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Parting ways with the Dead 4

As I readied for bed I could hear Thrawn move about the apartment. It felt strange to know he was there, so close yet feel so unreachable. That had been my doing. He had come waving a peace flag, sort of, and I had all but torn it to shreds because I wanted to stay angry at him. Navaari had been right about that. It was easier than admitting how much I had missed him and how scared I was to lose him. I would have thought that such a long and difficult time apart from each other would have lessened our feelings for one another but it seemed that was not the case. If anything time and distance had strengthened them, sharpening the passion as well as everything else that went into making up our seriously messed up relationship what it was. I was pretty certain that fate or destiny was laughing his or her ass off at us.

I lay in bed and essentially stared at the ceiling, despite being utterly overtired I could not fall asleep. I tossed and turned; going over in my mind everything that Thrawn had said to me and, worse, everything that I had said to him. It wasn’t the words that knotted in my stomach though; it was how much I ached for him physically. This, above all else, made me furious at myself. I had not wanted to feel this way, I had wanted to stay angry at him but anger is hard to maintain after many, many months and mostly I had just missed him. Why I couldn’t just tell him this and be done with it though was another mystery all together. These were my last thoughts as eventually drifted into and uneasy sleep and for the first time in months sleeping well was something I did not do, instead I was plunged headlong into one of the kinds of dreams I dreaded having. Ever since I had been released from the period of mourning these nightmares had all but vanished and I had hoped they would never return but I was wrong, as usual.

I knew it was a dream but still I could not move nor turn away as I watched from a dark shadowy corner while the Emperor taunted Luke Skywalker. We were on the second Battle Station, the Death Star II. I could see the fleet from the enormous view screen and the flashes of light as ships destroyed each other. I didn’t understand how it was I could be here because I knew the battle station had been destroyed two years prior, I had watched it explode, but dreams had realities all of their own.

As the dream unfolded I watched as Lord Vader and Luke duelled with each other... They were so perfectly and evenly matched that it was as though I were watching mirror images fight. I thought for certain that Lord Vader would strike down his son but he pulled a blow at the last moment and it was Luke who slaughtered his father. I tried to scream from where I stood but someone standing behind me had clamped their hand across my mouth and whispered in my ear.

“Hush little one, it would not be wise to let him hear you.”

I twisted my head to look up at the person who held me. Qui-Gon Jinn.

“Just watch.” He said gently, removing his hand from my mouth.

Luke retrieved his father’s lightsaber and turned to face the Emperor who was standing and applauding. “Well done my young apprentice.” he said. “Now kneel before me and I shall accept your pledge of allegiance.”

But Luke had other ideas and before the emperor could move he had ignited the lightsaber he had taken from Lord Vader and force flung it at the Emperor. The Emperor easily blocked it but he had not seen this was a move of deceit and while he was watching the first blade he did not see the second blade ignite and pierce through his body.

“I am Emperor now.” Luke said as he stood over Palpatine watching him die.

I had not expected this turn of events but there was nothing I could do. Qui-Gon held on to me. And it was all I could do not to scream as Luke face distorted and changed. Screaming with a rage that seemed impossible, the man who had worn Luke Skywalker’s face twisted and began to shrivel as though it were being pulled in and out of shape by forces I could not see.

I was horrified by what I was watching and Qui-Gon sighed. “Using the dark side of the force corrupts the body. Palpatine knew this and was prepared for it. He had clones of himself ready and waiting, but this is unexpected.”

“Is this real?”

“Perhaps.” He replied, “The future is a fluid thing, always in flux and never certain.”

When the morphing had stopped I saw that the Emperor was a wholly different man. Reborn and new. What was worse was that somehow this new Emperor, young and powerful knew he was not alone in this dark room and turned to look at the spot where I stood with Qui-Gon.

“There will be no hiding from me, child.” He said. “I have cheated death before I will do so again.” He reached out his arm towards us but before I could scream in terror the scene shifted and I suddenly found myself on the command deck of a Star Destroyer and I was alone. It was very dark; the only light came from the few system lights that were still on so it took me a few moments to get my bearings. I glanced around afraid to move because I didn’t want to fall into one of the crew pits. The main viewing windows up front were completely covered and the bridge was utterly empty, but I knew this was a super star destroyer. The ship looked to be devoid of any living creature but all around me I heard the screams and cries of what sounded like people being tortured. It was a sound I had heard once before and it was not a good sound.

“I see you have finally returned back to the fold.” A soft female voice said behind me. The floor lights on the bridge-way suddenly blinked on, making the world seem far too bright.

My heart suddenly pounded in my chest, I knew this voice it belonged to Ysanne Isard and it terrified me but I drew a deep breath and hoped my own voice didn’t shake too much. “Madam Director,” I said, “I thought you would be on Coruscant.”

Her smile was slow and nasty. “Who is to say I am not?” She replied. “So have you come to work for me now? I heard many good things about you from Darth Vader and even the Emperor spoke kindly about your talents.”

“Work for you? I was simply Lord Vader’s office girl. What use could I be to you?”

“I heard that you have certain talents for finding out the truth.” She said. I stared at her eyes, one blue and one red. Both were cold and devoid of anything that resembled humanity. It surprised me that she kept her long hair down, not tied up as was regulation. I supposed that when one was the leader of the Empire one could do what ever one liked. She had beautiful hair, long and black with snow white streaks at each temple. It rippled like a curtain as she walked.

I made a face at her comment and she laughed.

“Come with me I wish to show you something.” She said and she turned around abruptly so that I had no choice but to follow her, the two storm troopers that suddenly appeared behind me were added incentive. She walked abruptly, full of confidence and pride. She led me downwards through corridors and turbo lifts until we came to a small room with a window in the door. It did not escape my notice that the transparasteel was very thick.

“Please look inside and tell me what you think.”

I did as she asked and was sorry I had. By the time I had finished throwing up it was only echoes of her laughter that remained. In the room were four aliens, I wasn’t certain what species they had been, it was very hard to tell but I thought two of them were gamorreans, or at least what was left of them. The beings in the room were covered with open sores and pustules. The walls were covered in dark splatters I thought might be blood but I wasn’t sure. The flesh seemed to have melted from their bodies but all of these things were not what had induced my sudden vomiting, it was the fact that they were still alive, flailing and screaming and writhing in pain.

“How do you like my method of finding out the truth?” Isard whispered in my ear.

I could only look at her in horror, wiping the remnants of vomit from my mouth with the back of my sleeve. “Truth?”

She smiled. “The rebellion will see they cannot win. This is my truth.” She said. “Perhaps you would like to converse with these aliens and find out how they feel about their rebellion now?”
I shook my head and began to back up. “What is wrong with them?”

“They are dying.” She said with a slight shrug. “They will all die, every one of the aliens who clutter up this empire will be eradicated and the Empire will be cleansed.”

“Aliens do not clutter this empire.” I said without thinking.

“Ah yes, your lover.” She hissed between her teeth. “He will also be dealt with appropriately.” She smiled at me. “When the time is right.” She gestured to the door with the small window.

I didn’t want to know anymore and I backed up even more until I realised that suddenly we were back on the command deck but it was too late, I lost my footing and fell backwards into one of the crew pits. I yelped expecting to feel pain when I hit the bottom but instead my body twisted in a way that disoriented me, as though gravity also twisted and I found myself on another ship.

This was a ship I did not know. I didn’t recognize the style of the bridge, similar but not the same as the ISDs I was used to, I also did not recognize any of the crew at all but they were all staring at a single point when I followed their gaze I knew a terror worse then than I had just a few moments before. There, right in front of me, was Thrawn slumped back in the command chair, dressed in his white uniform of Grand Admiral clutching his chest with his hands. The look on his face was one of utter surprise as blood pumped between his fingers and coursed down the front of the jacket. No one around him moved so without thinking I rushed forward to do something. I pressed my hands flat against his chest but the blood kept flowing freely. It ran between my fingers, over the backs of my hands making them warm and sticky. I looked up at Thrawn who looked back at me. I did not have to be a mind reader to see the hurt in his expression. I knew how betrayal felt and I knew the expression that came along with it.

“Why A’myshk’a?” Thrawn whispered.

I wanted to tell him I didn’t know but I couldn’t find the words. The flow of blood between my fingers slowed and the pallor of his skin told me he was dying. I yelled for someone to help me, to help him but no one moved. They all stood staring.

“Don’t you dare leave me! I can't do this without you! I need you!” I cried, pressing at the wound in his chest even harder but I knew I was losing; I could feel his heartbeat slow and then stop. I began to shout at everyone around me but what came out of my mouth was incoherent then arms, powerful and unfriendly, pulled me away from Thrawn’s body which slumped forward with out my support.

I struggled to get free of who ever was holding me but it was impossible.

“Lady Merlyn, he is dead.” A familiar voice hissed in my ear. I twisted around to look into Rukh’s face.

“No!” I screamed. “No, let me go! You have to help him!”

“The betrayal is complete!” Rukh said twisting me around to look me in the eyes. His hands grasped my wrists and hauled my hands up to where I and everyone else could see them.

“His blood on your hands!” he said.

“The Admiral is dead!” Another voice chimed in, then another and another. Suddenly the mob of officers who had stood by and done nothing converged on me like a pack of scyks.

I began to struggle against Rukh, screaming that I was not the one who had killed the Admiral, not the one who had stabbed him, that I had tried to save him but no one listened to me instead the bridge crew which now surrounded me began morphing into more noghri. The words they spoke became babble and I could not get free from Rukh’s grasp. I saw that they were going to kill me for the murder of Thrawn. I looked from one face to the next and then back to my blood drenched hands. I turned to look back at Thrawn not believing he was dead only to see his body start to break down and rot the way I had seen the aliens dying in the room Isard had shown me. Pustules formed on his skin and began to ooze dark liquid that covered his white uniform, mixing with the blood from the wound on his chest. I began to scream then and I couldn’t stop.

“Wake up A’myshk’a, wake up, it is just a dream it isn’t real.” A voice kept saying to me over and over again.

Fingers bit into my flesh as Thrawn, seated on the edge of the bed gripping me by the shoulders, tried to wake me, tried to stop me screaming bringing me out of the nightmare and back into reality. Slowly his words sank in and the grisly scene I had witness receded. When I finally came back to my senses and realised he wasn’t dead and that my hands were not covered in his blood I threw my arms around him and held on to him so tightly it hurt.

I kept whispering “Not dead, you are not dead.” over and over. He simply held me against his chest, rocking me back and forth, not saying a word until a light flooded in from outside the room and I heard Navaari’s deep bass voice ask if everything was okay. I must have been making a hell of a racket to wake him. Navaari slept like the dead.

“There is brandy on the table in the sitting room. I think it might be appropriate.” Thrawn said to him by way of answer. He pushed back from my grip and lifted my face up with a finger tucked under my chin. I was shaking. The images of the dream still merged with the reality and I could still smell the awful tang of fresh blood and rotting flesh in the air.

“Merlyn look at me, I am very much alive.” He said as he brushed sweat soaked hair from my face. “You were having a terrible dream, that’s all, just a dream.”

“It was so real.” I stared at my hands again to make certain there was no blood on them, turning them palm in then out over and over again. They still felt as though they were sticky and blood covered even though I saw only my skin, clean and pale and my fingers which were shaking. The lingering scent of blood made me nauseous. I placed the flat of my hand on Thrawn’s chest just to feel his heart beat; just to be sure. I stared at the spot where I had seen blood, but here was no wound, just skin undamaged and warm. I heard Navaari come in and watched as Thrawn accepted the offered glass of brandy which he then gave to me. I took a grateful gulp. The fiery liquid burned enough that I knew I wasn’t dreaming any more. How many times had we done this? I had lost count. But Thrawn’s soothing presence after the grip of some terrible nightmare was something I knew, a pattern we had repeated often. He did not suffer from bad dreams but he understood how to react when I did.

“Better?” Thrawn asked, turning on the small bedside lamp.

I nodded clutching the glass with both hands because I was still shaking so much I was worried about spilling my drink.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Navaari asked.

I looked up at him framed in the doorway, back lit by the living room light and shook my head. I couldn’t shut the images lingering from my dream out of my head but I didn’t want to speak of them out loud to Navaari. I had not had such a terrifying nightmare in a very long time. I had thought they were a thing of my past. Neither man spoke as I finished the brandy off in one gulp. The empty glass was removed from my trembling hand and placed on the night stand.

Navaari waited a few seconds then asked if there was anything else. I felt Thrawn shake his head but I didn’t look up. I was afraid of my dream because my dreams had a nasty habit of turning into some sort of reality. In the time it had taken me to wake up and comprehend that it really had been nothing more than a terrible nightmare had also come the awful realization that I did not want to lose this man who sat next to me. That the frustration and anger we seemed to generate between us was a small price to pay for having him in my life, whole and alive.

“It was just a night terror, you are safe at home, little one.” Navaari told me. “I am going back to bed, you know where everything is should you be needing it.” His last statement was directed at Thrawn not me. I heard the door to my bedroom close but didn’t look up.

I pulled my knees to my chest, wrapping my arms around them, making myself small. I rested my forehead on my knees and tried to remember to breathe, just breathe. I felt Thrawn’s fingers run through my hair and the action brought tears to my eyes. How was it that things between us had gotten so out of hand. I could not remember any more why I had been so angry at him. Shame and sorrow engulfed me.

“What did you see?” Thrawn asked breaking the silence that settled in the room after Navaari had left. “Tell me.”

I shook my head. I hadn’t wanted to tell Navaari about my dream and I especially did not want to tell Thrawn that I had seen him die in such a horrible way.

“If I say please? You know, speaking about it will not make it real.” He said gently.

I shook my head again.

Thrawn sighed and tucked two fingertips under my chin lifting my face up to meet his. “Merlyn,” he said firmly, “No more secrets, no more shoving these fears, these feelings down as far as they can go into your soul. You are not helping anyone especially yourself. This reticence to tell me what troubles you is what has us in the situation we now find ourselves in.” He chided. “So tell me what has you screaming as though you are being murdered in a most brutal manner and clinging to me as though I were….”

“I saw you die.” I said flatly, interrupting him.

“It was a dream, tekari.” He repeated. “Tell me exactly what you saw, no more hiding, out with it.”

The words came tumbling out one after the other. He said nothing until I was done and the silence in the room afterwards was even more oppressive that I could have imagined. He reached over and caressed the side of my face, I trembled and blinked the sudden tears out of my eyes.

“It was awful.”

“Yes,” He said gently. “And probably my fault.”

“How do you figure that?” I asked with a frown.

“You saw no killer, you did not see yourself kill instead you tried to save me which was why you had blood on your hands. These things are just symbols your mind uses to sort out past events not portents of things yet to come. Kirja’navaar’inkjerii told me that you have been well these last few months, no nightmares to speak of so I can only assume that it was my coming which triggered this one.” He said. “You experienced a terrible, terrible trauma, everything you knew is gone, taken away from you in a brutal manner. That is not something that simply vanishes from one's memory no matter how hard you try to make it so. This dream was your subconcious trying to cope with the trauma you try to hide away. I know how difficult Vader’s death was for you…”

I put my fingers on his lips, interrupting him and looked at him so that he would get the full meaning of my next words. “Not as difficult as yours would be.”

His expression softened. “I am not going to die any time soon. It was just a dream and nothing more.” He spoke quietly and with absolute conviction. “You and I have many unresolved issues which we have still to deal with and your tendency to shove everything as deeply down inside of you as it will go only serves to make your nightmares more intense, more vivid, but I will be vigilant never the less. Besides, how could anyone get past Rukh?”

That made me smile a little. His noghri bodyguard was a force to be reckoned with even in my dreams. I scrubbed my face with my hands, weariness slowly creeping into my body.

“You should try to go back to sleep. We have a lot of things we need to discuss in the morning.” Thrawn started to get up but I grasped his hand making him raise an eyebrow at me in surprise.

I said. “Every time I close my eyes I see…”

“It was a dream.” He insisted, cutting me off, easing his hand from mine.

“It didn’t feel like just a dream, Za’ar, it felt like a vision of the future, it felt real.”

He sighed, getting up off the bed to pace the room. “You told me yourself once that it isn’t the dreams that matter, it is the interpretation.”

I nodded.

“Do you not think that this could be your mind’s way of forcing you to look at what you really fear?” He asked as he leaned against the door frame.

I got up out of the bed and went over to where he stood, to face him. “If that is the case, then what I really fear more than anything else is losing you.” I said plainly.

He reached out and caressed the side of my face. “And now do you understand?”


“How I felt when I found you on your disabled shuttle.”

I swallowed and looked away from him, nodding. “Yes.” I said. “I am so sorry.” I understood that and now I also understood that the mess I had made of things was big. I wasn’t sure it could be fixed, I wasn’t sure I knew how to but Thrawn did. When he cupped my face with both hands I clasped his wrists and looked up at him. When our eyes met I felt as though the bottom had dropped out of my belly. After all this time, after everything that had happened he could still stir me up from the inside out with a single look.

“Being with you is like drowning in fire, being without you is like starving to death,” He said quietly, " and I cannot decide which death is worse."

I didn’t know how to respond to that either. Thankfully I didn’t have to. Before I could even say anything he pulled me forward and kissed me in a way that reminded me I was very, very much alive. His hands slid from my face to my shoulders, over my shoulders, down my back, around my ribs to rest at my hips. He was right it was like drowning in fire but I didn’t care. After what seemed both an eternity and a split second he pushed back from me.

“You’ve put on some weight since I last saw you.” He said after a moment.

“Are you saying I’m fat?” I asked automatically. Navaari often teased me about my appetite.

The right side of his lip twitched in a smile. “I did not say that, nor did I imply that.” He said. “But the last time I held you in my arms you were nothing but skin and bones. You looked like the walking dead. Now you feel more like a woman and less like a skeleton. You are soft and have curves where you aught to have curves, whereas before... you were boney and stick like.” He ran his hands back up and down my body to confirm what he had just told me. “I don’t feel each and every one of your ribs poking out of you now.” His hands rested once again on the swell of my hips. Their warmth through the thin fabric of my nightshirt almost seemed to burn my skin. He tugged me closer to his body and suddenly my heart forgot how to work. I reached up and caressed his cheek, then I drew his face to meet mine and kissed him gently. When we separated again the look he gave me was unfathomable.

“Is something wrong?” I asked, uncertain.

“No, not any longer.” he replied but something in his expression made me look carefully at him. I could see he wanted to say more but didn’t know how to begin. His hesitation made him vulnerable which was new to me. Two years was a long time and so much had happened, so much had changed between us that suddenly it was clear to me, he had been worried about his place in my life. I had not known him to be so uncertain but I understood that where I was concerned it was probably a normal state of afairs. For too long things that should have been said were not, words were held back because of fear and stubbornness and it wasn't what we said to each other that hurt but rather what we didn't say. I stroked his face with the tips of my fingers, as if I could memorize the contours of it just by touch. He made my heart ache.

“I thought you were dead.” He said quietly after a long pause. “I did not know how to deal with that very well. I did not deal with any of what happened very well. You are not the only one who has apologies to make.”

“That sounds like you missed me a little?”

He gave me a look which sent a flash of heat that seared me from my gut to my groin. The twitch of his lips became a slow, hungry smile and suddenly my decent sized bedroom felt very small. “Perhaps, a little.” He said, one hand cupping my face his thumb caressing my cheek. The moment between us stretched and slowed down until he held my chin with his thumb and forefinger so that he could kiss me again. This time there was nothing gentle about his kiss. His lips and his tongue explored my mouth as though he were eating the rich sweet ice treat the Dantassi made from cream and sugar. I shivered violently.

“Are you cold?” he asked with a slight smile.

I shook my head, rendered speechless. After all this time he could still do that to me.

“Perhaps I should go and let you get some sleep.” He murmured in my ear with a smile that reminded of me of how the sled hounds looked at me at meal time.

I shook my head. “No I don’t think I can sleep and if I can’t sleep neither can you.” I said and because he had begun to unbutton the night shirt I was wearing, I slipped my fingers under the waist band of the soft silk pants he had worn to bed and slipped them over his hips and buttocks so they fell to the ground. I grinned a little at his naked body, aroused and beautiful. He smiled as he slid the shirt off my shoulders. He smelled of sex, of need and want.

“Well then…” he said. His voice suddenly husky, his eyes had taken on that weird look of liquid fire. It had been a very, very long time since we had done this and the teasing had taken its toll. There was no more room for words or foreplay. He scooped me up in his arms and brought me to the bed. He put me down gently then lay over me, covering me. He didn’t waste time and his mouth crashed down on mine while his body melded to me, his skin hot on mine sending goose bumps rippling up and down my spine. His knee nudged my legs apart and I opened to him willingly. The sensation of him and every move he made was almost too much to bear so when our desire blossomed into insanity there wasn’t much to really think about. I wanted him every bit as much as he wanted me and I no longer cared about nightmares, being angry or anything else. I just needed him and I let him know it. Our dance climaxed in a crescendo I hoped would not bring Navaari running back to the bedroom thinking that both of us were being murdered. It was over too fast and I lay in Thrawn’s arms sweat soaked and breathless wondering how we could have forgotten how good it felt to be together this way and how awful it felt when we fought. He rolled over onto his back and pulled me to snuggle into his body.

“I think we just set a speed record...What was that anyway?” I asked when I caught my breath. My fingers traced up and down his chest then followed the line of dark hair that went from his navel to his groin.

“That was me marking my territory, and reclaiming that which is mine.” He said running his fingers through my hair. Every word he spoke was the absolute truth.

“Do you care to explain that?” I asked propping my head up on my elbow to look at him.

“Well, from what I have been told perhaps it is you who should explain it to me. I heard you are being courted.”

“Navaari told you about that?”

“He mentioned that you have been chased by several eligible young men since you were released from of sju’ru’arwy’kha.” There was a hint of something other than concern behind his words.

“Yes.” I said plainly. “And did he also tell you that I turned them down.”

That earned me another raised eyebrow and a smirk.

I sighed, “At first it was flattering. I mean I am not Chiss or Dantassi but a complete alien and yet there are men here who found me attractive. It was a bit of a shock but in some way it was good too. It made me realise I was still alive, really alive but it was confusing. I didn’t tell Navaari at first because I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me. He makes such a big deal out of you and I being together but finally I had to because one of the men in question was starting to pressure me for more than just conversation. At first it wasn’t serious but then it got that way. He found ways to be alone with me and he got too close physically. You know that my talents work both ways so you will understand when I tell you that while I did not initiate anything, I felt his need, his desire and… well… it was just hard to deal with.” I sighed at that memory. I had been astonished that while my heart said one thing my body had reacted in a completely other direction. That moment had shaken me but thankfully common sense prevailed.

Thrawn stroked my face possessively. “So what happened?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Well, the man in question had sort of backed me into a corner by point blank asking me to partner with him and was not all that impressed by my refusal. He said I was free to do as I wished. Free to be with whom ever I chose, that you …well he was not complimentary towards you or what you had done to me. I told Navaari what had been happening. All of it. He said he wasn’t that surprised which I suppose surprised me. He asked me what I wanted because you had left me with the choice. While you had bound yourself to me for reasons I still don’t understand, the ceremony we had undergone was only binding one way. I was still free to choose my own mate should I wish to and you would have to live with that.” I drew a deep breath. “He said I needed to follow my heart. Do you know the first thing that popped into my head and out of my mouth?”

“No, but then again I never know what you are thinking, my dear.”

I made a face at his barb and continued, “I told him, ‘My heart is a billion light years away sulking. I don’t want some fresh faced boy as a substitute even if he can give me sand jiggers in my belly with a smile.”

Thrawn raised both eyebrows. “Sulking? Is that what you thought I was doing?”

“Yes and you were, don’t change the subject.”

He smirked, “And this boy gave you sand jiggers in your belly with just a smile?”

That earned him one of my looks. “It had been a very long time since you and I….”I began but stopped as he brushed his fingertips suggestively across my lips and smiled as I swallowed. I knew he could see the effect he had on me.

He drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You are the most stubborn, wilful creature I have ever known. You are also the best, the most beautiful and the most surprising thing that has ever happened to me. When I heard that you were being courted I admit, I was worried especially since you did not answer any of my letters. I don’t enjoy the sensation of insecurity; it is not something I am used to at all. It was Kirja’navaar’inkjerii who told me that if I was concerned then I should return and stop, as he put it, all this ridiculous back and forth nonsense. He said, ‘She misses you and hides it well but she cries when she thinks no one will see or hear. You sent her here to heal but if you don’t come to her soon you will end up breaking the one part of her that hasn’t been truly been broken yet’.”

“Navaari said that?” I asked.

Thrawn nodded. “Yes and he was right.” He shook his head as though even he could not quite believe it himself.

I didn’t know how to answer that. I had not thought Navaari had noticed the few times when I had curled up in a dark corner in my room, thinking the apartment was empty, and wept. He had left me alone and not interfered. These bouts of sorrow usually coincided with one of Thrawn’s letters. I suppose I was stupid for thinking Navaari would not notice. He was Jhal’kai, a master tracker. Nothing escaped his notice. No matter how much I had lied to myself about it, I had missed Thrawn more than I could say or bear. It made me melancholy just to think about and some of this must have shown on my face because Thrawn
wrapped his arms around me and pulled me tightly to his body. We lay like that for what seemed a very long time and I relished the sensation of being held. His scent on my skin was a perfume I had missed. I sighed contentedly.The sex between us had been sudden and explosive, at least two years worth of pent up passion pouring between us in what felt like mere seconds. Our coupling had been hurried, raw and needy but the aftermath was like being bathed in sunlight. I looked at him and smirked a little.

“What?” his eyebrow arched.

“Well, that was fun but it was also a little short and not up to your usual standards so do you think we could do it again?” I asked.

He let his fingers trace up and down the length of my body, from my shoulder to my hip. “I expect we shall being doing that again several times if I have my way.” He whispered in my ear, his warm breath making me shiver.

“Several times? I thought you were tired.”

“Oh tekari, how many times do I have to tell you, the Chiss have amazing stamina.”

“Does this mean you are not angry any more?” I asked.

He shook his head slightly, “Don’t get me wrong, you and I have much to talk about and we will talk but it occurred to me that the conversation we need to have will go a lot better if you are satisfied and relaxed, not on edge and strung out from bad dreams. Besides I need to prove to you that I am very much alive.”

I smiled as I caressed him and watched the results of my actions. Yes, we needed to talk, we had an awful lot of things we needed to talk about but tonight was about relearning who we were to each other not about opening up the box of hidden and forbidden secrets we both kept. “Well,” I said carefully, “You seem very alive to me right now.”

That remark earned me a kiss on the forehead but he didn’t say anything else. He just wrapped his arms around me and pulled me tightly to his body. This was home, no matter where I lived, what planet I was on, in his arms was truly home. It had just taken watching him die in a dreadful nightmare to make me understand this.

“Don’t ever send me away from you again.” I told him after what seemed an eternity.

“I won’t.” He replied.

“Promise.” I looked up into his eyes.

He drew a slow, deep breath. “I promise.”

It had cost him to say that because he was a man who kept his promises and he didn’t make them lightly. I nodded but said nothing else. I suspected that we would spend more than enough time talking tomorrow. As he had said, we had much to discuss not all of it pleasant but, there were some wounds that could only truly heal after they were dragged out into the light of day and had their filthy bandages ripped off them brutally. I was guessing that the time for hiding things from each other had come and gone. I understood now that I did not want to live without him; the big question was after everything that had happened, if circumstances allowed it, would we be able to actually live with each other again.

“Stop thinking so hard, you'll break something.” He chided with a smile.

I just sighed and continued to stroke him concentrating on his fingers as they untangled the knots on my hair. He leaned over to kiss me on the forehead. “Are you ready?” he asked.

“For what?”

“For this…” he said and he began to reacquaint his lips with my body. He made me smile then he made me shiver and that was even better.


  1. 'Reacquainting lips with my body' is a new way of putting it!

  2. A good story is like any work of art. The finest details are as important as the broadest strokes. This story, as a whole, and even more so recently, is a true example of this in every way. The broad picture gleaned at the end of each chapter, the intricacies of each paragraph, each thought, and the amazing use of emotion throughout is simply fantastic.

    Merlyn, I truly envy and adore you. You put so much work into this, and give it away so freely. While I've written a few short stories... And even had them published!... they still do not hold a candle to this work of art you have made.

    Have you been in contact with LA to see if you can get this into book form, and part of 'official' EU cannon? If not... well... :)

    Either way, thank you, as always, for an excellent read, and I greedily await the next chapter :)

  3. Dissonance: Thank you so very much for these incredibly kind and encouraging words. It is knowing that people read and enjoy this work that enables me to keep on writing. ( that and the constant dialogues going on in my head)

    I don't mind sharing for free, this has bettered me as a writer and an editor in more ways than I coudl ever count and no I have not been in touch with Lucas Arts or Del Rey.

    The truth be told I think they would shake their heads in dismay at this particular tale, far too long, too many liberties taken with too many major players and far too much adult content. ( as well as not enough of the rebel heros).

    Given what I have read in the SW world this story doesn't really stand a chance because it doesn't fit into the standard scheme of things and that is why I started to write it in the first place. It was exactly what I wanted to read and couldn't find anywhere.

    However... in an alternative univerese, if it were published well, that would be quite something, wouldn't it.

    And you are so right when you say writing is an art form, it is. Words are like tiny brush strokes on a huge canvas, it is a real treat to be able to play in this arena.

    again, many many thanks for the very kind words.