All of these characters belong to Timothy Zahn and the great man in flannel . . . George Lucas . . . But I give credit to myself for Elori, Tava (Tavitha, same thing), Nathan, Natalie, and my brother for the name (only the name, mind you) of Senator Win Dex (You may laugh now. Yes, I know you want to.). There . . . I made a new disclaimer . . . phew . . .
Email me (Mara Jade Skywalker) : MaraJade@swfan.net
Put my storie's name in the subject or I probably won't read it. DON'T post this or any of my other stories anywhere without my permission first. GOT THAT?! Yes . . . good . . . And, no, I will not take the time to write the other names of those stories here. My name and email should be enough to identify them. Besides, I'm way to lazy to do it. Yes, you heard me: Lazy.
The lone sun of Coruscant rose silently above the Imperial Palace, bathing it in soft oranges and yellows. A soft breeze tugged at Luke Skywalker's hair and robes. He stood against the waist-high wrought iron railing just outside of his quarters. Luke closed his eyes and took a deep and refreshing breath of the beautiful Coruscant morning.
For Luke, it was going to be a wonderful day. One without worries or strife. The academy he'd set up a few years ago was doing fine without him. He was not needed at the moment and for once was glad at the leave of responsibilities that so often clung tightly to his back.
Luke knew the responsibilities would be back soon, but for at least one day he could relax and take a much needed rest. He took one final breath of the new morning and proceeded inside to get ready for the breakfast Leia had planned for him to have with her family.
Luke arrived at the Solo residence about 8:30 and was greeted lovingly by his sister.
"Leia, it's good to see you again," Luke said while giving Leia a warm embrace.
They parted and Leia looked up at her brother with big brown eyes and a warm smile on her face.
"We've all missed you Luke," she said. "I hope you'll stay longer this time."
Luke smiled and gave a small laugh. "Well I'm not really needed anywhere at the moment so I guess you get your wish."
Leia smiled again and left for the kitchen. Luke watched her go and was greeted by his brother-in-law, Han Solo.
"Hey!" Han said with a smile. "How ya' doing kid? The twins and Anakin have been dying to see you lately."
Han gave Luke a playful slap on the back and as if on cue, all of Leia's kids ran out of a nearby hall and rushed towards their uncle.
"Lukie! Lukie!" Anakin, the youngest cried out.
Little Anakin jumped into Luke's arms while Jaina and Jacen hugged at Luke's waist.
"Whoa!" Luke cried out as Anakin nearly knocked the wind out of him. That little four-year old could pack a punch if he wanted.
"Hey you guys," Luke asked as he reached a hand down and tousled Jacen's hair. "How are you doing?"
"We're fine Uncle Luke!" both twins said simultaneously. Luke smiled a toothy smile down at his niece and nephew.
"All right you three," Han interrupted. "Come on let's get going to the kitchen and see what your mother has ready for breakfast."
Han led the two chattering twins to the table while Luke walked, still carrying Anakin, towards the table as well. He listened to a fairly short story of how Anakin had lost his favorite toy and had used the Force to retrieve it. It filled Luke with joy because he always loved to listen to his niece and nephews.
As he set Anakin down in his chair and took his own, he wondered about his own life. Why he'd never had children with a woman for the sole reason that he couldn't find anyone to stay with him. He looked at Leia's kids fondly and wondered if he would ever get a family to call his own.
Leia gave everyone their plate and sat down for a moment to watch her family before they began their meal. Han was trying to settle Anakin in his chair and stop Jacen and Jaina from hitting their utensils on the table at the same time. She smiled and wished Chewie was here. But he had gone off the Kashyyyk for a needed visit to his family.
Leia noticed that she didn't hear Luke saying anything so she looked over to where her brother sat. He was sitting quietly in his seat, watching his niece and nephews. He seemed filled with wonder and something else . . . longing, was it? He must of sensed her watching him and he turned his eyes to her and smiled.
That wasn't good enough for Leia.
*What is it?* she asked.
He sent her soft reassurances through the Force.
*I'll tell you later*
Nodding her head silently with agreement, Leia began her breakfast.
The kids had left for their own form of education after breakfast. Jacen and Jaina to kindergarten and Anakin to preschool. Han was talking with Luke in the family room and Leia came in and sat next to her husband. Luke seemed to pause mid sentence as Han's arm draped loosely over Leia's shoulders. A sad shadow seemed to fall over Luke's face. Han didn't seem to notice, but Leia sure did. She hoped Luke would tell her what was bothering him soon.
"--academy's been doing great without me," Luke continued, "so I just decided that it was time for a vacation," he finished.
"That's great," Han said. "Beause the kids sure have missed you since you last came over...Oh when was it? When the Old Republic formed?"
Luke smiled at Han's joke. "Oh I haven't been gone that long have I?"
"I don't know kid," Han said warily. "It sure seemed like it...I mean after what happened at Nam Chorios you've kinda stayed away. Been keeping to yourself a lot."
Han's statement hit Leia, but she wasn't sure how it would affect Luke. He looked towards her and spoke.
"It's all right Leia...I can handle it."
Leia didn't seem to think so, but she asked again
*Is that what's bothering you?*
All she got was *I don't know. Later okay?*
An awkward silence hung in the air for a minute and Han broke the silence first.
"Well don't worry kid," Han assured him. "You're young and I'm sure there's another girl out there that's just waiting to fall in love with you. But listen I gotta go try to make some of those repairs on the Falcon. Without Chewie they'll take nearly three times as long as they would have. Besides, I've got nothing else to do for the next few hours. I'll catch you later Luke okay? Bye Leia."
Han nodded his head to Luke and smooched Leia on the lips.
"Sure," was all Luke said.
Leia looked over at Luke after Han had left and saw his face looking down on the carpeting. After the door had closed she got up and sat next to her brother.
"Luke, tell me what's wrong."
He picked up his head slowly and looked at her with bright blue eyes.
"Leia...what's it like?" Luke asked quietly. "Being married to Han and having your kids?"
That question surprised Leia. It wasn't exactly what she thought she'd hear.
"Well...it's wonderful waking up to the one you love every morning," Leia explained. "And having the kids around really helps when I feel stressed. They know when to stay quiet or to leave mommy alone. It's not something I can really describe to you though."
Leia waited and felt bad for having a family because Luke didn't. Sure he had herself, Han and their children, but he had no one to call his own. But he will, she told herself.
"Leia," Luke started. "Do you think I'll ever have what you have? Do you think I'll feel that same happiness that you feel with Han and your children?"
He sounded sad and was looking down into his hands. Leia put her arm around her brother and held his hand.
"Luke, I know you'll find what I've found," Leia said. "Han's right. There probably is a girl out there that wants to find you as much as you want to find her. Then you can start your own family and we'll go visit them okay?"
"Yeah," He agreed. "I guess you're right. But Leia...I think I've already found someone."
Leia's eyes opened wide. "Who Luke?" she asked. "I mean...sorry. You don't have to tell me."
Luke laughed a little. "It's all right. But maybe I'll tell you later though. In the meantime, let me get caught up on the news."
Luke turned on the holovid and flipped though the various channels until he found what he was looking for.
Leia began to clean up the kitchen. Tomorrow she'd have to go back to her Presidential office and reinstate some senate member who'd left for some unknown reason. Where was he from? Niori? She'd find out tomorrow.
A small beeping noise from the comm stopped Leia and she walked over to see who it was. The small picture showed a beautiful woman who Leia hadn't seen in months. She was slightly taller than Leia, but the holo's projection made the woman look much, much smaller. Her fiery red hair and sharp green eyes seemed to demand authority even from the comm unit.
"Hello Mara Jade," Leia said nodding. "May I help you?" Leia thought she felt something emanating from Luke's mind, but she ignored it. His head was still turned, but he knew who it was. He wasn't fooling her.
"Leia, I've tried calling Luke at his apartment, but no one answers," Mara said. "I have someone here who is a prime candidate for his Jedi academy. I just want to see if he agrees with me. Do you know where I can find him?"
"As a matter of fact, Mara," Leia said. "Luke's right here with me. If you'd like to come up I'm sure he'd be more than happy to check that for you."
Mara seemed to look over Leia's shoulder at the back of the head she saw poking up from the couch. Leia turned, but she already knew it was Luke who she saw.
"Yes that's Luke," she confirmed for Mara. "You'll come up then?"
Mara turned her eyes back to Leia.
"Yes I'll come up," Mara said. "And I'll bring the candidate with me."
With a nod of her head, she was gone. Leia turned her head towards Luke who was trying to look inconspicuous at the couch.
"I didn't say anything," Luke said, still staring at the screen.
"No," Leia said. "But you seemed to want to say something when Mara called in."
Luke still didn't turn his head, but answered Leia.
"I did?" he asked. "Oh well I didn't want to say anything."
Sure you didn't, Leia thought. Could that be the one he's found? Mara? The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. Mara had a sense of humor, she was very beautiful, tough, friendly and much more. Well at least she was those things around Luke. And she would have to get them to stand next to each other just to see how well they looked together.
"Leia," Luke asked suspiciously. "What are you thinking about?"
"Huh? Oh nothing," she said with a smile.
Luke looked at her with a little confusion, but let it pass.
"Mara's coming here?" Luke asked.
He sounded casual, but Leia's mind was ticking and it sounded more like a wishful thought.
"Yes she is," Leia confirmed. "She's bringing a person who she thinks may have the potential to be a Jedi."
Luke seemed puzzled for a moment.
"Leia, she doesn't have to bring someone to me to do that," Luke said. "Kyp could do it well enough. I thought I already told her that so he could get more practice."
"Well she's already on her way," Leia said. "You can tell her when she comes up."
Mara Jade waited while the turbolift took her and her passenger along to the President's residence floor. Her passenger was named Elori and she was someone Mara had met while on Corellia awhile back. First thing she thought of when she found out the girl was Force-sensitive was to take her to Luke. But hadn't he told her to take new candidates to that Durron kid?
Well Mara wasn't up to taking Elori all the way to Yavin. Besides, maybe seeing Luke would bring out the best in her...or the worst. The turbolift doors opened up onto the floor Mara was looking for.
"Come on," she told Elori.
The woman was a girl really. Only 18 years old, but she had the potential to be a good Jedi if not particularly strong. Elori followed and they stopped when they arrived at the Solo's door.
"This is the President's apartment?" the younger girl asked with wonderment.
Mara had never really thought of it that way. It was Leia's room, sure. But it was only Luke's sister. Nothing special to Mara, but apparently huge to this little one.
"Yeah, Luke's here and I thought I'd bring you here instead of having him go back all the way to his apartment," Mara said. "You'll be fine. He's really rather nice." She was trying to calm down Elori, but wasn't too sure she was doing a good job of it. Elori only swallowed and nodded. Then Mara knocked.
Leia heard the knock on the door and waited until Luke would come to her side before opening it. But he remained at his seat on the couch.
"Luke!" Leia said. "Get over here and greet your guests!" Luke looked up, seemed ready to argue, but turned off the holovid and walked to Leia's side.
"Better?" he asked.
Leia looked him over to make sure he looked presentable and nodded. Then she opened the door.
"I wonder what's taking so long," Mara asked aloud.
"Maybe they just left," Elori answered.
Mara looked down at Elori.
"Oh no," Mara said. "You wanted to come so I took you. Don't freak out on me. They're just normal people on vacation. Luke won't bite your head off and neither will Leia. Just relax okay? You'll see just how normal the Skywalker family can get when they aren't saving the universe okay?"
Elori seemed to digest that, but before she could answer, Leia answered the door smiling with Luke waiting silently at her side.
"Hello Mara," Leia said with that smile on her face. "And is this who you spoke about?" Leia turned to the younger woman by Mara.
"Yes, this is Elori," Mara said. "Elori--" she looked at Leia then to Luke, "This is Leia and Luke. The most famous brother and sister pair in the galaxy."
Leia nodded and put out her hand to Elori.
"Hello Elori," Leia said. "I'm delighted to meet you."
"Me too," Elori's small form said, smiling her best while being scared half out of her mind.
Luke extended his hand to Elori while also extending that annoying calm he seemed to bring everywhere he went.
"Elori," he said bowing his head respectfully.
Those deep blue eyes probably probing Elori for the Jedi potential Mara had said she'd found. They shook hands in a friendly shake and Elori shook it while she gazed wonderingly at both him and Leia at the same time.
"Won't you come in?" Leia asked stepping aside.
Mara and Elori both stepped in and Mara went to take a seat in the small lounging area by the door. Leia pointed for Luke and Elori to do the same.
"Would either if you like something to drink?" Leia asked.
"No thank you," said Mara.
She looked over at Elori who was still staring at the Skywalker twins with a gaping mouth. She gave her a small nudge and Elori seemed to come back to the world.
"Huh?" Elori asked. "Oh-um...sorry. No thank you Madam President."
Leia smiled and gave a short laugh.
"You can call me Leia," Leia said. "And I'm sure you can call Luke by his first name too." Leia looked over at Luke who nodded his head.
"I'd really appreciate it if you would Elori, seeing as how I'm going to call you by your name," Luke said, a smile on his lips. "It's only fair, right?"
*trying to calm the kid down are you Skywalker?*
Luke looked up at Mara and smiled. Something inside of her seemed to melt, but she held up and hoped no one noticed.
*Sure am, Mara.*
"So, Elori, how old are you and where do you come from?" Luke asked as casually as he could to prevent the child from exploding with nervousness.
"I'm 15 sir-I mean Luke," Elori said. "I'm from Corellia."
"Like Han then?" Luke asked. "Well I've found the potential I'm looking for and you can head on over to the academy whenever you want to begin your training. Kyp's not with another student at the moment, so I'm sure he can train you."
Elori's mouth gaped even further.
"Han Solo ? Kyp Durron ?" she asked.
Luke laughed a little.
"Yes," Luke said. "And don't be so amazed, please. It kind of doesn't help much."
Elori nodded her head.
"Well I'll go arrange for a transport to take her to Yavin, Luke, or Mara, do you want to take her?" Leia asked and silently hoped she'd stay so she could find out if she really was the one Luke's heart went to these days.
*I heard that Leia* Luke's thoughts drifted into her mind. *I thought I was hiding it from you* Leia returned.
She could feel Luke's light laughter. *apparently not enough*
"Well I'd take her but there's a few things I want to take care of before I leave," Mara said. "I'm sure Elori wouldn't mind taking a transport would you? You could go out with the next shipment over there."
Mara looked at Elori who nodded in agreement.
"Okay then," Leia said getting up. "I'll go get that transport."
Shortly after, Elori had left out on the transport and Leia and Luke were left alone with Mara. Leia tried to watch the behavior of her brother towards Mara, but he wasn't speaking and Mara looked pretty bored.
"So, Mara," Leia asked trying to start a conversation. "What's all that stuff that you have to do? If you don't mind me asking that is."
"Oh I don't mind," Mara said. "I really have nothing planned at all. I just didn't want to go to Yavin. That place kind of depresses me. People always wearing the same thing." Leia looked to Luke, but if Mara was trying to annoy him, it wasn't working. Actually Luke seemed sort of reluctant to talk. *A bit shy are we today?* she sent Luke.
*stop it* she got in return.
Luke really had it bad for Mara if he got this touchy with Leia. Well then Luke would hate her for this one.
"Mara," Leia asked casually. "You and Luke haven't been together for awhile...why don't the two of you go out and have dinner or something later today?"
She could feel Luke's emotions turn to that of a scared kitten, but she said nothing else. Mara on the other hand seemed to digest it a little. She looked to Luke with those sharp green eyes.
"Well what do you say Skywalker?" she asked. "I'm up to it."
Leia wasn't expecting it to work. This came to her as something of a shock. She looked to Luke and saw him staring at Mara. Did Mara see how much he cared for her? Probably not.
"Um...sure I'll go," Luke said. "We can meet later at my apartment to arrange something."
Luke couldn't believe what he'd just done. Was it a date? He'd kill Leia later. Right now he had to have dinner with Mara and not embarrass himself in the process. The door suddenly opened and Han came in with the kids in front. They ran to see their uncle Luke again, then ran towards the kitchen to eat a snack. Luke was glad for the momentary interruption. He watched Mara curiously as she looked at the kids eating their sandwiches. She looked at them strangely, but Luke couldn't place the expression.
"Mara," Luke asked. "You want to go now to see which restaurant we should go to?"
Might as well get started now, he thought.
"Sure thing," Mara said getting up. "We'll see you later Leia. Bye Han."
Luke said his good-byes as well and they were out the door.
Leia looked to Han and smiled.
"I think Luke and Mara like each other," Leia told her husband.
Jaina came up to her mother and tugged at her pants.
"Is Uncle Luke going on a date with Mara Jade?" Jaina asked.
Leia smiled. Her daughter was so cute.
"I think he is," Leia told her.
"Well why mama?" Jaina asked. "Does he like her? Are they boyfriend and girlfriend? I have a boyfriend!"
Leia and Han laughed. Han answered his daughter this time.
"I think your mother's right," Han said. "They might like each other, but I don't think they're boyfriend and girlfriend. At least not yet. And what's this about you having a boyfriend?"
"Oh nothing..." and she was gone to eat her sandwich.
"I kinda hope that wouldn't come for at least 5 more years," Han said watching his daughter.
Leia laughed at Han.
"Don't worry," she told him rubbing his back. "I'm sure it'll be over by the time he gives her a mud pie."
The walk to Luke's apartment seemed to take all day. He couldn't stop thinking about the woman walking beside him. She was so close he could hear her breathing as she took each step. He looked to the side to see her face better. But he couldn't read anything from it. So he tried to send little tendrils of the Force to feel what was on her mind. Immediately her head snapped up and she looked at him.
"I thought I told you not to do that," Mara said.
"Sorry," Luke apologized. "Just trying to see how you were."
"Well don't worry about me," Mara said turning her attention ahead of her again. "I should be asking you how you're enjoying your vacation."
At least she's talking to me, Luke thought. They had reached his door by then, so he opened it up, allowed Mara to enter first, then he followed and switched on the lights.
"Well it's been good so far," Luke said closing the door. "There's nobody trying to take over the universe for me to stop. Kind of preventing us from working together don't you think?"
Mara looked at Luke and thought for a moment. Was he missing her as much as she missed him? Probably just a joke.
"Yeah I guess so," she told him.
Seeming a little disappointed with her answer, Luke walked over to a small data pad on a nearby desk and started to flip through something.
"Is that the restaurant listing?" Mara asked as she came up to look besides Luke's shoulder.
Luke's shoulder seemed to tense as she came close, but he talked anyway.
"Yeah," Luke confirmed. "Tell me if you see anything you like."
They scrolled down a few listings when Mara found one that was close and had some good looking food.
"That one," she said as she reached a finger past Luke's arm to get it to point at the one she wanted.
"You sure?" he asked.
"I'll call them then and make the reservations."
While Luke was calling Mara sat down on Luke's sofa and noticed it was far newer than Leia's was. Or maybe she just used hers more. Probably the latter. She looked around Luke's apartment and realized she'd never been in here before. There was hardly any furniture, but there was enough to remind someone that there was a person in fact living here.
The place was set up differently from Leia's, but that was due mostly to the lack of furniture and items in the apartment. He had a tall shelf filled with an old brown folded robe, a Jedi holocron, a few framed photos, and other miscellaneous items. There were some pictures with just him and Leia, or with the kids, with Han, or with the whole family. She wondered if there was more of a personality in his bedroom. The lounging area was a bit boring.
"Luke, where's your bathroom?" Mara asked.
He didn't even turn around. Probably too busy trying to arrange things with the restaurant.
"Oh nevermind," she said getting up from the couch. "I'll find it myself."
Like Hoth I'll go to the bathroom, she thought. She got up and walked down a small hallway. Luke didn't even notice her leaving. She passed the bathroom and decided to take a look inside anyway. She was curious after all...and out of Luke's sight. She slipped inside and looked around. It was probably even more of a snoozer than the lounging area. A lone mirror stood above a refresher with some shaving supplies beside it and a few towels draped on a rack.
She decided to go into his bedroom, but before she got there, she noticed another door. Funny...Luke doesn't live with anyone does he? Oh well...we'll find out. She opened the door as quietly as she could and found that the room was empty. That blew the big surprise she thought she'd find. There was nothing in the room except for a window on the opposite side of the door.
She closed off that door and went to the room that was undoubtedly Luke's, plus it was the only door left. She opened the door and wondered why this room was much more decorative than the outside. He had more shelves and bookcases, another desk, and a lone bed. The desk had a computer on top with some scattered papers. There was a sliding glass door to the side of the desk that led out onto a small balcony.
Mara looked at the pictures on the shelves. There were by far more here than there was outside. More of him with his niece and nephews, Han, and Leia. But there was something else. There were lots of him with his students. Mara smiled at them all. There were some that were obviously taken by students. One of Luke doing a handstand on the Yavin 4 soil with no boots on, some dirty mud-streaked pants on, and a tank top. There was another of Luke with the same outfit on taking his lightsaber off and getting ready for a practice fight with Kyp Durron.
There's none of me, Mara thought sadly. Of course there isn't though. He's not as close to you as he is with his students or family. Probably not even when he was training you, she told herself.
Funny though. There were no pictures visible of Gaeriel or Callista. Or maybe Luke just kept them in a safe place.
Mara walked out onto the balcony and enjoyed the breathtaking view. She hadn't looked at Coruscant's sky like this since Luke had given her his father's lightsaber so long ago. It felt like ages ago. She stood there for a few moments, taking in all the times that she and Luke had spent together. Not a lot of casual time. Well that's what this dinner was for, right?
A quiet cough made her turn around and she saw Luke standing quietly at the door to the balcony.
"Making yourself at home?" Luke said as he walked slowly over to Mara's side.
Mara was embarrassed at having invaded his things like she'd done.
"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I just wanted to see if all your things were as boring as they seemed out in the lounge. They're not."
Luke smiled and leaned out on the railing.
"It's beautiful isn't it?" he said taking in a deep breath of the approaching sunset.
"Yes it is," Mara said looking out at the clouds. "You have a wonderful view of the dawn I'll bet."
Luke smiled again.
"I sure do."
Mara felt at peace way up here. Luke's apartment was almost to the top level, much like Leia's, but looking down made Mara feel safe. Was it because she had Luke next to her? Did she trust him? Don't overload your brain, Mara, she told herself.
"Well I made those reservations," Luke said breaking the silence that had fellen. "We should leave in about two hours. You made an excellent choice in choosing."
"Thank you," Mara sad still looking at the streets so far down below. The cloud cars and taxis were bustling about and she could see ships landing on the docking ports nearby.
"If you don't mind me asking..." Luke asked casually. "Where are you going to stay while you're here? Or are you leaving tomorrow morning?"
That last part sounded a bit sad, hopeful maybe? Should I stay? Mara thought. Yeah. Why not?
"I guess I'll be staying in my ship," Mara said. "I've got some supplies there."
"Well..." Luke said cautiously. "I've got an extra room..." Mara just laughed a little.
"Are you inviting me to stay?"
Luke looked at her. Then laughed a little himself.
"Yes I am," Luke said. "Would you like to? Stay here with me for awhile I mean."
Mara didn't see why she shouldn't. She could get to know him better...see what was behind the Jedi mask.
"Okay," she said. "Just let me go now to my ship and pick up some things to bring."
Mara left and Luke was alone on the balcony.
I wonder what parts of my room she was looking through...Luke thought. He went around to his shelves and picked up a photo of himself with his niece and nephews on the beach. They'd made it a point that day to have a sand war and to make sure their Uncle Luke didn't win. He smiled when he remembered the warm memories. He walked to his desk and opened a drawer. Inside was a small photo of Luke with Mara. None of them were staring at the camera because one of Luke's students had taken it while they weren't looking. Mara was sitting on the grass with her face in the view of the camera and Luke was instructing her to lift up a small animal from the grass in front of her.
It was a beautiful photo. One that Luke wished he had put up on his shelves so Mara could of seen. Well maybe I'll put it in her room when she gets settled in, he thought. He went to call someone about putting a new bed in the spare room. He got that and a small bookcase for Mara to put her things on along with a small dresser.
A few minutes after the deliverers had put in Mara's furniture, Luke heard the door in the front open up. It was Mara. Not wanting her to see the picture just yet, Luke put it in his pocket and decided to wait until she'd gone off to sleep or something.
"Luke?" he heard her from by the door.
*Over here* he sent through the Force.
She walked into the small room with a single bag in her grasp. He looked at her expectantly to see what she thought of it.
"Luke, it's..." Mara began.
But she couldn't finish because she didn't know how. She loved the room and Luke could understand.
"So you like it?" he prompted.
"Yes I do," Mara said smiling. "Thank you. Well I'm going to change now for the dinner. If you'll excuse me."
Luke took the hint and went for the door.
Mara inspected her new room with wonder. Luke had done all this, for her? Well he'd probably do this for anyone of his guests. There was nothing in here to begin with anyway. Mara pulled out her things and arranged them on the bookcase Luke had brought in. A few were bathroom items so she'd put those there when she went to fix her hair. Next Mara pulled out the dress she'd carefully folded and put in her bag. It was dark green, long and silky. The dress left the majority of her back bare. There was a long slit in the left side that ran up to her mid thigh. The front wasn't as revealing as the rest of it, but it was fine with Mara. She quickly got into it and peeked out side to see if anyone was in the bathroom. Luke, as it turned out was in his room.
Quietly Mara slipped out and walked as fast as she could to the bathroom. Once there she began to comb her hair. When it was finished, it looked marvelous. Well, it was the best she could do without a hair stylist. It was done up in beautiful golden clips that held her hair up in a loose bun with the rest hanging down a little and with some wisps of hair on her cheeks. She put the rest of her things in their own spots in the bathroom, and quickly went back to her room.
Just in time, she thought. Mara immediately heard Luke's door open up and close as he walked down the hall. She put away all her clothes in their appropriate spots and waited until she knew Luke was seated and waiting. Mustn't keep him waiting long, she thought.
She opened her door and walked out to greet Luke. She looked around the lounging area until she felt Luke's eyes fall upon her. She felt the shock from his mind and smiled.
"How do I look?" Mara asked as she turned herself around in a full circle so Luke could see the entire dress.
Luke stared at her for a moment longer, then smiled.
"You look absolutely beautiful."
He stood up and walked to her. "Where'd you get that dress?" Mara laughed.
"I can't tell you everything," she told him. "You'll just have to guess now won't you?"
He smiled that handsome smile of his again.
"Ready to go?"
"Yes I am."
They took a private car down to the restaurant and Luke got out first, then held his hand out politely to help Mara. She smiled. It felt like a fairy tale. She could truly for one night be totally in love with Luke Skywalker. When they arrived inside of the restaurant several faces turned their heads to see who the new arrivals were. Some gasped at the striking site of Luke and Mara. Others just sat in awe. Luke leaned over and whispered in Mara's ear.
"I think they're staring at you," Luke said. "No wonder, with that lovely face."
She looked up at him and smiled, then looked down and blushed. He really was sweet. They were seated and then when their food was brought they began their meal.
"Luke," Mara began. "Why are there hardly any things in your apartment?"
Luke waited until he was finished chewing and then answered.
"Well I'm hardly there," he said. "Now that I'm going to be there more often, people have been giving me more things to put in there. Mainly Leia and my students."
"Yeah I noticed that there are a lot of pictures of you with your students in there," Mara said.
Luke nodded and began to munch on something else.
"But it still looks so empty," Mara continued. "I think you need a woman's touch in there."
Luke didn't look up, but paused and looked down at his plate. Then he nodded and began to eat again, but much slower. Aware that she might of just hurt him Mara spoke up.
"I'm sorry Luke," Mara said. "I didn't mean to offend you in anyway." He still wasn't looking up so she tried again.
"But hey, I don't have that many things," she said trying to make him feel better. "Maybe I need a man's touch, right?"
Luke laughed a little and looked up into her eyes. Those blue eyes killed her every time she looked at them. She knew she would probably never get to be the lucky girl who would wake up every morning to see those deep blue eyes staring right back. She might never get to know what it was like to hug or even kiss him...or what is was like to feel his hand against hers.
"Tell me Mara," Luke asked. "Do you have a man to add that touch?"
Luke's question caught Mara off guard. She was just about to ask Luke that same question. Well...sort of the same question.
"No I don't," she said. "I haven't found him yet. And what about you, Luke? You found that special lady to add that touch to your things yet?"
Luke looked down at his plate and pushed some food around with his fork, then looked back up at her.
"I know I've found her, but I don't know if she's found me yet."
Mara was scared. Was it her? Or was it someone else who she didn't know?
"Oh really?" she asked as casually as she could. " And where would this unknowing lady be?"
A little forward, but Mara didn't mind. It was part of her personality. Luke's eyes never left her's and she was a bit glad to be staring right back. She never remembered when she had fallen for Luke, but she did and was too stubborn to tell him. At least now she'd have a reason to. If this woman was the one, then she'd tell Luke. There'd be no other time to tell him. Unless she didn't want him to know, which she did...eventually.
"As a matter of fact," Luke said visibly bracing himself a little. "I'm eating a wonderful dinner with her right now."
Mara had been in the middle of a mouthful of whatever it had been that Luke had gotten her and it all of a sudden started to choke her. She started to cough and Luke's eyes went wide. He went to her side and helped her spit out the food.
*What did I do?* Luke's words thrummed surprised through her mind.
*nothing* she told him.
While he was helping her up, Mara spoke to Luke.
"Do you mind if we go back to your apartment?" she asked, trying to hang on to some string of dignity. "I don't want to choke anymore."
"Sure," Luke said.
He called the waiter to come and give him the check.
"Is everything all right sir?" the waiter asked. "Is your wife okay?"
Mara tried to smile and tell the man that they weren't married, but decided against it. It had a nice ring to it...
"She's not feeling too good right now," Luke told the man. "I think we'll go home. Could I pay the check?"
So Mr. Jedi Master doesn't mind me being mistakely called his wife either huh?
"Certainly sir," the waiter said handing him the check. "Here you go."
"Thank you," Luke said taking the check.
He led Mara to the paying booth and gave them his account card They took off the amount of the dinner, then Mara and Luke left.
They walked back to Luke's apartment slowly, hand in hand without even realizing it.
"Are you all right?" Luke asked softly.
"Don't worry, I'm fine," she assured him. "I'm sorry for wanting to leave so early. I think I ruined your evening."
Luke smiled and squeezed her hand. Seems someone did realize their hands were together after all.
"It's okay," he said. "You're all right and that food didn't kill you. Sorry for causing it all. I didn't think it would do that to you."
They had reached the Imperial Palace and Luke led Mara inside to the turbolift. There they stood in comforting silence. The turbolift's doors opened up and Luke got out first and reached a hand inside to get Mara. He knew perfectly well that she could get out by herself, but he wanted to spoil her tonight. It could be the only chance he had. Mara smiled sweetly and took his hand in hers.
They walked once again hand in hand to Luke's room. Mara put her head on Luke's shoulder and begun to rest a little. Luke took her left hand in his left and put his other arm around her thin shoulders. They passed Leia's quarters and Luke had the funny feeling he was being watched.
*Go to sleep Leia*
He felt Leia's peaceful presence suddenly straighten up.
He smiled and walked the rest of the way to his room.
One he got in, he tried to revive Mara a little to put her in her bed. He put her down on the couch and then lifted her up with his arms to take her to her bed. Walking down the hall, Mara's arms suddenly wrapped themselves around Luke's neck.
"Uh-oh," Luke said.
He stopped short and tried to think of how he'd get Mara to bed now. Once in her room, he put her gently down, but she wouldn't let go of his neck. I can't stand here all night, he thought. So he tried to pry her hands off. It wouldn't work, and he didn't want to hurt her.
So he picked her up again and went to his room. Looks like I won't be able to change, he thought. Doesn't matter, I'm too tired to anyway. Luke's bed was a bit bigger than the one he'd brought Mara and could easily fit himself and Mara on the bed the way she was holding him. He laid her down in the bed and was surprised to find out that she had let go of him. He smiled.
"Now why couldn't you of done that in your room huh?"
Well at least this way he could change out of his dining clothes.
Being careful not to wake Mara, he undressed and put on some sleeping pants and at the last moment thought to put on a T-shirt. He didn't think it'd be too nice to have her wake up to a half naked man. Then he helped Mara into the blankets and got in himself. The moment he got in, he turned his head to look at Mara. The night's glow made her seem so beautiful. The moonlight bathed her face in shadows, and highlighted her strong features. She looked so peaceful sleeping. He silently wished he could see her like this all the time, but Mara wouldn't like someone like Luke... he bent over and kissed her softly on the lips, then fell asleep.
TO BE CONTINUED...
The next day...
Luke and Mara's relationship has gotten to a comfortable position (how comfortable can you get after a day? But it's my story . . .) until Luke has a horrifying dream...or is it a Jedi Vision?
ADVENTURES OF A VISION part 2: VISION OF PAIN
Mara woke up and tried to remember where she was. It didn't really work. Her body felt strange. She opened her eyes and saw she was in a formal evening gown. That's why I feel so weird, she thought. No pajamas. She tried to stretch, but the dress wouldn't let her. Blast it, where am I? She turned her head to the right and noticed a clear doorway leading to a small balcony...
Funny, she thought, doesn't Luke have one just like that? Uh-oh...Mara turned her head to the left...and almost laughed with relief. She felt herself wilting with thanks that she hadn't been kidnapped by someone last night.
Luke was to her left. His back was towards her with a T-shirt pulled up halfway by tosses and turns of the night. She smiled. Wait a minute-why aren't I in my own room? Forget it, Mara. At least you fell asleep in this thing. But surprisingly she was very comfortable. Maybe I'll ask Luke if he wants to sell his bed...mattress and all. She smiled again and reached out a hand to play with Luke's messed up hair. She took a few strands in her fingers and twirled it a bit. At least he's not awake...that way I can admire him without him looking at me strangely...but only if he would turn around so I could see his face...
Luke seemed to mumble something then turned onto his back. The T-shirt was half pulled up here too. She smiled and continued to look at him. Just being here made Mara feel special. She lowered her eyes and they grew wide when she saw just how muscle worked his abdomen and chest were. Looks like the all mighty Jedi Master keeps in excellent condition. Not too shabby, she thought.
Luke again turned, but to face Mara's direction. This is a good change...she reached out her hand again and ran her index finger along his forehead, down the side of his face, then along his lips. Did I dream it, or did someone give me a kiss good night? Must of been a dream.
She pulled her hand back and turned around to get a little more comfortable. She closed her eyes for a moment's rest and took a deep breath. When she opened her eyes again, she found Luke's much more sleepier ones staring at her.
Wasn't this something she had been dying to do yesterday? Wake up and see Luke's eyes staring right into hers? Well you got your wish, Mara. He smiled sleepily at her, his eyes blinking slowly open and closed.
"How you feeling this morning?" Luke said almost unintelligibly.
Mara smiled and laughed a little.
"You should get back to sleep," she told him. "I'm fine. How'd I end up in here by the way?"
Luke stretched and his shirt went up a little more. Realizing that it had, he looked down and pulled it back. Embarrassed, Luke looked at her.
"Sorry," he said blushing. "It wasn't supposed to do that."
"It's all right," Mara said. "I don't mind."
She smiled up at Luke, then looked at him expectantly.
"What?" he asked. "Oh. How'd you get here? Long story. I'll tell you over some breakfast okay?"
"Okay," she said. "By the way, why do you get the comfier bed.?"
That made Luke laugh.
"How would you know which one's comfier if you've only slept in one?"
"Okay, I can accept that," Luke said. "Sorry you're still in those clothes, but I don't think you would have liked it if I had taken the liberty myself to put you in something more appropriate for sleep."
At least he thinks about the other person...but you should of known that Mara.
"Thank you for respecting my privacy," Mara said. "I'm sure I would of done the same for you. Would I have been able to carry you that is."
"I'm not that heavy," he said. "Well for a male I think. Oh well. It's too early in the morning to be thinking so hard." He reached a hand over and stroked her cheek.
"Do you remember what I told you yesterday that got you choking?"
This is when I tell him, Mara thought.
Mara nodded her head, her eyes never leaving Luke's. "I want to tell you something. She has found you. She found you a long time ago. She was just too stubborn to tell you."
Luke looked at Mara with misty blue eyes.
"You're serious aren't you?" Luke asked Mara.
She nodded her head and the next thing she knew was that she was in Luke's arms, holding him and letting him cry silently with relief. She felt his strong arms wrapped around her, filling her with a warmth she'd never known before. For Luke it had been a long and hard road in getting here. It must be a wonderful feeling for him to finally be with someone after a long time. Luke was the only person Mara had ever truly loved. At least she thought it was love. She hoped they would stay together for as long as they had a life to live. Luke nudged away a little from Mara and held her at a distance. He smiled and wiped at the quiet tears on his face.
"Let's go tell Leia okay?" he asked as he caressed the side of her cheek with the back of his hand. "This'll mean a lot to her."
"I think she deserves this," Mara said. "But first...can I get changed?"
Luke laughed. "Sure thing."
Mara went to her room and got into some work pants that looked fine for walking around. She put on a tight fitting shirt with a small jacket and combed all the tangles out of her hair. She left it down because she noticed that whenever she did, Luke always watched her a bit more. She got a question from Luke and answered back. *Almost ready* She shoved on her boots and left her room. Luke was waiting by the door holding a piece of fruit for Mara and one for himself.
"Breakfast?" he asked holding out the colored fruit. "Sorry, but there wasn't a lot of time to make something more suitable."
He handed her the fruit and she took a big bite.
"Tastes good enough," she said munching on her breakfast. Come on."
Satisfied with her fruit, Mara followed Luke out to the hall. The sat outside in a nearby lounge and finished their Ôbreakfast' then went to Leia's door. Luke knocked and then waited.
"We should of called first, Luke," Mara pointed out.
*too late for that isn't it?*
"Yeah I guess huh?" she answered back.
The door opened and Han Solo smiled.
"Hey guys!" han said brightly. "Wasn't expecting to find you at the door."
Luke looked at Mara then reached out and held her hand. Mara gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
"We're here to tell you and Leia something," Luke said. "Is she here?"
Han eyed the two curiously.
"Sorry kid," he said shaking his head. "She's not here. Didn't she tell you? The council wanted her to reinstate some new senator from Niori. But are you willing to at least tell half of us?" He looked back and forth between his brother-in-law to Mara. "I think I know what it is anyway..." he said witha sly smile. "Congratulations you two. Leia would love to hear this...had she been here."
Luke looked over at Mara again, and smiled.
"Thanks Han," Luke said. "Do you know when she'll be back?"
"Well...we could call her when this meeting's over to see. But probably not until dinner time."
"We could spend the day with the kids if you wanted." Luke suggested.
Han seemed to think about it.
"Okay," Han said. "I'm going to stay here with you guys. They've gotten a bit used to their old dad and I've gotten a bit used to them. Oh-sorry. You guys wanna come in?"
Han stepped to the side and let Luke and Mara in. The new couple came in hand by hand and sat over on the couch. They sat down, still holding hands. It seemed like if they'd let go, then they'd lose each other. Han stepped into the kitchen and finished eating his breakfast.
"Sorry you guys," he said inbetween mouthfuls of pastry. "But the kids are still asleep. Knowing how good they know when you're around though Luke, they'll be awake soon."
"Could I go take a peek?" Mara asked Han.
He looked up from the glass that had appeared in his hand.
"Sure," he said. "I don't see why not. Just go down the hall and it's the one next to the bathroom. But be quiet. The longer they're asleep, the longer I have to put off making them breakfast," he finished with a smile.
Mara got up and went down the hall, leaving Luke with Han.
"So, kid..." Han asked. "How long have you had a thing for Mara?"
Luke got up and sat across from Han at the table.
"Awhile I guess," he said with a shrug. "I never really remembered when it actually started."
"Well I'm happy for you Luke." Han said with a smile on his face. "At least when you guys sit down and decide to have a family we can go visit them."
Luke laughed quietly.
"Yeah," Luke agreed. "I think Jaina's going to love having a little cousin around. But Han, we've only gone on one date. It's a little early to be talking about having children don't you think? "
"You'd better watch it," Han warned. "If Jaina treats that baby like she treats her dolls you're in trouble. And hey, it's never too late to be talking about kids. You two seem to really hit it off together. Who knows? Maybe she'll be the first Mrs. Luke Skywalker."
Luke laughed. After a moment of silence, Han spoke up again.
"How did your dinner go?"
"Well...not too good," Luke admitted. "Mara almost choked to death so we left."
"Ouch," Han said with a face. "How'd that come about?"
"I kind of decided that was the time to tell Mara how I felt about her."
"Well you almost killed her," Han said. "You should be proud."
Luke looked at his friend and shook his head. Then Han spoke again.
"Wait-did you two leave together or did she go back to her ship?" Han asked. "I thought Leia said something, but it was too late and I was half asleep."
Luke looked down at the table when he told Han what had happened.
"Um...she's not staying in her ship..." Luke said quietly.
Han's eyes went a little wide as he downed the rest of his drink.
"Oh really now?" he asked. "And just where might she be staying? With you?"
Luke looked up at Han a little embarrassed.
"And she spent the night there yesterday?" Han asked, a smile playing around the corner of his lips.
Luke, just realizing where Han was going with this, tried to smooth things out.
"Wait-Han it's not what you think-"
Han smiled then laughed.
"I never thought you had it in you kid," he said shaking his head in amazement. "Try and make up a dinner gone wrong that way, and I'm sure she'd want to live with you."
"Han, that's not what happened," Luke said. "We decided she'd stay after we left your apartment yesterday. I've got an extra room so I set it up for her."
"And did she sleep in that room last night?" Han asked.
"No she didn't-"
That only made Han laugh even harder.
"I mean she was already asleep so I just took her to my room," Luke said, glad the truth was out. "I'm not like that Han."
Han's laughter had toned down a bit.
"Yeah I know kid," his friend said starting on another pastry. "I just like teasing you."
Luke looked down the hall for a second.
"I think I'll go join Mara with your kids, all right?"
Han nodded and Luke was walking down the hall in a few seconds.
Mara entered the children's room on tip-toe being careful not to wake them. It was a children's room so it was filled with toys. Mara crept over to the twin's beds and knelt down by Jaina's bed. She looked so peaceful lying there. Her small mouth opened and closed with each mighty breath she took. Mara poked up her head and looked over at Jacen. They looked so much like Han and Leia.
Where's Anakin? Ah. She found the smallest child's bed and went over to it. Anakin was the one that seemed less like his parents. His hair wasn't as dark as his older brother and sister's hair.
His eyes suddenly opened and he looked up at Mara with some confusion, then decided all was well. His eyes were what caught Mara's attention. They were a chilling icy blue. Nothing like Leia, Han, or any of his siblings. More like Luke.
"Hi auntie Mara," the child said sleepily.
Did he just call me auntie ? Then before she could say hello back, Anakin closed his eyes and went back to sleep. Why are his eyes blue? The twin's looked so much like little versions of their parents, but Anakin reminded Mara a little of Luke. He was in his own world, apart from the rest. Much like Luke was in real life. Mara wondered just how many people really understood Luke...or Anakin, for that matter.
A soft hand fell on her shoulder and she turned around to see Luke looking quietly at Anakin.
"Found a favorite?" he whispered.
Mara smiled and stroked Anakin's cheek with her hand.
"He just called me auntie," Mara said quietly.
"And you didn't like it?"
"No," Mara said slowly. "I actually liked the sound of it."
"Well," Luke said coming around Anakin's bed and kneeling down beside it. "I don't blame him for wanting one. He's probably mad at his Uncle Luke for never giving him more of a family to relate to."
That made Mara feel so sad. Luke really did want a family didn't he?
"I wouldn't blame his uncle," she said softly. "Only those who have left him and those who don't want to be with him. I think he watches out for you, Luke."
Luke continued to look at Anakin and Mara watched. She'd seen the way he was around the kids. He would make a great father.
"You really think so?" he whispered back to Mara.
*You weren't supposed to hear that.*
"I also think," Mara spoke up quietly. "That Anakin looks a lot like his Uncle. His brother and sister look more like their parents."
"I want to ask you a question," Luke asked.
Mara nodded her approval and Luke continued. "Are you opposed to having kids of your own?"
"No..." she said. "I just need to find the right person to be their father. I never thought I'd be good with kids anyway."
"Well Anakin seems to think you'd make a perfect aunt," Luke said looking at Anakin. "And besides, I think it's something you can grow into."
"Sure about that Luke?"
Mara walked and knelt down besides Luke.
"You know what else I think?" she whispered. She waited until Luke's eyes were on her to continue.
"I think that I might of found the man who can help me be a good mother to my children."
Luke looked at Mara then down at Anakin and smiled. Then he looked at Mara. Luke really did know what Mara was like. He knew everything about her that made him love her so much. Did he love her? Did she love him? Luke's hand slowly went up and gently cupped her face. His lips came to hers and they shared their first kiss together.
It made Mara feel whole inside. She did love this man. He made her feel complete. She wanted to stay like this with Luke forever, but knew it couldn't be good if the kids saw them like this.
*Let them wake up* she heard Luke's voice through her head. He reached up with his other hand and used it to hold the other side of her face. Luke's kiss was wonderful. It was warm, tender, and loving. His mind completely filled hers until all she could perceive were Luke's soft thoughts, and his lips gently moving against hers. He picked up one of his hands and slowly caressed her hair, then moved it down to her neck. His hands were so warm and soft...She kissed Luke back, and could feel him smiling.
A small little giggle from the bed beside them made them part a bit early and look down. Mara and Luke saw little Anakin sitting on his bed giggling quietly so as not to wake his siblings.
"Are you two married now?" He said with wide and excited eyes.
Luke smiled and tousled Anakin's hair.
"No we're not little one."
"At least not yet," Mara added.
Luke looked over at Mara with nothing but farm boy excitement in his eyes. He moved his hand and have hers a gentle squeeze. *Thank you* he sent her.
Mara squeezed back. Anakin looked up at them then started to get out of bed. "I'm going to tell daddy that I'm going to have an aunt!"
"Wait Anakin," Luke whispered. "Can we keep it a surprise? Maybe our little secret? I don't want your mother to get too overworked about this okay?"
Anakin came back to his only uncle.
"Okay Lukie," Anakin said.
"Thank you," Luke said with a sigh of relief.
If Leia made arrangements for a wedding Luke wasn't ready for, no matter how much he cared for Mara, he'd make sure Leia got what was coming to her. Anakin left for the kitchen anyway and Mara and Luke were left alone. Well not really. Jacen and Jaina were still there. Luke turned to Mara again.
"Not yet?" He smiled and bent down to kiss Mara again. Her whole body seemed to melt. I could do this forever...
Jacen and Jaina woke up and saw their uncle kissing the lady they'd known as Mara Jade.
They giggled and Jaina told her brother, "I told you they liked each other!"
They left quickly for the kitchen to join their brother.
Mara and Luke knew the twins had waken up, but Luke didn't let anything disturb them this time. Mara could feel Luke's warm breath on her every time he came up for some air. He looked into her eyes for a moment, studying the features he knew so well. Her own eyes studied his face. The scars from the wampa attack he'd described to her one time, and she loved to look into his intense eyes. They were so blue...Luke smiled at her and rested his forehead against hers.
"I know this'll sound a bit weird, seeing as how we've only been on one date..." Luke said quietly. "But I've felt like this forever and I can't keep it in anymore."
He looked into Mara's eyes and looked down to hold both of her hands in his.
"Mara..." he began. "I want you to know...that I love you with all my heart and soul. I never want to leave you again." How ironic. didn't I say I loved him too?
"It's not so weird Luke..." Mara said softly. "I love you too."
He smiled and started to laugh off some of the tension. He kissed her lightly on the lips one last time before they left.
"Come on," Luke said getting up and offering Mara his hand. "Who knows what those kids are telling Han by now."
They got up and walked to the kitchen. Han was on the floor playing with the kids and letting them climb all over him. He looked up and Luke and Mara.
"I was wondering where you guys went," Han said as he sat Anakin on his lap. "Oh I called Leia. She should be back around the time I told you. Unless you want to go now to see if they'll let you see her."
Luke thought for a minute. They could go now. Or they could just call her and tell her themselves...
"Maybe we'll call her instead," he said.
"Whatever you say kid," Han said. "You can use our communit over there."
Luke walked quietly to the unit and dialed in Leia's private office number. A tone came and he waited until the call went through.
"Luke!" Leia said. "I didn't expect you to call me here."
"Hi Leia," Luke said witha smile. "We just couldn't wait until you got home to tell you."
Leia looked at Luke then tried to see who else he was talking about. Luke stepped to the side and Mara slipped in next to him.
"Oh you two?" Leia said while looking back and forth between them. "You're a? Then you might get? Oh Luke, I'm so happy for you! We can talk more when I get there. I have another meeting in about half an hour."
"Okay Leia," Luke said. "Good-bye." Leia nodded then she was gone.
The wait for Leia took up the entire afternoon. Luke and Mara helped Han watch over the kids. When Leia did come, she was ecstatic. She couldn't stop smiling. Luke told her about Mara living with him, but she took the news well. Much later, after the kids had fallen asleep, Luke and Mara slipped out and went home. Then they decided to get some rest in themselves.
"Good night, Mara," Luke said with a kiss on her lips. But Mara didn't want to leave. She kept holding him, gently pressing her lips to his. He put his arms around her and smiled. "Mara...we have to get to sleep okay? We can continue this tomorrow."
Mara still continued on, but finally stopped.
"Night Luke," Mara said at last.
He left for his room and Mara shortly after went to hers. She got into something more comfortable for sleeping in and turned out her lights. She stretched out with the Force and found Luke already fast asleep. Mara yawned and then settled in for the night. She tossed and turned, but couldn't find a comfortable enough spot.
She looked over at the chrono by her bed and saw that it had been three hours since she'd first laid her head down. It's been that long? Fed up, she left her room and started to walk around hoping it would make her tired enough that she'd be able to fall asleep. After about 15 minutes, Mara went back into her room and looked out the window. Looking at Coruscant at night made her feel so small. The huge taxis and long lines made her wonder just how many people worked late at night. The moon was bright, but the city didn't need the moon. It had enough illumination coming from the street lights and from the buildings. The stars also shone brightly against the deep blue of the sky.
She went back to her small bed and tried once more to fall asleep. She couldn't. Frustrated, she took to looking at the things in her room. Her clothes were in their drawers, but her jacket hung on the floor. She looked at her shelf with a few things she'd put up. Then she noticed that something was there that she hadn't seen earlier.
Curious, she walked up to it and saw it was a small picture with a note by it. The picture was of her and Luke at Yavin. She was looking at something and Luke looked like he was talking to her. Then she remembered. He was teaching her how to pick up the animal. Looks like there is a picture of me, she thought. But who put it here? Luke? She opened the note and read away:
My dear Mara,
I found this for you. I'll bet you thought there
wasn't one with you and me. But no camera can capture
the beauty you radiate when you look up. I had a student
take this, and I thought you'd like to keep it. You meant
so much to me then as you do now. You'll always be in
my heart no matter what you decide to do.
Mara smiled. I wonder...she put the picture back and put the note in a pocket, then quietly walked to Luke's room. She opened the door and saw him curled up facing away from the balcony. Luke had no shirt on, and looked cold without the covers. So Mara put them back on him. Mara went to the other side of the bed and crept inside. It was so warm even with Luke all the way on the other side. And it was much softer than hers was. At least now she knew he defintely got the comfier bed.
She pulled the blankets over her and went to Luke's back. She put her arms around him and kissed his neck.
He turned around with his eyes still closed and kissed her forehead as if dreaming. After a long time he finally opened his eyes.
"Mara?" he asked, his sense coming fully awake. "What are you doing here?"
"I couldn't fall asleep in my bed," Mara said.
"It's 2 0'clock in the morning!"
"I'm sorry," Mara said pitifully.
"And you thought you could fall asleep in my bed?" he asked.
"Well it's much nicer than mine is," she told him. "And it's a lot warmer."
"Well yours might be warm too if you slept in it a little." Luke sighed. "I'm sorry."
"I'm invading your space aren't I?" Mara asked. "I'll go back."
Mara got up out of the bed, but was stopped by Luke's strong yet gentle grip.
"No, it's okay," he said. "I enjoy you being here with me. It'll take some getting used to, but I don't mind."
Mara smiled and sank back into the covers.
Luke yawned and looked at Mara. "Comfy?"
She nodded and Luke got settled in again. He pulled the sheets up waist high and closed his eyes. Mara scooted in closer and put her head on Luke's warm chest. She put her arm around him and closed her eyes.
Luke felt for Mara's presence, but she was already asleep. She felt so small sleeping on his side, but Luke didn't mind. He put his arm around her small frame and closed his eyes...
The shadow of a woman lay in a bed holding two babies. A man--was it Luke?--walked up to her and took one of the small children in his arms. The child looked up with wonder in his big blue eyes. Luke smiled back at him and returned him to his mother. He picked up his other child. His little girl. Suddenly Luke's mind was filled with fear, but he quickly pushed it back with ease and tried to concentrate on what had caused his unease. The babies started to cry and their mother desperately tried to calm them down.
He shouted something to the woman and he put the child back in her arms. He ran to the desk to try to grab for his lightsaber...there was an explosion...a door blew open...someone on the other side, an evil one wanted his babies...the lightsaber came too late...and his mind went black. He awoke...and couldn't feel the woman or the little ones he knew were his children anywhere...
He shouted something to the woman and he put the child back in her arms. He ran to the desk to try to grab for his lightsaber...there was an explosion...a door blew open...someone on the other side, an evil one wanted his babies...the lightsaber came too late...and his mind went black. He awoke...and couldn't feel the woman or the little ones he knew were his children anywhere...
Luke woke up with a gasp. He had sweat all over his body and felt as if he'd just run a marathon.
"Luke? What's wrong?" Mara asked, her voice thick with concern.
Luke turned his head to the side and was glad to see Mara there. He pulled her towards him and gave her a hug.
"Mara, you're all right."
"Of course I am," she said sounding confused. "I just had a little insomnia that's all. You're all wet. You screamed in your sleep, too. What's wrong?"
Luke let go of Mara and put a hand to his face. He was shaking badly.
"Luke, tell me what's wrong," Mara sounded a little mad now.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I'll be right back."
Luke got up and ran to the bathroom. There he got sick in the toilet and sat up against the wall, still shaking. He could feel his heart pounding, and it only made things worse. What's happening to you, Luke? Don't let that scare you so much. You're frightening Mara half out of her mind. He tried to calm down, but the fear from his dream--was it a dream?--kept returning.
Mara came running to the bathroom.
"Luke?" she asked, the concern gone now replaced with fear. "What's wrong with you?"
She came up to the counter and got a little towel wet with cold water. She came up to Luke and felt his forehead.
"You're burning up," she asked as she applied the cool towel. "Did you eat something bad?"
He tried to shake his head no, but he couldn't move. The cold towel felt so good against his skin. He could feel the worry seeping out of Mara even without the Force. Her concern for him made him feel better. It was almost as good as the cool towel against his hot head. He started to breath slower and started to gain better control of himself.
"Better?" Mara said as she tried to use the Jedi techniques Luke himself had taught her to calm Luke down.
He finally was able to nodd his head. She took the wet cloth, wrung it out, and put some more cold water on it. Then she started to cool down the rest of his body.
"You wanna take a cold shower or something?" Mara asked.
But Luke never answered. He fell slumped against the wall and fainted.
"Luke!" Mara yelled. "Don't even tell me what's wrong with you and you decide to faint on me?"
She tried to get to Leia, but wasn't sure if her mind call had gotten through.
Leia thought someone was calling her name. It wasn't one of the twins, but she was awake still.
*Who is it?* She immediately felt Mara's relief that she'd heard her.
*What's wrong Mara?*
*What's wrong Mara?*
Well it worked.
*I need help, please. The door's open. Please come.*
Mara tried to wake Luke up, but he was knocked out cold.
*Come one farm boy, don't leave me now. Wake up. Wake up! You can at least tell me what's wrong.*
She got nothing in return, so she tried to at least get Luke into a more comfortable position. Had he been awake it would of been comfortable, but he kept slumping over. She heard the front door open up. Boy Leia must have ran.
*Over here Leia.*
She felt Leia's rushed okay and in less than three seconds, Leia was beside Mara.
"What happened to him?" Leia asked running a critical eye over her brother.
"Leia?" Mara heard Han's voice call out from the front door.
"I told him to stay with the kids," Leia said while trying to help Mara get Luke up. He'd slumped down again.
"We were asleep and then he just woke up," Mara tried to explain. "He had screamed during his sleep. I thought he'd just had a bad dream, but then he came here. He never told me what was wrong with him. He was so hot though, Leia."
"Whatever got him so sick isn't going to leave him alone anytime soon," Leia said glancing quickly at the toilet. "I'll go call a medic to come see what's wrong with him."
Leia left Mara alone. Han soon came and told someone to stay away from the bathroom.
"What happened to him?" Han asked.
He looked over at the toilet and made a face. "On second thought, I don't think I wanna know."
"Well we were asleep," Mara said. "And he screamed and woke up all scared. Then he ran in here."
Han looked at Mara. She looked miserable. Her hair was a mess, and her clothes were all damp from the sweat on Luke's body. He wasn't wearing a shirt so it stuck to her pretty fast.
"Here let me help," Han said as he got Luke up.
He put Luke's arm around his neck and started to walk out of the bathroom.
"Mara, can you tell the kids not to come in here?" Han asked. "I don't think they'd like to see their uncle like this. Take them to your room okay?"
"Okay." Mara said.
She went out and led the kids to her room.
"Mara, what's wrong with my uncle?" Jacen asked.
They might have been asleep, but they were wide awake now.
"I don't know honey," Mara admitted. "But don't worry. Any of you, okay? I'm sure he'll be just fine."
Anakin walked to Mara with a worried expression on his little face.
"How come you're shaking auntie Mara?" Anakin asked.
"I just got a little scared that's all," Mara told him. "We don't know what's wrong with your uncle yet. I'm fine now." "Did Uncle Luke have a bad dream?" Jaina spoke from her corner on Mara's bed. "I always go to my mommy when I have a bad dream."
"Come here, all of you."
Mara took the Solo children to the window and sat on the carpet.
"You all understand that your uncle is a little sick right now?"
She got a nod from all three heads.
"Well, the doctor is coming to help him get better. I don't know if a bad dream made your uncle get real sick like he did, but I don't want you to worry. You let me and the doctors do all the worrying okay?"
They nodded their heads again.
"You like our uncle?" Jacen asked.
Mara looked at him, but she could tell it was something all three kids wanted to know.
"Yes, I care for your uncle very much," Mara said.
"Is that why you're living with him now?" Jaina asked.
"Yes," she said. "That's why I'm here." She heard the door open once more.
"That's the doctor. I want you all to stay right here understand? I'm going to see what's wrong and I'll come back and tell you okay? Everything's going to be just fine."
She got up, turned on the light and closed the door behind her.
Down the hall she saw the medic speaking quietly with Leia. Leia noticed Mara and interrupted the medic for a moment.
"How are the kids?" she asked with concern.
"Oh they're okay," Mara said. "I told them to stay in my room. You think they'll listen?"
Leia smiled, but she was too tired to convince Mara.
"They'll listen," Leia said. "They know when something's gone wrong. Oh-this is the medic who checked up on Luke." She turned to the medic. Roommate wouldn't sound to good, so Leia tried a different approach.
"This is Luke's fiancee," Leia told the medic. "She's the one who found Luke."
The medic nodded his head solemnly to Mara.
"Hello miss," he said. "We've checked up on Master Skywalker, and we've decided to take him in for at least the rest of the night. He seems to just of suffered from a good scare, but we'll go and check up on him at the clinic anyway."
Mara nodded, to confused to say anything else. Her eyes started to well up with tears as the impact of what had happened just hit her. What had scared Luke so much? It was starting to rub off on her.
"Can I come with you?" Mara asked.
The medic nodded his approval and left to help the stretcher-bound Luke get boarded on a repulsor bed. Two other assistants helped and one led Mara down after the floating repulsor bed to the medical wing of the Imperial Palace.
Leia went into Mara's small room and found her three children sitting quietly under a window. They didn't look scared. Only sleepy. Jaina was the oldest so she felt obliged to speak first.
"Mama, where's auntie Mara?" she asked. "She said she'd be right back."
"Honey," Leia said. "Mara went with Uncle Luke to see a doctor who can tell what's wrong with him and help him...but Mara's not your aunt sweetie."
"Yes she is! She's gonna be!!" claimed little Anakin.
Leia looked at her littlest son, but didn't question it. He'd done weirder things.
"Come on," Leia said gathering up her children. "We're going to go get some sleep so we can go see your uncle first thing in the morning. He should come home tomorrow and we want to be with him when he does. Okay?"
"But we wanna go now!" Jacen protested. "Can't we go with Auntie Mara? Why'd they let her go and not us? We wanna go!" Leia was tired and not ready to argue.
"We'll see what we can arrange for tonight then," Leia sad tiredly. "Come on."
They followed her out of Mara's room and then went to Han outside. He took them out of Luke's apartment and down the hall. The trip to the medical wing was a quiet one. No one spoke, but perhaps they were just too tired. Leia had to stop halfway to pick up Anakin who was falling asleep.
When they reached the front office to the small hospital, Leia asked if they could at least go and see Luke through a window. But the nurse let them go directly to his room. When they got to Luke's room, they found Mara sitting in a chair besides Luke's bed holding his hand.
"How is he?" Leia asked while she took another seat on the opposite side of Luke.
"He's fine," Mara said tiredly. "They said that he needs to wake up before they can really do anything else."
She looked like a mess.
"Mara, if you want to go home and rest, we'll stay here," Leia offered. "Or at least one of us will. An adult has to go back to at least watch the kids."
"No Leia," Mara said. "It's all right. I want to stay. They're going to bring me in a bed or something so I can stay the night."
The Solo children came up and tried to sit at least besides Mara. Anakin was already asleep, so he stayed with his mommy. Jaina came up and crawled into Mara's lap. Mara smiled down at her and played with her hair. Jaina laid her head down against Mara's chest and soon fell asleep. Jacen went to his daddy to do the same.
At least half an hour went by before someone came in to check on Luke. He still wasn't awake, so they left. A few minutes later a doctor came in wanting to see Mara. She got up quietly still holding Jaina and went outside to see what he wanted. She soon came back and sat down again. A few minutes after that, they heard a cough coming from the bed. Mara's head snapped up and Leia and Han looked over at Luke's still form. He coughed again and Mara reached out, held his hand and squeezed it, trying to fill him with hope to wake up.
Luke's eyes slowly opened and his eyes took in where he was. He saw Mara first, then Leia, then Han.
"Luke, what happened to you?" Mara asked.
Luke tried to find his voice. Was he still scared? No, he'd calmed down considerably.
"Don't laugh," Luke said. "But I think I just had a bad dream. You brought me to the hospital?!"
"When you wouldn't wake up Luke," Han said from his corner of the room. "We didn't know what to do, so Leia called the medic."
"I would of waken up...eventually," Luke said.
The medic walked in shortly after.
"I thought I heard voices in here," he said smiling. "How are you feeling Master Skywalker? I hear you got a little sick at home."
Luke sighed in slight annoyance at having been brought all the way here for what was just a bad dream. Or what he desperately hoped was just a bad dream and not a Jedi vision.
"Nothing happened," Luke said. "I probably just ate something bad."
"Oh well we thought it might of been that," the medic said. "So we scanned you for food poisoning when you were first brought in."
"See then?" Luke said. "It was just something I ate."
The medic cleared his throat.
"We checked," he began. "But it came up negative. You were not food poisoned Master Skywalker."
The room was silent. Luke turned his face away. He didn't want to tell them what had happened. He would just worry them. Especially Mara.
"Luke," Mara's voice spoke softly from the seat beside him. "Please tell me what happened."
She sounded worried. Well he wasn't going to tell her only to worry her more. He'd just make things worse.
"It was nothing," Luke said still not staring at Mara. "I don't know why I got sick."
"But Luke, you screamed in your sleep, and-"
"I said it was NOTHING!" Luke growled. "Now can you please take me home?"
Mara felt like she'd just been shocked by an electrical wire. Luke had never yelled at her before. He had never been so harsh with anyone before. She couldn't take her eyes off of him from pure shock.
Seeing her eyes on him, Luke turned away again. Leia looked at her brother then at Han. Han shrugged in return. Thank the stars the children didn't hear that, Leia thought. After a long silence, Leia spoke.
"I think we'll take him home," Leia said quietly to the medic. If he was shocked at the appaling behavior of the Jedi Master he kept silent about it. "We can bring him back in for a check-up tomorrow can't we?"
The medic nodded.
"Sure," he said. "Just call before you do so we can be ready."
"Sorry for the trouble," Han apologized.
"No trouble at all. I'll get the paperwork so Master Skywalker can leave."
He left and Leia turned her head to look at Mara. She was still staring at Luke, but she might of been staring at the far wall. From Leia's angle she couldn't really tell. Jaina stirred a little in Mara's arms and it helped bring Mara back to reality. Startled, she looked down and then decided to get up. She walked over to Leia.
"I'll go put Jaina in bed and wait for you two to get back," she said.
Leia looked to Luke, but he had closed his eyes and had his head rested on the headboard.
"No I'd rather not wait for him," Mara said quietly. "Excuse me."
Mara walked slowly away with Jaina sleeping in her arms.
Mara got to Jaina's room that night without remembering it. She put Jaina in her bed and tucked in the covers then sat down against a wall next to Jaina's bed. There she just went over the night's activities, until the tears that she feared finally came. She cried silently, sniffing and wiping at the tears that just wouldn't go away. After what seemed like a lifetime, Leia and Han came in each carrying their own child. They didn't notice Mara until they'd put the small ones to bed.
Mara herself had fallen asleep against the wall next to Jaina's bed.
"What do we do now?" Han asked. "Shouldn't we take her to Luke's room?"
"After what he did to her?" Leia asked incredulously. "Certainly not. Can't you tell? She's been crying. I'll pull out the bed from the sofa and she'll stay there for the night." Leia left to make Mara's bed and Han carried her there when Leia was done.
"Shouldn't we tell Luke she's here?" Han asked.
"He doesn't deserve it," Leia said. "Whatever made him get so sick wasn't at fault for him yelling at Mara when she did nothing to him. Let him spend the night thinking about what he did. He'll find out in the morning where she is."
Han nodded and made no attempt to argue with his wife.
"I'm going to go get some things for Mara for when she gets up," Leia said walking to the door. "She'll want some clothes and mine are too small. I'll be back. You go ahead and get to bed."
Han nodded and walked down the hall.
Luke sat in his bed alone that night. It's not like I'm not used to it, Luke thought. What did I do? She didn't deserve that. But it was for the best, he reminded himself. She probably doesn't want to talk to me right now. Maybe I'll tell her what happened...No, I won't. Luke wouldn't have Mara worried. Being a bit afraid to fall asleep again, Luke got up and walked out to his balcony. The cool night breeze played up his bare chest. Should of put on a shirt, he thought. He put his elbows on the railing and burried his face in his hands.
He thought he heard his front door opening up. Must be Mara. Then Mara's door opened up. I'll go apologize tomorrow morning. Maybe then she'll be ready to talk to me.
The next morning, Mara woke up and rubbed her eyes. They felt so heavy and sticky. Then she remembered. And when she did, she immediately wished she hadn't. She tried to close her eyes and make the memory go away, but it only made it worse. She could still hear Luke's voice telling her, no yelling at her that nothing happened.
But she would not cry again. She sat up and noticed she was in Leia's apartment. Mara turned her head and saw some clothes and a few shower supplies on a low table. Not really feeling up to anything else, Mara gathered the things and left for a nice shower.
She got in the bathroom and closed the door. She turned on the shower head and let the water run cold. She let the water fall down her hair, face, and body. Luke was not going to ruin her life. She finished and came out dressed drying her hair off. There was a small note on Mara's "bed". She picked it up and read it. It was from Leia telling her she'd left for work and that she left something on the table for Mara to eat for breakfast. How long was I in the shower?
Mara helped herself to some food, then tidied up her "bed". She found an old piece of paper so she wrote her own note. But this was not for Leia, it was for Luke.
I've gone and collected my things. I'm leaving
as soon as they'll give me clearance. Thank you for
the room, but I didn't really need it, now did I?
Say good-bye to Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin for me.
I'll miss them. Good-bye.
She folded up the note and stuck it in her pocket. Gathering the small supply of things Leia left her, she went out of the Solo residence and walked down to Luke's apartment.
Once there, she took all of her things off the shelves and out of their drawers. When all was packed, she put it beside the picture Luke had given her. Mara then walked out of Luke's apartment and begun the walk down to her ship.
Luke woke up and went straight to Mara's room. The door was open so he walked inside. But Mara and her things were no where in sight. Everything besides the furniture was gone. Where'd she go? He looked desperately around for anything she might of left, and saw the small picture he'd given her lying beside a piece of folded paper. The only thing she'd left. The only thing she didn't take. Well I don't blame her. He opened up the piece of small paper and was deeply saddened by what he read. All was in Mara's handwriting saying she'd gone. No, he thought. Please no...I'm so sorry Mara...I'm so sorry...Please don't leave me...Please...
He went to his room and got dressed faster than he had in his entire life. Maybe I'm not too late... He left Mara's note and took the picture with him in his jacket pocket and walked down to the hangar bay.
Mara was just getting the last minute preparations ready before she sealed up the hatch and took off. Her droid beeped in that the ship was ready for take off. With a sad sigh, Mara closed and sealed the hatch.
Luke walked as fast as he could to the hangar bay. Using a high clearance code he got in and started searching with his eyes for Mara's ship, the Jade's Fire. He saw it and heard the first sounds of the ship getting ready for take off. Wait...Please wait... Giving up looking civilized, he started off at a dead run towards Mara's ship.
Mara turned in her pilot's seat to the droid sitting next to her. "All things green?" She got her acknowledgement. "Okay. Let's go." Before she could reach out to pull the ship away, she heard a banging on her ship's hull.
Luke reached Mara's ship, not caring if anyone saw. His only care was of the woman inside. I can't lose her, Luke thought. I can't let that happen. I won't let that happen. He started to pound on the outer hull of the hatchway.
*Stop it Skywalker, you're damaging my hull.*
At least she didn't just take off and burn Luke to a crisp.
*Please Mara, let me in*
*Why should I let you? I told you to stop, you'll have to pay for whatever damages you make*
*Please Mara. I love you and I'm sorry, please let me come in*
*After what you did?*
*Fine, don't come out. But at least remember me the way I was before I yelled at you.*
Luke, disappointed with a heavy heart, started to walk away from Mara's ship...and perhaps out of her life...
*Wait Luke...I'll stay...but you have to tell me what happened to you last night*
Luke's first reaction was to deny her that information. He couldn't worry her like that.
*Look, don't do that to me, Luke. I can protect myself* With a sigh of resignation Luke answered back.
*It's not about protecting just yourself*
*If you let me on board, I'll tell you*
Settled into the lounge of Mara's ship, Luke took a breath. Mara was seated several feet away from Luke. More than a little polite space, but he deserved it.
"Mara, would you come a little closer than that?" he asked. She made no move to speak, and she didn't budge. Luke continued.
"I guess I'll start from the beginning," he said. "After you fell asleep, I fell asleep not long after." He sighed and tried not to freak out at the memory. "I saw the shadow of a woman lying down in a bed holding two infants. A little boy and a little girl." He looked at Mara, but she remained unmoved so he looked down at his hands and continued speaking. "I held each child and gave them both back. I knew they were both mine, but I don't know how I knew. I guess because they had my features, but they felt like mine. But anyway--then I had this feeling of fear totally envelope me and I yelled something to the woman."
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes against the memory. He hoped it was a dream. Just a dream. Did Mara see how painful this was to him? "I heard an explosion," Luke said continuing. "then a door opened, and I tried to reach for my lightsaber, but I was too late. Something behind the door was seething with hate and wanted the infants in the room. They seemed so small...so vulnerable..." He paused to take another breath, but he didn't look up at Mara. Not yet.
"I think I blacked out, then when I woke up, I couldn't feel my children or the woman that was lying in the bed. They weren't there. They were gone." He waited silently until Mara would have a response. He would not look up until she spoke.
"Who was the woman?" Mara asked quietly after a long silence. Luke picked up his face and opened his eyes. He took a shuddering breath and looked into Mara's faraway eyes. He didn't realize it, but to Mara his eyes were filled with fear and pain. A fear and pain of the unknown and a deep worry.
"I think that the woman lying there...was you."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Two years later...
Mara is happily married to her Jedi in shining black robes. Leia is having a bit of trouble with a senator from Niori. The newly wedded couple is expecting their first child. Will Luke's vision come true? Or was it a dream after all?..dun..dun...dun...
ADVENTURES OF A VISION part 3: PLAGUED ACQUAINTANCE
Leia sat in her council Presidential chair and waited for the meeting to be over. She stifled a sigh and tapped her gavel gently on the table. Two senators-Fey'lya and Dex had started bickering again. The moment Dex had gotten reinstated into the council she had never had a quiet moment. They never seemed to agree on anything that was brought up by the council. And today was no exception. Leia, frankly was sick of it. She had had to pull each senator aside and tell them to settle down of they'd pay for their childish actions. They had always made the council meetings much longer than they had to be.
"Senator Dex,"Leia said. "I will ask you one more time to please stop your nonsense at once or you and Senator Fey'lya will have your Council's rights removed again."
The Niorian Senator looked to Leia who was giving him a placid stare. This man truly annoyed her.
"As you wish,"he said. "I apologize, your Highness.Ó
"I'd appreciate it if you would call me by my proper and current title,"Leia said. "Not one that died long ago."
Dex nodded solemnly.
If there was anyway to get him out of here Leia would take it. But so far nothing had come up. Which rather disappointed Leia. She adjourned the meeting shortly after and gathered her data cards then began the short walk back to her private office. Walking down the halls, she decided it was time to think just how much she disliked Dex. He had never agreed with anyone's ideas, and that was the main point of all the problems he seemed to cause. To make things worse, he always was trying to get into a higher position. Whether it be by campaign or other methods Dex never succeeded. The only higher position than those he had tried for was Leia's position as President. And Leia wasn't about to let him have that.
Another point that made Leia storm with anger was that Dex had strongly disapproved of Luke's marriage to Mara Jade. For the six months before their wedding, Dex had tried to bring up old laws and make up new ones saying that Mara Jade should not wed a man of such importance to the New Republic. He had wanted to have Mara tried and convicted of the crimes she had committed as the Emperor's Hand. How dare he try to sabotage her brother's happiness. The other council members had seen it Leia's way in the end and had agreed in letting the marriage continue.
Leia saw to it personally that Dex made a public apology to both Mara and Luke. Even that couldn't take away the pain he had caused them. For months after the wedding, they couldn't travel anywhere without the press following them and had to confine themselves in their apartment until Leia had a public statement said. Luke had personally come up and asked the people of the New Republic to respect his and Mara's privacy and that they were as normal as any new couple in the way that they didn't want their entire lives video-taped for all to see.
Dex would pay for the pain he'd caused her brother and his wife.
Leia had shown Dex when they successfully had their marriage work out and had not only their first, but their second wedding anniversary without problems. Leia got to rub in into Dex's face even more when the new couple had announced that they were to have their first child. And Leia got even happier when Luke and Mara found out they were having twins.
Leia smiled to herself. It had been a good year indeed. For her and Luke both. She arrived at her office and put away her data cards. Finally she got to go home. She was about to call Han, when he came bursting through her office door.
"Leia,"Han blurted out. "I've tried to call you, but they said you were in a meeting--Ó
"What's wrong?"Leia cut off Han. "Why are you here?"
"I've been trying to call you,"Han explained. "Mara's at the hospital. She went into labor early. I had to take her there because Luke was gone."
"Where's Luke?"Leia asked, a thousand things spinning in her mind. "Did you think to call him?Ó
"Don't worry, Mara said he was already on his way."
Leia's mind got whirling. Mara was more than a month early. What had happened to her?
"Do you know what room she's in?"
Han nodded his head and they were gone. They arrived at the hospital only to find that they weren't allowed in to see Mara.
"What do you mean we can't go in there to see her?"Leia practically yelled at the small nurse standing in the doorway to their waiting room. The nurse held up her hands and calmly tried to explain to Leia.
"Only the father is allowed in at the moment, you may go see her in a few minutes."
Leia and Han ended up waiting an hour before they were able to see her. Luke came into their waiting room and explained what had happened.
"The doctor thought it might of been a false alarm seeing as how she's more than a month early,"Luke said. "But it's not, and he's telling Mara now what could of caused the earliness. He seems to think the worry and all the stress that Senator Dex caused might of been it."
Leia's anger flared. So he finally got to ruin their lives a little more. When she got back to those meetings tomorrow she'd...
Luke looked at his sister with a tired expression on his face. "Leia, don't. Don't blame anyone until we have the kids here okay? Let's just pray that the twins are born healthy."Leia nodded her head in some embarrassment.
"I'm sorry,"she said quietly. "But he's just caused you two so much trouble.Ó
"I know,"Luke said softly. "But come on so you can see Mara. Where are your kids? I kind of wanted them to be here."Luke said looking around.
"Well...we left them at home with Chewie,"Han said from beside Leia. "I doubt they'd want to come and hear Mara yelling."
"Well I meant after the twins were born,"Luke said. "They have a special room they'll put them in that will let them be seen easily. It's okay...Well let's go.Ó
They walked in to Mara's and found her with her head and back leaning against the head board with her eyes closed. She opened her eyes and smiled at her visitors.
"Hi Leia. Hi Han. Hi Luke."She smiled warmly up at Luke who was opening a window. The cool breeze blew against Mara's face. "Thank you Luke."She turned to Leia. "He's so nice, Leia."She motioned for Leia to come a little closer then whispered conspiratorially in her ear. "They tell me he's the father."Mara nodded her head and looked to Luke who had taken up a seat beside Mara. She smiled up at him again.
Leia looked confusedly to Luke.
"I think your wife's gone a bit loony, kid,"Han said while looking at Mara with wary eyes.
"Luke...how many painkillers did they give her?"Leia asked cautiously.
Luke smiled and laughed.
"Only one,"he said. "But it seems only to relax her, not really take any pain away. I told the doctor. He's seeing what he can do."
Mara suddenly grasped Luke's hand and hunched forward as pain shot through her. He put an arm around her back and shoulders.
"You okay?"He asked as bone seemed to crunch beneath Mara's grip on his hand. When all was over, Luke gratefully took his hand back and wiped Mara's head with a damp towel then kissed her forehead. He then took the towel and wrapped it around his hurting hand.
"See what I mean?"Luke said as he sat back down nursing his hand.
Leia shook her head in amazement.
"What a way to prove a point.Ó
An hour later, Luke wished that he had given Mara his artificial hand to hold and not his left one. The medic sat at the foot of Mara's hospital bed.
"I want you to push...now,"His calm and clear voice instructed Mara.
Sith, I am pushing you puff-faced Jawa. The next time he told her to push, Mara would reach out and choke him just a little...
*Mara, calm down* Luke's voice echoed through her mind.
Luke felt Mara's tired anger radiating towards him.
*You be quiet or I'll choke you too. You're not so innocent you know. You're the one who got me here in the first place.*
*You'll get over it*
*Don't make me choke you*
"Okay...this is it. I want you to push one last time."
And here comes the choke...
*Mara...* Luke warned, but Mara never got to answer back. Deep inside of her, Mara felt something tiny and new grasp her mind. She gasped. *Hello?* No, of course they can't hear you. They probably don't even know who you are. Then Mara heard the mischievous and playful laughter of a little boy, but it faded away and she could hear Luke.
"Keep going Mara..."Luke smiled and looked at Mara.
Even though she had her eyes closed, he knew she could hear him. "It's a boy...Nathan?"Luke asked. Mara nodded, but couldn't speak.
If I can get one more out I'll be just fine...
Mara could feel her other child...her baby girl. Mara felt tears coming to her eyes. Her children were finally going to be in her arms. She would finally be able to hold the small wonders she and Luke and created on their own. She'd know what they looked like in only a few moments...The strongest sign of Luke and Mara's love for each other would finally be here. She felt her little girl's warm smile in her mind...it was Luke's smile...then it faded away.
"Almost done..."Luke's voice said from by her side. "It's a girl...Natalie?"
Mara let out a huge breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding and let herself lean back against the bed and rest for a moment. She nodded her head tiredly and let the tears of joy fall. She didn't care about Senator Dex right now. She only wanted to hold her babies.
"Ready to hold them?"a nurse asked.
Mara opened her eyes and nodded, too tired to speak.
*I must look like a mess*
Luke looked over to the new mother...his wife.
Mara's hair was damp and sticking to her closely. Her face looked ragged and she seemed very tired. Her eyes looked at Luke. Those beautiful green eyes still held an energy all their own. To others, she might of looked a mess, but to Luke, she was lovely. She had just given him his first two children.
*No you don't. You look wonderful.*
They came and put Mara's babies in her arms. Little Nathan had the makings of his father's blonde hair and Natalie had her mother's red mop of a mess. Mara laughed and let the tears fall. Luke had helped her through every moment to do this. They loved each other and now they had something else to love.
"They're so small,"Mara whispered to Luke. He smiled and she could see the tears forming in his eyes. This was something Luke thought he truly would never be able to do.
"Yeah...they are,"Luke said quietly. "But let them grow strong. They'll give everyone a run for their money.Ó
"Want to hold one?"Mara asked Luke quietly.
He looked at Mara then at his children.
*I'll break one. What if they fall?*
*They won't fall Luke. It's okay. Hurry up before they take them away for treatment. I want them to at least get a glimpse of their father.*
Luke was as scared as a Jawa standing next to a rancor, but he held out his arms and carefully picked up Natalie from Mara's arms.
Her little eyes opened up and blinked. She looked at her father with those green eyes that were so much like Mara's. He let Natalie hold his pinky finger. "I love you,"he whispered to his little girl.
"You don't look at all like the big bad Jedi Master people make you out to be,"Mara teased.
Luke looked up at her with a proud smile on his face.
"Thank you,"Mara whispered to Luke.
He leaned over and softly kissed her.
"Still want to choke me?"he asked playfully.
Mara smiled. After a few more moments, the nurse came over and took little Nathan and Natalie down the hall to be checked on.
The next day, news reporters were repeatedly denied entrance to see the new Skywalker babies. Luke and Mara sat together holding their new little ones in Mara's assigned room. Mara was trying to get up and put Natalie back in her little bed, when Luke stopped her.
"Let me go, I can get up myself,"Mara said frustratedly.
"Mara,ÓLuke warned. "The doctor said you should rest for a few days. I'll put Natie back."
Luke got up carefully and laid Nathan in Mara's arms. Then took his daughter and put her in her little bed. He looked back to Mara and saw her once again trying to get out of bed. But this time she made it.
Wincing in pain, she waddled over and put Nathan next to his sister. Luke only gave her a reprimanding look and shook his head.
"You're as stubborn as I am."
She smiled and walked carefully to the bathroom.
"Only when I'm motivated,"She said over her shoulder as she closed the door to the small bathroom.
Luke looked down at his twins and savored the moment. Both were wide awake, and were gazing out at nothing. Smiling down at them, he wondered what their life would be like. Would they be like him or Mara more? He heard the door open and looked up...and froze. Senator Dex had just come in.
"How'd you get in here?"Luke said with a low voice.
The wormy senator smiled thinly and spread out his hands.
"Why I was let in of course,"he said. "I just wanted to see the new additions to the Skywalker family."
Luke looked beyond him at the open door. But no one else was visible. Getting in a protective position in front of his children he spoke.
"Security!"He yelled out the door. Turnign his attention back to Dex, he spoke. "I don't want you anywhere near them. Now get out."Luke said with a deadly seriousness in his voice.
Dex smiled once more, but there was nothing nice about it.
"What? You think I'll just go away? I don't think so."Luke stood his ground and laid a warm protective barrier over his tiny heirs. He didn't say anything and sent a message to Mara.
*Mara, don't get out of the bathroom. Please stay in there. Please. Trust me.*
*Why? Okay-nevermind. I'll stay. What's wrong?*
*You'll find out later*
"Why so silent Master Skywalker?"Dex asked.
"Maybe if you forget I'm here you'll leave,"Luke retorted. Dex laughed and Luke could feel the security he'd called running towards the room.
"Where's the little woman?"Dex asked looking around the room. "I do so much enjoy talking to her.Ó
"She's not here right now."
A small squad of palace guards came and stood by the door. The leader looked at Luke.
"Is there a problem Master Skywalker?Ó
"Could you please help Senator Dex find his way out?"Luke asked, keeping his eyes on Dex. "He seems to have gotten lost.Ó
"Yes sir."He turned to Dex. "Senator, if you'll please follow me."
They led him out and Dex turned around to smile devilishly at Luke.
"Don't let your guard down Master Skywalker,"Dex called to him from the hallway. He laughed and left.
"Don't worry, I won't,"Luke said quietly to the door.
He tried to relax a little and turned around to his children. They looked at him with little questioning faces.
"Sorry you had to see that,"he apologized.
Mara stepped out of the bathroom.
"Who was it?"she asked stepping toward him.
Luke looked at her for a moment.
"It was Dex."
Mara's eyes narrowed to slits. "What did he want?"she asked, her voice low.
"He wanted to see Natie and Nate. Then he told me not to let my guard down."
She shook her head.
"I thought out problems with him were over."
A knock came from the door and Luke and Mara looked to see who it was.
"Come in Leia,"Luke said.
She stepped in and looked from Luke to Mara.
"What happened?"Leia asked. "I thought I just saw Dex leaving. He didn't come in here did he? Not after all the trouble he's caused.Ó
"He did,"Luke confirmed. "He wanted to see the twins.""He's been bothering you so much, maybe you two could get a restraining order against him,"Leia suggested.
Luke sighed quietly.
"No, Leia. That wouldn't stop anyone else from doing things for him. It wouldn't solve anything.Ó
"Luke's right,"Mara said walking up slowly towards her husband.
"You aren't supposed to be up, are you?"Leia asked eyeing Mara.
Mara gave Leia a short shake of her head.
"You Skywalkers are all alike.Ó
"Be careful,"leia warned with a smile. "You're one too now.Ó
"Ha ha, only by marriage,"Mara said sardonically. "And anyway--Luke's right. No matter what we do, Dex will somehow be able to spill his wrath around us. Unless of course we all go hide in a hole, but I'm sure he'd just find that too."
Mara and Luke were right, but that didn't mean that Dex had to keep bothering them like he was.
"Did he say anything to you?"Leia asked Luke.
"Only that I shouldn't let my guard down.Ó
"Well you shouldn't anyway,"Leia advised. "No matter what kind of peace we're in, something always pops up. Anyway, I came to check on you two and the twins.Ó
Luke smiled a little uncomfortably. "I'm still getting used to that."
"Oh trust me, it won't take that long to get used to it. Are they over there?"she asked pointing to the small bassinet by the bed.
Luke nodded and Leia walked over to get another glimpse at her niece and nephew. She'd gotten to see them last night, but was only able to watch Luke and Mara holding them from a distance. Up close, it was much better. She reached a hand down and caressed both tiny faces. Those tiny faces reminded her so much of Luke and Mara. Leia was thankful that they didn't have any problems.
Mara came up slowly with Luke beside her. But Mara wasn't slow by choice, she was still a little sore from yesterday. Mara smiled at Leia.
"What do you think?"she asked.
"Oh Mara, they're beautiful. You'll make a wonderful mother."
They stood there for a few minutes until Luke spoke.
"Mara's doctor says we can take them home tomorrow,"Luke said.
There was no mistaking the air of pride around him. Luke would make a loving and dedicated father.
"I don't see why he says that,"Mara objected. "They're too small. Can't we wait until they're a bit bigger?"
Mara's worry made Luke laugh.
"Mara, they'll do fine,"he assured her. "We just have to let them grow. I don't think they'd want to grow up in a hospital."
Mara still didn't look convinced. Something was bothering her, but she didn't know what.
The next afternoon, Leia helped Mara and the twins get settled in at home. Mara's old room had been turned into the nursery, but the twins would stay in Luke and Mara's bedroom until they were a few months older.
Luke had gone to the couch for a much needed nap while Leia and Mara talked in the bedroom. Mara was holding Nathan and had a sad and troubled look on her face. Leia noticed and wondered why she would look so sad when her babies were finally home.
"Mara, are you okay?"Leia asked.
Mara didn't look up, but continued to look at Nathan.
"Mara?"Leia asked a bit louder.
Mara shook herself out of her daze and looked at Leia.
"Are you okay?"she asked again. "You looked the same way at the hospital."
Mara wasn't going to lie to Leia. Just to Luke.
"I don't know,"she admitted. "I just have a bad feeling about bringing the twins home. I don't think it has to do with their size though."After a small pause, she continued. "Leia, do you remember what I told you about Luke's dream that one night?"
Leia had to think for a moment, but she soon found what she was looking for.
"Yes, I remember. Why?Ó
"Well don't tell Luke,"Mara said her gaze flicking to the door. "I think it'll only upset him, but I think that there's something wrong about that dream.Ó
"What do you mean?Ó
"Like it wasn't just a dream."
Both women were silent for a moment.
"You should tell Luke,"Leia said at last.
"That's just it,"Mara said quietly. "I can't because it'll only upset him. Remember how much that it hurt him then? I don't want that to happen again."Mara looked down for a moment at the tiny one she held. He looked so much like Luke... "And Dex is only making things worse. Maybe he's the one Luke was so afraid of in the vision.Ó
"But why would Dex want to take away your children?"
Mara thought for a moment.
"Well he seems to hate me so why not hate something I help create?Ó
"Mara, you're being ridiculous,"Leia said. "He'd get into trouble if he did that. Don't worry. I'm sure it's just that you're scared for your kids. It happened to me all the time.Ó
"You're right,"Mara agreed. "I'm probably just worrying over nothing.Ó
During the evening, after Leia had attended a last minute council meeting, she discovered Dex trying to catch up with her.
"Senator Organa Solo, I'd like a word with you if you please."
Tired of being followed, Leia turned her head around and gave Dex a polite smile.
"Yes Senator Dex?"she asked politely.
Glad that she was finally paying him some attention, he spoke.
"I just wanted to inform you that I will be running with you for the next presidential election."
What is he talking about? Leia thought.
"What are you talking about?"Leia asked. "We don't hold presidential elections in the New Republic.Ó
"Well then, when I become president there will be."
He really did annoy her.
"Senator Dex if you have a point, please make it before I lose my temper on you.Ó
"Touchy princess,"Dex said with a slight smile. "But I meant what I said. I will become president of the New Republic. One way . . . or another."With a smile he left down the corridor.
Strange, Leia thought. But a man like Dex had only motive. He couldn't do anything on his own if he had step by step instructions telling him what to do. Without caring for Dex, Leia made the walk down to her apartment.
Leia wouldn't know then how much hyer family would pay for her lack of interest.
"He looks a lot like me, doesn't he?"Luke asked Mara holding Nathan.
Mara was seated with her legs outstretched on the bed she and Luke shared. In her arms, Natalie was hungrily eating away. Mara smiled and looked up at Luke.
"He sure does,"Mara said. "But Natalie has your smile."
Luke smiled and looked down at the toothless little Nathan.
"Yup,"Mara said with a smile. "That's the one."
Mara gazed down at her daughter to see if she was done eating yet. Trying to shield her thoughts away from the man sitting a ways beside her, she wondered if she should tell him about what she told Leia. Maybe he wouldn't get that upset if she did...
"What are you trying to hide from me?"Luke asked Mara as he eyed her carefully.
"Apparently I wasn't doing a good job at it,"she said.
She paused for a moment then regarded Luke with a careful smile. He was looking down at her with a worried expression on his face.
"Mara, are you all right? You can tell me anything, okay?Ó
"I know,"she said with warmth in her smile. That's why I married you."
"Oh yeah? Is that the only reason?Ó
"Well that and you're good looking."
Mara made Luke blush a little.
"But you wanted to know what was wrong,"Mara said trying to get back to the subject at hand.
I guess I'll live through whatever he does.
"I was talking with Leia earlier while you were napping. I told her that something seemed a little wrong with taking Nathan and Natalie home early. Or maybe it was just about today, but I don't know. And something about Dex bothered me at the same time. I think he fits in with it too.Ó
"You shouldn't worry about Dex,"Luke said from his seat playing with Nathan's fingers. "At least that's what Leia tells me."
Mara could clearly hear the doubt in his voice.
"But you feel it too, don't you?"she asked. "Like he's got something planned?"
Luke nodded his head while watching Nathan in his lap.
"Yes I do,"he said. "Is that what's been bothering you?"Oh boy, here comes the hard part. . .
"Well...that's not all that's got me upset. See there's something else and I think it fits in with the other two, but you have to promise me that you won't get mad.Ó
"Mara, what is it?Ó
"Promise me first."
Luke eyed Mara a little then nodded his head.
"Okay, I promise you I won't get mad."
"I don't think that dream you had was just a dream."
She could feel Luke's anger slowly rising, but she gave him a meaningful glance.
"You promised,"she reminded him.
"Okay, I won't get mad, but I will say I told you so. I didn't want you to worry, that's why I didn't want to tell you. and when I did, look at you. You're worried.Ó
"Luke, it could be nothing. Maybe I'm just a little jumpy."She knew he was doing some job of keeping his temper down.
"And do you know for sure that it's nothing?"he asked, being careful not to talk too loud. "What if all our worrying is for a good cause?"
Mara sighed in resignation. Natalie had stopped eating and was gazing up and watching her mommy.
"I don't know Luke,"Mara told him with her eyes on Natalie. "Come here and give me Nathan, I think Natalie's done with her dinner.Ó
"More like her post dinner after snack."Luke told her as he got up and switched babies with Mara.
Nathan didn't seem to be hungry so Mara just held him.
"I Think I'm going to bed as soon as these two fall asleep,"Mara said.
Luke was walking to regain his seat when he felt something grabbing at his waist. Luke glanced down and saw Nathan trying to grab for the lightsaber hanging on his belt. Luke chuckled.
"Oh no, not for you,"he said. "You're too young."
He unclipped his lightsaber and put it on the nightstand by Mara then went to his seat.
"You think Nathan will be as good a swordsman with a lightsaber as his father?"Mara asked.
Luke gave her a grin.
"What--and be able to beat me?"he teased. "I don't think so.Ó
"You're just a sore loser,"Mara teased Luke.
"Oh? And you aren't?Ó
"When these two fall asleep, don't be too surprised if I wake you up in the middle of the night for a practice session.Ó
"Yeah, wait until they can't see you to lose.Ó
"I'd throw a pillow, but you have my child in your arms,"Mara said.
Luke slowly rocked Natalie in his arms until she fell asleep. *I think she's asleep* he sent to Mara.
*So's Nathan. Bring her here and help me put them in bed* Luke got up quietly and put Natalie in Mara's arms. Abruptly he felt a foreign presence outside the bedroom door.
He reached down and put a hand on her arm.
"Yeah I feel it too,"she said, her forehead creased with concentration. "Only one though?"
There was a loud explosion from the door not too many feet away from him and Luke had little time to react.
"Mara!"he yelled to his wife. "The kids, cover them!"
The moment the door had exploded--that was what had exploded, right?--Luke had ducked, and had been too far away to help Mara. I should of helped her, he thought. At the last moment he sent reassurance to her and his infants then put a blanket of protection over them, but less than a second later it was thrown off.
What are you doing, Mara? He put it on again and opened his eyes. The room was filled with thick gray smoke and Luke couldn't see Mara. Or the bed for that matter. He felt the barrier of protection he'd put up fall again.
Luke reached around for the nightstand and the lightsaber he'd left there not long before. Maybe if he turned it on he'd get some light. He bumped his hand on something then heard something clunking to the floor.
"Blast,"Luke said as he searched the floor with his hand to find the saber that would never come.
"Mara?"Luke asked. "Are you all right?"
But all Luke got in return was an eerie, chilling laughter. But it wasn't Mara laughing . . . was that who had blown out his door?
"Who are you?"Luke asked.
The laughter increased for a moment, then wound down until the person finally decided to speak.
"How are you this fine evening Master Skywalker?"the woman's smooth mocking voice said. A woman who sounded vaguely familiar...
"Elori?"Luke asked tentatively.
"I'm surprised you remember me,"she said. "But yes, it is Elori. Sorry to leave so soon, but I'm done here. See you later.Ó
"Wait!"Luke said, trying to get her to stay.
He couldn't see her, but he knew it wasn't working. A pain unexpectedly shot through his head and the world suddenly went black.
Groggy and in pain--more pain than he was in when he blacked out--Luke awoke gradually. The smoke was gone at least, making it much easier to see. Carefully trying to get up, Luke checked with his senses to make sure Mara, Nathan, and Natalie were okay. But he stopped being careful and jolted up the moment he couldn't feel the presence of his wife or the two new lives he was just getting to know. He looked with his eyes and saw that they weren't on the bed he'd last seen them on.
He went to the bed and felt with his hands to see if his eyes weren't lying to him. He needn't of tried. They weren't lying. Then he remembered his dream...Mara's recent fear at it not being a dream...and Luke realized that she had been right. But now Mara was gone and he couldn't tell her about it . . . but he could tell Leia.
Leia awoke to the sound of someone knocking terribly loud at her suite's door. Han rolled over in the bed they shared and woke up himself.
"Leia,"Han's sleepy voice said. "Get the door will you?"
Leia looked down at her husband and sighed.
"I'm going, I'm going,"she said getting up. "Just get back to bed."
Leia got out of bed and wondered who would think to wake her up at this hour. She put on a robe and went to the door. She opened it and Luke burst into the room jabbering away too fast for her sleep-fogged mind to understand.
"You have to help me, Leia,"Luke said. "Mara and the twins are gone. We have to stop her. I know Dex is behind this somehow. Help me find where they've gone. If we go now..."Luke was pacing the room as he spoke.
Leia went up to her brother and held his arms with her hands. She spun him gently towards her.
"Luke, what's wrong?"she asked, still trying to wake up more herself. "I can't understand you, go slower."
Leia's much taller brother looked down at her with a confused expression on his face.
"No,"Luke said fiercely shaking his head. "No Leia, we have to go now. You have to help me now."
Still holding her brother's arms, she tried to lead him to the couch to sit down.
"Luke, just sit down and tell me what's bothering you okay?"she asked.
He jerked away from her like a hurt animal and started to confuse Leia even more.
"No!"Luke protested again. "No, you don't understand! They're gone, we have to go get them."He started to look around the room as if for ideas. "They're gone..."he mumbled, "If we go now...they can't of gone far...but they're gone..."
As if what he was saying had suddenly dawned on him, Luke looked sharply up at Leia.
"They're gone..."he whispered.
Luke's eyes looked haunted and scared. "Oh no..."
He went down on his knees and hid his face in his hands and cried.
Leia knelt down beside Luke and put her arms around his compact form. Even though she had no clue what was wrong, she held him and let him cry.
"It's okay Luke,"Leia said softly.
She could feel him pitifully shaking his head against her.
"No it's not,"his muffled and sob-filled voice said. "They're gone. They're gone Leia.Ó
Where had they gone? Why had Elori taken his wife and babies? They'd done nothing to her. Luke's family had been taken away. Anger filled his heart. He had only begun to know his children...why had someone found it amusing to steal them away from him? He hadn't even spent a week with them and they were gone.
"Luke, who's gone?"Leia asked with confusion.
Luke picked up his head and looked Leia straight in the eye. His face was blotched and streaked with tears. His hair was a mess. But in all that mess, Leia saw her brother, strong and true. Even if it was the brother she knew so well, she could see the hidden pain and fear that he never showed to anyone. Luke was scared, and she didn't know why.
"Mara,"Luke whispered. "Mara and my babies, Leia...they're gone."
Oh no, Leia thought. Don't let this happen to Luke. Please not Luke...
"Are you sure?"Dumb question to ask, but Leia hadn't been prepared for what he had told her.
"Yes, Leia,"Luke told her. "They're not in my apartment. They're gone...And it's all my fault. I did nothing to stop her. Nothing. It's my fault. My fault!"Luke said through gritted teeth.
"Oh Luke, it's okay,"she said, trying to get him to calm down more.
She held him once more and let his tears fall on her. He felt so small...so helpless. "It's okay. It's not your fault. We'll find them...I promise."
Please help me find them, she silently prayed.
TO BE CONTINUED...
About 3 weeks later...
(All the parts of my story I'd give a G rating, but this one gets a PG-13 because people do die in here. Just thought I'd tell you)
Luke and Leia have begun the desperate search for Luke's family when an old woman comes with a gift for Luke...
The dark, hooded creature walked down a corridor searching for the door that housed its prey. The long weapon belted at its side reflected no light, for there was no light to be reflected. Its bootsteps rang loudly throughout the narrow passageway and stopped in front of a lone door. Dark thoughts filled the creature's mind until it remembered that it was human. Much like its prisoner inside.
A slender hand reached out from beneath the black robes and opened the door. A loud creak from the hinge made the woman locked behind a gate in the small room look up. Her green eyes tracked the hooded one's every motion.
"You'll forgive me if I'm not presentable," Mara told the black clad figure. "But the service here is awfully poor."
"Good to see you up so early Mrs. Skywalker," the hooded creature said. "Your breakfast will be brought to you shortly. I presume you'll be wanting to see your children?"
"Oh so kind of you," Mara said sarcastically. "How long did it take you to get up the kindness to ask me that one?"
The robed woman's eyes flashed beneath her cowl.
"You watch yourself or there will be no children for you to see," the woman warned.
Mara's eyes showed a flash of fear, but it quickly vanished and she spoke no more. Satisfied, the darker woman smiled.
"Good," the dark woman said with satisfaction. "I'll take you to them now. Get up."
Mara complied while the woman unlocked her gate and waited for Mara to step out. She clasped wrist binders on Mara's hands behind her back and shoved her out of the room.
"Always the kind one Elori," Mara muttered.
Elori only gave her a cold smile and pushed Mara along to see her twins.
A gentle old woman held two tiny lives in her arms with all the love she could give. She was wrapping them both up in soft, warm clothes and blankets when the little boy began to cry. Old Tava tried to hush him up. As she dressed them, she spoke.
"Ssh, little one," she said. "You'll be well soon."
She regarded his sister with a playfully stern look. "You better convince your brother to hush up here. I'm trying to help you two."
The little boy stopped crying and started to sob quietly. "Pray now littles. We must hurry. Elori will be here soon with your mother. We have to get you out before then. You won't see your mother for awhile yet, but you mustn't worry. Be brave, you'll be with your father soon."
The old woman carefully put each infant into a small bread basket and took it to a section of wall. Setting it down, she started to pull away stones marked so only she would know which ones needed to be taken away and revealed a passageway.
"Don't be scared now," she told the little ones as she put the basket in the dark hallway. "There's no light, but I'll be with you in a moment."
Getting up, she went to a small pantry and got some bread and two small bottles of milk. Stuffing them in her tattered clothing, she went back to the passageway, got inside and sealed it up. "Come now, and don't make a peep." Silently Old Tava crept with her basket hooked around her arm down the passageway to the freedom the lives she was caring for deserved.
Elori pushed Mara along until they came to the room Mara had come to know as the kitchen. Elori opened the door and pushed Mara through. As Mara entered, her eyes went wide. Elori entered a second later and her eyes, too, went wide. There was no sign of Old Tava or of Mara's babies.
"Tava?" Elori spat. "You old fool, where are you?"
But there was no answer. Mara kept quiet and kept going over what Tava had told her on her last visit. Her babies were safe. Tava should be taking them to her hidden ship soon.
Thank you Tava, Mara thought silently, thank you.
Leaving Mara behind, Elori went and searched around the room. Turning around, Elori spat out an order to Mara.
"Don't just stand there like and idiot," Elori said eyeing Mara. "Help me!"
Mara walked around the room pretending to search. She came across the wall Tava had marked and went past it without pausing.
"I can't find anything," she told Elori.
Although she couldn't really find anything if she wanted with her hands tied up behind her back like they were.
"No, of course not," Elori snorted as she looked Mara up and down. "Come on, we'll go look outside." She paused then turned back to Mara. "Better yet, I'll just go. Wouldn't want to parade you around outside now would we?"
Elori took Mara back to her cell and locked her up then left. Mara got up and looked out the tiny window in her cell. She saw a small dot of a ship leaving the treetops and wished Tava the best and hoped they'd make it to Luke in one piece. Then Mara slumped down on the hard, cold stone floor
Thinking of Luke made her feel worse. He had no idea where they'd gone, and frankly, neither did Mara. Elori had seemed powerful enough to block Luke's power away from Mara and then block Mara's away from herself. It had taken days to calm the twins down. They hadn't even been a week old and they had already been through so much.
She missed having someone else here with her to share in her grief. Luke would have helped her...had he been here. Mara had been gone for over three weeks. In all that, she had seen her children daily, but she wasn't there when they cried at night. Or when they wanted their mommy the most. Tava had been there for them and for that, Mara was grateful. Tava herself had bore 6 young boys and had lost them all to the Empire years before. She had loved to see little Natalie. She had told Mara how long she'd been praying for a little girl, but never gotten one. At least now she'd be able to take care of one.
Please take care of my babies, Tava...Please...
Tava's little ship blasted out of hyperspace nearly 3 days later into the planetary system of Coruscant, the capitol planet of the New Republic. Mara had told Tava wonderful things about being free and Tava had listened eagerly. Tava had been a slave most of her life. Her children had all been taken away to die for the Empire. Finally maybe Tava would now be free.
She flew her little ship in near the planet and waited for Coruscant space control to give her a place in line. Mara had given her a verbal code she could use to get her to Luke faster.
Luke was Mara's husband and Tava was told he'd be willing to accept the help from an old bat like herself. She'd said something about an old wizard on his home world, but Tava was too tired to understand.
"See that down there?" Tava asked the little children on the seat beside her. They were lying down in their little basket amusing each other as only a brother and sister could do. "That, my littles, is where your father is. I told you you'd be with him soon. Just a little longer."
Tava reached down and retrieved the tiny bottles of milk she had taken. Tava had hid a small canister of milk in here one night when Elori had gone away for a few hours. It had so far lasted as long as Tava had hoped.
"Here you go," she said.
She fed each baby a bottle and they ate away hungrily. "Sorry it's not a full bottle, but I have no clue how long it'll take us to get to your daddy."
About twenty minutes had gone by when someone had finally decided to take notice of her little ship.
"Identify yourself ship 3326-B, this is Coruscant Air and Space traffic control," a young man's voice said.
Tava straightened up. "That's us littles."
Turning to the comm she spoke. "This is ship 3326-B. I must speak with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker."
She looked down at the two little smiling twins. They seemed to recognize their father's name.
"Oh really?" the young man asked sarcastically. "You and about 300 others. Sorry lady, but you can't just come in and see him."
Tava gave a secretive smile.
"Well I think I may be an exception," Tava informed the man. "Listen here young man. Do the letters d, a, g, o, b, a, and h mean anything?"
There was a soft click of the comm, then the young man took his time in coming back.
"I'm sorry ma'am," the young man said apologetically. "The President is personally giving you the okay to come in."
"That's more like it."
She glanced down at the little ones again. "Powerful little code your mother gave me."
Tava landed her little ship about half an hour later in a large hangar bay. She locked the ship down and got her things ready. "Come on. You're home now okay? You're home."
She picked up the little basket with Nathan and Natalie inside, covered it with a blanket and put their things in a small cloth bag. She slung the bag around her shoulder and carried the basket to the door. Opening the hatch, she saw two people waiting for her. Well they seem to be waiting, Tava thought. A man with a medium build and blonde hair stood with an anxious look in his blue eyes. The other person was female and was smaller than the man, yet of no less importance. They both seemed to have a certain air about them. Both had a sense of peace and calm, and both seemed to be connected somehow.
The hatch finally finished opening and the young man walked up to her and spoke to Tava with a soft voice.
"You know the code of my family to contact me," the young man said. "May I ask who you are?"
"I'm Tavitha, but you can call me Tava," she said. "Are you the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker?"
The young man nodded his head.
"I have come from your wife," she told Luke. "I have brought your children to you."
She pealed away the thin blanket covering the top of the basket. The young man's face lit up with joy and unbelief. He carefully picked up each child and hugged them. Tears filled his eyes as he cradled each small head and body in his strong arms and hands.
My babies are here with me...Luke thought. Thank the skies they're here. Luke only had those small memories of his children before they were snatched out of his life. It felt so good to hold them again. They weren't as small as he remembered them, but then again it had been a month since he'd last seen them. They never cried in his arms, but let him hold them. Did they even remember this man? Their father? But to Luke, it didn't matter. He was with his children and he would never let anyone take them away from him again.
The young woman came up and shook Tava's hand. Joy filled her eyes. "Thank you," she said. "You don't know how much this means to my brother."
"Oh it's all right," Tava said. "An old biddy like me needed to get out for a little trip. And who are you?"
The younger woman laughed.
"My formal title is Leia Organa Solo, President of the New Republic," she said.
"Oh my. Well then you have a very interesting family, Leia."
"You have no idea."
She went up and put a hand on Luke's shoulder.
"Feel better now?" she asked softly
Luke picked his head up out from in between his two little ones and looked at Leia. He smiled, nodded his head and gazed down at his twins.
"We still have to get Mara," he said sadly.
Luke and Leia both glanced at Tava.
"Oh I don't know where she is," Tava said.
Brother and sister regarded Tava with surprise and confusion. "I mean, I don't know anything about where I was," Tava explained. "I was just as much a prisoner as your wife was. Elori just knew me longer so she thought she could trust me. You can look on the ship if it'll help you any."
Leia turned to Luke.
"Wouldn't you like to spend some time with the twins before we try to get Mara?" she asked. "You haven't been with them for nearly a month."
Luke looked sadly at his tiny infants.
"I'd love to Leia," he said. "But I want to find Mara as soon as I can."
"You have a very lovely home Luke," Tava said looking around Luke's apartment.
Luke had brought a bassinet from his bedroom to a lounging area and had laid Natalie inside. Natalie had fallen asleep hours ago and Luke was quietly playing with Nathan in his lap.
"Thank you," he said with a smile. "And thank you for bringing my babies back to me."
Old Tava smiled.
"Oh it was no trouble at all. I only wish I could of brought your wife with me. She's a very wonderful and very lucky woman, Luke."
"She is isn't she?" Luke said playfully. "I miss her a lot."
"Well don't worry, she seemed like a strong woman," Tava assured him. "She'll do fine."
Luke nodded and smiled as Nathan started to drool. He grabbed a little towel from his shoulder and wiped Nate's mouth. Tava watched Luke with her aged old eyes. He was so good with his little ones.
"Luke, you're a wonderful father," Tava commented.
Luke looked at Tavitha and blushed a little.
"You think so?" he asked.
"You should of heard all the things your wife told me," Tava said, hoping to start a conversation.
She waited until Luke's eyes were on her again to continue. "She described to me how you first met, about your wedding, and when you two found out you were going to have twins."
"She must really like you if she told you that much," Luke said.
"Mara loves you a lot Luke," Tava said, her tone going somber. "She was very lonely. I was the only one she could talk to."
"No, that may of been so, but you're a very pleasant woman Tava."
After a moment, Tava had itching hands to hold one of the babies.
"Do you mind if I hold him?"
"Sure," Luke said.
Luke carefully put Nathan in Tava's sturdy arms. The little one smiled and showed off his bright blue eyes.
"You know," Tava said. "I spent so much time with these little ones, that I started to think of them as my own. Elori did bring Mara in to see them, but you could tell Mara wanted to have them with her all the time. She's an excellent mother."
"I knew she would be," Luke agreed. "Would you like to have something to eat or drink?"
"That would be nice, thank you."
Luke got up and went to the kitchen. While he was preparing a small meal, Tavitha entertained Luke with stories of his children from their time with her. Tava could tell that Luke missed his wife very much. Aside from his telling her, Tava could tell in the way he spoke about Mara, or the expressions on his face whenever Tava talked about her.
"Do you want to get Mara tomorrow?" Tava asked Luke who was munching away on a cookie.
"Isn't that kind of soon?" he asked between the crunching of the cookie. "I mean, we can't figure out everything on the way there can we?"
"Yes we could," Tava said. "You miss her very much. We could take Leia with us and we'd be back before you knew it. Then we could pay Elori back for what she's done."
"I want to go, but I don't know if Leia would be able to come. She's very busy, Han's away with Chewie--" The look on Tava's face made Luke explain. "--Her husband and friend--," he informed Tava. "But anyway--you really think we could do it by ourselves?"
Tava nodded her head.
"There's also the matter of a senator that's been threatening Leia's position," Luke told Tava. "We've been trying to piece together the small things we had, and we think that he's behind Elori's kidnapping Mara and the twins. Elori wouldn't want to do with us. I don't see why she could have any hate towards us or reason to kidnap Mara and the twins."
Tavitha thought for a moment.
"She never spoke of any senator when she was around me. What was his name?"
"Dex," Luke said. "Win Dex."
"I remember the last part, Dex," Tava said, still thinking. "She would talk of him, and I think he was the one she spoke to every so often. What does he want from your sister?"
"He wants Leia's position as President."
Tava thought, but couldn't see how the two people were connected. Would Dex hire Elori to do his dirty work? What was his position on the kidnapping?
"Luke, has he said anything about the kidnapping?"
Luke shook his head.
"He's said as much as anyone else who doesn't really know me or my family," Luke said. "Just that his sympathies are with me. He's more inclined to talk or pester Leia though."
Luke handed Tavitha the tea he'd made and put Nathan back to bed.
"Thank you," Tavitha said.
Luke nodded his head and continued.
"I think that Dex hired Elori to take the twins and Mara. But why I don't know."
"Why don't you find out? Try and monitor his out going transmissions to see if any are made to Elori?"
"Well I could...but then if I was caught without any evidence towards him then I'd get in some trouble. I've been watching him, and I still don't know if he really is behind it like I think. He could just be pestering Leia for nothing."
"Has he ever made any threats towards you?"
Luke smiled and shook his head.
"You wouldn't believe it."
"Tell me," Tavitha said over the rim of her mug.
"When Mara and I were engaged," Luke began. "He tried to convict Mara of the crimes she had committed in her past. He tried to stop our wedding saying that Ôa man of such importance to the New Republic shouldn't be marrying a woman who worked directly under the Empire's leader--The very Empire that we worked so hard to destroy.' And he also threatened me the day after the twins were born."
Tavitha nodded with understanding. This awful Dex had bothered everything out of Luke and Mara. Who knows how much else he did?
"Did he do more?"
Luke nodded his head.
That man had done terrible things to a man who just wanted to start a family. To a man who had a family, only to have them taken away from him.
"How did you and Mara take all of it?" she asked quietly.
Luke took a deep breath before he spoke.
"We both took it as nothing in the beginning. Nobody thought it was serious. Then Dex started to try and convince the other council members and Leia that he was right in doing that to us. But he didn't succeed. It still hurt Mara. She wasn't trying to fit in, but it helped her to fit in. Sounds strange, but it's true. Dex only made worse what others thought of her. There were people who just wanted Dex and others to leave us alone. They said they could understand and that we should be able to live a life together if we loved each other."
Tavitha held out her age-worn hand and held Luke's.
"Well maybe if we prove he's behind this, then you can finally get some peace."
"Thank you," Luke said. "Well, I'm going to bed now. I'll pull out the couch so you can sleep on that."
Luke set up Tava's bed and took the twins with him to his room. They were already sound asleep so he put two small bottles of milk that Tava had given him by his bedside in case they got hungry.
Luke changed into something to sleep in, kissed his babies good-night, then went to bed himself. His last thought was sent out in space, hoping it would reach Mara, wherever she was. But Luke fell asleep before he found if she did, in fact, hear him.
Sitting in her cell, Mara silently ate the food Elori had brought her for dinner. It tasted good enough and Mara had long ago given up on the fact that her food might be food poisoned. Her hunger was far more important to her. If she got poisoned, then at least she would have eaten something. She started to lick the juice of some unknown sauce off of her fingers when she felt something. A faraway, almost faint voice--or no, thought? Her heart and her entire body froze. This was something she had not felt for more than a month, but it felt as if it had been a lifetime...It was Luke.
Mara hadn't realized just how much she'd missed him. For over two years, Mara hadn't been away from Luke for more than a day. And now it had been a month and she sorely missed him.
*I love you, Mara. Don't worry, I'm coming*
Mara nodded as if Luke could see her, tears coming to her eyes and streaming down her face. She sniffed and tried to stop crying. She had heard Luke's voice in her mind, felt his presence, and wished she could answer back. Elori would know if she did or if she even tried. His warm and loving touch had filled her mind and she wanted him back. Maybe he already has the twins, Mara thought. At least if they weren't with her they'd be with Luke.
Mara sighed and wiped away her tears.
"Wish I had a tissue," she muttered to herself.
She looked down at her food and almost pushed it away. Had Luke's brief contact made her that depressed? Mara forced herself to finish her meal. If Luke's coming back, then I'm going to look good for him. He wouldn't want to see skin and bones left where his wife should be, now would he? Mara slowly finished her meal then fell asleep.
Luke woke to the sound of a baby crying. Drowsily getting up, he picked up a bottle and walked to the small crib housing his twins.
"Which one's hungry?" he asked. "Hmm?"
He looked down and saw it was Natalie. Her little face was scrunched up and turning red.
"Ssh, it's okay," Luke assured his little girl. "Here you go."
Luke rubbed Natalie's tummy and gave her the bottle. She accepted it and drank away. Her little nose would move every time she sniffed.
"Hey there," Luke said, smiling to Nathan. Nate was wide awake, but not crying. Luke reached his hand down and caressed Nathan's soft head. "Did your sister wake you up?" Natalie was gazing intensely at her father above her bottle.
"I wish you had your mother here with you," Luke told his children. "I'm sure you'd much rather have her than that bottle." Little Natalie's gaze lessened. "I miss her too." Looking at his daughter, Luke smiled.
"You look so much like your mother," he said softly.
Her tiny eyelids started to close and soon she was sound asleep. Luke took the bottle gently from her mouth and gave her a kiss on the forehead. He turned to Nathan who had apparently fallen asleep after Luke had stopped talking to him. He bent down and gave his oldest a good-night kiss. Luke brought the bottle back to his bedside and walked down the hall.
Trying not to wake up Tavitha, he walked into the kitchen and made himself a cup of hot chocolate. Carefully putting away the materials he'd used, he got his mug and walked back to his bedroom. Checking on the twins once more, he walked to his bed, got in, and leaned his back against the headboard.
Sipping at the warm drink, Luke thought of Mara. He closed his eyes and relaxed. He let his mind wander through all the times he'd spent with her, all the new memories they'd started to make together. Mara in her beautiful wedding dress, her stunning green eyes when she said her vows, the look on her glowing face when she told him she was having their first child, the taste of her kisses on his lips, and the new sound of her laughter. Luke took a deep breath and shut his eyes harder to hold back the tears that threatened to come. He would not break down again. Mara was fine, Tava had told him so. She can take care of herself. He opened his eyes and looked down at the chrono by his bed. It had been an hour since he'd first come back
Tired, Luke downed the rest of his now cold chocolate and got under the covers. Sending his babies a warm brush of love, he closed his eyes and fell asleep again.
The next morning, Luke was up and started to make some breakfast for Tava and himself. Hopefully they'd be able to leave and find Mara today. His brief small talk to himself the night before had left him in a better mood this morning.
"Young man, you'll freeze to death if you don't put on a shirt."
Startled, Luke turned around and saw Tava standing by the table. Luke looked down and saw what Tava meant. He didn't have his shirt on.
"I'm sorry," Luke blushed. "I forgot. I'm usually just here with Mara. I'll go put on a shirt."
Tava laughed as Luke went to get a clean shirt on. On his way back, Luke saw a tiny piece of paper that had been shoved halfway under the front door. Curious, he walked over to the door and pulled out the paper.
"What you got there Luke?" Tava asked from the table.
"I don't know," Luke said getting up. "It was under the door."
Luke walked to the kitchen to get Tava's food. He put out a plate and serve Tava, then himself. Sitting down, he looked at the small piece of folded paper.
"Well there's nothing on the outside," he said examining it. "Guess I'll open it."
Unfolding the paper he read what was on it. He gasped and looked sharply at Tavitha.
"What?" Tava asked. "What's on it? Who's it from?"
"It has the location of the planet Mara's on," Luke said unbelieving. "But it doesn't say who it's from."
Both were silent.
"Can you make sure it's real?" Tava asked after awhile. Luke shook his head slowly. "I don't know. Maybe checking your ship could help. I wish I knew who sent it."
If this was real, then Luke could finally see Mara again. He'd be able to hold her and look into her eyes again...
"Well you should check later then," Tava suggested.
"I'll do that," Luke said.
He looked down at his plate. "After I at least eat something."
Luke left after he had finished his breakfast and left Tava to watch the twins for him. Coming back to his apartment in the afternoon, Luke went immediately to his room. He got a small bag out of his closet and started to pack a few items. He'd called Leia while he was in the hangar bay and had told her where he was going. She'd watch the twins for him while he was away.
"Luke?" Tavitha asked from down the hall.
She came into his room with a questioning glance. "Luke, what did you find out?"
"Well I checked how long you were in hyperspace," Luke informed Tava while packing his bag. He zipped it up and turned to Tava. "The days? And well, it matches how long it would take to get to the planet the note says Mara's on. Are you coming?" he asked the older woman. "I could use you to help he find Mara once I'm on the planet."
"But what about your children? Who will--"
"Leia's going to take care of them," Luke soothed Tava. "I already called her. They'll be fine. Are you with me?"
"All right...I'll go," she said.
"Good," Luke said with a smile.
He walked up to the twins and smiled sadly at them.
"Daddy's going to be gone for a little while," he told them. "But your auntie Leia will take care of you okay?"
He picked each of them up, and started down the hall for Leia's apartment.
"Tava," Luke said before he went out the door. "You'd better pack what you're going to bring. We'll leave as soon as I come back okay?"
He got an acknowledgement and went out the door. He arrived at Leia's apartment and knocked quietly. Leia answered shortly after with a warm smile.
"Hi Luke," she said.
She let him in and peeked inside of the small blankets in Luke's arms. "Hello Nathan, hello Natalie. How are you?"
She took them from Luke's arms and helped him put them in a small crib in the family room.
"Hi Leia," Luke said giving his sister a hug once her hands were free. "There other things are in my apartment, you know how to get in if you need anything."
"Okay," Leia said.
The Solo children came running down the hall to see their uncle and little cousins.
"Hi!" they all said simultaneously.
"Ssh," Luke told his niece and nephews. "Your baby cousins need to be around some quiet okay?"
All three nodded.
"Can we see them Uncle Luke?" Jacen whispered.
Luke led them to the small crib that held his children.
"They're so small," Jacen said as he looked down at his younger cousins. "Was I ever that tiny?"
"You probably were," he told him. "I gotta go now. You behave for your mother and help her with your cousins okay?" Jacen nodded and helped his little brother view Nathan and Natalie. Luke looked down at Jaina who was tapping at his leg.
"Uncle Luke," Jaina began. "Where's auntie Mara? Why's she been gone so long? Are you going to bring her back?"
Luke bent down and got to Jaina's height level. He took a breath before he told Jaina.
"Honey, your aunt's okay," Luke told the worried child. "I think I know where they've taken her, and that's where I'm going. I don't know why they took her. That's what I'm going to try and find out, okay sweetie?"
Jaina, not looking convinced, asked him another question.
"What's going to happen to her?"
"I don't know," Luke admitted. "Hopefully nothing, right?" he said with a tentative smile.
Jaina smiled back.
"Listen," Luke said. "Don't let your little brothers worry okay? You be brave for them."
"Yeah, Ôcause I'm the oldest!"
Luke smiled. "That's right."
Luke got back up and looked at his twins. He bent down and gave each a kiss. He would miss them terribly, but at least he'd come back. And hopefully with Mara. He turned his attention to Leia. She was here alone too. Han was off with Chewie helping Talon Kardde give a supply run and he'd left Leia here. But Han would be all right. And so would Mara. Giving his sister another hug, Luke said his good-bye.
"Good-bye Leia," he said parting from his sister. "Hopefully I'll be coming back with Mara."
"Good luck Luke," Leia said. "May the Force be with you." Luke nodded and started for the door. Before he opened it, Anakin came running up and tugged at Luke's pant leg.
Anakin looked at Luke with a serious face.
"May the Force be with you."
Luke smiled and gave Anakin a hug.
"Behave okay?" he asked his nephew. "Help your mother for me."
"Okay," Anakin said, then he left to watch Nate and Natie again and Luke was out the door.
Three long hours later, Luke and Tava were gone and in hyperspace. They had taken the small ship Tava had come to Coruscant in on. In the lounge, Tava and Luke talked to each other to pass the time away.
Luke heard sweet stories of Tava's boys before they were taken away by the Empire. She spoke of them with pride in her voice and Luke after all those years of hearing the same thing from Leia could finally understand why.
"If you don't mind me asking, how old were your sons when the Empire took them away?" Luke asked quietly.
"Well my oldest was about 23, then 21, 20, 18, 17, and they took my youngest when he was 15."
The Empire had done this? His father had taken part in it..No, Darth Vader had, not Anakin Skywalker, not his father. The man who took his father away had.
"I'm sorry," Luke said.
She shook away his sympathies.
"It's all right," Tava said. "I miss them, but I know that they're always with me. Watching over their dear old mom until she joins them."
Luke put out a hand and held her old hand in his.
"A mother shouldn't have to go through that."
"And your wife shouldn't have to go through what she's no doubt going through," Tava responded. "That's why we're getting her out. If I couldn't save my sons, then I could at least save your children and now your wife. It helps an old soul a lot to be needed, Luke."
Luke nodded. Tava was a brave woman. Her sons never had to die, and she was right.
Three days later, the tiny ship came out of hyperspace into a system of only 2 planets. The larger one was green with speckles of a deep blue color all around it.
"Is that the one?" Luke asked Tava who was seated next to him in the copilot's seat.
Tava looked out the view port and nodded.
"That's the one I remember when I left," she said. "The blue splotches are all little lakes and oceans. If it wasn't for Elori, it would be a beautiful planet, Luke."
Tava's little ship came in on the night side of the planet. Luke brought the ship around and landed in a field of tall grass. He pulled out a small bag and put a few medical supplies inside in case Mara had been hurt, and Mara's lightsaber. He slung the bag around his shoulder, left the ship to go outside and came up to Tavitha who was looking around and trying to find out where they were.
"Which way?" Tava looked around once more and finally stopped.
"I think it's over there," she said slowly, pointing with a finger. "See? Behind those bushes. We should be able to hide in them."
Luke nodded and motioned for Tava to lead the way. Watching the guards at periodical stations, Luke tried his best to shield himself and Tava away from Elori's knowing presence. A few meters from a small building, Tava stopped Luke.
"That's it," she said nodding to the building.
Luke looked at it in disgust. It was in horrible condition. The walls were crawling with vines, and the stone it was made up of was visibly crumbling. The windows he could see held no light, but then again, it was nighttime and he had no idea what the local time was. Luke's anger flared. His own children had been in there, in that thing, and Mara was still there. He took a deep breath and made himself calm down. They're not there anymore and Mara's coming out soon, he reminded himself.
"All right," Luke said, pushing away his anger. Getting mad wouldn't help Mara any. "How do we get in?"
"Well, there's a secret entrance that leads to the kitchen. That's how I got out. Want to try that?"
"If it'll work."
They went around the building until there was a spot with no guards visible.
"There's no guards...why?" Luke asked, looking back at Tava.
"Well they don't seem to think that anybody can get out or on this way," she said walking up to him. "But I know better." she answered with a knowing smile.
They walked quickly to a spot on the wall. Tava removed some stones from the wall and both of them entered. Luke waited inside while Tava sealed it up. Luke, not caring if Elori heard, stretched out with the Force and felt for Mara's presence. He found it immediately and breathed a sigh of relief. She was okay.
*Mara, I'm here, don't worry*
He quickly shut off the contact. Even if Elori heard, maybe it wouldn't be enough for her to find him.
"Mara's okay," he told Tava. "Can you take me to her?"
"I think so," Tava said, looking around and gathering her bearings. "Unless Elori moved her, but I doubt that."
"Okay, let's go."
They walked down a long dark corridor and Luke kept bumping into rocks and once almost fell. Annoyed, he unhooked his lightsaber and turned it on.
"Oh, that's interesting," Tava commented from the front. Luke smiled and continued on. The eerie green glow of Luke's lightsaber illuminated most of the hallway. Both walked on for a few minutes, turning down the winding halls until they came to another wall. Tava started to remove the stones when Luke put a gentle hand on her arm.
"Wait," he said. "Let me at least see if anyone's in there."
He stretched out with the Force, but could sense no one. "Okay, coast is clear."
Tava removed the stones and revealed an entrance big enough to crawl through. Luke went through first then Tava. He waited quietly until she was done sealing it up. Tava went to the door of the room and peeked out.
"Your wife would be on the second floor. This way."
She led Luke through corridor after corridor, then finally up a small flight of stairs. All the while, Luke kept his senses out searching for anyone that was on to them. His mind was to Mara, hoping that they found her and were able to leave safely with her. They eventually stopped at a lone door at the end of another hallway.
"That's Mara's room," Tava informed Luke.
He took a breath and held it. His wife was behind that door. He'd finally be able to hold her in his arms after more than a month. He would finally get to see her again. He let out his breath and nodded to Tava.
"Okay. I'm ready."
Tava opened the door and let Luke in.
Mara heard noises down the hall. "Must be Elori," she muttered. But she had felt Luke awhile ago. He was here, wasn't he? He would get her out. The door suddenly opened and Mara picked up her head to see Luke come in. Mara's eyes filled with tears. She got up and went to the door of her cell.
"Mara," Luke said as he walked up to her cell and held her arms through the bars. He ran his hands along her arms and face, touching her and still not believing it. He pressed his lips to hers and felt her rush of emotion at being together with her husband again. Luke's whole body filled with joy. He was with Mara again and words could not express how good he felt.
Tava cleared her throat a little, and the couple looked up.
"Sorry," Luke apologized.
Luke got out his lightsaber and broke the lock on Mara's cell door. The door swung open and Luke went in and held Mara tightly to his chest. He could feel her warm tears falling on the side of his neck. He could hear her when she sniffed an sobbed and could feel her body shaking under his arms. Her hair was rough and he could tell it hadn't been washed in quite some time. Her face was dirty, but she was healthy. Luke let his own tears fall onto Mara's beautiful red-gold hair.
"I love you," he whispered. "I missed you."
He could feel her nodding her head.
"I missed you too Luke," her muffled voice said.
Luke took in all that he knew of Mara and of what he could feel. Her sweet scent, the feel of her small body against his, the soft feel of her hair, and the voice that he'd just heard. They both parted arms length away. Luke wiped at Mara's tears with his thumbs and pulled her face gently to his. He gave her a passionate yet tender kiss that only he could offer her and stayed there for what seemed like a lifetime. Mara's thoughts filled his mind until that was all he could feel.
He sent her a blanket of love and ran his fingers through her hair, knowing it hadn't been washed, but he loved it anyway. He never wanted to leave Mara again, and held her close. Her tears ran down her face and onto his lips. He had missed her so much...
"Not to be rude," Tava said from just inside the small cell. "But we need to get going if you don't want Elori to find us."
"Too late," Elori's voice came from the door.
Luke looked up and saw a woman standing at the doorway. Her straight black hair flowed down her back in a long loose braid. She wore a black cloak and had a lightsaber hanging from her thin belt. Her eyes bore into Luke with pure hate. Luke had remembered her from two years ago. He hadn't seen her since then, but had that awful nightmare reality of her when she'd taken away his babies and wife. She had looked so young then and it would seem that physically, she hadn't of changed. But her soul was a black hole that only hate could fill in. What had happened to her?
"Elori?" Luke asked with quiet astonishment.
"Of course," she said. "I see you've come for your wife. Sweet, I'm sure, but you won't make it out with her. You'll be lucky if you get out with your life."
Luke stepped protectively in front of Mara.
"Elori, we're leaving and you could come with us," he said. "I just need you to listen to me."
"What's to listen to?" she asked. "Your pathetic student taught me nothing. I just found my own way of learning. You're a poor poor teacher, Master Skywalker. I don't even see why they call you master. You know nothing of the Force."
Luke kept his ground. Kicking his ego wouldn't hurt him much. But why had Elori's training gone bad? She had so much potential and it might not be wasted yet.
"Elori, you're not well," Luke said. "If you listen to me I could help you."
"I told you I'm not listening to anyone," she said firmly. "Now get away from your wife and Tava. They'll be staying with me. And you'll be here too, in pieces if you're lucky."
Luke didn't budge. How was he going to get out of here? Mara he knew might be in good enough condition to run, but Tava was far older and might not be able to make it. But he could protect her.
"Tava, get behind me," Luke ordered the older woman.
Tava complied and walked to Luke, but stopped halfway and started to grab for her throat.
"Elori, leave her alone," Luke said. "She did nothing to you."
"Nothing?" Elori asked, a wicked smile on her face. "She took two of my most precious prisoners away. How do you think I'm supposed to react to that?"
Luke pried away Elori's touch on Tavitha's throat and let air come in to her lungs. Tava collapsed on the floor and gasped for more air. Luke took off his bag and gave it to Mara. Confused she looked inside and saw her lightsaber. Hiding her knowledge of it, she nodded and Luke walked forward towards Elori.
"Leave them alone and we can talk," he said quietly.
Elori thought for a moment as she eyed Luke.
"All right," she said at last. "We'll go outside. Leave them here and come with me."
Luke turned to Tava and helped her up.
"I'll be back, don't worry," he assured her.
She nodded and walked to Mara. Luke followed Elori outside onto an empty field on the opposite side of the building than from where he landed. At least she wouldn't see the ship. Stopping, Elori turned her attention to Luke.
"You want to end it now?" she asked, her face looking even younger in the dim lighting. "Or do you want to suffer?"
"What do you mean? You can come with Mara and I back to Coruscant, we can help you," Luke persisted.
"Don't make me laugh Skywalker."
She came up to him and ran a finger from his chest to his belt. She looked up into his eyes and smiled playfully. "You could leave that witch and stay with me," she whispered. I could teach you the true ways of the Force...and more..."
Luke tried not to get mad. It wouldn't help him or Mara any, so he grabbed her hand and pushed it away.
"Elori, please listen to me, you're sick, I could help you--"
"You trying to tell me you don't want me?" she asked. "I don't need your help. You're the one that needs me, Luke. I could show you more power than you've ever had."
"You're wrong," Luke said stepping away from Elori. The odd glint in her eye making a shiver play up Luke's spine. "I've felt the power you're talking about. I didn't like it. And once you've come back to the light you'll see what I'm talking about. You want to be helped. You're only a little girl, let me help you while I can."
"You think that this body could belong to a little girl?" Elori said removing her cloak and revealing some very small and tight fitting black clothing. "Luke, I'm tired of trying to get you to join me. I don't want to play your games. You'll be dead soon and your wife and Tava just might join you." She unhooked her lightsaber from her thin belt and ignited it, pushing her cloak out of the way with her foot. "Come on, let's see what you can do."
Luke backed away from Elori's deadly violet blade.
"I don't want to fight you Elori."
"Well too bad," she said as she came forward and slashed at him with her blade.
In a single motion Luke unhooked his lightsaber and ignighted the green blade to counterattack Elori's blow. She laughed and struck at his right side.
"That's more like it," Elori said with a smile.
Luke kept his concentration and only blocked her blows in defense, never trying to fight back. He only wanted to get home. He just wanted to be with Mara again and with his twins. He wanted them to have a normal life and so far he wasn't doing a good job. What did Elori want from him? Why was she doing this? Elori kept at her pace, and Luke kept dodging her powerful swings. They'd been at it for what seemed like hours, and Luke was getting worried. What if they were wondering where he'd gone?
"Elori, please let me help you," Luke tried again.
But he knew this girl was far from help. They needed to stop fighting, but Luke didn't want to hurt her. Elori laughed and ignored his request.
"You keep up well," she said, her breath becoming heavy. "I wondered if there was any muscle behind that shirt."
She wasn't annoying Luke as much as he thought she would. He ignored all that she said and continued on until he gained the upper hand and pushed her down on her back. Her lightsaber flew out of her hand and onto the grass a few meters out of her grasp. Instead of reaching out for it through the Force, Elori put her hands in front of her face in a defensive position.
Luke shut down him lightsaber and hooked it back on his belt. He walked up to Elori and reached out his hand. She didn't take it, and didn't move.
"Elori, please let me help you," Luke tried once more.
Elori's eyes moved to the side and she gave an evil smile, her eyes taking in that odd glint again. Luke looked where she was gazing and saw Mara and Tava walking towards them. Elori let out a low laugh and her eyes glowed towards Luke.
"Never," she whispered, her eyes shining with hate and insanity in the moonlight.
Confused, Luke opened his mouth to ask what she was about to do, when Elori's hand reached out and her lightsaber came rushing towards her. Luke jumped backwards and defended himself against another blow.
"Mara, Tava, get to the ship!" he yelled in the general direction of his companions.
But they were coming closer. Mara, he saw out of the corner of his eye, had taken her lightsaber out of the bag and had it ready in her hand. He hoped she wasn't thinking on joining him. "Better keep an eye out on your friend," Elori whispered to Luke.
She flung her lightsaber towards Tava faster than Luke could see what was about to happen. Elori's lightsaber came rushing towards Tava, and Mara was slow to react. She tried to push it out of the way with the Force, but Elori's concentration was wholly on the saber and it didn't work. The saber crushed through Tava's stomach and came out the other end. She stopped and fell on the ground. Gasping and trying to breath through her trauma, Tava looked at Luke with pure fear and horror in her eyes.
"TAVA!" Luke yelled.
She wasn't going to die. He'd brought some medical supplies...they could help...but they wouldn't be enough. Keeping his anger down, he turned to Elori.
"I told you to leave her alone," he said, his voice filled with pain and anger at Elori who could see it in his eyes.
"Since when do I listen to you?" she spat back at him.
Mara was at Tava's side and removed the saber and flung it disgustedly to the grass. She quickly tried to get as much of the bleeding stopped with her hands and the small rags in the bag she had.
Mara was scared, but tried to stay calm. She had to help Tava. Throwing the disgusting weapon away, she cleaned the wound up as much as she could.
"Don't worry, Tava, you'll be okay." she told her new friend.
Tava's eyes had gone clouded and she sounded weak when she spoke.
"I'm not going to make it honey," the old woman said, the life already leaving her eyes. "Tava's too old."
Mara shook her head and pleaded for this woman to live. Mara had never known her mother, but Tava had gotten so close to her that she more than made up for it.
"No, Tava you're going to be fine," Mara insisted. "Luke and I, we're going to take you home. You're going to see my twins again. You'll be their grandma." She smiled at Tava. "You'd like that wouldn't you?"
She wiped the blood from Tava away and tore at her own clothing to help her wrap the wound. It went through to her back, but Mara could still save her.
"I'd like that Mara," Tava said. "But they don't need a grandma. They've got two wonderful parents and more of a faimly than they could ever want. Take care of them for me will you? Give them a kiss and a hug for Tava." Her last words were nothing but a whisper. Tava's eyes shut closed slowly and her frail body slumped onto the grass.
"No, come on," Mara said fiercly, trying to still help her. "Wake up Tava. Stop joking around. Come on."
Mara pleaded for Tava to wake up, but she was gone. Her warm blood dripped slowly onto Mara's clothing staining it and warming her legs. No, Tava couldn't be gone, she was still here...but only in body. Why did Elori have to do this? It was her fault. Tava didn't have to die. Not this way. Not like this, not without family nearby. Then Mara remembered. Tava had no family. Her sons were gone, and her husband was no longer with her. She was a slave without anyone...But I'm here, Mara thought. And Luke. We'll be her family...Mara's anger swelled in her throat and she wanted to yell at Elori, she wanted to cut her down like she had done to Tava. She wanted to take her life away and let her die alone. But she knew she couldn't do that. She'd become an agent of the Darkside. And with that, she'd loose more than just Tava. She'd loose her life with the Lightside, which was her entire life. One that she was still getting to know.
Still cleaning Tava up, Mara wrapped her up. At least they didn't have to take her back looking like someone had just ripped her insides out.
"Elori, stop it," Luke said sharply. "Stop fighting, you don't want to fight. What happened to you?"
"You don't know what I want," Elori said, and Luke could see pain in her eyes. "I can't have anything. I'm just the little girl from Corellia, remember? Your Kyp Durron isn't a teacher and neither are you."
She snatched her lightsaber from where Mara had thrown it and switched it on. Once it was in her palm, she turned it around, grabbed the handle and thrust it, blade first, into her heart. Her eyes went wide with pain and she opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Her small hand reached out for Luke and brushed against his jacket. She fell onto her back and coughed blood. She took one final shuddering breath...her eyes slowly clouding over...and died.
Luke didn't know what to do. He knew Elori was dead, but he didn't know how to treat it. She had been so young. Elori didn't deserve to have her life taken away before she had a chance to redeem herself. He walked to where she had thrown her cloak and draped it over her. Then he left her and walked to Mara who was crouched working over Tava's still form. Too still and stiff to be alive...
"Mara," he said quietly.
He felt Tava's hand, but found no pulse. And the warm presence he'd known for only a few days had vanished from her spot in the universe.
He knelt done next to Mara. "She's gone," he told her as he put and arm on Mara's back and tried to get his wife to look up at him.
She shook her head.
"Maybe I can still bring her back," she said as she applied bandage after bandage onto Tava's stomach.
"Mara," Luke tried again, but Mara twisted her body out of Luke's hold.
"No!" she told him with an ache and loss that he'd never seen there before. "That thing--" she said jabbing a finger at Elori's dead body, "--didn't really kill her. She's still okay, if we can get her back to Coruscant before it's too late--" she stopped as her voice cracked. She closed her mouth and pulled her eyes away from Luke. He could see the small tears forming in Mara's eyes. She had been closer to Tavitha than he had. She had been the only person Mara had while she was away.
He put his arms around Mara, not forcing her to come to him, but giving her the chance.
She slumped into his arms and let her tears fall. Her friend had died. Mara never really ever had any friends, and to lose one that she had only just begun to know hurt her very much. Tava had helped Mara and cared for her children...she wouldn't be here to do that anymore. If Luke had killed Elori when he had the chance, Tava wouldn't be dead now. Angry, Mara pounded her fists on Luke's chest.
"It's your fault!" she yelled through tears and sobs. "You did it!! You killed her!"
Luke let her hit him, if that was what she needed then he'd give it to her. Someone she cared for had just passed, and he'd let her blame whoever she'd want right now. She needed to grieve somehow and this was just her way.
"You killed her!!" she yelled, her face turning red.
But her fists became weak and her hits no longer had the fire they'd started out with. Sobbing, she let herself be comforted by Luke. She let his shirt be the sponge to her tears.
Mara wanted nothing but to bring Tava back, but Tava had accomplished a lot in her life. She had raised her sons to the best of her ability and had helped bring Mara and her babies back to Luke. She had been a good and strong woman with nothing but love to give to those who accepted her. Mara only wished she could of lived longer. She did want Tava to be the grandma that her children would never have...
Eventually Mara and Luke made it back to Tava's little ship. Leaving Mara alone in one of the bunks, Luke got Elori and Tava's still forms and burned them with the few things that were in the ship. Elori was so young, and Tava still had life ahead of her. But both were taken away too early. Luke came back to the ship and found Mara asleep in a small bed. He pulled her boots off and put the covers over her.
He had missed his wife and was glad that she was back. He bent down and kissed her wet cheek. Going to the cockpit, he started up the ship and left for Coruscant and the life that awaited them both when they returned. Mara slept most of that day and most of the second in hyperspace. She came to the lounge only to eat and then would go back to her bed and lie down. Luke hardly saw her, but he wasn't mad. She'd come to him when she needed it, or would accept his company when she felt like it.
On the last day in hyperspace, Luke went to Mara's cramped room and knocked quietly on her door.
*Come in* he heard Mara's quiet voice in his head.
Luke opened the door carefully and found her sitting down on her bed with her head down looking at the flooring. Luke walked over to her and after awhile put an arm around her shoulder. She had stopped crying and her eyes were red and puffy. Her hair was a mess and she seemed so distant.
"You okay?" he asked her quietly.
She nodded her head.
"I think I'll be fine," she said, her voice a bit rough from the crying. "I'm sorry, Luke."
"It's okay," he said. "Don't worry about it. You ready to go home?"
She nodded her head again and looked up at her husband.
"I missed you," she whispered to Luke.
"I missed you too."
She hugged him tight and held him for a moment. It had never felt so good to hug her husband. She had missed how his arms would wrap themselves around her like a blanket, and had missed the feel of him.
Luke held Mara then kissed her on the forehead.
"Come on," Luke told Mara. "We'll be arriving on Coruscant soon. I want you to be up to seeing our kids again."
Mara smiled then followed Luke into the cockpit. Shortly after, the warning bell pinged and Luke pulled the levers to get them out of hyperspace. The familiar planet of Coruscant came into view with all its traffic in tow.
"I can't wait to get in," Mara commented from the copilot's seat.
"Well you won't have to wait long," he assured her.
Luke turned the comm on and gave a clearance code that would allow him to land in the Imperial Palace's hangar bay. Then he called Leia to tell her he'd arrived with Mara.
"It's good to hear from you again Luke," Leia's voice came over the comm. "Is Tava there? I think the twins miss her." Luke didn't answer right away and looked over at Mara.
"Um, I have a few things I have to tell you before you ask me anymore questions okay?" Luke said carefully. "We'll just land first."
"Is everything okay, Luke?" Leia asked, worry filling her voice.
"I'll tell you when we land, Leia."
Leia watched as Luke landed the small ship with Nathan and Natalie in her arms. As soon as it stopped, the hatch popped open and Mara came rushing out. She went to Leia and hugged her along with her small ones.
"Leia, it's so good to see you again."
Mara parted with Leia and took Nathan and Natalie in her own arms.
"Oh my babies," she said looking her chlidren both over. "Did you miss mommy? How'd you do with Auntie Leia, hmm? I missed you guys so much."
Luke came out of the ship and sealed up the hatch. He came forward and hugged Leia.
"Luke, where's Tava?" Leia asked again.
"Can I tell you back at your apartment?"
"Sure," she said.
All walked back to Leia's apartment with the press following far behind. They had found out a bit late about Mara's arrival and had wanted to take pictures and let Mara be all over the holonet. But Mara, not wanting to be bombarded by the press and their annoying cameras, didn't answer a single question once they'd caught up with her. They arrived on the floor of Leia's Presidential apartment and were kindly asked by Leia to leave. They did and Mara walked with Luke into Leia's apartment.
Mara went into Leia's room to take a rest and Luke told his sister about Tava.
"Luke, what happened to Tava?" Leia asked with concern. Luke took a deep breath and told Leia.
"She didn't make it out," he said quietly. "Not even back to the ship."
"What? What about Elori?"
ÔElori...killed Tava and then took her own life."
"Oh Luke," Leia said, a saddened expression on her face.
Leia was taken aback. Tava had just been here with Luke, why would Elori do such a thing?
"How's Mara taking it?" she asked.
"She took it pretty bad at first," Luke said. "But I think she's okay now."
"I doubt it," Leia said. "If it'll help any, I think the twins have missed their mommy and daddy a lot. You'd better be glad that the kids are in school or else they wouldn't leave Mara alone. They've been asking me when you two were coming back." Luke smiled.
"I don't think Mara's sick, but tomorrow I want to have her checked anyway."
Later that afternoon, the Solo children came home and silently watched their auntie Mara sleeping. Luke played with them for awhile, then took Mara and the twins home. It took them a few weeks to get things organized and to finally figure out who was behind the mystery note, and who paid Elori to kidnap Mara and her twins.
Senator Dex had hired Elori after he'd found out about her botched training. He paid her a generous sum of money to kidnap the children and Mara in the hopes that the President would be so upset and she would resign her presidency. It didn't work and it was an awful plan to begin with.
The mystery note came from on of Dex's aides who'd hated what Dex had done. He'd snooped around his boss' office until he'd found what he was looking for and gave it to Luke. He testified at Dex's trial and Dex was arrested and striped of his title. Finally, Luke and Mara were able to start that normal life that they'd wanted so much.
"I'm so glad all that is finally over with," Luke said from his bed.
The trial being held had finished today for Dex and they weren't needed for it anymore. It had been nearly a year later, but their twins were already a year old.
"Me too," Mara said from a room over.
She was putting the twins to bed in their own room. When she finished, she walked into their bedroom and closed the door. "Now we can have some fun, right?"
Luke smiled. He looked at his wife who was wearing a small and very revealing nightie. Luke himself was wearing only his sleeping pants.
Mara came and laid down beside him on the bed. "I've missed you lately," she said as she nuzzled up against his neck. "I've also missed Tava."
Luke remembered the gentle old woman who had cared for his children and helped him find Mara. She was very sweet...and to lose someone like her was an awful thing for both of them.
"I miss her too, honey," Luke said as he stroked his wife's soft hair. "But she's always with here, she'll watch over you...always."
Mara laughed softly. "Even now?"
"Hopefully she'll cover her eyes and watch the twins tonight," Luke said with a smile.
He turned his neck to Mara and kissed her lips softly. She gave a low laugh and put her arms around his neck. He grinned, pulled the covers over them and turned out the lights.