I Can Wait Forever
Prologue: Candid Confessions
Mon Calamari 11 weeks after The Unifying Force
“So, Kid, you want to tell me what’s on your mind?” Han sat down beside Kyp at the Dajirik table wiping the grime from his hands with a stained cloth and staring hard at the grey wall over Kyp’s head.
Kyp almost laughed. “You never needed the Force to read people, did you, Han?”
“Not when I have eyes, and you look like a Rancor just ate your best friend.” Han pinned Kyp with a look and frowned. “You’ve never come around to help me repair the Falcon, before, either.”
The Jedi Master felt a slight flush creeping to his cheeks for the first time in decades. “You needed an extra pair of hands. I’m not a bad mechanic, not as good as Jaina, but I can handle a hydrospanner when the need arises.”
“And ...” Han’s frown deepened. “This is about Jaina isn’t it? Is she in trouble again?”
Kyp shook his head. “No, she’s fine. It was rough going for a while, but she came out alright in the end. She’s stronger now, mature ... responsible ... She’s an excellent squadron commander and they’re damn lucky to have her.”
Han raised an eyebrow. “Uh huh.”
The younger man sighed, slumped his shoulders in defeat. Han was going to make him spell it out. “I love her, Han. There, I said it. I love your daughter. Jaina is the most stubborn, beautiful, infuriating, sexy, headstrong ...” Kyp rubbed his face with his hands, “Did I mention infuriating?”
“Yeah, Kid, you did.” Han gave the man his trademark lopsided grin. “So ...”
“So, go ahead and do it. I’ll even go out into the hanger so you don’t have a bloody mess to clean up inside the Falcon.”
Han was smirking, now. “Why would I have a mess to clean up?”
“I just confessed to loving your only daughter. Maybe we can come up with a way killing me won’t make a mess, a blaster maybe ...”
When Kyp slid off the bench and stood up, Han laid a hand on his arm to stop him. “Sit down, Kyp. I’m not going to shoot you just yet. First, we’re gonna have a little talk.” Han wasn’t smiling anymore. His tone was deadly serious, and Kyp could imagine the effect that tone had on Solo’s enemies. As it was, it gave Kyp a stomach ache. Feeling like an errant child, Kyp sat back down and folded his hands on the table and waited out the uncomfortable silence. “Are you sleeping with my daughter, Durron?”
Kyp gasped out the breath he’d been holding. “No! Han, I swear. I mean Jaina is a beautiful, desirable, young woman. Someday I would love to wake up beside her ...” A growl from Han that would make a Wookiee proud stopped Kyp’s rant and he backpedaled. “Wait, that didn’t come out right, what I meant was that I want her ...”
Han held up a hand. “Stop. If you say another word, I will definitely need to shoot you, and I won’t mind cleaning up the mess.”
“Marry her.” Kyp finished in a rush. “I want to marry Jaina, and spend the rest of my life with her.”
“Why do you want to marry my little girl? My barely twenty year old little girl?”
Kyp ran a hand through his hair and tried to pin down some sort of reason to what he felt for Jaina. He couldn’t. “It’s not that easy, Han. I’ve known Jaina since she was a toddler. She’s had a ‘secret’ crush on me from the time she was old enough to notice me. I’ve watched her grow up. I tried to think of her as a little sister, but in the last year or so I’ve gotten to really know the woman Jaina is becoming. The real Jaina, the one she doesn’t let anyone see, not even her parents.
“Losing Anakin, and Jacen too for a while, nearly killed Jaina. In fact, I think it probably did kill something in her. When I found her, she was a shimmering ball of rage. Nothing mattered except hate and death to all Vong, her need for revenge. That was me, Han. I found myself looking into a mirror of myself at her age, and damn it ... I hated what I saw. There was no way in hell I was going to stand by and let Jaina ruin her life and her future the way I did. It took everything I have in me, and every trick, every hard lesson I’ve learned to nudge her back from the edge. I helped her focus that rage even when it meant having the force of it turned on me. If I could just get her back into the light, I knew she would be okay. Jaina wouldn’t have to live the way I’ve lived, with no home, no loved ones, nothing to look forward to in her future. She wouldn’t be exiled and despised throughout the galaxy for the rest of her life for something she did when she was an angry, hurting teen. I gave her internal guidance system a nudge here and there. She gave me ...” Kyp choked on the word. He couldn’t say it aloud, not even to Han who deserved nothing less that the whole truth.
“What did she give you, Kid?”
“Hope.” Kyp whispered, feeling the sting of tears trying to form, and he ruthlessly pushed the uncomfortable emotions away. “And the hard kick in the backside I sorely needed to make me finally grow up. We connected. I understand her, and ... she trusts me. Force knows I don’t deserve it, but she does. She understands the person I was when I destroyed Carrida. She’s one of the only Jedi who doesn’t lower her eyes and walk faster when I pass by like I’m still the monster I was fifteen years ago.
“I can’t say exactly when I realized I loved her, but it might have had something to do with her smacking me across the face after the stupid stunt I pulled on her at Sernpidal.”
Han nodded. “That hurt her.”
“I know. I never want to hurt her again, Han. It’s taken a while for me to realize just how bad off I am, but I think that night was the beginning of the end for me. If I lost Jaina now, after spending the last year getting to really know her ... I’d probably just do the galaxy a favor and fly into an asteroid or something. I don’t want to live a life without Jaina in it. Even if she never loves me the way I love her: Even if she married someone else, someone more deserving of her. At least she doesn’t look at me with fear and revulsion in her eyes. That means more to me than you can know. I don’t expect you to understand ...”
“Listen, Kid, I do understand. I may not have destroyed a star system, but I was an orphan, and before Chewie and Leia became my family, I lived a life I’m not proud of. Look at me now. A rogue, Corellian smuggler should never have had a chance with Princess Leia Organa. I almost lost her at least once, and I would have deserved it. For reasons I still can’t explain, she made room for me in her world. Sometimes I still can’t believe my luck. That’s what it is, you know, lucky. I know it wasn’t all roguish, scoundrel charm.” Han gave a self conscious laugh. “That and Leia was young, and didn’t know better than to stay far away from men like me. Jaina’s tough and smart, and she got my luck and my charm. I pity you, because she’s also got her mother’s sheer stubbornness and fiery temper. I have to give credit to Luke and his Jedi that my children grew up as level headed as they did. It’s hard enough to grow to adulthood without mystical, mumbo jumbo powers.”
Kyp found it endearing that after all the years with the Skywalker clan, Han still considered the Force to be mumbo jumbo.
“I don’t doubt Jaina needed you after we lost Anakin. I’m grateful you could get through to her, because we tried and it was like we were speaking Huttese at her. I didn’t worry so much with you looking out for her, but I’m never going to persuade my wife to see you as anything but a Star Destroyer sized pain in Luke’s ass. If Leia hears you have your heart set on Jaina, there’s going to be hell to pay.”
Han stood up and gave Kyp a pat on the shoulder. “I don’t think you came here to ask my permission, Kid, but for what it’s worth ... you have it. It doesn’t take mystical powers to know that you fit well together. Just take things slow, okay? That’s my little girl you’re trying to marry, and if you hurt her, I still know a Wookiee or two who would be happy to rip both your arms off.” Han gave him a smile that was more predatory than Kyp had ever seen from the man before.
“Jaina’s twenty years old, Han.” Kyp raised his hand in an ‘I surrender’ gesture. “I can wait. It’s enough for me that she’s happy. Safe would be a plus, too, after the war. I’ll be there for her, let her cry on my shoulder when she needs to, and I’ll tell her hard truths when she needs to hear from someone she respects. That will be enough for me, because it has to be.”
That seemed to satisfy Han. He nodded, and stood up. “Nice talking to you, Kid. I have to get back to work on that bad hyperdrive motivator. Oh, and speaking of motivators,” Han called over his shoulder. “Stay out of my daughter’s bed, or I’ll have to talk to Mara. She’ll kill you, and probably enjoy doing it.”
Kyp dropped his head onto the Darjirik table with a thump. “Sithspawn.”
“Not quite, but Mara is a terrifying woman. Poor Luke ...”
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