Dance Away from the Blade
A/N: Thanks to Gabri for (briefly) looking this over. I found this in my docs (along with two other fics I will finish ... someday), after forgetting about it for a while. *blush* I've fiddled with a lot, but I'm tired of fiddling, so here we are. :p
Endless vagaries were being created; movement was sharply defined now. Breath had meaning, significance, consequence. He did not dance away from the blade; it danced away from him, clumsy and inarticulate, fighting against the smallest of ripples in the Force, missing him by a moment and eternity, that strike forever gone. He moved within the waves, untouched and swept away.
Precision was all. He exhaled to it, obeyed every flicker and warning. There was no thought; there was existence within action.
Again, it broke the wave, failing to heed every caress and failing for it. The blue blade's heat did not touch his cheek, so close but not felt. He heard her sharp breath, preparation for another strike, and she had already failed, breath, body and movement no longer in concert.
The blow almost seemed to land as he gracefully turned his body, but it had never been close in his mind, the whispers of the Force unconcerned.
He could feel her frustration, how she reached out for the Force in greater depth, determination guiding her. Closer now, the whispers sharper and more intent, and she failed again, as he remained untouched.
"Do you see now?" a voice said, creating more eddies, waves tilting in reaction to the softly spoken words.
She twitched, and a great enough error was caused – he slipped through her strike, into her guard, beyond her walls of defense. She stumbled back just briefly, but more than enough, and she brought out her leg, trying to kick him and bring him to his knees as her lightsaber swung around.
Yet she still possessed that single moment of breath, the body and the Force becoming unaligned.
"The Force is capable of many great things," the voice continued, not heedless of the effect of words in the Force. Aware.
He stepped away and around her, watching her green eyes narrow. He knew that look well, but listened to the Force with the same carefulness, never presuming.
A feint and a slash, and she got closer this time, inhaling and exhaling, her guard disappearing as she moved closer into the Force. He felt the heat of her blade, the tension in her regard, but he did not fear. Her defense was falling but not failing, reaching at last for that final breach. Defense was the result of scars, and within the Force, all scars passed away.
There was movement, there was now, not fear of what will be, of what was.
The standards of saber technique faded from her repertoire. Now there was him and her, the currents of the Force, the tiny shifts and variations.
He had to be perfect now, to escape her forceful strikes. The blade sizzled it came so near, not quite burning, but its presence was known.
"What is a warrior?" the voice continued. "Do you see the precision of their battle, the inequality?"
He listened to the smallest of differences, obeying them, moving within them. Still her blows did not land, but she was more graceful now, the empty strikes not putting her off-balance, but he could see now her becoming aware of those strikes and the variations they created, the movements they demanded in turn.
"Who is greater? She has the weapon, yet he is untouched."
She was learning every moment, every strike becoming more refined, like the softly spoken, perfect poem. Each line brought her closer to the end, becoming part of a greater whole. The whispers were spoken to her, as well, and he listened, waiting for when hers would equal his.
"And what, then, when equality is reached? What is a warrior? A fighter?"
He closed his eyes, dodging, his movements becoming bigger, wider, with each sharper strike. His every breath, his body and every movement were open to the Force. Hesitations that were scars of past struggles were non-existent. There was now. There was trust.
Her frustration had faded, her joy had increased.
"A warrior is a teacher."
She was leaping now in what appeared to be aborted movements, fractures of strategy. Every call, every whisper was heard. Her defenses were nearly gone, now, but there was no vulnerability in trust. The Force demanded it of its servants, and in return, guidance was given.
"And what is taught?"
He moved, and though the strikes were getting even closer, every one perfecting the next, he did not feel fear. There was knowledge. There was serenity. There was no death. There was the Force.
"To overcome the enemy with what you believe, with the truth; that is more than victory, and to die as such is to live forever in your student."
She was attuned to the slightest vagary now. He went completely still, the waves stilling around him, decision made, and the Force rejoiced at it, perfection achieved, if only briefly, in surrender.
The blow did not fall.
Luke slowly opened his eyes. Mara stood before him, her lightsaber in hand, her blade at his neck. She slowly shifted out of her ready stance, the blade moving away and then extinguishing. Her red hair clung to her face and neck, wet with sweat, and her body was similarly soaked. But she had a broad grin on her face, one that Luke slowly matched. He could still feel the Force between them, intense in the way of a quiet whisper when there is nothing else to be heard.
He exhaled carefully, wiping his sweaty forehead, realizing he was probably in no better shape than Mara was. That had been physically demanding, though the Force flowed through him even clearer than before the fight, and he still felt breathless in awe of it –
"And that, you see, is what a warrior is," Ben Skywalker finished softly, fondly watching his parents, and meeting his father's gaze with his ice blue eyes. His lanky form looked graceful in stillness, as he sat beside his students.
Luke walked over to him, the shifts and variations in the Force still swaying in rhythm to Luke and Mara, and ruffled his son's short, reddish hair affectionately. "But to live and see your student is just as great a gift," he added quietly to his son's words.
Ben shoved his hair into a semblance of order, grinning. He looked at his mother, clearly – to Luke's eyes – noting that their reactions to each other's movements hadn't diminished, even though the battle was over.
"Thanks, Dad." He grinned crookedly at Luke, with the exact same sort of swagger his uncle put into it. It remained a mystery to Luke how the two could be so alike, and yet not be related by blood. Ben looked over at his still speechless students. They varied in age, these ones taking the first full steps towards becoming Knights, as Ben himself was now a Master. They were young and old, coming from all parts of the galaxy to learn to be a Jedi, and learn what it meant to be one, as well.
"Do I get a thanks, too?" Mara teased, walking to stand beside Luke, him moving automatically to allow her into his space. "I was the other half of the demonstration, if the less impressive half," she added, giving Luke a dark look and taking his hand in hers.
"Of course, Mom," Ben replied. He turned to his students. "Well? What else is a Jedi?"
"Polite?" a young woman said archly, raising an eyebrow.
"Exactly," Ben said dryly, shooting her a quelling look. Luke had a feeling that young woman in particular was going to make an interesting Padawan for someone. Ben, maybe. The Force was still on the matter, like someone who didn't want to tell a secret.
"Thank you, Masters," they all murmured, not exactly in harmony.
Ben rose to his feet with the ease of an athlete, giving Mara kiss on the cheek. Then he gestured to the group of students. "Well, come on," he said, and as they clumsily rose, still shooting Luke and Mara disbelieving looks, Ben set off out of the room without another word. There was no point in dallying, was Ben’s sometimes strict way of looking at things. The students followed, minds still clearly dwelling on what they had seen.
Mara lay her head on Luke's shoulder, watching them, and her arm came around him, her hand resting lightly on his stomach. "That was quite a demonstration, Master Jedi," she whispered into his ear, smiling broadly.
"You looking for a more personal one?" Luke teased.
She slapped him on the stomach, hard. "Maybe." She slipped away as he turned, becoming like water as he tried to grasp her wrist, but the brush of her skin against his was warm. He turned around, meeting her even gaze.
"You did well," Luke commented. A demonstration like that wasn't something they often did, and Mara's mastering of it in the process hadn't been a play – she hadn't ever gotten that far before. She had been the one to make him realize the truth, in listening to the Force instead of using it, but she had never been able to strike him even weaponless as he had been. She had been the first to set him firmly on the path to understanding why Jedi only carried lightsabers – and he had realized, eventually, that he need carry nothing at all, if he could hear the Force, and trust it.
She shrugged lightly, though Luke sensed a heavy, overwhelming peace in her. "I'm still learning. Always learning," she said softly. Luke was still learning to listen to the quiet voice of the Force, to understand what the Force was. Love took new meaning every day, when he looked into Mara's eyes. She added, "I learn from you, you learn from me, it's a good bargain."
Luke smiled. "I get to spend a lot of time with the person I love – more than a good bargain, for me," he said, moving forward, holding out his hands. The Force still spoke, in its voiceless way, telling a tale of equilibrium.
She stepped into his arms, and a dance of a different kind began.