Title: Elusive Bliss
Challenge: SJRS Challenge. We are assigned a secret from the postsecret archive and we have to write a story with that particular phrase or secret. Mara and Luke must be major characters in the story. It can be a canon or an AU story.
The secret I have to incorporate into this story is "I will never be this happy ever again."
This is an Alternate Universe Story.
I originally wrote this as a One-Shot, but I thought I would try to write more. So if you read the first chapter before it was over in my Jedi Vignettes.
12 ABY: Jedi Praxeum, Yavin 4
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker walked briskly toward the Jedi Praxeum's shuttle landing zone on Yavin 4. A ship piloted by Mara Jade had requested permission to land and since Mara was not expected to deliver any supplies Luke sincerely hoped she might have returned to continue her training.
He stood just off the duracrete pad and waited for the shuttle to complete it's landing before he walked up to where the boarding ramp would lower. After a few moments he heard the familiar clunk of the ramp release and the whine of hydraulics lowering the entry ramp. He smiled as Mara Jade walked halfway down the ramp but then stopped suddenly.
"Ahh…I forgot how unbearably humid this place is." She frowned and then waved for him to follow her. "Come on in, the shuttle is climate controlled."
He grinned as he walked up the ramp. "Sure." He followed her as she moved back up the ramp. He noticed she still wore her lightsaber—the one he had given to her on Coruscant—on her hip along with a blaster. "This is an unexpected pleasure." He said trying to make small talk. "What brings you here?"
Mara turned and gave him a coy smile…one that in the past would always make his heart flutter, but more recently only filled him with a sense of loss. He wished Mara didn't leave Yavin 4. He enjoyed her company and deep down he had thought she enjoyed being around him…but over the years he began to think he thought wrong.
Mara motioned for him to sit in the copilot seat. "Sit down and we can talk."
He gave her a puzzled look, but did as requested. To his surprise Mara started up the shuttle and lifted off. He looked over to her questioningly. "Have you decided to kidnap me?"
She gave an amused snort. "Hardly, this shuttle is new. It is one of Karrde's more recent acquisitions. I want to see what she can do within a planetary atmosphere." The ship made a vertical climb and as soon as she cleared the treetops of the old growth forest she opened up the throttle. They were skimming over the treetops at high speed with Mara occasionally dipping down a ravine so the trees were actually above the shuttle on both sides. Luke smiled. He didn't get much chance to just fly for fun anymore. The duties of a Jedi Master and head of the Praxeum weighed heavy on his shoulders. That, and dealing with Callista's loss of Force powers kept him preoccupied most of the time.
"The shuttle handles well, but then you were always an outstanding pilot." Luke smiled at her and was rewarded with a small smile in return.
"Thanks." Mara reached into a side pocket and pulled out a datachip. "Here," she said as she handed it to Luke. "Karrde came across some information about a Hutt plot and the Orko SkyMine. He wanted me to pass the information on to you."
Luke took the proffered datachip. "Thank you." He paused for a moment hoping she would have something more to say. He had a distinct feeling that she was holding something back. "We have heavily encrypted communication systems at the Praxeum. Karrde could have transmitted the information." He paused again. "Is there a reason you came in person?"
Mara let out a sigh. "Can't a friend stop by to say hello?" She turned to Luke. "I occasionally enjoy seeing you in person."
Luke was touched by her words. "Thank you. I enjoy seeing you also. I wish you would return…to train."
Mara's smile faded. "That's not going to happen." She turned the shuttle back towards the Praxeum and maneuvered it back for a landing. "I don't work well in a school environment. I learned much more with Kyle than I did here."
Luke nodded. "Your training with Kyle Katarn by way of the Concordance of Fealty, a mutual apprenticeship." He let out breath and then gave Mara an apologetic look. "I wish I could do that. If you asked for a mutual apprenticeship after our return from Wayland it would have been possible. You were my only student." He shook his head. "Now it would only cause friction and discontent among the students."
Mara had succeeded in landing the shuttle on the landing pad. She unbuckled her crash webbing and gave Luke a knowing look. "Not that I really want to apprenticeship under anybody at this time, but would a Concordance of Fealty arrangement between us really cause friction with the Jedi apprentices…or are you simply worried it would upset your girlfriend?"
Luke was taken aback by the question. It sounded like Mara was jealous. "I'm sure Callista would be understanding if we did train together."
Mara gave a caustic laugh. "Luke, you really know very little about women. She wouldn't want me around you."
"Why not?" Luke's brow furrowed but then shot up in realization. "She doesn't know what happened that night on Coruscant…after I gave you my lightsaber."
Mara stood abruptly and moved out of the cockpit. "Nothing happened that night Skywalker!"
He unbuckled his restraints and walked back to the cargo area where Mara stood against a bulkhead. "No, but it almost did." He moved toward Mara and leaned against the same bulkhead. "Mara, I will always remember that night…going to the meeting and then the party afterwards…walking you back to your assigned quarters…and you inviting me to stay for a while."
Mara turned away. "We were drunk…and nothing happened."
"Something did happen Mara," Luke insisted firmly. "We didn't have sex, but we had fun. I think it was the first time either one of us felt lighthearted. You were released from Palpatine's last command and I thought I found a friend…a companion." He paused for a moment, his voice faltering slightly. "As we sat on the couch watching that horrible Luke Skywalker adventure Holo…I remember you getting me laughing harder than I have ever in my life. At that moment a strange thought crossed my mind. I don't know if it was the Force whispering to me or my own thoughts…but at that instant I believed I couldn't be happier…I thought, 'I will never be this happy ever again'. And what is really sad…is I was right."
Mara turned back to him and frowned. "Don't say that. You have your soulmate. I saw how happy you were when we pulled Callista out of that escape pod. You were deliriously happy."
A weak smile crossed Luke's face. "I was also delirious from a festering infection in my leg and a horrible head injury." He looked down at his boots, not wanting to look Mara in the eye. "The happiness faded quickly."
Luke shook his head not knowing if Callista would approve of him discussing their relationship with Mara Jade, but he had to tell somebody…he needed a confidant. "She's not happy here, among the Jedi. She's depressed about losing her Jedi abilities. She's scared because she can only touch the darkside of the Force." He looked up at Mara with sad eyes. "I think she's going to leave me."
Mara ran her hand through her hair looking very uncomfortable. "I'm sorry Luke. If she leaves you she's a fool. If she can't find happiness with you…she won't find it anywhere else in the galaxy."
A slight smile appeared on his lips. "Why do you say that?"
She held his gaze, her green eyes never leaving his baby blues. "Because on that night on Coruscant I also thought, 'I will never be this happy ever again'…and like you, I've been right so far."
She pushed the ramp control button and the exit hissed open. Luke gave her a sad look as he slowly moved down the ramp. He stopped when his boots hit the duracrete landing pad and turned to gaze at his friend. "Do you think we are doomed to be unhappy? Is the Force punishing me for Byss and you for serving Palpatine?"
Mara chewed her bottom lip for a moment, deep in thought. "I do meditate like you taught me. Sometimes in my meditations I see myself laughing and happy and…" she trailed off.
"And what?" Luke asked.
She depressed the button to retract the ramp. Before the ship sealed shut Luke heard her say, "And sometimes I see you...and me."
Luke didn't move for a long moment shocked by her words. It wasn't until the ship began its start up sequence that he moved off the landing zone. He watched as the shuttle rose into the blue sky and streaked off into the upper atmosphere. When he couldn't see the ship anymore his shoulders slumped. Once again the burdens of the galaxy were upon him. He sighed sadly and returned to the Praxeum.