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Saga - Legends A Night Out in Level 24

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Jâd Sphera, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Summary:
    A night out gives Luke Skywalker and Han Solo a bit more of what they'd expected.
    10 months after the Battle at Centerpoint.

    Notes:
    English in not my first language, so please go easy on me.

    This is one episode that belongs in another story of mine entitled “Provenance”, but I think that by itself stands as a full short story, therefore I decided to publish it separately too. And here it is!
    I hope you enjoy it.
    Reviews and comments are welcome :)
    Thank you for reading!


    P.S. I need help with my Grammar and I'm looking for Beta Readers who would like to help me proof reading before I post Chapters. In return, these people would get to read stories first ;) People with EXCELLENT Grammar and Spelling skills. If anyone is interested, please contact me.


    DISCLAIMER: I do not own Star Wars. I'm not making any profit out of this. I do this only for fun!




    A Night Out in Level 24


    10 months after the Battle of Centerpoint. 18 to 19 years ABY (Give or take).
    It goes AU from here.




    Luke arrived to his Coruscanti apartment much later than he’d expected. Although he was used to working long hours and to put a lot of himself in whatever he did, the past three weeks were really taking a toll on him. ‘Seven more days to go…’, he thought half-relieved, and he’ll be out of there. The ominous headache that had loomed over him since he’d arrived on planet was threatening to take hold of him. Tonight, he felt tired, hungry and fed up. Absentmindedly he munched on a piece of fruit he’d found on the kitchen’s counter. He felt so out of focus that didn’t know what to do first: sleep, eat or take a shower. ‘Shower first, food second.’ he decided.

    Politics was not his strong suit, and he avoided it as much as possible. He liked things to be simple and straightforward… Leia was the politician in the family! Many times before, his closest friends had accused him of being too naïve, of showing his cards before the time was right, and in their accord, this didn’t seem to mix well with Politics. But in honesty, he didn’t even have any hidden cards! So, if his friends were worried that he’d be taken advantage of, they needn’t to do that. When necessary he did know how to put his foot down, when the occasion called for it… Perhaps sometimes it lacked subtlety on his part, and Leia would discretely frown at him for it. He was not an idiot! He understood what was at stake when dealing with politicians. So, his main strategy was based on consciously encouraging an open dialog with his interlocutors, make everyone comfortable and listened to. His Jedi insight always helped him to sense true intentions and changes in mood, so he could work this to his favour to avoid any misunderstandings. His training in the Force had also proved to be an excellent way to cultivate his patience, and this environment called for lots of it. But even with all these aspects working in his favour, dealing with politicians always felt to him like walking on the tightrope over a shiver of Firaxan sharks, waiting for him to take the slightest slip.

    When he came out of the ‘fresher-room, feeling clean and refreshed, he was greeted by the insistent beeping of the comm unit in his apartment. He rushed over… when recognizing the number’s ID, he took the call. A familiar face sporting a huge roguish grin appeared on the comm’s screen.

    “Hey Kid!” Han Solo gave his friend an enthusiastic greeting, then gave an appalled look, “What are you up to?” to him Luke kind of looked like bantha poodle.

    “Hi Han!” the kid in question greeted back, “Nothing really…” he innocently shrugged.

    Of course, that wasn’t news for Han. Seeing Luke already clad in his sleeping clothes really ground his gears. It seemed incredible to him that being ten years his junior, the Jedi behaved as a much older man than he! “Get some decent clothes on,” the man on the other side of the comm ordered, “I’m taking you out tonight. Let’s have some good old-fashioned fun!”

    Luke winced at his brother-in-law’s statement. Good old-fashioned fun only meant one thing: getting wasted on Corellian rum and every other alcoholic beverage they could put their hands on, a feat almost impossible for him. He couldn’t get drunk even if he wanted to! A small side effect of his fast Jedi metabolic function. He’d even given up drinking a long time ago! But, on second thought, tonight he’d do anything for a distraction. He really needed to unwind, so he’d be happy to accompany his Corellian friend and at least try.

    Luke gave his friend a sparkling grin. “All right. Where are you taking me?”

    “It’s a surprise.” A hint of mystery in that answer.

    Luke’s stomach rumbled. “Can we eat?”

    Han casually dismissed his friend’s concern, “Sure! Plenty of food where we’re going! I’ll be over in ten!”

    Luke was about to switch the comm off when Han’s image reappeared, “Oh! Almost forgot: leave your Jedi costume behind. Tonight, we’re going incognito.” The older man warned.

    As he clicked off the holo-comm Luke wondered how they were going to manage that. There were basically no places in Coruscant were they wouldn’t be recognized. Maybe he could manage wearing normal civilian clothes and concealing his lightsaber… or use a Force Illusion technique to avoid recognition, although he didn’t care for it since he now avoided to use the Force when not really needed… But, Han! The man couldn’t ever conceal his natural charisma and dashing appearance! Which despite the years, remained his best friend’s trademark. Han was once described by Corran Horn as “hard to forget”, and Luke couldn’t agree more. Back in the day, when he was only a wet-behind-the-ears teenage farm boy, the Corellian had made a deep impression on him. He’d wanted to be like Han! As Luke grew older, that first impression waned, as he matured and came into his own; then that blind admiration for his dear friend turned into deep respect and recognition.

    Grabbing the first set of clothes that looked civilian enough to him, Luke got changed. He wasn’t sure about leaving his lightsaber behind… Then he remembered that just recently Mara had given him a certain compact hard leather case, that he’d been thoughtful enough to pack. She had spoken of its convenience to conceal a lightsaber from prying eyes, and that it would comfortably fit onto the back of any utility belt when attached horizontally, leaving the weapon handy, just in case. He fastened the case to his belt just as Mara had told him and placed his weapon inside. With the hip-length dark-yellow jacket he put over his shirt, the case in question was unnoticeable. He turned and looked at himself in the mirror. For a short moment he gazed at his reflected self… That would have to do.

    It wasn’t long before Han was at Luke’s door. Their apartments were in the same complex, just a few storeys away. Han wore his usual blues and browns, his light-brown hair combed back. Mara had once chided them for being the scruffiest heroes in the whole Galaxy. They didn’t really care about being fashionable, they’ve always favoured practicality and comfort over anything else, and somehow, they always managed to look presentable.

    Outside their building, they boarded a speeder-cab driven by a grim looking Defel. Han gave the driver a few instructions and were on their way. Their drive headed downwards, to the lower levels in the city. After some twenty minutes, the cab stopped in front of a set of elevators, Han paid the credits and gestured Luke to get off. Han then led them into the first lift, pushed in some codes and slapped a transparent card against the holographic reader on the lift’s panel. “Invitation only.” The Corellian casually clarified. The lift’s doors opened, and both men stepped inside.

    Luke felt the lift dropping several floors down and wondered what was this all about. His friend was certainly going through a lot of trouble to reach this place. When the doors opened again, they stepped out into a festive, cacophonous environment. The streets were full of activity, exhilarated sentient beings of all species walked around the perimeter, plenty of street vendors offered their merchandise, and numerous establishments invited their clientele to enter in several languages. The ever-present bright artificial lights cast moving, active shadows around them. All sorts of entertainment seemed to be offered here. It was a Pentaday night, and it was common for inhabitants of Coruscant to largely indulge themselves over their weekends. Luke had been in the planet’s lower levels before, conducting critical intel searches and knew that places in the lower levels were dangerous and should be avoided… but this was his first visit to Level 24… and it was like nothing he’d ever seen before! More out of habit than anything else, he did a quick scan with the Force, sensing no danger. Every sentient being in the crowd had just one intent in their minds: to absolutely enjoy themselves. The level reminded him of some rough spots like Mos Eisley or Nar Shaddaa, but with a lot more excess and a lot more flair.

    They walked through crowded streets, lined up by all kinds of nightclubs, spectacle centres, gambling parlours, eateries, cocktail lounges and the likes, opened 24/7. It seemed that every world in the Galaxy had some kind of representation. Several streets down, they finally stopped in front of an establishment bearing a big sign that read: “The Corellian Rover”. Luke couldn’t help but to notice the big grin plastered on Han’s face. The pub in the outside looked rustic and welcoming, but when they stepped inside, its prior agrestic appearance took a whole different level. The bar, the stools and chairs, were all made of dark Corellian hardwood. The small tables had thick, solid tops made of some type of granite, surely also Corellian. Wooden panels covered sections on the walls and ceilings. The colours were rich and dark. Every decoration had that distinctive craftsmanship of its proud origins. Even the floors were covered in rustic hardwood, splashed by the occasional poured-over drink, to which small, discrete cleaning-droids rushed to mop up, gliding swiftly amongst the patrons. The sound of song-based music and multiple conversations muffling one another hang in the air. The lights occasionally unveiling the thick smoke of cigarras. Large mirrors were placed on the wall behind the main bar. Against this wall a large number of bottles filled with colourful liquids covered the shelves, sparkling vividly when the soft lights shone against them. The establishment seemed to take pride in offering the best Corellian libations within the Core Worlds, and by the number of displayed bottles it seemed that they had taken their motto very seriously. Luke was certain that most items were surely smuggled onto the planet, but all the risks seemed worth it when the whole ambience invited patrons to relax, laugh and enjoy themselves; and most importantly: to spend their credits.

    The place was packed, but after some display of the infallible Solo Charm, soon enough the hostess showed them to their table. Han felt elated by the authentic atmosphere the place irradiated. Just before sitting down, he reflexively breathed in the smells of his home-world’s pub grub, tart ales and aromatic wines, feeling a bit nostalgic and homesick for Corellia. Luke picked up his friend’s sentiment through the Force and felt happy to be there with him tonight.

    “Is this the trendiest, hottest place in town?” Luke teased.

    “Wedge and Corran told me about this place.” Han answered with excitement, “I’ve wanted to come and check it out for a while. Remember I’m the black-nerf in the family!” He finished with a playful wink.

    ‘Leave it to the “Coruscanti Corellian Clan” to find the best places to go on a drinking binge’, was Luke’s amused thought.

    Han studied the menu thoroughly and ordered food and drinks for both, reassuring Luke that he’d like what he’d just asked for. When the order arrived, Luke promptly favoured solids over liquids. He was starving! His overdrive metabolism always urged him to consume many calories. Long ago he’d guessed it had something to do with the amount of energy he spent channelling the Force and his body needed to be nourished duly. Han regularly teased Luke about the amount of food he was able to consume, ’It would be cheaper to feed the whole 501st!’ Han would happily mock him. Both men made cheerful conversation over their meal, talking about inconsequential, every-day things. After a toothsome feast their empty plates were taken away and replaced by a unique arrangement of drinks. Han always favoured brands from his home planet, and if this was an establishment that alleged on being genuinely Corellian, then he was determined to validate the authenticity of those claims, as he deemed his duty to do a full tasting of their alcohol reserves.

    As they chatted on, movement towards their side of the room caught Han’s attention. Two attractive looking females approached their table. One long-legged blonde human and a beautiful turquoise-skinned Twi’lek stood squarely in front of Luke.

    The first girl alluringly asked, “Can I buy you a drink?”

    Han looked at the unaware Jedi with amusement. Even though he kept his signature boyish looks, with age the Kid had picked up a kind of sexiness that females found very attractive. If he’d only made up his mind!

    Luke turned and looked up at the lovely owner of that invitation. The awkwardness of interacting with members of the opposite sex had left him a long time ago. This was not the kind of distraction he was looking for tonight, casual flings were not part of his life anymore. Back in his day as a green rebel pilot he’d had his share. “Uhm… No… thank you.” His tone was kind and polite, but the meaning behind it leaving no room for negotiation.

    The other girl turned to Han. “What about you? Handsome flyboy.” She invited, while appraising the ex-smuggler’s good looks.

    “No, thanks sweetheart. I’m already taken.” He courtly refused. Han adored Leia and had always been faithful.

    Both girls looked at each other with a bewildered expression, it was apparent that they weren’t used to a negative. Then looked back and forth at the two men… bewilderment replaced by realization. Both giggled. Saying their goodbyes, the two happily walked away exchanging merry explanations.

    Surely, they had gotten the already taken part all wrong, Luke thought as he watched the two girls go, but he didn’t mind. Han must have picked up on his conclusions, when they looked back at each other both laughed wholeheartedly.

    Han took a swig of his drink, letting the cold, rich ale slid down his throat, then chided his brother-in-law, “You sure need to do a little bit more of flirting!”

    “Mmmh… I’m not into that right now.” Luke quickly stated.

    “Unless you’ve changed your mind and girls are not your type anymore…” Han offered, “We’d be cool with that, you know.” Referring to himself and Leia.

    Luke let out an uncomfortable little laugh and then answered carefully, “It’s not that… and I know it wouldn’t be a problem for you… or for me… It’s just…” he really hated this line of conversation, “I’ve got other things in my mind.”

    Han knew that Luke was dealing with a lot of things. “The Bakuran girl?” He asked.

    “Amongst other things…” Luke admitted, glad about changing the subject, but troubled about what his friend’s question now brought to his mind.

    “How old is she now?” Han tried to remember.

    “Five.”

    “That’s too young.” The Corellian sighed. “Wars leave a lot of orphans behind.” He knew of too many orphans… He’d been one himself, Luke and Leia too… He was now a father of three, and it pained him to think about something like that happening to his own beloved children.

    Luke nodded. “I’ve gone back only one time to see her, Han. I don’t want her to feel like I’ve abandoned her.” A hint of regret lingered in the younger man’s voice, “I wish I could do more.”

    Luke would never speak about it, but Han knew everything the Jedi had done for the little girl. Only he and Leia knew. After coming back from Bakura, Luke had told them everything. Following her mother’s wishes, Malinza had been legally put under Luke’s care. Gaeriel had wanted him to be her daughter’s tutor. That had come out as a shocking surprise to him. The Thanas family’s attorney had explained to him that, just before departing with the Bakuran Military Force, Gaeriel had made all the arrangements… ‘Just in case’, she had said. Sadly, her fears had come to realization. When faced with the prospect, Luke knew that he couldn’t properly care for a small child. Being the head of the New Jedi Order would have made that impossible, and the Academy certainly was not a place for Malinza. He only wanted to do what was best for the child. Then relatives who had loved her mother came forth, expressing their wishes to keep the girl. So, she had stayed with them, who would look after her until she reached adulthood. In the end everything had worked out for the child’s best interests. Malinza’s parents had been prominent figures in the Bakuran Government and the Military, and everything they had left behind had been put in a trust fund under her name. But Luke had wanted to leave all that untouched until Malinza’s coming of age, so she could have a solid head start when she emancipated. In the meantime, as her legal tutor, he’d done arrangements for financial support, and Solo also knew that everything was coming out of Luke’s own pocket. Knowing that his line of work was not very safe, he’d even gone as far as ensuring that, if something ever happened to him, Malinza would have everything she needed.

    “She knows she’s not alone.” Han interjected, “We do what we can, Kid. And you’ve done right.”

    Luke pressed his lips in a forced smile and nodded, but the sad look in his clear blue eyes gave away everything.

    “Your sister is worried about you.” The older man severely added.

    Luke gave a sigh, “Isn’t she always?”

    Taking one more swig of his tart drink, after gulping it down Han continued, “She told me that you’re “shielding” too much. Those were her exact words. I know you have this Force-thing going on between the two of you, and she’s been feeling your weirdness… You know what I mean.”

    “I’ve already told her that she has nothing to be worried about. I’m fine!” Leia was always very protective of him. As the Chief of State of the New Republic she led a very busy life, full of stressful situations, so he tried not to give her anymore things to be worried about. But to know that despite his efforts his sister was still worried about him made him feel double worried.

    “I’m worried about you too, Luke.” Han’s tone sounded concerned. He had used his name this time, so this meant business. Over the past year the Kid had been mourning… but he couldn’t mourn forever, could he? “How are you really coping after Centerpoint?” he finally asked.

    Luke gave a snort, “As good as it can be…” He then let out a deep sigh, running the fingers of one hand through his dirty-blonde hair he sat back on his chair. The events during the battle at Centerpoint had certainly taken a hit at him. Gaeriel had died there, and it had been a painful blow… more painful than he would’ve ever expected. She’d been a love from his past, but their re-encounter had stirred unacknowledged feelings they still had for each other, feelings that had remained despite the fourteen years passed. But the elation had lasted only too little, the aftermath of the battle had seen to that.

    “Mmmh,” Han asserted knowingly. “Tell me… As good as in: I’m getting over things and making myself ready to move on… Or as in: I’ve forsaken all love-relationships from my life and I plan to live the rest of my existence being a loner.”

    Luke smiled timidly. It did not matter he was not Force sensitive, his brother-in-law could read him like an open book… and he couldn’t lie to Han, “I guess a little bit of the later…” he admitted.

    “You’re really out of your mind Kid.” Han scolded the younger man.

    “Han, I don’t have time for romantic relationships!” the blonde man explained, while running a hand through his face in exasperation, “I don’t want to complicate my life… Is complicated enough as it is! I’m up to my neck with Senate hearings every other month, always busy with the Academy, rebuilding the Jedi Order is more than a full-time job, and I already have enough people around to worry about for a lifetime!”

    The Corellian tried to be understanding towards his friend, still… “I know you’ve got a full load of responsibilities on your shoulders Luke, and that which was bestowed upon you by those crazy wizards is no small deal… And you’ve done great at it! Believe me.” Han made a pause, “Still, I cannot help but to think that a love interest, a partner, could give you something you’re missing, something to lighten the load. You’re human! Find a nice girl!” A devilish smirk crossed his face, “They’re obviously not running away from you!” he finished, gesturing towards the direction in which the two ladies who’d they’d just refused had left.

    “They’re better off staying away from me.” Luke stated, a little too bitterly.

    The former smuggler made a face of annoyance. Leaning towards his friend he slightly threatened, “I swear I’m gonna hit you. Hard! And pound all that shavit nonsense out of your head!”

    “You can try…” Luke scoffed with a little bit of challenge in his voice.

    Han raised his eyebrows, “Aren’t we getting cocky now?”

    “I’m a grown man. I know what I’m doing.”

    They drank in silence. The atmosphere turning a bit awkward. Han knew that he had to press things further, before Luke dismissed him completely and closed up harder than a durasteel safe. He also knew that no matter how much he managed to irritate his obstinate friend, the later would never shut him off completely. They never stayed angry at each other for long. After all those years around each other, they had conjured this dynamic between the two of them. A dynamic first born out of true camaraderie, later evolved into absolute trust and undeniable friendship, and finally grown into genuine brother’s love. He’d watched Luke grow up and turn into a man for pettin’s sake! And growing up was something both had been forced to do very quickly.

    Han reengaged their conversation. “What about Mara?” the Corellian asked casually, “You seem to enjoy her company.” By looking at the way Luke shifted in his seat, Han knew he had hit home.

    “What about her?” Luke deflected the question.

    “Well, you tell me.” Han was not letting the Kid off the hook that easily.

    “We’re good friends. That’s all.” the Jedi stated.

    “Right, friends.” Han smirked, a glitter of mischief in his hazel eyes.

    Han knew that Luke was very protective of his privacy and went to great lengths to keep his private life private, even from him sometimes; but he also knew that Luke would never lie to him. The Kid didn’t have it in him! So, if he had to make him squirm a little to help him get out of under his imaginary rock, he’d be happy to oblige.

    Luke shot a disgruntled look at his friend, “We get along just fine. The only problem we have is our disagreement about developing her abilities in the Force further.”

    “Then stop harassing her with Jedi training!” Han chastised.

    “She’s very talented, Han. She’d made a powerful Jedi! There’s too few of us as it is. She can’t walk away from her gift!” Luke addressed passionately.

    “And the all-powerful, all-knowing Luke Skywalker knows what is best for each and every one, doesn’t he?” The Corellian dryly countered.

    “No! Of course not!... It’s not like that.” The Jedi bluntly clarified. In a more calmed tone he added, “It’s just… it feels like such a waste.” He finished with a hint of disappointment.

    “A waste?” asked Han incredulously. A disgusted look blazed in his eyes. “And if Mara doesn’t become a Jedi… That means that you will look down on her? That she’s beneath you? That she’s not worth your time?”

    Shocked horror showed in Luke’s face, “Of course not!” he rebutted indignantly, “I would never think or do that! Jedi or not, she’s a great, accomplished woman on her own right! She’s amazing! She’s worth more than any number of Jedi I could gather!” He fervently defended her, angry at his friend’s insinuations.

    The Kid had just taken the bait.

    Han laid back on his chair, giving the other a little too smug of a look, “There! See? You really like her.” Then immediately dismissed in irritation, “You’re just making excuses.”

    Han had set him up, and Luke knew he had fallen right into it. He felt a bit embarrassed by his overlook. It was obvious that his feelings for Mara run deeper than what he was willing to admit, and Han had seen right through it. “We seem to disagree and argue most of the time.” Luke tried to regain control of the situation, “We fight a lot… over menial things. That’s not a good sign for a promising relationship.”

    After gulping down the last of his drink, a roguish smile appeared in Han’s lips, “One word: Foreplay!” he triumphally declared, dropping his glass on the table.

    “What? No!!” Luke complained defensively.

    “Hell yes!” The Corellian slapped one hand on the table, “I could cut through all that sexual tension between the two of you with a vibroblade!”

    Luke covered his face in one hand.

    “Come on! Tell me you don’t find her attractive.” Han dared the other.

    Luke rolled his eyes. “Mara is a very beautiful woman, Han. Everybody can see that.”

    Han pressed things even further, “Then the real question here is: Is she beautiful enough for the Jedi Master?” he dared his friend.

    Mara’s beautiful face framed by a thick, wavy and soft mane of long red hair, popped in Luke’s head… Her graceful, slender figure… The smooth, pale skin… Those sparkling and intense green eyes… That perfect, inviting mouth… “I don’t wanna have this conversation.” Luke cut off, wishing Han would just drop the subject.

    “I’ve seen you!” Han let out, giving a smirk as if he had caught Luke doing something indecent, “How you look at her… How you behave when she’s around. It is very subtle, but I’ve noticed. I am your big brother after all.”

    Luke blushed, hard! He could tell were Han was getting at. Probably he was going to regret it, but he had to ask, “Subtle as in: You’ve had to pay REAL attention in order to notice… Or as in: Everybody has noticed but are too polite to bring up the subject.” He sheepishly inquired.

    Han made an over the top thoughtful gesture with his head, “Mmmm… Let me think… More of the later I guess.” He confessed, a mischievous twist on his lip.

    The Jedi blushed even harder.

    Han laughed at his friend’s flushed face, “Admit it! You’re lost without her!”

    Calmly Luke recomposed himself. He looked at the drink before him for a while… the fingers of his hands fidgeting a little… Why keep denying it? When he felt ready, he looked up to meet the gaze of his friend sitting across the table. “What do you want me to admit, Han?” he quietly, slowly addressed, “That I want her? That I’ve wanted her since the first day I laid eyes on her? That I want more of her?” For a brief moment he felt his heart get caught in his throat, “Well, I do.” He confessed.

    This was one mean confession, Han noted. A confession that must have taken Luke a whole lot of effort to make. Still, he was not going to let him drown in his self-inferred victimhood. “You really buy into these tortured hero act of yours.” Han handed him sarcastically.

    Luke didn’t let his friend’s comment affect him. He had finally broken down his reluctant barrier, and the words seemed to come out easily now. “The thing is… I truly don’t know where I stand were Mara is concerned.” He honestly didn’t know! It’d been excruciatingly painful to find that no matter what he did, he couldn’t reach her. Something always seemed to stand between them. They’d been dancing around each other for almost ten years and he’d done nothing about it. Nothing! But reproving himself now was not helpful and was inconsequential anyways. He’d opened-up enough for the night. His demeanour rapidly changed to his well-practiced Jedi coolness, and soon enough it replaced his prior feelings of unease, “What I feel towards her is of no importance… Mara’s never given me any reason to think that she’s interested in me… Not like that anyways… and I don’t plan on finding out. We’re fine like this.” Why break something that worked so well?

    “You are being a Tip-yip!” Han challenged.

    Han was calling him a coward, and probably he was right. Maybe he was being one. Luke felt a pang in his chest running deep into him… Maybe if he had the courage, he would even admit that it was very likely that he was already in love with Mara… even though he was still mourning Gaeriel… His love life was just so… complicated! Then another detail came to his mind, a detail that had been nipping at him for a long time. “What about Lando?” Calrissian and Mara had been in an on and off relationship over the years, or at least that’s what he’d been told. The red-head had never spoken about it, and he’d never had the backbone to ask.

    Waving a hand, Han dismissed his friend’s concern. “He’s with Tendra now! Engaged, and up to his pompous neck with wedding plans. Busy planning to set up house in some fancy enough neighbourhood to accommodate his overgrown ego.” Han mocked. “He won’t mind.”

    Subtlety was certainly not a Solo trait. Even though Han was always too blunt when expressing his thoughts, Luke was convinced that his intentions were good; and he appreciated what his friend was trying to do for him. “Look, Han… I know you mean well… I promise I’ll think about what you’ve told me.”

    “Don’t promise me that!” Han complained, distasted at his friend’s apparent lack of commitment. “Promise me you’ll pay attention and do something about what you feel for Mara!” he persistently clarified. “And forgive me for bringing this up now but leaving your feelings unacknowledged is not good for you. Just look at what’s happening right now to you!” Han knew that bringing up Gaeriel again was perhaps taking it too far. But for the mother of all meteors! They’ve already given the Kid enough space!

    Luke winced at his friend’s remark. Yes, Han was right, it was not good for him to live with unaddressed feelings. Just looking at what had happened with Gaeriel gave enough evidence on that. Hadn’t he learnt anything?! Han and Leia always had his best interest in mind, perhaps he should listen to them. Maybe if he dared to go beyond his emotional freeze… What did he have to lose? Wasn’t his friendship with Mara strong enough to survive a miscalculation on his part? After all, they both were sensible adults. But if it came down to it… Could he overcome rejection? That was something he really dreaded. And what if she said yes? ‘Here I go again! If, if, if…’ NO! No more what ifs! He’d done enough of that! There was only one way to find out… and it was time to do something about it. “I promise I’ll pay attention… and will think about the best way to act upon my feelings.” He told Han, and this was as far as he dared to go for now.

    That wasn’t exactly what Han wanted to hear, but for now it was good enough. It really was a breakthrough for his headstrong bud. So, he’ll take it. “Let’s drink to that!” Han cheerfully encouraged. “Chakta sai kae!” he let out the old Corellian toast.

    Chakta sai kae, Han.” Luke gave his brother-in-law a frank smile, “Let’s just enjoy the evening.”

    Both their glasses met with a cheerful clink.

    Enjoying the evening turned out to be a little bit wilder than Luke and Han had expected. After several rounds of drinks, Luke could tell that Han was clearly ahead of him. Everyone in the alehouse seemed to be having a great time and he had to admit that he was too, time spent alone with Han was scarce and it was always fun. Suddenly, crude vociferations rose above the music and other sounds in the pub. At the far end of the establishment a group of mixed aliens were having and argument. Three Devaronians and four Zabraks, Luke noted.

    The Zabraks sat at their table, while the Devaronians loomed standing over them. One of the first argued heatedly with one of the later, while the rest of them watched tensely. Although their body language gave out that they were all decidedly very drunk. Luke could sense anger and indignation in their energy, and plain mean ill intention from one group towards the other, and back. ‘Things can get out of hand very quickly’, he thought. ‘Good thing that weapons are not allowed in this Level.’ He’d let that thought out too quickly.

    Out of nowhere, the talking Devaronian flung a swing to the Zabrak’s face to which he was talking to, knocking him off his chair, the latter landing unceremoniously on his back. The rest of the seated Zabraks watched with stupefaction, but soon enough anger replaced their astonishment; in no time they took justice in their own hands and jumped on their attackers. The Devaronians didn’t waste time and soon enough did their own comeback. Using their fists at first, and later any bottle, glass, dishware or object they deemed a suitable weapon, both sides fought furiously. Zabraks were well known for their agility and quick reflexes, but Devaronians were strong and resilient; things could go any direction.

    “I’m stopping this!” Luke severely stated, standing up and giving a few steps towards the fight.

    Han quickly stood up and stopped him. Putting one hand over Luke’s shoulder he squeezed firmly, “Relax, Luke. Without a brawl, it wouldn’t be an authentic Corellian night out!” he declared giving a lopsided grin.

    Luke was about to criticize his friend’s idea on authenticity, but the words didn’t leave his mouth. Soon enough, the fight escalated into dangerous ground. Members of both parties reached inside their jackets and pockets producing mean blasters in their hands, and without hesitation started shooting at one another.

    Then, hell broke loose.

    Everything unfolded very quickly. As each fighting party found cover, blaster bolts flew across the room, getting people dangerously trapped in the crossed fire. Everybody in the place took cover under the tables, which were made of thick slabs of Corellian granite. Han and Luke reacted swiftly. Although they were no longer part of the Armed Forces, their ingrained military training kicked in reflexively, giving them the time reaction of their soldiering days. Both men took cover on reflex. With a quick push of his boot, Han tipped the heavy table turning it into a rudimentary shield, behind which they found protection. Both squatted behind the makeshift barrier. Blaster bolts ricocheted everywhere. When Han looked around, the rest of the patrons had already dived under the tables, bellowing and screaming in panic.

    “I read the no-blasters sign at the entrance.” Luke let out dryly.

    “I guess not all patrons can read Basic.” Han countered sarcastically, wishing he had smuggled in his own blaster. He considered that their lives had not become as peaceful as he wanted to believe.

    “How did they manage to go through the door scanners undetected?” Luke wondered.

    “The energy packs in their blasters must have some sort of buffer.” Han deducted, “They are rare and highly illegal, but you can get your hands on one if you’ve got the credits… And the scanners in places like this are not military grade.”

    “Those are Zabraks and Devaronians, Han. You sure know about their legendary grudge.” The Jedi offered.

    Yes, these two particular species hated each other’s guts! They were both horned humanoid species, and some anthropologists and ethologists believed that they shared a common ancestor. This belief didn’t set well amongst them, since they loathed the idea of being somehow related. They always argued about which species had come first, about their unique qualities that differentiated them from one another. Who were the strongest, the bravest, the best fighters, the best trackers… were topics of heated discussion. They’d go to great lengths to prove that they didn’t have anything in common. As far as to try and kill each other.

    'These stupid, jerk-asses, sons of banthas, and their eternal quarrels.’ Han thought in indignant anger. These sons of slorths were spoiling his night out and that he could not take! He made his count, then shot a look at his Jedi partner. “We’ve got 4G’s at 12 o’clock and 3G’s at 2.”

    Luke acknowledged. Slowly he shook his head at the irony of the situation. Here they were, having a night out, in a zero-weapons area… but trouble always seemed to find them. He was glad he’d followed his hunch and brought his weapon. Lightsabers were extremely rare weapons, dangerous to handle if you weren’t skilful and trained enough, and undetectable by any known scanner, even military grade ones. Slipping off his jacket, Luke got Han’s attention, and gave a meaningful look to his friend. “I’ve got my lightsaber on me.”

    A smug smile adorned the former smuggler’s lips, “Then I guess we should call off this party.”

    “You take 2 o’clock and I’ll take 12.” Luke proposed. Han acknowledged with a nod of his head. That meant Luke would take on the Zabraks and Han would take care of the Devaronians.

    Without delay, Luke took a powerful, graceful leap towards the nearest standing table at the centre of the room. Effortlessly his lean frame landed on top. Instantly he drew his weapon and with a snap-hiss its blade came into existence. With Jedi accuracy, he instinctively deflected several stray bolts, sending them upwards were these would securely smash into the ceiling. Han knew that Luke didn’t need to bother with revealing who he was, at the sight of the green blade, surely everyone in the place was aware of that by now. ‘So much for going incognito tonight’.

    “Stand down!” the Jedi commanded, “Put down your weapons! Now!”

    Under his cover, Han heard the shots stop. The humming of the lightsaber the only sound, its blade casting an eerie light. The Kid sure knew how to make an entrance. He also could sound menacing when he meant to. Hopefully this would be all that was needed to stop this mess. The hesitation in the alien’s demeanour was evident. This gave Han the moment he needed to act. It was now or never! Decidedly he came out of his cover, and cautiously slipped towards the Devaronians, unnoticed.

    Evidently, the aliens were already too drunk to appraise the seriousness of the situation. Just after a brief pause, the seven blasters turned and pointed towards Luke… then fired. The Jedi deflected every bolt with practiced skill, sending the deadly projectiles upwards were these wouldn’t hurt anyone. Distracted by their target, the boozed aliens didn’t notice Han moving towards them.

    Han tackled the first Devaronian, knocking him down with the full weight of his body. Han was a tall and strong man and he surely rose a few feet above any average Devaronian, but these were incredibly strong and sturdy. With his target pinned down under his weight, the Corellian knocked out and disarmed the orange-skinned alien. Quickly he took possession of the discarded weapon and turning onto his back he took a shot at the next Devaronian, aiming to his calf. The shot hit its target and made the pointy-eared alien howl in pain while skipping on one foot. Han moved quickly towards him, grabbed him by the protuberant horns in his head and pulled him down, sinking his knee onto the alien’s face, enough to put him out of combat; then kicking the weapon off the unconscious alien’s hand. Han shot again and missed the third horned alien as this alien made distance between them taking cover behind a near turned over table, returning fire. Han took cover behind a turned over armchair. Both contenders continued to shoot at each other whenever they had a chance.

    Noticing that Han was already on the Devaronians, Luke took on the Zabraks. He made the distance that separated him from the aliens with a Force enhanced jump, leaping towards the multi-horned aliens, who had found cover behind the bar while they continued shooting. Luke landed on top of the bar, looking down on the aliens behind it. In return they looked back up at him, yellow eyes wide with surprise. Not wanting to use deadly force, Luke disarmed the aliens with a Force pull, yanking their blasters off their hands. These were drunken aliens after all, but they didn’t seem to want to be intimidated that easily. Zabraks were considered to be proud, defiant and even arrogant, and had a very bloodthirsty reputation. Quickly the four Zabraks drew menacing vibroblades and stood up, moving towards the Jedi. Reacting quickly, Luke back-flipped landing in front of the bar, as the angry aliens made his way from behind it. “We don’t have to fight,” Luke warned, “Just stand down and I’ll let you go.”

    On the other side of the room, Han and the last standing Devaronian exchanged shots. The piece of furniture behind which Han had taken cover was bulky enough to give some protection to his rangy form, but the material was not solid enough to upstand the scorching force of blaster fire, and Han’s barrier was gaining holes by the second! A sparkle on the ground caught Han’s attention. He noticed a silvery tray dropped on the floor, and on its polished surface saw the reflection of a large chandelier that hang over his opponent’s head. He had one shot… and he took it. The chandelier came crashing down spectacularly atop the unsuspecting alien. The Devaronian crawled sluggishly from underneath the large ceiling fixture. Han got to him just in time, his knuckles hitting hard on the dazed alien’s temple, knocking him out. “I guess you and your buddies just got yourselves kicked out of this place for good.” He scornfully mumbled.

    Han’s side of the fight was over.

    Luke didn’t want to kill his opponents. The fact that he could do it, didn’t mean that he had to. There were four of them all right, and these were clearly pissed off and had very ill intentions towards him, but there was no need for bloodshed tonight. Disarm and disable, that’s all he needed to do. The menacing Zabraks stood at an enough distance to avoid the humming blade of green light, looking piercingly at the Jedi, but did not show any sign to attack or retreat. It was obvious they had reached a standstill. He’d have to handle this in a different way. Turning off his lightsaber and clipping it to his belt, Luke prepared in a combat stance. Immediately the aliens rushed towards him, screaming in anger, vibroblades in hand. Drawing upon the Force to enhance his abilities and strength, Luke confronted his four opponents. Zabraks were very agile and quick, and although the adrenaline spike had already taken care of any residual intoxication produced by their too many drinks, they could not compete with Jedi reflexes. The combination of his military training, with his Jedi skills and some moves Mara Jade had taught him, helped Luke to become very proficient at hand to hand combat, and it took little time to disable his foolhardy adversaries. He moved swiftly and efficiently, doing damage with each blow.

    The first Zabrak came down immediately after it all started, he got disarmed when the Jedi grabbed the alien by one wrist and twisted it until it cracked – the vibroblade dropping harmlessly on the floor. Using the inertia of the movement the Jedi flipped the alien over making him land on his back, staying on the ground squirming and howling in pain for his fractured hand. The second alien came down few seconds later, when he got a powerful blow from the Jedi’s heel right on his left knee that also made a crack, followed by an accurate elbow blow, square on the face that knocked him down; at the same time Luke dodged two menacing blades that swished too close to his face and abdomen. Immediately after the Jedi kicked one of them away with a powerful side kick, giving himself time to finish off his third foe, who came down under a flurry of quick punches to his torso that ended on a throat strike. With the air collapsing out of his pipes Zabrak-number-three went down and stayed down. Finally, the fourth one got a powerful spinning jump kick in the head and down he went too. All foes neutralized in moments.

    In a few minutes, the fray was over. The rowdy bunch laid knocked out on the floor. The only casualties of the night.

    Han met Luke in the centre of the room. When he looked around, he noticed the place was kind of a mess. “So much for Corellian authenticity… It’s a real pity.” he mumbled with a hint of disappointment. He then nodded towards the fallen aliens, “Thanks to our blaster-happy friends here.” Luke gave him a faint smile in sympathy.

    Silence hang over the establishment… When the patrons realized what had really happened, in unison all started cheering at their saviours, overjoyed by the idea of taking back home one juicy anecdote to tell friends and family about their weekend escapades to Level 24. Short moments later the Coruscant Security Force arrived at the scene and took custody of the troublemakers. Happy enough with taking the testimony of the two war heroes, the CSF retreated shortly after, leaving the place clear of thugs so everybody could go back to their fun. The owner of The Corellian Rover didn’t let his benefactors leave and in gratitude provisioned them with even more food and drinks to celebrate their victory. Everyone seemed to want to give their thanks, invite a few more drinks to the flabbergasted heroes, and join in the celebration. The vitality of the night spiked up with more drinks and more music, until much later it unwound into singing along to Traditional Corellian songs. When it was finally time to leave, Han came out of the pub still chanting some of the old tunes.

    The sun was starting to rise by the time Han and Luke made it to their apartment complex. Han was in no condition to make it home on his own. The Jedi patiently escorted him, gently leading the merry Corellian by one arm.

    “Kid, I have to tell you that this was a great night!” Han exclaimed, slurring his words a little bit. His voice a bit loud, unable to contain his genuine joy. “It’s been a long time since I had this much fun!”

    “Me too, Han.” Luke answered sincerely, keeping his voice low. They didn’t need to wake up the neighbours! “And honestly, I don’t think I ever had this much to drink in my whole life!” the Jedi declared lowering his voice even more, “Not even when hanging out with the Rogues!” he finished unable to contain his laughter, while at the same time he tried to keep his taller friend walking in a straight line.

    Han laughed enthusiastically, but when realizing he was being too loud, he then tried to imitate his Jedi friend by lowering his own voice. Rogue Squadron pilots’ temerity was well known to appear in the heat of any battle, and as well as in the deep corners of any cantina in the Galaxy, he conceded. Still slurring he added, “My friend… When drinking is concerned… The Rogues are the real deal!”

    Luke laughed even harder when hearing Han’s remark, and couldn’t help but to think of Wedge, Janson, Hobbie and the rest of his friends in Rogue Squadron. That elite X-Wing fighter squadron he had founded and commanded for several years. Those had been good years… A bunch of youngsters living in the edge, at full speed… During a time charged with peril and uncertainty, but permeated with camaraderie, honoured duty and blind trust. He felt grateful he had survived through it all, and that the remaining members were his friends for life.

    After what had seemed a long, winding route, finally they reached Han’s apartment. Just at the door the older man turned to his friend, “Thanks Kid, for walking me to my door… Making sure I made it safe.” The ex-smuggler sounded tired.

    “Thank you, Han… for everything.” Luke gave his friend an affectionate hug. Han returned the hug, then started to lean a bit too heavily on Luke’s shoulders. When feeling the dead weight of his friend on him, the Jedi grabbed him by the arms and pushed up and back towards the door, “Han, don’t fall asleep!” he urged.

    “What?... Oh!... Yes, sure… I’m not falling asleep!” Han slurred casually.

    The Corellian had to try a few times before entering the correct code in the door’s key panel. When the door finally opened, and Han went through his door, Luke turned around and headed to his own place.

    After that night’s overindulgences he had to admit that he felt a bit tippy. He realized that it was not only Han who was in an inconvenient state. Being a Jedi gave him lots of stamina, but exactly in which moment in the evening had he lost track of his drinking? Now that remained a real mystery to him. He wasn’t even sure if he had enough clarity of mind to try and flush the excess alcohol out of his system using the Force. After a brief and dizzy deliberation, he decided that it’d have to go out the natural way.

    Despite his light-headedness, Luke could tell that something inside of him had shifted… Something he could not quite pinpoint. Surely the alcohol levels in his blood had a lot to do with his inability to think straight… but there was no doubt in his mind that something had changed. That night had been cathartic.

    When the Jedi reached his apartment, he went in stumbling. R2-D2 beeped thoughtfully when appreciating his master’s state. Luke undressed on his way to the bedroom, leaving a trail of clothes behind him. Taking his boots off while making his way through had proved tricky, but he made it to the bedroom in one piece. He dropped heavily on the bed, sprawled and face down. Sleep taking him quickly.

    That night out had given him way more of what he’d bargained for.



    THE END​
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
    ThisIsMe1138 and Findswoman like this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    What a wonderful, wonderful debut! Both Han and Luke are in character and you've gotten Luke's feelings for Gaeriel and Mara so on the mark! Yes and Han would know about incessant snarking being a cover for romantic interest. Been there, done that. [face_laugh] [face_love] =D= Thank you for sharing this. :)
     
  3. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Hi @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha !
    Thank YOU for reading :)

    I love Luke Skywalker and I have always felt that there's is great depth in him. Exploring this depth is what drives my writing. I like to explore all those little things that are left unexplained or on the surface in Legends. And I definitely love his relationship with Mara, and how he interacts with Han and Leia.
    It was a lot of fun to write this peace, imagining Han trying to push Luke out of his mourning cocoon and address what he's really feeling. I love Han too. He's just awesome! The best friend one can get.

    Loved your comment, it means a lot.

    Jâd.
     
  4. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    I really enjoyed this.
     
  5. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    I'm glad you did @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 :)
    Thank you for reading.
     
  6. ThisIsMe1138

    ThisIsMe1138 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 26, 2018
    [face_laugh] Wow I loved this! Definitely in character, and while I don't know a whole lot about Legends, I loved the whole part with Luke talking about Mara ;) I'm looking forward to reading more of your fics! :D
     
  7. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Thank YOU for reading @ThisIsMe1138 !
    I'm very glad that you liked it. As a fellow FanFic Writer, I feel happy that you read my story. I will look for yours and read them too ;)
     
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Definitely a very memorable night out for these two! :cool: I loved their banter and conversation all the way through—Han is just about the best advisor Luke could ever have in terms of working out his feelings for Mara and identifying them as, y'know, actual love. Great job with the detailed and immersive setting descriptions, right down to those granite-topped tables at The Corellian Rover—which turned out to be a real lifesaver to our two friends. And I must say I'm glad Luke thought to smuggle in his lightsaber; his Jedi intuition was not wrong on that score! I can totally see him having a big appetite to maintain all his strength in the Force, too; that was a fun touch. Thanks for sharing this story—I'm very glad I found it here, and I'm looking forward to dipping into "Provenance," too! :)
     
  9. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Hi @Findswoman

    I’m glad that you liked this one-shot. This is actually one chapter in “Provenance”, chapter number seven if I remember correctly.
    Yes, I love it that Luke always trusts his Jedi intuition, and Han is the best friend one can have! I think Luke and Han balance each other perfectly in their friendship, although both can be very reckless; then they have Leia to pull the reins on both of them LOL [face_laugh] If you want to know what happens the day after their little adventure, you’ll find all about it in "Provenance". ;)

    Looking forward for you to jump into "Provenance" and letting me know your thoughts on it. I hope that you enjoy it just as much as I’m enjoying writing it. [face_dancing]

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. I love comments! These mean so much to me. You’ve made my day! [face_love]

    :yoda: