Title: Family Commitment Author: SabyneAmberle Era: The Old Republic Characters: Torian Cadera, Kybrina (Ky/Kybri) Gammon-Sevrelle Genre: Romance Summary: Some questions are harder and more nerve-wracking than others to ask. But the reward often outweighs the risk. Notes: Hey, it's still Valentine's Day here in California for a few more minutes. This still counts as a V-Day fic! This idea has been percolating for a while, but I literally just got the whim to write it a few hours ago. It's another of my 'take an in-game cutscene and put my own spin on it' stories, though this one is slightly different. It's actually based on two versions of the same scene; some dialogue is taken from the version of this scene that occurs if the female BH refused to join the Mandalorians. Enjoy! ********** When he had asked for a few minutes in private, Ky had told him to give her thirty minutes to prepare. She had just re-entered the Mantis, coated head-to-toe in muck, blood, and frell-knew-what else from the Nightmare Lands, and her head was still spinning from her experiences there. Who knew ancient power could be so corrupting? She watched solid, sturdy individuals deteriorate into babbling madmen, their minds irreversibly ravaged by that place. She had been lucky she was tipped off to a ritual that kept her mind clear, yet all the while she had felt the trailing fingertips of that same madness whispering at the edges of her vision. Even with that cleansing ritual, she knew she couldn't have lasted much longer in that place. “I don't think I like Voss very much,” she muttered, barely stumbling into her quarters on wobbly legs. She had made it through those hellish events on adrenaline, stims, and her own stubborn determination; now that the danger had passed, it was as though someone had pulled a plug and drained most of her energy from her. All she felt like doing at that moment was shedding her armor, curling up under the covers on her bed, and sleeping for two weeks. And she would have, had Torian not suddenly asked for the time to talk. “That guy is lucky I love him as much as I do,” she muttered, wiping an especially sticky liquid from her forehead, its origin one she didn't dare ponder. “I'd throttle him otherwise if I had the energy to raise my arms.” Deciding it was best to get this over with, she opened the small wardrobe in her quarters, blindly thrusting her hand in and grabbing the first thing it touched. Without even paying attention to what she held in her hands -and without even knowing how she mustered the energy to make the trip, she realized in hindsight- she made her way to the fresher. Once there, she dropped the garments into an unceremonious heap and stripped off armor and garments before stepping into the shower. Once inside, the last energy left her legs, and with a groan she slid along the back wall until she sat on the floor. “I...I don't like Voss very much at all,” she muttered again, feeling the water trickle from her wet hair and into her eyes, where it temporarily blurred her vision. She stayed like that for several minutes, feeling the last traces of the horrors of the Nightmare Lands recede. The longer she spent away from that place, the clearer her mind became; in turn, the clearer her mind was becoming, the stronger she started feeling. Eventually, she lifted her face into the spray above her, closing her eyes as she felt its fragile touch on her cheeks. Though she felt much of her energy returned, she remained sitting on the floor, taking care to clean herself up. Gradually, the mingled grimy and sticky feeling washed away from her skin, leaving it its usual warm and clean feeling. She felt so comfortable that she was half-tempted to curl up there under that warm spray and sleep, but decided against it. Drowning was not her preferred method of death; and even if she turned off the shower first, the thought of one of her companions stumbling across her asleep in this state was not a pleasant one. So she reluctantly fought the warm, drowsy feeling that suffused her. Once she felt like her usual, cybernetically altered human self again, Ky switched off the shower and stepped out, drying herself with one of the large towels she kept stocked in the small room. She thought about trying to tie her hair back again, but upon looking at her reflection she chose to leave it down. It was just now long enough again to gently frame her face; while she sometimes missed the long braid she had worn for so many years, she didn't completely dislike this look. The braid had hardened her features, made her eyes appear like piercing shards of ice and made her seem almost emotionless. That all worked well for a bounty hunter who didn't care much for what others thought, but it left things lacking for a young woman looking to expand her place in the galaxy. Satisfied with the way her hair looked, Ky turned to the heap on the floor near her feet. It was a garment container; judging by the color of the outer shell, it was full of garments her mother had sent with her before she departed Deralia. Having many more clothes than she could ever hope to wear in a season, her mother often stored extras in soft containers such as this one. There they sat in storage until she decided they would be worn again, whenever that was. Ky smirked and shook her head, she was still finding these containers and trinkets tucked into every niche and nook of her belongings. It seemed her mother wanted to send her daughter off with the very best after their prior feud and reconciliation. She shrugged and opened the bag, her hands stilling as she took in the color of the garments inside. “It's...it's that dress,” she whispered, carefully removing it from its confinement. “But what's it doing in one of Mother's containers?” Her eyes took in the dark green folds of the dress she had worn for her date with Torian several months earlier. Holding the material to her nose, she inhaled deeply, swearing she could still smell the spices of the tiingilar they had shared. The memory brought a smile to her lips. She dressed quickly, but a frown had started to mar her features as she slipped into the gown. She had only worn it once before, but she remembered how it felt, the way it skimmed her skin, how it draped. None of that felt the same. She turned to her reflectio nand stifled a groan. “Oh, Mother. You didn't...” she said, hanging her head for a brief moment. Somehow, her mother had gotten hold of this gown and had it...adjusted. Instead of the light way it had previously skimmed her curves, it clung a bit more snugly to them. The neckline had also been altered; previoualy, it had shown slightly more than she was used to, now it showed considerably more. A blush heated her face as she took note of the changes. She couldn't wear this now! But a glance at the chrono she always carried with her told her there was no time to return to her quarters and select a different outfit. This one would have to do, as embarrassing as it now was. Giving the container another cursory once-over, she spotted a gold belt and matching shoes. Likely more touches from her mother. Shaking her head, Ky fastened the belt around her waist, where it shimmied a few inches lower to rest at the tops of her hips. She then slipped on the shoes, marvelling at how perfectly they fit. She thought about skipping cosmetics, but seeing the way the dress shimmered in the light, she decided to try her amateur hand at applying them. After a few minutes, she wore a few neutral shades of color on her face. She hoped that would be enough. Time to go. She reminded herself with a glance at her chrono. Gingerly scooting her armor out of the way, she left the fresher. She wasn't too worried about them, the droid would ensure they made it back to her quarters. Making her way down the ship's familiar stairs, she stopped just before the bottom step and watched him. She noted he wore his armor, though she couldn't see the weapons he typically kept near him. He also seemed to be pacing, his shoulders seemed more rigid than they normally did. Puzzled, she descended the last few steps and approached him. He turned as he heard her approach, and she noted the way his eyes widened as he took her in. That appreciative, knowing look he gave her reminded her of more...intimate moments they had shared, and she felt herself blush again. Almost instantly, she watched his expression change. The appreciation faded into a nervous, almost panicked look. She wondered what could be wrong, and cocked her head slightly in her curiosity. He answered her with a slight shrug, pulling her into a long hug. She hugged him back, resting her cheek against the hard, slightly-pitted surface of his chest piece. After several moments, her drew away, his hands nervously shifting behind his back in a way she found oddly endearing. Like watching a small boy confessing to a neighbor girl that he has a crush on her. “Ni kar'tayl gar darasuum,” he said, his voice trembling a bit. She thought about replying with a teasing quip, but felt she needed to return the sentiment first, at the very least. Plus, she had been practicing this phrase ever since he had first used it and explained its meaning. “Ni...ni kart...kar'tayl....” She trailed off, cringing at how terrible she sounded. When she saw him start to open his mouth to prompt her, she silently held up a finger to stop him. He closed his mouth and gave a nod, knowing what she was trying to tell him with that single gesture. “Ni...kar'tayl gar...darasuum,” she finally was able to say. She sounded painfully amateur to her own ears, yet the grin that spread across his face with every halting word made the effort more than worth it. “It sounds suspiciously like you're trying to hit me up for a favor,” she continued, winking at him playfully. He stifled a nervous laugh. “You could say that, Kybri.” he replied, that nervous edge stronger in his voice. “I've been...wanting to know something for a while now.” She laughed gently in turn. “You should know by now to just spit it out,” she said. “You can ask me anything.” That response elicited a slight shrug from him. “I'm a slow learner,' he said. She watched him take a deep breath before continuing. “If we ever had children, would they be raised Mandalorian?” She raised an eyebrow. That hadn't been a question she was expecting. “I never considered otherwise,” she replied. “Really?” His tone betrayed his surprise. “There's your family to consider, now that you've made peace. Would they mind?” She shook her head. “My family -particularly that meddling mother of mine- has come to respect my choices,” she replied. “As long as I make choices that make me happy, they promised not to interfere.” “Good to hear.” Hie reply was shaky, and Ky narrowed her eyes a bit as she watched him. She had never seen him this nervous before, not even before a big hunt. Something was definitely amiss. Was he leaving? Did he want to break up? What was going on? “Second question.” His voice cut through her anxiety, and she focused on him again. Her eyes widened a bit as she saw him on bent knee, looking up at her. “What would you say if I asked you to marry me?” Shocked at the question, she took an involuntary step back. Marriage... her mind whispered. I had all but given up on it ever happening. Ever since the unpleasantness with her arranged match, Ky had been careful with her emotions, all the while lamenting that that caution could cost her a chance at a happy union. Now that chance was kneeling right in front of her, waiting with plaintive eyes. She should say yes. She should agree and pull him in for a kiss. Instead, she chose to play coy. “While we're idly speculating here, I might also say I'd grab you and kiss you,” she replied. “I'll save you the trouble.” Before her hazy mind could react, he had stood up again, and pulled her to him for a long kiss. She wrapped one arm around his waist to steady herself, the other resting on his chest. Much like the first kiss, she could feel his emotions through their joined lips, though this time they were much more jumbled. She could feel his love for her, his happiness, all intermingled with his nervousness over those few questions. As their lips parted, she took a step back, clearly dazed by what had just happened. Yet, every fiber of her being was thrilled. He had asked her! And she had said yes! She felt the gentle pressure of his gloved hand around hers, noted the slight tremor it still held, and looked up into his eyes. “Ready?” he asked. “For what?” she asked in turn. “What happens now?” He took a breath, clearly trying to settle his nerves. “Mando'ade don't have large wedding ceremonies,” he explained. “Private thing, just between two people. Marriage vows are spoken, then a couple is considered married. Celebration comes after that." “Sounds good to me,” Ky replied, feeling her jitters return. This wasn't what she was expecting...and so soon! But if the events of the past few years had taught her anything, it was that life was fleeting. It was easy to snatch it away from others, or have it snatched away by another. How many times had she ventured into a dangerous situation and asked herself if she was coming out again? How many times had she asked herself who would miss her if she died? She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, one that he reciprocated. “I'm ready,” she said, her voice strangely calm in spite of her emotions. “Though I'm worried about how my Mando'a will sound. “Don't. I'll help.” He reached out and took her other hand. “Mhi solus tome, mhi solus dar'tome, mhi me'dinui an, mhi ba'juri verde.” He recited the words slowly, seeming to give each one its own purpose. Once he finished, he nodded, silently prompting her to repeat those same vows. She took a shaky breath and did her best to repeat the same words he had just spoken. A couple times, her nerves caused her pronunciation to stumble, but gentle prompting from him allowed her to correct her mistakes and say the vows in full. Once she finished, they shared another kiss, this one brief and gentle. “I know you forever, cyare,” he whispered as their lips parted. “It's about time you asked,” she teased, reaching up to tousle his hair. He shrugged, seeming embarrassed. “Never been the nervous type,” he began. “Never been scared about facing anything. While you were wrapping things up on Voss, went out to the range to blow off some steam. Had the shakes so bad I left a clean target on the range.” She laughed, resting her forehead on his armored shoulder as she tried to contain her amusement. “What's so funny?” Finally composing herself, she looked up at him. “You.” she replied simply. “You're a deadly shot, and you're adorable when you're nervous. I couldn't possibly have refused.” He laughed sheepishly. “Guess I better not cross you, cyare,” he replied. “Or question you.” “Guess not.” Grinning slyly, she drew back, tugging gently at his hand. When he gave her a questioning look, she gave a gesturing glance toward the stairs. He gave a knowing smile, and allowed her to lead him up the narrow stairs that led to her quarters. No. Their quarters, now. He needed to make sure he remembered that.