Beyond Echoes of Always - L/M - Complete - Second Fan Art added 4/10

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ginchy, Jan 30, 2012.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    ARRRGGGHHH so much angst. I feel so bad for both of them. But at least we are getting to some bootknocking. :D
  2. Jade_Pilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2005
    star 5
  3. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    [face_rofl] As before, I am the official L/M fic bumper, because we're at the really, really yummy part! [face_love] [face_love] !!
  4. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Hey, all. I have been SUPER sick the past week and only just getting on the mend the last two days. So here is the update. Sorry for the delay!

    But first, replies to chapter 10:


    JediMara77: Awww, thank you, lady! I’m still so pleased that you love EoA as much as you do. Thank you! [:D]

    Jade_eyes: Yay! I’m glad ‘vintage ginchy’ is shining through. Heh. Hope you like the interlude as much! As I always said, EoA is a love story. [face_love] Thanks! (And thanks for the bump, too!)

    Jedi_Lover: But it’s gentle angst, right? And yes, finally. What we all knew was going to happen. Teh bootknocking. [face_batting] LOL Thanks, gal!

    Jade_Pilot: Hey, gal!! I love it when I can give you a bit smiley face!

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    Interlude 3: Love

    He reached a blind hand for the lights as they entered the stateroom, but Mara stopped him. "Leave them," she whispered. He complied, walking into the room steadily even as her lips caressed and nipped at his neck. After a few steps he fell to the bed with her, catching his weight on his arms to hover over her in the dim light that cast into the room from the hall. He didn't allow himself to think, to remember the times he had laid his Mara down on the bed in the stateroom of their ship. All that mattered was the beautiful woman in his arms, how warm and alive she felt under him.

    He saw only invitation in her eyes and lowered his head to brush his lips against hers. The slow kisses lengthened in intensity, the wet slide of their lips the only sound in the quiet room. He couldn't get enough of kissing her and feeling her kiss him back, her taste as addictive as always. They moved together as they kissed, hands everywhere as they reacquainted themselves with flesh long denied.

    He broke from her lips to kiss her cheek and throat, to let his lips slide against the collar of her shirt. Mara shifted closer as he began to tug at her blouse, ripping at the buttons impatiently. She gasped but brought her hands up to help him, and the shirt fell heedless to the floor. He groaned at the sight of her, so missed, but his eyes were riveted to the gold chain that had been hidden under her shirt. He reached a trembling hand out to pick up the chain, his fingers just barely brushing the soft skin of her chest. He looked at the two wedding bands that hung from the chain, and his heart constricted. He remembered accusing Mara of moving on too quickly, but here was more proof that she had not. He brought the smaller ring, Mara's ring, to his lips and kissed it.

    Mara gave him a teary smile, but took the rings from his hand and pulled the chain over her head. She sat it on the bedside table and turned to him. "Always near my heart," she whispered, the words vulnerable and soft as they disappeared into the dark room around them.

    Even still, Mara was surprising him as only she could. The desire to make love to her was stronger than ever as he reached out to run a finger down the center line of her chest and over the front of her bra. "Still so beautiful," he whispered, seeking to quell a flash of discomfort he saw in Mara's eyes. They had both been hot and sweaty on Crseih Station and he wanted her to know that didn't matter now. Even with wild hair and little make-up she was gorgeous. But it had been an even longer time since she had been with her Luke, and he wondered if she worried that she was too old or undesirable to him. He kissed her again, casting out with the Force to feed his lust into hers to let her know that she would always be the one he desired.

    She gasped at the sensation and let out a ragged breath, raising her hands to his shirt and coaxing it over his head. He threw it to the floor and growled as she rolled them, coming to rest on top of him. Her nails scratched lightly down his chest, but her eyes turned solemn as she rested her palm over the scar where Shimmra's amphistaff had almost killed him, the same scar that had taken her husband's life. He opened his mouth to speak, but stopped himself when she lowered her lips to the spot and kissed it, caressing it almost reverently with soft lips. He cupped her head with the palm of his hand, intending to pull her back into a healing kiss, but she had other ideas and continued her kisses down his chest to his stomach.

    He groaned low in his throat at her blatant message to move things along. He grabbed her and tugged her back up to his mouth for a deep kiss, letting his own hands play now, wandering into her hair and then down her back.

    "Oh, Luke," she murmured, breaking the silence that had grown between them since they entered the room. And the sound of his name on her lips, spoken in that intimate tone that belonged to him alone, sent him over and edge into an abyss from where there was no return.

    The reunification of their bodies was slow and drawn out, even as an edge of hunger spiraled them toward completion. "Mara," he said, just to say her name. "Mara." The pleasure surrounding them was almost painful in its intensity. He was with Mara again and could scarcely believe it.

    His eyes opened and burned into hers, seeking the connection of all they had lost. She clutched at his sweaty back, but even through her pleasure he noticed a tear at the corner of her eye. He kissed it away, murmuring to her that he understood. And he did.

    Hesitantly, he reached for her in the Force, the absent bond the only thing marring the moment. Without the bond their Force senses could flow together, but not coalesce, and their every thought was not available to one another. It was somewhat of a strange feeling, being without their bond, but even still, she latched onto his Force sense and let her pleasure bleed through. .And in the middle of that blissful haze was her love, overpowering in its purity as it had always been.

    Mara grasped his head and kissed him with bruising force, as if she were trying to brand him with her lips, her love. He tore from her mouth and dropped his head into her neck and breathed in her unique scent, still trying to grasp the reality of the situation. "I love you," he murmured to her. She gasped and called out his name in uninhibited bliss.

    He followed her, the pleasure so intense that his body collapsed onto hers and he faded out for a moment, content and happy. He was back with Mara again. Back in love.
    .
    .

    Mara dozed against his chest. He kissed her hair, unable to stop touching her. He was addicted to the silky smooth skin under his hands, to rememorizing all the features of her face and body. A few scars that he had known on his Mara were missing here, and there was a new one on her right shoulder that his Mara hadn't had. And yet while making love to her she had responded with the same passionate nature that his Mara always exuded.

    He squeezed her to him, suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude that she existed, that Mara Jade had not been wiped from the universe completely. When she died he knew that she went on to the Force, and that she had lived on in Ben, but living without her in the cold galaxy had haunted him, the idea that she didn't exist any longer confusing and wrong.

    A kiss against his chest pulled him from his thoughts and he looked down into green, mischievous eyes perched above the smirk he loved so well.

    "I needed that," she confided, pushing and stretching against him.

    He grinned. "Me too. And I'm glad we're not…" He paused to contemplate his word choice. "Awkward."

    Mara dropped her head back to his chest and let her fingers wander over his stomach. "What's to be awkward about? You're the doppelganger of my dead husband and you jumped a galaxy in chaos to find me—Luke!" she cried out, her voice rising comically when he goosed her.

    He laughed at her reaction and she laughed with him, but landed a stinging blow to his bicep. "It's things like that that make me call you Farmboy," she muttered, but she was smiling.

    He basked in the warmth of that familiar nickname. She hadn't called him that since his aborted attempt to leave. "I always loved that you called me that," he said absently, running her hair through his fingers and admiring the threads of white that now intersected the gold in the brilliant red.

    "I knew it," she said with a grin.

    He couldn't resist kissing that grin and pulled her close, not wanting to ruin this moment by talking about the future or the predicament he—they—were in. He wanted nothing more than to take a few moments for himself, a few moments for Mara. These quiet moments were so rare for the both of them, and to have one together now was more of a gift than he could ever have imagined.

    Mara's fingers traced over his face, skating over his jawline to the hair at his temples. She brushed her them into the flare of hair there and gave him a wicked smirk. "I like the gray," she murmured. "I often tried to imagine what he would look like as time went on…I think I underestimated how much I would like it."

    He grinned and grabbed her hand, kissing the fingers. "I once told Mara I was starting to look like Palpatine," he said, tracing the fingers over his cheeks. "Too many lines on the face."

    She gave him the same horrified and amused look Mara had long ago, during some mission dealing with the Killik threat. "Now you're just looking for compliments."

    He barked out a laugh and hugged her close. He couldn't get enough of her, and rolled into her, kissing her softly, teasing her with his lips.

    "You taste so good," she whispered. "I've missed kissing you…"

    He groaned into her mouth and pulled her onto him, her bare skin so warm and soft under his fingers. They made slow and gentle love this time, caught up in the act of reacquaintance and the pleasure of remembrance.

    "I love you, I love you, I love you," Mara cried out in the midst of their passion and her words and inhibition were like hidden treasures to Luke, gifts only for him.

    He rolled over and pulled her up against him, sweaty bare skin pressed together as they came down from the high. With a panting breath he kissed her temple. "I love you," he whispered, somewhat surprised that she had said those words to him, but knowing that there was no other word that could encompass it. "Ever and always, Mara…"

    Caressing his back, she kissed his neck in acknowledgement of his pledge, and held him close until they drifted off to sleep.
    Last edited by ginchy, Sep 23, 2012
  5. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Oh man...what a scene. It is so wonderfully descriptive. You painted the scene perfectly. The dialog is romantic and so in character.[face_love] I now realize what a real love scene should look like. You have perfected it.

    Okay, now I look at my fanfic and think it is crap...[goes off somewhere to cry].:p

    Did you notice that in my last posted chapter in my fic I made a reference to this story. ;) That is because I love it so much.
    Last edited by Jedi_Lover, Sep 23, 2012
  6. divapilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2005
    star 4
    Oh how I have missed this.
    ginchy likes this.
  7. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    D'awwoon! Oh yum. I agree with everything JL said -- perfection - absolute perfection. And no, her fanfics are anything but. =D= As soon as one ends, I long for the next LOL And divapilot yay - and now the L/M gang's all here [face_love]
  8. immertreu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2012
    star 1
    Hi ginchy, I hope you're feeling better now!

    I know I commented on this story on LJ, but I wanted to say how much I love this once more. And this chapter was just perfect after the day I was having at work. ;)

    And hi everyone! I'm new here. ;)
    ginchy likes this.
  9. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Welcome immertreu! @};- :)
    immertreu likes this.
  10. immertreu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2012
    star 1
    Thank you so much, Jade_eyes! :)
  11. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
  12. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Jedi_Lover: Thank you, lady! I’m so glad you enjoyed their romantic interlude. (And you know I love your fic, crazy gal!!) Did you make a reference to it? LOL How did I miss it? I’ll go re-read!! ;)

    Divapilot: Oh, how I’ve missed you!!!! [:D]

    Jade_eyes: I’m glad the L/M gang’s all getting back together! I have missed everyone! Thanks, gal!!

    Immertreu: I am feeling better, thanks!! And I loved all your comments over on LJ. Thank you so much. I hope you’re enjoying the forums!

    JediMara77: Thanks, lady!! [face_love]

    Thanks for reading, everyone! [:D]
    Last edited by ginchy, Sep 28, 2012
  13. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    CHAPTER 11

    Luke woke sometime later to find Mara staring at him, her hand warm and still on his belly. He grinned at her but fell back into a doze. He wasn't quite as young as he had once been and making love twice in less than that many hours had worn him out.

    The next time he opened his eyes Mara was still beside him but was wearing his tunic. She had pulled a sheet up over their bodies. He frowned at her covering but admitted to himself that he liked seeing her in his clothes. She used to walk around in nothing but his loose shirts in their old quarters on Yavin IV, the wet heat driving her insane. And quite likely she had realized the sight of her in his shirts had driven him insane. She did always like to bait him.

    She was dozing herself, a small smile on those full lips that he loved. He couldn't resist brushing his lips over that smile and smiled even wider when her eyes fluttered open.

    "Got your beauty sleep in, I see," she snarked.

    His smile grew into a grin and he couldn't help but laugh. "How close are we to Coruscant?"

    Her eyes darkened just slightly. "About half a day left."

    He nodded, turning on his pillow to look at her lying on her side next to him. He wriggled his leg in between hers and looped an arm around her waist. "What happens then?" he asked, addressing the bantha in the bed with them.

    "I don't know," Mara answered honestly, the words troubling her as her brow furrowed. "I hate that."

    He let out an amused puff of air. "I know you do, my love. But I admit to not knowing myself. This situation is…unique."

    Mara blew the fringe of her hair out of her eyes. "You can say that again." She let her fingers wander down his arm, tracing the line of it.

    "I don't even know if you've…moved on," Luke murmured gently, burrowing further into the pillow, reveling in Mara's warm breath as it caressed his cheek. He looked at the space between them on the pillow and thought of how warm and cozy that space must be, smaller than it had been before.

    Mara laughed quietly. "Little late to be asking that, isn't it, Farmboy?"

    He grinned. "That's true. But thirteen years is a long time."

    "Are you saying that you've…moved on?"

    Luke moved the arm on her waist down and patted her bottom. "I think the fact that I'm here should tell you something," he answered dryly.

    Mara smiled, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. She flopped her head on her pillow. "I…I did see someone, a few years ago."

    Even though he had prepared himself for that answer, Luke's stomach still dropped. But he knew he was being unfair. Thirteen years was a long time and Mara's children had been so young when her Luke died.

    "It felt so wrong, at first," Mara said, and he looked at her to see her eyes becoming glassy again.

    He cupped her cheek. "Mara, it's okay. I…he wouldn't want you to be alone. To be lonely."

    She gave him a smirk and laughed through a choked throat. "Aren't you the generous one," she teased. Then she sobered. "I know that. But I just…it was Kyle."

    "Katarn?" Luke asked. "I'll have to have words with him when I get back. Maybe send him into the Outer Rim on a mission for a few months."

    Mara poked his chest. "You're jealous!"

    "What's to be jealous of? His beard? I could grow one if I wanted."

    She laughed, the sound delighting him. Her hand cupped his cheek and her thumb brushed against the softening beard stubble he hadn't the time to shave. "I don't think so, Farmboy. Besides…look at where I am now. That should tell you something."

    "Didn't work out?" he asked carefully, feeling surreal to even be talking with her about this.

    She was silent as if weighing her thoughts. "No. We were sort of just friends…he really was there for me after Luke died. He had lost Jan and knew what it was to lose someone you loved so deeply."

    "This was when she was presumed dead?"

    "Presumed?" Mara's brow furrowed again. "No, Jan's gone. She was killed sometime before Luke."

    "Another difference to this galaxy then," he murmured.

    Mara nodded. "Anyway, we used to—joke. About loving and losing someone with a prosthetic right hand. How we missed those hands, that sort of thing. And it felt good to joke, to talk to someone who could understand…"

    "I understand, really I do," Luke soothed, rubbing her back comfortingly.

    Mara rolled her eyes. "Why do you have to be so…you?" She leaned into his embrace and kissed his neck. "But after awhile…it didn't work out. I was still in love with you, and he with Jan…we couldn't move forward like that."

    She kissed up his neck, over the cleft in his chin, to his lips. "You're an impossible act to follow, Luke. There's no getting over you."

    He kissed her back, threading his fingers through her hair and holding her close. "If it makes you feel any better, there's a newly knighted Jedi who's been asking about me around the Temple."

    Mara pulled back and eyed him. "Go for it," she said encouragingly. "Just tell her that your dead Master of a wife will be watching her from beyond the Force."

    Luke chucked and kissed her forehead. "Now, Mara," he chided.

    "You just had to get that in there, didn't you?"

    "Perhaps," he allowed, before sighing. "This doesn't get us any closer to my original question, though."

    Mara kissed his shoulder. "Shhh…I'm trying not to think about that."

    Luke gave her a faux questioning look. "Who are you and what have you done with Mara Jade Skywalker?"

    "Let's just say that I lost my husband many years ago, and I've deserved these quiet moments between us."

    "The quiet and the not so quiet," he teased, smiling as she nudged him hard in the ribs. But she was smiling. "We both do," he murmured, turning serious, pulling her in to another kiss He entwined his fingers with hers as they continued to kiss, but after a moment she pulled away and nestled her head against his neck, her breath warm against his body.

    She took his left hand and looked at the rings adorning it. His and Mara's. She let her fingers trace each ring slowly.

    He swallowed hard and used his right hand to remove his wedding band from his finger. His heart beat rapidly in his chest as he took Mara's hand and wrapped it around the ring until it was nestled in her closed fist. "I want you to have that," he said, his voice rough with emotion. "It could never take the place of his ring, but I want you to have something of mine."

    A tear leaked from the corner of Mara's eye and she cleared her throat, unable to speak. Instead she lifted her head from his shoulder and grabbed her golden chain and bands from the bedside table. She didn't look at him as she opened the clasp and slid his ring onto the chain until it clinked into place next to her husband's wedding band. She then took the smaller band off and held it out to him.

    He held out the small finger on his left hand, the one that already had his Mara's ring on it. He smiled at the small pulse that lit the Force as Mara slid her ring onto his finger.

    "Ever and always," she whispered, repeating his earlier vow as the ring clinked into place. She placed her necklace back around her throat and lay down beside him again.

    They stayed that way a long time, curled up together in the state room. The rest of the galaxy seemed far away in those moments, and they intended to take full advantage of that fact if for just a little while longer.

    .
    .

    A chime sounded when they were two hours out from Coruscant. Luke groaned, nuzzling his head into Mara's neck, breathing in deeply to imprint the scent and feel of her into his mind. Mara lifted her arm and wrapped it around his shoulders, digging her fingers into his hair and massaging. After a long moment she released him and stood from the bed, heading into the small fresher. "I'm going through the sonics," she said and let the door close behind her.

    He realized that she needed a moment to herself. He could use a moment to clear his brain, too. Making love to Mara was as amazing as ever, an unexpected and most welcome gift. But he still wondered what his Mara would say about the situation. He closed his eyes with a smile to think of some of the jokes she may have made.

    Mara Jade, her doppelganger, and Luke Skywalker walk into a bar—stop me if you've heard this one, Farmboy…

    I know most men have a fantasy of two women in their bed, but this is taking it a bit too literally…

    He also needed a moment because when Mara came back they would have to have The Talk. They had avoided it so far, but with his options of going home close to nil they would have to have it. Making love had probably complicated the matter but he wouldn't take that back, even if he had the chance. He felt more alive than he had in a long time. But now he was stuck in a galaxy with a woman who was not his wife but who he was in love with anyway. The fact that there were small differences between her and his Mara only made him more interested—every day with Mara had been an adventure and now there were new adventures to be had, old memories to learn and new memories to be made.

    His heart still tugged to think of Ben, though. He could imagine and fantasize about a life here with Mara, but he could never and would never stop trying to get home to his son. Mara's own children, too, would never know of his presence here, unless he truly was stuck in this galaxy forever. Even though, how could he even approach them? Especially Betrys. Mara said that she had been devastated by her father's death. Ben had, too, but on a much different scale. Luke wasn't even sure if Ben even had any memories of his father.

    He let his mind backtrack to the end of the Vong war, when he was infirmed from the amphistaff wound and had taken time to heal on Zonoma Sekot. In those days he had seen visions, visions of a future that had shown him Ben and the path his life could take. Only the fall of his nephew had changed that future and now Ben was thrust into an uncertain galaxy much like Luke had been forty years before. It was not the galaxy he wanted for his only child. But in those moments on the wandering planet and then later, when they had been reunited with the toddler that had replaced the chubby baby they had left behind in the Maw, a future of happiness and love had seemed assured. It seemed as if the terrible rends in the Force could be fixed, sewn together by his sheer will to see his son live a life unlike Luke's own. A life without strife.

    And now Ben was in another dimension, on Adumar, so far away from where Luke was this night.

    His eyes strayed to the shower door and he thought of Mara, one half of his heart. Ben was the other half, born of the love he held for Mara. No, he could never stop trying to get back home to his son.

    But leaving Mara behind, if he ever did find a way—that, that would break his heart all over again.

    .
    .

    Mara exited the fresher and ushered him in. He couldn't resist wrapping her in his arms as he passed her, lured by her sweet clean scent, fresh from the sonics. She sighed as if put out but kissed his bicep, rubbing her face against his arm. Her eyes looked clear and untroubled, but a tiny furrow in her brow told him she had been thinking just as he had.

    He put it out of his mind and cleaned up, donning the last pair of clean clothing that he had. He paused in the mirror to comb his hair, and touched a small red patch of skin at his shirt's collar. A visible reminder of what had happened between him and Mara. He smiled at the bruise and buttoned an extra button, keeping his secret to himself.

    Mara was in her captain's chair when he headed to the cockpit. He settled into the second seat and checked the course as matter of route. Still an hour and a half out. He sighed. "So…"

    Mara clucked her tongue. "There's a lot in that little word, Farmboy."

    He smiled faintly. "I know. I just…what do we do now? I can't stop trying to get home, but what if…what if I can't?"

    "There has to be a way," Mara said automatically. "I can't imagine the device would just trap you here forever with no way back. Maybe another scientist—"

    "Yes, but those are all maybes."

    "When did our situations reverse?" Mara asked. "Me, the optimist? I just don't think…I just think you'll get back home to your Ben."

    "I hope so," he murmured. "'Course maybe he'll like being dadless for a bit. No one to tell him to clean up after himself, or corny jokes, or to embarrass him."

    "Hm, teenagers," Mara said. "Hard to believe we were once this young and some of us helped to bring down an Empire."

    "That's true," he said with a laugh. "I never really thought of it that way. I just have such a hard time with Ben sometimes. I love him and I know that he loves me, but since Mara…it's been tough."

    Mara looked troubled. "I can't imagine. My poor Ben. He feels things so deeply—he gets that from you. With his mother having been…murdered…I can only imagine that made it worse."

    "Things were rough before that. I showed you some of it when we shared images in the Force, but you may not have understood what you saw. Jacen was manipulating Ben. Had turned him into an assassin."

    Mara gasped, her eyes hardening.

    "It all had come to a head, and Mara…she could see more than I could. I just couldn't believe that my nephew, my apprentice…"

    "What happened to Ben?"

    "He found her," Luke said. "After her death. She had been hit with a poison dart and was sitting against a wall, looking like she could have been asleep, he said. He spent time with her there…I can't even imagine what he went through in those moments."

    Tears shimmered in Mara's eyes, but she didn't speak. He continued. "I've been so wrapped up in my own grief. When our bond snapped I didn't know how to react, how to feel. I had always assumed that the bond wouldn't allow for one of us to live while the other died. And that sudden absence…so quiet." He touched his forehead. "It's been so quiet."

    "I know."

    "And now I realize how wrong I was. I tried to reach out to Ben, but not enough. I was in a dark place, my head not on right, and our son…I've failed our son, Mara."

    Mara was silent for a moment. She worried her lower lip slightly before speaking. "Once, during the Vong war, Luke and I talked about the future for Betrys and Ben, should something happen to one of us. About assuring our future through our kids…"

    But as Mara kept talking, suddenly it was his Mara's voice in his head, asking him to take care of Ben should anything happen to her, to make Ben the center of his heart and universe as he was to her. Then no matter what, the future's assured, she had said when he agreed.

    "…I think that's why she left you with just a note," Mara was saying as he came back to the conversation. "She knew that, if she told you where she was going or what she was doing, you would stop her. One look into your eyes and she wouldn't be able to go through with it. But for Ben…for your son…she would have done anything, including leaving in the middle of the night to face the unknown. Like me, she would have done anything for her child." Mara paused, turning to look him in the eye. "I'll do all I can to help you to get home to your son."

    Luke swallowed hard, and reached out for Mara's hand. She took it and squeezed, sealing that vow.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    A note on Kyle and Jan: What I know about them could fit a thimble. But the fact that Jan had a prosthetic right hand made me think that Mara and Kyle could snark on that fact and build somewhat of a relationship for a time. If anything is amiss with that, let me know.
    Last edited by ginchy, Sep 28, 2012
  14. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    How can you write such loving scenes and it makes me sad? Angsty bootknocking?! I didn't know it could exist between Mara and Luke, but you managed to do it. I just want to cry for these two.

    Oh, the reference I made to this story in Alter of Waru was when Mara accused Luke of using her to replace his wife. Luke said, "I could see you making that arguement if she had recently died and I built a trans dimensional transportation device to fetch a copy of you for my bed." ;) I am paraphrasing.

    I always thought Mara probably had hooked up with Kyle sometime before VOTF. She trained with him for such a long time. In my story AoW, I never say it, but Mara's two lovers were (in my mind) Kyle and Daric LaRone. But I didn't come out and say it because I am not sure what happened to the Hand of Judgement troopers and I knew Mara would not want to cause problems between Kyle and Luke.

    I think Kyle would be a good guy to help Mara through her pain. Did we ever find out what happened to Leia and Han in this dimension?

    Anyway, I just want to say I love this story. Your descriptions are so vivid. I can visualize the entire scene perfectly.
  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    A lovely!!!!! update! So touching the giving of rings and promises. How like his actual Mara this one is :* !!!!

    [face_sigh] I know Luke has to go back :( but I hate the idea of them being apart. [face_thinking] Still, again ;)

    Maybe like J_L, [face_laugh] we can have two endings? [face_batting] [face_love] !!!
  16. immertreu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2012
    star 1
    Glad you're better! And yes, I love it here. I just get lost all the time. ;) I have a lot of reading to do.

    This chapter really made me laugh out loud, only to hit me with deep sadness a moment later. It was quite the emotional roller coaster. Already knowing the chapter didn't diminish the effect it had on me. Thanks for the wonderful update!

    I think my favorite line was this: Mara rolled her eyes. "Why do you have to be so…you?"
    That's why we love Luke so much. ;)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  17. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Jedi_Lover: Girl, I didn’t know I could write angsty bootknocking, either. But it was one of the impetouses for the story, the idea of that love scene. I’m glad you think the Mara/Kyle was realistic. I just figured they could try to build something on snark, for a time. LOL Han and Leia are happy grandparents in this reality. Thank you so much, lady.

    Jade_eyes: Thank you!! I love that scene of the giving of rings. Sort of a wedding. [face_love] hahahaha Only one ending, sorry. But there’s a prequel to look forward to… ;)

    Immertreu: I’m glad you’re loving the forums!! So great to have you here! And emotional rollercoaster is what I was going for, but it was tough to write. I’m glad the effect is still there after another read. Thank you so much!!
    Last edited by ginchy, Oct 12, 2012
  18. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Chapter 12

    After a drawn-out moment Luke squeezed her hand and let it go, clearing this throat. Mara's vow to help him get back to Ben had given him new hope that he would get home to his son after all. Mara turned back to the ship's navicomputer and he studied her, watching her hands as she checked the course, a matter of rote. He liked watching her work, the quiet moment between them a comfortable one. But thinking of Ben led him to think of Mara's children.

    "What do we do when Ben and Betrys come home?" He wasn't just asking to make small-talk, though part of him could admit that he just liked saying Betrys's name aloud.

    Mara barely faltered in her movements, but Luke noticed a tightening around her eyes. He could understand. Seeing him was a shock to her and even with the joy she had found in being with him, she didn't want to bring that pain on her children.

    "Let's take you before the Council first," Mara said, turning in her seat to look at him. "Then we'll make the hard decisions."

    Luke nodded in acceptance and saw those lines around Mara's eyes diminish again. He picked up his robe from the back of the chair and shrugged it on, the cockpit a bit cool for his liking. He pawed at a strange lump in his pocket, realization dawning as he pulled Niargen's cup from it. He looked once more at the lines that still seemed in some way familiar.

    "Maybe the map will lead you home." Mara was eyeing the cup, too.

    He nodded, holding it up for her inspection. "I should just throw it away, but something about the 'map' is familiar. Wishful thinking, probably."

    "Maybe," Mara said. "But I've been thinking…what if the map wasn't a map of Creish Station after all?"

    "What do you mean?" Luke peered at the cup, trying to look at it with new eyes. "That maybe it's a map of Coruscant or someplace else?"

    "Exactly. It could be anywhere. He didn't tell us where to begin. We just assumed it began at the asylum."

    "And now we just have to find our starting point," Luke said absently. He was opening himself to the Force as he spoke, staring at the cup and trying to reconcile the lines and points.

    As he opened himself widely to the Force and the energy expanded outward, he was again confronted with that same feeling he had during his first twenty-four hours in this galaxy. The feeling that something was off, different here than in his own time and place. His heartbeat accelerated as he followed the feeling, stretching out with the Force over great distances only to encounter something dark.

    It was an oily, suffocating feeling that he hadn't sensed for years. Something he never wanted to sense again. He took a deep breath, stifled as the darkness seemed to recognize him, seemed to grow a face and turn to look at him. The lines on the cup merged with the place from which the darkness originated, and a single word fell from Luke's lips—

    "Byss."
    .
    .

    Luke blinked, pulling out of the Force. His lungs felt constricted and tight and he struggled to breathe.

    "Luke?"

    He turned and saw Mara's concerned face. Just the sight of her allowed him to expel a harsh breath and calm his mind, if not his heart.

    As the darkness dissipated, his vision, or whatever it had been, started to seem less real. He wondered if he could have imagined it, wished that he had imagined it. "I'm okay," he said, reassuring her.

    The skeptical look on Mara's face was almost enough to make him smile. "What did you see? And what did you mean by 'Byss'?"

    Luke shivered at that word on her lips, realizing that she hadn't felt the same darkness he had. The lack of their Force bond was unsettling. Now it was up to him to tell her about Byss and all of the baggage that went with it.

    And he was suddenly unsure of so many things. In his galaxy, Byss had been one of Palpatine's strongholds. He had gone there to confront the Reborn Emperor, but had ended up getting sucked in the dark side. He shuddered at the thought.

    But what had he just felt, exactly? If it was Palpatine, as he first suspected, why was his presence so clouded? Luke thought he would have been able to clearly sense Palpatine's presence. Now that he thought about it, this disturbance didn't feel the same as what he'd felt on Endor or Byss, but it felt dangerous nonetheless. Had one of Palpatine's acolytes survived? Had Palpatine tried to inhabit a clone body but been unsuccessful? Were there other Sith there?

    There were so many options, but one thing was clear—there was something dark, something wrong on Byss, and it had to be stopped.

    He wondered how Mara would take the news that, at least in his reality, her late Master had survived in some manner after Endor. This was a woman who had shed her doubts about her past earlier in life than his Mara. She had married and had a child years before his Mara had opened her heart to the ideas of love and marriage. A lot of her hesitation could be attributed to his own actions, he knew, especially on Byss.

    He looked into Mara's eyes, noting the slight narrowing of the corners. She was waiting, and not patiently, for an answer. But his heart seized in his chest. He didn't want to tell her about his failure with the Reborn Emperor, about his own brush with darkness.

    If he were truthful with himself, he didn't want to tell her about any of this.

    She opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off. "Byss is a planet in the Deep Core…you may never have heard of it."

    Mara wiggled her fingers in a 'come on' gesture.

    "Mara, I don't know how to tell you this…" Luke trailed off and closed his eyes. "I don't even know if what I just felt was real. Or maybe I know it's real and I don't want it to be."

    "From the look on your face, I think whatever you saw was real. Just tell me."

    Luke sighed. "I realized why the lines on Niargen's map were familiar. I recognized them. They're coordinates—star lines. And they seem to match those of the planet Byss."

    Mara nodded and turned to the starmap, inputting Byss's name and watching as a holo of the planet beamed from the viewing screen. She took the cup from Luke's hand and held it up to the image. "They do seem to match. I guess my question for you is what exactly is on Byss and why does it scare you so much?"

    He knew that, as much as he wanted to, he couldn't hide the truth from her. "It scares me because in my galaxy, Byss was the Emperor's last holdout. He had a citadel there, housing a supply of clones. Since I've been in this galaxy something has felt off to me in the Force, and just now I think I realized what it was."

    "You can't be saying that Palpatine's alive," Mara said incredulously. "Wouldn't I have felt that?" Luke felt a pang of sadness, remembering how his own Mara had claimed the same thing. "No, he's dead," she said after a long pause. "And has been for a long time."

    "I'm not convinced it's him, but I felt something dark. I know it seems strange. Crazy even. But I can only tell you what happened to me and what I just felt."

    "Well, I know it's not him. He's dead."

    The absolute conviction on Mara's face finally brought a shadow of a smile to Luke's. "My Mara didn't believe it either."

    "She didn't?"

    "No. She knew I had faced something—someone—very powerful in the Force, but didn't believe it was actually Palpatine."

    "She wasn't there with you?"

    "No, this happened just after the events of Wayland. The Empire had attacked Coruscant and I felt this strange call in the Force… did this happen to your Luke?"

    "No." Mara was shaking her head but her eyes were far away, as if she was backtracking over events. "Right after Wayland we came back to Coruscant and I worked for the Smuggler's Alliance while he started looking into setting up the Academy. We saw each other whenever we were on Coruscant at the same time…then we began to date…and you know the rest."

    Luke nodded. She had gotten pregnant with Betrys and their lives had taken a major turn. But what would have kept Palpatine from using a clone body and trying to retake the Empire? Did he even know about essence transfer in this reality? Again Luke doubted his vision, but he still couldn't deny it. "I felt a strange call and traveled to Byss, where I confronted the Reborn Emperor. Eventually, with Leia's help, we were able to overpower him, to kill him. But it was a close call."

    "This seems like a very sore subject for you." Mara reached out and tapped the white knuckles of his hand, curled tightly around the arm rest of his chair.

    "Yes," he said, forcing himself to loosen his grip. "It is." He couldn't say the rest…what else had happened there.
    Mara took his hand and rubbed her thumb over the knuckles in a soothing touch. "I didn't feel what you did, but I believe you when you say that there's something dark on Byss. Something the Jedi should look into. It seems that Niargen is pointing us there for a reason. Perhaps the other IDD is there."

    "With the Emperor," Luke murmured, unable to deny the possibility and thinking of the heavy price of going home.

    "Or some other dark Force user," Mara countered.

    Luke looked at the map of Byss in front of him. "I thought you'd be…frightened. Upset by this news."

    "I stopped letting Palpatine run my life years ago. The only fear I have comes from the fear I see on your face. But I am concerned about the situation. I know that the Force doesn't lie to you. Like I said earlier, I'll contact the Council when we return."

    "And tell them what, exactly?"

    "We have to think practically, Luke. I can't keep you hidden from the Jedi forever…and if there is a dark Force user out there, or another Sith, we have to tell them."

    Luke nodded. "I agree. And the more I think about this, the more I wonder if maybe I'm here for a bigger reason than just my desire to see you."

    "What do you mean?"

    "You wouldn't have known about Byss if I hadn't come here. There is something dark there, something you need to know about. What if I'm here to help prevent—"

    Mara cut in. "Prevent other battles or problems here that occurred in your galaxy?"

    "That's right. Maybe I'm here to stop things before they can start…" He trailed off, thinking. There were so many battles and skirmishes he had participated in over the years; it was hard to keep track of them and the impetus to each.

    Mara had grown quiet. He looked up to find her face blank as she shut down the map and stared out into the passing starlines. As if feeling his gaze, she spoke without turning to him. "You're here because youbrought yourself here, Luke. As hard as it is for me to say it and you to hear it, we've gotten along fine without you, for a long time now."
    His eyes widened but he didn't interrupt.

    "I often told you—him—that he couldn't take the weight of the galaxy on his shoulders. That it had been here before him and would outlast him. I didn't realize how true my words were, about the galaxy outlasting him. And he did more for the galaxy in his forty-eight years than most do in an entire lifetime. But you're not here to right the wrongs of your galaxy. You came here to find me and, I think, to find some peace."

    She reached out a hand to clasp his again, turning from the starlines to face him. "I was so angry with you for coming here, but I've forgiven you—I know the pain that you're in. I share it. But please don't turn this time we have together into some misguided mission. Your only focus now should be to get home to Ben."

    Silence descended between them. In that moment Mara reached for him in the Force, allowing him to feel her love. More than that, he felt the pride she felt in her husband and…in him.

    "How do you always know to remind me?" he asked thickly, squeezing her hand.

    "Remind you of what?"

    "That I'm just a man," he said with a smile. "Just a man."

    Mara shook her head. "You're a father, Luke, and you were a husband. A brother, uncle, friend, and Jedi. You're more than 'just' a man, but no man's shoulders are big enough for the fate of two galaxies."

    "But what about Byss?"

    "Like I said, I'll contact the Council when we return. We'll figure it out. We'll have to speak with them anyway…they may be able to help you find your way home."

    Luke thought of all of his friends in the Order and what they would think about this news. But the thought of going to them made him relax. He had faced Byss alone the last time, until Leia had forced the issue. Mara was right in wanting to involve the Council. The Force felt calm and serene regarding the issue, telling him that he was right to wait, to not rush in ill-prepared. It was against his nature to wait, but he resolved to listen to the Force this time. Especially concerning Byss. Releasing his anxiety, he turned to Mara with a slight grin. "So are you telling me that you don't want a list of things from my galaxy to watch out for?"

    "Well," Mara said, biting back a smile of her own, "that probably couldn't hurt. And I may have a few things to tell you about."

    "Me?"

    "Don't you think it works both ways? Did you ever face down a group of Ewoks bent on galactic domination with your Mara?"

    Luke slyed his eyes to her. "I hope you're joking."

    "Oh, Farmboy. If only I were…"
    .
    .

    It was evening when they landed back on Coruscant. Even though Luke was no longer as worried about Byss, he still carefully tucked Niargen's cup into his robe pocket. They both had a lot of thinking to do on the issue, but the Council would need at least two days to be called together. In the meantime he looked around the Sabre, knowing he might never see it again. He remembered being so proud to give this ship to his Mara. "Hey," he asked, glancing to Mara as she finished her post-flight check. "When did Luke give you this ship?"

    "Oh, it was for our ten year anniversary. I had recently crashed my ship into the Hand of Thrawn fortress—why are you smiling, Skywalker?"

    Luke shook his head, still grinning. "Just memories," he murmured. "Memories."

    Luke donned his Force disguise again and they headed back to the Temple, entering through Mara's secret passageway. He knew that he might soon be able to drop his disguise in the Temple, but pushed the thought away. Byss and Council meetings were things he didn't want to think about, and apparently neither did Mara. They stopped on the way for takeout and sat in the living room of her suite, eating and talking about nothing in particular. It was the kind of evening Luke had always savored with his wife, the type of evening they too seldom were able to indulge in.

    The diner they stopped in specialized in small fortune biscuits that were popular among tourists and takeout customers. His Mara had always rolled her eyes at them, generally making fun of the highly saccharine fortunes. As such, he smiled when she reached for her biscuit and broke it open, pulling the small piece of flimsy out.

    Your True Love is within your reach.

    She rolled her eyes and tossed away the flimsy, eating the rest of the biscuit in one bite. After she had chewed it she eyed Luke, who was sitting on the floor near her legs, back against the couch. "Good thing I didn't get that fortune while I was with Kyle."

    He rolled his own eyes, but laughed. "I can put myself a little closer to your reach…"

    Mara smirked. "Open your fortune," she said, nudging him with her knee. He did.

    You'll soon be embarking on a long journey.

    He looked up at her solemnly, holding the fortune in his hand. Mara rolled her eyes again. "Who needs the Force when you have fortune biscuits?"

    "It remains to be seen if my fortune will actually prove correct," he couldn't help but point out. At that moment, the possible Sith on Byss seemed almost a forgotten memory as the warmth of being near Mara lulled him into a sense of security. He couldn't help but tease her. "Yours, at least, is true…"

    "Are you so sure about that?" Mara teased, dropping her hand to his hair and scratching softly at his scalp.

    He dropped his head against the seat of the couch to look at her. "Surer than I've ever been of anything."

    Mara's eyes were closed, but her trademark half smile was evident on her face. "It's still so odd to be here with you. Because as much as you are like my Luke, you aren't him." Mara looked down at her fingers, brushing them against the fringe of his hair. "Even though you look just like him, and sound just like him," she let her fingers brush lower, across his lips. "And make me feel the way he did…"

    He pursed his lips and kissed her fingers, his words solemn as he spoke. "I would never want to take his place. He was your husband, the father of your children…this was his life, not mine. But I can't help but think that if our situations were reversed, he would find any way he could to get to you—my Mara—too."

    "Yes, well, like you he was a hopeless romantic." Mara chuckled, but her eyes shimmered suspiciously. She placed her hands under his shoulders and pulled him up onto the couch next to her.

    He laughed softly but let himself be pulled, twisting to right himself as he moved into a sitting position next to Mara. He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear and let his fingers trail down it, rubbing the individual strands with his fingers. "Would you laugh—or roll your eyes—if I told you that I have a lock of Mara's hair in my pocket?"

    Mara squashed a smile. "I would call you a hopeless romantic," she repeated herself, leaning in and kissing him softly on the lips. "Can I…can I see it?" He pulled the small braid of hair from his pocket, the bright red gold braid free of the white hairs that would come later. He held it in the palm of his hand and let Mara inspect it. "Did she know you had it?"

    "Yes, and she laughed at me for it."

    "I have to admit that it's a little…weird…to see," she said. "You don't have any other strange mementos, do you? Toenail clippings? Belly button lint?"

    His cheeks heated but he shook his head with a good natured smile. "Left those at home," he said with a wink.

    Mara laughed. "I've missed that," she said. "You making me laugh."

    "I've missed your laughter."

    "I've missed the way you used to wake me up with kisses and a cup of caf."

    "I've missed the way you would say my name at unexpected moments. I always loved the sound of my name on your lips."

    "Well, Luke," she emphasized his name and smirked, "one thing I can say I haven't missed is your lectures on the Force."

    "Oh, no?" He reached out with the Force and lightly tickled her sides with invisible fingers, massaging his way up her arms to her shoulders and hair. "What about the lectures on responsible use of the Force? Wait, that's right, you taught me that."

    "She did…" Mara murmured.

    Luke licked at his lower lip. He expected an awkward pause at that mention, but Mara just quirked her half-smile at him.

    "But it's a good lesson to learn," she continued, leaning in so close that he could feel her breath on his face. "Invisible fingers are nice, but the real thing…" She wrapped her hand around his neck and pulled him into a kiss.

    Their lips met and parted, Mara moaning as he deepened the kiss. He allowed her to control it, moving his head to her liking. She pushed him back on the couch and he settled into the curve of the arm, cupping her back and letting his hands wander as they continued their kiss.

    He felt so right again, at home in Mara's arms. He could stay there indefinitely, kissing her and letting her kiss him back. This completion of spirit was so long missed and he would never be able to duplicate it with anyone else. He groaned and pulled her closer, pushing one leg in between hers, thoughts of Byss and meetings with the Jedi Council far away.

    "Wait!" Mara said abruptly, pushing up on him, gasping for breath. Her eyes were wild as she glanced toward the door. She jumped up from him. "Luke, get up!"

    "What?" he said, sitting up automatically. "Mara, what—"

    But she didn't get a chance to reply as the door to the suite opened and in walked Betrys and Ben Skywalker.

    "Mom? Surprise!" Ben yelled.

    But Luke's eyes were riveted to Betrys, Mara's daughter, who looked at him and threw a hand to her mouth as her face registered her shock.

    He threw a concerned look to Mara when Betrys dropped her hand and cried out, "Dad?"

    .
    .

    [face_devil]
    Last edited by ginchy, Oct 12, 2012
    Jedi_Lover likes this.
  19. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Byss :eek: ouch! Wish that whole episode could be erased or forgotten but I guess it must be dealt with [face_thinking]

    L/M and their talk and the Force-tickling, yum!!!! And he keeping a lock of her hair -- thanks for a "Keepsakes" future posting. [face_love] [face_love]

    Wow! Now the really interesting conversation starts [face_laugh] with Ben and Betrys -- much 'splaining to do [face_laugh]

    [:D]
  20. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    BUSTED! Oh boy, they have some explaining to do.

    I hate the whole Byss thing. It should be Infinities and not canon. Don't get me started on Luke becoming Darth Vader-lite. [face_not_talking]

    Nice update!
    Last edited by Jedi_Lover, Oct 12, 2012
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  21. immertreu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2012
    star 1
    What Jedi_Lover said came to my mind, too: oops, busted! [face_laugh]

    Reading this chapter made me forget my coffee (not good, it's cold now ;) ) and the cough (good! stupid flu). [face_rofl] Wonderful update! I love how you put so much emotion in there, the seriousness but also the playfulness and happiness Mara and Luke should always have had.

    "That I'm just a man," he said with a smile. "Just a man."
    Mara shook her head. "You're a father, Luke, and you were a husband. A brother, uncle, friend, and Jedi. You're more than 'just' a man, but no man's shoulders are big enough for the fate of two galaxies."

    Well...he's just a man, but a special one. No wonder he tries to do everything himself. [face_nail_biting]
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  22. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: I wish the whole Byss ep could be forgotten too, girl. Believe you, me. The lock of hair thing came from a conversation between me and Mr. Ginchy. LOL! I’m happy to hand out inspiration. ;) Yes, I think Ben and Betrys have many, many questions. Thanks for reading!!

    Jedi_Lover: Busted is right! I so agree that it should be infinities. I doubt that Luke Skywalker would just wake up one morning and be like “Well, I’m out of cereal, time to turn to the Dark Side” as it seemed he did in that comic. Blah! Thanks, girl!!

    immertreu: Oh, no! I hope you’re feeling better now!! I’m glad you enjoyed the update. These last few chapters are my favorite of the story. And you’re so right. Luke is a special man. [face_love] It’s why I spend so much time thinking about/daydreaming about/writing about him… (Just don’t tell Mr. Ginchy! [face_rofl]) Thanks so much for reading again!!
  23. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Chapter 13

    The shock on the faces of the children tugged at Luke's heart and assaulted him almost violently in the Force. He was still masking his presence but could feel the vibration of the Force around him. The children were amazingly strong in it, just like his own son. He wondered how many nearby Jedi had felt their shock and what the consequences of that could be.

    Time seemed to slow for a moment. He got a good look at both of Mara's children, though calling them children didn't seem correct. Young adults, more realistically, though Betrys was actually almost thirty-one years old.

    Older than he had been when he had met Mara. That thought made him feel very old.

    She was beautiful, this daughter he never had. She was definitely Skywalker, in the set and shape of her face, with her high cheekbones and her dark blonde hair. She had her mother's clear green eyes. Even the narrowing of her gaze was pure Mara. Though she looked like a good mix of himself and of Mara, there was something more there, a look all her own or perhaps the look of Mara's side of the family about her mouth and forehead. After Ben was born, Mara had made the comment that sometimes she felt she was seeing her own mother or father in him. Luke was sure this Mara had felt the same about her first child.

    Betrys carried herself as a Jedi Knight, a saber at her waist. He noticed Artoo-Detoo standing right behind her and thought about Mara's comment that Artoo followed Betrys around like he had Luke. The thought made him glad. Just next to Artoo stood Ben and he, too, held himself as a Jedi. It tugged at Luke's heart even more to see Mara's son, as he was an exact copy of the son he had left behind, bright red hair even cut in the same style. Ben could pass for his son's identical twin and it made him long for the child he might never see again. He had to stop himself from reflexively stepping forward and hugging the boy.

    He turned his head slightly to see Mara, mouth open but no sound coming out. She had been against the kids ever seeing him and he hated that this had been thrust on her. But he didn't speak, waiting for her to break the silence first.

    "What in blazes is going on here?" Betrys growled. "I thought…you look…"

    Ben looked just as thunderstruck as he did. "Dad?"

    Luke dropped his head to his chest, tears prickling at his eyes. How he wanted to say 'yes' and validate the hope in Ben's eyes. In Betrys's.

    "This is not your father," Mara finally spoke up, regaining some of her composure. "But he is Luke Skywalker."

    "Clear as mud, Mom," Ben muttered, still staring at Luke. "What the kriff?" Artoo beeped, seemingly in agreement with Ben.

    Mara let the curse slide. "As hard as it is to believe, he's Luke Skywalker, but from a different dimension."

    "Okay, I'll bite," Betrys said. "What's he doing here?" Her eyes shot back to his but she looked away quickly, almost as if it hurt to look at him.

    Luke spoke up for the first time. "I used a…device to travel here. It allows for inter-dimensional travel. My wife… My Mara… passed away. I came here, seeking her again. I realize how this must sound. But the device is broken now and I'm trying to find a way home. Your mom is helping me—"

    "Let me get this straight," Ben cut in. "You came here for an inter-dimensional kriff?"

    "Ben!" Mara scolded, her face red and tight with tension.

    Ben didn't back down though, a Jade to the core. "Well, isn't tomorrow yours and Dad's anniversary, Mom? That's why we came home early, so you wouldn't have to be alone. We thought we would surprise you. I guess the joke was on us."

    Mara shook her head. "Look, I know you're upset, angry even. So was I when he first came here. But even though he's not really your father, he is your father from another place and time."

    "I can't believe you're so calm about this, Mom!" Betrys burst out. "I was…I can't even tell you the emotions I've gone through in the last few minutes. Too see him and he looks so much like Dad only to find out he's my Dad but not really? What are we supposed to think?"

    "Come sit down, let's talk about this like rational adults."

    "I'm not sure I want to do that," Betrys muttered. Ben nodded, apparently completely in his sister's corner.

    And though Luke's heart ached, he smiled inwardly at Ben's nod to his sister. It warmed his heart to think of Ben having an older sibling, even as it hurt him to think of his Ben, all alone in his galaxy.

    "Well, too bad. Sit," Mara said in her mom voice, the voice that had never failed to make Ben stop whatever he had been doing to obey. Luke realized he had never quite mastered that particular voice or ability.

    Betrys looked at war with herself but sat on the edge of the chair by the couch, Artoo rolling to a stop beside her. Ben flopped on the couch and picked up a sweet roll from their discarded dinner, popping it into his mouth and chewing.

    Luke knew the only way to prove to them that he was who he claimed to be was to show them through the Force. They may have believed their mother but needed more proof.

    "I can prove to you who I am, the same way I did for your mother," he offered.

    "I'll pass," Ben said, his voice leaving little doubt as to how he thought Luke's identity had been proven.

    Luke flushed, but didn't back down. "Through the Force, Ben," he said, his voice cracking over his son's name.

    Betrys glanced at her mother and received a nod before turning to eye her brother. She nodded and he made a face, but agreed, too.

    Using the skills he had acquired in hiding himself from the Force but still establishing a bond with individual people, he carefully reached out a Force strand to both Betrys and Ben. Betrys had amazing shields and initially rebuffed him, but eventually caught the strand of memory and allowed it to show her who he was, and what he was doing there in her galaxy. Ben faltered a little with the task, but managed after seeing his sister participate.
    He didn't show them specific memories as he had with Mara, but let more of a feeling flow to them, letting them sense his place in the Force and how he was a man named Luke Skywalker, even if he wasn't the Luke Skywalker they had known and loved.

    The decision to not show them specific memories was a last minute one, as he realized the implications of showing Betrys a galaxy in which she did not exist. The thought struck him as too sad to contemplate and he did not want her to bear that burden, to wonder if perhaps Ben was the only Skywalker child meant to be. He wasn't sure how to speak to her without revealing the information, but he would sooner run himself through with a saber than tell his—Luke's—daughter that she was a stranger to him.

    A quiet sniffle surprised him and he looked to see Betrys wiping a tear from her eye. "You feel just like him," she said softly. "So much like my Dad."

    His own eyes flooded with tears then. He expected more recrimination from her, more anger. But perhaps she could see that he had never meant to cause them or Mara any pain, that even if he had made the wrong choice it was a choice born of love.

    "I'm so sorry that I'm not him," he said to her. "More than you can possibly know."

    Ben watched impassively and stuck the last sweet roll into his mouth. "What do you mean you're stuck?"

    Betrys turned to her younger brother. "What?"

    "Earlier. He said he was stuck here now. What exactly does that mean?"

    Mara shook her head at her children. "It means what it sounds like. He's stuck here because the machine that brought him here malfunctioned." She left out that he had been unintentionally led to believe false instructions and he wondered if they would have to tell them that later on.

    "Actually," Luke cut in, "I have something to tell you about that, Mara. I started to suspect it on Creish Station, but wasn't sure how to bring it up."

    "Creish station?" Ben asked. "Where's that?"

    "Outer Rim," Betrys told him just as Mara turned narrowed eyes on Luke.

    He took her narrowed gaze to be a question and answered it. "While we were there I talked to the guy who shot at us."

    "When was this?" Mara asked immediately.

    "When you were dealing with the authorities over the crash."

    "What the—what's been going on since we've been gone, Mom?" Betrys tried to cut in, but they didn't answer her.

    "What did he say?" Mara asked crisply, sending her daughter a 'not now' expression.

    "He said that he had been paid to shoot at anyone who visited Niargen…by a man who was very good at sabacc."

    "So?" Mara said. "Get to the point, Farmboy."

    Luke didn't miss the astonished look that Betrys shot at Ben over the nickname. He sighed. "The man I arrested and took the machine from—he was a notorious gambler. And this is flimsy evidence at best, but the Force is telling me it's true—I was set up to come here, Mara. None of it was by chance."

    .
    .

    "What do you mean, 'set up'?" Betrys asked before Mara could form the words.

    "I mean that I was put in this situation not entirely of my own volition. Natasi Daala became Chief of State recently and she is distrustful of the Jedi. She and I have been going round and round on it. She believes that a just and balanced government, one that was fair, would have no need for the Jedi Order, no matter how often I explain to her that we do not bow to the government nor work within their regulation."

    "The recent Sith that you had in your galaxy couldn't have helped," Mara pointed out.

    Ben choked on the rice he was eating from the box of takeout. "A Sith? But they're extinct. Grandfather brought balance to the Force with his death. Every crechling knows that."

    Luke was grateful that Mara hadn't pointed out the identity of the Sith in his galaxy, as he was this Ben's Master, too. "That balance hasn't worked out quite so well in my time," he said, looking at Ben, forgetting for a moment that he was not his son. The overly long arms and legs were endearing, but Ben was growing into his body. He was a young man now and Luke blinked, thinking of the chubby baby he and Mara had left at the Maw. He had missed so much of his son's early life and now he might miss the rest of it due to Daala and his own stubborn heart.

    "But I don't understand," Betrys said, picking up the thread of conversation. "How are there Sith at all in your galaxy, unless…did Grandfather never defeat the Sith?" She touched her head to her temple as if the information or idea of it hurt. He couldn't blame her. Especially now with the situation on Byss. He noticed that Mara hadn't mentioned their suspicions of something dark lying in wait at Byss and decided to let her be the one to bring it up. There was no reason to alarm the kids yet.

    "No, he did. In the skies over Endor he killed Palpatine to save me and then died himself, becoming Anakin Skywalker again in the process. But for many years after his death there were Dark Jedi in the galaxy. There were Sith teachings and spirits that were found and used by those who didn't understand what they were doing." Like me, he thought. His failure with the Dark Side would always haunt him. His time with Mara and her understanding had helped, but he still heard Master Yoda's words deep within his mind and regretted that the Dark Side now touched him so deeply, even thirty years out. But forever was an even longer time.

    "It sounds like your galaxy is a lot different from ours," Betrys said. "But why would Daala send you away like this? Why not just kill you? This seems awfully orchestrated. Too orchestrated."

    Luke thought about that for a moment. "I think there are a few reasons she didn't want to kill me outright. If she'd had me murdered, she would risk being uncovered and turning me into a martyr. But if she could tempt me away by giving me something I desperately wanted, all the better, right?"

    "Plus, she knows right where you are just in case she ever has need of you," Mara added darkly.

    "That would mean there's a way back," Luke mused.

    "It could be as simple as someone else with an IDD carrying you back. Remember Naelli and how his device was stolen from him."

    Luke nodded at her, remembering that conversation. He didn't miss the look Ben was giving Betrys, both of them wondering what their mother had been up to since they had been gone.

    "How long have you been here?" Ben asked him.

    "Six days."

    "Were you even going to tell us you were here?" Betrys asked, her voice gone soft again.

    Luke didn't know how to answer, but Mara jumped in for him. "No. I wasn't going to let him. I tried to send him back that first day, but there were complications."

    "Yeah. He looks just like Dad," Betrys said.

    "I mean other complications," Mara said, but Betrys gave her a skeptical look. Mara shook her head. "It's late. I think we should go to bed and deal with this tomorrow."

    "Where's he sleeping?" Ben muttered, looking at Luke. Not waiting for an answer, he got up and left the room.

    Betrys sent Luke an apologetic look. "He's just overwhelmed. I guess I'll go back up to my room. I'll see you in the morning?"

    Mara nodded and hugged her daughter. "I'm glad to see you. I had planned to celebrate your birthday when you came back. We'll have to do something tomorrow."

    Betrys smiled faintly, returning the hug. "Okay, Mom. Goodnight." She looked down at her droid. "Come on, Artoo." Artoo shrilled out a response, his mechanical eye moving up and down as he looked at Luke. "Yes, we're leaving now," she said to the droid, sneaking a look at Luke herself. "Night," she murmured to him before escaping out the door.

    Mara heaved out a sigh when the door closed behind them.

    "Mara, I'm so sorry," Luke began, reaching out to grasp her arm. "I know you didn't want them to find out this way."

    "They were going to know sooner or later," she said. "It would be kind of hard to hide you forever. I guess we need to work on a plan of action. Do we reveal you to the galaxy or just the Council?"

    "Do I work with the Jedi or quietly slip around the edges of society looking for an elusive answer?"

    Mara had no answer for him and moved to sit on the couch again. He sat next to her, not quite touching her. "Betrys is beautiful," he said, smiling as he thought of Mara's daughter. "She really does remind me of myself, but there's a lot of you there, too."

    "She was definitely her father's daughter."

    Luke smiled sadly. "As for Ben—he could be my Ben's twin. It made me miss him even more than I already was," Luke admitted. "I keep wondering if time is passing the same way in my dimension as here. If so, it's only been six days. He could still be on Adumar. He probably doesn't even know I'm gone, unless he felt it in the Force."

    "I think of your Ben, too," Mara said. "I've been thinking about how we have to get you home to him. But every time I think of never seeing you again, I… it's…hard." Mara entwined her fingers with his and raised them to her mouth to kiss his knuckles. Over his hand she gave him a determined look. "In the morning, we'll figure something out."

    "In the morning," Luke repeated. "I guess I'll go back into the, uh, guest room. I don't want to upset Ben further."

    Mara nodded. "I think that would be wise." But she made no move to get up, using her hold on his hand to pull him in closer to her. He laid his head against her shoulder and she shifted so that they lay together in the crook of the couch.

    The gift of holding her again was enough to quell the anxiety in his chest, but he didn't sleep, his mind too busy thinking of what the morning would bring.

  24. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    What a wonderful update! Betrys is a darling! Wanting to understand, not throwing blame around. Ben is a little or maybe a lot LOL more reserved. Love Luke's reactions to them :D and the differences/similarities between the two times/places. =D= I seriously wish we could keep morning (the next morning) at bay [face_laugh] ;)

    [:D]
    ginchy likes this.
  25. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    I love love love love love this story. :D
    ginchy and Jade_eyes like this.
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