Entanglement

Entanglement is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects have to be described with reference to each other, even though the individual objects may be spatially separated

The tension, he notices, is palpable. Oh, not to the other crew members, all wound up in their own problems and their relationship with him and their mission and their pasts. To them, the Iridonian seems calm, almost serene alongside Atton, Mandalore and that awful HK droid. Tolerant, flippant, diligent Bao-Dur. His obsession with fixing up the Ebon Hawk makes him something of a loner, socialising with the others only when there is nothing left to mend or tinker with, but he always has time for the Exile. A steady gaze, and that soft voice.

"Yes, General?"

And he doesn't know what to say. Not this time or the time before – or the dozen times before that.

"Never mind."

But he doesn't leave the garage. He stands back and watches Bao-Dur work. Those hands that built the ultimate weapon of destruction fiddling with the innards of his ship, making things better, run smoother, faster, more efficiently. Their minds cooked it up, together. Oh, Revan was there in the background, making suggestions, getting in the way, always nosey, asking questions. What's that for? Can't that be bigger? Why not use two of those instead of one? And the pair of them tolerated Revan in the same way Bao-Dur tolerated him. The Mass Shadow Generator. It was his baby, his creation. He designed it, built it, and when he could no longer get his broad hands inside it he designed droids to build it for him.

That in itself wasn't the crime. A good man can make a blaster, can love the design, the weight of the thing, the beauty of the culmination of different technologies in an object with one purpose, but it needs a bad man to decide to take that blaster and hold it to someone's head.

Except this was worse. Much worse. He feels the pain now, the knowledge that it was his decision to destroy Malachor V, to murder everyone on it, and as the sensation sweeps over him, Bao-Dur looks his way, eyes calm, hands clenched into fists.

"You didn't have a choice, General." The same words, every time they talk about it, which isn't often. "I did. I could have left it unfinished, but I was too proud. Once I'd completed it, you had no choice."

He says nothing. Bao-Dur watches him. Bao-Dur is always watching him, even when he isn't there. War creates bonds as easily as it breaks skulls, and such bonds can see through walls. Through planets. Through time.

"I wasn't thinking about Malchor." A lie. He is always thinking about Malachor.

"Forgive me, General. I just assumed…" His voice trails off. The words aren't there. For some things, there are no words. The void of things unspoken has hung between them since they found each other again on Telos, and neither of them is sure how to build the bridge to span it.

They need each other, that much is clear, although for what, and how long neither can speculate. It's not a fondness, for they hardly know one another, and it isn't lust. But it is love, after a fashion. True love. True, brutal, gut-wrenching love. Their pasts are knotted together – bound by a million deaths and one brief glance – and their futures are one. To be apart in the present is not possible.

He kisses the cyborg once. Only once, too briefly, too lingeringly, a kiss containing a billion words he cannot say. And they hold each other in the patchwork garage of a battered ship for eternity, if an eternity can exist bound up in a minute or two. They are both sure that it can. Eternities crop up all over the place, they realise, for they were both at Malachor and will never leave.

Maybe he will kiss him again, in a different eternity. Maybe he will allow himself some passion for this one, the only one who has seen through his eyes, but she – blinded, cloaked, wounded – does not think so. His base lusts will be his downfall, but they are reserved for others, the Miraluka, perhaps, or the fool. Those who deserve to be treated as possessions or desires, as bone and flesh and saliva. But not this one. This one deserves so much more. To exist is to be alone. Every being exists in a universe of their own, devoid of life except themselves. Sex, dance and battle are nothing but vulgar attempts at escaping that, and to engage in such things with one who has stood with you in your universe, seen with you, understood with you is the only genuine sin. She knows this. He knows this. The cyborg knows this.

And perhaps she doesn't see the way he glances behind him as he leaves, and perhaps he doesn't see Bao-Dur touch his own lips with his finger – maybe subconsciously, maybe not – and perhaps neither of these things happen. And if they do, perhaps they mean nothing. Perhaps they mean more than they know. To find meaning in something is to imbue it with purpose, to give it power – which is to say energy, which is to say matter, which is to say mass – and maybe one day he will know what the Iridonian felt for him. Maybe, together, they will break the only rule that matters.

Or, maybe, they will simply break.