main
side
curve

Beyond - Legends Lover, Hunter, Friend, and Enemy (Allana/OC, Chaos Twins, various AUs, vignette/ficlet collection)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ViariSkywalker, Dec 4, 2021.

  1. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: Lover, Hunter, Friend, and Enemy
    Author: ViariSkywalker
    Timeframe: 43-61 ABY, in the many AUs of my Enter!verse
    Characters: Allana Djo Solo, Darth Festus|Dorian Starskip (OC), Darth Ferrus|Veeran Starskip (OC), Leia Organa Solo, Jacen Solo|Darth Caedus, and several other ECs and OCs
    Genre: AU, romance, dark romance, drama, angst, introspection, vignettes & ficlets

    Summary: Nothing’s fair in love and war.

    Notes: Welcome to the chaos, friends. This thread is reserved for all the various Allana/Festus AU fragments and musings I’ve written over the last year and will no doubt continue to write. I make no guarantees that it will follow any orderly or logical narrative, and I fully expect that my current crop of Enter!verse AUs will expand the further into this I go. (If you’ve read my Fanfic Olympics decathlons, you’ve already seen a tiny glimpse of what’s in store through my AU Archery events, Where You’re Still in Love with Me and The Bright Fields of Day.) I may even occasionally slip in some ficlets from the main 'verse, just to keep things interesting.

    By the way, this thread isn’t just for shipping! There will be plenty of alternate takes on the Super Evil Chaos Twins of Evil as well, and further exploration of their relationship in all its incarnations. Other characters will come and go, but you can expect Allana, Festus, and Ferrus to feature most prominently throughout. A list of related stories from the Enter!verse is included at the end of the index below.

    All the *hugs* and a huge thank you to @Mira_Jade for her incredible enthusiasm for this project, and her encouragement and spot-on insights as I set to work on it, and to @Gabri_Jade for reading just about every scrap of writing I’ve done on these characters and for her endless faith that I actually know what the heck I’m doing. Love you, girls. [:D]

    Disclaimer: I don’t own Star Wars, but I love this world and these characters so much, it's ridiculous. [face_love]


    I hope you enjoy! [face_batting] [face_mischief]




    Lover, hunter, friend, and enemy
    You will always be every one of these

    —Fleurie, “Love and War”


    Index:

    1. Fragile and Composed | various AUs, various years | Allana/Festus in every reality (or at least seven of them)

    2. Course Correction | pen pals AU, 43 ABY | What if Festus and Ferrus were never captured by the Sith?

    3. Captive | captive AU, year unknown | Sometimes the breaking is soft | Haiku Challenge

    4. The Darker View | Jedi!Veeran AU, 44 ABY | One of the twins is rescued, and the other is left behind

    5. What Could Have Been | IDWD AU, 59 ABY | He pretends he doesn’t already know how badly this will end…

    6. Life Raft | on-the-run AU, 52 ABY | Festus & Allana navigate their strange new living arrangement | OTP Challenge #24

    7. Symbiotic | on-the-run AU, 52-53 ABY | Festus & Allana’s relationship progresses as they remain on the run


    ~~

    The Enter!verse branches off from the Legends timeline early in the LotF series and veers into wildly AU territory. In this world, Darth Caedus rose to power but was eventually defeated, leaving the galaxy ripe for conquest by Darth Krayt’s One Sith, who came onto the scene after kicking around on Korriban for several years. I like to think you can jump into this 'verse anywhere you want, but I’ve tried to organize these stories by the characters they focus on to make navigation a little easier. Each section is in chronological order, more or less. :p


    Main Story:

    Enter the Foreign – in which Anakin Skywalker winds up in Ben Skywalker’s crapsack future and joins his fight against the Sith Empire; also featuring Allana Djo Solo, Tahiri Veila, and many more (51 ABY; epic)

    The Way Out Is Through – Ben Skywalker has lost so many people to war, and still he survives; decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Olympics (42-52 ABY; vignette collection)

    Metamorphosis – Jacen Solo thinks about being a shadowmoth (47 ABY, vignette)

    Turn Ourselves Into These Ashes – Darth Festus and Darth Ferrus lead a surprise attack on a hidden Jedi enclave; missing moment/alternate POVs from Ch. 18 of EtF (51 ABY, vignette)


    Chaos Twins stories:

    The Lands of the Dead – 8 years before the events of EtF, the Starskip twins are captured by the Sith and must fight to survive. (43-49 ABY; short story)

    Here There Be Monsters – Dorian Starskip almost dies (twice) and has a nice chat with Jacen Solo. (47 ABY, vignette)

    HK-47 and the Super Evil Chaos Twins of Evil – Festus buys a droid, Ferrus is annoyed, and HK-47 is surrounded by meatbags. (52-53 ABY; vignette; humor/crack!fic)

    Thunderbolt and Lightning – meet the Chaos Twins; a Festus & Ferrus decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Olympics (33-58 ABY; vignette collection)


    Allana/Festus stories:

    Where the Waves Shatter – feelings are hard, especially for a not-quite-former Sith Lord; Festus & Allana (54 ABY; vignette)

    What If This Storm Ends? – five times Darth Festus definitely wasn't in love with a Jedi princess, and one time she definitely wasn't in love with him; Allana/Festus (43-61 ABY; one-shot)

    Forces of Gravity – in which Festus has terrible people skills and Ferrus has terrible aim; Allana/Festus (55 ABY; one-shot)

    In Dreams We Dwell – Allana attends a masquerade ball and deals with a dangerous uninvited guest; Allana/Festus (59 ABY; short story)

    Our Weakness Is the Same – she can’t escape his orbit, and he can’t escape hers; Allana/Festus decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Olympics (43-61 ABY; vignette collection)
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2022
    Mira_Jade and Gabri_Jade like this.
  2. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Seven times it came when you were not awake
    Seven times the flame, too much to take

    —Fleurie, “Hurricane”

    ~~

    Fragile and Composed



    I.


    He knows he’s staring. He knows he should stop.

    It’s the same as it was outside the temple; he finds himself drawn to her, as helpless as a tide beneath a moon. He can’t look away.

    (he doesn’t want to look away)

    To be fair, her friends are making a lot of noise, talking way louder than necessary for how close they are to each other. If he was actually trying to read, it might be sort of obnoxious.

    It’s a damn dining hall, Dorian, he imagines his brother saying. Get over yourself.

    She’s nowhere near as loud as the others, and she watches her friends with a smile, content and amused and maybe a little curious. He listens to their conversation, datapad forgotten as he hangs on every softly spoken word.

    Just stop it already, he tells himself, as if it’ll actually make a difference. Don’t be a creep.

    She does have a pretty smile. It’s kind of hard not to stare.

    Frag, she’s looking at him now. His eyes snap down to the datapad almost instantly, and he tries to remember what line he was on, realizing after several fruitless seconds that he’s completely lost his place. Not like it really matters, she’s probably used to being stared at. She probably hasn’t given him a second thought.

    An excited murmur ripples through the students near him, and he senses someone – no, not just someone, her – approaching his table. He keeps his eyes on the datapad, pretending not to notice she’s there.

    (pretending not to notice the princess of Hapes, who the hell does that)

    There’s no annoyance or impatience in his sense of her, though. If anything, she seems curious, maybe even faintly amused.

    “Hi,” she says. “I’m Allana.”


    ~~

    II.


    “You could love me for real.”

    She laughs at that, mirthless, wishing she could cry instead. She can’t though. All her tears are spent, and there’s nothing left to do but laugh at how irreparably broken they both are. Is there a world where this sad story ended differently? She used to hope so, but even that’s gone.

    “I did love you once,” she says from behind glass-gray eyes. “Maybe I always will, somewhere.”

    He kneels before her, hands grasping the arms of her chair. “Tell me what I have to do.” He bows his head in her lap, and she wonders if he has any idea how easily he could break her, if he tried. “I’ll do anything.”

    Her father’s first lesson: Be a still surface. Be a mirror in the dark. Reflect nothing. Reveal nothing.

    “You could start by letting me go,” she says, watching for his reaction. He goes still against her. Seconds tick by, and neither of them moves. “You’re a liar,” she continues, resisting the urge to wind her fingers through his hair, to tease him and bend him and rule him. Be ice, she thinks. Be colder than ice. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

    He lifts his face toward hers, his brow furrowed, expression shifting too quickly to pin down. His voice is soft. “I learned from the best, didn’t I?”


    ~~

    III.


    They sit against the outer wall of the enclave, watching the sun paint the sky in flame-colored hues as it dips below the horizon. She leans into him, head tipped against his shoulder, fingers brushing his for just a second. He feels that touch like a spark.

    This, right here. He could stay like this forever. And he knows how ridiculous that sounds, and maybe hopelessly naïve, too, especially with the way things are now. There isn’t much peace to be found these days, not for anyone. Maybe that’s why he wants to cling to this moment.

    (maybe that’s why he never wants to let her go)


    ~~

    IV.


    The heat clings to her like a second skin, damp jungle air heavy around her, weapons discarded on the ground as their hands roam and drag and claim. It’s too much and not enough, this strange, twisted thing between them.

    “Come on, Princess,” he murmurs against her lips before trailing down to her throat, “is that really all you’ve got?”


    Too much, her head tells her, defenses crumbling under the onslaught of sensation, aware of how dangerous and wrong this is.

    Not enough, her heart whispers back, wanting more, willing to risk everything just to feel this.

    She threads her fingers through his hair and answers his question – his challenge – with a murmur of her own.

    “Not even close.”


    ~~

    V.


    She wakes from her nightmares screaming, more often than not. She’s not embarrassed by it, exactly, but she does get tired of the raw, aching pain in her throat, and the panic that wells up in her chest, making it hard to breathe, and the way she feels herself slipping back into that twisted embrace even here, even now.

    He tells her it will change. He doesn’t promise it will get better, but it will change. Less screaming and thrashing, he says with a dark, wry grin. She hardly ever wakes up before him, but when she does, she notices he takes a long, deep breath before raising his arms, as if testing them against invisible restraints. He doesn’t scream out often. When he does, she pretends not to notice.

    He’s always at her side when she wakes like this. Sometimes she insists she’s fine, tells him to go back to sleep, not to worry about her.

    Sometimes she slips her fingers around his wrist, and she asks him to stay. He always stays; there’s really no question that he will, but she still makes sure to ask.

    She thinks how strange it is, that of all the people she could sail the stars with, she ended up with him. Enemies brought together by the twisting of fate’s web, by mutual need, a desire to escape and survive.

    Mutual need? Is that what they call it? She tries to ignore the sly, knowing tone of her inner voice as her fingers trace the inside of his wrist once again. It’s never gone that far, but she knows he wants to, knows she has only to say the word and he’ll be with her in every possible way.

    Sometimes she thinks she wants that, too.

    He slides into the bunk beside her and draws the thin blanket up over them both, and he curls one arm around her waist to hold her close. His breath rustles her hair and flutters across her skin, and she leans back against him, more content in moments like these than she is at any other time. And that’s strange, too, isn’t it? That it takes her worst nightmares to give her some semblance of peace?

    (that even knowing the darkest parts of him, she still feels safe here)

    She will fall asleep before him, lulled by the warmth of his body and the sound of his breathing and the beating of his heart – and when she wakes in the morning he will be there.


    ~~

    VI.


    Not yet, he thinks, sensing his brother approach, knowing what it means, what has to happen.

    (gods, not yet, he’s not ready for it to end)

    Weak. Pathetic. Naïve. He’s played his part to perfection, if that’s the opinion she thinks he holds of her. Funny, because he’s the one who is so pathetically weak, and hopelessly naïve, too, if he thought there was even the slightest chance that this wouldn’t end in disaster. Better to keep playing that part, right? Better to hide behind a lie, because he can’t face knowing what could have been. It’s easier this way.

    I doubt that, he hears a voice whisper, remnant of an old, old memory. Simpler, maybe, but not easier.

    He tilts her chin up toward him and leans down, lips brushing against her ear.

    (so soft, he could still kiss her, she’s right there, he might never be this close again)

    —say it, tear it all down, stop lying to yourself—

    The words are lodged in his throat, and even if he doesn’t say them, his brother is about to ruin everyone’s night anyway. He only has a second to decide.

    —just a few little words, that’s all, break her heart like it’s nothing—

    —distracted, distracted, distracted—

    —she’s not yours, she never will be, don’t you know that by now—

    His second is up. Time to choose.


    ~~

    VII.


    “You got what you wanted,” she says in that impossibly gentle voice. “I’m here. Let him go.”

    All he can hear is the sound of his own ragged breathing; all he can feel is the coral crust beneath his fingers as he kneels on the ground, and the iron grip of his master’s will, ready to crush his throat, or stop his heart, or throw him into the Embrace of Pain and let it do its worst.

    “He would have killed you,” his master says, quiet.

    She takes a breath, and he watches as she straightens ever so slightly and squares her shoulders. “I know.”

    Do you know?” His master is skeptical, rage still simmering beneath a deceptive mask of calm. “Do you understand what you’d be allowing to live?”

    —what kind of monster are you—

    “Yes,” she says, so soft it hurts, “and I’m still asking you to spare him.”

    He’s only vaguely aware of being released, of the cold fury in his master’s leave us, of his brother reaching down to yank him off the ground – because all he can see is her, turning back to look at him. All he can see is her fear and her strength and her mercy and her eyes and why is she doing this for him, he hates her, he hates everything about her, he deserves to die—

    —why, why, why, why—

    His twin hauls him to his feet, leaning in close. “Come on,” he whispers quickly. “Move, move.” Ferrus growls a few obscenities under his breath as he drags him backward toward the turbolift.

    She doesn’t look away, and neither does he, and it makes him sick, the way she watches him, pitying him. She’s wrong to save him, doesn’t she know that? Doesn’t she? Why should she look at him like that, after everything he’s done? Why?

    He and his brother cross the threshold, and Darth Festus stares back at Allana Djo until the turbolift doors close between them; and in that moment, that last second before twin layers of durasteel separate him from her completely, he knows the image of her standing before the Master of the Sith will be forever burned into his brain, and he wonders if he’ll ever see her again.


    ~~
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2022
  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Yaaaaaaas, it's here!!! It's here, it's here, it's here!!! [face_dancing] [face_dancing]

    I'm gonna be back with more, but I had to get that out of my system first. ;) [:D]
     
    Gabri_Jade and ViariSkywalker like this.
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    great to see the two again with Allana. Turning Sith too?
     
    ViariSkywalker likes this.
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Welp, you already know how glad I am to see this up. I'm beyond words excited that you finally created a thread to stow all of these little gems in, because they are all gems - each and every one of them. [face_love]

    I know I'm probably going to repeat myself, but there are a few things that just beg to be mentioned again, so here I go. [face_mischief] [:D]

    The astronomical pull between them continues to be as powerful here as it ever is. It's the metaphor that keeps on giving. [face_love]

    Plus, there's something about the can't look away/doesn't want to look away - especially here in this happy AU - that felt like the perfect way to start this collection.

    [face_laugh] [face_love]!!

    Some things never change. This was so quintessentially both brothers, and Veeran had me snickering out loud, even just while snarking in Dorian's imagination.

    I love how the Stalkeriest Stalker Who Ever Stalked is anything but, here. He's just a boy who's besotted by a girl, and trying to make sense of that the best he can. [face_love]

    Even in this happy AU, Dorian has assigned them both predefined roles and doesn't think nearly well enough of himself! The more things change . . . =((

    This highly amused me. :p

    I love that Allana didn't only notice him, too, but boldly took the first step! I just couldn't stop grinning for the entirety of this ficlet. [face_love]

    This line, on top of being heartbreaking, was a perfect way to encapsulate this entire thread. Goosebumps!

    The vulnerability and devotion in this pose was so striking, especially when juxtaposed with the vulnerability in Allana's thoughts - and how that later played off against her acknowledgement of how easily she could bend and break him in return. It's all just so messy and painful, gosh, Vi, whhhhhy? =(( =(( =((

    Such good writing. [face_hypnotized] The wording here was exquisite!

    Sooooo, is this the Super Dark AU of Darkness, or the almost Super Dark AU of Darkness where Festus does help Allana escape anyway? [face_batting]

    . . . and can we take a moment to appreciate that you couldn't help but have such an angsty plotline in this collection? A plotline that's even angstier than your main 'verse, at that? :p o_O

    The expression shifting too fast to pin down was great writing, again. Aaaand this hurt. Yep, that hurt like pain. =((

    I love how the emotion of this scene reflected the ambiance of the sunset! It all felt intertwined. [face_love]

    I could have quoted this entire ficlet, it was such a beautiful moment caught in time - in all of these times. [face_love] And yet there's still that sense of desperation that makes it all the more poignant - like they know to hold onto each other all the more tightly, not just because of the state of the galaxy but because of the alternate fates they've so narrowly escaped by chance.

    I instantly knew what AU this was and heartily approved. Because, let's be honest, the Reialem section in WiTSE felt like it was one heartbeat away from this sort of scene all the way through. [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    I LOVED this tug of war between head and heart for Allana. Because this is a mess of emotions, and they're not all of them right or what she should feel . . . and yet here she is. It's all that messy mutual need. ;)

    Their dialogue reads so different now, but not by much - which is more than half the brilliance of this AU. [face_mischief]

    More powerful writing! Comfort from nightmares is such a good trope for a reason, but there was something about the phrasing here that felt very unique to these characters - which is what we're always aiming to achieve as writers! =D=

    I could hear Festus, even without the exact dialogue. [face_mischief] :p

    Well, hello there, awful painful writing. You're ridiculously good at twisting the knife with these papercut sharp details.

    Mutual need. [face_batting] Yep, that's what we're calling it now. [face_tee_hee]

    There was such a sense of peace to this ficlet, even with that lingering sense of darkness hovering just beyond them. It felt like they were clinging to a life raft together, and I'm uber curious as to the circumstances that led them here. [face_thinking]

    This was a great continuation from the dreamlike atmosphere of IDWD. =D=

    Always back to those parts to play, and that endless refrain of weakness and self-condemnation for any sort of positive emotion otherwise. But Festus' introspection felt desperate, like he's trying to convince himself of this supposed truth. You could see this coming to a head to fracture in an entirely new way, just as much as you could still see it playing out just as it did in your original 'verse . . . [face_hypnotized] =D=

    The honesty in these parentheticals was beautiful - and gutting - as always. =(( [face_love]

    One: you really don't want us to know what he was going to say, do you? [face_mischief]

    Two: Ferrus about to burst in and ruin everyone's night had me ridiculously pleased. :p

    Such a tumultuous progression of thought, rivetingly conveyed!

    Gaaaaah! And of course you left it there! [face_hypnotized] [face_hypnotized]

    This scene will never not be emotionally charged in so many ways, and it still packs all of its original punch reading it from Festus' POV. =(( =((

    The why here felt like an entity all its own! More excellent writing! =D=

    For all of the thresholds and closing doors and boundaries, this really was a huge step to destroy that illusion of distance Festus was clinging to! I love how you paced and framed this scene. As much as this anchored all of these what-ifs with a reminder of what is, it's fun imagining how events could have further changed here in this moment - even more so than this scene was already a turning point all its own in your main 'verse. [face_thinking]


    Whew! Basically, all this to say: this was excellent story telling from start to finish, and I can't wait to see all the infinitely possible directions this can go next. [face_mischief] =D= [:D]
     
    Gabri_Jade and ViariSkywalker like this.
  6. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @Mira_Jade
    [face_laugh] [:D]

    Aw, well I'm just glad you're along for the ride! (And riding shotgun, no less. ;) :p)

    It really is, I love it so much. [face_love]

    Dorian is a bit intense no matter which reality he's in, isn't he? :p I'm glad this worked out to kick things off.;)

    These two. [face_love] Writing them together in this happier world is quite honestly a relief after some of the things I've written in the main 'verse, lemme tell you. And that line popped into my head and was just so Veeran, that I couldn't resist including it.

    I love that the Stalkeriest Stalker Who Ever Stalked is still a thing a whole year later.[face_laugh]

    The happy AU version of Dorian has a special place in my heart for being the very first AU version of him that I ever wrote (It was a few weeks after I finished writing TLotD, because apparently I depressed myself so much writing that story that I needed to inject some happiness directly into my veins :p)

    He's just so matter-of-fact about it, too, the self-deprecating dork. :oops:

    Another one of those lines that’s just so him. :p

    Yay, that makes me so happy to hear! As you know, the original version of this scene that I wrote last year was from Allana’s POV, and we’ll return to that at some point and see how their first meeting plays out. [face_batting] (I can’t wait for that!)

    I wasn’t very subtle there, was I? ;) But then, I wasn’t really trying to be… =((

    Hee, I’m so glad you got all of that from this! This version of them… well, they’re definitely messy for sure, but this is me we’re talking about. Messy is my jam. :cool: I won’t get into it too much yet, but I find the power dynamics here to be really interesting for how tangled they are.

    Phew, I was hoping that would turn out okay! :p Sometimes things sound good in my head, but I’m not sure how well they translate to the page.

    Who says it’s either of those AUs, Mira? Hmmmm??? [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    You say that, but you haven’t read the entire sequel yet. ;) [face_mischief]

    Why, thank you. [face_blush] I really enjoy finding ways to tie in lines of dialogue from the main ‘verse and give them different context, and that one was one of my favorites from IDWD. [face_mischief]

    You know me and my sunsets. [face_love]

    I really love this observation so much! This reality is truly the flip-side of EtF, with the only real difference (apart from the absence of a time-traveling Anakin Skywalker) being that Dorian and Veeran were never captured by the Sith; so in a way this is the (relatively) ideal picture of what Dorian and Allana could have had in the main ‘verse, had life played out differently. There are happier worlds for sure, but there are also much darker ones, and they all sort of fan out around this AU and EtF.

    Oh, definitely. Especially after reading it from Allana’s POV in OWITS. [face_mischief] [face_batting] What was it Gabri said in that thread? “This is a heck of a lot of flirting for enemies…” :p

    She’s so very confused and conflicted, poor girl. And this would be an especially troubling situation to find herself in… [face_worried]

    I mean, isn't that half the fun of writing AUs in the first place - finding new ways to use the lines of dialogue we know and love from the original? How was I supposed to resist taking things that read differently out of context and actually giving them that context this time around?

    [face_blush] (Such a good trope, I agree! [face_whistling])

    I did think that sounded about right for him. :p [face_mischief]

    Aw, I try. [face_blush] [face_batting]

    I love that this has become a thing now. [face_laugh]

    Clinging to a life raft together, that’s perfect! I was actually listening to the full version of Snow Patrol’s “The Lightning Strike” yesterday (what if this storm ends? [face_mischief]), and there are a few lines in the third part of the song (“Daybreak”) that go perfectly with that idea: And in the middle of the flood, I felt my worth / When you held onto me like I was your little life raft / Please know that you were mine as well...

    … As for the circumstances that led them here… [face_whistling] [face_whistling]

    Good, I really wanted it to feel like it picked right up from that scene, even though it’s from Festus’s POV. (And now you know a bit more of what he was thinking there. [face_batting])

    He can’t let those unhealthy coping mechanisms go, Mira. =(( I think he would have to be a little desperate here, knowing how close he is to her, to having something worth having, even if there’s no way it could work out… but then, does it hurt worse knowing she might care for him? Can he really deal with that? Or is it easier to believe he’s the monster she could never love, and so that’s who he has to be? We know what choice he made in IDWD, but this is an AU glimpse, after all… [face_batting]

    I always feel like I have to be careful not to overdo it on the parentheticals or risk minimizing their impact, especially since I’ve started to mix-and-match the styles and ways that I use them, so I’m happy to hear they’re still effective! (Beautiful and gutting is music to my ears!)

    All in good time, Mira. All in good time… [face_mischief]

    He was just so gleefully brutish when he ruined that party, wasn’t he? My gosh, what a disaster of a trash lord. :rolleyes: [face_love]

    I mean, he really is a mess. But even without the possibility of this scene ending differently, I thought it would be interesting and enlightening to see what his thought process was in the moments before “I think you’re distracted, Princess.” [face_mischief]

    (Also, I really liked how this progression turned out, so thank you! [face_blush])

    [face_mischief] [face_mischief] [face_mischief]

    Right? =((

    I’m not saying this scene is essential to understanding this weird ship of mine, but it’s kinda essential to understanding this weird ship of mine. :p

    :D

    The thing is… he knows he’s going to die here. He knows it, and then the person who has the most reason to let him die steps in to defend him? What the heck is that? How is he supposed to reconcile that with everything he thought to be true until now?

    Yeah, I love this scene so much. [face_love]

    Oooh, I would be very interested to hear any and all thoughts about what else you think might have further changed in this moment, apart from what already happened in EtF. You know, in case you wanna share. [face_batting] And yes, definitely, this moment really forced Festus to confront his own misconceptions about Allana, both as a Jedi and as a person. Not that he was anywhere near ready to handle what it all meant, and not that it doesn’t still take a long time for him to sort through everything she makes him feel.

    Thank you for the amazing feedback and for prodding me along to get this thread started. I can’t wait to share all the AUs! More coming up in a few! :D [:D]




    @earlybird-obi-wan
    You never know! [face_mischief] There will be many possible outcomes for all three of them in these realities, so stay tuned!
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2021
    Gabri_Jade and Mira_Jade like this.
  7. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: Course Correction
    Timeframe: 43 ABY (pen pals AU)
    Genre: drama, friendship

    Notes:
    The opening section of this vignette was taken from In Dreams We Dwell; the rest is new.

    Summary: Fate takes a different course, and two lonely children find solace in a simple datapad…

    (Or, what if Festus and Ferrus were never captured by the Sith?)




    Course Correction


    “Will we be able to send messages?”

    Master Bash puts a hand on his shoulder. “It might be possible, but we have to be careful.” The Twi’lek Jedi Knight tries to smile, but he can sense the man’s hesitance. “I know it’s hard leaving your friends, Dorian.”

    He looks up at Master Bash. “I don’t have any friends.” Not even Veeran. Not really.

    “Maybe this will be a fresh start for both of you.”

    He looks down at the deck of the starship and nods. He doesn’t want to argue the point. Veeran already causes enough problems, and he doesn’t want to be a problem, too. He just thought maybe, if he were to write her a message sometime, it might make her happy. And maybe she would write to him, too…

    The starship jolts, sending them tumbling to the deck, and an alarm blares from the comm unit. Master Bash looks up to the ceiling, then turns to them all, eyes wide.

    “Hide!”

    He runs, grabbing Veeran by the arm as the other kids rush to find hiding places. He needs someplace big enough for the two of them, somewhere no one will look…


    ~~

    Jedi enclave, unidentified location, 43 ABY


    The day starts like any other in the Jedi enclave. Allana Djo wakes shortly before dawn and shuffles to the small common area connecting her room with her grandma’s. She climbs onto the sofa next to Grandma Leia, snuggling into her side, smelling the mint and citrus wafting from her morning tea. Davin and Dolan are still asleep, so it’s just the two of them.

    “Good morning, sweetheart,” her grandma says gently, sweeping her long bangs from her eyes. “Did you sleep well?”

    She holds her stuffed tauntaun tight and burrows deeper into Grandma Leia’s side. “No,” she murmurs, half-muffled by the plush of her toy. “I had a bad dream.”

    Grandma Leia pulls her into her lap and holds her close. “What about?” she asks.

    Allana tries to remember, but it’s already foggy, like most dreams. But she knows it was bad. She looks up at her grandma and bites her bottom lip. “I can’t remember.”

    A soft, warm squeeze. “That’s okay, sweetheart, you don’t have to.”

    A muffled cry floats in from Grandma Leia’s bedroom. She looks down at Allana and smiles. “There’s Davin,” she says. “Dolan won’t be far behind.”

    Allana scoots off of her grandma’s lap so that she can get the twins from their crib. She watches her bounce them lightly on her hips and sing Alderaani nursery rhymes and feed them breakfast. When all that is done, she gets dressed and ready for the day. Another day in hiding. Another day in the Jedi enclave.

    Allana plays by herself, as usual. None of the other kids bother her, not even the boys who picked on her a couple weeks ago. Maybe they’re sad that their friend got sent away. She wonders if that’s her fault. She didn’t mean to get anyone in trouble.

    She thinks of the boy who helped her that day. She didn’t know they were sending him away, too. She didn’t even get to say goodbye.

    It’s almost lunchtime when she starts to hear the grown-ups whispering about it. She hears them mention the shuttle and those poor children, but when she finally screws up the courage to ask someone, they look down on her with sad, uncertain eyes.

    It’s nothing for you to worry about, Allana, they say. As if that’s somehow kinder than telling her the truth.

    She makes her way to Grandma Leia’s office, a heaviness weighing her down, making every movement feel so slow. The door is open, and she hears voices inside.

    “—traced the transmission from Bash, but there was nothing there.” That’s her great-aunt Mara’s voice.

    “Do you have any leads?” her grandma says, tired.

    “None,” Aunt Mara answers, also tired. “They were intercepted halfway to Denon, in the Komdar system. There’s nothing out there but empty space.”

    Allana steps into the doorway, and Grandma Leia turns abruptly to face her. Behind her, the hologram of Aunt Mara watches in sad, static-filled silence.

    “What’s ‘intercepted’?” Allana asks as her grandma kneels down in front of her and takes her shoulders in her hands. Grandma Leia’s eyes go wide, and she glances back at Aunt Mara for a few seconds.

    “Allana, sweetheart…” her grandma starts to say.

    She can feel the truth rattling inside her, but she has to know. “What happened to him?” she asks. “Why won’t anyone say?”

    There’s so much sadness in her grandma’s eyes. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart. They never made it to the other enclave.”

    She has to know. “But what happened? Where is he?”

    “Come here, Allana.” Grandma Leia gathers her into her arms and lifts her off the ground, cradling her. “Come here, and I’ll explain.”

    They go into the office, and her grandma closes the door behind them.


    ~~


    “What do we have here?”

    “Twins, Doctor. Just arrived.”

    “Indeed. Remove their blindfolds, please.”

    Dorian Starskip winces as light and color return to him, assaulting his senses. There’s too much… he can’t…

    An older man in a long, gray lab coat leans over him, staring down with dark, curious eyes. “Where did you find them?” the man asks.

    The Devaronian Sith Lord behind him smirks. “They were on the Jedi ship.”

    “Really?”

    The old man removes a hand from the pocket of his lab coat and strokes his chin with long, thin fingers. A cold smile stretches across his pale, gaunt face.

    “How marvelous.”


    ~~

    En route to Denon, 43 ABY


    After being on the ship a few hours, Dorian finally decides to ask the question he’s been turning over in his head since they left.

    He walks to where Master Bash is standing and waits for him to finish talking to one of the other kids. “Excuse me, Master?”

    The Twi’lek Jedi Knight turns and smiles down at him. “How can I help you, son?”

    He hesitates, then presses forward. “I was wondering, when we get to the new enclave… will we be able to send messages?”

    The Jedi’s hand is warm on his shoulder. “It might be possible, but we have to be careful.” Master Bash attempts to keep up his smile, but he’s clearly reluctant to promise anything. “I know it’s hard leaving your friends, Dorian.”

    “I don’t have any friends,” he says automatically. It’s true, though. Even his own twin brother can barely stand to be around him half the time. Besides, he prefers to watch people from a distance. Or read.

    Master Bash is all sympathy as he looks down at him. “Maybe this will be a fresh start for both of you.”

    He lowers his gaze and nods. There’s little point in arguing with the Jedi. There’s little point in telling him that Veeran doesn’t want to be fixed, or that the problems aren’t going to go away just because they move them somewhere new. And he doubts Master Bash would understand why Dorian wants to send a message to someone he barely knows, someone who will probably forget all about him before long. But if he could make her happy, even just a little, even from far away… and if she were to write him back, well, that would give him something new to read, wouldn’t it? He had to ask, at least.

    He returns to his seat across from Veeran. His twin avoids looking at him. He avoids looking at anyone. Dorian can feel the guilt he’s trying to hide. He briefly considers telling him it’s not his fault. In a way, it isn’t. He couldn’t have known they’d be sent away. But then Dorian remembers the tears in that little girl’s eyes, and he keeps his mouth shut, because it still makes him angry, and he’s not quite ready to forgive.


    ~~


    They never see the outside of the new enclave. It’s buried deep inside a vast, sprawling city-planet that he only catches a glimpse of on approach. When they emerge from the shuttle, they’re already surrounded on all sides by duracrete walls.

    “Welcome home,” Veeran mutters behind him, dripping sarcasm and disdain.

    They get settled and cleaned up, and they have their first meal. Afterward, Master Bash finds him.

    “Here.” He hands Dorian a datapad and smiles. “You can write your messages on this, and we’ll send it the next time there’s a supply run. No transmissions, no navigational data, nothing to intercept.”

    He stares down at the datapad, then back up at the Jedi. “Thank you,” he says quietly, unable to summon any other words. How can he express the sudden joy he feels, or explain the weight that has lifted from him in that moment? He’s never needed to talk to anyone before, but now it seems like the most vital thing in his whole world.

    “Thank you,” he says again, dazed.

    “You’re very welcome.” Master Bash puts a hand on his shoulder and pats it gently. “Now why don’t you run along and get started on that letter?”

    He does exactly that, racing through the gray corridors, back to his room. He curls up in his bunk and switches on the pad, and he begins to write:

    Hi Allana,

    This is Dorian. I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye to you before I left. It happened kind of fast, and I tried to look for you, but we had to go. Anyway, they said I could write to you on this datapad, and I guess they’ll just take it back and forth between us, if you want to write back. It’s fine if you don’t want to. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay. I guess I don’t have a lot to say right now, but I hope you stay safe. Talk to you later.

    Your friend,
    Dorian



    ~~


    The supply run doesn’t happen for another six weeks. He has to resist the urge to write every day, but by the time he hands the datapad to Master Bash to give to the courier, he’s written at least a dozen letters. Maybe closer to twenty. Maybe more than twenty. He hopes she doesn’t think he’s weird because of it. He hopes she’ll want to write back.


    ~~


    “Something came for you today.”

    Allana looks up to see Grandma Leia standing in the doorway to her room, a strange smile on her lips. She notices the device in her grandma’s hand. “Something for me? From who?”

    Grandma Leia walks to the side of her bed and sets the device down in front of her. It’s a datapad. “Turn it on and see.”

    Anticipation and curiosity race through her as she fumbles with the power switch. Finally, the pad turns on, and a message pops up on the screen. She can’t help the smile on her face or the way her heart leaps as she scans the first few words.

    Hi Allana,

    This is Dorian…


    ~~
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
  8. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Becoming friends? I like to see where this goes
     
    ViariSkywalker likes this.
  9. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @earlybird-obi-wan
    Maybe! There will be more of that AU eventually, after we take a detour into some darker realities... [face_mischief]
     
  10. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: Captive
    Timeframe: year unknown (captive AU)
    Genre: angst, dark romance

    Notes:
    This ficlet is both a continuation of part II of Fragile and Composed and a response to the Haiku Challenge.

    Summary: Sometimes the breaking is soft...




    Like captured water,
    You hold me in your cupped hands
    I flow on your palm



    ~~

    Captive


    “You could love me for real.”

    She laughs at that, mirthless, wishing she could cry instead. She can’t though. All her tears are spent, and there’s nothing left to do but laugh at how irreparably broken they both are. Is there a world where this sad story ended differently? She used to hope so, but even that’s gone.

    “I did love you once,” she says from behind glass-gray eyes. “Maybe I always will, somewhere.”

    He kneels before her, hands grasping the arms of her chair. “Tell me what I have to do.” He bows his head in her lap, and she wonders if he has any idea how easily he could break her, if he tried. “I’ll do anything.”

    Her father’s first lesson: Be a still surface. Be a mirror in the dark. Reflect nothing. Reveal nothing.

    “You could start by letting me go,” she says, watching for his reaction. He goes still against her. Seconds tick by, and neither of them moves. “You’re a liar,” she continues, resisting the urge to wind her fingers through his hair, to tease him and bend him and rule him. Be ice, she thinks. Be colder than ice. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

    He lifts his face toward hers, his brow furrowed, expression shifting too quickly to pin down. His voice is soft. “I learned from the best, didn’t I?”

    She knows. Oh, gods, does she know.

    He offers her a rueful smile. “You know I can’t go against him.”

    She takes a slow, deliberate breath. “You can’t, or you won’t?”

    “Both,” he answers, his weight pressing against her knees. How does he always manage to look like he’s in such pain, as if her words are literally killing him? This would be so much easier if he didn’t still make her feel. “How long are you going to punish me like this?”

    She tilts her chin up. “Is forever too long?”

    He lets out a short laugh and lays his head back down in her lap; her muscles tense at the contact. “As long as I get to see you, I guess it doesn’t matter.”

    To hell with her father’s lessons. She takes his face in her hands, lifting his head toward her, and a shock races through her entire body, like lightning skipping across clouds. “But you want more, don’t you?”

    His blue eyes go wide. “Yes,” he whispers.

    She runs her fingers through his hair, eliciting a weak moan. “You want me to touch you—” She drags her thumb slowly across his lips. “—and kiss you?”

    Yes,” he answers, in a low voice that rattles her very bones with want.

    “Let me go,” she murmurs, “and I’m yours. All of me. Everything you could ever want.”

    He goes still in her hands, then closes his eyes. “Now who’s the liar?” he says with a bitter laugh. “For a second there, I actually believed you.”

    When he opens his eyes, she meets his gaze head on. “I’m not lying,” she says evenly.

    He rises from his knees, hands still gripping the arms of her chair, pushing forward to completely fill her space. She lets go of his face and draws back, but there’s nowhere else for her to go, nothing to hide behind.

    “I told you,” he says as he leans in, lips grazing her neck, the threat in his tone tempered by the way his voice breaks. “I want you to love me. For real.”

    “It’s too late for that,” she whispers, feeling his breath warm her skin. Be ice, be a still surface, be stronger than him, too cold to thaw, too distant to reach. That’s the problem, though, isn’t it? No matter what she does, no matter how hard she fights it, there’s always a part of her that yearns for a part of him. Does that make her weak? Does it make her a liar?

    “Don’t say that,” he says as he softly kisses her throat. “You don’t mean that.”

    Her real problem is this: there’s still a part of her that loves a part of him… and he knows it.

    He leaves a trail of kisses from her throat to her jaw, each just as gentle as the first, before stopping shy of her mouth. He never kisses her there. She knows he’s waiting for it to be real.

    He could break her so easily, if he tried.

    She thinks maybe she should let him.


    ~~
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
    Mira_Jade and Gabri_Jade like this.
  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    teasing. both are teasing and they should be together
     
    ViariSkywalker likes this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellently compelling interactions =D= The beautiful haiku turns into a riveting snapshot of their relationship. @};-
     
  13. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Whew! I'm finally here. I first have to apologize for taking forever and a day to leave the feedback this collection so richly deserves. These last two entries were absolutely fantastic and more than equal to any and all flailing that I can muster - which I will right about now. ;) [:D]


    It's been a blast, lemme tell you! I can't wait to see where the journey will lead to next. :D [:D]

    Oh, and it's going to remain a thing, something tells me! [face_laugh] [face_mischief] [face_love]

    NOW I HAVE TO KNOOOOOW!!! [face_hypnotized] [face_hypnotized]

    You know . . . there is that. [face_worried] Why hello there, sudden sense of dread and impending doom. :p

    OMG, as soon as you said The Lightning Strike that lyric clicked for me right away. (That song is a cinch for most of my writing playlists, and I've especially come to associate it with your 'verse since, you know, WITSE. ;)) YES. PERFECT. THAT.

    Really, all of them boiled down to Festus having no idea why he's doing what he's doing, but somehow saving Allana - or trying to - this early in your canon, with all the interesting repercussions that could lead to as a result - especially since he's in such a messy place emotionally and nowhere near ready to deal with the fallout of everything that's just happened or process what any of it could possibly mean for the future . . . it could just be interesting, is all I'm saying. [face_mischief] [face_batting] [face_whistling]



    Alrighty! Onto the ficlets themselves, first with Course Correction. (And I love that title, BTW, for how fitting it is - in more way than one. [face_mischief])

    Aw! Gimme all of the Allana and Leia interactions, I need them for my soul.

    With just a few choice words, this was a moment I could perfectly visualize. [face_love]

    Oh, honey. I hate that Allana has so much fodder for her bad dreams already. [face_heartbreak]

    Allana's loneliness is just as palpable as Dorian's, in a different but yet similar way. It really speaks to why they were drawn to each other, with a bond that tethered them so quickly and anchored in so deeply. They fill in what's been lost for each other, when they've both lost so much already.

    And this really highlights Allana's particular type of loneliness, and that awful guilt that accompanies it. She's the daughter of the man who started this mess, in a way (even if that's all they know at this time), and she's taken on the burden of this too being her fault. She doesn't want anyone else to suffer because of her, even in a way that's not her fault, the same as none of this is truly her fault - but she's imprinted with her guilt, so to speak, as a result of the trauma she's endured . . . it's just a lot for a little girl to have on her shoulders. =((

    How many times in Allana's life hasn't she been able to say goodbye? =(( Gah! I just want to give this poor darling all of the hugs and good things. [:D] [face_love]

    =(( She's certainly heard versions of this speech more than once. And it hurts all the more so because she knows. She already knows.

    I could feel that sense of weariness - of enervation - like something tangible, even in just a few words, for both Leia and Mara. Also: YES for Leia and Mara still being kick butt ladies getting stuff done, even when it's the hard stuff that needs to be done. I'm always a sucker for their bond in fic in any shape or form, and it was great to get a glimpse of their friendship here.

    =(( Oh, Allana.

    Also just as heartbreaking was Leia looking back to Mara. How do you even have this conversation to begin with?


    Alrighty, now: onto that good ol' course correction. ;) (Having these 'what ifs' follow 'what was' really was a stroke of genius, BTW! The juxtaposition puts everything into place all the more so.)

    This was such a sad moment of self-awareness for someone so young. It hurts to see Dorian - and Veeran, too - so shaped for the worse by their childhoods, even without throwing in the Sith and that particular brand of trauma. [face_plain]

    More heartbreaking introspection, and yet Allana is like that light shining through at the end of it. Give him something new to read made me smile, too, because of course Dorian would have to dial the emotions back, just a little, into something more understandable for just how huge this already is for him. [face_love]

    I love how Dorian stares while Veeran looks away. Just that one pulled character trait says so much. Poor Veeran grapples with so much in his own way - that guilt is always there, and for being uprooted from another home, again . . . yeah, Veeran is not in the best head space and Dorian understandably isn't ready to be there for his brother when it comes to this. (Though I love the potential their relationship has to heal in this AU, too, just as much as I am here for Dorian/Allana. [face_love])

    I wanna say there was a line like this as Ferrus, somewhere, but it's honestly just a universal moment of sass for Veeran/Ferrus. :p

    That thank you held so much emotion! This entire moment felt huge - breathless and buoyant and reaching out for that life raft and feeling it hold steady for the first. Really, this paragraph was just too dear for words. [face_love]

    I just can't even with this dear sweetheart. [face_love] [face_love] (Ha! And I love being able to call Festus a sweetheart in this AU! [face_mischief])

    I COULDN'T HELP BUT SMILE ALONG WITH ALLANA - THE BIGGEST, DUMBEST GRIN, LEMME TELL YA. THESE TWO, VI, MY HEEEEEART!!!!! [face_love] [face_love]


    And now for something completely different in Captive. Because: wow, but wasn't that the best use of your haiku if ever there was one? :D =D=

    THE WAY THEY MIRROR EACH OTHER ALL THROUGHOUT THIS FICLET JUST KILLS ME DEAD.

    I feel like this is so quintessentially Festus and Allana, in so many times and places. It's always those feelings, creeping up when they'd least expect - or even want - them to.

    Lightning skipping across clouds - perfect prose is perfect, especially for these two!

    I could have quoted all of Allana's dialogue for the twisted push and pull of her attempted manipulation, but, you know, I honestly couldn't tell whether or not she was lying, either. This is all such a mess here, but yikes, Vi! [face_hypnotized]

    Goosebumps! So many conflicting emotions and expressions words ebbing and flowing all the while. (And all the not-kisses between these two are always potent. [face_mischief])

    I still love this imagery! ;) =D=

    More universal truths, there. And the hard questions that go with them.

    Even in the midst of all of this angsty conflict, this still made me smile. [face_love]

    [face_love] Because at the end of the day, Festus is somehow still a romantic - or at least Dorian is, and he wants this to be real. For all his talk of knights and princesses and monsters, there's also the power to break curses with true love's kiss, too. [face_whistling]

    There was so much excellent symmetry throughout this piece, and these last two lines really said it all! Bravo, again and again! =D=



    These were both excellent additions to your collection, and I can't wait to see which path you choose to follow next! [face_mischief] [face_love] [face_dancing]

    =D= [:D]
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2022
    Gabri_Jade and ViariSkywalker like this.
  14. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @earlybird-obi-wan
    Ha, we'll see what happens! ;) Thanks for reading!




    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha
    Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I loved the ambiguity of the haiku, and I thought it played perfectly into their dynamic in this AU. [face_love]




    @Mira_Jade
    No apology necessary, and I'm so glad you're here and enjoying them! [:D]

    [face_whistling] [face_whistling]

    [face_mischief] [face_mischief] [face_mischief]

    Perfect song is perfect, and I love that you associate it with my little 'verse. [face_love] [face_love]

    Welp, never gonna get that out of my head. And of course I already have a tiny shred of an idea... yeah, I'mma just tuck that in my back pocket for later... [face_whistling] [face_batting]

    I was a little worried it was kind of a boring title after all my song steals, but I love it for the double meaning. :p

    I love writing Allana and Leia interactions so much, and there will definitely be more. [face_love]

    She's so tiny and sad, Mira, I almost can't stand it. =((

    I love this description of the how and why of their connection. [face_love]

    One of the things I've found fascinating (and heartbreaking) about writing Allana is that she feels the burden of this guilt from such a young age. She knows the truth of her father very early on, and she can see how he's impacted everyone around her, even before she's fully able to grasp all of it. And I think there's guilt, too, because she does love Jacen, and there's a part of her that wanted him to come back for her, even knowing what he'd become. It's such a mess of feelings, and then when you add in this latest tragedy... it's just too much. :(

    *counts up all the times...* I'm going to say... never? Wow, I've really been cruel to her. [face_worried]

    That's the thing, kids are so much more perceptive than adults often give them credit for. And maybe after having that bad dream, there's a part of her that already knows before anyone even says anything. =((

    I imagine Leia and Mara both have to be so tired after everything they've lost and everything they've been called to do since to protect the Order and continue helping the people of the galaxy where they can, but you know they're going to do it because that's just who they are and who they've always been. I loved showing this small glimpse of their friendship.

    I'm glad you picked that detail out. Leia and Mara are both so adept at dealing with the hard stuff, but there was something about having to explain this tragedy to a young child, one who has already lost so much, that I felt would throw just about anyone for a loop, even Leia and Mara. And it was another opportunity to show how Leia looks to Mara for support even in this. These people are a family, dang it, and I'm gonna show them being a family.

    Phew! Now I get to fix everything! (Well, not everything, but you know. The Sith thing. :p) And I'm so glad the juxtaposition works! I figured it would be a good way to not only introduce the points that the AUs diverge, but to also expand on events from the main 'verse that we maybe haven't explored as much.

    Dorian is so painfully self-aware, you're right. :( They've both been through so much already, and Veeran especially has changed in ways that - left unchecked - could become a bigger problem down the road, even without the Sith there to nurture his aggression. (I really need to finish the Ferrus backstory fic. :p)

    Lol, exactly, it's because he wants some new reading material, not because he needs something for himself. o_O Hmm, I guess it's not too hard to see why Festus's capacity for self-denial is so strong. [face_thinking]

    I love this observation, because it's so true! And as much as I want the twins to have a happy relationship, the reality in this world is that they had problems before they got on that shuttle, and those problems won't disappear just because they didn't get taken by the Sith. Another thing I've found interesting to explore is the extent to which Dorian extends forgiveness to or withholds it from Veeran. I don't think he bothers blaming Veeran for them being uprooted, even though he could; what he does blame him for is the bullying, especially what he did to Allana. I think that's something he doesn't just move past easily. And without the immediate danger of the Sith to bring them together, that's something that has the potential to fester between them in the new enclave, especially now that Dorian is corresponding with Allana. I've probably enjoyed developing this version of Dorian and Veeran's relationship just as much as this version of Dorian/Allana. As for the potential to heal... well, I may have already started writing a little something along those lines. [face_batting]

    True! [face_laugh]

    Again, it's that need he didn't even know he had, that potential for connection and friendship that he's been missing out on ever since the Academy was destroyed, and maybe even before then. It felt good to give him that here. [face_love]

    He's so precious, Mira. [face_love]

    And lolol, right?! How is this even the same character? I mean, he so is, which makes the other realities even more tragic, knowing what Festus could have been. And it's also pretty terrifying to think that someone so sweet could be twisted into something so monstrous. [face_worried]

    I'M GRINNING, TOO, MIRA, I LOVE THESE TWO SO MUCH!!! [face_love]

    Talk about a mood shift, right? ;) I'd been wondering how I would use that haiku, and as I was reading back over "Fragile and Composed", it just hit me full on, and I was like, "yep, that's what it is, I love it, it's so messed up." [face_mischief]

    RIGHT? These messed up kids. :p

    Exactly. Even at his most monstrous and disturbing, Festus is still very human, and I think that's part of what makes it so hard for Allana to shove aside her memories of the good person he once was. It would be a lot easier if they could just play their roles (villain, hero) without feeling anything else, but that's not how it works, at least not for them.

    Gotta work in those storm references. ;) I didn't even fully intend to do it; I was originally thinking something like a static shock, but I needed it to be more intense than that. I'm glad you liked it! [face_blush]

    I'm not even sure Allana knows whether she's lying or not. [face_worried] There are definitely some messy power dynamics going on between them, and yeah... why am I like this? 8-} [face_mischief]

    Seriously, can I even write an actual kiss? Will I ever write an actual kiss? Is this me just trolling all my readers? [face_whistling] [face_mischief]

    (Okay, obviously you already know the answer to two of those questions... :p)

    Oh, good! I was pretty happy with how it turned out. :D

    She's trying so hard to be aloof and unbreakable here, because what is the alternative? [face_worried] It's never going to be easy, having feelings for a Sith Lord. o_O

    You hopeless romantic, you. ;)

    I'd say Festus has definitely retained his romantic/poetic leanings, even if he would never acknowledge them as such. And to be honest, Dorian would probably never acknowledge them as such either, though I doubt he would try to bury them the way Festus does.

    And that's an interesting point you bring up about the power to break curses, hmm. [face_thinking] Although I guess that might depend on what kind of fairy tale this is, or if it is one at all... [face_whistling] [face_mischief]

    :D Hee, so much messed up symmetry. [face_mischief]

    Thank you so much for the lovely feedback; it makes my day every time I read it! [face_love] [:D] I will have another update for you sometime today! ;) [face_batting]
     
  15. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: The Darker View
    Timeframe: 44 ABY
    Genre: angst

    Notes: Today, we're revisiting a pivotal moment from The Lands of the Dead. The italicized section at the beginning is taken directly from TLotD, and the title for this vignette comes from "Dark Matter" by Les Friction.

    Summary: One of the twins is rescued, and the other is left behind.




    The Darker View


    When he wakes, Dorian realizes he’s being carried. He cracks one eye open, ignoring the pain that accompanies that one small movement. The doctor glances down at him and smiles, an action completely devoid of warmth or happiness.

    “Ah, finally awake, are we?” He says it as though the whole world hasn’t just come crashing down around them.

    Dorian can’t even lift his head to see where they are or where they’re going. Ash chokes him as he coughs and attempts to speak. “Veeran?”

    The doctor quirks one eyebrow and studies him for a moment. “Your brother is already on the ship. He survived as well, but I would have expected you to know that, with your twin bond.”

    A small sigh of relief. How can he explain it to him? Feeling and knowing aren’t always the same thing. He needed to hear it out loud.

    “I made a promise,” he whispers.


    ~~

    Yalena, 44 ABY


    Dorian is still watching the little Jedi boy bleed out on the table when he senses a pair of eyes on him.

    The doctor stares at him from the doorway of the lab as the alarm continues to blare, its constant, shrill wail rattling his insides. “Come, my boy,” the old man says expectantly, single-minded in his efforts to ignore the noise. “This way.”

    He can’t tell if he obeys because he wants to or because he has to, but he follows the doctor through the fortress, down hallways he has never seen, past windows he has never looked through. It all runs together, too much input, noise and light and blood and fear—

    Fear. It hits him like a wave, powerful enough to overwhelm the wall he holds up around himself, spilling over, fear and panic and desperation – not his, and not the Sith’s either, but strong and familiar and—

    Veeran.

    He stops and looks out the closest window, and he notices the sun is setting. His brother is close. He’s really close, if Dorian can just find him.

    “You aren’t thinking of leaving me, are you?”

    That voice is like a hook buried deep in his chest, reeling him in. He tries to shake it off, reaching for his left arm, for the scalpel he slipped into his bandages when no one was looking. “Stay away,” he orders as he pulls the blade out, his voice hoarse from lack of use. “I’m not going.”

    The doctor eyes him with dark amusement. “Come now, child. You didn’t really come all this way just to be blown up now?”

    The hand holding the scalpel shakes, and he wonders if he’ll have to use it. That thought, and his brother’s fear, and every second of every minute of every day he has spent in this place hits him all at once, choking him. “My brother,” he manages to say.

    The doctor is still smiling that cold, patient smile. “Of course, of course. The wonders of the twin bond. I would have liked to explore it more. Alas.”

    Without another word, the doctor turns away and leaves him standing in the middle of the hallway, completely alone, no one to stop him from running away. He remembers what Malleus said, about the Jedi planting detonators all over the fortress. How long does he have?

    Dorian spins around and runs back the way he came, glancing through the windows that line the corridor. There’s a courtyard below – he’s never seen that before either – and someone is running across it, sprinting toward a starship that has landed just beyond the compound. His breath catches as he realizes who it is: Ben Skywalker, Jedi Knight. He’s carrying one child and dragging another by the arm.

    Dorian throws himself at the nearest window, pressing against the transparisteel. “Wait!” he calls out, his voice scratching from his throat. “Come back! We’re still here!” He runs along the corridor, slowing to look out each window, making sure the ship hasn’t left yet. He has to find a way out, or get the Jedi’s attention…

    On the ground below, Ben Skywalker staggers as the child running alongside him stops and turns back, and Dorian’s breath leaves him as he recognizes that child as his twin brother, fighting to get free of the Jedi’s grasp. Skywalker reaches out and wraps an arm around Veeran’s waist, shouting as he drags him toward the ship.

    I’m here! Dorian calls out, forcing every ounce of desperation through the cord that ties him and his twin together. I’m here, I’m still here!

    Veeran’s head snaps toward the window, and he bucks violently against Skywalker’s grip.

    Don’t leave! He curls his fingers against the transparisteel, his breath fogging the surface as he leans into it. Please don’t leave!

    Dorian! His brother’s scream is deafening in his head; he can practically feel Veeran thrashing in his rescuer’s arms. Come on, come on!

    The Jedi Knight hauls Veeran into the starship, and the ramp begins to close.

    “No, no!” Dorian slams his fists against the window and watches helplessly as the ship takes off, silhouetted by the setting sun. “Veeran!”

    A plaintive wail rips through their bond, and in his mind’s eye he can see his brother beating his fists against a gray durasteel deck, and he can feel the sobs in his chest as if they’re his own, no, no, no, no, no…

    He tries to reach out to Veeran again, but it turns out Darth Malleus was right about those detonators, and his last awareness is of the fortress breaking apart beneath him as explosions tear through it.


    ~~


    When he wakes, Dorian realizes he’s being carried. He cracks one eye open, ignoring the pain that accompanies that one small movement. The doctor glances down at him and smiles, an action completely devoid of warmth or happiness.

    “Ah, finally awake, are we?” He says it as though the whole world hasn’t just come crashing down around them.

    Dorian can’t even lift his head to see where they are or where they’re going. Ash chokes him as he breathes in. He doesn’t try to speak. There’s nothing to say anyway, is there?

    The doctor frowns and studies him for a moment. “I am sorry about your brother. Such a waste.”

    Veeran. The thought of his twin sends ice through his veins. Dorian pulls his defenses tight around him, draws the wall up as high as it can go. Even separated as they are, he can’t risk letting anything slip through. He can’t be a bridge for the Sith to reach his brother. Not ever.

    The enormity of that realization finally hits him. This isn’t a temporary severing like all the others. This is constant. This is permanent.

    This is forever.

    It has to be.

    “What does it feel like?” the old man asks, coldly curious, as always. “Losing him in that way?”

    He closes his eyes and lets his head sag against the doctor’s chest, and he feels the yawning emptiness in the place where his brother should be.

    “It hurts,” he whispers, swallowing his tears and his weakness. But I made a promise.


    ~~


    For a long time, the only sound in the cargo hold is the sound of his own stupid, pathetic screams.

    Veeran loses track of how many times he throws himself at the hatch, of how many times he slams his fists against metal, tearing his knuckles to shreds. He loses track of how many times he shouts in Ben Skywalker’s face, begging him to go back, calling him every foul name he’s ever heard, without so much as a word in response. The Jedi Knight hasn’t moved from his spot since he collapsed to the deck, still clinging to the dead Twi’lek girl in his arms.

    The other kids, the ones who are conscious at least, are staring at him wide-eyed, as if he’s completely lost his mind. He thinks maybe he has. His brother was always the smart one, the one with the brains. What good is Veeran now, without his other half?

    One of the other Jedi kneels in front of him, and he finds he’s too spent to fight her as she puts her hands on his shoulders. Anchoring him, he thinks distantly, like Dorian used to do. He goes rigid at her touch, his jaw set in a defiant line.

    “You left him,” he growls under his breath, staring down at the deck as he repeats the accusation he’s already thrown at Skywalker a hundred times. What would she do if he tried to hit her? Would she slam him against the cold durasteel, tell him what a failure he is, how weak and stupid—

    Her fingers bite hard into his shoulders, as if she’s sensed his thoughts. Or maybe she’s trying to get him to look at her. He won’t give her the satisfaction. Bad enough that his face is streaked with tears, his skin stiff from the ones that have already dried. He won’t look at her. He won’t.

    Eventually the Jedi lets go and walks away. He glances up at her as she leaves, and for a second he wants to say something, anything, to make her come back. He’s not even sure why.

    They arrive at the enclave, and as grown-ups swarm around him and lead him out of the ship, he realizes this is the place they sent him away from, the enclave Dorian was forced to leave because Veeran couldn’t stop screwing up; and his legs give out from under him before he can take another step. Someone picks him up, lays him on a stretcher, and he watches bright amber lights pass at steady intervals overhead as they take him inside, and all he can think is that he deserves every terrible thing that has ever happened and will ever happen to him, for the sin of leaving his brother behind.


    ~~


    Allana stands outside a closed door, the nervous fluttering in her stomach growing more agitated by the second, and she thinks about turning around and running the whole way back to her room. No one said she couldn’t go in there, but they also didn’t say visitors were allowed. He needs rest, her grandma had told the other kids when they asked about him. They all do.

    She heard one of the grown-ups say he wasn’t talking, and that they’re keeping him separate from the rest of the children they rescued. She doesn’t know why; something about special circumstances. She takes a deep breath and stands as straight as she can, and she taps the keypad for the door.

    The room is dimly-lit, with a single bed off to one side. He lies on his back, white sheets drawn up loosely around his waist as he stares off into space. He looks up when she enters the room, and she sees confusion and panic flicker across his face. He doesn’t seem to recognize her at first, but after a moment his eyes narrow, and he props himself up on one elbow.

    “What do you want?” he says in that same cold tone she remembers. Strange, when everything else about him feels like a spark searching for something to ignite.

    She twists her hands together in front of her, unable to respond. She shouldn’t have come here. Her grandma already told her the name. Why did she think they were all wrong? Maybe she thought if she came here, it would be him, somehow. Is it bad that she wishes it were him instead of his twin? Does it make her a bad person to be sad that Veeran is here and safe?

    He stares back at her. “You just gonna stand there or what?”

    She shakes her head, remembering how he held her stuffed tauntaun too high for her to reach and looked at her like he’s looking at her now. She wishes she was holding her toy right now, even if he probably would make fun of her for it.

    He looks away from her and lies back down. “Just get out of here,” he says, “and leave me alone.”

    She backs away quickly, reaching for the keypad. As she turns to leave the room, his anger gives way to a sadness so heavy, she can feel it pressing down all around her. She hesitates a moment. Then, quietly: “I’m sorry about your brother.”

    He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even move.

    She slips through the door and closes it behind her.


    ~~
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
    Mira_Jade likes this.
  16. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    I REALLY WANT TO READ THIS ONE NOW!! [face_hypnotized] ;)

    Heck yeah they're a family! It's a pity that canon ever forgot it, but that's what fanfiction is for, even if it's of the dark and heartbreaking variety. ;)

    That really is the brilliance behind this collection! And to know how this could be the same for so many of us, even if not to such fantastical extremes . . . it's something sobering to think about, when you really dwell on it. [face_plain]

    Shhh! It's a secret. [face_mischief] [face_tee_hee]

    I definitely suppose it would! :p And now I need more of this AU, too, goshdarnit all . . .



    Alrighty, and now, onto this next gem . . .

    Welp, you had me from the title. [face_mischief] [face_love]

    With a few words this read like a warzone; the setting felt immediate and dangerous with that impending sense of doom lingering overhead and I already just want to hug wee little Dorian all over again. =((

    The sun setting . . . oh. =(( Knowing what else is going on, just heartbeats away . . .

    Eugh. Your doctor is a great, horrible OC, but it's moments like this where he is at his most terrifying. He's just so matter-of-fact in his cruelty, detached like only a scientist can be, and yet he's a hook buried deep in Dorian's chest, reeling him in. Such a visceral bit of imagery, that. =((

    (How many times am I gonna need that heartbreak emoji for this ficlet?? Let's see. :p)

    =(( =(( =((!!!

    Dorian is such a fighter. He's fighting so hard, and then there's this creep. [face_plain]

    How tangible Veeran's fear was, all throughout this section, was just so gutting-wrenchingly poignant. :( =D=

    =(( :_| =(( THEY'RE SO CLOSE!!!

    ... nononono ... was a refrain for me as a reader, even knowing what was coming. =((

    And, just like that, they are back to square one. [face_plain]

    Except not! [face_hypnotized]

    Interesting thing, that word weakness here, when this was an incredibly brave act of unselfish love. Dear, dear, Dorian. [:D] =((

    And Veeran, meanwhile, has choice words for his own grief. [face_plain] His entire outward meltdown was just as poignant as Dorian's internalized pain.

    Ben! =(( =(( =(( Because he's just suffered such an unbelievable loss of his own. If he's even in any state of mind to hear Veeran, that just has to compound his heartache. Mara's sacrifice was for what, in the end? A dead child in his arms, and how many more back left behind, no matter how hard they tried.

    =(( =(( =((!!! (I give up on clicking that emoji now - just take them all!)

    Wasn't this Veeran in a nutshell? Refusing to make eye contact, the guilt, the yearning for something to hold onto, and still wanting that human connection, even after lashing out. This dear, dear boy.

    Also, I'd love any and all interaction between Tahiri and the twins in the future. [face_batting] If anyone can even begin to understand, it's her in her own way . . .

    =(( :_| =(( Yep, nothing is beautiful (except that selfless brotherly love) and everything hurts.

    A spark searching for something to ignite was such great writing!

    Oh . . . hoping that they had the wrong one and wishing it was Dorian instead. Welp, if I wasn't absolutely gutted before, I am now. And of course Allana is going to feel terrible for thinking that thought, no matter that it's a very human, very understandable thought!

    Allana, you absolutely precious girl, you. [face_love] [:D] If anyone can find healing together, it's going to be these two in a very unlikely friendship. Which you know I am all sorts of interested in reading more of in the future, just like I am with all of these tantalizing what-could-have-beens. [face_mischief] [face_love]



    Well, I would say that I demand one of your happy AUs next . . . but I'm a sucker for these painful ones too, let's be honest. Everything is just so good, and I can't wait to see which path your muse chooses to follow in stories to come. [face_love]

    =D= [:D]
     
    ViariSkywalker likes this.
  17. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    [face_mischief] [face_mischief] [face_mischief]

    Dark and heartbreaking fix-it fic, lolol. That might be the most "me" thing ever. :p

    Aw! [face_blush] And you're right, it really is sobering to think about how our circumstances and choices have the potential to lead us down such drastically different paths. [face_thinking]

    I'll never tell. [face_batting]

    I think I can guarantee there will be more of that one, too. ;)

    I thought I might. [face_mischief]

    I imagine it had to have felt exactly like that to Dorian. :(

    Mara... :_|

    I mean, isn't that really one of the scariest things about the doctor? It's not only that he tortures Dorian physically, but that in the process he buries those mental and emotional hooks in so deep, and then just look at the eventual results... [face_worried] =((

    I went through and counted because I'm a dork, and the answer is eighteen. [face_mischief] :p

    He iiiiissss. [face_love] =((

    And we'll eventually get to see Veeran's side of these events with the Ferrus fic! Well, the main Enter!verse version of events, anyway. If I ever finish it... *grumbles*

    Not gonna lie, this hurt to write. =((

    I really wouldn't have thought I could make that moment from TLotD any more heartbreaking, but I had to prove myself wrong I guess. :_|

    Now just imagine all the things that will change because Veeran isn't there with Dorian. =((

    I love AUs. [face_love]

    [face_whistling]

    That avoidance of weakness is so definitive for him that he can't see the strength such an act would require. =((

    Veeran and Dorian really are distorted reflections of one another, while also being polar opposites in some ways. I find it endlessly fascinating to write about, even when it's heartbreaking. =((

    My poor baby Ben. I've been really mean to him, too. =((

    I know this isn't the appropriate place to laugh, but I laughed at this. [face_tee_hee]

    I love that you picked up on this because you're absolutely right, this is Veeran in a nutshell. :(

    Also, can you believe we're at a point where you're calling Veeran a dear, dear boy? Man, this past year has been wild. :p

    I don't have anything specifically planned yet for any of these 'verses, but let's just say that this is an interaction that has been in the back of my head for a long, long time. [face_batting]

    RIGHT? :_|

    Aw, thank you. [face_blush] I definitely gravitate toward fire-related imagery with Veeran, and there's such a wealth to choose from. He's still lashing out here, because at this point it's all he knows how to do. And then when you think about what he's endured for the last year... [face_worried] =((

    Right? And I mean, no matter how bad she might have felt for Veeran when they were kidnapped, this is still the boy who stole her most precious possession, laughed in her face, and then told her that every terrible thing Jacen did was her fault. This is a perfectly understandable reaction. :(

    She's so precious, Mira; and not because she's perfect or never thinks anything bad, but because she still tries to be good and offer comfort to others even when things are hard. Until I started writing this AU, I never really pictured much of what a potential friendship between Allana and Veeran would look like. It's been all kinds of interesting, lemme tell you.

    You know, this next one might just be the perfect combination of painful and... well, not happy exactly, but... not entirely gut-wrenching? Maybe?

    I really thought about posting something happy next, but this one demanded my attention a little more. That'll be up in a few! Thank you so, so much for your awesome feedback and for joining me on this twisty AU journey. ;) [face_love] [:D]
     
    Mira_Jade likes this.
  18. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: What Could Have Been
    Timeframe: 59 ABY ("In Dreams We Dwell" AU)
    Genre: dark romance, drama, angst

    Summary: He pretends he doesn’t already know how badly this will end...

    Notes:
    Here's an alternate take on the masquerade scene from In Dreams We Dwell. I've been listening to Sting's "What Could Have Been" (feat. Ray Chen), as well as an instrumental version of that song by Samuel Kim, so that's where the title comes from. Also, you know, this is literally what could have been. :p




    What Could Have Been


    Kurin, 59 ABY


    “So what are you saying?”

    He comes to an abrupt halt in the middle of the dance floor, her momentum driving her further into his arms. He leans closer, tracing the smooth curve of her neck with his mouth, and he wants more, he doesn’t want to hold back anymore, not too much, don’t screw this up…

    “Can’t you tell?” he murmurs. “I guess I’m not very good at this after all.”

    Her breathing is too steady, and she still won’t meet his eyes. Gods, does she have any idea what she’s doing to him? What is she thinking? Why won’t she look at him? Why is she letting him touch her like this?

    (oh right, because he threatened to kill everyone here, like the murdering bastard he is)

    She should run. She should run far away from him and never look back.

    “Do you think I’m stupid?” she bites out, a harsh whisper, eyes narrowing as she shakes her head. “That I would believe anything you say or do?”

    He turns her hand in his, trailing his thumb along the center of her palm. He has to tell her. Just once. “I think you’re—”

    “What?” she snaps, trembling. “Weak? Pathetic? Naïve?”

    Perfect.

    She finally looks at him, taking his breath away, and he thinks he could stand here forever, could hold her forever, if only he wasn’t—

    —disgusting and wicked and vile and broken—

    —sick, sick, sick—

    —stop looking at her, stop thinking about her—

    This is a dream, he tells himself, still caught in her gaze. A stupid, stupid dream.

    (let it be real, for once just let it be real)

    His brother’s presence sears across his awareness, burning with dreadful intent, as if trying to banish the warm haze of being so near her. The bastard. He would try to ruin this.

    (gods, not yet, he’s not ready for it to end)

    He tilts her chin up toward him and leans down, lips brushing against her ear.

    (so soft, he could still kiss her, she’s right there, he might never be this close again)

    —say it, tear it all down, stop lying to yourself—

    The words are lodged in his throat, and even if he doesn’t say them, his brother is about to ruin everyone’s night anyway. He only has a second to decide.

    —just a few little words, that’s all, break her heart like it’s nothing—

    —distracted, distracted, distracted—

    —she’s not yours, she never will be, don’t you know that by now—

    Screw it. Screw all of it.

    “I think you’re incredible,” he says, breathless, his heart thundering in his chest. He takes her chin gently between his fingers and turns her face toward his. Only a few centimeters separate them as she stares back at him, her gray eyes wide behind the mask.

    “No, you don’t,” she whispers. “You don’t.”

    (please let it be real)

    Yes,” he breathes, closing the last bit of distance to trace the corner of her mouth with his. “I do.”

    She lets out the faintest gasp in response, but that one small sound is enough to spur him forward, and before she can say or do anything else, he loses himself to the unbelievable softness of her perfect lips.


    ~~


    She’s not yours.

    She never will be.

    Don’t you know that by now?


    ~~


    She doesn’t pull away.

    She doesn’t pull away, and her fingers grasp his shoulder harder, and she kisses him back.

    For a few seconds, the only things in his world are the taste of her lips and the curve of her waist and her soft skin and the way she holds on to him. For those few fleeting seconds, nothing else exists. Nothing else matters.

    In a distant corner of his mind, he knows he should be ecstatic, because isn’t that how normal people feel when they finally kiss the girl of their dreams? But he’s not normal, and he never has been; and instead of reveling in the ecstasy of this moment, all he can think is that he’s tricked her, she doesn’t know what she’s doing, he should stop but he doesn’t want to, he never wants to, stars, he wants more, how is he supposed to let her go now, how is he supposed to go back, how could he ever stay?

    A shard of hot, ugly rage drives through him, and screams begin to erupt on the other side of the ballroom, nearly masking the hiss of an activating lightsaber. He breaks off the kiss to look across the room, where Ferrus is standing with the last of their targets, the crimson blade of his saber protruding from between the man’s ribs. His twin’s eyes find his, accusing and vindictive.

    Allana tries to turn around, but Festus keeps a firm grip on her chin. “Don’t look,” he says, meeting her panicked gaze. Is he actually pleading with her not to? As if she can’t already sense what’s happening?

    “Why?” she asks in a broken whisper, and he knows there are a myriad of questions contained within that single word – questions she can’t give voice to, questions he can’t even begin to answer honestly.

    Ferrus yanks the blade from his victim’s body and cocks his head to one side, the cold fury in his eyes completely at odds with the dark, manic grin slashed across his face. Am I interrupting? he asks, his thoughts dragging like a knife across their bond.

    Festus looks down at Allana again, still holding on. Better to hide behind a lie, because facing the truth is worse. It’s so much worse.

    —plaster on a smile and play the part—

    And he does.

    “Thanks for the dance, Princess.” He releases her and takes a step back, watching her sway as the words hit her.

    “You—” She draws a ragged breath and spins around in time to see Ferrus dragging his victim out of the ballroom. Then she turns back to face him, bitter anger warring with stunned disbelief as she rips the mask off of her face and hurls it at his feet. “You bastard.”

    —play the part, pretend it doesn’t hurt—

    —really, what did you expect—

    He spreads his arms at his sides. “I’d hate to disappoint you by being anything less.”

    He’s always been a good liar.


    ~~
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
    Mira_Jade and Gabri_Jade like this.
  19. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Nov 9, 2002
    Uh-huh o_O :p
     
    Mira_Jade and ViariSkywalker like this.
  20. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    You know, if I had to describe your work in ten words or less . . . ;)

    You are indeed a dork and I can't believe it was just eighteen! [face_laugh] ;)

    Congratulations, but you went above and beyond in succeeding. o_O

    You know, when you put it that way . . . :p [face_laugh]

    Haaaaaas it, now? [face_batting] [face_batting] [face_batting]

    Yep, I want all of this . . . on top of the eight-five bajillion other things I know you still have - and want - to write, of course. ;) [:D]


    Welp, this is already perfect. :p (Does that song even have another meaning? [face_laugh] [face_mischief])

    I find it so interesting that the parentheticals and asides from Festus' POV are so often trying to make Dorian more Festus, and yet, here . . . there's so much desperation busting through the cracks that it's almost painful to read. This entire ficlet was brimming with all of the tension and yearning that I loved best about IDWD to begin, but with yet another layer of something more added to it, and I just . . . this was all such goshdarn good writing, from start to finish, is all that I can really say. =D=

    This level of self-awareness hurt, too. Because he's not wrong, and Allana should turn and run far away without looking back, and yet there's still that and yet . . .

    On that note, I really have to take a moment to mention, again, how much I appreciate how you never let us as the audience forget who or what Festus is. He may be sympathetic to an extent - traumatized, certainly, perhaps beyond recovery, even - but he's still incredibly dangerous and volatile and Allana has every right to be beyond wary and even Festus understands that. There are so many layers of complexity to these two characters and their relationship to each other that I'm still rather in awe of whenever I stop and think about it.

    So, of course, I remain all sorts of captivated to see where you take these characters next - in this or any 'verse. [face_mischief] [face_hypnotized]

    Oh . . . that's what he was going to say. [face_love] (My original thoughts were more of an indecipherable keyboard smash of emotions. :p)

    Also, beyond the spot-on dialogue and the brilliance of your introspection, I love how incredibly tactile this entire ficlet was. The detail of him turning her hand, trailing his thumb along the center of her palm was beautiful, just like all your descriptions were. =D=

    You already have a knack for turning parentheticals into works of art, but in this ficlet they were used to particular devastating affect! [face_hypnotized] [face_love] =((

    Because Ferrus would. :p

    HE SAID IT!!!

    Then, how does Allana even react to that - how should she react to that??? Her own sense of denial - that feeling of being unmoored - was just as poignantly expressed as Festus' unravelling. =D=

    Whew! THIS!! [face_hypnotized] [face_love]

    How do you say that time slowed and for a moment nothing else mattered without saying it outright? This is how! The weight of emotion behind the kiss and everything it could mean and couldn't mean was so convincingly portrayed! [face_love] [face_love] =D= =D=

    Well, wasn't this just the most heartbreaking thing ever . . . =((

    Oh, ow ow oww, the desperation and the sense of betrayal for that what could have been just . . . well it somehow hurt more than IDWD already did. Which is quite the feat. :p

    Ferrus, you absolute dumpster fire of a trash king. :p

    Back to those roles, again. Because what else can he do when the alternative seems so impossible? =(( [face_plain]

    But who is he lying to now, and what about? That is the question - especially given the AU nature of these ficlets. [face_mischief] [face_whistling] If you do continue with this thread, I would be very interested to see what else might have changed thanks to this one slight alteration. Or is this whole thing just one painful what could have been? Because I can see you doing that, too, you horrible author, you. :p

    Yep. I'm with Gabri on this one. o_O [face_laugh] [:D]


    Even so, this was most excellent, as always, and I look forward to reading more! Maybe even a teensy little bit of a happy AU next . . . [face_batting] ;)



    [:D]
     
    Gabri_Jade and ViariSkywalker like this.
  21. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @Gabri_Jade
    Shhhhhhh :p :*




    @Mira_Jade
    [face_laugh] [face_batting]

    lolol, I don't know, Mira, that's a lot of heartbreak emojis... :p [face_whistling]

    *curtsies* ;)

    Lol, yeah, and now we've had a few months of the Kessel Run with Veeran in the Regency AU to really drive home all those feelings, haven't we? o_O :_|

    So many things to wriiiiiiiite... [face_hypnotized]

    (But I do really want to write something with Tahiri and Dorian and/or Veeran... someday *waves vaguely*)

    I couldn't agree more! [face_love] (Although this song really does hurt when it pops up in Arcane, and let's just say that the meaning it has there is not wholly divorced from the way I view it here... [face_whistling] =(()

    :D I'm so glad all of this came across, because that's really what I was going for here. Like... Festus had a lot of thoughts and feelings that he was masking (ha o_O) in IDWD, and I knew writing his perspective of those events would have to be pretty darn intense, even uncomfortably so. (Maybe more than his POV usually is in general.) And I'm always pleased to know that you've enjoyed the writing itself. [face_blush]

    He's nothing if not honest with himself. =(( (Except when he's neck-deep in denial and self-deception, which... in some ways is kinda all the time. Wow, this man is a mess. [face_plain])

    So this is pretty much one of the best compliments you could give me (and I'm sure I've said so many times before :p), because it's always very important to me that I present Festus as he is, and not as a woobified version of himself. Which I'm sure is why I usually follow up the more sympathetic portrayals of him by writing something terrible, often within the same story. [face_whistling] :p (And of course I love hearing that you could possibly be in awe of anything I've written, especially when it comes to these two characters, so thank you for that! [face_blush])

    :D [face_mischief]

    Hee, I'll take the keyboard smash of emotions! :D Always a good reaction to get!

    Aw, thanks! [face_blush]

    And I'm glad this stood out to you as well! There are so many ways to convey longing and desire, and I enjoy finding ways to express those emotions without putting it in big neon letters (but still making it perfectly clear [face_batting]).

    I was a little worried about the sheer number of parentheticals in this story, as well as the various ways I punctuate them, but ultimately I decided to just let loose and go for it and see what I ended up with. Because Festus is an intense guy, and his inner world is complex, and there's always that push and pull between what he desperately wants and what he knows he deserves, his rational side and his emotional side, and more. So I'm very happy that the parentheticals continue to be effective! I tinkered with this particular passage quite a bit, looking for just the right words to express the gamut of Festus's self-loathing and condemnation and desperation. :(

    He would. :rolleyes: :p

    HE DID!!!

    So I actually wrote several different versions of this ficlet, starting with one that was from Allana's POV, before switching to Festus. Allana's reaction here, and the line "No you don't" were some of the things that stayed most consistent from draft to draft. She always reaches straight for denial, and I couldn't see her reacting any other way to such a confession. "Unmoored" is the perfect word for it. She's not just denying his feelings - she's telling him to take it back because she's not at all prepared to deal with any of it, his feelings or hers. =((

    [face_blush] [face_blush] This was another passage I tinkered with endlessly, trying to get the flow and the words just right. I ended up being really happy with it, and I'm so, so glad it had such an impact on you! [face_love]

    He really does have so many conflicting thoughts and emotions, and is being pulled apart by them here. =((

    Success! [face_dancing]

    ...oh, I mean... poor Allana... =((

    So murdery. :p

    Those coping mechanisms are so deeply ingrained. =((

    At the moment I'm leaning toward "just one painful what could have been", but you never know with me! [face_mischief] [face_batting] I definitely won't dismiss the idea of doing more with this particular AU somewhere down the road. [face_thinking]

    You guys know me too well. :p ;) [:D]

    Aw, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! [face_love] Thanks as always for your amazing feedback and for the incredible support you've shown for my various AU musings. And I promise, I was totally planning to post something from the happy AU next - honest I was! - but... well, there was this OTP challenge calling my name... and I figure since you've been getting all kinds of mostly happy Regency AU goodness over in TINL, maybe you can forgive me for diving into the dark AU of darkness next... [face_whistling] [face_batting] [face_mischief]
     
    Mira_Jade and Gabri_Jade like this.
  22. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: Life Raft
    Timeframe: 52 ABY (on-the-run AU)
    Genre: drama, angst, hurt/comfort, pre-romance

    Summary: Allana and Festus navigate their strange new living arrangement.

    Notes:
    Hey guys! I have a slightly longer vignette for you today, and this one is actually my response to OTP Challenge #24, which was to write a story in which your OTP takes a trip together. It also precedes part V of Fragile and Composed.

    For those of you clicking over from the OTP thread, I do want to note that the stories in this collection are all AUs that branch off from my main Enter!verse and are not part of the same timeline as Enter the Foreign or any of the dozen other individual stories I’ve posted that are also part of my Enter!verse. You know, in case you’re confused. ;)

    The following vignette takes place in an AU that explores how the events of Enter the Foreign might have played out if there were no time-traveling Chosen One around to interfere. At some point I do plan to show the point of divergence for this timeline (in this case, the mission to Vjun where Allana was nearly killed by Festus and ultimately saved by Anakin), but for now, we’re going to skip forward a few months to early 52 ABY, where things have gone a bit differently for both Allana and Festus than they did in the original timeline… okay, very differently...

    Oh, also, there are references to a kiss that occurred prior to this story. That is also not part of EtF or any of the main stories. It's something I've written about for this AU but haven't gotten around to posting yet. Just to be clear, the kiss and the fight from EtF are two totally separate things that took place at two totally separate times and places.

    And on that weird note, here we go...




    And in the middle of the flood, I felt my worth
    When you held onto me like I was your little life raft
    Please know that you were mine as well

    —Snow Patrol, “The Lightning Strike”


    ~~

    Life Raft


    Darth Festus is used to being in close quarters. He grew up surrounded by people, first in the academy and enclaves of the Jedi, and then on Korriban as a Sith initiate – not that he ever felt particularly connected to any of the people around him, or they to him – and for all but three of his nineteen years, he has shared a room with his twin brother. Being in close proximity doesn’t faze him; in fact, he often delights in how uncomfortable he can make others, just by standing too near them. But what Darth Festus has never done, not in any of those nineteen years, is live with a girl.

    The door to the refresher opens, and Allana Djo steps out, eyeing him warily as she holds her belongings close to her chest. They aren’t much, just a few supplies they picked up their second day on the run, and the clothes she was wearing before she went in there. The ship is cramped – the space outside the refresher even more so – but he keeps as much distance as he can.

    Maybe this doesn’t really count as living with a girl. They’ve only been on the ship six days, which he supposes makes this more of an extended trip than a permanent living arrangement. Then again, this is the plan for the foreseeable future, to keep moving and not stay anywhere long enough to be found; and if that’s the case, then he’s going to be living here with her for a while. It probably counts.

    “It’s free,” she says after staring back at him for a few seconds. Her voice is quiet and strained, and after a few more seconds she looks away from him, her face flushed. That doesn’t mean anything though, probably just an aftereffect of the sonic shower, which he’s really been trying not to think about in the first place.

    There are a lot of things he’s been trying not to think about when it comes to her, like the fact that it’s been weeks since he kissed her or that he replays it in his head every damn day or that she’s as scared of him as ever and he can’t think of a single reason why she shouldn’t be or why he should care and what the hell is he even doing here—

    She doesn’t wait for him to answer, turning instead to key open the door to the ship’s only designated sleeping quarters. It’s just one bunk, which he didn’t bother trying to claim. There was nothing noble about it, and he made sure to tell her so, before she could get any ideas. He really doesn’t care where he sleeps.

    She closes the door quickly behind her, leaving him alone in the corridor.

    He doesn’t care where she sleeps either.


    ~~


    Their next stop is Beltresh, an Outer Rim world that sits off a branch of a branch of the Hydian Way, dead in the middle of nowhere. The only information he has on it is that the war with the Vong never reached it, and neither did the civil war a decade later, and though it technically lies within the borders of Darth Krayt’s empire, it doesn’t seem to have any Sith presence whatsoever.

    They put down in a small port on the outskirts of the capital city, which is surrounded on three sides by forestlands and bordered on the fourth by a modest snow-capped mountain range. As they disembark, a man with the port authority approaches Festus for payment. He produces a few of the credits he stole back on Malastare – though not nearly enough to dock a ship – and waves the guy off with a mind trick. There are a few fraught seconds where he’s not sure the guy is going to be susceptible to his influence, and he senses Allana tense up on the ramp behind him; but then the man shrugs and pockets the credits and tells them they’re paid up for the next eighteen hours.

    “What would you have done,” she asks once they’re well into the heart of the closest public marketplace, “if he hadn’t taken those credits?”

    He looks at her sideways as they push through the crowd. Instead of her usual long braid, her copper red hair is pulled back in a tight knot and partially covered by a dark blue cap, leaving her neck exposed. He’s never really studied her from this angle or noticed the way her freckles trail down to her collarbone, and he wonders if they continue onto her shoulders, too, and—

    An image returns to him without warning or permission: her lying facedown beneath him, his knee digging into her back as he grabs her by the hair and yanks her head up—

    He drags in a breath, then forces his jaw to relax before saying, “Probably exactly what you think I would have done.”

    She doesn’t say anything to that, and they continue to make their way through the market. She stays fairly close to him as he begins to lift items here and there from the various stalls, but after he’s hit five vendors, she slows her pace, her thoughts clearly elsewhere. He slows to match her, his eyes sweeping over the square and the people he stole from, watching for signs that any of them suspect.

    “What is it?” he asks, his gaze finally settling on her.

    “We can’t just keep stealing from people,” she says in a hushed tone, eyes narrowing.

    “What’s your solution? Stay here and get a job?” He scans the crowded marketplace again. “Don’t be ridiculous, Princess. We need credits—”

    “I’m not a princess—”

    “—and we need to eat.”

    She stops dead in the middle of the walkway and glares at him. “It’s wrong. This is—”

    She cuts off before she can finish that thought, but he can hear what she’s left unsaid. Wrong. This is wrong. They’re wrong. Not that he didn’t already know that – he did know that, didn’t he? – so why does it feel like a kick in the gut?

    His danger sense flares, and he looks over her head in time to see a trio of local security officers wading through the crush of people. Instead of answering her, he loops an arm around her waist and pulls her off to the side. She goes rigid in his grip but doesn’t fight him, and he ducks behind one of the vendors’ stalls and into a narrow alley, holding on to her as he watches the officers go by.

    “Let go,” she whispers breathlessly once the danger has passed.

    He does as she orders, taking a step back to put distance between them. She doesn’t look up at him, but her hand drifts toward her throat for a moment before clutching at the collar of her jacket. The bruises are long gone, but he can still see exactly where they were, can still picture his fingertips pressing into her soft skin…

    “Come on,” he says, mouth suddenly dry. “We should get out of here.”

    When they make it back to the ship, he unloads his haul on the fold-down table in their tiny common area and begins to sort through it. Credits and ration bars and a few packets of some kind of mystery instant meal, and several small bags of dried fruit, and more ration bars.

    “That’s it?” she asks in disbelief. “Ration bars?”

    He looks up from his organizational efforts to see her staring at the food with thinly veiled contempt. He picks up one of the other bags and holds it out between them. “And fruit,” he says.

    She tilts her chin up at that, but he can see the way it trembles for a brief instant. “We can’t live on just ration bars.”

    He shrugs and raises one eyebrow. “Why not?”

    Because, they don’t… they’re not…” Her mouth snaps shut as she stares back at him, and he allows himself a small smirk in response.

    “You say you’re not a princess anymore,” he says, secretly delighting in the furious blush that colors her cheeks, “and yet you’re too good for ration bars?”

    “I never said that,” she retorts in a huff, eyes falling once more to the table. “I’ve eaten plenty of stuff like this in my life. It’s kind of hard to get fresh food, growing up in the enclaves.”

    Maybe she doesn’t mean anything by it – and he wouldn’t care even if she did – but he can’t let that one pass. “Yeah,” he says, with a touch of asperity, “I remember.”

    That stops her indignation in its tracks, and he tells himself he’s not sorry for saying it, or for embarrassing her. That’s not why he picks up one of the bags of dried fruit and offers it to her. She holds up a stopping hand and steps around him, heading for the door.

    “You have to eat sometime,” he calls after her.

    She pauses at the door, her expression pointed. “I’m not hungry,” she informs him as she gives him that imperious little chin tilt again, daring him to argue. But he doesn’t try to argue with her, and after a long moment she steps across the threshold and retreats to her room, leaving him to eat alone.


    ~~


    He finds her sneaking into the supplies a couple hours later, and he can’t help smirking as he flips on the lights in the common area. She drops the food she’s holding and spins around to face him.

    “Those ration bars are looking pretty good now, huh?” he says, crossing his arms over his chest as he leans against the doorframe.

    She flushes and hugs her arms around her midsection, and her gaze wanders to the corridor behind him, but she doesn’t answer. Her hair is loose, falling well past her shoulders; for an instant all he can think of is how it felt against his fingers, and how he wants to know that feeling again.

    “You don’t have to sneak in here,” he says, banishing those thoughts with a shrug. “I don’t care what you eat, or where. Or how much.”

    She nods absently and moves toward the door, leaving the food behind. She’s just passing him in the doorway when she stops to look up at him, her brow furrowed, like she’s steeling herself to say something important. He’s beginning to think she’s lost whatever battle she’s fighting with herself, when she whispers, “I want to go home.”

    He exhales and rolls his eyes. “Okay fine, no more ration bars, we’ll figure something else out.”

    She shakes her head and utters a sound somewhere between a sigh and a whimper. “No, I— I want to go home.”

    He narrows his eyes at her, a quiet rage kindling in his chest as understanding dawns.

    “I am not taking you to the Jedi,” he says, not quite managing to mask the bitter hatred that thought stirs in him.

    “You don’t have to,” she says quickly. “Drop me off somewhere and I’ll go on my own.”

    He blinks at her. “You don’t know where they are.”

    “I’ll find them. We have ways—”

    “You’ll never make it. Your father is still looking for you, or did you forget that?”

    “I didn’t forget,” she says quietly.

    “He’ll find you long before the Jedi do.”

    She looks away and shrugs. “Then he finds me.”

    Those words, stated so simply and wearily, twist at something inside him, and he reaches out to take her by the shoulders. She lets out a little yelp as he pulls her closer.

    No,” he growls. “You’re not just gonna go back there, after everything—” He stares down into her startled and frightened gray eyes, and loses some of his momentum. “Why would you— you can’t want to go back there?”

    “Maybe it’s for the best.”

    “It’s not. I know you’re not stupid enough to actually believe that.”

    Any trace of fear leaves her as she glares up at him. “Why not? I was stupid enough to get on a starship with someone who tried to kill me.”

    He laughs then, tries to choke it off by gritting his teeth, but he can’t stop it from bubbling out of him. “I could have left you there.”

    “So why didn’t you?”

    Gods, he walked right into that one. Why didn’t he? Because of that damn kiss? He’s tried to tell himself that he only did that to distract her from the Embrace of Pain, but why the hell should he have cared about that in the first place? He shouldn’t have. He’s not the person she knew, and they’re not little kids anymore, and she’s exactly right, he did try to kill her. He would have done it if he hadn’t been interrupted, but every time he tries to imagine it playing out, he can’t get past the tears on her face and that name on her lips and how it left him paralyzed—

    Her eyes are wide as she waits for an answer, and he realizes how tightly he’s holding her, and he wonders if it’s hard enough to bruise, if she’ll find five blue-black spots on each shoulder in a day or two and hate herself for ever having kissed him back. Maybe she already hates herself for that.

    —of course she does, why do you think she keeps hiding from you—

    He lets go of her, hands dropping to his sides. “I don’t know,” he lies.

    Free of his grip, she reaches up with both hands to grasp the ends of her hair, twisting her fingers around several copper strands. “Of course you don’t,” she whispers. For a second, he thinks he sees tears in her eyes, but she averts her gaze and hurries off to her room before he can get a better look.

    He flips the lights off and stands there in the dark, listening to the sounds of the ship. After a few minutes, he makes his way to the cockpit and unrolls the blanket he’s been sleeping on, and he lies on his back, watching the endlessly swirling blue tunnel of hyperspace through the viewport above him.

    She should run away from him. She should run far, far away.


    ~~


    The scream that yanks him out of his sleep is so familiar that for a few seconds, he thinks this is just another one of his nightmares. He sits bolt upright, heart pounding as a second scream echoes throughout the ship, this one cutting off in what sounds like a muffled sob. Without thinking, he grabs his left wrist with his right hand, then begins to repeat the motion with the opposite hands before ruthlessly suppressing the instinct. He’s not there, he already knows he’s not there, why is he wasting time with that nonsense, like he can’t fragging help himself—

    Another sob, not as loud as the screams, but this one is followed by a distinct thump, one that sounds a lot like someone falling out of her bunk. He flings back his blanket and staggers for a second, shaking away the lingering haze of sleep as he rushes out of the cockpit.

    When he reaches her door, he hears her take a long, gasping breath, in a way that makes him wonder if she’s actually having trouble breathing. “Hey,” he calls out, pounding a fist against the durasteel. “What’s wrong?”

    Instead of going quiet, the sobs return, punctuated by those same gasping breaths, and he remembers how it felt the first time he saw her twisted up in the Embrace, helpless and broken, her agony dragging against his senses—

    He beats on the door again, harder and repeatedly, trying to snap her out of it. “Hey! Allana!” He tries to open the door, but she’s locked it – of course she has, why the hell wouldn’t she? He knows he’s doing this all wrong, but he can’t tamp down the panic rising up in his chest, and he closes his eyes and presses his hands against the door, reaching through the Force for the mechanism that holds it in place. It takes several seconds to latch onto the right parts, but once he does, he steps back and wrenches his hands to one side, and the door slides open with a metallic screech.

    She’s kneeling on the floor next to her bunk, hunched over, arms hugging her middle, but she sits up straight when he enters, her hands flying up to cover her mouth. They stare at each other in the dim light, and he realizes how this must look to her, him barging into her room in the middle of the night. He wonders when he started to give a damn about things like that, or why he feels the need to explain himself to her.

    “I—” He swallows hard, not even sure what he wants to say. “I thought— I mean, I heard you…”

    She lets out another broken little sob, and the hands covering her mouth tremble, and whether by instinct or choice – he’s not really sure which – he crosses the small room in two strides and drops to his knees beside her, just in time for her to fling her arms around his neck.

    “You’re not there,” he says as he pulls her closer, drawing her into his lap. “You’re not there, Allana, it was just a dream.”

    She clings to him and turns her face into his neck, her tears warm on his skin. “It still hurts, and I can’t— I can’t—” She takes another tremulous breath, and he can feel her entire body shudder from the force of it. “When does it end?”

    When does it end? He doesn’t know, though he suspects the answer is never. He certainly can’t imagine there will ever be a time when his own nightmares cease, or a time when he doesn’t check for restraints upon waking from them, just to make sure he isn’t back on that godforsaken table.

    “It won’t always be like this,” he murmurs, in a voice he hardly recognizes. “You get used to it after a while.”

    Her lips brush against his collarbone as she answers. “I don’t want to get used to it.”

    “Yeah,” he says, arms tightening around her, “I know.”

    She leans into him and takes a deep breath, still shuddering a little from her earlier sobs, but more in control now. “Why didn’t you leave me on Coruscant?” she asks softly. “You could have.”

    “No,” he says, “I couldn’t have. I thought—” He closes his eyes for a moment, feeling the rise and fall of her chest against his, slowing with each breath. “I thought I could bear any pain imaginable… but I couldn’t bear yours.”

    He opens his eyes and looks down to see her gazing up at him, and he thinks of how he held her face in his hands, and how soft her lips were, and how he’d never wanted to stop kissing her. And there’s something about her expression, something new and at the same time familiar, though he can’t figure out why that is. On Vjun, all he’d known was her terror, and even in their better moments together on Coruscant, he’d only ever seen sorrow or a fleeting, wary hopefulness. This isn’t any of those things. This is almost like… like admiration, or—

    No, he can’t allow himself to imagine it. He should tell her not to look at him like that, like she’s seeing someone worthy of her smile, because she’s not. Whatever he might have been a long time ago, he isn’t that person anymore, and he never will be again, and she ought to realize that by now. What he should do is remind her of that acid-soaked hell, and the life he tried to take, and the bruises flowering across her throat, and… and

    Stars, why is she still looking at him like that? It’s only a little smile, but he has no defense against it. She shifts in his arms, her face lifting slightly toward his, eyes searching; and he feels an answering heat spread through him as he finds himself caught in her gaze. What would she do if he kissed her right now? Is that what she wants? How is he supposed to know?

    Dorian,” she murmurs, and despite her hooded eyes and her soft voice, that name drags him from his reverie just as surely as being doused in ice-cold water. He isn’t that person anymore, and he can’t pretend to be. Not even for her.

    “I think I broke your door,” he says abruptly, more awkward than harsh. She draws back a little, and her eyes widen to study him. “I’m no mechanic,” he continues, “but I can try to fix it when—”

    “You don’t have to,” she interrupts quietly, with a little shrug. She looks away from him at the open doorway, that faint smile still on her lips as she says, “It’ll make things easier next time; you won’t have to worry about breaking it again.”

    He knows it’s twisted, but his heart beats faster at the way she says next time. “That’s true,” he says gravely. “Starship maintenance is such a hassle.”

    She smiles wider and shakes her head, then looks behind her at the disheveled bunk. “I guess I should let you get back to sleep.”

    “Yeah,” he says as he helps her to her feet. “You too.”

    She raises a hand to tuck a few strands of hair behind her ear, and he senses her hesitance, her uncertainty. “You could stay,” she says at last, so quiet he can barely hear. “Only if you want to; I— I don’t want you to feel like—”

    “Sure.” He surprises himself with how quickly he answers. “I’ll stay.”

    There’s that smile again. He’s not sure he’s ever seen anything more beautiful. “Okay,” she says.

    He retrieves his meager blankets from the cockpit and lays them on the floor next to her bunk, and he assures her it’s fine, he can fall asleep anywhere. He doesn’t sleep though, not until long after she’s drifted off, her hand hanging over the edge of the bunk to cling to his. He listens to the steady sound of her breathing, and through the Force he can sense she’s resting, even if she isn’t fully at peace. And he thinks maybe that’s all either of them can ask for – a few restful hours in the middle of the storm.


    Fin

    ~~
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
  23. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    [face_hypnotized] [face_hypnotized] [face_hypnotized]

    YOU USED THE LIFT RAFT VERSE. (I can't hear that song without thinking of these two, now. [face_love])

    I just need to wallow for a bit in all of my feelings, and then I will be back with the proper feedback this story so richly deserves - because the feelings were great and many and varied, and I loved them all! :p ;) [face_love]

    =D= [:D]

    Fine, you've earned a little leeway . . . a veeery little. o_O Now back to the fancy ballroom story with you, stat! ;) [face_batting] :*
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2022
    Gabri_Jade and ViariSkywalker like this.
  24. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Love the bickering and in the end the loving care
     
    ViariSkywalker likes this.
  25. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    I DID. [face_batting] (And right?? [face_love])

    Take your time! I loved getting even this mini-reaction! :D [:D]

    Does that leeway extend to another brief foray into the dark AU for a follow-up to Life Raft? Or would you rather not read that right now...?

    [​IMG]

    o_O ;)


    Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)





    Title: Symbiotic
    Timeframe: 52-53 ABY (on-the-run AU)
    Genre: romance, dark humor, a little drama, maybe even something slightly resembling... fluff?

    Summary: Festus and Allana’s relationship progresses as they remain on the run

    Notes:
    These next ficlets are something of a follow-up to the previous vignette, Life Raft. @Mira_Jade challenged me to write five double drabbles (exactly 200 words each) using a set of dialogue prompts:

    – "Let Me."
    – "Calm Down"
    – "Make Me."
    – "Wake Up."
    – "I Promise."​

    The title comes from Starset's "Symbiotic", mainly because that was the song I was listening to when I started formatting this post and remembered that I needed a title for this whole set. :p But it actually fits pretty well, I think.




    symbiosis
    sym·bi·o·sis

    (n.)
    the living together of two dissimilar organisms; a relationship of mutual benefit or dependence


    ~~

    Symbiotic


    I. “Let Me.”


    His hand twitches just slightly at his side, already missing the lightsaber that should be dangling at his hip. How she convinced him to leave it on the ship, he still doesn’t understand.

    (looked at him so sweetly with those gray eyes, she has him completely wrapped around her finger, doesn’t she)

    The guard says something to him in Huttese – angry Huttese – and jabs a finger right in his face before flailing a wild hand toward their ship. Festus stares up at the guard, and he pictures reaching out to grab the man’s wrist, imagines twisting, breaking, forcing him down on his knees, yanking his head back to look him in the eyes for those last few seconds…

    A gentle hand touches his arm, and Allana leans in close to whisper, “Let me.”

    He watches, not quite stunned but definitely surprised as she sweeps past him and strikes up a dialogue with the guard in Huttese. It’s clear she’s nowhere near fluent, but the guard relaxes a little and shoots Festus an incredibly annoyed glare before accepting their credits and stalking off.

    “See?” she says, smiling serenely back at him. “Diplomacy.”

    “Luck,” he counters.

    She smiles wider. “No such thing.”


    ~~

    II. “Calm Down.”


    “There you are, I was starting to worry— oh my gods, what happened?”

    “Calm down—”

    Calm down? Are you insane? You have a knife sticking out of your side!”

    “You’re kidding, I didn’t notice… Okay, what? Yelling at me isn’t going to get it out, Allana. Wait, wait— just leave it!”

    Leave it?”

    “Yes, leave it. Do you want me to bleed out faster?”

    “No! But we have to get it out and— and stitch you up and get some bacta and— and why aren’t you upset that you have a knife in your side?”

    “I know this might shock you, but this isn’t the first time someone has stabbed me—”

    “I can’t believe you’re joking around right now—”

    “I’m actually serious, it was kind of a sport for the other initiates to see if—”

    Stop. Just stop. I’m getting the med kit.”

    “Take your time. Not like I’m bleeding to death or anything… What? Come on, that was a little funny…”

    “I really hate you right now… Should I ask what happened to the other guy?”

    “Guys, actually. And no, you shouldn’t.”

    “…I’m glad you’re okay. Don’t smirk at me, you know what I mean.”

    “Yeah, Princess. I know.”


    ~~

    III. “Make Me.”


    Her fingers drift past the plate of muja fruit and stop to hover over the lone shuura, and their eyes meet as she glances over her shoulder at him.

    “I was saving that,” he informs her, eyes narrowing.

    She quirks one eyebrow, and her lips tug up even as she tries to look stern. “You ate the last one.”

    “So?”

    She chews on her bottom lip for a second – never mind what that does to him, he has more important things to worry about right now – and then snatches up the shuura. “So, it’s my turn.”

    He rises from his seat and steps around the edge of the table. “Put it down,” he warns in a low voice.

    She stares back at him, lips parting slightly as she inhales. “Make me.”

    He springs forward, nearly catching her before she dances just beyond his reach, and he gives chase, hungry in a way that has little to do with the stolen fruit.

    His pursuit ends in the corridor outside her bunk. “You win,” she says, breathless and laughing in his arms. She offers him the shuura.

    “I win,” he murmurs, ignoring the fruit in her hand as he leans in close.


    ~~

    IV. “Wake Up.”


    “Hey,” she says softly, her voice drifting to him over the creaking of the ship and the ever-present hum of the hyperdrive. “You awake?”

    Is he? “No,” he mumbles, shifting to pull her closer to him. So warm. He can feel her turn in his arms to face him, her hair brushing against his chin for a second before she sweeps it out of the way.

    “Yes, you are,” she says, feigning exasperation. “Wake up.”

    He keeps his eyes shut and doesn’t loosen his grip. “Why?”

    “Because it’s morning.”

    He cracks one eyelid open and smirks. “It’s space, Princess. There is no morning.”

    She pulls away from him to sit up, ignoring his half-groaned protests, and tugs her shirt down to cover her waist. “I actually wanted to talk to you about something,” she says, hesitant.

    He immediately opens both eyes and sits up. “What is it?”

    Her eyes drift for a moment to the partially open collar of his shirt, and he resists the impulse to fix it so she can’t see. He still hasn’t explained it all to her.

    “Don’t be mad,” she whispers, eyes lifting to his, “but I think it’s time for me to go home.”


    ~~

    V. “I Promise.”


    “Why?”

    “I miss my family. I miss…” She sighs and glances down at her lap. “I just miss them,” she finishes softly.

    He pauses before speaking. “Is that the only reason?”

    She doesn’t look at him, and she doesn’t answer, and a knot begins to form in his chest.

    “Allana,” he murmurs, raising a hand to her cheek. She closes her eyes and leans into his touch.

    “The longer I stay,” she whispers, “the harder it is to say no.”

    He lifts his other hand to the opposite cheek and cradles her face. “I told you I don’t need anything else. This is enough.”

    She looks up at him, and the knot in his chest tightens further at the uncertainty in her gaze. “You promise?”

    “I promise.” And it’s not a lie, it’s true – he doesn’t need anything more than what she’s already given him. But he has imagined more. He imagines it every day, every night. He can’t help wanting.

    She nods, a faint glistening of tears in her eyes, but they don’t fall. He lowers his hands from her face. She doesn’t belong here, with him. He wonders how he ever fooled himself into thinking that she might.


    ~~
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022