear from me,” Ben said, truthfully. “No one else knows we're here. So, what attack could you possibly fear?” “Not all attacks come from the outside, Ben,” Vestara replied. “Is it possible that I fear how I might respond to you?” “I'm not sure what you mean?” Ben replied, confused. “Accessing the light side of the Force has opened up a whole new world to me; a way of seeing things that conflicts with my tradition. As a Sith, I could seduce you for selfish or strategic means, but it would never be about true feelings. Even love and marriage are things that always have ulterior motives. Nothing is ever true. Other that what is known. Sith seek for themselves. Seek to dominate. Seek to control. I might have wanted to control you before. Use you, but now the attraction I have for you is strange. I don't want to hurt you or deceive you. I want it to be real.” Ben stopped walking and turned to her. He took her hand, which, this time, she did not remove. “I can see how such feelings would be strange; like you can't trust them. But believe me, Vestara you can. Love, at least as I have seen from my parents and their friends, is about being selfless. It is about putting the other person, the one you love, above yourself. I sound like my dad, but I think that is a good thing. I know we are not in love, but what I think we are feeling is attraction. I like you. I think you like me. We find out more about each other. We experience things together.” “Why do I feel like you are talking to me like a child? And, why don't I care.” “Because you like me, too, and what I'm saying is making sense in a weird way.” “Maybe,” she said, meeting his blue eyes. “It is definitely not love. A little premature bringing that into the equation. But I do see what you are saying. Selflessness is a concept that is so foreign to me. There was no place for such weakness back home, no room for anything but oneself and the Tribe.” “We might be young, but we have been raised in battle. Wars all the time. There is just too much Galactic drama. So, how about we do something fun and go lay in the sun. No expectations. No drama. Just two people enjoying each others company.” “I think that would be okay, but we best not do it for long,” Vestara said, jokingly. “I wouldn't either of use to to burst into flames.” “You are right about,” Ben said with a laugh and offered her his hand again. She took it and the newly reformed Sith and the Jedi walked hand in hand toward the lush, tree lines expanse of the park.