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“No! NO!”

He winces as hands, shaking, desperate, press against the wound, blue-grey eyes wide and terrified. He doesn’t need to look to see the way the blood stains his armor, the ground, her hands. To see his blood pouring out of a wound that’s too far, too deep.

To see what he already knows, that it’s too late.

Even back when they first met, during the invasion of Korriban, they always knew that this was a possibility. Throughout the Great Galactic War, their survival was never guaranteed, and he still remembers the fear, the uncertainty that had haunted them before each battle. The terror that it might turn out like this.

And somehow it’s worse, knowing that they had survived it all, the battles and the heartbreak and the child and the entire war. Knowing that, even in those decades apart, she still cared, in spite of everything. Knowing that they are so so close to the end, and knowing that, even so, they will never get their gentle ending.

He hisses through clenched teeth at the burn of kolto, pressed haphazardly against his side, at the way he can feel her trying to use the Force to staunch the bleeding. Too little, too late.

“Satele…” There’s a metallic tang in his mouth that he can’t seem to get rid of, but he forces himself to speak around it, to reach for her hand. To make her understand that being with her is already enough.

Her sob is muffled but she laces their fingers together, hand firm against his, and he has to bite his lip to keep from crying out as she shifts to prop him up, her arms clinging to him, tight and determined. “Stay still.” Her voice breaks, the sound more painful than anything he has experienced so far. “Stay with me, Jace.”

But he knows as well as she does that it won’t be enough. That for all of her desperation, she cannot keep him from fading, no matter how much they both want it.

“Satele…” His lips are stiffer now, slower to form the precious name and he swallows down sticky blood with difficulty.

“I’m here, Jace.” She trembles, her grip on his hand vice-like but he can hardly feel it, can hardly make out anything other than warmth and her voice, rambling and frantic and more fragile than he had ever heard it. “Jace, we made it. We won. The Eternal Empire is gone.” He can hear her voice waver as she pushes on. “We can go home now. Just stay with me a little longer.”

“Satele,” and he tries for a smile, even as her quiet whimpering, her grasping hands and shaking frame, break his heart. “You’re warm.” Warm and real and solid and he is so tired now. Tears fall on his face, salty and wet, and he wants to wipe them off, to make her smile but his arms are lead and he can’t move.

“Jace… I love you.” He can hardly make out her features but he doesn’t need to see to know that she is beautiful. Has always been beautiful.

I… love you too.