Soontir Fel practically roared as he felt the ice cold water dumped on top of his head. It took a moment to shake the water from his light brown hair before he turned flashing green eyes to the culprit responsible. "And what was that for?" he growled to the only woman that could wrangle that sort of reaction from him.
"You were concentrating too much," Padmè Durron said with a sly grin reminiscent of her father's. While the beautiful woman was the spitting image of her mother in the face, she had her father's mischievous nature, smile and hair.
"So that gives you the right to pour ice cold water onto my head?" Soontir asked rising. Padmè began to step backwards as he advanced on her.
"Oh I think I have quite a few rights where you are concerned," Padmè said with a giggle.
"That so?" Soontir questioned. Without warning he took off after her. With a squeal and a laugh, Padmè ran from the courtyard where they had been and out onto the grass that surrounded the lake retreat that was her family's home.
Padmè laughed harder as Soontir caught her and the two whirled around, finding themselves on the ground. Soontir smiled down at her as he leaned up on an elbow, reaching out his fingers to gently brush her hair from her cheeks. Padmè watched him, blinking brown eyes at him.
"You are so beautiful," Soontir said softly.
Padmè smiled. "I love you," she said softly.
Soontir leaned down and brushed her lips. "Good thing you are marrying me then huh?" he asked with a sly grin.
"Mmm," Padmè said then smiled. "Mama and Aunt Tahiri are having a lot of fun planning our wedding."
"Mom made mention that she and Dad never got a proper wedding due to the aftermath of the war," Soontir said. "So she wants our wedding to be spectacular."
"It will be," Padmè said, stroking his cheeks. "Zeth is still waiting to see if you are going to ask him to be your best man or if you are going to ask Valin."
Soontir raised his eyebrow. "Well, have you asked Cassa or are you going to ask Teneniel?" he asked.
Padmè grimaced. "Good point," she murmured. Zeth Durron was one of her older brothers by three years. He had an identical twin named Blaine. Soontir, Zeth and Blaine were the best of friends, had been since they were babies together, and Soontir had to choose who he was going to have as his best man. Blaine had stepped back, not even sure if he was going to be able to attend his sister's wedding due to his responsibilities to Twin Suns Squadron.
In Padmè's case, she had to choose between her best friend and her cousin. Cassa Fel was her best friend by far. They were the same age and had grown up together, often being the only ones to support each other from their older brothers, at least till their younger siblings came along and were able to divert some of the older boys attentions. Teneniel Solo was Padmè's Uncle Jacen and Aunt Tenel Ka's daughter, and the heiress to the Hapan Throne. She was not the oldest girl, but her older sister , T'cha's, was very much her mother's daughter. She was a true Dathomiri warrior and had been since she was young. Teneniel was more like her grandmother, Leia Organa-Solo, she was a diplomat and took pleasure in the idea of being the future queen. Padmè wasn't sure which of the two girls she wanted to stand beside her when she married Soontir.
"You know, we do still have some time before we have to make that decision," Soontir said, breaking into her thoughts.
Padmè smiled. "I know," she said. Soontir leaned down and pressed a kiss to her lips, lingering there as long as he could.
"Soontir! Padmè!" Tryst Fel called. "Mom and Aunt Jaina said it's time for dinner!"
Padmè sighed and kissed Soontir. "Go on," she said. "I'll be there in a minute."
Soontir glanced up and frowned, realizing that they were near the grave marker. He always shuddered when he was near it, feeling as if he was walking on his own grave. "Why do you insist on being near the unknown grave so much?" he asked.
Padmè let him pull her to her feet. "I just feel connected to it," she said with a shrug. "I won't be long, Soontir. Go on."
Soontir sighed and kissed her forehead. "All right," he said. "I'll meet you inside."
Padmè walked over to the grave marker, wondering not for the first time who lay beneath it. The only words on the marker were Oskio Preskania Fracio. She knew that it was a Nubian saying, but she hadn't been able to find the opportunity to find out what it stood for. "Who are you?" she wondered allowed. She glanced once more at the marker and headed to the house.
"You okay?" Jagged Fel asked as he walked up to his wife, slipping his arms around her.
Tahiri Veila-Fel leaned back into her husband's arms. She had gone to their room to freshen up when she had glanced out the window and had seen Padmè standing in front of the grave again. "It's coming soon," she murmured.
"I know," Jag said with a sad sigh. "We've always known it would."
"I know," Tahiri murmured. She leaned her head against Jag's as he leaned his chin on her shoulder. "I had just hoped that… I don't know. That things could be different and that it wouldn't happen."
Jag placed a gentle kiss to her temple. "You know it has to, as much as it pains us," he said.
Tahiri turned in his arms, tears on her cheeks. "I know," she said. A sob escaped her throat. "But I don't want it to." Jag hugged his wife close, his own heart breaking at her sobs, and knowing that soon the inevitable would come.
Jaina Solo-Durron peeked her head into Tahiri and Jag's room after knocking. She noticed the couple curled against one another on the bed. A light blanket was draped over Tahiri as she slept snuggled against her husband. Jag's eyes had been on her as he gently rubbed her arm. He glanced up at Jaina as she walked in.
"Hey," Jaina said with a soft smile.
"Hey," Jag returned.
"Everything okay?" Jaina asked quietly as she walked over.
"Padmè was by the grave again," Jag said. "Tahiri saw her."
Jaina bit her lip and sighed. "The time is coming so soon," Jaina murmured. "I've been tempted to keep Padmè occupied when it happens, but if I do that things would change."
"The future affects the past," Jag murmured. He sighed and looked at Tahiri. "I just can't stand seeing her in pain. Especially knowing there is nothing she or I can do to stop it."
Jaina felt her husband's presence before Kyp Durron walked into the room after a soft knock on the door. Despite being in his sixties, Kyp's appearance was still youthful despite the fact that when he and Jaina had married he had looked older. Jag said that marriage and fatherhood had given him a more youthful appearance because it allowed him to be a kid again and live life without the guilt of past mistakes. Jaina had confided in Jag that her husband's past would always haunt him, but the moment he had held Zeth than Blaine in his arms after their birth that his outlook on life had changed a great deal.
"Tahiri okay?" Kyp asked softly, his arms coming around Jaina, cradling her to him.
"Padmè was by the grave again," Jaina said sadly. Kyp frowned.
"How can we face it again?" Tahiri asked softly from where she lay. Jag looked down concerned, not realizing she had been awake. "How can we face our child's death again?"
Jag pressed a kiss to her hair. "We've always known it would happen," he murmured.
"It doesn't make it easier," Tahiri said, wiping the tears away. "The day he was born was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, but we were too sad because we knew what the future held for him."
"We got through it then, we'll get through it now," Jag said. Kyp tightened his hold on Jaina as Tahiri began to sob.
Padmè walked into the dining room and frowned, glancing around. "Where's Mama and Daddy?" she asked her younger brother, Damon.
Damon looked up from where he was feeding the youngest Durron child, Sola. Sola was trying to reach for the ceiling, not bothering to heed to her brother wanting to feed her. The two year old was too busy with other things. "Aunt Tahiri wasn't feeling well, I guess," he said. "So they went up to see how she was."
"Is the baby making her sick?" Padmè asked with a frown. She took a napkin and wiped Sola's mouth, the little girl grinning up at her, and lifting her pudgy arms.
"I don't know, Mom and Dad didn't say," Damon said. The thirteen year old stood and pushed his chair in. "I hope we get to spend some time with them though, Krista, Tryst, Cherith and I have to head back to the Jedi academy in a couple days." Krista was Padmè's 17-year-old sister. Cherith was Damon's age, and her brother Tryst was the same age as Krista. Padmè smiled thinking of them all. Cherith had a crush on Damon, seeming to follow in the footsteps of her brother being in love with Padmè. Krista and Tryst were the best of friends, but Padmè wouldn't be surprised if they were more than just friends.
"I'm sure we'll spend time with them," Padmè said. "Aunt Tahiri and Uncle Jag wouldn't want to not spend time with Tryst and Cherith. There are so few times when they can spend any time with them since they don't get to visit that often." She lifted Sola into her arms and nuzzled against her dark hair.
"Aunt Tahiri and Uncle Jag are going to join us in a minute," Jaina said as she walked into the dining room. She smiled at her eldest daughter holding her youngest. She took Sola into her arms, placing a kiss to her temple. "So let's all sit down."
"I can hear the wheels turning, love," Kyp said as he stroked Jaina's hair. They laid together in bed, listening to how quiet the house was at night compared to during the day.
"I'm just worried about Tahiri," Jaina murmured. "That this will cause so much stress and something will happen to the baby."
"Do you remember what happened at all?" Kyp asked. "I mean how Padmè…"
"No, you found her remember?" Jaina said, leaning up to look at him.
Kyp chuckled. "That's right," he said. He ran a finger down her cheek. "I thought it was you. Then finding out it wasn't, then the shock of being told that it was our daughter, and you were practically engaged to Jag at the time."
"That definitely put a permanent hold on our relationship," Jaina said. She smiled. "But I'm glad. Though it was surprising when Soontir came and he was Jag and Tahiri's son. I don't know who was more shocked of the two."
"I think Jag," Kyp said laughing a bit. "The look on his face was priceless."
Jaina smiled then it fell from her face. "I just wish they could have been happy after they married and became pregnant with Soontir," she said.
"Yeah," Kyp agreed. "I know." The two fell silent and soon they both fell asleep.
Padmè dodged and weaved her way around the obstacle course presented to her. Lando's Folly had been reconstructed after they had made Naboo their new home. Naboo managed to receive little to no damage in the Yuuzhan Vong war that had been fought for almost six years and had ended twenty six years previously. Before any of them had been born, something she remembered hearing her mother say she was glad for when they had celebrated the 20th anniversary of the end of the war. She had never wanted any of the children to experience the war and grow up far faster then they needed to like they had. Padmè's mother had been younger than she was when she flew in battle for the first time.
"Nice maneuvers, Little Bit," a deep male voice said over Padmè's com link.
A smile blossomed across her face. "Blaine!" she said excitedly. "I thought you couldn't get any leave time?"
Blaine Durron had to smile at his sister's enthusiasm. "Twin Suns was station on Naboo, so I took the opportunity to come see my family only to learn my little sister was flying the Folly," he said.
"Not so little anymore, Blaine," Soontir said as he flew nearby. "Your sister could probably match you."
"If she flies anything like our mother does, I wouldn't doubt it," Blaine said with a grin. "Good to hear your voice again Soontir."
"Same with you, Blaine," Soontir said. "Glad you could come for a visit, even if it is on duty."
"All ways the one for duty, that's Blaine," Zeth Durron's voice piped up as he steadied his X-wing near Soontir's as they prepared to enter the Folly.
Blaine chuckled then frowned when he noticed a disturbance both through the Force and on his schematics screen. "Padmè, I think…" but he wasn't able to finish his sentence. He looked up with a shock as a bright light slashed into the Folly and it spiraled.
"What in the world is that?" Zeth asked astonishment obvious in his voice.
"Padmè get out of there!" Soontir said in a panicked tone. Everything happened far too fast for the three men to register it. The spiral of light widened and hit forced a few of the asteroids in the opposite direction of where they were headed. It seemed like an eternity as they watched one spiral and slam into the starboard wing of Padmè's X-wing and she began spinning out of control. She seemed to lurch forward, and suddenly she was moving in the direction of the light as if being pulled.
"Padmè throttle it!" Blaine called to his sister, desperation in his voice.
"I… Bla… Soon…. NO!" Padmè's scream filled the cockpits of the three men and soon it was silenced as her fighter was pulled into the swirling light. None of them could feel her presence through the Force.
"Padmè!" Soontir screamed. He put in a few coordinates and flew towards the light, disappearing before Blaine or Zeth could protest. Suddenly there were two.
"Soontir! Dammit!" Blaine said.
"I have to follow them!" Zeth said.
"You have no way of knowing where they went!" Blaine said. "And if you think I am letting you go alone, you better think again."
"Blaine, listen to me," Zeth said. "You are the thinker, you need to get back to the house and tell mom and dad what happened, start planning the rescue. I'm the impulsive one, I'll find them and try to find a way to get word back to you."
"Zeth, I…" Blaine said, feeling pain slam into him at Zeth's words. The last thing he needed right now was a reminder of his shortcomings where he felt he lacked in his father's eyes. Impulsiveness had never been Blaine at all. Zeth held that honor. Blaine was reminded every day by just looking at him that Zeth was their father's son, and he fell amazingly short.
"Don't argue with me Blaine!" Zeth said. He took a deep breath. "May the Force be with you." And he was gone into the light after Padmè and Soontir.
"And you," Blaine said. With reluctance, he turned his ship towards Naboo and headed to deliver the bad news.
Alarms were sounding in the hangar bay, because for once in his life, Blaine refused to follow protocol and had just landed instead of getting clearance. Palace security was heading towards him, but he had called to his parents through the Force, and hot on the heels of the security team were the Solos, Skywalkers, Durrons and Fels.
"Colonel Durron, I must protest…" the security chief started.
"Something's happened in the Folly. Padmè, Soontir and Zeth are gone," Blaine said, his helmet off, his dark hair falling carelessly across his forehead. He noticed Tahiri closed her eyes and Jag's arm come around her.
"So it's happened," Jaina murmured, glancing up at Kyp.
"What's happened?" Blaine asked his mother.
"It would appear so," Kyp said sadly.
"What has happened?" Blaine asked again.
"Tahiri…" Jaina started.
"No!" Blaine bellowed. "I want to know what has happened and I want to know now!"
Kyp glanced at his son and sighed, looking at Jaina. "Let's meet at the lake house," he said. Jaina nodded.
The families were silent, tears running down a few cheeks here and there at the implication of what it meant that Padmè, Soontir and Zeth were gone. Jag held Tahiri close to him knowing what toll this was taking on her. He pressed a kiss to her head as the transport came to a halt at the entrance to the lake house the Durrons had claimed as their own. They all walked to the large drawing room and settled into seats, except Blaine. He remained standing almost at attention.
"Blaine, please relax and sit with us," Jaina said pleadingly to her son.
"I want to know what is going on," Blaine said, feeling anger at his mother for the first time.
"Don't take that tone with your mother," Kyp said warningly. Blaine clamped his jaw shut so as not to say anything harshly to his father, or his mother.
"Kyp, don't take this out on Blaine," Tahiri said wearily, looking far older than she should.
"Mama, what's going on?" Cassa asked, taking some pressure from the harsh glares that Kyp and Blaine were exchanging.
"This is something we have been preparing for since… well since before any of you were born," Jag said, looking around. Zekk and Danni Quee both sighed, sitting with their four children. The Quee family had joined the Durrons at their home, and Jaina had called for her childhood friend and his wife to come down.
"Soontir, Padmè and Zeth are in the past," Jag said.
"What?" Blaine said in disbelief amidst the murmurs from his siblings and friends.
"The past," Kyp said. "Twenty six years to be exact, almost twenty seven years."
"During the Yuuzhan Vong war?" Tryst said. "But how?"
"That's not important," Kyp said.
"The sith it isn't," Blaine said. "If you think that I am going to sit here and let my sister, brother and best friend be stuck in the past, you are sadly mistaken."
"Do not think you know what you are talking about, Blaine, when you don't," Kyp said, his tone warning again.
"Then knowing how they got there is what we need to know!" Blaine said, throwing his helmet aside. Kyp was in front of his son, his eyes flashing a warning again.
"You will calm yourself," Kyp said through gritted teeth. "I will not tolerate you upsetting your mother or the rest of your brothers and sisters. And I will surely not let you upset Tahiri either."
Blaine's jaw tensed even more. "Fine," he said through clenched teeth. He spun on his heel. He shook Cassa's hand off when she tried to keep him from walking away. Jaina watched her son walk away, her heart breaking more. She glanced at Kyp and bit her lip watching the rift between father and son that had been building for so long spilt even further apart. She glanced over at her own mother and Leia Organa-Solo nodded. Leia rose and headed off to find her grandson.
Padmè groaned as her X-wing finally landed. Her vision was blurry and she couldn't tell where she was. She did hear alarms and wondered what had happened to sound them. There were few times when she had heard them being tested, but these were different somehow. She opened the canopy of her X-wing and she fumbled for the edge.
Kyp was one of the many to come into the hangar when the unidentified X-wing was pulled in with a tractor beam. Its systems were damaged and there was quite of bit of hull damage. He stood beside Corran Horn, who had started to show some respect towards him, especially when Kyp had been essential in saving Valin Horn's life. "Any idea who it is?" Kyp asked.
"None," Corran said. He gave the Jedi Master a bit of a grin. "Hence the unidentified mark."
"Smart," Kyp said with a sarcastic grin. A frown crossed his features when he saw the small figure trying to climb out. A gasp escaped him when the woman lifted her slightly battered face. "Jaina?" Feeling the shift in the Force as she passed out, he used the Force to enhance his speed. He caught the woman in his arms before she hit the durasteel ground below.
Padmè felt her body jolt and her eyes opened slight to glance up into the youthful looks of her father… or was it her brother? She glanced into his eyes and knew it was her father. "Daddy?" she questioned before passing out again.
Corran raised his eyebrow at Kyp. "That's interesting," he said.
"Come on, let's get her to the medbay," Kyp said, lifting Padmè into his arms and hurrying from the hangar.
Soontir had his blaster pulled as he dodged away from the doorway. He noticed Zeth nearby and ran over to him, whispering harshly at him. Zeth nodded, reassuring the other man that he had seen him. They were trying to avoid the security that was flooding the area where they had landed their X-wings, at least until they found Padmè.
Can you sense her? Zeth asked.
Barely, she's injured. Soontir said.
Her location? Zeth asked, reaching out with the Force trying to locate his sister.
She's surrounded by a group of people, and she seems to be in some sort of medical facility, Soontir said.
That's where we go then. Zeth said. The two men made their way down the halls, reaching out with the Force to find their way to where Padmè was. They were determined to find her, and it didn't matter how they did it.
"I could have sworn it was Jaina till she looked at Kyp and called him Daddy," Corran said to Luke Skywalker as they waited for news on Padmè.
"Daddy?" Han Solo questioned. He cast a glance to Kyp. "Never thought I'd here that, least of all from someone that looks like Jaina."
"What Horn forgot to mention was it also took seeing Jaina here with us to make us realize that this girl wasn't her," Kyp said, ignoring Han's comment.
Leia looked as Cilghal walked into the room, looking as confused as one could tell a Mon Calamarian could look. "Cilghal?" she asked. "Is the girl all right?"
"She will be, she has some cuts and bruises, a mild concussion, but no serious injuries other than that," Cilghal said. "I took some blood samples to make sure she was not a Yuuzhan Vong implant of any sort and that there were no major blood anomalies of any sort. And instead I found something very interesting."
"What's that?" Jag asked from where he stood beside Jaina, his hand against the small of her back very lightly and inconspicuously, though many knew of their supposedly secret relationship.
Cilghal cleared her throat slightly. "Biologically her DNA is a perfect combination of both Kyp Durron and Jaina Solo," she said. She looked at the shocked faces of Kyp and Jaina. "Master Durron, Colonel Solo, this young woman is your daughter."
"Hold it right there," a familiar voice said from behind Zeth and Soontir. The two men stood slowly and turned. Soontir felt his heart pound. Standing in front of him was his namesake and his grandfather.
Soontir Fel Sr. was taken aback at the sight before him. The knowledge alone that Kyp and his son were both in the medical ward seeing to the young woman that had arrived unidentified kept him from thinking either man was in front of him. But looking at Soontir he was able to tell it wasn't Jag. His hair was lighter, he was taller and a bit stockier, and there was no scar marring his face above his eye to his hairline. That and his features seem to match a certain blonde woman's that surprised Soontir. Seeing features similar to the young woman named Tahiri was something he couldn't explain. He shook his head. "Come with me," he said, nodding to the direction of the medical ward.
"What do you mean their daughter?" Han said, his face flushing a bit with suppressed emotion. "Number one, she is probably as old as Jaina is, and two, Jaina and Kyp aren't well…" He looked at the couple. "You aren't are you?"
"No," both of them said in a dull tone, shock still apparent on their faces. Luke watched the pair and would have laughed if not for the severity of the implication. Besides, their looks didn't compare to the look on Jag's face. His face was contorted in an odd way, his nose wrinkled ever so slightly as if he were in deep thought. Two red splotches had appeared on his cheeks and he looked ready to burst.
"Perhaps they can shed some light on this subject," Soontir Sr. said as he nudged Soontir and Zeth into the room. They turned to the door, a gasp escaping some throats.
Soontir looked and stepped forward when he saw where Padmè lay, but was stopped by one of the security officers nearby. He glared at them, but was stilled by a hand on his arm that belonged to Zeth who subtly shook his head at the older boy. Despite the fact that Zeth was the impulsive twin, he often times had a more level head then Soontir did. Especially when it came to Padmè.
"Smart move," Han said, stepping in front of the two men. Wedge Antilles walked over with Cal Omas and stood in front of them. "Who are you?" Han said.
Soontir stiffened his jaw. Zeth raised an eyebrow. "You probably wouldn't believe us if we told you," he said.
"Try us," Kyp said. "We're in a pretty believing the unbelievable mood."
"He sounds like your brother," Soontir murmured to Zeth without looking.
"Figures," Zeth said with a grin. A moan caught both of their attentions.
Soontir made to sprint for Padmè on instinct but he was jabbed in the stomach with a blaster from the security team. "Please," he said pleadingly to his great uncle.
"Tell us who you are," Cal said. Soontir felt his anger rising and he got itchy, beginning to fidget.
"My name is Zeth Durron, this is Soontir Fel," Zeth said. He looked over to the bed where his sister lay. "That's my sister Padmè."
"Sister," Jaina whispered. She glanced at Kyp, noticing how much the younger man looked like Kyp. If the girl was their daughter and this man's sister, it meant that he was their son as well.
Zeth looked at Jaina. He swallowed hard. "I don't know where we are, when we are, or why we are here, but Mom, please, let us see Padmè," he said imploringly to her.
Jaina stumbled back against Jag, whose startled arms came around her. "Mom?" she whispered, trembling.
Zeth frowned, but remembered that Jag and Jaina had once been involved romantically. Had things been different, he and Soontir would be brothers instead of best friends. Maybe. Things would have been incredibly different had the Solo family and the Fel family joined in a different way then they were now. Padmè moaned again.
Soontir groaned, needing to get to her. "Please!" he said, his eyes flashing.
"And who are you to her? If this," Cal said nodding to Zeth. "Is her brother, who are you?"
Soontir looked at him, a pained expression on his face. "Her fiancé," he said. Many were too stunned to stop both men from walking past and over to Padmè. Soontir's arm was caught finally and he looked up into his grandfather's eyes. Soontir looked at Zeth. "Make sure she is okay," he said.
Zeth nodded and stepped up to his sister. Cilghal moved to hover over her patient, stunned still herself, but her instincts as a healer kicking in, on the off chance this was a trick. Zeth brushed Padmè's dark hair from her forehead. "Wake up, Little Bit," he said softly, using the nickname he and Blaine had coined when she had been a baby.
Padmè's eyes cracked open, a bit glazed from the drugs in her system that was helping with relaxing her body. "Zethy?" she whispered.
"I'm here, Little Bit," Zeth said. "How you feeling?"
"Like bantha poodoo," she mumbled.
"You look it too," Zeth said with a teasing grin.
"Shut up," Padmè said with a pained laugh. "Where…?"
"Not sure, but I think we are in the past," Zeth said with a frown. "Soontir and I followed you into the light and we ended up here. Blaine went to tell mom and dad."
"Bet he loved that," Padmè said with a groan. "How far in the past?"
"Looks like during the Yuuzhan Vong war," Zeth said. "Looks like it's before mom and dad got together. Seems like Uncle Jag and mom are still dating."
"Ew," Padmè said with a wrinkled nose.
"Which part? The thought of mom and dad dating or Uncle Jag and mom dating?" Zeth asked.
"A little of both, but mostly the idea of Uncle Jag and mom. I just can't really envision him with anyone else but Aunt Tahiri," Padmè said.
"Don't think Soontir could either, but he's taking it in stride," Zeth said. He bit his lip.
"What is it? Is Soontir okay?" Padmè asked.
"Yeah," Zeth said. "He's fine. But he's talking to his grandfather right now."
Padmè's eyes widened. "He's…" she started. Tears formed and spilled onto her cheeks. "He always did want to meet the man he was named for."
Leia knocked softly on Blaine's door. When she received no answer she walked in and found him looking out the window that overlooked the lake around the house. He had changed from his flight suit and had obviously showered; his dark hair was still damp. He wore loose fitting trousers and a white shirt that wasn't tucked in. He looked so much like his father, with a hint of his grandfather. He gave a roguish air off of him as he stood with one hand propped against the window edge.
"I remember the day you were born as if it were yesterday," Leia said as she stepped into the room.
"You mean the day of disappointment?" Blaine asked, hurt apparent in his voice.
"If that were true, then it would have been a day of disappointment when your mother was born too," Leia said stepping into the room.
Blaine turned and looked at his grandmother. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"This rift growing between your father and you," Leia said as she sat on the edge of his bed. "It's similar to one that grew between your mother and I during the war."
"But you and mom are so close," Blaine said.
"Mmm, that we are, but it took a lot of admitting I was wrong, that she was wrong, and almost losing each other for us to realize that we could be so close," Leia said. "The wounds between us officially healed the day you and Zeth were born."
"That's just it, Grandma," Blaine said as he walked over. "This isn't a normal rift. This is me not living up to Dad's standards. Zeth holds that."
"Sweetie, that's not true," Leia said.
"She's right," Jaina said from the door.
"Mom don't," Blaine said, almost pained. "You keep sticking up for dad and what not, but the simple matter is, is that I am the son that should never have been born."
"Blaine Anakin Durron, I don't ever want to hear you say those words again," Jaina said so fiercely, tears in her eyes.
"Mom…" Blaine started.
"No!" Jaina snapped. "You listen to me and you listen to me well. Your father loves you; he always has, often times at risk to his love for Zeth. You will never have any idea how proud of you he is. How much your accomplishments mean. He sees himself in you more than he ever could in Zeth. You may think that Zeth is more like your father, but that is because so few know what your father truly wanted for himself before destiny was so cruel. He is living through your eyes because you are accomplishing all the things he ever wanted, and without even half of the pain."
"Then why does he butt heads against me so much?" Blaine demanded. "Why does he insist on challenging me, making me feel as if I'm not good enough for this family?"
"I don't know the answer to that, Blaine," Jaina said. "At least why he butts heads with you. But you are good enough for this family and always will be. The other answers you are eventually going to have to get from your father." She turned on her heel and left the room, her eyes blazing as she went in search of her husband.
"I didn't mean to upset her, Grandma, I didn't know she was coming too," Blaine said softly after awhile.
"Come sit with me," Leia said, opening her arms for him. Leia loved all of her grandchildren equally as much, but she had to admit that Blaine and her little Sola held a special place in her heart. She watched everyday as he grew up how much Blaine suffered with the inner struggle that he thought he wasn't living up to what his father wanted. Blaine idolized Kyp, always had. Of the boys, Blaine wanted to be his father the most, and he felt he was falling short.
Blaine walked over and sat beside his grandmother. "I lied, Grandma," he said softly.
"Lied, baby?" Leia asked taking his hand.
Blaine nodded. "When I told Padmè I didn't know if I could get the time off to come to her wedding to Soontir," he said. "I lied. I'm a Durron and have the Solo and Skywalker blood running through me, they'd give me anything I want if I asked, especially since I lead Twin Suns." He looked at Leia. "I didn't want to come home and see Dad or anyone else fluttering over the other boys, over Soontir, making me feel yet again like I didn't belong."
"Oh honey," Leia said, her heart aching for her grandson's pain. There were times when he had always come to sit with her, visit her, but he never spoke of what brought him to her side. This was the first time, and to hear the pain in his voice was almost too much to take. She said nothing, but she did wrap her arms around her grandson, holding him to her as he shuddered a bit.
Jaina slammed her bedroom door shut, startling Kyp to jump as he turned. "Damn you to hell," she said through gritted teeth.
"What?" Kyp asked, not understanding why she was upset.
Jaina walked closer to him. "You know what is coming, what we'll have to deal with soon," she said. "I am telling you right now you better mend this huge gaping wound that is between you and Blaine before it's too late."
"We'll be okay," Kyp said. "It's nothing."
"The Sith it is!" Jaina said, practically yelling. "Your son thinks he isn't worthy enough to be a part of this family and it's because of you! Because you make him feel that way. Dammit Kyp! Blaine has always looked up to you, has always loved you more than the other boys did. All he ever wanted was your approval and all you do is turn your back on him."
"I do not turn my back on him!" Kyp bellowed. "He handles things the way he does, and he does a damn fine job. That's why I wanted him to get the leadership of Twin Suns so much, because he was the one that could handle. He was the only one with the strength to take it over."
"But HE doesn't know that, Kyp," Jaina said, her voice pained. "He doesn't know."
Kyp stepped forward and put his arms around her. "I'll tell him. I'll find a way to make him know I love him," he promised to her. She nodded a bit and cried into his shoulder.
Three days. What was it about three days? Padmè leaned against Soontir, holding Zeth's hand as the three walked to a conference room where their family finally decided to speak with them. After Zeth and Soontir found their way to the medical bay, they had confined Zeth and Soontir to separate quarters, and Padmè was kept under watch in the medical bay till now. But it always seemed, even when they were kids that three days was the limit they were left alone before being "summoned" almost to the family.
Jaina looked up as the door opened. She sat between Jag and Kyp, and felt an urge to take Kyp's hand, mostly because it was striking her hard to see what appeared to be her son and daughter with the man that looks like Jag walk in. She was curious to know who Soontir's mother was.
"Please, have a seat," Cal said, gesturing to the three vacant chairs in the room. "I will be a silent observer only, I am leaving the rest of the meeting to the Fels and Solos." Tahiri Veila looked and frowned but said nothing.
Soontir and Zeth both settled Padmè into a chair, then flanked her on either side, both holding her hand. Cilghal looked at Padmè. "Before we begin, how do you feel?" she questioned.
"I'd feel better if I had been able to go into a healing trance," Padmè admitted. "But you made sure I was Force damped in the medical bay." Soontir clenched his jaw, but Padmè's thumb stroked the back of his hand, soothing him. "Other than that, I will be fine," Padmè finished.
Leia leaned forward, clasping her hands together as an awkward silence filled the room. "I have to admit that I am… we… are all uncertain as to where to begin," she said.
"How about at the beginning?" Zeth suggested.
"We aren't sure where the beginning is," Han pointed out.
"Who's your mother?" Jag asked, looking at Soontir.
Soontir's faced softened at the thought of his beautiful mother. "Tahiri Veila… well Tahiri Fel now," he said.
Jag's head snapped around to look at Tahiri who was staring wide eyed at Soontir. "Me?" she practically squeaked. Soontir nodded. Tahiri swallowed and looked at Jag, glancing away, a blush fusing on her cheeks.
Kyp cleared his throat. "All right, we've established parentage, now what?" he asked.
Zeth tilted his head feeling a shift in the Force, he looked over at Padmè to see her eyes closed as she leaned against Soontir. Her breathing was even as she leaned against him.
"Is she all right?" Jaina asked, having felt the shift herself.
Zeth nodded. "She's put herself into a healing trance," he said.
"Figures, she leaves the explaining to us," Soontir said with a wry grin, but he ran a gentle hand down Padmè's hair and slid his arm more comfortable around her, and pulled her a bit closer.
"So how did you get here?" Han asked.
"We aren't entirely sure," Soontir commented.
"We followed Padmè actually," Zeth said.
"Padmè… I've been wanting to ask," Leia said. She looked at Jaina. "Padmè?" Jaina shrugged.
"Padmè was our Grandma Skywalker's name," Zeth said.
"Grandma Skywalker?" Luke asked, straightening a bit.
Zeth nodded. "Padmè Naberrie was her name," he said. "Before she married Grandpa Anakin."
"How did you find this all out?" Leia asked.
Zeth glanced at Soontir with a raised eyebrow. He shrugged. "I don't know how much we can and can't tell them," Soontir said.
Zeth sighed. "I wish Cassa was here, she's diplomatic," he said.
"Who's Cassa?" Jacen asked.
"My sister," Soontir said. "She and Padmè were always the ones to step in whenever there were fights."
"Sounds as if she's like my mother," Jag said. He raised his eyebrow a bit. "Cassa…"
"My mother," Tahiri murmured. Jag glanced at her. She looked at him. "My mother's name was Cassa."
Soontir nodded. "I also have a brother named Tryst, and a sister named Cherith," he said.
"So there are four children?" Jag said. "Amongst… Tahiri and myself?" He flushed at the idea.
Soontir chuckled. "He sounds like Blaine," he said.
"Yeah," Zeth said. "I swear you should have been my twin instead of Blaine."
"Twin?" Kyp questioned.
Zeth nodded. "Identical twins," he said. "Blaine was named for Grandpa and Uncle Anakin. I was named for Uncle Zeth."
"Exactly how many children are there?" Han asked, leaning his arms on the table.
"Eight Durrons, six soon to be seven Fels, six Solos," Zeth said. Danni Quee glanced at Jacen with a smile, envisioning blonde children…. "And four Quees." Danni frowned and looked at Zeth.
"May we ask their names?" Jaina said in wonderment, suddenly curious about her future children.
Zeth glanced at Soontir. "It can't hurt," Soontir said. "You do the Durrons and the Solos, I'll handle the Fels and the Quees."
Zeth nodded. "In order there is Myself, Blaine, Padmè, Caleb, Krista, Damon, Atricia and Sola," he said. "For the Solos there is T'cha's, Teneniel, Presco, Lawson, Ridge, and Qui-Gon." Jacen frowned. Teneniel… does that mean Tenel Ka and I mend the rift and become what we are meant to be?
Soontir nodded. "The Fels are me, Mikael, Cassa, Tryst, Cherith, Bridget and Mom is expecting again," he said. "The Quees are Miranda, Markus and the twins, Elicia and Jakob."
"Um, pardon me for interrupting, but I'm assuming based on the fact that you separated the Quees and the Solos that Jacen and I…" Soonti and Zeth both shook their heads. "Then who, may I ask?" Danni questioned.
"Uncle Zekk." Silence descended in the room.
Cassa reveled in the breeze as she walked up the grassy hill, shivering as she passed the grave marker that was nearby. Like all the children, they wondered who was laying beneath the surface, since nothing but Oskio Preskania Fracio was written on the headstone. She walked over to the solitary figure that sat settled in the grass, leaning back casually, one leg propped up as he watched the sunset.
"This spot taken?" Cassa asked, gesturing to the vacant spot on the grass beside Blaine.
Blaine looked up and couldn't help the smile that crossed his face as he watched her. "By you it is," he said.
Cassa smiled and settled down beside him. They were both silent, lost in their thoughts. "You left the meeting rather quickly," she finally said softly. She played with her hands.
"I don't believe them," Blaine said after a moment. "I just… I can't believe what they told us is true."
"You think I want to believe it?" Cassa asked him. "Blaine you might lose a best friend, but if what they said is true, I'll be losing my brother."
Blaine looked away from the beautiful sunset to glance at her. He sighed and straightened. Tentatively he reached over and took her hand. "I'm sorry, Cassa," he said softly. "I'm being selfish. I have been since this happened."
Cassa frowned. She reached a hand up to touch Blaine's cheek. "Blaine, talk to me," she said. "What's going on? What has you so upset over all of this?"
Blaine shook his head, dislodging her hand. "I don't know," he whispered. "I don't… I can't…" A sigh escaped him. "It's hard to explain. Just a feeling."
"And this rift between you and your Dad?" she asked.
"That's been there all my life," Blaine mumbled.
"Blaine, if what they told us is true, then you need to mend it," Cassa said. "Nothing in this life is worth being upset over and letting something like this come between you and your Dad." Cassa leaned over and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "Life is too short."
Blaine didn't watch her get up and walk away. She was gone for sometime before he looked up. "It is too short, Cassa," he said. "But yet I still can't find the courage to tell you I love you."
This was an all too familiar scene in a manner of speaking to Kyp as he walked up onto the roof, but this was Mon Calamari, he wasn't summoned this time, and it was a mere fluke that he found Jaina sitting, a blanket wrapped around her as she looked out over the lakes surrounding the building. He took a moment to admire her beauty before turning.
"Don't go," Jaina called softly.
Kyp turned. "I didn't mean to disturb you," he said.
Jaina didn't turn but he saw her head lower and turn a bit, a small smile gracing her features. "You aren't," she said. She looked over her shoulder at him. "I think we should talk anyway."
Kyp tucked his hands into his pockets and walked over. "Yeah," he said. "Probably."
Jaina scooted over. "Have a seat," she said.
Kyp settled down beside her and looked out. He had been up here plenty of times and knew how beautiful the scenery was, but now it seemed more poignant. He was sitting here with the woman that he knew for certain he was in love with. It had taken some time to realize it, but when he had… It hadn't done any good. But that didn't matter. A part of him felt some triumph knowing that he won her heart in the end. Though he felt… he wasn't sure how he felt now. It was hard to know. So much to take in.
"You are never this quiet," Jaina teased a bit.
"Hard to really know what to say to be honest," Kyp said.
Jaina nodded her agreement. "I just…" she started then stopped. She sighed heavily. "To be honest I never envisioned… you and I."
Kyp looked sideways at her, his eyebrow raised. "Thanks, Goddess," he said. "That's good for a man's ego."
"That's not what I meant," Jaina said, blushing. "It's just our age difference."
"Just gets better and better," Kyp said his heart plummeting some, his voice low.
Jaina bit her lip. Finally she turned and faced him. "Kyp I'm sorry," she said. "I'm not saying the right things. Maybe I should go." She started to rise but Kyp stopped her.
"No, don't go," he said. He sighed. "Let's try again."
Jaina settled back down and watched him. "I just don't know what to say," she said.
"Then let's say nothing," Kyp suggested. "We are still taking it all in."
"I just…" Jaina looked out over the water from the roof then smiled. "He looks just like you."
Kyp chuckled. "Yeah but he has your eyes and smile," he said. He looked at her. "And Padmè looks just like you."
"I see you in her," Jaina said honestly, looking at him. "That mischievous carefree nature that my father influenced in you at every turn."
"Do you think he influenced it in Padmè?" he asked.
"Knowing Dad? Probably," Jaina said. They both chuckled then sobered. "Blaine… they said he's Zeth's identical brother. But I wonder who he is most like."
"I wonder what our other children look like," Kyp said. He looked a bit startled. "That was odd."
"Our children," Jaina said. She looked out over the water again. "Our children."
"Trying it out or something?" Kyp teased her. Jaina smiled softly then had to laugh. She started practically guffawing. Kyp frowned. "What?" he asked.
"I was just remembering the look on Tahiri and Jag's faces when… when," she laughed harder, tears starting to form and roll down her cheeks. "When Soontir told them who his mother was." Kyp couldn't help it, he started laughing too. Their laughter sounded through the air as they settled and continued to talk, never realizing that it was the first steps to finding their love.
Danni was chewing on her lip as she strolled through the halls. Jacen had wanted to have dinner with her, to talk about what they had discovered, but she couldn't face him. She couldn't face the heartache she knew was going to happen. She overheard Jaina tell Jacen to call the Queen Mother of Hapes, Tenel Ka, and ask her to come to Mon Cal so she would know what's going on since it would affect her as well. Of course he had scurried off to do just that.
"Figures," Danni mumbled. "I should have known I'd never be able to compete with her."
"Do you always talk to yourself?" a deep voice said behind her.
Danni whirled around and felt her cheeks start to turn a bright crimson as she stared at who she had just learned would be her future husband and the father of her children. "Hello Zekk."
Kyp gently eased open the door that led into the bedroom he shared with his wife. He paused and felt a smile tugging at his lips and his heart pull at the sight. Jaina sat in a chair he had made when the twins were born. It was on two slats of wood and she was able to rock. Their baby girl, Sola, was nestled in her lap. The little girl straddled her mother's lap, her head resting against Jaina's chest, her dark hair blowing in the breeze. Her little lips were pursed, bubbles forming as she breathed out, her eyes moving beneath her eyelids. Jaina gently rubbed her back as she rocked slowly, keeping her asleep. Her own head was resting back, her eyes downcast watching the little girl. She felt his presence but didn't look towards him.
"Are you still upset with me?" Kyp asked softly as he walked over and knelt beside the chair.
"I am trying not to be, Kyp, but I can't stand seeing our son in pain, or you for that matter," Jaina said. She finally looked at him, sadness in her eyes. "He's your son."
"I know, baby," Kyp said. "And I am trying, but sometimes it's hard. Whenever we start to talk it seems to get ugly."
"You have got to be the one to concede for once," Jaina said. "Being on the receiving end of arguments with you, I know this. Sometimes you have to concede, or Blaine is going to erect a wall so fast that you won't ever be able to get past it."
Kyp felt tears forming. "Baby, I'm so sorry," he whispered. A single tear slid down his cheek.
"Baby, no," Jaina said, her own tears forming.
"Dada," Sola said, her dark eyes opening to look at him. She reached out a pudgy hand and touched his wet cheek. "Dada, no cry." Her lower lip started trembling.
"Shh," Kyp said, wiping his tears away. He leaned forward and kissed Sola's forehead. "Dada no cry. Sola no cry."
Sola leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her father's neck. Jaina smiled softly at the sight of her husband and daughter embracing. "Love you, Dada," Sola said, giving Kyp a sloppy kiss.
Kyp pulled back and gave her a loving smile. "I love you too, Sola," he said. Jaina reached over and gripped his hand tightly. It was going to be okay for all of them, it had to.
Zeth looked around as people started to crowd the once empty hallway. "What's going on?" he asked his uncle as he walked by.
Jacen looked at the man. "The Queen Mother of Hapes has arrived," he said, though it was apparent he was anxious to greet her.
Zeth grinned. "Aunt Tenel Ka is here?" he asked.
"That's gonna take some getting used to," Jacen mumbled.
"That's okay, Uncle Jacen, you'll have time to get used to it," Zeth said, his grin growing.
"Aren't you coming, Jacen?" Kyp asked as he stepped up to stand beside his son.
"Yeah," Jacen said. He hurried his steps and moved ahead of them.
"He is so head over heels for that woman," Kyp said, watching Jacen go.
"Always has been," Zeth said. He glanced at his father. "You feel the same way about Mom."
Kyp looked at him. He cleared his throat nervously. "Come on, let's head for the hangar bay," he said.
Zeth fell into step beside his father. "Dad, can I offer you some advice?" he said. "I mean advice you'll remember?"
"That I'll remember?" Kyp questioned. He didn't question Zeth calling him dad.
"I guess it's not even really advice so much as just telling you," Zeth said. "It's about Blaine."
"That's your twin brother," Kyp said.
Zeth nodded. "He really looks up to you and sometimes you are pretty hard on him," he said. "But he's not perfect either, and you sometimes try and get him to be too much."
Kyp frowned. "I'm too hard on him?" he questioned. Zeth nodded. He walked ahead of his father, leaving Kyp to ponder for a moment.
"You okay?" Jaina questioned as she walked up to him.
"Just something our… son said to me," Kyp said.
"What's that?" Jaina asked.
"Something about his brother, that I am too hard on him," Kyp said.
Jaina raised her eyebrow. "Odd," she said. "Of the two of us I see myself being harder on our kids then you, and you being the push over." She grinned wickedly at him.
Kyp chuckled. "Let's go Goddess," he said. They walked to the hangar bay together and stood to the side as the large Hapan royal cruiser smoothly landed.
The entourage filed out of the ship, flanking the beautiful woman with red-golden hair that was hanging to her hips, a few braids denoting her Dathomiri heritage. A crown was nestled in her hair, and she had a cloak surrounding her. Despite the absence of her lower left arm, she stood regally, her other arm hanging at her side loosely, but it was easy to tell she was at attention. Her rancor tooth lightsaber was clipped to the belt at her waist.
"Your majesty, it's a pleasure to see you," Cal said with a smile as he bowed to Tenel Ka.
"Thank you, President Omas," Tenel Ka said. "It is my pleasure to see you as well." She noticed the Solos and Skywalkers. She frowned when she saw a man standing beside Jacen that looked like Kyp Durron, but yet Kyp also stood to a separate side, his position very close to Jaina, and she didn't seem to mind. "What is going?"
"We have much to explain to you, your majesty," Cal said. "A lot has transpired since we last spoke."
"Hi Aunt Tenel Ka!" Zeth called. He smiled and gave a small wave to his aunt.
Tenel Ka raised her eyebrow. She glanced at Cal Omas. "I believe that this is a fact, you do have much to explain," she said.
"I'm not sure how we are going to be able to find this port thingy or whatever we need to find in order to go back," Cassa said, leaning back, rubbing at her eyes to take the sting away.
Blaine looked up in time to notice her hands move to rub at her neck from where she was hunched over reading the data pads. He walked over and reached out, hesitating before his fingers closed onto her shoulders. He began to knead the muscles beneath his fingers. "We'll find a way," he said.
Cassa's eyes closed as she leaned back into his touch. "Do you think what your mom and dad said was true?" she asked softly after a moment. "That we will see them again, except…"
"We'll see them again," Blaine said, continuing to massage her shoulders. He leaned down and pressed a kiss to the top of her head, pausing when her fingers came up to close around his fingers on her shoulders.
Cassa turned slowly and gazed up at him. "Blaine…" she started. Throwing caution the wind, Blaine leaned down and silenced anything else she intended to say with a kiss.
To say that Tenel Ka was stunned into speechlessness was an understatement. Jacen watched her the entire time she had been told the story, and she had yet to say a word.
"Your majesty?" Leia questioned softly.
"This is…" Tenel Ka started. She shook her head a bit. Zeth sat down the table from her and was watching with amusement. Zekk, too, was in the room and it was the first time he had heard the story, explaining the presence of the three additions.
"This is…" Tenel Ka started again. "To say that it is anything but an outrageous story would be…" She shook her head again.
"You don't believe us?" Zeth asked.
"It's not that," Tenel Ka said. "Well it is partially that. But it's a hard story to swallow."
"We would same the same, your majesty, but we have the added addition of then trying to explain the DNA components," Jag said.
"DNA components?" Tenel Ka asked.
The door opened and Soontir walked in with Padmè at his side, his arm around her. Tenel Ka's eyes widened. "That DNA component," Tahiri said. She blushed as she spoke. "When Padmè was brought to the medical bay after her X-wing landed, Cilghal told us her DNA is a perfect combination of Kyp and Jaina's."
"A quick DNA check on Soontir and Zeth showed that Zeth matched Kyp and Jaina's as well, and showed his connection to Padmè that siblings share, and Soontir was the perfect combination of Jag and Tahiri," Jaina said, her fingers itching to close around Kyp's as he sat beside her.
"And the other children?" Tenel Ka asked.
"Information provided by Zeth and Soontir," Jacen piped in.
Tenel Ka leaned back in a slumped position, her hand coming to her forehead. She rubbed at it gently before looking up. "Might I be shown to my quarters?" she questioned. "This is a lot to take in at one time."
"Of course," Cal Omas said, standing. "If you and your entourage will follow me…" Tenel Ka nodded and rose.
Jacen came around the corner of the table. "Tenel Ka, I…" he started.
Tenel Ka looked at him. "We'll talk later," she said softly, wanting to reach over and take his hand. There were too many emotions racing through her at the moment, and to learn that she was going to marry the man she had loved since she was a girl was a bit overwhelming to say the least. Especially when she thought her chances had been lost. Jacen nodded and let her go.
Zekk paced back and forth outside of the conference room they had once been in. He glowered as he hit a small body that came around the corner. "Watch it," he growled.
Danni's eyes narrowed. "I can't see around corners, so unless you have found a way to tap into that sort of talent, I suggest you don't cast stones or snap at me," she said.
"Whatever," Zekk growled.
"You think this is any easier for me?" Danni said. "I have been having to deal with knowing the man I'm seeing isn't going to be married to me or have children with me."
"You have no idea what I've been through," Zekk growled. "I always felt that Jaina and I were meant to be and now to see her first with Fel, and now find out she is destined for Durron doesn’t sit well with me. Not to mention I find out that I'm married to you."
Danni frowned, bristling at his words. "Well excuse me if I don't find it flattering that I'll be married to you either," she snapped.
Zekk stepped closer, his green eyes flashing. "You should have known Jacen would never love you, he's always loved Tenel Ka," he said.
Danni's eyes narrowed. "So sure about everything are you?" she asked. "I noticed Jaina doesn't even look your way anymore."
Zekk's eyes narrowed further and he spun on his heel walking away from her, heading towards his quarters. Danni ran after him. "Don't you dare walk away from me!" she bellowed.
"What the Sith do you care?" Zekk said, getting to his room. He whirled on her, the male part of him noticing how her eyes sparked with her anger.
"I don't," Danni spat out. "How dare you say those things about Jacen to me!"
"Don't you get it? We both lost," Zekk said. "You don't get Jacen, and I don't get Jaina."
"Shut up!" Danni said. She began to pummel his chest with her fists. "You don't know what you are talking about!"
Zekk caught her fists, stopping her violence. He paused, his focus shifting. He caught her face between his hands and slanted his mouth over hers. Danni fought against him, but when his tongue touched her lips, she melted into his touch, returning the kiss with as much passion as he was pouring into his kiss.
Zekk pulled Danni closer, his fingers tangling in her blonde hair. He felt his arousal and pressed his body to hers more. The aroused whimper that escaped Danni's throat made his decision. He swung the blonde woman into his arms and disappeared into his quarters, the door locking as it slid shut.
Jaina lounged in the living room like area of her quarters, her feet curled beneath her. She looked towards the door as the door chime sounded. She rose and walked to the door. She punched it open and looked at Jag.
"Hey," he said.
"Hi," she returned. She felt Kyp's presence nearby, just around the corner. She felt him pause and turn the other way. Kyp…
You need to talk to him, we can talk later, Kyp thought to her.
What is happening between us? Jaina asked him.
Have dinner with me to tonight, just the two of us, and we can discuss it, but you need to talk to Jag now, Kyp thought.
What time? Jaina asked. She gave a nudge of acknowledgement when he told her, and she focused her attention on Jag.
"We need to talk," Jag said softly.
"I know," Jaina said, stepping aside. "Have a seat."
Jag stepped in, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his trousers. He sat in the chair that was opposite the sofa, where Jaina resumed how she was sitting. "Things are odd now," he said.
"Yeah, they are," Jaina said. "I don't know what to say to you anymore."
Jag leaned forward and had his elbows propped on his knees. "Actually, this is something that's been on my mind even before the kids showed up," he said. "We've been drifting apart for some time."
Jaina nodded. "Yes, we have," she said softly. "I'm sorry Jag."
"Don't be," Jag said. "I'm not hurt. But I do admit that I wish things could be a bit different at times. But there's something I've always noticed. You and Kyp… well I forced the issue when you weren't ready to make the decision and when I knew odds were slightly in my favor. Only because I think I've always known that Kyp is who you are meant to be with."
"But why? I didn't even know," Jaina said.
"I did, and it became more and more apparent when we were all in Twin Suns together. Wedge's decision to break our trio up was partly due to my influence," he said.
"What?" Jaina asked.
"I hinted that it would be a good idea to have the separate squadrons," Jag said, his eyes lowered. "And I thought it was, but it was backed entirely by my petty jealousy. Kyp's also always had something with you that I never could have."
"What's that?" Jaina said, finding she couldn't be angry at his deception.
Jag gave her a sad smile. "A happy history," he said.
"Jag…" Jaina started.
"No, Jaina, you can't say our history has been happy," Jag said. "It's always been backed with war and surrounded with it. Your history with Kyp as a woman has that backing, but your first memories of Kyp aren't ones full of death and destruction. And I fear that would take a toll at some point."
"And what of your future with Tahiri?" Jaina said. "That will always be backed and surrounded by this war."
"I don't know how to explain it, but I think there is something that will happen that will draw us together," Jag said. He gave a small smile. One that used to make something in Jaina shift. "I've grown to respect Tahiri a great deal. There aren't many that could handle the kind of disrespect and distrust I directed at her and still managed to look at me without disgust."
"She is a special woman," Jaina said. "Anakin saw that when they were children."
"I won't keep you any longer, but I think…" Jag trailed off.
"I think it's time for us to go our separate ways," Jaina said. "At least romantically."
"Are you kidding me?" Jag said with a grin. "I'm sticking around so I can knock the hell out of Durron if he ever hurts you."
Jaina rose and smiled, walking with him to the door. She looked up at Jag. "I don't think that'll ever happen," she said. "I don't think he will ever hurt me again. He did that once and it tore him apart."
"I'll still be here if he hurts you," Jag said.
Jaina smiled. "Thanks," she said.
Jag grinned and hugged her, pulling back. "What are friends for?"
Jaina smoothed a hand down the dress she decided to wear for her dinner with Kyp. She was fidgeting nervously, her heart pounding. "Come on, Jaina, it's just dinner," she murmured to herself. She slipped her shoes on and left her quarters.
Kyp fidgeted with the buttons on his shirt then ran a hand through his hair. He looked around his quarters, at the table he set up, the candles that were creating a soft glow in the room. He jumped a foot when his door chimed. He cursed a bit and stilled himself through the Force, calming himself down. With a casual stroll he walked over to the door and opened it. His heart instantly began to pound again and his head swam. Jaina stood before him, looking as gorgeous as any time he had ever seen her.
"Hi," Jaina said in a smile voice.
"Hey," Kyp said. He gave her a nervous smile. "You look like I feel."
"Sick and terrified?" Jaina said then bit her lip.
Kyp chuckled, looking down. He looked up again, his face softening into a loving smile. "Come in," he said, pulling her gently by the hand.
Jaina gasped as she walked in. "Oh Kyp…" she said. She looked up at him and smiled. "It's beautiful."
"I hoped it would help us relax," Kyp said. He put a hand against her back, the warmth of his palm radiating up her back through the fabric of her dress. He held a seat out for her and pushed it in once she was seated.
"I hope the food is okay," Kyp said as he seated himself. "I can replicate with the best of them, but our supply has been minimal."
Jaina smiled. "I'm sure it'll be fine," she said. They ate mostly in silence, merely enjoying each other's company. Jaina wiped her mouth, setting her napkin down, her eyes traveling to Kyp where he sat, sipping some caf. "Kyp, do you wonder if… no never mind."
"What is it?" Kyp asked, his head tilting to one side.
Jaina bit her lip and rose. She walked over to the door that led out to a balcony off of the base. She relished in the view it had over the lakes of Mon Calamari, noticing the beauty of the water planet not for the first time. She wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing at the bare skin that was chilled. She looked over her shoulder as she felt Kyp's strong hands place a warm blanket around her. She tried not to breathe in too deeply, at least not noticeably. His smell was becoming intoxicating to her. Her eyes fluttered closed and she leaned back when his arms wrapped around her as well. "Talk to me," he whispered against her ear.
"I just wonder," she said. "Is it our destiny to be together, or do we feel obligated because we've met our son and daughter?"
Kyp tilted his head to the side so that he was leaning into hers. He tightened his hold around her a moment. "Ultimately I think it's destiny," he said softly. "Our children came from the future, so they obviously had to come about somehow meaning destiny played a part in the end." He looked down at her. "Jaina, I need to tell you… I love you. I have for some time."
Jaina turned in his arms and looked up into his eyes. "I…" she started.
"Don't," Kyp said. "I don't want you to say the words until you are certain you mean them."
Jaina gave a small smile as Kyp's head lowered and their foreheads were pressed together. "Keep talking like that, Kyp Durron, and it won't take me long to tell you," she whispered. His only response was placing a gentle kiss to her forehead.
Tahiri was worrying at her lower lip as she sat at the table, researching various planets. She looked up when she heard the door slide open and a blush formed on her face, her gaze lowering.
"I thought I'd find you here," Jag said.
Tahiri looked up. "You… you were looking for… me?" she asked hesitantly.
"Initially, no," Jag said. "I was wandering. Then it dawned on me that we should probably talk."
"Oh… yeah… talk," Tahiri said, looking down.
Jag came around the desk and gave a small encouraging smile. When she didn't return it, looking almost sick with worry, his focus moved to what she was working on. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm on a research team to find planets that the Yuuzhan Vong haven't encountered yet," Tahiri said, tapping a button. A beautiful planet came up on the view screen. "This is a planet called Naboo."
"Naboo, Naboo," Jag said, trying to find a memory in his mind. "Oh that's right. Naboo was the planet responsible for the Empire coming to power. At least its Senator was."
"Really?" Tahiri said.
"Well in a sense," Jag said. "I remember reading in history that Senator Amidala, who was fighting against the idea of a grand army of the republic at the time had to go into hiding after a few failed assassination attempts. She left her duties in the care of a native alien species to Naboo. Representative Jar Jar Binks was a part of the Gungan race, another species inhabitant of Naboo. He was a part of a large battle that occurred on Naboo when the Trade Federation tried to take over the planet. It is said that during Senator Amidala's absence, Representative Binks was "encouraged" to call for an emergency call to allow Chancellor Palpatine to have the ability to create a grand army for the Republic."
"The same army that Senator Amidala was against," Tahiri said.
"Exactly," Jag said. "That was during the Clone Wars."
Tahiri looked and popped up the planet history as well as pictorial documentation of the past monarchs. She paused at a picture of one. "Senator Amidala was the queen at one time?" she asked. Her eyes widened. "Jag…"
"What is it?" Jag asked.
Tahiri pointed to the screen. "Amidala was her monarch and senatorial name," she said. She looked at Jag. "Her real name was Padmè Naberrie."
Cassa leaned back in the comfortable chair in her room. She wiped at a tear that slid down her cheek as memories surfaced. She sniffled and snuggled down further into the chair, her arms wrapped around herself. Blaine knew how to cut deeply. Her eyes closed as her mind worked over time.
Cassa was at first startled when Blaine's lips captured hers, but soon she leaned into his touch. Their tongues touched tentatively at first then growing more intense as passion consumed them. Suddenly Blaine thrust her away from him.
"I shouldn't have done that," he said, taking a deep breath.
"What?" Cassa questioned. "What are you talking about?"
"I never should have…" Blaine looked away, ashamed of himself.
"Blaine, you have no idea how long…" Cassa started.
"Cassa, don't please," Blaine said. He shuddered a bit. "I can't replace him."
Cassa frowned. "Replace whom?" she asked.
"Zeth," Blaine said.
"Zeth?" Cassa asked. She gave a half laugh. "What does this have to do with him?"
"I know how you feel for him," Blaine said.
"You know how I… Blaine you are wrong," Cassa said.
"I see how you look at him, Cassa," Blaine said, pain in his voice. "I'm never good enough."
"Blaine Anakin Durron, don't you EVER say that!" Cassa said.
Blaine gathered his things. He took one departing glance at Cassa then looked away. "Someone has to speak the truth," he said. As he walked out, he never saw how heartbroken Cassa looked.
"Damn you Blaine," Cassa whispered. "I love you with all that I am, why can't you see that?" She curled tighter into herself and sobbed her heart out.
Jag put his hand on Tahiri's back as they hurried to find Leia and Luke. Tahiri closed her eyes a moment, reaching through the Force and was pleased to find that they were centered in the same spot. "They are at the Solos," she said.
"That's where we'll go too," Jag said as they hurried to their quarters. They buzzed the door chime and waited.
"Jag, Tahiri, what are you two doing here?" Leia asked when she opened the door.
"Mom? Dad?" Soontir's voice came from inside. Tahiri paled a bit as Jag's cheeks flamed. "Sorry, habit," Soontir said as he stepped up behind Leia.
"Um, I came across Tahiri while she was doing some research that we thought you and Master Skywalker might find interesting," Jag said, looking at Leia.
"Come in," Leia said, stepping aside.
Tahiri looked around as she stepped into the Solos apartment. Padmè, Soontir and Zeth were sitting on the sofa in the living room area, Mara was seated in a loveseat with Luke, Ben playing on the floor in front of them. Han was just walking out of the kitchen area, two drinks in his hands. "We didn't mean to interrupt," she said.
"No, it's all right, we were just spending some time with Padmè, Soontir and Zeth, making sure they were comfortable while they were here," Luke said. "What brings you here?"
"Um, we found some information," Jag said. "Well, Tahiri found it."
Tahiri blushed a bit. "As you know I am working with the research team that is locating planets that the Yuzzhan Vong haven't found yet," she said. "Well we ran across a planet that has an interesting history."
"Do tell," Luke said.
"It's a planet called Naboo," Tahiri said. She looked at Jag. "You know the history a bit better."
"Naboo…" Han said with a frown. "Palpatine was from Naboo."
"So was Padmè Naberrie," Jag said.
Luke perked up. "Padmè…" he started. He looked at Padmè and Zeth. "You said…"
Padmè nodded. "Grandma Skywalker," she said.
"Mother?" Leia questioned.
"I think there is more history actually on Naboo," Jag said. "If the records are still in tact."
"What history do you know?" Luke asked. Jag settled in, Tahiri sitting beside him as they began to tell the rest what they had found out.
Zekk opened his eyes, blinking groggily. He looked down as he felt a warm body pressed against his. His brow furrowed at the blonde hair that was across his chest. Reality came back to him and he realized whom it was and why she was there. "Danni?" he questioned. "You awake?"
"I never really fell asleep," Danni said softly. Her fingers curled a bit, and a hiss escaped Zekk's throat when she scraped them along his chest.
"What's happening?" Zekk asked.
Danni snorted, tears in her eyes. "What does it look like is happening?" she asked. Before she could stop it, a tear fell from her cheekbone and fell on his chest.
"You're crying," Zekk said.
"How observant of you," Danni said a bit sarcastically. She tried to pull away, but he stopped her.
"Don't," Zekk said. Danni looked up but her mouth was caught by his and any thoughts of leaving or words quickly fled from her mind.
"Warmaster," the warrior said as he bowed before his superior. "We have found where the infidels are hiding themselves."
"Good," the Yuuzhan Vong warmaster said from where he stood. He didn't turn to look at the warrior behind him. "I want to know exactly where we can hit them that will have the most affect.
"Yes, warmaster," the warrior said. He hurried back out of the room, leaving the warmaster alone.
"Victory will be ours."
Jacen pressed a kiss to Tenel Ka's temple as she settled back against his chest. "How is Tahiri?" he asked.
"She is resting now, but Jag is worried," Tenel Ka said. "She's getting closer to her due date and he's worried what this stress will do to her."
"Do you remember if…?" he started to question.
"No I don't, so much was happening then," Jacen said with a soft sigh. He tightened his hold on her. "There is a disturbance though in the Force."
"Cassa and Blaine are short with each other," Tenel Ka said. "Teneniel said that Blaine thinks Cassa is in love with Zeth."
"Oh man," Jacen said with a sigh. "He's doing it again."
"Don't be too hard on him," Tenel Ka said. "He's always felt…"
"I know he has," Jacen said with a sigh. "If anyone knows how he feels, it's me."
"My love, you were never inferior, just as Blaine is not," Tenel Ka said.
"I still felt that way, but I realized the truth," Jacen said.
"Yes, but it took a long time for you to realize that, and it took love to show you," Tenel Ka said.
Jacen smiled lovingly at her. "That is a fact," he said. Tenel Ka chuckled but then groaned when he began to kiss her thoroughly, erasing any other thoughts from her head.
Blaine barely had enough time to duck the fist that swung at his head. He rose, his eyes flashing at the irate Fel standing before him. "Idiot," Mikeal Fel snarled at him.
"I thought I said to talk first before you threw a fist?" Teneniel Solo said as she stepped up beside Mikeal.
"He made Cassa cry, that's reason enough for me to hit him," Mikeal said.
"Why is Cassa crying?" Markus Quee asked as he walked into the room, practically able to taste the animosity that was rising in the room.
"Because Blaine's an idiot," Mikeal said.
"I made a mistake," Blaine said. His tone was so down trodden that Teneniel glanced at her cousin with astonishment.
"Huh?" Markus asked with a frown.
Blaine ran a hand through his hair and moved around the table and slumped into the cushioned chair. He propped a leg on the table, his head leaning back. "I kissed Cassa," he murmured.
"Well it's about time," Markus said with a grin. "When's the wedding?"
"Like I'd let him marry my sister after what he did," Mikeal snarled.
"Stop it," Teneniel whispered to him.
"You saw her!" Mikeal said loudly, his arms waving. Of the Fel children, Mikeal was certainly the one that had his mother's flare for talking, dramatics and temper. "She's in tears because…"
"Because she kissed me knowing that the man she loves probably can't come home," Blaine finished.
Mikeal's arms fell to his side and he turned disbelieving eyes to him. "What?" he asked confused.
Blaine stood and walked to the window, staring out over the beautiful lake behind the Durron's home. "I kissed her, I don't regret kissing her, but I shouldn't have," he said. He lowered his head. "Not when I know it's Zeth she really wants to kiss."
"What?!" Markus and Mikeal both said.
Teneniel waved her hand, ever the diplomat, she walked towards her cousin. "Blaine, what do you mean?" she asked softly, taking his hand in hers.
"I'm not Zeth," Blaine said sadly. "I never will be."
"What does that have to do with anything?" she asked.
"I know Cassa loves him. I've always known," Blaine said. He looked down, trying not to let his cousin see the hurt and heartache in his eyes. "I love her with all that I am, but I know she doesn't love me because she loves Zeth."
"Miranda might have something to say about that," Markus said in a flat tone, crossing his arms over his chest.
Blaine turned and looked with a frown. "What?" he asked.
"Blaine, while you have been off doing the great Durron and Solo duty of grand military leader, Zeth has been courting my sister, not Mikeal's," Markus said. "Zeth and Miranda are practically engaged. And they couldn't be more in love with each other."
Blaine frowned. "Zeth and Miranda? But I thought…"
"You think too much," Mikeal said, his voice hard. "And you don't look enough. Man, you are bloody blind if you can't see how Cassa feels about you."
"You are nuts," Blaine said.
"If you won't let yourself see it, then you don't deserve her," Mikeal said.
"Mikeal, hush, now," Teneniel said gently but sternly. She watched Mikeal, ready to stop him if he tried to say anything more. When she saw he wasn't, she turned to her cousin. "I think you and Cassa need to talk."
"But…" Blaine started.
"No buts, Blaine," Teneniel said. "Go. You are wasting time with her and with Uncle Kyp, and it's time that you stopped being so damned stubborn and… and… such a Durron."
Blaine felt his lips twitching, the cocky Solo grin with a hint of his father's own grin began to blossom on his face. "Normally that's a compliment."
"Not in this case," Teneniel said. "Blaine you need to stop this. This isn't all about Uncle Kyp and Cassa or anyone else. You need to take a step too and stop letting your insecurities rule your heart."
Blaine blinked a few times. He leaned down and kissed his cousin's cheek and hurried out of the room. "Where is he going?" Mikeal asked incredulously.
Teneniel smiled and slid her arm around his waist, nestling into the embrace he automatically surrounded her with. "To do the right thing. I hope."
Danni listened to Zekk's even breathing, her fingers running through his long dark hair. He was sleeping soundly beside her, his head resting against her breasts, his arm possessively around her waist. They had spent every night since the first night together. That had been a week ago. The sting of Jacen's impending rejection had faded, and she was growing closer to Zekk unconsciously. She glanced down at his dark head and let her eyes fall closed, sleep claiming her as well.
Tenel Ka turned when she saw Jacen approaching her. "You've been avoiding me," Jacen said a bit sadly as he stepped up to her.
"Not… avoiding necessarily," Tenel Ka said. She looked down at the lake below where they stood. "Just uncertain as to how to approach you."
"Are you still…" Jacen didn't know how to answer her.
"So much has happened," Tenel Ka said. She gave a small smile. "My heart was about to burst when I was told that you and I were going to wed. That we are in fact destined to be together. But then I remember who I am, where I am from, and I can't help but think that I can't and won't let you become nothing more than a slave."
"Could you honestly let me become that anyway?" Jacen asked. "I would never walk away from you no matter what. And the choice is mine."
"That is not a fact," Tenel Ka said. "I can turn your attentions away from me."
Jacen stepped closer and caught her hand, pulling her to him. "But you won't," he said. "Tenel Ka I love you, I always have. I won't just let you go, not without making myself such a nuisance that you will give in."
"Jacen," Tenel Ka said almost pained. "Men are not respected on my planet. Especially potential consorts of the Queen Mother."
"I could care less how other's view me," Jacen said. "My family and friends would know, those that are important. And as long as you treat me as you always have, with respect, friendship and love, then what does it matter what others think?"
Tenel Ka's hand came up and pressed her shaking hand to his cheek. "Jacen, I love you, but I don't know if I can put you through this," she whispered.
Jacen cupped her face in his hands. "That is my choice, and I am making it," he whispered back. Before she could say no, he pressed his mouth to hers.
Blaine hesitated slightly but he walked with a more determined gait to where Cassa was standing, staring out over the lake. He put a hand on her shoulder. Cassa turned and she stepped back slightly. She didn't realize how close she was to the edge and she felt her balance slipping. Her arms pin wheeled as she tried to regain her balance.
Blaine reached out and caught her hand trying to keep her from falling, but her momentum was already propelling backwards, and he was not quite balanced himself. Their momentum sent them both splashing into the water.
Cassa came up sputtering, shaking her blonde hair out of her eyes. Her green eyes narrowed a bit at Blaine as he surfaced. "Sorry, sorry," Blaine sputtered.
"What do you want?" Cassa said, her loose fitting sundress was now clinging to every curve of her body, and she tried to keep from letting her eyes stray to the hard planes of muscle she saw through Blaine's soaked shirt.
Blaine looked up, his eyes roving over her a moment before catching her eyes and looking sheepish. "I meant to apologize," he mumbled.
"Well now you have two things to…" Cassa looked at him and frowned. "Apologize? For what?"
"For being the galaxy's biggest idiot," Blaine said. He noticed that she was trembling slightly. "Let's get out of here." He waded to the side of the lake. He crawled out and reached a hand down to her.
Cassa let his large hand enfold hers and with a strong tug, she was hauled out of the water, and lost her footing again, but instead of ending up in the water, she found herself pressed against Blaine's hard chest.
Blaine didn't let her move away, his eyes staring into hers. "I'm sorry Cassa," he murmured. "I…"
"Don't," Cassa said, tears forming in her eyes. "I can't stand it if you break my heart again." She pulled away and started to walk back towards the house.
"I love you, Cassa," Blaine said.
Cassa paused. She turned and looked at him. "What?" she asked, her heart pounding.
"I love you," Blaine said. "I always have."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Cassa asked, her voice pained.
Blaine looked embarrassed. "I thought you were in love with Zeth," he said. "I didn't want to be second best again." Blaine looked startled when he felt Cassa's hand connect with his cheek. "What was that for?"
"You idiot!" Cassa said hotly. "You are an idiot! I've never loved Zeth! I've always loved you!"
"But…" Blaine started.
"Oh shut up, damn you Blaine Durron!" Cassa said. "Stop wallowing in your own self pity and doubt. I have always loved you! Zeth is in love with Miranda Quee, he always has been, and she loves him in return."
"Cassa, I…" Blaine started.
"Blaine, do me a favor," Cassa said, her voice softening. She stepped up to Blaine and slid her arms around his neck. "Shut up and kiss me." Blaine wasn't going to argue.
"So we are going to Naboo," Jaina said, her arms crossed over her chest. She still wore the dress she had been wearing on her date with Kyp the night before. Another fantastic date as it was. One of the many they had had over the past week. She ignored the raised eyebrows from both Jag and Jacen. Kyp, too, was still wearing his clothes from the previous night. The blanket had been replaced by a jacket of Kyp's that was far too large for the petite woman it was now engulfing.
"Yes," Leia said. "Apparently it has not been too badly destroyed by the wars it was involved in."
"Hopefully that is true with the history it contains," Luke commented.
Kyp frowned. "Where are Tahiri and Zeth?" he questioned.
Tahiri stared out over the lake that was beneath the balcony she was on. "Aunt Tahiri?" Zeth said behind her.
Tahiri turned and flushed a bit. "I…" she started.
"Sorry," Zeth said with a small smile. "May I join you?" Tahiri nodded. He walked up to the balcony railing and leaned against it. "It's hard for me not to call you Aunt."
Tahiri smiled a bit. "You look so much like Kyp that it's almost unnerving," she said.
Zeth gave her the grin she associated so much with Kyp. "Wait till you see Blaine when he's older," he said. "We may be identical, but if there was ever a perfect example of Dad it's Blaine."
"Tell me about the others," Tahiri said, tilting her head.
"The others?" Zeth asked. "As in all of the rest of us kids, or just yours with Uncle Jag?"
"I suppose mostly my kids," Tahiri said in a low tone. She bit her lip. "I always worried I wasn't going to be a mother and if I was, not a good one."
"Aunt Tahiri, all you need to do is look at Soontir and how he's been here to know that you and Uncle Jag were the most incredible parents," Zeth said. Then he grinned. "Well next to Mom and Dad that is."
"What about the rest of Soontir's brothers and sisters?" Tahiri asked, tucking a lock of blonde hair behind her ear.
Zeth grinned and crossed his legs over one another at each ankle. "Mikael is the next of the Fels, and he's almost the opposite of Soontir in a way. He's more emotional I think. At least his temper gets the best of him easier. But in a way it'll be interesting. He's in love with my cousin Teneniel, and she is the future Queen Mother of Hapes after Aunt Tenel Ka. But they make a good couple. Cassa is the diplomat and the quietest by far. She's an observer in a lot of things. She is a lot like Grandma in a way. She apprenticed for a time as a teenager with both Grandma and Uncle Luke learning diplomatic ways in both governmental capacity as well as Jedi. She's in love with Blaine. And I think he loves her too, at least it seems like it to me, but he won't tell her." Zeth frowned a bit. "Blaine has some issues to deal with. Tryst is a bit funny. I've had to pin his ears back a few times, but only because he's started showing an interest in my sister Krista, and I'm obligated as a big brother to threaten him. Did it with Soontir when he started dating Padmè."
Tahiri laughed, trying to imagine Zeth and Soontir going head to head over Padmè. "That sounds amusing," she said.
"Yeah, though I think I am gonna have to have a talk with Damon too," Zeth said. "He may be my brother, but he's been gushing over Cherith lately, and he's way too young. They both are. The baby right now is Bridget, but she's getting close to the teenage years and she's been at the new Jedi academy for a year now. We can't wait to see what you and Uncle Jag have next. The girls of course want another little girl to throw the balance in their favor. Tryst wants a boy he can teach things too, but Mikael and Soontir are both at a point that they just want you and the baby to be healthy."
Tahiri tilted her head. "Um, what about Jag?" she asked softly.
Zeth had a soft smile on his face. "He loves you incredibly," he said. "When they told us as we got older that Uncle Jag and my Mom had been together we just couldn't believe it cause we've always seen how he is with you."
"And the new baby?" she asked.
"He's terrified and ecstatic at the same time," Zeth said. "Neither of you thought you were going to have anymore after Bridget, and then you did become pregnant." Zeth tilted his head. "Aunt Tahiri, do you… I mean…" He thought a moment. "How do you feel about him right now?"
Tahiri sighed and looked out over the lake again. "I honestly don't know," she said in a small voice. She smiled a bit. "I found myself having a small crush on him a few months ago but I was trying to not feel that way because he was dating Jaina."
"A crush?" Zeth asked. "How so?"
"Oh, when we were working together briefly it was hard on him to trust me," Tahiri said. "Right after I merged my personalities. He was worried for Jaina I think and they weren't sure if I was truly okay."
"He didn't trust you?" Zeth asked surprised.
"Mmm, but he still went with, and I began to respect him. Then one day I saw him relaxed, with a small smile on his face and I saw how good looking he was and it twisted something that I thought had been gone when Anakin died," Tahiri said. "But it wasn't right at the same time."
"Aunt Tahiri, love is always right," Zeth said. Tahiri smiled at him, but said nothing in return.
"Are we there yet?" Zeth said with a sickening grin.
"Shut up, pus brain," Padmè said, smacking her brother's arm.
"Watch it shorty," Zeth growled.
"Don't make me stop this ship," Kyp said. Padmè and Jaina giggled.
"We are almost ready to enter the Naboo atmosphere," Wedge said over the entire fleet com. Silence descended on the ship.
"How beautiful," Leia murmured as they stepped off the ship into the courtyard of the former Nubian palace.
"This is where it all began," Han said with a grin. "This is where your parents met."
"Do you think anything is still working?" Tahiri asked. "I mean, everything looks so…" She trailed off when she saw four women walking toward them. All of them had a great resemblance to Leia and Jaina both and were probably images of what both women would look like in their sixties.
"Leia Skywalker-Organa-Solo," one of the women said, bowing. "My name is Dormè."
"I am Sabè," another of the women said.
"My name is Yanè," another said.
"And I am Rabè," the last said.
Leia looked at Jaina, Han, Luke, and Jacen with a frown. "I'm sorry, I don't know who you are," she said softly.
Sabè smiled. "No, but we know who you are," she said softly.
"We were your mother's handmaidens," Yanè said.
"It's surprising to see someone still here," Han said as he rubbed Leia's shoulders. His wife was still in shock from this turn of events.
"When the wars began and Padmè was smuggled to Alderaan by Obi-Wan, we went into hiding ourselves," Sabè said. "Once she knew that Anakin had fallen to the dark side, and Obi-Wan had insisted she leave to protect the children she was carrying, she made us promise that if we made it, that we would find some way to be there to tell you about her."
"We all think she knew that she wouldn't make it," Yanè said. "At least not to see you grown."
"She loved your father," Rabè said. "But in a small way, that love is what led to Anakin's fall. He could have been the most incredible Jedi ever born, but he was already falling to the dark side due to his emotions."
"His love for our mother?" Luke questioned rather indignantly. "Leia loves Han, I love Mara. My fall to the dark side, as was Mara's was never emotionally involved. Neither was Kyp's fall."
"Or mine," Jaina said softly.
"No, you misunderstand," Dormè said. "Anakin had other emotions that were the means to his fall. I spoke with Obi-Wan about it."
"What happened?" Leia asked, breaking the silence.
"Anakin had emotional attachment to his mother and began having bad dreams before he came back into Padmè's life," Dormè said. "It turns out that his mother was in danger. She had been kidnapped and beaten by Tusken Raiders. Anakin found her and within moments she died in his arms. He was so angry that he killed the entire camp. He didn't kill just the warriors. He killed the women and children as well." The family was stunned into silence.
"They never told us," Padmè said, her voice a mere whisper.
"Perhaps it was something that they didn't want us to know," Zeth said, though his voice was a bit dead.
"Your great-grandfather became a good man again," Soontir said. He held Padmè close to his chest. "Remember what your father did too."
"Will the dark side continue to haunt us?" Padmè whispered. Zeth glanced at his sister, then Soontir. The older man tightened his hold on his fiancé.
"Luke's still sleeping," Mara said to her niece and nephew when she stepped into the large sitting room. They had all settled in the palace in Theed while Rabè, Sabè, and Yanè had gone to their homes, but Dormè had stayed. She had insisted on staying with Leia and the rest of Padmè's family to help them settle in.
"So are Grandma and Grandpa," Padmè said. "I think they are in shock."
"We all are," Mara admitted. "I knew Anakin Skywalker only as Darth Vader, so to know that there was a man behind the mask is a little disconcerting at times."
"Didn’t Uncle Luke tell you that Grandpa Anakin came back to the light?" Zeth asked.
"Yes he did," Mara said. "But it's still a wonder to hear about Anakin before he became Darth Vader."
"Mom and Dad would only tell us about the good things they found out here," Padmè said. "Never about the bad times except to tell us that Grandpa Anakin had fallen."
"And not to follow his path," Zeth said. "It was an often enough lesson at the Academy."
"Especially for the Durron kids," Padmè said.
"Because of Kyp and Jaina both falling," Mara said. Padmè nodded.
"Speaking of Mom and Dad, where are they?" Zeth asked.
"We probably should have left them a note you know," Kyp said as he took Jaina's small hand in his.
"If they really want to find us, all they need to do is reach through the Force, you know that," Jaina said. She looked into his dark eyes. "Do you want them to know how to find us?"
"Well this way does mean I have you all to myself," Kyp said with a soft smile.
"Incorrigible," Jaina said with a returning smile.
"You know it," Kyp said. He looked up the house before him. "Is this it?"
Jaina pulled out her data card and looked. "According to this," she said. "The Naberrie household."
"Let's go," Kyp said. He put a gentle hand on her back and escorted her up the steps.
"Do you think my grandfather ever walked these steps?" Jaina asked as they walked to the door.
"I don't know, maybe we can ask Dormè or Sabè or someone," Kyp asked. "Maybe one of them would know."
"I wonder if anything is still intact, if we can even get in," Jaina said. She reached up and touched the door. She jumped slightly when the door slid open easily.
"Okay now how did you do that?" Kyp asked, perplexed. He had actually been thinking they were going to have to break into the house.
"Good question," Jaina said. "All I did was touch it."
"I wonder," Kyp said in a low tone. He stepped through the door and looked around.
"You wonder what?" Jaina questioned, stepping through. Except for some dust hanging on the fixtures, everything was intact. In fact more dust should have been sitting on everything, so someone was still taking care of the house.
"Well I've heard about technology that recognizes DNA only and allows entrance based on that," Kyp said. "You must have enough of the Naberrie DNA cause of your grandmother that the house recognized your touch and allowed you to enter."
"Maybe," Jaina said. "That could be a wonder and a hinderance all at the same time."
"No kidding," Kyp said. "Someone's taking care of this place."
"I wonder if Grandma's nieces are maybe taking care of the place," Jaina said. "Sabè mentioned they were still alive with their own families."
"It's possible," Kyp said. "Though it's been awhile since someone has been here."
"Yeah," Jaina said, looking around. "Kyp look." Jaina had reached a hand up to touch the frame above the hall table. The frame flickered and a picture came up, though it was faint.
Kyp looked over Jaina's head and smiled. "You and your mom look just like them," he said.
"I wonder which one is Grandma," Jaina whispered.
"Aunt Padmè is to the left, my mother to the right."
Jag rubbed at his tired eyes, his jacket in hand. He had slept rather fitfully, though his dreams hadn't been bad. Though they had left him waking and wondering. His dreams had been full of bright green eyes and curly blonde hair. He noticed the source of his dreams sitting out on the balcony, looking out over the lake and waterfall behind the palace. She was wearing nothing but a nightgown, though he saw pants sneaking out of the bottom of it. Her had her arms wrapped around her.
Tahiri jumped slightly when she felt the warm weight of a jacket being placed around her. She looked over her shoulder and saw Jag watching her with a soft look. "Thanks," she said. "You look tired."
"New place, and a lot on my mind lately," Jag said. "May I join you?"
"Sure, grab some slab," Tahiri said, gesturing to the spot beside her.
"Why didn't you grab a jacket before you came out here?" Jag asked.
"Didn't think about it," Tahiri said. She looked over at him. "I haven't been to bed."
"Tahiri," Jag admonished.
"I know," Tahiri said. She suddenly yawned.
Jag lifted his arm and settled it around her shoulders, drawing her close. Tahiri automatically put her head on his shoulder. "You need to rest," he said softly.
Tahiri's eyes fluttered closed. "Mm," she murmured.
Jag's arm slid further down to her waist, and they were both silent. He took a breath to ask her something and when he looked, she was fast asleep against him. Jag smiled and moved. He lifted Tahiri into her arms, and as he walked into the palace, he realized he didn't know where her room was. Making up his mind, he walked straight to his. Laying her down on the bed, he tucked his jacket around him and covered her.
"Now I know why I can fall in love with you," Jag murmured to himself, watching Tahiri's eyes flutter beneath her lids. He rose and walked to the other side of the bed, grabbing an extra blanket as he went. He laid down on top of the covers and pulled the blanket over him. Soon he too was back asleep, this time dreaming of the future he hoped they would have.
Pooja Naberrie-Narren set the cup of tea in front of Jaina and a cup of caf in front of Kyp. "Aunt Padmè was a wonderful woman, but more ambitious then my mother," she said. She smiled as she sat down. "I remember Mama telling us that Aunt Padmè was interested in politics almost from the time she could walk. And she had a knack for it. She was always settling feuds amongst the children when she would play. So it was no surprise when Aunt Padmè was taken on as a junior legislator." She watched them both and finally shook her head. "It's amazing how much you look like her."
Jaina blushed and set her cup down. "I always thought I favored my dad," she said softly. "At least when I was younger."
"If your mother looks just anything like you, then she will be the spitting image of Aunt Padmè, with a bit of my own mother thrown in," Pooja said. "But from what you have told me, and what I have heard of Leia Organa, she is every inch of Aunt Padmè."
"Leia does have a political flair," Kyp said, setting his cup down. "From what I understand, Luke looks a lot like his father."
"Uncle Anakin was very handsome," Pooja said. "He truly loved Aunt Padmè a great deal. Mama was very shocked when we found out that the man we knew became something like Darth Vader." She sighed and looked at her clasped hands. "Grandma Jobal was heartbroken when she found out."
"Grandma Jobal?" Jaina questioned.
"Aunt Padmè and my mother's mother," Pooja said. "Your great-grandmother in this case."
"Is she still alive?" Jaina asked tentatively.
Pooja looked saddened. "No, unfortunately she passed away a few years ago," she said. "She never really recovered from Aunt Padmè's death so soon after she had the twins. Grandpa Ruwee was seriously injured and crippled during the war with the Empire, but he managed to live for awhile. He died about ten years ago, and I think by then it took all of Grandma Jobal's fight out of her."
"If you were alive all this time, and knew about our family, why did you never try to contact us?" Jaina questioned.
"We didn't know how,' Pooja admitted. "Leia grew up away from the Naberrie's. She grew up as an Organa, and that was what Aunt Padmè wished the most. Sabè was the one to convince us it was probably best to let the past lie. Though we had no way of knowing our paths would cross ever."
"How did you know we'd be here today?" Kyp asked.
"When you left this morning, Dormè looked up what you had been searching for," Pooja said. "She thought that it was a better time as any for Ryoo and I to come into your lives."
"Ryoo?" Jaina asked.
"My older sister," Pooja said. "But her oldest daughter recently had a baby, so she's been over there helping with her new grandbaby. It's her first."
"So that would be a…?" Jaina asked, shaking her head a bit.
Pooja did some quick calculations in her head. "A fourth cousin I believe," she said. "I am your second cousin, because I am the daughter of your great Aunt, and Jobla is my great-niece." She nodded her head. "Yes, I think that's right. Jobla would be Leia's third cousin." She smiled. "Familial lines are so confusing sometimes."
"And we've suddenly acquired so many," Jaina said, leaning back. Kyp's arm moved behind her and pulled her close, pressing a kiss to her hair.
Pooja watched the interaction and smiled. The two were a good match. "Ryoo and I talked and we both think that it is up to the rest of your family and whether or not you want to meet our side of the family," she said. "We don’t want to push the matter."
"Let me talk to my mom and uncle," Jaina said. "But I think they'd love to meet you." Pooja smiled.
"Soontir Mikael Fel!" Syal Fel bellowed as she walked down the halls of the palace in Theed.
Soontir looked up and glanced at Zeth, who had an eyebrow raised. "Grandma sounds mad," Soontir said.
"Understatement," Zeth said. He hopped off the railing he was sitting on, and the two men made their way into the hall to find the elder Fel woman berating her sheepish husband.
"And why in the world didn't you tell me what was going on?!" Syal demanded at the end of her tirade.
"My love," Soontir Sr. started.
"Don't you 'my love' me," Syal said hotly.
"What's going on?" Jag asked groggily, stepping out of his room, rubbing his eyes.
"Your father didn't tell me what was…" Syal started but her voice trailed off as a mussed Tahiri bumbled out of Jag's room, his jacket still wrapped around her small body. "You have a woman coming out of your room first of all. And it is not one that is Jaina Solo, the person you are dating."
"Were dating, Mom," Jag said. "Jaina and I aren't dating anymore."
"Because of her?" Syal questioned.
"That's my mother you are talking about, Grandma," Soontir growled.
Syal turned and paled considerably. So much that it scared both her husband and her son, who both came to her side, holding an arm. "Sweet Force," she whispered harshly. Blackness snuck into her vision, and she collapsed.
"Nice, Fel," Zeth said with a small chuckle. Soontir made a rude gesture with his hand and moved to help his father and grandfather get his grandmother settled.
"Thank the Force!" Blaine bellowed. He ran out of the research room and down the hall towards Cassa's room. "Cassa!"
Cassa ran out, pulling a robe on over her short nightgown, her blonde hair wild. "What's wrong?" she demanded, skidding to a halt in front of Blaine. She squealed when he lifted her up and swung her in a hug.
"I found it!" Blaine said excitedly.
"Hey! Can you keep it down, some of us are trying to sleep!" Tryst said, poking his head out of Krista's room.
"Sorry Try…" Blaine started. He narrowed his eyes at the seventeen-year-old. "What are you doing in my sister's room?"
"Uh… studying?" Tryst asked weakly.
"It's six in the morning, Tryst, and you look like you just woke up," Cassa pointed out to her brother.
"Thanks, sis," Tryst said incredulously.
"I'm going to count to ten, and you better be out of my sister's room, fully clothed and not looking guilty at all, or I will Force throw you so far, that Aunt Tahiri will not be able to find you for a week," Blaine said, turning menacingly towards the younger man.
"Don't you dare, Blaine Durron, or I will tell Cassa all your secrets from when you were a kid," Krista Durron said, stepping out into the hall, tying the sash of her robe around her waist.
"Krista you are seventeen!" Blaine said. "Your damn lucky it was me that saw him coming out and not Dad."
"Well Dad would have the decency to not yell at the top of his lungs at six in the morning when the rest of us are trying to sleep," Krista snarled.
"Seeing as how I wouldn't do that, but I'm up anyway, you can explain to both your mother and I, as well as Tahiri and Jag just why my seventeen year old daughter and their seventeen year old son are in the same room together, a bedroom no less, wearing very little and it's apparent that you were there all night," said a deep voice behind them. Krista winced and turned. There, looking not even remotely amused, stood her father, her mother, Tahiri and Jag.
"I'm waiting," Kyp growled. His arms were folded over his chest, and he looked very imposing as he stood, legs apart, his eyes both flashing and ice cold at the same time as he looked down at his daughter and Tryst.
"We weren't doing anything," Krista said mutely.
"I don't care," Kyp said.
"You never said anything to Padmè when Soontir would sneak out of her room during breaks!" Krista said hotly, stamping her foot.
Kyp stiffened slightly. "First of all, they were better at not getting caught, young lady," he growled. "Second, this isn't about Padmè and Soontir, this is about you and Tryst."
"And do you have anything to say?" Jag said to his son, his voice hard.
Tryst looked up, defiance in the tilt of his chin, but sorrow in his eyes. "No," he said.
"Tryst!" Krista said.
"Krista, we got caught," Tryst said. "What else can we say?"
"We did nothing wrong!" Krista said.
"We got caught," Tryst said.
Krista got up with a scream. "We are so over, Tryst Fel!" she yelled, stomping down the hall.
"Krista Durron! Get back here now!" Kyp yelled after her.
"Please don't, Uncle Kyp," Tryst said sadly. He rose and walked over. "We didn't do anything wrong, and this was the first time we ever stayed in a room alone together. I swear."
"Why should I believe you?" Kyp questioned.
"Because it's the truth," Tryst said. "You can Force scan me if you like. Look, Krista was really upset earlier about Soontir, Zeth and Padmè. We were in her room talking when we fell asleep together. That's all."
Kyp gave him a calculating look then nodded. "All right, I believe you," he said. He looked to Jag.
"Go to bed, son, but we'll discuss your punishment in the morning," Jag said softly.
Tryst nodded. "Night Dad," he said. He walked over and leaned over, pressing a kiss to his mother's pale cheek. "Night Mama."
"Night honey," Tahiri said.
Jag sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. He looked at Cassa and Blaine. "You two might as well head to bed too," he said.
"Actually, Blaine, I need to talk to you," Kyp said. Blaine stiffened slightly. Kyp stroked Jaina's cheek and kissed her softly. "I'll be up in a little bit."
"You going to be okay?" Jaina questioned. Kyp nodded. She nodded. Walking over to Blaine, she hugged him close to her. "Open your ears and your heart, my sweet boy."
"Hardly a boy, mama," Blaine said, but he couldn't help the smile that crossed his features.
"You'll always be my baby boy," Jaina said with a smile. "Even if you are one of the oldest." Blaine blushed.
Kyp clasped his hands behind his back as he watched his son. He saw so much of himself in Blaine's strong features, including his stubbornness. Zeth was often seen as the mirror image of Kyp, but it was Blaine that was truly Kyp's mirror. He was a strong capable leader, often times considered hot headed in some ways, but completely level-headed in other ways. Kyp wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if Blaine would become one of the youngest Jedi Masters like his mother and father both. It was also no surprise when he was named the lead for Twin Suns and that he had been promoted to Colonel so soon in his career.
"You wanted to talk," Blaine said, his voice a bit dull. Almost lazy. Not a good sign when a Durron said anything in that tone.
"I did," Kyp said. "Blaine, I'm sorry."
Blaine blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I'm sorry," Kyp said.
"I don't understand," Blaine said with a frown. Then he looked as if understanding came to mind. "Mom put you up to this."
Kyp shook his head. "No…"
"No, I understand," Blaine said. He looked almost angry now. "Can't let the unworthy child feel like that, so smooth the waters over so he thinks he's welcome again." Blaine headed out of the room. "Don't bother, I know where my place is."
"Stop," Kyp said, catching his son's arm. "I love you, Blaine."
Blaine stiffened but didn't move, nor did he turn. "No you don't, at least not enough," he said.
"More than you realize," Kyp said. "Blaine, you never have known how proud I am of you."
"Could have fooled me," Blaine said, fighting tears that were surfacing.
"Apparently I did," Kyp said. "And for that I'm sorry. I saw myself in you so much that it never dawned on me that I needed to tell you how much I love my own son." He moved closer to Blaine. "And I do love you, son."
Blaine blinked a moment and looked at his father. "Then why do you butt heads with me so much?" he asked. "You don't with Zeth, or with the other boys."
"Son, I see your mother in Zeth so much in how he acts," Kyp said. "And myself in the later parts of my life. But the man I always wanted to be is who I see in you." He sighed. "I made mistakes in my life, mistakes I was determined that you not make, that's why I would push you harder, butt heads with you when I thought you were making rash decisions."
"That's just it, Dad," Blaine said. "They were my decisions to make. I need to make them myself, not have you make them for me. How else will I ever learn?"
Kyp gave him a smile. "You have a point," he said. His smile faltered. "I never meant for you to ever doubt my love for you."
"I don't know what to say to that, Dad," Blaine said. "It's how I felt. That I wasn't worthy. That I was just a mistake. That if Mom wasn't who she was, then I never would have been. I mean, she had twins cause she's a Skywalker, and all the Skywalkers have had twins. Even Uncle Luke had twins with Aunt Mara."
Kyp grasped his son's face in his hands. "Don't ever say that," he growled. "You are wanted. Even if you hadn't been a twin, I know you would have been born."
Tears finally fell from Blaine's eyes. "I try so hard, Dad, to live up to what you want me to be. But I keep feeling like I fall short. That I'm not good enough for the Solo, Skywalker or Durron names. I want to be you, Dad, I've always wanted to be you."
"You don't fall short, Blaine," Kyp said. "You make me so proud of all the accomplishments that you've made. I love you, son."
Blaine coughed a little. "I love you too, Dad," he murmured. Kyp embraced his son tightly.
"I take it you can't sleep?" Sabè asked as she came out onto the balcony of the lake house.
Leia looked over at the older woman. Seeing her was hard. Of all of the handmaidens, Sabè looked identical to Padmè. "A lot on my mind," she said.
"Seeing us is hard, isn't it?" Sabè questioned, leaning against the railing, looking out over the lake, the stars from above sparkling on the surface.
"Taking it all in is hard, yes," Leia said. "Luke finds it comforting to look at you, but I remember Mother somewhat, and I was there when she died." She looked. "Seeing you is hard because I know it's not really her. Luke could have hoped for a time that she wasn't really gone, but I know she is."
"I'm sorry for bringing you that sort of pain," Sabè said.
Leia swallowed hard. Sabè sighed and started to go. "Don't, please," Leia called. Sabè turned. "Tell me about her." Sabè smiled a bit and walked over.
Leia watched her daughter as she set the table for their guests. She was nervous and had been shaking so bad when she had tried to help Jaina that the younger woman had told her to go away and get ready then try and relax. Leia didn't know if she could relax. She was going to meet her family. Pooja was bringing her husband and children. And those children were bringing their families. Ryoo to was coming with her husband and family. And they brought a lot of memories with them.
"They are here," Zeth said with a grin as he came into the room. He frowned. "Grandma, you okay?"
Leia looked at her grandson and felt a smile crossing her features. Though it came as a shock to her even still that Kyp was her future son-in-law, she had to admit that she was excited for the day that Blaine and Zeth would be born and she heard those words coming from their mouths for the first time. "I'm fine, just nervous," she said.
Zeth grinned and walked over, giving his grandmother a hug. "Don't be nervous, Grandma, they'll love you," he said. Leia couldn't help but smile at her grandson.
Dinner was going very well a few hours later. The Naberrie sisters were as nervous as Leia had been, and Luke as well. But it all went away when they finally met their family. They were all sitting in the sitting room now, discussing things from Padmè's life, as well as Sola's. They told the Skywalker and Solos about their grandparents, and simply enjoyed their family's company.
"Come with me, love," Soontir whispered in Padmè's ear.
Padmè smiled and rose, her hand slipping into his. Soontir led her outside to the balcony that looked out over the lake. She leaned back into the comfort of his arms. "It's beautiful," she murmured. "I can see why Grandma Padmè loved to come here."
"You see it all the time," Soontir said with a smile. "We grew up here, remember?"
"And it amazes me every time then too," Padmè said, turning in his arms.
Soontir leaned down and kissed her softly, deepening it after a moment. They held each other close. "Love you," he said.
"I love you too," she said softly. She turned in his arms. Soontir wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling her neck gently. "Do you think we'll ever get home?"
Soontir sighed. "Not sure," he said. "Knowing Blaine though, he'll find away."
"Knock, knock," Jaina said as she stuck her head into the study where Blaine had been working a lot. "May I come in?"
"Sure, Mom," Blaine said.
"Did you and your dad have a good talk?" Jaina asked, moving further into the room. She still held all the grace she had at her son's age.
"He didn't tell you?" Blaine said with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes, but I want to hear it from you now," Jaina said, looking at the data pads and what not on the desk in front of her son.
"Yeah, everything is good," Blaine said. "We understand each other now. At least until the next misunderstanding."
"Not on the same level that this was I hope," Jaina said, looking a bit panicked.
"No, I don't think it can get as bad as that," Blaine said. "That was a lot of years of building up."
"Good," Jaina said. She picked up a data pad. "What are you working on?"
"Oh," Blaine said as he rose. He walked over and pressed a button. "I figured out how to get us back to when Zeth, Padmè and Soontir are. But it's gonna take some time to figure out how to get back once we are there."
Jaina bit her lip. "Blaine, you can't change anything," she said softly.
Blaine felt anger flare then die. "Mama?" he questioned.
Jaina reached up and caressed her son's cheek. "It has to happen, honey," she whispered. "It ends the war. It's meant to be."
Blaine lowered his eyes, tears forming. "No," he said.
"I wish it weren't true," Jaina said. "But it is, and if you change how things are meant to happen, it could be devastating to our lives even more."
Padmè walked back into the house, Soontir's hand in hers. "There you two are," Han said.
"Just getting some fresh air," Soontir said.
"And sneaking in a few kisses here and there," Zeth said with a grin.
"Stick it where the Force doesn't shine, big brother," Padmè said with a wrinkled nose.
"How sweet," Jaina said, rolling her eyes.
"Sounds like you and Uncle Jacen, Mom, you tell us that all the time," Zeth said with a grin.
"Figures you'd take after Jacen," Jaina commented to her son.
"Dad, Mom's picking on me," Zeth said with a childish whine and a grin.
"Don't look at me, she'll turn it on me next," Kyp said, earning a laugh from everyone else.
Soontir frowned. "Uncle Wedge, what are you doing here?" he asked.
Han turned and saw Wedge standing in the doorway, looking far too serious. "What's wrong, Wedge?"
"I have some bad news," Wedge said.
"What is it?" Luke said, straightening.
"The Yuuzhan Vong are making a move," Wedge said. "They seem to be planning something big."
"Where?" Leia asked.
Wedge sighed. "They are headed straight for Naboo."
Jaina stood on the balcony outside of the room she shared with Kyp. She glanced out over the lake, the wind blowing through her dark hair. A stray lock blew across her cheek. She pushed it aside and glanced down. There was one thing that had always captivated Jaina since she began her life with her husband, and that was admiring what was right in front of her. It wasn't until lately she had realized at what she had taken for granted, what she had stopped doing. Below her, Blaine stood with Cassa near a willow tree that swayed in the breeze. His strong arms were wrapped around the petite blonde that looked so much like her mother. Jaina leaned on the balcony railing and let out a small sigh. When had her babies grown up? Padmè was engaged and would soon know a pain she was too young to face, yet old enough to cope with. Zeth was practically engaged. The smile that threatened to engulf the beautiful woman's face tugged at the corner's of her mouth. There was a time when she was younger she had envisioned marrying Zekk. Then she had thought perhaps Jag was who she truly was destined for. Yet of the two men, she had in fact pledged her entire life, heart and soul to the young man that had often rolled his eyes at her antics as a child.
Jaina drew her eyes away from Cassa and Blaine. She walked along the balcony over to a lounge chair and sat down. She leaned her head back against the flowered cushion behind her. Her eyelashes fluttered and slid closed. While her body was resting enough, her mind was constantly working. She couldn't help but think of the paths her children's lives were taking. Miranda Quee was the perfect image of her mother in the face, but she had the same dark hair and green eyes of her father, with the strength in the Force her father possessed as well. Often the envy of a lot of girls from school growing up, then at the praxeum, Miranda had only had eyes for Zeth since they were teenagers. Jaina would often watch the two of them together as their romance was blossoming. She knew of course, though the pair tried desperately to hide it. Zeth, despite all his bravado, was a rather shy man that did not like the attention he got. Miranda was very easy going, therefore she didn't care either way how publicly known her relationship with Zeth was. To her, their feelings for each other were perfect and nothing would change that. Whether others knew or not was of no consequence. Jaina smiled to herself. Miranda was definitely the perfect foil for her son.
Feeling the breeze shift ever so slightly, Jaina turned her head to the side. It was apparent by their display moments before that Blaine and Cassa had finally found their way to each other. It had taken so many years, but now it seemed things were going to be all right for them. Jaina was no fool when it came to a lot of the things her children felt. Blaine was, however, the most difficult child to understand or read in the best of times. Though like his father, he wore his heart on his sleeve for the woman he adored. While she never really would admit it to this day, Jaina had always known the depth of Kyp's feelings for her, even when she was dating Jag. She thought, at the time, those feelings would fade and eventually she and Jag would start a life together. Remembering the conversation she had with Kyp after their first date, she knew he was right. Fate played a part in the destiny they had created for themselves, that despite the children going to the past, they would have found their way to one another once and for all. Their destinies were entwined together, and she couldn't even begin to fathom what life would be without Kyp as her husband and soulmate.
Jaina opened her eyes when she felt the weight of a blanket placed around her. The scent she associated with her husband engulfed her senses. She looked up and took his silhouette in. While she could not ascertain every detail of him, she knew from her own vivid memory what the man before her looked like. His hair was loose over his shoulders, the breeze blowing his iron colored strands. He shifted, the moonlight reflecting on the still muscular chest that was smooth and tanned, nary a wrinkle present on his almost flawless skin. A few scars here and there marred the perfect smoothness. A smattering of dark hair ran from his belly button and disappeared beneath the loose fitting black sleep pants he wore. Allowing her dark eyes to travel down, she took in the slim hips and strong thighs, leading down to his calves and down to his feet that were a bit paler than the rest of him. She traveled back up his body, the trip a tad quicker as Kyp knelt beside her.
"You are ogling, love," he said with a wicked grin.
Jaina reached a small hand out and slid her fingers slightly up his bare chest, relishing in the feel of his skin beneath hers. She cupped his neck and tugged him closer. Her supple lips embraced his as they came into contact. She languidly drew her tongue across his lower lip before engaging his with a taste that found her reeling. She tugged him even closer to her as their mouths sealed together more. Jaina felt Kyp place his hand over her waist and near her hip. Kyp's nostrils flared as the kiss deepened even more. He felt his wife's fingers tangle into his hair and hold him to her, only allowing him far enough away for their halting breaths to cool each other's swollen lips. "Baby, what's wrong?" he questioned.
"Don't ever leave me," Jaina said, her voice suddenly catching.
Kyp's hands came up and cupped her face. His eyes almost had to cross, her own hands holding his head close to her. They were trembling in such a way that Kyp would swear that it was almost as if Jaina was afraid to let him go. "I'll never leave you willingly," he whispered.
Jaina moaned and began to pepper his face with kisses. Soon her lips found his again and she kissed him deeply, her tongue caressing his. Jaina pulled him even closer, her arms looping tightly around his neck. They broke apart slowly. Jaina's eyes were glazed over and she found herself crawling into her husband's lap. "Love me," she whispered. "I want you so much."
Kyp's fingers tangled in the silk of her nightgown. He loosened their hold and he felt his body react to the shiver that ran through Jaina's body as his fingers danced along her spine. "As you wish, Goddess." He stood, lifting her into his arms and disappearing back through the double doors that led into their room.
Jag's arms were crossed over his chest as he looked out the window. He glanced over his shoulder to gaze at the petite blonde that lay in his bed. A year ago he never would have imagined that he would be here. He remembered with clarity how he had not trust Tahiri whatsoever. Especially when she was around Jaina. First in his mind was to protect the woman he loved… or thought he loved. Even then he had a small feeling that Jaina and he were not forever. He had tried to avoid that feeling of disappointment, but he couldn't help what he felt for Jaina at the time. Now though, even so soon after their official breakup, it didn't hurt. His eyes focused again on the tiny woman lying in his bed, her blonde hair fanned out beneath her. While he never thought he would ever look at the woman twice, he realized now that he could never look at another.
"Jag?" Tahiri questioned groggily. She lifted her head and looked at him. "What's wrong?"
Jag smiled slightly. He pushed off the window ledge and made his way over. He crawled into bed and wrapped his arm around her waist, laying his head on her flat stomach. "Nothing," he said. "I was just thinking."
Tahiri began to absently stroke his hair. She glanced down at the top of his head. "What were you thinking about?" she asked softly.
Jag's eyes fluttered closed as her hand began to massage at the muscles of his neck, her presence calming him. "About you," he murmured.
Tahiri's hand paused a moment before continuing. "What about me?" she asked.
Jag turned his head and gazed up at her. Tahiri's palm rested against his cheek. "I'm falling in love with you," he whispered. His brow wrinkled. "Is it insane for me to say that already?"
"Only if it's insane for me to tell you that I'm falling in love with you too," Tahiri said. Jag rose and leaned down to her lips. Tahiri's eyes fluttered closed as they shared their first kiss.
Danni fell across Zekk's chest her breath coming in pants. She felt his fingers stroke through her wet blonde tresses. As her breathing slowed, she felt her heart breaking a bit. "Zekk," she said.
"Again already?" Zekk asked, his eyebrow raising.
Danni's eye flashed angrily at him. She slid off him and out of the bed, grabbing for the robe laying on the chair. "Say things like that and you won't make this hard at all," she growled, tying the sash tightly around her slim waist.
Zekk leaned on his elbows, the moonlight streaming through and making his damp, muscled chest glow. "What?" he asked.
Danni crossed her arms in front of her. "I can't do this," she said softly.
"You already did," Zekk pointed out.
"Damn you!" Danni growled. "I can't do this anymore!"
Zekk frowned. He rose easily. Unabashed at his naked form, he strode towards her. "What? Am I not good enough?" he growled. "Remember, love, we are to be wed."
Danni smacked his chest. "Go straight to hell," she snapped. "We deserve better than this!"
"Better than what?!" Zekk demanded. "Better than a roll between the sheets, because apparently we aren't." Zekk lowered his head and glared at her. "You will never be with Jacen, get that through your head."
"You won't ever be with Jaina," Danni growled. "And excuse me if I won't more to a relationship then just a roll between the sheets as you put it."
"It seemed to suit you just fine the past couple weeks," Zekk said. The slap sounded and echoed through his quarters. Zekk's eyes were closed, but he just knew that Danni was looking at him with a seething look on her face.
"Goodbye," Danni spat. She turned quickly and gathered her clothes. She practically ran from her room. Zekk looked after her. His jaw was clenched tightly shut. Danni ran to her own quarters as fast as she could. She didn't expect Zekk to follow her, but she didn't want anyone passing by to see the tears that were streaming down her cheeks. She didn't want to have to answer any questions.
Jacen frowned and turned towards his door. He stretched his hearing a bit, thinking he had heard a faint tap. When the sound came again, louder then before, he walked towards the door and manually opened it. Surprise was evident on his face as she saw Tenel Ka standing outside his room. Under most circumstances it wouldn't seem that odd, but Tenel Ka never looked unsure of anything. The woman that stood before Jacen now was very much unsure.
"May I come in?" Tenel Ka asked after the silence had gone too long.
Jacen shook himself. "Oh. Of course. My apologies."
Tenel Ka stepped into his room and looked around. She noticed that he was much neater now then he had been during their time at the Jedi academy, but there was something about the neatness that screamed Jacen. While everything was picked up, there were still a few things that were not in their place. "I'm not intruding am I?"
Jacen walked over and gathered a few of his shirts from the settee. "Not at all," he said. He gestured. "Would you like to sit down?" Tenel Ka walked over and sat down. She glanced down at her hands, clasped tightly in her lap. A sigh escaped her. "Are you all right, Tenel Ka?" Jacen questioned.
"You know I have never been at a true loss for words," Tenel Ka said. "I might be quiet, but I always seem to know what to say in any given situation. Rarely am I nervous."
"That's a fact," Jacen said with a cheeky grin.
Tenel Ka smiled a bit. If there was anyone that could make her laugh, it was Jacen. Even when they were children and he had tossed out the worst jokes possible, Jacen still managed to make her smile. Though more often then not, Tenel Ka had never let on that Jacen's jokes made her smile, even laugh. Though, admittedly, it was Jacen's mere presence that had always warmed Tenel Ka's heart. Which was why she didn't understand now why she was so hesitant in front of him.
"Tenel Ka?" Jacen questioned. "You keep going silent and it's starting to worry me."
Tenel Ka offered him a small smile. "That is not my intent, my friend." She rose and walked towards the floor to ceiling window that opened out onto a balcony that overlooked the lake. Jacen watched her.
"I remember when we went to the Reef Fortress," Tenel Ka said. She smiled at the memory. "I remember the room I chose for you." She glanced over her shoulder. "And your reaction."
Jacen smiled and rose, walking over to stand beside her. He glanced at her profile, admiring how the moonlight that was coming in through the window glowed off of her face. It illuminated her gorgeous features, giving her a Goddess like quality. Jaina may have been viewed as Yun-Harla, but the woman standing before him was a true Goddess in his eyes. Tenel Ka felt his gaze and turned her gray eyes towards his. "I remember too," he said, his dark eyes caressing her face. "I remember something else we shared, but we've only shared once again." Tenel Ka's memory flashed to a kiss she longed to give to him again. Jacen smiled when he felt her memory shift to the same thing he was thinking of. He stepped closer to her and reached a hand up to gently brush a red braid away from her face. There was a time when they had been the same height, able to look into each other's eyes with ease. Now Jacen stood quite a bit taller and Tenel Ka had to incline her head back to look at him. It was the perfect invitation, her lips tilted towards his. Jacen took advantage of the position and lowered his head to hers. Their lips brushed together, sending jolts through them both.
Jacen turned his body to face her more and his right hand cupped her jawline as his left cupped her neck. He slanted his mouth slightly and teased her upper lip with his tongue before slipping into the warm recess of her mouth to taste her. Tenel Ka's hand slid up his chest to tangle in the hair at the base of his neck, her face tilting to angle their mouths closer together. A moan escaped Tenel Ka's throat as Jacen deepened the kiss even further, his lips moving ever so slightly to massage hers. They broke apart, their breath coming in hot gasps that fanned their lips. Jacen looked down at her and felt his body instantly respond to hers. Her breasts were pressed to his chest and he was acutely aware of how hard she was breathing. Her lips were red and swollen from his kisses. They were parted as she took air in. When she raised her normally cool gray eyes to his, they were dark with passion that was just flowing off of her through the Force. He suddenly felt her fingers tighten in his hair, motioning him to kiss her again.
"If I kiss you again, I won't stop there," Jacen said, his voice husky with passion. "I can't stop there."
Tenel Ka stood on tiptoe and nipped his lips. "I don't want you to." Jacen quickly lowered his head and claimed her lips hotly as he sent them both spiraling into a passionate oblivion.
Savong Tusa felt himself being pulled out of the dim reality of his slumber. Eyes cracking open to view the surroundings of his living quarters, the warmaster sent a pledge to the Gods and straightened. He slid his hand into the cognitaive hood that engaged the door to fold open and he stepped out into the hallway. He raised his head in egotistical defiance and began to purposefully stride to the warroom where he knew he was going to please the Gods with his duty. He may die in the process, but he knew that the Gods would bestow their light upon him.
As the warmaster walked into the warroom, he took pride in how those beneath him, the ones that the Gods had not deemed worthy enough to attain his status as quickly as he had, practically cowered in his presence. There were a few that felt they were better then he was and tried to be defiant in front of him. A withering glance in their direction sent them cowering just as the others were.
"When will we engage the infidels?" Savong asked.
"We are to embrace our Gods during the engagement in forty eight hours." Savong's only response was a feral grin.
Jag felt his body jerk awake. A frown marred his features as he tried to think of what possibly could have brought him out of his sleep. He glanced to his side and found his wife gone. Leaning up on his elbows, the blanket falling away from his bare chest, he glanced around. He finally noticed her sitting in the rocking chair near the glass doors that led out to their balcony. He threw the covers aside and rose to his feet. He padded over to where she was sitting. He looked down on her sleeping face and felt his heart warm. Except for the wrinkles around the scars she had received from her attempted conversions, she seemed to be peacefully sleeping.
Jag knelt beside her. He reached his hand out and placed it on her swollen stomach. He had made sure to have her rest as much as she could the past few weeks since Soontir, Padmè and Zeth had gone to the past. He knew that the inevitable was tearing her apart. He was worried both for her and the baby she carried. She was so close to giving birth that he was scared she was going to put too much stress on herself and cause her to go into labor. He was already going to lose a son, he was not prepared for the thought that he would lose his wife and his unborn child as well. A nagging thought came to mind, a memory unbidden that he couldn't grasp. It would come to him eventually, but for now he needed to think of Tahiri's health, and the health of their baby.
"I'm fine," Tahiri whispered, breaking into his thoughts.
"No you aren't," Jag said.
Tahiri watched her husband, seeing the concern on his handsome face. They had pretty much closed themselves off to everyone but their children. Jag, especially, had made sure that all of the older kids and himself were looking after Tahiri in turn with watching the younger children. Tahiri had gone into a fit of hysterics the day before. She was crying so hard that she could hardly catch her breath. It had scared Mikael incredibly, the young man rushing to find his father because he didn't know what to do. Tahiri had wanted to find her son after she had calmed down to assure him she was fine, but he was with Teneniel. The future Queen Mother had never seen her fiancé in such a state and had made sure he was away from his other siblings, as well as her own, while she calmed him down.
"What are you thinking about?" Jag asked. He stood and picked Tahiri up. He sat down in the rocking chair, cradling her to his chest. Tahiri had teased him the first time he had done this, when she was days away from delivering Soontir. She was too heavy, she had told him at the time. Jag said she was not heavy at all. Despite having the added weight of their child inside of her, her petite frame easily folded into his strong one. It had become a ritual since then. Even when she wasn't pregnant, Jag and Tahiri's favorite pastime was to sit here together in the rocking chair, watching the stars twinkle above them.
"I was thinking of Mikael," Tahiri whispered. She turned her head and buried her face in his shoulder. "I scared him so much yesterday."
"He's a strong man," Jag said. "But he's always adored his mother, and seeing you like that…"
"I know," she whispered. A tear escaped and splashed onto Jag's hand that was covering her pregnant belly. All Jag could do was hold her, his lips pressing a kiss to her cheek, hoping his presence would ease some of her growing pain.
In Teneniel's room, Mikael's eyes fluttered close as he felt his mother's pain. The Hapan princess sensed his slight withdrawal and turned to look at him. She was sitting at her vanity, brushing her long auburn colored hair before plaiting it in a long braid. She glanced over her shoulder and watched him, thinking of her conversation earlier with her sister and brother. T'cha's and Prescon had insisted Teneniel concentrate on Mikael. The normally excitable, energetic man had practically gone catatonic since Tahiri's breakdown. T'cha's and Prescon had told their sister that they would look after their younger brothers, that she needn't worry about that.
Teneniel rose to her feet and padded her way over to the bed and sat beside Mikael. "Love?" she questioned.
"Mom is hurting because of me," he murmured. Teneniel laid down beside him, her fingers reaching out to caress his face. "She is hurting enough because of Soontir, and I am adding to her pain."
"Every mother feels pain when their child does," Teneniel said. "We are more acutely aware of it on both sides because we are Force users."
"I just can't believe that he's going to die," Mikael whispered.
Teneniel felt tears form. "There's…" she cleared her throat a bit. "There's really nothing we can do?"
Mikael looked at her. "Blaine told you that he can get us to the past, didn't he?" he asked. She nodded. "Aunt Jaina talked to him, and she said that even going back, there is nothing we can do. Soontir is the reason the war ends. As much as it pains all of us, he has to die for the rest of us to live." A tear slid down his cheek. "I have to lose my big brother so that I can live my life." He snapped the covers back and rose.
"Mikael?" Teneniel questioned. A small scream escaped her as Mikael slammed his fist into the marble wall in her room. A grunt of pain escaped him and his hand was already swelling from the impact.
"Why the Sith am I so important, the rest of us, that we have to lose Soontir?" he questioned. Mikael's body was trembling almost violently.
Teneniel couldn't move until the banging started on her door. She looked and quickly rose. "Open up, Teneniel!" Jag's panicked voice called.
"Daddy, Uncle Jag," Teneniel said, shocked she hadn't felt her father's presence with Jag.
Jag moved past Teneniel and strode over to his son, slowing as he saw that he was basically okay, despite the swollen left hand. "What did you do?"
"Fit of emotion," Mikael ground out. He looked away.
"Your mother felt it, she's terrified," Jag said.
"Dad, she's been terrified all her life," Mikael ground out. "What the hell are we doing all this for?" He glared at his father. "Why did you two even bother having him if he was just going to die?"
Jag stiffened sharply. Jacen placed a hand on his shoulder. "You don't understand at all, do you Mikael?" Jacen asked softly.
"I understand I am going to lose my brother soon, and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it," Mikael spat out.
"If it wasn't for the time paradox, your brother's death never would have led to any of this," Jacen said. "I don't know how to explain it so that it all makes sense, but because of some freak time loop, in order for everything to turn out correctly, the way destiny designed, Soontir has to end the war. And it costs him his life to do so."
"But why?" Mikael asked in a broken voice, sounding like a small child. "It's only tearing us all apart. Mama's so heartbroken that I worry she's going to die. Cassa and I have both been in fits trying to keep the other's calm during all of this, and it's not working one iota." He looked at his father, nothing but a shadow of his former self. "I don't want to be the oldest. I don't want to lose my big brother." Jag eased forward and caught his son as he collapsed against him. Mikael's sobs began to echo through the room. Teneniel felt her father's arms come around her, keeping her from rushing to her fiancé's side. She knew that this was a time that Jag and Mikael needed together.
Wedge stood in the large dining room of the lake house, looking outside, admiring the sun's early rays glowing over the new day. He had to admit that this was something he could revel in. The sunrise was not this beautiful on Mon Calamari, and there had never been this kind of radiance in the false light of Coruscant. Seeing the natural beauty and the minimum amount of technology, he could almost understand the need that the Yuuzhan Vong had to rid the galaxy of a place like Coruscant. Coruscant had been nothing but technology and structures. Though he couldn't agree with the terms in which they had used.
"You seem to be thinking far too much my dear brother," Syal said from behind Wedge. He glanced over his shoulder at her. "What's wrong?"
"The Yuuzhan Vong keep attacking wherever they deem necessary," Wedge said. "I'm not sure whether to be apprehensive about the fact they are targeting Naboo or to feel it is to our advantage."
"How so?" Syal asked, settling into a chair.
"They have the possibility right here, if we hadn't found out about their invasion, that they could wipe out the majority of the major people in this entire war. The trickster Goddes, a few of the Jedi they can't kill, Jag being the pilot he is, Leia and Han, the head of the Jedi Council and his wife, a formidable Jedi Master, their failed experiment basically in Tahiri that poses one of the largest threats, the Queen Mother that is willing to offer the services of her entire consortium, it's rather frightening in a sense," Wedge said.
"And the advantage part?" Syal asked.
"Unless they somehow tracked them here, the Vong have no way of knowing that the same people they could have killed that pose the largest threat to them, are here," Wedge said. "That throws the advantage to us because we can stop the assault they thought they could possibly succeed in."
"They could still succeed," Syal pointed out. "I wouldn't want them to, of course, my son, and it appears my future daughter-in-law and grandson would be in the midst of the battle, but the presence of the core fighters here does not mean we will succeed. That Naboo will not fall."
"No, but the odds are much better that Naboo will never fall like the rest of the systems have merely because we have a heads up," Wedge said.
Syal rose and hugged her brother close. "I hope I can be as optimistic as you the day the battle comes."
Wedge sighed. "To be honest, Syal, I hope I can too."
Padmè woke, a frown etching into her brow. She lifted her head, feeling Soontir's presence near her room. She threw the covers back and rose. She pulled a robe on over her nightgown and she pad in barefeet to the door. Opening it, she glanced around before stepping into the hallway. She walked in the direction where she felt Soontir's presence like a beacon of light directing it's way towards her. She eased around the corner and stared at the man before her. Soontir was staring out over the landscape, the wind ruffling the loose edges of his shirt.
"I couldn't sleep," Soontir said, sensing Padmè behind him.
Padmè made her way over and ran her small hands up his back. She pressed her cheek to his shoulder, her arms winding around his waist. "What's on your mind?" she whispered.
"I just keep thinking that we won't get a chance to have our wedding," Soontir said.
"Don't say that," Padmè whispered. Soontir turned and looked into her stricken face. "We'll be married."
Soontir reached up and caressed her cheek. "I want to be married to you now," he said. "All that is on my mind is making love to you right now, but we made a promise to each other."
Padmè stepped closer and reached up to cup his face, her tiny fingers running along his lip. "We'll up the wedding once we find a way to get home," she said.
"I want to marry you now," Soontir said. He leaned down, his lips pressing to her forehead. "I want you to be my wife. Now. Tonight."
"How?" Padmè asked. "We would need witnesses, and we'd need to find someone to marry us."
Soontir closed his eyes and reached out through the Force. "Uncle Zekk and Aunt Danni are still awake, so is Sabè. She would know where we could find someone to marry us. And maybe Uncle Zekk and Aunt Danni can be our witnesses?"
"You really want to do this tonight?" Padmè asked.
"Yes," Soontir said.
Padmè eased up onto her toes and pressed a kiss to his lips. "I'll go talk to Aunt Danni, you ask Uncle Zekk and Sabè." Soontir nodded, pressing another kiss to her lips, one that was deeper this time.
Padmè knocked on the frame of the door, alerting Danni to her presence. "Oh, hi Padmè," she said. Danni pushed a lock of blonde hair over her shoulder, pulling her jacket closer around her. "You are up late."
"Soontir couldn't sleep, woke me up," Padmè said. "I was wondering if you would do us a favor?"
"I can try," Danni said.
Padmè walked over and sat in front of her. "Soontir is having a bad feeling that we won't get to have our wedding," she said. "So he wants to get married now."
"Tonight?" Danni asked. She looked at the chrono. "It's rather late, how will you find someone to marry you tonight?"
"He's asking Sabè if she knows anyone," Padmè said. "We were wondering if you would be willing to stand up as a witness for us."
"You don't want either of your parents to do it?" Danni asked.
"You are up," Padmè said with a smile. "We didn't want to disturb anyone that is asleep."
"Then I'm glad that I couldn't sleep," Danni said with a smile. "I'd be honored to be a witness for the two of you." Padmè smiled brightly.
Padmè and Soontir stood before the minister. While the man said the words that would link them for all eternity, the young lovers were oblivious to everything but themselves. They were even oblivious to the tense waves flowing off of Danni and Zekk. Zekk and Soontir had gone ahead of the two women to the minister. Zekk and Danni had been surprised, and a little wary, when they had realized they were to stand up for Soontir and Padmè. Danni did everything she could to avoid looking at Zekk, their parting too fresh in her mind. The words they had exchanged had not been pleasant, and Danni had taken to avoiding everyone around the lake house. She couldn't bear to see Jacen and Tenel Ka looking so happy together now, and she didn't wish to see how close Kyp and Jaina, as well as, Jag and Tahiri were growing. It was like a knife in her heart each time. Even seeing the older couples together pained her.
Zekk, however, couldn't keep his eyes off of Danni. No matter what he said to her, he couldn't deny what his heart was already feeling. When she had walked out, it made him ache even more than when he had realized he would never have Jaina. He had spent the better part of the next day drowning his sorrows in the best liquor he could find on Naboo. While nursing the hangover, he realized why he ached so much. His attention was drawn back to the ceremony.
"Visona, predio. Oskio preskania fracio, merficia, restlanskia," the minister said. He looked at Soontir. "Pario dremsiki arneia." He smiled. "You may kiss your bride." Soontir turned and smiled at Padmè. He lowered his head and caught her lips with his. Her fingers tangled in his hair as she held her new husband's face to hers.
Danni smiled at the couple. She eased away from them and hurried towards the entrance of the sanctuary, leaving them alone. Zekk hurried after her. "Danni, wait," he said.
Danni didn't listen as she continued down the pathway once she left the sanctuary. The breeze drifted through her long blonde locks. Zekk got closer and caught her arm. "Wait, please," Zekk said.
"Why?" Danni asked, not looking at him. "So you can yell at me again?" She looked up, blinking away tears that were forming. "I know I'm not good enough…"
"No, don't," Zekk said. "I'm sorry for what I said."
Danni shook her head, turning away from him. "I won't be second best."
"You aren't," Zekk said. Danni pulled her arm away and started walking again. "Danni, I love you."
Slowly the blonde scientist turned. "What?"
Zekk moved closer to her. "I love you," he said. "I was the glaxay's biggest nerherder for what I said to you. Especially since I really didn't mean it."
"Then why say it?" Danni asked. "You tore me apart doing that."
"I didn't think you cared about me," Zekk said.
"Not care about you?" Danni asked. "I fell in love with you while we were together. Your words tore my heart out more than anything Jacen could have ever done. Walking away from you after what you said was the hardest thing I ever did."
"Then don't go again," Zekk said. He gave her a boyish half smile. "I don't want you to leave."
"What you said really hurt me, Zekk," Danni said, her voice cracking. She blinked a few times. As she glanced up, a tear escaped. "If things don't go perfectly, will you say those words again?"
Zekk reached out and cupped her face with both of his hands. "I'd rather stab myself with my lightsaber then to ever hurt you again," he whispered. He leaned down and brushed an open mouthed kiss across her mouth. "I love you, Danni. I don't ever want to imagine my life without you from now on."
A slow smile graced her face as she slid her arms around his waist. "I love you, Zekk." Their lips came together in a sweet kiss.
Zekk wrapped his arms around Danni. She was staring out of the window of their bedroom. "What are you thinking about?" he whispered into her ear.
"The wedding," Danni said. She turned her head and pressed a kiss to his jawline. "I have wanted to tell them every day for the past twenty six years, but I know that we can't."
"It's not our story to tell, love," Zekk said. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "It's run through my mind a few times as well. But Padmè said she would tell them. Only she can give them that news."
Tears slid down Danni's cheeks as Zekk held her tighter. "I wish things could be different," she whispered.
"I do too."
Kyp walked up behind Jaina. The brunette stood, staring out over the lake. Her eyes however kept darting upwards towards the sky, as if trying to look past the haze into the blackness of space where an impending battle was brewing. "They'll be coming soon," she whispered.
Kyp's hands cupped her shoulders and moved to begin massaging the tight muscles he encountered. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss against a sensitive spot of skin just below her earlobe. "We'll make it through, love," he whispered against her ear.
Jaina's eyes fluttered close as she leaned back against him. She turned her head and leaned her temple against his lips. Deep brown eyes fluttered opened to look at Kyp over her shoulder. Her fingers came up to caress the stubbled skin along his jawline. "Kyp," she murmured. She turned more to face him. "I love you."
"You aren't just saying…"
"No, I'm not," Jaina said. She turned in his arms completely and reached a hand up to caress his cheek. "I love you. I'm pretty sure now I always have." She felt a sad smile forming. "I'm a fool for every harsh word I ever said to you."
Kyp's hands cupped her face. "You are never a fool," he whispered. "Misled, needing to spread your wings to become the woman you are, but never a fool." He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I would wait to the end of time for you, and if you had asked me to I would face a thousand rancors with just my fists to prove my love to you."
Jaina shook her head, her fingers closing around his wrists. "All you have to do to prove your love is show me every day how much I mean to you," she whispered.
"I'd do that a million times over and over for all of eternity," Kyp said. "As long as you'll have me."
Jaina bestowed a beautiful smile on him. "I'll have you always, Kyp Durron. Marry me. I need you in my life forever."
Kyp gave her a wide grin. "Aren't I supposed to ask you to marry me?"
"I'm being untraditional," Jaina said. "And I'm not letting you get away from me before you have a chance to rethink your decision."
"I would never rethink this," Kyp said. He nuzzled her hair as he drew her closer to him. "But yes, I will marry you." Jaina leaned up and pressed her mouth to his. Kyp's eyes fluttered closed, his eyelashes brushing against her cheekbones as he pulled her body flush to his. His tongue licked at her lower lip and slid into her mouth when her lips parted to his quest. She slanted her mouth even more and their mouths melded together even more, both getting lost in oblivion.
Soontir pressed a kiss to Padmè's bare shoulder. Padmè sighed softly as she turned her head towards him. A mild smile made her face glow in the aftermath of their lovemaking. "I love you," Padmè murmured. She reached her hand up and toyed with the band around his ring finger. "We'll make it, won't we?"
"Oskio Preskania Fracio," Soontir murmured.
Padmè frowned. "That is what's on the headstone back home."
"It was also used during our wedding," Soontir said. "So I asked the minister what it meant." His fingers were tracing lazy patterns of her bare back.
"And?" Padmè asked, arching to his touch.
"It means love will conquer," Soontir said. He moved up closer to her and kissed her deeply. "Oskio preskania fracio."
Padmè's eyes closed and her fingers caressed his scalp. "Oskio preskania fracio," she murmured against his lips before his kisses and caresses rid her mind of every other thought but those of him.
Savong Tusa had his arms clasped behind his back as he stared at the moving wall in front of him. Tendrils reached out to greet him, caressing his face lightly. "My love," he murmured, stroking a tendril. Love was a weakness amongst the Yuuzhan Vong, but there were times when feelings of affection were needed, and honored. When a warmaster loved his ship, it was honored. Savong Tusa's relationship with his own ship was most definitely honored.
"Your love for this ship will be your undoing," a female voice hissed behind him. He turned to see Nen Lasko behind him. At one time smitten with the budding shaper, now, Savong Tusa despised the sight of her, and at the same time he found his body reacting in a very male response.
"My love is honored," Savong Tusa said, stepping closer to her. The tendrils of his ship reached out for him, a barbed end catching across his bare, scarred back, creating a long gash that ran deeply to the bend of his back at his waist. Blood welled and ran from the wound as he moved over to Nen Lasko. The warmaster hauled the shaper to his body and his clawed nails dug into her shoulders, gouging the living material on her and biting into the skin beneath. Nen Lasko's own hands traveled to his back and began to create small cuts in the skin before she began to caress lightly, spreading the blood from his wounds around.
With a harsh nip to his neck, Nen Lasko spoke. "Honored it may be, but it will ultimately destroy you."
Savong Tusa's hand tangled into the tendrils attached to her head and yanked back hard, exposing her neck. His lips found her neck and he bit her harshly, his sharp teeth drawing blood, the liquid welling around his lips. "As I will destroy you with it." Harsh heated passion blazed through them both as the living ship cried out in betrayal as it witnessed their coupling.
Blaine studied the data pad in front of him, the only light illuminating the room was the screen of the larger console at his desk. His dark green eyes lingered on the information he had gathered over the past few weeks. A debate had been warring inside of him since his mother told him that nothing they did could change what was meant to happen. His finger hovered over the delete button. Blaine lowered his hand and leaned his head back. His throat convulsed as he swallowed hard, emotion suddenly welling inside of him.
"Blaine?" Cassa asked sleepily from the door of his office. "You okay?"
"I don't know what to do," Blaine confided after a few moments of silence.
Cassa eased into the room and padded over to his side, her bare feet lightly patting the floor as she went. She reached a small hand out and stroked back the dark hair that had fallen onto his forehead. "About what?"
Blaine opened his eyes and looked at her. "The data I found," he said. He waved a hand at the pad he put on his desk. "I don't know if I should delete it and forget about it, or what."
"You'd never be able to forget about it," Cassa said. "You know that as much as I do."
"I just don't know what to do about it, though," Blaine said. He rose and walked over to the balcony windows. He stared at the moon high above. "Mom's told me that I… we can't do anything about what has to happen. It would mean everything we know would be destroyed. So what good is the information to us?"
"It would at least get us Zeth and Padmè back," Cassa said sadly. She walked over and stood beside him, looking up into his handsome face. "Soontir would want that at least."
"It so easy for us to say what he wants when he's not here to tell us," Blaine said softly.
"If he were here to tell us, then things wouldn't be how they are supposed to be," Cassa said. Blaine looked down at her. "We've come to grips with it. At least most of us have, despite how painful the idea is."
Blaine reached a hand up and ran it lovingly down her cheek. "You shouldn't have to."
Cassa swallowed hard, both at the tenderness of his touch and the truth of his words. "I know," she whispered. She stepped closer to him, letting his strong arms engulf her in am embrace. "But it's necessary so we know how to move on when the time comes."
"So you are still going to insist on going to the past?" Jaina questioned her son. Blaine was currently working on setting up the system that would send him to the past to retrieve his sister and brother.
"Mom, I may not be able to change what happens to Soontir, but I won't leave Padmè and Zeth in the past," Blaine said. He looked at his mother. "Padmè is going to need us."
Jaina sighed and rose. She walked over and began to toy with the calculations her son had put into the system. "This might make the ride easier," she explained after a moment.
Blaine leaned down and pressed a kiss to his mother's cheek. "Thanks, Mom."
Kyp had found that he couldn't sleep. The Force was weighing heavily on him as the time for battle drew closer and closer. Sleep had been evading Kyp more often than it wasn't, and he had found himself wandering the halls of the lake house the past couple nights. He was trying to keep from thinking of the battle too often, but there were times when he couldn't help his mind's wanderings. He and Jaina had been enjoying each other's company, more often then not finding time to spend alone with one another, but it didn't seem enough. They were getting married, but a feeling of dread kept running through Kyp's body. Despite knowing that he had both Jaina's heart, soul and her hand to marry her, something still felt missing almost.
"You are thinking too much," a sweet voice said from behind him. Kyp turned and watched Jaina walk closer to him. She looked up and her dark eyes blinked at the intensity within his own dark depths. "Kyp, what is it?"
Kyp let out a shuddering sigh and pulled her into his embrace, his chin resting atop her head. "Just a bad feeling."
"No, no bad feelings," Jaina said pulling away slightly. She blinked up at him, her eyes filling with tears. "I don't want anything to pull us apart…"
"Oh baby," Kyp said, hauling her body to his. "Nothing is going to pull us apart."
"I can't let you go, I won't let you go," Jaina said. Kyp caught her face with his hands. He lowered his head and brushed a kiss across her lips. Her mouth parted and she felt Kyp's tongue stroke hers as he delved into the depths. Jaina pulled her head back. "Make love to me."
Kyp's thumb stroked her cheekbone. "Are you sure?" he questioned, his voice gravely from the intensity of their kiss.
"Yes," Jaina said. She brushed his lips with hers. "Make love to me." Kyp didn't need to be told twice. He lifted her slim frame into his arms and made his way down the hall, their rooms side by side. He punched a code into the door and walked through when it opened. He let Jaina slide down the front of his body, catching his lips in a strong kiss that washed away any doubts he might have had. His hand slapped the frame of his door haphazardly as he searched for the control panel. He finally found it, slapping his hand to it, and the doors closed on them with a soft schnik sound.
Jaina stroked Kyp's dark hair, his head pillowed on her breasts, his arm possessively around her waist. The fingers of her other hand stroked his upper arm, running along the line of a scar on his bicep. She leaned forward a bit and pressed a kiss to his head, feeling his fingers curl along her side. A moan escaped her throat when Kyp turned his head and pressed a kiss between the valley of her breasts, his lips lingering as he felt her heart beating beneath her skin. Jaina's fingers tangled in his hair as he looked up, his dark eyes looking into hers deeply.
"I love you," Kyp murmured.
Jaina smiled, her fingers trailing lightly down his cheeks to toy with his lips. "I know." Kyp smiled and moved up her body to caress her lips with his again, their bodies coming together again.
Tahiri jerked awake, startling the man beside her. Jag blinked a few times in the dark and frowned. "Tahiri?" he questioned groggily.
"Bad dream," Tahiri murmured. She laid her head back down, nuzzling against the warm skin covering the strong muscles. She felt them bunch beneath her cheek as Jag shifted and lifted her chin.
"That was more than a bad dream," Jag said.
"I… I just… it was so real," Tahiri said, her brow wrinkling.
Jag pushed a few stray locks of blonde hair from her forehead. "Talk to me."
"I dreamt that Soontir died," Tahiri said. "Both of them. Not just your father, but… our son as well."
Jag's frowned deepened as he pulled her even closer to him, her body on top of his as he stared into her green eyes. "We won't let that happen."
Tahiri bit her lip, her hair creating a curtain around them. "I don't know if we can stop it," she said. She laid across his chest and buried her face in the crook of his neck, her lips pressed to his skin. Jag didn't have words to express what he felt at that moment. He tightened his hold on her, burying his face in her hair.
Nen Lasko watched with a bitter taste in her mouth as Savong relished in the feel of his ship's tentacles caressing his bare skin. She turned her head away, willing the emotional feelings she had for him to go away. She slapped a tentacle away when it tried to reach for her. Her obsidian gaze turned to the warmaster, anger boiling in her gut at the mere thought of what he was and what he was going to do.
"Tenderness is required," Savong said, his sharp talon like fingers closing around her neck. "You will show it."
"This is your ship, not mine," Nen spat. "I am required to show nothing of the sort."
Savong snapped her head back, biting into her lips then licking the blood away. "You will show tenderness if you wish to continue to feel my affections," he growled.
"Affections?!" Nen growled, she yanked her head back, a large clump of it remaining in his hand. She snarled at him and launched her body at his, straddling his waist. Her hips rolled against his, the razor like additions on the inside of her thighs sliced his already scarred skin. "Some affections, when your ship cries out in betrayal."
Savong's hand closed around her throat. "My affections to you are nothing that she should worry about," he growled. He came up quickly, his fingers pricking the skin of her throat. "You are nothing compared to her." He shoved her off of him. "Remember that." A growl escaped her throat as their violent mating began again.
Flaxon alarms began to go off around the house. Jaina jerked awake, her dark gaze colliding with Kyp's. They rose quickly and both dressed, grabbing what little gear they both had. They made a quick stop at Jaina's room so she could gather her things, and they disappeared down the hall. Padmè and Soontir emerged soon after, hurrying in the same direction as her parents. When they turned the corner that led into the large dining room that had been turned into a meeting room, they met with Zeth. He had as determined a look on his face as Kyp did.
"The fleet's arrived," Wedge said grimly. "War is about to begin."
"It's going to end here," Jag said. His hard green gaze met Zekk, Jacen and Kyp's. All three of them nodded. Luke looked on, a frown furrowing his brow. The next generation in fighters and Jedi were determining the end, or at least the turn, much like Endor had been for him once upon a time.
"It's their fight now," Han murmured behind him.
"It's still our fight," Luke said. "It just means more to them the way Endor meant more for us."
"You do have Ben to fight for now," Han reminded him.
"I do, but the same could be said for the future for your children," Luke said, glancing at him. "No. They have visual proof of what to fight for." His gaze turned to where Padmè, Soontir and Zeth stood. The children to come were on his mind as he watched the three. Soon his blue gaze drifted to the respective couples that would bare said children.
Zekk stood close to Danni, his arm drifting close to her as if to enfold her close if she needed him. Kyp and Jaina were blindingly close through the Force, their Force signatures melding in a way even more than his own link with Mara. Jacen and Tenel Ka had their heads bent towards each other as they spoke, the light catching the red strands of Tenel Ka's hair as she moved closer to Jacen, his dark head bent to listen to what the Queen Mother had to say. Tahiri turned and gazed up at Jag, his thumb caressing her jawline. Indeed he had Ben and Mara each to fight for, and Han had Leia and his kids to fight for, but this was definitely the younger generation's fight. They had a future hanging in the balance now, and nothing was going to stop them from finding the destiny they so richly deserved.
"You aren't going," Kyp said as he grabbed his helmet. He glanced at the indignant look on Padmè and Zeth's faces. "Look, the last thing we need is to see our children killed before we even have them."
"But Dad, we need to do this," Zeth said. "We can't just sit back when we could possibly die anyways, we need to do something."
"You don't need to do anything," Kyp said. "This is our fight."
"It's our fight too," Padmè interjected. "Dad, we may be stuck here for the rest of our lives, with no way to return to our time. So essentially, we have to fight for our future too."
"I won't sit idly by and see my children put themselves in danger," Kyp said.
"That's our choice, we are adults," Zeth pointed out.
"Besides, once you take off, we'll just sneak into our X-wings and join the battle, so stop fighting us," Padmè said.
Kyp sighed. He shook his head. "You are definitely your mother's daughter."
"Twin Suns, check in," Jaina said over her comlink. One by one each of her pilots called in, letting them know they were ready to roll into battle. She glanced to the side. Jag was climbing into his clawcraft, the only member of Twin Suns that hadn't checked in, but realization dawned that he was leading Vanguard this time. Her eyes shifted and she saw Kyp talking briefly with a few of his pilots before pulling his lean frame up the ladder and settling into his X-wing. He looked over and winked at her. Jaina tried to smile reassuringly, but she couldn't find the strength to do so.
"What's wrong, baby?" Kyp's smooth voice came over their private channel.
"We've been waiting for this day since the beginning of the invasion," Jaina said. "But I feel… at a loss somehow."
"So far your entire adult life has been wrapped up in this war," Kyp said. "Do you know what is going to be next?"
"We've seen what the future holds for us, Kyp," Jaina said.
"Marriage and children is only one facet of our lives," Kyp said. "Will you continue to be a fighter pilot or something else?"
"I don't know," Jaina admitted. "It came down to living day by day instead of thinking so far in the future." She glanced over and saw him watching her. "Come back to me."
"Pony up." Wedge's voice came over the com broadcast.
Jaina throttled her X-wing, and soon they were entering the cold stars of space. Indecisevness that was her future was pushed to the back of her mind as she let the officer and pilot in her take over. "Twin Suns, follow my lead," she said. Clicking coms were her acknowledgement. Each squadron arranged themselves into four shield trios. Normally a minimal amount of chatter could be heard through the various com channels before a commanding officer called a halt, to keep the frequencies clear when the battle began, but the silence was almost unnerving. Tension was high and everyone could feel it.
Jaina growled, not able to take it anymore. "Okay, Suns, listen up, this has got to end," she said.
"One?" one of her pilots questioned over the com unit.
"We need to stay frosty so we can engage the enemy, but if we are wound too tight, we are going to make some fatal mistakes out there," Jaina said. "This silence is deafening, and we all need to burn it up, got it?"
"Enemy sighting, blips are starting to slam our sensors," Jacen said from the X-wing he was flying.
"Remember what I said, Suns," Jaina said, throttling a little forward to take the lead. "We're the unconventional squad, remember?"
"Does this mean we can get rid of the cheeky flight suits and wear tutus instead?" Piggy asked over his calm.
"I'm surprised you didn't wear your footy pajamas, Piggy," another pilot commented.
"I wore those yesterday, thank you very much," Piggy retorted. Jaina couldn't help the smile that crossed her features. That was much better.
"Coralskippers headed our way, starboard," Twin Suns Two commented.
"Evasive maneuvers, take them out," Jaina said, rolling to the side as she depressed the trigger of her weapons.
"Watch your back, One, we can't lose you," Piggy said.
"Coming in, Suns One, I got you covered, Goddess," Jag's voice came over the frequency.
"Thanks Vanguard," Jaina said.
"I'll cash in some day," Jag joked.
"Tahiri might object," Jaina teased him. Jag chuckled over the com.
"Vanguard, you have a skip trailing you," Jacen said.
Jag grit his teeth. "I see him," he growled. Jag sharply angled his control stick, rolling his clawcraft dizzily before straightening. He looped up and around, coming around to face the skip, depressing the trigger to blast it. He winced when he heard a wailing scream over his com frequency. "What the hell was that?"
"They've tapped into our transmission somehow," Kyp said. "Heard that ship screaming from the blast."
"Ignore it, it's a ploy to throw us off," Wedge said. "Keep to the drill." He pressed a button, his hand held com connecting to Jaina's.
Jaina raised her eyebrow and quickly grabbed the beeping item from her dashboard. "Solo here."
"Keep your eyes peeled, Jaina," Wedge said. "This is assault is a lot like Borealis when they tried to eliminate you. They are going to be after you and Jacen both, at least to capture if not kill."
"I won't sit back and just let them win this, Wedge," Jaina said.
"I didn't say you had to, just be careful, let the Force guide you," Wedge said. "Use the talents you have that the Vong can't use against you."
Jaina glanced around. Her eyebrow rose slightly when she saw the large Yuuzhan Vong vessel approaching her trajectory. "Suns, cover me," she said. She throttled forward.
"What the--," Padmè said in her X-wing. She slapped her com board. "Zeth, Soontir, mom's gonna commit suicide if she engages that ship!"
Soontir looked around, noticing that the skips were flaking off one by one as they tried to take on some of the larger vessels. He glanced to the left, noticing more ships were emerging from the distance of space, larger, more menacing. "Force help us," he murmured.----
Before the entire Alliance fleet were four large worldships, the closet ship slowly spreading as the tentacles opened, releasing a maraud of coralskippers. A-wings and B-wings of the fleet began to dodge and weave amongst the additions, dodging the plasma bursts as best they could. Jaina pressed her chin against her helmet's microphone stud.
"Command, we have incoming on both starboard and port."
"Roger that, Twin Suns Leader," Wedge's voice said over the com. "Engage on my mark. Three, two one." Jaina throttled her x-wing forward. Out of the corner of her eye, she was able to see Jag's familiar clawcraft and Kyp's X-wing flanking her on both sides.
"Dozen Lead, Vanguard Lead, set up old style, see if we can draw their fire away from the larger part of the fleet," Jaina said.
"Copy that, Twin Suns," Jag said.
"Gotcha, sweetheart," Kyp's warm voice said in her ear, bringing a small smile to her face. Each ship was currently engaged with coralskippers in small firefights. As they had done when they were in Twin Suns together, the pilot trio swooped and swerved around advancing skippers.
"Bring it, Jaina," Kyp finally said. The two fell into the familiar force bond they shared, their minds merging. Together they fired at the closest worldship, Jag shortly after them. A tentacle that was separating from the ship was immobilized when it was struck by the three blasts.
"Good job, Leads," Wedge said. "Come back into the fray."
"Damn!" Padmè cursed over the comlink. "I've got a skip on my tail!" She pushed the throttle of her X-wing forward, the ship jumping up. With a quick spin she learned under Jag's tutelage she dove through a patch of coralskippers, trying to evade the skip that was shooting plasma at her.
"Got you covered, Little Bit," Zeth said. Padmè saw his X-wing out of the corner of her eye, and the skip tailing her spun out of control past her, the ship finally breaking in half from the pressure of the spin. It's two halves collided with a pair of coralskippers on an intercepting course towards the two Durrons.
"Thanks, Zeth," Padmè said.
"Anytime, sis," Zeth said.
"Hate to break in on the chatter, but you've got a swarm of skips being released, headed straight towards you, your astromechs should be recording the coordinates to you now," Soontir Sr. said from the Chiss cruiser he was on.
"Copy that, thanks Grandpa," Soontir said. "Zeth, cover me, I'm going in."
"Soontir, be careful," Padmè said.
"You too," Soontir said. He sent a wave of affection towards her through the Force just before he shot forward into the fray.
The squadrons of varying ships were shooting back and forth amongst the coralskippers that peppered the space around them. Worldships began to separate their tentacles opening up again, releasing coralskippers along the way. Jaina throttled forward to engage the worldship, shooting at the releasing tentacles. Each skip was designed differently, never once similar. Organic ships were something that had taken the Galactic Alliance a bit of time to get accustomed to, but they had soon realized that they were vulnerable, finding ways around them. Her X-wing suddenly lurched in mid-flight.
Jaina fumbled with the yoke control and quickly pressed her chin against the mic stud. "I'm caught!" she cried out.
"Dovin basals caught you in its trajectory," Jag said.
"Headed your way," Kyp said. His voice had a touch of panic in it. He had just gotten Jaina, he wasn't about to lose her.
"No, don't," Jaina said frantically. "I don't want you caught too." She winced when a spray of plasma hit her.
"What the hell is that?!" Zeth said heatedly over the com system. "Mom!"
Jaina turned her head sharply and felt panic rising within her body. "No, no," she whispered harshly. A grutchin was attached to her X-wing, chewing through. "Someone get it off me!"
"Coming your way, Jaina," Zekk's voice emanated from her right earphone. Jaina felt his Force presence closing around her as he got closer.
"Zekk! Wait!" Jaina said. "The dovin basal will pull you into the gravitational field."
"What about the grutchin?" Zekk asked.
Jaina unclipped her saber and twisted her arm backwards awkwardly. With a flick of her thumb, her saber rolled to life and she heard the high pitched scream as the grutchin died. Jaina began to cough when fumes flooded the cockpit of her X-wing. She quickly switched on the emergency backup she had for oxygen. Stale, yet clean air filled her lungs. As her eyes adjusted, she saw the danger that was headed for her.
"Aunt Jaina's in trouble," Soontir said.
Soontir Sr. saw the trouble Jaina was in and immediately pushed his ship towards an approaching Yuuzhan Vong battle cruiser. The battle cruiser was closing in on Jaina's position. With the damage to her ship, and the gravitational pull of the dovin basals, she was a sitting duck. Large sprays of plasma began to erupt from the cruiser, slamming into the older Fel's shields. "Sir! Shields are down to sixty five percent strength, if they keep hitting us at this rate, we won't have any shields left!" a crew member called over the com.
"Keep moving forward, put all unnecessary power towards the shields," Soontir Sr. said. He was thrown to the ground as the ship took a hit.
"Shields are down to thirty perecent!"
Soontir rose to his feet, his fingers touching the cut at his forehead. He pulled away to see the shimmer of crimson. "Target their weapons!" he growled.
"It's targeting us again!" Soontir slapped one of the control boards and the screen materialized. The cruiser was turning its nose to face his ship, it's weapons starting to glow, preparing to release it's firepower.
Soontir saw the trouble his grandfather was in. He pulled the yoke hard and shot forward towards him. He flew his X-wing around the battle cruiser, quickly releasing shot after shot. He flew easily and quickly around, dodging the enemy fire headed his way. "Grandpa, get out of here!" he demanded over the com.
"No, you…" Soontir Sr. said, but his voice was cut off when another plasma hit his ship.
"Shields are down!"
"Grandpa!" Soontir started. Sudden realization hit as visions began to pass over him. The grave back home, his entire childhood, holding his siblings in his arms once they were born. The first kiss he shared with Padmè when they had been so young. He saw himself down on bended knee in front of Padmè, tears rolling down both his cheeks and hers when he asked her to marry him. The squeal that escaped her lips as she said yes and threw herself into his arms. Their trip back in time. Their wedding. Their wedding night. He knew what it all meant now.
"Grandpa, go," Soontir said. "I'll handle this." He reached out with the Force to his grandfather's ship and pushed it away.
"What are you doing?" Soontir Sr. demanded of his grandson.
"Go," Soontir said. "This ship is the main brain of everything. Transmissions keep emanating from it to the other worldships. They are following the cruisers' orders."
"You are not going to face that thing alone," his grandfather said.
"I have to," Soontir said.
Padmè felt the resolution in her husband's voice. She slapped her com system, the X-wing engaging a private channel to his. "Soontir, don't you dare do what I think you are going to do!"
Soontir looked down. He felt a plasma shot hit him, rocking his X-wing a bit. "I have to, Padmè," he said. "It all makes sense now."
"What makes sense?" Padmè wanted to know. "You will only be killed!"
"I know," Soontir said.
"No!" Padmè said. He could hear the tears in her voice, the panic that was starting to set in. "No! Soontir… we have our entire future ahead of us. You can't leave me!"
"Padmè, you know why you are so drawn to the grave back home?" Soontir asked. "You are drawn to it because it's mine."
"No!" Padmè said again. A sob hitched in her throat. "No it's not. It can't be."
"I have to do this, Padmè," Soontir said. "Or we won't ever be born to have any of this happen."
"Dammit Soontir, don't leave me!" Padmè sobbed into her microphone.
Soontir swallowed the lump in his throat. "I love you, baby," he said, his voice cracking.
"Soontir… no," Padmè said again. Soontir shakily disconnected their systems. Padmè screamed inside of X-wing and smacked the control board again. "Zeth… Zeth he's going to kill himself!"
"What?" Zeth demanded, shooting his weapons at incoming coralskippers.
"Soontir," Padmè said. "He's going to sacrifice himself to save the rest of us." Zeth looked sharply towards the large battle cruiser that was in front of Soontir's X-wing, and the elder Soontir's ship. He tried to shoot his own ship forward to intercept, but found himself unable to break from the coralskippers.
Everything suddenly happened in slow motion. Soontir throttled his X-wing, diving towards the cruiser, releasing fire as fast as he could. The battlecruiser rocked as explosions began to emanate all over its body. One single tentacle, much like those on the world ships, uncurled and set its sights on Soontir's X-wing. It released a plasma shot, the lava fire slamming into Soontir's ship. He cursed as he straightened his ship. His eyes fluttered closed, and he drew the Force into himself. He began to fire, using the Force to direct his shots. He never saw the plasma fire that was heading towards him. Pain erupted through his body as his ship was hit and immediately paralyzed. He felt himself growing cold already, his fingers numbing from the wounds he sustained. He pressed his chin against the mic stud. "Paralyzed…"
"No!" Tahiri cried out aboard the Millenium Falcon. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she saw Soontir's paralyzed ship. She could feel his pain, the blackness that was starting to engulf him.
"That battle cruiser is going to intercept him!" Han snapped.
"It'll kill him," Leia said.
Tahiri wrapped her arms around her body, rocking back and forth in her seat. "He's already dead." Leia turned to look at the blonde, seeing the anguish on her face.
Soontir Sr. could hear his grandson's ragged breaths over the com. He was still alive, but he was not doing good. The battle cruiser was crippled itself, but it was intending to ram into Soontir's X-wing, intent on destroying their destroyer. "Lieutenant," he said to his flight commander.
"Sir?" the man asked.
"Do you have family?" Soontir asked.
"No, sir," the man said. "None of us do."
"Ever envision that you would die a hero?" Soontir asked.
"I'd die for the right cause, sir," the man said. "So that those with families can return to them."
"Today's that day, Lieutenant," Soontir said. "Put in a direct course to intercept the cruiser."
"We have no…" the Lieutenant said. Realization dawned. "Yes sir." He put in the coordinates.
"Soontir, what are you doing?" Syal demanded over the com. She was on Booster Terrick's ship, the Errant Venture.
"I love you, Syal," Soontir said. "But I've lived my life."
"I still need you," Syal said, tears obvious in her voice. "Wynssa needs you, Jag needs you."
"You'll always have me," Soontir said. "But it has to end here. It has to end now."
"No," Syal said, crying. "Love…"
"Syal, I love you," Soontir said. "Go on without me. I'm doing this for you." With a tear rolling down his cheek, Soontir cut the communication to his wife. "Lieutenant, disable the communication system."
"Yes sir," the man said.
Soontir stood, his legs shoulder width apart, his hands clasped behind his back. He held firm as they grew steadily closer to the battle cruiser. "Sir?" the flight officer said.
"Go on Lieutenant," Soontir said.
"It's been an honor serving you," he said.
Soontir offered a sad smile. "And with you, Lieutenant." In a flash, they were gone.
"No!" Jag screamed as he watched his father's ship collide with the battle cruiser. He scanned and saw that his son's crippled X-wing had been taken in by the tractor beam from the Falcon and was being towed back towards Naboo. Flashes began to emanate around them, and his eyes focused once again on where his father had been. Tears fell down his cheeks as he watched the battle cruiser erupt as it exploded along with his father's own Chiss craft. "Goodbye, Dad."
One by one, worldships stopped their motion in mid-space. Tentacles stopped as they started to release more coralskippers. Chatter was heard over their communications, but one single sentence echoed between them all that let them know it was now officially over. "The Supreme Overlord is dead."
"Alliance vessels," Wedge's raw voice came over the com. "Return to Naboo."
It seemed to take forever for them to land; but soon their ships were on the ground. Jaina's crippled X-wing landed, having been towed by the Lady Luck. Nearby, the Falcon landed, Soontir's X-wing landing harder behind it. Jag and Jacen had both exited their ships and were racing for the man's X-wing. Zeth was hurrying as well, Padmè stumbling out of her X-wing.
"Come on, baby," Kyp said. Jaina was halfway out of her cockpit, a stricken expression on her face. She had felt the extent of Soontir's injuries and knew that there was nothing they could do. Her own leg was searing with pain from one of the blows her ship had received, some of the plasma shorting her electrical panel and burning her leg. She eased down and Kyp took her into his arms, holding her close. Jaina buried her face in his neck and began to sob. Kyp held her close as he walked.
"Soontir," Padmè sobbed. "Baby, talk to me." Soontir's head was cradled in her lap.
Jag looked around frantically. "Get Cilghal," he said, his voice trembling. He saw Tahiri emerging from the Falcon looking strickened. He rose slowly. He walked towards her, his steps picking up speed. Tahiri collapsed against him when he was close enough. He picked her up and carried her over to where Soontir lay. Together, they knelt at their son's side.
"Stay strong, Soontir, Cilghal and Tekli are coming," Zeth said, his strong hand on Soontir's arm. His other was around his sobbing sister.
"Yeah," Padmè said. She gave a shaky smile down to Soontir's peaceful face. "They'll patch you up, good as new." The extended families of the Durrons, Solos, Fels and Skywalkers formed a circle around the dying man. Each respective couple were holding each other as they watched with saddened eyes. Padmè would not allow herself to believe it, but the rest of the Force users, and even those that did not have that gift, knew exactly what was happening. Soontir was not going to make it.
"Oh baby, you were so brave," Padmè whispered to her husband. "So strong. Just like Aunt Tahiri and Uncle Jag. They're so proud of you, Soontir. So proud." Her red eyes lifted to glance at the younger versions of her in-laws. Tahiri met her eyes, tears falling down her cheeks unchecked. Jag's eyes were transfixed on his son's peaceful face.
Soontir shifted a fraction and Padmè's eyes were drawn down to him again. She sucked in her breath when his eyelids fluttered a bit. Deep green eyes looked up at her. The breeze around ruffled his light brown hair. A bit of blood escaped from the corner of his eye, his mouth and a bit from his ear. Padmè was trembling, scared of what the blood meant. Soontir drew her attention again. He blinked up at her, love shining in his eyes brightly. A small smile formed around his lips. Padmè returned the smile as a tear slipped off her face and fell against his lips. Her heart began to pound, her chest began to ache. The light faded from Soontir's eyes, and his eyelids slid closed. With one last shuddering breath, he took his last.
Padmè's breath became faster, her fingers clawing at his chest, trying to find a fluttering heartbeat. "No," she whispered. Sobs began to sound around her. "No." She shifted and laid her head against Soontir's chest. The stillness broke her resolve. "Soontir! No!" Sobs racked her thin frame as she clung to her husband. Zeth knelt behind her, helpless. Finally, he put his hands against his sister's back and lowered his head. And he cried.
"I can't do anything," Zeth whispered harshly. Jaina glanced at her son. She was sitting in a chair opposite him, Kyp was staring out of the window. Zeth ran a weary hand over his face.
"My sister is in pain and I can't do anything about it," he said again.
"She's shutting us all out," Kyp said, his voice gravilly. "I tried to talk to her."
Zeth raised his eyes to look at his mother. "You remember all this even when we are born," he said more than asked. "How can you go on living knowing what will happen? What it will do to us?" Jaina was taken aback, unsure of how to answer.
"Because we had you kids to think about," Kyp's voice said from the doorway.
Zeth looked and his heart began to pound and the tears he had been holding back since his first break down let loose. He stumbled to his feet towards the crowd. Miranda Quee squeezed past everyone. Her deep green eyes warmed and she ran towards her fiancée. Zeth caught her weakly, burying his face in the dark blonde curls. Sobs came raggedly from his body as he held her to him. Miranda whispered against his ear, stroking his hair gently. She looked towards the younger version of her future in-laws, noticing the shock and sorrow there. Jaina couldn’t help but notice the resemblance Miranda had to Danni. It was apparent this woman was Danni and Zekk's daughter, and while she had darker hair and her father's eyes, the girl was the spitting image of Danni.
Older Jaina moved further into the room and over to her son. Miranda stepped back and Jaina took her place, engulfing her son in her embrace. Zeth clung to his mother, feeling like a child. He turned his head when a strong hand rested on the back of his head. His father stood next to him, sorrow clearly etched on his face. "Who else came?" Zeth croaked out.
"Blaine, Cassa, Mikael, T'cha's and Teneniel," Kyp said. He glanced around and raised his eyebrow. "Where's Padmè?"
"She's locked herself into her room," Zeth said, wiping tears away. "None of us can talk to her."
Jaina glanced up at her husband. Kyp nodded and turned on his heel, heading for the door. "She won't talk to even us," the younger version of Kyp said as he moved towards his older counterpart.
"I have a slight advantage," Kyp threw over his shoulder. Younger Kyp frowned. He followed the older man, young Jaina following him.
"I got him, Mom," Blaine said as he came into the room. He put his arm around his twin brother's shoulders. Jaina touched both of her boys' faces and hurried to catch up with those that were going to find Padmè.
Kyp knocked gently on Padmè's door. "Go away," her voice came from inside. Kyp sighed. He glanced at his younger counterpart. "What's the door code?"
"You aren't going to barge in are you?" Young Jaina asked.
"Yes," Older Jaina said. She looked at herself. "Open it."
Jaina grit her teeth, realizing that she was coming up against her own stubbornness. Ironic. She stepped forward and punched the code into the door, making it open.
"I said…" Padmè started and turned around. She felt her body slacken a bit. Standing in her doorway were her parents. Despite Kyp and Jaina's presence since Soontir's death, it wasn't really her parents. Standing in her doorway was her mother, her father already moving towards her. Her eyes fastened on him and everything that she had been holding in began to come out. This was the man that held her when she cried after a nightmare. That kissed away her tears when she skinned a knee growing up. That looked on disapprovingly when Soontir took her out on their first date at the tender age of sixteen. "She's too young!" And then had looked on approvingly as Soontir knelt before her on bended knee asking for her hand in marriage, after first facing the Durron stubbornness when asking Kyp's permission. This was the man that had held her as a tiny infant and awed at the perfection he had been a part of. And it was this man who's embrace she fell into and sobbed for the loss she felt.
Young Kyp looked stricken a bit. "She wouldn't let us in to do that," he whispered. Young Jaina put her arm around his waist.
"That's her father," Older Jaina said.
"So am I," Young Kyp said.
Older Jaina looked and smiled. The wrinkles around her face seemed more prominent, the silver in her hair standing out a bit. "You are going to be her father," she said softly. She turned her head and nodded to Kyp where he held Padmè to his chest, rocking his daughter as she sobbed. "He is her father. He's the one that's held her time and again when she's cried her eyes out." Jaina glanced at them. "And he will be the one to hold her up during this and tell her she can move on."
"Blaine," Cassa whispered. Zeth had fallen asleep against his brother, the older twin stretched out with his head against his brother's leg. Blaine glanced up at Cassa. She nodded to the doorway. His dark eyes turned and he paused. Standing in front of them now were the younger versions of their family. All Tahiri could do was stare at the woman that looked like her but wasn't entirely her.
"I feel at a loss," Blaine said.
"He's finally resting, good," Leia said breaking the silence. She walked towards Blaine and Zeth, kneeling in front of them. She placed a hand on Zeth's forehead with a frown.
"Force induced," Blaine said. Leia looked up at him. "I'm Blaine, Grandma."
Leia smiled sadly and reached a hand up to touch his cheek then his forehead. "So identical," she whispered.
"Only in looks," Blaine commented.
Cassa perched herself on the edge of the sofa and ran her fingers through Blaine's dark locks. She glanced at everyone else, seeing Mara and Luke enter with Ben toddling in front of them. It was so odd to see him so young. "I'm Cassa Fel." She nodded to where Miranda sat, the other woman's green eyes intent on her fiancée. "That's Miranda Quee."
"How?" Jag questioned with a frown.
"Blaine," an older versions of Zekk said as he stepped into the room. Danni came in behind him.
"Where are Mama and Daddy?" Cassa questioned.
"Jacen and Tenel Ka took them outside for air," Danni said. "Tahiri wanted to go see Soontir, but Jag doesn't want her to at the moment. She's having labor pains."
"Who else came from… the future?" Han asked, astonishment plainly written on his face.
"Those of us already here, my parents," Blaine said. "Uncle Jag, Aunt Tahiri, Uncle Jacen, Aunt Tenel Ka, Mikael, T'cha's and Teneniel."
"Where are they?" Miranda asked, her voice cracking slightly. She glanced up at her parents. Zekk moved around the sofa. Miranda rose and let her father sit down then snuggled into his embrace, finding strength in his arms. Danni slowly walked over and touched her daughter's darker hair.
"Mikael was not doing well, so T'cha's and Teneniel took him for a walk," Cassa commented. A single tear fell down her cheek. "Did you notice?"
Miranda nodded. "The grave isn't here," she whispered.
"It's Soontir's," Danni said softly. She exchanged a look with her husband.
"We don't mean to leave you out or…" Blaine commented, looking at the younger versions of his family.
"It's just been a lot to take in," Han commented. Blaine studied his grandfather, noticing that he hadn't entirely changed much over the years. His hair was a pure white now, and there were a few more wrinkles, but otherwise he was as strong and unyielding now as he is in their time. And probably just as willing to cause trouble too.
"Padmè," Cassa said as she rose. She didn't even flinch when a younger version of Jaina and Kyp slipped past their older counterparts, who were standing on either side of their daughter, keeping her upright with their strength. Padmè's chin quivered a bit as Cassa hugged her.
Blaine eased from beneath Zeth's head with Miranda's help. She took his place. Blaine turned and settled his eyes on his sister. "Little bit," he questioned.
Padmè looked and tears came in torrential waves. "Blaine," she whispered harshly. She stumbled forward and Blaine caught her to his chest before she could fall entirely. "He's gone."
Tears burned Blaine's eyes and he hugged her closer to him, his hand running down her dark hair. "I know," he whispered. Padmè sobbed into his chest. "I know."
Cassa met Blaine at the doorway when he walked back in. He glanced over her shoulder at the younger versions of their parents and grandparents before focusing his attention on her. "How's Padmè?" she questioned.
"Resting," Blaine said with a sigh. "Mom and Dad are staying with her in case she wakes up, she's not resting well." He slid his arm around her waist and led her back over to the sofas where the other children were sitting.
"Dad took Mom to lay down too," Mikael commented. He glanced at Blaine.
"They got the contractions to stop," Teneniel said. "For how long I don't know."
"I told her that she shouldn't have come," Blaine said with a sigh.
"Aunt Tahiri's stubborn," Zeth murmured. He was staring straight ahead into the fire that was crackling in the fireplace. Miranda lifted his hand into hers and stroked the back of it.
"Miranda, where are your parents?" T'cha's asked.
"Mama is monitoring Aunt Tahiri, Daddy chose to stay with Uncle Jag in case he gets in the way," Miranda said.
"How did you get here, anyway?" Zeth questioned, finally looking at them.
"Blaine figured out how to travel back," Mikael said.
Zeth leveled a gaze at his twin. "Then why the hell didn't you come back sooner?" he asked hotly. "To avoid all of this damned heartache." Blaine stiffened.
"Aunt Jaina said not to," Teneniel said diplomatically.
Zeth snapped his head to look at his cousin. "What?"
Cassa pressed herself to Blaine, tears forming. "Soontir's sacrifice had to happen for us to live, for the war to end," she whispered. Blaine held her close to him.
"That is such a load of bantha poodoo," Zeth snapped, rising to his feet. He walked over to the mantle, leaning against it, his fingertips digging in.
"Zeth, you are not the only one affected by this," T'cha's said.
"Oh believe me, I know that," Zeth snapped as he turned around. "But you weren't there T'cha's. You weren't there to see him die." He waved his hand to the solemn figures of their family. "You aren't his parents and see him die knowing that when you have him that his fate is already decided." His voice caught. "I was there to watch Padmè holding the love of her life in his arms, pleading with him to make it. only for him to die in her arms."
"Stop," Cassa said softly. Tears were falling down her cheeks. Mikael walked over to his sister and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"No I won't stop," Zeth said. "He is dead! And…"
"He made the choice," Tahiri said huskily. Zeth turned to look at the young woman that had suddenly looked older than she had, resembling the version of her he knew, but still so young. "He somehow knew what his destiny was and he made that choice. It is not for us to take that choice away." She looked at Zeth. "Don't look down on him for it." Zeth fell silent.
The day was beautiful and the sun was shining. The wind blew ever so gently, caressing the skin of anyone that was outdoors. No matter the beauty that surrounded them, it could not lighten their moods. The groups were separated, so alike, yet separated by years and generations. On one side of the funeral prye stood their past, the other side their future. Padmè was standing tall, yet still slightly supported by her mother and father, her brothers both nearby if she needed them. Jag and Tahiri stood with Mikael and Cassa, the two Fel men standing on either side of Tahiri. Danni and Zekk formed a strong wall behind their daughter as she stood beside her fiancé. Teneniel stood with Mikael, her sister beside her and their parents behind them. Across the funeral prye was a similar view, only Han and Leia, Luke and Mara with Ben, Wedge and Iella formed a wall of support behind the younger ones and Syal.
Cilghal and Tekli were performing the Jedi funeral ceremony along with Tionne and Kam. Various other Jedi had come to Naboo and were honoring the man that sacrificed himself to end the war. They stood behind the four Jedi leading the ceremony. Words were spoken that left everyone shedding tears. The men, especially those closest to Soontir, shed tears but refused to wipe them away, their backs ramrod straight.
Tionne approached Tahiri and Jag with a torch. She handed it to Tahiri with whispered words of condolence. Tahiri blinked, her children and husband helping her forward. She paused and glanced at Padmè. "Padmè, come," she said softly.
Padmè felt her throat close a little. She hadn't told anyone yet that she and Soontir had been married before he was killed, but the fact that she was enough in his life for his mother to allow her to participate in this part of the funeral both warmed her and broke her heart all over again. She stepped over to her mother-in-law and walked with them. Together, Tahiri and Padmè touched the torch to the rags beneath the prye. Tears fell even harder as they watched the flames begin to engulf Soontir's body.
A sob caught in Tahiri's throat and pain suddenly assaulted her. She clutched her swollen belly. "Jag," she whispered. Her eyes squeezed shut. "It won't stop this time."
Jag's arms came around Tahiri stronger and he lifted her into the air. "Cassa, Mikael," he said. The two needed no further words as they made a path for their parents.
"Tahiri's gone into labor," younger Kyp said, watching the Fel family head back to the large house. Those from the future quickly followed, Danni and Zekk both racing faster than anyone. Slowly people departed, most going to the house to wait for news on Tahiri and the baby. The younger version of Tahiri stayed back, her eyes intent on the funeral prye.
Jag, who had started for the house, turned back to watch her. He slowly made his way over to her. "Tahiri?" he questioned.
"I can't do it," Tahiri whispered. "This is the second time I've seen someone that means a lot to me on top of a funeral prye. I can't do it again."
Jag frowned, putting his hands on her shoulders but she shrugged him away. "What are you saying?"
Tahiri looked at him. "I can't let myself fall in love with you," she whispered. "I can't let us have a son only to lose him." Before Jag could say anything else, Tahiri ran past him.
"But I already love you," Jag whispered.
Hours passed and Tahiri had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was resting as peacefully as she could, the stress of her son's funeral and her daughter's birth had taken its toll on her. Jag was silently rocking the baby in his arms. He gazed down into his daughter's face, seeing his strong features but Tahiri's soft beauty. She had bright blue eyes so far, with a touch of green that hinted that her eyes would darken in a few months. She had a thatch of black hair on top of her tiny head. Right now, her hands were curled against her mouth.
There was a soft knock at the door and Jag turned to see who it was. A younger version of his wife stood in the door and the conversation that happened this day that they had so many years ago to him came to the front of his mind. "Come in," he said softly.
Tahiri moved into the room, glancing at herself laying in bed, her eyes shut. "What made me change my mind?" she asked softly.
"I don't know, you never told me," Jag said. He looked down as the baby shifted in his arms.
Tahiri shifted closer to him. Curiosity finally won out in her mind and she moved to his side, looking over his arm. Just as she did, the baby's eyes opened and Tahiri found herself completely enchanted by the tiny being. "I really had a part in creating her?" she asked in wonder.
"You did," Jag said, his eyes on the baby. "All of our children were beautiful when they were born." He glanced at her. "This is what makes the pain worth it."
Tahiri's face pinched slightly. "I…"
"Tahiri, I wanted to walk away once Soontir died, save myself the pain," he said. "But seeing the man he grew into was worth the pain we would feel. And I don't regret a day of it. Especially now."
Tahiri was silent a moment. Finally she looked at him. "I have to go find you," she said softly. Jag nodded, watching her leave.
"That's what made me change my mind," Tahiri's voice came from the bed. Jag looked up and smiled.
Jag turned when he heard the slap of running bare feet. He was barely able to register the slim body that launched into his arms until he saw the halo of golden hair that came along with the tiny frame. "I'm sorry," Tahiri murmured into his ear.
Jag wrapped his arms around her tiny frame, supporting her as sobs began to erupt. He pressed a kiss to her ear and then her temple as he simply held her. Finally he pulled back and cupped her face, his thumbs wiping tears away. "What made you change your mind?" he asked softly.
"It doesn't matter," Tahiri said. She stood on tiptoe and kissed him. "I can't walk away. I love you too much." Jag's answer was merely to catch her mouth with his in a kiss.
"There should be a memorial for him," Syal said. Her voice was hoarse from the amount of tears she had cried.
"What about for Grandpa?" Cassa questioned from where she sat. "He did it too."
"Just one memorial," Padmè said. Older Kyp looked over at his daughter. Padmè leveled her gaze at him. "Back home."
"The gravemarker," Cassa said.
"Not a marker," Padmè said. "It's a memorial. We burned Soontir, remember?"
"But what does it mean?" Zeth asked. "The saying?"
"Love will conquer," Padmè whispered. She cleared her throat. "It's Nubian." She looked at them. "It's the right thing to have."
"Oskio preskania fracio," Pooja said. "It's very fitting."
Syal turned and nodded. "And it fits all that we have been fighting for during this war," she said. She wiped a tear away. "It is meant mainly for Soontir Jr."
"The war is over, it's a fitting memorial for everyone," Leia commented.
"I'll commission it right away, where should it be put?" Pooja questioned.
"Out back behind the lake house," Blaine said. "That's where it was put."
"Then that's where it shall be," Pooja said.
"When are we leaving?" Padmè asked as she sat between her two brothers out on the large veranda outside of the lake house.
"I just need to set the coordinates, we're waiting though for Uncle Jag to let us know when Aunt Tahiri and the baby are ready to go," Blaine said, rubbing his hand soothingly along his sister's arm.
"I want to go home," Padmè murmured.
"We are," Zeth said, his head pressed to his sister's.
Padmè's eyes opened and she shifted. "I need to go talk to mom and dad," she said.
"They're in the quarters preparing to go home," Blaine said.
Kyp walked over to the door and opened it. "We were waiting for you," he said to his daughter.
Padmè stepped forward and let her father draw her into his arms. "I'm sorry, I meant to come earlier," she said softly.
"It's okay, sweetheart," Jaina said. "Come sit with me." She patted the settee beside her.
Padmè walked over and sat down beside her. She finally laid down till her head was resting in her mother's lap. Her eyes fluttered slightly at the familiar feel of Jaina running her finger's through her hair.
"How you feeling, sweet pea?" Kyp asked his daughter as he sat in a chair near Padmè and Jaina.
"Like my life is over," Padmè said in a tiny voice.
"Oh baby," Jaina whispered. Her eyes came up to lock with her husband's.
"I love him so much, Mama," Padmè said. She shifted and looked up at her mother. "Think if it was Daddy how you'd feel."
"I know how I'd feel baby," Jaina said softly. "I know you loved Soontir, I remember how you two were together from now. Your father and I wanted nothing more than to pull you away from him as you got older so you wouldn't have to face this."
"Then why didn't you?" Padmè asked.
"Because Soontir sacrificed himself for you especially," Kyp said. Padmè looked at her father. "Soontir did this for you."
"But he left me alone," Padmè said with a sob. Jaina swallowed hard, wiping a tear from her daughter's cheek.
"He left you to live," Kyp said. He moved over and stroked Padmè's hair gently. "Soontir ended the war. If he hadn't, then the past you know never would have happened."
"That doesn't make the pain go away, Daddy," Padmè said with a cry.
"Nothing can make the pain go away," Jaina said softly. "It will only ease with time."
"I don't think I could ever get used to him being gone or that it'll ever ease," Padmè said. She looked into her father's eyes. "We married."
Jaina and Kyp looked at each other. "Married?" Jaina questioned.
"A few nights ago," Padmè said. "We left and found a minister to marry us." She cried a little. "He must have known. He said he didn't think we'd make it to our wedding day."
"You went alone?" Kyp asked softly.
"Uncle Zekk and Aunt Danni went with us," Padmè said.
"They…" Jaina looked. "Oh Force… they knew all along and never told us."
"It wasn't our story to tell," Zekk said.
Kyp looked at the door where Zekk stood, his eyes very sad. "You lived with this for the past twenty seven years?" he asked.
Zekk nodded. "It was the hardest thing Danni and I ever had to live with and keep from you," he said. "But it was never for us to tell."
Padmè rose and looked at her honorary uncle. "You never told?" she whispered.
Zekk shook his head. "It…" he swallowed hard. "It was hard enough as it was. They didn't need it added on, and it wasn't our place to tell them anyway."
"And we are going to keep it that way," Kyp said.
"Daddy?" Padmè questioned.
"Jag and Tahiri from this time don't need to know that their son left a widow with his sacrifice," Kyp said.
"It may be best to wait till we are home to tell your Aunt Tahiri and Uncle Jag in our time about your marriage," Jaina said softly to her daughter. "It'll be hard for them, but it would be best in case others might hear here."
Padmè nodded reluctantly. "I'm going to go see how Tahiri and the baby are doing," Kyp said. "Then I'll talk to Blaine about getting us home."
"Daddy?" Padmè questioned. Kyp turned to her. "Have you and Blaine…"
"We worked it out, princess," Kyp said. "We're okay." Padmè nodded. Kyp watched his daughter a moment before leaving the room.
"Can't you stay a little longer?" Young Jaina questioned her children softly.
"It's time we went home, we have families to console and lives to get back on track," Zeth said to the younger version of his mother.
"I suppose you do need to get back to your lives," Jaina said softly.
"We'll miss you, this version of you," Zeth said with a slight grin. It didn't reach his eyes, hadn't reached his eyes since before the battle that took his best friend's life. "But we have our own versions to go back to."
"At least we know how well we raised our kids," young Kyp said softly to his son.
"You are fantastic parents," Zeth said. "We all know that and we couldn't ask for better." Jaina stepped up to him and hugged him close to her.
"It's time to go son," older Kyp said, stepping up behind his son. Zeth nodded. He hugged his future mother once more and walked backwards towards the group waiting for him. His fingers laced with Miranda's.
"Ready?" Blaine called.
Jag glanced down at his wife, their infant daughter nestled contentedly against Tahiri's chest. He ran a hand over the black fuzz on top of her head and pressed a kiss to Tahiri's temple. "It's time to go home," he whispered into her ear.
Blaine watched them a moment. He turned to Cassa when she interlocked their fingers. He nodded and aimed the device he had constructed to create the portal. The wind blew around them as a spiraling center of light began to grow in front of them. Padmè turned her head slightly as the light blinded her a bit, her face turning into her father's arm. Kyp put his arm around her, his other arm around Jaina.
Family by family, those from the future walked through the spiraling light. It flashed brighter as they passed through. The Durrons were the last family to go. Padmè and Zeth both glanced at the past one last time. Finally, together, the Durron family walked through the light towards their home.
Jaina turned her head into Kyp's arm as the spiral flashed brightly then with a swirl it was gone and the wind settled once again. "See you soon," Kyp whispered to the wind.
2 Days Later
"Padmè," Jag said a bit astonished. "Come in." He stepped aside to let her in.
"Hi Uncle, Jag," Padmè commented. "Is Aunt Tahiri here too?"
Jag nodded. "She's just finishing up feeding Jacqueline," he said. "What brings you here?"
"I needed to talk to you and Aunt Tahiri," Padmè said.
Jag looked concerned. "Everything okay?"
Padmè swallowed. "I… hope so," she said softly. Jag's eyebrow rose.
"Padmè," Tahiri said. "This is a surprise."
"Hi Aunt Tahiri," Padmè said. She walked over and gave her a hug. "How are you feeling?"
"I've had better days," Tahiri said. "But I know you feel the same."
"Yeah," Padmè said with a small smile. "I needed to tell you something."
Tahiri's eyebrow rose. "Have a seat," she said.
Padmè walked over to the sofa and settled down beside Tahiri. Jag sat across from them. "It's about Soontir," she said.
Tahiri swallowed. She glanced at Jag. "Go on, Padmè," Jag said.
Padmè took a deep breath. "A few nights before the final battle, Soontir and I went into town very late along with Aunt Danni and Uncle Zekk," she said. She looked up at Tahiri and Jag. "There we found a minister. We were married that night."
"You and Soontir married?" Tahiri questioned. Padmè nodded. "We never knew."
"Uncle Zekk said that it wasn't his and Aunt Danni's story to tell, that I would tell you now, not before," Padmè said.
"Another thing to weigh on our minds knowing what Soontir had in store for him anyway," Jag said. "It was probably best that it was kept from us."
"Soontir got to live his dream then," Tahiri said softly. She glanced at Padmè. "As sad as your welcome is. Welcome to our family."
1 Year Later:
Sunlight illuminated the crystal wind chimes that hung in the floor length glass doors. The chimes blew gently in the breeze, intermingling with the sheer curtains. Padmè turned when she heard the soft cooing of her daughter. A smile graced her features and she walked over to the crib, glancing in at the tiny figure. Syal waved her hands at her mother before a yawn stretched her tiny mouth into an O.
"She looks like her father," a deep voice said from the doorway.
Padmè glanced up into the green eyes of Valin Horn. Since her return from the past, Valin had rekindled their friendship from their childhood. A smile formed again. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
"Tekli mentioned that Syal had a small virus a few days ago, came to see how you two were doing," Valin said moving closer to her.
"She's getting better," Padmè mentioned. She lifted the baby into her arms.
Valin moved closer to her, his hand touching her shoulder as he looked down at the baby. "She really does look like Soontir," he said.
Padmè nodded. "She does."
Valin glanced at her sideways. He raised his eyebrow. "How are you, Padmè?" When they were teenagers, Valin had a small crush on Padmè, but it had passed almost as quickly as it had surfaced. At the academy, they had been very close friends, even though the Fels, Durrons, Solos and Quees had always been a tight knit group. They had welcomed the Horn children into their fold despite the age differences between them. Valin was almost ten years older than Padmè, but she had always managed to bring Valin's true nature out despite the shy and reserved boy he had grown up as.
Padmè glanced up at him and gave him a bit of a smile. "I'm okay, Valin. I really am." She gave a small shrug. "I miss him. Especially while I was pregnant with Syal. But I'm always going to miss him. I loved him with everything I had and for so long."
"He'd be proud of you, you know," Valin commented. His hand began unconsciously rubbing her back soothingly. He could sense through the Force that this wasn't easy for her to talk about, but he wanted her to remain calm so that she wouldn't upset Syal as well. Valin could never handle seeing one of his closest friends in pain either. Having seen her after hearing of Soontir's death had been enough to make him sob to the Gods demanding to know why they had stolen such a man and leave Padmè alone. He had made it his effort, along with his fiancée and siblings, to keep Padmè from falling into despair. Her family had surrounded her as well, and with the added support of the Horns, Padmè was never want for a loving embrace.
Padmè ran a finger down her daughter's cheek. She smiled widely and looked up at Valin. "I know. And he's with me every day. Syal will know who her father was. And the sacrifice he made was for her future."
"Soontir is watching over you," Valin said.
"Always and forever." Padmè had a wistful smile. "Even death can't keep us apart."
"So it was true," Valin said.
Padmè nodded. "Oskio preskania fracio. Love will conquer."
Jag leaned against the doorway, watching his wife as she held their son close. Every time he looked at Soontir, he saw the future clear as could be. He often wondered how life would be if Soontir hadn't sacrificed himself for everything Jag, himself, now held dear.
"You are thinking too much," Tahiri said softly. She turned to him, a gentle smile playing at the corners of her lips.
"Don't I always?" Jag asked softly as he moved over to her.
"I can't believe he's finally here," Tahiri said, her eyes drifting down to the bundle in her arms. She stroked his cheek. "He's so tiny."
Jag slipped behind her, his arm coming around her waist as he leaned his chin on her shoulder. "It's so real now," he said softly. His finger came out to touch the tiny hand, his son wrapping his pudgy fist around Jag's finger.
"Those hands will someday lead us to the last battle of our lives," Tahiri whispered.
"Bittersweet," Jag said softly.
"Everything is," Tahiri said. "From here on out."
Jag pressed a kiss to her temple. His nostrils flared as he took in her scent. They were together, and together they would face anything. He knew that now. He knew that the horrible fate their son would eventually face was all for this day, this time, this moment. Not to mention every moment they would ever face together.
"Oskio preskania fracio," Tahiri said.
Jag smiled as her words washed over him. "I love you," he whispered into her ear.
"I love you," Tahiri said. Together they gazed down at their son. No matter what they knew the future held for him, they would always face it together. Their vows on their wedding day never rang more true. Oskio preskania fracio. Love will conquer.