Momento Mori

Author: LVB

Summary: How do you gain the courage to face your own death? How do you face your own mortality? Mara Jade is trying to figure it out. AU.

Disclaimer: Hey guess what! I don't own! Momento Mori is Latin for 'a reminder of death'. It is also the title of a heart-wrenching X-Files episode.

A/N: Bit of a random story that was born of a random phrase circulating in my brain. The timeline of the story isn't strictly canon. NJO didn't happen, Ben was born normally. And this totally proves I can still write angst, go me!

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At this point in time, about a million thoughts were going through Mara Jade Skywalker's head. Her body had become numb and as she stared at 2-1B, the med-droid the million thoughts immediately merged into one. How could this have happened?

Her traitorous body shuddered and Mara commanded herself to calm down. If nothing else, Mara was known for keeping herself under close guard in situations such as these. As if on auto-pilot, she thanked the droid and gathered her things, clutching the lightsaber that hung perfectly from her hilt.

In a way Mara was glad she had heard it directly from a droid. The way it had delivered the news was so cold and methodical. She was grateful that it didn't try and console her, that it didn't offer her any of those stupid datachips on "dealing with it". The whole process had been devoid of any emotion.

It was cold. It was hard. It was black and white. There was no dispute about it and that was probably what Mara appreciated the most. The fact was that Mara Jade Skywalker was dying and there was absolutely nothing that anybody could do about it. And suddenly, with that straight thought, Mara felt her veins turn to ice.

When she punched in the code to her apartment, she wondered how she managed to get herself home. Inside it felt she was collapsing, every part of her was being pulled in all directions. But when she looked at the world around her, all she saw was the mundane normalcy she had grown to accept. She saw lives going on around her, people were alive and healthy and they were going about their business as usual. Part of her wanted to accept the fact that she was going to die with calm serenity. The harder, stronger and more forceful part of her wanted to run out into the streets and scream and shout and shake the naïve Coruscant citizens and ask them just why it had to happen to her.

She felt familiar warmth running through her body. She wrung her hands together in an attempt to shake the feeling away, but in the end, it won out. It was the need for passion, the need for destruction; the darker side of the Force that she had learned to control.

Without either Luke or Ben there it was hard to keep control. Ignoring that forceful voice in her head, she simply turned around and punched as hard as she could. Right now it didn't matter that she had made a hole in the wall. All that mattered is that she felt the pain in her hand and saw a consequence of her actions.

She continued to ignore that strong sense of reason in her and proceeded to wreak havoc upon the sitting room of the Skywalker abode. Nothing deserved to be in its rightful place. If she was to be put so out of place, why should her sanctuary represent that feeling of stability, of happiness and love and warmth? It was irrational. It was unbecoming of a Jedi Master. She didn't care.

All she wanted was to feel something pulsing through her veins. She needed to use her hands, her body to make a difference to something right here and right now. Logic was gone. This was Mara, pure and raw. This was Mara Jade Skywalker and soon she was going to die.

Once again that thought managed to paralyse her. This wasn't a game anymore. It wasn't the life of an assassin, the adrenalin of not knowing whether you would kill or be killed. This was slower, more agonizing. This was an Emperor's Hand being told that no matter what she did, her own mortality was staring at her in the face. She was Mara Jade Skywalker, a wife, a mother, a Jedi and a dead woman walking.

Now instead of the anger, the tears began to fall. She felt her body slump against the wall and she slid down with careless abandon. Then, another familiar feeling washed over her. She tried to throw her shields up but little got past the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. She felt his love for her, his concern and then something came through that she had not expected, panic. It was blind panic. Inside her head she heard him, I'm coming Mara.

Mara closed her eyes and simply leant back against the wall. It felt like hours had gone by when she heard Luke punch his code into their apartment. She briefly wondered why she hadn't felt him through the Force but then realized her emotions must have stifled any sense of the Force she had at that moment.

She opened her eyes and watched as her husband raced into the room. He stopped and surveyed the damage in the apartment. "Oh Mara," he whispered and knelt down next to her. She held back the tears for his sake.

"Where's Ben?" she managed to croak, as shivers went through her body. Luke brushed away the red strands of her hair that had fallen out of place.

"He's at Han and Leia's. I…I didn't want him to see you like this. It was bad enough that he could feel it."

Mara choked down a sob. "He could feel me too?" she asked. How much had she been projecting? Had she forced these feelings of hopelessness, of anger, of fear and of utter abandonment on her beautiful boy? If so, she would never forgive herself. Luke nodded.

"He could only feel that Mommy was very sad. What's wrong Mara?"

Mara suddenly felt herself snap. "What's wrong?" she repeated icily and stared into Luke's warm, compassionate eyes. She stood up and used the wall to balance herself and watched as Luke did the same. She took the nearest object, which happened to be a wall chrono and threw it as far as she could and with the Force, made it explode in the centre of the living room.

"You tell me if you're so brilliant Skywalker. Tell me what's wrong. Tell me what the kriffing hell is wrong with me!" she shouted as she pushed Luke using both her hands. Luke did not rise to her bait as he once would have. Mara may have stopped projecting for a short while, but everything she was feeling right now was being broadcasted strongly. He tried to dampen the effects.

"Mara," he said softly and gently removed her hands from his shoulders. She ignored him and put them straight back. But instead of pushing him, she began to beat his chest with her fists. "Mara, stop," he said firmly.

By now Mara had let the tears fall. "Tell me!" she screeched. "Tell me what's wrong so I can fix it! Tell me so I'll have a chance! Please just, tell me…" Mara lowered her head onto Luke's chest and began to sob. Luke held her close and stroked her back.

"You got the test results back today, didn't you Mara?" he asked her. He felt her nod against his chest. He put his arms all the way around her this time. "You're not pregnant." Mara just continued to cry.

After a few moments, she whispered "No, Luke." She lifted her head and look at Luke straight in the eyes. "I'm dying."

He said nothing. Mara burst into a fresh set of tears and Luke let his own tears flow. They had been able to tell when Mara was pregnant with Ben so when they sensed something unusual, Mara wanted to be certain. Mara felt Luke's arms tighten around her and together this time, they both slumped down the wall.