My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 3

Carth sighed, the sound tinged with utter sadness. She had fallen asleep, dropped like a rock exactly as he'd figured she would once she had something solid in her stomach and real blankets over her. Her head was pillowed in his lap, and against his better judgment, he smoothed her hair gently. He hated times like this, when it hit him so hard. Normally, he would go do something until he could chase the memories away. If he just kept busy enough, he could hold it at bay. But now, he was locked in a tiny apartment with her...and she was pushing every button to remind him that it had been a very long time since he'd been this close to a woman. And there was nothing to distract himself with here...no vid feeds, not even a damned window to stare out of. He was alone with his thoughts, with his memories. "Well, hell." He marveled softly, lacing his fingers in her hair. He couldn't have been lucky enough to crash with a guy, could he? No. Of course not. Luck laughed in his face, as always. He carefully slid down in the bed, awkward until she shifted slightly to give him room.Bad, bad idea.

Yeah, and so was sleeping on the cold, hard floor. He was too damned old for that now. When he was younger, he could bounce back. Now, he just bounced...no return journey involved. He made a defeated noise and slung an arm over her belly, shifting until he was finally comfortable. To hell with it all. She seemed to take to him well enough, and hopefully she wouldn't kill him if she felt a morning erection between them. That was beyond his control, and while he wasn't young...he wasn't that old, either. Neither was she... Not that young, but definitely not that old. But old enough to know better, thankfully. She hadn't melted into a weird puddle, even though she had to realize how much care he'd been forced to give her. No stutters, no blushes, no outrage. She just accepted it, and he was truly grateful. Now, they just had to find Bastila and get the hell out of here, before they were discovered. He had no deep rooted desire to die as a martyr to the Republic's cause, if he was suicidal, he'd have gone that route years ago... and he'd have done it in a much less painful way than the Sith would give him.

He woke up, not at all surprised that many of his fears had come to pass. He was wrapped up around her, one arm slung over her belly, his face in her hair, his hips pressed against her buttocks. And he did indeed have that morning erection...maybe if he just extricate himself carefully, she would be none the wiser. "Morning." She breathed against his forearm, the one she was using as a pillow, and he clenched his jaw. No, no extrication if she had awoken before he did.

"I'm..." What? Sorry? Horrified? Weak? Appalled? Well, yes, yes, yes and yes.

"You're just fine." Her voice was supremely calm, gentle, and she shifted out of his grasp. She looked a hundred percent better than she had just the night before, and she stood easily enough. She moved a little stiffly, a little slowly, but with no wobbling or real hesitation. "Let's go find Bastila."

Ah, so she was going to give him a reprieve, and he was more than willing to take it. He slid out of the bed, pulling his trousers straight, and settled his blasters in their holsters. "Agreed."

She nodded, settling her own pistol belt down, tying with the grace of long practice. "Can I ask you something?" He began, and she glanced at him curiously. "What do you do? I mean... I know you were a last minute addition to the Spire's crew. That means I never got the chance to meet you, to know you..." In fact, that stank. He knew she wasn't one of the Spire's flight crew, he knew all of those, he'd vetted them, trained them and worked alongside them. No, she had come at the demand of the Jedi council, when his ship had been commandeered to be Bastila Shan's conveyance. And, in the period that Bastila had been on the Spire's bridge, this one was nowhere to be seen. She hadn't been in the officer's bunks, in the mess, or anywhere else that he'd seen. That had put her in the aft, with the grunts. The Jedi had demanded this, but she seemed to have no connection with Bastila whatsoever... at least that he could see. It was difficult to figure out the Jedi, and he rarely tried, except in situations like this. He had to depend on her...

"Recon. Insertion." She gave him a half smile. "I speak lots of languages, I don't stand out, I have good security skills and I'm a decent shot."

And that all sounded wonderful, except it raised even more questions why she was on the Spire in the first place. Why would the Jedi want him to have this? Why would Bastila's presence call for it? Had they foreseen this? Had the Force itself hinted to them that he would be crashed on Taris, in desperate need of the skills she had so blithely just ticked off? It was a possibility, he supposed. He tried to ignore shit like this, he didn't understand it, and it bothered him. He tended to see betrayal, maneuverings, not 'the Force', and even when he did, that was no guarantee that it was benign. He knew that better than most people did. The greatest destroyers were those loved by the Force... Revan had been a superlative example of a Jedi...and an even more superlative example of a Darth. That debacle had cost Carth his wife, his son, his homeworld,cost his government millions of lives and was still grinding on. And it would continue to...unless he didn't find Bastila. "Let's go, Sarah." He murmured, and she nodded, falling into step with him.


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