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Beyond - Legends Warrior's Heart (YJK Tenel Ka, Jacen)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by snowduchess, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. snowduchess

    snowduchess Jedi Knight

    Jun 3, 2011
    Title: Warrior's Heart
    Author: snowduchess
    Characters: Tenel Ka, Jacen, Jaina, mention of Anja
    Timeframe: Young Jedi Knights, set somewhere between Return to Ord Mantell and Crisis at Crystal Reef.
    Genre: Angst, Friendship
    Summary: While jealousy was a petty sentiment that went against her nature, the spice addict’s blatant flirtations had been enough to make Tenel Ka want to put her fist through a wall. And while tears were a weakness she rarely indulged in, she hadn’t been able to reconcile her platonic friendship to Jacen with her burning urge to cry every time he touched the other girl on the arm.

    Her people have a saying. “A true warrior learns not how to give her blood for another, but how to give her heart.

    For many years, Tenel Ka had trouble understanding how a race of warriors priding themselves on their strength and independence could place credence in such a proverb. As she understood it, giving one's heart to another required a deep trust, something she didn't come by easily. Even friendship, a seemingly natural phenomenon for many of her peers, was a foreign and often perplexing concept.

    On Hapes, the term 'friend' was used only to describe a disposable benefactor, and blood relation mattered only when that blood was spilled for the sake of advancement. On Dathomir, friendship was a rare and sacred privilege above even the bond of the clan Sisterhood, bestowed only upon those worthy of being considered family. On both worlds, men were little more than slaves to the wills of their female superiors, scarcely tolerated beyond their usefulness in labor and procreation.

    The dual-pronged and often brutal matriarchalism of her upbringing had created a potent synergy of their core values, and she had spent much of her childhood reinforcing her self-reliance. This practice was accepted by her peers on Dathomir as normal and on Hapes as necessary.

    When she came to Yavin IV, everything changed.

    Though she had not been overly impressed by Jacen Solo in the beginning, she had quickly come to recognize his sincerity and compassion. The sparring accident, while tragic, had cemented their friendship and brought them closer. She supposed it wasn't until after he discovered her royal heritage—and after realizing he was treating her with the same casual respect and inconspicuous kindness he always had—that Tenel Ka truly began to trust him.

    In wake of the accident, she began to notice subtle changes in their interactions. The smile he greeted her with had become softer, as though he reserved it just for her. He had also taken to touching her severed arm, just above where his lightsaber had passed through. The strange thing was that Jacen didn't always seem aware he was doing it. Stranger still, she had begun to enjoy the way his unconscious caress tickled her hypersensitive flesh and the shivers it sent through her.

    By the time she remembered that she didn't allow such intimate contact, it was too late. Jacen had already whittled through fourteen years of carefully constructed defenses. He had grown on her like a vine, embracing and strengthening her, sheltering her from harm. Then, almost overnight, their budding closeness turned as frigid as the twilit hemisphere of Ryloth. Her world became a jumble of rampant foreign emotion, but it would be a lie to claim she didn't know the cause.

    Anja Gallandro.

    To say she didn't like the smuggler from the beginning would admittedly be an understatement. Anja was brash, self-centered, and undisciplined. After a tumultuous meeting on Ord Mantell and a quest to broker peace talks on Anobis, Anja had surprised everyone by agreeing to come to the Jedi Academy.

    And Jacen, being the hopeless humanitarian he was, put all his effort into making the older girl feel safe and welcome.

    In retrospect, it was not all that dissimilar to how he had acted when Tenel Ka herself had first arrived to Yavin IV. The difference was that Anja had made her interest clear from the beginning. A couple years older than the twins, she bore all the correct features to make men salivate with desire. Worse, she was not above using those attributes to her advantage, and she had latched onto the young Jedi with all the subtlety of a rancor latching onto its meal.

    And Jacen, being the hapless teenager he was, became entranced by the older girl's attentions.

    While jealousy was a petty sentiment that went against her nature, the spice addict's blatant flirtations had been enough to make Tenel Ka want to put her fist through a wall. And while tears were a weakness she rarely indulged in, she hadn't been able to reconcile her platonic friendship to Jacen with her burning urge to cry every time he touched the other girl on the arm. The year before, she had taken a difficult step forward by offering him her friendship and soon after, her trust. Now she couldn't shake the irrational feeling that trust was being betrayed.

    And Jacen, being the helpless male he was, failed to divine the source of her distress.

    Unable to better handle the sting of unwanted emotions, Tenel Ka withdrew from her friends, choosing to distract herself with routine maintenance on the Rock Dragon. Though the warrior in her chafed at her own cowardice, secluding herself on the Hapan shuttle seemed like the safest option. Unfortunately, it didn't take her long to exhaust the checklist of necessary tasks, and she was forced to resort to more superfluous chores. The previous afternoon had been spent inputting obscure destinations into her navigation system, while her day thus far had consisted of replacing minor components that were in perfect working order and cleaning the already spotless control console.

    She was in the middle of re-stitching the leather grips of the pilot's control wheel when she heard familiar footsteps coming up the boarding ramp. It wasn't often Jaina abandoned her twin's side; her devotion to him had always come foremost in any situation, and she wasn't particularly known for her sensitivity the way her brother was. Anja's arrival, however, had upset the dynamic of their circle and left Jaina equally hurt by Jacen's shifting attentions.

    As the brunette wordlessly sat next to her in the copilot's seat, Tenel Ka was reminded of how little time they had spent alone together during their training at the Praxeum. The older girl had, until recently, almost always been in the company of Jacen, Lowbacca, or Zekk. Grateful for her loyalty, Tenel Ka only wished it came under different circumstances.

    “Have I ever told you my brother’s an idiot?” Jaina posed without prelude.

    The warrior didn’t take her eyes off the leather lacing. “Unrepentantly.” Her friend merely grunted in response. “Does he at least deserve it this time?”

    “Three words: Anja. Lightsaber. Training.”

    “Ah.” That would definitely be cause for concern. “Perhaps you should have remained to supervise.”

    “I feared for personal safety.”

    Following the brunette’s gaze through the cockpit viewport, Tenel Ka caught sight of the smuggler in question wildly swinging her acid yellow lightsaber in attempt to deflect a laser blast from a training remote. Jacen stood nearby, likely instructing her to listen for the remote’s movements as opposed to watching for them. Tenel Ka still didn’t understand why he bothered. Anja was clearly as Force-blind as a rock, but the boy insisted on testing for some hidden affinity. Perhaps the fallout with Zekk the previous year still weighed heavily on his mind.

    “I cannot imagine why,” she said in response to her friend’s remark.

    Jaina shook her head. “Oh, not mine. Hers. If she asked Jacen to check her grip on her lightsaber one more time, I was going to start removing fingers.”

    “Jaina, my friend, I do not believe such a thing would be worth the consequences.”

    The older Jedi seemed to consider it. “Yeah, you’re right. But if she tries reaching for Jacen’s hilt, I’ll take her whole kriffing hand."

    Disturbed by the image, Tenel Ka was left without suitable reply.

    The sun was setting by the time she returned to her room. She stripped off her lizard hide and changed into a lightweight shirt and shorts, intending to do a quick workout before turning in for the night. Despite her best efforts, she had not been able to devise a morning calisthenics routine that sufficiently dispelled her mounting tension. The harder she pushed herself, the more resilient her aggravation seemed to become. A brief cardio exercise would at the very least help her fall asleep more easily.

    Before she could begin her workout, there was a knock at her door. Clamping down on a twinge of annoyance, she keyed it open to reveal a nervous-looking Jacen. He was still in his training gear, though the jacket of his jumpsuit was hanging from his waist, and his white undershirt looked fresh. His hair was damp, suggesting he had recently indulged in an evening sonic shower. His friendly smile of greeting turned disappointed when he took in her appearance.

    “Oh…were you sleeping?”


    “Because I can go if—”

    “Jacen.” When she was sure she had his attention, “Did you need something?”

    The boy faltered. “Um…well I-I know it’s late, but if you’re up for it…do you want to work on your meditation technique?”

    Tenel Ka blinked in surprise. Several months ago, Master Skywalker had tasked his students with employing initial stages of meditation; an ability in which she possessed spectacular ineptitude. Never one to accept failure, she had tried for weeks to force her mind and body into stillness. The more frustrated she grew, however, the more impossible the exercises became. When the day came that she finally bit back her pride and asked for help, Jacen had assented as though her request was the most natural thing in the galaxy.

    Lately, however, Jacen had seemed more interested in teaching Anja the finer aspects of the Force, and Tenel Ka had been too embarrassed to ask a second time. Faced now with that same gentle desire to help he had shown her in the beginning, she was struck by just how much she had missed Jacen’s companionship.

    Managing a nod, she stepped aside to allow him entrance into her room, and his smile promptly returned. They sat cross-legged in the middle of the floor, face to face and knees touching.

    “Breathe with me,” he reminded, “and let everything else fall away.”

    Following his lead, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, rewarded with the clean aroma of Jacen’s body wash. It wasn’t the standard unscented concoction provided by the academy. For one horrifying instant, she worried it might have been Anja’s, but she quickly discarded the notion. The scent was too plain to be the smuggler’s, subtle while still being distinctly masculine. She decided it must have been part of the care package his parents often sent him and Jaina.

    She found it…pleasing.

    She couldn’t recall when he started using this new soap, nor could she figure out why she was suddenly—

    “You’re not relaxing,” Jacen chided quietly.

    Tenel Ka froze, knowing she was supposed to be focusing on her breathing and nothing else. Blowing out a puff of air, she rolled her shoulders and neck in attempt to shake the traitorous thoughts from her mind. Since when did she concern herself with such frivolous details? She grew up on Hapes. If she could disregard the frequent sight of naked men embellishing most holiday celebrations, she could certainly ignore how nice her friend smelled.

    She drew in another lungful of that pleasant air, determined not to dwell on the strange feeling of content it left in the pit of her stomach. Stubbornly, she sucked in an even deeper breath. She would bury that contentment under the crushing weight of utter tranquility.





    She matched Jacen’s perfectly steady rhythm of respirations breath for breath, using his comforting resonance in the Force as a focal point to keep her mind from wandering. Every so often, though, she could sense him studying her as though trying to puzzle something out.

    It was very distracting.

    She heard him shift, felt the disturbance of the air between them, but remained still as a light kiss brushed her lips. Only when he had settled back into his own mediation did she allow an elusive smile to break free.

    Perhaps the boy wasn’t as hopeless as she thought.


    She awoke the next morning nestled warmly in her bed. Odd, she thought. She didn’t remember falling asleep. Glancing curiously over her shoulder, she found Jacen slumbering soundly beside her, a chivalrous amount of space and a layer of blankets between them despite the narrow width of her cot. Taking advantage of the rare moment, Tenel Ka let her eyes wander leisurely over his face, finding she enjoyed the peaceful innocence of his features in sleep as much as his oftentimes roguish good looks when awake.

    It wasn’t long before Jacen began to stir. When he opened his eyes, a sleepy smile crossed his face. He leaned back to cover his yawn, only to let out a yelp of surprise when he slipped off the edge of the cot.

    With mild concern creasing her brow, Tenel Ka rolled herself up onto her elbow and peered down at him. “Are you all right, my friend?”

    Jacen gave his head a shake to clear the remaining sleep from his mind. “Yeah. I, uh…meant to do that.”


    The boy rearranged himself into a sitting position beside the cot. “Good morning.”

    “Good morning,” she returned, bemused.

    “You fell out of your trance around midnight,” he explained, picking up on her confusion. “ I hope you don’t mind that I stayed…”

    “No, I—” I trust you.

    Tenel Ka stopped herself short of the intended statement. The notion that she should be offended for the sake of propriety simply hadn’t occurred to her. Still, she didn’t dare be that honest. Not when her recent turmoil had left her emotionally compromised and unbalanced. Fourteen years of instinct wouldn’t allow it.

    “I do not mind,” she amended.

    He was quiet for a few moments as he played with the zipper of his jumpsuit. “Is everything okay? I feel like we haven’t been the same lately.”

    Tenel Ka swung her legs over the edge of the cot as she sat up. She couldn’t quite meet his eye. “You are not alone in the sentiment.”

    Taking the unspoken invitation, Jacen lifted himself from the floor and carefully settled down next to her. “I…I’ve missed you,” he admitted. “I’ve seen you every day, but I feel like I haven’t…seen you. Does that make sense?”

    “More than you might think.”

    He nodded to himself. “ So…are you going to make me guess what’s bothering you?”

    “Do you not like a challenge?”

    She expected him to jest in return as he was always apt to do, to flash that cocky grin and avoid serious reply in favor of flippant remark. She did not expect him to stare at his hands in silence, expression shadowed by somber contemplation. Before he even found voice to answer, she realized Jacen was just as distressed by their estrangement as she was.

    “…maybe the challenge isn’t figuring it out,” he mused quietly. “Maybe the challenge is fixing it.” He let out a sigh, and his shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry. I was trying so hard to prove I’m a good friend that I forgot to be a good friend.” Finally, he lifted his head with a cautious sideways glance. “Are you mad at me?”

    “Of course not,” she assured him. “I am…” She paused again. What was she? Hurt? Lonely? Jealous?


    She shook her head, refusing to accept any of it as truth. “I am unsure.”

    Jacen once again stunned her with his silence. This time, she found his gaze on her instead of his hands.

    This time, he had that look on his face.

    She had learned a long time ago that look meant he was trying to gauge her emotions. She had been told she was difficult to read—the innate secrecy of her Hapan heritage, she supposed—but now she had a nagging suspicion he was pinpointing her current emotions better than she could.

    She grew tense; though the brush against her mind was as delicate as his kiss the night before, she couldn’t hold back the sudden feeling of vulnerability.

    He grimaced sheepishly and broke eye contact. “I’m sorry,” he repeated.

    An awkward hush fell over them, forcing Tenel Ka to admit just how far they had strayed from one another. The tentative progress they had made towards normalcy had all but vanished.

    Unable to stand it any longer, Tenel Ka climbed to her feet. "I am going to go for a run."

    “Can I tag along?”

    Hearing the unmistakable tinge of hope in his voice, she met his gaze. There was a time he wouldn’t have had to ask, but if he was willing to forsake his pride, how could she not do the same?

    “If you think you can keep up.”

    A lopsided grin tugged at the corner of his mouth. “I do like a challenge.”

    “Good. You will get one.” She gestured towards her training gear. “I will need to change first.”

    “Sure. I have to feed the animals anyway. Meet you in the hall?”

    Giving her nod of consent, Tenel Ka watched the boy slip out of her room. Knowing it would take him longer to tend to his pets than it would for her to dress, she spared a few minutes to untangle and reweave several of her braids that had come loose during sleep. Once satisfied, she exited her room. Seeing Jacen already waiting for her, she started down the corridor, stopping when he called her name.

    “Tenel Ka. What do viper wasps do when they finish building a new hive?”

    For a moment, she could only stare. It had been weeks since Jacen last posed one of his jokes to her. She had never understood the humor in them anyway, but what shocked her was how happy it made her that he was telling her one now.

    “I do not know, my friend. What do viper wasps do?”

    “They have a house swarming party.”

    His smile was gentle, almost timid, but it wasn’t the punch line to his joke that caught her attention. It was the quiet whisper in her mind.

    I trust you, too.

    No, the boy was definitely not as hopeless as she thought. In fact, she was beginning to suspect he was far too perceptive for his own good.

    She couldn’t pretend that no harm had been done, but for the first time, she felt the burden begin to lift. Like her severed arm, the damage would heal in time, and they would come out stronger for it in the end. Jacen already had her friendship.

    Maybe one day she could learn to give him her heart.
  2. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Chosen One star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    That is a beautiful story. I loved the young Jacen. He was sweet. I hate what the profic authors did to him.
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent missing scene and characterizations. =D= LOL Perhaps it is not time for TK to probe the cause behind her irritation over Anja, woot! but it does say something. :)
  4. Kahara

    Kahara Chosen One star 4

    Mar 3, 2001

    This is adorable. I would have loved to see this in the novels.
  5. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Dec 10, 2005
    Yummy! I really liked your viggie. Great Tenel Ka characterizations. =D=
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  6. Gemma

    Gemma Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 25, 2013
    Loved Jacen's joke. And the tender moments they shared in this. I liked her comment about him keeping up with her on a run.