Strong Enough

Chapter 18

Tahiri weaved through the ships with an almost mindless intent, the clouds of matter left in her wake telling of her state of mind. She was furious and hadn't noticed reaching for the Force. Lost in a haze of memories mixed with reality, she didn't seem to see the ships that exploded in her wake, or the toll the battle was taking on the old freighter. Her intent was a simple one. Find Zekk and get him out of there. Alive or dead, she needed the closure, the finality of a body.

There was 1 X-Wing left, or so she hoped, as she scanned for it with her scopes. Nothing. Either it had been destroyed or captured. She screamed an incoherent scream of rage when continued searching brought up nothing, slamming her hands into the control panels and leaving hand prints in blood. She blinked. Blood. Why was she bleeding? She didn't recall having damaged her hands. She blinked again and found the blood had disappeared.

[i]Tahiri[/i]

She jerked. [i]Kyp?[/i]

[i]You were expecting someone else?[/i] Even through the Force his tone was sardonic. [i]You need to calm yourself, reach out and focus. Zekk is alive.[/i]

She nearly collapsed in her chair, unconsciously taking a deep breath, reassured by the Master's words. Zekk was alive. She closed her eyes, in the midst of an explosion, and forced herself to latch onto Kyp's Force signature. He was far away, racing towards her position at top speed. She opened her eyes, determination forcing the darkside back, focusing it consciously as she looked around her.

There was X-wing debris mixed with corral skipper, pieces of flak bouncing off the shields of the [i]Lightning Rod[/i] like tiny balls. She checked her systems, shocked to see a hull breech in the cargo compartment, the shields running at low power, near failing, and her weapons systems threatening to overload. She pulled back, scanning the horizons, and turning towards the only remaining threat.

The large ships of the fleet of Yuuzhan Vong were backing away, moving to a more tactical position, one of their smaller ships towing a heavily damaged X-Wing. She focused on it, surprised to find two lives in the cockpit, both signatures recognizable. [i]Kyp, I've found them![/i]

Kyp's response echoed through the Force. [i]I knew you could, kid. Now focus, we're going to have to get them into your loading bay and somehow get away.[/i]

[i]Can we help?[/i] It was Jaina.

Tahiri focused on the freighter as Kyp communicated their plan to the trapped Jedi. Alone they'd been unable to break free and escape, but with help, they just might pull it off. Slowly, the plan formed and Tahiri nodded in silent agreement. She understood. Turning the freighter slowly, she angled it to an intercept course and closed her eyes for a moment.

[i]Anakin, if you can hear me, help me. I need your strength.[/i]

There was a moment where it seemed that nothing would happen, and then, something did.

Tahiri felt her fingers begin to tingle, a feeling of familiarity settling over her as the light became almost corporeal. She swallowed the lump in her throat. Anakin. She felt the tears well up, blurring her vision as his familiar presence enveloped her, his strength suddenly imbuing her with energy.

For the first time since his death, she felt whole again. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she guided the [i]Lightning Rod[/i] along side the freighter holding Zekk and Jaina captive. She couldn't see it, but there was an aura surrounding the freighter, protecting it, as the Yuuzhan Vong threw everything they had at her. She came in closer, unable to see anything through her tears, and opened the cargo bay.

Someone in the X-Wing fired and guided the remaining two torpedoes directly at the strand holding them to the ship before rocketing off, directly into the cargo hold of the [i]Lightning Rod[/i]. And even as they accelerated, Tahiri hit the thrusters, knowing they'd come in to fast. Somehow, they matched speeds, Anakin's confidence in the cockpit lending her strength as they caught the errant X-Wing, Kyp's torpedoes delving directly into where it had once been before breaking off.

Tahiri never saw the Yuuzhan Vong captive ship explode, never saw it shatter under Kyp's onslaught. She closed her eyes and reached out to embrace the only presence to ever completely accept and comfort her. Yet, even as her hands flew over the panel, guiding them into the correct hyperspace jump coordinates, she could feel him beginning to withdraw.

[i]Don't go.[/i] Her mind reached for him without thinking.

She felt as if he stroked her cheek gently, could almost see his clear blue eyes in her mind's eye, and read their sadness. He couldn't stay. [i]I love you.[/i] his voice echoed softly in her mind. [i]Live, Tahiri, for me, for us. I'll always be with you.[/i]

She sobbed, reaching for him, but knowing she'd find nothing but air. And then he was gone. "No!" she screamed, her eyes flying open as the ship made the jump to hyperspace. "Anakin, no! I didn't get to tell you!"

She collapsed forward, her head bowed, tears soaking the front of her shirt. [i]I love you too.[/i]

Kyp bolted for the [i]Lightning Rod[/i] as it settled to the deck, the X-Wing in the cargo hold visible through the metal of the hull. Zekk appeared first, nearly falling to the deck as Jaina pushed him hastily forward. They were both disheveled, their clothing wrinkled and Jaina's hair was everywhere, but Kyp couldn't recall when she'd looked more beautiful.

"Jay."

She leapt at him, colliding mid-air as he reached to grab her, and was enfolded tightly in his arms. Their embrace was mashed, her arms not quite surrounding him and her legs askew, but neither cared. They simply held on as tightly as they could, thankful the other was alive.

Zekk watched as Kyp buried his face in Jaina's hair, catching the glimpse of tears as his eyes disappeared. He smiled. Jaina was very lucky to have a man like Kyp. He turned towards the cockpit of his ship, his smile disappearing. Tahiri had yet to appear. Curious, he started forward to find her.

Behind him, Jaina twisted in Kyp's embrace, turning so that she was more comfortably locked in his arms, her hands having found refuge in his hair. She turned to try and see his face, feeling the dampness on her cheek. "Kyp?"

He turned his face into the curve of her neck, taking a deep breath and inhaling her scent. "I love you, Jaina."

She almost didn't hear him as his muffled words were whispered against her throat. Her hands tightened, pulling his head up. "I love you too. I told you to get away."

His smile was wry. "We did. You didn't notice that we were almost too late to rescue you?"

She shook her head. "I knew you'd come. I knew you'd never leave me. You disobeyed me."

He didn't answer, except to kiss her fiercely, almost bruising. She didn't notice how tight she was being held until he let her go fractionally. She almost stumbled as her toes hit the tops of his boots. "Kyp?"

"We have an audience." he told her softly, blinking away the moisture from his eyes. He schooled his features, willing himself to appear in control as he lifted his gaze beyond the top of her head. Han and Leia were waiting for them, the rest of Jaina's Squadron behind them.

Jaina froze, sensing that familiar presence, and turned her head. "Mom. Dad."

The Twin Suns began to clap, the tension in the bay disappearing as Kyp reluctantly let her go, Leia and Han approaching quickly to envelope their only daughter in a bear hug. Leia let her go first, turning to look at Kyp. She extended her arms, meeting his gaze, and smiled a small smile of invitation.

Kyp felt a small shove from behind him as he took s step and hugged Leia gingerly. She smiled. "Thank you for bringing her back. I may not like the age difference, but I have no doubts as to your feelings for her. Treat her well, Kyp."

Kyp almost fell over in stunned shock as Leia let him go and turned to her husband. He stared as Leia pulled her husband away from his fiancée and Jaina stepped back to his side. She curled her arms around his middle and turned them away. The Twin Suns dispersed, Han and Leia following, Han giving his daughter a wink as they did.

Kyp felt as if he'd been sucker punched. "Did your mother just say what I thought she said?"

Jaina laughed, the tension of their separation draining away as she grabbed him by the back of the neck and kissed him lingeringly. "She did. Nice to be accepted, isn't it?"

He nodded cautiously before scooping her up in his arms and twirling her around once. He placed her back on her feet, facing the opposite way. Zekk and Tahiri stood watching them, a smile on each their faces. Zekk's arm was around Tahiri's shoulders.

Jaina's eyes met Tahiri's. "You did it, didn't you?"

Tahiri nodded, the sadness having lifted partially from her eyes. There would always be a shadow, however, she was now thinking and seeing clearly. All of the Jedi could feel it. "Anakin helped me."

Jaina opened one arm to the younger girl and Tahiri fairly leapt at her. "I'm sorry for being cruel, Jaina." she said softly, and I'm sorry for the things I said to you. I know now that you were only trying to help."

Jaina squeezed her tightly. "That's what friends do."

Tahiri turned to look at both her and Kyp. "Thank you. Both of you."

Kyp ruffled her hair before knocking her gently under the chin. "Anytime, kid. We're here for you if you want to stay."

She looked back at Zekk and stepped away. "I would, but Zekk had asked me to help with the [i]Lightning Rod[/i]. I think I need to as part of my healing process. Thanks for the offer; for everything."

Jaina and Kyp watched as she walked back to Zekk and the two of them turned to start on the freighter's repairs. Exhausted, hungry, but refreshed in a way only healing can bring. Kyp turned Jaina away from the two young friends and picked her up in his arms. Her hands went around his neck, her head to his shoulder. She didn't care what people would say.

Kyp carried her through the halls without a word, only the occasional kiss on the forehead as he reached her door. She opened it and he stepped inside, heading straight for the washroom. Jaina turned to look as he set her down on the floor, her gaze searching his as he carefully undressed her, removing her clothing one item at a time.

An amused half-smile crossed her lips as he knelt and removed her boots, throwing them away haphazardly. She opened her mouth to object, but the look he shot her had it snapping shut again. He was going to baby her.

She didn't protest as she was placed in the fresher, the water turned on to a soothingly hot. She closed her eyes, leaning forward to place her forehead on the wall. She could hear Kyp rustling around over the sound of the water. Yet when his hands slid around her waist and his lips to the back of her neck, she was shocked. And Kyp closed the door with a thought.

Later, they lay curled together on Jaina's bed, Kyp stroking her cheek gently, Jaina smiled. "Can you believe it?"

"Believe what?"

She shrugged. "This. Me and You. We've managed to succeed, Kyp. We came through this together."

"Did you ever doubt we would?"

"Once."

"When?"

She pushed herself up on her elbow. "When I was stuck in the cockpit with Zekk staring down a Yuuzhan Vong fleet. I didn't know Tahiri would reach Anakin, or that you would act like an avenger of old. I love you Kyp. Your strength and your weakness. You complete me."

He gently pushed her hair out of her eyes. "I couldn't have said it better myself, Goddess." He pulled her down, kissing her softly before tucking her tightly against his body and closing his eyes.

They'd made it past one of the hardest obstacles, conquered their toughest trials, and succeeded where others might have failed. And they still had each other.

Jaina smiled, closing her eyes, and dreamed.

Fin.

***********

And that's it, wow, I finally finished it! *chuckles* Yahooo!!!

Ok, now, I'd like to thank DantanaSkywalker for being my Beta, yet again, because without her I couldn't give ya'll this story. So a huge thank you to her.

Secondly, I'd like to thank you, my readers, for being wonderful and keeping with me through all of the computer problems I've been having. Hopefully I made it worth your while to stick around.

Thank you again to everyone who's been reading my story, you are all wonderful for keeping me motivated.

e-mail is always appreciated Jademax@hotmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

Jade_Max