"And don't touch her..."

The General peered across the table to Gadell Vessau, who had just told him not to touch her.

Jacen Solo was supposed to be bodyguarding Tenel Ka, starting today, because of some threat to the Palace but he couldn't touch her. He couldn't remember what the threat was because he wasn't really listening at that point - he had been thinking about being able to spend all that time with Tenel Ka... but all that time and no touching.

A scowl twisted Jacen's face up, causing Gadell to lean back with a smirk playing over his thin Hapan lips. "I know it'll be hard, Solo." Nodding, he continued. "I know how you feel about her. I know how she feels about you."

Jacen returned the man's nod with one of his own, slow and understanding, albeit a little peeved.

"It's quite taboo to have a bodyguard and the woman he's bodyguarding slapping their hands all over each other and smacking lips everywhere, yes?" Gadell didn't wait for an answer. "Especially on Hapes."

"Why not get one of the guards to do it then or something?"

"Because none of the guards are Jedi."

"You're a Jedi."

"You know I'm not." Tucking a strand of ebony hair behind his ear, Gadell began tracing a gloved finger across the tabletop. "Sure I have the Force. But I haven't finished training yet. You know that."

Jacen did know that. He knew that perfectly well, but for some reason, at that moment in time, he didn't think he could handle this job. Being around Tenel Ka all hours of the day, morning, afternoon, night. Watching her work, watching her sleep, watching her live, keeping an eye on her every movement - and not touching her?

No tap on the shoulder? No hug goodnight? No nothing? Not even when they were alone?

Jacen thought maybe Gadell was just playing, so he asked just one more time. "I can't touch her at all?"

Gadell shook his head.

"What if she touches me?"

"She won't. She knows you're her bodyguard and she can't."

Running over it in his mind, Jacen suddenly felt quite confident about the whole thing. "I can manage that." With a curt nod, he leaned forward in his seat.

Mirroring his movements, Gadell leaned forward in his own, "No, you can't."

"Sure I can, Gadell. Come on, you have no faith in me?"

"I bet you one-hundred credits you'll touch her."

Jacen heard those words and instantly shoved his hand out over the table, Gadell grabbing it and shaking it a few seconds later. "I won't lay a finger on her."

Gadell's eyes narrowed, his lips twisting into that smarmy snicker that Jacen was quite sure was the man's normal expression. "You won't lay anything on her."

"One-hundred credits, Gadell? You do not think that that might be a bit much?"

"Majesty, majesty - Tenna, come now. You have no faith in Jacen Solo? The way he was talking, I'll owe him that one-hundred."

Hearing her Commander's voice just then... it had that tone... that tone. The mischievious "oh-no-Gadell-is-up-to-something-again" tone. The Queen Mother looked up from where she stood over her desk, over her stacks of flimsiplast and arched a copper eyebrow. "What are you planning?"

Vessau's eyes seemed to widen, getting all large and innocent. "Would you like to help your dear Commander?"

The eyebrow continued to stick in that disbelieving arch. "I do not know. Do I?"

"Yesssss." Sliding out of the chair he had seated himself in, he sauntered over to Tenel Ka and stood behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. Gadell leaned forward and lowered his head a little, hissing in her ear. "Get close to him, rile him up, make him want to touch you."

"So you want me to tease Jacen Solo. Basically that is what you are saying, Gadell," her tone a bit shocked, she twisted her head to look at him.

He nodded quickly, a pearly grin breaking out over his face.

"You are horrible." Tenel Ka shook her head and peered back down to her work.

"Awww..." Moving his hands, Gadell dropped his forehead onto her shoulder and began to pout.

"But alright."

Gadell snapped his head back, that grin apparent again. "What made you agree?"

Her gray eyes locked with his soft blue gaze, both sets narrowing. "Do you really want to know, Commander?"

He nodded like a Corellian accepting another ale.

"He has not had a good teasing in awhile. I am bored out of my mind with the same thing everyday."

Throwing his head back and pushing away from the Queen Mother, Gadell cackled loudly, his laughter echoing through the chamber and seeping out into the hallway.

Jacen Solo was passing the door at that point, running through a couple calming techniques before he had to report for duty.

And he recognized that laugh from anywhere.


Suddenly Jacen had a very bad feeling about that bet.

He felt his fingers graze a sheath of silk that was thrown over the Queen Mother's shoulder. They stopped and pulled back quickly once the owner of them realized what he had almost done.

Blown the whole thing just about. Good one, Jacen.

"Jacen Solo, reporting for duty, Your Highness."

He put on his half-grin as the Queen Mother turned around, her gray eyes seemingly a bit brighter than usual. "Jacen. It was very kind of you to take this job." She leaned back against the desk she was standing in front of and glanced over him, up and down, her eyes lingering in certain spots. "I told the Council I needed no bodyguard. But you know how they are."

Keeping that grin smacked on his face Jacen tore his eyes from Tenel Ka and glanced over the desk - to a man, black hair pulled back, wide blue eyes. He had a smirk on his face.

That week was hilarious. Tenel Ka did a beautiful job - I know it was torture for her too though. I could tell as I watched them around each other.

I would see her reach out to hand him something, or pass him something and she would make sure her hand got as close to him as possible. It was moments like those when Jacen would get those big, sad eyes of his.

I'll give the man credit; he was trying to be cool about it. But he's a good friend of mine, as well as Tenel Ka's obviously, we know him. And we know it was stabbing him in the foot everytime she got close.

(Which was priceless, I might add.)

My favorite instances included:

- Him trying to catch a datapad I tossed and him having to lean over where Tenel Ka was seated. He sucked his stomach in and held his breath, almost falling out of his seat just so he wouldn't come in contact with any part of her.

- Then there was when he tripped off the dais in the throne room because Tenel Ka tried to reach out to pull a piece of flimsiplast out of his hand. The noise he made when he hit the floor... again, priceless.

- I can't forget my favorite. When Tenel Ka was getting dressed for a political banquet fancy (annoying) thing the other night and she couldn't tie the laces in the back of her dress. It was a gorgeous dress - her back was pretty much bare except for those laces that stretched across it. I picked it out because I knew it would torment Jacen some more. (I know... I'm horrible.)

"Jacen, could you help me tie this?"

"No." His answer was flat out, monotone. I couldn't help but stifle a giggle.

She had twisted her neck around to look at him, "Why not?"

I just stood there grinning ear-to-ear. Tenel Ka knew full well about the bet, Jacen had no idea she knew though. Him stammering out an excuse was the best.

"I uh... I was outside studying... the wildlife earlier this afternoon. My... my hands are dirty."

"That damn crystal snake again." I had to interject with that. I just had to. "Hisssssss."

Tenel Ka even held back a laugh as I stepped over to her, tracing my fingers up and down her back. "My hands are clean, Majesty. I'll tie it for you." And you know as I did that, I glared at Jacen; biting my lip and grinning, getting as close to her as possible.

I could practically see the steam drifting up from his head. And I only had one word for it.


The sixth night proved tiring as Jacen's job went from watching to acting. He had seen an assailant entering the Palace from the kitchen entrance and followed them all the way to the dining hall, where Tenel Ka was seated alone, absently picking at her cold dinner. The assailant, a flexible young woman, was inches away from grabbing the Queen Mother when Solo stopped them. Jacen and Tenel Ka found out it was some second cousin, however many times removed trying to get to the throne. Who knows for what... but she was put in interrogation, which left Jacen and Tenel Ka alone once more. Gadell was busy in the Palace cells, toying with the relative.

It was quiet in her chambers as she stood behind the dressing screen, kicking off the confines of the gown she had been in all day. Slipping a nightgown over her, she shook her head a bit and emerged, her eyes instantly locking on a restless Jacen Solo standing in the middle of her quarters.

He stood tall, with his hands clasped behind his head, fingers laced together, knuckles turning white. His hair was mussed, his eyes tired, his body rigid. He could feel his adrenaline pumping, his blood pumping... and all she was doing was standing there looking up at him. His hands were trying to tear themselves away from where he was holding them, to grab her, hold her, feel her...

"I saved your life." His breathing was heavy. Very heavy.

She could feel the warm air across her cheeks as she nodded slowly, "You did." She could see him struggling to keep his cool, his jaw set, his chest steadily heaving up and down. "Do you expect something for it?"

His head moved up and down slowly but surely.

"Like what?"

Jacen's voice came out in a whisper, a sigh even. It was like a breath he'd been holding for what seemed like forever. "Let me touch you."

Her eyes seemed to widen a little at his blunt request. "What about your bet?"

"Gadell's not here, he won't know. No one's here..." His stiff posture was suddenly conquered by his playful nature as he crossed his arms over his chest. A whisper slipped through his half-grin, "No one will know."

Tenel Ka could easily admit to herself that the last few days were the definition of the nine Corellian Hells on her. She was so close to Jacen, yet there could be no contact. And she wanted nothing more at this point then to feel his hands on her, feel his lips on her even... not just his eyes.

She returned his words, her voice softer than his. "Then the bet is off. It will be off for one standard hour. But no telling Gadell." With the slightest hint of a grin, she moved her right hand up to him and placed her pointer finger over his lips, where she gently pressed against them.

Just the slight contact sent Jacen over the edge. His hands shot out to her sides where they stayed as he pushed her backwards towards the wall. Her back met with the cool stone and was pressed up against it as Jacen held her there, covering her mouth with his. His fingers had no idea where to roam to, since they had been away from her for so long. Even something inane, like tapping her to get her attention or grabbing her wrist to lead her somewhere - even things like that would've tided him over. But with nothing, and now everything... his mind seemed to explode.

Solo noticed that she seemed to feel the same way, as her right hand met with the back of his neck, her fingers splayed out in his disheveled mass of hair, their grip tightening and then going slack again. He could feel the heat radiating off of her, the way she would tense up when his hands ran over certain areas on her body. It drove him absolutely mad.

Tearing his lips away from hers, he pressed himself against her, planting his palms on the wall near her hips. Letting his chin hover over her shoulder, he placed his mouth mere centimeters away from her ear.

"We have fifty-seven standard minutes left, Your Ladyship."

She turned her head only slightly, her lips drifting across Jacen's ear, "Well then let us make the most of those fifty-seven minutes, Jacen."

Jacen felt one of the buckles on the front of his shirt get tugged open and when he pulled back and looked down, he noticed Tenel Ka fiddling with them. Glancing up to her face, the Solo grin apparent on his own, he could only see a spark of mischief dancing in her gaze.

Something between a purr and a growl escaped Jacen's lips as he wrapped his fingers around her wrist and pulled her towards the bed, she followed his lead and crawled onto it after he let go, sitting up on her knees, peering up to him.

"Fifty-six minutes." He stated, finishing the buckles of his shirt. As he pulled it off, he threw it on the ground and slid onto the bed in front of her.

Tenel Ka stared at him for a moment before reclining back onto the heap of pillows at the head of the bed, her eyes still locked on his own.

All he could do was watch her, even though his hands were still itching to run over the skin under her nightgown.

"Fifty-five." Her left eyebrow arched. "The chrono is ticking, Solo."

Crawling over her, he used one hand to steady himself as the other met with her neck, running down to the ties at the front of her nightgown.

Jacen Solo wasted no time then, and for the next fifty-five standard minutes he didn't take his hands off of her once.

"I shall return in a moment, I have to go retrieve one of the datapads from the officers." Tenel Ka turned away from the General and the Commander, vanishing into the offices behind the hall they where they currently stood.

It was a casual sort of day, all the windows of the Palace were open, a breeze drifting through the halls. The Queen was wearing a thin pale green dress and a pair of worn-out sandals. She seemed calm, collected... satisfied for some reason.

The Commander noticed the state of satisfaction instantly.

Gadell Vessau stood in his baggy pants, on bare feet, with his arms behind his back. He had on a black jacket, which hung open revealing a pale yet surprisingly toned set of muscles. Flipping his shoulder-length hair, he hunched over a bit, peering to his left, where Jacen Solo stood.

And noticing something, that smirk of his appeared.

"You owe me one hundred credits, Solo, darling."

"What?!" Jacen snapped out of his trance and glared to Gadell, crossing his arms over his chest. He was wearing pants similar to Gadell's the style comfortable and perfect to wear to bed - neither man had changed since they woke up. His black shirt was a bit tight on him and had no sleeves - which was perfect, and pretty much won Gadell one-hundred credits.

"Jacen..." Stepping over to him, Gadell slipped behind him and brought his hands up to Jacen's shoulders, where he set them. He let his fingers settle and then without warning began massaging his shoulders, pulling at the skin especially. Oceanic eyes widened as he sensed Jacen trying not to flinch under his hands.

Trying not to flinch at the pain.

Quickly pulling his hands away from Jacen's shoulders, Gadell twisted around him with a cackle. He stood mere inches in front of him now, his eyes trailing down to Jacen's left shoulder.

"Was I hurting you, General? I'm sorry - oh, oh I see what the problem is."

Gadell took his right hand to Jacen's left shoulder, where he tugged at the fabric, where the sleeve would've have started, had Jacen been smart and worn a shirt with sleeves.

"What's this?" Pulling at it, Gadell moved his head to peer into Jacen's shirt.

The General smacked his hands away, "Nothing."

"This scratch?" He paused, "Sorry, set of scratches on your shoul- hells, all the way to your chest. Those are nothing?"

"Nothing. They're nothing."

"Mmmm... playing with your animals again, Jacen? My apologies, I should say playing with a certain animal only found on Hapes. Mane of copper hair, muscular legs, husky growl -" Gadell added a gnashing of his teeth at that point, as if emphasizing the growl. He yanked at Jacen's shirt again, attempting to look once more. "You're horrible at lying, Solo."

Tenel Ka emerged from the offices at that point, her gaze narrowing at the sight of Gadell trying to get into Jacen's shirt. "Did I disturb something?"

"This skinkweed owes me one hundred credits."

Sighing, Tenel Ka replied, "No, I owe you, how about that? I was the one who touched him."

"Oh, but he touched you back. And the bet was that he wouldn't touch you."

"What if he did not touch me?"

"Oh, he did," Gadell turned his head towards her and widened his gaze in disbelief, surprised that the Queen Mother didn't work his logic out.

"And why do you think that, Commander?"

"Because I haven't seen you this relaxed in months."

Tenel Ka arched an eyebrow.

"And that... mark... on your... neck..." The Commander hesitated and motioned quickly to the spot on his own neck, where the mark appeared on hers.

Her cheeks flushing slightly, Tenel Ka slapped her right hand over her neck - she could see Jacen also trying to look innocent and failing horribly, his cheeks a bright shade of red as well.

"Pay up, nerfherders!" Gadell began traipsing down the hallway, Tenel Ka and Jacen in tow, glancing to each other and trading looks of slight embarrassment. The Commander led them down the corridors like little lost children he had stumbled across, but chuckling at that thought he knew that children probably wouldn't even be stupid enough to bet one hundred credits on something impossible.

He could hear them mumbling behind him.

"Why'd he tell you about the bet in the first place?" Jacen whispered.

"Because he is Gadell." Tenel Ka returned with a slight hiss.

Both sets of eyes hit the back of Gadell's head, and the Commander knew it. He could feel them there.

And that smirk appeared once more.

"Priceless," he murmured.