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[personal profile] viola_dreamwalk
I have not been posting at all lately. I need some structure I think to keep me posting regularly, otherwise all my writing energy goes into plugging away at my WiPs (well, and Pinterest -- let's be honest).

I have, on the other hand, been writing. I'm better than halfway through Iteration, which I've decided to just knock out entirely before I go back to Percy Weasley: Rogue Demon Hunter and deal with how much I hate chapter 7. :(

In the meantime, here's a bit from right in the middle of Iteration (a.k.a. the Star Wars EU AU that I always hoped someone else would write so I wouldn't have to), just to prove to myself that I haven't wussed out again on this whole fandom thing. I do love this fic, despite that it's entirely self-indulgent and mostly written for an audience of one. It's also threatening to be novel-length, so there's that, too.

From: Iteration, Chapter 5: Instability

True to her word, Maddoc really had stashed Skywalker and Antilles in a storage closet. Karrde hit the release and the door opened, revealing the pair of them seated on packing cartons in the cramped little room. Skywalker was frowning at a spot on the floor in front of him; Antilles just looked worried. They both looked up expectantly when the door opened.

“You wanted to talk, Skywalker?” Karrde said. “Fine, let’s talk.”

Antilles chanced a look in Skywalker’s direction, but the whole of Skywalker’s attention was on Karrde. “I did go to the trouble to come all this way…” he said, mildly.

“If I were you,” Karrde said, folding his arms across his chest, “I’m not sure now would be the time to try my patience.”

“I think,” Skywalker said, his voice going very calm, “that you’re forgetting exactly who you’re talking to.”

“I’m well aware of your skills, and that you’re only still here because you choose to be. Even so, there’s no need to be rude.”

Skywalker actually laughed at that. “Well, that’s a bit more like the Talon Karrde I remember…”

“If you’re here for a walk down memory lane, you may be disappointed,” Karrde replied, gesturing Skywalker out of the storage room.

“Luke-” Antilles began, moving to follow as well.

“You sit tight,” Karrde said to him. “I’ve no doubt Aves will be along shortly to check on you.” He hit the lock and the door slid shut in Antilles’s face.

Once they were in Karrde’s private office at the back of the complex, Skywalker stood in the center of the room and watched Karrde for a long moment before saying, “Aren’t you even going to offer me a drink?”

“Sit down, Skywalker.”

“How disappointing. You were always such a good host before…”

“You mean like the time I drugged you and kept you locked in a storage shed for a week?”

Skywalker actually smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “The accommodations were a little rustic, it’s true. But food and drink were better-than-average, especially for a kidnapping.”

“I didn’t kidnap you on purpose, if you’ll recall,” he replied. “Believe me, if I could take it all back and make it so we never found you in the first place, I would.” He thought, unbidden, of Mara and whether she would still be there if Skywalker had never dropped into their lives like that. Maybe, maybe not.

“You weren't the only one who cared, you know,” Skywalker said, reading him easily.

“This is hardly the time or the place to have that conversation,” Karrde replied, turning away. “I thought you were here to discuss a deal, to make some peace between us.”

“You loved her,” Skywalker said, apparently determined to push his luck.

Karrde laughed sharply and shook his head.

“Fine. Call it whatever you want – but I felt it, too. At least, I think I could have, given time.”

“It's easy to love a memory, Skywalker,” Karrde said, a little more harshly than he'd really intended. “Memories are uncomplicated, they can't disappoint you. I don't have any illusions about who Mara was.”

“And I do? Maybe, or maybe I just saw things in her that you never did.”

“Underestimating Mara was never a problem for either of us.” He paused. “One might even go so far as to say that’s what got her killed.”

Skywalker flinched just noticeably. “That’s a low blow, Karrde.”

“And that remark about Maddoc right off the draw? That was perfectly gentlemanly?”

“You’ve spent the last year howling your grief to anyone who would listen, so to walk in and find you’ve simply traded in for a new model… Maybe my reaction was a little less than gracious. I think I’m allowed a little latitude.”

“Maddoc isn’t Mara – she’s not even close. She’s a smart girl, she’s useful more often than she’s not, but that’s all she’ll ever be.” Karrde poured himself a drink from the sideboard, and didn’t bother to offer one to Skywalker. “And as far as your latitude goes, I think we both know exactly when you threw away your chance for any consideration from me…”

Skywalker’s face went dark. “I, at least, respected Mara enough to do what she asked of me – enough to let her go. You-”

“This is dangerous territory, Skywalker,” Karrde said. “Are you sure you want to talk about this? You want to have this out now, just the two of us? I’m in a mood to oblige you, but I’m not sure you’d like the outcome.”

"Fine,” Skywalker said, appearing to get his emotions back in check. “Let's talk about the matter at hand, then. You took information. Why?"

"As an insurance policy, against this very day." Karrde took a drink of his whiskey.

“That's a little dramatic, don't you think?”

“Fine, then. I took it because that's what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. The fact that it's something you people want this badly is just a nice side benefit.”

“So what do you plan to do about it now?”

He folded his arms across his chest. “I won't sell it. Not to you.”

“You were willing to sell us information before-”

“And the price was a little too high, wouldn't you say?”

“It won’t be like that this time, I promise.”

Karrde sat down behind the desk. “Oh, I wasn’t talking about Bel Iblis – though, needless to say, I wasn’t very happy about that, either.”

“What were you talking about, then?” Skywalker asked, though it was fairly obvious he already knew.

“Why don’t you tell me? After all, you’re the one who’s supposed to have special insight into human nature.”

“That's not how it works and you know it.”

He smiled slowly. “Well, that wasn’t how it worked for Mara, that’s true. But, in the end, it didn’t work at all for her, did it?” And there it was. “She knew, you know,” he continued. “She knew what would happen to her if she helped you, and she went anyway.”

“The future isn't set,” Skywalker replied. “It's always in motion. She couldn't have known.”

“You just keep telling yourself that.” He fell silent for a moment, Skywalker watching him carefully, doing whatever Jedi thing he did to figure out what was happening below the surface. He didn't need to bother. This was information Karrde was more than happy to share. “She knew, all right. Toward the end she barely slept because of the nightmares-”

“She told you what she was dreaming about?”

The truth, of course, was that she'd never actually told him – but he'd shared a bed with her often enough to make an educated guess.

Skywalker studied him for a moment longer. “Well, that explains a few things. I had wondered,” he said with a deep frown, which left Karrde wondering exactly what the extent of her relationship with Skywalker had been. He wasn’t jealous, really – it was far too late for that now, anyway – just curious.

“Was she sleeping with you, too?” he asked bluntly, and had the satisfaction of seeing Skywalker actually flinch.

“I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

“On the contrary, it sounds like we had a lot of business in common...” Skywalker shook his head, but Karrde continued, “I knew there was something between you, but I was never sure just how far it had gone. It sounds like you were in the same boat…”

“Don’t make it out to be so cheap,” Skywalker began. “She wasn’t-”

“Mara liked powerful men – more than that, she needed them. Whether either of us was anything more than another in a long line…?” Karrde shrugged.

Skywalker went white, looking ready to punch Karrde right in the mouth. Good, he owed Karrde one. The last time they’d come to blows, Karrde had nearly broken Skywalker’s jaw. It had been a cheap shot, one that he’d never have been able to get by a Jedi under normal circumstances, but at the time they’d both been past caring.

Predictably, though, Skywalker steadied himself. “I’m not going to let you goad me into a fight. I know it would make you feel better, but it’s not worth it to me. Mara-”

“Mara what?”

“She deserves better. She deserves better than us at each other’s throats; she deserves better than our anger. After everything she gave up…”

“You sanctimonious asshole. I’ve got half a mind to just shoot you and be done with the whole business.”

“That would be foolish,” Skywalker said, but in a tone of voice that made it clear he knew Karrde wasn’t really serious.

“You’re probably right.” Karrde hit the remote door release and gestured at the exit. “So go get Antilles and get the hell off my planet before I change my mind about those odds.”

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January 2012

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