Part 31, Chapter 29: The Rift Station
It was almost anti-climatic, finding the Star Map. (Under water, naturally.) Shin had of course refused to harm the giant firaxa shark and had chosen to destroy the kolto harvesting station rather than risk harming the kolto itself to get access to the Map.
She didn't have energy left to admire the beauty of the Map this time, she just recorded it before returning to the Station.
She slid down against the door to sit on the floor, the walk back to their transport suddenly much too long. Carth sat down next to her and she rested her head against his shoulder, much more casually than she would have before last night.
"We never had that talk," she said after a while of just sitting there in silence.
"About me being Revan," she reminded him, turning her head to meet his eyes.
"No, we didn't," he said, smiling.
"I think we need to," Shin said seriously. "If we... want to go somewhere with this."
"Can there really be an us, Shin? You're a Jedi."
"Is that really the reason? Or is it more that you could never love Revan?"
He drew a quick breath at the first mention of the word 'love' between them.
"Could you?" Shin asked. "Love Revan?"
"Would I need to?" Carth asked, taking her hand in his and pulling the glove off. "I could love you," he said, pressing a kiss to the inside of her wrist.
He swallowed. He had meant to say it straight out but the words had transformed in the way. "Could" wasn't putting his heart definitely on the line. But she obviously needed to hear it. And he needed to say it.
"Do," he whispered, struggling to keep the eye contact, even though every nerve was telling him to lower his gaze, to hide the emotion.
Her eyes filled with tears and suddenly the words were easy.
"I love you. I tried not to – quite apart from my own issues, you're a Jedi and... but I can't help it. I love you, Shin Cidon."
"I love you," she whispered. "No 'could' about it at all."
She raised her head to kiss him quickly. "You keep me honest, you keep me centred . I will never want to have to face the world without you."
Could he offer her forever? Should he even? Her words made him choke up with the trust, the responsibility, with their beauty. He didn't trust his ability to find the right words so he merely pulled her closer and hid his face against her neck.
"Is HK humming?" he asked after a moment.
"I think he's chanting 'Can't hear you, can't hear you.'"