Tip the Hourglass

Jiang Winters

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"Truth be told, Val, I... Feel like I'm drifting from the Order anyways. Thank you for the advice though, it convinced me that leaving is the best for me. Shouldn't hurt me in the long run, I can always work as a pilot with Mohatu Shipping, and maybe I'll be lucky and Sheng will be willing to train me and Jiang in his off time!" she replied. The Cathar sat up and leaned on Val, resting her head atop her shoulder and purring very contentedly. "I really feel sorry for you and Huang though. It sucks that you have to hide things like that, but it's a lot better to keep it a secret from the world and still love each other than to love each other and keep it bottled up."

"Anyways... I'll make it official when we get back. I'm not big on formalities, so I'll probably just send a letter saying 'I Quit' or some such. Doubt I'll be missed. Sure, I was promoted to knight just because I brought down some big-wig admiral, but that didn't make me a poster girl or anything. I'll be forgotten inside a week, thank the gods."

She twisted in place so that she was able to wrap both arms around Val and draw her into a tight hug, Val's back to her chest. "Now, onto lighter subjects; I spotted a gallon of half-and-half ice cream in the freezer, and I think you should go get it and two spoons. I'm craving ice cream." The female released Val and playfully prodded her shoulders. "Go on now, fetch me my mind-freezing omnoms of icy goodness! The pregnant kitty demands it!"
 

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Val rolled her eyes at Sam, though she was happy to see her bounce right back to her regular personality. She truly was a strong woman to be able to push aside dark thoughts like that. It was a trait Val admired, especially as someone who often let emotions get the best of her. Val wandered over to the kitchen area, lazily using the Force to float the ice cream over. She had eaten a quarter of the container by the time she had returned. Val plopped down next to the Cathar again, innocently handing her the ice cream as if she hadn't touched it.

"Hm.. sure looks delicious!"

She lazily lounged back on the seat, picking up the controller to play the video game on the screen. Val scrunched up her face.

"Why do all the male characters always look like girls? Why is her hair purple?"

Her character took a few steps before they were thrown into battle. Val sighed, applying the usual commands for the turn based fighting style. She glanced over at Sam, grinning.

"It's been all about you, princess. My turn now! I'm getting married! How ridiculous is that? And I can't believe who I'm marrying.."

Val reached over and ate some chips, no doubt left by Ellie. She shook her head, dwelling on her line of thought.

"I can't believe back then I thought I was gonna end up with Caed. He called Raz a bastard when he was in my belly. Can you believe that? A bastard! The nerve, I swear..."
 

Jiang Winters

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Sam curled up as Val left and smiled. She had the good fortune of having inherited the best of her mother and her father's personalities. She had her mother's strength of will, her father's indomitable courage, her mother's intelligence, and her father's compassion and carefree mindset. She'd never taken anything too seriously and had never pushed herself to be the best of the best; she'd always taken life one step at a time, and let things unravel at their own pace. Granted, some things she rushed through, but for the most part she had been content to allow life to unfold at its own pace.

Aside from that, Samanya had, like her mother, seen the world in shades of gray. To her, 'Good' and 'Evil' were variables, determined solely by an individual's mindset and cultural beliefs. In her eyes, so long as she did what she had to in order to survive and didn't wreck anyone else's life in doing so, she wasn't being 'evil' - she was just surviving. Nothing more, nothing less. In that way, Samanya had always been remarkably resistant to the lure of the Dark Side. She had never held a grudge for long -though a few of her former owners and torturers were exceptions to the rule- and she'd never been able to stay mad for more than a short while. She infinitely preferred being happy - that was that.

When Val returned, Sam grinned and looped her arms around the ice cream. She tucked it up against herself and dug in, shoveling spoonfuls of vanilla-laced chocolatey goodness into her mouth. She laughed as Val commented on the game's characters and slowly shook her head, then smiled eagerly as the human turned the conversation back to herself.

"You know, I've never once heard anything good about Caed, but I've never heard anything but positive stuff about Huang. Sheng speaks really highly of him, so does Ji. I think he's well liked by those two. I'm just really glad to hear that you found someone who'll love you for who you are, and..." She paused, grinned, then muttered, "He's pretty damn hot, and he seems nice enough. You're one fortunate gal!"
 

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Val joined in on the ice cream shoveling, having brought her own spoon so they could share. It was a wonder that she remained so thin, with how often she allowed herself to indulge on treats such as this. As Sam referred to Huang as hot, Val momentarily choked on the spoon, coughing madly before regaining composure. For some reason, the simple comment made her face glow bright red.

"I uh...wow..that sounds so weird. Sword Master of the Order and hot.."

She had found Huang to be stunningly attractive, but to actually hear someone say that out loud sounded absurd, mainly because of the esteemed position he held within the Order.

"I'm surprised you think he's nice, considering how closed off he appears to everyone. He was a pain in the ass till I got him to loosen up..and taught him to dance. Yeah, enjoy that mental image."

Val herself had a hard time keeping the grin off her face. She looked at the screen again, horrified to find that two members of her party were dead already.

"Shit shit I'm out of Canary Downs! Noo!"

She began to mash buttons, somehow setting off a limit break.

"Oh thank god.."

Val had to give Sam a taste of her own medicine.

"..And he's spectacular in bed, by the way. Sword Master means dexterous fingers, you see."

She added a suggestive wink, followed by a laugh. Val couldn't suppress the blush rising to her cheeks, not used to being blunt like this. Sam made it look so damn easy!
 

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"He just kind of reminds me of a bigger, tougher, more badass version of Kam. He's been really... Distant ever since Dad became Chancellor. I guess he's just overworked, but Kam's been so quiet, so pensive. It's like he doesn't show what he's thinking or feeling at all, but you can still sense who he really is behind the facade... I mean, I don't know Huang at all, but I've never been able to keep myself from thinking that he's probably just like Kam. He's tough as nails on the outside and doesn't show what he's thinking at all, but on the inside is someone you can relate to and have fun with."

Sam's musings were replaced with laughter as she tried to picture Huang dancing. Every mental image she created looked ridiculous, and she soon found herself incapable of taking him seriously in any way. Her laughter only continued as Val ran headlong into trouble in the game. "Poor Val," she mused, grinning from one fuzzy ear to the other as she took another big bite of ice cream. She nearly gagged on it as Val piped up again - she had not been expecting Val to ever say anything like that!

The Cathar looked at Val and smirked. "Mrrrr, don't make me curious enough to ask you all the gory little details, Val," she cautioned playfully. She'd noticed the blush on Valena's cheeks - the woman was embarrassed by the comment, and so decided to turn the tables on Val by acting as if she wasn't caught off guard in the slightest. "Dalang's amazing in bed too. Former SWAT translates to lots of stamina, among other, naughtier things," she teased.

Her little joke delivered, Sam ate another spoonful of ice cream, then pointed the spoon in Val's general direction. "Anyways... Tell me 'bout Huang and how you two met! I'm really curious!"
 

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It was Val's turn to be completely embarrassed once again. She did not need to know details of her friend Dalang. She had already heard more than enough from Sam and Ellie. However, Val simply laughed, eating some more ice cream while her character in the game wandered through a town.

"I went to him for advanced saber training. I was still pissed off about Caed. Initially I disliked Huang cuz he had yellow eyes just like Caed did. As we spent time training, I fell for him. I suppose it's how we're polar opposites that caused the attraction. I'm outgoing, bubbly and probably a little crazy..he's really quiet and reserved. Somehow it works.."

She rolled her eyes at Sam.

"Yes, I already know how you two met. Christ, I learned more about Dalang from your stalker phase than I did on my own knowing him personally!"

Val remembered the comical trips by the store where Sam would sneak around in the aisles while Val devised ways for them to 'accidentally' bump into one another.

"Our first date consisted of him throwing me off a cliff, no joke. He called it base jumping or whatever... and then we went swimming in a lake. When we got out, we got chased by a herd of bantha in our underwear. I'm not making this up, Sam."

She herself had a hard time believing the story.

"For some reason we always land in the strangest situations...and wherever we go, if there are any animals nearby, they instantly attack him. It's hysterical, though I never know why..oh and Raziel has a habit of peeing on him any chance he gets. I'm trying to get him to kick the habit..he's done it to him before he had to go out for a mission. Imagine going into council chambers smelling like that."

Val laughed at the thought. Her laughter died till only a smile remained on her face.

"It's exactly how you described with Dalang, though. The feeling, I mean. It's incredible. I can't imagine anyone else I'd be so willing to spend the rest of my life with. Being a family just sounds amazing. It's something I was robbed of since I was just dropped off at the doorsteps of the Jedi."

Val sighed. It was incredibly rare for her to talk about her upbringing. It was even rarer for her to bring up her brother, who was the black sheep of the family.
 

Jiang Winters

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Sam giggled as Val pointed out that she didn't need to revisit Dalang and Samanya's meeting. The Cathar had to admit, her first few encounters with Dalang were anything but romantic, and she found it hilarious that she hadn't known his name for ages, she just knew him as 'that tiger with the cute ass'. She was glad that she'd stalked him so doggedly, though; if she hadn't enjoyed his company and his appearance so much, she might never have pursued anything more than a one-night stand with Dal, and she would have never been able to learn about who he really was, behind the muscles and the fur and the fangs and the claws.

Tossing another bite of ice cream into her mouth, Sam perked her ears and listened with rapt attention as Val described her relationship with Huang. She had to giggle, and at then burst out laughing as Val described the half-naked bantha chase of embarrassing doom. She laughed again as Raz's habit of peeing on his father was revealed, then shook her head and grinned at Val, still listening.

Her smile faded when Val broached the subject of her family. The Cathar had never once heard Val speak of her family, but she'd never asked, either; Samanya had never wanted to pry, lest she encourage Val to ask questions about her own past. But this once, Sam's curiosity was piqued enough for her to ask.

"So... What was your family like, if you don't mind my asking? Were you with them very long before the Order took you?"
 

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Val was silent for a long moment, her smile fading. She did not want to let Sam know she was always envious of her having a family. Val leaned back in her seat, putting the controller down. She hadn't allowed her mind to wander down that path in years. Val knew that she had to answer, especially as Sam had revealed such a big part of herself to her.

"Well..I have no idea who my parents are. I tried looking for them but the Order told me he wished to remain anonymous. They told me my mother passed away a long time ago. I..."

Val looked down, sighing.

"..have a brother. His name is Vincent. He was the only family I knew. He and I were both dropped off with the Jedi when our father abandoned us. As we both trained, he began to drift away till he...fell.."

It was a devastating realization when Vincent fell to the dark side.

"The Order exiled him and he just walked out..that was it. I haven't seen or heard from him since. He could be dead for all I know."

At this point, Val couldn't hold back her emotions any longer. She bit her lip as tears began to slide down her cheeks. She hadn't wanted Sam to see her like this, but the memories and thoughts overwhelmed her abruptly. Her voice was shaky.

"That's..that's why I'm willing to give anything up to ensure Raziel has a family. I want him to know what it's like having parents. My own family never existed and my brother, the last of my family, was torn away from me. That's something I never want my son to go through. I never want him to have to question why he was abandoned or why he was never wanted. It's...the most heartbreaking thing in the world and it's something I've wondered my entire life."

She wiped the tears away, smiling.

"I'm sorry to get all emo on you. I just..I just want to experience what it's like to be part of a family and not just someone within the Order. You never feel like you truly belong."

Val couldn't look away from the picture of her son.

"And it doesn't get better. When I marry Huang, we'll be a family, but we'll have to hide. And we're both warriors. What if one of us falls in battle? It's just difficult all around. There are so many things that could tear us apart. Sometimes I wish I were born as a regular civilian and weren't Force sensitive. The galaxy could go to hell and I'd be blissfully unaware instead of having this sense of being a savior instilled within my mind."
 

Jiang Winters

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Samanya set aside the ice cream as Val began to tear up. The feline slid across the couch and wrapped her arms tightly around Val, pulling her into a gentle hug, her tail joining in and wrapping about her waist to comfort the human. Sam couldn't imagine what loosing her brother must have been like - she was so close to Kamua that just seeing him in the hospital was heartbreaking. If he were to actually die, she'd be traumatized for ages.

She nuzzled away Val's tears. She didn't care if she soaked her cheekfur in the process, she just wanted to make her dear friend feel better. All the while, Sam listened attentively, drinking in every last detail of Val's life. It broke her heart to think that Val felt so alone, and she instantly wanted to set that right.

"But Val, you do have a family! You have me and Kam and Sheng, and you have Dal and Ji and Sonam and that bat-shit crazy Ayda girl! You have Huang, and you have Raz. You have a ton of people who love you and would take you in without a second's thought. We're here for you - all of us are. I know Kam's been distant lately, but you're really dear to him, and you're very special to me, too. You hold a special place in all our heart's - if that's not family, then I dunno what is!" Samanya exclaimed softly. She nuzzled Val's cheek again and smiled brightly at her.

"We're here for you now, that's what's important. I know your past hurts, believe me I know, but you have a bright future ahead of you. If you wanna search through your past to find closure, then do it, but... If you want to bury it, nobody'll ever ask why or push you, okay?" The Cathar felt... Strange. Like she was being more loving and accepting than she usually was. A part of her wondered if Dalang was starting to rub off on her... Or if her frequent bedside 'chats' with her comatose father were starting to imbue her with his more compassionate and nurturing nature. Either way, she felt like she needed to protect Val and boost her spirits, and that's exactly what she tried to do.
 
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