Friday, December 08, 2006

A Rose by Any Other

She sat by his bedside, holding his hand, slipping sips of broth between his cracked lips.

How many nights had she done this? How many days had she been working herself to the bone in the Cantina, then coming back here to care for her ersatz patient? Had she been getting any sleep?

The better question was, did she care? The answer, no. Not even a little.

This stranger had become the focus of Maya's world. She didn't know why, but he'd managed to slip into her waking thoughts and make himself too important to leave behind, even for a few hours. She kept coming back to this room, holding him and soothing him, washing and feeding, caring for him like a mother with a sick child.

Of course, her thoughts were not always so matronly. Part of her hadn't been able to ignore the man for his masculinity. He wasn't muscular in the sense of a "big" man nor was he particularly imposing physically, yet he was so much more a man than anyone she'd ever seen in her life. The two times he'd been awake, this stranger had been more imposing than anyone else she'd seen.

She'd been on Hoth when the Imperials attacked. She'd been ten feet from the dark strides of the Lord of the Sith. Her escape from that place had come only at the sacrifice of a Rebel squad and their fruitless assault. Maya had run that day, leaving them to die at Vader's merciless, black gloved hands. It was a memory she wasn't proud of, but it came to her now nonetheless.

Why did she always think about troubling things when she was around this man? She lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it again, wishing something she did could rouse him from his endless slumber. He wasn't in a coma; she'd already checked his vitals for the hundredth time. So why wouldn't he awaken?

Had saving her from the Trandoshan really cost him so much? She'd only ever seem power like his once and that had been on Hoth. Looking back as she'd fled, she had seen the Dark Lord crush a man's throat at a distance of ten feet. The black armored man had been so casually cruel, so lethal in his murderous strides. She couldn't believe this man in her bed was the same as Darth Vader. She just couldn't.

A scourge like that didn't deserve such careful attention, so many hours of her life. She refused to think of him and that fiend in the same moment. No, he might be as powerful but this Jedi was nothing like the man, if Vader deserved the term, that had killed so many of her friends on that icy world.

For this man, she'd turned her life upside down. For this stranger, she'd agreed to give up all her quarter's profits buying her partner a ship he didn't even know how to use. She'd already sacrificed a lot of this unconscious Jedi and she didn't even know his name.

Not that it mattered. She already knew she'd do anything to protect this man. She'd even sent Yaaro out into the Wastes to find a hidden place for use as a bolthole if they all had to run.

And running might yet be necessary. She trusted her patrons but there were still risks. Only one of the Trandoshans was dead; they others could still talk. She thought they were all unconscious but what if one had woken up? They could be spilling their guts to the Imperial occupying troops right now.

The Imperials... That was her biggest dread. The Empire might be officially over with the death of the Emperor but that didn't mean much on a backwater world like Tattooine. The Imperial governor was still in charge of most of the planet, including Mos Espa, now that the Hutts no longer ruled. A quartet of crime lords were vying for the scraps of this desert kingdom but until one arose from Jabba's ashes or the New Republic made it this far into space, white armor was still the symbol of authority.

Bah. To the Sarlacc with them all.

She'd feel a lot better with Vaaro back and a place to run guaranteed. There were lots of abandoned homes out past the Dune Sea that would be perfect for holing up if they had to do so. She'd already packed up essentials. At a moment's notice, once her Rodian partner returned, they could flee to the spaceport, pile into the stranger's rebuilt ship, and disappear.

Was she really ready to leave all this? To bid goodbye to the Transverse and years of work over some vagrant with black hair and eyes to match? Someone who's name she didn't even know? She knew she was being stupid. "Hope is for fools." That had been her mantra for months now, more so than ever after the hard Tattooine existence she'd grown used to living.

And now, was she so damned willing to throw it away for some nameless Jedi? That was wamprat talk! If she had half a brain, she'd be cashing in the rewar...


She blinked. The hand in her grasp twitched and closed around her fingers.

The harsh, dry voice spoke again as the stranger's eyes flickered open. "Darrus Jeht."

Then, before the stunned woman could speak, he passed back out. His grip didn't loosen, however. In fact, his only movement other than to close his eyes was to pull her hand to his chest and sigh.

All thoughts of betrayal or common sense vanished. He had a name.

He had a name!


Erisraven said...

Yes, he has a name. 'Darrus Jeht'. I think in Huttese that translates to 'kick me'. :D At least the universe seems to think so. I think this barkeep's a goner. Hasn't even talked to him and is throwing over her whole life. I blame the Force. :) Never trust the stuff. :)

Zay said...

Ahh, the grisly and doomed fate of the lonely.

Ah well.. at least Vaaro stands to make a killing off this. ;)

Anonymous said...

At least we know what time period Darrus is in, now.