Watching, Waiting & Hoping – part 12

Disclaimer – The characters and situations used in the story are the property of Lucasfilm and I am not making a credit out of them.

Luke reached his own apartment, his mind in a fog. He could feel Mara's distress now. She'd thrown up her shields when he'd left but he'd felt them cracking and the grief pouring forth like water from a broken dam. He'd done this to her. He'd inflicted this pain because he couldn't dare to love her. He moved to the window and stared across the city. He remembered the sun in her hair, the smile in her voice when she'd teased him about something inconsequential and the graceful fluidity of her movements wielding her lightsaber or just dancing in his arms. He remembered how she'd felt when he'd entered her body and the feeling of being home at last when she kissed him.

Luke hung his head with shame. Mara was a wonderful person. Fierce, but loyal with a soft inner core that could still be hurt and he suspected that he'd just dealt her a blow from which she might never recover. He'd surely driven her away now and she'd never forgive him.

"But love… for me? It just doesn't happen," he whispered brokenly.

For the rest of the day he moped about his apartment trying not to feel Mara's pain which had already become a part of him. He could sense her hopelessness and her desolation at his refusal to trust her. She'd thought he was the one person who'd always trusted her. Luke realised with an unpleasant start that instead of Mara betraying him, he had betrayed Mara.

He turned and slumped into his favourite form chair, a glass of lomin ale in his hand. It wasn't the best option, but one he very much fancied taking – getting good and drunk. He took a gulp of liquid and activated the holoviewer.

His own face crossed the screen. Luke frowned darkly and moved to switch off until he saw the woman by his side. It was a report on his activities over the last few weeks. The early pictures were all of Callista. He saw himself laughing and smiling for the reporters, but there was always something missing in his face. He sighed deeply and again moved to switch the holoviewer off. That was until Mara's face flashed up on the screen. Luke pressed the volume control on the side of his chair.

'…Mara Jade… There have been rumours of an involvement with the Jedi Master for a number of years, but both parties have declined to comment and there has been no evidence to support the fact that there was any sort of romantic attachment between the Jedi Master and the beautiful Mistress Jade. The arrival of Master Skywalker's former girlfriend, Callista Ming on Coruscant and their constant togetherness over the past three weeks have led many observers to speculate that there may even be wedding chimes in the offing for the head of the Jedi Order and the elegant Callista. That was until last night's State Reception held in the banqueting and Ballrooms of the ImperialPalace.'

The picture changed to show the scene and Luke spotted himself hovering amongst the guests, laughing at something his brother-in-law had said. "I never even noticed the camera being there," he mused lightly.

'Observers noted that Master Skywalker was seen talking to Mistress Callista during the evening, but he didn't dance with her. It is said that the Jedi Master rarely dances although my sources tell me he is actually quite accomplished…'

Luke almost laughed. "Mara would find that really funny," And then the dull, throbbing ache of Mara's hurt made itself felt through this bond in the Force that had strengthened significantly the moment he'd taken her in his arms for the first time.

'… My sources tell me that it was Mara Jade, Master Skywalker danced with and it was Mara Jade he left with. They were seen later holding hands and engaging in activities of a romantic nature…'

He tuned out the rest of the gossiping report and focused on the footage taken of him dancing with Mara. She lit up the entire room, it was clear to see, and she was certainly the most beautiful woman there but what shocked Luke the most was the expression on his own face. He looked absolutely besotted, as if there was no one else there and she was the sun in his universe.

Luke gaped at the screen as if he'd been punched in the gut with no prior warning. He looked like a man in love and Mara… the expression on her face… He closed his mouth and swallowed uncomfortably, memories of their passion twisting through his mind. Mara looked as if there was no one else for her… ever. Her love shone out of her clear green eyes… for him. "She loves me? She really loves me and I…I love her. It's too late. I've ruined it between us – she said she loved me but I didn't believe that it could possibly be true. Oh, Mara!" He rubbed his hands wearily across his face.

Unexpectedly his door com chimed. Luke stretched out with the Force hoping that it might be Mara but he couldn't sense anything or anyone. Then he knew who it was and tiredly moved to answer her summons.

"Come in, Callie."

Callista stared at Luke and her jaw dropped. "Luke, are you okay? I mean… you look terrible." His clothes were crumpled, his hair awry, but the clearest piece of evidence was the desolate expression in his eyes.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"I may not have the Force, but I can tell when you are not telling the truth. There is no way that you are fine."

"Callie!" he whined. She'd suddenly started to sound like his Aunt Beru.

"And don't take that tone with me either, Master Skywalker," she rebuked, a glimmer of a small smile haunting her face, but as she perceived his hopelessness her face changed, her demeanour ready to comfort. "What is it, Luke? Just tell me."

"It's me…"

Callista pushed him gently back into the lounge and the door slid shut behind them. "Nice to see you've done a lot with this place since the last time I was here… oh, around eight years ago." She surveyed the room. "Luke, this is exactly the same as it was when I left. I thought you said you'd moved on?"

Luke slumped into his chair and stared vaguely at the holoscreen. Another picture of Mara and Luke flashed across the screen before the Jedi Master switched it off with a sudden angry wave of his hand.

"Luke… I've come to say goodbye."


"I think it's for the best."

He lifted his head and nodded sadly. "Will it be eight years before I see you again?"

"No, Luke. I'm going home. I'm going back to Chad. If you want to see me that's where I'll be."

He sat up, a spark of interest lighting the blue dullness of his gaze. "Why are you telling me this?"

"I want to be able to help the Jedi, Luke. I have knowledge and I want to be able to pass on what I was taught."

"Can't you come to Yavin?"

She shook her head, regretfully. "On occasions I may visit, but it would be wrong for me to go there. I still cannot access the Force the way I used to and I'm not risking falling to the dark side. I would like to be available for consultation on Chad if you wanted my aid."

"I can see that being possible," he murmured.

"You could send fully trained Knights to me and I could go over philosophy and history. Tionne has garnered a lot of information. I could work it into courses for you to teach." Her grey eyes warmed and the lilt in her voice strengthened as she talked about a road for herself to travel on."

Luke smiled at her – she was well and strong and he felt great admiration for her spirit. Any other person would have given up, but never Callista. "You've worked it all out."

"I have. There is another reason why I couldn't stay on Yavin, Luke."

"What… why?"

"You and Mara. You're in love with her."

"I'm not in love with her." The denial still came easily to his lips but it was a lie and he knew it. "I can't be. Love just causes pain. You should know that, Callista." His tone turned accusatory.

"I still love you and yes, I'm hurt that you cannot return my love, but I made my choice, Luke and I accept it. But love doesn't have to be painful. Not when you find the right person to love. If you do love her, don't throw it away. I never thought you were a fool, Luke Skywalker, but if you squander your love you'll be acting like one. Once I came to my senses I wondered how anyone could be so blind. You are so very much a part of her that it will only hurt you both to stay apart."

"She said she loved me." A sob came to his lips. "She whispered it while she was wrapped in my arms and…" His voice broke. "How can I bear to lose her?"

"Oh, Luke." Callista enfolded him in her arms and ran her thumbs under his eyes, wiping away the tears. Now she understood the reason for his appearance.

"Everything I've known of true love has always left me. Every girl I've tried to have a relationship with, has gone. Was I the reason you left? Is it me?"

"No… the right one is waiting for you. You're a good man and she's there for you. Mara loves you - don't let her get away."

"I wish it was that easy…"

"Love is never easy, Luke." She smiled comfortingly. "Think about this. Mara's not the type to say things that aren't true. She's not the kind of woman to reveal details that make her vulnerable. She's spent her entire life being strong. She has as much to lose as you do." She nodded slightly as the first glimmers of understanding flickered across his face. "Mara Jade let herself be vulnerable for you. Now I've a shuttle to catch. When I get settled on Chad, I'll be in touch. We can work out details later."

Luke walked to his desk and picked up a box of data cards. "You'll be needing this back then."

"Yes, I suppose I will."

"I'll finish the ones I was working on and you can do the rest."

Callista smiled calmly and put the box in her pocket. "I'd better go."

"Yeah, I'm sorry things turned out the way they did between us, Callie."

"I'm sorry too…" She gave a fleeting thought for what was not meant to be. "But Mara is far more a match for you than I'll ever be. Don't let her get away. You do love her you know. You wouldn't have slept with her if you hadn't."

His blue eyes darkened. "How did you know?"

"You're still wearing your clothes from last night and you couldn't take your eyes from Mara or keep your hands from touching her. You don't use people… you're more inclined to be used by them because that's what you're like… you are so giving of yourself. You would give your life a thousand times over to make the galaxy a better place. Don't let your capacity for love go to waste. Don't ignore Luke Skywalker's need to be loved."

"I'll try, but I don't think Mara will even speak to me. That's twice I've walked out on her because I'm too stupid to see what's in front of my nose."

Callie winced. Walking out on Mara once and she forgave him was miraculous, but twice! Mara wasn't the type to wear her heart on the outside of her tunic. "Luke…" Callista walked slowly to his front door and waited until it slid aside. "What was one of the first things Master Yoda taught to you?"

His smile was rueful. "Do or do not…"

"That's the one."

She held out her arms and Luke clasped her to him in a platonic embrace.

"Take care, Luke."

"You too."

"If Mara really loves you she will give you another chance."

Mara twisted around in the too wide bed and the hurt filled her mind once more. He'd rejected her again. Was there something about her that he couldn't love? She'd felt as if they were meant to be together as soon as his lips touched hers that very first time. Climbing wearily from the bed and refusing to look at the indentation Luke's head had left on the pillow, she dragged her aching body to the shower and stood for ages under the spray. The hot water trickled over her head, plastering her hair flat against her face, her whole mind numb with shock and anguish. She couldn't stay here on Coruscant now – not when he didn't love her. But it had felt as if he had. It had been so wonderful – everything she'd ever dreamed of. His strong arms holding her close, the joy she'd felt when he'd merely smiled at her and the rapture when his body had joined with hers, making them one. It was all a lie.

The funny thing was, she could still feel him. He'd erected his barriers, she'd put up her strongest mental shields and yet she could still feel him with her, hear his voice replaying in her mind and knew that he was hurting too. Whatever he said or did - this was affecting him almost as strongly as it did her. Moving stiffly from the refresher, she dressed in her usual jumpsuit and tunic and wondered if she could even face the thought of food. Eventually she switched on the holoviewer and unwillingly watched the images of the night before when she'd danced in his arms and kissed him below the stars of a million worlds.

"He said he didn't want to lose me. He said our friendship was too important to him. He wasn't sorry about the night we spent together. He didn't regret it one bit and neither did I. I can't give up on him. That would be giving up on my love and he thinks I'll leave him like Callista did. I was about to do just that. At the first hurdle I would have let him down too." With a sense of purpose trying to break through her melancholy Mara dragged a brush through her hair, combing the tangles from it until it hung sleekly down her back. "Order out of chaos," she chanted to herself as she braided it and coiled it behind her head. It was up to her to give some order to Skywalker's brain. She'd forgotten that he didn't think like other sentients. "He needs me… he needs me," she repeated to give herself courage.

With a deep breath Mara left her apartment and entered the turbolift and a moment later, the doors slid aside on Luke's floor. She hoped he would listen to her… she hoped he would…

Luke stood at the door to his apartment and Callista was in his arms.

'Noooo!'She gave a silent scream.

Mara swayed where she stood, the agony splitting through her like the cleave of a vibroaxe. She'd never experienced such pain. Her hands pressed tight against her skull, her eyes closed and she gasped for breath. It was as if someone was physically tearing her in half.

Luke felt the pain hit him just as he moved away from Callista. The scream echoed and rebounded over and over inside his head. He dropped to his knees, his hands clawing at his temples as if to ward off the agony. "Mara!" he screamed.

"Luke!" Callista gripped his shoulders frantically. She hadn't heard Mara's silent scream but it had affected the Jedi Master. "Luke!" She spun around, her hand going to her saber until she saw Mara hanging on to the open door of the turbolift, her face pure white and her whole body physically shaking.

'How could he…?' Glaring green laser bolts of hatred at Callista, Mara slumped back into the lift and the doors closed.

"Damn!" Callista muttered. She wondered what Mara had done to Luke. The most powerful man in the galaxy was trembling with pain. The only explanation was the innocent embrace she'd exchanged with him. Mara had been about to come and give Luke another chance, only to see him in her arms. "Sithspawn! She saw us. Luke… you holding on there?"

"Yeah," he said weakly, the life beginning to spark back into his blue eyes. "I have to go after her." He tried to struggle to his feet, wavering on his unsteady limbs.

"That you do, but I'm going first."

"No you can't. She'll kill you."

"Possibly, but if you two aren't together you'll both suffer."

"Nonsense." He wobbled to his feet, breathing heavily. "I can't let her think…"

"I've not seen many bonds like the one I've witnessed just now, but you're going to find it very difficult to go on without her. You'll live, but it will be a half-life." She took a calming breath. "I'm going to stop her; you're going to follow. You will need every bit of a Jedi Master's strength and endurance. She loves you very much as you do her."

"Callie…" Luke protested.

Callista took off towards the lift and vanished inside. Unhooking her saber she stood at the wide open door to Mara's apartment. So she wouldn't have any difficulty getting inside. With an enormous amount of trepidation she hit the door com. Walking in unimpeded, she found Mara standing stiffly, her arms wrapped around her body, gazing out the window.

"Get out."

"It's not what you think." Callista kept her voice even.

Mara stiffened at the sound of Callista's voice. "How do you know what I think?"

"Why did you run?"

"Why was Luke in your arms?"

"I was saying goodbye. I'm leaving Coruscant."

"That makes two of us." Mara's voice was deadly cold.

"Don't leave him, Mara. It's not his fault - it's mine. When I walked out and left him all those years ago I destroyed his faith in love - true love between a man and a woman."

"That's why he was in your arms?"

"It was just a farewell embrace – that's all. We're friends - there was no passion involved."

"He said he couldn't love me."

"And you believed him? Don't be a fool, Jade."

Mara swung around and stared furiously at Callista, the fire sparking out from her incredible green eyes. "Who are you calling a fool?"

"You." Callista said simply. "It takes one to know one. I walked away from Luke and lived to regret my decision. Don't make the same mistake I did."

"If I go then it's clear for you." Mara muttered. "You can resume your relationship. I won't be there to get in the way."

"He loves you, not me." Callista insisted strongly. "He's been more afraid to love you than anyone, Mara, because you mean more to him than I ever did. You're far more important to him than anyone else. If he loses you, he will never love again. So he reasons in his own particular way, that if he doesn't say he loves you then you won't leave him. If he can't have you, he won't have anyone. You will always be in the way."

"I… Then why…?"

"I was saying goodbye, Mara. You can't exist without him, no more than he can exist without you. I can't compete with that kind of love and I don't want to. It's you he loves."

"He does love me." Mara whispered softly, her voice unsteady. "I knew that he did… I knew with everything in my power that he did." She slid down the wall and buried her head in her hands and Callista watched in amazement as the strong, indomitable Mara Jade broke down in front of her.

The clatter of booted feet alerted Callie to his arrival. It was at that moment Luke charged into the apartment, skidding into the walls in his haste and anxiety to get there.

Watching, Waiting & Hoping - Conclusion

This is the final part of the story. My thanks to the girls as usual. Mona, Aria, Una and the others. The characters in this are owned by Lucasfilm but loved by me. No credits are being made. Ash D.

The clatter of booted feet alerted Callie to his arrival. It was at that moment Luke charged into the apartment, skidding into the walls in his haste and anxiety to get there. He saw Mara in tears and felt her heart breaking because of what she thought he'd done. If there had been any doubt in his mind it was completely gone. Sinking down onto his knees, he pulled her into the circle of his embrace, babbling frantic words of love, reassurance and comfort.

"Mara, sweetheart… I love you so much. I'm an idiot… Listen, I love you. I never meant to cause you pain. How can I cause you so much pain, when you're the last person in the galaxy I want to hurt? Please, forgive me… Mara… I'm nothing without you."

But the trader just covered her face, sobbing harder. Luke pulled her into his lap, lifted her tear-stained face to his and tried to cover it with kisses. "Mara, I love you. Please, believe me. I'm the most obtuse nerf in the galaxy and I don't deserve you. Darling… please don't cry." The desperation and truth in his voice finally began to penetrate Mara's misery.

Callista watched for a moment longer as Luke took Mara's hand and pressed it to his heart. It was time to go. The agony at watching Luke and Mara reconcile was too much. She was being noble but Callista knew when she was beaten. They didn't notice her slipping out and shutting the door behind her.

Mara's eyes fastened on Luke's terrified blue ones and gradually she relaxed her crying into hiccoughing sobs, as he continued to pour agonised assurances into her ears.

"Listen," he finally whispered. "I was wrong… I love you. I think I've always loved you. You can see into my heart can't you? I'm open to you. Search through my mind and my heart until you're satisfied I love you and only you. What we have is a miracle and if you walk away from me I'll die inside."

Her eyes examined his and he waited. Her hand crept towards his heart and he again pressed it there, letting her feel the steady beat. He felt her careful probe as her mind entered his, searching for the truth of his words. Finally he dared lower his mouth to hers in the sweetest kiss he'd ever known.

"I love you, Mara. Please believe me." He kissed her again and again, kissing her eyelids and removing her tears.

Mara took a shaky breath and finally smiled. "Oh, Luke, I do."

The breeze from the floor to ceiling windows woke him and for a moment disoriented by the location, Luke tried to remember where he was. He sat up and peered through the darkness. A slender figure wrapped in a white robe stood gazing out into the Coruscant night. Red-gold hair tumbled in sheets of living flames down her back, well past her waist and Luke knew when she turned to face him her eyes would be greener than the new leaves in spring. A soft smile danced over his mouth as he watched her. Just to be in her arms again had been absolute heaven, especially after he thought he'd lost her for ever. She'd been a generous, uninhibited lover and he'd fizzled into a jet of steam when she'd kissed him, whispered into his ears things that he'd never heard before and welcomed him into her warmth. Three times now he'd spent a night in her arms and Luke wondered if she was a narcotic like spice. He shifted a little in the bed. Spice was a mild drug compared to the effect Mara Jade had induced in him. She could be habit forming right enough. The more he had of her the more he wanted.

Mara stared out at the lights of the city but she saw none of it. 'Not once, or twice, but three times.' Three times that she'd spent the night in a bed with Luke Skywalker. It had been… perfect. That was all she could say. It had been absolute heaven to be back in his arms, but then, she'd known she'd feel like that. She wasn't sure if she liked being so dependent on him for her happiness but, if it had to be anyone, she was glad it was Luke. Without him she was only half alive. For a fleeting moment she was sorry for Callista but grateful that she'd interfered, for she, too, had nearly walked away from Luke and the former Jedi had been right. It would have been the biggest mistake she could have made.

"Come back to bed, Mara."

His soft voice spoke out of the darkness and Mara let the sound curl through her. It was warm, sexy and husky from sleep and earlier passion. She turned and saw him, bare-chested, the bedclothes dipping dangerously low across his flat male abdomen. A delicious quiver of something hot thrilled her senses. She knew what was hiding beneath the covers and it was a shame to let such power stay hidden.

"Why should I, Skywalker?" she teased gently. This was a new experience for her, the laughter after lovemaking.

"You need to get some sleep?" His voice rose up at the end of his sentence as if he'd only thought about that reason.

"I don't need a lot of sleep," she countered evenly.

"The bed is getting cold." His voice turned a little smug.

"But there's a great big lug of a farmboy in it. Can't possibly be cold." Hers was the voice of reason.

"He's lonely."

Now it was just plain pathetic. "Tell him to get himself a stuffed ewok. I'm told they're very good to cuddle in the night if you're cold or lonely."

"You're a heartless woman, Jade. A stuffed ewok isn't what I had in mind and my brother-in-law is a member of the tribe. It smacks of fratricide or cannibalism."

"Cannibalism!" Her eyebrows rose in mock alarm. "You eat them?"

"What… our little furry brothers? Never."

"It has to be said that grilled Ewok flesh is considered a delicacy in many parts of the galaxy." Mara felt Luke shudder.

"Enough nonsense." He demanded mock sternly. "Come back to bed."

The bed creaked a little as he moved and again, She was just about to give in, but thought she could chance stretching his torment a little longer. "You still haven't given me a good enough reason."

There was a silence. Mara could tell he was thinking, but when she tried to probe him, he closed up his barriers. "Uh-uh. No peeking, green-eyes."

Her eyebrows shot up at the nickname. He was living dangerously. "You got a death wish or something?"

He chuckled, the sound rich and alluring. The bed creaked again as his weight shifted but this time she guessed his intent. The sound of the bedcovers being pushed aside indicated that he'd stood up.

"I'm going to have to try a different form of persuasion, is that it?" Luke moved towards her, stalking her, entrapping her in the heady snare of his blue eyes.

"Well…" Mara drawled. "I'm open to offers."

"I'm not offering." Luke moved closer and placed a hand on her silk-clad waist, a devilish smile on his angelic face.

"You're not?"

"I'm just claiming my just reward." Luke bent his head and nuzzled the soft skin of her neck.

"What have you done that needs rewarding?" she scoffed, even though the things he was doing to her with his mouth and hands, in her opinion, would win him several competitions.

Through the silk of her robe his hand cupped one of her breasts, teasing it until the nipple came to a hard peak beneath the material and she couldn't help it – she moaned softly, her eyes closing. Heat immediately scorched through the fabric and began to warm her blood. Mara gave in immediately and stepped into his waiting embrace.

Luke sighed with satisfaction as he stripped the silk from her body and carried her back to the bed. Laying her down, he covered her with his body and immediately began to kiss and caress every part of her smooth scented skin. Just for a moment Luke lifted his head and watched the myriad emotions play across her face, the sweet, aching longing in her green eyes for the rapture his touch would bring and that was something that scared Luke Skywalker. How could he put so much faith in one woman?

Mara's heart turned over as Luke's magic touch transported her into a world ruled by desire. His mouth moved tormentingly slowly across her creamy velvet skin. Then the tip of his tongue danced across her full lower lip and ventured into her mouth, igniting in her a craving to have more of him. Her hands dug into the muscular contours of his back and shoulders, tracing the rippling muscles with shaking fingers.

They lay together, conscious only of each other, moving in the rhythm of their desire, fanning the flames of the erotic war they'd been fighting for ten long years – the truce was more fiery than the battle. With cries of exultation the room echoed to the sound of two people finding passionate release simultaneously. No more barriers, no misunderstandings; just Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade existing on destiny's plane.

They came back to reality wrapped tightly against each other, their grip still a little desperate as if realising what they'd nearly lost.

"I do love you," he murmured as he rolled on to his back taking her with him. "So very much."

Mara curved into the crook of his arm, her head pillowed on his shoulder. "I know. I can feel it."

She smiled; the love and trust in her eyes so great that Luke felt his heart almost leap out of his chest. "You're going to have to marry me," he whispered gently.

"I am?" She twisted her head to face him, her heart beating very fast as she struggled to keep calm. "Why?"

"Can't think of a reason just now, but something will occur to me."

"It will, will it?" Her voice was airy as if a marriage proposal was something she received every other day.

"I'm not letting you out of my sight again until we're married." Luke's voice had taken on a possessive sound.

She stifled a giggle at his pronouncements. "You sound very pompous and stuffy. I'm not marrying the Jedi Master."

"Stuffy, eh?" Luke ran a teasing hand over the curve of her hip. "I'll give you stuffy." He flipped her over until he lay on top of her; his mouth nibbling at her neck until Mara moaned with pleasure. "Do stuffy Jedi Masters do this?"

Mara was incapable of answering as his touch made her tremble all the way down to her toes. "I… ah… they might."

"Or this?" His tongue latched on to a pouting nipple and he suckled until she was writhing against him. He stopped his ministrations, his blue eyes dark and serious. "Marry me, Mara. Don't ever let me be alone again." If she loved him, then she'd marry him. He was taking no chances… not with this woman.

Her heart clenched with need as she watched him admit his love and desire for her. She'd waited and hoped for this for so long. "I will, my love - I will."

Mara brought his head down to hers and kissed him sweetly and passionately, their hope for the future bright. With a soft murmur, the Jedi Master once again brought their bodies to ecstasy. They were together.

The steady sound of the waves rolling gently against the soft golden sand accompanied the contented thoughts of the young woman as she gazed into her glass of rich red claret.

Mara placed her glass on a side table and moved trance-like through the filmy draperies framing the tall open window and out onto the balcony. A gentle wind skimming the wave tips teased the red-gold curls framing her heated cheeks. The silk of her gown rustled faintly against the marble tiles and she gripped the carved railing tightly with both hands. So much had changed since the last time she'd stood in this exact, same spot.

The crimson sun in its purple sky had begun the journey towards night, the colours all mixing into a glorious kaleidoscope of reds, purples and blues. A bird cried for its mate somewhere in the trees surrounding one of the most beautiful views in the entire galaxy and she thanked the Force that she was able to experience this moment in this setting.


The man standing in the lighted doorway smiled and walked forward holding out her glass to her. A man of depth, vision, of courage and possessed of a great heart.

"Leave it there," she murmured. "Isn't it beautiful?" She gestured to the golden sand contrasting with the strange indigo colour of the sky.

He returned her glass to its place on the table before moving up behind her, placing his arms about her and resting his chin on her shoulder. "It is beautiful, but nothing is more beautiful than you are." He kissed the soft skin of her neck before pointing to her clinging apparel. "I haven't seen this." He ran his hands over her arms and down circling her waist. "It's very beautiful too." His voice dropped to a sexy purr as he felt her tremble. "But what's inside it is more exquisite still."

"This?" Mara swivelled in place until she was facing him. "This is Hapan silk and cost a small fortune."

"A pity, when it's not going to stay on you for very long."

"Master Skywalker!" Mara pretended to be shocked, but the smile curved her mouth just a little.

"I prefer the silk of your skin, without anything covering it at all." He began to kiss her neck, his tongue flicking the soft skin behind her ear.

"Your sister went to a lot of trouble to get this for me." Her voice was indignant but the expression in her eyes was anything but. "She said that a woman needs something suitable to wear on her wedding night. Something to excite her husband."

Luke chuckled softly and bent his head again to kiss her. "But that was last night."

"I never got the chance to wear it last night. Someone I know was too busy making love to me and it slipped my mind."

"My wife excites me just by walking into a room fully clothed."

"So Leia wasted her credits buying me this?"

"Oh, I don't know if wasted is the word exactly. I appreciate the gift and it certainly does… stimulate…" His mouth sipped at the corner of hers, tiny, tempting kisses. "How does it come off?"

Mara whispered something in his ear and he laughed. The laugh turned into a groan as she rose up on tiptoes and bit him gently on his sensitive lobe. Luke shuddered and pulled her to him, his mouth finding hers and drinking its sweetness with his own. "I love you, Mara Jade Skywalker."

"You just had to add that last bit didn't you?"

"Absolutely, my love."

"Good. I'm glad."

"I'm glad you're glad."

Mara stared at the sunset for a moment longer and then turned to her husband, taking in the perfection of his muscled torso. Without thinking she lifted a slim hand and traced it across Luke's chest, loving the way his breath caught in his throat. Loving the way his arms curved around her bringing her close into his strong body.

Luke placed his mouth over hers and began to kiss her in real earnest, his hands beginning to stroke and caress over the sensuous material. He was right. The gown of Hapan silk wasn't going to stay on for very long. Mara closed her eyes and wound her graceful arms around his neck. Luke lifted her into his arms, his mouth never leaving hers and carried her into the bedroom.

Their life together had just started as husband and wife and as Jedi. They didn't know what the future would bring them – what hardships or triumphs - but they were together and that was everything for now.

The crimson sun vanished into the sea and a white wisp of silk drifted across the floor to lie forgotten, as the lovers reached out to each other in their quest for perfect fulfilment.