Disclaimer: Not mine… as usual. Big shock, right?

Note: For those of you who don't know or couldn't tell from the summary, this is a sequel to my previous work from fall/winter 2005/2006, Once He's Dead. And it is post KotOR2 and with a LSF Exile.

XxXxX

Once She's Gone

Chapter One

XxXxX

She had left. It had been two years now, but it had taken the better half of that first year to register with him. Keeping busy had always been his way to forget, but there seemed to be a peace after such a length of time that made him wonder.

He hadn't loved her.

It wasn't right to not love her, though, he chastised himself. She was everything in his life; what he had been, what he was, and what he would be. She was flawed perfection in the most beautiful and gory light. A walking contradiction of the best and worst combined. And yet, for all the darkness she could have fallen into, she hadn't.

And he loved that. He loved everything about her. But he hadn't loved her.

Bao-Dur felt at peace with himself for having not gotten involved at the time, for having waited, thought things out, and come to the conclusion that made him feel right. Mical took much longer than the rest of them to reach the conclusion that she was gone; he had only recently begun acting much like Bao-Dur supposed he had before meeting the Exile again.

They had all felt it; the sudden close of the bond they all shared with her, the Exile. It was painful at first, a constant throb in the back of their minds. But it had eased over the course of time, just like Mira's constant questioning of Bao-Dur and Mical, the two that had received the honor of speaking with the Exile before she left, that had lasted for almost the entirety of the first month.

Bao-Dur could tell that Mira was somewhat hurt by the Exile's negligence to her. Bao-Dur wished that he could reassure Mira that the only reason either he or Mical got any answers was due to their throwing themselves in her way to get some, but the huntress would never admit her jealousy and Bao-Dur would never insult her further by initiating the conversation. Visas never asked a question about the Exile's exit, though Bao-Dur was certain that she felt it just as strongly as the rest.

He had known her best and somehow this made it seem as if he had fallen in charge of the raggedy group, despite Mical's leadership when it came to council matters. There had been six, then five, and now four, but Bao-Dur knew that their numbers would no longer dwindle; they had, instead, grown. The Chancellor had made a promise and progress had been made.

Time had sorted out the problems. The Jedi Order had slowly been reborn, its feelers extending, trying to anticipate any threat before it was made. Though it was illegal to attack the Jedi Order without the Senate's approval, that didn't stop some beings who lived below the law. But now that most of the threats had dissipated and the Jedi had become more respected as the time went by, peace was made and things were much simpler. But the quiet of the time did very little for Bao-Dur; every hour or so of solitude had brought up the same debatable topic: his feelings for the Exile.

No being could help but admire a creature like the Exile, but Bao-Dur still was not sure if he was deciding he did not love her because it was true or because of her absence and love for the dead Atton Rand.

Emotion was never his forte. He felt too passionately at times and too indifferently when he realized that he had been feeling too passionately. It was a troublesome habit that came from a combination of Jedi training and previously having indulged his outbursts.

But now was not the time to focus on emotion. He had too much else to worry about rather than feelings that no longer mattered.

Was this how she felt upon confronting her feelings for Atton?

But Bao-Dur was on a much less self-destructive path. He only slipped into worrying about his attachment to the Exile when all other topics were exhausted, convincing him that he only worried about it out of boredom, something he instantly felt ashamed about.

At least, at best, it was one-sided. There was no lost potential for all possible intimacies that might have been felt. There could be no obsession for Bao-Dur if there could never be a conclusion.

But still… if only he thought as much like a droid as he was often likened to…

Footsteps interrupted Bao-Dur's thought process. He hadn't even realized that the door to his chambers had been open the entire time he had been thinking. How long had it been since he awoke, his mind far too busy and his schedule much too empty? Minutes? Hours?

"Bao-Dur, Mical has been asking for you." Mira. Her voice was still as strong as always, but, somehow, sounded older than the twenty-something she looked and was. Bao-Dur finally looked up and nodded his head. Mira gave him a small smile of reassurance, as Bao-Dur was sure he looked as tired as he was feeling, and then left the doorway.

Standing up and wiping his face with his organic arm, Bao-Dur considered why Mical might want to see him and only him. Or, perhaps, he did not want to see only him. Perhaps he had called for Mira and Visas as well. Maybe even the entire council. But that did not lessen Bao-Dur's musings on the reason. There was no meeting scheduled and he could think of no reason why Mical might want to see him.

Not that the two could not be considered friends, but only by a little. Bao-Dur had never really given Mical the time of day before, never really thought that they'd be in a situation like this. Perhaps it was that he looked down on Mical, thought him silly for considering himself the most worthy disciple of the Exile when Bao-Dur knew that he knew her much better than any of the others.

Perhaps he hadn't known her as well as he'd have liked to think. Perhaps he was only jealous.

But you had no reason to be. As much as you cherished her attention, you didn't need it. It wasn't all you wanted.

Yet, in a way, it had been. Bao-Dur's day had not been complete during that journey two years ago without having a few moments alone with the Exile, being able to express his feelings or hearing hers.

Now is not the time to think about this, Bao-Dur reasoned with himself. You have something to do, somewhere to be. Let these useless thoughts remain in bored hours.

Bao-Dur closed his door behind him as he left his chambers and headed towards the room he always knew to find Mical in: The Room of a Thousand Fountains.

Bao-Dur had always thought the room was one for show when the Exile or Mical had mentioned it, but after meditating in it for the first time, he understood its existence. It was strikingly peaceful. It was near-perfect. And it was where Mical spent almost all of his time.

The boulders that lingered around the room, especially around a prominent waterfall, were smooth and perfect for sitting upon. Mical sat on a rather tall one on the far side of the waterfall. Bao-Dur let his organic hand run along the top of each boulder along his path, rising and falling with each curve, before he was at a boulder next to Mical, upon which Bao-Dur perched himself.

Mical's eyes were closed and he did not open them or speak for a few minutes. Bao-Dur let his mind empty as he stared at the water and heard the rushing as it broke over the edge of the fall and hit the pool below. Finally, Mical spoke. In fact, he might've been speaking previously for all the attention Bao-Dur had been giving a moment ago, but if he had been, the Zabrak could not tell.

"There was a spotting of the Ebon Hawk in known space," Mical began, his voice steadier than his being, as Bao-Dur could feel it through the Force. Mical's whole energy was shaking with anticipation.

"Where?" A simple enough question.

"Csilla again," answered Mical, his voice unwavering. "The same as where it was last seen before it vanished two years ago. This was one week ago. It hasn't been seen since."

"If it was returning, it would have been seen closer by now," Bao-Dur noted, avoiding mentioning the Exile even in a pronoun form.

"It was seen again on Ilum," Mical continued, as if he hadn't even heard Bao-Dur speak. "The next day, by a Jedi Knight and his Padawan present. It seemed empty from what the Knight could see, but they avoided the ship, just in case it was a trap of some sort. By the next day, it was gone again. There were no more sightings after that, four days ago," Mical concluded, finally opening his eyes and turning his body so that he could face Bao-Dur fully.

"Why would she go to Ilum?" Bao-Dur mused quietly, not thinking much about his words, more about the question itself. "Why would she return to known space for a few days and then run back off again? Is there something on Ilum she would need aside from the obvious benefit of the crystals… but she had a crystal. She had several."

"I know," Mical half-whispered. Bao-Dur looked at Mical, whose gaze had fallen back down to the pool of water before him. He could tell that Mical had been thinking about this all morning, perhaps even the night or day before.

"When did you get this news?"

"Yesterday evening," said Mical, his voice more hollow now. His mind was not one hundred percent present anymore. "When the Knight and his Padawan returned. They were the first of our newly reformed Order to go to Ilum, don't you know?" Mical's voice returned and he looked back at Bao-Dur.

Bao-Dur merely nodded, not sure what more to say or what more could be said. Too many thoughts were running through his head, too many questions. This all made no sense. Could it indeed be a trap? But there had been two Jedi that had witnessed the presence of the Ebon Hawk. Could it have been given away to another person, as the Ebon Hawk was a rather famous freighter, known for its connections to the Jedi Order? But then it was likely it would have been sighted again.

There was no logical conclusion Bao-Dur could reach. Somehow, sitting there and thinking alongside Mical, whom he knew was likely thinking through similar scenarios, was something that Bao-Dur could not stand to do.

Bao-Dur glanced over at Mical. He looked rather helpless, almost humourous in his look that reminded Bao-Dur of a wounded and relatively tame animal. But he only felt a surge of anger at watching Mical.

He recovered himself quickly, however, and chastised himself silently. Bao-Dur had to stand up and leave. As peaceful as the Room of a Thousand Fountains was, it could never be so when he shared the room with Mical. Bao-Dur inclined his head in a respectful nod to Mical and then quickly left the room.

What had that been? Why had Bao-Dur felt so hostile towards such a companion?

Don't you think it was at all pathetic? She didn't love him; she didn't care for him more than she cared for any of us. His attitude is arrogant and disgusting.

Bao-Dur started hissing the Jedi Code under his breath. The words held little meaning to him when uttered as such after such a period of time, but the sensation of physically doing something steadied him.

How can I think this way? Mical had been fooled into thinking such things, though it was not to blame the Exile for. It was all a mistake…

But shouldn't he have realized that? After all this time…

But why should I feel angry? It is merely sad that he cannot let go.

He doesn't deserve to hold on when someone like you fights so hard to keep your emotions in check. He doesn't deserve the luxury of feeling bad for himself if you don't.

Why should I have that luxury? It's not as if I loved her.

Didn't you?

XxXxX

Omgwtfbbq? I actually am writing fan fiction again? Am I for real? Well… I hope so, because I'm really looking forward to writing this at long last. I mean, after planning on writing this for the past two years, it's nice to actually get something written.

I only realized after I started getting ideas how much I hated myself for writing such a conclusive epilogue last time. xD I started getting all sorts of wild ideas about assassination attempts on the Chancellor and the Jedi having to go into hiding because of the failure of that award service business… but that all didn't work out, so I had to pick a different plot to work with, which I am not going to reveal more than has been revealed in this chapter.

But, yes, shockingly enough, I sort of have a plot worked out from the beginning for this. As you can tell, Bao-Dur is probably going to be the center of this fic, which is a new thing for me; if I had written this two years ago, I would've focused on Mical or perhaps Mira. Bao-Dur would've been one of the last I'd have thought of. But after writing a slightly different first few paragraphs, I realized that this wasn't Mical's story, this was Bao-Dur's.

Anyways, I do hope that I try and get this story done properly. I plan on it being about as long as the last one, maybe a bit shorter, and no, I don't plan on tying up the loose end of the Exile and Revan. As you can tell from the Epilogue in Once He's Dead, their meeting takes place further in the future than this fic.

With a winter break just beginning, I might just get a chance to work on this, although I do have a nasty government term paper to cook up and another assignment from that evilest of my senior year course schedule.

I do warn you, I have fallen out of the KotOR fandom recently, especially with the arrival of Mass Effect and my growing love for it. So my accuracy might be a bit off, but I'll try.

As usual, reviews are LOVED, especially concrit, but even a one-word review is better than nothing. Attention will make me more likely to put an effort into working on this, though I intend to try hard to do this. If I don't update before the New Year, Happy New Years, and Happy Holidays to all those celebrating whatever they celebrate.

Love to you all – Revan's Pet Duck (possibly resurfacing!)

12-14-2007