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
    Yes he did! Do you have a problem with that Ben?! I sure don't. Go to your room![face_not_talking]

    I love this story.=D=
    ginchy and Jade_eyes like this.
  2. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    I <3 Betrys.

    I <3 thinking that Luke had a little girl. [face_love]
    Jade_eyes and ginchy like this.
  3. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: Thanks! I’m glad that you like Betrys. She is close to my heart. And Ben is somewhat different. He hasn’t known his father, which breaks my heart. I’m currently writing ‘200’ right now and I’m trying to pretend that Luke never dies. LOL I, too, wish we could keep the next morning at bay, but there’s some good stuff coming up there, too! ;)

    JediMara77: [:D] ^:)^

    Jedi_Lover: hahahahah that’s right. Ben can go to his room or go stay at Betrys’s!! LOL Thanks, gal!!

    Taramidala: Thank you, girl. I <3 Betrys, too. I adore the idea of Luke with a daughter, as well. Speaking of, can’t wait to read moar of something…. Tee-hee.
    Last edited by ginchy, Oct 23, 2012
  4. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    CHAPTER 14

    Mara woke early the next morning. Luke turned to smile at her, kissing her temple. She was warm in his arms and he was loathe to move. Ben hadn't left his room since he entered it the night before, but Luke knew they should move before he came out and found them on the couch. He wasn't sure how Mara's son would feel or react if he saw them together. Mara appeared to be in silent agreement. She leaned into his kiss for but a brief moment before getting up, leaving him to feel cold at the lack of her heat. But neither of them spoke, not wanting to mention what day it was or the strangeness of celebrating an anniversary with a woman and man that had never really been their husband or wife.

    Mara wandered off to her shower. He watched her go before getting up moments later himself and heading into the guest room and taking a shower of his own. After the shower he put on his own black clothing. He wasn't sure if the kids could recognize their father's clothes but felt more comfortable in his own around them. When he was finished he headed back out into the kitchen. It was quiet and he took the time to put on a pot of caf. Mara was never really herself before her first cup, and he knew that she liked it strong.

    He felt Betrys's presence behind him before he heard her move and turned to smile at her. "Good morning," he said. "Do you want a cup?" He realized then that he didn't know if she drank caf. He didn't know much about her at all, really. He found himself wondering if she liked hot chocolate, like he did or her father had. Had her first word been 'Daddy' and did she like to fly fighters? Did she have a special person in her life? Was she happy? She was an enigma to him, and he found that he craved more knowledge about her.

    "That'd be nice," she said, walking closer to accept a mug. She was just a little taller than Mara, he saw, now that she was standing so close to him. She stared at him for a moment after she took the cup and looked away with a slight blush.

    "I'm sorry this is so uncomfortable for you," he said, trying to soothe her. He prepared his own mug and took a seat at the small table. "I really never meant… Actually, that's not true. I didn't really think about all the ramifications of what I was doing."

    "I remember how impetuous you could be at times…" she trailed off. "I mean how impetuous Dad was. Force, this is tough."

    "Your mom told me that you were really close with your dad."

    Betrys smiled wistfully. "Yeah. I miss him so much, even still. But you said your wife had died. Mom, I mean. Your kids must understand what I'm going through. I can't imagine losing her, too."

    Luke's stomach clenched. Kids. "It's been very rough."

    She took a slow drink, and her green eyes studied him over her mug. She swallowed and put the mug on the table. "I'd say so. Hopping dimensions is a bit… extreme."

    He smiled ruefully. "So I've heard."

    Betrys smiled back. "It's just so strange to be sitting here with you. My dad died when I was 17. Since then I've wished he were here to ask him so many things."

    "I felt that way about my father, too," Luke said. "I had a few moments with Anakin before he passed on into the Force. But after Endor I found myself wishing that he had lived so that I could talk to him about, well anything, really—my mother, his life as a Jedi, how to restructure the Order. The list was seemingly never ending."

    She nodded in commiseration. "That's it exactly. I never thought about it that way, that he might have felt the same in his life."

    "I know he never would have wanted to be an absent father," he murmured thickly, thinking of how absent he's been with Ben since Mara's death. He wasn't selling himself short; he had tried. But the overwhelming loss and the chasm that had existed prior to Mara's death had played into circumstance. "I wanted nothing more as a child and young man than to know my father. I'm so glad that you got to know yours, even if that was ripped from you far too soon."

    Betrys's eyes were bright. "The only time Mom really talks about Dad is to tell me how much I'm like him. Sometimes too much like him, she says. He had this habit of being able to see all options in a situation—"

    "And it hindered how he made choices involving those situations?" Luke finished.

    "Sometimes. I would ask how you know that, but…" She gestured at him as if it were obvious.

    He grinned. "Yeah. Listen, I know you're not my daughter," he throat ached with those words, "but if I could give you some advice…?"

    She nodded, wrapping one hand around her mug.

    "I've suffered from second guessing myself for many years now. It's hard to be an impetuous second-guesser, but I always do things the hard way, at least according to your Uncle Han."

    Betrys nodded again, as if she knew that already.

    "But I think that the second-guessing comes from not relying fully on the Force. The best decisions of my life have been made with a clear head and glad heart, when I've listened to the guidance of the Force. A wise woman once told me that the Force was about power and guidance and that a true balance between the two could only be achieved through listening and respecting the Force itself."

    "But that's so tough to do sometimes," she said softly. "Overwhelming."

    "That's how I felt when your mother taught me—reminded me of—the lesson," he said. "Well, my Mara. And it was—tough to do, I mean. But when you're at peace and you can listen to the guidance, you'll know what to do and suddenly, it's not so overwhelming at all."

    Betrys smiled at him and he smiled back, longing to stand and give her a hug, to hold the daughter he could never have imagined. He felt a sense of happiness about her in the Force, however, and that was enough for him. It made him smile wider.

    He realized, too, that his words were for him as much as they had been for Betrys. He had been chasing solutions to his predicament but hadn't listened to the Force, hadn't sought the answers through the most powerful tool at his disposal. At that thought a sense of peace settled over him, and he realized that he might be on track to finding out how to get back home.

    "By the way," he said. "Happy birthday."

    Betrys blinked and then grinned. "Thanks. Thirty-one. I can't believe it."

    "Can't believe what?" Mara asked, coming into the kitchen, followed by Ben. Ben looked furtively at Luke before grabbing a box of cereal from the cabinet.

    "I was just telling… uh… Luke… that I can't believe I'm thirty-one today," Betrys explained.

    "You can't believe it?" Mara asked, leaning down to hug her daughter. "I pushed for three hours those many years ago and can't believe it myself."

    Luke was happy to see Mara parenting her adult daughter. He could tell how close they were, could feel an echo of their strong bond in the Force. His Mara had died when Ben was only fourteen and had missed his formative teenage years. She would never see her son grow into a man and that left both Luke and Ben bereft.

    "Dad always said I was born on your wedding night because I wanted to be there to celebrate with the two of you." Betrys's eyes were distant as if she were remembering her father telling her the story.

    Mara released an amused puff of air. "Yeah… he had been nagging me every day since we had learned I was pregnant to marry him. I was stubborn and didn't want to do it while pregnant… but on the day you were born… I finally gave in and said 'yes' and you have never seen a man move so fast in your life. We were married in a matter of hours."

    Betrys laughed. "You've never told us that story before. I'd only heard it from Dad. I like hearing you talk about him."

    Mara looked startled by the statement, before her eyes shuttered. "…It was a long time ago. Let's talk about your birthday. What are you plans for tonight?"

    Betrys sighed as if disappointed, but answered her mother. Ben didn't say anything but had obviously been listening to the story by the look of the wide, interested set of his gaze. But Luke noticed that when Mara changed the subject his face had fallen. "Yeah, happy birthday, sis," he muttered, punching her in the arm as he exited the kitchen with his breakfast.

    Luke watched him go and frowned to himself. This Ben had never even known him, really. His father had died when he was so young. He tried to imagine all he would have missed with his own son had he died at the end of the Vong war. It was too great a loss to contemplate. He wondered what exactly Ben knew of his father. Something told him that most of Ben's knowledge had come from Betrys, not Mara.

    "…cheer up when I take him out with me tonight," Betrys was saying when Luke tuned back into the conversation between mother and daughter.

    "What about Mr. Blood-Stripes? Is he going to be at this party?" Mara asked, sending her daughter a sly look.

    Luke was surprised at the protective feeling that streaked through him at the idea of Betrys and this unknown man.

    Betrys rolled her eyes. "Not unless he was a stowaway from Naboo, Mom. Don't get too excited for grandchildren just yet."

    "I think we can wait awhile on that," Mara said coolly. "I'm not really what you'd call a 'granny'."

    Betrys laughed. "I'm not that much younger than Jacen," she pointed out.

    "Yes, but Han's twelve years older than me. I have no desire to hear him call me 'Granny Jade' yet." But Mara quirked her lips in a small smile and Luke knew that someday she would make a fantastic grandmother. He felt voyeuristic watching this conversation and tried to figure out how to make his exit so that Betrys could have some time alone with her mother.

    But Mara made it easy on him. "I have your present in my bedroom," she said to her daughter. "Come on."

    Betrys stood to follow her mother, turning to give Luke a parting smile as she left the room.

    He enjoyed the silence of the kitchen for a moment, finishing his caf and taking the mug to the sink to rinse. He heard Artoo whistling down the hall, and the sound managed to make him feel both at home and in a foreign land. He didn't have time to contemplate that thought as he felt another presence behind him. He steeled himself, turning to look into Ben's blue eyes, so like his own. If this Ben was as similar in action and emotion as he was in looks to his own Ben, Luke knew he should tread lightly. "Hi," he said, asking for nothing except maybe a greeting in return.

    Ben grunted and moved past Luke to get a different box of cereal from the cabinet. He opened it and poured it into his bowl, shooting another furtive glance in Luke's direction. Still, Luke didn't say anything, though his heart was beating hard in his chest. How different this conversation would be if he were back in his own dimension. But no matter where he was, Luke wasn't sure where to start. Or if he should start.

    "How did your wife die?" Ben asked, breaking the silence but not looking up from his bowl. He stirred his spoon around in it slowly.

    Luke swallowed hard. He wasn't sure how much to reveal, scared not only of revealing that Betrys didn't exist in his dimension but also of telling Ben about Jacen's fall to the Dark Side. "She was murdered by the Sith your mother mentioned earlier."

    "Oh," Ben said, sounding incredibly young in stark dichotomy to the sharp set of his face. It was the angular and changing face of a young man. "I'm sorry."

    "Thank you."

    "When did it happen?"

    "Almost two years ago now," Luke said, amazed by the span of time. That first night he hadn't even wanted to go to sleep. If he slept then the day was over, the day he had felt Mara die. She had been alive that morning and gone that night and it just seemed so wrong and terrible. Now he had lived without her for almost two years, but it had been a half-life. A disservice to his son, and to himself. Not to mention a disservice to Mara's memory.

    "Two years," Ben repeated and Luke could see him imagining himself as a fourteen year old, losing his mother. "That's how old I was when Dad died. Two."

    Luke nodded. "I know. I … Your mother told me that."

    "You don't look like I thought you would," Ben said, changing the subject.

    "Really?"

    "Yeah, you're shorter than I imagined."

    Luke laughed. "You're not the first to say so, son." He winced as soon as the word left his mouth.

    Ben looked stunned but quickly recovered with a mask of indifference. "Guess you're pretty happy to be stuck here with my Mom. You know, after losing your wife, and all."

    "Seeing your mom has been… healing." He wasn't sure how to explain the complexities of the situation to a teenager. Healing seemed to be good, and true enough, of a word.

    "I'll bet." Ben was baiting him, covering up for being uncomfortable. And he wasn't finished. "So what happens now, Dad?" Sarcasm dripped in his voice. "Are you and mom going to get together and 'complete' our family?"

    "I think your family was pretty complete already," Luke said evenly. "Just missing a member. But I'm not here to take his place. No one could ever do that." He paused. Sighed. "You may not realize it but this is hard for me, too. I see you and think of my own son. I think about how I need to get home to him."

    "You have kids?"

    Luke's heart seized. "Yes," he said, hoping Ben didn't ask him to elaborate.

    "And they lost mom—your Mara?"

    Luke nodded. "I know you might not understand this, Ben. But I came here because I felt so desperate to see my wife again. I realize now that I didn't completely control this choice, that I was led into it, but it was still with my eyes wide open. I can only apologize to you for … for interrupting your life."

    Ben set his bowl on the counter and regarded Luke. He ducked his head just slightly to the side in an action that Luke had seen from his own son. He was still uncomfortable but leaning toward forgiveness. "Yeah, all right," he said after that beat. "Just—what happens now? Do we start a reality-based show on the HoloNet hawking you as the wacky dad of two Jedi that hopped dimensions to find the only woman who would have him, bowl-cut and all?"

    "First, I don't have a bowl-cut—"

    "Anymore," Bet cut in.

    Luke concealed a smile, but kept talking. "And second—do you think anyone would watch?"

    "Are you kidding?" Ben asked, with a small smile. "We'd be a hit."

    Ben's half-smile eased some of the ache in Luke's heart. But the unreality of it all was still a hard pill to swallow. His heart led him in two directions—staying here with Mara and her children or going back home to his own son. His brain knew he could only have one, but his heart, his heart wanted both.

    He rolled his eyes playfully at Mara's son. "I don't know, Ben. I'm not sure our family life is messed up enough for a reality show."

    Ben grinned outright at that. "A sense of humor. I also didn't expect that, no matter what Betrys says."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Oh, just that Bets tells me about Dad sometimes and I never know what to think about it. I wish Mom would talk more about him, but she hardly does."

    Luke could imagine that. "I think it's just hard for her, Ben. She loved your father very much."

    "Yeah," Ben agreed. "But she's not the only one who did."
    Last edited by ginchy, Jan 31, 2014
  5. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    =D= =D= I've always known you to be stellar at the mushy warm coupley dialogue, but this ... it's deep and confiding without being over the top or ultra-intense or trite. That is a fantastic balance when emotions are involved and bravo for acing it superbly @};-

    [:D]
  6. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Excellent dialog! I feel bad for Ben. He never knew his father. That has to be tough for him. Excellent story!^:)^
  7. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: Thank you so much, gal! I really wanted EoA to reflect a mature love for L/M. I’m so glad that came through.

    Jedi_Lover: Thanks, gal! I like writing dialogue. And Ben, that does break my heart.
  8. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Just a note: I had hoped to be finished with the 'prequel' to EoA, "200 Proposals" by late summer, or definitely before Nanowrimo in November. Sadly, I don't think that's going to happen. I still have a chapter and a half to write. HOWEVER, that means that I will finish it and start posting by January, at the latest (Jedi's honor!!). It's just a seven chapter short-story, but we all know how slow ginchy is with the writing. ;) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter. The scene between Mara and Ben (with Betrys and Luke looking on) is one of my favorites. Thanks for reading!! [:D]

    Chapter 15

    Mara's holocomm unit beeped with a message. She went to answer it while Luke remained out of sight. Betrys and Ben had taken Artoo and left for some saber training, wanting to ease any suspicion the Jedi may have after the explosion of emotion from them the night before. He longed to go with them and watch them spar, but contented himself with the newfound accord he had gained with both of them. Plus, he would see them when they returned home, before they left to celebrate Betrys's birthday.

    "That was Corran."

    Luke looked up in surprise. He hadn't even listened to the conversation.

    "I invited him to meet me… us… here, though he doesn't know about you yet. I think that we should feel out the reaction first before bringing you before the full Council." Luke nodded. Mara had earlier sent out a call for the Council to meet in two days time. He could tell that she was probably a little restless and talking to Corran might help ease her mind, and his. "Luke and Corran were friends," she continued, "and we can trust him."

    Luke smiled faintly. "Should we tell him my suspicions about Byss?"

    "I think so. If there is a Sith there, a strike team will have to be organized. And since I trust what you say implicitly…" She trailed off as if to say that no matter what, a strike team would be organized. Luke had mostly pushed the thought of the Sith on Byss to the back of his mind after he had met Mara's children. Now it seemed time to deal with reality again. But Mara's faith in him immediately served to make him feel lighter knowing that, one way or another, the situation on Byss would be handled.

    The door buzzer rang. "Should I be in the other room or just be here for him to see me right away?"

    "Just let him see you," Mara said, walking toward the door. "I always like to put Horn off balance."

    Luke shook his head. Yes, she was a universal constant. Still, he moved into the kitchen and sat down at the table. He wanted to wait and see how Mara would actually proceed.

    "Hey, Mara," Corran said, coming in the door. "What was so important it couldn't wait for the Council meeting?"

    "What? You don't like spending time with me? I'm wounded."

    "What Mirax sees in you, I'll never know." Corran sounded amused, and Luke could picture the grin on his friend's face.

    "Funny, I always say the same to her. But listen, Horn, I have something serious to discuss with you…"

    He listed as Mara explained the situation to Corran. Corran didn't really say much. After Mara was done speaking they wandered into the kitchen.

    Luke stood and faced his friend, noting the only difference from his dimension being the lack of Corran's facial hair. "Hi, Corran. I know this is a shock."

    "You could say that," Corran said, his eyes tracking over Luke's face.

    Luke could feel Corran reaching out with the Force, trying to get a sense of him. "I've been constantly shielding," he said. "It's beginning to wear." But he once more established an individual bond with Corran, allowing him to sense the truth to Mara's words, that he was indeed Luke Skywalker.

    "Wow." Corran looked like he could use a stiff drink. "Even if you're not the Luke I knew, it's damn good to see you again."

    "Thanks." Luke couldn't help but smile at Corran, but also at the shocked expression on his face.

    Mara smirked. "Well, sit down, Horn. We're about to shock you even more."

    .
    .

    Corran sat hesitantly across from Luke and Mara. His eyes kept tracking back and forth between them, and Luke glanced nervously over at Mara to gauge her reaction. She was stiff in her chair. "Yes, he looks just like Luke. We've established that."

    Corran blushed. He reached for his cup of caf. "Sorry."

    Luke smiled gently at him. "I'm sure it's hard to get used to. I'm sorry this is so difficult."

    Green eyes slyed toward Mara. "Yeah," Corran said. "It's okay. I'm just absorbing the information before you drop another bomb on me. I am curious as to why you wanted to talk to me alone, and not the full Council."

    "Just to feel out the reaction, really." Mara had her hands wrapped around a mug, but had yet to take a drink. "And to wrack your brain, to see if you can help us."

    "The issue is two-fold," Luke said with another glance at Mara. She gave him a small nod and he felt confident to go on. But Corran cut him off first.

    "I'm also curious as to why you're here. How you got here, how long you've been here. For what purpose." The shock seemed to be wearing off and Corran was now relying on his old CorSec training to get answers.

    Luke wasn't sure how much to tell his old friend. It was partially out of embarrassment, but also because the pain and longing for Mara was private, not something he wanted on display. He ended up giving Corran an abbreviated version of the events that had led him into this dimension. He finished up with the fact that the IDD was broken, and that he was seemingly stuck there.

    By the time he finished Corran was stroking his chin, looking deep in thought. He was silent for a moment, then he looked at Mara. "That's the quietest I've heard you in a long time, Jade."

    Mara groaned but seemed to appreciate the attempt to cut the tension. "That's all you've got, Horn?"

    "I…" Corran sighed. "No. I don't know. This is… you're right. A shock. How are you dealing with it, Mara?"

    "I'm fine." Mara's tone didn't leave room for an argument or any further questions. "We asked you here for advice. Do you think the Council can help him? Have you heard of anything like this? Do you have any ideas?"

    "I really… If you haven't thought of it, I'm not going to. But he should come before the Council." He turned his eyes to Luke. "You always said that the Jedi were a family. Now is when you need that family."

    A slow smile threaded across Luke's face. Corran was right. Would wonders never cease? "I will. Just as soon as they're all together. Day after tomorrow, right?" Off Mara's nod, he frowned. "Because there's more, Corran."

    "I'm not sure I want to know." When neither Luke nor Mara smiled, Corran propped his chin on his palm. "Now I'm really sure I don't want to know."

    "There may be a Sith in the galaxy." Mara spoke before the moment could drag out any longer.

    "A what? How…?"

    Luke told him about the darkness that he felt surrounding Byss. He also told him an abbreviated story about his experiences on that planet in his own galaxy. "At first I was afraid that Palpatine was there, but now… with a clearer head… I think that it's someone else. Someone still dangerous and who needs to be stopped. But not… him."

    "Thank the Force for small favors." Corran sighed. "Any more bombs you want to drop on me? In your galaxy am I married to Isard or something?"

    Luke chuckled. "No. To Mirax and you have two great kids."

    "Well, there's that, at least. Look, I can understand your fears about Byss. But we're strong. The Council will send an envoy to Byss and we'll take care of the problem. There're many Knights and Masters to help. What I'm trying to say is that I think, well, not knowing all the particulars, but I think we can handle this."

    Luke nodded. "And I really don't know much, other than the dark presence I felt and this map." He pulled Niargen's cup from his pocket. "It was given to us by a man in an insane asylum."

    Corran rolled his eyes. "Skywalkers. Never can do anything the easy way." He studied the cup. "This isn't much to go on. "

    "Really?" Mara frowned at him. She tapped her fingers on the table impatiently. "Didn't your fancy CorSec training give you anything more than that, Horn?"

    Luke glanced at her and then down to her hand. She let out a sigh but laid it on the table, next to his.

    "I could start talking about interrogation particulars and the intimacy of your body language, Jade, but I'll refrain."

    Luke instantly flushed a bright red, and though Mara's hand twitched as if she wanted to move it, she didn't. Luke wasn't sure if it was because she wanted her hand next to his, or just to prove to Corran that he hadn't rattled her, even though it was apparent he had. "Do you have anything else to offer?"

    "Sorry, sorry." Corran looked contrite. "Byss. You said Palpatine had a citadel there, in your universe? That it was his stronghold?" Luke nodded and Corran continued. "I've never been there. But I do remember an incident there, some years back. It seemed that a crime syndicate had taken up residence there. I'd have to check the HoloNet but I'm pretty sure it was busted up by New Republic Security Force."

    Luke relaxed in his chair as Corran stopped speaking. "Thank you, Corran. That's good news."

    "But we'll still meet with the Council." Mara rose from her chair. "Whatever is on Byss needs to be dealt with. And Luke needs all the help he can get to…go home."

    Corran looked back and forth between the two of them. "Yeah. Well, I'll head out then." He stood to leave.

    Luke stood, too, and reached for his friend's hand. "Thanks, Corran."

    Corran smiled. "It really is good to see you again." He turned to Mara. "Walk me out."

    Mara rolled her eyes. "You know the way, Horn." But she went with him anyway.

    Luke sat back down in his chair and heard Corran's low voice. "Are you okay, Mara? I mean—"

    "I'm fine, Horn." She sounded exasperated.

    "Mara. Mirax would eviscerate me with my own lightsaber if I didn't ask. You know that."

    "Tell Mirax I'm fine." Her voice was softer. "I'll comm her in a few days. And we will see you at the meeting."

    Corran took his leave, but Luke wasn't paying attention. His mind was on the next two days, and what a trip before the Council might bring.

    .
    .

    Mara returned to the kitchen, but didn't sit. Instead she started rummaging through cabinets. "The kids will be back soon. They'll be starved. Especially—"

    "Ben," Luke finished for her. "I have a hard time keeping food stocked."

    "He out eats you, and I never thought I'd see that," Mara agreed. She pulled out a package of noodles and shook them. "Do you feel up to making your infamous sauce again?"

    "You liked it that much?"

    "You can teach it to me this time. You cook and I'll watch."

    "Something tells me I've been had." Luke took the bag from her. Their hands brushed lightly together.

    He caught her eye and they stared at one another for a moment. The heat was still there, and the longing. He put down the bag of noodles and boxed his arms around Mara at the counter. His lips met hers in a slow kiss, the galaxy around them slowly melting away. There were no worries about Byss or Sith, getting him home, or the fact that it was their wedding anniversary but with different partners.

    There was nothing but their lips and mingled breath. Mara was the first to break away, leaning her forehead against his. "They'll be back soon," she whispered.

    "Yeah." His voice was gruff, but he stole another soft kiss before pushing against the counter and away from her. He started to open a cabinet before realizing he didn't know where anything was kept. Mara took pity on him and starting pulling out ingredients that she seemed to remember from the Sabre. They were quiet as they worked, but the silence was pleasant, not strained.

    He was just adding the last ingredient when the door slid open and they heard the kids enter. Mara went out to greet them. She came back a few minutes later with Betrys in tow. With her hair in a sloppy bun and wearing exercise clothing, she looked so young that Luke couldn't help but smile at her. "Hope you're hungry." He indicated the pots on the stove.

    Betrys's eyes lit up. "Starved!" She set a stack of flimsies and a datapad on the table. "We stopped by the Archives and picked up some materials that might be relevant to getting you home."

    Luke looked at the pile and thought he saw a small holocron among the items. "Thank you, Betrys." He wondered if perhaps there could be an answer there, or if his only option was on Byss. His stomach started knot up again but he quickly released the stress into the Force and took a deep, cleansing breath. "Let's eat first. Where's Ben?"

    "Taking a shower." Betrys smirked at them. "We passed Vestara in the halls and she said she was coming to my party tonight. Suddenly he had the urge to clean up."

    Mara laughed. Luke had to smile, too, even if he didn't know who this Vestara was. But he could imagine—Ben with a crush. He thought about his own son at home and wondered if he had a crush on anyone. He had never thought to ask. He didn't know of anyone named Vestara in the Temple, but he hadn't paid as close attention to the new recruits as he had before Mara's death. Another pleasure he had denied himself after her death. He was starting to realize that he hadn't even being living a half-life without Mara. He hadn't been living much of a life at all.

    "What are you making?" Betrys wandered over to the stove and looked into the pot.

    "Just a noodle and cream sauce dish." Luke stirred the sauce. "I taught it to your mother."

    "Yeah, I don't remember Dad ever making a noodle dish. He always really liked spicy dishes and hot sauces." She looked over at Mara. "Or did he know this one?"

    "No. Your father was on Dagobah when Luke learned this dish."

    Betrys raised a hand to her forehead in mock confusion. "How about I just eat and enjoy?"

    Luke grinned. "Probably smarter that way. It's ready now." He drained the noodles with the strainer Mara had set out for him, and Betrys and Mara took plates out of the cabinets and set the table. At that moment Ben wandered into the room and slid into a seat. All the domestic noises surrounding them were comforting. He and Ben had taken to eating take-out whenever Ben was home, or just eating sandwiches on the go. He sat at the table by himself most nights, Ben coming in and getting something and leaving again. Luke looked over at Mara's Ben, and smiled to himself upon seeing his hair combed in a way to appear attractively messy. Even if he was a Jedi Knight, he was still a teenager. The Ben in front of him seemed to merge in his mind with his own son Ben. Teenager or not, he was still his child.

    And he needed to get home to him.

    Ben took a small bite of his pasta. "Hey, I didn't know you could cook." He took a larger bite.

    "Dad never made this," Betrys said, propping her fork on the side of her plate to reach for her glass. "But it is really good."

    Luke opened his mouth to thank her, but Ben cut him off. "Did Dad cook often?"

    "He cooked some." Betrys smiled at him. "He also loved those spiced ribenes that you like."

    "Really?" Ben seemed lost in thought, but that didn't stop him from devouring the food on his plate and reaching for seconds.

    "Yes," Mara answered. Ben looked up at his mother. "All those spicy foods you like were things that he loved, too."

    "Oh." Ben pushed his fork around on his plate. "Interesting."

    Mara pressed her lips together, but continued speaking. "One time we visited you, during the war. Betrys stayed with Han and Leia so it was only you, your father, and me. It was when you and the other Jedi children were in hiding. You weren't quite two yet. We thought you were asleep one night and Luke had left this bag of spicy corn chips out on the table. I fell into an exhausted sleep but Luke told me later that he woke up to the sound of a bag crackling—you had climbed out of the crib and were eating the chips."

    Ben had gone absolutely still, his meal forgotten. Luke himself was still, wishing that there had been a night like this for him and his own son. He and Mara had never been able to visit Ben while he had been at the Maw.

    Mara continued, almost as if she was telling the story to herself. "When I woke up in the morning, you were asleep on his chest, your little face and hands stained orange. I remember wishing I had a holocam because you must have kissed his cheek before you went to sleep… it was stained orange in a perfect little ring, just the size of your mouth."

    There was silence around the table for a moment. Luke felt like he should feel like an outsider, but strangely he didn't. He was glad he was there for that moment, if nothing more than for the look of wonder and awe on Ben's face. He realized he wanted to see that look on his own son's face.

    "I wish…" Ben's voice wavered and he cleared his throat. "I wish I remembered that."

    Mara smiled sadly at her son. "I wish you did, too."

    .
    .

    The rest of the afternoon was spent pouring over rare books and datapads that Betrys and Ben had brought back from the Archives. Betrys switched off a datapad and heaved a sigh. "Nothing. Again."

    Luke smiled his thanks to her. He had enjoyed spending a few quiet hours with her like this, working together. She was very much a perfectionist, like her mother. "You should go enjoy your birthday," he said. "This can't be very fun."

    "There's the party tonight. I'll be fine." She tucked her hair behind her ears and went to work scanning through another document.

    He wondered if she really just liked being in his presence. He knew it was still a very surreal experience for her. But he had to admit that he liked being around her, too. She was just… amazing. The daughter he had never known he wanted. Mara's Ben was a great kid, too, so much like the son he had left behind. Thinking about the kids made the need for an answer of how to get home claw at him.

    He let his eyes move to Mara, looking through yet another datapad on the couch they had shared the night before. She had drawn back from him in front of the children, and he felt the walls rising again after her story about Luke to Ben. They weren't getting anywhere with finding any information on getting him back home, and he began to wonder what life would be like in this new dimension.

    And there was the fact that today was his and Mara's anniversary in both planes of existence. How different those wedding days had been. He allowed himself a moment to close his eyes and remember his Mara, in her beautiful wedding gown, repeating her vows to him. Though the private Jedi ceremony had held more spiritual meaning to them both, the public wedding had been the date they chose to observe, the day the entire galaxy had recognized their intent to be husband and wife. Their vows had stated they should be together until death or the Force parted them, but he never really thought it could happen, even in the darkest days of the Vong war when Mara had fought for her and Ben's lives. He had felt that he could prevent it somehow, through the sheer will of his love.

    The future had seemed so bright and beautiful on their wedding day, so full of promise and hope. And they had fulfilled that hope in their love for one another and through Ben, the greatest of all their accomplishments. In that moment of remembrance it was as if something shifted inside of him, as he realized that Mara's death did not invalidate the love they had shared. He realized that their love was always alive inside of him, and in the presence of their son.

    Mara looked over at him as if she too could feel the shift in his heart. It was then that he realized that she already knew this feeling, the feeling of letting go. It didn't mean that he loved Mara any less than he had just a moment before, but it meant that he could move on with his life. He would never get over her and he was sure he would never love another the same way as he had loved her, but he wouldn't wallow in his loss any longer. It was a part of him just as she was, both a part of the fabric of his soul.

    Betrys's hand on his arm made him snap from the moment of realization and he looked up at her questioningly. She and Ben stood next to him.

    "We have to leave for the party now. I didn't find anything, but maybe tomorrow…" she trailed off, still looking at him. "Unless you need us to stay?"

    "No. You two go on. Thank you." He stood and watched as they gathered their things together, Betrys hugging Mara goodbye at the door and asking her if it were okay for Artoo to stay the night.

    "So… Did you say anything to my Mom about what we talked about?" Ben's question was quiet and he stood awkwardly at the door, not quite meeting Luke's eyes.

    "No." Luke gave him a long look. "I think she just finally wanted to open up to you. Take it from me… Mara Jade can be very frustrating but she usually comes to things in her own time."

    Ben smirked. "You would know. I'm just glad she said anything at all. I think it's because of you. You have that kind of face. It makes people want to tell you things. I should perfect that and use it on girls."

    Luke couldn't help but smile. "Well, it worked for me…eventually. Have fun tonight. Watch out for your big sister."

    Ben grinned. "You should see her when she's angry. That's when the Jade comes out." Ben trailed out the door. "Come on, sis! Or are you getting too old to move quickly?"

    Betrys rolled her eyes. "I'm coming." She looked at Luke. "I'm sorry we didn't find any information to help you."

    "It's okay. Thank you for trying." He felt awkward but didn't want to miss this chance. He wasn't sure what tomorrow would bring, but the Force was telling him to take a risk. "Before you go, would it be okay if I, uh, gave you a hug?"

    He didn't look at Mara to gauge her reaction. His eyes locked on the young woman in front of him who could have been his daughter. She bit her lower lip before nodding slightly. Luke stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her, and it felt so right through the Force, so beautiful and pure. She sniffled a little against his shoulder but held her composure, pulling back far too soon but just at the right time.

    "Thank you," she murmured, "for that gift."

    His own eyes were heavy with tears as he watched her turn and walk out the door.
    Last edited by ginchy, Mar 6, 2014
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  9. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Great post. =D= Sweet gentle memories with just the sweet and barely a touch of bitter. :D Loved Luke's epiphany. It will make it easier for him no matter what happens - although I'll tell anyone who asks that L/M deserved gold, silver, and diamond anniversaries. :) [face_love]

    Luke does seem to be fitting in well with this family. :cool: Even for the kids, which is marvy, especially Betrys though that'll probably make him miss her more. [face_sigh]
  10. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    You know what I'm going to say, girl.

    THE CHIPS!!!!! :_|[face_laugh]=D=[:D]:_|:_|:_|
  11. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 5
    Just popped in to say OH THE CHIPS (*sob*). I almost cried when I read that the first time, and I almost cried the second time. DAMN YOU GINCHY,

    I love this fic, sorry I haven't been commenting on here, but I'd just be repeating what I said on LJ.

    I can't wait for the prequel!!!!
  12. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    That is so sweet. It must be hard for Ben not having known his father. This is a wonderful chapter.
  13. divapilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2005
    star 4
    Another pleasure he had denied himself after her death. He was starting to realize that he hadn't even being living a half-life without Mara. He hadn't been living much of a life at all. Love this story, Ginchy. How do you do it - make everything seem so seamless and natural and REAL? I feel like I'm listening in on these characters. Wonderful!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  14. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    Oh, the parent opening up to their child. How beautiful. :)
  15. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Jade_eyes: I agree. Luke and Mara deserved so much more than they got. (So did Han and Leia). But Luke did need that epiphany. He’s got a lot of life left, and needs to live it for his son, but also for himself. I’m glad you like Betrys. She’s close to my heart. Thanks so much for reading!!

    JediMara77: Girl, I know. That scene kills me!!! Thanks, lady!!!

    Bri: The chips kill me. I just needed that Luke and Ben to have a moment, at least, together. I’m sorry to almost make you cry!! (No I’m not. ;) ) Thanks, gal!!

    Jedi_Lover: Thanks, girl. It is hard for him. And Betrys knows what a great father he missed out on, so it’s doubly sad!

    Divapilot: Thanks so much, gal! I think it’s just my desire to help Luke be happy. [face_love] And I MISS YOU!!

    Taramidala: Thank you, gal!!
  16. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    CHAPTER 16

    After the door closed behind Betrys, Luke risked looking at Mara, fearing that he might have overstepped his bounds. But Mara's own eyes were suspiciously wet and he realized the impact of her seeing him hug her daughter. "Come here," he said, reaching for her hand, pulling her close. He buried his face in her hair, the tears drying on his cheeks. "She's remarkable," he murmured into her ear. "They both are, and that's a testament to your strength."

    Mara pulled back and gave him a sad smile. She shook her head. "They're a testament to both me and Luke." There was an awkward silence and as before, she clammed up when she spoke of her husband. Pulling away from him she went around the room, gathering up the flimsies and datapads.

    Luke pitched in, picking up the items closest to him and setting them neatly onto the occasional table. Her silence made him think about his hug with Betrys and his talk with Ben. He could see how the kids could be frustrated. When they mentioned their father, Mara would change the subject or stop talking all together, though her story to Ben at dinner had seemed a step in the right direction. But still he wasn't sure how to broach the subject with Mara, or even if he should broach the subject at all.

    He thought back to the look on Ben's face when Mara had told the story of his late night escapade with his father. Even just that small story had seemed amazing to Ben. Betrys remembered her dad, but Ben didn't remember him at all. And that thought alone was enough to make him speak. "Ben really enjoyed your talk at dinner."

    Mara's back stiffened. But when she turned to face him her eyes were not as guarded as he had thought they would be. "Yeah. Listen, I'm going to take these back to the Archives." She held up the bundle in her hands.

    "Mara—"

    "Skywalker."

    He sighed. He knew she wanted to get away from him, to clear her head and be alone with her memories. He forced a smile. "Go ahead. You'll be back soon?"

    Mara's smile was relieved. "Yes…I—yes." She seemed ready to say more, but didn't. She turned and left the room, and a moment later he heard the front doors cycling shut. He let out a defeated breath and sat on the couch. The room darkened toward night and still he sat there, his brain and heart too heavy and full for him to think of what to do next.

    A beep at the doorway drew his attention and he looked up to see Artoo Detoo trundling through the door. He stood and smiled at the faithful little droid. "Hi, buddy."

    Artoo's dome whirled and he let out a series of whistles and beeps as he came closer. Luke absently patted the droid and looked at the datapad attached to him. He let out a puff of air at what he read there. "No, I'm not your Master. Betrys is right."

    Artoo trilled another response. Luke read the datapad again. "That's right, Artoo. I am Luke Skywalker, but not—I'm not the Luke Skywalker who was married to Mara. Or the father of Betrys and Ben."

    Contemplating that, Artoo's mechanical eye moved up and down as if taking in Luke's full measure. At the response on the screen, Luke laughed. "Yes, I am pretty sure my inner workings are the same as his."

    Artoo rocked from side to side and whistled mournfully. Luke didn't need to read the screen to interpret that sound. A lump formed in his throat. "I'm sure he… I'm sure he would miss you, too."

    Another response popped up on Artoo's screen. "Betrys says that, too, huh?" Luke smiled at the little droid. "She's amazing, Artoo. I know she's a good Master for you now. I… couldn't tell her this, but where I come from, I don't have a daughter. And it makes me sad to think that I missed out on knowing her."

    Artoo was silent and Luke patted his dome. "Sorry, 'Too. I didn't mean to dump that on—" He stopped as Artoo's robotic eye flashed a hologram. And much like he had some forty years before when viewing another of Artoo's holos, Luke had to sit down.

    "Da-Da." A baby voice rang out from the holo. A baby, Betrys, was speaking. "Da-Da," she said again. Luke watched her walk on chubby legs only to be caught up in a pair of familiar arms. "Bets!" his own voice exclaimed. He watched as Luke picked up his daughter and blew on her belly, tickling her. "Bets."

    He swallowed past a lump in his throat. "That…that's amazing." His voice was raw, scratchy with more unshed tears. He wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand, just staring at the image of father and daughter. His mind trailed to Mara, in the Archives, and how seeing him hug her daughter must have affected her. "Do you have any holos of the three of them together, Artoo?"

    An affirmative beep came only seconds before another holo, this one of Betrys a little older. It appeared to be her birthday, as she was grinning and leaning over a large cake. Her parents were behind her, holding hands. Betrys looked to be about four, so it would have been their fourth anniversary. He smiled as young Betrys dipped her finger into the cake's icing and stuck it into her mouth. "Betrys," holo Mara moaned. "Wait for me to cut you a slice." But holo Luke just looked amused. He reached out and swiped his own finger into the icing, and put it into Mara's mouth. Mara did not appear amused and grabbed his hand to remove it, but at the last minute used just the tip of her tongue to tease his finger. Luke's stomach clenched as he recognized the look in holo Mara's eyes, but holo Betrys didn't notice her parents' antics, too busy grabbing fistfuls of cake and stuffing them in her mouth.

    Luke smiled at the image of Betrys enjoying her cake, and wondered how her party was going on this birthday night. She looked so carefree in that holo, a happy child. His mind drifted to Ben as a four year old. He had been happy, too, if guarded. His time in the Maw had changed him, had turned him into a child afraid to use the Force for fear of the pain and suffering that he could sense and that had trickled into other aspects of his life, and personality. It pained Luke to know that Ben's short life had been filled with feelings such as those, and suddenly all he wanted was to see his son—Luke's son.

    "Do you have any holos of Ben with Luke?" Again, Artoo beeped and only a fraction later another holo flickered to life. "Artoo, are you recording this?" Holo Luke's voice sounded tired. He held a small bundle in his arms and had a huge grin on his face. A beep sounded in the holo-cording, Artoo answering yes to his Master. "Good," holo Luke said. "I wanted to record this video for Bets. She misses her brother already." He held the little bundle up for Artoo to see.

    Luke had trouble catching his breath. There was Ben as he remembered him, shortly after his birth. He could understand holo Luke's joy and could remember just how tired he had been. No one could quite prepare you for a newborn; it just had to be learned. "Hi, Bets," holo Luke was speaking for baby Ben. "I miss you, Big Sis, and Momma and Daddy miss you, too—especially early in the morning when I'm still awake and ready to party!" Holo Luke settled into a chair, but Artoo rolled across the floor and kept recording. Luke cupped the baby's head in his hand and smiled down at him with such a look of love. "He looks a lot like you did when you were a baby, Bets," Luke whispered. "I like to just sit and look at him, like I did with you. It pains me, though, because I want him to have the childhood that you did, the joys and wonder of it all…" Holo Luke sighed.

    Luke bit his lip. He recognized that sigh. He, too, had sat with Baby Ben in those long early morning hours during the Vong war and worried about the baby's future. All of their futures.

    "…but I don't want to burden you, Betrys. Really, we Skywalker men were just sending this message to tell you how much we miss you." Holo Luke looked up from the baby. "Stay safe, Bets. I love you."

    It was quiet for only a moment and then another holo started. It was Luke and Mara and an older Ben, in a room that was unfamiliar to Luke. Ben appeared to be just under two years old, his hair curling in the back and his chubby legs so familiar to Luke that he felt a physical tug at his heart. "Soon it'll be bedtime," holo Mara said. "No," baby Ben protested. Holo Luke laughed. "I agree, buddy." Holo Mara rolled her eyes. "You're supposed to be on my side here, Farmboy."

    Luke smiled at the familiar retort. As he thought about the time frame, he wondered if this was the trip where Luke and Ben had stayed up late in the night eating chips. He found himself hoping there had been more than that one trip, more time for Luke and Ben to have been father and son.

    "Da-dee," holo Ben said, climbing over his father's legs, heedless of where he stepped. "Da-dee."

    Luke remembered the joy he felt when Ben called him "Daddy" for the first time. He had not been able to see his son while he was in hiding, but when they had come back together as a family, after the war, Ben had seemed to know instinctively who he and Mara were. The first night when he had helped Mara put him to bed, Ben had looked up at him and called him Daddy. It had seemed then that all the weight of the galaxy had lifted from his chest, and he was able to breathe again as he smiled down at his small son.

    He smiled again at the holo family. "Have you shown these to Ben, Artoo?"

    But Artoo wasn't the one to answer him. "No," Mara said. He turned to look at her, standing in the doorway. He had been so preoccupied with Artoo's holos that he hadn't realized she had returned from the Archives. She wasn't looking at Luke, but at the still frame of the holo. "I didn't even know he had them."

    "I think that Ben—and Betrys—would really like to see them."

    Mara nodded, and he watched her throat move as she swallowed past what must have been a lump in her throat. "I think so, too."

    He thought again of Ben's face, when Ben had said that he didn't know much about his father, and that Mara never spoke about him. He thought again of how amazed Ben had been to hear the story of sitting up late into the night with his father. And he thought about his own son, who remembered his mother, but there were years of her life that he knew nothing about. Stories and memories that he could help to fill in. "It's hard, isn't it? Talking about Luke?" It was strange to speak of Luke as a different person, to fully realize that he himself had never been her husband, and that her Luke was forever gone from her life.

    "What gave me away? The tears or the pathetic look on my face?" Mara sat on the couch. "Turn that off, Artoo."

    Artoo beeped in compliance and the holo disappeared, though the bright light continued to dazzle Luke's eyes. He sat next to her, relieved when she didn't push away. He reached for her hand. "It's not pathetic to remember him. The kids want to know. Ben wants to know." He squeezed her hand. "The memories don't have to hurt."

    "When he died…" Her voice broke but Luke gave her a minute. He knew that she would continue in her own time, and she did. "When he died, I had these two kids to take care of and an Academy of Jedi. I had people wanting to tell me how great he had been, how much they loved him… how much the galaxy needed him. But I couldn't say anything. It hurt to think about him when I felt so empty."

    Luke nodded. He knew that feeling well. "That bond in the Force was never meant to be broken." He let his Force sense pulse around him in the empty space where his bond with his Mara had once existed. He smiled sadly at her. "But it was… and we survived."

    "We're good at that," Mara said with a trace of dark humor.

    An amused puff of air escaped his mouth. "Yeah." Giving her a measured look, he went on. "I realized something earlier, when the kids were still here. Artoo's holos helped to solidify it." Mara raised a brow in a 'go on' gesture. "I realized that losing Mara doesn't mean I have to love her any less. But it does mean I have to keep living for Ben… and for myself."

    She leaned her head against his shoulder and nodded. "It's a hard lesson, but then, all lessons that are worth learning are tough."

    "Mara Jade Skywalker: Jedi Philosopher," Luke murmured through a laugh.

    Mara scoffed and shook against him in laugher, lifting her head to shake it at him. She wiped at her eyes. "We'll meet with the Council soon… but I can't believe we couldn't find anything in the materials from the Archives. They've got a step by step process for using a mind trick to make people believe shapeless brown robes are the height of fashion but we can't figure out how to get you back home."

    Luke smiled at her attempt to lighten the mood. "Strangely, I'm not too worried at the moment. I have a good feeling about this."

    Mara raised a perfect eyebrow. "A 'good feeling', Farmboy?"

    "Yeah," he said. "Strange, isn't it? But come on, it's late, and it's our anniversaries—my 23rd anniversary and your 31st. It's also your daughter's birthday. We should celebrate."

    Mara paused to give him a measured look of her own. "What the hell. I'll call for take-out."

    .
    .

    An hour later found them sitting at Mara's kitchen table, eating outrageously expensive Alderaanian food. Luke felt lighter than he had in years and Mara responded to him in a similar manner. Out from the watchful eyes of her children she was freer, less concerned. And they both seemed lighter after the talk over the holos.

    "Ruge," he said, looking at the bottle of wine Mara had ordered for their impromptu celebration. "Leia loves this stuff."

    "She has good taste… except in men." She rolled her eyes, but was smiling.

    Luke smiled back, remembering how Han and Mara liked to bicker with one another. "I know you said that they were in a good place, Leia and Han, but I can only imagine how they—how she took Luke's death."

    Mara was quiet. "It was very hard on her, too. She misses him almost as much as I do, I think."

    Luke looked down at the table, thinking of his sister. She and Han had been there for him since Mara's death, but he hadn't really opened up to them as he should have. He looked back up to meet Mara's eyes. "Do me a favor, will you? If—when—you tell her about this, will you tell her how much I love her?"

    "She knows, Farmboy. But of course I will."

    He grinned his thanks and popped open the bottle of Ruge, struggling a little to get the cork out of the bottle's neck. Mara laughed and he smiled in reaction, loving the sound from her, so rare. "What?" He shook off his sad thoughts about Leia, concentrating only on the lovely sounds of Mara's laugh and the sight of her smile.

    "Nothing, it just… well, this reminds me of my first date with Luke."

    "You drank Ruge on your first date? No wonder Betrys was born on your wedding night."

    "I love when you try to act roguish," Mara smirked. "And we dated for more than a year before I got pregnant. Anyway, we did have Ruge that first night, and Luke struggled to get it open, just like you are now. The cork finally came out, along with most of the bottle. He was fast enough to keep it from hitting him, but my rug…" Mara rolled her eyes, but was smiling as if the memories didn't hurt as much this time. "He was so embarrassed." She took the bottle and pulled the cork out expertly, pouring them each a glass.

    Luke tried to imagine the night in his mind, but found that he couldn't. He and Mara had been light years from a date at that time in his galaxy. The Reborn Emperor and the opening of the Academy had been foremost in his mind. "Mara and I never really dated. I asked her to marry me before we could date."

    "Luke liked to joke that he had to ask me to marry him over two hundred times before I was ready." Mara smiled ruefully.

    "Two hundred times? And you didn't kill him?"

    She smirked. "No, eventually he wore me down…or Betrys and I were just so sick of hearing him ask. It was really sort of a joke between us. I got pregnant before anyone even knew we were dating, and…well, it was just something he would ask me every day of my pregnancy. Obviously it worked out eventually." Mara's smirk melted into a smile. "Another story for the kids."

    "I think they'd like that."

    "Yeah. I know they will." Mara took a gulp from her glass and eyed him speculatively. "But as for you and your Mara, and the years between meeting and marrying—I guess I can tell that you didn't have a baby on the way to help you along." She half-smiled at him, but seemed to turn serious. "I remember you mentioning issues between the two of you. I thought my being Luke's assassin brought along more issues than possibly any other couple in the galaxy."

    "This galaxy, sure." Luke's stomach rolled, his earlier good humor dampened a little as he worried anew about Mara's reaction to the things he had been hiding from her. "We had those same issues. It was hard for Mara to change her way of thinking so quickly. She ran away from her emotions for a long time.
    But I think…sometimes I worry it was my fault. That we would have been together much earlier if it wasn't for certain things I did."

    "What do you mean?"

    He paused, scared of her reaction, but needing to tell her, to give her the missing piece of the puzzle. "I touched the Dark Side, Mara. In my galaxy, not long after Mara and I had met. On Byss. That's why that planet scares me so badly. That's why I reacted the way I did with Niargen's cup. I was so arrogant back then. I thought I could trick Palpatine, that I could defeat the dark side from within but not become dark myself. I lost myself, and Leia redeemed me, helped me back to the light. That's where my and Mara's issues doubled and why we didn't get married—"

    "Until 20," Mara cut in softly. "I think… I think I knew there was something vastly different. You feel so much the same in the Force as my Luke, but different. I knew that you had been through something that he hadn't."

    "It truly is my greatest regret."

    "Seems that you have many," she countered, alluding to the regrets he had already mentioned to her. "But they all flow from that one."

    He looked down at the table. He didn't want to look up and see the hurt in her eyes again.

    The silence stretched until Mara's hand snaked across the table and covered his. "Luke, we learn from our mistakes, and we move on. And from what I can see, from what you've told me, you arethe man I know, so much like that man that I once knew. A good man. I…I can feel it, and not just in the Force. You have to let this go, Luke. Doubt will only hold you back."

    Luke gasped lightly as the vision that had led him to this dimension turned into sudden reality. Tears pricked at his eyes as he realized the depth of the gift he had received from the Force, and from Mara. He had told Betrys nearly the same thing earlier, but hearing it from Mara made it all the more clear to him. The Force had been telling him that it was time to move on, to let his heart and mind guide him again and not be held back by his grief.

    Only Mara could teach him to move on without her. That thought made him smile. "Thank you, Mara," he said, turning his palm to hold and gently squeeze her hand. "You always did know just what to say to me."

    Mara pulled her hand away and took a sip of her drink. "It's the Ruge," she said with a smirk.

    .
    .
    Ben commed from the party sometime later and said that he was staying in his sister's suite for the night. Luke wasn't sure if it was because he was still somewhat uncomfortable with him being there or if it was just a convenient way to party later, but he was grateful for the time alone with Mara, to figure things out. They would soon go before the Jedi Council to seek their guidance. Luke would take a room in the Temple and, as for he and Mara, he had no worries. He knew it would eventually work itself out. He would continue to try to get home for as long as it took, and for now that certainty was enough to comfort him.

    For this night, though, he wanted to hold Mara in his arms again, to feel her pressed against him, warm and supple. He didn't bother to change as they entered her bedroom. He lay down on the bed, pulling her into his arms. She came willingly, settling her head against his shoulder, her warm breath tickling his neck pleasantly. He ran his fingers over her spine and closed his eyes, so thankful for the gift of holding her.

    "I love you," he murmured. "I never thought I could love someone so much. I had to find you again to tell you that."

    "And through such extreme measures, too." Her words were belied when she pushed closer against him. "I know… I've always known that. And, Luke, we'll figure this out," she promised. "We'll meet with the Council and discuss Byss and you. But for now…" She trailed off, tracing her fingers over his face.

    The moment lengthened as they stared into one another's eyes, and she pushed up to softly meet his lips with hers. It was a slow kiss, lips barely brushing in a rush of sensation. Luke teased it out, letting his breath mingle with hers.

    Mara pulled away first. "Let's just stay like this for now," she whispered.

    That's what he wanted, too. He shifted further to his side to hold her fully against his body. Her familiar contours fit him perfectly and the scent of her hair made him think of home, of how she had always been his touchstone, his very definition of home. It was amazing that he had found that port in the storm again with this woman, so much like his own Mara, but someone he could love for her own life and personality, softened slightly from earlier motherhood and trials faced. That he was lucky enough to love two extraordinary Mara Jades was not lost on Luke.

    He closed his eyes in contentment for the first time in years, his body relaxing and his mind setting completely free.

    After a time in darkness he noticed a small prickling of light and chased toward it with his mind, for no other reason than it felt right to do so. When he caught it the light spilled over him, bathing him in a feeling of warmth and love. In that moment Mara was there with him in his mind, not just in his arms, almost as if the bond in the Force had been reestablished. After a moment of that euphoric sensation it seemed that Betrys and Ben were there, too, the four of them melding together, just as he, Mara, and Ben had done long ago on the Errant Venture before Ben's birth.

    Mara's love was overwhelming, and Ben and Betrys felt so much like her, their love for their father overlapping with Mara's love for both men. He realized he was on a precipice, as in that moment a fifth mind joined with them and he could feel Ben—his Ben—at the edge of his consciousness. Even as his heart cried out for his son, the light of his presence having been so missed, his stubborn heart clung to Mara as he basked in the glow of that bond in the Force. As much as he wanted to be with her, he knew he could not. He would always love her and miss her, as well as her children. But Ben needed him, and Luke had come to realize that he needed Ben as well. He loved his son, his gift from Mara, the light of their love made real. The rightness of that thought fell over him like his well-worn cloak, making him feel warm and safe.

    He realized then that getting home had always been up to him. He did not need the missing IDD. He had to harness something more powerful than time and space itself. As Niargen said, the answer had been in front of him all the time. The Force was strong enough to grant the wish, if only he knew how to ask and didn't let doubt hold him back. The only doubt in his mind, Byss, disappeared as he saw future events unfold there, saw Mara and Betrys joining together with the other Jedi to defeat a Sith, a Sith with red hair that was not Palpatine's clone. And he could see how they recognized a familiar device the Sith wielded, and how in their recognition they were able to stop her inter-dimensional escape…

    As the last shred of doubt left him, he knew that his time with Mara and her children was over. The Force had given him a gift, but now it was time to return to his son, to his own life. With one last brush of love to Mara and her children, his sleeping presence smiled.

    His decision made, the strange pulling sensation came over him again and he gasped, falling quickly into peaceful darkness.
    Last edited by ginchy, Mar 6, 2014
    Jedi_Lover and Jade_eyes like this.
  17. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Stupendous! =D= =D= The talk over the holos: touching! :D @};- And over the dinner [face_love] But the last scene - one of the most beautiful Force melding descriptions I've read.

    [:D]

    !!

    On a strictly personal/reader note: This fic has totally taken me by surprise, its bittersweetness /angst at first nearly put me off, but it is deep and the sweet outweighs the bitter, and above all, it showcases your wonderful scope of authorly talent. It was always a joy and treat to read your stuff, but this is a prism of emotion and super duper dialogue. :) ^:)^
  18. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Angst, mush and memories. I feel sad, but happy for them. I'm so confused! :_| This is an awesome story.
  19. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Good news!!! '200 Proposals' is finished!! I just need to edit the heck out of it. So look for it to start in December. ;) And then I have to turn my attention to the new story I'm writing, involving one very hot Prince Luke Organa. I'm sure that one will be around late in 2013. I hope. LOL


    Jade_eyes: Thank you, gal. I loved that holo scene myself. And I’m so glad that the story pulled you in. I know it’s a hard read. I can barely handle the thought of dead Mara or Luke. But I wanted it to be a love story about how L/M are everlasting and eternal. I keep thinking that even if she isn’t in Ep VII, that she can’t take the place she’s held in my AND Luke’s heart all these years. I hope you enjoy the last chapter and epilogue, too!! [:D]

    Jedi_Lover: Girl, I was confused writing it. LOL!!! Thanks, lady!!!

  20. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    I was just confused as to how to feel...I was not confused by the plot. I look forward to reading 200 Proposals and I like the idea of a hot Prince Luke Organa. Does that mean Leia was sent to Tatooine? That would suck...for her. Sucks to be a Tatooine mosture farmer.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  21. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Chapter 17

    When he woke, sunlight was streaming over the bed. His bed. He sat up and realized he was in his bedroom on Coruscant. His brain struggled to catch up and he looked around him, noticing that nothing seemed out of place. It was almost as if he had gone to sleep the night before and…dreamed.

    Touching his head with his fingers, he realized that didn't seem right. It hadn't been a dream. It couldn't have been. Mara was so real, and her children—they were bright lights in a galaxy that needed them. The love he had felt with them had been real. He knew it had not, could not have been, a dream.

    He reached into his pocket and pulled out the IDD, still so innocuous in his hand. Contemplating it for a moment, he placed it back in his safe and headed into the 'fresher to shower. He would need to call the Council together to discuss safekeeping the IDD, but first he needed to comm—

    "Ben!" he cried aloud, the longing for his son pushing to the forefront of his fuzzy mind. Turning from the 'fresher and racing for the comm station, he dialed the frequency for Ben's comlink. The interminably long period of waiting for the call to connect made him antsy and he paced the floor in front of the comm station, unable to sit. Finally the tone changed and Ben was there on the other line.

    "Hello, Dad?"

    Tears filled Luke's eyes at the anxious sound of Ben's voice. It had only been a week but it had been too long, too long and filled with dread at the prospect of never seeing his son again. Merely hearing Ben's voice soothed him like a cool drink after a long walk in the Jundland Wastes. "Hi, son."

    "Where have you been? I've tried to comm you, and even Aunt Leia didn't know where you had gone! We felt your presence vanish… And there were rumors, Dad, of security force agents at your door, looking for something. The Council didn't say anything about you being on a mission. What's going on?"

    So they had known he was missing. He knew it all along but had hoped that Ben wouldn't have noticed, that he or Leia hadn't panicked. But even as he felt bad for their worry, he couldn't help but smile. He was talking to his son again and his heart was glad. "Ben, I can explain all of it. But, first, where are you? Are you still on Adumar or on your way back?"

    "We're heading back to Coruscant now. We have one more jump through lightspeed and we should be there tonight." Ben sounded relieved and panicked at once.

    "That's good. Listen, when you get back will you meet me on the Shadow? I'm going to request some time for us. I think…I think we need to talk. I've missed you, son." Luke held his breath, waiting for Ben's answer.

    "Yeah, Dad. I…think so, too. I'll meet you there, tonight. Skywalker out."

    Luke smiled again as he disconnected his end of the call. He was not going to let this gift, this second chance with his son, go. But after a second the smile dropped and his eyes narrowed. He had several things to do before he could meet up with Ben.

    But first he headed back to the 'fresher, discarding his clothing on the floor, pulling Mara's braid of hair from his pocket. He smiled at it and thought that Mara would tell him to throw it away, that it was nothing but dead cells and old memories. But he thought of how much he had loved to stroke her soft hair, how entranced he had been with the color and texture and thought that there was still meaning in old memories. He stepped to his safe and placed the lock of hair there, a treasure he would always keep.

    Back in the fresher he started his shower and turned to the mirror to inspect his chin, realizing that he needed a shave. He reached for his razor as the mirror was beginning to fog and saw something in the glass. Frowning, he rubbed at the fog with his left hand, and his heart pulsed at the sight of Mara's wedding band there on his smallest finger… both rings gleaming against the dim light of the fresher. He brought the rings to his mouth and kissed them, thinking of the two amazing women he had loved. He lowered his hand to wipe at the mirror until he could see his chest and a huge smile spread across his face at the reddened patch of skin near his collarbone. As he had done before he reached his hand to touch it. "Mara," he breathed, watching the spot until the fog overtook the mirror again. "I'll always miss you."

    .
    .

    His first stop was the Temple, where the Masters' Council greeted him warmly but with concern. A few questioned where he had been and mentioned the same rumors Ben had spoken of, but he told them he needed time to think and that he would soon call a Council meeting to discuss it, among other things. He also noted that he would be leaving again for a few short days, taking Ben with him this time. But he made sure to emphasize that he would be in constant contact and well in comm range. Then he spoke briefly with Corran, smiling as he noted the carefully kept facial hair on his friend's face that set him apart from his other self in the alternate dimension. "Daala's been a nexu at our door," Corran told Luke. "Insisting that you had abandoned your post and threatening to take over control." Luke nodded, having known that Daala would pull something like that. "I'm proud of the way you held strong," he told Corran, meaning the entire Order. And he was. The Order had survived yet another attempt at extinction.

    And that was something that would not happen. Not on his watch.

    He quickly pulled Tionne aside and asked her if his suite of rooms was still unoccupied, and if it would be okay for him and Ben to move back in—if Ben wanted to, of course. She hugged him then, tears in her eyes. "We've been waiting for you, Grand Master," was all she said, and he knew that it was more than all right.

    He took the time to comm Leia from the Temple, soothing her anxious worries. He told her that he would see her soon, and smiled as he told her that he loved her. The smile on her own face mimicked his, and though he knew she was worried about him, he could see that she realized he had changed in some way while he was gone. He told her he would tell her about it sometime before disconnecting his call.

    His last stop was on the way out of the Temple, to the suite he, Mara and Ben had lived in before her death. He walked in and flicked on the lights to the quiet, empty rooms. His eyes tracked along the walls as he remembered his life with Mara there, remembering where the furniture had sat, spots where important conversations had taken place, even the mundane everyday tasks that had once seemed to only occupy time but now in retrospect seemed precious.

    Overlapping with those memories he now had a new set of remembrances. He could see the suite as the other Mara had kept it, the holos of her children on a table that had sat just outside of the kitchen and the bed in that now empty room where they had spent their last night together. Staring at the blank space, overflowing now as it was with memories, the suite didn't seem so empty at all. The memories brought comfort, not sorrow. All at once he realized that he was still standing in an empty room wearing a huge grin on his face. Mara would laugh if she could see him now…and maybe, somehow, she could.

    .
    .

    After leaving the Temple Luke made a quick and clandestine stop at CSF headquarters before heading to the Chief of State's office. He went through the required security detail and was ushered right into her gleaming white office, as he knew he would be. If security agents were tracking him, as Ben said the rumor suggested, then Daala would probably want to arrest him on the spot.

    "Master Skywalker," the Chief of State said, standing from her desk as he entered. "How nice of you to find me today. We've been looking for you. You're a hard man to pin down. Can I interest you in a cup of caf or some sweetcakes, perhaps?"

    "No, thank you," he answered, placing his hands in his robe sleeves and giving her his best serene look. "And I'm curious as to why you had such a hard time locating me. I've been on Coruscant this entire time, though I suspect you knew that. I suppose now you'll call off your security force and your Mandolorians."

    A tiny tick under her eye was the only indication that she had indeed been pressuring the Jedi Order and had made plans for future attacks. She was skilled in hiding her emotions, especially for a non-Force user. "My agents searched Coruscant thoroughly, Grand Master. You were nowhere to be found."

    "Maybe you should employ better agents. Or maybe you should equip them with better devices."

    A single red brow raised. "Is that so? Maybe with ysalamiri and nutrient frames?"

    Luke didn't let her push him. "I'm not sure the budget could handle shipping them from Myrkr. But back to me and why I'm here—it's a funny thing, you see. I removed a potential weapon from a suspected murderer a week ago. At your order. Only, when I went to check on him, imagine my surprise to find him not listed among the prisoners."

    "Marse Naelli met with an… unfortunate fate. He incited a riot and was killed during that altercation."

    Luke didn't show any reaction. Naelli had gotten in over his head, it appeared. And, with no knowledge of the working mechanics of the IDD, he was no longer needed after Daala had exercised his purpose.

    "But the fact remains that the prisoner had a powerful device on his person that was entrusted to the Jedi Order. You betrayed that trust, Master Skywalker, when you absconded with the item. And in doing so, you knowingly broke the law."

    He has expected this. "I broke no law, Chief. You entrusted the device to the Jedi and the Grand Master of the Order kept it in his possession. On his person. For safety reasons, of course."

    Daala's mouth tightened. "Of course. And, if I may ask, where is the device now?"

    "It, too, met an…unfortunate fate," he said. "Even with all the safety precautions. I have, of course, filed a report at CSF headquarters. The device is no longer a concern to galactic safety."

    It seemed that Daala realized that she had been backed into a corner. If she grew upset over the loss of the IDD she would reveal that her plan had been, all along, to lure him away with that which he wanted most in the galaxy. She knew that he knew that but wouldn't speak the words aloud. Instead, he saw a shift in her eyes and braced himself for what would come next. He took a deep breath to hold any doubts he may have had at bay. Daala's eye glittered as she spoke. "This proves to me what I've felt all along. You Jedi feel that you are above the law."

    "We are not above it, we are outside of it," he corrected. "Bound by law, yes, but answerable to a larger galactic law—the Force."

    "A government that is balanced should have no need of Jedi working outside of the law."

    Luke's serenity did not slip. "As I'm sure you have forgotten, the Jedi are not a part of the government's agenda. We are separate from the state, yet our members are citizens of said state. Therefore the Jedi are not always in concert with the government, but our individual Jedi are certainly bound to the law of their star systems."

    "And are they punished as such? If they step out of bounds and use weapons of mass destruction or…your Dark Side? Where is the justice when a Jedi steps out of bounds, Grand Master?" Daala suddenly looked far too smug as she sat in her seat and clasped her hands in front of her.

    "They are policed by our own Order. Surely you've heard of our Masters' Council? And of course charges may be brought by the acting governmental body of any star system in which an act of, as you say, mass destruction has occurred. It just happens, Madame Chief, that no charges have ever been brought."

    "Interesting, that. Let me cut to the chase here," Daala said, a slight tinge of nervousness starting to bleed out from her. "I have a deal for you, Master Skywalker. I believe that the Jedi are working too far outside of the law. Your own nephew fell to the Dark Side under your watch, as have countless others. I find this to be a dereliction of your duties as Grand Master."

    Luke made no gesture but simply waited for her to continue.

    "I could arrest you on these charges. However, I would be willing to make the deal I mentioned—if you could, say, leave Coruscant for a period of time and find the reason your nephew fell to the Dark Side, and effectively demonstrate that it was not your direct doing that led to his fall, I would exonerate you."

    "An exile," he said, a small smile playing at his lips. "Your first attempt at that didn't work very well, did it? The thing is, our Order is rebuilding from Darth Caedus, as is this very government. I don't believe you have the authority to arrest me on any charges unless you wish to arrest those who allowed Jacen to rise to the office you now hold, as well. I am not interested in making a deal with you, but I do wish to work with you. Peace in the galaxy has always been my goal; perhaps that's one goal we could share?"

    She didn't answer his question, merely met his gaze coolly. "I have my eye on your Order, Master Skywalker. Youare the largest threat to peace the galaxy has witnessed. Go, then, but be warned that any step your Order may make outside of the law will be prosecuted by the Galactic Alliance. Now, if you please, I have work to do."

    Luke nodded. "As have I, Madame Chief," he said, turning on his heel to walk out of the door, a free man.

    .
    .

    He got to the Shadow just as early afternoon was turning the day hot. He smiled at the ship, something that didn't exist in the other universe he had visited. He couldn't sense Ben's presence onboard so he entered and checked on the ship, making sure no security agents or other officials had tried to mess with it. After finding it in working order he sat in the lounge, apprehension beginning to grow as he thought of his upcoming conversation with Ben. As the anxiety began to build in his chest he remembered Mara's words to him. He realized that he could not let doubt hold him back, especially not when it came to his son. He gathered his frustration and released it into the Force, his serenity falling back over him comfortably.

    Ben's shining Force aura shone through the hangar and washed over Luke as the boy approached the ship. Luke held his breath and basked in the glow for a moment, Mara's words from years ago once again echoing in his head: Love Ben with all your heart and make him the center of your world…

    "I can do that, Mara," he whispered, just as the ramp began to lower.

    "Dad?" Ben asked, his red hair peaking around the corner to the lounge. He stepped through, Artoo Detoo rolling in behind him. "Dad!"

    For a moment it was as if all the years between them, the bad blood and pain, disappeared. Luke rushed forward and enfolded his son in his arms, realizing that the little boy he remembered so clearly was almost a man now. He remembered Mara's son and how he had wanted to hug him, but this Ben, his Ben, he could and would hold. For as long as a teenager would allow it.

    "Okay, Dad," Ben said after a beat. "It's not like we just won the Coruscant Lottery. You can let me go."

    Luke rolled his eyes, but grinned. Ben was so like his mother. "Can't a father be happy to see his only son?"

    "According to several very interesting biographies you may have more sons than just me, Dad."

    "Trust me, you're all I could handle," Luke teased, punching Ben lightly in the arm as he moved back. "I've just…I've missed you."

    Ben's eyes narrowed. "You have? Actually, something is … different about you. And it's not physical, because you still have the same boring wardrobe and bad hair."

    Luke rolled his eyes again. "We're back together for twenty seconds and I've rolled my eyes more than I have in months."

    "You're funny for an old man."

    "Ha. Listen, I have a lot to tell you. And I want to hear how Adumar was. But first, I want your opinion on something. How would you like to move back into our suite at the Temple?"

    Ben obviously wasn't expecting that question. "Really?"

    "Really. You were right; I have changed in the last few days. And one thing I've realized is that we belong in the Temple and I should never have moved us out in the first place. I talked to Tionne and the rooms are ours, if we want them."

    "I dunno, Dad. I mean, your apartment is so nice and cramped. I was taking a shower in there one day and nearly shook hands with the girl taking a shower in the building across the street. And you can't beat the view of—"

    "Naked girls taking showers?" Luke interjected.

    Ben smirked. "Good one, old man. And yes, I will be glad to move back to the Temple."

    Luke grinned. "We'll do that right after we get back, then." Artoo beeped at the news that they were going somewhere and rolled off, presumably toward the cockpit.

    "Back from where?"

    "I'll tell you in a minute, but first—I'd like us to talk," Luke said, nervousness replacing the happy relief he just had at seeing Ben. Too often he had tried to talk only to be confronted by his own shortcomings or Ben's defensiveness. He took a deep breath and released the anxiety into the Force again, mindful of Mara's last lesson.

    Ben's guard was up and Luke felt the boy's mental shields tighten, but he nodded and sat on the couch that lined the wall of the lounge. Apparently the sudden loss of his father had made him a bit more docile and ready to listen. Luke didn't like that it had taken such a cataclysmic event to bring them together, but he was willing to take the opportunity and run with it.

    He sat across from Ben and wondered where to begin. He was torn about telling him exactly where he had been, not wishing to cause him any pain, or envy, at getting to spend a week with the woman who could have been his mother. But he didn't want any secrets from Ben, not any more. He pulled the IDD from his pocket. "It all started when I arrested a man and took this device from him." He launched into a brief account of Naelli's arrest and how the Chief of State had asked the Jedi to guard the device.

    Ben stared at the device curiously. "What does it do?"

    "It can transport beings into other dimensions," Luke explained. "Places a lot like our galaxy, but with minor differences."

    "Alternate realities?" Ben looked somewhat skeptical but studied the device closer, accepting it from Luke's hand.

    "Yes. I used it and travelled to a parallel galaxy, Ben. And there…I met Mara."

    "Mom?" Ben's eyes were wide and suddenly the face that had looked so manly looked again like the small child Luke remembered.

    "Not your mother exactly, but a parallel version of her." Luke swallowed thickly. "She helped me, Ben. While I was there. She helped me to understand that I need to move on. She helped me to understand that losing your mother didn't have to destroy me, destroy us."

    "I can't believe you've been hanging out with some fake version of mom for the past week!" Ben's eyes narrowed angrily. "You didn't tell anyone where you were going so… so, what? You could go kr—"

    Luke cut him off before he could finish. "Don't. I know you're angry about this, but just don't say anything like that, Ben." His mind flashed back to Mara's son making the same accusation. Ben, like his mother, was also a universal constant.

    "So what did you do while you were there? What about you—I mean, the parallel you?" Ben's eyes still angry but a bit of contrition seemed to leak from his strong shields. Like his mother, he often spoke too quickly.

    "Mara was a widow. The parallel…me…had died when Shimrra's amphistaph bit him."

    Ben's eyes widened. "What about me?"

    "He looked just like you, your parallel version. Made the same bad jokes." Luke cleared his throat before his voice could break. "Made me miss you more than I had been."

    Ben murmured something under his breath.

    "What was that?"

    "I said, you never seemed to miss me before," Ben said quickly, the words running together. To break the awkward moment he started fiddling with the device in his hand, trying to avoid his father's eyes. "So if I were to turn this thing on, I could go there? I could see mom?"

    "No," Luke said gently. "The device no longer works."

    Ben's shoulders hunched as he eyed the broken device. After a tense moment he looked up and handed the IDD to Luke. "She wouldn't really be mom, anyway," he muttered.

    Luke hated to hear the pain in Ben's voice. He had so much to make up for with his son. "She wasn't really your mother, but she thought of you first. Her first question to me was about you, and she did everything in her power to help get me home to you. But in the end, it was the Force that led me home, the Force and…love. Did you feel something in the Force last night?" He wondered if Ben had realized the role he had played in bringing him back from the other dimension.

    "I felt like I touched your mind," Ben admitted. "But I was asleep and it was so hazy. Did I?"

    "You helped to bring me back. So much like you did when you were born, with your mother. Our minds did merge, and you were the anchor that led me home. You're my hero, Ben."

    Ben's face flushed red over his freckles. "Dad," he moaned. "Really?"

    "Ben," Luke reached out for his son's shoulder, "I love you. I know I have so much to make up for over the last few years. I told Mara that I had been living a half-life without your mom, but I realized that I should never have let myself sink so far into depression. I should have been living my life for you, just as your mom requested."

    Ben sniffed and wiped at his nose with the back of his hand. "She did?"

    Luke told him the story of how Mara had asked him to make Ben the center of his world should anything happen to her, those many years ago when he was still a toddler. "You were the love of her life, Ben," Luke finished.

    "I think I had some competition there." Ben swallowed hard but still managed to smirk at his dad. "She really loved that holdout blaster she always kept in her sleeve."

    Luke laughed and used his hold on Ben's shoulder to move forward and embrace his son again. Ben accepted his hug, not pushing away as fast as he had before. But after a time he pulled back and look at his father.

    "So now that we're all hunky dory—and please kill me if I ever use the phrase 'hunky dory' again—where are we going? You said 'when we come back' earlier."

    Luke discreetly wiped at his eyes and grinned. "That's my boy. Ready for adventure."

    Ben rolled his eyes. "And there's my Dad, stalling as always. Come on, Old Man."

    "Let's go strap in and I'll tell you." Luke gestured for Ben to head to the cockpit. He followed behind his son, putting the IDD back in his pocket. Once in the captain's chair he put on his crash webbing and started the launch proceedings, calling for a position in the take-off queue.

    "So?" Ben tapped his fingers on the armrest impatiently.

    "I spoke with the Council to let them know that you and I were going to be gone a few days—"

    "That kind of notice might have been helpful about a week ago, Dad."

    Luke grinned. "Cute. And you're right. But for now, we're going to Endor." He input the coordinates while slying his eyes to gauge Ben's reaction. He was not disappointed when shock comically flashed over his son's face.

    "Endor? The land of plush toys?"

    "Ben. They are sentient creatures—"

    "Who look like tiny Wookiees—"

    "And we couldn't have brought the Empire down without them."

    "I think that's just a spin the local Ewok Tourism Board came up with." Ben shook his head. "But seriously, why Endor?"

    "Let's just say I had a tip that there's an offshoot of a religious cult there that are set on galactic domination." Luke pushed the lever to roll the Shadow toward the exit bay.

    "You've got to be kidding me."

    "Yeah, son, that's just what I said…"
    .
    .
    .


    There is an epilogue to follow. Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by ginchy, Nov 26, 2012
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  22. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Oh, that's what I meant, too. I was especially confused writing '200' because Luke dies when Betrys is 17. At this point I'm just pretending '200' is a happy AU with no dead anybody. LOLOL And yes, Leia is a farmgirl and Luke is a hot senator in that story, which is still untitled.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  23. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Luke with Daala - yowsa! [face_dancing] =D= Him with Ben -- d'awwww! :D Nice, definite strides towards mending fences. Yay we get to see more of Betrys in "Proposals" :cool: :D
  24. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    To the first bolded: so wrong. It makes me feel things.

    To the second: YES. Please. :)

    There aren't enough words for how sad and happy this story makes me. =D=
    JediMara77 likes this.
  25. Jedi_Lover Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Awwww....it's nice that Luke has his son back. And Ben let his Dad hug him. I have to bribe my boys with video games to get a hug nowadays. This is such a sweet-sad story. You do them well. I can't write sweet-sad because then I get depressed. Ack! Now I have to go read some L/M bootknocking to bring up my spirits. I am still so sad that his Mara is dead.:_| She should have NEVER been killed in the profics!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
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