Chapter Five - Nightmares and Dreams Shattered


That was all there was. Pain. Endless. Searing. All encompassing.

The cold heat of the red-bladed lightsaber had cauterized the wound and only a minuscule amount of blood dropped into the seemingly endless air shaft.

Pain. Physical. Emotional.

'I'm your father'.

Pain. Joy. Only minutely before the pain engulfed him again.


Falling. Endless. Hurting.

Mara woke up with a start and panted heavily. The dream had been so vivid and cruel, she could still feel her heart racing. Sitting up in bed, she raked her hair back and cradled her head.

"Luke!" she whispered, then shook considerably as she felt a wave of despair coming from him. Not minding her state of undress, Mara scrambled out of bed and rushed to the door. She could feel the faint throbbing of Dark Force induced dreaming when she approached Luke's room, almost menacingly pushing against her barriers.

Mara didn't hesitate when she opened the door to Skywalker meagre quarters and it took her only a few steps till she had reached his bed. For a moment she was stumped, she had prepared herself for quite a different image. Like her best friend and his love in bed together, but finding the Jedi Master tangled in his sheets, alone, threw her off for a minute. When Luke writhed as if in pain and Mara did not hesitate and overcame her surprise.

*Luke!* she called forth within the Force, careful not to touch him. She lowered her barriers, slowly opening to their shared bond. *Luke, you are having a nightmare!*

The writhing stilled momentarily and with a loud gasp, Luke opened his eyes and sat up in bed.

*Mara!* no shout tore from his lips, as Skywalker screamed within the Force, his unseeing eyes staring into the darkness. Luke felt as if he had just finished a whole day of cross-jungle racing and every bone and muscle in his body ached.

"Ssssh, I'm here," Mara whispered and sent comforting thoughts over their bond. She showed him where she was standing through the Force and Luke, without thinking, grabbed her outstretched hand and drew her close. She slumped down beside him on the bed, letting herself being enveloped into his embrace.

"It's alright, Luke, everything is okay," she whispered, her hands rubbing in circular fashion over his shoulders and back in the age old and universal show of comfort while Luke hid his face in the crook of her neck.

To anyone it would have seemed like a lover's embrace, as the Jedi Master and the Trader lay there, in each other's arms. Mara tried to push away the last remnants of the dream and yet with the Force flowing so freely around them, she could still feel the pain Luke had experienced. She still felt the sharp clean cut through his wrist as Vader's lightsaber had decapitated his right hand from his arm as if it were her own. Sending him more reassuring thoughts, she hugged him close until after a while, Skywalker stirred in her arms.

"Stars, Mara, it seemed so real," Luke said , drinking in the calm and comfort his best friend sent him through the Force. Mara shifted slightly and sat up, lying so near her best friend made her uncomfortable, but she also knew he needed her.

"I know, Luke, I know," she soothed him, shuddering when she remembered the disturbing images Luke had unconsciously sent her through the Force. With another shudder, her hands came to rest on the side of his head, her fingers softly massaging his temples brushing through his silky hair while her forehead, rested against his.

"I'm sorry, Mara," Luke whispered and hugged her close, for the first time noticing that his fingers touched naked skin. In his haste he had not noticed that Mara's legs lay sprawled over his as they sat snuggled up intimately against each other. He closed his eyes as his fingers slowly drifted over her naked leg, down from her knee and up to where he encountered the edge of her combat boxers she was so fond of wearing. He revelled in the soft skin, calming his erratic breathing and drawing comfort from her whole being.

"You alright?" He heard Mara's soft inquiry, her lips almost brushing over his own and for a moment, he had this incredible urge to tilt his head forward and kiss those luscious lips.

Closing his eyes he drew his barriers up a notch and stilled his hands, but try as he might, his fingers itched for the soft texture of her skin and his calloused palm continued to draw circles on her thigh.

"Luke?" Mara drew back, searching his face.

"I'm fine, Mara. Thank you," he replied softly, both his hands rubbing over her legs. As if he had burned himself he let his hands fall to his sides.

Jade cupped his face in her hands, and searched his eyes. "What brought on this nightmare? Did you experience others?"

"A few ... nothing this vivid ..." Luke mumbled and tried to escape her grasp, but Mara did not release him.

"Answer me, Luke, did you have other Dark Force induced nightmares?" the question came out as a growl.

"Yes!" Skywalker replied and caught her hands in his. "I had them ever since the Eye ..."

Mara stared at him and for a moment, they both felt the slight disturbance in the Force, felt the realization that both of them came to.

"Mara, it is not Callista ..." Luke offered lamely and shook his head, even though a kernel of doubt was rooted deeply in his mind.

"Isn't it?" Mara asked incredulously. "You brought her with you from the Eye and ever since these nightmares plague you, don't you think these two things are connected?"

"Mara, Callista loves me, she would never ..." Luke began.

"And she cannot touch the Force, well not the light side, right?" Mara cut in and shook her head. "When will you grow up, Skywalker?"

"I'm grown up, thank you very much," Luke growled and was somewhat grateful that they quarrelled. Holding her in his arms, feeling her so near, within kissing distance, he felt that he betrayed Callista.

An uncomfortable silence spread between them and Mara closed her eyes. She still massaged his temples, trying to dissuade him from the residues of the nightmare but her own mind was in a turmoil of warring emotions. He was so near, so all encompassing her that she could not think straight. His presence, his arms around her, made it only too clearly that she was not supposed to be here with him. The realization that even although she was his best friend, from now on it wasn't her place anymore to hold him like this, to keep the nightmares away they were both prone to, hit her unexpectedly hard.

"Uncle Luke?" the small voice brought both out of their reveries and Mara sat up as if someone had whipped her.

"Anakin, what happened?" Mara asked as she came over to the little boy who was rubbing his eyes sleepily. A soft halo of light shimmered in his hair that stood on ends as if something had given the child a fright. Mara suspected that the smallest of the Solo family also had been effected by the nightmares.

Kneeling down in front of him, Mara touched his shoulders slightly and the boy turned blue eyes on her.

"Did Grandfather really do that to Uncle Luke?" The voice was breathless, just the tiniest whisper as if the boy was afraid he would conjure up the nightmare again.

Mara nodded, afraid to use her voice. For a moment she saw herself, a frightened child, sleepless, in a hostile environment and pained by Dark Side dreams.

"It's alright, Anakin. I'm sorry I couldn't shield you sooner," Mara answered slowly and almost gasped when the smallest Solo slipped his arms around her neck and held on for what he was worth.

Raising and stepping back towards Skywalker's bed, she sat down on it gingerly while the Jedi Master bent over and put a hand on Anakin's back.

"Hey, Anakin, everything is alright now," he soothed and Mara felt the boy relaxing towards her. Slowly, she pried his arms off her neck and the little one cuddled up to his uncle. When Mara made moves to stand, a chubby hand shot out and two pairs of blue eyes looked up pleadingly at her.

"Auntie Mara, don't go, please," Anakin said and Mara heard the same demand echoing in her mind, with a good amount of mirth.

*Yes, Auntie Mara, don't go,* Luke sent her.

*Oh for Sith' sake, Skywalker,* she snapped at him in an irritable way while she smiled at Anakin.

"I'm not far away, Anakin, just in the other room, and I know your uncle won't let you have nightmares again," she soothed the little boy but he didn't want to hear about it.

"No, I want you be here," Anakin slurred and tried to climb into her lap. Luke drew the child towards him and over the tousled head of his nephew, he looked at Mara.

*Just for a few minutes, Jade, till he is asleep,* he pleaded with her silently. Mara watched him as he gave her his best Farmboy's smile and then patted the mattress beside him.

"Come on, Jade," he coaxed and watched with a smile when his friend reluctantly stretched out beside him and Anakin.

With the little boy between them, Luke and Mara lay facing each other. Mara felt fidgety and moved restlessly when Skywalker spread the bed sheet over the three of them. Anakin was already half asleep and snuggled closer to the adults, so that all three lay closely together, wrapped up in a small cocoon of bed sheets and their warmth.

"Thank you, Jade," Luke's voice sounded eerie so near at her ear, and when Mara turned her head she was almost nose to nose with her former nemesis. "I don't know what I would do without you."

Mara swallowed and tried to break the intent gaze out of deep blue eyes. She felt a small fluttering in her stomach when Skywalker moved his hand up to her cheek, brushing a stray curl out of her face. For a moment his hand lingered, revelling in the soft texture of her skin and Mara's breath caught in her throat when his head moved closer, resting forehead against forehead.

"You are welcome, Skywalker," Jade managed to choke out and she mustered up enough courage to put her hand on his that still lay on her cheek and squeezed it briefly.

Deep green eyes, bright like the forest of Yavin, stared into blue ones and Luke swallowed. He had never thought that he could feel comfortable with the one woman who had wanted to kill him, but here he was, sharing his bed with her, albeit innocently, but his heart roared and a feeling washed over him, that he could easily identify as happiness.

Mara on the other hand felt like the whole situation was slowly slipping out of her control. The feeling that washed over her just by a simple touch of the Jedi Master was not something she had expected.

Her heart started to drum more profoundly, anticipating something, anything and a warmth unlike any other she had ever experienced flooded her being from just the one spot where Skywalker rested his hand on her cheek. She wanted so much to kiss him, kiss away the pain and memory of the days during the rebellion and that made her giddy and angry at the same time.

I must be out of my mind, she told herself sternly, trying to come up with a subject that would take her mind off those forbidden thoughts. Within an inch of her sanity left, she spoke aloud the first thing that came to mind.

"Why are we always fighting?" she asked all of a sudden and Luke sighed softly, leaning his head against hers.

"I don't know, Mara, seems we always do," he replied softly.

Mara shrugged, her movement jarring all three on the bed, bringing them nearer. "You need to sleep," she said and let go of his hand while she sat up.

Luke watched in surprise as she stood up, for the first time seeing that she was just wearing boxers and a tank shirt, almost the same attire she had worn when they had bathed in a lake on Myrkr. A rush of passion surged through him which he quickly dampened.

I can't feel that for Mara, he admonished himself more harshly than he really felt, knowing that was only partly true. I'm with Callista!

"You will sleep now, Jedi," Jade said as she tucked the sheets around the slim forms of the man and the little boy.

"Mara..." Luke started then caught one of her hands and drew her close. "Thank you."

Mara Jade fidgeted and swallowed upon the seriousness in his voice. Quickly she squeezed his hand then retracted hers silently.

*Sleep now, Jedi,* she brushed his mind with her own then reached out and brushed his hair out of his face, then that of Anakin.

"Yes Mom," Luke mumbled, winking at her mischievously and laughed genuinely for the first time since Mara had arrived on Yavin when she swatted his cheek.

"You watch it, Farmboy," Mara growled softly, but a smile tucked at her lips. Soft finger brushed over Luke's face and contently he closed his eyes.

*Thank you, Mara,* he sent and Mara nodded.

*You are welcome,* Mara sent back and smiled. *That's what friends are for.*

After she had made sure that Luke and Anakin were sleeping, Mara stepped quietly from the room. She couldn't believe she had almost kissed the Jedi Master.

He is in love with Callista, she told herself firmly but in the back of her mind, a nagging voice could be heard.

Then why did he caress you like this? He knew you weren't Callista and yet he seemed reluctant to part with you or a fair amount of your touch.

Rubbing her temples furiously, Mara tried to shut up the voice in her mind. Luke loves Callista! she almost recited it like a mantra, hurting herself with it rather than succeeding in drowning out the voice in her head.

She was about to turn when she came face to face with Callista. The woman was wearing a sleeping shift of some suggestion and Mara could sense that the woman had taken especial care with her hair and added fragrance to it which teased Mara's nostrils and almost made her wheeze.

"Callista," Mara greeted her calmly and deep inside her, the trader couldn't help but smirk at the somewhat shocked expression the blonde woman opposite her showed on her face.

"Ma..Mara ..." Callista mumbled and her eyes flew to the door from which Mara had just emerged, then back to the trader herself.

Groaning inwardly, Mara cursed beneath her breath. Just what I need right now, another holier than though Jedi breathing down my back Mara was about to turn when a hand kept her back. Looking at the offending limb like it was a fire fly straight out of the Ondoorun desert, Mara raised an eyebrow when she directed her gaze towards Callista.

"How dare you telling me that there is nothing between yourself and my Jedi Master, when you sniff at his door in the dead of night," Callista hissed.

"Sniffing at his door?" Mara asked, raising an eyebrow. "Last time I checked I was shutting the door while someone else was sniffing at it, Callista!"

The angry gasp from the other woman was loud in the otherwise still corridor.

"How dare you?" Callista snapped. "Luke would never allow anyone in his private rooms..."

Mara gazed at the former Jedi cooly and crossed her arms over her chest. "Well, I think you are mistaken here, I certainly am allowed."

"You bitch!" Callista shrieked. "First you played the Sith whore and now you try to lure my Jedi Master into your dark clutches, I won't abide to it."

Mara Jade frowned and for a moment she thought about retaliating in kind, but then she drew in a cleansing breath and shook her head.

"Callista, whatever you think of me is of no consequence, but I give you one advice, never let Skywalker know how you feel. I told you before if I wanted Skywalker in the way you seem so obsessed about, you won't be here, in fact you'd be still a incorporeal ghost on the Eye," the young woman said, then turned.

"I won't let you destroy him," Callista spit out. "I have waited for an opportunity like this, I will get rid of you once and for all!"

Mara faced Callista, a frown on her face. "What do you mean? Get rid of me?"

"I will not let you destroy my Jedi Master. I will make him into the most powerful there ever was or ever be and he doesn't need people like you and those flyboy friends of his in his life!"

"On what kind of spice are you, Callista?" Mara inquired calmly, too calmly. "Luke has managed quite well without your delusions of grandeur. The Rogues are his friends. They go back a long way and I don't think Luke is blind enough not too see what you are trying to do!"

"That doesn't need to concern you, I want you out of his life. I'm sick of hearing him talking about you, always Mara this or Mara that. You are a Sith whore and I won't let him fall from the grace of the New Republic because of you. He will be the New Republic once I'm through with him!"

Mara was taken aback by the ferociousness the other woman spoke and for a moment she felt her danger sense flare up.

"Callista, that is the dark side speaking. Skywalker never wanted riches and power, he is a normal human being who wants to be treated like a normal man!"

"He is the Jedi Master and with my help he will become the most powerful of all!" Callista shrieked and stepped forward.

Jade felt the Force swirling around her and her arms already came up and blocked the blow that was directed at her head. Whirling around, she pushed Callista away from her.

"By the love of ... What got into you?" Luke's voice was loud in the corridor and both women stared at him, a sleepy Anakin in his arms.

"Oh Luke, she wanted to kill me," Calista sobbed and threw herself into his arms, almost shoving Anakin to the ground.

"Callista ..." Luke whispered and shot Mara a disbelieving glance. Anakin looked at the woman beside him as if she was some evil creature from the swamps of Dagobah.

"Auntie Mara," Anakin's voice was barely a whisper but it held a ring of panic in it.

Taking the young boy out of Luke's arms, Mara avoided his gaze.

"Luke, you have to send her away, she wanted to kill me when I found her sniffing outside your room," Callista whined again, this time hugging Skywalker closely.

Mara rolled her eyes but the way Luke shot her another glance, she snorted.

"Sithspit, whatever!" she grumbled and hugged the still terrified young boy close to her. With this she turned and almost ran with the little boy in her arms towards the quarters of the Solo family.

"Oh Luke," Callista sobbed again and clung tighter to Skywalker. "You have to send her away. She is not befit to be a friend of ours."

Luke shuddered, after the soft almost intimate scene with Mara, his whole body was sensitized and he registered her half-clad body all too well, but somehow, as it had been the case ever since she had taken Cray's body, it put a damper on his emotions.

"Callista, Mara is my friend ..." he started but Callista shook her head and cupping his face with her hands, she stared longingly into his eyes.

"She is not your friend, she can't stay away from you and wants to break us up," Callista whispered, batting her eyelashes at him. "Please, Luke, she gave me such a fright, please could you hold me in your arms?"

Luke nodded absentmindedly, he doubted that Mara had attacked Callista, but the love of his life had never lied to him either. With a last look at Mara's retreating from, he ushered Callista inside his quarters, moving with her to the sofa.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6