Jaina comms Jag for a ride after fleeing Nickel One. A Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Invincible missing scene set between Chapters One and Two.
Extraction needed immediately.
Rendezvous point Lexu-Victor
~ secure comm burst received at 0430 by Jagged Fel
...the day following the Imperial offensive at Nickel One
Guiding the Plagier-class freighter into the Grimbald Expanse, Jag tried to slow the quickening drumbeat of his heart. His senses sharpened, battle-ready should anything go awry. A cloud of ionized particulates formed the boundaries of the Expanse, obscuring even the best sensors. He had identified this region as a rendezvous point for the Alema task force for that very reason. But the reasons that made this location a good meeting point also made it an ideal place to stage an ambush.
The cloud of particulates dissipated, and the starless void of the Expanse stretched ahead. Against the black swath of space, he easily spotted the blue haze of a starship's exhaust. The ship sensor's registered an approaching vessel. As the distance between them closed, the scanners identified a Mandalorian Motors bes'uliik, not the X-wing he had been expecting.
He toggled the comm. "Twin Suns Three hailing approaching vessel. Please identify."
Being a Jedi, Jaina always had a distinct advantage. She would have sensed Jag, his state of mind, and that he was alone. Jag, on the other hand, had to rely on prearranged code words to let him know if it was in fact Jaina in the Bessie - and her status. Twin Suns One meant she was under duress. Jaina meant he should turn and burn.
Static crackled in his earpiece followed by, "Rogue Nine."
Situation normal. He exhaled, his shoulders dropping. He hadn't realized he was holding his breath. "Copy, Rogue Nine."
"Can a girl get a lift?"
"Opening the docking bay now."
She responded with a simple click of the comm. The Bessie whirled around its axis, then skimmed past the cockpit viewport so close there was no doubt Jaina was flying. As soon as the starfighter slipped from view, Jag turned his attention to the navcomputer. His series of jumps already planned, he simply had to verify the coordinates to initiate the calculations. The ship shuddered slightly as the Bessie settled into the bay.
Before he could even reach for the button the light toggled green, indicating the docking bay doors had begun to cycle closed. As usual, Jaina didn't need help. She had the Force, and with it she managed quite fine on her own.
So when the time had come to return to the Jedi, why had she contacted him?
With what she faced in the imminent future, he understood why Jaina had chosen to avoid her parents. There was always Zekk; she could have called her Jedi partner. But she hadn't. Perhaps that was simply because the tall, brooding Jedi wore his heart on his sleeve, and after years of his restraint she trusted Jag to be better at locking down his emotions. Not that it would be easy to do this time. Over the past weeks his memories had kept rushing back to that fateful talk in the medward - and her subsequent goodbye.
The airlock indicator chimed; the bay was sealed and pressurized. Rising, Jag quickly banished thoughts of Endor from his mind. He would be what Jaina needed him to be. He would just have to follow her lead.
Leaving the cockpit, he brushed aside his wayward bangs. In the time since Jaina had left to train with Boba Fett, Jag had shaved his beard. Finding a real barber - he didn't count Ben Skywalker's offer to be careful with his lightsaber - had proven impossible. Life among the Jedi was far from the rigid routine of a military lifestyle, but he was starting to get used to it. Not that he had much choice; there was simply no where else to go. Whatever else his future might hold, returning to the solitary life of a rogue agent was out of the question.
Stopping outside the docking bay door, Jag peered through the small observation port. The Bessie's canopy cycled open. He keyed the door and walked inside. Casual small talk, he decided. Probably as good an icebreaker as he was going to get.
"What, X-wings not good enough for you now?"
Jaina tugged off her helmet. "At the time, this was the only option. Hopefully Fett has enough class to credit the value of the X-wing I left behind against his fee."
Good, that meant she wasn't going back. Jaina clambered over the side, and Jag gave her room to jump to the floor. She landed lightly, as if she possessed her own set of repulsors. In the time it took her to straighten up, Jag studied her. Hair flattened from a day or more under a helmet. Jumpsuit stained and tattered. And was she really a bit thinner, after only a few weeks? As her face came into view, there was no missing the hollow shadows around her eyes.
She stepped forward, arms extended, and before he knew it they were locked in an embrace. He was eager to return the sentiment, and folded his arms around her. While his heart simply savored the moment, his brain evaluated. She wasn't crushed against him. No, there was clearly a bit of separation. Definitely a friendly hug.
Quickly, before he made her uncomfortable, Jag stepped back and eyed the Mandalorian fighter.
"Full spec," she noted, "not the watered down one Mandalorian Motors sells to outsiders."
"Do you think it's safe?"
"Knowing Fett, no." Jaina walked underneath the fighter. "But I think it's too valuable to dump."
Following her, Jag was inclined to agree. Opportunities to study an intact enemy fighter - potential enemy, anyway - were rare. Not to mention the limits on Jedi resources since their separation from the Alliance. This vessel would be a welcome addition to the fleet. "We could EM shock it. That should knock out any latent tracking systems until we get back."
"Great minds think alike. The mechanics won't be happy about the reboot process, but at least we'll still have our hands on a Bessie." She tugged open a hatch and began to fiddle around inside. "We can access the central power core through -"
A touch to her sleeve silenced the rest. Jaina withdrew her head from the hatch, eyeing his hand. He removed it. "Let me do that."
Despite the weary lines around her face and the bloodshot tint to her eyes, Jaina drew back her shoulders. As usual, preparing to protest. Her mouth opened, then shut into a grim line. She tipped her head, her eyes lowering. "Thanks. That would be great."
"If you're hungry..."
She shook her head. "What I really want is a sanisteam."
Jag couldn't help the smile that formed on his lips. "You're in luck, then. This hunk of junk is equipped with a fully operational refresher suite."
"And a clotheswasher too?" she asked hopefully. "I haven't a thing to wear other than the clothes on my back."
"There is one, but you won't need it. I took the liberty of appropriating some clothes from your trunk before I left."
Stepping out from under the ship, Jaina patted him on the shoulder. "I knew there was a reason I wanted you to come get me." Her brown eyes gazing up at him, she brushed the back of her hand across his jaw. "No more beard. About time."
With that, she walked from the docking bay. The sensation of her touch lingered across his jaw, burning with raw fire. His eyes drifted shut, and he tried in vain to discern the meaning behind her actions. A hint? Or just an amiable gesture? Their embrace had been nothing special, just a welcome between friends. He shrugged. If nothing else, he could take satisfaction that she had noticed.
After he finished shocking the Bessie's systems, Jag wandered back toward the cockpit. In a matter of minutes he had navigated out of the Expanse and initiated the first of several hyperspace jumps designed to conceal their ultimate destination. When he reached the ship's lounge, the sound of the sanisteam's water trickling through the ship's pipes was still readily apparent. Although she had chosen to clean up first, Jag harbored no doubt Jaina would be hungrier than a glacierpanther soon enough.
The ship's ready-meals were standard military fare, nutritious yet utterly bland, so Jag had procured two portions of endwa stew from the refectory's freezer before departing. He stuck them both in the heating unit and set about preparing a pot of caf.
"Smells good." Dressed in a loose tunic and matching pants, her hair still wet, Jaina plopped into one of the chairs by the gaming table.
Jag acknowledged her arrival with a tip of his head.
"So where are we jumping to?" she asked.
"Ultimately, Shedu Maad." The heating unit chimed. Jag removed the two portions and set them on the table. "Can you grab some utensils?"
She rose, moving in the direction he had indicated. "Tenel Ka risks a lot letting the Jedi hide within her borders."
"At this point, I don't think she has a choice." Grabbing two mugs, Jag poured the caf.
"No," Jaina said quietly. "I don't suppose my brother has left any of us with much of a choice."
The truth behind Mara's death hung between them, the proverbial bantha in the room. Jaina walked back to the table with a knife and fork in each hand. Placing one mug beside each plate, Jag settled in the seat across from her.
She sawed at a morsel of meat for a few seconds, then stabbed one of the halves with her fork. "How's Ben?"
"He's dealing." What more could he say? The young man had led the investigation into his own mother's death and found his cousin - and former idol - guilty of her murder. At the moment, though, Ben was the least of Jag's concerns. "How are you?"
Jaina popped the meat into her mouth, chewed, and swallowed it. Her eyes never left the plate. "Dealing."
"If you want to talk -"
"I don't," she snapped. Her gaze now bored into him, daring Jag to press the subject. He settled on eating some stew. After a minute when the only sound was the clink of utensils on plate, Jaina exhaled sharply. "Sorry."
Jag lowered both his utensils to the plate. "Don't apologize. Talking isn't your thing, I know that. But the offer still stands."
She forced a small smile. "Actually, I'm all talked out on the subject."
His scarred brow arched slightly.
"I know." Jaina shook her head. "You wouldn't think it was a Mandalorian strong suit, talking. But I've got things sorted out now. I know what I have to do."
There was a finality to her statement - one that Jag welcomed as much as he loathed. He had known for some time Jaina would eventually have to confront her brother; he prayed she would find the certitude to do it, to believe that what she was doing was necessary - and right. If Boba Fett had given her that edge, Jag would forever be in his debt. He knew Jaina had needed to have the resolve beaten into her in order to survive. But after embarrassing her with the crushgaunts on Kashyyyk, he realized he didn't have the stomach to push her hard enough to achieve the desired result.
Jaina's confrontation with her twin would come soon enough; no good would come from dwelling on it.
"I was surprised by your choice of rendezvous point. We're a long way from Keldabe."
"Fett likes to do a lot of on-the-job training. Nickel One, most recently. He only sent me packing when things got a little too hot."
Jag sipped his caf slowly, using the activity to mask the displeasure surely creeping across his face. "Training you, or just using you as a Jedi-for-hire?"
"Probably a little of both."
"As long as you harbor no illusions about the man behind the legend."
"I don't." Jaina raised the mug to her lips. "He's a royal guant'no banahs."
As her sleeve slid back along her arm, Jag spotted a raw wound peeking out. "Did he make you pay for that Bessie with flesh?"
She followed his gaze. "Got too close to a plasma blast."
"That needs to be treated."
"It won't kill me."
Jag rose, crossing to the storage cabinet with the medkit. "It'll take a lot more than a flashburn, to be sure, but there's no good reason not to dress that properly."
When Jag turned around with the medkit in hand, he braced for the incoming stern reproach or smart-mouthed retort. Instead, Jaina sat with her sleeve rolled up and her arm held out. He experienced a rare loss for words as he began to minister to her wound. Then a mischievous thought formed in his mind. "Who are you, and what have you done with Jaina Solo?"
Her head dipped, a fruitless attempt to hide a blush.
Jag daubed the edges of the wound with gauze soaked in an antiseptic solution. "Not that I'm complaining."
"I'm tired of fighting, Jag."
With him? Or just in general? "I understand. Completely."
He finished in silence. They cleared their plates to the dishwasher and were just cleaning up the remaining mess from their meal when the autopilot alarm sounded.
"Time for the next jump," Jag said before heading for the cockpit.
Jaina followed. "Can I help?"
The answer was no, but Jag wanted to be near her every precious second they had left. Even if that meant casual talk between friends. "Sure. You can double-check my jump route." In truth, he had confirmed the route three times already.
As they scooted into the pilot and co-pilot seats, a half-smile teased her lips. She saw right through his little lie, and she didn't care. Playing along, Jaina dutifully studied his plots as Jag keyed the next set of coordinates into the navcomputer. He waited until Jaina finished her assessment. She glanced over at him, her smile a little broader now. "This is going to be a pretty long jump."
"You're the one who likes to throw a long jump in early when trying to avoid tag-alongs."
"I guess you did learn a thing or two from me over the years after all. Well, looks good to me."
Moments later the stars elongated into the swirl of hyperspace. An odd uneasy hush settled across the cockpit. Where to go from here?
"I suppose you'll want to catch up on some sleep." Jag flicked on the autopilot. "I'll grab my things from the bunks so you can have that room."
Rising, Jag caught a glimpse of Jaina's brown eyes. Soft and dark, definitely sad. He was afraid to keep looking, though, for fear of getting lost in them. If nothing else, he would be what Jaina needed - the one she could trust to bring her back to the fold and respect her space. There would be time enough when all this was over to -
A hand on his shoulder stayed him. She must have needed something. He glanced back, his mouth opening to form the question. The answer arrived before any words emerged when Jaina's lips crushed into his. Palms cupped his clean shaven jaw, fingers dug into his cheeks, locking him in a punishing kiss.
The impact of her attack slammed his shoulders into the bulkhead. His head slammed into the durasteel support with a resounding thud. Their teeth clacked together. Although Jag would have endured tenfold the abuse for just a few seconds more of the bliss of kissing Jaina, she drew back.
"Ow." She hadn't drawn back very far, though. Her body nestled into his, tight as a vaporlock. Her hands still cupped his face. A finger traced the line of his lips as a blush rose on her cheeks. "Oops. That, uh... wasn't quite how I planned it."
"Planned?" Jag's fingers tightened around her waist.
Again no answer in words. She simply rose up on her toes, every agonizing inch of her body sliding along his, and gently put her lips to his. Jag's mouth opened in a question - but not to speak this time. She answered, slipping her tongue into his mouth. The duel had begun.
Skilled at multitasking, Jag plundered Jaina's mouth at the same time he maneuvered them out of the confines of the cockpit. Her legs wrapped around him, and he moved them as one down the narrow corridor. He shifted through the bulkhead into the bunkroom, one eye noting the open rucksack still atop the bed.
One of Jaina's arms untwined from around his neck, and a wild swipe through the air sent the rucksack and its contents flying. Unhindered, the pair tumbled across the room, landing in an unceremonious heap on the bunk. For one second they unlocked and stared into each other's eyes. The next second the searing heat of unrequited passion dictated their carefully choreographed dance.
They spun, arms entangled. Legs intertwined. Lips locked. Tunic sliding up. Shirt folding open. Pants off. Skin on skin. Breath pressed into breath. Sweat, followed by tantalizing chills. Jag remembering every inch of Jaina, the woman he had never stopped loving. Every curve, every nuance, his again.
Hours later, Jag lay with his back against the wall, Jaina's sleeping form snug to his front, and tried to recall every moment of their encounter in detail. Yet he found it exceedingly difficult to get past anything except the sensation of her lying sated in his arms. For the moment, that would have to be enough. So he burrowed down into the covers, tugging her closer still to guard against the chill of space.
Too soon, real life would come rushing back, and this moment would become only a fleeting recollection of a momentary respite from the endless struggle. Jag chose to savor every minute he had Jaina to himself. Tomorrow, she would belong to her destiny once more.
His mind especially attuned to every subtle change in her body as it rested next to his, he observed the rise and fall of her breath slowly shift. Jaina stirred, her head turning on the pillow. Her eyes drifted open, blinking as if trying to remember a dream. Jag wanted to drown in the brown pools of her eyes as they brightened from the dark hues of caf to the hint of the warming tones of dawn on Endor.
"Hi," she said in a throaty tone.
She rolled, threading a leg between his so she faced up. Jag propped up on an elbow, looking down at her. He brushed aside a wayward bang from across her right eye. Jaina's eyelids drifted shut at his touch, and a peaceful calm softened the contours of her face.
"Mmmm." She feathered a kiss on the back of his hand. "Thank you."
"Coming when I called." She smiled. "For this."
He bent down, using his lips to express the unspoken you're welcome he felt silly for even having to give. He should be declaring his undying gratitude to her for being the one she had summoned.
She kissed him greedily, then pulled back into the pillow. He instantly knew why when an red angry mark of a day's growth in beard swelled along her jawline.
Jag stroked the abrasion, willing it away. That any harm would come to her from his actions, especially those innocently meant, broke his heart, and reminded him of every painful time he had hurt her before.
"I loved baby smooth Jag so much, I forgot about the drawbacks."
When he started to push up, though, her arms clamped around his torso, drawing him back down. "Don't you dare. I've already wasted some of our time sleeping."
"Not a waste." Not to Jag. Not seeing Jaina secure enough to drift into a peaceful slumber. Especially not when it happened in his arms.
Jaina turned, scanning for a chrono. "How much time..."
"No." Jag captured her chin and brought her gaze back to meet his green eyes. "I don't want to know how little time we have left."
Her eyes wavered, beginning to drown under a watery sheen. She nodded. Slowly her fingers flowed up, touching his cheek, brushing through his hair. Finally they curled around the back of his head, causing ripples of tingles to race along his scalp.
Jag felt himself being drawn into her eyes, falling into her embrace once more.
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