Oct 2002

Disclaimer: It all belongs to Lucasfilm, I simply write for fun.

Author's note: There is little or No Jain/Zekk interaction in the NJO books and I'm quite distraught since I've always liked Zekk as a character. So, this is a 'friends' post between them. One friend to another and his concerns. Let me know what you guys think!!

WARNING: Destiny's Way Spoilers! This is a missing moments fic. It's a Jaina/Zekk short taking place just after her confrontation/conversation with Jacen on page 318.


The Sword of The Jedi?

Jaina walked away from her brother, firmly pushing his words from her mind. She knew what she had to do, what was her job. What did he know about fighting on the front lines anyway? He'd been in captivity for most of her campaign. Not that she wasn't glad to have him back, she just wish he'd keep his mouth shut about something he couldn't possibly understand. Her mind unwillingly went back to Uncle Luke's words during their knighting ceremony. Words she was sure he hadn't meant to say, but held no less impact because of it.

I name you the Sword of the Jedi... and never shall you know peace... Sword of the Jedi... Sword of the Jedi...

She shook her head, trying to banish the thoughts and only partially succeeded. She frowned, what did Uncle Luke know anyway? Calling her a sword and saying she was solitary. She had Jag, didn't she? He just didn't understand her.

A cold feeling spread through her as she stepped from the main room and onto the underwater balcony, the water swirling around the plexi-glass like air. Sea creature swam by beneath her feet and over her head as she stared into the dark void. What she wouldn't give for a high-rise balcony, with the wind whipping through her hair and soothing her spirit. She sighed, turning so she could step out of sight of the gathering. Ok, so Uncle Luke was a Jedi Master who's seen the future on occasion, futures that has come to pass. Surely that didn't mean she was in for a long and lonely life, defending others from darkness and blazing a path on her own.

Or did it? Her thoughts went to Jag and she could almost feel his arms around her, his lips gently caressing hers. [i]Jag...[/i] she felt the sting of tears and blinked them away. She couldn't cry, couldn't allow herself the luxury of feeling sorry for herself. She had too much to do, to much to accomplish before the death lottery called her number. She placed her hands on the glass, the cool surface soothing her sweaty palms, and leaned her forehead carefully between them. She closed her eyes, trying to banish the feeling of aloneness that was threatening to overwhelm her. She felt cut off, distanced from everyone, Uncle Luke's words only emphasizing that gap.

"Is this a private reflection or can an old friend join in?"

Her heart stuck in her throat at the sound of that voice, but she didn't raise her head to look behind her. She hadn't sensed his presence, his approach, but somehow she wasn't all that surprised. In her most difficult moments, for most of her childhood, he'd come racing to her rescue. He'd saved her more times than she could count, and done the same in return. Now, feeling at her lowest, her most vulnerable, he was willing to step in and help again. She swallowed to ease the tension in her throat, her voice steady. "I'd prefer to be alone."

The sound of his footsteps was muffled in the enclosed balcony as he stepped closer, leaning against the window casually a foot or so from her. "So I gathered. Most people come out here with an escort, or at least a significant other so they can neck."

She could see him out of the corner of her eye. He was taller than she, but she'd learned a long time ago he wasn't a threat, not to her at least. A reluctant smile tugged at her lips. "That's hard to do when your other half is across the galaxy."

A boyish smile crossed his lips. "I'll fill in if you want."

She looked at him, chuckling softly. "Jag would love that I'm sure. Jedi or not, he'd be out for your blood."

He grinned, his emerald eyes dancing. "He can have some of it if you've wounded him beyond reason, but I don't think I've got steel running through my veins so it might not be compatible."

She chuckled again, turning her back to the window and leaning against it. "Cute, real cute. What brings you out here, Zekk?"

"What else? I came for the view." She arched an eyebrow at him, but his gaze never wavered. "Ok, I admit it, you looked like you could use a friend. Whatever Jacen said to you seemed to be liable to set you off."

She grimaced. "He's been gone for so long I don't think he knows everything I've been through." She crossed her arms over her chest, tilting her head back so it lay against the glass. "I don't know if he can understand, but he's presuming a lot."

"And you can't talk to him about it?"

She shook her head. "Not yet, maybe not ever. I thought he was dead, Zekk, I thought I'd lost him forever. And here he is, proving that sometimes good can come from loss. He's stronger than before, more at peace with himself than I've ever seen him. But he's changed so much."

"And you're not sure if you know him anymore."

"Stay out of my head, Jedi."

"Then keep your thoughts to yourself, Goddess."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Don't start."

His face grew serious as he searched her features. "I'm worried about you, Jaina. You've been pushing yourself really hard, some would say too hard, and one day you'll burn out. I won't always be around to pull your backside out of the fire you know, you've got to take care of yourself!"

She whirled on him, her eyes blazing. "I swear, Zekk, I can take care of my..." she trailed off, noting the soft, teasing glint in his eyes.

"Glad to see I can still push your buttons."

She felt her anger at him slowly fading, being suppressed like every other emotion to keep her in fighting trim. "What do you want? You don't have to worry about me, I can take care of myself, you know. I've been doing it since the war started."

He stepped closer, looking down at her. "I want to help you, we all do, but you're pushing us away. When we were younger our strength lay in being united, in facing challenges together. We all heard what Master Skywalker said to you, and in face of our experiences, it rings wrong."

She took a step away from him, her eyes becoming shuttered. "Don't start, Zekk. I've been on my own, fighting on my own, since Jacen went missing. Don't presume to tell me how to fight my battles."

He grasped her shoulders tightly, his eyes serious and blazing green fire. "Someone has to. I know what you went through Jaina, I've been to the darkside and back, you saved me from it. Don't let everything you worked for fall apart by pushing yourself over the edge! Nobody but me seems willing to face your temper, and you won't listen to anybody but yourself!"

"Jag-"

"Isn't here. He's not here, Jaina. There are more people in the galaxy than just the two of you. He may not always be there for you."

She saw something in his eyes as she glared back at him. "You're just jealous!"

"So what if I am?"

The calm delivery of his words shocked her into silence. He hadn't even tried to deny it!

His hands gentled on her shoulders, simply holding her in place as he searched her eyes. "You know I am, I won't dent it. We've been through too much and been friends for far to long for me to lie to you now. That's not why I'm here. You helped save me when I didn't want saving, you helped save me from myself. You're the reason I was able to come back. What kind of friend would I be if I turned my back on you now, when you need me the most?"

She was pinned in place by his gaze, feeling the sudden need to step away, but couldn't find the strength. "It's not your responsibility. I can take care of myself."

He lips twitched. "Physically, yes. In a starfighter, no question, but emotionally you're a mess. I can feel it, even though you're trying to hide it. I can feel your turmoil. Let me help you, Jaina, please. Trust me."

She wanted to. Was sorely tempted to take the strength he was offering and lean on him, but Uncle Luke's words echoed again in her thoughts. Though you stand tall and alone... and alone... She blanched, forcing her feet to work as she stepped away from him and out of his grasp. She saw the hurt and frustration flare in his eyes. "Thank you, Zekk, but I need to work this out on my own. If I need an ear, I'll keep you in mind."

He sighed, "That's it then? You'll go on as you have, simply putting everyone else off and keeping your distance? You can't live like that Jaina, sooner or later, everyone needs a friend, even you."

She crossed her arms over her chest. "I know who my friends are, Zekk, and the fact that we're having this conversation says something about the quality of yours. I'll be fine, really."

He searched her features, "Could I ask a favor then? One friend to another?"

She arched an eyebrow inquiringly.

He adopted his move innocent and hopeful expression, "Could I have a hug?"

She laughed, the tension between them dissolving, as she stepped into his embrace. His arms folded around her as she put her head on his chest. "Anytime, Zekk, for as long as I'm able."

He kissed the top of her head affectionately and stepped back, a smile on his face. "Then let's make sure that's a very, very long time."

Jaina returned his smile and allowed him to lead her back into the gathering.

Fin.