Title: Counselling Author: Annia Piet Timeframe: Sometime after Union (probably a bit AU) Characters: Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, Notes: Written for the L/M discussion thread Februrary challenge. I got the phrase “My husband and I have never considered divorce... murder sometimes, but never divorce.” ____ “My husband and I have never considered divorce... murder sometimes, but never divorce.” The room froze in stunned silence at the statement. Luke Skywalker shifted uncomfortably at one end of the couch while Mara Jade Skywalker just stared hard and unrepentant at the counsellor before them. Another long moment stretched on before Luke finally shifted again and said “The murder bit was a long time ago, Mara. Long before we even married.” She shot him a venomous look. “Are you so sure of that, Skywalker?” Luke looked down at his hands and then up at the counsellor pleadingly. The counsellor sighed. “It’s not an unreasonable thing to consider,” she suggested gently. “Divorce or separation, I mean. To at least see how you feel about the idea.” She glanced down at her notes. “You decided to marry after only a very short courtship. The relationship has not progressed… smoothly. There seem to be a great number of compatibility issues you had not the chance to negotiate through before deciding to make a commitment. It would be understandable if you found yourself… reconsidering… now.” “You don’t understand,” Mara spat. “We can’t get divorced. It wouldn’t do us any good.” “How do you mean?” asked the counsellor gently, genuinely confused. She had spent weeks with the couple, working through the minutiae of all the issues causing trouble to their marriage. On everything ranging from household arrangements, what they ate for dinner, how often they dined with Luke’s family, right up to the way the Jedi Order was run and whether they would have children, these two could not find agreement on anything. With no sign of resolution, it seemed the right time to start discussing their options going forward. It was surprising that Jade Skywalker would so vehemently refuse to consider the most obvious one. “We’re stuck with each other.” Mara bit out. The counsellor looked quizzically to Luke. “Do you feel this way too?” The unhappy man squirmed in a quite un-Jedi like way. “It’s not a case of how we feel, exactly. It’s just how things are. We have this bond.” “Bond?” “Yes. Um. It’s a Force thing.” She raised her eyes sceptically towards him. Of course she hypothetically understood the idea of the Force and that Jedi could do things with it, but she couldn’t begin to think what it could have to do with a relationship. “We have this bond through the Force,” he continued. “We’re connected together through it. So divorce wouldn’t really make much difference. As Mara says, we’re stuck with each other.” “A Force bond? How does that even happen?” The counsellor felt thrown. It wasn’t a situation she’d ever dealt with before. “Well, it was when we were on Nirauan…” Several hours later, the Skywalkers escaped the marriage counsellor’s office. The woman had made them go back through every step of their relationship again, this time including the Force aspects they had left out before. Then she had made them delve further back to when they first met and dug over all that again, right down to the impulse the Emperor had planted in Mara’s head. The woman had then wanted to delve further, into Luke’s family relationships and Mara’s childhood. That was when Mara finally had enough, and walked out, murder on her face. Luke had vaguely heard the counsellor saying something about “Finally making some progress,” and “looking forward to the next session” as he rushed out of the room after his wife. He found her out the front of the office building, leaning against the railings on the edge of the broad footway and staring out at Coruscant all around them. Pedestrians bustled around him as he worked his way through to join her. He leaned against the rail next to her, leaving a reasonable space between them, and cautiously reached out to her with the Force. The walls that had been there for months slammed up against his senses and he withdrew gently, feeling all the time the gentle tug of their bond. It would never go, but now that tug was a pull of pain, a reminder of how much they had failed. How much he had failed. “Keep out of my head, Luke,” she muttered in response, no venom or anger now, just quiet resignation. It made him long for when she had used other names; farmboy, Jedi, Skywalker. The use of his first name meant she really meant it. He leant forward, head on the rail, and sighed deeply. “I’m sorry,” he breathed. “Sorry for which thing in particular? We’ve amassed a very long list.” She stared ahead, refusing to look at him. “I’m sorry for the whole damned mess.” “Sorry this ever happened to us? Figures.” He stared at her, startled. “No. That’s not what I meant. I could never be sorry about us. About the connection we have, the bond between us!” “Well I am!” The truth of her words hit through their bond and cut at his soul. “I wish this damned bond had never happened. Every time we fight, every little disagreement, I feel your… damned disappointment through it. You project through it Luke, and every time I feel your disappointment in me, a small part of me dies.” She looked at him directly then, face ravaged with pain and truth. “I loved you for so long, even when I couldn’t admit it to myself, but when it finally happened, we couldn’t just have something normal, could we? It had to be bound up in the Force, and fate and destiny and all that other bull. I longed for something normal, with you Luke. But we can’t even have a simple argument, like normal people do, without all these complications!” Luke was horrified. “Is that why you’ve withdrawn from me, bit by bit, all these months? I was hurting you?” She looked away from him again. “Yes.” “You know I would never want to hurt you, Mara.” “And yet you’re still doing it, even now. I can feel all your hurt, and disappointment, even now with all my barriers up.” “My disappointment? Mara, I… I have never been disappointed in you. I’ve been disappointed in myself, in our situation, but I could never be disappointed in you.” “Oh.” Silence fell between them. Luke felt an urge to reach out to her through their bond again, to show her the truth of it, to show her how much he loved her. But she was asking him not to do that, and so he withdrew his feelings inside himself, trying to stop them seep through their bond to her. Her posture changed, as though suddenly lightened, and she glanced at him quizzically. He reached out a hand and placed it tentitively on hers. “Mara…” She pinned him with her striking eyes. “Oh shut up, Skywalker, and just kiss me. Like a real person.” He stared at her incredulously, not quite understanding what she was asking, then she took matters into her own hands. Her hand slid round his neck and pulled his face close to hers. Familiar lips touched to his hungrily. From habit he started to reach to her through their bond, only to feel a sharp reproval. He withdrew his force sense back into himself and concentrated instead on how it felt – the sensation of lips on lips, tongue on tongue, heart next to heart. It felt like kissing her again for the first time. They eventually parted, foreheads leaning together for a long time while they took deep, steadying breaths. “I need you, farmboy,” Mara breathed. “I need you, and I love you, but I need space too. All these other details…” she waved a hand. “…are just minutiae. We can work them out. But the spaces between us are important too.” Luke nodded silently. Mara looked up at him. “Let’s go home, Luke.” Later that night, she let her barriers down and let him in again for the first time in months. And it was worth the wait.