Title: The Blanket Incident

Summary: Blankets, Mara, and Luke. Set roughly a year after The Last Command.

A/N: I adore feedback. To death. ;)


"Are you cold, Skywalker?" Mara asked me, a suspiciously surprised look in her eyes.

"A bit chilled," I admitted, dropping into the copilot's seat. We were in one of Karrde's ships, a small freighter converted for other uses, much like the Millennium Falcon. She sat in the pilot's seat, her posture relaxed, but her gaze alert. She looked infinitely casual in her dark green outfit with her red hair pulled back loosely and her hands loose in her lap.

I, on the other hand, was something of a mess. Leia had asked me to look into something Karrde had reported to her – for a certain fee, of course – and Karrde decided to send Mara along with me. It would probably be bad for the brother of one of his main intelligence buyers to be killed. I think he's realized what a good team we make, in between the spouts of murderous hatred and bickering. Well, not murderous hatred anymore.

I had managed to confirm what Leia had suspected – that certain members of the Senate were trying to claim areas of space the Republic had no business claiming . . . among them Honoghr, the Noghri homeworld. They had wanted the territory to be Republic for business purposes, and weren't shy about using unorthodox methods of persuasion. I managed to deal with their lackeys, but Leia would have to deal with the Senators themselves. I silently wished for the Force to be with her. But while the mission was successful, it wasn't the easiest of trips, and I had come out a bit worse for wear, with bruises, scratches, and ripped clothing. Mara came off easier.

"I tend to get cold easily," I added, in dismissal. I leaned back in the copilot's chair, wanting only to relax for a bit.

Mara shot me a sharp look with those green eyes of hers. "Do you, Skywalker? Space is cold. And fighter pilots spend a lot of time in it."

I laughed. "I must admit climate was something I never considered when I was dreaming of career options."

Mara turned away and muttered something under her breath. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to hear it, but it sounded something like 'dreamy farmboys'. I wasn't surprised. Mara was ever practical, so of course something like space being cold would occur to her. I had only thought of adventure.

Although, perhaps Mara would have been the same, had her childhood not been what it was. She had had little chance for dreaming, her focus only on survival, and on doing her duty. I wondered, sometimes, what kind of person she would have become, had she been given the opportunity for a normal childhood. But you can only move forward. Mara was who she was, and she seemed content to accept her life and her past as it was. I could do nothing less than respect that.

Mara gave me another sharp look. "You're shivering, Skywalker. Why don't you put on something warmer?"

I resisted the urge to blurt out my first thought: You sound so caring! "I will, in a minute. I just want to relax first." I emphasized my point by slouching in my seat.

A few more minutes of silence passed. I was starting to become sleepy, watching the blurred star lines pass by in the odd aura of hyperspace. Some people found the shifting appearance of hyperspace soothing, some nauseating – I found it sleep-inducing. Or maybe I was just tired.

I was surprised when Mara shot to her feet with a curse. I quickly took a more alert scan of our surroundings and found nothing out of the ordinary. She left the cockpit without a word, and I sat, blinking.

She came back and threw a thick, folded blanket in my face. "For Force sake, Skywalker, stop shivering," she ordered, and plopped back down in her seat.

I looked at the blanket in mute surprise for a few moments, and then unfolded it carefully and swung it around my shoulders. She had gotten me a blanket. Mara Jade . . . had gotten me a blanket.

It was my fault I was cold, and Mara never suffered fools gladly. Normally, she would have been perfectly happy with letting me freeze if I was too stupid to do anything about it. And I was only shivering. Instead she had gotten me a blanket. Why? Because I wouldn't? But that was ridiculous – I was perfectly capable of getting up and getting the blanket myself. Because . . . I was tired, I didn't want to move, and – she cared.

She had gotten me a blanket.

There were several more minutes of comfortable silence as I pondered the meaning of the blanket. It was just such a thoughtful thing to do. It was a simple nicety, but Mara just didn't do those. She had gone out of her way to make me more comfortable. It mattered to her – to pragmatic, sometimes callous Mara Jade.

I knew I respected Mara – admired her, even. She had admirable qualities – her loyalty, her determination . . . of course, along with these came the less desirable qualities, but such is life. Since the death of Thrawn, I had taken every opportunity I could to get to know her better. I cared about her. I had cared about her almost since I had first met her, when she revealed her past as the Emperor's Hand to me. I had seen a woman raised to be a killer, who had instead turned into something more. And as I learned what that something more was, I grew to not only respect her . . . but to like her.

I didn't really know what she thought of me – she's not outgoing that way. I was fairly certain she respected – even admired? – certain things about me, and was rather disgusted with the others.

But she had gotten me a blanket.

"Well, Skywalker, have I grown a second head?" Mara's voice interrupted my deep musings sharply.

"Hmm?" I said, and then realized I had been looking at her intently as I had tried to discover what lay beneath those pretty green eyes and that intense, often present glare. "Sorry. Just thinking."

Mara gave me a dubious look.

I stood up, and readjusted the blanket around my shoulders, holding together with one hand. Mara swung her chair around to face me. "Thanks for the blanket, Mara. I think I'll get some rest. Tell me when it's my shift."

Mara nodded, the glint of suspicion in her eyes fading with my matter-of-fact tone. "I will."

Impulse can seize the most strong-minded people. Han would say it's what makes life interesting. Leia would say it's also what causes a lot of trouble. I would say it could cause me a lot of trouble.

I leaned over and kissed Mara on the cheek very lightly. It was just the breath of a touch, but I felt the softness and warmth of her skin for that brief moment.

As I drew away, I saw her hand in midair, ready to slap.

I'm sure she noted my glance as she let her hand drop. Her eyes were wider than usual, and her mouth slightly parted – as if to speak? She paused, took a moment to compose herself . . .

"Thank you, Mara," I said firmly, forestalling any demands for explanations. I had no idea where the impulse to give her that kiss had come from. From a desire to let her know that I cared? That I, too, would give her a blanket if she needed it?

Mara nodded, the sharp alertness already returning, and the shock fading. I was sure she was ready to interrogate me anyway, but she said nothing.

I turned away and left the cockpit through the hatch. I paused outside it for the merest moment, and looked back. She was still sitting in the same position, but one hand was touching her cheek, the one I had kissed. It almost looked as if she was just casually putting her elbow on the arm of the seat and leaning her face into her hand. Almost.

Her eyes met mine. "Don't push your luck, Skywalker."

I scrambled guiltily away. But I was grinning as I walked down the short corridor towards the few sleeping quarters the relatively small ship possessed.

Not only did I get a blanket . . . I didn't get slapped.