Mara Jade stood in the doorway of the dimly lit cantina with her hands planted firmly on her hips. Taking a quick survey around the room she immediately found the object of her 'search and rescue' mission and headed in his direction.

"Skywalker!" she bellowed, walking up to the slumped figure whose head was resting on the table. Only then did she realize he was not alone.

"Trader Jade, what a sight for sore eyes you are!" announced Wes Janson as he turned to face her along with a few of the other members of Wraith Squadron.

Mara snorted in disgust. "Janson—I might've known you and the rest of your pirates were responsible for Luke's descent into inebriation and debauchery."

"Pirates! I wonder if it's anyone I know…" said Face Loran, taking another gulp from his glass. "Bartender! More Wroonian Ale!"

"ALE!" shouted the entire cantina, raising their glasses in salute.

"Now that's hardly fair, Miss Jade. We made be ineb—ineb—drunk, but we have barely had time to introduce Luke here to any debauchery," said Wes, grabbing a handful of blond hair and lifting the Jedi's head. "Isn't that right, Luke?"

Luke slowly opened two bleary eyes and looked up at Mara for the first time. "Mara? W-When did you get back in town?"

Mara crossed her arms and stepped away as his alcohol laden breath reached her olfactory system. "Skywalker, do you have any idea what time it is?"

Luke looked around, a quizzical expression on his face. "I haven't exactly had the chance to look out a window lately. But I'm s-shure I've only been here a couple hours…or so."

"Try days, Skywalker," answered Mara with a hint of disapproval in her tone.

Face immediately jumped in. "Nah, it can't be days, Kell's still standing." Everyone immediately looked around only to see Kell Tainer passed out on the floor near their table. "Well—it could be days."

Mara grabbed Luke by the shoulders and attempted to remove him from the chair. "Come on, farmboy. It's time to get you home and away from these bad influences."

"Hey," protested Wes. "I resemble that remark."

"And it's not our fault!" insisted Face, pointing his finger in Mara's face. "You're the one who put the whammy on the poor boy."

Mara turned to face the only two squad members still capable of remaining vertical. "Please explain to me the scientific nature of the "whammy."

Both pilots looked at each other a moment.

"It's what you women do to poor unsuspecting boys like Luke here," said Face gesturing toward the semi-conscious Jedi with his empty glass. "Toying with their hearts, getting them all mixed up till they don't know what's going on anymore. The only thing they can do is attempt to numb the pain with a glass of libation."

"Libation?" asked Wes.

"Ale," replied Face.

"ALE!!" roared the cantina customers in unison once again.

"I have had enough of this, come on Skywalker, I'm getting you out of here," huffed Mara as she hoisted Luke up and flung his arm over her shoulder while putting her free arm around his waist. "And for the record gentlemen, and I use that designation loosely, I do not toy with his or anyone else's heart."

"And just where are you taking him?" asked Wes, his eyebrows raised.

"Skywalker and I are going for a little stroll," she grunted trying to carry most of Luke's weight on her hip.

Face smiled. "Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas."

"Shut up, Loran," snapped Mara.

Luke raised his head looking around. "Hey guys—what's going on?"

"I'm getting you out of here, Skywalker," said Mara struggling as she helped Luke toward the door.

"Hey Luke!" shouted Wes. "Don't underestimate a woman."

Face nodded. "They can be tricksters, too."

A voice from the floor added, "Numbing the pain for a while will make it feel worse when you finally feel it."

Face and Wes looked down at the prone figure on the floor.

"Kell, you're conscious!" marveled Wes, helping him to his feet.

"Bartender!" shouted Face. "Ale for everyone!"

"ALE!"

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Mara leaned up against her speeder as she attempted to get Luke into the vehicle. "I don't know what's going on, Skywalker, but hanging out with those reprobates and getting tanked is not the answer."

"Sheemed like a good idea at the time," he answered falling into the passenger side seat.

Mara got into the driver's side and started up the engine. Fastening his safety restraint she looked closely at the semi-sleeping man. He was filthy. Just what had those scoundrels gotten Luke into? She ran a hand through his scruffy blond hair trying to get it out of his eyes. Reaching into the forward container, she removed a handkerchief and began to wipe his face.

"Stop it," moaned Luke trying to move away.

"Luke, you've got—dirt all over your face."

He turned away from her until she could no longer reach him. "Don't touch my dirt!"

Unable to keep from smiling, she put the kerchief on the seat and pulled out of the parking area. "Okay, have it your way."

Luke smiled drowsily and settled into the seat. "You called me Luke."

"Yeah, well don't get used to it," she mumbled. "Why I stick my neck out to help…Luke? Come on…wake up."

Snoring softly with a small smile on his face, Luke had fallen over until he was sleeping soundly against Mara's side.

Finally pulling into the apartment complex, she turned the speeder off and pushed Luke up to a semi-sitting position. "Oh, Luke…what am I going to do with you?" Taking in his innocently handsome visage, she realized that she did have feelings for him that would probably go beyond the category of friendship. Running a finger along his jaw she smiled. Yes, he is a fine looking man, but did she want the kind of life that went with having a romantic relationship with him?

Cursing softly she exited the vehicle and crossed to the passenger's side. "Come on, Luke. Up and at 'em." She hefted him up against her hip again and slowly they made their way up to his building. Entering the turbolift she leaned him against the wall as she entered his code.

By the time they reached his floor, he was all but dead weight in her arms. "I could use a little help here, farmboy." But Luke remained unaware of the world around him. Struggling, but making progress they entered his apartment and made it to the bedroom.

With a huge burst of energy she turned Luke in her arms and fell completely backwards onto the bed…with Luke on top of her.

"S-Skywalker—wake up," she grunted.

"Hmmm…." he groaned, but didn't move.

"Luke, you're squashing the breath out of me," Mara squeaked.

She tried pushing him—nothing.

She tried poking him—nothing.

She tried tickling him—nothing.

Then she got an idea. Raising her head, she slowly began to blow into his ear. With his eyes still closed he turned to face her and meshed his lips to hers, applying gentle pressure. Teasing her bottom lip with his tongue she felt her lips open and begin to respond to his caresses. Mara gasped as she sampled his sweetness and felt him deepen the kiss.

Luke moaned with pleasure and then opened his eyes. "Mara?"

"Yes?" she asked innocently.

"When did you get back in town?"

She smiled. "Last night—uh, Luke…would you mind getting off of me?"

Still dazed, he rolled off of Mara and sat up… "Owwww…my head."

"Serves you right for going out with those friends of yours and drinking yourself into oblivion," said Mara, sitting up as well.

He lay back down and grabbed a pillow, placing it over his face. "mhp wid mi gwt whuh?"

Mara snatched the pillow, removing it from his face. "What?"

"How did I get here and how did you find me?"

"Leia called me this afternoon. She hadn't heard from you in two days and was worried about you. Really, Luke you've got to stay away from those guys."

Luke sighed looking like a lost bantha pup. "I was lonely."

"Lonely? For Sith's sake, Luke, you've got an academy full of students to keep you busy."

He frowned and rolled over onto his side away from Mara. "Not that kind of lonely," Luke whispered, sounding suspiciously like he was pouting.

Mara took a deep breath and let it out in exasperation. "Stang, Skywalker! Any girl in the galaxy would he happy to be with you. All you have to do is pick one."

Luke remained silent.

"Stop sulking like a wounded bantha cub. You are NOT going to make me feel guilty. Sometimes I have to be gone for long periods of time. It's my job. That doesn't mean we still can't be friends…."

Still no response.

"…or anything else… you may be…. thinking about." She paused letting the impact of what she was saying roll around that fuzzy brain of his. "Is that what this is about Luke? You want something more than friendship between us?"

Again no response.

Mara reached over and ran a hand down his well muscled back. "I heard what those degenerates said about you missing me and—well, I missed you, too, Luke. I-I think that we should pursue a relationship that is of a romantic nature. Don't you agree?"

Silence.

"Luke? Did—did you hear what I said?" Mara stood up and walked to the other side of the large bed only to discover that he was completely and utterly—fast asleep!

Luke awoke to the sound of his chrono announcing that morning had arrived. Waving a hand, he sent it flying across the room and into the far wall where it crashed to its final resting place on the floor. Disoriented and wondering how a mynock had crawled into his mouth and died, he opened one eye to discover he was not alone.

Opening the other eye Luke slowly lifted his arm, which was draped across the person lying next to him, and scurried out of bed.

He sighed with relief to see that at least he was fully clothed.

Creeping around to the other side of the bed where his 'bedmate' lay sleeping, Luke carefully lifted the sheet that covered the mystery person only to discover… three pillows laying end to end with a note attached.

Dear Luke,

The next time you get to feeling 'lonely' take a deep calming Jedi breath and count to ten.

The next time you feel the need to drink yourself into a comatose-like stupor, let Leia know where you are going to be so that I won't have to sully myself going from cantina to cantina looking for your sorry carcass.

And the next time you kiss me, you had better be completely sober and prepared to finish what you started.

Yours truly,

Mara

More than a little puzzled, Luke stared at the pillows in confusion and then back at the note. Taking a deep breath and scratching his chin he murmured out loud, "When did Mara get back in town?"

end