"This is…"

by Allronix

Rating: PG

Summary: character piece, inspired by some of Matt Stover's passages in "Revenge of the Sith"

No beta, so anyone wanting to help with a cleanup job is free to volunteer.

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This is what it means to be Carth Onasi.

This is what it is like to wait, alone with your memories. Nothing else in the galaxy matters to you.

All the endless, dreary paperwork and protocol makes your head ache. People suggest you get a protocol droid until you tell them about the one that called everything "meatbag." Your aide lives for this bantha pile, and is usually a step behind you like a blonde-haired shadow – forever decorous and polite, ready for his orders, ready to accept answers but choose his questions with care. You can't help but wonder why the Jedi threw the kid out, but he respects your secrets so you'll respect his.

Right now, you're worried for him. Last report you got from Mical stated that the so-called "last Jedi" was several shades of bad news traveling with several shades of worse news, he was hip-deep in that mess on Onderon, and things were getting worse. But though he might as well be your second son, it's not really him you're worried about. You only sent him out because your admiral's bars make a damn effective cage, and if you counted the people you can really trust in this universe, you'd still have fingers to spare.

Mical is your only way to find out what happened to her.

It wasn't always like this, you know. A decade ago, the planet you see from your office on Citadel was whole and green, not a patchwork of shielded areas with imported lifeforms mixed with larger patches of poisoned air and dead rock. When Telos lived, your life was like any other man, any other soldier. You had a wife and son safely tucked away on the homeworld and a band of brothers among the stars. You stood between danger and the beloved home without hesitation or regret. It was your duty, your calling, your vocation, even when – especially when - things were going bad.

You knew war. You had seen it consume the Outer Rim. You drew your blasters and ordered men to their deaths. You flew ships full of hollow-eyed refugees to shelters on the Ords. You gave up the chance to see your son grow up. You gave up precious days and hours with your wife to make sure they never saw the things you did.

You had a handful of medals that you didn't pay much thought or attention to. They came with memories you didn't want to look at closely, either. Either way, you were just doing your job, you tell yourself, no different than any other man. The real reward was when you managed to get some time away from all of it and go back home to all the simple pleasures. Home was where you could watch a sunrise and sip a hot cup of caffa before anyone else was awake, throw a ball to your ten-year-old son and try to catch him as he played "keep away" with it. Home had a fresher unit with actual water, where you ignored the squabbling neighbors upstairs by listening to your wife humming to herself as she puttered around in the kitchen. Nothing was better than being ordinary.

But the day came when the man you trusted most burned the skies off your world. And you had failed them.

After four years, there was a lot you could remember about Morgana. She used shampoo that made her hair smell like berries. You remember cold nights where you curled against her for warmth. You remember the walls shaking when you told her you were going back out to fight the Sith, and she said that if you walked out the door, there was a good chance she'd lock it behind you. You remember how heavy her bloodied, dying body felt in your arms and your hoarse voice screaming for the medics. You can't quite remember her face anymore, and haven't been able to for a long time. It's like the man you were died that day, too. The four years after your life as an ordinary man ended are a blur. Anger kept you going, but nothing else is clear.

Your next life began before you before you realized it for what it was.

It was eighteen months, twelve days from the day the Endar Spire was destroyed to the day you woke up to find Revan gone. Strange how many memories you have of it, and how clear they are. You remember everything. It might as well have been an hour ago. It's overwhelming at times. The smoke from the Spire is still in your lungs along with the rank smell of lingering death from Korriban. Rakghoul scratches burn your shoulder, even though the scars are faded by now. Your body twitches from the pain inflicted by the Leviathan's force cage as you endure by wishing you could reach through that damn forcefield and snap Saul's neck. You hear that bastard's last words, hissing the worst truth ever and Malak throwing the same truth at her feet like a gauntlet. What you can't remember is which you wanted dead more – them, her, or yourself.

If it were only the bad memories, then you'd try harder to forget. The crew was an improvised mess that never should have left space dock without homicide committed. Somewhere, you and Canderous stopped being the enemies you had been only a short time ago. By the time it was over, Canderous wasn't as swaggering as boastful as he had been, learning the value in a soldier's sacrifice to defend others. You embraced the tenacity and ferocity of a warrior, finding your spirit was not as broken as you thought. Verd ori'shya beskar'gam - a warrior, Mandalorian or Republic, was more than the armor they wore. And if you had to meet your deaths as brothers, fighting an impossible number of the enemy, then it would be a good way to go.

You remember Juhani being a little less uncomfortable about human males after she came to talk with you. You remember Mission's insistence she was no child, and in the next breath, remember her admission that she looked up to you just as much as she did Revan. You remember Zaalbar using Basic sign language to ask you if you were typical of the Republic's "honorable men." You can even remember Jolee's stories – the ones that only made sense once you had too long to think about them.

Nothing could replace the family you lost on Telos, but you found your heart had more room in it than you imagined. Any of them – all of them – you would die for without regret.

Revan is whom you live for.

You know her face, her laugh, the way her hands fit in yours…the way she would look at maps and plans, finding that one flaw or opening to even the overwhelming odds that were never in your favor. You remember her incessant questions and how she fought. It was like watching some kind of lethal dance. You've heard her call your name in panic, in pain, in companionship, in love, and in ecstasy.

It was after the last Star Map was found, a moment alone in a shelter halfway between the Valley of the Dark Lords and Dreshdae's outskirts. She wanted you to hate her, still, and you found you couldn't. It wasn't just her life that began again back on Taris – Revan pulled you out of the netherworld with her.

"You have this huge destiny waiting for you. I fear that, if you're alone, that it will swallow you whole. Is there room in there for me? Will you let me help you?" It was desperate. She was the great hero and great traitor- the legend, the name everyone feared. What could an ordinary soldier offer her?

"You gave me a future. I want to give you a future, too... with me. I think I could love you, if you give me the chance."

It was a lie, of course. You already loved her, and there could be no future. She wouldn't ask you to leave the Fleet, and there wasn't any way she could leave the Order – not with Sith on the march and things still going to hell in every sector. A sane man wouldn't have played with that kind of fire, but you weren't sane, and neither was she.

In the end, you offered the only things you could to one another. In those perfect memories, are the recollection how her lips felt on yours, and the amazement of how small she was under those robes. You remember your hands trying not to shake as you undid the fasteners. You remember the shock of skin on skin, the blood-heat contrasting with the cold Korriban air. You remember both of you being too far gone to speak, fused in body and spirit and thanking the Force for the first of many stolen moments.

It ended without warning one day on Citadel. She was in your arms when you fell asleep and gone when you awoke. She took the Hawk and the droids, just like you knew she would. You know there's a name for why you sometimes know things before they happen, but it wasn't discussed - not even with Revan. That same, unspoken reason is why you hang on and haven't given up yet.

You know she is still alive with the same certainty you know that you are alive. There is an emptiness where she used to be, but it isn't the same kind of absence death would be. You would know if she were gone because you would be dead with her. You've heard your subordinates wonder if you've gone a little crazy, and maybe you have, but you can't tell them the reason why you know.

And so, you follow her last request, trying to keep the Republic from imploding so she has a home to come back to. You do your duty because you know she is doing hers, and you hope that it can all be over one day and the Force will free you both.

You are Carth Onasi, hero of the Republic, an ordinary man who managed to touch something extraordinary - a lifetime lived in eighteen months, twelve days. You want her back, but the memories are comfort enough for now.

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