Part Two: My Past, My Future
He woke up a day later with a worried Jaesa hovering over him. He wasn’t comfortable with her staring at him for long periods of time. It tended to make him nervous, but he allowed her, her staring if only because of his current condition. He allowed many things when it came to her. It both bothered and comforted him. After Taris, nothing on the ship was the same again.
“Malavai?” Jaesa asked quietly.
Her soft, concerned tone shattered his thoughts. He focused his eyes on her and said, “I am awake.” It was such a simple phrase, but it was a phrase used in great routine as of late. His dreams. His… condition. His state of mind when he was trapped. He would lash out, cry, scream, threaten, swing an angry fist if woken up incorrectly. Both he and Jaesa learned that the hard way. And he learned an even harder lesson when Syla caught sight of Jaesa’s face the one time – the one time – he had connected with his wild thrashings.
Jaesa moved away from him as he sat up and looked around. His eyes caught Barnabus’ and the older man nodded in greeting. He frowned. He wasn’t sure what to think when it came to the old man. The one from his dream or vision or nightmare or whatever had happened to him was different – enormously so. But he still had one goal he would repeat throughout their journey: he was there to help his grandson. And that held true no matter where he was, no matter what he was doing, or who he was killing, Barnabus was right there, watching, waiting, offering advice and assistance. He absorbed the darkness Quinn couldn’t handle. He balanced Quinn when he needed it most.
“Can you eat?” Jaesa asked softly.
He nodded silently and moved to stand. Slowly, he rose to his feet and did a stretch test. First his toes. Curl. Uncurl. Curl. Uncurl. Next his ankles. A gentle roll around one way then back the other. His knees he wobbled. His hips he shimmied. His back he shifted and popped. Now the fingers. Curl. Uncurl. Then the wrists, the elbows, a roll of the shoulder. Finally, his neck. One way round then the other. Nothing painful, nothing sore. All good. As Jaesa left for the kitchen, he left for the refresher. A day unconscious in the Tatooine heat made him feel sticky and gritty at the same time. The sand was everywhere.
Jaesa busied herself with a simple, yet filling breakfast: fresh cut fruit and croissants. She had picked up the skill to bake while she lived as a servant girl, but she enjoyed it enough to continue after joining the Jedi. She was pleased to find that Jedi were allowed some pleasures, as long as they served the greater good and a healthy breakfast made for a healthy training session. She let her mind wander as the croissants baked and, naturally, found herself thinking of Malavai, of what happened to him. From what she saw, he hadn’t been unconscious for very long, a few seconds at the most, but the effect on him was immediate and frightening. There was a sharp spike in his Force signature, something cold and something dark. Something she hadn’t felt since her time in the medbay during her meditations. Whatever it was appeared quickly then vanished as if never there. Barnabus felt the spike too, if his wide eyes and thin frown was any indication. She wanted to ask, she could tell he knew something, but she refrained and he did not offer the information.
In the shower, Malavai focused on organizing his “new” memories. He had prepared his mind for this or, rather, was forced to. While his mind focused, his body moved. He washed himself thoroughly, mechanically, quickly.
He had to look forward though his mind would be looking back. Focusing. Refocusing. Learning. Forgetting. Relearning. After all this time, after all these years, why was the time right, right this very instant? It didn’t matter, what was done was done. Still, he couldn’t help, but wonder at the purpose of creating new memories on top of old ones and erasing old ones with previous ones. He shook his head, thinking about this issue was bringing on a migraine. It wasn’t simple. He needed to type this out. Get his charts and diagrams going. Simplify this matter the only was he knew how.
He exited the shower and dressed in a set of streets. He hadn’t remembered bringing in the clothes with him, perhaps he had. It didn’t matter, his memory wasn’t the best right now and it was of no consequence. Unlike the other memories he would need to sort through. He dressed and readied himself for the day. After cleaning his teeth he focused his attention on his hair and his stubborn cowlick. He had always wanted a shorter hairstyle, but a cut closer to the scalp revealed scars that had held little meaning to him. Until now. Now, everything had a meaning – a new meaning. Everything he had believed, had thought he had known, everything was now disrupted. His balance, his precious and hard fought for internal, mental balance all shattered. Shattered, but patched. It didn’t make sense to him, but whatever had happened had fixed something within him, something he hadn’t known was broken. That was the point of the failsafe keyword, to fix what was broken whether or not he realized he was broken. Was there always the chance that he would be broken in such a manner that would facilitate the need for the keyword, the need to be fixed? Yes, he supposed the chance was always there. With great reluctance, he exited the refresher and took up a chair near Barnabus. Jaesa entered the room the moment he sat down, her arms laden with fresh, streaming croissants and tea. They ate in relative silence before Malavai broke it.
“Sartus,” he said quietly.
“Means ‘repaired’,” Barnabus supplied helpfully.
Jaesa arched a brow, but remained silent.
“Removed,” Barnabus said quietly. “By you.”
Malavai blinked hard. “Cerrill?”
Barnabus sighed quietly and picked up his teacup. Malavai’s memories were being sorted and quickly. He must still be split somewhere. Damn, his methods hadn’t worked completely. His failsafe, his last ditch effort. His – damn it!
“She is alive,” Barnabus said finally.
Malavai stared at Barnabus expectantly. He wanted as much information as quickly as possible. He didn’t have much leave left and he doubted the Wrath would extend it on the basis of curiosity. The Wrath. A shudder ran through him at the thought of asking her for anything. He wanted off her ship. Away from her. And, perhaps, away from Jaesa. The other, the angry Sith version of himself had made arguments as to why staying was a bad idea. He hadn’t forgotten and he was right. He was attached to Jaesa and, in a sick way, attached to Syla. He snapped himself from his thoughts. Cerrill first, the Wrath later, and Jaesa sometime between then.
“She maintains a position on Hoth,” Barnabus said. “It reminds her of home.”
“Home?” Jaesa asked, finally voicing the questions in her mind.
“Cerrill is a Chiss,” Malavai supplied. “One of the staff from the facility.”
“We don’t have time to go over this in great detail, Jaesa. We can talk on the way there,” Malavai said quickly. “Pack your things. I’ll head to the Cantina to close our ticket and inform Teala of our imminent departure.”
He was gone before she could reply. Suddenly, they were heading for Hoth to chase after someone from some facility who may or may not answer their questions. She shot Barnabus a look, but the old man simply smiled at her. She was not thrilled about this sudden change of itinerary, especially with Malavai on the mend from whatever had happened to him. Suddenly and inexplicably, an ice cold chill ran up her spine. This did not bode well.