Huddling in the corner of her bathroom, Jaina tried to hold back her tears. After an hour or two her bout of sickness had passed but she could only imagine that Zekk was disgusted with her. Remembering what she yelled at him shamed her. There was no excuse for her actions, if only she hadn't woken up feeling so ill, maybe when all her memories rushed back she wouldn't have reacted as badly.
The tile under her was chilly but she couldn't find the strength to move. Jaina knew she had to go and find Zekk and make things right between them. Yes, she should feel used but she was so happy with Zekk. Those feelings didn't go away with her returned memory. Memories of Zekk's stricken expression haunted her even as she hugged the toilet.
Not knowing what to do now that all her memories returned, and more confused than ever before, Jaina stayed in her bathroom. Zekk hovered in the back of her mind, she sensed his anguish and confusion, but she didn't know how to go to him after all the callous things she said. After sorting through all the information and memories, she knew Zekk didn't take advantage of her, she'd fallen in love with him without knowing anything about his past, or their previous problems. Her newer self was more forgiving and accepting than she was. How was she supposed to reconcile the two conflicting emotions and identities? And to think, one day ago she was wishing she could remember her past life, thinking that it was glorious and that she was really missing out on something. So she lived through adventure, but she'd seen more heartache than she would have imagined.
I know I wouldn't have sat on the freezing floor for this long, yesterday, Jaina thought and quickly climbed to her feet. Her reflection in the mirror, red blotches surrounding her eyes and nose, did not inspire her confidence. Turning on the cold water and splashing her face with it helped relieve some of the redness.
"I made a mess of everything, didn't I?" Jaina asked herself in the mirror. Last night was remarkable and she'd behaved like a monster this morning, just because she felt nauseous didn't give her the right to shred Zekk's confidence and heart.
Once she took a shower she'd find Zekk and ask for his forgiveness. She couldn't let him leave with her harsh words on his mind. With her new course of action set in her mind, Jaina took a quick shower and hurriedly dressed. When the knock came at her door, she thought it was Zekk coming by to talk to her. Without asking who was there she flung open her door, her smile died when she saw Jacen. He'd been crying. "Jacen?"
He flung himself at her and she stifled her startled scream. With Jacen clinging to her neck Jaina closed her door and led him to her bed. She had a feeling she knew why he was crying. Yesterday was quite shocking. "Ja..Jaina it's in the news! Mom she's awake now and trying to shut down the site, but it's too late. Dad hates me and uncle Luke says I can stay here but already people are questioning my reputation and saying I shouldn't be allowed to stay..."
Jaina listened patiently while Jacen poured his heart out to her. They both wanted to be Jedi for as long as she could remember. She couldn't imagine anyone more dedicated to helping people than Jacen. "Shh...everything we'll be okay. You'll see, just give it time. I have my memories back..." She whispered starring at her shelves of tools and mechanical parts.
Then it hit her. Her mother was the woman in the stasis pod! Unfortunately, her memories were still foggy as to how she rescued her mother from Yuri's stronghold, but somehow she'd managed. Guilt swamped her for not once thinking about what had happened to Mara, her mother, or the rest of the crew of the Black Raven, or about her brother's heartache and humiliation. Five days of blissful happiness with Zekk blinded her from everything else. All she could think about was Zekk, it didn't help that he occupied a portion of her mind.
"Jaina, Uncle Luke wants me to go away for a while until all this dies down, but I don't want to leave Tenel Ka, or you, or any of my other friends. Who'll take care of my pets?" Jacen spoke more calmly now, probably all cried out, she thought sadly. Then she got angry. How dare Uncle Luke send Jacen away!
"Mom and dad won't let him send you away Jacen." Jaina stated confidently.
When Jacen started laughing she pulled away to look at his face. "Mom, dad, and uncle Luke suggested the perfect place for me! There's this Emperor who wants an alliance through marriage with the New Republic. And they're suggesting I marry him because his system is so far away."
Jaina grew cold at those words, her fingers started tingling. Sometimes she could sense what her twin felt. Like if she stubbed her toe he'd complain about the pain when they next saw each other. The bond faded as they grew up, she could only sense him when he was close to her like now. Jacen was going into shock she realized, just now noticing how pale his face was, and that his fingers were freezing to her touch. Then she looked into his eyes. "Oh Jacen, what have you done?"
His lips pulled back into a grimace, the pain was just starting to hit his stomach. "I couldn't do it Jaina. I'm not ever going to let a man touch me ever again. I ate baku leaves." A very poisonous plant indigenous to Yavin 4.
Sweat beaded on top of his lips and started running down the sides of his face. Jaina pushed him back onto the bed and scrambled for the door. Her palms sweated so badly it took her two tries to open turn the knob. Without conscious thought she opened her mouth and started screaming at the top of her lungs for help. Then because she didn't think medics would make it in time she ran back to the bed. Jacen was too weak to prevent her from picking him up, she had to hold him over her shoulder, or she wouldn't have been able to carry him. "Oh God Jacen, please stay alive. For me." She didn't notice the tears running down her face until she reached the hall and had trouble seeing everyone's faces.
"Please someone! Tell the medic droids that Jacen's taken Baku leaves!" She didn't see who ran ahead. She was concentrating on making sure her legs didn't collapse. She could hear sobbing and dimly realized that it was her. The doors were opened when she reached the med center and she rushed inside. A medic droid directed her to set Jacen on a table.
Jaina stepped back and tried to clear her eyes to see what the droids placing a mask over Jacen's head, then take it off. Within moments her brother was retching into a bowl the medic droid standing behind him holding his body sideways.
Students stood in the open doorway watching the droids working. Tenel Ka pushed through the crowd of stragglers and ran to her side. "Jaina what happened?" Tenel Ka asked breathlessly her brow furrowed in worry. Seeing Jacen's pale sweating face and the medic droids hovering around him only increased Tenel Ka's anxiety.
"He ate baku leaves." Jaina told her friend, not wanting to explain his reasons, yet. Chairs lined the back wall and she sat down intending to watch the droids work on her brother. Tenel Ka joined her and they held hands. Jacen was so pale lying on the table, she didn't think she'd ever see his cheeks flush with laughter or embarrassment.
Uncle Luke arrived with her father and mother. All the students scattered at Han's glare. They seemed to fill the small room. "Jaina what happened?" Uncle Luke asked softly, while Han walked over to the head medic droid, presumably to find out how Jacen was doing.
"What do you mean you can't tell me if he'll live! Aren't you programmed to know these things?"
Jaina ignored her father yelling at the medic droids and glared at her beloved Uncle and then told him the truth. "He poisoned himself because you said he had to marry an Emperor! A man!"
Her uncle flinched at the accusation and her mom paled. "I never told him he had to marry the Emperor. I told him it was an option." Luke explained uselessly, none of that mattered though; Jacen thought his family would force him to marry, and took matters into his own hands.
Jaina sighed and slouched in her chair, unhappy and confused. Tenel Ka stood up, "Jaina I'll go find Anakin and tell him what's happened." Then she was gone.
Zekk, where are you? She thought desperately needing his comfort. He had to leave in a day or two and now she might lose her brother.
Watching the medic droids hover around the bed, sticking needles into Jacen's arms, hurt her beyond belief. This was her brother, lying there pale and lifeless, except for the tiny rise and fall of his chest. It alarmed her when the droids strapped Jacen's wrists to table, but Uncle Luke quickly explained. "They're to keep him from trying to kill himself again, Jaina. Which means you got him here in time to save him."
Her mom and dad sat in silence, until Anakin barged into the medic center. "Mom! Dad! Is Jacen all right? Tenel Ka told me he was sick!" Anakin spoke rather loudly, considering the small audience of silent adults.
Her dad rubbed his eyes before looking at his youngest son. "Jacen will be fine. He poisoned himself, but the medic droids saved his life. Now sit down and be quiet." Han Solo ordered, wearily. Anakin flopped onto the chair next to Jaina and slouched sticking his feet out into the walkway.
Tenel Ka entered the room more sedately holding a piece of paper in her hand.
"Jaina I tried to find Zekk but he's gone. This was in his room. I also couldn't find Lowbacca." She said quietly handing her the paper. It was a note from Zekk. Jaina clutched it to her chest afraid to read his rejection.
"Thank you." Jaina forced out from her numb lips. Then folded the small piece of paper and stuck it in her pocket.
After an eternity, the head medic droid came to them. "Han Solo and Leia Solo, you are the guardians of Jacen Solo, are you not?" It's metallic voice had a weird vibration to it, but most droids talked like that; at least this one was more useful than C-3PO.
Her mother spoke for the first time. "Yes Jacen is my son."
The confirmation signaled for the droid to proceed in its report. "Jacen Solo, requires one day of bed rest afterwards he'll be fully recovered. The poison has not spread far enough to cause serious damage. In the process of saving Jacen Solo's life, we purged his stomach and injected the antidote. You may pick him up five hours from now." The droid didn't wait for them to ask questions before it ambled off to join its counterpart.
Standing up, Luke extended his had towards hers and Jaina accepted the offered help. "We need to have a family conference." Luke said ushering everyone out of the room.
In his office, Luke sat behind the desk after finding chairs for everyone else. Han and Leia invited Tenel Ka. "Han do you want to explain what is happening?" Luke asked sounding very tired.
"We better call the Emperor in here, because he's the one who is causing all the trouble." Han said slouching in his chair, holding Leia's hand.
"I want to know what Emperor you are talking about?" Jaina demanded before Luke had a chance to reach for the com button.
"Jaina we know your memories are gone, but we are your family and have your best interests at heart." Han answered.
"Bull! This is the first time you told me since I've landed on the planet that you are in any way related to me! I have my memories back dad and I guess your only excuse is that you were too worried about mom to think about me, or my feelings! So don't tell me you have our bests interests at heart, if that were so Jacen wouldn't be in the med center!" She was breathing heavily by the time she finished yelling at everyone. Through the open window the sun was setting.
Tenel Ka jumped up and hugged her. "Jaina! I'm so glad your memories returned, when did this happen?"
"This morning," Jaina grudgingly answered, almost smiling at her friend's uncharacteristic enthusiasm. And political tact. Her friend had diverted her parent's attention to herself instead of to their willful daughter, who'd just yelled at them for the first time in her life. Granted she had just cause but then why was the Force telling her that her parents were desperately unhappy with the situation and felt guilty for neglecting them.
"Does Jacen know?" Anakin asked, somewhat solemn.
"Yeah, I think so, I told him before I realized how sick he was. I don't know why they returned today, I just woke up and I remembered everything..." She trailed off, not wanting to hint at how badly she had reacted with Zekk in her bed. Guilt over her actions made her blush. She had to find him and apologize before it was too late.
Han stood up and started pacing. "Luke, we better wait until Jacen is better before introducing the kids to the Emperor. It's probably best that we do it all at one time. I think it's time we all ate something and maybe hit the sack. What do you think honey?" Han finally asked his wife for her opinion.
"I think that may be best. Right now we are all tired and hungry. Things will look sunnier tomorrow." She agreed with Han.
Just as they were about to kick them out of the room, Anakin stalled. "Wait a minute! You haven't told us anything about this Emperor?"
For some reason everyone turned towards Han. "Fine a quick explanation. But tomorrow you have to meet the Emperor, he's spent too much time here as it is." After pausing and taking a deep breath, Han continued. "Emperor Kalland, of the Schridon system, is the Emperor I'm talking about. His scientists have found a faster propulsion drive and he agreed to share his knowledge with the New Republic is if we are allies through marriage. He wants to marry one of you, because your mother is Chief of State. Now the Emperor does have other husbands and wives, but not a regent. I agreed to the marriage on the stipulation that whoever marries him become co-ruler. With the faster propulsion drive you won't be as far away..." Han's voice trailed off in the face of Anakin's and Jaina's furious glares.
"Look if we don't become allies, he'll take the technology to the Empire!" Han tried defending himself. "Your mother and I already signed the papers, long before the Byss incident."
"What about our Jedi training?" Jaina demanded after she got over the horror of her father's bargain.
This time Luke stepped in, "Once you're betrothed you can continue your training, I think the Emperor is willing to wait until you are of age. As a Jedi you can start teaching his people the ways of the Force. Or help keep peace through diplomacy. Having a fully trained Jedi as co-ruler of a powerful system can't hurt the New Republic. We need all the allies we can get." Luke suggested.
It looked like the adults had thought of everything but Jaina was far from happy with their manipulations. "I'm in love with Zekk and Jacen would rather kill himself than have sex with a man. What do you suggest that Anakin marry him?"
Leia tried next. "Honey, you're very young still. First loves rarely ever last. You shouldn't give up this chance to marry the Emperor, especially since it'll help so many people." Jaina looked at her dad, Uncle Luke, and her mom and realized that they all wanted her to marry this unknown man.
Anakin was never a choice and neither was Jacen. As long as she didn't have her memories they couldn't make her marry the Emperor, but now that they'd returned she was obligated. "I can't." She whispered shaking her head. She loved Zekk and nothing would ever change that despite her mother's argument.
"Maybe once you meet Kalland you'll change your mind. He's a very charming man and he has a good heart. I sensed it. Your father and I would never have made the contract if Kalland didn't meet with your uncle's approval and mine. We had everything checked out." Leia laid her hand on her shoulder and Jaina tried not to flinch away. Where was Zekk? Jaina thought despairingly, how was she going to stop this travesty. The note in her pocket burned at the back of her mind. She needed to read it soon.
"Fine whatever." Jaina mumbled just wanting to placate the adults so she could leave the room and read the note. Maybe Zekk could take her with him. She couldn't marry a man she didn't love.
Leia smiled, "Okay now why don't we find some food. I'm sure the cafeteria is still serving dinner."
"It is." Luke confirmed. "You guys go ahead. I need to see the Emperor and make arrangements for your introductions. Hopefully, Jacen will be well enough by then."
Tenel Ka stared hard at her parents as they led the way to the cafeteria. Anakin looked least troubled by this new turn of events. Obviously, Tenel Ka didn't want Jacen marrying the Emperor, and yet Tenel Ka probably realized that if Jaina's parents could bargain her hand in marriage to a stranger, so could the Queen Mother of the Hapes Cluster.
Even though they were almost Jedi, because of who their parents were their options were limited. Dinner was a gloomy affair no matter how hard Leia and Han tried to make their children smile.
Closing the door to her room after she finally escaped her family, only reminded her that Zekk was gone. She dug out his note and started reading the lazy scrawl of Zekk's poor penmanship.
Jaina I'm not apologizing for loving you. You made me happy when in my darkest hour. I'll try to return before the dream world takes me.
Crumbling the letter in her fist it was all she could do to not scream or cry. She had to go to Zekk's room. Maybe he left a clue as to where he went. Luckily Zekk's room was just down the hall. Not knocking, Jaina turned the handle and pushed the door open. It was dark, so she flipped the light switch. Total chaos greeted her. The dresser blocked the window, the mattress shredded, the bed frame standing up against the wall. Drawers were upside down and clothes scattered everywhere.
Zekk must have been out of his mind with fury when he destroyed his room. The dresser was not meant to be apart from the wall. Nails stuck out of the wall, dangerously so, and half the wood stuck. Standing in the doorway of Zekk's room grief and overwhelm her mind. Sliding down the doorframe Jaina wrapped her arms around her legs and started crying. He'd left her, because she'd overreacted. Now she might not have the chance to tell him her true feelings. "Oh Zekk I'm so sorry." She sobbed into her knees. She was such a fool! If only she could take back everything she said, he'd be here now instead of out in the jungle, alone, avoiding her and thinking that she didn't love him anymore.
Zekk made his make shift camp in the abandoned temple he'd meditated on top of yesterday. Leaving a note for Jaina was a last minute decision. He'd spent most of the day roaming the jungle and trying to gain his center again. It had shaken all his confidence loose, Jaina's reaction. Staring into the darkness, sleep eluded him for hours, but at some point his eyes closed and when he opened them he was with his mother under the dying tree. Gone were the green grasses.
"Hi mom." He said sitting next to her.
"Zekk! I was beginning to think you weren't going to show up tonight." Her smile of pleasure warmed him.
"It's Jaina..." Zekk started and told his mother everything up to and including the destruction of his innocent room, and his bailing out of the Academy to hide from Jaina.
"I see." She said solemnly looking off to the horizon.
"You said she started throwing up?"
That threw him? Her question. "Yeah, she was so disgusted with what I had done to her that she got sick."
"I see," She repeated. "Zekk you mustn't let this hurt you. Both of you are young. She is two years younger than you are. I felt her mind and she would never hurt you on purpose. Maybe she overreacted and regrets what she said. Are you going to say goodbye to your friends before you leave?"
Zekk picked at the grass not wanting to answer her question. Not sure if he really wanted to see anyone for a million years. "I guess so." He mumbled, too low for anyone to really hear, but she understood him.
"Your friend Jacen tried killing himself today." The beautiful woman threw out, shocking Zekk.
"He did?" Zekk asked doubting his mom. How could she know what was happening in his world?
"Yes, and you have to help him before you start your training. Otherwise you'll never see him again."
"How am I suppose to help him? Jacen has a family that loves him. Can't they help?" Zekk complained.
"Yes, but only you truly understand what he's been through. It's almost dawn. Tomorrow night your training starts. Good luck, my son." She vanished like mist.
Zekk stayed a while longer watching the sun set.
Jaina woke up feeling sick and barely made it to her bathroom before losing the contents of her stomach. Tenel Ka came in an hour later but she was still throwing up and yelled at her friend to go away. Instead of listening to her, Tenel Ka came into the bathroom and wet a washcloth. And gently used it to wipe her forehead. All with one hand.
"What's wrong with me?" Jaina asked, she never got sick let alone twice in two days.
Tenel Ka didn't say anything, which only made her squirm uncomfortably, the motion setting her stomach rolling. One hour later, Jaina joined Tenel Ka in her room. Her friend had already set out her clothes, and looked out the window while she changed. Her legs felt weak and her stomach muscles ached. If this kept up she'd have to make sure she ate more at dinner.
"Jaina this is the second day in a row you were sick, is it not?" Tenel Ka spoke for the first time since she arrived.
"Yes." Jaina answered, brushing her hair, already starting to feel normal.
Dark circles framed her eyes, too much crying.
"I think you should go to the med center. Make sure it's not a virus. I would go with you but I only intended to stop by and tell you that Jacen is feeling better and he's in Anakin's room right now. Until Master Skywalker says otherwise, Jacen is suppose to be with one of us at all times."
Jaina didn't want to go to the med center especially after yesterday, but what if she did have a virus and it wasn't treated? Throwing up every morning for the rest of her life would put a damper on her day. "I'll go to the med center and see what's wrong." Jaina quickly said, "Oh and afterwards I'll head towards Anakin's room. Maybe Jacen would like to go swimming?"
"I'll ask them. Just hurry up, I'm not sure how long I can keep them in Anakin's room." They parted ways in the hallway, heading in opposite directions.
Thirty minutes later, Jaina left the med center stunned. Instead of heading for Anakin's room, Jaina left the main temple and walked towards the hanger bay. Hoping against hope that the Black Raven would still be there. It was and Ralph was sitting on top messing with wires.
"Ralph!" She cried out happy and relieved to see her friend still here.
His head jerked up and when he spotted her, a big smile broke across his face. "Hi Jaina! Long time no see." Ralph set down what he was working and climbed down so they wouldn't have to shout.
"Hey so what are you doing here?" Ralph asked, still smiling.
"I have my memories back, and I came to thank you for your help. I was also hoping to talk with Mara, is she still here?" Jaina questioned the bigger man, trying not to fidget, holding her hands together behind her back helped.
"Well you're welcome. And she's not here. Mara is with Kale up on the Emperor's fancy fleet ship, trading for better parts. She should be back sometime tonight or tomorrow. I can send you a message when she returns?" He offered.
Trying to smile through her disappointment was difficult but somehow she managed. "Thanks I would really appreciate it. I'm sorry I can't stay and visit, but my parents want us to meet this Emperor, and I have to go and dress up in something nicer." Pointing out her baggy grease stained pants. Her shirt was clean though. Before Ralph had a chance to ask where Zekk was, Jaina spun around and ran out of the hanger. Leaving behind one startled man.
It wasn't until she reentered the main temple that she remembered her friend and brothers waiting for her. Her parents and uncle stood outside Anakin's room when she finally showed up.
"Jaina those clothes won't do when you meet the Emperor," were the first words out of her mother's mouth.
Then Jaina noticed her brothers and Tenel Ka. Jacen and Anakin wearing all white, their tops were tightly woven silk mesh and showed their nipples. Both her brothers had rebellion in their eyes. Neither of them liked their parent's choice in clothing. Jaina couldn't blame them they looked like bed slaves. Yuri dressed Zekk in much the same way. Tenel Ka on the other hand appeared elegant in her light blue dress, which clung, to her body, not hiding the stump where her arm used to be. It made a startling contrast, her friend's beauty marred only by ugly absence of her arm.
"Here, you can change in Anakin's room. We have to meet the Emperor shortly." Her mother thrust the white dress into her arms and gently led her into the small room. Before she could protest the door closed behind her. Might as well get this over with, she thought and quickly changed. The white dress made her feel naked it was much like her brother's clothing except instead of white silk pants she had a dress. The only thing that didn't match were her shoes, but in the corner by the door were three boxes, two of which were already open. The third box contained a white pair of sandals with heels. Not knowing why she wanted to look good, Jaina nevertheless brushed her hair again and instead of tying it into a ponytail, she kept it loose.
Her dad and uncle's eyes widened in shock when she finally stepped out of Anakin's room. They probably never imagined she had breasts. The dress clung to her every curve, and Jaina couldn't stop feeling self-conscious as they were herded to the fifth level of the temple where Uncle Luke housed all important diplomats. Including her parents. Luckily none of the other students saw them.
Or they would never have lived it down.
They followed their parents down the long hallway, until they stopped in front of the largest room in the temple. Han knocked on the door three times and a woman wearing all white opened the door. She bowed and backed away holding the door open for them to enter.
Jaina sensed Jacen's apprehension and saw that he was holding Tenel Ka's hand tightly. Her brother really loved the girl, just like she loved Zekk. How were they going to convince the Emperor that he was wasting their time trying to marry them?
The room was spacious and bright, sunlight shined through the two balcony's windows. A large four poster bed dominated the center of the room. A man sat on a chair near the far wall that was obviously hurriedly raised high on a wooden platform. Servants stood at attention in all corners of the room, Jaina counted six.
"Your majesty, Princess Leia Organa Skywalker Solo, her husband, retired General Han Solo, and her children. Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin, also introducing Jedi Master Skywalker and Princess Tenal Ka of the Hapes Cluster." Jaina and Jacen both scanned the room trying to find out who called out the introduction. Neither of them saw the person who could yell that loudly and still sound dignified.
Jaina stopped walking towards the dais and her dad's hand tightened on her shoulder and pushed, until she stumbled and started walking again. Color heated her cheeks, and she turned and glared at her dad. Who didn't flinch or show any sign that he cared for her.
Princess Leia gave a small bow to the intimidating man sitting on the large chair, before lining up her reluctant children in front of the Emperor. Jaina refused to look anywhere but the ground. "Your Majesty, this is my daughter Jaina," her mom shoved her forward lightly but because she wasn't expecting it and was not used to wearing heeled shoes; Jaina stumbled almost landing in the Emperor's lap.
Luckily he moved quickly and caught her in his muscular arms. "Easy little one." A rich deep voice said and Jaina's embarrassed eyes shot to the Emperor's own dark blue ones, which shone with amusement. She quickly regained her footing and jumped back. Standing up, the Emperor easily towered over her and Jacen. He was taller than six feet and all muscle. His hawk nose, bronze skin and rugged features gave him the appearance of ruthlessness and intelligence. Labor was no stranger to this man, if Jaina judged correctly.
"Oh I'm so sorry Jaina." Her mom said with a small embarrassed laugh and giving her a hug.
When Leia went to introduce Jacen, he moved away from her arms before she tried pushing him at the Emperor. "I'm Jacen Solo." Jacen said glaring at the taller man.
"And I'm Anakin." Her younger brother chimed in; he was the only one smiling. His slenderness was more pronounced next to the Emperor's build if only because they were almost the same height. Piercing blue eyes stared at Anakin for a long time before centering on her again.
She hardened her expression and noted, guiltily, the flicker of surprise before his eyes turned cold. Feeling lower than the lowest pond scum, Jaina lowered her head. This man came all this way to find a consort and instead he had to deal with the three of them.
"My name is Kalland, have your parents told you why I'm here?" His voice was deep and cultured. She couldn't imagine why he would want to marry her. Glancing at her fingers told her that yes black stains hid under her fingernails. No matter how much she scrubbed her hands and fingers the grease stains stayed.
Jaina didn't feel like answering, and Jacen refused to look at Kalland, instead he stared at the wall behind the Emperor's head. No mean feat considering he was standing right in front of them. Giving a loud sigh of exasperation, Anakin answered Kalland. "Yes they told us why you are here. You're looking for someone to be your consort by marriage. And in return for marrying one of us, you'll give the New Republic knowledge of your new propulsion system."
"That is correct. I have a question of my own. Why is Tenel Ka, of the Hapes Cluster here?" Jacen looked over his shoulder towards the girl he loved. She stood straight and tall, gazing at the Emperor with a blank expression.
"Jacen and Jaina are my friends." Tenel Ka answered simply, when the Emperor stayed silent she expounded. "I plan on marrying Jacen myself."
Han Solo groaned and her mother gasped. Jacen grinned, the closest thing to a smile she'd seen in days.
Kalland smiled, his white teeth showing surprising everyone. "I see. You may stay after all." He turned around and picked up a sheet of paper that was next to his throne like chair. "My informants, tell me that Jaina and Jacen are both twins and seventeen years old. Anakin is the youngest at fifteen. Is this information correct?" He asked looking at their parents.
Jaina tried to hold her temper. This was humiliating. She knew her parents intended for her to marry the Emperor, why didn't they just finish the formalities. "Yes it is." Leia answered.
"Your Majesty, can you please hurry and make your choice?" Jacen commanded somewhat politely, despite knowing the Emperor was a flesh and blood man the suspense was killing him too.
Kalland looked taken aback by Jacen's rudeness, but recovered quickly. "Fine I had planned on talking to each of you individually, but I see that you are all impatient to go. I pick Jaina, my advisors want me to have a female consort." The Emperor answered honestly.
Jaina groaned, unhappiness filling her whole being. She could not marry the Emperor, knowing what she knew. "I can't marry you, your Majesty." Jaina said extremely embarrassed and ashamed, but she still looked directly at the man. He deserved that much. Hopefully, he'd take her refusal at face value and not ask why.
His face flushed either in anger or chagrin, she couldn't tell. She was too upset to focus on using the Force. However it didn't take Force knowledge to see how happy Jacen was, his smile faded, however, at her refusal.
"May I ask why you can't marry me." The Emperor's voice dropped dangerously low.
Jaina grasped at the essence of Zekk in her mind, gathering her courage. She admired her friend and lover so much. For a brief moment, his thoughts filled her mind and the darkness inside her fled. "I can't marry you because I'm pregnant." Jaina answered with some regret, her hand moving towards her stomach unconsciously.
"I'm going to kill him!" Her father yelled and would have run out of the room to find Zekk, except her uncle grabbed his arm.
"No you're not! He's one of my best students!" Luke exclaimed.
Jacen and Anakin crowded too close to her trying to feel her stomach. "We're going to be uncles!" Anakin exclaimed happily. All order in the room broke down. Tenel Ka gave her a hug. While the grown-ups stood around looking pissed off.
After everyone's initial reactions, Princess Leia's voice yelled at them to be quiet. Jacen and Anakin stopped crowding around her, so her mom could either hug her or strangle her. "Jaina, when did you find out?" She asked quietly, but by then the whole room fell silent so everyone could still hear.
"This morning." She answered squirming uncomfortably all to conscious of Emperor, who undoubtedly thought they were all addlebrained. "I'm sorry!" Jaina cried out, seeing the reproach in her mom's eyes.
Turning towards Kalland she tried to explain and apologize. "I'm sorry for all of this. I never meant for any of it to happen! Maybe if I never lost all my memories I wouldn't have fallen in love, but that's what happened. I didn't know my parents were planning a marriage for me. I'm sorry!" Jaina felt guilty for making this man come half way across the galaxy to pick her up and marry only to tell him she was already carrying someone else's child. His eyes didn't flicker so much as an inch. She needed to get out of there now! Her eyes started watering. Spinning on her slippery shoes, she pushed her way past Jacen and Tenal Ka and ran to the doors, using the Force to slam the doors open.
She kept running and running, ignoring all the stares, ignoring her lack of air. She kept running until she found Zekk. Her instincts led her outside and to an old temple she rarely visited. Zekk was standing in the middle of the temple waiting for her, or so it seemed. Sobbing she threw herself into his arms. "Oh God Zekk, please take me with you!" She begged crying into his shoulder.
Some time later, laying with Zekk on his bedrolls, she listened to the sound of rain echoing in the once great hall. It always rained. Jaina told him all about her parents plan to marry her off and how she ran out after telling a very powerful Emperor that she was in love with Zekk and could not marry anyone else. Jaina decided not to tell Zekk about the baby she carried. Even after begging Zekk to take her with him, she knew it wasn't possible.
"I'm sorry for all the things I said to you after I regained my memories." Jaina apologized, starring at the vine-covered wall. Her head rested on Zekk's chest.
"I thought you hated me?" He said, running his fingers through her hair.
She sensed his insecurity and said the first thing that came to her mind. "I could never hate you." Then she kissed him. "You're leaving sometime tonight aren't you?" She asked hating the way her voice caught in an almost sob.
He didn't answer for a while but when Zekk did he was resolute. "I have to."
*I know* She sent to his mind, along with all the love she felt for him.
"I'll wait for you." Jaina promised, mentally planning her escape from Yavin 4.
"You will?" Zekk sounded excited by her vow. He sat up and she sat up so she could face him. His eyes danced with excitement.
"I'll come back as soon as I can, Jaina, I can promise you that." Zekk touched her cheek with the back of his fingers. Then kissed her innocently on the lips. "Let's talk. We've been so busy, we never really had a chance to really talk." Zekk laid back down and she lay her head on his chest and they talked to each other, knowing this might be the last time they would see each other in maybe years.
They talked about ships, games, games they would like to play, places they would like to go, fish, and everything in between. She told him her hopes, fears, and wishes, namely that Jacen will be happy again. She told him about Jacen's attempted suicide. He described all the things he wanted to do when he returned, they both agreed they wanted to become Jedi Knights, his hopes and fears greatly mirrored hers. The sun set slowly, its rays fading from the entrance. Then he made love to her for the last time.
Jacen stared in shock at the spot where Jaina had previously stood. He'd never seen his sister move so fast, or use the Force so ruthlessly, she didn't even notice pushing Uncle Luke out of the way with the power of the Force. The room was silent for a few moments after the doors banged closed. Then his mother and father tried speaking to the Emperor, who was still starring at the doorway.
"Your Majesty. I'm sorry about Jaina. There is no excuse for her behavior." His mother tried to explain. Jacen wondered what was so damn important that his mother was almost fawning over this man. It had to have something to do with the safety of the New Republic, sometimes that seemed to be the only thing she was passionate about anymore.
"Leia, drop it." Han said tiredly. "Jaina is grown up and so is Jacen. We can't force them to marry against their wills." Facing Kalland now, Han continued. "Your Majesty, I'm sorry but unless one of my sons agree to marry you, I'm not going to force them too. You can have your five-minute talk with them if you so wish. Although, I doubt it'll do any good with Jacen. If neither of them agree to the marriage we, the New Republic, are willing to negotiate other terms for a peace alliance and exchange of technology."
Kalland gazed at his father almost with respect. "That will be fine. I'd like to talk to Jacen first, if that is okay with the young man."
"Jacen?" His father asked.
Knowing his father really wanted him to give it a try, he said, "I can talk to him" while looking at Kalland.
"We'll be waiting in the hall." His mother said, within moments the room was completely empty. It was unnerving, the silence.
"Tell me. What is the real reason you don't want to marry me? Is it because I'm a man?" The deep voice startled him out of his thoughts.
Jacen lowered his head, trying to think of the best way to answer without offending the older man. Then decided to tell the Emperor the truth. "I was raped by a couple of men." His voice choked on that nasty truth, but he forced himself to continue, "Maybe if it wasn't for that I would be willing to marry you, but I'm also in love with Princess Tenel Ka. I want to marry her someday," he paused and then added. "Assuming her family lets me."
Leaning back in his chair, Kalland gave the appearance of a big lazy cat. His eyes were just as sharp and didn't miss anything. "I'm aware of the scandal, I saw the pictures on the holonet as well." Jacen cringed inwardly, but Kalland spoke as if this was ordinary. "That is why you were never one of my choices. I don't think I ever would have been able to convince you that I wouldn't hurt you if we'd married. Also your reputation is completely ruined. Your father filled me in on what occurred and I believe him. However I doubt my subjects will be so forgiving. Being a consort is a huge responsibility as is being an Emperor. Having the respect of the populace is vital, and I wouldn't have the time to help you overcome your fears." Surprisingly, kindness and understanding filled the Emperor's eyes. Irrationally, he expected Kalland to be evil in some way.
"So I don't have to worry about marrying you?" Jacen asked confirming what he heard.
Instead of answering, Kalland leaned forward and said, "Tell me about your brother, Anakin?"
The polite command startled Jacen, but only for a moment. "Well...he's funny, smart, strong in the Force..." That is when he floundered. Jacen didn't know what Kalland wanted to know, and he'd grown apart from his younger brother during all their long absences from each other. "I'm sorry. Is there anything specific that you wanted to know about him?" Jacen asked worriedly.
Sighing, Kalland answered. "Is he a just person?"
"Your Majesty, we all are. Anakin wants to become a Jedi Knight. Our father might have been a smuggler and our mom may be busy governing the New Republic, but they still taught us the values of friendship, loyalty, honor, and justice. And our Uncle, Jedi Master Skywalker, taught us to help those in need, even if it puts our life in peril. Sir, the Jedi Knights all have gifts and these powers allow us to accomplish things no ordinary human or alien can do. We have to use these our powers to bring peace to the galaxy, and stop tyranny." Jacen stopped speaking amazed at how much he said and that he really meant every word. He glanced into Kalland's eyes, almost expecting to see anger or amusement. Older men on the council generally didn't like it when he or his sister talked to them as equals.
His eyes weren't angry, amused, or troubled, just thoughtful. "You and your sister are like your mother. She's a passionate woman and cares very much for her people. Just as you do."
"Call me Kalland." The Emperor interrupted him.
Okay. "Kalland, why are you asking questions about Anakin? You aren't seriously considering him are you?"
Smiling, Kalland stood up and without touching him once, led him to the door. Jacen opened it and stuck his head out. His whole family and servants sat on the benches lining the great hallway. "Anakin, Kalland wants to talk to you." His younger brother sat up straighter and quickly got to his feet. Jacen stepped into the hallway and went directly to Tenel Ka. The door closed behind his brother and all they had to do was wait to find out what was going to happen.
His mom and dad didn't speak, although it was very obvious they wanted to, maybe it was some sort of training they tried to force on him and Jaina, or they didn't want the servants telling the Emperor every little thing they said.
The audience took longer than he expected, and he was hungry by the time the door opened and Anakin walked out with a grin on his face. "Kalland says you can come back inside." He held the door open while everyone filed back inside the bedchamber.
Kalland was on his makeshift throne and Anakin stood by his side. Anakin leaned over and whispered into the Emperor's ear. Laughing, the Emperor didn't look as old, and Jacen tried to remember how old his mom said Kalland was, maybe twenty-six or seven?
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting out in the hall for so long." Kalland apologized once everyone was standing before him.
"Mom, dad, Uncle Luke. I've decided to marry Kalland." Anakin blurted out, surprising everyone.
"What...why?" His mom sputtered too shocked to form a coherent sentence.
"Would you like to explain?" Kalland asked Anakin.
His brother shook his head and stood straighter. "I think you might explain better."
Nodding, Kalland told them of their arrangement. "Anakin has consented to marry me when he turns eighteen. Until that time, however, I'll require his presence at my summer palace for three months every year. This is so that the people can become accustomed to their future regent. Anakin will also use that opportunity to learn how to govern my vast Empire as my consort. There are a few more details we need to work out in the marriage contract, such as the number of children we'll have, state visits, and other things of that nature."
It all made sense, except for the children part. "But..."
As if reading his mind the Emperor answered everyone's unspoken question. "We have facilities that will combine our DNA and I have plenty of concubines who can host our children. I've already explained this to Anakin and we are both happy with the arrangement. Is it possible for Anakin to be a full Jedi by the time he turns eighteen?" Kalland asked.
Uncle Luke stayed silent for a moment thinking, "Yes I believe it's possible."
"Good, Uncle Luke I would like to start a school in the Schridon Empire, but I need a lot more training." Anakin chimed in, smiling happily.
Jacen wondered if Anakin would be smiling if he knew how painful it was, sex with men. Jacen wanted to tell his younger brother not to do it, but Anakin looked too happy for him to spoil the day with his fears.
"Well, it's been a long informative day. I think we should retire to the private dinning area, the servants should have dinner ready for us now. If everyone will come with me." Uncle Luke wrapped his arm around his mom's shoulder. She still looked pale and weak. Today must have sapped some of her strength.
His dad spoke up before they made it to the door. "Emperor Kalland, can I please have a moment alone with you?"
Jacen glanced towards the Emperor, who had his hand on Anakin's shoulder. Nodding his head, Kalland released Anakin. "Yes, of course."
Anakin stopped walking when Kalland paused. Their father's dark glare was the only reason his brother ran and caught up with them. Both men were staring at each other when Jacen led his brother out of the room.
Han Solo, gazed up into Kalland's eyes, not at all intimidated by the man's larger frame or muscle mass. Once the doors closed, he let the emperor know what he was thinking. "First I don't really approve of homosexual relationships. I'm trying to keep open minded about this and the only reason I'll allowing this marriage is because the New Republics needs powerful allies. So keep your hands off Anakin until you're married."
Kalland slowly started smiling. "I like you, Han Solo. It's good to know my future consort has such good parents. Don't worry he'll have a chaperone with him at all times while he is in my care. There are some that may try to assassinate him before we marry. My personal bodyguard droid will protect him from my enemies and me, if the need shall arise."
Knowing that was probably the best he'll get Han nodded and said, "That's good with me."
"You have interesting children, if I may say so." Kalland said conversationally while they walked to the private dinning room.
Laughing, he replied. "You don't know the half of it."
It was dark outside when Zekk left the temple. There was one more thing he had to do before he could leave. Making his way to the main temple, Zekk kept to the shadows, not wanting anyone to stop him from his course. If he thought about what he was doing he'd run back to Jaina and stay with her until the dreamworld took him.
Jacen was awake when he entered the small room. Jacen looked up startled from the book he was reading. "Zekk what are you doing here?" The younger teen looking so much like Jaina asked.
"I'm leaving tonight, and I don't know when I'll be back. But before I go I think we need to help each other." Zekk said sitting down on the bed next to Jacen. His friend was half-naked, obviously just about to go to bed.
"Help each other? How?" he asked, setting aside his book and scooting away from him.
"Do you feel terrified when men come too close to you?" Zekk asked softly.
Breathing faster Jacen brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. "Why are you asking me this?"
"Because I feel that way. I'm so scared inside and I don't think this feeling will ever go away unless I do something to change it."
"There is nothing you can do to help me. Did Jaina tell you I tried to kill myself?" Jacen asked suspiciously.
Taking a moment, Zekk debated on whether or not he should lie, but decided to stick with the truth. "Yes she told me. That is why I'm here." Zekk pulled the blanket off Jacen and moved closer.
"What are you doing?" Jacen sounded nervous. Anxiety filled both their eyes. Zekk knew what he had to do, but forcing Jacen to go along with it wouldn't help either of them.
"I want to make love with you." Zekk said simply.
Jacen tried to bolt out of the bed, but Zekk put his arm up, stopping his friend from running. "Wait hear me out. I promise I won't hurt you."
"I can't, Zekk! Why are you asking this of me? I thought we were friends." It didn't take Jedi powers to hear the betrayal and fear in Jacen's voice.
"We are friends, that is why you're the only person I can ask or trust enough to do this with. We can't go through life being terrified of every man who comes to close. We'll go insane. I think that if we make love, we'll know what it's like without the fear and guilt of rape, and move on with our lives. I love Jaina and I know you love Tenel Ka. This will be between us two." Zekk felt like he'd never argued for something so passionately in his life.
Jacen didn't look convinced, but his eyes did waver from absolute no to uncertainty. Zekk leaned over and pressed his lips to Jacen's. It was like kissing a girl. He pulled back and gazed into Jacen's eyes again. This time Jacen timidly kissed him back, his hand touching his shoulder lightly. They kissed longer this time; Zekk touched his tongue to Jacen's lips, wetting them lightly.
When they pulled back this time both of them were breathing faster and Zekk was positive that Jacen's fear was mirrored in his own eyes. But they gamely pressed on. Zekk let Jacen slowly undress him while they kissed softly and eventually passionately.
They must have kissed for hours before they were ready for anything more. Jacen took him first, using the lotion he kept in his nightstand, Zekk tensed, expecting pain, but Jacen's semi-concerned lust filled gaze reminded him that this was Jacen. His friend would never purposely hurt him. Wrapping his arms around Jacen's back Zekk pulled him closer and kissed him until the pain passed. A tentative hand around his arousal surprised him, within moments they were straining against each other, both caught in pleasure. Without much effort, Jacen caught both of Zekk's hands and held them, his fingers intertwined with his friend's. Something inherently erotic about holding hands sent him over the edge. Shuddering and convulsing with his thighs locked to Jacen's hips, Zekk came. His hot seed spilled between their sweat slicked bodies. Jacen's breathy moans grew louder and with a few hard thrusts his friend followed him, their intertwined fingers tightening in an almost painful grip. Loud breathing filled the small room and with the lights dim, Zekk could barely see Jacen's astonished eyes gazing down at him. Zekk tensed when Jacen slowly withdrew from his body, expecting pain, instead all he felt was a faint tugging.
Jacen flopped down next to him so they were laying side by side on a bed designed for one person. Neither of them knew what to say, the experience beyond what either of them expected. Breaking the silence Jacen said softly, "Thanks Zekk, that was really something." Zekk smiled and captured Jacen's hand that was wondering up and down his leg, caressing him.
Zekk got up briefly and grabbed a washcloth; he jumped back onto the bed and cleaned them both. He tossed the cloth onto the floor and lay back down. He ran his fingers through Jacen's short hair, before he made his move.
With a twist, Zekk pulled Jacen over his body, flip him over onto his back and straddle his smaller friend. Smiling to show Jacen he didn't mean to startle him, Zekk leaned down and kissed Jacen. A slight soreness when he bent over the only indication of his previous activities. "Now it's my turn." Zekk said playfully when he came up for air.
Zekk felt Jacen's fear even before his eyes darkened. "Shhh...I won't hurt you. I promise." He reassured his friend softly. His free hand drifted towards Jacen's lax erection, by the time his fingers lightly drifted over the expanse of Jacen's hairless chest and down his tight abdomen, his erection was straining and pulsating with blood. Wrapping his fist around his friend, he pumped Jacen's erection a few times, before moving down Jacen's body, trailing kisses designed to drive Jacen insane with lust. It worked.
When he finally replaced his fingers with his mouth, Jacen arched his back off the bed and cried out thickly. "Oh Zekk!" He sucked Jacen until he was positive his friend was about to come and then he removed his mouth. Moaning with disappointment, Jacen tried to use his own hands to bring himself off, but Zekk intercepted them and kissed each palm. Grabbing the lotion Jacen used on him, Zekk quickly lathered some on his erection and dabbed some around Jacen's opening. So far gone in pleasure and need, Jacen spread his legs wider. Zekk used his middle finger and slowly inserted it into his friend, stretching the tight opening and inserting the lotion inside Jacen's body at the same time. When Jacen was ready, Zekk placed the tip of his erection against the opening and pushed gently, his arms holding Jacen's thighs towards his chest. Jacen whimpered and Zekk wrapped his hand around Jacen's erection and pumped it slowly. Fear entered his friend's brown eyes, but Zekk continued to push until the head of his erection entered Jacen's body. It felt so tight and hot, Zekk had to use all his control to not thrust the rest of the way in. The lotion made entering easier, but Zekk still took his time, slowly withdrawing and thrusting, until he was embedded all the way into his friend. Their faces were inches apart when Zekk stopped. Jacen's harsh breathing filled the tiny room, however the fear was gone, Zekk groaned when Jacen's muscles tensed, stroking his erection. "You feel so good." Zekk moaned and pulled out most of the way and thrust back. Jacen's eyes widened and his hands gripped his arms, tightening with every thrust home. Zekk changed the angle of his thrusts, and Jacen cried out, "Do that again." Knowing he'd found the spot, he smiled and thrust again, enjoying the wonder filled eyes staring up at him.
In the back of his mind, Zekk wondered why no one came to the door to find out if someone was killing Jacen. His friend was loud, just like Jaina. With a rush of oh my gods, Jacen's body tightened, flushed, and convulsed, white seed spilling between them, again. The frantic movements were enough to send Zekk over the edge. This time Zekk was exhausted and all he wanted to do was sleep. However, first he had to pull out of Jacen. Slowly releasing Jacen's legs, he let them slid down his sides, Jacen was blinking his eyes rather fast and Zekk pulled out quickly and fell to the side. Careful not to crush his friend.
"Hey what's wrong?" Zekk asked concerned when tears started falling down Jacen's cheeks.
His voice rough, Jacen said. "It's nothing." And turned away.
"You're crying." Zekk stated patiently. "I didn't hurt you did I?" he asked worried that maybe he'd mistaken Jacen's cries passion.
"No Zekk you didn't hurt me. I'd never felt anything so wonderful. I keep thinking my first time should have been like this. There's nothing you can do."
Zekk wrapped his arm around Jacen's chest and hugged the warm sweaty body to him, not sure how to help. When had everything become so complicated he wondered despairingly? Zekk felt no guilt about making love with Jacen. This was something they both needed to do, to overcome their fears. However maybe he'd made a mistake...
"I can listen." Zekk said. "Maybe if you talked to someone you'll feel better."
Instinctively, Zekk knew that while Tenal Ka may know what had happened, Jacen hadn't talked to anyone about what happened on Sirus 3. It was as if the floodgates opened, Jacen started sobbing into his pillow. Zekk pulled Jacen around and held him gently. Haltingly and with tears Jacen told his story.
Hours later just before the sun rose, Zekk left Jacen's bed and headed for the bathroom. His skin was sticky with sweat and dried come. Mindlessly, Zekk cleaned himself off with a wet washcloth, his skin felt sensitive. In a way he felt better for helping Jacen. The fear of men that stayed with him for the last month, while it was still there, wasn't as sharp or terrifying as before. Drinking water helped sooth his sore throat, he hadn't expected them to talk for so long, but using the Force, he sensed that Jacen was more at peace with himself and the events that took place on Sirus 3.
Still naked, Zekk walked back to Jacen's bed, conscious of every movement he made. He felt sore, but not nearly as bad as when Yuri raped him. This soreness reminded him of how much pleasure he felt every time Jacen moved within him. This time there was no guilt when he cried out for more. Jacen was lying on his back, tears still stained his pale cheeks, and dried come covered his chest and abdomen. Carefully, so as not to wake his friend, Zekk gently washed the mess off with the washcloth.
After cleaning Jacen, Zekk stood at the open window and watched the sun rise. The cool breeze felt good on his naked skin. He might have stayed longer, but his eyes felt tried and he could sense that it was time for him to go. It was like a voice calling to him, a welcome voice. Stumbling towards his clothes, Zekk dressed. He just wanted to stay awake long enough to make it to his room, but the calling was becoming stronger and he could barely keep his eyes open anymore. The hall outside Jacen's room was dark and deserted, but he made it to his room within minutes. The destruction of his room would have depressed him if he weren't so sleepy. With a little use of his power Zekk righted mattress and lay down, hugging his extra pillow to his chest. Within moments he was asleep and then he was gone.
Jaina woke up alone in the abandoned temple. It was early morning, and Zekk was gone. She could sense him still, but from far away. She would have cried, but she knew he was coming back, someday.