The Seven-Foot Itch Rating: PG
Thrawn McEwok

The Council Chamber feels like the very focus of the Force. Sunlight streams through the broad widows, and the vistas of an endless city and a boundless sky are almost too vast to comprehend.

Inside the Chamber, a ring of Masters are seated in their chairs, their thoughts serious in the Force — their collective attention settled on the open space defined by the circle of their seats.

Jaina Solo steps into the centre, and stops. She settles her weight on her heels, adjusts the rhythm of her breathing, and her eyelids flutter shut, as she organizes herself around the life of the twins in her belly.

"Jedi Solo," Uncle Luke asks, and she blinks her eyes, and looks at him.

"One moment," she replies. She's always been a fighter, and she doesn't even need to think to understand her role as defender of the life she's now guarding. Perhaps everything else has just been a training for this.

She straightens her back a little, and breathes out.

"Okay," she nods. "I'm ready now."

She feels a ripple of unease from the assembled Masters. The pregnancy shows clearly on her slight frame, her belly curved out gracefully between the lapels of her Jedi robe.

She allows a smile to play across her lips, and gently lulls her babies for a moment.

She looks around the room at them — surprised at the clarity with which she can see them. Aunt Mara is unreadable, hiding behind her caution. Corran Horn feels like he'd rather be somewhere else.

She offers Kyp Durron an apologetic smile, which he answers by shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

Last of all, she settles her gaze on her uncle again.

"Master Skywalker?" she asks.

He looks back at her: blue eyes that shine like desert skies, a face that seems softer as well as wiser because of the scars, and iron-blond hair still worn in a short military style.

He sits lightly in the Grand Master's throne, with the poise of an X-wing pilot.

"Jaina," he says. "Jedi Solo. I take it you don't deny that you used the Force to help you conceive the twins you're currently so visibly expecting ...?"

From his place by the door — beyond the ring of Masters' chairs — Lowie growls an answer.

She grins to hear the music of his voice, but she waves her hand at him, gently batting his concern for her away.

"It's okay, Streak, I can handle this." As she speaks, she thinks better of it, though. She turns and glances over her shoulder at him.

She meets his bright blue eyes, and her smile becomes an echo of his bared fangs.

Say hello to daddy, she whispers to her son and daughter.

And then, she turns back to face Uncle Luke — they turn, she realises, with a vertiginous moment of awareness. It's not just her any more — she's a shawl of light wrapped around the life of her twins, a mother and a Jedi defense-mechanism.

"Considering that their father is a Wookiee," she smiles, "I think it's fair to say that the Force helped us in this, yes."

She can't believe that anyone on the Council wasn't expecting that admission, but the response is still a sort of quiet uproar. She's amused to observe the effect that ideas can have on Jedi — on the Force.

"Knight Solo." Uncle Luke's posture has shifted a little. "Did Knight Lowbacca know?"

"Did he know we were sexual partners?" she asked. "I'd hope so. Did he know that I was going to get pregnant by him ...? No, I didn't tell him. I didn't plan ahead much, Uncle Luke."

Lowie's silence behind her serves to give the weight of honesty to her words. She smiles, bows her head, and lulls the babies for a moment longer — two bright sparkle-shimmers of life inside her.

No-one says anything for several heartbeats. Jaina is surprised at how calm she feels.

"You're making this situation very complicated, Jaina," Cilghal says, eventually. She turns, her boot-heels singing on the marble floor, and looks for a moment at the Mon Calamari Jedi Master. Cilghal's people admire order, peace, and simple elegance, traits that once made them heroes of the Rebellion, and which now make them a bulwark of the Alliance government.

Jaina quirks a Corellian eyebrow, and feels a sudden urge to play.

"I know I am," she smiles. "I'm interested to see what the Order will do about it." She takes a breath, and turns back to Luke — another bow. "The only formal statement I'll submit is that I don't believe that any censure should fall on Lowie for what was entirely my decision — his decision to support me is, I think, a measure of his loyalty and decency. Of course, I'm biased."

"Some might call that an un-Jedi attitude, Jedi Solo." Aunt Mara's voice has an edge today. That's understandable. She's concerned about all sorts of things — the Order, the media, the government, her niece, her own son. Disappointed, perhaps. "You'll have seen the statements in the press, I'm sure — respectable experts, even some Jedi Masters, briefing that what you've done is borderline Dark Side at best."

She shrugs at that.

"You can throw me out of the Order if you want, but I've told Lowie that I want to leave, anyway." She pauses, allowing them to hear his voice, the melodies of support and gentle dissent. "I stand here as a mother, answerable to her children and her lover. I've made mistakes, but I don't think this is the first. We all have life to live. I think, sometimes, we can forget that in this place."

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Cilghal offering her the Cal equivalent of a frown. Then she bows her head, and waits to hear how the Masters are going to deal with the complicated situation she's created.

"Jaina," Uncle Luke says. "Perhaps if you and Lowie would withdraw while we deliberate."

"Of course, Masters," she says — and turns, and walks out of the circle of the Council Chamber for the last time. Even if the Council decides to let her off with a light rap on the knuckles, she isn't planning on remaining a Jedi.

Lowie falls in step beside her, and as the doors slide open in front of them, her fingers touch the hair on the back of his paw.

Hand in hand, they step out together, into a wider world.


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