Ashi opened the door and stepped into the vast empty space of her new house.
It was quiet.
And it was empty.
She sat her bag down nearby the door, shut it, and confronted the empty space with a strange feeling of foreboding wrestling for place within her guts. She put a hand over it and wondered just where it came from.
This had been Zao’s house. Just to the left, over there, had been where she had meditated with the Chiss. Zao had asked for the opportunity to do it ‘Ashi’s way’, and set out the mats. And Ashi hadn’t known much. Just what Sandra and Althea had taught her about listening to the force. It hadn’t been terribly arcane; the force was all around, all the time. She reasoned it might be different for people without the force sense, but she couldn’t figure how - it sounded a lot like one’s own mind. The scattered thoughts, the errant feelings, the ache of your legs and the weight of your body on the ground.
Knowing yourself. Knowing what you thought about. Listening to the world impassively.
She trod the main hall over, and then peeked again into the empty side-rooms. The kitchen, the bath. Nothing set up yet. The bedroom was long, and warm, and stately, so Ashi unzipped the upper part of her bodysuit and wiggled out of it, letting it hang around her waist and sighing. Fashion came at a price for every twi’lek; this stuff wasn’t made to breathe. But Ashi didn’t want to feel naked anymore.
Still, alone, she felt like it was alright, so she tossed her bra over the nearby divider, the only thing that remained from the Chiss’s clearing out.
Ashi sat down on the barren place where a mat had been, and pulled her legs up, leaning on her arms as she tried to figure out why she was uneasy. Althea had been worried, and the worry was reasonable; Khan had kicked Zao out of this house, as soon as he had learned about her new employer. And, as fate would have it - and probably Sandra’s pursuasive attitude - now it was Ashi’s. All of it. Every room. Fresh paint, brand new flooring. Zao had lost it, presumably to the pursuit of power, and Ashi had gained it, just because she was Ashi, and people trusted her. Taryn trusted her, Sandra and Althea and Rit, who had made her a whole apartment full of furniture for almost nothing. They’d just given it to her. All that stuff Ashi knew Zao had probably wanted.
Althea had asked if it were wise to give her Zao’s old home, and wouldn’t it drive a deeper wedge?
Ashi wished it weren’t with all her heart and soul.
It made her feel absolutely wretched.
She hadn’t been able to explain it to Sandra. Not perfectly. Not well. Sandra knew better than she did anyway, about the Force, and about the way it worked on people. About how, if it needed you to go somewhere, it would put you there, and nevermind your feelings on the matter.
Taryn had told her normal people feared Jedi. But Taryn had trusted her, anyway, and he’d seemed almost apologetic when he said it. It had pulled on Ashi’s heart to have that trust, even though they’d barely known each other. It had stunned her that they’d looked to her, for guidance, even though she could barely manage to float a stuffed animal, let alone contend with Sith or even her own friends’ darkness.
Sandra had said, eventually, that Zao would fear her - hate her - even love her, if she became powerful herself. But Ashi didn’t want to move mountains, didn’t want to stretch out her hand and smite people flat, didn’t want Zao to hate her. She hadn’t asked for it, for any of it. She just wanted somewhere to belong, to keep having lessons with Sandra and learning about the Force and her place in it, and all the funny things Corsucant nobles thought about specific and unique wine glasses. Learning was fun. Shadowing the Shadow was thrilling. She even thought that maybe, just maybe, she could be a spy, or a Sentinel, or receive Sandra’s huge wealth of knowledge about it all.
But, nine whole years she’d been at other people’s mercy; Ashi had seen power, and she didn’t want to have it. Not that kind.
She didn’t want the universe, or Zao’s old house, like it was just an obvious right. She didn’t know what to do with any of these things, but how could she say that? How could she possibly explain, when she didn’t understand it herself, except that it twisted her bowels and made her want to cry? She had just wanted to help, in so visceral a term that even thinking about all of it, even the edge of it, suddenly threatened to tear her to pieces, because she just didn’t know how.
She gave up trying to hold it in. She did cry. Finally.
Ashi had held it in for what felt like ages, but alone in her new and empty house, with the faded ghost of its former occupant hovering over her shoulder, she buried her face in her knees and she cried like a yearling pup.