A Nice Day
Summary: Carth takes a well-earned break, but his problems are never far away. Thankfully, neither is Revan. Slash.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters.
It was a nice day.
But then, it usually was a nice day in Citadel Station's Environment Simulation Suit. Only a very few unusual species went there to request a hail storm or groggy, overcast skies. Some, understandably, liked light rain or intense heat, but for the most part the suit was used by those sick and tired of dry, heavily regulated air and artificial light. The air in the Environment Simulation chambers could be set to a variety of humidites and moisture levels, and the light was filtered directly from Telos' angry sun, the harmful radiation removed (to taste) and its intensity could be altered with a simple dial.
It wasn't home, but when a space station and a few strips of Ithorian-grown grass were all that was left of your planet you quickly learned to appreciate life's little luxuries.
"Watch this," said Carth. He pressed a couple of buttons on the slender control pad. "Rain! Real rain. The wet kind."
Revan narrowed his eyes. It was a simple thing to create a force-umbrella over himself but the Tarisian butter biscuits were already soaked, and it wasn't as if you could just call out and order the damn things any more. He made a grab for the pad but Carth edged away.
"Okay, okay. No more rain." He pressed a couple of different buttons and a brisk wind picked up. Revan watched in dismay as the last packet of the strange flash-baked tuber slices he'd picked up in the Corellian Sector on his way through tumbled off down the side of the hill. Their eventual fate was to fall prey to another couple of picnickers at the bottom of the slope, and Revan wondered if it would be the work of the dark side to run past and snatch them back. Probably, he decided, it would.
"Will you stop playing with that thing?" he asked, suddenly irritated. He had spent the entire week following Carth around the station like a trained Kath hound as he went about some apparently official business. Revan hadn't paid an awful lot of attention when the explanation was given. His comprehension of the situation extended as far as Carth going on an easy mission to a floating space station where things were fairly stable, but just unstable enough to warrant a Jedi escort. So far Revan's role in the mission had been to watch Carth inspecting troops and checking security, and waiting in their apartment until Carth's attention was diverted back to him. He knew he was getting edgy, but it was difficult to centre himself there. Telos was home to Carth and understandably he was affected by its destruction, but Revan felt the planet's pain at a deeper level. He had abandoned Carth one day to pester the Ithorians and see if there was anything he could do to help them restore the natural environment, but their suggestion that he accompany them to the planet's surface had triggered a blinding pain in his head, and he knew there was nothing he could do for Telos. This wasn't a planet that could be helped by manipulating the force – Telos would have to rely on individuals willing to sacrifice everything to save it. A far greater power lay in that than any Jedi's mastery of the force.
But it frustrated Revan, and that, usually, worried Carth. Any time Revan became anxious or unhappy or even a little afraid, Carth was there in fully worry mode, reminding him about the dangers of the dark side – as if Revan didn't know. He simply wanted to get off the station and back to a world where you could step outside and not be able to decide whether it was raining or not.
A short shower of snow began to fall over the picnic area. Revan stared as the remains of their lunch started to vanish under the soft white flakes. To his surprise, Carth was actually laughing.
"I haven't seen snow in … it must be a decade!" he grinned at Revan, who noticed, not for the first time, how much more attractive his friend was when he was smiling. It was a sight rarely seen, and if they were anywhere else – preferably in their own apartment on Coruscant – Revan would have melted on the spot, and probably dragged Carth into the bedroom for a couple of hours. As it was, he managed a forced smile and turned his attention to the bottle of Juma juice acquired from the cantina earlier that day. Carth utterly failed to pick up his concerned aunt impression and instead continued to grin as he selected a piece of fruit and leaned back on the grass.
"I preferred it when it was nice," said Revan shortly.
"Alright." Carth brought back the sunlight, and his satisfaction with the universe seemed to grow a little more. The snow vanished within a couple of minutes and the warm light did its best to thaw Revan's chilly mood.
The unit was one of a dozen or so in the suit, and was the size of a large field. Rolling hills occupied most of the landscape, coated with a layer of fairly realistic grass. A couple of clumps of trees were visible, and Revan thought he could see a small lake, but he assumed it was just there for the look of the thing. A couple of other groups were enjoying the unit, but only one other couple was really anywhere near them. Revan had wanted a little privacy, but Carth had insisted on this spot, under a small tree, with a good view of the surrounding landscape. For someone who had spent the entire trip working or worrying, Carth now seemed terrifyingly relaxed. Some horrible hidden part of Revan wanted to antagonise him until he discovered Carth's breaking point, but for the most part Revan was just pleased that one of them was having a good time.
"Did Telos look like this?" Revan asked after a while. He was sitting cross-legged with his back against the tree, on Carth's right. The question brought on another sudden smile. Revan had been too quiet, which was far from normal. Usually he was talkative and inquisitive – even nosey – and he tended to hum or whistle if he could find nothing to actually say. He was background noise personified, which Carth had come to realise was partially a personality trait, and partially a carefully orchestrated distraction. Attracting attention to himself and putting people off in discussion helped him manipulate minds, but as far as Carth was concerned it was like the soft humming of a ship's engine; things were getting intense if Revan was particularly talkative, but your real problems started as soon as he shut up for any length of time.
"I suppose so," said Carth after a moment's thought. "A little."
"I bet the grass wasn't this prickly."
"No. And these are mostly the wrong sorts of trees. We had a lot of unique species … The Ithorians are doing an admirable job, but they'll never bring Telos back. Too much was destroyed."
Revan paused for a moment, and in it he gave Carth's hand a sympathetic squeeze. "So," he said. "Why are we here?"
"Official inspection of Citadel Station's security," said Carth swiftly.
"Unofficially official," said Revan, who had caught onto this early on. "But I meant really. You're talking to me kind of really, not you're talking to a nosey TSF officer really."
Carth shook his head. "Maybe that's all the answer you're getting," he said shortly.
Revan let it go. "But you asked me to come for a reason."
"Perhaps. Maybe I just can't bear to be apart from you."
"Well that goes without saying. But I think there's something else."
Carth's gaze fell on the couple below them. A young man and woman, barely out of their teens, canoodling under a heavily branched tree. They were undoubtedly young children when Telos was razed to the ground, and Carth tried to imagine growing up in such a place, not knowing what real freedom and fresh air were. She was wearing a uniform which betrayed her as maintenance staff here at the Environment Simulation Suit – probably on her lunch break – and he wore a TSF uniform. Probably dreamed of getting off this station, had a savings account slowly building up. Even from here he could recognise the expression on her face. That was the look of a woman who was going to let nothing come between her and her chosen husband – whether he knew he was chosen yet or not. It was a look that spoke of a home in a respectable place, and children, and a future. That look, on a different face, still woke Carth up with tears in his eyes.
"Voyeur," said Revan, shoving him playfully.
"I was lost in thought."
"Again? You'd think they'd put a sign up or something…" Revan glanced down the hill. The younger couple had decided to try and reach the best looking fruits near the top of the tree, and she was clambering up onto his shoulders. Their laughter carried on the wind (soft breeze #3), and the last remnants of a smile fell from Carth's face.
"You miss her," said Revan quietly. Carth said nothing, but leaned back against Revan and sought out his hand. He gripped it tightly.
"I'm sorry I brought you here," he said quietly. "I … I wanted you to understand. Whatever remains of Telos will always be my home, and there are a lot of ghosts here I have to put to rest. I thought that maybe just by returning I could clear out some of the cobwebs."
"I dunno. My mind's playing games with me. I see my wife round every corner. Every child running round the place looks like Dustil."
Carth stared out at the landscape. "This place … it looks more like the surface used to than I let on. We used to go out to the countryside, take a picnic … Whenever I was on leave, we made time for it. And after Dustil was born, we just brought him along too. He loved the country, the space, the clean air…"
"A lot of people loved this world," said Revan. "One day it will be right again."
"But it won't be whole, and it will always be scarred. And eventually it'll die, just like everything else."
Revan raised an eyebrow. "And there I was getting worried that you'd lost your pessimism. Listen to me. There's nothing here either of us can change. Sometime you just have to shut the door on your cobwebs. You peek in occasionally, check they're still there, and threaten them with a duster, but they're best left alone."
Below them, the young couple were packing up their picnic things. They listened to their lively, animated voices for a while. Then Carth shifted position so he could put an arm around Revan.
"Despite everything that's in my past … I love you, you know that, right?"
"I'd forgotten. Remind me again?"
Carth smiled again, and Revan decided he couldn't resist that any longer. "Let's show them how it's done," he murmured, and pulled Carth in for a slow kiss as the youngsters passed them by.
For a while, it was possible to forget they were on a space station orbiting a wounded planet, that one of them had been Sith and the other would never get over the loss of his wife. It was possible to ignore the Republic and its troubles, the startled exclamations of their younger counterparts, and – more or less – it was possible to ignore the climate sensor pad that lay on the ground under Carth's hip. It snowed again for a few minutes, and then a small gale swept through, dragging away most of their lunch, and then finally a heavy rain settled in and drenched them through.
It was a nice day.