Disclaimer: Geez, I get it already! Bah, humbug.
It was the first family reunion that Carth had attended in years, and he was dreading it. Of course, if asked about the family that would be attending, he would have to admit that they weren't family at all. A twi'lek, a wookie, a cathar, a mandalorian, two droids, a cranky old jedi, a woman who had fallen to the darkside, and a decorated war pilot certaintly didn't bear any sort of resemblance. But the crew of the Ebon Hawk had, in a way, adopted eachother, so they called eachother family.
Canderous wouldn't be attending, and neither would the two droids, of that Carth was sure. T3 and HK had gone with Revan when she left, although HK was found alone and deactivated by an enraged Canderous only a week after her departure. T3 was now missing in action, along with his master. Canderous, humiliated and furious at himself for having lost his daughter-figure, went off to Dxun soon after. Last Carth had heard, the old war hero had become Mandalore.
Carth refused to let his mind dwell on Revan…Aminta…whoever she really was. The two years after the defeat of the star forge had been difficult at best, but they had also been some of the happiest years of his life, for Revan was there by his side. The discussion of marriage had come up several times, and each time that they had talked about it, Revan had shyed away from commitment. Carth wasn't going to push her; after all, he and Morgana had dated for nearly six years before tying the knot. He wasn't going to expect Revan to do the same after only two and a half.
I wonder when it was that I began thinking of her as Revan? he thought absently as he pulled on his worn orange jacket. He had to trade in his favorite item of clothing for a stiff, itchy dress-coat, made heavy by a cluster of medals on his left breast, far too often. The combat boots and broken in, well worn armor of the ebon hawk's crew had soon been replaced by shiny dress boots that gave them blisters, and stiff, formal ensembles that left them sweating and miserable. Their bantering tones had been ursurped by cultured, educated voices, and polite conversation that left Mission on edge. He missed the days before he had become a hero.
Almost as much as he missed Revan. He quickly blocked the thought of the former dark lord from his mind, and turned to look at himself in the mirror. There were new lines on his face, but not around the corners of his mouth or eyes; he didn't laugh often enough for that. He was grey at his temples, a stark difference from his auburn hair. He had aged decades in the past five years.
But though a line had deepened between his brows, and he looked hard and weathered, he had never cried about the loss of his love. After all, no matter how much thier hearts ache, no matter how much sorrow fills their bodies, men don't cry.
Carth let out a harsh sigh, and finished pulling on the rest of his clothing, turning to the mirror again to survey his appearance. He was dressed the same as the day that the star forge had been defeated, but gone was the triumphant smile, gone was the sparkle in his eyes. He was now an empty shell of a man, living in a life shadowed by memories. He was not the man he once was, but he spared no tears on the matter. After all, men don't cry.
Carth exited the aparment, but turned at the door and looked back inside. His mind traveled to a different time, and before his eyes, the apartment came to life.
Carth, will you zipper me?" Aminta called, struggling to manage her watersilk dress.
Carth exited the refresher, buttoning his jacket. "I hate this," he grumbled under his breath as his finbgers clumsily pushed the flashing gold buttons through thier holes.
"Here, let me help you," Aminta laughed, her own challenge of fixing her dress forgotten as she nimbly began to button Carth dress jacket for him with her long, graceful fingers. When she was finished, she stood on tip-toe, and gave him a quick kiss. "Now will you help me?" she asked, turning so that Carth had easy access to the zipper that ran the length of her back.
Carth chuckled. "Why don't you go like that? You could cause a brand new fad."
Aminta shook her head, and poked him in the ribs. "I am not a trend setter, besides what the Holonews says."
Carth laughed at the memory of her face when she had seen the program. "Yes, yes. Revan, the prodigal Jedi Knight turned fashion diva," he said, quoting the advertisement. He chuckled as she groaned. "You don't look nearly as pretty on the Holovision as you do in real life."
"Thank you, dear," she said dryly, turning around again. "Now will you please zipper me? If you don't, we'll be late!" She exclaimed.
Carth sighed ruefully, and did as she asked, his calloused fingers snagging on the delicate silk. Once she was zipped, he leaned down and kissed her neck, before blowing as hard as he possibly could into her ear.
Aminta jumped as high as a gizka on a rainy day, and then she whirled around to face him. "I'll get you when you're least expecting it, Onasi, mark my words!" she exclaimed, playfully wagging her finger in front of his face. She didn't seem to upset by his actions, however, for she was laughing.
Carth joined her laughter. "And what will you do? Throw a pillow at me?" He asked in the referance to the many times that she had thrown one at him after he had insulted her.
Aminta tapped her chin with her index finger in mock thought. "Hmmm…maybe I'll put sand in your boots, and itching powder in your clothes when you're sleeping. Or of course, I could use the force to tap on your shoulder all night long so that you're constantly spinning around."
"Oh really?" Carth asked, a grin lighting up his handsome features. "All of that seems far too harsh a penatly for blowing in your ear," he teased her, wrapping his arms around her waist, and pulling her close to him. "Don't you think?"
Aminta laughed. "Well, maybe a little. Do you have any better ideas?" she asked, playing into the game that she knew that he had set up.
Carth raised his eyebrows. "Well, I could do everything that you want from me when he get home tonight…"
Aminta cocked her head to the side, and tried to hide a smile. "Hmm…That doesn't sound so bad. Maybe I won't have to become a dark lord and chain you to my throne as a love slave after all."
"I'm glad you decided not to do that. It wouldn't be very comfortable sitting on a stone floor all day," he said, leaning down to her.
Aminta smiled. "I wouldn't be sitting on my throne all day you know," she informed him, managing to sound somewhat haughty. When she saw his face, she burst out laughing, and didn't resist when he leaned down to kiss her.
"Let's skip this ceremony. There will be hundreds more," he murmured into her hair.
Aminta pulled away with a light laugh. "You are not getting out of it so easy this time, Mister. I know you hate them; hey, so do I! But we have to do our duty as saviors of the galaxy. Besides, if we skip another one, Mission will kill us in our sleep."
Carth chuckled, and allowed himself to be dragged out the door. "Women," he laughed, as he followed Aminta.
Carth watched the two ghost-figures from his past exit, before sighing, and turning off the lights in the apartment. The old place had so many memories…he looked down to the ground, and shut the door. But he did not let a single tear fall. After all, men don't cry.
The reunion was everything that Carth had expected it to be, and yet, at the same time, it wasn't. Everyone was friendly to each other, sure, and teased each other from the old jokes of their past, but it just wasn't the same. Only five members of the crew were there; four members were missing as well. But the most important of all, the crew's leader, the reason that they were a family, was missing…fighting an ancient war in a place that none would find her.
And so, becuase the pain of her loss was intense for every member present, she was not spoken of, and most of their journey to the star forge wasn't discussed. Many of the things that they remembered of Revan would have been better to be shared than kept to themselves…like when she and Mission had snuck in on a drunk Zalbaar and, much to his mortification, braided his fur…Or the time when Carth and Jolee had unwired HK, much to Revan's chagrin…Or when Canderous and Revan had spiked Bastila's tea… or a thousand other stories that could have made the mood of the evening light. But there was that constant shadow hanging over them, forbidding them to speak of her.
Carth wearily ran a hand over his face, and shrugged off his orange flight jacket, thankful that he had been able to wear the old thing to one occasion. Mission had looked so much older…she was a woman now, although Carth would always think of her as the teenager who lost everything, but still found a way to laugh.
He finished undressing, and left the clothes in a pile before heading to the refresher, letting the hot water of the shower drown away his sorrows for a short time. Everyone had changed, he supposed. What, did you think that Mission would stay a child forever? That Bastila would always master her emotions? That Zalbaar would never leave them and become the chieftan? That Revan would always be here… He let the water run over his face, feeling like hot, searing tears on his skin. But he did not cry. After all, men don't cry.
He got out of the shower, and climbed into bed, acutely aware of how large it was, and that only one body had filled it for the past five years. He smiled slightly in the dark, knowing that the sheets were the color of soft pink. When his son had seen the apartment for the first time, decorated with vases of flowers, frilly curtains hanging from the windows, and a lacy pink comforter on the bed, Dustil had nearly swallowed his own tongue. Now, though, his son's attitude had changed. He had gotten involved with a woman, and she had moved some of her stuff into his apartment. Now, when the guys came to play pazaak, Dustil had to hide the doilies and potted roses beneath furniture and inside the shower. Carth should know, he'd helped his son to do a rushed eradication of feminine taste several times over the past few months. He closed his eyes, and drifted off to sleep, thoughts of Dustil on his mind.
Carth was never a light sleeper, not really. Though he had his nights, he had learned early while fighting the wars to sleep anywhere, and to compact several hours worth of sleep into a relatively short time. So when he woke in the middle of the night, his first instinct was that something was wrong. He quickly became aware of his surroundings, starting when he recognized the once familiar warmth of someone in his bed. He took a deep breath and exaled, wishing that he would have continued the habit that Revan had ended of keeping his blaster under his pillow.
But then, he caught a faint glimmer of her scent, floating through the air from the body beside him. Revan had once told him that on Deralia, the women of fine houses each have thie own distinct perfume, so that no one's was exactly like another's. It added to their charm, or so she had told him. Revan's perfume was subtle and soft, and brought to mind the image of pink roses covered in morning dew. It can't be, he thought, and rolled over.
He stared into a pair of eyes so bright a blue that it was impossible for there to be another like them. The woman's golden face was framed by thick, dark locks of ebony hair, shimmering with red undertones in the moonlight. It was undoubtedly Revan who stared back at him, her full lips curving back into the hint of a smile.
Carth pushed himself up into a sitting position without removing his gaze from her face. She had changed too, over these years, though only subtely so. Her eyes no longer sparkled with the mischief that they used to, but instead were filled with tenderness. She had the very beginnings of laugh lines around her mouth and eyes, but they were so faint that none would notice them without looking for a change in her. The years had been kind to her. "Revan," Carth managed past the lump n his throat.
She laughed soflty, gently tracing the outline of his jaw with the back of her hand. "So, I'm Revan now?" she asked, a trace of sadness in her voice. "When did I become that?" she asked quietly, dropping her hand from his face.
Carth swallowed, and stared at her. "You left me. You didn't even say goodbye," he said softly, his voice choked with bitterness and betrayal. He remembered the morning that she had left…everything had seemed to be fine between them, and he hadn't understood…
"I couldn't, Carth. If I would have tried to," she let out a long sigh. "I never would have been able to go. I left you a note," she told him, her eyes lowering to her hands, clasped in her lap.
"A note. Two years of loving me, and all that you left me was a note?" Carth choked out, staring at her incredulously. He had pictured her return somewhat differently than this, although he knew that he was causing the problems. "A note that told me to forget you and to find someone else?"
Revan winced. "It hurt me as much to write that as it hurt you to read it," she said softly, looking up at him with unshed tears glimmering in her eyes. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you…I certaintly didn't want to hurt you…but I had to go."
"Why?" Carth gound out. "What could possibly be so important that would rip you away from everything that you knew and loved?" he asked her, supressing the urge to comfort her when he saw her flinch.
Revan took in a deep breath before letting it out. "There is a second Sith acadamy, on Malachor. I left to fight against the dark Lords that had gathered there."
"And you've defeated them? With no one to tell the tale?"
"Not yet," she whispered, looking away from him. "Apparantly, the force found a better vessel than I to carry out its work. I meditate, working behind the scenes, using my mind to further her work and save her from those who wish to harm her. We are almost finished, Carth. I'll be home soon!" she exclaimed, gently cupping his cheek with her hand.
"You mean that you're not here?" he asked, swallowing.
"I am, but only through the force," she whispered bitterly, lowering her eyes again. "I've missed you so much," she murmured, leaning close to him, allowing a single tear to fall from the pool growing behind her lids.
Carth brushed it away. "So this is only a dream?" he asked softly, cupping her face with his hands, remembering how he had once taken their closeness for granted. Now, even this dream seemed to be a priveledge.
"I suppose that you could say that," Revan said, putting her hands over his own. She let out a deep sigh, and leaned close to him so that they were but a breath apart. "I have to go now," she whispered.
"No," Carth moaned, and tightened his arms around her. "Don't leave. Not again."
Revan brushed away several more tears from her cheeks. "I love you Carth," she murmured, kissing him softly on the lips. And then…she was gone. Carth stared down at his empty arms, the emptiness in his heart overwhelming him.
"I love you too…Aminta," he whispered into the blackness of the night. He had felt alive for the first time in years, and he had nearly forgotten how good that it had felt. And now, he had been given a brief taste of life again, but it was torn from his grasp far too quickly, making him feel like he had lost her all over again.
Men don't cry he thought to himself, even as he wept.
Very meladramatic, huh? Anyway, your reviews are insanely appreciated...please don't make me beg!