In the end, Jaina is glad she hadn't gone to a bar to drown her grief with strangers. It had never been her habit, anyway – the long years of war and deception and command had destroyed her taste for alcohol and the loss of control that followed, and the Killiks had perverted her love of companionship. So instead of drinking some cheap imitation of Corellian whiskey in a quiet Hapan cantina, watched over by the agents Tenel Ka had dispatched to watch over her, Jaina was sitting on a cold cement bench along one of Hapan's many public avenues, and her security agent was two blocks down the street, hidden in the nearest convenient alley.
Once, Jacen would have been sitting right next to her. But that was half a lifetime ago, and Jaina can only bring up the smallest of regrets that he is not here with her now. Old wounds are like that, and fancy title aside, she's grown used to being the last and least of the Solo children.
not the least, the ghost next to her protests quietly, and Jaina feels a hard smile steal across her face.
"I must not have known you when you were alive, or you wouldn't be saying that," she says, still smiling. In another light, it'd be called a snarl, but that's all right. There's no one close enough to see, save for the dead, and Jaina really doubts the spirit is that discerning. After all, she's talking to a –
please don't say that about yourself, the ghost interrupts, distressed, and Jaina's smile abruptly disappears. She looks at the ghost in a critical light, but there's still not much to see. In the shadows of a true night, there might be a face and form, but Hapan's seven moons have rendered everything indistinct and unclear. There's only a certain light and presence to show there's anybody there at all.
"What is it you want?" Jaina's voice is flat, sardonic even, and she's almost proud to note that her voice doesn't shake at all. Once, her voice would have cracked, but Jaina's grown used to impossible demands, and there's nothing that says she has to fulfill this one. The ghost doesn't answer, but there's something about her aura that seems shy and uncertain, and despite her better judgment, Jaina almost gives her an out.
She doesn't, though.
my name is nelani dinn, the ghost offers, and Jaina has to think for minute before she realizes this the first Jedi Lumiya had killed this time around. Jaina just raises her eyebrow. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you've got the wrong Jedi to tender your thanks. Luke is the one who killed her."
The ghost – the girl – was quiet for a few seconds before she said Brisha didn't kill me.
And of course it would be something like this. Vengeance is something Jaina is familiar with, but-
not vengeance. a warning and with those words Jaina stops that train of thought in it's tracks. sorry the ghost continues, if i'd listened to my feelings i could have stopped this, but i didn't understand. There's another pause, as if Nelani is gathering her energy, and maybe she is. i'm sorry, but i'm not the only person he's killed.
The worst thing is, Nelani doesn't even need to say who 'he' is. The knowledge fits into Jaina's head like a ball in a socket and she feels herself growing truly, incandescently angry for the first time since…since…since, well, Myrkr. "Why did you tell me this? What do you expect me to do?" Jaina demands, and she doesn't even notice the tell-tale grinding in her throat until the ghost touches her. It feels exactly like a hand on her arm, and Jaina is so startled she falls silent.
i believe in you, Nelani says, and in that moment Jaina is struck by the memory of Anakin, her kid brother who'd been hot-tempered and brave and so terribly stupid. This girl, whoever she was, whoever she could have been, reminds Jaina of him. It's the first time in years someone has professed belief in her so unreservedly, and it's the first time in years that Jaina has felt worthy of that.
Her aunt is dead, and her brother changed almost-but-not-quite beyond recognition, but he's still her brother, and the only person who remembers that is a girl Jacen killed on the way to who he is now. Jacen, she suddenly knows with utter certainty, thinks of this girl as the first death. He always did like beginnings. Jaina stands up and rubs her face with her hands, and her eyes are bone dry.
"I'm sorry," Nelani says, her voice unexpectedly clear. Jaina doesn't need to look back, but she does anyway. A form, a face, and Jaina smiles lopsidedly at the girl, and memories of Jacen fill her head, all the things he is, and tells himself he isn't. Jacen can lie to himself all he want, but he can't lie to her. Not anymore, not now that she's remembered.
"It's all right. It was a long time coming, anyway."