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Common Thread

Chapter Text

“I’m worried about losing my job!” his captain said, looking around furtively.

Her long hair had already escaped the careful confines of the Imperial regulation bun, tight at the base of her head.

Luke ignored her, ripping open the officer’s tunic that was hiding her ivory skin from his eyes. It was dark in the supply closet but it wasn’t the first time he’d cornered his incredibly sexy boss there.

“I’m serious,” she protested, already threading her hands through his hair as Luke lowered his lips to the inner curves of her breasts, running his tongue along the exposed flesh. She pushed at him with both hands.


“We’ve been over this,” Luke said with a sigh, sliding a leg between her knees, pushing her hard against the only wall not covered in shelving. His superior officer sighed at the pressure against her crotch, reflexively grinding against his thigh.


Luke didn’t answer, just tweaked a nipple none-too-gently through the fabric of her bra. His captain responded with a moan.

“If they find out…”

“You’ll find another job,” Luke grinned, unfastening his pants as her hands start to slide down from his hair to his tunic, working the annoying clasps.


He kissed her, swallowing the rest of her sentence. It was part of the fun, after all, in fucking your squad’s captain--the danger of getting caught. But she was about to get loud, and that would take it from thrilling possibility into very real non-judicial punishment and demotion/expulsion territory. Forbidden kisses were the best, they had both discovered and…

A loud banging on the door. What?!

“Luke, wake up!” It was Wedge’s annoyed voice. “Your shift started twenty minutes ago.”

With a groan to hide the flush of embarrassment, Luke rolled out of his bunk and reached for his Rogue uniform.

Why couldn’t all Imperials be like the ones in his dreams?

Chapter Text

He was on his feet in an instant. The groaning, protesting gate opposite his position certain to reveal something spectacular and potentially lethal. So fixated on the lumbering monstrosity, Luke almost didn’t hear the whisper from behind him.


He turned around and jumped quickly between the dank wall and an enormous pile of bones.

It was a Twi’lek, dressed as a dancer. If he hadn’t been distracted by the roaring of the rancor and the shaking of the earth, Luke might have had time to notice she was also pretty. As it was, he just ducked next to her, trying to think. There were no obvious weapons around.

The woman’s hand yanked him lower. “He can’t see well, but he can smell. Stay here. He prefers fresh meat.”

The dust from the decaying bones and the smell of rotting carrion stung his eyes. Luke wiped at them, trying to focus.

“It’s OK to cry,” she said softly.

Embarrassed but not wanting to take time to correct her, Luke grabbed the largest bone he could see—some unfortunate creature’s femur. It looked like a toothpick compared to the size of the thing that wanted to eat them, but he didn’t have a better option right now.

“Get away if you can,” Luke jerked his head in the direction of the open gate through which the rancor had entered. “I’ll distract it.”

“Kiss me for luck, handsome,” she said.

His embarrassment increased. It was stupid to blush at this most inopportune time, but as before Luke decided not to take time to argue. He leaned over quickly, placed a shy kiss at the corner of her dark red lips, and then leapt over the top of the pile, running towards death or victory.

Chapter Text

“So…” Mara whispered as Luke planted another kiss on her lips, “then what happened?”

He was either ignoring her or pretending not to hear as his mouth travelled along her jawline, over to her neck, nuzzling in that spot she liked. He reminded her of an affectionate tooka.

“Tell me…” she said, volume slightly louder. He couldn’t pretend not to hear. Luke trailed a line of kisses from her ear down her neck, using her pulsing artery like a roadmap to her collarbone.

“You don’t want to hear about it,” Luke replied, his tongue retracing the path back up to her jaw, lips stopping her from further query. But he’d underestimated his wife, who took his face in her hands and broke the kiss with a purpose.

“I do want to know.” She was not easily distracted. Luke surrendered with a sigh.

“And then she said “I’ve had enough! I want to be alone!”"

Mara blinked once as if processing that information and then burst into laughter, enjoying Luke’s embarrassment at her reaction.

“See, I knew you’d laugh,” he muttered. “I was nervous.”

“I don’t care, husband,” she smiled, pushing his shoulders firmly to lower his head into the best position to prove her point. “You’ve obviously gotten a lot better at oral pleasure since that first time.”

Chapter Text


Leia gave him that look, the one that said denial was about as useful as explaining fair play to a Hutt.


His tone was equally stubborn. They were twins, after all, and Skywalkers weren’t exactly known for backing down from anything.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. At the banquet, you two. The way you looked at each other. I could feel it.”

A small smile was the only response he offered.

“You’re my brother. If something’s going on, you can tell me.”

“Nothing’s going on, Leia.” He could feel her doubt. “Search your feelings. I will not lie to you.” Another upwards tilt of his lips, as if he’d just told her a secret.

With a sigh, Leia stood up and planted a sisterly kiss on his nose. Not the tip, on the little bend above it.

“Fine, nothing’s going on NOW, Luke. I may be an idiot, but I’m not stupid. That doesn’t mean something didn’t go on before.” She shrugged. “And no one would mind if it continued. Especially me.”

She walked out with her typical regal comportment. Luke looked at the door for a long moment, then reached for his comm.

Chapter Text

Luke pounded the last grains off the ancient vaporator with a grimace. The lubricant was necessarily greasy, attracting the abrasive vomit that the desert was happy to blow into moving parts. He glanced at the setting suns. It was just as well he’d managed to finish while it was still light out.

Not the way he had planned to spend his birthday. But Uncle Owen had rolled his eyes and delivered one of his snappy proverbs about work and time, and that was the end of that discussion.

Kurī panted softly at his feet. He looked down at the tiny dog—a birthday gift from his aunt—and laughed as it snuffled its black nose in the sand. Although he’d never had a burning desire for a pet, the fact that his uncle was so obviously against the idea was enough for Luke to be completely on board with it. And Kurī had turned out to be pretty good company on this maintenance trek around the farm. He padded along happily and didn’t complain or nag. Excellent traits, to Luke’s way of thinking.

“Luke! Dinner!”

They were far away but Aunt Beru’s voice carried easily in the Jundland Wastes.

“Coming!” he yelled back, setting off at a jog. Kurī kept pace, and soon they were descending the steps into the homestead.

His uncle was waiting in the courtyard. Holding a small bowl. Luke raised an eyebrow, surprised, as Owen thrust it at him.

“Here, for the dog. You make him kibble from Hubba husks and mushrooms from now on. Mash it with bantha milk until he’s got all his teeth.”

“His name’s Kurī,” Luke reminded him, taking the bowl. “Thanks.”

“So feed Kurī,” Owen relented, “and get cleaned up. Your aunt made supper special tonight.”

The teenager grinned and set the bowl down in front of sand-covered paws before heading to his room to wash.

After dinner and birthday cake, Luke went back to the courtyard. The puppy was lying down, tongue hanging out. The bowl was still full.

“You haven’t even touched your food. What’s going on?”

Aunt Beru came out, wiping her hands on her apron.

“He’s a pono hound, Luke. Didn’t you read the datacard I gave you this morning?” He hadn’t had time, too many chores, but his aunt probably guessed at the answer. “They only eat after they’ve seen their masters eat. You get priority.”

“That’s crazy!” Luke exclaimed. She laughed and disappeared for a moment as he pet the dog, feeling guilty that it was hungry because of him. A minute later, Beru was back.

“I think you can have an extra piece of cake tonight,” she winked, “for Kurī’s sake.”

“Thank you!” He squatted and took a big bite, making sure it was in full view of the puppy’s brown eyes. Immediately, the dog started eating. Luke saved a small piece of cake, and when the bowl was empty, he offered it to Kurī. The dog ate it quickly, and then leapt at Luke’s face, covering it with kisses and knocking him off his feet.

“I think he likes me,” Luke said, laughing.

“That’s puppy love, Luke,” smiled Beru. “Unconditional and true.”

Chapter Text

Mara was sulking again. Luke loved her madly, but she really needed to stop taking everything so seriously. He walked over to the sofa, deliberately sitting so close as to smush her into the armrest.

“Hey!” she shoved him away, clearly absorbed by her own bad mood.

“Hey yourself!” Luke leaned over and dared a kiss on her neck.

Mara sighed, as if his lips were something to suffer.

“Stop being grumpy. It’s lame.”

Luke hadn’t really expected her to instantly snap out of it, but Mara burst into laughter, a real smile lightening her face as she turned towards him.

Lame?” she quoted back at him, incredulous. “Were you born during the Old Republic, Master Skywalker? Seriously lame.”

Her strong hands pushed his shoulders firmly and Luke grinned. He could accommodate this change in mood. He slid back to lie down on the cushions.

“What’s wrong with 'lame'?” Luke mock-protested. He was ready to roll with it, if teasing his dated Outer Rim slang was going to bring Mara out of her funk. Mara laughed again, straddling his prone form as he continued. “It’s a totally hip thang, baby, all the chicks are digging on it.”

Green eyes rolled dramatically as his wife started tugging his shirt out of his pants, bending to kiss a path down his chest as she worked.

“I’m going to have to kriff you to stop hearing these stupid words now, aren’t I, Skywalker?”

“Don’t be a drag, sugar—” She cut him off with another kiss and yanked her own shirt off.

“Zip it, spaz, or no hanky panky.”

Now it was Luke’s turn to lose it, laughing so hard he was shaking beneath her. He’d never heard Mara talk like that. But as she sat up with a glare, he took her threat seriously. Lips were pressed closed, the invisible zipper secured, the invisible key thrown away, with only the very visible sense of happiness remaining on the Jedi’s face.

Chapter Text

The sound of enemy pursuit was still audible. Mara raced around another corner in the crowded marketplace, furious at herself. She was known for her stealth. How could she have already blown it? Deldex, the Falleen lackey that was her contact, had tried a very unprofessional move. Those guys all thought they were irresistible, and she should have known that Xizor, a long time cohort of Durga, would enjoy blackmailing or humiliating the Emperor’s Hand if she’d fallen for it.

Mara sighed. Another black mark on her record. She should have killed him, not just broken his arm—at least that way her lapse wouldn’t be reported.

Well, there was still time to rectify that mistake.

Mara ducked into a performer’s supply tent, brimming with glittering capes and all manner of horribly garish costumes—things popular with beings as unsubtle as the Hutts on this planet. And the last type of clothing her pursuer would expect her to don to escape notice. Quickly swiping a Sarlacc-pink shimmersilk robe sparkling with sequins, she belted it over her tight flightsuit and ducked back out before she was noticed.

Stealth. See? She could do it when she wasn’t being groped by a stinking piece of slimesucking Falleen filth in princely clothes.

Back in the sandy streets. Mara had miscalculated. Deldex had turned the corner but not noticed her yet, his eyes darting to and fro, checking the side kiosks. Quickly Mara pulled up the hood on the robe and called out in a sing-song, heavily accented Outer Rim voice to the back of a young man perusing power converters at the stall across the way.

“Leslie! My darling tooka! I didn’t expect to see you here!”

He spun around at the touch on his shoulder. Mara’s breath caught and heart seized at the carelessly good-looking stranger she’d targeted. He wore white, like most people at Tosche Station, the color an armor in the desert heat. His eyes were an innocent, perfect blue, and he radiated something sweet. Something virtuous.

Mara gave herself a mental slap, then slammed her lips into those of her convenient, handsome distraction.

Deldex was still coming down the alley.

Clutching surprisingly strong shoulders, Mara hooked her right leg around the young man’s left, her hands sliding up and inside his loose-fitting shirt. He tasted like sunlight, she thought, a welcoming heat that came from within and had nothing to do with the scorching temperatures on this planet.

Dry lips pressed hers, but his hands pushed gently against her shoulders, separating their mouths at the worst possible moment. He’d knock her hood off just as Deldex was behind them if he kept that up.

“I’m sorry, are you sure you—”

Mara crashed her lips into his again, throwing all her skills into the kiss. This guy needed to shut up long enough for her thwarted attacker to pass them by, and…

She ran her fingers through soft blond hair, her nails trailing down the back of his neck. Her breasts pushed hard into his chest as she opened to him, teasing his tongue, inviting him to forget everything but the kiss.

It worked, at least long enough for her purposes. Strong calloused hands framed her face, his hips pressing into hers as he shifted, moving so she was pinned against the table he’d been browsing. Mara closed her eyes tighter, suddenly not wanting to stop. There was something exciting and somehow comfortable about this, the way he touched her, the feel of his hands sliding down her ribs to tug her waist flush against him. His kiss had started hesitant but had evolved into something confident and serious, and she thought she could happily be kissed like this forever—deep and strong and demanding more. She licked the roof of his mouth, simply wanting to taste each part of him, and then his hands did push down the hood, running through her hair. Mara moaned into the kiss, feeling a foreign and wonderful tightness between her legs. What was she—

Shavit. She was on a mission. She had to kill Deldex or be punished for the lapse with her contact—for allowing her sex to make her a target, or worse, for not eliminating a threat once it was known. She would not be punished.

It was harder than she thought to disengage, her leg leaving his hip, her hands lifting from his sun-bronzed skin. Lastly, Mara turned her head away, breaking the kiss with an almost physical regret. A sudden pain in her stomach gripped her, a frightening tightness squeezed her chest as she glided from where she’d been caught between him and the table.

“My name isn’t Leslie…who’s Leslie?”

He sounded dazed, rough hand catching hers in question as she moved away.

“My mistake,” Mara muttered, avoiding his eyes and pulling free of his fingers. She didn’t trust herself to not return to this stranger’s embrace if she stayed here any longer. That distracting kiss had felt illogically, unreasonably, preposterously good. Everything about him felt good.

She jerked the hood back over her hair, dyed black today, and without another word, darted after Deldex. As she ran she reached for a vibroblade. Quick and quiet, that was the type of assassination this situation called for.

“My name’s Luke…” the man called halfheartedly after her, knowing she wouldn’t hear. He’d convince himself it had been a sunstroke-induced dream by tomorrow. No real kiss could ever be that perfect.

Chapter Text

She’d killed more vornskrs than Luke could count. Over and over, saving his life, refusing to sleep, those gorgeous eyes glaring at him, lambent with hatred.

“You destroyed my life,” she had informed him, the words laced with venom. “It’s only fair that I destroy yours.”

Only fair, Luke repeated to himself. Mara Jade could easily make good on her threat. He was at her mercy, yet somehow still alive.

As they traversed Myrkr’s endless forest, he meditated on it. Even without the Force, Luke found calming his thoughts still helped center his mind.

Maybe it was wishful thinking, but he liked to pretend that he wasn’t quite the demon she saw each time he caught her staring. Whatever he’d done to her personally—and it was true he’d destroyed many, many lives—Mara evidently didn’t want simple revenge. That haughty, superior expression she wore so well was too practiced to reflect her true self. The way her breathing changed and voice trembled the first time she threatened him sounded too uncertain to come from a heartless killer.

Lost amongst his thoughts, Luke never had a chance to sense the shock field before Mara walked into it. Without the Force to warn him, or roving eyes searching for the tell-tale shimmer of a well-maintained energy barrier, she had slammed right into the invisible fence. The power of the surge blasted Mara backwards, the smell of electrical burning worse than the sound of sizzling as the tips of her hair singed.

Luke had been close, but she was thrown far, and he ran to her side, pushing away violent memories summoned by the smell, the sound. She was unconscious. Pulse erratic. Not breathing.

The movements had been drilled into him. Thought was completely unnecessary. Clear the airway, clamp the nostrils, seal the lips, breathe. And breathe. And breathe.

She responded on his fourteenth breath, lips moving against his, warm air from her exhale drifting across his face as Luke pulled back. He couldn’t help but smile at her recovery, sitting back on booted heels, elated. Accusing eyes opened, found him, narrowed.

“Something funny?”

Already Mara was trying to sit up, checking that he hadn’t tried to take her blaster or retrieve his lightsaber from her belt. Still there. She glared at him as if to ask his reasons. Why were her weapons still there? Why, for that matter, was he still there?

Luke could see the questions flicker across her face, watched her struggle to reconcile reality with expectation. Yes, he’d saved her life rather than escape. And he’d do it again, and again, and again.

“Welcome back from the dead, Mara Jade,” Luke grinned. The words were suffused with relief, no matter how flippant the phrase.

“What? What did you—” Understanding dawned, unwelcome and sour. Mara wiped a tightly sleeved arm across her face as if to erase the reality of what he’d done.

Luke opened his mouth to answer, but Mara held up a finger in warning as she struggled to her feet, clearly still suffering some effects of the shock field’s jolt.

“Forget it. You fucking suck.”

Luke’s eyes widened in shock, but he managed to keep his jaw from dropping in disbelief. This woman’s sheer determination to hate the man who’d just saved her life was as strong as it was incomprehensible. Fine. Aunt Beru always said humor was as strong a weapon as any, when wielded correctly.

“Actually,” Luke said, falling into step at her side, “it was more like blowing.”

Mara spun around, eyes on fire. Really amused now, Luke didn’t try to hide his grin.

“You know, you were the one technically sucking what I was blowing,” he teased.

“Shut up, Skywalker. Maybe no one has told the hero of the Rebellion this before, but you’re incredibly annoying.”

“A few more shock fields like that and I might change your mind.”

She snorted, turning to continue the trek, but Luke thought a small smile ghosted her lips as he joined her.

Chapter Text

Mara slammed the door, eyes blazing in annoyance, chest heaving like she’d just run the Coruscant Marathon.

“I hate working with that son of a Hutt,” she snarled, shaking off her jacket and tossing it onto the worn chair in the corner.

Luke set down his datapad, thinking for the gazillionth time that there wasn’t a moment that his wife wasn’t completely gorgeous. Angry or not, she would never be remotely unattractive.

“I’ll kick his ass if you want me to,” he offered. And he would, depending on the offense, but also knew Mara would have already handled it, if physical persuasion or dissuasion was required.

With a tired sigh, she sank into the couch at his side.

“I can take care of myself.” The tone was heavier than the words, though, and Luke slipped an arm around Mara’s waist, pulling her onto his lap. It obviously had been an unproductive negotiation, more than just personality conflicts affecting her mood.

“I know that.” His mouth touched the arc of her neck and tasted the tension there. “But everyone’s still breathing, so it couldn’t have been that bad?”

Mara turned in Luke’s embrace to face him, lips thinned in thought.

“You know, I should have, now that I think about it, broken something. Or at least – ”

Luke cut her off with a seductive kiss, slow and lingering, as his fingers glided up the sides of her tunic. Mara mumbled into his mouth, half-heartedly squirming away.

“I’m serious, Luke, you don’t even know what he –”

“Did he do this?” Luke interrupted, cupping her breast beneath the fabric.

“No…” she grinned, leaning back against him.

“Did he do this?” he asked, his other hand somehow already inside her pants.

Mara didn’t answer right away, all focus on her husband’s touch and not on producing speech. Luke was showing exactly how well he had learned her body, and she gasped, the squirm involuntary this time.

“Did he?” Luke repeated, a lower tone he used to command attention.

“And if he had?” Mara teased, storm clouds gone from her eyes.

Luke shrugged. “The death penalty is still legal in this system.”

He kissed her again, lips rough and insistent, helping her out of too-tight clothing in record time. As Mara tumbled back onto the cushions, he settled between her legs.

“Using sex to distract you is my thing,” she growled. “Not fair to use my own tactics against me.”

Luke sat back on his heels, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.

“You complaining? Because I can always go ask—”

“Oh shut up,” Mara groaned, yanking him by his belt back down to her arms.

Chapter Text

Luke made his way through the sterile corridors of the command ship. So many meetings, briefings, events since the Battle of Endor. He wondered if Mon Mothma was keeping him busy to distract him from his father’s death. She was one of the few he’d trusted with the truth, and the New Republic leader had handled the news by over-scheduling him into a bureaucratic nightmare.

The highlight of the past three weeks had been the arrival of Ahsoka Tano. Leia told him what little she knew about the Togruta woman—mainly that she’d been a trusted friend of her adopted father’s—but encouraged him to spend time with her.

“She’s a Jedi in all but name, Luke,” Leia had counseled. “And you need someone like that.”

Taking his sister’s advice, he’d tentatively asked Ahsoka to meet, relieved when she accepted.

Intimidated at first, Luke warmed to the woman quickly. She was easy-going, funny, patient, and above all, non-judgmental. He’d confided in her, more than he’d even told Leia. His doubts, his fears, his overwhelming sense of being unprepared for what lay ahead. Sometimes he thought he talked too much, but Ahsoka would wave a hand and shake her head, telling him to go on.

When he told her about Vader, he’d asked if she’d ever met his father. Ahsoka had nodded silently, and Luke cursed his insensitivity. Darth Vader was probably responsible for the deaths of her friends and whatever other misery had driven her from the Jedi Order.

He didn’t mention Anakin again.

Sure, she was older than him, but no one would know it to see her. During one of their early sparring sessions in a half-empty cargo bay, she’d pinned him to the floor, white blades crossed precariously close to his neck. It had been exhilarating in a way that training with Ben and Yoda had never been, and Luke was slightly embarrassed to realize he had a crush.

Maybe more than a crush.

He thought about saying something, lost his nerve on more than one occasion. He knew very little about her, save the permanent sadness she carried. It was never far, even when he got her to laugh.

Luke felt the same, really, and wondered if that was why he was drawn to her.

After Leia…well…he’d tried, but after Leia, Luke wondered if it was safer to keep his distance from romance. Better to be alone.

Ahsoka made him rethink that philosophy.

The next time they met up to spar, Ahsoka suggested they trade sabers, demonstrating her preferred Shien reverse grip. Her unorthodox fighting style was just another reason he liked her. She was going easy on him, Luke could tell, and twelve minutes later he had her trapped against a shipping crate.

Panting, Luke turned off the blades with a swish. They were so close, he could feel her breath against his skin. Her eyes were the same blue as his. He saw a reflection of himself there, and it made him bold.

“I have a secret,” he said, as Ahsoka extinguished his lightsaber, one eyebrow quirking in question.

Before he could rethink it, Luke kissed her. He heard his hilt clatter to the floor in her surprise, but she didn’t stop him. At least, not right away. She was soft and yielding, her hands threading in his hair. But too soon they slid down to his shoulders and pushed gently.

Unsure if it was hesitation or rejection, Luke pulled back. That familiar, sad smile was on her lips.

“So do I, Luke.”

Chapter Text

“Mara!” Skywalker’s voice was strong and a little too loud, summoning her to the mess. Concern turned into suppressed amusement at the bottle of Seikosha liquor on the table and the shot glasses lined up in front of the Wild Karrde crew.

Skywalker was clearly already feeling the drink, knocking one back and waving a wobbly finger accusingly in her direction. “They’re cheating! Tell them to stop cheating.”

The group exploded into objections and laughter, and Mara folded her arms, looking a question at Chin. He seemed the most lucid. Chin held a ysalamir, apparently present to prevent the Jedi from avoiding intoxication.

The older man shrugged. “Our guest agreed to play ‘Never Have I Ever’ and he’s losing. By a lot.” His grin told her there was more to the story, so she pulled up a chair, joining the game.

“You guys are just cowards,” Skywalker slurred, “afraid to lose fair and square.” He swallowed another shot with a grimace.

Good-natured harassment followed his declaration, but it was quickly obvious why Skywalker was smashed.

Aves, Dankin, and Wadewarn had all ganged up on the Jedi. Every round someone put out such gems like “never have I ever blown up a Death Star,” “used a lightsaber,” and “grown up on a desert planet.” Mara’s mood darkened further when Wadewarn proclaimed “never have I ever had a princess for a sister.”

Fun was fun but this was preposterous.

She pushed back from the table, draining her glass just to prove it wasn’t because she had too much.

“Come on Skywalker.” She didn’t provide a reason for taking him with her, and the crew knew better than to question. They all smiled though, and thanked Luke for being a good sport, which seemed to go a ways towards soothing their guest's sense of injustice.

As he staggered into the corridor, Mara steadied him.

“Lemme just get away from that…lizard,” Skywalker groaned, rubbing his temples. She waited, wondering how quickly the Force could detoxify his bloodstream.

When he looked able to stay upright, she hauled him down to where he was bunking, slapping open the door and dragging him through.

“Mara,” Skywalker mumbled. “Mara. Mara.” His pronunciation got clearer with each repetition, as if he had something momentous to impart.

“Yes?” She leaned him against the wall, about to leave.

“Never have I ever…” He winked, a cute if unsuccessful attempt to be charming, but his blue eyes were still glazed. “…thanked Mara Jade for rescuing me from my bad drinking decisions.”

She smiled despite herself. “You’re welcome, Skywalker.”

He lunged at her then. If he hadn’t been drunk, her reflexes would have been too slow to grip his wrists, pinning him against the wall.

“A hug!” Skywalker protested in a bewildered voice. “I was just gonna give you a hug.” His gaze turned to where her fingers still had his wrists trapped, as if she’d completely overreacted.

“I don’t do hugs,” she replied flatly, releasing him. She wouldn’t apologize for stopping a sloppy drunk from yanking her into his arms.

“No hugs?” he whispered, as if that was the saddest thing he could imagine. Suddenly the room was too dark, her thoughts too confusing, Skywalker's admittedly handsome face too close, and his alcohol-soaked breath was too hot against her skin.

“What—” she began, but was cut off by eager lips against hers. Their mouths were poorly aligned, his tongue everywhere at once, pushing deep, exploring her with all the finesse of a drunken teenager, which, she supposed, was only off by a few years. One hand gripped high on her waist, the other behind her head, fingers twisting in her hair as Skywalker seemed to regroup, renewing the kiss.

Better alignment this time, less saliva, more pressure. It was as if the act of kissing was sobering him up, Mara realized, not sure she liked that idea. Not liking anything about this at all, she lied to herself, even as her tongue fought with his, the flavor of him—sweet and bright and irresponsible—welcoming and seductive.

For some reason her hands were inside his tunic, and somehow her shirt was already open, his mouth leaving hers as he pulled back slightly. Skywalker's blue eyes were completely clear now.


“Are you still drunk?” she growled.

He slowly shook his head. Of course not. The ysalamir was far enough away from here. Stars, his hands felt good on her skin. Skywalker held his breath, and she sensed his desire, tense and insistent and perfectly matched to hers.

“Good, because you kiss like a drooling mynock when you are,” she snapped, and this time she lunged for him.

Chapter Text

The portside bar had that ingrained, beer-soaked smell that marked the oldest barracks stairwells, seediest Coruscant alleyways, and most affordable drinking establishments, which made it a popular choice for cadets on leave. The lighting was dim by necessity—the city electrical grid barely serviced this block sector, and it wasn’t unheard of for the proprietor to advertise glowrod party nights to save on his bills.

Luke finished his third Corellian ale and elbowed Wedge’s ribs. His wingman rolled hazel eyes, interrupting the conversation with Iella, seated next to him.

Growling through a smile, irritation clear, “Better be good, Luke, not like last time.”

Grinning, Luke put both hands on either side of Wedge’s head and directed the other man’s gaze across the room.

“The redhead?” Wedge shook free of Luke’s fingers with a sigh. “What am I saying, of course the redhead.”

The redhead in question had waltzed in about fifteen minutes earlier, capturing more than a few stares in the process. Luke had waited, watching, checking to see if she was meeting anyone. The woman had glided with grace that seemed both misplaced and superfluous for the venue, floating through the raucous crowded room. She had smiled—she had an amazing smile, Luke thought—at a few patrons, ordered her own drink, and then settled at the far end of the bar near one of the X-wing maintenance instructors with legs primly crossed. The two seemed to know one another, but didn’t converse much, and Luke definitely wasn’t picking up any romantic vibes between them.

A few other cadets were also eyeing her, and Luke wasn’t about to let someone else make a move before he took a shot. And Luke wasn’t going to leave Wedge in peace until he’d done his wingman’s off-duty duty.

“Fine.” Wedge agreed with an air of martyrdom, apologizing to his wife. Standing up, he placed a brief kiss atop her blonde head.

“Are you boys going to go harass that pretty lady?” she teased.

“Hey, the serenade worked on you!” Luke pointed out, grabbing two new ales from the barkeep and passing one to Wedge.

“He creeped me out, I’m not gonna lie,” Iella said, with a fond look at her husband.

“She likes creepy guys,” Wedge shrugged, taking a long swing of his drink. “I got lucky.”

“Yes, yes you did,” Luke and Iella replied in unison, clinking bottles to punctuate their synchrony.

“We’re gonna have a good time,” Luke reassured Wedge with a confident smirk.

“Always,” Wedge smiled back, following Luke in the direction of the handsome pilot’s latest prey.

Chapter Text

Luke didn’t hate parties. He really didn’t. He was a social animal at heart, and loved to be around family and friends. And he didn’t have any righteous objection to the New Republic’s decision to continue Fete Week, the old Imperial tradition of celebrating the first five days of the new year. People needed consistency, and customs and rituals were a part of it, especially on a planet like Coruscant, where so many off-worlders needed a common reason to celebrate amidst their personal cultural ceremonies. Han, in particular, had embraced the festivities, as New Year’s Day was a huge holiday on Corellia.

However tonight, Luke wasn’t feeling in a party mood. He tried not to be melancholy, but one too many paparazzi had snuck into the gala, asked one too many rude and intrusive questions, and he’d fled to the balcony with a quick nod to Leia. She understood.

Now, under a rare quadruple full moon, Luke inhaled the city air and wished futilely for the clean arid heat of Tatooine instead of the polluted skies of the capital. It was tempting to use the Force to seek calm, to find the tranquility that he desperately needed, but his turbulent thoughts—completely disproportionate to the irritation that caused them—seemed to call for a more old-fashioned solution.

Luke took another swig of the imported Chandrilan champagne, letting it float in his mouth until it stung, then swallowed.

“Waiting for the moons to do their work, Skywalker?”

Luke spun at the voice, not sure if he was pleased or upset at being interrupted by Mara Jade. A lot would depend on her mood, as it usually did. He liked Mara, but she could be caustic or convivial depending on which way the wind was blowing.

“What work would that be?” he asked, offering a half-smile and stifling his shock at the view.

Mara looked stunning, a glittering beryl gown swishing around her legs as she glided more than walked over to his side. It was scandalously low-cut, and Luke did his best not to notice.

“Turning you into a Raquor’daan, of course,” she grinned, clinking her almost-empty flute against his.

Luke wasn’t quite up to laughing at her joke.

“Quit it or I’ll bite.”

He had intended for the words to be a tease, something light, but they came out sounding like an actual threat, and he winced.

“Sorry.” Luke shook his head, setting his glass on the flat balcony railing. Stupid to expect privacy, he supposed. Of course he hadn’t been the only one out here; other people, mainly couples, had left the party to get some air. This close to midnight, though, he’d expected most of the guests to head inside for the countdown.

“I get it, you don’t want company,” Mara replied, then peered closer at him, her emerald eyes somehow even more green than usual. Her expression softened, lips drawn and chin lowering. “Do you?”

Luke opened his mouth to explain that he was a lousy companion at the moment, just as the murmurs of the crowd in the ballroom swelled to a raucous roar as the countdown began.


Mara didn’t seem to hear. She hadn’t moved or reacted, still awaiting his reply.


Luke didn’t know if it was the champagne or the moon, that look in her eyes or that preposterously sexy dress, but he suddenly wanted to do nothing more than kiss Mara Jade in the finest Corellian tradition to ring in the New Year.


“Mara,” he said, taking a minuscule step, just enough to close the distance between them.


Luke didn’t know what he expected, maybe that she would read his mind, or leave before he could embarrass himself, but instead, Mara’s gaze met his as her lips mouthed the last two numbers along with the noisy mob inside.


Before he could second-guess the impulse, Luke bent and placed as chaste a kiss as he could manage on Mara’s lips just as screams of “Happy New Year!” rang out from the assembled guests.

It wasn’t, to be clear, at all chaste, through no fault of his own, Luke would later justify. Mara’s lips yielded with an impossible softness that he couldn’t have imagined, parting and inviting him to deepen the kiss. He had consciously not put his arm around her when he had decided to go in for the kiss, but his brain was too busy delighting in the taste of her, the tease of Mara’s champagne-sweetened tongue flicking at his, their mouths partnered like in a dance, and suddenly she was crushed against him. One of his hands had found its way to the bared small of her back, the other sliding down the curve of her sparkling hip.

And her hands...he didn’t even know where her hands were, only that every part of him felt amazing. His night had completely changed, his mood was best described as elation, and Luke wanted nothing more than to just stay like this, lose himself in Mara’s kiss under the full moons.

The realization jerked him back to reality. A Happy New Year’s kiss was not an invitation for a public make-out session. Bantha shit, what was he thinking? He’d been to enough parties in his life to know this was completely unacceptable behavior. Mara was simply being nice, and he’d taken advantage.

With effort, Luke broke the kiss, hands returning reluctantly to his side.

“Happy New Year,” Mara said, cutting off his intended apology before he could formulate the words.

Bewildered, Luke scanned her face for some sign of annoyance, finding none.

“Happy New Year,” he managed, the words automatic.

With a brief nod and secretive smile, Mara picked up his discarded champagne flute from the railing and placed it in his hand. With a final celebratory clink of glasses, she wordlessly returned to the ballroom.

Luke watched her disappear into the throng, stunned and grateful that the sense of elation her kiss had produced not only was easily recalled, but seemed to have taken up residence in his chest. Maybe Mara Jade hadn’t just rescued his night, maybe she’d rescued his year.