Pleasure & Pain: Chapter 7 Rating: PG-13

I hang there in the pain, and try to figure out the emptiness within me. Why do I feel so dark, so dirty?

I remembered how hollow my last words to Lumiya were, so I say them again. "I will not kill Tahiri."

I try to remember what Tahiri looks like, the sound of her voice. I can remember her golden hair, and green eyes. Why do all these girls have green eyes? I try to remember how Sannah's yellow ones look, or Tionne's silver ones, but all I see are green, the shade of Nethi's eyes.

I remember the three vertical scars on Tahiri's forehead, the sign of her shaping, of Domain Kwaad, which takes my thoughts back to Nethi.

And thoughts of Nethi remind me of how she looked kneeling in front of me. Her head lowered her demeanor coy. I can see how she kneels in front of me, everything about her screaming both innocence and depravity.

Frowning, I yank my thoughts back to Tahiri. I try to remember the sound of her voice, but I still can't. I randomly remember that she doesn't wear shoes, that she considered them a torture for our toes.

Thoughts of toes, remind me of how Nethi wiggled hers the day I asked to see them. That particular brand of innocence she exuded while she wiggled her toes, that innocent air that inflamed me so.

I say my mantra again. "I will not kill Tahiri."

It still sounds hollow, fake. I think it might have something to do with the fact that Tahiri has no meaning for me any longer. There is only Lumiya and Nethi.

For some odd reason, that particular thought evokes both despair and happiness in me.

"I will not kill Nethi."

That sounds right. That has meaning.

"I will not kill Tahiri."

Still nothing, but I know that it should have meaning. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I should never entertain thoughts of killing Tahiri.

The concept of shadows brings me back to Nethi and her hair.

I sigh as I can feel the pain from my robe lessen, and I wonder if Nethi is going to bring me a meal of Yuuzhan Vong.

I frown at the heartlessness of that thought. I remember a time when I cared more than that.

I dispel my concerns as the door opens, and Nethi walks in. I smile as she is once more barefoot. I drink up her appearance in the simple shift. I am enamored at her air of naughty-innocence. My mood lifts at the thoughts it invokes.

I watch as she kneels before me and begins the task of cutting my food.

"Yuuzhan Vong warrior is not on today's menu is it?"

She looks up at me, a look of shock on her face. "No! It is merely a nerf steak."

I continue to watch as she cuts the meat, and wonder if I should be glad or not.

She begins to lower me to the point where she can feed me. "Can you lower me all the way to the ground today?"

She hesitates.

I continue. "And then share my meal with me?"

She gives a small bow of her head, hiding the smile I can feel is there. "As you wish."

She lowers me to the ground, and I sit in front of her cross-legged, a large silly grin on my face.

After we shared the meal, I continue watching her for a moment. "Tell me about your past."

She lowers her head. "I do not remember much. I remember growing in a crèche on a worldship. I remember being on Yavin 4 during the shaper fiasco there. My domain lost a lot during that, at the hands of she-who-was-shaped. I remember dreams of twin suns. But most of my memories are of Lumiya and serving her here. I do as she bids."

As she finished talking, her mouth has formed a small half-smile. She raises her head and captures my gaze once more. "Tell me of yours."

So I do. I tell her of growing up on Coruscant and Yavin, of my Jedi training, of my time on Dathomir with Aunt Mara. Then I tell her of that fatal mission to Myrkr.

For some reason, I don't tell her about the kiss Tahiri and I shared on that space station.

As I finish the story, she picks up my plate and stands. I stand in front of her. Once more her manner is coy, her head bowed slightly. I can't decide if her subservience frustrates or excites me. I force myself to focus on her words. "I must go; I have other duties to attend to."

Part of me does not want her to go. Yet there is another part of me screaming for her to do so, it wants the pain to come back.

So, I do what I feel I should. I grab her face and kiss her.

It's only the second time that I have kissed her, but it feels so right, so perfect.

She drops the plate she is holding, and presses herself against me. She is as lost in the moment as I. My hand slide down her body away from her face and encircles her, drawing her ever closer to me.

I pull away from the kiss, and look down at her. I had never noticed that I was taller than her, but it seems fitting, appropriate somehow. Her breathing is heavy, her eyes closed, her lips parted slightly. She is instinctively leaning up to me.

I can't resist. I have to kiss her again. So I do.

Then I can feel the burn of Force Lightning covering my body, coating our bodies.

I can hear my screams, intermingled with Nethi's.

Then the lightning stops and Lumiya lifts me effortlessly and flings me back into the repulser. She turns to Nethi and snarls. "Remember your place. You do things on my command. There are others you could be given to."

Then Lumiya backhands her. I strain against my bonds, an inarticulate growl erupting from my throat.

Lumiya stares at Nethi for a moment more. "Go to your chambers."

Then she turns to me as Nethi flees from the room. She caresses my cheek, and I can feel the fire trailing after her fingers. Her voice is filled with sorrow. "Anakin, you have not promised to serve me, you cannot have Nethi unless you do so."

I shiver as her fingers go back up the side of my face. She grabs my hair and pulls back on it hard, lifting my face so I'm staring up at her.

I can feel the anger and hate. I hate her. I hiss out my mantra. "I will not kill Nethi."

Lumiya gives me that predatory smile again and kisses me hard. I feel my lust for her erupt; my anger and hate are forgotten in the flow of my desire.

She drops my head, and begins her slow, teasing, walk away from me. I belatedly realize that I had misspoken my mantra. "Tahiri, I will not kill Tahiri."

Lumiya ignores me and leaves the room, leaving me alone with my comfortable old friend, and my despair.

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