She senses the other presence in a quiet moment.
It is almost too faint to recognize, its existence barely registering in her consciousness as she settles down to meditate, but it is nonetheless still there, and she freezes, just long enough for Neros to notice and shoot her a concerned look. “Satele?”
“It is nothing.” She forces a smile to her lips even as her thoughts race. Perhaps she is imagining things, or the source is from someone else, or…
But even so, she knows. Knows that the presence, the small life, is from within her. Knows that the child is living proof of her transgression of the Jedi Code.
Knows that her life is about to be irrevocably changed.
It is not unheard of for Jedi to have children—her existence is proof of that—but that does not change the spark of fear and panic ignited in her veins. She is sworn to the Order, sworn to protect the Republic. She is not ready for a child, not prepared to take on the extra responsibility. Not capable to handle herself in the face of the inevitable attachment.
She thinks about her mother, about the letters that she has kept since she was a child, about the longing and reminiscence and regret lingering in each word. She knows what Tasiele would say to her, has known it ever since she first read the journals left to her, the only communication she has ever received from her mother, and questioned whether attachments were worth it, in the end.
She thinks about Jace, strong, loyal, and endlessly dependable. She knows how strongly he desires for a family, knows that he would be happy to stay with her, to support her through any decision. She knows he is here for the long run, a thought as terrifying as it is comforting.
She thinks about the child. What they would be like, the best of both Jace and herself. Of her own childhood and the longing for a mother who had always been absent. Of warmth and happiness and love—a future—that frightens her with how much she wants it.
She thinks about them, the closest people she has to family, and makes up her mind.
He sits beside her, still marveling at the news. She is with child. With his child.
Satele curls against him, her expression hesitant as she watches him, and he can read the worry, the fear, underlying her announcement almost as easily as if she had spoken them out loud.
“What do we do?” Her voice is hushed, as though she is afraid someone else will hear, even as secluded as they are.
He is not sure he has ever seen Satele so rattled before, not like this, but even so, part of him can't help but rejoice at the “we,” at the fact that she is so open with him that she would dare express such uncertainty.
His smile grows as he slides an arm around her shoulders and she settles against him with a quiet sigh. “What do you want?” he murmurs softly.
He can feel her tense against him, but she doesn’t say anything for a long moment. Her eyes are wide, focused on something far beyond him, and he pulls her in closer, turning to press a gentle kiss to her forehead.
“I don’t know.” Her plaintive whisper is all the more heartbreaking for the confusion, the anguish, evident in every fiber of her being. To see her, the same woman who has always been so full of life and direction, who has been his guiding light, so lost is agonizing.
He moves to cup her face, bringing her gaze up to meet his. “Talk to me, Satele.”
This close, he can see her eyes shining with unshed tears as she draws a deep breath. “I don't know what to do. I have been part of the Jedi Order my whole life. You know as well as I what they say about attachments.” Her voice trembles. “What they would say about us.”
When she pauses, he gives her a reassuring smile, tracing her cheekbone with a light thumb. “And you know how I feel about them and their Code, so we’re even.” He cannot quite keep the frustration out of his voice, but now is not the time to debate Jedi philosophy, not when she looks more lost than he has ever seen her before.
Even so, he receives a wan smile for his attempt at lightheartedness. “That I do. I confess I sometimes wonder whether you are right. But…”
“Jace, I'm scared,” she whispers, her voice nearly inaudible. He feels her shudder against him and turns to face her fully, his heart aching at her agony.
For one long moment, he wonders if she will answer him; her mouth opens and closes without sound, an almost panicked look crossing her face, and he reaches for her hand, lacing their fingers together.
And then, so quietly that he has to strain to hear her: “Of falling to the dark side.” Her grip on his hand tightens, becomes vice-like in her desperation. “Of how much I c-care about you, about us.” Her voice catches, fear and shame dripping from her words. “If the Empire were to— If you were to— I don't know what I would do—what I wouldn't do—to pay them back.”
She is visibly shaking, eyes staring, wide and horrified, at some vision he cannot see, and he finds himself at a loss for words, can only curse the Code that has forbidden natural emotion to such an extent that she can only see the pain, the suffering, that caring would bring.
Her breathing is getting increasingly more ragged, voice straining under the need to remain quiet. “And now there's our child, too, and I know what I am supposed to do—what any Jedi should do—but I can't.” She doesn't seem to notice when the first tear escapes her control, slowly sliding down her cheek. “Jace, I can't.”
As her composure crumples, he reaches for her, cradles her as she clings to him, silent sobs wracking her frame. Her face is buried into his shoulder but he doesn't have to see her to sense the embarrassment lurking beneath her distress. “Satele, it's okay.”
When she finally pulls away, he smiles at her, gently brushing away a few stray tears. “Feeling better?”
Her gaze is tinged with embarrassment. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to—”
He shakes his head, cutting her off before she can finish. “There is nothing to apologize for.”
“But what? ‘There is no emotion, there is peace’? Emotions are human, Satele. You can't just push them away and pretend they don't exist. It doesn't work like that.” He pauses with a small grin. “And I, for one, am glad to see them.”
She offers a watery smile in return as he leans forward, brushing his lips across her cheek. “I'm glad you're here.”
“So am I.”
For another heartbeat, he studies her face, the mix of apprehension and ambivalence and, underlying everything else, affection for him. For their child.
Stars, he is going to be a father. He still can't quite believe it, that the life he has, in his most fantastical moments, dreamed of for the hazy future of peacetime might actually come to fruition. A spot of light, a source of joy amidst the chaos and destruction around them…
One that could be so easily snuffed out by the Empire.
A chill runs down his spine as Satele gets up, moves to peek out of the tent. They have always been tacitly aware that each battle could be their last, could end in losing each other. He has always been prepared to give whatever it takes to save her though he knows she can take care of herself, and now that protective urge has only been multiplied by the child she carries. By their child. The thought of losing her, of losing them both…
He would destroy the Empire, destroy death itself if it would bring them back.
She stops mid-step, offers him a questioning look. “Yes?”
He acts on instinct, reaching out and pulling her gently back into his arms. “I can't lose you either.” His eyes roam over her face, taking in each familiar feature, the ones he will never tire of seeing, before meeting her gaze. “Satele, I love you.”
For a moment, she freezes in his arms, unadulterated shock flickering over her features, and he waits, ignoring the way his heart stops in his chest. He will not regret telling her, no matter how she responds.
And then she smiles, tender and genuine, eyes bright with unshed tears, and he has never seen something so breathtakingly beautiful in his life. “I love you, too.” He watches as she reaches for his hand, lacing their fingers together, his pulse racing through his veins like liquid fire. “I've loved you for so long and never dared to say it, to feel it.”
The joy in her expression could freeze the galaxy with its warmth, with its beauty, as she shifts closer, until her lips are only a hair's width away. “But now… I would rather share my life with you than do anything else.”
And as their lips meet, all he can think about is how he wants to stay with her, together, like this, forever.
Satele visits the Jedi Temple one last time.
In which I continue to be in denial. Setting up some stuff while I figure out where on Earth I actually want to take this fic, since it was more just “I WANT THEM TO BE HAPPY” without having much plot. Fluff without plot is a thing, right?
Also, apartment shopping and stuff will come next. Taking suggestions for what people want to see! (I’ve never gone apartment shopping or moved in with a significant other before so I have no personal experience to draw on.)
She is leaning against him, watching drowsily as he toys with a pen, when he brings up her—their—future again. His free hand rests, warm and comforting, against her abdomen, though she has told him multiple times, with no small amount of amusement, that he will not be able to notice any changes for weeks, that other than a small fluctuation in the Force, she can barely sense their child.
“Have you thought about what you're going to tell the rest of the Order?”
His words are slow, thoughtful, but even so, she stiffens instinctively. Still, she cannot deny that she has, and she twists to face him fully, smiling when she sees the concern on his face.
“I have.” She pauses, frowning, as she chooses her words carefully. “I do not believe the Jedi would allow me to stay, not if I wish to stay with you and raise our child together.” Though she has come to accept this fact, the thought of leaving the Order, of leaving her life, still stings and she leans into him as Jace tightens his arm around her.
There is a hint of pain in his eyes as he sighs heavily. “I know how much the Order means to you. I would not want to take that away from you.”
“Jace.” She waits until she has his complete attention, then shakes her head. “You are not taking anything from me. Their Code is. I chose you, and I would do it again.” A pause, during which time she smiles at him, injecting her voice with some lightheartedness. “It wouldn't be the first time a Jedi leaves the Order for an attachment, you know. You could almost say it runs in the family.”
His laugh is a little shaky. “I'm glad.” There is something new in his gaze, something warm and soft and adoring that steals her breath as he pulls her onto his lap, pressing her flush against him. “Without it, you wouldn’t be here.” He pulls away a little, shaking his head wonderingly. “I love you, you know.”
The simple affection in his voice is enough to make her eyes water and she swallows the lump in her throat. “I love you too. And I wouldn't give it up for anything.”
He nods resolutely. “Nor I.”
For a moment, she says nothing, only curls against him with a smile as he presses his lips to her hair. With the battle for Gizer over, they are free to return to Coruscant, and she to her fate, whatever it may be.
“When will you tell them?” he murmurs and she pauses with a frown.
“I am not sure. I do not intend to stay with the Jedi, regardless of whether they will let me stay, since I doubt they would ever allow me to do so on my terms. Which, I suppose, means I will have to find new accommodations, and some way to support myself.” She cannot quite suppress her frown at the thought… though it occurs to her that perhaps she does not need to suppress her emotions, not anymore.
Jace’s arms tighten around her waist, drawing her closer to him. “And what if I helped?”
She blinks at him. “What?”
“What if I helped? I'll be primarily stationed on Coruscant now, so it wouldn't be difficult to share an apartment. My wages aren't terrible either, and…” He trails off with a sheepish look and she knows that her surprise is clear on her expression.
It takes an effort to compose herself so that there is no sign of the foolish grin that threatens to split her face in two.
“Satele,” and the uncertainty in his tone is enough to give her pause. “I know it might be too fast and that we haven't really thought about what we would do beyond the day-to-day but since things are changing… but I also don't want to rush you…” He visibly swallows. “Say something.”
She hesitates. “It would be nice but… I wouldn't want to take your hard-earned money, Jace. I can figure something out.”
The hand that reaches for her, cups her face, is so tender that she freezes, holding her breath. “I would end up buying an apartment at some point anyway. I've had enough of living in the Coruscant barracks for a lifetime.” Adoration is clear in his expression as his thumb traces light circles against her skin. “I love you, Satele. Let me help you, at least for a while.”
She is fairly certain that he is doing his best to distract her and annoyed that it is working, as his finger traces lower, along her jaw, against the exposed skin of her neck, and she shudders against him. “Jace…”
His name is half-moan, half-whine, and he smirks at her. “Besides, you know you'd miss me too much.”
Before she can decide on the best method to pay him back for his cockiness, he changes tactics, shifting to trail kisses down her cheek and along her jawline until she laughs, pushing him away. “I can't think when you do that.”
He grins, clearly completely unrepentant. “You know, I can never think clearly when you're around, so we’re even.” The humor in his face softens. “And I wouldn't have it any other way.”
She doesn't need a mirror to know that she is blushing and he laughs softly when she buries her face into his shoulder. “I love you,” he whispers.
She cannot fight the smile that curves up her lips in return, even if she wants to. “I love you too.”
“We’ll figure things out.”
“I know.” Her smile widens. “We always have.”
“And we always will.” He gently draws her head back until she is facing him once more, then leans down to kiss her. “Together.”
The temple is full of good cheer as she and the other Jedi return in triumph. Behind her, she can sense Jace’s curiosity, as well as the admiration of many of the Padawans and younger Jedi who recognize him.
Neros continues at her side, though she can't help but notice that he seems a little melancholic. Then again, considering she has only just told him about her future plans, she supposes that she should feel touched as well, that her stoic second-in-command might care enough to appear as such.
As it is, she can only try to commit every facet of the temple, every familiar corner and face, to memory. There is a significant chance that she will not be permitted to see it again, at least not as a member, and the thought is nearly enough to make her stumble as she takes the familiar path to where she can sense Master Zho.
When she stops at the door, she receives a brief but heartfelt hand clasp from Neros before he disappears, too quickly for her to do anything more than say anything more than a farewell. A light brush of the arm from Jace, gentle and reassuring, is more than welcome and she smiles, taking a moment to lean against him and the support he has always offered her.
“Goodbyes are always difficult,” he murmurs against her hair and she hums in agreement. “So why are we here? As interesting as this is, I thought we were here to visit the Council?”
“My former Master is here. He was the closest thing I had to a parent, in a way. I guess I thought he deserves to know.” She reaches out with the Force, smiling. “I believe he's watching some of the younglings now. They'll be excited to meet the Savior of Alderaan, I'm sure.”
When Jace gives an exaggerated groan at the title, she grins up at him before entering.
The small room is nearly overrun by the clan Master Zho is watching. Initiates who cannot be older than three or four in most cases are watching him, demonstrating simple Force manipulations, with an attempt at seriousness that she remembers from her own first years with the Order. She wonders briefly what her former self would think about where she is now, what her mother would think.
“Satele.” Master Zho’s gaze is warm as he looks her over, though she notes with a small amount of amusement that the small marbles he has levitating in front of him do not even falter in their pattern.
The younglings react far more excitedly, turning and talking among themselves with what she is sure are meant to be quiet whispers though which grow increasingly more boisterous, particularly when they notice the major standing just behind her.
Master Zho seems to notice as well; his eyes crinkle with the slightest hint of humor as he introduces them to Thranta Clan, taking particular care to emphasize Jace’s rank and title in a rare flash of mischief before allowing them to talk amongst themselves. Three of the boldest children commandeer Jace’s attention and she waves him off with a small smile when he shoots her a slightly panicked look.
“What brings you here, Satele?”
The wisdom in her former master’s gaze always manages to make her feel like a young child herself and this time is no different. She smiles, resisting the urge to twist her fingers together. “I wanted to tell you that…” Her voice trails off as her throat constricts, but Master Zho’s expression doesn't change, calm and patient, and she draws a deep breath. “I'm pregnant. And I'm leaving the Order.”
For a long moment, all she can hear is the chatter of the children and Jace’s low rumble responding; her master’s face is inscrutable, but his gaze seems to soften, just a touch.
Finally, he nods slowly. “I see. I do not believe the Council would necessarily force you to leave.”
“I know. I have considered that as well. However I do not believe I could follow their restrictions if I were to stay.”
He smiles a little sadly. “I understand.”
Guilt crawls up her throat at the expression, at the memories of his gentle guidance, and her lips tremble slightly as she forces a smile. “I'm sorry, master.”
Sharp eyes focus on her. “What for?”
She bows her head, trying to keep the movement casual, calm. “You put a lot of effort into my training. I am sorry it was for naught.”
“It was not.” His tone is unexpectedly sharp though it softens when she freezes. “You have given much to the Republic and the Jedi, Satele, especially in this war. I am sorry, too, that we will lose such a worthy Jedi and especially during the war, but I do not begrudge you your happiness. You deserve it.” She looks at him in surprise to find him smiling at her with warmth she is not sure she has ever seen from him before. “So long as you are content, I am glad for you.”
Instinctively, her gaze darts to Jace, sitting among the younglings, who are watching him with rapt attention as he tells them what she guesses are stories from the war. For a brief moment, she can see what he will be like as a father, the father of their child, and she cannot breathe for how much she wants it. How much she wants this life she has chosen.
Stars, but she loves him.
When their eyes meet, he smiles at her, soft and warm and affectionate, and she cannot help but return the expression. He looks away the next moment as a young girl, short blond hair pulled into pigtails, climbs onto his lap and steals his attention.
She turns back to Master Zho to find him watching her with fondness, eyes a little melancholic. “I was going to ask who the father is but I don't suppose I need to.”
“No.” She turns to smile at Jace again, watching as he carefully sets the girl on his shoulders before climbing to his feet. “I suppose we are no longer exactly subtle.”
Master Zho follows her gaze and she can hear the smile in his voice as he speaks. “The young girl, Aurelia, has been very quiet ever since she arrived. Your Major Malcom has an excellent way with children. He will make a fine father, I am sure. You are in good hands.” She looks at him with wide eyes to find him smiling openly at her with affection. “I am proud of everything you've done, Satele. And I know your mother would be as well.”
For a second, she can only blink back tears. “Thank you, Master. For everything.”
She must be imagining the sheen in his eyes as he nods. “You are eternally welcome. Now,” and his voice picks up somewhat, “It appears as though Thranta Clan will be fine if we leave Major Malcom to watch over them. I believe we have a meeting with the Jedi Council?”
They return to find Jace still cradling Aurelia, dozing on his shoulder, as he tells those younglings who are still awake a tale, one she recognizes as a simplified version of their battle on Alderaan. For several moments, their return seems to remain unnoticed and she cannot help but smile at the way he paints the tale, casting her as the valiant hero saving him from certain death.
It isn't until he catches her gaze and begins talking louder with an adoring smile that she realizes he is doing it on purpose and it takes an effort to keep her face blank.
The initiates have been trained enough to not show any visible signs of disappointment when Jace finishes the story and redirects their attention back to Master Zho, but she notes their reluctance to say goodbye with some amusement. Jace’s own reluctance to leave as the Jedi offers to walk them to the entrance only amplifies her urge to tease him but she also cannot help but dread their final departure.
As ever, Jace seems to know her better than she knows herself; he says nothing until they have bid the Temple farewell and received Master Zho’s invitation to visit whenever they wish to, with the child. Only after they have left the view of the temple does he reach for her, lacing their fingers together. “How was the meeting?”
She takes a few steps to collect her thoughts, turning them away from the bittersweetness of leaving the Temple and the endearing image of him surrounded by younglings, and back to the Council meeting. “Better than I expected.”
“Oh?” He doesn't say any more but she can hear his curiosity and smiles.
“The Council was surprisingly accepting of my decision, and have stated that I may leave whenever I wish.” She pauses, searching for the right words. “They have also offered for it to be temporary, if I would prefer.”
There is a brief pause as they maneuver into a taxi, and then Jace frowns, his confusion clear. “Temporary?”
She nods, settling against him as he draws her closer. “I have been granted permission to rejoin the Jedi afterwards, if I wish.” A faint smile. “Master Zho apparently has more pull in the Council than I thought. He was the one who suggested it.”
Jace’s tension is evident in the tightening of his arm around her shoulders, but his voice remains steady. “What do you think?”
“Honestly, I am not certain. Part of me does not wish to leave the Order, especially since I have been part of it for so long.” She does not have to look at him to see the frown that draws his eyebrows together, and she reaches up, runs a gentle finger along the creases until they relax somewhat. “But I have already said that I do not believe I could fully return to that life. Not after this, after you.”
“Good.” There is so much relief in his voice that she frowns up at him, and he gives a shaky laugh. “I was being foolish, I expect, but for a moment…” He reaches for her, drawing her closer until she is pressed against him, hearing his heart race in his chest. “For a moment, I thought I was going to lose you.”
“No.” She sits up to look him straight in the eyes. “I may consider rejoining the Order but I will never leave you—leave you both—for them. Not like that.”
“For which I am very thankful.” He grins at her, still not entirely steady but true. “I do not know what I ever did to deserve you but I am glad that I did.”
“It was simple. You were yourself.” She laughs softly when he draws her in closer again, pressing a kiss to her temple. “That is more than enough for me.”
Planning for the future and apartment-shopping commences.
Sorry this took so long! I ended up getting sidetracked by the game and also what feels like never-ending Annihilation feels.
“Are you sure about this?”
Satele turns as Jace slows, his fingers loosening around hers. Part of her cannot help but be amused by his concern; it was originally his idea to move in together, after all, and yet it is completely unsurprising for him to hesitate—to worry about her—now.
Instead, she steps closer to him, enjoying her newfound freedom. For too many months, she has been limited in her displays, restricted by the Code and—perhaps more importantly—her own fears. But no longer. In a moment of boldness, she stretches upward to press a kiss to his cheek, feeling the skin under her lips stretch as he smiles in response. “Am I certain about you? Of course.”
His expression softens, even as he shakes his head. “That's not exactly what I meant and you know it.”
She shrugs, unrepentant. “My answer is the same, regardless. I have made my choice, and it is you. It will always be you, be us.”
A grin lights up his face, so brilliant that she cannot look away. He seems to know the effect he has on her; the hint of a smirk twists his smile as he tightens his grip on her hand before leading her on.
Captain Luan Shi of the Republic Army has witnessed many a gossip circle in the hallway of the military barracks and has learned to give them a relatively wide berth whenever possible. They, too, have realized that she is uninterested in discussing the nightly activities of their fellow soldiers, and generally leave her alone.
As such, she is entirely not expecting to be stopped by what is a veritable crowd, many of whom, on closer inspection, she recognizes as those who were on Alderaan during the battle, and curiosity gets the better of her.
She nearly regrets her decision when the incorrigible Sergeant Lorrin grins at her, and part of her cannot be surprised when he speaks first, eyes shining with a combination of mirth and excitement. “Captain, have you heard the news?”
Judging from his tone of voice, he fully expects the answer to be a resounding no and, to her own mild disappointment, she cannot disagree with that fact. Not when Lorrin could be talking about any number of things, though she has a feeling she might have a guess based solely on his enthusiasm and her unwilling participation. “What news?”
His answering grin is enough to confirm her suspicions. “Remember when Major Malcom was all secretive about whoever it was he was—” She raises an eyebrow and he cuts himself short, clearing his throat with a sheepish expression. “Right. These past few months, you know?”
Personally, she remembers a very different few months involving a secret so poorly kept it’s a wonder nobody else suspected a thing, but she nods, keeping her face as straight as she can manage.
“So anyway, we saw the major earlier, walking to his quarters, and there was someone with him, carrying what looked like personal belongings.” He pauses, clearly for dramatic effect, before leaning in closer. “She was wearing a cloak but she looked like a Jedi!”
It takes all of her willpower to keep from laughing and look suitably surprised, but she appears to manage convincing her audience of her incredulity; Lorrin in particular is positively vibrating with excitement. “He didn't say anything but I'll bet it was the same woman. Guess we were right after all.”
Shi cannot quite stifle her snort of disbelief, though she refrains from pointing out that, given the number of theories that were tossed out, including both herself and Colonel Elin Garza, it would have been difficult for them to have completely missed the mark.
Still, she has to admit that the news is in some ways unexpected. It is common knowledge, after all, that the Jedi Code warns against emotion and passion, and, as far as she knows, Master Shan is generally a consummate Jedi, at least when Major Malcom is not involved. On the other hand, she also knows full well that it is none of her business, nor is it the business of any of the busybodies still speculating and spreading potentially harmful rumors, as she promptly reminds them.
That, of course, does not mean she cannot offer the major her services, and if he happens to tell her anything… Well, she's technically not responsible for anything.
Jace cannot deny being unsurprised at the knock on his door, though it does not do anything to increasing his willingness to actually answer; he was not oblivious to the attentive looks both he and Satele received as they passed by and answering the questions of gossiping men is not high on the list of activities he is willing to subject himself to.
He is not, however, expecting to find only Captain Shi behind the door, though he does not miss the way her eyes dart from himself to Satele, now out of her cloak, before settling back on him with a blandness that he’s certain is faked. “I was wondering whether you needed any help with the moving.”
A hint of mischief flashes deep in Satele’s eyes as she smiles. “Hello, captain. I think we are doing well for now. Jace, I will go get the final boxes.” She beats a quick retreat before he can comment either way and he sighs as he turns to face his second.
Shi is watching him with what he knows is forced innocence, a small, knowing smirk playing at her lips.
“Well…” He casts his gaze about for something to do, but before he can, she offers a genuine, if teasing, smile.
“It's about time. Sir.”
He frowns. “Captain?”
The woman shrugs, seemingly completely unrepentant. “You weren't exactly subtle on Alderaan, sir, and I think you’ve only gotten worse since you've returned to Coruscant.” She turns, considering the direction Satele disappeared off to for a few moments, before turning back to him with a more serious expression. “I know Jedi aren't supposed to have attachments and extraneous circumstances are likely involved, but it is not entirely surprising to see her here.” She hesitates for a heartbeat. “You seem happy.”
“I am. Happier than I've ever been.” The words leave his mouth without thinking and he nearly winces at how cheesy they must sound but Shi says nothing, only nods in a way that seems more confirmatory than anything. “Though, we do not plan on staying for long.”
She looks around with a small smile. “No, I doubt the rooms were designed with multiple people's comfort in mind.”
“I doubt they were designed with comfort in mind in general,” he counters, grinning in spite of himself. “But especially not for a family. This is only temporary until we find a place of our own.”
He's fairly certain he is still grinning foolishly at the “we,” that he has not stopped grinning foolishly since Satele first agreed to his suggestion, but thankfully, Shi chooses not to comment, only giving a thoughtful nod instead.
“‘Family,’ sir?” Her voice is calm, but he knows her well enough to hear both the question and amusement at his slip.
He hesitates, only to be saved by Satele’s return, though judging from her smirk and the fact that she is empty-handed, he can't help but suspect that she spent the entire time listening to his conversation outside. Shi, eyes sharp, looks between them for a moment in silence before giving a smirk of her own. “Congratulations, Major, Master Shan.”
There is no hint of surprise in Satele’s eyes as she bows her head in return. “Thank you, captain, though I have elected to no longer remain in the Order.” Her smile is warm, likely friendlier than Shi has ever witnessed from her. “So just Satele is fine.”
“Then call me Luan.” She says nothing when Satele moves to stand beside him and he slides an arm around her, though a hint of a smirk dances on her lips. “How far along are you?”
Satele shrugs. “Only a few weeks. Nothing noticeable, really.”
Shi’s smirk grows and the look he receives from her is an odd mix of mirth and pity that he isn’t sure he wants to understand. “That’ll change. Trust me. In the meantime, let me know if I can do anything to help.”
“I will, thank you.”
“Excellent.” Shi gives the place, nearly unpacked with all of Satele’s minimal belongings, one last look before turning to face him. “I'll leave you two to finishing up, then. Oh, and Major, you should probably be aware that some of the company has seen the two of you together and are, ah, expressing interest at discovering her identity, as it were. Just… something to keep in mind.”
“Understood. Thank you.”
“Good luck, sir.” Shi’s eyes fairly dance with amusement, leaving him with an oddly ominous feeling in his stomach.
He finally understands what she means when he gets interrupted no less than five times that night when they’re attempting to sleep.
He doesn't have to look at Satele to know that she is frowning thoughtfully as she wanders through the apartment. Her expression doesn't change when she rejoins him, likely a consequence of her Jedi training, and he gives her an inquisitive look.
She shrugs in response, the same expression she's given him at every place they've visited so far. He suppresses a sigh with some difficulty before wandering into the largest bedroom.
Even frustrated as he is, he cannot help but smile when she moves to stand beside him and laces their fingers together. “Don't like it?”
She hesitates, taking a moment to collect her thoughts perhaps. “It's not that. It is quite nice, actually but…”
“What is it?” Jace restrains the this time with some difficulty; surely they have gone through half a dozen places in the past few days, none of which have fit the bill. First, it was the location, and then the layout, and then the size and he doesn't even remember what else.
Her voice, unusually uncertain, cuts through his thoughts. “Isn't the kitchen a bit large?”
Whatever he was expecting, it was not that, and he blinks, speaks without thinking. “I've had enough of the tiny barracks’ kitchens. Have you seen the size of them? Hardly enough room to move around, let alone cook something.” When she frowns, he shakes his head, cutting her off before she can even open her mouth. “Trust me, this is reasonable.”
For a second, she bites her lip, as if to hold back her words, then frowns at him again. “Then what about the three bedrooms? Do we really need the extra room?”
“I thought you might want a meditation room or something, and it'll be more space in case…” In case our family expands again, but perhaps now is not the best time to be thinking about the future, not when they are hardly even sure of the present. But when he imagined Satele moving in—and he cannot deny that he has had more than a few daydreams about it, he did not imagine her so obstinate, so difficult to please. It is not like her.
He turns, examines her more closely. Her face is still, jaw set with familiar stubbornness, but something softer lurking underneath. Shame, perhaps, or embarrassment, and he takes a deep breath, reaching out to gently cup her cheek and bring her eyes to meet his. “What's the matter, Satele? I would have thought that you'd want the extra space.”
For a long moment, she says nothing, and then she seems to relent, her body relaxing. “I do but it's just…” She sighs, her eyes darting about, from wall to wall, from the window to the doorway and pointedly avoiding his gaze. “I'm not sure it is worth the extra credits. They are not necessary.”
He quirks an eyebrow. “I know you Jedi aren't accustomed to creature comforts,” he quips, “but most people would rank comfort as something quite important.” When his lightheartedness seems to fall flat, he shakes his head. “Satele, the extra credits are fine. It is not like we cannot afford it.”
“You,” she says quietly. “It is not like you cannot afford it.”
Shame colors her voice and he blinks, runs a hand through his hair. “Satele…”
She sighs again. “I know you are willing to spend the credits but it is unnecessary and I don't wish to spend anymore than we have to. Not when they are all your credits.”
“If they're my credits, then I should get to spend them on what I want, right?” he counters, though he cannot deny that, were their roles reversed, he would likely feel the same way. That knowledge, however, is less than welcome at the moment, and he brushes his thumb against her cheek, watching as her gaze softens, perhaps involuntarily. “I promise I won’t do anything outrageous, but this isn’t much different and it would be nice to be settled soon. It’s not like you don’t like the place, right?”
She hesitates again, her mouth pulling into a frown before finally relenting. “Fine.” He wraps an arm around her waist instinctively as she stretches upward to press a kiss to his cheek. “You win this time.”
“Thank you.” A pause. “I love you, you know.”
The warmth of her smile will never get old. “I know. Though perhaps you shouldn’t thank me yet.” Her smile turns somewhat impish. “Because we still need to get furniture and such.”
“Oh?” He grins. “Is that a challenge?”
“So confident.” She kisses him, quick and teasing. “No, it is a promise. You will not win every battle.”
Satele says nothing, only glances at him briefly with an odd smirk on her face before heading back towards the main room.
Somehow, he gets the feeling that he will regret his words.
In which more shopping occurs, and Satele proves to be ridiculously cheap.
So I should be able to post at least one or two more chapters before school starts up and updates start slowing down, but fingers crossed.
All the domestic fluff!
“You must be joking.” Jace can’t quite stop the words from escaping his mouth, despite the fact that one look at her face is enough to confirm the fact that she is very much not joking.
Satele turns to him, an inquisitive expression on her face, and he barely restrains his grimace as he gets another, clearer view at everything she has collected. “What?”
Her brow furrows as her gaze follows his nod towards her burden. “What is wrong with this?”
“‘What is wrong with—?’” He shakes his head. “Remember what I said about comforts?”
A hint of a smirk tugs at her lips. “Yes. I also remember you saying—correctly, I might add—that Jedi aren't accustomed to the idea of creature comforts.”
That he cannot deny and he directs a scowl towards the towels, suddenly glad that she relented and trusted him to select the furniture and bedding; if she had things her way, they might as well be sleeping on the ground. “This isn't even about comfort at this point; I think the ones we had out in the field were better.”
An eyebrow climbs toward her hairline. “That hardly seems likely, Jace. Exaggeration is not necessary.”
“I'm not. Besides,” he directs the cloth a skeptical look, “this hardly looks functional. Not something this poor quality.”
At this, she scowls, a mixture of irritation and incredulity visible on her features. “They are towels. Any cloth is sufficient to dry things, which is what we need them for.”
He shakes his head, torn between amusement and exasperation at her obstinacy. “What about quality? These would fall apart in just a few uses, and it would cost more just to keep replacing them. And yes, the bedsheets are perfectly fine as is.”
Suspicion flits across her features, even as she relents and places the towels—if the flimsy things can even be referred to as such—in his outstretched hand.
“Thank you.” He smiles at her, doing his best to keep any apparent sign of satisfaction from his expression. A thought occurs to him and he frowns thoughtfully. “What is your favorite color?”
“Your favorite color. The one you like the most?”
“Yes, I know what ‘favorite’ means, thank you, Jace.”
The sudden blankness in her eyes should not catch him by surprise—she is a Jedi, after all—and yet it still does. “I do not have a favorite.”
He takes a deep breath, willing himself to be patient. “Then pick one now.”
Evidently, she can see right through his forced calm; the look she shoots him is sharp enough to cut stone. “I have no need for a favorite color.”
“Now you're just being ridiculous.”
“In what way is that ridiculous? One color is just the same as any other.”
He heaves a sigh, barely resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “If that's the case, then just pick a damn color.”
Her lips thin as she glares at him. “Whichever is cheapest.”
“And if there is no difference?” he asks with a patience he does not quite feel.
Logically, he knows that her cavalier shrug should not make him want to bang his head against a wall. He knows that, and yet…
“Something plain? Brown, perhaps?”
He can feel his brow twitch, even as he fights to keep his face straight. “‘Brown?’”
He examines her more carefully. Satele is either putting a lot of effort into the act, or she is entirely sincere about her choice. He's not quite sure which situation he actually prefers. “Really? Brown?”
She actually sighs. “You've asked that already, Jace.”
“I know that. I just…” He shakes his head. “Just… come with me. It'll be easier this way.”
She casts him a suspicious look, even as she takes his proffered hand. “If you'd just listen to me, then it wouldn't be this complicated to start with.”
“Literally nobody’s favorite color is brown, Satele. Honestly now.”
She says nothing in response but he is fairly certain that the twenty minutes she spends deliberating over white and cream towels is partially in revenge.
When Satele wanders off yet again, he has few ideas of where she may be headed—for produce, perhaps, or another change of heart in bedsheets or something equally inane—and barely resists the urge to curse before setting off in search.
What he was certainly not expecting is to stumble upon her among the various clothing shops, her expression thoughtful. She is distracted enough that she does not appear to notice him; he manages to sneak up to her side unnoticed before sliding an arm around her shoulders.
“What are you looking for?”
A rather casual shrug is her reply, though it is belied by her confidence as she shifts to lace their fingers together and leads him forward. He says nothing, choosing to follow silently as she wanders through the racks, never stopping in her thorough search.
When she finally does pause, she catches him by surprise, enough so that he nearly walks into her. She hardly seems to notice, her gaze apparently transfixed by… children’s clothing?
“Satele?” he ventures but she ignores him, releasing his hand as she considers the options, reaching out to run a finger along a few. Instead, he stands back, simply content to watch her in her riveted examination.
A gentle smile, warm and thoughtful, curves up her lips, her eyes focused on something far away, beyond the clothing and the room, and he has a sudden vision of her in future months, radiant, belly swelling with child. With their child.
He does not know that he is holding his breath, throat seeming to constrict, until he feels a touch on his arm, pale blue eyes peering at him with concern. “Jace?”
For a heartbeat, he is entranced; her face, upturned, shines with both worry and affection, so close that it would only take a small movement to kiss her, and he does, wrapping an arm around her waist. She is laughing softly when she pulls away, though she remains close enough that he can feel her breath puff against his skin.
“What was that for?”
He grins. “I love you.”
Her gaze softens as she shifts even closer, the slightest hint of a blush on her cheeks. “I love you too.”
It takes more than a little time for Satele to drag herself away from the baby clothing; though she logically knows that there is still plenty of time before any of that will be necessary, there is something real and miraculous about simply looking and planning for the future, for their future. She half-expects some teasing from Jace—she has certainly set herself up for it, to say the least—but instead, he says nothing and she contents herself with lacing their fingers together as he leads her forward.
Her grip tightens when she sees where he is leading them: Noaa's, a place famous, or perhaps infamous, enough that even she has heard the stories. “Isn't that where people have gotten lost before, Jace?”
His answering smile, filled with far more amusement than is warranted by the situation, does nothing to reassure her. “Don't you trust me?”
She offers him a skeptical look. “To an extent. Whether that extends to this is debatable.”
He pouts theatrically. “I thought you loved me.”
She doesn't even bother to hide her eyeroll. “When you are not being ridiculous.”
“Ouch.” He grins nonetheless before slowing and sliding an arm around her waist. “Come on. I've never been before. It should be fun.”
Of course, she is entirely unsurprised that he manages to wander off, leaving her stranded in the middle of a set of dining table displays. Then again, considering that it is something that they have not yet chosen, the situation really could be much worse.
The realization that they would have to put together the furniture themselves dampens her enthusiasm somewhat, though she does make a mental note that everything does seem to be considerably cheaper than anything else they have looked at. If nothing else, it could be worthwhile for simpler items.
By the time she manages to find him again, he appears to be engrossed in examining a set of chairs, though judging from his sneaking glances, he is already aware of her presence and, more likely than not, planning a surprise for her.
Resisting the urge to check through the Force, she moves closer, beaming as he presses a quick kiss to her temple. “Find anything interesting?”
“Nothing of note.” The words scramble over each other and she barely manages to restrain a smirk; Jace has never been a good liar. “You?”
“Tables, perhaps. Though we would need to put them together ourselves…”
She cannot quite hold back her laughter as Jace puffs up with indignation at the implication that she could doubt his ability to put together some furniture with instructions. As it is, she can barely resist the urge to point out that it is much less similar to pitching a tent than he might imagine.
Satele is not entirely sure how shopping for essentials turned into buying much more than they will likely ever need, but she is beginning to suspect that “just in case” has become Jace’s way of saying that he particularly wants something. To her dismay, he has also discovered that she finds it well-nigh impossible to say no to him, and seems to be perfectly happy abusing the power as he sees fit.
After all, there is no real reason for them to purchase an entire sofa set on top of everything else, especially not when it is just the two of them, no matter how much Jace protests that they may have guests.
She has also never realized just how stubborn they both can be. Regardless of how often they did see each other, keeping their personal interactions restricted only to nights meant they tended to make the most of the time they had, leaving little time or opportunity for disagreement.
But now… By her last count, they have nearly exploded into argument at least half a dozen times. And, she has to admit, most of them utterly ludicrous.
When he doesn't answer, she frowns, unfolding herself from the corner of the sofa she claimed in her fury, guilt and no small amount of worry worming their way into her conscience. The main room is empty but for her, though he could have left at any point over the last couple of minutes without her noticing.
“Jace, I'm sorry, I—”
She freezes as she walks into the largest bedroom, their bedroom. Jace is sprawled on the floor, surrounded by pieces of wood and what appears to be a half-finished rocking chair. He looks up sheepishly from the packet of instructions. “Sorry, I didn't think it'd take this long.”
Her shock must be clear in her expression; he gets to his feet, a nervous smile on his face. “What do you think? I mean, I know it isn't really finished so I guess you can't really tell but building this is much more confusing than I expected and—”
“Jace.” She laughs quietly when he freezes mid-syllable, stepping up to him and reaching out to lay a gentle hand over his mouth. “You're rambling again.”
Underneath her palm, his lips stretch into a smile and she can't look away as he curls his fingers around her wrist, pulling her hand away just slightly and pressing a warm kiss to her palm. “Am I, now?”
He grins, tugs her arm slightly and presses another to the inside of her wrist. “Yes?”
It takes more of her self-control than she cares to admit to pull her hand away. “I came here to apologize. Stop distracting me.”
The cocky edge to his smile disappears, leaving only sincerity in its wake. “As am I. We were both being ridiculous.”
“I suppose, though it's my fault.” She shakes her head when he opens his mouth. “It is. And I am sorry about being unnecessarily particular and obstinate and—”
His smile is infectious and she finds herself returning it without thinking. “Yes, that too.”
“I forgive you. After all, so am I.” He gestures towards the half-assembled chair with a small smile. “Though perhaps this isn't the best example.”
She laughs, moving closer to lean against him and slide an arm around his waist. “What is this?”
“A rocking chair. Or, it will be.”
She turns to shoot him a look. “Yes, I can see that, thank you.”
He offers her a clearly unrepentant grin in return. “You asked.”
Jedi do not sigh, she reminds herself, but then again, she is no longer a Jedi. “That I did. Perhaps a better question would be asking why.”
Jace shrugs, though his expression is thoughtful. “I thought you might like it and I didn't think you'd ever get it yourself, so I thought I'd surprise you with it.” He gives a rueful laugh. “Of course, I didn't think it'd be so damn complicated to build but I think I've figured it out now. Though I suppose now that you know about it, I can finish it later.”
She shoots him a questioning look and he grins, turning to brush his lips against her forehead. “Come on, we're almost finished. Let's get everything set up and moved in.”
The apartment is strangely empty once they've finished moving in. After much struggle, the furniture is set up, their personal belongings are unpacked, and even the rocking chair has been completed. And Jace is nowhere to be seen. Again.
The way such a large man manages to vanish in such a small and confined space is a mystery that she suspects will never be solved.
She shakes her head, wandering into the room that they have been preparing as a nursery.
“Ja—?” She cuts herself off with a shriek as he sweeps her into his arms, a look of amusement and mischief and pride dancing on his features. Her albeit half-hearted struggling does not even begin to extricate herself from his grasp. “What are you doing?”
He grins at her, wider than she has seen all day, and tinged with no small amount of relief. “Celebrating. We’re done moving everything, you know. Or, at least for now, until something seems out of place or whatever such nonsense.”
Her lips pull into a mock scowl at the teasing lilt in his voice, but it is impossible to maintain as he pulls her nearer, heedless to the dust and dirt that she is sure covers them both, and kisses her, warm and deep and heady. He smirks when she finally pulls away, breathless. “Well?”
She crosses her arms, though she expects that trying to mask her desire is an exercise in futility, and pulls away. “Not now, Jace. You are filthy. Go clean up.”
He looks her up and down, a crooked smile on his face. “At this point, so are you.” Her eyes narrow when his grin widens. “Join me?”
“I see no reason to reward such behavior,” she retorts tartly, though she cannot help but laugh when he sighs, pressing a hand over his heart dramatically.
“Fine, fine. Maybe later, then. But first…” Before she can protest, he reaches out, eyes softening into something sweeter, more tender as he brushes his lips against hers, light and soft. “Welcome home.”
A day in the life featuring snarky!Jace.
Wooo boy it’s been a while. Not going to stop on this until at least Theron is born though, because I need cuteness with them and baby Theron. Besides, I’m still crying over how cute they are so I probably won’t be stopping any time soon. I just ship them too much, haha.
Jace wakes to sun and comfort and warmth.
For a second, he is disoriented; the barracks for the Republic Army are not nearly so nice, and he is normally up long before the sun can get so high. But no, the bed and sheets are new and the room is unfamiliar and all is quiet.
And Satele is curled up against him, an arm draped across his chest, skin glowing golden in the morning sun, resting and peaceful and absolutely breathtaking in her tranquility. Dark hair, mussed from sleep, falls into her face and he cannot help but reach out, brushing it aside, tracing each familiar feature with a featherlight touch.
Her only response is to shift closer and he holds back soft laughter for fear of waking her. It is rare for him to ever be awake before her, the habits of the Jedi dying harder than those of his time on the frontlines. But this, warm and drowsy and blissful… He can get used to this, would be perfectly happy to have this for the rest of his life.
He is not sure how long he spends marveling that she is with him, enjoying the lazy morning and break from meetings and paperwork, but she comes to slowly, first in shifting limbs and then opening eyes, and he can't quite hold back a rumble of laughter as she shuts them again instantly, making a face at the bright sunlight. She responds with a muffled noise of protest as she shifts still closer, burying her face in his chest.
“I thought you liked mornings,” he murmurs, grinning. “You Jedi are up at unreasonable hours enough.”
“It's too bright.” He doesn't need to see her to picture her pout. “We typically got up early enough that the sun isn't this bright. Or even up.”
He can't resist the urge to laugh. “Are you whining? I thought Jedi—”
The brightness suddenly doesn't seem to affect her as she lifts her head to glare at him. “Irrelevant. Besides, I'm not a Jedi, else I would not be here, would I?”
“That's true,” he concedes, and he smiles as he tightens his arm around her, pulling her against him. “I’m glad you are.”
She tilts her head up to face him more fully, her gaze softening. “As am I.”
He grins, shifting to press a kiss to the top of her head. “Good morning.”
Her answering smile is radiant. “Good morning,” she whispers back.
He is at the stove making breakfast when Satele finally makes her way out of bed and he does not turn around until she speaks.
“What is the thermostat set to?”
He doesn't have to see her to picture her scowl as she pads across the room. “The thermostat. Why is it so low?”
“Because even a few degrees makes a huge difference in cost.” Her quiet harrumph is enough to make him grin and he pauses, turning to grab the plates and to school his face into some semblance of calm. “Sit down? Breakfast is ready.”
One glance at the table, where she is waiting, is enough for him to lose any attempt at solemnity; he has to turn, setting the plates back down on the counter before he drops them.
Satele visibly glares at him, though he cannot help but notice that the effect is entirely lost when she has the quilt from their bed draped over her shoulders and trailing onto the floor like a small cape. He doesn't say as much out loud but her expression sharpens like she knows exactly what he is thinking.
“I am pleased one of us finds this amusing, at least,” she says once he has his laughter back under control and he can feel his lips twitch as he forcefully resists another wave of mirth.
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting, at least a little bit?”
He did not think it was possible for her expression to become more severe but she manages it phenomenally as he motions vaguely towards his own choice of an old short-sleeved shirt and loose fitting pants. “For those of us who are furnaces, perhaps, it is not quite so cold,” she snips, “but the rest of us will have to simply suffer.”
“You didn’t seem to be complaining this morning,” he retorts over his shoulder as he recollects the plates and motions for her to move to the couch.
She raises a haughty eyebrow. “Furnace, remember?”
“Exactly.” He cannot resist the urge to chortle as she stands with an imperiousness that completely clashes with the quilt still flung over her shoulders and moves to join him. “So if I provide the heat, then it’s perfect.”
Judging from her sour expression, he is smirking again and part of him marvels at the fact that she hasn’t yet elbowed him in the ribs or indicated her displeasure in any other more physical expressions, Jedi training or not. But then again, he is also holding their breakfast, and it would be simply unpragmatic for her to waste any of it simply to vent her frustration.
Even so, he can’t help but make a mental note to keep the temperature low as she curls up against him on the couch and he slides an arm around her shoulders; she doesn’t have to know that keeping the price of heating down is only one of the benefits.
They fall into a daily routine before long. Gone are the days of waking up to an empty bed and the faint, haunting, scent of moonflowers. Instead, he is greeted by her, warm and soft, sometimes awake and sometimes still sleeping, but always there. Solid.
She has always been too active to stay home and it only takes her a few days to protest, to get restless and snappish at being cooped up while others risk their lives fighting for the Republic. Her ferocity and irritation—doubled, he expects, by hormones—is something to behold, to fear.
“You can't go back to the front lines,” he says without thinking, and her eyes narrow.
“Excuse me, ‘I can't?’ I believe you will find that I am perfectly capable of fending for myself, as you well know.” Her voice is low, dangerous, and Jace winces. He deserves that.
“I'm not saying you aren't,” he returns, trying for placating and hoping he doesn't manage to put his foot in his mouth again. “It is an unnecessary risk—”
If possible, Satele’s expression only manages to get sharper, her mouth thinning into a line as she crosses her arms over her chest. “If it is not unnecessary for the countless other soldiers, then it is not unnecessary for me.”
He sighs and sits on the couch. “You know what I mean. I know you are fully capable of defending yourself but I worry nonetheless. The possibility of losing you…” He takes a deep breath, forcing himself to relax and change the subject before he can dwell on it any longer than he already has. “I won’t stop you if you are determined to return to fighting in the war, not for a few months, at least, but there are other jobs that do not require your presence on the battlefield itself.”
For another moment, she glares, stubborn disapproval clear on her countenance, and then she too seems to relent, moving to sit beside him with a sigh of her own. “I understand. We've both been through much. I… must confess that I am glad you are not out fighting in the war as well. I simply do not appreciate feeling as useless as I do right now, when the Republic could use the assistance, and I know I have something to offer.”
When she doesn't move, only studies her hands with extraordinary interest, he blinks at the mood shift, jumping from furious one moment to frustrated to the point of tears the next, at least judging from the hint of a tremble in her voice. But even understanding the source of her emotion does not make seeing her like such any easier and he slides an arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to lean against him.
“I am certain the commanders in the war effort would appreciate having the perspective of someone who was in the fighting,” he suggests. “Perhaps you would be able to assist in that way. Provide advice on troop deployment and Sith strategy and perhaps rally the Jedi forces.”
“Very well,” she says at length. There is little real enthusiasm in her expression, but the compromise is reasonable and she can understand it as such well enough. “Is there anyone in particular I should speak to?”
Jace considers, absently brushing his thumb against her skin. “I can talk to Colonel Garza tomorrow, ask if anyone in particular would be interested.”
She nods, her face softening. “Thank you.”
He cannot help the smile that pulls at the corners of his mouth as he leans in, brushing a light kiss against her lips. “Anything for you.”
Jace frowns as he examines the contents of the fridge and, perhaps more importantly, the contents of their dinner. He, like most in the army who have fought alongside the Jedi, is not unfamiliar with the so-called Jedi staple dish that is rootleaf stew, but…
He's never considered that Satele actually likes it enough to make it even when she is no longer with the Jedi.
“What is it?”
The fact that her voice is more concerned than upset is encouraging and he draws a slow breath, wondering absently whether there is any way of phrasing his distaste more diplomatically, though his mouth has other thoughts: “Rootleaf stew? Really? Is there anything else?”
Her lips purse as she glares at him, an ironic enough expression considering he’s almost certain his face looked like that the last time he tried the dish. “No. Is there a problem?”
Other than the fact that years in the Jedi Order apparently kills tastebuds, or else completely warps its members’ preferences, nothing, but even he knows better than to tempt fate by informing her of such. He may have faced down the Imperial army while outnumbered without blinking an eye, but he has to draw the line somewhere and an irate Satele is more nerve-wracking than Darth Malgus at his worst.
“No problems whatsoever.”
Unfortunately for him, she is also far more observant than Malgus at his worst; her eyes narrow as she considers him for a moment before sighing. “Just spit it out, Jace.”
He shrugs, purposely casual, and decides not to point out that it’s what most people want to do when they try the stew in the first place. “I'm just surprised that it's your choice of meal when there are so many more options. Honestly, I'm surprised the Jedi even eat it. It hardly seems…” He trails off, stirring the pot with some skepticism.
“It has all necessary nutrition and is quite simple to prepare,” she returns promptly. “I have wondered before why the Republic military chooses not to eat it; it is far quicker and less expensive than your meals, and still provides all necessary energy for your troops.”
“It's bad for morale,” he returns dryly. Satele blinks at him and he's not quite certain whether her inquisitive expression is sincere or not, a fact that is somewhat terrifying on its own. “Forget actual meals. I don't think anyone in the Republic military would want to eat this over ration bars. Good food keeps troops happy, and happy troops fight better.” He pauses, warily examining her expression. Thankfully, she doesn't seem to be too upset, at least not yet. “Do you actually like it?”
In retrospect, he probably should have expected the length of her pause, especially considering how long it took him to coax something as simple as a favorite color that wasn’t brown out of her. Still, worry is beginning to prick at him by the time she shakes her head, a hint of color rising on her cheeks.
“Then why…?” But he cuts himself off; he knows why just as well as he knows why she was hesitant to pick an apartment, why she tried to pick the cheapest furniture she could, why she is determined to make her own living, and he reaches out for her, catching her cheek with a gentle hand before she can turn away. “It's worth the few credits. Trust me.”
A hint of embarrassment still lingers in her gaze, but it is overshadowed by a mix of affection and amusement when she smiles at him, a slightly arch look. “Not all of us are obsessed with food, you know.”
He laughs as she offers the pot one last, somewhat mournful look before dumping its contents, a strange sort of relief coursing through his veins. “When your staple food is rootleaf stew, I don't think anyone would ever be surprised. Now come, help me make something actually enjoyable, okay?”
The entirety of Coruscant is dark by the time Jace finally manages to drag himself back from the Senate Tower. How Colonel Garza is able to keep her energy going for that long, without sparing a thought about going home, is beyond him.
Then again, he has to admit that, if he didn't have someone at home, he would be far less likely to leave, knowing he'd only be returning to cold and lonely rooms. But with Satele…
He would be happy to stay with her forever.
It takes him three tries to properly enter his passcode into the lock, blurry as he is with exhaustion, but even so, he enters as quietly as he can; Satele must be sleeping at this point. Nobody in their right mind is awake at this time of night.
And yet there is a light on in the main room. He frowns. It is unlike her to leave the light on when she has gone to bed, mindful as she is about costs. Which could only mean…
He pads to the couch, half-expecting to find her awake, reading her pad, perhaps, or working as she waits for him. But instead, she is curled up on the couch, one arm draped over the datapad resting beside her on the floor. He picks it up, notes that it is still open to a report on the preparations for battling the Empire on Hoth, and shakes his head. She must have been waiting up for him, only to fall asleep.
“Foolish woman,” he whispers, but he doesn't need a mirror to know that he's grinning like an idiot as he leans over to pick her up.
She stirs slightly before blinking up at him, her eyes squinting in the faint light. “Jace?”
He huffs a quiet laugh. “Who else would it be?” He pauses, switching off the light before making his way to the bedroom. “What are you doing up so late? You should have gone to bed hours ago.”
Satele is pouting at him; he knows it even in the darkness of the room, though she will never admit it to anyone, himself included. “Waiting up for you.” Her words are punctured with a long yawn. “I didn’t think it would be so late.”
He smiles as he sets her down on the bed and presses a kiss to her forehead. “Neither did I. But go back to sleep. I’ll be back in a few moments.”
“No.” He fights back a chuckle as she yawns again before pushing herself to her feet. “I'm fine.” The fact that she’s barely upright, swaying slightly by the side of the bed, seems to contradict her statement and, this time, he can’t hold back his amusement.
“You’re exhausted. Go lie down. I’ll be just a minute.”
A huff of assent and the creak of the bedframe are her only responses and he’s laughing silently when he enters the ‘fresher.
By the time he emerges, she looks like she’s fast asleep once more, curled up into a small ball in the cool room, though she stirs somewhat when he slips in beside her and slides an arm around her waist, pulling her closer. “That was longer than a minute,” she mumbles, her voice blurry with sleep.
“I know it was. Though I’m surprised you know. You looked like you fell asleep again.”
“Mm, missed you.”
He blinks; even tired as she is, those are not words that often escape her lips. “I missed you too, but it wasn't that long, now was it?”
Slow, even breathing is the only answer he receives and he grins as he lightly kisses her shoulder before stretching out more comfortably. “Fair enough. Good night, love.”