Setting: About a year after Timothy Zahn's Hand of Thrawn Duology and during the comic Union.

Shada made her way down the main corridor of the Wild Karrde and knocked on Karrde's office door.

"Come in," he called.

"We're an hour out of Juvex," she told him as she stepped through the door. Karrde motioned to the seat across from his desk and Shada sat down.

"I just had a very interesting call from Mara," he told her, his expression unusually thoughtful.

"Oh. How is she?"

"A bit overwhelmed by the drama surrounding the wedding."

"I can imagine. So what was the interesting part?"

"It seems Mara wants me to act as father of the bride."

Shada's lips twitched, fighting back a smile.

"No comment about my age, please," he said, a smile toying at his own lips.

"Of course not," she said in a mockingly innocent tone. But she knew the truth was that Karrde was just barely old enough to be Mara's father and that was if he had been a particularly precocious youth.

Karrde leaned back in his chair. "I admit it's a role I never envisioned for myself."

That she could well imagine. Talon Karrde was dedicated to his organization above everything else. She had never heard any indication that Karrde had ever seriously been involved with anyone. In fact, she'd never heard of even a dalliance mentioned. The general opinion among the other smuggler groups seemed to be that he was rather a cold fish. During her time with his organization, Shada learned that wasn't entirely true, but he certainly wasn't the type to leave his bastards scattered across the spacelanes the way some smugglers did.

"I'm sure you'll be an excellent father of the bride. Very distinguished," she teased.

"No mocking the captain," he said feigning sternness. As much as he may protest the father part, she knew he was extremely touched that Mara had asked.

"I wouldn't dream of it," she grinned. "C'mon, let's go deal with Juvex control."

The Wild Karrde arrived on Coruscant several weeks before the wedding. Rather than cargo, the ship was filled with members of the organization that had known Mara Jade well and were attending her wedding. Shada couldn't help thinking that the wedding guests were going to be a fascinating cross section of beings.

As always when they came to Coruscant, Karrde took rooms at The Republican Hotel, formerly The Imperial Hotel. It was situated near the Imperial Palace and was very convenient when they had business with New Republic officials.

She and Karrde shared their normal suite and the rest of the crew had rooms on the same floor. Shada inspected the suite while he dealt with the valet droid. Karrde's room was in order and secure, so she checked out her own next. As always, there was a lovely arrangement of flowers on the dresser and a selection of her favorite bath salts in the refresher along with one of the largest bath tubs she'd ever seen. She couldn't wait to utilize it.

Shada pulled herself away from the tub and joined Karrde out in the living room, settling onto the couch. "Everything is secure," she told him.

"Good." Karrde went over to the sideboard and poured them both a Savareen brandy. He handed a glass to her and sat down into one of the large armchairs stretching his long legs out on the ottoman. "Would you like to go out to dinner or order in?"

"Order in, I think. Our first appointment is rather early."

"With the High Council?"

"No, General Cracken. The High Council is after lunch."

"Oh, good. At least the whole day won't be ruined by dealing with that Bothan."

"I hate politicians," Shada growled in frustration as they left one of their more difficult meetings that included Borsk Fey'la.

"Yes, outlaws are so much more honest. But, my dear Shada, you were the one who wanted to be legitimate," Karrde pointed out with a smirk.

"I'm starting to reevaluate my position on that."

Karrde steered her to the exit with a gentle hand at the small of her back, "I think we deserve a drink after that meeting. What do you say?"

"I could probably use more than one."

A short while later, they settled into a small quiet tapcafe where the constant bustle of Coruscant seemed very far away. Karrde unfastened the top of his tunic and shirt and let out a tired sigh. Shada entered their drink order into the table control and then leaned back against the comfortable cushions of the booth.

They sat in silence until the serving droid brought their order, two glasses of Wyvern's.

Karrde held up his glass, "To the trials of respectability."

Shada clinked her glass with his and took a long sip. She reveled in the burn as it slid down her throat. She closed her eyes and felt herself to relax fractionally.

She didn't know what she was looking forward to least, more meetings to discuss the state of the New Republic and Imperial intelligence sharing project or Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker's wedding. Of course, Karrde being the observant man he was had picked up on her apathy toward the wedding. After they had savored their drinks for a few minutes it was the topic he took up. "I suppose as a Mistryl you didn't attend many weddings."

She opened her eyes and met his curious gaze. "No. The Mistryl are forbidden to marry and romantic entanglements are discouraged in general. I did spend a long time with Mazzic's group as well and you know most smugglers aren't exactly the marrying kind."

"No, they're not." Karrde agreed.

Shada stared intently at the whiskey in her glass for a moment then drank the rest down. "I suppose this wedding just reminds me how much my life has changed in the last year. Marriage is an option I never had before or expected to have. It's a strange thing to wrap my head around."

"I see." A mischievous light entered his eyes and he asked, "And do you have an eye on a particular gentleman for this new option?"

Shada gave a short laugh, "Don't be silly, Karrde."

"In that case, would you do me the honor of attending the wedding with me?"

"Of course, what else are 'companions' for?" She elbowed him playfully, "Besides, who else would you go with? Booster?"

"That would certainly give them a something new to gossip about besides you and I, don't you think?" he said grinning her.

She raised an incredulous eyebrow. "If it's all the same to you, when you do no longer need me to masquerade as your companion, please don't leave me for Booster Terrick. I don't know if my self image could handle that."

"Shada, my dear, I can safely say you never need to worry on that count."