Title: Number Six Author: ginchy Notes: Written for the SJRS Halloween challenge : For this fic, you must write about Luke and/or Mara creating AND destroying something (the order is up to you), but they have to destroy what they create (or create what they destroy). You must include (or mention) 1. either a Dathomirian witch, Force-Vampire or cthon 2. candy 3. the phrase “it was a dark and stormy night” Thanks to JadeLotus and taramidala for reading this over!! *** He hesitates outside of the door to the bedroom, and Mara’s teeth catch on her lower lip as she squashes a hopeful smile. It’s been so long since she’s seen him. Missing him is a familiar feeling. Their marriage has been full of physical absences, far more of them than either would have imagined back in those early, heady days of their whirlwind engagement. The door finally opens and he enters, eyes zeroing in on her as they adjust to the dim light of the room. “Skywalker,” she says, standing to walk across the room, stopping just short of him. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He doesn’t speak for a moment, as if he’s searching for something to say. “Mara,” he says finally, bridging the distance between them, reaching for her hand. She takes his hand and entwines their fingers, tugging on his arm until he lowers his head to her. “Haven’t you missed me?” Her voice is barely a whisper against his lips. He opens his mouth as if to speak, but she doesn’t let him answer, pressing her mouth to his. Luke hesitates for a moment, tilting his head back to stare at her with bright eyes. “It’s okay,” she whispers, tugging him back into the kiss. He obliges her this time, tracing his free hand up her back as the kiss deepens. Abruptly, Mara pulls back, dropping his hand and wiping the back of hers across her mouth. “This isn’t right.” “What?” Luke’s mouth is red, swollen from their kiss, and he looks confused. “What isn’t right?” Mara stares at him, raising her hand to brush the side of his face, tracing her fingers down his neck and arm to his right hand. “You’re not right.” Luke touches the side of his head. “I’m sorry, I can’t--” “There are only so many things I can do,” Mara cuts him off. “I can’t recreate certain events. I can’t teach you all of the things you need to know.” “What are you talking about?” He seems wary and steps back, looking around the darkened room, toward a slight rustle of sound. “What’s that?” “You know what it is, Sky--Luke.” Mara waves her hand as if dismissing the pair of creatures that can barely be seen, attached to their special frames. He squints, and shakes his head. “There’s so much.” He touches the side of his head again. “It’s hard for me to recall.” “You’ll never remember.” “What?” “You’ll never remember everything. I already know that you’ve failed.” Mara’s fists are tight at her side. “Failed? What are you talking about, Mara? What’s going on? I’ve been gone and you’ve…” “I’ve what? Changed?” Mara laughed, but there was no mirth in the sound. “You don’t even know me. The flash memory never works.” “Flash memories?” He looks around the room, and then back at Mara, helpless. “I don’t understand.” “I tried using other methods. They took too long. Or I couldn’t find the equipment. And yet, I hoped…” Mara cuts herself off, and steps forward, bringing her hand to Luke’s face again. She traces a path only she can see, near his eye and down his cheek. “The voice is gone, finally. But so are you.” Frustrated, Luke grabs her arm and removes her hand. “What are you talking about, Mara?” Mara’s eyes harden, and she removes herself from his grasp quickly. “Don’t touch me. I don’t want to--” “Don’t want to--” “Just shut up! Shut up! I’m so sick of voices! Voices in my head, and you. Always with the questions. Every time you come in here, you ask me why, why, why…” Luke swallows, and watches her as she stalks around the room, unhinged. “It was a dark and stormy night. Kriff it all. It was storming, and he liked storms. He liked the rain, cliche as it is. And I would laugh at him, and call him Farmboy, and it’s all so stupid and trite, and kriff him for making me love him. I wanted to go, to leave and keep him safe. The voice, it kept screaming. We thought it was gone, but no. It came back. YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER.” She pauses. “But of course I wouldn’t kill him. Couldn’t. He told me that. He was convinced that I would never hurt him. I thought he was right. I had never felt love the way I did when I was with him. I wanted to know every part of him, inside and out.” She laughs her harsh laugh again. “The holo-press called me a Force-vampire. Said that I sucked the Force right out of Luke, as if he were a piece of candy that I could crack open with my teeth and suck out the sweetness. But I was never the vampire. It was him. Palpatine. He took everything from me. My life. My childhood. My innocence. You.” Mara looks at him as if seeing him for the first time. “Don’t look at me with his eyes!” Unsure of what to do, Luke edges toward the door. Mara beats him to it, blocking him with her body. “Are you afraid of me?” Her voice is a whisper barely heard. “Luke was never afraid. Not even when I snapped his neck.” “What are you talking about? I’m right here.” Luke backs up again and thumps his chest. “You didn’t kill me.” “No,” she says, taking a step away from the door. “I killed him. He could have stopped me, but he didn’t. He had that much faith in me. I used that against him and murdered him. And, for a moment, after it was finished, I was relieved. The voice was gone. What does that say about me that my first feeling was relief? I had tried for so long to keep it repressed. But it just kept screaming until I did what I was ordered to do. I killed Luke Skywalker.” Silence falls between them, and Luke looks down at the corner he’s backed himself into, near the creatures and their frames. “Ysalamiri,” he says, reaching out to place a finger on one of the frames. “Now I remember. They block the Force.” “Don’t touch those!” Mara’s voice is shrill, frantic. “Why are you blocking the Force?” “Stop asking questions! And move away from there.” Mara reaches out to grab his hand, to yank him away. Luke moves awkwardly to avoid her, pitching the frame and ysalamir forward. Mara dives in and catches the frame, setting it back against the wall before rounding on Luke. She grabs him in a practiced move, positioning herself behind him with her arm around his neck. She pushes his head forward, applying pressure. “I told you not to touch them,” she growls. “The ysalamiri are the only things keeping him from finding me.” Gasping for breath, and choking, Luke tries to move away, to fight, lurching his body forward. Mara hangs on, steely determined. “I want him back, but not that way. Not as a ghost. I can’t look him in the eyes, knowing what I did…” Luke’s attempts at extrication are slowing, his breath quiet gasps. “Since I escaped I’ve been trying to recreate what we had together, Luke. But you won’t cooperate. You never cooperate.” Luke’s body falls slack against her in unconsciousness. She finishes the job quickly, snapping his neck. It’s not as violent as it was that long-ago night when she killed her husband. There is no drawn-out altercation, no pleading for her to remember and to stop. This time it’s quiet, and over quickly, even as the heavy weight of the clone’s body falls against her, so much like her husband’s body had once done. She sits with him for long moments, studying the smooth skin, free of scars and age. She traces the line of the clones lips, plump and pale and runs her fingers through the silky blond hair. Now that the fight had left the clone’s body, he looked more like the Luke of her memories, and she wept. Soon, she would clean up. Remove the body, and check the tanks. Number Six had not been satisfactory. But Mara could wait. -end A/N 2: The title is meant to evoke an episode of TheTwilight Zone, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, even if the storyline isn’t quite the same.