(Takes place on board Luke's ship going home to Yavin from Port Lansing) The pounding in his head resolved into a pounding on the door to the cabin. Turim groaned as he rolled to sit up on the edge of the bunk, and tried to pull his muddled thoughts together. Renewed thumping encouraged him to get to his feet and unsteadily move to the closed portal. He slapped at the release mechanism and leaned heavily on the door frame as it slid open. "Great stars, man! You look like you fought Darth Vader and lost." The Alliance pilot shook her head. "Master Skywalker is coming to see you and I figured you'd want to clean up first." Turim winced at the descriptive phrasing and turned toward the attached fresher cubicle. "I didn't lose, I won." As an afterthought, he glanced back at the young woman and added, "Thanks for waking me up." "No problem. But hurry up, Master Skywalker will be here pretty soon." The door to the fresher sealed between them and Turim groaned again as he saw himself in the mirror over the sink. _It ought to be illegal to put bright lights and mirrors in front of people when they first wake up._ He rummaged through the drawers and found both a depilatory and an antiseptic cleanser. Besides an overnight growth of beard, his face was a mottled mess of bruises and even some burns from the duel he'd participated in before someone had blasted him from behind. How he'd ended up in the care of the Alliance once again, he didn't know. But he assumed he'd be told. As he treated both his injuries and his beard, he concentrated on trying to reduced the after stun headache that continued to pound between his temples. He was no healer, had never been, so when the attempt didn't work, he wasn't terribly surprised. He checked to see if the whisker removal was complete and turned back toward the cabin. His peripheral vision caught his reflection in the mirror and the swirl of black fabric enrobing him dragged his attention to his clothing. Garb provided by Palpatine. Under tunic and outer robes of deepest black--cut in the design worn by the Jedi--but the color of the detested Sith and their ilk. Rage welled up in him and he began to tear the robes off of himself, but the fresher was too narrow to accommodate his broad shoulders and his movements. Shoving the door open, he burst out into the cabin, flinging the outer garments away, fumbling at the belt until the buckle released. He grabbed up the pale colored sheet from the bed and draped it around him as he kicked off the black boots and trousers. The sound of the door opening startled him and he whirled, to face the serene face of Luke Skywalker. "Master Skywalker." Turim bowed his head in respect. "Master Turim--" "NO! Not master!" Turim protested violently. His shout aggravated the headache and he dropped heavily to sit on the edge of the bunk. "I don't deserve that title after the last two years. I don't even think I'm still a Jedi." "You are always a Jedi, Turim. That part of you doesn't change." Luke sat down next to him, glancing at the scattered black clothing. "It's not the color you wear that determines that. It's the spark of light that remains to fight the darkness." He pushed aside his long brown robe and reached for his belt, taking hold of a silver and black cylinder that hung thereon next to his own lightsaber. "We grabbed this when we picked you up, but I didn't think you'd want it laying around where anyone could get it. We disposed of the armor you were wearing." He placed the weapon on Turim's lap. Turim picked it up and pressed the activation stud. The weirdly glowing black blade sprang into life, the hum resonating in his bones and throughout the small room. "_He_ changed it. Found a black diamond someplace and replaced the focusing crystal with it. _He_ laughed as he gave it back to me, you know. _He_ said it was a more fitting color for his apprentice." The last word was spat out like a spoiled piece of food, and he snapped off the saber, dropping it on the floor at his bare feet. "_He_ ridiculed my dedication to the light--used my family to force my obedience. And now _he's_ won. Orders to kill Kelsiana and Reena probably went out when I didn't return to the Imperial Base. I got away, but they're still prisoners somewhere--" He closed his eyes and covered his face with his hands as he struggled with the guilt and sorrow. "--but I couldn't last much longer against him, Master. I was looking to die myself, before I crossed over entirely. Even though it meant Kelsie's death--" He choked on his words. Luke laid a comforting hand on his shoulder before bending to pick up the saber. "I'll be right back. There's someone you need to see. And," he added, "I'll send in some more appropriate clothing." He dropped the saber on the mattress and left the cabin. Turim didn't uncover his face, or even look up as the door opened again, several minutes later. He could hear Luke's voice speaking softly from the corridor beyond but didn't put forth the effort to hear the words. The door hissed closed again and light footsteps crossed the deckplates to pause in front of him. "Turim?" The voice was hesitant and hopeful. And belovedly familiar, He squeezed his eyelids shut as his name echoed in his ears. _I'm hallucinating. I want to hear her so badly, any female sounds like her._ "Oh, Turim, what have they done to you?" The soft thump of folded fabric hit the floor and cool hands grasped his and pulled them away from his face, lifting his features to the light. Lips gently pressed a kiss on the burn across his left cheekbone, fingers riffling through his curly hair. "It's been so long!" He remained voluntarily blind for another few moments, then, hardly daring to hope, he looked up into the face of the woman standing before him. "Kelsie." The word was a sob as he took his wife into his arms, pressing his battered face against the breast of the blue shipsuit she wore. "How did you escape? I thought--" She snuggled her own face into his curly hair, inhaling the very scent of him, leaning into him. "I've been free for two years, darling. Trying to find out where you were and how to get to you to rescue you. When _he_ sent you from here last year before the Alliance forces arrived, I'd almost lost hope. We had planned to rescue you then, but--" She kissed his crown and continued. "I'm sorry you got stunned, dearest, but from the back you looked so much like Vader, that's who I thought you were at first in that awful armor." Turim looked into her green eyes, bemused. "_You_ were the one who stunned me?" He laughed. "Oh, Kelsie." His brown eyes filled with tears. "_He_ told me you would die if I rebelled--if I didn't obey--if I didn't guard Prince Trinian. If only I'd realized it was you--" He pulled her down to sit across his lap his arms tight around her. He rocked back and forth as two years of grief and fear for his loved ones vented, soaking Kelsiana's jumpsuit with his tears. When they were spent, he kept her on his lap and sniffed a few times. Kelsie reached down and grabbed the bundle she'd dropped when she'd seen him. "I'm glad I had the forethought to bring a change of clothing for me, too," she said lightly. But her face was likewise wet and she wiped her eyes with the back of her wrist before leaning in to kiss him hungrily. "Oh, great stars, Turim, I've worried about you and missed you so much!" The initial kiss led to more, and the clothing was once again forgotten as husband and wife lost themselves in each other. Later, tangled in the sheet Turim had been wearing, he asked hesitantly after Reena. "_He_ threatened to make her into a Sith." "No, _he_ never will. She's safe at the Academy. One of the other Masters has been fostering her while I trained and prepared to rescue you. She's the image of you--and has your strength with the Force they tell me." She snuggled up against his side and yawned. "I'll show you her holos later. After you rest and we can get a healer to deal with those burns and bruises." "They don't hurt enough to mention. Not like my heart did when I thought I'd caused your death." Turim hugged her tight, still feeling guilty. He kissed her hair and realized she was asleep. He snuggled as close as he could and closed his eyes. For the first time in two years, he slept without nightmares, wrapped in a protective sphere of love and concern, generated by the Jedi on board enroute to Yavin and the Academy there. In his own cabin, Luke Skywalker monitored the efforts of his people, strengthening the shield that was to keep Palpatine from realizing just where his former, reluctant apprentice was. He ensured Turim's privacy, keeping his reservations about the big man's state of mind to himself. There would be time enough when they got to Yavin to see just how far the Jedi had been corrupted by the Dark. Then he would have to determine if Turim was safe to again teach the young students he loved so much. Time enough, then, to make the hard decisions that he had to make about Turim's future.
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