Summary: Dr. Toal tries up trying to get the truth of Anathema's devotion to the Dark Side, but just ends up confusing her. Emotions run hot.
Date: 14 Mar 2011
Related Logs: Welcome to Byss
Anathema Toal 
Regent's Chambers <Emperor's Citadel> - Byss
The main area of the chambers is open to the lift which leads to other areas of the Citadel. The foyer is filled with comfortable couches and lounges, a large holoscreen on one wall nearby. Hallways branch out to the left and right of the lift, leading to other areas of the suite. Against one wall is a bar filled with various liquors, part of the cabinet locked tight, another left unlocked. Sitting atop the bar are a variety of crystal glasses that sparkle in the light.
Current (~21 ABY)

The Regent's chambers are wide and open, and Anathema had ensured that her new 'guest' had a safe and comfortable place of his own to rest. The woman had come and gone, carrying out her business as necessary and allowing him whatever time he needs to adjust and grow accustomed to the new realm. There were a few books, as well as a holoterminal available for him to peruse.

At the moment, the Regent now sits in the main living area, taking a bit of time away from the Throne Room that sits a number of levels above. The outer cloak is hanging up, and the main breastplate of her armor is set aside, neither items required while in the security of her own chambers. She has a datapad in hand, fingers moving quietly over its surface.

The sound of someone rattling around in the nearby guest room adjacent to the master suite, followed by the smell of soemthing like incense. Likely Sholian, although that particular scent is likely unknown to Erah as he never burned it during his time in the Zhao. It's not a pervasive or offensive smell, but it certainly lingers on the nostrils.

Her head lifts slightly when she catches the scent, nose twitching only a hint as she looks around. The sounds in her chambers took some getting used to. The new smell? That's another new one. Anathema squints a bit and lifts one hand to rub her nose, glancing over towards the guest room to see if her roommate appears, or if he remains hidden away.

In fact, there comes a faint knock at the large double doors to the smaller suite, followed by them swishing open a crack. "My lady, are you about?" He calls, without stepping into view just yet. Apparently, Sholian has not lost his sense of social propriety in the past year, especially since it's absolutely necessary now that Erah has elevated to such a lofty position.

"I'm here, Sholian," she calls back to him, the datapad already set aside. "And you don't have to call me by title while we're in private, you know. It isn't like there's anyone around that's going to jump down your throat for it." Anathema leans back in her seat on the couch, folding her hands in front of her to rest them on her lap. "You have free roaming of this suite, as well. You don't have to worry about whether I'm here or not."

An exhale of air as the doors open fully, Sholian steps into view and into the room. Dressed just in slacks and a dark grey tank top, his hair is slightly in disarray and glistens damp as if he just showered; a hand towel is draped over his shoulder. He pads in barefoot. The smell of incense follows him into the room, a heady scent, most definitely Mirialan. "Sorry. I'm just not quite used to being in the employ of royalty. Nobles and high society, certainly, but never a regent. Better safe than sorry; after all, with a thought, you could make every fiber of my being explode violently with the Force, I'm sure." His freshly trimmed goatee twitches slightly as he smirks.

Anathema's eyes travel over him from head to toe as he steps into the room, eventually rising back up to focus her gaze on his own. The various scents of herbs and incense that surround him are something that she had nearly forgotten about. "I'm not a different person. Just have a different job," she points out to him, one hand lifting to gesture about the room. "Feel free to sit wherever you like. And making people explode is messy. Not really my thing." She returns the grin, hand resettling in her lap.

Toal takes up the hand towel and runs it over his scalp again, before taking a thick pillow off of one of the suite's couches, tosses it down on the ground near Erah's feet, and kneels upon it. His legs fold underneath him and he looks quite comfortable. Wordlessly, he glances up at her, smirk turning into a smile.

She watches him move without comment, expression calm. When he lowers himself to kneel by her feet, Anathema's head tilts slightly to one side, her expression almost quizzical. "Comfortable?" she asks, a single eyebrow lofting on her features. "I don't typically have people kneeling at my feet. Is there anything that I can get for you? Food or drink, perhaps?"

Shrugging lightly, Sholian states, "Those chairs are bad for posture. And yes, I'm quite comfortable. No, thank you." That last part, to her inquiry regarding refreshment. He continues to look amused, resting his hands on his knees. "And I find it interesting that you think I've chosen to 'kneel at your feet' as you suggest. Is it something you enjoy? A guilty pleasure?"

"You're doing just that," Anathema points out, eyebrows arching in a bit of surprise at his question. "You're kneeling. By my feet. It's not common." Fingers flex slightly in her lap before clasping together again. "It was nothing more than an observation, Sholian." She shifts a bit on the couch, legs crossing in front of her. "How are you finding your time here thus far? Are there any further questions I could answer for you?"

"You've made many of the answers to my questions quite available, thanks to the data terminal in my room," Sholian explains, nodding slightly to her. "There is a good amount of unsecured information detailing what's going on here. There's a fair amount that /is/ secured. If I /were/ to toss in with you, Erah -" Purposefully using her previous, not-Sith name. "- I'm wondering what the extent of my responsibilities would be. What I would have to do in exchange for living in your lap of luxury." Eyes crinkle in amusement to match his quirky grin, briefly trailing down to look at said lap, before peering back up at her.

For the moment, she makes no attempt to correct his choice of name. It's the one that he's familiar with, and in private… it makes no difference. Her lips quirk into a small grin at the mention of secured information, but she doesn't address it. "That partially depends on what you want to do. Do you want to study? Do you want to practice medicine? Research? There are infinite opportunities here on Byss," Anathema tells him. "If you wish to research, I can have a lab made available for you. If you wish to practice medicine, a clinic. Both are necessary."

The smile fades. "If I may insist, let's be serious, hmm?" Sholian's posture straightens somewhat as he uncrosses and re-crosses his feet underneath him. "Simple research, and medicine, would be a waste of your time, and a waste of my efforts. You no doubt have countless scholars and doctors under your employ. Quite simply, I'm not interested in the same deception that I experienced at Zhao."

"I'm not deceiving you," Anathema tells him with a light frown, arms lifting to fold loosely over her chest. "GenCy was once going to set up a clinic here, but pulled out because the CSA is filled with paranoid morons." Lips purse slightly and the Twi'lek woman breathes deeply, shaking her head slightly. "I provide people with opportunity. I don't force them into slave labor. What you wish to do, there will be a place for it. I know that you're a very skilled doctor, especially when things such as bacta are not available. Most of the clinicians that we have here are not so resourceful."

Her shift in language towards the informal and the emotional seems to please him. "There's the Erah I knew," he murmurs, chuckling. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to provoke you, but I needed to know certain things. And one of those things is that you truly have a need for my services and I'm not simply another cog in your Emperor's machine."

The Twi'lek woman breathes deeply as she eyes him, clearly in more control of herself than she once was. "No, you're not simply another cog in my 'Emperor's machine,' as you put it," she tells him, fingertips lightly drumming on her forearms as she stares at him. "I would not have extended the offer if I thought that you would be a waste of space or time, Sholian. I'm not in the habit of doing things just for the sake of doing them. I have too many other things to concern myself with."

"Such as?" Sholian asks, tilting his head to the side slightly. "Tell me. Help me understand. Clearly this is not a charity case, and you didn't just stick your hand out to me because you're a charitable soul."

"I am running a planet, Sholian," Anathema tells him, one hand lifting to gesture about. "Defenses, trade, industry… at some point, at least three-quarters of it comes through me." She rises up onto her feet, one hand lifting to rub at her forehead. "I need people that I can trust, people that I know. To place them in positions that are closer to me and my Master if we need that aid. Simply pulling doctors off the street? Dangerous endeavor."

"And that's quite literally how I came to be in your company," Sholian states, face still serious. He leans forward, unfolding his legs underneath him and rising to stand. Leaving the pillow where it is, he steps aside, moving beside Anathema and moving to place his hands lightly on her shoulders. "You trust me?" He inquires, murmured. "You didn't trust me when we were with Zhao. In fact, it took a considerable amount of careful work between us for you to even allow me to touch you, to treat you. You trust me? Prove it."

She doesn't flinch or shy away from his touch as his hands settle on her shoulders, the woman pursing her lips slightly as he states his desire for proof. "And how exactly am I supposed to do that?" Anathema asks, glancing over her shoulder towards him. "You have free reign of my private quarters, and I'm not wearing armor at the moment. That isn't proof enough for you?"

"You can no doubt choke the life out of me with but a thought. I'm no threat to you," the Mirialan murmurs, slowly turning her to face him, if she'll let him. "Your Master is no longer the Emperor, but no doubt he has grand designs. You are his apprentice, and naturally I'm sure he tells you only what you need to know. If there's any good that's going to come out of this… relationship -" Meaning his employment, here, most likely. Or maybe there's subtext? "- if I'm going to serve you, then you be transparent to me. You tell me everything." A pause. "I always suspected you were a Dark Jedi. Does it go deeper than that?"

The Twi'lek woman turns to face him as he moves her, her expression one of vague annoyance. "He tells me a great deal, but there are undoubtedly some things that I am not aware of," Anathema agrees, hands resting at her sides as she looks at him. As he states what it is that he wants, her frown deepens slightly. "I can't tell you everything. There are things that I don't tell to a great many people, Sholian. It isn't their place to know, it isn't any of their business, and it's simply safer if they don't. You're going to have to place some context in what exactly it is you're seeking, as far as information goes." His question causes her head to cant to one side. "Deeper than what? What do you mean?"

Sighing, the Mirialan's hands slip off her shoulders, falling to his sides. "Never mind. Clearly, I've made a mistake." He reaches down to take up the pillow from the floor and places it back on the couch where he found it. "I won't ask about things that don't concern me. I apologize, Regent."

One hand reaches out to catch his arm as he pulls away. "Don't walk away from me," Anathema says, her voice soft. "Not again. Please." She exhales slowly, withdrawing her hand to lightly rub the side of her neck. "You're asking me to reveal things that may not be safe for you to know. Things that I may be forbidden to speak of. I can't promise that I'll do that, because I am not in the habit of manipulating those that I respect." Fingers lift to lightly press against her eyes. "You'll also never get answers to your questions if you back away from them when I require clarification."

"It seems we've moved from one level of distrust and secrecy to another," he murmurs softly, without any edge or disrespect. "But you've answered my questions, in a roundabout way," he says, looking back to her. "You're involved in dangerous gambits, plots that you admittingly don't have a full understanding of. Things that you can't tell me…" He shakes his head. "You don't trust me. And yet, I have placed my unwavering trust in your hands." He takes her hands in his, bringing them together and giving them a warm squeeze. "Me, a mere mortal, without the Force, dim to the pulse of the galaxy. I must be so small in your world."

"Right now, I -don't- have secrets or things that require hiding," Anathema tells him, shaking her head at him. "In the future, I might. I don't have the ability to forsee things." Her fingers curl around his, holding snug. "It has nothing to do with trust. But I know that if something does come up, and I can't tell you about it, you're going to be hurt by it, and you're going to jump to the conclusion that I don't trust you. As you just did." She squints slightly, lekku shifting slightly against her back. "Small? Hardly. Everyone has a role to play."

"A role," Sholian repeats, shaking his head again. "Do you see? Can you even hear yourself? What role do I serve, then?" He does not remove his hands, and his tone is subdued. "Am I just your doctor? Or am I something else? How could I be that something else, when circumstances dictate you cannot trust me, even if you would want it?"

"Everyone -does- include me, Sholian," Anathema tells him, her facial expression falling. "I won't make you stay. I won't force that upon you if you don't want to be here. Just stop playing with me if you're going to leave." Her eyes blink slowly as she releases a steady breath, the Regent looking somewhat sad. "I want you here, Sholian. I want you here as my doctor, and I want you here as my friend. Beyond that? That seems to be in your hands, not mine. You seem to be set on a case of everything or nothing. I can tell you things that I'm not forbidden to reveal. Beyond that, I'm not able to make promises, unless you want empty ones."

Bringing her hands to his face, the Mirialan kisses the back of each in kind, and then releases them. "Then, as your friend, I will wait until you can tell me. As your doctor, I will care for you when you call." He's about to turn and walk back to his room, back to his heady incense, when he murmurs in passing, "But I would ask that you do not patronize me, and think me to be a fool. If I think you are harming yourself, either in your studies with your Master or pushing yourself too hard as Regent, I will tell you. And let us hope you maintain control of your anger."

(missing pose from Anathema here, d'oh)

"What are you becoming?!" Sholian snaps, whirling on her. He can register the emotions on her face, and perhaps that's precisely what he's been trying to get her to do - lose it. She can probably sense the fear on him despite the fact that he's doing his best to hide it. "I don't know who you are. You've changed into something else. You… look like Erah, but you're something else. Somebody else. Erah'lien had no secrets for me. She was always direct and told me exactly what she was thinking."

"I think you're being a naive and selfish little boy that is only thinking of what he can gain," she tells him, eyes narrowing as she steps towards him. Fear is certainly something that she can easily pick up on, and if it does anything at all, it simply fuels her. "I am the Regent of this world. I'm no longer the pawn that Zhao made me. I shed that role some time ago. Doing the bidding of a madman grew tiresome for me, and I grew. And I -flourished-." Her hands remain at her sides, visible and empty. "I have been abandoned by every single person that once claimed to care for me, and I am growing weary of these mindgames, Sholian."

"I am saying these things because I care," Sholian states, swallowing down his fear with a small gulp. He makes no attempt to hide that he is watching her entire figure, particularly her hands. He's waiting for the weapon to show up - and it could come flying across the room. "And for the first time since coming to Byss, I am seeing the Erah I knew. Angry. Spiteful. Ready to kill me if she just got a bit angrier." A beat. Then, his voice loses its edge, and shoulders slump a bit. "I'm here, Erah. Anathema, I don't care for. I care for Erah."

"You -want- me to be angry?" Anathema asks, blinking a few times. That's thrown her a bit off-balance, obviously. Thus far, there doesn't seem to be much flying across the room. "You -left- because I was angry! Because I was ready to kill you!" She blinks rapidly a few times, shaking her head in confusion and lifting her hands to once more press against her eyes, the woman beginning to pace a bit in the open room.

Toal freezes where he is, looking down at the floor, a hint of shame on his face. "When you are angry, you are honest with yourself. And you are honest with me," he murmurs. "And if I must have a hundred more of these," he says, lifting a hand to touch his face where her rage marred him. "If it means you are honest, then I will gladly take them."

"I'm honest when I'm not angry," she tells him, dropping her hands back to her sides and walking over towards him. "I'm just a lot more blunt when I'm angry." The Twi'lek woman squints at him, stuck between being enraged and horribly perplexed. "I've not spoken a single lie to you since you got here, Sholian. Not one. And to insinuate that I have is not only rude, but counterproductive." And a bit hurtful, though she'll never openly admit that one.

"I won't try and provoke you further. I'm sorry." He remains rooted where he is, still not looking towards her. "I'll… leave you to your evening, if that's what you desire."

Her hands lift to his face, one just beneath his chin while the other brushes against his cheek. "You're giving up again," Anathema tells him quietly. "Stop backing down. Stop pulling away from me. I shouldn't have to be completely enraged to get any kind of connection from you." Golden eyes study him quietly, much of her ire subdued for the moment. "I want to know you again. You just aren't letting me. You're holding me at arms' length."

"What do you suggest I do?" Sholian asks weakly, his resolve beginning to break down. His eyes close briefly at her touch, and his arms slowly snake around her waist, drawing her closer. "You have no idea how… unknowable… you are to me. Moth to the flame. Remember? And maybe, the only time the moth can truly understand is if he is immolated completely."

Her arms move from his face to drape loosely about his neck, the Twi'lek woman moving closer to him as his arms move about her waist. "I want you to listen to me. I will be saying things, but not necessarily in words. Especially in the public eye," Anathema tells him. "I will answer what questions I can for you. I will let you know me as best I can. But I don't know which part it is that is the most perplexing for you. I should hope that you don't need to be immolated completely, but I'm not going anywhere."

Toal sighs gently, and lowers his face to gently press his lips against her forehead. "I don't want to upset you. I've said too much," he murmurs. And then, a small, wry grin, as he pulls back, eyes searching her face. "Only partly immolated? Just a little singed, then."

Eyes close as his lips press against her forehead, fingers lightly brushing against his neck and face as he steps back. "Singed is better than completely engulfed in flames," she agrees quietly, nodding her head slowly. "Just… don't leave. I want you to be here, Sholian."

"If you want me to be here, then I will stay," Sholian asserts quietly, looking deeply into her eyes. "Just as long as there is still a part of you that does not belong to your Master, I will remain."

Her head tilts slightly and she gives him a somewhat confused look. "He's my teacher, Sholian. My mentor and my guide. He doesn't own me, he doesn't blindly dictate to me what I should do. I do question him when I feel that it should be done," Anathema tells him as her lekku move against her back. "I am a free person. I can go where I choose, and be with whom I like."

"For your sake, I hope and pray that it is true," Sholian says in response. He brushes fingertips against her cheek, but the contact ends quickly. "Good night, Erah." And with that, he takes a step towards the doors.

"Good night," Anathema says softly, watching him go as her hands return to her sides. She blinks her eyes slowly and sighs, turning to head back towards her own room.