AN: This will have a companion piece that I'm currently working on, so no crying about the ending (except tears of sympathy). Also. Review people!! I'm sick of getting all of two reviews per post.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, not the song (sung to perfection by Tony Rich), not the people (Zahn Lucas, all hail the great duo!), maybe the story a bit but that's all. Bold is song lyrics.

Nobody Knows

I pretended I'm glad you went away
These four walls closin' more every day
And I'm dying inside
And nobody knows it but me

Mara Jade leaned back in the pilot's seat of the Starry Ice. Yavin IV was a good two days behind her and she could finally relax. After that last blowout fight with Skywalker, she needed her space. Not that she'd needed space that night. She couldn't think about it. What did you expect him to say when you asked him that? Her bitter self questioned. She couldn't answer her own mind. She couldn't even figure out what she would have done if he'd answered correctly.

"Hey, Jade. I don't think hyperspace needs you to make sure it stays together," Aves gently teased her from his watch seat in the co-pilot's chair.

No I just need it to make sure I stay together, she felt like answering, but she didn't say it. "I'm just making sure it doesn't defy the laws of physics to drag us back to that hothouse," she responded aloud forcing herself to sound glad to retreat further and further from the man she loved. No one needed know that Karrde's stoic second-in-command was feeling claustrophobic in her bunk. That she couldn't close her eyes without the remembered warmth of combat-toned arms encircling her. That she'd actually planned on staying to finish her Jedi training this time, but couldn't because the Jedi Master hadn't said what she needed to hear. She refused to let the tears come.

Like a clown I put on a show
The pain is real even if nobody knows
And I'm crying inside
And nobody knows it but me

Luke Skywalker let his head fall into his hands. What did you expect her to do with that answer? His despairing soul begged understanding. He hoped that she would forgive him someday. He really didn't mean it that way. "It's the right thing," he repeated aloud. How stupid. No mention of how he wanted to wake up with her every day for the rest of his life. No hint that he'd always wanted to be with her. And forget about saying those three little words.

"Master Skywalker?" Tionne was beginning to worry about him after two days. It seemed wrong for him to withdraw for so long. She was right. Life went on, and considering his track record with opening himself up, it would be quite sometime before he dropped his mask again.

Luke took a moment to compose his features before he looked up. "Sorry, I was meditating. Yes, Tionne?" The Jedi Master had a strangle hold on his emotions. Tears might come later, but not now.

Why didn't I say
The things I needed to say?
How could I let my angel get away?

The tears never came, only self-recrimination. He couldn't believe how dumb he'd been. Later he replayed the conversation in his mind.

"Mary me, Mara," he asked pulling her closer to him and tucking her head into his neck.

Mara leaned back to look into his eyes. Her own were sparkling like the emeralds they were. Unfortunately, her cautious side snapped out an answer before the light in her eyes could find its way to her tongue.

"Why are you asking?" The question caught him off guard. He thought that was obvious. He dropped a reassuring kiss on her upturned lips.

"It's the right thing for us." The warmth in her eyes went Hoth-cold in a nanosecond.

"The right thing for us." She repeated. Tears began to pool in her eyes turning them sea green and stormy. Abruptly, she jerked out of his embrace and found her clothes. He watched in shock as she dressed and made her way to the door. "If that's all I am to you, Skywalker, don't bother following me," she hissed over her shoulder at her lover-almost-fiancée. The confused Jedi couldn't gather himself quickly enough to stop her from leaving the planet.

Now my world is just a tumblin' down
I can say it so clearly
But you're nowhere around

Mara remembered that night and mentally upbraided herself. "Why couldn't you just say it, Jade? Yes, yes . . ." she repeated the word like a prayer, hugging herself to keep the grief inside where it couldn't hurt anyone else. She couldn't forget the pain in Skywalker's eyes when she'd walked out on him.

If Karrde had been surprised at her return with the Starry Ice, he hadn't shown it. But he had refused to give her any new missions, insisting that she take her requested time off anyway. Mara knew that she was perilously close to loosing standing with Karrde. Her emotional turmoil took its toll on the way she conducted business, and Karrde couldn't afford an inept partner. She instinctively sensed that if she couldn't pull herself together, she'd find herself left with only the Jade's Fire and a lifetime of regrets. That is to say, with nothing at all.

Desperately, she reinforced her mental walls, knowing that right now they were the only things keeping her upright.

The nights are lonely, the days are so sad
And I just keep thinkin' about
The love that we had
And I'm missin' you
And nobody knows it but me

"I'll take the night shift," Mara volunteered before anyone else could say a word.

Ghent peered quizzically over the table at her. "But Mara, you've taken every other - " he subsided when Mara's foot connected firmly with his shin.

Karrde peaked an eyebrow, and she met his questioning look. She may be on vacation, but that did not mean that she wasn't going to pull a shift just like every other member of the crew. Reluctantly, Karrde nodded to Mara to take the shift.

So Mara found herself on the bridge of the Wild Karrde keeping watch. Time might cure all, but it certainly did nothing to dull the pain of here and now. Alone with her musings, all the doubts and fears that guided her interactions with Luke came out to frolic with her sanity. She forced herself to maintain an alert watch. Do your job, Jade, she thought. This is where you belong. But a certain blue-eyed Jedi kept invading her thoughts. She belonged with him more.

"You're wearing yourself out more with this vacation than you would working," Karrde walked up beside her, following her gaze into nothing.

"I have to keep busy. I can't think too much," she whispered.

"Why aren't you on Yavin?" he asked.

"I couldn't stay," she answered.

Karrde nodded, his speculations confirmed by the vagueness in her voice and eyes. That must have been some fallout. "Do you want to talk about it?"

She turned toward him, vulnerable green eyes meeting concerned brown. Shaking her head slightly to fully reintegrate her senses, Mara quickly broke eye contact. "There's nothing to talk about," she said firmly.

Karrde squeezed her shoulder comfortingly. "When there is something to talk about, I'm always available."

I carry a smile when I'm broken in two
And I'm nobody without someone like you
I'm tremblin' inside and nobody knows it but me

"Uncle Luke, isn't it bad to feel sad for too long?" Luke smiled at his nephew's innocent question. Of all Leia's children, Anakin seemed to have the greatest link with him. And young as he was, the boy could not fully understand why mention of Mara Jade caused his uncle pain.

"It is bad, Anakin, but not dealing with the pain is much worse."

"Hey, Anakin," Han called striding up. "I think Chewie wants you on the Falcon." The six-year-old squealed in delight and raced to the ship. Han took this opportunity to come closer to his brother-in-law. "OK, kid, so who is she?"

"My other half," the Jedi answered in an unguarded moment.

Han rolled his eyes. "That tells me a whole lot of nothing. She could be your other three-quarters and I still wouldn't have a name."

"Who says you need a name?" Luke asked warily.

"I do," the ex-smuggler answered. "Look kid, your sister's worried about you, and, quite frankly, I agree with her. If Anakin can pick up on your trouble, you must have picked a fight with the wrong gundark on this one. We haven't seen you this down since Callista left."

Luke winced at the mention of his former lover. By all indications, his fling with Callista was a normal romantic relationship for him. Broken heart and all. "I've lost her forever," he moaned as the implications of his thoughts fully hit him.

"If I knew who she was, maybe I could help you," Han suggested.

"You can't help me, Han," Luke shook his head in despair. "No one can."

His brother-in-law cocked his head in puzzlement. "I never thought you one to give up, Kid," he observed. "When you're ready to start living again, you know how to find me."

I lie awake it's a quarter past three
I'm screamin' at night as if I thought
You'd hear me
Yeah my heart is callin' you
And nobody knows it but me

Mara knelt before the Imperial throne totally submitted to the dark being that reclined upon it. Her slave chains rattled as she presented a cloth wrapped bundle to the Emperor's critical glare. "Your son, my Lord." Her voice was barely above a whisper; she had learned well to be silent.

A putrid wave of the Dark Side wafted the infant out of her arms and towards her master. The child wailed in fright and Mara could feel the monster's dark heart taking pleasure in the terror radiating from his son. She felt the Emperor enter the baby's mind and implant that terror so deeply in his psyche that it would never be fully removed. She felt it happen, but remained meekly kneeling, awaiting her master's pleasure.

"Is he not also yours, Mara Jade?" the Sith Lord questioned maliciously. Mara stifled a gasp; she knew that voice!

"He is, my Lord," Mara fought down tears. No, no it couldn't be! Her farmboy was too good to ever become this . . . thing that held their child.

The Emperor stood, at the same time using the Force to jerk Mara to her feet. His hood fell back as he strode towards her and Luke Skywalker grinned with a smile that held no warmth. "Then it is good that we did the right thing; is it not?"

Mara nodded mutely too sickened by his twisted presence to speak. His hand shot out, catching her chin in a vice-like grip. He forced her to look into his eyes. Palpatine's cold, jaundiced orbs met her terrified gaze.

"Do not forget we did the right thing, Mara Jade," Skywalker whispered. He pulled her to him roughly, laying her body out full-length on his. Then he kissed her. There was no love in his kiss; it was a hard, possessive kiss that demanded total surrender. His lips were siege engines, his tongue a battering ram, and she felt herself being invaded once again . . ..

NO! Her mind screamed as her physical thrashings jerked her out of the nightmare. No, her Jedi would never become the monster of her dream; would he? Frightened, she reached for him through the Force. The waves of reassurance, warmth and love that were his being responded to her light mental touch reflexively, relaxing her, allowing different memories to surface. Gentle, stolen kisses. Loving, tender caresses. The way he held back, until she finally let go.

No, Luke Skywalker was incapable of the horrors Palpatine had gloried in. The Jedi Master was more powerful than the Emperor ever dreamed of being, and he was too good to turn. With relief beyond words, Mara finally allowed the dam to burst and her tears to spill onto the bridge of the Wild Karrde.

How blue can I get?
You could ask my heart
But like a jigsaw puzzle it's been torn all apart
A million words couldn't say just how I feel
A million years from now you know
I'll be lovin' you still

Luke watched the Millennium Falcon lift off. Then he cancelled his classes for the rest of the day to board himself in his room. Han's voice seemed to echo through his thoughts. We haven't seen you this down since Callista left . . . Callista left . . . left. Story of his life, he reflected.

Leia left. She pulled away as he grew in strength; as she grew closer to Han. She was forbidden, anyway; she was family.

Gaeriel left. She pulled away from his strength, claiming it diminished others. Her people were more important.

Jem left. She sacrificed herself for him.

Ca- Callista left. The Force was more important to her than he was. He remembered searching for her. Scouring the galaxy for the woman he though he loved. And every day that he didn't find her, his heart had broken again.

But he hadn't really loved Callista, he reminded himself. No, the reborn Jedi couldn't hold a candle to the supernova that was Mara Jade. While he'd grown out of his infatuation with the grey-eyed ghost, he knew on an instinctual level that he would never rid his soul of the red-haired beauty.

And now Mara left. Luke collapsed onto his bed and curled into a tight ball. Crushing his pillow to him, he finally let the tears come.

The nights are lonely, the days are so sad
And I just keep thinkin' about
The love that we had
And I'm missin' you
And nobody knows it but me

Mara hugged herself and shifted nervously outside of Karrde's office. It was late; she should still be on watch. All the reasons to not knock floated through her brain, only to be discarded. I have to tell him I can't work right now. She reminded herself. I'd wreck any deal I tried to make. She needed the wily smuggler's good advice regarding life, love, and the universe in general.

"Are you going to come in, or have you taken up sentry duty?" The question startled her out of her reverie. Silently, she entered the suddenly open portal before her.

Karrde sat behind his spotless desk, watching her curiously. He stood and came around the imposing piece of furniture when she hesitated inside the door. "What can I do for you, Mara?" he asked solicitously, guiding her to the more intimate seating arrangement in his office.

"I can't work right now." Mara chose the most comfortable of her announcements to begin with.

"Of course not," her boss agreed readily, too readily.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she challenged, unwilling to have her weakness so easily affirmed.

Karrde spread his hands placating. "Just that you've been moody and off-peak since you returned from Yavin. Mara, whatever happened between you and Skywalker is affecting the rest of us now, or haven't you noticed that Ghent's going lame?" Her mouth twitched at that. Maybe she shouldn't have kicked the slicer so hard.

"I'm sorry," she uncharacteristically apologized. "I just can't get our fight out of my mind, and I don't know how to make it up to him."

"Then get it out of your mouth at least," Karrde prompted. "I don't know what happened."

Reluctantly, Mara began to talk.

Tomorrow mornin' I'm hitting the dusty road
Gonna find you wherever, ever you might go
I'm gonna unload my heart and hope you come back to me
Said when the nights are lonely...

Luke brought his X-wing up and around, ready to enter hyperspace. This is it, he thought. Once again he was chasing after a woman who may or may not want to be found. Desperately he prayed the former. After Callista, he knew that if he couldn't find Mara and convince her of his love, the farmboy that everyone loved in him would die.

Once again he played the fight in his head.

"If that's all I am to you, Skywalker, then don't bother following me," Mara hissed, but this time he heard the challenge in her apparent warning.

You are so much more to me than that, Mara, he thought to her, wherever she was. He was going to prove his love the only way he knew how. By picking up the gauntlet she had thrown . . . and following.

The nights are lonely, the days are so sad
And I just keep thinkin' about
The love that we had
And I'm missin' you
And nobody knows it but me

Han was waiting for him when he landed on Coruscant. "Hey, kid, here for Remembrance Day?" the Corellian called before Artoo had even had time to fully shut down the engines.

Luke grimaced. He'd forgotten how close the holiday was getting. If he were anywhere in the Core when Remembrance Day rolled around, he just knew Leia would drag him to all the celebrations of what had been the worst day of his life. And that would put a damper on his search.

"Actually, I wanted to know if anyone here has been in touch with Karrde recently," he said, trying to sound professional and failing miserably.

Han gave the Jedi Master a half grin that told the younger man he had no secrets from him. "So that's who was bothering you," the pirate stated with finality.

Luke mock-glared at the too-smart-for-his-own-good smuggler. He really didn't like having his private thoughts told to him by a man who wasn't even Force-sensitive. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Han's grin widened. "Just that I've been checking with the Jedi, the Rogues and yes, even Karrde's group, and I figured out that only a certain green-eyed vixen could have you pining away like a lost pitten. You've got it bad, kid, and I'm happy for you."

Luke dropped the miffed façade to ask a simple question. "Do you know where she is now?"

"Karrde's sending her as his liaison to all the diplomatic junk for Remembrance Day." Han nodded.

"But it's whole week 'till then!" Luke whined like the farmboy he still was at times.

"And it'll take you a whole week to get everything ready for her. In the meantime you can fill me in on whatever the big blowup was this time," Han prompted.

As if to rush through the memory and get it over with, Luke's words fell over themselves as he began to explain.

AN: Thank you for reading and please sign the book on your way out the door (i.e. review)