The view of the stars slid across as they drifted, waiting for the updated research to be transmitted from the Temple so that they could jump back into hyperspace, aiming for their destination. In the cramped quarters of the ship, there was no real room to stretch and even meditating would require sitting either in the middle of the cockpit or blocking the hallway.
They talked, instead.
The conversation also drifted, Obi-Wan doing most of the talking, but not all of it. He told stories of his (almost) misspent youth, usually leaning towards funny stories so he might be granted a smile. Occasionally he gave into the wistfulness of nostalgia; he was only thirty-two, but sometimes he felt so much older.
He wasn’t sure how it happened – Maul was quiet at the best of times – but after he had told another story of how much trouble he almost got into by falling in love with Satine, he found himself listening to the tale of Kilindi Matako.
He remembered the name from Iloh, even though he had been drunk at the time.
He remembered his gratitude for her existence.
Maul wove the story together with a grace which mirrored his physical prowess, his low and quiet voice turning it into something almost like poetry. He didn’t always know the words he wanted, and sometimes he had to pause to work out how to explain the next part, but Obi-Wan listened raptly, and Maul painted the picture of this girl so well that for a moment, Obi-Wan could forget that she dies at the end of the story.
It was a tale which covered eight years, of a former slave girl who reached out to offer friendship to someone who had already been tormented into believing such things would only lead to suffering; at first a tale of that friendship, partnership, and then later a tale that would have likely become romance had it not been so brutally ended.
“I killed her,” Maul said at the end, looking off into some unknowable distance with brow furrowed. “She was the last left alive. I never even hesitated.”
His voice was level, but there was a note of aching bewilderment in it, as if he could not fathom why he would ever do such a thing; it was so quietly plaintive that it squeezed at the base of Obi-Wan’s throat and made his eyes sting on empathy alone.
“She tried to smile at me, at the end,” Maul said, and apparently that was all the more he could take, because after a long moment of looking off, he stood and vanished into the equally small rear compartment of the ship.
It was not exactly fast enough to constitute flight, but more than enough to indicate how much it had cost him to tell the story.
Obi-Wan debated with himself, rubbing the tears out of his own eyes calmly, then followed and spent the next two hours wrapped around Maul, tucked into the too-small space, first waiting out the tension and then waiting out the trembling, long after the Temple sent the new data packet that should have sent them on their way.