Chapter Four
Coruscant Present Time

Luke let himself into his deserted apartment and just stood inside it while the door behind him shut with an audible hiss. Taking in his surroundings, a feeling of desertion and loneliness washed over him. It was almost palpable and overwhelming. For the last part of the standard year, his apartment here at Coruscant had become a home, not because he had spend more time here than on Yavin 4, but because this apartment had been shared with Mara.

On a cursory glance, no one could have known that the Jedi Master had shared it with her, but at second glance he knew that there had been signs of a woman's touch here and there. Her blasters that she would leave by the door on a small table, her saber lying side by side with his own. Then there were the toiletries she had put into the refresher alongside his. Small changes here and there, but nevertheless made all the difference to Luke, differences that had made his solitary apartment a home away from home.

Thinking about the toiletries, Luke chuckled to himself. He could still remember the day he had used her shampoo by mistake. For the remainder of the day he had smelled of the shampoo, constantly taunting his senses of Mara's scent that was so uniquely her own. Luke smiled to himself at the memory.

Wandering through the living quarters, Skywalker came upon the door to her deserted room. Opening it softly, he stepped inside, a sense of loss washing over him, as he took in the empty shelves, the neatly made up bed. It was the first time in ten weeks that Luke had entered the room, had entered her private space. The shelves and the cupboards were empty, only a bright water colour hanging above her bed, displaying the two flaming suns of Tatooine setting upon the sands. Luke remembered vividly the day when they had come upon the painting. They had met by chance in one of the malls, then had browsed through the shops until they had come upon a small dealer of arts. There, Mara had found the painting and on impulse had bought it.

Tearing his gaze off the painting, he resumed his walk through his apartment and came upon his bedroom. The crumpled linens on his bed seemed to taunt him as he walked over and sat down on the foot of his bed. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment before he laid back on the bed.

Memories came, unbidden and sudden. His mind was riveted back to the days before Mara had left his life for the last time. He still could kick himself that he had given in to the powerful urges the dreams had awakened him. But he was just a man, a regular guy, not the holy Jedi Master every one but Mara wanted him to be.

Any red-blooded man would have acted on the powerful images the dreams sent me, he thought and inhaled deeply. As if in pain he drew himself up on his side and curled into a fetal position. Thinking about Mara brought back the pain he had experienced only a few hours ago. He still could not believe that Mara would have done something like this on purpose, he knew deep down that she would never intentionally hurt him, not after what they had shared and were still sharing.

I want Mara. It is as simple as that. After all that has happened to me I never thought about falling in love again, let alone wanting to make love to a woman ... and yet ..., Luke closed his eyes. And yet, it is Mara I crave for. Beautiful, smart and deadly Mara.

He remembered the morning when he had found himself in bed with Mara after one of his rare drunken bouts with his friends. There had been an awkward moment when they had woken in this very bed and it had been hard not to act upon the one thing that had preoccupied his mind lately.

She had looked so beautiful when he had watched her sleeping and her outright indignation when she had woken and finding herself in bed with him. She had looked even more beautiful with her flashing emerald eyes. Luke had wanted to kiss her then, he had wanted to kiss away the frown and the sudden shyness that had overcome them both, but she had taken matters into her own hands again ...

Ten Weeks Earlier
Without a second glance, Mara scrambled to her feet and almost tripped over her belt, that lay discarded in front of the bed. She had to get out of there, otherwise it would be only too easy to just grab the deliciously sexy looking man also known as Jedi Master Skywalker and make love to him till kingdom come.

"Mara, stay!" Luke said and set out after her, cursing when he, too, tripped over his own belt. *Mara!* he sent her through the Force, momentarily stopping her.

"Leave me alone, Skywalker," Mara growled and had reached the front door, angrily punching in the access code to open the door.

Luke covered her hand with his own from behind and stilled it. His breath came ragged and he tried to force more gulps of air into his lungs. His body touched hers and both were acutely aware of that.

"Mara, running away will not solve anything!" he breathed, his breath fanning part of her neck and her ear.

"I'm not running away, Skywalker. I have business to attend to," Mara stubbornly replied and snatched her hand away from his grasp. "Open up that door, Skywalker, or I'll cut it down with my saber!" She turned sideways to push him away and glared at him over her shoulder.

Something snapped inside Luke, anger, frustration and love for this woman all came to the surface, momentarily blinding the young Jedi's mind. He whirled her around and pinned her against the door with his own body.

"I think, Mara Jade," he spat out viciously, "You and I have business to attend to here!" Placing his hands on either side of her head, he leant into her, invading her private space intentionally. "What are you afraid of, Mara?" he inquired softly. "It's not like you to run away. What ever it is that is between us has to be solved. We can't continue ignoring it! It will eat away at us, and I don't want to ..." he stopped himself and turned the words over in his head. I don't want to lose you, Mara.

"I'm not running away, Skywalker!" she spat out, and before she knew what was happening, her saber was in her hands and the blade was only an inch away from his face. "Let me go, or you will pay for it, Jedi!"

"Mara ..." Luke whispered and to Mara it sounded both like warning and endearment and to her utter surprise the Jedi Master pushed forward. Either she took away the blade or she would cut him and frankly, she couldn't bring her to cut his throat, could she?

*Do it, Mara,* Luke's voice in her mind taunted her. *Do yourself a favour and rid yourself of the stupid farmboy and Jedi.* Mara gritted her teeth, then with a quick snap of her hand, she killed the blade and threw the saber onto the floor.

"You son of a Sith!" Luke was not surprised that she actually struck out at him, he should have seen it coming, but he didn't. He was momentarily stunned, when her fist connected with his solar plexus. Only his own trained senses kept him from buckling over and he caught her hands with his own. She struggled and tried to trip him with her legs, but it only resulted in her being pinned down with his body more securely, her hands nailed against the steel of the door behind her head.

"Now will you see reason and listen?" Luke snapped, cautiously drawing in his breath. She still knows where it hurts most, he told himself and tried to catch his breath.

"This is madness, Skywalker. We are friends ... friends don't," she bit her lips and shook her head.

"Friends don't what? Kiss? Dream about how it is to make love to one another each night?" Skywalker relentlessly inquired.

"I don't dre-," Mara shut her mouth. She could not bring herself to deny it, the dream she had only a few minutes ago too fresh in her mind. "I don't know what got into you, Skywalker. Now let me GO!"

Luke felt the doubt coming from her through the Force. He felt that she tried to hide her feelings from him, tried to force up barriers between them.

Now or never, Luke, he told himself. Slowly, he bent his head until he was only inches away from her lips. He knew he was walking on thin ice here, but he was sick of ignoring the dreams, what ever or who ever had sent them.

"So we continue to ignore what is between us, Mara?" he asked, his voice heavy with emotion, sending shivers down her spine.

"Yes," she whispered, mesmerized by his soft, sexy voice. "There is nothing between us."

"Can you ignore ...this?" It was only a light brush of lips against lips but it sent a jolt of passion through both of them. "Or this?" He deepened the kiss, urging her to participate as his tongue flicked over the corners of her lips.

Mara groaned and relented. She opened her lips to eagerly greet his tongue inside her warm mouth. Lips nipped and sucked as their lips participated in a love making ritual of their own. The Force mingled with them, intertwining with the two lovers as they kissed each other hungrily, fanning the fires of passion inside them.

*I will kill you for this, Skywalker,* Mara sent to him through the Force when she drew Luke towards her. She needed his touch, desired the warmth his body emanated and wanted to hug him to herself as close as possible.

*Do you always kiss those you want to kill, Mara?* Luke's voice teased her as he ran his hands alongside her ribs, caressing, discovering her.

*Don't push your luck, Farmboy!* Mara's hands had found their way up to his chest, frantically opening the robe and pulling at the shirt until she came upon warm, soft skin. She sighed softly into Luke's mouth, drawing him even closer till their bodies seemed to melt into each other.

"Mara ..." Luke whispered as he trailed soft kisses along her jaw line, up to her earlobe and then down on the side of her neck, sucking and flicking over the soft spot where her pulse was racing, increasing the already hard drumming of her blood through her veins. Gently at first and then with increasing passion he sucked on the spot, dragging the soft flesh with his teeth as he drank from her like she was the best wine.
He felt intoxicated by her whole being, her scent, her body, her mind. He was drunk again though this time, he was inebriated by this wonderful woman not just liquor. Luke helped her when she tried to slip the robe off his shoulders and he likewise took the heavy pilot jacket she was still wearing off her slender shoulders.

Slowly, as not to scare her, he opened the zipper of her flight suit, easing it off her shoulders in one smooth motion of his hands. He grinned when he found that Mara did not wear any underwear underneath.

"So soft," he whispered against her ear, rubbing his nose along her cheek and hair while his hands roamed her slender shoulders and back. Enjoying the sensation of soft, bare skin against his palms and fingertips.

Mara pulled him closer and shuddered when she felt his hands massaging the small of her back and pushing her flight suit further down. Only at the edge of her perception she was aware that she was almost fully naked whereas he was still in his tank top, trousers and boots. She quickly snaked her hands beneath the soft material of the top and slipped it over his head, discarding it onto the floor.

The woman groaned when Luke cupped her behind and pulled her close, his erection almost burning away the last garments between them. She struggled with her boots, eager not to lose contact with his caresses or his mouth on her lips. Mara sighed softly when she felt Luke using the Force to undo her boots, slipping them off gently as he tucked at her trousers.

"Luke," she whispered softly, her voice full of passion. "You ...your..." she broke off as all coherent thought flew her mind. In one swift motion, Skywalker had hoisted her up, first running his hands over one slender leg before gently putting it around his waist, then he did the same with the other, pinning her between the door and his body.

"I need you, Mara," Luke whispered, and to emphasize his words he pushed himself gently against her covered feminity. Mara's lips curved upward.

"I can feel that, Skywalker," she retorted tartly and rubbed herself against his rock-hard erection. She suddenly felt his hesitation and with a raised eyebrow, she sent him: *Having second thoughts?* while her tongue delved deeply into his soft mouth, plundering it with kisses.

*I was thinking, bed or sofa,* Luke was quick to reply and for a moment, it surprised them both, then Mara grinned wickedly.

*The table, it's nearer,* Mara replied just as quickly, indicating with a nod of her head the nearby table, where Luke normally put his light saber.

Before she could take another breath, Luke had whirled her around, bridging the few steps to the table, and with an impatient sweep of his hand he cleared the table before he sat Mara onto it.

"Perfect," Luke said when he locked his eyes with hers. With growing passion he cupped her breasts, squeezing them. Mara exhaled softly as she watched Luke bending his head and first rubbing his nose against one rosy tip, then licking and sucking it into a tight erect pearl. Tousling his hair she arched her back, resting her head against the wall behind her.

*I need you*, Mara sent him through the Force and caressed his growing erection. With nimble fingers she opened the top button and zipper, a feeling of joy, passion and fear mingling in her.

They were so intent on each other that they didn't hear the buzzing sound from the door, both too wrapped up in each other and their makeshift lovemaking.

*Luke?* Leia's voice reverberated through Luke's mind and his eyes flew open. *Luke, I know you are there, what are you doing behind the door?*

Throwing up barriers against his sister, Skywalker leant his head against Mara's forehead and both gulped fresh air into their lungs.

"Did she sense us?" Mara whispered and Luke shook his head.

"I think she could hear us through the door, I was shielding us quite well ... I hope," Luke replied with a sheepish grin. "I better open that door before she gets too suspicious," he said and with a quick last kiss, he straightened and brushed some abandoned locks out of her face.

*Oh Mara, you look so delicious* Luke sent her as he lovingly caressed her breasts as if to say good-bye, albeit temporarily. *I won't let her in.*

*Don't you dare, she will be breathing down your neck for the rest of the day, farm boy.* Mara helped him pulling on his trousers again and gave him one lingering last kiss. Gathering her clothes off the ground, Mara moved away from him, but was stopped and spun around by Luke. Kissing her deeply, he send her images of what he intended to do with her when they were alone again, the Trader groaned.

*Luke!* Mara scolded him silently and he flashed her a smile. Watching her move away from him, he said huskily: "Nice backside, Mara!"

He chuckled at her snort and inhaled deeply as he stepped in front of the door. Forcing his body to calm down and slowly punching in the access code, he took his time to calm down his erection and his complete body. Slowly, the door opened, revealing Luke's doom in form of Leia Organa Solo.

"Luke, what in Sith' name did you do behind..." Leia raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms across her chest when she saw her brother's dishevelled state.

Stepping slightly forward, he mirrored her stance and crossed his arms over his bare chest, leaning against the door frame in a seemingly relaxed fashion. Keeping the barriers up towards his sister, he felt Mara moving deeper into the living quarters behind him.

"Leia, good morning to you," Luke said, eyeing his twin closely. Leia harumphed at that.

"Good morning? It is mid day!" She said and watched her brother closely. "What took you so long, Luke? I could hear you behind the door." Leia's sense of danger flared up when she caught movement behind her brother and she stepped closer towards the door. Blocking her view, Luke stepped into her way.

"It was late last night and my brain is still a bit fuddled, Leia. I couldn't remember the door code," Luke lied glibly and frowned when he heard Mara's voice taunting him with *Jedi omit but do not lie*, a saying he had lectured her with innumerous times.

Biting down on the chuckle, he focused his attention back to his sister.

"Han told me you left early and I thought you wanted someone to talk to ..." Leia said and tried not too openly to take a look behind Luke. All she could see was his Jedi robe lying discarded on the floor, and other different bits and pieces of clothing as well as what seemed like Luke's light saber, as in Luke's OLD light saber.

Her look riveted back to Luke, and while her brain tried to register the information, her look caught on a suspiciously long, golden-red curl clinging to his chest.

Well, well, well, Leia thought and arched a dark eyebrow.

"You wouldn't by any chance have some of the blue milk? Han has taken a liking to it and he wanted some," she smiled sweetly and Luke's danger sense flared up.

"Leia, Han hates Tatooine milk!" Luke replied firmly. He sighed when he saw the determination on her face and in the Force. "No, Leia, you won't come in. I'm fine, just a had a bit too much to drink last night."

"You didn't by any chance run into someone last night and ... and did something stupid, like, say, spending the night with her?" Leia asked, locking her eyes with her brother's.

Luke was momentarily shocked then tried to rid himself of the stupor. Forcing his mouth to open he inquired: "And who should this someone be?" The moment he asked, he knew he had been baited. Damn you, Leia, I always fall for your little ploys! he thought.

Slowly, Leia reached out and snatched the long hair off his bare chest, holding it up for Luke to see.

"I think we should talk, NOW!"

Mara, who had listened in to their conversation by the door, frantically pulled on her flight suit again. When she had dressed, the only thing missing was her light saber, and when she opened her senses she found it lying in front of the door. Cursing silently, she decided to leave it and was about to get into her room, when she was stopped by a mental image Luke sent her.

Sith' spawn! she thought when she recognized the hair and she silently moved towards his bed room. Closing the door firmly behind her, she walked over to the balcony and looked down.

*Mara, what are you up to?* Luke's voice asked. With an exasperated sigh, Mara closed her eyes for a short moment.

*Doing us both a favour and getting out of here, Farmboy.* she sent him as one slender leg moved over the banister of the balcony. *I'll be on the Jade's Fire.* Clinging to the ornaments of the balcony, she swung herself to the next balcony a level down from Luke's.

Luke sighed and when he was certain, Mara had made it safely to the balcony beneath, stepped aside and let his sister in. Leia quickly moved through his living quarters, when she came upon his bed room door, she was stopped by Luke's voice.

"You won't find anyone in there, Leia, so you can drop your Stormtrooper routine," Luke said, quenching the anger that tried to surge to the surface. Jedi calm, he thought and went over to the small kitchen where he poured himself a glass of water.

Leia had followed him into the kitchen and watched her brother. Although he looked calm on the outside, she could sense the controlled anger emanating from him. She had never seen him so cross with her since the last time they had a talk.

"Luke, I don't want you to be hurt again," Leia opened their conversation, only to receive an uncharacteristic snort from her brother. Shaking her head, the Senator proceeded. "Mara Jade was the Emperor's Hand, and even now her doings are as shady as ever. She might call herself Trader now, but deep down she is still a smuggler. Do you think the public will react kindly to the information that the only living Jedi Master has chosen her as his bed mate? People will talk, and they will make nasty comments..."

"Great coming from you, Leia. If my memory serves me right your husband is an ex-smuggler and Han has given up on his little endeavors. Give Mara a bit more credit." Luke replied.

Leia shook her head and sat down at the table.

"I know that people can change, Han is a shining example to this, but I have my doubts about Mara. For years she was intend on killing you, for Sith' sake. I find it hard to believe that she could lo-," Leia snapped her mouth shut and studied her hands meticulously.

"Love me? Is that it?" Luke inquired and leant across the table to study his sister. "Leia, I don't know how Mara feels about me, and I'm not going to ask her. If she wants to spend quality time with me, I'd be happy. But I'm not going to push it, not after what happened with Callista."

"Don't you see, Luke, this is what it really is about. Callista loved you and she left without giving an explanation. You were devastated afterwards and Han and I as well as your friends feared for your well-being." Leia shook her head when she sensed Luke wanting to interrupt. "No, I will speak my mind!" Calming herself she continued. "You are the only living Jedi Master, don't you think that you owe the public to chose a wife that is worthy of you? Mara Jade is not the right person, she is incapable of love and I doubt the public will accept her as your mate. Don't you think that there aren't rumours already flying around that say that she moved on from being the Sith' Whore to the Jedi Whore?"

Luke gaped at her. "What?" he inquired hoarsely, his anger barely contained.

"I'm sorry, Luke, but that is what people say and if your relationship will go public it will be all over Coruscant in no time. I want to protect you ..."

"That's Sith' spit and you know that, Leia!" Luke yelled and pushed himself off the table. "I don't owe the public anything. In fact, they owe me quite a lot and who ever I chose to be my wife it will be my choice and not theirs, or yours for that matter, sister," his eyes bored right through her. "This is something you don't understand, Leia. Yes, I'm the only living Jedi Master in this galaxy, and yes, Jedi have been a shining example of humility and morale in the past. But I'm also a man, a living being. I'm not the holy man, you and everyone else want make me out to be. Don't you think I'm sick of being Jedi Master treated here and there? I gave up everything to rid the galaxy of the influence of the Sith Lords. It cost me more than you will ever understand or even willing to give, so you don't have the right to tell whom I love." He spun away from her and closed his eyes, trying to fight back the memories of the torture and rape he had experienced at the hands of the dark side of the Force, things he had endured for the greater good of the New Republic. He calmed himself before he continued.

"Callista was in the past, I was too young and inexperienced to see that she only saw the powerful Jedi Master in me who had the powers she wanted to possess and lost," his shoulders slumped and he drew in a shuddering breath. "Do you know what is ironic? Mara actually warned me about Callista. She once stopped over at Yavin and she took one look at her and told me in not so many words what she thought about Cal, that she would use me and only saw the Master but not the man behind the Jedi robes. I was so mad at her that we didn't speak for almost a standard year and by then Callista had left me," he turned around to face his sister again. Luke could see that she had tears in her eyes but despite the hurt he felt coming from her through the Force he could not bring himself to comfort his twin.

"Mara has done a lot of things in the past that she is not proud of, but she was always honest with me. She treats me like an equal, she knows of the doubt and burden that come with the Force and I know she will never take advantage of me because I'm the Jedi Master," Luke stopped and inhaled deeply, trying to make sense of the feelings for the beautiful Ex-Assassin.

"Mara and I share a friendship and a bond through the Force which are dear to me. I've never experienced any thing like it before, when we are on a mission together I know I can trust her with my life and she can do likewise. I ... love her for what she was and for what she has become and I love her for the way she sees me. I have enough lackeys who bestow their honour on me with pretense and fear," He nodded when Leia gave a yelp of protest.

"Yes, Leia. I know most people are afraid of me. I might be their hero who led the rebellion to victory, but they also fear me. They fear what I might be capable of and of what might have become if I had relented to the dark side. This is the whole point, seeing the Emperor's Hand and Vader's son together, they are reminded of what Force strong persons are capable of."

Luke felt drained after his speech and he slumped down on the chair opposite his sister. He knew that he loved Mara Jade, so much was clear to him. But he had his doubts that his twin and his friends would see his reasons and also understand the depth of his emotions for the beautiful Mara Jade.

"So you are intend on destroying everything you have earned?" Leia asked, suppressing the shudder of fear in her voice. "You know that the Academy will suffer severely if word gets out that you want to marry Mara."

"I told you, Leia, that I don't know how Mara feels about me and I don't intend to marry her unless she wants me," Luke replied calmly. "I know I can't have it all and I'll be happy with whatever Mara can give me."

Leia's eyes widened. Suddenly, she saw her brother with different eyes. There was a strength surrounding him she had never felt before. In her eyes, he had always been the innocent 18 year old boy from Tatooine who had rescued her and had then all of a sudden become a hero. She had never actually bothered to see her brother what he was now, a seasoned warrior who had seen enough atrocities to last a lifetime and beyond. A man who was capable of great love but had his love always thrown back into his face time again and again.

Suppressing a sob, she hid her face behind her hands. It was all so unfair, she thought. All Luke ever wanted was to love and be loved and not respected for what he did.

"I'm sorry, Luke," she whispered and she felt strong arms around her suddenly. Drawing comfort from the fact, that Luke held her tight to himself, she wept. She wept for him, his loss of love and the loss of innocence.

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