There was no body to burn.
As Jaina Solo had taken her last breath, her body began to disappear, finally fading from sight in less than a second. The hand which Kyp Durron had been holding seemed to melt away as he could no longer feel it. Across from him, Davin Fel stared dumbly where his mother had been.
Kyp hung his head, trying to regain control of his emotions. She was gone. The woman who had been his stalwart partner for the majority of their lives was dead. He hadn't been able to protect her, as she had protected him so many times. Another true friend gone. Just like his wife.
He looked up slightly to see his son, Miko, cradling Ani Fel in his arms. The petite healer no longer cried but lay quietly in his lap, her eyes fixed where her mother had lain. Where the healer had been unable to do anything. This was the first time that Ani had truly lost a battle with death and it was hitting her hard.
Beside Kyp, Han helped Leia to her feet. The former princess had aged gracefully, though now most of her hair was grey like Han's. She looked terribly weak as she allowed Han to lead her away, back to the Falcon. They would return to Calamari to see their last remaining child and to mourn their only daughter. They would not be alone. Jaina had touched the lives of hundreds in her life, bringing hope and strength to them all. She was one of the greatest pilots of her time, because of her (and Kyp) Twin Suns now shared the kind of glory that Rogue Squadron enjoyed.
She had been Kyp's best friend. No matter the lie, she had been a Goddess in his eyes. Though she had never truly told him, Kyp had an inkling of the sadness in her life. He had understood, later, when she would look off into the stars, looking for someone. She had helped him when Saren had died, ripped from him in a senseless attack.
Saren's son looked towards his father and with a few whispered words to his fiancee, left her in her brother's arms. Miko crossed towards his father, but avoided where Jaina had been. He draped an arm around Kyp's shoulders, speaking very softly.
"Just let it out, Dad."
Those simple, comforting words allowed Kyp Durron to truly start grieving again. And remember....
She had never asked for a Knight in Shining Armour to rescue her, she had given him a kick in the kneecaps for his trouble. She had challenged him every step of the way but finally, she had kissed him first. She was the beginning and end of his universe, until she had given him a son. Until he held her cold body in his arms. Her name was Saren el'Kalli and she was his wife and Kyp had loved her with his entire being.
Night had fallen over the planet and Kyp strolled slowly through the streets. He was leading a wing of pilots out to the Outer Rim, to investigate some odd sensor readings that had been picked up. They looked rather like Vong readings, and they were going out there to ensure that those coralskippers didn't survive much longer.
He had left the two other pilots guarding the ships which he walked. Commander's prerogative. Kyp grinned slightly as he spotted a tap café up the block.
He pushed the swinging door open and immediately stepped back into the street. The stench was unbearable and unmistakable. But he gritted his teeth and stepped back in, trying to ignore the smell that permeated. Anything was worth a decent glass of whiskey.
The stench hung in the air along with the smoke, but Kyp pushed his way through the crowd towards the bar. He nodded to the bartender and ordered in Huttese, "Bo yocola, whiskey." Give me a drink, whiskey. The planet was on the edge of Hutt space and sure enough his whiskey came soon enough.
"Koboba soon ah." Sixteen credits, the burly bartender growled at him.
Kyp smacked the glass down on the bar, "Ees hoppoda nopa!" I'm not paying that!
The bartender leaned heavily upon the bar, and leaned in close to Kyp's face, sharing his halitosis. His voice was low and not exactly friendly. His eyes had gone straight to Kyp's lightsabre, hanging at his belt. "Koboba soon ah, Jeedai."
Kyp quirked a smile. "Koboba? Ooooh - I thought you said donocha! My mistake..." he chuckled weakly and slid the credits across the bar. If there was one thing that Kyp had learned in the course of his life, it was never to anger a Toydarian bartender with muscles as thick as Kyp's waist. He drank the rest of the whiskey in peace then slipped out once the bartender had turned his back.
Kyp began to stroll along the darkened street, breathing in the clean air. The stars above twinkled and the evening would have been perfect if he hadn't been all alone. He could go and spend the evening with his pilots, except that they were green recruits, still very much in awe of 'Master Durron'. Both were quite convinced that he would blow up another star if he so much as raised his voice. Kyp swore softly, kicking a discarded metal bit in his path. He didn't mind taking these missions and he didn't have much choice now that Jaina was on maternity leave. She was now six months pregnant, and her husband had strictly prohibited her from any missions until at least after the birth. Kyp had seen her bite her lip when Jag had delivered that ultimatum and had been shocked when Jaina hadn't fought back. Something had happened to his best friend and partner, something which had tapped her spirit. Kyp hated being away from her, when he knew she needed him.
Need. The only woman in his life who needed him was his married partner. Kyp had long ago accepted that he and Jaina had never been meant to be together, yet his inability to find a woman with whom he could build a relationship with rankled. He was 42 years old and his deepest relationships had been brief flings and his friendships with women. It had only been once Jaina had become pregnant that he had realized that he wanted children, a family.... a wife.
Of course, in Kyp's line of work you didn't meet many available women. They were either hardened warriors or politicians he wanted to throttle.
He continued to let himself brood and only when he nearly walked into one of the walls that surrounded the small city did he realize that he had been walking all this time. He swore, turning around, and began to make his way back to the landing centre.
It was then that he heard the muffled yell and the crunch of bones hitting a wall. He twisted around, looking... there. A small alleyway lay a few feet away. He stepped towards it quietly, brushing aside his cape and reaching for his lightsabre. His hand closed around the cool and comforting metal. He lit it as he charged in.
A man held a woman with long raven hair which obscured her face in a headlock.
At the noise of the sabre, the man looked up, horror on his face. "Jedi!"
The woman struggled slightly. "Jedi - " she gasped, her voice sounding hopeful though muffled.
Kyp looked at the man steadily. "You don't want to hurt her," he spoke softly.
The man's eyes glazed. "I don't... wait - yes I do! She has my - " he was cut off by the swift uppercut Kyp delivered to his jaw. He fell back, letting the woman go and Kyp pushed forward. He aimed a swift kick at the man's feet and his opponent tripped trying to evade it. He fell, face forward to the ground. Kyp was on top of him and with a quick move, the man lay unconscious.
Kyp looked down at his hands and sighed when he saw the dirt there, wiping his hands on the man's tunic before rising. He turned around and saw the woman hunched on the ground.
He moved to her, placing his arms on her shoulders. "I'm sorry about that - are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she spoke softly. "But you won't be." She jumped from her knees to her feet and lashed out a kick to Kyp's kneecaps. He doubled over in pain, but not before he grabbed her wrist as she began to run, pulling her back to the ground. The struggled with another, as she tried to get a knee in to really attack Kyp but his greater strength overpowered her and he finally pinned her to the ground.
"What the hell was that?" he demanded, his green eyes angry as she turned her face back and forth. "Stop that!"
She froze, slowly turning her head to look up at him. Kyp's breath caught. She was gorgeous.
She spit at him.
He didn't know it then, but years later, Kyp was able to point to that as the moment he fell in love.
A light use of the Force and the bit of moisture fell back to her face. Kyp swore. "I was trying to rescue you!"
Her black eyes narrowed in consternation. "I don't need to be rescued!" She tried to rise but Kyp kept her down.
"Oh really, well you looked like you did to me. Or is being in a headlock, about to have your neck snapped you idea of being okay?" She tried to move a leg under him, most likely to try again to knee him in the groin. "Ah ah - I don't think so. What happened?"
She averted her eyes. "He attacked me."
Kyp looked at her and sighed. "Don't even try to lie to a Jedi Master, it really doesn't work." He looked closer, examining her surface thoughts. "You attacked him. Tried to rob him."
"So?" she shot back. "I have to try and earn a living somehow - the need for fighter pilots isn't exactly what it used to be, since you Jedi saved the galaxy by beating the Vong? Did you ever think that some people's livelihoods might depend on war?"
Kyp pulled back slightly. "You're a pilot."
"Yeah, what's it to you?" her expression was sullen, her full lips slightly pouty. Kyp tried to ignore how attractive she was.
"I'm looking for a pilot." he told her simply. "I'm a pilot, the second in command in a squadron. My commander is on maternity leave... I need a pilot."
Saren stopped shifting under him and gave him a long look. "Are you serious?" Kyp noticed the hope in her voice.
"I only take on pilots who agree not to commit felonies... unless I tell them not to of course." Kyp gave her a grin which had disarmed many women in his time.
She was no exception, dropping her eyelids over her big, almond shaped eyes. But her better sense got a hold of her. "The pay's good?"
Kyp chuckled. "Yeah, it's good. Twin Suns did far too well in the war for the government not to pay us well."
She stiffened. "Twin Suns... That's a good squadron."
Kyp smiled. "Of course it is. I wouldn't join a bad one. " He rose up onto his knees. "You in?"
"I don't have a ship," she demurred.
Kyp shrugged. "We've always got a couple extra X-Wings." He extended his hand. "So - are you in?"
The hand she laid in his was hesitant but the answering look of challenge in her eyes was not. "Why not." Kyp helped her to her feet and gallantly motioned for her to pass him by. She brushed off her skirt, the short black material short on her long, lean legs. She swung her hips slightly as she walked by him, elbowing him hard in the stomach as she passed.
"That -" she threw over her shoulder, "Was for making me lose a easy job. Now come on - I've been on this rock for far too long."
Kyp grinned and bore it silently as he followed behind her, already brewing a way to get her back. Life with this woman would most certainly be interesting.
She obviously knew where the flight field was, even though Kyp did not. So he allowed her to go ahead of him, leaving him to watch her.
She moved like a cat, a slight swing to her hips that was less about grace and more about the affect she knew it would have on men. She watched her surroundings constantly, a hallmark of both a thief and a pilot.
She obviously knew the town and they got back to the field in short time. Kyp then moved ahead of her, scanning around for the pilots accompanying them. When he found them his mouth tightened and he picked up the pace.
"Just what in Sith are you doing?" he spat as he came into hearing range. They scrambled to their feet, or at least tried to.
The younger man, Steafel stumbled as he rose. He laughed as he fell to his feet, his partner laughing with him. They were drunk. Kyp rolled his eyes as Steafel looked up.
"Uh... Commander - we, uh - didn't expect you ba... ck so soon!" he got out amid laughter. He didn't notice that Kyp was obviously not amused.
"You're drunk," Kyp sighed.
"No! Uh.... yeah." More laughter ensued.
Kyp glanced back at Saren who was watching this with a quiet look of calm. "Well then, I guess one of you will have to lend Lieutenant... uh...."
"el'Kalli," she prompted smoothly before her eyes widened. "Lieutenant?"
"Yeah," Kyp responded. "What's the fun of being in command of a squadron for a few months if you can't spontaneously give people ranks." He turned back to the two others. "I guess the Lieutenant and I will make the journey back alone."
He tried to ignore the fact that he was rather nervous at spending a few days alone in space with this woman.
Behind him, Saren looked down. Why was she so nervous at spending a few days alone in space with this man?
Saren el'Kalli had never been one to accumulate wealth in material goods. So, when the Jedi (whose name she had just realized she didn't know) had instructed her to bring all her worldly goods, they had fit into one singular carryall.
He had raised one singular eyebrow over an emerald eye when he saw her coming. He was sitting cross-legged on a huge storage barrel. "That's it?"
"That's it," she replied.
He dropped down with a grace she would have admired if he wasn't a Jedi. "Funny, my partner usually can't go for a day trip without three cases. And she's pretty unique for a woman."
Saren bristled. "Well, maybe she's not as unique as you'd think."
He grinned slightly. "Maybe. Come on." He led her up the ramp of the ship she had spotted before.
Saren tried not to be impressed but couldn't help it. The ship was like something out of her dreams. It looked brand new, with black panelling along it's walls.
He stopped as he realized she wasn't following him. "You like?" he asked, a handsome smile on his face.
Saren glanced away. "Yeah, uh... I like. Is it yours?"
He nodded, "Yeah. When the war ended, the government owed me about five years backpay. So I bought this baby." he ran a loving hand over it's panelling. "I'll show you the cockpit."
Saren dropped her bag in a central living area they passed through, then followed him to the cockpit. She couldn't keep the delighted look off her face. It was a top of the line model. "Is that a 7.9 Triest Engine?" she asked, moving towards the dash.
He sunk down into a black leather seat, swinging an arm over the leg. "I wouldn't buy anything less."
She sat down, running her hands over the controls before she remembered something and turned to give him a piercing look. "I don't know your name."
"Did this just occur to you or do you make it a practise to join strange men's squadrons?" he asked with an arrogant look.
Saren crossed her arms. "Answer the question, Jedi."
He sat forward. "But that's part of my name..."
She rolled her eyes and he chuckled.
"Fine. Ruin my fun." He extended a hand and she took it. "Jedi Master Kyp Durron."
Saren froze. "Durron?"
His smile became more hesitant, more hard. "Yeah." He leaned back into his seat, his handsome face now shuttered. "You got a problem with me?"
Saren looked away. "No. Yes. Maybe, I don't know." Images of wrecked star systems floated in her mind. She was sitting next to the Murderer of Carida.... suddenly she remembered the Jedi ability to read minds and pushed the thought away.
"We can only read thoughts if they're being [b]shouted[/b] at us," he spoke in clipped tones. "And the past is the past, you don't see me judging you for trying to rob people."
Saren looked down, shaking her head, suddenly feeling ashamed of herself. She was no virginal child herself. She looked back up, seeking the warmth of his eyes that had reassured her before. Now, his green eyes were cold. "I'm - uh, sorry. I didn't mean to react like that. You're just notorious, that's all. Never expected for Kyp Durron to 'rescue' me on a backwater like this, I thought Jedi had better things to do with their time."
"Not when we're dumb enough to join the military we don't." a ghost of a smile came across his lips and a slight warmth returned.
She reached out to touch his hand, ignoring the shiver that ran down her back when her warm fingers touched his cold palm. "It must be hard to have people react like that always, I didn't mean..."
He cut her off gently, squeezing her hand. "I know. Don't worry about it. Just don't think of me like that."
She shook her head. "I don't."
Kyp smiled, the smile coming through his eyes. "I know. Thanks." They looked at each other for a long moment, until the moment had stretched into half a minute.
Saren looked away quickly and Kyp coughed, turning to start the pre-flight check with great concentration. "Why - uh, don't we get going?"
Saren pulled the co-pilot chair up to the console, catching Kyp looking out of the corner of her eye. "Let's go."
The ship spiralled out of the atmosphere as they began their journey together. They had no idea how long it would be.
Kyp left her to her own devices once the ship had hit hyperspace, excusing himself to shower, leaving Saren alone in the cockpit. She curled up in the large leather seat, knees pulled up to her chin and thought about the last day.
Less than twelve hours ago, Saren had been a petty thief. She would pose as a prostitute, lure men to a deserted alley and relieve them - just not in the way they had been expecting, as she relieved them of their wallets. She had never had anyone fight her as the man had last night. She could defend herself, but Saren had to admit that the man had her beat. She shivered slightly, not wanting to think what might have happened if Kyp had wandered along.
She sighed when thinking of Kyp. He had rescued her, yet Saren did not want to be indebted to him. Even if she probably was in a dangerous position, she didn't like the idea of needing to be rescued. She had been on her own since she was 16, preferred to be alone. What right did he to try and rescue her?
Saren rose, deciding to go and have a chat with Durron, give him a piece of her mind. She moved through the ship, listening for sounds of activity. Then - she heard a thump of movement from a room to her left. She strode to her, her mood dark and punched the button for the door open.
Framing a very naked Kyp Durron who jumped once the door opened, dropping the towel he was using to dry himself.
The angry words that had been waiting at the tip of Saren's tongue dried as she stared. She honestly tried not to, but she couldn't help it.
Kyp grabbed at the towel, pulling it up to cover himself. "Can I help you?!"
"I - uh... came to yell at you!" Saren stammered.
"Oh really -for what?" Kyp asked her bitingly.
"For rescuing me!" Saren bit back.
Kyp nearly dropped the towel again - he couldn't believe it. "WHAT?!"
Saren crossed her arm, valiantly trying to keep her eyes on his face, not on his perfectly defined... She shook her head. "I did not give you permission to rescue me, and for you to take that liberty..."
Kyp leaned against the door, holding tightly to his towel. "Liberty? For Sith's sake - you could have been killed!"
"I don't need your help!" Saren hissed.
He looked around. "Well considering you're on my ship, I think you're kind of stuck with me. Or - the nearest airlock is that away." He jerked his thumb to the right and leaned towards her. "Now, I'm naked and you're an ungrateful bitch. Can we please continue this later!?"
"Fine," Saren snapped, turning on her heel. Trying to shake the image of a naked Kyp out of her mind - though not with much effort. It was, after all, a very nice image.