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This is a continuation of last week's piece, inspired and improved by [livejournal.com profile] lanna_kitty (Thanks, lanna_kitty!)  I thought about ending it at the hatchmark, but decided that was a bit too cruel...  No spoilers.


Adiira opened her eyes to see his face close to hers, wearing an expression she’d never seen before, tender and searching, his questioning eyes on her face full of concern for her and, yes, love. Her hand came up to cover his where it rested on her cheek.

“Oh...” she breathed, and then they were in each other’s arms, half-doffed armor be damned. He kissed her tenderly then more deeply, carefully holding her close, mindful of her wounds. She could have stayed there in the circle of his arms forever…

A rifle shot rang out from not far away enough and they both raised their heads. Malavai rested his forehead on hers and sighed.

“Much as I want to continue this, my love, it seems the baron’s demise has been discovered.”

They quickly re-armored; he helped her ease her damaged cuirass over the bandages.

“My lord, try not to get hit there again.”

She grinned and nodded: “I’ll do my best.”

Malavai jimmied the flimsy lock on the tall windows of the alcove and they slipped out onto the veranda, moving quickly to the limited cover of the hedge maze.
It was strange, lurking in the manicured bushes of the woodland surrounding the estate, sneaking through enemy territory. She was more used to picking out an enemy patrol and leaping into their midst than to locating them only to skirt their fire zone. Malavai guided the two of them on the path of least resistance, helped by the skirmishes between the Baron’s troops and the rebels which drew guards out of position and left gaps in the line where dead men had watched.

They were almost clear, almost to the road. A hundred paces from the Imperial barricades and safety. Sheer bad luck: a twig cracked beneath her boot, a bird fled, and that was enough; a latecoming squad with sharper eyes than most spotted them and opened fire. Stealth was of no use now; she abandoned cover and ignited her lightsabers, blades whirling, deflecting bolts from them both. She leapt as she always had and struck and felt something… give in her side. Red blood quickly soaked the white bandages. One down, two, but there were five… Adiira heard his despairing shout: “NO!” as she crumpled. There was no pain, just an odd lucent joy mixed with sadness. She was glad, so glad to have had the chance to say those words to him; she was sorry, so sorry not to be able to stay longer.

“I love you,” she whispered one last time, as the world dimmed and faded around her.

#

Something about Adiira’s movement caught his eye as she cut down the second of their attackers. Suddenly uncoordinated, she stumbled, lightsabers flaring and then going out. Malavai watched in openmouthed horror as she crumpled to the ground and lay still. One of the soldiers swiveled, bringing his rifle to bear on that dark head.

“NO!” he roared. Hot emotion threatened to overwhelm him and with a fleeting thought to her earlier words he let it come, releasing his careful detachment to this new fury. Time stretched and slowed; he rolled behind cover as he’d seen the agent do a hundred times before and took aim. The gunman’s throat exploded in a shower of blood and his body fell next to her, rifle clattering to the ground. The other two were slow, so slow, bringing their rifles to bear on him as he fired again, killing another, moving steadily closer. He batted the gun aside and slid his vibroknife between armored plates and the last man shuddered and died and Malavai was finally free to gather her up, limbs loose and graceless, head lolling against his shoulder. He picked her up and ran for her life.

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