Of Loss and Leaders
Carth Onasi is a man of his word. He doesn't back down from obligation, and a promise sworn is a promise kept. He has earned a reputation for his honor and commitment, for his strength and capability. Men would lay down their lives for him, or follow his lead into battle without hesitation. He is known throughout the Republic as an upstanding war hero, a decorated Admiral toasted worlds over.
He is a man of the galaxy. He has seen more worlds and more combat in his forty-two years then most will see in their lifetime. He has seen planets crumble, fleets burn, and people destroyed. He has seen brutality, persecution, hatred and war. But he has also seen worlds rejoice, joy incarnate, and great beauty. He has seen compassion, understanding, love, and peace.
He is a man of broken dreams. He has lost a world to war, a wife to battle, a son to evil. He has fought across a galaxy that takes, and takes, and takes, but gives nothing in return. Time and time again he has been asked to lay down his desires and join a cause for nothing but more obligation and duty. His life has been shattered many times, yet he maintains a sort of tired optimism, brushing the dust and cobwebs off his battered hope in order to indulge in it once more.
And because he is who he is, he dedicates himself to a promise sworn to a woman who disappeared into that same greedy galaxy, and took his last dream with her.
His life is without meaning now. He lives within each day, repeating the routine over and over, and his friends fear for him. He is listless and sad; waiting for the once Sith Lord Revan to return and release him from his political shackles. They call him Admiral now, and bow, and scrape, and smile Firaxa smiles while they hiss that he's losing his touch behind his back.
Carth Onasi is tired, in every sense of the word.
But he wasn't always this way.
He was once bursting at the seams with good intentions, bravery, and purpose. He stood tall, fought hard, and laughed often. He led a life with a sad past, but he looked towards the future knowing that he had it within him to do great good for the universe.
Then one day, over a small planet called Taris, his life was changed by a slip of a woman with too much attitude, attention and appeal. He was enamored with her for a thousand different reasons that he couldn't pin down. The edge of her smile, the trail of her laughter, the curve of her hip, the thrust of her jaw, the curl of her lashes, the lost grace of her walk, the shadow in her eyes…
She dug, pried and prodded at the starved beast of his past, feeding it scraps of sympathy, honesty, and care, until it could not help but open to her. He was helpless to resist her, even before the Force ran through her like flames. And after, even upon discovering she has followed the path of a Sith lord – would have followed it to the end, had the Jedi Council not stepped in – he could not deny her. She swept through his veins, hotter and faster then blood, running over the tortured edges of his soul until he broke and knew he passionately adored this woman who had brought about the destruction of everything he once cared for.
Though she was once the Dark Lord Darth Revan, her past raped, her present weary and her future bleak, it was to his agony and chagrin that he could not stop his heart, and unwillingly fell in love hard, fast and feverishly.
There was only her.
She became a new mission; a new purpose. She was his to devote himself to.
Together they saved the galaxy, and he thought that she could find peace with him, and he knew that she truly tried… But the past continued to knock on their door, and the night he awoke to find Revan watching him sorrowfully, he knew that a parting had come.
The carefully accumulated dreams of Revan holding a little girl with auburn hair, a small home on Onderon, a holiday on the seas on Manaan, late nights twined within one another's arms, her laughter echoing over golden fields, the feel of her hand clasped within his at their wedding… those dreams began to dim.
He realized he was foolish, glassing over the woman for the dream. He had wronged her, and now there was no time to make it up.
Revan still had a purpose, and she would go to a place where her loved ones could not walk, where he could not walk..
She left him to shield her republic, and wait, and wait, and wait for her to return.
Sometimes, in the dead of night, he lies awake in his cold bed, once alive with the warmth and smell of her, - of them - thinking of her, dreaming of her, knowing she is out there because he feels her, touching the edge of the emptiness she left within him, like fire, like ice, burning and freezing and leaving an ache so deep in his heart he struggles to breathe.
The potency of his loneliness assails him constantly, and at times he wonders if he can truly hear the whisper of her voice softly against his ears, or wonders if he is going mad from the agony of their parting. He hears her; exhausted, reckless, brave, battling an evil he cannot face with her… It hurts, badly.
Perhaps if she was dead, he would be able to unchain himself from her woven spell of desperate promises and lost good byes, but Revan has not died. Instead, he aches for her, pines for her, knowing she is fighting for her life at the depth of universe, the darkness of the Force, and feeling powerless that he is unable to help the woman he loves because he doesn't understand she would not let him.
The pain of the death of his wife seems almost inconsequential compared to the wound that Revan's absence has left within him. Every time he realizes this, guilt tears at his weary mind, his somnolent soul, but because he is a good, honest man, he cannot help but be true to himself and his pain. It gasps inside him, hungering for her, yearning for her, leaving him tied to the past irrevocably. He knows that there is a time when she will return to him, but each day in her absence is more unbearable then the last.
He can smell her exotic scent at the edge of memory, taste her warm skin against his tongue, feel the ghost of her touch against his flesh until he is dizzy grief and loneliness, for he denies himself the company of other women. He remains for her. He exists for her. Every ship he captains, every fleet he commands, every battle fought and won, is all for her.
She asked him to keep the Republic strong, and he will.
He had had her – for a fleeting, quicksilver year she had been his. Though she battled her nightmarish past, and was hunted by demons of her old life, she was always his in the dead of night, in the heat of the afternoon sun, at the first brush of dawn, the fading violet of evening, in the bleakness of space, and the vastness of worlds… She was his.
Nobody would know her body as well as he did. Nobody would know the freckles that dotted her shoulders, or the length of her lashes. Nobody would know the curve of her hip, or the warmth of her legs wrapped around them. Nobody would know the taste of her tears, of her skin, or the weight of her breasts in their hands. Nobody would know what it was like to free her, to save her, to heal her.
He comforts himself with these truths, for he feels them in his heart, in his soul, and knows that wherever Revan is, the Force is guiding her. When the truth is not enough to assuage the hurt within him, he comforts himself with memories. Sifting through their time together like a well loved Pazaak deck, and carefully, oh so carefully, bringing the woman he loves to light.
Carth likes to recall a sunny morning on Manaan, watching her watch the sea, her hair as bright as copper in the sun and her fair cheeks flushed with ocean winds. She had been enraptured by its rhythmic beauty and soothing roar. He could feel the contentment radiating off of her in waves. He had come to stand beside her, hesitant, uncertain that she would be pleased with his intrusion. He risked a glance at her, and she caught his eye with a teasing smile.
"What's the handsomest star pilot in the galaxy doing over here?" she joked.
"Just came to enjoy the sights, beautiful," he rejoined readily.
She snorted indelicately and tapped a slim finger against the guard rail.
"I think the best ones are down there, flyboy," she teased, a hint of dejection in her tone.
She pointed further down the rail, where Bastila was now walking purposely down the boardwalk with a pensive Juhani by her side.
He looked back, catching the dismay in her eyes as they followed the poised, and admittedly beautiful, brunette.
He looked at her incredulously, taking in her wide gray eyes, the smooth creaminess of her skin, the rosy pink of her lips and the beautiful sheen of her red hair, and for a moment was transfixed by the uncertainty within the lovely face that usually showed nothing.
That was the moment Carth realized that she wasn't just a Jedi, she was a woman.
He remembers sitting beneath a patch of gnarled, fat trees on Dantooine, watching the plains burn with the blazing light of dawn. He had stood watch, blasters ready, keeping a suspicious eye on the now subdued Kath hounds because he found it nearly impossible to deny his solider blood even for a moment.
She sat with a prudish Bastila who was plucking daintily at a small bush covered in little purple berries and politely nibbling them. Carth's eyes drifted from Bastila to Revan, expecting the same grace and civility but instead finding the other woman with juice stained fingers and smears of violet staining her lips as she sucked the fruit from her hands. She was laughing at the brunette's sharp rebuke, eyes shining and hair gleaming in the fair light, and his breath had caught, because she was so lovely, and so young, he felt ragged, jaded and old. He felt dirty knowing he was falling in love with her.
He remembers an early morning while their ship was docked on Tatooine, when the desert outside was quite and the town had not yet risen. The other crew members still lay abed, but Carth could not find it within him to sleep for long, for the desert heat penetrated the Ebon Hawk, leaving him sweaty and disheveled. He had gotten up and ambled lazily into the main section of the ship, intending to bathe, only to hear that the refresher was in use, so he took a seat.
HK-47, hovering in the shadows, had looked at him suspiciously and fingered his blaster rifle.
"Statement: You have risen early, meatbag."
Carth sighed, rubbing his hand over his face. His stubble rasped against his fingers.
"Damn it, HK-47, the name is Carth. Learn it."
"Amused Query: Is something irritating you, meat-Carth? Shall I blast it?"
"Comment," Carth mocked, "I just want to clean up. I'm waiting to use the 'fresher."
"Sarcastic Remark: Though your need for sanitation rituals is obviously very dire, it is not possible at this time. Clarification: Master is making use of the cleaning receptacle as of this moment. You should come back later."
"No, I'll wait here if it's alright with you," Carth muttered, irritated at being slighted by a droid.
"Statement: Suit yourself, Carth-bag. Insinuation: Master has no qualms about her body, however. She sleeps in nothing but her undergarments, after all. I should hate to witness your embarrassment in the event of accidental exposure. "
For a moment, the droids sarcastic comment hung on the hair, and Carth's mind had run a lustful circle, picturing the slim redhead wet and naked within the confines of the 'fresher, all long limbs, soapy curves, and ivory skin.
He was so preoccupied, he didn't hear the door to the refresher slid open.
"You're up early," a teasing voice broke into his thoughts, and Carth jumped, standing abruptly and becoming painfully aware of his own state of attention.
It had been too long since he'd been with a woman, and she was such a tempting, teasing young thing. Damn it.
She stood in the doorway in her usual tight fitting regalia, still damp, and Carth floundered for words – an explanation – or anything.
"Dismayed Assumption: Judging from the flustered state of the meatbag, Master, it would seem that he was having perverted thoughts about you. Explanation: It would seem it is my fault, master, as I was telling him about your usual absence of nightwear."
Carth muttered something unintelligible, and stumbled into the refresher in abject humiliation, the girl looking after him with amused gray eyes.
And Kashyyk… Where the birds could always be heard but were never seen, and hatred and debasement hung over the planet like a mist. Unable to rest, Carth had thought he would go try to update some of the navigational controls. He had entered the cockpit, and there she was, combing out her auburn hair with slim fingers, cold starlight shining through the view port and casting her pale face in a pearly glow. She turned to him, her wide eyes lit with silver and filled with sadness, but a small smile tugging forlornly at her lips, and he was struck dumb by the beauty she exuded.
He suddenly knew why so many good people had followed her into war. He suddenly knew why they were willing to kill for her, die for her, without a moments hesitation. He suddenly knew, and it frightened him because at that moment, he would have to.
How could she look like a vicious murderer one moment, a terribly normal woman the next, and finally a wounded seraph?
He cursed himself, because he had never been good with crying women.
"You… I didn't… I'm intruding," he stumbled over words, eyes fastened on her face, and she shook her head softly.
"No, Carth," she said calmly.
His stomach flipped, and he felt like he had the day when he told her he thought he could love her if she gave him the chance.
"What is it, beautiful?" he had rasped, throat dry.
She had stood, moonlight dripping over her body and over the cold metal of the cockpit, and Carth had felt lust churning within him, despite his attempts to rein it in.
She was gorgeous, dammit, and young, and lithe, and half naked, and so damned desirable he ached all over. She was wearing little but the outermost Jedi robe, and nearly indecent undergarments. He wondered if she was doing it to purposely torture him.
But he had to reign in his desire, for her gray eyes were large and forlorn in the dim light, lacking the usual fierceness of her expression, and he couldn't bear to shame himself in front of her again.
"Carth, I sense your doubts. Every day your mind quells at the thought of me. You think that you are too old; too jaded. You think I am too young for you. You think I would be wasting myself on you. You think I would hold you back. You think that I am redeemed. You think I am a sinner. You don't know if I feel the same way. You know I do."
Carth could offer no argument, nor could he find it within him to feel anger at her intrusion into his innermost thoughts.
"You're right, beautiful," was all he could say.
Revan sighed, and stepped close to him. The scent of her hair swept over his senses, and his emotions stirred. He felt love, lust, fear, hopelessness, adoration, anger, comfort. Her breasts brushed against his chest, and his breath caught. She swayed against him, a small hand lifting up and curling around the back of his neck. Her fingertips buried themselves in his hair.
His hands itched to touch her and he relented, gripping her waist and pulling her against him. She sighed, eyes drifting shut, but not before he saw the answering desire in her own.
"Revan…" he whispered, unsure.
She stood on her toes, and touched her lips to his; a tenderness to her touch utterly at odds with her normal movements. With a groan Carth had relented, deepening the kiss and tightening his embrace. She tasted of breezes and sand, of berries and sweet grass, of mist and starlight, of ale and smoke, of wind and sea…
His stubble rasped against her fair skin, burning her, marking her as his. He learned that she was a different person when he was making love to her; a soft, feminine girl who wrapped her long limbs all around him and buried her face in his neck, whispering that she loved him, had loved him since she woke up to his face on Taris, and would love him always, and always, and always…
Later, he was chagrined, unmanned by his haste and rampant desire, and appalled that their first experience with one another had been one pressed against the wall of the Ebon Hawk. But at that time, nothing could have been more beautiful. Nothing could have been more completing.
After that night it was as if something had been unleashed with their joining. They touched in secret; a brush of the hand, a sweep of the arm, a stroke of the leg… all taking on new meaning… Anything to stay in contact, to stay together.
It was if they had always known that their time together was fleeting.
Sometimes he had watched her spar, or was struck dumb and still as she leaped – practically flew - ahead to destroy whatever new threat arose to test them. The beauty of her motion as she moved made him see she was a dancer in the darkest sense of the word; all streaks of violet light, violence and loveliness. She was an angel about to kill.
Often, her auburn hair had slid from its confines, swirling around her heart shaped face and stinging her wide gray eyes; and when he knew she had been Darth Revan, he was perversely intrigued that such evil could be sheltered in such a deceptively small, feminine form.
And she was so young, and so tender, to have done so much good and so much more evil in her life. He had felt old beside her; yet strangely naïve, and now, in her absence he feels like a fool.
He has nothing but his memories to cheer him as he waits for her, and they are little comfort.
Carth Onasi is a man of many choices, and because he is who he is, he will wait, alone, for the day when Revan will return to him from the depths of space. Whether she returns to him of darkness or of light is of no consequence now. He only cares that she return alive.
He can hope, and pray, and curse, and hate, but nothing will bring her to him faster. He has a small light in the dimness of his life, that of the Exile, who follows Revan's path with his message, but nothing in his future is certain, and he fears for them both.
He will wait for Revan.
He will wait for life.
He will wait for love.
He will wait forever.
I love you… You know that, right? I love you even… even now, after… after… after all you've done.