My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 12

Carth was not immune to the irony. Once again, he sat on the floor, his face in his hands, Sarah dead to the world in the bed he leaned against. He was wide awake, thrumming with energy...she had crashed into this blissful sleep not long after he'd finished. Too soon for this stupidity. Well, that was true. He didn't really know her. She still wasn't completely well. All good reasons why he should have exercised a little more self control than he had managed. Sadly, however, the doubts he'd been expecting were not rising as quickly or as firmly as he'd thought they would.

What did he expect, truly? Morgana had been dead for years. He'd mourned, and then mourned some more. He had to start living again sometime. "I miss you." He sighed into the dimness, and was rewarded by a slight response from the depths of the bed behind him. He held his breath, but no...Sarah still slept. But she had heard him, responded to his voice, even as deeply as she rested. Odd, but that was a pretty accurate description of her.

He stood, stretched and scratched, contemplating the room. It wasn't much, hardly the surroundings he preferred to... well, he'd always prided himself on his sturdily romantic streak. Flowers, dinner, turned out in a tidy uniform at the very least. "I'll have to make it up to you." He chuckled, shaking his head. At least she'd certainly seemed to enjoy herself...

"Who are you and why are you here?" Her voice was deep, grating and dark. The first time he'd heard her talk in her sleep had unnerved him, the fear that she actually sounded like that had clung to him until she had awoken. She turned pissy in her nightmares, of that he had few doubts.

"Shhhhh." He laid down next to her, wrapping an arm around her belly and resting his forehead against her shoulder.

"What?" Her voice was normal, a little slurred with sleep, curious.

"Nothing. You were having another nightmare. Want to talk about it?"

"I...don't really remember. I remember being angry. No, outraged. And Bastila was there, with some others. There were klaxons, weapons fire, we were on board a ship...it was under attack."

No surprise there. "So you served with Bastila. That might have been the engagement you were injured in. Anything else you can remember?" If she'd served above and beyond the call of duty, then that could explain why Bastila seemed so attached to her.

"No." She covered his hand with her own, "Sorry if I disturbed you...but you weren't in bed."

"Not in bed, no." He kissed her shoulder, and she made a small, pleased noise under her breath. "Someone gave me a lot to think about." Another noise, less pleased, and he kissed the shoulder again. "Nothing bad, Sarah. Anyway, I've never been one of those men who fall right asleep afterward..."

"Damn, because I'm one of those women who do." She turned in his arms, resting her face against his chest, slinging her arm over his waist, her fingertips stroking his back. "Thank you."

"Fool woman." He murmured, settling comfortably next to her. "There are certain things you're never supposed to thank someone for." And this definitely qualified. It had been so long, he should be the one doing the thanking... "Although I owe you a dinner, you need to hold me to that."

"Dinner, eh?"

"Yes. It's been a long time since I..." What, exactly? Dated? He'd never been the love them and leave them sort, and he was in unknown territories here. He'd fallen for Morgana hard and fast, they'd both been very young, and that had been that...the end to his urge to make relationships with women stage. "Ah, geesh, Sarah. You have to cut me some slack here, I'm doing my best."

"Oh, now that's a statement I believe." She said, agreeably. "Don't tear yourself up over this, Carth. It defeats the purpose of it altogether. But sure, when we rescue Bastila, manage to flee the Sith blockade, and arrive safely back on Coruscant, I will take you up on that offer of a fine dinner."

The unnerving thing was, Carth felt, was that she seemed to be perfectly, completely honest in that statement. There was not even the slightest hint of self deprecation or amusement in her syllables. She just...believed. In him. In herself. Somehow she was tapping into a wellspring of supreme confidence, and he'd certainly like a drink of it himself. That, or she was simply crazy. Or both.

"What's the matter?" She shifted, resting her head on his arm, her eyes very dark in the dimness when she looked up at him. He snorted, holding her closely, running his fingers deep into her loose hair. "I've missed this." He finally admitted aloud. It was the truth, and it was perhaps safer than stepping into the realms of exploring crazy...with the possible crazy. Sex was always good, no great, but this was truly what he lacked. The comfortable intimacy of lying in a dim room, in bed with an unclad partner, just talking. Sharing, not being alone.

"Yeah."

"Dare I ask?" She became still in his arms, and he sensed that she'd gotten that distant, searching look. He regretting asking immediately, but he couldn't bring the words back.

"I don't remember." She finally settled on, making herself more comfortable in his embrace. "If he hasn't been around the whole time I've been out of the hospital, then that tells me what I need to know. I asked in the hospital if anyone had come. If anyone had made inquiries. If there was anybody in my records...they told me no. No one."

Carth held his breath for a long, horrified moment. He couldn't imagine just being abandoned, discarded, left like that. Morgana had died in his arms, terrible, but he knew her fate. His son, never found, but Carth had searched until the Sith occupation of Telos had forced him away. He'd never given up the search. Every administration in the Republic who could have recovered Dustil had been informed that he was missing. That Carth was still looking, still waiting...still hoping. But to be in a hospital on Coruscant, how difficult could she have been to find? "I'm so sorry."

"Obviously not worth my time...if I run into him again, I'll kick his ass for it. Otherwise, not. Luckily for him, I don't remember who he is."

And the steel in her voice almost made Carth feel sorry for the unnamed, unremembered male in question...almost. He wouldn't want this one after him, but if he had really left her, then he deserved what he got.

"His loss." She chuckled, wrapping her arms around him. "Your gain."

That should have been creepy. Oddly enough, it wasn't, and he just held her until she fell asleep again. Not long after, he slipped to sleep himself.

He woke to the furtive sounds of someone up, and trying to get things done without waking the other person in the room. "I'm awake." He called, and as expected, the sounds became normal. Had it really happened? Or was he just dreaming...

She came out of the refresher, naked as the day she was born, and whatever groggy doubts he may have had fled at the sight. And under the covers, he was also completely nude... No, it had happened. He wasn't entirely certain what he thought of that fact, but it was undeniable. "Good morning." She greeted, at ease with the weight of his eyes on her. "It's all yours."

Yes, yes it was...even if she was referring to the refresher, not the view. She was not a lushly built woman, rather thinner than his tastes preferred, but it was all put together well. Her hair was still loose, and he liked it that way, and if these were the only times he saw it, then he could still be happy. She had rather broad shoulders, a play of muscles, small breasts, narrow waist, and wider hips than he'd have originally guessed. She was built like a woman on the move, a dancer, a soldier, nothing extra on her at all. Of course, she was unwell, coming off of a time of even greater illness. And he was not in any position to judge, he was hardly a hard chiseled god of male perfection. "What are your thoughts?" he asked, tearing his eyes away from a full on view of nude female and gathering up his clothes from where they'd been tossed.

"The only way we can guarantee being allowed into the pits of the season opener, getting that close, is to have a bike. I don't have to win, but that's what it's going to take to not be locked into the betting parlor. They're going to be cautious about this...they'll want to keep it on the low down."

"We could wait until after..."

She treated him to a fine angle as she leaned over to collect her own clothes, her expression closed and thoughtful. "No. Everything in me says we have to be there. Then. That it's our only chance to get Bastila back, and..." Closed and thoughtful became that completely distant, empty fix... "I have to have her back."

I have to have her back. Carth dropped his head to hide his own expression as he pondered. I felt angry, no...outraged. Possession, outrage, and Bastila's bizarre refusal to leave this one behind, it was all so very strange.

"Stupid, I know." She continued in her usual voice. "For a woman I don't really remember. One of these days, it will all fall back into place, and I will understand again." She glared at the unoffending wall next to her before she sighed and gave him a smile. "Well, it could be worse, let's go get this done, Champ."

"My name is not Champ." He sighed, sliding from between the sheets and standing, well aware he was giving back the show she'd been so generous with. "My nickname is Fleet."

That earned him a wicked smile and a quick kiss. "Must be a joke, because you certainly weren't overly quick last night." In spite of himself, he had to laugh. Well, at least she was in a damn good mood, and she was a sunny sort when she was. "Go get cleaned up. We're running out of time."


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