Beyond Chasing Dreams (L/M, post-NJO, repost) Update 23 November

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JadeLotus, Aug 13, 2014.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    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:

    [IMG]



    ********************************************************

    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.
    Last edited by JadeLotus, Nov 23, 2014 at 4:35 AM
    Gemma and force.net.login like this.
  2. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] Mara's initial musings and then her wise and snarky comments [face_love] She is just just just what the Master needs [face_laugh] ... professionally and personally. [face_love]
  3. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

    It's back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [face_dancing]

    *tackle/hugs* for @JadeLotus for writing it (this is how we became buddies, gal *sniff*) and @Hazel for keeping it safe!!! [:D]
    Gemma and Nyota's Heart like this.
  4. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    I don't think I've read this one! Yay!!! :)
  5. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Very nice. I can't remember if I read this when you originally posted it. My memory sucks. I look forward to reading more.
  6. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 5
    Oh I just love this fic so much. I remember reading it in one night back when I was a little nooblet here. I am VERY glad you found it and decided to repost it so I can show you my love for it on every chapter.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  7. Gemma Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 25, 2013
    star 3
    I love Mara's thoughts on learning how to share the bed when she was used to sleeping alone. And thanks to @Hazel for having this --- I've never read this one before. Thanks for the repost @JadeLotus.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  8. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart - Absolutely! ;)

    @ginchy - I remember! [:D] I believe you were the one who encouraged the feverish-Mara-in-Luke's-bed subplot :D

    @taramidala - It was before the dark times, before...LOTF. :p

    @Jedi_Lover - Thanks! :)

    @Briannakin - Aw, thank you! :) It was a long time ago on boards far away...

    @Gemma - Yeah, I have trouble with that, and thought Mara would be the same.:) Hope you enjoy!
  9. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    Skywalker Apartment, Coruscant. 32 ABY.


    Few things frustrated Mara Jade Skywalker like the morning antics of her son. Unfortunately, Ben had not inherited her sense of personal discipline, having little to no concept of the phrase on time. In fact, Mara rather thought he enjoyed dragging out every possible moment and creating every possible problem for her in the morning rush. Mara herself had never really grown out of the routine she employed while in the service of the Emperor. She had every moment planned to the second, ensuring she made it to her destination exactly on time. Too early or too late had always been unacceptable.

    The trouble was, Ben was a variable that could not be tamed.

    Her five-year old son sat on the couch, grinning adorably at her while he attempted to tie the laces on his small boots. A quick check to her chrono confirmed that they had no hope of making it to the Jedi Temple in time for their appointment with Tionne. Not that the gentle-hearted Jedi would mind the delay, it was simply that punctuality was something Mara asked from those around her and demanded no less of from herself.

    Mara’s fingers twitched and she moved purposefully towards her son.

    “No, Mama,” Ben cried indignantly. “Can do it myself. Uncle Han showed me.”

    Mara mentally cursed that blasted Corellian and the patented Skywalker stubbornness in one thought. Gently lowering herself to her knees, she faced her son at eye-level.


    “We’re late, Ben,” she said as calmly as she could. She would not let her voice betray her frustration. That was what he wanted. Like his father, Ben seemed to revel in seeing her on edge.

    “Can do it myself,” he repeated, refocusing his attention on his small feet.

    Mara sighed and leaned back on her haunches. She felt loathe to give in to him so easily, but arguing would simply take more time she didn’t have.

    She sat and waited, struggling not to wince at the mess Ben seemed to be creating. Han, unfortunately, had taught him the Corellian method for tying his laces, which, of course, made the action ten times more complicated than it needed to be. Mara promised herself to thank Han in her own special way for that later.

    The seconds ticked by and Mara found herself fidgeting with the twin beaded necklaces that laced around her neck to keep her fingers occupied. She had never been one for jewellery - any accessories, really. They weren’t conducive to espionage, and could be a real hindrance in hand-to-hand combat, where an opponent t could easily rip at earring to injure ones earlobe, or use a necklace as a garotte.


    No, her blaster and lightsaber was all Mara had ever needed. But she had taken to wearing the beaded necklaces for sentimental, rather than aesthetic value. They had been a gift from Luke, early in the Vong invasion. In that time of indecision and uncertainty, he had found it therapeutic to work with his hands again and had carved the small, individual beads himself from the purplish-brown wood of the Massassi trees on Yavin IV. It was comforting, he had told her, to feel something corporeal, to feel the bark and knife in his hands, to take his mind off the answers that were not so easily grasped.

    She had also guessed, that, in part, the gesture had been a consolation for the loss of his first gift, the Jade Sabre, although he had never said so. Mara knew the destruction of the ship he had personally designed had wounded him as much as it had her. And then Yavin had fallen to the Vong, the reshaping resulting in the extinction of the Massassi trees meaning her necklaces were the last tangible link to the planet that had meant so much to Luke.


    Since the war had ended, she had worn the beads religiously. It had, however, promoted the awkward habit of fidgeting, something she never would have allowed in her younger days. It was just one of the small allowances she had made in her life. Like indulging her son and his bizarre internal chrono, like allowing Luke to sleep with his arms around her.

    “Done!” came the exclamation from Ben, as he beamed proudly at her. Mara took in the tangled mess of laces that adorned Ben’s boots. They were tied…more or less.

    Too often, more or less was all she could afford to settle for.



    *****************************************************


    “When can I fly, Mama?” Ben crawled energetically out of the passenger seat of Mara’s speeder and leapt to the ground below. Mara herself made a more dignified exit.


    “When I’m too old to,” she replied in a tone that didn’t warrant argument. The thought of her son speeding recklessly through the Coruscant traffic was not one she wished to entertain anytime soon. Brushing her fingers hastily through her hair, Mara quickly did the same for Ben, pushing his windswept locks back from his face. It was then that she noticed a small, suspicious looking blue patch on the shoulder on his nylar tunic.

    “Ben, what is this?” She grabbed the offending fabric between her fingers.

    “Breakfast?” His face was the holo of innocence.

    “Well, how did it get there?” She clutched the fabric tighter, as if the stain would disappear by her sheer will and force.

    Ben shrugged. “I just drank my milk like you told me, Mama.”

    Mara fought the urge to roll her eyes. “I meant how did it get all the way…never mind.” She abandoned her line of questioning, knowing she would yield no answers from the boy. “Maybe I can find a change of clothes in the Temple,” she murmured. One thing Mara could not seem to shed was her fastidiousness. The small, almost indistinguishable stain made Ben seem altogether dishevelled.

    “No one’ll know. You can’t see it.” Ben pouted.

    I’ll know, Ben.” Mara sighed. “Alright, come on,” she conceded, grabbing his hand and leading him towards the ziggurat base of the temple. The new Jedi base was largely inspired by the temple plans of the Old Jedi Order, which had been uncovered by historians in the years before the Vong war. Building a similar structure for the New Order had been the idea of Chief of State Omas, one which both Mara and Luke had reservations about. Luke especially had disliked the five spires jutting out from the base, thinking it too ostentatious and perhaps sending a negative symbol of Jedi supremacy to the general populace. Mara had been inclined to agree.

    Cal Omas, however, had garnered public support for a symbolic link to the Old Republic and its Knights, a throwback, as Omas spun it, to history and a promise for future posterity. He was, after all, a politician at his core, and he knew exactly how to sway the Council to his way of thinking. That was fine, in Mara’s opinion, as long as his influence stopped at the design stage and went no further into the affairs of Jedi training.

    Of course, one of the other downsides to the new Jedi Temple was the three hundred-odd stairs that lead to the entrance. Of course there were turbolifts for other people wishing to enter, but Mara couldn’t allow such a dent in her pride as to be seen taking the easy way out. The climb itself was not difficult for a Jedi, but having a child in tow complicated the matter greatly.

    As soon as they reached the base of the stairs, Ben’s arms shot up in a silent demand to be carried. But Mara simply gave a gentle tug on the hand still clenched beneath her fingers.


    “You’re old enough to climb yourself now, Ben,” she told him firmly, taking the first step. There was a rush of elation when he dutifully followed.

    Their pace was slow, the steps too wide for Ben to take in one stride, and Mara more than once felt the urge to sweep him into her arms and make the job easier on both of them. But if there was one thing Leia had taught her about child-rearing, it was to stand firm.

    It wasn't long, however, before Ben started puffing heavily beside her. “Mama, I’m ti-red,” he whined, turning what appeared to be a tear-filled gaze towards her. Mara reminded herself to have a talk with the younger Solos about teaching Ben bad habits. She just knew the twins had let her son in on all of their persuasive parent-bending techniques.

    “Just a little longer, Ben,” she soothed him. As tempted as she was to show him how to use to Force to assist in the climb, she firmly believed that he needed to be a person first, and then a Jedi. Ben had to learn his limitations, without using the Force as a crutch.

    Unfortunately, Ben didn’t see it that way, if his pouting lower lip was anything to go by. Mara was relieved when they finally reached the entrance, only to find a harried-looking Tionne hurrying towards them. Ben ran towards her and fastened himself around her calves, giggling with delight. Tionne’s movement constricted by this action, she bent down as best she could to regard the small boy.


    “Hello, Ben,” she cooed. “Did you climb up here all by yourself?”

    “Yep!” Ben grinned at her. “Easy as bantha pie.”

    “I’m sure,” Tionne regarded him solemnly. “Hello, Mara,” she said, straightening herself.

    “Sorry about the time, Tionne.” Mara shook her head. “It’s been one of those mornings, and with Luke off Force knows where…”

    “That’s alright,” the Jedi smiled gently at her. “I tried you on the comm, but there was no answer, so I assumed you were already on your way. And,” she added as Ben untangled himself from her legs. “I remember what this one is like. You haven’t been causing trouble for your mother, have you Ben?” She raised a fine, white eyebrow.

    “Nuh uh,” Ben replied, returning to Mara and curling a hand around her knee. “Auntie Leia says I’m an angel.”

    “She doesn’t have to live with you,” Mara muttered under her breathe, so that Ben wouldn’t hear.

    Tionne smiled and gestured towards the Temple entrance. “I thought we’d just go to my office,” she said.

    Mara consented. She had her own office, of course, adjourning Luke’s, but she had yet to set foot in it. She unfastened Ben’s hand from the vice grip on her knee and followed Tionne into the Temple. Her office, she knew, was on a higher level and she felt Ben wince when they came to another set of stairs.

    “Mama.” He tugged on her tunic.

    “Alright, Ben, I’ll carry you,” she conceded. He had, after all, handled the main steps with little complaint.

    “You promised we’d go see the water.” He turned his grey eyes towards her. She had always considered Ben’s eyes to be the carbon-copy blue of Luke’s but she had found that when he was distressed or angry, the shade darkened to a misty grey. In Mara’s experience, it was not a good sign.

    “The water?” Tionne questioned, coming to a stop.

    Mara sighed. “The Room of a Thousand Fountains,” she explained. It was indeed a fascinating sight, located underground just beneath the Temple itself. A living jungle, complete with flowers, plants, animals and the most magnificent waterfalls she had ever seen. She had, unwisely it seemed, captivated Ben by descriptions of it. “I said I’d show it to him.”

    “You promised, Mama,” he said, crossing his arms stubbornly. And – oh Force, out came that bottom lip again.

    “Sweetie, I’ll take you after I talk with Tionne. We have very important things to discuss.” They didn’t really, but Ben had distracted her long enough that morning.

    The lip quivered and his eyes filled with tears – real, this time. She should have expected that. For some reason, close contact with so many Force-sensitives always made Ben more emotional. She would have to talk to Luke on how to control that.

    “Maybe one of the students can take him,” offered Tionne, seeing the child’s distress.

    “I don’t think that’s a good…Ben!” she cried as his small hand was yanked from hers. Whirling around, Mara saw that Ben had already disappeared.

    “Is he still doing that?” Tionne asked, searching the large foyer for him with her keen eye.

    “He hasn’t done it before with me,” Mara shot back, a little too harshly.

    The Administrator sighed. “He used to do this in the Maw. When he got upset, he would run off and hide. Kam and I assumed he didn’t want to share his hurt with anybody.” Mara didn’t miss the surreptitious glance. She knew what Tionne was thinking. Ben was her son, alright. “It was usually after you and Luke left,” she added quietly.

    “Well I don’t plan on leaving him alone to sulk in this place.” Closing her eyes, Mara reached out for Ben’s familiar presence. “He’s heading down through the left wing. Probably trying to find the gardens.”

    “That is the most direct route,” Tionne agreed. “Would you like me to accompany you?”

    “No.” Mara pinpointed the small figure in her mind, racing down the stairs. Sith, he was fast. “I’ll meet you in your office.”

    “I will be there all day, Mara.” Tionne placed a delicate hand on her arm. “Take all the time you need.” Mara understood the unsaid implication. Take the time to be with your son.

    The guilt stabbed her quietly as Mara made her way down towards the Room of a Thousand Fountains, following Ben closely. She had missed out on so much of Ben’s childhood, so many of his early years. She hadn’t realised that her absence had hurt Ben so much. But then, like his mother, he was very good as keeping his feelings to himself. How many times had she run away, hiding inside herself, trying to become numb to the pain?

    Ben often had serious mood swings, from ecstatically happy to solemn and introverted. He vacillated between the two extremes, and it was often difficult to pinpoint exactly what was going to set him off.

    Mara didn’t know if it was his genetics that were to blame. After all, she was known to have abrupt changes in mood herself. Not to mention Luke’s often precarious swinging from the Jedi Master to the Farmboy. On the other hand, none of them had been untouched by the Vong war an Ben was no exception. He spent years with only fleeting moments with his parents and had felt multiple deaths through the Force, not to mention growing up in the aftermath of a war-ravaged galaxy.

    Whatever it was, Mara vowed to spend as much time as possible with her son, with her family. Love, as she had discovered many years before, could cure almost anything.

    Sweet, humid air assaulted Mara’s nostrils as she entered the Room of a Thousand Fountains. The wild jungle and heat almost reminded her of Yavin IV. Unwittingly, Mara touched the beads around her neck. Almost.

    But taking in the beauty of the cavern was not what she was there for. Mara ran hurriedly through the set path, brushing past the foliage that blocked her way. Ben was close now…but she could feel that he was alone, and not in danger. Curiosity and wonder emanated from him. Still, she would feel better when she had him in her arms.

    Mara pushed a strain of Splinter Fern out of her way. There he was, sitting quite happily on a smooth rock, next to a comfortable-looking patch of Naboo swamp moss. But Mara felt her heart constrict as she saw the woman kneeling in the grass beside him.

    Shock paralysed her for a few moments, unwilling or unable to believe her own eyes. Mara took in the woman’s long, malt hair that fell in soft waves over her shoulders. The elegance with which she held herself, her long legs crossed under her slim body, her back perfectly straight and poised. The severe curve of her high cheekbones, covered in pale, smooth skin. And finally, the stormy grey eyes. Mara reached out with the Force, and felt nothing…no, less than nothing. She felt an absence in the Force which confirmed Mara’s darkest suspicions.

    Sitting quietly chatting to her son, was Callista Ming.











    ********************

    A/N: The beaded necklaces are inspired by the depictions of Mara on the cover art for "Rebirth":


    [IMG][IMG]
    Last edited by JadeLotus, Aug 15, 2014
  10. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Fabulous. Got Ben's mood shifts perfectly. And Room of a Thousand Fountains sounds captivating for young and old alike :cool: Love that last line. :p ;)
    JadeLotus likes this.
  11. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4

    Oh, yeah!! Well, you know me. Anything to get those two near a bed. [face_rofl]

    I didn't have a child when you wrote this and I remember thinking, 'poor Mara', having to learn to slow down. And now I have a 4 year old, and yup, you've pegged it. "I can do it myself!" I think I hear that a good, oh, 4711hundred times a day!! ;)

    Have I mentioned that I LOVE THIS FIC???? Just checking. [:D]
  12. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Callista!? Oh hell no! I bet that is just makes Mara's day. o_O

    :p

    Nice update!
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  13. Hazel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2010
    star 4
    So.... even though I had this story safely stored in my ebook reader, I can't remember if I ever actually read it or not. With that said, I'm on board this time around, and if I fall behind (like I seem to be doing a lot lately) , I promise to catch up eventually.


    Awesome start, JadeLotus!
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  14. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 5
    Wait. What? That was Ginchy. Why am I not surprised o_O


    I love seeing Mara as a mom! I think you got the characterization down pat! But this:

    Grrr. Ben, didn't your mama ever tell you not to talk to strangers, and creepy body-snatchers!
  15. ThreadSketch Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2013
    star 3
    You know what? I love that you had Luke carve the beads for Mara's necklace himself. For one, that's the only plausible way I'd see Mara wear a necklace - which you explained, lol - and I had been considering making whittling an occasional hobby for Luke in my own story. At least I can see the notion wouldn't be that odd. :) (Well, his father did carve that japor snippet when he was a kid...) Sweet little detail there.
    JadeLotus and Gemma like this.
  16. Gemma Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 25, 2013
    star 3
    Yes, I adore the notions about the necklace. I am not a big fan of jewelry either unless it has a sentimental attachment. And I adored Mara with young Ben and him clutching about her knee when then arrived in Tionne's office -- reminds me of me. Sweet entry.
    JadeLotus likes this.
  17. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart - Thanks! I remember doing a lot of research about the Jedi Temple on wookiepedia when first writing this fic about various plant life and the Room of a Thousand Fountains - it seemed like somewhere Ben would desperately want to see.

    @ginchy - Well I never get tired of hearing it! I always thought Ben would be a typical rambunctious five year old - I can see from afar that they are a handful!

    @Jedi_Lover - Yep, the dreaded bodysnatcher!

    @Hazel - Glad you're on board, and thanks again for finding it!

    @Briannakin - It's nice to explore the other side of Mara in normal mother mode, rather than protective mama bear mode (although I love that to!)

    @ThreadSketch - My headcanon for Luke is that he works with his hands to get his mind off things - probably mostly tinkering with machinery, but I did think it would be a nice tie infor him to carve something for Mara, and for her to wear it for that reason. Not when she'd on a mission, of course, but in downtime - I was just so confused as to why they illustrated her with them I needed to come up with an in-universe explanation for it.

    @Gemma - Thanks! I love a necklace myself, but just couldn't see Mara wearing them unless there was a sentimental reason.
  18. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    Hunter's Luck, Deep Space. 12 ABY


    The stars roiled by, an amalgamation of suns and planets and lives, spinning past her into oblivion. Mara would never admit it to anyone, but she enjoyed watching the blur of hyperspace, the swirling blue light dancing around the viewing window of her cockpit. And she needed the comfort at the moment. She had felt awkward in the med bay, while Leia tended to Luke's injuries and questioned him mercilessly about the woman they'd found in the escape pod. It had bothered her to see Luke so affectionate to the woman in Cray’s body, staring into her grey eyes, his fingers lightly tracing her new face.

    Mara had felt overwhelmed when he had kissed the woman. It had been soft, almost chaste, but there was no doubt that it had been a lover's kiss. It had been unbearable, and Mara had escaped to the cockpit, mumbling an excuse about checking their flight pattern. She was not going to allow herself to be uncomfortable on her own ship.

    But what bothered her so much was the fact that she even cared. Perhaps it was just seeing Skywalker in such a different light. In the few years she had known him, he had never seen him have more than a platonic friendship with anyone. But what was it about this woman that made her gut twist so horribly?

    Mara heard the hatch slide open, but didn't bother to turn around. She knew who it was.

    "You should be resting Skywalker," she called over her shoulder, unable to put the usual bite into her words. "Wait, don't tell me, you're fine," she continued, before he could speak.

    "I am." Luke carefully made his way into the co-pilot's seat.

    Mara raised an eyebrow at him. "Is that so?" Before he could register her movement her fingers reached out and pushed into his injured leg. She was rewarded with his yelp of pain.

    "Alright," he smiled good-naturedly. "I'm fine so long as ex-assassins aren't putting the moves on me."

    She grunted and turned away. "I would say that job has already been covered," she muttered to herself.

    Mara felt his intense gaze, and knew his keen ears had picked up her reference to the woman currently residing in her med bunk. Force, she hated when he did that. That look of his compelled her so strongly, calling her eyes to his like a magnet. It made her feel uncomfortable, and out of control. Resolutely, she continued to stare at the blue swirl of the stars rushing by.

    "What do you think of her, Mara?" he asked finally, his voice soft.

    "Of who? The woman back there who's currently wearing Mingla's body?" Her voice had regained its sharp edge. "I don't know, Skywalker, what am I supposed to think?" Her lips twitched bitterly. "I didn't exactly expect to be carrying the extra cargo," she added snidely.

    She heard Luke's deep sigh, the one that meant he was disappointed. "One thing I'll never understand about you Jade," he leaned back wearily into his seat. "Is how you find it so difficult to see the humanity in people. To you they're cargo, objects... complications."

    Mara stiffened at his harsh words. His tone was soft and sincere, but there was an undercurrent of brutality to his words. She responded the only way she knew how - dismissively.

    "Need I remind you whose ship you are on, Skywalker?" Her voice was cold. "Perhaps I should throw you both out of the airlock, since I'm so heartless."

    "Oh, Mara..." he shook his head slightly and reached out to touch her hand. "I never said you were heartless."

    "Just inhuman." She snatched her hand away.

    "No." He sighed again, the sound grating on her nerves. "I know you care about people. You wouldn't be here if you didn't." She felt his piercing gaze on her again. "I'd be dead if you didn't," he added, almost inaudibly.

    "Make up your mind, Skywalker," she said impatiently. "Either I care or I don't." Through the Force, she felt a whisper of - something - from the man next to her. Like grief, or melancholy, or perhaps a wistfulness.

    "I used to think like that," Luke continued, his gaze shifting from her face to the cockpit window where her own eyes rested. "In absolutes. Good and Evil, Right and Wrong."

    Mara noted the change in his voice. "And now?"

    He smiled. "Now I know better."

    They sat in silence for several minutes, watching the stars rush by. It was peaceful, Mara conceded, sitting in another's presence. She felt a kind of harmony that was unknown to her. It felt strange, yet... she was at peace. Being with Luke was not as abrasive as it had once been; gone was the hostility and uneasiness she had once felt around him. Now in his presence, there was acceptance. From both of them.

    Unfortunately, it did not last.

    "I think you'll like her," he said, shattering the silence and, along with it, Mara's comfort. "Callista, I mean."

    "Is that her name?" Mara felt her acrimony returning.

    There was a chuckle from the seat beside her. Blast him, what did her always find so amusing? Mara crossed her arms and clenched her jaw. Gone was the peace, he was back to his usual, infuriating self.

    "Not like you to forget details so easily," Luke said, a slight taunt in his voice. Mara grimaced, for she hadn't forgotten the woman's name. And Luke knew it.

    "She's wonderful, Mara," he continued, his eyes glazing over in happiness. "Brave and intelligent - one of the kindest people I've ever met. And a Jedi, too," he added as an afterthought.

    Shock overwhelmed Mara as she felt bright tendrils of Luke's feelings hit her. "You... you're in love with her," she managed to stutter out.

    Luke gave her a quizzical look. "Well... yes." He had obviously thought his feelings had been clear.

    Mara clamped down her shields, so not to alert him to her tumultuous emotions. She had known that they had shared an intense experience on the Eye of Palpatine, but love? It had been obvious to everyone that Luke wished to pursue a relationship with Callista, but the revelation he was already in love with her upset Mara more than she cared to admit.

    Calming herself down, Mara had to admit to herself that it was keeping in with Skywalker's character. One flimsy Force-dream and he was irrevocably in love. Mara had never heard anything so ridiculous. Force help her if she was to ever fall victim to such foolishness.

    "Mara?" She heard Luke's voice permeate her reeling mind and refocussed her attention. "Mara?" he repeated as she - finally - turned to face him. "What's so wrong with my being in love with her?"

    Mara recollected her emotions. "Nothing," she spat out, a little too eagerly. "I just wasn't expecting you to reveal it like that."

    "You think it's too soon," Luke nodded sagely. "That's what Han said."

    "Well, Solo isn't always so far off the mark." Her voice had returned to a normal level.

    "I can't really explain it, Jade. But what we share... it's incredible."

    Mara rolled her eyes as she caught that faraway look in his gaze again. "I'm sure."

    "I really want you to accept her, Mara," he tried for her hand again, and this time she didn't pull away. "Your opinion is very important to me."

    His clear blue eyes pleaded with her. Mara felt herself drawn to them - she had never really noticed how deep they were before. His words rattled through her mind. He wanted - no, needed, her acceptance, her support. The question was whether she was prepared to give it to him.

    "She'll just have to prove herself to me." The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could think them through. It was an automatic response, although she wasn't sure if it was a truthful one.

    Luke's eyes betrayed his hurt, and he slowly pulled his hand away, nodding resolutely. It was then that Mara realised the fundamental difference between them. While she needed time to judge people, to weigh their worthiness of her trust and support, Luke always accepted without question. Unlike his unending faith, her friendship was conditional.

    Understanding and perhaps, Mara realised, a little saddened by it, Luke hoisted himself to his feet. "Thanks for the rescue, Jade," he acknowledged coldly, before making his way towards to hatch. He winced in slight pain as he twisted his leg at the wrong angle. Mara ignored it.

    She heard the release mechanism of the door, and something twisted inside of her.

    "Skywalker," he called to him, her voice stripped of all emotion. It sounded pitifully tinny in the cockpit, echoing off the walls. "What you said, about... humanity... "

    He didn't answer, but she felt his full attention. She swallowed forcefully, loathe to say anything at all. But something within her forced the words out. "In most of the people I've known..." She looked sadly out to the stars. "It hasn't existed at all."

    The silence was palpable, and Mara was unable to gauge his reaction. Understanding flowed through from him, but no words. She hadn't really wanted any. His presence shifted, and then grew fainter.

    The door whipped closed behind him, and she was left alone in the cockpit, contemplating the stars.
    Last edited by JadeLotus, Aug 15, 2014
  19. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Superb insights into Luke and Mara, individually and as to their relationship at this stage with all its contradictions and rough edges. =D= =D= I adored Mara's instinctive reaction to Callista. What could possibly be behind that LOL [face_love]
  20. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 5
    Is it bad to feel so good about knowing Callista won't prove herself and to know that Mara gets Farmboy in the end? I'm loving this re-read, its something to look forward to in the morning :)
    Gemma and Nyota's Heart like this.
  21. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    I have a hard time reading anything with the C-word in it. ;) At least I know Luke will eventually come to his senses. Nice update!
    Gemma and Nyota's Heart like this.
  22. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    Callista? Nooooooooooooo...

    Loved the flashback. They had so many might-have-been moments, didn't they? The feelings here were palpable and heartbreaking. Great job!
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  23. ThreadSketch Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2013
    star 3
    I think us L/Mers have a love/hate relationship with The Feels, amirite? They're so frustrating, but ultimately make their relationship that much more awesome and gratifying. :D
  24. Gemma Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 25, 2013
    star 3
    I'll be happy when Luke comes to his senses. I don't like Callista.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  25. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart - Thanks! I really love writing Luke and Mara in their early, prickly stage ;) .

    @Briannakin - No, I don't think so :p It wouldn't be any fun otherwise!

    @Jedi_Lover - I've tried to be fair to Callista in this fic, but she's certainly no threat to L/M so hopefully it's not to painful to read :)

    @taramidala - Callista, yes! :p

    @ThreadSketch - Absolutely! :D

    @Gemma - I'm not fond of her either - but Luke and Mara never really discuss her so I thought it might be interesting to throw her as a spanner in the works ;)
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