[Read jedimom's author bio]
The Jedi and the Sith belong to George Lucas, bless him. The Academy belongs to Siubhan. Darth Mary Sue belongs to Katherine the Art Chick. Cynthia belongs to That Strange Becca Person. Thanks to all of the above for letting me play too, and to Siubhan for "Requiescat," which started the whole thing. Anybody got any yellow Skittles?
[Ed note: For this story, I've left the author's original //...// around mindspeak because there's so damn much of it. Using italics would have actually been more confusing. Also, this story uses an entirely different backstory for Maul than the one that's Sith Academy canon. "Khameir Sarin" is a backstory that was printed in Cinescape magazine and has been circulating around the Internet ever since the movie came out. It's just as canon as the Sith Academy version where he was raised by Tauntauns. For the record, everything official from Lucasfilms lists Maul's background as "unknown."]
"Why, this is Hell; nor am I out of it." --Mephistopheles, The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
"I do know that the worst sin--perhaps the only sin--passion can commit, is to be joyless. It must lie down with laughter or make its bed in hell." --Lord Peter Wimsey, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
"Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turned,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd." -- The Mourning Bride by William Congreve
//Sith do not wear butt floss.//
Darth Maul scowled at the thong, a mere wisp of scarlet satin dangling from Obi-Wan's fingertips. "I do NOT wear butt floss," he said aloud. "Not ever. Not even for you." He could imagine the Handbook updating itself next door. Only his Sithly self-control kept him from choking and snorting with unseemly laughter.
Obi-Wan dimpled dangerously. "You wouldn't care to place a small wager on that, would you?" His blue eyes sparkled and Maul could feel the Force crackling around him. He anticipated Obi-Wan's lunge by a millisecond and ducked. Off-balance, Obi-Wan laughed as Maul swept his feet out from under him and sent him flying to land ignominiously on his butt just short of the bed. Maul lunged after him as he kept skidding and slammed up against the footboard, hard.
There was a light too bright to see, a noise too loud to hear--
pain roaring darkness pain heat smoke pain
Stunned, Maul crawled forward, groping blindly. He found Obi-Wan's bare feet, unmoving...slid his hands up the padawan's jean-clad legs, to the waist, up the limp torso, the t-shirt in rags, soaking wet with...blood? Slowly, cautiously, Maul's hands slid up the ragged back, to the neck, the head...
The back of Obi-Wan's skull gave under the infinitesimal pressure of Maul's fingertips, sagging inward.
//No!// Gently, Maul drew Obi-Wan's unresisting body forward into his lap, leaning the torso against his own chest, cupping his hands around the back of the head, not quite touching the dripping hair. Ruthlessly he drove his own pain and confusion out of his consciousness, focusing every scrap of his control on the Force, delicately shifting the broken plates and splinters of Kenobi's skull back into alignment, keeping the shards of bone off the brain stem....
An eternity later, Qui-Gon Jinn pounded down the hall, leaped over the blown-out door, and stumbled into Hell.
One of the resident demons was cradling his padawan in its lap like a lost child.
"Qui-Gon." The voice was a ragged whisper. The horned head lifted, the vivid ruined face turned sightlessly towards him. The bright tattoos were overwritten by new, brighter patterns, complex designs of blood and char. The flaming eyes were gone, replaced by ragged oozing emptiness. Qui-Gon almost missed the creature's next words. "Skull fracture. Help me. Can't..." The patterned fingers were trembling with shock and exhaustion.
Qui-Gon knelt beside them, one arm sliding between the two to take Obi-Wan's weight, the other hand cupped behind Maul's shaking hands. "I've got him. You can let go," he said gently.
Maul vaguely sensed vibration, conducted through the floor perhaps. "I can't hear you," he rasped. "I'm deaf."
//I've got him. They're coming with the bacta tank. His breathing and pulse are steady. You can let go.// Qui-Gon's mental presence was strong and calm, infinitely compassionate, infinitely reassuring.
//So that's what he sees in you,// Maul thought vaguely. He sank gratefully into unconsciousness.
Awakening was marked by the loss of sight and sound and the return of pain. He cast about him with the Force as best he could, appalled by the feebleness of his attempt. Someone familiar was at his bedside. As soon as he became aware of the fact, a small, strong hand grasped his own.
//You saved my brother's life,// thought Mary Sue. //Name it, it's yours.//
//Hide him,// pleaded Maul. //He knows. When I was trying to heal him--I couldn't keep my shields up. He could see everything. Sidious will kill him.// Her slim hand twitched in his.
//What about you?//
//I'm dead already. He's probably gone after Cynthia to make her his new apprentice. Obi-Wan and I will be her first assignment. Hide him.//
//Who do you think set the bomb?//
Darth Mary Sue's rage and hatred were visible to Maul's inner eye as a roiling cloud of red and black, interwoven with purple lightning. He sighed as the wave of Dark Side energy flowed along their mental link and between their joined hands, strengthening him. Mary Sue planted a kiss in his palm and was gone.
Maul lay drifting on an uneasy sea of sometimes effective painkillers, glad to know Obi-Wan still lived, trying not to think about what had happened to his face.
Waiting to die.
It came soon, as he had known it would. He needed neither eyes nor ears, he barely needed the Force he still commanded only weakly, to sense the frustrated malevolence of his master and the gleeful sadism of Cynthia. He was jerked out of bed and slammed spreadeagled against the wall.
//Where is Kenobi?//
//It's eleven o'clock. Do you know where your son is?// Maul sneered. He felt rather than heard a lightsaber ignite. Some inner resonance told him it was his own and he felt vaguely insulted that Sidious had given it to Cynthia.
//Where is he, horn-boy?//
//Get out of my head, bitch. And by the way, go fuck yourself.//
Cynthia's amusement was eerily like his master's. //You're going to be sorry you said that.//
Her first stroke castrated him, shearing away both balls and penis. Sidious flipped him over, shoved his face into the wall, and Cynthia hamstrung him. Without eardrums, his screams sounded strange to him, all low frequencies conducted through the bone, but he could feel the sound tearing at his throat.
//Where is Kenobi?// Sidious asked again. Maul forced his head to turn towards his master and spat at him. Spat blood, probably, judging by the taste in his mouth. He grinned, hoping he had ruined Sidious's outfit.
Cynthia held the blade of the lightsaber against one of Maul's horns and slowly forced it downward, burning the horn itself, charring the sensitive flesh at the base. //Where is he? You know it's only a matter of time.// She started on the next horn. Maul gasped, howled, whimpered, but part of him was oddly detached, wondering when he would lose consciousness. Even if he had known where Obi-Wan was, he would not even have been tempted to tell them. The years of torture he had endured at Sidious's hands had prepared him well for this day. Beneath the tidal wave of pain he cherished this crumb of grim humor.
Finally Sidious released the Force-hold that kept him pinned to the wall and flung him face-down across the bed. Maul lay still, breathing raggedly. He knew what was coming next and almost welcomed it as an end to a pointless existence. But Cynthia was more inventive than he had given her credit for. She braced the hilt of the lightsaber across the back of his skull so he could feel the change in pitch as she dialed the power setting lower... lower... a shudder went through him as he realized he could no longer count on being killed. Both his tormentors felt it, and laughed.
Maul felt a sudden jolt through the metal frame of the bed. His skin reported a slight change in air pressure. The door had been slammed open. He sensed a maelstrom of disturbance in the Force, swirling currents, raging conflict, but he could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing but the pain of his injuries and the first dawning realization of exactly what was left of his body. The shame was far worse than the pain had been. He was just beginning to consider whether he could muster the strength to kill himself when a hand brushed the back of his head, accompanied by a commanding mental voice: //Sleep.// He slept.
He woke slowly, in a familiar bed, cradled by familiar arms. He tried to open his eyes. Abruptly, he remembered and jerked away from Kenobi with a gasp.
"No," he said aloud--shouted, perhaps; he could no longer monitor his own voice. He curled into a fetal position, crossed arms hiding as much of his maimed face and head as possible, belatedly realizing that his legs worked again and that the pain was almost gone. Someone had been busy. How long had he been in the bacta tank? Why couldn't they just let him die?
//That is not my name.//
//I won't call you Maul any more.//
//No? How about Mauled? Maybe Crawl?// He sobbed, unable even to form tears. Unable, unmanned, unmade...
//No. I love you.//
Maul laughed. //What's not to love? No more horns to get in your way. Hey, you get to be top all the time now. Maybe we should do it dog-style so you don't have to see my face...//
//Khameir, stop it.//
//I'll never want another lover. In fact, I'll never want a lover at all.// "Isn't that reassuring?" he continued aloud. "Do I sound like a girl now, Obi-Wan? Oops, I forgot, you don't like girls."
//Stop it, Khameir. Please.//
Maul grabbed Obi-Wan by the shoulders and shook him. //Look at me,// he demanded. //Open your eyes. Let me see what you see when you look at me.// Obi-Wan stubbornly shut him out.
"Damn you, Obi-Wan," Maul whispered tiredly. "Even Sidious and Cynthia were planning to kill me when they finished. I think." He winced, remembering, and released his grip on the padawan's shoulders. //Get it over with,// he contined silently. //You know what I am. Kill me. It's your duty as a Jedi.//
//I know what you were. You're not a Sith any more.//
//It's also a Jedi's duty to end suffering. End it.//
//Khameir...// A gentle hand stroked the unprotected nape of his neck.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" he screamed with mind and voice together. He rolled away, curled into a tight ball, hands protectively covering his mangled face. Gradually he realized his fingers were wet. Wet with tears.
Kenobi's tears. The padawan wasn't touching him, but Maul could sense him leaning over the bed and feel the tears falling onto his hands. Slowly, hesitantly, he uncovered his face, stretching out one hand, tentatively tracing the back of Obi-Wan's head, first lightly, then with increasing firmness. The ponytail was gone. The hair was much shorter, little more than stubble. Exploring, he found the padawan braid, still intact, and felt oddly relieved.
"When I first got to you I thought you were dead," he whispered. "Your skull was crushed."
//Obi-Wan, I can't live like this.//
//I can't let you die.//
//What are we going to do?//
There was no answer. Unless being held in a sobbing padawan's arms constituted an answer.
//How much do you remember?// Obi-Wan asked.
//We were wrestling. I threw you. You hit the foot of the bed and there was an explosion.//
//Yes. It was supposed to kill both of us. It was set to go off when the headboard touched the wall.//
//Wasn't it? But the charge was aimed upward, so only a small fraction of it hit us. By the way, how did you know it was Cynthia?//
//I don't remember... wait. I felt something... she heard it go off and she was very pleased with herself. Luckily she didn't check to see if she'd finished us off, and Qui-Gon got there before I passed out, or you probably would have been brain-damaged... // Maul shuddered.
//I would have died. One piece of bone was pressing on the brain stem.//
//Who saved my ass from Sidious and Cynthia?//
//Mom and Mary Sue. Mom whammied Dad and took him off somewhere; they're still not back. Mary Sue broke Cynthia's neck.// Obi-Wan said this with a certain satisfaction that was not becoming to a Jedi.
//How come you can hear and I can't?//
//They don't know. Both of us had ruptured eardrums. But there's something else wrong with you--they think maybe your inner ear bones are damaged. They were planning to do exploratory surgery when you got out of the bacta tank, but--//
//But they didn't want to waste it on a suicide. Obi-Wan--//
//Shh. Don't. I know.//
//Does the Jedi Council know your father's a Sith?//
//No. And I'm not going to tell them. Better to keep an eye on him without his knowing it.//
//He'll kill you.//
//You're underestimating my mother. And my sister, who owns half the galaxy.// Obi-Wan's head was resting on Maul's chest; Maul could feel him smiling. //And my lover, who is nearly as strong in the Force as they are, if he'll just give himself time.//
//One month, Khameir. Just one more month. Stay here with me. If you still want to die--//
Maul felt Obi-Wan's teeth grinding together. //I will kill you. You have my word.//
Maul's scarred lips brushed the top of Obi-Wan's head. //I'll stay.//
Obi-Wan had moved into Maul's apartment when his own was wrecked by the bomb. The place was a lot cleaner now, and a bit crowded, with the Habitrail 9000 (not even cracked!) wedged into a corner, twice as many CDs, more than twice as many clothes, and an elaborate cat-tower that gave My Apprentice a commanding view of Fluffi-Wan and Cuddles. At Maul's request Obi-Wan kept the lights off. Maul--he still couldn't think of himself as Khameir Sarin after so many years--gradually learned the new layout over the many hours when Obi-Wan was out attending classes. PlayStation and TV held no attraction for a blind, deaf ex-Sith, so Obi-Wan sold them. They kept the CDs, though Obi-Wan almost never listened to music anymore. Bored, Maul cautiously tried his hand at cooking and found that he could still do a creditable loaf of bread, though anything that had to be watched carefully, like a white sauce, was still beyond him. With hours of unfilled time, he began lifting weights, painstakingly rebuilding the muscle he had lost over the weeks since the bombing and torture.
Obi-Wan was gentle and unpressing. When Maul refused to go out, Obi-Wan stayed home with him outside of class hours. Maul grew almost frantic from sensory deprivation, so when Obi-Wan was home he gave his lover long backrubs, mind-talking to him, relating the thousand details of everything he had seen, heard, learned, thought when they were apart.
They did not make love. Maul offered once, reluctantly, and Obi-Wan gently turned him down. //If you can't, I won't,// he said, and that was the end of it, though Maul protested the unfairness of this arrangement to Obi-Wan.
Halfway into their agreed-upon month, Maul woke suddenly in the early morning hours, gasping and shuddering, in a cold sweat. Obi-Wan was instantly alert, holding him, calming him with gentle touch and the Force. //Bad dream?//
//I can't see anymore,// Maul thought, so panicked Obi-Wan could scarcely understand his mind-speech. //Even in my dreams. I'm blind. I'm deaf. I'm neutered. Obi-Wan, please--//
//You promised, Khameir.//
Maul shivered. //Two more weeks--Obi, I don't think I can do it. Not even for you.//
//Careful. The last time you said that, my apartment blew up.//
Maul put his head down on Obi-Wan's shoulder and laughed and sobbed himself back to sleep.
Later that week Maul felt a ripple in the Force. Curious, he extended his senses and found the origin of the disturbance in the hallway outside his door. //It's Mary Sue. May I come in?//
//Just a minute.// Maul unfastened the elaborate lock Obi-Wan had installed, wondering if it had actually stymied Mary Sue (trust a lockpick to pick a good lock, he thought crazily) or if she was just being uncharacteristically polite. Mary Sue stepped in and switched on the lights.
Maul flinched, then defiantly turned straight towards her. //What the hell,// he thought, //I wasn't even good enough for her before... // He sensed her gaze on him--critical? Curious?
//You look good,// she said dryly. He laughed, a short, humorless bark.
//I'll take your word for it. I have no idea what I look like, you know. Even the clothes. Obi-Wan threw out all my old stuff. For all I know I'm wearing lime-green jeans and a hot-pink Hello Kitty t-shirt. Like your father, ugh.// He snorted. //I'm babbling. Sorry.//
//It's not that bad.// Her mind-voice was coolly amused. //Look, I'll show you.// She took his shoulders, steered him to stand in front of Obi-Wan's full-length mirror. Standing behind him, she put her hands on his temples, and with a jolt of disorientation he suddenly saw the two of them through her eyes.
Mary Sue wore a black leather miniskirt and a white tank top. He had on dark-indigo jeans and a t-shirt of a subdued honey color. It suited him. He shied away from looking at his face at first, then damned himself for a coward and scrutinized his reflection carefully.
His tattoos were blurred and softened by a web of white scars. His eye sockets were less gruesome than he had imagined--just scarred, vacant pits. His horns were gone, cauterized into small, irregular lumps by Cynthia's work with the lightsaber. His arms and shoulders were slighter than he remembered; of course, he'd lost a lot of weight and he had a long way to go to get back in training.
//Seen enough?// Mary Sue's mind-voice shocked him. He had forgotten that these were her eyes he was using. He reached up and took her hands down from his temples. The world went black again, like a snapped-off videoscreen.
//Sorry. I didn't mean to be greedy. It's been a long time since I've seen anything.//
//Obi could do this for you. I'm surprised he hasn't.//
//He offered. I turned him down.//
//It's not important.//
//Maul--do I still call you Maul?//
//Whatever. Obi-Wan calls me Khameir now, but that's somebody else. Some kid. I'll still answer to Maul.//
//I came to tell you that Sidious--Palpatine--is back. Mom did something to his memory, and she convinced him that we'd altered your memory and Obi-Wan's. He won't come after you.//
Maul stiffened. //You aren't by any chance my successor?//
Mary Sue was still standing close behind him. He felt her chuckle. //No. And neither is Ben-Wa. I don't know who he's picked, but I think he's decided his kids are too... independent.//
//Good,// thought Maul. //I heard you offed Cynthia. Thanks.//
//No charge,// said Mary Sue.
//I wish I'd been awake for it,// Maul thought grimly.
//That did occur to me, but unfortunately not till after I'd put you under.// Mary Sue squeezed his shoulders gently. //Maul, Obi-Wan loves you very much.//
Maul grimaced. //I know. I wish I were man enough to return the favor.//
//No, I don't mean that. Or not mainly that. I just don't have the self-discipline to care more about what he wants than what I want.//
//What DO you want?//
//I want very badly to die in the very near future. I promised him a month. There are twelve days to go.//
//And my brother AGREED to this??//
//That's what I mean. That damned Jedi selflessness. He even offered to do it himself. But don't worry--on my worst day as a Sith I wouldn't have put him through that. I'll take care of it myself.//
The grip on his shoulders tightened. //I ought to tear your damned head off right now.//
//Be my guest. Your brother will be pissed, though.//
//Do you have ANY idea what your death is going to do to him?//
//I know how I felt when I thought that bomb had killed him. For that matter, do you have any idea what it's like to be deaf and blind? Not to mention castrated and dehorned like some fucking farm animal?// Breaking her hold, Maul spun to face her, grabbed her temples, smashed through her shields with a savage blow of the Force and dragged her awareness down into the black vortex of his emotions.
Isolation. A howling, desolate loneliness. Fear, the fear of a hunted animal that can no longer hear the twig snap under the predator's paw, or see the chasm yawning in its path. A dusty, echoing emptiness that was once alive with the fire of lust, of desire, home to a thousand exquisite sensations that would never again be possible. Helpless rage, shame, resentment, weakness, dependency, self-loathing. Worst of all, the knowledge that Sidious could sense all this, was relishing it, feeding on it, wallowing in it. And the desperate, panicked dread that Obi-Wan might sense it too.
Mary Sue struggled in his grip and cried out, hating herself for her weakness--or was that Maul? He released her, stepped back, waiting in the silence and the dark for her retaliation.
//That's why,// she thought faintly. //That's why you wouldn't share his eyes. You couldn't take the chance of showing him that.//
//Twelve more to go. But it wasn't this bad from the beginning. It gets worse as I get stronger. And the pain was a distraction, at first.//
//I was wrong. I thought you hadn't done anything for him. But it's still not enough, Maul.//
//It's the best I can do. You and Qui-Gon will have to pick up the pieces.//
Obi-Wan came in, shutting the door firmly so Maul could feel the vibration and wouldn't be startled. //Hi sis. Hi Khameir.//
//Hi, bro.// Mary Sue left Maul and went to meet Obi-Wan. Maul noted that they mindspoke to each other so that he could hear them too. //Considerate of them,// he thought privately.
//What were you two talking about?// Obi-Wan continued.
//Oh, just enumerating the many advantages of my current state,// Maul said. //You know, never having to listen to John Tesh...//
//Or the Kessel Spice girls...// said Obi-Wan.
//Or the Backdoor Bantha Boys...// Mary Sue continued.
//Never, ever, EVER being able to mistake Ben-Wa for you!// added Maul.
//Never having to see another one of my Da's clubbing outfits!// Obi-Wan chimed in.
There was a pause.
//Never even being tempted to sleep with your sister again,// finished Maul. //Excuse me.// He went into the bedroom and shut the door.
Eleven days later...
//Obi-Wan? What are you doing?// Obi-Wan looked up, startled. Once Maul had learned where everything was, he was able to move through the apartment as silently as My Apprentice.
//I'm sharpening a knife. Why?//
//It makes a really weird vibration. Why are you sharpening a knife? I keep all the knives sharp.//
//This is a new one. I didn't want to use one of yours.//
//Fuck tomorrow. You're not doing anything tomorrow. You won't even be here. Go to class or something and let me worry about that.//
Maul delicately explored the surface of the counter with his fingertips. //There are two knives.//
//One for you and one for me.//
//Remember what I said about making love?//
//If you can't, I won't. Same goes for living.//
//Obi-Wan, I am SO kicking your ass.//
//You can try.//
//I can call your sister.//
//So you can.//
//Obi-Wan, I can't let you do this.//
//You know how to stop me.//
//Don't blackmail me. We had a deal.//
//We did. I said if you still wanted to die I'd kill you. What happens to me afterwards is not your concern.//
//It fucking well is!//
//Are you saying that you love me?//
//Damn it, Obi-Wan, you know my real name, you know that I used to be a Sith, and you know fucking well that I've loved you since the first time I slept with you. Stop it.//
//If you love me, stay with me.//
//Are we having this conversation AGAIN? I can't. I can't do this anymore.//
//You don't believe me. You think you can bluff me into changing my mind.//
//No. I think I'd rather die with you than live without you.//
//You can't 'die with me.' I can die and you can die. That's it. The end.//
// "There is no death, there is the Force," // Obi-Wan quoted serenely.
//That's self-deluded Jedi bullshit.//
//Is it? Am I the only one that's noticed a red glowing hamster around here? I assume you can't see him any more, but I'd be surprised if you couldn't sense him.// Maul felt a bright twinge of pain that wasn't his own.
//It's okay. I was testing the edge and I got careless. Just a nick.//
//Why are you doing this? Be real. You can still see, you can still hear, you could still fuck if you'd just get over me--//
//You can still think, you can still feel, you can still use the Force, and you could still fuck too if you'd just let me link with you.//
//Why not? Just once, on our last night?//
//It is NOT your last night.//
//That's not up to you, Khameir.//
//Stop calling me that!//
//I'm sorry. I just can't think of you as "Maul". How about "my love"?//
//Obi-Wan--// Maul turned away abruptly, misjudged the distance and hit the edge of the table, hard. He bent over and tried to breathe.
//I'm sorry.// Gentle hands were on his shoulders, and a gentle nudge from the Force removed the temporary paralysis caused by the blow to Maul's solar plexus. //That wasn't fair. I apologize.//
//It's all right, Obi-Wan,// said Maul wearily. //I'm going to bed. Good night.//
//Let me come with you.//
//Please. Call it a good-bye present. Why are you so determined to shut me out?//
//What kind of pitiful shit-eating bastard do you think I am? Isn't it bad enough you have to see me like this without being in here with me?// Maul was shaking with rage and frustration. //And isn't it bad enough for me to know how you pity me without you rubbing my nose in it at close range? Leave me alone and let me die!//
//You want to die? Fine, die! And why the hell should you care whether I outlive you?//
//Because I love you and I want you to live!//
//How come you're the only one who's allowed to feel that way?//
//Obi--// A wave of dizziness struck Maul and he swayed. Obi-Wan caught him and held him up.
//Khameir. What is it?//
//I can't--// Maul passed out.
When he awoke, he was lying on the sofa with his head in Obi-Wan's lap. Obi-Wan was either asleep or meditating; he wasn't moving and his breathing was deep and even. His hand lay in the hollow of Maul's shoulder.
//I think you've been working too hard on shutting me out. You passed out.//
//No. I didn't look. Khameir, come to bed.//
//Please. Don't deny me this. My last night with you.//
//Please. I beg you.//
Maul didn't answer. Obi-Wan's hand moved to the back of his neck and began kneading the tense, corded muscles. Finally Maul sat up.
//All right. On one condition.//
//Don't kill yourself. Not tomorrow, not next year, not ever.//
//I can't promise you that.//
//You'll have to if you want me to sleep with you.//
Obi-Wan was still for a long moment. //I will undertake to live to be a very old man. But there might come a time when I have to die to protect someone, or to stop some disaster.//
Damn Jedi. Always trying to cover all the possibilities. One never knows when one might have to sacrifice oneself to save the galaxy. //But not on my account.//
//You have my word.//
Maul stood. //Fair enough. Let's get it over with.//
Obi-Wan followed him meekly to the bedroom. Too meekly. They sat on the bed and Maul tensed as Obi-Wan began pulling off his t-shirt. //Relax,// the padawan said calmly. //I'm not going to do anything you don't want me to.// Maul succumbed, scowling reflexively as he did every time he realized there were no horns to tear the shirt as it came off.
//Lie down,// Obi-Wan continued. //Get comfortable.// Maul complied and felt the bed shift as the padawan took off his own shirt and stretched out beside him, not touching, but close enough that he could feel body heat. Obi-Wan took Maul's right hand in his left. //Take a deep breath and let it out slowly,// said Obi-Wan.
//It always makes me nervous when you say that,// retorted Maul, but he inhaled deeply and then sighed. Obi-Wan's grip on his hand tightened abruptly--there was a sudden jerking sensation that had nothing to do with the physical world, a wave of disorientation--
Maul gasped. And heard himself gasp. His eyes flew open.
He could see the ceiling of the room.
"Obi-Wan!" His voice sounded strange, higher pitched, but not as high as he'd feared. He sat up. His body responded oddly--everything was wrong, all the sensations a bit off, even his connection with the Force was different. It was like being drunk--no, like being on Ecstasy--no, like being hit on the head--
Something brushed his right shoulder. The end of a braid.
He was in Kenobi's body.
//Obi-Wan!// he cried in panic.
//Shh. I'm still here. It's all right.//
//Where are you?//
//Here. In my body. With you. Relax, Khameir.//
//Where's MY body?//
//Next to us on the bed. It's okay. There's no problem as long as you don't stay out of it too long.//
//How long is too long?//
//Seventy-two hours is a good margin of safety.//
//How did you--//
//It's a Jedi technique. They don't teach it to everybody. And never to padawans.// Was there a hint of smugness in that statement?
//But you managed to persuade Qui-Gon.// Maul felt his--Kenobi's--face grow hot as he considered what kind of persuasion had been involved.
//No. Absolutely not. Not while you live.// Kenobi's mind-voice was passionate, adamant. //I belong to you.//
And Maul felt a sweet stirring in Kenobi's body that he had thought was lost to him forever....
Much later, when the two of them had adjourned to the couch to avoid jostling Maul's comatose body; when they had thoroughly exploited every nuance of Kenobi's nervous system to the point of ecstasy and then further, to the point of utter exhaustion; when they had staggered to the shower to wash off the sweat, semen and tears, they lay down again on the bed.
//Why don't they teach this to padawans?//
//It's too dangerous.//
//Well, if you stay out of your own body too long, it dies. And then there's this...// And Kenobi showed Maul how, with one sharp push of the Force, the host could be evicted from his own body, leaving it in the guest's possession forever.
//It's all right. I trust you.//
//Send me back! NOW!//
//Obi-Wan, NOW!// And with a wrench, Maul drew a shuddering, silent breath in his own body. Still shaking with reaction, he turned his back on Kenobi.
//Khameir, talk to me. What is it?//
//Don't ever do that to me again.//
//I won't have the opportunity. It's almost dawn.//
//Khameir, listen to me. Life is sweet and I'm not really ready to rejoin the Force just now. But if my body is what it takes to make you want to live, you can have it. Right now and forever. Do you understand me?//
//And let a Sith infiltrate the Jedi?//
//You're not a Sith. And Qui-Gon would know. I told him I'd make you the offer.//
//You had this planned a long time ago.//
//Yes, I did.//
//From the beginning?//
//Before you woke up in my arms after they took you out of the bacta tank.//
//Obi-Wan, don't. Don't tempt me.//
//I want you to live.// The padawan spooned up behind Maul and began kissing his neck and shoulders, methodically. Maul groaned at his body's total lack of response. Then he laughed, bitterly.
//You won, you know. It's not just sex.//
//No? Then why do you still want to die?//
//It's not just that I can't screw you. My brain is forgetting the whole concept of arousal, just like it's forgetting vision and hearing. Eventually I won't even be able to remember what it was like.//
//I can give you that too. Let me in.//
//Khameir, why do you think feeling your pain will be harder on me than watching you die?//
That stopped him for a moment. Sith were not big on searching their feelings, but he'd been living with a Jedi for the past month. //I'm ashamed. I'm afraid.//
//Ashamed of what? What Cynthia did to you? She thought she could destroy us both. Are you going to let her succeed? And what are you afraid of? A fate worse than death?//
//I'm ashamed of what I am. No, of what I'm not. I'm afraid--// he cut off abruptly.
//Afraid of what?//
//Afraid of losing you,// Maul said helplessly.
//Dying isn't losing me?// thought Obi-Wan in exasperation.
//When I die you'll still--//
"You'll still love me," whispered Maul miserably. Obi-Wan sighed heavily and leaned his cheek against Maul's bare shoulder.
//Khameir, I loved you when you were a Sith. I loved you when you used to fuck me and then leave me on the floor like dirty laundry. I loved you when you were screwing my sister AND my brother. I don't think I could stop loving you if I tried. Let me in. Please. We only have an hour left.//
One hour. One more hour and then it would all be over. He could survive anything for an hour.
Maul turned to face Kenobi and kissed his closed eyes softly. //All right.// He dropped his shields, all of them, as he had only done once before in his life, when he was holding together the broken pieces of his lover's skull. The howling wave of fear, hatred, shame, pain, rolled over them both, the Living Dark Side, seeking to ruin, to devour, to destroy. In Maul's memory, Obi-Wan heard for the first time the gloating laughter of Maul's master. His father.
Their bodies, their spirits, held on to each other with a fierce instinctive grip, life clinging to life. Maul was aware of Obi-Wan as a flickering flame of intense blue, the blue of his eyes, the same blue as his lightsaber. He saw himself as a dimmer, wavering light, red to gold to red to gold, indecisive, inconsistent, weak. Around them snickered and jeered and gnawed the Dark Side.
//Come home, Maul. It is your destiny.// The voice was his own. His old voice, deep, smoky, silky, seductive.
//No,// he whimpered, and hated himself for whimpering.
//Come back. And bring your boy toy with you.//
//You can't have him.//
//The Dark Side is stronger. There are thousands of Jedi and only two Sith. Two are enough to devour thousands.//
//You can't have him.//
//Who's going to stop us?//
//I am.// Contemptuous, withering laughter made him miss his body's deafness.
//We will destroy you. After we've finished playing with you. There's plenty of time. It could take decades and we will enjoy every moment as much as we enjoy the end. We will take your sweet little Padawan and suck his bones dry.//
//You can't touch him.//
//We already have. He lies, cheats, steals, whores, fucks in public--//
//You can't have him.//
//How do you know he's not already one of us? Why do you think he brought the two of you here? Why is he holding back while you do all the talking?//
//Because he loves me. Because he trusts me. Because he wants me to live.//
//Because he's toying with you. Because he's betrayed you. Because he's waiting just a moment longer before he stomps your miserable face in the mud and takes his place with us.//
Maul was vaguely aware that his body's hands were cradling Obi-Wan's face, his mouth moving in for one last kiss. In spirit he turned away from the seething blackness and towards the radiant blue.
//I love you, Obi-Wan. I trust you. My soul is yours. Do what you will.//
Waking was painful. His head ached, his muscles were sore as if he'd been run over by a ground transport, and the Force was detectable only as a different kind of pain and weakness. Maul groaned, and groped across the bed, seeking Obi-Wan.
He wasn't there. Maul tried to call him with mind-speech, couldn't. "Obi-Wan--" He wasn't even sure his voice was audible; it felt like a harsh croak. He felt the vibration of approaching footsteps and Obi-Wan slid into bed beside him, hugging him hard, arms trembling a little with the effort. Apparently Obi-Wan felt like he did.
The padawan freed one of Maul's hands and began tracing letters on his palm.
"i cant mind speak yet love you its morning will you stay with me?" The question mark took a long time to draw.
Maul wrote on Obi-Wan's palm. "forever"
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