Eyes like chips of shattered glass reflecting the sea of Manaan – so calm, so calm.
Huh, he was one to talk. Flip. Flip. Flip – the constant shuffle of cards in his head, the pure emotion that absorbed and blocked reality better than a Mandalorian shield. Crouched beside her in the Ebon Hawk’s engine room, he grinned and allowed a wave of pure lust to wash over him as he watched her lips – delicate pink – pursed over a buggy motivator in T3’s chassis.
She felt it. He knew she did, just as he knew that she would shy away from it instead of digging deeper. Too deep. He waited for the calm lift of her pale eyebrow and the subtle shift of her body away from him.
Instead, he found those shattered eyes turned on him, a vertical furrow between her brows.
“Do not. Please.”
“I … um…what?” His very best lopsided, ‘who-me?’ grin masked his astonishment. It wasn’t like her to confront his baser urges. She usually gave them – and him – wide berth, no doubt chanting that damned Jedi mantra There is no passion, there is serenity throughout the whole ordeal.
But now, now those eyes were boring into him. Those lips were pressed tightly together. She closed up T3’s front panel and sent the little droid on its way.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he leered at her, filling his own mind with lurid images he’d collected in their time together – her backside in form-fitting Echani fibre armour, the peek he’d had of her thigh on Telos, the solid lines of muscle in her belly that did nothing to diminish the soft curves of her appeal in that ridiculous Twi’lek dancer’s outfit …
“Stop it!” Her voice cracked out like a whip, ripping through his mind, snapping his head back. “Just … stop it.”
She closed her eyes through two deep breaths. When she opened them again, her face was calm.
“Look Atton, I trust you. I do. Can you trust me?”
“What? I do. Of course … don’t know why though, dragging me through all corners of the galaxy...”
“… Uh – I mean, yeah. I trust you.”
“You have to trust me, Atton. You have to trust that I would never enter your mind without your permission.” Her eyes met his, and he found himself gasping for air. “I’m very grateful that you’ve chosen to share some of your secrets with me – that you’ve trusted me what that pain. I would never ask for more than you would give me willingly.”
“I … umm … okay?” Brilliant, Atton. No wonder your charm is legendary. What the frack is going on??? He turned away from her eyes, feeling defenceless – naked.
“I know what you’re doing. You told me, remember?” Now, she looked away, staring sightlessly at the cold, curved ceiling of the Hawk. “It’s really quite clever. Emotional overload to keep people – to keep Jedi – away from your truths. But, please, please stop what you’re doing to me.”
He turned back to her and wished he hadn’t. There were tears in her eyes. Tears?! Cora Saris didn’t cry. Cora Saris didn’t raise her voice. Cora Saris didn’t sweat, tremble before battle or breathe hard afterwards. As far as Atton could tell, 'the General' never displayed anything but cool, calm decision and precise, lethal efficiency.
Lies! He knew what swirled around her – pain, fear, trust, guilt, desperation. He could feel it – always.
“Hey. Don’t. Look. I’m sorry, okay? I think it’s just reflex, some times – when I’m thinking something I know I shouldn’t be.” He hunched his shoulders deeper into his jacket. “I didn’t know it was that bad.”
To be honest, he’d kind of thought of it as a private joke between the two of them – this push and pull of emotion – her steady in the face of his uncontrolled passion, him always trying to chip away at her control. I guess I finally chipped too hard, and I didn’t like what came out.
“That bad, huh?”
He sat back on his heels, wrestled with guilt and embarrassment and a bit of anger. I didn’t know my attention was so disgusting. Ah, well, there’s always pazaak – flip the two for 12, flip the seven for 19. Stand.
“Oh, don’t. Just don’t.” She dug her palms into her eyes. “Do what you must, but just … stop using me to hide behind. Stop taunting me with those false emotions. You think I can’t tell they’re lies? I won’t dig. I promise you. I just can’t take any more of your mockery!”
He'd had just about enough of this.
"Mockery??" He reached out for her hand as she turned to flee the engine room. She who was running headlong into a vast maw of evil, intent on devouring her ... she was fleeing ... from him.
Atton was never quite sure what happened when his fingers touched hers. All he knew was that it threw him back against the wall of the Ebon Hawk harder than a bantha kick. When he could breathe again, his vision still blurry, he realized she was still holding his hand.
She was holding his other hand, as well.
In fact, the entire length of her body was pressed up against him in a way that made him completely forget about the metal prod of the starboard engine in his lower back. Her blonde hair had come undone from its military braid, and floated in loose curls around her shoulders. Her lips – those lips – if he’d run his tongue across his mouth, he’d have touched her.
Gasping, his vision still muzzy, he stared at her eyes, so close to his own. Her own gaze was relentless, searing his mind, digging through his soul.
“Is this what you want, Atton?” she hissed between her teeth. “Is this what you use to keep me away? I guess the joke’s on you.”
And her mouth bridged the gap to his.
Atton could hear his heart pounding from a long way away as his brain tried to fend off the blistering desire that wrapped around his body, and burrowed into the very make-up of his flesh. But her tongue touched his lips and he surrendered utterly, sinking the long fingers of his right hand into the mass of silvery curls that framed her face.
Time stopped and the universe opened up around them. It smelled of lightening and machine oil, the Dantooine grasslands and the jungles of Dxun. One of her hands still held his between them, the other slid along his jaw to the back of his head, pressing him to her. Her nails grazed his scalp and he gasped, and bit down gently on her lower lip.
The Ebon Hawk had disappeared and they floated between the stars, their bodies wrapped around each other. He cradled her to him, his hand sliding from her head, to her shoulder, to her hips – his mouth never leaving hers. Energy flowed between their interlocked fingers, tingling up his arm and into his brain. He could taste sea salt on the skin of her neck.
Her free hand slid up, under the microthin shirt, over his belly. His body tightened and his back arched, pressing them even closer together. They spiralled together, breathing each other, tasting the worlds in each other. Her legs were wrapped around his waist as they drifted, weightless. The galaxy seemed to join in the dance of their flesh together, urging them on like the tide.
He bore into her, and she fell into him. Her eyes widened as she plummeted down, past everything, to the truth.
“Oh, Atton.” She wept as everything came bubbling out – the hours of watching her, the helpless desire to keep her safe, the ache of need. The love. Oh, the love. The vulnerability and longing that he’d kept wrapped up so tightly under the force of lust.
He felt her open to it, absorb it, felt her heartbeat stumble over it. Then, then he felt it come back to him. Through the bulwark defences, through the iron restraints, it all came back to him, and her love washed over him – warm, cold and hot. Precise and out of control. He drowned in it and the maelstrom that devoured the Force. The wound in the Force that was Cora Saris.
Do you understand now? Do you see why I could never tell you?
Yes. He understood. He forgave. And her love, propelled by the gathering momentum of the galaxy’s life force, buoyed him up from where he thrashed, floundering and lost.
But it wasn’t enough.
He was sinking.
He couldn’t breathe.
He reached for her, for that hand still locked around his own. But he couldn’t feel it. Couldn’t feel anything.
Her face swam above him, looking down through the murk at him. So beautiful. So calm.
But there was honesty in the tears that poured down her cheeks and onto his. Tears? Cora Saris didn’t cry!
“Yeah, the joke’s on me.”
Those shattered eyes.
“Shhhh. It only hurts when I laugh.”
And he fell.
Comments and con-crit are greatly, greatly appreciated. If you've enjoyed this, or know of some way I can improve it, please let me know on the [FIC] thread. Thank you!
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