Disclaimer: The characters and situations of 'Star Wars' depicted in this story are legal property of George Lucas, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Timothy Zahn, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement intended.

Summary - Set shortly after The Last Command, Mara and Luke's friendship deepens, and the strange dreams they had both experienced on Myrkr all those years back, are returning in full swing, does the Force want to tell them something?

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Chapter One - Passages

It had been stifling warm all day on Coruscant and Luke Skywalker enjoyed the soft breeze of the evening as he sat on his balcony. All day long, he had negotiated with the Senate to acknowledge his academy to train Jedi and when he had returned to his apartment here in the former Imperial Palace, he had felt sweaty and tired.

After a shower, he had prepared some Cin'chi juice which was now resting in a coolant carafe on a small table nearby. He sat comfortably propped back in a chair with his legs resting against the balcony railings. Artoo, his astromech unit, was chirping nearby and Luke was holding a one way conversation with him in the dusk of the Coruscant summer day.

A small ripple in the Force reached the Jedi Master and his somewhat tired expression lit up. Mara Jade was approaching his apartment and from her signature in the Force, she felt just as tired and sweaty as he had felt only a couple of hours ago.

*Hey, Jade*, he sent her through the Force and grinned when he felt her snort.

*Skywalker, open up that door,* she retorted and with a flick of the Force he opened the door before she had reached it. He listened as the Master Trader entered his apartment and for the umpteenth time, he felt a lingering gratitude that his friendship with Mara Jade had survived his little tryst with Callista. They had not seen each other for a complete standard year after a quarrel over Callista. At that time he had been angry with Jade, but over time and especially after Callista had left him, he had seen the truth in his friend's words. They had met again only two years ago when Mara Jade had once again hauled his Jedi butt out of a hot situation. It had been awkward at first but now their friendship was back on track.

He listened to her soft footsteps and looked up when she stepped onto the balcony. She was still wearing her flight suit with her heavy all duty jacket and a black carryall which she now unceremoniously dumped onto the floor beside him. He reached over and after he had prepared another glass of Cin'chi juice, he handed it to her.

"Have a seat, Jade," he said and tilting back further with his chair he nursed his own drink. Slumping into the chair beside him Mara exhaled softly and tried to prop her legs up on the railing as well, but came up short. Stifling a chuckle, Luke flashed her a grin when she sighed in exasperation and moved the chair further towards the railing.

"One day, Skywalker, one day you'll break your neck when I kick that chair out from under your butt!" Mara growled but both felt that it was a good-natured threat. After Jade had settled herself, she closed her eyes.

"Nice to see you too, Jade," Luke retorted, a laugh evident in his voice. Mara opened one eye and tilted her head towards him, flashing him a warning glance.

"Wonderful to see you in such a good mood, Farmboy, but I cannot share the sentiment," she quipped and rubbed her throat and collarbone tiredly while she sipped on her drink.

"Bad day, huh?" Luke asked and leant towards her. She indeed looked tired and worn. *You look tired, Jade,* he sent through the Force and Mara grimaced.

*You would too if you had spent half of the day scouring the city in need of a room. Some blasted conference is being held and there is no way I will get a room till tomorrow,* Mara returned likewise, she decreased her barriers in the Force somewhat and let herself being submerged in the gentle warmth and soothing presence of the Jedi Master.

I need that now, just for a little while before I return to the Fire, she thought and sipping her drink, she turned her head completely to watch the Jedi Master at her side.
For the first time she had arrived she noticed he was not wearing his customary Jedi Blacks, in fact he was wearing little more than his work-out pants. For a moment, Mara Jade held her breath as she watched the muscles of his stomach clench and unclench as Skywalker breathed. She was mesmerised by the beauty of it and like all the times before when she was caught unawares by the physical and mental beauty of the Jedi Master, she felt the almost insurmountable urge to touch him, to touch the muscles on his stomach, on his chest, wanting to let her hands touch and caress the soft tanned skin, the scars that covered it and kiss away any lingering pain caused by them.

She shook herself almost brutally from her reverie. Gods, you really are tired, Jade! she scolded herself and shook her head slightly as if to clear it. Fastening her gaze on the spires of the city before her, she bit her lip in confusion. This is Skywalker, not some Sol'anni wrestler you can goggle up and down.

Mara Jade exhaled softly and set down her glass before closing her eyes. Fastening the grip on her barriers, she tried to block out the soothing presence she had revelled in only minutes before. I must be mad and sun stroked to even consider the Farmboy being sexy ..., she chided herself and almost missed the gentle caress on her skin as Luke extended a hand and brushed a stray lock out of her face.

A flicker of soft blue lightning exchanged between them when skin touched skin and Luke drew away in shock. Jerking her head away out of reflex, Mara almost toppled over with her chair. Only both their Jedi reflexes prevented her to break her neck, and as she straightened in the chair again only her pride was hurt a bit.

"I'm sorry, Mara, I didn't want to startle you," Mara heard Luke's apologetic remark but she only shrugged. Serves me right to let my guard down around the Jedi Master! she scolded herself and made herself to face Skywalker. He really looked sorry and despite herself one corner of her lips curved up in a smile.

"Thanks to your good reflexes nothing major happened, Skywalker, but don't do it again," she retorted harsher than she had intended. Sighing, she pushed herself to her feet and straightened the jacket. "I better get going now, the bunk on the Fire beckons me."

Luke, who was still shaken from their exchange earlier, rose to his feet as well. "Stay!" he blurted out and both looked at each other with more than shocked expressions on their faces.

"What?" Mara gasped, she doubted she had heard right but she had to confirm.

Luke grinned sheepishly and a slight reddish tint was creeping up his neck and face. "I mean, I have a spare room. You are tired and sore and the Fire just doesn't offer enough comfort. Otherwise you wouldn't stay in a hotel most of the time you are here," even to himself his words sounded jumbled and more fit for a farmboy than a seasoned Jedi Master.

"I guess what I'm saying is, till you have found a hotel room, you can stay here in the spare room. I can guarantee the bed is softer than the bunk on the Fire!" He remembered her constant complaints about her bunk and although it was comfortable when in Hyperspace, it was more of a torture instrument if the Fire was docked somewhere.

"Now what would your dear sister say, if she knew that you are letting strangers - and women at that - bunk in your room, Skywalker?" Mara tried to joke. She was still stunned at the offer. From what she had noticed over the years, Luke was a very private person. Even when he had been together with Callista he had insisted on her having her own set of rooms.

It couldn't have been out of modesty, Mara thought as she revelled in the information. *You sure, Farmboy?* She asked him through their Force bond and Luke nodded at that.

*Yes, you are in need of a good night's sleep and a shower and I have a big bed and a 'fresher, seems a good deal.*

*A big bed, huh?* Mara couldn't help but rib him and laughed softly when his already reddened face colour increased.

"Okay, I'll take the spare room gladly. So lead the way!" she demanded in a mock bow. Apart from the living room and the balcony she had never seen much of Luke's apartment. In fact she had always wondered how the other rooms where furbished but she had never had the courage to ask.

"Here is the spare bed room," Luke said as he led her to a closed door off to the left of the door that obviously led to his bedroom. Mara exhaled softly when she saw the white washed room with its floor to ceiling transparisteel window and a comfortable looking bed in front of it. The room could have been cold with the white walls if not for the light touches of sandy browns, reds and oranges of the drapes and cushions that gave the room complete warmth and friendliness.
She wondered if that had been Callista's doing.

"She never stayed here, Mara. If anything it is Aunt Beru's doing. She had a similar working room back on Tatooine and I always liked how the colours played together. It reminds me of the sunset on Tatooine." Luke replied gently.

For once Mara was glad he had picked up on her thoughts so easily as she surely wouldn't have asked the question aloud.

"It's beautiful, Skywalker," Mara said as she reverently stepped into the room. She walked over to the window and watched the air traffic beyond. "I always thought the view from your balcony is breathtaking but this ..." she motioned her hand towards the view of the great spires of the old Jedi Temple. She looked back over her shoulder when she heard a sound and saw Skywalker as he had put her carryall onto the bed and was zipping it open.

"What are you doing?" she asked with an amused raise of her eyebrow.

Luke looked up at her in surprise then down at the bag and his hands that held up some flimsy material of sorts. "I wanted to help you unpack..." His voice trailed away when his mind registered what exactly he was holding in his hands. It was some lacy camisole, stuff that was so maddeningly female that he dropped it as if he had burned himself.

"I - I'm sorry, Jade, I did not think ..." Luke muttered and stepped back.

"Obviously, Farmboy," Mara grinned. If any other man had done as Skywalker, the man would be dead or unconscious by now, but she was not angry with the Jedi Master. She doubted it had been intentional, no she knew for certain that he had no ill intentions, he had just wanted to help and his reaction to the underwear had just been too funny.

Let's play with him a bit, Mara decided and strolled over to where Luke was still standing. Reaching out, she picked up the camisole where it had fallen on the bed and held it against her slim figure.

"Would you like to see me in this, Skywalker, shall I model it for you?" she asked huskily and stepped closer to the young man. Her hips slightly swaying and her head titled in a very sexy way.

"Ja-Jade," Skywalker stuttered and raised his hands in defence. "I'm sorry, I didn't think... I was just going to help, that's all..." Luke's shock and panic was evident and Mara decided it had gone far enough.

"Relax, Farmboy," she said and stuffed the little lacy thing back into her bag. "I was just kidding you." She almost physically felt him relaxing at her words and for a short moment their eyes locked.

What Mara Jade saw in those blue eyes both surprised and shook her to her deepest roots. Not only was there panic but deep shock and pain in them and once again she wondered what really had happened to him before she had rescued him out of the former Imperial base two years prior. It had been one year after their quarrel over Callista and afterwards Luke had not seemed to be the same man he used to be. At that time she had thought it was because of Callista had left him but with his reaction now she wasn't so sure anymore.

"Okay, Farmboy, show me the fresher. This Master Trader is in dire need of a shower, and I'm not talking about a sonic one either!" Mara said, trying to diffuse the tension that had built up.

Luke was glad when he heard Mara's words and not trusting his voice overly much, he nodded and led her over to this own bedroom which was similarly furbished but here the colours of the Tatooine sands were even more evident.

"The fresher is over there. Just make yourself comfortable. I'll get some extra towels," Luke said hastily and stepped over to one of his build-in wardrobes. Extracting too fluffy towels from it, he set them inside the refresher on the counter and left Mara alone just as she returned with a small vanity case.

"If you need something, just holler," Luke said. "I'm in the kitchen ... How about some Nerf steaks?"

"Sounds good to me, Skywalker. And you better still have some of that Cin'chi juice!" Mara called out after him before entering the refresher.

Luke chuckled at that. *Why, Mara, I never knew you are such a sweet-tooth,* he send her through the Force and felt the red-head snort.

*You better believe it, Farmboy and if you have drunk all that juice when I come out you'll pay for it ...or make a new carafe full of it.*

Luke sent her a mental ribbing into her ribs and he could hear her gasp out loud in the fresher. Feeling happier than he had a few minutes ago ...Or the whole day, he added silently, he sauntered off to the kitchen, preparing dinner.

Mara stepped under the soft spray of the shower and sighed loudly when the warm water hit the tensed muscles in her back. She still marvelled at the events of this day. She had never guessed that Skywalker would offer her lodgings, albeit short term but she was so desperate to sleep in a soft bed for once that she had gladly takem him up on the offer.

You are full of surprises, Skywalker, Mara thought to herself as she vigorously massaged her scalp and washed her hair. When she ended her ministrations she wrapped herself into one of the towels that the Jedi Master had given her.
Sending out a tendril of the Force, she made sure that the Jedi Master was not in the room beyond and when she felt his presence and located him in the kitchen she slipped out of the refresher.

"Five minutes, Jade!" she heard Skywalker call out and Mara grimaced. As easily as she could locate him, he could locate her, perhaps even more easily.

"I'll be there, just don't start without me, Farmboy!" Mara replied and her eyes met Skywalker's as his head appeared from around the corner of the kitchen. "I know your Tatooine stomach!"

Flushing, he winked at her and disappeared into the kitchen again,. Mara had felt a tingling sensation when their eyes had met and her reaction to his bare chest came back to her in a rush. The red-head tried to suppress the blush that crept up her cheeks as she stepped into the spare room.

It is just Skywalker, she reminded herself but try as she might she could not get rid of the image of the play of his muscles beneath sun tanned skin.

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