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Beyond - Legends Settling In (L/M, post-Union)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Gabri_Jade, May 13, 2021.

  1. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Title: Settling In
    Author: Gabri_Jade
    Timeframe: New Republic, post-Union
    Characters: Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker
    Genre: fluff/mush, slice of life, missing moment, Legends canon-compatible

    Summary: After all the challenges that Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade have faced together, decorating their first apartment should be easy. Right?

    Notes: Look, sometimes you just need some meaningless happy fluff. Thanks to @ViariSkywalker for her beta work, for always patiently listening to me angst over whatever detail of the current WIP isn't cooperating, and for her absolute faith that I'll figure it out eventually [face_love]

    “I hate that color.”

    Luke paused with his paintbrush in mid-swipe and glanced over to where his wife was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the middle of their living room. “You picked out this color.”

    Mara propped an elbow on her knee and rested her chin glumly in her hand. “That doesn’t stop me from hating it.”

    Looking back, he had to agree with her. What had looked like a bright, cheery blue on the swatch had somehow transformed to something more suited to the starring role in a daycare’s mural once it was on the walls. “What about the green?”

    “It looks like toothpaste.”

    Again, it was hard to argue. “Gray?”

    Mara sighed heavily. “It looked so elegant on the swatch in the store. Now all I can see when I look at it is the interior of a Star Destroyer.”

    “Definitely not the ambience we were going for.” Luke pried the lid off another small can of paint, picked up a fresh brush, and swept a new patch of color on the wall. Stepping back to regard it from a distance, he had a hard time suppressing a cringe. When examining swatches, they’d agreed that this shade of purple was a sophisticated amethyst. On the wall…

    “I don’t know what we were even thinking with that one,” Mara groaned, covering her face with her hands.

    “Okay,” Luke said. “We knew we were going to discard most of these anyway, right? So we can hate all of them as long as just one works. How about—” He picked up another can and brush and painted another patch, then sighed himself as he stepped back to look at it.

    “It’s orange,” Mara said, her voice as close to a wail as he’d ever heard it.

    Luke read the label on the can again, just in case the store had mixed up their order. “Mon Calamari Coral. That was the shade we picked out, wasn’t it?”

    “Yes,” Mara said, rubbing her temples. “It looked like coral in the store, didn’t it? Am I hallucinating here?”

    “It definitely looked—softer,” Luke said. “Like the inside of a shell. Not—”



    “What about Sunrise Spice?” Mara asked, a little desperately.

    Luke looked through their dwindling stock of sample cans, found it, painted another patch, sighed. “Don’t even say it.”

    She did anyway. “It looks like someone threw an orobird egg at the wall.”

    “Black Caf, then,” Luke said, beginning to feel a little desperate himself. “You really can’t go wrong with caf, can you?” A few swipes of the brush was enough to demonstrate that you absolutely could go wrong with caf. Like when you tried to smear it on your living room wall.

    Mara actually laughed at this one. He’d have worried about the slightly hysterical undercurrent to the sound if it didn’t express his own feelings so perfectly. “It looks like your father’s armor.”

    He’d have sworn, absolutely sworn, that Black Caf had been a deep but refined shade of brown when they’d chosen it. Once seen on anything larger than the credit-sized swatches the store had offered, though, it was indeed closer to a familiar shade of glossy black. He picked up another can. “Gourmet Mushroom.”

    “That,” Mara pronounced as he painted, “is the most boring shade I have ever seen in my life. That is what psychologists would say to paint the walls of a trauma ward, to try to lull the patients to sleep.”

    “You picked this one out, too,” Luke said, exasperated. Not that he could disagree with her assessment.

    “Well, you picked out Sunrise Spice.”

    “It reminded me of the sand back home, just before the second sun rose.” Luke looked at the yellow patch again. “Until it was on the wall, anyway.”

    “How many more do we have left?” Mara asked, her eyes closed now.

    “One,” Luke said, picking it up. “Berry Silky.”

    “Just think,” Mara said. “Someone has to actually come up with these names. Someone, somewhere, is making a living naming paint shades. Why didn’t I stumble into an easy gig like that after the Empire fell? Do you know all the trash jobs I worked for five years, while someone else pulled a paycheck coming up with names like ‘Berry Silky’ and ‘Sunrise Spice’?”

    “Mara,” Luke said. Somewhere along the line he’d lost the thread of what she was saying, transfixed by the latest horror he’d just inflicted on his own home. “Tell me this one looked better on the swatch. Tell me we didn’t knowingly pick out this shade.”

    Mara paused in her tirade and opened her eyes. Silence fell.

    Very slowly, Luke put the paint can and brush down, then walked to the middle of the room and sank down beside Mara. Together, they regarded what had been a perfectly serviceable, if bland, wall, now covered with a patchwork of obnoxious color.

    “Once,” Luke said, “when I was about eight, Deak got perfect grades the whole school year and his mom let him throw a party for all us kids in the Anchorhead area as a reward. She made a huge pika cake with pink frosting. Fixer dared me to eat—well, a lot of it. I did, but on the ride home I threw up. It looked a lot like Berry Silky.”

    “And yet,” Mara replied, with an almost worrying veneer of calm, “you did not mention this resemblance at the store when we were picking out paint shades.”

    “If it had looked that pink on the swatch,” Luke said, eyes still on the wall, “I do promise you that I would have mentioned my disgusting childhood vomit story before we bought a sample can.”

    Mara groaned and flopped backward to lie on the floor. Luke matched her, mostly so that he could look at the ceiling rather than the patches of paint. She muttered something he didn’t catch, then asked, “How did all of these colors look so nice on credit-sized swatches and so awful on an actual wall?”

    “I suppose we could just leave the walls white,” Luke offered. “Or at least, leave the other walls white and repaint that one to match.”

    Mara huffed a sigh. “I really wanted the apartment to be—well, pretty. It’s the only real home I’ve ever had besides the Fire, and the Fire was more about being able to leave than wanting to stay. Whenever people talk about home, they always make it sound like—” She waved her hand vaguely. “Like it somehow expresses their personality, like it’s this perfect space where they’re always comfortable, where they’re proud to welcome guests. I wanted—that, I guess.”

    Luke reached over to capture her still-waving hand and squeeze it. “Then we’ll make it happen. No matter how many paint samples it takes.”

    She returned the squeeze, the disappointment that edged her sense softening in the warmth of their shared affection. “I don’t understand it,” she said. “I grew up in the Palace. I moved among the Empire’s most elite strata of society for years. I know they weren’t exactly nice people, but they sure had the money to hire the galaxy’s best designers. I recognize good design when I see it. Why can’t I replicate it?”

    “We’ve hardly started,” he reassured her. “We’ll figure it out.”

    “We’re starting from such a ridiculously blank slate, though,” Mara said. “You’d really think that at least one of us would be bringing some decent furniture or art or something to this marriage.”

    Luke shrugged. “We’ve led kind of busy lives. Too many other things to think of, I guess.”

    “So much work now, though. And you know we won’t have much time to work on it before the stupid galaxy pulls us back into its stupid arguments and obligations and—”

    “Hey,” Luke interrupted her, amused. “We don’t have to get every detail of our life together perfect in the first few months. We’ll get it started and the rest of it will eventually fall into place.”

    Mara tilted her head back, arching her neck a little to glance around the room. There wasn’t all that much to look at, Luke thought; she was right that neither of them had entered marriage with an abundance of home furnishings. They’d traded the individual apartments they’d each been granted in the Palace long ago for a slightly larger one in a different wing, but the catch was that this wing had been sparsely populated since the Empire’s fall until recently, and many pieces of furniture had been moved to the more central areas where the New Republic government had first set up shop after retaking Coruscant. This new apartment had the most basic comforts, but not much else, and since neither of them had ever bothered to do much in the way of personalizing their earlier places, there had been little for either of them to bring along to start their new shared home.

    At the time, that had been part of the appeal: the opportunity to create a new place together, one that reflected both of them. It had even sounded like fun.

    Of course, that was before realizing how slender a connection to reality the average-sized promotional paint swatch had.

    “So,” Mara asked, settling back down. “Do we stick with the ‘choose a paint color first’ tactic, or should we reverse course and go furniture shopping and then try to match the paint to the furniture? Because I really do hate that couch. And we haven’t even started on any of the other rooms yet.”

    “Lando,” Luke said, unable to resist, “did suggest that we paint the bedroom walls red.”

    Mara pulled her hand from his to fling her arm across her eyes, an exasperated sound escaping her. “Not in this lifetime. Or in the next, either.”

    “No argument here,” Luke said, grinning. He bumped her knee with his own. “Let’s take a break. I know what always relaxes you.”

    Mara eyed him sideways. “Do you, now.”

    He trailed a finger along her arm. “Absolutely. You’re very predictable.”

    “Not a word anyone’s ever used to describe me.”

    “They just don’t know you like I do,” Luke told her.

    Mara raised an eyebrow. “Prove it.”

    Luke twined his fingers with hers and leaned a little closer before murmuring, “Caf?”

    “Gods, yes.”

    Luke laughed and rose, pulling her along with him. “Let’s go to that little cafe three blocks over, behind the old smashball courts.”

    “You’re only suggesting that place because you like their choclime twists,” Mara observed, retrieving her holdout blaster from the entry table and sliding it into her forearm holster, then smoothing her tunic sleeve over it.

    “I am shocked,” Luke said, “shocked that you would think your happiness isn’t my first priority. You love their frothed toffee nut caf.”

    Mara narrowed her eyes. “You promised—”

    He stepped over to her side and kissed her before she could continue. “Don’t worry, I didn’t tell a single person that you like some fancy cafe concoction instead of straight caf as black as the Maw. Your deep, dark secrets are safe with me.”

    One side of her mouth quirked upward playfully. “I should hope so, now that you’ve shared such good material for evening the score as disgusting childhood vomit stories.”

    “It really is amazing,” Luke remarked, “all the little details we somehow missed in that Force bond moment on Nirauan, just because we were about to die at the time.”

    “I can’t imagine how that one escaped me,” Mara agreed. “Ready to go?”

    “Ready,” he said, taking her hand. “All the sugar will help take our minds off the fact that even after we figure out how to decorate this place, there’s still our rooms on Yavin to sort.”

    Mara stopped dead in her tracks, staring at him, and for just a moment Luke wondered if he’d pushed her too far, and the thought of two homes to decorate might have snapped her somehow, the way their circus of a wedding hadn’t.

    He really should have known better. An air of fierce determination came over her, and she squeezed his hand tightly. "Okay,” she said. “We’re going to need to make a couple of stops before the cafe. First, we find the nearest bookstore, and we clear out their home decor section."

    "Sounds good," Luke agreed. "What’s the second stop?"

    "A liquor store," Mara informed him. "Because I am absolutely going to need more fortification than caf and sugar for this job."

    Luke grinned as he guided her toward the door. “Going to leave the blaster behind and smuggle the bottle into the cafe in the holster?”

    “I am shocked,” Mara tossed back at him with perfect mimicry, “shocked that you think that’s the only holster I’m wearing.”

    “Don’t know what I was thinking,” Luke conceded. He caught a last glimpse of the blotched wall as he turned to lock the door behind them and made a face before he could stop himself.

    The same face, in fact, that Mara was making beside him.

    “Black Caf is the first one we paint over,” he murmured, slipping an arm around her shoulders.

    “Before we go to sleep tonight,” Mara agreed fervently, putting her own arm around his waist and leading him down the corridor.

    Married life might have its challenges, Luke thought, smiling fondly as they walked, but the galaxy hadn’t yet invented the challenge that he and Mara couldn’t eventually surmount together.

    Not even interior decorating.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] Lovely bit of slice of life indeed where the poetic paint names do not match what you get when it lands on the walls! And oh my if that isn't a snapshot description of SW I don't know what is, being pulled back into stupid galactic arguments! :p

    Thanks for the fluff! [face_love]
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
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  3. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Kessel Run Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 9, 2002
    As you know, I so relate to the paint dilemma, with the new house and all. (*side-eyes Agreeable Gray*... not that it's a bad color, it's just a lot more greige than it looked on that very small sample they showed us; and now I'm really missing my beautiful North Star walls *wistful*)

    I shall return in a bit with some specific parts I enjoyed! [face_batting]

    Edit: Back! ;)
    LOL, probably my favorite part of the whole vig, right here. Those last two sentences had me chuckling quite a bit. :D

    I love almost-hysterical Mara. :p

    Seriously, who has that job? How does one get that job? And what is the pay like? [face_thinking]

    First of all, gross. :p Second of all, I love Mara's "almost worrying veneer of calm". I can picture it perfectly... possibly because I've felt myself speaking in that exact same manner from time to time... [face_whistling]

    *sigh* That's the dream, isn't it? I feel like I'm always in a perpetual state of "someday" when it comes to arranging and decorating my home. Things just end up places, and I think maybe I'll move them one day and get things looking perfect... and yeah, that's not how it happens. Because I'm no interior decorator, and I have four kids. :oops::p

    (And also it totally fits that Mara would want this, since it's something she never had and never thought she would have.)

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl] This part turned out great, I love it!

    Another section I got a good chuckle out of. "Straight caf as black as the Maw". [face_laugh]

    LOLOL. (Although now I'm wondering how many holsters Mara is wearing here [face_thinking] )

    I love it! Sweet and funny and the best kind of fluff! You did great, babe! [:D]
    Last edited: May 13, 2021
  4. GreatOne

    GreatOne Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 22, 2003
    Oh Gabri... you are STILL here! I haven't been on this site for at least ten years. I'm glad to see you are ignoring the DarthMouse movies, too. I had to start writing stories again just to erase them from my old brain!

    I do agree with Mara about gray walls. That's what I'd like to say to the Property Brothers every time they paint a room gray (which is ALL the time) that it looks like the inside of a prison! LOL Tell the Skywalkers to paint their wall pale blue and pale, sunny yellow... ;)
  5. DaenaBenjen42

    DaenaBenjen42 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    May 15, 2005
    You know... I actually paused in the middle of reading this to look at the ceiling in our living room that my father painted orange long ago. Hee.

    Yay bonding thru interior decorating. Loved this. So, so much. :)
  6. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Mara just wants to paint her new apartment, why is that so haaaarrrrd :p

    Greige, ugh [face_frustrated]


    Neither of them actually has any great emotional associations with that armor, after all. They're just trying to make their new place pretty, and suddenly there's a patch of Vader on the walls...

    Same with nail polish and makeup shades. They all have names, ergo, someone is naming them. But who? And how? I've wondered for decades [face_thinking]

    If you can't share gross personal memories with your spouse, who can you share them with :p And I just bet you have :p

    I feel like every person or animal in the household diminishes the possibility of a truly well arranged decorative scheme. Not like it's impossible, but it definitely gets more complicated. And the smaller the person and/or the larger the animal, the more complicated it becomes [face_thinking]

    I imagine that until she was engaged, it was simply something she never thought about, because it was so irrelevant to her life. But at some point when they were settling on living arrangements, she had to have realized, "oh, I'm going to have a home. And I'm going to share it with another person. And that other person is famous and closely connected to all sorts of other famous and powerful people. We're definitely going to have to play host at some point." And I think that she would have started to become very quietly and privately excited about it, honestly. Sure, it's a new concept for her, but so is marriage and family, yet once she decided on that, she was happy and excited about it (albeit in her own quiet and private the-whole-galaxy-is-not-privy-to-my-emotions way that she has). So here she'd be, trying to think about what exactly home is and means, and she'd notice and remember how other people spoke of it, and if the GFFA is anything like earth, there'd be a general unspoken agreement to pretend that having the perfect home is something that comes naturally and easily to everyone without outside help, which is, of course, nonsense. But Mara doesn't know it's nonsense, she's never experienced any aspect of this phenomenon. Everyone else acts like it's easy, and you know Luke was probably just as obliviously optimistic as she was ("Sure, it's paint and some new furniture, how hard can it be"), so I can just imagine how disappointed she was when everything they'd so cheerfully picked out wound up looking awful. Mara being Mara, she's not going to let that keep her down for long, but still, that moment where all her excitement about this new chapter of her life drains into the reality of a wall with splotches of egg yolk and Vader's armor and Pepto-Bismol on it - you know her heart must just have sunk, the poor girl.

    Hee [face_whistling]

    She has a reputation to uphold [face_skull]

    Never underestimate Mara's ability to conceal weaponry :p

    Thank you, darling [:D]

    Well, hello again! :D I actually was not here for almost a decade myself; I just started posting again last November. But I've been writing on and off since last January, because TRoS o_O

    You know, I really do like gray, but when you make it the centerpiece of your design rather than an accent, it gets tricky to pull off. And now I want to go read a bunch of decorating books and magazines and sort out exactly what Luke and Mara's apartment would wind up looking like [face_thinking]

    Ha, orange ceiling! I kind of love it :D Luke and Mara just have to have some nice, ordinary moments in between all the life and death battles, you know? I'm so glad you liked it :D
  7. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    I haven't taken the time to review recent stories, so now I must take advantage of a Friday evening to remedy that, at least once!

    Oh, Mara. Her desire for normality probably hit her pretty hard. She didn't go after it, really, before her abrupt marriage to Luke, but now that they're linked together she finds she just wants a place where they can be happy together. The kind of place she's never had before now—yes, she was happy on Jade's Fire, or at least content, but that was always happy alone. This is new and different and she wants a place for her and Luke and making one is driving her a little batty, because she has no idea what to do.

    And of course Luke wants that too, and he at least has a stronger foundation to build on, but he has no parental support or advice. He lost his family when he was 18—hardly old enough to really appreciate everything parents can teach and provide. And Leia doesn't have them, and Han doesn't have them, and Winter doesn't have them, and Lando doesn't have them, and Wedge doesn't have them, and none of the rebels have parents with generational wisdom to hand down to them!

    The best they can do is Karrde and Booster Terrik.

    Honestly, I bet they'd be pretty good at interior decorating.

    *laughs* this is fitting. Mara is definitely the type to prefer the fancy drink and not want to admit it to anyone. She probably has a list of a dozen pseudonyms she uses to order and uses infiltration and exfiltration techniques to get the drinks out of the cafe without anyone realizing.

    I never ever want these two to change. [face_love]

    Between Luke's optimism and Mara's arsenal of determination and weapons, I'm sure they'll eventually figure it out. Or they'll just move onto the Jade Sabre and do their best to turn that into a home instead!
  8. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    It may well be the first time she's ever admitted even to herself that she might want such a thing! And you know, she's always been such a quick learner and she's surely assuming that Luke understands this family stuff, so between the two of them, it shouldn't be hard. BUT IT IS. And not even someone as determined as Mara can fight off discouragement 100% of the time. Fortunately, Luke is even more determined to give her whatever she wants than she is to create it herself, so what with their mutual determination, the disappointment was brief [face_love]

    This is a good point [face_thinking] Even those who came from family backgrounds all seem to have lost their parents very young, and then they've nearly all spent years fighting wars and trying to rebuild massive institutions like the Republic and the Jedi Order. There hasn't been a lot of time or energy left for normal personal lives.

    I laughed out loud. This is a story prompt, right here :p

    Agreed! I frequently see in fanfic the "Mara is addicted to dangerously strong black caf" assumption, and I don't even dislike it, I can see it! But the flip side here is that before she wound up in the Fringe, she grew up in the most elite of the galaxy's elite. There's no way she doesn't have sophisticated tastes, even if she's largely been adapting to Fringe expectations for years. And I'm sorry, who wouldn't love a frothed toffee nut caf [face_coffee]

    They are the best [face_love]

    lol, watch Mara get very invested in decorating and set up both homes plus the Sabre :p But however the decorating turns out, these two will always be happy as long as they're together [face_love]
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  9. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Great banter about the paint and the names
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    JEDIFLYSWATTER Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 10, 2004
    Mara is nesting. It really is a pain in the butt to find the right color. You look at those tiny little color swatches and they are never right. I really liked this. No bad guys, wars, etc. Just life in all of its simple forms.
  11. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Thank you! :D I'm almost incapable of writing something without banter, so thank heaven it works :p

    Heh, my father spent decades as a house painter, so I'm well acquainted with the potential pitfalls there :p I really do love writing these characters in more ordinary situations. We get all sorts of life-or-death issues in the books and movies and shows, and meanwhile I'm wondering how they handled things like picking paint colors :p I'm very glad you liked it! :D
  12. mayo_durron_666

    mayo_durron_666 Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Nov 26, 2005
    Well.. this was an utter joy to read. [face_love]
    I was smiling throughout but this part made me laugh out loud! [face_laugh]

    And the inventive names for the paints were so good! Black caf! Mon Calamari Coral! [face_laugh] Too funny!
    A brilliant glimpse into the early married life of Luke/Mara, I felt their frustration, decorating ain't easy for everyone.
    Great banter in this too! Just a lovely scene. :) Thanks for sharing it.
  13. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Aw [face_blush]

    Not an association either of them would want, for varying reasons :p Those paint swatches are tricky!

    Heh, I don't feel like I can take any real credit for those; my father spent years as a contractor painting houses and apartments, and my sister and I grew up looking at those giant swatch book/fan decks for fun. There's always an espresso, a Caribbean coral, a shiitake, etc. I just Star Wars-ified them :p

    I do always enjoy writing everyday life for these characters. The profic gives us lots of drama and conflict and galaxy-shaking events, but not so much with the ordinary stuff. I couldn't write a dogfight or a lightsaber duel if my life depended on it, but I love writing character studies and conversations. And banter. I do love me some banter :p Thanks so much for reading and letting me know you enjoyed it :D