Part 3

Elara stepped out of the shower feeling refreshed and much more alert than before, she fumbled around for a towel when she noticed her reflection in the mirror. There were cuts on her body that she had received from the Shadowlands, which were opening up and starting to bleed.

"Ugh, that looks attractive." She muttered, applying kolto to the wounds.

Once she was fully dressed she stepped out of the fresher and immediately the heavenly smell of cooked food hit her causing her stomach to rumble. She made her way towards the Main Hold where the intoxicating smell was coming from and saw Carth, Bastila and Jolee seated around the table while Juhani was dishing out the meal.

Elara vacated a seat next to Carth who was prodding at the food with his fork deciding whether or not it was edible, before she could ask how he was holding up three voices filled the room as Canderous, Mission and Zalbaar emerged from the corridor.

"I was just testing a few new strategic moves."

"Yeah, how to strategically lose! Admit it, you just suck Canderous!"

Zalbaar roared at what sounded like a mocking laugh, Canderous sat opposite Carth and Elara could feel him tense up in anger. She glanced at Canderous who was staring at the pilot as though he was challenging him; she then looked at Carth who had the exact same expression just angrier. Both men just ate completely silent and staring. Great, lets see how long this lasts. Elara thought.

Twenty minutes passed, everyone had finished their meal and Juhani sat grinning and looking extremely pleased with herself.

"That was beautiful Juhani, thank you." Elara smiled at the Cathar. A chorus of 'thanks' echoed randomly around the table except for Carth who was still staring at Canderous. Elara brought her right foot down on top of his underneath the table causing him to grunt and mumble a 'thanks'.

Everyone started scattering off around the ship to occupy themselves; Mission and Zalbaar went to watch a holovid, Canderous went off toward the garage and Jolee went toward the Med Bay. That left her, Juhani, Bastila and Carth. Bastila offered to help Juhani tidy up and Carth wandered over to sit with Mission and Zalbaar… she noted that. She decided that it'd be best to keep an eye on Carth, she didn't like the look he was giving Canderous and she didn't want to experience it either.

Elara found herself deeply engrossed in Bastila and Juhani's conversation about the Jedi temple on Dantooine and was distracted by the sound of metal clashing on the floor in another room.

"Hey Canderous shut up!" Mission yelled. Everyone just assumed Canderous playing around with his weapons in the garage like he always did and didn't even give it a second thought.

Elara looked over at Carth… well thought she was. He was gone. She had been so engrossed in the discussion she forgot about watching over him. She sat the dish she was cleaning down and quickly made her way to the garage in a panic.

As she rounded the corner she saw a hydro spanner fly past the door then Carth following it. She ran to the doorway and saw the two men both fighting each other topless, hand to hand. She watched as Canderous came flying down on top of Carth who rolled to the side just dodging the punch and bringing his own fist up into the Mandalorian's left cheek.

"Oi!" She yelled running in to stand between the pair. "Stop! STOP IT!" They both stopped and stood either side of Elara sweat running off them and panting.

"What the frack do you think you're both doing?!"

"You nearly got me killed!" Carth roared at Canderous, his anger clearer than day on his face.

"No, you nearly got yourself killed!" The Mandalorian yelled back just as loud. "If you weren't such a Republic Pansy you woulda sucked it in like a real war-"

He was cut off from Carth charging at him with a fist and hitting him squarely in the nose, Elara heard a faint pop of a bone from Canderous.

"THAT'S IT!" Elara screamed as she flicked her palms out either side, restraining the two men in the air with the force.

'Stop struggling…" She rolled her eyes, "… or no one's going anywhere. Now Carth, when I put you down I want you to leave this room immediately."

She brought her left hand down bringing Carth slowly towards the ground; the moment his feet touched down he turned and stalked out of the room without a word. Elara sighed and looked up at Canderous still floating in the air; she closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose with her free hand.

"Canderous, you shouldn't have-"

"Hey! He's the one who came in here looking for a fight.He's the one who threw the first punch!" He cut in defensively.

"Yeah, but you didn't have to provoke him and wind him up!"

"He challenged me! A warrior never backs down from a challenge." He said darkly.

"He's neither a warrior nor a mando'ad Canderous, he's a soldier. That man has seen things that would break even a Jedi's will. Please, I know you were trying to help, but just don't make things more difficult." She said meekly.

Canderous huffed and rolled his eyes in reply.

"I'm going to take that as an 'Okay Lara, I'll stop making things difficult for Carth' alright." She lowered him back down and waved her arm around indicating the tools all over the room. "Get yourself and all this cleaned up."

She turned and walked out stopping only to pick Carth's shirt from the ground and headed straight towards the cockpit.

Elara walked up to the cockpit and leaned against the door. "Carth?" She asked softly.

"I don't want to talk right now Lara." He replied but Elara walked in anyway, placing his shirt on the nearest seat.

"Well that's just too bad Onasi because you're going to." She said demandingly. She walked over and helped him apply the Kolto to his wounds; he flinched when the cuts on his bare chest absorbed the cold antiseptic.

"Thanks." He said pulling away, "Look, I know I shouldn't have attacked Canderous, but I was so angry and I-I just wasn't thinking."

"Well that was obvious." She huffed, "I know you're a little emotional at the moment but Canderous was only trying to help and you know how socially challenged he can be."

"Did you really see it all?"

Elara sighed and dropped herself into the co-pilots chair and running her hand over her face. "Yeah, I did."

"I'm sorry." He whispered.

"Don't be, you're stronger than most Jedi. I'm proud of you Carth, everything's been taken from you yet you still go on facing each day with that painful burden shadowing your every step." She said sympathetically, reaching over to grab his free hand. Reacting to her touch, he looked up at her smiling face and felt tears starting to form on the brim of his eyes. She reminded him so much of Morgana, no one could ever replace his Ana but there could always be room in his heart for two. But right now he wan't ready for that.

The tears started falling down his face and Elara pulled him in to a tender embrace. This man could cry forever in her arms and it would never matter to her, he has earned the right too. As a loyal Republic soldier too much is expected of him; right now he didn't need to be that valiant hero, he just needed to be human.

"It's okay Carth, I'm here… I'll always be here."