Beyond Once a Rogue (Post-LOTF AU, K/J, hurt/comfort, angst, two posts and a PM) FINISHED 10/8

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Sticks, Oct 7, 2012.

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  1. Sticks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 4
    I have been sitting on this for ages, waiting for the boards to return, and then I forgot to keep checking on them. But I'm here now. This is completely un-betaed. Hope you enjoy!

    -----

    Dubrillion, 43 ABY

    Rain sheeted off the hovel’s flat durasteel roof and pooled in the mud at Kyp’s feet. Through a gap between the door and the salvaged construction material that served as a wall, he glimpsed the dim greenish light of a single glowlamp. He sensed her inside, her attention bent to some domestic task, and he thought about knocking on the door. That seemed silly, in part because he could just as easily call out to her through the Force, but mostly because he didn’t think he could knock without bringing down the whole shack.

    Dubrillion had never quite recovered from the Yuuzhan Vong’s terraforming, as the torrential spring rains testified. Nor had it stabilized economically, as indicated by the shantytowns that had sprouted around Kershais City. On his way up the winding, mud-slick path, Kyp had sensed the occupants of the huts to either side in varying states of desperation and melancholy. This was a place where people went when life had beaten them. This was a place where misery festered and hope was crushed out.

    And yet this place, of all places, was where Jaina Solo had come when she disappeared.

    Though her location surprised him, to be sure, it had not been difficult to find. Grand Master Skywalker, anticipating the possibility of her withdrawal from the Order, had a tracer beacon installed on her X-Wing. Kyp doubted that Luke expected it to last long there, and indeed Jaina had found and removed it, as evidenced by the fact that he’d traced the signal directly to this spot and there was no snubfighter in sight. She also made a few adjustments--it had taken Kyp nearly a day to realize the seemingly random signal was actually a repeating pattern, and that when translated from Mon Cal blink code it said, You could have just asked.

    Her sense of humor, at least, was intact.

    Brushing her with his Force awareness once more, he tried to gauge her condition. Physically, she appeared to be completely recovered from the injuries she had sustained in her duel with Darth Caedus. That was a relief, but what concerned him more was her emotional state. He couldn’t get a read on her; she was closed to him, and if he tried to press harder he ran the risk that she’d sense him there and--

    “Come on in, Durron. Soup’s almost done.”

    He silently scolded himself for being so open, then thought fast. “You’re cooking?” he called. “Maybe I’d better stay out here.”

    Her sardonic laugh rang out through the planks and scrap metal, and produced a pang in him. He had missed that sound. He gingerly opened the door and went inside.

    It was warm, thanks in large part to a little unit she had rigged from a portable ration reheater, and Kyp noted that the shack looked surprisingly sturdy from the inside. Beams and struts interlaced in ingenious ways and bare patches were filled with cobb, and he saw scraps of heat-reflecting foil woven into the ceiling, which was so low his head brushed it if he stood straight. Even in the midst of a downpour, there were no leaks in the roof, though a collector outside brought rainwater in to fill a basin. The hut was smaller than most shipboard staterooms and contained only a nest-like bed against one curving wall, a military storage trunk next to it, a single plasteel table and chair with a datapad and glowlamp, a little refresher unit behind a divider, and the reheater where Jaina crouched.

    “Not the sort of place one would expect to find a goddess,” Kyp commented in a dry tone.

    Jaina watched him evenly, stirring a pot on the reheater, then nodded toward the table. “Have a seat.” He shrugged out of his sopping cloak and draped it over the back of the chair, then lowered himself into it; the seat was low and he realized she had shortened the legs from factory norm. He saw the telltale scorched and bubbled traces of a lightsaber where the chair met the plank floor, but she had obviously measured twice: the legs were cut with surgical precision. It added to the impression of scrupulous care Kyp got from the shack as a whole, which complemented a sense of lived-in comfort. Leave it to Jaina Solo to have the coziest place in the refugee camp, kept to military standards of cleanliness.

    “Uncle Luke sent you,” she stated as she poured the contents of the pot into a small ceramic bowl. “Is this a courtesy visit, or does he want you to bring me back, now that I’ve defected?”

    He cleared his throat, immediately on the defensive, but also grateful that Jaina could always be relied upon to cut straight to the power cables. “Actually, he called it going rogue.”

    With the barest hint of a smile, she set the bowl and a spoon on the table before him. “Interesting choice of words.” She crossed to the storage trunk and retrieved a sealed canister, which turned out to contain most of a loaf of dark bread.

    “I thought the same,” he agreed as she tore off a hunk of bread and offered it to him. “Though it does imply that you stopped being a rogue at some point in the past.”

    She huffed a laugh and pulled off another piece of bread for herself, then went behind the divider and returned with a yard of white absorbent fabric. She tossed it to Kyp, and he started wringing out his hair with one hand and spooning up the soup with the other. It was thin, with small slices of a vegetable he couldn’t identify, but it tasted wonderful after a hike through the rain. “It’s a courtesy visit,” he said after a few mouthfuls. “Everyone just wants to know you’re okay.”

    There was silence for the space of several breaths, and he finally glanced over at her. She was gazing at him, her face unreadable. “What are you going to tell them?” she asked softly.

    “What do you want me to tell them?” he replied. At that she quirked another almost-smile and moved past him to sit cross-legged on the bed after removing her boots.

    And that, Kyp thought to himself, was where the conversation died. He could not for the life of him think of a sentence that didn’t careen straight over the event horizon of what Jaina had done. Moreover, he could not bring himself to speak of trifles. It felt dishonest. So, for the next several minutes, he ate his soup in silence, until something occurred to him and he fixed Jaina with a suspicious stare.

    Of course she knew exactly what he was thinking. “No, I didn’t drug it,” she assured him sardonically. “I’m not eating any because I already had supper with a family down the hill earlier this evening. And also because I only have one bowl.”

    “Making friends?” he asked after swallowing the mouthful he had been warily holding. The thought of her endearing herself to the shantytown’s residents was somewhat comforting. At least she wasn’t alone.

    “I fixed their water cycler last week. They were just paying me back.”

    Kyp suspected she had done many such favors for her neighbors. He wondered if they knew who she was, or even that she was a Jedi. Perhaps she was masquerading as an unemployed snubfighter mechanic. He scraped the last bits of soup from the bottom of the bowl. “That was delicious. Really. It didn’t taste like industrial solvent at all.”

    She made a face at him, then turned to retrieve something from under the patchwork mattress. “Now that you’re done, we can get down to business.” Before he could respond, she tossed the tracer beacon onto the table. “Why did Grand Master Skywalker really send you?” The bantering lightness in her voice was gone. She was as cold as the barrel of a blaster on his temple.

    “I told you,” he said, treading carefully. “Everyone just wants to know you’re all right.”

    “You’re a kriffing terrible liar, Durron.”

    They both knew that wasn’t strictly true. She was the only one who always saw through him, and that had come at the cost of destroying her trust. Still, he felt his ire rise. Something in her tone reminded him sharply of the late lamented Mara Jade Skywalker. He was tempted to tell her so, to marvel at how similar they had turned out to be in all the worst ways, but sensed that this would be unwise, so he held on to that impulse in case the conversation went even further downhill. “Fine,” he bit off at last. “The truth is that your uncle didn’t send me.”

    Her head jerked back. “He didn’t?”

    “Nope,” he declared, pleased to have surprised her. “He gave me the sensor signature for this tracer, and his blessing to come after you, but I had already been given my assignment by then. Your father asked me to find you.”

    At that her expression softened. Just a little, and anyone who didn’t know her well would never have noticed, but he did. “They miss you,” he added quietly.

    “They don’t understand,” she began, and for an instant he thought her shields would come down and wondered that it should be so easy. But then she caught herself and reasserted her Solo bravado, turning a disinterested gaze on the far wall. “They can comm me anytime.”

    He recognized this as a point where he needed to back off, so he said, “Okay.” Jaina’s eyes snapped back onto him. “What?”

    She looked at him incredulously. “Okay?” she echoed. “You’re not going to argue with me? Tell me it’s not the same, that my parents need me close by, especially now? Or maybe it’s the Jedi Order that needs me. Should I come back so Uncle Luke can make me a Master and I can sit on the Council and clean up his messes and get my robes washed on the wrong settings by apprentices?”

    That torrent of words was exactly what he wanted to hear from her, but her voice hadn’t quite risen enough. If he knew any one thing about Jaina Solo, it was that she would never weep until she spent a while yelling first. He knew just how to make that happen. “Maybe Jag needs you,” he suggested, his voice still low and gentle.

    It had the opposite effect. Jaina glanced to the floor, her expression rueful. “He has an Empire to run.”

    “He’d make time for you.”

    “I don’t want anyone to have to make time for me,” she stated flatly, but there was no bite in her voice. Suddenly she grinned crookedly. “You know what he told me, once?”

    Silently Kyp wondered if he wanted to know, but he raised an encouraging brow. “He said,” Jaina went on, “he could see his unborn children in my eyes.”

    Always a romantic, Fel. “Did you tell him that’s not how babies are made?” he asked before he could stop himself.

    “I told him he’d be sleeping in his own bunk that night,” she said scornfully, and he smirked in appreciation. Then she was serious once more. “I don’t know how long I’ll need to stay here. And I don’t know where I’ll need to go after that. But I know I’m not coming back to Coruscant anytime soon, and nobody is going to change my mind about that. Not you, not Dad, not Jag.”

    Kyp nodded solemnly. “Fine. But you should know, that comment about apprentices was unnecessarily harsh. Ronto Clan is no good at it, but by the time they’re in Bantha they have a healthy sense of fear and they’re tall enough to operate the laundry droids.” Her smile was guarded. He had yet to actually get a rise out of her, and it was starting to piss him off. “Anyway,” he went on, “I figured you’d say something like that, but your parents aren’t the only ones who need you close by. That’s why I’ve decided to stay here.”

    The smile disappeared. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve--”

    The hovel’s door burst open and a small blur streaked inside, babbling heavily-accented Basic too fast to follow. Whatever it was seized Jaina’s hand and started tugging her toward the door. “Straeli, slow down,” Jaina insisted, and the blur stilled, revealing a juvenile Ryn in an obvious state of distress.

    Straeli panted, half-crouching from the exertion of running some distance, and finally cried, “Landslide!”

    By the time Kyp made it to the door, Jaina had her boots back on and grabbed Straeli’s hand again. They took off at a pace Kyp couldn’t match, not because of age or fitness, but rather the fact that he didn’t know this place, and in the dark and the rain he worried about sliding right off an overhang. But it wasn’t hard to figure out where they were going. There was an epicenter of distress in the Force, down and to the east. He picked his way through the camp as fast as he could, and caught his breath when he glimpsed it through the rain.

    It looked like half the mountain had come down. He mistrusted his sense of scale, but there were easily two dozen huts crushed under what appeared to be a solid slab of stone three meters thick, and a layer of choking mud just for good measure. Refugees who had been spared gathered in twos and threes, clearly dismayed but helpless to act. Kyp reached past them to the heap and discovered, to his astonishment, points of awareness beneath the stone. Not many of them, and they were fading fast, but they were there.

    “They’re still alive down there,” he shouted, and that was when the panic really began. People started to dig--with whatever tools they had, scraps of metal, their bare hands--and call out to friends and relatives, but he could see their efforts were futile. Anyone lucky enough to have found a hole when the rock fell would have no more than a few minutes’ worth of air. If he could lift it...

    But he had no time to gather his strength. The survivors all fell silent and gazed over the edge of the slab at the small figure who had climbed up and now moved across it with purpose in her stride. She stopped and looked down, and Kyp felt the intensity of her focus through the Force, and then Jaina dropped to one knee and pressed the shatterpoint.

    A crack louder than thunder resounded down the hillside. Faults spread over the surface of the slab and a cloud of pulverized stone rose into the air as boulder-size chunks separated and settled. Though their awe was palpable, the refugees wasted no time in chipping away at the smaller sections of stone. Kyp hurried to direct them toward the dimming consciousness he found in the Force.

    They saved five. It was dawn by the time the last old woman, who had been in a root cellar of all places, was pulled from the muck. Kyp had not paused to catch his breath in all that time, and no sooner had he wondered where Jaina was than she appeared at his side. Her eyes were tired, her clothing coated with mud, her expression drained, but her Force aura was radiant and suffused with power. Kyp was overcome with something he was too exhausted to identify, but when Jaina met his gaze she seemed to recognize it. “Come on,” she said, and they threaded their way back to her hovel.

    -----

    The conclusion will be up later this week. In the meantime, if you'd like a PM of the scene that comes in between the two posts, wink wink nudge nudge, do let me know.
    Last edited by Sticks, Oct 8, 2012
    Krayt-Eagle likes this.
  2. Durroness Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2002
    star 1
    Oooh, what a pleasant surprise! What a perfect read on how Kyp might actually react to the events of LOTF. Looking forward to the post later this week!

    And, I'll take that PM if you don't mind.
  3. bellum stellarum Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Ah, just what I needed today. :)

    And yes, I'd like to take you up on your offer. ;)
  4. Sticks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 4
    As opposed to the not-reacting-at-all that he did in profic? ;)

    Happy to help!

    Thank you both for reading! I'm getting the conclusion polished up now, and in the meantime, check your inboxes. :D
  5. skyag Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 11, 2010
    I cant wait to see how this story ends up -- I love the idea of Jaina actually having to work through the horror of her killing her own brother -- it's ridiculous how in profic they not only don't touch on it, but Jaina actually seems chomping at the bit to do it... can I have that pm to, please?
  6. Sticks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 4
    Right? "Good news, everyone! I've spent a few weeks in a medcenter and I'm now completely healed, both physically and emotionally! Let's start the next book series!"

    I couldn't wait any longer to post this. Here's the conclusion!

    -----

    By midday, they had exhausted themselves several times over and rendered each other raw, sore, and utterly sated. Kyp teetered on the edge of sleep, enjoying a haze of gratification, while Jaina got out of bed and collected their clothes. She had an ingenious little drying rack that telescoped out from the wall over the reheater unit, and she hung their things there, though they were only a bit damp by then. When she came upon his utility belt, she paused, then unhooked his commlink, fetched her multitool and a datapad from the storage locker, and moved to her little plasteel table where the tracer beacon still sat. She went to work and Kyp pushed himself up on his elbows to enjoy the view. Jaina felt him watching, glanced at him sidelong, and gave her hips a little wiggle. He raised his hand to his brow and said woefully, “You are never going to let me sleep.”

    She favored him with a lopsided grin. “Sleep is for the weak, and you, Master Durron, are most certainly not.” She shut a panel on the beacon and unhooked her datapad from a port on his commlink, then sauntered--there was simply no other word for it--back over to him and held out the little device. “Signal’s encrypted now, but your commlink has a receiver lock. No matter where I go, you’ll be able to find me.”

    Kyp shook his head. “I meant what I said earlier. I’m not leaving.”

    The beacon flew from the table to the far wall with a metallic smack, but it was meant to withstand some abuse and so remained in one piece.

    As Kyp stared up at Jaina, it occurred to him that when he had kept her from pursuing wholesale vengeance against the Yuuzhan Vong she had been a half-trained adolescent, freshly initiated to a universe of death and not yet certain of what she wanted. Now, she had lost her brother again, in small but devastating ways over time, and the final blow had come from Jaina herself. There was no vengeance to seek, but there was still a dark path to follow, and if Jaina chose to take it now, could Kyp really hope to stop her?

    Then she drew in a deep breath, mustered another smile, and said, “Sorry. That was mean.”

    Master Skywalker hadn’t expressed any concerns about the possibility of Jaina following her brother’s trajectory, but why else would he plant the beacon? Something about that was niggling at him, but he put it aside for the moment. “Jaina,” he said softly, “is it really wise for you to be alone right now?”

    “I’m not alone,” she shot back. “I’m surrounded by life, and problems to solve. Every day is new and different. The people here respect me, and don’t look at me with pity in their eyes.”

    “Does that fill the hole?” Kyp asked. When she furrowed her brow at him, he elaborated, “The one Jacen left?”

    Jaina sneered at him. “You think I’ll be able to patch that hole by coming back to the Order?” she scoffed, and turned away to pull a threadbare robe from her locker. He was mildly disappointed that she was going to cover herself up, but he supposed it would help his focus.

    “Not remotely,” Kyp assured her. “In fact, I believe it would make things much worse. You were right, before--the overwhelming majority of the Council want to make you a Master.”

    “And what was your vote at that referendum?” she said bitterly.

    This, he hoped, was it. He lowered his voice and tinged it not with pity but tenderness, then answered, “You’re not ready.”

    She stood there in silence, and when she finally looked back at him, he knew he’d cracked through. There was a lostness in her eyes, and he hurried to wrap her in his arms and ease her back down to the mattress. She cried then, angry, helpless tears. Kyp stroked her hair and murmured consoling platitudes, hating the way they sounded from his mouth. Jaina seemed to go through stages--she was motionless at first, but then she tensed up and struggled in his grasp for a moment, and finally she wailed against his chest, an anguished and throat-rending sound. She was so open in that instant that Kyp had only to reach out and feel what she felt.

    --hole in his heart hole in my heart why did i i know why nobody else could can’t i take it back go back to being kids grew up karked it all up simple then go back take it back bring him back--

    Kyp took a shaky breath and cut himself off from her grief, but it seemed she had spent herself anyway. She leaned against him, her head on his chest, eyes open but distant, expression soft and muscles slack. He breathed in the scent of her hair, and ran his hand up and down her spine through the fabric of the robe. He could, he was fairly certain, stay like this for weeks.

    But Jaina could not. After too short a time, she disengaged herself from him and swiped at the tear tracks on her face. “A kriff and a cry,” she quipped, with another lopsided smile. Shields up. “How much do you charge for your therapy sessions, Master Durron?”

    All at once it hit him. “The beacon,” he breathed. “Why didn’t you just deactivate it?” Jaina looked up at him, far too innocently. “Unless you didn’t really want to be alone. And who else would come for you? Zekk is missing, Jag has an Empire to run, your parents have Amelia, Master Skywalker was willing to give you your space--it would have to be me.” He felt suddenly cold, and foolish, and used. A kriff and a cry, indeed.

    Jaina got up and stepped over him. “Come back anytime,” she said blithely, and went about cooking lunch for one.

    “You’re a piece of work, Solo.” And you’re a fool, Durron. Her fool. He always had been, but now the deal was sealed.

    “You and I are the same,” she replied over her shoulder. “I knew what I wanted, and you were kind enough to oblige me.”

    He grimaced at her back. “You could have just asked.” Then, in a hiss, “Sithspawn.” Kyp dressed mechanically, with a sour taste in his mouth. Before he exited the little shack he glanced at her, but she was facing away, ignoring him totally. Even as he cursed her in silence on his descent to Kershais City, even as he considered tossing his commlink into the mud, he knew he wouldn’t be able to stay away.

    He doubted he’d even make it out of the spaceport.
  7. LexiLupin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2011
    star 4
    I'll be honest, I was a little iffy on this story- until the very end. That was brilliant. I was having trouble buying the falling in to bed aspect, until Kyp realized that she was basically playing him the whole time, and then it all made a lot more sense. :D

    But I do love the idea that Jaina did, in fact, struggle with Jacen's death. I guess it's theoretically possible that there's some missing territory in profic that could encompass such emotional angst but... yeah, severely overlooked and absurd.

    Profic needs to bring Kyp back. :( Maybe once Denning isn't quite so at-the-helm anymore (which will hopefully happen with Sword of the Jedi and beyond...) he can see a little more action (not necessarily of this sort ^^, but you know). Such a wasted character. Ooh, maybe he can have a novel where Jag sends him on a top-secret mission to assassinate Daala! (And cue the plot-bunnies!)

    (PM pretty please? [face_batting])
  8. Sticks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 4
    I'm glad the twist ending sells! I wasn't even sure where I was going with this, and then that sort of tumbled out, and I was all "[Jabba laugh]".

    Dangit Lexi, I'm supposed to be working on an actual novel, but now I have all sorts of ideas!

    The PM is coming your way. Thanks for reading!
  9. bellum stellarum Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    I expected (and was afraid) it'd end like this.

    There's no way anything more could have come out of this situation with the state of mind Jaina was in, but I'm really sorry for Kyp being used like this (how ever much he might have enjoyed the experience).
  10. Keila_ Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 2
    I really enjoyed this story. The ending was unexpected, but considering what Jaina had just gone through, very understandable. I'd love to get a chance to read the PM chapter too, if possible :)
  11. LexiLupin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2011
    star 4
    [face_devil][face_mischief] I do think the idea has serious potential. Ideas are bouncing around my head too, but I'm already slacking on two other stories and am trying to decide if I want to tackle a NaNoWriMo project next month. But Kyp... and Jag...and badassery... :D Maybe in January after my diary is done, lol.

    Thanks for the PM. It was lots of fun! ;)
  12. EmeraldJediFire Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2012
    star 4
    Okay, you have officially made me an fan of this pairing. Kudos to you
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  13. Dantana Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2002
    star 5
    You! Post more stuff to the K/J archive! :p

    Seriously, though, I really liked this. I've got insomnia and have been browsing through everything I've missed, and was very delighted to see another of your works that I hadn't yet read.
    Sticks likes this.
  14. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Nicely done. I wouldn't mind getting the PM missing scene. :D
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Hi: I like Jaina (with Jag most of the time) but I love! Kyp any way I can get him [face_laugh] [face_mischief] Excellent, superb writing. =D= Vivid and raw emotions. @};-
  16. Sticks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 4
    Thanks for reading, all! @Dantana Skywalker, I'm putting this and another new one up on KandJ! :D
  17. GirlOfFaith Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Loved this story.

    And I'll take the PM if you don't mind. ;)
  18. CelseteAntola TF.N Books Staff

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 3
    Sorry I'm coming late to this party...

    I've been off the boards for over a year, and it sure was nice to come back to one of your fics, Sticks! Especially to such a nicely done K/J pairing...

    I'd love a peek at that PM if you get the chance. ;)

    ~Celeste
  19. pronker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2007
    star 3
    I enjoyed this - without having read anything past the NJO. Anything that mentions their dynamic, the age difference, and the UST between, I am in favor of. If you're still handing out the PM to folks, I'm interested. Thanks!
  20. Gemma Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 25, 2013
    star 3
    I've always love the K/J pairing -- I like the idea of an older man. I wanted Jaina to always wind up with Kyp. I found the middle chapter over at the Kand J site - OMG that was really HOT!
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