Title: Nothing Wrong With a Little Tease

Author: kayladie

Rating: PG

Summary: When a boy pulls your pigtails, what is he really trying to say?

A/N: Written for a challenge at the Force dot net. Had to use the line "Take off your clothes." from the movie The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

A/N 2: I reject your profic reality and substitute my own AU.

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and I am not making any money off this work.

"Relax your minds. Feel the Force flowing between your bodies and the world around you."

Luke Skywalker's voice was low and soothing, attempting to guide his young students' efforts to meditate without interrupting the rhythm of their thoughts. Luke welcomed the opportunity to work with the younger pupils at his Academy. It was so gratifying to be able to witness their first grasps at understanding and touching the Force.

"While we are meditating, we keep our hands to ourselves. Aron," Luke said, allowing his voice to become more stern. He peeked one eye open to see a young boy jerk his hand away from the hair of the girl beside him; hair which he had been about to pull.

"Sorry, Master Skywalker," Aron mumbled.

"You should be," hissed Tela, who had been the aim of Aron's sneak attack.

Luke sighed as he opened his eyes and watched his students do the same. The mood had been broken for the moment, and it would be no use trying to get them back in the correct mind frame now.

"Tela, be aware of your anger, please," Luke murmured softly.

Now, Tela was the one apologizing. "Sorry, Master Skywalker."

"Why don't all of you go find Jedi Tionne and let her finish the lesson on healing plants?"

There was some grumbling among the younglings, the phrase 'dead boring' being muttered by more than one of them, but they did as their teacher had asked and went off to find Tionne.

Luke stood and stretched. It was definitely a bit harder on the bones to sit for a long time than it had been when he was training with Master Yoda on Dagobah. He sighed as he realized exactly how long ago that was now. Stang, he was getting old.

"Nice control over your students there, Master Jedi," a smirking voice came from the doorway.

Luke turned to see Mara Jade leaning against the wall, giving him a teasing look. She looked amazing as always, clad in her usual black, with a tan jacket. Her long hair was in one long braid down her back. He let his gaze linger for just a moment before he turned away, hoping she hadn't noticed.

"Yeah, well, even the Force sometimes can't overcome adolescent hormones. Aron has had a crush on Tela for a while now, but she won't give him a second look," Luke said with a grin.

"Oh, she's looking, but she's waiting for him to stop being so childish about it. Pulling braids, for star's sake? They're thirteen, not six. He should try a nice vibroblade instead," Mara scoffed.

"You think he should stab her?" Luke asked in horror. Surely even Mara wasn't that bloodthirsty.

"No, you idiot! He should give her one as a gift! She collects blades," Mara said.

"How do you know that?" Luke asked in confusion.

Mara had been here for a few weeks now, training with Luke in the Jedi arts, but he didn't think she associated with the other students that often, seeing as she was older than most of them.

"I've talked with her a few times. She kind of reminds me of myself at that age," she said with a shrug.

As always, Luke was fascinated by this tiny glimpse into Mara's past. He had tried not to be intrusive, but at the same time, he simply wanted to know everything there was to know about her. Sometimes he thought that Mara might return his interest, but every time he considered speaking up about his feelings for her, she somehow sensed it and pulled away. It was extremely frustrating.

"So you were already training by the time you were her age?" he asked casually. He was careful not to meet her gaze, as he didn't want to scare her off. She had sought him out this time, after all. Perhaps the moment had finally come.

"I was sent on my first mission when I was only a little older than her, Skywalker," Mara said wryly. "I'd been training for years by that point."

"You were so young," Luke said, mourning silently for a little girl that had never had the chance for a normal childhood. Certainly Luke himself had had to grow up fast, but at least his abrupt entrance into adulthood hadn't happened until he was eighteen.

"I was never that young," she said.

He gathered his courage and looked at her. "Mara, I was wondering-"

"Master Skywalker! Master Skywalker!"

One of the students came running into the room, breathlessly shouting his name. Luke tried not to curse out loud.

"Yes, Joren? What is it that has you so excited?"

"I told Aron and Tela not to go in there, but they did anyway, Master Skywalker! And I just want you to know that this is not my fault, because I told them not to and they did anyway!" Joren said, then gasped as he had to take a breath.

Luke felt a tingle of alarm over his senses as he tried to calm Joren down.

"Just tell me what happened, Joren. Where are Tela and Aron?"

"We were going to look for Jedi Tionne, like you said, and Aron and Tela were arguing the whole way. She was blaming him for messing up the meditation exercise and said it was all his fault we were going to have to look at stupid boring plants now. Aron got mad and said Tela was just afraid of going into the jungle and that's why she didn't want to do the lesson on healing plants. Of course, Tela didn't take that well, and she called him a few really bad names, which I don't want to repeat, Master Skywalker, cause they're really not very nice," Joren said earnestly.

"That's all right. You don't have to. Where are Tela and Aron now?" Luke repeated his earlier question, that aura of danger that he was feeling growing stronger by the second. He bent down to get on Joren's level, placing his hands on the boy's shoulders. "You can tell me, Joren," he said, when the child hesitated.

"They were daring each other to go into the Sibylline Temple," Joren whispered, cringing as he spoke.

Luke sucked in a sharp breath as he straightened, one hand coming up to rub his suddenly aching eyes. While the Jedi had made some progress at taming the wilds of Yavin IV, it was still very much a dangerous planet. The students had been warned numerous times not to go near any of the unoccupied temples. Luke had hoped the lessons learned from the incident with Exar Kun would have lingered a bit longer.

"All right, I'll go and retrieve them. Mara, if you could notify Kam-"

"Don't be ridiculous, Skywalker. I'm going with you, of course," Mara said as she reached down to pick up the satchel that was by her feet, rummaging through it and pulling out her lightsaber. "I was going to ask if you wanted to spar, but we can do this instead. Should be a good workout," she said as she smirked at him.

Luke stared at her for a moment, and realized that she was probably right. Force knew, he'd probably need help, and he had a feeling they needed to get to Tela and Aron as quickly as possible.

"Fine. Joren, you go notify Master Kam and let him know we might need assistance."

He and Mara headed swiftly in the direction of the Sibylline Temple. It was one of the closer ones to the temple the Jedi Academy had commandeered so at least they were able to get to it relatively quickly. Hopefully, Kam and some of the other instructors would be close behind them.

The temple was overgrown with vegetation, but still managed to somehow project an air of menace. Luke hoped that the students hadn't been able to get too far inside. He and Mara exchanged a quick glance and headed into the entrance. They ignited their lightsabers in the same instant, each feeling the oppressive sense of dark energy permeating the temple walls. Making their way carefully down the stone hallways, they listened and searched in the Force for any sign of the wayward students.

Even as he acknowledged the danger that the children, and possibly he and Mara as well, were in, Luke couldn't help but be pleased that Mara was with him. Not only for the fact that he might possibly (okay, really most certainly was) in love with her, Luke knew that there was no one better he could have by his side in a dangerous situation.

"Did you hear that?" Mara whispered, as she came to a stop beside him.

Luke paused, stilling his physical and mental movements, straining to hear whatever Mara had. A muffled cry came clearly floating down the tunnel.

"Not too far ahead," he murmured and grimly, they both started forward again.

Luke wasn't sure what he had been expecting. He had learned the hard way never to assume or take anything for granted. The tunnel opened into a large circular room. He could see the two students clinging together on the other side of the room. Between them and their rescuers was the biggest spider Luke had ever seen. He thought it might rival the Rancor in bulk.

The arachnid blocked the students' escape route, but they had managed to wedge themselves in between a pile of rubble and the wall. The spider couldn't reach them, but not for lack of trying. Its gigantic body was quivering with rage as it clacked its jaws and jabbed at the trapped children with its forelegs.

Luke motioned to Mara to go one way, while he indicated that he would go the other way. She looked like she wanted to argue with him, so Luke did something that he'd never attempted before; or at least something he'd never consciously attempted before. He reached out with the Force and sent Mara a message over the bond they'd formed back on Wayland. It had always been there, in the back of both their minds, but they never talked about it.

*You get the kids out while I distract it,* he sent.

*That's a stupid plan. We need to kill it before it kills them,* she sent back.

Even as he disagreed with her immediate disparagement of his plan, Luke secretly thrilled that she had accepted his presence in her mind so readily.

*Getting the children out safely is more important, and we're wasting time arguing.*

*I'm not arguing. I'm agreeing that we need to get the kids to safety, and the way to do that is to kill this thing, now!* she insisted.

*I'm not sure if we can kill it, but either way, we have to get Tela and Aron out of here,* he sent.

*Of course we can kill it. It's just going to take the two of us working together to do it. C'mon, Luke, you know I'm right,* she sent.

He could sense her confidence and her conviction. Luke didn't want to waste any more time. *Fine, you win,* he sent and then sent her an image of what he wanted to do. Thankfully, she nodded and didn't argue with him, and they went to work.

Mara darted one way around the spider and attacked one of the back legs. Startled and in pain, the creature whirled around. As it did so, Luke leaped into the air and landed nimbly on its back. The spider immediately reared up, trying to throw off its attacker. Mara took the opportunity to slice at another leg, and the spider twisted again, confused at the pain coming from both sides. Before it could buck again, Luke took his lightsaber and jammed it blade down into the creature's brain.

The spider squealed, a horrifying noise that made Luke wince, but he knew at this point that it was best to try and put the insect out of its misery as soon as possible. He twisted the lightsaber, trying to end it quickly. The spider's body collapsed, all eight legs folding under it as it shuddered in its death throes. In one last act of defiance, the spider spit out a spray of venom as it died, directly at Mara.

"Mara!" Luke cried out, both aloud and in the Force. He deactivated his saber and leapt down to where she was. Luckily, she'd turned away and the venom had missed her face, but it was all over her clothes. She lifted her head and looked at him, and he sighed in relief that she seemed to be all right. He was about to check on Tela and Aron when he noticed that her jacket was smoking.

"Mara, take off your clothes! That venom is burning right through them!" he shouted.

Mara jerked around and pulled the jacket off, tossing it away. She paused and looked down. Luke figured she was hoping that would be all that was going to have to come off, but her trousers and tunic were starting to smolder as well. With a cry of frustration, Mara stripped all the way down to her underwear. She ran her hands over her bare skin, and though it looked a little red with irritation, it seemed that the venom hadn't gotten all the way through her clothes.

Luke tried not to stare, he really did, but stars! She was absolutely the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Mara looked up then from checking herself over, and caught Luke checking her out. One eyebrow raised in sardonic amusement, but she didn't try to cover herself. Luke blushed and looked away.

Right then, Kam and a couple of other instructors came rushing into the room. It was chaos for a few minutes, but eventually, explanations of what had happened came out. Tela and Aron were suitably chastised for being reckless; Kam lent his outer robe to Mara so she could cover up; meanwhile, everyone else marveled at the dead spider.

The crowd began moving towards the exit, as Kam discussed the possibilities of punishment for the students, while they groaned in protest. Mara and Luke lingered and walked more slowly behind the group.

"So…" Mara said. "You were pretty quick to order me to get undressed, Farmboy. Wishful thinking?"

Luke cursed inwardly as he felt himself blushing again. "I just didn't want you to get hurt."

"I see," she said softly.

Was it his imagination or did she sound a little disappointed?

"Still…it was a very nice show you put on. Can't say I didn't appreciate it."

She didn't say anything, but he could see her grin. What the hell, he thought. Might as well go for it , Skywalker.

He reached over and gave her braid a sharp tug.

"Ow! What was that for?"

Luke shrugged and said, "I don't have a vibroblade handy."

She stared at him, dumbfounded, for a moment before he saw realization come over her face. To his relief, she smiled brightly at him. As they continued out of the temple, Mara reached over and took his hand in hers.

"That'll be all right for now, I suppose. But just know that you owe me a vibroblade and I intend to collect," she said.

As they walked into the bright sunlight of Yavin, they were both laughing.

The End