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Summary - Mara returns wounded to Coruscant after she had been away for months on a mission for Leia to retrieve some Jedi artifacts. Before that she has left Luke, freeing herself from the bond that seems to suffocate her. And the Jedi Master has not been able to reach her through the Force and it seems that Mara Jade is not a Jedi anymore ... by choice or by fate?

A HUGE Thank you to Sherry, my brave beta reader :)

Comments are welcome at

Cold Equation




The mission had gone awry from day one and she should have felt something was wrong. Felt it? Mara chuckled to herself and shook her head. She reached for the injector with the Ysalamiri essence. It had cost her a fair share of her credits on the black market, but she had paid so willingly. She recalled the merchant looking at her strangely when she had asked after the forbidden essence which was produced from Ysalamiri which had the unique capability to sever and temporarily destroy the bond of the Force with and amongst Jedis.

I really let him think, I need it to capture a Jedi, she thought and shook her head. That is far from the truth. Soon after she had purchased the essence and the injector, she had made her way back to her ship again. There in the safety of the Fire she had once and for all severed the bond between herself and Him. Knowing full well that in doing so she would have to continue it till her last living day. Ysalamiri was destined to wear off but she was determined to keep herself subdued, even it it meant to increase the doses over time.

For the last weeks she had used the injector every day, cutting the last shreds of the bond between herself and the Force. At first she had been afraid, to be virtually blind and deaf, but with the mission at hand, she had to come to rely on her other abilities. She was a trained killer and assassin, she knew how to fight. And that she had done. Now she held in her possession another one of the old Jedi artifacts and she was back en-route to Coruscant.

Nursing her wounded shoulder which took longer to heal than with her Jedi Powers, the woman sat back in the pilot's chair and closed her eyes. Immediately, her mind was riveted back to the time that led her to where she was now. Mara Jade let herself review the events for the first time in 10 weeks that had brought her to the decision to sever the bond to the Force and renounce her status as a Jedi.

Chapter One

"Hey, Mara," Luke's voice reverberated through the halls of the former Imperial Palace in Coruscant. "Wait up!" Luke Skywalker, only living Jedi Master and saviour of the galaxy, unceremoniously ran after the slender woman who had just left the Council Chamber. After weeks of negotiating with pompous officials on some back-water planet and their wishes to join the New Republic, all Mara Jade wanted to do was to take a shower and sleep for at least the rest of the day. Fate had it that she had to run into Skywalker after she had reported the outcome of her negotiations to the council members.

Mara Jade uttered an expletive beneath her breath and turned around. "Skywalker," she greeted him and a tired smile appeared on her lips. "Didn't know you were away from Yavin, Farmboy," she teased him when he had reached her.

"And I didn't know you had business with the council, Mara," Luke quipped and fell into a trot beside her. The woman glanced sternly over to him, as always her heart missing a beat or two when she saw the Jedi Master. They had come a long way since her days where she had been intent on killing him and over the years they had established a precarious but strong friendship.

*You look tired, Mara*, Luke sent her through the force and he could feel that the council meeting had drained the last of her reserves.

*You would too, if you've been interrogated for four hours straight, Farmboy*, Mara quipped back trying to gather more strength for her usual banter with the Jedi Master. But she felt too tired to endulge in that little pleasure of ribbing each other either mentally or verbally.

"If you excuse me, Skywalker, but I need a rest. I'll drop by later to keep you updated, okay?" She asked and was about to leave the Palace, when Luke held her back. Both stepped away from each other in surprize when a jolt of energy raced through them.

"Woa!" Luke exclaimed, for the moment being more the farmboy Mara liked so much than seasoned Jedi and warrior.

"Woa indeed, Skywalker," She commented and rubbed her hand absentmindedly. "Did you bring your Force Power conductor or something?"

Luke Skywalker watched Mara intently. Over the last couple of times there had been Force exchanges between them. He had never heard of these things, but then he was not familiar with a lot of the Jedi traditions and he was not sure what was happening. Ever since Mara had taken his spare-bedroom, he had had dreams about her every night, even if he was on Yavin. They weren't exactly nightmares but the dreams surely kept him awake at nights and left him so frustrated that even his Jedi meditations didn't help. And then when he was near her, as if to remind him of the dreams he had so securely stored away in the depth of his mind, these power exchanges had started between them. Luke mentally shook himself.

*You are electrifying, Mara. Must be the reason*, he chuckled and felt for Mara in the Force. All he could feel was a snort from the beautiful red-head.

"You really are tired, Mara Jade. You'd never pass up getting back at me!" Skywalker said and stirred her into the general direction of his apartment.

"That's why I'm going to haul myself into an airtaxi and get back to the Fire," Mara said and deliberately pushed away his hand with her leatherclad arm, careful not to touch him with her bare skin. Another one of those bolts and I'm either out cold or willing to get him into bed, Mara quickly clamped down on that thought and shook her head lightly. Better not go there.

She almost missed that Luke was holding her back and staring at her. "Don't be so stubborn, Mara. You have bunked more than once in my spare room, so why change a convenient pattern now?" Luke asked.

Mara stared up at him, momentarily mesmerized by his blue eyes, then she gave herself a mental shake. "That's okay, Skywalker. I have everything on the Fire. I think I will just collapse on my bunk and be gone to the world."

Luke knew she was not telling the whole truth. Over the years he had come to know her quite well and no matter how tired she would feel, she never passed up the opportunity on sleeping in a more comfortable bed than her bunk on the Fire.

"Alright ... just tell me what's wrong? Have you all of a sudden vowed never to set a foot into my apartment again?" he chuckled. "Now, I think that is daft, after it took me so long to even invite you in, my friend ..."

Trust Luke to be so perceptive. Damn him! Mara chided herself and made sure she was effectively shielding herself from his probing. She could still feel his presence in the Force despite her best efforts to block him out.

"Skywalker, I'm just tired and I still have to pick up my stuff from the Fire ..." her voice trailed away. Of course, that was a lie. She had enough spare clothes at Luke's place, stored away in a cupboard especially bought for her. In fact, almost all of her favourite clothes had been stored at his place over the last months since she had taken up lodgings in his spare room whenever she was in town.

She received a questioning look from the Jedi Master and she shook her head. "Humour me, Jedi Master," she said, harsher than she had intended and she could sense Luke's recoiling from her in the Force. Mara sighed. "Okay, Farmboy. I let you have it your own way - for now. I'm too tired to argue with you in a drafty corridor." She saw the smile creeping around his lips.

*Don't get smug, Farmboy, or you won't live to regret it!* she sent through to him and watched as he struggled not to smile at her.

They walked to his apartment in companionable silence, both deeply engrossed with their own thoughts. Luke Skywalker, despite his willingness to smile and joke with Mara Jade, felt rattled. The exchange of the Force had surprized and startled him. But something else had startled him over the last few months. The Jedi Master had begun to trust women again, not that he had mistrusted Leia and Mara - but he had never felt truly comfortable, especially when Mara was around. But for quite a while now he had not only looked forward to see Mara Jade again, he had also insisted she should take the spare room of his apartment whenever she was on Coruscant, he even had gone as far as giving her the entry code to his apartment, which she had never - as far as he could tell - used. She had always timed her comings and goings with his presence, as if Mara Jade did not want to make him think she was intruding on his home during his absence.
Luke Skywalker wondered at that. He had thought that he could never be himself with a woman again, but over the last year or so, he had opened up more and more towards Mara, and she had likewise. They both knew more about each other than anyone in the galsaxy, and the Jedi Master had shared secrets with the former Emperor's hand that he had not been willing to share with Callista. But something else disturbed him.

Luke flashed Mara a sideways glance. She really looks tired, he thought and suppressed the urge to reach out and touch her cheek. Where is that coming from? he asked himself, not aware that he was sending it through the Force.

*What?* Mara asked, her head only slightly turning his way, indicating she had understood him.

*Oh nothing, Mara, I was just thinking out loud,* Luke replied quickly, trying to shut down his defenses. Be careful, Jedi, he reprimanded himself and clamped down his defenses more fiercely.

They resumed their walk and Mara waited while he entered the code to his apartment. All she wanted was a good night's sleep and a warm shower, perhaps not in this particular order but her mind was determinedly set on those two things.

She thanked Luke when he had let her in and with a sigh she first went over to her room to get some fresh clothes and then to the refresher unit. Luke listenend to the soft stirrings coming from the refresher, the gentle stir of clothes being removed to the soft noise of water coming from the faucet. As the Jedi Master sat down on his couch, his head resting against the back of the comfortable settee, unwanted images floated through his mind.

Images of Mara undressing, shrugging out of the heavy-duty leathercoat she had worn, the removal of the green tunic, the boots and trousers, milky-white, soft skin gleaming in the light of the refresher unit, red-golden curls ...
Luke's eyes snapped open and he cursed. These images were too real to be just a fantasy conjured up by his mind and he suspected they were Force invoked. Stretching out in the Force, he could feel Mara's defenses and he quickly withdrew.

So it isn't Mara taunting me, he thought and shook his head. How come the Force bond is so strong between us? I never have heard about that before ... not even with Leia do I feel this way, and she is closer to me than any living being in this galaxy?! Skywalker sighed and went over to the small cooking area. His movements were quick and determined as he prepared a small snack for Mara and himself.

Mara had felt the comforting presence of the Force as soon as she was alone in the refresher unit. She could not put her finger to it, but she knew that she was being watched. She had send tendrils of the force towards Luke, realising that it wasn't him who was the perpetrator, and so she had dismissed the whole thing as a trick of her tired mind.

After her shower she felt fresher and more awake, and when she came out of the refresher she was greeted by the smell of a good Tatooine caf and bachon, one of her favourite breakfast foods. She smiled and went to the cooking area on bare feet. Luke had removed the austere robe and long-sleeved shirt and was now expertly preparing breakfast. Mara watched his back muscles strain underneath the tank top he was wearing as he lifted the pan to stir its contents. A slight tingling went through her, urging her to walk over to him and wrap her arms around him from behind. She shook her head, her eyes closing to shut out the image of Luke, and for a moment she could even feel the warmth of his back relaxing into her soft front.

Mara gasped and her eyes flew open, but she was still rooted to the spot. Luke had heard her gasp and was watching her with a questioning look as she walked over to the table and sat down.

"I guess I still haven't gotten used to the fact that the great Jedi Master is very homey at heart," Mara tried to explain, grinning to overcome her sudden shyness. "But I guess I'm grateful for that little secret trait of yours," she added when Luke put a plate full with her favourite food in front of her.

Her stomach growled very unladylike and they both laughed at that. "Now, Mara Jade, great smuggler and Jedi, when was the last time you ate?" Luke asked as he slipped onto the chair opposite her and dug into his own food-ladden plate.

"Farmboy, unlike you and your unsatiable Tatooine stomach, I can go without food for a couple of days," Mara taunted but her stomach made her stop and when Luke quirked her an eyebrow, shooting her a *Your stomach thinks otherwise* through the Force, she snorted at that. "Okay, I had a rationbar yesterday," when Mara saw his doubting face, she corrected herself. "Yesterday morning ..."

Luke laughed at that, she looked just like a young girl who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and he thought that she looked adorable. I should make sure she is tired more often, it makes her more pliant, he thought and Mara's head snapped up.

"I heard that, Farmboy. More pliant my ass!" She pointed her fork at him, munching around a bite of the bachon. "You really are turning into a mother bantha, do you wanna tuck me into bed after the meal?"

"If you let me, sure," Luke retorted. "But you know what bantha mums do, right? They cuddle with their off-sping to make sure they don't get any nightmares ..." his voice trailed away.

Sithspit! Had he just suggested to join her in bed? he asked himself and a taunting *You sure did, Farmboy* from Mara was all the answer he needed.

"Umm.. Sorry, Mara," he said and looked down on his plate. He heard her laugh, not as loud or glorious as others he had heard from her, but a laugh.

"If I weren't so tired, I would hold you to it, but for now I really think I should go to bed ... alone." She gave him a tired smile and staggered to her feet. With a *Good night, farmboy*, she left him. Luke watched as Mara Jade, former Emperor's hand, assassin and smuggler and close friend to Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, walked through his living area towards his spare room. He liked what he saw. In fact, he enjoyed the view very much, he had to admit.

With a sigh he tore his gaze off her retreating back and swaying hips and stood up. The soft thud of the door to his spare bed room momentarily letting his eyes follow toward the sound, but Mara was already fast asleep when he sent forth a tendril of the Force into her room.

Luke busied himself with datapads Leia had asked him to peruse for the rest of the day, from time to time he probed the spare room but Mara Jade was still lost to the world. The Jedi Master sighed, stood up and walked towards the ceiling to floor transparastil windows. Dusk was setting slowly over Coruscant and Luke stepped lightly onto his balcony, taking in the view in front of him.

The breathtaking view of Coruscant City never failed to calm Luke Skywalker but today it did little to him. His mind was in a turmoil of images and thoughts. Thoughts he had thought were buried, emotions he had not allowed himself to feel for a very long time.

When did my feelings for Mara change? Luke asked himself as he leant against the banister. She is my closest friend, we never ... The young Jedi sighed and squeezed his eyes shut. Control, he told himself. Must not loose control!

An image appeared - Mara's face, beautiful, lovely Mara. Her green eyes blazing with desire, her mouth ravished with his kisses ...

"Sithspit!" Luke exclaimed and his fist connected with a loud smack against the marble of the railing. He had long tried to forget the dreams, had buried them in his subconscious for as many weeks as he had experienced them. There was no denying, either the Force wanted to tell him something or this Jedi really had the hots for his best friend like a love-sick teenaged farmboy.

"She is going to kill me," Luke breathed and chuckled to himself. "This time she is really going to kill me and I deserve it .."

"You deserve what, farmboy?" A voice called out behind him. Luke whirled around, muttering every Tatooine swear word he had ever come across beneath his breath.

Jedi fool! he chided himself.

"Mara!" his voice caught in his throat and he sounded like the teenager he had called himself only seconds earlier.

Mara frowned a little. She had woken up when she had felt ripples in the Force, distorted images that were neither frightening nor urging, just pleasurable. Seeing Luke Skywalker in such a flustered state, she was determined to know what was going on.

"You deserve what?" she asked again and stepped out onto the balcony to join him. Without her boots she seemed even smaller than usually and when Luke dared to look down at her, her shoulders barely reached his.

"Umm... I was just ..." Luke broke off and stared at the city view. Get a grip! he reminded himself. "I was just thinking about asking you out for dinner tonight. My treat for the best smuggler in the galaxy ..."

"And you deserve that?" Mara asked with a raised eyebrow, amusement evident in her voice. "I thought there is this do you have to attend? Her Highness Leia Organa Solo said as much when I was at the meeting. Something to do with the New Republic forming a treaty with one of the outer rim worlds," When she saw Luke's sheepish face, she laughed. "You forgot? Farmboy, I'm flattered. But nevertheless I have to decline your invitation. You go to that reception, otherwise Leia will have your hide, Jedi."

Luke laughed at the mental image Mara was sending him. He was held in a deadly chokehold by Leia trying to skin him alive. It was hilarious, and he was loosing it. Man, I'm really losing it! Luke thought after his laughing fit had subsided and he wiped his eyes.

Mara frowned. Something is definitely wrong here, she thought and before she could ask herself if it was save or not to touch Luke after their most recent energy exchange, she reached out and cupped his face with her hands. Only a small jolt exchanged between them and Mara dismissed it. Gazing deeply into his eyes, she looked for something that had changed the Jedi Master.

"Luke, what is wrong?" she asked, unaware of what her raspy concerned voice and her immediate touch were doing to the object of her concern.

Luke knew he would have gotten out of this awkward situation if she had not used his first name. She only rarely used it and when then in intimate situations like this one.

Well, not that intimate, Luke told himself, making sure his defenses were still up and he was skillfully shielding himself from her when images flashed through his mind again.

"Luke?" Mara's somewhat panicked voice blended in with the more raspy, passion-filled moan of his dreams. He acted on pure instinct then, giving in to the powerful images the Force or his own befuddled mind conjured up for him.

Ignoring the bewildered stare of the woman in front of him, he likewise cupped her face with his hands and bend down, ignoring the powerflashes exchanging between them. There was no hesitation when he brushed his lips over her mouth, urging her to open it for his probing tongue. He increased the pressure when he felt her stiffening in his grasp, determined to ravish and taste her beautiful mouth.

"Sky-," Mara was cut short by his tongue invading her mouth, probing, tasting, desiring her. She pushed her hands against his chest, trying to ward him off but she couldn't. She felt desire pooling through her body; heavy and fierce like Cham'tac oil, setting her slowly but determinedly on fire. She groaned when Luke pulled her closer, moulding her body to his strong, hard frame. Her tongue probing and tasting her own of Skywalker.

SkyWalker! That certainly put a lid on her still growing passion. She struggled again. This is Luke, she tried to convince herself. The Jedi Master, my friend. Not some guy I picked up in a bar on some gods-forsaken planet! With all her remaining strengths she pushed free, gathering her power in the Force.

*SKYWALKER! For Sith's Sake, what's gotten into you!* She mindscreamed in his head, cutting down his barriers. And more over what had gotten into her for answering his kisses, a little voice nagged inside her head.

Luke blinked. What had gotten into him, indeed? He let go of her as quickly as he had grabbed her and forced huge mouthful of air into his oxygen-starved lungs.

Mara watched him, her breath hard and urging. That isn't the controlled Jedi I know, she told herself, but she dared not walk closer to him. She was concerned yes, she even cared, but after what had happened, she would rather face a Wampa single-handedly, with no weapons, than get anywhere near the obviously sex-starved Jedi Master. She did not trust herself to stop again if Luke made another pass at her.

"I'm sorry, Mara ... I ..." Luke muttered and turned away from her. What had he been thinking? he asked himself in remorse while he hid his face behind his hands. This was Mara, for Sith's sake!

"You better have a cold shower and get your mates from Rogue Squadron on the com to have a boy's nights out," Mara quipped, slowly regaining her equilibirium again. But she still felt deeply shaken, the Force rushing through her, fanning instead of quenching the fires of passion still raging in her body. With a shaking hand she brushed one of her golden locks away from her face and walked over to and through the door to his living-quarters.

Luke waited for several minutes before he heard the front door softly hissing shut. He didn't need to probe her abandoned room to know that she had removed all her clothing she had brought with her over the last few stays. Slumping his shoulders, the Jedi Master turned towards the city again but his unblinking eyes did not see the glistening lights of the city below.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10