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your lips taste like the sea, salt-sweet

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“Sorry,” Jon whispers, half-delirious with exhaustion, a tremble in his bones.

“Don’t be,” Fay tells him, smoothing a hand over sweat-matted dark hair. The controlled fear of an hour ago is fading, settling into her own weariness, and she’s healed whole villages, fought off plagues and bioweapons and mass casualties in her hundreds of years serving the Force, but this—

This was hard, and Fay is weary.

Jon's head rests in her lap, and she lays her hands over his brow, lacing her fingers together, and leans down with a sigh, resting her forehead against her knuckles. She can see Jon's hands against his chest, the tremble in them that’s fading nerve damage and Force exhaustion in equal measure, and it aches deep in her chest, even though she knows she fixed it. Even though she knows this isn't another person she loves who’s about to die in her arms.

“Don’t be,” she repeats, and lifts her head, stroking his hair back. keeps her voice steady with an effort of will, and says, “Instead, tell me what in the Force you were thinking, child.”

The rough rasp of Jon's breathing is the only answer, but his scarred mouth curves. He turns his head into the curve of her hand and closes his eyes, apparently unrepentant.

“You will be the death of me, child,” Fay says, exasperated and fond in equal measure. “What would that boy say?”

The amused curve of Jon's mouth pulls into something that’s all regret and pain, and he reaches up. Doesn’t try to talk, but grasps, and Fay catches his hand, lets the familiar slide of images wash over her. Jon didn’t like to talk, when she first met him as a teenager. She’d thought he couldn’t, for the first year, and this was a workaround, simple and effective. It still feels like comfort, like a solemn, battered boy who shone so brightly despite what he’d endured.

The images are less comforting, tinged grey with Jon's fatigue. A fight, between him and the Mandalorian he saved from slavers and fell in with. Vicious words, and of course Jon couldn’t return them, couldn’t dispute them—he’s not the type to confront anyone he cares about. And then Fay, the odd feeling of seeing herself through another’s eyes, and—

“Oh,” she whispers, and that aches like guilt. Swallowing, she smooths her free hand over Jon's hair. “Jon—Jon, I never meant—”

Never meant the dismissal, the coldness. It was an anniversary, and one she’s kept for hundreds of years; having it interrupted made her snappish, cool, and she breathes out, accepts the fault, and kisses his forehead. “I'm sorry, Jon,” she says, but he shakes his head, eyes sliding closed. No more words, but—that curl is reassurance, just a touch of I fixed it, I helped that’s stubborn and desperate and makes her throat feel impossibly tight.

“I will be comming Jango,” she warns, soft, and Jon's expression twists. He’s too far over the edge to actually protest, though, and Fay takes that as permission. She breathes out, pressing her forehead to his again for just a moment, then lifts her head. Jon is sinking into unconsciousness, the strain of the healing and his efforts too much, but—it’s not the sort that will slide him down into death without waking. Fay managed to stop the progression before it was that far along. She’s had a thousand years to practice, and this time there was no failure, no Jedi lost to permanent stasis because of her.

Or—not permanent. Not anymore.

Gently, carefully, she shifts Jon off of her lap, lays him out on the blue grass and drapes her robe over him to keep the moon’s chill off. Then she rises, pushing her hair back behind her ears, and looks at what Jon managed in the course of nearly killing himself.

In the light from the gaseous planet below, the tomb glows. Its walls are made up of the same glassy stone that’s so common on the surface, because Fay had nothing else when she built it. Built it and buried it, and meant to come back, but—

War. There was war, and a destroyed star, and all the records of a hyperlane lost in the ensuing struggle. Fay had searched, furious, bitter, raging, right up until the moment the Order had recalled her, made her see what she was becoming. It had shocked her out of her grief, left her shaken, and she’d thrown herself back into helping in the Outer Rim as its colonies expanded. Once a year, on the anniversary of a light put out, she had allowed herself a week of searching and no more. Had listened, waited, hoped for any trace of the Force pulling her towards a familiar moon, but—

That sort of listening is Jon's gift, it seems, not hers.

Slow, deliberate, she passes the great stones of the entranceway, the careful balance of the pillars and the vaulted roof. There's a thick layer of dust and grim dulling the glass, but—the whole place has been buried for almost a thousand years. Buried and waiting, waiting for a brave boy who feels too much and took Fay's grief as his own, and Fay's throat is tight. Her hands want to tremble, but she presses them to cold glass and doesn’t let them.

She did this, once. But now—now she can fix it, and Jon gave her the chance.

Every step now is one she remembers, done in reverse. Fay left this place, once, fled it as the sun rose because she feared herself, was horrified by what she’d done. A child herself then, comparatively, with too much power and not enough control, and he’d been so hurt, dying, fading.

All she wanted to do was save him, and she hadn’t.

Fay pauses at the edge of blue glass, melted and twisted into shape. There's a handprint embedded in the wall, and she lays her own hand over it, a perfect match. A mark of her grief, that she hadn’t even noticed making it as she left, but—

She’s not leaving now.

Stepping into the main chamber, Fay casts a glance up. The roof cracked when Jon dragged the whole temple up out of the earth, and the moon’s aurora swims across the sky in brilliant streamers, making the glass glow. There's no pedestal, because he would have hated that; instead, the body lies in the center of a fractal sweep of lines and curves, strange and organic. One surprisingly small figure, armor dulled with time, hands clasped around a braided lock of brown hair instead of a lightsaber hilt. One last request, when they’d both realized Fay was failing, and Fay has never even touched a lightsaber since she brought his back to the Temple, saw it safely stored away. There's no one else alive she would break that particular conviction for, and no one else alive who would know what the breaking of it means, the weight of that decision.

Closing her eyes, Fay slides to her knees beside the still form, leaning over him. Even now, a thousand years later, she doesn’t need sight to find the clasps on his armor, to undo them one at a time and carefully, gently set them aside. When there's nothing but cloth under her fingertips, she reaches up, slides his helmet free, and opens her eyes.

Tarre still looks the same. Looks like he’s sleeping, every mechanism of his body halted. She’d been trying to keep the Force exhaustion from killing him, but she hadn’t known how, hadn’t had a thousand years to hone the skill on self-sacrificing idiots who didn’t care about their limits. Fay isn't a new Knight now, though, isn't frantically trying to keep her lover alive in the aftermath of slaying a Sith, and she smiles a little, bending forward. His dark hair curls over his forehead, and she brushes it back, lays a kiss on his brow and slides a hand over his chest.

“It would be easy to say the universe needs you now, Tarre,” she says quietly, and she healed Jon already, brought him back from the edge of death, but when she reaches for the Force the vast wellspring of it is still there, threaded through her bones. “But I'm not sure if it has ever stopped needing you. I know I haven’t.”

Beneath her fingertips, there's a shudder. One heartbeat, in a heart long frozen still, and Fay breathes out, focuses. Breaking the stasis is simple; fixing the wounds that led to her throwing Tarre headlong into that state in the first place takes more concentration. But—not that much more. It’s been a very long thousand years.

A heartbeat shudders, a breath jars from lungs that haven’t moved in centuries, and Fay leans down and kisses Tarre, half an instant before a long-missed mind curls around her own.

There's a flicker of surprise, a wash of warmth and humor and sweet reverence, and Tarre kisses back. A hand threads through Fay's long hair, an arm wraps around her back, and Fay lets herself be pulled down without hesitation, cups his face and gives him the first of the countless kisses she’s saved for him. Pours herself into it, wraps her mind through and around his, and Tarre at least has never feared her connection to the Force, never coveted it. Even now, when Fay was almost his death, there's nothing but that familiar awe as Fay's vast presence closes around him.

“Fay,” Tarre breathes against her mouth. Smiles, fingers stroking, and says, “You grew out your hair.”

Fay laughs, laughs because otherwise she’s going to cry. “That’s all you have to say to me? After a thousand years?”

There's a faint hitch, a flicker of disbelief, then rueful amusement. “Something happened,” Tarre concludes. When Fay snorts, he gives her a crooked smile. “We’re Jedi. Something always happens.”

“Many, many things have happened,” Fay allows. When Tarre groans and pushes up, she loops an arm around his back, helping him to his feet, and steadies him as he catches his balance. She weighs all the things she could say, all the possible ways to broach the millennia of disasters and changes since he fell into stasis, and then says, “Members of your clan stole the Darksaber from the Temple right after you were declared dead.”

Tarre freezes, one hand halfway outstretched towards his helmet. “They what?” he demands, voice cracking. “It’s a lightsaber. It’s mine!”

Fay hums, and she’s not one to seek out violence, but—well. Watching Tarre reclaim his blade won't be a hardship, that’s for certain. “It was still with House Vizsla, last I heard.”

“It should be with the Jedi Temple,” Tarre says, deeply displeased. He wraps an arm around her, leaning on her shoulder, and sighs. “And you?”

Fay hums, considering her response. “I learned how to remove all of a person’s memories and strip them back down to a blank slate,” she says after a moment, thoughtful. “No one tries to tell me I should kill anymore.”

Tarre is silent for a long moment, then snorts. “No,” he says dryly. “I don’t imagine they do. That’s terrifying, light of my heart.”

“Practical,” Fay starts to counter, but Tarre kisses her before she can get the word out.

Well. Apparently he doesn’t entirely object to the method, then.

“Jon,” Fay manages to get out when she comes up for air. “He still needs healing, I need to go back to him.”

“Jon,” Tarre repeats, raising a brow at her. “Someone I should know?”

Fay tries to put the connection into words, falters, fails. “He found you,” she finally says, quiet. “I’d lost my way, but—he found you. And nearly killed himself doing it.”

“But you saved him,” Tarre says, and that intense, unwavering faith still makes Fay's throat tight, even though they're not new Knights whispering about dreams together anymore. “You always save everyone, Fay.”

An hour ago, Fay would have been able to deny it without hesitation right now, though, here, with Tarre in her arms and the weight of his mind so close, it’s harder to refute. There’s hope in her, in a way that this long, long life has made so difficult.

“Don’t thank me yet, Mand’alor,” she manages, and Tarre huffs, slinging an arm over her shoulders as she guides him towards the entrance.

“It can't be that terrible,” he says. “Even Mandalorians can't have made that much chaos in a thousand years.”

Fay laughs in his face, and at the edge of the temple she once built in her grief, she shoves. Tarre goes toppling into the grass with a yelp, and Fay sails past him towards Jon's sleeping form—

Just like he did when they were younger and he cheated constantly, Tarre grabs her robe, hauls her back and down, and rolls her into the grass as he laughs, eyes bright in the light of the aurora.

The best way to stop him laughing at her is to kiss him again, Fay's found, so she does.