Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Stone Jade, Feb 27, 2013.
That was....deep. very deep.
Very insightful indeed
Here's my follow-up from the previous story, Attachments. This one features mostly L/M, plus a little bit of Jacen.
A few notes: I put Jacen in there mostly because there is no real basis for a close relationship between Mara and Jacen in the profic, which is one of the things that makes "Mara as Jacen's sacrifice" utterly ridiculous. Also, it drives me crazy when authors try to make Mara seem jealous of Luke's past girlfriends/lovers (this happens with Akanah in NJO and repeatedly with Lumiya in LOTF). So, I wrote that a different way.
Hope you enjoy it. Concrit appreciated as usual. Some romance/mush to bookend the story, and mostly Mara/Jacen and Luke/Mara discussion in the middle. Only a little snark, because the situation presented here doesn't really call for it.
One Year post-Survivor's Quest
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker paused as he prepared to enter his private office on Yavin IV. Luke had been away on a short trip to Coruscant, for consultation with his sister Leia on a diplomatic issue, and he had landed on the moon housing the Jedi Academy only minutes ago.
He smiled as his mind touched the unexpected presence in his office. Luke opened the door.
“Hi Mara. I’m back.”
Mara Jade Skywalker, Luke’s wife of more than four years, was already looking up as he spoke. Luke could see a sparkle in her emerald green eyes, and felt a wave of love wash over him as Mara’s mind touched his in the Force. Mara had been away when Luke left, flitting around the galaxy with Mirax Terrik Horn, no doubt getting into trouble, and Luke had not expected to see his wife for another week at best.
“Hey, Luke. Sorry to take over your office. I’m working on some requisitions, and Mirax is supposed to pick them up tomorrow morning on her way through the system.”
Luke smiled at her. “Anything important?”
Mara shook her head lightly, in the negative. “Just a few items that the Academy needs, some things we’ve had trouble locating. Tionne asked for my help, and I figured if anyone could track them down, it would be Mirax. Nothing of any great interest.” Tionne Solusar was one of the instructors at the Academy, and was in charge of some materiel requisitions for non-essential items.
Luke nodded. “Ok. Anyway, speaking of Mirax, I didn’t expect you back here for a few more days. Any trouble on your trip?”
Mara laughed lightly at her husband’s question. “I hope you’re not disappointed to see me so soon,” she said, somewhat dryly, before smiling again. “Actually, the trip went better than planned, and we finished up early. Mirax wanted to get back to Corellia to see Corran and the kids, and I figured since I had nothing better to do, I should come back here and spend some time with my husband.” This last statement was delivered with some degree of sarcasm, but Luke could feel the affection in Mara’s teasing, even without the Force.
Luke laughed. “Nothing better to do. I hope you’re staying for a few days. It’s been too long, and we need to catch up.”
Mara broke out into a slightly mischievous grin. “I can think of a lot of catching up we need to do, but one or two things jump straight to the top of my list. If you have the time?”
Luke winced. His desire to reunite with Mara was overpowering, but he had another commitment he had to take care of first. Patience is a virtue a Jedi cultivates. At times like this, though, it was a hard maxim by which to live.
“Actually, I promised Kam I’d work over a new lesson plan with him as soon as I got back. It shouldn’t take long, maybe an hour. After that?”
Mara narrowed her eyes, and affected an air of hurt, but Luke could tell she wasn’t really upset. “Ok, Skywalker, I guess I can wait a while longer. But, you’ll owe me, and I’m going to make you work hard to repay the favor.”
Mara gave him a playful smile, and Luke smiled back, blushing just a little. “I look forward to it, Mara, my love. You’ve been practicing that suppression technique I taught you? I think we might need it tonight.”
It was Mara’s turn to blush. Barely a year ago, while on an ill-fated vacation, they had made the unwelcome discovery that some Jedi might be able to detect their strong emotional bond during certain passionate moments. Since then, they had worked up a technique that would allow them to form that bond with each other, but would prevent it from being broadcast to the rest of a moon full of Force adepts.
Hopefully. Mara wasn’t quite pleased with the need for the technique. It takes a bit of concentration, which takes some of the fun out of the experience. But, she reflected, it doesn’t take very much of the fun out of it.
“Yes, Luke, I have. You know, having to live here with a bunch of Jedi really puts a damper on the whole lovemaking thing sometimes.”
Luke just laughed at her. “It’s always hindered you so much in the past.”
Mara laughed too, and winked at her husband. “Ok, you win. Now go, shoo, and talk to Kam. Then hurry back as fast as you can. I’ll meet you in the room in about an hour.”
Luke nodded. “Ok, Mara, I’m going. By the way, I love you.”
Mara rolled her eyes at her husband. “I was wondering how long it would take you to say that, farmboy.” She shook her head theatrically. “I love you too. See you soon.”
Mara watched her husband leave, and sighed internally. Oh, well, at least the delay will give me a few minutes to finish up this paperwork.
* * *
Not thirty seconds after Luke had left, Mara heard another knock on the door, and a quiet voice call out “Aunt Mara, are you in there?”
It took her a moment to recognize the voice as that of Jacen Solo, her nephew and the son of Luke’s sister Leia. “Yes, Jacen, I’m in here. Come in. What can I do for you?”
The young man of fourteen entered, and Mara looked at him carefully. Jacen resembled Luke in some ways, although with different eye color, and strong hints of his father mixed in as well. She could sense her nephew was trying to suppress something, something which the look on his face told her was probably a mix of embarrassment and uncertainty.
“Aunt Mara, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard a little of your conversation with Uncle Luke just now as I was passing by. I’ve been wrestling with something the past few months, and I wondered if I could talk to you about it?”
Mara paused, feeling suddenly a little apprehensive. She wasn’t quite sure where this conversation with Jacen might lead, but his intro left some unpleasant options open.
“I can try, Jacen, although I’m not sure how much help I’ll be. Why don’t you sit down and tell me what’s on your mind.”
The boy moved to sit in the chair opposite Luke’s desk. He looked away for a moment, as if working up the nerve to continue talking. “I’ve been thinking about relationships lately, especially between Jedi. I thought maybe you might have some insight, since you and Luke…”
His voice trailed off, and he looked expectantly at Mara.
Mara managed to smile at him, hoping the boy didn’t sense her discomfort. “You haven’t asked me a question yet, Jacen. Besides, shouldn’t your mom and dad be having this talk with you?”
Jacen blushed fiercely, and Mara immediately felt sorry for the way she had phrased the question.
“Oh, we had those talks a long time ago. That’s not really what I’m worried about. I don’t think my parents can help me, anyway. Mom’s not really a Jedi, and of course then there’s Dad…” His voice trailed off again. Han, Jacen’s father, was about as far from Force-sensitive as anyone Mara had ever met.
“Ok, Jacen, then what’s worrying you?”
The boy paused for a moment, clearly composing his thoughts again. “Actually, that’s just it. I’m not quite sure. I know the Jedi during the Old Republic weren’t allowed to get married, or even to be in romantic relationships, because of the risk of falling to the dark side due to love. I guess my worry is that something like that could happen to me, if I start a relationship with someone.”
Mara frowned, suddenly wary of the conversation. “Jacen, where did you hear this?”
“I heard Mom and Uncle Luke talking about it, a few months ago on Coruscant. I didn’t hear exactly where the conversation went; again, I was just passing by and caught a little of it.”
Mara just sat for a moment, a slight twinge of surprise and anger running through her. Luke was talking to his sister about this?
Mara had known for some time that her husband had concerns about the propriety of marriage among Jedi, whether between Jedi themselves or with non-Jedi. Luke was clearly pained by his misgivings, but he’d carefully tried to hide his thoughts from Mara, though she’d gotten enough snippets of concern to realize what was bothering her husband. She had decided to leave the topic alone until Luke was ready to talk about it, but she was more than slightly unhappy to learn that he had gone to his sister first, rather than talking it over with his wife.
Mara tried to push the thoughts out of her mind, knowing that she was probably making Jacen even more uncomfortable with her silence.
“Well, Jacen, you know your uncle has set aside some of the traditions of the old Order. The marriage prohibition has so far been one of the ones that’s been discarded. Tell me why you think that’s wrong.”
Jacen gulped. He was fully aware that this might be a sensitive topic for his aunt. “I don’t mean that it’s necessarily wrong. It just seems to me that attachments like love can lead to the dark side, which is why the old Jedi prohibited marriage.”
Mara smiled at the boy. “Jacen, you’ve just equated love and marriage, when in fact they’re two different things. First, not all beings get married for love, but even for those who do, marriage is nothing more than a symbol of two beings’ commitment to love each other until death. At the very least, you shouldn’t fear marriage. It seems to me that what you really fear is love.”
“Well, yes, I guess. It just seems to me so easy to slip over to the dark side because of love. What would you do, if something or someone took Uncle Luke away from you?”
Mara shook her head. “To be honest, Jacen, I don’t know, just like you couldn’t tell me for sure what you would do if someone took Jaina or Anakin, or your mother or father, away from you. I would hope that both of us would be strong enough to accept the loss, and to mourn it and move on with our lives. Until it happens, though, it’s impossible to say.”
Jacen nodded solemnly. “That’s what I’m afraid of. There have been some girls here I’ve been, uh, close to, and my fear is that those relationships aren’t right.”
Mara started a bit, and her eyes went wide. “Jacen, I hope you’re not telling me what I think you’re telling me.”
The boy blushed fiercely again. “Oh, no, Aunt Mara, nothing like that. I’m not ready…”
Mara smiled at him. “Good, because I would hate to have to have Luke sit you down to talk over this stuff. Actually, you should probably go talk to him about this, anyway. He’s got a lot more experience in the relationship department than I do.”
Jacen frowned. “Can I ask how, and when, you knew you loved him, and how you knew it was the right thing?”
Mara sighed. “Look, Jacen, this is something I don’t talk to a lot of people about. I can tell it’s important to you, and I’ll share with you some of it, but you have to promise to keep it to yourself. What Luke and I have gone through is very special, and it’s not something I want shared with the whole galaxy.” Mara’s nephew nodded somberly.
“Ok, well, I think it’s easiest if I answer your second question first, the one about when I knew I loved Luke. I’m not sure I can give you a satisfactory answer, if only because I’ve never been able to give myself a satisfactory answer, but I’ll try anyway. You know the story of how we met?”
Jacen nodded. He had been born during that time of turmoil in the galaxy, and the stories of Mara’s background and her role in the Thrawn campaign were not exactly closely-held secrets, at least among the family.
“Well, looking back, I think I loved your uncle from about the beginning, or at least from around the time you were born, after I had given up wanting to kill him. It took me a decade to admit my feelings to myself, and I never really thought he felt anything like that for me, at least until our time on Nirauan.
“When he came to rescue me on that planet four years ago, it changed my outlook a little bit. When I worked for the Emperor, I was taught that love was a weakness, something that would be exploited by my enemies, so I tried to avoid the emotion altogether. I guess the only thing I really loved was freedom, and it took a symbolic gesture of giving up that freedom for me to be able to love anything else.
“When I wrecked the Jade’s Fire on Nirauan, that’s when I really realized I loved your uncle. He stayed with me, comforted me, didn’t judge me for what I thought of as my weakness. We were friends before that, and you might even say we were close in some ways, but it wasn’t a strong relationship at all. Crashing the Fire changed everything for me. I realized just how much was missing from my life, and I realized Luke could fill that void, but I still wasn’t sure about his feelings for me. I knew he cared deeply about me, but I didn’t know if he was ready or even willing to love me until later.
“We were ambushed by some droids on Nirauan, and nearly killed. During the battle, our minds linked in the Force, and we discovered feelings in each other that neither of us ever knew existed. We made it through, whether by luck or fate I don’t know, and he proposed on the spot. It was very romantic.”
Mara stopped for a moment, and smiled to herself, thinking back to that time. Jacen sat waiting, not wanting to disturb her, and finally she snapped out of it. “Anyway, you asked me how I know it was the right thing to do, right?”
The young man nodded. “Right. The feelings you have for Uncle Luke, aren’t you afraid they will open you up to the dark side?”
Mara shook her head. “Jacen, pure love can never be of the dark side. The feelings that I have for Luke, and that he has for me, they can never be a bad thing. It’s fear, vengefulness, jealousy, lust, possessiveness, all those things that can taint pure love that are of the dark side. I’m not going to tell you that loving someone won’t cause you to slip over to the dark side. It can. It happened to Luke once, and I’m sure that it’s happened to other Jedi in the past.
“But it’s not love that does that. It’s fear of loss, and pride, that cause people to slip over to the dark side. When Luke joined the Emperor reborn, or whatever he was, it was his fear of losing his family, and his overconfidence at being able to resist the temptation of the dark side, that caused him to go over to the other side. It wasn’t his love of his family that caused him to fall, but it was your mother’s love that brought him back.
“I suppose my answer for you is this, Jacen. Don’t be afraid to love. If you truly love someone, like I love Luke, no amount of wishing in the galaxy will bury those feelings anyway. Could you, for example, ever stop loving your parents, or your brother or sister? What you should watch out for are all those other emotions that mimic love, and taint it. Fear of loss, lust, possessiveness, those you have to avoid. Let the Force guide you, and you’ll know the difference.”
Mara suddenly realized that she had tears in her eyes. She swiped at them with the back of her hand, then smiled at her nephew. “I hope that helps some. I’m not sure how much more insight I can give you. You really should talk to Luke. He has a lot more experience with love than I do.”
Jacen nodded. “Thank you, Aunt Mara. I think it’s given me something to think about, anyway.” He gave her a quick hug, and left.
I hope I helped him, at least a little. Jacen was prone to introspection, and he was liable to drive himself crazy trying to examine this topic from every conceivable angle. Maybe I should have Kam or Corran talk to him, too. Both were married, and each man could give her nephew a very different take on the subject.
Mara looked at her chrono, and was startled to find she was already late for her rendezvous with Luke. Well, at least that talk with Jacen kept my mind off the waiting, anyway. She headed to the quarters she shared with her husband, already anticipating what was to come. In the back of her mind, though, she also knew that tonight, maybe, they’d finally work through this whole issue of Jedi marriage.
* * *Hours later, Mara lay silently in her husband’s arms. She could feel Luke’s heavy breathing, and could tell he was drifting off, although his mind was active enough that she knew he wasn’t quite asleep yet.
Meanwhile, she could feel anxiety building in her own mind, as she thought of her conversation with Jacen.
Mara took a deep breath. I guess it’s time.
“Luke, are you asleep? Can we talk for a few minutes?”
Mara could sense his thoughts kick up a little more. Clearly she had spoken just in time.
“Sure, Mara, what’s on your mind? By the way, what took you so long to make it back here this evening?”
Mara sighed. “Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Right after you left, Jacen came in. He wanted to talk about something with me.”
This piqued Luke’s interest, although just a little. “Oh, what was it?”
Mara winced as she felt the jolt in Luke’s mind. He came fully awake in an instant, and she could feel a swirl of emotion, although he regained control admirably quickly. His voice gave away only cautious interest.
“That seems a strange thing for him to be worrying about at his age. What brought this on?”
Mara rolled over to face her husband. “Actually, two things. First, he overheard part of our conversation in your office…”
Luke grunted, and she knew why. The conversation had not been something that either had wanted a teenaged relative to overhear.
“What was the second reason?”
Mara sighed again. “He also overheard you talking to Leia about the subject, a few months ago on Coruscant. I think he’s questioning the policies of the new Order on the subject, given the opposite stance of the old Order.”
Luke was silent. Completely silent, actually, and barely breathing. Mara reached out with the Force, trying to lightly touch his thoughts, but instead found a brick wall.
She could feel a touch of anger rising in herself. I have to try to be diplomatic, understanding even. No matter how hard that might be. She took another deep breath, trying to calm her nerves.
“Luke, I wish you’d let me in. I’ve known for the past few years that you’ve been struggling with this. I’m more than a little hurt that you went to your sister instead of coming to me. I thought we were closer than that.”
She looked at his eyes, and was surprised to find a few small tears developing. This was rather unusual for Luke, and her voice cracked a little with her next words.
“Stop it, Luke. You know I can’t take it when you cry.”
She was surprised again to feel a wave of comfort wash over her. Her husband had always been able to calm her in that way, even when he was hurting, as she knew he was now.
“Sorry, Mara. Let me try to explain…”
Mara laughed, in spite of the somber nature of the discussion. “Do, or do not, Skywalker.”
Luke chuckled too. Try was a word he had worked very hard to remove from his vocabulary, but he still had not quite managed the feat. “I will do, Mara. It’s a long story. I hope you’ll bear with me.” Mara nodded.
“Yoda told me, during my training, about the prohibitions of the old Order. I really didn’t give it much thought, until years later when I started the Academy. When Corran came to train, he was already married, and I just accepted the matter. Clearly there was nothing I could do about it at that point. It really wasn’t until Kam and Tionne got married that I started to have misgivings, but I let it go forward anyway.
“Yoda never really gave me instructions for this, and we had already discarded so many of the old Order’s ways. I’m sure there were many other things they did that we still don’t know about, even with some of the old Jedi we’ve run across — Callista, and others.”
Mara stopped him. “If it worried you so much, Luke, why didn’t you say something on Nirauan?”
Luke shook his head. “When I proposed to you, I knew it was the right thing to do. I never had any doubts, not until things had settled down a bit after the wedding. I still didn’t have doubts about my feelings for you, of course, but the worries about marriage started to pop back up again about two years ago.
“With how busy I’ve been at the Academy the past few years, not to mention our little adventure with the Outbound Flight, I hadn’t really gotten a chance to work this out for myself. I knew I needed to resolve the issue, once and for all. I really did mean to talk to you, really, Mara. But I decided I wanted a more unbiased opinion first. You have to admit that you have a vested interest in this topic.”
Mara could feel some anger rising in her, and her tone held more than a hint of accusation. “I could be fair, Luke, and you still went to your sister. That’s not exactly an unbiased source either. She’s married, and she’s at least partially a Jedi.”
Luke smiled at her, and it almost set her off completely, but his words surprised her. “Actually, I didn’t talk to Leia about this. Not really, anyway. I told her that I was on Coruscant to work on this problem, which I assume is the conversation Jacen overheard, but Leia and I didn’t discuss the topic beyond that.”
Mara’s anger had given way completely to confusion. “Ok, then, who did you go there to see?”
Luke smiled at her again. “Elegos, as you might have guessed.”
Elegos A’Kla was a Camaasi senator, and a close friend of both Leia and of Corran Horn. Camaasi were known as a wise race, and Jedi had been rumored to have sought them out over the course of millennia when they needed advice on difficult topics.
Mara gave Luke a small smile. “And he helped you figure out what to do about all this?”
“No. We talked, but he’s never been married, and in his opinion his experience was rather insufficient to help me with the problem.”
Mara was starting to get confused. “Ok. I’m assuming, since you’ve told me this much, that you have worked something out. Who did you end up going to?”
Luke gave her a sly smile. “Ikrit.”
“What?! Anakin’s pet?!” Mara was certain now that her husband was simply stringing her along.
Luke laughed out loud. “I suppose it’s time you knew, Mara. Ikrit is not really a pet. He’s a sapient being, a Kushiban. And, a 400-year-old Jedi Master.”
Mara was on the edge of being irate. “Why didn’t you tell me?! Where did he come from, and why is he masquerading as Anakin’s pet?”
Luke smiled at Mara again. “I will tell you the whole story soon, dear, but let’s get through the Jedi marriage thing first. Ikrit can wait. Suffice to say, he was a Master in the old Order, trained in part by Yoda himself, and possibly the only being in the galaxy who could give me insight into the ways of the previous Jedi Order.”
Mara narrowed her eyes a bit at him. “Fine, I can wait on that story for a bit. But you’re going to pay for keeping that secret from me for the past year.”
Luke chuckled, as he got the strong sense through the Force that Mara’s threat was in jest, and that she was completely perplexed rather than actually angry.
“I’m sure I will. Anyway, Ikrit set me straight. In essence, he helped me realize that I had a simple choice to make. That, basically, I had to either prohibit Jedi from attachments, as the old Order did, knowing full well that some Jedi will ignore that order, and that a few of those will fall to the dark side because of it. Or, on the other hand, I and the other Masters could help each individual Jedi determine where to draw the proverbial line in the sand.
“The old Jedi Order told all Jedi to draw that line in one specific spot. They were to accept love, but reject attachments. This was done, as I gather, because to accept attachments but reject jealousy is much harder. So, the Jedi drew the line between love and attachment. Ikrit’s claim is that each Jedi must choose, regardless of the will of the Masters of the Order, where they will draw their own line. Thus, if we choose to accept attachments, we have a greater responsibility to help our Jedi learn to reject jealousy, fear of loss, anger, and everything that can stem from attachment. So my choice is simple. Do I prohibit attachments, and maybe keep a few from falling at the expense of diminishing the free will of many, or do I allow the Order some measure of trust, knowing that some may fall to the dark side as a result?
Mara felt a wave of apprehension wash over her. Despite his story, she still could not be sure exactly what his decision had been.
Luke seemed to sense her fears. “Mara, you know that nothing could ever keep me from loving you. You’re everything in the galaxy to me, and in the end there was only one choice I could conceivably make. I had to find in favor of marriage. I’m a better man for being with you, and I know the same is true for Corran and Mirax, and for Kam and Tionne, and Leia and Han, and all the others.
“Yoda never really prepared me to make this choice. Ikrit told me that Yoda did this by design, allowing me to determine my own path because my solutions to some problems might be better than anything Yoda could conceive. In the end, my father’s attachment to me ended up redeeming him and killing Palpatine, and I’m fairly certain that that result was not something Yoda had envisioned.
“Attachments are just an extension of love, and pure love can never be evil, just like attachments themselves are not evil. All those things that sometimes go along with attachments, fear, possessiveness, vengeance, those are what are evil. Some of the Jedi might fall to those feelings, but all of the Jedi will be tremendously weakened if we prohibit them from all attachments.”
Luke paused as he noticed Mara was shaking, and could see tears forming in her eyes. “Mara, what’s wrong?”
She shook her head as she squeezed her arms tightly around her husband. “Nothing is wrong, Luke. It’s just that you’ve reminded me yet again how perfect we are for each other. You just said the exact same thing I told Jacen a few hours ago. I’m not sad, just tremendously happy. This issue has kept us from being as close as we could be for years now, and if it’s really decided, then it’s one more barrier between us that can come down.”
Luke nodded. “It is decided, Mara, once and for all. I’m sorry to have kept this from you for so long. I thought I was hiding it well; I’m amazed you didn’t force the issue sooner.”
Mara nodded back at him. “I have to admit, that would have been in character for me, at least until a few years ago. But even with the depth of our connection, we occasionally need some privacy, and I wanted to give you that. When I was struggling with my feelings for the Empire of the Hand, you gave me space to work through it on my own. I wanted to return the favor.”
Luke pulled Mara close, kissing her passionately. He broke off after a moment, looking deeply into her green eyes. Neither moved for a moment, both feeling their emotions rising up to join together. Since Nirauan this bond in the Force had been easily formed, but the depth of the bond in tender moments like this was tremendous.
This time it was even stronger, and Mara was startled to encounter no discernible barriers in her husband. Even in their most intimate moments before, there had been small barriers, but they were gone now. Mara reveled in the feeling for a long moment, then felt it subside as Luke prepared to speak again.
“Ok, so that’s settled. Now, tell me why Jacen came to you. He can’t be thinking about marriage itself at this stage, so something else must have precipitated it.”
Mara shook her head, and a slight grin formed on her face. “No, not marriage. He told me he had been…close, to some of the young women at the Academy, and that he was worried that those feelings were inappropriate, and could lead to the dark side.”
Mara could feel Luke’s anxiety, and a look at his face showed developing horror there. “He seemed interested in Tenel Ka at one point. They didn’t…” His voice trailed off, so clearly uncomfortable he was with the subject.
Mara laughed. “I asked him the same thing. He said, no, he’s not ready for intimacy on that level. I think he’s just worried about relationships in general.”
Luke’s relief was so great that his mimicry of Threepio in his response of “thank the Maker” didn’t even register to him as odd, although it made Mara blink twice.
He continued. “I may have to have a talk with Jacen.”
Mara nodded. “I told him the same thing, dear husband. After all, you have much more experience with love and romantic relationships than I’ll ever acquire.”
Luke winced. “Mara, you know those other women…”
Mara put a finger to his lips, then withdrew it and kissed him. “I know all about those other women you’ve loved, Luke. The ones you were intimate with, Callista and Akanah, and the ones you weren’t, like Gaeriel and the others. You love easily, Luke, and I love that about you. Without that, I could never have opened up to loving you. All those other experiences led you to me, and I don’t fear your past loves, nor the feelings you still have for them.”
Luke smiled. “You don’t need to fear my past, Mara, nor our future. I love you, faithfully, now and forever.”
Mara smiled back. “I know you do, Luke. We’re connected in a way that probably no two other beings can match, and that makes us the luckiest two people in the galaxy. I’ll never have to fear for our love, for that reason, and you won’t either.”
She paused for a moment, then pulled him closer and whispered softly in his ear, “Not that the occasional reminder isn’t appreciated. If you’re not too tired…”
She looked at him, seeing the twinkle in his icy blue eyes, and his quiet smile.
She felt his warmth as he pulled her close. “No, Mara, never too tired.”
Scrumptious and wonderful, simply simply. SJ, can you rewrite the entire NJO now? !!! All the relationships would make so much more sense and everyone would actually talk about stuff.
I absolutely love this! Every part of the chapter is written with such deep feelings and thoughts!
That was so lovely..Simply beautiful
Lovely, yes. And spot on.
This is the last story I have ready to go. This one is quite different in feel to those I've posted before. Short, purely introspective, no dialogue (or at least only inner dialogue), featuring just Mara.
Notes: I'm not sure there's a better set of books in all of the current profic than Allston's Enemy Lines duology. However, the one thing I didn't like was how he handled Mara's decision-making process regarding the mission to Coruscant. It's an abrupt change from "I'm not going, and Luke shouldn't either" to "Both Luke and I are going, and we're leaving Ben with H/L". AA has Mara relate a little of her decision-making process to Luke after-the-fact, but it left me unsatisfied.
So, here is my take on the whole thing. Concrit appreciated as usual. Hope you enjoy it.
* * *JADE DILEMMA
27 ABY - During New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Mara has to decide whether to accompany Luke to Coruscant or stay behind with Ben.
Mara was seething as she returned to the quarters she shared with Luke. She looked sadly for a moment at the face of her sleeping son. Of all the times for Luke to rush off to play the hero again, it has to be now. Ben was so small, so vulnerable, so in need of the presence and comfort of his parents, and Luke was abandoning him to rush off to Coruscant to face some nameless threat. And abandoning her, at the same time. There were myriad threats out there, but at some point they had to concentrate on keeping their family together. Luke would eventually have to accept that, if his arrogance didn't get him killed first.
He's falling back into his old patterns. Luke had changed since they'd married, nearly eight years prior. Before that he had been almost vain, always worried about his image and the way others perceived him and his relationship with the Force. The previous few years had been better, even with the ever-growing threat of the Yuuzhan Vong. Luke had stopped worrying so much about what others thought, had instead started listening to the Force for guidance. And, almost as importantly, he finally started taking my advice.
But here they were again, disagreeing on a course of action, and Luke had shown no concern for her point of view. Some nameless threat, she thought again, some unknown darkness, and he's rushing off to face it with no regard for what happens to me and Ben if he doesn't come back. She could tell herself that she could go on without Luke if something happened, but just thinking those thoughts drew her to the brink of despair.
Luke had faced darkness so many times before, and it seemed like each time, he needed the help of someone else to keep from being utterly destroyed. Mara had saved him from C'baoth, had helped save him from Exar Kun and from Kueller. Leia had pulled him back from his descent to darkness at the hands of the Emperor reborn, and only the love of his father had saved him during his meeting with the original Palpatine. Now, who will he have to help him? Some Intelligence operatives? Could that possibly be enough?
Why can't he send someone else? Kyp Durron, or Corran? Intellectually she might have admitted that this wish was much more selfish than practical, especially in Corran's case, as he had two small children of his own. But her emotions occasionally trumped logic, and this seemed to be a common occurrence when it came to her son.
Mara was honest enough to admit to herself that Luke was the best-equipped Jedi to handle whatever darkness was stirring on Coruscant. He is so strong in the Force, almost impossibly so, and he has more experience with fighting the dark side than all the rest of the Jedi put together. She had trusted him to fight against the Yuuzhan Vong, too, and he had come back from every one of those encounters relatively unharmed. But a mission to the new capital world of the Vong was different.
She looked again at her son, sleeping peacefully in her arms, blissfully unaware of the turmoil of her thoughts. She remembered Luke's advice, only a brief time ago. With a heavy heart she stretched out to the Force, opening herself up, trying to get a sense of what course of action she should pursue. But no insight came.
She sighed softly. The Force would give her nothing. Either it had no insight to give, or she was not calm enough or strong enough to sense whatever insight it might have. She would have to decide on her own. Allow Luke to go, and risk losing him forever. Alternately, attempt to convince him to stay, and failing that, attempt to force him to do so. She knew she would not be able to talk him out of his plans, and she knew she was unlikely to be able to force him to stay. Knowing this did not help, but instead frustrated her all the more.
As she looked again at Ben, she suddenly found herself considering a third option. Leave Ben with Leia and Han, and go with Luke to Coruscant. She had dismissed this option when Luke brought it up, convinced that her son needed her too much to abandon him in that way. After all, both she and Luke could be killed on such a dangerous mission, leaving Ben with no one.
Both she and Luke had grown up without true parents, and that experience had hurt them both deeply. She did not want that for her son, and knew that Luke did not want that for Ben either. For both, this wish ran deeper than a mere desire for self-preservation.
And yet, she was uncomfortable with the path upon which this anxiety was leading her. What am I supposed to do, sit out the war and spend every minute watching over Ben, and Ben only? She had never wanted to be responsible to the entire galaxy, yet she felt this responsibility all the more as they years passed.
What happens the next time Luke needs to go off on a mission? Do we repeat this fight each and every time he takes it upon himself to do something dangerous? Even if we win this war, when does it stop? Will there ever be a time when Luke can stop being a Jedi and just be a father? Will there ever be a time when I can stop being a Jedi and just be Ben's mother?
Mara suddenly found herself wondering if Luke's sense of duty to the greater galaxy might not also be the best way to protect their son. If we don't take the fight to the Yuuzhan Vong, how long will it be before they come for Ben? Should I make a stand only then, when my son is in reach of the hands of the enemy, or do we make a stand now, I and Luke together? Is an active defense better than a passive one? If Ben is in immediate danger, haven't I already failed him?
She was still at times uncomfortable with the responsibilities of being a Jedi. She had been able to convince herself to undertake those responsibilities to fight to make the galaxy a safer place, a more peaceful place that she and Luke could enjoy together, and a place in which they could someday raise a family. Now the growing malevolence of the Vong threatened everything she had worked towards in the past eight years.
Then I keep fighting. Not for the galaxy. Just for Luke, and for Ben. For Han and Leia and Jaina, and for Corran and Mirax and their kids, and Wedge and Iella and their kids. For the Jedi, and for my friends. It was easier to think of it that way, breaking down her responsibilities to their barest essential parts.
Luke would continue to fight for the galaxy. Mara would fight beside him, keeping him safe to continue that fight. She would do what she had always done best. She would protect the man that she loved more than anything else in the world, and with her help he would in turn make the galaxy safer for the one person whose place in her heart matched Luke's. Her son.
Mara felt Ben stir in her arms, and her son gently cooed as he smiled up at his mother. She felt a brief glimmer of joy from her son through the Force as his mind gently touched hers. She marveled to herself at the ability of her son to wake up with a smile on his face, a trick that most humans seemed incapable of performing starting somewhere around adolescence.
She left their quarters as she gently rocked her son, humming quietly as Ben started to fidget and grab at her red-gold hair. She felt a pang of sadness as she walked, looking at him. I'm going to go, and I'm going to leave you behind. But only for a while. Your father and I have something important to do, but we will come back to you. I promise.
Perfect. I love how you took the subtle and implied and made it explicit and muchly, totally in character. This is exactly how Mara would approach continuing to "go out there."
This is exactly how I imagine Mara's reasoning to be. Very good job!
This is amazing *wipes eyes* It had me near tears at the end. I think you pretty much kept Mara in character to how she always thought about Luke thinking he was the only one that could save the galaxy.
I'm sorry I didn't get to reply to these earlier. DRL has had me down most of March. I really enjoyed the take on marriage in the earlier duo of stories. That line did seem forced in SQ, I agree, but I like what you've done with it. It's very Luke to wrestle with the implications of an act and I like how he worked that all out. Reading anything with Mara and Jacen makes me slightly on edge for obvious reasons, but this more so due to the subject at hand and what we all know happened. Great work on walking that line. And I love Mara's thought process on leaving Ben to fight at Luke's side. It's not easy to leave your child (even when I leave mine, just to go to 8 hours of work!) but it's very Mara to keep fighting. Wonderful vigs.
Finally, after putting this story aside for awhile, here is my SJRS April/May challenge response. This was the Postsecret challenge, and the challenge I received was "Sometimes I hate myself for being bothered by your past life...even when I didn't know you then. I know I will regret it but that doesn't stop me. You're the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."
A few notes: First, this story has references to sexual situations (although not explicit descriptions), as well as references to (canonical) interspecies pairings. Reader be warned. Second, I tried to describe Mara's romantic past the way *I think* Zahn intended for her to be characterized. There are, to my knowledge, no canonical descriptions or references anywhere of any of Mara's romantic relationships prior to Luke, so this is basically a wild-ass guess on my part. Finally, I wrote Mirax as a bit of a trollop, for lack of a better (or at least more polite) term. Mirax fans, feel free to flame me for my choice if you wish. You won't hurt my feelings.
This was a tough one for me to write, as it's pretty much purely fluff, with a bit of emotion thrown in there. I took some liberties with the idea of "secrets", since nowhere in the instructions did it say that the character had to actually share his/her secret with anyone else. It's hard to write Mara in-character in a situation like this, so I hope I've succeeded.
Hope you like the story. Concrit appreciated as usual (although I really never get any comments that could be interpreted as criticism).
* * *
20 ABY - About a year after Union
Mara, Mirax, and Leia share drinks and stories.
The unexpected shout of her name turned Mara Jade Skywalker’s head. Already she recognized the voice, but it took her a moment to locate the source – Mirax Horn.
The Corellian smuggler-turned-wife-to-a-Jedi-Knight was across the hangar, waving at Mara from the foot of the former’s ship, the Pulsar Skate. Mara smiled to herself as she crossed the hangar to briefly embrace her friend.
Mirax had indeed become a friend in the past few years. They had been professional acquaintances previously, but their newfound friendship had even deepened their working relationship of late. More and more often recently, Mara and Mirax had found themselves working together, despite Mara’s ever-diminishing duties under Talon Karrde’s Smugglers’ Alliance.
Breaking their embrace, Mara smiled lightly at her friend. “Mirax, what are you doing here?”
“I had a short time off, and I stopped by hoping to see my husband.” Mirax’s wife was Corran Horn. Previously a pilot in Rogue Squadron, he had discovered latent Force ability and had trained at the Jedi Academy at the same time as Mara. Neither had completed their training at the time. Now, years later, both were Jedi Knights.
“The end of the war and his retirement were supposed to give us more time together, but your husband has him running around doing so many things for the Jedi that I see him even less now than when he was with Rogue Squadron.”
Mara grunted in semi-amusement, her mood darkening a bit. “I know what you mean.” Luke Skywalker, Mara’s husband and leader of the Jedi Order, was gone so often that Mara saw less of him now than she had before they were married.
Or so it often seemed, anyway. In the back of her mind, Mara might admit that their newly-discovered love might only make these prolonged absences seem interminable, when in reality they had seen each other much less frequently in the ten years they had known each other prior to their marriage.
Nevertheless, she refused to speak such things out loud. Her well-honed reputation as an ice queen would not long survive if others realized the wistful feelings that often overcame her these days, and she was not yet ready to set aside her previous persona.
Mirax was oblivious to the thoughts running through Mara’s mind. “So, is Corran around somewhere?”
The question dragged Mara back to the here and now. She narrowed her eyes, and nodded cautiously. “Yes, he’s around somewhere, although I think Luke has him running an overnight wilderness survival session with some of the advanced students. I doubt you’ll be able to see him until tomorrow morning, unless you want to try to track him down in the forests tonight.”
Mirax visibly blanched. “Um, no thanks.” Yavin 4’s forests were well-known for the variety of dangerous wildlife that roamed freely, seeking an easy meal.
Mara chuckled lightly. “You’re welcome to stick around tonight. Leia’s here, too. We planned to get together and have few drinks, since Luke’s busy and Han’s off who-knows-where.”
Mirax brightened some. “Sounds like fun. I’m in.”
* * *“…but I finally managed to get away with the help of a Human Replica Droid. He was completely oblivious to the fact it wasn’t me, and ended up trying to marry it. I can’t tell you how relieving and satisfying it was when I heard that the droid killed him at the altar.”
Mara visibly shuddered. “I met Trioculus once on Kessel. Palpatine thought that Grand Moff Hissa was diverting glitterstim shipments for his own gain, and sent me to investigate. I never did find any evidence, but that was one of the worst assignments I ever had. Trioculus was a creep even then. Between his rise to power and Isard’s, I couldn’t leave the Empire fast enough after Palpatine was killed.”
All three women had indulged rather liberally in the limited amount of alcohol available at the Jedi Academy in the past three hours, and the end result was a collective reminiscing about previous relationships.
Mirax laughed out loud. “So that was your worst relationship, Leia?”
Mara’s sister-in-law shook her head. “I wouldn’t exactly call it a relationship. I tried to avoid him as much as possible. Though he might not even be the worst suitor I’ve ever had.”
Mara narrowed her eyes in surprise. “No?”
Leia hung her head in shame. “Well, there was that one time that I almost slept with Prince Xizor.”
Mirax nearly choked on her drink, while Mara let out a surprised laugh.
Leia huffed a bit. “Don’t make fun. Have either of you ever been under the influence of Falleen pheromones? No? I didn’t think so.”
Leia continued. “Thank the Force that Chewbacca was able to pull me away from that situation. Killing Xizor was one of the only good things Vader ever did.”
Mirax raised her glass in a mock salute. “I think ‘Black Sun crime lord’ takes the rhyscate as far as bad suitors goes. Still not a relationship, though, at least the way you’re telling it…”
Leia shook her head. “No, I guess not. Most of my relationships have been short-lived. I did date the Mandalore at one point while Han was frozen in carbonite. Looking back on it, that was pretty bad.”
Mara’s eyes went wide. “Boba Fett?”
“No, he wasn’t Mandalore yet. Plus, he was the one who took Han captive, so any date we would have had would have consisted of me shooting him in the head. No, the one before him. Fenn Shysa.”
Mirax again laughed loudly, somewhat affected by the alcohol. “You sure have had your fair share of bad encounters with men, Leia.”
“Not to mention the time you kissed your brother.”
Mara’s muttered comment was not meant to be overheard. In this she failed. This time, Mirax did choke on her drink, while Leia glared daggers at her sister-in-law.
Mirax finally managed to stop coughing long enough to respond. “What?!”
Leia sighed deeply. “You mynock…”
Mara laughed at that. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”
Leia continued. “I can’t believe Luke told you. He has to be as embarrassed about that as I am.”
“More, I think. But he’s terrible at keeping secrets from me. Force-bond, and all that.”
Turning to Mirax, Leia told the story. “It was on Hoth, before we found out we were related. In my defense, I never really had feelings like that for Luke. I mostly just did it to make Han jealous. Which worked wonders, by the way. Highly recommended as a technique, although it probably works better if you choose someone you’re not related to.”
Leia narrowed her eyes mischievously. “Your turn, Mirax.”
The brown-haired woman gave a small sigh. “Fine. I don’t have anything in my past nearly so scandalous. Just the usual assortment of ex-boyfriends and flings on random worlds, same as pretty much any female smuggler, I’d imagine.” Neither woman noticed Mara pale slightly at that aside.
Mirax took a long sip of whiskey before continuing. “Probably the only good story was the time my father caught me with one of his crew members.”
Mara raised her eyebrows. “Oh?”
Mirax chuckled. “I was a teenager, and he was about my age, maybe a few years older. A handsome boy from a middle-class Corellian family. I never heard how he ended up working for Booster, but he mostly loaded and unloaded my father’s more… legitimate cargo at various ports-of-call. Anyway, I think he was fairly bored, and we got together a few times. We thought we were being discrete about it, but I think almost everyone on the ship knew except for my father.
“It only lasted a few weeks, then Booster caught us in a rather, um… immodest state one night in my quarters aboard ship. That ended things quickly.”
Mara, who knew Mirax’s father well, laughed. “I imagine that Booster didn’t take it very well.”
Mirax sighed theatrically. “You might say that. Booster pulled him off me and dragged him out of the room. Fairly immediately, as you can imagine, I find myself chasing my father down the passageway, pretty much naked, begging him not to eject the kid from the nearest airlock. Of course, meanwhile every single being on the ship is standing in the doorways to their individual quarters, watching all this unfold.”
Mara and Leia, both howling with laughter, took a moment to settle down. Finally, Leia responded. “So what happened?”
“The ship’s first mate, this grisly old man probably twenty years my father’s senior, eventually managed to pull Booster off the boy. He got my father calmed down enough to get him to lock him in his quarters, instead of ejecting him into space. A few days later, we set down on one of the stations orbiting Duro. My father dumped the kid there with all of his stuff, and we left. I never found out what happened to him after that.”
Leia wiped some tears from her eyes. “That’s quite a story.”
“Well, it’s the life of a smuggler’s daughter. Booster was so overprotective that I ended up rebelling like that on occasion. Once Corran’s father sent mine to Kessel and I was forced to take over the family business, I settled down some.”
Mara chuckled. “What does Corran think about all that?”
Mirax smirked. “He pretends to understand, although I’m sure privately he’s horrified. He’s not allowed to criticize, anyway. He has just as many embarrassing things in his past.”
“Oh?” Mara was intrigued by this, always interested in having embarrassing information on Corran, one of her closest friends among the Jedi.
“Ugh, he’ll kill me if I tell you this.”
Mara smirked in some amusement. “I’ll stop him. He never could take me in any kind of fight.”
Mirax and Leia both laughed at that. “Ok, fine. There’s nothing too salacious. An affair with someone he was protecting while he was at CorSec, for example. It could have gotten him fired, I guess, but other than that it was pretty tame, at least as he tells it. He and Iella nearly had an affair, too, while they were working together, but it never quite happened. And under no circumstances should either of you tell her that I told you about it.”
Both Mara and Leia nodded at this. Iella Wessiri had been Corran’s partner in CorSec. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid in Mara’s wedding, she was married to Wedge Antilles, one of Mirax’s childhood friends and Corran’s former commander in Rogue Squadron.
“Other than that, really, the most embarrassing story he has is the time when he slept with that Selonian. Chertyl-something.”
Mara’s surprise was obvious. “A Selonian, really?”
Leia frowned slightly. “I wouldn’t have taken you two for xenophobes.”
Mirax laughed a bit. “We’re not, I promise. Granted, human-Selonian pairings are unusual, even in the Corellian system. There were some other aspects that made this particular story interesting.”
She paused a moment. “Instead of me telling you, though, I’m going to suggest you ask Iella next time you see her. She tells it much better than I do. If possible, ask her about it in Corran’s presence. It’s even funnier when he’s there to squirm as she tells the story.”
* * *While Mara enjoyed the other women’s stories, she was privately dreading the inevitable path the conversation was leading. Finally, hours after the women had started drinking, the moment arrived.
“Ok, Mara, your turn. Most embarrassing relationship, or worst one.”
Mara was silent for a long moment. Oh boy, how do I answer this one?
“Well, that’s complicated. I’ve had so many fake relationships, where I’ve had to pretend to be with someone for the purposes of some mission, either for Palpatine or later for Karrde. Lando, for example. We were never actually dating, but we had to pretend to be together for years. Situations like that can cause a lot of discomfort.”
Both Leia and Mirax blinked in surprise at this information. Mara’s history with Lando was well-known, but few knew that it had simply been a cover story. Mara could tell that Leia was about to ask for more details, and quickly continued, cutting her sister-in-law off.
“Of my real relationships, well…. I guess you can say that I’ve never actually had a bad relationship, or even an embarrassing one.”
Mirax gave her a disbelieving look. “You’re kidding.”
Mara blushed a little bit. “Well…” Blast, this is embarrassing. “I never really had a real relationship with a man. Before Luke, that is. Not even a one-night fling, for that matter.”
Neither woman responded immediately. Finally, Mirax asked quietly, in a near whisper, “Really?”
Leia, for her part, merely sat in stunned silence. Mara could feel her cheeks reddening further, and tried to brush it off as no big deal. “Yes, really. I guess I never had the chance…”
Mirax raised an eyebrow at that. “Knowing many of the men you’ve worked with the past few years, Mara, I have trouble believing that.”
Mara felt a stab of discomfort deep in her stomach. How do you explain, to two of your best friends in the galaxy, that your life was so screwed up by Palpatine that you were never able to trust someone enough? Not enough for even the faintest expression of intimacy. Not enough for even a transient, throw-away, stress-relieving one-night fling. How do you admit that not even your own husband fully realizes just how bad things were for you back then?
Some part of Mara yearned desperately to share this with her friends. The past year with Luke had changed her life almost completely, but the part of her that refused to trust others, even her closest friends, with her innermost demons was not completely gone. So, instead, she resorted to her usual defense mechanism – sarcasm.
“Well, obviously I had plenty of chances, Mirax. But not everyone hops into bed with shipmates just because they’re bored.”
Mara was internally wincing even as she said this, knowing full well that she was in danger of crossing the line from humor to insult. She could sense some mild shock from Leia, although Mirax, to her credit, just gave her an amused look.
“Well, then, you’ve missed out. Sex for recreation really helps pass the time, not to mention the light-years, during those boring times between planetary layovers.”
Leia finally spoke up. “I can’t believe you managed to go nearly forty years without, well, you know…”
Mara blushed again as Mirax snickered. “You must have gotten really good at taking care of things yourself.” Mirax paused for a moment, then grinned slyly. “Is there a Force technique to help with that?”
Some of Mara’s anxiety was beginning to drain away, and she chuckled lightly. “If there is, Luke’s been keeping it to himself.” Slightly affected by the alcohol, she was uninhibited enough to say, “Seems like something he might do”.
“Hey, that’s my brother.” Leia was displeased, and voiced her objection.
Mirax laughed. “Speaking of Luke, he had quite the reputation as a ladies’ man back in the early days of the Rebellion. That must be uncomfortable for you, Mara, given your romantic history, or apparently your lack thereof.” This dragged the conversation into an uncomfortable silence yet again.
Mara’s response, after a moment, was a snarky “Ha! No. He might have chased a lot of women, but he rarely caught them, as I understand it.”
Internally, her thought process was different. Luke is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Most of the time his past doesn’t bother me. I didn’t know him for the majority of it, and when I did, we were both too screwed up by our own lives to see the potential life we could have had together. Still, Mara was honest enough to admit, if only to herself, that Luke’s past life did sometimes bother her. I hate that it does, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling that way sometimes. She wondered occasionally if these petty jealousies would ever pass.
Mirax, meanwhile, was oblivious to Mara’s inner conflict, and kept talking. “Still, even if he didn’t, he still has more experience than you. I know how I feel about Corran’s past…”
Mara was starting to relax again, finally, and gave Mirax her best imitation of an innocent smile. “Well, I’ve ruined him for other women now, and I’m sure I’ve made him forget all about those others in his past.” Her green eyes took on a gleam as she continued. “Plus, he obviously learned a lot from those previous… experiences. Couple that with a Jedi Master’s stamina, and, oh my…”
Leia’s objection was a little more vociferous this time. “Again, hey, that’s my brother!”
Mara’s halfhearted apology was cut off as a quiet knock came from the door of her quarters. After a moment, it opened to admit Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master.
“Sorry to interrupt, ladies, but I wondered if I could borrow my wife for a few minutes?”
“Are you sure a few minutes will be enough?”
At Mirax’s response, Mara nearly choked on her laughter, while Leia turned bright red.
Luke could only stand with a bemused expression on his face. His response of “What’s so funny?” only caused Mirax and Mara to laugh even harder.
Excellent challenge response. I can see Mara's romantic past being directly affected/influenced by her trust issues. Enjoyed the gal-pal time, and Mirax's secret-sharing. It fits in with some of what I believe she would be surrounded by, growing up. Liked that Mara and Mirax are close friends. Reminds me of "Exonerated" by the marvelous
Got a charge out of Leia's reactions LOL
“Are you sure a few minutes will be enough?"
That was great. Fantastic use of the secret.
Great work on a challenge. I can perfectly understand, why Mara hadn't any relationship prior to one with Luke.
I love it! I was laughing out loud, especially when Mara made that snarky comment to Mirax. I was thinking, "Oh no, you actually went there!?!" Good thing Mirax has a sense of humor. Nicely done!
*grins* That had me smiling from ear to ear..I love girl talk centered fics.
Glad everyone like it.
Thanks. It's not easy for me to write it. Even my wife isn't really into girl talk, so I'm not all that familiar with the paradigm. I'm forced to use a lot of imagination to write something like this.
Well, it sounds about right for those three. I especially love Mara and Mirax moments since Corran and Luke made that agreement that they should never meet.....they failed lol But seriously, its good fun.
I read this the other day but didn't get a chance to reply. I liked it, and can see Mara's past having been the way you've written it, due to trust issues. I have seen her past written many ways and can see reasoning behind all of them. But that's what happens when the majority of her past is blank. I like the way you had her discuss it here and girl talk is always fun to read.
Here's my SJRS December Challenge response.
Write a fic where Luke and Mara are celebrating the holidays. It can be in any time frame, AU or canon and any length. You must include:
* Horrible Weather
* The phrase "Do you remember when..."
* A holiday tradition/event that is unique to YOUR family
* A reference to something that has happened to YOU this past year
* Post between Dec 16-24
First, thanks to JediMara77 for graciously allowing me to use the plot from "Exonerated: The Jade-Terrik Adventures" (link) as one of the flashbacks in my story. I've altered some of the details, not because I didn't like them, but simply because they didn't quite fit with my narrative. The story appears to suffer from the truncation issue, but can easily be found in its entirety elsewhere (I'll add a link if the mods are ok with it).
This entry is set in 24 ABY a short time after The Crystal (a short story from Star Wars Gamer #5) and prior to Vector Prime. I hope you enjoy it. Concrit appreciated as usual, and happy holidays.
* * *
24 ABY - A few months after The Crystal
Luke and Mara try to celebrate the Festival of Life
Mara Jade Skywalker was sure she was dying. Her mysterious illness had begun affecting her barely two months ago, and although she was still strong, there was grave cause for concern. Several dozen others had been infected by the heretofore unknown pathogen at the same time as Mara.
All were now dead. Only Mara remained.
Her doctors attributed this to her significant Force ability. Certainly, she was in good shape compared to her fellow victims, but this was of little comfort to Mara. Despite her outwardly pessimistic nature, Mara had always been described by those who knew her as “plucky” and “obstinate”, among other, somewhat less-polite terms. Now, though, she felt beat down. Her dreams of her future, discovered only five short years ago upon her marriage to Luke Skywalker, were greatly diminished. In Mara’s mind, they had died with the last victim of the disease.
Not that she had given up entirely. Mara was certain she was dying, but she was determined to spend what remaining time she had with her husband. Even during their five year marriage, they were often separated. Luke, for his part, had been busy with the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4. Mara, meanwhile, had continued to work occasionally as a smuggler and trader. Although their rendezvous between these enforced absences had been passionate, they had also been altogether too brief. Mara bitterly regretted this now.
It had been a little better the past few years. The Academy had been transitioning to a pre-Jedi school, and Luke’s time had been somewhat freed up. Although he was still involved in the operations of the Academy, he traveled more often, and he and Mara had been able to spend more time together recently, although often recently in the company of their apprentices, the Solo children.
As Mara reclined on the couch in the new apartment on Coruscant which she shared with Luke, she considered the irony of her current situation. It seemed a malicious trick that her illness and impending death should be the things most occupying her mind during this week, the Festival of Life. Perhaps, she reflected, this was simply due to her exhaustion. This particular Fete Week on Coruscant, the second on the yearly calendar, consisted mostly of endless parties and get-togethers. As head of the Jedi Order, Luke Skywalker was a major draw for parties thrown by the Coruscanti elite. Although they had declined most invitations, Luke and Mara had still managed to attend six parties in the last two days, and though Mara was insistent on accompanying her husband to these events, the endless strain had taken its toll on her body.
Luke had told her, after they arrived home from the most recent party only hours before, and in no uncertain terms, that she was to rest. Pronouncements like that did not generally go over well with Mara, but for once she found herself unwilling to expend the energy to argue about her husband’s overprotectiveness. This more than anything else frightened Mara, as it meant her illness was changing her. The disease was winning.
She looked up and smiled wanly as Luke entered the room. Even before he spoke, Mara could sense his concern. Luke’s feelings, felt through their Force bond, were nearly tangible, but Mara didn’t need the Force to sense his worry.
“How are you doing?” Luke asked softly.
“Fine.” Her reply was somewhat snippy, and Mara winced internally, immediately regretting her irritability. Her voice softened considerably as she added, “Sorry, just tired.”
Luke smiled gently as he lay down beside her, wrapping his arms around her in the process. “I know, I can tell. I’m sorry to have dragged you to all these parties when you need to be resting.”
Such a comment would normally have set Mara off, but at the moment the comfort of her husband’s presence wiped away any need for ire. Luke’s empathy was palpable through the Force, and the sensation of warmth imparted by his touch, his arms wrapped around her torso and chest pressed against her back, caused her heart to briefly flutter in a way it hadn’t in weeks. After a long pause, she turned to Luke, kissed him tenderly, and bared her soul.
“I’ve just been lying here feeling sorry for myself and being enraged at the universe for making me sick during the Festival of Life, when I should have been enjoying the fact that we can actually be together this year.” This, after all, was the first Festival of Life in which Luke and Mara had actually been in the same solar system.
Luke grunted in semi-amusement. “I won’t comment on that first part, but I can get on board for enjoying our time together.” He paused, reflecting for a moment. “There does always seem to be something keeping us apart this time of year. Do you remember when you and Mirax were stuck on Mobrow III two years ago?”
* * *In retrospect, the weather was the worst part. Getting caught in a firefight between legitimate security forces and illegitimate criminals was so common for me up to a few years ago that this occasion barely registered as noteworthy. Even getting thrown in prison as a result of miscommunication and mistaken identity was not particularly novel. Such a thing had happened to me several time before, surprisingly more as Emperor’s Hand than as a member of Karrde’s organization. Undercover operatives tend to get arrested by mistake more often than smugglers. Usually, in the latter case, planetary security forces know exactly what they’re doing. Incidentally, in my experience, planetary security forces rarely know “exactly what they’re doing,” especially in the systems in which Karrde operated.
The windstorms, though. Those were bad. It didn’t help that, as a rather backwater potential signatory to the New Republic, the prison buildings on Mobrow III were not exactly what one might call weatherproof. Sitting in a tiny prison cell with Mirax and freezing our rear ends off while everyone back home was celebrating the Festival of Life was not a situation that pleased me, and I let the guards know it at every opportunity. Unfortunately, they were either too smart or too stupid to ever respond to my threats, cajoles, or bribes, so we never got a chance to break out.
Eventually someone figured out who we were, and they let us go. Just in time for us to miss the entire holiday week, of course. Luke, naturally, had been extremely worried, since he hadn’t actually known where I was, and since we were supposed to spend the holiday together for once. I think this ruined his holiday, although he refused, in his usual infuriating way, to act inconvenienced in the slightest. Mirax and I were far less reticent about letting our true feelings slip, and being imprisoned had certainly ruined our holiday. I have to admit, though, that the ryshcate we made afterwards with Mirax’s stock of Whyren’s Reserve on the Pulsar Skate turned out pretty well.
* * *“That wasn’t my fault.”
Luke laughed. “You sound like Han.”
Mara narrowed her eyes at her husband and huffed a bit. “Regardless, it wasn’t. Besides, what excuse do you have for last year? Remember that?”
* * *Another Dark Jedi. I don’t know how Luke keeps getting into these things. I was angry for weeks after this latest one. I made him promise after Kueller that he’d give me a heads up before he got into it with another Darksider.
Speaking of which, why can’t the universe come up with something else to challenge us? Why does it always have to be a Dark Jedi? Seriously, think about Luke’s history for a minute. Vader, Palpatine, Flint, Lumiya, Cronal, the Dathomiri witches, C’Baoth, Palpatine again, Exar Kun, Hethrir, Brakiss, and Kueller. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, too. It almost makes me wish for Thrawn to come back. At least he was civilized, and didn’t throw Force lightning around at everyone who crossed him. And now he’s faced down Brakiss again. Without me. During the Festival of Life, too. And instead of being with my husband this year for once, fate had me stuck on a ship with Mirax again. Even though this time it was my ship, I was still displeased.
At least, as always, Mirax was a good drinking buddy. Still, it was a lot more fun in recent years when Corran wasn’t around. Not that he’s not fun to drink with too. Especially since he can’t hold his liquor nearly as well as two women who are barely two-thirds his weight. Granted, on that occasion, none of us held our liquor that well. Perhaps trying to soak up all the rum in our stomachs with a ryshcate that itself was basically saturated with that same rum wasn’t the best idea.
Still, usually when we drink, Mirax and I just wind up gossiping. Not this time, though. With her husband there, she ended up in what I hoped was the guest cabin doing things to Corran I don’t even want to think about. Meanwhile, I was stuck sitting in the cockpit, blasted half out of my mind, angry with the New Republic for preventing me from entering the Yavin system until they finished mopping up the last of the Imperium forces, and trying my best not to listen to the racket coming from the cabin behind me. The kind of racket that, in a just universe, I would have been making with Luke at that very moment. But for yet another holiday, Luke and I ended up apart. Again.
* * *Luke chuckled at her retort. “I do remember last year. And I can say categorically that that wasn’t my fault. Besides, I was fighting for my life and the lives of our students, not to mention our niece’s and nephews’ lives. Remind me again what it was you were doing?” His eyes twinkled as he stared expectantly at his wife.
Mara glared back at him. “I was sitting alone in the cockpit of the Sabre at the edge of the Yavin system, trying not to listen to Mirax and Corran having obnoxiously loud, drunken sex in what turned out to be my bed.”
Luke burst out laughing, as he always did. Mara still didn’t find it funny. “I had to throw away those sheets. And I liked those sheets.” To make matters worse, she still hadn’t gotten her revenge on Mirax and Corran for that stunt. She had run some ideas by Luke, but as usual, he was far too modest to agree to them, and so far had vetoed every one.
She saw Luke smiling at her, and her annoyance was quickly forgotten. Reminiscing with her husband had lightened her mood for what seemed like the first time in months. Mara was rarely sentimental, but she was feeling it now.
“As much as I like Mirax, I’m much more happy to be spending the holiday with you, Skywalker. For the first time in 5 years.” Mara chuckled softly. “Although, I do miss the ryshcate.”
Luke laughed. “I thought you might. There’s one baking now. I asked Mirax to ship me the ingredients. I hope it turns out as well as hers.”
Mara was stunned, although she wasn’t sure why. She had never been the romantic sort, but had quickly found that Luke was, and she had learned to appreciate his little surprises over the course of the past five years. Somehow, though, she never expected them.
All of the sudden, she found herself remembering. The proposal on Nirauan. Their wedding, their honeymoon, and their second honeymoon at the Karrish Mountain retreat. His shocking gift of the Sabre, six months after the wedding. Numerous other instances of romance, of intimacy, spread across five years of travel, five years of conflict between the Jedi and the evil forces of the greater galaxy. Five years in which they had been apart more than they had been together.
At another time, the look of surprise on Luke’s face when Mara started weeping would have been comical. They had had five years together. But Mara remembered her vision, seemingly a lifetime ago on board the Chimaera. Her vision of the future, of challenges, of joys, of sorrows, of allies and enemies. And of children. Her vision of a lifetime of love, she and Luke together as a family. Now, Mara knew, that future would never come to pass.
Before Luke could even ask her what was wrong, she forced it out between sobs.
“Five years… Luke… it’s not… enough.”
This was as much as she could handle before she broke down completely. After a long moment, she looked up through tears to see her husband smiling gently, if somewhat sadly, at her, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
He took a breath before he spoke. “You’re right, five years isn’t enough. But then, fifty wouldn’t be either, or five hundred.” He looked at her with such love that at that moment, Mara’s heart melted.
“But you’re Mara Jade. When life knocks you down, you kick it in the teeth and stand right back up. I have no doubt that this time will be no different. And when you’ve beaten this, we can get started on our next five years together.”
And Luke said it with such conviction, with such care and admiration, that as he leaned in to kiss her, Mara almost believed him.
Great challenge reply, even if it was sad. Those two were very in character.
Very touching and very much in character. You thrill me all over again with your complete and superb grasp of Mara's personality and how she would absolutely be feeling. And Luke - well he's just our sweet cuddle buns She really is blessed. And he is too. Any other woman wouldn't be nearly as exciting LOL