Happy Birthday Izzy! The wait is FINALLY over. XD Here's a little something for you! XD

This one-shot is set after my story "Behind Closed Doors". You don't need to read it to understand this at all, but events from "Behind Closed Doors" are referred to. Devorah is Izzy's character from her series "Twisted Fate" and I also used her in "Behind Closed Doors", by kind permission of Izzy. Thank you! =D

Happy 13th Birthday, Izzy! Have a great year. =D


How The Other Half Loves

High Jedi Master Mace Windu sat in his quarters watching the setting suns of Coruscant as they submerged the neutral colours of his spartan living area into fiery reds, yellows and oranges. Such colours drew attention to themselves, were the epitome of strong and vibrant emotions. Mace sighed, rubbing a brown hand over his bald head out of habit. Strong and vibrant. He had once loved strong and vibrant. But he had pushed it away. Another habit he had developed. And now, like his deep settled regrets, strong and vibrant returned daily to haunt him.

Mace stood up and walked to the window. He looked out over the cityscape as it reflected shadows of the setting suns. He noted, as he did every night, how the city was built upon hierarchy. The Senators and aristocracy and the Chancellor and the Jedi, they were at the top. Nearest the suns, the sky, in reach of the power. And below them the people, everyday citizens with everyday jobs and lives. Below them, the poorer classes. And below them, the Underworld. No light. No power. The "scum of the galaxy". Mace himself preferred not to use this term. He felt his ties to the Underworld were too deep for him to pretend they didn't exist, pretend that when people insulted it he didn't feel a stab of pain close to his heart.

He scowled. If she had walked on by without looking, he would not have this problem. If she had never touched him, never let him in the way she had, his heart wouldn't feel so heavy with regret each day and he would have been able to sleep soundly at night. With this thought, his tired gaze wandered to his neatly made bed. To any other person, the bed would look inviting, comfortable after a hard day's work defending the Republic. But not to Mace. All he saw was more confusing dreams, more headaches, more heartache. And he knew tonight it would be worse.

It was her lifeday.


It was her lifeday.

So why wasn't she having any fun?

Devorah Santez studied her reflection in her drink. Dark raven locks, waves tumbling about a face with deadly beauty, eyes chocolate brown but sharp as a hunter's, lashes long and thick, eyebrows delicate. She sighed and downed the rest of her drink in one go. She made a face. What was that? She shrugged. Too drunk to remember. She waved at the bartender to get her another. He looked at the collection of empty glasses in front of her warily, but complied. Devorah downed that one just as fast.

She sat back, leaning on the bar, and watched the night-life come and go. She often played this game with herself; who were they, why were they here, how were they feeling? She liked reaching into their minds to find out. Sometimes she might meet a rogue Jedi or two and have to retreat before they found her. She giggled. Having a Force power or two had it's perks...but there was always the niggling feeling in the back of her mind that told her she had gone down the wrong path.

Pffuit! Listen to yourself. You're not the Sith type. And no way could you be a Jedi with all the restrictions. You're fine the way you are. She picked up her next drink with a tipsy giggle.

A particularly interesting couple walked into the bar at that moment. But Devorah need not have tried to guess who they were – she knew them already. At least, she thought she did. She couldn't quite tell after the amount of drinks she'd had. The room was a little fuzzy, and the people were blurry and looked as though they were tilting...She shook her head to clear the drunkenness and watched furtively as the couple – yes, she was sure she knew them now – selected a secluded table far in a corner, away from prying eyes. Well, everyone's except Devorah's. But she had been trained to see what no one else saw, even, she supposed, when she was drunk.

The woman, a young Rutian Twi'lek, shrugged off a simple brown cloak and sat down. The green Nautolan that followed her put his arm around her and pulled her close. They were both smiling. The Nautolan clasped his other hand with hers, and the stark green-and-cerulean contrast struck a chord in Devorah's memory...

She had always admired what pretty colours they made. Blue and green, cerulean and fern, sapphire and olive. Seeing him hold her steady as he helped her from the lake, his dinner jacket pulled tight around her shivering body, caused Devorah's heart to twinge. She looked over at Mace. They had once been like that. Casting her gaze back to the wet couple, she found her eyes wandering to their clasped hands, fingers twining with one another's as though nothing could tear them apart...nothing. She doubted if even the Code they lived their lives by changed the fact that they were truly, deeply and utterly in love. And, she thought, their children would be the most beautiful colour...

The hands of the couple in the corner were the same hands seen clasped after that ship crash on Cato Neimoidia.

Devorah sighed. Now she was...confused? She didn't know. She felt a mixture of anger and regret and pain and now definitely some nausea. Damn. Too many drinks.

The Nautolan lifted his hand and tilted the Twi'lek's lips towards his. They met slowly in a long, dragging kiss laced with passion. Devorah felt a little uncomfortable now, but for some reason she couldn't look away. They reminded her of him. And her. Together. Blissfully happy. Passionately in love. Etcetera. Anyway, the dream was shattered now, so why dwell? Also, looking at them meant she didn't have to look at the neon lighting, which was giving her a pounding headache. She was starting to feel claustrophobic.

As the interactions between the couple got more heated, they disappeared from view behind a partition. Devorah leaned back on her seat and craned her neck to try and see them. She couldn't. Just as she was about to lean even further, the Nautolan appeared from behind the partition and started towards the bar. In a mad rush to turn away, Devorah lost her balance and the stool rocked and fell, taking her with it.

She hit the floor with a hard thud. She mentally checked for injuries, but all she could feel was a damaged ego. A pair of brown boots appeared in her vision and two strong arms helped her up. She slipped once or twice, her drunken brain trying to figure out which way 'up' was. Eventually she faced the owner of the boots. Stang. It was you. Why did it have to be you?

The green Nautolan grinned slightly, as though sensing her thoughts. She hit herself inwardly. Stang, Devorah! You didn't even check to see if your mind shields were up? You complete idiot.

She grinned lopsidedly. "Hello, stranger." She winced inwardly. That had come out a little too slurred for her liking.

The Nautolan grinned back. "Devorah. It's, well, a pleasure to see you again..."

Yeah, right, she thought. But she laughed anyway. She was in a laughing mood. "Uh, yeah. You too, I guess. Kit, is it?"

"Yes."

"Kit..." She searched for a name in her dizzy mind. The lights made her feel nauseated again. "...Fisto. Kit Fisto. Right."

Kit laughed. "Are you having a good time tonight, Devorah?" Oh, for Gods' sake. Just go away so I can puke without ruining your boots.

"Uh, sort of." She decided it was unimportant to inform him that it was her lifeday. Just useless information he'll toss away somewhere at the back of his mind. Everyone tosses Devorah away. She felt tears sting at her eyes. No! I refuse to cry. I'm stronger than that.

She sniffed. "You, uh, getting a drink for your girlfriend?" Stang, what was her name?

Kit smiled. "Yes, I am getting a drink for Aayla." Aayla. Aayla Secura. That was it.

"So, uh, how's the..." She swallowed another wave of nausea. "...Jedi Order doing?" She realised that it was a stupid question, but she was too drunk to care.

Kit laughed. "Oh, just fine, thanks." His hand went subconsciously to the lightsaber at his hip.

There was an awkward silence. Devorah felt a large wave of sickness coming on, and she didn't want people around to see her puke her guts up.

"Well, I'll uh...I'll go now. Have a nice evening, or whatever." She turned away and headed for the door, room swimming and her head pounding in her ears so loud she couldn't hear his response.

Oh yeah. A great lifeday.


Mace had no idea what had brought him down into the slums of Coruscant. He kidded himself that if sleep was not an option, then a midnight walk would do him some good. But a part of him knew really that if he was down here, there was more chance of seeing her.

Sometimes at night he would lie awake and deeply regret ever hurting her the way he did. He seemed to be plagued with memories of fierce chocolate eyes, full rouged lips and silken waves of ebony black. But whenever he saw them in his memories, her eyes were always hurt and crying, her lips turned down and bleeding, and her hair wild and untamed, reflecting the colours of fire from the burning building behind her...

"Why, Mace? Why!" Devorah was screaming and hitting him, tears streaming down her smoke-charred face. The burning skeleton of a building was all that remained of what had once been her latest victim's house. Her mission had been to simply assassinate the man, but on her way out she had knocked over a burning candle that had quickly set the whole house alight. The raging flames reminded him of Devorah; their wild and untamed licks determined to do whatever it took, even if they would eventually die out. His heart lurched painfully. He would never see her again.

He had never, in all his time with her, seen her as out of control and upset as this. She was still screaming hysterically, but her hits were becoming weaker, and he knew she was running out of strength to keep hitting him.

He grabbed her arms and tried to pull her close, but she just hit him away again, tears flowing steadily and her screams now heartbroken sobs. He tried again, and managed to pull her to him as he tried to explain.

"Deedee, please. I'm so, so, so sorry, Devorah. Please, try to understand. We..." He broke off as her eyes met his and he was at once assaulted by the hurt and utter despair she was feeling. He could feel his heart beginning to crack apart. "...we can never be together. I should never have let this happen. My Code forbids it, and I have to go back to the Order, Dev, because it's...it's...it's who I am. This," He gestured around them. "This has been...well. The point is that I do love you Dee. I really do. But we...we live on two separate sides of the galaxy. We could both lose everything else we care about because we let our hearts," He touched his fingers lightly over her heart. "...control our heads." He brushed her hair out of one eye. "I will always love you, Devorah Santez. For as long as my heart beats. But all I can take from our time together is bittersweet memories, because anything more and I know I will go mad. So please, please don't cry." He smiled wistfully. "We both know I'm not what you need. So goodbye, Dee. I will never forget you."

He bent his head to kiss her forehead, but she pushed him backwards with considerable force. Her eyes were fierce and hurt, her lips turned down and bleeding, and her hair reflecting the flames.

"You never loved me. Never!" She screamed. "I hate you, Mace! I hate you!" Mace gasped as what felt like a million ice cold knives pierced his heart. "And if you know what's good for you...you..." She broke mid-sentence to sob. "You'll never come back! Because if you do I'll kill you myself!"

"Devorah, please...!" Mace tried to reach her, but he could feel his heart now, cracked from top to bottom and pain pouring out with every beat. He gasped from the pain, watching in disbelief as she walked away, flames framing her sobbing silhouette of wild waves.

It was only then Mace realised he had been crying the whole time.

Mace passed bar after bar after bar, each one a likely place for Devorah to hang out. But so far he had not seen her, and he had no intention to go into any of them and look for her. After all, he was just taking a late night stroll, wasn't he? Why should he waste his leisurely time looking for someone who didn't want to see him?

He sighed. If there was one thing in life he regretted, it was leaving her the way he did. If he had done it some other way at some other time, she would probably not hate him so much, and he would stop feeling like it was all his fault.

A figure stumbled out of the next bar and promptly began to vomit violently into the gutter. Mace rolled his eyes. Another drunk fool.

Being the gentleman he was, he decided to go and see if the person was all right. It was a woman, and her long hair was falling over her face as she bent double. He went up to her and touched her shoulder.

As soon as he did he knew who it was.

There was no mistaking the electric-like thrill he felt whenever he touched her. It was like their Force signatures bonded for a moment, like they were two pieces of a jigsaw that fit perfectly together. He could tell that she had felt it too, because her whole body tensed and she ceased vomiting.

"Hello, Devorah."


Stang. Stang stang stang stang and double stang.

Trying to regain her composure, Devorah straightened up. She was pretty sure she had finished puking now, but the world was still spinning a little and her head was still pounding. Stress. Gods, I need a break.

"Mace. What an unpleasant surprise." She pursed her lips. She had been hoping that Cato Neimoidia would be the last time she saw him. It had been enough stress then, what with kidnapped Jedi and corrupted Senators and her one true love turning up to ruin everything...well. Former one true love.

Mace rolled his eyes. "Devorah, please-"

"Please what, Mace? What do you want now?" She was peeved.

It was quiet out here, despite the thumping music from nearby clubs and the excited chatter of party-goers. The air was cool and crisp, and Devorah's headache began to clear.

She sighed and ran an elegant hand through her hair. Out of her purse she took a small canteen of water and rinsed her mouth out with it, then brought out a small breath spray, squirting it twice into her mouth. She always came prepared. She got drunk quite a lot recently. Then she reapplied her lip gloss, before finally summoning the courage to look into his dark eyes.

Big mistake. Memories came flooding back, memories she had suppressed for years and years, only to have them rise again on Cato Neimoidia and be forced to squash them again. And now they were returning again. She couldn't speak; she was so caught up in the rush of emotions flooding her. Hurt, anger, passion, love, regret...she wished he had never come tonight. But at the same time, she was glad he did. Because, like it or not, she missed him.

"We don't have to fight." His voice was quiet. He took a step closer to her. Devorah would have backed away usually, but his eyes were still locked on hers. Some mad part of her was screaming for her to pull out the blaster concealed under her coat and just shoot him. But the rational side of her knew that it wouldn't work, that he was too fast and strong. And she knew she didn't really want to shoot him.

Her head swam with memories of their time together; the times he had come on assignments with her, the times she had cried on his shoulder and he had listened patiently, soothed her temper and her aching muscles, and kissed her tenderly to sleep. Passionate nights together, lips soft and warm and that drove her insane for more. She wondered if his lips were still that soft...

"Maybe..." She found her gaze wandering towards his lips, parted slightly waiting for a response from her. "Maybe we don't have to fight...tonight." Her signature smirk found its way to her lips, but the effect was dampened by his proximity. He kept getting closer, and every time she looked into his eyes she fumbled for her words and forgot whatever she had been thinking. This isn't working. Why did I ever have to love him? Why? All he's done is ruin my life.

You know that's not true. His voice in her head made her jump. She mentally cursed herself for forgetting her shields, yet again.

She sighed. I am not having a good night.

Mace quirked an eyebrow. And why ever not?

Because. It's my lifeday.

I know.

You left me on my lifeday, Mace.

She felt his shock reverberate around their bond like bullets ricochetting off durasteel walls. He visibly froze; his eyes closed and his brow creased in a frown of regret.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Mace ran a brown hand over his bald scalp and sighed hard. "What else can I say? I'll...I'll leave now, if you want. I should never..." He broke off, obviously debating how much he should say, and how much would make a difference. His eyes fell downwards and he couldn't meet her eyes. "Goodbye, Devorah. This time, you'll be glad to know, I mean it." He smiled wistfully and turned away.

But I don't want you to leave. Suddenly Devorah reached out an arm and grabbed his shoulder, swivelling him around to meet her eyes once again. He looked mildly confused, but the fact that he didn't retaliate told Devorah something. She placed her hands behind his head and pressed her lips to his in a fiery kiss.

Instantly it felt as though he had never left. All the times they had shared together flooded Devorah's mind and overwhelmed her senses until she wanted more, more and more, pulling him closer as though she could physically meld their bodies together. His hands wrapped around her waist and the back of her neck, holding her safely and warmly despite the cool air. His lips were as soft as she had remembered and had the same dizzying effect of years ago, and Devorah felt as though she was falling into literal bliss. She wanted to keep falling for eternity.

Eventually though, the need to breathe overcame her need for him, and she reluctantly broke the kiss.

I love you, Mace.


Stang.

He had been hoping she wouldn't say that.

Because there was no way he could love her back.

Not again.

He sighed and drew back, needing to clear his head. Being near her exotic perfume and wild eyes again made him feel...intoxicated. He saw the confused look in her eyes, and it hurt him to see her like this again, but he needed to think straight. He couldn't forget the morals, the very way of life he had been so strictly brought up on. Loving Devorah meant forgetting them. Leaving his whole life behind. And he couldn't do that.

If his inner struggle had been obvious from the look in his eyes, he hadn't known it. But Devorah had seen it, seen him, and reaching into her mind he saw that she understood. Of course she did. Her life was just as strict as his, but in completely different ways. Her straying from her path meant death. Living as a bounty hunter was a hard life.

"I'm sorry, Dev. I just..."

"...can't?"

He smiled sadly. "You always did know me so well."

She took a step closer to him to close the gap he had made. "I knew you better than anyone, Mace. Still do."

He sighed. "Dee, I know what you want. But the honest truth is that I just can't give it to you. I can't love you forever."

"I'm not asking for 'forever' Mace," She placed a hand on the side of his face, stroking gently. He closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. "Just tonight." Her wicked smirk had returned. It made him smile to see her so unchanged after all these years.

He grinned. "Just tonight?"

"Well," Devorah laughed breathlessly. Their lips were about to touch again... "We can figure the rest out in the morning."

Mace openly laughed and finally closed the gap between their lips. She moaned as his hands glided over her lithe body; his arms wrapped around her tightly, moulding her body to his. At last, he felt, even if it only lasted one night, complete.

Eventually they broke apart and joined hands, strolling away from the bar. Devorah huddled close to him, keeping warm in the cool air. She smirked.

"Say, Mace...when I told you I loved you, did I hear you say 'stang'?" She punched him playfully.

He held up his arms in mock confession. "I suppose it might have slipped out. What can I say?" He chuckled. "You're a bad influence."

She grinned. "You bet I am, baldie."

Mace frowned at her playfully. "Don't push your luck, Deedee."

With that she stomped on his foot. Hard. He winced.

Stilettos hurt, Dev.

She just grinned and kept on walking. "Hurry up, Mace! We don't have the whole war to wait."

Mace rolled his eyes, smiling. He caught up with her and wrapped his arms around her again, kissing her neck gently.

"Happy lifeday, Deedee."


He had called her "Deedee" again.

And for once she didn't care.

Gods, she hadn't realised just how much she had missed him. Force knew what tomorrow would bring. But she decided it would be OK to throw caution to the wind just this once. Feeling safe in his arms, she let him lead her.

This year's lifeday hasn't been so bad.

She nudged him. "So, where's my present?"

He just laughed.


Finis

Ta-daa! XD Whaddya think, Izzy? Happy birthday! =D You are an amazing friend, clone!

Reviewers get a slice of birthday cake. XD

If you enjoyed this, could you please take just a minute to vote on the poll on my profile? Thanks. =D