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Beyond - Legends Jade Rebirth - one-shot rewrite of Mara's illness/Ben's birth from Mara's POV

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Stone Jade, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    I was going to post this to the Jade Chronicles in a few days, but this is less of a 'missing moment' and more of a rewrite/expansion of the scene(s) from Edge of Victory II: Rebirth where Mara is cured and then gives birth to Ben. Thus, I think it works better as a stand-alone.

    Some notes:

    I like the Keyes duology, but the L/M part of the story always seemed too abbreviated to me, so I rewrote it. I also wrote it from Mara's POV, since she's the one actually going through all of this.

    The usual disclaimers apply. I've worked around Keyes's dialogue wherever possible, and fair use generally applies to derivative works intended as critiques, but I will still note that the situations presented here are previously published in the aforementioned novel and not owned by me.

    Hope you enjoy it. As I am a guy, writing a story about what's going on in a woman's head during childbirth is somewhat challenging, so constructive criticism is welcomed and encouraged as usual.

    * * *​

    26 ABY - During New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
    An expanded version of Mara's final battle with her disease, and the subsequent birth of her son Ben.

    Mara Jade Skywalker was dying. The disease she had kept at bay for more than two years now, the one that had killed everyone else it had touched, was finally killing her. Vergere's tears. They had put the disease in remission. And they almost killed my son.

    The tears had been the only thing keeping the disease at bay. Now, her body was failing her. Her power in the Force was not enough, and she was fading fast. All of her energy, everything she had left, she had to use. To protect her son. She was so close now, so close to saving him. She had only to hold on a little longer, and her son would live.


    She almost didn't realize she had called out to him. Her husband was sleeping beside her, and he awoke to her weak touch in the Force. She reached out for him, touching him on the arm, trying to speak. But she was too weak. The words didn't come.

    She could see Luke respond. Their bond in the Force had always been strong. It was tenuous now, fleeting, fading quickly. She understood his words, but did not hear them. I love you. Don't die. She knew Luke would not accept the inevitability of the moment, that he could not accept losing her. He would do everything in his power to save her. Her husband was strong in the Force. But she feared he was not strong enough.

    She knew in her heart there was only one thing he could do for her now. The baby. Their son must live. Everything else was secondary. Her life, Luke's happiness, none of that mattered without their son. Mara had never wanted children, never even considered the idea, before Luke. Now, she wanted nothing else. She would die, but her son would live.

    She felt Luke touch her arm, and called out to him, with all the Force she could spare. Help me, Luke. We have to do it now. She could tell he didn't understand.

    Her disease had ravaged her body. The spores destroyed cells wherever they spread, and her body itself was finishing the job. Her immune system was fighting, and her strength and Vergere's tears had kept it ahead of the disease. Now her immune system was killing her. Already massive inflammation had shut down her kidneys, and her liver as well. Her lungs were failing, filled with mucus, and she could barely breathe. Now she felt the disease, and her body's desperate defenses, attacking her heart. Her pulse slowed nearly to nothing, and she knew it was time.

    Darkness reached out to take her, but it was not death. She felt Luke, as powerful as he had ever been, blindly attacking the disease. His rage and fear were palpable, coming through even in her death throes. She felt him failing. The assault of the dark side caused blind destruction, but through his rage he could not attack the disease, could not even feel it.

    No, Luke, not this way. Every bit of strength she had left she put behind those words. Her agony, and his terror, threatened to drown them out, but she could feel his understanding. He understood the words, anyway, if not their meaning. His rage gave way to confusion, and Mara fell into despair. Please, Luke. Help him.

    He didn't hear. She could sense his anguish, his uncertainty. He was failing, and it was devastating him. She had to make him understand. Luke could lose himself forever, when she died, if their son did not live. His terror flowed through the Force, pushing past her pain and suffering, and she knew he would fail.

    Mara pulled back into herself, throwing every last ounce of strength around their child. As her body failed, she wrapped what was left of her essence around her son, feeling his light and his strength in the Force touch back. She felt a warmth, and a love, that she had only felt before from Luke. Her son, whom she would never meet, loved her. Mara faded away.

    A tiny voice in the back of her mind brought her back, just barely. The words were incomprehensible, the touch through the Force unrecognizable. At first. Then the voice grew louder, and the warmth and the comfort of the calm voice came through clearly. Mara felt incredible love, and knew it was Luke. She reached out in the Force, tentatively, asking if it was her husband, and got his confirmation.

    She could feel his plea. Let me in. There was nothing left of her, nothing of her for him to enter, and she tried to tell him. Mara tried to say goodbye to the love of her life. But she felt his insistence, and she felt the difference. His presence in the Force was probing, not at her, but at their son. Her remaining barriers there were about to fail, but they were still holding. She couldn't let them drop.

    She could feel his love, and his strength in the Force. He pleaded with her to drop her protective cocoon around their child, begging her to accept his help. She finally acceded.

    She felt the warmth in her womb as Luke's power entered her. She reached out for her husband and her child. She felt the spirit she had carried within her wake, felt the happiness as the life within her responded to the man who had brought that life forth. She heard the joyful laughter of her unborn child, felt his amazement as his spirit merged first with his father, then with his desperately weak mother.

    She felt her own joy as her spirit intertwined with those of her family. The last line of the Jedi mantra ran through her mind repeatedly. There is no death, there is the Force. She started to fade away.

    She had heard that, just before the moment of death, one's life would flash before one's eyes. Mara found this to be true, and yet it was not entirely so. Mara had lived two lives, distinct, and as different as two lives could possibly be. One life before she found Luke, and one life after. As she faded, images of her life flashed before her eyes, but she saw only Luke. Nothing of her life before him, that life full of darkness and evil, was to be found. Luke had ripped her old life apart, torn it utterly asunder, had destroyed the Mara that had come before. The Mara that was bitter, alone, full of despair.

    Mara saw her first meeting with Luke. She saw the long walk on Wayland. She saw her training at the Jedi Academy. Her brief reunions with Luke after that. Reunions that were too short, and too widely-spaced.

    Mara saw Nirauan, saw herself in Luke's arms as her ship and her freedom were ripped from her. She remembered as she discovered at that moment her deep love for the man she had known for many years, her desperate yearning to be with him. She saw their battle in the Chiss stronghold, and felt her shock and her glee as she discovered just how desperately Luke loved her. She saw their first kiss shortly after.

    She saw their first time together in deepest intimacy, and the countless times since. She saw their wedding, their honeymoon, other times spent together in solitude and in love. She saw her descent into sickness, and felt the love and worry Luke had for her, and the deep pride and admiration he felt at her strength.

    She saw the conception of their son, and felt the incredible joy as well as the unspoken fears both held as they discovered together the new life growing in her. She saw the past few months, full of wonder and of danger, as she carried her child within her.

    All of this flashed before Mara's eyes in an instant. All the important parts of her life, and nothing more. She knew death was approaching, and she reached out to greet it.

    But there was not death. There was only the Force.

    There was an explosion of white light, overpowering her, as she was overwhelmed by the Force. Her husband was powerful in the Force, far more powerful than any living Jedi, perhaps even more powerful than any who had ever lived. The power she felt was beyond even him. It was pure Force, born out of indescribable love, untainted light energy that washed over her in wave after wave of strength beyond comprehension.

    It was the power of three beings. Far stronger together than separately, she felt the combined strength of her husband and her unborn child reach out, grasping her very essence and wrenching aside the devastation of her disease. She felt her own strength in the Force meet theirs, and discovered in herself far more power than she had ever imagined. Luke had always claimed that the light side of the Force was more powerful than the dark side. Mara would never again believe otherwise.

    Their strength came together in the Force, a family united as one. More images came to her mind. She saw herself cradling a newborn baby. She saw that baby grow up, impossibly fast. She saw Luke grow older, and she herself grow old as well. She saw a loving family, saw good times and bad. Most of all, she felt love, more love than she had ever thought possible.

    The brilliant white light overwhelmed her again, and she felt herself healed. The destruction of the cells of her body, the devastation of her critical organs, all that damage repaired in an instant. Mara felt her strength return, felt her life force flow out from herself. She felt herself grow stronger than she had ever been. Her strength was buoyed by that of those who loved her. Her friends, her family, numerous beings with whom she had grown close over the years. All possible thanks to one man, whom she loved more than anything in the galaxy. Until now. Now, his place in her heart would be matched by another.

    Luke Skywalker had taken away a life of nothing, and given her one of everything. He had pulled her back from the brink of death, countless times. And now, he had done so again.

    Mara's eyes snapped open. She felt the bond between her and Luke, an incredible strength that was so familiar, yet now different. Shared by a third person. Part of her, and part of Luke, yet a distinct spirit unto itself. She felt Luke slip away, barely, as his mind moved toward some distant image. Then, she felt him return.

    Mara greeted her husband wordlessly, stretching out to him through the Force. She felt his joy at the touch of her essence, felt him marvel at the strength that had returned to her spirit. Luke, her lover and her husband, was the only family she had ever known. Now, they reached out together to welcome another.

    * * *​
    Long minutes later, Mara opened her eyes to discover Luke lying next to her, curled up on the mere handful of inches left on the side of her bed, his arm draped over her. She could feel him shaking, and realized her husband was quietly crying. The powerful use of the Force had exhausted Luke, and the depth of the emotional bond between the two, shared suddenly with their child, had broken through the Jedi Master's usual stoicism, reducing him to tears.

    Mara realized belatedly that she too was weeping. First disease, then pregnancy had broken down her ice queen persona to an extent, but the experience she had shared with Luke and their son had washed that persona away completely, at least for a short time. She was vaguely saddened to realize that it was unlikely that she would experience such a strong connection in the Force with Luke again in this lifetime, but that was ok. Something about battle brought forth new and deeper connections with the Force. She and Luke had fought the most important battle of their lives in that room, and together with the help of their child they had utterly vanquished their foe.

    The Force bond with Luke was still incredibly strong, but was diminished somewhat compared to what it had been just moments before. She also noted that the link between her and her son had gone away. She could still sense him, but his fetal mind had gone off to ponder something else, something unknown. She was vaguely aware of Cilghal's frantic testing and prodding, but ignored the intrusion of the Jedi healer. She and Luke both knew that her disease had been eradicated, and that their child was safe. Cilghal's tests would bear that out in a few minutes.

    Cilghal drew a small amount of blood from a vein in Mara's arm and abruptly left the room, leaving Mara alone with Luke for the moment. She softly whispered her husband's name, probing him with the Force in an attempt to rouse him. It worked, and Luke first propped himself up on an arm, then silently slipped off the bed to sit in a chair. She reached out with her hand to grasp his.

    All Luke could manage was a single word. "Mara."

    She managed to smile at him, and spoke through the last of her tears. "Luke, you did it…"

    He gently interrupted her. "We did it, Mara. You, me, and our son."

    Mara's next word surprised both of them. "Ben."

    Luke looked at her with shock, and remained speechless. Mara paused to ponder the meaning of the unprompted name. She vaguely remembered a sensation of Luke's first Master during their bond, though she had never known the man who had become one with the Force years before she and Luke first met. Some quiet twinge of the Force had made that sensation stand out for her, and she realized now how perfect the name would be for their son. Honoring Luke's first Master, without giving the boy the baggage of living up to the more well-known name of Obi-Wan. Leia had inadvertently thrust a similar burden onto Anakin, and neither Luke nor Mara wanted that for their child.

    Luke finally managed to respond. "Ben?"

    Mara nodded. "Yes, Ben. Ben Skywalker." She suddenly smiled coyly. "After all, we can't name him after my first Master." Luke winced at the off-hand remark, but Mara laughed. She was beyond regrets about her past, for the most part. Luke's love had wiped away that part of her life.

    She saw Luke smile slowly, as he thought over her decision. Finally he looked up. "Ok, Ben it is. Mara, I…"

    He stopped as Mara's eyes went wide. His voice gave away a hint of panic. "Mara, what is it? What's wrong?"

    She squeezed his hand tightly. "Nothing is wrong, Luke. But you had better go get Cilghal. I think it's starting…"

    * * *​
    Mara's face was red, and she was sweating profusely. For the first few hours, the pain from the contractions had been minimal. For the last twenty minutes, the intensity of the contractions had increased significantly, and now she was starting to really feel them.

    As the pain of the most recent contraction passed, she craned her neck to look over at her husband. "I am never going to forgive you for this, Skywalker." Luke just looked at her impassively, still holding her hand. He had heard such threats from Mara before, and had known enough women who had given birth to know that such threats were commonplace, and quickly forgotten.

    Cilghal spoke up. "It won't be long now, Mara. Just a few more minutes, and you'll be ready to push."

    Mara barely heard her words. The pain started up again, and Mara cried out. She saw Luke's concerned look out of the corner of her eye, and felt him finally break his impassivity, reaching out to her with the Force to ease her pain. She squeezed his hand, hard, and pushed back at his mental probe with her own power in the Force.

    It took another few moments before she had the ability to speak to him. "Cut it out, Skywalker. None of your pain dissipation techniques. This is my birthright as a woman, and I won't let you wave your hand and take it away from me. No use of the Force to dull the pain. I want the entire experience."

    Luke set his jaw, but she felt his reluctant acceptance through the Force. She cried out again, and again felt Luke reach out to her through the Force. She willed herself to push back against his intrusion again, angered at his disregard for her wishes, but stopped when she felt the difference in his touch.

    This time, he was not trying to take away her pain. Instead, he was simply reaching out through the Force to feel it. He was trying to share in the experience with her, and his action touched her heart. It also annoyed her more than a little. She wanted nothing more than to be able to blame him for all of this, but his compassion and love were making that difficult. As always.

    She managed to put on her best sarcastic face as the pain faded again. "Fine, Luke, you win. Share the experience with me. But," she added threateningly, "if I ever hear you try to describe the pain of childbirth to anyone, you will lose another limb."

    Her husband actually had the nerve to laugh out loud, and she glared at him with no small amount of anger at his levity. He sobered up some as he sensed her ire, and apologized. "Sorry, Mara." His eyes twinkled, and he gave her a small smile. "I was just pleased to see that you're really ok. That was the Mara Jade I fell in love with."

    The affection in his voice warmed her heart, but the feeling was quickly overpowered by the pain of another contraction. She cried out again, but maintained enough awareness to be pleased with Luke's gasp of surprise, as he too shared in the sensation with her. She could feel his own mind cry out with the pain, and felt him successfully overcome the urge to dampen that pain with the Force.

    Through the pain she could hear Cilghal's voice. "Mara, it's time to start pushing." She squeezed Luke's hand tighter as she prepared for the end of her pregnancy, and for the beginning of a new life.

    * * *​
    Mara couldn't remember ever feeling weaker. Even the most difficult times during her sickness had been easier than what she had just experienced. And yet, she felt stronger than she ever had before. She felt Luke's hand reach out again to grasp hers, and she smiled as she stared down at Ben Skywalker. Her son. Hers and Luke's.

    She had privately doubted that this day would ever come. Doubted all the way up to today, just a few short hours ago, in fact. She had spent most of her life despairing that she would ever find someone whom she could love, and doubting even more that she could find someone that could possible love her. Even after discovering her love for Luke, their separate obligations had made starting a family impossible for years. Her recent illness had not changed that, but it had happened anyway. She beamed at the happy accident lying quietly in her arms. An accident, unexpected, but something that had been desperately craved by both Mara and Luke.

    She looked to her husband, the smile on his face matching hers in intensity and in love. "Luke," she whispered, "can it ever get better than tonight?"

    He didn't answer. Neither of them had any idea what the future would bring. Moments of unbelievable joy and of deep sorrow were sure to follow, but Luke didn't have the necessary frame of reference to measure his current happiness, nor to compare it to what might be to come. So he didn't speak, but he felt Mara's understanding through the Force just the same. Their thoughts on the matter were identical.

    She looked back at Ben, and everything else in the galaxy faded to the background. She was vaguely aware of Cilghal asking about visitors, and Luke approving the idea, provided it was only a few at a time. She had enough presence of mind to worry about how she looked, her vision of herself in the Force one of a sickly woman, gray-faced and worn to the bone, but she was too happy to object to visitors on that account alone. As Cilghal left the room, she aimed a thought at the Mon Cal healer through the Force. Make sure Anakin's in the first group. He's been worried about me. She wasn't sure if the message made it through.

    Whether it did or not, Anakin was the first through the door, with Mirax Terrik Horn right behind him. Mara considered her nephew briefly as he came into the room. Jaina might be her apprentice, but Anakin was her favorite. She had never admitted this out loud, even to Luke, but she was sure that her husband knew her mind well enough to know her feelings. And, she suspected, although Luke hid it well, that Anakin was his favorite too. They were so much alike, Luke and Anakin. Both strong in the Force, both kind, considerate, and loving. Anakin had a bright future.

    She greeted him, mostly ignoring her friend Mirax for the moment, and got the impression that Anakin was holding something inside. He did however manage to ask if all babies were as ugly as Ben looked.

    Yes, Mara thought, Anakin and Luke are alike in many ways. Including the general ability to drive me crazy with stupid questions like that. She managed not to bite his head off, and Anakin had the good sense to make up for his lapse by asking about her. She had felt his concern radiating through the Force ever since their ship landed, and she assured him she was fine. Never better.

    She looked to Mirax. "I understand your husband had to babysit Anakin and Tahiri on a mission. I'm not sure I would have traded places with him today, even with everything I've been through."
    Mirax laughed. "Corran said they were ok, that both of them managed to stay out of trouble. For the most part."

    Curiously, Anakin blushed at this last bit. Mara couldn't read him through the Force, but something about Mirax's response embarrassed him. She promised herself to get to the bottom of that later. In the unlikely event she'd ever be able to stand up again.

    Anakin hugged her and Luke and left, and Mirax gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and followed Mara's nephew out the door.

    No sooner had they left then Corran and Tahiri walked through the door. No rest for the weary. Corran was Mara's best friend among the Jedi, save those she was related to by marriage, and she was fond of Tahiri too, due to the girl's close friendship with Anakin. Both could be quite tiring, however. Corran due to his predilection for teasing and sarcasm, and Tahiri due to her seeming inability to ever close her mouth.

    Corran smiled at Mara, but as usual, Tahiri got the first words out. "Aunt Mara, I'm so happy to see that you're ok." Mara noticed Luke blink at this. Mara was of course not Tahiri's aunt, but Tahiri had taken to calling her that, every once in a great while, due no doubt to Anakin's influence. She realized with amusement that Luke had probably never heard Tahiri call her that. I guess there are a few things about me that can still surprise him. Good.

    More words were spewing forth from Tahiri's mouth. "Anakin was so worried about you. All he could think about on the way home was how you were doing. He barely even talked to me, although that's not so unusual. Your son is beautiful. What's his name?..."

    She took a short breath, clearly ready to continue, and Luke cut her off with a laugh. "Slow down, Tahiri, one thing at a time."

    Mara gave the girl a gentle smile. "You're far kinder than Anakin. He called him 'ugly'. This is Ben. Ben Skywalker."

    Tahiri gaped. "Anakin called him ugly? I'm going to have a talk with that boy. I can't believe he did that, that's so insensitive. Anakin's not usually like that, usually he's…"

    Corran put a hand on Tahiri's shoulder, and blessedly the girl trailed off to silence. Mara noticed Luke's amused smile, but was so thankful for the moment of peace that she had no choice but to give Corran a glance of gratitude. She noted a small nod in return.

    Corran spoke up for the first time. "Congratulations, you two." He left it at that, clearly understanding Mara's desire to get these visits over with as quickly as possible. Mirax had no doubt been the same way after their children had been born.

    Luke smiled at the younger man. "Thank you, Corran. And thank you for watching out for Anakin and Tahiri. Those two can get into all kinds of situations if you don't keep watch on them constantly."

    Corran laughed. "I noticed." He winked at Tahiri. "I only had them run off on me once, and I had to leave them in a locker for a short time to keep them from suffocating, but I'm sure Tahiri kept Anakin entertained."

    Mara expected another deluge of words from Tahiri, but instead the girl was silent. And blushing. Interesting.

    Corran managed to drag Tahiri out of the room before the girl could burst forth with more excited chatter. Mara looked over at Luke with a vaguely pained expression.

    "I'm not sure how much more of this I'm going to be able to take."

    Luke chuckled softly. "I understand. Tahiri has always been a bit…" He paused, clearly searching for the right word. After a moment he came up with "…enthusiastic." That was not the word Mara would have chosen, and she told him as much.

    "I was thinking more annoying."

    Luke smiled gently at her. "Perhaps so. Regardless, you deserve some rest. I will go out and talk to everyone else. I'm sure they can wait a few more hours to see the baby."

    He turned to leave, but Mara stopped him. "Luke, if you get a chance, find out what happened between Anakin and Tahiri on their trip with Corran."

    Luke turned back with a twinkle in his eye. "You noticed, did you? I can ask Anakin, but I'm not sure he'll want to tell me. He might be more willing to talk to you about it."

    Mara considered this. She and Anakin had become very close, but she hated talking about such things with others.

    Luke continued. "I always expected that something would develop between those two someday. They've been as close as anyone since they met, and I think she might end up a Solo someday."

    Mara shuddered a bit at that. Luke saw this, and clearly caught a bit of her feeling on the matter through the Force. Mara liked Tahiri, and would welcome her into the family with open arms, but she did not relish the thought of having to deal with Tahiri's exuberance more often than she already did.

    Luke's eyes gleamed as he responded to Mara's nonverbal reaction. "Look on the bright side, Mara…"
    She tiredly raised an eyebrow at her husband.

    He chuckled as he continued. "If they get married someday, you'll legitimately be Tahiri's 'Aunt Mara'. Now, my dear, get some rest."

    Still laughing quietly to himself, he turned to leave the room.

    Mara looked around the room for something to throw at the back of her husband's head. Unfortunately, the only thing within her immediate reach was Ben. Sighing with vexation, she congratulated herself for not seriously considering that option.

  2. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Chosen One star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Awesome. Mara is a better woman than I. Natural way...I want my epidural!!!! :p I love this story. Beautifully written!
    ginchy and Jade_eyes like this.
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellently vivid =D= =D= With just the right mix of snark and banter to lighten it up at the end :D
    Gemma likes this.
  4. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    Great balance between the angst in the beginning and the lighter tone in the end. I really enjoyed it.
  5. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010
    Lovely missing moments. Ben's birth was far to... lacking in the books for such a momentous moment. You did it justice here.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  6. EmeraldJediFire

    EmeraldJediFire Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 23, 2012
    You had me wanting to cry through most of it...(my compliments on that btw) ...but it was so wonderful. you write superbly with such detail and heart. this was very enjoyable
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  7. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 18, 1999
    This was wonderful! You write the female POV very well. :)
  8. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    I can understand Mara feeling like she had to do it all on her own, carry the burden and save the baby. I had a very rough pregnancy (not as rough as Mara's, but still rough) and I remember feeling very alone in my body and struggle, even with my husband offering all the support he could. I like the way you wrote that and showed how once she opened back up to Luke that they (and Ben) were stronger together than apart. Beautiful.
    Jade_eyes likes this.