Title: In Sickness and In Health Characters: Luke and Mara Timeframe: During Vector Prime, at the beginning of NJO Summary: Mara's battle with the Coomb Spores, from three Points of View. A/N: This came from a post on Tumblr with various story starters, and a friend of mine asked me to write the "Space Cancer" one. About how Mara's illness made her pull away from Luke, and maybe a bit of why. So this is what came out! Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading!! Also, thanks to Briannakin for coaxing me out of hiding on this one EDIT: This series is now complete. It is three vignettes revolving around Mara's illness during NJO. The first is from her perspective (in the 2nd person POV). The second is Luke's thoughts and musings on her disease (in the 1st person POV). The third (and final) one is a third-person POV retelling of the events after she uses Vergere's tears. You stare out the viewport, the silence howling at you. People think that silence is an absence, a lack, a vacuum. Like space. But that couldn’t be farther than the truth—not when you’re Mara Jade. The silence is full of bits of thought, snatches of sound and conversation, fragments of memory, flashes of emotion, slivers of possibility, and traces of fear. You gaze at the starlines. Luke had told you he always found hyperspace peaceful, almost hypnotic. You don’t really see it that way—to you it’s just a blank slate, a non-entity that neither detracts nor adds to your thoughts. But regardless of the spectacle hurtling past your eyes, you love the peace of space. Space had always been your time, in your youth. The place you felt like privacy was almost in your grasp. Now, you take the peace, drink it in like a vaporator on Tatooine. Because who knows how much peace you have left. Something stirs in your heart. Something close to hatred, but without the focus. Something near to heartbreak, but without the stabbing loss. You sigh, trying to get the hard knot that coils in your gut, all those half-formed feelings tied under your ribs. Sickness. Your body had always been your only ally. You have used its beauty to gain access, to beguile. It’s strength has been the counterpoint of your spirit, it’s resiliency has forever been a constant in a regularly-changing galaxy. You have worked it, moulded it, shaped it into a partner that is the equal of your soul. Never have you demanded something it could not deliver, never has it failed you. Until now. Now you ache when you move, your skin stretched taught over sharp bones. Your heart pounds like it will explode or sometimes feels like it’s about to give up. Other days, you feel like you’re unmoored in your own body, the effort to kick to the surface and gasp for air seems nearly insurmountable. Always changing, always shifting, always adapting. Whatever this strange malady is, it twists and transforms like a scarf spun through the air. Your mind drifts over the countless times this ague has mutated, the organs it has assaulted, the deviousness with which it tries to destroy you. It started on your lungs, leaving you gasping and choking for air. Then it had moved on to your joints, until every movement, even to open your mouth so you could moisten your lips, was agony. From there it had seeped into your skin; rashes, sores, boils—all had appeared to torment you. The most fearful of all had been two weeks ago. You had awoken from a rare full-night’s rest to a stabbing pain: red exploding behind your eyelids.Your eyes, so fragile, such an elegant balance between light and chemistry and electricity had been targeted. Clutching at the pain you had rolled off the bed, hitting the floor with a sharpness that barely registered in comparison to the searing torment. Luke grabbed you, pulled you upright and the fear in his voice had unnerved you. But that was nothing compared to the awful moment when you found the strength to grit your teeth and lift your eyelids… To blackness. Your husband—he is strong, yes, but he is not you. You know your body better than anyone. He had begged you to let him help, but you pushed him away, lashing out that he was only distracting you. Deep into the Force you fell, weaving strands of light, of healing through your nerves, bathing the membranes in the feather-light touch of a galaxy of power siphoned down to your will. Hours later—Luke told you later it had been nearly 11—you opened your eyes. The first thing you saw was his hair; blonde, light from all the time spent outdoors teaching students the ways of the Force. Then you see his eyes, filled with tears and worry and a touch of panic. You had let out the breath you hadn’t known you had been holding…and blinked deliberately. Fear to close your eyes again—to surrender to the blackness for even a moment—would not consume you. No matter what this disease tried, you would beat it. His hand had found yours, and he had squeezed as you felt thankfulness fill his heart. But you felt only exhaustion, the weariness of a soldier pushing through to capture the hilltop, jumping down into a trench, only to have to climb back out in order to jump down into the next. The fight seemed to have no end—the hilltop moved farther and farther even as you dragged yourself towards it. Just a few days ago the disease had attacked your womb, the very center of your womanhood, of your dreams. It had terrified you—not for the immediate threat, but for all it could take from your future. Health seemed like a dream, half-remembered and taunting you with its elusive splendor. You ache to feel whole, but you’re slowly starting to forget what it felt like. And more than anything, that terrifies you. You yawn. Looking down at the timer to double check, you nod in satisfaction all has been calculated correctly. At least if your body is failing you, your mind is still whole. For now. Nine hours until the ship will drop out of hyperspace and arrive at Belkadan. Standing gingerly, you head back to the stateroom, and pause at the open door. He is sprawled out on the bed, one hand flung out to touch the space you normally occupy. Sleep has softened his features, the years and burdens lessened as he slumbers away. You take a step towards the bed, hand going to your utility belt buckle…and stop. In your mind’s eye, you see yourself disrobing quietly, and sliding in bed next to him. You would gently nudge the hand aside, and he would reach for you, smiling softly in his sleep. He would pull you close, body fitting perfectly with yours—warm and smelling of sunshine and seas of sand. Gently, his spirit would twine with yours, seeking to protect you, to build you up, to bolster your reserves… Something clenches around your heart, freezing your muscles in place. A feeling like claustrophobia wraps around your face, your neck…and your muscles come back to life, and they are propelling you backwards, away, letting the door slide shut behind you. Leaving him to dream alone. Picking up a blanket from the common area, you return to the deck and drop back into the pilot’s seat. It is cushioned and conforms comfortingly to your body, and you pull the blanket up, tucking it up under your legs to keep the draft out. You resume staring at the stars rushing past and speculate about what you will find at your destination. Your last thought is to wonder what the disease will take from you next.