Love Letters Rating: PG
Many thanks to Csillag and to Wraith6 for being nice betas and not thinking I was going nuts for spending so much time trying to finish this one!
Gaeriel Captisan wondered if she should answer the transmission from Luke Skywalker. For one thing, he was gone now, out of her life forever. She had watched his ship leave Bakura; they had mutually agreed that he could not stay, and neither could she leave. It's not that she was afraid of Coruscant. She had spent a year there as an intern before being elected to the council on Bakura, but her whole upbringing and her whole training, her whole life belonged to Bakura.
In addition, her religion dictated that a maintained balance was foremost in life; she had been chosen for training and ascendance, while her sister went to a life of poverty. It was all about balance -- and she could not ignore her sister's sacrifice. She could not throw it all away to follow her heart, for it would throw the balance of accumulated choices completely out of order.
So she chose to stay on Bakura, and Luke was working to revive the Jedi Order. Her religion abhorred the Jedi, believing that they had hoarded too much power, and so the Force created the rise of the Sith to balance them. For every bit of lightness, there had to be an equal darkness.
There were no Jedi left, or so Gaeriel and everyone had believed, but then she met Luke and his sister, the Princess Leia Organa. They had helped Bakura battle the Ssi-ruuk as well as overthrow the yoke of the Empire. She had met a human boy named Dev Sibwarra, who also touched the Force and might have been Jedi, had he lived. And Luke had told her that she possessed the Force, too; it was what drew them together. There are no accidents in the Force, Luke had said.
It was too much, and the decision to push Luke away was an easy one. It was hard to let him go, of course, but she couldn't accept all that he stood for. But she regretted her immaturity in not being able to accept him for what he was, despite the repugnance she'd felt toward the Jedi.
And now a holomessage was here for her -- from him. Dare she open it?
She found she couldn't make herself delete it, and eventually she had to admit she couldn't ignore it, either. Alone in her chambers, she turned the volume down and cautiously opened it. To her relief, there was no image or voice, just a text transmission.
She resolved she wouldn't answer him. What did he mean by signing the note, "Love, Luke"? Was he crazy? Why pursue something that simply couldn't be? Was he hoping she'd melt over his clumsy letter and go to Coruscant to find him? What nerve!
The next morning she found herself exhausted, and her colleagues wondered if she was ill? "Nothing," she muttered, then explaining to them that the potential return of the Ssi-ruuk was still on her mind and she was still uncertain if they had enough policies set to create enough defenses. Gaeriel had been taken prisoner during the events that caused Bakura to join the New Republic, and everyone understood that balancing and recovering from such a trauma might take a long time.
Of course, the truth was that she had spend the night thinking about and analyzing Luke Skywalker. He had been ill when he came to Bakura, having battled the Emperor and Darth Vader and having killed them both. He'd been infected with trihoic worms by Imperial Governor Nereus, which had nearly eaten Luke's heart from the inside. Having eaten the same meal with him that contained the eggs of the monstrosities, she knew how close he was to being literally consumed. The thought of Luke's heart made her stomach flop over, but it wasn't nausea.
Why is it that only love can invoke such a reaction? Gaeriel thought back to the boys in her life who made her feel like this. They were all crushes -- intense, short-lived. She'd gotten over them. She'd get over Luke.
Why had he helped them? Because the New Republic needed as much support as they could muster, even distant Bakura's help. He was there to draft them into the new government entity. And he was infatuated with her and wanted to impress her. He had admitted that much.
But she knew these were both only part of the answer. Luke Skywalker put himself at great personal risk, and was even willing to risk the life of his sister, his friends and colleagues. And he did it because he knew it was the right thing to do for the galaxy as a whole. He wasn't foolishly suicidal; he did things with the overall benefit in mind. He was constantly balancing his needs against those of the galaxy.
Luke was wholly unlike any of the stories she'd heard of Jedi ever before. In truth, her religion of Cosmic Balance meshed closely with the philosophies of the Jedi -- something which had never occurred to her before she'd met Luke. He had taught her a lot.
Is that why she fell in love with him? Is that why she was terrified? In her fatigue as she sat listening to legal motions being put forth on the chamber floor, her mind was irresistibly drawn to believing the right thing to do -- for herself and even for the galaxy -- was to go with Luke, to learn more from him.
Perhaps even to be his lifemate. And perhaps to bear his children.
The thumping of her heart grew louder in her ears. Was that some Jedi mindtrick he'd played on her from afar? She wondered that no one in the government chambers didn't hear it.
As soon as she hit the "send" command, she grabbed her head with both hands, wondering what she had done? Hadn't she sworn she wouldn't answer him?
She reread the note and miserably felt relieved that it was an emotionally neutral one. It was polite, and perhaps Luke would read between the lines and realize she wasn't interested.
Then again, she had answered him, hadn't she?
* * * * *
She hadn't heard from Luke in many months, and decided he had understood her indifference. Gaeriel wondered why she'd felt disappointed; hadn't she hoped he'd stop writing?
Stop mooning around, Captisan! Gaeriel found herself in the habit of issuing herself stern orders now and again, You did too good a job in fending off the affection of that Jedi, she forced herself to curl her lip in disdain, well done!
She forced herself to carry on more cheerfully than she actually felt. Her colleagues were relieved that she seemed to have recovered from her trauma with the Ssri-ruuk. But her aunt Tiree was not fooled.
"Heard from that handsome Skywalker boy, love?" Gaeriel tried not to tense as the woman's tone went all syrupy.
"No." The fewer words the better.
"It's hard when it's not meant to be, isn't it?"
Trying not to stiffen, Gaeriel bought some time to maintain her composure by taking a sip of the tisane her aunt had brought in. "I don't know what you mean."
Her aunt smiled, "Eppie notices. She doesn't blame you; she's even said that if she were 100 years or so younger, she'd have shown you how foolish your feelings are by going after the Jedi herself ..."
"Tiree!" Gaeriel was stunned, "How could you! What an awful thing to ... to ..." She didn't really know what she was shocked about. Am I ... jealous?!? No!
* * * * *
But in moments when she felt depressed or upset at her work or personal life, her mind would always wander to the same place. And for some reason, it always drifted back to her feelings for the Jedi Knight. When he left, she felt relief at his leaving. She now understood that her feelings were like that because the wound was too fresh, a combination of regret and outrage. Now she could accept that she was in denial at the time. In fact, she'd made the right decision -- she'd made the right choice to stay on Bakura instead of following Skywalker. Nowhere needed her more than Bakura, especially now that her uncle Yeorg was retiring from being Prime Minister. No one needed her more than her uncle and aunt, who were now getting old.
But she couldn't help wondering how things would have been, if only ... Well, until this moment, she'd had no news about him, yet she knew he wasn't dead. Gaeriel couldn't explain herself, but it was simply a feeling.
And now this message! He was saying he missed her and wanted her. Well, not in so many words, but she'd have to be an idiot to not understand Luke's meaning. He still remembered her, and that fact made her tingle ...
No, Captisan ... No!
She couldn't let herself feel this way. She couldn't. He made her feel so vulnerable and weak! She hated feeling uncertain about herself -- a feeling she battled all her life. She remembered that she felt this emotion sharply when she was a young girl, and she realized she wasn't beautiful. Gaeriel Captisan was always cited as being talented, bright, studious ... but no one ever called her "beautiful." She remembered the sting of knowing that no matter what else she did, what other gifts she'd possessed, she would never be beautiful. Men would not do foolish things to possess her ...
That's probably why she succumbed so readily when someone paid her some attention, why she wasn't inwardly insulted when a man made obviously shallow comments about her skin, her smile ... she desperately wanted to be beautiful. It was a bit of vanity she never revealed to anyone, not even to her sister. It would make her seem ungrateful and silly, which flew in the face of the reputation she was building for herself.
She even felt flattered when the late Imperial Governor Nereus pressed his attentions on her. She told Yeorg and Tiree that she could take care of herself, she was doing it for the good of Bakura. But deep in her heart, she knew it was because she was flattered.
Gaeriel wondered why a young, handsome, powerful man like Luke Skywalker might find her attractive? He'd intimated that he felt her Force powers were strong, like they were for Eppie Belden, who'd survived the implantation of brain parasites for so many years. Luke was able to teach her how to repel the bugs and to heal herself. Did she truly have such powers? But mostly, it was because Luke was in love with her. The feeling of being wanted was intoxicating. She craved it ... and feared it.
There was only one thing for it ... this time, don't write back!
* * * * *
Gaeriel sat at her workstation without blinking, staring at a simple text message sent from some far away place.
Should I answer him? If I do, he'll know to leave me alone. But I don't want him to stop writing ...
* * * * *
She found herself wishing he was there to comfort her in her weakness, but as she wept, she was glad he couldn't see her in her sorrow. For one, it would not do to see a Prime Minister crying over a silly letter from a man she knew so many years ago. He had met someone he could love and share his life with; she was happy for him. But she was very sad for herself. She realized that she'd never been involved with any man in all the years since she'd last set eyes on Luke Skywalker. Why was that?
Because she was busy taking care of Eppie, and her aunt and uncle. She had many responsibilities, was doing important work. She had trained envoys to Coruscant, carefully repaired problems with Bakuran politics that had caused them to capitulate quickly to the Empire when they had been invaded. But mostly, it's because she was in love with Luke Skywalker, and had always believed that he would come back for her.
But he'd moved on in his life. He had found Jedi and was educating and training them. He had found love in a woman with an old soul and a new body, and he loved her even though the basis of their meeting had changed. She was happy for him. Honestly. She was. It's just that ...
You ARE the foolish one, Captisan, Gaeriel had not gotten out of the habit of scolding herself in these sorts of cases, and you're jealous! Don't lie to yourself! You're green-eyed with jealously, not just of the woman he's found, but because YOU haven't moved on! Look at your life, what do you have in your life to compare with Luke's?
With a violent jolt, she was filled with a heart-broken, eye-stinging, angry energy, her eyes lit upon an enormous bouquet of flowers on her desk. They had arrived a short time ago by special messenger, just as she received the note from Luke. In her distraction, she hadn't take the time to look at the holocard. She punched the "accept" command and to her surprise, the image of a man she hadn't thought about in a long while appeared and started speaking to her.
"Prime Minister, I offer my congratulations on your election! As head of Bakuran Home Security, I beg that you remember the fleet and it's purpose, and I invite you make a formal inspection of the Carrack-class carrier that is our command ship. The troops and volunteers would be honored and grateful for your appearance, and will assure full support for your administration --"
The remainder of this formal political greeting and request was lost on her. Gaeriel picked up the card and looked at the sender's name: Commander Pter Thanas. He was the Imperial commander who defected to the Alliance after Governor Nereus had been killed, then had re-outfitted the captured Ssri-ruuk and Imperial ships for Bakuran Home Security. He'd known Luke ... For some reason, she suddenly wanted to be with someone else who had known the Jedi.
Making up her mind and acting quickly before she could change it, she comm'd her assistant and told her to make an appointment to tour the Bakuran flagships, in the company of Commander Thanas. She obeyed her urge to see him, not restraining herself or holding back this time! Gaeriel felt a rush as she surrendered to this sudden need -- she'd always looked at things from all angles, had considered the impact of her actions, had balanced her needs against those of others', and she was fiercely tired of it. She'd done it all her life, and most especially with Jedi Luke Skywalker, and look what that had gotten her!
She punched some keys on her workstation and quickly scanned files to see what she could learn about this suddenly interesting Pter Thanas. He was an off-worlder, of course -- a foreigner. He'd performed his duties after his defection admirably, bringing Bakuran defenses up to adequate standards with very few credits and resources at his disposal. She pressed some buttons that lead to personal information ... he was significantly older than she remembered ... had been previously married ... was tall ...
Nothing at all like Skywalker -- perfect! A seductive smile played over Gaeriel's lips. I'll show him ...
* * * * *
Gaeriel Captisan and Pter Thanas were married quietly; spokespeople for both explained that they did not feel justified having a big state wedding. They were still in a rebuilding phase of their history after all, and diverting public funds for such an event was "frivolous" according to the Prime Minister.
It was such a low-key event that the report escaped notice by nearly all of the HoloNews services.
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