Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The darkness inside was blessedly cool. She stood, knees weak, gasping in the chilled air. His arm was still around her, supporting her. She should move. She knew he could feel her trembling, but it was all right. With him, it was all right, because he knew. He had always known. It was she who had been blind.
Straightening, the exile steadied herself. His hands dropped away and she felt bereft. The sickly green glow of a gleam emitter sputtered into life, and she saw his grey eyes watching her.
“Damn. You look like bantha fodder.”
Somewhere, deep in her belly, a knot eased.
“Flattery will get you nowhere, Atton,” she replied, her voice calm and modulated.
The question startled her, but she took a quick inventory. “Less than I would expect, actually.” She raised her eyes to him and nodded. “It feels better in here.”
His eyes never left her, but she couldn’t read him. Of course.
“You have been hiding from me,” she chided.
“Yeah, well, you started it.”
She smiled. Oh, Light, it felt good to smile.
“Yes. I guess I did.”
She studied his face in the sputtering green light. It had been so long. I missed you.
He was smiling, too. His hand reached for hers and he began to walk, the path leading steeply downwards, deep into the planet.
“Atton. What is this place? Why here?”
“C’mon gorgeous, you don’t think I chose this hole, do you? Not a glass of Juma or Twi’lek dancer to be had!”
“Of course,” she sighed.
“It makes sense, though, if you want to think about it.”
No, I don’t. Not really. But she allowed him to continue.
“Those walking Force vacuum nightmares on the surface, they’re perfect for deflecting the attention of anyone who might be looking for a Jedi who doesn’t want to be found.”
The horror of those empty souls came back to her. “Those people, Atton, what are they? What do you know about them?”
He paused in their descent to slant a strange look at her.
“I know as much about them as you do,” he said. “Maybe some kind of strange Sith Force experiment, maybe just collateral damage from the Jedi Civil War – or even echoes of Malachor V – it’s hard to say these days, what’s caused that kind of injury.”
Still, they descended. The lower they went, the cooler the air became. After a while, the walls became slick with moisture. She wanted to lean her face against the chilled stone and cool her thoughts as well…but they walked on.
His long fingers wrapped around hers were her only connection to real time and space. She could feel the calluses on his palm, where a blaster’s hilt would rest, and the strong muscles and tendons that could finesse a light-sabre better than anyone she’d ever known. She focused on that hand, the solid feel of it, remembering it – the way he flipped a pazaak card carelessly as they plotted their next move on Nar Shadda, the way his fingers manipulated the delicate workings of a lock … or a frag mine. The way he had touched my cheek, only once, before we left Korriban.
She knew she should be focusing on her task at hand, but dammit, she could barely remember what it was. She hadn’t seen him for so long, couldn’t she just enjoy this moment? Maybe we can walk like this forever.
But, too soon, the rounded a final bend in the twisting cavern and faced another door – locked of course.
“Why don’t I just let you deal with that one,” she said, fighting the upward pull on her lips.
He grinned, but didn’t reply. Instead he produced a key card. “Can’t be breaking in everywhere we go, can I?”
And she laughed.
Looking pleased with himself, Atton swung the large door inward. “Here it is, sweetheart. Sanctuary. For now, at least.”
She peered through the doorway, slightly confused. The small room was laid out like a cockpit – similar to the Ebon Hawk, actually. Holocron stars sped across the walls that had been carved almost to resemble the windows.
She raised one pale eyebrow at him. He raised his hands in mock defence.
“Hey now, don’t look at me. I’m not the interior designer. Strange, I admit, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.”
“Yes, I suppose it could.” She walked past the two worn pilot’s chairs, her fingers drifting lightly over the worn upholstery. “This feels … familiar, comfortable.”
“Then it’s doing its job.” Atton sat in the port-side chair – where he belonged – and leaned back, his feet up on the console.
“Don’t put your feet on the console,” she muttered, and laughed again as she realized that he’d echoed her familiar words, that he’d provoked those words.
She sat across from him, the seat feeling like it had been made for her. “So, what do we do now?”
He smiled again, and held up his pazaak deck.
"... I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room." - Ray Bradbury