Title: Look At You
Characters: Jaina / Jag
Notes: Written for the Victorian Quote Roulette Challenge.
Credit goes to Elaine Cunningham for lines borrowed from Dark Journey. I don't own anything, that credit goes to George.
Notes #2: This takes place about 10 years post FOTJ. After their engagement is broken, Jag and Jaina never reconcile and go their separate ways.
This story was written for the Victorian Challenge over at , and finally...finally after long, long months, I am done with it.
I was actually stuck for the longest time on this, until one evening when I was watching one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural (my other obsession...thanks again Ceillean ) and was struck by the song being played in the background. "Look at You" by the Screaming Trees is a beautifully haunting song that made me immediately think of Jag in this story. If you get the chance, check it out on YouTube.
If You Are Not Long, I Will Wait For You All My Life. ~ Oscar Wilde
Jaina put on her best diplomatic smile as she nodded her head in agreement at whatever it was the Bothan general had just said. She had lost track of how long she had been listening to him and the Rodian senator drone on incessantly about how much each of their respective governments had contributed to the economic growth of various planets and had helped barter peace on others.
She tuned them out and let her gaze wander around the Grand Hall of the Royal Palace. Queen Mother Tenal Ka had spared no expense for tonight's festivities. The room was lit with the soft flickering glow from the candles that adorned each of the hundreds of white linen-draped tables. Fresh flowers from around the galaxy filled the hall with their beautiful sweet scent. Musicians, some strolling about, some tucked in tiny alcoves, played soft and gentle melodies.
The conversation paused as one of the servants came by with a tray of food and Jaina took this opportunity to excuse herself from the group. Heading across the hall, she again wondered how her long time friend had been able to talk her into attending.
Having to talk politics all evening was bad enough, but add to that the tight, and in Jaina's opinion, all too revealing dress she was forced to wear made it even worse. Jaina pulled at the laces cinching the waist of her crimson shimmersilk gown.
"I would have been happier in a flight suit," she muttered quietly.
"No doubt, but you look lovely just the same," came a soft reply.
Jaina's breath caught in her throat at the deep voice that sounded behind her. One she would recognize anywhere; his presence still supernova bright in the Force. Her heart had yet to start beating again, and she knew that if she could just get her brain to form a coherent thought, she would wonder why she hadn't sensed him earlier. But she wasn't about to question.
Every being in the room ceased to exist. All the noise and commotion happening around them vanished. In that moment, the galaxy consisted of only the two of them.
Jaina felt the blush rising in her face. His simple compliments, even after all these years, were still able to set her cheeks flaming. She turned around slowly, a soft smile coming to her lips as she gazed at the only man she had ever given her heart to.
"Jagged." His name emerged as a breathless whisper.
"May I have the honor of this dance, Master Solo?" Jag asked formally. The barest hint of a smile touched his lips as he extended his hand towards her.
Jaina stood momentarily mute, too entranced by the warmth in his green eyes and the small smile that he had always reserved for her only; sights she hadn't believed she would ever see again directed at her. She couldn't remember how many nights she had dreamt of this moment; of being in his arms again.
Unable to find, or trust, her own voice to answer, Jaina finally managed a slight nod of her head. Calling on the Force to calm her trembling, she placed her small hand in his.
Jag led them slowly onto the polished dance floor, his mind still trying to formulate a plan and figure out what exactly he was doing.
Or going to do, for that matter.
While he didn't trust much the holoreporters said, he knew that underneath the sensationalism lay some layer of truth. Jag knew very well what had been reported of Jaina's status. But when he had caught sight of her from across the room, he just hadn't been able to stop himself.
If he were honest with himself, he hadn't wanted too. He had acted with his heart.
Something he hadn't done in a very long time.
Never in a million years would he have expected her to be in attendance this evening. Jaina had always avoided activities of this nature. She had always had her own, unique, ways of handling politics and affairs of state, Jag thought wryly.
Jag stopped in a far, quiet corner of the large floor and turned to face her, taking a moment to once again admire her dress. While modestly cut in a slight curve in the front, it was the view from the back that had taken Jag's breath away. The back of the thin strapped gown plunged down her back, coming to a stop between her hips. The gown clung to her in all the right places, revealing her figure tantalizingly.
Her right hand still clasped in his, Jaina placed her left hand on his shoulder as she felt Jag slip his hand around the back of her waist and pull her close in the traditional waltz pose. The very tips of his fingers came to rest against the smooth skin of her bare back, and that mere touch was like a jolt of electricity to her senses.
They danced in a comfortable silence, each lost in their own thoughts, both content to just be in each others arms again.
One song ended, blending smoothly into another lilting melody, and she felt Jag adjust his arms. It was only then she realized he held her snugly against him, both arms wrapped around her slender waist; her own arms now around his neck. She closed her eyes and rested her head on his strong chest. Her heart was aflutter as she felt the familiar planes of his body as he pressed against her. Memories of times past washed over her as she inhaled deeply of the spicy, exotic scent that was always uniquely Jag.
Jaina tipped her head up to find him smiling down at her. He hadn't changed much in the past two decades. He still looked resplendent in his black dress uniform; the muscles she could feel through his fine shirt as she leaned against him evidence that he had kept in shape. A few wisps of gray peppered his black hair, and he still kept his beard and moustache trim, giving him that roguish look she had always loved.
His piercing green eyes, however, remained unchanged. Eyes she could still loose herself in. Eyes, she realized with amazement, that looked down at her now as they had those many years ago.
That gaze went right to her soul.
"You look beautiful tonight, Jaina," Jag said.
"Thank you, Jagged." Jaina responded softly. Before she could reply further, her gentle smile turned up into a subtle smirk. She looked back up at Jag, knowing the expression that would be on his face. He didn't disappoint.
Jag looked down at her, eyebrow quirked in typical Fel fashion. Silently waiting for the explanation as to what she found so amusing.
"It seems, Emperor Fel," Jaina said slowly, her smirk growing, "that you and I have become the new topic of conversation."
Jag looked slowly around the room, his scowl warning any of those around them what would happen if they continued in their gossiping. His expression softened when he looked back down at Jaina, and he inclined his head towards the doors that led outside to the gardens.
As they wove their way through the mass of beings swirling and spinning on the dance floor, Jaina was hit by a flash of memory. A lifetime ago, it seemed; of another escape the two of them had made across this same dance floor. Jaina half expected Ta'a Chume or Kyp to come and once again interrupt them.
She gripped Jag's hand tighter, smiling at him when he looked at her, and she could tell by the twinkle in his eye that he was thinking the same thing.
Jag opened the ornately carved transparisteel doors, leading them out into the cool night air. They made their way across the balcony, Jaina's heels clicking softly on the stones as they descended the winding steps into the Queen's private gardens.
The moonlight and the stars twinkling overhead lit the way as they wandered amongst the exotic plants and flowers. Jag had pictured this moment hundreds of times over the years, all ending with similar outcomes; uncertainty, unease and even anger, never expecting the familiar, playful banter that they had so easily fallen back into.
"Your timing is impeccable as always, Jagged," Jaina said. "If I had to endure any more of that blather from those two…," she shook her head. "Well, I'm not sure what I would have done, but I assure you that it wouldn't have ended pleasantly for them."
"I'm glad I could come to your rescue then, my lady." Jag stopped and executed a flourish of a formal bow, his own mouth quirking into a smirk at her lightheartedness. "But I have no doubt that you would have come up with something worthy of them, you were always quite creative when your put you mind to it."
Jaina gasped as she brought her hand to her chest in mock horror. The appalled look she tried to maintain on her face slipped away at the wry smile that adorned Jag's face.
Walking side by side, Jag gazed down at Jaina. "I never expected to see you here this evening. Not that I'm complaining," he added with amusement.
"If I remember correctly, making small talk with politicians was never amongst your chosen interests." His smile took on that roguish quality that she had always loved so much. "You preferred negotiating with your light saber to mingling and dinner discussions."
"I still do," Jaina smirked. "You don't think I'm unarmed now, do you?"
Jag's deep laugh filled the night air. He realized that he had smiled and laughed more in the last few moments than he had in the past year. His gaze traveled down her lithe frame, enrapt once again at how stunning she looked.
"It doesn't look to me like you can fit much more in that dress with you."
Whether he meant, or was even aware of the smooth, almost seductive tone his voice held, the effect was the same. Jaina was never more grateful that the only light came from the full moon and small torches that lit the walkway.
She was sure that the blush that was spreading across her face was coloring her cheeks the same crimson as her dress. She quickly gathered her wits as she slapped him lightly on the shoulder. "You're still such a scoundrel, you know that? Does anybody else realize just what you're really like?"
His simple, quiet statement-for the third time that evening-has knocked her off her axis; leaving her scrambling for purchase and wondering just what the frip she was doing.
And what she hoped to accomplish.
Jaina clasped her hands tightly in front of herself as they continued strolling in companionable silence through the lush gardens. Even using the Force, she couldn't quite keep her fingers from nervously wringing themselves together. She glanced at Jag out of the corner of her eyes and then back down to the ground.
She wasn't one to believe in destiny, choosing instead to forge her own path, make her own decisions and let the cards fall where they will; a woman of action. But whether it was destiny or chance, or even the Force at work, something had brought them together again after all this time, and she wasn't the type of woman to let an opportunity pass by.
It was now or never.
She took a deep breath, calming her nerves against his possible answer, not really sure she wanted to know, but needing to know nonetheless .
"Lady Genevieve," Jaina asked tentatively, hoping that it came out as casually as she had intended. "Did she travel with you to Hapes? I don't recall seeing her in the ballroom." She looked briefly up at Jag, drawing on all of her Organa-Solo diplomatic genes to keep her expression neutral.
Jag glanced down at her; he shouldn't be surprised at her knowledge of his life. After all, he had kept track of hers. "Lady Genevieve and I are no longer together," he said simply.
For a brief moment he thought he saw hope flash in her eyes, so quick it could have been imagined; if not for the fleeting smile that flashed over her lips.
Jag's voice was quiet, introspective as he continued. "We were never a couple. Not really. We were as different as night and day." He laughed. "She hated ships, flying, the military. I don't think she got her hands dirty a day in her life. It was convenience. Both politically and personally. We were both seeking companionship."
He paused for a moment, reflecting on what he had just admitted. He had never told anyone this, not even his brother Cem. Again he marveled at how comfortable and familiar this was. Like it had only been yesterday that they had been together, instead of the years that had somehow past them by.
He chose his next words with care, but he knew that Jaina would see right through them to the real meaning they held. "I chose someone as opposite as I could possibly find. Thinking I would be happy."
"Were you?" Jaina asked quietly.
He looked down at her. She had her head tipped slightly to the side as she looked up at him, her face soft and serene in the moonlight as she awaited his answer. The firelight from the surrounding torches danced and sparkled in her brandy brown eyes. The warm evening breeze had blown wisp of her fine hair across her cheek, and he marshaled every bit of strength he had to resist the urge to move them; to caress her face with his fingers as he did so.
He was still stunned by his honest admittance to her. It had all come out so easily. She was still the only person who he could just be himself with; lower his shields and feel at peace with. Not for the first time that evening did he wonder how they had lost each other; and what exactly his plan was.
He took a slow deep breath. Well, he had come this far.
"Yes. No." He shrugged his shoulder. "Maybe for a short time. But I couldn't give her what she really wanted."
Jaina swallowed, her words emerging as mere whispers. "And what was that?"
"My love." Jag said gently, staring into her eyes. "That's always belonged to another."
Jaina lost herself in his gaze, twins pools of green that spoke louder than any mere words could convey. Her pulse pounded in time with her rapidly beating heart. Her thoughts were a mad, crazy jumble in her head; tripping over one another, all vying for the top spot to be heard, yet not one making any sense to her.
Jaina found herself speechless; by the only man ever capable of doing so.
Jag forced himself to break-albeit reluctantly-the trance they had fallen under. Feelings he had thought long buried had come rushing back; all screaming to be acted upon . He had acted with his heart, with no thought of consequences, but Jagged was nothing if not an honorable man.
Though he saw she wore no wedding band, he knew that didn't deny the news of her being married. Jaina had never been a flashy person, had never been one to wear jewelry. Even when they had been engaged, a pang went through Jag's heart at that thought, she had only worn the ring when they attended events or went out.
He cupped her elbow in his hand, guiding her further down the path and around a small pond to sit on a stone bench. The moonlight shimmered off the still water. A brilliant orange and yellow fish skimmed the surface, his tiny head breaching the surface, sending waves rippling across the surface.
Jag had made elite pilot status before his twenties, was an expert marksman, and was skilled in dozens of fighting techniques. As Emperor, he had negotiated with some of the toughest species in the galaxy, made life and death decisions that affected millions of Beings, and had to avoid an almost daily round of assassination attempts.
All that seemed to pale in comparison to asking the one question he so desperately wanted-needed-the answer to.
Jag cleared his throat. It was now or never.
"So Jaina," he said evenly, tipping his head to look at her. He hoped for nonchalance, but knew she could read his true intentions as easily as she read a holonovel. "What about you? I saw the holos of your wedding to Zekk. You looked lovely."
It hurt to say those words out loud. As if finally giving them voice would burst the bubble of hopeful denial he had made around himself. He hoped that, for once, his highly trained, elite staff of intelligence officers had made a mistake.
"I've been," Jaina began slowly, then shook her head in confusion as what he had asked sunk in. "Wait…what?" Jaina looked at him in bewilderment. "My wedding? You saw them? Those holos were…You saw them? How?"
Then she remembered who she was talking to. "Never mind. Of course you saw them."
She furrowed her brow as she pivoted on the bench to look at him more fully. Her expression somewhere between confusion and hopeful astonishment as realization started to sink in .
"You thought…?" She paused to try and gather her thoughts. "You think…? Oh, wow."
Jaina blew out a breath, she stood up and paced a couple of restless steps on the path. Oh wow was right. Both their career's depended on the giving and receiving of vital, up to date, and pertinent information. In most instances, their very lives depended it. And here they had both spent years thinking the other…
Jaina's thoughts trailed off and she shook her head. Didn't they just make quite the pair.
But did finally knowing the truth have any impact on the past? Or pose any hope for the future?
"I think you need better spy's, flyboy." Her old endearment for him rolling effortlessly off her tongue without any thought as her trademark brand of Solo humor came out.
Jaina walked back over to the bench and sat down. Her head was bowed and she ran her hands across her lap, buying her some time to think as she smoothed out imagined wrinkles in the silken material. To figure out what her next words could possibly mean for them. She folded her hands, finally bringing her head up to look at Jag with a gentle smile on her face.
"Zekk and I aren't married, Jag." she stated candidly. "We never were."
The momentary flare of promise and possibility that Jaina felt in the Force betrayed Jag's outwardly tight control. Only confusion showed as his brows knitted together as he took in Jaina's words.
"It was all staged, an act for a deep undercover mission that Zekk and I headed up. Us getting married, " a wry smile lifted the corner of Jaina's lip as she continued her explanation, "that small detail was conveniently omitted until we were just about to our destination. Only then did Grand Master Durron let us know in a briefing. From the safety of his office back on Coruscant and with a few light years between us, I might add."
Jag laughed quietly, but she knew it wasn't directed at her. He knew Kyp as well as she did. The man had the maturity level of an adolescent, and sometimes all you could do was shake your head.
"Are the two of you together?" Jag's smile had faded and Jaina could see the uncertainty flicker in his green eyes as he awaited her answer.
"No." Her voice was soft against the emotions that had started to build. "Not anymore. We were…, but no."
The honest concern that radiated from Jag through the Force was nearly her undoing and she had to swallow against the lump in her throat in order to continue.
"The two of us were together for awhile. Happy." Jaina's voice trailed off, her gaze dropping to her lap.
Jag waited a moment, then gently prodded her. "But."
Jaina shrugged one shoulder, her eyes still not meeting his own.
"Jaina, tell me."
His voice was loving and tender. Everything it had always been with her; everything she had missed and had never been able to find again. Until now. It was the catalyst that crumbled the last of her reserves. Sending the walls tumbling.
"Zekk…he will always have a special place in my heart. We were very happy together. But it was just contentment, ease, familiar. Zekk knew."
Jag placed two fingers on her chin and lifted her face. His head and his heart already knew what Zekk had known. But they had come too far this evening to turn back now. He needed her to say the words. "What did Zekk know?"
Jaina closed her eyes against the sting of tears that threatened to fall. Feeling the warmth of his touch against her skin made her breath hitch and her head swim. Like years ago, she felt the strength and support that that simple touch offered to her freely; and she accepted uninhibitedly. Seeking his strength to help her continue. To take the chance.
Needing him to finally know.
She opened her eyes and looked at him, her eyes glistening in the moonlight. "He knew that my heart had always been held by another."
Jaina rose from the bench and walked the short distance to the edge of the pond, taking a moment to dab at the moisture that had gathered in the corners of her eyes.
"I was desperately in love with a wonderful man . He was everything I could ever want. Could ever hope for. But out of a misguided sense of duty, my fiercely naïve belief that independence meant being alone, my heritage, the titles that were forced on me…I never slowed down enough to realize…," Jaina shook her head and took a shaky breath, blowing it out in a slow shudder, "I walked away from him. I was afraid; afraid of loving; afraid of being loved."
Her voice hitched as she continued. "He once pledged to me that he would wait for me all his life. Forever. But I fear that forever is just an illusion; out of my own foolishness I've lost him."
A single tear fell from Jaina's eye and she looked up to find Jag standing in front of her. He cupped her face and gently wiped away the tear trickling down her cheek with his thumb. Jaina leaned into his palm, letting the tears held back from past regrets flow freely.
They were mere inches apart. Time stood motionless. The years between them vanished as vivid green met brandy brown and neither moved.
His fingertips slowly caressed across her jaw line, ghosting down the soft, smooth skin of her neck. And restraint was abandoned. Jag slipped his hand to the nape of Jaina's neck pulling her closer still, his fingers burying in her long dark hair. He leaned forward, brushing his lips softly against hers and he felt the shiver that ran the length of her body, knowing it had nothing to do with the chill of the night air.
Jaina snaked her hands around his neck, parting her lips, opening her mouth to him further. Seeking. Inviting. Accepting. Passion once thought lost forever reignited, their bodies remembering with ease what they had long forgotten.
Jag's hands glided softly down her body and slipped around her waist, his fingers caressing the silky skin of her bare back as he pulled her against him. His mouth drifted along her jaw, placing tender kisses along her neck. He captured her lips once again, kissing her gently one last time before breaking away, leaving them both breathless.
"Jaina my love, there has never been, or ever will be, anybody as precious to me as you. You have always held my heart and soul."
Jag grasped her small hands in his, thumbs brushing over their delicate skin "There is an old Corellian saying, Mura bhfuil tu fada, beidh me ag fanacht leat mo shaol ar fad."
The words of the long forgotten, ancient version of their ancestors language translated instantly and Jaina's eyes widened as the implication of the proverb took hold and she clutched Jag's hand tighter. Her voice quivered as she looked at him and repeated the phrase. "If you are not long, I will wait for you all my life."
"Forever is not an illusion, my darling." His eyes were a lush, velvety green in the glow of the full moon as he gazed at her. "My pledge to you then stands just as strongly now."
"Goddess, my love for you is eternal, never ending." Jag brought one of Jaina's hands to his lips and placed a tender kiss on the back. "The future is laid out in front of us, untouched and ours to grasp. Come away with me. Be with me. Start our life anew."
Jaina raised herself up on her tiptoes, the warmth of his body and his spicy, exotic scent invading her senses as she pressed against him. "Together," she whispered in a sigh as she pressed her lips lightly to his in a slow, gently kiss.