Setting: Post-TESB

Rating: R

Summary: AU. Dark Luke/Mara Jade. Luke accepted Vader's offer to "rule the galaxy as father and son," but cannot resist training an apprentice of his own.

Disclaimer: George owns it, I don't.

A/N: This is a work in progress and chapters will be posted as soon as they are written.

A/N2: The title of this story and inspiration for chapter 1 were shamelessly stolen from that delicious scene in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. ;)

CHAPTER 1 - Tango

Clattering armor beat a cadence through the otherwise silent corridor as the elite squad of stormtroopers marched with practiced precision into the receiving chamber of the Dark Lord. Halting at the foot of an imposing stairway, the squad parted to reveal a young woman in prison fatigues.

Standing atop the dais with his back to the prisoner, hands clasped behind him, the black clad sovereign addressed her without preamble, "There is a banquet tonight in honor of my son. You will attend and you will behave in a manner befitting your former status."

The young woman stared up at him defiantly, "And if I refuse?"

Turning slowly to face her, the ominous figure descended the staircase with grace that defied his armored attire, cape billowing behind him like a bird of prey.

Even with her diminished Force ability, she sensed displeasure crackling around him as he approached, "Refusal is not an option, Mara Jade." His gloved hand drifted toward the saber hilt on his belt and she swallowed hard. It occurred to her that she had never seen Darth Vader use a lightsaber, but if the Emperor's unexpected demise was any indication of his prowess, it would not be a contest to which she wished to be party.

Vader's baritone voice lowered in an unveiled threat, "You will learn your place, young one, or you will meet the same fate as the other minions of Palpatine. You are being given the opportunity to prove your loyalty to the new regime. I suggest you use it wisely."

Straightening her shoulders, Mara answered stiffly, "Yes, my Lord." And with a wave of his hand, she was dismissed.

That evening, Mara was escorted into Imperial Center's Grand Banquet Hall by the same squad of stormtroopers who promptly directed her to the table which had been assigned. She smoothed the shimmering fabric of her strapless ball gown as she lowered herself into the ornate chair. Taking in the elegant surroundings at a glance, she was surprised at how few of the Imperial elite she recognized. Much had changed during her years in prison after Palpatine's death. Lord Vader stood beside the table of honor and pointedly acknowledged Mara's presence with a brief nod.

Mara had never seen Lord Vader's son in person and the young man seated at the head of the table looked nothing like she had expected. Shoulder-length dark blonde hair framed his chiseled and surprisingly handsome face. He ate little and spoke less, appearing quite content to casually sip a glass of wine and survey the proceedings with an air of understated authority.

Glancing across the room, his eyes landed on Mara. She froze. The air seemed to shift around her in the private vacuum of his intense gaze. A sudden roaring in her ears drowned out all other sound and her vision tunneled toward him as he approached her table. Holding out his arm, she felt the moment that he released her with his voice, "Dance with me." It was not a request.

Mara rose from her seat and took his arm with as poise as she could manage. He stood a head taller than her and was dressed entirely in black. The finely woven material of his sleeve accented the toned muscles under her hand which rested lightly on his bicep.

They descended to the dance floor as the orchestra struck up a tango. He gave a customary bow and circled her waist with his arm, pulling her against the cool black leather of his outer tunic. Her crimson skirt swirled around their feet as he guided her expertly across the floor.

"The former Emperor's Hand," he spoke with low, measured courtesy. "At last we meet."

Mara resorted easily to the formalities of court behavior, "It is an honor, Lord Skywalker."

"If I remember correctly," he spun her beneath his arm in time with the dance, "your primary duty to Palpatine was as his personal assassin."

"I served my master in many capacities," she answered smoothly.

"I have no need for an assassin." He turned her around and embraced her from behind, their hips moving in unison to the swell of the music. "But I am not one to waste valuable resources. You are Force sensitive?"

She answered the husky voice over her shoulder, "I am."

"Perhaps your training could be completed."

"And what if I do not wish to be your apprentice?" she turned with the crescendo of the vreila and faced him again.

"Are you that eager to return to prison?"

She glided back to arms length, clasped his hand and twirled gracefully, "That's not much of a choice, is it?"

He pulled her against his chest and they paused with the music, "There's always a choice."

She lifted her chin in accusation as the tempo resumed, "You killed my master."

His eyes narrowed in response, "Actually, my father did; but I was there. Do you want to hear how he died? I assure you his last thoughts were not of you."

Mara stopped abruptly in the middle of the dance floor, glaring spikes of hatred at the young Sith lord.

He nodded approvingly before pulling her back into the dance with a commanding arm. "You want to exact revenge against my father?" he taunted. "You are most welcome to make the attempt. If I ask nicely, you may be left with the use of one or two of your limbs when he is finished with you."

The dance ended and the guests around them clapped politely. Mara did not move, but stood panting in his arms, her shallow breaths of anger echoed the dark energy pulsing from her partner. She was suddenly and acutely aware of the danger lurking behind his piercing blue eyes.

He ran his hands across her bare shoulders and disengaged, almost smiling, "Yes. I think I shall enjoy training you very much."

to be continued...