Never Meant to Be
BeElleGee BeElleGee@hotmail.com

Rated R: sex
Summary: Long before she sat on the Jedi Council, Depa Billaba was a shy, insecure teenage girl whose infatuation with a certain unscrupulous apprentice led her into a doomed, passion-filled affair.


My name is Depa Billaba. I am a Jedi, apprenticed to Master Mace Windu, one of the Jedi Council's finest, most compassionate members. I've been training with him since I was eleven, though I have been close to him all my life. He saved me from certain death and brought me to the Jedi Temple when I was very, very young. I'll be twenty on my next birthday. Not too far from now.

I am a healer. The Council had long noted my ability to manipulate the Force for healing. As a child I would heal injured friends and animals with an acute empathic awareness of pain and suffering. So when I can, I spend time at the Temple's medical center to help with the sick and injured.

I am not relating this in any way to give the impression that I am at all extraordinary. I am, in truth, far from it. My personality is as bland as my looks. No one really pays much attention to me. The others here like me well enough, but I wouldn't say I'm actually close friends with anyone. I never had any suitors either. I've never attracted boys in that way.

That doesn't mean growing up, I didn't long for a relationship with someone special. But, I am, like most Jedi, caught up in the reality of being a Jedi. There is little time or energy left over for relationships. I suppose I was content. Maybe it was because I didn't know what I was missing.

Everything changed for me when I started paying more attention to Qui-Gon Jinn's apprentice, Xanatos. It was after he returned to the Temple following his last mission with his master. I had known him, well, let me rephrase that, I had known 'of' him ever since we were children. He was a year or two older than me but we still had a few classes together as initiates.

On this last mission, he had been injured and came to the medical facilities for treatment on a day I just happened to be helping out. I stood off to the side of the exam table, holding a tray of instruments for the droid who worked with the healers on the minor injuries.

Xanatos thought he had broken his pelvis in a fall, but as it turned out, he had dislocated his hip joint. He was in a lot of pain; I could feel it all around him, but he looked relaxed and comfortable. He knew I was there for him if he needed me, but he never asked for my help in easing his suffering. So, I just stood by, and watched.

When the droid told Xanatos he would have to disrobe, he sighed with resignation, and slowly started peeling off one layer after the other. He didn't seem bothered at all by the fact that I was right there. I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable, however and that wasn't like me at all. It wasn't as if I had never seen the male body before.

When Xanatos began unfastening his pants, he winked at me and smiled; amused, I think, by the fact that I was more ill-at-ease than he was.

"Are you going to let me hold your hand while he does this?" Xanatos asked me. "Or do you need me to hold your hand?" He held out his hand to me. I stared back at him in surprise. He was the first man that had ever made a pass at me. I had always heard he was somewhat flirtatious, but never really had the chance to confirm it. It didn't matter to me that he was actually teasing me. He was still flirting with me.

I didn't know how to react to it however. I didn't know what to say, or if I should laugh, or pretend to be insulted, or tease him back.

Finally, I turned and placed the tray on the countertop. "No, I think it's time for me to go now," I sputtered. "You can finish undressing after I leave," I said and quickly exited. I was so flustered, I could barely speak to Qui-Gon when he approached me to inquire about his injured padawan.

Xanatos had this confident, cavalier attitude down to perfection. He was smarter than most, and he knew it. He was aristocratic and charismatic and he knew it. He was classically handsome. He knew that too. To me, he was the Jedi hero of the ancient tales. A dashing, romantic figure, who's beauty was merely a reflection of the light and power within. He was everything I wasn't and always wanted to be. He seemed to take everything in stride and never struggled through anything. Or so it always seemed to me. My knowledge of him was actually very limited.

But that didn't matter. I lost my heart (and my head!) to him that day.

I didn't see him after that until almost a week later. What was peculiar was I found I could not stop thinking about him. And the more I thought about him, the more fascinated with him I became. The renowned Xanatos had smiled at me. He had paid attention to me. I was so intrigued by him after that, I couldn't seem to get enough of him in my life.

********

Over lunch with Master Windu, I mentioned Xanatos. I told him I had met someone last week at the medical center whom I really liked . He raised his brow in curiosity.

"Oh really?" he asked. "He must have been something special to catch your discerning eye. What's his name?"

I smiled. "I think he's special. He's really cute. And he seems nice. I didn't really get the chance to talk with him. He came in for treatment. He had a nasty dislocation. The droid took care of him," I blurted. I was blushing and I didn't really know why. I guess it was because I had never talked to my master about young men I liked before.

"What's his name?" Master Windu prodded.

"Xanatos."

Master Windu's smile slipped. "Oh," he said and focused on his empty plate.

"Oh? Is that all you can say?" I demanded, feeling defensive. It was the tone of his voice more than anything.

He sat back in his chair and looked up at me. "Depa. I know him. He's not your type."

I didn't want to face him. I wanted him to be excited for me. I wanted him to ask me why I liked Xanatos so much so I could tell him and then he was supposed to compliment me on my exceptional taste. Not my type. What did that mean?

"How do you know he's not my type?"

Master Windu smiled gently. He reached over and touched my hand. I think he knew I was hurt by his callous declaration. "Because I know you."

I stood up. "I've never told you anything about my particular type. How can you come to a conclusion like that? Xanatos is exactly my type." The real question is, am I his type?

Master Windu's expression became sympathetic. I found it unbearable. Why didn't he just come right out and tell me? He obviously thought I didn't have a chance in hell with Xanatos.

"Depa, please. You said yourself, you didn't even get to talk to him. Maybe after you get to know him a little better, you'll realize that he...he pretty much follows his own agenda."

I was getting more incensed by the minute. "How do you know him so well?"

"All right. I don't really know him. But Master Jinn and I are good friends. We speak often."

"So?"

"Qui-Gon has told me things..." Master Windu stood up, shaking his head. "Padawan, why are you getting so worked up? I was merely making an observation. That's all. Maybe I'm being presumptuous. I've never actually met Xanatos myself."

"Well, I have!" I shot back. I wondered what Master Jinn had told him.

"You're right. My information is all second hand anyway. I suppose I shouldn't pass judgement on him before I meet him. That's not exactly fair, is it?" He turned away from me and started edging towards the exit. I could tell this conversation was just about over. He smiled placatingly and shrugged. "Look, I have to be getting back to the Council. Why don't you take the rest of the afternoon to yourself. Go find Xanatos and talk to him. Tell him how you feel."

I stared at him in stunned disbelief. Tell Xanatos how I feel? Was he crazy? It hit me then how absolutely foolish I had been acting. I really didn't know very much about him. Certainly not enough to suddenly declare him my heart's desire. Master Windu had realized this and was clearly trying to put the brakes on my runaway emotions. I sighed heavily and lowered my head.

"I suppose I could go and talk to him." I should at least go and introduce myself.

Master Windu smiled. He was handsome when he smiled.

"That's a good idea, Depa. Maybe tonight, you can tell me how things went?"

I nodded. Why not?
 
 

I had no idea where Xanatos was or what he was doing this afternoon, but I went to the apartment levels first. It was late in the afternoon and things were winding down. Most of the classes were out and training sessions were finished. Initiates and Jedi were preparing for evening meditations.

I knew Xanatos was still recovering from his injury and thought I could use that to explain to him why I had sought him out. I could always tell him that I was checking up on his hip. Making sure he wasn't in any pain. Of course he shouldn't be in any pain at all at this point, but it still sounded good.

I checked the location of his quarters in the medical registry before leaving the Center. I was on the right level now. A few more turns down the hall and I should be at his threshold.

Visions of how our encounter would go played in my mind. He would be surprised to see me, even pleased, and invite me in. No, there wasn't any pain, he would say, but thank you for your concern. Since you're here, may I get you some tea for your trouble? We could talk, get to know one another. I'd like that.....

I could hear voices and laughing just around the corner. I slowed my pace and caught myself primping, smoothing back my already lifeless hair from my face. Act natural! I chided myself. And calm down! He'll see right through you otherwise!

There was a small mixed group of older students and padawans clogging the passage I needed to go through. I could feel my face reddening and almost panicked. The last thing I wanted was an audience looking on while I tried to talk to Xanatos.

I hesitantly started towards them. They were so caught up in each other, no one was even paying attention to me. As usual. I took a deep breath and decided I would plow right through them and not make eye contact with any of them. I didn't want them talking to me or asking me where I was going or what I was doing.

But as I got closer, the little group slowly stopped talking and some gave me a curious glance or two. One of the girls shifted to make room for me to pass and that's when I saw Xanatos. He was leaning against the wall in the middle of the group, his arm slung over the shoulders of an attractive girl with large grey eyes and fluffy blonde hair and whose legs seemed to go on and on. The banter steadily resumed since I was apparently nobody important. Xanatos glanced curiously up at me as I quickly pushed past, but that was all. He focused his attention back on his friends and even squeezed the shoulder of the girl he was holding. Funny how I would catch that. I'm sure no one else noticed but me.

Once past them, I couldn't seem to get out of that passage fast enough. I had to force myself to walk at a steady pace.

As soon as I rounded the corner and was out of sight, I sprinted for the elevators. My throat was tight and I could hardly breathe. My heart was banging heavily inside me and I knew my skin was probably blotching. One of my more attractive features.

I boarded the elevator, closed the door, and closed my eyes tightly. I wish I had not seen him with her. He had looked at me, but he must not have recognized me. Surely if he had recognized me, he would have acknowledged me, right?

All kinds of reality checks started going through my mind now. What was wrong with me? Why was I so infatuated with him? Why was he so special to me? I wasn't anybody special to him.

Of course he would have a girlfriend. Of course he would have lots of friends. He was that type of guy. My type? I still thought so. I hoped so. But whether or not I was his type was not so much a question anymore.
 
 

I didn't know what to do with myself after that. I wandered around the Temple aimlessly, haunting the hallways like the unseen spirit I was.

The sun was beginning to set. I made my way to the balcony outside the Council Chambers for some fresh air. There was a slight breeze, but the sunshine on my face felt warm and comforting. I walked to the edge and leaned over the wall and peered out. The night sky was still filled with air traffic. Trails of multi-colored lights floated steadily by. It was peaceful out here. Tranquil and soothing.

I didn't know how long I had stood there thinking, but suddenly I realized the sun set completely and it was dark. I no sooner turned to go in when a girl burst onto the balcony, running full tilt. She was laughing and grabbing her sides like they were cramped. She didn't notice me as I dodged out of her way. When I peered down the hall towards the Council Chambers, I saw why. She was being pursued. And by Xanatos, of all people.

This is interesting, I thought. This was a different girl from the one I saw him with this afternoon. This girl was a civilian. She was wearing expensive-looking street clothes and her hair was long and attractively styled. I wondered who she was and why she was at the Temple with him. They must have been out on a date. I slipped into the shadows and played the detective. I knew it was wrong for me to be intruding on their privacy, but it was too late to stop now.

Wearing black formal wear, Xanatos strode out onto the balcony and I noticed he limped slightly. I could tell he was still in a little pain, I could feel it. He must not have paid much attention to the restrictions the medic droid passed onto him. Otherwise he would have recovered by now. He stopped a short distance from me and looked around, then shook his head.

"Hmm, it seems you are trapped now, my dear," he informed the girl. She turned around and faced him and laughed again. "Time for you to face the consequences of your actions," he continued.

I watched him, absolutely riveted. He was entrancing. His voice was like velvet. He was just so incredible looking. I'm surprised he didn't sense me the way I was staring at him. But these two clearly only had eyes for each other.

"Xan, don't you dare!" the girl told him and giggled.

"But you deserve it," he replied. He sighed and put his hands on his hips. "I can't believe you told Qui-Gon I took you for a ride on a Republic cruiser last week. Now he thinks I stole a ship."

The girl laughed harder. "Well, you did take me for a ride in a way. Can I help it if he misinterpreted my meaning?" she grinned. "Did you want me to be more descriptive than that? What was I supposed to say when he asked what we did all night after my father's reception?"

Xanatos smiled and shrugged. "You could have told him we went to the library."

The girl crossed her arms over her chest and pretended to consider it. "That was what I planned to tell him about tonight." She sighed and pouted prettily. "Don't be angry with me, Xan. Here, what can I do to make it up to you?" the girl asked hopefully.

Xanatos laughed. "I can think of a few things...."

The girl stopped laughing and took a deep breath. She leaned against the balcony ledge, eyeing him seductively.

"Come here," she said quietly, her mood growing serious.

Xanatos approached her slowly, holding her with a piercing gaze. He had a cool, predatory look in his eyes.

I noticed the closer he got to her, the more inflamed the girl became. I could see her expression clearly. Her anticipation gave her a hungry, feral look. Xanatos grabbed her suddenly and kissed her hard with a passion that shook me. His lips were on hers, but I felt his embrace all the way down to my toes.

Voices drifted out onto the balcony from somewhere just beyond the Council Chambers. A few of the Jedi Masters reconvening for a meeting most likely.

Xanatos and the girl parted and both turned to look in the direction of the untimely intrusion. Xanatos took the girl's hand. He suddenly turned and glanced around searchingly, concentrating, and to my absolute horror, his eyes locked on mine.

I held my breath and pressed myself further into the shadows.

"Come on," he told the girl, slowly focusing his attention back on her. "I know a place where we can be alone."

"Like the library?" the girl asked him and smiled.

"No, but just remember that should my master ask you where I took you tonight." Xanatos pulled her after him and they made a hasty retreat back inside the Temple to his secret, secluded place.

He had seen me, I was sure of it. I found myself filled with an inexplicable jealousy all of a sudden. I knew Xanatos would never look at me the way he looked at her. He would never kiss me like that. I would never know the whereabouts of his private hideaways.

I could feel my throat tighten and my eyes water in defeat. I realized I was pursuing a fantasy. Xanatos was never going to have anything to do with me. He could do better than someone like me and he obviously did so quite often. I just wasn't good enough for him. I needed to put him out of my mind. I had to stop longing for something between us that would never be.

I sniffed back the tears that threatened and dashed my hand across my eyes. I needed to be getting back. It was past time for the evening meal. Master Windu was probably wondering where I was.
 

The next morning I woke with new purpose and resolve. I was determined to forget about Xanatos and get on with my life.

I decided to get in an early workout at the gym before it became crowded. I wanted to practice some of the faster, more stylized defensive maneuvers with my lightsaber that Master Windu had shown me recently. Nothing like a few rounds with a training remote to take out a little frustration.

This morning I was far too distracted and emotionally raw to be any good at all. I was thankful Master Windu wasn't here to see me. The remote had bested me five out of the six times I attempted even simple moves. Initiates were snickering all around me and some of the older students were starting to look at me with sympathy.

I knew I could do this if I concentrated and centered my energy in the Force. I opted for a blindfold to keep from being distracted by my surroundings. I tried it three times that way. I didn't do much better.

In frustration, I ripped off the blindfold and switched off the remote. I had had enough for this morning. I wasn't releasing any tension. I was only making it worse.

"Padawan, if I may offer some advice," a gentle, familiar voice suddenly addressed me. I turned around, ready to snap off a quick 'no thanks,' until I saw who it was and why he sounded familiar. It was Qui-Gon Jinn. He was standing in front of the observation bleachers and much to my dismay, Xanatos was with him. Master Jinn was busily taping Xanatos' wrists, preparing him for a workout. Master Jinn was looking right at me, but at least Xanatos' back was to me. He hadn't seen me yet, I hoped.

I took a deep calming breath and nodded respectfully. "Of course, Master," I managed.

He smiled. "You are altogether too tense. The Force is trying to move through you, but you hinder it when you try to anticipate the remote. Try it again, but this time, stand in one place, pivot on your hips and swivel your shoulders for range of motion. You are jumping around, trying too hard. Let the Force do the work for you."

I forced a grateful smile. "Thank you, Master. I will try to remember your advice." I started to make a hasty retreat, but then Xanatos turned around and looked at me with open curiosity. He was probably wondering who could possibly be so awkward with a lightsaber and still make the ranks of a padawan. I froze, unable to move any further.

"Try it now," Qui-Gon urged. "I'm sure you'll see better results."

I swallowed hard. I couldn't possibly try again. Not while Xanatos was right there, watching me. I was already so humiliated I wanted to run and hide.

"Yes, Master," I gulped. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was about to burst out of my chest. With great reluctance, I switched the remote back on and raised my lightsaber hilt. By this time, I had actually forgotten the advice Qui-Gon had offered. I looked at him blankly, my face flushing red in embarrassment.

Qui-Gon momentarily focused on Xanatos. "Are you ready?"

"Yes, Master," Xanatos replied and nodded, never taking his eyes off of me. Naturally when I didn't want him to notice me he did.

"Show her what I mean," Master Jinn told him. "Help her get a feel for the range she should be striving for."

I started to shake my head fervently, but Xanatos readily approached me and took up a position right behind me. He pulled me back against him. When he moved, his muscular thighs brushed up against the back of mine, sending electrocurrents of alarms racing through my blood.

"Activate," he said, startling me. I guess I wasn't prepared for him to actually talk to me during this ordeal. I hurriedly activated my lightsaber and tried to remember to breathe.

Xanatos then placed his hands on either side of my hips. The sensation obliterated any pretense of concentration I had clung to. The remote was buzzing impatiently around me, but if it zapped me between the eyes, I wouldn't be any more stunned than I was right now.

Faintly I began to sense pain. It grew stronger when I concentrated on it. It was coming from Xanatos. His hip was STILL hurting him. Something was wrong, I concluded. I turned my head slightly to look at him. His gaze was fixed forward on the remote. At least one of us was concentrating on that.

"Pay attention," he chided softly. I faced forward again.

The remote fired. I know I did exactly the same things as I had done before and I missed each shot. I sighed in frustration. We could be here all day, I thought hopelessly, and then smiled to myself. Would that be so bad?

Xanatos shook his head and sighed too. Qui-Gon smiled patiently.

"I'm sorry," I whispered weakly. "I'm just a little too tense this morning."

Xanatos leaned his head over my shoulder. His cheek was nearly touching mine. "Reeeelaaaax," he said savoringly, drawing out each syllable in a breathy, sensual voice. "I won't bite." His hands began rolling and pivoting my hips for me, trying to loosen me up, moving my body in a slow effortless rhythm.

I closed my eyes in utter ecstasy and surrendered myself to his manipulation. I could feel the fear in me ebb away. I wasn't concentrating on the Force or the remote anymore, but my mind was becoming a void. It was then I felt the Force speak to me and suddenly, my body acted without any forethought on my part. The remote fired again, and this time I deflected every blow. It was easy moving the right way when he was moving with me.

"There! You see!" Master Jinn exclaimed. "Well done."

My eyes flew open and I smiled. "Thank you Master," I said breathlessly.

"Good girl," Xanatos whispered in my ear. He patted my rear and stepped back.

I turned and looked at him, my heart totally lost to him all over again. "T-Thank you," I said a little shakily. But Xanatos was already making his way back to Qui-Gon, apparently anxious to begin his own training session. He had his lightsaber in his hand and was twirling it restlessly.

Even Master Jinn had lost interest in me. He led Xanatos over to one of the open training circles to spar.

I bit my lower lip and deactivated my saber. My moment in the sun had passed. It was time to step back into the reality of my life under a cloud.
 

Xanatos was still in pain. His hip joint was troubling him more than it should have. I had felt it again this morning. He disguised it well, burying it deep inside him and refusing to acknowledge it.

I didn't know if it was really affecting him very much, but I found myself somewhat concerned. Maybe the droid didn't set it correctly. If Xanatos didn't get it checked, he could be doing irreparable damage to himself.

I approached Master Windu that afternoon.

"Could you speak to Master Jinn for me? I think he needs to have Xanatos go back to the Center as soon as possible," I informed him. "Something is wrong. He's not healing the way he should."

Master Windu looked up from his desktop computer screen. "Oh? Why do you think that?"

"Because he limps a little, and when I am near him, I can feel that he is still hurting."

Master Windu sighed. "Depa, we can't force Xanatos to seek medical attention. He'll have to do that on his own."

"Master, can't you at least talk to Master Jinn about it? He could get Xanatos to go," I responded hopefully. "Maybe Xanatos doesn't realize that what he is experiencing is not normal. Maybe he just thinks this is the way this kind of injury heals."

"All right. I'll speak to Master Jinn next time I see him," Master Windu informed patiently.

I smiled. "Thank you, Master."

He continued looking at me with an odd, searching expression. Finally he spoke up.

"Your feelings of concern tell me that Xanatos may no longer just be your friend, am I right?"

I lowered my eyes. How could I tell him Xanatos wasn't even a friend yet? I cleared my throat. "My feelings of concern are that of a Jedi Healer. His suffering is disturbing. I know it's not right."

Master Windu smiled and nodded. "Of course. I promise you. I'll talk to Qui-Gon."

I nodded. I would have to settle for that. I know I wouldn't be able to approach Xanatos myself. Not now. But at least, in some indirect way I was helping him.
 

Most of my day was spent at the Center in the medical facilities assisting where I was needed. I also visited the hospitals and offered healing when I could. Some of the patients I saw were doing well. Others were not. In the afternoon I went to the nursery at the Temple and helped care for the infants.

It was good to get back to some semblance of my normal routine. It was good to be busy again. I even managed to stop thinking about Xanatos for a few fleeting hours. It was a definite improvement over this morning.

I returned to the apartment I shared with Master Windu just after sunset feeling more at peace with myself than I had been in a long time. I was looking forward to a long hot shower and an even longer meditation.

Master Windu was waiting for me when I walked in the door however. He didn't look particularly happy.

"I spoke with Qui-Gon today, as promised, about Xanatos," he began. "He said he would talk to him and tell him to go to the Center tomorrow." He paused and took a deep breath. "He just called a little while ago. Xanatos denied being in any kind of pain and refused to go to the Center for a checkup. So there you have it. We tried."

I frowned and caught myself swearing under my breath. "But I felt it. I know I did. What's the big deal? Why doesn't he get it checked?" I suddenly made up my mind. "I'll go talk to him. Maybe if he hears it directly from a healer." I was surprised at how calm I was about the idea. I think my inborn craving to ease pain and suffering outweighed any qualms I had about approaching Xanatos.
 

Within the hour, I found myself once again walking down the hall passage that led to Xanatos' and Qui-Gon's apartment. Tonight, it was very quiet and still. There didn't seem to be anyone out and about.

I stopped in front of their door and paused to try to organize my thoughts before knocking. I wanted to keep this as formal and impersonal as I could. It was the only way I could get through it.

I knocked and Qui-Gon opened the door. He looked haggard and tired, but smiled warmly when he saw me. "Hello there. What can I do for you, Depa?"

"Good evening, Master Jinn," I greeted. "I'm sorry to disturb you so late. I don't know if you remember or not, but I was the healer who attended Xanatos' hip injury at the Center. Is...Xanatos busy? May I speak with him?" I began summoning all the courage I had.

Qui-Gon took a deep breath. "Xanatos is not here. He left quite awhile ago."

My heart sank. "Oh. Would you know where he is? Is he coming back soon?"

For an instant Qui-Gon looked a little pissed off. "I wouldn't know. He 'said' he was going to the gardens to meditate. Considering the mood he was in, I find that highly unlikely. He's old enough now where I can't keep watch over him as much as I'd like to. I'm sorry, Depa. I don't know what to tell you. If you want to leave him a message, I'll be sure that he gets it."

I shook my head. Qui-Gon sounded as if he didn't believe his padawan when he told him he was going to meditate. I thought that was a little strange. Padawans never lie to their masters. The thought was unheard of. I wondered what had happened today between them. Nevertheless, I forced a reassuring smile.

"No, I'm sure if he told you he was going to the gardens, I can find him there. Thank you, anyway." I turned to go, but Qui-Gon called to me.

"Do you have a minute? I'd like to speak with you."

I shrugged and stepped inside. He closed the door behind me and told me to sit down. I began to feel uncomfortable. What was this all about?

"Mace told me you and Xanatos had become close friends. I didn't realize that this morning. I didn't even know you two knew each other," he began. "I was just wondering if perhaps he has said anything to you on a personal level about his feelings lately. He won't talk to me."

"Master Jinn, I..." I stopped and chewed my lip, trying to stall him, trying to think of something to say. "I wouldn't say we were actually friends. We know each other. A little. I haven't really even spoken to him." Inside, my heart was twisting painfully from this impromptu confession of how things actually were between Xanatos and me. I didn't have the courage to tell Qui-Gon that Xanatos wasn't really even aware of me.

As it was, Qui-Gon looked unsure, as if he was questioning my honesty and then he seemed hurt. Maybe he thought I was lying to him as well. He sighed with resignation as if he was used to being lied to and found there wasn't anything he could do about it. Regarding me, he had obviously heard something completely different from Master Windu. He stood up abruptly and moved to the door. I slowly followed. I didn't want to leave him with a bad impression of me.

"Master Jinn, I believe Master Windu misunderstood my concern for Xanatos. He read more into it than there actually is. You must understand that as a healer, I have been anxious about Xanatos' hip pain. It should have cleared up by now. When he's near me, I can feel it. I felt it this morning. If he doesn't get it checked out, he could be in for more discomfort in the future."

Qui-Gon's soft eyes locked on mine. "I haven't felt anything."

He looked so sad. I longed to ease his troubled heart, but I didn't know what I could say to him that would. I took a deep cleansing breath.

"You must understand, I am acutely aware of the presence of pain. Xanatos is concealing it. He won't acknowledge it."

"Something else he keeps from me," Qui-Gon mumbled. He frowned deeply. "But why won't he acknowledge it?"

I shrugged. "I'm not sure. He doesn't want to be bothered with it I guess. Again, I don't know him well enough to draw any conclusions."

Qui-Gon opened the door for me and tried to smile. "I'll drag him down to the Center tomorrow myself if I have to. Don't worry about it. We'll get him taken care of."

I nodded. "Thank you, Master." I stepped out into the hall and hurried away.
 

Needless to say, Master Jinn was right. Xanatos wasn't in the gardens. I searched everywhere for him, hoping to run across him in one of his secret private places, but there wasn't anyone in the gardens tonight except me.

I found a boulder on the banks of the north creek and sat down with a heavy heart. I was hoping with all my might that Xanatos would be here and he would be peacefully meditating among the wildflowers. I wanted to prove Qui-Gon wrong. Xanatos was entirely trustworthy, see? He was right where he told you he would be.

I sighed heavily. Xanatos wasn't exactly living up to my expectations. He didn't seem to be the ideal figure of Knighthood that I had fantasized about. My attraction to him was beginning to wane. The little I did know about Xanatos, I didn't particularly care for.

On the other hand, all he would have to do is look at me and my longing for him would come rushing back. He was all wrong for me and I knew that now, but I would still give anything to be able to call him my own. Maybe all he needed was someone like me beside him to show him the path he should follow. Someone to rein in that wild restless spirit of his. He could be a great Jedi if he only tried.

I closed my eyes and cleared my mind to meditate. I might as well take advantage of the serenity of the gardens tonight. I was sure Master Windu wouldn't be expecting me back anytime soon.

"...Hey."

My eyes widened in disbelief at the sound of the voice just behind me. I stood up and whirled around.

Xanatos stood looking back at me vacantly. His usually clear blue eyes were bloodshot and he swayed slightly as if it was too much of an effort to stand still for long. His cloak had fallen off one shoulder and his tunic was opened to his waist. Even though he stood two meters away, I could smell the distinct spicy odor of alcohol about him.

I swallowed hard and took a step back.

"Mind if I join you?" he said thickly. He staggered forward, but after two steps, he crumpled heavily to the ground. "Ow, shit."

I felt the stabbing pain in his hip and rushed over to him. I tried to help him stand but he was too heavy and resisted my efforts. As it was, I ended up being pulled down beside him. His pain was mind-numbing tonight. I don't know how he tolerated it so well.

"Let me help you," I pleaded. "You're hurt. I can heal you if you let me."

He looked over at me and blinked a few times. "I'm going home, you know. I'm going to see my father."

I stared back blankly. "That's nice. In the meantime, I want you to lay back and stretch out your legs, okay?" I put my arm around his shoulders and urged him down.

He grinned and slowly sank back against my arms to the ground. I stood up and quickly took off my cloak and then knelt and placed it under his head. He closed his eyes and for a minute I thought he was going to go to sleep.

I took a couple of deep breaths and began gently probing the side of his injured hip. It felt hot and I could sense the underlying injury. The hip joint was still slightly off kilter. If I could get a good grip on his leg, I could reset it. "Damn droid, we'll have to get that one reprogramed," I muttered. I passed my hands over his thigh.

Xanatos began to laugh deeply, his eyes still closed. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm trying to get your leg aligned so I can slip your joint back into place," I informed, the consumate Jedi healer.

Xanatos smiled. "Well, whatever you're doing, it's turning me on."

I froze, suddenly aware of how intimately I was touching him. I also became aware of how he felt under my hands: the feel of hard curves of muscles and chisled bones, sculpted to a near perfect work of art that made up his male body.

I took my hands off of him and sat up, unsure of how to tactfully proceed.

"No," he said in an expelled breath. "Don't stop. I like it."

I swallowed uneasily. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd hear him talking to me like this. Turning him on certainly hadn't been my intention, but it was empowering to me to know that I actually could. I was trying hard to keep my mind focused on the task at hand, but it was getting more difficult with each passing moment.

"Xanatos, I...I need you to roll away from me a little. On your side." I prodded him with my fingers. "I'll try to do this as cleanly as I can, but it will probably hurt at first because it's stiff, but then it will feel infinitely better. I promise."

Xanatos obediently rolled onto his side, then started to laugh again. "I think I'm supposed to tell you that," he sneered.

At first I didn't understand what he meant and then I suddenly did. I know my face must have turned bright red. My humiliation quickly turned to anger. I roughly grabbed his leg and forcibly rammed the joint back into place, alot harder than necessary.

Xanatos' eyes flew open and he opened his mouth in a strangled cry of pain. He took several quick breaths and looked at me like he wanted to strangle me, but then the fire in his eyes dimmed as his pain subsided and he shifted over on his back again.

Being the cause of pain was unconscionable to me and my heart flooded with remorse. I crawled up and sat beside him and stroked his hair comfortingly.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," I apologized with the utmost sincerity. He slowly turned his eyes on me and reached up and took my hand in his.

"It's all right," he sighed. "Think nothing of it."

I tried to smile. "You're very forgiving. It's all over now. Your joint shouldn't trouble you anymore. Just try to rest now."

"I'm not going anywhere right now," he mumbled. Then he added as an afterthought, "Why do you care?"

I didn't understand what he was asking. "Do you mean about you?" He was squeezing and rubbing my hand with an odd urgency, as if something was bothering him. I knelt closer to his face to see his expression better in the darkness. He didn't look anxious. He looked very thoughtful. "I care alot about you," I whispered. "I couldn't bear to feel your pain anymore. I felt a little responsible. I should have stayed with the droid. I should have supervised the procedure. I acted very immature and it costs you a proper healing."

"I don't care," he whispered. He looked away from me and then his eyes drifted close. He brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. I tried to pull my hand away from him, but he tightened his grip reflexively. When I relaxed, I felt his mouth slowly slide down my wrist and he kissed that too.

"Let go, please," I said. I couldn't seem to decide if I was actually enjoying this kind of attention or not. It certainly wasn't the kind I had ever expected from him.

"Your skin smells like rain," he murmured. "...Oh, that I would be the burning star above, drinking in your waters, filling my skies with the white purity of your essence." *

"W-What?!"

He smiled. "Complete Works of Dandrus."

"Oh," I said, somewhat shocked and impressed that even in his advanced state of inebriation, he could still quote prose verbatim. I sighed heavily. "You need to sleep, Xanatos." I wanted to go tell Master Jinn that his apprentice had found his way to the gardens after all. I didn't want Qui-Gon to worry about him. I knew Xanatos would be fine if he just slept for awhile.

Xanatos tightened his grip on my hand. "Come here."

I started to lean away from him, but his arm snaked up and encircled my neck, pulling me closer. I managed to brace myself against his chest before crashing into him. "Xanatos, no," I said firmly. I didn't know if I was ready for anything beyond what he had already been doing. He was moving way too fast for me. My body was stirring in ways it never had before and I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before I wouldn't be able to object anymore. My desire for him was already drowning out any clear cut thoughts of right and wrong.

Xanatos either didn't hear me or was ignoring me. He placed his hands on either side of my face and drew me down, guiding my mouth to his. Before I knew it, his lips covered mine in a hot, wet kiss that tasted of sweet, spiced wine. His jaw moved hungrily, grinding our mouths together with a sensuous urgency. His kiss was intoxicating me in more ways than one.

His arms folded around my shoulders and he passed his hands up and down my back. His kisses became harder and more demanding. At first, I balked and once again tried to pull away from him, but he held me fast. Then he kissed me again, softer and slower. I felt his tongue slide over mine, stroking the insides of my mouth, coaxing me to respond in kind. I soon found myself longing to share this new kind of sensation with him and tentatively traced his upper lip with my tongue. He pulled it into his mouth and sucked it gently. I think I actually started to swoon.

I was just starting to feel comfortable with what I was doing and actually began to enjoy myself, when his hands began to stray. One hand caressed my buttocks as the other pressed my waist against his groin. Alarms started going off in my head again. I pushed away from him.

"Stop it!" I hissed, and struggled to free myself from the tangle of his limbs.

To his credit he released me immediately. He was breathing hard and looked slightly confused.
"Don't you want to?" he questioned, propping himself up on his elbows, peering up at me with innocent sincerity.

His nonchalance surprised me. I did. I would be lying to say I didn't want him to continue, but in the back of my mind I couldn't help but feel uneasy. Part of it was nerves due to my complete lack of experience in these matters, but part of it was that it just didn't seem right.

When I didn't answer him, he sat up and stretched out his hand towards me. "It's cold out tonight," he said thickly, as if that fact alone should convince me to stay. I hesitated, then took his hand in mine. Okay, I reasoned. He knows I don't want to get more intimate than this. What would be the harm of spending a little more time with him? He still has enough of his wits about him to be a gentleman.

He smiled encouragingly as I snuggled up to him again. It didn't occur to me that he would misinterpret my returning to him as my permission to proceed with what he started before.

He was strong and quick and had me prone and on my back against the ground in a matter of moments. He gnawed my neck as one hand covered my breast and the other slipped between my legs. He knew exactly how to touch a girl, and applied his expertise with startling accuracy. As he stroked me, my blood began to sizzle and my brain numbed with desire, but my heart felt sick.

I tried to push him off, but he was too heavy. My body was reacting before I could stop it. I whimpered and turned my face away from him.

"Xanatos, please," I gasped.

He kissed me hungrily. I felt his hand pulling at my tunic and then felt his palm on my bare side.

"...This is wrong," I said weakly.

"Hush," he breathed against my mouth. He kissed me again.

Now I felt his hand on my hip, pushing underneath my clothing. His fingertips slid through my pubic hair. I closed my eyes in misery and ecstasy. I knew I shouldn't be swayed by my igniting passions, by he made me feel so alive; more aware of my femininity than I ever had been before. And he was so beautiful. I wanted him badly but even more than that, I wanted him to want me. I couldn't help but think I would never have this chance with him again. I had to let him touch me.

I took a deep breath and tried to relax. His fingers delved deeper, exploring every moist fold of skin. He tenderly stroked and caressed me and my mind began to center on the slow, steady rhythm of his hand. I couldn't help but sigh. Then I felt his fingers penetrate me and he began rubbing inside me softly. The sensation was absolutely unimaginable. I writhed against him wildly.

"You're so lovely," he whispered in my ear.

I froze. Lovely? Since when? I suddenly realized what it was that had been so wrong. I knew why I had felt uneasy about what he was doing and it wasn't just because I was nervous.

"Stop," I said, my throat tightening with emotion. I could feel the tears already spilling out of the corners of my eyes. "Please stop."

His hand hesitated for a moment as if he had heard something, but wasn't quite sure he could believe his ears or not. Then he continued and leaned forward to kiss me again.

"Stop it!" I shrieked and then slapped him across the face as hard as I could.

Xanatos was caught off guard by my outburst. He raised his hand to his jaw and touched it with a stunned expression. He glanced down at me like I was insane and slowly pulled himself off of me, then stretched out on the ground a few feet away from me and swore at me.

My heart shattered. My emotions erupted. I started to cry harder. "You're so drunk, you don't even know who I am! You don't even know who you are with right now, do you?" I climbed to my feet and quickly adjusted my clothes. "You never thought I was 'lovely' enough before. You never wanted anything to do with me before. You never even bothered to ask me my name!"

Xanatos sighed heavily. He covered his eyes with his hand and licked his lips.

"I don't care," he responded softly.

I turned around and fled the gardens.
 

While Xanatos was no doubt nursing a nasty hangover the following morning, I sat at my desk in my office at the medical center and scrolled through miscellaneous files just to pass the time while I waited for Master Windu so we could go out to lunch.

I didn't really feel like going out to lunch or even eating at all, but Master Windu wanted to get me away from the Temple for awhile and get my mind off of my troubles. It didn't take much on his part to see how depressed I was, even though I tried to put last night out of my mind. I was determined to move forward and reclaim my simple, peaceful, and contented little life, but it was hard. I was too emotionally involved to just be able to forget Xanatos and move on.

Xanatos had hurt me deeply. I know he didn't mean to. I know he was just being true to himself last night. But I had wanted to mean something to him, to be special in his life. In my naiveté, I had believed his advances were a sign of his awakening interests in me. In reality, his interests in me were numbed by the amount of alcohol he had consumed. His senses were so dulled he probably thought he was dreaming me up. I was sure this morning he most likely didn't even remember me being there. And as he so succinctly put it last night, he didn't really care either.

A familiar name popped up under a list of literary selections on the computer screen. I highlighted it and brought it up out of curiosity.

The Complete Works of Danrus. Hmm...I began to read fervently, skimming poems and stanzas until I found the exact words I was specifically looking for. I backed up and read the title.

"Elements of Ecstasy," I said aloud. I read the entire poem through once, my eyes widening in surprise. It was a romantic piece with ancient Telosian prose and thinly veiled erotic meanings. I cleared my throat and started to read it aloud.

"Should you be the wind, with tastes of salt and seas,
I the mountain, would stand amidst you,
My face turned to the caressing spirit of your hand,
I do breathe you up, yet never be swayed.

As rain the trembling pools herald your approach,
Oh, that I would be the burning star above,
Drinking in your waters,
Filling my skies with the white purity of your essence.

Desire you are fire to my kindling,
Consuming, blackening snapping cloud,
I sacrifice my life to your hunger that feeds me,
In night, golden hot flames lick and spark,
Torrid our elemental passions, desires for love." *

I read it over again and again. This was what Xanatos had quoted to me after telling me my skin smelled like rain. Did I remind him of this poem? My heartbeat quickened at the thought, but my mind reasoned through my rising hope. He probably recited erotic poetry to all the girls he....'did it' with.

I sighed heavily. I flipped off the computer and stood up. I wanted to be alone. I really didn't want to go out to lunch now. I scribbled a quick apologetic note to Master Windu and sent it to the Council Chambers.
 

I didn't see Xanatos again for two days. By then, my infatuation for him had substantially subsided. He was nothing more to me than a physically attractive person to be admired from a distance. I wasn't going out of my way anymore to impress him, or be friendly, or even get him to notice me.

I had rare day off to myself and was strolling the boutiques and store fronts on the streets of Coruscant just outside the Temple. I stopped at a vendor selling flowers and bought a small bouquet to help brighten what had become an increasingly dreary and lonely apartment. Master Windu had been very generous and patient with me these past few days and I thought this would be a nice way to say thanks to him.

I was hurrying back to the Temple before the cool temperatures withered my flowers. I cut through a cafe to save time, rather than going all the way around the building. I no sooner got inside when who do I see dining there? None other than Qui-Gon and Xanatos. And of course, they were right beside the back exit that I needed to use. There was no way to avoid them. I actually considered turning around and leaving and using the longer route, but instead, I took a deep breath and told myself it didn't matter. HE didn't matter anymore.

Xanatos saw me first. His dark blue eyes locked on mine in an expressionless gaze. He stood up, the consumate gentleman, as I approached. Qui-Gon followed the direction of his padawan's gaze and smiled when he saw me. He stood up as well.

"Good day to you, Master Jinn," I recited duly and tried to smile at their courteous acknowledgement of my presence, purposefully choosing not to greet Xanatos. I'm sure Xanatos wouldn't have rose if Qui-Gon had not been with him. I contined weaving my way quickly through the maze of tables towards the back exit. As I passed them, I sighed with relief.

"Depa, my dear, won't you join us?" Xanatos inquired after me, his rich, smooth voice resonating through the bustling noise of the restaurant.

I stopped in my tracks, then slowly turned around. When did he learn my name?

"Please?" Xanatos went on. "I'd like to talk with you, if you have the time." He glanced at Qui-Gon. "It's personal. You don't mind, do you, Master?"

Qui-Gon shook his head. "No, not at all." He looked from Xanatos to me and then back at Xanatos again and sighed. "I was just leaving anyway. I have to finish making the arrangements for tomorrow night. I'll catch up with you later, Padawan." He fished through his utility belt and tossed a couple of credits on the table, then turned to me. "It's very nice to see you again, Depa. Please give my regards to Master Windu when you see him."

I looked up at him and swallowed uncomfortably. "Thank you, Master. I will tell him." There was something in his eyes that reminded me of our brief conversation the night before last. Xanatos' greeting no doubt told him that our relationship was beyond that of a patient and healer. The exact opposite of what I had told him. Poor Qui-Gon.

As he left, I faced Xanatos with a cold stare.

"I really don't have the time now," I snapped.

"Yes you do," he countered. He gestured at Qui-Gon's vacated chair. "Sit down."

My curiosity won over my vexation and I dropped into the chair, placing my bouquet on the table. "I have to get my flowers in water and out of the cold, so please just say what you have to say and let me be on my way."

He looked hard at me for a moment, then lowered his eyes. "Don't you think you might have something to say back to me?"

My jaw dropped in surprise. "No. I have nothing to say to you. Why should I?"

He glanced up at me and furrowed his brow. "Very well, our conversation will be short," he announced. Then: "You do me an injustice."

I sighed. "How?"

He smiled slyly and leaned forward in his chair, lowering his voice. "I am aware of how your perception of me has changed these past few days, since the night we were in the gardens together. If I acted out of line, I apologize. I wasn't entirely responsible for my actions. I know you know why. Which is why I can't understand your hostility. How can you go from longing to loathing in such a short time?"

I stared at him in stunned silence. "That's very presumptuous on your part. I know for a fact that you haven't been 'aware' of me at all," I told him, but I wasn't so sure anymore. Not from the way he now spoke.

He sighed. "Of course I have. I've known who you were from the beginning. You were at the Center when I had my hip treated. You came looking for me outside my apartment a week later. You were on the balcony that night I was with the senator's daughter. You were in the gym the next morning. Do I have to go on?"

My heart was thudding heavily inside my chest. I reached for the pitcher of water and on the table and poured some into Qui-Gon's empty glass. I took a few gulps and carefully set the glass on the table.

"How?" I stated in a barely audible voice.

Xanatos gazed at me somewhat sympathetically. "Your attraction to me was so powerful. I found it intriguing. What you felt for me was unlike anything I had every encountered before. It wasn't just a superficial attraction, there was real concern and compassion for me behind it. Knowing this nurtured my growing attraction to you. I knew you cared for me. I knew you desired me. I sensed it everytime you were close to me. I didn't really understand it because you didn't know me at all. I didn't know you either, but the chemistry between us is undeniable."

My chest felt so tight I could barely breathe. Everything I had felt for him before came flooding back. I wondered if I would have acted differently if I had known he recognized me each time he saw me. Suddenly I didn't think I could say anything sensible to him if I tried.

He reached across the table and pulled a black flower from my bouquet. He sniffed it and smiled sadly. "It's lovely," he said quietly. "May I keep it? I'll buy you another."

Lovely. There was that word again. I wondered if he was making a pointed reference to the night in the gardens.

"How much do you remember about the night you got drunk?" I asked, feeling myself bristling once more.

He looked upwards and made a great show of pretending to think. "Mmm, which particular one would that be?"

His attempted levity fell flat. I bowed my head and stared into the water glass. I thought about the poem by Danrus. Memories of that night flashed in my mind. The way he had touched me and held me. It was still so clear to me, it pained me to think he didn't remember.

"Xanatos...I have to leave now. I don't care to be toyed with or mocked anymore."

Xanatos eyes flashed. "Depa, I didn't--"

"Damnit, you did too!" I shot back. "Telling me how 'lovely' I was! Insulting my intelligence with your contrived romantic rhetoric. Don't you think I know what I look like? When you said that to me, I knew you had no idea who I was. You were just making it easier on yourself by conjuring up an image of a woman that was more to your liking. Well, it hurt, you son of a bitch! It hurt because I was stupid enough to think you could actually be attracted to me!"

I stood up and raced for the exit, feeling like I would suffocate if I didn't get out of there. It wasn't until I had reached the sanctuary of the Temple that I realized I had forgotten my bouquet.
 

I was beginning to wonder what wrong I had committed to have the Force twist my fate so cruelly. Everytime I thought I had succeeded in getting over my feelings for Xanatos, something would happen to turn the tide it seemed.

The next day was no different. I had spent the night before feeling miserable and sorry for myself and went to sleep determined to put that man out of my mind once and for all. I arrived at the Center with a full agenda to keep me busy throughout the day. But when I returned home that evening to the apartment I shared with Master Windu, I could hardly believe my eyes.

On our table was a huge, elaborate bouquet of rare exotic flowers that must have costs a small fortune.

Master Windu looked up from the book he was reading. He gestured at the bouquet.

"These came for you this morning." He stood up and walked around the table to stand beside me. "Are they from...him?"

I nodded slowly. I already knew they were. I lifted the small note card and read it. 'To replace the ones I made you forget -X.' I closed my eyes briefly and a feeling of utter hopelessness settled over me. Just when Xanatos had me convinced he was cruel and inconsiderate, he had to go and do something like this.

"Yes, the flowers are from Xanatos," I stated. I regretted running out on him yesterday. I should have stayed and listened to what he had to say. I began to think I had gotten the wrong impression of him. I massaged my eyes and turned to my master. "But actually these are for you."

Master Windu looked endearingly confused. "For me?" He began examining each flower with new interest. "Why would your boyfriend send flowers to me?"

I had to smile, but dismissed his question with a wave of my hand. "I'll explain later. First there's something important I need to take care of." I turned and pulled up the hood of my cloak.

"Depa," Master Windu began. "I have to accompany Master Yoda to the Supreme Chancellor's palace tonight. I won't be back until tomorrow morning most likely. Council matters, as usual."

I nodded. "I understand, Master."

Master Windu placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. He smiled warmly. "I understand as well, Padawan. I really do."
 

I knew Xanatos was leaving sometime late tonight for a new assignment on his home planet of Telos. I wanted to talk to him before he left and hurried to the apartment he shared with Qui-Gon.

This time I went straight up to the door and knocked urgently. Unfortunately, no one was there. I quickly recorded a message for Xanatos to come to my apartment if he had time before he left. I told him it was important that I talk to him. I finished and attached it to the door's locking mechanism, then reluctantly turned and went back home.

I waited, impatiently puttering around the apartment to pass the time. After two hours had passed, I decided to take a quick shower to calm my nerves. I knew I would be able to hear if anyone was at the door, so I wasn't worried that I would miss him. I was, however, beginning to worry that he was not going to show up. It was getting late and I was sure he'd be shipping out anytime now. I pulled on my bathrobe and padded out to the kitchen to make tea.

I tried to analyze my current fixation on having to confront Xanatos once more about the night in the garden. I wasn't certain about anything regarding him anymore. I realized I had seen so many different sides of him these past few weeks, it didn't seem like the same person sometimes.

Xanatos was definitely a creature of mystery. He had a complex, multi-layered personality that I realized I had only seen the first few layers of. His motives for doing what he did, seemed tied to principles and reasons that were too shrewd for me to understand. He didn't have to speak with me at the restaurant and he certainly didn't have to buy those flowers, but he did. It seemed important to him that I understand him better, but why? He knew I was close to hating him; he knew I had misjudged him somewhere along the way and he didn't like it. He seemed willing to reveal to me the deeper layers that made up the core of his being, if I would let him. Well, I realized, I would let him because I wanted to understand him.

It was getting late. I was trying to reconcile myself with the fact that he was not coming. He had probably already gone. I fixed my tea and settled down on my sofa to drink it. I had just gotten comfortable when I heard a knock at the door. In seconds I was on my feet and racing to answer it.

I opened the door and he strode in without waiting for an invitation. Once inside, he turned around and faced me. I slowly closed the door.

"So..." he began, smiling casually. "I have taken the time to grace you with my presence. Make the most of it."

I stared at him open-mouthed for a long while. Of all the conceited, arrogant....

"I-I want to thank you," I stammered. "For the flowers. They were beautiful and that was very considerate of you. You didn't have to do anything like that for me and I can't help but wonder why you would bother. When I saw them this afternoon, I couldn't help but feel that maybe you wanted to show me that you really did care, despite what you said back in the garden. So, I thought I would give you the chance to explain, like you wanted to yesterday in the cafe."

His expression softened slightly. "Yes, well. There were alot of things I didn't care about that night, but you were not one of them. I know now how upset you've been with me regarding what happened between us that night. You weren't very receptive yesterday to anything I had to say. Your only concern was for those flowers you had bought. Then you ran off and left them behind. I thought sending flowers was the least I could do."

I sighed. "You didn't make me forget my flowers."

He slowly lowered his eyes. "I meant it was the least I could do after causing you such unhappiness." He paused and put his hands on his hips. "I didn't realize. Normally, when I compliment women, they're pleased." He glanced up at me and cleared his throat.

"It wasn't a compliment," I told him, gathering my robe tighter around myself. "It was a lie."

Xanatos narrowed his eyes. "Can I help it if you have a poor self-image?"

I shook my head and backed away from him. "Don't you dare stand there and tell me you meant what you said."

"You are pathetic," he growled. "Just because you have a distorted opinion of yourself, doesn't necessarily mean others share your view." He jabbed a long forefinger at my chest. "You're the one who insists you are not worth the time and effort to notice, and frankly, I'm beginning to believe you. What have I gotten out of this stormy infatuation of yours? Sexually teased to obsession by a coy little vixen who's too immature to realize the power she wields over a man. And a bruised hip and a scratched face."

"Then why bother?" I seethed. I gestured behind me. "There's the door."

Xanatos closed his eyes and swore softly. "I really did not come here tonight to analyze your personal problems," he muttered.

"Then why did you come?" I asked hotly, but out of genuine curiosity.

He turned and I thought he was going to leave, but instead he seated himself on my sofa and stretched out his long legs. He peered up at me, then did a quick double-take. His eyes drifted slowly over me as if he just now realized I was only wearing a bathrobe. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat before answering.

"I came because you asked me to. And I wanted to take the time you are so generously giving me tonight to say a few things in my defense. To try to salvage what could very well be something significant and real between us. Something I have been searching for but remained too elusive." He paused and moistened his lips, structuring and organizing his thoughts before continuing. "Something I have sensed in you everytime you are near me."

"Are you talking about an actual relationship with me?" I wanted to be sure I was understanding him right.

He frowned. "Is it so terribly difficult to think I would want someone to actually care a little more about me than my sexual prowess?"

I looked away from him briefly. "From what I know of your promiscuity, yes," I said bluntly.

"I enjoy sex, I won't deny that. I find all women beautiful," he continued. "There's always something about them that catches my eye. I suppose that's why I'm such a shameful hedonist." He sighed heavily. "Depa, I wasn't mocking you when I told you how lovely I thought you were. You were very lovely that night. You couldn't see it, but your hair was shimmering with the reflections off the water. Your skin was so smooth and warm...When I kissed you and touched you, your body was like ice melting. You were so responsive and real. I loved it." He sighed again and looked away from me. "The last thing I wanted to do was hurt you. I wanted to make love to you."

I could hardly believe my ears. I stared at him in stunned silence. I couldn't think of anything to say. Was I dreaming right now? Shouldn't he be on his way to Telos?

"Xanatos, I...I want to believe you, but it's hard for me," I said, my voice cracking with emotion.

His eyes locked on mine and he shook his head slowly. "I don't understand that."

I licked my very dry lips and shrugged. "I don't expect you to."

Xanatos held out his hand towards me. "Come and sit down. Tell me what is so important to you that made you seek me out again? What is it you wanted to talk to me about?"

I looked at his open hand for a moment, then grasped it in both of mine. He smiled warmly and pulled me down next to him on the sofa and threw his arm around my shoulders like a big brother. He was so warm and it felt so good to be nestled up against his body.

"How much do you remember about that night in the garden?" I whispered.

Xanatos shrugged slightly. He frowned and gazed down at me. "More than you think. Of course I don't remember all the details, just certain things that impressed me."

"Like what?" I urged.

He leaned into me slightly. "Feelings mostly. Sensations and perceptions. Your feelings. My feelings. That's what I remember most." He squeezed my hand.

I squeezed his hand too. He smiled. "And you knew who I was? Why didn't you let me know?"

Xanatos sighed. "I knew you were the healer that had been turning up everywhere lately. That's why when you said you were going to reset my hip, I didn't resist. I wouldn't have let just anybody do that."

I smiled slightly. "I think you didn't resist because I was turning you on. Or so you said," I reminded.

"Well...that too."

I shook my head. "I don't understand why you wouldn't admit to being in pain."

He frowned. "I couldn't. I knew the mission to Telos was coming up. I didn't want the Council to find out my injury was still troubling me. They would have postponed everything until I had fully recuperated. I didn't know how long that might be. I didn't want to chance it."

I had to ask. "How is your hip now?"

He flashed a dazzling smile. "Perfect. Thanks to you."

It was true. I couldn't sense any pain in him at all. I took a deep breath and pulled away from him slightly. "Xanatos, why did you call out to me in the cafe?"

Xanatos shifted his weight and angled himself to face me better. "Because you mattered to me and I wanted to know why you had suddenly rejected me so...savagely. I didn't know at the time I had inadvertently insulted you." He lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it softly.

"Why didn't you say anything to me before?" I protested.

Xanatos started kissing and nibbling his way down my arm. "How could I?" he murmured. "Everytime I looked at you, you fled."

"Stop trying to distract me," I scolded. I pulled my arm away from him and sat purposefully on my hands. He grinned slyly and settled back against the sofa. "But even in the gym, you were so cold and aloof," I complained. You didn't even try to be friendly."

Xanatos grinned. "Aloof? Are you serious? Did you really think I had to stand that close to you during that exercise?"

I momentarily covered my eyes in embarrassment and smiled shyly. "I thought it was a little odd, but I wasn't about to protest."

Now Xanatos laughed and gathered me into his arms. I smiled and snuggled up to him and laid my head on his shoulder. He kissed my forehead and nuzzled my hair.

"I'm glad I came here tonight," he said quietly. "We've wasted too much time as it is. Everything's all right now, isn't it?"

I nodded. "Yes. Everything is all right."

We sat together in a comfortable, amiable silence. It felt so good just to have him close to me again. Too good, in fact.

I tilted my head back and raised my eyes to his. "Kiss me," I whispered. I opened my robe and let it fall from my shoulders, then lowered my eyes, urging him to look at me.

He gazed at me for a long while. Slowly he drew me closer, wrapping his arms around my bare back, and closed his eyes as he lowered his head to kiss me. He pressed a feather soft kiss on the corner of my mouth, then kissed my cheek and both my eyes. I sighed and wrapped my arms around his neck. He kissed my ear and my neck, then pulled back and moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue. His mouth opened slightly and he covered my lower lip and gently drew it in between his teeth. He repeated this with my upper lip, sliding his mouth over mine with sensual slowness.

I leaned back, easing him down on top of me, and tightening my arms around his neck, urging him closer still. I felt his thigh brush against mine and moved to center his hips between my legs. I was surprised how comfortable I felt now. My desire was steadily increasing and the idea of being loved by him wasn't paralyzing me with apprehension.

But then Xanatos was being extra tender and attentive. His caresses were tantalizingly slow and thorough, and driving me nearly over the edge with passion. I could feel the hardening bulge of his erection and spread my legs wider. His body seemed to fit so perfectly against mine. Whenever he moved his hips against me, I thought I would go mad with desire.

"Are you going to let me make love to you tonight?" Xanatos breathed into my ear.

My heart lept with joy. I kissed him hard and began tearing at his clothes.

"Wait, wait," he laughed lightly. "Let me stand up and I'll be able to get undressed faster."

I reluctantly released him and then propped myself up to watch him strip. He tore off his cloak with such flourish it made me smile. His other clothes quickly followed and littered the floor of my apartment. He stood before me, watching my expression carefully. I could tell he wanted my approval. And all this time, I thought he knew how incredibly handsome he was. I smiled warmly and stretched out my arms towards him. He smiled in return and settled into my embrace, covering my face with kisses.

"Will your master be coming home anytime soon?" Xanatos asked suddenly.

"I hope not," I replied in all earnest.

Xanatos laughed and hugged me. "Ah, the spice of life," he sighed.

His skin felt so velvety soft and warm against mine. His body was sculpted to perfection and I couldn't possibly keep my hands still. I couldn't seem to touch him enough. He was so beautiful, so young and strong. He was all mine tonight and I was going to make love to him with everything I had.

Xanatos eased himself inside me and held me tightly to him as he started to move. The pressure inside me filled me with the warmest, sweetest, most intimate sensation I could have ever imagined. My mind was nearly bursting with a sensual overload of sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. My body was tingling everywhere he touched me and my skin felt like it was on fire. With each passing moment, my heart yearned for more of him. I wanted him closer and tighter and deeper. I wanted to absorb him into me.

He was trying to be so careful with me while I was clawing and bruising him in my blissful fervor with wild abandon. Finally he surrendered to his passions and matched my urgency, gauging and adjusting his rhythm and the strength behind it by my reactions.

We slid off the sofa and onto the floor. I landed on top of Xanatos and took advantage of this new position to try different things. I knew how to move on him just right to get the reactions from him I wanted, and I think I surprised him with my knowledge of the effect a certain touch can have on different parts of the body. I was a healer. I wasn't totally ignorant of sensation. His growls and deep groans of satisfaction were proof of it.

Our rhythmic grinding against one another became more centered. As our bodies and minds began to strive towards release, our caresses subsided and we clung tightly to each other. Xanatos was on top once more, his hands on my shoulders, the end of his long black braid brushing slowly back and forth against the side of my neck with each powerful thrust of his hips. It was the last sight I remember before my mind erupted in blackness then white hot light. I know I screamed, but my voice sounded foreign and far away.

I felt Xanatos' body lock against me, he gasped deeply and I felt him shudder. His hands painfully gripped my shoulders then gradually relaxed. I felt a few drops of hot perspiration drip down on my breast as he pushed himself up slowly. I gazed at him adoringly and smiled. He lowered his head and kissed me softly and pushed back my damp bangs with his fingertips.

"Can I tell you how beautiful you are now?" he panted, rolling stiffly off of me and onto the floor.

I nestled myself into the crook of his arm and lay my head on his chest. "You already have," I sighed. "I've never felt more beautiful before."
 

After the second time we made love, we moved into my bedroom and made love again. Afterwards, we were both very nearly exhausted. We lay together, holding each other in a satiated, euphoric silence; listening to each other breathe. I placed my hand over Xanatos' heart, enchanted by the feel of his pulse beneath my palm. I felt so secure and safe from all the troubles in the worlds lying there next to him. I wanted him here beside me every night now. I began to wonder how I had ever been content without him in my life.

We slept for a little while, then woke an hour or so later. More lovemaking ensued and I could tell by Xanatos' lingering embraces that this would be the last time for us. By then, it was getting close to sunrise and I was becoming more and more aware of the fact that Xanatos would have to be leaving soon. He hadn't said anything but I could tell by his growing despondence that he was beginning to think about it as well.

I reluctantly climbed out of bed and wrapped the sheets around me. "I'll make some tea," I told him. "The shower is in there, to the left."
 

Xanatos stood at the door, gazing down at me, his cloak slung over his arm, ready to walk away, but completely unwilling. I hugged him tightly and we kissed deeply, trying to strengthen each other for the coming separation. I sighed heavily and lovingly stroked the side of his face with my hand.

"Do you have any idea at all how long you will be gone?" I asked.

He shook his head. "No. We're not certain what's going on there, really. My father is govenor there and reports some civil unrest. Qui-Gon and I will try to assist negotiations where we can and give the people assurances by our presence." He paused and smiled. "It will be my last mission as a padawan. When I return, I'll be knighted. Qui-Gon is certain of it."

His face took on a peculiar expression, and his eyes darkened somewhat. "I haven't seen my father since I was a child. He's a very wealthy and powerful man. I wonder what he thinks about his son being a humble Jedi. A servant instead of a ruler."

I smiled reassuringly. "I'm sure he will be extremely proud. You'll be a great Jedi Knight, Xanatos. The Republic needs such servants. The Force is strong with you."

He took a deep breath, smiled, and tried to shake off his anxiety. He took my hand in both of his and kissed it, holding it like he didn't ever want to let it go. He rubbed and squeezed it with the same peculiar urgency he had back in the gardens.

I leaned into him and held him. He kissed me desparately one last time, then pulled away.

I watched, already feeling cold and alone, as he started down the hall. He threw his cloak over his shoulders and turned to face me.

"Promise me you'll wait for me," he called back.

I nodded wholeheartedly and tried to smile. "Behave yourself while your gone. Keep those roving baby blues of yours under control. Your mine now. I claim you."

He laughed lightly. "I'm yours," he breathed. "I'll behave, I promise." He paused just before turning the corner and blew me a kiss. Then he was gone.

My heart twisted painfully inside me. It was so hard watching him go and not knowing when I would see him again.

"I love you, Xanatos. Please, be careful," I whispered, then turned and retreated back inside my apartment. At least I had my memories of last night to see me through the lonely weeks ahead until he came back.
 

END

*Elements of Ecstasy is my own creation, (yes, I write poetry too.)

Created 17 November 2000
Last Updated 17 November 2000

Page URL: http://BeElleGee.tripod.com/never.html