[[ A somewhat complete death!Fic focused on our Qunai Duvallin ]]
How Do You Say Goodbye?
“Go! GO!” Qunai Duvallin shouts, flinging himself sideways into the speeder car. Despite the pain shooting down through his older, worn bones, he manages to sit forward and grab at the door, sliding the whole thing shut, just as the atypical rings of a firing slugthrower bite hard at his ears.
“Jeesh, damn!” Fythan, his son, calls from the front seat as he cranks up the acceleration and pulls the hovering ride from the dock, shooting off over the city skylights. The black-and-orange clad bounty hunter shakes his head from side to side with a bit of a smirk, messy red hair bouncing with. “Almost got your head taken off back there, pops! Gettin’ old?!”
Elimere smirks from the passenger seat, arms hugging at herself in her lightly crafted, Kojhal-style armor. But as the sudden silence grows, no biting yet loving comment from their beloved father, the girl quickly uncurls her legs and looks in the back. “Dad?!”
And there he lay, flat on his back, a red hole just off-center from his forehead, eyes closed and body limp.
“What?! Eli, wha-”
She springs from her seat and scrambles to the back, on her knees as she quickly presses two fingers against her father’s neck.
“Oh man, Eli! Is he alive?! What happened!”
“Just drive, Fy!”
“Is he dead?!”
“I have a pulse, just drive, dammit!” She breathes in and out, gazing down wide-eyed as she hauls Qunai up into her arms. “Stay with us, dad! Come on! Stay with us!”
Her mantra continues as the speeder car zips through the city at high speeds, the Echani rocking him back and forth in her arms as she pleads.
Sticks and brush crunched under his boots as he crouch-walked through the woods. Ahead of him a familiar salmon-colored cap bounced on an armored body - Thyssen Krupp. Behind him, another set of steps followed. He glanced back and spotted the thick frame of Gabriel Thorne stalking after them.
“Whoa-ho-ho...there it is…” Thyssen’s voice brought Qunai’s eyes ahead again, and he paused beside his old friend. He took the moment to really examine his two friends -- they were younger, by far...must’ve been at least...twenty years.
“That’s the place?” Gabe spoke. Below the tree-peppered ridge, with a couple guards milling about the front, a bunker door sat. He could barely hear the sounds of a distant transport taking off.
“Yup,” Thyssen puffed out with a singular nod, “we blow that sky high and that’s one less take-off point for slave transports. Ground chainbreakers...we’re makin’ history.” He grinned jokingly at the two, but his eyes squinted at the redhead of the trio. “Qu?...You okay?”
“I…” Something felt off, something...bad. He shook his head and glanced down at his gauntlets. Blood suddenly dripped, splattering down them once...twice. He combed a clean finger through it, before he rubbed at his forehead. “What...something’s...something’s not…”
“Maybe...we should hit the place later…” Gabe drawled out. The concern was evident from the two men, and Qu could only nod himself. He quickly stood, and jogged off. The two other men shared a look, before going to follow.
It was a quick pace back to the ship they took planetside
“Hold on there, little brother.”
A familiar-feeling metal hand gripped Qu’s shoulder, keeping him from stumbling any further. It practically thrust him backward and against a tile wall - wait, tile? He shook his head and looked up. His mouth ran dry. His long dead half brother Malikhai Treveleus stood in front of him, gazing around a corner. He blinked, and took in his surroundings.
“Wait a minute…” he muttered to himself, “I remember this…we’re...hunting someone that stole something important from you...you never told me what...”
“It’s classified...but I’m glad you remembered.” The last bit there was a bit of a sarcastic comment, but Khai looked over his shoulder regardless, concern in his eyes. “You alright? You seem...tired...out of it…”
“I…” Qu rubs at his forehead, before he quickly grabbed at Khai’s shoulder. “Wait, listen, Khai, I need your help.”
“After you help me, yes? You promised…” The elder of the two peeked back out and cursed. “Damn, there she goes. Quickly now, but don’t draw attention!” And he took off, blending neatly into the crowd of the station. Qu nearly lost him in the hustle and bustle.
He made quickly to follow after his temporally-displaced half-brother, but something caught his eye; the civilians that lined the underground streets, waiting for their trams to zip up to pick them up, flickered in and out of existence. The lights blinked in and out above their heads...then the world seemed to shake. Everyone looked up, stabilizing themselves on each other to ride the quake out, before they simply...disappeared...and Qunai was left standing alone in the station. A cold wave ran over his body, and a chill shot down his spine...before he spun around and came face to face with…
...Darth Tsorig...Alessander...his biological father, thirty years dead. The cybernetics and black armor that encased his aged form were gone, much of his wrinkles missing, and his brown hair was no longer thinning...his skin was still incredibly pale, however. Notably, his eyes lacked the corrupted yellow akin to most of his kind, now a simple blue. Seeing his birth dad in this state, it made Qunai realize just how much he took after his mother’s side of the family.
“...hello, my son.”
Alessander smiled sadly at that, idly shrugging as he strode forward. “I suppose I deserve that, at the very least...well, I assume you know why I’m here?”
“You’ll tell me anyway, right?”
“...hm.” The smile dropped from his face and he slowly, deliberately folded his hands behind his back. “...your time...it’s up, Qunai. I’m here to help bring you along.”
“Beyond, of course.” He made to step forward again, but the intent was easy to read, and his youngest immediately backed up himself. Tsorig could only sigh. “What, you intend to run?”
“If I have to.”
“Qunai, you’re not just wasting my time, you’re wasting yours too. At this point,” the elder glanced down as he fished out a chrono, “you’re just prolonging the inevitable.”
His son bolted at the distraction, legs pumping hard, hands finding the keypad to the room beyond that Malikhai had disappeared behind.
“I can find you anywhere, Qunai! There’s no point in running!”
The door shut tight, and the world shifted again.
“I’m sorry...but it’s time.”
A week well after the doctors and nurses got the slug out, Qunai hadn’t made any improvements. He hadn’t even woken up, a flicker of the eye, anything. His heart rate remained inconsistent, and he still needed a breathing tube.
Iyo looked up from her seat, her hands around her husband’s left. Her two children - adoptive - stood by her, Fythan angrily looking to the side, Elimere gazing at her toes in silence.
“Of course.” The Kojhal matriarch rises, before she leans down, kissing Qunai’s forehead. He didn’t respond. The inconsistent beeping of the heart monitor filled the air. Her fingers brushed through his long, reddish-gray locks. “...goodnight, love.”
She shuffled to the side, letting Elimere step over. Her thumb ran over her father’s knuckles. She smiled, despite the redness around her eyes. “...dad...thank you...for...for everything…”
Fythan turned his attention away from the goodbyes, straining to maintain a frown and hide his sadness. Beyond the glass walls of the room, he could see Cirsei and Xyrna Altaros of all people outside, conversing with Thessia. Thyssen stood by his wife, and hugged her tight as she brought a hand to her face and rubbed at her head. Cirsei met his eyes, and he saw her empathy. He quickly turned back to his father, as his mom and his sister made for the door. They didn’t want to be around when the plug was pulled.
“W-...wait, wait!” The bounty hunter dashed forward, gripping at the metal bar the flanked the bed, and gripped his father’s hand. The fingers gripped back, and green eyes flickered open. “His eyes! He’s awake!”
“Dad!” Eli cried out as she took up the other side, Iyo with her.
Qunai’s free hand pried the breathing mask off his face, coughing up the tube and began to take deep breaths, his eyes flickering between each of them. His lips made to move, but no sound came out.
“No, dad, no don’t talk...Eli, a pen! Anything!”
The youngest fumbled under the bed, producing a clipboard and one such thing, passing it into her father’s hand. He quickly uncapped it, gripping Fythan’s hand tight and steady as he began to write: Falder’s Highway.
The boy squinted at the writing in confusion, before he shoved it away and looked back down at his dad. His breathing seemed to settle, his body relaxing. A smile slowly grew across his lips, continuing to look between all three of them.
He breathed in…
“...I love you, all of you…”
He breathed out...then the heart monitor began to beep louder. His eyes flickered...and his head fell back. The heart monitor flatlined.
“Well, how do I look?” Qu cheekily asks, arms out and feet doing a light spin, dressed in a bit of an uncharacteristic suit. Fy laughs and Eli shakes her head with a giggle, twenty-one and eighteen respectively. Iyo’tress merely eyerolls, rubbing a hand from her boyfriend’s shoulder down past his elbow, before their fingers link.
“I think you look handsome.” The kiss was quick, but any exchange like that with her felt heavenly. “Now come on, the others are waiting on us!”
The four of them stand in the reception area of a large restaurant, bought out and empty just for this occasion...a time for everyone to get together and have a good time, like a family.
Qu smiles and shakes his head. “Go on. I need to call Khai, see if he’s even showing up or not. I’ll be right in, promise.”
And he merely watches on as they all step inside, Eli at Iyo’s side, Fy leading the charge. His booming voice let everyone beyond know that the Duvallin family had just arrived. His father could only smile before he reaches in to shuffle for his comm link. He moves to the window overlooking the city beyond, gripping the link tight as he stares at the horizon...then he notices another reflection.
“Clever move, waking up that.”
Qunai’s shoulders sag, meeting his father’s eyes. Tsorig looks upon him, clearly impressed.
“I had plenty of motivation.”
Alessander stepped forward - and as if in spite of Qunai’s instinctive backing away - and came to the window. The sun that shone over the city - and the city itself - were gone...shrouded in a deep black...like they didn’t exist.
“You know why it’s dark out there,” Tsorig stated moreso than asked, his attention remaining away from his son, who merely looked aside, “...this restaurant...this party...it’s your last island. Everything else melted away thanks to that slug...gone.”
The youngest of the two Tsorig sons hissed briefly as his father’s hand pulled his shoulder, but he shuts his mouth when their eyes meet.
“This is your last chance to come with me and move on...for your own good...my son, please...let go…” The silence that settles between them lasts for what feels like forever, before Tsorig speaks one last time. “...they’ll be okay without you.”
That struck a chord, deep in Qunai’s heart, and a shaky breath expelled itself from his lungs. Tears begin to well at the corners of his eyes and he quickly turns away, hiding it. He was going to die...everything he had done to prevent it...for naught...but he got to say goodbye. A quick rubbing at his eyes wiped the wetness away and he looks upward, at the doors leading to the party itself. His breathing settled...then he smiled…
“Last memory...hm?” He looks back towards the former Darth, who solemnly nods. Then, with a grin and a chuckle, Qunai just shrugs. “At least I saved the best for last!”
The Force-Sensitive turns, feeling the lack of his father’s presence, and grabs at Malikhai’s hand - the man a much better fit for the suit that shrouds his body - shaking it.
“About time you got here!”
“Sorry, I had to cover for my ever-busy little brother.” Khai smirks, and settles a simple black box into Qunai’s palm. “Exact specifications and everything...so...when are you going to ask?”
“When we get a chance alone...now...now it’s the right time.”
“Then, let me be the first to congratulate you on your engagement.”
“She has to say yes, you know…”
“And what, she’s actually going to say ‘no’? To you?” Khai chuckles and slaps at Qunai’s shoulder thrice. “Love doesn’t discriminate, Qu. This one...this is all you.”
“Come on, I promised Xyrna to help finish cooking.”
Khai drops his arm to his side and lightly bumps elbows with his half-brother, who merely grins wider and steps towards the glass doors. As they whirl open he gets assaulted with the typical, loud and engaging voices he had grown to love over the years. Everyone was there: the Krupp twins, the Altaros sisters, the Dragon’s shadow lover, the Thornes, and everyone in between, like Kearse, Ardenith, etcetera. He was quick to get hugs in whenever he could, Xyrna first before she got herself pulled away by Khai to finish what he had said. He settled himself beside his girlfriend, beside his kids, and time just melted away.
It felt like eternity, laughing and chatting and telling stories, catching up. His chest was warm, and his smile never left his face - he didn’t even feel the pain that came with it. Dinner came and went, then dessert came and went. He casts his gaze around the table, observing Fythan in a heated debate with Syleena over...what was that? Frogdogs and Rotworms? Oh by the Force...Khai actually idly chatting with the Krupps over how similar yet different the essentials for working on the power cell of a blaster and the power cell for a starship were. Gabe and Cirsei seemed to be bonding over parenthood...wait. He tried to pay it little mind during the feast but...darkness had grown around the room itself, and it steadily advanced. The walls were gone, tables and chairs missing, the kitchen melting away...Ardenith, Kearse...acquaintances, not friends, not family...gone. He gulps and shakes his head, and finds a comforting hand grabbing his. Iyo’tress’.
“Are you alright?”
“Just getting a little warm in here...hey, come with me. Let’s get some air.”
The Echani Forgemaster quirked a brow at him - a quirk she seemed to inherit from her mother, may she be resting well and in peace - but she rose with him anyway. A quick wave to the others made his heart jump...Thyssen, Gabe, and Kiki’s faces were slowly melting away.
Khai seemed to watch him with a sad, knowing expression.
He found himself out upon the balcony - was there supposed to be a shining moon overhead during this? - gripping Iyo’s hand in his as he leans his free arm against the rail. She stands in silence, and he can tell she caught on well before on why he wanted them to be alone. She was as intuitive as her species was revered as...if not moreso. It always caught him off guard how easy he was a read to her. Still, it felt almost mandatory for him to do it this way…
“Iyo…” He finally straightens up, gripping her hand in both of his. Her hands were still as soft as fallen snow, despite her time in the forges, her mistakes...that’s what made her so remarkable. Her eyes seemed to sparkle in the nonexistent light above. “...we’ve...we’ve been together for a long time...heh, feels like we’ve been even before we made it official…”
Was he blushing? Oh Force he was such a little boy. He sweeps his hand down, and the black box Khai had provided rises up, before he curls her fingers around it.
“Iyo’tress Kojhal...will you marry me?”
Her smile was radiance, and she paid the ring just but a glance - a crystal akin to frozen ice on a silver ring band - as she slid it onto her finger. His heart skipped a beat, her palm against his cheek and pulling him down. After the lip lock, her voice rose just barely above a whisper.
And his heart melted. His arms tightened around her smaller frame, every urge to keep her close to him overriding any other sense. He went back in for another kiss…
...and she was gone...he was holding nothing.
The invisible knife plunged itself up into his gut...and he dropped to his knees. His arms hugged his chest, teeth biting into his bottom lip, the tears threatening to come out.
The boy’s arms droop, and he barely raises his head. Tsorig, standing just a foot away, in the floating darkness that was his dead mind. The Darth’s eyes glisten - what, with pride? With tears? A mix of both? - as he tucks his chrono away. The Sith Lord extends his hand, but doesn’t move otherwise.
“...stay...or go? What’s it going to be?”
Qunai’s lips thin, his eyes harden, his hands tighten into fists…
...he knew his answer...