After escaping the Bone Pit, Hawke had dropped the freed prisoners off at the spaceport, where they could safely get off world. Some of them had wished to stay, but Anders had pointed out that the Empire could easily recapture them if they went home. Many of them had been injured from working down in those mines, something Anders had taken care of. Before they'd left, the freed prisoners promised that they would never forget the Jedi healer who saved them, or his compatriots.
With all of that taken care of, Hawke had flown to the Hawke's Talon outside of the city to the coastal area, the Wounded Coast, to lay low for a while. He'd even given Anders his own set of quarters. It hadn't taken long for the lot of them to conk right out upon laying down in their respective berths.
It was morning now, and Garrett groaned and stretched as he awoke, getting all the kinks out, before rising to get cleaned up.
As a ship meant for long trips, the Hawke's Talon had a small 'fresher and kitchenette. It only had one shower and toilet, but the shower was a water shower rather than just a sonic. Sometimes the mornings could be a race to see who got to use the 'fresher first, but the twins were still asleep, so Garrett had first dibs. Once he was cleaned up, Bethany had awoken and was waiting her turn, and she wasted no time while Garrett went to prepare some caf.
Morning beverage in hand, Garrett walked to the cockpit to just sit in silence, sipping from his mug. He liked to sit in here sometimes, just collect his thoughts.
Looking out the cockpit window, he noticed a green light just outside, flashing along the beach.
Taking his caf with him, Garrett walked outside.
Anders, lightsaber in hand, danced along the beach, all smooth pivots and sidestepping, his green blade swinging through the air like a staff or baton. The tip skidded the sand as he swung downward, before going into a smooth uppercut. Turning on the tips of his toes, Anders twirled in place and swung sideways at invisible opponents.
It was almost like watching a ballet. Garrett found himself mesmerized.
It wasn't long before Anders stood in a resting position and closed his lightsaber.
"How long have you been up?" Garrett asked.
"Only about an hour," Anders put his lightsaber away and approached the other man. Hawke offered his mug of caf, but Anders politely shook his head. Anders looked at the ground, then back up at Garrett. "I should apologize. Had I known it was the Empire running that operation, I wouldn't..."
Garrett held up a hand and cut him off, "Are you kidding? It actually felt kind of good to stick it to the Empire."
"Still, keep this up and you might find yourself with a target on your back."
"Bring it on," Hawke replied, a witty smirk on his lips. Anders couldn't help but smile back at Garrett's confidence.
The two of them sat on the ship's ramp, looking out at the sea, smelling the salt air and listening to the sea birds caw overhead.
"I meant to ask," Anders said, "What brought your family to Kirkwall?"
"The Empire," Garrett replied, taking a sip of caf. "A civil war just broke out on our home planet, Ferelden, between the inhabitants and the Empire. My brother and I got wind that the Empire was going to march through our home town, looking for unwilling conscripts. Mother's originally from Kirkwall, and she figured that since we had family and an estate here, we could just lay low." He sighed. "Turns out this world isn't any better. If anything, the Empire has an even bigger choke hold on this world than Ferelden. Not to mention finding out there is no estate because your uncle is bad with credits."
"It's funny, but I'm actually from Ferelden too. I mean, my family were from the Anderfels sector, but I was born and raised in Ferelden, before my powers manifested and I was taken to the Jedi temple on Coruscant."
"What was it like there?" Garrett asked. "I mean, before Palpatine took over everything."
"Being a Jedi," Anders paused. "It wasn't as wonderful as the stories make it out to be. I mean, I had friends there, some of whom I was very close with, but we're told that we can't form meaningful attachments, because that will tempt us towards the dark side."
"Yet you can still have friendships and take on students, even though those are basically attachments," Garrett pointed out, a bit of snark in his voice.
"You know, I actually pointed that out once," Anders smiled at Garrett. "I was told not to think about that too hard." Both men shared a brief chuckle, before Anders sombered again. "The Jedi preached that all life was more important than a single individual, that we must strive to protect the whole. But… that always felt too abstract and hollow to me. I mean, what's the point of protecting life itself if we don't value lives. If that makes any sense."
"No, it does," Garrett assured him.
Anders gazed out into the ocean. "We were held up as the protectors of the galaxy, yet for the most part, the Jedi sat on their hands, saying that it wasn't their place to get involved in certain affairs. Then the Clone Wars broke out, and we found ourselves thrust into a war, because the masters told themselves that it was our duty to protect the galaxy from the threat the Separatists, and Count Dooku, posed. So we accepted a clone army, and found ourselves generals in a war we should have prevented from ever happening." A beat. "Padawans as young as fourteen were given command positions, and thrust into war."
Sensing Garrett's question, Anders said, "I was only twelve when the purge happened, but the thing is… I wasn't there for it. See, a… friend and I, had decided that if we were going to be Jedi, then it would be on our terms. So we just left, a few months before the purge. We were going to travel the galaxy, righting wrongs, saving people, training each other."
All at the age of twelve, Garrett thought. What had life with the Jedi been like, that children were forced to mature so quickly. Had Anders really gotten to just be a kid?
Anders hung his head, and got that same sad look in his eye from last night. Garrett gently asked, "What happened to him?"
"The Sith," Anders whispered. "It happened a year ago. We were on Tatooine, investigating a lead on a possible Jedi survivor. It was a trap, and we found ourselves facing a Sith Inquisitor. He was powerful, and very skilled with a lightsaber. Karl…" Anders paused, sobbing. "I escaped, but he didn't. The Inquisitor killed him right in front of me. I ran for it, but he tracked me. I went almost to the edge of the Unknown Region, with him tailing me all the while. We dueled on an obscure little world, and he beat me, left me for dead. But, I managed to survive."
Garrett set his now empty mug down and put a hand on Anders' arm. The Jedi looked over at Garrett, his eyes red. He didn't shake off Garrett or give any other indication that the touch was unwelcome.
"There you are,"
Both men looked up, Garrett jerking his hand away from Anders, to see Bethany standing at the top of the ramp. She descended, regarding them both cooly.
"I was wondering," She said, looking at Anders. "You have more experience at this Jedi and Force stuff, perhaps you had some pointers for me?"
"I'm afraid I'm not much of a teacher, but I can show you a thing or two," Anders stood and drew his lightsaber. "How about a little match, so I can see your style?"
"Sounds good," Both of them drew their lightsabers, walking a few feet away from the Hawke's Talon. They both activated their lightsabers, holding the blades in front of their faces to initiate a challenge, before charging at one another.
Garrett sat and watched them. He was glad that Bethany had found another Force-user, having thought it would be too good to be true that there were other Jedi out there after Father had died. It was reasonable to assume that some had survived the purge, though Garrett figured they were hiding from the Empire and didn't wish to be found. It had been so long since Bethany had let herself use her talents like this, Garrett had worried that she'd gotten rusty. But she took to the sparring sessions like riding a speeder.
Bethany went at Anders with quick blows, only to be blocked every time. Anders fought on the defensive side, getting a feel for Bethany's style, before going for an attack. The blade stopped just an inch away from her leg, before Anders drew back.
"Did you father train you?"
"Yes," The two exchanged blows once more, the blades sizzling as they clashed, green against green. "He taught me everything he knew."
"Clearly he was a good teacher," Anders feighted to the right, which caught Bethany off guard. He swung for her neck, only for her to quickly swing her blade up so that it faced across her, blocking his move.
Anders leapt back, only to spring forward and aim a powerful swing. Bethany panicked and thrust her hand out, pushing him away with the Force. Startled, Anders flew backwards, landing on his arse in the sand, his lightsaber rolling out of his hand and deactivating.
Immediately, Bethany's hand went to her mouth and she rushed forward. "I'm sorry! It was a reflex!"
Anders sat up, and smiled up at her. "If I'd been a Sith, you'd be perfectly within your right to do that. Trust me, most of them don't fight fair." He retrieved his lightsaber and put it back on his belt, "I think that's enough for now." Bethany nodded and closed her own lightsaber.
Garrett approached them, "Well, that was entertaining. Now, I don't think we were able to give you a proper tour of the Hawke's Talon."
The rest of the morning was spent doing maintenance on the Hawke's Talon, while Anders and Bethany exchanged stories and experiences. After lunch, the two Jedi had gone back outside for more sparring.
Once they'd gotten tired, Anders used the 'fresher to clean up, before going to his assigned quarters to meditate. Bethany had insisted that Anders use the shower first, since he was the guest.
Sitting on the floor, Anders put his hands on his knees and closed his eyes. He tuned out the world around him, turning his thoughts inward.
The Hawkes were an interesting family. Bethany was kind and showed great potential to be a powerful Force-user. To think, were it not for her father, she would have been sent to the Jedi Temple, and never known this family of her's. Carver, there was a lot of bitterness within him, not being Force-sensitive like his father and sister, and feeling that he was always in his more talented brother's shadow.
Garrett… Garrett was good-hearted, strong, smart, and handsome.
He'd helped Anders, put himself in danger, without thought for himself, even after finding out that the Empire was behind the slaving operation. He could have gotten in his ship and left the Jedi to save everybody himself, but he'd stayed, because it was the right thing to do. Anders hadn't even had to ask him.
Anders signed. "No. I can't think of him like that." He wasn't just talking to himself.
Karl would want you to move on.
"I know. But… I'm a wanted man. The Empire might find out that I'm not dead, or an Inquisitor might just stumble across me. I can't put him through that."
The danger or the heartbreak?
"Both, either. Does it matter? Besides, what future could I give him?"
You are being too hard on yourself again. What happened to Karl was not your fault. Besides, you enjoy his company too much to just leave.
Anders sighed. "I hate it when you're right."
The voice fell into a satisfied silence, and Anders resumed his meditation.