Author's Webpage: http://adult.dencity.com/lianne/
Series: The Vacation Series, #1
Summary: Lando decides to drag Luke off for a long-overdue vacation.
Luke Skywalker stood on top of the great pyramid on Yavin Four, looking out over the jungle. The last of the daylight was fading, painting the greenery with shades of orange and red. Down below, he could hear the shouts and laughs of his students, enjoying their free time before the evening meal. He closed his eyes and let the force inherent in the pyramid sink in, calming him with its ancient solidity. He sighed, and tried to let go of the mild depression that had become all too familiar over the years. In the back of his mind, he wondered what he was doing up here, feeling melancholy, instead of being down below, with everyone else.
The answer was that he was lonely. Even in a crowd, he felt alone. To his students he was Master Skywalker, teacher. To his peers, even the ones he fought beside in the Rebellion, he was Luke Skywalker, last of the old Jedi Knights, first of the new and war hero. To politicians of the new Republic, he was either an enemy or a potential tool. To just about everyone else he was a legend, and one didn't get too close to legends. The only ones who didn't treat him this way were his sister, Leia, her husband, Han, their children and Lando. But they were all far away.
Callista hadn't treated him that way either. He'd fallen in love with her when she had only been a ghost, existing inside an ancient computer. Then, when one of his students had followed her lover into death, Callista had been able to take her body, becoming corporeal again. But in physical form, she'd been unable to touch the force. He'd done everything he could to help her, but it hadn't been enough. Finally, she had left him, going on a quest to try to relearn what she had once known.
It had been months before he'd heard from her again, and then it was only a warning for his sister. Still, he'd done his best to find her. But in the end she'd sent a message through Leia. They didn't belong together anymore. It had been like a blade through his heart, but he had accepted. He'd returned to Yavin Four, to the Jedi Academy. He'd thrown himself into his duties there, but deep in his heart, he'd hoped that Callista would come back to him.
She hadn't, and after a year he'd finally accepted that she wasn't going to.
He was alone, and seemed likely to stay that way.
A few days later he had pushed aside the self-pity fest. In his mind he could hear his teacher, Master Yoda, warning that the darker emotions led to the dark side of the Force. He'd been there once and had no desire to visit a second time.
Luke was in the courtyard, supervising a group of students as they practiced removing a single leaf from a pile. The exercise had two points. First, to identify the one leaf that did not match the rest in the pile, and second, to extract it while not disturbing the rest. One by one, each of them worked through the exercise, effort and strain obvious on each face. Some might think this less impressive than shifting a stone as large as a spaceship, but it actually required as much, if not more effort. Certainly, it required much more control.
Speaking of spaceships... Luke looked up as a small ship descended towards the landing field next to the main pyramid which housed the academy. He quickly recognized the ship as the latest Lady Luck, Lando Calrissian's ship. For some reason the man insisted on naming each of his ships the same, although he'd never explained why. Luke touched the Force, wondering if something was wrong to bring Lando here, but he didn't feel any disturbances that might indicate danger. "Continue with the exercise," he instructed his students as he headed in the direction of the landing field. As he moved through the jungle, along the path leading from the landing field to the inhabited area, he wondered about what could have brought Lando to Yavin. Finally, he gave a rueful laugh. Speculation was pointless. He would know when Lando told him and not before.
As he came up to the ship, he suddenly found himself swept into a crushing hug. He grinned as Lando pounded his back. There was something so cheerful about the man that seemed to demand bright spirits from everyone around him. Even a Jedi master could not be immune to the man. Luke felt a knot inside loosen up at being around the man.
When Luke pulled back, Lando was grinning from ear to ear. "How are you doing, kid?" the man asked, swinging an arm around Luke's shoulders and heading towards the school. "Anything interesting happening lately?"
"No," Luke replied, shaking his head. "It's been quiet lately. Not that I'm complaining," he added quickly. "Quiet is very good."
"Yeah, but too much quiet can drive a man nuts. Besides, I know you. Quiet means that you're working yourself twice as hard."
"There's a lot to do," Luke said, a touch wistful. There was always a lot to do. Some days it seemed like he would never reach a time where he could sit back and say 'I'm done. Time to look for something new'. "And what about yourself? After all, how many businesses are you running these days? Not to mention the time you spend on diplomatic duty, the great war hero, General Calrissian."
Lando snorted at that. "War hero, my ass," he said as they moved into the courtyard. They were already focus of interest for many of the students. "Actually, that's why I'm here. My aides told me that I was working too hard and ordered me to take a vacation. Kicked me right out of my office and told me not to come back until I'd done some proper relaxing. But solitary vacations are dull, dull, dull. So I asked myself. Who do I know who needs a vacation just as badly?"
Lando turned and looked at Luke. Luke frowned at him, realizing what the man was suggesting. "No," he said firmly. "I couldn't..."
The two men turned, almost jumping. Luke was surprised that he hadn't even felt the approach of his student. The silver-haired woman was one of his oldest students and one of his most valuable, although others were stronger in the Force.
"Because there is too much to do here..." he said, but Tionne stopped him with a raised hand.
"Master Skywalker," she said in her soft voice. "You do work too hard. You never leave here anymore, unless you are going to help someone in trouble. A vacation would be a good thing for you."
"But the students..."
"You have trusted myself and others to teach in your absence before. Where is the difference between you leaving for a mission and leaving for a vacation? Go. We will be fine."
By this point several more of his older students had approached, all making sounds of assent. Luke thought of refusing anyway, then changed his mind. After all, it couldn't hurt, could it?
"How can I say no? All right, Lando. I guess you've got a travel companion."
Lando whooped in triumph.
Lando stowed Luke's bags in the Lady Luck's compartments, listening in amusement to the stream of last-minute instructions that the young man was giving his deputies. This was probably one of the few times that he had left Yavin Four where he wasn't either in a rush or distracted by what he was leaving to do. Tionne, the elderly Kam Solusar and the green- skinned clone, Dorsk 81 all listened intently but with smiles. Several of Luke's students had already taken him aside to tell him that he should make sure that 'Master Skywalker' relaxed during the trip. Of course, they weren't the only ones. Leia had also promised him rewards if he could get her twin to actually have some fun for once when he'd contacted her about his plan.
"Well, kid. Ready to go?"
Luke looked like he was considering changing his mind, so Lando grabbed his arm and hustled him up the ramp. Luke's students hurried away from the field, waving as they left.
Luke slipped easily into the co-pilot's seat as Lando started up the engines and prepared to lift off. He checked the indicators to make sure that all hatches were sealed and all systems were online. Next to him, Luke checked the weapons and environmental systems. When he was done he nodded to Lando and they were off.
The take-off was textbook perfection. As usual, Lando thought to himself. He might be an administrator these days, but he was still a damn good pilot. Once out of the atmosphere, he punched in the coordinates for the jump to hyperspace. For a moment the stars seemed to turn into streaks of color against the black background of space.
"So," Luke said as Lando shut down the non-essential systems for the long glide through hyper-space. "Are you going to tell me where we're going? Or should I just guess?"
Lando grinned. "What, don't you trust me?" Luke snorted. Lando was pleased to see the lines of strain in the young man's face starting to ease. Luke was still barely more than a kid, as far as he was concerned, but he always seemed to have the weight of the galaxy resting on his shoulders.
"Well, I thought we might head to Sandrica, in the Ohmos system," Lando said casually, then glanced over at Luke. "I hear it's a great vacation spot."
Luke shook his head, grinning. "And home to one of the biggest gambling emporiums in the sector," he pointed out.
"Detail, details." Lando replied with a wave of his hand. "And I have a friend there that says that they recently uncovered an ancient museum in the ruins of Old Town. He contacted me, since he thought there were some Jedi-related object. He figured that I would have better luck letting the right people know about them."
As he expected, Luke perked up at that. Even before he'd started the Jedi Academy, Luke had spent a great deal of time hunting for the remnants of the old Jedi society - especially their training techniques. As teacher to the next generation, he'd become even more intent on this quest. Unfortunately, the late and very unlamented Emperor Palpatine had also devoted a great deal of time to destroying anything to do with the Jedi. Needless to say, that made Luke's quest a difficult one.
Luke was now eyeing him suspiciously. "Why do I get the feeling that this wasn't a spur of the moment decision? Just how long have you been planning on this?"
Lando put on his best innocent look. The young man obviously wasn't buying it, though. Finally Lando sighed. "Since Tronin contacted me, a few weeks back. You're not upset, are you?"
"No," Luke said with a smile. "You're right. I do need a vacation." His expression darkened. "Sometimes I feel like I haven't really had the chance to relax since I left home with Ben."
The bleakness in Luke's tone worried Lando. He reached over and squeezed Luke's shoulder, and was rewarded with a soft smile. Yeah, getting Luke to take a vacation had definitely been a good idea.
They were almost ready to drop out orbit at the Ohmos system when the unthinkable happened. Of course if Han Solo was there to ask, he would have made a smart comment about it being inevitable, not unthinkable. No doubt followed by a few sharp comments about the ship's condition, against which Lando would make an impassioned defense.
But whatever you said about the ship, the flashing lights and sounding alarms said that there was a problem. Lando started cursing as he punched up readings on the data screen in front of him.
"What's going on?" Luke asked, coming from the back compartment. His hair was sticking in several directions and he was wearing only a loose pair of pants, testaments to the fact that the young man had been taking a nap before their arrival at Sandrica.
"A fuel line is blocked. Temperatures in the fuel system are rising to dangerous levels. I'm dropping into normal space." His hands flashed across the familiar controls and outside the viewport star streaks appeared, then solidified into a stationary starfield.
"Shutting down the fuel system," Lando announced as he did so.
Luke checked the readouts, then nodded as the temperatures dropped back down to normal. "Do we call for help?" he asked, indicating the comm system with a jerk of his chin. This close to Sandrica there wouldn't be a problem getting a repair yard to send a tow-ship, it would just be expensive. Lando checked the ship schematics, even though he had them memorized.
"No, the blockage is in one of the areas we can get to from inside the ship. Let's see if we can deal with it ourselves before we call for a tow."
Dealing with the problem took nearly six hours of labor. Lando had several cabinets in the ship loaded with spare-parts for the most commonly damaged systems, but thankfully they weren't be needed for this repair. All that was necessary was some elbow-grease and a lot work in tight quarters as they sealed off the affected systems, dismantled them and cleaned out the blockage.
After checking that the system was clean and functioning, they both indulged in sponge baths to wash off the resulting grime, a luxury on a small spaceship where there was only enough room to carry water supplies intended for consumption. Lando figured it was all right, since it would only take an hour to finish the trip to Sandrica, where they would be able to replace the water.
By the time they had washed and eaten, both men were yawning.
"Sleep, before we continue. Piloting while tired is a good way to end up dead," Lando said, pulling down the other fold-up bed in the passenger compartment. Never one to stint himself on luxuries, the beds were both spacious and well padded. Linens, pillows and blankets came from the cabinet revealed when one of the beds was pulled down.
Luke didn't protest. He just climbed back into the bed that he'd abandoned when the fuel system had gone on the blink. Lando changed into a loose pair of pants and followed his example.
It was strange, he thought to himself an hour later. Strange how you could be so exhausted that you were too tired to sleep. Lando rolled over for the umpteenth time and looked across the room to where Luke was sleeping.
It turned out that Luke wasn't sleeping. In the dim light, Lando could see the young man's eyes open and looking back at him. Luke's mouth curved into a lop-sided smile.
"Can't sleep either?"
"Too tired," Lando replied.
Luke turned onto his back, staring at the ceiling. His mood seemed to have turned bleak again, worrying Lando. He'd noticed for a while that Luke's moods seemed to frequently turn dark. Lando couldn't help comparing Luke to the cheerful young farmer boy turned pilot and Jedi trainee that he'd first met, and according to Leia that young man had been much quieter than the brash kid who'd rescued her from the first Death Star.
"Lando? Why was it so important for you that I go on this vacation with you?"
Lando stayed quiet for a moment before replying. "Because you really need it. Ever since Callista... Well... You've seemed depressed, so I kept an eye out for an opportunity, and when it came I took it."
"Depressed? I... suppose so."
"Why, Luke? Is it just because of Callista leaving? Or is it more? C'mon, kid. You can tell me."
Luke snorted. "You know, you're one of the few I can tell. Not many confessors for 'Skywalker, Jedi Knight, Hero of the Rebellion' out there. Not many people see past that, or even want to."
Lando closed his eyes, thinking of his own dealings with people who saw only 'General Calrissian, hero' as well. "I know how you feel."
"Do you really? At least there are people who remember you from before the Rebellion. Most of the people I knew are dead. And even the ones who see you as 'hero' aren't afraid of you. That hurts the most, you know. The ones who draw away, partly in awe, but mostly in fear of me and what I can do. It makes for a lonely life."
Lando sighed. "You're not the only one, kid. I might have more opportunities, but they don't want me, they want the war hero, the man with connections, and it isn't enough. It would be nice to be wanted for just me for a change."
"Who do you want?" Luke asked, propping himself up on one elbow. "Have you ever considered that? Pursuing someone you want, that is."
Lando smiled at the ceiling. "Oh, there's been a few. None of them really obtainable, though, so I haven't pursued them."
"Like who?" Luke sounded genuinely curious and no longer quite as depressed.
"Winter. As in the intelligence officer who bodyguards Han and Leia's kids? That Winter?"
Lando laughed. "Not very practical, is it?"
"Mara Jade, not that she'd give me the time of day. She's made that quite clear. Leia, if she weren't so obviously in love with Han."
"I see what you mean by unobtainable. Anyone else?"
Lando kept silent for a moment, wondering if he should say it. Why not, he finally decided. After all, he was a gambler. "You."
Lando smiled. Luke's voice had practically squeaked. For once, Luke actually sounded younger than his age. "Yes, you. Why not? The first time I really got a look at you I had just dragged you through the Falcon's access hatch from that antenna that you were hanging from, beneath Cloud City. You were missing a hand, battered and bruised and barely conscious, and all I could think was that you were beautiful. The more I got to know you, the more I realized that you were beautiful, in every sense of the word."
"You never said anything."
"I didn't think that I had a chance and your friendship was too valuable to risk."
More silence, followed by the rustle of linen. Lando turned his head and saw Luke get up and cross the room. He moved over, silently, making room for Luke to climb in next to him. Luke moved just close enough that they were touching, both looking up at the ceiling.
"You had more than just a chance." The voice was quiet, but the words seemed to ring out in the room. "You are one of the few people that I truly trust, with my life and more."
Lando rolled over so that he was looking down into Luke's face. He reached a finger to trace Luke's cheekbone, distracted for a moment by the contrast between his dark skin and Luke's paleness in the dim light.
"Are you sure?"
Luke's lips curled into a small, slightly sad smile. "I'm tired of being alone, Lando."
Lando lowered his head slowly, watching for any signs of hesitance. There were none, so he gave into urges that had become oh-so-familiar over the last ten years. He dropped his face down until their lips met, first brushing against each other lightly, then sealing together. The contact flashed through his nerves like the finest of liquors, like the high of glitterstim. He was drowning and he didn't care. All he cared was that a dream was being realized.
Oxygen deprivation finally forced them apart. Lando looked into Luke's eyes and saw what almost looked like... awe. He brushed his fingers through the blond hair, smiling. Then a yawn forced its way out, and suddenly his fatigue was overwhelming.
Luke laughed, a sound filled only joy and amusement this time. "Go to sleep, Lando. We've got all the time in the world. After all, isn't this one of the things that vacations are for?"
"Yeah," Lando said with a grin, his eyes already drifting shut. A vacation with no timetable. A lot of time for...
Luke watched Lando as he fell asleep. He could feel his own fatigue trying to drag him into slumber, but he held it off for a while. Instead, he examined his companion's face. Lando's lips were swollen from the kiss they'd exchanged moments ago, and they curved into a beautiful smile.
Lando. He never would have expected this from the man. But there was no denying the man's sincerity. He genuinely wanted Luke, and not just as a bedmate. Many people considered the man to be a playboy, but Luke couldn't remember the last time he'd seen him in the company of a lover. No, Lando kept to himself most of the time, surrounded only by close friends.
And just as he couldn't deny the man's sincerity, he couldn't deny how... right this felt. Like he'd suddenly turned around and seen something that had been patiently waiting to be noticed all this time. Well, he'd finally noticed and he had no intentions of letting this chance slip through his fingers.
Lando shifted in his sleep and his arms tightened, drawing Luke in closer. The sleeping man made a noise of contentment, which Luke echoed.
No, he thought. He wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
Luke snuggled in closer to Lando and closed his eyes. Sleep carried him away, warm and safe in Lando's arms.
This vacation was going to be wonderful.
To Continue On...
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