Dec 2002

Disclaimer: It all belongs to George (Lucas, not my Leprechaun) & I just write for fun.

Author's Note: Ack! Somebody stop me, I'm writing a sequel!

And, of course, a huge thanks to DantanaSkywalker for her tips and for betaing this for me!


Strong Enough
Chapter 1

They didn't sleep. Their hearts pounded loudly in the sudden stillness of the room as their breathing returned to normal. A loose sheet covered the lovers as they lay contentedly in the silence.

He brushed her hair off her shoulders, spreading it out across his chest, as she lay curled about him. She sighed softly, her breath feathering across his still heated skin. "Kyp?"

He stared at the ceiling of his room, simply enjoying the feel of her body against his. "Yeah?"

She lifted her head slowly, sliding her hand up to the middle of his chest and using the back of it as a rest for her chin. He tilted his head, looking down at her. "Why me?"

"Why not you?" he replied, lifting his hand to gently trace the curve of her cheek. His whole body felt leaden, changed and rebuilt, from the passion she'd awakened. He felt complete for the first time in a long time.

She tilted her head at him, "I've been really rotten to you," her smile was faint, "And yet you stayed. Anything I did to make you leave, you just seemed to ignore it."

"I couldn't leave. I thought about it, but every time I tried I felt sick to my stomach. It hurt, physically, when I tried to walk away."

"Is that why you came back?"

He nodded, sitting up and dislodging her. He reached for his pants and slipped into them before he stood. He walked to the far side of his room before turning sharply and looking down at her. She'd pulled the sheet up to her chest, but was lying on her side, her head on her palm, her arm supporting it. She watched him, her brown eyes serious.

Kyp took a deep breath, shoving a hand into his hair as he thought of a good way to explain. Would she understand? Could she understand? His hand dropped to his side and he shook his head. "It's part of it. Have you any idea what it's like to be in the middle of a dogfight, ready to blow some skip away, and suddenly can't breath because something feels like it's missing? It's a momentary lapse, but something like that could get me killed alot sooner than I'd like. That's dangerous, you're dangerous, to my survival."

She sat up, dragging the sheet with her as she reached for her flight suit. "If that's the case then why'd you come back?"

He'd unintentionally insulted her. Great. That was just what he needed. He crossed the room, kneeling next to the bunk and looking up into her face. "I mean, that when I'm not fighting beside you, it's dangerous." He explained softly. "Jay, the other reason I came back was that Jag wasn't here. He wasn't around to occupy your time. I wanted you to have the chance to see me as something more."

"If you wanted so much, why didn't you just say something?" she demanded, pulling her clothing on and forcing him to move back or be stepped on. She pushed her arms into the fabric, getting them caught and having to stop to turn them right side out.

He took the opportunity to grab her shoulders and draw her complete attention. "You're being stubborn."

"I learned from the best."

"But why now? Do you regret what happened between us?"

"I..." she stopped, her shoulder slumping for a moment before she shook her head, meeting his gaze. "No, but I feel guilty. I shouldn't have done that to Jag."

"I'm sorry."

She shook her head, "It's not your fault, I shouldn't have... I could've..."


She bit her lip, looking at him. He carefully straightened her shirtsleeves and pulled them up her arms before carefully closing the front of her shirt. He pulled her hair from the neck of her top and spread it across her shoulders. He paused, lifting it away from her neck and ran a gentle hand over the dark purple love bite low on her neck. "I marked you." His words were soft, remorseful. He didn't regret what had happened between them, but she was obviously fighting with it. She'd cheated on Jag, a man she was technically still engaged to, and he'd been unable to resist her. Unable to tell her no.

She closed her eyes for a moment before taking a deep breath and meeting his gaze squarely. "I have to tell Jag before anything else can happen, Kyp. This isn't fair to him."


"Tonight, if I see him."

He bent his head, intending to kiss her, but she turned her face away and his lips landed on her cheek. "Not even in private, Durron."

His hands dropped from her and he stepped back as if burned. "Sure thing, Goddess." He sat on the edge of his bunk as she knelt and searched the floor, stretching out to reach under the crack of the bunk to pull the chain she'd dropped earlier. He watched, wordlessly, as she slipped it around her neck and tucked it into her flight suit. She got back to her feet and pulled on her boots before heading for the door. Watching her replace the chain made his heart ache.

"Pull your collar up, Goddess, lest the mere mortals see that bruise."

She flushed, turning her collar up and glancing back at him. "You say a word of this to anyone and I'll never speak to you again, Kyp."

"I'm hard to resist, Goddess," he told her with a smirk. "I think you'd get over it."

"Don't count on it." She unlocked the door but hesitated before opening it. "Promise me you won't say anything?"

He looked into her eyes, saw the fear she was trying to hide. She was afraid for herself, for him and for Jag if this came out. He nodded. "I won't say anything, Jay."

She smiled gratefully and stepped out, the door closing behind her. Kyp stretched out on his bunk crossing his hands behind his head. A smile slowly crossed his face. She was going to break it off with Jag so she could be with him. He was looking forward to the day when he could claim her again as his. He closed his eyes, and for the first time in months, slipped easily off to sleep.

Jaina stepped from Kyp's room and headed immediately for her own. Her thoughts were a mess. She was a mess. She'd cheated on Jag and even if she wasn't in love with him, it made her feel terrible. He didn't deserve that from her. He deserved better. He deserved someone who could love him and treat him honestly. She almost laughed. Put that way, she and Kyp deserved each other. She shook her head, keying open the door to her quarters and stepping inside. Infuriating man, but oh so passionate. A smile curved her lips. Kyp had shown her something she'd never experienced before. Her smile died immediately as she headed for her 'fresher. She needed a shower to wash off the grime from the battle and the remains of the passion between her and her former Master. Kyp Durron. Who would have thought? She shook her head, locking the door and stripping down to her underwear.

She left the flight suit in a heap on the floor as she flipped on the lights. She looked at herself critically in the mirror. The same brown eyes, a shade of Corellian brandy, the same straight brown hair, yet there was something more now. A smile played about her lips, but died just as quickly as it came. Methodically she checked her body for other marks. She had one where her shoulder met her neck and wearing a different style of flight suit would cover it. There were two more. One behind her left ear, easily concealed by her hair and one on her right wrist. She shook her head. She couldn't allow that to happen anymore.

With Jag she'd always been careful, pulling him away before he could mark her, but she'd been unable to move under Kyp's touch. Or rather, she moved too much and had been swept away by it. She fought off the images in her mind, the glint of the chain around her neck finally drawing her attention. She lifted the ring in her hand, cradling it in her palm. It wasn't much, just a simple gold band, but it had "J&J" engraved on it. She carefully removed the chain and hung it on the corner of the mirror. She had to give it back. And she was going to break his heart.

She showered quickly, enjoying the small luxury of water she was allowed as a 'Goddess'. She stepped from the stall several minutes later, wrapping herself in the towel. She wrapped it around herself and tossed her head, grabbing a second one to squeeze the water from her hair. Leaving the bathroom, and the chain hanging on the mirror she opened the door. Her eyes widened and she quickly slammed the door shut. Jag! He'd been turning towards her when she'd opened the door, having let himself in. She swallowed hard. She couldn't let him find out by seeing the marks on her. She leaned against the door, closing her eyes. How could she tell him to leave?

"Jaina?" His muffled voice came through the door. "Is everything alright?"

She took a deep breath. "Yeah, I just didn't bring a change of clothes in with me. Could you grab me something?"

She heard him rummaging around before he stopped outside. "It's nothing I haven't seen before." He told her easily. She closed her eyes. He was right of course, her sudden reluctance to change in front of him had to be a little strange.

"I'm sorry, I just..."

"Don't apologize, everyone needs some privacy. Here."

The door opened and she made sure she didn't have her hair flipped to the side as she accepted the change of clothing he'd handed her. "Thanks." She shut the door, locking it. She didn't need him coming in and finding her naked with strange marks on her. This was a distinctly uncomfortable situation. How could she tell him without telling him everything?

She unfurled the pants and top he'd given her. Black and forest green. She dropped them, staring at them in horror. Kyp's colors. The color of his eyes when he was- No! She shook the image away. She couldn't think about that now, not with Jag in her room. She gingerly picked up the black pants and slipped into them before examining the shirt. It was high collared and long sleeved. She slipped into it without a second thought, buttoning it up to her neck. She examined herself in the mirror and grimaced.

She was a mess. Why did he have to search her out now?


"I'm coming," she replied, "Just give me a second." She grabbed her brush and viciously ran it through her hair, carefully arranging it to hide the other marks. The one on her wrist could be passed off as a bruise even though it was covered. She opened the door and stepped into her room, stopping just out of the doorway.

Jag was leaning against the wall next to the door, his gaze taking her in from head to toe. And she felt nothing. Not a surge of pride for his inspection, or a desire to run to him and throw her arms around his neck. No, there was nothing. He'd been back for less than two months and the attraction, at least on her end, seemed to have died in the last two hours. She almost flushed guiltily. She knew why, she just wasn't about to tell -him- that. "Jag."

A small smile, just for her, crossed his lips. "Jaina. You look beautiful."

She felt lower than low as he stepped towards her, ducking his head to kiss her. She closed her eyes, turning her face aside. He pulled back, puzzled. "Jaina?"

"We can't Jag."

"We're engaged, it's expected." He flashed her a quick smile, "And it's enjoyable."

She shook her head, turning her face to look at him. "No, I mean I can't."

His brows drew together and she bit her lip. She couldn't just blurt it out to him, he'd want a reason. She felt miserable, torn. She had to break it off with him, it wouldn't be right to pretend with him after what had happened with Kyp. It wouldn't be fair to any of them. Indecisive, she remained silent for a long moment.

Jag finally spoke again, his brow smoothing as he nodded, "Oh, I see. You're right; you still have to be debriefed. I'm flying out tonight, I just came by to tell you I'll see you when I get back."

She swallowed hard. He'd given her an opening, and she couldn't have asked for a better one, but she felt terrible for having to bring this up before he went away. Maybe it was better this way. He'd have time to get past this, or at least to think clearly, while he was away. "Jag."

He moved to take her in his arms but she stepped back. He frowned. "Something wrong?"

"Everything." She cleared her throat, stepping further away, "I can't marry you."

Jag froze. She saw it in his posture, in his face, heard it in his breathing. She couldn't meet his gaze as she clasped her hands in front of her. "I'm sorry."


She flinched. This was much harder to do than she'd thought it would be. She licked her lips and lifted her head, forcing herself to meet his gaze. "I just can't. I... I'm not in love with you. I thought I could be, but something is missing."

He stepped towards her and she moved away again, making him pause. His eyes held confusion, "I don't understand. You said you loved me."

Just let me sink into the floor, she begged silently. She'd never felt so low in her life. "I can love lots of people, Jag. I do love you, as a friend, but I'm not -in- love with you. I don't know if you can understand that." She reached up to remove the chain from around her neck and paused when she couldn't find it. She paused for a moment before remembering where she'd left it hanging, and stepped past him back to the 'fresher.

Jag stayed where he was, and she closed her eyes for a moment, her back to him. Why was it so hard? She shook her head slowly before looking at herself in the mirror. She knew why. She was breaking his heart with no warning. He'd never seen it coming. She grabbed the chain and turned, stepping back into her room only to find it empty, the door sliding closed. Her hand, outstretched to give him back the ring, slowly dropped to her side and she bowed her head. It was done then.

It was done and she felt as if she'd just killed someone close to her. She placed the chain on the bedside table and looked slowly around her room. Jag's presence was dwindling, as if it had never been, but she still felt the size of a bug. Forcing it away, she squared her shoulders and turned to her door. She had to talk to the General about the last battle. And that battle suddenly felt as if it had happened in another lifetime.

Jaina returned to her room after the debriefing with the General and his staff. Their mission had mostly been a success, but now she had two new pilots to train, but no Jag to help her. She was in no mood to join the other pilots in the officer's mess for drinks; she wasn't expected to anyway. And she didn't want to search out Kyp. He'd been absent from the debriefing and she'd allowed it. She was in no mood to deal with him, not after the unexpected confrontation with Jag. She locked her door behind her and shed her shirt, hitting the lights as she did. The glint of the chain sitting on her bedside table caught her attention and she stepped up to it, dropping the shirt on the end of her bed. There was a datarod sitting next to it that hadn't been there before. She frowned, picking it up and turning it over in her hands.

She knew without looking it was from Jag. Shedding her pants, she pulled on the long shirt she used to sleep in and curled up on her bed. Why would Jag leave her a datarod? Had he written her to say goodbye? Or maybe to urge her to think it over before she made her decision? She reached for the datapad she left on the bedside table and removed the rod already inside it. With a decisive movement she slid the new one in and clicked on the power. Making sure it was scrolled to the top, she read the brief message, and her spirits plummeted.


I can't help but feel your actions and words today were hasty. I'll be gone for a week, when I get back, we have to sit down together and talk about this. Are you sure this is what you want?

I have to keep this short. Think about it.


She closed her eyes, gripping the datapad firmly in her hands and wanting to break it. Wasn't it bad enough she felt like the lowest life-form for cheating on him? Did he have to drag this out, to give her time to 'cool' off? She lay back against her pillow and opened her eyes to stare at the ceiling. What if he was right though? What if she had made a hasty decision? She thought of Kyp and her heart skipped a beat. No, she hadn't. She could already feel the excitement starting to run through her blood at the thought of their next meeting. Be it on the flight deck, in the off duty lounge or in his quarters. Or hers. Any activity with him was full of energy. For a man 16 years older than she was, he was certainly virile. She frowned. Should that age gap bother her? Sure, her parents had a larger one between them of what... twenty years? Eighteen years? It didn't bother them, why should it bother her?

She sighed, tossing the datapad back on the table before rolling onto her stomach and hugging her pillow. She was so confused. Jag was everything she admired, she thought she wanted in a husband. Reliable, steadfast, solid. He was someone she could lean on. They had enough of the same interests that they could talk for hours, especially about spacecraft. Her lips curved into a smile. Jag was a well of knowledge about spacecraft. But nowhere in that list did she include passion. He was an amazing pilot and he had a passion for flying, her ego liked to think he was passionate about her, but she knew it wasn't the truth. Jag wasn't inclined to passion. He was a man very in control of himself and his emotions. Passion probably wasn't in his vocabulary.

She felt guilty for thinking it. Jag was a good friend, or he had been, and a skilled lover. Very considerate, always controlled, making sure she was pleased. But being pleased wasn't enough. Oh no, Kyp was Jag's polar opposite. He demanded everything, drawing responses from her unwillingly and making her beg for more. But that wasn't enough, he wanted the same for himself and demanded it. She'd been powerless, and unwilling, to resist. Where Jag had been tender, Kyp was passionate. Jag was control, and Kyp was fire. She buried her face in her pillow. Comparing the men was unfair. As polar opposites she couldn't really be rational. Each had characteristics that drew her, but Kyp was far more alluring. She just didn't understand why.

Maybe it was the way he never gave up, even against insurmountable odds. He didn't know the word 'retreat' when he wanted something. He stayed around, forging ahead, until he got it. Maybe it was the way he looked at her, treating her as if she was his equal and not someone he looked down on. He wasn't condescending, though he was sarcastic to a fault. She smiled. She loved it when he lost his temper. Kyp was one of the few Jedi who wasn't afraid to be angry and it was a refreshing change. Of course, it seemed he always lost it with her, or her Uncle Luke, but she didn't mind. The way he did everything with such passion; could it be that vitality which attracted and drew her?

She closed her eyes, her groan muffled by the pillow. She loved him, was in love with him, and had been since before Jag had come into her life. Kyp's presence in her life, his influence, had helped make her who she was now. He was the one who'd stopped her darkside slide. He was the one who'd been able to reach her, to sympathize and understand. He'd been the only thing holding her to what she'd been and what she'd come back to. And she'd thought it was because of Jag.

It wasn't until she'd confronted him in the lounge a week ago that the truth had finally hit her, blindsided her. Jag wasn't the one who'd stood beside her through that tough time. Oh, he'd been there, but he couldn't understand. He'd never understand. The Force, the darkside, was beyond his comprehension. He'd tried, but she knew it was weird for him and difficult to accept. Perhaps it was better this way; Kyp understood her, had been with her through it all in a fashion nobody else had ever come close to. In a way that had been more intimate than anything she and Jag had ever done.

She screamed into her pillow. She knew her own heart, she -knew- it, but then why was this so difficult? Why did she feel so terrible for feeling relieved about being free of Jag? It wasn't as if she'd led him on, she'd honestly believed she could marry him. At least, she had until Kyp had run from her in the hanger. She'd never been so scared in her life as when he'd turned and fled. Who would've thought Kyp would run from anyone, least of all her? She could still see it in her mind. The look on his face, in his eyes. The horrified almost desperate edge she'd never expected to see, would never have imagined possible, had shocked her completely. Kyp had been scared. Scared of her and the possibility of her rejection. No, she frowned, it would have been a certainty. He never would have known her deepest secret if he hadn't run from her.

Her skin tingled and she ran a hand over the mark on her neck. So much had changed in one short day, in the few hours since they'd landed. She'd admitted to the feelings for Kyp, at long last, and he to her. That made her smile, but it was bittersweet. How could she be happy with Kyp when she felt such guilt? Guilt for deceiving Jag unintentionally, for accepting his proposal, and especially, for sleeping with Kyp before breaking off her engagement with him. She closed her eyes, fighting the tears. Did she regret when she and Kyp had shared? The question, Kyp's question, echoed through her mind. And yet, her answer was the same. No. How could she when she'd discovered the one thing her relationship with Jag had been missing?

She reached over and shut off the lights. Jag was right. When he got back, they'd have to sit and talk; he deserved an explanation. Her relationship with Kyp would simply have to wait until after she'd sorted out the wreck her private life had become. She closed her eyes to sleep, but sleep was a long time in coming.