A/N - Pre-KotOR Jaq. Warning: Here be loose interpretations and deliberate ignoring of Canon.
Jaq pulled his boots on and sat for a moment longer on the bed, head bowed, wondering what the hell the Darth Duo wanted from him. When he'd received the summons he fully grasped just why it was that people shoot messengers. If there was one message, one summons he didn't want this was it, even though he knew it was almost inevitable that it would come. He'd been quite content to stay off their radar, but now... now he was right smack in the middle of it with a huge target on his head.
He stood and went to the side table, putting his leather gloves on. He sheathed his knife, holstered his blasters, then donned his long coat, each item a layer in this persona he'd created. It had been about survival, in the beginning anyway. It still was, but now it was second nature. He glanced in the mirror, adjusting his belt. Though he cut an impressive figure, it wasn't the weapons that inspired fear and intimidation. Nope, that was all him. He flexed his neck back and forth a few times, mentally performing the necessary attitude adjustment that was by now a ritual. No weakness, no fear, no mercy.
The hallway was mostly empty when he left his quarters, save for a few patrol guards who nodded as he passed. His boots made a satisfying and recognizable rhythm on the marble floors, causing the few heads he did see to turn and quickly look away. No one wanted to interact with him and that was just the way he liked it. He had carefully cultivated a do not approach reputation amongst the denizens of the Academy. When you weren't a Force user and you were surrounded by Dark Jedi, you used whatever advantage you could come up with. Avoiding others was his modus operandi. Well, that and unexpected, creative and overwhelming violence.
Before he turned the last corner, he paused for a second, steeling himself for whatever may lay on the other side of the doors he would soon arrive at. Worst case scenario: the gig was up and he would be killed, slowly. And probably creatively. He took a deep breath and continued on.
A Dark Jedi guard stepped in front of him a few paces from the door, offering a challenging glare.
"Why are you here?"
Jaq took another step into the Jedi's personal space, until he was just inches away from him.
"I was invited." He smiled his most acidic smile.
The Jedi scowled and started to say something but was cut off when the door opened and his Master's voice called out.
"Come in, Jaq," Revan said, the familiar warmth setting him immediately on edge.
He left the Jedi there silently fuming and approached Revan. Lord Revan, he reminded himself. He bowed like a good little soldier. Malak, meanwhile, tried to skull fuck him with his eyes. Malak was more violent and unpredictable than she was, and if there was any truth to the gossip, he and Revan were a little more than bad ass buddies. He'd have to watch himself.
Revan rose from her chair and approached him. He cast his gaze downward, both out of respect and because looking at her was distracting. He was already nervous and wanted to keep his wits about him. His heart was thumping like a malfunctioning hyperdrive all the same.
"So this is our Jaq. I thought it was about time we met," she said.
"It's an honor, Lord Revan," he replied. They'd actually met briefly before but apparently she'd forgotten. Not surprising, really. He'd been newly drafted into the Elite Ops division of Sith, Incorporated and she'd visited and reviewed them during training. They were face to mask for all of two seconds.
She walked around him once before continuing. "Our ranks swell with fallen Jedi thanks to you. Most impressive."
"They call you the Juggernaut for good reason," Malak piped in. "They say you're almost as good at breaking Jedi as I am."
Jaq didn't miss a beat. "Well, you know how they exaggerate."
"Perhaps. Still, your accomplishments are made more remarkable by the fact that you are not a Force user. One day you'll have to tell me your secrets. I can't have a mere Operative best me at my favorite game."
"Of course, though I'm sure there's nothing I could offer that you don't already know," he replied, wondering how to avoid it.
Malak seemed placated by his show of humility. He inwardly rolled his eyes. What a pretentious ass. Revan's laughter startled him. Shit! Way to go, Jaq. He glanced up at her. When their eyes met, he heard her in his mind.
"He is a pretentious ass sometimes." Her eyebrow arched and her eyes betrayed her amusement.
He had no idea how to proceed. He knew it was pointless to try his usual battery of distractions to keep Jedi out of his mind. Revan would walk right through them.
"Relax, Jaq. Your secrets are safe," she silently assured him before speaking to him normally. "There is a Jedi that I want. I'm considering sending you after her." Just like that, she was all business, her tone and her eyes hard and cold.
"Just give me a name and she will be yours," he said matter-of-factly.
"Such confidence!" Malak said with a derisive laugh. "Careful, boy. Some would take your arrogance as a challenge."
He paused, considering his reply carefully. "Confidence, arrogance… I guess it's a matter of perspective." His peers – and he used the term very loosely because in his mind he had no peers – they called him arrogant out of sheer envy. They would never be able to match his numbers. Malak's eyes resumed their skull-fuckery, like he was trying to bore holes through him.
"Confidence is one thing, but I expect no less than perfection," Revan said. "If I do not get it, the repercussions will be severe."
"Then let me show you perfection," he replied, surprised by his own boldness. Maybe it was the challenge, or the fact that she seemed to question his ability. Whatever it was, he didn't care. He wanted this mission. It had been two weeks since his last one and he was itchy to exercise his talents.
Revan narrowed her eyes and took measure of him, looking for any sign of weakness or duplicity.
"I will think on it. Go. I'll send for you should I decide to trust you with the mission."
As much as he wanted to, he didn't question her decision, or lack of a decision. He nodded and took his leave, feeling their eyes on his back all the way to the door.
A day and a half passed with no word and he was beginning to think he'd been passed over for the mission. Whoever it was that took his place would not succeed. He would make damn sure of that. He was looking out the window at the storm clouds on the horizon, idly twirling his favorite knife in his fingers and wondering who he was going to have to kill when the message came in ordering him to report to Revan.
He strode into her chambers, cutting his eyes at the guard, who glared at him with his hand on his lightsaber as he passed. Revan sat at the table, pouring over various datapads and star maps. Malak was no where to be seen. Jaq stood at half attention, hands clasped behind his back and waited for her to acknowledge him.
While he waited, he stole glances at her. She looked more like a school girl than a Dark Lord at the moment. Her skin bore few of the usual markings of the Dark Side, mostly just an exaggerated paleness, more noticeable because of her black hair which was rebelling at the confines of the ponytail she wore. His eyes were drawn to and lingered on the curve of her neck, his favorite part of a woman. His self-preservation instinct reminded him that he was oogling his Master, the Dark Lord of the Sith. She could crush him with a thought. He averted his eyes and began a mental game of Pazaak, his default technique for distracting himself and keeping Jedi out of his mind.
"That's a clever trick, Jaq," she said without looking up. "Who taught you that?"
"No one, Lord Revan," he replied, mentally crushing the urge to flinch. "It's something I taught myself. The E-Ops training helped me put a finer point on it, though."
She didn't respond, the silence stretching on and becoming heavy. He stood for a good five minutes before she decided he'd waited long enough.
"Leave us. I'm not to be disturbed," she said to the guard, who bowed and backed out of the room. When they were alone, she raised her eyes to his. "Are you familiar with the Enclave on Dantooine?"
"Somewhat. We've studied holos, and I've seen it from the outside, but I've never been inside." As his training dictated, he preferred to isolate his targets outside of the Enclaves. Anonymity was vital to his job, not to mention the fact that his odds of success dropped substantially when there were more than two Jedi around.
"Come," she beckoned him over to the table then pulled up an image on the holo. "This is your target."
He stared at the image of a human female. She was young, blonde and looked utterly innocent, his favorite kind of mark.
"Her name is Marisa Tal. She has a unique talent, one that I covet."
"What is it?" he asked before he could stop himself.
Revan ignored his inquiry. "She's confined to the Enclave." She sat back in her chair and looked up at him. "Your job is to infiltrate the Enclave, kidnap her, then break her."
"Infiltrating the Enclave will be a challenge," he thought aloud. "I'm good, but there are some mighty powerful Masters at that Enclave. They'd nail me for sure. Unless you'd like me to gas the ventilation system or something."
"It won't be an issue," she replied cryptically.
"What's the time frame?"
"I am anxious to acquire her, but take as long as you need to do it right."
That was just the answer he was hoping for.
She stood up, facing him. "So, you know the mission and what is expected of you. Can you do it?"
He answered without hesitation. "When do I leave?"
"Not quite yet. Come with me." He followed her through a door into yet another oblong room just like the one they'd left. Then he noticed the huge bed. Well, this was an interesting and potentially dangerous development. He silently prayed that Malak didn't drop in.
Revan went to the long table at the foot of the bed. He couldn't see exactly what she was doing, but she appeared to be unwrapping something. When she'd finished she walked over to him and looked into his eyes.
"You are very interesting, Jaq. I feel there are things we could teach each other."
A few replies went through his head, but he didn't want to assume anything. Too risky. He decided to treat it as a rhetorical statement and not respond yet. He felt a bit like a gizka being stalked by a rancor as she circled him, drifted back to the table and picked something up.
"How have you survived this long?" she asked.
"Uh, in general, or...?"
"Here, I mean. I'm sure you're aware of the high turnover rate of Operatives in your division."
He cleared his throat. Oh, he was very, very aware of it, with every breath he took.
"In my line of work, you get pretty good at pinpointing people's weaknesses – physically and emotionally – within a very short period of time." He shrugged. "Other than that, I don't make friends, I watch my back, I'm very fast and I'm very lucky."
She smiled. "I must say, your attitude is refreshing. Usually I deal with groveling fools who would say anything to please me. It's a shame you're not more attuned to the Force. Here, take this," she said, producing what she'd been holding behind her back.
More attuned? His brow faintly dipped as he turned that over in his mind. It was probably nothing. Just a figure of speech or something. He took the aurodium torque and examined it, finding two crystals in each end.
"It will help to mask your presence while you are in the Enclave."
It was a serious piece of jewelry, probably worth a fortune, but he was skeptical. Even with a powerful stealth generator a Jedi Master could smell you a mile away.
"What does it do?"
"They will dampen your Force signature, make you less likely to cause fluctuations or attract attention."
"I'm having something else brought from the archive that will enhance the power of the torque. I will send it and the other supplies along soon." She sat down on the bed and began untying her robe. "That will be all for tonight, Jaq."
After catching the briefest flash of skin, he quickly cast his gaze downward. That was a calculated move on her part if he ever saw one. Effective, but calculated.
"Thank you, Lord Revan." After a formal nod and a hint of a smile, he headed for the door.
"You say you're good at detecting weaknesses in others. Tell me, what is your weakness?" she asked as the door opened.
"Me? I'm a perfectionist," he said. The sound of her laughter followed him out the door.
He went straight to the cantina and didn't exhale until he'd downed two shots of whiskey. He laughed out loud, drawing the bartender's curious glance. He motioned for a refill.
"Bring me a bottle of Juma, too."
He'd just met the Boss Lady for the second time, and not only did he survive, but apparently he had impressed her. He raised his glass in a toast to himself. Nicely played, Jaq. He downed the whiskey. And what was that thing with the robe? She must've been trying to trip him up. He'd heard plenty of stories about the dear Darth's wandering eye. Whoever that eye landed on usually ended up on the crispy end of Malak's lightsaber.
He picked up the bottle and paid his tab. As he was making his way out he glanced into the Pazaak room and grinned when he spotted Audra at one of the tables in the middle of a game. Well, damn if it isn't my lucky day. He waited until she looked up then beckoned her over with his finger. She acknowledged him with a nod, pointing to her cards on the table and motioning for him to join her. He half-smiled and shook his head before continuing on his way. He waited outside the door for a minute and sure enough, she came hurrying out, blowing right past him without even seeing him. She was heading back inside, looking adorably disappointed before she finally saw him standing there grinning.
"Oh, very funny," she said. "Why didn't you come over to the table?"
"I'm not really in the mood for Pazaak tonight." He grabbed her belt and pulled her in closer.
She eyed him suspiciously. "I know that look, Jaq."
"Yeah? Good. We can ditch the formalities, then. Let's go."
"Hmph. I don't know if I'm up for your particular kind of play tonight."
"Sure you are. Why else would you come after me?" he said, and started walking.
"You're some kind of asshole, you know that? Wait, dammit! I just meant… just, oh forget it. Never mind."
He laughed. He knew what she meant. He pushed her back against the wall.
"Let's not complicate things, Audra. Our friendship is so simple. There's a certain purity to it, y'know?" He ran his hand up under her skirt so that his meaning was crystal clear. "The more I hurt you, the more you like it. See? Simple. Now either follow me, or go back to your card game." He turned and departed again, smiling when he heard the click of her heels catching up with him. Simple.
It had been quite a day, and now that he had the entertainment lined up, tonight was looking even better. He took a swig from the bottle and passed it back to Audra. She was still pouting.
"Aw, come on, Audra." He swooped in to embrace her and dipped her backwards, causing her to giggle despite herself. "The night is young and you have amazing sex with me in your immediate future. What more could you possibly ask for?"
"Four point restraint?" she asked with a grin.
"Ooo, there's my girl," he replied, laying a kiss on her neck. Yep, definitely looking better.
This 8 chapter tale was written back in April and for some reason I'm just now getting around to posting it here. And if it isn't obvious, I have a particular love of Scary Atton/Jaq. Thanks for reading!