Fandom: Star Wars: Expanded Universe, post-Legacy of the Force
Characters: Ben Skywalker, Allana
Word Count: 2354
Date Finished: January 2, 2008
Author's Notes: This is a post-Legacy of the Force era story - the only difference here is that Caedus also took Tenel Ka's life in his madness. Also, I feel like jerky kids would be everywhere, even training to become Jedi. So, this story happened.
He noticed that she got like this whenever the younglings were taught their lessons about Darth Caedus and the path to the Dark Side. She would stand in the corner of the lecture hall, her eyes lowered to the ground and her arms crossed protectively over her chest. Sometimes some of the students would whisper at her as she walked by them in the corridors of the Temple. "There goes Caedus' daughter. You know he killed her mom, right? I wonder if she'll go dark too, like daddy did." Then there would be giggling and dares and all the other stupid things oblivious children did.
Ben Skywalker could only scowl.
Approaching her one day, while Tahiri Veila was in the front teaching a class about meditation techniques, he grabbed her upper arm and dragged her out of the lecture hall.
"What's going on?"
"Just come with me, Princess," Ben replied, using the nickname he had given to her years ago when they would joke about her taking over Hapes one day.
They hadn't talked as much as he would've liked to -- they were both always busy dealing with classes or the younger trainees or on missions of their own -- so Ben figured it was time they sat down and just chatted.
He let go of her arm beside a bench that looked out over Coruscant. They were in one of the long halls made of transparisteel that led from one wing of the Temple to the other. Traffic passed overhead, casting random shadows here and there along the corridor, causing the beams of the sunset to bounce around wildly. Orange light hit her face as she stared to Ben, a guarded but visible sense of wonder in her eyes.
"Talk with me."
"About what, Ben?"
Ben waited until she had sat herself down beside him and then he shifted to face her, one leg resting up on the bench and the other foot planted firmly on the ground. For a few moments he just studied her, his eyes roaming around her face. She had her mother's hair, which was usually wavy and uncontrollable, but it was pulled back into a loose bun at the moment. Her eyes matched her mother's as well, a pair of wide gray orbs, more curious and a lot brighter than Ben remembered. She had Hapan cheekbones and her posture always reflected her mother's royal heritage, but that grin that passed across her face every now and then -- Ben could've sworn he was seeing the ghost of Jacen Solo.
"I just..." Inhaling deeply, he felt himself shrug. "As time passes I remember things about the past that, for some reason or another, I had forgotten. Dad always says when you get older you forget things, but I don't have that curse. Things just keep coming back to me." His gaze moved away from her and out to the monolithic buildings surrounding them. His eyes followed them upwards, to the purple sky, where they lingered before he looked back to the Jedi next to him. "Allana, I recently remembered something that happened with your parents. I was... Corellian Hells, I was young. But when it came back to me, I reminded myself to tell you about it because it's something you might want to hear."
She suddenly snapped to attention, turning towards him and pulling her legs up on the bench, crossing them in front of her. Her brown Jedi robes brought out the sudden color in her cheeks and her lips were threatening to shift into a smile -- something she rarely did. She looked like a kid again.
She looked hopeful, and Ben didn't want to let her down.
The little boy peeked around the corner, pressed up against the wall as far as he could go, open palms splayed across the cool stone. He saw his older cousin, with a smile pasted on his face that was bigger than one Ben had ever seen before.
There was a tiny mass of blankets in his arms and his girlfriend was standing next to him (Ben called her Queenie Teekay, much to his cousin's amusement), staring at the blankets. His girlfriend was a Queen and she was really pretty. Ben wondered why she didn't have a sparkly thing on her head.
Queens were always supposed to wear those. Right?
He watched them for a minute or two and realized he could hear a funny noise coming from the blankets, a sort of cooing. It sounded like some sort of animal -- which would fit, since he had heard stories about a younger Jacen and lots of animals -- but once Ben realized exactly what his cousin was holding, his eyes went wide.
It was a baby!
And they were both looking at it like his parents always looked at him! With those wide glittery proud eyes. Then they would look at each other and smile, which is exactly what Jacen and the Queen were doing right now!
He was ready to rush in and bust them for baby-making, but he hesitated.
Ben had always known his cousin as a serious man, a guy who would only smile when it really called for it. He had heard stories (besides the animal ones) about how Jacen would laugh and tell jokes when he was younger. It was most likely the stage in life where he chased his Queen girlfriend (probably a Princess then) around the playground and tried to pass spacecooties onto her like all annoying little boys did.
(Ben loved playing the spacecooties game.)
He pulled his mind back from the thought of Jacen and little imaginary boy-germs and stared at his cousin's mouth. It was pulled into a lopsided grin and he was staring at Queenie Teekay all funny and sappy. Then they leaned over the little baby and gave each other a slobbery kiss.
Ben felt his tongue stick out between his lips, like he was attempting to get the taste of nasty adult things out of his mouth.
And were those tears in his cousins eyes?
Ew, gross. Ben wouldn't forget to make fun of Jacen later for crying.
He wouldn't forget the way his cousin smiled though, either. It was one of the only times Ben Skywalker had ever seen a real, genuine grin on Jacen Solo's face.
Ben had forgotten the whole event, for some reason, except for that smile. He always wondered why he remembered his cousin smiling, when he pretty much knew him as a battle-hardened and emotionally lost man. But once he spent more time with Allana and those memories had returned to him, everything had fallen into place.
"He was beaming, Allana. You and your mother were everything to him."
He paused, taking a deep breath and throwing his open palms out to her with a sigh of defeat.
"And that was his downfall."
She didn't say anything, but her mouth worked silently around words like she was going to speak. Her hands were wringing in her lap and her eyes were shifted away from him, locked on the corridor behind him. The setting sun had almost vanished completely by then, but cast a brilliant stripe of violet across her eyes before it did.
Without thinking, he leaned forward and wrapped her into a hug, her head instantly falling into the crook of his neck. He could feel a few tears trailing down his collarbone, where her eyes were, and he pet the back of her head slowly. There was a whisper hitting his ears from somewhere, very faintly, but it was definitely there.
"Thank you, Ben."
He nodded in return, assuming it was her, his chin gently touching the back of her head. A few moments passed before she pulled herself backwards and grabbed his hands, giving them a quick squeeze. "Thank you so much, Ben."
"No problem," he responded, instantly wondering where the first sign of gratitude had come from, had it not been her.
"It really means a lot to hear something like that," she swallowed a sob and sniffled, keeping her composure well under control, much like Ben remembered her mother would. "I mean, I knew he loved me -- I knew he loved us, my Mom and me. But... I... I only remember him surrounded by a haze of anger all the time. He tried to act different around me. But I could see through it. I could sense it."
"I know. It was usually the same way with me." Surprisingly, he blinked back tears of his own -- with the realization that he never knew his cousin for who he really was, only from stories -- and then pasted a smile on his face, pulling his cousin's daughter up off of the bench. "Do you feel better now? A little, at least?"
"I don't like watching you in the back of the classroom or walking down the halls frowning like you have been."
"I know, I'm sorry. But some of the kids--"
"Send them to my office if they say anything in passing again."
"Well I could deal with them, I just--"
"Oh no, I'll deal with them."
There it was. There was a small upturn of Allana's lips that Ben picked up on and pulling her into another quick hug, he felt his own lips reacting the same way. Pulling back, he held her at arms length and tilted his face downwards a little, stray locks of red hair falling into his eyes. "And if you ever need to talk, you know where to find me."
She nodded. "Thank you again, Ben."
And then she smiled fully, a half-grin that reminded him so much of Jacen that he felt his breath hitch in his throat.
He caught himself and bowed slightly, returning the smile. "You're welcome. Chin up, Princess." He sat himself back down on the bench after she retreated down the hallway back towards the classrooms, the shadows of traffic passing overhead, shifting across her form as she moved away from him. With a sigh, he turned towards the city and slouched down on the bench, his thoughts returning to his cousin and the Queen Mother.
As his eyes traced the skyline, he absently wondered what other things he had forgotten, his eyes drifting shut as he did so.
There was a hand on his shoulder, and once he opened his eyes, he realized how long he had been seated there on the bench. It was night outside, and the corridor around him was empty. Turning his head to find the source of the pressure on his shoulder, he saw his cousin standing over him, and remembering the last time his cousin had been hovering over him -- in a fit of violent and torturous rage -- Ben reeled back.
He stood quickly, never facing away from his cousin, and growled, "Caedus..."
"No..." He shook his head back and forth gently. "Jacen."
Ben looked him over. He was clad in a non-descript jumpsuit that was some shade of blue, but when Ben noticed that, he noticed that all of Jacen was blue. He realized he was looking at something they had been taught so much about but most Jedi never really laid eyes on.
"Thank you," Jacen nodded. "And I'm sorry for everything."
Ben blinked furiously. This had to be a dream or something. He was seeing things and once he woke up and his vision cleared, his cousin's Force ghost would be gone. But even after rubbing his eyes and shaking his head violently, Jacen was still standing there -- that damn lopsided grin on his face. Jacen was laughing. It wasn't the maniacal cackle Ben was used to either; it was a rich and joyful sound -- a sound that brought the tears back to Ben's eyes once more.
"It's... I..." There was so much he wanted to say to Jacen, stories of missions, things he had done, things he had seen -- but he didn't even know where to begin. And then there was so much to tell of Jacen and Tenel Ka's daughter and her achievements as well. He couldn't bring himself to start rambling about it all though, any of it. He just crossed his arms over his chest and whispered all he could get out. "Tell Queenie Teekay I said hi."
"I will." Jacen began to back up and then turned and drifted off down the corridor, one pale blue foot in front of the other, and Ben felt himself involuntarily wipe his eyes.
And then he felt himself stumble backwards and collapse back onto the bench, thanking the Force that it was nighttime and all the students had left the Temple for the day as he fell into an uncontrollable and quick fit of sobs. There was a pit in his stomach now, and the sinking feeling that he would never be able to look at Allana's smile anymore for fear of being reminded of everything he had lost. His mother, his cousins, his friends, his innocence.
His comlink beeped suddenly, and collecting himself as much as he could manage, he opened the transmission.
"Hey," a voice sounded.
"What's up, Allana?"
"Grandpa is blabbing about everyone going out to eat at some Toydarian place tonight and he wanted me to check with you to see if you wanted to go."
"I'd love to. You know I never pass up an opportunity to watch Uncle Han shove his face and complain about the food at the same time."
He heard a harmonious laugh that just about matched her father's. "Great, I'll let 'em all know. See you soon."
After cutting the transmission, he pulled himself to his feet and stared out to the glittering horizon of nightfall over Coruscant, accepting the fact that what was done was done. All he had left of that time was the memories that kept filtering back through to the forefront of his mind. With a quiet nod to the urban sprawl around him, he set off down the dark corridor his cousin had vanished through and the same one Jacen's daughter had passed through earlier in the evening.