Mara blinked. The last thing she remembered was sliding across the metal floor on her knees to impale C'baoth through the chest with the blazing green shaft of Organa Solo's lightsaber. Someday you will kneel before me. I have foreseen it. She snorted at the memory. He hadn't foreseen that death blow or the wave of dark energy that slung her away.
She wasn't on that cold metal floor, but in a medical bunk and wearing soft medical tunic and trousers. She could feel the steady thrum of the hyperdrive through the floor and bulkheads. But the bunk room seemed brighter than she remembered the Falcon being.
There was movement on her right. She twisted her head to meet it, and Luke leaned down into the bunk and relief curled his lips up into a smile. "Welcome back. We're on the Wild Karrde, heading back to Coruscant. How do you feel?"
She reflected on that. Thirsty, but her empty stomach wasn't ready for food yet, and the rest of her muscles didn't feel sore from the exertions of getting to Mount Tantiss or the battle they had had inside it. "Thirsty," she croaked at him.
He bent away and brought back a water bulb to her. She sucked its cool contents down her throat. Worry was creeping back into his face. "Do you have any pain? Do you remember—"
"I'm Mara Jade, you're Luke Skywalker, and I killed C'baoth because you got buried in rocks." She took a deep breath. "No physical pain." Emotional pain was another story. His face—unmarred by the experiences between Grakkus' Palace and now—twisted with pain and hate that she had never felt in the original. And she had to strike the clone down to save them all. "I'm sorry."
"I didn't find a better way. To keep Luuke alive."
His blue eyes widened, and he clasped her hand between his. "Don't blame yourself, Mara. I was trying to reach him but…." He winced with pain and revulsion. "It was all C'baoth. He deserved better than that."
She worked her fingers between his on one hand so she could squeeze it. "How is everyone else?"
"Han and Sturm both got burned with Force Lightning. Han just took some bacta patches and went back to the Falcon with Leia, Chewie, and Lando. One of the crew members here, Chin?" His voice raised slightly in question of his memory. "He questioned me a lot on if I packed an electrical charge but said the vornskr will be okay."
She squeezed his hand again. "How about you?"
"I went into a healing trance after I put you in one. Cleared up all my bruises and abrasions. But you're the first I've done for someone else?"
"I feel fine, Luke. Nothing sore. Let me try to get up."
He helped her roll out of the bunk and onto her feet. He had changed clothes while she had been out. This black tunic had a large flat collar against his shoulders. "Hungry? We gave you a glucose drip when we got you set up."
"Not hungry yet." She steadied herself against him. He wrapped his arms around her. "I will let you know." He hummed his agreement and his heartbeat under her ear comforted her. He didn't feel angry or disappointed. "I have to talk to Karrde."
"They left you some clothes." He kissed her forehead before letting her go and opening a storage drawer. It was a jumpsuit and set of basics she had left in her cabin on the Wild Karrde. Had they left her duffel bag on board the Millennium Falcon? Her most precious belongings were still in it, but they were low on the case of priorities. She needed to check in with Karrde and get his explanation.
Luke gathered his bag and a datapad that he slipped inside of it while she dressed. "Didn't they give you a bunk?" she asked.
"Probably. I wasn't paying attention to anything beyond you." She should roll her eyes at that, but it made her smile softly instead. "One other thing," he blurted. He reached into the bag and pulled out a lightsaber.
Mara frowned. His lightsaber hilt hung on the weapon belt around his waist. Organa Solo must have taken hers back, and her hilt had a narrowed handgrip below the control panel. This silver hilt was the same diameter from end to end, but had long black grips covering the handgrip from the pommel to the control plate. "What's this?"
"It's my old lightsaber. The one I lost at Cloud City and nearly got killed with on Wayland." He held it out to her. "I'd like you to have it."
The expression that met her gaze was serious. "Lots of reasons. I'd like Lucinda to use it someday, but she's too young for a weapon like this. Because you earned it. You're on your way to becoming a Jedi and you'll need it. Mostly, though, because I want you to have it."
Accepting the weapon seemed heavy with unspoken promises. To be a Jedi with blood on her hands; was that even possible? "I hadn't decided on more training yet. If Karrde wants me to continue with his organization, I'd like to."
"I'm not asking for you to give that up or declare yourself a Jedi right this second. I never want to put that pressure on you. I just want you to have it. It will be safe with you. And you might need it."
Slowly, almost reluctantly, she took the weapon. His father's lightsaber, of course, he'd want it safe and want Lucinda to wield it one day. "Thank you."
He grinned and adjusted the bag on his shoulder. "Karrde's scheming about something. I didn't poke into his head, but he felt like Han does when he's scheming."
The lightsaber hung on her belt. "Sounds like Karrde. I better see if he wants to tell me yet." She led him out of the ship's medcenter and around the turbolift to the other decks to Karrde's nerve center on board.
"I'll wait out here." He leaned his back against the corridor wall next to the door where he could watch both ends of the corridor.
"Paranoid finally?" Her smile morphed into a smirk.
"You can stun me once." He flashed a smirk back at her before the door slid open.
Karrde looked up and grinned. "Mara. How do you feel?" He set his datapad on his desk and leaned back in his seat.
"I feel fine and a bit curious."
"Over how we ended up on Mount Tantiss and getting paid for it too? That's an amusing story."
"I'm sure it is, but of course you got paid. Why didn't you tell Luke?"
He shifted forward. "Because you hadn't."
Mara wasn't sure what she had expected him to say, but not that, and it took any response she could form away.
"If it had been the original conditions of the contract stipulation, I would have corrected his assumptions with my suppositions. But since you hadn't died and were due to make a full recovery, I trusted the reasons you had for not announcing it." His eyebrow arched the way it always did when he let his curiosity show. "Why didn't you tell him on Myrkr?"
"Fear," she said. It was easier to admit now that Luke knew everything, including her violence. "Fear of losing her and fear of hurting him. I probably would have told him if Thrawn hadn't shown up."
"Aggravating habit the Grand Admiral has. Aves made an interesting report about the battle of Bilbringi Shipyards. Our planned hit and run became a pitched battle when the New Republic and the Empire showed up. The Empire retreated first, but the Alliance made off with a crystal gravfield trap array."
"Alliance?" Mara frowned. "What Alliance?"
Karrde leaned back and let his smug satisfaction show. "Our Alliance, a Smuggler's Alliance. Thrawn pissed too many off in the Fringe, so we had to strike back. And I think we can all make credits off the New Republic's cargo shipping needs." He picked up his datapad again. "I'm structuring something better than Solo's proposal. You're going to want more time on Coruscant."
"I think so."
His sharp eyes dissected her hesitant statement and landed on the lightsaber dangling from her waist. "Or have you already made plans to leave my organization?"
"I'm keeping this safe for Luci to have one day." She patted the hilt and put her arms behind her in a parade rest. "I want to continue working for you." Karrde was steady, and she loathed to give that up should everything she hoped for blew up in her face again.
He smiled openly and warmly. "Mara, you and Luci will always have a place here. Don't concern yourself with that." He leaned back in his chair. "But I thought you and Skywalker would have settled this already."
"Luke and I haven't had a chance to discuss the future alone." She hadn't wanted to bring up what she desired or what she should expect with the mission over all their heads and with Solo and Calrissian ready to jump in how she wasn't worthy of Luke.
Karrde stowed his datapad in his desk and stood up. "Go get that settled, Jade. We've got about two hours before we reach Coruscant to strategize how to present what we want to the New Republic. How long do you think you need?"
"Give me about an hour and a half."
"It's time for me to exercise Sturm and Drang, so you have it. And if it settles your nerves any, Skywalker had every opportunity to board the Millennium Falcon with his family and Calrissian, but he refused to leave you."
Mara nodded with that information, wondering if the Skywalker twins had had a mental argument out of everyone's hearing, headed out the door first.
Luke straightened off the corridor wall. "Hello, Karrde," he said to the man right behind Mara.
"Skywalker," he said amicably. "I think we'll spend Councilor Fey'lya's credits on a few bacta tanks. Seems prudent if things remain this exciting."
"Better price a med droid too," Mara said. "I do not trust Dankin to dunk me in bacta."
"Good point. See you around 1000." He lifted his hand in a lazy wave as he passed them both in the corridor.
She caught Luke's hand and tugged him in the opposite direction, going forward through the ship. He twined their fingers together. That little maneuver sent a jolt of lust through her combined with the warmth of acceptance. Perhaps there hadn't been a fight?
They said nothing and didn't run into any of the other crew heading to her cabin on the ship. She keyed open the door and ushered him aside. He blinked at the double bunk right inside the door. She locked the cabin door and grabbed her travel duffel bag off the bunk. A quick glance inside, and everything was still there. She carried it to the storage lockers between the bunk and cabin's back wall. "Stow your stuff in here." She opened the empty locker. "I keep it empty in case Lucinda travels with me."
"Has she had to travel with you much? Since you started working for Karrde." He threw his bag inside as quickly as she did hers, but he also took off his weapon belt and put it inside.
She slid the lightsaber off her belt and set it inside before shutting the locker. Her weapon belt needed modification to carry it. She refocused on answering Luke's question about Lucinda. "Just while we were changing bases. I was trying to give her some independence and wasn't sure what working for Karrde would entail. And she ended up not doing her lessons." Luke had done better with Lucinda in that regard.
He gave her a lopsided smile as he stepped back to give her room to exit. "Lucinda was more terrified of disappointing you again when you woke up. It was easy to keep her on task."
She was better than her fears. And this reprieve to face them would be over once they landed on Coruscant. They had to deal with all of this, all of them before Lucinda was caught in crossfire or worse targeted again. Luke's smile faded with her growing tension. She took a deep breath. "Are you upset that I killed C'baoth?"
He took her hands, bringing them palms up between them. She forced herself to keep them—metaphorically red-stained with death—open and resting on his. His face shifted up to look her in the eye. He shook his head, and she felt no deception. Some of her tension bled away.
"Are you angry or disappointed I gave him another chance?" he asked.
She didn't move. "Incredulous that you offered yourself."
"Oh. Well, that was just a delaying tactic. Let you and Leia fall back and figure out how to get me out. We don't enjoy leaving someone behind, but we're very good at recovering them."
Surrendering on top of a mountain with a bomb being assembled inside of it, surrendering on a battle station with the Rebels flying in to blow it to smithereens; he needed to stop doing that! "I will only leave you behind if you don't want me anymore."
He inhaled sharply. "I thought we established that I'll never not want you. I don't want to pressure you and we sure deserve a decade of all the nights on every town we want to go to, but I think you two should move in with me until you are convinced."
Her tension finished bleeding out, leaving her spinning in zero-g only anchored by his touch. "I want that too," she whispered. She raised her hands and cupped his face, before pulling in for a kiss.
Luke deepened the kiss, wrapped his arms around her, pulled her flush to his body, and reestablished gravity's influence. She moved her arms around his neck and pressed against him. His arousal nudged into her abdomen.
That happened quicker than she had expected, or even anticipated. The sparks rushing from her lips and her groin threatened to send her into orbit. She had to meet with Karrde again, so there was no time for—
He stroked his hand down her back and squeezed her ass.
Maybe time for a little something, she decided. He had put in all that time helping her float rocks after all. Her fingers stroked the back of his neck while she focused her mental attention on the buckle of his belt. She added pressure on the release and it sprang apart.
He jerked his head back. She aimed her lips for the straining tendon on his neck instead. "Mara," he gasped.
She moved her Force focus to the fasteners of his trousers. They eased apart as she kissed down his neck.
Luke shifted his hips back, but didn't pull his arms from around her. "That's… that's really great split focus—"
She grazed his exposed collarbone with her teeth.
"But your meeting!"
She lifted her head and gave him a filthy smirk. "I have enough time to have my way with you." She dropped one of her hands to his groin and rubbed his erection through the material.
A blush spread across his cheeks.
She turned him around and lined him up with the bunk. She gripped the waistband of his trousers and basics and licked her lips. "Speaking of no pressuring, you never asked for this." His pupils dilated more when her knuckles brushed against his skin toward his bulge. "Even in reciprocation for my oral pleasure."
His face reddened more. "Grakkus and Palpatine would put you on your knees. I couldn't do that to you too."
"Even if it's what I want?"
He inhaled. "You want?"
She eased his waistbands down to his knees and freed his cock that strained upwards. She nudged his hips and he all but collapsed onto the bunk. She pulled his clothes down so he could spread his knees while she knelt in front of him.
Before she settled, he twisted, snatched a pillow off the bunk, and thrust it at her. She chuckled as she knelt on it. He chuckled with her, but it strangled in his throat as she wrapped her fingers around his girth. She pumped him gently before tracing one vein with the tip of her tongue. Her hands stroked up his inner thighs slowly. She tickled his testicles with the tips of her fingers and supported his cock with her other hand once her hands reached the apex.
Pre-cum seeped from the tip of his cock by the time she reached it. She lapped it off and Luke moaning her name rewarded her. Her cunt clenched as she grew wetter with that sound. She adored how needy he sounded, and how it was only her he ever wanted. She set her tongue against the underside of the tip. She flicked it up and down, side to side where the glans joined his shaft.
He groaned helplessly again and tried to work his fingers through her tight braid to twine his fingers with her hair. If her hands were free she'd undo it, but she was enjoying the massage she was giving his testicles and shaft. She glanced up at his face. His eyes only had a rim of blue around the dilated pupils.
She kept looking up at him as she delivered wet kisses down his shaft. His breathing almost balanced out, so she moved to the top of it and drew circles with her tongue against his skin.
He almost choked on his inhale. His fingers spasmed against her head, but he didn't force her head down as she reached his tip and wrapped her lips around it.
She bobbed her head down without sliding him down her throat yet. She added a gentle suck as she moved back up. She kept up the momentum as his thigh tensed under her hand, balanced on him. His legs tried to go straighter, so she relaxed her jaw, taking him further in.
He still stifled a shout by slamming his mouth shut as his cum hit her mouth. She swallowed the salty stream until he softened. She pulled back and freed him, and found his hands cupping her face. "Mara," he breathed, like her name was a holy chant.
She twisted her head and kissed his palm before rolling to her feet, snagging the pillow on her way up. He yanked up his basics and trousers. She tilted her head about to ask why he was moving so fast, but he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into the bunk with him. She laughed as she bounced against him. Luke ended that laugh by kissing her.
"So you do enjoy it." She settled her head on his shoulder.
"Yes. And I'm going to enjoy reciprocating once I get you home." He nuzzled her cheek. "Damn, not first thing though. We should wait until Lucinda is asleep."
"That might take a while if she's furious."
"I'll be sure to lock the lightsabers away." He let out a yawn. "I'd say make Artoo guard them, but he sides with her and he might let her have them."
"What kind of month did you have if you're worried about Luci arming herself?"
"Based on how many times she said she should have grabbed the vibroblade first." He yawned again. "Good news, she only yelled at Wedge and Ghent."
"Ghent makes sense; she was taking care of him. But why did she yell at Wedge Antilles?"
"He had the misfortune to bring up having fun when she hadn't had any. Did you take her to the opera?"
"No, I didn't."
"Well, whatever you are plotting with Karrde, you need to make time for that. She has waited long enough." He adjusted his arms around her and finally found a comfortable spot on the bunk.
She moved her cheek against his shoulder. Many washings had worn the tunic soft. "Do you care if I still work for Karrde?"
"No, he's a good man. He cares about you and Lucinda." He stroked her back. "I'm sorry my side hasn't been as approving. It will get better."
"I don't want to make things difficult for you." She didn't want to gain him back and ruin his life.
"Nothing about you and Lucinda ruins my life. Go plan things with Karrde, and I won't let you get locked up by the Security Forces or Intelligence or whoever wants to try." He yawned again but let her feel his determination. How was he able to promise something and make her feel safe? The last time it had been in Grakkus' cell when he promised to not let them hurt her again.
She rolled, perched over him, and gazed into his drooping eyes. "Have a good nap." She dropped a kiss on his lips. "I'll be back."
He sighed as he let her go, and she scooted out of the bunk. "I'll be waiting."