Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, I just can't resist playing. Sorry Mr. Lucas, but it's a fangirl's prerogative!

Here's some AU Karrde/Shada love for you loyal fans. I just adore this ship, I think there's so much potential between these two, it called to me and this was the answer. Supposed to happen sometime after Union, before or right at the start of the YV war.

Please enjoy.


Shada swore.

Another volley of laser fire rocked the ship violently back and forth as it hung in space unable to move; a sitting target. A small convoy of unidentified, hexagon shaped ships zipped past the view-screen of the highly modified Corellian transport cruiser, laser cannons glowing. With hard, dark eyes she glanced down at the computer screen on the flight-desk which was now nothing more than a confused, monochrome flurry of static, before turning swiftly and scanning her eyes over the silent bridge. There was no-one there, not anymore, unless you counted her of course, and the older, bearded man stood hunched over the control panel on the opposite side of the room, his back to her. The other crew members had abandoned them long before, ordered by that very fellow to jump ship when the situation had become utterly hopeless. Of course he had refused to leave his beloved craft, the stubborn ass that he was, and therefore she had too. Old habits die hard.

"Karrde," she snapped suddenly, leaping from her seat and stalking stealthily towards him, her brow creased, "We have to go before we're blasted out of space."

The man was still for a moment, but eventually he looked back at her with a tortured expression; caught between the desire to stay with his ship and knowing that while he was here she would not leave him….he did not want her to die, did not want her death on his shoulders. But his ship, 'The Wild Karrde', was as well loved as his crew members and had been a part of his life for so long it practically was his life. He turned his face from her again.

"Go Shada," he told her, tone contrastingly soft and commanding, "Get out of here."

He did not need to look at her to know that she was undoubtedly standing erect, arms crossed defiantly over her chest and face set in a determined expression. If they were matched in anything it was tenacity.

"I'm not going anywhere," she told him firmly and he could sense her tenseness behind him.

Another explosion sent the floundering ship reeling to the left, but the ex-mercenary did not even stumble. Nothing, not even the imminent threat of death could scare her away. She was, in short, amazing.

"You're not my bodyguard anymore Shada, there's no reason for you to die at my side."
Karrde's hand hovered over his holster, a tradition stemming from years of living though combat situations, even though in this circumstance his hand-held gun would be of no use whatsoever.

There's more reason than you know, Shada thought to herself, her eyes narrowed as she glared hard at his head.

"We've been friends for years now boss," she spat the last word with disdain turning his face into an ugly grimace; he wasn't being much of a leader now was he? Letting himself be blasted to smithereens by some nameless star-fighters, "But if you think I'm just going to bail out on you, then you don't know me at all."

Karrde knew her well enough, he certainly knew her better than she thought he did.
After all information was his business and Shada D'ukal had been a mystery, an irresistible mystery, one that he had desperately wanted to unravel.

But he had never in his cruellest nightmares believed that it would end like this, he had hoped for quite the opposite in fact. The only similarity here and in his dreams was Shada's comfortingly familiar presence.

When he spoke next his voice was softer, all hints of aggravation and bemusement gone,
"I'm sorry Shada," Shada's face softened a millimetre or so at his words, "But if this is fate or the Force what right have I got to change it," he shuffled around, his pale, sky-blue eyes meeting her black ones with a gently, pleading expression, "But I need you to go on, to continue with our struggle for the rest of the galaxy, for the Republic….."

And me, his conscience whispered; there was always a selfish reason.

"I changed my whole organisation for you," there was mild accusation in his velvety voice now, "Don't let me down now."

Shada pointed one lithe finger at him, her pale skin glowing in the dull, emergency lights; it was a finger that looked so beautiful and delicate, yet had been responsible for the deaths of many.

"Don't you dare try and guilt trip me you senile, old drone," she shrieked, her usually calm, deep voice lost in her agitation and fury, "I'll do what I want. There are plenty of others more qualified than me to take over your work."

But I want it to be you, he implored silently inside his head.

"Please," Karrde was almost begging now. Shada had never seen him exhibit such behaviour before and it shocked even her hardened soul, "Before it's too late."

He watched with sorrow as her perfect posture broke and she slumped forward slightly, her eyes on the floor and both hands dipped into the pockets of her red, Nubian leather jacket.

"I'm sorry Karrde..." her cheerless, quiet mumble trailed off into silence, and Karrde felt an ache in his chest. He was being so unfair to her. She did not deserve this, any of it.

In his mind his own voice was a miserable as hers, and more guilt-laden; Not as sorry as I am.

Suddenly the world around him went fuzzy. He blinked his eyes to try and clear the fog that was causing him so much trouble, but it refused to dissipate. The calming, resolute sound of Shada broke through the mist but her words were indistinguishable from one another, just a blurred jumble of syllables.

"Shada…?!" he cried, feeling her fingers press down on a patch of sensitive flesh by his neck, "Sha…" The world went dark.

Karrde died.

Slowly, slowly he became more aware of his surroundings, his heavy limbs began to regain feeling little by little and the blackness gave way to a pale, white light. One hand reached up to rub his head, which he found was pounding agonizingly,

"Hmmmm…" he groaned, "…ummmmmm….ohhhh…my head……"

Somewhere very close by a familiar voice called out, the sound was disconcerting and impatient and it sent tremors of pain through his aching body,

Karrde's fingers traced the known lines of his own face, followed the hairy path of his small beard and moved to feel the hard, worn, pot-holed skin that made up his coat. It was an understatement to say he was merely surprised to find himself alive. He had been certain as the world had vanished from view that they had been gunned down, suffocated or murdered in some other manner…but there he lay, alive and breathing and, by the feel of it, whole.

So, what in Hutt's name had happened?

"Where am I?"

"Escape pod."

As her words met his ears his mind calculated the solution. A strange, illogical sort of anger swirled around him, mixed with exasperation, exhaustion and a trace of relief.
He was alive, but infinitely more importantly so was she.
Yet the rage and pain were strong, feral emotions and they quickly seized his body in a seething, manic and frightening attack.

"Damn you Shada!" He cursed viciously from behind gritted teeth.
He could see her now and his frosty eyes bored into her in a way that was supposed to be intimidating; he should have known better.

Shada gave her usual cold smirk, it was less shrewd than normal and there was a barely recognisable spark of something in her ebony orbs.

"You recovered quickly," she half-teased. It was true though, most people took a few hours of readjustment to get over what the Mistryl called the 'The Sleeper', and they were usually sick. But Talon Karrde was taking it all in his stride.

"You tricked me," he blamed her heartlessly and Shada deflated beneath his rigid gaze, she felt awful for betraying him particularly as Karrde did not give his trust away blindly, though she knew the feeling was absolutely absurd; in the end it had allowed them both to survive, and that was exactly her goal.

She had succeeded.

Whatever he thought.

"I said I was sorry," she snapped back, lifting her shoulders again and meeting his eyes in a front on collision of opinions, "But I couldn't let you do that Karrde, whatever you think of yourself you are too valuable to go like that," she stared at him from across the small, metallic space, making sure they did not touch even though they shared the only cushioned seat in the minute sphere, "The Republic needs you…and your crew needs you…" She moved and fixed her eyes on the star spangled darkness visible through the hand sized porthole, "I need you," she whispered to herself inaudibly.

Karrde scowled, he may not have been a young man anymore but his hearing was second to none, (it had to be when you ran one of the largest smuggling empires in the galaxy, though now their business was (mostly) legitimate), and Shada had definitely just said something under her breath. He thought he had just heard it, but what he thought he had heard and what she had actually said must have been different…it made no sense.

"Pardon? I didn't quite catch that."

"It was nothing," she sighed, if she was worried or shocked that he had been listening, she was doing a great job of hiding it. That was the problem with Shada, you could never be quite sure, her training as a Mistryl Shadow Guard had taught her not only how to kill efficiently, but how to act perfectly as well. Silence fell around them, loud and tight, suffocating them like a funeral shroud in this already coffin-like structure.

Karrde heaved a sigh,
"So we wait. We could just die in this pod you know. I'd have preferred to go down with my ship, far more fitting for the likes of me."

Shada's lips peeled up into a faint grin again, weak but present,
"You need to lighten up Karrde," she instructed him with a mild, strained chuckle, "We won't die."

A few hours later they were again sat in silence, their backs straight and minds oddly alert considering their predicament. There was nothing either of them could do now but be patient.

"Well this is going to be fun," Shada eventually moaned, slipping down on the seat so her back rounded comfortably, her balled fists coming to rest casually in her lap, "Sitting here moping isn't going to make this go any quicker you know," she scolded, her voice becoming more emotional with each uttered word, "Besides I saved your life, you've got no reason to be moping. You would have once been grateful for what I did back there?"

Karrde's reply was equally as tense, yet retained its typical calm and civilised level, he fiddled with the safety catch on his blaster absent-mindedly, before raising his eyes to give her a side-wards glance.

"You betrayed me Shada; I don't expect much from my crew, but obedience is one thing I insist on."

She looked at him with a strange expression that reeked of disappointment and contrition, her eyes stabbed him straight through his soul and her words cut through his flesh and down to the bone like a lightsaber through paper.

"When did you give up the fight Karrde?"

Instantly Talon's whole demeanour changed, beneath his clothes his ropey muscles clenched tight, his eyes blazed and came to rest on Shada with a bitterness that took her breath away. Yet she did not shrink back from him, instead she held his fiery eyes as if transfixed.

"It's got nothing to do with giving up the fight Shada!" he cried, composure forgotten, "And even if it was, can you really blame me? I've spent most of my life fighting to survive, if not for myself then for somebody or something else. And sometimes I feel old, too old for it anymore,"
Shada hid her astonishment. Karrde was not known for emotional outbursts. She had never seen him lose control like this before and it was refreshing. Actually she would have felt privileged to have witnessed his oddly private revelation had she not been so entirely stunned. But how could he even think such things? He was vivacious, intelligent, witty, compassionate…everything a man would wish to be. He continued on, "Sometimes I wonder why it can't just end, why people can't just live in peace. Aren't they fed up of all this killing?! Is it the galaxy that's lost its sanity, or me? Because I'm not sure anymore."

And Shada could not help herself.

Perhaps it was the claustrophobic setting; the impassioned shouts that were still rebounding of the insulated walls or his unusually vulnerable and disordered expression, but whatever the contributing factors were, they made her act in a way she'd only ever fantasised about.

Throwing her whole, light body onto him and straddling his legs in the limited space, she ducked her head down, tangling her fingers deep in the greying, black hair at the base of his skull and pressed her lips forcibly onto his. For a split second Karrde stared ahead with wide eyes, before he too sunk into the embrace, allowing his calloused lips to yield to her softer, sweeter ones.

"It's not you Karrde…" Shada gasped out as their lips clashed together wildly, her fingers slipping the magnetic fastening of his jacket down and pushing the frustratingly restrictive garment from his shoulders, "It's not…Trust me."

"I do Shada…" he replied, barely able to talk through his chapped lips and his hands moved down to linger on the toned waist he had admired from afar on countless occasions, "…..More than you know."

The air of the pod was moist with sweat; the scent of them was mingled unrecognisably in the damp atmosphere and had created a delightful aroma. Shada slid back into her trousers, the last piece of clothing she had retrieved, and finally tugged on her boots. Afterwards she shuffled back over, sitting herself back down on Karrde's bare knees and wrapping one arm around his neck so she could rest her moist forehead against his, breath mingling again.

He opened one eye; the blue was warmer now, almost sleepy looking,

"Dressed already?" he asked with a mischievous, lop-sided smirk on his raw, red, remarkably-wonderful lips.
She could not do anything but kiss him again energetically before answering,

"Do you want to be found like that?"

"Point taken," he concluded seriously while she hopped from her perch and sat herself on the grated floor of the floating craft, handing him some of his clothes as he shimmied into them expertly, watching that he didn't bash his head as he did so. When he was done he sat back on the seat and pulled D'ukal up with him, sitting her back in his lap. He liked her there.

But her face was severe and anxious.

"We keep this quiet; the crew is never to find out," she ordered quietly and he scowled.
Was that a tremble of fear he detected in her voice? And if so what was she frightened of? The crew making fun of her? Of making enemies if they thought he favoured her because they had shared a bed? Or had this meant more to him than her?

He was gentle when he replied, trying to instil some of his calm into her,
"They'll still know. They're not stupid."
He gave a small chuckle as he thought back to the furtive glances he all to often received from his staff when he was talking to Shada or touching her arm in comfort,
"I'm sure they think there's something going on already."

And they've never been nicer, he thought to himself; either they were too scared to say anything; or the respect and love they held for their captain and his lieutenant was more complete than he had ever realised.

Shada thought back to a couple of months ago and the end of a conversation between two of the crew members aboard the 'Starry Ice' that she had caught; at that point she hadn't had a clue on what subject they were discussing. Now it seemed to make perfect sense. She smiled broadly, more broadly than before.

"I thought I heard them betting on something the other day….I think it was us."
She looked up with loving eyes at the man that broken open the hardened, emotionless shell of the ex-Mistryl-assassin, and could not help but wonder with growing dread what would happen next. He had once been her idol, her friend, her captain…but what was he now? Was he her lover? Had they crossed that line? Or had this been something of no consequence; only a brief crime of passion in the midst of a terrible crisis?

"Is this the end then?" She asked, rejection already colouring her question.

"Oh no Sha," he reassured her tenderly, stroking one rough finger down her supple, flawless cheek, tracing her high cheekbone affectionately, "It's just the beginning."

"And no more suicidal tendencies?" She asked light-heartedly, hoping that this would give him something-else to be happy about, something to keep him fighting amidst the horrors, disparity and injustices that were rife in the galaxy.

"I'll try," he answered honestly, lips finding hers after the words had been spoken.

"And so will I," she breathed out as she withdrew from his mouth's embrace.
But he was too quick, engulfing her in another mind-numbing caress.
Part of her wished they would never be found. Floating here for the rest of time, even in these humid, cramped, stifling conditions, no longer seemed such a bad thing.

"I'll be more aware next time," he laughed back, nipping on the silky flesh of her chin playfully, feeling like a man half his age.
He wouldn't be caught out by her sleeper holds next time that was for sure, although he was hoping now there wouldn't be a next time.

Shada laughed, her giggles tinkling like the sounds of Gallinore Rainbow Gems through the capsule.
She grasped the edges of his shirt, the sweat-soaked fabric clinging to his toned physique that was impressive in a man of fifty-something.
I don't even know his age, she thought to herself with a vague, dreamy smile, oh well plenty of time for all that. Who knows when we'll be picked up from this forsaken stretch of space?

She answered him again, before sweeping his lips up in another burning collision of mouths and tongues,
"And so will I."

Let me know what you think, it would be most appreciated as it's my first Karrde/Shada fic.

Also I'm thinking of writing ALOT more Karrde/Shada fics, maybe doing a little series, so if you're interested in reading more, let me know or alert me or something. I'll reply to each one personally.

But most importantly I hope you enjoyed it!!!!!! I REALLY, REALLY do!!!!!!