(In the hallway outside of Irsin and Yevra’s makeshift quarters, Q’ayla quietly paces. Every once and a while, she pauses at the door, considering something, then shakes her head and keeps walking. After about ten minutes of this, she approaches the door, takes a deep breath, and knocks)
Irsin, are you in there? Can I come in?
(Irsin sits on the pallet reading a report of some kind. He seems surprised to hear Q’ayla outside the door, and then seems surprised that he was surprised. He hadn’t realized he’d been ignoring the bond with her during the day)
Q’ayla? Of course, please come in.
(The door opens and she walks in somewhat hurriedly, then stands just inside the room awkwardly)
Do you have a minute? We need to talk.
That sounded bad, didn’t it? That’s what people always say when… well never mind that, then. But still, we need to talk. I feel like things went unsaid this morning. I don’t like feeling the way I did today, keeping this distance from you.
(She advances a couple of steps)
What’s wrong, Irsin? What happened?
(Irsin seems to think for a moment before setting aside his datapad. He looks down, seeming to have difficulty meeting her eyes)
I…it was a nightmare— I know it isn’t real…
(He says this in a rush as if trying to stave off interruption)
…but I couldn’t just shake it off like I usually do. It hit a nerve, one which seems all too common in my past. And it involved you, which leaves me without someone to talk to about it, something I’ve quickly come to rely on again.
…Anyways, I’ll get over it – eventually. I’m just having some trouble with it is all. I’m sorry.
(Q’ayla listens intently, taking a few more steps closer to him before he says he doesn’t have anyone to talk to about his nightmare; at that, she stops in her tracks and tilts her head slightly. After he finishes, she speaks up)
…Why can’t you talk with me about it?
I was in your last nightmare too, remember? But it was talking about it that helped get you through it. What’s different this time? Have I done something— said something to upset you?
(She seems to want to come closer, but she holds herself back. Irsin sighs)
It was different. Before, I harmed you… I’m used to having dark thoughts about my own actions, or actions I could take. This time…
(He trails off, seeming to have difficulty continuing)
This time you hurt me…
(She gasps audibly)
Irsin, I would never hurt you. You’ve got to believe me. I don’t care what you saw in your nightmare, no matter what happened.
Why… why would I hurt you?
(It’s clear she’s deeply troubled by what he’s said)
I don’t know… even now it doesn’t make sense. And yet it claws at my worst fears, digs at my paranoia and my past.
(His voice lowers almost as though he’s talking to himself. She realizes he’s reliving the memory and just happens to be vocalizing it, and perhaps he’s done this several, perhaps many times since last night)
You wanted power, thought I was weak. Grale offered you a way… and you took it, and perhaps you should… And like a true Sith, you waited until the opportune moment to reveal it all to me, until my guard was down… my hand raised in victory, before you slipped the knife between my ribs. I should have known… and yet somehow I never expected… never fathomed… thought we had done something true, something worthy… but it had all been a lie…
(He falls silent continuing to mutter, but she can no longer hear him)
So… I betrayed you. The worst possible sin…
(She turns away from him, not able to cross the remaining distance to him)
…Do you really think it will come to that, Irsin? I’m—
I don’t know what to do, love. I’m frightened.
(She holds herself. He seems to startle at her voice, and then slowly realizes what he said aloud. He gets halfway to her before he stops himself, seeming torn between wanting to comfort her and not knowing if he should be the one to do so)
I don’t think it will come to that, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. Afraid of how deep and how fast we have become connected. How in some ways it almost seems too good to be true. My own experience tells me it must be, and keeps looking for reasons why it is. I… could never truly believe you would betray me…
I couldn’t. But I’m afraid of it. I don’t even know if that makes any sense, but it is nonetheless the truth.
(He falls silent again… not sure what else to say. When he says he’s afraid, he’ll see a perceptible nod from her)
I’m afraid too.
I’m terrified that these nightmares we’re having are prophetic. The Jedi say that the future is always in motion, and that we must not rely on prophetic visions to guide our actions. But then… the Jedi have said a lot of things, haven’t they?
It seems like we, and what’s happening to us, are like puzzle pieces waiting to be played. I don’t even know who I’m going to be when this is all over. We’re inching ever closer to the fight of our lives against the Nightsisters and…
What’s going to happen in that battle, Irsin? What strength and power is going to be unleashed from me as a result of the bargain I made with Bogan? And who will I be after that? You say that in your nightmare, I wanted power. That’s not entirely false…
Just like how we found Q’aleane and that rancor after I dreamed about them.
I… I don’t want to be a Sith. And I would never accept anything offered to me by Grale. But what about six months from now? If we’re even alive six months from now—
I don’t feel like I have control anymore. Being a Jedi… that’s what I’ve always had for focus and control. But now that’s going to go away. And the Force will catch me up and drag me away to the stars. And I’m frightened by that.
I frighten myself sometimes.
(He seems to be unable to hold himself back any longer and closes the gap remaining between them, folding her into an embrace)
I didn’t want to burden you with this. It’s not you, it’s my own fears and irrational paranoia. This is one reason why I didn’t come to you sooner— You doubt yourself enough already without my adding to it. I will get through this, and by the Immortal Gods if I die for it, then so be it. Life has had color again for the first time in years for me, and I won’t let that go. Not even to save myself. Whether we stand on our own, or are dragged to the stars, at least we’ll do it without losing that.
(She allows herself to fall back into him, and as he finishes, her shoulders start to shake as she starts to break down)
I’m… just so scared, Irsin. What’s going to happen to us? I’ve changed so much, so fast. My skin gets pale, and I have to try so hard to keep that from happening. And Q’aleane keeps mentioning something about my eyes too, though I haven’t remembered to look at them… I’m changing— visibly changing.
And that’s just the outside.
…What will happen to me out there, in the jungle, tomorrow or the next day, or the next day? It’s coming…
It’s coming and it’s necessary! Because I have to save us from this nightmare we’ve been living inside. This place is death, and I have to get us out. Even if it means losing more and more of myself in the process…
Gods… I’ve even started thinking that maybe, once this is all over…
…Maybe I should give myself over to the Jedi. It may be safer…
Especially hearing about your nightmare… Gods, Irsin! I would die if I ever betrayed you…
(She reaches up, removing her visor and tossing it away onto the nearby cot; as the tears really start to flow, she turns and buries her face into Irsin’s chest. He simply holds her for a long time, waiting for her to cry herself out as much as she needs to. He stands and waits until it slows, and then in a low voice:)
It isn’t up to just you Q’ayla. We’re all in this together— all of us. You don’t deserve recrimination for living through a nightmare, any more than I do for having them. And you certainly don’t deserve recrimination for the problems you have faced. The Jedi have no idea how to handle these things. It’s why you were unprepared in the first place. All I know is that this isn’t about one of us or any of us. It’s about all of us, and how we make our way from here.
I promise you I will never believe something like this of you, if you promise to never believe it of yourself. That’s all I ask.
(As he speaks, she continues to come down from the hard crying, still sobbing and gasping a little bit at a time)
I don’t know that I can promise that, Irsin.
I want to. Believe me, I do. But there’s a part of me that’s watching the pieces fall into place. I’m not sure that I believe that the future is in motion anymore. I feel like I keep seeing it in my dreaming eyes.
I’ve been uneasy about Yevra and the crown that Barukka created— with our help. I don’t want her connected to Master Darach while he’s… whatever he is right now. And in my nightmares… I keep having to kill her. This most recent time, she had struck you down with her saber but…
We had been hunting you. I don’t know why. I can’t remember, or even if there was something to remember. All I know is that when it happened, I snapped.
And I killed her. But not just that.
I was like an animal. And I killed her like an animal.
But always in these nightmares there’s that green glow of power. And that’s real.
I want to believe what you’re telling me. I just don’t think I can.
(Her skin is obviously pale, and when she looks up at Irsin with tears still swelling in eyes filled with the dark side, it’s unmistakable— this feeling of helpless and loss in her voice and her heart. He grips her by the shoulders, almost shaking her and he speaks)
Q’ayla you have to listen to me: You can’t let that feeling of helplessness win. That is how the dark side gets you, by making you feel like it’s the only way left to you… by manipulating you until you feel like you have nothing left but to accept what you think is your fate.
Believe me. I know.
But you have to understand, it isn’t that way at all. Anyone can find redemption. Anyone. At any time. All it takes is a reason. Something worth fighting for. Something worth standing up for.
For me you were that reason, continue to be that reason. The reason I keep coming back and hoping that I can find my way to being a better person, a better man. So I can show you it is possible, and so I can show you I am what you have always believed me to be without cause.
But I can’t do that if you’re letting yourself go. I need you to believe you have hope, that the future isn’t fixed, and that these blasted nightmares we’re both having are just that and nothing more. Products of our fear and this damned planet feeding off them. You have to believe, I can’t do that part for you. But I’m waiting here, with my hand out…
…Waiting for you to take it.
(She keeps looking into his eyes, and she smiles at his words, but it is somehow both a happy and a sad smile at the same time)
“By making you feel like it’s the only way left to you…”
(She says more to herself, just repeating Irsin’s own words)
Isn’t it, though? Isn’t this the only way now? I remember what he told me…
“You have begun to see the true face of what you oppose. You have started to understand the force arrayed against you. Your sister will not be able to talk your enemies away. And you are not strong enough to defeat them.”
I am not strong enough to defeat them.
But I will be. And there’s only one path to that.
(She raises a hand up and gently caresses the side of his face)
…so wonderful. You are everything I know you are.
(She laughs quietly to herself)
Maybe that’s what I’ve been able to give you. Maybe I’m taking all the hurt and the pain and the struggle that you’ve had to live with, and I’m taking on that burden from you.
(She smirks a little, but her voice is filled with resignation)
Maybe Bogan has a sense of humor…
(He recoils from her at this)
I won’t let you do that. Not even if you could. No one should live through what I have. Least of all you. I won’t have my past being visited upon you.
I won’t, Q’ayla.
I don’t ask you for much. But I’m asking you now. I ask you to try and believe that this is not an ending but a beginning. That no matter what deals we have struck to survive this ordeal, we will make it to the other side and be stronger for it. Stronger and ready to build a new life and a new path together. We can’t do that if you give up. I can’t’ do that… if you give up.
(She leans in a gently kisses his cheek)
Don’t worry about that, Irsin. I’ve still got a lot to do here before all this is over. I can’t give up.
But I’ll try. I’ll try and do what you ask of me. I don’t see the light yet. Dathomir isn’t the end of my troubles.
(She wipes away some tears and takes a deep breath, trying to better compose herself)
Can you tell me something? Is there something wrong with my eyes? I know they don’t “work,” but that’s not what I mean. Q’aleane keeps saying there’s something “off” about them. Please, tell me.
(Irsin seems to be brought up short with the question and he seems to hesitate before answering)
Q’ayla, understand that it means nothing except that you war with a power greater than yourself. It is not proof of anything, except what we already knew: that you, like me I might add, are on a path of recovery from your life, and the damage this place has done to you.
Your eyes are… clouded with the yellow tinge that marks a dark side user. I too have it when I channel dark side energies. It happens to all of us sooner or later when we use the dark side. But it means nothing on its own, and some people demonstrate it simply when they have brushed the surface as you have. Others take years. It will be ok, I promise.
(She reaches a hand up and touches around her eyes, as though feeling for some indication of the change. In that moment, she doesn’t appear to be staring at anything, and anyone looking at her might mistake her for someone actually blind. For several moments she just stands there, touching at her face in vain)
(She looks down at her arm, noticing the “paleness” of it in the Force)
My skin is pale too, isn’t it?
This is the first time with the eyes, though.
And I didn’t even do anything today.
And have a nightmare.
…Could that have done this?
(Her voice is empty; she sounds a great deal like her sister, methodically going through available data. Irsin looks tentative)
Honestly if I had to guess, it probably happened at the same time as when your skin started doing what it does. When you made your bargain. But since you wear a visor it just hasn’t been apparent before now. I assure you, it really does mean nothing.
(He tries to pull her into a hug. She doesn’t resist him, and so allows herself to be embraced. She keeps going on, though)
Have I really not gone without my visor since then…?
So does this only happen when I’m upset, like with the skin?
I’m trying to think about when Q’aleane mentioned it to me…
Most recently today, but I was pretty upset about the nightmare…
And she said something a couple of days ago, but that feels like ages with all that’s been going on…
“Marks a dark side user…”
Is that what I am now?
I came here a Jedi— a guardian of peace and justice, and now I’m a Dark Side User…
Is it really so simple?
I mean, I did kill someone in cold blood.
And I did make a deal with Bogan…
That isn’t nothing, Q’ayla…
(She sounds tired; methodical, emotionless, and tired)
Another puzzle piece drops into place…
No. It’s not that simple. Not even close. All it means is what you already know. You made a deal with the Fanged God. It came with a price. But that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. You are no worse of a person than I, and together we can dig out of this.
…Please, Q’ayla. Don’t make me beg for you to stop falling in despair…
(He seems to be losing his composure… her being this upset clearly rattles him. She presses her forehead into his chest, and brings her arms up under his, gripping his shoulders)
It’s just too much, you know…?
I like to think I was well prepared to deal with the wider galaxy as a Jedi Knight. I’m not. I’m going to be twenty-six this year, and right now I feel like a kid. In over my head— Despite the fact that we just did something extraordinary the past couple of days.
We united these people. Or, at least, helped. When I’m out there, doing, being a Jedi, I guess I don’t think about it all so much. But I’m only pretending really. You know that now. And Q’aleane knows it…
I’m trying, Irsin. I’m really trying. But each day here, and each morning waking in a scream… it’s taking its toll on me. Hold me.
Please, just hold me.
(He obliges her)
I know it’s hard. I feel lost lately too – in many ways. But I have to believe it will get better. I just want you to see that too.
(She nods into his chest somewhat forcefully)
I came in here to find out what was wrong with you, and then all we’ve done is talk about me. I hate to keep being so selfish like that. I know that things have been so hard for both of us lately…
(She indicates towards the cot with her head)
Here… Can we go lie down for a while?
I’ll hold you, and you can tell me about everything that’s on your mind.
Then you can hold me and tell me about how things are going to be when we get off this rock.
(He smiles for the first time in the conversation)
That sounds… wonderful.