A/N: This is my first fan fiction. Ever. I've had this one running around in my head for weeks now, and it just had to come out. It's a small one shot with LSF Exile and Atton fluff, which takes place immediately after the return to the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine. The Jedi Masters are slain, Kreia's gone, total disaster, you know the drill (I'm pretty much assuming that you've played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, or else you wouldn't be here, right?). Anyways, here it is, hope you enjoy it, and please review!
The breath flowed easily in and out of her lungs as the blood pounded in her ears. Eleima smiled as she ran up the hill, just a klick away from where the Ebon Hawk was docked. The wind whistled through her long brown hair, and her robes billowed behind her like great dark sails. She enjoyed this: running in the tall grass of Dantooine, reveling in the relative silence, using only her own strength to keep her legs moving. It felt good sometimes, to not use the Force.
On her left, out of the corner of the eye, she could barely make out a pack of kath hounds in the valley: they were gathered around in a circle, but whether to settle down for the night or to feed, she could not say. That would have required turning her gaze towards them, but she stayed focused on the treacherous path that led to the hilltop.
On her right lay the settlement. Beyond it, she knew, was the ruined Jedi Enclave, but she could not bear to think about the events she had witnessed there earlier today. Unbidden, tears of rage started streaming down her cheeks. She refused to acknowledge them, blinking them away to keep a clear view of where she was going.
Breathe in, breathe out. In, out. As she neared the top of the hill, the setting sun blinded her with its red-orange glare. Skidding to a stop, she dropped to the ground, rolling over onto her back. As Eleima stayed there, panting, one hand draped over her head, the other on her stomach, the sun sunk beneath the horizon and night fell.
As day faded into night, the Exile saw the stars came out, one after the other, and felt as if she would drown in the dark sea of stars. How ironic, she thought, that I find myself here, being true to my namesake. Stargazer. She chuckled at the thought. The clear skies seemed to wash over her in a wave of calm. There is no emotion, there is peace... But what was the point of remembering this Jedi mantra now? The Jedi Order was now lost, its members dead or scattered to the winds, the Thousand Fountains in the Temple on Coruscant forever silenced...
Eleima bolted upright as she heard the branch snap just a few meters away. Her hand on her lightsaber, she looked around until she noticed Atton Rand behind her. Sighing, she folded her legs beneath her as he lowered himself next to her. How strange, the brown-haired woman mused, that I did not feel him approaching. He was getting good.
When he didn't say anything at first, she realized he knew already knew what had happened to the Jedi Masters. Finally, Atton looked at her askance, raising an eyebrow, "We were worried when you didn't come back." She sighed, but offered no reply. With no forthcoming answer, Atton did not press her and gazed ahead, apparently lost in thought. Eleima seized this opportunity to study him: she noticed he wasn't wearing the Jedi robes she had given him, but that ratty old ribbed jacket she hated. That triggered a question:
"Atton, do you remember the day we met?" It seemed so long ago.
"Yeah, sure," he answered with a mischievous smile. "How could I forget?"
"Even though things looked complicated at the time, they seem a lot simpler from where we stand now, don't you think?"
He chuckled: "Well, they certainly *looked* more pleasant."
Elbowing him in the ribs, she fired back: "You're only saying that because I was scantily clad at the time."
"There's that, of course."
Silence fell once more, and Eleima shivered. The future seemed so uncertain: Kreia had to be stopped, that much was certain. However, so many things could go awry. Although they had cast her out, the Jedi had always been her family, and now... all she had left were her friends. The Exile could not bear to risk loosing what little she had left. She started crying again.
When he saw her silent tears, the scoundrel put an arm around her and cradled her. Force, but it felt good to be vulnerable for once. At last, the flow stopped, and she looked up at him: "You didn't have to come, you know..."
For perhaps the first time ever, Atton looked at her seriously as he cupped her chin in his hand: "You know that's not true." Not even a hint of a joke or a bawdy remark.
"Atton, I..." She was at a loss for words. After all this time, all the flirting and teasing, the Exile did not know how to respond to this. It had begun as just a game, but now... I let myself get too close. "I... I don't know what to say."
"Then don't say anything. I'm here if you need me, that's all. You can't be indestructible all the time. Sometimes, we just need to let things go, let it all out." The fierceness of his deep, dark eyes troubled her, and she suddenly realized words were superfluous.
She kissed him. She kissed him like there was no tomorrow. And maybe there won't be. She clung to him as if he'd bolt, running her hand through his dark hair.
And he kissed her back.
It felt glorious: the salty taste of his lips, his warm arms snaking around her waist and lowering her onto the grass... She had not known she wanted this so much until now.
They parted and Atton looked at her, smoothing her brown hair with one hand. Behind him, the stars twinkled and shone. "I always knew," he said.
"Well, I didn't!" she laughed. Chuckling in response, he leaned in to steal another kiss.
Skrsch!... Eleima's Comm crackled to life. She turned over to the side, sighing. It was Mical.
"Eleima? The ship is ready to leave if you are."
"Of course. We'll be right there."
Click. Tossing the Comm to the side, she turned back to Atton, who grimaced: "I hate that guy."
"Perhaps. But you know he's right. We should go."
"That doesn't mean I have to like him." She laughed heartily at that, the sound echoing off the hilltop.
"Come on," she said as she rose to her feet. "I promise we'll have a meditation session back on the ship, just you and me."
He followed suit, grinning lecherously, "I'll be holding you to that." One last time, she sought the sanctuary of his arms and looked up at the dark skies and brilliant stars that surrounded them. She thought she heard Atton inhaling deeply as he filled his nostrils with the scent of her hair.
"They're beautiful, aren't they?"
"Of course you are," came the muffled answer.
Chuckling, they turned their backs on the heavens and started back down the hill.