Title: Chasing Dreams Author: JadeLotus Rating: PG Category: Romance, Angst Setting: 2 years post-NJO Characters: Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, Ben Skywalker, Callista Ming Summary: After the Vong war, The Skywalker’s are yet again plagued with turmoil – this time from the ghosts of the past. A/N: This was my first ever chaptered SW fic, posted all the way back in 2005 (almost ten years ago - wow, time flies!) It was written just prior to the publication of the Dark Nest trilogy, and at that time was canon compliant - subsequent books may have made some of these events AU now though so if there are any discrepancies that is the reason. I thought it was lost forever due to the board move, but the lovely @Hazel found a copy - thanks gal! I will try to post the whole fic over the next week or so. Cover Art: ******************************************************** They still had so many dreams to chase – Kathy Tyers, Balance Point, p.40. ******************************************************** Skywalker Apartment, Coruscant, 32 Years after the Battle of Yavin Something was different, and it had stirred Mara from the haven of a dreamless sleep into the cold, awaiting arms of semi-consciousness. Too irritated to surrender just yet, she stubbornly clamped her eyes shut and attempted to fling herself back into that previous state of contentment. Instead, Mara dangled precariously in half-awareness, unable to calm her mind and drift back to sleep. Annoyed, she stretched out her senses to locate the source of her wakening. And make it pay, she smiled to herself. The cool Coruscant breeze drifted in from the balcony. It was sweeter than Mara had ever remembered it, free from the heat the city-dwellers had created before the Vong reshaping. And quiet. Coruscant had never been so still, so cautious, almost as if the entire city rested on its haunches, waiting for an attack. The rebuilding had begun, of course, and after two years of peace, had been vastly restored to its former glory. However, it had lost the brilliant nightlife the planet had been so famous for. The bright lights, colours and sounds that had made Coruscant the centre of both Republics. Mara thought it ludicrous, but the city itself had lost its confidence, and it seemed to be, like herself, stirring warily from a long sleep. But that wasn't what had woken her. They had been in this apartment for a month now, and she had reconciled the Coruscant she now lived in to the one in her memory. It hadn’t been Ben – a quick force probe confirmed he was safely asleep in the next room. And dreaming of star dragons. Mara shivered as the breeze touched her lightly with chilled fingertips. It was then she realised the strangeness that had woken her. Stretching out with deft fingers and the Force, Mara realised she was alone in the bed. Marriage had, in more ways than one, been an uncomfortable jolt for Mara. It might have seemed like a small adjustment, but sharing her bed with another person had proved unbelievably difficult. His mere presence had bothered her the first few months. Mara had not slept in the most comfortable places over the years, but she had always been more or less alone. After her marriage she felt stifled. She did not like to be held. It wasn't through any lack of love for Luke, far from it, it was simply that she was used to being able to stretch out, to turn during the night without crashing into a lump of sleeping Skywalker. Eventually, though, she was able to condition herself, to slowly close the space between them, extending her comfort zone to include him. It was almost ironic that now she would be woken by the very absence of his arms around her. It was one of those uncharacteristically sentimental thoughts that she had always teased Luke for having. But she allowed them, now, deep in her heart. Mara pried open her eyes to peer through the darkness. Her husband stood silhouetted against the partially rebuilt cityscape. Carefully, she shielded herself, so not to alert him of her wakened state. She wouldn’t have Luke notice her just yet, not when she could indulge herself by merely watching him. There had not been many moments in the past few years when she had been able to bask in his mere presence. There had been the horrible effects of her illness where she had barely allowed herself anything but to retreat inside her own body, chasing her elusive destructors. And there had been the war, so long and painful, where death stalked them at every corner of the galaxy, where fear for her son clouded her judgment and thoughts. And even before that, when they had been newlyweds, they had been apart more often than together. Luke had been needed at the Academy and Mara had reconciled herself to jaunting across the galaxy with Mirax. A small amount of regret lingered about for those days, where she had journeyed to Yavin IV as little as possible. Perhaps if Mara had known what was to come, she would have acted differently. Perhaps not. But relief flooded her that those days were behind them, at least for the moment. The war had ravaged many families, many lives, but there was peace now. At least, as close to peace as the galaxy ever seemed to get. Luke, however, did not seem to be in harmony with Mara’s mood. He stood utterly still, leaning slightly against the railing of their balcony, contemplating the skyline. But she felt his tumultuous emotions brewing just below the surface. Deftly, Mara crawled out of bed and moved over to him, the breeze chilling her skin further. “I thought you were asleep,” he said quietly as she approached, still gazing off into the distance. “I was.” She slipped her arms around his waist, her fingers locking themselves across his stomach. Her hands were cold, but so was his skin. “You’re thinking too loudly.” “I’m sorry,” he muttered distractingly, but relaxing almost unconsciously against her. “It’s alright,” she answered softly. “After ten years I should be used to it.” He didn’t answer, but then, Mara hadn’t expected him to. She had learned long ago to recognise the subtle changes in Luke’s mood, to understand the times when her teasing would not be appropriate. He gave her no less in return. Mara rested her cheek softly against his back, between his shoulder blades. “What are you thinking?” she asked finally, when it became clear he wasn't about to instigate conversation. There was silence for several moments. Anyone else would have thought the Jedi Master was ignoring them, but Mara knew he was simply considering his answer. “I was thinking about the city,” he said finally, softly. “So was I,” she said, not really all that surprised. It wasn't uncommon for their thoughts to connect like that. Mara felt, rather than saw, his smile. “I know,” he responded. She snorted in an unbecoming fashion. So he had known she’d been awake. And he’d waiting for her to come to him, the Sith. Mara released her light grip around him and slipped around to his left side, until she was standing next to him at the railing. “I was thinking how this was never really my home,” he continued, undeterred by her movements. “Home was Tatooine, or Yavin, even in my X-wing. Or more recently,” he snuck a glance at her, “On the Shadow.” He sighed. “I just…habitated here, occasionally. But now…” Mara knew what he meant. Coruscant had never really been her home either. It was difficult coming to terms with building one here. “We’ve still got the Shadow,” she reminded him. “Yeah,” his mouth twitched in the beginnings of a grin. “But you don’t really have the best track record in that area, do you?” A playful, yet quite forceful swipe at his head was her answer. He ducked it easily and showed her two sets of teeth. “It least it’s not falling apart, like that overgrown escape pod of yours,” she snapped. “Nothing wrong with sticking to a classic,” he grinned. “Yeah, classic pain in the bantha hide,” she mumbled. But she ran her fingers affectionately up his arm and rested her head gently on his shoulder. “Now what were you really thinking about?” Mara knew better than anyone when someone was trying to deflect a question. Luke sighed, bringing his other hand to rest on the railing. “Do you think I did the right thing, transplanting the Academy here?” Mara considered his question. They had begun to make preparations for a new Jedi Academy, and the fledging Coruscant seemed to be the most obvious choice. But she knew Luke agonised over the decision. Distance from the centre of the galaxy and all of his politicians, temptations and distractions was why he had chosen Yavin IV in the first place. But things were different now. “I trust your judgment Luke,” she answered cautiously. “Maybe access to a bit of the real galaxy will give the new students a bit of perspective. And this is where the Council is.” “And every other political body out to exploit them.” Mara sighed. “I thought I was the pessimist in this relationship?” “Come on, Mara,” he began to smile again. “What do you always tell Ben about sharing?” She felt a slight tugging on the edge of her lips. “Yes but I’m his mother. ‘Do what I say, not what I do’.” “I hope that’s not the same philosophy you apply to your Jedi teaching,” he said in mock seriousness. “Well, I did learn from the Master,” she allowed her characteristic sarcasm to creep into her voice. “Seriously though, Luke,” she said before he could come up with an appropriate retort. “The last thing you want is an order of monks, locked away in their ivory towers. Learning to deal with temptation early on can only help them when they become true Jedi.” “Ah, and guardians of peace and justice,” he added, drawing his gaze back to the city. The look in his eye told her he was, once again, looking to the past. “Yes, that too.” Mara gently turned him back to face her. Sinuously, she reached up to slide her arms around his neck, placing a soft kiss to the cleft in his chin. “All you can give is your best, Luke.” His own arms tightened around her. “I know,” he replied softly. “I try.” Mara didn’t bother to remind him of Yoda’s old adage, she knew it was already on his mind. Instead, she held him as the minutes drifted by as he contemplated, and Mara allowed herself to drink in and indulge herself in his presence. For the moment at least, there was complete peace. “Now,” he said finally, breaking out of his reverie as he pulled her backwards into the apartment. “I better come back with you to bed. I wouldn’t want you to be lonely and unable to sleep." His eyes twinkled mischievously. The blasted eavesdropper, Mara fumed inwardly. “You’ll be lucky if I ever sleep with you again, Skywalker,” she growled. His answering laugh was the most comforting thing she’d heard in a long time.