Beyond - Legends The Big Date (L/M, OTP Challenge #19 Romcom In Space)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Gabri_Jade, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Title: The Big Date
    Author: Gabri_Jade
    Timeframe: Beyond Legends, several months after Union
    Characters: Mara Jade, Luke Skywalker, Shada D’ukal, Talon Karrde, various Wild Karrde crew
    Genre: romance, fluff, friendship

    Summary: A newly-married Mara has some time off coming up. The crew of the Wild Karrde want to make sure it’s memorable.

    Notes: This is in response to the OTP Challenge #19: The Return of the Romcom… In Space! My required elements were “word gets around” and “boss(es).” Endless thanks to @ViariSkywalker for her beta work and encouragement [face_love]

    “So, Mara,” Dankin began, his voice brimming with mischief. “Heard you’re off next week. Headed to Coruscant, are you?”

    Mara looked at him coolly. That, of course, was hardly a surprise. Shada had been training with Mara for six months and had yet to see the smallest of cracks in the woman’s composure. Between that and the stories she’d heard of Mara’s combat skills, Shada rather thought that she’d have made a good Mistryl.

    “What’s it to you?” Mara asked, an eyebrow arching slightly.

    “Well, you know,” Dankin said. “It’s been—what, a month since you’ve seen Skywalker?”

    “Shockingly, I do know how to read a calendar,” Mara said, leaning down to check the copilot’s board in front of Shada.

    “We just want to make sure you have a—” Odonnl cleared his throat. “Memorable reunion. That’s all.”

    “Your concern for my personal life,” Mara said with the slightest of emphasis, “is touching.” She straightened, and sent a calmly forbidding look at Odonnl. “Also unnecessary.”

    [Had you seen Chieftain Jade’s skill with a lightsaber as I have,] H’sishi put in, [you would not now joke about matters which are none of your concern.]

    Mara sent a quick but genuine smile toward the Togorian. “Bringing a lightsaber into it might be an overreaction.” Odonnl opened his mouth, then closed it again as Mara pinned him with a glare. “But only a slight one. H’sishi, can you take this station for a while? As long as everything’s running smoothly up here, Shada and I should really get to work on those accounts.”

    [I obey,] H’sishi mewled, and Shada rose to follow Mara from the bridge.

    “When did H’sishi see you with a lightsaber?” Shada asked, as they headed toward Mara’s office.

    “Long story,” Mara replied, with the faintest hint of the smile she’d given H’sishi. She glanced sideways at Shada. “Talon hasn’t told it to you?”

    “No,” Shada said, trying to smother the twinge of self-consciousness the question evoked, and hoping that Mara’s Jedi senses weren’t picking up on it. “Is there a particular reason he should have?”

    Mara shrugged. “Aside from it being a good story, and the fact that everyone else on this is ship gossiping about my personal life, so why not him too? Probably not.” They reached the office, and Mara pressed the panel to key the door open. “It was when I first met H’sishi, and got the Jade’s Fire. I’ll tell it to you someday. But for now, let’s get these numbers sorted. Because those nerfs on the bridge are right about one thing: Next week belongs to Luke and me, and I am not delaying it over some accounting error. I want everything in order before we rendezvous with Talon tomorrow.”

    At dinner that night, Mara was notably absent.

    “She’s eating in her cabin and calling Skywalker,” Chin explained. “She does that sometimes.”

    “Because she’s in love,” Dankin added, a sing-song note to his voice.

    Shada frowned at him. “I would hope so. She is married to him, after all.”

    “Sure, and look how long it took them,” Odonnl pointed out. “Everyone knows they spent the last decade dancing around each other. Right, Chin?”

    “They did work well together from the beginning,” Chin allowed.

    “Then why did it take them so long?” Shada asked, curious despite herself.

    “Some people are just clueless about things like that,” Dankin said, a glint in his eye.

    “See, that’s the thing, Shada,” Odonnl put in. “This is good for Mara. But she’s no good at relationships. If she was, would it have taken her ten years to lock Skywalker down?”

    [Again I remind you of Chieftain Jade’s skill with a lightsaber,] H’sishi said, the shadow of a growl in her voice. Whatever the story of their meeting that Shada had yet to hear, clearly Mara had H’sishi’s undying loyalty.

    Dankin waved a hand dismissively. “She’s not here, is she?”

    Shada snorted. “You remember that Mara’s a Jedi, right? She doesn’t need to hear you saying something out loud to know you’re thinking it.”

    “Mara doesn’t pull things from people’s minds,” Odonnl said, shaking his head. “Not without better reason than this.”

    Chin laughed. “And since when has Mara needed to resort to that to see through any of us, hee? Watch yourselves. It’s dangerous ground you’re on.”

    “Nah,” Dankin insisted. “We’re trying to help her. See, Shada,” he said, turning toward her. “Mara and Skywalker are good together. You wouldn’t know to look at her, but this is the happiest we’ve ever seen Mara. We just want to make sure she stays that way.”

    “If you ask me,” Shada said, turning her attention back to her dinner, “the best way to make Mara happy is to stay out of her personal life.”

    Or,” Odonnl said, “we could help them along.”

    Shada narrowed her eyes at him. “What do you mean, ‘help them along’?”

    “They haven’t seen each other in a month, Shada,” Dankin persisted. “They have to have a special first night together, don’t they?”

    “That, I am definitely not getting involved with,” Shada said.

    “Not like that,” Odonnl said, exasperated. “We thought we’d arrange a surprise for them. You know, a fancy date. So they can spend some time alone together. So what do you think it should be?”

    Shada frowned. “Why are you asking me? All of you know Mara better than I do.”

    “You’re a woman, aren’t you?” Dankin asked, in what he surely thought was a reasonable tone. “If it was you, what would you want for a night out with a special someone?”

    Shada felt her face inexplicably warm, and kept her expression steady. “H’sishi’s a woman, too. Ask her.”

    [Human customs are odd,] H’sishi said contemplatively. [Would not a hunt be the obvious romantic choice?]

    Odonnl and Dankin turned identical obvious “you see?” expressions toward Shada while Chin grinned and continued eating.

    “Oh, fine,” Shada said with a sigh. “I still don’t think Mara needs any help in this area, but isn’t dinner the usual thing in this situation?”

    Dankin put his elbows on the table and dropped his face into his hands. “Good thing you’re here, we’d never have thought of that,” he said, his voice muffled.

    “And after the dinner?” Odonnl asked patiently. “Dancing? Theater? Moonlight walk?”

    “On Coruscant?” Shada snorted. “What moonlight? Work with your surroundings. There’s no romantic nature to walk in on Coruscant.”

    “Now you’re talking.” Dankin lifted his head. “Okay, no moonlight walk. So if it was you on a nice romantic evening you’d been waiting for, what comes next?”

    Shada glared at him. “Why don’t you just ask Mara—” Dankin’s raised eyebrows answered the question before she’d finished it, and she sighed again. “Okay, yeah, that’s probably a bad idea. Which,” she pointed out, “just plays into my ‘stay out of her business’ principle. But if you’re going to do this anyway—” Shada gave a moment’s earnest thought to the matter. What would she like?

    Every scenario that came to mind involved someone with dark hair and smooth words and that was not something she was about to admit to anyone here.

    “Mara was a dancer once, wasn’t she?” Shada spoke quickly, before her discomfiture could show. “There are lots of high-class dance halls on Coruscant. Pick one.”

    “Dancing is good,” Odonnl mused. “Lots of closeness.”

    “But a dark theater means furtive hand-holding and all that,” Dankin offered.

    Shada stood abruptly. “I’m full. I’ll see all of you in the morning.”

    She left before anyone could object and stalked to her cabin, her face heated. A close-knit crew was a good thing; it could keep you alive in tight situations, and make everyday life more pleasant.

    And sometimes it was like being trapped in a group of gossipy adolescents.

    And she had better things to think about than silly romantic evening scenarios.

    Of course she did.


    Shada reached her cabin without running into Mara in the halls, for which she thanked every deity the galaxy had to offer, and slipped quickly inside, leaning against the closed door. She liked the crew, mostly. She very much liked the—well, never mind. She wasn’t going anywhere, that was the point, so she’d just have to learn to deal with this sort of nonsense. Mara would be off next week, so there would only be a few more days of “trying to surprise her with a fancy date” silliness. And once they actually did surprise her, Shada would bet heavily that Mara would put a stop to anything along those lines for the foreseeable future, no matter how tolerant she normally was of the crew’s ribbing and kindly-meant interference.

    So. A few more days of gossip and speculation about Mara’s personal life. She’d withstood worse things.

    With a sigh, Shada pushed herself away from the door and began to get ready for bed.

    Karrde, having sorted the shipping issues out of the Elrood system, rejoined them the next day.

    “Any problems while I was gone?” he asked, his observant eyes sweeping around the bridge.

    “None,” Mara replied briskly. “The Adarlon delivery went as planned, Shada and I sorted the snags in accounting, and the instability in the aft turbolaser has been repaired.”

    “Ah, Mara,” Karrde said, with something akin to regret. “What am I going to do without you?”

    Mara snorted. “You’ll carry on exactly as you have for years, expanding the business, implementing new ideas, and looking for ways to con Booster.”

    “‘Con’ is such an uncouth word,” Karrde said mildly. “I prefer to think of it as keeping him from slipping into complacency in his old age.”

    “Please, do mention Booster’s ‘old age’ in front of him before I leave,” Mara said, taking the datapad H’sishi offered her and scanning its contents. Probably the analysis she’d ordered run on the sensor array, Shada thought. “I can’t think of a better going away present than that show.”

    Karrde smiled. “I’ll give the matter some thought. But in the meantime, I do have a surprise for you a little sooner than that. Dankin, set course for Coruscant, would you, please?”

    Behind Mara, Elkin grinned. “That does make things convenient, doesn’t it?”

    Mara didn’t even bother to turn around. “It’s been a while since the exhaust system had an overhaul. Are you volunteering?”

    “Sorry,” Elkin said, but he was still grinning as he turned back to his station.

    “Councilor Organa Solo contacted me and requested a conference regarding some of the details about the nascent joint Intelligence service,” Karrde said, in response to Mara’s raised eyebrow. “Apparently some officials of the Imperial Remnant will be on Coruscant the day before your time off is scheduled to begin, so rather than transferring you to the Starry Ice for transport to Coruscant tomorrow, we’ll just take the Wild Karrde there directly. We’ll get there two days earlier than you would have otherwise. A little extra time off for you, Mara.”

    Mara’s smile was a subtle thing, easily missed by someone who wasn’t paying attention or didn’t know her well. She wasn’t a woman given to broad gestures or overt emotional displays. But if Shada caught the smile, she knew that Karrde would see it too, as long as they’d worked together.

    “That is good news,” Mara said. “As long as you don’t plan on calling for any consultations or anything just because we’re on the same planet. Because I do assure you that I won’t be answering any comms from you until my scheduled day back, regardless of an early start.”

    Karrde chuckled. “I’d expect no less.”

    “That being the case,” Mara said, signing the datapad and handing it back to H’sishi, “if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go call Luke and let him know about the schedule change.”

    “Of course,” Karrde replied, waving a hand.

    The bridge doors had hardly closed behind Mara before Karrde turned toward the others. “Well? Do I really need to ask?”

    Dankin, still tapping coordinates into the helm, grinned. “It’s nothing, Chief.”

    “Just a little teasing, Capt’,” Chin supplied.

    “Incessant is more like it,” Shada muttered.

    “About Mara’s time off with Skywalker?” Karrde shook his head. “Perhaps I should give her a bonus for leaving you all in one piece.”

    “Coordinates laid in, Chief,” Dankin said.

    Karrde inclined his head. “Then by all means, let us be off.”

    The stars stretched to lines before blurring into the abstract blue swirls of hyperspace, and they were on their way.

    Mara joined the rest of the crew for dinner that night, and with both her and Karrde at the table, mercifully Dankin and Odonnl kept their mouths shut about potential romantic scenarios.

    “…so the discrepancy was in the account we set up with Par’tah last year,” Mara was saying. “Shada found it.”

    “Shada does appear to be making herself indispensable,” Karrde said with a smile in her direction.

    Mistryl did not squirm, but Shada ducked her head in seeming contemplation of her meal. “It was nothing,” she murmured.

    “Nothing, she says.” Mara rolled her eyes. “I spent a whole day chasing that error before I brought you in on it, and you found it in an hour.”

    Shada shrugged. “I always liked numbers. Mathematics are orderly.”

    “And useful. Can’t aim a blaster or throw a knife without taking angles into account,” Mara said, a wicked grin tugging at the corner of her mouth.

    Shada returned the grin. “There’s that.”

    She felt more than saw Karrde’s eyes on her, and tried to ignore it. At the other end of the table Dankin nudged Odonnl, who snickered. Mara turned a stern look on them and they subsided.

    “It is comforting to know,” Karrde said smoothly, “that when you leave, Mara, Shada will be able to cover the gaps, as it were. Though of course we will always feel your absence.”

    “Oh, I think you’ll do just fine,” Mara said, reaching for another piece of bread. “Shada’s got all sorts of things covered. Anyway, I hope you’re not thinking that I’m going to vanish into the wilderness or something. Luke and I will probably be hitting you up for information and contacts for the rest of our lives.”

    “And I’ll be happy to give you the discount rate,” Karrde said, his eyes twinkling.

    Mara laughed. “I’ll be sure to tell Luke that. I know he’ll appreciate your generosity.”

    For all her reserve, Mara lit up when she spoke of Luke. Shada felt an odd wistfulness, and glanced at Karrde—only to find him already looking at her. They held each other’s eyes for a long moment, and Shada’s breath seemed to catch in her chest.

    “So, Capt’,” Chin said, breaking the spell. “Heard anything from Gillespie lately?”

    “Not in the last month, no,” Karrde said. Was it only her imagination that made Shada hear reluctance in his voice as he turned away from her?

    She blinked and swung her own gaze away. Across the table, Mara tilted her head slightly, wearing another of her tiny smiles as she watched Shada.

    Shada ducked her head again and didn’t look up from her plate for the rest of the meal.

    It was nearly sunset in the Senate District when the Wild Karrde landed. Karrde had gotten a call as they made orbit and retreated to his office to take it, so Mara oversaw the landing, with Shada taking the helm and Dankin the copilot’s seat. They had just finished the shut down when Karrde reappeared on the bridge.

    “It seems there may be some issues with our upcoming conference, so Councilor Organa Solo—”

    “You can call her Leia, Talon,” Mara said, her voice amused as she turned away from the sensor station.

    “—Councilor Organa Solo,” Karrde continued, raising his eyebrows at her, “requests that I meet her for a working dinner, to see if we can smooth the path.” He frowned briefly. “At a restaurant. Generally when the Solos issue such invitations, they take place at their own home, even if the meeting is more of a political one.”

    “Han’s taking the kids to some show tonight,” Mara said with a shrug. “If Leia needs to meet with you at this hour and Han’s not home, it had better be at a restaurant. He’s the only cook in that family.”

    “Ah.” Karrde’s expression cleared. “Yes, that makes sense. At any rate, I need to leave promptly if I’m to make the appointment. Mara, I assume you’re leaving as well?”

    “You assume correctly,” Mara said, folding her arms and tilting her head. “My husband’s waiting for me.”

    Karrde smiled at her. “Enjoy your time off, Mara. Dankin—” He glanced toward the helm, Dankin’s usual station, and paused as he saw Shada there instead. Their eyes met and the moment stretched—

    Dankin cleared his throat. “Yeah, Chief?”

    Karrde blinked and focused on Dankin, an air of faint and uncharacteristic embarrassment in his stance as he did. “You’re in charge until I get back.”

    “You got it.” Dankin tossed him a loose salute.

    Karrde exited the bridge, and Mara smiled toward Shada, that knowing expression in her eyes again. Shada looked away. “Well, that’s my cue,” Mara said, unconcerned. “I have to get my bags from my cabin, but I’m heading straight out. I’ll see all of you later. Try to keep yourselves in line while I’m gone.”

    Odonnl grinned at her. “A never-ending struggle, that.”

    “Tell me something I don’t know,” Mara said over her shoulder as she left.

    Shada stood, only to have Dankin catch her arm. “You’ve got to go with her.”

    She frowned at him. “What? She’s meeting her husband; I’m not tagging along for that.”

    “Yeah, she’s meeting her husband,” Dankin hissed. “But she doesn’t know where.”

    “You’re not making any sense at all,” Shada said, shaking her head.

    Odonnl leaned into the conversation. “We set it up with Skywalker. She’s supposed to meet him at a fancy restaurant. Mara doesn’t know that. We need you to take her there.”

    Shada stared at them both. “That’s ridiculous. Why doesn’t he just comm her?”

    “It’s a surprise, Shada,” Dankin said with exaggerated patience.

    “Then you take her,” Shada snapped.

    “You heard the Chief. I’m in charge of the ship. I have to stay here.”

    “Don’t look at me,” Odonnl said before Shada could turn on him. “She’d definitely be suspicious if I tried it.”

    “Then H’sishi—”

    “Do you think she knows her way around Coruscant?” Odonnl’s expression was disbelieving. “I don’t think she’s even been here before.”

    Shada sank back down into the pilot’s chair and scowled. “I definitely did not sign up for this sort of thing.”

    Dankin kicked her lightly with the side of his boot, and she glared at him. “She’ll be off the ship in a minute,” he pointed out. “Shada, come on, for Mara’s sake. I know you two are friends, even if you won’t admit it.” He reached in a pocket and came up with a scrap of flimsi with some writing scrawled on it, and shoved it at her. “This is the address. Just get her there. Skywalker’s waiting for her.”

    Shada glared a moment longer, then shoved herself upright again, snatching the flimsi. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

    She caught Mara at the hatchway. “Mara, wait—”

    Mara paused, one bag slung over her shoulder and the other in her hand. “Did I forget something?”

    “No, I— I mean…” Shada floundered, then groaned. “Look, these idiots apparently set something up with your husband to surprise you. I’m supposed to take you there.”

    Mara’s lips twitched. “Is that so?”

    “It wasn’t my idea,” Shada protested.

    “Oh, I’m sure,” Mara said, shaking her head. “You’d have done it with more finesse. Okay, fine, take me to the surprise.”

    The address wasn’t far from their landing spot, and within ten minutes they were at the restaurant’s front door. Mara looked the place over with a practiced eye. “Fancy,” she commented. “It’ll do nicely.”

    “Well, I hope you like it. I’ll see you when you get back.” Shada began to turn away, relieved, but Mara caught her arm.

    “Oh, no,” Mara said. “Not for me. It’ll do nicely for you.”

    Shada felt her forehead wrinkle with puzzlement as Mara all but dragged her into the lobby. “No, I don’t think you understand,” she protested. “They said your husband was waiting—”

    From the lobby, they could see into the dining room, and at the far end, was—

    Shada ducked behind a pillar, Mara’s iron grip on her arm resulting in her being pulled behind the pillar as well.

    “Why is he here?” Shada hissed.

    “Because,” Mara said, her eyes dancing with amusement now, “he thinks he’s waiting for Leia. I know I’m not exactly one to talk, but you two really are slow on the uptake.”

    Shada stilled, suspicion washing over her as she glared at Mara.

    “Don’t give me that look,” Mara replied, completely unimpressed. “Go on; we already paid for dinner. Oh—” She set her bags down and opened one to pull out a small datapad. “Here. First file is tickets to the opera. I think it starts in three hours, so you have time to linger over dinner if you want. I know Odonnl thought dancing was the better idea, but we couldn’t figure out how to get you both to dress up without giving away the game. The opera house will be dark for the performance, and your seats are in an isolated balcony box, so no one will notice you’re not dressed for it.” Mara smiled. “You’ll have to settle for the furtive hand-holding tonight. I do recommend the dancing for next time, though.”

    “You—you—” For possibly the first time in her life, Shada found herself reduced to sputtering.

    Mara actually patted her hand, as though she were a child that needed soothing. “Yes, we set you up. No, Talon isn’t in on it. He’s going to be just as surprised as you were. Go enjoy your evening, Shada.”

    “But Organa Solo said—” Shada stopped abruptly, suddenly feeling every bit as slow as Mara accused her of being.

    “That’s right,” Mara said calmly. “My sister-in-law. It’s good to have friends and relations in high places.”

    “You said her husband was taking the children to a show—”

    “He is. He and Leia both.”

    “Is the entire conference a fraud, too? Did you divert the ship’s itinerary just for this?”

    “Oh, I’m sure Leia will come up with some sort of business to make it worth Talon’s while,” Mara said. “Or at least, something for him to pretend was worth his while. We all know that once you both settle down, tonight will be all he needs to forgive any minor diversions. The Wild Karrde wasn’t scheduled for anything important this week anyway.”

    “You brought the whole ship’s crew into speculation about me and—” Shada leaned against the pillar and covered her face with her hands. Mara took her wrists and pulled her hands away with surprising gentleness.

    “Look,” Mara said, leaning closer. “Here’s the deal. It’s obvious to everyone that you two are attracted to each other. I didn’t need to ‘bring anyone in,’ believe me. They approached me. And I know it’s not fun to have other people speculating about your personal relationships. Maybe you noticed that coverage of my own wedding was a ridiculous media circus rife with actual conspiracy theories. But you know what else I know isn’t fun? Wasting time that didn’t need to be wasted. If Luke and I hadn’t been idiots, we could have had an extra ten years together. Do you really want to be saying the same thing about you and Talon a decade from now?”

    Shada looked at her, glanced around the pillar at Karrde sitting alone at the table across the room, then back at Mara.

    “Go on,” Mara said softly.

    Shada slowly pulled away from the pillar. “But what about you? Dankin said your husband was meeting you here.”

    Mara smiled. “He’s a few buildings over, waiting for me. We have our own plans already set. We’re fine.”

    Shada looked back toward Karrde, still oblivious; then back at Mara, who raised her eyebrows in a surprisingly encouraging look. Shada took a deep breath. “Thanks,” she said, and walked into the restaurant, legs only a little unsteady, catching the surprise in Karrde’s pale blue eyes as he looked up and caught sight of her. She squared her shoulders, clutching the datapad with their opera tickets, and continued on her path until she stood by the table. “Is this seat taken?”

    Luke looked up as Mara approached, his expression and his sense warm. “Hey,” he said as he rose from the bench off to the side of the main pathway.

    “Hey,” Mara replied, dropping her bags and reaching up to wind her arms around his neck. He held her close and Mara let her eyes drift shut as she inhaled his scent. “I missed you.”

    He pulled back to kiss her. “Missed you too. Did you get them settled?”

    Mara laughed. “It took some convincing at the end, but yes. Talon will pretend to be very put out by the whole thing, but the entire crew knows perfectly well that it’ll be an act. Sometimes people just need a shove in the right direction.”

    “Can’t imagine what that’s like,” Luke said wryly, bending over to take her bags.

    “Nope, you’re not carrying both.” Mara wrestled one away from him. “I’m not fragile.”

    “No, you’re not,” Luke agreed, rolling his eyes. “Wildly stubborn, but not fragile.”

    “Too late for regrets,” Mara said cheerfully. “You’re stuck with me now. Did you order the food?”

    “Sent the order in when you came into sight. It should be ready when we pass the place on the way home. The speeder’s parked in the next lot over.”

    He started walking that way, and Mara fell in step beside him. “It’s ribenes, isn’t it?”

    “You like them too.”

    “Luke, we just bought that couch. If you get sauce on it—”

    “I did somehow manage to eat meals without ruining the furniture before you came along, you know. Did you pick a movie?”

    “Oh, you bet,” Mara said, grinning at him. “Luke Skywalker and the Dragons of Tatooine. Something of a vintage film, but still worthwhile.”

    Luke groaned. “Lies. It’s all lies, you know that.”

    Entertaining lies. That’s what movies are, Luke.”

    “You’d better watch out the next time it’s my turn to pick a movie, Jade.”

    “Good luck with that,” Mara said smugly. “Some of us were shadow agents, not poster boys famous for blowing up conspicuous and expensive battle stations.”

    Luke looked at her sideways. “Also, you paid the producers of trash like this to look the other way?”

    “Of course not. I threatened them with lawsuits if they ever so much as mentioned my name. I can’t imagine why the idea hasn’t occurred to you before now.” She smiled sweetly at him. “Either get in on the licensing or threaten to sue them into oblivion, dear.”

    They reached the speeder, and Luke put the bags in the back seat. “Do you think Talon and Shada will have a nice date?”

    “As nice as ours?” Mara slid into the passenger seat. “Not a chance. I’ve been waiting all month for takeout and movie night. But if they’re very lucky—” she leaned over to kiss Luke’s cheek as he took the driver’s seat “—someday they’ll get to the takeout and movie night stage, too. Maybe I’ll tell them about tonight’s viewing choice, to give them a jump-start on the idea.”

    “Don’t you dare,” Luke said, starting the speeder.

    Mara’s laughter was lost in the wind as they headed toward home.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  2. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 9, 2002

    So mine!

    Edit: Back!

    So this is hilarious. It's honestly been so long since I've read TTT or HoT that I've forgotten a lot of the members of Karrde's crew, but this brings them to life for me very vividly. (Definitely about time for a reread of those books, too. :p) I also really enjoyed reading from Shada's POV, something which I've never done. You're just pushing all your writing limits lately, aren't you? ;)

    Love the sing-song delivery. Dankin and Odonnl crack me up, and I can picture all of this perfectly. Still think it's hilarious that everyone has known from the beginning that Luke and Mara were clearly perfect for each other, and also that they definitely had feelings for each other back then, even if they didn't fully admit it to themselves. Oh, EU, you really dropped the ball there. :oops: Good thing we got a fix from Zahn.

    Seriously grinning at these two idiots. And Shada is spot on in her assessment of Mara.

    LOL still cracking up at this line. [face_laugh]

    The sass is strong with this one. :p

    Another great exchange. Karrde is so Karrde here, and I love the mention of his history with Booster. Just one of those tidbits that reminds you of the depth and breadth of the established world. Plus, it's funny!

    Hm, this is very true! [face_thinking]

    Aw, I love Mara lighting up as she talks about Luke. [face_love] Also, Shada and Karrde's lingering eye contact and both of them reluctant to look away... how did you get me to care about this ship, Gabri? Not that I was ever against it, but I never really thought about it much one way or another. They're adorable.

    Mara being all "that's my sister-in-law, first names are cool" and Karrde being all "I'm a professional, Mara, geez, now isn't the time"... [face_laugh]

    Funny, and also a very good rationale! Mara did a good job thinking things through for this little matchmaking attempt. And I do love the thought of Han being the cook of the family.

    I feel like Mara would love having any excuse to say "my husband" at this point. [face_batting]

    The entire exchange between Shada, Dankin, and Odonnl is just priceless, and it's classic romcom (in a good way). They did a pretty good job making their ridiculous plan sound just believable enough that Shada went along with it, but it's definitely a good thing they got Mara involved or this never would have panned out. :p

    So devious! [face_mischief]

    I love this. In-universe, it's a poignant yet blunt yet also kind of gentle (if that makes sense?) pep talk from Mara about not being an idiot when it comes to love. Out-of-universe... well, let's just say that, like Zahn, you do a great job of retconning some of the ridiculous aspects of the EU in a way that makes sense for the characters. But back to the story! I enjoyed Mara being a good friend to Shada and helping her move forward with Karrde. And those two (Karrde & Shada) are so adorable, I can't even. [face_love]

    LOLOLOL OF COURSE. (Stover, you magnificent bastard)

    Netflix and chill! (But like, actual chill, because sometimes you just want to relax and eat takeout and snuggle.)

    Now imagining Mara suggesting this holofilm to everyone Luke knows, and all of those people asking Luke whether krayt dragons actually breathe fire... [face_mischief]:p

    Such a fun little vig, dearest! The twist with the matchmaking was clever, and you used it perfectly! :*
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
    Gabri_Jade, Findswoman and Bel505 like this.
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    I ADORED THIS! The teasing amongst the Wild Karrde crew, the friendship [face_shhh] between Mara and Shada, the sparks between Talon and Shada that no one missed [face_laugh] And :) [face_sigh] the Luke/Mara was exquisitely delightful!

    Thank you for sharing this yummy self-indulgence! :D
    Gabri_Jade and Findswoman like this.
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Hah! [face_laugh] That was absolutely adorable, and great use of both your prompts—Shada and her colleagues think they’re setting up the Perfect Date for Mara and Luke when really it’s Mara who’s set up the Perfect Date for her and Talon! :D (And yes, she would know about the whole “being idiots for ten years” slow burn thing—she’s only being a good friend in trying to save Shada from the same! :p ) And best of all, she and Luke earn their own, even more perfect Evening In with takeout and a goofy movie. (I wonder what he will choose for next time they do this!) Thanks so much for sharing this with the challenge—wonderful work, as always! =D=
  5. LadyPadme

    LadyPadme Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 26, 2002
    Well, here’s me grinning like an idiot at the plot twist I totally did not see coming. That was wonderful! Dialogue, characterization, pace! OMG, I loved it!!! ^:)^[face_dancing]=D=
  6. Leia

    Leia Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Aug 8, 1998
    VIP more like MVP. Another great story!! =D=

    “You’re a woman, aren’t you?” Dankin asked, in what he surely thought was a reasonable tone.

    Odonnl and Dankin turned identical obvious “you see?” expressions toward Shada

    The whole thing was cute and funny. Mara is accomplished at all things, including matchmaking and ensuring people don't repeat her mistakes. :)
  7. mayo_durron_666

    mayo_durron_666 Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Nov 26, 2005
    That was such a fun read! :D

    Loved how it was built up, having us think everyone is preoccupied with Mara and Luke's romantic plans, then it switching to reveal Mara and co were actually setting up Talon and Shada on a date night! [face_laugh] Perfect!

    Great banter between the characters, lovely hints throughout, Shada's feelings towards Talon was carefully alluded to and of course I thoroughly enjoyed Mara and Luke's reunion at the end. [face_love] So ace! =D=
  8. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    I've been looking for time to go through this fic and explain why I love it so much. I'm going to find it! But, until I do, I love this fic very much. :)

    (And like Viari, I never really thought much of Shada/Karrde, but it works so well here!)

    This is so poignant, because they did lose so much time they could have had together. But then we see couple!Luke&Mara and they're so... wonderfully domestic. The Jedi Master and the Emperor's Hand, cuddling up on a couch to watch stupid comedies and eat takeout (mostly so Mara can make fun of him, no doubt)... [face_love]

    And of course the plot was wonderfully done. The misdirect was perfect and it makes re-reads really enjoyable, because all the signs were there and I still missed it!
  9. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Apparently I am :p I'd like to claim deliberate intention of such, but it's just how this story came out [face_dunno]

    I will never fully forgive the EU for that lost decade o_O Or, y'know, the at least three years wasted apart even after their wedding. Or Mara's illness. Or them only having one child (thanks, Salvatore [face_plain]). Or Mara being murdered by the nephew whose life she saved when he was a baby. Stupid EU.

    She totally is. Mara and Shada are very much alike; I think they'd just get each other pretty quickly.

    And to think I almost deleted it :p

    Well, Shada's really not being very helpful, after all :p

    This quick little exchange is honestly one of my favorite parts. Good to know it works :D

    Probably why I'm mediocre at pool, because I suck at math :p

    I feel so accomplished [face_batting]

    lol, I just love the thought of the shifting of Mara's comfort zone here, you know? She started off so well with the Skywalker/Solo family, considering that she wanted to kill Luke and all, but then Luke was an idiot and all that distance built between them over the years, then that Force bonding where all barriers dropped, and not long after she's officially part of that family - there's a whole new familiarity between her and her new family that's going to affect the rest of her life, right down to being amused by Karrde - fairly enough - using Leia's surname in front of the crew. It's not like the entire crew is on a first name basis with High Councilor Organa Solo, after all! But Mara's happiness about her new marriage spills over into happiness about her new family, and makes her tease Karrde about something she'd totally have let pass just a few months ago. Newlywed!Mara is so cute, I love her [face_love]

    Mara knows what she's about [face_mischief] And Han is definitely the family cook. That is an immutable bit of head canon.

    She's only been married a few months, of course she would [face_batting]

    And to think I'm generally indifferent to romcoms :p But since I decided to lean into the concept, I am delighted it worked :D

    I did love that line :p

    Another member of the crew might have danced around the bald facts, but Mara is practical and matter of fact, and she's just going to lay all that out on the table - and since Mara also knows an awful lot about how awkward and hopeful and wary Shada feels right now, she's gentle in her presentation of the bottom line. And Shada is enough like Mara that she'll respond to the bluntness of it. Another thing to be annoyed with the EU over: I really wanted to see some Mara/Shada friendship scenes, and I don't think we ever got a single one *sigh*

    Look, Stover puts something that awesome down, he can't expect me not to use it [face_mischief]

    Yup! They neither want nor need a fancy date. They're perfectly happy to do very ordinary things together. It's the "together" that's the important part, after all [face_love]

    And Luke is simultaneously exasperated and yet so amused by Mara's glee... :p

    Thanks, babe [:D]

    Thanks so much! :D

    Thank you! :D I quite love how my prompts work both ways: Mara is technically Shada's boss, and Shada winds up hearing all this gossip about Luke and Mara, but it turns out that the crew was also gossiping about Shada and Karrde, who's everyone's boss. Symmetry, baby :p Part of the inspiration for the movie section was an old, old fanfic: Stuff, by Gheorghe2. It was one of the first SW fanfics I ever read, and part of it involved Mara ambushing Luke with a truly terrible holo series, Tales of the Jedi. Luke was outraged, then gleeful about returning the ambush when he discovered an episode that featured Mara, who was outraged in her turn. Between that and Stover using the same "absolute trash holos about Luke that drive him crazy" element in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor - well, paying tribute to the idea in a romcom-inspired vig just seemed the natural thing to do :)

    Jieh! [face_love][:D] I wanted so much for that twist to work; you have no idea how pleased I am that it surprised you :D

    My darling! To think of seeing you here again [:D]
    lol, thank you [face_blush]

    No point in anyone else wasting ten years when she's there to tell them how stupid it is, right? Thank you for posting, darling [face_love]

    Thank you! Honestly, I looked at this challenge and thought at first that I'd probably pass it by, but then this idea appeared, and I'm so very, very pleased with how it turned out, so it's been thoroughly delightful to have other people enjoy it too :D

    Thanks so much! :D

    Yay! I wouldn't say it's a ship I'm super invested in, but it's an otp for me in that it seemed super obvious from the beginning that Zahn intended them to be together. And since we really never got to see that progress in the EU, why not fix it :p

    I love writing everyday things :p Plus there's that bit at the very end of VotF where Mara reflects on how she'd missed out on ordinary things in life like stability and security and family, which makes me think that cuddling on the couch with her husband and takeout and a ridiculous movie would be the height of luxury for her. This is the ordinary, comfortable, loving family life she never got to have, and now she does. What appeal could a fancy restaurant have next to that?

    I am so thrilled to hear it, you don't even know :p I'd be pleased with this little story no matter what, but I was so hoping that twist would genuinely surprise people :D
  10. pronker

    pronker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 28, 2007
    Such darn fun to revisit these characters! Here come some quotes:

    It would! It totally would ... for many species.

    The wet blanket of reality :p

    O I can "hear" his character voice. :D

    He's done something like this before, we can tell.

    She felt a combination of happy and clueless and would have blushed if not Mistryl.


    Thank you for writing this!@};-
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  11. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    It made perfect sense to H'sishi! Weirdo humans...

    Coruscant is so pretty onscreen and, imho, would be so utterly terrible to live on. I gotta get on a story where I relocate all the Skywalker/Solo family to a planet that has plants o_O

    Yay! :D Honestly, I don't think I've ever written Karrde before, but he wasn't as tricky to write for as I might have expected. Of course, the fact that I'd just reread both TTT and HoT before writing this probably had something to do with that :p

    It's a ship full of con artists, after all :p

    Fortunately for her a former Emperor's Hand who knows the feeling is there to offer emotional support :p

    Thank you for reading! :D
  12. amidalachick

    amidalachick Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Aug 3, 2003
    This was so much fun! It's got all the elements of a great romcom - friendship, banter, matchmaking schemes - and it's so funny and sweet too. That plot twist was just the perfect way to use your prompts!

    I'm with Shada, I like numbers too! :D Math is awesome so this bit made me happy.

    And then the ending, with all the newlywed Luke/Mara sweetness? Perfection! And I absolutely love that their date is a night in with takeout and awesomely crappy movies. Fancy restaurants and nights out have their place, of course, but on a personal level, I feel like just relaxing and hanging out like that is one of the most intimate things you can do with someone. No pressure, no trying to impress anyone, just being together. [face_love]

    Awesome job on this! =D=
  13. Destiny975

    Destiny975 Jedi Knight star 3

    Jan 18, 2021
    I really like this story! I like all the members of Karrde's crew too.
  14. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    I love re-reading this, because the crew of the Wild Karrde is so obvious and I still missed it!
  15. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Aw! This story was such a delightful gem, in every way. With some good ol' EU favorites (Talon/Shada - Talon/Shada!) and such a quintessentially romcom-tastic plot that was delightful to read from start to finish! [face_dancing] [face_love] =D=

    In particular, I liked -

    You know, I've had similar thoughts myself. Shada and Mara really are two peas in a pod, in more ways than one. [face_love]

    I just could not with this crew all throughout this story! [face_laugh] [face_laugh] Plus, I love how practically logical Shada is in reply. :p

    You know, I started getting suspicious riiiiiight about here . . . [face_whistling] Your build-up was just aces in its payoff!

    H'sishi is the soul of wisdom! [face_laugh]

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl]!

    [face_whistling] [face_mischief]


    Oh but of course. [face_mischief]

    I LOVED this nod to Karrde and Booster's rivalry. Ah, some of the best of Legends at their finest.

    Indispensable, indeed! [face_laugh] [face_love]! I think that by now my penchant for pining idiots in stubborn denial is more than obvious, but it's just so delightful watching couples figure things out. [face_love]

    Aw! I loved this little glance beyond Mara's walls - and Shada's too.

    Great touch! Because he would.


    I could feel the net as it closed in tighter and tighter! Everything culminated perfectly in the end.

    This was beautiful. [face_love] I love how sincere a place this is coming from - both her respect and friendship with Karrde as much as her growing bond with Shada. This crew is her family, even before Luke was, and Mara takes care of her own.

    Plus, Mara being a supper secret softy and all around closet-romantic underneath the reserve she's had to cultivate throughout her life is just too spot on perfect. [face_love]

    [face_laugh] [face_laugh]! I fully approve of Luke and Mara's ideal date night being take-out and a movie. Especially when that movie is a gem the likes of which Luke Skywalker and the Dragons of Tatooine seems to be. I can't blame Mara in the slightest for being entertained. :p

    This really was a gorgeous way to end the story - with a mature and deep bond taking a moment just to be, together, and the start of something new. What more can you ask from a romcom? [face_love]

    Thank-you so much for sharing this with the rest of us, and congratulations on your win! It was definitely deserved. =D= =D=
  16. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Thank you so much! :D I'm still so pleased with that plot twist :p I don't even remember how I thought of it, but I distinctly remember the "oooh, I wonder if I can actually pull that off" reaction once I did :p

    Excellent :D Personally, I'm competent enough with numbers as long as they come with instructions on what to do with them, like in a textbook :p I did just buy a book that bills itself as "a guided tour of math, from one to infinity", though, so maybe I'll learn to like them a little bit more for their own sake [face_thinking]

    I completely agree :D And even though they are still technically newlyweds, Luke and Mara didn't exactly have a normal courtship, you know? Between their decade of history - often involving very not-normal things like breaking into Star Destroyers and life-and-death battles with insane Dark Jedi clones - and the totality of that Force bond on Nirauan, I have to think that impressing each other would be the last thing on their minds. It's the ordinary life stuff that they haven't gotten to do very often, at least not together. So I love the idea that the moments they most plan and look forward to are almost ridiculously mundane.

    Thanks so much! :D

    Thank you! I've gotten quite fond of the crew myself :D

    Cue me grinning like an idiot that I really did manage to surprise people :D

    Thank you! :D We need more Talon/Shada stories, Mira. There's a dire lack. (Vi's going to bounce in here now telling me to write another :p)

    Whhhyyyy did we not get Mara/Shada friendship scenes in the EU? Why? Yet another reason to turn to the fanfic side :p

    I was telling Vi, Chin and H'sishi had just enough page time to glimpse their personalities, but not so with Dankin and Odonnl and Elkin, so it was almost like writing OCs. With that in mind, I'm still surprised by how clearly they spoke to me, considering I'm really not an OC writer [face_thinking]

    :D I tried so hard to lay subtle clues so the plot twist didn't come out of nowhere :p

    I reread Zahn's short story where Mara got the Fire before writing this in hopes of figuring out who exactly the various crew members were, personality-wise - no real luck with the usual members of the Wild Karrde's crew, but I'd forgotten that H'sishi had a reasonable-sized role, and that she had absolute faith that a lightsaber meant a Jedi, and that if Mara was a Jedi, she could handle anything. Between that and Mara's rescuing her from a pretty awful situation, I figured she'd be deeply loyal to Mara, and while Mara was uncomfortable with H'sishi considering her a Jedi at the time, it made sense to me that post-VotF, Mara would have a soft spot for H'sishi because she saw that potential in Mara before Mara herself did. Plus H'sishi really did see Mara impressively mow down a bunch of bad guys with that lightsaber [face_mischief]

    I swear I almost cut that line. Good thing I didn't :p

    They aaarrrreee, Mira, and I love them [face_love]


    Karrde and Booster are, as Luke put it in Survivor's Quest, a matched pair :p

    Pining idiots in stubborn denial is the bread and butter of fanfic :p

    I actually did too [face_thinking] It occurred to me while writing this that I write so much from either Luke or Mara's POV that it was actually a lot of fun seeing them through a different character's eyes :)

    He has appearances to keep up. Mara, now being part of the Solo family and a giddy (for her :p) newlywed, is not quite so supportive of those appearances as she once was. It's most inconvenient :p

    I just love the concept of Han and Luke being the primary cooks of their families. Both of them grew up in ways that fostered self-reliance, whereas while Leia and Mara are supremely capable in so very many ways, they both grew up in extremely elite social circles and never had to learn ordinary domestic stuff. (My headcanon is that Mara eventually learns enough to at least help Luke with the cooking, but Leia is always completely hopeless at it. Han doesn't care because he'd much rather do the cooking his way anyway :p)

    Yay! :D

    Exactly :D Even now, post-Nirauan and being a Jedi and married and much more emotionally open than she used to be, this isn't the sort of thing Mara's going to say to just anyone - but Karrde means a lot to her, and she really likes Shada, and she agrees with the crew that they're a good match, and just as importantly, she knows exactly what Shada's feeling right now. As straightforward and practical as her words are here, there's a lot of generosity in that she's willing to share her own mistakes to help Shada avoid repeating them.

    Plus that Mara's version of being a super secret softy and all around closet-romantic is "Look, here's the deal" :p But for all that she not only went along with the crew's plan but actually facilitated it, she also gave Shada multiple opportunities to open up to her, what with her knowing looks and tiny smiles. If Shada had confided in her, Mara probably would have given her ordinary advice and torpedoed the plan. But since Shada was just soooo stubborn... [face_whistling]

    I picture Mara laughing until she cries, and Luke being simultaneously exasperated with this stupid movie he has to sit through and also happy as can be to see Mara enjoying herself so much, even at his expense [face_love]

    And usually story endings are so tricky :p I gotta find a way to get all stories to pour out of my head as easily as this one did [face_thinking]

    Thank you so much [face_blush]
  17. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 9, 2002
    I mean, the new OTP challenge did just get posted... [face_batting]

    (Also, I am very amused by this image of me bouncing into a thread :p )

    *bounces out*
    Last edited: May 3, 2021