DISCLAIMER: I'm not George Lucas. I don't own these characters. Please don't sue me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Set after the Legacy of the Force series, but before the Fate of the Jedi series. The title means "to care, to worry about" in Mando'a.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: All Helmet, No Head
"It's your fault," he'd said. "You owe us."
She wanted to say it wasn't true, but really it was. Not just her fault, necessarily, but theirs. The Jedi hadn't paid close enough attention and Jacen had fallen. So Boba Fett was right: it was her fault. She did owe him.
Which is why she was on Ord Mantell slogging through rainy, muck-filled streets in the urban sprawl looking for a woman that didn't want to be found. Luckily for Jaina the woman was Mirta Gev. She wouldn't have to look too long or too hard because, eventually, Mirta would make waves. It was inevitable. She was Mandalorian.
The thought had barely made its way across her mind when a burly Aqualesh burst through the swinging door of a poorly lit bar. Jaina's hand strayed toward the lightsaber at her waist as a shaggy-haired woman followed, leaping on her victim and pummeling him with her fists. She was screaming things as she struck, most of which Jaina couldn't make out.
The Aqualesh had pulled his head down into his arms and was struggling to crawl away as Jaina came up on them. The woman was still screaming, still hitting. Now, Jaina could hear her. The Mando'a she spoke was slurred, but understandable at this distance: "Tion'ad hukaat'kama?! Huh? Meg!?"
Mirta may not have known who was watching the Aqualesh's back, but Jaina most certainly did. The two of them had come to stand just inside the door to the bar and they had blasters pointed at Mirta. Jaina leaped over the brawl and landed in the mud with a loud "plock," igniting her weapon at the same time. Mirta stopped hitting her victim to look over as the figures opened fire.
Jaina repelled the blaster bolts easily, startling the men enough to send them running. She turned to face Mirta and her victim, finding only the Mandalorian. The Aqualesh had no doubt limped away in the distraction. Jaina extinguished her blade and hung it back on her belt as she looked Mirta over.
The Mandalorian was disheveled and covered in grime. Her hair was longer than Jaina remembered, easily overtaking her shoulders, and it was dirty and matted. She looked well-fed, at least, but she smelled like ale.
"Su'cuy," Jaina said. She was mangling the pronunciation but the meaning was still there: "So you're still alive."
Mirta spit at her feet. "No thanks to you. What do want, anyway? Why are you here?"
Jaina sighed and rubbed her neck. "Your grandfather sent me to find you."
The Mandalorian looked ready to throw another punch, but deflated suddenly instead. She hit the ground hard enough to send off spatters of mud. "What for, huh? What's the point?"
She didn't reply. Instead she stepped forward and hoisted Mirta up onto her feet, carrying most of the girl's weight on her shoulders. They walked together in silence until they reached the hotel Jaina had rented a room in. Then Mirta balked.
"I'm not going in there with you!" She pulled away, stumbling back. "I'm not going back."
"Fine. Don't come back!" Jaina snapped, angry that this was happening now, when they were almost dry and warm. "I don't care. I'm doing this because I owe you and Fett. If you won't let me settle up on that debt he can't very well hold me accountable, so I've done my job!"
She turned to walk inside, angry but content to leave Mirta to her own self-destructive devices. "What do you mean you owe us?" She turned back around and Mirta was staring at her, confusion in the lines around her eyes.
Jaina sighed and shook her head. "Jacen. What he did. It's my fault."
Mirta snorted. "Ori'buyce, kih'kovid" She walked toward Jaina, then passed her on her way inside.
"What did that mean? I haven't heard that before." Jaina's legs were longer; catching up to Mirta as they made their way inside was not difficult.
"'All helmet, no head,'" Mirta replied.
Jaina hit the button for the elevator. It was empty. Considering how dirty they both were it was probably for the best. She spent the next thirty minutes mulling the comment over. When they had both used the refresher and dressed in the hotel's "complimentary" night clothes she ordered some food and hot caf.
"You think I'm being stupid about it, then?" She eyed Mirta as she asked it.
The Mandalorian girl wouldn't meet her eyes. No matter what she said next, it was probably a lie. "You didn't make him go crazy. You didn't make him kill my mother. You didn't make him poison my world against me." Then she looked at Jaina. "Did you?"
Flushing Jaina said, "No. But I didn't notice it happening, either." She swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat. "I didn't see it coming."
"Yeah, well," Mirta stood up as the door chimed. "I didn't say you were intelligent. I just said you didn't do it."
Coming from an angry, recently drunk Mirta is was as close to praise as was possible. Jaina wasn't sure why she was being so kind about it. As Mirta sat the food and caf down on the small table between them Jaina leaned forward. "Why are you here, Mirta? Why aren't you with Ghes?"
Mirta froze, her cup hovering under an almost tipped pot of caf. It took her a moment to shake off the upset. "He left me."
Jaina gasped. "What?"
"He wanted to raise his kids on Mandalore. I couldn't give him that. Not with that nanovirus your brother released." Mirta leaned back, sipping from her cup. "So I let him go."
"You let him go." Jaina was dumbfounded. "Mirta, that's not like you."
"Krink you, Solo." Slamming her cup down on the table and sending caf sloshing over the sides, Mirta went for her clothes. "I don't need any farking lectures from an osik-brained Jedi."
Jaina moved to intercept her, putting her muscled frame in Mirta's way. "You loved him, Mirta. And you want me to believe you just let him go? Why would you do that?"
"Because I can't give him what he wants!" She screamed. Jaina flinched. "My kids can't ever go home. I don't want them to go through that. I told him to leave. I told him to get as far away from me as he could. I told him I hated him. Is that what you want? Is that what you need to hear to leave me alone?"
Jaina grabbed Mirta by the shoulders, trying to calm her down or to at least keep her from harming either of them. The Mandalorian had broken into sobs halfway through her confession. Now she was just crying, and Jaina didn't know what to do. "I'm sorry, Mirta. I didn't know."
"Oh, you're sorry," Mirta said derisively. "That's great. Now everything's better. You can go home to your pretty Imperial gigolo and I can go back to Fett and we can both live happily ever after."
Groaning, Jaina let Mirta go and sat down on the end of Mirta's bed. "Jag and I didn't work out."
Mirta didn't say anything for a long time. Finally she just kicked her clothes to the floor and sat down heavily next to Jaina. "We're sure a pair of stink beetles."
Jaina laughed. "I hate those things."
"Me too," Mirta said, a lopsided smile violating her ill humor.
Blowing out a heavy sigh, Jaina flopped backwards. "What now?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you going to come back with me, or are you staying here?"
"There's nothing for me to go back to," Mirta shrugged. "Here's as good as anywhere."
"Except you're liable to end up dead before your next birthday." Jaina threw her arm over her eyes. "I could get you some work with the Temple if you want something to do."
The look Mirta gave her went unseen. "Oh yes, I'd love to work for the Jedi."
Jaina burst into giggles. "Good point."
Mirta stared at her. Jaina kept giggling. Minutes passed before she got herself under control. Wiping at her eyes, she caught sight of Mirta's attention. "What?"
"It's just- You giggle." Mirta looked away. "I wouldn't have expected that."
"Why, because Jedi aren't human?" Jaina's frustration was palpable as she rose to her elbows. "You and your grandfather don't have any idea who we are but you still sit there and press judgment on us. I should think you two would know best how that feels."
"No, look," Mirta turned to face her, their legs touching. Jaina tried not to think about how warm Mirta's skin felt on hers. "It's not anything about you being a Jedi. It's just you. You I don't see giggling. Jedi, sure, fine. I guess plenty of them can giggle. But. You?" Jaina looked away. "You're just so serious all the time. I never saw that side of you on Mandalore, and then the next time I saw you was on the Anakin Solo..."
They shared a tense few minutes of silence. Finally Jaina said, "I haven't been that kind of person in a long time. Just now, it was blowing off steam. It wasn't even really giggling." She snorted to herself. "I'm not sure I remember what that feels like."
Mirta put her hand on Jaina's leg. "I'm sorry, you know? That you had to kill him."
Tears threatened to spill out from behind her eyes. "Me, too."
"Alright," Mirta said, suddenly. "Enough of this. I'm tired. I have booze to sleep off." She got up, turning off the lights and leaving the food untouched. Jaina hadn't moved when she got back to the bed to pull the covers back. "Is this some kind of sleep-over? Don't tell me you brought fashion holos and nail colors. I was never that kind of girl."
Thankful that the darkness could hide the color tinging her cheeks, Jaina got up. She didn't really want to. Being near someone who wasn't trying to tame her was, well, nice. "Sorry. Just thinking."
They'd gotten into bed before Mirta said, "Thanks."
"For what?" Jaina rolled to face her in the darkness. She thought by the outline she could see against the window that Mirta was on her back.
"For coming to get me."
She had no reply, so she made none. Mirta slipped into sleep some time before Jaina herself had relaxed enough, Jedi breathing exercises not withstanding.
Her dreams were troubled. They always were. Had been since before she'd killed him, but afterwards they were worse. Afterwards Jacen always looked like he did right before she sliced into him: riddled with syringes and ravaged by anger. He wasn't human in her dreams anymore, and that hurt her more than reliving his death every night.
She woke with a start. Arms were holding her and someone was talking to her. It was Mando'a. Mirta. It was Mirta. Jaina let herself relax as much as she could. Mirta pulled her into a tight hold, still talking to her like she could understand what was being said. It wasn't comfortable, the embrace. It was grounding. Mirta knew what nightmares war could bring.
Eventually Mirta stopped talking and Jaina stopped shaking. She wasn't sure which happened first.
"Thanks," she whispered hoarsely.
Mirta nodded against her head. "I get 'em, too. About my mom."
Guilt lanced through Jaina, even though she knew Mirta didn't blame her for that. "I'm sorry," she said, not thinking. Just reacting.
"Stop it." Mirta's voice held no room for reproach. "It's not your fault. You didn't do it. Stop blaming yourself for his choices."
Jaina struggled to sit up, Mirta not really letting her go. She was going to argue when it registered. "You were having nightmares, too?"
Mirta was silent for a moment. "Yes." She shifted uncomfortably. "If it's alright, I think I'd like to try that sleep-over, now."
Jaina didn't reply. She just laid down, pulling the sheets back for Mirta. They stretched out next to one another on the too-small bed, obviously trying not to touch. Finally Jaina threw her arm around Mirta's waist. Mirta let out a relieved breath.
"What?" Mirta said, her voice sounding vaguely offended.
"Nothing," Jaina smothered another laugh. "Really."
"Right," Mirta said, disbelief evident in her tone.
"This is just," Jaina stopped.
"Weird," Mirta finished.
"Yeah," Jaina sighed. "But, nice..?"
"To not be alone." Mirta's statement was laced with sadness. "You get it. I get it. We get it. It's nice."
Jaina reached up in the darkness to find Mirta's face. Her fingers traced the line of her jaw. "You could call him back to you. He'd come back to you, Mirta."
"So would Jag," she countered. Jaina's touch moved to Mirta's lips.
"I don't want him back." It was almost true. She'd miss parts of him. "He tried to tame me."
Mirta laughed, her mouth opening under Jaina's fingers. Jaina shuddered at the hot warmth of the air blown across her hand. "We can't be tamed, us Mandalorian women."
"I'm not Mandalorian," Jaina countered.
"Sure you are," Mirta said, her own hand trailing up Jaina's side. "You just haven't been adopted yet."
"Right." Her voice hitched as Mirta's fingers dipped down around her breast. "I'm sure Fett would love to hear you say that."
"Ba'buir would get over it." Mirta licked her lips, her tongue hitting Jaina's hand. She should really get around to moving that. "He respects you."
"Do I what?"
Jaina wound her hand tight in Mirta's hair. "Respect me."
"Yes," Mirta hissed.
"Good," Jaina said. The tail end of the word was lost as she kissed Mirta hard.
The Mandalorian tasted like mint; she must have cleaned her teeth. The thought was so matter-of-fact that it almost brought Jaina up short. Then Mirta was on top of her, grinding their hips together as her mouth made its way down Jaina's neck and all the Jedi could do was whimper.
Mirta laughed deep in her throat. "Jag's a fool. You're not supposed to tame Mandalorians." Teeth scraped through her shirt and against Jaina's nipple. She moaned loudly. "You're supposed to break them like a gualaar."
Jaina shivered. She could guess where this was going. On cue, Mirta's hand was suddenly inside her. She screamed more from surprise than pain - the Mandalorian wasn't trying to be sadistic. It was an awkward angle. The waistband of Jaina's pants was limiting the range of motion Mirta had. Jaina suspected the difficulty was what Mirta liked about it.
"This is what you want," Mirta didn't phrase it like a question, but she asked all the same. Jaina wished she could see her eyes. The Force buzzed with their combined need and frustration.
It might not be wise but, "Yes."
Mirta starting moving her hand. Slowly. It was torture - Mirta could take her violently and Jaina knew she'd only thank her for it. She tried to set the pace herself, thrusting with her hips. Mirta laughed and placed more weight on her to make it harder to move.
Jaina burned against the rhythm. She struggled with her upper body, pulling at Mirta's clothes, but the other woman just kept laughing insufferably while Jaina's body ignited. She gave up fighting, then, her hands twisting in the bed sheets. She closed her eyes. Mirta's lips danced against her neck, her fingers never faltering.
"Please," Jaina moaned.
"No," Mirta said. Her voice was kinder than Jaina felt it had any right to be considering the torture she was performing. "You'll get there when I want you to, cyar'ika."
A small ripple ran through Jaina. Cyar'ika. Mirta was calling her sweetheart. She ran her hands up Mirta's arms, not pulling or pushing, wrapping her hands around her muscles. "I didn't know you- Ah!" Mirta bit her ear. "Cared."
"Maybe I should have called you di'kut, instead," she replied, her breath hot against Jaina's sternum. "That means 'idiot.'"
Jaina dug her nails into Mirta's skin against the deep tide of pleasure rising inside her. She'd never had anyone like this before. The men she'd been with were usually to the point or impatient. Before now, Jaina had been the same way. Her eyes rolled back as she realized her lower body was trembling violently.
"This is hard for you," Mirta said. She was resting her forehead against Jaina's shoulder. The muscles in her arms and back were taught.
Jaina's chest was starting to shake. Her nipples were tight. She wanted so badly for Mirta to go faster. She could tell her face was flushed. She suspected she was crying. "What-" She had to swallow hard. "What is?"
"Letting go of your control. Letting someone else help you."
She didn't respond. Couldn't. The tide had turned into crashing waves racing down each stretch of nerves in her body. Her ears were ringing.
"It's okay, Jetii." She said the word for Jedi lovingly. It was the first time Jaina could remember any Mandalorian using it without it being synonymous for poodoo. "You can let go now. I'll catch you."
And that was it. Jaina thought she might have cried out. The next few minutes were a haze of release. When she came back to herself Mirta was next to her. Fingers were stroking her hair. When she managed eye contact Mirta grinned. "Well?"
It took her a moment to find her voice. When she did, she shrugged. "I think I'm going to like being Mandalorian."
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