I Have No Title and I Must Scream
This is just a little thing that I thought of and thought I could get it out quickly. Ha!
I'm still going to try finish the thing that I was originally going to put here but I had this idea one morning when I was waking up. And then I didn't write it down quickly enough and promptly forgot all the emotions that I wanted to convey... It also ended up longer than the little short thing that I meant it to be. It didn't turn out quite the way I intended but it's serviceable, even if I think it jumps around a little at the end.
“Alright. So we’ve gone through all our options of finding where this Star Map is on our own.” Sera tapped her stylus against her datapad, then ran her hand through her silky black hair before absently massaging her neck and shoulders. She looked tired to Bastila’s eye. Her bondmate was leaning wearily against the circular doorframe of the Ebon Hawk’s tiny kitchenette while she addressed the assembled crew.
“Juhani and Jolee,” she gestured with the stylus, “were unable to find anything in any of the local libraries and archives, even when Mission and T3 hacked into their systems and datamined their whole servers.”
The little droid beeped and booped an earnest apology at her.
“It’s not your fault, T3.” Mission laid a comforting hand on the droid’s head. “The surface archives are completely cut off from anything in the main Selkath cities. There are these tiny hints of what cities are where and how many people live in them but that’s it.” She shrugged. “I’m not sure how those on the surface communicate with their family living back home. There must be a data cable or a very well hidden frequency band somewhere but I haven’t found it.”
“Right. Carth and Canderous weren’t able to get anything useful from any soldiers or mercenaries even with HK and Zaalbar standing by and looking menacing because again,” Sera held her hand palm up in a gesture of helplessness, “the Selkath are very secretive and don’t like talking to strangers.”
Bastila frowned as Sera rubbed her eyes and gently pressed her thumb into her temple. She’s working too hard. Bastila felt a tingle of resentment towards the Republic and the Jedi Council for putting such a heavy burden on her… friend. She wished she could smooth the worry from Sera’s brow, let her rest until the twinkle returned to her dark eyes.
“Finally, Bastila,” Sera said, a tired smile touching her lips, “reached out the Council on Coruscant to see if they’d come up with anything but they weren’t any help. As usual,” she finished under her breath.
“Okay, so we don’t know where this thing is beyond Roland Wann’s vague comment about “ancient ruins” or whatever,” she continued. “And he could just be blowing smoke up our asses to get what he wants. Now,” She tapped something on her datapad. “I’ve looked into chartering a submersible to explore the depths under our own terms but they are both prohibitively expensive and heavily regulated. Not that I don’t understand why the Selkath are so paranoid but there you go.”
Sera flicked her datapad off with a sigh and lowered it in front of her, resting her hands on it and addressing the crew directly.
“So, it makes sense to everyone to do what Ambassador Wann wants to get access to his submersible? Unless anyone has a better idea?” she said hopefully. When no one offered anything, Sera’s shoulders dropped almost imperceptibly and all trace of lightness fell from her face. “Right. Okay.” She stared at the floor momentarily, then squared her shoulders, a quiet, grim determination whispering through their bond.
“I’m going to go in there alone and see if I can find this data module that the Republic lost, have a look around for those kids that Shaelas thinks the Sith took. It might be a good idea for the rest of you to take the Hawk and stay elsewhere until everything settles down. Not get caught in any of the legal kerfuffle that’ll follow.”
Bastila’s head snapped up. “That’s not going to happen!” She reddened. The words had burst from her lips faster than she could think.
Sera looked surprised at the interruption. She frowned and cocked her head. “You think it’s a bad idea for everyone else to leave the planet?”
“I’m not letting you go in there on your own,” she said firmly. “I’m going with you.”
Sera stared at her in shock. Bastila ignored the curious looks she could just feel the others giving her, her face heating further. Why is this bothering me so much? Even though the likelihood of her succeeding in infiltrating the Sith Embassy, completing her mission, and being executed for her crimes anyway are frighteningly high, that doesn’t go down if I go with her. In fact, it would just compound the danger the Republic is in. Just because I would never see her again… Her legs nearly buckled at the thought. She shook her head.
“You…” Bastila licked her lips. “You’re too valuable. I can’t…” She swallowed thickly. “The Republic can’t lose you. We… The mission can’t go on without you.”
She glanced away, her spirit in turmoil. Why can’t I let this go? It’s not as if we couldn’t go on without her at this point. We mostly know where the rest of the Star Maps are, even if we can’t get to them yet. In all honesty, her sacrificing herself to help us obtain this third one… She stopped, her heart-rending in two, unable to even consider trading Sera’s safety and happiness for that of the galaxy. Her breath hitched as realization dawned in her mind. It can’t be! I can’t be in l-- Her head snapped up. She hadn’t bothered to shield her thoughts in any way. It hadn’t been necessary of late. They shared their thoughts and opinions freely, working together more seamlessly than Bastila had ever thought herself capable of. Now Sera was gazing at her, mouth agape, wonder plain on her face, expression more open and vulnerable than Bastila had ever seen it.
The poorly concealed scraping of a chair made her jump out of her skin. Carth looked a little sheepish, caught halfway through rising from his chair. Canderous was already sauntering out of the main hold while HK-47 clanked behind him making retching noises. Mission’s eyes darted from Sera to Bastila in rapt fascination while Juhani and Zaalbar surreptitiously tugged on her sleeve.
“But I want to hear what happens…” she whined quietly as she was pulled away.
“Don’t worry, kiddo,” Jolee said in a whisper that wasn’t as quiet as he thought it was. “I know a good hiding place where you can hear everything. Hmph, serve that nosy kid right!”
Bastila’s face was going to achieve nuclear fusion if it got any hotter. Nothing that the Jedi had ever taught her had prepared her for the embarrassment of having one’s friends and companions present when one realized that she had fallen in lo-- that she’d formed an unseemly attachment to one’s… to…
“It’s okay, T3. We’ll go through the plan later.” Sera said to the little droid that was looking up at her expectantly. “I just need to finalize a few details.”
The astromech clicked and whistled its understanding, then trundled off to go about its daily business. Whatever it is that a droid does when not in use…
Sera turned back to her and Bastila looked quickly away, unable to meet her bondmate’s gaze. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Sera opening and closing her mouth, clearly struggling for something to say. Bastila closed her eyes against the reality of her situation. I can’t. Not her.
“So…” Sera finally started, rubbing the back of her neck. “I, uh, wonder where Jolee’s hiding place is? I thought I’d gone over this ship top to bottom but he must have found something that I missed.”
Bastila eyes popped open. “That’s what you start with? You couldn’t come up with anything better?”
“Well… You know…” she prevaricated, wincing as she rubbed at her neck.
“Oh, for goodness’ sake, turn around!” Bastila crossed the distance between them quickly as Sera obeyed, pausing as realized what she was about to do before laying lightly trembling hands on Sera’s shoulders.
This is normal. Friends do this for one another. Sera’s groan when she pressed into a particularly sore spot near the base of Sera’s neck sent a shiver of decidedly un-friend-like thoughts tingling through Bastila. From the blush spreading over the dark olive skin of Sera’s neck she wasn’t alone in this. Licking her lips, Bastila did her best to ignore the resonance humming between them as she worked the muscles in her friend’s shoulders and neck. They were knotted and tight, the result of them being constantly on the move since they left Dantooine. It hadn’t helped that Sera had barely escaped with her life on Korriban. Bastila could vividly see Sera in her mind’s eye, sunset filtering into the Ebon Hawk’s cockpit as they took off from the spaceport bathing her lean form in golden-red light. Bastila swallowed against the lump of emotion in her throat. She had made some stupid, thoughtless quip about winning this war one Sith Academy at a time, only to see tears falling down Sera’s tired, dusty face, self-directed anger and frustration bubbling in her companion for not being able to get out of the Academy without slaughtering everyone. Her nightmares had increased in frequency and intensity since then. Sera said that they were just meaningless swirls of images and emotion (indigestion from Jolee’s cooking she’d said with a wink) but Bastila feared that they were something else, something that would expand outward, blot Sera Khan out completely, leaving something else in her place.
I can’t lose her. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t… Her fingers tightened reflexively and Sera hissed in pain.
“I know you’re into some rough shit but you can be a little gentler,” Sera said dryly.
Bastila’s hand was stinging from coming in rapid contact with Sera’s backside before she even had time to think. The asshole even had the temerity to laugh about it, a delighted sound that simultaneously made Bastila’s insides tingle and made her want to smack Sera again.
“Boy, those Jedi reflexes really are something!” Sera grunted a little this time when Bastila gave into temptation.
Someday I’m going to put you over my knee and-- “Are you going to keep dancing around the issue or are you going to get to the point?”
Sera took a deep breath and expelled it, forcing her shoulders to relax and her posture to remain casual. Bastila could feel her heart pounding next to her own through their bond.
“So you’re in love with me.”
Bastila’s face flamed. “I didn’t say that!”
Sera turned around. Bastila could feel the heat radiating off her body, could smell Sera’s familiar scent so close. The Jedi part of her mind told her to step back, close her eyes and centre herself, distance herself from the world of flesh and blood but she couldn’t.
“Why won’t you let me go into the Sith Embassy on my own, then?” Sera’s voice was low and intense.
“I… Why are you so determined to stop me going with you?”
Sera looked away, her face pained. “Baby, come on,” she said softly.
“Did you just…?” Her heart skipped and she scowled. “Did you just call me “baby”?” It didn’t come out nearly as indignant as she had intended.
“I’m not going to risk your life, okay. I’m just not.” She still wasn’t meeting Bastila’s gaze.
“I will follow you in there if I have to!” She poked Sera in the chest. “We are connected, remember? What happens to you, happens to me,” she said, moving her hand from Sera’s chest to her own. When Sera didn’t respond, Bastila took her head in her hands and forced Sera to look at her.
“Why?” she pleaded. “Why is my life worth so much more than your own to you?”
Bastila wasn’t prepared for the naked emotion in Sera’s eyes. Distantly, she knew she should have been. After all, it was fairly obvious from Sera’s words and actions the general direction of her feelings for Bastila, even if they hadn’t been quite as strong only a few weeks ago. But it was too much. Bastila snatched her hands away from Sera as if she were radioactive.
Don’t say it. Please don’t say it. “We…” I’ll have to refuse you if you say it. She swallowed, finding it difficult to breathe. “We can’t! Not while we’re…” She put a hand over her eyes, trying to block out the world, trying to hold everything in place. Why can’t we? a tiny, treacherous part of her mind asked. What would it hurt?
“No,” she said firmly. “We’re Jedi, we cannot do this!”
“But, why not?” Sera’s voice was weak and there was an edge of desperate hopefulness to it. “I mean, we’re… we’re not like other Jedi. We’re already connected to each other. Shouldn’t that count for something?”
Now it was Bastila who couldn’t meet Sera’s eyes. “I’m sorry. You’re just going to have to ignore it and focus on the mission.”
“Bastila, I don’t think this is just going to go away.”
The gentleness of Sera’s voice nearly undid Bastila. It would be so easy to just lean forward and allow herself to be enveloped in Sera’s warmth and hang the consequences. But another part of her mind screamed at her, reminding her just who Sera Khan was. Has she not proven herself to be trustworthy? You wouldn’t have slept with her the first time if you hadn’t thought so. Bastila cursed her brain for reminding her of such things and tried to block out the memory of Sera’s skin under her tongue, her wetness and heat.
“I know but I just can’t. Not yet. Not when we still have so much left to do.” She took a deep breath. “We cannot speak of this again until the war is over,” she said shakily. However long that may be. If either of us is even still interested.
Sera nodded and Bastila did her best to not see her surreptitiously wiping at her eyes. “Right. So, uh, does this mean I get to go into the Sith Embassy on my own?” Sera said hopefully.
Bastila snorted. “Of course not! That’s a completely separate issue,” she said before she remembered that it wasn’t. “That is… It’s… You’re not going in there without me!”
Sera stared at her open-mouthed for a second, then rolled her eyes in disbelief. “I can’t tell if I’m being rejected or not…” she muttered under her breath.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Sera. My not wanting you to recklessly endanger yourself has nothing to do with anything!” Bastila threw her hands up in the air. “The idea that it does is… is completely nonsensical! Absolutely ludicrous!” she finished, covering her eyes in embarrassment as she felt rising to her face and tried not to think about how much she sounded like her mother.
Sera’s chuckle sent warm shivers down Bastila’s spine. “I don’t think I have ever met anyone who is as utterly insane as you are. Luckily for everyone involved, that’s one of the things I lo--” Bastila glared at Sera, daring her to continue. She grinned. “That I like about you so much.” She sobered. “We won’t speak of it now because I’m promising you that I will make sure that we are both be happy and healthy when all this is over and we can speak of things at our leisure. Alright? I’m not going to do anything stupid to jeopardize that.”
Bastila felt weak under Sera’s steady gaze, her chest warming from the sincerity of Sera’s promise. I should have known that she would take my denial and turn it into something more positive. “I’ll hold you to that.”
“So, Ms Shan,” she said, holding out her hand, her eyes twinkling, “care to join forces with me and go cause some trouble for the Sith in their own embassy? Partner?”
“I would be honoured,” Bastila said with a smile, enjoying the feel of Sera’s hand in her’s. “Partner.”