Okay, so it's a little late for a heartwarming holiday story, but here goes anyway Doran Blayne hated Life Day. Oh, when he'd been a youngling, he'd loved the sparkly lights and decorations at the Jedi Temple and the sweets and little gifts the masters gave to their clan members. When he grew older, the endless philosophical discussions about appropriating Wookiee culture, and whether Jedi even needed a special day to celebrate the unity of life-- and if so, whether it should be celebrated with tinsel bombs and wookiee cookies-- rather took off some of the luster. When he was grown and on the run from the Empire, the emphasis on family and friends only served to remind Doran of all the friends he'd lost in the Jedi Purge and the family he'd never see again. He'd refused to let Sascha decorate the Cafe Alderaan, on the grounds that it was an Outer Rim bar where beings went to get drunk and conduct not-quite legal activities, not some prissy Core World tap cafe. She'd kept carping at him to at least let her put up a few streamers until Doran had informed the bartender that he' d planned to give everyone the day off, but if she didn't stop bothering him, he was likely to change his mind. Sascha was full of Life Day spirit after that. When Life Day dawned, Doran had the silent Cafe all to himself. He spent the day playing solitaire and watching so-bad-they-were-good old holo-thrillers like "Gar-Jen Vs. Gargantua," happy that he could avoid the whole sappy mess of a holiday. He was surprised when, just after dinner, there was a short tap at the Cafe's back door. Prefect Raissa Baiard was there, wearing a traditional red Life Day tunic, red ribbons plaited into her auburn braid. She carried a large, plasti-wrapped tray of baked goods, and her pet roba, who went by the well-deserved name of Frugly, sat next to her, wagging his stumpy tail. The roba was also wearing a jaunty red collar. "Happy Life Day, Doran." She held out the platter. "I brought Wookiee cookies. They're my mother's recipe." "Um, yeah. I don't really do Life Day, Baiard." Doran trailed her into the cantina and slid the tray onto the bar. "Anyway, shouldn't you be out celebrating with your friends and family, and all that warm and fuzzy poodoo?" Baiard's festive smile slid sideways. She sank down onto a barstool and fussed with the plasti wrap over the platter. "Look, I know you think it's a silly holiday, but Life Day's always been a big deal to me. My family used to do the whole old fashioned Life Day. Mom would make Wookiee cookies and Hoth chocolate, Dad would set off tinsel bombs, and my sister and I would have snowball fights." She picked up a cookie and stared at it. "This is the first year I haven't been able to get back to Bel Luar for the holidays. I talked to my family over the Holonet, but it isn't the same." Baiard toyed with the cookie for moment, then sighed and tossed it to Frugly, who caught it with a snap. "I figured I should at least spend the holiday with my friends." The sarcastic comment Doran was about to make about being in such illustrious company died on his lips as he realized Baiard was being quite literal. He and the ugly roba really were her only friends here on Merkesh. It spoke volumes about both Merkesh City and Imperial prejudices that the owner of the city's marginally more reputable cantina had more friends than she did. "Hoth chocolate, huh?" he said instead. "I think we might have the ingredients in the kitchen. Come on." The Cafe's kitchen was small but serviceable, and though its selection was limited, Doran found the sugar and cocoa easily enough. "Well, no tauntaun's milk, so it won't really be Hoth chocolate," he said, checking the refrigerator. "Guess we'll just have to make hot chocolate, Corellian style, instead." Baiard raised an eyebrow at him. "Corellian style?" "We like to add a little enhancement." Doran grinned as he pulled out a bottle of his favorite Corellian whiskey. "I should've known," Baiard said, shaking her head. "You really should have," Doran agreed. He measured out the ingredients, stirred them together in a saucepan and set it to boil on the cook plate. "Should only take a few minutes." "I didn't know you could cook," Baiard observed. "You always struck me as the kind of bachelor who lives off spacer's rations." "You'll find I have many hidden talents, my dear," Doran told her, raising his eyebrows suggestively. Baiard rolled her eyes, but she laughed anyway. He gave the hot chocolate a stir. "I never figured you for the kind of woman who bakes cookies, so I guess we're both just full of surprises." "Speaking of surprises, I got you a little something," Baiard said. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small cloth bag tied with a red ribbon. "Happy Life Day." Doran reluctantly took the bag; exchanging gifts was awkward enough when you were prepared for them. Still, he didn't want to seem ungrateful, so he untied the bow an emptied the little bag into the palm of his hand. An uncut gem the size of a yub nut tumbled out. "A little something?" Doran spluttered. "Baiard, this is an Adegan crystal!" He stared down at the gem, which shone a deep, lambent green, even brighter than the one he'd had in his lightsaber, the one he'd sold to buy a new identity and a new life. Doran touched it with a cautious tendril of the Force. It was flawless, its crystalline structure perfectly ordered, and it resonated in the Force like a silvery chime. It was the crystal every Jedi dreamed of finding for their lightsaber, and it was worth a small fortune on the black market now that the Empire had interdicted their possession. And Baiard had given it to him as a Life Day present. She watched him anxiously as he gazed at it. Next to her, Frugly whined. "I hope you like it. I wasn't sure it was what you needed to fix your lightsaber," Baiard spoke into his silence. "I found it in one of Renau's secret caches. It should have been in the evidence locker but due to a 'clerical error' it wasn't listed in the log. You'd be surprised how many clerical errors we have at the garrison..." Her voice trailed off, waiting. He looked up. "I don't have anything for you, Baiard." He supposed he could offer her choice of the Cafe's stock, but that seemed like such a small and tacky gesture after she'd just given him a treasure. Baiard sighed and shook her head. "Please, Doran. You think I'd only give you a gift because I wanted something in return? Life Day isn't just about presents. It's about spending time with your friends and family and showing them how much you care...and, good skies, I sound like I just stepped out of some sentimental old Life Day holo-vid!" She picked up a spoon and gave the hot chocolate an experimental stir. "I think it's ready." Doran carefully poured the hot liquid into two mugs and added a dollop of Corellian whiskey to each. "Cheers, Baiard." She took a cautious sip and raised her eyebrows. "It's actually not bad." Suddenly, Baiard laughed. "What's so funny?" "I was just thinking-- I'm spending my Life Day in a cantina with a fugitive Jedi and a pygmy roba, drinking spiked hot chocolate and handing out stolen goods as presents. Not exactly the kind of old-fashioned holiday they make sentimental holo-vids about." Doran laughed, too. "No. Not exactly." Baiard smiled as she raised her mug. "Happy Life Day, Doran." He clinked glasses with her. "Happy Life Day." And for once, it was. Notes: Wookiepedia's article on the celebration of Life Day, including Wookiee cookies and Hoth Chocolate. You can find a recipe for Wookiee cookies in The Star Wars Cookbook. They're double chocolate chip with cinnamon and vanilla-- very tasty Gar Jen Vs. Gargantua"