Fandom: Star Wars: Expanded Universe, post-Legacy of the Force
Characters: Tenel Ka, Kyp Durron, Zekk, Allana
Word Count: 2380
Date Finished: July 2010
Author's Notes: I wish I could remember where this whole thing came from, but I don't. D:
"No, you do it."
"I'm the Jedi Master here and I'm ordering you to knock."
Zekk sighed, balled up his fist and rapped his knuckles against the salon door, all under the calculating gaze of Jedi Master Kyp Durron. The two then stood in silence next to each other, both of them absently holding their breath.
When the entrance slid back into the wall, they were both looking fairly straight ahead, expecting to see a mass of copper hair and narrowed gray eyes peering back at them. They got that, but it was much shorter than they expected.
"Hi," a meek voice sounded from somewhere below them.
Zekk and Kyp Durron, now in their mature ages, were roughly the same height and they shot each other a look of muted shock before both of their heads twisted downwards to where a little girl stood.
"Hello there, Allana. How are you today?" Kyp forced a smile, instantly wondering why Tenel Ka wasn't answering her own door. He could've easily been a suitor or someone even less appealing and leaned down to swipe the little girl and take her away. Why so lax on the security?
"Tired," she said, rubbing her eyes with the backs of her hands.
"I'm sorry," Kyp let his gaze drag over to Zekk for a moment, who was peering down to Allana with a mellow sort of forlornness in his expression. "Is your mommy here?"
She jerked a tiny thumb behind her, then waved the men in and reached at the panel to shut the door.
Kyp stepped into the salon and peered around slowly, Zekk flanking him on the left and Allana behind them both. The chamber was dim, the curtains pulled over all the windows and the Jedi Master caught the sight of curves behind one of the curtains across the salon. "Your Majesty?"
He watched as a pale and absent Tenel Ka slithered from behind the curtains and seated herself beside the window, a bare foot propped up on the sill, holding the curtain back so she could continue to look outside. The beam of sunlight that seeped through the crack sliced Tenel Ka across the neck and caused Kyp to squint for a moment while he let his eyes adjust to it. She never looked back at them.
Tossing a glance behind him to Zekk, Kyp motioned with his chin down to Allana and waited while Zekk picked the kid up and carried her over to the ring of furniture in the center of the room. They both plopped down on a lush sofa and started chatting; Kyp couldn't make out what they were saying though. He could only hear murmurs. He waited momentarily, to make sure Allana was deep in conversation with Zekk before he shifted across the chamber to the girl's mother.
"We were sent by Grand Master Skywalker to see if you were alright." Kyp wanted to refrain from the formalities, but as he stood in her presence, as he watched the back of her head and the way her hand seemed permanently attached to her lips, he couldn't help himself. "Your Majesty?"
Something similar to a growl rumbled in her throat as he watched her hand finally shift from her lips and land in her lap, her fingers relaxed and facing the ceiling. In fact, her whole body looked relaxed except for her neck, which was stiff, and her lips, which were thinned into a line.
Kyp lowered his voice, "Tenel Ka..."
She wasn't turning around.
He heard her mumble something though, something almost unintelligible.
"Where did I go wrong?"
Zekk pulled Allana into his lap, the little girl nuzzling her head into his chest and wrapping her arms around him. He could feel her eyes watering up against his shirt, the warm tears soaking through and the sniffles hitting his ears, muffled and quiet. Zekk sensed that she felt safe in his arms, which struck him as odd, since she usually hid from him when she saw his tall and lanky form and his mess of ebony hair. "Are you okay?" He asked quietly.
She said nothing for a few moments.
"Mommy talks in her sleep. She says stuff about Daddy," she blurted suddenly.
"Jasa get away from me!"
Zekk felt his stomach twist at Allana's quick mispronunciation of her father's name. It reminded him of when they were all children. When Jacen was Jacen. And alive.
"Bad things." She paused, sniffling and shifting her head to look up at him. "Grampa 'Solder was the only one that ever holded me and now he's gone too."
She shook her head. "Daddy never did neither."
Zekk tightened his arms around her gently, his eyes narrowing and his lips pursing as his thoughts raced back to Caedus. He briefly wondered how she was around him and not corrupted by him at all. He must have been very careful. Very calculating. Very precise. How very clever of him.
Masking a sneer, Zekk peered down into Allana's eyes and asked his question once more. "Are you okay?"
A nod. And it only came after she grabbed the sleeves of his shirt and pulled his arms tighter around her.
Kyp was standing behind her chair now, looking out into the gardens through the crack in the curtains, the same as she was. She still hadn't acknowledged that fact that he was there. He reached down and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I know this is hard, Tenel Ka, but--"
Her head started to shake. Kyp watched it. Back and forth. The braids her hair had been put into who knows how long ago were unraveling, random strands of red waving around her skull and wrapping around what was left of the braids. Her head finally slowed and her hand went back up to her face, her fingers rubbing at her lips.
"You have no idea."
Kyp squeezed her shoulder and mere seconds later he felt her right hand over his, her nails slightly digging into his skin. He didn't pull back, he just stared down to her.
"He said to me, 'I'm not doing this for me. I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing this for her.'"
Kyp swore she hissed the word and watched the Queen Mother. Tenel Ka had her head turned away from the window, finally, but her eyes were now locked on Allana, following the little girl as she climbed all over Zekk's lap and up onto the back of the sofa.
Kyp could see that spark in her eyes, that ugly, malicious flare swimming in the pools of smoke. Like she was about to lurch out of her chair, grab the little girl and force the life out of her. It was the look Kyp Durron always saw in Darth Caedus' eyes. Although, Caedus never would've looked at Allana like Tenel Ka was looking at her right now.
Some part of Tenel Ka, some little writhing and horrible part inside of her was screaming that this was Allana's fault -- which meant it was, in turn, her own fault that something like this happened. Because Allana was born. Because she didn't stop Allana from being brought into this galaxy.
He reached out within moments of her thought and grabbed her wrist, jerking her out of the chair and up to him, his lips locked into a sneer. "Don't you ever dare think of something like that again, you hear me?"
She didn't look fazed at all by his sudden action. "And who are you to tell me what I should think and what I should not?"
Kyp tightened his grip on her right wrist and turned to Zekk and Allana, who were busy putting braids in Zekk's hair. They were paying no attention to the Jedi Master and Queen Mother across the room by the windows. He took that moment to drag her into the refresher they were standing beside, Kyp shutting the door behind him. He threw her arm down, slightly pushing her away as he did so, his hisses echoing in the over sized chamber.
"I know this is hurting you, Tenel Ka -- worse than most, I'm sure. But this is no reason to--"
"No reason to what?! If him and I had never--" She frantically motioned towards the recently closed door of the refresher, at Allana most likely. "She would've never been born and he would've never--" She turned quickly and slammed a closed fist onto the smooth surface of the sink. The hygienic supplies and medicines and items on the counter rattled and she stared at them before peering up at her reflection in the mirror. Only then did she fully manage to get out what she was wanting to say. "This is my fault. It is my fault that all of this happened."
Kyp grabbed her shoulder and turned her towards him. "It is not. You saw what Jacen was by the end. He was a monster. It was all him. His choice."
"That wasn't Jacen. He turned into a completely different being. It is a shock he even remembered who Allana was half the time, let alone who I was. He never would've changed if I hadn't have invited him to stay the night all those--"
"Tenel Ka -- he loves you."
Kyp sighed, slamming his palms down on the stone countertop, in a fashion similar to what she had done a few moments before. He could feel his chest heaving, he could feel his jaw shaking. He hadn't felt this blindly furious in a good long while. "You're more Hapan than I thought," he spat.
With a guttural growl, the Queen Mother suddenly launched herself towards him, landing a fist across his jaw. He recovered and lashed out mere seconds after that, one arm wrapping itself around her middle and the other hand grabbing her wrist once more, digging into her skin so hard that he could feel the blood pulsing through the veins under his fingertips. He pushed her stomach against the edge of the sink and pressed himself against her back to hold her there. Kyp had noticed how weak she looked when they arrived, but this was a woman who was known for her strength and her fighting skills. He wouldn't let looks deceive him.
"You're angry with all the wrong people," Kyp said, holding her arm behind her and staring at her reflection in the mirror ahead of them. "You're angry with yourself, you're angry with Allana -- you should be angry with Caedus. You should be angry that that thing took over your Golden Boy." He felt her struggle violently against him, her eyes now shut tight and her hair waving and shifting across his face. "Quit trying to protect him, Tenel Ka. It was his fault."
Her squirming suddenly stopped and Kyp slowly let go of her, watching as she swayed forward and braced herself on the edge of the counter. He stood behind her, his eyes still locked on her face in the mirror. She was crying. It was quick, it was silent and there only seemed to be a couple tears. But he still noted that it was the first time he had witnessed anything resembling tears falling from the Queen Mother's eyes. It made him slightly uncomfortable to watch.
"...Allana?" Kyp finally leaned down and murmured the name into Tenel Ka's ear.
No... no, no. I would never.
Kyp saw it in her eyes earlier, in her expression and felt it through her presence. The way she looked at Allana. Her own child.
"You wouldn't," he whispered, displacing wayward strands of copper hair with his breath.
Tenel Ka looked defeated, tired and worn out again, much like she had when they entered her quarters. Kyp Durron almost swore she was about to collapse.
"I would never," she responded quietly.
He could feel it from her, the truth to her words.
She was cornered, once again, between the sink and the Jedi Master and he could feel her breathing heavily, her back against his chest. Reaching up, he gently clasped a hand around her upper arm. He was never the kind of Jedi that offered emotional assistance, but when someone as closed off as Tenel Ka was acting the way she was, he was comfortable giving it, especially after the events of the previous days and weeks.
"You promise you never would."
The nod he watched her give was shockingly strong and it only served to make Kyp tighten his grip on her. He debated on whether or not to tell Luke about everything that transpired or just to report with, "She's doing as well as is expected in a situation like this." But he knew that no matter what he told the Grand Master, this emotional display from Tenel Ka would go down in his memory for the rest of his days.
As the two men paced side-by-side back down the corridor of the Fountain Palace, the younger shared his curiosity.
"What was going on? What were you guys talking about--"
"She hinted at thoughts of killing her daughter."
Zekk stopped. "What?! Do you think it's alright if we leave Allana with her then?!" He reached down for his lightsaber. It was sort of a reflex to him at this point in his life, and had been for awhile, but Kyp raised a hand to him. It was to silence him and to give him an answer about his sudden urge to arm himself. The younger man just stared back at him.
Heightening his senses, Kyp threw himself back into the salon, his eyes and ears picking up things here and there. He could see Tenel Ka on her knees on the ground, in the middle of the lush furniture, Allana wrapped up in her grasp. The little girl was gently rubbing the back of her mother's head, petting it like Tenel Ka was a small, frightened animal.
"Everything's fine." Turning, Durron stalked away from the door and down the main hallway of the Fountain Palace. He could sense Zekk trailing on his heels and his next words were more to reassure himself than anyone. "As fine as everything's going to get."