Title: Raining Reverie
Characters: Mara Jade, Luke mentioned
Timeframe: LOTF AU, if Luke had died in Sacrifice instead.
Luke had loved the rain.
Even after decades since his childhood on Tatooine, and decades since his last visit, rain was still a small miracle.
For the longest time Mara had not understood. How could such a farmboy, obsession with precipitation and all, become such a revered Jedi Master? And as her encounters with Skywalker increased, the question grew to how could such a Jedi Master have been such a farmboy? And as she loved him, she realized he had always been both.
Tiny droplets of liquid began to pool on her rough palms and splattered on Mara's hair from the roof. Each drop of water landed softly on the earthy ground below, creating a low hum that filled the otherwise silent wood. Even the leaves on the trees seemed to muffle the sound this afternoon, though usually served to amplify the patter. It was an overcast, grey day on Yavin. Such was the pattern in recent days. Mara smiled, conceding slowly that Skywalker must have been right in his fascination with rain. She often wondered if the Force could control the weather. If so, it was a true reflection of her mood.
It took months following Luke's death before she left the familiarity of Coruscant. There she could lie low and under the radar, seemingly safe from the eye of the public amongst the bustle of the city, while still surrounded by Luke's friends and family, and others she had come to know in her 60 years of living. Coruscant had been her home before she met Luke, in the days of the Empire. In the same token however, she never truly felt at home until she met Luke, at least not in her heart. And when she did, home did not seem to matter as long as she was with him. Without her husband, what became of their apartment on Coruscant could no longer be considered home. Another vessel for nostalgia, another empty residence.
It did not take much thought to realize she couldn't stay on Coruscant much longer. Too many people, too many faces, too many memories. There were times when all she wanted to do was forget, not have to relive memories over and over, and just fade into blissful oblivion. However those moments didn't last long and the memories were always fresh cuts. Even her days as the Emperor hadn't prepared her for this sort of numb emptiness.
Beyond Coruscant, where was left to go? The possibilities were endless, though Yavin seemed the next best option, and so she went. In their early days together, Luke would have been surprised to see Mara go so eagerly to sedate Yavin. But, as she was so constantly reminded, everything had changed.
The rain continued to gather in her hands, and now trickled through her parted fingers like small streams. Vaguely aware of her surroundings amidst her quiet reminiscing, Mara turned her hands over to let the remaining liquid spill out. The sky rumbled in the distance, an upcoming thunderstorm on the rise. She looked up to the darkening horizon, thoughts now pulled out of the rut.
In the distance she could just barely make out the light of several lightsabers swinging and parrying amongst the underbrush. Their glow illuminated the shadows of the forest just barely, and she watched in interest. Reaching out with the Force, as she did so rarely these days, she sought the duelers' presences. It was Jaina Solo and Kyp Durron. Mara barely recalled an earlier conversation with them concerning fighting techniques from earlier that day. Or had it been yesterday they mentioned it?
Interesting, she mused, noticing Jaina's purple blade attacking on the offense. Maybe later she would challenge Jaina to a spar, to test her skills. Kyp was skilled in the ways of the Force and lightsaber tactics, but in trickery and fine detail he was not so skilled—Jaina could use some good competition in that area. Not to mention Mara's own skills most likely needed work.
Too long had it been since she last felt her fingertips on the cool metal hilt of her weapon in the heat of combat. Months since she felt the adrenaline of battle, the bated breath of exertion, the heat of a flighsuit pressed skintight against her body, heard the clashing of her own saber against another…
Her hand subconsciously fell to the weapon at her side, a lifelong habit hard to break. Jedi version of a nervous tick she could never break. Then again, she had broken many of her own habits lately. She no longer downed two cups of caf before greeting the day, nor did she choose to rise promptly at the break of dawn. Many meals she ate in isolation, and meditation was a rare occurrence.
Mara shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. It was so easy to let her mind wander…
The lightsaber felt natural in her hand, and she unclipped it from her belt. Fingers tightened around its base, and a mirage of memories flashed before here eyes unwarranted.
Two blades, emerald green and crystal blue, clashed together as their opponents with eyes of opposite hues stared at one on another. All thoughts of the forest surrounding them vanished leaving them with nothing but each other and The Force. A small quirk at the edge of his mouth Mara knew to be the beginning of the smile smoothed, replaced by challenging calm. Mara smothered a smile of her own, lunging forward to bring their blades together in fiery tandem once again…
With a small jolt she drifted back to reality, surprised to find her breath slightly uneven. The vividness caused her to clutch the railing in slight desperation. These random visions, these memories came frequently in her solitude, shocking in their intensity. In fact, if she closed her eyes she could still see that small smirk tugging at the edge of Luke's mouth as if it was yesterday…
Much to her disgust, a small lump developed in her throat. It had been over a year. Wasn't it time to… move on?
Leia and Han had each other, Ben had his friends and cousin Jaina. Luke's Rogue buddies had each other and their wives. Mara had no one. No one at all. Trusting someone was the most dangerous feat as Palpatine had so often reminded her. There lies the danger in having one confidant, one person to share your soul with. When one half is gone, what happens to the rest? Mara thought she was stronger than this. Much stronger.
Only with Luke.
"Shavit," she swore quietly to herself, wandering back inside to make an instinctive pot of caf. This is what happens when you do nothing but reminisce in your free time, she thought to herself, plugging in the machine methodically. Only with Luke, she repeated in her mind. I used to be the girl that Palpatine sent out on near suicidal assassination missions when I barely hit puberty, and spent years alone shipping spice. I'm not this weak.
But even Mara couldn't deceive herself for long. She returned to the balcony where she watched the duelers' battle and the rainfall gently on the trees minutes earlier. A soft, rueful sigh escaped her cracking lips. This existence was tedious, robotic, even lifeless. When was the last time she had simply lived without second thought or regrets? Not a day went by that she didn't consider other possibilities—the what-ifs.
What if it had been her to run out in the middle of the night, leaving behind nothing but a piece of flimsy as a clue. What if it hadn't been Luke to face Jacen on his own and fall prey to his one greatest weakness—his compassion. What if it had been her, Mara jade?
Her thoughts turned to her late husband. What would Luke have done, had he been the one to survive. Put in her shoes this exact position, exact situation? Probably tell himself to move on, continue with the Jedi Order, and raise Ben as a Jedi Knight. He had overcome the death of his father and mother he never knew, both his guardians, and countless others in his years as the galaxy's savior. Mara's death would devastate for sure, but he would grow stronger. Become a powerful Grand Jedi Master, and lead the galaxy out of civil war and back into its glory days… so many great things. Luke had been great even before Mara.
Or would he be in the exact same situation as her now. Sipping caf, staring out into the horizon agonizing over what-ifs. Longing for nothing but his love's touch… There were many days that Mara envied Luke in his passing into the abyss of death, even wished him to take her place as the lone survivor.
No, she scolded herself, taking another agonizing sip of caf. iHow could you wish such a fate on Skywalker? How could you even dare to put him in your place.
"No more than I wish it on you, my love." A voice.
Breath caught in her throat as the realization settled over Mara. Swallowing against the lump and blinking away tears she turned around backwards toward her apartment, ready to see the face of her beloved farmboy once again, blue and shimmering—
And was met by nothing. She was alone.
Unable to fight back the inevitable, she sank to the floor. Caf spilled out from the mug as it slipped from her hand unnoticed, cracking on the freshly varnished wood. i Luke/i she cried out silently. The tears began to fall unabated from her emerald eyes. She swiped angrily at them, though she was powerless to stop them. What she would give to see his face, be united once more with Luke. Vision blurred, and she wiped even more agitatedly at her cheeks, feeling more alone than she ever had in the past years of living.
In the next moment that followed, a peculiar sensation overcame her. A feather-light touch passed briefly over her arm, so familiar and tender in itself that she couldn't help but freeze in wonder.A chill took over her body, though not unsettling, and her lips tingled as though in the aftermath of a wonderful kiss. A wonderfully light feeling descended upon her, mixed with uncertain sluggishness. Darkness began to overcome her body, and she stretched out with the Force for any sort of sign or warning, and was met once again by nothing.
Am I dreaming?
In the last fatal moments of consciousness, Mara felt her very presence being drawn further and further away into the ethereal space of the Force. Raindrops dripped from the roof, tickling her frigid skin. A black film passed over her vision, and all was silent.
A familiar sight met her eyes, and she was home.
"Just another usual death for a Jedi I suppose," a gruff voice noted. Its owner, a burly police officer scanned the apartment half-heartedly and jotted down a few notes onto a sheet of flimsy. Nothing much to see here, just a few robes and personal items scattered about.
"Another one of those vanishing cases?" a second man asked, picking up a boot with two fingers warily.
"Pretty common among aging Masters, second one this month."
"Pity." The second man also wrote down a few nonchalant notes onto a pad.
"More like freakishly unnatural. Makes it harder to put a definite cause on the death, though everyone knows what it really is."
"What if it was really something different? Wouldn't we all just assume it was another Jedi Force-thing?"
"Enough chatter," a third man, their chief, approached the pair. "Listen, I've got Leia Organa Solo pacing outside the apartment door talking a parsec a minute and she won't stop until she's let in to see the room. And I can't let her in here until we've finalized the reports. Do I make myself clear?"
The two humanoids glanced at the front door, and then handed over their assessment documents reluctantly.
"Everything is normal then?" Chief asked, glancing at the papers.
"Well, there is one thing." He paused, eyes shifting.
The third man raised an eyebrow. "… And what would that be?"
"There were two sets of boot prints on the rug."