Timeframe: 22 ABY inside Survivor’s Quest, prelude to the second scene in ch. 18.
Summary: While chasing villains, Luke and Mara must figure out how to ascend a turbolift shaft when the electricity isn't working.
“There’re no access ladders!”
Luke’s voice, almost sheepish to her ears, echoed in the turbolift shaft and Mara moved to stand beside her husband, peering up the duct. “Right you are indeed, husband mine.” For a moment the seriousness of the situation gave way to that peculiar amusement only Luke could bring up in her, by simply being himself. She studied the pylon, her lips curling into a slow smile as an idea took form in her head. “And the panels are frozen shut by age and rust, it seems.”
Luke turned to look at her, his eyebrows going up. “You find this funny?”
“Not at all,” Mara assured him, all too aware of the grim state of affair they were in. Then her mouth twitched again. “Only the way you said it. You sounded like a child that hadn’t gotten his favourite dish for life-day.”
Luke pulled a face. “Yeah? So? Maybe I like access ladders a lot.” He peered up the shaft again. "Especially when the turbolifts aren’t working and I need to go up."
“I’ll believe that when you turn down a maintenance repulsorlift pack for the chance of climbing ladders.”
Luke’s expression brightened. “We have a repulsorlift pack?”
Mara shook her head. “Nope – not unless you have one in your trousers.”
There was a short moment of sudden silence and Mara got a feeling that Luke was biting down on an improper remark. But he was already sobering so she didn’t give it a second thought. He gave her a close look. “I get the feeling you already have a plan B?”
“Of course, that was part of my training." Mara pulled out her lightsaber and ignited it. "As soon as you have plan A ready, you should start thinking of plan B. And then prepare plan C too, just in case. Didn’t the Rebellion teach you that?” While speaking, she started to cut a small square into the wall panel at hip height.
Luke studied her doings, frowning. “Nope. We made a plan A, and when it screwed up – which it always did - we improvised. There was never time for following plans anyway.” Luke pulled his lightsaber too. “The good side about that approach is that it makes me your ideal partner. You tell me your plan - and I’m ready.” He gave her a mock salute with the weapon.
The cut-out piece of wall panel clattered to the floor and Mara shot him a wicked grin. “Terrific. I like that pliant approach. Take off your jacket.” She started to cut a new square at shoulder height.
Luke's eyebrows bobbed up and down in a funny fashion. “Uhm, I thought we were in a hurry here?”
“Very funny.” Mara gave him a stern look as the metal plate fell to the floor with a clank, uncovering the wirings behind it. Her glance softened however, as Luke obligingly cringed off his jacket, revealing a tight fitting, sleeveless top underneath it. “And true, unfortunately – we are in a hurry.” Mara shut down her lightsaber and let her left fingers run appreciatively up the toned biceps of his right arm, ending the short caress in a resigned pat. Hurry or not – lives at count or not – she did have a gorgeous husband, and over the past few days she’d been so preoccupied by old ghosts and memories that she'd made far too little use of that fact. And Luke, being not only gorgeous but sweet too – had respected her need for thought and not pushed her the slightest. She really needed to show him her appreciation soon – also to reward him for his restraint.
“You do have great arms, my love,” she allowed.
Luke raised his eyebrows, his expression showing, rather embarrassingly for that matter, how rarely she gave away compliments. It was another thing she really needed to do something about. “I do?”
“You most definitely do. And you know what – as far as I can recall, they’re as strong as they look.”
“Ah.” Luke had already caught her train of thought and was peering up the shaft. He fastened the lightsaber to his belt with his right hand, reaching out with his left for the wires Mara had exposed, taking a firm grasp and tugged. The wirings held.
“Good boy - it wasn't loose bragging and you caught my plan immediately,” Mara praised. “Now, do you think your arms can carry us both?”
He flashed her that bright farmboy smile she so loved. “My love, I would cradle you in my arms to the end of galaxy – but it will be a bit tricky to climb and cradle and cut.”
“That’s why I suggest you drop the cradling and leave the cutting to me,” Mara grinned.
He glanced to her again. “Where will you … oh!” Her mental image dawned on him.
“It will allow us to concentrate on both tasks.” She couldn’t resist adding, “And when I can’t be in your muscular arms, then your strong, firm shoulders surely are the second best place.” Her eyes twinkled.
“I could think of a better place yet,” Luke muttered but crouched obediently. “Whoops.” The last was as he rose with Mara straddling his shoulders.
"You okay?" she inquired, adjusting herself atop of him.
"Sure." Luke squared his shoulders under the unfamiliar weight. “At least you’re more fun to carry than Master Yoda was.” He grabbed the wirings at shoulder height and stepped into the first hole his wife had cut, heaving them both up half a meter.
“You used to carry around Master Yoda?” Mara ignited her saber again and started to cut a new hole in the pylon.
“Everywhere I went on Dagobah. In fact, carrying him was the way he got around. But it was the best alternative by far – he was a very slow walker.”
“The slow walker and the sky walker," Mara mused. "Must have been a sight.” A third piece of panel clattered down.
“So are we now.” Luke heaved them up another half meter. Mara could feel his muscular shoulders straining beneath her and it sent a slight jolt up her stomach. She'd enjoyed resting in those arms for three years now, but this was a completely new perspective to them.
“Absolutely. We surely look utterly ridiculous. ” she agreed. “Fortunately, no one’s here to see us.”
“And even so, being embraced by your lovely legs isn’t the worst of working positions.” Luke gave her thigh a loving clap. “Pity we’re under a tight schedule here.”
“Maybe you’ll get the chance to show your appreciation later? I at least look forward to showing you my appreciation of your strong arms.” For a moment Mara shifted down and let her hands run over those well-toned muscles under smooth skin. “I don’t know whether I’ve told you, but they caught my attention already on Myrkr.”
“Uh-uh! I always knew you liked to be on top, but this position indeed allures some allowances from you. ! I might start climbing around with you like this more often.”
“That idea certainly holds some appeal. Though I think that repulsor package down your trousers sounded interesting too.”
Luke chuckled, heaving himself up half a meter more as Mara removed yet another piece of metal panel. “Don’t get too excited over the perspectives, love.” He adjusted himself and grimaced. “I fear that when this crawl is over my arms won’t be worth a rotten blumfruit – and probably not the rest of me either.”
Mara chuckled and attacked the panel anew. “Alas, what we Jedi sacrifice for the safety and justice of the galaxy. If people only knew...”
© 2011 Kataja