‘Sabre Dawn’ - chapter five (back to chapter one)

by Angela Jade

Rated - NC-17

e-mail - angela@yavin4.free-online.co.uk - constructive criticism always appreciated. Flames laughed at.

Feel free to post wherever, as long as it’s got this spiel at the top.

Disclaimer - it all belongs to Lucas. I’m making no money from this.

Story - continues the sequel to my other fanfic, ‘A Vision of Missing Moments’.  We're going to the Dagobah system...

April 2001
 
 
 

Chapter 5 - Dagobah
 

The journey from Bespin to the mist-covered planet of Dagobah proved to be relatively short and uneventful, and that was all to the good as far as Mara was concerned. Normally she loved the relative tranquility and isolation of hyperspace, but this trip had proved to be anything but relaxing.

She knew that she was being argumentative. At least disagreeing with Luke’s Jedi philosophy could be seen as vaguely educational, their heated debates somewhat constructive. But finding fault with what he cooked, how he did the maintenance chores around the ship, even his choice of clothes... His hurt expression made her cringe inside, yet she couldn’t stop. Barely noticeable barriers had started to reconstruct in her mind, and they hadn’t made love since they’d left Cloud City.

Since they’d left Callista.

It wasn’t any kind of jealousy that aroused Mara’s aggressive tendencies. Yes, her husband had once lived with the woman, slept with her and proclaimed his love for her. But the Luke she remembered from that period of time was unrecognizable as the man she knew now. No longer obsessed with saving the galaxy from every wannabe overlord and reestablishing the Jedi Order at all costs, he was now self-confident yet still aware that he was only a man. A man in love with her.

And that was the crux of the matter.

Luke’s love for her was boundless, all-encompassing, passionate... And terrifying. He loved her more than any other being in the galaxy. He would kill or be killed for her, would do anything to protect her from harm, and that scared Mara witless. Would he turn to the dark side if to do so would save her life? Would he become another Vader or Emperor, dooming the galaxy to war and oppression because of her?

Deep inside her, an even more appalling thought was brooding. Callista’s reappearance had revealed the magnitude of Mara’s love for her husband. She glanced at him as he sat in the co-pilot’s chair, his head bowed over the instrument panel. Would she be the one that turned?

“On ten,” intoned Mara, her voice emotionless as she watched the hyperspace counter. It hit zero and she pushed the main lever forwards, bring the ‘Jade Sabre’ back to sublight speeds. “Welcome to the Dagobah system.” She flicked a switch that brought up the ship’s powerful scanners and leaned over to peer at the data she was picking up from the planet surface directly ahead. “Looking at these readings, you are welcome to it. Remind me why we’re visiting this dive?”

Luke gazed out the forward viewscreen at the familiar planet he somehow felt drawn to, even after all these years. “Don’t believe the sensors. Use the Force to land, or we’ll never get out of there again.” He smiled as he turned to face her once more. “And we’re here so that we can continue your training.”

She grimaced in reply. “And so that you can go on one huge nostalgia trip, Skywalker.”

“Yes. That, too.” He nodded happily. “If you’re very lucky, I might even make you some of Yoda’s stew.”

A derisive snort met that comment. “No thanks - you told me the recipe, remember? I’ve already packed the ration bars.”

Rolling his eyes, he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Just land the ship, Mara.”

“At once, Master,” she replied sarcastically. “Anywhere in particular? And you’d better pick somewhere solid, or you’re cleaning up the hull.”

“Solid ground? You’ll be lucky.” He closed his eyes and stretched out with the Force, searching for any trace of Master Yoda’s lingering presence. For a long moment there was nothing, and then... “Link your mind with mine,” he said.

Mara immersed herself in their bond, struggling to follow his line of concentration. It felt as if she was battling her way through high winds, doing her utmost to keep going in the same direction - something was seriously trying to thwart any efforts at Force-searching the planet’s surface. Then it slowly came into focus, like a half-dead glow rod shining in the mists.

“You see it?” Luke whispered.

//Yes// she replied in his mind, already powering the ship towards the spot he had indicated, her eyes closed, her hand relaxed on the flight stick.

Tentatively opening his eyes, Luke watched her as she took the ‘Jade Sabre’ down through the turbulent atmosphere, glancing only occasionally at the instrument panel as gauges and displays went into a frenzy of nonsensical activity. Mara’s eyes remained closed in concentration, although he noticed her grip on the control stick tightened as the planetary winds buffeted them about. Down and down they went, clouds and thick, white mists blinding them completely, until tree branches and vines started whipping at the viewport. Mara kicked in the repulsors, grunting slightly as she fought the forces tugging at her ship. Finally the ship landed with a none-too-gentle bump and Mara wiped the sweat from her forehead before she opened her eyes.

“Sith, what in all the hells was that?” she asked, shaking her head incredulously.

“That, my love, was a damn good landing,” replied Luke, grinning as he undid his restraints and checked the instrument panel. “You’ve even managed to hit land. Very impressive.”

Mara still looked concerned. “That wasn’t just gravity and atmospheric conditions, Skywalker. I’ve landed on more planets, moons and asteroids than you’ve had hot dinners, and I have never seen anything like this.” The whine of the repulsors died as she shut the engine off and her voice echoed slightly in the resulting silence. “What’s going on?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” replied Luke with a shrug. “I know there was a huge battle near here, between Master Yoda and a powerful Sith Lord, and it left a lot of residual effects.” He stood and motioned for her to follow him out of the cockpit. “I also know that Yoda spent many years shielding this place with the Force. I have no idea if that affected the planet long-term.”

“Something certainly doesn’t want anyone to land,” muttered Mara as she followed him to the exit hatch.

Luke couldn’t stop a grin lighting up his face as his hand hovered over the ramp-release. “Welcome to Dagobah!” He hit the switch with a flourish.

Mara stood motionless for a full thirty seconds before her eyes widened and she clamped a hand over her mouth and nose. “What’s that awful smell?! Close the hatch! Now!”

“That,” replied Luke, trying not to sound hurt, “is Dagobah.”

Tentatively, Mara removed her hand from her face and took a careful sniff, her nose wrinkling in disgust. “Does it always smell this bad?”

“Mostly,” he replied with a wry grin. “You’ll get used to it.”

“Gods, I hope not.” Holding on to the frame of the hatch with one hand, Mara took a step on to the ramp. “Okay, Master-mine, what’s first on the agenda?”

Luke stepped up behind her and slipped his hand into hers. “First, I want to find Yoda’s hut. Just to pay my respects.”

She tightened her fingers around his as she felt his sadness over their bond. “Will it still be there, Luke? I thought you told me it had all but disintegrated the last time you were here.”

“I know where it was,” he said, heaving a sigh. “I guess that’ll have to do.” He turned to go back up the ramp. “Let’s get the gear.”

Mara didn’t move one centimeter. “What ‘gear’?”

Luke could feel her icy gaze without even looking at her. “Umm, the camping gear. I thought we might camp out...” His voice trailed off when he finally saw the look in her eyes.

“I’m not camping in a swamp, Skywalker. Not when I have a perfectly comfortable ship to sleep in.”

Squaring his shoulders, Luke met her steely gaze. “As part of your training I say it’s necessary...”

“Give me one good, logical reason for spending the night in a muddy shelter rather than in our own bunk,” snapped Mara.

“As the teacher in this relationship, I don’t actually need to give you a reason,” bit back Luke.

“As the wife in this ‘relationship’, I say you do.” Mara took a step closer. “And don’t try to pull rank on me, Skywalker. We’ve had this discussion before.”

“Mara,” he replied quietly, “I don’t want to fight. Not here.”

Her teeth clenched against the aggression she could feel bubbling up inside herself, Mara forced her body to relax. Finally she reached out with a shaky hand and caressed his cheek. “I love you, Luke Skywalker. And I respect you, both as a person and as a Jedi. But you are not always right, and I will not follow you blindly with no reason...”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her closer, slipping his arms round her waist. “And I wouldn’t have you any other way, my love.” He let out a sigh of defeat. “Okay, we’ll sleep onboard tonight. I guess it’s not that important, anyway.”

“What’s not that important? You still haven’t given me your reasons for wanting to park your butt in the mud overnight.”

He shrugged, tightening his arms around her. “This place is so ... alive. It’s like one big stewpot full of animals, insects, birds, plants ... the Force isn’t any more powerful on one planet than on any other, but here it’s like it’s easier to access.” He grinned as he looked at her, losing himself in her eyes. “Living among nature, sleeping surrounded by nature, helps a being to become more a part of nature.”

Mara smiled sweetly, her eyes twinkling. “Bantha crap. You just want to regress to your boyhood and get completely filthy, don’t you.” She kissed his cheek then pulled him down off the boarding ramp. “Come on, Skywalker, you can play later. Let’s go find Master Yoda’s hut.”

“I AM a Jedi Master, you know.”

“Yes, dear, I know you are.”

“But you never do what I say!”

“I do, when I think you’re right. Now quit whining and let’s make a move. It’ll be dark soon...”

*****

“This is it.”

“Are you sure?” Mara eyed the surrounding vegetation dubiously - they’d come across some of the local wildlife on their journey from the ‘Jade Sabre’ and she was in no hurry to acquaint herself with any more.

“Yes, I’m sure,” replied Luke, tugging on an innocuous-looking creeper with gloved hands. It finally gave way, revealing a low wall, stained green by the plant. “The window was here, and Master Yoda’s bed was ... over there.”

Mara looked to where he was pointing - it appeared no different from any other spot in the vicinity. “If you say so.”

“I do say so.” He straightened and moved to stand beside her. “I lived here for months - I think the layout is imprinted on my brain.” He carefully entwined his fingers with hers, holding her hand tightly. “I’d like to meditate for a while, Mara. Will you join me?”

A smile twitched at her lips as she regarded him. “Very well, since you ask so nicely.” She watched as he settled himself on the mossy ‘floor’, then sat cross-legged opposite him. A thought suddenly occurred to her. “Are you hoping that Master Yoda will appear to you?”

Luke shrugged and wrinkled his nose. “I live in eternal hope of that happening,” he said, “but if I’m totally honest, I know it’s not going to. I think he’s been gone too long.”

Lifting one leg, Mara grimaced and pulled out a sharp twig. “So we’re doing this right now because...”

“You said it yourself, Mara. Nostalgia trip.”

Rolling her eyes, she took a couple of deep breaths before straightening her back and closing her eyes. Slowly, she relaxed and sank down towards the quiet place inside herself that she accessed when meditating. The Force surrounded her, diffusing throughout her body and mind, filling her with its power and its knowledge, and, reluctantly, Mara admitted to herself that there was indeed something special about Dagobah...
 

A highly polished floor, intricate tiling in the style of Old Imperial Center. A vision? Mara frowned and lifted her head - her eyes were immediately drawn to huge windows which framed what appeared to be the Coruscant skyline.

“Come at last, you have.”

She realized that she was down on one knee, and quickly swiveled to face the being who spoke. Twelve large chairs with identical red cushions were positioned around the room, but only one was occupied. The being was of a species Mara didn’t recognize - large eyes, even larger ears, green, wrinkled skin,... Green? “Master Yoda?” she whispered.

The diminutive Jedi pursed his lips before hopping off his chair and hobbling towards her, his walking stick tapping out a slow rhythm on the tiled floor. “You expected another? Maybe Obi-Wan. Hmmm?”

He stopped directly in front of her, and Mara suppressed a shiver as his eyes bored into her. She could tell he wasn’t reading her mind, yet it still felt like he knew everything about her, just from that one glance.

“So,” he said at last, “you are the one the Emperor named Jade.”

Her breath caught in her throat and it seemed as if her heart had stopped beating altogether. “He ... he gave me my name?”

“Your last name, he did. First name, your parents gave you.” Stepping a little closer, he gently prodded her knee with what Mara now recognized as a gimer stick. “Your origins, your heritage, Palpatine would keep hidden.”

Wiping her sweaty palms on the legs of her flightsuit, Mara struggled to keep her voice steady. “Do you know who my parents were?”

“Important to you, is it? The identity of your parents?” His gaze seemed to intensify, his ears lowering. “Be sure, you must, that you want to know. The discovery of one’s origins, a great burden can it be.”

Mara’s eyes never left his, drawing comfort from the intelligence she saw there. Yes, she had often thought about her biological parents, wondered if they were good people, or even if they were still alive. She had vague recollections of a mother figure, a petite woman with dark hair and startling blue eyes - yet she couldn’t remember a voice or a name, or anyone that could be her father. Occasionally, she had searched the NR and the old Imperial archives for information, always in vain.

More recently, especially since her marriage, she had come to terms with never finding out who her parents were. She was Mara Jade, she had been brought up in the Imperial Court and she was now a Jedi Knight. Nothing she could discover about her ancestry could change the person she had become. Did she really want to find out the truth now, when she was still coming to terms with all the other changes in her life? Her heart said yes, but logically...

“No, I don’t think I’m ready for that information yet,” she whispered. “Maybe some day, but not now.”

Yoda pursed his lips again and nodded once. “A wise decision. The past is of consequence, but mindful of the present you should be. And of the future.” Turning away from her, he hobbled back to his chair.  “Besides, that is not why I sent for you.”

Mara stood and followed him, eventually sinking to the floor in front of him as he settled himself in his seat. Somehow she knew she couldn’t sit in any of the other chairs - each one seemed to radiate its own kind of pain. “I don’t remember being sent for.”

“Obvious, that much is. For fifteen years I have been calling you. Took your time, you did. Hmmm?”

“I never heard you,” she said softly.

Yoda blew out an irritated sigh. “Thought it would not work. If another Jedi you had known, a Jedi who had passed on, sent them, I could have.”

“The only Jedi I knew then was Vader.”

“And I could not send Anakin,” said Yoda with a shake of his head. “Still, here you are.”

“Yes.” She looked up at him, unable to contain her smile. “I’m on my honeymoon. I married Luke.”

Small, wrinkled lips curved upwards and Mara would swear his eyes twinkled. “That much, I knew. Pre-ordained, it was.”

“Since when?”

Two eyes blinked solemnly at her. “A date you want, hmm?”

“No, I...” She hung her head, still smiling. “I just wondered. It took us a long time to come to terms with it ourselves.” The gentle tap of a gimer stick on her shoulder made her raise her face once more.

“For a long time, sense you, I could not. Many had been killed, wiped out in Palpatine’s holocaust. Obi-Wan and I, we pinned all our hopes on the son of Skywalker. He was our only hope.”

Mara strained to hear his muted voice, shivering as the truth of his words struck home. “And you were right,” she whispered. “He defeated the Emperor and brought Vader ... brought Anakin back into the light.”

“Yes. That he did.” Wriggling slightly in his chair, Yoda pulled his robes tighter around himself. “When first he trained with me, learned fast, he did. Strong was Luke, powerful in the Force. Like his father. But also impetuous. He saw a vision of his friends in danger and left. To save them, he thought.”

“He told me,” said Mara quietly. “He realizes now that he was wrong, that he should have stayed.”

Yoda nodded slowly, then leaned forward conspiratorially. “The night before he left, a vision I had. Of you.”

“Me?”

“At Palpatine’s side, you were. Walking, talking. Sense the power of the Force in you, I could. It was then that I knew. Luke was no longer our only hope. There was another.”

Swallowing hard, Mara could not break the hypnotic gaze that held her in its thrall. “Then you placed too much hope on me. I couldn’t have defeated the Emperor. He was my master. My liege.” She hung her head. “I would have done anything for him. I certainly wasn’t strong enough to break from his control.”

“Hard to see, the future is. Even harder, possible pasts.”

The gimer stick gently touched under Mara’s chin and tilted her head up until she was looking into Yoda’s eyes once more.

“You are of the light, Mara Jade. Do not forget, do not lose faith. The Force will be with you. Always.” Large eyes blinked slowly. “The path you walk with your husband will not be easy. Difficult times, dangerous beings, will you meet. You must trust him, just as he trusts you. Train. Dedicate yourself to that which you fought for so long.” Letting out a sigh, Yoda leaned back in his chair. “Future of the galaxy may well depend on it.”

Her eyes narrowed as her breath caught in her throat. “Is this a warning? Is that why I’m here?”

“No. Here you are that I may meet the woman who will continue the line of Luke Skywalker.”

Mara almost choked as his words sank into her brain. “Children? Are you saying we’re going to have children?”

“Perhaps.” He giggled as he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. “And now, go you must. Trust in Luke. Trust in yourself.”

“I will, Master Yoda...” A quiet darkness enfolded her in its gentle arms...
 

I love you, Mara.

She blinked and inhaled sharply, wrinkling her nose as the stench of Dagobah assaulted her senses once more. Luke’s smiling face swam into her field of vision.

“You were out for ages, my love. It’s not like you to meditate for longer than me,” he said with a smirk.

“I ... umm...” She shook her head lightly, trying to clear her mind of the lingering vision. Finally she grinned. “I love you, too.”

Hunkering down in front of her, Luke ran a grimy finger along her jawline. “Are you okay?”

“I had a vision, I think,” she replied quietly. “Yoda came to me.”

“He came to you?” Luke struggled but couldn’t quite hide the disappointment in his voice.

Mara was immediately aware of the sadness clouding his blue eyes. “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it.”

“No. Talk.” Luke swallowed the hurt and smiled encouragingly. “Tell me what happened.”

“Not a lot, to be honest,” replied Mara, reaching out a hand for him to pull her upright. “Apparently we were destined to be together.”

“Destiny, huh? Figures.”

Elbowing him gently in the ribs, Mara continued. “I think he gave me some kind of warning. Said we have to trust in each other. That I have to continue my training and dedicate myself to the Jedi.”

“Good. I’m glad we agree.”

“I thought you’d like that bit,” she said quietly. “Oh, and it was the Emperor that named me ‘Jade’.”

“What?! I thought Mara Jade was your real name.”

“It is,” she replied, glaring at him. “My parents named me Mara, and Jade is the only surname I’ve ever known. I am me. You know that.”

Concern enveloped his soul. “Did he mention your parents?”

“No.” Tugging his arm gently, she pulled him back towards the encroaching jungle. “I’m starving. Let’s get back to the ship and I’ll tell you all about it over dinner.”

*****

Something wasn’t quite right - something was ... missing. Luke slowly opened his eyes, his hand brushing over his naked, cold chest. Cold - that was it. He’d fallen asleep with his wife in his arms, and now she wasn’t there. Pushing himself up on his elbows, he stretched out with the Force and quickly located her... “Outside?”

Frowning, he slipped out of their bed, quickly pulling on his rough-spun brown Jedi robe. Something in Mara’s mood had changed since her vision of Yoda. The hostility and antagonism she’d shown since Bespin were still there - Luke had decided early on to ignore it and let her work it out herself. But now her belligerence was being overshadowed by her distress. And much as Luke was grateful that she had stopped arguing with him at every turn, he hated seeing her upset.

The exit ramp hissed down slowly at his touch on the control and Luke peered into the darkness beyond. The Sabre’s landing lights projected an eerie glow over the surrounding area, including the hooded figure facing away from him at the edge of the clearing. “Mara?”

“I’m okay, Luke,” she replied without turning around. Her Jedi robe was almost identical to his, the cowl pulled over her face. “I just couldn’t sleep.”

Taking a hesitant step forwards, he tried to sense her mood. “You should have woken me. I’m sure I could have found a way of tiring you out.”

He could feel her spirits lift even as she shook her head and leaned forward on the enormous fallen tree that lay in front of her. “Do you ever think of anything apart from sex, Skywalker?”

“I didn’t mention sex once, Jade,” countered Luke as he took several careful steps towards her. “That’s just your filthy imagination at work again.”

“Maybe.” She let out a huge sigh, loud enough to be heard even over the noise of the surrounding jungle. “You were right, Luke.”

“I was? About what?”

“This planet. The whole environment. I just feel so ... alive.”

She shifted her weight from one leg to the other, the movement of her hips stirring feelings in Luke that he was desperately trying to suppress. Maybe he did think about sex too often. But his wife was always so ... distracting.

“And you were right about something else,” Mara added.

He stood directly behind her, gently laying one hand on the small of her back. “What was that?”

“The smell. You do get used to it.”

He smiled in the half-light and started rubbing small, soothing circles on her back. “Why are you out here, Mara? Come back to bed.”

“It’s like you said, Luke. Getting close to nature. Living, dying...” She threw him a glance over her shoulder and a sharp emotion over their bond, “...mating.”

Sucking in a deep breath, his hand drifted towards her rear. “If that’s what was bothering you, you could have just woken me. You didn’t need to drag me out here.”

“I didn’t feel like this until I left the ship,” she whispered, smiling as his hands began to caress her thighs. “I came outside for some air, before I remembered what the air was like out here. And I wanted to think.”

His hands drifted lower, outlining her legs through the rough fabric as his own arousal continued to make its presence felt. “And are you done with thinking for a while?”

“For a while, yes.” Her voice had become husky as her throat constricted and her breathing shallowed. “In fact, I’d really rather stop thinking now, and just feel.”

“That can be arranged.” Slowly, gently, he began to lift her robe, deliberately caressing her legs as he did so. As his hands slipped over her buttocks, bunching the coarse material on her back, she let out a gentle groan and grabbed the stump of a branch in front of her. Luke could feel his own arousal increasing as he uncovered more and more of his wife, her skin smooth and cool to his touch. Leaning down, he pressed a row of kisses along her spine, his hands slipping round her to caress her breasts. Her scent filled his nose, her sighs filled his ears, and the whole galaxy shrank down to just the two of them; everything else was peripheral.

//Don’t do that.// she silently admonished him. //Expand your feelings. Sense everything.//

Her thoughts and emotions whispered clear and true in his head, and he nuzzled her back as he deliberately stretched out again with his mind.

//You see?//

He gasped. //Yes!// With startling clarity, he could sense every creature, every insect, every plant ... even the planet itself as it turned slowly about its axis. He immersed himself in the essence of life, of blood pumping, molten rock flowing, hearts beating, sap rising... His hand slipped between her legs and stroked her folds, pleasuring her and preparing her for their inevitable joining. And it was inevitable. They were both in the thrall of the power of existence, reveling in life for its own sake.

She shuddered as he entered her from behind, a single powerful thrust as he gripped her thighs to hold her steady. “Yes! Oh, gods, yes!” she growled, her hair spilling out of her hood as she dropped her head forward onto her arms.

His thrusts fell into step with a tempo only he could hear, Mara’s moans of pleasure playing a counterpoint to his own. The sound of his pulse pounded in his ears as he closed his eyes and lost himself in the rhythm of life.

She rarely let him make love to her like this; she preferred to see his face, to lose herself in his eyes and to accept passionate kisses as she drank in the scent of his body... but this time, it seemed right. Every nuance of his movement was obvious to her, from his breath on her back to his feet gently toeing her legs further apart. The firmness of his grip as he held her thighs. The heat of his body every time it came into contact with hers. And the wonderful, glorious feeling of his manhood inside her, stretching her, stroking her, compelling her towards a zenith of sensation. He moaned her name, low and animalistic. Her orgasm exploded inside her.

They sank onto the mossy ground, tired and sated, yet somehow revived. Words of love were whispered in between gentle kisses.

“Oh, Luke, I’m so sorry,” whispered Mara, tears finally allowing her the emotional release she’d been needing for days. “Sometimes I don’t know why you put up with me.”

A serene smile on his face, Luke tenderly pulled a muddy lock of hair from Mara’s cheek and placed it behind her ear. “I love you, Mara. I love you more than anything...”

“Don’t.” She pressed a shaky finger against his lips as she tried to contain her anguish. “Don’t say that.” Her finger slowly followed the outline of his lips before her eyes met his. “Promise me one thing, Luke.”

“Anything.”

“Promise me that you will never turn to the dark side. Never. Even if it means my death.”

He pulled her into his arms, more than one tear trickling down his face and vanishing into her hair. “Is that what’s been bothering you? Mara, I will never, ever turn to the dark side, no matter what.” He loosened his grip so he could gaze into her eyes. “And neither will you. Not with me by your side.”

“Do you promise?”

“I already have. Don’t you remember?” He cupped her face in his hands. “I promise I shall always be faithful, loyal, honorable and true, and when times are dark, I will stay with you in the light. This is my vow as a Jedi.”

Mara sniffed, grinning as she recognized the words. “Our wedding vows?”

“Of course,” replied Luke quietly.

Mara’s hands reached up to caress his face as she repeated the words burned into her heart. “I promise to remain faithful, honorable, loyal and true, and when times are dark, I shall stay with you in the light. This is my vow as a Jedi.”

“See? That wasn’t so hard.” Slipping his arms around her back, he kissed her, gently at first and then more fiercely as she returned the kiss.

“I love you, Mara Jade Skywalker,” he whispered against her lips. “I love you so much that it hurts.”

“I know,” she whispered back. “And it frightens me. But I’m not going to run away from it any more.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“And, Luke, I don’t know if I’ll make much of a wife, I mean, it’s not like I’ve got any good role-models...”

“I don’t want ‘a wife’, Mara,” he said with a grin. “I want you.” He swept a finger over her cheek, smudging the tracks left by her tears. “Come on, my love. I think we need to shower.”

“Tomorrow,” replied Mara, stifling a yawn with the back of her hand. “Right now I just want to sleep.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Luke, pulling them both upright. “Let’s go back to bed.” He smiled at her lack of protest when he swept her into his arms and started carrying her back to the ‘Jade Sabre’. He paused when he reached the ramp, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. What are you thanking me for?”

“Persuading me not to camp out in that muck. There are much better ways of becoming attuned to nature.”

Mara rolled her eyes and pressed her face into his neck as he carried her onboard. “Skywalker, you are incorrigible.”

*****

To be continued (eventually)...

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