DISCLAIMER: I'm not George Lucas. I don't own these characters. Please don't sue me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Set after the novel "Star By Star."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
There were so many nameless havens littered across the galaxy that Jaina couldn't keep track of where she was without Sneaker. The only thing making this rest stop significant was the overlay of grief. Her brothers were dead. The Vong had killed them both. And if that wasn't bad enough, she'd blamed Jacen for Anakin's death. It was the last thing she'd really imprinted on him through their link. He died knowing only her anger.
It shouldn't have been that way.
The bunker they were hidden in had rooms. Not many, but enough to give each of the strike team's members a place of their own. Jaina's quarters were more like a closet, and she suspected that the other members were dealing with even smaller rooms. It suited her, though. It kept her alone. Contained. Entombed.
There was a light tap-tap at her door. She ignored it. She didn't want company. Another set of taps. More ignoring. Again: tap-tap. They wouldn't leave. Jaina sighed, letting her irritation seep through into the Force. An answering flare of frustration from behind the door in Tenel Ka's signature. Jaina fought against the guilt.
*You have the emotional depth of a ronto.*
She couldn't take the words back. She wanted to. Tenel Ka had lost Jacen, too. Jaina knew she loved him. You'd have to be an idiot not to. Grimacing she moved to the door, opening it.
Tenel Ka looked haggard. Her eyes were red. Her nose looked raw - she'd been rubbing at it. Her gray eyes were flat. "May I come in?"
Jaina moved backwards, climbing onto her bunk, her back against the wall. Tenel Ka stood awkwardly inside the door, letting it close. The space she had to stand in was barely wide enough for her. Jaina pulled her knees to her chest, clearing space for her to sit. For a moment, she wasn't sure Tenel Ka would.
They were silent for a long while. Each of them holding their emotions in, not wanting to burden the other. Not wanting to admit to anyone how broken they were. Finally Tenel Ka spoke. "I do not believe I can continue."
"You have to." It was the only thing there was to say. "We have to."
"I do not want to." A single tear tread a path down Tenel Ka's alabaster cheek. Jaina found herself wiping it away. She hadn't intended the gesture, the closeness. Then Tenel Ka was kissing her.
It was wrong in so many ways. Jaina wasn't Jacen. Tenel Ka had to know that. She had to know that nothing could replace him, that he and Jaina were nothing alike. But it didn't change the need Jaina felt surrounding her. The desperation. She moaned as heat cascaded through her.
Tenel Ka was stronger than she was. Years of Dathomiri regimens had coated her bones in muscle. Now, those muscles pushed her down hard against the bunk. Bruises were already forming, but the Hapan only continued to kiss her. A small part of Jaina was horrified at how much it turned her on.
When Tenel Ka shifted, freeing Jaina's hands, the brunette slid her palms across silken arms. She supposed that no princess would be allowed to ruin her skin in the sun. That thought skittered away as the redhead bit her neck. She suppressed a scream as her hips bucked hard.
A chuckle against her throat buzzed deep in her groin. She clawed at the lizard hide armor Tenel Ka never went without, trying to tear it off, needing it gone, needing to feel more skin than just her arms. Her request was wordlessly granted. Boots. Pants. Doublet. She wore no undergarments, instead entrusting her breasts to the hard, molded chest of her doublet. Her nipples were hard in the hot, still air. Jaina reached for her.
Tenel Ka made slow progress with Jaina's clothing. She seemed to prefer to tease - a hand whispering across her stomach; fingers tracing the curve of her breast; a nip at her side; gentle pawing at her thighs. When Jaina thought she might scream Tenel Ka released her, allowing her to shimmy out of her flight suit. She colored with embarrassment at the state of her under garments. It had been days since she'd seen a 'fresher, let alone changed clothes.
Her feelings must have been strong in the Force. Tenel Ka stopped, her body frozen above Jaina, her eyes dark and lonely. Jaina's embarrassment faded to confusion, then to concern. She wondered at her lack of guilt.
"What is it?" she asked, finally. Her hand traced Tenel Ka's jaw. The princess's skin was so very soft against her calloused fingers.
"You are not him." The words held no tone. It wasn't unusual for Tenel Ka, but neither could Jaina feel the meaning behind the words. Moments passed between them as their breathing rasped into the air. At last Tenel Ka settled down next to her, their skin hot and sticky where it touched. "I do not know what we are doing."
Jaina felt a tear slip down her cheek unbidden. Frustrated, she swept it away violently. "Neither do I." It was a lie. She sighed. "We're trying to forget him."
"No," Tenel Ka said slowly. "I will not do that." She pulled her lower lip in between her teeth to worry at it gently. "I do not think my wanting you is wanting to forget him."
"Well, I'm clearly just his stand-in, then," Jaina said with a bitter laugh.
Tenel Ka grabbed her suddenly, kissing her hard. Breaking away she said, "You are not his replacement. How could you be?" She gentled. "You are so different." She held Jaina's gaze silently for a time before continuing. "Perhaps I have always loved you both."
Jaina could only snort in derision. "Why now, then? Why when he's dead!" The word escaped her lips without thought. She felt herself strangling on it, on the terror and heartache it created. She closed her eyes and looked away from Tenel Ka. She suddenly wanted very much to be alone again.
Tenel Ka's hand fluttered against her hair. "Is there any better time to admit how you feel except in the face of death?"
"Can we just-" Jaina turned to face her once again. "Can we just not do this now?"
Tenel Ka looked away from her to the ceiling. Her eyes were as deep an unfathomable as ever. At last she looked back to Jaina and nodded. "Do you wish me to leave?"
"No!" The answer surprised Jaina. She flushed slightly. Shaking her head she said it again, more softly. "No."
Tenel Ka rose silently to palm the lights off. When she got back onto the bunk she wrapped herself around Jaina. Their frames were awkward against one another but Jaina took comfort in the heartbeat she could feel behind her. In the end, that's what mattered most. Tenel Ka was alive. She was here. And Jaina needed her.
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