"Will we be alone? I mean, to do this? I'm sick of having an audience," he said wearily.
The holo image of a woman smiled at him from beneath her hood. It wasn't a reassuring smile.
"You're still worked up about that? You poor thing," the woman chuckled humorlessly. "It was necessary to watch you. I had to know what you have been up to for the last three years. If it makes you feel any better, all the devices have been disabled."
He felt the palm of his hand tighten into a fist and resisted the urge to hit the table with it. "Oh, it does make me feel better, all right… knowing I've had fracking cameras in my fracking 'fresher for—" The look she gave him was enough to make him swallow his pride, along with the rest of that sentence. Holo transmission or not, she still had that… savage glint in her eye. He fought back a shiver.
"I have forgotten men can be such children. Oh well," she sighed and waved her hand. "No matter. Tomorrow we will conclude our… business."
"Where am I to meet you?" he asked hastily, eager to end the conversation. She eyed him intently.
"You stay where you are. You shouldn't be seen around Nar Shaddaa, not now. Expect me at the first nightfall."
"What?" he almost choked on his tongue. "You mean you… you can't…" Her chilling laughter silenced him effectively.
"What's the matter, afraid it wouldn't be appropriate? I'm touched, really, but we've been through too much together to worry about social conventions… wouldn't you agree?" As she smiled at him sweetly, he felt his insides rearrange themselves in a desperate attempt not to jump to his throat.
"Fine, enough with the games already," he growled. "First nightfall, got it."
"Good," the smile seemed glued to her face like a bizarre and disturbing mask. "One last thing… 'Atton'? Make sure that Twi'lek joygirl is gone tomorrow, will you? I can appreciate a pretty pair of headtails, but the details of your assignment are for your ears alone."
What the… didn't she just say the devices were disabled? How'd she… He stared ahead in bewilderment when it struck him. She did that to him. She dared do that to him, fracking Jedi witch! He felt cold rage rising up inside of him, his fingernails digging into the skin of his palm, drawing blood. The cool smirk on her face told him she knew exactly how he felt. And she loved it, relished every moment of it, even if she couldn't sense him. He would not have it. Not from her, not from anyone. Not ever again.
With a pained groan he relaxed the tightened muscles of his shoulders, forcing his heartbeat to slow down, and looked down at the holo image once more. "Anything else?" he snapped. "Or can I go back to sleep now?"
"Nothing but a 'sweet dreams,'" she chuckled. "You've certainly earned it. Until tomorrow."
He watched the cloaked figure extend one arm as if to flick a switch, then the image slowly blurred into static and disappeared. He sat in the near darkness of the room afterwards. He didn't know for how long, nor did he care, as the painfully familiar weight settled back on his shoulders. He had been a fool to think he could simply walk away from his past like that. He had been a double fool to ever attempt to. Now she had found him and there was no escape, no denying what he was, what he was meant to be.
Frack it all. Forcing himself to stand up, he dragged his feet back to the small bedroom and paused at the door, taking in the sleeping figure of a Twi'lek female on the bed, her perfect green skin glistening silver in the dim light. Well, none of that for him in the time to come. Might as well make the best of it. Taking a deep swig from the bottle by the bed, he slipped under the covers, leaving all uncomfortable thoughts to be dealt with later.
He awoke to someone gently stroking his hair, feeling a groan vibrate in his throat as his temples throbbed painfully.
"Waky waky," a soft female voice said and he froze as he recognized it. No matter what they said, having a Sith Lord wake you up was not the best way to start a day. It never had been. He carefully inspected the left side of the bed. The Twi'lek girl was gone, meaning it was probably late already. He mentally cursed himself and the booze.
"I thought you were gone," he mumbled, unwilling to open his eyes. "They said Korriban was a dead place."
"It is," she replied, shifting on the bed beside him. "And I am gone. Officially. You were difficult to find."
He winced. "Why me?"
Her hand left his forehead and moved to cup his cheek instead. He fought the impulse to swat it away. She bent down and he felt her warm breath against his ear.
"Because, Jaq, you were the best," she whispered. "The question is, are you still?"
Without warning, she forced her lips upon his in a passionate, insistent kiss. Atton felt his body tense like a string, blood running both cold and hot at once in his veins as long forgotten feelings and memories struggled to resurface from the depths of his mind. There was a presence there, too. An alien feeling, like a black silken ribbon winding itself through his brain, trying to penetrate his thoughts. Sharp fingernails sank into the skin of his chest and he shuddered, his back arching involuntarily at her touch. She was good, no doubt about that. But her old tricks did not work on him, not anymore. Without a second thought he put up his barriers, feeling no small amount of satisfaction as she yelped at the impact with the wall of blind rage he threw at her. He felt her withdraw as her fingers combed through his hair in an almost tender caress.
"It's good to know you haven't lost your touch." Her lips brushed his for the last time, and only now did he taste blood on his tongue. It seemed she didn't lose her touch either…
He opened his eyes to see her looking down at him, a self-assured smirk on her face. She hadn't changed much. Her hair was shorter, her skin not as grey as he remembered, but her eyes were still the same, deep brown with a strange, golden hue that made them glow in the dark; eyes he had hoped never to look into again.
"You can't make me do what you want anymore," he growled, suddenly feeling the need to rebel, to show her he was not afraid. She just smiled.
"Oh, but I can, Jaq. Do not think for one moment I'm letting you live for old times' sake. I need you, and you will do as I ask if you want to survive." She tilted her head, regarding him through half-closed eyelids. "Isn't that your specialty? Survival at all costs?"
Atton gritted his teeth. "Tell me who I need to kill and leave!"
She stood from the bed and strode to the small table on the other side of the room. "Kill? You are free to kill anybody you want. Except for this one." She tossed him a datapad and he caught it in mid-air, sitting up. The screen showed a holo record of a woman dressed in Republic uniform. "I need you to find her."
Atton stared at the image, recognizing the insignia on the woman's uniform. "A general?" There was little information listed on the side of the screen, but the dates matched… "You mean she's a Jedi?"
"Was," Revan corrected. "There's no indication that she's in touch with the Force anymore, which makes her almost impossible to track for me. That's where you come in."
Atton snorted. "What makes you think I would be able to track her down?"
She crossed her arms on her chest, a wicked grin spreading across her lips. "Because it was your job. And don't forget I've been watching you. You've got the connections and time I don't have. I, on the other hand, have the credits you do not."
Credits, was it? "Where was she last seen?"
She sighed. "That is the problem. She's not anywhere in known space, that much I know. If I were you, I would start looking in the Outer Rim."
"Great," he groaned. "You do know this could take months, if not years, right?"
Her expression darkened suddenly as she stalked closer to him, and for a second he wondered if he'd pushed too hard. "I don't care how long it takes," she said. "I will not be here, anyway. I have other… pressing matters to attend to. Just find her, Jaq."
He looked down at the datapad, rapidly calculating his chances. Talk about a needle… "And assuming I do find her? What then?"
Revan looked him in the eyes and there was urgency in her voice when she spoke. "Protect her. Something is about to happen soon, something big, and I'm going to need her for it. There are… others looking for her, and she won't be safe here. I am fairly sure they are beyond your control, but I need you to try anyway. Keep them, and any Exchange or bounty hunter scum off her back."
Had he not been so shocked, Atton would have laughed. "You want me to play babysitter for an ex-Jedi? Do I need to learn juggling too?"
She reached out, without touching him, and suddenly his trachea was being held in an iron grip of her will. Her fingers twitched slightly and he wheezed, fighting for breath. Her eyes were still fixed on his and he found himself unable to look away. But instead of the anger and cold amusement he expected to find there, there was a dark, haunted look that frightened him in ways he couldn't even begin to describe. They were not the eyes of a Sith Lord, but the eyes of a woman standing on the very brink of insanity. How was it possible that he hadn't noticed it before?
Finally she let go of him and his hands went to his throat as he coughed, swallowing air greedily. She approached him again and knelt beside the bed, her gaze level with his. She caught his face in her hands, those deceivingly delicate hands, her thumbs brushing the dried blood from his bottom lip.
"I know you can do this, my best assassin. I know you won't disappoint me this time."
The certainty in her tone was perhaps worse than any kind of threat. Her fingers found their way to the nape of his neck, stroking gently, and this time he did back away, shaking off her hands with disgust. Her smile was almost sad as she looked at the datapad in his lap.
"Lucky girl," she murmured. "She doesn't even realize what a wonderful gift I am sending her." She stood swiftly, her expression stony again. "The credits will be transferred to your Corellian account. Use them wisely, Jaq."
He watched her turn around and leave the room, her dark cloak flying behind her, a testament to what she once was. Then it was almost as if she had never been there at all. Almost. Atton took the datapad in his hands, studying the strange woman's face, committing it to his memory.
A gift? He would make sure to be one she would never forget.