torch@doubleagent.org
August - October 2017

Disclaimer: this is not the Revan you're looking for. Do not archive without permission.

Take What's Left And Live It Properly

1.

They met a Mandalorian down in the Undercity, or at least someone wearing Mandalorian armor and one of those helmets that covered everything. Though Jamar figured he wasn't in a position to say anything, with a breath mask over his entire face -- because wow, did the Undercity stink -- and a pair of goggles pushed into his hair for when he needed them. The Mandalorian didn't try to kill them, which was really all Jamar cared about at that point, and he told them a couple things about the crime syndicate boss he was working for, which might turn out to be useful.

Of course, Carth had to bitch as soon as the man was out of earshot. "I can't stand Mandalorians. Think they're better and stronger and faster than everyone, even though they lost the damn war."

Jamar shrugged. "He did look pretty strong," he said, mind mostly on trying to unlock a sewer grate. "Wait, is that a Twi'lek girl over there? With any luck, she's the one we're looking for."

Carth didn't let it go, though. The man could multi-task, Jamar had to give him that, running around and shooting at people and quarreling with Mission the Twi'lek girl and still finding the time to get back on the subject when they had a little breathing space. Even though it wasn't obvious at first that it was the same subject. "I don't want to say anything bad about the Jedi, but."

Jamar figured that was the prelude to saying a whole lot of bad things about the Jedi. "But?"

"But it sure felt like they just sat on their asses at first when the Mandalorians attacked the Republic. It's no surprise Revan got such a lot of support, when he was willing to actually step in and do something."

"Yeah, but that didn't turn out so well, did it?" Jamar might not be an expert on recent events, but even he hadn't missed that. "Big Jedi schism, fall to the dark side, lots of Sith everywhere all of a sudden, stuff like that."

"I know!" Carth snapped, like Jamar had accused him of being a Sith himself. "He beat the damn Mandalorians first, though. After that, everything started to go wrong."

"Mm," Jamar said absently. Nothing about this felt very interesting to him, but it obviously was to Carth. "Was that when your admiral betrayed you?"

"He's not my admiral anymore." Carth fell into a sullen silence that lasted for hours. Probably a tactic worth remembering.

Jamar had more urgent things to think about than Carth's opinions on recent galactic events. They had a Jedi to rescue, and while he wasn't sure why he was the one who had to do the rescuing, Carth would probably just stand around and bitch to himself unless someone kicked him into action, so Jamar resigned himself to being that someone. And then they'd have to get off the planet, too.

And apparently he had to learn how to handle a swoop bike to make any of that happen. Lucky for him it was so easy.

2.

"I sensed that he was being honest in his offer," Bastila said.

"He's a Mandalorian mercenary!" Carth retorted. At least they'd waited to start arguing until they were inside the apartment. "And he's working for Davik. I don't trust him as far as I can throw him. In full Mandalorian armor."

Jamar was sorting through pazaak cards with Mission's help, trying to hone his deck. He'd won a lot of cash this afternoon, but probably not enough to get them all off Taris. At least there was enough for food -- their little company kept growing, and Zaalbar could eat a lot.

Thinking that Bastila and Carth could go to the cantina and listen for useful rumors without getting in trouble had maybe been a little optimistic. But at least they were arguing with each other and hadn't brought a whole barfight home. "What offer?" he said. "Is it anything useful?"

"I believe so, yes," Bastila said.

"If we can trust him. Big if."

Carth wasn't exactly the trusting sort, and while Jamar could understand why not, he also wanted to hear what this was all about without having to sit through an extra hour of the evils of Mandalorians or whatever first, so he turned to Bastila and cocked an eyebrow. "Tell me."

"He said that if we get the launch codes to get us past the Sith blockade, he'll help us steal Davik's ship, and we can leave Taris in that. He wants to come along."

"Launch codes," Jamar said. Having a ship would be a big step towards actually getting off the planet, but it was true he'd also prefer not getting blown up as soon as he tried to leave the atmosphere. "And where would we get the launch codes?"

"He said we should steal them from the Sith base."

"Because that's so easy!" Carth snapped. "We'll just waltz in there right under the nose of the people we're trying to avoid and get some crucial information that they won't notice us stealing--"

"Sounds like fun," Mission said cheerfully. "Can I come?"

Carth looked at her. "No, you can't! And if we succeed, he'll turn on his employer for us and help us steal the man's ship -- and that's someone he works for, someone who pays him! He'd have no reason to be loyal to us at all!"

Jamar shrugged. "He doesn't really have to be loyal to anyone as long as he can get us off Taris. And if Bastila says that was an honest offer, she's probably right." He grinned at Mission. "And of course you can come."

2.5

Breaking into the Sith base wasn't actually as difficult as it sounded, and once they had the launch codes, the Mandalorian got them invited into Davik's compound, because it turned out Davik was actually a swoop fan, which cracked Jamar up. The Mandalorian helped them sneak through the compound, as much as anyone could sneak with a fully armored Mandalorian along, and they would probably have escaped unnoticed except that Davik had hired that short bounty hunter whose name Jamar could never remember, so yeah, there was a fight.

Their new friend the Mandalorian was tough, and practically scooped them up at the end and threw them on the ship. He must really want to get off Taris. Jamar counted that everyone was along that was meant to be along: whiny pilot, check, hoity-toity Jedi, check, bippy-boopy little droid, check, brash teenage Twi'lek and smelly Wookie, check, and finally the big Mandalorian.

Oh yeah, and himself. Jamar pulled off the breath mask and scrubbed a hand through his hair, and became aware that someone was staring at him. He looked up to see the Mandalorian coming closer, helmet off now, showing a craggily handsome face and short iron-colored hair.

"I never expected to see you here, princess," the Mandalorian said. "Why aren't you--"

"A word with you," Bastila said, grabbed the Mandalorian, and dragged him away into one of the ship's side corridors.

Jamar exchanged a look with Mission. "That was weird," she said.

"You're telling me." Jamar busied himself with cleaning the mask and folding it up properly. "I'm nobody's princess."

His memories of everything that had happened before the Endar Spire were kind of fuzzy; he figured something had happened during the fighting and his mind would settle itself when he finally got a chance to take things easy for a while, not that that seemed to be happening. It was hard to imagine that he could forget a pair of shoulders like that, though.

Sooner than he would have expected, Bastila and the Mandalorian were back in front of him again. Jamar looked up, and the Mandalorian stared down at him like he was seeing something light up the horizon and wondering if it was sunrise or a nuclear explosion. Then he jumped when Bastila kicked him in the shin.

"Sorry about that," he said with the air of someone who hadn't said sorry to anyone about anything since he was smaller than T3-M4. "You look like someone I used to f--" Bastila kicked him again. "Fuck, lady, get yourself a new hobby!" And again.

"As soon as you get decent manners, and at least try to remember what I just told you." Bastila managed to look down her nose at him, even though he was at least half a head taller. "Your language leaves a lot to be desired, too."

"You look like someone I used to know," the Mandalorian said. Okay, so that was the censored version. Probably better to stick with that for the time being. "That's all. Name's Canderous Ordo."

Jamar nodded. That sounded vaguely familiar, in a distant foggy memories kind of way as well as a recently-spoken kind of way. "Bastila said you helped us out in exchange for getting off Taris with us. Where do you want us to drop you off?"

"Nowhere, princess," Canderous said and took a step to the side before Bastila's kick could connect. Jamar admitted he was a little impressed. Also confused.

"What do you mean?"

"Figured I'd tag along for a while. You could use another crewman on board this ship, and another fighter when you're off it."

Jamar thought about it. The food budget was already stretched tight, and Canderous was a big man who probably needed to eat a lot. On the other hand, it would drive Carth crazy to have a Mandalorian along, it was funny to watch Bastila kicking him, and maybe Jamar would remember eventually where he'd heard that name before. Plus, Canderous wasn't exactly hard on the eyes.

"We're headed for the Jedi enclave on Dantooine," Bastila said, and hey, it would be nice if people remembered to tell him things. But maybe the Jedi would feed them for free. They were supposed to be good guys, right? "You won't find work as a mercenary there."

"That's not what I'm looking for." Canderous gave her back look for look. "You have a problem with me being here?"

"As long as you remember what I said, no."

Jamar had no idea what was up with that, and neither did Mission, judging by her wide-eyed stare, but he'd gotten this far by trusting his instincts, and the whole thing felt okay to him, so, whatever.

More than okay, actually. It seemed right to have this Mandalorian around.

3.

Why, of all the Jedi in all the known worlds, did he have to have a mental bond of some kind with Bastila? They even had some kind of freaky shared visions. Visions! That was worse than his-and-hers towels.

Jamar looked at the line of very serious Jedi masters, and then at Bastila, all the way to one side like a really smug bookend. "You want me to train as a Jedi," he said. "And figure out what Revan and Malak were up to, and what these visions mean, and--" He flung his arms out. "Are you completely fu--"

Bastila hit him on the back of the head. "I don't want to doubt your wisdom, masters," she said.

"Well, I do!" Jamar rubbed his head. "I'm way too old for this, I'm just a no-name smuggler who wriggled into the Republic fleet in some way I don't even remember but I bet she does," he jerked a thumb at Bastila, "and suddenly you think I should have a lightsaber of my own and go chasing after the biggest and scariest fuck-ups who ever left the Jedi order?"

This time, Bastila kicked him in the shin. Her boots were pointier than they looked.

"He may have a point," the grumpiest Jedi master said, the one who clearly didn't like or trust Jamar to start with. Which made him pretty sensible, in Jamar's book, even if he gave the impression that he wanted to join in the shin-kicking.

"The validity and importance of the visions cannot be denied," Master Vandar said from around knee-height.

"I agree with both of you." That was the Twi'lek, looking at Jamar like he was calculating speed, endurance, and possibly even shoe size in the back of his head. "We don't normally train adults, no, but the strength of the visions, your connection with Bastila, and your presence in the Force would make it foolish not to train you."

"You could just send Bastila to investigate this," Jamar tried. "The visions are hers as much as mine, and she's already trained." And he could go off and do something more interesting and with fewer renegade Jedi turned Sith overlords involved, like helping Mission track down her brother, or flirting with the hot Mandalorian to see where that got him.

"This is meant for both of you," Master Vandar said. "You must share the responsibility as you share the visions."

"We will try to live up to your confidence in us," Bastila said.

"Speak for yourself," Jamar muttered.

School. He was a grown man and he had to go to school.

3.1

The Twi'lek was a harsh taskmaster, too, always insisting that Jamar could lift one more object with his mind or handle one more hour of sparring with Bastila.

Fortunately, he was right. Jamar wasn't sure if Jedi abilities were that easy and they'd just conned the galaxy into believing they were special, or if he really had that powerful connection to the Force that everyone kept going on about.

Either way, he had to admit it was kind of cool to get to have a lightsaber of his own. But visions, not so much.

Not to mention, he'd be feeling fine and then some weird melancholy introspective shit would come bubbling up out of nowhere and take his mind over. He'd never heard of that being a side effect of Jedi training. That was decidedly not cool, and Bastila was no help, she just told him to breathe and relax and keep his mind on the light side.

"And speak to the Jedi masters if something is troubling you," she said. "They will know better what you should do."

"Are you saying you're not an actual fucking Jedi," Jamar said, and Bastila hit him upside the head again.

3.5

Once they took off on the Ebon Hawk, Bastila was the only Jedi within reach, anyway. Or no, there was Juhani, too, because apparently getting her ass kicked made her want to come along, but she kept fretting about falling to the dark side and looked to Jamar like some kind of role model, so he definitely wasn't going to talk to her about how the inside of his head felt weird at times.

At least everybody else was being nice to each other and getting along now. Not like any of these people would suddenly decide to have an argument out of nowhere or anything.

"When I was a kid, I wanted to own a cantina," Mission said, "because my br-- because everyone always spent all their money there. Seemed like a good way to get rich. I didn't realize back then how much work was involved."

"Back then," Garth said. "Mission, you're still a kid. You need to--"

"I'm not a kid!" Mission snapped. "I'm plenty old enough to take care of myself! You don't have to act like you're my father just because you're old and boring."

"If I were your father, you sure wouldn't have been running round the sewers of Taris with a Wookie. Maybe having a real family would have been good for you, not just a brother who spent all his money in cantinas."

"You'd make a crappy father," Mission said, and Garth looked as if she'd stabbed him. "Big Z and I are a real family, and I don't need your angry lectures. Nobody needs your angry lectures."

"Now look here, girl--"

Jamar got to his feet as fast as he could and headed that way, but he was relieved to see that Zaalbar had already pushed his way in between the two of them. Moderately relieved, anyway, because Zaalbar was always and forever on Mission's side and more inclined to finish a fight than defuse it, but right now he was telling Mission that getting in a brawl with Carth wouldn't be worth it. Carth pointedly turned away from them both and looked at Jamar instead. "I don't see why you brought a little girl along on a dangerous mission like this."

"I'm a dangerous Mission, you stupid--"

"Okay, so you two need to calm way the fuck down," Jamar said, and started to duck before he remembered that Bastila wasn't within hearing distance. "Maybe at opposite ends of the ship." He looked from one to the other of them, although Mission was behind Zaalbar, so he couldn't see much of her. "I've got some free time right now, I can sit right in the middle and make sure you don't come in here and start it all up again, and don't think I won't do it."

Zaalbar made a reproving noise. "You need to sleep. I can keep them apart."

"Yeah, you go to bed," Mission agreed. "I've got an idea for a better kind of security spike, so I'll go mess around with that, and I know Big Z can make sure that he," she gestured at Carth, "behaves himself."

"I'm not the one here who needs a babysitter!" Carth took half a step forward. Zaalbar crossed his arms and growled. "Fine! I'll just go." He turned around and marched off towards the cockpit.

"About time," Mission said, but Jamar gave her a level look and she went off too, headed for the big bunk room to one side where she and Bastila slept, and which Mission used as a work space. Jamar wondered if he'd wake up to a fight between Mission and Bastila instead, if Mission's security spike project had spread all over the floor.

Zaalbar clapped his shoulder. "It will be all right now. You should get some sleep."

"What about you? I didn't mean to make you stand guard here for hours."

"It's not a problem." Zaalbar drew himself up, looming over Jamar even more than usual. "When I was a cub, I admired the gate guards in the village. I wanted to be like them. This is nothing like my village, but I know how to stand guard against human foolishness."

"I know you do." Jamar clapped Zaalbar's shoulder in return, or as close to the shoulder as he could reach, regretting it when the musky smell of Zaalbar's fur intensified. "And maybe you'll go back to the village one day."

"Maybe."

3.6

Jamar went off to get some sleep, as he'd said. First he brushed his teeth and thought about how easily Mission and Zaalbar had mentioned their childhood plans and aspirations. As for him, he--

There was a not-too-clear picture in his mind of a toy shaped like a small ship. He'd looked at that ship and wanted to have adventures.

Jamar spat and frowned. The toy looked new in his mind's image, but the ship model was old, and not just childhood old. Why would anyone have given him a new toy made to look like an old-fashioned ship?

There was probably a perfectly reasonable explanation, except that he couldn't remember what the explanation might be, or who had given him that toy. It was just there, in his memory, and the only association he had with it was a feeling of wanderlust, the yearning to go places and see things. Nothing specific.

So he'd been a boring child. Now he was going to be a boring adult, and go to his bunk and sleep.

Try to sleep.

The problem was the light, he decided. The light on board the Ebon Hawk was always either too poor to get a good look at what you really wanted to see, or too bright to get any proper sleep. It was like trying to sleep in the darkness of space, with stars flaring up just when you were about to drop off. Jamar turned over yet again, wondering why no one could manage to invent comfortable spaceship bunks. At least he had a tiny cabin to himself, and didn't have to put up with any of the others noticing how restless he was.

He was always restless. He felt as though the inside of his head itched. Didn't really help with the whole sleep thing.

He needed to sleep, to get some rest, because it was a big galaxy out there and apparently he was going to see every last grain of stardust in it, flying this way and that while he tried to make sense of the clues in some kind of giant intergalactic treasure hunt. Jamar wasn't sure what bothered him most at this point: the idea that some unimaginably ancient race had littered the universe with strange devices, the idea that two Jedi-turned-Sith had hunted those devices down for some unclear but probably nefarious purpose, or the idea that the Jedi Council somehow expected him to solve a mystery he didn't even fully comprehend.

And they'd given him Bastila as a companion, too. Maybe the idea was that if he could cope with her without falling to the dark side, he could handle anything the universe threw at him.

No, that wasn't fair. She'd been more than a little abrasive towards him in the beginning, but now she was nice enough, except for the part where she hit him every time he said fuck.

Jamar turned over again. The bunk got more uncomfortable with every passing moment.

The inside of his head itched. The inside of his soul itched. And with his eyes closed, he could see the image of a small spaceship toy revolving this way and that, spinning as if set into motion by Jedi mind powers.

He couldn't remember anything more about that toy. Or about his childhood.

And he couldn't fall asleep.

He could always get up and wander around again for a bit. There was bound to be someone to talk to, someone who wasn't already in the middle of a quarrel. Or he could find a gizka to pet. He should probably do something to get rid of them -- they couldn't be good for the Hawk, or the Hawk for them, come to that. Whatever their natural habitat was, it couldn't be made of dark metal and glowing computer banks.

The critters were just so stupidly cute, though. Maybe he should get up and go rub one behind what passed for its ears, just to get to hear that ridiculous noise. It soothed him.

But Jamar knew that if he got up, if he started to wander around the Hawk, it didn't matter what he set out to do, there was still only one place he'd end up: in the makeshift swoop hangar, staring helplessly, hopelessly at the man who pulled at him like gravity.

It was no use feeling like this. Maybe he'd better go pet a gizka, after all, and with any luck, at least some part of him would stop itching. Or he could try again to get some sleep. Or... something.

Try to remember something, maybe. The more his companions told him about their pasts, the more he was bothered by the absence of his own. He'd thought things would start to come back to him, but everything he knew about himself felt muted, strange. Where had that toy ship come from?

It wasn't as if he knew nothing. He'd had parents, fine. His parents were dead. But that knowledge didn't mean anything to him; he couldn't find the grief their deaths must have caused him.

He couldn't find any small-scale feelings, either. He'd been a smuggler on the Outer Rim. He must know hundreds of people on hundreds of worlds. So why couldn't he bring up the memory of a coherent conversation with any one of them, random sex, random fights, or just put a remembered face together with something as basic as a drink preference?

Thinking about it just made his head itch even more. When he tried to think about his past, it was like trying to read a corrupted computer file opened with the wrong program. Everything looked strange, twisted, garbled. Some things he couldn't remember at all. Others were like poor-quality, grainy images, or brief phrases and even single words broken up by strings of nonsense characters.

He must have hit his head pretty hard, during the escape from the Endar Spire.

The visions were the worst. Those were nothing like the memories. They were clear flashes, bright with truth, and he didn't know where they came from or what they meant. The idea that the Force was just dumping these visions in his head for no real reason didn't seem right at all.

No, there was a reason. He just didn't know what it was.

All he knew for certain was that he'd better try to solve this mystery he was on the trail of, or he'd never get any time to himself to try to clear his mind. And he'd better stop thinking about Canderous, too.

It was like telling himself to stop breathing.

3.7

He got out of the bunk after all, and padded down the dark metal curve of the corridor until he met a gizka and sat down on the floor, letting it climb all over him. When he rubbed its little ear nubs, it made a sound like a rusty hinge. That shouldn't be soothing, but it was.

Jamar stayed there until the gizka, done with petting, hopped away. He meant to go back to his bunk, could have sworn he had turned that way, but a few steps brought him out next to Canderous instead.

"Yeah?" The Mandalorian looked flatly at him. "This is your sleep shift. What do you want?"

"I'm too restless to sleep." Saying that his soul itched wouldn't get him anywhere.

"Easy to tell you're not a soldier." Canderous didn't even sound dismissive, just bluntly honest.

But the Republic had recruited him, hadn't they? Jamar didn't remember ever being a soldier, no, but the itch in his soul reminded him of just how much he didn't remember. Could be Canderous was right, but Jamar was a small speck of consciousness floating in a big dark nothing, and he couldn't call anything certain.

"I thought-- No, never mind." He was dithering. Dithering never looked good on anyone.

"You wanted bedtime stories?" Canderous shook his head. "I'm not here to be your babysitter. Get some rest."

Jamar went back to bed again. Hearing that voice hadn't made anything better. Petting a gizka hadn't made anything better, either.

Space was too dark. The Hawk was too dark. Jamar tossed, and turned, and wanted.

4.

At least spending all that time brooding instead of sleeping gave him time to put two and two together and make a decision. There was a question he needed to ask that any reasonable person would probably have asked long ago. Maybe he'd been going about this all wrong, letting his brooding side run the show.

"You used to fuck someone who looked like me," Jamar said.

"Yeah, what of it." Canderous crossed his arms. Jamar was amused to see that he also looked over his shoulder. "That Jedi of yours seems to have a real problem with the word fuck."

"Tell me about it." Jamar rubbed the back of his head as if Bastila had been there to smack him again. "If I didn't know she was human I'd start to think her people reproduced by parthenogenesis." Still, that wasn't the important part here. "So if you used to fuck someone who looked like me, how about fucking me instead?"

Canderous looked at him. "And pretend you're the same person?"

"Oh." Jamar sighed. It had seemed like such a good way to deal with all this frustrated yearning, too, to get at least one layer of moping out of his head. "You actually liked him, huh. Guess not, then." He looked back at Canderous. "I don't know anything about you besides that. You could tell me stuff."

Hard eyes met his. "You really want me to tell you bedtime stories." Jamar expected a refusal again, but there was a surprising amount of patience in it when Canderous finally said, "All right, I'll tell you bedtime stories."

And he did, describing various adventures he'd had as a Mandalorian warrior. Jamar came to ask for more stories several times, sometimes alone, sometimes with Mission, because it was fascinating stuff and sometimes he couldn't even believe Canderous had done it, let alone survived it.

4.5

They went to Tatooine and he got sand everywhere and didn't feel like having sex with anyone anyway. For a while.

4.6

"Sounds pretty bad, though," Mission said after one of the times she'd been along. "I mean, they ruined whole worlds just to show they were bigger and stronger and had more weapons." She cocked her head at him. "You're not like that. So why do you like listening so much?"

"They're good stories," Jamar muttered. No, he wasn't like that. He had no urge to attack a planet or command a force to fire at an opposing fleet, and on a small, day-to-day scale, he always seemed to find himself doing nice things for people and looking for the non-violent solution to problems without even stopping to think about it.

Which somehow had resulted in having more and more people along, filling up the empty bunks and getting underfoot everywhere, kind of like the gizka, so it was a good thing he was making enough from pazaak now to keep them all fed and the Hawk fueled up. And at least the droids didn't eat anything.

Anyway, that wasn't really why he wanted to make Canderous talk, wanted to listen to him all the time. He'd sit at his feet if he thought he could get away with it.

Tell me a story, Canderous. Tell me about your past. Tell me about all your wild and glorious deeds, all your horrifying war crimes. Talk to me, just so I can roll around in the sound of your voice.

Yeah, that wasn't embarrassing or anything. He definitely wasn't going to tell Mission about it, or explain that Canderous used to fuck someone who looked like Jamar and now Jamar had a crush, if crush was the appropriate word for something that felt like a planet-wide explosion that was still somehow confined to his chest, and there was no sign that Canderous had any interest in him back. Or that Canderous had any interest at all in anyone who represented the Alliance, the Jedi, everything that had lost the Mandalorians the war.

The only person on that side he'd ever said a positive word about was Revan, and that... was apparently because Revan had been the one to defeat his entire people in that very same galaxy-spanning war, the one who'd fought and killed his leader in single combat.

That wasn't really something other people could live up to. Not that Jamar wanted to, he told himself hastily. It was just--

Canderous would probably let Revan buy him a drink in some seedy spaceport cantina.

All Jamar had to offer was his awkward, amnesiacal self, so no, he wasn't even going to try. Not again. No. He would just do other things and think about other things and not pine away stupidly and just... want. Canderous was rough-voiced and rough-edged, a big solid hunk of a man, made of casual brutality and incomprehensible honor.

He was probably amazing in bed, too.

Jamar allowed himself one brief moment to think about it, scars and strength and a single-minded drive to conquer, all of it directed at him, and then he pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes and tried to get his breathing to slow down.

4.7

"No offense, Mission, but your brother is kind of an asshole."

She sighed. "Yeah." There was a glint in her eyes that was halfway between grief and anger. "I want to believe the best of him, you know? But he's not making it easy."

5.

"So you wanna practice pazaak some more, keep your cardshark skills honed?" Mission grinned at him. "That's what I tell Big Z we're doing, you know. He doesn't want me to hang out with Canderous too much, thinks I'll pick up bad habits. And Carth would probably blow a fuse if he saw."

"Two fuses," Jamar said, picturing it. "He'd tell me it was all my fault, too, exposing you to all that wickedness."

"Carth just needs to chill." Mission huffed. Then she poked Jamar's arm. "But why do you want me to come along all the time? You're a big boy, you can go talk to Canderous on your own."

"I just like the company," Jamar said. Truth was, he needed Mission along to remind him to control himself. Canderous kept saying I'll be here if you want something done right, and it was all Jamar could do not to grab him and take him up on it.

And Canderous had already said no, so that probably wouldn't work out. It was completely unfair on a cosmic scale that anyone could go around and be that sexy and not want to fuck him. It just wasn't right.

Jamar sighed.

Mission threw a card at him. "So, pazaak?"

5.5

The next time he had a vision, it segued into something else that was just as clear and real-seeming, which would have been great, except what Jamar had such a vivid experience of was having sex with Canderous, which when he woke up just reminded him that he wasn't actually having sex with Canderous, he was just a sad guy who spent every night alone, fuck it.

He got himself upright and clean and dressed and stumbled out in search of something to eat. Bastila was staring pointedly at the nearest bulkhead, like she was pretending he didn't exist, and Jamar got even grumpier. "What," he said. "Fine, we'll talk about the vision, I just need breakfast first."

"By all means, take your time," Bastila said.

"Not a lot to talk about, anyway. I mean, you saw the whole thing, didn't you."

"I would certainly have been happier to see less," she snapped. "Both of you and of our other companion."

Jamar stared at her. "Wait. You mean you saw-- Augh! Tell me you're not seeing my sex dreams. Is nothing in my head private? Bad enough that we have to share this weird highlights broadcast of What Revan and Malak Did On Their Galactic Vacation."

"The next star map seems to be--"

"That wasn't even a vision," Jamar complained. "Right? That was just me."

"One of many things I would have been happier not to know about you," Bastila said. "And I don't know how I'll be able to look Canderous in the face, either."

Jamar shrugged. "Tell him to wear a helmet. Damn it, I'd ask him to wear a helmet if that meant I could get him to f--"

"Shut up." Bastila could hit him in the back of the head without even looking. That was probably a Jedi thing.

5.6

"Sorry about that," Jamar said. Zaalbar made a disconcolate sound. "I know, I know, that was all kinds of fucked up." Especially the star map computer interface down among the roots of the trees that had tried to measure him according to some weird standard that Revan had probably installed when he was there, and what did it say about Jamar that he'd eventually passed? But that wasn't Zaalbar's concern. "You wanna stay here with your dad, try to get things in order?"

"No," Zaalbar said. "I'm going to honor my life-debt and the promise I made you. And I need to think about things before I go back again."

"Okay." Jamar wondered just how long a Wookie life-debt lasted, anyway. He should maybe ask Mission about that.

And really, Zaalbar was welcome to hang around for as long as he wanted, even if he ate a lot and they'd just picked up another companion. Who tried to take over Jamar's room, but Jamar managed to boot him into the common bunk room as politely as possible. Bad enough that Bastila was seeing his visions. (And his sex dreams.) He really didn't need to have them in front of half the ship.

"You should show some respect for your elders," Jolee said.

"This is me showing respect for my elders," Jamar said. "I'm even helping you carry your luggage." He hefted a crate that smelled suspiciously earthy. "What is this, anyway?"

"Edible roots."

"Oh. Good."

5.6.1

"Like. Your brother is really an asshole."

"I know," Mission said. "He wasn't always like this!"

"Okay."

"He took care of me when I was a kid."

"Okay."

"He tried his best."

"Okay."

Mission slumped down. "And you've helped him a lot, and he just keeps asking... You should probably not do any more favors for him. We've got a galaxy to save, right?"

Now it was Jamar's turn to slump down. "Right."

5.6.2

"I hate being underwater. It's creepy. And I keep thinking the suit leaks and my toes are wet."

Zaalbar said something that Jamar pretended not to understand, because it was all about how much humans complained about everything.

"The suit isn't leaking, and nobody wants to hear about your sweaty feet," Bastila said crisply. "Are you really committed to sabotaging this equipment? It's quite a complex procedure."

"Better than dumping poison in the water," Jamar muttered and went out to fend off some sharks and do some underwater engineering shit. Oh, and find a star map.

5.6.5

Jamar was just trying to work out whether they should go back to Tatooine to try to work out a bunch of issues there (that had really nothing to do with Mission's brother, he was so done with Mission's brother, so it was probably lucky that she seemed to be, too) or head straight for Corriban and the last star map, when they were blindsided by Carth's old admiral friend mentor dude --

"He's not my friend any more! I hate him more than I've ever hated another person in my life!"

"Ease up there, Carth."

-- and things went from kind of confusing and fucked up to REALLY CONFUSING AND FUCKED UP.

Well, at least Carth's old admiral friend mentor nemesis dude was dead. But the Dark Lord of the Sith had tried to kill them right up close and personal. And Bastila was taken prisoner.

And Jamar was apparently Revan.

What.

5.6.6

No, seriously.

WHAT.

5.7

"Try to get some sleep," Canderous said, somewhere between rough and respectful. "You'll be stronger for it." Nothing had changed about the way he said, "I'll be here if you want anything done right."

Nothing had changed, so it was still the most suggestive line Jamar had ever heard. And he couldn't acknowledge that. And he did need some rest.

So he tried.

Everything had changed, but the way he couldn't sleep was still the same.

Jamar tossed and turned and turned and tossed. He felt as if his bunk was spinning in empty space, rather than enclosed in a tiny cabin inside the Hawk. He was trying to sleep in the middle of the vast blackness between planets, with comets streaking by and hitting his skin.

The inside of his head itched worse than ever, everything stirred up and whirling, a soul sneeze waiting to happen. He was unsettled, unsealed. Something closed and shielded within him had opened up, and now that black emptiness was within as well as without, memories hurtling by and about to strike him from the inside, space debris, soul debris.

I didn't ask for this. His fingers dug into the side of the bunk, trying to hold him still, to keep him where he knew he was.

There was nothing he could hold on to to keep him who he knew he was, though. Because he didn't know who he was. Jamar Jerjerry, the smuggler turned Republic soldier turned Jedi, with holes in his memory that you could fly a battle cruiser through, was apparently the Jedi Council's little fiction project. The only thing he could be sure of was that everything he thought he remembered from before waking up on the Endar Spire was somebody else's idea.

The Jedi had built an identity, built a self, and stuffed it into his head like you'd stuff a child's doll with batting. They'd made him, and he had no idea if there was a Jamar beyond the bare bones of the person they'd decided on.

Except he was here and he was doing the thinking, so there had to be... someone. He had to be someone. He was real, or there'd be nobody in his head who could be so appalled at the idea that he wasn't.

Wait.

Jamar clung harder to the bunk. Of course there was someone in his head; that was the whole reason why the Jedi Council had gone to the trouble of constructing somebody else who'd be in his head instead.

And he didn't know if he was the he or the somebody else. He didn't feel like just a manufactured identity slapped into place in sheer desperation, like a makeshift repair on a ship hull. But neither did he feel like... him.

Revan.

Was he Revan? Was Revan him? Who had Revan been, anyway, back when he'd been the only occupant of this body? Everybody talked about his brilliance, both as a Jedi and a general. Jamar sure didn't feel brilliant. Everybody talked about his evil, too, the way he'd taken to the dark side like a child going down a water slide, with great glee and great speed.

Jamar didn't feel evil, either.

He just felt like himself, which was weird when he wasn't sure he even had a self. Most of his companions had reacted as though he was still the same person they'd always known, which was fair enough, since he'd only met them after...

Jamar drew a deep breath. After he'd been created. After this self had come into being. Whoever he was, he was all they knew of him.

There were exceptions. Carth looked at him like he was an unexploded frag mine, now. And Canderous. Well.

Canderous didn't look at him like he was an unexploded mine. Canderous looked at him like he was suddenly the coolest thing in the galaxy. Which would have been great, except Canderous wasn't looking at Jamar, he was looking at Revan. He'd followed Jamar out of some weird mix of boredom and expediency, seemed like, but it was clear he'd follow Revan anywhere out of genuine admiration and respect.

Yeah. It was pretty obvious that Canderous would, indeed, let Revan buy him a drink in the seedy spaceport cantina of his choice. In fact, Canderous would probably buy the drink. The only problem was, Jamar didn't know if there even was a Revan.

Or a Jamar.

Whoever he was, he had to keep moving forward. He couldn't just let go of the bunk and spin out into space. He needed to rescue Bastila, annoying as she was, so she could hit him in the head some more. He needed to complete this strange puzzle they'd been chasing pieces of from planet to planet, and maybe once he did, he'd feel more certain that he was himself.

Whoever that was. He bit his lip. He couldn't get up and pet a gizka, now, those weird little animals were all gone, and embarrassing as it was to admit, he missed them. Should've kept one.

If he got up, he'd probably go throw himself at Canderous. And the way things were right now, Canderous might well catch him.

He shivered. And that would be a bad idea, he reminded himself. Canderous would think he was catching Revan, and he didn't even know who that was. Or who he was. Or... anything.

There was so much he didn't know, still, and he couldn't stop thinking about it, much as he wanted to. He'd just like one certain, solid thing in his life. Something to lean against.

And he knew exactly what he wanted that certain, solid thing to be, too. The more he wanted to get up and go to Canderous, to let sleeplessness be his excuse for spinning him back into the man's considerable personal gravity field, the tighter he clung to the bunk. That wasn't going to work. He didn't know who he'd be, getting up and going, and he didn't know who Canderous would think he was when he got there.

He had to stop thinking about Canderous.

It wasn't just space that was too dark. Everything was too dark, and he was scared of the light now, scared of it shining into some corner of his soul and showing him things he didn't want to see.

And he still wanted.

And he still itched.

And he still couldn't sleep.

And... he was being incredibly stupid, because there was something really important here that he'd just missed in all his hopeless angsting, honestly, did he used to be this person who just stared into his navel and brooded all the time?

No, probably not, or the Mandalorian war would have ended very differently. But still. Something important. Something he should have realized a long time ago. Jamar got up off the bunk and dressed a bit haphazardly and stormed off.

6.

He tracked Canderous down and poked a finger into his chest. "I used to be the fucking Dark Lord of the fucking Sith! You -- you used to fuck the fucking Dark Lord of the Sith and call him princess?!"

"Took you long enough," Canderous said. "I expected you to start putting things together weeks ago."

"You're fucking nuts," Jamar said, with heartfelt conviction. "And he'd just, I'd just, oh fuck this, he beat the Mandalorians in a fucking war, how did you even meet! You should have slit my throat in the middle of the night!"

Canderous looked at him. "I was going to say that amnesia looked good on you, made you less high-strung. But it really is you. Princess."

"I fucking hate you," Jamar said and took half a step forward, which was as close as he could get to Canderous without starting to phase through him. "I want you so bad. I've wanted you since the moment you stepped on this ship. If you don't kiss me now I'm going to beat your head in with a spanner."

"I think this Dark Lord shit has gone to your head," Canderous said and kissed him.

6.5

"I can't believe the Jedi made me forget this," Jamar said. "You're fucking fantastic in bed."

"They made you forget your own name." That might have been a hint of disapproval in Canderous's voice.

"No, I did that to myself." Jamar rolled over and propped his chin on Canderous's chest. "Way before all this happened. What, you think my parents named me Revan because they hoped I'd grow up to lead the Revanschist movement?"

Canderous's hand fisted in his hair, a bit too hard to be a caress. "You named yourself for your political aspirations."

"Well, yeah. Don't tell me you never noticed."

"I had other things on my mind around you," Canderous said flatly. "Like you said, I should have slit your throat in the middle of the night."

"Still don't understand why you didn't," Jamar said.

"You're fucking fantastic in bed, princess."

6.5.6

"I'm not sure I can trust you now," Carth said.

Jamar rolled his eyes. "Like you trusted me before."

"I had my reasons!" Carth scowled. "But this, this changes everything. If you're really Revan--"

"Apparently," Jamar said.

"So what are you going to do now?"

"Get Bastila the fuck back." Jamar rubbed reminiscently at the back of his head. "She was the organized one. I thought I was just along for the ride, you know?"

"But I'm just not sure I can trust you now," Carth said again.

6.5.6.1

Rather than hit Carth with the nearest object at hand, Jamar stomped off to find Canderous. "We should fuck now," he said.

6.5.6.2

"And now."

6.5.6.3

"And now."

"You're very high-maintenance, princess."

6.5.6.4

"And I built a murder droid."

"Correction: Assassination droid, master."

Jamar flapped a hand at HK-47. "I built you to kill people. Well, you're pretty good at that, obviously."

"Thank you, master."

"I'm not sure that was a compliment."

"Statement: You're quite good at killing people, too, master."

"Yeah. I know."

6.6

He couldn't even make himself lie down. He sat up on the bunk and hugged his knees, and the galaxy that spun around him was not as full of scattered starlight as his soul. It was too much, and he felt as though every one of those sparks was about to burst out of his skin, an explosion of something he couldn't even name.

(That was starting to feel like the one constant in his existence.)

They'd been on Tatooine, ankle-deep in sand, facing some part of Canderous's past that wouldn't take no for an answer. It hadn't gone as well as he'd hoped, but at the same time, better than he could ever have imagined. Now they were... going somewhere, and he hoped Carth at the controls knew where, because he himself was wandering lost among the stars, sitting here hugging his knees, his head ringing with the latest talk he'd had with Canderous, some of the words repeating over and over.

"It feels like... like something has changed inside and I don't know what it is."

"You're the only one who can decide," he'd said. "You're the only one who gets to say who you are and where you're going from here."

"Seems to me you need to remember that yourself." Canderous's words always sounded harsh, and these words weren't more so than any other; it was his own understanding of them that made them a pleasure and a gut-punch at the same time.

"I know." Acknowledgement. Promise. "I know."

Probably it was wrong to be so delighted that someone else was feeling the same confusion, that he wasn't alone in questioning his past and his future. He would never wish this on Canderous, the darkness within, the uncertainty about who he really was. But at the same time, that doubt was a crack in Canderous's composure, something that might leave room for Jamar's present self -- whoever he was -- as well as Revan's past self -- whoever he was.

No, he still didn't know. Who they were, who he was. There were very few things he was certain about when it came to himself, and finding out more had only made him certain about less.

But he yearned for Canderous, he knew that much. He wanted to throw himself at the other man's sharp edges, fearlessly, uncaring of whether he got cut. Fucking fantastic in bed wasn't half of it.

6.6.1

"And now."

"Very high-maintenance."

Jamar stopped trying to climb Canderous like a tree and said, "If you don't want to, you can just say no."

"Yeah, I could," Canderous agreed, and didn't even bother to take his hand out of Jamar's pants as he walked him backwards towards the nearest unoccupied room.

6.6.5

Jamar needed to sleep. He always needed to sleep and he couldn't seem to manage it unless he was worn out, preferrably by sex. Instead, he was just sitting here while the indifferent vastness of space revolved around him. There was no time for rest now, he told himself, no point in wishing for enough solitude and quiet to clear his head. He had to keep moving forward, to resolve things: rescue Bastila, find this blasted Star Forge, whatever it was, settle matters with Malak.

It was very strange to be hated so intimately by someone he could not even remember.

He dropped his head, resting his forehead against his knees and muffling his tired chuckle. This was his life now. He had a personal vendetta against the current Dark Lord of the Sith, or perhaps that was the other way around. Malak had tried to kill... him. No, Revan. But they were hardly separable at this point.

He quite liked being Jamar. Jamar was a nice person -- not the Jamar that the Jedi Council had built, but the Jamar he had slowly worked on becoming. The one who liked spicy food and mild sauces, the one who enjoyed petting gizka, the one who thought complex decisions were easy but simple ones almost impossible.

The one who wanted Canderous like air, like water.

Canderous wasn't a nice person. Jamar didn't care. He didn't want the man because he was a nice person, it was more... the shoulders and the voice and the fierceness and the...

Before this, he would have said the confidence, the bedrock certainty. But now he knew that wasn't true, and hearing Canderous be just the tiniest bit uncertain, hearing him doubt, hadn't exactly done anything to make this bone-deep fascination go away. If anything, he wanted Canderous more now.

But he wasn't sure anymore where the wanting came from. He might be only a grain of dust whirling through the vast nothingness of space, trying to find a sense of self to hang on to, but he wasn't just any grain of dust. Bad enough not to know for certain who he was. It was worse that other people had such a clear idea of it, and wanted him to act out his story their way.

He didn't want to be the Jedi Council's little puppet. Whoever they had thought to make, whoever they had wanted him to be, sat on him like an ill-fitting exoskeleton. The person they'd made didn't fit him.

(At least now he knew why all his memories felt so unreal. They weren't his memories at all, just someone else's idea of what he might need to be a person. Someone else had seen that toy spaceship once, much longer ago than his childhood, probably.)

And whatever supposed respect for life that they claimed lay behind this personality suppression and replacement, this brainwashing, felt extremely wrong. Their respect for life only seemed to extend to his physical body. They seemed to have done their best to kill the person he had been before.

Not that he particularly wanted to be that person, either. And perhaps he shouldn't be so quick to condemn the Council's methods when he, whoever he was, only existed because of them. He might be fighting what they'd made him, but he was fighting who he'd been, too.

No, he didn't want to be Revan. He very much did not want Revan's lost personality to rise up out of his unconscious mind and take over. So... he supposed he hoped the Council were good mind-wipers and soul-killers, even as he condemned them for it. He was taking a moral stance that he would have to defend by saying that his own existence was wrong.

And that was really hard to do. His life was beyond confusing, space-dark and starlit, but it was his; he existed, whoever he was, and he wanted to go on existing, to be more of himself, to gain experience and reality.

(Also, to trip Canderous, repeatedly, and beat him to the nearest bed-like surface. A shallow desire, perhaps, but a heartfelt one. At least he could be reasonably sure that it wasn't the Jedi Council who had planted the urge to have really a lot of sex with Canderous in him, not unless they were a lot kinkier than he'd ever been led to believe.)

6.6.5.0.1

"How about now?"

"Yes," Jamar said and dragged Canderous down into the kind of kiss that made clothes mostly a formality.

6.6.5.0.2

"Fucking fantastic," Canderous said into the crook of his neck. "Princess." The word was a small hot puff of breath. "But then you always were."

Then he fell asleep, and Jamar lay there pinned under the solid weight of him and stared at the bulkhead and tried not to think.

Yeah, and that always worked out so well for him.

6.6.5.1

Jamar was getting more and more sure that there was a misunderstanding somewhere and he wasn't actually this Revan character who'd won wars and plotted how to conquer the galaxy and all that shit. Couldn't be. Because in that case, wouldn't he be smarter?

He seemed to come to all his conclusions backwards and in the wrong order. Which was probably why he was now sleeping with someone who thought he was Revan.

Okay, so he was Revan, in a way. But he also really wasn't Revan. And he wasn't sure which one of him Canderous thought he was sleeping with, but he suspected it was the wrong one, and also Canderous was going around wondering if he was really a true Mandalorian any longer, and it just seemed there wasn't a bunk on the Hawk big enough for both the two of them and their identity crises.

So he went to find Canderous and said, "We have to stop fucking."

There was a loud clank behind him, and then HK-47 said, "Shutting down now, master. Not listening to another word. Or any other meatbag noises."

"We're not fucking," Canderous said, and okay, so they were at more than arm's length from each other and fully dressed, but this was not the time to be cute and literal.

"I'm serious." Jamar scrubbed a hand through his hair. "I've got things I have to think about," and wow, he'd thought Canderous was expressionless before, but at those words it was like seeing the Hawk completely powered down with even the standby lights off. "You've got things you have to think about, come on!"

"Some of us can think and fuck at the same time," Canderous said, and then he shifted his shoulders and regular standby mode was engaged again, and Jamar wondered if he'd imagined the whole thing. "If this is what you want, princess."

"It's not what I want," Jamar said. "If this was about just what I wanted, we'd be fucking right now. But I have to figure things out." He bit his tongue before he could say, I have to figure out who I am now, and you have to figure out which one of me you want, so you can decide if we're going to be fucking again afterwards. Things were complicated enough, and Canderous had his own shit going on.

Canderous gave the impression that he would have heaved a deep sigh if he was the kind of person who heaved deep sighs. Jamar could sort of feel it hovering around him. "Okay," he said. "I'll be here if you want--"

"Don't say it," Jamar said and fled, because fuck yeah did he want something done right, he wanted Canderous to do him. But he also wanted the right to be really, truly right.

6.6.6

He looked up a bare instant before Jolee appeared in the doorway. "Bet I'm not who you were hoping for," Jolee said. "A young man doesn't leave his door open like that unless he's got plans."

"You leave your door open all the time," Jamar said. Now that he had a door of his own, that was, since Jolee had tracked down a small storage area, declared it a one-person bunk room, and claimed it as his own. It wasn't the weirdest thing anyone had done aboard the Hawk.

"I'm not a young man. And people only come to see me when they need healing kits. I might as well have stayed on Kashyyyk."

"You're the one who kept saying he wanted to get off Kashyyyk," Jamar pointed out. "And now you are off Kashyyyk. If you don't like it I can always take you back."

"Rude. I don't understand what people see in a snot-nosed whippersnapper like you." Jolee leaned back against the bulkhead just inside the door. "But Bastila wasn't the only one who had her eye on you."

He blinked. "Bastila."

"Sounded like you'd turned her down," Jolee said. "Damn shame, too, fine woman like that, but I figure since you're leaving your door open, you know you've got options."

Jamar blinked some more, because Jolee was a Jedi, which ought to mean he was reasonably observant, he was a sensible man even if he'd lived in a hollow under a tree for years, and he'd been on the Hawk for a while now, besides. He didn't spend all his time in that tiny room.

"I'm going to regret asking you to explain that, aren't I."

Jolee chuckled. "You want me to be your wingman? I'm sure Juhani would be happy to redeem you to the light side, much as you appear to have done for her. And if Mission ever came to you with her crush," he suddenly looked more menacing than Malak ever had, "you'd turn her down even if she claims to be as grown-up as she needs to be."

"I just forgot to close the door," he said. It wasn't entirely true; he'd been wondering if he should do it, or go out into the ship and track down Canderous. No. No, he wasn't going to go find Canderous. "I'm not going to put a finger on Mission. Or Juhani. Or Bastila," he added for good measure, because she wasn't going to stay Malak's prisoner forever, not if he had anything to say about it.

"Eh, I don't care what you get up to with people who are old enough to know what they're doing. I'm too old, and you're not my type besides, but there's always Carth--"

He shuddered. "No, there isn't. Do you spend all your time trying to come up with things that will scar my mind?" If he touched Mission, Zaalbar would probably rip him apart. If he touched Carth, he'd rip himself apart. He had absolutely no inclination to do either of those things.

And Mission was his friend. She didn't have a crush on him. If she did, he so very did not want to know about it.

"Oh, no," Jolee said. "Only about half." He straightened up and seemed about to say something else.

Jamar held up a hand, because this was weirdly amusing, but also just plain weird. "Seriously. Did you somehow miss the part where Canderous and I have been fucking like crazy all over the ship?"

Jolee just looked at him. "I don't think anyone could have missed that. You leave your door open a bit too often. I've been meaning to talk to you about that." His eyes sharpened. "I also didn't miss the part where you seem to have stopped."

"And that's none of your fucking business," Jamar snapped. And that was a bit too emotional. He tried to backtrack. "Maybe I just learned to keep the door closed."

"That would have been about time," Jolee said, "and you should probably think about that in the future. And just how unobservant do you think I am, hmm, that I'd've missed both that you and the Mandalorian were sleeping together and that you stopped?"

"There wasn't a lot of sleeping." Jamar put his feet on the floor. "Suppose I'd better come out and talk to people, to stop you thinking I'm sitting here waiting for a booty call."

"Everyone will appreciate seeing you," Jolee said. "Good to know that you're not hiding away in here turning evil and cackling to yourself. But don't be afraid to have a tumble with someone." The menacing look came back. "Except Mission. Be very, very afraid of that."

"I don't want to do that!" He leaned forward. "What, you think I'm suddenly someone who'd do something like that, now that you can put a different name to me?"

"I don't think you're any different today than you were last week. Young men think with their lightsabers and don't listen well, so it was worth making the point again." Jolee flapped a dismissive hand. "But you seem to be a decent sort, even if you won't tell me who you've got plans with now."

"I don't have any plans," he said.

"No? You should probably get some plans, then. It's going to be difficult to rescue Bastila and beat Malak if you just sit on your butt and wait for the Force to handle it."

"You're the most annoying old man in the whole galaxy," Jamar. Then he admitted, "But it makes a change from the Jedi chastity propaganda. You know, sex leads to emotions and emotions lead to the dark side and all that."

Jolee snorted, a real proper old-man snort. "I was married," he said. "I know damn well it's not love that leads to the dark side. Or sex. Sex is good for you, gives your heart a workout." He grinned. "Course, so does love."

He wanted to say, but I'm not about to have sex with anyone! He wanted to say, but I'm not in love with him!

6.6.6.5

"But what about Bastila?" Carth looked at him from under lowered brows. "Sure, I want us to go to Corriban, I want to find out what's happened with Dustil, but aren't you forgetting that she's a prisoner and probably getting tortured by your old Sith buddy while we're just swanning around the galaxy?"

Jamar hissed between his teeth. "He's not-- I mean, I'm not--" There were too many things he wanted to say in reply to that. "Fine, you tell us where to fucking go, then! I'd be happy to rescue Bastila if I knew where she was!"

"Oh, pipe down," Mission said, but she was saying it to Carth, not Jamar. "We're not going to Corriban because of your stupid son, we're going to solve this star map thing."

"Dustil's not stupid," Carth said huffily. "I thought he was dead, I want to see him more than anything!"

"And now you will, and we get to work on saving the galaxy at the same time," Jolee said, "isn't that convenient?" He patted Carth's shoulder firmly enough to keep him sitting where he was. "Bastila would be the first to tell us that saving the galaxy is more important than saving her. Hmm. Bit too self-sacrificing, that girl, if you ask me."

"We don't even know what's happening to her! I guess you'd know best of anyone." He glared at Jamar. "Since you're the one who knows Malak best of the lot of us."

Jamar glared back. "I was somebody else then." It sounded kind of stupid to his own ears, and he wasn't surprised when Carth made a face like it was the weakest argument he'd ever heard. "And he tried to kill me, he hasn't exactly been telling me everything he's up to!"

Carth still had that look on his face like he expected Jamar to go full-on Sith at a moment's notice.

"You're not very trusting, are you, son," Jolee said.

"I'm supposed to trust Sith Lords now?"

"I'm not a fucking Sith Lord," Jamar said, or at least he hoped he said it and didn't scream it. "You've known me my whole life, Carth, and I mean that really very literally, because I did not fucking exist before the Jedi dumped me on the Endar Spire! If you think I've been some kind of big bad evil since then, why the fuck are you still here?"

6.6.6.5.5

Nobody hit him in the back of the head.

6.6.6.6

Jamar didn't sleep enough, and he knew he didn't sleep enough; he didn't have the time, and there was always the risk of getting ambushed by another vision. He was pretty sure he was too angry right now to sleep, and definitely too angry to talk to anyone, so he flung himself on his bunk and closed his eyes, just for a moment.

Then he fell asleep after all, because of course he did when he wasn't even trying, and a big chunk of his past came loose, drifted up to the surface, and smacked into his dreams. Not everything there was to know about Malak and Revan, but definitely enough about Malak to make Carth's words true. He really was the one who knew Malak best, not just of the lot of them on the ship, but probably of anyone ever.

And that? That was worse than not remembering had been. Getting memories back, any memories, was tough, whether they came in uncomfortably sharp dream-visions or just fell into his head like a handful of thrown grenades and exploded all over whatever he was thinking at the time.

This specific set of memories hurt like a motherfucker.

7.

He should probably have gone to dump his feelings all over Jolee, because Jolee was a tough old man and he could take it, but instead he ended up going to Mission, because, well. Mission.

Jamar paced back and forth. "I don't know what to do about Malak," he said. "And what kind of stupid name is Malak, anyway, he used to be Alek!"

Mission looked up at him, unimpressed, from where she was sitting sideways on a bunk and building something intricate with very small components. "What kind of stupid name is Revan?"

Jamar rubbed one hand over his face. "The kind of stupid where I was trying to make a point, I guess. And I don't remember what it was before. And I don't want to talk about how stupid I was, I want to talk about how stupid Malak is. He was my best friend! Now he's trying to kill me!"

"You did kinda turn him evil first," Mission said.

"Okay. Point." Jamar slumped down across from Mission. "It's just so weird. I mean, I still don't remember everything, but. He always used to do what I told him to do! Except now that I'm trying to tell him to be a good person again." He yanked at his hair with one hand. "Fuck, this is all my fault, isn't it, I broke him and I can't un-break him, shit."

"Hey," Mission said sharply, yanking her components away from his flailing limbs. "Don't mess with my stuff, or I might turn evil."

Jamar stared at her. "Tell me you're joking." He could feel his fingers and toes start to twitch.

"Of course I'm--" Mission stabbed a finger into his chest. "Okay, just sit there for a minute and don't do anything." She put her tray of components aside, got up, and ran out of the room.

That was just great. First everyone found out he used to be the worst bad guy in the galaxy, then Carth started the whole he's-probably-still-evil thing, and now they were running from him. And he'd really thought Mission was okay with it, too -- not with Revan, of course, he didn't know how anyone could be okay with Revan, he wasn't okay with Revan, but with the Jamar she knew.

"Augh." One of the components had fallen off the tray and now it rose from the bunk and began to spin in a wobbly circle in front of him.

Canderous came in. "Settle down, princess."

Jamar jerked, and the component flew off to one side and hit the bulkhead with a clang. "Don't startle me like that! And what are you doing here? Did Mission tell you to, I mean, I get it if she doesn't want to come back."

"Yeah, she sent me in here." Canderous came over and grabbed Jamar's arm and started to haul him upright. "And I know just what you need, but I promised her we wouldn't fuck in here, so come on, get moving."

"Wait, wait, wait." Jamar clutched Canderous's arm right back. "You think you can just fuck me and I'll feel better?"

"Pretty sure, yeah."

Jamar had to admit that was probably true.

All the same, "No," he said, digging his heels in, and score for the amazing Jedi powers, because that actually meant they stopped.

Or maybe that wasn't Jedi powers at all, because Canderous let go of him again, and Jamar missed his touch right away. They'd stopped fucking. This was not a reason to start fucking again. Even if he really wanted to.

"Lot harder if I have to talk you through it," Canderous said, but not as if he was actually angry. "Sex gets you out of your own head for a while."

"Wait," Jamar said. He was starting to feel like that was the only word he knew. "Wait, wait, wait." Seriously, he wanted a pause button for the universe. He waved one arm in the air and nearly hit Canderous's nose. "I used to do this before? You used to do this for him? Revan?"

That was, in fact, a reason not to start doing it again. Another reason. As if he needed another reason.

He still really wanted to, though.

"You are him," Canderous said. "Sure, you get to pick your own name if you want, and you've changed in some ways." His voice turned rougher. "Changed me in some ways. But you're still you. Remember how I said you used to be high-strung?"

Jamar slumped down. "Great. I used to be evil and I'm still evil. Carth will love this."

"Carth thinks high-strung means evil?" Canderous didn't look impressed. "Not like he's so laid-back himself. I'd expect that kind of thing from the Jedi, maybe, the way they talk about emotions."

"Maybe they're right," Jamar said. "I mean, look at me. I was high-strung. I went evil. Apparently I'm still high-strung, and Carth thinks I'm still evil, or about to go evil again, or something."

"Fuck Carth," Canderous said, and ignored the way Jamar grimaced a quick no thank you. "Sit your ass down. Got some things to tell you."

"Oh, and that doesn't sound ominous or anything."

Jamar sat down when Canderous pushed at his shoulder, and then Canderous sat down next to him and put a hand flat on his chest. "Breathe slower. Air's not going anywhere." He dragged Jamar's legs up on the bunk, over his own, so Jamar was sitting sideways, leaning back, and he had to work a bit harder to breathe, which meant he did do it more slowly. "Listen. Last time you told me we should stop having sex and you had things to think about, you went into the Unknown Territories and came back a Sith Lord."

"Shit," Jamar said, snatching in the next breath a little too fast after all.

"No, Sith."

"I want you to know I'm about this far from smacking you right now." Jamar put a hand on Canderous's arm, right where he knew the tattoo was. "So what happened when he came back? I came back. Whatever. With us, I mean."

Canderous shrugged. "Nothing." He looked impassive, but his arm was tense under Jamar's hand. "You weren't interested anymore. I had to make a living. There was good work for Mandalorian mercenaries."

"He just let you go?" Jamar shook his head. "I didn't turn evil, I turned stupid. Fall to the dark side and stop having great sex -- that's not a winning slogan. So you weren't actually fucking the Dark Lord of the Sith."

"No." Canderous sounded as calm as always. "I was fucking the warlord who vanquished my people and defeated our leader."

Jamar's next breath came out as a huff of laughter. "Oh, that's just wonderful. So you were basically my war prize," he said. "Was that, like, the Mandalorian interpretation of to the winner go the spoils?"

"The best warriors had belonged to Mandalore. Now we were yours. I got a bit closer than the others, though."

"Just you? You mean I didn't have a whole harem of Mandalorian warriors in see-through pants?" Jamar held on tighter to Canderous's arm. "That's kind of a relief. Because past me is sounding so skeevy right now, you have no idea. And here I just thought I only went really bad when I went really evil."

"That's not how I would have described you." Canderous reached out and ruffled Jamar's hair. "I was expecting someone big and fierce. The Mandalorian ideal of a warrior. You took off your cloak and mask and there you were, pretty and charming and with a will that could cut through anything, just like your lightsaber blade. I wanted you from the moment I saw you."

Jamar's breath caught in his throat. "Oh." He leaned into the hand cupping his head and closed his eyes for a moment.

7.1

"I liked the Revan kid. Like you better, to be honest. Just as pretty and a bit more grown up."

Jamar considered this. "You realize I'm not even a year old, right?" He looked at Canderous. "Shit, I'm not even a year old and I've been having sex with you in every room on this ship. There's probably laws against that on every single planet we've been to."

Canderous grabbed hold of Jamar and dragged him closer, lifted and adjusted so Jamar was sitting between Canderous's thighs, leaning sideways against Canderous's chest, with his legs sprawled every-which-way along the bunk. "Still the same high-strung princess, though."

"You think I'm pretty," Jamar said, grinning into Canderous's throat.

"Everyone thinks you're pretty," Canderous said. He kissed Jamar's temple like that was the most uncomplicated and natural thing in the galaxy to do.

"I lied before. We haven't actually had sex in this room yet."

"I promised Mission," Canderous said. He stood up, taking Jamar with him. The muscles in his arms did some very interesting things. Jamar went from mildly turned on to really extremely turned on. "Does this mean we can start having sex again?"

Jamar tried to work it out. Canderous knew who he was. Canderous probably knew better who he was than Jamar did himself. And Canderous didn't think he was fucking Revan-that-was, he'd known Revan-that-was well enough to be able to tell the difference, he actually seemed to want the mess that was Jamar-right-now.

Also he was fucking fantastic in bed and Jamar was going to die if they didn't get naked together as soon as possible.

"Yes," he said. "Now. Yes."

"Glad to hear it." Canderous shifted Jamar to get a better grip. "Come on, princess, let's go find a bunk somewhere."

7.5

"It's really weird that I can say fuck now and Bastila's not here to hit me in the back of the head."

Jolee hit him in the back of the head. "Stay sharp, boy!"

7.6

So he might as well settle down about being this self that he was now, being Jamar. He liked Jamar a lot better than Revan, both as a person and as a name. So someone had picked it out of the Jedi Big Book of Baby Names, so what. It was a perfectly good name, and one that he was used to being called, besides, one that other people were used to calling him by. And if he took special pleasure in hearing it said by a certain rough-voiced Mandalorian, well, that certainly didn't lessen its appeal for him.

Jamar was undecided about whether he was a Jedi, though.

Not the whole dark side/light side thing. He wasn't Revan. He didn't like people screaming in pain, or cowering in fear. And he really wished people would stop calling him Revan, which happened more and more often as he went on searching for Bastila and this mysterious Star Forge.

Which couldn't be what it sounded like -- he'd believe a lot about the Force, but not that anyone could actually, literally forge stars. Although it would be a sight to see, on a space-dark anvil, with a hammer made of light...

Anyway. Back to reality. Or something that he'd call reality, at least. He shifted on his bunk, back up against the Hawk's coarse metal plating. He liked his current name. He was going to keep his current name. The question was whether he was a Jedi. Wanted to be a Jedi, for all that he was part of the order at the moment, a sort of recycled padawan, and fought with a lightsaber that felt unnaturally natural in his hand.

He didn't trust the Jedi. They'd created him, and he was grateful for that, certainly, but they'd killed someone else in doing it and called it mercy. The man whose face he wore would probably, Jamar suspected, have preferred death.

Or would he? Perhaps Revan would have believed in the strength and purpose of his own mind, been certain that his convictions would rise up, that his personality would easily dominate whatever feeble little construction the Council put in its place.

They must have been worried. Bastila had seemed to half expect it.

"And instead they got me." Jamar shook his head.

"What?" Canderous murmured next to him. "Shut up, princess. Go t'sleep."

7.7

"So, Carth! Your son is--"

"Shut up."

"--not a Sith any more, that's pretty good, right?" Jolee had that obnoxiously cheerful look on his face.

"Yeah." Carth glowered at him. Then he turned and glowered at Jamar. "...Thank you. For taking me along so I could talk to him."

"Not a problem," Jamar said breezily, doing his best not to think about what a major fucking pain it had been to arrange. "So, just to be clear, does this mean you don't think I'm a ticking timebomb of evil anymore? I'm just asking, because it sounds like we'll be going into some weird Sith tombs looking for the last star map, and I kind of need to be sure that whoever's along has my back."

"I don't betray people," Carth said. "I don't turn on anyone unless they've already betrayed me."

"Yeah, um." Jamar rubbed the back of his head. "You seemed really fucking betrayed by me being me, like it was a big secret being kept from you, and I'd like to point out the Jedi Council did that, they didn't exactly ask me first. Um. Either me."

"You're not helping your own case there," Jolee said, sounding more amused than anything else.

Jamar flailed an arm. "Shut up," he said, not that it had worked for Carth. "I can't do anything about who I used to be, okay? But the me I am right now would like to get through this without anyone getting Sith-stabbed in the back because someone else decided he wasn't worth protecting."

Carth glowered even more. "You're not going down on my watch," he said. "Nice to know how much you trust me."

"I know!" Jamar grinned with all the teeth he had available. "Kind of like how you trusted me after you found out who I used to be, and never said a word against me!"

"That was different and you know it," Carth said. "You were the--"

"The point is, I'm fucking not any--"

Jolee somehow managed to smack them both in the back of the head at the same time. "Boys," he said reprovingly. "You can fight later. Right now, there's a star map to find."

7.9

So the unimaginably ancient race that had set up this weird scavenger hunt to begin with, although it probably hadn't been a scavenger hunt then, was a bunch of fish people who were still kicking around on their own planet, empire and technology mostly lost to time, fighting each other and whoever happened to crash down on their shores after getting caught in that disruptor field.

The disruptor field, obviously, wasn't lost to time. And Jamar and his motley crew had to do something about that if they wanted to get off the fish people planet again and up where they'd really been going, the space station that had to be the Star Forge.

Jamar was kind of impressed that all the fish people he met still had both eyes, sticking out on stalks on either side of their head, even though most of them seemed to be obsessed with fighting. Even if it was some kind of fish people taboo to try to chop off each other's eyes, all the wild animals on this planet -- like oh, hey, rancors -- wouldn't care about that.

Maybe they could retract their eyes into their heads while they were in a fight. No, then they wouldn't be able to see anything. Bad idea. Maybe they had some kind of helmets, though what would those look like?

Jamar decided he could spend his next bout of insomnia trying to design helmets for fish people in his head. Might be a hit on Manaan, too. Right now, he had stuff to do.

7.9.1

"I'm not Revan any more," he told one bunch of fish people.

7.9.2

"I'm not Revan any more," he told another bunch of fish people.

7.9.4

"I'm so tired of this," he said into Canderous's chest late at night. "I'm cleaning up somebody else's mess, except the somebody else is me. This is so fucking annoying. I want to go back in time and slap myself for being such an idiot."

"Long as you remember to breathe slowly," Canderous said.

"And slap the Jedi for sending me on this stupid quest," Jamar went on.

"And for fucking with your head?"

Jamar paused and thought about it. "No," he said finally. "I mean, yes, obviously, but... no. They're the reason I'm me. I like existing."

"I like you existing, too." Canderous rubbed a callused hand up his spine. "You don't like the Jedi. But you're still doing what they told you to do, even though you think it's stupid."

"Yeah," Jamar said, trying to sort his thoughts out. "No. I mean." Sorting his thoughts out was turning out to be complicated. "I think it's stupid, but I still think it needs doing. But not like ooh the Jedi asked me so of course I have to do it. Or ooh the Jedi asked me and they're always right, so..."

"No, that's why Bastila did it," Canderous said.

Jamar made a face. "I have to get her away from Malak. There's no way those two in the same place at the same time can be a good idea." He remembered the torture cells on the admiral's flagship, and Bastila's insistence that he should let her suffer and not give in. "And you're sidetracking me, stop it."

"Think you did that to yourself."

"Yeah." Jamar thought about lifting his head, but it seemed like too much work; all his joints were still pleasantly loose, and he wanted to put off the moment when the familiar tension snapped into place. "I've done all of this to myself. And to other people."

"You could have just left everyone behind and taken off in the Hawk on your own," Canderous said. Jamar didn't say anything, but he lifted his head after all. Not that he could get very much from Canderous's expression. "You don't need Carth to be your pilot. You can fly anything, princess."

Jamar dropped his forehead down on Canderous's chest. "For fuck's sake, don't tell him that. Yes, okay, point made, I didn't have to be on this stupid quest, the Jedi didn't make me go, that's another thing I did to myself." He sighed. "Sometimes I think all the stupid shit in the galaxy is because of something I've done."

"You used to think it was other people." Canderous was playing with his hair now, tugging at the curls and letting them bounce back. "But you always thought you were the one who had to fix all of it back then, too."

"You don't think I'm very different, do you."

The hand in his hair stopped moving. "No," Canderous said. "More like you're just pointed in a different direction."

8.

"She fell to the dark side." Jamar stared at the beach, unseeing. "She fell to the fucking dark side! Bastila!"

She'd always been so earnest, so self-righteous, so full of conviction.

Well, she was still full of conviction, it was just that now she was convinced all that stupid Sith shit was true, that the Jedi had been holding her back, that only the dark side would let her realize her full potential.

It was as if the link between them let the darkness called Revan tempt her, but not him. It didn't make sense, but. Jamar wanted more than anything to coax her back to the light, and not just because he felt responsible for her fall.

No, it was more than that. The dark side seemed like such a deeply uncomfortable place. Wielding self-interest as a weapon, trusting no one, giving in to your passions, but feeling no love.

At least, not what he'd call love. Then again, he was, as he'd already pointed out, less than a year old. What did he know.

"I did not expect this of her," Juhani said, sounding as dazed as Jamar felt.

"It's my fault," Jamar said. "This mind link really fucked her up, she'd've been fine without it. And Malak, he's the one who-- He wouldn't even be who he is without me."

He sank to his knees. A wild gizka hopped close enough for him to pet, so he did. Canderous would probably tell him to remember to breathe slowly, so he did.

It didn't help.

A muttering in the background slowly resolved into Jolee swearing over having been stuck with the most emo prettyboy savior of the galaxy possible, how did this kid ever get to be a Dark Lord of anything, all big eyes big heart big stupid, and this is no place for a man who just wants to see what will happen, but nothing's going to happen unless he--

"I'll help you," Juhani said, and then they tipped a large buckled hull plate from a crashed ship over Jamar, soaking him to the skin in cool sea water.

Jamar spluttered. "What?!"

"Star Forge is up there," Jolee said, jerking a finger skywards. "Malak's up there. Bastila went up there. You want to sit here on the beach while the Republic fleet's destroyed and the Sith take over the galaxy, or you want to do something? It's your choice."

Jamar shook his head, spraying water everywhere. He stood up with the gizka still cradled in his arms. "This is so fucked up," he said.

"If I hit you in the head right now, it would just get my gloves wet." Jolee crossed his arms and stared instead. "The Force is spinning around you like a maelstrom. So what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to catch cold, is what I'm going to do," Jamar snapped. "Come on." He started to run along the beach to the distant outline of the Hawk.

8.1

"You set to go off without me again?" Canderous said, sounding his usual level of neutrally annoyed.

"I need some people to stay with the Hawk," Jamar said. "Keep her ready to fly as soon as we can get out of here again. Shoot all the Sith idiots who're probably going to try to wreck her just to keep us here." He tried a smile, though he had a feeling he wasn't very good at it. "Kill anyone who thinks they can lay a finger on Mission."

Canderous grunted. "Take the other Jedi with you, then. They kept you alive down in that temple. They better be able to do it again."

Jamar nodded. "Make sure Carth keeps his butt in the pilot chair. When we need to get out of here, we're going to need to get out of here fast."

Mission poked her head in. "Jolee wants to know if he should bring those extra-strength healing kits he's been making."

"Oh, fuck, yes. All of them."

She looked gravely at him. "More of us should come with you. I don't like the idea that you're going to go off and get hurt without me."

"Tough," Jamar said. "I'm not taking you to meet the Dark Lord of the Sith, Mission. You wouldn't like him anyway."

8.2

So he took Jolee and Juhani again. Then he lost them.

8.4

Bastila was a good fighter. Bastila was a better fighter now than she'd ever been before.

But he was stubborn as fuck, and apparently all that sex had been great as a cardio workout. He could outlast her.

8.4.5

Well, he wasn't going to kill her.

8.5

"Any idiot can break stuff," Jamar said. "Other people. Themselves. Seriously, Bastila, don't let Malak be the idiot who broke you. I know you're better than this. You taught me to be better than this."

"And for what?" Maybe it was just the dark Sith outfit that made Bastila look so grim-faced and black-eyed. Maybe. "So you could go fall into the arms of the nearest big stupid Mandalorian? He's not worthy of you. But you and I... together, we could rule the galaxy."

"Okay, this is really embarrassing," Jamar said. "Remember how you made a pass at me back on Tatooine?" Bastila just looked at him over her lightsaber blade. "Remember how I said no?"

"I remember," she said, eerily calm. "I had less to offer then. But I can see the strength in you now, and I know you can vanquish Malak. You can take your rightful place again as the true Dark Lord of the Sith, and I will be at your side."

"Really embarrassing. That's not going to happen, Bastila. Any of it. I'm not going to be the Dark Lord of anything, and I happen to like that big stupid Mandalorian."

She shrugged. "You could always keep him as a pet."

"Oh, come on," Jamar said. "That's such a fucking stupid idea, you know what a fucking stupid idea it fucking is. And--" Bastila darted out, faster than a striking snake, and hit him in the back of the head. Jamar grinned. "There you are."

"I... I don't know why I did that," she said.

"Because I'm a foul-mouthed brat and you need to keep me in order," Jamar said promptly. "Look, I can't tempt you to the light side. There's nothing to tempt with, it's just a lot of hard work, mostly thankless. I think the Jedi would probably want me to talk about listening to the Force and the rightness of stuff and the joy of life and blah blah. I'm no fucking good at this."

"I could have killed you before," she said. "If I'd used a killing blow and not that ridiculous, pointless smack."

"Yeah." Jamar grinned. "Except killing blows aren't a habit yet and they're not what's at the core of you. Come back, Bastila. Be that fussy, uptight, rulebound Jedi you were before. Because the dark side sucks, honestly, I mean sure there's power, but there's unhappiness and paranoia, too. You can still wear the Sith robes, they look better on you. But do you really want to spend the rest of your life saying yes master to Malak and screwing people over before they can do it to you? Makes me feel tired just thinking about it."

Bastila looked at him like she was seeing something vaguely familiar through thick and dirty glass, trying to make it out. "You want me to give up power and freedom for stupid rules."

"Yeah. I know it doesn't sound like a good deal. But look, I haven't gone evil again and if anyone ever had a perfect setup for it, I did. That freedom the dark side talks about is all fake, Bastila. Always putting your own interests first isn't freedom. Killing people so they don't get good enough to beat you isn't freedom." He shook his head. "Sitting on the beach watching the sunset and not worrying that someone's gonna stab you in the back is probably as close to freedom as we get."

Bastila wasn't impressed with whatever she saw through the glass. "And what if someone stabs you in the back anyway?"

"Then you still spent all your life up until then not being afraid and looking at sunsets when you wanted. There's a reason for all the stupid rules, you know? Life is more fun than death. The universe works more smoothly when people are nice to each other. This idea that everything is a big fight, that you have to get ahead of other people and be stronger and better..." Jamar shook his head. "Kindness is hard work. You want a challenge, try that."

"You're not very good at this," she said.

"I know. It's not like anyone told me I'd have to give motivational speeches, I wasn't trained for this, shit, you want me to make things spin around instead? Because I can do that. You weren't very good at this light-side propaganda either, you know, you just kept looking at me like I'd suddenly break out in evil excema all over."

"And here we are."

Jamar nodded. "And I'd like to point out that I'm not the one out of the two of us who up and fell to the dark side. And also, I just beat your ass. And also also, you're trying to tempt me with things I really don't want, so just stop, okay?"

"You're not trying to tempt me with anything," Bastila said. "You just want me to come back to the light side because it's hard work but killing people isn't freedom."

"Pretty much," Jamar said. "Look at Juhani, she thought she was big and bad and dangerous and she was just hurting herself."

"The Jedi would never approve of the way you're carrying on with your Mandalorian."

"No, I don't think they would. And, I mean, I'm not telling you to be a Jedi again because I'm a Jedi and it's so great. I'm probably not a Jedi, even if they tried to make me one. I think the Jedi are kind of fucked up, to be honest. But you seemed to like being one, up until Malak talked you into thinking this was better."

"He beat me. He's better than me." She was back to looking unresponsive again. "And that meant he could show me... The pain gave me clarity."

"That," Jamar said, trying not to shudder, "is not how the universe works. Weren't you even listening before? Him being better with a lightsaber than you doesn't mean he has some kind of right to torture you, or important secret knowledge of the truth about whatever, and it doesn't mean the universe is telling you that might makes right and you should be a Sith now."

"So you don't think I should be a Sith, and you don't sound as if you think much of the Jedi."

"You could try just being Bastila," Jamar said. "Or work to make the Jedi a bit more relaxed. Bet Jolee could help with that. Just, stop being evil, please. It's not making you stronger, it's not making you happier, and it's actively making the galaxy a shittier place for a lot of people."

"They'd never take me back," she said.

"Of course they'll take you back, are you kidding," Jamar said. "They took Juhani back. They would probably have taken Revan back -- I mean, in a way they did."

Bastila really looked like she was listening now, even though she still argued. "I fell."

"So you get up again." Jamar looked at Bastila. Then he powered down his lightsaber, dropped it on the floor, and stood defenceless before her. "I can't talk you into this. You're the one who can talk you into this. You're the one who gets to decide if you're going to kill a friend standing unarmed before you or if you're going to reform the Jedi and watch sunsets when you feel like it." He shrugged. "I've got a galaxy to save, Bastila. Want to help?"

8.6

He was lucky that Bastila was, at her core, a good person. Temperamental and persnickety, sure, but not mean, and whatever she'd been through at Malak's hands, it hadn't changed that.

She started to work on helping the Republic fleet instead of the Sith with that weird-ass battle meditation of hers, and Jamar ran off to try to find Malak, the back of his neck tense with the uncomfortable suspicion that he might not get that lucky twice. But he knew he still had to try.

8.7

"Alek, stop. Please."

"That's not my name any more, Revan."

"I'll call you Malak if you call me Jamar."

So maybe being able to talk Bastila into giving up the whole Sith thing had made him a little overconfident. He knew her better, that was kind of the problem. Sure, he had a lot of very vivid memories of the man he was facing now, but they were all broken up in time, scattered here and there along a timeline he couldn't even figure out. And more than half of them were of him talking the poor guy into some really stupid shit, and maybe that should work in his favor, but mostly it just made him wince.

"You talked me into this," Alek-- Malak said, in a disturbing echo of Jamar's own thoughts. "You said it would be a great and glorious thing, the realization of every dream, the fulfillment of our destinies to rule the galaxy. And now that I've already beaten you once, now that I'm the Dark Lord of the Sith, not you, now that I'm about to beat you again, you want me to stop because it's wrong?"

"Well. Yeah," Jamar said.

Malak made a horrible wheezing sound that might have been intended as a laugh. "So Bastila was right. When the Jedi captured you, they gelded you."

"If you're talking to Revan," Jamar said, "they kind of killed him. I mean, I know I'm him, but. At the same time I'm not?"

"When I'm done with you," Malak said, "you will be nothing at all." The blade of his lightsaber hummed to life.

Jamar looked at the face of the man who was once his best friend. "I'm sorry."

"Yes." Malak's eyes were cold. "You are sorry."

And then they were fighting. It was worse than fighting Bastila -- that had somehow been weirdly familiar because of all the sparring they'd done back when he was being (re)trained, so it hadn't felt quite so dangerous. And maybe his conviction that she wouldn't kill him dead had actually been correct.

Malak, clearly, had no such scruples. He'd already tried once. No, twice. Now he was trying again, up close and personal, and there was no one else to interfere. Jamar hated every moment of this. Sure, he'd probably sparred with this man a lot more than he ever had with Bastila, but he couldn't remember that.

He started to talk at random, just trying to distract him, trying to work out a way this could end without a lot of blood and screaming and tears. "It's kind of amazing that this place still works when it's so old. At least, I'm amazed now, was I amazed last time? I can't remember. Amnesia's a bitch."

"You don't remember the repairs you did?" Malak watched him coldly, and his lightsaber was never still.

"Nope." Jamar wished people would stop asking him if he remembered this or remembered that. Because it sucked that he didn't. A whole life was a lot to forget, especially one as eventful as Revan's had apparently been. "And I've been meaning to ask you, what happened to your chin?"

If looks could kill, he would have been a smear on the floor. "You don't remember that, either."

"No, I told you, I--" Jamar was suddenly gripped by a terrible suspicion. "Oh, fuck. Did he do that? Did I do that? Tell me I didn't do that." Malak just kept staring at him, and their lightsaber blades grated against each other. "Fuck!"

"You used to be sharp," Malak said. "Smart. Vicious. Now you're just the pathetic remains of your former self, a shell with the same face, a Jedi puppet who doesn't even know the true meaning of the words he's spouting. My spies tell me you've been going from planet to planet in some clunky old death trap of a ship infested with semi-amphibian vermin."

"Hey, they were cute." Jamar tried a fast attack to the left. Malak countered as if he'd seen that attack a thousand times before. He probably had. "Everyone should have a therapy gizka."

Malak looked as if he'd chop up any gizka that got close to him. He was taller than Jamar and had better reach when he attacked, but Jamar was faster, always had been.

"And a therapy Mandalorian?" Maybe Malak was trying the same thing, to distract with words, though he probably wasn't looking for a peaceful resolution. "I heard you're trying that again, too. The Jedi can't have been as thorough as they'd planned in making you their obedient, sexless little toy if you went out and found yourself another Mandalorian to play with."

"Same one, actually," Jamar said before he realized that he was probably just painting a target on Canderous. Well. More of a target.

"I thought he was old back then," Malak said. "He must be ancient now. If you crave crude physical satisfaction, surely you could have chosen someone younger and prettier."

Jamar snorted. He tried to imagine anything better than the crude physical satisfaction he found with the ancient Mandalorian that Malak was so dismissive of. Then he had to stop, because he couldn't, and also those thoughts were doing a better job of distracting him than anything Malak had done deliberately.

Also, he had no idea how old he was himself. Older than he looked, yes. Not that the Hawk was full of mirrors, let alone good mirrors, but he'd seen his own face enough times by now, and it was surprisingly young. Too young for someone to become a trained Jedi, to fight and win a large-scale war, to fall to the Dark Side and traipse around the galaxy building an empire of his own.

Malak, facing him, looked more timeless, ageless. It was really hard to say anything definite, between the hair loss and the strange metal jaw prosthetis. Maybe Jamar should have looked this up at some point. There had to be Jedi records.

But he had a feeling he couldn't change Malak's mind by holding a birthday party for him, regardless of how many candles were on the cake.

"Sex is great," he said instead. "And sunsets, and... shit, I don't even remember all the stuff I said before. The dark side is boring. Suffering is boring. The only thing you learn from suffering is ow that fucking hurts, how does that make you better and more powerful?"

"I could have shown you," Malak said darkly. "But now I think I'd prefer it if you just died."

"No, c'mon," Jamar said.

8.8

They fought to the death, after all. Jamar was just glad it wasn't his.

8.8.1

"If you're stronger," Malak wheezed, "perhaps the Jedi are right."

"No," Jamar said, casting about for a way to heal his old friend, even though Malak had probably taken too much damage in all the wrong places and there was a charred-meat smell in the air that made him feel sick. "That's not why-- It doesn't work like that, you know it doesn't work like that! I'm not right because I beat you. Stop moving, you'll make things worse, let me--"

"Perhaps if our roles had been reversed, I could have been... redeemed, returned to the light side..."

"Alek, you asshole," Jamar said, "you could have been redeemed right before this fight if you'd only listened to me. All our lives you listened to me when I said stupid shit, and then you had to go and," he flailed wordlessly for a moment and realized that he was dripping tears into an wound that went clear to the bone, that Malak's eyes had glazed over with a horrible finality, and that the last thing Jamar had said to him that he might have heard before he died was to call him an asshole. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm so sorry."

9.0

"You didn't make him continue being a Sith, though," Jolee said. "He had a mind of his own, a will of his own. You didn't make all his choices for him."

"Just the worst ones."

Jolee smacked him in the back of the head. "Your tendency to self-blame is very unattractive."

"He was a grown man," Bastila said. "He made his own decisons. So did you."

"Yeah, and then the Jedi brainwashed me." Jamar eyed the two of them suspiciously. "He was right. That could have been him saving the galaxy, and me cackling evilly all the way to my death."

"Do you really think so?" Bastila was a little thinner and harder-looking after her Star Forge experience, but her hair was as irrepressible as ever. "You lost your memories of who you once were, but you are still that person, making one decision after another."

"That's what Canderous says." Jamar almost laughed as they both looked at him with the same slight air of incredulity. "He knew me before. He says I'm the same guy, only different."

"I don't know if I should be impressed by his eloquence or yours." Jolee had that look in his eyes that Jamar had learned to interpret as a smile, though.

9.5

"A medal. What am I supposed to do with a medal?"

"Stick it in a drawer somewhere." Carth weighed his in his hand. "And remember where you put it, so you can wear it to the next big shindig you get invited to. The Republic likes ceremonies for its heroes, and I suppose you really are one, now."

9.5.1

"Wow, this is so cool! An actual medal! And I think it's really made of--" Mission tested it with a small device she pulled out of a pocket somewhere. "Yes! Score! So I can sell it if things get tough!"

9.5.2

"This is useful. It will show anyone who thinks about exploiting us again that Wookies are valued by the Republic." It was hard to tell if Zaalbar was genuinely mournful or just sounded that way. "I'll have to take it back to Kashyyyk so we can display it in the chieftain's hall."

9.5.3

"Breep-boop!"

9.5.4

"I owe so much to you. Good things and bad things." Juhani bounced the medal in her palm. "But the good things are foremost in my mind now. You brought me back to the Jedi, you've given me time and opportunity to learn and grow, and now both the Jedi and the whole of the Republic have acknowledged me in a way I never dreamed about. Thank you."

9.5.5

"Statement: I did not expect this, master. Question: Will I be expected to wear the meatbag decoration for very long?"

9.5.6

"I don't see why anyone bothers giving an old man a medal. I did nothing special." Jolee cocked an expectant eyebrow, then snorted and went on, "That was your cue to tell me you couldn't have done it without me, young one. Pay attention to these things."

9.5.7

"It seems you were right in thinking that the Jedi would take me back." Bastila firmed her chin. "I will remain worthy of that. Of this." She tapped the medal. "Tell me truly. Did we ever have a chance to be..."

"No," Jamar said, stuffing all his exasperation down out of sight. "You're like a sister to me, Bastila."

"Oh."

9.5.8

"I went to war with the Republic. Now they're giving me medals. You've taken me down some strange paths, princess."

9.5.9

Jamar stuck his medal in a drawer. It seemed like good advice.

9.6

Even though the Jedi wanted to fete him and talk to him and keep him close, Jamar managed to slip away and hide in his own room aboard the Hawk, in his own bunk. It was still uncomfortable, and definitely not big enough for two, but he'd come to like it.

The gizka he'd picked up on the surface of the Rakata planet hopped around the ship, looking for company, and he thought he should probably set it free again. That had been a nice beach, despite all the fallen-ship wreckage, and the gizka was bound to miss it.

He wasn't going to tell anyone, but kneeling over Malak's dead body had opened some doors in his mind -- so quietly that he had barely noticed it himself at the time. The memories of being Revan were waiting for him, and he no longer felt as if his consciousness, his self, was a small, bright spark hovering in a dark abyss full of unknown dangers.

Not that he felt any deep need to stare his Revan past in the face right away. He didn't think it would be dangerous, but he didn't feel it was so necessary, either. Right now, it was enough to know that the memories were there, that he didn't have to rely on other people telling him who he'd been, or on looking himself up in galactic records that were bound to be biased in one direction or another.

He was who he was. Mostly he was Jamar, and that's who was going to deal with the memories, if he needed to do that. And deal with the gizka. And anything else. Everything else.

And with any luck, there'd be no more visions. From now on, he could just be himself, and he had a self to be.

9.7

And things to do. Probably.

9.9

"The Jedi want you back."

"I know." Jamar pressed himself closer to Canderous's side. The room felt chilly. "They keep giving me pointed looks. I guess they don't want me just wandering around the galaxy doing something that I haven't even told them what it is."

"You haven't told anyone what it is." Canderous tugged the covers higher over Jamar's back, as if he could tell.

"That's because I don't know what it is." There was no way Jamar could press closer, but he still tried. "I don't know what I want to do."

The visions had driven him hard, harder than he'd realized. Now that pressure and those expectations were removed, he was both more comfortable and less focused, spinning in dark space and watching for starglints of possibilities.

And trying to dodge the Jedi comet that seemed intent on landing on his head.

"I thought I could go back to being just another Mandalorian mercenary after this was done," Canderous said. He shrugged, the motion not at all impeded by Jamar's weight. "But that's not who I am any more. You changed me."

"Sorry?" Jamar said. "Except I'm not. Whatever you've changed into, I like it."

"Only because the sex is great," Canderous said. His arm was warm and heavy around Jamar's back. Jamar began to feel less cold. "You're the one who took the mask of Mandalore and hid it somewhere. Been meaning to ask you if you remember where."

"Maybe." Jamar thought about it. "You'd make an interesting Mandalore the Reformer."

"And you'd make a lousy warrior bride."

"Excuse you," Jamar said, scrunching his nose up, "I'm an awesome warrior bride. I'm the best warrior you've ever met."

"You are," Canderous agreed. "That's why. No one would believe I was in charge if you were standing next to me."

"Oh." Jamar was already lying down and pressed in close. There was nowhere for him to slump. "Right. Not even if I was clinging to your arm and looking adoringly at you?"

Canderous went suspiciously silent. He didn't make a sound or even breathe in a way that sounded like suppressed laughter. Jamar was impressed. Then he said, "You'd sprain something."

"This isn't helping me plan my future. I thought I could hide from the Jedi by standing behind you. But it sounds like you'd do better without me, so-- Oof." Canderous's arm clamped so tight around him, it squeezed the air from his lungs.

"I wouldn't," Canderous said. "And I don't know that I'm a reformer. That's more something you would do. I do know you're not a man who hides behind others and does nothing. You'd get bored before breakfast. You have to figure out what you want for yourself."

"Mostly I want you." Jamar picked at the edge of the bedcovers. "This is stupid. All I know is I've had enough of the Jedi telling me what to do. Sure, it worked out well this time, but it went really badly the time before that. I want a quiet life."

"No, you don't."

"No, I probably don't." He had no idea what that would be like, or where he'd even start. "But I want a life with you in it." Maybe Jolee was right. Maybe he was in love. The idea wasn't quite as terrifying as before.

"That won't be quiet," Canderous said. "Any more than my life will be quiet with you in it. And again, I never said I wanted to reform the Mandalorians. Maybe I just want to know about the mask because it's a valuable thing."

"It's only valuable because of what it is."

Canderous tugged at his hair. "You know a lot of things that are valuable because of what they aren't?"

"I just meant, it's not something you sell to cash in on all the fancy jewels that it doesn't have. The whole point of having it would be using it as a rallying symbol."

"Plenty of collectors who'd want to hang it on the wall."

"Yeah, and then they'd be dead as soon as anyone knew about it, and there'd be Mandalorians all over the galaxy fighting over who'd be worthy to claim it, and--"

Canderous put a hand over Jamar's mouth. "Forget I asked about it. Leave it where it is. It's not an urgent matter."

"You want urgent? There's still a bunch of Sith enclaves that need to be cleared out." Jamar tugged on Canderous's chest hair in retaliation. "And there's the Rakata to argue with. And everything on Corriban needs to be fixed. And--" He tugged a little too hard, and Canderous growled at him. "You know the Jedi have asked me to do all those things, and about twenty more? I'd need to clone myself."

"And you think getting me to reunite the Mandalorian tribes and reform Mandalorian culture while you pretend to hide in the background and never do a thing to interfere would be better." Canderous's voice never changed from its level rasp. "We won't have a quiet life whatever we do."

"And the Jedi will probably have fits whatever I do." Jamar shrugged as best he could in his position. "Let's just go with what seems to need doing the most at the time. At least we won't be bored."

"No." Canderous's hand curved around Jamar's head. "You're a lot of things, but you're not boring, princess."

10.0

Mission came and leaned against his side. "If you're going that way, maybe you could drop me off on Tatooine," she said.

"That's not where I expected you to want to go." Jamar tried to angle himself to see her face. "That place just has a lot of sand. And your brother." Mission tried to angle herself so he couldn't see her face. "Wait. This is about your brother?"

"I got a message from Griff." Mission kept facing away from him. "I know you've already done so much for him, and I don't expect you to do anything more! I was ready to give up on him myself and just let him keep screwing things up on his own, but if this is as serious as it sounds, maybe I can do something."

"Tell me," Jamar said.

"Apparently he bet money he didn't have that the swoop-racing champion of Taris didn't blow up and could beat everyone on Tatooine, and then he spent the money he didn't win, or maybe he spent money someone else won, that part was a bit unclear." Mission shrugged against his side. "The Hutts are going to feed him to something unless he can show he was right."

Jamar shook his head. "Mission, your brother is--"

"--an asshole, I know. But he's still my brother, and maybe I can work out how to save his life. Again. So if you could just drop me off there, that would be great."

"Sounds to me like you need the swoop-racing champion of Taris," Jamar said, deeply amused that that was actually him. "After that, maybe we can put your brother in a monastery somewhere." He nudged her. "C'mon, pack your stuff."

* * *

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