The Netherworld, Then
It was with a certain triumph that, when she looked up again, she could see the top of that mountain. One more shadow waited between her and the summit. But what was one more shadow now, after everything she had forced herself through?
No. That wasn't possible. Every face, every voice she had encountered was one of the dead. If he was here that meant-
A renewed energy filled her and she pulled herself up beside the spike.
The holonews was playing in the background. The twins, asleep across the room. She could hear their soft breathing- or perhaps she only imagined she could hear it. She got up from the desk, padding over to check on them. Just in case. Leaning over, aand soft on their heads, careful not the wake them. Irajah smiled softly, content. She stood up and turned back around-
The scene on the news was from Midvinter. A place she cared about not in the least. She hadn't been paying attention, and indeed, if she hadn't looked at the image in that moment, she would have missed it entirely. A familiar face. It was only a flash. An impression.
"Pause!" She said, too loud, a soft noise of protest from a sleeping infant. "Rewind. Play."
The Netherworld, Then
"No, no no nononono-"
She pulled herself up on the spike, hands going gingerly to the child's chest, not touching the spot where the mountain burst through, then to his face. Pale blue, far paler than it ever should be.
"No, no, this isn't right- you're alive, no you can't be here-"
"Why did you send me away?"
His voice was small and plaintive, not accusing, but with that hint of suspicion he'd worn as a mantle, always. After what he'd come through, before she had opened her home to him, she had never been able to blame him- strived to make sure that she didn't take it personally. Sometimes she had failed, but she had always recognized that he'd had it so very hard in such a short life, and that the suspicion even when aimed at her, wasn't about her.
This time, this time she deserved it and a thousand times more.
"I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," she whispered, hand cupping the boy's face. "I've looked for you. I never stopped looking for you-"
"Why did you send me away?"
Her fingers pulsed, useless and helpless just above where the spike jutted from his pale, too thin chest.
"You're bleeding, I need to get you down from here-"
"I wanted to protect you," she whispered, voice breaking. "I- I didn't know how to get away from them, but I knew- even before I understood it all, I knew they would threaten you, to keep me.... that they'd hurt you, if they thought they could. I couldn't.... I didn't want to send you away. I thought- I thought I was keeping you safe."
Irajah had never attempted to sort out if the visions she had seen in the Netherworld were real or not. They were, in their own way, as real as anything else. She had looked for Boo for months with no leads, no luck. He had simply vanished in the time that she had been recovering after the attack by [member="Darth Carnifex"]. Since every other face she had seen on that mountain was dead, well, after that...
She had given up. Had accepted that Boo was dead. Why see him there, after all, if he wasn't?
Finding herself in a chair, she didn't even remember sitting down.
Breathing in shakily, she pulled up her contacts on the console. She had questions that needed answers.
It didn't take long before they came flooding back.
The Sith sat back heavily in her chair. There was a heaviness in her chest, the strange mingling of joy and sorrow she wished there was a word to describe it. Boo was alive. Living with the Silver Jedi as Boo Heavenshield now. Adopted. With a family. He was safe.
So why did it hurt so much?
The Netherwold, Then
She clung to the side of the mountain, the slow breathing of the shrike creature forgotten as her hands fluttered helplessly. She clung to the spike, elbow hooked around it, oh so careful to not put pressure on him where it exited his chest.
"I needed you. And you sent me away."
Somehow, she managed to curl herself around him, trying to find a way to lessen the pressure of the spike through his body.
"I'm not going to leave you again," she whispered fiercely against his hair. "I'm going to get you out of here. I'll figure something out. I don't know how yet. But I will, I swear it."
He nodded weakly, closing those golden eyes.
"I believe in you. You can do anything."
She laughed, unable to help it, but there were tears in her eyes.
"I found you didn't I?"
It had taken going into hell itself, but she had found him.
She looked up at the top of the mountain, so very close, and then back down at his face. A sob welled up in her throat, but she didn't know exactly why. Carefully, as gently as she could, she pulled her attention and actions into figuring out just how she'd keep that promise to him.
It hadn't been real. But the memories were as real as anything else ever could be. She had felt them as surely as this now. But they had been lies, manufactured by the keeper of that mountain. How much else of what she had seen between her death and rebirth had also been false? That was a question for another day.
Irajah sat and mulled. Finally she stood. After another check on the twins, she headed toward the closet. A box, buried at the back. She had not kept everything. What point would there have been to that? But from their apartment on Dosuun she had kept it with her. It had been salvaged from the wreckage of Blackwater Keep after it had burned by [member="Samson"], who knew just how much it had meant to her. The room there, made up for a boy that would never use it. In a away, she was glad he hadn't been there then. That he hadn't been with her when she had been murdered by [member="Samka Derith"], her death covered up by the 'tragic accident' of fire. Would she have let the boy live? Irajah didn't know.
Kneeling, she drew out the box. Opened it, her fingers ghosting over the items there. A t-shirt. A bean bag. A trio of action figures. They hadn't had long together, but it had been happy. A different time.
A different person.
She knew that the last thing she could do now was intrude on his life. He had come from Coruscant, from the Sith. They had damaged him in ways that, at first, she had thought would be impossible to undo. But slowly, so slowly, they had found trust. How could she think even for a moment of bringing him back to that?
Irajah was selfish. She knew that now. Did not deny it. But in this, in the people she loved, she knew what she had to do.
She couldn't help but do one thing. She knew she shouldn't. And yet....
The package that arrived, addressed to Boo Heavenshield was small and unassuming. There was no note. Nothing to explain. Only a return address of Coruscant.
But nested inside, oh so carefully, a trio of action figures. Last seen right before they had fallen behind the couch in a particular apartment on Dosuun.