Title: The Cold is Quiet
Summary: Eh. Strange. L/M. Maybe not technically a vignette, but close enough! :p
A/N: This is gonna be long, so if you wanna skip, I understand. :p Many huge thanks to Michele (Jedi-2B) for beta'ing. hugs No, this title was not provided by any reader (for which I sincerely apologize), but credit to the way the story developed still goes to Michele, who came up with 'Frosty the Jedi' and inspired this. This is actually the - third version (I had three completely different ones), I believe, in my tries to do that title justice, and I never quite got there. ;) Of all the Temperature vignettes, this is definitely the most 'out there'. ;) However, it still has temperature, physically and metaphorically. :D
Is this the last? Hard to say. :p This thing doesn't die easily. :p I won't say no, not ever, but neither can I promise there will be another. ;) Chronologically, this is set between The Blanket Incident and It Was Cold. It is the 12th in the series. I am amazed and thrilled that even months after the last one, people still kept asking for another. I hope you lovely people enjoy. :D
I know I usually reply to all readers individually, but I want to get this up and I'm too tired right now. :p I'm glad so many have enjoyed the series. I really enjoyed writing it. I don't know if I intend on submitting to the TFN Archive, and yes, this is probably the last one. hugs to you all. :) I really appreciate all the reviews. They mean a lot to me, and how they kept trinkling in kept me thinking about this last piece. :)
The cold is quiet, the quiet is cold.
It doesn't quite make sense that way, Luke thought, dazed and slow, but still functioning. Snow muffled all noise. It was an amazing soundproofing material. Nothing echoed, not like stone. Stone – yes, that echoed, in huge caverns and high canyons.
All considering, he felt it odd snow that was white. White was such a pure color; the color his sister wore.
It felt inappropriate that white could kill. Black killed. Not white.
Well, that was odd. What was that crunching noise? Luke opened his eyes with great effort, his lids refusing to cooperate at first, willing to bow against the pressure of the frozen water that had wet his eyes.
Something startlingly red waved within his view.
Now, what was red? Not black or white, certainly. Not killing, not not supposed to be killing.
He was being dragged. There was other noise now, too indistinct and himself too uncaring to filter it out, hear each individual noise. A voice, perhaps, cursing, speaking something. It was merely a muted roar, rather comforting in a steady way.
The red waved into view again. Then something pricked him, sharp, and it hurt, though he knew abstractedly he should be numb.
"Luke. Luke, wake up. You have to help me out here. I don't have medical supplies, and I don't know how to put you into a trance. Do you understand me?"
The red speaks.
Luke blinks. "Mara?" he slurred. Force, that felt – thick. He closed his eyes at the difficulty. There was a sharp slap, a sting against his cheek, and he opened them again.
Gray and red. The red moved; the gray surrounded him.
"Luke, don't you dare pass out on me."
"Luke . . . Luke!" A pause, a new breath – "Force, I'm sorry," and it was hard to distinguish that noise, against all that muted roar, but he did. "You're not leaving," and harsh again.
"Colors," Luke says, knowing somehow that colors are important to all of this.
"Luke – I need you to put yourself in a healing trance. I can help you. But you have to start this," Mara insisted. Her voice was clearer now, smooth and sibilant.
Mara – gray, red, green. "Help." He needed to do this. He did. The cold was quiet, and quiet was cold, and he knew at least he could avoid the latter. "Be here."
But he had left. Before. Anger and no forgiveness leaves quiet. And no red. Just white. And black.
"I will, I will," Mara assured him, and her touch is gentle. Swift and smooth, firm and soft, it should be no more than a transfer of power if one considered the Force to be only that, but it was so much more, and people were more, and this could be like nothing else.
"I'm sorry for hurting you," Mara whispers. "Sleep. Just wake up."
Luke doesn't nod, he smiles. "Slapp'd me."
Another pause, and the green shimmers. Red and gray and green – "It always gets your attention," she says.
Her touch is more powerful now.
All is quiet, but not cold.
You can't do this to me. I'm stumbling through hip-deep snow, trying to find you. Dammit, Skywalker! Didn't you learn anything from Hoth? Crashing without supplies into a winter horror-land will get you killed. How much time do you have left? How long can you stay in a trance and survive? You had better be waving that magic wand of yours, Skywalker, or I'll kill you myself.
You probably would have liked to see me when Leia told me about your distress call. The pirates you were going after, the ones with the Jedi holocrons, had caught you, but you'd managed to escape, she told me. She told me where you were, and she didn't even have to ask – of course I'll save your ass again, Skywalker. Trying to do everything on your own, be the all-powerful Jedi Master, that's you, and you went by yourself.
Did the NRI even offer you help, or did they not bother, knowing you'd turn it down?
You damn fool.
I plotted the course your ship probably would have taken. By the time I got there, all the pirate ships were gone – I guess they figured if you'd survive the crash, the cold would kill you. I bet they didn't plan on your distress call reaching anyone.
I couldn't find your ship outright. The snow is too encompassing. You might be buried, for all I could tell up in orbit. I had to get down and search more closely to the estimated crash site. That's where I am now, you know.
I hope this heat sensor works. And that you're warm enough to be picked up on it.
I sense something. You're close.
Your sense in the Force has always been a deep well of power, but I can barely feel it now. What an idiot you are, Skywalker.
Why didn't you ask for my help? I knew those pirates. I knew their method of operation, I knew their leader (and a real piece of Hutt slime he is). I could have helped you. All you had to do was ask. We've fought often enough before; what was it this time, Skywalker? Why did you stay away? You didn't even reply when I tried to contact you, to apologize. Or half-apologize; I'll admit I don't really apologize often.
Damn it, Skywalker.
I'm getting closer. I'm almost right next to you – oh, Force. There you are.
I'm sorry. Force, are you all right? I'm so sorry. Your eyes – they look frozen shut. You're so cold, I'm touching your face and I can't feel any warmth, but I can feel you in the Force. I need to get you back to the ship. You're still in danger. You need to be warm. Even Jedi can only do so much, Luke.
I'm dragging you and cursing at you. You damn fool. You need to wake up. I fumble for a shot of adrenaline. I need you awake. I jab into you, anywhere, it doesn't matter where, and I'm telling you to wake up. Luke. Luke, wake up. You have to help me out here. I don't have medical supplies, and I don't know how to put you into a trance. Do you understand me?
Your eyes are opening. I don't even know how you got them open. Your eyelashes are white with snow and frozen water.
You say my name, Mara, and your voice is slurring so badly. I slap you. Wake up, dammit. I need you aware. Luke, don't you dare pass out on me.
Luke . . . Luke! Force, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for that stupid argument we had. I didn't mean to hurt you so badly. It wasn't your fault. None of it was your fault. You fell, yes, but all the troubles of those around you are not your fault. I don't care what the old troll told you about the dark side. I can't imagine anyone has ever resisted as strongly as you. You remember our argument? You said the dark side influences, and I asked you – what about you and your family? How much had they been touched by your fall? I asked that because I was angry and afraid you would ask me how much it had influenced me. And because the answer is a lot more than I ever should have let myself.
Leia said you had become withdrawn recently. Not cold, you could never be cold, but she worried, she said to me, and she didn't know why you were being that way. Did I drive you to this? To this damn cold place?
You're not leaving. Not now. I can feel you fading, but I'm not going to let you go. I touch you in the Force, and you're weak, and I just try to give you all I've got. You're dying, and I can't let you die. You mutter something about colors, and I wonder how badly you're hallucinating, and if I can reach you.
Luke – I need you to put yourself in a healing trance. I can help you. But you have to start this. I can't do this alone. We're in my ship now, can you see? I'm blasting the heat. But it's not enough. I'm stripping you, and I can see that a blaster bolt scraped your shoulder. And you're still so cold; the heat isn't warming you fast enough.
Help? Of course I'll help. I can feel you, you're becoming more aware of me, you know who I am now, I think. Be here? I will, I will. I'm here.
I can feel you touching the Force now, just faintly, and I touch it with you, trying to boost whatever it is you're doing. It's like you're spinning a web around and inside yourself, binding yourself together in healing. You're relaxing.
I'm sorry for hurting you. Sleep. Just wake up.
And you smile, and tell me that I slapped you, all slurred, but your blue eyes are looking at me.
I can feel my eyes filling with tears, and I'm glad you're not going to remember this. It always gets your attention. That's why I slap you, you damn fool.
Your eyes close. You're warming up. I'm here now. Idiot farmboy. I'm never going to let you do something this stupid again.