Lodestone: A Wynston/Ruth Alternate Universe
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12.17.2012 , 05:51 PM |
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The recurring dream is imported from RMC's canon line:
Ruth was standing, somewhere, nowhere, she couldn't tell. It didn't matter because Quinn was there with her, kissing her, his arms securely around her, his mouth warm and tender as it was the day he had first held her. It was impossible to hurt when he was here like this, and so without thinking too hard about why, she poured herself into it. She ran a hand through his hair, down around his neck and arm, thrilling to his touch. When his hand slid up her back she felt the snub-nosed blaster moving up to nestle against her neck.
She kept running her hands around his shoulders and back, kissing his lips, his cheek. "Walk away now," she whispered, not for the first time, "and I'll spare you."
His free arm stayed firmly, comfortingly around her waist. He kissed her nose. He repeated the familiar words. "I cannot do that, my lord."
"Malavai. Walk away." She should have said better words, smarter words, more persuasive words, but she didn't have any.
"There is only one way this can go," he reminded her.
"No. That wasn't true." She kissed him and left the script behind. "It isn't true, you don't have to do it. Don't talk. Don't shoot. Don't anything, just be with me."
The blaster brushed the back of her neck, its touch steady and cold.
"No." She pulled him tighter. "Don't. You haven't done it yet. We can still be together, I can still love you, at least until I wake. Let me have tonight. Please."
Quinn, hard-eyed, opened his mouth
"Wake up, sweet." It was a different voice, gentle and insistent. "Look at me."
When Wynston's finger brushed Ruth's cheek she seized his wrist, heart pounding, and grabbed at the – nothing in his hand. She frowned at the absence of a weapon for a moment, then looked up at the Chiss.
"You're safe," he said, then leaned down to kiss her nose. "Are you all right?"
She didn't answer that.
"What is it, darling?"
"Nothing," she said, purposely calming her breathing, and sat up. "Go back to sleep. I'll be back."
"All right," he said. It was a question, but she was already busy. Moving with certainty in the dark room, she grabbed a fresh slip and a robe, then headed out to the shower. Might as well wash him off of her while she figured out what to do with him.
She knew what to do with him. She should kill him.
Pleasant though it was to have that friendly solicitous presence, someone experienced and sympathetic to offer an illusion of safety and affection, this was nauseatingly obvious. She hated that she was such an easy target. One big bundle of needs, that was her, and they had had Quinn's entire time with her to record what was likely to work.
After cold weeks on Corellia she truly had been craving just a little more of the pleasant lie. But that was all she could afford. In the shock of first seeing Wynston's face, after a long day in the field, after more hunting and blood long after she had lost what she loved, then it was easy to say she would suspend disbelief, take his offer and not care about the cost. Now that she felt rested, more alive, refreshed from avoiding the agonizing end of that recurring nightmare for the first time, she found that she did care about surviving.
He showed up offering exactly what she wanted. Of course she was supposed to tumble into his arms. Was this really what he thought of her? Show up, make a speech, lead her around by the nose thereafter?
Practical: kill him.
That would leave left her with the team she had been struggling to keep it together for. Vette and Jaesa, whom she trusted, mostly. It was difficult that they knew little of the logistical and political challenges she was working so hard to navigate. Pierce, who was probably hers so long as she could keep him amused and look better than the canny opportunist's other options. She was playing the "I require a loyal soldier as a direct contrast to Quinn" as hard she could and thus far he was staying in line. Finally she had Broonmark, who would stay in all his bloody facelessness no matter what. A weapon, not a friend.
It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough, but there was no place she could find more.
What about Wynston's claims? Kaliyo, lost? He had given Ruth his sob story before he had heard hers, but surely he had known enough at the start to guess that 'lover went wrong, how saddening and difficult this is' would be a sound angle of attack.
His employers. Intelligence meant Baras; no matter how much she wanted to think otherwise, every Intelligence employee she had identified on Corellia was Baras's. Wynston had consistently expressed distaste for tyrannical Sith since the day she'd met him, but a man could express distaste for a lot of things he had no problem serving. And Wynston favored a strong Empire, too. Practicality, victory. Baras's song.
He was so much the same as the last one. Even the differences were calculated. She briefly, bitterly wondered if Wynston had come cheaper than Quinn because he was just an alien. A second attack at a discount must've been an easy decision for Baras. She herself had tried buying people with kindness, but that currency had failed; better to just stop him. Stop them all.
She layered her robe over her slip and returned to her quarters, taking one of the lightsabers from the shelf nearest the door as she did so. Wynston had spent enough of his life taunting Sith one way or another; she thought he would be satisfied to die at a Sith's hand. Either that or very surprised. Coming to her this directly really did mark him as the soul of arrogance. Well, it would be nice to surprise the other person for a change.
She stood in silence, letting her eyes adapt to the darkness. Wynston was curled up on the warm patch of the bed where she had been lying. Just sleeping.
He doesn't even think you're a threat.
His hair was tousled beyond all reason, which was her doing. She could just barely make out the shape of his lips, relaxed for once with neither the stiffness of his business demeanor nor the smile he gave so easily to her.
His smiles mean nothing. His kindnesses mean nothing. Everything he has ever said to you, it means nothing, except for this: He said 'You know what I am.'
She could crush him right now and he couldn't stop her. But then, she had always been taught that having power over people gave her the responsibility not to abuse it. She had the prerogative and the ability to break this man; that didn't make it right to do so.
You know what happened to the person who gave you those lessons? He was murdered. This is self-defense. This is what your life as Sith is to be.
She had never spilled blood in her own home before, and never someone she felt like this about.
What you feel when you look at him, it means nothing. It isn't worth dying for. The terms have changed, girl; learn that, and let Baras know you've learned it. Send his latest gift back to him in pieces. That's the game.
That was disgusting. Both sick and wrong.
Do you truly believe these people wouldn't do the same to you?
She didn't want to believe it.
"Ruth," Wynston said in a low level voice. He didn't move. "Will you be coming to bed?"
Her heart sank. "How long have you been awake?"
He sat up and swung his legs off the bed. "I haven't slept yet tonight."
"You don't have to do it. I'm hoping you don't want to."
"Yes, I'm sure you are."
"I brought neither an argument nor a weapon for this particular situation, though believe me when I say I've been looking for ways to improvise both since you brought me here. I had no idea it had gotten this bad for you."
"Well then, you learned something useful."
"You were talking before I woke you up. You said…someone…didn't have to do it. Don't shoot. Just be with you." He looked up at her, red eyes glowing in the darkness. "That's all I'd planned on doing."
"You'll talk to Jaesa tomorrow," she warned. "I'll see what she and her insight make of you."
"That's fair. I can't worry about talking to her, she seems like a good person."
"Her nature isn't in question."
"Will you come to bed, Ruth? Or should I leave?"
"I would mention option three but I really don't like it. If you're still worried…I can only say I haven't done it yet. And I won't."
He had listened, and the dream hadn't ended with a blaster shot this time. Something might come of it. She wanted something painless to come of it. "Let me have tonight?" she forced past a catch in her throat.
She crawled into bed beside him, took him in her arms. Maybe. Maybe he meant something, even if she wasn't sure what. "Now I feel a little bad for threatening your life," she said.
He laughed wryly. "Hm. It's nothing new for me, darling."
"No, I guess it isn't." She ran her fingers through his hair and squeezed him tighter. "I won't be like that. You can sleep this time," she said softly.
He kissed her collarbone. "You know? I believe I will."
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