Edge of the World
Rating: PG-13 or whatever.
Pairing: Carth/Male Revan (Light side? Dark side? Who knows?)
Author's note: This story needs some work doing to it. I basically fleshed out a fairly well established post-KotOR theory and added sexual tension. As you do. Quite definitely slashy, but not explicit, unless you go too far with your lightsabre metaphors. Ahem. Anyway, please review with any thoughts and such. And enjoy!
The difficult part was explaining to Bastila why he had to go alone. Part of him wanted to bring her with him because he knew she longed to see Revan again as much as he did, but another part of him – a hidden, secret part – wanted desperately to have this first meeting with Revan to himself. He couldn't explain why beyond that the message had been explicit; Dantooine, twelve standard months, come alone. Alone didn't incorporate tag-along Jedi, and Bastila, evidently furious, was left standing on Coruscant as Carth boarded the transport bound for the outer rim.
Now he was on his final descent to the grassy surface of Dantooine, and he couldn't shake Bastila's disapproving face from his mind's eye. Surely she couldn't just be jealous that Revan wanted to see him and not her? She was a Jedi after all … but Carth was not ignorant of her feelings for their absent friend. He had never asked Revan whether Bastila's emotions were unrequited, and for some reason he didn't want to know. It wasn't his business, and he was no longer irritable enough to mind being the last member of the trio.
But mostly his mind was on the day ahead. Revan had not specified a place or even a time, but Carth was certain he knew the former. As he headed towards the abandoned Jedi enclave, he wondered if he was in for much of a wait. Of course, the wait of the last eight years would make a couple of hours seem like nothing, but to know Revan was actually coming made time drag by.
It was a brisk spring afternoon, as far as Carth could gather. The sun was warm on his back as he trudged across the vast grasslands in search of a landmark, with his hand resting on his blaster in case of attack. But the place seemed silent, almost deserted, without so much as a Kath puppy in his way. He could sense a great influence on this planet without any need of the force to tell him such things. Someone did not want Carth to get hurt, and so nothing was going to cross his path, be it animal or sentient. Even the clans of scavengers and the rogue Mandalorians he had been warned about in the tiny settlement where he docked were nowhere to be seen. A few grazing animals lingered in the distance and would never have approached him anyway, and the one human he glimpsed on the plains was running in the opposite direction – an unnerving sight in any situation.
Bastila had even gone so far as asking him – just the once – not to go. She claimed to sense many hurdles and many deceptions in his path, but Carth could not entertain these ideas for more than a moment. The force meant so little to him he could not take its word for anything. And besides, there hadn't been a single 'hurdle' in this journey. Not one hitch had marred his trek to the outer rim, not a single shuttle delay or maintenance problem, no pirates or smugglers, no unexpected problems of any kind.
It had been easy.
And now here he stood, staring across at the Jedi enclave, the place he had made home for the months during Revan's re-training. He realised he was aching, physically, to see his old friend again, and in an instant he was running across the bridge and into the compound where the door to the abandoned enclave stood wide open. He skidded through the door and caught the wall to steady himself. With one deep breath, he headed towards the chamber where the masters had once held their council.
There was one lone figure there now, dressed in black. Carth could swear that his heart missed a beat at the sight of the dark robes draped around Revan's lithe figure. He had never seen Revan wear black, the colour of dark Jedi, and he froze in the doorway.
"You came..." The head rose revealing the familiar face under the dark cowl. Revan's smile became fixed when he saw Carth's expression. "What? The robes? A simple camouflage for the dark places I have walked in … and the robes of a Jedi attract far too much attention. Besides, you know better than to judge by appearances, old friend."
Revan's voice was as soft and calm as ever, and Carth allowed himself to relax. Revan approached him at a leisurely pace, suggested a stroll around the courtyard, and walked comfortably close to Carth as they set off.
"We have a lot to discuss," said the Jedi, eventually. "How is my republic? I left it in the best hands in the galaxy."
Carth considered his answer. "Things are … settling down. The senate argue over everything but things are getting done. There are even more restoration projects, and Telos is-"
"She's kept herself busy. We keep in contact with the others, when we can, but I see less and less of all of them."
Revan managed a kind of facial shrug. He kept his arms tucked into his robes, but his elbow brushed Carth's side, making the soldier shiver.
"I always assumed, once I was gone, that you two would marry."
"Bastila and I?" Carth laughed. "I like strong people, but her temper is too much."
"Hmm." Revan stared at him for a moment. "She still follows the light?"
"Of course. She doesn't let her quick temper mar her judgement.
Silence enveloped them once more. It was enough to walk together for now, through the silent, echo-less building. If there were ghosts here, Carth couldn't sense them. There was a peace permeating the building like soft, subtle fog, and if he wasn't mistaken, the sensation was centred on Revan. The icy tendril of doubt that had pricked his mind on seeing the black-clad figure had now thawed, and he relaxed in the knowledge that Revan was still on his side – on the Republic's side.
"And how are you keeping?" Revan asked eventually. "You look well. Calmer than I've ever seen you."
"I feel well. You know I was promoted…" he knew, had always known, that Revan knew about his promotion to Admiral long before anyone else. Had probably orchestrated it, pulling strings no one else could see, and putting pressure on points no different, to Carth, than any other point in the galaxy. Revan needed people he could trust in positions of power and, it pleased Carth greatly to know, Revan could rely on him two hundred per cent.
"I expect you want to know where I've been."
Carth had been holding this question back. He did want to know – desperately – but almost feared the answers. It was widely known that Revan had travelled beyond the known universe, and it was hard to imagine what new threats lay beyond the outer rim.
Revan paused near a silent fountain and stood close to Carth, who could not bring himself to take the step backwards that would make the distance between them less intimate.
"You're not going to tell me," said Carth simply.
"There are no names for the places I've been," said Revan. "No adjectives for the sights or the sounds."
"Are we in danger?"
Revan sighed, and looked away from him for the first time. "Gravely," he breathed. "I cannot explain … it isn't possible. The reason we are here is that I must make you understand something, something which it is … impossible to understand."
"Listen. We are all threatened by something we cannot comprehend. To fight it, to save the Republic…" A pained look settled on Revan's face, and he gripped Carth's shoulders with both hands, brought their heads close together and lowered his voice so if anyone else had been nearby they wouldn't hear a word. "There will come a time," he murmured, "when I will ask more of you than ever. I will ask you to follow me to places you will feel we should not go. Know this, Carth; Revan never fell. Not on Malachor, and not beyond the rim. I always did what must be done. As we hunted for the Star Forge, my mastery of the light side was regained. I have also embraced the dark."
Carth tensed, but Revan's grip on his shoulders was nothing short of vice-like. The serenity still radiated off him, but now it was possible to detect a darker undertone, a turmoil beneath the calm surface. It was unlike anything Carth had ever seen. Bastila maintained her allegiance to the light despite a fiery personality that she had learned to control. Revan was slave to no personality quirks, and he had not fallen victim to his emotions. He had consciously, and rationally, chosen to touch the dark side.
"You must understand," Revan said again. One handed shifted behind Carth's neck so that he almost embraced him, but in reality held him in a more effective grip. "I have not abandoned the light. I embrace the Force as a whole. So many Jedi aspire to what I have done, but none are strong enough."
"Are you strong enough?"
Revan laughed humourlessly. "I have to be. I have no choice." He moved his head slightly so that the tip of his nose brushed Carth's. There was something unexpected in Revan's eyes, beneath the determination and the courage that had always been there. Carth wasn't sure he had seen it right, but he touched Revan's chin with his hand and tilted his head up so he could look him in the eyes. And there it was: exhaustion. Not the simply every-day tiredness experience by all, but a deep, desperate, corroding fatigue that had never been present in Revan before.
"You need to rest, old friend," said Carth quietly. He shook off Revan's grip, but the Jedi grasped his shoulder again as if he needed the support. "When was the last time you slept?"
"I'm fine. It gives me strength just to see you again."
Carth gripped Revan's arm, offering him a little support as he gathered himself together. It was unusual to see Revan in a moment of weakness, and he suspected no other mortal would be given the privilege. It made him seem more human than Carth had thought of him in a long time. It was difficult to see any Jedi as a normal person, with their knowledge and their powers, and Revan was the most powerful of all the Jedi Carth had ever met. It was almost refreshing to feel the man's fingers tighten around Carth's upper arm, and his short, hot breaths on his neck. He put a steadying arm round Revan's back, and the Jedi stepped into the embrace automatically, resting his heavy head on Carth's shoulder and sliding his other hand up the back of his neck.
"We all have our burdens," Revan murmured into the silence. He found the base of Carth's hairline at back of his neck, ran his ringers through the short hairs there and enjoyed the sharp breath Carth drew in response. "I can shoulder mine, when the time comes. I need to know if you will carry yours."
"I've always had my burdens, Revan."
"They are nothing like the ones I would ask you to carry. You face a choice similar to the one I once faced. To save our republic, we must betray it. Both of us. Perhaps more than once."
"What are you planning?"
"That's a conversation for another time. When I am stronger, and when I am sure of certain things. For now I need your unquestioning alliance, your assurance that you are with me against our enemy even when it looks as though that enemy is me. Your trust is not easy to buy, and that's why I value it so greatly. You have to know I will come through for the Republic, for you and for Bastila, and whenever your faith in me is weakened – as it will be – I want you to think back to this day and remember what I have said. Are you my man, Carth Onasi, whatever happens?"
Silence fell again as Carth tried to comprehend what Revan was saying. To save our Republic we must betray it. What could that possibly mean?
He was plagued by doubts, but none of them were strong enough to shake his trust in the Jedi Revan. To have overcome as much as Revan and come through unscathed would be impossible – to come through still fighting was a genuine miracle. He was no force-wielder, but Carth was confident he knew Revan well enough to know when he was speaking the truth, and that his way – whatever that may be – was the only way.
Revan's hand was at Carth's back now, the other being used to steady himself against Carth's chest. His eyes, honest and bright as ever, told Carth the future was going to be far from easy. The choice lay between difficult and wrong, and difficult and right – with right and wrong having nothing in common with good and evil.
The Jedi sensed the doubt in Carth's mind. He gingerly touched his face, and offered him a smile. In the waning Dantooine sunlight it almost managed to look entirely un-sinister.
"We're standing on the edge of a dying world, you and I," said Revan. "We can share its fate, or we can create a new world for ourselves. If you stand with the Republic senate, you will die with their ancient ways. Stand with me, and that new world – that new galaxy – will be ours."
Carth nodded once, very slightly. He tensed as Revan adjusted his stance, moving from an intimate but chaste embrace to pull Carth close against him. Hip against hip, long fingers sliding through thick brown hair, blue eyes searching black for answers hidden too far below the surface to ever be found. Revan's lips sought out Carth's, but the latter was evasive. He pressed his left cheek against Revan's right, and let his hand slide under a fold of thick black cloth.
Beneath Revan's heavy outer robe, Carth found his lightsaber and unhooked it. He handed it to Revan with a questioning stare, and obediently the Jedi lit the blade. The courtyard glowed with a sharp blue light. Revan extinguished the blade and handed it back to Carth, who tossed it over his shoulder. It clattered across the courtyard, the sound loud and unsettling in the silent dusk, until it came to rest against a small, sickly tree. Revan watched it with his eyebrows raised.
"Weapons…" said Carth. "Necessary tools, but unimpressive. The same goes for the rest of your Jedi tricks. So cut out this-" he waved an arm at their surroundings, "this … whatever it is you're doing, this forced silence. The weird lack of animals, the … serenity you're trying to project at me. I'm your man, Revan, you've earned that. But when I look at you … it's impossible to see you without seeing a Jedi. I'm tired of looking at Master Revan, or catching glimpses of Darth Revan. Let your guard down for me. Surely I've earned that."
Revan closed his eyes, and almost immediately Dantooine came to life. A dozen sounds met Carth's ears at once – buzzing insects, the yowling of nearby hounds, the rustle of wind in the trees, human shouts – as well as a multitude of smells and other sensations. Brisk wind toyed with his hair and chilled his skin, and he realised he could smell water close by, as well as a faint scent of wood fire. Clouds that had wisely held back now rolled over the Khoonda plains, shedding a fine rain down on them.
Carth looked at Revan. Water began to soak their clothes, and a droplet formed on the end of Revan's nose. Pushing his hands into thick, black hair, Carth kissed him, hard, and the rain kept falling over the edge of the world.