Chapter 1: Darkness Falls
Ezra helped Kanan down into the seat of the Phantom, trying not to think. It was easier not to think, not to think of what might be under the ancient mask, why Kanan’s shirt under his hands was far too wet and sticky. He didn’t want to think of Ahsoka left behind, with that thing, in the ancient Sith Temple. He didn’t want to think.
Ezra could feel tears stinging at his eyes anyway as he got the med kit. Tried to give reassurances and felt his voice stutter.
“Hey, it’s ok,” Kanan murmured, even as Ezra lifted the mask as carefully as he could away from Kanan’s face. “It’s going to be ok.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Ezra choked back a sob, don’t think don’t think don’t think, just do. Just lay out the medical supplies, bacta, bandages, anything that might help. Ezra wasn’t good at this, never liked being around people who were in pain, and he didn’t know what to do. He poured bacta with a shaking hand over the deep slice in Kanan’s side, trying not to look too closely. He wrapped it as tight as he could, as if that would stop the bleeding and seeping. Kanan slumped and he struggled to catch him, easing him down onto the floor.
“I’ll be, I’ll be fine. You can handle this, Ezra.” Kanan’s voice was shaking now, softer than before.
“Y-yeah. This might, might sting a little,” Ezra whispered, pouring the last of the bacta over the deep gash across Kanan’s eyes. Maul had struck viciously, to wound and to maim instead of a clean kill. Kanan didn’t flinch, his breathing ragged now, and Ezra wound the bandages carefully over the wound, to keep the bacta in place and to protect the injury. His hands were shaking so hard he nearly didn’t get the ends fastened.
“You better be fine, Kanan, you hear me? You can’t leave me like this, not after that. Alright? If you leave me, if it was my fault… No one would forgive me, and that would be your fault. So you have to hang on, and you have to get better.” Ezra was distantly aware he was babbling, but unable to stop.
Kanan’s lips twitched up just a little “Not.. not your fault.” The words slurred a little, and Ezra could hardly hear them over his own heartbeat pounding in his ears.
“I...Yeah, but it doesn’t matter, you’re going to be ok,” Ezra shuddered, cupping a shaking hand against Kanan’s cheek, trying not to touch the bandage. “We’ll be back soon, and then, then it’ll be fine.”
“Ezra, Ezra I...” Kanan turned his head a little, struggling to keep talking. Ezra was distantly aware that the bandage over Kanan’s side was slowly darkening, but he didn’t dare disturb it to try and wrap it any better. Instead he tucked the emergency blankets around him, so he didn’t have to see.
“I’m right here, I’m listening,” Ezra spoke a little too loudly, too fast, too everything as he watched Kanan’s lips.
“I...” And then Kanan sighed, going limp.
“Kanan, no, please, please have just passed out, ok? We’ll be there soon,” Ezra pressed his fingers to the side of Kanan’s throat, holding his breath as he found the pulse. The pulse that beat steadily and slowly, then slower still, and then nothing. Ezra bit his lip until he tasted blood, feeling his own heart pounding in his ears, but the next beat never came.
“No Kanan, no, please, you can’t. Kanan you can’t,” Ezra pleaded, tears burring his vision. He wasn’t sure how long he would have knelt over him crying if it wasn’t for Chopper suddenly interrupting, beeping questioningly.
Ezra’s mind raced and he stood up, making his shaky way to the cockpit.
I can’t go back.
The thought echoed in his head over and over, not quite loud enough to drown out everything, but close. He couldn’t go back, how could he face everyone? He had to do something. He reached for calm, aware that it was only a small fragile bubble in a raging sea of pain, but he needed his voice steady.
“Chopper, where’s the nearest inhabited planet? I need to make a quick stop before we head back to the base.”
Ezra could feel himself shaking as he bent over Kanan’s body. He’d eased him into as natural a position as he could, and he’d left the Sith holocron in the cockpit. He didn’t want to leave it too close to Kanan, but it felt wrong not to leave it, not after all they’d lost getting it. Maybe the Rebellion would find some way to use it. He gently curled Kanan’s hand around his lightsaber, and tried not to think as he strapped Kanan’s blaster around his waist. It was too big, no matter how tightly he cinched it, but he would need some sort of weapon. It hung heavy on his hip, and he hated taking it, but he couldn’t think of any other way.
“I’m sorry,” Ezra whispered, too quietly for the ship’s audio to pick up, kissing Kanan’s cool forehead and feeling tears dripping wetly down. He stood up quickly, scrubbing over his face and walking to the ramp, stepping out and then pressing the button to close it. Chopper beeped from on top of the Phantom, demanding to know what he was doing.
“You need to get back to the base, look, you can’t wait for me, you need to hurry back. You need to get Kanan back, alright? Then you guys can come back for me. But you have to get going, now!’ Ezra’s voice cracked a little on the last part. If he wasn’t a monster before, lying to Chopper, letting him think there was a reason to hurry, made certain of it. Chopper tried to argue.
“There’s no time! Go!” Ezra turned and ran as he could hear the Phantom lifting off.
By the time anyone could come back to the planet to look for him. He planned to be long gone.
It was harder than Ezra thought to pretend like nothing was wrong. To inquire about getting a ship off planet, he wasn’t picky about where. He found what he was looking for easily enough, with a couple of traders who didn’t look too likely to rob him or worse. Not that he had anything worth stealing, but he wasn’t entirely sure what he’d do if someone attacked him. He felt like he was teetering on the blade’s edge of laying down and letting them kill him, or doing something unforgivable.
He left that planet and everything else behind.
“We’ll be landing in about ten.” The announcement was accompanied by a light rap on the doorframe to get his attention.
Ezra grunted to let them know he’d heard, starting to stand.
“So it’s one of those days, eh?” The man teased, stepping back out of the way.
“Lay off ‘em and save your breath for the job,” one of the other crew members grumbled. “Bad enough loading everything up, and that wasn’t in a damn desert.”
Ezra ignored them, heading to the hold. Some days conversation held some appeal and then other times he just couldn’t muster the will. After all, there wasn’t much reason in getting too attached. He took short term gigs only, never staying with one ship too long. He wasn’t even sure how long it had been. Everything was measured in jobs, a week here, a months there, today on a port in the midst of summer, and then onto one in the middle of winter. He wasn’t sure how long it had been, exactly, but the few times he saw his own reflection he hardly recognized himself. He’d let his hair grow long and usually left it down to help obscure the scars on his cheek. His orange jumpsuit had long ago become threadbare and started wearing apart in the seams and he’d replaced it with clothing more muted in tone. There wasn’t really anything to set him apart from all the other workers, and he preferred it that way.
The ship touched down and the hatch eventually opened up. Ezra grabbed a large piece of equipment, activating the hoverpad under it and starting to guide it out. It was night, and the area was lit with floodlights.
“Can’t believe this couldn’t wait until morning,” one of the other workers grumbled. Someone barked a laugh in reply.
“You ever tried to do anything on Tatooine during the day? Be glad it’s the middle of the night. Day would be dry as a Dathomir witch’s cootch and hot enough to broil your brains, assuming you have any.”
Ezra just tuned out the banter, concentrating on getting the equipment and crates offloaded to their proper places, at least until something caught his attention.
“What are we supposed to be hauling off this sandball anyway?”
“Nothing, it look like there’s anything worth picking up? We’re taking an empty run to Garel.”
Ezra frowned at that, covering it by turning to grab another crate. Logically there was no reason to avoid Garel. It was unlikely the Rebellion had anyone there, and even if the did the odds they would be in the exact same area at the exact same time were astronomically low. He’d also learned over the years not to trust the odds. He finished pushing the crate into place, dropping it down and then going to find the Captain.
The man had been observing their work, flask in hand. Ezra wasn’t particularly fond of the pilots who drank or worse on the job, but at least this man had otherwise stayed out of his way and let everyone do their job.
“I’m staying here,” Ezra said, once he’s caught his attention.
“Yeah? Shame to hear it,” he said, taking a long pull on the flask. Ezra just shrugged in response. “Don’t take too long, after we finish refueling we’re getting off this backwater.”
“Just have my final payment ready,” Ezra said, already turning to go. He got a snort in response.
Ezra didn’t bother to watch the ship take off. Everything he needed fit into one well battered backpack, with enough room for the things he didn’t so much need as couldn’t afford to throw away. Not long after he’d gotten the bag he’d sewn in a false bottom to hide the two broken lightsabers he couldn’t quite make himself scrap. One was the remains of the one he made himself, the other the ancient hilt he had picked up from Malachor. He shouldered the backpack, feeling the credits heavy in his pocket, and decided to find out where he was.
Most people were asleep, surprisingly enough. A few heavy labor things went on at night, but floodlights looked to be rare enough that most people just endured the heat of the day. He’d rarely found anywhere with bars that closed bright and early, and this place was no exception. He found one to tuck into a corner and get a feel for things.
One small drink later he’d learned the name of the place, Anchorhead, and that there wasn’t much else to find out. The town? City? Settlement? Served mainly as a hub for moisture farmers. There were a few shops, the cantina he was currently in, and not much else. It sounded like he’d have better luck finding a new job in Mos Eisley, the actual spaceport. Arranging transport out there would have to wait until the morning, for the time being the few people in the cantina were stuck on the topic of a recent Tusken Raider attack on a nearby farm. There was a great deal of speculation, and not a lot of fact. The only thing anyone seemed to agree on was the family was dead and the farm empty, though some people swore the bodies had been buried in quick graves. There were a lot of theories as to who might have done that, since obviously the Raiders themselves wouldn’t have lingered to do such a thing.
Ezra found himself opening his fool mouth before he could think about it. “What’s going to happen to the farm?”
“It’ll probably get picked over eventually, unless someone takes it over.” One of the other humans at the bar didn’t seem surprised by the question.
“Who owns it then?” Ezra asked, not even sure why he was pressing the matter.
“No one, Lars didn’t have any more relatives with a claim to it. So whoever wants it. You fancy settling down and becoming a farmer, spacer?” The question was met with tired laughs from the others in the bar.
“Maybe,” Ezra shrugged. Suddenly it was a more welcome prospect than he’d considered. He was far away from everyone and everything like this. Living alone out in the desert would mean fewer people he’d have to deal with. Fewer people who might recognize him as the guy who deserted the Rebellion after doing the unforgivable. No more looking over his shoulder to see if his past had come back to haunt him. And if it didn’t work out he could toast to his own idiocy and find a transport to Mos Eisley and off planet once more.
“How would I go about getting there if I was interested?” Ezra asked, a little more sure this time.
“Stop by the repair shop in the morning, they’ll have a speeder you can rent, and they’ll tell you how to get there.”
“Alright,” Ezra drained the last of his drink, then got up to get at least a few hours sleep.
“You’re an idiot, a fool, or on the run from someone. Which is it, kid?” The Ithorian in charge of the repair shop scribbled down the coordinates on a scrap of flimsiplast.
“Does it matter?” Ezra asked. He’d expected the shine to have worn off his idea when exposed to the light of day, but instead he felt strangely more determined.
“Maybe,” There was a certain amount of suspicion in the electronically translated voice, and after a moment Ezra realized what he was likely getting at.
“There’s no bounties on my head, if that’s what you’re getting at. I’m just damn tired of spending all my time in space. I was born on a farming planet and I’m not hopeless with machinery. If I can’t cut it, I’ll move on. But it’s a change of pace.” It was one of the longest strings of words Ezra had given in days, but it seemed to satisfy the Ithorian and he handed over the coordinates.
“If you’re staying you’ll want something that can actually haul enough water to make it worthwhile, but this’ll get you there and back. Good luck.”
Ezra nodded, stepping out into the already brutal heat from the twin suns, to take the rented speeder. He’d have a week to make up his mind.
Once he left the town behind him though, he felt an odd lightness. Not quite happiness, but the closest he’d managed to content in a very long time. He took what felt like his first easy breath in ages. Even with the punishing heat that had him pausing to twist his hair up and pin it off the back of his neck it was… peaceful. Clean in a way that the ships hadn’t been, for all that it was dirt and sand as far as the eye could see. No people breathing the same air, no one wanting anything from him, it was almost as though he hadn’t realized how much he hated what he was doing until he was walking away from it.
Even the blaster scorched pourstone of the abandoned homestead couldn’t bring down his mood too much. He parked the speeder, took a swig of the warm water he’d brought with him, and started exploring.
It was bigger than he’d expected from what was visible of the small dome as he’d pulled up. The majority of the homestead was underground, in a series of interconnected tunnels and rooms. It was in disarray, as he’d expected after some kind of raid. As he kept investigating though, things didn’t quite add up. Objects were broken, strewn about, but it wasn’t the sort of ransacking he would have expected if the goal was to steal valuables. He found closed storerooms with food and other supplies that hadn’t even been touched. Whoever had did this had either been after one specific thing, or it had been a cover up for murder.
Whatever it had been, the locals could gossip and speculate, Ezra had a lot of work to do before the homestead was going to be functional. He gathered up scattered tools from the workroom, and started working to get the generator back online.
Ezra got the basic systems back online. It helped they seemed designed to handle a great deal of abuse, but considering the harsh conditions it made sense. The generator came back online with a minimum of work, he removed the broken lights and replaced the ones he could before the suns set. The plumbing systems seemed mostly intact, and the discovery of a nearly full water tank did a great deal to ease his mind. He wouldn’t struggle to survive while he learned how to work the moisture vaporators he’d heard about.
The one thing he balked at was the bedrooms. Somehow taking over someone’s home wasn’t ghoulish, but sleeping in their bed made him pause. He didn’t care enough to argue with himself over the lack of logic, but he was growing tired and with the suns down the desert was growing cold. Ezra ended up finding spare bedding, taking one of the mostly empty store rooms and clearing a spot to lay down. He’d slept in worse places over the years. He made himself comfortable, staring up into the dark and listening to the near total silence. Ezra couldn’t remember the last time he hadn’t been surrounded by the hum of engines and the sounds of other people. He barely had time to form the thought wondering if the silence would be too loud to sleep through, before he was slipping off into sleep. If he dreamed, he didn’t remember them.
It took two more days to get the vaporators figured out and running, but by the time Ezra needed to return the speeder and figure something more permanent out he had a few canisters of harvested water strapped on the back of the bike. The shopkeep had been right, water was heavy and trying to get it over varied terrain would work better with a larger speeder, but for one trip the bike would work.
“Looks like you’re settling in well enough,” the shopkeep looked him over.
“How many people are going to lose money on bets about my sticking around?” Ezra asked, in surprisingly good humor even though he was hot and dusty from the trip.
“A few. What’s your name anyway?” The Ithorian asked.
“Dev Morgan,” Ezra offered. It was maybe a little foolish to reuse old aliases, but it was a common enough name and he doubted anyone would remember or recognize it. “What’s yours?”
“Pelja Tuhob,” the shopkeep introduced himself, taking the water canisters Ezra offered him.
“I’ve got a list of parts I’ll need, and you’re right, I’m going to need something better for hauling,” Ezra said.
“We’ll work something out,” Pelja said.
Working a moisture farm was exhausting. Ezra’s days started a little before dawn and ended well after dusk. Sand got into everything, equipment broke down, the hydroponics needed monitoring, there wasn’t even time to think. It was in its own way perfect. The only time he saw another person was his regular trips into Anchorhead for supplies and to sell water and vegetables from the hydroponic systems. Eventually Pelja convinced him to get an astromech, a skittish R3-D4 unit that did speed up talking with the equipment and basic maintenance at least. Time blurred together, one day after the other, in a way that made it impossible to think about the future or the past
Ezra scooted under the hydroponics system on his back, starting to poke at the equipment. The nutrient tubing tended to get buildup and needed to be pulled off and cleaned, careful to keep from wasting any of the water or nutrient solution. He jerked a little when the quiet hum and gurgle of the system was suddenly joined by a long series of frantic beeps.
“What is it this time, Spooks?” Ezra grumbled, sliding right back out, sitting up and reaching out to put a hand on the rocking astromech. The R3 unit was prone to seeing danger everywhere, and while he appreciated the potential heads up in case of a problem, he tended to give false alarms more often than not. The astromech just made more distress sounds that didn’t quite form anything coherent and then took off deeper into the warren of rooms. Ezra hauled himself up, better to check than risk something actually going wrong.
He made it out into the sun, squinting and then freezing when he became aware he wasn’t alone.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my home?”
Luke hadn’t actually intended to stop by the old homestead. His plans had been to investigate old Ben’s former home and see if he’d left behind anything about the Jedi, or Anakin Skywalker, anything to do with the past that might be helpful now. There wasn’t anything left for him where he had grown up except memories. It was a split second change of plans when he flew over the moisture farm and saw signs of habitation.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise, life on Tatooine was harsh enough that wasting things out of sentiment would be foolish. Odds were good that if someone hadn’t claimed it then others would have picked it over for anything useful, but somehow it still felt like an insult. Before he could even think it through he was sending the X-wing down. R2-D2 beeped questioningly.
“Just a little detour, R2,” Luke said, trying to sound confident in his decision. There wasn’t a great deal of activity he could see, other than an astromech that scooted away as soon as it saw him. That in itself was a little odd, he would have expected more people or droids to run an entire farm, but maybe they were out somewhere. Then, probably alerted by the astromech, someone appeared.
Luke had hoped he’d at least recognize whoever had moved in to the moisture farm. Instead a stranger stood there, looking confused. Luke didn’t blame him for the surprise, there were very few reasons to head out this far into the middle of nowhere, but it was still a shock.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my home?” The words slipped out before Luke could stop them. It was the wrong thing to say, and the stranger immediately stiffened, looking defensive.
“What do you mean your home?” The stranger challenged. “It didn’t belong to anyone before I moved in. I checked.”
“It belonged to me,” Luke said, even if the memory stung. He hadn’t intended any of this, but seeing someone else in his childhood home was more of an insult than he’d expected.
The man shook his head, some of his dark hair escaping the messy bun he had it pulled back in and falling into his face. “Try again, the previous owners are buried outside.”
“They’re.. My aunt and uncle may be out there, but I’m not,” Luke spoke a little too quickly.
The stranger faltered at that. “Then where have you been all this time?”
“After my home was attacked I joined the Rebellion,” Luke said, trying to regain his calm. “I’m Luke Skywalker, my aunt and uncle were Beru and Owen Lars.”
“Skywalker?” The stranger looked surprised at that, eyes widening and then he quickly caught himself, looking stubborn and a little guilty. “They said you vanished after the attack, taken prisoner or killed or something.”
It was Luke’s turn to feel a little guilty then. He’d never thought to send word back. Everything had happened so quickly the first few days and then there was the Rebellion and the war and with Biggs gone he’d not even thought about if any of his other friends were still on Tatooine. Surely someone had heard something? Except he knew well enough how hard it was to get any sort of reliable news unless you went into one of the cities.
“I wasn’t, I left, I didn’t...” Luke trailed off. Didn’t what? Think things would change while he was off? He hadn’t even thought about it, not really. Thinking about Tatooine was another sore spot he hadn’t been ready to try and make peace with, not when there were a dozen other more pressing concerns. Except it was starting to look like he’d need to deal with it if he wanted to move on.
“And now you’re back,” the stranger sounded tired suddenly, deflating and reaching up to rub over his face. Luke couldn’t make out what he muttered then, but he guessed it was some sort of profanity. “How soon do you want me gone?”
“Want you… I don’t want you gone. I’m only planning to be on planet for a few months,” Luke admitted. “I probably shouldn’t even have come by, but...”
“But you saw someone had invaded your old home and it was a shock?” The stranger asked, and Luke found himself nodding. “I understand that. Where are you staying?”
“A, ah, friend of mine had a place out closer to the dune sea. I was planning to stay there, unless that’s been taken over too,” Luke said, trying to make it sound more like a joke, not sure how successful he was.
“I haven’t heard of anyone living out that way,” the stranger shifted, awkwardly rubbing at the back of his head. “If you wanted to stay here there’s room. It’s your place, after all.”
“Maybe,” Luke hedged. He’d already made one impulsive decision that day and while it wasn’t exactly a disaster he’d have a hard time saying it was a success. That wasn’t even getting into his feelings about staying in the homestead after so long. “Who are you anyway?
“Dev Morgan,” the stranger said easily. “I can offer you a drink at least. I don’t get many visitors all the way out here, but I’ve been here long enough to know desert hospitality at least.”
Luke nodded at that, feeling a momentary pang of nostalgia. As long as someone wasn’t outright trying to murder you or steal from you you’d offer them water and shelter, even if you personally couldn’t stand them. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” Dev led him back to the kitchen and Luke couldn’t help looking around, taking in all the little ways the place had changed. It was almost easier to pretend it was one of any other similar homes he’d been in on Tatooine, they tended to get the same sort of look out of necessity.
The kitchen was a lot more sparse than he remembered, and he took a seat as Dev passed him a cup.
“How long have you been living here?” Luke asked, breaking the still somewhat tense silence.
“A few years now. I decided I’d had enough of always being on the move and thought I’d try my hand at moisture farming. It’s worked out well so far.” Dev shrugged, then frowned. “I should get back to fixing the hydroponics.”
“Clogged fertilizer tube? I could give you a hand with that,” Luke found himself offering before he could stop to think about that.
“It would go easier with a second set of hands, Spook’s good at a lot of things, but he can’t really help me there,” Dev said.
“Spook?” Luke asked.
“The astromech you scared witless with your arrival. Don’t worry, it’s not personal. He’s just a little high strung, some programming glitch. Once he figures out you’re not going to eat him he’ll come out of hiding.”
“And it’s just the two of you?” Luke asked, a little surprised. It had been hard work keeping the farm running with three people sometimes, he had trouble imagining how much more work it would be with just one human and a droid.
“Yeah. And I know that look, I make it work,” Dev smiled slightly at that, and Luke found himself smiling back as he finished his drink and got up to help him with the hydroponics system.
It was strangely soothing to slip back into just discussing the farm itself, and neutral enough as topics went. Dev never asked why he’d come back to Tatooine, and Luke didn’t have to lie to him. It was easy to lose track of time and before he knew it he was going out to tell R2 to come in before it got much darker.
With how much everything had changed, the last thing Luke expected was seeing his room. He stood in the doorway, heart in his throat, as he looked over all the things he remembered.
Dev stood awkwardly, a little behind him. “Some things had been tossed around so I cleaned them up, but I left things alone otherwise. Plenty of other rooms for me to use, right?”
“Thank you,” Luke said, sincerely. It wasn’t what he’d expected, but… maybe making this his home base while he prepared for Han’s rescue wouldn’t be the worst thing.
"Can't this go any faster?" Dev had to raise his voice over the wind and the whine of the speeder's engine, and Luke could hear the tension in it even if he didn't quite dare to glance over.
"I'm risking an overload as is," Luke gritted out, focused on the route ahead. He couldn't look behind them any more than he could look over, but he knew what he'd see. A wall of sand towering up into the sky, whipped up by the wind, impossibly huge and moving faster than seemed possible.
The weather was always touchy around this time of year, but the reports that morning had predicted it would be stable enough for the day, and they'd made the trip out to Anchorhead for much needed supplies. The sandstorm warning hadn't gone out until they were already headed back, and they'd decided to try and outrun it rather than turn back and wait it out. Now Luke was regretting that decision.
He couldn't turn to see the oncoming storm, but Dev was under no such restrictions and from the mounting tension he could sense beside him they were cutting it close. For all that Dev didn't talk about his past much, Luke knew he'd been on Tatooine long enough to deal with sandstorms before. This was the tense worry of someone who knew exactly what they were dealing with, not someone panicking at the first sight of a smudge on the horizon.
They nearly made it, the familiar domes less than fifty feet away before the speeder bucked and twisted. Luke fumbled, killing the engine before the sand could choke it, covering his face with the crook of his elbow. There was a lurch as the speeder went down into the sand, and Luke hunkered down as much as he could. The wind howled, blotting out all sound, not that Luke would have wanted to open his mouth to try and talk. Even with his sleeve as a filter of sorts it was nearly impossible to draw breath without choking on the sand that seemed to scour at every inch of exposed skin. The speeder provided nearly no shelter at all, and the wind tugged hard enough on his clothes that he nearly missed a tugging of an entirely different sort.
Luke resisted, he'd had it drilled into him since he could barely walk how to survive if caught in a sandstorm. Hunker down, protect yourself as much as you could, and wait it out. No matter how close the homestead might be, trying to find it would be next to impossible. They could wander in circles, or off in the entirely wrong direction. But Dev wouldn't be shaken, wrenching on his arm until Luke gave in against his better judgment.
He stumbled blindly, fumbling until he could get a grip on Dev's wrist with his mechanical hand. He wouldn't risk them coming apart at least, and silently cursing foolish offworlders and more foolish farmboy Jedi he followed him away from the speeder.
After a few blind steps something shifted, slowly sliding into place and if he had the breath for it Luke would have laughed. As it was he stepped more surely, feet finding the path and moving as quickly as the battering storm would let him, never loosening his grip. He'd forgotten, in the moment of long childhood conditioning taking over, that he didn't need his eyes to find his way. A dozen steps, then a dozen more, and he was stepping down out of the storm and into the sheltered dip of the homestead. He could breathe then, blinking grit and tears away from his eyes as he tugged Dev with him through the closest door, shutting it firmly behind them.
Inside the thick walls the scream of the storm faded to an angry rumble, and he slowly caught his breath. It took a small shake to make him realize he still had Dev's wrist locked in his hand and he loosened his grip, finally letting go. Dev was a sight, caked in sand from head to toe, his normally deep blue hair too dusty to tell the color now. Luke didn't need a mirror to know he probably looked the same. Dev coughed, clearing his throat, and Luke was suddenly very aware of how dry his own mouth was.
"Next time we should probably turn back," Dev said, a little ruefully, then he was yanking off his backpack, checking over the supplies inside. "Glad the bag's sandproof at least, supplies are fine."
"Probably. We made it though." Luke gingerly rubbed at his face, the skin still stinging from being sandblasted. "What were you thinking though? Dragging us out of the speeder like that. If I hadn't been able to sense the way back..."
Dev shrugged at that, not looking up in a way that looked vaguely guilty somehow. "You could though, we were almost there and I figured it was some kind of Jedi thing? And you have to admit, it's a lot nicer in here than choking on sand for a couple hours out there. I figured you'd use the Force, or, uh, something. "
"Yeah, but..." Luke started, but Dev had the pack up again, already walking away towards the storage room.
"I'll put the stuff away and you can hit the sonics first, alright?" Dev called back over his shoulder.
Luke hesitated, but the temptation to get clean won out. He could save that discussion for another day.