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Beyond - Legends Stronger Still (L/M, SJRS Holiday Challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ginchy, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    Title: Stronger Still
    Author: ginchy
    Timeline: 18 ABY, 23 ABY.
    Disclaimer: I don’t own Star Wars, very sadly. But I do own a lot of SW stuff, so I have given my dollar to the cause. ;)
    Notes: Written for the SJRS Holiday Challenge. I started this fic last year and this year added in the challenge details, so hopefully it’s not too wonky. I must say a huge thanks to taramidala for all her advice and encouragement!

    The Challenge details:Write a fic where Luke and Mara are celebrating the holidays. It can be in any time frame, AU or canon and any length. You must include:

    - Horrible weather (check! Hinted at if you squint.)
    - The phrase "Do you remember when..." (check!)
    - A holiday tradition/event that is unique to YOUR family (check! My Granny always used to talk about Santa Claus as if he were real, thus all the Preeni Pi mentions.)
    - A reference to something that has happened to YOU this past year. (check! 10 year wedding anniversary is mentioned).

    18 ABY

    Luke gripped a glass of bubbling champagne, and nodded with a half-smile at Leia as she raised her own glass in a kind of salute. She looked happy and relaxed, the smile on her face welcome after the year they had faced. After too many years of battles and Imperial uprisings, it was nice to take a breath and to be together. Or at least that was what Leia had said when she had encouraged him to show up at the party she and Han were hosting on Midwinter’s Eve. She now had the time to do that sort of thing, now that Gavrisom was filling in the rest of her term as Chief-of-State.

    It was nice to see her relaxed and to see many of their old friends, too many of whom he only saw in the heat of some new battle. His jungle moon wasn’t conducive to visitors, and often he found that he liked it that way. On Yavin IV he could remain a part of the galaxy but not of it, as he had heard claimed of him on the HoloNet. There was a common perception that he was locked away, contemplating the universe when he wasn’t welding his saber against a new foe. And if that was the case, he didn’t have much time for contemplation.

    Luke made a face and quickly took a sip of his wine to hide it, trying to clear his mind of any melancholy. There was a feeling of magic in the air around him, the glittering lights and soft holiday music seeking to lure him into a happy calm.

    “Hey, Kid.” Han clapped him on the shoulder. “You look like you’re expecting a trial by fire.”

    “Aren’t we always?”

    Han chuckled. “Yeah, Junior. But I blame you for that.”

    “Me?” Luke shook his head. “The difference is that trouble finds me. You seek it out.”

    “Except that time in Mos Eisley when an old hermit and a farmboy found me. And look at all the trouble that’s caused me.” Han’s trademark smug grin was interrupted when Leia tucked her arm through his, with a radiant smile.

    “What are you two talking about?” Her hair was up in braids and her white dress was classic Leia.

    Luke smiled at his sister. “Han was just telling me how much trouble you cause him.”

    Leia’s grin faded to a fake scowl. She rolled her eyes and nudged her elbow into Han’s side. “Nerf-herder!”

    “Hey now—” He made a show of rubbing his ribs. “Be nice, Princess.”

    Her grin came back, mischievous now and Luke knew before she opened her mouth to speak that three was about to become a crowd. “I’m going to go say hello to Winter,” he said, side-stepping away. Han and Leia didn’t notice, and though he smiled to see how happy and in-love they were, he couldn’t stop the pang of maybe jealousy or regret in his heart. Most everyone at the party had shown up in pairs. Winter and Tycho had just married, and they were standing in a small group with Wedge, Iella and Lando bright expressions of happiness on their faces. Even Lando had a wife now, a partner in life as well as his business ventures. Luke was glad for his friend, especially after all they had gone through to find Lando a wife.

    He had meant to congratulate Winter and Tycho again on their marriage, and smiled warmly at them, not wishing to interrupt their conversation. But Winter drew him into a hug as he neared, making the decision for him.

    “Hey, Boss,” Wedge said, clapping him on the back as Winter released him. “Nice to see us all in one room without a common foe, hm?”

    “Well, Wes is still here,” Luke jibbed, playing along. From the corner he heard Wes snort indignantly but he was grinning and elbowing Hobbie.

    The group laughed and mingled but Luke felt somewhat out of place, even among his old friends. He was planning to make an excuse to leave when Lando’s new bride, Tendra Risant, bustled up, a gleam in her eye. She kissed Lando’s cheek.

    “It’s settled! I just got off the comm with Karrde and we’re good to begin shipping in the new year.”

    Luke was caught by the mention of Karrde. He hadn’t seen Mara since they’d been on Drall in the aftermath of Centerpoint. He wondered how Mara had been since their last contact. If he closed his eyes he could picture her smiling as she watched his nephews and niece play. How rare it was to see her smile. He wondered if she were smiling somewhere this night.

    Finding that he was out of smiles, he realized he was ready to leave, ready to head back to the quiet darkness of his apartment. Breaking from the group, he found an animated Artoo standing with Threepio and a few other droids, he couldn’t help but let out a frustrated laugh. Even Artoo seemed to be having more fun than he was.

    “I’m going to go on home, Artoo.” He patted the little droid’s head. “Leia won’t mind if you stay here.”

    Artoo beeped happily, spinning in a circle. Someone had placed a garland of lights on his dome and he looked very festive.

    “Leaving so soon, Boss? Even when you came with the prettiest date?”

    Luke’s back stiffened at Wes’s joke from behind him, but he forced a laugh. “Yeah, gonna head on.” He turned and watched as Artoo continued his spinning, moving around Wes. “You can dance with my ‘date’.”

    “What’s with him?” he heard Wes ask Artoo as he walked away.

    As the door slid closed on the holiday merriment behind him, he wondered that same thing about himself.


    He didn’t bother with the lights when he got back to his apartment. He was comfortable with walking through the shadow and the warm glow of lights from his landing pad. Even with reflective transparisteel the lights from passing speeders ensured that it would never truly be dark in a Coruscanti apartment, unless shields were used at the windows.

    Stepping into the kitchen, he made himself a cup of caf, leaning against the counter and allowing the thrum of life flow through the Force around him. He could remember that as a kid on Tatooine he had often felt the joy of a holiday differently than his friends or family had, and now he knew it was because he was experiencing the concentrated emotion of the sentients around him.

    How well he could remember those meager holidays on Tatooine, when Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen would put in an extra few hours of work to make sure he had a few presents and treats. As a small child he had always been so excited for the holidays, and very grateful for even the smallest of toys. Children on Tatooine didn’t believe in the holiday fairy, or write letters to Preeni Pi. They knew the cost of each trinket, the sweat and dehydration behind every new bauble.

    Even knowing that cost, he could also remember being a sulky teenager, embarrassed over the homespun clothing his aunt had made. He made a good show of it, not wanting to let her know. He hadn’t wanted to hurt her feelings. He had just wanted more. Had wanted away from Tatooine and dried up harvests.

    “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” he murmured, setting his mug on the counter.

    With a sigh, he slipped into his bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed, staring out at the speeders as they passed, trying to break himself out of his melancholy. Too many thoughts were jumbled in his head of late, thoughts of his own power and place in the galaxy. The doorbell buzzed just as he was lying back against his pillows, and he frowned, reaching out with the Force to figure out who was at his door. But he could sense no being at the door, and opened it to find a droid with a package.

    He accepted with his thumbprint and thanked the squat droid, who raced off down the hall as the door slid shut. Luke’s brow furrowed as he studied the small package. It listed only his address and not a return one. Opening it, he found a holodisk but that only made him more curious. If someone had a holocording to send him, why not just share it with his datapad?

    Sitting at his HoloNet terminal, he placed the disk in the drive. It started immediately, no greeting or explanation. It appeared to be an old news recording.

    “...on Coruscant. The Jedi feel that there is no need for alarm, and the extremists are standing down on many worlds. Thanks in no small part to the Hero With No Fear, Jedi Anakin Skywalker, with whom we managed to speak...”

    Luke’s eyes widened. “Father?” He turned the volume up and watched as a young man’s holo was beamed in place of the reporter that had been standing there before. He barely had time to take in his young father’s appearance before the reporter spoke, asking him about the outer rim sieges and how the Jedi were handling them.

    Anakin’s eyes narrowed and he nodded as he answered, his hair whipping around him as he stood in the overhang of a building, dark clouds gathered behind him. “The Jedi have them well in hand. But I cannot speak to the individual struggles each Jedi is personally facing.”

    The reporter chuckled. “Well, they hardly need to fear when you’re on the mission.”

    A look like pride flashed in Anakin’s eyes, before he ducked his head and half-smiled, running a nervous hand through his hair, trying to tame it from the wind. “A Jedi alone can’t win this war. A Jedi alone is powerful, yes. But when he relies on his fellow Jedi, he is stronger still.”

    The transmission cut out on a shot of Anakin’s face, and Luke yelped before he could stop himself. He didn’t want the recording to stop. Pushing play again, he hoped that there would be more to the recording, even if the mere seconds of footage that he had just witnessed were more than he ever hoped to have of his father. He was greedy for more. But the recording was finished. He immediately replayed it, watching more for Anakin’s face, to watch the way his eyes darted, and his mouth moved.

    Luke saw himself in Anakin. The tilt of his head, the blue of his eyes. But when Anakin ducked his head and half-smiled, Luke saw Leia, and his heart thudded in his chest. Without thought, he headed to the HoloCom station and tapped in his sister’s number.

    She answered after many long minutes, a quizzical smile on her face. “Luke? Are you all right? We were worried after you left.”

    He smiled at her. “I’m fine. Better than fine right now, actually. I got your gift. I’m surprised you didn’t want us to view it together. But thank you. I really needed it.”

    Leia shook her head. “What gift? I have your gift here. Did you take it from my closet?” She turned from the monitor as if she were going to chastise Han.

    Luke laughed. “No, no. This one was on my doorstep. Delivered. The Holo recording?”

    Brow furrowed, Leia opened her mouth to answer before a crash that he couldn’t see caused her to turn to look out of his view. “Han Solo!”

    Luke used his hand to hide his smile as he heard Han’s faint “It’s not my fault” from off-camera.

    Leia rolled her eyes as she faced him again. “I need to go and kill my husband. But, Luke, I didn’t send you anything. Your gifts are here for you to open with your family, just like they are every year. Okay? I love you.”

    He smiled. “I love you, too.”

    Breaking the connection, he leaned back in his seat. If Leia hadn’t sent the gift, who had? And what was the message in it? He cast about in the Force trying to feel the intent of the person that had sent the package, but came up empty. He played the holo again, looking at young Anakin in awe. He seemed so sure of himself, every inch the Jedi. And yet… The reporter seemed so sure of Anakin, as if he were the only savior of the galaxy.

    That was the same way reporters spoke to him, he realized. When a Jedi was needed for any problem, any uprising, any diplomatic measure, he was asked for. And he went. It was, after all, his job a the last of the Jedi.

    First of the new, he heard in his mind, whispered in Obi-Wan’s crisp tones. Not the last of the old Jedi, Luke. The first of the new.

    Luke let the holo play again, and listened to his father’s message.


    23 ABY

    Luke gripped a glass of bubbling champagne only long enough to hand it off to Mara, who gave him a half-smile of thanks as she took it from him. Midwinter’s Eve and Leia was throwing another party, the first one she’d been able to have in a few years. But now that the elections were over and Fey’lya had taken over as Chief of State Leia had more time to herself. Marginally more time, she said with a put-upon sigh, but to see her and Han laugh with so many of their friends, and feel so relaxed in the Force made Luke realize that his sister needed a break.

    “She’s not the only one,” Mara said, bumping him lightly with her hip. “The two of you never stop working.”

    Luke raised an eyebrow and bumped Mara right back. “You’re one to talk, Ms. Jade.” He swiped her glass and took a sip, and then eyed her over the rim. “Or is it Mrs. Skywalker? I forget sometimes.”

    “Hm.” Mara tried to squash a smile but wasn’t quite successful. “I’ll remind you later, Farmboy.”

    “And I’ll take you up on that.” He placed a hand at the small of her back, guiding her toward the buffet. “In the meanwhile we can eat, drink and be merry.”

    She looked back at him with a dubious expression. “I don’t do ‘merry’ so well, Skywalker.”

    He grinned. “At least you agreed to be ‘married’.”

    Mara groaned. “Sometimes I wonder why.”

    “I’ll remind you later,” he said, stealing her line.

    “Cute.” But she was smiling that half-smile again. “How many years has it been now? Two, three?”

    “Ten,” he joked, hiding his own smile. He picked up a plate and added a few hors d'oeuvres to it.

    “A little ahead of yourself there, buddy boy. Even with all the time we’re apart I can remember what we’ve been married three years. Almost four.”

    “Your memory astounds me.” He held out the plate in offering.

    “Only my memory?”

    “I’ll remind you later,” they chorused together, laughing.

    “What’s so funny?” Han picked a canapéoff the plate Luke was holding.

    “Luke’s going to run off with Preeni Pi and start a toy workshop.” Mara took a sip of her drink.

    “Trade in the lightsaber for a candy cane?” Han pretended to size Luke up. “I could see it.”

    “He would make a great holiday elf,” Leia said, coming to stand beside her husband. “But maybe a little tall.”

    Han snorted. “There’s a first time for everything.”

    “Ha. Ha.” Luke was grinning, though. “I’ll have Preeni Pi put you on the Naughty list.”

    “Been there, done that.” Han grinned his roguish grin. “Just ask Her Worship.”

    Mara made a face. “I think that’s our cue to give these two some privacy.”

    Han and Leia laughed, but didn’t dispute her. Mara pulled Luke away, stopping next to Artoo. “What’s up, Short Stuff?”

    Artoo had a glittering string of lights around his dome.

    “Who keeps dressing you up, Two?” Luke looked around to see Wes stuffing a string of lights back onto the Festival Tree. “I see,” he said to Artoo’s beep. “Good job, Wes.”

    “Just fancied him up a bit. He was in the corner, sulking. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was jealous of your new date here.” Wes pointed at Mara, and pretended to rear back in fear when she narrowed her eyes at him.

    “He shouldn’t pout. It’s unbecoming in a droid. Besides, I think he spends more time with Skywalker than I do, anyway.”

    Luke hid a laugh in a cough, but Wes laughed outright. “That’s a sad commentary on married life, you two.” He pretended to study Luke for a moment. “But I will say this one’s in a much better mood than he was at the last party Midwinter holiday party I attended with him.”

    Mara grinned like a pitten with cream. “Oh, really? Do tell.”

    “Wes, I think I hear your date calling,” Luke said, pointing toward the door.

    Wes whirled around. “What date--” He looked down at Artoo. “Oh.”

    Luke dragged Mara away this time, leading her out onto the balcony, smiling at her in the glow of tiny, twinkling lights and passing speeders.

    “What was that about?” She jerked her head toward the door.

    “Nothing, really. Just a time in my life I’m not too proud of.”

    Mara left a half-smile tug at her lips. “Were you being whiny, my love?”

    Luke sighed. “Maybe. It…. Do you remember when you sent me that holocording of my father?”

    “I do remember, but how did you know that I sent it?”

    Luke touched the side of his head. “There’s not much I don’t know about you now...and I never thanked you for that.”

    Mara looked slightly uncomfortable. “I’m not sure what I was telling you with that.”

    “I think you do know,” he said, taking her in his arms. “You were telling me what I needed to hear. I was already doubting certain things, and Anakin’s words...just seeing him, helped me to put a lot of things into perspective. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of things had changed in my own mind before I got the holocording.” With a grin, he chuffed her shoulder. “And your choicy words in the Nirauan caves.”

    She rolled her eyes at him, but he pulled her closer and nestled his head into the curve of her neck. He kissed the warm hollow gently, sending a pulse of love over their bond. “It all lead me here, to this night, with you.”

    Mara cupped his face in her hands, kissing him. When she pulled back, she leaned her forehead against his. “You’re such a sap, Skywalker.”

    Luke kissed her nose. “You’re the one who married me, Mara.”

    “I think it’s time that you reminded me why.” She looked toward the door. “Think we can sneak out?”

    “Mara, in that room are the best Jedi, politicians, smugglers and droids in the galaxy.”

    “So you’re saying we can slip out unseen...and leave Artoo for Wes to babysit?”

    Luke grinned, and grabbed her hand. “I think you mean leave Wes for Artoo to babysit. Artoo will be very upset when he comes home in the morning.”

    “But I’ll be very happy tonight.”

    “It’s Midwinter’s Eve. You’re supposed to be happy.”

    “Mmm, but I plan on you being the one to make me happy.”

    Luke used his hold on her hand to pull her close, but resisted the urge to kiss her. “Let’s go.”

    Neither would be sure if they have been seen leaving the party, to celebrate the holiday in their own way, nor did they care.

    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Woot! I'm actually first! [face_dancing] What a contrast in moods from the first occasion to the second. [face_love] Luke's feelings throughout -- awww! [:D] Bravo for Mara sending him the holo. :) And their love and banter in the latter scene -- SQUEEEEEE! Wistful out-of-placeness becomes wholeness and belonging. YES!


    and thanks for sharing.
    ginchy likes this.
  3. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 18, 1999
    Oh, it's here! You know that I think it's lovely. The contrast between the first and second piece, the call back to "Comfort and Joy"..I adore the thought of her helping him, anonymously, and what a gift! And the thought of Artoo having to babysit Wes is too much.

    I love and, as always, you're welcome. :)

    Sent from my SCH-I415 using Tapatalk
    ginchy and Nyota's Heart like this.
  4. JediMara77

    JediMara77 Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 5, 2004
    I looooooooooove it. Yay for holiday Luke and Mara fics!!! :D

    The image of Artoo draped in lights makes me want to go drape lights over the one in my office, LOL. Festive indeed.
    ginchy and Nyota's Heart like this.
  5. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Chosen One star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Beautifully done! That was sweet of Mara to send Luke that gift. You did a great job with this holiday challenge. I couldn't bring myself to do the Challenge. The Christmas season is always depressing for me.

    Nice job! =D=
    Demendora and ginchy like this.
  6. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 25, 2010
    Oh yay. I love ginchy holiday LM fics! That was beautifully done and very sweet!
    Demendora, ginchy and Nyota's Heart like this.
  7. Demendora

    Demendora Jedi Knight star 2

    Apr 9, 2010
    It's wonderful, sweet and heart-warming New Year story! I can imagine Mara wanting to give Luke something so precious, but being Mara, she decided to do it anonymously. Luke feels so depressed at the beginning, but we all know that at that moment he already had someone, who loved him.
    Jedi_Lover, ginchy and Nyota's Heart like this.
  8. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    This is fantastic, Ginchy! I love the symmetry, the way you show how Luke has evolved and grown. Mara and his love for her have filled the empty, aching place he had.

    Brilliant use of the news footage to make the connection between Anakin and both Luke and Leia, to show Luke that he is part of a long one of people who have faced the same challenges. Yet he has the unique freedom to solve those challenges in his own way.

    As always, you are exactly on point with your characterizations. Luke used his hand to hide his smile as he heard Han’s faint “It’s not my fault” from off-camera.

    Lol! So in character! I find EU Han hard to write, but you nailed it perfectly.

    This is fabulous, girl. Excellent, excellent writing!
    ginchy and Nyota's Heart like this.
  9. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    That was wonderful and oh so sweet, and I so needed it. [:D] ginchy
    ginchy and Nyota's Heart like this.
  10. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 27, 2005
    Love this! Love Mara sending Luke the holorecording, love their banter, love Han, Leia and the Rogues, just love it!!
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  11. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    Was tooling around and saw this and realized I'd never done any 'thank you' replies!! Baaaaaaaaad ginchy!!

    Nyota's Heart: Thanks! You’re so right in pegging the first part as wistful and the second part being about belonging.

    taramidala: Thank you, lady!! I loved ‘Comfort & Joy’ and wanted to do something like that from Mara’s side. I’m glad it finally came to fruition!

    JediMara77: I need a lil’ Artoo to drape in Christmas lights. It would make the holidays all the brighter. Thanks, lady!!

    Jedi_Lover: Thank you, gal. I love holiday fics. But I know they’re not everyone’s thing. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas this year.

    Briannakin: Thanks! You know I can’t let the holidays pass without a ginchy-fic!!

    Demendora: You’re so right. I definitely think Mara fell before Luke did. Thanks so much, gal!!

    divapilot: Thank you, lady!! I love trying to get those little character things in there. I’m glad that one rang true!!

    Hazel: Thank you!!

    JadeLotus: Thanks, gal!!! The party atmosphere reminds me somewhat of our MOAM.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  12. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Dec 10, 2005
    How did I miss this??? Love every inch of it, girl! You set the L/M standard!

    ginchy likes this.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    I know that's right, certainly the one I hold to. [face_love]
    ginchy likes this.
  14. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    JP & NH, thank you both muchly. [face_love] [:D]
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  15. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Dec 10, 2005
    No, thank YOU!
    ginchy likes this.