I felt first, rather than saw, the enormous wave of pain.

Through the Force I touched the swirling cloud of deep purple and angry red mixed with black.

I gasped involuntarily-it was nearly overwhelming.

Reaching out further I felt the grey and green tendrils, momentarily marveling at how much more green there was than there used to be.

The emotions behind the colors took a bit longer to reach me, and when they did they nearly brought me to my knees.

Fury, and sorrow, and remorse. Sharp regret. Desperate longing. Pain, so much pain!

There was also joy, and passion, and the beginnings of peace. Simple pleasures. The feeling of finally belonging, of having a family. Love.

I was suddenly skidding on my knees, bracing him and cradling his head against my chest.

He was undeniably a mess. Bruises and lacerations covered him; one eye was nearly swelled shut. Blood blossomed over the right side of his chest, staining his tunic crimson. I only then saw the source-his arm was gone.

His arm- its gone! His arm is gone! It's gone! They cut off his fucking arm!

This repeated over and over in my head like a broken holorecording until I nearly reached frenzy.

I'd seen worse a thousand times over. I had been to war; hell, I'd thrived on war. I had witnessed unfathomable atrocities. Committed my share, as well.

But they take an arm, his arm, and suddenly I'm hysterical!

A small groan brought me back to reality. Everything was blurred, and I realized it was because of the lump dissolving in my throat. I inhaled sharply, biting back tears.

He looked about us wildly at first, unclear in his pain.

Then he focused on me, his gaze sharpening momentarily.

"You're... alive. Did... I... save you yet?"

I swallowed hard.

"Your eyes... that bad, eh? Always was ugly... now the outside matches. Was waiting for this, but...S' not fair... let you down..."

I broke in. "Atton, hold on, I can still help you! You've lost a lot of blood, but-"

"…was s'posed to save you! ...S' tired of living anyway... too many deaths... never told you... lied to you."

I used our tenuous Force bond to cut through to him, made sure he could hear me.

You did, Atton. You fought bravely, and I could not ask for a greater sacrifice.

We were both silent for a long moment, staring at each other.

I brushed back some stray locks of hair; traced the curve of his cheekbone with my fingertips; anything to create a diversion. His arm is gone!

"I don't want you to see me like this. I don't want to die in front of you... Can't bear it."

If you're trying to get rid of me, it's not working.

I held him closer and placed my free hand over his heart, feeling the cool silvery healing energy envelop us.

I wasn't trying to save him, not really. It was all I could do to ease his suffering, to take away some of that wretchedness and return some small comfort.

I need to show you something, Alia.

-No, save your strength-

I need you… I need you to know.

In a heartbeat he showed me everything. Every part of himself, every thought and every feeling.

I saw his childhood, his family, his brief happiness with them before it was torn away.

I saw his despair, and the beginnings of fury.

I saw his new hope, his new sense of purpose at becoming a soldier. How good he looked in uniform, and how proud he was that he picked up so many skills with ease.

I saw him awaken to his vices, drink and pazaak and women.

I saw the end of simplicity, his corruption, and the destruction the wars brought to yet another soul.

I saw him rise through the Sith ranks, torturing and slaughtering Jedi, becoming so full of hate that he was unrecognizable.

The galaxy doesn't need Jedi arrogance or hypocrisy anymore!

A pair of bright blue eyes, and the slow extinguishing of the light in them. Everything suddenly, brilliantly, beautifully, wholly coming to life around him while she died. Loving for only the second time in his life.

I killed her because I loved her-

I saw him flee, get lost and lose himself. I saw oceans of juma, mountains of credits lost and gained and lost again.

A revolving door of women, none with blue eyes.

I saw me, and nearly laughed out loud.

I was never one for first impressions.

built like a permacrete refresher!

I relived our journey, our arguments, our games, our flirtations, our blossoming friendship, always us.

I felt his grudging respect grow into awe; his compulsive need to protect me; his fierce anxiety about his past; his juvenile fantasies about the dancer outfit, and many other things; his secret joy at being a padawan; his shock at realizing that he could love again.

"….Loved you from the moment I first saw you, thought you were a dream...meant every word... tried to play it off as a joke... wasn't funny..."

You never needed to tell me, Atton. I knew.

"I'm sorry…for everything."

All that was your past is forgiven Atton. Be still.

"Alia…I…please, look at me."

I hadn't noticed that my eyes were squeezed tightly shut.

They're so lovely, your eyes. Remind me of Telosian honey.

He looked at me imploringly, and in that moment I realized that it was me that had been a fool all along.

"I love you."

It was all he needed to hear.