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love is a waiting game

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The thing about space–-

The thing about space is–-

Doc pours the last finger of whiskey from the bottle stuffed in the back of her nightstand. Jehnen’s Reserve. It smells like wood and spice and credits. He’s been saving it for a special occasion, but it’s looking more and more like the thing he’s been waiting for–-Like the thing–-

Fuck.

The door slides open with a hiss. Rhese is back in his robes now, pressed and neat and shining. As if if looking like a proper Jedi’ll make him feel like one too.

“Kira gone?” Doc asks, still staring into his whiskey. Her whiskey.

“Left an hour ago.”

“You on your way out?”

“It’s time,” Rhese says.

Feels to him like there’ll never be a right time to leave the Renegade, their home, but that’s just the whiskey talking and he knows it. Jehnen doesn’t fuck around.

“This place is a wreck.” Rhese has been in here a dozen times since it happened, looking for clues or tools or an excuse to remember, but now he looks around like the mess surprises him. “We could clean–-”

“No.”

“Doc–-”

No.”

Rhese drops his pack by the nightstand, picking his way through the disaster to join Doc on the floor. “It smells in here,” he says.

“Then leave.”

He rolls his eyes. “Don’t be a prick. I’m just saying, if you’re doing this for her, she isn’t going to give a damn. Probably won’t even notice. You know how she is.”

Doc does know. He knows that no matter how many times he puts her boots in their wardrobe, she’s always gonna leave them at the foot of the bed. He knows her belt’s always gonna be on the back of the desk chair and her bracers are gonna get dropped in the fresher. He knows she’s never gonna put the toothpaste back where she found it; she’s never gonna put her laundry in the hamper. He knows she likes her sheets a little lived in, and if he’s waiting for her to make the bed he’ll be waiting the rest of his life.

He knows that for as long as this room looks like she just walked out of it, he can keep telling himself she’s about to walk back in.

Rhese’s hand falls heavy on his shoulder. “She’ll be back,” he promises. “She always comes back.”

Doc knocks back the whiskey. It ignites him from the inside out, the last bright-burning thing left in this graveyard he used to call home. Six months ago, he felt as sure as Rhese is pretending to be now. Nirea Velaran is a clever woman, quick and strong and fierce. He’s seen her outrun certain death so many times, it was easy to be sure she’d do it again.

But that was six months ago.

“We just have to wait,” Rhese insists. “She’ll be back.”

I’m a man of many talents, he told her once, but waiting isn’t one of them. “How long before there’s nothing left for her to come back to?”

Rhese sighs, hand slipping into the folds of his crisply pressed robes. He removes a beat-up old flask-–how the Jedi conceal so much in the flimsy fabric of those shabby little costumes he will never understand–-and unscrews the lid. Doc notices an engraving in the corner, a single word in a language he doesn’t recognize, the lines faint from age and wear. Rhese pours another finger into his glass.

“That’s why we have to leave.”

He can almost hear her voice–-I told you so, Kimble–-can almost see the little smile, sad as it is fond, curling the corners of her mouth. She always said the galaxy would fall apart without her. He hates when she’s right.

“You know,” he says, swirling the whiskey in his glass, “she’ll kill me if anything happens to you.”

“Yes, well, the same goes for you.”

Banthashit, he wants to say. There are a lot of things he wants to say. Instead, he sniffs at his drink. The cheap swill burns every hair in his nose.

“She’s coming back,” Rhese says again. Like if he says it often enough, one of them will start to believe it.

“Yeah.”

“Will you wait?”

I’m a man of many talents, he told her once, but waiting isn’t one of them.

“Yeah,” Doc says. “I’ll wait.”