May 2006

Disclaimer: Star Wars is property of George Lucas.

Title: Reckoning

Author: JadeMax

Timeframe: Post Thrawn Trilogy, YJK AU - sequel to "Runaway"

Character: The Runaway ;)

Keywords: Angst, short story.

Summary: Some people will go to extraordinary lengths to hide their past - even when it catches up with them.

Notes: You may want to read Runaway before you read this or it may not make sense (Both are short)

Reckoning

Introduction

I don't know why I thought I'd gotten away free and clear. Maybe it was because the next years of my life were so chaotically wonderful.

The spacer that took me in never pressed about my past. I think he believed me when I told him I lost my family in a mud slide on the unstable planet. Hell, I believed myself. I'd lost my brother, my mother and my father - adopted though I might have been - the morning that mud entombed them alive.

I remember the spacer making a point of letting me know when their bodies had been recovered. I cried for days, unable to believe they were gone. And yet, a part of me believed that my past was just that. Past. Gone. I only cried that one last time and then I locked it away, burying the pain inside.

I knew I was doing it, but I couldn't help it. I'd learned, well before meeting them, that I couldn't show weakness. My biological parents had taught me that. Showing weakness was a good way to be preyed upon, a good way to be taken advantage of.

I was taken to Coruscant, and while the spacer didn't have much, he shared what he did have.

I admit I really didn't trust him. Not at first. He was nice, fair, but I kept expecting to feel the back of his hand. I was insolent, wild and I disliked authority. Who can blame me when I came from the background I did?

He didn't. The spacer never lost faith in me. When I stole, he didn't hit me. He simply made me own up to it, do the time or paid my fines and made me have to pay him back. He taught me to take responsibility for my actions. He encouraged me to be better than I was, to have a sense of self worth.

Ok, so I didn't have much of a sense of self-worth, but it was better than what I started with.

I learned to put my scrounging skills to good use and found that the under levels of Coruscant were packed with a myriad of old things that people had discarded. Some of them were worth quite a bit; if you had the skills to get to them.

And I did. I was very agile, something that would serve me well in later years, and I was able to locate and remove things that others simply had no way of getting to.

I didn't know, at the time anyway, why I was able to do these things that other children couldn't. I didn't understand why I seemed to have all the luck. I was always faster, more cunning; I was usually on the upper hand.

Later, after meeting friends who would change the direction of my life yet again, I would find out I was Force Sensitive.

These friends were children of an influential family that I had heard much about on my journey to Coruscant and in my time as a vent crawler. Their parents were war heroes, credited with helping bring down the Empire and restoring peace and unity to the galaxy. Their parents were credited with helping thwart Grand Admiral Thrawn.

These friends were the Solo twins.

The Solos were different from any other children I had met in the under city. They were privileged, well fed, generous. They were naive of the ways of crooks and swindlers. They had no knowledge about the dangers of the city.

I'd encountered them, quite by chance, stumbling around looking for a part that "Jaya" needed for rewiring something. They were only nine at the time. Impetuous and head strong.

Jaina was obviously the leader. After that first night when I led them back home, narrowly avoiding two separate gangs and two sets of patrols, we spent many days together. Jacen loved his animals, something I never really understood. Animals are for eating; they're very tasty. The skins usually fetch a good price too, if you know who to take them to.

But I guess everyone has to have a hobby.

I was with the twins almost daily until the year they began attending some Jedi college with their Uncle. I admit I was jealous. I was also more than a little hurt that they could just up and leave me with a simple "see you next month".

I was sixteen by the time the twins began attending their college, and I freely admit to having had a major crush on Jaina. A crush, that when we were separated, never really dwindled. In fact, the more I look back, the more I realize that what I felt was probably the first stirrings of love.

Having come from where I had, I don't think I ever would have been able to recognize it until now. For me it was simply that she was the most beautifully talented and considerate person I'd ever met. She was my hero and I wanted to make her proud of me.

It was in the times that they returned to see me that I realized exactly how important one person could become to someone else. I cherished her smiles, her laughter. I cherished my time with her and I tried to impress her in my own way.

I knew I'd never be able to do it on her terms, so I did it on mine. I found the most outrageous and dangerous finds in the under city and then proudly showed them off as if I'd put them there for her pleasure.

They left me again. And it was in this time that I was taken by the Shadow Academy and was told that I had the abilities that I was so envious of in them. I was told I had the potential to become a great Force User.

A Sith.

I suppose with all my issues, it would have been bound to happen eventually, but the academy gave me a channel for my rage. It gave me an outlet to express the deepest, darkest parts of my soul that had been hidden for years.

It gave me the chance for revenge.

Only, I took that revenge out on the people, the person, I cared about most. I've been ashamed ever since and I often wonder why Jaina still hangs around me.

Peckhum, the spacer that took me in, once told me that she does it because she believes in me. How can she believe in me when I don't even believe in myself?

Maybe it's a girl thing.

I can't help but wonder. When I tell her the truth about my past, the truth that I'm not who she thinks I am, but a runaway who didn't have the courage to face down his own father, what will she say? Will she still have the open compassion and acceptance that's so characteristic of her?

Or will her compassion turn to disgust? Will I, yet again, lose everything that has become important in my life?

You'll notice I said when, not if. Because I know now that if I truly care for Jaina, even if I don't really understand why, she deserves to know the truth about me.

She deserves to know that I'm not an orphan. I'm not from Ennth. That my real name isn't Zekk.