By Lincoln Six Echo


The small, nondescript shuttle entered Utapau's atmosphere and headed directly toward a landing deck that protruded from the sandstone wall of the biggest of the planet's sinkhole-cities.

Its pilot still didn't know for sure what had pushed her to leave her safe hiding place behind to travel into the imperial space. She didn't know nor did she want to, because she might not like the answer.

However, the mere fact she was about to land on Pau City made something clear. For better or for worse, he had played an important part in her life. It didn't really matter if she wanted to spit on his tomb or honour it.

She was there for him.

Once landed, she exited her ship and walked along the platform, as the wind whipped at her black robe.

A tall Utapaun in a heavy deck-length robe of deep scarlet met her mid way toward the exit.

"Greetings, young traveller," the Utapaun said gravely in ac­cented Basic, bowing in salute. "I'm Tion Medon, master of port administration for this place of peace. What business brings you to our remote sanctuary?"

She sensed no malice in this being, just concern, and it wasn't difficult to guess why. The city she could see still bore the marks of the battle that had been fought in its caves and buildings less than two months before.

She bowed in return and took a deep breath. "I'm here to visit Obi-Wan Kenobi's grave. I read he has been buried here."

Medon gave her a penetrating glance. "Were you his friend?"

"I knew him," she answered noncommittally. Being associated with Jedi was dangerous nowadays. Also, Kenobi had never been her friend, so her reply was correct.

"Master Kenobi's grave is at the bottom of this sinkhole. We buried him on the shore where we found his remains," the Utapaun finally answered. "I will take you there."

"Thank you," she said, swallowing past the lump that had formed in her throat when she had heard the word remains. According from the reports, Kenobi had fallen down from the tenth level of Pau City. She didn't want to think what the impact with the ground had done to him.

Medon lead her toward a lift as he explained, "It was I who decided to give Master Kenobi a tomb. The clones would have left him there, but I thought he deserved better. Traitor or not he had fought for the Republic during the war and I didn't wish to leave him there as food for the wild animals."

She nodded, but didn't comment. She had done some research since the Jedi Rebellion, as it had been called, had been quelled in blood, and she knew most of the knights had been slaughtered by the same clone troopers they had commanded and fought with for years.

She had been sickened by it. There were a few feelings she was really familiar with, and loyalty and sense of betrayal were among them. She wondered if Kenobi had had the time to realize his men had turned against him or if his death had arrived fast enough to prevent him from knowing he had been betrayed.

She almost bristled as the lift started its slow descent. Why was she so interested in Kenobi's death? Why did she hope it had been quick and painless?

He had been her enemy. She had imprisoned and tortured him, enjoying his pain. So why was she feeling like this?

Because, a voice whispered inside her, of all the men you knew in your life, he has been the only one who never let you down.

"Here we are," Medon commented when the lift came to a halt and the doors slid open.

They stepped onto a narrow patch of sand delimitated by steep rocky walls, and pools of murky water.

There was a small stone marker in the middle of the shore, and Asajj Ventress walked to it. She then knelt in front of it and touched the damp sand with her open palm.

"Farewell, Obi-Wan Kenobi," she whispered. "It was an honour to have had you as an adversary."

Asajj bowed her head and grabbed a handful of sand, letting it slip slowly between her fingers, watching as the wind blew it away. She imagined it could be Kenobi's ashes. Somehow she thought he would have preferred to have his body consumed by flames instead of rotting in that sinkhole.

No, she corrected, he would have preferred to be alive.

Suddenly her fist connected with the sand, leaving a small crater in it.

"Damn you Kenobi!" she exclaimed as tears of anger and pain sprang from her eyes. "I had told you to keep a look on the centre of the galaxy! I told you the real danger was on Coruscant. Why did you not listen? Why? Why? WHY?"

A sob escaped her throat as she leant forward, her brow pressed against the sand.

Asajj didn't know how long she stayed still in that position, mourning the loss of a man she should have hated but did not, before something touched her shoulder.

Quick as lighting, she rose to her feet, a vibroblade pressed against Tion Medon's neck.

"Calm down, young traveller, I mean no harm to you," the tall Utapaun said. Asajj relaxed her grip just a little. "I just wanted to tell you something that I'm sure will bring you happiness."

She tilted her head. "What?"

"I'm an empath and I can feel your pain. You loved Master Kenobi-"

Asajj was about to tell him she had never loved the Jedi, but his next words stopped her.

"- so I'm certain you will be happy to know there is no body resting beneath that marker. He's still alive."

Her mouth fell open in shock as her heart started beating faster. "What?" she stammered.

Medon bared his sharp, long teeth in a smile. "Master Kenobi is still alive. My soldiers found him before the clones did and hid him."

"Is he still here?"

"Yes, he is. However, before I bring you to visit him, I must tell you he has been seriously wounded by his fall. He suffered several fractures and he is in a coma."

Asajj Ventress nodded and simply said, "Take me to him."

They boarded the lift again, but they didn't ride all the way up to the top level. Instead the Medon stopped the cabin at a middle level.

When the doors opened, Asajj found herself staring at a bare wall of rock. The Utapaun touched something among the rocks, and a keypad appeared.

"This is the most secret location of the entire planet," Medon explained, a moment before a perfectly camouflaged door slid open.

Her senses fully alert, Asajj followed the tall administrator along a corridor until they reached an area that looked like a hi-tech medical facility.

There guards stood near the door, and a female Utapaun sat at a desk. She raised her head when they entered, and bowed in salute.

"Tion," she greeted with a smile. "I wasn't expecting you today." She looked curiously at Asajj.

"We have a guest, Yram. This a friend of Master Kenobi-"

"Asajj Ventress," she supplied to fill the silence that followed.

"She would like to see Master Kenobi."

The doctor nodded and stood up from the desk and walked toward a closed door. "He is here," she said, palming it open.

Asajj followed her inside an airy, dimly lit room. The furniture was scarce and most of it consisted of medical equipment. However, she paid little mind to it, her attention devoted to the room's only occupant.

Kenobi was lying on a bed in the centre of the chamber. There were sensors connected to his chest and head, registering his heartbeat and brain activity, while two IV's dripped liquids into his bloodstream.

Asajj walked closer to the bed and looked down. Kenobi seemed asleep, but he looked far too pale and thin. Somebody had shaved off his beard and Asajj was almost shocked to see how young he looked without it.

Young and vulnerable.

She frowned. That description didn't fit him.

During their past meetings, she had accused Kenobi of being weak and powerless, but the truth had always been different. He had been the most powerful Jedi she had faced – with the possible exception of Skywalker – and he had been strong enough not to break beneath her tortures, both physical and mental.

Asajj had failed with him, but the anger she had felt when he had managed to escape from her fortress on Rattatak had been mitigated by respect, admiration...and something else she didn't want to even name.

When he had escaped he had taken with him more than her ship and Ky Narec's lightsabre. He had taken away a part of her too.

That part of her was now watching Kenobi's still form, fighting against the desire to reach out and touch him, to reassure herself he was really in front of her.

She lost her struggle. Asajj caressed his cheek and bare chest, the first time since Ky's death she had touched another person in kindness.

She sighed, another unfamiliar gesture, and sat down on the chair by Kenobi's bedside.

"May I be alone with him for a while?" she asked to the doctor and Medon, who were watching her from the threshold.

"Yes, of course," Yram answered. "We will be here should you need us."

The two Utapauns left Asajj alone with the man who had used to be her enemy but was now something completely different.

She threw a last glance to the door, checking it was closed, and reached out with her hand, wrapping it around Kenobi's still one. She watched for a moment the contrast between her white skin and his pink one, then turned his hand around to study it.

It was strong but finely boned, calloused on the palm, but soft on the back. The hand of a warrior and a teacher—just like Ky Narec's. That hand she wondered what it would feel like sliding along her skin…

Asajj shook her head. She admired Kenobi, yes. She respected him both as a warrior and a man. She couldn't deny he was attractive but there was a big difference from envisioning him as her new master to having lustful thoughts about him. She had no time or need for that nonsense.

And yet, even as she was convincing herself she was interested only in Kenobi the Jedi, Asajj Ventress brought his hand to her cheek and held it there. Then she closed her eyes and fell into meditation, basking in his Force signature and in the knowledge that Kenobi the man was still alive.

A/U: There are slight references to the comics series titled "Obsession". At the end of his series Asajj Ventress"died" in Obi-Wan's arms, but not before telling him to keep an eye on Coruscant because the real danger (the Sith) was there. In reality Asajj didn't die, she had just put herself in a very deep trance and when she finally awoke, she decided she had enough of Dooku (who had ordered her dead), the Jedi and the war, and piloted the ship was on away from the Republic...