She should feel relieved, Satele knows. The danger is over. The Ascendant Spear has been destroyed and they are all safely back on Coruscant, alive and well in spite of everything that Darth Karrid tried to throw at them.
And yet, as Jace watches her with inscrutable eyes, she cannot find it in herself. Not when there is so much left unsaid between them. Not when, for the first time in what feels like an eternity, they are together, not as the Grand Master and the Supreme Commander, but as two people, as parents, discussing their past, their son.
Not when his pain and longing and a thousand other emotions are thrumming through the Force, tugging at the frayed edges of her control. When she finally knows that she cannot forget him, will never be able to move on the way she should.
“Satele…” He doesn’t say anything more, but he doesn’t need to, and she tears her gaze away, guilt churning in her stomach. She can hear the question in his tone, but he knows as well as she does that there is nothing left to discuss. He already knows her decision, knows that they are both too entwined to the Republic now.
He has to know that it is impossible.
Instead, she reaches for him, resting a hand on his shoulder. He stiffens under her touch for the briefest second and her gut twists as she thinks back to those tense moments on the Aegis, when she could not help but reach for him, wishing she could force her mouth to move, to say the things that she had always been too afraid to admit. When she clung to him, his presence just as anchoring, just as comforting, as she has always remembered it. When in the face of death, all she could think of was the family that she would give anything for.
For a heartbeat, she wonders if he will reach for her again, wonders what would happen if she tells him everything, if she gives in just one last time. He is so close...
But she has given that up long ago for the good of the galaxy and there is no going back, no matter how much she may wish it—how much they both may wish it.
He gives a shuddering exhale as she pulls away and she closes her eyes against the flicker of pain on his face. As she turns, she hesitates, the life she—they—could have had dancing in the corners of her vision, a thousand regrets on her tongue…
Until then he shifts, his lips drawing into a smile that she doesn’t need the Force to know is forced, and their duties and responsibilities, their lives, crash back down on her.
“Goodbye, Supreme Commander.”
For the briefest moment, his eyes seem to glint, overbright, and then he blinks and the moment is broken. “Goodbye, Grand Master.”
As the door closes behind her, she turns, her lips forming the words that she cannot force around the lump in her throat. “Jace, I'm so sorry.”