Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters. Please don't sue.
"How is she?"
The doctor cast an appraising glance at the young woman who appeared beside him. Her slender body was tightly coiled, but her features remained smooth and her demeanor unruffled. Still, he wasn't fooled. I may not be a Jedi, he thought, but that girl is using all her strength not to run away.
Not that he enjoyed visiting this particular patient, either. From the day she checked herself in three weeks ago, Helena Shan had been demanding and difficult. Between her complaints about the food and the room temperature, she insisted that she be notified the very second her daughter arrived.
"She's a very important Jedi," Helena intoned to the medical droids surrounding her. "She will not be pleased to find out that you're freezing her poor, dying mother to death."
Helena had no visitors until this moment, and the doctor wondered about this figure that faced him now, her large brown eyes accentuated by the pallor of her skin. She looks like she's been to hell and back, the doctor mused. He consulted his datapad.
"She took a turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago," he replied, "but we've been able to stabilize her condition." He paused, choosing his words carefully. "She hasn't much time, though."
A subtle wave of emotion rippled across the young woman's features before she quickly composed herself and straightened her spine. "How long?" she asked, her eyes expressionless, but the grim set of her mouth betrayed her concern.
Yes, that one's a phoenix, the doctor thought, but she's got a few tail feathers singed. He cleared his throat. "At the most, a few weeks. But there will come a time very soon when we won't be able to manage her pain any longer."
The young woman's hand went unconsciously to the pocket of the austere Jedi robes she wore. "Do all you can," came the steely reply. "And spare no expense."
Bastila's fingers twirled the small round object in her pocket nervously as she watched her mother sleep. Helena was thinner than when Bastila last saw her on Tatooine, her parchment skin stretched tight across the sharp planes of her face. The older woman's brows knit together and she moaned fretfully in her sleep.
"Shh," Bastila said, smoothing her free hand over her mother's hair. "Rest easy – mother." She nearly choked on that last word, and she wondered again what she was doing here, sitting with this dying woman whom she barely knew. Who she would never know, never understand, she thought balefully.
"No," she whispered, closing her eyes and rubbing her forehead with the tips of her fingers. She fought to dam the wave of rage and hate that flooded her brain. I can't deal with this right now, she thought desperately. It's just – it's just too much . . . .
Claustrophobic and terrified at the emotions boiling inside her, she made her way swiftly to the door. Bastila clutched at the object in her hand, her nails digging painfully into her palm. For a moment, she felt a soothing warmth emanating from the object's core. She paused, pressing her feverish cheek against the cool metal of the door. Reaching out through the Force, she called to Revan – softly, hesitantly – through their bond.
The flood of love and reassurance she received in return was in such contrast to her own earlier emotions that her knees buckled, and she leaned heavily on the door. When will I be strong enough?, she asked him. When will I no longer be afraid?
His answer came over a great distance – he had gone with Canderous and Master Vandar to survey the damage the Jedi Enclave had sustained in the Sith attack on Dantooine .
Use the Force, he replied. It will show you the truth you seek.
You always make it sound so easy. Her lips curved in a bitter smile.
It's not. She sensed his gentle rebuke. But you already have all the answers you seek, my love. Each challenge you face will grant you more understanding.
Is this one of my challenges? Bastila cast a wry glance over her shoulder at her mother's sleeping form.
You know it is, Princess.
Princess? She wrinkled her nose in annoyance. I see Canderous has been a bad influence. She sighed. I wish you were here.
Don't worry, my sweet. I'll be back soon and then you won't be rid of me. We have unfinished business, as well.
A wave of heat suffused her body at his words, and her cheeks were stained bright crimson. Bastila shivered, and tried to compose herself.
"Bastila? Is that you? Is it really you?" said a plaintive voice behind her.
She started at the intrusion, and her contact with Revan slipped away. No, don't go yet, she thought. But he was already gone. She sighed and turned toward Helena.
"Yes, mother, I am here," she cringed inwardly at the irritation in her voice.
Her mother stiffened, and raised her chin haughtily. "Well, it's about time," she sniffed. "I've been here for weeks without one word from you."
Bastila could barely harness the rage that flared within her so easily these days. Even reciting the Jedi code was not enough – only two or three hours of sparring could sap the pent-up energy her emotions created. All she wanted at this moment was to rip her own mother in half, and it scared her.
Once again, her hand sought the solace of the object in her pocket. Feeling its comfortable, warm presence gave her a small measure of peace. It was enough to keep her from inflicting physical damage, but her tongue was another matter.
"Perhaps I could have been here sooner, mother," she placed a biting emphasis on the last word, "but I got waylaid by a Sith lord. Although I must say his tortures were easier to bear than this visit."
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Bastila wished she could snatch them back. But they hung in the air between the two women, dark and hurtful. The older woman blanched and a machine nearby beeped ominously.
"Please," Helena entreated. "Please, just go."
Helena sighed as the door slid closed. Another grand reunion for the Shan women, she thought bitterly. She leaned back on the pillows and watched Bastila's hooded figure out the window as she slipped down the path away from the hospital.
Biting back her disappointment, Helena turned away from the window. For weeks, she'd let the excitement – the hope – of having one last chance to see Bastila, to make her understand . . . . Helena shook her head. What had possessed her to speak that way? It certainly didn't help matters. I'm the last person who should give her a hard time.
Helena ached at the change the past few weeks had wrought on her daughter. She saw Bastila's pallor, the slight slump of her shoulders. Gone were her arrogance, her confidence, and the brown eyes that looked so much like her own reflected a secret sorrow. She looks like I did at that age, Helena thought, and her heart contracted. She wished that she could hold her and smooth the trouble from her daughter's brow – something Bastila never allowed as a child – but the time was not right, and Helena feared it never would be.
She closed her eyes and a single tear slid down her weathered cheek. The events of her life, carried on a current of memory, flowed past her mind's eye. What could I have done differently, she asked herself, and not for the first time. How did I fail her so utterly?