Always: Return of the Jedi
by: Trickster_Jaina_Fel

Disclaimer:Anything remotely distinguishable from the Star Wars universe, whether places, people, or things, obviously don't belong to me but to their wonderful creators. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.

Summary: AU fic about 15 years after YJK: Crisis at Crystal Reef. Jacen Solo tells his niece and nephew various stories of their parents' past. First up, how Zekk met the Solo twins.

Characters: Jacen Solo, Jaina Solo, Zekk, Padmé and Mikhail (OC's

A/N: This is my first Star Wars fanfic. I plan on telling a bunch of little stories regarding the Solo twins and their friends (mainly Zekk and Jaina), so if anyone has any suggestions for a story they'd like to see Jacen tell, let me know!

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Part One

"You know, there was a time when your parents weren't always this lovey-dovey."

"Nuh-uh!" twin voices cried out in shocked response.

The thirty-one year old Jedi looked at his young niece and nephew, a serious expression crossing his boyish features. He brushed aside a stray piece of hair from his brandy-brown eyes. He reached across the table to pick up a lone piece of fruit. Taking a big bite, he looked at his six-year-old charges.

"Not going to believe an old Jedi Master like me," he asked in between bites.

Mikhail laughed, briefly turning his stool away from his uncle to exchange a skeptical glance with his twin sister, Padmé. Both giggled as Mikhail earnestly replied, "Your not old, Uncle Jacen!"

"Grandma and Grandpa are," Padmé finished for her brother.

Jacen Solo coughed, trying hard not to choke on the piece of Dathomirian pear. "Don't ever let them catch you saying that. Dad still thinks he can make the Kessel Run faster than anyone else, and as for your grandmother… Force help the fool who considers her an old lady!"

Padmé wrinkled her noise in confusion, shoulder length hair a shade lighter than black flying as she shook her head in disagreement. "But she is old!"

"Yeah," her brother chimed in. "So's Uncle Luke and Aunt Mara."

Jacen bowed his head, shaking it slightly in his hand. Did he and his siblings act like this when they were the twins' age? He couldn't remember, and wasn't quite sure if he even wanted to. At least a debate over whether or not his parents could be considered old was an improvement over their activities earlier in the day. The twins had more energy than anyone he could imagine and had spent most of the day running around the Hapan Palace, driving himself, and a handful of royal guards, insane. He really hoped that Calli, his year old daughter, never took after her older cousins. Really hoped.

Jacen sighed. Only time would tell. Till then, he had a couple of mischievous six year olds to look after. He watched them as they played with their drinks, hot chocolate he had found lying around one of the many palace kitchens. Padmé was swirling her chocolate with a spoon, her brown eyes watching the vortex intently. Unlike his sister, Mikhail seemed more interested in the mug itself, his piercing green eyes tracing the patterns on the ceramic.

"Uncle Jacen, tell us a story?" Padmé asked, breaking the silence that had taken over the room.

"Yeah," Mikhail spoke up, his eyes peering into Jacen's from underneath his brown bangs. "About a time when Mommy and Daddy weren't so icky."

Finally, it seemed like that good 'ole Solo luck was returning. The kids didn't want to play hide and seek, or tag, or any of their other crazy games anymore. They wanted a story, thank the Force! Jacen leaned back into his chair as he took another bite of the pear, considering what he should tell them. There was always the Shadow Academy, but that might be so good for the six-year-old twins. Or he could tell them of the defeat of the Empire, which took place years before even Jacen was born. But they had heard that one plenty of times as well. Jacen was sure of it. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head.

"How about when we first met your father? Your mother wasn't particularly fond of him at the time. Definitely means no icky stuff."

"Mommy never told us that," Padmé whispered in amazement, wide-eyed.

"Daddy never too," Mikhail finished, taking a sip of his cocoa and looking at Jacen expectantly.

The Jedi chuckled. "Well, I believe we've found our story then. It's a good one. One of the many crazy mixed-up stories of our youth. And of what not to do, too, of course," Jacen added in as an afterthought. "So, let's see…"

"We - your mother, uncle Anakin, and I - had only been home on Coruscant for a couple of weeks from our, um, eventful trip to Corellia. On that historic day, your grandparents were busy running the galaxy, as usual, and left us in Threepio's care. So we talked him into taking us to the Holographic Zoo…"

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Part Two

"Jasa, wait up!" Nine-year-old Jaina Solo shouted to her twin brother as he ran past her. "Jacen!"

The boy came to a halt, midway between the exhibits of Hothan tauntauns and Nabooian Peko Pekos. He turned around to face his sister, brandy-brown eyes staring into those of their twin, a slight annoyance gracing his features.

"Do you want Threepio to hear us," he asked sharply as Jaina jogged towards him.

"Of course not," Jaina retorted. "But you were moving too fast for me!"

"That's cause you're a slowpoke. I should've taken Anakin."

Jaina glared at her brother, placing her hands on her hips. "I know you're in a hurry to see the Mantellian Horn Blowers, but that's no reason to leave me behind! And Anakin's slower than me anyway! You know that!"

Jacen rolled his eyes at his sister. She had a point, and Anakin always made the better distraction for the golden droid anyway. Still, he wasn't going to give in that easily. "That's Ord Mantellian Horn Blowers, Jaya. And the performance is supposed to be any minute now!"

"What are we waiting for, then?"

With that, the girl sprinted in their original direction. Jacen watched her, perplexed. "Girls," he muttered under his breath in disbelief and aggravation. It took him a couple of seconds before he realized that his sister wasn't waiting up for him this time. Wide-eyed, Jacen gaped as he watched her retreating body move further and further away. It took him a couple of more seconds to realize he better run after her.

"You and Mommy were like me and Padmé," Mikhail asked his uncle in disbelief, interrupting the story telling. His emerald eyes glowed with excitement, evident as his voice picked up speed. "You'd run away from Threepio and play tricks on 'im and…"

Jacen laughed and reached over to ruffle Mikhail's hair. By now, he and the twins had moved from the table to the to a kitchen corner, each twin leaning on one side of their uncle. "Yes, Miki, we could be. I don't know if anyone can compare to the two of you, though your mom and I sure did try."

"Wow," Padmé whispered. "I can't wait to ask Mommy!"

"Oh no you won't," Jacen said, realizing how angry Jaina would be if she were to find out that he had been filling her children's heads with stories of the mischievous youth. "If you dare tell my dear sister, I'm pretty sure that'll be the end of visits with your uncle Jacen."

Both twins protested to Jacen's response, but the man silenced them. "Don't you two want to hear more of my story?"

Mikhail and Padmé exchanged glances with each other. Jacen tried not to gulp. He really hoped they wouldn't run off again. Chasing them once through the garden maze had been enough. And with two Force sensitive twins sensing his presence… It really had been a long day.

"Okay," Padmé began.

"We guess so," Mikhail finished.

Jacen smiled. Victory was his. "Let's see. Where were we?"

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Part Three

Jacen stood outside of the refresher, tapping his foot impatiently on the metallic floor as he waited for his sister. She had told him that she would only be a second. That was many seconds ago, and the young boy was eager to see more exhibits before finding C-3P0 and returning home to Imperial Palace. What was taking her so long?

The boy sighed. "Girls," he muttered for possibly the fifth time that day, leaning against the wall next to the door to the 'fresher. He glanced around, watching the multitudes of humans and aliens - of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages - pass him by. It entertained him for all of a split second.

Feeling restless, Jacen pushed himself from the wall, darting through the menagerie of bodies to the opposite side of the hall and back again. Not watching where he was going, Jacen never noticed the other boy heading straight in a collision course towards him.

"Ouch!" Jacen clutched his head, rubbing an area right below his curly brown hair where he had banged into the boy's chest.

"Why don't you watch where you're going?" the other kid snapped, glaring at the smaller boy.

Jacen looked up at the words, studying the person he collided into. He looked to be about two or three years older, maybe about a fistful of centimeters taller, with a wiry build, wild shoulder length hair a shade lighter than black, and sparkling emerald green eyes that were currently crossed in annoyance. But to Jacen, the strange boy seemed like he could be a new friend.

Acting on the instinct, Jacen held out his hand. "I'm Jacen," he said, looking the boy in the eyes as if daring him to ignore him.

The taller boy looked at Jacen's face, his eyes briefly darting to the younger boy's outstretched hand. He lifted a hand forward, and then paused, like he was considering the offer of friendship, before firmly grasping Jacen's. "Zekk," he replied.

Jacen smiled broadly, a grin that many had told him in the past made him look like a miniature version of his father. "It's nice to meet ya." Zekk nodded, and Jacen took it as a sign to keep talking. "So, where're you from? Do you come to the zoo often? What's your favorite exhibit here?"

"Uh…" Zekk glanced around nervously, caught off guard by Jacen's multiple questions. He was saved from answering when a pretty, brown haired girl resembling Jacen walked out of the refresher and towards the two boys. Jacen turned as if somehow sensing her presence. He ignored Zekk for a moment to greet the girl.

"Jaina," Jacen exclaimed as his sister approached. "You have to meet Zekk! He's from…you know, I don't know where he's from. But I met him while waiting for you. It took you long enough. About..."

Jacen glanced down at his wrist to see the time, oblivious to whatever it was that his sister was telling him. His eyes widened in shock when he realized that his wrist chronometer was gone. "Jaya, Zekk - have either of you seen my chronometer?"

"That's what I've been trying to tell you, Jasa." Jaina stood matter-of-factly, hands on hips, shaking her head at her twin. "There's no one here but us. I thought I saw a kid talking to you, but he disappeared as soon as you turned around."

Jacen's brandy-brown eyes grew bigger. "What? But… Zekk! I coulda sworn… He was here a moment ago. And so was my wrist…" Realization dawned on the boy. "Blaster bolts!" he stated, earning a glare from his sister. "Zekk must've slipped it off my wrist when we were shaking hands."

"Jacen," Jaina scolded. "What were you thinking?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Don't know, but we have to find him. That chronometer was a gift from Uncle Lando!"

"Uncle Jasa, why would Daddy take your chronometer? Didn't he have his own?" Mikhail asked. Padmé looked up at Jacen earnestly, wanting to an explanation as well. "Well?" the boy reiterated, growing impatient.

Jacen cleared his throat nervously. Zekk was not going to be happy if he ever found out that Jacen told his young, impressionable kids about his less respectable days growing up in the streets of Coruscant. Ah well, Jacen thought, it was definitely worth the chance to embarrass his brother-in-law. But how to approach the subject…

"Well, growing up in the lower levels of Coruscant was not easy for your father. He sometimes had to, uh, steal in order to be able to afford food. Now, since both of you are the children of a Jedi Knight and Squadron leader, I expect never to hear that you two have been caught stealing… But the truth of the matter is, he didn't really steal it, as you two would've found out if you hadn't interrupted."

"Okay, Uncle Jacen. Can we go back to the story now? Pretty please?" Padmé said, speaking for both herself and her brother. Apparently his brief explanation was enough, though Jacen had a bad feeling that the twins might be waiting to question their parents instead of him.

"Hey, you were the ones who stopped me," Jacen looked at each twin. "But if you insist…"

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Part Four

Jaina Solo felt as if she had been searching for this kid all day. Jacen and his stupid idea to split up. "We can find him more easily if there are two of us searching," he had assured his sister. Jaina snorted. She didn't even know what the boy looked like, having only caught a glimpse of him when he and Jacen had been talking outside the 'fresher.

She sent a wave of annoyance through the Force to her brother. The plan was to meet back at the rancor exhibit in fifteen minutes, with or without the boy…Zekk, Jaina remembered. At the moment, it seemed likely that she'd be returning without him. The girl hoped that her brother had better luck. She really didn't want to explain to Mom and Dad why Jasa lost his watch.

Walking past an exhibit on banthas, Jaina had to resist the urge to stop and study the holoprojector. She never quite understood why Jasa was always more interested in the animals themselves than the machines which created them. Oh well…she always knew her twin was odd.

As Jaina walked down the hall, she could've sworn she saw a familiar dark haired boy standing a little further in front of her, leaning against a wall, quietly watching as people passed by. Jaina stopped in her tracks, looking the boy over. From where she stood, she could easily see his messy long black hair covering the sides of his face, his tall lanky form guarded, and expressive green eyes watching. She felt a slight flutter in her stomach and looked briefly downward. Where had that come from?

When Jaina looked back up again, the boy was no longer standing against the wall. In fact, he was approaching her, at a rather quick pace. Jaina felt frozen to her tracks as he came closer. Finally, he stopped, half a meter or so away from her. His emerald eyes looked directly into Jaina's as she looked up at him. She opened her mouth to speak, but he beat her too it.

"You're that kid's sister, right? Jason, or something like that?"

"Jacen," Jaina corrected. "Zekk?"

He nodded and looked down as he reached his right hand into a pocket in his pants. Jaina watched as his hand searched for something in the pocket. After a few seconds that seemed to last forever in the silence, he pulled his hand upward, finding whatever it is he was looking for. Her eyes widened when she saw that it was a wrist chronometer. And not just any wrist chronometer! Jasa's!

He hastily reached over the space between them, grabbing her arm and shoving the chronometer in her hand. Jaina looked down at the chronometer that now lay clutched in her hand, and then back up at the boy, her brandy-brown eyes perplexed.

"Why'd you take it?" she asked simply.

Zekk's face flushed a pale pink. He looked downward for a second, embarrassed. "I didn't," he mumbled, almost inaudible.


"When your brother made me shake hands, it got caught on my jacket sleeve," Zekk explained, looking directly at Jaina now. "I didn't realize until I had left."

"You disappeared," Jaina accused. "We thought you stole the 'nometer."

Zekk shrugged. "I'm not a thief. I would've returned it, if I knew where to look for you."

"You knew."

He smirked. "Maybe, maybe not. How was I supposed to know you'd stay put?"

Jaina glared, her eyes narrowing at the boy. However, before she had a chance to respond, she heard Jacen's voice echoing down the hall, shouting her name.


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