Part II: Mical
It is no surprise when I sense Atton's presence behind me. I know he cares for her, and I did not expect him to stay on the ship, just like I did not expect myself to stay.
However, it is more than a surprise when I turn and see his face. It is a shock, and it is an even greater shock when I hear him speak. His voice has changed into something poisonous—smooth and dark and deadly. As soon as I hear it, I know he has fallen to the dark side, and I know he did not come looking for her but for me.
"Atton, Kreia is using you!"
The Atton I met on Dantooine would have bristled at my words, but this one laughs bitterly. "Everyone uses each other, kid. And if she's using me to kill you, as I see it, I really don't lose anything.
"I already lost what mattered to me. I wanted to protect her, to help her, and then you
show up, playing hero. Fine."
I must explain it to him!
"Atton, the feelings between the Exile and I—"
"Doesn't matter. Not anymore. I had forgotten how much I hate Jedi. And the less of you that are in the galaxy, the better." His lightsaber ignites with a snap-hiss
. "Ready to die, kid?"
I see then that his path is set. He wants no explanations; he wants blood. Desperate, I cry, "I won't fight you, Atton!"
His eyes are soulless. "I don't care, I just want you to die."
He leaps at me with a Force scream. Disoriented by the blast of noise, I stumble backwards and only barely manage to deflect his lightsaber with my own before he slices through my neck.
He succeeds in driving me back at first. Soon, however, I gather my strength and go on the offensive. There is only one alternative now, and it is that I win this battle. If I do not, he will seek out Rae next, and there will be no one to help her.
"Is something wrong, Rae? You've seemed quiet lately. Sad."
When he asked, they were sitting together on the floor of the portside dormitory, preparing to meditate. She sighed and looked away without answering. He studied her gently. "I can feel it, Rae. Something is troubling you."
"It's nothing you can help, Mical."
"But I would like to try if I can." Taking a chance, he reached over and covered her hand with his. Though she didn't pull away like he feared she would, when she glanced at him he saw everything—and nothing—in her eyes.
He was her student. Loved and appreciated, yes, but only her student. Nothing more.
He swallowed slowly, removed his hand and looked away. "It's Atton, isn't it?"
Silence. He could feel her staring at him, surprised, perhaps confused, no doubt trying to think of a way to avoid confessing. Finally, in a tone of defeat she answered: "Yes. How did you know?"
"I have seen how you look at him, but only when he isn't looking at you. I have also noticed you seem to avoid him and him alone. Tell me, Rae. Are you in love with him?"
"I . . . ."
She started to reply but trailed off. He glanced over at her in time to see the pain on her face before she ducked her head. That alone would have been answer enough had she chosen to stay silent or leave. But she didn't. Standing up, she walked to the door and closed it. Then she turned, leaned her back against it, and stared at him. He was surprised by how tired her eyes were.
"Does anyone else know?" she asked.