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Beyond - Legends The Jade Chronicles - Jade Despair posted 1/15/16 (L/M, Tahiri)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Stone Jade, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    click on the arrows to go directly to the story

    11 ABY – Jade Apprentice
    During the Jedi Academy Trilogy.
    Mara speaks to Luke after returning to Yavin IV briefly to deliver news of Mirax to Corran.

    13 ABY – Jade Recovery
    One week following Planet of Twilight.
    Luke wrestles with Callista’s departure. Mara visits.

    17 ABY – Jade Waltz
    Two weeks after The New Rebellion.
    Talon Karrde and Mara Jade attend a formal dance commemorating Leia’s return to power.

    18 ABY – Jade Evolution
    Immediately after Showdown at Centerpoint.
    Luke is upset after the death of Gaeriel. Mara tries to cheer him up.

    19 ABY – Jade Revelation
    Bracketing the final chapter of Vision of the Future.
    Luke and Mara are getting married. First, they have to tell everyone.

    19 ABY – Jade Sabre
    One month after Union.
    Luke gives his new wife a present.

    20 ABY – Jade Reflection (SJRS Challenge May 2013)
    About a year after Union.
    Mara, Mirax, and Leia share drinks and stories.

    23 ABY – Attachments
    Some time after Survivor’s Quest.
    Luke wrestles with the idea of Jedi marriage.

    23 ABY – Jade Attachment
    One year after Survivor’s Quest.
    Luke and Mara resolve the Jedi marriage issue. Follow-up to Attachments.

    24 ABY – Jade Reminiscence (SJRS Challenge December 2013)
    A few months after The Crystal.
    Luke and Mara try to celebrate the Festival of Life.

    27 ABY – Jade Despair
    During Dark Journey
    Mara and Luke react to Anakin Solo's death

    27 ABY – Jade Dilemma
    During Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream.
    Mara has to decide whether to accompany Luke to Coruscant or stay behind with Ben.

    29 ABY – Jade Anniversary (SJRS Challenge February 2013)
    Immediately after The Unifying Force.
    Luke and Mara celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.


    Thanks everyone for the 2014 award nominations!

    Best Canon (won)
    Best Series (nominated)
    Best Canon Interpretation (nominated)
    Best New Author (nominated)

    I'm cross-posting these from in the hope of receiving some C&C here. I'll post an additional story every few days. Comments are welcome as this is my first attempt at fan fic and I'd like to improve. Some of the stories may be similar to others that are floating around out there (this is coincidental, I promise - I don't read similar stories until after I've finished mine).

    Basically, these will be a series of stories expanding on the relationship between Luke and Mara, since the details we get (especially during the Bantam era) are a little light. Canon-compliant, for the most part, with some internal canon/self-referential elements. I hope you like the stories.

    * * *​
    11 ABY - During Jedi Academy trilogy and I, Jedi
    Mara speaks to Luke after returning to Yavin IV briefly to deliver news of Mirax to Corran.

    Mara entered the room adjacent to the one where Luke slept. She noticed Tionne sitting quietly in meditation, and briefly considered how to sneak past the woman. It was too late, though, as Tionne opened her eyes, clearly sensing her presence in the room.

    Her greeting was less-than-affectionate. "Mara."

    Mara tried to smile at her, but didn't quite succeed. "Tionne. Can I see him? I wanted to say goodbye."

    Tionne frowned. Mara had always known Tionne to be kind and generous, but all she was sensing from the other woman now was faint anger and hostility.

    Tionne responded. "He's sleeping." Her eyes narrowed. "You're leaving again?"

    Mara was starting to get impatient with her, and snapped a bit. "I was just passing through. Had to drop something off for Keiran, and thought I'd say hello."

    Tionne sighed, and closed her eyes again. "Perhaps you should just leave. You made your choice to abandon him, and to return now only to leave again is unacceptably cruel. Goodbye, Mara."

    The undertones of anger in Tionne's voice shocked Mara. And enraged her. She snapped back venomously. "I don't stay where I'm not needed, Tionne, and all of you made it perfectly clear that you didn't want or need me around here."

    Tionne's eyes opened again, and the transformation in the woman jarred Mara. Suddenly Tionne was no longer angry, just sad and serene. The woman sighed. "You think you were not needed here?"

    Mara set her jaw, prepared to argue. "I know that I wasn't. I had no friends at this place, save for Keiran. And he certainly did not need me here."

    Tionne's eyes narrowed. "Perhaps you did not have many friends among the trainees here, Mara, although that was as much your own doing as ours. But you've left someone out, intentionally or otherwise."

    It was clear of whom Tionne was speaking. Mara huffed. "He didn't need me here, either, obviously. And he certainly didn't care if I was here or not."

    Tionne sighed, and all of her anger faded away. "You are either gravely mistaken or are being deliberately defensive. Your leaving hurt Master Skywalker badly, at least as much as when Gantoris died, and as much as when Kyp left. Perhaps even more so. That much was clear to me, even without the Force. I would not have you hurt him like that again."

    Mara suddenly felt sick. "I want to see him, before I leave. I want to make sure that he's ok."
    Tionne nodded. "I will not stop you from looking in on him. Please do not wake him. He needs to rest." With that she closed her eyes again.

    Mara sighed and quietly opened the door to Luke's room. She nearly gasped as she saw Luke lying there. He looks like he aged a hundred years since the last time I was here. She could tell he was sleeping, and fought off the urge to say something to him. Tionne's anger had stung her.

    She turned to leave, but heard a soft voice behind her. "Mara."

    She turned back to see Luke's eyes open, staring at her.

    Mara winced. "I'm sorry to wake you. I promised Tionne I wouldn't. I was just going to check on you before I left. Go back to sleep."

    She saw only sadness in Luke's eyes. "Why did you come back, Mara, if you're leaving again?"

    She felt a strong feeling of discomfort, but did not lie to him. "I found some information about Mirax, and came to give it to Corran. He told me who he was. I got here right in time to catch the end of the battle."

    Luke settled back again and closed his eyes. She thought he was done talking, but he spoke again a moment later. "So you did not come back because of me?"

    She hung her head, and suddenly regretted having come here in the first place. "No."

    "I see." Luke's voice betrayed little sadness, but Mara got a sense of his anguish through the Force, clearly leaking out through mental barriers made weaker by his battle with Exar Kun.

    Mara sighed. This isn't going well. "I need to go, Skywalker. People waiting on me, and all that."

    Luke opened his eyes again, and looked at her. "Will you not come back, and complete your training?"
    Mara shook her head. "It's clear this isn't working for me, not now."

    "Will you come back some day?"

    Mara looked away for a moment. "I don't know."

    Luke was quiet for a long moment. Finally he responded. "I hope you do, Mara. You will always be welcome here." With that, he closed his eyes again.

    There was nothing left for Mara to say. She mumbled "goodbye, Luke. May the Force be with you," then turned to leave again. Again, a quiet voice stopped her.

    "Mara, one more thing. There's a package with your name on it in the top drawer of my desk. I meant to give it to you a long time ago, but never got the chance. Please take it with you when you leave."

    With that, he settled back again, and this time Mara could tell he was indeed sleeping.

    She walked over to the desk, and pulled out a small box labeled Mara from the top drawer. She briefly considered opening it on the spot, but something inside her kept her from doing that.

    Leaving, she tried again to slip past Tionne without being noticed. Again she failed.

    She hid the package behind her hip as Tionne's eyes opened to look at her. "Did you speak with him?"
    Mara shook her head, lying as she left the room. "No."

    * * *​
    Mara managed to return to her ship without further embarrassing encounters, and ordered her crew to take off before retreating to her quarters.

    She found herself staring at the box in her hand, suddenly apprehensive. Whatever the gift was, it had been important enough for Skywalker to hang on to for 'a long time', and she wasn't sure she was comfortable with that type of gift. Luke was sometimes overly-sentimental, and she had little use for that emotion.

    She sighed as she tore the box open, then frowned as she discovered a simple holo, an unremarkable and unadorned model. Quietly she thumbed it on, and her eyes snapped open in surprise.

    It was a picture of her and Luke together. She had no idea who had taken the holo, but she recognized the scene instantly. Coruscant, right after the end of the Thrawn campaign. In the holo she and Luke were talking about something, and Mara was instantly mesmerized by the serene smile she saw on her own face, at that time only two years ago.

    So much had happened since then. Luke looks so much younger in this picture, but I don't look much different. Except for the smile. Mara realized she hadn't had occasion to smile very often, in the short years between then and now. Luke had survived a great deal of darkness recently, first with C'baoth, then with the Emperor reborn, then most recently with Exar Kun. Mara couldn't quite admit to herself that her life since then had been equally dark.

    She glanced over at her bag, still packed after her rush to leave Yavin 4. In it was her lightsaber, the one that had belonged first to Anakin Skywalker, then briefly to Luke. Mara had been shocked at Luke's gesture at the time, and the years since then had not particularly diminished that shock. That lightsaber had been perhaps the most touching gift anyone had ever given her, and she had not initially wanted to accept.

    After all, she hardly deserved it. Sure, she had helped out with C'baoth on Wayland, even perhaps saving Luke's life in the process. Yes, she had given up killing him, and had maybe even started to like him and admire him. But all that didn't make her worthy of taking Luke's only physical link to his father away from him, especially since everything she had done had been for her own selfish reasons.

    Luke hadn't seen it the same way. He had given her the lightsaber because he respected her, because he trusted her. And, she knew, because something in him had told him that it was right. That the lightsaber was something she needed to have, for reasons neither of them had known, or indeed even still did know.

    She and Luke had become friends, after Wayland. Maybe friends wasn't even a strong-enough word. Looking at her smile on the holo, Mara realized that Luke had been the best friend she'd ever had, then, when that picture had been taken. Her confidant, her savior. The only person in her life who had trusted and respected her implicitly, even as she threatened over and over to kill him. He had seen something in her that no one else had ever seen.

    Something, over the course of the past few years, had changed him. They were no longer close friends. In fact, they were barely even friends at all. The man she had respected, admired, even loved to the extent that she was capable, was gone. She suddenly found herself wondering if the Luke she had known would ever come back, and fearing that he would not.

    She sat quietly, staring at the holo for a long time.

    A deep sadness welled up in Mara as she thought about her last exchange with Luke. Will you come back some day? I don't know. I hope you do, Mara. She knew she didn't feel needed or wanted at the Academy, but she knew that was only an excuse. She didn't know if she would come back because she didn't know how to cope there, without Luke. Without the Luke she had known, the one who had been transformed somehow into a stranger.

    She closed her eyes, her decision suddenly made. Yes, Luke. Someday, I will come back. When you do.

    She thumbed the holo off and, setting it aside, lay down on her bed. She hoped for a quick descent to sleep, but something happened then that had not happened for a long time.

    With a heavy heart, and a growing feeling of despair for her future, Mara Jade wept.
  2. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    That was so sad, but well put. I can see their relationship being this way at this stage.

    I'm looking forward to reading more.
  3. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    Thanks for the comment. These will get happier (for the most part) as they go along. The holo will be a recurring theme, though, so I had to start with this one.
  4. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    Very nice missing moment. I like how Mara said that she would come back when Luke did. It will be a while, but worth the wait. They both had so much growing to do individually (and there were lots of books to sell. ;) )
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Kessel Run Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Aug 31, 2004
    Terrific missing moment =D= Welcome to the wonderful JC. @};- :D
  6. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    Ouch, those early Jedi Academy years do seem kind of bleak for Luke in the books and you showed that well here. It's nice to see Mara's point of view on the JA events. Her conversations with Tionne and Luke were sad, but maybe the events will give her something to think on for a while.
  7. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    I've always wished for more of Mara's POV in the books. Even when she became a major character in NJO, we didn't get much of that.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  8. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    It seems like Zahn was the (almost?; it's been a while since reading some of the books) only one to spend much time on her thoughts.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Kessel Run Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Aug 31, 2004
    Kahara, -- this is so. :rolleyes: I too noticed what you mentioned, Stone Jade, about the NJO, even those authors who seemed to have plotting sense seemed to be chary about Mara. Huh? Go figure. :p
  10. EmeraldJediFire

    EmeraldJediFire Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 23, 2012
    That was very touching and heartfelt. I think it's a perfect depiction of those early years of their friendship. Their relationship fluctuated off an on during that time. And I agree with what ginchy said, they were both growing as people and changing...Luke had the academy and Mara was trying to make a new life for herself...their priorities were different so I think it was hard for them to find common ground as much as they genuinely had fondness for the eachother.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  11. Demendora

    Demendora Jedi Knight star 2

    Apr 9, 2010
    There is a very long journey waiting for both of them before their roads melt into one. I loved it!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  12. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I'm glad to find so many fans of L/M here. I'm working my way through LOTF right now, and it's refreshing to go back to a time when their relationship was still developing and the general tone of the stories wasn't quite so hopeless.

    Here's part 2 of my set of stories. There are 10 total (8 of which are complete), in addition to the 10ish chapters I've written of a L/M, Corran/Mirax, Wedge/Iella vacation-gone-bad story set just prior to Survivor's Quest. I want to turn that first story I posted into a novel-length story covering Mara during the Jedi Academy years, but I need to finish the other one first.

    The next story starts off a bit depressing, but ends on a happier note.

    Again, constructive criticism welcomed and much-appreciated.

    * * *​
    13 ABY - One week following Planet of Twilight
    Luke wrestles with Callista's departure. Mara visits.

    "No, Leia, I don't want to talk about it." The edge behind Luke Skywalker's voice was unmistakable, but his sister was not used to being ignored.

    "Luke, you need to talk to someone. I'm sorry that Callista's gone, but you need to move on. You have people waiting for you back at the Academy, and duties to others that are also important."

    Luke snorted. His words were dry, with none of the affection that usually characterized his talks with his sister.

    "I suppose you're telling me you don't want me around."

    "You know Han and I love having you here on Coruscant, Luke, but it's been a week, and you've been moping around the place like you've lost your way."

    Luke sighed. Only a week had passed since his adventure on Nom Chorios had ended. Only a week, since he and Callista had parted forever. The greatest love of his life, her loss of the Force had made their relationship too much to bear, at least for Callista. She couldn't accept that I didn't care, that it didn't matter to me that she couldn't feel the Force. We could have gotten through it together, one way or another.

    Leia privately worried as she watched her brother. She had seen him heartbroken before, many times. Luke had lost his father, had lost Jedi trainees, had lost countless friends in even more numerous battles. Luke had been unlucky in love, too. Too many times to count, fate or his duties had taken him away from someone special. Gaeriel Captison, Tanith Shire, others.

    But this time was different. Nothing could have kept Luke from Callista. Not duty, not time, not distance. Nothing, apparently, but the Force. The Force was with Luke, and it had abandoned Callista. Leia knew nothing she could say would help Luke move on, at least not right away. But to see her brother in this state was intolerable.
    A buzz from the door interrupted her. She looked at Luke, and it was clear he had no interest in answering the door, even though they were in his quarters.

    "Ok, Luke, I'll go see who it is." Leia left the room, crossing the adjacent room to the front door. Opening it, Leia saw the last face she'd expected.


    "Hello Leia. I came to see your brother." Mara Jade was a smuggler, and at least nominally a Jedi-in-training. The former Emperor's Hand had been a solid ally to Luke over the years, but the redheaded woman was antagonistic to the extreme, and Leia was sure that the last thing her brother needed at the moment was to see someone with the degree of hostility that Mara often displayed.

    "Actually, Mara, Luke's not feeling well. Perhaps you could come back at a better time…"

    Mara snorted. "I heard all about it. I also don't particularly care. I'm on Coruscant for another two hours, then I'm gone. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go talk to your brother, not-feeling-well or otherwise."

    Leia and Mara had never been close, and Leia did not trust the younger woman, despite the key role she had played in the Thrawn campaign, and in other situations. Leia found, though, that any objection was useless. Mara had already walked straight past her, and into Luke's bedroom.

    * * *​
    Luke Skywalker looked up as he felt a familiar presence enter the room. Mara Jade. He tried to give her a weak smile, but failed, and noted Mara's blink of surprise at the look on his face. Along with surprise he felt a small wave of concern coming from the woman, although she quickly quashed the feeling.

    "On your feet, Skywalker. I'm on planet for a few hours, and you're taking me to Spacer's to buy me a drink."

    Luke shook his head slowly, then looked away. His voice was as quiet and as sad as Mara had ever heard. "Some other time, Mara. I'm not really in the mood, and I wouldn't be good company."

    Mara snorted again, and walked over to Luke and grabbed him by the arm, roughly yanking him to his feet. "That wasn't a request, Luke. Let's go. Now."

    Luke felt himself practically dragged from the room, straight past Leia. Mara blatantly ignored his sister's protests, and in an instant they were out the door and on their way to the Spacer's Lounge. Neither spoke for the entire walk, and Luke could feel nothing more in Mara's demeanor than hints of haste, determination, and a bit of apprehension.

    Arriving at the bar, Mara marched straight up to the maître de, a modified protocol droid. "Table for two, in the back. Two mugs of ale, and make sure we're not disturbed after that." Luke nearly protested at her tone, but noted that the droid took the orders with good grace. Luke, of course, had not noticed the twenty credit chip passed from Mara to the droid.

    They soon found themselves at a quiet table in the back of the room. Two mugs of ale arrived promptly, and the waiter droid departed. Luke felt very weary, and the hard look in Mara's green eyes did little to calm his nerves.

    Finally her gaze softened. For all of her usual self-assurance, her first words were hesitant. "So, Skywalker, uh…how are you?"

    Luke shook his head, and looked down for a moment. Looking back up, he noted some concern in Mara's features, which was not an emotion she commonly displayed on the rare occasions their paths crossed.

    Finally he replied, softly. "Actually, I've been better, Mara. I suppose you heard about Callista, and you're here to force me to talk about it. Did Leia put you up to this?"

    Mara laughed out loud, a sharp bark of near-amusement. "Skywalker, I would be the last person in the galaxy your dear sister would call. Besides, do you really think I'd make a special trip to Coruscant just to drag you out of your self-pity?"

    Luke's eyes narrowed at Mara's dry retort. "Then why are you here?"

    Mara shook her head. "If you must know, I had to make a quick delivery run, and just happened to be in the neighborhood. I had a short layover here on-planet, and I figured I'd stop by and see if you were in as bad a shape as I'd heard." She chuckled quietly. "I think it's actually worse than I was told, which is not something I would have believed possible."

    Luke didn't even bother asking how she had heard. "So are you here to give me your sympathies, or here to revel in my pain and sorrow?"

    Mara chuckled again, although there was neither joy nor mirth in her laugh. "I stopped reveling in your pain and sorrow on Wayland, Luke, and I'm not here to rub it in or tell you 'I told you so', even though I could."

    Her gaze softened considerably. "Believe it or not, Skywalker, I do care about you. Things haven't been exactly smooth between us the last few years, but I don't like seeing you in pain. Especially needless pain."

    Luke felt a bit of anger at this last, seemingly flippant remark. "I don't want your sympathy, Mara. I know you never liked Callista, but I did love her, and you have no idea what it's like to lose…"

    Mara cut him off abruptly. Her words were quiet, and almost sad. "You're right, Luke. I have no idea what it's like to lose someone I love. Only someone who's ever loved does, and I've never been in love. So you don't want my sympathy, fine. I don't have much sympathy for you anyway. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that you had love like that, and had someone love you as much as Callista obviously did, makes you far more lucky than I'm ever likely to be."

    Mara's words cut through Luke's anger like a vibroblade. The quiet sincerity in Mara's voice washed away the rest of his ire instantly, leaving only his sadness and feeling of loss in their wake. Now, though, those emotions were matched by some concern and sadness for Mara, so heartfelt her last statement had been.

    Luke was silent for what seemed to him like an eternity. He had no idea what to say, and his eventual question didn't help the matter any.

    "What about Lando?"

    Mara winced. It's not the right time to talk about that. She sighed and shook her head. "That's complicated, Luke, but my point still stands. Someday I'll tell you more about that, but we're talking about you right now. I'm not the one moping around the house all day and driving my family crazy."

    Luke looked away again. "You're probably right, of course. But it is hard. My one true love is gone, probably forever, and I can't see a way back to a normal life now."
    Mara shook her head. "What's that thing you're always telling your trainees? 'Always in motion is the future'? Whether Callista was your 'one true love' or not, and whether your relationship with her is over forever or not, you still need to move on." She smirked. "Besides, there are probably trillions of different women on millions of different worlds who would kill to be Mrs. Luke Skywalker."

    This finally cracked Luke's demeanor enough to elicit a small smile. "And a few women who would rather just kill me?"

    Mara laughed at that. "I gave that up a long time ago, Skywalker, even though the thought does cross my mind from time to time. Usually when you're off trying to singlehandedly save the galaxy, and mostly failing miserably."

    Luke's smile broadened a bit. "Or when you have to come rescue me from myself?"

    Mara smiled back. "Just returning the favor. You rescue me, I rescue you, that's how our relationship works, right? Besides, having the great Jedi Master Luke Skywalker owe me one never hurts." She rolled her eyes during this last statement.

    Luke shook his head at her sarcasm, but he had to admit to himself that he felt a little better. His words took on a sarcastic tone of their own. "So that's your great rescue? Coming here and telling me to get over it and get on with my life? That's the same thing everyone else has been saying for the last few days." He took the edge off the words with a small, playful smile, suddenly enjoying the banter.

    Mara just stared at him. "You clearly needed someone a little more convincing to get it through your thick head. Now, go, and get on with your life. Next time I have to come and do something like this, I won't be nearly so kind and understanding."

    Luke's sharp laugh was loud enough to cause heads to turn their way. "Mara Jade, grief counselor and diplomat. Who would have guessed?"

    Mara shook her head and gave him an unreadable look. She looked down at her chrono, and blinked twice. "Blast it, I need to get back. Sorry to drink and run, Skywalker. See you around, and remember, no more self-pity. It's unbecoming." With that, she stood and turned to leave.

    Luke stood too. "Hey…"

    She turned back. "What?"

    Luke gave her a small smile. "Thanks, Mara. Really."

    Mara walked the two steps back to Luke, and gave him a quick hug and, surprising them both, a kiss on the cheek. "Until next time, Luke."

    And with that, she was gone.

    Luke sat back down, and contemplated Mara's words for a moment as he finished his ale. Leaving a handful of credits on the table, he took a deep breath and headed back to his apartment.

    * * *​
    Leia was still there when he returned, obviously fuming. She met him at the door.

    "I'm so sorry, Luke. I should have tried harder to stop her. The last thing you need right now…"

    Luke interrupted her with a smile and a hug. "Don't worry, Leia. There was no harm done. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find Artoo and prep for the trip back to Yavin. Thank you for trying to help me through this past week. I know I've been difficult."

    With that, Luke left a shocked Leia behind as he made his way into his bedroom to begin packing. Leia stood there for a long moment, open-mouthed, as she suddenly found herself reconsidering her stance on Mara Jade.
    Jedi_Lover and Jade_eyes like this.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Kessel Run Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb!!! Characterization and tone for Mara. =D= =D= I eagerly await anything you turn into a novel-length fic and your best-forgotten vacation fic [face_laugh] I love it already ;) [:D] !!
  14. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    Only Mara could get Luke out of his self-pity trip. Great job here!
  15. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    Thanks. I've always thought of Luke as a little melancholy during this part of the timeline. He was doing ok during Darksaber, but then he had a rough few years during Planet of Twilight/The New Rebellion/Black Fleet/Corellian Trilogy.

    Jade-eyes, I'm glad you like my characterization of Mara. I find it funny that it's easier for me to write for her character than pretty much any other, given that I'm a guy. She was created by a man, though, so I guess it's not unreasonable.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  16. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    I like how Mara drags Luke off to talk and is then uncomfortable starting. It seems very like her somehow. Luke is mired in the blues >> must track him down and make him see sense >> wait, this is a feelings thing, what am I doing? But it works anyway, of course. Nice missing scene!
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Kessel Run Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Aug 31, 2004
    :rolleyes: [face_sigh] -- If only Luke knew that Mara is the only lady who can rock his world ... [face_love] [face_love] !!! [face_mischief]
  18. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    I was going to wait until next week to post the next one, but I got impatient. This will be the last one for this week. First, a little about this story.

    There's a stretch of time in the books between Darksaber and the Corellian trilogy where Mara and Luke barely see each other. Pretty much the only meeting is during The New Rebellion when Mara helps to rescue Luke from Kueller. It's not exactly a satisfactory interaction, though, so I wanted to write something to extend that particular storyline.

    Additionally, there's a strange scene in Specter of the Past where Talon Karrde and Han basically are plotting to get Luke and Mara together. There's not really an precedence for this in previous books, so I also wanted to write an "origins" story for their scheming.

    The following story came about as my attempt to combine both of those ideas. It also references the gift of the holo in the first story I posted. Subsequent to writing this, I've read a few other stories about Luke and Mara that have similar themes (dancing, etc.), so I hope this hasn't become too much of a cliche for people. This is one of my longer stories (nearly 5,000 words). Hope you enjoy it.

    * * *​
    17 ABY - Two weeks after The New Rebellion
    Talon Karrde and Mara Jade attend a formal dance commemorating Leia's return to power.

    The last two weeks had been frantic for Han and Leia Solo. The defeat of Kueller on Almania had ended the threat posed by the Dark Jedi to the New Republic, and had allowed Leia to resume her position as President. Han had also been exonerated of the Senate bombing in the process, although there was still some lingering distrust among some Senators of both the Solos.

    Already the Grand Convocation Chamber was being rebuilt, but Han and Leia were not in the Palace this night for that reason. Someone had decided that a formal event should commemorate Leia's return to the office of the President, and thus the Solos were forced to spend the evening in formal wear, despite their residual weariness from the most recent rebellion against the New Republic.

    Han and Leia stood at the end of a receiving line of powerful senators, greeting each important guest as he or she made an entrance into the ballroom. As Leia spoke to a minor noblewoman from Kuat, a murmur went through the crowd. Both turned to look to see what had caused the disruption.

    "Talon Karrde is here," Han whispered into Leia's ear. Both instantly recognized the woman on the smuggler's arm, as well. "And Mara Jade." Karrde and Jade had played a key role in defeating Kueller, and had likely saved both Leia and her brother Luke Skywalker from death at the Dark Jedi's hands, but Karrde was not a popular figure among many of the more powerful members of the Senate.

    Han watched as Karrde made his way down the receiving line, and smirked as he saw the interaction between the smuggler and Borsk Fey'lya. There was certainly no love lost between Karrde and the Bothan senator, and the body language of both men reflected this.

    It took a few minutes for Karrde to make his way to the end of the line, but finally he was in front of Han and Leia. The smuggler gave a short formal bow to Leia. "Princess, thank you for your kind invitation." Leia nodded to the older man.

    This made Han blink twice. Inviting Talon Karrde to a formal event with many of the New Republic's senators and other important beings was not the best way to get back on everyone's good side. Han shook his head to himself, then felt Karrde pull him aside.

    "Solo, is there someplace we can go talk? I have a little bit of business I'd like to attend to."

    Han looked quizzically at Leia, and received only a disinterested nod in return. Shrugging, he motioned for Karrde to follow, and both men headed off to one of the balconies overlooking the ballroom floor, with Mara Jade in tow.

    A few short minutes later the three found themselves in balcony 14 overlooking the ballroom. The music was starting up, and Han was the first to speak.
    "So, Karrde, what is this business you mentioned?"

    The smuggler smiled at him. "We have all night, Captain Solo. Are you in a hurry to get down to the dance floor? I wasn't aware that you were so keen on formal dancing."

    Han snorted, but was interrupted by a voice from behind that made all three individuals jump. "I'm sure Han is in no rush to get back downstairs, Captain Karrde."
    Han, Karrde, and Mara turned to see Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, standing behind them with a small grin on his face. The two men both smiled and stood, while Mara simply sat and glared at Luke, clearly angry that she had not sensed his approach.

    Karrde spoke first. "Good to see you, Skywalker. You certainly look better than the last time. How are you doing?"
    The younger man smiled back. "I'm fully recovered, I think, thanks in no small part to you and Mara. Actually, Talon, you were speaking of dancing, and I wondered if I might borrow your date for a few minutes?"

    Karrde nodded. "Be my guest. I'm here on business, and I think Solo and I can handle it without Mara."

    Mara cleared her throat, and Karrde found his second-in-command now glaring at him.

    "Don't I get a say in this?" Mara asked dryly, in her first words of the evening.

    Karrde merely raised his eyebrows at her, but Luke flushed a bit before recovering.

    "My apologies. Mara, would you permit me the honor of a dance?"

    A long moment passed, and Han thought that the younger woman was going to turn down his brother-in-law, but finally Mara nodded. Luke held out his arm to her, and with a slight sigh, Mara threaded her arm through his and let him escort her down to the dance floor.

    Karrde chuckled quietly as he watched them walk away. Turning back to Han, he said, "So, Solo, where were we?"
    Han nodded. "You had some business you wanted to discuss."

    Karrde laughed. "Actually, there are probably a few things we can talk about, but my main business here tonight is to be a discomfort to Fey'lya and some of the other Senators. At least, that was my impression when I got the invitation from your lovely wife. I figured sitting here with you and having a few drinks was as good a way as any to accomplish my mission, if you'll oblige me."

    * * *​
    As Mara and Luke made it to the dance floor, the band started up a familiar tune. Mara sighed internally. Great, we start with the Mantooine Minuet. Palpatine's favorite dance. This could be a long night.

    She looked at Luke, suddenly noticing that he was staring at her. She stared back, and he blushed and looked away for a moment.

    She sighed. "Spill it, Skywalker."

    Luke was still a bit red. "Sorry, Mara. It's just…you look gorgeous tonight." Mara wore a light green, form-fitting formal dress. Low cut in the front, it was open in the back nearly down to her waist. On most redheaded women, the dress would have clashed horribly with her hair color, but the gown suited Mara perfectly.

    Mara gave Luke an impatient look, her eyebrows arched slightly.

    Luke coughed lightly, then stammered out, "I mean, you always look gorgeous, of course, but…"

    Mara cut him off with a smirk. "Better, Skywalker. Now, you dragged me out here. Wipe away your drool and let's dance."

    They danced in silence for a few minutes, finishing out the Minuet, and Mara found herself annoyed at Luke's dancing ability. He was much better than she expected him to be, given his Tatooine upbringing, and that fact cut a little bit into her sense of superiority.

    The band immediately transitioned into a Alderaanian waltz, and Luke made the switch between dance styles as smoothly as a professional ballroom dancer. After a few moments, Mara couldn't help but comment.

    "Ok, Skywalker, where did you learn to dance? I know it wasn't on Tatooine."

    Luke looked at her with a straight face, and delivered his answer deadpan. "Didn't I tell you? It was part of my Jedi training. With Master Yoda."

    Mara's immediate burst of laughter caused a number of heads in the general vicinity to turn their way, and she found herself flush with embarrassment. With no free hand at that moment, she had no choice but to bury her face in Luke's shoulder to try to stifle her laughter. She had never met Yoda, of course, but had seen sketches of the Jedi Master enough times that the idea of Luke dancing with the little green alien was sufficient to bring ridiculous images to mind.

    She was finally able to control herself, and had to free a hand for a moment to wipe a few tears from her eyes. "Sorry, Luke. The image of you waltzing around a swamp with Yoda was just too much. Seriously, though, you're better at this than I expected. Where did you learn?"

    Luke smiled at her. The joke had had its intended effect, and Mara seemed less uncomfortable than she had a few minutes prior. "Actually, Leia made me learn after Endor. I think she figured that formal dancing was a skill I'd need as a leader in the New Republic. Winter handled most of my training." Winter was Leia's long-time friend, confidant, and assistant.

    Mara caught a flash of something from Luke. "Most of your training?"

    It was Luke's turn to flush with embarrassment. "Well, she had to leave on an assignment before I was fully trained." He looked away, and added quietly, "Threepio finished out the lessons."

    Mara was fortunate that the waltz ended right as Luke said this, freeing up her hands just in time to allow her to clamp them hard over her mouth. The image of Luke dancing with the protocol droid was only slightly less ridiculous than the image of Luke and Yoda, but Mara managed to keep from laughing out loud this time.

    The band quickly started up the next dance, a polonaise from Corellia, and Luke began to pull Mara back to him. A strong flash of emotion from the woman stopped him, however.

    "Mara, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." This particular dance was rather intimate in nature.

    Mara reacted sharply. "Blast it, Skywalker, stay out of my mind."

    Luke looked chagrined, his voice apologetic, and more than a little sad. "Sorry. Never mind. I'll let you get back to Karrde. Thanks for the dance." He began to turn to leave.

    Mara let out a sigh, but her voice softened considerably. "Luke, wait. It's ok. Just don't get any funny ideas."

    Luke nodded somberly, and reached out to pull her closer. Quietly, they continued to dance.

    * * *​
    Karrde and Han had been making small talk, mostly trading jokes and gossip mixed with criticisms of various New Republic politicians. Finally Karrde shook his head.
    "You know, Solo, the wine selection at this party is terrible. Any way we can get something better?"

    Han grinned at him. "Maybe. Let me check." Karrde expected him to call over a server droid, but Han surprised him by pulling out a comlink instead. "Threepio. I need you to break into my special stash and bring a bottle and a couple of glasses down to the ballroom… I don't know, put it in a diplomatic pouch… Threepio, I don't care that it's against your programming to smuggle booze… Fine, get one of the Noghri to do it. We're in balcony 14."

    Han shut off his comlink and found Karrde staring at him with a look of amusement. Han shook his head. "Kriffing protocol droids."

    Karrde laughed. "What is this special stash?" Han just smiled at him.

    A few short minutes later, a server droid dropped a diplomatic pouch on the table in front of them. Han waved at Karrde to open the pouch, and the smuggler whistled as he pulled out the bottle.

    "Whyren's Reserve. A fine vintage, too. I'm impressed, Solo. Are you sure you want to waste this on me?" Whyren's Reserve was a well-known Corellian whiskey, and difficult to get outside of its home planet.

    Han nodded. "I got a whole case a few months back. Haven't had the occasion to break into a bottle yet. Now seems as good a time as any."

    Karrde raised an eyebrow at the other man. "I gather Mirax is considered respectable enough now that someone like you can risk doing business with her?"

    Han gaped at the smuggler. "How did you know where this came from?"

    Karrde gave Han a superior smile. "Isn't it obvious? She's married to Corran Horn, and as I recall, you and Corran know each other reasonably well. Besides, you didn't get it from anyone in my organization, or I would have known about it. That leaves Mirax as one of the few possible sources, and by far the most likely."

    "You're far too well-informed, Karrde." Mirax Terrik Horn was a smuggler who had gone mostly straight after marrying Corran Horn, a fighter pilot in the New Republic's celebrated Rogue Squadron. She still had sources for black market goods, however, and Han occasionally took advantage of this to acquire items from his home world of Corellia.

    The two men shared their drinks in silence for a few moments, while Karrde looked out over the dance floor. Finally his eyes rested on Luke and Mara, and he laughed quietly.

    "Those two look pretty good together, don't they, Solo?"

    Han blinked, then let out a quiet sigh. "Actually, I've thought that for years. Never really found the right opportunity to bring up the topic with Luke. Have you mentioned it to Mara?"

    Karrde laughed again. "And risk taking a blaster bolt straight between my eyes? I know better than that. Anyway, I don't need to talk to her about it. I have a pretty good idea that there are feelings there, even if she doesn't realize it yet herself. What about Luke?"

    Han shook his head. "I don't know, but I do know that seeing Mara briefly has brought him out of a funk on more than one occasion. It doesn't really matter, does it? He'd have to pry her away from Lando, and Luke isn't one to do something like that to a friend."

    Karrde frowned. "What makes you think she's with Lando, or has any interest in him at all?"

    Han gave him an exasperated look. "I don't think, I know. I put through a holocomm call to Lando a while back, and got Mara on the other end wearing nothing but one of his shirts. There isn't much room for misinterpretation there."

    Karrde laughed. "She told me about that. There is room for misinterpretation, actually. I can assure you that she has no interest in Lando romantically, and that what you saw was purely business."

    Han's voice betrayed some degree of skepticism. "Business, huh? Care to give me a clue about what that kind of business entails?"

    Karrde laughed again. "Care to pay for that information, Solo? Fifty thousand buys you the story."

    Han coughed. "Never mind. I don't need to know that badly."

    * * *​
    The last dance was a two-step from Borleias, and the dancers clapped as the band packed up their instruments. Mara suddenly realized that she had been dancing with Luke for almost ninety minutes. It didn't seem like nearly that long. She also suddenly realized that her choice of footwear for the evening wasn't exactly suited to an hour and a half of dancing.

    "Ok, Skywalker, this has been more fun than I'd usually care to admit, but my feet are killing me. Can we go sit down somewhere?"

    Luke winced. "Sorry, Mara, I didn't think about that. There's an empty table over in the corner. Do you want to get a drink? Otherwise I can take you back to Talon. You did come here with him, after all, and I've monopolized you for most of the night."

    Mara looked up toward the balcony, realizing that she hadn't thought about Karrde once since they started dancing. Finally she shrugged. "Like he said, he's here on business. I have time for a drink or two. Lead the way, so I can get these blasted shoes off."

    Luke smiled, and held out his arm for her. Mara took it, and he ushered her to the last small table left open after the dancing ended. Both sat, and Luke chuckled as Mara kicked off her heels and let out a long sigh of relief.

    Luke broke the ice. "So what kind of business does Karrde have here with Han tonight, anyway? It seems like a lot of trouble to go through to get all dressed up for this party."

    Mara frowned slightly. "I guess I can tell you. We really don't have any actual business here. Karrde got the invitation from your sister, and decided the opportunity to come here and rub our role in the Almanian situation in Fey'lya's furry face was too good to pass up. So, here we are. I think Karrde decided that drinking with Han in the balcony and letting me dance with you all night was as good a way as any to get the job done."

    Mara's gaze, and tone of voice, suddenly hardened. "By the way, if I show up on the galactic holos tomorrow as 'Luke Skywalker's date at the Palace Ball', I will have to personally kill you."

    Luke laughed. "Don't worry, I'm sure security managed to keep the media shills out of the party. The only holographers I saw wandering around were the official senate staffers that record these types of events for posterity."

    Mara's tone was ominous. "I hope you're right. For your sake."

    Her threats were cut off by the arrival of a waiter droid, who brought Luke and Mara two glasses of white wine. Generic white wine, poor quality, from Kuat, probably, Mara thought as she took a sip, unimpressed. She looked over to Luke.

    "I don't remember ordering this."

    The Jedi Master laughed. "I did. You didn't notice."

    Mara found herself annoyed again. "You know, Skywalker, you've gotten far too smooth in the last few years. One has to wonder who taught you all these tricks. Formal dancing, ordering drinks without me noticing, I never would have guessed you could pull all of that off."

    She shook her head at him, then changed the subject. "I'm surprised you're here stag, Skywalker. I'm sure you could have found dozens of volunteers to escort you to a party like this, even on short notice. Famous Jedi Master, and all that."

    Luke shook his head, and Mara noted that most of the levity was gone from his voice in his response. Oops.

    "Maybe you're right, Mara. I didn't really plan on staying long tonight. Leia insisted I be here, so I was just going to make a quick appearance and leave early. Until you showed up, anyway. Besides, I've not had much interest in romance the past few months."

    Mara gave him a look that was almost sympathetic, but also laced with some of her more traditional annoyance. "Don't tell me you're hung up on Callista again. I thought you worked through that years ago."

    Luke looked at her with some obvious surprise. "I guess you didn't hear. I met a woman, last year, during the Yevethan crisis. It didn't turn out well."

    Mara frowned. She had been off on various missions for the Smuggler's Alliance during that particular time and had been somewhat out of the loop. She asked her next question quietly. "Do you want to talk about it?"

    Luke shook his head sadly. "Not really. The short of it is, she told me that she might know where to find my mother, and took me on a wild bantha chase around the galaxy for the better part of a year. It turned out in the end that she was lying to me, and didn't know anything at all about my mother. She just wanted me to help her find her people. Not the best way to start a relationship, and whatever we did have collapsed in on itself after the Yevethan crisis was over. Not a lot of people know about it, but I'm still surprised you didn't hear."

    Mara got the sense that, whatever Luke was going through, he didn't really want her sympathy, nor did he want to talk about this woman further. She let it drop. "I've been busy."

    Luke nodded. "Not too busy to come rescue me. Again. Thank you, by the way. I think I owe you for quite a few rescues now."

    Mara snorted. "Be sure that I'll collect on those favors someday, Skywalker. And for future reference, next time you decide to go face down a Dark Jedi, make sure to consult me first. I'm getting tired of having to save your butt from these things."

    Luke laughed, despite the serious nature of the topic. "Deal. And I'm sure you will collect on those debts someday, or Karrde will."

    Mara narrowed her eyes at him, and dryly responded. "Any favors you want to pay Karrde are between you and him, Skywalker. You repay your debts to me, to me. I'll let you know when the score is even again. In the unlikely event you ever manage to even it."

    Luke leaned back in his chair and smiled, silent for a long moment. Finally he spoke again. "You know, Jade, it is always good to see you. Too many people act like I'm some sort of demigod. You don't seem to have that problem."

    Mara gave him an amused look. "It is occasionally good to see you too, Skywalker. When I'm not getting shot at, or accosted by Dark Jedi. Which is most of the time when our paths cross."

    Luke winked at her. "Yes, I recall you telling me something like that once before."

    Mara shook her head in mock exasperation. "I guess I did, once." She looked down at her empty glass. "This stuff is terrible, but I could really use another drink."

    Before she completely got the words out, the server droid plunked two more glasses of wine down on their table. She looked up wide-eyed to see Luke grinning at her.
    "Blast it, Skywalker…"

    * * *​
    Hours later the party was winding down. Han and Karrde were still seated in balcony 14, and had between them polished off nearly the entire bottle of whiskey. Both men held their liquor well, but each was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol. As such, the conversation flowed somewhat more freely.

    As promised, Karrde had a few small items of actual business to discuss with Han, and the conversation drifted in that direction for a few hours. Both made occasional glances to the ballroom floor, where Mara and Luke were still clearly enmeshed in a conversation. The two men eventually circled back around to the topic of their friends.

    "So, Karrde, I meant to ask you. You mentioned earlier that you were pretty sure that Mara has feelings for Luke. Care to share that story with me?"

    The smuggler paused for a moment, then took a deep breath. "Solo, you know if this ever gets back to her that they'll find me dead within hours." He sighed. "Call it payback for the whiskey. I'll tell you, but keep it to yourself. Nothing about this to Skywalker, to your wife, to anyone. Agreed?" Han nodded, suddenly interested.

    "Mara had us transfer a box of her stuff from the Lady Luck to our base when she and Lando stopped by during one of their… missions. I didn't really intend to look through it, but the box broke while we were moving it and we had to pack everything back up. It was mostly regular stuff, clothes, trinkets that Lando had bought her from various planets, that sort of thing. In among it was one holo. I couldn't help but look at it. It was of her and Luke, back from that time on Coruscant after the Thrawn situation ended. It didn't really seem particularly special to me, but for whatever reason it stood out as odd."

    Han wasn't following. "So she had a holo of a friend. I have holos with me and Luke too…"

    Karrde shook his head. "That's just it. Mara doesn't have holos. Of anyone. Not of herself, not of other people, not of places she's been, not of anything. Her quarters are barely decorated, and you could fit all of her possessions in the smallest smuggling compartment on the Falcon with room to spare. I think she keeps it that way so she can pack up and disappear in an hour if she has to. I mean, I found all of those trinkets Calrissian gave her in a refuse container later on. For her to keep something like that holo means that it's particularly significant to her, especially since she took it with her on her trips with Lando."

    Han was thoughtful for a minute. "You've never tried to talk to her about it?"

    Karrde shook his head again. "We're not that close. I think I'm the closest thing she has to a best friend, or maybe a father figure, in the galaxy, and even I barely know anything about her."

    "So, what, you want to try to get them together? I'm for it, but Leia might disagree." Mara did not historically get along particularly well with Han's wife.

    Karrde chuckled. "I'm sure Mara would flip if we tried something like that. They need to come to it on their own. It would probably mean I'd lose the best employee I've ever had, but if Mara could finally find someone…"

    Han smiled. "Maybe it's the booze talking, but you're a pretty good guy, Karrde."

    Karrde responded dryly. "I'm not sure how much that means, coming from you Solo, but I'll take the compliment as it was intended."

    Looking down, Han noticed Mara and Luke standing up from their table, among the last dozen or so to leave the party. "Well Karrde, it looks like they might be headed this way. We'd better pipe down on the scheming for the moment, or we'll end up with missing limbs if we're lucky." Karrde laughed at that.

    Not two minutes later, Luke and Mara entered the balcony arm-in-arm, with Luke carrying Mara's shoes in his free right hand.

    Karrde just laughed. Han couldn't help but commenting. "Jade, you look a little worse for the wear. Did Luke step on your feet or something?"

    Mara shot him a poisonous look, and didn't respond to his question. Instead, she turned to her employer. "Karrde, can we get going? It's past my bedtime."
    Karrde nodded. "In a minute, Mara. Did you two have a good time tonight?"

    Luke began to speak, but Mara cut him off with a snort. "It was fine."

    Luke began to object to her characterization of the evening, but stopped. He had caught just a hint of emotion from Mara, breaking through her usually strong mental barrier. He felt a vague impression of contentment, and it disappeared back behind her mental block just as quickly as it appeared.

    Luke decided to let Mara's statement stand. "Well, I had fun, anyway. Talon, I'm sorry to have stolen your date for the entire evening."

    Karrde waved off the apology as he took Mara's shoes from Luke. "No problem, Skywalker. Like I said, I was here on business. You ever need a date to one of these things again, I'll make sure she's available. Ok, Mara, I'm ready. Let's get going."

    Mara glared at her employer, but moved to follow him nevertheless. As she broke free from Luke, her hand lingered momentarily on his arm, and Luke felt her squeeze slightly. He got another hint of warmth from her emotions through the Force, the feeling again fading as quickly as it appeared. She didn't look back as she followed Karrde from the balcony, saying only "see you around, Solo" to Han as she passed by.

    Han and Luke watched them leave, then Luke turned to his brother-in-law. "Well, it's late, Han. I'd better be getting back. See you tomorrow?"

    Han gave Luke a smirk, a common-enough sight for the Jedi, and Luke got a flash through the Force of some indiscernible thought from Han.

    "Sure kid, see you tomorrow. Goodnight."

    With that, Luke Skywalker left for his quarters.

    * * *​
    Neither Karrde nor Mara had spoken the entire way back to the docking bay. Arriving at the Wild Karrde, the older man turned to his second-in-command to say goodnight, but stopped as he noticed the tiny smile on the face of a woman who was clearly light-years away in her head at the moment.

    Unfortunately, Mara noticed his look, and scowled at him. "Do you need my help with pre-flight? I want to go ice my feet before they fall off."

    Karrde sighed and shook his head. "No, I think the rest of the crew can handle it. I'm going to go sleep off that half bottle of whiskey. See you in the morning."

    Mara turned to walk away, but Karrde had one more thing to say. "Hey, Mara, you and Luke…"

    Mara didn't even turn around as she cut him off. "Goodnight, Karrde."
    Jedi_Lover and Jade_eyes like this.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Kessel Run Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Aug 31, 2004
    Hi: Delightful. This feels very canon without being frustrating in the emotion department. Oh, I know it's too soon LOL but with her wearing that dress cut that low, I'm surprised Luke left it on her. [face_laugh] I realize this is still the semi-oblivious stage but ... ;) I absolutely love Mara/Luke dancing scenes :D
  20. EmeraldJediFire

    EmeraldJediFire Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 23, 2012
    Well done...this is definitely playing out nicely.All right emotions of the time..Mara cares of course but she's not use to showing it nor is she willing to...I think despite Palpy being dead, Mara still finds it hard to have such emotions and openly admit it...when its obvious she still feels like they're a weakness of some sort. But if Mara really didn't care about Luke one way or the other, she would never go out of her way to do half of what she's done.

    FYI you'll always have Luke and Mara fans here.. Its just a very pervasive fandom.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  21. Demendora

    Demendora Jedi Knight star 2

    Apr 9, 2010
    Wonderful missing moment. I always suspected that Han and Karrde were playing matchmakers. And I am sure, they had pretty big betting pool going too):D
    yeah, I think, there are a lot of us:)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  22. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    Additionally, there's a strange scene in Specter of the Past where Talon Karrde and Han basically are plotting to get Luke and Mara together.

    I find that scene just as intriguing as you do and I think you did a fantastic job setting up the background for it.
    I'm so looking forward to more.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  23. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    10,000 credits, with a double-or-nothing option, as you'll find out in a later installment...
  24. Stone Jade

    Stone Jade Jedi Knight star 1

    Feb 27, 2013
    Here's the next story. This is the last one before Luke and Mara get together in VOTF.

    This story is inspired by the Corellian trilogy, in which Luke and Mara are in the same place at the end but have barely any interaction. Hope you enjoy it. As usual, constructive criticism encouraged.

    18 ABY - Immediatly after Showdown at Centerpoint.
    Luke is upset after the death of Gaeriel. Mara tries to cheer him up.

    She found Luke Skywalker, finally, sitting in the cargo bay of the Millennium Falcon. Mara Jade's part in the Corellian Insurrection was at an end, and she was yearning to leave. She had played her role in helping end the crisis, and was getting tired of the gratitude that everyone wanted to dump on her.

    First, though, she wanted to say goodbye to Luke. Again, she had never gotten the chance to actually say hello, but that seemed to be their pattern. Unfortunately, no one had been able to tell her where he was. This was not usually a problem. Her bond in the Force with Luke had always been strong, even across light-years. This had been true even before their first official meeting, and it was still true today. She could usually sense his presence when he was close, and could certainly sense his emotions when they were strong, as they usually were and surely were currently. Now, though, standing two meters from him, she could sense nothing at all.

    She didn't need the Force to see that he was hurting. The man sitting on the floor of the cargo bay was red-eyed, clearly having cried recently, though no tears were visible. Instead, he sat slumped, staring intently at a holo of a woman Mara had never seen before, though she knew precisely who it was.

    Mara sat down quietly beside Luke, and he looked up in some surprise, apparently having completely missed her entrance. So, he shut himself off from the Force entirely, for the moment. She hoped he was hiding from Leia, and not from her, but it was a faint hope at best. He seemed to relax slightly when he saw her, however, so maybe she had been correct after all.

    She tried to give him a comforting smile, but that particular expression was a hard one for her to pull off, and she was at best semi-successful. Luke didn't speak, simply looking back down at the holo, and she finally could take no more silence.

    "I assume that's Gaeriel." It was more of a statement than a question, but Luke nodded anyway. Yes, it was the woman Mara had heard described as 'Luke's first true love'. The woman who had died, not hours earlier, on the bridge of a starship in a battle into which Luke had pulled her. The woman who left an orphaned daughter behind, a daughter Luke had sworn to return to with her unharmed mother.

    Mara wasn't sure quite what to say. She tried her best to be comforting. "She's beautiful."

    Luke looked up at her with a sad smile. His voice was hoarse, barely a whisper. "She was beautiful. You would have liked her, I think. You two are a lot alike. Intelligent, confident, capable, stubborn." He paused, then sighed softly, "and beautiful."

    Mara barely noticed the compliment. She instead found herself looking at the picture of Gaeriel. A sense of unease crept over her, and she suddenly found herself feeling vaguely negative thoughts about the woman in the picture. Something in the back of her mind told her that she would not have liked Gaeriel, although she was not able to explain why. Intellectually she might admit that these were the same feelings she had felt for Callista, but something deep inside in her refused to acknowledge the obvious connection.

    She found him staring again at the holo, and knew she had to do something. Luke had nearly self-destructed in such situations before. I helped him through Callista, at least a little. Maybe I can do the same for him with Gaeriel. She was about the least-equipped person in the galaxy to counsel a friend through a crisis of grief, but Luke had always responded to her at times like this. Somehow.

    "I'm sorry for what happened, Luke, but it wasn't your fault."

    He looked up at her, and there was some anger in his eyes. "No? I brought her here. I'm the one who asked her to come, even though Bakura has no interest at all in the Corellian system. If it hadn't been me, she wouldn't have come. And she wouldn't be dead. How is that not my fault?"

    Mara sighed. This is going to be much more difficult than Callista. "That may all be true, Luke. But the Bakurans came because of the threat posed to the entire galaxy by Centerpoint. She gave her life to stop that threat. Not for you, not for your family, not for any individual here. For everyone in the galaxy."

    He didn't seem to want to agree, and his words were bitter. "That seems to happen a lot around me. My friends, people I love, all of them try to be heroes, and they mostly end up hurt, or dead. What is it about me that inspires that sort of sacrifice?"

    Mara frowned slightly. "You're the most well-known and beloved hero this galaxy has, Luke, at least for most beings out there. Anyone who has ever watched any of those ridiculous holodramas about your life wants to be you. You have abilities they don't have, though, and hero worship inspires some beings to take extreme risks to emulate those they worship. That gets them killed sometimes, but that's not your fault. It shouldn't be on your shoulders to bear that burden."

    Luke sighed softly. "What do I do to keep that from happening, Mara? I don't want people trying to be like me, and getting killed."

    Mara shook her head. "I don't know. You'd have to ask someone else, Luke. Some other hero who has gone through that, maybe. I don't have the experience to answer your question."

    She was surprised to sense some of Luke's feelings in the Force. He was opening up, though just a little. His thoughts were still tinged with deep grief.
    He startled her a bit with his question. "You don't think you're a hero?"

    She snorted. "No."

    He raised an eyebrow at her. "I seem to recall you coming to my rescue a number of times. Risking your life, in fact, to save mine. That makes you a hero, at least to me."

    She objected immediately to his classification, in her usual style. "Purely self-interest, Skywalker."

    He lightened up a little more. "Oh, and what interest would Mara Jade have in keeping me alive all these years?"

    She chuckled softly, hoping not to upset him with her laughter. "Speculation. Someday I'll have to call in all those favors."

    That actually got him to laugh, just a bit. She could tell by his gaze that he didn't quite believe her explanation, but thankfully he didn't press the issue. Instead, he sobered up a bit, and said, "By the way, I didn't get the chance to thank you for rescuing my sister. It seems you're in the wrong line of work."

    She rolled her eyes at him. "Occasionally having to rescue you and your sister from certain death doesn't pay nearly as well as smuggling, Skywalker. When it does, I'll consider a career change."

    He laughed a little harder at that, and she could see he was starting to feel better, if only a bit. He smiled warmly at her. "Thanks again, though. And not just for rescuing her. For stopping by here today, too. You seem to have a knack for bringing me out of my misery."

    Her earlier words had helped tremendously. Her next ones could not have hurt more. "Thankfully, dragging you out of your misery isn't my job. If I had to do this every time you lost someone, I'd never get anything else done."

    Time stopped for Mara as horror and grief flashed across Luke's face. She immediately felt sick. Of all the terrible things you've said to him in your life, Mara, that might have been the worst.

    She felt tears beginning to well up in her own eyes. She tried her best to stammer out an apology. "Oh, Gods, Luke, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it like that…"

    Totally out of character, she threw her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. Her horror at her own insensitivity boiled inside her, threatening to overwhelm her completely. She cried softly, trying to hide her tears from Luke, who certainly did not need or deserve to have her own weakness dumped on him in his moment of grief.

    As she felt Luke's arm wrap around her shoulders, she suddenly sensed a deep wellspring of the Force. She nearly gasped as she felt the power of Luke's feelings. His intense grief, and the hurt from her comment, were still there, but those emotions were being pushed away by a feeling of comfort that washed over her like a flowing river, threatening to drown her own feelings in its wake. The strength of his will was undeniable, but he didn't push into her mind. Instead, the warmth of his support merged with her own despair and regret, and suddenly the feelings were a violent whirlpool of motion, with Luke's empathy quickly overpowering her grief.

    Mara had known Luke for nine years, and had seen displays of his power in the Force that had awed her more times than she could remember. Never before, though, had she felt anything approaching the significance of that action. She did not feel violated, as she might have expected, because he had not entered her mind at all. Instead, he had simply washed away her remorse with the power of his compassion. He had batted aside his own grief, his own regrets, and undoubtedly his own anger to do so, and she marveled at his strength. It was an act of sheer will in the Force that she knew she couldn't match. She very much doubted she would ever be able to do so.

    She didn't let go of Luke for a long time. Finally a sense of unease and embarrassment crept into her mind, as she started to revert back to her usual discomfort with physical contact. She pulled away slightly, and felt Luke's arm release her, as he clearly sensed her urge to withdraw.

    Even though she should not have been, she was astonished to find a look of serenity on Luke's face. Gone was any trace of his grief over Gaeriel's death, although that emotion was still there, but diminished. In its place she sensed concern for her, the same feeling of protectiveness that usually drove her mad. She was angered this time as well, but only at herself.

    She tried again to apologize. "I'm so sorry, Luke. What I said was insensitive and mean-spirited."

    He smiled sadly at her. "Insensitive, maybe. But I don't think it was mean-spirited, Mara. You didn't come here to hurt me, and I can't fault you for making an observation which is clearly true. Whether by luck or the Force, I've lost a number of people who were important to me, in one way or another. It's a heavy burden to bear. Having friends and loved ones to share the burden helps, and you've helped me more than most."

    His kind words left her nearly speechless. She didn't know what to say, and although "I don't know what to say, Luke" wasn't the most intelligent response she had ever made, it was the only response she could make.

    His smiled brightened a bit, and his tone was playful. "Mara Jade, speechless? Score one under the 'when Hutts fly' column."

    She scowled at him, his playful teasing bringing her usual sarcasm bubbling back to the surface. She belatedly realized that he had intended this, and that he was bringing their relationship back into balance. Again, she had helped heal him after the loss of a loved one, if only a little. He might still grieve, but he would no longer mope.

    She wasn't quite sure how it had happened. By all rights, he should have been furious with her, so horrible her remarks had been. Instead, her anger with herself at her own insensitivity had brought out his compassion and concern for her wellbeing. It was a startling reminder of just how close they had once been, years ago.

    The last few years had put a distance between her and Luke that had mostly widened instead of healed. Now it seemed to Mara that it might finally be closing again. Something in Luke was changing, slowly but surely, although she was unable to pinpoint the change. She couldn't quite admit to herself that she might too be changing, bit by bit.

    All this ran through her mind in the short instant between Luke's 'when Hutts fly' comment and her snapped response. "Don't count on ever seeing that again, Skywalker."

    Luke laughed, then suddenly became serious. "I'm not sure I should bring this up, Mara, but did you hear about Lando?"

    Mara snorted. "You mean his ridiculous search for a rich woman to trick into marrying him? Yes, I heard, and I heard he managed to con you into helping him."

    Luke coughed awkwardly. He wasn't sure how she would take the news. "Right. Mara, as it turns out, he found someone. Her name is Tendra Risant, from Sacorria. Actually, that's why we were in the Corellian System in the first place."

    He didn't expect her laughter. "Good. I'm happy for Calrissian. I'm even more happy for me, if it means he will stop propositioning me every time our paths cross."
    She noted with a bit of amusement the puzzled look on Luke's face. She knew what people assumed about her relationship with Lando. There was nothing there but business, but Luke had never really asked. Just ask already, Skywalker, and I'll tell you.

    He didn't ask, either too polite or too afraid to pry into her personal life. Not that I blame him particularly, given how I've treated the subject in the past. But this is getting ridiculous. She couldn't quite bring herself to volunteer the information, though, and the moment passed awkwardly. Finally she sighed internally and stood up.

    "Feeling better, Skywalker?"

    He favored her with a small smile. "Believe it or not, yes. Thanks to you. Again." Mara wasn't quite able to convince herself that she had really helped.

    She huffed at him, then reached down to grab his arm and yanked him to his feet. "Good. The Solo kids have been looking for you for hours. I think it's time you got off your rear and went to spend some time with your family." With that, she turned him in the general direction of the boarding ramp and gave him a rough shove in the back. "Get going."

    * * *​
    It was not long before Mara was back on the Jade's Fire, having managed to slip away while Luke was talking to his family. Instead of the cockpit, she found herself in her private quarters as her droid Slips piloted the ship out of the system. Her detour through the events of the Corellian Insurrection had put her shockingly behind schedule, but instead of working, she found herself staring at a holo, much as she had found Luke doing barely more than an hour earlier.

    She sighed as she looked at the picture of her and Luke, smiling together on Coruscant after the end of the Thrawn campaign. She remembered when Luke had given her the holo, right before she left Yavin 4 and abandoned her commitment to train as a Jedi. She had been unwilling to tell him that she'd return to finish her training someday, but had privately admitted to herself that she would return, when the Luke she had known that day on Coruscant returned.

    The years after the Thrawn campaign had changed Luke, somehow, and she realized after leaving Yavin 4 that she no longer knew her friend. She and Luke had seen each other only a few times since, and each time it was awkward. They were growing apart, but each reunion brought them back a little closer together. She had nearly given up hope of ever being close with Luke again many times, but she had never quite abandoned that hope entirely.

    Now, she found herself suddenly more optimistic about the future, if only a little bit. They still had things to work out, certainly, and she still disagreed with many of the choices Luke seemed to always be making. But their circumstances were changing, slowly, and Mara found herself finally convinced that she would one day complete her Jedi training. The time wasn't yet right to return to Yavin 4, but she hoped that one day soon it would be.

    Sighing again, she turned the holo off and put it away. Ok, Jade, you have a lot to do. Get to work.
    Jedi_Lover and Jade_eyes like this.
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Kessel Run Champion star 8 VIP - Game Winner

    Aug 31, 2004
    Yay for the talk and the brief emotive connection in the Force [face_dancing] A preliminary but crucial step and a great missing moment - SQUEE! and how snugly and finely this would've fitted at the end of the Correllian trilogy @};-