A/N: This is a song fic based on Bon Jovi's "This Ain't a Love Song" from their CD These Days (by far their best, BTW). I know some people don't like song fics, but since I've gotten back into SW, I find myself trying to relate every song I hear to the SW universe, especially Luke/Mara. And since Bon Jovi is my other obsession, I thought I'd combine the two!

This story takes place some months after Callista has left Luke, after the events of Planet of Twilight and was inspired by a lot of other great 'Mara comes to Yavin to cheer up a depressed Luke' stories. It's not intended to rip anyone else off; it's just my take on the scenario. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: George Lucas owns the Star Wars Universe and I am not making any money off this story.

I should have seen it coming when the roses died

Should have seen the end of summer in your eyes

I should have listened when you said good night

You really meant good-bye

Baby, ain't it funny, how you never ever learn to fall

You're really on your knees, when you think you're standing tall

But only fools are 'know-it-alls' and I played that fool for you.

I cried and I cried

There were nights that I died for you, baby

I tried and I tried to deny that your love drove me crazy

If the love that I've got for you is gone

If the river I've cried ain't that long

Then I'm wrong, yeah I'm wrong

This ain't a love song

There was usually a span of about three seconds when Luke Skywalker first awoke, from what little sleep he was able to get, that he did not remember. Three seconds when the universe was new and clean, and nothing in it could hurt him. And then it would come crashing down on him like a sandstorm on Tatooine…she was gone. She was gone and she would probably never return. The ache this realization caused was nearly more than the soul-wounded Jedi could bear. Sometimes, he lived for those three seconds.

Occasionally, he could manage to get up and attempt to go about his daily routine. He would take a morning run, come back to his room and shower, and then teach a couple of classes. When he remembered to, he ate lunch. He was able to accomplish this less and less as the days since she had left turned into weeks and then months. He was almost shocked when he realized one day that he had not left his room for ten days straight. But he couldn't muster up the energy to really care, so he decided not to think about it anymore.

*********************************

Mara Jade listened in astonishment to the tale of woe that the Jedi Tionne was telling her. Leia had asked her if she would go to check on Luke, and Mara had reluctantly agreed. The red-head thought that surely Luke's twin must be exaggerating the seriousness of his circumstances. Mara herself had felt some odd twinges in the Force from Skywalker, but she had firmly pushed them out of her mind. It was not her business.

Leia could be damn persuasive when she wanted to be, though. Mara assumed that was the politician in her; regardless, she found herself on Yavin, checking up on an apparently very depressed Jedi Master. This was a situation that made Mara very uncomfortable. She knew how strong Luke was in the Force. She knew that depression could lead to despair, and despair could lead to the Dark Side. She also knew that Luke had entangled himself in the Dark once before. Mara could not let that happen again, not for the galaxy and certainly not for her own peace of mind.

"--and then he stopped coming out of his room altogether. We haven't seen him at all for over a week. I leave a tray of food at his door twice a day. Sometimes he eats and sometimes he doesn't."

Mara refocused on Tionne's long explanation. "Why don't you just go in there and get him out?"

Tionne flushed slightly. "None of us can get the door open. He's put some kind of Force-lock on it. Not even Kyp has been able to."

Mara rolled her eyes at the mention of one of her least favorite people. "Well, he'd better open it for me or he will be sorry that I didn't kill him when I had the chance on Myrkr," Mara said, her voice little better than a growl.

Tionne looked slightly taken aback at the trader's vehemence, but nodded. "I guess you couldn't do any worse than the rest of us have." When Mara's angry glare pierced her, the silver-haired Jedi paled and quickly took her leave, mumbling "Good luck," as she fled down the hallway.

Mara tightened the strap on the backpack she was wearing and swiftly walked to the room that she knew to be Skywalker's. All the doors in the Academy were the old-fashioned, wooden kind; very heavy, with big doorknobs that were apparently very easy to place a Force-lock on. She banged on the door with the side of her fist.

"Skywalker! Open the door!"

No response.

She rattled the doorknob loudly and banged even harder.

"Jedi! You open this door right now!"

Still no reply.

She rattled again, banged again, and kicked the door with her boot two or three times.

"I know you hear me, Farmboy!"

*The whole planet can hear you, I think.*

She started in surprise at his voice in her head. She hadn't expected a response that way. She waited for a long moment, but nothing else was forthcoming from the room.

*So, are you going to open the door?*

*No.*

*And why not?*

*Don't want to see nobody.*

Great, he was pouting now.

*Oh, come on, farmboy, it's me, Mara.*

*I realized it was you, Jade. When I said nobody, I meant nobody.*

Time for a different tactic here. Tough hadn't worked, maybe she should try tender, much as it made her want to gag.

*Luke.* That ought to get his attention. She knew it was a sore spot with him that he could probably count on one hand the number of times she'd called him by his first name in the five years they had known one another. *Please, open the door.* She sent the request softly, almost as though she were whispering to him.

There was a long moment of silence, during which she held her breath. She was considering what tactic she should try next when the lock clicked audibly and the door swung open a crack.

She stepped inside the darkened room, wrinkling her nose at the stale smell. You could tell someone had been holed up in here for a while. She couldn't see while she waited for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, so she cast around with her senses to find the stubborn Jedi Master. It only took a second for her to locate him. He was sitting in the small window seat, gazing out at the jungles of Yavin, pointedly ignoring his visitor.

"Well, you've certainly got the brooding bit down pat."

He continued to ignore her, but she felt a surge of annoyance over the bond they shared. That bond had been something of an annoyance to her when they'd first realized it was there, but now she took some comfort in the fact that it existed. At least, she did when the other half of that bond wasn't seriously depressed. Right now, the connection between them was more of a hassle.

"Skywalker," she sighed, trying to decide how to begin this lecture. That gave her a moment's amusement; her lecturing him for a change.

"Don't bother, Jade. There's nothing you can say that Leia or Han or any of the Jedi here haven't already said."

That gave her pause for a moment. He was right. Talking about this wasn't going to do any good. He'd been talked to death and was still being stubborn and wallowing in his misery. She remembered what she'd brought with her and decided it was time to go straight to Plan B.

"So who came to talk? I have something I want to show you."

She took the backpack off her shoulder, opening it and rummaging around inside. She could sense a bit of interest from him, even though he tried to push it away. She pulled a black box out of the pack and was humming nonchalantly as she turned towards his holovid set. She used the light from the open doorway as she worked.

She could feel his gaze on her now as she hooked wires from the box into the holovid set and then reached back into the pack for two smaller pieces that had wires hanging from them as well. She attached these to the box and turned to him with a smile. She could sense the curiosity in him that he unsuccessfully tried to hide.

"What is that?"

"What is that?! What is that?! Don't tell me you've never played a GamePlayer 1500!" she said in mock horror.

"No. I don't even know what that is," Luke said with an irritated frown. "Should I?"

"Well, of course you should. It's only the very latest in video game systems! I borrowed this one from Anakin. He said that he would be glad to let his favorite uncle use it for a while. Now get over here."

He didn't move. She narrowed her eyes at his stubbornness.

"I'm not leaving until you get over here and let me show this to you," she threatened.

With a huge, put-upon sigh, Luke got up out of the window seat and ambled slowly over to her. He's going to be just as irritating as he can possibly be, isn't he, Mara thought to herself caustically.

*You're way more irritating than I could ever hope to be.*

Mara glared at this intrusion into her head, but she decided to let it pass for now. She grimaced when he got close enough that she could get a whiff of him.

"Whew! When is the last time you bathed, Skywalker?!" She pinched her nose with her thumb and forefinger. "You just turn around and march yourself into the 'fresher and get that stink off you before I show you this game."

Another loud sigh. But he turned around and headed towards the 'fresher obediently. When the door closed behind him, Mara turned on the light and walked over to his closet. She would take this opportunity to get him into something besides black. She opened the door and smiled ruefully. A rack full of nothing but black tunics and pants. The boy had no imagination. A flash of color in the back of the closet caught her eye.

She reached in and pulled out the silky robe that was a beautiful shade of royal blue. A wistful, almost embarrassed smile crossed her face. Mara had given this to him for his birthday last year. She didn't even want to begin to try and understand what she had been thinking at the time.

She had been on the planet Merakis, well-known for their fine fabrics and embroidery, for Karrde when she suddenly remembered that Skywalker's birthday was coming up and she hadn't bought him anything yet. The blue robe had seemed to jump out at her and, without taking the time to second-guess it, she had bought the thing.

At the party, she had handed him the gaily wrapped box, then had been immediately assailed with doubts. Was she out of her mind? This was far too intimate a gift to be giving Skywalker, of all people. She had wanted to reach out and yank it back out of his hands, but it was too late. He had already opened it and he had smiled at her warmly, thanking her in that kind, farmboy manner of his.

She grinned wickedly as she recalled the fact that the body-snatcher hadn't seemed too pleased with Mara's gift. She had looked at Mara with this little frown on her face. The former assassin had merely stared back at Callista with a bland expression.

She held the fabric up to her nose and inhaled. Luke's scent filled her senses and she closed her eyes. When she realized what she was doing, she quickly held the robe at arm's length in horror. Well, at least she knew he wore it on occasion. But he hadn't been wearing it lately, if the stench that had been coming off him was any clue.

She heard the shower in the refresher turn on and walked over to the door, carrying the robe as far away from herself as she could. She opened the door and threw the robe in without bothering to look where it might land. She couldn't afford to open her eyes in there. She may see things that she wasn't ready to see. Although, her imagination had conjured up a few pictures…

With a snarl, she determinedly put all thoughts of Skywalker in that light out of her head. No way was she going to walk down that path, especially not with the farmboy in the state of mind that he was in.

"Put that on when you're done!" she yelled above the noise of the shower.

Another long-suffering sigh. She swore, if he kept that up…well, she would not be responsible for the consequences. She sat down on the floor in front of his holovid set and waited for him to emerge.

***********************************

Baby, I thought you and me would stand the test of time

Like we got away with the perfect crime

But we were just a legend in my mind

I guess that I was blind

It made me so mad 'cause I wanted it bad for us, baby

And now it's so sad that whatever we had ain't worth saving

If the love that I've got for you is gone

If the river I've cried ain't that long

Then I'm wrong, yeah, I'm wrong

This ain't a love song

If the pain that I'm feeling so strong

Is the reason that I'm holding on

Then I'm wrong, yeah, I'm wrong

This ain't a love song

Luke let the water rinse his face and fall down his weary body. A real, hot-water shower had once been one of the greatest pleasures in his life. Now, it merely reminded him of the last time he and Callista had showered together. They had been laughing and teasing, spraying the water into each other's faces.

He lowered his head and squeezed his eyes tightly shut as a sob threatened to force its way from his chest. He didn't raise his head, even as he heard Mara's voice shout to him above the noise of the shower. He sighed again loudly, just to annoy her for making him get up and move when all he wanted to do was lay down and die. He almost smiled when he heard her grumble in response.

He listlessly soaped his hair and body and let the water rinse him clean. As he let the spray hit his face, he pondered how easy it would be to just open his mouth and let the water slide down into his lungs and take away this misery forever.

*Oh, please, Skywalker! If you're going to consider suicide, not in the kriffing shower, for Sith's sake!*

*Get out of my head, Jade!*

*Stop hammering me with your depressing thoughts, then! Now hurry up and get your butt out here and play this game with me or you won't have to worry about killing yourself!*

Miffed at her insensitivity, Luke turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. He reached for a towel and dried himself thoroughly. He had to admit--to himself, at least, not to her--that being clean did make him feel a little better than he had a few minutes ago.

He looked around for whatever she had chosen for him to wear and his eyes widened in surprise when they fell on the blue robe. He hadn't worn that in a very long time--probably since before Callista had left him. Actually, he hadn't worn it all that often before then. Callista hadn't seemed to like it for some reason that he'd never understood, but he had loved the way the fabric felt against his skin.

He reached down to pick up the garment and as he did, a faint scent that was not his own wafted up to his nose. It was slightly musky and exotic--Mara? He frowned and shook his head, clearing it of such thoughts.

He slipped the robe on and tied the belt before glancing in the mirror. He finger-combed his hair and then rubbed a hand over his chin, pondering if he should shave the stubble that had grown in the last several days. Why bother? It's not like you're going to be kissing Mara. He blinked in surprise. Where had that thought come from? He certainly hoped she hadn't picked up on it or he really would be in big trouble.

He opened the door to the 'fresher and peered out. Mara was sitting in front of his holovid set, a faraway look on her face. Good, she couldn't have heard his stray thought then, or she would have been angry. She looked over at him and gave him a big smile. He was a bit taken aback for a moment. She didn't smile like that very often, but he had the thought that she should. It turned an already attractive face into an absolutely beautiful one.

"C'mon, Farmboy, let me show you what I've got here," she said, gesturing with the controllers to the video game system.

He sighed again, ignoring her exasperated look, and shuffled over to plop down next to her on the floor. He watched as she took a box and pulled a small datacard out of it. She inserted the datacard into the console of the GamePlayer 1500. Luke picked up the box and read the description of the game printed on the back and nearly choked as he realized what he was reading.

"Mystic Knights? Duke Skyrunner? Lara Wade? Who do they think they're kidding with that?!"

"Get over it. You should be flattered. This is actually one of the better ones out there."

"There are more?"

"Hello!? You're Luke Skywalker, the guy who blew up the Death Star, defeated both the Emperor and Darth Vader? People are interested in you. Personally, I can't see the fascination, but for some…" she trailed off with a shrug. She ignored the glare he sent her way, her own little revenge for his ignoring her when she had first come into the room.

Luke picked up on the thought and said, "Revenge is of the Dark Side, Jade."

"Depression isn't too far from the Dark, either, now is it?" she shot back.

"That's completely different," he mumbled.

"No different. Only different in your mind," she said with a smirk.

He really hated it when she turned his own words--or Yoda's words, as the case may be--back against him. His glare intensified.

"Let's just get this over with, so you'll go away and leave me the hell alone," he growled.

Her eyes met his and he was surprised at the little flash of hurt he saw there. "My, we have lost all resemblance to a civilized being, haven't we?" she said, her tone biting.

He immediately flushed as he realized that had indeed been a little harsh. Mara was his friend, probably the best friend he had, and she was only trying to help him feel better.

"I'm sorry. I didn't really mean that. It's just…" He didn't know how to put into words the pain he had been feeling for the last six months, so he didn't say anything more, lowering his gaze to the floor.

She laid her hand on his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze, letting him know without words that she forgave him. He looked back up and gave her an abashed grin. She was letting him off easy and he knew it.

Their eyes locked and something strange arced in the air between them, making both Jedi very uncomfortable. Mara broke the connection first, looking down and pushing one of the controllers into his hand.

"Ah, let's get started here, shall we?" She quickly explained the game to him and showed him how to handle the controller. "We're going to play Battle Mode. That's one-on-one, you against me. I'm going to be my alter ego, so I can kick your butt here like I do in real life. Who do you want?"

He rolled his eyes at her boast and said, "Well, if you're going to be you, I guess I'll be me."

"Even better. I'll really be kicking your butt then."

"Are you going to keep up the taunting throughout the whole game?"

"Yeah. Did you expect anything less?"

"No," he sighed. She laughed at the resigned look on his face.

'Duke' and 'Lara' faced off on the holovid screen and an announcer's voice said, "Fight!" Mara focused as she manipulated 'Lara' across the screen and took a few swings at 'Duke.' Luke was only half-heartedly paying attention to the game, blocking her ineffectually.

A mischievous smile crossed Mara's face as she decided to teach both Luke and 'Duke' a lesson. She rapidly pressed a combination of buttons and grinned when Luke's mouth dropped open in shock as 'Lara' suddenly shot balls of energy at 'Duke.' Then she magically pulled him to her and punched him so hard, he went straight up in the air. As he started to come back down, she punched him again, sending him flying once more.

This happened four more times before 'Lara' grabbed 'Duke' by the hair of his head and swung him around in giant circles before releasing him, causing him to fly across the screen and collapse into a crumpled heap. The announcer's voice said, "Winner!" and 'Lara' did a victory dance around the scene as the music played.

"What in the Sith was that?" Luke asked in astonishment.

"Special move."

"Oh, no, this won't do. You've got to share all your information, Jade!" His male competitive streak had definitely been awakened.

"Are you going to give this your best effort now?" she asked pointedly.

He flushed again in embarrassment and nodded his head yes. She showed him how to do a special move of his own and then the battle was on. They played intently for several matches, Mara always winning as she'd played often before, but Luke was getting better with each fight.

In fact, he was about to beat her in this match and that awoke the competitive instinct in Mara. Just as he was about to use his special move on her, she lifted her arm and jostled his elbow with hers. 'Lara' was then able to get her special done and 'Duke' went down in defeat once again.

"You…you…how dare…you cheater!" Luke sputtered incoherently.

Mara laughed and crowed, "All's fair in love and war, Skywalker!"

He looked at her with mocking grim determination. "Again, Jade. You're going down this time."

"In your dreams!" she said as she reset the game and they started another match. Only now, there were two battles going on…the one on the holovid screen and the one between the elbows of the two combatants as they each tried to make the other stumble. It got silly very quickly and soon the two of them were howling with laughter.

Kam, Kyp, and Tionne stood just outside the Master's door, staring in disbelief. How long had it been since they had heard Master Skywalker laugh out loud like that? The three of them looked at each other and smiled. Maybe Mara Jade was just what the Master had needed. Perhaps even more than any of them had realized. They quietly slipped away and let the two laughing Jedi enjoy their time together.

Luke was still laughing as he finally got the best of her after about a dozen matches. He turned to grin at her in triumph and was surprised to see her looking at him with an odd expression on her face. It was a funny little smile, almost tender and affectionate. Mara Jade…tender? I must be imagining things.

To his utter shock, she reached up and placed one hand gently on the side of his face. His laughter died as she spoke quietly.

"That's a good sound, Luke. It's been far too long since any of your friends have heard it." His eyes widened a little at her deliberate use of his first name. Twice in one day? Astonishing.

"I'm not going to give you any lectures, but know this. It will get better. You will recover from this. Just don't forget about all the people who care about you while you do."

He remained speechless as she lowered her hand from his face and then stood, a little self-consciously. "I'll let you keep the game system for a while. You can practice and maybe you'll manage to beat me again," she smirked as she gathered up her backpack and headed towards the door. She turned at the doorway and grinned at him. "But I doubt it."

Before he could think of anything to say, she was gone. Luke sat there for several minutes, remembering everything she'd said and the look on her face as she'd touched him. He suddenly recalled seeing the same tender, slightly worried look on Leia's face the last time he'd bothered to take her call.

He examined his behavior over the last few weeks with a little shame. He had been acting so selfishly. He had allowed himself to become mired in his pain, feeding off it with a sort of manic frenzy.

If the pain that I'm feeling so strong

Is the reason that I'm holding on

Then I'm wrong, yeah, I'm wrong

This ain't a love song

He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. Callista was gone. She wasn't coming back. He closed his eyes and forced himself to bring her face to his mind's eye. With a new determination, he silently bid her goodbye. He knew it would take time to get over her completely, but at least he had finally started down that road.

He smiled softly as he considered what wonderful friends he had, especially a certain red-head who had once wanted to kill him. Amazing. He reached out, seeking her presence and found her getting ready to board the Jade's Fire.

*Thank you, Mara.*

*Anytime, Skywalker. Anytime.*