Star Wars Love

Adult Star Wars fanfiction

Rainfall Over Coruscant

 Rainfall Over Coruscant

by T. S. Brown

Summary: Qui Gonn Jinn's first apprentice Xanatos falls not only to the darkside, but for a woman.

Characters: Xanatos, Qui Gon Jinn, Mumbi, Tam

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Chapter 1

 

What she could see of the sky held clouds ominous enough to threaten rain. Air-vehicles flew by in a hurried frenzy, taking advantage of the lull in traffic. It was after five and she waited patiently inside the small diner, sipping coffee, now cold.

Droids zoomed by on robotic legs. Some lowered their wheels, scooting along the linoleum floor.

"Didja need anything else, hon?"

Tam looked up at the waitress. Its body was dressed in a uniform resembling those from an Old Earth holovid. "Mel's Diner", she thought it was. Its face was painted to appear human in its steel and electric design. It wore a permanent smile and its eyes burned like the embers of a smoldering fire.

"Ummm, how about some fresh coffee. I think this has gone cold." She gestured toward the cup.

The waitress immediately whizzed away to the coffee machine located behind the counter. It buzzed and zipped, dodging and avoiding other motorized wait staff. It returned to her booth, leaned over and poured coffee into the cup.

"I hope your date shows up soon, hon. You let me know if you need anything else, okay?"

Before she could reply to the droid, Alice, as indicated on her chest, zoomed down the row to the next table. Tam turned and gazed toward the dwindling sunlight. She hated the lower levels because she couldn't see the sky as much. But she couldn't afford lodging on the upper levels. You had to be very rich in order to live there.

With a swoosh, the door opened and closed behind her. She sat at the first booth nearest the door, eagerly awaiting him. She looked more closely and saw that it wasn't him. It was just a couple of humanoid figures dressed in long brown robes. Jedi, she confirmed. They sat at a booth at the opposite end of the diner. The one facing her caught her gaze as it perused him. His eyes were the color of dusk, emblazoned with sparkles of violet and indigo. He gave her a small smile she couldn't return. Jedi intimidated her. Uncomfortable with his appraisal and confused by the interesting color of his eyes, she turned and focused again on what she could see of the setting suns.

She hated waiting. She glanced at the chrono on her wrist and debated leaving. Work was tiring today and she needed her rest. Eve-6, a co-worker, set her up on this blind encounter. His name? Mumby. Supposedly he was a businessman and a friend of Eve's family.

Growing even more anxious, she added crème and sugar to the dark liquid, stirring until the swirls of light faded into dark and the contents glowed shades brighter. She sipped softly, watching through the windows, letting her eyes fall on the passersby. She needed to be among them, on her way home, not here waiting on a man who she knew very little, if not nothing, of.

A touch settled on her arm. She sat there for a minute before acknowledging the warmth of contact.

"Tam Wild?"

She turned, glancing at the hand upon her shoulder. Wow. That was…sneaky, she thought. She furrowed her brow wondering from which direction he came. She watched the front doors since arriving. If this was her mystery man, how did he get inside? Was there another entrance open to the public?

"Mumby Daiyo?"

"Yeah." He smiled. Nice teeth, she thought. She rose to shake his hand. He held her shoulder firm, motioning for her to stay seated.

"I'm sorry I'm late." He apologized as he slid in the booth across from her.

"It's okay. I haven't waited very long." She explained. Looking at him, she admitted that she liked how he looked. He was tall and slim. He had nice long fingers with very pale skin. His hair was a curly mess of brown waves. He wore a beanie to keep most of it in place. His eyes twinkled and held her gaze invitingly.

He was looking at her. Please don't ogle me, she thought. She hated when guys did that. So, she looked away finding a distraction. She didn't want him to see her seeing him seeing her. She thought she'd spare him the embarrassment. She caught the Jedi from earlier staring at her again.

"You're very beautiful." He said softly, Mumby's voice pulling her eyes away from the cloaked figure. His admission startled her. Oh no, here it goes again. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes; instead, she focused on the pattern in the tabletop.

Becoming eager to smooth over this awkward moment and ready almost, to bolt from the diner and head home, she replied.

"Thank you." She looked back at him and found the same dazzled look in his eyes. "Would you like to order something now? I haven't eaten since lunch and I'm starved."

With this she pressed a button in the center of the table. An electronic image of a menu slid before them and hovered in mid-air. She tried to concentrate on "Soups and Salads", but that area of the menu held his gazing eyes. Oh gods, not again. She had to break this spell.

"So, what looks good?" Motioning with her forefinger she continued. "I think I'll have this and this. And you?"

Alice the waitress rolled back over to her table.

"I see your date finally arrived. What'll it be, hon?" She asked Mumby.

Immediately, Tam was grateful for her interruption. This seemed to waken Mumby from his dumbfounded reverie. He asked about today's special. Alice ran off the list from memory.

"Good. I'll take it. And you, Tam?" He looked toward her. She reached between them and pressed the button, disengaging the menu. "I'll have the same." She smiled at the droid.

"Alright. We'll have it out in a few. I'll get your drink to you in just a sec." She informed Mumby, turned on her spinning wheel and rolled away.

More and more people began to enter the diner. It was closer to suppertime now. Tam longed to be home, cozy in her small flat. "So…" She began. "How do you know Eve-6?" She caught him again, giving her that same look. She felt naked under his scrutiny. Usually people stare at you if you have food on your face or a zit or mole or something. Her problem, a trick of the cosmos, was that she was too beautiful; or so she had been told.

He shook himself. Yes. Real conversation. Did you think we would meet and I'd do nothing but allow you to stare at me all evening? Tam thought.

"Ohhh, Eve-6. Yes." His brow furrowed as he searched for words and attempted to focus. "She worked for me once."

Tam didn't remember Eve-6 mentioning this bit of information.

"Worked for you?"

"Yes. At my club. I own a couple of clubs on the lower East Side. Didn't she tell you?"

"No. All she said about you is that you're an old friend of the family." Tam reached her coffee and took a long sip. This was absolutely torturous. She didn't dislike meeting new people—it's just that it always took her awhile to warm up to them. "What kind of clubs do you own, Mumby?"

He smiled at this. The waitress zoomed back through, setting his spritzer down upon the table with a thunk. He watched her back up to the next table and seemed to consider his thoughts before speaking again.

"Just entertainment-type nightclubs." The look in his gaze was anticipatory.

"Like strip clubs?"

He laughed while avoiding an answer. "What if I say yes, will you cut this date short and never see me again?"

"I don't know. I've never dated a strip-club owner before." She smartly replied.

"I guess all the guys you date are the stuffy corporate types."

"You know…maybe this was a bad idea." She looked at him squarely. There was something in his eyes that gleamed challenge. His face was fixed into a permanent smirk. Was he toying with her? Trying to get a rise out of her? Before she could determine the sincerity, if any, behind his mirth, the waitress set plates of steaming hot food down before them.

"A-ha. You can't leave now. Our food is here. You can't let it go to waste." He smiled, winking at her as he reached for a fork and began to dig in.

"I could always carry it out. Eat it when I get home." She tersely replied.

"Where's the fun in that? Don't I pique your interest?" He teased.

Oh gods, this man was full of himself. She contemplated throwing a spoonful of borscht in his direction, but decided against it. Something in his smile…

"I can't read you, Mr. Mumby. That's why I'm debating on leaving." She swallowed down a big spoonful of the stewy substance.

"Look. Let's start over. Hi. I'm Mumby, a friend of Eve-6's. I know her family. She thought it'd be great if you and I got together. I'm thinking she was right." He stuck his hand across the table, waiting for her to grasp it in a handshake.

There it was again, that mischievous smile. And look, he has dimples. Slowly she reached her hand to touch his. Very nice. They were smooth and warm, not too soft and not overly callused. Very nice, indeed. And his grip upon hers was firm.

"Hi." She replied softly. "I'm Tam, a friend of Eve-6. She told me you had great hair for a stoner, so I decided to come in and check you out." She stated jokingly.

He laughed, unaware that he yet held her hand.

"I see she at least told you that much about me." He laughed.

"Yes. Yes, she did." Tam slowly pulled her hand back to her side of the table. She began to eat again, feeling whatever tension she felt earlier, dissipate into the air around them.

"Listen." He signaled, lowering his fork to the plate. "I'm a businessman. I own a couple of clubs and yes some of them are…well, they're classified as 'adult-entertainment'. But I'm legit. I try and keep my business that way. I'm a nice guy. I know Eve-6 wouldn't set this up if she didn't think you wouldn't be interested. I'm just asking you to give me a chance, that's all."

He recited all of this with such sincerity that Tam had to shake herself to wake from the spell. She considered his offering. It wasn't like she hadn't dated other disreputable types. There was Alex on PluQwonn Moon, she remembered. He ran a game room where in the back they had cockfights and gambling. All of that was illegal on a Republic-run planet. Her relationship with him lasted six months. Their breakup had nothing to do with his livelihood; rather it was his reluctance to take their relationship to the next level. Instead, he took it to his ex-girlfriend's bed. When she walked in and found them, he murmured an anguished "hello", she yelled "goodbye" and hauled ass from that rock.

There were others, but time demanded she make a choice right now, rather than commiserate about the past in an attempt to rationalize her future.

Conceding defeat, she replied. "Okay." She said it slowly, softly and with a smile. This seemed to put Mumby more at ease. He began asking her questions about her life before moving to Coruscant. He seemed very interested in her past, her growing up years. She called him on his unusual queries and he replied, "Well, when we walk out of here tonight, if you decide you don't want to see me again, [which I hope you do], at least I will have known you and known as much as I can about you in the short time we've had." He gave her a tender smile.

She liked him already. Immediately she felt herself soften some more. She returned his smile with one so warm it could've melted the sun.

They stayed in the diner, until later that night. Much of the crowd had dispersed in favor of getting home before it became too dark. She glanced at her chrono, noticing the time. She hated to cut this short, but she really needed to get some sleep.

"Look, Mumby, this has been really great. But, I've got to get going."

He smiled at her, sipping the last of his coffee. "Can I take you home?"

She hesitated only for a moment. She didn't like people to see where she lived. Mumby for all intents and purposes was still something of a stranger.

"It's only a short walk from here. I don't need a ride."

He considered this for a minute. "You're not brushing me off, are you?" He approached the question with a slow smile, sitting, waiting, and anticipating her answer.

"No. I just don't want you to put yourself out." With this she slid from the booth and stood. He followed suit, standing behind and lifting her jacket so that she could slide her arms inside.

"Can I at least walk you home?" He smoothed down the collar of her jacket. She could feel his hands linger. Turning she faced him and nodded "okay". He turned, slid his Republic credit-card through the slot, punched in a generous amount of tip for the waitress, then guided her, hand to elbow out the front door.

Tam passed through the small entranceway, feeling his hand rest easy at the small of her back as she stepped down the short set of stairs. She felt his hand again, on her arm as she maneuvered them both along the busy sidewalk. Turning she smiled at him. He took this as permission to slide his hand further along her arm, encasing her palm in his own. How very sweet, she thought.

They dodged a pair of street dancers performing for tips at the corner. She bumped into the back of a passerby. She lifted her eyes in apology. Holding tightly to Mumby's hand she met the gaze of the Jedi she noticed earlier inside the diner. He smiled peculiarly at her and stepped aside as she and Mumby squeezed by. She turned again and found the Jedi yet staring at her.

"I really hate those guys." He murmured in her ear.

"How come?" She asked. They continued along the street, the sidewalks becoming clearer as they veered away from the busy intersection.

"I just don't trust them. They're too dogmatic." He confessed. Squeezing her hand, he joked, "I thought you said you didn't live far from here? We could've taken my air-limo."

"Air-limo? Wow. That definitely wouldn't have been necessary."

"Because?" He prompted.

"Because we're here." They stood in front of a dilapidated building. At the bottom level were a couple of shops, a Chinese laundry, a Chinese restaurant and other significant businesses.

"C'mon, my entrance is around back." She pulled him along the side of the building. A small door in the wall opened with the swipe of her key. A stairwell in a dimly lit hall rose into the ceiling.

She let go of his hand and walked toward the set of mailboxes encased in the wall. Retrieving her mail, she turned toward him.

"I'm only one floor up. You don't have to walk me the rest of the way. This is good."

She stood in front of him, holding her mail and attempting to decipher the rust stains in the ceiling just above his head. He reached her arm and squeezed gently.

"This is a first date. I want to walk you 'all the way' home, okay?" He smiled, stepping back allowing her to take the staircase ahead of him.

Reaching her door on the next floor up, she slid her key through the bolt, the lock released and the door cracked open.

"Listen, my place isn't…I wasn't expecting company…"

"Shhh, it's okay, really." He reached around her and opened the door further. "It's alright. Just promise you'll see me again." He stepped back. This time he was closer. She felt self-conscious and pressed herself into the frame of her doorway. What the hell is wrong with me? This is a nice guy. He just wants…a kiss.

Mumby's hands settled on her sides. They were warm and insistent. He pulled her toward him, closer.

"Can I call you tomorrow?" His mouth was only a whisper away from hers. She stared at it, at the soft cherry coloring of his lips.

Because she didn't trust herself to say it, she nodded smiling softly. He pulled her in further; her arms fell upon his chest. He angled his head and leaned in, connecting their mouths. Time stood still as his lips held hot against hers. He moved his lips, opening them wider, deepening the kiss with a taste of his tongue.

Oh heavens! She willed her knees to not bend. She returned the kiss with the same fervor. He took this as encouragement and squeezed her sides, running his hands along her spine. He pressed her against the frame and they continued their tongue-battle for a few moments more. Finally, he let up. Breathing heavily, he rested his head in the crook of her neck. Her arms encircled him. Be strong, Tam, be strong. She wanted so much to pull him inside. It'd been too long.

"I'll call you tomorrow, okay?" He pulled back staring into her face.

She met his gaze head-on. They were closer now, after that explosive kiss. She felt more at ease with him than before.

"Tomorrow." She nodded. She leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on his bruised lips. She turned and stole away inside the apartment. She leaned against the door listening as he left the hallway. A few moments later, she heard the whooshing sound of an air vehicle near her window. Walking to the balcony, she watched him enter the car, watched it rise into the air and enter the light traffic overhead.

She hugged herself, not thinking she'd ever feel this way so soon after arriving on a new planet. She was pleased with herself that she remained strong. Despite the rough beginning, she liked him and yes, she wanted to see him again.

**********************************************************************

"You must learn to mind your thoughts, padawan."

"I'm sorry, Master. She is very beautiful, I can't help but to think of her."

"Try thinking of other things, like our mission tonight. We must remain focused at all times."

"Yes, master."

The younger Jedi followed his master's form as it descended a dark stairwell into the underground. Coruscant maintained public transport for the lower levels underneath the planet's surface. Xanatos watched his head as they passed underneath the awning of the lobby's entranceway.

"You must mind your thoughts when we arrive. We cannot jeopardize this mission, padawan."

"Yes, master."

Xanatos tried hard to not think of the girl from the diner. Seeing her the first time caught his attention. He'd be a fool not to recognize the beauty that emanated from her. When she caught his eye, he smiled. But she looked away, perhaps unnerved by his presence? Most people were. Sometimes, he thought the Jedi to be like the plague. People were always fearful of catching their wrath, except in a time of crisis when they embraced their stalwart forms.

Master and padawan passed through metal detectors and entered with the rest of the travelers onto the A-Train headed for downtown. They stuck to lower-level transport in order to keep suspicion down. They represented two Jedi, disgruntled with their station in the Republic—disillusioned Jedi who wanted to carve their own niche in Republic politics.

"Just be yourself, padawan. Any questions they ask, I will answer."

"Yes, master."

Xanatos stood next to Qui-Gon as the train began to accelerate. The train wasn't nearly as crowded during this late hour. A few citizens sat were scattered throughout the car, en route to their homes or their nightshift jobs. Xanatos pulled the hood of his cowl closer. He sensed evil; the closer they came to their stop. He hugged himself closer, feeling the chills of the unknown cascade down his spine.

"I feel it too. Conquer the apprehension swelling within you. Control your fear, we will be successful."

Qui-Gon patted Xanatos on his shoulder in an effort to soothe his diminishing calm. The train stopped at station XXX-09A. The doors slid open and both Jedi exited the car, finding the nearest exit staircase and ascending above ground. The area was a very poor place, yet hotels and bars and billiard halls lined the streets. Prostitutes of every nationality and species lined the corners, catcalling at any passerby who looked desperate enough to take them up on their offers.

"What is the name of the place, Master?"

"Club-Shiznit. It's only a block away." Qui-Gon sighed as they pushed their way through the crowd. "Apparently this club has levels situated below the surface and along these levels lie a labyrinth of rooms, perfect enough for any top secret meeting."

"Perfect for keeping people in, I'd say." Xanatos responded.

"That too. Just be observant and mindful of the thoughts of those we may encounter."

"Yes, master."

They continued to walk in silence, pushing their way through the herds of citizens who preferred the outside of their homes at this late hour instead of the inside. Xanatos walked with his eyes focused to the ground, almost afraid of looking these beings in the face, for fear of seeing the blackness surrounding their hearts. Could he blame them? Blame them for not being more optimistic about life while living in a place such as this? Who knew Coruscant housed such scum?

"Shield your thoughts, Xan. I can hear you."

"Yes, master."

A group of what appeared to be female prostitutes reached for him as the two Jedi strolled by. One grabbed the hood of his cloak pulling it back and revealing the shock of blue-black hair that lay beneath it. Xanatos turned on the meddler and met her gaze with a scowl. His brilliantly violet eyes shot darts at the tart who uncovered him.

"Mind your hands, woman." He snarled.

The woman stared in awe at the young Jedi. Instant fear corrupted the features of her face. She turned on her heels and ran back to her group, constantly checking to see that he didn't follow her.

"Come, padawan. And put your hood back in place." Qui-Gon's warm hand upon his shoulder shook him back into place. He didn't understand where the rage came from and why he unleashed it on her. Perhaps it was this place, the dark side feeding his melancholy thoughts. He had to learn not to let his thoughts stray thusly. He turned once more before following Qui inside the dark entrance to Club Shiznit. The girl was no longer in sight. Why did he snap on her? She didn't know any better. She lived in a place without much respect for morals; hell, she looked so young, yet haggard and washed-up. She might've been beautiful once, like the girl he saw in the diner.

He thought of her again as they descended a dark stairwell inside the club. He remembered the feel of soft flesh as she bumped into him on the sidewalk. He remembered the look of her eyes, soft and brown and shaped like almonds and her lips…

"Padawan!" Qui had stopped midstep and turned on his young apprentice. "Mind your thoughts. Do not let me have to tell you this again."

"Yes, master, I'm sorry master, sir."

Xanatos bowed his head in shame. He let his mind wander and focus on things more important than the mission. His behavior was unbecoming of a Jedi; he knew this having been a part of the Academy for so long. Nineteen years, in fact. He'd yet to be on a mission that would prove him worthy of one day becoming a knight. Hopefully this mission would shed light on his talents.

They arrived in front of a large set of ornate doors. The carvings beheld the likes of screaming faces caught up into a tumultuous rapture. Xanatos rubbed a finger along the gold-leafed surface, wondering if the crackles were permanently transfixed by design or old age. A loud noise of metal shifting resounded in the darkened hallway. They'd only descended the first flight of stairs; who knew what wonders lay beyond this level?

The doors shifted and slowly swung open. The brightness of the room startled his eyesight, causing him to blink a few times in order to re-focus. Inside, a large table surrounded by tall stone chairs sat in the middle of the room. Torchères were lit along the walls, two to each of the forty-eight panels surrounding the circular space. Apparently, they were the first to arrive.

"Remember, padawan. I'll do all the talking."

"Yes, master."

Together they stepped onto the threshold and entered the room. A great gust of wind ushered in, blowing their robes about them and slamming the doors they'd only recently passed through.

"Welcome, Jedi."

A figure of a man, tall, lanky and deathly pale rose from the chair with its back facing them. They did not see him, nor had they sensed him; the presence of the darkside was so strong in this place.

Both Jedi turned and viewed the man who made his entry so grand.

"Lardus the Phat, gentleman. I'm the owner." Seeing that they were not impressed with his introduction, he stepped beside them and walked toward the table.

"They'll be here shortly. Until then, make yourselves as comfortable as you like." He gestured toward the tables and the lay of food and wine centered there.

"Thank you." Qui Gon responded. Lardus turned on his heel and made his way via a side door from the room. But not before giving young Xanatos a heated once-over.

"Very weird, that one is." He spoke.

Qui looked sideways at his young apprentice. It was a common thing among padawans and other young learners to mimic the venerable Jedi Master Yoda. Qui understood Xan meant it all in fun, but he felt the need to chastise him anyway.

"Mind your mouth, padawan. The walls have ears; you never know who can be listening."

Together they took a seat at the table. Xanatos reached for a glass intent on pouring himself a cup of wine; his other hand plucked at the bulbous mass of fruit spilling over the platter.

"No, Xanatos."

"How come?"

"It may be drugged or poisoned."

"I'm sorry, master." Qui-Gon gave his apprentice a disbelieving stare.

"Are you hungry so soon after our stop at the diner?"

"Just a little thirsty after all the walking."

Xanatos resumed his seat, somewhat disappointed at not being able to partake of the lush food before him. He twiddled his thumbs in an attempt to quell his nervous anticipation and together he and his master waited on the others to arrive.

**********************************************************************

Tam woke to the sound of rain pattering against the window of her small flat. The morning ushered in sunlight filtered through the hum of rush hour traffic above. In a moment the alarm would sound, signaling her to awaken. She always woke before it rang; she wondered if she needed an alarm at all. Turning over, she snuggled deeper into the warmth of her small bed. She thought about last night and her date with "the businessman". He had been persistent, not letting her go. He held her there, challenging her with words and innuendo. He definitely has a slick tongue, she thought. Tongue. The kiss. She groaned inwardly, pulling her body into fetal position. Damn, he kisses well. I wonder what else he can do…

Before her mind wandered too far into fantasy, the commlink on the nightstand shrilled loudly. Groaning again, this time not in pleasure, she turned reaching for the small device. The display read, "Ti-Ahndi Enterprises". Flipping the piece open, she spoke into the receiver.

"Hello?"

"My, my, don't we sound a bit…tired." A teasing female voice quipped.

Tam rolled her eyes at the insinuation.

"Look, Eve-6. I just woke up. I'll tell you all about it when I get to work, alright?"

"Okay, okay. I hope he didn't disappoint. I don't know why I didn't fix you up with him before."

"Maybe it's 'coz I wasn't looking for anyone 'before'." She sighed. "I'll tell you everything later. I've got to get ready."

"Just one quick question."

"What."

"Are you going to see him again?"

Tam paused for a moment, thinking. Was she ready for all of this relationship crap again? The mere fact that she referred to it as crap should've been insight enough. Still, there was something about him she liked. Her mind and body wanted to know more, but she was unsure if her heart could take that chance again.

"I don't know. Maybe. Probably. I haven't decided."

"I think you should."

"This conversation is going nowhere. I'll see you in a bit." With this she closed the case, hearing Eve-6 continue to rattle away questions. As soon as she set the comm. on the table it rang again. She grabbed it up off the table.

"I said I would talk to you later, alright? Goodbye." She moved to close the device.

"Wait." A male voice responded.

"Who is this?" She asked, confused.

"Have you forgotten me already? Damn." The voice sounded a bit sad. Then she recognized it.

"Mumby? I'm so sorry!" She laughed, immediately blushing, embarrassed by her rudeness. "I just didn't recognize…"

"It's okay. I wanted to call you, later, but sometimes I can be very impatient, so I decided to call you now."

"That's fine, really. I'm just now waking up. I have to be at work in an hour." She glanced the chrono on the wall. It read 06:45.

"Let me pick you up. I know this place that sells great cappuccino."

"My job is over in the warehouse district, Mumby. It's too far out of your way."

"No, no, no. I want you…I mean I don't mind. I'll be through in about thirty minutes, okay?"

Now blushing profusely, she nodded before answering "yes". They hung up and she practically floated from the bed into the fresher. She made sure her makeup was perfect. She picked her Tam with care; having worn braids for a while, the texture of the hair was more wavy than usual. She liked it and she was sure he'd like it, too. She donned a skintight business suit. The top v-necked down to reveal a bit of cleavage, while the bottom, a skirt with pleated edges equally hugged her curvaceous form. She wore black stiletto boots and a small pendant on the collar, one that her mother had given to her.

A knock at her door interrupted her perusal. She grabbed up her small handbag and portfolio cases, willing her nerves to calm themselves as she reached to open the door. A man, in his late fifties and dressed in a chauffeur's suit stood at attention.

"Yes?" She asked hesitantly.

"Mrs. Wild, I presume?"

"Yes, that's correct." She looked up and down the hallway. Where was Mumby? And who was this guy?

"I am here to collect you."

She responded by giving him a look. "Excuse me?"

"Mr. Mumby. He is waiting in the alley. We are here to pick you up." The butler or chauffeur or whatever exercised great patience in his explanation. She could tell he didn't deal with normal folk like her that often. Why would she guess he was there to "collect her", as he said, when Mumby said that "he" would pick her up.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm ready then."

He turned on his heel and preceded her down the stairwell, out the door and into the car. The alleyway held the same amount of refuse it normally did. She smelled the aroma of laundry detergent as well as ramen noodles waft from the business around the corner.

The butler held the door opened and Mumby unfolded his tall form, stepping back in admiration as he looked on her. Reaching for her, he pulled her into an embrace, kissing her softly on the lips, staring into her eyes.

"You look great." His eyes traveled the length of her. "Do you normally dress this way for work or…?" He smiled. Yesterday had been one of her more casual days. She'd donned a sweater and wore slacks, nothing too fancy. Obviously he noticed her desire to impress him and by the looks in his eyes, it worked.

"Yes, I normally dress this way." She resisted the urge to playfully hit him on the chest. Still holding her close, she would've been unable to do so, anyway.

"Let's go." He stepped back and ushered her into the car. Following her, he sank into the leather seating alongside her, wrapping his arms around her, and then pulling her close.

Have mercy, she thought. She wasn't going to be any good at work today. If he kept touching her, she wouldn't make it out of the back of this limo. Be strong, Tam, be strong, she commanded herself.

Resting her hand upon his leg, she turned to look at him.

"So, where is this great coffee shop you were speaking of?"

"Oh, yeah." He squeezed her side. "I'd forgotten about…coffee." He winked. "It's down by the Temple. Do you know where the Meditation Gardens are?"

"No. I don't get downtown very often."

"How long have you been here again?"

"About a year." She replied. Again, she felt herself relaxing into him. She leaned into his embrace, laying her head on his shoulder. He took his right hand and entwined it with hers resting on his leg.

"You don't get out that much, do you?"

"No, not really." How could he guess? "I bet Eve-6 told you as much, huh?"

"No." He paused. "I kind of figured it out."

"And is it a bad thing?"

"No. Actually, I like it. You stick to yourself. It's one of the best ways to stay out of trouble. I'm just glad you "got out", so that we could meet." With this said, he turned and lifted her faced toward his. She nodded an affirmative to the question in his eyes.

"Me too." Her eyes fell to his lips and they began to kiss. The kiss became deeper and more heated. He squeezed her closer to him, releasing her hand and placing it upon her leg. He pulled her into him and she loved it. Their breaths were ragged and the sounds of moist kisses filled the air. She remembered her place and remembered the partition between the cab of the limo and the driver's area was still open. She slowed her lips against his and pulled away. He groaned in protest, mentally willing himself to calm.

"You taste so good." He replied, arousal coating his voice.

She was too embarrassed to answer. Nervously, she glanced toward the chauffeur.

"Oh, are you worried about Farnsworth?" He pulled his arm from around her and leaned forward, pressing a button inside the console. A glass partition raised itself giving them privacy she only wished they had moments before.

"We, ummm, well I just got too carried away." She stated. He turned, reached her hand and squeezed.

"Me, too. It's just that…" He hesitated for a minute. "I want you. Wait let me start over. I really, really, really, really, really like you." He stopped waiting on her reaction. She smiled and replied. "I like you too, Mumby."

"Good, because I really, really, really, really, really want you, too. Do you know what I mean?"

She stared at him. Did he take her for a virgin? Did she seem that inexperienced to him? She quelled the desire to laugh in his face. Little did he know how much she wanted him in return. "That way".

"I know." She replied softly. "I just think we should slow things down. We've only been on one date!"

He understood the implication and nodded. The car began to decelerate; she felt the craft as it lowered to the level of the Meditation Gardens. Farnsworth opened the door and stood away as Mumby escorted her from the car.

"Coffee, then?"

"Cappuccino." She replied. He grabbed her hand and together they walked inside the pavilion.

*********************************************************************

He woke this morning, finding his body sore from the constant tossing and turning in the night. He spent a longer time than usual inside the fresher, letting the hot water revive him and soothe the aches in his bones. He concentrated on finding himself in the Force. Not only was his body out of sorts, so were the thoughts in his mind. He hated this deception, this lying to a band of ruffians believing he and his master to be two Jedi, rebelling against the Republic in secret. He hated the nature of their mission. He'd said nothing; Qui-Gon did all the talking and those who'd joined them asked no questions directly of him.

Strapping on the pants and tunic and layers of robes, he promised to meet up with his master after breakfast. He headed down to the dining hall with the aroma of breakfast filling the air. He walked the line, grabbing a muffin and a juice. He didn't want to visit with his friends, so he hastily ducked out of the hall in the direction of outside. After eating the muffin and drinking the juice, he tossed the trash in a nearby receptacle and made his way to the southernmost corner of the Gardens. Here a waterfall sat amongst a pool filled with coy. The waterfall fell alongside the railing of this particular level, cascading downward into another pool on the lowest level. From here, he viewed the morning hustle and bustle of Coruscant.

He'd surprised himself by not being as sleepy as he thought he would be. He and Master Qui-Gon arrived back at the Temple very late. Together, they took the lift to their quarters with nothing but silence between them. Each went their separate ways, Qui-Gon to meditate on the night's adventure and Xanatos to fall into a restless sleep with visions of the girl from the diner in his head.

Looking at the people below, he almost envied them and their predictable ways. Glancing toward the pavilion he saw a number of citizens shopping and eating at the various stores and restaurants situated inside. He singled out a couple, male and female, who walked hand in hand carrying plastic-filled cups of coffee or tea. They drew closer, deep in conversation; the male held her hand as they walked, keeping his eyes on her while she spoke. Looking closer, Xanatos recognized the female. She was the girl from the diner.

The couple walked along the lower levels of the gardens, passing under where he stood and out of his sight. His heart beat rapidly. His thoughts were tinged with excitement and disappointment at having seen her again, but also seeing her with her lover. He turned and strode briskly toward the moving staircase that took him down to the lower level. He had to consciously remind himself to walk and not run; he didn't want to have to explain his actions to his elders. They wouldn't understand. He had to see her again, boyfriend or no.

He arrived at the area where he thought them to have passed. Glancing in the distance, just beyond the entryway he found them. Moving closer, but trying to remain unnoticed, he watched as the man pulled her in for a deep kiss. They didn't seem to mind the fact that they were in a public place. In an attempt to remain unseen, he pulled his cowl over his head. Slowly he walked closer to them; they continued to embrace. Other Jedi entered and exited from this part of the gardens. They walked along not seeming to notice the two civilians attacking one another in broad daylight. Some of them wore their cowls in place in an effort to blot out the sun.

The man released her. She pulled away, nodding before turning slightly to lower herself into the car. Xanatos made his way closer; he could almost detect the hint of her fragrance. He passed the couple. She seated herself in the car and the man pulled the door closed behind her. He then walked around and slid into the other side of the car. Xanatos hadn't realized that he stopped so close to the car. He gazed at the blackened window. Nothing. The limo rose in the air and joined the traffic that lulled above them.

His heart grew heavy. He wasn't supposed to allow himself to feel 'this' way. Silently he chastised himself for his actions. This was not becoming of a Jedi Knight in training. What would his father think? What would Qui-Gon think? He had to let this ridiculous fascination go. She was just a girl, like any other, out of his reach. He could never 'know' her. And this is one of the things about the Order that infuriated him.

"Xanatos! How many times have I told you to shield your thoughts?" Qui-Gon's voice erupted from behind him. "The whole Temple might've just heard you."

"I'm sorry, master."

"Sorry is not enough. I want you to go meditate. Now. Think about what you have allowed yourself to feel. You know the nature of these thoughts and where they lead." Qui took a few paces away from his padawan learner. Sighing resignedly, he continued. "I have to meet with those fellows from last night. It seems there are others of us who want to join the ranks of the New, New Republic. I will be so glad once this wicked plot is revealed and this mission is over."

"Let me come with you. You may need my protection!"

Qui's face became a mask of incredulity. "You protect me?"

"You know what I mean. I don't trust those guys, master. And I don't think they believe we are who we say we are."

Qui-Gon seemed to consider his apprentice. Sure, the hours in meditation he'd assigned him were meant to be more a punishment than anything else. With his apprentice at his side, they could continue to maintain the façade of their dealings with this rebel scum.

"Okay. But you have to meditate en route and on our way back. I don't want you giving away our secret because you're too focused on some nameless girl."

"Yes, master. I won't disappoint. I promise."

Already the rage Xanatos felt only a moment before eased. He had erased the image of the girl from his mind, that is, until his Master mentioned her again.

"I promise." He stated again in an effort to reassure not only his master, but also, himself. "Where are we going this time?"

"Warehouse district. It's too far out for the A-train. We'll take a cab from here."

Together they continued along the walk until they met the corner's edge. Qui motioned for one of the many aircabs, which swished by. They boarded the small yellow vessel.

"Ti-Ahndi Enterprises." Qui directed.

The car lifted into the air once again joining the lines of traffic from whence it came. Xanatos emptied his mind of all thought; closing his eyes he concentrated on the light side of the Force. The field of his vision grew into a pure white light. Two objects seeped into the color; they moved, opened to reveal a pair of almond-shaped eyes. The eyes blinked and he felt joy at seeing them, knowing who they belonged to, knowing the Force sent him an image of her. His fascination with her had to be right on some level. His heart was light with joy; he basked in the glow of the Force for a few seconds more until the darkness begin to creep inside. The image revealed eyes leaking tears, frantically searching, looking up and down, left and right. Darkness began to creep along the edges and eat away at the frame of light, until all but a shiny spot of it remained. An image of his father stood in the midst of this; his father dressed in his war armor. This image slowly eroded to reveal an older image of him some years into the future. He was marked with a crescent-shaped scar upon his face. He raised his lightsaber into the air and charged. A voice in the distance screamed his name.

"Xan! Xan! We've arrived. Wake up, already." Qui-Gon shook him awake. Xanatos had fallen into a deep meditative sleep. Had his master not sensed his troubling vision? Had he effectively shielded himself for once? And while sleeping at that? Xanatos didn't understand it. He and Qui-Gon stepped from the limo and began a long trek across the courtyard of Ti-Ahndi Enterprises.

**********************************************************************

He couldn't keep his hands off of her. And she liked it. Tam smiled, thinking to herself how lucky she was to find a guy so into her.

"What are you smiling about?" He asked her as they walked across the courtyard. The airlimo awaited them along the curb. Farnsworth stood by the door, as stoic as ever.

"Nothing special." She turned and grinned.

"No, tell me, what is it." He asked.

"Oh, this cappuccino, it's just so wonderful. Too wonderful in fact. I can't help but to smile."

He motioned for Farnsworth to get out of the way. The older man stepped back and walked to the driver's side and got in.

"I think it's a little more than that, Tam." He squeezed her side as she turned preparing to step inside the car.

"Okay. I'll give." He waited, grinning like a Cheshire cat, knowing the answer before she admitted it. "It's you. And me. And the coffee. How's that?"

He pulled her close, angling his head holding his lips above her own. She didn't know how much of this she could take. His kisses were Heaven-sent, but she wanted more and that knowledge began to scare her. He touched his lips to hers again and together their tongues met in a slow tangled mesh of want. She was the first to moan; he deepened the kiss before ending it by tugging her bottom lip gently between his teeth.

"I think the kisses we share might have something to do with your bliss, too." He whispered. Dazed, she nodded a slow response. "I really need to get to work." Where in the world did these words come from? Her body screamed, "Pull him in the car and ride him until the sun goes down!" Apparently her mind won out on this battle. She remembered where she had to be; already she was late. She did not look forward to explaining her tardiness to her superior.

"So it is the kisses." He teased. He released his hold on her allowing her to slide inside the car. She sat stock still, yet feeling his mouth upon hers and relishing the rush of warmth in her belly. Soon, she promised herself. It would happen soon and it would be good. She couldn't continue to strike out in the relationship department. There had to be somebody out there for her. Could he be the one? Her gaze moved up from the handle of the door to tinted view of outside. A young man, tall, dressed in robes stood less than a meter away from the car. He glared at the window with a look of disbelief plastered to his face. She noticed his eyes. Even though the tinted glass she could tell they were of an unusual color. There was something unnerving about it all.

Mumby bounded in the seat beside her. Shutting the door he gave Farnsworth directions to her job. He pressed a button, lifting the partition again so they could be alone. She felt his hands gather her close but she was unable to pull her gaze from the young man outside. Mumby, following her line of vision asked, "Who is it?"

Tam grateful to him for the interruption, turned and said, "Jedi."

He squeezed her tight, feeling her unease at the clergyman. "Freaks." Mumby mumbled. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. I'm fine. Just…do they normally stare at you like that?"

"Oh yeah. Especially when they're about to Force-choke you." With this he reached under her chin and pinched the skin of her neck. She laughed because it tickled. He was so good. Being around him made her feel light and fresh. Please, gods don't let this fellow be too good to be true. Resting her head on his chest she closed her eyes and listened to his heartbeat. She felt his hand as it traveled up and down, from the curve of her waist to the bend where neck and shoulder met. This felt good. It felt nice.

Chapter 2

**********************************************************************

"So we walked to my flat, said our goodbyes and this morning he picked me up, took me to Java-Café, and then dropped me off at work." Afro sat perched at her desk. She ran the telecom lines for Ti-Ahndi Shipping. A small headset molded the form of her ear; a small microphone attached to a strip of metal ran horizontally along the length of her cheek, stopping just short of her mouth. She arrived ten minutes late. Fortunately, her boss, Tyler Calcisco hadn't made it to work before her. She was able to sit back, decode messages saved from overnight, and send those messages to the correct channels.

She reached into the air, selecting folders and sending them to the correct departments. The hologram was interactive. Instead of a flat-screened display monitor, images of orders and deliveries hovered in the air; if anyone suspect walked into the facility, chances are she'd be the first to see them. It was something of a security measure. Usually at the end of the day, her arms hurt more than her eyes.

"So he didn't spend the night?"

"Eve-6! It was a first date! What kind of woman do you take me for?"

Eve-6 worked in the records department upstairs. They often chatted via the comm. during the day. Whatever wasn't covered or uncovered during these chats, Eve-6 made sure to bring during the lunch hour.

"Some of us are known to…fall." Eve-6 mused. "He is quite handsome, isn't he?"

"Very." Tam sighed thinking of the goodbye kiss he planted on her earlier. He asked to see her again tonight; said he would swing by and pick her up.

"So, did you at least kiss him?"

"Eve-6! Come on! What's with these questions? You know I don't kiss and tell."

"Ah! So you 'did' kiss him!"

"Geez, Eve. Hey, listen, my boss is walking up. I'll see you at lunch, okay?"

"Okay. Grinot's again?"

"What?"

"Grinot's. The Italian place on Sixth Street."

"Grinot's is fine, just meet me at my desk."

"Will do. See you."

Tam selected a button from the holographic display in order to disengage the call. Tyler approached the desk, sliding his security clearance through the scanner, and proceeded without saying anything to her through the double doors, which led further inside the facility. He was a weird one, Tam thought. She had never seen the man smile. He always looked worried or upset about something.

The doors at the end of the long corridor swished open. Sunlight blasted through the wall of windows running parallel with the walkway. Because of the bright intensity of the sun, two figures she could not make out walked steadily toward the desk. The closer they came the more she was able to distinguish some features. They wore brown robes and tunics. The hair of one was slicked back while the other displayed a crown of black waves. They continued their approach. Suddenly she realized: these are Jedi.

The figures stopped short of her desk. She saw that the one with the slick hair was an older Jedi, while the other… There was something familiar about the younger one's eyes. But Jedi? What were they doing here of all places.

"Welcome to Ti-Ahndi Enterprises. Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes. We are here to see Tyler Calcisco."

"Give me a moment to confirm."

Tam lowered the holograph. She transferred the view to the topside of her desk. Selecting buttons and dragging items, she found and confirmed the appointment. She glanced upwards and caught the eyes of both Jedi. The younger one seemed to stare at her more intently; or was it just the purple brilliance of his eyes?

"I see you here. I will open the door for you. Please wait inside, he shouldn't be too long." She slid her security clearance and the doors swished open. She watched as both Jedi crossed into the large waiting room. The raven-haired Jedi turned, catching her eye; he seemed on the verge of saying something. "Padawan." The elder called. Reluctantly, he turned away and the door swished shut behind him.

Lifting the display back into the air, she continued transferring items, eagerly anticipating the end of the day so that she could see Mumby again. He wouldn't tell her what he had planned for them. He said he wants it to be a surprise. Her heart couldn't stop doing flip-flops over that. Soon she found her hands resting easy in her lap, as she sat and gazed out the window. Large hovercraft moved cargo from one storage house to the next. Thinking she'd given Tyler enough time to get situated she turned, pressing the console, and rang his office.

"Tyler Calcisco." He answered gruffly.

"There are two Jedi here to see you. I put them in the waiting room." She replied.

"Thanks."

He hung up and she disconnected the line. While glancing the time on her chrono, her stomach grumbled, three more hours until lunch. She couldn't wait.

**********************************************************************

Xanatos stood by the large window and watched the activity of the yards. Qui-Gon stood a few feet away speaking with their contact, Tyler Calcisco. Qui broke away from the gangly fellow and walked toward his padawan.

"I'm going with him to speak to the one in charge of this facility. I want you to stay here and keep your eyes and ears open." He pointed toward Xanatos. "Wait for me here. Hear me if I call."

"Yes, Master."

Qui-Gon turned and rejoined Tyler. Together they walked through another set of double doors.

Xanatos was left with his thoughts and a burning desire to go and speak with the girl outside of the door. Many times, he started, his young body moving with purpose toward the door, but stopped short before he could commit to going through. What would he say to her? Would she think him a dribbling idiot? This made for the third time fate brought them together. First it was the diner, then the gardens and now here in this impersonal space.

The door swished open and there she stood. As if on cue, reading his thoughts she'd come to him. Her eyes searched the room. Catching his eye, she smiled slowly.

"Coffee?" She offered, gesturing towards a series of stainless steel cabinet doors imbedded in the wall. She didn't wait on him to answer. She moved to the wall, pressed the top corners of two of the lower cabinets; they immediately began to move out of the wall creating a bar. Here she stood and began making coffee using the materials stored in the bottom half of the cabinet. She wore the handset. The door to the lobby remained open. The security clearance key hung from her neck. He saw the swell of her breasts as she bent over to retrieve the decanter.

"Sure." He answered slowly. "I mean yes, thank you."

"Do you have a name Jedi?" She brazenly asked.

"Xanatos." He answered. "And you?"

"Tam." She smiled at him. Slowly he made his way closer to that side of the room. He stood nearby watching her prepare the beverage. Again, his mind went blank. He didn't know what to say even though he felt like saying everything.

"I saw you this morning. And yesterday, at the diner and in the street." He stated.

Tam poured coffee into two cups. Purposely not looking up at him.

"You don' t like Jedi very much, do you?"

She handed him his cup. He took it, their fingers brushed together slightly. She took a small sip, looking away from him as she answered.

"You guys sort of intimidate me, that's all." She glanced at him and smiled before walking toward the window. She could feel his eyes burning holes into her from behind.

She heard the rustle of his robes as he strode up alongside her.

"I guess sometimes…" He began slowly. "Sometimes we can come off as being pretty threatening; but we mean you no harm."

She nodded slowly. "Spoken like a true Jedi, I suppose." She turned and began walking toward the door. "Nice to meet you, Xanatos."

The door began sliding shut. Was that it? Was that all she could say to him?

"Wait!" He yelled almost spilling some of the liquid contents on his robes and the floor.

She turned, moving just short of the sensor controlling the opening and closing of the door.

"Yes?" She asked.

"I can prove it."
"Prove what?"

"I can prove we're not all just a bunch of bullies."

"How?" She asked, giving him a look that questioned his proclamation.

"Go out with me." He asked, hopeful and fearful. Just what was he doing exactly?

"A date?" She folded her arms and gave him a very pointed stare. "With a Jedi?" She continued.

"Yes."

Tam appeared thoughtful. He knew she was imagining what the two of them together would look like; he could see it in her facial expression, in her eyes. He couldn't let her say no. Should he? His mind, having just asked the question, answered of its own volition, in turn. Yes, he should. It wouldn't take much. Just a little, to make her see things his way. He approached her slowly.

"Come on, say, yes I will go out with you." He pushed the phrase from his mind releasing it through the Force, directing it to the mind of the beauty before him. Say it! He commanded. His eyes were intense, small amethysts of violet fire. Say it. Say yes.

He stood before her, closer than any stranger should be. Her eyes held his and once again, he became mesmerized by her beauty. Slowly he reached a hand, bringing it up to cup her face. Say yes, he silently commanded again.

"Okay." She answered.

"That's good enough for me." He replied, smiling, his trick having worked. "Tomorrow night? Meet me at the Gardens."

She nodded her head in response. "The Gardens." She repeated.

"Seven o'clock." He said.

"Seven o'clock." She repeated once again.

His eyes fell and he beheld as if for the first time the curvaceousness of her body. Slowly, he raised his other hand and rested it in the curve of her waist. He squeezed, bringing her small frame closer to his athletic form. He gazed into her eyes again, those almond-shaped orbs he'd only just envisioned. What was the connection? Why did the Force reveal this to him? Was the vision a manifestation of the Force or his own desire?

He couldn't decide; but there was one thing he knew for sure. He wanted her. A wave of heat washed over him. Before he could pull her closer and seal this deal with a kiss, a recognizable tinkling sounded in his brain. Master Qui-Gon. Reluctantly, he let her go, removing his hands from her face and body. Immediately he threw up his shields stronger than before. The double door in the other room cracked open. He heard the two voices of Qui and Tyler conversing softly. Using the Force, he ran to the window and assumed a pose similar to the one he held when Qui exited the room.

"Have her contact me when she is ready."

"I will."

Xanatos turned and approached his master. "Is everything well?"

Qui gave him a look, his eyes narrowing looking into the blushed face of his padawan.

"All is well. Let's go."

Xanatos held his shields in place. He glanced over to Tam, seeing her seated back at her desk. He felt the stare of his master. Immediately he began to concentrate on other things.

"What happened here, Xan. What did you do?"
"Nothing, master. She fixed me coffee. Would you like some before we go?"

Answering coolly he replied, "no thank you." Turning again to Tyler who stood in the doorway, he nodded farewell. Xanatos followed suit and did the same. He concentrated on the carpeted floor as he walked by her desk. He hoped his tricked worked; he couldn't wait to see her.

**********************************************************************

The line rang.

"Ti-Ahndi Enterprises, how may I direct your call?"

"Hey there, sunshine."

"Mumby?"

"Yup. You should know my voice by now, babe."

"Sorry about that." She felt her face flush. "How are you?"

"Fine. Thinking about you. I can't wait to see you tonight."

"Me, too." Grinning like an idiot, she crossed her legs and leaned back in her seat, rubbing her temples.

"You okay? You sound a bit, tired."

"Yeah, I am, actually. Have a bit of a headache and I don't know why." An hour ago, she sipped coffee from pot she'd made. Did she make it too strong?

"What are you doing for lunch?"

"Going to Grinot's with a friend." She replied, yawning as she answered.

"Who's the friend?" He asked quietly.

"Eve-6."

"Oh, yeah. I thought you meant someone else."

"Like a guy?" She teased.

"Well…yeah."

"You wouldn't like that very much would you, Mumby?" Grinning into the phone she waited on his response.

"Wait, I think you're trying to make me jealous. I'm not going to take the bait. You'll think I'm nutso if I do." He laughed softly into the phone.

"Spoil-sport. Of course, I'm teasing." By now, the pain in her head took a wrathful turn. "My head really hurts."

"You should leave work. Take a sick day."

"I don't know." She grumbled.

"I'll come pick you up. You can rest at my house and I can take you home later."

"I'm sure you won't mind me convalescing in your bed."

"Well, I was thinking more of the couch, but yeah, I'd like you in my bed."

Tam laughed and grew serious. This pain was unusual. She noticed a dull throbbing after those Jedi left. And had she really agreed to meet him on tomorrow night? She couldn't. She wouldn't. He was too young for her anyway.

"I think I'll take you up on it, Mumby. How soon will you be?"

"I can't get you, but I'll send Farnsworth, okay? Twenty minutes, tops."

"Thanks, again." Squeezing her legs together, she wondered at the real reason she accepted his offer. Was it time, so soon after only one date? Her body screamed yes, but only if this pain in her head let up.

"See you soon." He promised.

**********************************************************************

Hours later, Tam woke to the feel of a hand resting against the side of her face. She opened her eyes. With vision blurred from sleep, she shook her head, focused and saw his face.

"Hey, sleepyhead."

"Mumby?"

"Ah, man, first you don't recognize my voice when I call and now you don't know me in my own house." He joked.

"Sorry." Sitting up, she leaned forward and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

"What's that for?"

"It's for letting me stay here."

"How's the headache?"

"Gone." She smiled and resisted the urge to stretch her rested limbs. "I'm hungry."

"Good. So am I." He leaned forward, pulling her closer. His lips branded hers and together they kissed, hot and wet until all she heard was their erratic breathing and the sound of rain on the patio. Rain. Again? She pulled away and gazed into his eyes.

"Stay with me tonight." He said with a tone that was serious. His hand held onto hers and squeezed it for emphasis sake.

"I'd like that very much." She nodded. "I just don't want to rush things." She threw her legs over the side of the bed and glanced around looking for her shoes.

"You're going to make me beg." He admitted with a smile.

"No, no, no. Don't do that." Finding one boot she crossed her legs and slid it on without difficulty. Mumby found the other shoe and held it for her. She squeezed her foot inside and he slid the length of the boot upwards, his hand grazing her leg and thigh as it went.

"Please…" He begged while giving her thigh a quick squeeze. She shivered at his touch and resisted the urge to squeeze her legs together. If only his hand moved a little higher…

"Slow. We need to take it slow, okay?"

He groaned, releasing her thigh. He stood before her and held out his hand.

"I'll take you home."

She smiled, liking the gentleman in him even during times of such distress. Grasping his hand, she grabbed up her stuff from the bed. Together they walked into the spacious living room, where Mumby broke away to find the keycard to the air-speeder in the garage.

"Still hungry?"

"Yeah." She glanced her chrono. It read 8:30.

"How late do you work?"

"Depends."

"Depends? Depends on what?"

"Lots of things. Club stuff, you know." He turned giving her a wicked smile.

"You know, in the time we've spent together, well, I've spoken more about myself…I really don't know a lot about you Mumby."

"Well, I like hearing you talk." He walked toward her with the keycard in hand.

"Yeah. But you never really say much about yourself."

"What do you want to know?" He asked. She detected a small note of exasperation in his voice.

"Your clubs. How many do you own? What exactly do you do while there? How many of them are for 'adult entertainment'?"

He smiled big. Was she jealous?

"Come here." She walked the few steps to get to him. He pulled her close, wrapping both arms around her. Her hands flew up to encircle his neck. His lips planted soft kisses along her collarbone and shoulder. She moaned softly, hoping he didn't hear how his touch affected her so. Why not stay and do this? He wanted her so badly. She wanted him, too. The truth of the matter was she didn't know him well enough. She wanted to and until she did, until she could fully read him, she'd hold back her carnal desires while indulging in simple pleasures like the hug and sweet kisses he gave her now. If he were really interested, he would wait until she was ready.

"You want to come with me sometime?" He asked, breathing the words softly into her ear. She felt his hands travel the length of her back, threatening to dip even lower. "Hmmm?" His tongue ghosted the shell of her ear and this time she did moan loudly.

Mumby laughed at her reaction. He pulled back and gave her a look with a pouting expression.

"Stay with me, Tam." And then his hands traveled further south, gliding over round of her behind. Lightly, he gripped her there and pulled her closer to him. She felt the length of him as he pressed their lower bodies together. He took advantage of her surprise and leaned in for a kiss. His tongue and mouth sucked and licked; one hand traveled up to her neck holding her head captive from his assault. Tam almost collapsed; this was too much! She kissed him just as ferociously. He backed her against the back of the sofa and he continued to make sweet love to her mouth.

Finally they both came up for air. His breath came in ragged gasps as he held her body close to his.

"Please?" He asked again, pressing his forehead to hers. She wanted to, Gods how she wanted to. But not tonight.

"I can't." She shook her head. "Not just yet."

He seemed to know this would be her answer. He let go of her and walked away a few steps. "Alright. Just give me a second and then I'll take you home."

Had she pissed him off? She stood, straightening her clothes and looking around for where she set her bag. She definitely needed a smoke. She was trying to quit, but when the stress of life hit, she had a hard time dealing and smoking seemed to help.

"I'm going to wait outside." She motioned then backed away towards the door.

Mumby continued to pace, stopping every so often to adjust his pants leg.

"Poor baby." Was she wrong to do this to him? Standing under the covered entranceway, she lit a filter and watched as the rain coated the buildings of Coruscant. The view wasn't this magnificent along the lower levels. Even at night, the upper city glowed.

The door swished open behind her and she braced herself for his mood.

He stood next to her and drew the cigarette from her hand. He inhaled deeply and winked at her.

"You okay?"

"No. But I will be." He puffed on the filter again. "You're worth waiting for." He finished.

*********************************************************************

Tam and Mumby stood at her door. Kissing. This time, he had her pressed against the wall, legs apart with his lower body pressing suggestively against hers.

Invite him in, already. She thought to herself. He left her mouth trailing his tongue to her earlobe where he nibbled. It was when her leg came up to pull him in closer that she decided, yes, I have to let him in. I want him and I want to do this now. Too bad they'd left his flat. She didn't like people seeing where she lived.

"Mumby?" She groaned in his ear.

"Hmmm?" He planted soft bites along her neck, taking the skin in between his teeth, biting then sucking gently.

"Beg me again." She whispered harshly.

"Oh gods…" He moaned and ground himself against her. She tried to waylay his assault until she could find the keycard for her house in the bag on her shoulder. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

"There's just one thing."
"Huh?" He pulled back and stilled the movements of his body.

"Not here." She stated looking him in the eyes.

"Well, okay. Let's go inside."

"No Mumby. I want to go back to your place."

With a puzzled look on his face he replied, "but I just brought you home; through all that rain, no less. I…"

"Hush! You'll wake my neighbors!" She whispered. He was so cute when he was upset. "Let me grab some things. I'll stay with you tonight." She leaned back and looking into his face attempted to gauge his reaction. He smiled slowly, and then laughed.

"Oh, okay. You want me, huh?" He pulled her to him once again. "I'm so glad you said yes. I was getting tired of only kissing you."

She gave him a look.

"I mean, I like kissing you, don't get me wrong. I love it, I do. But I want more than that."

She smiled at his quick recovery. "I'll be right back." She pushed away from him, turned, slid the keycard through the lock and ducked inside. Before the door shut, he yelled to her, "you need some help?"

"No." She said from within. "Wait for me in the car. I'll be right out."

The door closed and she heard his steps as he descended the stairway. Giggling like a maniac she ran through her tiny flat, arriving at the small bedroom. She pulled out a couple of outfits for work tomorrow, unsure of which she would finally decide on. She remembered to grab some of her sexy undergarments and a couple of toys she kept in the back of the closet. Stuffing the items in an overnight bag, she finished, glanced her apartment to make sure everything was okay, and then turned on a stiletto heel into the hallway.

Stepping outside, the rain continued to pour. The night was dark with only the light from Mumby's aircar illuminating the small alleyway. She was careful to avoid puddles in the ground. Mumby popped the door for her and as she turned from lowering her things into the seat, she glanced the silhouette of a figure hovering outside the entrance of Old Man Tang's Chinese Restaurant. She squinted her eyes to see if she could recognize him; he was a man that she was sure of.

"Come on, babe. Too much rain's getting into the car."

"Sorry." She plopped down into the seat and the door maneuvered itself back into place. A soft hiss alerted of the airlock and cabin sealing itself off. Mumby reached for her hand, squeezed and let his rest on her leg as the car lifted into the air.

"I'm so glad you changed your mind."

She smiled to him, covering his hand with her own.

"Well, I couldn't do that to you."

"Do what?"

"Leave you with a terminal case of the blue balls."

He laughed heartily almost losing control of the vehicle. He reached to hit "automatic pilot" before any damage was done.

"Blue balls." He smiled, nodding at her diagnosis. Giving her a sly look, he reached her hand and began pulling it toward himself. "You know, it's not too late for it to set in…why don't you help me out on the way home."

She jerked her hand back. "If you can make it all the way over here then you can make it all the way back and be just as fine."

He pouted giving her a look that just made her feel so giddy inside. She leaned over and they kissed. They kissed all the way home, in the heavy rain, and never once she attempt to alleviate his ailment. That came later.

**********************************************************************

Xanatos stood in the shadows of the alleyway. Tam had departed with that man he saw her with at the Gardens. He stepped from underneath the overhang, letting the rain splat against his face. The droplets were large and stung with a razor's caress against his skin. Just what exactly was he doing here? For a minute he allowed himself to feel the foolishness of his ways. He was a Jedi. They took vows and oaths and committed to pledges. He was human and a man, after all, but why would he think she'd be okay with granting him what he wanted and leaving it at that? She was no common whore. Why did he even bother?

Slowly, he allowed this doubt to muddle away inside his brain. His robes were soaked from the few minutes of standing inside the heavy downpour. Qui-Gon would wonder where he went if he didn't hurry and get back. He turned and walked a short distance to where his speeder waited hovering in the dark. Had he planned to kidnap her? Why did he leave the car on? He laughed at the thought. Him, capable of kidnapping a woman for pleasure? That wasn't him. Or was it? Ever since he saw her for the first time he couldn't stop thinking of her, dreaming of her. It was madness, yes and the evidence of his constant arousal bordered on the absurd.

He hopped in and heard the squishing sound his wet robes made against the leather seats. He sat, staring at the illuminated display. She was supposed to meet him tomorrow night. Would she show? Had she recognized him in the alley? She'd turned and looked directly at him. What if she guessed it was he? Would she meet with him as planned? Would she keep to her end of the bargain at all? He sighed heavily as he activated the controls, feeling the car lift into the night sky. He programmed the flight back to the Temple, activating the autopilot mode. He sat back and closed his eyes against frustration. He let his hand wander deep inside the folds of his pants. He thought of her, reenacting the scene from earlier in the waiting room of Ti-Ahndi. He recalled sway of her hips as she walked to the coffee bar. He remembered the view of her breasts, as she bent to open the cabinet door. His hand began to stroke in earnest as he remembered the feel of her and her lips…how he'd wanted to taste her. He imagined taking her from behind, her ass in the air waiting to be plundered; or the feel of her as she sat atop his young lithe body and rode him into oblivion.

The console computer mistook a moan for a command. He had to shift his position using his free hand to reset the autopilot before crashing into a building. The Temple was in sight, just up ahead. He stared at the solemn structure feeling himself soften a bit. Looking at that place sucked at his libido and soon his hand no longer moved. He had to finish it or there'd be pain in the morning. He closed his eyes and concentrated once more. He thought of her again. He envisioned their meeting tomorrow at the Gardens. Would he take her there? Would he seduce her mind as well as her body? He concentrated intently, remembering her lips and the softness of her form. His hand worked faster and a slow heat began to spread throughout his belly. A tight curl of lust ebbed its way down through his groin, tingling his balls before piloting up through his engorged shaft. He came then, his moans following shortly after release. He breathed deeply as he continued to stroke the last waves of climax from his body.

The speeder parked itself inside the Jedi Temple hanger. It was programmed to do so. Xanatos sat in the speeder and rested his body for a moment. He felt awful, pining away for some woman he saw in a dream. He'd used a mind trick for his own selfish purposes. Just how far would he go next time? He removed his hand from his pants, careful to wipe the residue of his self-pleasuring on the inside of his pants. He hoped no one was up. Qui would be in bed, but not asleep. He motioned for the door to open. On shaky legs he walked toward the lift, boarded it and pressed the button for their floor. He felt like weeping. What does a Jedi do with a desire so fierce it burns like Coruscant's two bright suns? Qui would say, "meditate; purge this from your system. Seek guidance in the light". He wasn't so sure he wanted to get rid of it, of her; at least, not just yet.

**********************************************************************

"Leave them."

"But…"

"I'll send Farnsworth out to get them later."

"Okay…"

Tam stumbled alongside Mumby. He had her arm in a near death grip. Together they hurriedly walked the short distance to the front door of his flat.

"Mumby my arm, you can let go. I’m not going anywhere."

He turned and saw his hand gripping her upper arm. He practically yanked her from the car. He was so on edge; he didn't want to touch her too much until he could really touch her all the way.

As his aircar jetted on autopilot through Coruscant's night sky, they kissed and groped like teenagers. She made the mistake of touching him, just there. He groaned loudly, his hands moving to hers in an effort to make her stop. He would explode if he didn't get inside of her soon.

Realizing he hurt her, he let her go. She slumped away from him, rubbing her upper arm.

"I'm sorry." He mumbled in apology as he slid the keycard releasing the door.

He stepped back, allowing her through.

"It's okay." She smiled and turned making her way to his bedroom. He followed in close pursuit behind her. He was so tense, now. "Are you okay, Mumby?" She flashed him a seductive glance over her shoulder. Truly, she was concerned, but she wanted to play with him, too. She began to unbutton the jacket of her suit. He stood motionless in the door as he watched her. Turning away from him, she pulled the jacket down and tossed it on the floor. The blouse underneath followed suit and so did the skirt, until she stood almost naked in a pair of stiletto-heeled boots, her bra and panties.

"Goddamn, girl." He stared and moved toward the bed, stripping his jacket as he approached.

"Let me help you with that." She loosened the tie at his neck and slid it from around his throat. She tugged the buttons of his shirt open, planting soft kisses on his chest. He moaned and his hands flew up to her waist. He squeezed her tightly. They rose higher, undoing the clasp of her bra. She undressed him and he finished undressing her. Naked they both stood facing one another, their breath coming in heavy puffs. He reached out and ever so gently caressed her breast. She moaned in response and ease into him. His other hand trailed down to her behind; he kneaded the flesh there pressing her closer to him. She moved in, draping her arms about his neck and gave him a deep kiss. He returned it, their tongues battling for possession over the other.

She pulled back from the kiss as his hands painfully gripped her backside.

Tam moved him to the bed, reaching for his hand; he pulled her on top of him.

"F_ck." He groaned as he settled against her, his member completely erect, pressed in between her thighs. Her hands flew up to his shoulders, she gripped them preparing for his entry.

"Look, Tam, I just want to say that I' m sorry, in advance."

She gave him a confused look. "Sorry for what, Mumby?"

"This." He stated then entered her hard. He grabbed her hips, one hand snaking around to grasp at her ass; he lifted her making her body meet his thrusts.

Just why did he need to apologize? She wanted this, wanted to feel him inside her just as he was right now. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind as she concentrated on feeling him. Some extended foreplay would've been nice, but they were to hot for one another. There wasn't time. He was on the verge of exploding and she, imploding. Soon, sweat bathed both of their bodies. The bed creaked with his assault on her body. She ran her hands along his back, scraping her nails against the skin when his strokes moved her, just so. Her legs lifted higher and she tightened them around his waist, urging him deeper. Reaching behind her head she grabbed the headboard as Mumby continued to pummel away.

He began moaning, his face buried in her neck. She felt the soft moisture of his hairline and the warmth of his breath heated her skin. She arched herself against him, feeling her orgasm coming on. He followed suit leaning up from her, focusing all his energies on hammering against her core. Then she felt it, a deliciously slow coil of heat uncurl in the center of her being. The pleasure began to stretch its tendrils out, energizing every corner of her pelvis. The small lightning crawls emanated, causing a gush of warmth to flood her channel. Her muscles contracted in response, she saw stars explode and form again, behind closed eyes. She stilled her body against his movements and he continued to move inside her until his own little death consumed him.

On unsteady arms, he lifted himself off of her, falling to the bed alongside her. He panted, eyes closed, body yet reacting to the aftershocks of their little earthquake. She turned reaching a hand to his face, caressing his cheek.

"You okay?"

Slowly he opened his eyes and looked at her. Smiling, he nodded. She leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips. Sitting up, she looked around for the covers. Realizing they'd made love on top of them, she motioned for him to move while she pulled the coverlet back. Together they snuggled underneath, she turning away from him and he grasping her from behind, spoon style. Soon he was asleep. She could tell by the even measures of breath he took. She smiled, feeling this was a good place for her to be and a good time for her to be in, even so soon after their courtship. She fell asleep with a smile on her face and a sexy ass man embracing her from behind. Was it enough?

**********************************************************************

Xan tossed and turned in his sleep. The dream plagued him again. He saw his father, begging him for help then the transformation of his father into himself. He saw the floating eyes and knew they belonged to the girl, Tam. He heard her call his name. He saw his face scarred and the fury in his eyes was unparalleled as he stormed toward his attacker.

He started suddenly, sitting up in his small bed, body covered with sweat and flushed with fever. He paused to listen if Qui was around. He didn't want to explain his visions to his master just yet. They involved the girl; explaining away his lust for her would be too big of an embarrassment. The dreams also involved his father. Xan knew Qui didn’t like for him to speak of his family. Ever since Xan came of age, his father sent requests to the council, asking for his son to come home. War erupted on Telos; his father and family were in danger. He didn't know them, having been taken away as a child to the Temple by Qui Gon; but something in his father's endless requests called for him.

He lay back in the bed, rubbing his eyes. He didn't want to get up, just yet. His hand fell to his chest and he rubbed the naked skin there. He thought of his near blunder on last night. Having earlier in the day, searched the planet's database for her address, he'd committed her information to memory. She had only been on this planet for a year having only recently come from PluQwonn Moon. The databank did not list her home of origin, her birthplace. He would find out. But why was this so important to him? There had to be a connection with his dreams.

He plucked at the soft hairs trailing the flat plane of his stomach. Silently, he maneuvered his hands underneath the covers and the fabric of his sleep pants. He found himself standing at attention, but this was normal for morning. He listened for Qui Gon, but only heard the rain yet falling outside his window. He groaned and rose from the bed; he'd take care of himself in the shower. Walking to his desk, he reached behind the hutch to where he'd taped a picture of her from the Identification Archive Computer. He stared long and hard at the picture, committing her image to memory. This was sickness; still he shed his pants and trudged into the fresher.

**********************************************************************

Rain. How much longer would it continue? Tam lay in Mumby's bed alone. The chrono display read 05:45 a.m. She turned over onto her back and stretched her tired form. Twice more, they'd coupled. Each time was more intense than before.

She sat up and threw her legs over the side of the bed. Glancing around at the strewn articles of clothing on the floor, she located his shirt. She put it on and walked the length of plush-carpeted hallway down to the kitchen. She needed coffee. She rummaged through his cabinets, listening to the rain fall and patter against the patio outside. The low murmur of his voice on the telecomm trailed into the kitchen from his office on the other side of the living room.

She sat atop a bar stool, reaching for her discarded filters. She lit one and listened to the coffeemaker whirl and purr. She crossed her legs and noticed a trail of bruises on her thighs. Lifting the bottom of the shirt, she saw where they extended up to her hips and waist. Closing her eyes, she inventoried the rest of her body, feeling sore spots on her arms and shoulders and neck. Tomorrow would definitely be a turtleneck-wearing day.

They had not used protection. Somewhere, in the fog-layered haze of their feverish lovemaking she realized this. Not smart, Tam, not smart at all, she thought.

The buzzer sounded, indicating that the coffee was ready. She got up, walked to the counter and poured a cup of the strong, dark liquid. Vapor rose and she saw her reflection on the surface. She added sugar and cream, grabbed her filter and moved her breakfast party to the living area. She sat curling her legs underneath herself on the plush sofa facing a wall of windows.

Mumby continued to talk. To whom? She had no idea. He'd yet to really tell her anything about himself. With this thought, she stood and walked around the room searching for clues, photo albums, scrapbooks anything. Books lined the shelves along with various pieces of art. He liked to read and he appreciates art; chalk that up to "What I've Learned About the Man I'm Sleeping With" message board, she thought to herself.

She stood next to the window admiring the view. Coruscant had such an interesting skyline. And now, even during the early, early dawn, vehicles moved along invisible motorways like so many flying ants.

"Good morning."

She turned at the sound of his voice. She watched as he walked to the coffee machine and poured himself a cup. He wore navy cotton pajama bottoms and his hair lay in a mop of brown curls on top of his head.

"Hey." She replied while still leaning against the windows. He made his way to her with cup in hand. His smile was soft and the cherry color of his lips met hers in a brief kiss.

"I think you should stay here today." He said this, his eyes never leaving hers even as he brought the cup of hot java to his lips.

"I have to go to work, Mumby." She smiled and rolled her eyes at him. Her glance once again settled along the distant skyline. What's the name of that one building, she thought. Oh yes, it was the Temple of the Jedi.

"No, really, I think you should stay."

Jedi. She remembered the Jedi from her work. The Gardens at seven o'clock.

"Tam."

She shook her head and looked at him. "Yes?"

"I want you to stay with me."
What was he saying? Her mind kept pulling her back to the thoughts of the young Jedi and how she agreed to meet him tonight at the Gardens. Exactly why did she agree to this?

"Are you asking me to move in with you?"

"Yes." He smiled brightly. "And I'm asking you not to go to work today. Actually, I want you to quit."

"Mumby." She said, exasperation coating her voice. She pushed away from the wall and walked around him. Damn, was her stuff that good?

"You want me to quit my job and move in with you." She stared at him in disbelief.

"Yes." He smiled, running a hand through his crazy brown hair.

She extinguished her filter in the ashtray and moved to the kitchen. She heard him as he walked up behind her.

"So?" He prompted.

"Mumby, I don't want to quit my job." She sipped the remaining dregs from her cup, staring at the distorted reflection of both him and her through the cabinet surface. In the distance, the suns proceeded to rise and the flare of blinding light upon the Temple edifice became even more intense.

"And don't you think moving in together so soon is…well…too soon?" She turned on him and was met with a great expanse of chest. She didn't realize he was 'this' close to her.

"Nope." He smiled. "Come on, I like you, I want you…here, all the time." He set his drink down on the counter behind her then took hers from her shaking hand. He clasped her hand in between his own and kissed each finger. "Please? You can keep the job, just be with me."

She felt her stomach begin to do flips at the notion of this man so expressly expressing his want of her.

"Let me think about it okay?"

By now his hands grasped her waist and lifted her onto the counter.

"Don't make me wait too long." He said in between kisses along neck and the sides of her face, then her eyes and nose and lips. Already, he'd unbuttoned the shirt she wore and spread her legs, positioning his body between them. She raised her legs to meet him, preparing for yet another carnal assault. He moved his hands between them opening her and readying himself. It didn't take much; he always seemed to be ready.

She gasped aloud at the pressure of his entry inside of her. Nevertheless, she moaned aloud at each thrust. She rested her head on his shoulder, focusing on the view in the distance. Now what was it she silently berated herself about earlier? Oh yes, protection. How foolish she'd been again. No sense in stopping now. They were both on the verge, and she could feel him ready.

The light sparkled over Coruscant, the buildings glistening fresh and new after last night's rain. Her view fell on the Temple structure. The light seemed to gleam and pulse with each throb of pleasure. She gripped her legs tighter pulling him in deeper. She closed her eyes against it, against the bright light of morning, wanting to feel and see her own bright light; the one Mumby brought her to.

"Seven o'clock. At the Gardens." A voice whispered to her. She pushed the sound of it from her mind and focused on her climax. It whispered to her again, this time more insistent than the last. It continued, keeping time with Mumby's thrusts, swelling louder inside her brain, just as Mumby swelled larger inside of her. She gripped him tighter not wanting this phantom voice to interrupt her pleasure. She pressed down harder, used her muscles to grip him tighter, and felt the sliver of a pause before her orgasm came crashing down. Mumby followed, groaning loudly, his body sticky from sweat and the coffee he knocked over during this impromptu tryst.

Her legs slackened from around him. She forced her body to relax. She didn't think she could take much more; she needed some time off to recuperate.

"Let me down." She breathed.

He pulled out of her; she winced at the pain. Yeah, she needed a rest. He lifted her off the counter. She stood before him on wobbly legs. Turning, she walked rather unsteadily towards his bedroom. She heard him running water in the kitchen sink. A hot shower would do her body nicely, she concluded. Then she could catch the A-Train to Market Square then hop a cab to her job. Then tonight, she would go home, her home, and her apartment and really think about what she was doing with this man. Then she'd go to bed and sleep on it. No, no. She had to meet the Jedi, and then she could do all that other stuff.

She stripped his shirt from her body and stepped inside the large shower. She let the water hit her full blast on the face; felt it as it trickled down her sore body. She watched it as it swirled like a whirlpool around the drain. There were rivulets of blood inside the clear streams. Overall, she felt the urge to cry. Not from sadness, but joy. The arrival of her menses eliminated one thing from the unprotected sex she and Mumby had. Yeah, she would definitely spend tonight alone at her home, but after she saw the Jedi.

*********************************************************************

There is something unnatural about the hiss and crackle of a Jedi's lightsaber. Lightning writhing in ecstasy, captured in inside invisible walls and when those walls collide, when two or more sabers crash together in a flux of cacophonous energy, it borders on perversion. Pervasion. Xanatos almost laughed aloud. He lifted his saber blocking yet another strike from fellow padawan, Arkos. They'd sparred for much of the morning. After breakfast in the dining hall, he felt in need of a good workout.

"That makes two, Xan."

"You mean you're keeping count? Why, Arkos? You're losing!" He laughed at the boy as they both deactivated their lightsabers.

"No, that's not what I'm keeping track of. You broke form. Twice. You might've beat me, but your method was sloppy."

Xanatos thought about this for a moment.

"But I still beat you." He smiled deviously.

"Yes, I admit you did."

"Good. Now shut up talking about this." He activated his lightsaber and moved into position waiting on the boy to take his place so they could spar again.

"I'm done Xan. I have class in thirty minutes."

"One more, come on." He taunted. He had a theory class coming up, but in anticipation of tonight, he decided to skip it. This workout was good for him; he wanted to be loose. He'd been wound tight for too long now. Arkos walked away from him shaking his head. Xanatos was left holding his saber in attack position. Deactivating his saber, he attached it to his belt. He grabbed up his outer robes and headed down the hall to the lift. He'd been successful in avoiding Qui-Gon. His master had already left for an early Council meeting by the time he woke this morning. Now, he needed only to avoid him during supper so that he might slip away to the Gardens.

"Xanatos." A voice called from behind him.

F_ck, he muttered to himself. Not her again.

"What are you doing?" Quaylan asked.

"Shower." He gestured toward his sweat-filled uniform.

"Oh." She lowered her eyes and looked away. They were quiet for a moment. He grew impatient with her standing there.

"I have to go." He said turning and continuing down the corridor.

"Okay. Talk to you soon."

He barely registered her goodbye. She annoyed him. He could see she liked him, but he wanted nothing to do with her. Even before the dreams, before seeing Tam, he couldn't fathom anything more but friendship between them. Besides, she was a few years younger and he just wasn't interested.

But she wasn't the only one. Xanatos knew he was a handsome young man, but he was uncomfortable with people always calling him on it. It'd been this way since he hit puberty; both guys and girls and certain other species alike flirted with him making their desire known. He did not like all of the attention. He stuck to his room or to his Master, Qui-Gon in an effort to stay away from the fawning droves of worshippers.

His mouth, quirked into a smile, as he thought of this. Worshippers. It would be nice having a mass of followers willing to do whatever he commanded. It'd be even better if they all looked like her. He sighed loudly inside the empty lift. Always his thoughts came back to her. Just the thought of her stirred emotions and other things inside his mind and body. He would not give in, not yet. He needed to be as strong as possible for tonight. He had to exorcise her out of his system some kind of way. He'd make her submit to him. His mind trick seemed to work once; it would work again, provided she showed. Earlier, before his sparring session, he sat alone in his quarters and meditated. Silently, he called to her through the Force, reminding her of where she needed to be and when.

He could only hope it worked. Walking the length of corridor to their rooms, he picked up on a trace of his Master. Ahhh, so Qui-Gon was home this time. Good, he'd just say he had class and planned to see him later at supper. Then he wouldn't show up at all. Either way, he could still get to the Gardens undeterred.

He pressed the button to open the door. Qui-Gon stood in the middle of their open area, standing with his arms crossed and legs apart. His expression was expectant as he looked on to his padawan.

"Xanatos. You're back early."

"Yes." He answered. "I have class in twenty minutes…I needed a shower." Again he gestured and began to strip the shirt off of his body.

"I have something to ask you."

"Yes, master?"

"Is there anything…anything you'd like to tell me?"

Xanatos thought about this for a minute. Just what was he getting at? Maybe he thinks I want to go to my father. I do, he thought, but that's not currently what's on my mind.

"No. I'm fine, master."

Qui-Gon nodded slowly and proceeded. "Is there someone in particular you're having problems with? A significant other perhaps?"

Immediately he threw up his shields. He didn't want to have to explain all of this to Qui-Gon just yet.

"What are you talking about?"

"A woman, Xan. Who's this? I found it on your desk."

"What were you doing in my room?" He asked, feeling the anger began to bubble up inside of him.

Qui-Gon held up a hand, motioning him to calm himself.

"I took your laundry inside and glanced the picture on the desk on my way out. She's the girl from the diner, isn't she?"

Xanatos didn't know what to say or how to explain himself. He wasn't ready to talk about this yet!

"Yes, she is."

"And the girl from the diner is the same girl from the shipping company, correct?"

"Yes." He lowered his head, not daring to look in his master's eye. So what, he had a picture of a girl, was that not normal of any nineteen year old boy?

"Have you been seeing her?"

"No." He answered quickly and truthfully.

"Good." Qui replied. "You know the rules about attachment, Xan. I suggest you get rid of this picture and put her out of your mind altogether." He waited on a response. Xanatos only stood quietly staring at the floor, looking there and everywhere but in the face of his master.

"I just want to see her, that's all…for…you know." He countered, hoping Qui would understand at least this.

"Is she a streetwalker, Xan? Is she in that line of business? You insult her, if she is not and that is NOT the Jedi way." Qui-Gon waited on a response. Again, Xanatos could do nothing. "Is she attached to someone?"

A flicker of recognition lit across Xanatos's face.

"Ahhh, so she has someone and yet you pursue her anyway. That's dangerous, Xan. Dangerous and stupid. Let go of this fascination, you are a Jedi for Christ's sake!" ß-LOLOOL HAD TO PUT THAT IN THERE LOL…I'LL TAKE IT OUT IT, but it MADE ME LAUGH so I wanted to share the joy LOL.

Xanatos didn't want to say more. He couldn't. He couldn't tell his master about the dreams of his father, the girl and his future self.

"Just…just let it go. Trust me, you'll be better off." Qui-Gon laid a hand on Xanatos's shoulder and gave him a brusque squeeze. "I have a Council meeting. I will see you after supper tonight and we can talk more on this, if you like."

"Yes, master." He answered solemnly, risking a glance at Qui and giving him a quick smile for reassurance.

Qui-Gon smiled in return. "Very well, then. Enjoy your theory class." He released his shoulder and made his way to the door. Xanatos waited on the sound of the door closing. He clinched his fists in an effort to maintain some control over his emotions. Maybe he was taking this fascination too far. No, no, no, no. This was all the doing of the Force. Those dreams were Force-induced, not just lust-inspired. He had to get a hold on things. Tonight, he concluded. After tonight, he would let her go. Maybe his dreams would change and maybe the Force would show him something new. But not before he shagged her rotten under Coruscant's moonlit sky. If there were one thing to be accomplished this night it would be the sowing of his oats. He had to have her, be she a streetwalker or no. If it came down to it, he'd talk her into spreading her legs wide for a Jedi-surprise. He smiled. His thoughts could be so delicious sometimes.

Chapter 3

"Yes, Tyler, I'll have them ready in the morning." Tam stuffed a couple of plasti-printsheets into her bag. "Okay, Tyler. Goodbye." She clicked her headset to OFF, then pulled the contraption off completely. She had been so busy she didn't notice the onslaught of showers beginning to pour down outside. Well, it is the rainy season afterall, she concluded.

She donned a black raincoat and walk the length of carpet to the exit. She prayed silently that she'd have no trouble hailing a cab in this weather. No such luck. This side of the warehouse district was as dead as a cemetery. She'd have to walk the six blocks up to Market Square getting to a cab.

The door swished open behind her. She turned and spied Tyler, looking as on edge as ever locking the facility for the evening. He caught her stare. She knew he had a car; surely he could give her a ride.

"Tyler!" She yelled over the drumming rain.

He turned and motioned her back to the entrance.

"Can you give me a ride?"

"I've got a meeting. Where are you headed?"

She thought about this. Home is where she wanted to go, but she lived many levels down and on the other side of the city.

"The Gardens." She replied. Surely, she could catch a cab from there.

"I can take you to the Gardens. Wait here, I'll come back and pick you up."

"Thanks so much." She resisted the urge to bear-hug him and kiss him. She did not look forward to walking so far in these shoes.

Minutes later a luxury aircar pulled up along the curb. The door lifted and she got in. Not much was said during the ride to the Gardens. Tyler seemed extremely preoccupied. His hands shook and glanced furtively back and forth from her to the console to the window to his fingernail.

"Are you alright, Tyler?"

It took him a moment before he could answer. "Yeah, I'm fine."

"You seem nervous. It must be a big meeting, huh?" He ignored her for a moment. She glanced out the window figuring two could play that game.

"The Gardens." He said.

"What?"

"The Gardens. We're here." He lowered the car to the second level entry. She maneuvered the door open and murmured a soft thank you before departing. The rain had let up somewhat. She walked along the sidewalk, dodging pedestrians and looking for an open spot to hail a cab. It seemed she'd been spending a lot of time here lately. The Gardens, she thought. Why did it sound so familiar to her?

She raised her hand and motioned for a cab. One drew up near to her along the curb. Gods, how she wanted to get out of these shoes, she thought. She slid into the backseat and gave the droid directions on where to take her.

"…Level 37 and can you get me there safe please?" The droid murmured an affirmative.

"Thank you." She replied.

The door began to close, when all of a sudden a hand caught it. Tam had taken her shoe off and commenced to rubbing her feet. The catch on the door startled her; she turned to see who held it.

"May I ride with you?" A voice asked.

She turned and saw the young Jedi from her job. His hood rested heavy in its halo around his face. He must've been standing in the rain for some time, she thought.

"You want to share my cab?" She asked.

He hopped inside, sliding next to her. His violet irises were upon her the whole time.

"Share your cab? Sure."

"Okay, then." She motioned for the driver to continue. Sliding her boot back onto her foot caused her to remember. She turned and met the purple stare. "I'm sorry, Xanatos, is it?"

He gave her a smile that both answered her and unnerved her.

"We were supposed to meet. I saw you arrive only to get picked up again by a cab. Did you intend to stand me up?"

From the corner of her eye, she watched him watching her.

"I showed, didn’t I?" She answered, wary of his response.

"But you didn’t wait very long, did you." He snaked an arm behind her and with the other hand, pulled back the hood of his cloak. "It’s okay though. I just wanted to talk to you." She felt him leaning back into the seat staring intently at her.

"Do I make you nervous, Tam Wild?"

She turned and gave him a hard look. What was the purpose in all of this? "Xanatos, look. Maybe this wasn’t a great idea. I can’t even remember why we

were to meet in the first place."

He smiled.
"You have nice skin." He was staring. Tam could feel herself becoming very angry with this one. "Where are you from?" He asked.

She couldn’t get a handle on him. One minute he stared at her like a starstruck fan, the next minute his actions were meant to frighten her and now, now he’s expressing interest in her origins. Were all Jedi this schizophrenic?

"PluQwonn." She answered tersely. "Hey driver, do you think you could go faster? I really need to get out of this cab."

"No you’re not." He smiled wildly. "Before then, where did you live?"

"Xanatos. This is a very odd conversation and I really do not wish to continue with it. Where I’m from is none of your business." Was this kid an idiot or what?

He slowed his smile and stared hard at her. "I’m not an idiot. I just happen to be very enamored of you."

Tam turned, focusing her gaze outside the cab. She didn’t want him to see her roll her eyes in her head. Not this again, she thought.

"I’ve had dreams about you."

"Cabbie, can you please pull the car over?"

The droid beeped an affirmative and the car began to decelerate and lower itself.

"Nevermind driver, continue with your destination." He instructed.

Tam began to protest.

"Tam, I like you and I want to spend time with you. I have some questions and I need answers…among other things." His hand moved to her shoulder, pulling her closer to him. He smelled of rain and a young man’s musk.

"I have a man, alright? I’m not interested in dating Jedi." She lifted his hand and moved it from around her shoulder, settling it into his lap.

Xanatos seemed to consider this rebuff. He was right before. He would have to use the mind trick. He turned to her and listened to her thoughts. She thought him to be a complete buffoon, but he could change that. She thought of "her man" and images of their recent escapades came to her mind.

"Who said anything about dating?" He smiled, one hand moving up to touch her knee.

She stared at his hand. Now how is it that one defeats a Jedi? Oh yeah, they’re undefeatable. "Xanatos…"

"Call me Xan."

"Xan. Please remove your hand." Together their eyes were caught in a standoff. His hand continued to rest on her knee. It was warm and as they continued to gaze at one another, it grew warmer. Soon, she felt the warmth begin to move up her leg. It settled somewhere in her belly and threatened to go lower. She gasped in response.

"Where are you from? Originally?" He asked again, eyes still holding hers, hand now gently squeezing her thigh.

"T-T-Telos…" She stammered. Just what in Coruscant’s two moons was he doing to her?

"Heat therapy. You seem a bit…tense." He responded with a smirk on his face.

"I could do more if you want me to." He offered.

"That won’t be necessary." He had her. Just what was it about his eyes and his touch? Damn those Jedi and their stupid mind control. Mind control? Sh_t. Immediately she focused on something else, pulling her thoughts and mind from his grasp.

"Xanatos. Let me go."

"Can I see you again? Tomorrow."

"No. I’m afraid that won’t be possible." His eyes held hers again. What a magnificent color his were.

"How come?" He asked softly.

"I’m busy and I have a friend…there’s someone I’m seeing."

He was thoughtful, looking away for a second as the cab lowered to the bottom level. He turned to her again and found her still curiously regarding him. She had that look on her face; the look one gives another when he or she is about to dump them. He wouldn’t let that happen. He knew he scared her approaching her like this, but desperation leaves little room for perfection.

His hand yet rested on her knee. He sent a warm surge of energy through her body again. She practically slumped over from the onslaught. All she could envision was her bed and being curled up inside it. She didn’t feel his hand move higher or see him move in closer.

"Could you see me too?" He asked, his face just a hair’s breath away from her own. His eyes were like broken shards of amethyst; she found she didn’t want to look away from them. They were so different unlike her own hazel orbs or Mumby’s chocolate brown ones.

His hand moved to her stomach as he waited on her response.

"Could I see you too? What?" She asked still caught up in his eyes and the feel of his hand as it pressed against her lower abdomen.

"Yes." He whispered. There was a hint of desperation in his voice. He sent another surge of warmth through her body; his palm breathed fire and it soothed the menstrual cramps and bloating she’d been experiencing all day. Well, I guess if he can do that, he’s worth keeping around for a bit. She laughed to herself wondering at her own reasoning.

She couldn’t respond to him at least not verbally. Something seemed to whisper in her mind, "kiss him", so she leaned forward and connected her lips with his. They were cool and velvety. She moved to pull away, but a hand caught her at the back of the neck and the voice whispered, "again". She leaned in again and this time his mouth became the aggressor; he attacked and plundered scraping her rough tongue with his own.

His hand threatened to move lower, but he held it firm. He sensed her cycle; it would get in the way of being with her and he had to do that as soon as possible. He had to change the dreams, figure them out. The Force-energy he sent through her body was meant to flush the egg from her ovaries, to hurry the cycle. What would normally take five days would now only take a night to complete. This way, she’d be ready for him on tomorrow.

She tasted good. Even after a long day at work and several filters, for she smoked, he was still able to taste the essence of her. It only made him want her even more. He pulled back from the kiss and allowed her to catch her breath. She leaned back in the seat breathing hard and looking upon him. She thought him beautiful, despite his unusual ways. She loved his eyes; this he read from her thoughts. He leaned down and pulled her blouse up from her belly. With cool lips he kissed the underside of her stomach; just below the navel. She grabbed his head to move him away, ashamed of letting herself go so far with this young stranger. He stayed his hand against her skin and sent one more gush of energy throughout her body. It rendered her weak, too weak to move, to walk. He instructed the cabbie to wait on him as he got out of the vehicle and lifted her in his arms. Using the Force, he opened the door to her building and climbed the stairs to her flat. Walking her inside, he headed for the bedroom and laid her down on the bed, pulling her shoes and clothes off.

Meanwhile, she could do nothing but gaze at him. Was he right in doing this to her? Paralyzing her and practically aborting whatever was forming inside her womb? Or extinguishing the egg too soon? Gods he was a monster afterall, but he had to find out. She said she was from Telos; instantly he received images of his homeworld and they seemed familiar to him although he was very young after he was taken from there. He knew there to be a connection. Something that would place this beautiful stranger in his thoughts.

"You’re going to be too sick to work tomorrow. You will lie here and rest and not receive any calls from any one except me. I’ll stop by this time tomorrow. Be ready for me, okay?"

Tam nodded her head. Just what in the hell had this bastard done to her? F_ck his eyes and his healing hands, this was madness at work. Didn’t the Jedi know they had a loose cannon on the prowl?

He leaned down to kiss her. She lay in her underwear unable to move very much.

"It will wear off." He assured her. With this he turned and left. She heard the door close and lock and then shortly afterwards, she heard the aircab lift into the sky.

"Be ready for me." A voice whispered again.

She vowed that as soon as her tired limbs could get to a phone she would call Mumby. F_cking Jedi freaks. Why her? Just because she was from Telos? Thousands of citizens were from Telos. She closed her eyes and allowed sleep to overcome her. In the morning she would call in to work as he’d instructed and she wouldn’t take any calls from anyone other than him. But she would damn sure call Mumby. Hell, she even thought about taking him up on his offer; anything to get her away from sicko-cleric boy. She let the sound of the rain lull her to sleep.

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Xanatos had the cabbie drop him off along the backside of the Gardens. He didn’t want to enter the Temple just yet. He needed a moment to cool down and evaluate what dirty tricks he’d just played on the girl Tam. She admitted to being from Telos; perhaps he should visit the Temple Archive to find out as much as he could about his homeworld.

"Xan!" A voice yelled from the distance. He turned and spied the girl, Quaylan. Not her again, he thought. He lifted a hand in greeting, hoping that this acknowledgement would suffice; he wanted to be alone.

"Xan!" She yelled again, while crossing the pavilion to him.

"Hi, Quaylan." He offered. He flexed his fingers, tightening his fists.

"Hey, where have you been?"

"Out." He replied, his gaze focusing on the patch of wildflowers to his right. There was a thistle nestling there amongst the blooms. Thistles were weeds even with a bloom.

"Oh." She replied quietly. "We missed you at dinner." She offered while following his gaze to the flowerbed.

"I'm sorry. I didn't feel like eating dining hall food." He reached a hand inside the bed, letting his fingers graze over the surface of earth there.

"So where did you eat?" She asked, happy to have this moment with him.

"Hmmm?" His hand searched for the base of the thistle.

"Where did you eat? Outside of the Academy?"

"Actually, Quaylan, I didn't eat anything at all." Why was this girl going on and on about his eating habits? His hand grasped at the base of the thistle. It pricked his skin. These flowers were so beautiful; he had to get this weed out of their midst. It didn't set right with him.

"Oh." She stood watching him. "What are you doing there, Xanatos?"

"There's a weed…" He grasped the thistle. The thorns pricked him inside the palm of his hand. He lifted the weed and stared at it.

"How do you know it's a weed? It has a flower."

"Well, some flowers don't always belong…" He opened his palm, releasing the thistle. It fell to the ground covered in blood.

"Your bleeding, Xan!"

"Yeah, I see…I gotta go." Leaving her alone, he walked back to the Temple, staring at his bloodied hand the whole time. On the lift, he wiped his hands on his robes, noting the similarity in color. His mind flashed to images from his dream and then he remembered what he had done to her, with the same hand.

The doors opened and he made his way down the hall. He placed both of his palms together and squeezed, admiring the reemerging crimson color and the tingling sensations of pain. He motioned the door open, stepped through and continued into his room. He stripped down. Qui wasn't home and it was just as well; he wanted to be alone.

He turned the lights off, got in bed and reached for the telecomm. He had memorized her number; his unit dialed her line and the device rang and rang. Eventually she picked up.

"Hello?" Her voice was thick with sleep. He'd really put her down and to this, he smiled.

"Good girl."

"What?"

"How do you feel?" He asked, his hand straying further down his body.

"Who is this?"

"You know who I am."

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he wondered, why was he doing this to her and to himself? But when his bloodied hand wrapped around his shaft and commenced to stroke, he knew the answer.

"What the f_ck did you do to me, Jedi? I can't move."

"I know…" He answered, jerking on his staff. He envisioned her in his bed immobile, unable to stop him from having her however he wanted.

"I'll report you, you asshole."

He grinned; closing his eyes and feeling the pleasure begin to rise. "You won't say a word." His strokes increased. He liked listening to her voice. "Keep talking to me." He instructed, the command coming in panting gasps.

"I'm going to hang up the phone now."

"No…no you will not…"

He could hear her deciding what to do.

"Do you know what I want to do to you?" He asked. He glanced down at himself. His hand worked vigorously pulling and stretching; the remaining traces of blood stained his member red. He heard a sharp intake of breath; he almost burst out laughing at her response. Did he frighten her still? Even without his hold over her mind, would she fear him?

"I can't see you tomorrow, Xanatos." He could feel her frustration; she wanted to hang up the line, but something made her stay connected with him. Her words were useless. He had her, no matter what she said. His abilities were more than he suspected to be afterall.

"Yes, you will." He breathed. He felt himself getting closer. "I'll meet you at your place. Don’t try to stand me up again."

She was quiet. He wondered if she suspected what he was doing to himself. He increased his pace.

"Say something…" He commanded.

"What do you want me to say?"

"Say you want me…" He was so close. "Say it!" He almost yelled through the line.

"I, I want you, Xan." He imagined her, at this moment, down on her knees before him, saying this.

"Again." He groaned, feeling himself ready to pop. His hips lifted off of the bed as he stroked faster and harder. The stinging sensation in his hand transferred itself to his length; and that length swelled inside his hand and stretched fully.

"I want you," she said quietly into the line.

This was his undoing. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, his back arched to the point of breaking. The lust seemed to draw from every corner of his body, it gathered there and erupted. He came in repeated bursts of pleasure that seemed to loll over his spasming form. His hand continued to work; he'd groaned loudly, surely she knew what he did by now.

"Let me go, Xan." Her voice was yet muggy with sleep.

"Not yet…" He replied voice ragged from exertion.

"This isn't right what you're doing…I'll take it to the Council, if I have to." She offered feebly.

He laughed into the line, while continuing to stroke the last ebbs of pleasure from his body. My, my, my what an awful mess he'd made.

"You'll do nothing." He grew serious. "I have to figure all of this out first…"

"I'm tired." Her voice was barely audible.

"I will see you tomorrow." He spoke into the line.

"Yes…" She replied.

He disconnected the line. He was too tired for a shower; he would wait for the morning before washing up. He turned over in the bed and drew the covers up. He relaxed, awaiting the kind of sleep that brought dreams, dreams of himself in the years to come, dreams of the girl his black heart lusted for and dreams for a father he'd never known.

*********************************************************************

The next morning, Tam woke in a pool of blood. Most of it dried leaving sticky residue on her sheets and her legs. She quelled the urge to scream aloud, and then she remembered her period and how it came on the previous morning as if with a vengeance. Slowly she lifted her tired limbs, throwing her legs over the side of the bed and grabbed the side table for support. The sheets stuck to her legs causing her to look once again at the mess she'd made. That's an unusual amount of blood, she thought.

Then it hit her.

She reeled from the memory. Grasping harder to the table she used one hand to disengage the sheet from her thighs. She reached to the waistband of her undergarments and pulled the soiled fabric down and away from her body. Finding the strength to stand on her own, she the undershirt she wore over her head. She felt herself on the verge of tears. How dare he do that to her! Whatever it was he did, he would most certainly pay for it.

But even as she plotted her revenge, she felt her efforts to be futile. What could possibly do against a Jedi? She couldn't tell Mumby, what would he do? Oh, Mumby, she groaned. She hobbled back to her bedroom and found the telecomm she'd earlier thrown on the floor. Seven times. He'd called her seven times already. F_ck.

She dialed the number to her job and left a message with the night watchman. She wouldn't be in today. She glanced the rumpled bedcovers on the floor. She'd have to burn them. She stood and looked at the spot she sat in. No fresh blood. As she stepped into the shower, she dialed Mumby's line.

"Yeah." He answered.

"Mumby."

"Tam?"

"Yeah, it's me."

"Are you okay?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes."

"Physically okay?"

"Yes, I am." She lied.

"Good." He was quiet for a moment. "So…where the hell have you been? Why haven't you answered my calls?"

She couldn't help but to smile. He yelled, but there was a touch of longing in his voice.

"I've been sick, babe."

"I've missed you. I almost sent Farnsworth out to find you."

"Well, Coruscant is a big city…I don't know if Farnsworth is up to that kind of challenge."

"Probably not." He agreed. "I have to see you. Now."

"Now's not a good time."

"Well, tonight? Let me take you out. We'll go to the Solarium. It's my best club."

"Okay." She grinned like an idiot.

"I'll send Farny-boy to get you around six, okay?"

"Okay." Still grinning.

They were both quiet for a minute. "I miss you, girl." He stated breaking the silence.

"I know." She couldn't stop smiling. "I'll see you tonight."

"Wait. I'm going to send him over early. I've got a present for you."

"Okay."

"Alright then."

"Goodbye, Mumby."

The showerhead continued to hit her sore body. She lathered up and washed every inch. She watched again as the water pooled its way down. The dried blood gathered in clots and threatened to clog the drain. She used her toe to push the flecks out of the way. Gross. Abnormal? Was it too much blood for that? It'd only been one day since they were together. Without protection. She rolled her eyes remembering how foolish they'd been. Tonight, she would be more prepared.

**********************************************************************

Xanatos sat at the table and watched silently as Qui-Gon prepared lunch. He’d finished his classes early today, intent on biding his time until tonight when he planned to sneak out of the Temple again. He was surprised to find his master in their quarters; he usually had meetings this time of day. He was also nervous, sensing that perhaps Qui detected his plans for the evening.

"We have another mission tonight." Qui informed him with his back turned away from Xanatos.

"Oh?" Xanatos attempted surprise.

Qui turned, raising his eyebrows at his young apprentice’s reaction. He nodded in response then continued, "It’s not too far from home. There’s a club called Solarium where we must go and meet with these fellows again."

Xanatos concentrated on keeping his disappointment from showing. He wanted tonight to be the night he and the girl came together. He had waited too long. Earlier in the day, he utilized the galaxy archives in the library searching for every piece of information concerning his home planet. What he found surprised even him.

"Oh, really. I hope this brings us closer to figuring out this plot, master."

"I believe it will."

Qui-Gon turned and presented Xanatos with a bowl of stew. He retrieved his own and sat opposite young Xanatos at the table.

"Have you thought any more on what we discussed yesterday?"

"What do you mean, master?" He asked innocently, using this moment to shove a hot spoonful of the substance down his throat.

"Your fascination with this girl. I do hope it’s come to an end."

Should I tell him now, or wait until later? Later. Yes, later will do nicely.

"It’s ending." He nodded. "You don’t have to worry about me anymore; it was just a stupid fantasy, that’s all."

"Very good, Xan. Now is the time you should focus solely on your studies. I foresee you becoming a great Jedi Master someday."

Xanatos gave his old master a smile. He recognized the sincerity in the statement and appreciated it. He felt the slightest twinge of guilt for not being as honest in their relationship as he should be. If Qui knew of his latest antics, he’d disown him as a pupil and this was more the reason why he should never find out.

"So, this club…" He began, interested in the mission more so than earlier after his master’s boost of confidence in him.

"Yes, similar to the other one but without all the levels and labyrinths. It seems this group likes to move around a lot."

Xan agreed. "Yes, it seems a good way to avoid suspicion."

"Exactly."

Xan nodded in agreement and together they ate in companionable silence, until Qui-Gon interrupted.

"There’s one other thing."

"Yes?"

"Our Jedi attire will not be required." Xanatos raised his eyes in surprise. "We will wear civilian clothing."

"Yes! That makes the mission a lot more appealing already, master." He smiled.

"I knew you would be pleased. Now finish up. We won’t be taking our sabers either, as tonight we will be of the non-Jedi persuasion."

Xanatos finished eating. He was excited. He didn’t mind dressing up. Maybe afterwards, he could sneak out and meet with Tam. Wouldn’t she be surprised to see him in something other than his robes. He grinned at the thought.

 

"I’ll be out in a minute."

"Very well, madame. I will wait for you at the car."

Had she room enough inside her tiny apartment; she would’ve done a couple of cartwheels. But as it were, she jumped up and down clutching the gold satin dress to her chest. A Mizrahi cocktail dress! This would’ve cost her a month’s earnings were she to buy it on her own. But Mumby, she shook her head in satisfied disbelief, Mumby bought this for her to wear to ‘his’ club tonight. He was definitely a keeper.

Earlier, she washed her hair and pulled the thick tresses back into a chunky ponytail. She loved wearing her hair back because it accentuated the better attributes of her face. She settled on a black sleeveless pantsuit with flowing fabric and skimpy three-inch heels. Now that Farnsworth had delivered this gift from Mumby, she would change only her shoes.

She stood in front of the mirror and carefully lifted the pantsuit top from her body not wanting to disturb her makeup and hair. She pulled the pants down and proceeded to lift the short gold shift down over her body. The top was sleeveless, cut very low in the front and billowed, tapering to the hips where a few inches of fabric ended just barely covering her thighs. She found a gold pair of sandaled pumps in the closet and slid them on. With so much leg exposed, she opted for scented body oil. Thank the gods she remembered to shave her legs. She had to admit, Mumby had good taste. She was truly a vision as she stood inspecting the woman in the mirror. A sly smile curved her lips; she might have to give him some tonight for this, maybe while wearing the dress and heels. She laughed at the thought, grabbed her clutch and keycard and proceeded downstairs to where Farnsworth waited.

They arrived at the club just around dusk. The limo dropped her off at the side entrance. She knocked on the door hoping Mumby was on the other side. She was disappointed to find that he wasn’t. A large bouncer by the name of Turk took her name and escorted her inside. The club was huge. Bars lined the four walls. Tables were set up throughout. A large dance floor sat in the middle. There were mirrors and light everywhere. The DJ booth sat in the center of the floor, elevated upwards. There were lamps and spotlights and what appeared to be swings hanging from the tall ceiling. The décor of the place was soft and plush; the furniture and carpeted areas were covered in white and other neutral tones. In each corner, there stood enclosed rooms with glass/mirrored walls. This is where Turk led her.

He knocked on the mirrored door before sliding it back. He stepped to the side and allowed her to go through. Plush couches lined the wall; a large mirror covered table sat in the center. Blue neon gave the room an alien ambiance. She searched in the scant light for Mumby, assuming he’d be here. A figure rose up from bending over the table, exhaling a plume of smoke. She waited for him to look her way. Others did the same thing; a skinny blonde woman sat next to him. She was just a little too close for comfort. Tam cleared her throat and they all looked up.

"Tam! Baby!" Mumby rose stepping over the blonde twit. He approached her and she smelled the smoke upon him. He grabbed her hand and stood back, examining the masterpiece he’d help to create. "You look…fabulous." He beheld her, eyes roaming up and down then settling on her legs. He pulled her to him; one hand grabbed her ass while the other settled her arm around his waist. He leaned in to kiss her and she responded hesitantly, aware of the pointed stares she received from both guy and girl alike.

"Goddamn, you look good girl. Doesn’t she look hot?" He turned and gestured to her. His friends agreed. She almost laughed. The guys’ heads bobbed up and down and reminded her of a child’s toy, while the girls gave her a look that could melt bricks. Mumby, in his drunken haze made introductions. She only remembered the name of the bouncer who escorted her to this room. The rest of these fools were too high; she figured at some point she would be re-introduced to them.

"Alright, everybody out, back to work. I wanna be alone with my girl." He pulled her to him again. She gave him a look that said, "my girl?"

"You are my girl, right?"

She nodded, not sure how to respond, but liking the sound of it. The other folks left the room and the door slid shut. The front wall was made entirely of glass. They had a perfect view of the lay of the club. She sat next to him on the couch. His hand snaked around her waist pulling her closer. She crossed her legs to him, resting a hand on his chest.

"Thanks again for my dress."

"You’re welcome. I told Candy that you would look good in it."

"Who’s Candy?"

He leaned forward and grabbed a pipe from the table. Lines of white powder sat on a tray at the end of the table. Did he do that stuff, too?

"You want some?" He asked, releasing her as he lit the grassy substance and inhaled. She didn’t have time to answer as he set the pipe down and pulled her close. He placed his lips on hers and exhaled; she had no choice but to breathe it in. It burned her throat and she sputtered and coughed. He grinned at her, while reaching for his glass on the table. She drank the liquid down only to find herself coughing again; it was Coreillian vodka.

He laughed at her, taking the glass and setting it once again on the table.

"You okay?" She nodded but kept coughing. He placed a hand in the center of her back and patted. "It’s been awhile, huh?" She could only nod again. She felt her eyes tearing up; she could not ruin her makeup, so she did her best to stop the coughs from coming. He hadn’t answered her question about the bitty with the blonde hair.

"Who’s…Candy?" She asked finally, voice hoarse and raspy.

He turned from pouring another drink and looked at her.

"Candy? Oh yeah, she works here. I’ll introduce you."

"Don’t worry about it, you already did." He’d forgotten already.

"Are we jealous?"

"Do I have a reason to be?"

"Nope. She doesn’t swing that way, if you catch my drift." His eyes twinkled. Or did they? Could she be feeling the effects of the herb so soon? She felt like such the rookie tonight.

"Okay."

He finished with his drink and leaned back into the couch almost pulling her on top of him.

"Come here." She sat half on the couch, half on his lap. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too." She replied, fully truthful in her answer. She stayed her hands on his chest, pressed her full upper body against him as best she could, and then leaned in and kissed him slow and soft. She trailed kisses all over his face, sliding her lips to his ear where she sucked the fatty part. He moaned against her and she felt his hands grabbing at her ass and thighs. She knew what he wanted, but she didn’t want to ruin her new dress. And she wasn’t comfortable in going all the way with him in this public place. She leaned in to kiss him again, slipping a little tongue in the mix, as she thought of something she ‘could’ do to show him how much she appreciated his gesture.

"Lie back and relax." She whispered.

She snuck a quick glance around the room to make sure everybody was gone.

"Can people see inside the window?" She asked hoping to confirm her earlier suspicions.

"No. It’s mirrored on the outside." He replied. She could tell he was excited as his voice wavered when he smiled.

"Good." She smiled. She continued smiling at him as she reached and began pulling his shirt from the waistband of his pants. Her fingers touched the button clasp and he moaned, head falling back onto the couch. She giggled happy that she was about to do something grand. She found herself wanting to laugh some more, but decided that she needed to concentrate on the task at hand. So, this is what it was like to live on Cloud 9? She thought about the whirlwind her life had taken during the past couple of days. As she slid the zipper down and lifted him into her palm she wondered at the mercy of the gods who decided to show her favor. While slipping him inside her mouth, hearing him moan, feeling his hand caress her backside, she thanked them for their blessings. Once he came in long hot spurts deep inside her mouth, she promised herself a visit to the Temple so that she might bow down and offer thanks, in person, in hopes that the sunshine in her life would shine a little bit longer on her path. Before blowing him a kiss and slipping away to the fresher, she said a special prayer to her benefactor of late, asking the gods to show her if he was the one or just the one for right now. She floated through the crowd, a smile plastered on her face that could not be erased. She entered the fresher, standing before yet another mirrored wall. Blowing herself a kiss, she took this time out to appreciate appreciation, i.e. herself.

Chapter 4

Xanatos excused himself from the V.I.P. room for a visit to the fresher. These meetings were futile; nothing really ever came of them. The same people discussed the same plot of world domination, but seldom did any of them take any action. And to think, Qui-Gon said they were close in solving this riddle.

He perused the crowd of Coruscant’s young and hip crowd as he made his way across the dance floor. The fresher was located on that side of the room; he thought it swifter to pass through constantly moving dancers as opposed to drunks lined up at the bar. Bodies writhed against each other and pleasurably rubbed against him. There were many mirrors in this place, he noticed. Even inside the men’s bath they sat imbedded in the walls along with the urinals.

He washed his hands and began his journey back. Once again, he looked at this sea of citizenry, normal folk who didn’t have to worry about bureaucratic bullsh_t and intergalactic politics. And once again, he envied them. While deciding which route to take this time, he glanced a brown figure in a short gold shirt…or was it a dress? She turned briefly in his direction before entering the ladies’ fresher. She didn’t see him. Good, he thought because she was definitely about to be surprised.

Xanatos couldn’t believe the odds of seeing her here on this night. There was really a true purpose in their meeting and it was something more than what he’d discovered earlier today. He grew feverish thinking of how to approach her again. Would he go ‘there’ with her here? Now? In this place? He rubbed himself; just seeing her did this to him.

He followed her into the bath, locking the door behind them. If she noticed his presence she didn’t say anything. It wasn’t until she came out of the stall and stood before the mirror that she recognized his shadowy figure standing in the corner. Luckily, they were alone.

"Hello again." He stood propped up on the wall behind her.

She looked up, startled at the voice, which seemed to come out of nowhere.

"What are you doing here, Xan?"

"I’m here to see you." He replied, pushing off from the wall and walking slowly towards her.

"Did you follow me again?"

She waited, one hand holding the puff from her powder compact, the other holding the compact itself.

He walked up behind her, standing just to the left and back of her; but close enough to stroke a single digit up and down her exposed back. She pulled away from him, but he grabbed her arms and positioned himself behind her. He settled his head on her shoulder and gave her a look of devilish puppy-dog eyes.

She swallowed and asked again, "Did you follow me?"

Slowly he shook his head, his hands sliding up and down her arms. He reached her hands and set them on the counter causing the compact and puff to plop on the marble surface.

"I have to get back. Could you just let me go?" She pushed against him, but his body was immobile.

"I can’t." He whispered, hands stroking the flesh of her arms. He moved in closer, she could feel him, ‘that’ part of him pressing against her backside.

"Why not?" She dared to ask.

"You’re from Telos, right?" He asked, planting a soft kiss on her shoulder, eyes meeting hers again in the mirror. She couldn’t hold his gaze so she looked away, attempting to pull her arms away from his touch. He let her have this much freedom; so she stuffed the items back inside her purse.

"Guess what? I’m from Telos, too."

She gave him an exasperated look and waited.

Amused, he stepped back from her, glancing the view of her from the backside.

"At least I was, until the Jedi Cult Religion adopted me as one of their own." He continued.

"What’s your point, Xan? I have to get back…"

"Don’t you think it’s ironic that we are both from the same place?"

She gave him a look and not an answer.

"Well, I do. Especially since I glanced you in the diner and have since been unable to control these dreams and visions of you and images of that planet."

He stepped closer to her and felt her stiffen at his approach. His hand settled on her back and he sent a flush of warm energy through her body. Her posture slackened just a bit.

"Ever wonder why you have this…" He stated while sliding his hand down to he base of her spine and pressing there. "…This pebble-sized knot in your back?" He continued.

She shook her head, no.

He cast the warmth on her again and the knot burned like fire.

"It’s because you, Tam Wild, belong to me." He found her gaze in the mirror and grinned like a madman.

"It’s called a possessor bug. I own you." He laughed at the confused look on her face. The look quickly turned to anger and she scooted away from him.

"You’re delusional." She stuffed her purse under her right arm and made towards the door. Using Jedi reflexes he quickly blocked her exit. Grabbing her arm painfully, he pushed her back against the wall. Her body shook with the impact and her purse fell to the floor. She watched it, too afraid to look into his maddened eyes.

"You were born into a family of pleasure slaves. My father bought you for me and implanted that chip in your back. I didn’t know of this practice until I did some research today. But it’s confirmed, Tam. You belong to me."

"I don’t believe you!" She yelled. "I left that planet when I was six. My mother and I, we moved to Nippur. She never told me about this deal with your father."

A look of knowing came over his face. She said too much.

"Oh, I think you knew. Yes, you knew." He said this quietly. "It was only a matter of time before we found each other again." He gaze raked over her body. He held her to the wall with one hand; with the other he slid it up her thigh, pushing heat energy through her skin. His hand trailed higher, lifting the material of her dress until it settled ever so gently over her mound. He swallowed audibly, finding her moist and wet and ready.

"That was a long time ago, Xan. You’re a Jedi now. Neither of us are a part of that culture." She pleaded. But her cries fell on deaf ears. His heart raced at the confirmation of this. She knew what she was all along. She just didn’t know she belonged to him. He stroked his fingers over the flimsy material of her thong. He heard her gasp and looked at her face. There were tears escaping her eyes. Could he do this? Would he do this to her? She did have a point. He was a Jedi now. But a very dark Jedi with secret desires; desires he wanted to fulfill with the one chosen for him. His middle finger slipped underneath the fabric finding a sea of hot fire. He moaned, loosening his grip on her shoulder. Yes, he would take her now. He had to. His erection strained painfully against his pants. As he moved to free it, someone beat on the door wanting to be let in. Sh_t!

Tam cried more freely, smudging the makeup on her eyes. Slowly, he pulled his finger from inside her and let her dress fall back into place. He wiped her eyes, leaning in to lick away the salt of her tears. He kissed her softly on the lips.

"Soon." His eyes promised before releasing her and walking away. He opened the door to a couple of drunken ladies who eyed him seductively as he passed through.

Tam couldn’t move. The ladies bumbled inside the room, passing her without a glance. She resisted the urge to slide down the wall and curl her body into fetal position. She always knew that there was ‘something’ about herself that didn’t quite mesh. It took a psychotic stranger to point it out to her. Now what would she do? Pick up and move again? Now that she had a reason to stay? She couldn’t do that. She bent over and grabbed her purse from the floor. She pulled out her compact and fixed her face. Mumby was waiting for her; she had to get back to him. She straightened her posture, lifted her head and walked out the door. She strolled through the packed aisles until she reached their V.I.P. Mumby sat on the couch speaking on the comm to someone. He smiled when she entered. She crossed over to him and threw her purse onto the adjoining sofa. Placing one knee on his side she straddled him and reached for his zipper. She needed to feel love and be loved after having a past life resurrected and thrown in her face. Sure enough, as soon as she felt blessed, fate came along and played a dazzling trick on her.

She grabbed his telecomm and clicked it shut. He tried to protest, but she cut him off, pulling him out and stroking him into readiness. She lined herself up and slid him inside of her. He moaned at the contact and immediately grabbed her hips. He let her set the pace and she was pleased. She found her rhythm and began an all out assault on him. She was wild and uninhibited; more so than she had ever allowed herself to be. She savored the feel of his strong hands caressing her ass and urging her to plunge deeper. When she came, it was like a declaration. She would not be defined by someone else’s definition. She felt him reach his own climax and silently hoped that the seed he planted inside of her would take root and grow. This latest upset would not interfere with her plan; a plan left dormant and ignored until now. She would be with Mumby and not with Xan. Her life was her own choosing and damn anyone to Sithdom-come who dared to interfere.

********************************************************************

"Everything alright?" Qui-Gon asked as Xanatos took a seat near his mentor. He nodded his head, finding himself unable to speak. It took all he had to shield his thoughts from his master. His hands shook as he reached for his drink.

"Xan, you're shaking."

"Yes, I am. I think I need to walk it off. Too much rum." He offered, making himself seem more pitiful than he was.

"I'll finish up here, make apologies to our host. I'll see you back at the Temple."

"Thank you." He stood, rather unsteadily, thankful for the darkly lit room and hoping that silhouette of his profile didn't reveal the arousal evident in his trousers. Xan headed for the door.

"Go see a healer." Qui-Gon called after him.

He nodded his head and passed through the sliding door. Once again, he found himself enmeshed in the crowded club. Where would she have gone? He glanced around the large room, allowing his Force-sensibility to feel her out. There. Inside that room. He cut corners and squeezed between clubgoers holding multi-colored cocktails exhaling icy vapors into the air. He found himself underneath the spotlight in the middle of the dancefloor. Suddenly, bodies flanked him on all sides; hands caressed and squeezed, lips kissed and tongues licked. Just what the hell type of club was this?

He attempted to break through. On any other occasion he would welcome this type of attention, but his body beckoned for the touch of one person and only that one person could satisfy him.

"Hey Xan!"

He turned at the high-pitched voice coming from somewhere on the dance floor. He pushed a couple of gyrating bodies away as he turned and saw Quaylan.

"Quaylan? What are you doing here?" His eyes gazed at her young body covered in an ill-fitted concoction of leather and straps and, was that safety pins?

"I snuck out." She smiled widely. The dancers around them moved in closer, pushing Xan and Quay closer together. His hands flew up to her waist; he tried holding her back, but the crowd pressed inward. Quay seemed pleased. She smiled up at Xanatos; he felt her hands holding onto his upper arms.

"I have…I have to get off this floor." He tried pushing her away to no avail. The crowd seemed determined to suffocate him.

"Well, you can't. At least not for another five minutes." He gave her a puzzled look.

"The deathmarch! Hear that song? Everybody crams the floor when they hear it. It'll be over soon."

Suddenly an elbow jabbed him in his side.

"Oof!" He grunted.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I think so. Why is everyone so rough out here?"

"X." She replied. He gave her a questioning look. "You don't know what X is?"

He held tighter to her as the people around him commenced to make mincemeat out of the odd couple.

"Is it something like a deathstick?" He yelled into her ear.

"No. It's better." She smiled. The crowd rushed them again. "Do you want some?"

"Quaylan! You're a Jedi!" She smiled again and reached inside the bosom of her top. She pulled out a small tab and held it before his face.

"It's harmless…almost. Don't worry, It'll be out of your system before morning. Qui-Gon will never know."

He didn't know what to do. Drugs were not his thing. Frankly, he was surprised at Quaylan. He glanced around the floor and saw the frenzied state of everyone. Were they all on this X pill? A door to one of the V.I.P. lounges opened. There she was. She walked out, on the arm of the guy he saw her with before. They kissed hungrily as they walked around the perimeter. Was she leaving already?

"Well, yes or no? It's coming soon. You should take this to be ready."

"Ready for what?"

She didn't answer; rather she shoved the pill inside his mouth. He tasted the dry chalky flavor mixed with the moist taste of her finger. He glanced at Tam once again. They stood closer to the front entrance. The man flexed his fingers over her backside; she leaned into him, laughing, seemingly enjoying his touch. Xanatos grew angry. The crowd swelled to an even more feverish pitch. He let the pill sit under his tongue as his hands found their way to Quaylan's backside. She looked up at him surprised; yet pleased. Had the pill begun to take effect?

"Xan?" She asked, looking him in the eye. She liked him. He knew this. He looked for Tam again. Gone. Had they slipped out of a side entrance? He felt slightly dizzy. His thoughts of her, what to do next were muddled. He couldn't get to her. The crowd, the crowd was so thick. He felt hands in his hair. "Xan?" He looked down at Quaylan, really seeing her for the first time. Nice lips. He wanted to kiss them.

As he leaned in to make the connection, the crowd swelled and screamed and suddenly fans blew water vapor and glitter over the crowd. There was a hand on his ass and it did not belong to Quay. He was so disoriented at this point that he didn't care. He hoisted Quaylan onto himself. She gasped in surprise and not in protest. He reached between them and found her without underwear. He unhooked the clasp at his trousers and pulled himself free. Someone from behind pushed hard causing him to ram inside of her. She screamed aloud at the contact. Virgin? Oh no. What was he thinking?

Xanatos held to her attempting to soothe her pain. She looked him in the eyes and pulled his face in for a kiss. Wrapping her legs around him, she began a slow jaunt, moving herself up and down. Hands grabbed at his ass; he felt someone graze the back of his thigh. He looked around and saw others caught up in the same ecstasy, which had engulfed him, too. The lights strobed from dark to light. The glitter continued to pour over the masses. He continued to use her, grateful for the body behind her providing a stable support. She felt good, but this pleasure was ladled in guilt. She was two years younger than he; and a virgin at that. A very vocal virgin. Her screams came in high pitch. He continued to thrust inside of her, feeling every vibration, every squeeze her muscles lavished along his staff. F_ck, it'd been too long.

He couldn't last much longer. He felt as though he couldn't breathe. The crowd continued to gyrate around them. He shook the glitter from his eyes. Her body squeezed him hard one last time and it proved to be his undoing. He paused in his motions and shook; feeling the spurt of his climax began its journey upward. Quickly he pulled out of her, grabbing his staff and stroking the squishy organ into submission. She moaned at his sudden exit. He held onto her, arm straining as he used his other hand to finish himself off. Tired, he set her down slowly. The crowd began to calm down. She stood on shaky legs looking at him and grinning like an idiot. Gods, what had he done? Now she's going to want to "go steady" or some other asinine, teenage fantasy.

He stuffed himself back inside his trousers and fumbled with his clothing before saying anything. The drug was still in his system. He could feel it. Quaylan grabbed hold of his arm and he tensed at the sensation. She pulled him away from the dance floor.

"We need water."

They walked to the bar and ordered two waters. Once they received them, he downed the substance and immediately demanded more. It was some of the best water he'd ever tasted. Quaylan drank just as greedily; water ran from her mouth and creeped in rivulets down her chin and neck and deep into the valley of her small breasts. Breasts. Xanatos reached for her, letting his hand slide slowly up her torso until he cupped her breast. She sighed, holding her hand to his. He felt himself becoming aroused again.

"Xan…" She whispered softly.

Slowly his gaze left his maneuvering hand and traveled to her face.

"They have rooms…" She began. He cut her off with a nod of his head. She was pretty. Not as pretty as Tam, but she'd do.

She pulled him along a corridor. She slid a keycard and walked through the opening doorway. Inside the room had couches and rugs and pillows. This place is a veritable f_cktopia, isn't it? He thought to himself. She seated herself on one of the larger couches and pulled him to her. Her small hands worked nimbly at undoing his trousers. He moaned at the feel of her. She yanked his pants down and pulled him on top of the couch. He moved her hands away and began to undo her clothing. Frustrated, he finally just ripped the material away until she lay naked before him. Slowly he ran a hand along her body, pausing between her thighs, testing her wetness.

Just what the hell was he doing? Tam. He wanted Tam. But she wasn't here. Quaylan gasped as he grasped her thigh. Unceremoniously, he flipped her over and hoisted her rear end into the air.

"Xan, what…"

"Shhh…it won't hurt, I promise." He grinned maliciously. He thought about her again. If he had her like he wanted to, she wouldn't have the right to complain because she belongs to him. He'd contacted the Trade Federation on Telos and verified the records concerning the gift his father gave to him when he was six. He remembered the ceremony, just vaguely. A small brown girl, almost his height stood with a larger brown woman. His father mumbled some words and they were taken away. Soon after, he was taken away by Qui-Gon to the Temple. And after all of these years…

She belonged to him, be he a Jedi or no, she was his and he'd have her back.

"Okay." Quaylan murmured.

He'd almost forgotten she was there. He gripped her hip and placed himself at her entrance. Slowly, he pushed inside, eyes rolling into the top of his head at the tight feel of her. Quaylan made small mewling noises. He ignored her and focused on his own pleasure. He imagined the ass he pounded his body into to be hers. He wanted it to be her crying out his name as he buried himself deeper and deeper inside.

"Xan…this hurts…stop." She begged.

No, he wouldn't stop. He was caught up inside his own fantasy. He shifted position, entering her at an angle. Quaylan cried out. He felt her stiffen against him, but he ignored her pleas, continuing to f_ck her into oblivion. His body poured sweat. His hair stuck to his face in large, clumpy waves. His hand slicked its way up her spine until he grabbed the hair at the nape of her neck, pulling her back. She cried out in pain, but he continued. He could feel his body begin to separate, feel the lust uncoil inside him. His butt muscles clenched tighter and tighter as he thrust deeper into her young body. He moaned loudly, closed his eyes and saw the beginning of a transformation. He grunted and groaned, hoarsely whispered her name with each thrust. Suddenly, his climax was upon him; he meant to pull out but the tightness of her insides wouldn't let him. Her muscles milked him for all he had. He came over and over and over until finally, all he could do was slump over and attempt to catch his breath.

Out of his haze he was aware of her body being squished beneath his. He heard the soft moans of her crying. F_ck, what had he done?

"Oh, Quaylan…I'm sorry." He pulled out. F_ck, there was blood… Carefully, he rolled her over; her hands covered her face. "I’m sorry." He reached for her clothes and began pulling on her ruined clothing. What had he done?

Suddenly, the door opened and Qui-Gon stood there facing both of them.

"Xanatos…what's going on here?"

Oh, f_ck. He couldn't turn around. F_ck! Why didn't he silence his thoughts. Every Jedi in a ten-mile radius probably heard him. He looked at Quay, who lay motionless on the bed.

Qui-Gon stepped inside the room; the door closed behind him. Quaylan raised herself from the bed. "It's my fault, Master Qui-Gon. I wanted to be with him, so I followed you two to this club and, and I tricked him." She said this while trying to cover her body with her tattered clothes.

Qui-Gon unsheathed his cloak and threw it to her. "Put this on. Xanatos, put your clothes back on. You two meet me outside. We're going back to the Temple."

Xanatos couldn't look at his master or at Quaylan. He didn't feel shame, just frustration at having done the right thing to the wrong person. Slowly, he stood and shrugged on his clothes. Quaylan stood on wobbly legs and rapped Qui's cloak about her small form. Together they left the room and walked out of the club. The ride back to the Temple was a silent one teeming with frustration and disappointment. He was in for a long night.

**********************************************************************

"I'll meet you out front." Mumby turned over, releasing her from his hold. He spoke on the telecomm; she heard him as he pulled on his pajama bottoms. He left the room and she lay in the bed and listened. No more rain. For now, she thought. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Standing, she stretched her tired limbs. She fastened the belt of her robe as she palmed the door open.

Immediately, the bright light of Coruscant's two suns hit her in the face; it flooded the entire space. She walked into the living area headed for the kitchen. A car hovered along the port. Mumby stood leaning into the window of the car. He gestured wildly with one hand, pointing a finger to the person inside. What was he doing?

The door opened and Farnsworth stood there.

"Mr. Mumby has asked that you meet him on the patio for breakfast." He stepped aside, motioning the door to open.

"Okay." She replied while looking at Mumby again. "Who's he talking to?"

"I don't know. You'll have to ask him."

She tightened her robe and walked through the door. Mumby yelled something to the person inside the car, backed away and waved them off. He flicked the filter in his hand against the ground and strode towards her.

"Morning, babe." He gave her a quick kiss and took a seat at the table on the veranda.

"Good morning." She took a seat and looked at the food. It smelled delicious.

Placing the napkin in her lap, she eyed him trying to gauge his mood. Clearing her throat she asked, "Who was that?"

"Just some f_cker I'm doing business with. He has to deliver something for me."

She took a bite out of the omelet and washed it down with strong black coffee.

"I've been thinking about your offer." She prompted.

"You're staying right?" He reached for a pack of smokes and lit one.

"Yes, but I meant the other part. The job thing we discussed…"

"You don't have to work." He inhaled on the filter. "I told you that. Just be with me. I like you. You're cool." He grinned.

She laughed at his. "I want to work for you…doing that surveillance thing." He gave her a blank stare. "Do you not remember? We talked about this before." She shook her head. Gosh, he was such a stoner.

"Oh yeah, yeah. Yes. Okay."

"You still don't remember, do you?"

He shook his head and they laughed together. "You can do it, if you want. I just hired a new guy for the job. He can train you. I trust him." With this he gave her a look. She wasn't quite sure what it was meant to say.

"Speaking of surveillance and cameras and recordings and clubs…" He grinned at her. She couldn't figure out where he was headed with this one, so she raised her eyebrows in response. "I sometimes record in my clubs." She gave him a look of utter horror. "For promotional value!" He finished.

"And last night?" She grabbed one of his filters from the box and lit it, inhaling deeply while bracing herself for his response.

"Not us, no." He shook his head, flicking ash into the shrubberies.

"But that room…"

"That room doesn't have cameras, but the others do."

Tam faced away not knowing what to think. Had she bedded herself down with a freak? Speaking of beds…

"What about your house?" She shrieked. "Do you record…did you?"

"No and no."

"Mumby, I don't know about this."

"Know about what? I told you what I do. I'm a businessman. I sell sh_t and get paid for it." He grinned wickedly.

She shook her head again. What the hell? She sure knew how to pick them.

"C'mon, I'd never do that to you." He reached across the table and rubbed her arm.

"What was that delivery about?"

He sat back, eyes hardening. He looked confused. Would he tell her the truth?

"Tapes." He sighed.

She rolled her eyes and stood up. She couldn't handle this.

"But of performances! Not of…you know…"

F_cking hell, she thought to herself. She dared not even ask what type of performances. Why was all of this hitting her at once? Mr. Right turns out to be Mr. Freak-a-Leek. A horny Jedi claiming to have ownership over her stalks her in her waking hour and in her dreams. Is this the part where she cries? F_ck.

"Hey." He stood and walked to her, putting his arms around her. He leaned in to kiss her, but she pulled away.

"Don’t do that. I told you what I was about." She gave him a pointed stare. "Sort of. Don't leave me, please? Please? Please?" Each request was punctuated by a kiss. Soon he kissed her spot underneath her ear, causing her to giggle and squirm away from him.

"Stop it." She laughed. He reached for her again. She allowed him to hold her.

"You gonna stay with me?" His hands reached around holding her then cupping her backside.

She had no choice, right now. She eyed him, fastening together her plan. She liked him well enough and he was good in bed; she'd have to break it off with him easy-like. Slowly she nodded her head. He grinned like an idiot and leaned in to kiss her. She let him and kissed him back. But the filter burned away in her hand so she broke away from him, taking her seat at the table.

"Turk called me this morning."

"Yeah? About what?" Mumby took his seat and took a long swig from the cocktail he drank.

"Apparently there was an upset with a couple of Jedi in one of the rooms."

At the mention of the term Jedi, her head sprang up. The food was forgotten in her mouth and suddenly the scene from inside the fresher came flooding back into her mind.

"Jedi? What…what were they doing there?"

He looked hesitant for a minute, deciding whether or not to say. He cleared his throat and reached for the toast. "They were…" Again he cleared his throat. "…F_cking." He continued. "It just doesn't seem right to say. Jedi. F_cking. I didn't think they did that sort of thing."

Slowly Tam chewed her food. Could one of the Jedi be Xan? If so, does this mean he was through with her? Through with obsessing over her? She should've felt better about things, but found that she just couldn't. She swallowed and set her utensils down.

"You done?" He asked.

"Yeah." She replied, standing. "I want to shower, put on some clothes." She offered him a smile.

"Well, I could use a shower, too. Mind if I join you?" He winked, standing up and stretching his lengthy form. She loved his chest, his stomach. She loved the sparse happy trail, which led down to a more densely packed thatch of hair. She reached and touched him there. He held her hand, his eyes turning to molten orbs as she caressed the his flat tummy.

Farnsworth entered onto the patio.

"Hey Farny. Clean all this sh_t up, will you?"

Farnsworth rolled his eyes at Mumby's command. Tam laughed aloud. Mumby winked at her. She pulled him inside the house.

********************************************************************

Three days. Xanatos lay on the floor of his room staring at the indentions in the ceiling. Three f_cking days, he thought. Qui had taken the telecomm out of their quarters; he took his comlink away from him.

"F_ck!" He yelled and threw the datapad in his hand against the window. It scratched the surface, making a small shrieking noise as it made contact.

"Did you say something Xanatos?" Qui called from the other room.

"No, master." He covered his face with his hands and groaned. He would go crazy inside if Qui-Gon didn't let him out. He stood up and stomped into the common room.

"Master?"

"Yes, Xanatos." Qui-Gon sat reading an article on the holonet. The graphic hovered in the air above the table.

"How much longer are you going to keep me in here?" He flexed his fingers attempting to calm his nerves.

"Calm down, Xanatos."

He fumed. He walked into the kitchen and sat at the table.

"How much longer." He stated, waiting. He put his head in his hand and briskly rubbed the butt of his palms into his eyes.

"When the Council contacts me, I will begin to reconsider your punishment."

He pulled his hands away, revealing bloodshot eyes. "Reconsider? With all due respect, isn't this enough? Three days…" He moaned. "I’m going to go crazy if you keep me cooped up inside here any longer."

"Look at it this way, Xan. This time gives you an opportunity to work on those meditative exercises you've been lacking in as of late."

Xanatos stared disbelievingly. What the…?

"And your temper, Xan. You've never been this angry before. You need to meditate and find your way back to the Force." This last portion of statement, Qui mumbled quietly, but Xanatos still heard him.

"Find my way back?" He stood and stomped his way into the room, coming just short of his seated master.

"Yes, Xan." He answered sharply. "You disobey my commands, you assault a fellow padawan and show hardly any remorse for it, young man, you have taken leave of your senses, it seems." Qui-Gon deactivated the holoscreen. He stood and walked to Xanatos, placing his hands on his shoulders.

"We will see what the Council orders for you and then we'll go from there." He sighed. "I will allow you to leave the apartment, but…"

Xanatos perked up, a small smile began to form along his mouth.

"But what?" He asked quietly.

"You can't leave the Temple grounds. I'll want you nearby when I hear from the Council."

"Yes, master."

"May I suggest a visit to the Meditation Gardens? You really should practice on calming your emotions."

"Yes, master."

"You are a gifted pupil, Xanatos. I want you to stay here among us."

"Because you chose me?" Xanatos questioned with a hint of suspicion in his voice.

"I didn't choose you, son, the Force did." Qui-Gon smiled, patted him on the shoulder and turned, taking his place once again at the desk.

Xanatos smiled wickedly at the knowledge that he could get out of this shell and possibly summon Tam to meet him. How to do that, he'd have to figure out. He turned and ran inside his room. He put on his robes and tucked his lightsaber into the belt at his waist.

"Here." Qui-Gon threw his comlink to him. "Keep it on, while you're out."

"Yes, master." He palmed the small device and stuck it into his pocket.

"Don't go bothering Quaylan. I'm not sure she's ready to see you yet."

He hadn't even thought of her. "Yes, master. I'll be back by nine."

"Do not leave the grounds!" Qui-Gon yelled after him.

Xanatos didn't reply. He headed down the corridor straight to the lift. He would go to the Library and access her records. He would send a transmission, informing her to show herself in the Gardens. He would make it appear to be a request for his inquisition. He laughed aloud, unable to wipe the grin from his face as passersby in the Temple gave him curious looks. Maybe he was mad, yes, no, why not? What would he do with her afterwards? There had to be a way for him to keep her…keep her 'and' stay in the Order? He'd figure that out once he f_cked her silly. He turned and entered into the Library. Good. There were only a few students there. He'd send the message then take off to the Gardens to await her there.

*********************************************************************

"What is it?"

Tam sat in Mumby's lap as they lounged in his media room watching an old holovid.

"That's his deathbed."

"So, they go there to die? Wow. A facility where you can go watch tv, listen to Mozart then die."

"Yeah, babe, they're called hospitals."

She jabbed him in the side. He grimaced at the pain. Flipping her onto her back and settled himself on top of her. She slid her legs open, welcoming his weight, enjoying the feel of him again.

Earlier, they'd showered, made love in the shower, showered again, fooled around in the bedroom, and finally dressed themselves. She wore a velour jumpsuit. The pants were low-rise. Mumby slipped on a pair of battered jeans. Neither wore socks nor undergarments. They'd lain for the past couple of hours on the couch watching films and sometimes letting the films watch them as they groped and petted one another.

This was sickness, she thought. They acted like a couple of teenagers. As she gazed at his face and looked on the tight definition of his body, she decided that he was definitely no teenager. He was a man, unlike Xanatos who was more of a monster. A shadow formed over her face as she thought of him and his intrusion upon her last night. Mumby noticed the change in her mood. He sat up on his elbows and gazed into her eyes.

"What's wrong?"

Should she tell him? No, she couldn't. She didn't want him to be hurt.

"Tell me…" He urged. He leaned in and kissed her. Lifting up again, he waited.

Suddeny she had an idea. "Those Jedi you captured on tape last night…do you know who they were?"

"I don't know…just Jedi. They all look the same, don't they?" He joked, but sobered quickly when he didn't see her laughing. He sat all the way up and moved from the couch. She followed suit and watched as he walked over to the console and dug through a pile of discs. He wasn’t the most organized person, but apparently he had a system because he found what he was looking for.

"I can show them to you…I thought you weren't into this stuff?" He turned giving her a confused look.

"I’m not…it's just that I think I might know one of them." He raised his eyebrows at her.

"I'll tell you about it in a minute. Just boot up the tape."

He pressed a couple of buttons and an image formed. He walked back to the couch and sat with her, using a handheld remote to fast-forward the image. People entered and left the room. The fast-forward feature made their movements appear comical. Mostly they entered, talked, danced then left. She didn't recognize any of the clubgoers. Suddenly the room went dark.

"Did someone turn out the lights?" She asked.

"No. They're on a timer. They're supposed to come back on when people enter."

Two figures moved inside the room and the light blared on them both. But they didn't seem to notice. The camera refocused and she saw him. He looked crazy. What was that on his face? Glitter?

Mumby noticed her reaction to the screen.

"You know him?"

She shook her head, yes. She continued watching as the camera caught the two young bodies undressing. The girl lay back on the bed, while Xanatos kneeled before her. She reached for him; he swatted her hands away. Aggressively, he grabbed her and flipped her over. He looked like a cartoon, all deathly pale in the harsh light. The grimy black and white image didn't do anything for his features, but accentuate the angularity of his face and the muscularity of his body.

"This guy is like a jack-rabbit." Mumby laughed. She turned and gave him a look.

"And people get off on this?"

"Babe, we're watching it in fast-motion. If I slow it down…" He touched a button and the image slowed to normal. "…And turn up the volume, you'll see why people get into it. It's arousing." His voice wavered. She felt him looking at her.

"No. Don't even think about it."

He smiled. She heard him whisper, "damn" under his breath. And she had to laugh. Turning her attention back to the screen she watched as Xanatos pushed in and out of the girl's body. She thought she heard her cry out. Xanatos grabbed her by the neck and increased his pace. She swallowed. There was something sexy about his movements. She felt her stomach begin to quiver at the thought of his young body ravishing her thusly.

"Turn it off."

Mumby didn't hear her. His eyes were dazed and focused on the screen.

"Mumby, I said that's enough. Turn it off." She turned to him and grabbed the remote from his hand. She pressed buttons until the image finally disappeared.

"Well, was that him?" He asked quietly, leaning back into the couch.

"Yeah."

"How do you know him?" She turned and eyed him. He looked at her suspiciously then raised his eyebrows as if to say "Go on."

She couldn't do this now. She had her proof. Xanatos had found someone else to pester. There was no need to reveal all of her drama to Mumby.

"I changed my mind. I don't want to tell you."

"Tell me who the f_cker is!"

She stood but was immediately pulled back down. "Mumby!" She yelled. He held to her arm. "Let me go."

He pulled his hand from her arm as if burned.

"I'm sorry."

They sat in silence for a moment. "I'm sorry, all right?" He moved to touch her again, but she pulled away.

"I've got to get out of here." She stood and walked out the door. She heard him run, catching up to her.

"Where are you going?"

"To my place."

"F_ck, Tam. I'm sorry all right? You seemed so upset when you saw him."

He touched her on the arm, slowly turning her around.

"He's been…following me. I didn't want to tell you. I saw him at the club last night, before this happened." She pointed back towards the media room.

"Does he know where you live?"

She nodded.

"Well, you're not going back there. I'll get Farnsworth to go and get the rest of your stuff. F_cking Jedi. I'll f_ck him up…"

"Calm down. That's why I didn't want to tell you. I think, I think maybe he's over me…hopefully. He was with that girl, right? He just found somebody else, so it's cool."

He pulled her close, running his hands up her arms, and then settling them on either side of her face. "I'm sorry I grabbed you, okay? I won't do that again. Just don't keep sh_t like this from me. I want to protect you, okay?"

He pressed his forehead against hers. She nodded, understanding where he was coming from; she smiled, while suppressing the urge to cry. He leaned in and kissed her on the lips. Once, twice, more he bathed her mouth with his tongue. Her arms wrapped around his waist and she leaned into him, returning the kiss.

Suddenly, the tape in the room began to play again. The sound of Xanatos's grunts filtered out into the hallway. The girl beneath him moaned, then screamed. Tam tensed at the sound of Xanatos yelling her name. Mumby released her, backing away into the room. She stood in shock at the sound of Xanatos calling her name over and over again, until finally, Mumby hit the off switch. She heard him pull the tape form the compartment; heard him beating it with the nearest blunt object. He approached her in the hallway; this time her face was streaked with tears. He wiped them away, kissing her softly on each cheek.

"I'll keep you safe, okay?" He whispered quietly, punctuating the declaration with a kiss.

She nodded her head, eyes caught in a daze, focused on the texture of the carpet in the hallway. She felt Mumby's warm arms wrap around her. He felt so good, so good indeed that she let loose her tears. He lifted her up and carried her into the bedroom. Later, she told him everything. It scared him so bad; he told her he loved her. She couldn't say it back to him, so she showed him how she felt. Then it began to rain again.

**********************************************************************

He walked along the open walkways of the Gardens, not minding the rain pouring steadily from the sky. Every so often, the showers would slow up and sometimes even stop altogether, only to begin again once the clouds passed over and a new set squatted in their place.

Qui Gon had not called for him. It was almost four hours later since he sent the transmission to her quarters ordering her to stand before the Council for his case. His plan was genius and would work, if only she complied with the contents of the message.

He raked a hand through dampened hair and shivered slightly against the cold. He must look like a madman pacing to and fro, out in the open in the thick of a cloudstorm. The Gardens were practically empty. Some people who were caught when the rains came crashing down, hovered together along the covered walkways, waiting for an aircab or some other transport to arrive. He paid them little mind and they in turn seemed not to notice him.

He walked along the edge of the platform, trailing a hand on the metal rail. It was cold to the touch, so he gripped it, held to it, experiencing the numbing sensation creep up his hands and arms, into his heart. Was he really this cold?

A voice sounded behind him. A man yelled as another hopped inside the aircab he flagged down. The man stomped the ground, throwing his satchel against the concrete. He waived a finger at the departing vehicle, steadily fussing while pacing along the walk. Before he could rant and rave longer, another aircab approached. He picked up his satchel and hopped inside, talking to the driver, thanking him for a ride. The frown on his face now became a smile.

Xanatos observed this fluctuation in behavior. It was every sentient being’s right to feel the whole gamut of emotion. Normal folks could do that, he thought. Not Jedi. Jedi had to remain serene all the time. That’s bullsh_t, he countered, his mind reopening the wound of an age-old debate. I miss that, he mused. I remember "feeling". He flexed his hands, tightening them into fists then releasing the folded digits.

He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to grasp those images of memory he recalled only recently. He could feel his father’s hand upon his shoulder as he mumbled the words, dismissing the girl and her mother. It was cold and the day was gray. He remembered her brown coloring; it contrasted well with the sky. The older lady cried as she turned the girl and walked away. She’d said something to his father. He saw her lips move; what did she say? He strained his memory, pulling harder, trying to catch the phrase, which made his father’s hand squeeze his shoulder painfully. He wasn’t aware that he did it.

A larger public transport sidled up along the ramp. The remaining crowd skipped, trotted and ran through the rain to board it. He watched them load into the craft. Men and women and beings, they were; and they all had someplace to be. They probably had families to get home to. The airbus pulled away. It churned and whined as it lifted into the air. Behind it, another car sat waiting. It pulled along the curve; an airlimo, it was. A driver hopped out with a parasol in tow. He stood next to the passenger door and opened it. She got out.

His black heart raced. He wanted to believe what he was seeing, but he didn’t believe she’d actually shown. She stood and took the parasol from the driver. She said some words to him; he nodded, got back in the car and pulled away. Alone, she proceeded to walk towards the North entrance to the Temple. He had to subdue her before she got too close to the door. Using the Force he ran the short distance, stopping just short of her.

The rain continued to pour. Traffic was light. The Gardens were now empty. She spotted him, he heard her gasp; he could almost hear her heart beat in syncopation with his own. She gripped the parasol; her eyes darted all around. He lifted a hand, staying her silence. Steadily, he approached. Standing just in front of her, he sensed the fear coming off of her in waves. She was on the verge of screaming or shouting or crying. He lifted a hand to her face; she shrunk away. Quickly he grabbed her by the shoulder and with the other hand he settled it against her temple. He sent a Force-wave through her body and immediately she collapsed. He caught her before she hit the ground. Lifting her up, he walked to the edge of the platform. An aircab approached and he lifted her inside.

"South side." He commanded.

"What address." The droid replied, already lifting the cab into the air.

"The Quarters. It’s a hotel. I don’t know the address."

"I can find it."

Xanatos didn’t acknowledge the droid’s response. He held Tam in his lap. His arms wrapped around her. She lay slack and unmoving; he hoped she wasn’t comatose. He hardly ever used that particular trick. Gently, he wiped the rain from her face. His hand settled on her cheek then cascaded downward along her neck. He held his hand against her throat, feeling for a pulse. He brushed her jacket open. He’d have to get her out of these wet clothes; and himself, too. He reached under the top she wore and felt around along her back, balancing her body on his knees. He found the spot, the knot of skin at the base of her spine. He massaged it, smiling, happy that he was right, glad to have something to really call his. And this was just the beginning.

 

She woke from sleep marveling at the sky’s ability to continue producing rain. No matter how she reassured herself that this was Coruscant’s rainy season; even after having been here for over a year, she still could not fathom this much rain in such a short time period.

Turning over in the bed, she was met with pale flesh that seemed to glow luminescent in the semi-darkness. Blinking red and blue lights flashed along the walls and… Wait. Blinking lights? Red lights? Suddenly she remembered. Images of the last couple of days played out in a montage across her mind’s eye. Mumby: Off-planet for three days, on business. Farnsworth: Retrieved items from her apartment, handing her the post. There was a plasti-sheet inside. It was a summons of sorts; she was needed as a witness to testify against a Jedi named Xanatos at the Jedi Temple. Farnsworth: "Call as soon as you’re ready and I’ll be here to retrieve you. Here, take this parasol with you." "Thank you, Farnsworth. This shouldn’t take long." Xanatos: Materialized out of nowhere, it seems. He lifted a hand, she moved to run away, felt his touch and then there was nothing but darkness.

She sat up in the bed. She turned and saw him lying there. His eyes were closed. Was he asleep? She stared in horror at the madman lying naked next to her. She looked down; she was naked, too. Quickly, she looked around the room, trying to find something, something to strike him with. She felt on the verge of tears when her eyes espied a glass pitcher sitting on the table. Softly, she scooted her body out of the bed and tiptoed across the plush red carpet. She lifted the pitcher, quickly glancing at his sleeping form. She walked back to the bed, pitcher raised and ready to strike.

His eyes opened and he gave her a small smile. Seeing the object in her hand, he caught it, just as she was about to send it crashing into his skull. He sent it shattering against the wall, grasped her wrists and twisted her down to the bed and underneath him.

He pressed her wrists into the headboard, bringing his hand down to her stomach. Warm waves blossomed from her womb into all reaches of her body. Even into her mind. Her fear and anger seemed to meld into one; the heat-energy soothed the outside layer, but her mind prickled just below the surface.

"Let. Me. Go." She managed to get out, in between puffs of breath. His hand flexed and smoothed over her belly; he seemed in a daze and unaware of her struggles until he looked into her eyes. She spat in his face, "Bastard!"

His eyes flared with fury as he lifted his hand and wiped the spit from his eyes. Slowly, he smiled. "Tam, I’m not going to rape you." He chuckled. "You’re going to do this…willingly."

Again, he splayed his hand across her abdomen and sent shock of warm energy. Uncontrollably, she lifted her pelvis from the bed and squeezed her thighs together. Whatever he did to her sent unwanted waves of pleasure through her core. She felt shame and ecstasy simultaneously as he touched her.

He released her wrists, sliding his hands down her body. He grasped her thighs and pulled them apart, watching her attempt to resist. He kneeled and she felt his breath travel over her center. She moaned as she felt his hands slide underneath her backside, lifting her to his mouth. He licked her once and she dug her heels in the bed, feeling the sensation lifted her against his mouth. He licked again and again, squeezing her bottom as she squirmed like some two-dollar whore. Two minutes ago, she was ready to kill him, but now… What were these tricks he played with her body?

"No." She commanded. Finding some semblance of control, she met his amethyst gaze dead on. He stopped briefly, lowering her back to the bed. He slithered up her body, hovering above her, his breath scented with her musk.

"You want this." He stated. She felt a "fuzzy" invade her mind. Realizing he was working more of his tricks she relented.

"No."

"Yes, you do. You have no choice." He countered, settling himself between her thighs. She felt his sex brush against her stomach. She gritted her teeth to keep from moaning. She used her hands, trying to push him off of her. Again, he grasped her wrists over her head. She felt his body undulating, his erection poking against her. She closed her eyes against all sensation.

"Tam," He coaxed, moving against her once more. He leaned in and kissed her neck and shoulders then lips. "You’re going to enjoy this."

She attempted to squeeze her legs together, but as his body lay between them, he took this as reassurance and released her arms. He kissed her neck, making his way down to her breasts, dragging his wet rough tongue over the hard stone of her nipples. She gasped at the sensation. He suckled one breast then moved to the other. She squirmed beneath him, enjoying the pleasure, but feeling as big a monster as he, for doing so.

Her hands pushed against his shoulders. His tongue moved down her body, stopping shortly to dip inside her navel. He grasped her hips as his tongue and lips found purchase between her thighs. She lifted against him, hips rolling to meet the quick thrusts of his tongue inside her. He continued until she came loudly, hips yet moving against his face. She fell back against the bed, dazed and confused. What the hell had she done? He was crazy! And so was she. She covered her eyes with an arm as she attempted to catch her breath.

"Look at me." He said.

She shook her head. "Get off me. Let me go."

She felt her legs rise; he pulled them up into the air and settled himself against her. "Look at me." He said again. She felt his member nudge against her entrance. She suppressed a moan. Quickly, she squirmed away from him, her legs folding against her chest. Again, this seemed only to encourage him. He leaned over her, pushing her legs back into position, with her feet resting against his chest. Slowly, oh so slowly, she felt his vibrant flesh press its way inside of her. It hurt. She closed her eyes against him and squeezed tightly.

"Tam." He called again. This time his hands settled on her ass, cupping her from underneath. He sent warm waves through her body and instantly she felt her muscles betray her by relaxing to his entry. He pressed further. Now she realized why the girl in the video screamed her head off; he was a monster in every sense of the word!

"I can do this nice or I can take you hard…your choice." She didn’t reply. His hands lifted her and he plunged all the way inside. She yelped at the pain, standing-tears now escaping her eyes. His slow plunges met resistance on the inside. He increased his pace, his breath now coming in soft grunts as her canal gripped and tugged on his member. He leaned forward, pushing her further into the mattress gaining a better angle and violating her deeper inside. She cried openly now, but her hands moved up to the headboard, providing the resistance she needed from being slammed into the wall.

He slowed, pulling back. Her legs were like jell-o. He maneuvered them, stretching them wide, using his hands to press her thighs down, he commenced in plundering her ravaged body.

He moaned louder it seemed. His movements became more frenzied. His breath haggard as he hovered over her, encompassing her field of vision. A hand moved up and he grabbed her by the neck and squeezed; she keened against him, arching her back meeting his powerful thrusts. He called her name. Over and over again, it rumbled from somewhere deep in his stomach. His fingers scraped against her neck eliciting a hiss.

She felt the weight of him, the feel of him swell deep inside her. He angled hitting her most tender spot and she was lost. She cried out; her hand squeezed against the wood of the headboard as wave after wave crashed through her. He pushed hard inside her once, then twice again. She felt his release; as it came in hot spurts coating her on the inside. He moaned, calling her name, squeezing her neck. She felt his fingers press into bone along her hip. He fell forward, his large body covering hers as they both gasped for breath.

Her arms fell forward; her hands landed on the broad expanse of his back. She moved underneath him, straining to be released. His hot lips kissed her neck. He moved his hand away, seeing where he'd squeezed her too roughly. He kissed her there then lifted himself onto his elbows.

She wouldn't look at him, still. She turned her head away, pushing at his shoulders, wiggling beneath him. He trailed a hand along her leg, bending it to the side as he pulled out of her. She grimaced at the pain of his removal, but welcomed the opportunity to put herself back together. He slid his body alongside hers. He turned her face toward his, caught her cool stare. She breathed noisily. He caressed her cheek, bringing his face closer to hers. He kissed her soft and slow, slipping his tongue inside. Her mouth remained slack. She did not return the kiss. He pulled away and saw tears cascading down the side of her face. He licked her salty skin and she closed her eyes against his caress.

Suddenly, a beeping noise interrupted his "afterplay". He turned, reaching over the side of the bed until he found the comlink. He spoke into it, but she didn't hear what he said. Her blood continued to pound furiously through her veins. The sound muffled everything else. She sat up slowly. She was sore all over. Her legs felt like jelly as she stood and walked into the fresher. She wet a washcloth wiping away the residue of his lovemaking from the inside of her legs.

The door slid open and he stood there fully clothed.

"Hurry up and get dressed. I've got to get back."

She nodded and threw the cloth into the sink. She strode past him and began to put on her clothing. She had trouble fastening her shirt in back. She felt his hands as he fixed the attachment for her. They exited the room, walked down the stairs and out into the street. He hailed a cab, helping her inside. Her mind was blank. It wasn't ready to digest what she'd done, what she'd allowed to happen.

"Where can I drop you?" He asked, pressing a hand to the small of her back. They sat close. His other hand rested on her leg.

"Off." She replied.

"Off, where?" He answered. She turned her head. "The Gardens."

They sat in silence until they reached the side entrance to the Gardens. She opened her telecomm, calling Farnsworth. He watched her as she spoke into the phone, his hand never left her body; it rested along her waist. She couldn't look at him.

She placed the comm. inside of her bag. She could feel his gaze as it hit the side of her face. She swallowed not knowing what to say or think. She wouldn't feel comfortable until she sat inside the cab of Mumby's limo. As if on cue, Farnsworth pulled along the side. He got out and opened the door for her. She broke away from Xanatos's grasp and walked to the car. She felt him close on her heels.

"I will see you again, soon." He said to her back. She ignored him and stepped inside the vehicle. The door slid shut. Farnsworth took his place in the driver's seat and the car began to rise. She didn't look back, but she knew he stood there gazing at her departure. She pressed a button in the console, lifting the partition, giving her the privacy she needed. When the plexi-glass clicked into place she burst into tears.

Chapter 5

"I used the planet database to locate her address. I waited at her place and saw her get inside a car with a man. I was jealous; I am jealous of him because I want her but I can't have her the way I want to because I'm here."

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he saw himself sitting on a ledge in a canyon. A shaman shook a stick at him and threw gold dust on a campfire. A prairie dog howled into his ear; he felt the moisture come from the animal's breath.

"And today, when I let you out of the apartment, where did you go?"

"The Gardens, master. Just like you told me to."

"To meditate?"

Xanatos laughed. The prairie dog stood on its hind legs and danced around the fire. The shaman stood and walked over to him. He placed a string of bones around his neck. The man smiled and Xan recognized him as his father.

"No." He laughed again. The flames in the fire surged with energy. A strong wind blew out of the East.

"What did you do, Xan?"

He turned, hearing the voice so close to his ear. It was she; she knelt beside him. Her hand tangled in his hair; she stroked his scalp and he closed his eyes to the soothing gesture.

"I subdued her and took her away."

He moaned low in his throat. She'd moved behind him and had begun to massage his shoulders. He looked to the sky and saw meteors blaze across the heavens.

"Took her away?" Qui-Gon's voice prompted.

"Yes. We were together for a time, then you called me to come back here to this dreadful place."

"Dreadful?"

"Yes."

"How so?"

"You took me from my father, my family, my riches…her."

The hands on his back stopped in their movement. The fire died down and the air grew still.

"You resent us, me, for doing this to you…" He implied.

"Very much so, master."

He stared into the dying embers feeling utterly alone. A slow throb in the back of his head began to beat a soft cadence. He didn't like the pain. Suddenly his stomach churned and bubbled. He bent over beginning to dry-heave. His eyes burned and leaked water. He felt himself thrown into the dirt. There he lay in fetal position with stomach clenching and body rocking from the spasms of pain.

He tossed and turned waking to find himself in his bed. Disorientation came over him and the pounding in his head did not cease. He sat up threw his legs over the side and ignored the wave of nausea come over him. He felt his forehead; he was feverish.

He heard voices in the living room. He stood slowly and shuffled to his door. He listened.

"Send him away, you must. Test his loyalty, this trip will. The only way to save him, we can."

"Yes, Master."

Send me away? But where? He thought. The door to the apartment opened and closed. He listened. The rain had started up again.

"You can come out now, Xan." Qui-Gon called.

He stumbled into the main room and collapsed on the sofa. Qui-Gon wouldn't look at him; rather he fumbled with his lightsaber. Xanatos's lightsaber.

"What's going on?" He asked.

Qui-Gon sighed heavily. "The council has decided to send you on a mission."

"Me? You're not coming?"

Rather than answer his question directly, Qui-Gon took a seat opposite him. He carefully laid the lightsaber on the table. It sounded noisily into the quiet of space as chrome steel met the glass top.

"No. This mission…" He replied slowly. "…Is for you alone."

"Why?"

"To test your loyalty to this order. Do you remember coming in tonight?"

Xanatos thought about it. He remembered being with Tam earlier; seeing her off at the platform on the edge of the Gardens. Everything else was a bit of a blur.

"I assume I came in and went to sleep."

"No."

What? He shook his head trying to clear his muddled mind.

"You were with fever. I called a healer to give you a concoction of herbs to drink to reduce the temperature. You did a lot of talking."

Oh, f_ck. What all did he say? Vaguely he remembered the scene from the desert and the voice in the background asking him questions.

"Did you drug me?" He asked, voice and temper rising.

"No. You were babbling non-stop when you walked through the door, before we gave you the medicine."

He rested his head in his hands.

"As soon as you are well, you will be sent to Telos."

His head shot up at the mention of his home. Qui-Gon continued, "The Order is being very lenient with you Xan. By your own admission, you've done some horrible things these past couple of days."

"Why Telos?"

"It's your home."

"But…" He began.

Qui-Gon raised his hand, motioning for silence. "It is decided, Xan. I suggest you get back to bed. You yet suffer from the fever; we wouldn't want a relapse to occur." Qui smiled briefly before standing and leaving the room for his own quarters. It was too much for Xan to process at the moment. His head continued to throb. He walked back inside his room and fell into bed. They were practically kicking him out. He smiled. Even as he tossed and turned the rest of the night he smiled. When he woke in the morning, he would have to remember to wipe the silly grin from his face.

*********************************************************************

Two days later her body remained sore. Mumby had returned from his trip off-planet. He entered the flat screaming into his telecomm. Farnsworth shuffled along behind him carrying his luggage.

She lay on the couch snuggled into a blanket. He lowered his voice, leaned over, kissed her on the lips and headed to the bedroom. She flicked channels on the holonet, searching for something interesting to watch. Really she needed a distraction. Farnsworth left an hour earlier to pick him up at the port. She took a hot bath, moisturized her body, fixed her makeup and hair, and put on the dumpiest, most unflattering pair of pajamas she could find.

He continued to yell into his phone. She heard him undressing. Something fell and she heard the shower door open and close. She sighed. She liked him a lot. She told him almost everything about Xanatos before. But she didn't mention his stunt in the bathroom and she certainly wouldn't mention the other night.

After a few minutes the shower stalled and he strode up the hall into the media room. She felt his approach before he entered. Turning she saw him wrapped in a towel and fumbling with his telecomm.

"Everything okay?" She asked quietly.

"No. Everything's not okay." He answered tersely. "I think I broke my phone." He threw on the table and motioned for her to move over. He climbed under the covers, arms instantly taking hold of her around the waist. He hugged her to him, resting his head in her lap. She smiled. He was so adorable sometimes. She ran her fingers through his hair, stroking his scalp.

"You smell good." He mumbled.

"So do you." She returned.

They were quiet for a moment. "What are you watching?" He asked, breaking the silence. "Holovid." She replied. "About what?" He asked again. "It's about a couple breaking up."

He lifted turned his head in her lap. "You're not going to break up with me are you?"

She smiled at him, stroking his hair. "No…" She bent and kissed the tip of his nose. "Don’t worry, it's a comedy. They get together in the end."

"Good." He sighed. "I'm so f_cking tired." He closed his eyes and she continued to rub his head. Soon, he was asleep and she continued to watch the video on the screen. But her thoughts were not with it. Should she go? Leave him now? Leave this place, this planet? Mumby was good to her. She really needed to think things through.

She laid her head back on the sofa, letting her mind work through her worries subconsciously as she too fell into sleep.

Awhile later, the doorbell rang. She started, lifting her head, wiping sleep from her eyes. The screen displayed snow. She reached for the remote, careful not to wake Mumby from his slumber. She flicked the monitor off; Mumby turned in her lap squeezing her tighter. Too tight. Her bladder was full; she had to use the fresher. Carefully, she slid from his grasp. He rolled over on the couch, stretching his long legs then settling once again into the cushions.

She met Farnsworth in the hall. They almost bumped into one another. He handed her a telegram then walked away. It was addressed to her. Funny. No one knew she was here, no one except Eve-6. A strong foreboding came over her. She tried to ignore it as she took care of business in the bathroom. After washing her hands, she took the envelope to the patio. She sat on a bench under the eave and opened the letter.

Tam,

The time has come. I must see you again. I have good news and I want to share it with you in person. Meet me tonight down at the docks at 8 p.m.

Please do not be angry with me. We have something very special together,

something more special than what you share with this Mumby fellow. If you

do not show, I will have no choice but to come and collect you. Until,

tonight.

¾X

She dropped the letter to the ground. Two days, two days since "the incident" and she’d managed not to think about it or him. "We have something special together." There was nothing special about "them". She felt on the verge of tears, but instead of giving in to bouts of crying, she reached for her pack of smokes and lit one up. Inhaling deeply on the nicotine, she pondered a way to get out of this. A trip? She and Mumby could go off-planet somewhere. But he just got back; he wouldn’t want to travel so soon afterwards. Even if she left the house, Xanatos would still come looking for her, possibly telling Mumby of their liaison on the other night.

Drat! She felt like such a cheater. Really, she felt helpless. What could she do? He’s a Jedi. How could she trick him? How could she get him to permanently leave her alone? The other night was the first time in her adult life that she’d ever made love to "crazy". He would want that again; and she wasn’t strong enough to refuse him. Even as she sat, she felt her knees go weak thinking of him inside her. Squeezing her thighs together, she felt her muscles yet sore and stiff. He’d break her in half if she were with him again.

She sucked, inhaled and exhaled on the menthol, finding herself disappointed that it was almost gone. She extinguished the light in a nearby pot and reached for the letter. She lit a match and lit the corner, watching the flame grow as it engulfed the paper. It was halfway burnt when the door behind her slid open. She waved the paper, willing it to burn faster.

"What are you doing?"

She turned moving the paper out of sight. "Oh, just having a smoke." She gave him her best smile.

"That doesn’t smell like a filter. What are you…"

"Ouch!" The flame licked at her fingers. Out of instinct, she threw what remained of the charred document to the ground, using the sole of her fuzzy bunny slippers to pat it out.

"You okay?" He came up beside her, placing a hand on her back while peering down at the ground. "What were you doing?"

"Oh, just burning a piece of paper."

"Why? What was it?"

"A bill. I had my mail forwarded here."

"Don’t they usually send those electronically?" He squatted next to her, reaching for her smokes.

"Yeah…but you know me, I like the real thing." She offered. It sounded like a lame excuse even to her ears. He stared at her curiously then asked, "Is there something you want to tell me?"

"About what?"

"About that paper." He pointed.

"It was a bill, that’s all." Again she smiled, praying he wouldn’t press the issue further.

"You know I can take care of that for you."

"Take care of what?"

"That." He pointed again and laughed. "Your bills."

Did he really believe her?

"No. It’s all right. That was just a notification saying the account has been paid in full. I took care of it before I quit my job."

He sucked on the filter, eyes not believing her. Or was she reading him wrong, again?

"I’m going to go back inside now." She stood and with her left foot, kicked at the paper hoping for the breeze to catch it and cart it off over the ledge.

"I’ll be in, in a minute." He stood, towering over her. She smiled. "Okay." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and scurried inside the house.

She dared not look back. She didn’t want to see him standing there holding the half-burnt piece of paper in his hand. Please don’t look at it; paper, please just blow away, she prayed.

He found her later inside their walk-in closet. She was selecting the most unappealing outfit for her journey to the docks tonight. If she dressed like a hobo, maybe Xanatos would be less likely to press her for sex. She thought it, but didn’t believe it. She could wear a shrubbery and he’d still try to pounce on her. Because "she was his", she mimicked, while rolling her eyes in disdain.

"Who’s X?"

F_ck. She put the hanger she held back on the rack and turned.

"What did you say, babe?"

"I said, who’s X?" He held what remained of the letter in his hand. From what she could see, most of the message had been eaten away by the flame. Just the letters "Un-" and "X" remained.

"Why are you holding that?" She gestured to his raised hand.

"I was curious…it didn’t blow away, so I picked it up and read it while I finished my smoke." He finished darkly. F_ck, f_ck, f_ck, she thought.

She placed her hands on her hips, immediately going into defensive mode.

"It’s the name of the company, I guess." She shrugged.

"You guess?" He held it up to the light. "Tam, The time has come…" Her eyes grew three sizes larger. How much was left?

"Is that the usual jargon for a collection agency, I wonder?"

"Why are you making such a big deal out of this?" She walked to him and yanked the letter from his hand. She began tearing it into shreds. "Listen, I’ll have the post re-forward my mail to another address, if this is going to happen every time I receive something."

She threw the pieces into the air and they fell like snowflakes around her face. He reached for her, holding her loosely about the waist.

"I’m sorry. I…I just want to take care of that kinda stuff for you. Alpha male complex or something…" He mumbled. "Just don’t keep anything from me, okay?"

She wanted to call him on that last statement but decided it was best to leave well enough alone. So she nodded, giving him the big, puppy-dog eyes. She kissed him slow and soft, bringing her arms up around his neck. "Okay."

"So…what were you looking for in here?"

Just what was it with all the questions? "Something to wear tonight." She pulled away from him and turned back to her clothes.

"You’ll be with me all night. You don’t have to wear anything at all." He joked. He settled a hand on her back and began moving his fingers against her in small circles. She tensed at his touch.

"Actually, I’m going out with Eve-6."

"When were you going to tell me? I thought we’d check out the competition tonight. There’s this great club called Club Shiznit in the Red Light District."

"Sorry. This is girl’s night out." She turned, giving him a wink, then turned back to her wardrobe.

He was quiet for a moment. His hand stopped moving.

"With Eve, huh?"

She swallowed. "Ummmhmmm." She moved racks back and forth. This was ridiculous. She was being ridiculous! She liked him. But why was he so damn suspicious sometimes?

"Well…" His hand traveled to her hip and he moved behind her. "Maybe…" He kissed her on the neck. "You can meet up with me…" He kissed her again, both hands hugging her hips, pulling her rear closer to him. "Later…" His fingers slipped beneath the waistband of her pajama bottoms. Slowly, one hand pulled the material down over her behind, while the other reached around the front, sliding in between her legs. She sighed at his touch.

Damn. Her hands found the bar holding up the clothes. She grasped at it and opened her legs a little wider. She gasped as his palm covered her, fingers teasing her moistness. She felt him moving behind her, undoing the towel that he still wore from his shower earlier. His sex sprang free and she felt the turgid member press against her backside. She leaned forward, pushing her ass closer to him. He grasped her hip as he shoved his length inside her.

"F_ck" He groaned.

F_ck, indeed. She decided that he was insatiable when it came to her. In spite of her soreness, she allowed him this reprieve; anything to soothe over the doubt she read in his eyes.

He began to piston out of her with long, hard thrusts. His head fell against her back as he groaned and moaned and called her name. His fingers found her center and swirled against the tiny knot of sensitized flesh vigorously. She grasped the bar, hangers cutting into the skin of her hand as she gripped tighter and tighter. She closed her eyes and listened to him swear after every time he called her name. His fingers continued their tortuous raid. Soon she felt the muscles inside quiver and shake. She yelled his name as she came, loving the sounds he made. It never took her long to come; it seemed her body was always ready. His hand fell away and grasped her hips as he pounded his way to release. He yelped loudly, his body hot and moist, as he gripped her tightly, shuddering in ecstasy.

Slowly she opened her eyes. He pulled out of her, placing a hot, sticky hand upon her back as he reached for his towel and wrapped it around him once again. She continued to hold to the bar, not trusting herself to move just yet. She felt him pull on her bottoms, lifting them up over her battered behind. His hand traveled around, squeezing her breast. He leaned in to kiss her. She half-heartedly returned the kiss as she struggled to catch her breath.

"I’m gonna get something to eat. I’ll leave you to get ready for your "Girl’s Night Out"."

She nodded her head, missing his touch as he pulled his hands away. She stood in the closet, in the same position for a short while longer. She could not seem to recover. He’d f_cked her as if he had a point to prove. Her gaze landed on the pieces of paper on the floor. Slowly, she released her cramped hands from their hold on the bar. She pulled them away and held them up to the light. Some of the wire racks had cut into her skin. She flexed her hands and bent, picking up the scraps. She gathered them together, balling them up. Entering the bath, she threw them into the wastebasket. There were spots of blood on the pieces. And as she ran a hot bath, the sense of foreboding returned clouding her mind, her actions, her thoughts and her mood.

**********************************************************************

The dock was rarely used anymore. Since most transport moved via aircraft through the skies and most of the trade took place off-world, it was deserted, except for a few stragglers here and there. Platform 47-X. It was the one closest to where the shipping yards began. He'd forgotten to include mention this specific pier, so he waited nearby the transport drop-off for her to arrive.

Above him, the sign labeling this particular pier creaked and sighed in the breeze. Waves breaking against the shore, cries from seagulls and howls from the older ships in the distance all settled together, forming a muffled sound amidst the foggy night. Clouds passed moons overhead, smearing their darkness across the white orbs. Wafts of wind from the ocean caressed his face. Moisture settled upon the surface of his skin giving his pale complexion a luminescent glow. His eyes sparkled violet, tearing over as he shivered against the cold.

He waited for her, arriving early, anticipating seeing her again. He was certain she would come. She had to. The mild threat he placed in the letter would ensure her arrival. He turned at the sound of a transport pulling along the embankment. A lone figure stepped down from the hulking mass and descended onto the platform. It was she. His heart beat his pleasure at seeing her here. He took long strides, walking briskly, arms falling to his sides as he strode towards her.

She wore a long black coat. Her hair was pulled against her scalp in an array of elaborate twists and braids. She was beautiful. He stopped in front of her, smiling brightly. Her hazel eyes simmered in the moonlight. He reached his hand to her face, stroking the smoothness of her cheek.

"You came."

"I didn't have much of choice, did I?" She looked down and away. Was she afraid to look at him? He lifted her face to his and smiled.

"No. No, you didn't."

He leaned in, pressing his mouth upon hers. He kissed her softly, gently prying her lips apart. She did not pull away from him. Nimbly, she returned his kiss, touching her tongue to his own. He slid his other hand along her arm, down her back and to her waist. He couldn't feel her; the weight of the coat was too thick.

He broke the kiss, asking, "Why are you wearing this? It's too big for you." He observed, pulling on the sleeves, moving his hands to the buttons at her neck. She grasped his hands, stopping him.

"I was cold." She pulled his hands away. "Why did you call me here?"

He gave her a look. "Why did I call you here." He repeated. "I think you know why."

"I'm not in the mood." She stepped away from him, walking along the wooded pier. He came up behind her, pulling her against him. "But I am." He declared. He reached around and grabbed her hand. There was a small dwelling built on the end of the pier. It hovered over the ocean, supported only by metal bars embedded into the embankment. She didn't resist him, rather she shuffled alongside him as his legs were longer and his strides greater.

Arriving at the door, he slid a keycard through the lock. The door popped open and he pulled her through. He released her hand, walking over to a light-table situated in the center of the room. Using the Force, he motioned the table on and the light cast a blue illumination throughout the room. He turned on her, finding her near the door with a look of fear and anticipation highlighting her face. He shuffled the outer layer of his robes off and laid them on the floor.

"Come here." He ordered quietly. She placed her hand on the door as if to leave. "Tam…" He prompted again, becoming annoyed. She knew what he wanted. Why was she being so difficult about things? He decided to take a more subtle approach. He ran a hand through his silky locks and smiled at her softly. "I just want to…talk." She didn't trust him he could sense it.

"I'm not in the mood, Xan. Why don't you just tell me what you have to tell me so I can go."

He strode towards her and pulled her away from the door, locking it. He turned and she stumbled against the table. He turned on her, angry.

"Take off your clothes."

"No. I f_cking told you I'm not in the mood!" She yelled back at him. Impressive. She was almost as bullheaded as he. With a wave of his hand, he extinguished the light. He heard her gasp, could sense her fear as he approached her. Light from the moon filtered in through the small cubbyhole. He pushed her back onto the table, pulling at the fastenings on the coat.

"I own you or have you forgotten?"

"You don't own sh_t, now get off me." She struggled beneath him, pushing against his body. He pulled the coat open wide and was taken aback by what he saw.

"Not in the mood, huh?" His hand trailed over the lace and ribbon corset. Her hands stopped their assault against him. "It's not for you." She replied.

"Who then? That idiot clubowner you're with?"

She didn't reply. The corset covered the top of her body; below she wore a pair of skin-tight leather pants complete with black heels. She kicked at him, almost striking him in the groin. He held her legs, pushing down the weight of his body on top of her. Her eyes flared; he felt the heat of her breath on his face.

"You do like it rough, don't you?" He grinned.

She turned away, not looking at him.

"I want you to leave me alone." She huffed.

"I can't."
"Why not."

He ignored this last question, opting instead to let up on her. She moved underneath him, sighing with defeat.

"I'm leaving tomorrow, Tam."

"Good."

"I want to take you with me."

"That's not going to happen."

He trailed a finger along the side of her face. "I thought you'd say that. I tell you what." He leaned back, grabbing at her boots. Slowly he pulled them off one at a time.

"I'll send for you, once I'm settled." He ran a hand along the inside of her leg, pulling it up her thigh. He found the waistband of her pants and began to tug down. Her hands settled over his.

"No." She warned.

"Yes." He ordered.

He shook her hands from his, and commenced to pull the taut material of her pants her legs. She didn't wear this sexy getup for nothing. She knew this would happen. He grinned wickedly as tugged on the silky constraints of her pantaloons. He pulled her to the edge of the table; she lay back gazing up at him.

"You leave tomorrow?" She asked.

He nodded yes as he began to stroke his fingers along the material covering her mound.

"Will you leave me alone after this?"

"No." He continued to stroke and was pleased as he saw her body move against him. "I told you, I'm coming back for you."

"Did they kick you out of the Order or something?" She raised her legs, propping her feet on the edge of the table. He continued to stroke her, slipping some fingers underneath, sliding them just inside her heat. She gasped aloud. She lifted her pelvis against his hand and he was flabbergasted at how wonton she acted.

"Yes..." He said distracted by her movements. She sat up and pulled him against her.

"You're going back to Telos?" She asked. He gasped aloud as he felt her open the fastening to his pants. He nodded, mouth open, breath harsh and heavy.

"Are you going to stay there?" Have mercy. She had him. Her soft hand stroked him hard. He leaned over her, hands holding himself upright. He moaned and bit into her shoulder as her strokes became more insistent.

"Good. There's something I want you to do for me, Xan." Her other hand reached under massaging his balls. He almost came right then, instead he continued to move against her. No one, except for himself, had touched him this way in a long time.

She continued to manipulate him into jelly. Outside, thunder began to roll and the rains fell once again.

"I want you to…" She pulled on him harder; he grasped her waist for balance. He needed to touch her somehow while she loved him. Her tongue slid into his ear and he moaned, feeling his knees weaken.

"What, what do you want?" He whispered hoarsely, on the verge of tears. She worked him so good it hurt.

She increased the pace; her other hand slid around to his backside. Lightly, she stroked a finger along the cleft of his ass. This was his undoing. He yelled and shot hot essence against her corset and along her inner thighs. She continued to pull from him all he had. He moaned and felt a tear escape his eye.

"I…want…you…to leave me the f_ck alone." She pulled on him hard and all he saw was the white light of pain. He fell away from her onto the floor, cupping his genitalia as he rolled. Red-hot fury engulfed him; he sent waves of Force-energy through the air. But he was too late. She was already gone. He sobbed and his sobs turned into laughter. F_cking bitch. He'd get her back. She did make him come hard, though. He lay on the floor as the pain subsided. Soon, he was asleep with no light; only darkness and the steady fall of rain left to soothe him.

 

**********************************************************************

"…Fifty-five credits, please."

Tam sat in the back of the aircab, almost asleep. Vaguely she heard the digitized voice of the cabbie. She was thankful the driver was a droid and not human. After running from the shack, naked from the waist down, while clutching her pants and coat and boots to her chest, she ran and ran, barefoot in the rain, through the deserted district. She'd just reached the end of the pier before she felt the sturdy structure shake violently. She didn't know what Xanatos had done to elicit such force; she was grateful she escaped in time unscathed.

She sat up, looked around. Yes, she was home. Digging in her coat pocket, she extracted her card and swiped the appropriate amount. The droid muffled an emotionless "thank you" and waited while she exited the car. She could feel the leather of her pants shrink against her legs. After hopping into the cab, she'd pulled them on. They were sopping wet and her feet, her feet bled from the friction of running along harsh surfaces. There were stains of blood on the floorboard of the cab.

Tenderly, she stepped onto the smooth concrete of the platform. The cab rose behind her and took off into the night sky. She tiptoed across the flagstone yet clutching her boots and coat. The rain came in drizzles. She could smell the sour flavor of stagnate water in her hair. As she approached the house, she realized it was yet early and knew that Mumby wouldn't be home for hours. Her stomach rumbled and a bout of nausea swept over her. She slid the keycard, releasing the door and stepped inside.

In the bedroom, she stripped, pulling off the corset she wore with the evidence of Xanatos's essence staining the sky blue fabric. The nausea hit her again as she lowered the lacy underwear she wore to the floor. She steadied herself with a hand reaching out to the edge of the bed. Slowly, she stood again and walked towards the bath. She sat along the edge, running the water and pouring in oil. The pungent smell of citrus and vanilla sent a jolt of dizziness through her head. Her stomach turned and she struggled, running to the toilet, feeling herself on the verge of throwing up.

And she did. It was mostly water, as she had not eaten anything. She sat over the toilet until she remembered the running water from the bath. Sluggishly she pulled herself to and walked to the tub. The smells were not as strong now. The nausea lay dormant, but there was no threat of its return, so she lowered herself and her sore, scarred feet into the hot bath. Just where did this nausea come from?

She lay there with a wet washcloth covering her eyes. She replayed her recent rendezvous with Xanatos. It would be the last time she saw him; she couldn't stand to two-time Mumby. He wouldn't understand the mind-tricks Xan played on her; or was it all really "tricks"?

She squeezed her legs together in remembrance and groaned aloud. Maybe she did come from a family of pleasure slaves. Maybe it was something genetically instilled in her. She and Mumby went at it like rabbits; her stamina was otherworldly almost. And with Xan, he hadn't forced her exactly and she hadn't let him play with her mind…

But how could she believe a stranger telling her he owned her? It'd be like her walking up to a Republic Senator and telling him or her that she was solely responsible for their appointment. The notion was just as ridiculous with Xan's claim. Still, he hadn't forced her. And when he was inside of her…it felt right. Inside of her… Oh, sh_t. She sat up quickly as another strain of nausea hit her again. She didn't make it to the toilet this time; rather she spewed on the floor next to the tub. It was liquid again, and then a series of dry heaves claimed her.

Many minutes later, she opened her eyes, sat back in the tub and groaned. Not at the nausea or the dry heaving, but at the core of her predicament. Pregnant? And it's Xan's. It has to be. Silently she counted back the days since her last cycle. She remembered the night he warmed her stomach. Something happened there. She'd been on for one day, and then he touched her and no more after that. F_ck, she thought. Slowly she began to wash her body. Her eyes openly shed tears; she did not move to wipe them. Pregnant. F_ck, she thought again. With great care, she used an old bath towel and cleaned up the mess. She couldn't risk Farnsworth taking care of this; she didn't want Mumby to know. His loyalty to his employer would require him to mention this.

She took the towel and the corset and underwear and walked to the living room. There she ignited the fireplace and watched the items burn. As she stoked the fire, she let her hand rest on her stomach. F_ck, there it is. She pressed her lower stomach and felt a firmness that she hadn't noticed before. As the items continued to burn away, she settled herself comfortably into the sofa. She pulled a chenille throw about her body, lowered the lights and closed her eyes against everything and everyone.

********************************************************************

After tossing and turning for a time, she rose from the couch and made her way to the bed. Mumby still wasn't home. It was late, too late for him to be out for so long. She pulled back the covers, shrugged off her robe, lay in bed and tried not to worry about him or about the baby. Tomorrow, she promised herself. Tomorrow she'd go to the doctor's and get checked out. Then she could decide if she needed to worry anymore.

Suddenly, a crash sounded against the front of the house. She sat up in bed, heart beginning to race as she struggled to pull back the covers and rise. As she slid on her slippers, the nausea caught hold to her once again. She fell back to the bed willing her churning stomach to calm itself. The noise sounded again. This time, it was more of a thumping noise, someone beating against the door. Instant fear engulfed her, as she thought of Xanatos lying naked and prostrate and furious with her inside the small shack.

She heard Farnsworth yelling, "Just a minute, just a minute." There was more mumbled talk as the door slid open and closed again. She could do nothing but sit in the dark, afraid to stand, to move.

"F_cking hell, what took you so long Farny?"

"Why, sir, I was asleep…"

"Be faster next time, alright?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is she here? Where is she?"

"I do believe she is asleep. Perhaps you should lower your voice, sir."

"What the f_ck? Lower my? Where was she tonight, Farnsworth?"

"Why sir, she is your lady friend after all, why don't you wait and ask her…in the morning."

"F_ck that. I'm asking her now. F_ck…take this will you."
"Yes, sir."

"And go back to bed. I don't f_cking pay you to follow me around."

"Actually…"

"Go to bed!"

Tam caught this exchange as Mumby and Farnsworth made their way up the hall. What the hell was wrong with him? She'd never heard him harp on Farnsworth like this. The door to the bedroom swished open. He stood there; his body-silhouette teemed with vibrant tension. He palmed the light on. She sat on the bed, legs to the side looking as she did before she got up and fell down again.

"Where are you going?" He asked quietly.

"I heard a lot of noise…I was about to come see…" He cut her off with a wave of his hand. He looked horrible. His face was pale, and he was sweating. His clothing, normally neat in appearance, pulled at his body as if trying to escape. Overall, he looked disheveled. His nose, as she looked closer, was red and puffy. He walked further into the room, pulling at his jacket. He wiped his nose and sniffled; there were traces of blood on the sleeve.

"So, where'd you go tonight?"

"Out." She responded shortly. He sat on the opposite side of the bed, facing away from her. He removed his shoes and she reached out to grab at the jacket he'd thrown onto the bed inspecting the small speckles of red.

"Out where, Tam."

"With Eve-6. I told you."

"Try again." He stood up facing her, pulling at his tie as he gave her a pointed stare.

"Wh-what?" F_ck. Her heart raced.

"I saw Eve-6 tonight. I asked her about your "Girl's Night Out" and she knew nothing…said she hadn't spoken to you since you quit your job at the shipping company." He walked to the dresser pulling off the few pieces of jewelry he wore. He stared at her in the mirror. "So, I ask again, where did you go?"

Oh, gods. Think! She turned away from him and tried standing again. This time, the nausea didn't reach her. Think! What do I say?

"I canceled." She offered. He lifted an eyebrow as she walked toward him. "I mean, I planned the evening, but I never called her. I didn't feel good, so I changed my mind."

"So, what did you do?" He asked quietly, reaching for the button on his trousers.

"I stayed here…fell asleep on the couch." She plastered a convincing smile on her face, although she wasn't sure if he believed her. "I waited up for you." Reaching out, she turned him and began to unbutton his shirt.

He regarded her with suspicion in his gaze. Again he sniffed and wiped at his nose. He broke away from her leaving her with hands holding air. He shuffled out of his shirt, popping buttons, which flew across the room and lowered his pants pulling away his side of the bedcovers as he stepped out of them.

He lay back in the bed, brazen in a heightened state.

"Get in." He ordered, his gaze never leaving her as she walked around the side of the bed and got in. Her stomach did a mini-flip-flop as he turned peering her in the eye. She faced him, not knowing what to say, but frantically, in her mind, coming up with the next lie she would tell him. "Turn off the lights."

His hand slid up her thigh and around. He squeezed her backside, pulling her closer. The city lights streaking through the window blinds cast a ghastly appearance on his face.

"Are you telling me the truth?" His hand reached her face and he pulled her closer. She could smell the liquor on his breath. There were traces of white powder and dried blood inside his nose.

"Yes." She replied giving him her most innocent gaze. He smiled, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. He wanted to say something, she could tell. She saw the accusation lying in those brown orbs of his. She wasn't ready for this inquisition. Either she'd waylay him, using her charms or she'd turn the questioning on him and his late-night antics. Her stomach flopped again and she felt a rush a heat suffuse her body. Small droplets of sweat coated her brow, giving her skin a light sheen. Mumby mistook this for arousal. He moved over her, pushing her deeper into the bed. Again, he sniffed and wiped his nose on the back of his hand. The other hand reached the tail end of her long nightgown and began pulling it up. The silky material slid up her legs as Mumby's heated body settled between them.

"I love you. You know that, right?"

She nodded, mentally prepping her body for this bout of lovemaking. She prayed that her stomach held up against his thrusts. Without thought, she swept her hand between them rubbing her naked tummy, silently apologizing to the unborn child.

"…But lately, there are some things with you that just don't add up. You tell me one thing, you do another; you don't show up when you tell me you will. I almost went another way tonight, but I couldn't 'cause I kept thinking of you and when I saw Eve-6 I knew something was up. You haven't told me everything about you, have you? Like that Jedi…did something more happen that you're not telling me?"

He continued to ramble while spreading her legs wide with one hand and harshly grasping her breast with the other. His face was all she could see. He sniffed so hard, a vein of blood escaped along the skin of his mouth. He kissed her roughly and she tasted the metallic flavor of it. His hand found her and he thrust his fingers inside. She pushed her hands against his body, moving him away; but his fingers increased their exploration, thrusting and twisting leaving her chafed and dried on the inside.

"Stop it, Mumby!" Her hands beat against his chest. His legs pressed down on hers; she couldn't move.

"Stop what? You want this. Or don't you?" Roughly he pulled his fingers from her. She sighed relief. She could feel his blood streaking along her face. He leaned down and licked it away, grinning as he did so. He placed a hand in the small of her back, lifting her as he pushed himself inside. She cried out. If he heard her, he didn't show it. He began moving in and out, pushing her further into the bed. His head hovered over her. His movements were slow and painful.

She cried, tears running like water down the sides of her face.

"Stop it, Mumby…" She pleaded.

He slowed enough to partially focus his eyes and stare into her face. "Why?" He asked indignantly.

"You're being too rough! Don't you see me crying here, f_cking hell!"

"Too rough? How?" He moved inside her slowly and she keened.

"Mumby, I…" She turned her head, her hands falling from his shoulders. She covered her eyes with an arm and refused to look at him. She winced in pain at each small movement he made.

"What?" He moved again. He couldn't tell. He didn't notice. She was dry and he couldn't feel it.

"I think I might be pregnant." He sat up on his hands, pushing back from her. She exhaled, grateful for the small rush of air between their hot bodies. He reached over and palmed the light. He sat heavy and hard inside her; his breath was labored as he regarded her.

"Pregnant?" He asked quietly.

She nodded, still not looking at him. She felt his hand brush against her as he pulled out. It burned, sensitive flesh moving against sensitive flesh. He lay down next to her, propping his head up on his hand. With the other hand he pulled away her arm from her face. He turned her towards him. She still couldn't look at him.

"You know for sure?"

"No. I just think I am. I've been nauseated and dizzy."

"When did it start?"

"Today. Tonight. And that's why I didn't show up at your place." She offered quickly, hoping he believed her.

He seemed to. "Well, we've never used anything have we?"

"No." She replied softly.

He leaned in and gave her soft kisses all over her face.

"I'm sorry about being an ass."
She looked at him; his eyes were kind. She detected no resentment or mistrust there.

"I'm sorry if I, you know…" He gestured with his head toward her spread legs.

"It's okay." She smiled and they regarded one another with a steady gaze. He was so adorable. Could she love him? Would she love him?

His hand traveled down her chest and settled on her stomach. He looked at it then back at her and smiled. Another rivulet of blood escaped his left nostril.

"You're bleeding." She pointed out, hoping that he would explain this particular ailment.

"Oh, yeah." He looked as if he'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. His face flushed a deep red. Did he expect her not to notice? Again, did he think her that naïve?

"I'm gonna go to the bathroom and take care of this…" He referred to his bleeding nose, but she figured he'd handle himself while in there. It was just as well; she was not in the mood at all.

"Okay. Just don't take too long…I may have to throw up again and I'd rather not do it in here."

He slid out of the bed, and walked through the door. Before it slid shut, he turned and said, "Look, I'm really sorry about…" She smiled, sparing him the embarrassment of a full verbal apology. His actions were enough; she knew he was genuine. He was just out of his head. How often did he do that stuff?

"I want to go with you…to the doctor's, when you go." He offered.

"Okay." She cut him off then smiled, motioning toward his lower half. He blushed again and stepped through the door.

She lay back on the bed, pulling her gown down. Her innards burned. It wasn't that he was rough (not really); it's just that her body wasn't ready. In all of his ramblings he did make a valid point. He'd said he felt she wasn't totally honest with him about everything. She felt things were the opposite, that is, up until lately. He only told her so much about himself, but wavered when it came to his business and offworld activities. She was open and honest with him, answering all his queries about her life growing up on Nippur. She hadn't lied to him until now. And even now she didn't feel like she owed him that much allegiance. He told her he loved her, so he expected it. Still, she could not reciprocate his love in turn, at least not yet.

A shudder ran through her as she thought of her rendezvous earlier. Xanatos expected things of her, too. She played both of them. She realized this. But it hurt her heart the most when she thought of Mumby. Turning on her side she curled her legs to her body and clutched lightly at her stomach. Now she was about to bring another party into this twisted mess. Should she? A small voice whispered another possibility. Quickly, she pushed it from her mind. She fell into a light sleep and it only settled deeper when she felt Mumby rest against her, his warm body provided a comfort she'd been missing for a long time.

**********************************************************************

So, this must be why he likes the rain so much. Ever since landing foot on Telos, it rained constantly. The people seemed accustomed to it. The sidewalks were built with overhangs stretching from building to street. Even the citizens' clothing seemed to be made of waterproof materials. And all of their shoes were rubber or something like it. He waited in front of the aerial transport hanger. His summons said a guide would be waiting there to pick him up. He stood tall, wearing his finest robes. He favored black, but as an apprentice his robes were of the standard brown and tan colors. Before leaving, he stopped and purchased new robes from a downtown vendor. He also purchased a couple of trinkets. Jedi-ism forbade wearing flashy jewelry; and because he considered himself estranged from the Order, he opted for a couple of chains and three rings, all silver. They gleamed even in the mottled light of the rainy Telosian afternoon.

The people shuffled around him, some stopping to stare openly at the curious-looking foreigner. He regarded their stares with disdain, meeting their eyes and giving them a gentle push with his mind instructing them to stop ogling and to move along. One figure, a short delicate looking man, approached holding a large datapad. He wore a maroon velvet tunic embroidered with seals and patchwork. There was a gold tassel hanging from his hat. In his other hand he held a large parasol, too big for himself. As Xanatos prepared to mind-push him across the street, the gentleman stopped just short of him, clipped his heels together and bowed his head.

"Master Xanatos. Welcome home. I am Augustus Virune, your father's assistant."

Xanatos regarded this odd looking page thoughtfully. "Pleased to meet you." He mumbled in reply.

"Oh no, the pleasure is all mine. We have been anticipating your return for quite some time. Now, if you will follow me, I have our transport waiting just beyond that curve. He pointed down the street. "We will have to cross. I have this parasol to protect you from the rains." He gestured upwards.

"That won't be necessary." Xanatos replied as he moved the hood of his robe over his head. His eyes burned a brilliant violet as he met with the dumbfounded stares of the citizenry.

"Very well." The little man turned on his hill and began a steady march across the street. Xanatos followed him, pulling his baggage behind. The streets were exceptionally narrow. When they rounded the curve, he understood why the page did not collect him at the entrance. The aircraft was huge. They approached the transport. Telosians all around stopped and gaped at the newcomer as he climbed inside the hovering vehicle. The page placed his baggage in the rear and sat up front with the driver. The ship began a slow ascension as it lifted itself into the lower atmosphere. The ride was smooth and the inside of the vehicle was luxurious; the reminder of all this extravagance reminded him of his father. He felt his stomach flutter at the thought of seeing his him again after all of these years. He opened a small door in the center console. Wow, a fully stocked bar, he thought. He poured himself a liberal amount of frothy blue liquor. He sipped at the strong substance, cherishing the warmth it brought as it slid down his throat and spread into his belly.

"Does this car belong to my father?" He asked the back of the page's head.

"Yes, sir, it does." The page turned slightly. "After you are settled in, you will be given your own private transport. Your father has already seen to it."

He took another sip of liquid, feeling a slow grin spread across his face. Silently he cursed Qui-Gon from taking him away from all this luxury. His own private car? To be used when and where he wanted? He shivered slightly at the thoughts racing through his head. As soon as he got a chance, he'd have to test out this back seat with a young tender. Young tender, he repeated to himself. He took another long swig of his cocktail and felt his rage give way as the liquid coated his insides. Tam, he thought. He almost hated her for what she did to him. It was embarrassing. He was a Jedi, with mind-control powers, but he didn't see that one coming. She shamed him. He had to get her back, both literally and figuratively.

"Augustus, I have a question."

The page turned to him, clicking off his datapad. "Yes, sir?"

"Is slavery legal here?"

"Yes and no." The young page hesitated.

"Yes and no?" He asked.

"Yes, right now it is a legal practice. It's one of the many things that set this planet apart from other Outer Rim planets. That and the fact that we are not affiliated with the Republic…at least not yet."

"Really." He replied, silently urging the page to go on.

"Yes, sir. The Republic has optioned us for our Zantium production, as well as the other mineral exports we produce. If we join them, they will want us to reform our laws. Your father and other Telosian officials refuse to fall prey to their manipulative clutches, opting instead to maintain the traditions of our planet and rely on the economy that's remained over the years."

"Traditions." Xanatos mused as he looked out the window over the terrain. Structures comprised of factories and housing and plants covered the mountainous region. "What can you tell me about pleasure slaves? Is it a tradition to grant a slave, say, to a child of six?"

"Only if the family is affluent enough. The age is usually around twelve or thirteen. I'd say if a child was granted a slave at that young of an age, well…"
"Well, what?" Xanatos prompted.

"It could be any number of things. The parent or guardian would have a specific reason for doing so."

Augustus didn't answer his question. He did, but didn't. He would wait and ask his father if the girl were truly, truly his. All in all, he liked the idea of having her, owning her; but slavery as an institution would take some getting used to before he could support it.

"Is there any way to track these slaves so that they don't escape?"

"Most do not desire to leave the services of their master. It is a tradition here, one which the Republic vehemently disagrees with."

"Is there a way to track them at all?" Xanatos asked again, becoming frustrated with the page's inability to answer him directly.

"Track them? Yes, I believe there is. As long as they are within range."

"What's the range?"

"This planet, sir. If they leave orbit, the transmitters cannot trace their signal. But like I said, few are reluctant to leave. Many are well adjusted and come quite easily to accepting their station in life."

The car decelerated and turned. "Ah, we are here sir. Your father will be most pleased to see you again."

Xanatos felt the butterflies flutter inside his stomach once again. He swallowed back all of the elixir and set the glass in the tray. The door opened and he stepped out. Augustus stood with parasol raised. His small arm stretched its full length holding the parasol barely covering Xanatos' tall form. Together they ascended the many steps into his father's mansion. The page struggled with the umbrella beside him. Xanatos smiled viewing the riches of his heritage. There's no way he could have all of this as a Jedi. Qui-Gon and the council were unwise to send him home. He missed the love of a father he only vaguely remembered, but by this summons home, he knew his dad's love burned all the same.

As they approached the large mahogany doors, servants scurried opening the way. They did everything except lay down the red carpet; but they didn't have to. It was permanently installed in the floor. As he entered inside, Augustus stepped away, folding the parasol and joining the line of servants. He smiled, not knowing how to react to this "welcome home". He nodded to each them and made his way inside. A set of large, curving staircases centered in the foyer. At the top stood a man, distinguished in features, gray hair, perfectly coiffed, with a clipped mustache to match. He was tall, like Xanatos and his eyes were a crystal blue. His gaze penetrated Xanatos as his stalwart form descended the staircase. He stood in front of him, a small smile transfixed against the moustache. His eyes, once sharp, now turned soft with tears of joy standing and threatening to spill out. He pulled Xanatos close, in a hug, not minding such an exhibition of emotion in front of the wait staff. Xanatos tentatively brought his arms up to return his father's embrace. He barely had time to relish the warmth before his father pushed him away, holding him by the shoulders, tears streaking down his face.

"Welcome home, son." His father's voice choked at the words, but the smile on his face erased any doubts Xanatos might have had. His father truly was glad to see him.

"Thank you." He replied.

His father looked upon him a moment longer, before turning to the staff.

"Take his things upstairs to his suite. Lincoln, make sure that his closet is fully stocked with the finest vestments! We're getting you out of these stodgy robes and into more regal attire. But first, lunch. I'm sure you are very, very hungry. And for real food, not that gruel they serve you in the Temple."

Xanatos smiled. "Yes, father, I am. Thank you." He was surprised at the level of resentment in his father's tones when he mentioned the Jedi. If he truly hated them, why did he let Qui-Gon take him away? Later, Xanatos, he thought to himself. All will be explained later. Right now, just sit back and let your father spoil you. You are prince who's been away from home for too long now. Relax and rest. Forget about the Temple, forget about Qui-Gon and for now, at least until after suppertime, forget about Tam.

********************************************************************

For the next couple of days, Tam could not breathe. Mumby absolutely smothered her. They called the next day to make an appointment, but found she couldn't get in until the next week. He suggested she try one of the take-home tests from the pharmacy; but she would rather wait for a professional opinion. Already he fawned over her and their unborn child. Secretly she loved it, but couldn't rid her mind of the worry that plagued her. Who was the father? If indeed there was a baby inside of her.

The nausea continued. She found it came on in the early morning and revisited her at night. Mumby rubbed her back and cooed as she laid waste to the porcelain bowl. She resisted the urge to shrug his touch, but tolerated his comforts all the same. He stayed in now, allowing those under him to take care of his business. It was almost as if he transformed into a different person. And she liked the "new" him, but couldn't shake the feeling of doom that hung over her night and day. Something was bound to happen. She expected Xanatos to reappear at any moment. This caused her stress, stress she couldn't share with Mumby.

During an impromptu stint over the toilet, she wore only a t-shirt and panties. Mumby rubbed her back and discovered the chip underneath her skin. Only he didn't know it was a chip. Would the doctor discover it too? Again, her nerves jittered at the thought of a past unknown to her, come back to wreak havoc over her life. She lied to him, yet again, telling him that it was a mole. Moles run in her family, she'd said. She faked a dry-heave in order to pull his attention and his hand away from the bump. It worked and she made it a point to cover herself more heavily even as she lounged around the house.

Cravings. Surely they wouldn't come so soon? But yes, she found herself craving spicy, hot foods. She was particularly fond of the borscht she'd sampled during her first date with Mumby. Thinking of this commonality only solidified the knowledge that her life was one big upset. It reminded her of how she allowed herself to fall yet again and to hope that this time could be good for her; but then she allowed herself to be sucked in by Xanatos and his devilish charms.

She and Mumby sat in the media room watching a holovid. He had her propped up with pillows. She sat back, sipping on a cup of chamomile tea. Her legs were stretched out to the side; her feet rested in his lap as he massaged them.

Engrossed in the feature, she almost didn't hear him, but he asked again.

"What happened to your feet?"

Distracted, she turned to him and said, "What?"

"Your feet. Scratches. I never noticed this before. They look fresh too." He lifted her foot and inspected the sole. His fingers over the skin there tickled and she yanked her foot away.

"I don't remember."

"You don't remember tearing your foot up this way? Looks painful. It had to hurt."

She nodded. "I guess I got it from … walking along the patio." She tried to appear nonchalant, but she felt his eyes upon her.

"The patio's covered in flagstone. It's smooth. It looks like you went running over concrete or something barefooted."

She sipped her cup, thinking of what to say.

"Well, I don't know. If you're so concerned about it, why don't you give me a foot bath then a pedicure and a massage." While suggesting this, she turned and pressed her feet into his lap. She stretched languidly and used one foot to touch him, just there. She saw, rather than heard, his sharp intake of breath. Since that night, she'd abstained from doing anything with him. He hadn't asked because his primary concern was the child. She gave him a heated stare, suddenly feeling in the mood to have him.

He gave her a sly smile as he lifted her foot and kissed a toe, never breaking eye contact. She sighed. He released her foot and she stood. She reached for his hand and pulled him to the bedroom.

"Are you sure?"

She nodded in response before lifting his t-shirt over his head.

"I don't want to hurt…you know." His breath caught short as she undid the buttons of his jeans.

"There are different ways of doing things. Besides, the further along I become, the more you and I will have to experiment with these 'different' ways."

She lifted the knit top she wore from over her head, revealing naked breasts. The short pants slid off her behind and she stepped out of them. With just cotton bikini briefs she crawled onto the bed and watched over her shoulder as Mumby pulled his pants the rest of the way down. He was so ready. He was always ready. She wiggled her bum, teasing him. He almost crushed her as he jumped on the bed and toppled over her. She hissed her desire as she felt his warm hands pull down the fabric of her panties. She lifted her legs as he pulled the cotton from her body.

She moaned as he ran his hands along the backs of her thighs. They traveled upwards until he clutched her bottom in a tight grip. He moaned aloud and she pressed her rear back against him. He ran a finger along her cleft finding her soft and moist and warm and just as ready as he. His fingers slid inside and it took all she had not to bounce back. But she did groan and whisper a husky, "Now, baby…" He took orders so nicely. Instantly he was inside of her and he felt so good. His hands hugged her hips, bracing her for his attack; but she pressed back matching his thrusts with her own. She savored this, the feeling of him inside of her again. Too long, too long, she groaned inwardly.

She slid down to her elbows, angling her rear higher so he could take his thrusts deeper. He moaned with every push and pull. He slowed his pace then sped it up, whatever it took to make her beg for more. He satisfied her want and the bounty of ecstasy seemed never-ending, and endless. Vaguely she was aware of the press of his finger against her front. She felt the swirl of fire before it triggered the eruption of his name whimpering from her mouth. She called him, encouraged him, challenged him and he pushed forth, finally bringing her to the brink. And with a swift flick against her core, she tumbled over the edge. Her muscles absorbed him and soon, he too, was lost.

He continued small thrusts against her even as he softened inside. She moaned his name and welcomed the cool kiss to the center of her hot, sweaty back. She had to keep him; she had to be strong. She wouldn't stray again, no matter how those silent, violet orbs called to her in her sleep. Mumby was hers and she was his and as he pulled out and together, as they rolled onto the bed, clutching each other tightly, sighing their release, she vowed that she wouldn't stray. He kissed her hard and passionately, sealing her mental promise as if he too, thought the same thing. Together they fell asleep, for a time. And then she began to crave again, and not for food.

Chapter 6

It was late. Outside, thunder sounded high into the heavens. Powerful gales blew in from the mountains, splashing sheets of rain against the window of the study. Xanatos stood, quietly sipping from a snifter of brandy.

"So why did you buy her for me?" He asked his father's reflection in the window.

"To give you a reason to stay."

He turned to his father, eyeing him disbelievingly. "But I was six. What would I want with a girl at that age?"

His father was silent, seeming to struggle with an answer.

"You remembered her, didn't you?"

"Yes…" He replied.

"And once you saw her, remembered her, you wanted her back, didn't you?"

"I knew there was something about her. I couldn't explain the connection." He set the glass down on the table and approached his father's desk. "But it was by chance that I saw her."

"She is currently on Coruscant?" Crion asked, lifting his eyebrows in question.

"Currently."

"Well, the laws on that planet are not the same. She wouldn’t come willingly. This means you'd have to go back and get her."

Xanatos sat in one of the twin wingback chairs situated in front of the desk. His father leaned against the desk, twiddling his own snifter of brandy in his hands. They'd been this way for some time, sitting and drinking, talking, catching up as it were. His father updated him on the state of things on Telos: the offers from both Republic and Separatist movements, his company, OffWorld Corporation and the latest on the Civil War generating in the Southern Hemisphere of the globe. He was only vaguely interested; he wanted to learn more of the gift given to him, the reasons why and the nature of the slave trade all around.

"Augustus told me of the transmitter chip the slaves receive. If you meant to save her for my return, how is it that she and her mother were able to flee?"

"Her mother?"

"Yes, yes. I remember standing next to you, in the courtyard. There was a woman holding her hand. I assumed it was her mother."

His father fidgeted, finally standing and walking to the table. There he poured himself a heavy dose of brandy, swallowing it back in three long gulps. Xanatos stood and joined him. He waited on a response. Why wouldn't his father just tell him? He was tired of all the tiptoeing around.

"It was her mother." He admitted.

"Well how did they leave?"

"I let them go." He avoided his son's stare, eyes gazing into the bottom of the glass.

He waited, detecting his father's thoughts shrouded in mystery. Suddenly it occurred to him that maybe…

"Were you and her mother…"

His father sighed heavily. "You don't need to know everything Xan. I bought the girl for you because it is custom. I bought her for you at such a young age thinking that maybe her influence as a friend would prompt you to stay here. But Qui took you anyway."

"So, if I bring her back here, the law still applies?"

"Yes. But the transmitter would have to be reactivated."

Xanatos thought on this. "I want to wait awhile, before I return. Learn the business, get reacquainted with Telos and you."

"And the girl?" His father questioned.

"We didn't part on the best of terms. I do want her, but…"

"But what?" His father interrupted. "You can always get another."

Xanatos frowned. "But you bought her for me. You. I want to honor that connection."

"And she will come willingly?"

"Probably not. She thinks I'm crazy; doesn't believe anything I've told her of her past. She denies it, even though I know the chip in her back proves otherwise."

They were quiet for a moment. Thinking. His father tossed back the remainder of his drink then set it on the table.

"Well, when you are ready, I know you will do what you must." His father smiled softly, letting his gaze wander over Xan's face.

"Yes." He agreed.

"Is there a way to trace the chip? If she leaves Coruscant, how will I be able to find her?" Xanatos remembered his conversation with Augustus in the car earlier. He wanted to know more.

"Those chips don't work if they're out of range. The technology is dated. You would lose her, again."

"I didn't lose her in the first place, father. You let her go, remember? I can't get her out of my head. She's a constant torture." He sighed heavily, feeling the familiar frustration return. He turned away and walked from the room.

"Where are you going?"

"To bed. I need to think about this."

"Son, this is such a small part of who you will be. She's insignificant in the face of all you stand to inherit. I won't feel bad if you decide on another." He offered.

"I can't. It's got to be her. Good night, father."

"Good night, son."

Xanatos walked through the doors of the study. He trudged slowly up the large staircase. Earlier, Augustus had shown him his suite. It was beyond decadent, very roomy, very spacious, and much better than his quarters at the Academy. He realized then that he had not given his former abode much thought since his arrival. As he passed through the double doors into the parlor just beyond his bedroom, he figured he'd spare himself the guilt-trip, as there was not much love-lost upon his departure.

After showering, he strode naked to the bed. He slid under the covers luxuriating in the feel of expensive bed sheets. He lay in the dark listening to the rain outside. Suddenly, he realized that he was not alone. He sat up, extending Force-feelers into the darkened space. He reached for his lightsaber, rising from the bed when he felt soft hands push him back. Who was this?

Lightning flashed through the open window. And as hands smoothed along his chest, he saw them, two women with flaxen hair, crystal blue eyes and pale skin. They were naked, leaning over him, pressing him further into the bed. He moved to push them away, but his hands grasped at their silky skin and they sighed. Pleasure slaves? He thought.

"Wait…" He prompted as their hands traveled further down his body. A face lowered to his stomach planting soft kisses. The other one nibbled his neck and sighed deeply in his ear. He couldn't deny the erotic charge he got from the situation, as he struggled to escape the twisted web their seduction weaved. It seemed so wrong to do this here, in his father's house. He protested, pulling the one girl away from his face. They didn't talk and he found it strange, maybe they spoke a language other than Basic?

"Stop it, I…" His command was cut short as the one took him deep into her mouth. He moaned. After several heartbeats he found his voice again, he asked, "Who sent you?" He croaked.

The girl below continued to work him. He struggled to remain focused, intent on receiving an answer. Was this another Telosian custom? The one girl sucked his earlobe, pressing her tongue inside. She whispered some words, but he couldn't understand them. He attempted to probe her mind but found he couldn't focus. Giving in, he grabbed the one girl by the head and pressed her down harder. She took in his full length and his mouth fell open. Immediately the other girl covered his parted lips. He kissed her passionately, moaning into her mouth, as her hands roamed all over his body.

This was surreal. Had his father arranged this? The girl increased the pace as his hand bounced her head against him. He came, grunting his release, pulling the girl's hair and biting the mouth of the other one. He fell back into the covers, felt their bodies slither over him. He breathed heavily, watching in the flashes of light as their naked, ethereal forms drew the covers up over his body. He closed his eyes; felt his pulse beat strongly through his veins. Outside the storm continued to broil. He opened his eyes again and they were gone. He sat up and looked around, wondering if it was real?

Was Tam meant to be with him "that way"? Like those other girls? His mind grew feverish as he thought of her. It'd become more than a mild obsession. There was something deep down in his bones called for her. He would wait, allowing her space to feel comfortable without his constant presence; and then he would pounce when she least expected. He'd bring her back here kicking and screaming; locking her up if he had to. She belonged to him and he had to have her. Maybe he was crazy? He laughed softly to himself. Maybe so, but he knew one thing; his life would not feel right again until he had her with him. Then, only then could he move on to become the man his father always wanted him to be.

********************************************************************

Eight months later, the rains stopped; her stomach swelled to an almost gargantuan proportion along her small frame. She was miserable most of the time. Mumby drove her mad; he never left the house for longer than a couple of hours. He was always by her side, most times laving attention on her and their unborn child. Sometimes he had his phone strapped to his ear, massaging her feet while he reprimanded an employee or barked orders at his underlings.

Tam sat in the lobby of the admissions waiting room. Mumby had gone outside to smoke, taking his telecomm with him as he made arrangements for the next couple of days. She was alone in the room except for the med-droids buzzing around. She stared through the window at the clear blue sky as she smoothed the fabric of her dress over the round of her stomach. She welcomed this quiet time, glad for the emergency that pulled him away, if only briefly. She missed filters. Had they not presented a danger to her child, she would happily puff away on them daily, anything to calm her nerves and ease the doubt plaguing her mind.

She thought of "him" on occasion. For instance, when it thundered and rained or when she found herself alone in the house. Occasionally she'd sneak onto the patio, peeping over the edge expecting to see his figure rise in the air, cloaked in black robes like some specter come to haunt her waking hours. She dreamt of him, too. In the dreams he always reached for her stomach, his violet eyes gazing at her as he caressed the surface. This child could be his, she thought. She bit back tears. Now more than ever she was prone to bouts of sadness. So she hid these moments from Mumby, not wanting him to read the uncertainty in her eyes. It was enough that she bore this burden alone; she didn't want to subject him to it.

"Miss Wild?" A voice sounded.

She turned, seeing a med-droid cock its angular head in her direction.

"Let's get you setup in the sono-room."

"Yes. Okay."

She held to the side of the chair with one hand and the back of it with the other. She pushed, no, hauled herself from the chair. Following after the droid, she waddled down the tiled hall leaning her body against the hand pressed against her back.

The droid instructed her to sit on the bed. It helped her take off her dress and put on a standard-issue hospital gown. Where was Mumby? She'd rather feel his touch than the impersonal handling of the droid.

"Could you send someone to get my partner? He's outside by the front door. His name is Mumby."

"Yes, right away. Just relax, the doctor will be here shortly."

She lay back on the bed willing her mind to calm. Instinctively her hand moved to her stomach, rubbing the bulbous mass. She closed her eyes against the sound of buzzing and chirping coming from the machine at her right.

The door opened. Slowly she opened her eyes. The lights flickered and she glanced the machinery to her left. Turning again, she expected to see Mumby or the doctor or the med-droid. She swallowed audibly as fear engulfed her. Xanatos.

He approached the bed slowly, trailing a finger along her leg as he drew closer.

Her heart stopped; she heard the soft shuffles of his feet as they passed over the floor. Reaching her, his hand settled onto her stomach. She shrank into the bed. He moved in, grasping her neck with the other hand. He kissed her lips, slipping out his tongue tasting her. He trailed his tongue along her cheek as he turned her ear to his lips. The hand on her stomach flexed; she felt the baby kick. His tongue slicked inside and he whispered, "Mine". She wrenched herself from his grasp and with a start woke up.

"Tam." She heard a voice. "Baby, wake up, the doctor's here."

Carefully she opened her eyes. She sat up only to be knocked down again as a muscle spasmed against her sternum. Dammit, it was another dream. She lay back against the covers and cursed her digestive system. She burped softly as the doctor mumbled something about possible complications. Complications? What?

"Complications?" She repeated. She reached for Mumby's hand, with worry on her face.

"As I was saying to your, partner, we will have to admit you earlier than planned. I want you back in three days. This way, we’ll avoid those complications that might arise otherwise."

Mumby squeezed her hand.

"Dr. Ovasha thinks it will be too much of a risk if you give birth vaginally. He wants to do the C-section."

"I think its best." The doctor concluded.

"Okay." Tam squeezed Mumby’s hand in return, relieved that she didn’t have to experience the pain that came with natural birth. She turned and smiled. He was so happy about their little family. This changed everything about their lives, both inside and outside of the home. Even Farnsworth had taken extra special care in arranging the spare bedroom into a nursery. This baby had to be special to make that stodgy old bastard smile. But it was Mumby, really; his joy was infectious. Again, she swallowed down a wave of sorrow. Please, oh mighty gods, let this child be his. Let Xanatos find happiness in his obsessions with some other female…or male. She sighed as she saw the image of her child on the monitor. Closing her eyes, she leaned against the pillows and whispered the prayers again, more fervently than before.

Later, as they lay in bed together, she heard the rumble of thunder in the distance. She rose, carefully pulling from Mumby’s grasp. Sliding on her robe, she strode down the hallway, into the living area in order to get a better view of the sky. The rainy season had passed, but occasionally they did receive spurts of clouds raining down storms from the heavens. She stood at the window, in the darkened room. A flash of lightning appeared, creaking its way through the night sky. She shivered at the onslaught as the rains began to beat down heavily upon the window.

As if in a dream, she peered beyond the rain into a clear cosmos. She saw herself lying on a floating slab of earth wide enough for her body. She lay on her side, holding her child to her. She stroked his soft brown hair. It was a boy. She smiled at this. He opened his eyes and his orbs reflected the sky as clouds rushed past them overhead. There was stillness in his gaze, in her hand as she caressed the small cherub with golden eyes. Time stood still as they lay there. She felt a hand caress her side. It was familiar. She turned, seeing the hand, connecting it to the body, then the face.

Xanatos smiled down upon them. She wanted to be afraid but can do nothing but watch as he reached for the child. He pulled the baby from her; she reached to take him back. The sky swirled around them, lightning crackled and thunder echoed the beginnings of a storm. He stood, pulling her with him. He held the child close to himself, gazing at him then at her, smiling as he drew her in. The sky moistened into black and the silence of the moment became deafening. He walked her to the edge. Together they peered into an abyss of clouds and smoke-tinted red and black and orange. The baby cried as he gripped her about the waist. He grinned at her, unstable in the gesture. Together, all three fell into the unknown.

The lightning outside crackled, shaking her from the vision. A tear slid down her cheek. Fear singed her heartstrings. Suddenly, the room is illuminated by the soft light of a corner lamp. She turned finding Mumby standing in the corner. She placed her hand on her stomach while watching his approach.

"You okay?" He asked reaching to wipe the tear from her face.

She nodded and whispered hoarsely, "Bad dream."

"Come back to bed."

He smoothed his hand over her stomach as they slept. Occasionally the baby kicked causing his hand to jump in accordance. She pressed her body closer to him, wanting the warmth, the security he offered. After a time, she was able to fall asleep.

*********************************************************************

"OffWorld Corp. gains and losses up by thirty-eight percent. Predictions for the fiscal year teeming in the hundreds…"

Xanatos listened to the stilted voice of computer drone on and on. He lifted his hands to his eyes, attempting to wipe away the tiredness he felt. His father wanted him well versed in corporate law, the market, anything and everything that could or would affect his leadership in OffWorld Corp. For the past months, he accompanied him to their offices downtown. When they weren’t out in the field or criss-crossing the globe to inspect various job sites and holdings, his father had him researching and learning every single aspect of the company’s history along with their competition. It was tedious, grueling, tiring, but he knew once he took over that all of this learning would pay off.

He had much to look forward to. He took a break pausing the voice-op in mid-sentence. It was time to check in. He dialed a sequence, entering numbers into a keypad on the desk. The transmission connected, chirping as it came into contact with the intended end.

"So, what do you have for me today, Samus?" He asked while watching as an image composed of three x’s triangularly situated inside a circle, rise and hover above the desk.

The symbol remained stationary as the voice replied, "You’ll be happy to know that we have a sighting."

"Oh?"

"Yes, I spotted her yesterday coming out of Central Medical Facility. The boyfriend was with her again."

"I have images this time."

His heart began to race. He hired Samus Prime to keep tabs on Tam; if she moved be it offworld or down the street he wanted to know, had to know. He didn’t request pictures; frankly, the thought of seeing her with the idiot sickened him. For Samus to indulge him this time, must mean there was some special about them. He was intrigued.

"Put them up." He instructed.

An image materialized. Frames flashed back to back of close-ups. She was still

beautiful, he thought. The frame expanded flashing to the next one. The focus pulled out. She walked, holding hands with Mumby. She turned, entering the facility. His feverish gaze took in her form and he noticed the oversized dress she wore. She turned more as the frame accelerated and then he saw it. Her stomach, round and full protruded from her body. The idiot’s other hand rested there as they chatted while passing through the door. She smiled. There was caution in her eyes as if she knew he watched.

He felt an irrepressible sense of loss that began to bubble into a slow anger. Pregnant? With the idiot’s child, no less.

"Why didn’t you tell me about this before?" He asked continuing to stare at the frozen image hovering above him.

"Tell you about what?"

"She’s pregnant, you ass. Why haven’t you said anything?"
"Look, you hired me to follow her, not to record how many times she gets knocked up."

Xanatos’ hands flexed then formed into fists. He carefully subdued the urge to break something, anything.

"Do you have anything else?" He asked, voiced strained as he reigned in his temper.

"That’s about it. She doesn’t leave the house much…just goes to the doctor’s or the hospital."

Xanatos leaned back in his chair, wanting to do something but not knowing what to do. Why do anything at all? He asked himself. Because you want her and that baby could be yours, a voice replied. He hadn’t thought of it. Just once, they’d, but yes, the child could be his. He sat up, hopeful, a devious idea entering his head. He’d waited to long to see her. Fate couldn’t have presented a better time.

"I have something else for you." He informed Samus.

"Yeah?"

"Yes." He corrected him. "Schedule a meeting with her. Find out who her doctor is and arrange an appointment with her. Pick an out of the way place, but not her regular office. And make sure she doesn’t bring the idiot with her."

"How am I gonna do that?"

"Figure it out! Tell her there are some special tests she needs to take."

"Okay…and afterwards? You want "me" to meet with her?"

"No. I’ll leave now and be there by tomorrow morning. Now do you think you can handle this?" He asked impressed by the plan.

"I can do it."

"Good. Make the appointment for the afternoon. I’ll contact you as soon as I arrive on Coruscant."

"Will do."

Xanatos signed off the transmission. He gathered together his things and headed down the hallway to his father’s office. There he informed him of his plan, that is, a plan to go and see her. He didn’t mention the pregnancy or what he really intended to find out. This time tomorrow he’d know if the child was his; just the possibility was enough

with anything in his life. In his heart of hearts he hoped the child to be his; it had to be enough to make her be with him.

**********************************************************************

Braithewaite Testing Center, now where is it? She asked herself, while dodging pedestrians along the walkway. She didn’t get out much and in all the time of her being on this planet, she’d never ventured this low into the West End. She glanced at the slip of paper Farnsworth had given her. Her doctor called saying it was urgent that she met him at the center for some tests before the scheduled induction. She napped on the couch, while Mumby got ready for a meeting. He made such a show at having to leave her alone for so long; frankly, she was glad for the few hours by herself. Then this notice came.

"Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where Dyer’s Quadrant is?" She asked the newsstand guy. He pointed across the street to a ramshackle set of buildings situated around a small courtyard. "Thank you…"

Is that it? She wondered. Naturally, her hand settled over her tummy; she held tightly as she crossed the busy street. It was lunchtime and the crowd hummed and buzzed around her. She passed through a gateway, displaying "Dyer’s Quadrant" in rusted letters. Inside the courtyard stood empty. It’d been awhile since the tile and flagstone had been swept. Shrubs grew untamed spilling out of their sections onto patches of dirt. Halogen lights flickered in the high ceiling; the artificial sun they provided proved ineffective in keeping the vegetation alive.

A slight shudder passed through her. Maybe she should’ve waited on Mumby, brought him with her. But this was only for testing; surely it wouldn’t take too long. She found the lift. Pressing the "Up" button, she glanced at the paper once again. 210A. That would be the second floor, she thought. The door creaked open and she stepped inside. The lift ascended slowly; finally, it opened up onto the next floor. She followed the walkway around glancing below into the courtyard. Where the hell was everyone? For an office complex this place seemed so empty.

Finding 210A, she stepped through the entrance and was pleased at the brightness of the room she entered. A man sat at a desk, bent over a keyboard. He glanced up, as he saw her enter.

"Hi." She said.
"Hello. Miss Wild, is it?" Wow. He’s definitely on point today.

"Yes. My doctor scheduled a one o’clock appointment for me…he said something about extra tests?"

He smiled. Standing he gestured to an open doorway.

"Yes. I’m Mr. Breedlove. All tests are done with M-16’s."

"M-16’s?" What the hell was it?

"Yes, it’s a med-droid. We’ll only need to draw a few vials of blood from you. The droid does this and don’t worry, it’s painless and should go by quickly."

"Why didn’t my doctor do this in his office?"

"Oh, he needed the results right away. Our facility takes care of the testing and analysis. After we’re done here, I’ll transfer the results to him."

He left her in a small room; it was bare for a doctor’s office. Only a chair and table and the makeshift cot she sat on. The walls were insulated with black foam. The small window opened onto the courtyard. She stood and looked out, seeing no one. Wait. Was that Mr. Breedlove? He quickly walked across the yard, gesturing to someone as he crossed. Again, she shuddered, not feeling comfortable. An M-16? Sounds like some sort of artillery.

The door opened behind her. A series of bleeps and chirps sounded. The droid spoke.

"Please be seated."

F_ck, she thought. The droid hovered in the air. It was spherical with prongs and needles protruding from its black glossy surface. A circular disk, flashed red, then white, then red again. It spouted off coordinates or some such number-gibberish.

"Extend your arm, please, with wrist right side up." It gurgled.

F_ck. This little thing was the most menacing droid she’d ever seen. It floated to her side, extended a robotic hand to her arm. A needle inserted in the skin. She felt a small prick and then there was nothing. The blood flowed from her arm into the capsule. It pulled out, replacing the capsule with another empty one. Again, it followed the same procedure. She felt her arm tingle a bit, as it tugged the needle from her skin.

"One more." It stated.

She waited and watched as it finished the extraction. Her other hand held tight to her stomach as the droid hummed and hissed and hovered. Thinking it finished, she asked, "Are we finished?"

The droid floated away from her. Standing, she bent her arm to the light to inspect skin. Not finding any blemishes, she waited for it to answer her.

"Is that it, Mr. Droid?" She joked.

"No, it isn’t." A voice sounded.

She looked up and immediately shrank against the wall. Xanatos.

"What are you doing here?"

"What are ‘you’ doing here?" He inquired, mimicking her tone.

She couldn’t answer. She eyed the doorway. His body encompassed the space. His skin seemed to have become more pale and translucent than before. His hair was longer. And his eyes were just as crazed as the last time she saw him. Her hand clutched at her stomach. He watched the movement. The grin on his face melted into seriousness. Could she run from him?

"No." He answered.

F_ck. He’s doing that mind-reading thing. With her other hand she grasped at the wall. Turning, she looked out the window again. This place was deserted. She should’ve seen this.

"I missed you."

F_ck, f_ck, f_ck, sorry baby, f_ck, f_ck, f_ck. "Xan, just leave me alone, all right?"

She moved to the cot, grabbing her bag. He moved away from the door walking towards her. The droid floated in the corner, humming, buzzing, silently watching the performance.

F_ck. She brazenly moved toward the door, intent on stepping around his tall body. She almost made it past him, but he reached out and grabbed her by the arm. He pulled her around to stand in front of him.

"You’re pregnant."

My, my how observant of you, she thought. He smiled and instantly she knew he heard her. His eyes traveled down her body stopping at her stomach. His hand yet held her arm in a loose grip. With the other, he cupped her roundness; his brow furrowed as he tried to feel through the layer of fabric she wore. He reached and pulled the shirt up. She moved to protest him, but he only shished her. His hand was surprisingly warm; he splayed it upon the surface. She pulled away from him, but he only gripped her arm tighter.

"What are you doing?" She hissed. "Let me go, dammit!"

He ignored her. Suddenly the droid floated over to where they stood.

"Sit down." He ordered. "Tam, sit down and relax." He repeated.

He pushed her onto the bed and sat next to her.

"You’ve got to be still, okay?"

She gave him the biggest go to hell look before turning her gaze on the droid. A needle extended. Xanatos held her shirt, leaving her stomach exposed. The baby kicked and squirmed around inside as if he/she knew something was going on, too. Tears slid down her face as she watched the needle sink into her flesh. Why was he doing this? F_cking, bastard. She’d never felt such rage. As soon as this needle came out and he released her hands and legs, she was going to kill him.

He chuckled as he watched the droid do its work.

"This baby could be mine, Tam." He looked at her still holding her in place. "I just want to make sure."

"Well he’s not! Why can’t you leave me the hell alone?" She hissed as the needle slid all the way out. Fluid had been drawn, her baby’s fluid; she felt immense sadness. Why couldn’t this man get out of her head, her mind, and her life?

The droid hovered. Xan stared at it and it turned and floated to the door. He raised a hand, motioning the door release. The droid passed through. He turned and Tam’s hand met the side of his face. She raised her other hand intent on clawing his eyes out. She was slammed against the bed. He stood and peered angrily at her while rubbing his face.

"You shouldn’t have done that." He pulled back a hand and saw blood. So, she did claw him.

She lay on the bed panting, feeling the kid in her womb float in circles and beat against the perimeter.

‘You’re a monster." She huffed.

"Yeah, I know…" He pulled the fabric down over her belly. Using the Force, he continued to hold her in place. Would he? She asked herself, feeling her heartbeat race beyond control.

His eyes met hers. "I’d like to very much, but…" His voice trailed as he ran a hand along her leg, pressing it against the apex of her thighs; he squeezed and she shuddered, disgusted with his behavior. "I don’t want to hurt our baby." He continued, grinning. He released his hand, stepping back he let her go.

"I’ll see you in a few days." He backed out of the room. "Think of me, will you? You and I, and our baby ‘will’ be together soon." He turned on his heel walked out. She lay on the bed, crying, for about an hour. Finally, she mustered the wherewithal to call Farnsworth. He picked her up outside the quad feeling stupid at having been fooled by this trickster. If he were such a good sorcerer, why’d he have the droid do his dirty work? Maybe he wasn’t so confident after all. She ran a tepid bath and relaxed in the tub until Mumby came home. She put on a smiling face, not wanting him to know what transpired. He was so touchy when it came to her and the child; he’d detect her sadness if she let even a little bit come through. A few days… She had decided. She’d have this baby and then run…

*********************************************************************

For the next three days, she meditated in preparation of this birth. After she woke up from the anesthesia, the droids buzzed around the room and her doctor hovered over her saying something she couldn’t understand. She felt lips on her forehead and heard Mumby’s voice mumbling something in the distance. She closed her eyes against the brightness of the room and then she heard it. A soft wailing noise pierced through the cloud of her fogged mind. Her baby? Her baby.

Mumby kissed her again. The doctor got up, moved away. Someone tugged at her stomach, pushed and pulled. Soon, the curtain of blue was lifted. She watched as a droid approached holding a soft bundle in hospital-blues. Mumby kissed her repeatedly, smoothing the hair along her forehead. He stood and took the bundle from the droid. The baby cried and cooed. She lifted a hand, reaching for him.

"A boy?" She whispered hoarsely.

"Yeah, baby, a boy." He grinned like an idiot, holding the child while on the verge of tears.

"Let me see…" She reached again.

He lowered the bundle to her face. She smoothed back the cloth revealing his face. Her baby. Her baby boy. She smiled as she stroked his mane of black curls. His skin, a mix of her and Mumby’s, seemed to glow in its dusky translucence. He cried, cooing and reaching his little hands to rub his face. Slowly, he opened his eyes. Will they be brown like Mumby’s or hazel like my own? He squealed loudly, his voice gurgling as she touched his hands. His eyes blinked, opened then closed then opened wide. She felt ice coat her soul. Her hand stopped in its movements.

"Look at his eyes, baby. They’re purple! Have you ever seen anything like it?" Mumby was overly excited. This couldn’t be. Her boy looked at her or through her, she couldn’t decide. He began to cry, but those violet orbs held her gaze. She felt the tears in her eyes slide along the length of her face. Mumby mistook this for joy. Sure, she was happy, but… F_cking, hell. F_cking, hell. She thought angrily.

"I need to rest." She stated, turning away from him. Mumby caught her glance and the shift in her mood. The droid prodded Mumby’s arm, motioning for the baby. He reached down and kissed her, stroking her face.

"I’ll be here when you wake up." He promised.

She nodded, closed her eyes and willed herself to think of nothing while she rested.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Mumby?" She called. "You here?"

Stiffly, she sat up in the bed feeling the pain in her stomach as the stitches pulled against skin. She anchored herself with one hand behind, while grasping her stomach. She stared in awe at the flatness returned there once again. She looked around, not seeing him sitting in the chair. She pressed the "Nurse" button and waited.

"Yes?" A small woman peeked through the door.

"My boyfriend, where is he?"

"He had to go downtown. He said he’d be back soon."

"Downtown?" Oh yeah, she thought, it was Saturday night. He had to make an appearance at least. Still, she missed him there.

"Can I see my baby?"

"It’s too late; way past visiting hours. And the doctor wants you to rest. You can see him in the morning."

Defeated she lay back against the rising bed. The nurse had moved in and adjusted it to an upright position, fluffing the pillows behind her.

"There’s another thing…Since you’re up, I have a telegram for you."

"Telegram?"

"Yes. It came in shortly after we placed you in the room. Let’s see…" The nurse reached into her pocket, pulling a small envelope from the inside. She handed it to Tam who took it, immediately sensing something dark and sinister.

"I’ll leave the light on for you. Call if you need anything else?" With a swoosh! The nurse exited the room leaving her alone again. She opened the envelope and pulled the flimsy plasti-sheet from its confines. She swallowed, hands shaking. She knew who it was from.

Tam,

He is beautiful, isn’t he? A chip off the old block, I’d say. I will give you time

to get used to being a mother. And time for you to let the idiot go. I’m going back to Telos. I will return, again, very soon. Be ready for you, our son and me. Oh, and don’t think of leaving Coruscant. There’s no place you can go

where I can’t find you, remember that.

-X

"Bastard!" She crumpled the piece of plastic in her fist; but it folded back into its original shape. Wiping tears from her eyes, she unfolded the covers and with nimble movements got out of the bed. Every part of her body was sore. She moved to the fresher; the light burned her eyes. Oh my, she thought. I look like hell. If I only I could stop all this crying… She placed the notice in the receptacle, covering it with paper towels.

She snuck out of the hospital room. She had to see him. Him. I’ve got to give him a name. Will have to wait and talk to Mumby about that. Mumby. F_ck, he’s not the daddy. She felt herself on the verge of tears, again. Carefully, she turned away as a med-droid rolled behind her. It chirped and beeped as it continued down the hall. She turned in the other direction, heading for the OB-ward.

The lights were off in the room with the incubators. She snuck by the two nurse’s gabbing away about some holovid-soap opera. She needed some kind of light in order to see her baby. Moving to the observation window, she opened the blind which shaded the area. Ah, yes. Now where’s my baby? She asked. Wild, Wild, where’s Wild… Finding the incubator with her baby boy inside she cracked the seal, turning quickly to make sure an alarm didn’t sound.

He stirred in his sleep. She lifted his small body into the light. So, beautiful, she thought. Why couldn’t you look like me! She held him to her and touched his little face. He moved, whimpered then settled back into himself. She looked around for a place to sit; her stomach burned where the stitches rested. Finding a chair in the corner, she walked holding the wee one against her. Together they sat in the semi-darkness; she gazed at him while he slept soundly.

A shadow passed over them. Quickly, she looked up finding Mumby at the window. She smiled and waved to him. Again, she got up and walked to the window so he could see. The baby stretched, yawned widely. His eyes popped open and he stared at the man through the window. Violet eyes. She glanced at Mumby’s face. He didn’t seem to notice or to care, even that his child had peculiar irises. She turned the baby toward her again, looking into his face. He grimaced or smiled or something; his eyes blinked as they settled upon her and then slowly they closed to sleep again.

She turned and walked him back to his cradle. She placed him inside and secured the seal. With deft steps, she snuck through the nursery and out past the nurse’s station. She met Mumby in the hall.

"What are you doing out of bed?" He asked her. "You should be resting."

"Oh, I’m fine, Mumby." She turned, glancing at the window. "I just had to…see him."

"C’mon. I want you back in bed." He held her around the waist and they began the short trek to her room.

"I’m tired of being in bed. That’s how I ended up here in the first place." She joked.

He smiled at her again. "Yeah. You know, as soon as you’re recovered enough…" He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

"No, no, no. He’s it…for now." He squeezed her tight as he pushed open the door for her to pass through. She lay back in the bed. He shrugged off his jacket and walked to the other side, scooting in behind her. She backed into his embrace; she felt his breath on her neck.

"You know what?" He mumbled, sleep overtaking him already.

"As soon as you get better…I’m gonna have to wear that ass out." His hand squeezed at her thigh. "I’ve missed you."

"Mumby. Shut up and go to sleep." She smiled at his jovialness. He made her happy.

"Wonder where he gets those eyes from?"

Oh, f_ck.

"I don’t know. I mean, mine are hazel so…"

"You can’t get purple out of hazel. That’s crazy. Did your dad or mom have blue eyes?"

She sighed, not really wanting to talk about this, but they needed to…she had to cover her tracks somehow. "I never knew my father, so I don’t know. What about your folks?
"Sicilian. Brown and brown."

"Hmmm…" She was quiet for a moment. "Sometimes eyes and hair color change…"

"Oh, I don’t disapprove of it. I like it a lot. It’s just…unusual, that’s all."

She left it at that. She didn’t know if it was her own imagination or what, but she thought she read a hint of suspicion in his tone. But it wouldn’t be Mumby if he didn’t question everything about her or their newborn.

**********************************************************************

He didn’t say anything, just continued to eat. Nothing shocked him, it seemed. He expected his father to be angry with him. But surely these "pleasure slaves" got pregnant all the time, by their masters. Tam wasn’t any different. He wanted to bring her home; his dad said he could bring her back, but that was before he knew she was with child.

"So, you have nothing to say." He concluded.

His father placed the fork onto the plate and lifted his napkin, wiping at the corners of his mouth. He wouldn’t look at him. Xanatos grew angry.

"Okay. I’ll take that as a yes. Thank you for the blessing on our nuptials. I will leave tomorrow to bring her and my son back to Telos." He stood, throwing his napkin in the plate.

"Sit down!" His father hissed at him, fixing him with a cold stare.

Xanatos thought about Force-tricks, but decided against it. Over the past few months he’d learned his father was Force-sensitive, too. He was highly intuitive, to the point of being psychic almost. He could read Xan’s every move before he made them. He plopped down in the chair, refusing to look at his father. His eyes focused on the window and the rain, which fell like sheets on the outside.

"Have you lost your mind?" His father asked pointedly.

Yes, Xan replied to himself. It’d been six months since he saw his son. Six months. Once he got back, he was thrown back into his work. His father had him traveling all over making deals, securing contracts. It was as if he purposely kept him busy so he wouldn’t think about his son or her.

"You cannot marry her, Xan."

No response.

"Xan, do you hear me?"

He looked to his father. "Why not?"

"Son, we’ve gone over this." Crion sat back in his chair. He motioned for a servant to pour him another whiskey sour. "Will you excuse us, please?" The servants strolled from the room. Once the door closed, he continued. "Xan, it is against custom. Besides, I have selected the perfect bride for you."

"I don’t want to marry that bitch." He stood up and walked to the bar. His father’s voice followed behind him.

"We can’t break the rules, Xan. OffWorld Corp is a part of the Triumvirate Conglomerate here on Telos. We’re the royalty of the business world. Marriages between families become real partnerships in more ways than one. You have to understand this."

"I have to? Had you not let Qui-Gon take me away, maybe I could absorb all of this a lot better." He turned on his father as he downed a stiff shot of whiskey. He felt him warm his twisted insides. "First, you buy me a slave, because ‘it’s custom’. Then you let some monk lock me up in a tower for the next twelve years of my life. Then you send me letters begging for my return. I get out, come back and you drill me on everything ‘Telosian’ except this ridiculous marriage sh_t."

"So, what are you saying, Xan? What?"

"I’m saying, ‘father’, if I marry anyone it’s gonna be ‘her’. F_ck the royal duchess of f_cking Zelwick Technologies. F_ck, that. Besides, I have a ‘son’, dad. A son! You’re a grandfather! Doesn’t that mean anything to you? I ‘have’ to marry her. That’s all there is to it."

His father sat and stewed a moment. "Xan, you can still keep Tam and the baby, but you ‘have’ to marry Zelwick’s daughter." He said this so quietly. Xan turned and poured another whiskey. He felt it now, it burned and he welcomed whatever drunken stupor might come from it.

"You didn’t hear me…you’re going to be a grandfather. Doesn’t that make you all warm and fuzzy inside?" He chuckled.

"You’re drunk."

He laughed, dropping the glass to the carpeted floor as he doubled over. He slowed, standing upright again and sighing deeply. F_ck, he swore to himself. He felt like sh_t. His father… He couldn’t finish his thought. F_ck it, his father sounded like Qui-Gon. He could not escape it.

"We’ll finish this in the morning." His father rose and walked out of the room. Xanatos tossed back the remaining dregs of whiskey. He poured another and took it upstairs to his room. Pulling the drapes he stared outside into the darkened night. He remembered seeing his son for the first time. He held him, as he stood in the nursery. Violet gazed into violet. The nurses entered reaching for the alarm once they saw the perfect stranger. He subdued them easily; they wouldn’t remember anything tomorrow. Afterwards, he’d snuck into her room where he watched her sleep. Both of them were beautiful. He pressed his lips to hers, tasting her kiss. She stirred. He pressed his hand to her temple, pushing her back into sleep. He’d left the hospital and sent the telegram from his ship. He knew, after seeing them both in such a vulnerable state, that he would have to keep them in his life. He could marry her; bind her by the law, if not by her own will. He admitted it; he’d done some horrible things to her. But he loved her and maybe one day she’d see that and return that love to him.

*********************************************************************

"What are you doing?"

"Kissing you."

"Okay…"

"C’mon, the baby’s sleep, I just put him down…"

"Mumby…"

"Please?"

"Well…"

"Please?"

"Where’s Farnsworth?"

"I don’t know."

"Let’s go to the bedroom."

"No."

"Why not?"

"I can’t move. I think I’m paralyzed from the waist down."

"Paralyzed?"

"Yeah…wait, hold a minute, there’s ‘one’ thing that works."

"Mmmhmmm…"

"Come here."

"Mumby!"

"Take those off…"

"But Farnsworth…"

"Farny! Don’t come in the living room, alright!"

"You’re crazy."

"About you and Omega. Definitely crazy."

"Hold still…"

"Ohhhhhhhh, sh_t…wait, go slow."

"Huh?"

"Slower. We may not get to do this for awhile."

"How’s that?"

"Wait…let me, ohhhhh sh_t."

"Is that good?"

"Yeah, baby, f_ck you feel so good."

"This…this was a great idea…I’m…Whew! I’m glad I thought of it."

"You didn’t…oh, f_ck. Slow down."

"I can’t, baby. You feel so good inside of me."

"Okay…keep going like that and…ohhh, goddamn…"

"And what? What are you gonna … ohhh, do to me, Mumby?"

"Oh, you feel so good girl. Ohhhh…ohhhh…ohhhh."

"Do that again."

"Huh?"

"Grab me…yeah, just like that…I’m gonna have bruises, but I don’t care."

"Ohhhhh, f_ck…F_ck!"

"Mmmmmm, Mumby…Ohhh, gods! Yes, yes, yes…that’s it…f_ck."

"Woooaaahhh…woahh, woahh, woahh…yes, yesssssssss."

"Mmmmmm, baby, yeah…so good, so good."

"Don’t move…stay just like that. Yeah…Let me finish…f_ck."

"Do you hear that?"

"Hear what? Mmmmmm baby."

"That?"

"No."

"It’s the baby, Mumby."

"Madame, would you like me to get him for you?"

"Oh, f_ck…Farnsworth. Yeah, I’m right behind you."

"Very well, madame."

"Stop laughing, Mumby."

"Can’t help it…the look on your face."

"Was he there…the whole time?"

"I don’t know…he can’t see anything from back there."

"Oh shut up."

"Ouch! That hurt. Take it easy."

"Where are my underwear."

"Right here."

"Will you stop sniffing them? I gotta check on Omega."

"Okay…I’m just gonna stay here and…rest."
"Rest?"

"Yes, rest."

"I don’t know why…I’m the one who did all the work."

"I heard that, woman."

"Meant for you to, man."

"Phew! I f_ckin’ love that girl. Farny! Get me some new pants!"

 

Xanatos and Samus stood on the deck of the Observation Center. Xanatos focused the specs Samus handed to him. The frame zoomed in on Tam and Mumby walking through the Gardens, pushing a stroller with his child inside.

"How long have they been here?"

"About an hour. They came through the Pavilion. They were in Java Café for about fourty-five minutes."

He focused the frame so he could see her more clearly. She was as radiant as ever. Motherhood treated her curvaceous figure nicely. The idiot pushed his kid as he chatted away on a telecomm. Tam sipped her coffee, glancing around occasionally at the passersby. He’d had enough.

"I’m going down there." He handed the specs back to Samus. "Stay focused. I’ll be back."

Xanatos turned, finding his way back inside the building from the deck. He took the stairs two at a time, intent on colliding with the happy family before they left the Gardens. He pushed open the door, glanced to his left and caught them in his eyesight. Her boyfriend had moved away from them, speaking on his comm. Tam sat at a bench, tending to the child in the carrier. Now was the time, the moment. He’d been away from her too long. It had been six months since his father told him no, he couldn’t have her as a wife. Seven months later had moved him that much farther away from the object of his attraction and from his seed, Omega Granta. Gods, he loved her. He felt himself going mad knowing he wasn’t with her; that it was him, the idiot Mumby, f_cking her every night, claiming his child as his own. But not anymore.

With purpose, he strode across the yards. She glanced in his direction, not seeing him; she glanced again and her sights settled onto his approaching form. He knew the instant her heart began to race. He smiled, elated that he still had that kind of effect on her, even if it was based in fear. He slowed his approach, making his presence seem friendlier. By now, the idiot turned and saw him coming. He smiled, running his hands through his hair. He walked up to her and felt the idiot move in. Using the Force, he pushed at his mind, telling him to concentrate on the phone call and to turn away. And he did.

Tam reached for the baby, pulling the healthy tot from the carrier. She held him close to her breast; he held a rattle, fascinated by the sounds it made.

"My, what a lovely child." He stated. It sounded false even to his ears, but he meant it. "What’s his name?"

Tam stared at him. Were those tears? Not again. When would she learn not to be afraid of him?
"His name, Madame."

"What do you want?" She whispered glancing frantically at Mumby. He turned looking at him; he continued to talk on the phone. [I]Go over by the waterfall and stay there[/I], he commanded silently. He turned back to her, sitting close.

"May I hold my son, Tam?" He held out his hands.

"No."

"Tam. Don’t make me get ugly. You know, your boyfriend is standing awful close to the edge. It’d be a shame if he fell off."
"You wouldn’t."

"You know I will. Let me hold my son. Now."

Slowly, she extended the cherubic bundle of joy. He held him, setting him on his knee. Immediately he felt his heart soften. He’d been through so much the past couple of months. He wanted, needed to experience some pure joy. He repositioned his knees so that he could bounce the little boy.

"What did you name him?"

She stared at him then at the boy with fear in her eyes.

"Omega."

"Omega." He repeated. "I like that. It means beginning. Very appropriate, Tam."

She reached for him. "Give him back to me, Xan."

He pulled away, standing and holding his son in the crook of his arm. He shot her a glare that could ice over Mustafar. She gasped and immediately he was sorry. He did not mean to treat her so wrongly; it’s just that, Qui-Gon…his father… It hurt him to even think of it.

"Why are you here?" She asked.

"Do you really need to ask that question? Why do I always visit you?"

Omega spoke some unintelligible noises. He bounced the boy, loving the sound his small voice made.

"Xanatos." She said standing. "I’m with Mumby. It’s been over a year almost. Just let me go." She pleaded.

He waited a moment to respond. He thought of his father as Omega reached his pudgy hand to Xan’s cheek stroking the circular scar. "I can’t." He answered almost weakly. "Come with me, please." He spoke the plea hoping she would concede just this once. "I know I’ve been horrible, but…I love you, Tam. I love our son. You have no idea the sh_t I’ve been through, what I’m going through now."

"Xan, give him to me." She reached, pulling at her son’s garments.

Reluctantly, he let him go. He stroked his hair and the boy turned his gaze upon his father. The small violet eyes sparkled in the mid-winter afternoon.

"Tam, I have a transport ready, right now. Please be with me." He was almost embarrassed at the pleading he heard in his voice. Never before had he felt so desperate. It was as if his son and Tam were his only anchors in a sea of chaos. He reached out, cupping her face with his callused hand.

"I can’t, Xan. I’m with Mumby now and…"

"For f_ck’s sake, Tam! He’s an idiot. Look at him, I told him to go over there and stay on that damn telecomm. He’s weak!" He gestured toward Mumby who continued to chat away.

"Let him go, Xan. Let ‘me’ go. Please." Her eyes pleaded with him. After all the crap he’d been through, he almost gave in, wondering if this chase was worth the prize at all. Then his son turned to him and those eyes, his eyes told him yes.

"Hey! Hey! Who the fuck is this?" Mumby came stumbling towards them, interrupting the precious moment. Xanatos felt like turning and snapping his neck. The beauty of her and his son temporarily distracted him and he released his hold over the idiot.

"Just an admirer, sir." He spoke up, making excuses. "You have a beautiful family." He turned to Mumby, smiling wide pulling back the hood of his robe so his eyes could show.

"Well…thanks. Baby, you ready to go?" Mumby glanced at her confused, then looked back at Xanatos with shifty eyes. He hustled Tam and the baby away from Xanatos. He turned again as they walked away; Xan held his gaze making sure he saw his eyes. He watched them board a limo and then rise into the air. He wanted to scream. He felt such sorrow. He turned and saw the steeple to the Temple. Samus buzzed in on the comlink.

"Everything okay, sir?"

"Everything’s fine." He answered. "Let’s head back. We’ve got to get ready for tonight."

"Yes, sir."

He turned and stomped through the Gardens, spitting into the waterfall as he walked by. He wish he had time to take a piss in the courtyard; gods, how he hated this f_cking place! They would pay, all of them, they’d pay. He rubbed the scar on his face and repressed a giggle. F_cking hell, would they pay! After he put this series of events into motion, he’d get Tam back and his son. Then he would be able to rule over the Triumvirate like his father once hoped he would.

"Sweet, baby. Sweeeeeet baby." She tickled Omega as he lay in his crib. They got home a couple of hours earlier. Mumby had taken refuge in the media room. She didn’t know if he conducted business or what. He’d been awfully quiet on the ride back from the Gardens.

She turned a knob and a soft lullaby began to play. She leaned down and kissed her baby. His violet eyes sparkled up to her. Damn, he looked so much like Xanatos. The only thing about him that resembled her was the tawny color of his skin…and his nose.

"Yes, yes you have my nose, don’t you baby?" He gurgled and fought at the hands tickling his sides. "I love you. No matter what happens, just remember Momma loves you soooooo much."

"What’s going to happen?" A quiet voice called from behind. Mumby.

"Anything. Who knows what tomorrow brings, right baby?" She tickled her son again, and then watched as he settled down. He closed his eyes and she turned walking towards the light. She flicked it off and passed by Mumby, exiting the room.

"You didn’t answer my question, Tam. What’s going to happen?"

She turned, midway to their bedroom. "Nothing. I was just saying stuff, that’s all. Baby talk." She turned her back to him and walked in the room. She felt him behind her.

"That man in the Gardens…did you know him?"

F_ck. She lifted the shirt she wore over her head. Reaching from behind, she undid the clasp to her bra then lowered her pants and panties to the floor. Naked she turned on him. "No, I didn’t know him."

She walked past him headed to the bath. He reached out and grabbed her arm. She looked down to his hand then back up again. Was he crazy? Grabbing on her like this?

"Are you sure?" He asked again.

"I’m sure. Let my arm go, I need a shower."

His thumb began slow movements on her skin. She stared at him incredulously.

"I thought I recognized him…" He looked from her arm to her face.

"Oh?" She waited, ready to bolt. He acted so strange.

"Yeah, from the Gardens…before…"

She didn’t respond.

"He had an unusual eye color. Kinda like our son’s. Are you sure you don’t know him?"

She jerked her arm out of his grasp.

"Just what the f_ck are you saying, Mumby?"

He threw up both hands in mock innocence. "Just asking if you know the dude, that’s all."

She looked at him hard. He’d been so quiet on the ride home and then he’d stayed locked away in the media room since then. Had Xanatos told him something? She stared into his face. She read hurt there, but there was something else. Oh, hell no.

"Mumby. Have you been using again?"

He continued to dawdle, holding his hands in mid-air. He sniffed hard, wiping his nose. She saw blood there.

"Mumby!"

"Hey, you acted awfully familiar with him. Are you sure you don’t know the bastard? His eyes, f_ck Tam, his eyes look an awful lot like Omega’s. Are you sure you didn’t f_ck him while you were with me?"

She hauled off and slapped him hard. He stumbled, turning. He came up laughing.

"How dare you talk to me like that! I told you that I didn’t know that bastard and I meant it. What the f_ck is wrong with you?"

He seemed to sober for a second. "Nothing. Well, I’m high, but… Listen, I’m going out. You stay here and think real hard about the past two years, all the sh_t I’ve done for you…"

"All you’ve done for me?" She yelled. "I never asked you for anything, Mumby."

"Okay…okay. Just stay here, get your sh_t straight. When I come back…" He sniffed again. "When I come back, I want you to tell me the truth…about ‘everything’, alright?"

She didn’t answer, just continued to give him the biggest go to hell look she could muster.

"I love you. And that kid. But something doesn’t sit right with me when it comes to you and that f_cking Jedi!" He yelled, but stumbled as he did so. It would’ve been a comical scene had not the gravity of the situation been so heavy. He began laughing. Gods, he was high! "I come back…be here. We’re gonna talk." He turned into the hall, leaving her alone in the bedroom. "Farny-Boy, yoo-hoo…" She heard him calling. Farnsworth would take him to the club where she didn’t doubt he’d get even higher.

She walked into the bath and got in the shower. She let the hot water rinse away the shame of her past. One time. All it takes is one time to sleep with someone and it just f_cks your life up totally. How could she fix this?

She stayed in the shower for a while. Soaping every part of her body and cleansing the thick tresses of her hair. She stepped out, dripping wet and feeling a little better. She wrapped a towel around her body and stepped quietly down the hall and into Omega’s room. She found him, still asleep. She smiled at him. He was the innocent in all this mess. Damn adulthood!

Suddenly, a noise erupted from the living room. Glass shattered and fell. She turned, fearful of who the intruder might be; her mother-instinct kicked in. She grabbed the nearest blunt object and tiptoed into the hall.

"Farnsworth?" She called.

There was no answer.

"Mumby?" She called again. Maybe he threw something at the window on his way out; but that had been over an hour ago. Was he back so soon? "Mumby?" She called again.

She peeked around the entranceway into the living area. The curtains blew. It was cold outside and the flames in the hearth flickered with each small gust of wind. She reached the light switch attempting to flick the unit on. Nothing. Again, she flickered, timing each one hoping for light. She stepped down into the living area and moved slowly across the space.

"Hey." A voice sounded behind her.

She turned, finding Xanatos sitting at the base of the entranceway. Part of her was relieved, but the other part scared. She didn’t know what he wanted this time. Scratch that, she didn’t know what he would ‘do’ this time, she corrected.

"Xan, what are you doing here? And why did you break the glass?"

"Oh, the glass…"

"Well?" She asked lowering the object in her hand.

"I had to make it look like a burglary." The light was bare in the room, but she could see him smiling.

"No." She shook her head. "No, Xan. Get the f_ck out of here now before I call the authorities."

He rose and began walking towards her. "Don’t worry. I already did."

"You what?" A figure stepped from the hallway holding a package. Wait, that wasn’t a package. "Omega!" She ran towards her sleeping son, but Xanatos reached out and turned her away.

"What are you doing, you bastard?! I’m not going to let you take my son!"

"That’s ‘our’ son and don’t worry, you’re coming with." He turned, nodding to the figure holding Omega. "Let’s go."

He lifted her in his arms, cradling her struggling figure to his chest. She wore only the bath towel wrapped around her.

A large ship hovered near the platform. He walked the plank, carrying her. The other figure followed close behind. Once they reached the inside, he set her down in the co-pilot’s seat. Unceremoniously, he buckled her into the seat, using the Force to keep her from protesting too much. The baby had awoken. He cried and she begged for him. Xanatos took the child from the other figure.

"You know what to do." He heard him say. The other person exited the ship. She heard the plank rise and the door close and seal.

"What are you doing, Xan?"

He had little Omega. He pressed a couple of buttons in the console and a compartment opened up. He slid the child inside, motioning for him to be quiet. He sat next to her in the pilot’s seat. She continued to cry out, cursing him and struggling from the binding seatbelts.

"Don’t worry, Tam. He’ll be fine. I had that compartment especially designed for infant spaceflight."

She gave him a look of horror. So much sh_t on one day. What were the odds?

"What about Mumby?"

He turned to her. "What about him?" He smiled.

"He has to know what’s happened. He deserves at least that much."

"He’ll figure out something." Xan replied. He nodded toward the house. There were flames pushing from the inside.

"Oh, no." She cried. "You can’t do that to him."

"He’ll be comforted knowing you and the child died a quick and painless death." He turned away from her, programming the ship into orbit.

"You’re a monster. I’ll never forgive you for this!" She spat at him.

"Monster, huh? I love you. That’s MY child that you’ve been playing off as his. I’m only doing what’s right for my son and for you. You’ll see it one day. You’ll love me, too. I’ve got three things to live for and two of them are you and Omega. Now, sleep."

He reached out and touched the side of her head. Instantly, she was unconscious. When next she woke, she would find herself nesting in a gilded cage that lasted a lifetime.

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