My eyes fly open and I sit up, trying to catch my breath and stop my mind from spinning. Once again, my sleep has been anything but restful. Instead of peaceful dreams and darkness, my mind's eye is reeling from images of destruction and despair. My chest feels tight and my heart is slamming against my ribcage with a ferocity I didn't know was humanly possible. Then again, I hadn't been aware that all the things Revan—I—had done were humanly possible.
I snort at the thought, shakily disentangling myself from my sheets and gingerly getting to my feet. Of course it was humanly possible. I just can't seem to accept the fact that doing all that had seemed moral and simply right to Revan, me, then.
Here it comes again, that feeling of drowning in despair. It nearly chokes me before I swallow hard and move to get dressed. I find myself reaching for the old leather jacket I'd found on the Endar Spire. All of that seems as though it were eons ago. Before I started remembering who I was. The thought sends a shiver up my spine and I shrug on my jacket and leave my room.
I wind up in a cantina not far from where I live, nursing a cheap replica of Tarisian Ale. The sharp, searing pain of the alcohol sliding down my throat helps banish the images still flashing in my mind. Broken bodies, burning planets, fallen soldiers... The memories are tinged with red in my mind, the colors dark and desaturated. I know it's my mind's way of telling me that those days were sadistic and wrong.
My chest tightens as I take another drink and remember all the people that I let down along the way. My closest friend at the time, Alek; the Jedi who'd rallied behind me and gone off to their doom; the people who I'd fought to protect, and then turned on; Bastila, the one person I'd been desperate to protect from the dark side, and she'd fallen anyway. Some "prodigal knight" I'm turning out to be.
I know I should stop drinking, but at the same time, I have to punish myself for my past. The aching burn in my throat nearly brings tears to my eyes, but I know how matter how much I drink, it won't be enough. I won't be able to forget, and I won't be able to atone for the pain I caused everyone else in the galaxy.
My stomach churns in protest as I gulp down another drink. Out of the corner of my eye, the room appears to be swimming, a sign that tells me I should leave. By the time I toss some credits on the bar and get to my feet, the room is definitely swaying.
I let my feet guide me to the door, vaguely hoping that I'll end up back at my apartment.
I wake to the feeling of something cool being pressed against my forehead. Instinctively, I flinch away and the pressure ceases immediately.
Someone sighs, and a jolt of terror goes through me. No one else is supposed to be in my apartment. My senses are too muddled to feel out who it is through the Force, so I resort to opening my eyes. Thankfully, the lights are out and the room is dim, save a sliver of light coming through the shade on the window.
"Why must you keep doing this to yourself?" a familiar voice asks quietly, the words slightly twisted by a Talravin accent.
I relax immediately, only picking up on the sadness and concern in Bastila's voice a few moments later. I open my mouth to answer but only a groan comes out as my hangover drills into my head.
Bastila replaces the cool rag she'd been laying on my forehead wordlessly; her silence is unnerving. I can faintly sense some sort of emotional torment going on inside her through our bond, but the churning in my stomach distracts me.
I somehow gather the energy to get up and run for the bathroom. Surprisingly, Bastila's there behind me, rubbing my back gently and stroking my hair as she holds it away from my face for me. I know she's always been sensitive to smells and I'm surprised she's not gagging along with me.
"You can leave if you want," I manage, hating the gravelly sound of my voice. Force knows I've put myself through this enough to be used to it, though.
Bastila shakes her head, continuing to just silently be there with me.
Part of me is touched at her care, part of me is embarrassed at her seeing me like this, and part of me knows I don't deserve it.
Once I've finished, Bastila brings me a change of clothes and a towel, giving me privacy to shower. I'm moving slowly, but I get in and scrub the grime from my skin, only beginning to really smell the alcohol on me, not to mention the stench of the vomit from the other end of the small bathroom. My stomach roils again, but I fight away the urge to throw up again. The water soothes my stiff muscles, but it's loud enough that it makes my headache worse, and I don't want to stay in it any longer than I have to.
As I'm dressing myself, I hear Bastila pacing outside the door. She lets out a frustrated sigh and walks away, presumably across the room.
My back already aches from all the heaving I did, but I grit my teeth and slide the shirt on anyway. Once I'm fully dressed, I take a moment to brush my teeth, relieved to have my mouth feel clean again.
When I step out of the bathroom, I find Bastila sitting at the foot of my bed, hugging her knees to her chest. I feel her trying to ease my pain through our bond but I block her from doing anything. I want to feel this, to suffer for everything I did wrong.
Her face crumbles and she looks as though she wants to cry. "Why won't you let me help you?" she asks softly, her voice trembling. "Why do you insist on torturing yourself?"
I feel a frown creep across my face. "I deserve it."
She shakes her head emphatically. "You don't! You can't deserve to keep putting yourself through all this… this… nearly every night!"
A defeated sigh escapes my raw throat as I go over and sink down onto my bed beside her. "I can," I answer quietly, hoping she'll somehow understand, "and I do. I just… all the pain I created as Revan…" I trail off, not sure how to word what I need to convey to her.
Bastila's face contorts into a disbelieving frown. "You have to forgive yourself. That… That wasn't you. It was the dark side."
"I was the one that gave the orders. If is my fault and I don't know how to make up for it," I snap, hoping the irritation in my voice shields the weakness I feel.
Bastila's quiet for a moment, absorbing what I've just said. "You've already atoned for your wrongs, you know." She turns and fixes an emotionally charged gaze on me. "Defeating Malak, destroying the Star Forge… you've more than made up for any wrong you've done."
I'm momentarily lost in the whirlwind of emotions I can see in her eyes. A part of me so strongly wants to believe her, but the rest of me knows I can't. I look away and swallow. "I let everyone down," I whisper as my chest constricts. I drop my voice so she won't hear me add, "I let you down."
Bastila exhales shakily. "You didn't. You've never let me down."
I purse my lips, not trusting myself to talk. I'm edging closer and closer to losing control of my emotions, especially since she heard my last admission that I'd wanted to keep hidden. The pounding of my head isn't helping matters at all.
She hesitates for a moment. "... Is this about my fall to the dark side?"
I turn away from her, not wanting my body to betray me and start crying. I know if she fixes her gaze on me again, I'll lose it. Her question is more direct and correct that I want it to be. As much as the rest of the galaxy's pain has been gnawing at me, there's been a deeper ache. The guilt of not being able to protect Bastila has been slowly killing me. I've been blaming the bond and the latent darkness of Revan in me for tempting her, for causing her descent into the blackness.
"Oh, Erin," Bastila breathes. She reaches out for me, but I flinch away.
"Thanks for the help," I say, hating how choked my voice sounds, "but I think it might be better for you to leave."
I can feel the sting of my words in the air and through our bond. I regret the words and the pain they just caused, but I won't take them back because I honestly don't think I can keep myself from breaking down if she stays much longer. I'll never forgive myself if I give her another reason to worry about me.
For a long moment, Bastila doesn't move. There's a wave of forced calm from her, and I hear her whisper a part of the Jedi code under her breath.
Then she grabs my arm and spins me around. "No."
I find myself looking into her surprisingly angry gray eyes. "Excuse me?" I respond after a moment, my insides coiling nervously. Bastila is one of the most peaceful people I know, yet she looks like she wants to rip me to pieces with her bare hands.
"No. I refuse. I will not. Absolutely not. Alderaan will have to spontaneously explode before I leave. No! Did you hear me this time?" She shakes me, probably without realizing it.
I start to nod mutely, but she pays the action no mind and blazes on.
"I am so sick to death of you constantly trying to punish yourself for no reason! It tears me up inside, knowing that you're in such pain and won't let me in to help you." Her voice catches. "When you block me out... it scares me. I worry about you so much, Erin."
She's quiet for a moment and tears start to fill her eyes as they search mine.
"I miss your smile," she whispers. "Seeing it would always... I felt like I could do anything. I miss hearing you laugh. I just... I miss seeing you happy."
She seems to realize she has a death grip on my arm and lets go of me. Her eyes are still boring into mine, and I feel paralyzed as tears slip down her cheeks.
"I know... I know I was terrible about showing it, and I know you didn't push me. And even though I was so scared of the Council..." She sighs and closes her eyes as a frown wrinkles her brow. "I'm not making any sense, I'm sorry. Erin... You were the reason I didn't let Malak kill me. I knew you would be able to save me from myself.
"You taught me what it's like to be in love," Bastila says, tears slipping down her cheeks freely. Her voice is trembling and is so sincere it cuts through me, right to my core. "And what it's like to love someone so completely that you'd give your life for them."
My mind flashes back to the Leviathan and the way Bastila had sacrificed herself for me. Looking back, I can remember the fiercely protective expression she'd been wearing. The love in her eyes is suddenly vivid in my memory.
"I love you, Erin," she whispers, snapping me back to the present. She reaches up and cups my cheek in her hand, gazing at me with a sort of pleading tenderness. "I love you so much. Please let me in. Let me help you."
The expression on her face is one of pleading desperation. One glance at her tearful, hopeful, loving eyes makes my resolve to refuse her help crumble. I start to cry and she opens her arms to cradle me to her. I fall into them, allowing myself to be surrounded by love from the one person I'd never dared to let myself dream it would come from.
"Shh," she murmurs, holding me and stroking my hair. "It's okay. You're all right."
I can almost physically feel myself unwinding and releasing the pain and hurt. Everything fades away and all I'm aware of is her clinging to me.
I'm unaware of how much time has passed, and I can't find it in myself to care. All I know is that Bastila's still hugging me and still occasionally whispering that she loves me.
She loosens her grip on me when she realizes that I've cried myself out, although I can see her reluctance at doing so. "Better?" she murmurs, leaning away enough to look me in the eye.
I draw a shaky breath, nodding at her. It's true, I do feel better. I know I've been bottling up my feelings and trying to drink them away, but something about simply letting myself break down crying feels refreshing deep down in my soul.
"Don't leave," I croak, my voice thick and scratchy.
"I won't," Bastila assures me instantly, offering me a smile.
I grin back at her, a surge of giddiness flowing through me when I see her elation at my smile.
She grabs me up in another warm hug, and I can feel her happiness through our bond.
"Bas?" I ask after a moment.
She pulls away and looks up at me nervously. "Do you feel sick again?"
I shake my head. "No. Not yet, anyway." I reflect for a minute on the fact that she's here and loving me unconditionally. "I'm sorry. For everything. Especially for everything since the Star Forge."
"It's all right," she stresses, though her eyes display a little bit of confusion.
I'm tempted to snort at her reassurance on the completely wrong topic, but I refrain. "I mean for hiding here and hurting you because of the way I chose to self-destruct."
Her face changes and she looks like she wants to respond.
"Thank you," I interrupt her before she can begin, though the meaning behind my words remains, "for loving me anyway. I only told you once out of desperation on the Star Forge, but I love you, Bastila." I lean in and place a kiss on her forehead, knowing that even though I brushed my teeth, it would probably still be gross to kiss her just now.
We grin at each other, both pleased with the turn the morning has taken. True to her word, Bastila stays with me all day, distracting me and nursing my hangover. Having her there is better and more natural than I had ever hoped or dreamed. She seems to feel the same way and insists on staying the night.
I wake up to find her curled against me, and I realize that I am the reason she's alive. As much as I saved her, she's saved me. As she shifts and wraps an arm around me, I finally begin to realize that Bastila was right; I do need to forgive myself. I know it may take some work and some tears, but I also know that as long as I have the woman curled up in my arms, I can accomplish anything.