Alena Valentine

Emotions

Nostalgia

"Carth?"

He looked up at her face, his face covered in a lovely "tact caught in the headlights" expression.

"What'd you need?"

Evie quirked an eyebrow at him as she regarded him over her left shoulder. "Why are you staring at me?"

"I'm not staring…"

"Yes you are, flyboy," she replied quietly, turning to stare back out her bunker window. "You don't have to have super-sensitive Jedi powers to tell that you've been staring at my back since you and Canderous changed shifts."

He sighed then, obviously admitting defeat. She smiled to herself a bit, continuing her perusal of the stars outside her window.

"You're right, I guess." He sighed. "I'm not doing it on purpose. I jus wondered if you were doing alright. Bastila said you were kind of out of it since… since Taris. And Zalbaar mentioned Mission has been really quiet lately. So, I was wondering if you're alright?"

She turned fully away from her window to face him now, her eyes serious and somber.

"No, Onasi," she replied, "I am definitely not okay right now."

Evie had had her arms wrapped around her knees when she'd been staring out the window, but now they were by her sides, her hands clutching the edge of her mattress tightly.

"Ever since I was little," she began, staring at her bare feet, "I've been trying to find something constant."

She took a deep, slow breath, trying not to cry in front of him. Trying not to cry, period, actually. Soldiers didn't cry.

"My father was a soldier. For the Republic, of course. And my mother was a nurse in one of the facilities on one of the Republic's ships. They met once, when Dad blew himself up trying to disarm a frag mine. He was in Demolitions, of course…" she took a breath, calming her emotions. "They fell for each other, a classic love story. Married after Exar Kun was defeated and then moved off to Deralia, where they had me five years later."

Carth sat across from her on Mission's bed, looking surprisingly interested in her story. She wasn't sure why she was telling him this now, here in the bunker she shared with Mission and Bastila, whilst she wore her under clothes as pajamas. Especially since he'd only asked if she was okay, assuming it was her first time watching a planet explode. She didn't know why, but she was.

"When I was younger, my father used to say I could talk a Wookie out of its fur," she continued, shaky laughter bubbling forward, "which is funny, because I'd never seen a Wookie before in my life! But, I now have that opportunity everyday.

"I was seven when my father was killed. Felled by the blade of a Sith. Mom was beside herself with grief. I remember hearing her crying herself to sleep for the longest time… She raised me by herself from then until I was fourteen, when she died of Affliceria.

"I made my way from then on by myself. I worked in the kitchens of a local cantina and lived in one of the adjacent apartment complexes. It wasn't that bad of a situation, considering the circumstances.

"About four years after my mother died, there were a couple of Republic recruiters that came to Deralia. They glorified the work of the Republic, trying to build up their numbers for some new threat. There had been rumors that had even spread to my small homeworld of brutal gladiators that slaughtered worlds at a time. They were determined to be prepared this time around.

"I'd been on my own, scrounging and scraping, for four years. I wanted something better. So I followed in my father's footsteps and became a soldier. Ever since, I've been through training, numerous missions, and my own fair share of battles, having joined up three years before the Mandalorian Wars officially began.

"But the lifestyle of a soldier is ever-changing one… And I just seem to be finding myself wanting something a bit more… stable. I want to get out of the Republic's ranks, find some back-water planet, and live in peace."

She looked up from her knuckles to Carth's face. He seemed to be taking in all the new information she'd divulged quite slowly. That or he was trying to think of something to say. She decided to make the decision for him.

"Taris seemed like a good place to be forgotten," she murmured, "but I was mistaken. The more I learned about the planet, the more I hated it… I just couldn't stand all that pain and suffering. The Outcasts, Dia, those children in the Lower City…

"They're all gone, Carth. Every last one of them. I tried so hard, so hard, to help them. To make life a bit easier for these people… And now they're gone. Just that quick. They're all just… gone." She sighed, feeling the first tear roll down her cheek.

Evie heard Carth shift uneasily on Mission's bed and let another sigh. She should've known better than to reveal so much of her history to him in such a short amount of time… She just barely knew anything about him…

"I'm sorry," she apologized, "I've made you uncomfortable, haven't I?"

He gave her half a smile, shaking his head. "No, beautiful, not at all."

Just then, she heard a commotion coming from the main hull. It was coming closer to the bunker every second, making Evie more than a little bit nervous. She could just barely recognize Bastila's voice.

"You'd better get back to your bunker, Carth," she murmured, "Mission will have a field day if she catches you in here with me only in my skivvies."

He smiled and nodded his agreement. "You're right. A scandal on the Ebon Hawk!"

She gave him a full smile for the first time since they'd escaped Taris. "Thanks for listening to me, flyboy."

"You listen to me just as much, gorgeous, might as well return the favor." He gave a shrug and quietly slipped out of the girl's sleeping quarters.

Eve chewed her bottom lip in thought, pulling her blanket up over her chin. She worried briefly over whether or not she should've disclosed so much personal information to the pilot before deciding it couldn't have hurt anything. She'd only told him about her early life, living on Deralia. He'd revealed much less than that small tidbit of information about himself in their weeks on Taris.

She was pulled from her thoughts as Bastila and Mission entered. Bastila readied herself for bed quickly, falling asleep without delay. Mission, on the other hand, lay in the bed across from Eve with a few silent tears trickling down from her pretty indigo eyes.

Evie felt a tug at her heartstrings. Fourteen years old and all alone in the world… She knew how that felt… She turned on her side to look at the girl.

"Mission?" It was a soft whisper. She didn't want Bastila to wake.

"Yeah?"

"You wanna talk?"

"Not right now, Evie…" A soft, sad little gasp came from her lips. "Maybe tomorrow."

"Okay, kiddo… Whenever."

And, for once, Mission didn't fuss about being called a kid. Eve sighed, tugging her hair down from its ponytail and laid back on her bed.

Sleep didn't come easily that night for her, or the next.