This snippet is totally unrelated to anything else I've written. It takes place in an AU after my version of the destruction of Malachor V. Our fearless Exile has taken on Atton, Mical, Mira and Bao Dur as her Padawans in spite of her feelings for the young pilot. Due to a series of disturbing visions she has also undertaken the task of finding Revan as a personal favor to Admiral Carth Onasi. In this universe Revan can only be located by those sensitive to the Force and the Exile has decided to retrace the path that lead to her disappearance. Right now the Ebon Hawk and her crew are on Rakata Prime. They have met with the Elders and are now crossing the terrain on foot. They are in search of a tomb that Revan had allegedly visited. They have camped for the night in a small, sheltered inlet facing the beach and are taking turns to patrol in shift.
4 days after the destruction of Malachor V.
The Exile opened her eyes slowly, repressing a groan. Her battered chronometer was cheerfully altering her to her turn on patrol. She pressed the button to silence it and sat up, untangling herself from her sleep kit. The night air was mostly warm but carried the cool dampness of the nearby ocean. She took a moment to inhale the salty smell blissfully and then reached for her boots. Turning them upside-down she gave them a vigorous shake in order to confirm that they were empty. Finding nothing nesting inside, she pulled them on and stood. A moment's exposure to the mild night air was all she needed to forgo the many layers of her robes. Clad in her undershirt and pants, she hooked on her lightsaber and pulled an outer robe around her.
Her companions slept peacefully, encircling the small fire that had been built. It was beginning to flicker down so she reached for a piece of firewood and added it to the pile. Within a moment it was blazing cheerful and lighting up the faces of her crew.
She moved quietly to where he lay and knelt by his side. His face was so peaceful and beautiful that she felt a knot form in her throat. Putting aside her feelings for him in order to train him had been the hardest thing she'd ever done. Her logical brain had rationalized that this was all for the best, that he'd had too much anger and he needed to learn control but her heart was singularly stubborn. She frowned as she ached inside. The Jedi Code was no comfort to her at all and she found her hand moving towards his thick, dark hair.
She brushed it aside gently so as not to disturb him, luxuriating in the feel of it as it moved along her fingers. Leaning in she kissed his lips delicately and pulled away as the emotion in her throat threatened to strangle her. She had wanted to touch him, to taste him for so long and this was all there could ever be. A stolen moment.
She eyed the rest of the crew; no one had stirred so she stood. Feeling consumed with loneliness and regret she headed towards the beach. Mandalore was waiting for relief, clad in full armor and standing vigilantly near the water's edge. She stiffened slightly and pulled the outer robe around her body tightly. He was someone who always managed to keep her off balance and uncomfortable and she had no idea how to deal with him. It was easier during their travels on the Hawk. They'd had very little to say to one another and when they did speak it generally began with his criticisms and ended with an argument. Their roles had been well defined.
It had all changed on Malachor.
For reasons that she couldn't fathom he'd abandoned his own men and not only had he joined her on the trip but he had saved her life, pulling her to the Hawk as the planet crumbled around them. He'd very nearly been killed himself. He'd risked everything for her and she couldn't figure out why. It had thrown everything she'd thought she'd known about him into chaos and until this moment she had avoided dealing with him at all.
"Nice night," she called.
"Yeahhh," he drawled crustily, "Look, there's no way I'm going to sleep for another couple of hours so if you want to go back to bed, be my guest."
"That's awfully…nice of you," she replied awkwardly.
"Nice has got nothing to do with it sister," he said, "It's just a waste to have two men up if you only need one."
"Aren't you tired?" she asked.
"Not really," he replied, "Lately I've been needing less and less. If I get a couple of hours before dawn I'm usually good to go."
"I see…" she said, taking a moment to order her thoughts, "But before I go, can I talk to you?"
He slowly turned his helm towards her, "Go ahead, I've got nothing else to do." he said.
She sighed audibly, staring at the impersonal T-bar of his helm, "Do you always wear that thing?" she asked.
"I am Mandalore," he replied coolly.
"I know that," she said, exasperated, "But do you know how hard it is to talk to you about anything when I can't see your face?"
"Lady, this 'thing' isn't for show, it's a mark of who I am and it's a damned honor to wear it!" he snarled, "If you want to look into someone's eyes and talk about your feelings then wake the doc."
"That's not what I meant and you bloody well know it," she hissed, "You're just arguing with me to be an ass!"
"What IS your problem, princess?" he barked, "What the hell is so important about my helm? It's never bothered you before!"
She turned her back to him and grasped her elbows tightly, taking a breath before continuing, "No one…no one has ever saved my life before, okay?" she said softly, "I mean, I've been left for dead plenty of times. Exiled? Sure…but no one's ever really put themselves on the line for me like that…I just wanted to see your face…nevermind…stupid of me really…"
She strode away from him, cheeks blazing and feeling her boots as they sank into the soft white sand of the Rakatan beach. When she had put an acceptable distance between them she sank down, sitting cross-legged and listening the gentle ebb and flow of the waves. The sound was like a slow caress and she closed her eyes, taking what comfort she could from the planet. Hearing the distinct clanking of moving armor in the distance she opened her eyes slowly and looked towards the spot where she had left the Mandalorian. He was gone and spite of their sharp words she felt lonelier without his presence.
The moon glistened on the crests of the waves before her. The ocean itself was darker than the night and watching it was like watching a contradiction. It seemed to stretch to eternity, a black void that she had expected to make her feel emptier inside. Instead it was the opposite; it was more like a heavy, dark blanket stretched out at her feet. Watching it was not only soothing but a direct connection to the light and the life force of the planet.
The sound was very nearly inaudible over the roar of the waves but it was there…footsteps in the sand. Placing her hand on the hilt of her weapon she reached out with the Force. The being that approached from behind was very difficult to read. She could not detect a malevolent intent but the fact that she couldn't seem to detect anything at all made her nervous. She launched herself upwards, twisting in midair and igniting the blade of her silver double-beam as she landed.
The cool glow of her weapon illuminated the figure of a man. He was tall…enormous actually with silver-grey eyes and hair. He had the appearance of a soldier, square-jawed, handsome and tough with a sharp scar above his left eye. He was barefoot and wore only a tight black shirt and leggings. Eyeing his powerful chest and arms she noted a distinctly Mandalorian tattoo on his upper right arm.
"Mandalore?" she asked cautiously.
"Well I ain't your Mother," he cracked, "But without the helm it's just Canderous…Canderous of Clan Ordo…and put that thing away!"
"Sorry," she said, extinguishing her beams and returning the weapon to its place, "I just didn't expect this."
"I've never had a chat with you that hasn't ended with a whole lot of yelling," he said, "You threw me by just walking away like that. I figured that anything that could shut you up had to be important so…here I am."
"Canderous…" she said softly, smiling at his sarcasm, "Sorry about that…I just wanted to talk to you about Malachor but there was something about looking at that T-bar that made conversation as comfortable as dancing for Durga."
His laugh was a short, sharp bark, "Yeah," he replied, "Well, here's your shot and for the record I don't do this often so you might want to take advantage of it."
"Ok," she said, meeting his cool grey eyes, "Canderous…why…why did you follow me on Malachor? Why did you risk your life for me? I've been racking my brain for days and I can't figure it out…"
"Well, first of all Onasi asked me to," he said gruffly.
She nodded slowly. It made so much more sense; Onasi had become her friend in near record time before Malachor. He was a good man and considering his careful placement of Mical, the idea that he would have asked Canderous to help wasn't such a leap.
"I told him to sit on a power coupling," he continued.
"What?!" she asked, utterly confused.
"Yep. It was too much of a risk. I'd gone through a lot to gather my men together and I sure as hell wasn't about to throw it all away for you." he said calmly, "It's not that you didn't deserve looking out for but I had my people to worry about. So I said no."
"And then?" she asked.
"Then, I don't know what the hell happened," he said, "I was ready to hop the next transit to Onderon and then make my way to Dxun but I couldn't."
"Couldn't?" she whispered. His expression was inscrutable, it was virtually impossible to read anything in those eyes and she would not use the Force to intrude on his thoughts.
"Yep," he replied, "Your little connections with people have never worked on me. As a matter of fact, I am probably the last guy to stupidly risk himself for you but when the time came, there I was."
"But…why?" she asked, "I thought you couldn't stand me but there you were…"
His eyes slid from hers towards the night sky.
"You know, in some ways you're a lot like Revan," he said, "You're good in a fight and you don't back down from anything. I respect that. But in other ways you're different. You had all the power of the Force at your feet and instead of giving in and following Revan's path to darkness you cut yourself off. In my mind, turning your back on all of that power makes you a hell of a lot tougher than she ever was…"
"But that still doesn't explain…"
He moved quickly, grabbing her arms roughly. His kiss was like the strike of a Crystal snake – short, sharp and brutish. He released her just as quickly and turned away, folding his arms. "You may want to stop pushing me right about now," he said lowly, "I'm not a good man and I'm not a gentle one…go to bed…go find Atton…just go…"
The Exile stood frozen to the spot, tasting the coppery tang of blood on her lip. He had been so forceful, so utterly primal that he'd broken the skin.
The sound of her own voice surprised her. It was the last thing that she'd expected to come out of her mouth but there it was. The word hung there in air for a moment, as she allowed her eyes to drift along the silver hairs on his head, down his neck, along his massive back and shoulders to his powerful legs. He was physically perfect.
He turned slowly, meeting her eyes and for the first time she could see the lust and the anguish that battled within him. His jaw was set steel, his body coiled tightly, "I mean it lady, you need to get out of here. If the pilot won't do then go annoy the doc." he growled.
She squared her shoulders and raised her chin proudly meeting his gaze unblinkingly, "If that's what I wanted, Ordo believe me, that's where I'd be," she said coolly. Moving closer she trailed her fingertips lazily up his right arm, tracing the edges of his tattoo. She felt his body stiffen at her touch and something new flashed into his eyes…was it fear?
"What are you doing?" he asked through gritted teeth.
"You said yourself that you're almost never out of armor. You told me to use this opportunity to my advantage so I am," she said softly, "I want to remember you like this…just in case you decide to hide behind your helm for good."
He was silent as she moved her hands slowly upwards, stroking his cheeks and feeling the rough ridge of his scar. The moonlight reflected his features clearly. His face was squared and hardened with battle but his eyes were cool and clear like the snows on the Telosian pole. He was absolutely striking and she found herself mesmerized by his mouth as she ran her fingers over his soft bottom lip.
It was too much.
He grabbed her hands and pulled them downwards, leaning in he ran his tongue along her lip, tasting the blood as she closed her eyes blissfully. She thought she heard a low growl from somewhere back in his throat and she tilted her head backwards, exposing the smooth, white skin of her neck. In a moment he had released her hands and pulled her roughly to his hard body. With a hand knotted in her thick, dark hair he descended on her neck, ravaging the spot as he squeezed the curve of her backside with his free hand. She felt the sharp, sweet pain of the bruise that would inevitably form and moaned audibly, thrusting her fingers into his steely hair and grabbing it tightly.
"Ahhhh!" he cried as she pulled his head backwards, biting his neck sharply.
There was no restraint.
He threw her to the sand and pulled the clothes from his body. He was built like a god and as she wriggled from her own clothing she drank in the sight of his massive, powerful frame. Dropping to his knees before her he leaned in and whispered in her ear, "As far as the crew's concerned, this doesn't change a damned thing beautiful," he murmured huskily, "You won't be getting any love poems from me tomorrow and I won't be acting like an ass in front of everyone. I hope you can handle that."
The blazing heat of his body made her eyes roll back in her head. She grabbed his hips and pulled them to her sharply, digging in her nails.
"Canderous? Shut the hell up."