Ryloth 6 ATC 8, Week 7 Day 5: Evening
Ever since speaking to Cora earlier that day, Dominik hadn't the energy or the focus to move from his spot in front if the rock collapse. He mostly meditated, off and on, over the words Cora had said to him and how deep they had dug into his heart. He knew they were true. He knew he shut people out. But in Dominik's mind, it was for their own good. No one deserves to carry the grief he does. He was afraid that Lo would only ever see herself as a comparison if Dominik spoke too much about Evin. He was afraid she would look at him differently should he talk about his experience in Sith hands, or about the things he's seen during the war and the things he's had to do.
What good could sharing his burdens do for others?
He knew Lo cared, and that she wanted to help. But he was afraid that letting her in would shove nothing but negativity and grief into her young heart.
Lo watched Dominik from a distance. It had taken her the whole day to collect her courage and nerve to approach him. The perfect excuse came around meal time as she stepped into line and patiently waited for her turn. She told Sar she intended to take his meal to him which the older Twi'lek acknowledge. After putting a large serving of rice and various sauce and medley dishes on a leaf, she left.
With careful steps and balance, she managed to approach her master without an issue. Lo couldn't help the anxiety start to grow within her heart while she drew closer. She swallowed then recalled Cora's request, unsure of how to approach it. Her master's head rested in his hand causing her to gently tap his thigh with her boot toe.
Cora came out of a hut where a young man was laid up with a broken leg. Lo had set it well and there was no sign of complications, except that the young man was bored. Cora had given him her sternest look and let him know that she expected him to stay off of it for six weeks. She had promised him she'd see if she could fashion some crutches for him.
Looking up she saw Lo headed toward… Dominik? I told him bed rest! Stubborn man! As she watched Lo took him food. Has not eaten either. If he back slides I will Stasis him till I feel he is better. Please just talk to her. She needs you but you need her more...
"Master? I brought food, you should eat. You haven't eaten all day." She said quietly, looking worried.
He heard the footsteps as Lo grew closer, but chose not to say anything. After a few moments he felt a gentle tap on his thigh which caused him to focus on her words. He didn’t move at all yet as he thought about what she said. “Thank you Lo, but-” he stopped suddenly, recalling Cora’s words, recalling her request to let Lo in. He took a deep breath and pulled his head up, opening his eyes to look up at his Padawan with a faint, but true smile. “You’re right. A meal would do me good… what did they fix tonight?”
Lo’s chest tightened at the start of his rejection. Immediately her fur flattened and her eyes looked to the ground instinctively, trying to accept the pain. As he took a breath, her thoughts considered escape until she caught his question. A small, timid smile crossed her lips. The gesture was little, but the most meaningful thing to her right now.
Careful not to destroy the moment, she bent down and set the leaf between the two of them. Her finger pointed to each dish as she explained them.
“We have some roasted Rycrit in the center with cooked rice and some sauces to go with it. They are mainly a medley of vegetables and fruits, with some hot after-taste in some. This one is very bad with it.” She pointed to the reddish one nearest him.
“It’s called Kreen. Due to the root used in it. I would brace before trying that one and have a chunk of meat and rice to temper.” Lo’s voice took on a relaxed and childish excitement as she continued to explain each one to her master.
The smile remained on Dominik’s face as he listened and watched Lo go over every part of the meal. He watched the enthusiasm and couldn’t help a soft chuckle after she explained the Kreen.
“Becoming quite the cook are we?” Dominik said, smiling faintly to Lo as he looked over the meal.
“I loved helping in the kitchens as a youngling. Even when I put a lot of what I liked into the meals, thinking it would taste better. It turns out milk and nerf steaks… don’t taste too good mashed together.” Lo tried not to blush at her early experiments with food.
Dominik snickered at her comment, “I can imagine they don’t.” He said, reaching down and taking a small piece of the sliced meat. He lightly pulled it through one of the sauces before bringing it up and placing it in his mouth.
“Thankfully, I’ve learned more since then. I also know how to deep-fry nerf steaks with a crispy coating.” She had before; also trying some rice and one of the sauces, a deep orange one with some chopped fruit in it. A quick tense faded into bliss as the strong tang faded into sweet. She managed to lick her fingers clean.
“Soo… Cora told me I’m on three days rest. Did she tell you that you’re on five?” Lo chose an easy question to test the waters.
“She did.” Dominik said, taking another piece of the meat before dragging it through the same sauce as before and plopping it in his mouth. He wouldn’t openly admit it, but now that Lo had brought food over his stomach started to feel like an empty pit.
“Did she tell you anything else?” Dominik asked, wondering if Cora had mentioned yet anything about teaching Lo more about healing and helping the young Bothan to hone her skills.
“Yes. She was taking over until I’m done resting then going to help me with training and improving my healing. She says she’s impressed, but I don’t see why. I was flying by the seat of my trousers the whole time and even my organization could be better.” Lo commented, indifferent to her accomplishments, as she took some more rice and tried another sauce. This one was sour and savory, causing her to let out a little moan of enjoyment.
“Even if you don’t see the talent Lo, I see it. You are very gifted.” Dominik said in between bites, his free hand brushing over the robes over the scar on his abdomen. He looked over at her as she was enjoying her bite. He licked his fingers clean and then brushed them on his trousers before he adjusted the way he was sitting to be a little more comfortable.
“There also was something else Cora wanted me to do… but I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” Lo stated, trying to muster up her courage and strength.
Dominik took a deep breath at Lo’s words. He had a feeling he knew what she spoke of, but he could also be wrong. “What did she tell you? I’m sure you can do it, Lo. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
She wasn’t sure about this, even with her master’s encouragement. Her eyes closed for a moment as she inhaled then exhaled, letting her calm wash over her.
“She told me for the next three days, all I was supposed to do was eat, rest, and ask you every question that came to mind.” Lo fell silent, taking another bite. This one became tasteless the moment the truth invaded the air.
Dominik’s head moved to the hand resting on one knee again. His palm rubbed over his face as he thought over what Lo said. He straightened himself up again, turning himself more towards Lo before he spoke again. “And have you thought of any questions?” he said, looking to her and attempting to be as open as he could.
"Master... the more accurate statement is when don't I?" Lo pointed out.
The man nodded almost immediately at Lo’s statement. He couldn’t help the playful chuckle at the truth of it. Though it was something that Dominik had never really thought about until now. “What are your questions, Lo?” he began, looking directly at his Padawan as if to help show he was listening to her and only her.
Her tension cautiously began to drop from her figure. She gave a soft smile and sorted through her endless list, finally settling on one.
“We’ll start with an easy one. Since we’re currently eating, what’s your favorite food?”
The old man couldn’t help but chuckle again at the simple question. “Believe it or not… Colo Clawfish.” he teased, knowing good and well many of the younger generations of just about any species despised odd looking food before trying it. It definitely wasn’t the most appealing meal Dominik ever had, but it was a delicacy on his homeworld and something he had grown up eating on special occasions.
Lo tilted her head then blinked. “What’s that?”
“It’s usually a mix of two to three different types of cracked eggs mixed with a type of caviar from species of fish.”
“Caviar is fish eggs, right? How do they get those?”
“I’m not sure Lo.” Dominik said, snickering at her simple questions, though he figured it was only the beginning. “I just enjoy the taste. Though most younger ones around your age tend to this it’s disgusting.”
“I’m curious to what it tastes like, but I doubt I’ll get a chance. Maybe when I do, I’ll be the right age to actually enjoy it.” Lo retorted in a cheeky, playful fashion.
“What were you like as a youngling and padawan?” She asked suddenly, her figure leaning in to listen.
“My master often called me reckless.” Dominik began, laughing softly at the memory. “Master Ki always hated how little interest I had shown in the way of combat and dueling. I always preferred to watch and to wait before I made my decision.” Dominik paused for a moment, hesitant before he spoke again. “We fought a lot because of our indifference. Even then, he always told me how proud he had been. After I passed my Trials with great success, we stayed in touch and I continued to learn from him even though I felt like I was on my own.”
“Was it ever hard to talk to him?” Lo asked, hoping the question might enlighten her own issue and bring a solution.
“It was, at times.” Dominik said, thinking back to the first years with his master.
“What did you do and did it ever get better?”
“I kept working towards what I loved most.” He began, eyes closed as the memories slowly started to come back. “Soon he saw that my tactics and my patience weren’t such a bad thing. Soon he became more understanding, and we began to get along.”
A lengthy pause started as Lo took some meat and tried the spiciest of the sauces, absorbing what he had said. A few moments ticked by before she broke the silence again.
“Master, do you miss Evin?” Her heart thumped loudly in her chest, her head up and studying him. She didn’t know what to expect from her master with this question.
As Cora moved toward the hut that she left her belongings in she kept a close eye on the Master Padawan pair. The easy emotions coming off them were a good sign. The chat was going well. She set the old bag she carried her medical supplies in just inside the door and looked over her shoulder at the pair as they spoke.
She was going to try and get closer incase she was needed. She wandered over to the central area with a raised portion. Still watching the exchange.
Dominik choked at Lo’s next question. He took in a deep breath, his head bowing and eyes closing as hearing his previous Padawan’s name struck something in his heart. He exhaled slowly before inhaling sharply again. Finally, gathering strength, he looked back up at Lo.
“I miss Evin just as you miss your parents, Lo. It is… something neither of us can change.”
“I can’t miss my father. I only knew my mother and it’s been a long time. I barely remember her voice or her image. I don’t even know if I should feel guilty I can’t recall many memories about her.” Lo honestly admitted, her voice rather quiet.
Dominik’s breathing changed as the topic stretched on. He wanted to talk about these memories, he didn’t want to shut Lo out. Yet he couldn’t help the grief that seemed to resurface everytime he recalled that terrible day. “Do not blame yourself for something such as that, Lo. You had no control over the situation. You were very young… sometimes we cannot help but wish we could change the past.”
“If you could, what would you change? From the past that is.” Lo continued to watch her master intently, through her excitement and energy had spiraled down obviously. Several times she had considered altering the topic. However, she promised Cora she would speak whatever came to her mind. Even if it hurt.
Dominik exhaled quickly, holding his head in one hand as he struggled to keep his bearing.
"I would change nothing, Lo." Came his answer after a few long, silent moments. "Nothing can ever be changed, Lo. Everything is as the Force wills it…" he paused again, taking in a deep breath and glancing to his Padawan with tired eyes. "Even if it hurts. Nothing can ever be changed. That is why we must look around us. And look to the future."
Lo felt sick. A twisted, raw feeling had bunched itself up in her stomach. Growing stronger as the conversation took a less pleasant turn. She had stopped eating as the talking went on, losing her appetite with the change in subjects. Regret filled her at actually doing what Cora told her, but she couldn’t stop now.
“Is that why Evin is with the Force? Because it willed it?”