Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to Disney and is the intellectual property of George Lucas. He created the sandbox. I'm making no money off of this and am simply destroying the sandcastles.

Title: Hand of Fate

Author: Jade_Max

Timeframe: Post "The Last Command" AU

Characters: Luke, Mara - OT characters

Summary: Mara and Luke establish their Force Bond completely by accident during the [slightly altered] events on Wayland while destroying the evil clone Luuke. Struggling with the knowledge and the sudden bond between them, things take a messy turn when the court system - looking for a scapegoat and cause to garner public approval - arrest the former "Hand" on charges ranging from murder to treason... and Luke Skywalker is their star witness.

Notes: Adopted from the Plot Bunny Thread's Plot Bunny Hutch at the TFN boards. Big thank you to Jedi_Lover for a plot bunny that ate at me since I first read it; it was fun to write! This is the story in its entirety [minus the Adult Chapter #21], as it was posted at TFN.

Notes 2: I think this is the second or third ever L/M story I've ever written - and my first long shot - and I admit I was uncomfortable writing both characters. All constructive character [or otherwise] criticism is welcome [in review, or in PM] - thank you in advance!


The Plot Bunny

What if Mara and Luke established their Force Bond [you know the one they experienced in Visions of the Future] at the end of The Las Command? So now Mara knows all of Luke's thoughts and memories and Luke now knows all of Mara's memories and her most guarded secrets.

If it got out that Jedi master Luke Skywalker was now privy to all the secrets of a former Imperial assassin do you think the New Republic leadership would have subpoenaed Luke to testify before a grand jury investigating Mara's crimes as an Imperial Assassin?

What would make this a cool little fanfic is if the EU has the same rules as courts in the USA. Meaning spouses cannot be compelled to testify against one another.

So Luke, in an effort to protect Mara from the courts that are trying railroad her, volunteers to marry her so he would not be compelled to testify. I can just see it now...Romance, Angst and maybe more.


Hand of Fate

Chapter 1

Force Bonded.

To Mara Jade.

Luke Skywalker rubbed his forehead with two fingers, trying to think quietly and receiving nothing but a headache for his troubles. The information screen in front of him, a fragment from the Imperial records about Jedi and their obscure powers, flickered in and out and was no comfort.

Forced Bonded.

How had it happened? How could it have happened? How had they let it happen?

He opened blood-shot eyes to stare at the screen once more, trying to wrap his mind around the concept. According to the records, Force Bonds had been exceedingly rare, even in the Old Republic, and established between two Jedi deliberately. In the notes he'd found, it indicated that Force Bonds took years of mutual trust to build because of their intrusive and all-consuming nature.

As he knew.

They'd arrived at the Emperor's store house of Wayland, entered Mount Tantiss and been confronted by a clone of Luke himself. Luke had fought the clone, but Mara - the woman who'd promised to kill him - had watched his back. He'd stretched out without thinking to allow her access to his resources to help bolster her own defences. She'd taken willingly and completely, unknowingly forging the last link in a Force Bond by her acceptance.

Without that link, they'd likely not have won. She'd helped him clear the buzzing from his mind and to focus beyond it, and he'd boosted her own innate powers to deal with the Jorus C'baoth. Her physical skills had needed no help; he'd simply lent her the discipline to make full use of her Force abilities.

They'd come out of the fight grateful to be alive, their thoughts a mirror of each other and, because of their connection in battle, they'd ignored it. It wasn't until they were back on the Wild Karrde and Mara's inner turmoil from the fight had seeped into his chest as if it were his own, that had Luke realized that something had fundamentally shifted between he and the fiery red-head.

Mara had tried to brush him off, telling him it was nothing and that she was fine, but Luke had cornered her - a reckless and dangerous move he could now admit - in one of the Wild Karrde's main hallways. They'd fought, fiercely, both verbally and physically, and it had only brought home one thing; a connection had been forged between them that allowed them to now read each other's thoughts and feelings.

Memories had popped into Luke's mind of Mara's missions, her actions, deceptions, lies; the blank spot of her past before being taken by Emperor. He'd seen the knowledge of his own past reflected in her eyes. He didn't just know her past though, he knew her. Thoughts, feelings, dreams, fears and desires.

Saying that Mara hadn't been happy was an understatement.

He could feel, even now and with several system between them, the confusion she could no longer hide. Confusion that was laced with resentment and anger because of what had happened between them. Mara's innermost thought now came to him in dreams, sometimes when awake, as she fought the pull of the tie they'd forged. She'd learned to shield some of them, but only as a temporary solution, and Luke had promised to investigate to see what it would take to either remove it or block it.

Yet, even as he was searching, her felt... wrong doing so. The Force had brought them together to face the Thrawn threat, and left them irrevocably linked - according to his reading thus far - and had done so for a reason he didn't yet understand.

Mara's displeasure with his thoughts was evident; she was avoiding him. And had been since her decision to accept the Smuggler Alliance's offer to be a liaison between them and the New Republic. She hadn't returned to Coruscant since and Luke knew it was so she didn't have to deal with him.

Their only conscious contact was, by her design, written. She'd left him a single note saying she expected him to find a way to fix their predicament. Nothing else. No goodbye, no signature, just those words. Knowing how much she valued her independence, and the price she'd paid to achieve it, Luke had ignored his own instincts to deny her and set about doing as she'd asked.

Mara's notes continued to arrive, simple instructions that sometimes held codes or file names she thought might help. She referenced obscure books of data disks, got him access - with Ghent's help - to the Emperor's personal files and recovered data thought by others to be irretrievable. Not that it had helped. The data was corrupted, patchy and missing key phrases.

It had been over a month and he'd gotten no closer to keeping his promise.

"Master Luke?"

Luke didn't look up from his quest. "Yes, Threepio?"

"There's another message for you, sir."

"Is it from Mara?"

"No sir; it's from the Coruscant Defence and Legal Department."

That caught his attention and he swung around to look at Threepio questioningly. "The Legal Department? What did they want?"

"The message says they have some questions about your report from Wayland that wanted to clarify. Shall I route the message to your station?"

"Patch it through."

Threepio disappeared and Luke keys in the sequence, the message flickering to life shortly thereafter.

A small, pudgy fellow dressed in a severe suit that only emphasized his chubbiness looked solemnly into the recording device. "Greetings, Jedi Skywalker. I am Skyes of the Coruscant Defence and Legal Department. Our office has some items they need clarified about your mission report to Wayland and your collaboration with one Mara Jade. Please drop by our office at your earliest convenience; sooner is better."

The image clicked off and Luke leaned back in his chair thoughtfully, the Force urging him to caution. Something had sent alarm bells ringing through his mind and he couldn't imagine what. Mara's touch, though distant, was also concerned. He could tell it was an almost automatic response as the touch changed to one of disgust - with herself. Shaking his head, he pushed out of his chair, focusing instead on the strange message.

Mara's presence faded to the background, as if to give him privacy, though the sensation was still intrusive enough he was completely aware of it. A part of him was uncomfortable knowing that she could read him as easily as he could read her, but another part - the larger part - was relieved he couldn't pretend with her. He could simply be. It was a refreshing change for the man everyone expected to be the "perfect" Jedi.

Luke pushed the thoughts away. His mind was drifting off topic, a sure sign that he needed some sleep. He rose, stretching to get the kinks out of his back, and shut down the console he'd been using. The strange message was still in his thoughts but sleep was more pressing. Until he could think it through with a mind not fogged from too little sleep, it would have to wait and so could Skyes.

Sleep beckoned, like the call of a siren, and this time Luke didn't resist.