A little one-shot with my OC's Jake and Darra in response to the current challenge over at the OC Revolution. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jake blamed the shifting crowds around them for not noticing Darra's state of mind right away. He was used to interacting with her in quiet and solitude, just the two of them and nature. But this was the farthest thing he'd ever experienced from that. Even before everything went to hell they'd still had a fairly quiet life, and this was a bustling marketplace on a whole different planet. Even the air felt different, too dry. So if it took him longer than usual to realize that Darra was on the verge of explosion, well no one could really blame him. But once he did figure it out he acted quickly, guiding her out of the worst of the crowds and back into the semi-privacy of the docking slip where their guide's transport rested. Her blue eyes were wide, nostrils flared as her breathing came out harsh and shallow. He recognized the signs of a panic attack, though they'd only started after the two of them had figured out what had happened to their families. And even then they'd been rare. Still, if anything was going to set Darra off it would be this. She'd never done well with change. So he framed her face between two large hands and pressed his forehead to hers, staring straight into her eyes. “Breathe with me Dar, c'mon. Nice and easy.” He spoke softly and evenly, like they had all the time in the universe and there wasn't anything outside the two of them. His long fingers covered her ears, helping to muffle the sounds of the crowd as he brought her focus slowly around to just him. He kept talking, saying things along the same vein until she was matching her breathing to his and her trembling muscles started to relax. Eventually the tension melted away; her breathing and pulse evened out, and she came back to the here and now. He knew because there was a brief moment of complete relaxation in her lean frame pressed against his, something he only saw from her when the two of them were alone and knew they were relatively safe, before she pulled back and straightened. Her lips lightly brushed his palm as she did so in a silent thank you but once she was standing straight once more her expression was once again set to something cool and calculating. “We should catch up.” She said, turning and heading back out into the crowd to find one of the crew that had brought them from their home in order to have them meet with their superiors back in the core. But first they'd needed to stop for some supplies, getting off of their home planet had been harder in practice than it had seemed in theory. They found the pilot, Tobias, looking around for them anxiously and Jake reflexively smiled in reply to his relieved grin as he bounded over to them. The lanky young man was younger than them, somewhere around twenty cycles, and still had the enthusiasm of a young boy despite his job piloting recovery and aide missions to places savaged by the war. Inquisitive brown eyes jumped between the two of them before settling on Jake, knowing from the past few weeks of acquaintanceship that though Darra often took the lead when it came to anything tactical or survival related Jake was much more likely to answer questions and even hold a pleasant conversation. “You guys okay? Lila sent me back to find you, thought you mighta gotten lost.” Tobias asked, so casual about throwing his emotions out into the open that Jake could feel Darra bristle at his side. He let the back of his hand brush hers to calm her while giving the boy a smile. “Yeah, we got a little turned around. Not used to so many people you know?” He replied with a self-deprecating shrug, causing the lanky pilot to look a little sheepish. “Oh yeah...I'd kinda forgotten about that.” He admitted, and Jake could practically hear Darra trying not to roll her eyes beside him. In fact she turned to observe the crowd just to keep from chewing the kid out because she knew Jake wouldn't approve. Just like Jake would love to wrap an arm around her shoulders or even take her hand in his own, knowing the physical contact would help ease the shock for both of them of stepping into civilization after years living on their own, but he knew even better that Darra would reject anything that might display weakness to the people around them. They'd lived so long on the edge of survival that it would be hard for them to let go of those habits; if they ever could. But Tobias shrugged off his discomfort and waved towards the end of the open-air bazaar that the docking areas had opened onto. “C'mon, the rest of the team's over at the bar.” He said before leading the way through the crowds and towards a building with a lit-up sign done in shades of bright blue and green designed to catch the eye. They followed him, Darra wound up and watching everything with darting blue eyes as they walked while Jake did his best to emanate calm and keep her balanced. But when they step into the dim light of the drinking den he isn't surprised to feel her recoil at the new sounds and smells. They hadn't had much exposure to alcohol in their life, and the scent of it filled the building in several variations that made his nose crinkle. That plus the blast of noise from having so many beings in one space, all talking over one another, nearly sent Darra spiraling again. But his hands come up to rest on her shoulders, giving them a squeeze that allows her to center herself once more before she heads over to join Tobias and the others at a corner table they seem to have claimed. Joll, large and somber as always, gives them a nod of greeting as he sips from a tumbler of amber liquid. Next to him the Twi'lek who'd introduced himself to them as Sal smiled and raised his glass, filled with something almost painfully bright green, in their direction. Doctor Ilesar gave them a measuring look before returning to her conversation with the Jedi knight who had led their mission. Jedi Maris gave them a friendly smile, though it was a bit distracted as she nodded along to whatever the doctor was saying to her. Staying close to Darra as they sat Jake returned their silent greetings in kind, stretching his arm over the back of Darra's chair to comfort himself with her presence as much as to anchor her. It was definitely strange, being thrust back into life in the rest of the galaxy after so long on their own. But it was nice too, to know that life had gone on elsewhere. Even when they'd been the only ones left in their own home, others had been out here still living.