Fandom: Star Wars: Expanded Universe, post-Legacy of the Force/Fate of the Jedi-ish
Characters: Tenel Ka, unnamed OC
Word Count: 2400
Date Finished: May 26, 2010
Author's Notes: I didn't give him a name. I couldn't think of a fitting one. D:
Behind the Storm
All the suitors said it was theirs. They placed bets on who the baby would look like and who it actually belonged to, all of them claiming to have had the chance to sleep with the Queen Mother and plant their seed.
None of them did.
And when they learned the news that she had lost the baby, all bets were off and they went back to moping around the Fountain Palace and the surrounding areas, all vying for the Queen's attention once more. Everything had gone back to normal on Hapes.
Everything had gone back to normal for everyone but the Queen Mother.
No one ever questioned Tenel Ka when she went out to the Reef Fortress alone. Everyone assumed she just went out there to be by herself and think. She went out there once every few days; no guards, no escorts -- she didn't let any of the suitors follow her either.
Only one handmaiden and one advisor knew why she really went out there. They had known for fifteen years now and unlike many of the others on Hapes, they knew how to keep a secret.
The day was gray, the low clouds hanging over the palace and the city like a smattering of bruises. She paid them no mind as she nodded to the guards at the bottom of the side door steps and passed through the gardens, heading down to the dock. She took a wavespeeder over the water, sighing slightly as Reef Fortress came into view. It had been aging, the rock walls slightly crumbling in some places. Her sandals hit the stone of the dock on the island and crunched over dead vines as she approached the building, her eyes trailing up to the spires along the top. The trees surrounding the area had overgrown and the branches now snaked along the walls of the Reef Fortress and through the spires, leaves poking out of windows and lookouts and peeking out from around parapets.
Tenel Ka peered behind her, scanning the water to make sure no one had followed and let her mind open up further to the Force for a extra layer of caution. She knew on Hapes it was better to be safe than sorry.
Satisfied that she was the only one on the dock and the immediate areas around it, she entered the fortress to find the one flare in the Force she had felt when she opened up.
The hem of her dark blue dress swept over leaves, both live and dead, as she shifted into the silence of the main chamber. The few bangles on her right arm clinked together and she gathered her skirt in her hand and looked around, letting her eyes adjust to the dim light.
She was about to call out for him, opening her mouth to speak, but was cut off by a voice above her.
Her head snapped towards the sound and she saw him. He was high above her and straddling the branch of a tree that had grown through the windows of the fortress. His feet were bare and his shaggy brown mess of hair was damp with sweat as he poked at something further up the tree branch. Some animal, no doubt.
"Get down from there. You are going to get yourself hurt."
"Aw, come on." With a chuckle, he jumped down from the branch he had perched himself on, cushioning his landing with the Force. His feet landed gently on the stone. "I can handle a lot."
She was impressed. He had taken the basics that she had taught him and expanded upon them.
He was definitely Jacen Solo's son.
Smiling, he moved towards her and locked his arm with hers, pulling her towards the back exit. He spoke as they walked.
"You look uneasy today. What's wrong?"
Tenel Ka experienced a moment of shock. Had her expression actually been what she had feeling? She always knew how to keep her emotions from--
"Okay, sorry. You feel uneasy."
She could feel him prodding at her in the Force and realized he had been reading her, like she had taught him how to do. It wasn't always the right thing to do though, as she had also taught him. She didn't mind at the moment, she was just content with how open he seemed to be to the Force and learning the ways of it.
Emerging into the back courtyard of the Reef Fortress, Tenel Ka was pleasantly surprised to see the fountains still working. The water was pumping into them from the sea outside, through channels under the stone walls that surrounded the courtyard and was a clear blue. It sparkled brightly somehow, even with the clouds overhead. Tenel Ka watched as he threw his shirt to the side, onto the stone walkway and climbed into the large basin. The water only went up to his knees in the deepest part of the fountain, but he was already off of his feet and floating on his back, his eyes shut against the diffused light filtering through the trees.
The stone lip of the fixture felt cool as she sat down on it, resting her feet along the ledge in front of her.
"What is it?" He said again, absently floating towards her.
She swallowed, her throat feeling parched and her lips dry. She said nothing.
A hand shot out of the water and he grabbed at her feet, pulling the sandals off and yanking her feet into the refreshing water. He did this calmly, eyes still closed and face still turned up to the sky.
He stopped, shuffling his hands against the bottom of the fountain and pushing himself to a kneeling position in the water in front of her. She usually came to the Reef Fortress and they would talk for hours. The fact that she had said next to nothing worried him. He pasted a smile on his face and grabbed her right hand, holding it out in front of her in an attempt to keep her dress dry from any unexpected splashes.
"What is it?"
The Queen Mother managed to drag her eyes to her son's. "You need to meet your family."
His expression shattered, the crooked grin he had on his face vanishing. "But Mom..."
She could feel the flood of despair that had washed over him. His eyes, they were gray like hers and they seemed to be pleading for her to tell him something positive -- to follow it up with a "one day" or a "would you like that?" -- but no. She had already made up her mind. She knew it had to be done. She couldn't keep him here forever.
"Mom, what if they don't like me?"
All she could feel herself doing in response was blinking. It took her a few moments to realize she had been blinking back tears, absently trying to keep herself from crying in front of him. She tried to keep her voice steady.
"Why... why would they not like you?"
"Because of Dad."
Her hand tightened around his and pulled him closer to her, resting his hands in her lap. The drops of water that soaked into her dress were the last thing on her mind.
"Your father was a good man." She was still trying her hardest to keep the tears from her face. "I know when you think of the word father you think of Caedus. You think of the man who killed your grandfather, the man who--"
"I think of the man who ruined you."
His voice was stern and echoed in the courtyard, sending a flock of birds rocketing out of the trees above. Tenel Ka closed her eyes and the tears fell: one on her dress, one on her arm and one on his hand. Another rested along her jaw.
"That was not your father," she whispered. "You were little, you do... you can't remember."
He reached up with one hand and brushed the tear away from her chin. "You think I don't remember you crying in your quarters? When I was younger and staying in Allana's old nursery? I remember coming out and asking you to read me a story and your eyes were puffier than your damn banquet gowns. It was the middle of the day and your curtains were shut. Mom..."
She was staring past him to the fountain, her eyes glazed over. He shook her hands violently.
"And what good would meeting all of them do anyways? If Caedus wasn't who my father was and was just who he became then what's to say they weren't the ones who drove him to it?"
Her eyes narrowed as she met his gaze again. He almost looked like Jacen when he became frustrated at something insignificant, like a broken crystal snake cage.
"And what is to say I wasn't the one to drive him to it, if that is your sudden logic?"
He softened, his grip of her hand loosening. "I'm sorry," he murmured, his eyes drifting down to her right shoulder. "I guess I'm just scared. That's all."
"You have nothing to be scared of. They are all good people. And they will be able to tell you who your father really was. Who Jacen Solo was."
"You could do that."
"I can tell you a lot, yes. But not everything. I'm sure his sister would have many stories, and his parents too... your grandparents..."
She could see him shaking slightly now, his eyes still locked on her shoulder. She could sense his fear and anxiety about the whole idea. When he was younger and Tenel Ka's advisor would take him to the marketplace to get him out of the Palace, he would often escape and hide in alleyways, away from the crowds. She had tried to send him to a school in the city under an alias some time after that and he got teased for asking too many questions -- he quit and retreated to the fortress. It became his home. It was quiet and peaceful, the perfect place to ask questions then research answers and do experiments and tinker with old machinery and relax.
It was the perfect place because he was the only one there. He had always found it difficult to trust people.
Tenel Ka had noticed that was where he and his father differed. Jacen always assumed the best of people. Their son assumed the worst.
"You want to meet your sister, right?"
He thought of Allana, his gaze moving back up to his mother's. He nodded.
Tenel Ka could feel the faint traces of a smile on her lips. She always knew if he actually got along with anyone it would be Allana. They had the same curiosities and the same sense of adventure. He would trust Allana. The smile grew sad because of the time she herself had missed with her daughter thanks to the 63 planets she looked over, which was another reason she was determined to get them together with the rest of the family - Solos and Skywalkers alike - the friends too. Life didn't last forever. And no one could predict when it would end.
She knew that Caedus never saw his death coming. And she also knew that as noble as Jacen Solo was trying to be, he had no idea that he was committing a slow suicide with Caedus.
"I will come get you later tonight. I have to go to a conference on Coruscant, so this is the perfect opportunity. I have been thinking about this for awhile, you know."
He leaned out of the water and let go of her hand, wrapping her up in a hug instead. The cool water that soaked against her from his skin and pants were a sharp contrast to the warmth on her back from the emerging sun, the rays piercing through the tree tops and heating up the bare skin of her shoulders and arms.
"I'm gonna go pack up some stuff then." He pulled away from her and stood, inhaling deeply. She nodded. Leaning down, he planted a kiss on her forehead and headed back into the fortress, the Queen Mother staring after him.
With a heavy heart, she wondered what Jacen Solo would've thought of the son he never knew he had. By the time she had found out about her pregnancy, she had turned against him and he had been too far gone. There were many, many nights in the fifteen years since then where she would wander outside and stare at the sky or the sea or the breeze rustling the plants in the gardens, wondering if contacting him about it would've changed anything. Could it have brought him back?
Of course not.
A sigh sounded over the bubbling of the fountain as Tenel Ka pulled her feet from the water and slipped her sandals back on, slowly making her way back into the Reef Fortress and towards the front entrance. Her mind had been wandering to the fact that she still wasn't sure how to introduce him to the others, or even tell them about him in the first place. But everything would work out -- she had an unnaturally positive feeling about it.
He had kept her sane as her world crashed around her. He had kept her sane while Isolder, her father, had been killed. He had kept her sane while Jacen, his father, had been killed. He had kept her sane while Allana, her daughter and his sister, had been given to Han and Leia Solo for safety.
He had been her life then.
He was her life now.
Ahead of her, by the large set of open wooden doors, stood a tall figure staring back out towards the Palace. The sunlight cast a pale golden halo around him. He ran a hand back through a messy head of brown hair and turned to her, the faint trace of a lopsided smile on his face.
"I thought you were going to go... get..." Her words drifted off, when she realized that who she was looking at wasn't her son. Closing her eyes and shaking her head quickly, she was alone when she reopened them, and the only thing she saw in the rays ahead of her were particles of dust.
Their son was her life now.