i’m almost done here.
belsavis is not a pretty planet.
i met my tail, my bodyguard. the sith told me that if i wanted to see him face to face, to just use the secure comm he gave me and the guard would show up when and where i wanted.
i’m still not allowed to tell saeren or rythe that i have a bodyguard. for security and safety.
and he wouldn’t tell me why i needed a guard, exactly. the thing with borus on voss is what triggered it; the sith is worried something will happen to me. i’m just hoping he forgets all about me and find someone else to creep on.
but the answers, half-answers, and not-answer i’ve received make me think this is a lot more… i don’t know. like there’s something deeper i’m not being told about for my own good.
i’m going to take some time off the hunt after this job, i think. just be there for tybel when he needs me. paint and draw until i can’t feel my fingers. have tea with rythe every morning. and curl in saeren’s arms every night.
i feel safer there than anywhere else.
i’m a worried about rythe.
he came and had tea with me yesterday. flew all the way to belsavis to meet with me. but… he looked…
he looked off.
more tired than usual. he was really confused about being out of one kind of tea.
i should have mentioned something to saeren. he said he was going to see him today, to get some medical help since i’m not around. he should just go to rythe first; i’m barely okay to put on bandages.
i hope he’s okay.
yesterday i was scared. and yesterday i was brave.
i talked to tybel. not about work. about saeren. i wanted some insight on miraluka, since i don’t really know much. and he’s so happy with harith, so i thought i’d ask him about love, too.
he’s so nice.
i wanted to get saeren a gift, but i wanted it to be something special, not just some thing you can buy at some cheap shop on the cantina or nar shaddaa.
tybel suggested finding some nice soft cloth for a covering for his eyes. i guess seeing a miraluka without the eye covering is an incredibly intimate thing, and an eye covering made by someone they care for is an important gift.
so i did.
i took an old shirt and made sure the edges were sewn down well and painted it. i didn’t really know what to paint, so i just did an abstract blue and green and grey swirly thing. i thought it was pretty. peaceful.
i was working on the alderaan mural for rythe when saeren comm’ed. he’d just made it back to the fleet from corellia and got dinner for both of us. i met him on his ship and we curled up with the food, but never ate. we got to talking. i gave him his new eye covering. the look on his face…
i thought he hated it. but he loved it. he said it was perfect, and was the perfect gift i could have given him.
i had an idea. i realized that he’s seen my aura, and what i project, but he wasn’t able to see me. but then i remembered how he was able to see my drawings by focusing the force, so i suggested it to him. so he could see the actual me. i sat on his lap and…
he said i was beautiful. he said he didn’t think someone’s physical form could match their aura so perfectly.
and he let me see his eyes. without the cloth. i kissed the sockets and stroked his cheek and i knew. right then, i knew.
later, curled up in each other’s arms, i found the courage. i know what happened five years ago. but i can’t let it control me any more. i can’t keep walled off forever.
and i don’t want to any more.
so i told him.
i love him.
i need to go back to belsavis today. i don’t want to. i want to stay here and paint and be safe and happy.
that little shit is dead.
he left rythe. he strung him along and left him.
i am going to fuck his shit up.
i didn’t start this fight, but i’m damn sure going to finish it.
WARNING! AUDIO ONLY: NO TEXT READOUT!
*The familiar low rumble of a ship’s engine is the first thing hear, followed by the metallic click of the recorder being set on a table. She takes a deep breath, then begins to speak.*
Two days ago, I went with Tybel to Ord Mantell to meet a mystery… someone. Turns out it was his brother - chosen family. The meeting started out well, but turned badly, though no blood was shed.
His brother is a seeker. This means he hunts down Miraluka who have “strayed” and try to rehabilitate them back into the light, and if they can’t…
*A nervous tapping of a finger echoes through the recording*
If they can’t, they kill them.
Harith has tightened security around Tybel even more. Tybel thinks he’s sent his brother down a false path, so there is time, but.
I will now have to be hyper-vigilant for not only snipers but force-wielders when I’m out with Tybel.
*Her voice cracks slightly*
And I have to take care of Saeren more, too.
I’d forgotten I could feel this way. I’d forgotten how sleeping wrapped in someone’s arms can make me feel so wanted; so safe.
I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn. I wish I hadn’t tried to fight it, to fight my feelings.
He was definitely worth that five year wait.
*She sighs, papers shuffling in the background*
Vii’bo never came back. I have a horrible feeling that he got played. I’ll kill that little bastard where he stands if he hurt Rythe. He was supposed to go on a picnic with us - Rythe, me, Saeren - but never showed. We sat in a field on Voss and talked and had wine and that soldier from the other day - Jerhal was his name - walked by and we talked with him and it was perfect.
Then Rythe got a bit too drunk and stumbled back to his ship, so Saeren and I took a walk and found this really pretty place to sit and talk and it was lovely and then The Sith found us.
But I’m not as scared of him as I was, I realized. And he wasn’t tracking me, it was just coincidence. So we actually were having a rather civil time, and then…
*Her voice quavers slightly and she takes a sharp breath*
We were having a rather civil time. I was relaxing. And then THAT Sith came by. Borus. And I saw him and I could feel all the blood drain from my face and he came by and sneered at The Sith and Saeren both and stepped way too close and demanded his date.
No, he asked me if I was ready for our date. Like it had been planned for weeks.
And I was so scared. I couldn’t move. All I wanted to do was run. The ledge we were sitting on wasn’t that big; I’m pretty sure I could have jumped down it and ran and been okay.
But Saeren stepped in front of me. Protective. And The Sith sneered from behind his mask in that way he does and told Borus to go away because he had work to speak with me about. And Borus went away, but not before threatening us all, including Rythe - who wasn’t even there!
The Sith told us after Borus left that there wasn’t work, he just said that to make him go away. And then took me aside and asked me what I knew about Borus. And then, out of earshot of Saeren, told me he was assigning a cipher agent to guard me. I’m not to tell anyone about that. Not Saeren. Not Rythe. No one.
He said I’ll never see him unless it’s necessary. And I can meet with him to see who he is, in case I start to get worried I’m being followed.
I don’t want a bodyguard. I can take care of myself.
*she sighs again, papers shuffling once more, and a scratch of graphite starts up.*
I went back to Saeren. He just stood there and held me until I stopped shaking. He’s so good to me. I don’t deserve it. Any of it. But he’s so good to me. We went back to my ship and he massaged my back until all the tension went away and…
*She pauses, the smile evident in her voice when she speaks again.*
Yeah. He’s… he was totally worth the wait.
He makes me feel loved.
AUDIO FEED ENDED! DELETE RECORDING? Y/N
so much has changed.
i was ready to just shut myself off completely. i was ready to put all my walls back up faster than ever. i was ready to push saeren away no matter what the datachip recording said.
no matter what it made me think.
no matter how much it made me remember his kiss, the touch of his hand on my cheek, his smile. no matter how much it made me realize i had made the wrong choice the other night.
but i had to. for everything we’ve been through, rythe is my best friend. more than that, he’s the closest thing to family i have. i couldn’t be with saeren if rythe hated him.
so twenty hours ago, i was ready to shut myself away.
this morning, i went to rythe and vii’bo’s. i was tired. i had spent all night drawing and painting and trying to put my walls back up. rythe greeted me with a cup of caf and a smile and the words he didn’t want to say and i didn’t think i’d hear.
“I think he’s good for you.”
the lunch with them is a blur. the three of us came back to my ship. i think i made soup - i’m missing a pot, so that would make sense. they left and i started painting again, just to calm my nerves. i would comm saeren, i said, when i calmed down.
i didn’t get the chance to calm down.
he came by to apologize for having me watch the feed. the stupid droid let him in; i didn’t even know it was him until i turned around and saw him standing there in the doorway.
and i knew what he had to do.
he started to apologize. i told him the feed was corrupted, but that i got the gist of the idea. and i asked him point blank.
“You love me?”
and he answered instantly.
“I’m falling in love with you.”
and i knew what i had to do. i had to. i had no other choice. rythe may have managed to push down most of my walls, but saeren made me want to leave them crumbled around my feet. he may be sith, but he’s like no man i’ve ever met before.
so i kissed him.
and kissed him.
and kissed him.
he shared sight with me again. his aura glowed so brightly, and it was so different than before, and that little vine was still there, reaching out toward me.
and this time i could see mine reaching back.
we didn’t do anything but kiss, and then curl up and sleep. he looked exhausted. i was exhausted.
and it was twenty hours ago that he asked me to help him with his injuries.
today… today should have been a good day.
well. no. it was a good day.
but in the end, nothing had changed.
saeren comm’ed me. he’s okay, sort of. got really banged up sparring with someone. he asked me to try and bandage him up, take care of him. i couldn’t get some of the bleeding to stop. rythe comm’ed me then; asking if i wanted to make brownies.
i asked him to take care of saeren. rythe’s the best medic i know. they’re both my friends. i want them to get along.
maybe that was a mistake. they snarled and snipped at each other like angry vine cats, until vii’bo got there. it didn’t really even stop then. rythe was an ass, saeren was an ass, even vii’bo was a tiny bit of an ass.
but we still made brownies. and we all sat and talked. and saeren shared sight with vii’bo.
i guess he and rythe love each other. a lot. more than either of them knew.
i’ve never seen rythe so happy.
saeren kept looking at me. vii’bo ended up going to bed. saeren made a joke about how much he loved me - of course, like an idiot, i didn’t take it as a joke at first. then rythe asked about his family and saeren locked up and ended up leaving, but told me to watch the second entry on the datachip.
so i did. i used rythe’s playback and we watched it.
the recording was bad - corrupted almost to the point of being impossible to watch - but it let me know one thing for certain: it wasn’t a joke.
saeren loves me.
he thinks he’s in love with me.
i couldn’t speak. i could barely breathe. all i could think about was the kiss in the hangar the other night, and how i didn’t want it to stop, and especially not at just a kiss.
and then i looked at rythe.
nothing had changed. nothing. there would be no support from my best friend. he would merely watch, and if the relationship crashed and burned, he would simply be there with an i told you so.
i left so he could go to bed. vii’bo had been gone for a good week; rythe needed a chance to be with him. especially after what vii’bo saw during the shared sight.
and i went back to my ship and my paintings.
because nothing had changed.
WARNING! AUDIO ONLY: NO TEXT READOUT!
*The quiet whisper of wind rustles leaves in the background, punctuated by birdsong for the first few moments of the feed. It is broken by a soft sigh.*
The Sith came back. I delivered his mural, along with the concept drawings I had bound up special and a small holoart tree as a thank you for the classes, to his ship. He said the mural exceeded his expectations.
And then he asked me about my “actions” while he was gone. But he already knew most of them. He didn’t chastise this time. Merely listened.
He’ll have more work for me later. Art and hunting both.
*A small sniff, then another sigh, wind still whispering in the background.*
Last night, Rythe called me and asked me to come over for tea. Rather late, but I didn’t mind. We sat and talked and ate brownies that were supposed to be for Harith. He told me about Viibo. He seems happy. Well, sort of. He seems stretched so thin that he might snap at any moment, but he smiled when he talked about Viibo.
We’re all having a late dinner on Saturday.
*The wind rustles leaves again, a soft whoosh against the audio input on the recording device.*
We ended up sitting outside the Thul mansion grounds on Alderaan, looking up at the sky and talking. He gave me the best present: an old book - an actual book, not a datapad - with the most beautiful illustrations of Voss flora. That’s why I’m here, actually. In the middle of a field on Voss. I wanted to see some of them for myself.
*There is a short silence, punctuated by the crackling of a dry leaf crumpling apart.*
I tried to show him the notepad with the drawings. The same one I showed Saeren. He refused to look. He said he didn’t need to see it; that my word on those events were enough.
I tried to talk to him about Saeren. I’m so confused. I’m stuck wondering if I’ve made the right choice, keeping him at arm’s length. Rythe wouldn’t hear it. He said that no matter how much I try to justify it, in the end, Saeren is a Sith, and they’re all the same, no matter how much I want the opposite to be true.
And in the end I know he’s right. When I showed Saeren the notepad, he was so angry he absolutely obliterated a shipping container that was sitting around the hangar, using the force to pick it up and slam it into the ground over and over until it was nothing but a heap of twisted durasteel. I don’t even know if anything was in it; if there was, it was so thoroughly destroyed it didn’t even make an appearance when the dust cleared.
Just like any other Sith when upset.
*The leaf crumples a bit more.*
I made the right choice. I don’t know why I’m second-guessing myself. A friend is all he can ever be.
Rythe wants me to paint a mural for his ship. There’s a huge dent in the wall next to his med bay. He said a landscape of Alderaan. I know the exact place; all green and silver and a waterfall and lake.
I’ll start on that today. If Tybel doesn’t need me.
*The wind blows again; a small beep, then nothing but silence.*
i calmed down enough to talk to saeren yesterday.
and i explained why i was so mad, it wasn’t that it was just the shirt, it was so much more, and that i did want him as a friend, but that it couldn’t be anything more, ever. i tried to explain that i couldn’t separate saeren the man from saeren the sith but he got an urgent comm and had to leave and i couldn’t… i couldn’t get it into words.
so i did what i’ve never done before.
after i prepped my ship for leaving tomorrow - well, today - i comm’ed him. asked if he could come back. i did have a drawing for him. he looked so tired and defeated when he walked into the hangar. when i gave him the drawing - i did it from memory from when we first met in the cantina - it almost looked like he wanted to cry.
and then… then i showed him.
there’s one small book no one sees. i always tell people that after the accident, i started drawing for physical therapy, and then just kept at it. however, i also use it to chronicle things i just… i just can’t put into words.
and it shows why, exactly why, i’m so terrified of sith. no one’s ever seen it before. not rythe, not the sith, no one.
it shows the end of the fight tourney, when the sith man lined us all up against the wall and ran every other body through with his saber, just because he lost money on the end results.
it shows me and likkai behind the bar, clinging to each other in fear even through the force lightning the horrible sith woman threw because she thought her lover was making eyes at one of us. likkai didn’t make it.
and it shows me lashed to that chair where i woke up, interrodroid circling my head, after i turned my back and walked away from the sith man who propositioned me while i was on a job on tatooine.
saeren gets it now. he gave me a hug and asked for a final kiss. i knew it wasn’t a ploy. i knew he understood. so even though i probably shouldn’t have, i said yes. and…
it could have been more. but i couldn’t do that to him. so i broke away.
it could have been more.
before he left, he gave me a small data chip. told me not to read it unless i don’t hear from him in a few days.
that doesn’t sound promising.
WARNING! AUDIO ONLY: NO TEXT READOUT!
*A hiss of static and a few crack-thumps of a hand smacking against metal, then a sigh. The background is no longer made up of distant voices; rather, it’s the low rumble of a ship’s engine.*
Is it back on?
Maker, I hate these voice holorecorders. I wouldn’t even use it if I could draw and punch into a datapad at the same time.
Where was I?
*A paper scrapes across a metal surface, and graphite starts to slowly scratch.*
Dinner. With Rythe.
I nearly didn’t go. I was so angry and upset and hurt. But he said he had information about the accident and my desire to know more about that will trump almost anything time and time again.
And that’s how I found myself in the Dromund Kaas cantina staring across the table at him.
And he apologized again, for the entire situation. He said he realized almost immediately what he had done but that he was trying to save a relationship and he wished he could have taken it back and… yeah. It was sincere enough, but still so… there was just…
I had to do it.
I slapped the taste out of his mouth.
*the graphite scratches pause, and there’s a little laugh.*
Maker, that felt good to do.
He looked a little surprised by it, too.
And that’s when I knew things were going to be okay.
*the scratch-scratching across the paper starts up again.*
For eight years I’ve thought I was the only survivor. I wasn’t. I’m not. The man I was supposed to marry survived, too. And Rythe actually tracked him down and talked to him and came back with three very important details.
One: He’s bloody gorgeous. Tall and muscled, with thick blonde hair and a smile to die for.
Two: Since six months after the accident, he’s been on Korriban or in Kaas City, training as a Sith.
Three: He’s an egomaniacal bastard who tries to get anything - or anyone - that moves into his bed.
So I guess I really dodged a blaster bolt there.
*she laughs sharply*
And of course he’s Sith.
Which brings me back to where I started. With the very large sith, Borus. From the Voss-ka cantina.
While I was at dinner with Rythe - he was telling me about the Zabrak from the night on Nar Shaddaa, apparently it was him who was trying to get in touch with me through the holochat - I received a slicethrough on my comm. It was Borus, telling me that he received my message.
And I know I’m not the smartest person in the galaxy by far, but the language he was using - the actual words - were rather threatening. Saying he had experience dealing with “lesser beings” who did “not wear such riches” or something. And when I tried to apologize again, he refused and said I was “no longer of interest to him.”
…and then he said, “Dead.”
*the graphite taps a few times, a nervous laugh echoing out from the recording.*
And then the call ended and I guess I looked rather sick because Rythe asked what was wrong. So I told him. And he took my comm and took the frequency number and fucking called Borus back right then and there tell him him I had a nervous disposition and was prone to panic attacks when… I can’t even remember what he had said, but it left me face down on the table, somewhere between crying and laughing.
He is so brave when it comes to facing Sith. I need to be more like him.
*she laughs, sort of*
And I thought that would be the end of it. But of course, it wasn’t. Rythe went to buy me a glass of wine and guess who was at the bar? Because my life isn’t already enough of a comedy of errors, standing at the bar was Borus.
And he recognized Rythe’s voice.
And then saw me.
And Rythe and he came back to the table. And Rythe whispered into my ear comm to be brave, to hold my chin up, and that he’d be right there beside me.
And he was.
And Borus accused me of lying. Of lying. I may not be the best person in the galaxy, but I damn well know when to tell the truth and when to spin a story. This was definitely not the time for the latter.
I can’t really remember what was said. I know I kept my head up the whole time. I know I didn’t shake.
And I know that it turned out Borus was actually paying me a compliment. It wasn’t that he had no interest in me and that I was dead, it was that he had no interest in me dead. As in, he would have wanted to see me again.
And then he left and I was back with my face on the table. I was so, so embarrassed.
*The graphite taps a few times more*
That was pretty much the end of the evening. Rythe chastised me for being afraid. And he’s right. He really is. I need to work on that. He and I are having lunch - he’s making a casserole, whatever that is - and I’ll ask him for help.
And when we - him, Viibo, and me - are all having dinner.
That’ll be lovely.
*The smile in her voice creeps back.*
I should comm Tybel and see when he needs me this week. If he doesn’t, maybe I’ll go back to Zeltros and try my hand at holoart again. The mural for The Sith is finished, and I’m actually really proud of it. I think I did a good job.
If he ever shows back up, I hope he likes it, too.
I think things are looking up.
WARNING! AUDIO ONLY: NO TEXT READOUT!
*The low rumble of a distant crowd murmurs in the background of the feed; the familiar sound of graphite across paper much closer. Her voice is strong and clear, if a bit tired.*
The last thirty-six hours have been… interesting. To say the least.
I saw Saeren.
I saw Rythe.
*A few small scratching sounds.*
And… I managed to anger a Sith who was paying me a compliment. Twice.
*The paper shuffles, tearing away, and another paper stacks itself into place. The scratching graphite begins again.*
I’ll start with the Sith. I was in Voss’ka a few days ago; having a glass of wine in the cantina. I’d been hunting and was tired. A very large, very imposing Sith came up and began talking to me, and he said he could sense my fear.
He said I was lovely but I didn’t realize it at the time, I was too busy trying to breathe. In my panic I actually turned away and began helping another man look for a lost credit chip… and he ended up being a Republic soldier. By the time I realized my error and offered to buy the Sith - his name was Borus - a drink, the damage had been done. I finished my whiskey that the soldier - Jerhal, I think? - bought me and hightailed it out of there.
The next morning, I tracked down Borus’ frequency and sent him an apology, along with an invitation for drinks. And that, I thought, was the end of that.
*A heavy scratch of graphite, a muttered curse, and another tear of paper, quickly followed by the shuffle of a fresh sheet once again sliding into place.*
That afternoon, I was in the cantina on the fleet, grabbing a bite before my meeting with Rythe. The food there is even worse now that I’ve had a taste of Tybel’s cooking. And I was minding my own business when I heard… well. Not something I had ever thought I would hear.
Saeren walked by. Falling-down drunk.
He had my shirt in his waistband. He’d sewn it back together. He was full of apologies and words of how it was cultural differences and how he’d started to think of me as a Miraluka and… I don’t even know. Then he started rambling about his brother being dead and him facing execution and I don’t know if it was drunkenness or if he was serious but I stopped him. I couldn’t deal with it. I told him to go away and that I would get him on the comm later.
Probably a bit harsh, but with him, I’m honestly to the point where I don’t care.
*A deep sigh, and a few light sounds of graphite scratching.*
That’s a lie. I do care. Just not in the way he wants me to. And that’s the problem.
The biggest bit, the one that’s been weighing heavily on my mind, happened a few hours after that. I had dinner wi—
*The feed is interrupted by beeping*
Battery dead? What the fuck, I just replaced it!
*shuffling, a few thumps, and then silence.*
I’m sure you understand my hesitancy in answering your comm message. Unfortunately, my desire to know anything about what happened to me in that accident tends to override most other points of reason.
Yes. I will meet you to hear what information you have.
Do not expect it to be anything else.
You told me to leave, once. I cleaned up my act and came back. You told me you wanted to be my friend. That all you wanted from me was for me to stand at your side as your friend.
Not four days later, you threw me away like a piece of womp rat shit stuck to the bottom of your boot. Of all the people in the galaxy, you know exactly what that would mean to me.
The fact that you regret your choice now is… I’m not sure how to put words to it.
Either way. Yes, I will meet with you to discuss your findings. Let me know time and location; I will let you know if I will be able to make it.