Ask No Words Left

Altair Din

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Sreeya
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It was some time since the Dantooine and New Alderaan incident. He had spent a lot of that time being angry, acting out, withdrawing into himself. He almost considered erasing every bit of her from his comlink and everywhere else, especially when she had sent that note once again apologizing. However, as he began to calm down, he couldn’t forget that he was alive and breathing because of her. He remembered how those rebels were hellbent on killing him and finishing the job. In the end, she had risked everything she had ever known to stand against her own. While it may have been easy to do as a Sith, it was unthinkable for a Jedi.

Altair brushed it all under the rug, resigning himself to simply forgetting her. He knew he would never back down if he saw her across the battlefield again. He wouldn’t hesitate again. The tiefling was about to leave his quarters for a social outing when he went to toss something in his trash. That was where he saw the crumpled up bright pink invitation. Altair stared at it for several minutes before extracting it and smoothing it out. He had it since before Dantooine - little promises made before everything came crashing down. He despised ever seeing the stupid invite again. The tiefling paced back and forth for a while until he finally made up his mind.

He arrived at the designated location on the day of the invite an hour before it was scheduled to start. Altair knew it was still a tense situation, and he was likely not even welcome here. They hadn’t talked since she had sent her text and he never replied. For all intents and purposes he believed she had written him off and assumed he had done the same to her.

Even so, he found himself with a large box in his arms and an envelope. His hope was to drop it off and make a sneaky escape before anyone noticed. Altair spotted the house up ahead and he couldn’t see anyone outside or looking out just then. The tiefling looked around, exhaled deeply, and made his way over to set down the box at her door.

Inside was a handmade cake, decorated with the types of butterflies Altair and Clove had seen in that conservatory and the one that he had landed on his hand to show her. He had made and decorated the cake from scratch. In the envelope were two VIP passes to the exclusive Mon Calamari ballet he had bought long before he knew how things would turn out. The tiefling stared down at the gifts for a moment, looked at the door for a while and sighed, “Happy birthday, Wheels…”

Without a word or notification, he stuffed his hands in his pockets and began to shuffle off back towards his ship.


@LilyNion
 

Clove Vanhoop

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Jedi Order
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The farmhouse was small and delicate, surrounded by a golden field of wheat. In truth, it wasn't much, and it was all the family could afford back then. And, despite their increased wealth as a result of Kaalina's successful fashion business, they had fallen in love with the small structure and decided to stay. Clove didn't mind when she snuck onto Ralltiir and moved in with her parents for a few months. Because, while her plan was to stay on Yavin 8, she quickly realized that the planet devoid of humanoid-surface life didn't have any place for her to stay. So, while a small wooden structure was being built with her own money, she decided to stay with her family for a while.

Her birthday drew closer and closer as the days passed. But she wasn't looking forward to it; her friends were busy, which she couldn't blame, and Altair... Altair followed her like a ghost. Everything she saw reminded her of him. A piece of clothing, butterflies, birds, and even her cybernetic spine served as a constant reminder. And the birthday was no different. She remembered making that pink invitation card, spraying it with perfume and writing it in her best cursive. She was overjoyed to finally introduce him to her family and friends. But now she was certain he'd moved on. All she could do, or try to, was accept things as they were and hope he didn't waste the life she had saved for him.

The big day had finally arrived and Clove pulled herself together in a white floral dress and low white heels with ankle straps. She knew no one would show up, that it would just be her and her mother (her father had to go to work), but she still wanted to get out of her pj's, if only because she'd been in them for a few weeks. She didn't need to wallow in sadness, especially since the loneliness was already doing a good job of it without her having to do anything.

A small holo 3D puzzle on the dining table kept the half-Annfyn and pure Annfyn entertained. The house was quiet, with the only sound being the buzzing of the device. When the sound of footsteps on the pebble in front of the door lingered in the air, both pointed ears perked up. It was less obvious for Clove, but Kaalina had already risen from her chair. "You didn't think anyone would come today, right, sweetheart?" Kaalina asked, her voice much gentler than Clove's.

"No, not really." Clove replied, her gaze shifting away from the puzzle and toward the door. She squinted her eyes, focusing even more intently on the sounds than before. That's when she recognized a voice she'd heard before, and her stomach sank like a brick in the ocean. "It's Altair." She whispered, her entire body stiffening when he mumbled the word Wheels. "What should I do, Mum?" She looked at her mother with wide, panicked eyes. Kaalina hummed for a moment, a faint smile on her lips, before nodding towards the door. "Go and say hai, just... give him some room, okay? He might not want to talk in the first place." They were kind words that translated to; 'For the love of the Force, don't be clingy or desperate.' "Okay..."

Clove rose nervously from her chair, her stomach clenched as she approached the door. She grabbed the door handle, inhaled deeply to gather courage, and pulled the door open. The first thing she noticed was four horns walking across the pebbles. Then there was the box with the envelope on top, right in front of the door. But, admittedly, those who could wait. "Altair!" Clove called out as she carefully stepped past the box, her heels shaky on the pebble path. "Wait!" She tried to waddle as quickly as she could over the small rocks until she got closer to the Tiefling.



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Altair Din

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Sith Empire
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Altair was in the process of walking away, but he paused to stare at some of the trees that bore fruit. Truth be told, he hadn’t expected to stumble upon a farmhouse as the location. In many ways all of this reminded him of home and the fond memories. The tiefling couldn’t hear anything but the sound of birds in the distance, no zooming speeders or other noises of industry. It was soothing and exactly like Bandomeer.

He was pulled out of his thoughts when he heard his name. Altair whirled around, eyes wide as if he had been caught misbehaving by Raze himself. His tail swished back and forth erratically out of nervousness, and a part of him wanted to just bolt in the other direction. However, he stood where he was, watching Clove make her way over as fast as she could. He hadn’t been expecting to run into her and he certainly didn’t expect to engage with her whatsoever.

Altair was definitely not dressed for a party, tossing on a simple tank, jeans and sneakers. He had his usual beaded and wired bracelets on his wrists. The tiefling finally took a few steps forward so Clove had less distance to waddle - it would take her a solid minute or more to reach him otherwise while they awkwardly stared at each other. Hands in pockets still, Altair walked towards her and stopped when he got close.

“Uh…. I wasn’t…expecting to run into you,” He mumbled sheepishly. What the hell could he say to her? Yell at her about throwing him in prison? Thank her for saving him from the brink of death? All of that sounded absurd right now when they were on this farm and he had just dropped off a cake for her birthday. Altair fidgeted with his own hair for a moment, running his fingers through the disheveled locks as he took in sight of her, “You…look real nice,” He said genuinely. He was entirely frumpy by comparison and he knew it.

“I was just gonna drop off some stuff and leave,” His gaze flicked past her towards the house behind her, “I didn’t wanna interrupt your party…your friends are prolly gonna want you back in there,” It was difficult to gauge his tone, but most of it sounded a bit mopey. He was certainly not his usual cheery self.

@LilyNion
 

Clove Vanhoop

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Clove's ears fluttered up and down nervously as she noticed Altair turning around. She couldn't take her gaze away from his violet eyes or help but notice the way he appeared to be on edge, and it sent her heart racing. She was torn; happy to see him again, guilty for what had happened, fearful of his response or that he'd leave, and nauseous from nervousness. But he actually came forward, saving her from what would have been an extremely awkward silent walk.

When she got close enough to have a normal conversation, she came to a halt, her hands shyly fiddling with each other in front of her body. His sheepishly mumbled pulled the corners of her lips upwards into the tiniest smile, and her shoulders raised slightly when he complimented her looks. Butterflies swirled in her stomach as he ran his hand through his hair, as if nothing had happened in the past. "Thank you... I really like the pink on you." She replied with sincerity. Sure, he was disheveled, but it wasn't a bad look on him.

When Altair mentioned that he was planning on leaving again, her ears lowered slightly, but instead of screaming for him to stop being silly and come inside, she nodded vaguely. "You didn't really interrupt anything... My friends are all busy, and my dad is at work. So it's just me and my mum." Clove's gaze fell to the ground for a moment, her brows burrowing.

She couldn't read him like she could before, and she'd never had any experience with a conversation like this. So to say she was uncomfortable would be an understatement. But then again, how must he feel if she is already uncomfortable? He traveled all the way to her house on her birthday, hoping to drop something before sneaking away. "Thank you for coming all the way here... Uhm... I kinda walked past the box."



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Altair Din

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Sreeya
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Altair blinked a few times, forgetting that he had actually tossed on a pink tank. He was going to argue about how it was actually a more salmon shade in his opinion, but he refrained from it, “Thanks..” He mumbled before a faint grin graced his face, “Though you’d compliment someone even if they looked and smelled like they rolled around in bantha shit,” Altair quipped, a bit more of his normal personality bleeding in right then.

He didn’t miss the way her ears drooped when he mentioned leaving. Altair shifted from one foot to the other, fiddling with his hair a bit more. He paused when she mentioned her friends being busy, his eyes narrowing, “Busy? You’ve had this planned for months,” Altair blurted out before he could stop himself, “Those friends sound like real pieces…” He cleared his throat, deciding that speaking ill of her friends was right back to being the jerk he was on Dantooine, “...like very busy people, yeah..” He finished calmly.

Altair was unsure what to do. She had expressed disappointment at him leaving, but she hadn’t exactly invited him inside either. Would he go even if she asked? Or would he go back to his ship? For now, he simply stood where he was, looking past her to where he had set the cake and tickets down. Altair’s face suddenly felt hot as he cleared his throat and fidgeted some more. God, why was he being so awkward? He was never awkward. In fact, he was confident and attention seeking to a fault. What the hell was this?

“Uhh well I made you a cake as promised,” He said quietly, “And got you a gift to enjoy with someone,” Altair paused for a moment, “I guess you could take your ma?” He wasn’t going to spoil what it was. The ballet was exceptionally difficult to get tickets to and VIP was normally reserved for galactic diplomats and leaders.

@LilyNion
 

Clove Vanhoop

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Clove's gaze was drawn to his faint grin as a sliver of his normal personality shone through. It was so little, so faint. And yet, it felt like the first ray of sunshine after weeks of dark clouds. Even if it was only that one little glimpse of how it used to be, made for the best birthday gift she could ever ask for.

"Yups." She replied, not missing the way he narrowed his eyes. But he held back, and she wasn't in the mood to trash her own friends either, especially on her birthday. Plus, she understood why they were so busy, even if it did make her grumpy. "Oh well, I at least get to spend some time with my mum, that's always a plus."

Clove's fingers continued to fiddle with each other as he explained that he had brought her a cake and a gift meant for two. It sent a pang through her chest, and she couldn't help but wonder if the gifts were bought before the incident. But instead of asking, she gave him a faint smile. "Thank you, that's very kind of you." As the seconds passed, her body grew even more restless. They were just standing in the sun, the wind blowing past them and into the grain field. And it was so incredibly awkward. Even Altair was awkward. Altair, of all people! She had to do something, they couldn't just stand there forever.

The half-Annfyn inhaled a deep, slightly nervous breath. "Force, I suck at this," she muttered quietly to herself before returning her gaze to Altair. "Uhm... Do you want a piece of cake or something to drink? My dad's baking skills aren't as good as yours, but he gives it his best shot... or we can eat a slice of your cake." Clove ran her right hand through her hair. "Of course, only if you want to. No hard feelings." She quickly added, remembering her mother's advice to give him some room.




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Altair Din

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Sith Empire
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Sreeya
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The two stood there awkwardly for a moment, the sun beating down on them both. While it had no real impact on him, he could tell it wouldn’t be long before Clove began to turn red. The tiefling said nothing, simply nodding when she thanked him for the gift. He cleared his throat and was about to announce his goodbye when she spoke first. Altair stared at her for a moment, shifting a bit, “Uh…I..” He hadn’t expected this, honestly.

“Okay,” He blurted out before he could stop himself. Altair had no idea what to even discuss with her if they were going to hang out and eat cake. Would he bring up the prison? Would she bring up her side of it? There were deaths on both sides at the end of the day - the ladies left a massacre behind. In fact, he was sure they would be furious if they even knew he was here. In some ways the entire incident left her more alone than she had been before.

The tiefling quietly followed her towards the house, his tail flicking back and forth from nervousness. Would her mother look at him with suspicion? Did she know? Altair also thought about how Clove had mentioned solitude as her biggest fear. And here on her day there was no one here but her mother. Even though he considered not showing, he changed his mind in the end. Was she living her greatest fear every day now?

“This is..nice,” He remarked as he looked around the farm, “When you said your ma was a fancy designer and stuff I figured you lived in a mansion,” Altair said with a smile. He could only picture those high end runways and glitzy Core world trade shows. He leaned down to pick up the cake and gift so she didn't have to awkwardly bend before they stepped in.

@LilyNion
 

Clove Vanhoop

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She hadn't expected him to say yes so bluntly. It was enough that he showed up, but to agree to hang out, even if it was only for half an hour? It surprised her, and her eyes lit up as a result. She had no idea how it would go, what they'd talk about, or if he'd even be comfortable, but it was a baby step in the right direction. Even if it didn't lead anywhere, that small step clearly meant everything to her. For the first time since leaving those temple walls, she felt a little less alone.

Clove opened the door and quickly cleaned her shoe soles on the doormat before taking a look around the entrance. "Mum?" Clove called out as she closed the door after Altair entered the house. "In the living room, sweetheart!" Kaalina's gentle voice called back. Clove gave Altair a faint smile before walking over to the living room. "Yeehh... This is all they could afford after the clinic shut down. I think they can afford a mansion by now, but they love this place too much to leave."

When they entered the light living room, they were greeted by Kaalina, who sat on the couch with her legs crossed and a small notepad in her hands. The tall Annfyn, dressed simply in jeans and a fitted shirt, lifted her gaze from the pad, her ocean blue eyes falling on Altair. She rose from the couch and approached the two, her expression betraying very little of what she was thinking. "Ah, you must be Altair? Clove told me a lot about you. Let me take that box into the kitchen." Clove gave Kaalina a look as she carefully grasped the box containing the cake and envelope. "It's lovely to finally meet you. Make yourself feel at home. Can I get you something to drink?"

While they were talking Clove sat down on the right side of the couch, her hands clasped on her lap. She couldn't help but look at Altair, his tail, the back of his hair, and his four horns, looking for any signs of scarring that she hadn't seen on Dantooine. She knew the rebels were treating him like dirt in New Alderaan, so all she could do was hope they didn't physically abuse him.



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Altair Din

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Sith Empire
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Sreeya
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Altair immediately had mild anxiety when the door opened and Clove’s mother was there. He couldn’t explain it - it wasn’t like they were dating and he was meeting his girlfriend’s mother for the first time. What the hell? Fortunately, he kept it together for the most part outside of his tail swishing back and forth. The tiefling stepped forth and extended his hand to shake the older woman’s, “Altair Din, m’am,” He said politely before stepping back. While he thought he was doing an excellent job of not appearing nervous, of course the Annfyn would be able to see right through him, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Vanhoop,” He said with a smile, “Um.. just water works, thanks.”

He sat down on the couch with Clove. For a moment or two he said nothing, drumming his fingers over his thigh. If Clove looked, she would definitely see some scrapes at the base of his horns and have the horrific realization that at some point people did attempt to saw the horns off. She would also see diminishing bruises and scuffs on his wrists from his binds. Altair appeared unconcerned, obliviously looking around at the adorable living room. The simplicity of it once again reminded him of his own home and the smell of baked goods and warmth brought back memories of his mother.

Altair finally cleared his throat, turning his head to look at her, “I…always know what to say to you but I feel like I’m just sucking at it right now,” He managed a sheepish smile, “Did…you get in trouble after what happened?” Altair asked quietly, still unsure about navigating the topic. However, they couldn’t avoid it forever.

@LilyNion
 

Clove Vanhoop

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"A glass of water it is. I'll put the cake you made in the fridge because Ron will be upset if we don't try a slice of his creations." Kaalina laughed softly, not bothering to hide the fact that she'd been listening in on the two. Clove's mother turned around and walked towards the doorway before looking over her shoulder at her daughter. She mouthed "very polite" with a slight smile and then went into the kitchen to slice some cake and get some glasses of water.

Clove quickly reached for the envelope on top of the box with her Force before Kaatlina could fully disappear into the kitchen. She began to levitate it towards the table as carefully as she could, and as it floated through the air her mother's voice rang through the hallway. "What did I say about using the Force indoors?!" "Sorry, mum! Won't happen again." Clove quickly replied while placing the envelope on top of the table for later.

Clove continued to look at Altair, as subtly as she could, at whatever skin he wasn't covering after the silence returned. She could see the markings around his wrist and, more shockingly, the scrapes on his horns now that he was closer. Her stomach sank deeper and deeper, her breath briefly stopping when the realization hit her. Those filthy rebels. She shifted her gaze away from his horns and back to the envelope, her hand once again anxiously fiddling with her skirt's hem.

She didn't look up at the Tiefling again until he cleared his throat. "Don't worry... I'm also drawing blanks." She replied with a similar sheepish smile. When he carefully dared to bring up the subject, her cheeks slowly but steadily began to burn. "Sorta... They filed a report against me for stopping the rebels, and while they don't explicitly know I helped break you out of New Alderaan, I took the Barash Vow. Which... is enough for them to assume I did something bad and that I'm making up for it now." Clove blurted out.



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Altair Din

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Sreeya
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“All right, but I do want Clove to at least see the cake while I’m here,” He told Mrs. Vanhoop with a smile. He had a feeling Clove would like the butterfly designs - it had taken him hours to get it all right after all. The quip about no Force in the house caught his attention and he recalled how Clove mentioned her mother didn’t care much for Jedi or Sith. This was drastically different from his own upbringing where the Force was expected almost constantly.

Altair’s face scrunched up a bit when Clove spoke, “Barash Vow? What’s that? Like…you become a nun and get all…celibate and stuff?” He blurted out before realizing it probably sounded ignorant or nosy. Then again, all of that sounded very Jedi so he wouldn’t be surprised. Altair fidgeted uncomfortably, pondering on discussing the Dantooine topic a bit more. However, he brushed it aside for now - it was in the past after all. He was only here for her birthday and they could go back to their respective orders after that.

“Aight,” He said, sitting up straight, “It’s your birthday and it's too depressin' in here, no offense. So you gotta pick something exciting you wanna do - a big wish you wanna act on,” Altair declared, “Since your friends are…” His jaw moved in funny ways before he continued, “..busy, it’ll just have to be me and you. So, what’s it gonna be, Wheels?”

@LilyNion
 

Clove Vanhoop

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Clove smiled softly, not blaming him for not knowing a more niche Jedi Vow. "Errhmmm. It basically means I'm off-duty, in 'solitude,' focusing on the Force and my own mind, and seeking 'penitence.' Which translates to: I've taken a long vacation to focus on myself." Her gaze returned to the envelope after she finished speaking. Her curiosity began to grow as the awkward air became slightly more breathable. What was in it? Why was it meant for two?

Altair sat up straight and began to speak just as she was about to reach for it. Her large brown eyes returned to his, and for a split second, all she could do was stare. Why did he want to take her somewhere big and exciting? He couldn't have forgiven her for Dantooine so soon, so was it just because he was kind? Or was it his way of saying goodbye, leaving her with a nice memory instead of all the nightmares? In the end, it didn't matter because she wasn't going to say no and thus had to make a decision. So she shook her head, blinked her eyes, and hummed. "Hmmm... Okay. I know something. But it's a bit silly okay? Don't laugh."

Clove took in a deep breath, her cheeks burning up. "I've never been on a rollercoaster before. Mum is too afraid, and dad claims he isn't afraid but doesn't want to lose his glasses, but I swear to the Force he's afraid as well because he owns contact lenses. There's a themepark here on Ralltiir, based after 'grimdark' fairytales, and I've always wanted to go there and hop on a rollercoaster, but I'm too afraid to go on my own."



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Altair Din

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Sreeya
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Altair’s eyes widened as Clove described the vow. Jedi could just…do that? Then again, it sounded similar to what he heard Darth Raze did after Denon. He had reportedly been blinded, disappeared for a year and returned with his sight slowly healed. Was this similar? Altair grinned, “Sounds like a nice vacay,” He said longingly, “I wouldn’t mind a break sometimes.”

In truth, he had been raised to always set aside differences on birthdays. It was a sacred day in his household and all the siblings had to be nice to the birthday kid. You could’ve had a massive fight just the day prior, but you weren’t allowed to bicker on the birthday. For Altair, he swore by that tradition even with his friends. Despite what happened with Dantooine and New Alderaan, he wasn’t going to let it surface on Clove’s birthday.

The tiefling heard what she said and had to grin, leading to a chuckle, “Never been on a coaster? Damn…well at least it ain’t a lame wish,” He said teasingly. He remembered the Din family annual trip to a theme park. It was always a production and hectic, but they always had a blast. Altair quirked a brow as he looked at her, “Let’s just hope you’re tall enough to ride,” He said before he rose to stand, “If we’re goin’, I’m drivin’” He stated flatly. He wasn’t going to deal with her maniac driving skills again.

Altair knocked gently on the kitchen door to get Kaalina’s attention, “ ‘Scuse me, Mrs. Vanhoop,” He called out politely, “Is it alright if I take Clove to the local theme park?” He glanced down at his comlink, “I promise we’ll be back before sundown,” He threw in a warm smile in an attempt to sell it, "And no Force use."

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