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A Crime of Passion

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Maul snarled down at the delicate blue petals and blossoms speckled in blood that were left in his hand from his most recent coughing fit; his throat raw, and lungs tight.

Curse the Force for its cruel tricks. Curse fate for its humor. Curse that human Jedi with the face of an angel, and curse his karked heart for such a weakness.

What kind of galaxy would produce such a farked-up disease?

Hanahaki.

The 'beautiful death'.

Kark that. He wouldn't be found dead with flowers sprouting from his lips. Only fools believe it to be incurable. There was a cure, and he would be the one to prove it. He would stand strong and victorious as he met a future and denied death. But first he had to face the cause of his suffering head-on.

Maul didn't know when he had started having such…'feelings' for his Jedi nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi. He just knew that it started slowly, with small signs that he wasn't well. Small coughing fits that came out of nowhere and that smelled faintly floral. A strange flavor lingering in the back of his throat that made him think that he'd eaten a salad of all things. It disgusted him, and he found himself trying to wash away the flavor with water, alcohol, and even brushing his teeth and gargling mouthwash three times a day. It helped his oral hygiene greatly, but did nothing for getting rid of the flavor.

And then he noticed that his symptoms always got worse, always grew permanently stronger after every time he spotted or ran into Kenobi. The brat Jedi who had defeated him on Naboo. The man who danced toe-to-toe with him, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always escaping with part of the Sith's heart.

Realizing the connection between his strange cough and Kenobi only made him obsess over it, trying to figure it out. Yet the more he thought about it—about Kenobi—the sicker he became until finally after a coughing fit he had found a single blue flower petal covered in his own blood fall into his hand.

That's when he knew. That's when he realized his obsession with Kenobi was slowly killing him. That his heart, for some reason he insisted was unknown to him, was yearning for Kenobi to…love him.

And Kenobi didn't love him. Why would he? They were enemies. Kenobi had the right idea, and it infuriated Maul that he'd succumb to such a weakness that even Kenobi could avoid.

And now he had him. He'd tricked the young Jedi Padawan Ezra into being the bait to coax Kenobi out of hiding, and now he stood in the cooling desert sands, studying his weakness in the firelight. He'd aged since their last encounter. Grey hair boldly streaking his red hair and beard. A tired, lonely look in his blue eyes.

It wasn't going to weaken him. Even if it made him want to reach out and hold the human close—let him know he needn't be alone. But that's not what he had come for.

"Kenobi." He hissed, pacing back and forth, sithly eyes locked onto the aging man before him.

"Maul." Came the calm reply, Obi-Wan's tone the same gentle yet strong calm as it always was.

"Ah, look at what has become of you. A rat in the desert."

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow and then glanced back to make sure Ezra was still riding North as instructed. Then he looked back at Maul, "Look what I have risen above."

"I have come to kill you," Maul said, starting to walk around the campfire, his saber staff gripped tight in one hand. His words were met with no surprise. Perhaps that was to be expected, but it still…hurt.

It hurt a lot more than it should, and any further comment he had been about to add, any insult he had to throw—it was lost with another karked fit of coughing that grew so great he fell to his knees, heaving the flowers that choked him into the sand.

Obi-Wan frowned, eyes drifting to the bloody flowers before turning sympathetic and moving back up to Maul's suffering face and heaving shoulders.

"Well this is most unexpected." He sighed, stepping closer to Maul and kneeling down next to him, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder and rubbing small circles. It was infuriatingly comforting.

"It's alright, you'll get it out and the fit will pass." Obi-Wan continued to sooth him as if they weren't enemies—as if they weren't killing each other—as if they were close! It only made his coughing grow stronger. But eventually it did pass, leaving Maul feeling dizzy and raw.

"Drink. Small sips." Obi-Wan was pressing a canteen to his lips.

Curse him; he was accepting the kindness, clinging to it like the weakling Kenobi had turned him into. This wasn't what he came for.

"I don't—need your pity." He spat.

"It's not pity. I know the pains of love. I understand."

"How—can you possibly understand?" Maul spat out.

Obi-Wan's gaze turned remanicant. "Because I have loved and lost many. My master, my padawan, my dear Satine, my troopers, and my entire order. I held myself back from loving them as I should have. I denied our relationships to have a chance to truly grow. I was born for infinite loss and sadness, and I have come to accept that I will spend the rest of my days alone with only the lingering pain of loss and betrayal. I know what it's like to love and be hated for it. To  be called a liar and not believed or trusted."

"Yet you don't choke on it."

"But it has killed me."

"You don't look nearly as dead as you claim, Kenobi."

"There is more than one way to die."

"Jedi nonsense."

"Perhaps." Obi-Wan's lips twitched into a small smile.

Silence stretched out between them.

"We don't have to be enemies, Maul. If you need someone to talk to…I'm here, and I don't have much, but I have a decently soft bed in a sturdy hut."

"You can't help me."

"I can try—if you'll let me."

Feeling his anger raise once again, Maul scowled. Kenobi was mocking him, he was sure of it. He needed to just get things over with and the flowers growing in his lungs and getting caught in his throat would stop growing—wither away along with Kenobi's life force.

He gathered his anger and twisted it until he was seeing red. Feeling the dark side pulse through him and poison his mind in such a familiar way. Only the darkness was his true comfort.

Gripping his saber, he activated it and stabbed it up and through Obi-Wan's middle.

Obi-Wan looked shocked, the fool.

Maul moved up onto his knees and pulled back his saber, watching Obi-Wan fall into the sand.

"A life for a life." He muttered, emotion void from his lips, "Killing you kills the parasite."

Obi-Wan was holding the hole burned into him as he looked up at maul with those beautiful blue eyes, never tainted by darkness. Maul felt his anger slip, just a little, and he sighed, leaning down over the slowly perishing human.

He hovered there for a moment that probably was longer than it felt before he lowered himself more, pressing a passionate kiss to Obi-Wan's lips. Trying to show him the extent of his feelings, and the pain they caused him.

"Oh, I…see…" Obi-Wan muttered before the light faded from his eyes and his body lay unmoving in Maul's arms.

A wetness appeared on Maul's cheeks, rolling down and falling onto Obi-Wan.

He'd done it. He'd killed him after all this time…

And it was more painful than anything he had experienced before. Comparable only to the loss he felt when his brother had died.

Maybe it had worked, maybe the flowers would stop choking him…

But had it been worth it?

Maul wasn't sure anymore as he openly wept over the body of Obi-Wan Kenobi.


-End-