(Irsin kneels alone in his quarters, his forehead beaded with perspiration, dressed in a pair of loose fitting pants and no shirt. Around him, virtually every object in his room not attached to the bulkhead spins through the air in an elaborate pattern. The objects seem to chase each other, dance around each other soaring through the air ducking and diving. His face is set but not straining. This is clearly something he has practiced, both the pattern and the tempo. His brow furrows slightly as the pace of the swirling quickens, and one corner of his mouth twitches in a half smile as he adds one more object than he has done before)
(Q’ayla exits the lift and heads in the direction of Irsin’s room. She arrives at the door ready to knock, but pauses with her hand just before the door. She opens her mind to Irsin, taking note of his emotional state— she feels determination, concentration, satisfaction. She lets her hand drop, knowing that he’s likely in the middle of something. She takes a step back from the door and turns as though she might leave. Her hands move to her veil, and she adjusts it yet again – almost taking it off but deciding against that – then she forces her hands down and stretches her arms down at her sides. She looks back at the door, then turns in the direction of the lift… finally after minutes of indecision, she walks back to the door and, hesitantly, gently knocks on the door)
(Irsin almost doesn’t hear the soft knock at the door, focused as he is; when the sound permeates, however, the objects in the room all freeze in place and Irsin opens his eyes)
(Irsin seems startled to realize that it’s Q’ayla, and notices for the first time her presence on the other side of the doorway. He seems suddenly frazzled and the objects in the air all seem to clatter to the ground at once as he realizes he’s sweaty and half dressed when she’s coming to see him. The noise to Q’ayla sounds like he’s kicked everything in his room off the shelves at once. He scrambles around his room trying to put everything back in place, some of it using the Force, others with his physical hands. He calls out hurriedly, sounding out of breath)
Just a minute!
(Q’ayla leans her ear towards the door after calling out to Irsin, and the sudden crashing sounds coming from his room cause her to jump back from the door— she barely stifles a quick yelp. When she hears him call out again, she approaches the door again, this time even more hesitantly)
Is… everything all right in there? Are you okay?
(Irsin is running around his room cleaning and straightening up. He finishes putting most things away and goes to open the door before he remembers that he’s not fully dressed and starts to groan. He unlocks the door letting Q’ayla come inside)
Sorry about that, I was practicing and…
(He trails off as he gets a look at her. His brow is still glistening and his red skin and tattoos stand out in stark contrast to her simple but stunning attire. He doesn’t seem to be sure how to respond. She’s standing in the doorway with a quizzical look on her face. She shifts slightly to look past him into the room for a quick moment, then goes back to looking at him— an advantage of her veil is that he can’t see her looking him over as she speaks)
…and I interrupted, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I shouldn’t just assume you’re sitting around doing nothing, right?
…But I can come in, right?
(She gives him a sly smile and shakes her head a little at the whole situation. He seems to sort of shake himself and comes back to his senses a bit)
Yes! Yes, of course. Please, do come in. I was going to say that I got a bit ahead of myself it seems, I lost control of the spiral, had to clean it up.
(He eyes her up and down a bit more boldly than he normally does)
From the looks of things I should go clean up. Can I offer you a drink before I step into the refresher?
(She looks a little confused at first)
From the looks of things…?
Oh— you mean me?
(She laughs a little)
…no, no, I’ll get something for myself, why don’t you take care of this?
(She punctuates the questions with a playful jab of her finger against his chest. He laughs easily, leaning down and kissing her briefly)
As my lady commands…
(He says this with an elaborate bow before stepping into the refresher and closing the door. Q’ayla walks around the room a little, occasionally kicking into something still grounded from Irsin’s exercise. She picks up a stray soldering tool and sets it down on his desk in a place that at least looks appropriate)
Say, do you have any more of that Red Dwarf?
(She calls out to him over the sound of the refresher; then, quieter and more to herself)
I think I may need one…
(Spitting out a mouthful of water he calls)
Yeah there’s enough for a few more drams, try the top drawer of my desk.
(She nods at him, or the direction of the refresher at least, then moves to his desk, opening the top drawer. As predicted, the bottle of red liquid is inside, and as predicted, it is running a little low. She removes it from the drawer and then begins scrounging around for glasses; thankfully, they are more easily discovered. She sets the bottle and the two glasses down on the edge of the desk then walks back towards the refresher)
You mentioned “the spiral”— were you doing Force exercises? I really am sorry for disturbing your meditations, by the way!
Yes it was an exercise my old Imperial Knight master taught me.
(He seems to pause for a moment, and Q’ayla feels a small spike of regret before he smothers it)
Most on Kesh thought it ridiculous and a waste of time, but I have found few things that help me focus my mind as well as it, while stretching my limits in the Force… without say, destroying the room around me.
(He mutters to himself)
At least, usually…
(She looks back over the room)
Oh, I don’t know, the room looks pretty much the same to me!
(Her tone is teasing; however, Irsin can tell in their bond that Q’ayla is actually a bit of an emotional melting pot at the moment— genuinely happy, terrified, excited, panicky, spunky. Under all of that, though, he senses something below the surface, but it’s difficult to define)
So the Sith allowed you to keep performing your Knight meditations? I’m surprised at that; I figured they’d want to drive that out of you…
Oh I don’t know, I’m not sure “let” is the right word—
(The refresher switches off mid-sentence and his voice seems too loud for a minute)
I suppose it would be more accurate that most didn’t know I used it. I kept it mostly to myself, but the masters disapproved. They can’t watch you all the time though…
(There’s a rustle of cloth as he towels off, and then dresses, his voice muffled as he pulls on a shirt. Shortly after, the door opens)
So how about that drink, eh?
(She smiles when she sees him, a big toothy grin, and she rushes over and gives him a quick kiss before hurrying to the desk. She picks up the Red Dwarf bottle in one hand and the two glasses in the other and holds them up to Irsin)
Got’em! Here, why don’t you pour? I don’t want to use up all your drink.
(She holds the bottle and glasses out to him; he laughs)
I’ve barely touched the stuff since our last night with it. What’s the point of having a thing if you don’t enjoy it?
(He takes the bottle and pours both glasses to a healthy level, emptying the bottle)
We’ll be off this rock soon and I can get some more anyway.
(He raises his glass to her)
So what’s the occasion?
(She holds her glass, looking at it for a bit)
How about… the eve of battle?
(Her face scrunches a bit at that)
No, no… that won’t do…
(Suddenly, her face brightens)
What about us?
(She gently taps the glass against his)
Here’s to us.
(He nods and drinks deeply from his glass)
As good a toast as I’ve ever had.
(He seems to hesitate)
…is that why you’re all dressed up?
(He clearly wore the nicest clothes he has, a simple but well-kept tunic, trimmed with silver, and matching pants. She smiles)
Is that what I am?
This isn’t really fancy…
(Even though her tone remains bright, she seems genuinely sad at that)
No… I, uh… I mean, yeah, I got “dressed up” to come and see you. It’s just that… you know, tomorrow is— that is to say, we’re going to be…
(She’s fumbling through her thoughts; remembering she has the drink in her hand, she shuts herself up and occupies herself with a somewhat long draw)
Ahh, that is good stuff… So… uh… you got dressed up too, huh? If only there was someplace other than jungle to go out to on a night like this…
(She’s only doing mildly better by shifting the conversation back to him. He studies her both through their bond and with his eyes, trying to pierce something)
You’re nervous… why are you nervous? Are we not comfortable with each other yet?
(She looks away from him, blushing)
No… it’s not that…
(She takes another quick drink)
Come on— you’re putting me on the spot!
This isn’t easy, you know? It’s different thinking about it— talking about it with you right here!
(She walks up to him and rests her forehead against his chest with a thud)
I am a Jedi, after all…
…what would I know about this kind of thing?
(He seems confused, trying to puzzle out what she means for a long moment, then something seems to cross his face)
(He seems taken off guard at first but quickly recovers)
Q’ayla… you know I don’t expect you to do anything you aren’t ready for…
(She nods into his chest)
(She takes a step back, sipping back the last of her drink, before walking to the desk and placing her glass on it. She stands with her back to him)
…I don’t think I can afford to—
That is… I don’t think I can wait any longer.
(He can feel her pressing down on that emotion just below the surface, willing herself to embrace the happier emotions)
I… I took a long time getting ready tonight. I don’t know that I’d call it “dressed up,” but I did want to look nice for you, Irsin. I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days, and I—
(She’s not exactly sure how to put the words together)
I… want to… be with you, love.
(He nods slowly seeming to understand. Finishing his drink slowly and deliberately, he sets the cup down on the table next to him. He comes up slowly behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders and speaking softly behind her)
I want you to know that tomorrow won’t change anything between us. Nothing is going to take this away from me. Nothing. I have worked too hard— fought too long. Looked too much, trying to find something that made sense, something that made me feel alive again. I’m not giving it up. Not for the Fanged God himself. If I have to spit in his eye and cut out his very heart…
…I will not lose you. Not even if you seek to try and lose yourself.
(He speaks with a heat and a fire that she has rarely heard from him, at least directed at her. His love and his emotion are coming off him through the bond in waves, powerful and steady. He means it, every word)
I love you, and I will always want to be with you. Always.
(She turns around and buries herself in his chest, wrapping her arms around his waist)
I love you too, Irsin.
It’s just— I…
I had… this whole thing planned out in my head…
I wanted tonight to just be about us…
I wanted everything to be perfect…
(She leans back from his chest and brings her hands up to her veil. She unclasps it in the back and lets it fall to the floor between them; she looks up at him, and her eyes look perfectly normal— not filled with the dark side, or even swirling clouds. Her irises are a pale blue color, like a summer’s day. Everything seems perfectly normal)
(Her emotions are roiling; the feelings she’s buried are starting to bubble. He smiles at her, knowing how hard this must be for her to maintain)
Q’ayla, it is about us. And it is perfect. I can’t imagine a more perfect night— me making a fool of myself, you being as beautiful as ever. But you don’t need to force it to be perfect. It just is. It doesn’t need to be choreographed. It just is.
And so are we.
(Tears start to well-up in those new, blue eyes)
…I want you to have this.
(She closes her eyes tightly, forcing a few new tears down her cheeks; when she opens her eyes again, they’ve returned to their “normal” state, swirling yellows and reds)
Not this one…
Or… I… tomorrow…
(She slams her eyes closed again, and brings her hands up to her face quickly and deliberately, wiping away her tears somewhat aggressively. She opens her eyes again – they have not changed)
(She takes a deep breath)
No. Tonight isn’t about all of that. Not about tomorrow, nor the next day. Tonight is just tonight. And it’s just us. Regardless of what I give out there, I want— no, I need to… with you here. I owe you that much, at least, Irsin.
(Irsin takes a slow breath, and pulls her close against him)
I wasn’t saying no. I wasn’t pushing you away. I was trying to help you see how priceless each moment is. If there’s one thing that the Sith know, and the Jedi don’t seem to…
It’s that it matters to live for now. This moment. This time. Right now, it’s important. It’s more important than anything else because it’s real, it’s immediate, it’s present. Living for tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that…
It’s an illusion.
It’s a maybe.
It’s a hope.
Now is the only thing that’s real. Now is all that matters. I’m not letting you go. Now now.
(He tilts her head up so he can look into her eyes, and he doesn’t so much as flinch)
You hear me?
(And he lowers his lips to hers, trying to crush her doubt and self-recrimination in his embrace. Q’ayla opens her mouth to respond but is immediately caught up in a passionate embrace; she actually lets out a muffled yelp of surprise before melting into Irsin. After several moments the kiss ends, and she keeps looking at him)
It’s funny… I’ve always been good at living in the moment. At the academy there was always some task to focus on, some class or debate or discussion going on, something to train on, you know? In fact, as far as the future was concerned, I only ever considered being a Battlemaster. But ever since I met you and Vergere, and we all came to this place…
I can’t stop thinking about what’s going to happen in the future— will we all die here? And even if we don’t, what waits for us when we leave? What will happen with the Jedi? With the Sith? With our quest?
…I find that I care more about the future because, for the first time in my whole life, I actually feel like I have a future. Something beyond myself and the Order. I have you. And I think about what will happen to us in the future. I care about you so much, Irsin, and I want to keep you safe. I never knew I could care about someone like this, and be so passionate about keeping them close to me.
…I don’t know how you still manage to live solely in the moment, love…
…Sometimes I wish I could go back to that too.
But I just don’t know anymore… life has changed me. More than I ever thought it would.
(He smiles, a brilliant, true, full smile, and his expression carries with it the peace of understanding)
Ahh but don’t you see, Q’ayla? I live in the moment because I have you. Because the thought of missing one moment, of letting a breath pass that I don’t appreciate, take notice of, and cherish when it occurs, it’s intolerable. I can’t let any moment go by without living it, because tomorrow it might all be gone. Even without this blasted planet, without everything we face tomorrow, we live dangerous lives. This I have learned over and over. We walk a knife’s edge every day, between complete victory and crushing total defeat. At any moment we could find we aren’t as strong as we thought we were, we didn’t prepare as much as we anticipated.
It could end, at any time.
For this I am at peace. I have no regrets. I might regret some actions I have taken, in the past, but I long ago gave up the pretense that I’d ever be able to undo those actions. What is done is done. And if I spend all my time thinking about what may be, what could be, I will fail to live and enjoy what is.
Life has changed all of us. If you asked me a few months ago whether I thought I’d be in love with a Jedi? I’d have laughed at you. If you had asked me fifteen years ago if I thought I’d end a student of the Sith? I’d have challenged you for the insult. Nothing happens as we plan, but every moment is worth living…
…even the painful ones. Otherwise the lessons they teach cannot be fully learned.
(When he mentions laughing at the idea of loving a Jedi, Q’ayla laughs a little, keeping the wide, toothy smile and nodding in understanding. Throughout, though, she seems totally enthralled by what he’s saying, as though he’s imparting the great wisdom of the galaxy to her. When he finishes, she wraps her arms around his waist and pulls him close, turning and resting her head on his chest. She speaks quietly, and thoughtfully…)
…Why couldn’t you have been a Jedi Master, Irsin?
You can imagine how much I’ve been thinking about my time at the academy lately… and it seems to me like Master Tahl and all the others, they were speaking over me— to the me they were sculpting in their own image. But you…
…you speak to the real me. The me I’ve always been. The me I’ve had to keep hidden from them, because that me wasn’t right. I’ve been spending so much time worrying about what will happen out there tomorrow… I fear I haven’t been appreciating all of these moments in between…
Whatever happens out there, whatever choices we make, we’ll still be ourselves afterwards. Changed? Maybe. But I’ll still be Q’ayla, and if you’re willing to love that Q’ayla too…
…then it doesn’t matter. I’ll be okay.
(She leans up and kisses him tenderly)
I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t merely want to accept life as it comes. I want to be at peace. And I want to be with you, Irsin.
(When she mentions the idea of him being a Jedi Master, Irsin raises an eyebrow with an odd mix of amusement at her and something else… annoyance towards the order? Contempt? Whatever it is seems to fade quickly. However, near the end of her speech, as his smile slowly returns and he holds her happily, his body suddenly stiffens and his face becomes a mask almost as though he was slapped)
Peace is a lie.
(The words come to his lips, unbidden, but he seems unable to prevent them from coming out)
Passion is what brought us together, not peace. Our path forward isn’t about peace, but life. Life is inherently violent. Flashing. Burning brightly. I want to be with you Q’ayla. But not for peace. For life, for passion.
(Abruptly he seems to realize what he was saying and lets any next words die on lips, falling silent. Then slowly and quietly, without the edge that had crept into his voice a moment before)
Are you afraid of your passion?
(She feels the change in him just before he speaks, and she moves to head to look up at him. As he speaks, though, her expression changes— where she was finding some measure of contentment, now she seems concerned, or perhaps just confused. They stare intently at each other as he asks the last question, and she’s caught off guard. Her mouth opens to speak, but it takes her a moment to form the answer)
(Almost urgently he asks)
Why? What are you afraid of?
(Her eyes shift, breaking their gaze momentarily)
I’m… I mean… I’m afraid of what I might do because of it. Of what I’ve already done because of it.
(He seems to shake his head slightly)
But look at what it has also brought you? Every terrible thing in our lives isn’t as a result of our emotions. Emotions are just how we respond to them— how we react, learn, and gain strength from the trials we endure. We cannot fear the future anymore than we should live for it. Right?
(She nods slightly, looking down)
You’re right. I know you are. And, regardless of what has or will happen, I am a passionate person. I’ve just never been able to embrace that. I’ve been acting for so long that sometimes it’s hard to remember which is real.
(He seems to relax, as though he was afraid he would hear something different)
I know it is hard to let yourself embrace that which makes you strong and unique when you have been told your whole life that it is wrong. But you can’t let those fears control you anymore. They aren’t your own, they were someone else’s and they were forced upon you. Now is the time to stretch your wings, and rediscover who you really are.
And I will be there every step of the way to help.
(She raises her eyes to him again, and there’s warmth in them)
Thank you, Irsin.
I can’t promise that I’ll be able to let go of all of this all at once. I won’t lie— there’s still a part of me that’s terrified about the immediate future. But I’ll do the best I can. That’s all I can ever promise…
…But right now – tonight – I’m living for the moment. This moment here.
(She releases her hug and wraps her arms up around his shoulders)
Now… I guess the only question is… are you going to let this moment go to waste?
(She smiles at him— at once mischievous and loving, nervous and excited. He grins broadly right back before bending down to fold her into another embrace, one he doesn’t intend to release anytime soon, and says)
Not in a million parsecs.
(As things progress between them, Irsin, with a flick of his hand, reaches out with the Force and turns off the lights)