Author's Note: Greetings, acolyte's! I've wanted to write an The Old Republic piece for awhile now, and I've just never gotten around to it. With my other arch, Oracle, and current Obi-Wan centric fic Ben currently leaving me without much muse, I decided to toss this out there and see who's willing to bite. I've become recently obsessed with Theron Shan, so I just couldn't resist giving him some love. He's currently my chief lust-object, though I'm not necessarily prone to lust - suffice it to say I'm pretty in love with him, and that's saying a lot because I am a dedicated Obi-Wan Kenobi fan. But that's beside the point now that The Old Republic has dominated my life.
Anyway, I'm not affiliated with Bioware, nor do I own anything Star Wars related, so don't ask. Please. It's just painful.
That all being out of the way - enjoy please, and drop a review on the way out. Am glad to hear from ya!
Alternative Summary: Zakuul had taken everything from him, and Theron Shan isn't one to let go of a grudge. With the galaxy in a tailspin and the Republic failing under the tyranny of the Eternal Empire, there is not much hope on the horizon. But, behind enemy lines rests the intelligence the galaxy has been desperately waiting for - and they were going to get her, the Outlander, backA Jed [KOTFE].
"Well, well. If it isn't my favorite spy boy, Theron Shan,"
Republic SIS agent Theron Shan had really all he could do to focus on the swirling drink in front him much less the dripping voice now resting behind his ear. Awareness already tainted heavily with the Corellian ale, the mixture of strong perfume and overbearing oils put the back of his mind in a tailspin only enough to drop his attention from his drink into his lap. He smirked, shook his head slightly (as if it would clear the blurriness of his vision), and a chuckle dared to escape his throat.
"Hello, Kosso," he heaved a heavy sigh and reached up to rub his forehead with a gloved hand. He had long since pushed the throbbing music and pulsing strobe lights of the club to the back of his mind – as an agent, he'd been trained to focus on minute details under pressure, so a mixed and chaotic environment were not the most of his concerns. What concerned him was the rock that had permanently embedded itself into the lining of his stomach, and was working on dragging his heart down into its pit, too.
The Mirialan woman bent over his shoulder, her cheek pressing against his ear. She chuckled playfully, her hands slowly making their way over the smooth leather of his favorite red jacket. Adorned in a myriad of jewels, tattoos and other trinkets, her emerald skin seemed to almost shine under the skipping lights above their heads. Any other day a year ago (was it that long? or longer?) he'd be more inclined to pay the cantina dancer a proverbial ear (which she was still chuckling into), but now, he could hardly give her the time of breath.
She giggled in his ear, her breath warm and soft against his cheek, "How'ya been, Theron baby? Been forever in a year since you've been in this corner of the galaxy." She wrinkled her nose and tried to nuzzle it against his neck, "Come all this way to see me, have ya...?"
Forever wasn't long enough; it seemed, to erase his memories, or his mark left on this part of the galaxy in Nar Shaddaa. Perhaps time never would – he knew, certainly, the Republic would never forget. He pulled away from her ministrations, threw a halting hand into the air, and twisted to look her in the face. He gave her a frustrated and somewhat disgusted expression, and her brow dropped into a confused wrinkle as she took a hesitant step back from him. The music was now pulsing through his skull hard enough that it seemed to rattle the implants in his left eye.
"Theron, what gives -?"
He shook his head and waved her off, reaching for his glass of ale again. "Forget it, Kosso," he downed the last of the drink and let the glass hit the table top with a sharp clack, "let's not do this." He slid the glass away with his hand and went to stand, suddenly very aware of the ale swimming through his stomach. He abandoned the idea almost immediately and sank back down into the chair, slowly, as if a weight pulled him back.
Offended, the dancer crossed her arms in front of her and snapped a hip out in protest. He shot her a look, cocked a telling brow, and she spun on her heel and sauntered away from him, probably onto the next client. Theron, unfazed, turned away from the place she'd been standing and instead took his time to glance around the cesspool of people clambering around his lone table.
He'd taken to Nar Shaddaa a few days previous, desperate to get away from the memories that seemed to haunt his every footstep. This world was only place he knew where he could effectively and entirely drown himself. Here, he was truly no one while also being Theron Shan; SIS agent, illegitimate son of both a Republic soldier and Jedi Grandmaster, and espionage extraordinaire. At one point, not long ago, he was the pride of Republic intelligence – a crucial member in the war for information, and a key player in the destruction of the Sith Empire.
But now, he was little more than a husk of the man he used to be; wallowing in self-pity and uncertainty. Ever since the fiasco on Ziost, he had lost all purpose and reason to life. Chancellor Saresh had not rested until she had completely decimated his professional reputation and smothered his ego in humiliation. He had been disavowed and relieved from his duties within the SIS for insubordination – classified as a "rogue agent", of sorts. Of course he had bowed out of the scene graciously before it could hit the media and make its way onto the Holonet, but the fact remained – he'd been torn from his career, and ultimately humiliated off world. He'd left behind his family (as distant as they were), his job and vow to protect the Republic, his pride, and the only woman he had really cared for.
His career problems weren't the most of his concerns, though. Ziost was small compared to the guilt pitted inside of his stomach that flowed through his veins like an electrical current. No, he would have taken a thousand missions like Ziost than live with the pain inside his core. Regret was a funny thing, he'd always said – rarely had he ever troubled himself with it; agents rarely allowed themselves that avenue of thought. They couldn't afford to if they wanted to stay alive. But now, with nothing to live for, he was embracing the idea more and more. He had left her behind – he'd left her behind without even telling her how he truly felt.
As an agent, he was a man of little words and much action, which had been fine throughout his twenty-eight years of life. When you were the byproduct of a forbidden love affair, you learned to observe at a distance and play your cards close to the chest. And when you were an agent working for the elite and covert faction of the Republic? You might as well forget it. He had spent his days living in the dangers of the Republic and the shadows of information. He had dedicated himself to the preservation of the Republic and the destruction of the tyrannical Sith Empire, hoping someday to bring peace to a ravaged galaxy.
It was a thankless job, in every respect of the profession. But, it was one that Theron couldn't imagine life without – he didn't know what he'd be, aside from an SIS operative. He hated the political arena of the Senate, and he wasn't cut out for the military scene, either; living under the shadow of his father did not seem as appealing as the recruitment officers made it sound. And he was certainly not going to follow in his mother's footsteps – he was no Jedi, despite his upbringing. That left him at the far end of nowhere growing up, until he'd signed on with the SIS. At least his skill acquired from being raised by a Jedi had been good for that.
None of it mattered, anymore. The Republic was crumbling under the war, and the Sith Empire was right beside it. Like two pillars straining to hold up the civilizations of the galaxy, they were beginning to quake under the pressure of the latest threat, the Eternal Empire of Zakuul.
Theron had heard rumors of the monstrous empire during his cavorting around Outer Rim while simultaneously trying to live out his administrative leave and drown his worries in the nearest cantina. Some had said it was a looming giant just waiting for the right moment to pounce and pressure the galaxy into submission. Of course, Theron had just calked much of the talk up to smuggler's stories or shop talk, but when he'd started to hear of stories from freighters and civilian ships express concerns, he'd decided to start doing some…research.
It was not long after he'd listened to the concerns or seen the worried faces way out in Outer Rim that the Eternal Empire's fingers stretched out from its quiet corner of space to take hold of the galaxy in a throttle. Soon, reports from Republic and Sith intelligence's flooded into the spires within the governments. intelligence flooded with reports of violent takeovers and massacring invasions – now, it was much more than Ziost. Whatever worlds were not utterly decimated were instead viciously taken over with a strong military presence and tyrannical control.
With each crushing victory, a chant rang across the battlefields of space: "For his glorious majesty; Emperor of the Eternal Throne, grand warrior of Zakuul, and master of the Eternal Empire, Valkorion!" The chants had appeared in thousands of telecasts and across the holonet. It was on the tongues of refugees and survivors, and in the reports of those deep undercover from both allegiances, Empire or Republic. The Zakuulian Empire was slowly tearing the galaxy apart, world by world. No one, it seemed, was safe.
Of course, Theron had done what any good SIS operative would've – he turned his concerns over the Republic, and put it in the Director's hands. It had been his first steps back into the Heorem Complex in four months since he'd been put on administrative leave for his mess on Ziost. Once he'd passed that information along, it hadn't been long since his father and mother had gotten involved. Despite the Chancellor's cautious approval at his involvement, he'd been questioned and reinstated.
After the intelligence came across his radar, his first thought, surprisingly enough, was not to hand it over to Republic SIS. Which, Theron would be the first to admit, mildly concerned him. His allegiances had always ran deeply beside that of the Republic and the Senate – he'd lived to preserve and make sure the Republic would stand for generations. It was his vow, and his passion (he was almost positive that it was somehow carved into his DNA from his parents). There was nothing else to live for in life besides work, information, and the Republic. He didn't have family he was fondly close to, no relationships to tie him down, and certainly no roots planted anywhere deep enough that were stronger than the Republic.
No, his first thought was to present the information to the Hero of Tython – her. How could he not think about it, given her success on Ziost and the rest of the galaxy? Critically acclaimed within the Republic as a celebrity fighter and a model of peace, the Battlemaster of the Jedi had seized the Republic's attention since she'd first taken down the Emperor all those years ago. Not only had she grabbed the Republic by the heart, but she had made her way into the branches of government and demanded to be not only heard, but recognized. All in good ways, of course. Theron had never believed that one single Jedi Knight could do as much as her reputation gloated, but then again, he had always been a skeptical guy.
He had met her only once before the Rishi incident, and it had only been in passing. She had been in the Heorem Complex at a debriefing, for reasons beyond his knowledge. With her had been Satele Shan, however few her visits were to Coruscant during war time, and a younger girl of about seventeen years old, marked as a padawan by her braid and youthful features, thought she hadn't been much older than the Hero of Tython. They had been escorted out by the Director, talking in hushed tones and hand gestures. He had locked gazes with her for only a moment, recognizing her from the Holonet and word of mouth. She'd politely smiled at him before her attention had been diverted to the Director's questions. Theron had paused only a moment on the stairs to watch them at the entrance, standing in a conversational triangle. He hadn't realized she was so...pleasant looking on the Holonet, or so peaceful. He'd only ever seen her in action reports and footage that was less than becoming, but that was because she was a Jedi. They cared about appearance as much as they cared about attachment, and really, he hadn't paid that much attention in the first place.
It wasn't long after he'd locked eyes with her in the SIS building that he'd contacted her regarding the matter of Revan, and the Rishi and Yavin incident had transpired. Granted, that had gotten him flak from his superiors, but it had been reasonably forgivable. Especially when her quick resolutions and surprising skill had won the day – he hadn't anticipated that she'd work so quickly and diligently. Jedi were not known to have aggressive personalities, and his first impression of her had been that of a woman of peaceful tranquility. It hadn't been always so. During their time with Lana Beniko, he'd discovered that she had aggressive leadership abilities, intelligent charm, and contagious enthusiasm. She was immensely likeable, adorably charming, and relentless. He had liked her immediately.
Theron had never been close to anyone (SIS operatives tended to shy away from relationships almost as much as the Jedi did), and he had never boasted more than off the cuff flings with women during his assignments. Spying for the Republic presented its own share of challenges, and he'd been content to keep his love life stagnant and empty. Not having to worry about consequences or coming home in a body bag to someone who he loved had made his work easy. What was more, his relationship with his parents was shaky at best, so he didn't find the idea of close, personal relationships all that desirable.
That was, until he'd started working with her. He had never really found himself in the position of being smitten before (he would die a thousand deaths before anyone in the SIS found that out), or even coming close to harboring anything more than professional admiration towards a woman before in his life. Sure, he'd messed around with women while out on assignment, or found his way to the highly acclaimed Dealer's Den cantina more than once (even spies got lonely). But this woman…the Hero of Tython. The Hero of Tython; the Republic's most reputable celebrity hero, and face of the Jedi Order – had him one hundred percent wrapped around her hypothetical finger within a matter of weeks. He was so intrigued by her and inspired by her heroism that Theron had stumbled over his usually confident bravado more than a handful of times. Lana Beniko must have thought he was insane. He'd never been more shaken in his entire life.
If she had noticed his blundering existence during the Rishi and Yavin raids, she had, to his benefit, said nothing. Instead, she talked with him during the quiet hours of the night when he'd been pulling data and catching up on surveillance. They'd share stories of their adventures together over meals, share concerns over the rising political tension between governments on patrols. Then, there were times where they worked in companionable silence as if they'd been partners for decades. Theron had never in his life been so completely unsure of himself while feeling one hundred percent supported and affirmed. In a broken system, with a shaken family, it was something he'd never been sure he would ever feel. He wanted to know everything she would tell him, and he wanted to tell her everything, too.
And then, one day, it had happened straight out of nowhere. Lana had left to do a surveillance patrol along the perimeter of their hideout on Rishi, along with Jakarro and C2-D4. It had just been him in the command center, slicing through databanks and pulling together whatever information he could muster on Revan's pending fleet. He'd been stressed, on a time schedule, and without sleep for almost three days. Food had been a denied luxury. Theron had been a thousand percent focused and oblivious – something that an highly capable and praised SIS operative should never be - when she'd come up alongside him seemingly from nowhere.
He had felt her concern as if it had reached out and touched him in the flesh, which he would not have put past her, being a Jedi and everything that she was. She had leaned a hip against the holoterminal, said nothing, and softly rested her fingerless, bracer-clad had on his own and had subsequently jerked him out of his focus. He had frozen like a carbonite chamber and dared a look at her, only to find her eyes flooded with concern as she tipped her head to the side.
"Theron," she had said, quietly with concern, "let me do this. Go and rest, please. Eat something." She'd patted his hand with her own and gave it an affectionate squeeze before offering him a placated smile, "The last thing I need is you out of commission because you've exhausted yourself into oblivion. Let me watch the terminal, and take care of yourself." She'd held his gaze with an equally exhausted one, before waving him away with her bandaged other hand.
It had been the first time someone had ever watched out for his physical needs outside of necessity. Her tone had been genuine and forthright, and he had felt something in his gut crack into a jagged piece and fall away into the distance. In that moment, when he had relinquished control (which he, Theron Shan, had been notorious for never doing) he had been struck upside the head with realization. The Hero of Tython wasn't just that; the hero of the war. She wasn't just a Jedi. She was a woman, and he was a man, and she was the embodiment of everything he'd been fighting to protect and keep alive in Republic space.
He hadn't – no, didn't – want to give her up. But she was a Jedi, and he was a spy. Two very, very different human beings.
From then on it had been a down-spiral of events, and he wasn't the same man. He'd opened up more than he ever had to anyone in his life, and he'd felt as if he had to give her the stars. It was a slow fall into an admiration and desire from there, and within a matter of weeks while being confined together on Rishi, Theron Shan would have said that he had fallen in love with the Jedi that the rest of the Republic had adored so much. He had finally seen what the rest of the galaxy had, but to his credit, he had seen more than anyone else. She had let him see her, unabashed and unbridled, and that was the highest honor he could ever hope to receive.
He had kissed her shortly after that exchange, before they'd parted ways to Yavin. Theron remembered it clearly, even amidst the cacophony of the cantina around him and the myriad of other beautiful faces in the back of his mind. Kissing her had been the last leg of his resolve, and he had never been more open with a woman a day in his twenty-eight years of life. Kissing her had been like losing and finding himself all at once, and discovering a purpose greater than the Republic – having a purpose greater than the SIS. He had been someone, and she had been, for the briefest of moments, his. For the first time in forever, something had belonged to him – someone had wanted him.
And he had never told her. He had never told her how she had made him feel, and what he felt in her presence; how she had made him want to be a better and different man than he had ever been. He had never told her that he didn't want to ever leave her side and not know where in the galaxy she was, or how she was doing, or who she was with. Never had he breathed a word of admission to her – his lack of confidence and fear of commitment had kept him afraid and uncertain. And now, he was spying on empire he didn't understand and knew less about, all while moping in a cesspool of regrets created by his own hand. She was somewhere, without him, and it was putting him in an early grave.
He raked his gloved fingers through his otherwise effortlessly kept faux-hawk, the activity doing little to settle his frayed nerves of shame and guilt, instead only rustling his hair.
Then, he lifted his eyes up into the crowds, and stopped dead. His heart seemed to catatonic-ally burst while at the same time seized into a constricted knot inside his chest. Every inch of him froze with both fearful hope and floundering dread as he looked across the dance floor, writhing with the fluid motion of bodies and rhythm, and he swore he saw the familiar flow of light brown curl in-between the myriad of other color and style. The effortless, always a mess, most beautiful curls he'd only ever seen on one human being…
There was a crash behind him that jolted the mesmerized Republic spy in his seat. He whipped around, braced against the table as if ready to bolt away, and relaxed only a moment when he found the broken glass riddled along the cantina's floor. A teasing laughter, the snort of a hulking brute, and the groan of a entrepreneur were the only sound that set him back at ease. He shook his head once, hard, to clear his head, before he felt the back of his mind creeping with the thought to look back out on the dance floor for the owner of the spiraling stream of familiar brown curl.
Theron threw up a hand, shook his head to no one in particular, and swore off Corellian ale for the evening. Scooting the glass farther away, he managed to bring up the HUD in his left eye and check (for the hundredth time) his messages. One from the Chancellor, another from Republic Colonel Jace Malcolm, and another from his landlord. He cleared the notifications, not bothering to read them, and scraped his chair back crudely against the floor. It was difficult, only for a moment, to stand...
He meandered through the spaceport from the cantina, his head beginning to clear from years of practice and poignancy and skill. Theron shoved his hand into the pocket of his favorite leather jacket, and scanned the crowds around him, forcing himself to adapt to his surroundings. He willed his spy senses and his logistical mind into action, if not for necessity then out of habit as he circled the spaceport around the outer fringe of people not once but twice, looking for anything promising or out of order. He was, after all, out for information, no matter how unstable his emotions or current blood alcohol level was.
When nothing surfaced after an hour of scouting, Theron put away his suspicions and found his way (somehow) to Bay Fourteen, where his shuttle was parked and in the process of refueling. He'd caught minor meteor damage earlier while descending from hyperspace and clipping a formation, but it had been easily repairable and hadn't caused major damage to the shuttle's systems. He'd need to re-calibrate the navicomputer and scan for abnormalities before he took off, but that wasn't his primary concern. He'd already done it three times through his implants while knocking back ale's in the cantina.
Theron managed to make his way up the boarding ramp of his shuttle and somehow found the control panel to slap and raise the ramp back into the vessel. It moaned mechanically and began to retract, and he navigated the shadows of his low-lighted shuttle corridor towards the cockpit. Dropping pathetically into the seat, he switched on a few systems and set the navicomputer to run a diagnostic scan, before he checked the hyperdrive. Finding it charged, he forced himself up out of the seat and maneuvered towards the back of the shuttle, to the small resting quarters just behind the cockpit.
He fell into the bunk, too exhausted to think about anything else, and worked out of his jacket. Not minding the way his boots fit his feet, he draped a leg lazily over the side and let a arm fall across his forehead, his hand brushing against the implants over his eye. He clicked his teeth to open his comm-channel, found no activity, and disconnected the link. He was about to close his eyes for a few hours of sleep before takeoff when there was a bristle of air to his left, over his shoulder, and out in the corridor.
Immediately awake and alert, groggy drunkenness aside, Theron bolted upright a bit too quickly and smacked his head against the bunk above him. He cursed unintelligibly, worked a blaster from the holster along his right hip, and brought up his HUD to check for a perimeter scan. The shuttle's security system immediately engaged, and he simultaneously felt the ship lock the entrances and exits with a quiet series of thunks. There was no way off his shuttle, now, for either himself or the intruder. Not that Theron had a mind to abandon his own ship without at least putting up a fight, first.
Throwing off his jacket, Theron quietly stepped out of the bunk's corridor and into what was the small cargo area of the shuttle. It was by no means a large vessel, used only to tote him back and forth from his various comings and goings, but it was large enough for there to be plenty of places for an intruder to hide. He imagined someone was trying to steal the ship and make off with a nice profit from the quartermaster at some other seedy spaceport – a petty criminal by most standards. Theron didn't rightly care, at this moment. He was still battling the lingering effects of drunkenness, and was in no mood to play with thieves and underworld thugs.
Quickly checking corridor before slipping out into the walkway, Theron pulled the blaster up alongside his face and signaled the HUD to disengage the bridge. Wherever the thug was, he wasn't going anywhere with Theron's shuttle. Then, in another breath, he was about to signal the spaceport's security, but thought better of it. The less trace of his presence here, the better off he'd be. Better to deal with the underworld slime himself than trigger an investigation.
He stepped quietly, almost effortlessly, when he felt the air move and something give a quiet snap in its wake, like clothing catching the air. His eyes scanned to and fro, and he felt the faint vibrations up through his feet. Yes, someone was definitely aboard his shuttle, and he was definitely going to have to deal with them. Inhaling a breath, he tenderly moved towards weapons bay, and flung out the blaster around the corner to check for intruders. When there was no blasterfire, Theron rounded the corner and stepped towards the weapon's closet, which he found partially opened.
So they want weapons. "You son of a –" He didn't even have time to register the light rattle of the corridor around him as a figure dropped down from above, directly behind him before he whirled around and the blaster was simultaneously disengaged from his hand. Any other day, an SIS operative would've been cursed for such sloppy work. Today, however, Theron was struggling just to breathe.
It was dimly lit with red low-light in the shuttle, and all Theron could make out was the shorter intruder clothed in a deep brown cloak. Entirely enveloped, the hood shrouded the intruder's face, though Theron tried to get a good description of height as he was shuffled backwards. The individual was shorter than he was and roughly smaller, but the cloak hid their features well. He was about to go for his other blaster when the intruder suddenly whipped out a hand from beneath the cloak, and Theron was flung backwards while looking at the delicate, splayed fingers ahead of him.
His back hit the armory closet softer than he braced for, but he was still plastered in place. So the individual was a Force user, and Theron began to run scenarios in the back of his mind as light pressure kept him bolted him place. He struggled, thrashing as much as his body could beneath the hold of the Force pressing against him. It was impossible for a Sith or Imperial to have tailed him to the Outer Rim spaceport, because he had left no evidentiary trail to lead anyone here. He wasn't working for the SIS (at least, officially) and he didn't have many enemies left alive that had much of a grudge against him at the moment. And, Theron was pretty sure lowlife's weren't accomplished enough Force users to pose this much of a threat.
The intruder stepped closer, still entirely concealed within the confines of their cloak, save the one hand. Theron examined it for any physical details that could serve as identifiers later. It was feminine, for sure, so his assailant was female, and wrapped in a fingerless bracer. It appeared humanoid, and pale, so the intruder was definitely a human woman. Her nails, however, were bare, but her fingers were calloused and dirty, with scuff marks and other odd-ended scars that he could make out with the focused enhancement of his HUD.
And then, she stopped right before him, and braced her other arm along his chest – hard. Theron winced as she pushed him farther into the armory and released her hold on him with the Force, her other hand dropping to his waist to tug the other blaster from its home along his left hip. She dropped it and kicked it away, her arm fiercely strong and tight against his chest. By this point, Theron was willing to at least hear the woman out and see what she wanted before he made a mess and killed her, because he easily could have rendered her incapable from this position - even a Force user. Curiosity, though, was most often a spy's downfall, and he had suspicions that he had no intention of letting go.
Before he could open his mouth to speak, he saw beneath the hood of the cloak her lips, which upturned slowly into a smile. A moment of fear seized Theron for what this meant, and before he could react, she reached up and brushed away the cloak, shaking loose her hair and riveting blue eyes that punched a hole in his chest. His lungs emptied upon sight of her immediately, as if the wind had been knocked from him, and she grinned up into his face with teasing eyes that he couldn't help but find himself lost in. The hold of her arm against his chest lessened immensely, but still remained. His stomach tightened into a knot, and his throat closed.
There was a slight chuckle from her throat that tickled his ears. "Hello, Theron," her voice was placating and cool, and sparked familiar memories to life in his mind – memories of Yavin and Rishi and Ziost – that were hard to forget and force away. "Fancy seeing you here," she teased him melodically. His knees almost collapsed.
He was without words for only a second. He couldn't appear that disheveled. "I could say the same thing," he looked down at her arm across his chest, "if you weren't cornering me on my own shuttle. You mind?" He cocked a brow at her, and gave her a flat look.
She giggled and flashed him a toothy smile that was both witty and charming, two qualities that he was immensely in favor of. "Not at all," was the reply. Nodding, she dropped her arm from his chest and he relaxed, heaving a deep sigh only to reach up and run his fingers through his hair, again. Instead of stepping away to make her point and continue verbally sparring with him, she took a daring step forward. The edge of her cloak brushed against his breeches, and he swallowed hard, hoping she wouldn't notice his sudden unease.
Theron's heart skipped a beat as her blue eyes pinned him like a blaster bolt to the chest. His mind began to race in circles in a desperate attempt to find something to say – his tongue burned with the words he'd wanted to say for so long, but his throat closed up; paralyzed to breathe, much less speak. She even dared to step closer, now within inches of his face, giving him a casual look with lidded eyes that was rendering his mind hard to communication with the rest of his body's processes. She smelled of dirt, grease, city and, strangely enough, passion fruit. If it were possible, she sidled up closer to him, raised on tip toes, and he almost died when the perfect feminine curve of her body met every plane of his. If she had wanted to kill him, he would not have been able to stop her.
Theron thought – no, hoped – that maybe she was drawing close to kiss him, but the thought soon vanished when the look on her face became puzzled. She cocked her head to the side, and reached up with her fingerless bracer to brush her fingers along his hairline, then brushed something off his shoulder. A soft smile cracked her lips. He almost couldn't breathe. Almost.
She giggled, "How have you been, Theron?" Her voice dropped into its normal, melodic tone, "It's been a long time." She cocked her head to the side again, then propped a hand on her hip within her cloak. Theron caught one of the familiar duel lightsabers on her right side, her off hand hilt. A memory flashed through his mind briefly, and he had to fight his brain for words.
His brow raised, in surprise, an expression that betrayed him. Operatives weren't supposed to look surprised. Ever. "That's what you ask when you've got me pinned against a weapon's locker?" He snorted, trying to appear casual, "You continually surprise me, Master Jedi."
She shrugged a shoulder, "Dually noted," then stepped away and turned on her heel. Waving over her shoulder for him to follow, she bent to retrieve his blaster and spun around to hand it back, her cloak swirling around her ankles and hair falling over her shoulder to rest down her back to her waist. She walked backwards, extending it to him, and grinned widely, "You might want this back, yes?"
He snatched it from her, half minded to race up on her and wrap his arms around the woman he'd been thinking about non-stop for weeks. Even her off-canter smell that permeated the corridor was enough to remind him of their time together on Yavin and Rishi. "Yeah, probably," he took it back, replaced it in the holster, and followed her back towards the cockpit.
Raising his HUD, he activated the lights and dropped the security on the shuttle, and instantly it was lit in bright light. He squinted, forced his eyes to adjust, and seated himself in the pilot's seat.
She looked around the cockpit, folded her arms in front of her, and Theron caught himself staring again. She was still the short woman of five feet seven inches that he remembered, with curves in every place, and rounded features. As he studied her face, he noticed she had a trace of a bruise along her jaw, a cut above her eye, and a scratch along her neck which her stream of curls failed to hide adequately.
He got up, leaned over, and brushed aside her hair with his gloved finger to gently run a thumb along the long scratch. A concerned expression riddled his face and he looked up to her, shaking his head before sighing and walking over to the cabinet above the bunks in the side corridor. He grabbed the medkit and walked back, extending a hand for her to sit. It never failed – he would, forever, have to tend to this woman every time he was in her presence, because Theron knew she would never do it herself. She'd let herself fall to pieces if she could.
She seated herself without a word, and when he set to unwrapping a bandage, he gestured around his face with a hand to make a point. "So, this new look. Not sure I like it so much." She chuckled and sat back, plopping her chin in her hand as her elbow rested on the arm rest of his captain's chair. He decidedly changed the subject, then. "What're you doing following me, Nyyah? And for that matter, why are you on Nar Shaddaa?"
Jedi Battlemaster Nyyah Mosse flecked a sapphire look up to him as he crouched before her, gesturing with a fleck of his hand for her to move her hair over her shoulder. She complied. "I was skip tracing a Sith Intelligence officer that has connections to Darth Marr when I heard about your falling out with the SIS, again," he set to pressing a cloth soaked in kolto to the wound above her eye, "So when I traced you to Nar Shaddaa, I decided to shadow you to make sure you were out of trouble." She reached up to hold it in place so he could tend to the yellowing bruise on her jaw.
Always the selfless one, huh? "Well, you went to a lot of trouble," he gestured to the bruise before putting the cloth of kolto against her jaw, "so I guess I should be flattered. Next time, make sure they don't hit your face." He smiled at her, "It's called blocking. I thought the Jedi taught hand-to-hand? They did when I was around."
She laughed at him, rolling her eyes, before she held his gaze. A look of concern floated over her features. "I was concerned about you after Ziost, Theron. Master Satele told me you'd taken your leave less than gracefully. She was worried for you, and so was I." She repressed the kolto cloth to look down at it on her lap, then looked up at him, "And from what I saw tonight, my worries aren't unwarranted. Are you okay, Theron?" The concern that clouded her eyes was enough to almost break him.
Taken aback slightly, Theron had to pause and recall the events of the night in the cantina. So, he hadn't hallucinated the vision of her in the swaying crowds on the cantina's dance floor – she'd been there, within mere feet of him, as he'd made a complete and utter mockery of himself in the Nar Shaddaa Red Light district. He puffed out a somewhat embarrassed breath, then rubbed the back of his neck and looked away. He had never wanted her to know how much he regretted letting her walk away after Ziost and not telling her how he truly felt, and he certainly hadn't ever wanted her find out about his carousing. He felt heat rush up his neck that blossomed on his cheeks a red that he was certain matched his jacket.
She reached out her hand and tipped his chin up to look at him. "You haven't answered my question, Agent Shan." She blinked twice and then sighed heavily, holding his attention. Theron didn't ever want to look away, but he did, regardless. He didn't want her, the Battlemaster of the Jedi and the Hero of Tython, to see him such a weak havoc. He wouldn't live with himself if she saw him this weak and broken – he'd never be able to stand in her presence respectfully again. Then, she rather pointedly asked him again by speaking his name, "Theron."
He looked back up to her. "I'm okay," he waved off the ideas muddling his thoughts, "just a little on edge, with everything happening in the Republic and Empire is all. Needed to get away and clear my head for awhile - and I've been edging on a contact in the Red Light District for a couple of days, now. Nothing to worry yourself about, Master Jedi." He gave her a wry smile and patted her cheek with his hand. "I am glad you're alive, though. Good to see a familiar face that isn't out to get me." He paused, "You've been okay?"
She nodded and flattened her lips. He could see she didn't entirely believe his tale, but that was a matter for another time. "I'm fine, Theron," she replaced the kolto cloth on her lap and turned to fully face him in the captain's chair. He was still crouching before her, forever revered in her presence; forever feeling so complete while being everything he'd sworn away, "Just fine. No cause for worry." She squeezed his hands, tightly. In reassurance or acceptance, he wasn't sure.
As if I could ever stop worrying about you, after Ziost. Those memories, while some of the most trying, were some of his most cherished. He had never felt so much love and acceptance and innocent curiosity from one person before, and he'd never experienced such selflessness. She made everything he'd forgotten about living so much more beautiful, and promising. Hope, like it never had before, sprang to life inside of his chest and planted a seed in his stomach. This one, he promised himself, would not die.
Without realizing it, Theron pushed himself up slightly on strong legs, newly empowered, and moved closer into her. He wasn't sure why, but he was craving the taste of her lips like he'd never craved anything before. She was an odd and new mystery, again, that he needed to solve – a new intelligence that he desperately desired, and he couldn't deny himself any longer. Not after so many nights of laying awake in wonder and tossing and turning in worry. He angled his head left, gently pulling her hands towards his chest, feeling himself letting go and losing resolve. He could feel her pulse, even through her bracer and his own, throbbing.
He signaled the HUD to drop the lights, afraid for her to see the confusion and uncertainty on his face. Her breath caught in her throat, but she made no retreat, instead leaning back to allow him to rise even more on his haunches. Within a nanosecond, his lips brushed hers innocently, and electric fire bolted a jagged path across his skin and plummeted straight into his gut.
She paused. "Theron," she hushed his name in the dim red light of the shuttle's instrument panel, the light casting a beautiful luminescence across her face. Her tone was warning but at the same time inviting, and he only hesitated a moment before moving in again and squeezing her hand in reassurance. He knew the same thing was going through her mind as his.
A contented growl scaped his throat, "I've missed you, Nyyah," he managed. She fell into the back of the chair, as if taken aback by his statement; him pursuing to let his hand fall into place along her cheek, careful to mind the bruising along her jaw. For a moment, he pressed his lips against her own carefully, awaiting her consent – hoping, praying that she would relent and give in to all the dreams and longings that he'd envisioned since Ziost.
And in a breath, she kissed him back just as she did on Rishi, and he was lost to those same dreams.
He stood fully now, bent over the chair, much the same way Kosso had hours earlier. But all vision of the Mirialan woman was gone. He took her face in his hands, letting his gloved fingertips trace the details of her skin and the outline of her face, committing her reactions and her feeling to his memory. Her responses and body language filed somewhere in the back of his mind, halfway registering. Her strong and present scent was overwhelming, sending him into a tailspin, but he was doing collectively well at staying on his feet when everything in him wanted to plummet to the floorboards of his shuttle. Somehow, she had grabbed the front of his shirt tightly and pulled him farther down, out of breath. Her breath was short in her throat, and her pulse was hammering beneath his fingertips.
Suddenly, there was a shrieking beep, and Theron jumped as if he'd been caught in the act. He broke away from her, whipping around to stare at the intruding noise, and went for the instrument panel. So distracted was he and flustered that he didn't even register that the noise wasn't the shuttle's instrument panel, but it was her wrist comm-link. She answered the call, pressing the flashing icon. She then touched her ear, blinking even in the low light, trying to catch her breath.
Theron, distractedly trying to massage reason back into his brain through his neck, took the opportunity to retreat back to the bunks and grab his jacket. He slipped into it, noting the slight tremor to his hand and the throbbing of the organ which he had previously known as his heart ramming against his ribcage. He was breathless and hot all over, and felt ecstatic. There was nothing that could dampen his mood now freshly invigorated. For the life of him, he couldn't remember what he'd been moping about a few hours earlier. And that wasn't necessarily good for the reputation of his professed career.
He was fixing the collar of his jacket when she appeared in the doorway, half leaning in with her braced hand on the shuttle's entry frame. She studied him a moment, her eyes darting across his body, before she held his gaze in a command draw. Her broad shoulders were suddenly squared with responsibility, and she had the call of duty in her eyes. Her chin was even jutted up in a superior lift. He didn't even have to ask her who was on the other end of the comm-link.
She volunteered the information wringing his mind for answers. "Darth Marr has requested my presence in Wild Space," she breathed quietly but with strength, holding his attention. "He sent coordinates. I have to go. Kira is waiting with the Defender in the refueling bay."
His brow rose, before his stomach plummeted in uncertain woe. "Whoa, hold on a second. Nyyah –"
She shook her head, "There isn't time, Theron," she swooped into the side corridor, grabbed the front of his leather jacket, and pulled herself against his body in every way that was perfect. She ran her fingertips over his unshaven face and scanned his eyes with her own. "I have to go. This is the opportunity I've been waiting for. You and I both know I can't abandon a chance to catch him."
And with the word "him", Theron had the sinking feeling that something dreadful was brewing in the galaxy. A nagging feeling pitted itself in his chest – an instinct that he had learned to never disregard as a field operative faced with unnameable dangers. He took her arms in his hands strongly and looked deeply into her eyes, pulling information from her in ways only an SIS operative could. Everything she was telling him he didn't like, at all. His warning bells were going haywire to the point that he was certain his implants would fry straight through to his skull.
"Are you sure?" He gripped her tighter, his fingers digging into the flesh of her arms. She blinked, looked down to his hold, and looked back up at him, a wrinkle of concern floating across her brow. "Nyyah, this is Darth Marr. You know how dangerous he –"
She nodded. "I know, Theron. But I must go. The Force calls me," she suddenly pressed herself against him and wrapped her arms around his middle, burying her face in his chest. He stood there for a moment, dumfounded, with his arms still outstretched, the Jedi Battlemaster clung tightly to him. "I have to leave. I just have to." Her voice was muffled against his chest, and he felt like melting into the wall.
He sighed deeply, understanding her. One's calling was unfortunate in the game of relationships, and he knew he couldn't make her stay. Her destiny was to defeat the Sith Emperor, not that Theron believed in destiny any more than he believed in fate. But, he did trust the Force, and he understood her strength and dedication to it. It would be a fool's errand if he forced her to stay. He wrapped his thick arms around her, nuzzling his nose deep into her curly locks, breathing in every intricate smell of her before he was once again forced away. He committed them to memory immediately, and pressed a kiss into her hair.
"I know you do," he said quietly, "and I know I have to let you go." He held her tighter, both of them just standing in the now seemingly dim lights of the shuttle, until he shuffled her back a step and took her face in hishands. He stroked his thumb along her cheekbone, the other tucking her hair behind her ear, only to pull it back over her shoulder. She held his attention in that commanding way she always did, and he flickered his HUD to capture an image of her to add to the growing collection he kept stored in the memory banks of his implants.
She sighed. "I'm sorry, Theron," she swept in again, poised herself on tip toes, and kissed the corner of his mouth affectionately, "I'll be back. I promise." She went to move away before he grabbed her arm and pulled her back into him, lowering his head to kiss her hard. She let her head fall back and met him with just as much pent up passion and dedication that he had hoped for. She tasted bittersweet and promising, and he was almost suffocating in grief.
He released her. "Don't make promises you can't keep," he said pointedly, watching her shuffle backwards and fumble out of the side corridor towards the cockpit. He followed her out of the shuttle, watching her descend the landing platform. He fell against the frame, folded his arms in front of him, and crossed one foot over the other as he watched her meld into the quiet hangar.
Something prickled to life on his tongue, three little words that he'd been aching to say, and he bolted upright. "Nyyah, I – " he called after her. But she was already gone, talking into her wrist link, jogging out of the bay with her cloak billowing out the hangar door behind her. She left him standing there until he fired up his shuttle and lingered in orbit to watch her Defender jump into hyperspace. He wasn't that far behind her, charting a path back to Coruscant in the wake of her promise to return victorious.
That was the last promise Theron Shan allowed himself for four long years, and that was the last anyone had seen of Nyyah Mosse since.