KATAJA'S FANFICTION
 
Corran Horn is having a busy evening. Short story. This is set 18 ABY at Lando & Tendra's engagement party and is another answer to the Caught Challenge on Skywalker Story Board.
Characters: Corran, Luke, Mara & co

Genre: humor, drama

Rating: G

(I still haven't decided whether I should call this story an AU or just NOC (not opposed to canon)... it's left pretty much open. Maybe I'll write a closure to this one day... )





Caught
 
 
Everybody was there that evening.
 
It sounds like a cliché now that I say it, but that evening it really was the truth. Anything less wouldn’t have done it of course. After all, it was Lando Calrissian who was celebrating his engagement. And considering that his wife-to-be, Tendra Risant, was one of the galaxy’s absolute wealthiest women, there had been no reason to exclude anyone in order to save money.
 
Actually, I was a bit surprised that Mirax and I were invited. After all I’m only one pilot of many in the service of The New Republic, and Mirax’s business isn’t that grand. But when I expressed that to Mirax she just looked at me and shook her head. Then she slapped her forehead and hurried to the holocom to probe the supply of gala dresses. I realized it excluded any possibility of turning down the invitation.
 
And, as I stood there, at the main stair in the magnificent multi-story building that the hosts had chosen as their residence, I had to admit that Lando’s parties were well worth taking part of. In addition to a terrible lot of business people of varied reputation, and besides as many celebrities of alike reputation, there was namely a whole bunch of Lando’s old friends from the Alliance and the New Republic. That included most members of Rogue Squadron, old and new alike, plus, of course the Solos and Chewbacca. Even Luke Skywalker had travelled all the way from Yavin IV to participate.
 
Speaking of Skywalker, he seemed to be in terrific mood that evening. That heavy cloud that has hung over him for many years, maybe in all the years I’ve known him, had kind of lightened. If the reason was the presence of his old friends or the outrageous amount of champagne that was floating on the party, I couldn’t tell, off course. Wedge Antilles always says that Luke was a real fire cracker when they first met, and is utterly convinced that this feature will never really leave him, but I’ve never really believed it. Or I didn’t, until a broadly grinning Jedi Master caught my wife in a Force grip, pulled her over the stair ceiling one floor down and dragged her off to the dancing floor.
 
“Practice on your levitation,” was his answer when I complained that I couldn’t follow them because the stairs were stuffed with people. Mirax laughed so hard she could hardly walk. She knows very well that I’m trying to keep my abilities in the Force a secret. I was pretty annoyed and asked myself whether Skywalker remembered that telekinesis is not my best discipline. It probably never will be, not even if I’d humor him and choose a path as a Jedi.
 
Well, since my dear, secret Jedi master had pulled his little number, I’d been wifeless, because Mirax naturally became the other belle of the ball. The first was of course Mara Jade, who except for looking gorgeous and wearing a dress that in no way was hiding that fact, also had the benefit of being an outstanding dancer.
 
I had no wish to stand on the sideline and speculate on whether the men on the dance floor thought that Mirax was an unattached as Mara. Instead I sought Rogue company. That was of course an eminent idea and we did have a merry time. Wes Jansen was in a hilarious mood and managed to get everybody to tell Ewok jokes. That turned to people starting to invent new Ewok jokes and before long we had revised the whole Ewok-culture. People came and went as the hours grew late. At some point Skywalker joined us. When I asked for my wife he reassured me that Mirax and Mara had left the dancing together, no doubt up to some tricks. I wasn’t really soothed by this information, but Wedge gave me the excellent advice to drop the champagne and go over to brandy. That soothed me to such an extent that I now, some hours later, had to pull away from the company to clear my head.
 
I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Mirax since Luke dragged her away and now it started to annoy me. I decided to go hunting. Preferably I wanted to find Mirax, but if not, I wanted to find Mara who might know where she was. Perhaps I could also find that bloody Jedi Master, who had disappeared again, and get the chance to tell him some truths.
 
I went some floors up. The crowd diluted the higher I went. I tried to ask some of the people I met whether they had seen Mirax, but it turned out to be difficult to describe her, since beautiful, smiling, dark haired women weren’t a rare sight at this party. Instead, I got the bright idea to ask for Mara, who, with her red hair and green eyes was easier to describe. It quickly turned out that her dress was the detail easiest to recognize, at least for male guests. And suddenly there was bite. A Sullustan, of whom I had a strange feeling I’d seen before, had noticed her on her way higher up in the building. At that in the company of the Jedi Master! Do I have to say I tasted blood? I was certain Mirax couldn’t be far away! Up, up, the way went. Finally I was on the highest floor.
 
There were two corridors, so I reached out with my feeble Jedi powers to find Jade or Skywalker. It didn’t guide me much – later I found out that the corridors went in a circle. I chose the right passage and snuck on, firmly decided to surprise them and blow them up for running away with my wife. What can I say? It seemed a great idea at that moment. When I think of it now, my only excuse is that I was rather drunk.
 
All of a sudden I stood in a dimly lit library. I must admit I was thrown into some confusion. The thought of Lando Calrissian living in a house with a library, appeared to me as unlikely as a Gamorrean in a Stormtrooper uniform. And what a library! There were book shells from floor to roof. Not that they were all filled with datacards - precious vases and elaborate works of art had sneaked in too - but the amount of reading was impressive none-the-less. An assembly of heavy, conservative, leather armchairs formed a group in the middle of the room, and here and there small tables of costly wood were arranged. For a moment I totally forgot why I had come because I started to study the contents of the book shells.
 
But then, suddenly, I heard them. It was Mara’s voice, and yes, Skywalker seemed to be with her. They were in the adjoining room, but it sounded like they were approaching. I quickly decided to hide and then jump out when they came closer. Why I wanted to scare them is today a riddle to me, but, as I said, I was rather drunk and probably thought they deserved it. That Mirax wasn’t with them had by now, kind of dawned on me.
 
I managed to dive in behind two chairs just in time before Luke and Mara entered the room. They were talking, or Mara was. Luke mostly nodded. My placing was perfect. I had a full view but they would not be able to see me unless they looked straight at me, and why should they? They probably couldn’t look more straight than anybody else at this time of the party…
 
The thought of being lucky enough of perhaps frightening these two of the galaxy’s most vigilant individuals, was fabulously alluring. If I was lucky, and they were drunk enough? If Mara wouldn’t shoot me per reflex when I jumped out? The last thought wasn’t all that alluring. But surely Mara couldn’t be wearing her blaster, could she? Not in that dress? On the other hand Mirax was perfectly capable of accomplishing that kind of miracles, quite without Jedi training…
 
My musings were disturbed when Mara interrupted her very un-Mara-like speech and burst out, “You’re not listening to what I’m saying, Skywalker!”
 
“But I am, Mara! Of course I am!” he assured. He wasn’t slurring but his smile was even friendlier that it used to be, and his eyes seemed a bit hazed.
 
“The hell you are! You’re staring at my tits!”
 
Now, I’m a very sensitive guy, for feelings and such stuff, sensitive in the Force I mean. And there was no doubt about it that Skywalker had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. But he recovered quickly and instead of pulling back he leaned closer to Mara and looked her straight in the eye. “How could I not? They look absolutely wonderful in that dress. You look absolutely wonderful in that dress.”
 
Mara dropped her jaw. I did too.
 
But Mara was back in business in no time.
 
“So its flattery now, is it? I’d have thought a Jedi Master was above such matters.”
 
Luke shifted uncomfortably, but held his ground. “Precisely what matters, Mara?” he demanded.
 
“Staring at tits. Dubious flattering.” She shrugged. “I thought you were a nice guy, Skywalker.”
 
“And you don’t think nice guys look at women’s tits? That’s quite naive, Mara…”
 
Was this Luke Skywalker? He was flirting!
 
Mara was clearly unprepared for the situation. Instead of a witty and biting comment she stared at him and only managed a doubting, “Yeah?”
 
“Yeah,” Luke confirmed. He had moved closer.
 
“Besides, I was merely complimenting your dress. It is really lovely.” Luke’s voice was husky. “To tell the truth…”
 
“To tell the truth…?”
 
“To tell the truth it makes me wonder how you would look without it!”
 
The Jedi Master had grabbed Mara’s hands and pulled her slowly towards him. I expected an explosion but Mara’s mouth was half open and she stared as hypnotized into Luke’s eyes.


And before my unbelieving eyes, he slowly closed the distance between them and kissed her.
 
This! This was not what I had come for! I pressed myself back into the shadows but found myself unable to take my eyes of the unlikely and fascinating scene that was happening before me.
 
Luke was kissing Mara slowly, hotly and leisurely as though he had the whole night before him. She had slid her arms around him and now pressed herself against him. It was obvious that the outer world had seized to exist for these two.
 
Unwillingly, I remembered the first time with Mirax. The tension, the deep vulnerability, the tenderness and closeness so burning and absorbing, so wonderfully and insufferably intoxicating…
 
Luke bent Mara’s body backward and his lips travelled down her throat to her collarbone and lower. “Sweet,” he whispered. “Sweet.”
 
That became too much for me. As quickly as I dared I creep out of my hiding and towards the door?
 
I managed two steps.
 
“Corran!” Luke had seen me and now both were staring at me, still with their arms around each other and with  faces that bare evidence of mild panic.
 
The panic was fully reciprocated. Quickly! A lie! “Oh, hello there! …I …er... am looking for Mirax and wondered if any of you guys have seen her?”
 
Well, it wasn’t a lie.
 
Luke’s face was priceless, Mara’s I didn’t dare to look at. “No? Well, I guess I have to keep looking then.” I almost blazed out of the nearest door, which was the one the couple had entered through, and closed it behind me.
 
The blasted library was continuing in this room too. How big was this place anyway? I hurried through and closed with a relieved sigh, another door between myself and the amorous couple.
 
That was when I heard voices from the corridor. Many voices.
 
I looked around for a lock on the door and found an old fashioned one with a key, neatly matching the conservative style in the library. A quick examination showed, however, that the door could only be locked from the inside. How smart was that? I closed the door again and reached for the Force in my desperation. It didn’t work of course. Telekinesis never does for me. The key didn’t move an inch.
 
And now it was too late anyway because a smaller crowd came piling through the corridor. At the head came three giggling graces; Leia, Mirax and Iella. Behind them I could sort out Han Chewie, Wedge, Tycho, Wes and Hobbie among several others. None of them seemed to be sober in the slightest sense. Myself I felt astonishingly sober compared to a mere moment ago.
 
Mirax stopped in front of me and behind her halted the whole lot. “Scchhweetie!” She threw herself in my arms and kissed me. “Where have you been sche whole evening? I’ve misched you scho!”
 
I had certainly missed her too, but none-the-less I found it difficult to concentrate on her at that moment. “Where are you heading?” I demanded. I addressed my question to Princess Leia, who, as Chief-of-State might have the authority to prevent an upcoming catastrophe.
 
Leia covered her mouth with her hand and giggled stridently. My hope sank. “We’re going to schee Landosch’ library. Lando! Library! I schimply can’t believe it!” She giggled again and all the others roared with laughter.
 
“It’sch prischhleschh. It’sch a muschht. It’schh in here ischhn’t it, Corran? Move your aschh, ‘cauchh now we’re goingtoschhee the wampa… “
 
Solo, Wedge and Wes were babbeling at the same time. Chewbacca was howling.
 
“No.”
 
Solo stopped with his arm stretched out for the door. “Whaddayoumean ‘no’?”
 
I tried to think but it wasn’t going all that well. And if I refused to move they would only push me aside. “’No’ that, er…this isn’t the library.”
 
“But it is!”
 
“No.”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Tendra schhaid schat sche library wasch on sche top floor and tchatsch wherewe are,” Leia confirmed.
 
Blast it. What now?
 
“Oooh, the library?? Was that what you were saying?!?”
 
Everybody stared at me as if I had gone mad and Mirax looked offended.
 
But I couldn’t let that get to me right now. “I must have heard wrong!” I babbled. “Oh yes, it’s the library all right, but really – it’s not worth to see!” They continued to stare at me. “I mean,” I went on, “you’ve seen one library, you’ve seem them all.”
 
“Blast you, Horn,” Solo snapped. “You just don’t get it, do you? We’re not going to see a library. We’re going to see Lando’s library! An impossibility! A miracle! One of the wonders of the galaxy!” He shoved me to the side, grabbed the door and pulled it open.

 

The crowd poured pass me like a wild river. Only Mirax stopped in front of me and shook her head accusingly. “Hurry!” I mumbled. We’ve got to save our skins! Down the stairs!”
 
“You’re out of your mind!” my wife snarled. “I want to schee the wampa.” Before I could manage to stop her she was inside the library, too.
 
To my enormous relief the door to the second room was closed. Perhaps nobody would notice it was there. At the moment everybody was standing there laughing and making jokes that our hosts probably would find marginally funny.
 
But all of a sudden Leia got a strange look at her face. “Luke?” Apparently she had sensed her brother’s presence.
 
She glanced confusedly around. And of course her eyes darted to the door. In a second she was by it and pulled at it. I covered my face.
 
But the door was locked.
 
I sighed in relief. It seemed as the two inside hadn’t completely lost their sense of occasion.
 
The problem was that now Leia was seized with panic. “Han! Open this door! Now!”
 
Sole turned on his heels. “What? Where? As you wish, Princess!” He staggered to the door and pulled it. It remained locked, but now the Wookiee reeled towards it, too.
 
I grabbed Leia by the arm in desperation. “Highness! You can feel Luke, but can’t you also feel that he doesn’t want to be found?!?”
 
The Princess stared confused at me. She frowned; first in bewilderment, then in concentration. Then she realized. “Han!…!”
 
In the same second Solo fired his blaster at the lock and Chewbacca threw himself at the door with a roar. Naturally, the door yielded and sent the Wookiee, still howling, full speed into the room.
 
It takes a very large and heavy piece of furniture to stop a Wookiee in full throttle. The actual armchair was big and looked heavy, but wasn’t nearly enough. Apparently, it also made no difference whatsoever that Mara was in the chair and Luke was more or less lying over her. When Chewie rammed, everything was overthrown.
 
Exactly what did happen after that, I’m still uncertain of. Mara apparently came down with her legs together - somewhat of an accomplishment, since they definitely weren’t that way when she fell – and she evidently tried to kick the intruder away. But, even her top trained muscles failed against a Wookiee. Instead, the kick clearly made Chewie mad, because his howl changed dramatically to threatening. Obviously, Chewie tried to grab Mara - who he later claimed he had not recognized – but, in the same instance Luke grabbed him with a Force grip that sent the Wookiee sprawling into another chair, which naturally tumbled over as well. The problem was that Chewie had managed to grab Mara’s clothing and when he flew through the room, a big piece of her dress followed him.
 
Luckily, Chewie had only managed to grab the skirt, not the bodice, because there wasn’t much of the latter. And luckily, Mara’s legs can bear to be shown off. But, she didn’t take it well. I could sense a thunderstorm gathering in the few seconds it took her to get on her feet and survey the situation. To my surprise though, the first explosion did not come from her, but from Luke.
 
“What the Sith is the meaning of this?!?” He had rolled over and jumped on his feet in the same instance he had sent Chewie through the room. I was actually quite impressed of how quickly he had recovered. Now he stood trembling with rage in front of his sister and brother-in-law, the latter still with the blaster in his hand.
 
Leia covered her mouth with both hands. She seemed to have a hard time finding words.


But Solo wasn’t able to be casted down. “What the Sith, yourself?” he retorted loudly. He looked at his wife. ”You told me to open that door, and I did!” He looked at Luke again. “And what the blazes were you doing with Mara Jade?”
 
“That’s none of your…” Luke begun heatedly, but was interrupted by Chewie’s roaring. The Wookiee was up again and made himself ready to jump on Mara. Mara’s eyes narrowed to thin slits and she took up combat stance in an instant.
 
Luke threw himself between them, “Hey! Stop it!”He grabbed Mara by the arm and Chewbacca with the Force. “You won’t touch her! She’s with me!” Chewie roared something back and swung his arms wildly to break that invisible barrier in his way.
 
Mara tossed Luke’s arm away. Now she held her blaster – I should have known it was there somewhere – and there was murder in her eyes.
 
“Mara, no!” Luke moved in her way again and now stood with her weapon pressed against his chest and the howling, gesticulating Wookiee behind his back.
 
“Move away, Skywalker, or I’ll nail you both in one shot!”  Mara’s voice was quivering with rage and I could sense it wasn’t all directed towards the Wookiee. Perhaps Skywalker had been a little bit too lucky earlier for it to be true?
 
“Hey! You’re aiming at my friends!” Solo’s blaster was now pointing at Jade. Her ice-cold green eyes turned towards the Corellian.
 
Stop it! Now! Everybody!” Leia stepped in between her husband’s blaster and Mara’s.
 
That was the starting shot for the company behind, that had stood dumbfounded since the door had been blasted open. Suddenly everybody was inside and mingled between each other, blasters and Wookiee. No one, apparently, really had an idea of what had happened, but instead they hailed down with advice, opinions and questions. Mara lowered her weapon a little, clearly confused but in no way mollified. Luke reached out for her. I could not hear what he said, but perhaps it was irrelevant. Mara stared at him like she had woken from a dream and didn’t like neither the dream nor what she had woken up to. She thrust his hand aside. He reached out for her again but she stopped him with a smack upside his head. The smack was drowned by all the noise in the room, but nobody missed the occurrence. There was sudden silence.
 
Mara pulled her fiery-green eyes from Skywalker, abruptly aware of everybody staring at her. Her eyes narrowed and she lifted her head in an almost regal posture. Then she strode out of the room. Those in her way moved to let her pass.
 
The silence was heavy.. Then it was broken by Solos thick voice. “Whathehell were you doing with Mara Jade, Luke?”
 
Luke gave his friend an icy glance. His voice was very low. “Still none of your business, Han!”
 
Everybody begun to talk again at the same time. Leia threw herself at Luke and managed to push him into a corner where they had a heated discussion.
 
I slid over to Mirax who stood by the overthrown chairs and tried to fish up the sad piece of Mara’s dress. “Do you now understand why it was a stupid idea to come here?” I wondered in a low voice.
 
She looked reproachingly at me. “Why didn’t you tell what was going on?”
 
“C’mon! I couldn’t run with gossip, could I?”
 
Mirax shrugged. “Anyway, the gossip is running now,” she stated darkly. In here are people from at least two different holochannels. When this comes out…”
 
I groaned. “We have to stop them! Who are they?”
 
“Those two are from the same channel.” Mirax pointed. “Another one, a tall, handsome guy, is gone already.”
 
I  promptly took action. “After him! Stop him! I don’t care how!” For an instant I wondered whether I would have to regret my words. Did I really deliberately tell her to run after a “tall, handsome guy”? Mirax was still plastered, and therefore, rather impulsive. But, this was an emergency. “Just stop him! I’ll find Karrde and make him help you!”
 
I shoved her towards the door and she ran for it.
 
I looked around. Winter! I grabbed her by the arm. “Quickly! Get Karrde! There’s a journalist on his way out with this story. Mirax is slowing him down, but she’ll need help to make him silent. Explain to Karrde what has happened. He’ll help Mara!”
 
Winter just stared at me. Never before had I seen that woman intoxicated!
 
But, suddenly she understood what I was saying. Her eyes widened and she hiccuped. “Journalist? Karrde? Right away!” The next instant she was gone.
 
I was just about to close the door after her when Luke rushed by me. The look on his face was such that I suddenly took his many lectures about the dark side much more seriously.
 
With a lump in my throat I closed the door behind him.
 
“Ok, folks!” I raised my voice. “We did interrupt something personal here. What it was, we have no idea of, but we do know that it has made two people we care about very angry and sorry about it. I want everybody present here, to show them that we respect them, by not speculating on what has happened, and that we give our word that we shut up about what we have seen or believe us to have seen.”
 
A wave of protests swept over me. I had to shout to make myself heard. “In particular I think that present members of the holopress, should give their word of honor!”
 
Again, there was instant silence. Everybody turned to look at each other and in no time the two journalists – a male human and a female Bith - found themselves in the middle of attention. It might be mentioned that nobody smiled. Not even Wes.
 
The journalists didn’t look very comfortable. “Er…eh…Hi!” the man managed. “Listen… let’s talk about this, ok? I’m sure that we together can find a solution that everybody can…”
 
Solo pushed himself up to him and nailed him with his eyes. “I’m in for Corran’s suggestion.”
 
“Captain Solo, I’m sure that…”
 
Suddenly the Wookiee stood by Solo’s side with arms crossed. The Bith quickly moved to stand behind her colleague, who swallowed hard.
 
“Ok. I can see this from your point of view. But if you try our…”
 
Chewie rumbled. Han’s hand went to the blaster.
 
Leia advanced, but not to hold her husband back this time. Instead she looked at the two journalists and smiled sweetly. “Oh, we sure can see it from your side,” she assured. “That’s why we have to find a way to secure your full loyalty and cooperation. And, may I say,” her eyes gleamed dangerously, ”that I have some problems seeing how that is going to be possible…?”
 
The situation was under control in here. Or, would be soon. I slipped out through the backdoor. Before I closed it behind me, I threw a glance over my shoulder and my eyes met Wedge’s. He was swaying slightly but was completely alert none-the-less. He showed me thumbs up and I nodded smiling.
 
 
* * *
 
It took me some time to find Karrde. Fortunately, in my search for Mirax earlier the evening, I had detected several of the nooks and corners of the residence, and therefore had quite a good feeling for where someone would carry out a private conversation. When I found them, Aves was acting doorman, but let me pass when I gave him a short resume of the events.
 
I entered in time to see Karrde and the tall man shake hands. The guy wasn’t that handsome in my opinion. He also seemed surprisingly happy, being someone that had just lost the scandal story of his career. I wondered how much Karrde had to pay for this.
 
“Not as much as you might think.” The smuggler smiled a tiny smile when I asked him directly. “I merely outlined the man some of the problems he would run into if he insisted in going on with his story. When he had chewed the matter over he was prepared to dump it entirely. Therefore he was simply pleased when I offered him some compensation.” Karrde shrugged. “It’s better to win people over than to threaten them to silence.”
 
He looked watchfully at me. “But there were more journalists? Who is taking care of them?”
 
“Leia Organa Solo plus assistance,” I informed him.
 
“Oh? Well. Then it should work out.” Karrde relaxed visibly. He took a sip of his drink and shot me a cunning look. “So, what is the story?”
 
Strictly speaking, I hadn’t given my word of honor to keep my mouth. Yet I hesitated for a moment. It was kind of the principal in it. On the other hand Karrde was highly involved and…
 
I told him the story. All I knew of it.
 
“I see.” The man was the perfect sabacc player.. He stroked his goatee thoughtfully but nothing in his face revealed what he was thinking. But then he smiled, almost tenderly. “No wonder then Mara was out of her mind. I can’t imagine her in a worse situation.”
 
“Which of the situations, if I may ask?”  I couldn’t help asking. Was it Mara in the arms of Skywalker that was the horrible thing, or was it what had happened afterwards? And which part of that might be the worst?
 
“Ah. Well. Mara would hate that something private is suddenly exposed to other people. A lot of people. On top of that something so private that she, by my best guess, hasn’t been all in control of it herself.”Karrde sighed. “Wouldn’t like it myself. Not you either, would you? And Mara guards her privacy even more than any of us.”
 
I nodded. “Sometimes it can be hard to imagine she actually has a private life, can’t it,” I commented casually.
 
“I guess it can.”
 
That man couldn’t be rattled.
 
“But the again, isn’t the case similar with Skywalker?” Karrde commented in a similar tone.
 
“I guess it is.” Two could play this game. If he thought I would run with gossip from Rogue Squadron he could think again!
 
Karrde smiled smugly. It seemed like I had gained a few points. “Oh, by the way, Mirax went with Winter and Mara to find a housekeeping droid. Winter was certain that Tendra would have one with adequate programming to save Mara’s dress. Especially this late at the evening when they’ve started to dim the lights.”
 
I nodded in relief. So Mara hadn’t killed anybody. Maybe the catastrophe had been avoided? But it still remained to be seen how Luke was taking it all. “Have you seen Skywalker?” I therefore asked Karrde.
 
He shook his head.
 
I started worrying again. Perhaps Mara had shot him after all? The body just hadn’t been found yet…
 
I hurried on with my search. After half an hour it occurred to me that last time I had succeeded in my search I had used the Force. I had completely forgotten that. Perhaps Luke was right? I should pick up my Jedi training. I was rusty indeed!
 
As soon as I stretched out with my feelings there was bite. Apparently Luke was on the same floor only in a wing of the opposite side of the building.
 
There was a ramp outside the window. If I wasn’t much wrong it would run the whole way round and it would be faster and more discrete that using the main stairs. I went out of the window and ran quickly along the ramp and around the building.
 
There was a gap from the ending of the ramp to a small balcony. But it wasn’t a long jump and the balustrade of the balcony was easy to grip. I jumped, grabbed and swung myself over the balustrade.
 
And faced Mara Jade.
 
*
 
Well, perhaps ‘faced’ is to exaggerate a bit. She was in the room and didn’t see me.
 
She sat at a massive desk in the dimly lit room, apparently an office. She was cupping her chin in her hand and her eyes and thoughts were clearly far, far away. A lamp on the desk threw a soft glow over her face. She looked, quite unusually, very hesitating and very vulnerable.
 
I hesitated too. Should I go in to her? Would it be a help for her or yet another intrusion?
 
A faint sound made us both look towards the door. It had opened and closed again. And through it Luke Skywalker had entered.
 
I have, through the years, had many opinions of Master Skywalker. I still have. One of the things I’ve always been certain of is that he’s an uncommonly great guy who always tries to do things as well as he can. I’ve also come to the opinion he’s a good friend. This moment it also dawned to me what an immensely, stupidly brave man he is.
 
Mara got on her feet. Even if I couldn’t have sensed her anger through the Force I would have run for my life just because of her body language.
 
“Skywalker…! You dare…!” Her voice was threateningly low.
 
Luke swallowed hard. He shook his head. Then he took a few long steps through the room and grabbed her hands.
 
“I’m sorry!”
 
Mara stared at him like she didn’t believe her ears. Her head was lowered like she would gore any second.
 
“What?!?”
 
“I’m sorry!” Everything in him showed how much he meant it, his eyes, his carriage, his presence in the Force.
 
“’I’m sorry’!?!” She all but spat.  “After all that has happened! You just stroll in and say ‘I’m sorry’!?!?”
 
“What else can I say?” He looked earnestly at her, and that seemed to calm her. “I thought it was enough to lock the door, but it wasn’t.”
 
“Oh, come on!” Mara growled. “Back to playing the nice guy again, huh?”
 
“I’m not playing a game here, Mara”
 
“No, I know that!” she snorted. “The game was played in the library, and it didn’t fit. So off with it!”
 
“I… Hey, wait a minute! What’s that supposed to mean?”
 
“It means I’ve seen through you, Skywalker.”
 
“Really?” Luke watched her carefully. “And may I ask for the conclusion”
 
“That you are the perfect Mister Nice guy. And that the show in the library was a pathetic result of too much champagne.”
 
Luke locked eyes with her. He was clearly not pleased with her words. “It wasn’t the champagne, Mara.”
 
“It wasn’t, huh? Perhaps you start kissing every girl that falls for your honey-tongue?”
“I do not…”
 
“There you see. There goes Mr. Nice guy again.”
 
“You say ‘nice’ like an insult”.
 
“I don’t mean it as a compliment. There’s not much fun about it, is there? I could also use a word like ‘prudish’.”
 
“Prudish??? I’m not prudish!”
 
“I say you are.”
 
“What do you know?
 
“Perhaps the whole galaxy knows. Anybody with just one eye on the holo press at last. When did you for example have sex last time?”
 
Luke blushed heavily. “I can’t see it to be either you or the galaxy’s business when I had it last time..”
 
“There you see. You’re prudish.”
 
“You’re arguing in a circle…” 
 
“C’mon, Skywalker, is there decades in between us, or just years?”
 
Luke’s eyes narrowed. “You want to believe that, don’t you? You’re point is that I’m a total bore. And you think that if a guy is nice he must be a bore too. How convenient.”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
“It makes it easier, doesn’t it? The brutes and swine’s you dump afterwards without consideration. But, if you‘d have good sex with a nice guy it wouldn’t be that easy would it?”
 
Mara snorted. “I’ve never had good sex with a nicey.”
 
“Perhaps it’s about time then?”
 
Her eyes widened. “You dare…”
 
“I do, yeah.”
 
They locked eyes.
 
And then they kissed again.
 
I watched them with mixed feelings. Tenderness, well wishes, nostalgia and doubt mingled together. But, two things I knew for sure.
 
I‘d had enough being a fly on the wall for an entire life. And, it was time to get out. This time without being caught.
 
I crawled over the balustrade and jumped back to the ramp. Without a sound I ran for a short distance and then slid in by one of the nearest windows. I reached out with my senses. The couple was completely absorbed and hadn’t noticed me.
 
Somebody else was coming, though. I hurried along to cut off the path.
 
It was Solo. “Corran!” I’ve been looking all over this place! Have you seen Luke?” he demanded.
 
“No.” I gave him an innocent look. Then I got an idea. “I’ve been searching for him, too. You know, I think he left the party some time ago. He’s probably asleep by now. You’ll have to contact him in the morning.”
 
Solo grunted somewhat displeased. “Well, I only wanted to tell him we got the press under control so he wouldn’t have to worry about whether the story would come out. But, I guess I have to tell him tomorrow then.”
 
He looked a little wryly at me. “Did you see what he was doing with Mara?”
 
“No.”
 
“Me neither,” Solo muttered. “It’s a bit annoying, actually. It’s easy to start to imagine things.”
 
“I guess it is.”
 
He frowned. “And you’re sure Mara hasn’t broken his neck, aren’t you?”
 
“I don’t think so. But, of course you never know with Mara.”
 
“I dare say!” He snorted. “You know, that woman makes even Leia appear like a toothless, tamed pittin. Anyway, I thought the kid should know that everybody was supporting him as one, now he again went head over heels into problems. What is it with that guy that if he’s not saving the galaxy he needs saving himself?”
 
Solo left the room, and after a while I followed, to once again try to find Mirax. I wondered what would happen between Mara and Luke. I doubted Mara really was ready for a relationship. Even if Luke’s handling of the situation had looked quite impressive, I knew that he only had to make one mistake to make her blow up in his face.”
 
Perhaps this was the last thing anybody would see of Luke Skywalker?
 
Or, perhaps not.
 
But, perhaps it was time for him to save himself.
 
There could still be many turns in this story.
 
 
 
© 2008 Kataja

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