Disclaimer: Written as part of the Fic Whining Circle Challenge. The kinks I had to work with were gender switch and aphrodisac.

Star Wars: Crude Matter title image

Jade’s Fire swooped gently over Anzat’s grasslands and the comm system chimed that Mara’s prey was in voice broadcast range. She toggled it on. “I got your text comm and my ETA is fifteen minutes, Skywalker. Anything I need to be alert for on the ground?”

For a moment, she wondered if he would respond. The way the text comm had been phrased she thought it had been sent through his astromech droid. The landing beacon that she was flying toward was bound to be the droid’s work. The Force wasn’t giving her a warning, but that didn’t mean she’d find a conscious Luke Skywalker.

“Hello, Mara.” His voice had a different pitch, lighter somehow. Definitely breathier.

She frowned at the speaker. Maybe she needed to run a diagnostic.

Skywalker continued unaware of her mechanical distraction. “You can set down next to my X-Wing; there’s plenty of room right outside the temple and the ground is seismically inert. The water source is easily avoidable. Just follow Artoo’s beacon.”

“I am. I just wanted to make sure you were coherent for this extraction that I cleared my schedule for.”

“I don’t need an extraction.” He still sounded off, but the trying-to-not-sulk came over the comm clearly. “The X-Wing is fine and I can fly it.” There was a pause before he hesitantly said, “You didn’t need to come, not if it damages your business. I don’t know if Artoo made it clear this isn’t an emergency.”

Mara smirked. “So I’m not going to make the extraction fee I was going to charge you?” There was a regrouping thoughts sputter on the other end of the comm. “It’s fine, Skywalker. All I have right now is a surprise delivery as a favor, and I still have a week before it’s due. Plenty of time to help you out with whatever Force conundrum you have found now.”

“I’ll be waiting in my camp. Skywalker out.”

Jade signed off as well and gazed out at the new features on the landscape as she approached them. The yellow-green grass parted for a curved blue ribbon of water that she passed over. Blue mountains rose in the distance, but the beacon was leading to what was once a building built of carved stone or pourstone bricks. Walls had crumbled around the perimeter, but a domed tower still stood in the center with a roof that looked like dark gray and green. The creek tumbled down the outcrop the ruin was built on and curved around behind it.

The white cocoon-shaped structure as long and as tall as the X-Wing was staked out between the snub-fighter and the creek where no shadows would fall on the tent’s black solar collection tubes snaking over its surface. The flat plain before the ruin still had plenty of room for her larger ship. She set down with her entry ramp aimed at Skywalker’s camp and her viewport at the ruins. The once graceful arches that had marked the entrance had fallen into a heap of stone leaving a hole into the interior at the top of the pile.

She hoped whatever Luke had found on this trip to need help with did not include rock climbing and exploring in ancient ruins. He probably pulled the artifact out already. From the closer angle, she now saw that the green of the roof were actually massive fronds growing through slits in the roof and spreading out to catch as much sunlight as possible. That much plant life did not bode well for the structural integrity of the ruins; the roots were probably tearing the place apart from the inside. She’d point that out if the Jedi Master wanted to go back inside.

The sun was heading down to the horizon behind the tent as she stepped out on the grassy turf. The springy stems didn’t impede her progress. Luke’s steady presence in the Force was ahead in the tent. She didn’t have to duck to walk under the X-Wing, so she took the most direct route to the large white temporary structure by going under the starfighter. The door was slid up to remain open, so he had to have heard her land. Why wasn’t he meeting her at the doorway? She swept his camp with her Force senses and only felt the two of them. So he wasn’t busy with someone else, unless it was his droid.

She raised her voice before she reached the tent’s doorway. “Did anyone tell you that Anzat was under Imperial interdiction before you decided to come here?” She strode into the main room of tent. The saved solar energy powered the lights at the apex of the roof illuminating the whole room. So she didn’t miss, couldn’t miss the female human who faced the tiny kitchen against the back wall of the tent.

“So was Dathomir,” she said with Luke’s amused chuckle as she continued chopping something. But the voice was higher and breathier than the one in Mara’s memory despite the similarities.

Mara’s gaze traveled over the person present. The clothes were something Luke would wear on one of his expeditions, stained and mended gray trousers (that Mara half suspected were part of a Rebel Alliance uniform he had never discarded) and a black undertunic. But the seams of the trousers strained at the hips to remain on a much curvier lower half and the undertunic’s armhole was exposing nearly all her ribs under her arms. Luke’s lightsaber hung from the belt cinching the trousers around her waist.

And she radiated Luke’s steady presence in the Force in a way that should not be possible, in a way that was making Mara’s head dizzy.

Something moved to Mara’s left and she jerked to see the blue and white astromech droid. It offered her a low whistle.

“And that turned out all right.” She picked up the cutting board and slid the chopped pieces into a pot on the cook top. “But I don’t think I’ll recommend lifting it for Anzat.” She set the utensils down on the sliver of counter space the camp kitchen provided and turned to face Mara.

The blunt haircut was growing shaggy around a rounder face. The forehead shifted flatter, the cheekbones more prominent, the lips much plumper. But the chin still had a cleft even though it was shortened. And the blue eyes were still the same ones she knew despite how the eyebrows had shifted and arched over them. She’d know those eyes no matter what face they resided in.

Her poise was sucked out the airlock though. In fact, she was fairly certain she was doing a nearly accurate impression of a Mon Calamari. “What the hells, Skywalker? A full body mod?”

She never would have put credits on that idea; he had never emoted unhappiness with his body. And she felt oddly hurt that he had never shared that he had been or that he had made this decision without discussing it with her. Even though there was no real reason why he should.

Skywalker’s grin and self was full of relief. “You can tell it’s me!”

“You haven’t changed in the Force.” An idea struck her and her temper rose to match it. “Was this some Sithspit test?” A way to mock and goad her for refusing further training, how dare he! Or she!

Skywalker raised her hands in placation. They still sported the same calluses. “Not of you! I still feel like me despite the anatomical changes of the crude matter. But I didn’t know if I could trust my perception or if it had been altered too. I didn’t want alarm my students and Leia’s too busy.”

She felt the evasion in that statement. “You didn’t want her yelling at you for doing something stupid.”

“I’d rather her save those for when it is actually a galactic incident.” Skywalker waved a hand at her chest and Mara tried not to notice that Skywalker’s mammaries were larger than her own. “This is just personal.”

Mara sat down on a nearby stool. “She has explained that you are a public figure. How do you think it won’t be a galactic incident when HoloNet finds out you have a different gender now?”

Skywalker blinked. “Okay. That’s why I commed you. You can help me figure out what to say if we can’t reverse this.”

“I don’t have a surgical center in my ship.”

“I didn’t change my flesh medically.” Skywalker turned to the travel conservator and stooped to pull out the next ingredient. “It was the temple.” She nodded her head at the wall in the direction of the ruins.

Mara glanced over at the droid, but it didn’t offer any commentary as Skywalker went back to cooking. “You found a Force artifact that changes people’s bodies?”

“It wasn’t the Force directly, but the indirect touches with life itself that should be studied.” He stirred the savory contents of his pot before opening the package. “Cilghal will want to study this effect, if the Galactic Health Organization for Public Safety will lift the interdiction enough for that to happen. The ramifications are fascinating.”

Her head was beginning to pound, the way it usually did when Skywalker was determined to ignore the practical in favor of Force mysticism. She supposed it was comforting that hadn’t changed about the Jedi Master. She curled her hands into fists on her thighs rather than start rubbing her temples. “The ramifications are going to be bad if I grow a dick from landing on this planet.”

“We are more than our crude matter.” She finished pouring the meat chunks into the sizzling pot and started stirring harder. The packaging floated to the garbage container. “You would still be you, like I’m still me in how it counts.”

“Skywalker, tell me what you did to yourself or I’m comming your sister!”

She had the satisfaction of seeing Skywalker’s shoulders flinch. “It’s the plants in the temple. The reference I found said the temple had been dedicated to the study of the divergent before the native sentients that lived here died out and the Old Republic put Anzat under interdiction.”

“And that sounded like a Jedi temple to you?” Mara was proud as to how calm she made her voice. Her hands relaxed.

“If you’re really interested, I have a datapad file full of the different descriptions of Jedi and Force temples from different sources. It didn’t sound that unsimilar.” She added some water to the pan, increasing the sizzle and steam. “So I planned this trip, went into the ruins, the connection to the Force was so strong, and I was distracted and then one of the plant pods closed around me.”

Mara twitched. She remembered a bog plant in the gardens of the Imperial Palace that ate insects. “You didn’t cut your way out?”

“I didn’t want to. I’m not sure if that is a message through the Force via the plant or a chemical reaction from the sap inside. I kept samples after I got out and cleaned up.”

“And it spat you out as a female?”

“Basically.” Skywalker turned off the heat source. “Which is pretty divergent from how I had been my whole life, but I’m still me.”

“So you think the natives built a whole religion around plants that can change a person’s biological sex?” Mara frowned. There was a Fringe rumor that Ewoks will prostrate themselves in front of protocol droids, so there were stranger things to build a religion around.

“It is a profound enough phenomena to start one.” Skywalker turned from the cook-top and grinned at Mara. “Now can I offer you a trade, Trader Jade?” Mara narrowed her green eyes at Skywalker, but that didn’t dint her grin. “Hot meal for a hot shower?”

Mara blinked. “Are you serious?”

“That water is cold!” She pointed to the creek beyond the tent wall. “And it’s not a ration bar.”

It did smell good. And she guessed that Skywalker had decontaminated enough to be trusted on the Jade’s Fire. But was a hot meal worth letting Skywalker into her cabin? Well, Skywalker did finally explain what had happened. Mara could afford to be generous over that. “Fine, you have a deal.”

Skywalker’s grin returned before she turned back and divided the contents of the pan onto two plates. Mara accepted her plate and waited until Skywalker settled on the other stool before eating. It was a good meal, but her need to tease Skywalker still lingered. “If you would just invest in a decent ship instead of a decommissioned X-Wing and Lambda shuttles, you’d have a shower when you wanted one.”

“Artoo and I do just fine with the X-Wing. We don’t need anything bigger.”

“But if you had a real ship, you wouldn’t need a tent.”

“Hey! This is a nice tent. Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin gifted it to me.”

Mara tilted her head. “Why didn’t they get you one with a sonic shower compartment?”

She looked ruefully down at her plate. “They did. It didn’t fit in the X-Wing’s cargo compartment.”

Mara snorted with amusement. She couldn’t help it. The remainder of the meal lapsed into a companionable silence, the way it typically did when she was with Luke. And her contentment stayed in place until a glace at Skywalker’s different form would jar it out of place. It wasn’t Mara’s place to wail about an accident if Skywalker wasn’t bothered.

They finished the meal, dealt with the dishes, and moved into Jade’s Fire. Skywalker stopped short in the expanded main cabin. “I thought you had passenger cabins?”

“I took the interior walls down when I needed the room for a delivery.” She headed to the only cabin still sectioned off, the one closest to the cockpit. “And I haven’t had passengers since….” She trailed off trying to remember the amount of time.

Skywalker chuckled. “That long?”

“I’m in the black. Enjoy the shower.” She waved Skywalker inside before heading to the galley corner that still had a table and a couple of chairs. But she was having trouble concentrating on her financial reports. Disappointment with the situation kept creeping into her awareness. She rested the datapad on the table and shielded to examine it with privacy.

Skywalker was a female, by accident. Typical Skywalker crazy. He, no, she was characteristically cheerful about the outcome. Ridiculously cheerful, though Mara could count on one hand how often Skywalker displayed negative emotions. Was it just optimism or did it revel something she hadn’t recognized in him?

Had he always been unhappy with his body and just ignored that? She had always found his body aesthetically pleasing, muscularly lean with strong stances that could have been a dancer in another life. Half the fun of sparring with him was treating it like a dance. The other half was having all his attention focused on her.

But if it wasn’t he was finally at peace with his physical projection and her attitude was just typical Skywalker optimism that everything always turned out for the best, what if the change couldn’t be reversed? Skywalker hadn’t considered the negative, that’s why she commed. Mara was always reliable to find the downsides of any situation. Unfortunately, the downside that kept stealing Mara’s concentration was how much she’d miss Luke as a male.

Her cabin door slid open, and a mouth-watering smell wafted out with Skywalker. “Thanks for that. I feel human again.”

Heat was building in her body and she needed to get closer to the source of that smell. She stood up from the table. It smelled so good. She inhaled and followed that.

“Mara?” Skywalker was in front of her. Her blue eyes were narrowing with concern. “Are you all right?”

She didn’t want concern. The smell was Skywalker. She wanted Skywalker’s hands on her skin. She wanted the pulsing heat to explode. She wanted to taste Skywalker’s mouth. That one, she pressed against Skywalker and enveloped the soft lips with her own.

Skywalker stiffened. Mara? You want me?

Yes! She managed to project to Skywalker’s mind. And her mouth and muscles softened under Mara’s pressure as she pushed them both back into her cabin.

Mara let her hands roam as Skywalker’s hands caressed her back. She tugged the black undertunic free from Skywalker’s black trousers and ripped it from Skywalker’s body. Skywalker made a noise of protest in Mara’s mouth, but didn’t stop Mara from pushing them onto the cabin’s bed.


Her sated body didn’t want to listen to her sluggish mind. Why did she feel satisfied from enthusiastic sex? She wasn’t traveling with Lando and Skywalker was never interested in her sexually. And was female now.

But a muscular, slim arm was draped over her ribs.

Adrenaline shot through Mara. There was no way. This was a nightmare. She was not naked in her cabin with a naked woman spooning against her back. There was no way this was real.

A nose nuzzled against her neck. “Mara? What’s wrong?”

Mara jumped up and only stopped from all-out bolting because she never ran from a threat. The flat sheet traveled with her and she used the spin to wrap it around her body. Now covered, she faced the threat.

Skywalker’s tawny nude female body stretched out on her bed. Her sleepy face blinking awake and concerned under tousled blonde hair. “What’s wrong?” she asked again.

“We had sex!” Mara blurted out before she could stop herself.

The leer on Skywalker’s face was not comforting. “We did!” The grin slipped away. “What’s wrong?”

Mara shook her head unable to verbalize how having sex when Skywalker wasn’t male was the wrongest thing she could contemplate right now. How the hell had it happened? “What did you do?!”

“If that’s an implication that I used the Force to withdraw your consent, I didn’t do that.” Skywalker slid out of the bed and snatched the black undertunic off the floor. “You tore this off of me, Mara.” She shook the fabric at her.

Mara couldn’t deny that she had. She remembered. “I do not accost people when they leave a ‘fresher. And I had no intentions of doing it before you went into the ‘fresher.” A niggling suspicion was slithering through her brain. “Did you mess with any of my toiletries?”

Skywalker slid on her pants. “I tried on your perfume.”

“My perfume?” But Mara didn’t own any perfume. So had Skywalker…?

“Leia always said her nose was better than Han’s or mine, so I sniffed all the bottles to see if there’s a difference now. It smelled so good; I didn’t use much of it.”

“Oh no!” Mara twisted the sheet tighter under her arm and marched into the fresher. The clear and sapphire vial now sat front and center on the spill-proof shielded shelf in the wall. She plucked it from the cleansers and hair treatment bottles surrounding it. The small, curved vial fit into her hand and she could see the level of liquid was still near the applicator top. “This isn’t perfume; it’s Rhododendron essential oil.”

Mara turned to show the vial to Skywalker. The blonde in the ‘fresher door crossed her arms over her chest smashing her mammaries together into impressive cleavage. “Isn’t that on every planet’s contraband list?” The disapproval was heavy in the Force.

“For what just happened to us, yes. It’s Lando’s.”

Invoking their mutual friend’s name only made the disapproval heavier. “Lando needs to drug you in your relationship.”

She wanted to pinch her nose or rub her temples to ward off this oncoming headache, but she didn’t have a free hand. “It’s CARGO. Lando asked me to deliver it to a Ho’Din researcher on Randon, and yes I am smuggling it so you can be self righteous about that too!”

Skywalker’s disapproval vanished behind her mental shield. “This was the favor you mentioned.” Something crossed her face, but Mara couldn’t identify it before Jedi stoicism froze her features. “How can I make amends?”

“Amends?”

“You didn’t intend for us to have sex and I did alter your consent. Apologizing doesn’t seem like enough.”

“It was an accident.” Mara set the vial back on the shelf.

Anger cracked Skywalker’s shield and hardened her features. “That does not excuse what I did.”

She felt overwhelmed by the whole scenario. “Can we not do this right now?” If ever. The last thing she wanted to explain was her disappointment with this situation.

Skywalker pulled the undertunic on, tying the edges together without looking at Mara. “I knew something was wrong. I should’ve stopped it.”

“It was an accident. It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters! I hurt you.”

“What do you want me to do, punch you?” Mara shook her head. “Just let it go.”

“Let go hurting you?!” Skywalker’s face blanched.

Mara snorted. “You’ve hurt me worse sparring with me. Just go to bed.”

Skywalker opened her mouth, didn’t say anything, and closed it tightly. She grabbed her boots and marched out the door. The entry hatch closed behind her.

Mara sighed. It would be better in the morning. After they both sleep, Skywalker would see she was being ridiculous about an accident and they could go back to being friends. Mara turned off the lights and settled back into her bed. When Skywalker was in a calmer mood, Mara could suggest asking Lando’s Ho’Din friend to study the plants. The New Republic would probably approve of that too.

What sleep she got was uneasy. Mara ended up stumbling into the shower shortly after local dawn and then stumbling to the caf distiller next. Skywalker was always an obnoxiously early riser, so Mara might as well deal with the issue so they can move on. But she wasn’t doing that without a cup of caf to fuel her brain and her patience.

She observed the area from the entry ramp of Jade’s Fire after she finished her caf. The sun streamed from the rear of the ships, promising a sunny day. The tent door was slid shut, but she heard beeps and whistles echoing off the metal and stone. The droid wasn’t in the X-Wing. She looked toward the temple ruins first.

There it was rocking on its legs in front of the pile of crumbled stones. Mara felt her stomach drop. Skywalker would not be that stupid, oh she KNEW that was futile hope. She reached out with the Force as she crossed the grassy space. Skywalker was inside, a steady presence but lulled like the user was asleep.

She stopped next to the astromech droid. “Skywalker went back in there?”

The droid wailed an affirmative answer in Binary.

“Shavit.” She stared up the mound of stones to the hole at the top. Should she go in after Skywalker? How to keep the plants from snapping her up in a sex-changing pod? She didn’t have chemicals on board that could create a weed killer. Maybe she could suit up like she was going to hit vacuum and that would be enough protection?

She took a deep breath. “Skywalker is alive in there,” she told the worried droid. “I’m going to put on some gear and go after him, her, whoever.” She spun from the temple and sprinted to the Jade’s Fire. She kept that equipment in a compartment next to the entry hatch.

The vacuum-suit slid over her flight suit and boots without issue. She strapped the gloves around her wrists, sealing that seam against leaks. The droid wailed against outside, doing a great impression of an incoming alert. Mara craned her head out the ship and heard rocks sliding down. She snatched a breath mask off the wall compartment and ran back to the temple.

The droid was rolling around a crumpled figure at the base of the crumbled stone, still wailing. Luke Skywalker rolled onto his back before she grabbed him. And it was him, the face she knew so well covered in a milky substance.

“Don’t touch me!” He yelled as he struggled up. Then his blue eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped back to the ground.

She really didn’t want to touch him covered with whatever he was coated in plastering his hair and clothes to his body. She looked at the droid that was rocking again. “Is this how he exited the last time he went?”

The droid whistled affirmatively.

“Shavit.” It made sense that the sap could alter her, unless it was a combination reaction and needed the interior of the pods. Regardless, it would be best to get it off of him as soon as possible.

The burbling churning of the water intruded into her thoughts and she turned her head in the direction of the water. The creek was closer than his tent. And it wasn’t his first bath in it. Now to get him to it.

She caught hold of him with the Force and lifted. He rose a few centimeters into the air, but she couldn’t shift his horizontal direction. Shavit, she needed to add moving things with the Force to her daily exercise routine because this was pathetic. She attached the breath mask to her belt while keeping him in the air, grabbed under his arms, and pulled toward the creek.

The droid chattered at her as it rolled along side Luke.

“I don’t know Binary.” Mara stepped back carefully, watching her step from her curled over upside down view. “So if putting him in the water is bad from his first go around with this, just say yes.”

It remained silent.

“One less thing to worry about.” The flow of the water was louder now. Her next step back splashed into the water. She set him down before putting her other foot in the water. It flowed briskly around her calves. She scooped up some in her gloved hands and poured it onto Luke’s face.

He didn’t wake up.

Mara rubbed the sap away from his mouth and nose before slipping the facial mask over them, making sure it was secured around his head and the cannister was secured to her belt. She grabbed under his arms again and pulled with her entire body.

Luke made a satisfying splash into the creek. He sank under the surface, but the current pulled him toward the small waterfall over the outcrop. Getting him battered against the rocks wasn’t part of her plan. Mara planted her feet on either side of his chest, catching his arms with her legs. He stopped bobbing toward the danger. The air cannister was pumping air down the hose to him. She sighed and bent her back to stretch.

The droid moaned worriedly again.

She looked back down at Luke. He was still passed out, but his hair was beginning to drift in the current. “Great, the sap is coming off him.” She looked over at the fretting droid. “You can fetch some cleanser or anchor him in the water.”

It squawked at her, but rolled to the tent. It only took a few minutes to return, clutching a bottle in its gripper arm. She concentrated on rubbing the cleanser onto Luke’s exposed flesh, which wasn’t as titillating as it should be with him unconscious and her mostly suited up for vacuum.

“Okay, that’s as clean as he going to get out here like this.” She tossed the cleanser bottle onto the grassy bank. “There’s a repulsorlift pallet on my ship. Can you get it over here?”

Artoo made the same electronic squawk at her again, but rolled across the grass to her ship. It didn’t take long before it headed back out with the meter-square repulsorlift pallet that she used to shift her cargo trailing along after the astromech. She finally leveraged the water-logged Jedi Master onto the pallet so only his legs and arms dangled off. Getting him on board Jade’s Fire was a cinch compared to getting him into the creek.

She pulled out a spare blanket to dry him with and more cleanser from her ‘fresher. She set those supplies down on the galley table before she went back to the ‘fresher. She snatched up the vial of Rhododendron essential oil and locked it up in her weapons storage locker after removing her set of binders. She tossed them onto her bunk for later and turned back to finishing cleaning the Jedi Master.

The droid had stopped rocking at least, even though it watched everything she did. It stayed silent though and she ignored it as she undressed Luke. The transformation hadn’t affected the golden tan of his skin and she didn’t find any lingering traces of the sap. She had no idea if it had enhanced his penis, but Luke had nothing to be embarrassed about now. And she was going to ignore how hot her face turned thinking about what was missed out on last night.

The droid parked itself out of the way in the corner of her cabin as she shifted Luke from the pallet to the bed. Then she dug in her storage cabinet, she was sure she stashed it here after the last time, found it! She triumphantly pulled out the magnetic hook, attached it to the wall at the head of the bed, snapped the binders around Luke’s wrists, secured them to the hook, and then covered him with the blanket.

Artoo whistled at her.

“Hopefully that will slow him down long enough for you to call for help if I’m not here. Now I’m cleaning up and getting another caf.”

Luke clothes and her vacuum-suit went into the incinerator just in case. Then she went into Luke’s tent and found clean clothes. She brought them back to Jade’s Fire and set the caf distiller for Javarican Espresso. She deserved it after all this.

She looked into her cabin as she sipped the stronger brew. Luke was still unconscious and he looked good stretched out on her bed with his arms framing his head. His body shifted on the mattress and she slammed her mental shields as she gulped her hot drink. That’s why her face was flushed.

He blinked as he came awake. The binders clinked against the magnetic hook, and he rolled his head back to look at the sound.

She made sure her urge to lick his straining neck was behind her shields.

“We didn’t discuss this.” His voice croaked slightly, needing water. His legs stirred under the blanket, but he stopped as he lifted his head to look at her. “I would remember discussing this.”

Discussion not had sparked her smoldering anger that had been banked since she saw his crumpled form. “You sure didn’t discuss going back to the plant-based body mod with me either.” He winced. “That,” she waved her hand at the binders, “is to slow you down from doing something else stupid.”

He dropped his head against the mattress. “I thought it’d be better for you.”

The droid offered an electronic buzz in commentary. Oh good, it was on her side this once.

“Explain.”

He stared up at the ceiling. “I hurt you. Don’t argue that I didn’t. I thought that it might offer you more peace of mind if I transformed back.”

Mara found a clear spot on her decorative ledge for her caf mug and then crossed her arms. “And your desire for castigation played no part in your decision? And that you think me so hard and bitter that I can’t give forgiveness for an accident?”

His head popped back up to stare at her. “I don’t! I never have.”

“But you do think you deserve to be punished.”

He didn’t try to hide his chagrin before dropping his head back on the mattress again. “I do deserve it. Hurting you was the last thing I ever wanted to do.”

She marched to the side of the bed, so he couldn’t avoid her gaze. “For the last time, Skywalker, you did not hurt me, not with accidental sex. What hurts is you comming me for my help and then skipping into danger without it. And your droid told you it was a bad idea too.”

Artoo agreed with an emphatic series of beeps.

Mara continued. “I hate it when you act like an idiot with your health and well-being.”

“You’re right. I should have talked to you.” He looked her in the eyes. “And you helped me regardless.”

The droid whistled something and ended it with beeps like laughter.

Luke raised his eyebrows. “You put me in the creek?”

“I really thought that would’ve woken you up.” She sat on the edge of the bed against his blanket-covered hip. “But you were determined to prove me wrong. You owe me a vacuum-suit. I incinerated it just to be safe. And your clothes.”

A flush spread across his cheeks. “That was overzealous of you. But you didn’t know that and that’s my fault,” he added in a rush before she said anything. “It’s disconcerting and alarming, but once you’re out of the pod, the process is finished. The sap dries sticky though.”

“Can we get the plants studied by someone with a degree in botany before you open Anzat to travel?”

“Seems prudent.” He grinned at her.

She couldn’t return it. And he still hadn’t bothered to unfasten the binders with the Force. “May I ask you something personal?”

“Of course.”

No hesitation at all. The least she could do was not to drag it out. “You have been very Jedi about this whole experience. Have you been hiding some body dissatisfaction from everyone?”

“No, I haven’t.” His thoughtful smile wasn’t as bright as his grin, but it’s still full of light. “I’m curious about the differences, how far do they go. Leia and I could have been identical twins instead. A perfect opportunity to explore that. I was still me in the Force.” His smile faltered. “Altering the crude matter bothered you.”

“The matter is crude, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. We are luminous beings in the Force, but we can’t interact with anything without the crude matter. We need a balance of both.”

He mulled that over so hard he was blushing again. “That’s true, and I wasn’t focusing on that. But I still had both, and you didn’t like me as a girl?”

“I prefer your crude matter like this, Luke.” Oh shavit! What did she admit to? Find a distraction before the heat on her cheeks matched the red of her hair. “Let’s get you out of those.” She reached for the binders.

The Force gently pressed like a hand against her cheek. Her eyes locked onto Luke’s dilated eyes as she hovered over him. He raised his head and kissed her.

And Mara followed his head back down rather than end that kiss.

The End



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