Author: Lauren J
Tara palmed the door to her dormitory open. The room was square and sparsely furnished with only a cot, a desk, and her personal data-pad. Her window looked out onto the landing pad; Willow could see the Fantastic Kat sitting peacefully on the ground. Jedi milled about the area, some meditating, some just walking and talking. Only moments ago Faith had entered the ship to be alone.
Tara hastily cleared her cot of her texts, and smoothed the blanked. "Willow?" She asked hesitantly. "You're going to have to stand up and move to the bed. Do you think that you could do that?"
"You want me in your bed?" Willow waggled her eyebrows.
Tara rolled her eyes. "Get up, you scoundrel." She grinned.
"Yes Ma'am." The redhead mumbled. "Oof." Willow gingerly picked her way to the cot and sat on the edge.
"Alright, sit cross-legged and face me." Tara gently commanded.
As Willow moved to obey, Tara noticed the swell of her small breasts and the way her hair fell about her face and shone in the light streaming in the window. "This okay?" Willow asked.
"Umm..." Tara hesitated. "Yeah that's great. Give me your hands." Tara asked, holding out her own hands, palms up. Willow tentatively placed her hands in Tara's.
"So, umm... what exactly are we doing?" Willow asked.
"Well, we're going to meditate, and focus healing energy on your ribs." Tara explained. "Hopefully we can have you at full capacity in a couple of hours."
"A couple of hours?!" Willow said, surprised.
"Yes." Tara smiled.
"The Force isn't something to scoff at." Tara grinned.
"Alright, close your eyes." Tara said, closing her own. The two women sat with their legs crossed, facing each other on the cot. Their knees barely touching, holding hands, breathing slowly and tranquilly. "Feel the Force, flowing through the room. Visualize your ribs, feel where they are broken, and where there is pain. Now direct the energy there."
"Shhhhh." Tara cut her off. "Just feel. Just think about your ribs. Think about healing." Tara lost herself in the Force. She could hear Willow's heart thumping slowly. Willow's ribs, the two on the right were the most painful. She chose the top rib, and began coaxing the bones to knit themselves together. For her part, Willow could only sense the general area, but she did as Tara told her. Hell, I think I would do anything that she told me too... Tara smiled at the internal monologue the redhead was having with herself. Focus Willow. She sent back in return. She felt Willow's surprise, and sensed the girl let herself slip back into the Force.
"And what if she doesn't want to help us?" Leia demanded of Han. "Her data file doesn't really show any dazzling acts of heroism."
"Well there's a lot about her that's not IN the file." Han stroked his chin.
"Such as..." Leia prompted.
"Well, I've been out of the game for a while, but I still talk to Lando." Han supplied. "Said he knew a little bit about our 'Willow.' Back to the point, I think she's got a conscience. Y'know that giant gambling debt she's got with Nuurba?"
"Of course." Leia nodded.
"Rumor has it that she accrued it trying to win enough money to buy a dancing girl by the name of..." Han scrolled through his data-pad. "Buffy." He stated proudly.
"So she wanted a dancing girl. You did say she preferred the company of women." Leia said. "I'm not following."
"Well I'm not done talking yet." Han groused. "Anyway, this is where accounts get muddy. Willow was either in love with Buffy, or they were best friends. Either way, Willow cared about this "Buffy." Which is the point I'm trying to make. She cares about people other than Number One. So she tries and tries to make all this money gambling, loses big time, she's only sixteen at this point, doesn't know that Hutt's games are rigged. So she turns to smuggling, spice running, whatever she can. But she never makes enough. She paid off some of the debt, but not enough to get Nuurba off of her back. I think that counts as a "dazzling act of heroism" as you put it."
"You're saying she might risk it all for Buffy?" Leia pondered. "We don't even know if Buffy's still ALIVE. Unfortunately, dancers don't generally live very long." Leia sighed, remembering the girl she watched die before her eyes during her time with Jabba.
"That or revenge." Han shrugged. "As a last resort we do have her record, and enough evidence to put her away for a very long time."
"Blackmail." Leia rubbed her temples, and let out a stressful sigh.
"I prefer "imaginative persuasion"." Han said. "Blackmail is such an ugly word... but essentially yes. This is the right thing to do. You know that. We'll just have to make her an offer that she can't refuse."
"I know." Leia sighed. "She's going to need help though."
"I think a couple of Jedi could be spared..." Han mused.
"We'll have to talk to Luke." Leia sighed. "Alright, we're in the atmosphere, I'm going to call the kids." She picked up the comlink.
Breeep! Breeep! THUNK!
"HUTT SPAWN!" Jaina cursed as she hit the back of her head on the Swoop bike casing. She pulled the upper half of her body out of the fuselage, where she had been trying to repair the wires that "Sparky" had severed. Her hands and robes, and even her face were smudged with black grease, and her carefully tied pony tail had chunks of her falling about her face. "What are you laughing at?" She glared at her snickering brother.
"Alright!" She shouted at the comlink in her hand. She quickly pushed a small button on the side. "Jaina Solo." She said curtly.
"You sound frustrated." The familiar concerned voice of her mother filtered through the tiny device in her hand.
"Mom?" Jaina asked. "Are you and Dad almost here?"
"Mom and Dad are coming?" Jacen asked.
"Shhhh." Jaina put her finger to her lips and glared at him.
"We've just entered the atmosphere. If your father doesn't mess up I assume we'll be landing in approximately five minutes."
"Ha Ha." Her father said dryly. "Very funny Princess. You know, it's not nice to tease the pilot."
"How come no one ever tells me anything?" Jacen demanded.
Jaina shot Jacen a "I can't believe you won't stop talking," look. "We'll meet you on the landing pad." She told her mother.
"Good. See you in a few minutes." Leia switched off the intercom.
"By the moon of Endor, Jacen!" Jaina played slapped. "I was on the com!"
"No one ever tells me anything." Jacen grumbled, but immediately brightened. "Do you think mom brought the new focusing crystals for our light sabers?"
"Focusing crystals?" Jaina asked. "What focusing crystals? How come I didn't know about any focusing crystals?"
"Well, there aren't any focusing crystals... but see! Doesn't feel good to be left out of the plan now does it?" Jacen retorted.
Jaina stared at her twin. "I can't believe we're related." She smiled.
"Neither can I." Jacen said simply. "Come on; let's go see what the old "war horses" want."
"I'm telling them you said that."
"They'd never believe you, I'm the good one."
The two of them headed off to the landing pad, where the legendary freighter the Millenium Falcon was just about to touch down.
"Jacen! Jaina!" Leia cried as the stepped off the boarding ramp of the Falcon. "It's so good to see you!" She embraced her two children. "You're a mess." She appraised their grease stained faces, hands and clothes.
"There are my favorite twins in the galaxy." Han chuckled. "Come 'ere! ... On second thought, stay over there." He added, taking in the state of their clothes and bodies.
"Hey Dad." Jacen said, "Mom." He greeted, grinning the whole time. Sparky chattered at the Solo's, annoyed at the commotion, he had been perfectly happy in the Swoop bike. Things had only gone downhill when he ended up on this boy's shoulder.
"Jaina?" Her mother asked. "What's the matter, sweetie?" She noticed Jaina looking forlornly at another freighter about a hundred yards away on the other side of the pad.
"Huh?" Jaina snapped out of her thoughts. "Nothing Mom, I was just thinking."
"You two look like hell." Han stated.
"We were putting a Swoop back together." Jacen sighed. Han looked at him skeptically. "OK! OK, Jaina was putting the Swoop back together, but I took it apart."
Han laughed and clapped him on the shoulder.
"We have some business to take care of, why don't you two go and get cleaned up and we'll meet you after?" Leia asked hopefully.
"That sounds great Mom." Jaina dead panned, still looking at the Fantastic Kat.
"Wow." Willow said, opening her eyes. "I feel better."
"I'm glad." Tara smiled.
"No... like... I mean really. BETTER." Willow stressed. To prove her point she stood up quickly, and twisted her body around to test her newly healed ribs. "That's... wow... amazing." Willow grinned.
Tara laughed at Willow's child like amusement when they both heard a knock on the door. Tara stood quickly, smoothed her tunic, adjusted her robes and walked to the door, opening it for her guest on the other side.
"Tara." Master Kenoc greeted in his gravelly voice. "I see that the patient is feeling better." He grinned, at least to a Mon Cal it would be interpreted as a grin. To anyone who didn't know better it looked like he was baring his teeth.
"Hey, Fish-Bait," Willow apparently didn't know better. "Don't you go flashing your teeth at me or I'll-"
Tara's eyes bugged out of her head, her mouth opened and shut, she panicked and threw her hand over Willow's mouth before more obscenities came streaming out of it. "M-m-master K-kenoc," Tara stuttered out nervously. "I... she... oh... dear..." She circled her arm around Willow's waist, holding her back. Willow was struggling against Tara, obviously ready to fight the aged Jedi Master who had so insulted her.
"It's quite alright Tara." Master Kenoc laughed. "Willow," he said in a friendly voice. "I did not mean to alarm you. I was merely expressing my happiness that you were up and about. I hope that you will accept my apology." Tara felt Willow relax, and finally released her.
"I... oops." Willow blushed. "I thought... I am SO sorry." Willow quickly bowed as she had seen Tara do to the other Jedi during the day. "Here you are, being all nice to me. Getting Tara here to heal me up, and letting me park my ship for free. It is for free isn't it? I mean, we never really discussed that... but I just assumed... and then the smile, but I thought you were..."Tara returned her hand to Willow's mouth.
"She does that sometimes." Tara smiled, amused.
"I see." Master Kenoc chuckled. "Willow, I assure you, there is no harm done. I merely came to tell you that we have visitors who would wish to speak with you."
"Mmmphsisors?" Willow mumbled through Tara's hand. Tara quickly removed her hand yet again. "Visitors?" She repeated warily.
"Yes." Kenoc nodded. "General Solo and Chief of State Leia Solo."
"WHOAH." Willow put up her hands. "Whatever it was, I didn't do it. I swear. You saw me; I was in no shape to do ANYTHING." She looked desperately at Tara.
"I must admit Master Kenoc." Tara asked. "I am quite puzzled as to why the Solo's would wish to speak to Willow. Surely, whatever Willow's past; it cannot warrant the Chief of State or a General-"
"Hey!" Willow protested. "Don't downplay my past! I've done some pretty illeg- GOOD! Good things, for many, MANY people. Upholding the law and whatnot." Tara arched an eyebrow at Willow. "What?" Willow put up her hands.
"Well, whatever the reason, they DO wish to speak with you Willow." Kenoc waved a fin.
"When?" Willow gulped.
"Pretty much now." Leia's voice said from outside the door.
"So that's the fam." Faith said to no one in particular as she looked out of the blast shield of the Fantastic Kat. They looked like any family, talking easily with each other and smiling. She noticed that Jaina was covered in grime. She looks good, even when she's all messed up. Faith thought to herself. "Oh shit." Faith ducked as Jaina looked towards the ship.
"What are you doing Faith?" She asked herself, knocking her head against the chair a couple times. She sat there unmoving, she didn't know for how long. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. It was actually fifteen minutes and twenty three seconds.
"Faith?" she heard Jaina's voice call her.
As soon as her mother and father had left to take care of their business Jaina and Jacen started walking towards their quarters to get cleaned up.
"Darn it." Jaina stopped. She patted her pockets, and hit her hydro-spanner. "You know what? I think I forgot-" Jacen looked at her skeptically. "Oh screw it." Jaina threw her hands in the air. "I need to talk to Faith." She turned and ran back towards the landing pad. Jacen smiled after her.
Jaina's heard was pounding, both from the run and from nervousness. She stood at the entry way of the Kat and tried the hatch, it swung open easily. The dimly lit freighter seemed standard and Jaina started making her way through the ship.
"Faith?" She called. She moved into the cockpit, where she saw Faith sitting on the ground, knees drawn up to her chest, eyes shut. Her body shuddered gently as she tried to keep herself under control. "Faith..." Jaina said softly, crouching near her.
"You know," Faith said slowly. "I've never needed anyone." She opened her eyes and stared at Jaina. Hard. "It's always been just me. I've fucked a lot of girls." Faith noticed Jaina wince at the word "fucked." She reached out and put her hand on Jaina's arm. "You just... kinda grew on me... y'know?" Faith said, gritting her teeth. Don't cry.
"I know." Jaina said softly. "I was hoping that... maybe we could try... to... God, I don't know... be together?" Jaina searched for words. "I really like you, Faith." Jaina whispered. "And I don't want you to run the other way, just because of who my parents are. Just like I wouldn't run the other way because of who your parents are."
"Obviously you've never met my folks." Faith chuckled. "Did you know that after sex women release a hormone that causes them to be emotionally attached to their partner?" Faith asked.
"Ummm... No, I didn't." Jaina said confused.
"Well they do."
"I'm just sayin'." Faith grinned.
"Well alright then." Jaina laughed.
"You're all dirty." Faith said.
"Oh, yeah." Jaina groaned. "Jeez, I must look like a wreck. Probably should've taken a shower before I came to see you huh?" She wiped at her face, only smearing the grease around further.
"Nah." Faith grinned. "It's good to know that the Princess can get dirty sometimes." She said with an arched eyebrow.
"Faith!" Jaina gasped. But it was too late, because Faith had pulled Jaina into her arms and began kissing the living day lights out of her. Jaina responded instantly, winding her hand in Faith's hair, and pulling them even closer together, smearing the grease all over Faith's clothes as well. Faith's hand swiftly found Jaina's belt and began to unbuckle it when the comlink went off again.
"Damn this thing!" Jaina shouted snatching it off of her belt and throwing it against the wall. It broke into little pieces, but still the irritating alert tone sounded.
"Oh... It's mine." Faith grinned.
"Oh no." Jaina moaned, "Dad is going to KILL me."
"Faith." Faith answered.
"Faith?" Willow's nervous voice asked.
"Speaking." Faith said sweetly, with venom dripping in her tone.
"Normally I'd ask if I were interrupting anything, because I'm sure that I did. But the reason I'm calling is that I think we're in big trouble..."
"Whaddya mean trouble?" Faith asked, her brow knitted in concern.
"Well, right now I'm looking at Leia Organa Solo, and she wants to talk to both of us." Willow trailed off.
"I'll be right there." Faith sighed, switching off the comlink. "Me and Willow are toast." Jaina rubbed Faith's arm soothingly.
Willow paced around Luke Skywalker's private study nervously. Luke and Leia quietly discussed the logistics of providing a few Jedi to someone, Willow couldn't make it out. General Solo leaned against the wall coolly appraising Willow. Tara stood, hands clasped behind her back, attempting to exude calm through the Force to calm the agitated redhead.
"Willow!" A breathless Faith stood in the door. Jaina only a few steps behind her. The fact that Faith's shirt and face had a few smudges of grease to match Jaina's was noticed by everyone in the room. Han arched his eyebrow at his wife, who just shrugged.
Leia looked Willow over, she was taller than she'd expected, and well muscled. She looked odd in the Jedi tunic, which she assumed was on loan. She looked capable, but she was definitely not the hardened spacer she had expected.
"Well now that we're all here, I guess we should begin." Leia said slowly.
"Jacen's not here." Jaina stalled.
"Yeah I am." He grinned from the door. Immediately sensing the anxiety and worry in the room, he began sending soothing Force energy to everyone in the room.
"Thank you, Jacen." Luke nodded at him.
"You're welcome, Master Skywalker." Jacen bowed.
With everyone visibly more relaxed, Leia continued to speak. "You are Willow Rosenberg, are you not?"
"I am." Willow nodded.
"And you are Faith..." Leia faltered. "I'm afraid I don't know your surname." Leia apologized.
"Don't have one." Faith shrugged.
"Well then, Willow, Faith, how much do you know about Nuurba the Hutt?"
Willow stiffened. "Why?" She narrowed her eyes.
"Because the New Republic would like to see him fall. His smuggling and slaving operations have grown far too big. These are not activities that the New Republic sanctions."
"And yet slavery is alive and well in the galaxy, on almost every planet in fact." Willow said dryly. "Even Coruscant, if I'm not mistaken... That's where you live correct?"
"Yes." Leia said sadly. "I also don't need to tell you what kinds of steps have been taken to stop the slave trade. I think you keep close enough track of galactic affairs to know that all our attempts have been inefficient."
"Why talk to Willow?" Faith blurted out. "It's not as if she has the skinny on Nuurba. In fact, Nuurba wants her dead, how's she gonna help you?"
"We know that Nuurba has a two million credit bounty on your head," Leia said to Willow. "We also know about Buffy." She watched Willow carefully as a flash of pain and regret stormed across her face.
"If you know as much as you claim," Willow said coldly, fighting to keep her tears under control. "Then you'd know that dancing girls don't usually last two years, let alone the four that she would have been there, two months and eight days ago. I'm not going back in there for a body." Willow choked out.
Tara's mind was spinning. Buffy? An old lover perhaps? Despite herself, Tara felt herself grow jealous of the love that Willow still obviously held for Buffy. Get a grip. Jealousy, anger, these lead to the Dark side. A Jedi needs not these things...
"Then save the others." Leia urged the grieving young woman. "Don't let them fall to the same fate. You can stop Nuurba."
"Why her?" Faith interrupted. "I know she's got a past with Nuurba, but that doesn't explain why she's best for the job."
"We share a common enemy." Leia sighed. "Other than that, I don't know. I only know what the Force tells me."
"The answer is no." Willow clenched her jaw.
Jaina looked pleadingly at Faith. Faith just shrugged. Tara's emotions warred with each other; Leia looked at the floor and sighed. Han stepped up to bat.
"We know a lot about you Willow." Han said bluntly. "We know you've been involved in some... less than legal activities. In fact, we know enough to put you away for a very long time..."
"DAD!" Jacen and Jaina protested at the same time. Luke and Leia stood firm though, Han steeled himself, knowing that they needed to shut Nuurba down.
"You might want to think twice about your decision to help the New Republic. Your debt will go away. You'll have a clean slate. And enough credits to just settle down and disappear if that's what you want. And if she's still alive... you'll have Buffy." He added quietly.
"Prison wouldn't be that bad." Willow sighed. "I could stop running, three squares a day, I'm not seeing the bad here."
"Willow." Faith interjected. "I think we should do this."
Willow looked at Faith shocked.
"Now, we both know that I'm not the "throw myself on the sword" type." Faith said. "But Nuurba needs to pay for what he did too Buffy... She could still be there."
"You'd have help." Luke offered. "Jedi support, Tara, Jaina and Jacen."
Tara looked at Luke shocked. "M-me?" Tara stuttered. "I've never.... I mean... I've never been... anywhere."
Luke put his hand on her shoulder. "Jaina and Jacen have, and so have Willow and Faith. They are warriors. But a mission needs more than warriors to survive." Tara nodded.
"I understand, Master Skywalker." Tara bowed. "I will go, because it's the right thing to do..." She stared into Willow's green eyes. It's the right thing to do...
"Hutt-Spawn!" Willow threw her hands into the air. I knew that I'd do anything that she asked me to. "Alright," she said exasperatedly. "What's the plan? There is a plan right?" Tara smiled shyly at her.
"As a matter of fact there is." Leia brightened.