Clubbed to Death
A/N: Gabri_Jade dared me to write a story with all her fanfic titles in it. She should have known better. So, this has the title of every fanfic she has written and posted to the date of this being written. The title is because I was listening to a song called 'Clubbed to Death', by Rob Dougan, while I was writing this. The title may not fit, but I think the music does. ;) Sorta. What was I supposed to call it?
I said no.
It was rebellion. It was defiance, remembrance, freedom; that word was all of those things, when I said it to him.
No, no, no, and I laughed. Not then; later. I laughed later. Then, everything had collapsed and changed around me, and refusing him seemed to be the only logical response. I realized afterwards that I should have said yes, lied if I could, and ran to the Rebellion. Out of his reach, and put up mental shields that he had taught me, that even he could not break through – so certain, he was, of my loyalty.
I found the file on my parents. I had never really thought of them before. I was Mara Jade, Emperor’s Hand, and to serve Palpatine was my life, my goal, all I focused on. It gave me satisfaction, even a certain degree of contentment, and pleasing him was important to me. Very all capably done, I know now. Training a Force-sensitive to obey isn’t enough, not to Palpatine. He knows all to well, as I did, of Vader’s secret desire to overthrow him. Any Force-sensitive is a threat, in Palpatine’s mind, because only a Force-sensitive could overthrow him. He is certain of this, though I don’t why.
I think I know less as time goes on, and I stare at these white walls. Waiting. For Force knows what. Why don’t I just tear out my veins, and end it all, instead of this? I know so little. Leeching, leaving. Like little wisps of smoke, going away, outside . . .
He killed them, my parents. My parents who loved me. I started to remember, when I read the file. I had repressed the memory, with the help of Palpatine’s other servants. It was the lie, really, that started it all, that made me begin my rebellion. It all began when I realized he had lied to me - his trusted servant. If he hadn’t lied, I’m not sure I would have made anything of it. If I had been raised to think it normal. But he lied, and when I knew that, I read further, I believed, and my view of him changed. He had murdered my parents, a red-haired young woman and her former-Jedi-initiate husband. He had sensed, in some strange fashion, my ability to communicate over long distances in the Force, and had felt it would be useful. Hutt-slime.
He had called to me, just then – perfect timing. Come, my Hand. And I came, and when he told me to go to Tatooine and kill Luke Skywalker, I said no.
He lied to me. He said he had rescued me from my parents, who fought against the Empire. I don’t know why I believed him; I knew he was capable of lying, of manipulation. It was a supreme arrogance, I think, that I thought I was somehow different. And with that one lie, that simple lie, that my parents fought the Empire – they hadn’t, my father simply had the shame of having once been in the Jedi’s care – everything changed in my mind. I wasn’t stupid, at least not in that sense. It was that lie that undid it all, my belief in the Empire, in him, totally unraveling.
I told him no. He was more than angry – he was enraged, captivated by his own fury. Blue lightning, so oddly the color of a beautiful sky, hit me and I fell. Sometimes I think he died and he brought me back to life, it hurt so greatly, that I do not understand why I survived.
He put me here as a punishment. It’s exactly six long steps, wall to wall. Square. The very floors and ceilings and walls shine with light, and it’s never ending. It’s never dark here, and I think that’s his sense of irony. I think it’s another little amusement of his that it’s never dirty here – I tried to smear my own waste on the light, to get it out, but I pass out and it disappears.
I think I’ve gone more than a little mad.
I see them sometimes, my parents. They always smile at me, talk to me, reassure me that someday everything will be okay, and someone will let me out. I’m not sure if I should believe them. They’re hallucinations, and I think that I know that makes me a little sane, but I talk to them anyway, and I think that makes me a little crazy. Mother always smiles at me, with perfect white teeth, and whenever I’m lonely, she holds out her hand and says, “Don’t worry, my sweet girl. Take a pocketful of mumbles.” And she murmurs to me fairytales.
I always giggle, when she tells me that.
She kicked my butt, the old Mara Jade, the first time I did that. She’s a caricature, really, a parody of independence and strength. She is me, of course, I’m not that crazy. In those times, it’s my old training, my old way of thinking, that kicks in, that tells me I should have waited, I should have lied to Palpatine, I should have survived at all costs. And I should have, but all that is lost now and all I have is what I have here. I don’t need that kind of strength anymore.
So I take those pocketfuls of fairytales, and wonder what fractured reality in my own mind comes up with them. That’s what they are – a fractured reality. They’re actually pretty close to real life. There’s no magic, no perfect endings. There’s pain and agony, but love and joy, too, and I think that’s real, sometimes.
I like my fairytales.
I laughed when I realized I’d won; the evil king lost in his failure to keep me. The light became immaterial, the walls translucent like smoke, and I could see that if only I could break it, I could reach through. I tried so hard, but when my attack became fierce, when I could feel the tendril of outside, everything became blurry and it snapped. It always snapped; so I stayed inside and laughed, because I still won. I think I was trying to claw my way out, but regardless, I still won.
I hum and sing, as my father teaches me songs. I don’t know where they came from, but I sing them when they’re gone. I think I’m saner, in those moments when I’m not hallucinating their presence, but I sing the songs anyway. My dearest love, my dear irritated, my dear heart, my dear anger . . . You sing that to a tune, you sing all those things and more, because lyrics are always being added by sentient beings as time goes on, my father says, and each new line is a story, and why don’t you add your own?
They aren’t there as he comes. My mother had reassured me again, with a new fairytale, and I’m happy, temporarily.
The door opens. I didn’t know there was a door, and for some reason, I didn’t expect it to be that wall. Outside there is darkness, and I marvel at the shadows. And the color. Oh, the color. It’s so unspeakably vivid. It overflows my mind, my eyes, filling me. I stare into his blue eyes, and try to touch them. He blinks, puzzled I think, and I laugh. He smiles, sadly, it’s hard to tell after so long, but I feel something from him, like he’s touching my mind.
I’m out of the room, he’s walking me down a hall, and I hum, because it makes me feel safe. He made my bed, and I knew it was mine because he made me lay down in it. There are others, soon, their colors bright. They speak in reassuring tones that remind me of my hallucinations.
The one with the blue eyes touches me with his hand, and I fall asleep.
When I wake, he tells me his name is Luke, and that he’s with the Rebellion, Palpatine is dead, and they’ve taken Coruscant. Luke Skywalker.
I scream and go for his throat, and for a while, there’s only blurriness.
I think I was angry at him, because he lived and so did I, but I was hurt for his living. I know I’m not totally there, as they say, not all the time. They chained me down with butterflies. It didn’t hurt, and I felt like I was flying, even when I couldn’t move. The butterflies flew away eventually, and I was glad to see them free. That’s when I knew I was free.
He’s here with me in the clinic every day. He talks to me, even when I don’t talk back, and it’s marvelous, because I know he’s real. I knew he was real when he touched my mind, because none of my hallucinations were ever able to do that, even though my father should have been able to, at least. He tells me about his childhood. He told me about Tatooine, and I wonder if I would have succeeded, if I had dropped that file that I was never supposed to see, if I had said yes and lived in denial of Palpatine’s lies. I was good; I don’t think he would have lived.
He’s gentle and kind. I’m glad I said no. He tells me the hallucinations were my way of coping with the white cell, my prison and my punishment. He explains it to me, about the fugues and what they mean, and I understand. That I understand is, I know, a good sign. He smiled, without any sadness, the first time I asked him to play holochess with me.
In holochess, I see infinite possibilities. All the choices, all the strategies. It’s amazing, beautiful, to finally realize that I do have choices and possibilities. I’m not in the cell anymore. I’m alive and free, and in a way, I know the white cell really freed me, like the lie that hurt me so freed me. I’m not Mara Jade, Emperor’s Hand, any longer. I’m Mara. Luke calls me Mara.
He’s still protective of me, though less so after the first time I got his lightsaber away from him, just to prove I could. I’m not a child, and I’m healing, and the farmboy needed a good kick to see that. We’re alike, in that sense – we both needed big kicks. Mine was saying no, and so was his – saying no to his father. He told me about that one day, very quietly, and it was like the file – history, what I thought of as history, was given a new dimension of understanding.
I love him, and I know he loves me. He’s still wary, but I’m patient; I’ll wait before I give him another good kick. I’ll wait until we’re both ready. I see tangled paths, like in the holochess – it’s so clearly laid out when you plan it, but things never go as planned. That’s okay.
“Checkmate,” I tell Luke as we sit in my bed, the hologame before us, and he laughs.