He's on Tatooine, but a strange one—lightning strikes, hard and hot, and turns the sand beneath his feet to juts of jagged glass. The sky is dark, but it's not night—he looks up to see a cowl, and just barely visible inside it, a pair of yellow eyes where the twin suns should be.
A gigantic hand appears, a very familiar red-haired figure clutched inside it. The hand raises up, up—and Mara disappears into the blackness, into the yellow eyes. He falls to his knees, ignoring the glass cutting his skin, and screams.
I understand why she doesn't want to train as a Jedi. I don't think she does, but I do.
She's afraid. She likes to think that nothing scares her, but sometimes I think that the fewer things you admit to being frightened of, the worse the true fears are.
She doesn't know how to trust the Force, but you have to, to be a Jedi. She doesn't know how to truly trust anyone but herself anymore. I admit, it was initially hard for me to find my trust, but I did.
I hope that she finds her own way soon.
"There is no passion, there is serenity."
Mara hated that part of the Jedi Code. Serenity was all well and good, but passion…passion was…
Passion was Luke, teaching his students about the Force. Luke, flying his X-wing for the sheer joy of flight. Luke, laughing with his friends and family.
Luke, making love to her in the star-filled Yavin nights until they were both almost crying from the intensity of the sensations.
Passion was what made life lived, Mara thought. And if the Jedi Knights of the Old Republic disagreed…well, they missed out on more than they would have believed.
I want to yell at him, but I can't. I'm too angry to have anything more intelligible than sputtering leave my mouth.
Why can't he just respect my decisions? I'm a grown woman, and I'm perfectly capable of making my own choices. Besides, aren't Jedi supposed to be accepting of all kinds of lifestyles?
He gets under my skin like no one else can, and I wish he'd stop. He makes me…itchy. It's hard to be around him when he makes me want to twitch, and it doesn't help when we keep getting into arguments.
He's still under my skin.
Space was cold, and Luke never quite got used to it. Even decades after he left, his body was still acclimated to Tatooine's hot climate.
"You should get a blanket," Mara absentmindedly said from the pilot's seat. He snuck a look at her, but she was looking at the controls, not at him.
"I'm all right," he replied, and he was. He was mostly comfortable—just a bit cold. They'd be reverting to realspace soon anyway, and they'd meet up with Karrde, and go their separate ways.
And for some strange reason, that made him feel even colder.
Luke walked through the door of his sister's apartment just in time to hear Mara Jade say, "—see you there. Good night, Leia."
Leia stood up from the comm station, stretched, and grinned as she saw Luke. "When did you get here?" she asked, walking over and kissing him on the cheek.
"Just now," he replied. "Was that Mara on the comm? What were you talking about?"
"Nothing that inquisitive brothers need to know," she said cheerfully.
"Is she on Coruscant?" Luke persisted.
Leia raised an eyebrow. "Why so curious?"
Luke wasn't sure what to say, and Leia laughed.
Forests. What is it with me, Skywalker, and forests? Of course Skywalker's annoying friends were there too, but she didn't care about them.
Not that she cared about Skywalker. She gritted her teeth—and stifled a yelp as her ankle got caught on a vine underfoot. She tripped, and a hand caught her beneath her elbow, steadying her.
"You need to stop bringing me to places like this," she muttered, unwilling to actually thank him.
"I'm sorry." Then he grinned. "What kind of restaurants do you like?"
Then it was he stifling a yelp when she stamped on his foot.
His hands, cool and comforting against her hot skin, smoothed her hair away from her forehead. "You're sure it's not the illness coming back?" he asked.
She mustered a grin for him, even with her stomach still rebelling. "I'm told this kind of thing is normal," she said. "Or haven't you heard the same? I'm pretty sure it's just morning sickness."
He nodded, but she could still see the worry in his eyes. "Stop that," she said, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear. "And go get me a glass of water. My mouth tastes disgusting."
Forests. What is it with me, Skywalker, and forests? But she didn't mind so much—disappearing into the Yavin jungle for walks gave them time to themselves that was all too rare whenever they were at the Jedi Academy.
She held his hand in hers, rubbing his palm with her thumb, when he suddenly pulled at her arm, and she looked at him and saw that he'd stumbled when his foot caught on a vine.
She bent down and helped him free his foot. "Thanks," he said, smiling into her eyes as he stood again, and she smiled in return.
If I didn't know better, I'd think that Mara was jealous.
Of course, I'd never tell her that—she'd probably feed me my own lightsaber. But Callista's a great person—why does it seem like Mara doesn't like her? I'd not expect them to become best friends, but she doesn't seem to dislike any other Jedi so much.
I know they've talked to each other, but neither would tell me what they said. I guess it's not my business, but…
Maybe Mara will come around later. By avoiding Callista, she avoids me, and I hate it when she does that.
He was out there.
She felt him, even in hyperspace. No one else could feel like that, a star among stars, pulsing so brightly it gave her a headache. He felt the exact opposite of her Master, and for a moment she longed to feel the familiar coldness, when after just feeling the Jedi it seemed she would get sunburnt.
Well, perhaps it was finally time to meet him. Finally time to look in his face and tell him exactly what he had done. Finally time to kill him.
Mara shivered, and went to go tell Karrde what she found.
She was out there.
He could feel her, even amongst all the debris from the battle. She was probably thinking that this wasn't something she could survive—but Luke was not going to let her die. She had a brightness about her, regardless of her past. He could locate her very easily with that brightness to guide him.
It was almost strange, how he wanted to find her, though. She'd told him herself that she wanted to kill him, and it was probably in his best interests to let her die.
Not that he'd ever cared about his best interests.
He was tired, right down to his bones, but there was nothing he could do about it right now. It wasn't a sleepy sort of tired anyway.
"They expect everything of me," he said quietly, with his eyes closed. "I can't bear to let them down."
She sounded almost gentle as she replied, "You're as much a citizen of the galaxy as everyone else is. Sometimes you just need to do what's best for you. Living up to their expectations is going to get you killed, Skywalker."
He smiled softly, and didn't open his eyes when he said, "I know."
Her dress annoys me.
I don't know why. It's a beautiful dress, with simple, elegant lines. But it is somewhat…low-cut, and…form-hugging.
This is stupid. Leia's disappeared, of course, even though she was the one who dragged me to this reception, so I don't quite have anything else to focus on. Well, nothing that I can remain focused on—what happened to my training?
I want to go talk to her, but I don't move. The dress shimmers in the ballroom light, and my eyes are caught.
Why can't I go talk to her without wanting to tear that dress off?
It was strange, how heavy a sleeper he could be sometimes.
He could wake at the slightest sound—she had seen him do it, multiple times. A relic of the war, of his position, of the dangerous things that he still did, even years after her lecture on Nirauan…but she knew it was part of him, and asking him to stay away from danger was like asking him not to breathe.
But sometimes he didn't wake so easily. She brushed hair away from his forehead, leaned down to give him a gentle kiss on the lips, and still he slept.
It was hot.
Very hot, and she was burning up, and why was Yavin going through a heat wave just when she arrived?
But on one of her previous visits, she'd found a nice, cool pool in the jungle, far enough away from the Temple that she could try to forget how Skywalker's skin seemed to glow when he was sweaty…
She was really looking forward to that swim—except that someone else apparently knew about the pool as well, and though she stopped behind some rocks, she couldn't make herself look away.
He was naked. And she felt hotter.
Why is he so happy about snow? she thought grumpily. It's cold and wet.
"How can you like this so much?" she bit out, shivering. She couldn't wait for this mission to end so they could leave. "I would've thought you'd have gotten enough of it on Hoth."
He flashed her a grin, his cheeks flushed with the cold. "If I let bad experiences deter me, I'd never do anything," he said. Then, quickly, he leaned down, packed up a ball of snow, and threw it at her.
She sputtered. Then she grinned and went after him with a vengeance.
He woke up suddenly, chilled despite the blankets covering him. His eyes snapped open and he sat up quickly, putting a hand to his forehead to wipe away droplets of sweat.
Just a dream. He glanced to his left, saw Mara sleeping deeply, her breath slow and even, absolutely nothing wrong with her.
His dream…illness, pain, death—not just Mara, but also someone completely new and strangely familiar. Two (two?) people he loved gone in a mental scream of anguish.
But Mara was healthy, and knew how to use the Force to stay that way. It was just a dream…
"Is there a reason you're hiding out in here?"
"Go away," he muttered, when she sat down beside him.
"That's usually my line," she commented, showing no sign of imminent leaving.
He sighed explosively. "Are you here for a reason, or just to annoy me?" he asked sourly.
She raised an eyebrow. "Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."
He glared. "I have bad days too," he said. "I didn't want to inflict my poor company on anyone else. So you might want to leave."
"I'll risk the bad company," she said, and smiled wryly.
She never would have thought that marriage to Luke would have so much laughter.
Before their engagement, when she had constantly held him (and everyone else) at arm's length, he had always seemed so serious. Calm. Sober. Of course, he'd always had the ability to make her smile and laugh, but it happened rarely enough.
Now she thought that was because of her, not him. She hadn't smiled because she wouldn't let herself, hadn't laughed because she didn't want him to take it as an invitation to get closer.
Then she let him inside, and finally felt free to laugh.
Sometimes he aches when he looks at her.
It's something he tries not to think about, and usually succeeds, but sometimes...sometimes...
Sometimes he looks at her and thinks that she's the most beautiful being in existence, someone who takes his breath away by doing nothing but being herself.
And that sometimes is happening more and more often now, despite his efforts to suppress it. He doesn't think she'll appreciate knowing what he's beginning to understand he feels for her, because she certainly doesn't reciprocate.
They are friends, but that's almost more than she wants. He can't possibly hope for more.
I'm not sure what to tell him.
I've been hinting, working up to the conversation I know we should have, but he's so dense. He doesn't get the hints! Stupid male.
Oh, Skywalker...you don't have to save the galaxy yourself. I know you feel responsible, but the galaxy's been getting along by itself far longer than you've been alive. You don't need to fix everything.
You deserve better than that. The burden put on your shoulders at every cry for help...I know you can't ignore it, but you deserve to have a better life than bandaging the galaxy's cut fingers.
Throughout all the years and all the revelations, all the bacta tanks and all the battles, he'd never managed to kick the habit of daydreaming.
The dreams changed, of course. He didn't need to think of what he'd do once he got away from Tatooine--he'd been gone many years now.
He didn't dream for adventure and excitement, since he got enough of that; he didn't need to wish for more. Strangely, it was the simpler things he thought about lately. A wife, a family...
He told that to Mara once, and she looked at him and didn't say anything.
He loves touching her.
He loves how her skin feels beneath his hands; smooth, warm, wonderful. He loves her sighs when his hands run down her arms, her shivers when his fingers trace her spine.
Her hair spills through his hands, unburning flame, and twines around his fingers. He loves how it flows and curls around him, how she laughs when she notices how fascinated he is with it.
He loves the touch of her lips against his own, the feel of her mouth on his.
But the thing he loves most is that she lets him touch her so.
She didn't quite know what to say, when they finally reached Coruscant. What could she say, now that they were finally out of danger and home? But he spoke, saving her the search for words.
"Do you want to go to your apartment and freshen up?" he asked. "I could come by, later..." He smiled shyly, adorably. "I'd like to take you to dinner, if that's all right."