Mara sure doesn't.
"Do you believe in love, Luke?" Mara asked idly, the question both forming in her mind and being spoken nearly simultaneously, one finger tracing the curve of the whisky bottle she was drinking from.
Luke moved from his position by the hatchway of the Jade's Fire, no longer leaning against the frame. Mara was sitting on the floor in its hold, an empty bottle of Corellian whisky beside her, and another in her hand, only half-full. Her hair was dirty and lank, pulled back from her face with a simple tie. Luke eyes rested on her for long moments, something sad stirring in the blue depths.
Mara grabbed the bottle again, and took a good-sized swig, as she had mindlessly been doing for the past hour. Luke watched silently, as he had been doing for the past few minutes.
After a second's hesitation, Luke quietly walked to her and sat down in front of her. He took the bottle from her hand and placed it out of her reach.
"Well?" Mara said, raising an eyebrow.
"If you mean do I believe it exists, the answer is yes." He remained calm, gaze steady on hers.
Mara waved a hand, fingers twitching as if she wanted the bottle. "I know it exists," she said dismissively. "But do you think it does any good? You can still hurt someone if you love them. They can still hurt you. What the hell is love, really? People act like it's so special, but it's really just an emotion, like any other."
"Love is more than an emotion," Luke gently disagreed. "Even if it can manifest itself in them. Can an emotion change a person's life? What they are?"
"Well, it's not like Vader lived long enough for you to tell if it was just a passing emotion," Mara said nastily.
Luke raised an eyebrow, though she saw a flash of regretful hurt. "Do people die for passing emotions, Mara?"
Mara stared at the empty bottle, which Luke hadn't bothered to move. "Maybe." People died in the heat of the moment, of emotion, for stupid things. She'd seen it before. Of course, she had also seen people act wildly out of character for something she simply didn't understand. Hell, who knew if even they understood it.
"What's the matter, Mara?" Luke asked softly, concern tingeing his tone. "I've never seen you like this; I didn't know you could be like this."
"It's a passing phase, Skywalker," Mara replied offhandedly. "I do this every once in a while. Kinda like a good cry - you just need one occasionally." Every other year or so . . . it had only been one since she had first truly met Luke.
Luke didn't say anything for a moment as Mara blearily closed her eyes. "You don't believe in love, Mara?"
"I'd think that fairly obvious," Mara snapped, opening her eyes in irritation. Luke said nothing, and the silence crawled into her, muffling and deafening. Break, she thought, speaking just to speak. "It's all so pointless," she continued. "People love, but they still hate, and sometimes they hate the person they love." Like you, she thought, as her words veered off in another direction. "Everything is a blur of who thinks what right and wrong is. I killed people, and it seemed right at the time. I wanted to live, and that was all that mattered. I liked my position. Wasn't that right?"
Luke hesitated visibly. "Mara . . . we all possess some knowledge of right and wrong. Call it instinct, call it a gift of the Force, but we all have it. Ethical codes change little from world to world, species to species and culture to culture. How do you explain that? There's always some defining point."
"Which is always changing to suit your views at the time," Mara pointed out cynically.
"Only when you base everything on yourself," Luke replied. His hands were loosely on his knees. He looked obscenely relaxed.
"And what should it be based on? Love?" Mara sneered. She reached forward, off-balance and teetering on her knees, reaching for the whisky bottle that had some drink left in it.
Luke moved it farther away, and Mara overcompensated in trying to reach for it. He instantly grabbed her arm, steadying her, and she lurched back into a sitting position with a glare, yanking herself away. Luke's mouth twitched, but he didn't comment on her clearly drunken state despite the fresh opportunity.
"Don't you feel it?" Luke asked softly, leaning forward slightly and not reacting to her anger.
She felt the Force touch her, bringing with it waves of guilt and grief mixed with memories. It was not the Force that was showing her the wrongness in her past. It wasn't. "Stop it, Luke," she said tiredly. "Stop that Force crap."
"I'm not doing anything to you," Luke said, unruffled.
"So I was wrong, was I?" Mara said, gesturing with one hand to encompass everything - her whole life.
"Why don't you tell me?" Luke returned easily.
Mara pursed her lips. "You can be a real piece of Hutt slime. So certain of yourself."
"I'm certain of very little, Mara, but the Force."
"And love? Certain of love, too?"
Luke looked thoughtful. "Love is . . . supernatural, I've always thought. Not a force of nature, but more than that. Even you can't deny its power, its effect. Can you?"
Mara laughed bitterly. Bitter dreams. "And when love is twisted? Used to use and abuse another? When it's nothing more than a tool to shape you, to manipulate you?"
"That's not love, Mara, that's an exercise of power."
Luke paused. "You are guilty of your crimes, Mara," he said softly. Mara flinched, but he continued inexorably. "Though there is also forgiveness. I've little doubt you've been loved, and used the power of that love, while never knowing the love itself. One of your targets, perhaps . . . you speak of it as one with experience."
"I hate you," Mara hissed, rising to her feet. Luke's words were cutting, making her bleed. Oh yes, she knew how to use love. She had used it against one of her first targets. Luke rather reminded her of him, because although they looked nothing alike, they both had that same earnestness that made Mara want to scream.
Luke didn't stop speaking, just rose with her. "And yes, Palpatine did have power over you, and he did use it. And on your part, there was love; but there was none on his. You loved out of ignorance or willful blindness, but the love itself wasn't tainted. I imagine you even liked serving Palpatine, and love is never selfish."
Mara choked out a sob. "I hate love," she wept, turning away. Her movements were sloppy, wide and awkward. She crashed into the bulkhead more than leaned against it. Her sight swerved, and her emotions spun ever more out of control. She was undeniably drunk to let them go so far.
Luke stepped forward, close enough to touch but not touching. "Don't," he requested softly.
"It's nothing but pain!"
"The pain isn't from the love, Mara, it's from the lack," Luke said quietly.
Mara turned to face him, face streaked with tears. "Then make it stop!"
Luke gathered her into his arms. She was little more than a bundle of awkward movements, arms and legs, and she collapsed against him, unable to hold herself together. She never was when she did this, but never before had there been anyone but herself to bring her back together.
"I will," Luke said into her hair, stroking it back tenderly. "But you have to let everything else go."
It felt hard for Mara to breathe, she was so constricted in her pain. Let everything that wasn't love go? It wasn't possible. It wasn't. "Where the hell did you get so wise?" she said with a sarcastic edge.
She felt his shrug.
"Life," he replied. "Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. Vader and Anakin. Obi-Wan and his lies. Leia and her love." He hesitated. "Loss."
He lowered them both to the hard deck. It felt easier to Mara, and she relaxed completely in Luke's arms, sure he would hold her. It made it easier to trust when she was easier to hold, and the trust made her easier to hold.
She felt him kiss the top of her head, and she closed her eyes. "If I let everything else go, will you catch me?" she whispered.
"Yes," he said simply. It was not a confession torn from the soul, because he knew it so well, and accepted it so completely. But there was a fear there, nevertheless. "I already love you, and that . . . that's all. Everything." His words were awkward in manner, but beautiful in everything else.
Let it be pure, she thought.
"Catch me," she breathed, looking into Luke's shining eyes and warm smile, and let it go.