It started with girls.
About once a week, sometimes twice, Luke could get away from the farm to meet Biggs. When they had fuel to spare, they would race their speeders. When they didn't, which was all too often, they would sit in the shade of Biggs's bedroom and drink the olbrew that Biggs filched from his father's storeroom. It was thin and sour but it went to their heads and made them feel like men.
And they would talk about girls.
Sexy Camie, spunky Lane, scary Nula, giggling Mim, and any other female creatures they could claim to have scraped an acquaintance with. Who was hot (Camie), who was easy (Lane), who they would do (all of them), and how likely it was to ever happen (variable depending on the amount of olbrew consumed).
This particular afternoon the olbrew was plentiful and the mood was mixed: gleeful (Biggs) and sullen (Luke). Only two days before, Biggs and Luke had met up with Camie and Mim at Toshi Station and Camie had taken Luke's hand and pulled him around back of the building. One thing might have led to another, but for some reason, it didn't and Luke had left abruptly, red-faced and heavy on the throttle.
Biggs took a swig of his olbrew. "Mim told me--"
"Shut up." Luke thought he should have known better than to come here so soon after the...incident.
"She told me that Camie told--"
"Shut up!" Luke could feel a blush starting to creep up his neck and he hunched his shoulders.
"--told her that you kissed like--"
"Shut up, you bastard!"
"--like a cleaning droid unclogging a dust vent."
Luke made a rude gesture, then drank morosely. "She said that?"
"She did, my friend." Biggs grinned. "I'm only telling you this for your own good."
Luke scowled. If he had had less olbrew, he would have tackled Biggs at this point and had a mock scrap, which he would have won. If he had had more olbrew, he would have punched Biggs and had a real fight, which he would have lost. But at this precise stage of adolescent inebriation, he was seized by overwhelming self-pity, a morbid sense of his own utter uselessness, and a chilling vision of his eventual destiny: the tedious life of a sad, bitter failure, alone, unwanted, and unloved.
"Well, what am I supposed to do?" he said.
"Just...you know. Kiss."
Luke narrowed his eyes. "'You know?' How many girls have you kissed?"
"A few," Biggs said. "You know."
"Girls." Biggs turned away to get another olbrew. He handed one to Luke.
"Sure." Luke opened the olbrew and stared at it. "It's just...how do I know what to do? It thought it would be easy but it's not."
"Ask your uncle. I'm sure he'd have lots of tips for you."
"It's a problem," Biggs said. "Maybe we could..."
"Maybe we could practice."
"You know," Biggs said. "Practice. On each other."
The olbrew stopped halfway to Luke's mouth and Luke's mouth stopped halfway open. "Each other?"
"It doesn't mean anything," Biggs said. "I don't want to kiss you. It's just...you know."
"Practice," Luke said.
Luke really couldn't tell if this was the most stupid or most brilliant idea Biggs had ever come up with. Probably stupid. He would tell Biggs to forget it. But then Luke remembered Camie pushing him away and laughing in his face.
So long as they didn't want to kiss each other. "All right, then."
Biggs looked surprised. "All right."
Then they just sat there and practiced drinking for a while instead.
"Well?" Luke said finally.
Biggs took one more swig and set down his olbrew. He scooted over. "Uh...here goes." He moved in and his face got bigger and bigger as it got closer to Luke. Luke wanted to close his eyes to block out the sight, but he thought that maybe it would be useful to see what was going on. Finally, Biggs's mouth bumped up against Luke's and they mashed their lips together for a while.
It was pretty bad. Clearly, they both had a lot of work to do.
"Your nose was all squished up against mine," Luke said.
"Your lips are all rubbery," Biggs said. "But you don't really kiss like a cleaning droid."
Luke snorted. "This time, tilt your head so your big nose doesn't get in the way."
"You should open your mouth a bit and move your lips differently."
"You know," Biggs said. He moved in again and this time they both angled their heads. The same way.
"Ow!" Luke rubbed his nose. "Here, let me do it." He grabbed Biggs by the chin to hold him still, then slanted his head for the approach. So far so good. When they made contact, Luke tried to move his lips "differently", whatever that meant. Biggs's lips were sort of firm and partly open and moving in and out a bit. Luke tried to copy him.
That was definitely better. They were more in sync now and it didn't feel like a strange and impossible thing. It felt pretty good, actually. For practice.
Only it kept going on. How did you know when to stop a kiss? There didn't seem to be a good way, so Luke just pulled back finally. He got a good look at Biggs gaping like a fish for a second.
"Better?" Luke said.
"Yeah, not bad." Biggs rubbed the back of his mouth with his hand. "Not so rubbery this time."
Luke socked Biggs in the arm. Biggs socked him back and they tussled until Biggs banged his knee on the bedpost and Luke scraped his elbow on the floor.
"One more time," Biggs said and they were kissing again. Luke opened his mouth wider this time and kissed a little deeper. Biggs's mouth was wet and bitter from the olbrew. Luke swiped his tongue on the inside of Biggs's lip and Biggs put his hand on Luke's arm.
When they finally pulled away, Luke felt a bit funny. A bit embarrassed and ... funny. "All right, then," he said.
"All right." Biggs moved so they weren't touching any longer. "I think we got it."
"I should go." Luke stood. His mouth was tingling and his lips felt puffy.
"See you," Biggs said. He sort of glanced at Luke, then looked away.
The next time Luke saw Camie, he pulled her off where it was private and he kissed her. She seemed to like it.
Luke wasn't so sure he did.