“Quarantine”

by Angela Jade

Rated - NC17

e-mail - angela@yavin4.free-online.co.uk - constructive criticism and happy thoughts greatly appreciated ... please don’t flame me.

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

Disclaimer - all these characters belong to Mr. Lucas (all hail) and Mr. Zahn (yay!). I write about them as a form of flattery - please don’t sue. I am not making any money from this.

Okay, so this vicious plot bunny leaped up and grabbed me by the jugular while I was listening to the song “I Drove All Night” (the Cyndi Lauper version, if you must know). Lyrics are after the fic.

Written August 2000
 
 

“Quarantine” - set a few years after the Thrawn trilogy.
 

The Coruscant traffic was moving fast, but not fast enough for Mara Jade. She boosted the thrusters on her speeder and it rocketed into a gap in the lane above. Still not fast enough, but it would do. She swiped at the sweat on her forehead with the back of her hand and glowered at the dashboard. How dare they! She was Mara Jade, ex-Emperor’s Hand, Master Trader, Talon Karrde’s second-in-command... They couldn’t just claim she had Juxemia, then cart her off to a Contagious Diseases Unit for days on end! She was fine, and they knew it - probably some conspiracy to stop her doing her job. Damn the New Republic, damn their medics, and damn Karrde for not getting her out of quarantine when she asked him to!

She goosed the thrusters a little more until she was sitting on the tail of the speeder in front, and dialled down the temperature control another notch. Damn Coruscant! Too many people creating too much heat. Glancing down at the tiny NavComp, she shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Where was she going? Didn’t matter. Away was all that mattered. Away from that damn hospital.
 

All was quiet in the Solo residence; even the children were asleep. Quiet, that is, until the comlink in the master bedroom started beeping loudly. One arm snaked out from under the cover and searched blindly on the table, before grabbing the offending object and pulling it back under. “Solo.”

“It’s Karrde.”

“It’s the middle of the night, Karrde. This better be good,” grumbled Han, flinging the covers off his head with one arm and sinking back into the pillows.

“Mara’s missing.”

“She’s a grown woman, Karrde. She can go where she likes.”

“She has Juxemia, Solo. Caught it on her last run out to the Corporate Sector. I’ve had her under guard in an isolation unit in the Parenis district, but she decided she didn’t care too much for the hospitality.”

“Juxemia? Never heard of it,” said Han. “Anyway, what has all this got to do with me. She’s your employee.”

“She was guarded because one of the symptoms of Juxemia is homicidal tendencies. And we all know who she was intent on killing not that long ago. I figured you’d want to know, rather than me bring in NR security.”

Now Han Solo was awake. Wide awake. “You think she might go after Luke? Does she know he’s on Coruscant?”

“I knew. If she really wanted to find out, I’m sure she could have.” Karrde sighed heavily. “She escaped about four hours ago and stole one of my speeders. I’ve got my people searching, but so far, nothing. I think you should warn Skywalker.”

“Who is it, Han?”

Laying a hand on his wife’s sleepy head, he gently stroked her hair. “Better wake up, honey. I think we have a problem.”
 

According to the chrono on the dashboard, she’d been driving for hours, but to Mara it felt a lot less. Adrenalin was coursing through her veins, pumped by the heart pounding madly in her chest. There was something she wanted to do, something she had to do. Something she had been wanting to do for a long time. Her green eyes stared fixedly out of the front viewscreen; night had descended quickly, as she flew from the light side of the planet into the darkness. He was here. She could sense him. Not long now.
 

“I am not going to wake him, Han.” Leia paced the bedroom in a long, white dressing-gown, stopping occasionally to wave a finger at her husband as he remained seated on the bed. “He landed six hours ago and he looked utterly exhausted. We don’t even know that’s where Mara was heading - she could be anywhere. Luke needs his rest, and I won’t let anyone disturb him...”

“Okay, sweetheart, okay,” interrupted Han. “We won’t wake him. I’ll have a guard posted on his door, and how about we go to this med center and find out what the hell is going on.”

Leia stopped pacing, her shoulders drooping as she relaxed. “A guard? Good idea.” A wry smile crossed her face. “But let’s keep it subtle, shall we.”

“Of course.” Han winked at her. “It’s me.”
 

She’d been driving for more than six hours, but Mara felt like she could easily drive another six. Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary; she had arrived.

Gazing up at the tall, dark apartment building, she adjusted the utility belt round her waist then walked in through the lobby. Checking no-one was there, she sprinted quickly across to the turbolifts, one of which opened as it detected her approach. Quickly, she keyed in his floor number. She knew everything about him; his apartment number, his comm number, the time he landed, the docking bay which stored his X-wing, the meetings he would attend this week ... everything. The computer onboard the speeder was small, but she’d had plenty of time on the journey over to coax as much information as she required from it.

The turbolift stopped abruptly, the built-in inertial compensator counteracting the mass of her body, and the door slid open. She moved silently as she stepped out of the lift and crept along the main corridor. Just as she was about to turn the last corner between herself and her goal, her danger sense tingled a warning. Flattening her body carefully against the wall, she peeped round. A Noghri! They’d put a Noghri on his door.

Swearing silently to herself, Mara inched back the way she had come, stepping soundlessly onto a nearby communal balcony. The thick wire she pulled from her belt ended in a three-pronged hook, and once she judged she had enough length, she threw it upwards. It met its mark first time, with a little nudge from the Force, and she tugged gently to check it was firmly attached to the ledge two stories above. She could see his balcony further along the wall; it was deserted.

Ignoring the Coruscant wind that blew her hair about her face, and the dizzying drop, she swung determinedly across the gap, easily catching the surrounding rail and vaulting over it. A movement caught her eye and she froze, relaxing only when she realised it was a piece of curtain that had escaped the window. She smiled, her green eyes narrowing. Her entry stood unlocked and open; how very convenient.
 

Leia Organa Solo stood in the middle of the isolation unit, her arms folded, her gaze steady on the two medics fidgeting nervously in front of her. “Exactly how contagious is this ... Juxemia?”

The smaller of the two physicians pushed his glasses up his nose and tried to smile. “Umm, it’s only contagious to anyone she comes into close contact with,” he replied. “Anyone meaning any carbon-based lifeforms.”

“But she must come into very close contact,” interrupted the second medic, a tall blonde human female. “We can’t catch it by being in the same room she was kept in.”

Leia nodded her understanding. “I believe one of the symptoms is an irrational desire to kill?”

The first medic momentarily frowned. “In about 40 percent of cases, yes. That’s why sufferers are routinely put under armed guard. But there are other symptoms we must treat.”

“And they are...” prompted Leia.

“Ahh,” said the first medic, “they vary.”

“She’s been here three days. You must know what her symptoms are.” By now Leia was hanging on to the last shreds of her patience.

“Umm, raised temperature and heart rate. Slight tunnel vision. Short- and probably long-term memory loss.” The smaller medic counted off the symptoms on his pudgy fingers.

“And possible nymphomania,” added his compatriot.

Leia turned slowly towards the female, her eyes wide. “Nymphomania? Are you serious?”

The blonde physician shrugged. “The majority of Juxemia sufferers are either homicidal or nymphomaniacal. We have no proof which category, if any, she falls into.”

“I’ve met Mara Jade. I can give you an educated guess.” Her mind instantly spiralled back to the day Mara told Leia she would kill her brother. Would she... Her reverie was interrupted by the reappearance of her husband, Talon Karrde at his side.

“I’m telling you, Han. It wasn’t your fault,” said Karrde. “She’d have escaped somehow.”

Leia’s burning brown eyes met Han Solo’s sheepish grin. “What wasn’t your fault?”

He shrugged. “The guard droid was fitted with a restraining bolt. Guess who showed her how to do it.”

“Sounds like guilt to me, Solo,” she replied.

“Hey! She asked and I told her. How was I to know she’d go crazy on us?”

Leia sighed and rubbed her temples with her fingertips. “Is there any sign of her yet?”

“No,” replied Karrde. “Nothing.”

“Have you checked with the guard on Luke’s apartment door,” she asked Han.

“Less than five minutes ago. Everything’s quiet there.”

“Then I suggest we go home and get some sleep; there’s nothing else we can do here. I really don’t think even Mara can get past a Noghri without waking up half the building. Luke can take care of himself: I’ll call him in a couple of hours.” She stifled a yawn and started walking towards the exit. “She’s probably out cruising bars in the Corellian district.”

“Cruising bars?” asked Han incredulously as he followed his wife. “Why would she be doing that?”

“I’ll tell you later.” She turned back to Karrde. “Call me when she shows up.”
 

Mara slipped silently through the open balcony door, her breathing shallow, every muscle in her body ready to spring into action. She’d only been in Skywalker’s apartment once before, but she instantly oriented herself. Doors leading off the main room stood slightly ajar: kitchen, ‘fresher, spare room,... bedroom. Mara grinned and suppressed a shiver. She was so close to her prey. She could sense him sleeping.

Her brain was buzzing as she carefully removed her utility belt and placed it quietly on the floor. It was soon joined by her boots and jacket, before she tip-toed towards the bedroom door, pulling her hair out of the loose ponytail that held it. She pushed the door open, her right hand flicking to her left wrist and grabbing her hold-out blaster. Then she paused, glancing down at the weapon in her hand, a puzzled look on her face as she struggled with some inner demon. Looking up once more, her breath caught in her throat as she saw him asleep on his bed, his face in shadow. His presence screamed out to her to her like a ship’s beckon call, drawing her towards him as if they were magnetized. The tiny blaster dropped from her slack fingers as she quietly stepped close to the bed, her bottom lip caught in her teeth, her eyes never leaving his face. When did he get so beautiful?

Slowly, she lay beside him, careful not to disturb him. Then she placed a gentle kiss on his lips.

Instantly, Luke was awake. “Lights!” Fast reflexes helped him grab his ‘assailant’s’ arms, pinning her to the bed. His eyes focused in the dim lighting of the bedroom. “Mara? What are you doing here? Are you in some kind of trouble?”

She shook her head, not daring to speak lest she reveal what was truly on her mind. The proximity of his body took her breath away.

He realised he was still restraining her. “Oh, sorry.” He released her arms and sat up, embarrassed as he remembered he was wearing only shorts. He pulled more of the white sheet he’d been lying under into his lap. “What’s going on?”

She pushed herself up until she was sitting opposite him, her knee touching his. “I don’t know, Luke.”

He frowned at her use of his first name, and flinched as her hand came up to his face, but she only caressed his cheek. When she leaned forward and kissed him, he was so shocked that he didn’t even pull away, at least until he felt her tongue trying to gain entry to his mouth. “Mara! What the hell...” She tried to silence him with another kiss, but this time he did jerk backwards. “What brought this on?” A tiny smile escaped his lips. “You’re not a mad clone, are you?”

“No.” His attempt at humor was completely lost on her as her gaze travelled slowly down his bare chest, then back up again to meet his eyes. “Haven’t you felt it, Luke? Between us there is ... something. An attraction.”

“There is? I mean, I’m not sure I’ve noticed...” This time when she kissed him, he decided to return the kiss, his mouth opening to hers as he felt the passion emanating from her in waves. Suddenly he found himself flat on his back, looking up at Mara smiling down at him as she straddled his hips. His eyes widened as she leisurely pulled down the zip on the front of her sleeveless jumpsuit, the black material gradually parting under the pressure of her breasts. Luke swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. “Mara, I’m not sure this is such a good idea.”

Suddenly, her head dipped down and she licked a long line up the middle of his chest, completely sensitizing his body and purging his brain of all cohesive thought. Her eyes met his. “I am.”

The lust in her eyes, the heat of her breath, the nearness of her body; Luke surrendered completely and pulled her close, kissing her frantically. His hands ran through her hair, then tugged impatiently at her clothing. He couldn’t deny what he was feeling, couldn’t deny his body’s response to the beautiful woman lying on top of him.

His arms felt suddenly cold as she stood up; the time it took her to strip off her jumpsuit gave him the opportunity to remove his shorts. Then she was back in his arms, kissing, licking, nipping at his skin, as desperate for his touch as he was for hers. The contact between their bodies was electrifying, the contact between their minds, astounding.

Mara kissed her way down his neck and across his chest, pausing almost reverentially at his nipples. Her fingers trailed delicate patterns over his stomach and thigh, before gripping his erection and gently pumping. The low groan that escaped his lips forced her to stop, resting her forehead against his stomach, fighting her own climax. That was the sound she’d waited so long for, the sound she’d heard only in her dreams. Her subconscious self recognised the power they had over each other, even if her conscious self didn’t.

When Luke felt her mouth surrounding that most sensitive organ, he groaned again and arched his back. Had it been so long since he’d shared this intimate act with a woman? Surely not. But this was no ordinary woman. This was Mara Jade, possibly the most compelling woman he knew, strong, intelligent, Force-sensitive and, apparently, well versed in the erotic arts. When her mouth finally left him, he moaned at the loss, barely noticing as she kissed her way back up his body.

She nipped gently at his neck, kissed the cleft in his chin, and met his eyes. “Do you know how long I’ve waited for this, Luke?” she asked huskily.

Her eyes were mesmerising. “No.”

“Too long.” She sank onto him, engulfing him in a soft, tight heat. Her hair fell forwards as her chin dropped to her chest and she started slowly rocking.

His hands crept up her thighs, followed the curves of her hips and waist, and settled on her breasts. “Oh, Mara.”

She leaned down to kiss him, revelling in his taste, frantic to capture as much of him as she could. She felt his hands caressing her back, leaving a trail of goose-bumps in their wake. “I love you,” she breathed.

The words were whispered so quietly, he barely heard them. “You do?” he whispered in reply. “But Mara, I...”

She bit her lip and threw back her head, tilting her hips so she could take him in as deeply as possible. “Can you feel it?”

“Feel it? Oh, yes, I can feel it.” Luke squeezed his eyes shut, fiercely trying to contain the emotions building within himself. Her steady rocking, along with the rhythmic contractions of her muscles, were slowly driving him insane. Suddenly she sank onto him, her face buried in his neck; he quickly flipped her onto her back, finding her lips with his own as he began to pound into her. Her legs wrapping around him only made him move faster, whispering into her ear. “Mara, how did you know I felt like this? That I wanted you, needed you? I love you, Mara.”

Her only response was to arch her back, letting out a low moan as her climax finally hit her, full force. Luke pushed into her once more before he joined her, collapsing in a shuddering heap.

Eventually, he slipped off to one side, propping himself up on one elbow and gently stroking the damp hair off her face. Her green eyes met his, and he leaned in for a soft kiss. “I have no idea what made you come here tonight, Mara, but I’m glad you did.”

She smiled enigmatically, running a finger along his jawline. Then her eyes slowly slid shut and she drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Luke watched her for a long time, his blue eyes never leaving her face as she slept. He was just about to doze off himself, when the comm in the main room started beeping insistently. Heaving a sigh, he slipped out of bed and pulled on a robe, before closing the door gently behind him and dropping into the comm chair. Letters scrolled across the top of the screen; it was Leia, calling from home. He flipped a switch and his sister’s worried face sprang up on the monitor.

“Luke! Is Mara at your place?”

He tried to keep the shock from his face; what did Leia know? Seconds previously he’d decided not to tell anyone about his and Mara’s ‘relationship’, at least until he’d discussed it with Mara. Now he had Leia acting as if she knew, or at least suspected, an affair. He could sense Mara in the bedroom, still unconscious; better not to say anything just yet. “No, she’s not. Should she be?”

Leia sighed and smiled weakly. “She’s got Juxemia, Luke. She escaped from a secure isolation unit in the Parenis district about nine hours ago, and we’re still trying to find her.”

“Juxemia?” asked Luke quietly.

“It’s okay, it’s not life-threatening,” replied Leia, “just contagious. One of the symptoms can be an irrational desire to kill, and we were worried she’d come after you again.” She frowned, peering at her brother. “Luke, are you alright? You look very pale. Did you get enough sleep?”

“Me? Yes, I’m fine. I ... I’ve only just woken up, that’s all.” He glanced away from the screen for a moment, then met his sister’s gaze once more. “Leia, I have to go. Can I call you later?”

“Sure, Luke. Sorry I woke you.”

When she’d broken the connection, he quickly called up the medical data-files on the computer. He read the information on Juxemia with his chin resting in his hand, then sat back in the chair, completely dejected. Nymphomania and memory loss. She’d come to him not because she loved him, but because he was someone who could physically provide her with what her body craved. When she woke up, she’d probably have forgotten that she’d initiated it all, and homicidal tendencies or not, she’d kill him for sure if she thought he’d taken advantage of her while she was ‘defenseless’. How was he going to get out of this situation?

Finally he stood and walked back into the bedroom. Mara was still sound asleep in his bed; now that he looked at her, Luke realised she was very deeply asleep, unnaturally so. He pulled a blanket out from a cupboard and carefully wrapped her in it, before carrying her through to the apartment’s extra bedroom and laying her gently on the bed. She didn’t stir once. He gathered her clothes, wondering only for a moment why her hold-out blaster was lying on the floor of his bedroom, and dropped them by her feet. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he stroked her hair one last time, revelling in its color and texture as it slipped through his fingers. Then he gently shook her shoulder. “Mara. Wake up, Mara.”

Her eyes opened slowly at first, widening as she recognised him. “Skywalker! What the hell are you doing here?” She moved to sit up, only realising at the last moment that she was nude under the blanket. “What is going on?”

“Actually, I was going to ask you the same thing.” He peered closely at her. “Don’t you remember anything?”

“Remember what? Where am I?” She pulled the blanket tighter, edging away from Luke.

“You’re in my apartment on Coruscant. I just got a call from Leia saying you’ve been ill and had gone missing from a medical center. She wanted to know if you were here.” He watched her carefully, but saw no recognition in her eyes. “I decided to check my spare room, and found you asleep.”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why am I naked under this?”

“You are?” Luke tried to sound suitably shocked. “I have no idea.”

Her brows furrowed in concentration. “I don’t remember.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Horrendous. I’m hot and I ache all over. My head is killing me.” She glanced at her belongings on the bottom of the bed. “I think I’d like to get dressed now.”

Luke stood up, feigning embarrassment. “I’ll ... um ... go call Leia and let her know you’re okay.”

“Thanks.”

Closing the door behind him, he sank into the chair in front of the comm unit once more, keying in his sister’s code.

“Luke?”

“She’s here, Leia. I just found her asleep in my spare room.”

Leia blew out a sigh. “Thank the Force. I’ll send Karrde over to collect her. She didn’t try to attack you?”

“Nope. I only just found her.” Luke hoped his sister couldn’t see through his deception.

“Great.” A tiny smile quirked up the corners of her mouth. “Maybe you could come to the hospital with her. We should have you tested for Juxemia, just in case.”

“Me?”

She nodded, grinning. “I’m sure you’ll be okay, Luke; you need to be in close contact to catch it. But a homicidal Jedi Master with memory loss is probably something the galaxy is not quite ready to deal with yet. We’d better not take any chances.” She glanced over her shoulder, then turned back. “I’ve got to go, Luke. I’ll contact Karrde straight away.”

The screen went blank, but Luke continued staring at his reflection. “Sithspit!”
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I Drove All Night” (B. Steinberg/ T. Kelly)

I had to escape
The city was sticky and cruel
Maybe I should have called you first
But I was dying to get to you
I was dreaming while I drove
The long straight road ahead

Could taste your sweet kisses
Your arms open wide
This fever for you is just burning me up inside

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep
To make love to you
Is that alright
I drove all night

 

Onward to part two

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