Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (And Matchmakers Are From Hell):

Chapter One: The Ground is Laid (in More Ways Than One)

"I swear," Mirax said, "It makes me tired just to watch them. I want to slap them both upside the head."

"I know just what you mean," Iella said, nodding. Wedge, who was sitting beside her, rolled his eyes.

"What is this, a sabacc game, or gossip central?" Corran said, throwing down his cards in disgust.

"We're talking about Luke and Mara." Mirax said, coldly.

"I know who you're talking about! I just object to you talking about them when we're supposed to be playing sabacc!"

Mirax ignored him. "Last time I saw them, it was the same old thing," she said to Iella. "They're talking, getting along fine, Luke was even flirting a bit. Just when I think everything's going good and he's going to make a definite pass, Mara gets out her claws and rakes them across his ego. So, of course, he immediately backs off. And, get this, she gets *angry* at him for that! I mean, what in the galaxy does she expect?"

Iella said, absently dealing a card, "I've seen this exact same scenario more times than I care to mention."

"Maybe, just maybe, she's not interested! Did *that* ever occur to you?" Corran said, exasperated.

"She's interested all right," Mirax said. "When they're together in one room, you can cut the sexual tension with a lightsaber, if you'll excuse the pun. Last time I thought the room was going to implode. Or the curtains were going to start to smoulder."

Iella laughed. "Do you think they're really in love? Or just madly hormonal?"

"Even if it's just the second, something should be done about it. It would do them both a world of good to ease those old hormones a bit. I can't understand why they don't get on with it."

"Maybe the damn audience is inhibiting them," Corran snapped.

Mirax cast him A Look, at which he subsided. "I think they need a little help," she said.

"Mirax," said Corran, "I absolutely forbid you to get involved."

"Did somebody say something?" Mirax asked mildly. "I must've gone deaf all of a sudden."

"I said," Corran repeated, "I don't want you to get involved."

Mirax gave him a considering look. "What do you know--my deafness has just got worse."

"Surprise, surprise," Iella said. "So what do you suggest?"

"I'm thinking about it," Mirax said.

"It's obvious that Luke needs to get tougher with her," Corran said.

"Tougher!" Mirax exclaimed. "Corran, you're an idiot! Can't you see she's scared as it is?"

"Scared!" Corran said. "She'd look a rancor in the eye and never blink!"

Mirax threw down her cards. "I give up," she said to Iella. "Want to help me in the kitchen a minute? We'll make some caf." She ignored Corran's throwing of his sabacc cards into the air.

Staring at their retreating backs, Corran called out, "Mirax, don't make any caf for us. Wedge and I are going out for a beer." He quickly steered Wedge out of the apartment before Mirax could reply.

Mirax shook her head. "Men!" she exclaimed. "They can't see what's going on in front of their eyes."

"And when they can, they don't know what to do about it," Iella said.

"Too true," Mirax said.

"So what do you think is the problem with Luke and Mara?" Iella asked.

Mirax sighed. "I'm not sure, but I think with a little encouragement, Luke would be fine. The problem is, Mara won't give him any. In fact, as soon as he gets anywhere close, she retreats. And in spite of what Corran says, it isn't because she isn't interested."

Iella nodded. "She's scared about something."

"Well, that's my guess. I like her, and she's friendly enough to me, but I don't try to talk about anything intimate with her. She clams up immediately. What about you?"

"Same here."

Mirax sighed. "When you consider her upbringing, no family life, and little human contact except for the most evil man in the galaxy-well, who knows what's biting her?"

"You know," Iella said. "I once tried to work up a background check to figure her out. But I came up empty. There's nothing."

"Oh, c'mon, Iella!" Mirax credit. "We're *women.* We don't need information! We can go on instinct and be closer to the truth than Corran and company would get in years."

Iella smiled. "And do you include your father in the 'company'?"

"You got a rule," Mirax said ruefully, "And my father is the exception to it."

Iella smiled again. "Wedge'd say yea to that."

"Even Corran would," Mirax admitted. "They'd mean different things by it, though."

Iella was shaken by doubt. "Maybe we shouldn't interfere," she said.

Mirax was inflexible. "Not on your tintype," she snapped. "They're getting together, and that's that. And you and I are going to help. I swear."

And so the ground was laid, in an attempt to extend this happy state to two lonely Jedi-types.