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Beyond - Legends Breath by Breath (NJO Jacen/Tenel Ka)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by snowduchess, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. snowduchess

    snowduchess Jedi Knight

    Jun 3, 2011
    Title: Breath by Breath​
    Author: snowduchess
    Characters: Jacen, Tenel Ka
    Timeframe: Just before the Mission to Myrkr (Star by Star)
    Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Friendship/Romance
    Summary: During their time at the academy, he had only ever known the warrior, firm and devout: a reluctant princess in title only, never conceding to her royal stature. As he looked at her trembling form now, he could see only the destiny approaching her breath by breath.
    Note: As I am a detail-oriented perfectionist, I must admit to my own convenient and deliberate disregard for the need of vac suits on Eclipse Station.
    You must begin to understand the destiny that approaches you all,​
    star by star, breath by breath.​
    –Tsavong Lah, Balance Point
    She had always been the strong one.

    Having spent his life surrounded by women stronger than he was—mentally, spiritually, often physically—Jacen felt no shame in admitting it. Whether it had been facing Bartokk assassins on Hapes or nearly freezing to death in the Nightlands of Ryloth, Tenel Ka had always retained her stoic sense of determination and level-headedness. No challenge was too daunting for the warrior of Dathomir.

    It was for this very reason he knew something was wrong.

    Mere hours before, his uncle had authorized Anakin’s plan to destroy the voxyn cloning facility they believed to be stationed above the planet Myrkr. Over a dozen Jedi had already enlisted for the mission, Jaina and himself included.

    Tenel Ka was not among them.

    It wasn’t that he wanted her to partake in what he believed to be both existential and moral suicide; if it weren’t for his siblings, he wouldn’t be going, either. What concerned him was her failure to stand with her friends as she had done without hesitation countless times throughout the years. Other than questioning Master Skywalker’s sanity, the Dathomiri had been unusually withdrawn. She disappeared after the meeting ended, and as soon as the commotion of initial preparations died down, he set off to find her.

    Following the unique resonance Tenel Ka emitted in the Force, Jacen eventually found himself in a deserted upper level corridor. The entire outer wall of the passage was made of thick transparisteel, granting unobstructed view of the surrounding station below and the asteroid field above. Though the scene beyond the transparent corridor was spectacular, his focus was drawn to the young red-haired woman who seemed more absorbed by her thoughts than the sight before her.

    He came up beside her, fully confident within the close comfort zone they had developed over the course of their friendship. He spared her a sidelong glance, momentarily entranced by the way the spiraling light of the galactic core bathed her features in a soft glow. While it was normal for her to keep her emotions carefully in check, they were currently tightly clamped down. He then mimicked her posture and waited for her to speak.

    After several minutes, she sighed. “You are going to ask why I did not volunteer for the strike team.”

    “I thought I was the mind reader.”

    “I know you too well, my friend.”

    The remark brought a smile to his face. “Honestly, I’m a little surprised. I assumed you’d be one of the first to sign on after me and Jaina. Don’t tell me the Princess Warrior is losing her nerve,” he teased. He paled when her expression turned crestfallen. He hastily took her hand in his. “I-I’m sorry. That was a stupid thing to say.”

    She squeezed his fingers, and he had to wonder if it was only to stop her own from quivering. “…I’m scared,” she admitted in a whisper.

    “We’re all scared, Tenel Ka.”

    She shook her head but didn’t elaborate. Undaunted by her silence, he studied her profile. The fact that she had so far refused to look at him was disconcerting. This ran deeper than simple anxiety. He gently probed her mind again, and though most of her thoughts were concealed behind heavy walls, he did pick up on one vague notion.

    “Are your parents all right?” Only the slight droop of her shoulders verified he was on the right track. “What happened?”

    Her brow creased. Even before he asked, Jacen knew there was a chance he wouldn’t get an answer. Tenel Ka had always been very private about her family life. To his relief, she responded with a low murmur.

    “I have not made it easy for them,” she began cryptically. “They have disagreed on many points over the years, my choices most of all. The past year has been especially difficult.”



    Jacen flinched involuntarily. Though he had persuaded his brother not to fire Centerpoint Station, he hadn’t been able to keep Anakin from reactivating it in the first place. After the painstaking hours their mother had spent convincing the Hapes Consortium to join the war effort, the Solo brothers could only watch as their cousin fired the massive gravity beam, wiping out three-quarters of the Hapan Armada in a single instant. From what Jacen had been told, the Force backlash of so many deaths hit the Queen Mother hard, and the small door Hapes had cracked open slammed shut once more.

    Tenel Ka had yet to meet his gaze as she confirmed his thoughts. “Faith in my father’s adjunct leadership has been steadily failing, and I fear Mother will not recover from her grief.”

    “Fondor was…” Jacen paused, not wanting to say the wrong thing, “a truly terrible loss, but it wasn’t Teneniel’s fault. Or Isolder’s. Memories of the dead will linger, but ships can be rebuilt—”


    He was startled to see a lone tear rolling down the warrior’s cheek. Unconscious thought moved his hand to wipe the droplet from her chin with the pad of his thumb. The act only caused Tenel Ka to crumple further, and a second tear soon followed in the first’s wake.

    “Mother was with child.”

    For a moment, Jacen could only stare. That, he hadn’t known. By her tone he guessed no one else knew, either. His stomach clenched as one more casualty was added to his and Anakin’s mistakes at Centerpoint. Another apology was on his tongue, but he couldn’t bring himself to utter it. No words could ever mend that pain, and he worried it would insult her to try. More droplets fell from her eyes, keeping him at a loss. Though Jaina had once confessed to seeing their friend cry, he had never witnessed it himself.

    “It was her concession,” Tenel Ka explained flatly, not bothering to wipe the wetness from her cheeks. “To give Father the heir he wanted, one that would be raised for the throne from birth. The child was meant to relieve me of pressure and expectation, to save not only their marriage but their reign. Now…” She let out a breath. “Father has been adamant I return home.”

    Beneath the bitterness with which she spoke, Jacen heard the guilty longing it attempted to hide. He hazarded insight towards the latter. “No one would think badly of you for wanting to be with your mother.”

    Tenel Ka continued as though she hadn’t heard him. “I know what he would ask of me.”

    Jacen gazed at his friend, genuinely seeing her for the first time. During their time at the academy, he had only ever known the warrior, firm and devout: a reluctant princess in title only, never conceding to her royal stature. As he looked at her trembling form now, he could see only the destiny approaching her breath by breath. Hapes had become more than an unwanted heritage. Juvenile aspirations were being replaced by a maturing sense of obligation, dividing responsibilities and testing loyalties.

    The weight of it was shaking Tenel Ka to the bone.

    He understood now why she hadn’t volunteered for the mission. With Isolder in disfavor and Teneniel’s reign weakened, only the promise their daughter bore as blood heir held the monarchy in stasis.

    Myrkr was a deathtrap waiting to seal her family’s fate.

    Not knowing what else to do, he tugged on her hand, drawing her into his arms. He half expected her to return the gesture with bruising intensity as she had earlier in the day at their reunion. Instead, she slumped against him as all strength seemed to leave her. Her cheek fell to his shoulder, warm exhales tickling his throat. The Dathomiri warrior had long been a hardened young woman, her prowess formidable at the best of times, lethal at others. Now her lithely muscular form felt almost fragile as he held her upright.

    Gradually, the tremors stopped, but even once her legs could support her again, Tenel Ka made no move to extract herself from his arms. He closed his eyes as she threaded her fingers into his hair, lightly stroking the nape of his neck. In turn, he traced the cusp of her severed arm, feeling the anticipated shiver as he grazed a particularly sensitive spot. It had become ritual over the years: he would caress her arm in subtle reminder that he still grieved for the pain he caused; she would allow his touch in subtle reminder that she still placed no blame with him.

    He didn’t resist when she lifted her mouth to his, barely more than a whisper of his name against his lips. Her breath teased his skin, and her fingers tightened slightly in his hair, but he remained perfectly still. After the smallest hesitation, she kissed him gently.

    It wasn’t the first time she had done so. In the past, she had been fueled by gratitude, relief, and even mirth, but this was different. This was the first time he felt her need of him. After the briefest deliberation, he leaned into her.

    Her lips were soft; softer than he remembered them being. She drew him closer, and he grew heady when warm velvet brushed his bottom lip.

    It was a simple exchange, a silent understanding. She needed something she could be in control of, and he needed to give it to her. In light of what was coming, they could expect no more of each other. He would not ask her to go; she would not ask him to stay. They would merely take shelter with one another in this moment of weakness and brace for the coming storm.

    He wasn’t surprised the following day when Tenel Ka wordlessly joined the strike team in their final preparations. She was greeted enthusiastically by their close friends: a jubilant growl from Lowbacca; encouraging words of welcome from Zekk and Raynar; a hug from Jaina. As he watched their interactions, Jacen sensed a wave of calm belonging envelop the warrior.

    When she reached him, she kissed him on the cheek with quiet gratefulness in her eyes. The fear was still with her, he knew, but she seemed more at ease with it. The Dathomiri warrior would face it head on as she did every other challenge in her life because, in her heart, she knew it was right.

    Suddenly he was the one trembling, afraid more than ever of what could be lost.

    He had never been the strong one.

  2. Keila_

    Keila_ Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 1, 2000
    Short, but sweet. I really liked this story. It isn't often that we get a look at Tenel Ka's motivations and feelings, and you handled it very well.
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Hi: Liked the inner glimpse into Teneniel and Isolder's difficulties. Tenel Ka's strength and courage shine through brilliantly. If you ever do a J/TK short story/epic, please send a shout via PM. I know already I will love it! @};- [:D]
  4. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Force Ghost star 4

    Jun 3, 2002
    Her ability to face her fears is one thing that makes her a favorite character of mine. You wrote her brilliantly. :) Her strength and understanding of responsibility come across perfectly. Well done. =D=
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  5. DaenaBenjen42

    DaenaBenjen42 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 15, 2005
    Seriously loved this glimpse of these two... before everything else that happened in the NJO. Well done. :)
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  6. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Nicely done. Loved the kiss --- well described.@};-
    Nyota's Heart likes this.