Commander Corran Horn, Rogue Squadron pilot and occasional Jedi Knight, grunted as he hit the floor and groaned as he felt his lightsaber leave his hand and roll away. "What I wouldn't give for a good set of telekinesis skills right now."
"Horn," Mara Jade said dryly, "you're getting lazy. Just stand up, walk over, and get it."
Corran eyed her warily. "No, I think I'll stay over here. Away from you and that nice lightsaber you're holding."
Mara glare at him and began advancing slowly on the pilot, who was still lying on the floor. Luke Skywalker, who until that moment had been doubled over in laughter, chose to interfere, knowing that despite her status as Jedi and her decision not to kill him, Mara Jade still very much had a temper.
"Mara," the Jedi Master said as her moved to intercept her. Mara gave him her best innocent look (which reminded him way too much of Han's for his own comfort), picked up Corran's lightsaber, and walked it over to him. Smiling sweetly, she offered him a hand up as well as his sword. Still wary, he accepted his lightsaber just as General Wedge Antilles, Colonel Tycho Celchu, and Majors Wes Janson and Hobbie Klivian walked into the exercise room. Wedge and Tycho were looking very amused at the discussion Hobbie and Wes were having.
"I'm telling you, Hobbie, the cracker moved," Wes insisted. Luke, Mara, and Corran all looked at one another. Finally, Corran sighed.
"OK, I'll bite. How did the cracker move?"
Wes grinned. "When you put a cracker down on a flat surface and spray cheese-in-a-can on it without holding it down, the cracker moves."
"Is this a bad time to mention that I think the cheese has slipped off the cracker?" Corran's voice was mild.
"Ahem." All heads turned towards Wedge. "Luke, your sister told me to tell you that she wants to see you, and Corran, I need to talk to you, so if you could maybe have Mara help you up off the floor..." Wedge trailed off with a smirk.
"I'm never going to hear the end of this," Corran muttered as he stood up. "Never, never, never."
* * *
"Luke." Leia greeted him warmly as he walked in the door to her office. "I need you to do something for me."
Luke blinked. His sister usually used more diplomacy and dancing around the issue before telling him she needed him to do something. He sat down warily. This could be bad, he thought. "What's that?" he asked aloud.
"There's a system in the Outer Rim that doesn't like that the Empire made peace with Rebel scum. They're, ah, protesting."
"Yes, technically, what they are doing is protesting."
"It's a little violent."
"I'm sending you, Han, and Rogue Squadron."
"You're sending your husband and the most feared fighter squadron in the galaxy. I hope you're not expecting much diplomacy."
"You can be diplomatic."
"Luke-" Leia began.
Luke sighed. "How long?"
"A couple of weeks." Leia shrugged. A couple of weeks, Luke thought. Mara's going to be thrilled.
* * *
"No. No way. Absolutely not. Tell her no. What does she need you there for anyway?" Yep. Thrilled as can be.
"A calming influence," Luke guessed.
"Skywalker, in case you've forgotten, people end up rescuing you from bad situations a great deal. Trust me. I speak from experience."
"Yes, but compared to Han and most of the members of Rogue Squadron, I'm a calm, rational, mild-tempered being."
"True," Mara admitted reluctantly. "Though that isn't saying much."
"And don't you have to train Shada to be Karrde's second-in-command after you leave?"
"Yes," Mara growled. He was being calm, rational, and mild-tempered. Blast him. He was Skywalker; he was idealistic. She was practical; he had said so himself. Mara sighed. "You are not to get into any trouble at all, understand?"
"With the Rogues and Han there?"
"None, Skywalker." Mara scowled.
* * *
"Mara, I think you should go to the Outer Rim with Solo, Skywalker, and Rogue Squadron." Mara just stared at her boss. This is just some big cosmic joke that's being played on me, Mara decided.
"Karrde, I don't know if that's such a good idea. I have to train Shada to take over for me, and I just spent gods know how many days with Skywalker in a cave."
"It's a big ship, Mara. I'm sure you'll be able to avoid the Jedi Master," Karrde informed her dryly.
Mara scowled her soon-to-be-former employer. "You're doing this to get back at me for leaving, aren't you?"
"Now, would I do that?"
* * *
Three days later, Mara and Luke got ready to board the ship that would take them to the Outer Rim. "Relax, Mara." "Your sister is going to kill us when she finds out we didn't tell her immediately." "Yeah." "How do you feel about eloping, and telling her about everything after we're married?"
"Didn't Corran and Mirax try that?" "More or less." "And how did it work for them?"
"They're still married."
* * *
"You know, I've got a bad feeling about this," Hobbie commented once everyone was joined later that evening.
"Just because this is never going to work is no reason to get pessimistic," Han replied. "Do we even have a plan?"
Wes shrugged. "I'm not even sure what we're supposed to be doing."
"What was that someone said about pessimism?" Mara muttered.
"We are going to stop the riots on the planet because the planet is technically a member of the New Republic, and then we are headed home." Wedge's voice was firm and official-sounding.
"To Iella," Tycho added with a grin. Wedge looked pained.
"Look at it this way," Wes said with a wicked grin. "We could have the Wraiths with us. Now wouldn't that be fun?"
"Yes," Wedge scowled at him. "Fun. Sure. How much longer until we reach the planet?"
"A few days probably," Luke answered.
Wedge looked at him pleadingly. "Oh, just shoot me now."
"Anyone know the name of the planet we're supposed to be heroically rescuing from riots?" Mara looked around the room.
"Not a clue."
Mara nodded at the resounding chorus that seemed to echo through the room. "Oh, yes, I feel much better about this. I'll be in the exercise room if you need me."
Later, Luke found her deflecting remote bolts with her lightsaber. He walked in, all the while watching her easily combat the remote, and decided to make her an offer. "Want some live competition?"
Mara looked at him. "You're not afraid of hitting the floor too hard?" Luke just smirked. Mara shrugged. "Why not?"
Slightly over an hour later, both were drenched in sweat and collapsed on the floor next to each other. "See?" Luke gasped for breath. "If you hadn't come, then I would've had to do this against Corran, who's busy being fascinated with cheese and crackers right now, or the remote, which isn't nearly as good-looking as you."
"Flattery will get you everywhere."
"And here I thought it was my exceedingly romantic proposal."
"Well, at least Karrde managed to talk me into it. Could you imagine what he would think if I had agreed to go without a fight?"
"Karrde's rather perceptive. He may have guessed already. Plus, we don't have to worry about Karrde giving away the information for free."
"But then he would have proof."
"You know I'm right Skywalker. Me agreeing to go with you easily? I can just see it now. Karrde asks why, and I tell him I enjoy your company."
"You enjoy my company?" Luke grinned.
"He would have me committed."
"Did you think I would have agreed to marry you if I didn't?" A cough sounded from behind them, and both Luke and Mara whirled around to find Corran standing in the doorway, smirking at them. He turned and walked out of the exercise room, leaving an astonished Luke and Mara behind. After a moment, Mara leapt up and chased after him, shouting, "Corran Horn, get back here right now!"
Luke followed a few steps behind. "Mara, it was only a matter of time before they found out."
"Fine, you can explain to your sister why she wasn't the first one to find out."
* * *
"Han, by any chance is anything going on between Luke and Mara?"
The ex-smuggler looked suspiciously at the ex-CorSec officer. "Why, are they back to wanting to kill each other?"
"Well, that depends. Leia frequently has the desired to kill you, right?"
"Only in the most dire of circumstances. Usually she just threatens bodily harm. Why?"
"Well, I'd say Luke and Mara are oscillating between wanting to kill each other, and, um, the exact opposite."
"Corran!" Mara Jade's distinctive shout echoed through the ship as she entered the room, with Luke close behind her. Grinning, everyone in the room turned to look at them. Mara scowled at them all.
"Um, Mara and I are engaged." Everyone jumped up to offer congratulations.
"Horn, don't think this means I'm not furious."
"Of course not, Jade."
* * *
A couple of days later, they landed on the planet, whose name remained a mystery. Within a day, they had the riots settled and were ready to head back. The natives insisted on providing them with gifts in thanks for quelling the riots. "Snakes," Han moaned. "Why did it have to be snakes?"
Luke grinned and clapped Han on the shoulder. "Just think of how happy Jacen will be."
"Yes, but now I have to find something for Jaina and Anakin. Where's Mara?"
"In her room. Why?"
"I just wanted to see if I could bug you about the engagement without her hearing." Han grinned. "Kid, your sister's going to kill you."
Luke stared at him. "Have you and Mara been talking about this?"
* * *
While the group traveled back to Coruscant, Leia received word about Luke and Mara's engagement. When the two stepped off the ship, Leia Organa Solo was waiting for them, looking as intimidating as a sister who wasn't told about her brother's engagement. "You two were engaged?! And you didn't even tell me?! I can't believe it! How long?"
"Um, Leia, we really wanted to tell you, but you were so busy..."
"Busy?! Too busy for this?! You should have told me! I can't believe you two!" Leia turned and walked away, clearly expecting Luke and Mara to follow her. Which they did, but not before Han grabbed Luke and pulled him to the side. "Next time, kid, just listen to Mara. It'll save you a lot of trouble in the future, believe me." Han winked and watched as his brother-in-law and his brother-in-law's future wife reluctantly follow Leia.