By Tahiri Solo
Disclaimer: All the characters, places, and such mentioned in this fic are the property of Lucasfilm. I own nothing and am in no way getting paid for this story. Also, if this bears any resemblance to stories written by others, that is purely coincidental. No infringement is intended.
It's only been a standard hour since we left, and I miss her already. The effect she has on me is amazing.
I've left her so much, and this time I almost couldn't bear it. As I boarded the Lightning Rod, I could feel her eyes on me, watching me leave her once again, felt her struggle not to cry. It took everything in me not to rush back down the ramp and gather her into my arms, hold her close, promise her I would never leave her again - and abandon everything else to keep that promise. But I have to find this man, if I want to keep her - and the rest of the galaxy - safe.
But even now, I'm aching to hold her. I know that sounds crazy. She's my best friend, the young woman I've known ever since she was a little girl who followed me around on the streets of Coruscant, the one person who knows me better than I know myself. And to feel this strongly about her . . . it could jeopardize our friendship, which is the most important thing in the galaxy to me - save for her herself, of course. I can't let that happen.
And anyway, I don't deserve her. I know I don't. She's smart, funny, talented at everything, beautiful - and she deserves someone who could give her the galaxy itself.
That someone would not be me, as much as I wish I could give her everything she deserves. After all I've done, how could she ever feel for me the same way I feel for her?
But somehow, despite all this, she's forgiven me. After all the pain I've caused her, I'm still her best friend. She's not even angry with me. She's not afraid of me, either - it would break my heart if she was. She trusts me, believes in me . . . so much so it makes my heart ache. How could I have ever done things like that to someone like her?
I've vowed that someday, somehow, I will make it up to her. I know that will be almost impossible, but I don't care - I'll do whatever it takes. My worst fear is that something will happen to her. Just the thought of that makes my heart wrench. I know that she wanted badly to come with me, that she was angry because I wouldn't let her - it was written all over her face. I hope she understands why I wouldn't let her come . . . that I care about her far too much to ever risk her getting hurt. I would die for her in an instant - and that may end up being the case.
I know that there is a chance Raynar and I won't make it back. Probably a good chance. And I also know that if it comes down to it, I'll willingly sacrifice myself. I can't let this plague get loose. If it does get out, everyone I care about will be in danger - Peckhum, Jaina and her family . . . . There's not a long list of people I'm close to, being an orphan and all, but I will still do anything necessary to keep them safe.
But the thought of never seeing Jaina again . . . that's eating away at me. If our goodbye back on Coruscant was our last . . . the last time I'll ever feel her in my arms, see her beautiful face or have her brandy eyes look into mine . . . .
To put it mildly, that hurts. Probably the biggest understatement I've ever made in my life, but I simply don't have the words to describe this feeling inside of me. It's an ache, a terrible ache, the kind that fills and threatens to overcome you, and a desperate longing. A longing to see her again, hold her, feel her small body pressed up close against mine and nestled firmly into my arms, to just look into her eyes once more.
Her eyes are so beautiful. They're almost always sparkling with mischief or mirth, and I learned long ago that you can see almost everything Jaina is feeling in her eyes, if you know how to look. When she looks into my eyes, my heart simply melts, but I don't think Jaina knows just what she can do with those large brown orbs. She'd probably laugh if I ever told her and tell me I'm being silly and that I sound like some sappy holovid. But her eyes really are beautiful, at least to me. Then again, I find everything about her beautiful, so maybe I'm a bit biased.
I'm also feeling regret - regret that I didn't kiss her before we left. Even just imagining doing that seems crazy; it could possibly ruin our friendship, and I can't risk that - but I can't help thinking that that may have been my last chance.
My mind is screaming at me that I don't even deserve to be thinking about such things. We may be best friends, but she is still above me, and no matter what I do, I will never deserve her.
But in my heart, I know Jaina doesn't feel that way. She'd likely slap me if she knew how I felt. We've been friends for years, and I know she would be offended and upset if she knew her best friend didn't even consider himself worthy to be in her presence. Jaina may be the daughter of the Chief of State and a war hero, and the niece of the greatest Jedi in the galaxy, but she doesn't consider herself above others because of it. She has such a good heart, and I adore her even more for it.
But I know that she deserves so much more than me. More than anything, I want her to be happy, and if I have to give her up in order for that . . . then so be it.
But, I have other things to think about and worry over right now. If I survive this, then I can worry about making Jaina happy.
I can't help thinking of the last few minutes of our time together before Raynar and I left. Just as we were getting ready to board the Lightning Rod, I turned back to Jaina, wanting to tell her goodbye one last time before I left. Well, actually, I'll admit it - I did not want to leave her and wanted to stall for any more moments with her I could get.
Just as I turned to her, before I could even say a word, Jaina had flung herself into my arms and buried herself against my chest. I could have sworn I heard her murmur something along the lines of, "Hold me."
And I did. Abandoning all pretense and thoughts of not deserving her, I just held my best friend close to me, not knowing whether or not I would ever see her again. Jaina seemed to be feeling the same way, because her arms slid around my back and she clung to me tightly.
I could tell that Jaina was trying not to cry, and I heard her whisper, "Zekk, promise me you're coming back, okay? I don't want to lose you again." Her words were so soft, I'm not sure she even meant me to hear them. But I did, and hugged her closer in response and dared to give her a soft kiss on the top of her head, promising her without words that I would return. I was afraid I was being too forward, but hoped that she wouldn't be offended or would take it as simply a part of our close friendship.
All my doubts faded, though, as she sighed contentedly and nestled closer against me, laying her head right above my heart. I rested my cheek against her hair, and for a moment we simply held each other, not caring that everyone nearby was staring at us.
I swear, there is no better feeling in the galaxy than to hold the girl you love in your arms and be able to imagine for a moment that she loves you too.
Yes, I love Jaina. I always have. That's no secret - well, actually it is. I've never told anyone that, least of all her, for obvious reasons. I wonder if I'll ever have the courage to. Only time will tell, I suppose. And only time will tell if she actually loves me too.
I could go on thinking about Jaina for hours, of how beautiful she is, how sweet and caring and funny, and of how much I want to spend forever with her . . . . The only thing I don't want to think about is how hard it was to leave her again. That was torture, for both of us, I think.
But right now, I have a mission to concentrate on, and I'm not going to let myself get distracted. This is the only way I can keep the woman I love safe, and I'm willing to do anything for that.
Let me rephrase. I'm willing to do anything for her.