Home. The word and meaning had been so elusive in the past few years, but now I was finally on a freighter on my way back home. I sank back into the seat and closed my eyes, envisioning that moment when I finally laid my eyes on him. Knowing him, he'd probably be working at the republic embassy, or whatever he was up to these days. I didn't really know him anymore. I haven't known him for years, 4 years to be exact, but I was hoping he'd still be the some old flyboy he was when we were off saving the galaxy together.
A protocol droid walked by, bumping my arm with the refreshment cart and waking me out of my fantasy. "Would you like anything. Miss?" He asked me. I shook my head and he moved on, clanking down the narrow aisle. I glanced out the window, but all I could see where the ribbons of light from the hyper drive. Impatiently I closed my eyes, trying to make the remaining time pass quickly. I delved into my memory, and reminisced about one of the last happy moments with flyboy before I left.
It was his birthday, and I wanted it to be absolutely spectacular. I had already bought the gifts, and was working over the stove, cooking his favorite dinner when the communicator buzzed. I wiped my hands on a nearby towel before crossing his small kitchen to answer it.
"Hey!" I said enthusiastically when Mission popped up on the screen, "What do you need?"
Her hologram self peered past me into the next room and she asked, "Hey Lola. Is the old geezer there? I wanted to wish him a happy birthday."
I giggled a bit then answered her. "Nope. He's still at the office, I'll tell him you called though."
She nodded "Okay. It doesn't have to be tonight. I know that you've got some. . . things planned."
I rolled my eyes, although she wasn't far off. "Goodbye Mission," I said pointedly and pushed the button to end the call. I headed back to the kitchen to check on the meal when I heard keys rattling in the door. I turned just in time to see Carth enter our house.
I couldn't stop the automatic smile that lifted my cheeks, not that I wanted to. I went to him and he wrapped his arms around me with a, "Hey gorgeous."
I pulled back enough to look into his eyes. "I thought I told you I preferred Beautiful?"
He chuckled and let me go. "That's true, I'm sorry. But with a name like 'Hairless Wookie' I don't think you have much room to complain."
I laughed and then mustered my best impression of him. "Alright sister. Just. . .Just calm down before you head explodes."
He winced. "Ouch. That was terrible!"
I stuck my tongue out at him. "Shut up," and then I thought for a second and reached behind the couch. I pulled out his gift and handed it to him. "Here. Open it."
He gave me a quizzical look. "Now?" He asked. I nodded and he proceeded to tear the sparkly paper off the box. He opened it and pulled out his old blaster, the one that had been destroyed in the star forge explosion.
"I saved it. I knew how much it meant to you, so I wanted to see if I could get it fixed. It took a while, but it shoots straight again." I pulled it from him and turned it on its side, bearing the Onasi crest, and more than a few burn marks and scorches. "I could have had it refurbished, but it would have covered the crest. I hope you don't mind."
I met his eyes for the first time since he had opened it. I desperately wanted him to like it, and I was afraid he wouldn't.
He was looking at me admirably, and with love in his eyes. He captured me in a hug again and whispered, "I love it," in my ear. We stayed that way, in our own world until a frantic beeping broke us apart.
"What's that?" he asked, as we sprang off the couch. I listened for a second, and then recognized it as-
"The fire alarm! Crap! Oh no no no!" I raced into the kitchen, where black smoke was now pouring from the oven. I snatched a pair of oven mitts off the counter and yanked open the oven door. I pulled out the smoking pan, where a pair of charcoaled bantha steaks lay. Coughing, and waving my hand in front of me to dissipate the smoke by my face, I slammed the whole mess into the sink and splayed water over it. I opened the windows while Carth punched in the code to stop the screaming fire alarm.
Finally, when the smoke was clear and all was quiet, I turned to face Carth. He was hanging by the entrance to the kitchen with a disbelieving look on his face. I turned back to the sink and slammed the oven mitt down next to it. And I had wanted this night to be so perfect! Tears stung my eyes as Carth came up behind me. I turned around and hung my head.
"I'm so sorry Carth. I wanted to make this special for you." I angrily pawed at a tear that had broken free.
"Hey, its alright. We can just go out and eat." He said while pulling me closer to him.
"I know, its just- Damnit!" Why couldn't I stop crying? No sense crying over spilled milk, or burnt bantha.
I sniffed, and that's when I noticed his shoulders shaking. "Carth?" I asked hesitantly while the shaking increased. "Carth are you ok?" I pulled back from him and searched his face.
"Carth Onasi are you laughing at me?" I shouted at him, while lightly slapping his arm.
"No I swear I'm-" but before he could finish he erupted in roaring laughter.
"Its not funny!" My eyes narrowed at him. Well at least I wasn't crying anymore. . .
Noticing my anger, he calmed down some, but amusement still danced in his eyes. "Hey, hey, don't get mad, alright? Its just, with you standing there, you looked so much like Bastila." he started chuckling again.
I folded my arms against my chest, but I started giggling too. And it wasn't long until we were both folded over in laughter while the wind pulled the rest of the smoke out the window and into the sunset.
I smiled as the echo of our laughter faded back into my memories. When I opened my eyes we were going through the final docking procedures on Citadel station. I grabbed my luggage out of the over head compartment and was the first one off of the freighter. I headed to a nearby bathroom to freshen up a bit. When I came out, I realized that I had absolutely no idea where to go. I wandered up to a nearby republic outpost for some answers.
"Excuse me." I asked the perky blond secretary. "but could you tell me where I might find Captain Carth Onasi?"
She looked confused, for a second I feared that he had changed posts, but than a flicker of recognition highlighted her eyes. "Captain? Don't you mean Admiral Carth Onasi?"
I blinked in shock. So he was an admiral now? My lips curled in pride for his accomplishment. Of course there was talk about a promotion, but I never though that he'd make it so high up in command.
"Ah, yes. That's him. Could you please tell me if he's in?"
She gave me a once over before checking the screen in front of her. "I'm sorry, but he has taken vacation leave and isn't due back for another two weeks. Perhaps someone else could assist you?"
I shook my head. "No, I really need to talk to him, its important. Do you know where he might be?"
She looked around conspiringly, before leaning in. "Well, you didn't hear it from me, but he should be over at the base chapel."
I thanked her and snatched a map off of her desk. I managed to find my way after a few wrong turns and a helpful soldier. I was walking along a semi-abandoned corridor before something caught my eye. It was a statue. I walked closer, examining it. There was stone bodies of fallen soldiers, republic, mandalorian, and sith. There were four men, set in a forever fight scene. A republic soldier was fighting down a sith. They were both still standing, but the supposed sith soldier was left defenseless. The republic man was driving his sword towards his opponent. I shuddered, and could only imagine what would have happened if this was carved out of flesh, and not rock.
The mandalorian was being fought down to his knees with two soldiers after him. He was down on one knee, using his sword to block a blow from a determined republic soldier. Another soldier was coming up behind him, readying the final blow for the mandalorian. The desperation of both fights got to me, and I felt myself being dragged down into depression.
"It wasn't worth it," I whispered to myself. Both wars, so many lost, and fallen. And we were fighting amongst ourselves when all this was just around the corner. That was part of the reason I was back. I had done what I could on the outer rim to hold back the onslaught, to give the republic time to recover. But I just couldn't do it anymore. Alone that is. I needed the republics help, and they were gonna need mine.
But before I continued my quest to the chapel , I found myself intrigued by the stone mandalorian. Before I could stop myself, I reached out and touched the smooth cold stone. I closed my eyes, and remembered the night I had left.
I had packed earlier, so I would make minimal sound during my departure. I had locked the door, and slid the key under it. I hated myself for leaving, but this is how it had to be. I had started this, I had to finish it. I made my way down to the hanger where the Ebon Hawk laid in wait. I glanced over my shoulder and paused, in agony over who I was leaving behind. I had left him a datapad, explaining what was going on, and why I was leaving. But how do you do that? How do you say goodbye to someone, possibly forever? I told him not to make any expectations, that there was a chance, that this could be our last goodbye. I told him I would do everything in my power to return to him but. . . Sometimes your best just isn't enough.
Tears where blurring my sight, which is why I didn't see him until he was right in front of me. He held out in arm to stop me, just in front of the Ebon Hawk.
"Sneaking off in the middle of the night? Republic's not gonna be too happy. I guess I'm supposed to do the right thing and stop you, right? Lucky for you, I'm not into doing the right thing."
Canderous. "I should have known you would be here. You have a knack for showing up where your not wanted," I seethed.
"Oh yeah?" He countered, "Well it seems like you have a knack for not staying where your wanted."
I closed my eyes. I had lost enough sparring matches to know that the only way I would get past him was with his permission. Thanks to his advanced bio-stabilizer implant, even force tricks wouldn't work on him. "What do you want Canderous?" I asked him, franticly checking behind me to make sure Carth hadn't woken up and chased me down here.
"You," he said, and I fought the urge to roll my eyes. He was never going to get it, was he?
"Canderous, I'm sorry, but-"
"But you love him right? Yeah, I realize that. Don't quite understand it though. Why don't you try to explain it to me?" He spread his feet in a relaxed position, and I realized that I was gonna be stuck here for awhile.
"I love him, for him. Because he's good and kind and sweet,"
"All the things I'm not, right? Because, of course the one who always accepted you, who always loved you no matter what, isn't good enough for you, right?" He knew that Carth's rejection of me after finding out about my past was a sore spot.
I thought I was done hurting people tonight, but obviously I thought wrong. "Canderous I'm sorry, but I don't-"
"You don't what? You don't love me? You cant lie to me, Lola. And I wish you would stop lying to yourself. Your weren't lying that night."
I sighed. I knew exactly what night he was talking about. It was about a week after we had escaped the Leviathan. Carth's snub still was an open wound, and Canderous used that to his advantage. He came to me one night, said all the right things, pressed all the right buttons and I woke up in the morning in his arms. I had always had that weird tingling in the back of my heart whenever he was around, and he used that to his advantage.
"Remember the hate on his face? Remember how much that hurt? And remember who was there for you, who loved you through it all."
That struck a sore spot, and I defended him. "He loves me, and I love him," I spat, my eyes blazing.
"But you love me too," he held up a finger when I protested. "Not as much as you love him, I'd be a fool not to realize that, but you do. And just remember, while he decided to forgive Revan, I accepted you for who and what you are. And there will always be that doubt, in the back of your mind, does he really forgive you?"
I pushed past him, and he let me go. My nerves raw and on edge, I didn't turn around until I reached the loading ramp. I turned back around and faced him. "Re-unite the mandalore clans, keep them strong. What ever is coming, its strong, and the galaxy is gonna need all the help it can get."
He nodded. "I'll do that for you if you'll do something for me." I stayed silent and he continued. "Come back to me."
I shook my head. "Canderous, I can't promise anything. . ."
He nodded. "Then just come back. Please Lola, just come back."
I swallowed hard before answering. "I'm gonna try, Canderous."
I opened my eyes and slowly pulled my hand away from the cold, still soldier. I spent another second or two reminiscing about our friendship almost turned romance. If I wasn't so absolutely sure that Carth was the one, maybe. . .
I mentally shook myself and turned away from the statue. I glanced down at the map one more time before heading to an impressive building. It was built almost like a Jedi enclave entrance, only much more lavishly decorated. The molding was a piece of artwork, curling around the doorways and up past the steeple. I placed my hand on the ivory door and gently pushed it open.
Carth's POV- I splashed my face with cold water, removing the white smudges of shaving cream. I rested my hands on the cool ceramic sink, and examined myself in the mirror. I looked old, too old for a man my age. I had bags under my eyes, and wrinkles outlining my mouth and forehead. The slightest speckling of gray began at my temples, but I still had all of my hair. Scars from wars past had faded, giving me the look. . .of
Canderous really. My eyes were flat and expressionless, much like they were after Morgana died. I hated this man in front of me. He was cold, jaded, and unfeeling. All because of a woman.
She had left me. After everything we'd been through, all the promises and plans we made, it all ended in a datapad. She sounded sorry, I'll give her that. She almost made me believe her heart was breaking too. But who was I kidding? How could I, a common soldier even begin to deserve her?
She had basically told me not to expect her back. Ever. She had gone off to resave the galaxy and left me alone. That's why I was so thankful for Sarah. With her, I could begin to feel my pulse again, although it was nothing compared to the way my heart would race when I was with Lola. I pulled my undershirt over my head and remembered the day we first met.
Adrenaline. Being a soldier, I recognized the buzz well. Every time I had a ship on my tail, or was in a fight, or was jumping into an escape pod, adrenaline was my constant companion. But this was a new territory. I was going in blind, no intel, no tactical support, no backup plan. Failure was not an option. I scanned my surroundings with a keen eye, looking for anything out of place. Relaxing a fraction, I moved out of my hiding spot, fully visible to any enemies in the area. I crossed through the clearing in no time, pausing when I reached my destination. I carefully infiltrated the premises, still on full alert.
"Hello?" a feminine voice called out, "Welcome to Sarah's Boutique Critique. How can I help you?" There were racks of clothing, perfect for taking cover from oncoming fire. There were dresses, for one, and lots of feminine ruffles and lace. Towards the back there was more men's suits. I headed towards the counter, where the woman waited.
"Hello. I was wondering if you could help me with something." I pulled out the reason I was here. "You see, my blaster pistol holster has a rip, and I can't find anyone to fix it."
I laid the holster down on the counter. She frowned, "This isn't the kind of work we normally do."
I sighed, "I was afraid of that." I grabbed the offending object and slid it back toward me. She placed her hand over mine, stopping it in its track, and sending sparks up my arm.
"However, lucky for you, my dad was in the military. I was always fixing things like this. Let me take a look at it."
Distracted by the way she was making me feel, I flashed her a grateful smile before surrendering it to her grasp. She stepped away from the counter, and gestured for me to follow her into the back room. She took a seat on a nearby desk chair, and proceeded to examine the holster.
"This is a good quality leather. Bantha hide?" I nodded and she continued. "Ouch. That's a bad tear. This isn't going to be cheap. It might just be easier to buy a new one."
"No." I said simply. This was the holster that Lola had bought me just months before she disappeared. And I held on desperately to anything she left behind, anything that reminded me that she was real, that she was still out there somewhere.
She just shrugged, and started digging through her desk for something. She re-emerged triumphant with a tag. She started filling it out before speaking again. "So was it from a wife or something?"
I jumped at the disturbed silence. "Excuse me?"
She set down her pen and looked me in the eye. "I'm guessing why you want it fixed so badly? You got a girl somewhere that would have your ass for ripping it."
I winced. "No. No wife."
"Oh!" she blinked in surprise. "I'm sorry. Well anyway, it will be a few days. I have to order some special thread, and bantha dye to help hide the seam. I'll call you when its ready."
I nodded and thanked her once more before walking out the store. I glanced back behind me towards the sign. Sarah's Boutique Critique. I wonder if that woman was Sarah? None the less, I had a slight lift in my step, and felt better about myself than I had in years.
I exhaled in a huff as I finished tucking my shirt in. I was marrying Sarah today, but my mind kept tracing back to Lola. Hell, Lola was the one who brought us together in the first place, when that damb holster ripped. At first, it all started with just one dinner, after all, the girl did me a favor. Then one dinner became one movie, and became one dance. Around her, I could almost function again, almost feel human,
Almost, love her.
I could almost rationalize it in my head. Lola bought the holster, Lola left, holster tore, Sarah fixed it. Could be a sign from the force that Lola was gone forever and wanted me to be happy.
I kept running through this in my head as I finished polishing the last of my medals for my uniform. Some might call it cold feet, but there was something that told me that today might be a mistake. Probably that same small sniveling romantic part of me that still believed that Lola would come back. I sighed, and as I turned towards the door, I remembered the night she left.
I sighed and rolled over, not willing to face the dawn just yet. I reached across the bed to capture Lola in my arms, but came up empty. "Lola?" I groaned in my sleep, arms still hunting their way across the bed. "Lola where are you?"
I sat up when she didn't answer. "Lola?" all the lights were off, and I couldn't hear anything. I climbed up out of bed, and pushed back the bathroom door all the way. "Lola?" Not there. I exited the bedroom and entered the living area. The room was brightening due to the rising sun, and I could tell she wasn't here either.
"Lola?" I called louder, increasing the speed to my steps to reach the kitchen and dining room faster. Still not here. I full out ran to the back door, thinking maybe she had gone to the courtyard for some reason.
"Lola!" I shouted, worried. I scanned the trees and couldn't see her. I ran back inside, halfway hoping she'd be coming out wondering why I was yelling. I crossed back through the dining room when something shiny caught my eye. It was glimmering in the morning sun, laying in front of the door. I bent down to pick it up. It took me a second to realize what the cold metal was.
Lola's key. I felt a part of me grow cold and I sprinted into the bedroom. There on the bed, was a datapad. Time seemed to slow down to a crawl as my blood pulsed in my ears. I slowly walked forward, each step a lifetime. I gently sat down as I picked it up, and gingerly pressed the power button. The screen flashed to life. I checked the saved files, and found one.
I pressed the file open and began to read. "Carth," it said, "I ah. . . . I'm not sure exactly what to tell you, or how to tell you. I just want to say, I'm so, so, so sorry for hurting you like this. I never meant it to end this way. Remember those nights when I would wake up and couldn't fall back asleep? I told you they were just bad dreams, but they were memories. Something's coming. Something that I started back when I was Revan, and now I have to put an end to it.
"I love you. And I wish that this message could go on forever so I'd never truly have to say goodbye. But I wont forget you. And I'm going to try to come back, I just. . . I'm not making any promises. Just Carth, please don't forget me." the message ended there. For some reason, I kept scrolling down, hoping to find some meaning, some answer for why she left.
I reread the message, but it didn't sink in any more. Lola was gone? How. . . How could that be? We were so happy, I loved her and she loved me. But now she was gone? Why? The questions kept circling in my head while I sat there stunned, loosely holding her key and the datapad.
Something occurred to me, and I stood up and clumsily fell toward the door. I fumbled with the handle, taking too long to get it open. My body was in shock, and now even the most mundane task was difficult. I ran down the corridor, towards the hangar bays.
When I arrived, the place was mostly deserted. A few people meandered here and there, but I was beyond noticing. I ran toward the hangar where the Ebon Hawk was supposed to be, and found it empty. I stood there, frozen yet again as waves of pain rolled over me.
I slowly began shaking my head. She couldn't be gone, she just couldn't.
"Come back." I said weakly, my voice cracking due to the lump in my throat. "Please, force, make her come back."
I swallowed the memory down hard, hoping to be rid of it soon. I walked out of the chapels changing room and met my son on the way out.
"You ready, Dad?" he asked, a smirk upon his face.
"As ready as I'll ever be. You got the ring?"
He patted his pocket and nodded. I clapped him on the shoulder and followed him towards the rest of the church. He left to go join the other groomsmen while I went to talk to the preacher one last time.
"Nervous?" He asked me. I smirked and shook my head, before following him out to the front of the church. He nodded at the organist who began to play. The groomsmen escorted the bridesmaids down the aisle one by one. The black tuxes where nicely accented by the purple gowns that reached for the floor. Slowly, every one reached the front of the room and stood in their lines. The musician began a slow fanfare, and then started playing those familiar notes. The entire room rose to their feet and turned toward the door.
Sarah paused in the doorway, giving time for every one to see her clearly. Her gown was beautiful, mermaid cut if I wasn't mistaken. It was strapless, and showed off her pale skin. She smiled nervously as she met my eyes. I saw her take a breath as she stepped forward in time with the music. She slowly made her way down the aisle, gasps and murmurs of approval following her like a cape. She finally reached me, and I took her hand in mine.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, not only to witness the joining of two hearts, but two souls. Two people, so certain in their love, to vow to spend the rest of eternity by each others side." The preacher began, and I started remembering my first marriage with Morgana. I was supposed to spend the rest of my life by her side. Dustil cleared his throat behind me, and I was sure he was thinking the same thing.
"Sarah, please repeat after me. I Sarah Lyon, take you, Carth Onasi to be my lawfully wedded husband."
"I Sarah Lyon take you, Carth Onasi, to be my lawfully wedded husband," she gave me a small smile as she said this, her eyes welling with tears.
". . . Secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love."
"Secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love." he eyes spilled over, tracing little patterns through her makeup. I squeezed her hand comfortingly, and smiled at her.
"I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, and encourage you to achieve all of your goals. "
She cleared her throat before beginning. "I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, and encourage you to achieve all of your goals."
"To laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, and always be open and honest with you."
"To laugh with you and cry with you," she paused to take a deep breath, her control fighting her emotions. "Grow with you in mind and spirit, and always be open and honest with you."
The preacher smiled at her. "And to cherish you, for as long as we both shall live."
I almost thought that she wouldn't finish. She blinked hard, and then smiled at me. "And to cherish you, as long as we both shall live."
A small spattering of applause burst out, but it was quiet and short-lived. I noticed most of the women in the audience where crying, sniffling into handkerchiefs or their husbands shoulders. I also realized that most of the people at my wedding I didn't know. They had to be Sarah's relatives.
"Carth, please repeat after me." It took me a second to realize he was talking to me, and Dustil had to nudge me in the back. ". . . take you to be my lawfully wedded wife."
"I, Carth Onasi take you, Sarah Lyon, to be my lawfully wedded wife." I repeated automatically.
"Secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love."
"Secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my. . ." I froze. I tried to form the words, but they just wouldn't come. I cleared my throat, trying to but more time. Sarah smiled at me encouragingly. ". . . my faithful partner in life, and my one. . . My one. .. ."
Suddenly a gasp from my left interrupted me. I looked and saw a woman start working her way up the aisle, gasps and titters following her like a cape. Some people stood up to get a better look at the intruder. The ones who recognized her muttered her name, a curse and a blessing. The ones who didn't know her begged for information.
"Lola. . ." I breathed. It just couldn't be! After four years, without any notes or letters or communication, she just decides to show up now. My hands froze on Sarah's waist, me long since realizing what I was doing. Like the ones before her, she slowly made her way up the aisle, but she stopped halfway. The room froze on bated breath, waiting for her to speak.
Her face was one of agony and disbelief. Her green eyes where latched onto mine, begging for an explanation. When one didn't come, a small tear glided down the soft curve of her cheek. She took a hitched breath, and began to speak.
"Congrats." she said, and collapsed.