Title: One Night
Author: Jedi Trace
Characters: Mara Jade Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Talon Karrde & Co.
Genre: Romance, vignette
Disclaimer: George owns it and I write for free.
Summary: Luke and Mara struggle with separation early in their marriage and are reunited for one special night.
A/N: Two lines of dialogue in this vig are quotes from a TV show and were required as part of the challenge that inspired this vig.
Many thanks to the lovely and talented kayladie for beta'ing!
Elevator lights flashed in measured cadence on the display panel, pausing only long enough for passengers to disembark or enter as the round pod rose silently through the center of the apartment complex. Mara watched the lights, as if staring at them could will them to move faster, and suppressed a flash of irritation at each stop. Not very Jedi-like behavior, she mentally chastised herself but - shavit - she'd been looking forward to this day for weeks.
The elevator finally stopped at her floor and she excused her way through the small crowd in the pod. Hoisting her travel bag over her shoulder, she somehow managed not to sprint down the hallway to her apartment door.
Keying the door open, she flung her bag aside. "Luke! I'm home!" When there was no answer, she made the loop between the kitchen and the common area. "Luke?"
She could have used the Force to detect his presence, but the Force was quite possibly the last thing on her mind at the moment. After glancing briefly into each room of their small apartment, it became obvious that he wasn't there yet.
Disappointed but not deterred, she headed into the bedroom to take advantage of the time alone to shower and change into something more suitable for a homecoming. Stripping off her pants, she tossed them onto the comm station chair where she noticed that the 'incoming' light was blinking.
She entered her password and unbraided her hair as the message downloaded. It was from Luke:
Mara – I've been delayed, again. Some type of viral outbreak at the Academy affecting the youngest students but not the adults. But, barring the outbreak of a galactic war or the appearance of a Death Star, I'll be home one week from today - promise! I miss you. Love – Luke.
Mara slumped dejectedly into the chair. In the six months since their honeymoon, she had seen her husband all of four times and then only briefly, a few days at the most. This time had been their longest separation so far – two months and counting.
They'd originally planned to rendezvous on Kuat three weeks ago for the Annual Trade Show. She had made a few special arrangements, seeing as how it would have been something of an anniversary for them, but Luke had been called away at the last minute.
She had planned to join him on Yavin two weeks ago, but got held up by the attempted assassination of one of Karrde's most lucrative partners in the Corporate Sector.
And just last week, their reunion had been thwarted when Wedge Antilles had called in a favor from Luke, and Ghent had gone strangely missing. She never learned what had happened with Ghent. They'd found him before she got there and Karrde's entire crew refused to discuss the details. Ghent only blushed furiously when she approached him, so she'd dropped it.
The comm light was flashing to indicate a second message in the priority queue. It was from Karrde, sent just this morning. Faughn was on a brief leave-of-absence and the Bilbringi run had just been rescheduled. He concluded the message by saying that he'd find someone else if Mara couldn't make it, but she was his first choice.
Mara flicked a button, bringing up the calendar. The Bilbringi run would take five days, tops. Less, if she pushed it. She would still be home in time to meet up with Luke and the run was certainly more appealing than hanging around on Coruscant for a week.
After contacting Karrde to let him know that she'd do it, she showered, dressed and refreshed the supplies in her travel bag. Just before leaving, she left a message on the comm station:
Luke – I'll be gone for five days on the Bilbringi run, but I will be waiting for you when you get home. Be careful. I miss you, too. Love – Mara.
Five days later, however, Mara found herself not back on Coruscant but on the bridge of the Wild Karrde instead. Luke had just contacted her to let her know that he'd made it home early and was waiting for her on Coruscant. She didn't tell Talon that, but stared up at him, drumming her fingers restlessly on the console.
"I'm sorry, Mara," Karrde offered half-apologetically. "The Coriduns have their turrets in a knot and you know how these Outer Rim types can be. I need you for this one. You'll be home in four or five days. You have my word."
But Luke wouldn't be there in four or five days. He'd be on his way to accompany Leia to a conference between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant.
Mara was determined not to be swayed. "You have your own security people, Karrde. Hell, I trained half of them."
"But you're a Jedi," he said smiling, as if the statement would somehow boost her ego. "These things tend to go much smoother with a Jedi around."
"We've handled these types hundreds of times and you've never had a Jedi around to help you before," Mara countered. "Besides. Shada's here. You don't need me around to play bodyguard for you if Shada is here."
Before he could answer, the bridge door slid open and Shada D'ukal herself appeared. "Dinner is almost ready in the galley…" Her voice trailed off as if she sensed the tension in the room. "Is everything all right?" she asked, glancing back and forth between the two of them.
"It's fine," Karrde answered calmly, but with a finality that let Mara know the subject was closed.
Turning on her heel, Mara left the bridge and made her way to the communications terminal to let Luke know that she wouldn't make it home in time to see him. She'd hoped for privacy but found Ghent and Aves engaged in some annoying game called "The Whammy."
They would be first in line when dinner was served, so Mara busied herself with organizational charts, gritting her teeth when they would slam their hands down on the table and cry, "Whammy!"
"Hey, Jade!" Aves said, finally noticing that she'd entered the room. "You wanna play?"
"No," Mara answered shortly, not bothering to hide the irritation in her voice. "But, if you've nothing better to do, please explain to me the scientific nature of 'the whammy'."
Ghent and Aves looked at each other. "I think." Ghent rose from the table. "I think dinner is almost ready."
"I think you're right," Aves agreed, and exited behind Ghent, almost tripping over him in his hurry out the door.
Mara glanced over her shoulder as they left and waited until she could no longer hear their voices before patching through a holo to her apartment on Coruscant. Luke appeared almost instantly. Bare-chested, he was toweling his hair as if he'd just gotten out of the shower and just the shimmering holo image brought a flush to her cheeks.
"Hi!" he greeted her, grinning widely. "Are you on your way home?"
"Unfortunately not," she answered. "Karrde insists that he needs me to help him deal with some ruffians for four or five days." Her stomach sank at the look of disappointment on Luke's face. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault," he sighed, settling down in front of the comm station. "We knew it would be like this when we got married. At least for a while."
"I know," she said softly, resisting the urge to reach out and run her fingers through his hair. "When will you be back from Remnant space?"
"Leia said it would take seven to ten days and then I'll head back to Yavin. Do you think you can make it?"
Mara lowered her voice and leaned close to the holotransmitter. "If I have to hijack this ship and hold everyone aboard hostage at lightsaber point, trust me - I'll meet you at the Academy in two weeks."
Luke laughed, nodding his head appreciatively. "I believe you." Leaning in as well, he dropped his voice to a whisper and his eyes sparkled tenderly. "I miss you."
Warming from his affectionate gaze, she glanced self-consciously over her shoulder at a noise in the corridor. "Two weeks," she said, turning back to him and tucking a strand of hair behind her ear away from her hot cheek. "Two weeks and we can-"
The door hissed suddenly behind her and Ghent hurried in, shouting down the corridor as he entered. "No! But I'll check it out!"
He froze when he saw Mara and the flickering holo of Luke. "Oh! Sorry. Excuse me. I didn't know you were – I mean – I didn't mean to interrupt, but I need to check…" His mouth continued to work without sound and he simply pointed to the terminal.
Blushing beneath his tattoos, he looked so awkwardly miserable that Mara couldn't help but pity him. "It's all right, Ghent. I'm done," she said before turning back to Luke. "Two weeks."
Luke smiled back. "Two weeks. Out."
"Out," she mumbled, shutting down holotransmitter. Mara could feel Ghent fidgeting behind her and got up, relinquishing her seat.
"I'm sorry," he offered again in a small voice.
"Don't worry about it." She patted him on the shoulder. "Just do your job."
Dinner was probably still being served in the galley, but she wasn't hungry. Instead, she headed to the shockball court on the lower deck. It was small, but that was preferable when playing solo.
Mara had just taken the lead over the computer opponent, when a female voice snapped her out of her game concentration.
"May I join you?" Shada called from the entry.
"Sure," Mara answered, adjusting her gloves.
The darker-haired woman donned her protective pads and gloves and positioned herself across the arena. Shada was by far the most competitive of Mara's friends in this game and the score remained perpetually tied.
Taking a break during the third rest period, Shada leaned against the wall by the water dispenser. "So, how's married life?"
"At the moment, I wouldn't know," Mara answered, splashing cool water on her face before returning to the arena.
"You don't get much time together, do you?" her opponent asked, following her back into the playing circle.
"No." Mara secured her gloves and summoned the ball with the built-in tractor beam. "He's at home on Coruscant right now. I was supposed to meet him there but-"
She launched the ball with a resounding zing.
Shada pivoted and dove for the ball. "Is that what you and Talon were arguing about?"
"Of course not. I much prefer shockball to my husband's company."
Her opponent deflected the shot but shook her hand within the glove. "Stang, Mara, that was hard! How long has it been since you saw Luke?"
"And ten hours."
"OW!" The ball made contact with an area of non-protected skin and Shada jerked backwards from the shock. "Hold on." She signaled for a halt, even though the round was technically over since she'd been hit.
"Does Talon know that?"
"Of course not," Mara stripped off her gloves and pads. "It's none of his business. And this is still my primary job."
Shada started to protest, but Mara cut her off, deliberately changing the subject. "When are you and Talon going to make it official, by the way?"
Putting her gaming gear away in the storage compartments, Shada answered without turning around. "Make what official? We don't have that kind of relationship."
"Really?" Mara deadpanned. "Then you should tell him that he needs better insulation in his sleep cabin if the two of you expect anyone on this ship to believe that."
Shada spun around, her face blazing crimson.
"Good game," Mara smirked, sauntering past her open-mouthed friend as she left the arena.
Four days later, Mara woke to an insistent knocking on her cabin door. Dragging herself from bed, she palmed the door open. "What is it?"
"Get dressed." Shada slipped past her and headed straight for Mara's closet. "You're leaving."
"What are you talking about?" Only then did she notice that the ship wasn't moving. "Where are we?"
"On Endor." Shada pulled one of the standard issue jumpsuits off the hangar. "Is this all you ever wear?"
Mara ignored her, carrying the jumpsuit into her small refresher to change. "Why are we on Endor?"
When Mara emerged from the refresher, she found her travel bag already packed on her bed. "I made some arrangements," Shada said, picking up the bag and ushering Mara out the door. "As you know, he's on his way to meet Leia so this is only for one night, but I didn't think you'd mind."
They arrived at the landing ramp and Shada took her place beside a chagrined-looking Talon Karrde. "Go on."
Mara leaned down to peer out the hatchway and felt her heart skip a beat. Luke was standing at the foot of the ramp grinning expectantly as wind from the still-cooling jets blew his hair away from his face.
"Thanks." Mara took her bag from Shada with a smile of appreciation and started down the ramp.
"Have fun! Don't do anything I wouldn't," Shada called behind her.
"Insulation," Mara countered.
Karrde looked away.
Luke embraced her as soon as she reached the foot of the ramp. Clutching him tightly, she waited until the Wild Karrde was gone before pulling away to greet him properly, but he beat her to it, crushing his lips against hers in a fervent kiss.
Breathless, she pulled away. "What's this about?"
"Shada called me," Luke answered, taking her bag and throwing it over his shoulder with his own. "She said that you were being an insufferable grouch and that she and the crew simply could not live with you another day. So, I offered to take you off their hands for a night, since I was in the sector and all."
Mara shook her head. "That's the worst lie I've ever heard. You were nowhere near this sector."
"You're right," Luke answered with a sheepish grin. "I think I shorted Artoo out trying to get here." Sure enough, Artoo was sitting quietly beside Luke's ship without his customary tweedling commentary.
"Come on." Luke picked up a tent-shaped case. "I saw a good camp spot on the way in. Unless you'd rather visit the local tribe of Ewoks, that is."
Mara flashed him a sideways glare as they started out across the clearing. "Not really."
Artoo did chime in then, with a series of beeps that lent themselves heavily to agreement with Mara.
After a brief trek through the forest, they reached a flat area bordered by trees on one side and a lake on the other. On the far side of the lake, a small waterfall splashed into the clear water before running off into a stream through the woods. It was quiet, with only the sounds of birds and splashing water to break the silence.
"This looks good," Mara said, sinking the toe of her boot into the soft soil. "It should be easy to pitch the tent here. I just hope it's sturdier than that tent we had on Garqi."
"I don't think there was anything wrong with the tent on Garqi," Luke answered with a wink. "Why don't you get the fire pit ready while I put this up?"
Mara was already unpacking the camp supplies. "Will do." The cooking plate was dusty from being stowed in the X-wing and she took it to the edge of the lake to rinse it off, noting that the water was not particularly cold. In fact, it was almost warm.
Supplies organized, she went to help Luke finish the tent and was driving the final stake into the ground when he knelt in front of her. "Need some help?"
She swatted his hand away playfully. "Don't touch my dirt!"
He ignored her, brushing soil from the back of her hand. "But your dirt is on my wife," he protested mischievously.
Abruptly, he leaned forward, catching her off guard so that she lost her balance and landed flat on her back in the mud beside the lake.
"Hey!" she protested as he knelt over her, straddling her legs. Her fall and protest were both a ruse, but he played along.
"Hey yourself," he murmured, bending down to brush his mouth over hers. "I missed you."
His touch sent shivers down her spine. Threading her fingers through his hair, she pulled him close, answering only with a deep kiss that could leave no doubt about how much she had missed him herself.
Slowly, she disentangled her hands from his hair and ran them gently over his shoulders and back, feeling his muscles ripple beneath her touch as he pushed himself up to hover over her.
"This is familiar," he said. "Reminds me of the first time we ended up in this position. Only…your eyes are different. They're deeper. More reflective."
"You don't have to flatter me. I already married you."
"It's not flattery. It's the truth," he answered simply.
As much as she appreciated her husband's sincerity, she was rapidly becoming distracted by the weight of his body on hers. "Things were different then," she agreed, starting to unfasten the clasps of his flight suit. "However," she tugged his tunic open. "Some things don't change."
"Here?" He asked huskily. "We'll get all dirty."
"Um-hmm," was her only reply as she tossed his utility belt aside and kissed the pulse point on his neck. "And then we can get all clean in the lake."
Though the Force might have been faster, he used his hands to unzip her jumpsuit, allowing his fingers to trail lightly over her curves on the way down. The zip-clasp ended just above her hips and he slipped his hands around her bare waist beneath, sliding his palms up to cup the soft fabric covering her breasts.
She moaned softly as he caressed her through the material. Finally getting to his undershirt, she tugged it off over his head and splayed her fingers as she ran them down his chest. Reaching the bulge beneath his waist, she mirrored his actions and stroked it through the fabric of his trousers.
Too long it had been since they'd touched each other and desire flared hot as he grabbed the flaps of her opened zip-clasps.
"Damn jumpsuit," he mumbled hoarsely. "Did you bring a change of clothes?"
"Of course," she panted.
"Good." And with reckless abandon, he ripped the garment open, tearing it apart at her hips and down her thighs.
Vowing silently never to wear one of the impeding jumpsuits again, Mara pulled her arms free of the sleeves and reached for her underwear at the same time that he did. She wasn't sure who got them off, but it didn't matter because he was inside her – filling and stretching her with powerful thrusts.
As with all of their reunions, the first climax was over too soon and they lay gasping in each other's arms. His rested his head in one of her favorite spots, pillowed on her chest, as she feathered her fingers through his hair.
In her relaxed haze, the sound of water splashing against rocks caught her attention and she turned to look at the lake. A slow smile spread across her face and she carefully disengaged from Luke and stood, pulling him up by the hand. She didn't speak, but simply kicked off her boots and beckoned him to follow her.
Leaving the remains of her jumpsuit at the camp site, she climbed gracefully over the large, smooth stones surrounding the water, making her way to the waterfall. They reached a flat surface close to the waterfall and Mara turned to Luke. "Sit down," she instructed in a low, sultry voice. "Wait here."
The waterfall was not high and the clear stream splashing down from the river above was just strong enough to create a light spray at the bottom. Mara stepped into the waterfall, closing her eyes as the mild currents washed over her. With her back to Luke, she lifted her hands and began to knead them through her hair, loosening the dirt imbedded there from their coupling at the camp site.
Leaning her head back, she ran her fingers through the length of her hair, tossing her head just enough to make the wet locks sway against her back. She felt Luke's pulse quicken through the Force and she rotated slowly under the water, opening her eyes only long enough to see his slack-jawed expression before continuing her impromptu shower.
Lifting her arms over her head, she slid her fingers up and down her arms then trailed them seductively down her neck. Her bra was still clinging precariously to her skin and she peeled the drenched fabric away, slowly. Releasing the clasp, she allowed it to fall from her hand and float away downstream.
Luke was becoming restless and she admonished him silently, Stay.
Stepping down into the clear lake, she swam away from him, teasing him with the view but also looking for a suitable spot for what she had in mind next. She found it, a smooth, moss-covered rock just below the surface of the water.
Luke's voice interrupted her, growing impatient, Mara…
Join me, love, she answered, turning just in time to see him shed his pants and boots to dive in head-first.
For someone raised in a desert, he was an exceptionally good swimmer and caught her in a strong embrace before she could get away. Their bodies met under the water as their lips met above, devouring each other with renewed hunger.
"Tell me, Jedi," Luke said in his not-quite-Master voice between kisses. "How long can you hold your breath?"
Before she could answer, she felt him draw on the Force, inhaling to fill his lungs completely. She followed suit, using the Jedi technique for oxygen conservation, and closed her eyes as he pulled her completely underwater.
Luke hooked one leg around an underwater branch, anchoring them both, before guiding her legs around his waist to keep her from floating back to the surface. The water magnified his eyes and they sparkled brilliantly blue beneath the dark blond hair waving around his face.
Her own hair floated around them and she started to twist it into a braid, but Luke stopped her and it spread out like a halo around her head. He caressed it, allowing the locks to float through his fingers which moved then to her cheek, her neck, her shoulders. His touch lingered briefly over her soft mounds before moving lower, sliding down her belly to the even softer folds below.
Burning energy began to build in her gut as her lover prolonged and intensified his ministrations. She struggled reluctantly in his arms, knowing that she would surely choke if he brought her to fruition under water.
He held her a moment longer, then unhooked his leg and launched them to the surface at the moment of her release. She screamed as soon as her head broke through the water, convulsing and crying out in uninhibited bliss. Waves of pleasure washed over her and subsided gently, like the ripples in the lake.
Resting her head on Luke's shoulder, she guided him to the low, moss-covered rock she'd found earlier. He rubbed her back lightly, murmuring tender affections in her ear and pulled her onto his lap.
Slowly, she lowered herself onto his waiting manhood and he moaned, sharing the sensations as she had done, and she lost herself in his pleasure. Water splashed between them at the point of their union, lapping and tickling their sexes as they rocked their hips together.
His mouth was pressed against her neck when he reached completion and he shouted her name against her flushed skin. She rode him to completion, slowing only when he relaxed, and they collapsed together, panting against each other.
Moonlight was flickering on the water when they settled in front of the camp fire, wrapped in a blanket. Leaning together, they made use of the rare, private time to catch up. Luke talked about the Academy; Mara explained what was happening with Karrde's group.
Eventually, their surroundings led them to more private topics. Mara told him about learning to swim as a child, off the beaches of Brentaal at the Emperor's private retreat. Luke described the first time he'd ever seen green trees at the Rebel Base on Yavin, all those years ago, with the first Death Star engaged in menacing orbit.
The flames of the camp fire were flickering low when they lapsed into comfortable silence, embracing each other with affection that did not need words.
"We should sleep," Mara whispered against his shoulder.
Luke pulled her closer. "I'll sleep in my X-wing. I don't want to waste a single minute with you. But we still have a date in two weeks, right?"
Mara looked up at him, admiring the shadow of stubble that had formed on his jaw. "It won't always be like this. Shada is catching on quick and Talon is going to hire more people. Soon, I'll be around so much you won't know what to do with me. Think you can handle living with an 'insufferable grouch'?"
"I believe I can," Luke answered, pulling her even closer. "For the rest of my life."