Circles

It wouldn't be very romantic. In fact, it would be a little strange.

He thought of what the crew would say, what everyone would say. They'd all think he'd lost his mind. You did what? You did it where? But Rev would understand. Rev would get it. And, in the end, she was the only one who really mattered.

Well, her and one other person.

Outside the window, open, grassy plain swished by. Dull autumn sunlight caught the brittle stalks, turning them a honey brown. The color was calming, like the hiss of the tram as they zoomed along. It was the only sound; the tram was blissfully empty, most likely because of the chilly weather.

He fidgeted with the armrest and peered out the grimy window of the tram, feigning nonchalance, but inside, his "squishy parts," as HK would term them, felt especially liquidious. He hadn't been back to Telos since... well, since his reassignment. He hadn't seen the use in sticking around, not in a place where every rock and cloud and blade of grass reminded him of the family he'd lost. Carth Onasi was a man of action, and when there was no more he could do for Telos, he had moved on.

Mostly.

"Are you okay?"

He turned to the woman beside him. She was dressed in plainclothes today, but the tranquility she exuded belied her connection to the Force. Revan. Sometimes he thought her constant presence was the only thing keeping him standing.

He reached over and entwined his fingers in hers, smiling weakly. "Yeah."

Revan looked as if she might answer, but at that moment, the tram brakes began to squeal and the mechanized voice of the vehicle echoed through the cabin.

"This stop: Telos War Memorial. Please stand clear of the doors until the tram has come to a complete stop. Thank you."

The doors hissed open as they stood. A group of humans, probably a family, and a lone Duro straggled into the cabin, rubbing their arms against the cold, eyes downcast. Carth gripped Revan's hand tighter, and the two of them emerged into the dying sunlight.

The Memorial had turned out beautifully, he would give them that. The destruction of Telos had eradicated most of the old family gravesites, so instead of entombing each individual's ashes with their ancestors, the survivors had decided to place what was left of their loved ones in what had quickly become a massive graveyard. Its pristine white blocks of stone sat in long rows, stretching as far left and right as the eye could see under the wide arc of the bioshield.

Carth took a resolute step into the first row of markers, setting off the holos selected for the people commemorated on either side of him. One was a child, no more than three or four. The other was a woman Revan's age, probably the mother. Carth shuddered and continued on, ignoring his sudden reluctance to do what he had come for. He wasn't sure he should be here. He wasn't sure he wanted to be here.

He wasn't even sure he could find her marker. Life had been a blur before his transfer, one long, interminable day of frantic refugees, burnt bodies, and strong drink. He'd only had time to pick his preferences and the holo and send them off to the Memorial Commission.

He remembered going through what was left of the family holos-- a grand total of five. The first three were of birthday boy Dustil, ages 2, 5, and 11. Carth had missed five and eleven. He watched these holos stoically, searching for a glimpse of her, but she was behind the cam. He could tell from the steady way she zoomed in on Dustil's candlelit five-year-old face. Always the artist.

The fourth holo had been Dustil's, too-- a school play year eight, the gangly almost-teen nervously fiddling with his dark hair onstage. Carth didn't remember it, and the only trace of her had been her laughter, ethereal behind the cam, like the ghostly image of the face that he could no longer remember.

Only the last holo held any physical trace of her, and that was because it was a holo taken at their wedding.

As Carth approached the marker, it was that image that fizzled to life: his wife, young and happy and alive, dancing to some ridiculous cantina music the wedding band had played as a joke. She was achingly beautiful. Even in the blue tint of the holo, her dazzlingly white dress glimmered as she twirled, eyes shining brightly with joy.

"So this... this is Morgana."

Revan's words were a statement, not a question. She stood at his side with her hands clasped in front of her, her dark, sad eyes caught on the woman in the holo. She seemed suddenly smaller, younger, less her Jedi Master self and more a normal woman who was seeing the wife she was "replacing" for the first time.

"Yes," said Carth simply, putting a reassuring arm around her thin shoulders.

They stood there for a long moment, watching the image turn in circles. Then it stuttered, and the loop began again. Revan stirred.

"I'll give you some time alone," she murmured, landing a swift kiss on Carth's bristly cheek. She squeezed his hand, then tucked her fists into the pockets of her oversized coat and padded off through the long rows of markers.

Carth watched her go. He nearly called her back, if only to feel the warmth of another living being beside him. The cold, bone-white expanse of marble blocks unnerved him.

No, he thought, turning back to her marker. His business was with Mo, and Mo alone.

"Hi," he said.

His wife's hologram twirled and smiled, the music audible only to her.

"Um... I don't know what to say."

A puff of wind whistled through the markers, and he remembered a similar conversation with Mo, during their dating days. She'd been trying to get him to say that he loved her. Of course you know what to say, she had teased him, blue eyes sparkling with laughter. You're just afraid to tell me.

Maybe the direct approach was the best. He wasn't sure what protocol you were supposed to follow, talking to a dead person.

"I want to talk to you about this woman I met."

He lifted his head and looked for Revan. She was standing maybe fifteen meters away, her short, black hair caught in the breeze, her eyes lost in the perfect blue of Telos' sky.

"That's her, over there. Revan. Yeah, that Revan. You wouldn't believe the whole story if I told you."

He paused, feeling silly. You're really off your rocker, Onasi, he thought to himself, telling a story to a gravestone.

He swallowed his doubts and continued.

"When you died… it tore me up pretty bad. I stopped trusting people and trying to see the good in them, like you always did. But then Revan came along, and…" He paused, smiling fondly at the memory. "Rev and I got stuck together. She drove me crazy. Always trying to get me to talk to her. Always looking out for me. After a while, I…I realized I was getting pretty fond of her.

"She's... She's really great, Mo. I think you would like her. She's smart, and fearless, and funny, and she makes a mean gizka pie." He laughed softly at the old inside joke. The hologram seemed to respond; his wife was laughing, too, caught up in the magical, bridal mirth of a wedding long buried in the rubble of Telos.

Focus, he chided himself as images of the destruction flashed through his mind. He saw the city in flames, new explosions erupting every time the blaze hit a power source. He saw their home, a pile of rubble so undistinguishable from a heap of trash that he'd gotten lost trying to find it. And Mo, his beautiful Mo, limbs splintered, blood seeping, her life ebbing away...

He cleared his throat, resolve suddenly wavering. Til death do us part. Well, death had parted them. But standing here, talking to Mo as if she was still alive, made him remember when she had been. He had let her down. He hadn't reached her in time, and he hadn't been able to save Dustil, not until much later. Standing here, knowing his intentions, he began to feel like he was betraying her, letting her down again.

No, no, no! Think about the future. Think about Revan. Think about hope and life.

So he did. He thought about the reconstruction of Telos, the grass on the low hills replanted and growing. He thought of Dustil, waiting for him back on Coruscant. He thought of Revan, trusting him, believing in him, giving him a second chance.

He looked down at the hologram. The loop was ending, and Mo's tiny figure was reaching her arms toward someone out of the line of vision. Him, he remembered. In a moment, a young, uniformed version of him would collide with her, swooping her up into his arms and spinning her clumsily, goofily, around the dance floor.

But the holo fizzled and the loop began again. The hologram Carth would never reach her, just like the real one would never see her again. Let down or no, she was gone, and nothing in the galaxy could change that.

It was finally time to move on.

He took a deep breath and began again. "Look... You know what I'm gonna say, Mo. I'm sorry. For not being here, I mean. For not getting to you on time. But I've been sorry for a really long time now, so sorry that sometimes I wanted to kill myself. And I think... I think maybe it's time I stopped thinking about what didn't happen and start thinking about what can.

"Thing is, Mo... I'm thinking about asking Revan to marry me. And I just wanted to make sure that you were okay with that."

There was no answer but for a soft wind winding its way through the high grass and into the memorial. On the smooth surface of the marker, the tiny dancing figure began its loop again, twirling, twirling, on into infinity.

Then again, Carth didn't really need her to answer. He already knew what she would say.

Reaching into the pocket of his worn orange jacket, he withdrew the object and held it, glinting, in the palm of his calloused hand. It was a perfect circle, Carth observed, like so many things in life.

He laid his free hand on Mo's marker, brushing the cool stone in a last goodbye. Then he closed his fist around the ring and stepped purposefully toward the hope for his future.

"Rev? I've got something to ask you..."


All KotOR characters (c) Bioware. Star Wars (c) Lucas.