Characters/Pairing: Ventress/Obi-Wan (unrequited); Obi/Siri (implied)
Notes: A random little AU idea that popped into my head. Set sometime during the Clone Wars. Dark.
Summary: Asajj Ventress lays a trap for the object of her obsession.
“Victory” by noctaval
Asajj rolled her lightsaber between her hands, taking a strange comfort in the unaccustomed display of tension. Late afternoon sunlight rolled in across the dusty patchwork of the plains below the hill outpost, broken up by gathering bands of clouds.
She could just see the first of the Republic forces crossing the horizon; a pitifully small detachment, the peacekeeping unit thrust in to keep Separatist-leaning locals in line. Wouldn't do for this little breadbasket world to start sending its shipments exclusively to the Confederacy. Ventress pulled out her macrobinocs and leaned out over the railing, watching the enemy advance slowly across the grass like the fires her lookout post was once constructed to spot.
There were only a few clones --- perhaps thirty --- and they clustered tightly around a single Jedi General. No doubt she'd been sent to lend an official seal to the mission.
Ventress sneered. The assassin doubted the mindless clones, for all their combat indoctrination, really expected much of a fight from the scattered local rebels. Unfortunate, for them.
To her trained and informed eye, the concealed gun emplacements were painfully obvious; but without the advantage of height she had in the old fire tower, the recessed cannons became invisible in the grass, sunk flush into the ground.
It was quite likely the clones would be completely wiped out, considering the threescore battle-ready droids buried under the "freshly-tilled" soil that bordered the grassy wastes. Leaving her to face only the Jedi. That was perfectly good.
It was a plan, Asajj thought to herself, that Count Dooku would quite approve of. Most of it, anyway. She'd made a few...adjustments...to the initial battle plan. Now she would have to work quickly, before the next-nearest General came to warn his fellow Jedi of the trap that was being laid. She smiled, vulpine. She'd arranged everything perfectly, and it was not the trap they feared.
* * *
Just before sunset, the battle would be joined.
He'd be coming then. The always calm, unflappable Master Kenobi.
Stoic and unmovable. The perfect Jedi. He was everything she hated about their Order; aloof and uncaring, mouthing stale light-side platitudes with every appearance of earnest belief...even as his troops mowed down cities in the Republic's name. He revolted her.
But even when she cut him, hurt him, filleted him with knives and tormented him with poisons, he did not break. Not where it counted. Something she could not touch or feel sustained him; and he would not submit. She tortured and abused him, but she could not make him cry. She laughed at him --- ridiculed him --- attacked him mind and body, but he would not give. He only looked at her, watching with those clear steady eyes. Dark with pity and compassion. She wanted to gouge them out.
And yet he had allowed himself to be overtaken by the basest, the most worthless...
He would not bend his precious Code a fraction of a millimeter to save his own life, but Kenobi flouted its most central tenet to slake his lust.
The Order were blind to it, ignorant fools. She'd found more than enough information to link the scattered facts together.
The Jedi had taken a lover. She was sure of it. That hypocrite.
It was enough to drive her mad. Perhaps it already had, she thought, a laugh lodged in her throat. What she wouldn't give to break him. To prove to herself...
She needed this, needed to conquer him. She wanted Kenobi to hurt. She wanted him to feel.
Wanted him to know just a little of the rage and pain that drove her, empowered her. How she had suffered, through Jedi indifference! The agony of betrayal. The pain of defeat.
Then she would see if he could still face her with that blank Jedi mask unbroken.
* * *
Her crimson blades danced with a joy she'd not felt in ages. She was in rare form today, and the Jedi before her was beginning to falter. She could sense he was very near now...and her opponent must have too, because she hesitated almost imperceptibly. Asajj, however, did not hesitate, and with a savage thrust knocked the Jedi's arms high with her lead saber. As the enemy speederbike approached, her trailing saber ran the Jedi woman through just under the sternum, and when her adversary crumpled Ventress delivered the mercy stroke left-handed. Jedi Master Siri Tachi's head tumbled to the ground, rolling to a stop with sightless eyes wide and staring.
There was a tremendous surge in the force, an almost audible roar of grief and power. Kenobi leapt from his bike with lightsaber ignited, landing in a blur of stooping cloth like a bird of prey. His jaw was clenched with barely contained fury and his changeable eyes glinted, hard as durasteel. With an ungraceful jerk he spun to face her, tensed and ready for battle, his saber twitching in anticipation.
Ready for a fight she would not give him.
"I surrender," she called gaily. "I surrender." Asajj threw her sabers into the grass and bowed her head as if in defeat or supplication.
She sensed his confusion and hid her smile in the shadows of her lowered face, waiting and savoring the moment as Kenobi struggled to gather the scraps of his legendary poise around him, to cloak his pain. His human, animal anguish. Robbed of even the fleeting release of battle.
She imagined that his hands might be shaking, as his lightsaber deactivated with an impotent hiss. For a long moment she heard only the faint sound of the grass rustling dryly. Rain began to roll in, a few drops pricking the soil to follow the bitter wind that had stripped their battleground.
The Jedi stirred, and there was a metallic, sliding rasp as Kenobi picked up her fallen lightsaber and quietly clipped it to his belt.
The sound of his robes rustling as he paced to her side was musical. Asajj trembled as he approached, surprised to find she was totally devoid of fear. A dull clunk overrode the rising patter of the rain as Kenobi fetched a pair of binders from his belt and knelt cautiously at her side.
She kept her eyes down, sensing his regard. She'd planned to say...something, to twist the knife, but found herself oddly mute, brimming with elation. She couldn't even gloat. Asajj shook with excitement. She recaptured a distant memory of her childhood: waking up early and knowing it was her Nameday morning, anticipating a surprise with childlike joy and knowing that today held a special gift just for her. Finally. I win.
He clipped the binders about her wrists with a practiced hand, his rough fingers warm against her wrist. He was professional, detached, and she was sure he'd cuffed a thousand miscreants with that same stoic aplomb. Only his emotions in the Force betrayed him. Given time, she was sure he'd be able to erase those, too.
Some distant animal made a coughing growl, and over the sound of wind and rain the hum of engines could now be heard. His reinforcements were arriving. And they would find him here, with his Sith captive. Another triumph to fuel his legend. The clones practically worshipped their General in a way Asajj envied. It was sad that such a mighty warrior was forced to humble himself in servitude to the corrupt Republic, when his troops would doubtless follow him into Hell itself. He was not born to follow, she thought...
Should she escape? Or allow herself to be taken in? She hadn't thought that far yet. With a flare of dark amusement she acknowledged that there had been very little "thought" involved in planning this engagement. Somehow, she couldn't bring herself to regret any of it.
Another faint shuffle of cloth, as Kenobi, she supposed, turned to sight his returning troops. The orange light glittering off the helmed heads of his soldiers as they raced in to support him. She pictured him gazing distantly at the horizon, the setting sun, as her eyes focused only on the sandy ground. A faint shadow of a smile turned the corners of her lips upward. Looking out at the picturesque sunset, past his dead lover's head---
A flaming lance of pain shot through her heart, and she spasmed. Eyes wide, she looked up in shock to see Kenobi standing slowly, deactivating his lightsaber. Finding herself prone, unknown moments later, her hand crept up her chest, crawling up under her left breast into the rough-edged, smoking hole.
She pulled her face out of the dirt with a wet cough that spattered the ground with blood and clouded her eyes. Her fingers clawed uselessly at the sandy soil before falling still as her strength began to drain away.
She turned her head to see him standing, silhouetted against the western sky.
His face was blank, serene. The Jedi mask was still in place.
But his eyes--- his eyes---
Ventress breathed out with a smile, her last thought of Kenobi.
Of her victory.