My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 32

Sarah was in a rare, fine mood. She hadn't really grasped just how oppressive their situation on Taris had been until it was lifted away from her shoulders, when she could breathe air, see a wash of lavender tinged grass flow and sing in a breeze. It was comfortable to walk the handful of shops and kiosks with Carth, to be out in the open, to be who they were. No Sith on the corners, no ticking clock counting off the moments until they died...just a beautiful day. Under a beautiful sky. With Carth, while Mission ranged in front of them, exclaiming in wonder over every little thing.

"This is nice." Carth murmured, reaching out to touch a shirt hanging on a display. "You wanted shirts?"

"Ah..." Well, yes. The one that had attracted his attention was not one she would have picked on her own, for some reason. He was right, it was nice. Lovely, in fact. Maybe that was its problem, Sarah was not used to choosing nice and lovely.

He seemed to take the 'ah' as an agreement, picking it up from the display. And the one underneath it. And the one underneath that, each the same style, in differing colors. "Would they fit?"

"Her?" The twi'lek woman manning the kiosk asked, motioning at Sarah? "Yes, no doubt. I'll give you a good bargain if you take all three..."

Sarah wrinkled her nose. She didn't need one very lovely shirt, much less three. At least they weren't girly... he seemed to have impeccable taste. Or his wife had, and she'd rubbed it off on him. "We'll take 'em." He stated, leaving Sarah just staring at him. "Hush." He chuckled when her outrage finally percolated through his obliviousness. "Let me buy you something nice. Okay?"

Oh, no. He was going to use that tone, combined with that expression. She was doomed, beaten. "Fine. Fine." She chuckled, taking the bag when the woman was done packing the shirts. "Thank you."

"Not done yet."

She gave him a sideways stare. "Two can play this game, Carth. You look a little disreputable, yourself."

It was far more enjoyable than it should have been, shopping with him. It felt so damned normal. Everyday. They came back into the Enclave courtyard, headed for the Ebon Hawk, when one of the Jedi stepped up, too close to Sarah, her brows lowered in something...disapproval? Threat? Sarah wasn't certain, and felt her hand drop to the vibroblade riding her hip.

"What do you think you're doing?" She demanded, and Sarah ran through her options in her mind. Shopping? Waiting for Bastila to be done with the Council? None of your damned business? All worked admirably, but only the last one truly encompassed Sarah's response, so she went for it.

"That's your business, how?" She demanded, stepping slightly away from Carth, opening up an apron of space around her.

"Where are your robes? Why are you dressed like...that..." The woman waved at Sarah's riding gear, her lip curled in distaste. "Where is your master, padawan?"

Padawan? Somehow that was just too immensely amusing for words, and Sarah barked out laughter. "Lady, I thought you Jedi were supposed to be insightful, or something. I'm not a Jedi. And I'm way, way, way too damned old to be a padawan, even if I was a Jedi. Which I'm not."

"You're not..." Her gaze travelled over Sarah's features, then drifted up to the silent Carth's stony expression. He was pulling that one off extremely well for a man who'd been all smiles just minutes before... "I apologize. I thought...well, you know what I thought. But..."

"You were wrong." Bastila's smooth, regal voice came from behind the woman. "Sarah is part of the Endar Spire team, along with Captain Onasi. Neither one of them is your concern. Have a good time?" The last was directed at Sarah and Carth, and Bastila waved at the bags they carried.

"Yes, we did." Carth answered, a slight emphasis on the last word. "Did it go well with the Council?"

"About as I'd expected. But it's getting late, my instructions are to show you to rooms here in the Enclave." A ghost of a smile danced on her lips. "The guest rooms have roomy enough beds for the pair of you to be...close, again. And then, dinner with the Council."

Rooms? Roomy beds? That sounded promising, especially if Carth kept up the sunny disposition he'd had for most of the day. A decent roll in the sheets with him was definitely something she'd like to look forward to, an encounter without the stench of desperation clinging to it.

The room Bastila showed them to was indeed nice, pleasantly austere and spartan, and, as promised, the bed was roomy enough for the two of them. "I'll let the two of you have some privacy, get cleaned up. You have about an hour."

She closed the door behind her, and Sarah collapsed on the bed with an overly dramatic sigh, covering her eyes with her forearm. "I don't like it here." She finally admitted it, out loud, to him and to herself. Why? Dantooine seemed a benign enough world. A bit of a backwater, but pleasant enough, and it should have been a welcome respite from Taris.

He laid down next to her, on his side facing her, burying his face in the curve of her neck. There was a slight distance there, he was physically close, but his thoughts were far away. Was she whining? Was he simply tired? Was he still thinking of his wife, even though he had treated Sarah to a shopping spree and bought her lovely clothing?

"What are you thinking about?"

"You." His answer was quick and easy. "I wish...I wish you were okay." She could feel his eyelashes against her neck, he'd opened his eyes and he was staring at her. "I wish I could do something. You mean a lot to me."

She turned her head to study him. He was, as she already knew... more than handsome enough, not showy, striking good looks, but he had a solid, sturdy appeal. But more than that, he just radiated...decency. He was as good on the inside as he was on the outside. "You worry too much." She chuckled, resting her hand on his cheek. "I'll do as well as I can, with what I'm given. Anyway, the rough part is behind us." Even as she said it, it fell false, and he gave her a dubious look. "Or not. I don't see why the Council wants to see us."

"I don't trust them. Be careful with them." His mood flickered into shadow, like the dark part of moonlit ripples on water and he draped his arm over her belly protectively. "They're up to something."

Well, that definitely felt correct, and she turned sideways to face him, her nose just centimeters away from his. "They put my ship, her crew, me, you... under the control of a Jedi padawan and sent us out to aimlessly wander until we attracted the attention of Malak's fleet. That doesn't exactly engender trust in them. And, of course, they won't tell me why." He sighed. "I don't like being used as a pawn, as bait. I don't like being kept in the dark when it comes to my mission objectives." He frowned. "It stank, Sarah, but they're Jedi and they get away with it."

What an interesting, interesting viewpoint. What a fascinating dark corner he'd just shown to her. And apparently, airing his dark corners came with a bonus... he'd been willing to let her do the initiating, be the one to push the intimacy forward. He'd always felt just a little ambivalent, uncertain... but he suddenly buried his face in her chest, his hands moving down her ass, squeezing just on the edge of pain. He had her sudden and complete interest in that moment, his hands running up her ribcage, his thumbs on her nipples. "Take this off." He ordered, plucking at the thin, stretchy material she wore. "It's been driving me crazy all damn day."

A moment of doubt was born...she felt almost like she was being manipulated, distracted, played. It died a heartbeat later, yes...this was a distraction. He wanted to distract himself from the doubts piled up in that corner, in a most visceral and perfect of ways. And he wanted to give in, to push away that ambivalence he felt with her...he was manipulating himself to go exactly where she wanted him to be anyway. It was a game that Sarah was happy to play with him. She peeled the flying gear from her skin, feeling the weight of his eyes on her as she did so. Yes, look. Just as she would look when he stood...just like he was, shrugging out of that jacket and dropping it the floor. His shirt followed, then his pants...he was hard already, jutting proudly under her gaze. "No." He half turned away when she reached for him, evading her, and she tilted her head curiously. So he was really going to be here for add what he wanted instead of letting her have her way with him. He gently rolled her over, onto her belly, and she chuckled agreeably.

"So, you're an ass man." She marveled as he ran his fingers over her bare skin, following with his mouth, his tongue. That definitely seemed to be the area of his focus...

"Guilty." He murmured, sliding his forearm under her hips and pulling her back slightly, her weight over her knees, her chest still flush with the bed. "Yeah. Right there. Just like that..." He placed his palms on the cheeks of her ass, pushing up and away, exposing her completely to his eyes.

Sarah took a long, hard breath, resting her forehead against the mattress and bracing with her elbows. Well, when he decided to play, he really decided to throw in and play.

His tongue was warm, sliding from her clit up and delving deeply within her. He then caught her lips with his thumbs, squeezing her clit with them, cushioned gently by the folds of her own flesh, and then slid his tongue down the tunnel he'd created.

Her response was a shudder and a deep, guttural growl. Oh, yes. She could certainly live with this, especially when he curled the end of his tongue in that oh, so perfect way. And he was learning quickly, reading her responses, using the fact that he hadn't shaved recently...pulling his chin over her when he licked upwards. The growl became a sob, it was almost too much...almost, and when he gave in and sucked her insistently, all tongue, teeth, and was her undoing. Her first orgasm was heart stopping, room spinning, vision graying...and he wasn't going to let her stop to get her breath back. He slid his thighs under hers, and planted an open hand between her shoulder blades, pushing her down as he penetrated her completely. Her second was three strokes later, as he pushed the envelope of how deeply, how hard, he could take this. And there was where she stayed, hanging at that point, until he entered his final few thrusts to his own finish, and took her along with him. He collapsed on top of her, spent, and she managed to wiggle out from beneath him, clinging close to his comforting warmth and solid presence. She could feel his heart thundering in his chest, his breaths gasping.

"By the way." He finally managed to speak. "You have a magnificent ass." He gathered her up against his chest, stroking her hair. "Just so you know."

"Yours isn't too shabby, either." She took a deep breath. It would be fantastic to just drift off to sleep like this...

"You are not going to sleep." He stated firmly, as if she'd spoken it aloud. "We are going to stay here for a bit, then we're getting up, taking a shower, and getting into our snazzy new clothes."


"Bastila will come get us." He warned.

"Worth it to watch her jaw hit the floor."

"Nuh uh." He disagreed, stroking that perfect place between her shoulder blades. "You're a bigger person than that."

Am I? Am I really?

She remained silent, but did reluctantly get to her feet when he elbowed her to get up. He made up for it by scrubbing her back, covering her with suds and rinsing them all away. She returned the favor, running her soapy fingers over his broad back, rubbing, scrubbing and scratching.

She left the 'fresher, towel wrapped around herself, and opened the bags she'd carried back with her, considering her options.

"The greeny one." He suggested, firmly, following her out. "It's my favorite."

Greeny was a fairly precise description of the first shirt that had attracted his attention. It was, in fact, a rather deep mint green, with a grayish tinge, edged in gray and white. She shrugged, sliding into it, and tying it closed. It fit like it had been made for her, wide sleeves, stand up collar, surplice front that tied under her breast, and again at her hip. "I guess looking like a Jedi is the fashion in these parts." She chuckled, and he shook his head at the idea.

"I love the shirt." He stated firmly, tossing her new gray pants at her. "Love you in the shirt. Let's go have dinner."

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