(Q’ayla balances the tray in one hand, reaching the other out to knock on Irsin’s door)
(Irsin looks up from his holocron)
(After shutting down his holocron, he opens the door— saying, with a wry grin)
Look at that, door-to-door service!
(Q’ayla stands before him in the hallway, holding a somewhat large metal tray. On the tray are two plates filled with food; several pieces of meat along with what appear to be roasted vegetables… or gourds… or fruit. For her part, Q’ayla has changed out of her Jedi garb; instead she’s dressed in the simple, strapless dress and matching veil, made from colorful fabrics, that she once wore to a cantina back on Taris. She’s smiling warmly at Irsin, her head cocked slightly to one side)
(Irsin all but gapes at her garb, and eyes the food with undisguised interest)
Where in the world did all this come from?
(His gaze seems to take in both the food and her attire; her smile gives way to a grin as she watches him)
I took a little trip to the Singing Mountain village and traded for the food. Despite how romantic the slurry is, I figured this might be nicer for a change.
And my clothing…? They were gifts from friends I made while on Ansion. I know it’s not much… but it’s the nicest outfit I own. And it’s way nicer than my boring old Jedi stuff.
May I come in?
(She smirks at him again, her head crooking once more. Irsin gives a start)
Yes, of course!
(He steps aside and lets her pass)
Can I get you something to drink?
(He quirks an eyebrow as though wondering if Red Dwarf is on her “menu”)
(She moves into the room with the tray, looking as though for something)
Ahh… yes, thanks. Some water would be great.
Hey, where should I put this?
(Irsin glances around, realizing virtually every horizontal surface other than the bed is cluttered with electrical and computer equipment. He seems much more flustered than he usually does by this)
I… ah… here, let me clean off some space…
(He sweeps aside some delicate looking equipment into a haphazard pile, wincing when a piece of it falls off the other end of the table to the floor with a small crash. But he recovers quickly, saying as he smiles)
Here will work.
(He then looks for cups to get her a drink— realizes, as before, that there’s still only one cup, fills it with water, and hands it to her)
Here you go.
(Q’ayla grimaces slightly as the piece of hardware falls off the table, then sets the tray down on the table. When he offers her the drink, she looks at it for a moment, then at him, and then at the counter where he retrieved it from… She raises a finger to him)
Just a sec!
(She hurries out of the room, the door closing behind her. Irsin looks a little like a Bantha in headlights standing there holding out the cup)
(After several moments, there’s a light knocking at the door again)
(In almost a questioning tone)
Come on in?
(The door opens, and Q’ayla walks back in; in her hand is a cup, presumably from her own room)
There, now neither of us needs to drink straight from the tap.
(She smiles at him; handing him her cup, she looks down at the tray of food)
Ashla, I hope this is good.
(He smiles again, this time more warmly, as he hands her his cup and goes to fill hers for himself)
Well, it certainly looks better than the slurry does. And smells. It has a smell, that’s a definite plus. Either way I think you’ve outdone yourself. I can’t remember the last real meal I’ve had.
(He fills her cup and takes a sip of water from it)
So, what’s first?
(She looks down at the plates; one of her fingers finds her lips and she taps it against them as if thinking)
(She points at one pile of meat)
This is a… ahh—
“brackaset”— That’s what she called this.
(Then, pointing to the other pile)
And this was… “naz”…
“baz nitch”— Yep, that’s it! And I managed to procure some vegetables too… at least, I think they’re all vegetables. One of them seriously looked more like a gourd. But they all grilled up just fine… hopefully.
It all looks, if not sounds, fantastic. What say we try some of the offensive sounding meat?
(He gives her a wry grin at this and grabs a fork, spearing a piece of the meat she called “baz nitch” and popping it in his mouth)
Mmmm… Tastes like Endorian Chicken!
(He grins at Q’ayla)
You like it?
(She smiles at him, and there’s a real sense of relief in it and her voice)
(She takes up her fork and lances a piece of the meat herself, eyeing it a little before tasting. After several chews she swallows, then nods at him)
You’re right… not bad at all.
Would I lie to you?
(He winces when he says it, but only for the barest of moments)
I mean, now. I have no reason to lie to you now.
(He looks down for a moment, not meeting her eyes)
Q’ayla… thank you. I don’t think I’ve felt this…
(He coughs, struggling with the words)
…welcome. I can’t remember the last time I really felt like I belonged somewhere. And with you and your sister? I feel like I have a place. And that it’s also an important place… so, thank you.
(She reaches across the table and takes his hand)
Of course, Irsin.
You do belong here.
And you’ll always be welcome here with us.
(She lets go and takes up her fork again, picking at one of the vegetables and taking a bite)
You know, I don’t make a bad cook.
(She lets out a chuckle quietly to herself)
And believe me, I have not had that much practice.
(Irsin smiles and looks up at her again)
Well the mynock is out of the bag now, I thought you were a master chef. Now my expectations are ruined.
(His mouth curls again; she laughs out loud)
Why did I speak up?!
(She continues eating and drinking, pausing in-between bites to speak)
Seriously, though, I’ve not had that much experience with cooking. Well, you must know, growing up in an organization that houses you, there’s always food available. Even on missions, we were often guests of some diplomat, or set up in a hotel. I’m definitely not used to roughing it like this, that’s for sure…
(Irsin’s grin sours a bit at the thought of some of the positions “roughing it” put him in while training to be a Sith)
I assure you this is much better than roasted uvak when you’re in the mountains and have nothing else to light a fire besides your lightsaber…
Still, you’re right. Even then, I never learned much about cooking.
(He hesitates a bit, and covers it between bites)
How are you feeling?
(Q’ayla’s in the middle of spearing another piece of food when he asks the last; she stops what she’s doing, laying the fork down gently against the plate. All of a sudden, her mannerisms seem much more self-conscious; her hands begin rubbing her arms, and she seems to have difficulty looking at Irsin)
Thanks to you.
And I am feeling a bit better. I just…
I feel so ashamed, Irsin.
(He gives a start at the last)
Immortal gods… why ashamed? You have nothing to be ashamed of. Even the strongest among us are vulnerable sometimes, Q’ayla. And truly? I’m not sure it doesn’t say something in your favor that you seem to have been targeted by whatever force is trying to twist this planet…
(He trails off at the end, turning inward for a moment)
I’m ashamed because I almost killed myself today, Irsin. A Jedi Guardian— a protector… and I almost—
What’s that supposed to mean?
How could it possibly be in my favor?
(Irsin tries to keep any reaction from his face, which has gone hard like it used to, but Q’ayla sees a flash of… Disdain? Loathing?)
It means that whatever is wrong with this planet is evil, pure evil. And it’s going after the things – the people – who threaten it most first. Clanmothers. Q’aleane and you. It knows you’re a threat because it knows you’re different from it. It can feel it.
Not all of us are so… bright.
(Q’ayla’s mouth opens slightly, though nothing comes out. Clearly she was not considering that point)
You think this thing isn’t coming after you because you’re evil? Because you’re the same as it?
(An incredulous breath escapes her lips, and her head shakes slowly as she stares at him)
You think you’re pure evil?
(She pushes out from the table and walks around it to where Irsin is sitting. Standing behind him, she leans down and wraps her arms around his neck, letting her hands fall crossed against his chest. She whispers into his ear…)
Pure evil doesn’t kneel behind a broken girl to take the blade… to take the wound along with her. Pure evil runs away and hides. It’s shadows and fear, like this place.
Irsin, you stayed.
Gods… you saved my life.
(She lifts her head and kisses the top of his head tenderly, lingering for a moment before continuing)
If this planet – or whatever it represents – thinks, feels, then I think we’re in great shape. Because if that’s what it feels…
…it’s never going to see you coming, love.
(Irsin bows his head a bit)
I hope you’re right, I truly do.
I hope that if it does see me coming, I have the strength to resist it as you and your sister have. Otherwise…
…Force, Q’ayla… you don’t even know what I’ve done. How can you have such faith in me?
(She brings her head down and nuzzles it into his shoulder – the fabric of her veil ruffling against her face – and hugs him tighter)
What have you done, Irsin? Tell me.
It won’t matter.
Ever since I first met you, I’ve felt something stirring inside me. In my heart. I can’t even begin to explain it… but there’s a connection between us, Irsin.
Between that, and the good man I’ve known you as, that’s all the faith I need.
But trust a broken, messed up Jedi— you’re not evil.
Remember, Jedi are supposed to know evil when they see it… and no jokes about how my eyes don’t work right…
I can see the good in you, love.
(Irsin sighs, then turns up towards her)
You always make me feel like more than I am, and want to be more still. I’m not sure how you do it, but you always do.
(He stretches up towards her, bringing his mouth to hers with intensity, but pulls away before too long)
I love you. Always.
(She kisses him back, somewhat breathless as he pulls away)
And I love you.
Now, no more talk of evils and threats— your food is going to get cold!
(She says this in a mock-scolding tone, then stands up fully again and walks around to her seat)
Oh, by the way: are you planning to work on your hacking project at all tonight?
(He laughs at her tone and takes another bite of the food)
I was thinking about it, but I didn’t want to spend time on that when you went to all this trouble for dinner. I can do that anytime.
Well, dinner won’t take that long – for starters, I didn’t get anything for dessert! – and the night is still young.
Besides, I want to help.
I want to get out of my head – and my sister’s head – for a while, and do some good work. Get my mind engaged. Of course, that’s if…
(She looks down and to the side a bit)
…if you think it would help.
I don’t think you’d get in the way, I just didn’t want to bore you. We don’t get much time to ourselves, after all. But I’d be happy to show you how some of it works, and you could definitely help.
Let’s finish dinner, though. Wouldn’t want this to go to waste, and food doesn’t mix well with electronics.
(Her head shoots back up when he says she could help, and she grins at him happily)
Trust me, love, you don’t bore me.
And if we hit a snag with the hacking, then we can do something else— we can just talk, we can polish off that bottle of Red Dwarf, whatever.
I just want to spend time with you. So let’s eat!
(Taking up her utensils again, Q’ayla redoubles her efforts to finish up her dinner. The two of them finish their dinner chatting and laughing periodically. Soon the plates of steaming food are empty, and the both of them lean back in their chairs)
That really was delicious Q’ayla. Thanks again for cooking. You can do that again anytime you want.
(Irsin stands up after a moment and heads for his desk to put things in some manner of order again)
So basically, I’m trying to re-create the interface with Doone’s computer by reverse engineering back from the security imprint I was able to pull out of his ship…
(Irsin explains at some length some of the more technical aspects about how his project works and the goal, and is almost excited to share how things work if Q’ayla chooses to ask at any point)
(Q’ayla is staring down at the pile of hardware on the desk, slowly nodding to herself)
I… think so.
So… you’re trying to trick Doone’s personal console into believing that you’re him? And he’s set up a whole bunch of security countermeasures, which you have to kill one at a time— or is it in unison?
Heh… you weren’t kidding, this is way beyond my skill with a computer. I mean, if Q’aleane is Beginner, and I’m Basic… you’re like Expert or something.
(She snorts lightly, shaking her head at the thought of it all. Irsin chuckles)
If you think I’m an expert… you would have been floored by Doone himself. It’s taken me weeks just to understand all the pieces here and approach it properly. In answer to your question, I’m not one-hundred percent sure…
I’m going on the assumption I need to authenticate in unison, because there are signs that if I attempt a true interface – as opposed to just a simulation – and get it wrong, there is some kind of fail-safe. Or, I guess, fail-safe to the fail-safe, to the fail-safe, to the fail-safe…
That being said, it’s nice just to talk about it out loud. Here, if you still want to help, it would save some time just to have an extra pair of hands for some of the hardware work.
(Irsin moves to sit down and organize where he was last; Q’ayla moves to Irsin’s side, starting to lean over and help)
Should I stand… where should I be?
There is fine, just put your hands… there, perfect. I just need you to hold that piece there while I solder these two components together here, here, and here.
(She holds the pieces in place as he works)
My veil’s not in the way, is it?
(He shakes his head, while focusing carefully on the plasma soldering tool’s point. Absently, he responds)
No, you’re fine…
(She grimaces slightly, then focuses more on holding the pieces. He finishes the three spots he indicated previously and stands up again, swapping the soldering tool for a different kind of tool)
Sorry for what?
(He asks, not seeming to notice the intervening time since she last spoke)
Oh, nothing… just didn’t want to distract you.
(She lets go of the now-soldered pieces)
Okay, what’s next?
Now we need to take these now-connected components and fabricate a component that will send the false retinal component. Basically, we’ll start with these three chips here, and some of those housing pieces over there
(He gestures at each piece as he mentions them)
I’ll create the basic housing first, and I’ll need you to slip the chips into the right spots when I tell you.
(She follows his gestures, examining each component in turn. Then, when he finishes explaining, she nods)
(She takes the first chip in hand)
I’m ready when you are.
(As he begins creating the housing component, she takes a few steps back to give him his space)
Irsin… I was wondering…
Does a Sith attune himself to the synthetic crystal inside his lightsaber?
(Irsin speaks absently for a moment)
Oh, lightsaber crystals. Yes, the Sith do attune to their crystals. I had to re-attune when I swapped out the crystal in my primary saber, for instance. It was rather odd that the crystal actually worked for that purpose given where I got it from, actually…
(He trails off)
Oh? Are your crystals not synth-crystals?
(Still focusing, Irsin answers without really thinking)
Well, my shoto is still the original synth-crystal, but my full saber is not. I found a crystal among my father’s belongings— in the locker where I got the bounty hunter suit, among other things. It produces a silvery-white light not altogether unlike the color used by the Imperial Knights, but it’s brighter and the blade has a different quality. I’ve no idea where he got it. It’s pretty rare for some random stone to work in a lightsaber, after all…
(Q’ayla listens intently)
…fascinating. And you’ve no indication of where it came from?
Well, listen, the reason I ask is…
Remember that saber-staff we found at the Praxeum? Well, when Yevra was fixing it, we ended up cannibalizing some of the parts from the other saber we found there. And since now that one won’t work, I removed the crystal as well. I think it’s Adegan, but I haven’t had a chance to examine it more closely. But it’s blue, and…
I was wondering if you’d be interested in exchanging it for the synth-crystal in your shoto?
(She trails off)
(Irsin sits up from his work, looking at her intently for the first time in the conversation)
You think it would be safer for me to use a different color blade?
(He seems genuinely asking the question, but there is a bit of an edge to his voice)
No, not that. Well, I mean, I suppose people do jump to certain conclusions when they see a red lightsaber. But that wasn’t what I was getting at. What I meant was…
…if you were interested in using the crystal, I was hoping that I could be there for the attuning and construction ritual.
The Jedi say, “Your lightsaber is your life,” probably just so Padawans won’t be careless with their weapons. But for me, the lightsaber is deeply personal. I think it reflects the wielder in a way— in attuning with the crystal, you become a part of it. And it a part of you. Creating my sabers is perhaps one of the most important parts of my life. And even just being there while Yevra fixed the saber-staff, it was an honor… To be there with you… for you…
(She smiles warmly at Irsin)
It would mean so much to me.
(Irsin hesitates. He seems conflicted)
I very much appreciate what you’re offering, and I’m honored that you’d ask. If I were to do something like that, I would like you to be there— though I might ask how it is you Jedi perform your attuning. For the Sith, it is much less of a ritual. Often your first saber isn’t even constructed by you, it comes from your master. That being said… I’m not sure about giving people the impression that I’m a Jedi, which is what a blue blade will mean to most. Silver keeps me ambiguous; Jedi don’t have silver blades, and neither do Sith. But blue would be putting on a face I never earned, and perhaps never wanted. I’ll have to consider it, but know that if I move forward, I would absolutely want to share that with you. Truly.
(She looks a little disappointed, but recovers quickly by rambling through a response)
I mean, yeah, I understand. You wouldn’t want to be associated with the Jedi— I get that. And yeah, for a Jedi the first saber is also usually given by the master; it’s the Knight saber that’s created by the wielder. There is a lot of ritual involved, but… well, never mind. No, I understand… I’ll just hold onto it then. Maybe one of mine will break at some point, and then hey, you know, I’ve got a spare crystal—
Anyways, don’t worry about it, it was silly. I should have thought before speaking. Let’s get back to work then?
(He catches her arm as she turns back)
I’m not saying no. And it’s not necessarily that I “don’t want to associate with the Jedi.” Which also has nothing to do with my desire to associate with you even if that’s what I did mean, by the way. It’s that for the Jedi, the lightsaber is as much a badge of office as anything they have. Like it or not, the public sees a blue saber, and they make certain judgments, for good or ill. Truthfully, much as I disdain many of the Jedi’s methods and attitudes, I respect the trappings of their order enough to hesitate before I impersonate something I am not. I need to think about it. It’s a good idea, and not just for the emotional reasons, but for practical ones too. I just need a bit to think on it, okay?
(She nods at him, mustering up a smile)
Come to think of it, though, you’re right. Maybe I need to find a new crystal for my second saber as well, seeing as I won’t be a Jedi much longer…
But I’ll worry about that when it comes. I may end up with no sabers at all after the trip back to Taris— then it won’t matter, I guess.
So, where were we? I hope I didn’t break your concentration too much over all of this.
(He squeezes her arm once before letting go)
I hope if you decide to leave the Order that you don’t let them take something so personal to you as your lightsabers. They’re part of you after all. And they didn’t make them.
(He turns back to the work. They work back and forth for some time, him directing, her needing less and less direction as they progress. They make quick work of the pieces he was working with. After awhile, he straightens from his perpetually bent position)
Oh… that hurts. I need a drink. You?
(He asks moving towards the bottle of Red Dwarf. She arcs her back and stretches her arms up over her head)
Man… this is really hard. And time-consuming. I don’t know how you can keep at this—
(She cringes as soon as the words come out of her mouth)
Sorry, love. I know exactly how you can keep at this.
(She shakes her head)
I definitely need that drink.
(Irsin smiles slightly, pouring her a drink and handing it to her; then, pouring one for himself, he raises the cup)
To quiet time together.
(She takes the cup)
(She takes a long drink; then, taking her drink with her, she walks over to Irsin’s bed and sits down on the edge)
So, how much did we accomplish tonight? We’ve got to be pretty close now, right— after all, I was helping!
(Irsin chuckles and comes over to sit nearby)
Not much left actually. Only perhaps another half-day of work, maybe less all things considered.
(He empties his cup in a long pull)
I don’t supposed you’d like to… stay here tonight? Without passing out?
(He says the last with a grin; Q’ayla’s smile slowly turns to a somewhat nervous grin)
Without passing out, even? Why Mister Rashos, you are quite the gentleman.
(She leans in and kisses him deeply, then draws away and finishes her drink in one go)
I would love to.
(Now, more seriously, and more self-consciously)
It’s just… I don’t… I mean… I’ve never…
(She’s slightly fidgety and, it seems, at a loss for words)
(Irsin coughs slightly)
I didn’t mean to imply…
I only meant whether you’d just like to be here… just be here for the night.
(Her lips press together, and she places the palm of her hand against her forehead)
I knew that.
(She is most definitely blushing)
My gods… what a day.
(She takes her hand away from her head and turns to him again)
I’m so sorry, Irsin. Yes, I would very much like to spend the night here with you. In fact, I should probably just lie down right now.
…Well, maybe after one more drink.
(Irsin laughs, full and throaty, letting it roll out in waves. After a moment he stands and gets the bottle, pouring her a somewhat smaller drink than the first)
You are a wonder. I love you.
(He pours a small additional drink for himself as well, then makes his way around to shut off the lights)
(She downs the drink at once, then unclasps her boots and slides them off, pushing herself down the bed to lay her head against a pillow)
I love you too, Irsin. I owe you everything, and I thank you for accepting me as the airhead school-girl that I sometimes am.
(She lets out a light laugh, and rolls over onto her side to wait for him; he flips the lights and heads to his side of the bed, pulling his boots off. As he smiles, he says)
I do what I can.
Good night, Q’ayla.
Good night, Irsin. Sleep well.
(Contented by the feeling of Irsin near her, Q’ayla quickly checks in on her sister one last time; things appearing “normal,” she closes off her vision and searches for sleep)