Fandom: Star Wars: Expanded Universe, Legacy of the Force
Characters: Tenel Ka, Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus
Word Count: 3529
Date Finished: September 21, 2010
Author's Notes: The numbers at the beginning of each part are the numbers of nights he has been staying with her (spread over the course of his downfall) and not totally random chapter numbers that make it look like I'm missing stuff in between. I mean, there obviously is stuff missing in between, but I promise I didn't write those and accidentally leave them out, haha~
It was the first night he spent in her bed since Allana was born.
He hadn't been to visit in months. He had been tied up with the Jedi Order mopping up the remains of the Killik crisis. He had been working with Raynar Thul's rehabilitation, meeting with his sister, helping his Uncle.
Jacen Solo had showed up, saying to her entourage that he was there on "Jedi business" and that was all they needed to know. No advisor, handmaiden or even suitor said anything or raised a fuss when he went into her quarters, sat down in the salon, ordered the door to shut and didn't come out for twelve hours. And the twelve hour mark had only been for a quick bite to eat in the kitchens.
Tenel Ka remembered walking into the refresher that night, slipping around him and locking eyes with his reflection in the looming mirror ahead of them. He was shaving.
"Where's Allana?" He asked.
"Sleeping. DeDe is in there with her."
"On secure mode?"
"Of course. Who do you think I am?"
He smiled, then flinched as a small pearl of blood emerged from a cut on his cheek. Clamping his hand over it, Jacen felt his face flush as he sheepishly peered back to the Queen Mother's reflection. "Oops."
"Clumsy." She shook her head at him, barely hiding a smile, and brushed her hand down his arm. "Just like the boy I fell in love with."
Injury be damned, he thought, letting his grin widen. He leaned over and planted a kiss on her lips.
Jacen continued to watch her as she moved further into the surprisingly cavernous refresher (or not really surprisingly, he thought, since the Hapans usually overdid everything), stopping to lean down over the tub. The sound of the water stream hit his ears and his eyes never left her as she straightened up and fiddled with something, her robe suddenly dropping to the floor.
He must have made a noise or absently let a thought lash out of his usually controlled state because the Queen Mother turned her head to look at him. Her eyes were wide and questioning, as if she had absolutely no idea what she was capable of by just standing there. Jacen thinned his lips at her.
"What?" Her tone was flat. "It is nothing you have not seen before, Jacen."
He didn't have time to react before she stepped into the tub and lowered herself into the water.
Jacen hesitated for only a few moments before crossing the refresher to the bathtub, sinking to a seated position at her eye level, beside the low wall. He could feel the heat rising from the tub as he planted his hands on the ledge, letting his fingertips stretch out to skate over the water.
"What?" She asked again.
He slowly shook his head. "Nothing."
"I love you."
There had been exchanges like that through the Force here and there. There was always a mutual feeling, an extremely strong bond between the two of them - they both knew what it was. But this was the first time the words had actually passed either of their lips.
Tenel Ka shifted in the over sized stone tub, grabbing the lip with her right hand and pulling herself to the wall where he was, their faces inches apart. She dipped her hand back into the water and removed it, gently wiping away the dried blood on his cheek.
"I love you," he repeated.
Pushing herself forward, she leaned out of the tub and pressed her lips to his. He could feel water dripping from her skin onto him, soaking into his clothes. When she pulled back, he could feel her hand still around his neck.
"I love you too."
She tugged at him, towards the bathtub and the inviting pool of warm water she was soaking in.
Jacen Solo was sprawled out in the Queen Mother's bed, clad in the bottom half of a gray jumpsuit and one sock. His tired eyes were shifting back and forth from the holo-screen ahead of him that was playing the news nonstop and the silhouette of the Queen Mother of Hapes over at a small table by the balcony doors. She was seated there, intently staring at a datapad on the surface and reaching over to a bowl of fruit on her right.
He was drifting off every few minutes, his eyes slowly shutting and his head nodding to the side. He would wake back up randomly, gaze shifting, once more, from the holo-screen to the shady and barely moving set of curves over by the windows. Jacen was almost past a doze and into a sleep when he was jolted awake by a lance of pain ahead of him.
It was Tenel Ka. She had made no sound, but he could feel the receding shock from her presence.
"Whassit?" He said, still blinking back the drowsy feeling of sleep that had been taking over him.
"Nothing, Jacen, I just cut my finger. Go back to sleep."
Falling out of the bed, Jacen stood and hesitated for a moment, got his bearings and wandered over to the table. It took him a moment to realize why only one of his feet happened to be cold, but he ignored it as he hovered over the table, taking note of the situation. She had gone to cut her piece of fruit and sliced the tip of her finger open.
"Yes?" She asked, looking up at him.
Jacen held his hand out, motioning to the fingertips she was keeping close to her chest.
"Jacen, it's fine. I am fine." She shook her head. "It's nothing."
He reached out and took her hand, not even looking at it before slipping her finger between his lips. Around her finger, his lips shifted into a lopsided grin as he watched her awkwardly stand from her seat, trying to keep her hand in place.
"What good is this doing?"
"S'fixin' it," Jacen mumbled, trying not to bite down on her finger as he spoke.
"How? Wouldn't bacta work better?" She looked incredulous. He was enjoying this.
"Magic." He grabbed the cloth napkin from the fruit bowl and gently pulled her arm back, wrapping her finger in the fabric.
"What? Jacen, I--"
He cut her off by pulling her to him, placing his arms around her and being mindful to keep her hand cradled in between them.
"I cut my hands a million times in the woods when I was little - never brought any bacta with me. Stuck the offending injury in my mouth for a minute or two and it stopped bleeding." He shrugged, his chin on the crown of her head.
Tenel Ka said nothing, she just rested her cheek against his chest and let her eyes drift shut. She could feel him growing distant and figured he was staring out the windows towards the gardens and the sea beyond. He was. What faintly startled her though was the fact that she couldn't pick up where his thoughts were going. Usually, when he was with her, he seemed to be an open book. A controlled read, but open. He was always excited to be there, full of life and love and ready to forget about work for a day or two.
His mind was a mess and his thoughts were muddled. It made her shift in his arms uncomfortably.
"What are you thinking about?"
He pulled back, snapping from his trance, and leaned in to plant a peck on her forehead. "Us." He paused, inhaling deeply. "I love these visits with you. I don't ever want them to ever end. I just..."
She felt him squeeze his arms around her.
"I want to be with you and Allana forever. I would do anything to make that happen."
Tenel Ka could feel her lips moving into a smile against his chest. That was the boy she fell in love with. When he said he was going to do something, he never backed down. She figured he got that from his parents. Her mind was slipping back to when they were younger, but Jacen, here and now, broke her out of her reverie.
"Now what do you say you forget about that for tonight," he motioned with his chin to the table behind her, where her glowing datapad still sat. "And you come to bed with me."
It felt good have all that makeup off of her face. The handmaidens insisted on applying it before her public appearance earlier that day. Tenel Ka stood in front of the mirror, slowly turning her head from the left to the right, making sure there weren't any stray bits of color she missed. Her attention shifted from her own reflection to the other one that joined hers.
Jacen stood for a moment, his brown eyes locked with hers in the mirror, and then he looked back to himself, moving slightly to study the arm closest to her.
Tenel Ka watched him do this, her breath halting in her throat momentarily when she saw the spreading crimson spot on the sleeve of his shirt. He took the shirt off and leaned closer to the mirror. Whatever it was looked like it had begun to scab over, but she still felt concerned, especially since it was bleeding again.
He sensed her sudden shift in emotion and looked at her in the mirror again. "It's fine."
"It is bleeding." She stepped closer to him. "It is not fine."
"Don't worry about it."
Mara, he almost blurted in an instant and angry moment.
He clamped down on this fast though, pulling a bacta bandage out of his back pocket. "A protester that Ben and I ran into. Got a little violent. That's all."
Tenel Ka stared at his reflection as he placed the bandage over the gash and then shifted behind him to the rack she always hung her nightclothes on. He, in turn, watched her in the mirror, over his shoulder. She methodically took off each piece of the outfit her handmaidens had picked out for her and slipped into one of those barely there Hapan silk nightgowns that hugged her in all the right places.
He suddenly had the urge to tell her everything. Everything.
Maybe she would realize that everything that he was doing, everything he was putting everybody through - it was for the good of the galaxy. Lasting peace would be achieved if he could do what he was setting out to do. He opened his mouth to tell her but his upper arm throbbed so hard that he shut it again, his gaze moving to the bandage. It was already bleeding through.
When he looked up to the mirror again, Tenel Ka was standing behind him, her chin resting on his shoulder.
"Anything I can do?"
"Just keep being you."
Slipping around his side, Tenel Ka squeezed his forearm and leaned up, kissing his temple. "I can do that." She dragged her lips down his cheek, where she planted another kiss on the corner of his mouth. He was watching her in the reflection ahead of them. This kiss was longer and warmer, he could almost taste her. "Now you should come to bed."
He was quick on her heels after that, exiting the refresher and sneaking under the covers with her. His hands shifted over the thin silk of her nightgown and he suddenly found it extremely easy to ignore the pain in his arm.
When she whispered the name "Jacen" in his ear later that night, he knew the time hadn't come to correct her yet.
She had entered the refresher, steeling herself against whatever she would find. She knew he had gone in before, muttering about something and then saying he was going to get ready for bed. He had been in there for almost twenty standard minutes now and as much as she wanted to refrain from bothering him (or disturbing him) she stepped through the threshold to the refresher.
He was in the bathtub, fully submerged.
Her heart leaped for a moment and she almost rushed over to see if he was alright, but she stood there, in front of the mirror and watched him. She could see bubbles occasionally rise to the surface. Finally he broke the calm, shifting up to a seated position. His hair was plastered to his face and his skin was pale. His eyes had instantly locked with hers when he emerged.
She wondered if her entrance into the refresher was what brought him out. She knew he could feel what she was doing. Sometimes he used to gently seek her out, notice whatever she was keeping herself busy with and nudge her playfully. Lately he was always there, hovering somewhere inside of her; watching her, keeping tabs on her. She would attempt to block herself from him through the bond of theirs that he was now exploiting, but he always found a way around it.
Tenel Ka turned her gaze to the mirror and looked at herself. Thinned lips and bags under her eyes between a mess of copper braids and a crumpled cerulean nightgown. She watched herself slowly swallow a mouthful of heavy air and lingering steam from the tub and then lightly flinch at the command that echoed throughout the chamber.
In an instant, Tenel Ka could feel some sort of sick rage bubbling up inside him, but she ignored it and stared at her reflection. The trembling fingers of her right hand went to her hair, where she began to gently pull the braids apart, like she did most nights.
She sensed him to her left, standing from the tub. She could hear water falling from his skin back into the pool below. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him exiting the tub, drops of water following him out and hitting the small rug under his feet. Getting out of the tub had always been one of the most vulnerable times and places in the Queen Mother's personal chambers, the Hapan Security Force often told her. She always thought that was a silly thing - where could an assassin hide in the refresher and how would they have gotten in? The word kept going through her mind as she stood there now.
She could see him, still out of the corner of her eye, standing there. Vulnerable was not a word she would use to describe him anymore, ever. Even as he was now; naked, pale and dripping water. He hadn't even bothered to grab a towel. Stalking off of the rug and across the stone floor, trailing drops along the way, he stopped so close to her that the water from his skin began to soak through her nightgown.
He spit a mouthful of blood and saliva into the basin in front of her and drilled his gaze into her temple. She watched him there, in the mirror, as he leaned in a tad closer before whispering.
"Bit my cheek."
He turned his head slightly and let his eyes lock with hers in the mirror. She could have sworn for the moment that they stared at each other that his eyes had gotten lighter. They were a faded brown now.
He pulled away from her and passed her, his wet skin dragging across her back.
Her hand went from her hair to the edge of the counter, her fingers wrapping around it to steady herself.
She knew what was happening. There was no denying it anymore.
But she still did.
He had finished shaving and was staring at his hands, both of which were planted on the countertop. She was to his left, at the other end of the sink, taking the braids out of her hair and blankly staring at the bottom edge of the mirror. They had said no more than thirty words to each other since he arrived at the Fountain Palace earlier that day.
"I'm doing this for you and Allana."
The words startled her, echoing above the two of them.
She said nothing.
He moved his hand, reaching out and sliding his fingers under her curtain of hair to rest a set of calloused fingertips on her neck. He squeezed in what might have been an affectionate gesture coming from the boy he had been before.
Tenel Ka pulled away from him, turning her head violently to move from his grasp. He reacted by shifting his hand around her and grabbing her chin. The sound her teeth made when they cracked down on each other also echoed above them. She flinched and he could feel her trying to stifle the pain that throbbed in her mouth. He could tell instantly that he caused her to bite her tongue.
He stepped closer to her, her chin still in his hand. "I'm doing this for us, Your Majesty. You and me. Our daughter. Do you understand me?"
She gave no outright and blatant response; verbal or visual, no words, no nod. Just a sharp narrow of her eyes.
"Good," he responded, his face still inching closer to hers. "I'm glad we understand each other, Tenel Ka." With that, he pressed his lips to her forehead and lingered there before pulling back and shifting lower, to her mouth and the gash inside on her tongue. As he moved, she could feel his breath on her face and the sudden urge to shove him away.
The hand on her chin lashed around to hold the back of her head and he pushed his lips against hers. The copper taste that was filling her mouth intensified then, and again when his other hand grabbed her waist and began to guide her backwards.
They vanished from the mirrors reflection, him pushing her to the cold stone wall between the sink and the tub.
At first she struggled, pulling her arm away from him and reeling it back, balling her hand into a fist. She stopped though, when he leaned in to the kiss and opened himself up somewhat. His skin had gotten paler, his eyes had lightened considerably, his body was cold. But his lips were still warm. He still smelled the same. Between the scent of the potpourri from Ithor in a quaint basket on the sink and the taste of blood that was sloshing over her tongue, she could still smell him.
Maybe, just maybe, if she followed through he would come around. Even if it was only a little bit. She could pry into that little bit and get it to grow. Or at least this is what she kept telling herself when she started to return his kiss. She felt his mild shock through their bond when she actually began to respond to him.
He pulled her away from the wall and back to the sink, where he hastily placed her on the edge of the counter and began to rip at the buckles on his pants. She could see the streaks of her own blood on his lips and she could suddenly feel her head growing lighter.
The Queen Mother was relieved that she didn't have to look at herself in the mirror right now, she thanked the Force that her back was to it. She thanked it over and over again when his hands went under her nightgown.
Hours later, Tenel Ka found herself seated at the small table by the balcony doors. Her gaze was locked on the monster curled up in her sheets, on her bed - the shell of Jacen Solo. Something had crept into her best friend as she purposely ignored it and told herself again and again that it was nothing.
She could still taste the blood on her lips and she could feel the newly forming bruises on her skin. Jacen Solo had been the most gentle boy she had ever met. He'd grown up with a good head on his shoulders and a refreshing outlook on everything around him.
She told herself she didn't know what happened.
He stirred, whatever that thing was in her bed stirred, and sat up. In the dark of her chambers, in the dead of night, with only the moonlight seeping in, he still looked like Jacen Solo. His mussed hair, his broad shoulders, the jawline--
Then his eyes hit a sliver of light. He was staring at her now.
"Come to bed."
They stared at each other across the room, her gray gaze locked with his increasingly orange orbs. He could see her shoulders rising and falling with each almost angry inhale and exhale. He had never seen her like this. She looked like she wanted to lunge across the room and rip his throat out.
But she held back. She always did.
"I love you," Caedus suddenly whispered.
Tenel Ka didn't move, she just stared at him.
That was the last time he spent the night in her bed before he was killed.