Fandom: Star Wars: Expanded Universe, post-Legacy of the Force
Characters: Tenel Ka, Trista Zel, Taryn Zel
Word Count: 2033
Date Finished: November 2009
Author's Notes: I made a fanmix in November or 2009 that had two parts - each with six songs and a small story to go with each song. The first six songs/stories were if Jacen had survived after Legacy of the Force and they all cover small moments between him and Tenel Ka & Allana. Those will all be uploaded in one piece together soon. The last six songs were more in line with what happened in the books and cover Tenel Ka alone after the LotF series. Three of those were slightly longer than the others and have their own uploads. The other three are in this piece together! HOPEFULLY THAT MADE SENSE. :D
Never Fall Away
Take as much time as you want.
That's what Jaina had told her. Tenel Ka wasn't sure if she really meant it, but hopefully she had. It had already been a good while since they let her into the sterile medbay where Jacen's body was. Tenel Ka refused to refer to it as Caedus' body. It was never his, never. She knew that presence had been inside Jacen, warped him into something horrible, but it had left him at the end. She felt it at the last moment before his life had blinked out. She felt Jacen through their connection, strong and bright, for the last time. It hurt.
She was sitting beside him now, her chin quivering and her eyes pressed shut. His body was bare, marked, vulnerable. There were violent scars on it she didn't recognize and didn't want to recognize or think too much about. But there were also things she did recognize, a healed over injury on his chin from when he tripped over a tree root on Yavin IV in his early teenage years, a mess of freckles on his shoulders -- skin she remembered running her fingers over on more than a few occasions. A bright white cloth was draped over his lower half, from his stomach down and a few toes poked out past the bottom. He had grown so tall.
"I should have known... I should have helped you, Jacen." She had pulled a stool up to the table and sat beside him, where she was now, with her hand resting on his chest. His skin was cold. "I am so sorry."
Leaning forward, pushing any morbid thought out of her mind, she planted a chaste kiss at the corner of his lips. As she pulled back, she inhaled, expecting a clean, cool, medical sort of smell. But no, what she smelled was a scent she had grown so used to, so in love with. She remembered its presence when Jacen kept her from twisting her ankle on the lower levels of Coruscant and pulled her close to him. She remembered it when he had been in the secret grove with her, sharing information about the Killiks and the call they put out. She remembered it all the nights they shared in her bed, as she fell asleep with her head tucked between his shoulder and his cheek -- that scent clung to her sheets for days after he had left.
He was dead, he had been dead for some time now... how did he still possess that scent?
Quickly pushing away from him, Tenel Ka stumbled from her seat and moved across the room, steeling herself on the edge of a white countertop covered in medical instruments. She shut her eyes, and exhaled and inhaled quickly, trying to rid her nose of that scent. She was imagining things, she had to be.
"Hey," a voice called out. "What's wrong?"
Twisting her head and pushing a violent exhale from her lips and nose, Tenel Ka's jaw fell at the sight of Jacen Solo leaning up, resting his weight on his elbow. He was still dreadfully pale--
"You okay?" He paused. Reaching his hand down, he shifted the white cloth further over him. "Sorry I'm not really dressed for a reunion, Your Majesty." He laughed, an effortless sort of chuckle. The kind he was always the best at.
She could feel her head shaking and her vision going momentarily blurry. Her grip on the countertop behind her tightened.
Her eyes flew open at the curt mention of her name and as she looked up, she saw Jaina Solo standing at the door, her brandy-brown gaze sad and her lips pursed. That was when Tenel Ka realized she had fallen asleep with her head on Jacen's chest, like she had done so many nights in the past. This time though, this time she never felt the comforting rise and fall of his chest with each deep breath, or the arms around her, one hand rubbing her back and one playing with her hair.
There was none of that left and there never would be any more.
"Taryn, get back here." Trista Zel reached out and grabbed her sister's arm, pulling her away from the corner of the corridor. They had been heading to the outer grounds of the palace for guard duty and froze when they heard something in the adjacent hallway. It was Tenel Ka. She was crying. Trista had swallowed a mouthful of dry air and pressed herself against the wall, shutting her eyes against the sound. Taryn had continued to peer around the corner.
Taryn had watched the Queen Mother, her arm was resting on the wall and her face buried against it. Then she had stared as the normally composed woman twisted around, pressing her back against the wall and sliding down it. Taryn saw her face momentarily. It was red, tear-streaked, locked in an expression of anguish. She sunk down and draped her arm over her knees, shoving her head back into the cocoon she had made with her body. The blue fabric of her gown sat around her, wrinkled and contorted. Taryn could just barely hear the quiet sobs coming from the Queen Mother.
Her father had just died. Her lover had just died. Her child had been given away to be taken care of on a planet better than Hapes.
None of those things were really public knowledge. But Trista and Taryn were close friends of the Queen Mother, they were family. And they were family that Tenel Ka actually trusted. So they knew things.
Tenel Ka's lover had murdered her father, her lover had been killed and their child had been given to his parents for her own safety. Then she had to lie to her people and tell them her daughter had died. The devils were always in the details, Taryn mused solemnly. She pulled back and let her eyes drift to her sister.
The Zel twins knew that this emotional release was needed. But one sister didn't think that it happening in a quiet corridor of the Fountain Palace was the best place.
"We have to help her, get her to her chambers or something." Taryn finally shook her sister's hand off.
"She wouldn't want us to see her like this."
"So what if someone else comes along and sees her like this?! It's not like this is exactly a private sector of the Palace here."
As they argued back and forth, the only pause came when someone approached them from the corridor Taryn had been watching. The Zel twins turned, their mouths agape as they looked into the face of the very person they had been fighting over. The Queen Mother stood by them, leaning against the corner of the wall Taryn had been peeking around. The tears were gone, but her face was still blotched with red and her eyes were slightly puffy. Reaching into a pouch under one of the folds of her gown, she pulled out a small compact and took a moment to dab at the discolorations on her face. She straightened her posture, blinked a few times and held her head up, then reached out to Taryn and squeezed her shoulder, nodding to Trista as well.
"Thank you," she whispered hoarsely, before inhaling deeply and setting off down the hallway to the main hall of the Palace.
Oh come on, does he really think that line will work? Tenel Ka, tell me you're not falling for this.
Tenel Ka had been listening to this chiding voice in her ear all night. The tone was playful. It was familiar, it was jovial. It was Jacen's.
Jacen Solo had died six months prior.
One of Hapes many banquets was taking place that night and she was making her rounds, greeting people and getting approached by suitors. Many of them. They figured she was still in what they thought was a vulnerable and fragile state. Her father and her daughter dying? Oh, Your Majesty, I have so much to offer you, physically and emotionally. Please, let us spend some time together. Right.
The voice spoke up heavily during times like these. And Tenel Ka welcomed it.
Look at that one, Tenel Ka! What is he wearing? Oh wait, wait, he's coming up to you. Can't wait to hear this one.
The voice was worth it. It made her smile. It was probably not healthy to be listening to it so long after Jacen Solo had died, but at this point Tenel Ka didn't care. She needed something to make her job bearable. Over the weeks after she had first heard it, she tried to push it away from her and close herself off from it, she tried to get rid of it. But after awhile she realized it wasn't what she first thought it was -- it wasn't her grief manifesting itself in a certain fashion (which is what Master Skywalker and Cilghal had suggested it was), no. It was actually Jacen Solo. Everyone just thought she was still grieving -- they all thought the process and what had happened had almost driven her insane.
She never mentioned any of it again to anyone. Not Master Skywalker. Not Jacen's parents. Not even to Allana.
Mmmm, quit playing with your hair like that, Your Majesty. You know how I feel when you do that.
Tenel Ka brought her fingers away from the loose curl that had fallen from the bun atop her head and let her hand rest on the table in front of her.
She learned many things over the course of the months following his death -- about this voice and the Force and how he managed to manipulate it even after his death. He could watch her and speak to her in her head. There were other things he had managed to do. But he usually couldn't bring himself to do multiple things at once yet.
I'm still learning all that, Your Worship. Don't worry, you'll be the first to know when I can, he had echoed in her head once.
She sat on her balcony later that night, after the banquet and the never ending line of suitors (none of which were in her company now -- they never were because she never invited them), enjoying the silence. She closed her eyes and breathed in the cool air. Her fingers had grown restless again and were back at that same loose curl, running the strands over her fingertips.
Instead of hearing his voice now, he manifested in another way. Feeling something along her shoulders, Tenel Ka opened her eyes and turned her head to look behind her. She could vaguely see his form; it seemed like a mere shadow shifting around the stone balcony to stand in front of her. He was very faint and seemed to almost flicker in and out of her eyesight. He was difficult to see, but he definitely wasn't difficult to feel. One hand of his was around her fingers almost instantly, pulling them away from her hair, while the other grabbed the belt around her gown. He pulled her to her feet and for a moment he flickered in, and she could see the grin across his face and the flush in his cheeks.
He was still very faint, a shadow. But she could feel every shift he made, she could feel warmth radiating from where she knew he was and she could suddenly feel his lips pressed hungrily against hers. She stumbled with his manifestation inside, pulling the balcony doors shut behind her.
She knew if someone saw her drifting around the room with an armful of nothing, her sanity would come into question once more. For weeks after Jacen Solo had died, she had questioned her own sanity. But after hearing his voice on occasion, then seeing him on occasion and times like now where she could only feel him, she knew full well that she was perfectly sane and she also knew full well that she was as content as she could be under the circumstances that surrounded her.
She was almost at ease.