A Holiday Wish
Disclaimer:- The characters and situations used in this story are the property of George Lucas and Lucasfilm Ltd. I am only using them for some entertainment and will not even make one Republican credit from this endeavour.
He was far away from his family during the most special holiday season of them all. There were days to commemorate battles won, or to revere heroes lost. There were fun holidays for lovers, or parents but this one was for them all. It was time to give thanks and celebrate being with your family.
Luke Skywalker paused to stare out at the city laid before him. He couldn't even remember the name of the world he was on. He had finished his negotiations managing to avert a crisis between two warring peoples therefore allowing the whole city to breathe a collective sigh of relief. They could begin celebrating the holiday in tune with the rest of the galaxy. Secure in the knowledge that war had been averted.
Except Luke Skywalker didn't feel like celebrating.
This should all have been over. He was supposed to have been there for only two days and it had been over a month. With their customary blindness, the politicians had closed their eyes to the seriousness of the situation and almost let it escalate into a conflagration of destructive proportions. But he had done what he was asked to do as a Jedi.
Now there wasn't enough time to fly home to be with Leia, Han and the children. The spaceport had closed just two hours before he had finally found an acceptable solution to end the crisis and tie up all the loose ends.
Unable to mask his disappointment any longer, Luke had begged leave to return to his hotel room but instead had found his feet leading him towards the steep hill which sheltered the city.
He had hoped to be with Leia, Han and the children. He'd actually thought he could have seen their faces in person as they'd opened the gifts he'd selected instead of yet again through the frame of a holo.
There had been another reason – a much more personal one. He'd been gathering his courage for such a long time now. This was the time to finally go ahead and do it. He had heard from Talon Karrde that Mara Jade was to spend the holiday on Coruscant. The smuggler chief had also told Luke that Mara's relationship with Lando Calrissian was long over.
Luke gave a self-deprecating chuckle. He had braved Darth Vader, the Emperor and the dark side but couldn't pluck up the courage to ask a woman out.
He found a suitable flat rock and sat down watching dusk turn to darkness and the lights of the city switch on. He could even hear the general strains of rejoicing from the main square. His gaze focused on the sky and a particularly bright star. The last time they had been together Luke thought that Mara had wanted to say something to him but the moment had passed. They had made a tentative arrangement to contact one another if they had both been on Coruscant during the holiday and Luke had gone as far as to make a reservation at one of the most exclusive restaurants but it hadn't been set in duracrete. He'd contacted the proprietor this morning and cancelled it once he'd realised that he wasn't going anywhere today.
Mara Jade – he could visualise her clearly in his mind's eye. When had respect and admiration turned to something more disturbing? The very first time he'd ever seen her, he admitted with a sigh. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever set eyes on, but she was far more than decorative. She was bright, courageous, stubborn and with a hint of vulnerability she kept hidden from everyone. But Luke knew it was there. Behind the tough façade was a woman with a loving heart.
It was too much to hope that she felt for him the way he felt about her. It was too much to hope that she would be single until he had plucked up the nerve to claim her as his – because that's what he wanted to do.
But as he stared into the night's sky at the brightest star he could see, he couldn't help but let his wish fly forth.
"What do you mean you don't know where he is?" Leia demanded.
The secretary droid looked flustered, which was unusual for a droid. "He left after the meeting concluded, Senator Organa Solo. He was heading for his hotel."
"But he never arrived there?" asked Han.
"They haven't seen him."
"When did he leave?" Han asked.
"Just over two hours ago," the droid replied. "Two hours, twenty minutes and fifteen seconds to be precise."
"He won't have gone far," a voice inserted cynically. "He likes to be alone after dealing with squabbling politicians for thirty-five days." Mara Jade walked into the Falcon's cockpit. "Use the comlink."
"But then he'll know that we're here to surprise him," Leia objected.
Han chuckled. "If we don't let him know that we're here, it will be even less of a surprise." A muffled yell from the crew quarters caught his attention. "Uh-oh! I know that sound. I'm going to check that the kids haven't dismantled Threepio."
"Aw…just let them," Mara gibed.
"Tempting but I'd better not." Han's hazel eyes twinkled wickedly as the door slid shut behind him.
Mara slumped into the co-pilot's chair. What had possessed her coming all the way out here so that Luke Skywalker wouldn't be without his family during the holiday? She couldn't sense danger but she wasn't trying too hard to contact him just in case he guessed that they were at the spaceport and not back on Coruscant. And she wasn't even part of that family. Why was she there?
"Credit for your thoughts, Mara?" Leia asked.
"I don't sense that he's in trouble," she said quietly.
"No, neither do I," Leia agreed.
The com unit sprang into life. "Senator…?"
"Yes," Leia leant forward.
"Jedi Master Skywalker was last seen heading for the hill path."
"The hill path," Leia echoed.
"Yes, Ma'am. The view from the top is spectacular."
"Thank you," Leia murmured as she closed the link.
"The fool has gone climbing hills alone and in the dark. It's exactly the nerf-brained thing he would do. I'd better go and find him in case he hurts himself," she declared. "I suggest you move the family to the hotel and I'll bring him back."
Leia's face lit up. "Would you?"
"Sure, otherwise he'll stay up there all night and fly out first thing tomorrow morning and we'll miss him."
Armed with directions, Mara set off for the hill path. The closer she got the more she was certain she was going in the right direction. She could feel his presence through the Force. He wasn't far away.
Why had she come? It was simple, she wanted to see him. She needed to know that the strange feelings she experienced when he was near were not figments of her imagination. Lately, Luke had the strangest expression in his eyes when he looked at her. He often became tongue-tied and she could feel curious undercurrents in their normal everyday conversations. It was almost as if they were flirting with one another.
Karrde had let slip that Luke had asked the smuggler chief about her plans during the holiday season. He had then contacted her and had enquired casually that if she felt like dropping past the jewel of the Core Worlds, they could spend some time together. Mara decided that she wanted that very much.
Reaching out through the Force, Mara sensed a familiar presence just up ahead and quickened her stride.
"Mara!" Luke said as he jumped to his feet, his hand moving away from his lightsaber.
"Farmboy," she replied. "What are you doing up here?"
"I could ask you the same question," he said. "I thought you were on Coruscant. I was just thinking about you and wishing…"
"Wishing…" Mara said, wondering why her heart was suddenly thumping loudly inside her chest.
Luke brought his hands up to his face and rubbed his eyes. When he took them away, Mara was gazing at him with her customary look of impatience. "You're still here," he muttered.
"Of course, I'm still here."
"How did you know…?"
"I have a tongue inside my head and I can sense your presence. Between the two it was easy to find you."
"No, why are you here…on this planet?"
"Because I made a tentative arrangement to spend the holiday with a friend and…" Mara swallowed, feeling unaccountably nervous. "He's here and I wanted to be with him," she finished.
"Your family decided since you couldn't come to them, they would come to you."
"My family?" Luke peered at Mara's face in the gloom.
"Solo, Leia, the kids and Threepio."
"They're here!" Luke exclaimed.
"They've gone to reassure Artoo, who is fretting over your whereabouts in your hotel room, where you were expected to be." Mara stared out at the city. "It's beautiful up here."
"And peaceful," Luke admitted, moving closer to her. "But I was lonely and disappointed that I would be alone tonight."
Mara turned to face him, just as a star fell in the night sky above them. "You won't be alone."
"Yes," she stared at him and found he was far closer than she had thought.
"Would you…could you…" he took a deep breath. "I booked dinner for us at the Alderaan tonight. I was going to ask you to come with me as my guest."
"With Han and Leia?" she asked.
"No," he said. "Just you and me. Would you have come?"
"Yes, I would have liked that very much."
At her words, a smile broke across Luke's face and Mara felt her own lips curving in response. "I guess we'd better get down and join the rest of the family," he said.
"The rest of…" Mara stared out into the night sky at the brightest of the stars and made a wish of her own. "Yes, I think we should."
Luke turned and held out his hand and Mara slipped hers into it. It would be good to be with his family at this time of the year. This time it would be special.