Standard Disclaimer: These characters belong to G. Lucas and T. Zahn. In other words: not mine.
Dedication: To anyone who loves hot chocolate.
Rating: M
Spoilers/Timeline: After The Corellian Trilogy but before "Vision of the Future".
A/N: Do read and review.

Lightheaded
Chapter 24: (You Give) As Good As You Get

"We need to talk."

Those eternal words which damn men to their doom, Luke thought in wry amusement. He gestured to his lap and mock-leered at her.

"So sit down, and we'll talk."

Ignoring him, she walked to the side of the bed and sat down gingerly on the edge of it. Luke sighed inwardly, and prepared himself for questions he knew he couldn't answer. Her questions came.

"Why do we have that link?

"I don't know."

"It was old."

"Yes."

"How did it form?"

"I don't know."

"Why… this is just…"

"Too bizarre?"

"Frightening."

They paused, Mara shifting on the bed to get more comfortable. Luke shifted as well, his ardour cooling.

"Look, I don't know why it happened or how it happened. All I know is that you could have learned to shield a lot earlier if you had completed your training…"

"Oh, you and the training! Always the training!" Mara frowned and brushed her hair irritably away from her face.

"You have to admit that I'm right," he said evenly.

Her escaped locks hovering around her face like a fire, she shook her head. "I am fine where I am. I am happy where I am. I don't need to be a Jedi. I don't need your Academy. I don't need you!" He caught her gesticulating hand and pulled it against his chest.

"But I need you, Jade," he said huskily. Slowly, he pulled her towards him, and she came, unresisting. "I need you, like you need me." Resisting the urge again to pull her onto his erection, he rested his forehead on hers, their eyes closed.

"We've got a connection, Jade, and I don't mean just in the Force."

His eyes opened, and he stared into her green ones, filling with tears. Her eyes narrowed, and her tears spilled onto his chest, but she shoved him away.

"No!"

She got off the bed, grabbing her clothes and started to dress. Frustrated, he stood up and marched in front of her.

"Gods, Mara, what will it take for me to prove that I love you?"

She flung her jumpsuit down. "You can't do that!"

"Why in kriff's sake not?"

"Because it's not fair!"

"What's not fair?"

"Love!"

They paused, panting a little from their yelling.

"Look, Skywalker," she said a little shakily. "Maybe this whole competition thing just got a little out of hand."

He shook his head. "It may have, but I'm not sorry it started." He walked to her, and cupped her face, thumbing away her tears.

"Won't you try, green-eyes?" he whispered, their foreheads touching again. "Won't you try for us?"

He felt her hands on his wrists. Removing them from her face.

No… He felt dejection creeping into his belly, and tears sprang into his eyes. Keeping them steadfastly closed as she drew his hands to the front of his chest. Clenching tighter around his wrists.

"Why'd you have to push so hard, Luke? Why'd you have to push. So. Hard." Whispering and punctuating her sentence by shaking his wrists hard.

He opened his eyes.

"Because you give as good as you get, Jade." She smiled through her tears.

"I hate you."

"I love you."

"You said that already."

"But you haven't."

"I…" Not daring to breathe, Luke's heartbeat sounded loud in his ears.

"I love you." The knot in Luke's stomach eased, and he smiled. A wide, huge smile. Calm down, Jedi. It would be such a stupid waste if you had a heart attack now.

Mara had dropped her head, hiding her face from him behind her errant locks. He drew her chin up with a hand.

"You getting shy on me, Jade?"

Her response was to fling her arms around his neck and kiss him senseless.

-----

Their lovemaking was slower this time around. More emotional.

"I love you," Luke said more than once.

"I hate you," she always said in reply, no venom in her words. But she always followed it up with a whisper in his ear. "I love you too."

When he entered her, he saw stars. "I love you, oh Gods, I love you. Marry me, Mara."

"What?" She stopped moving, and he thrust into her to finish sheathing himself. Surrounded by her, he repeated his request firmly.

"Marry me, Mara."

She shook her head, and he frowned. "Ask me again later, Jedi."

"Mara… come on."

Sitting up and pulling him out of her, she pushed him down on the bed and straddled him. Looking him in the eye, she shook her head.

"Ask me again later, Jedi. This is NOT the story I am going to tell our children."

Our childr…? Oh Mara!

He grabbed her head and kissed her.

-----

Later on that night, after they had sated themselves on each other, Luke looked on her countenance as she slept.

I love you, Mara Jade. Now and forever.

He smiled, still slightly giddy when he thought of her. Of them. It was only supposed to be a simple reception.

He closed his eyes, still smiling. Feeling giddy. Feeling… lightheaded. For Mara's questing hand was creeping across his thigh.

-----

"Han Solo! Whose underwear is this?"

fin

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A/N: That's a wrap, folks! Now... you know the drill. Time for you to thank me for writing this, and to tell me how great (or not) it was :-). Thank you for reading!