Broken Up Rating: PG

Dr. Qwi Xux stopped short of putting make-up over her eyes, letting the applicator hover over her face before she slowly put it down on the vanity. She had realized a while ago that her tendency to put cosmetics on her face was a "human" thing. She was perhaps the last of her species, and thus had no models for what was "acceptable" for the likes of her.

She did it to fit in ... to please the man who had taken care of her for over two years. Since the rogue Jedi Kyp Duron had destroyed her mind, Qwi was very much in need of protection. She blossomed under the kindness of Wedge Antilles, who was initially assigned to be her bodyguard, but their relationship had evolved into something deeper.

And yet, not deep enough. As Qwi had improved, she became conscious that her relationship with Antilles was not equal. Then she realized that it never would be; he loved someone else who did not return his affection.

That should have been comforting to her on some levels, knowing that Antilles would never leave her for anyone but this secret woman. But Qwi would not stay dependent and in need of a champion forever. She healed and though she never fully recovered her memories from before the attack on her mind, she remembered what confidence and independence had meant to her.

In many ways, Qwi decided it was fortuitous to have been cleansed thus, to have the opportunity to be reborn.

She was also fortunate to have a man like Wedge Antilles acting as her incubator. But now she was ready to hatch, and when a creature-ling sheds its protective shell, it never thinks back on it, never cleaves it onto or around itself ever again.

She hoped to find another way to explain it to Wedge; she didn't think he'd take kindly to being discarded like a shattered shell.

* * * * *

Wedge Antilles knew it had been coming, but he never would have guessed that it would happen in this way. He chided himself for thinking he was in control of everything between him and his charge; in fact, she had proven herself more than capable of being in control of her own self.

He had known that his relationship with Qwi Xux was winding down. It had been obvious, lately. When he first met her, she had been emotionally wounded, and then her brain had been wiped. She had, in a sense, been returned to a state of complete innocence.

His colleagues had typified his bodyguard assignment as "babysitting," but in fact, Wedge was glad he'd been assigned the task. He was at a point in his life where he needed to take care of someone ... anyone! Having seen so much in the way of corruption and destruction, being responsible for Qwi was soothing and healing for him.

He often wondered if he had been taking advantage of her damaged state to boost his own self-confidence. He had found her innocence refreshing and soothing.

She was the only person in the galaxy who truly and totally needed him, in that unconditional way a newborn needs a loving parent, in the way a blindly devoted disciple presses their need onto a guiding mentor. She was beautiful and brilliant; her recovery would be cause for celebration, not only for her, but for the galaxy ... and for Wedge Antilles.

Tonight, he noticed that she looked more Omwati than ever before, though he didn't really know what other Omwat might look like. Qwi was the only one he'd ever encountered; he feared her species was extinct. It wasn't something they'd ever discussed.

Maybe it was the diaphanous white halter gown, which showed off more of her smooth blue skin and silhouetted her thin, fluid limbs. Or that her downy hair was unfettered, blowing in the breezes of this exclusive restaurant balcony several kilometers over Coruscant. Maybe it was the eloquent way she explained why the relationship had to end.

Mostly, he was disappointed that she had done a better job of saying it than he could have. But he was wholly relieved that she had broached the subject first.

Mission accomplished, whatever he had to do to get it done.

But ... now what? Was there more to Wedge Antilles than his career? For that was what Qwi was — another accomplishment in an illustrious career.

Wedge had never felt so empty, even though he knew it was the right thing that he and Qwi were broken up and finished.

* * * * *

Qwi was relieved that Wedge had understood why they had no future together. But she was unhappy about his acquiescence. Or, rather, the way he had acquiesced!

True, she had referred to him as someone she'd inherited from the person she was before her mind was wiped. That wasn't very nice ... And then, she basically accused him of using her as a training sim, in preparation for the real love of his life. He'd had the decency to be shocked by her description.

She told herself she was better off not being a man who would not fight — even a little bit — to salvage something that was useful and beautiful to both of them. But even as she mumbled the words in her mind, she knew that he was not that type. He was simply too kind to lie, even to himself.

He had even told her that he had come to dinner intending to break things off with her. That's not fair! Okay, so she congratulated him on his honesty, explaining that it'd made her feel better knowing she wasn't making a mistake. Okay, so she meant it at the time. Okay, but it still hurt! How dare he nearly gazump her thunder!

It hurt her to know that Wedge had been ready to discard her, as much as she needed to be away from him. She wondered if this was something typically Omwati as an emotion; perhaps it was her avian genetic heritage that made her believe her species mated for life with their first love? To know that he wanted to end it really didn't make her feel any better, on the whole.

Well ... it was over. It went just as she'd rehearsed it. She'd been thinking about it for months, and she should be grateful that it was over and it all was accomplished without tears or anger.

Even though she had totally expected protests, declarations of love, painful tears ... no, she had hoped and expected them.

Did she orchestrate a complex reasoning to break up with Wedge so she could incite a passionate response that didn't happen? Had she not really wanted to break up with him, after all?

She'd immerse herself in her work; she'd go to Vortex to help the Vors with the repair of their sacred Cathedral of the Wind. She'd find a purpose for her existence that didn't depend on the charity and nursing of the New Republic or the handling of its most prominent minor hero.

Someday, she might even stop being bitter for getting exactly what she'd told herself she'd wanted!

* * * * *

Wedge Antilles had the courtesy to send a secure holomessage to Qwi; he could not explain where he had been, or what he had been doing. But the message was clear: Qwi had been right — she'd indeed been a simulator run! He'd met someone very special while on assignment, and he would be married by the time he could get back to Coruscant. She was the first person he'd messaged, the note said.

Qwi numbly typed up an appropriately congratulatory message to her former paramour, and sent it before she could change her mind about the sunny tone. She immediately regretted it and burst into tears, wondering why he had to hurt her so badly by sending her this news?

Was it the timing? It had barely been a few weeks since she had last seen him — not enough time to pack her things or effect a move to Vortex — but he'd been busy!

She remembered how she knew that Wedge had been in love with someone else while the two had been dating. Had he been seeing her while Qwi had still officially been with him?

The phrase, Wedge Antilles, cad and cheater didn't sit well; she couldn't bend the idea into something her brain could handle.

Maybe he had picked up on some Omwati traditions of love? To meet your lifemate one day, then promise to be with them forever the next? That idea didn't resolve in her mind either.

Maybe there is a thing called "fate," she wondered. That this woman be on the same assignment as him could have been fate. Or it could be something he'd planned in advance, so that he could philander guilt-free?

But if he's not with me, he's not a philanderer, Qwi's mind was having a big problem resolving these new facts with data she had about Wedge. They'd been together for two years; surely she knew as much about him as anyone could?

Maybe it was just too soon. If he'd reported this to Qwi in a year, that would be a proper amount of time to let the pain of his final rejection dull. But then again, typical Wedge, he wanted her to know from him rather than find out via the holonews.

It would have hurt either way. But she knew he was right to do this for her; Wedge wasn't gloating. They'd parted amicably (at least outwardly), and had promised to keep in touch and even exchange Life Day gifts. He was just keeping up his end of the agreement.

Qwi had to accept that Wedge would do nothing out of malice; he was simply a nice guy. He hadn't premeditated a breakup so he could date or have sex with someone else. They'd been separated by his military missions many times, and she never had cause to fear for his fidelity.

No, the only acceptable reason is that her role as simulator was done well, so that when the opportunity came, Wedge knew how real love felt and how he should respond to the woman he loved. Qwi had been good practice, indeed.

She remembered that she'd called him her tractor beam, someone to protect her and guide her. She wondered if he would prove to be a good sim run for her, too?

It hurt, mostly, that he could so easily cast aside his role in her life; she honestly had needed him. And he, too, did need her for all the emotional "growing up" he had to do. And now he was ready to mate for life, and she was ready to break free on her own. Both had benefited, even though she felt all broken up, inside.

Well ... he did have the courtesy to thank her for all she had been for him. And at least he wasn't so clueless as to invite her to the wedding — that would have been too much like a kick in the gut. At least by not being invited, Qwi could fancy herself a threat to the new woman in Wedge's life!

Totally pathetic! She chided herself as she booked a one-way ticket to Vortex, activated the packing and shipping request for her things, and found a place to stay near the Cathedral. These were all things she could have done in the past weeks, but ... maybe she'd been waiting for Wedge to call her and beg her to see her, just once more?

She wouldn't be here when Wedge returned. Not because she couldn't bear to see him when he comes by with his new lady-friend, but because she'd feel really awful if he didn't come by at all ...

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