Actions

Work Header

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly)

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly)


 

The Skywalker Family

 

 

 

Leia Organa is seven when her friend Dijan dies.

As princess and heir, her life is surrounded by nurses, tutors, courtiers, Imperials trying to accuse her father with anything they can glean of her, Alderaan guards, and her always loving, always busy parents: Prince Consort Bail Organa and Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan.

Only they’re not her parents. She’s adopted, and no one will tell her who her parents are. Were.

Leia Organa is seven, so when her only friend dies and her parents are not on Alderaan, her grief tears through the shields Obi-Wan Kenobi put up seven years ago to hide her adeptness in the Force. Her grief travels right out of the Alderaani system, but it is a loneliness, a fear of not having a family, and though many throughout the galaxy have a sudden notion of grief, only two people feel it.

 

Luke Skywalker is face down on his bed, snoring.

 

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, formerly Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, is meditating in his chambers.

 

Both pairs of blue eyes fly open.

 

I was dreaming that I had a sister again, Luke thinks. And she was sad.

 

I’m hearing voices, Leia thinks, because that’s the only explanation for hearing a voice she doesn’t recognize talking about dreaming about sad sisters.

 

I’m hearing voices, Luke echoes, because that’s the only explanation for hearing a voice he doesn’t recognize in his head claim to hear voices.

 

Vader’s thoughts are of wild, incredulous disbelief. Two strong, brilliant Force signatures… that remind him too much of Padmé.

 

What is your name? He demands, when he has mastered himself again, although unbeknownst to him, he sounds like Anakin.

 

Leia, comes unbidden from Leia’s mind, because she doesn’t have any inclination to tell herself what her name is, but it pops into her head nonetheless. It’s less informative than what Vader had hoped for.

 

Luke, thinks Luke, for precisely the same reasons.

 

Your full name, Vader grinds out, impatience gripping his mind.

 

Adopted, Alderaan, flashes through Leia’s mind, and; I’m definitely hearing voices.

 

Skywalker, slave, thinks Luke, followed by a wave of bitterness for all the times kids have teased him for having a slave name, for being the freeborn son of a slave.

 

WHAT?! Vader bellows, because all he heard was Skywalker, slave, and bitterness. And of course he drew all the wrong conclusions.

 

You’re a voice in my head, Leia thinks.

 

You’re a voice in my head, Luke thinks.

 

Where are you? Vader demands.

 

An image of where they are right now flash through their minds, as Vader binds these signatures to him.

Luke is still snoring in his bed, but the image is one of his bedroom, a dusty little room far too much like what one would find on Tatooine.

Leia, practically platonic and tear-stained while being taken quietly back to her room from where she collapsed after learning that Dijan died, sends an image of her bedroom—the grand, lavish carpeted chambers with huge windows.

 

This is my mind, Leia declares. Get out.

 

This is my mind, Luke returns. Let me sleep.

 

My best friend just died! Leia howls.

 

Biggs isn’t dead, Luke thinks.

 

Dijan is dead! Leia screams, and an image of a girl, dying in a hospital bed springs from her mind, blurred with tears.

 

We were both right, Vader thinks, remembering his arguments with Padmé on whether their child was going to be a girl or a boy. “Mother’s intuition,” Padmé had said, smiling. “I can just tell we’re going to have a boy.”

“Jedi training,” Anakin had smirked. “I can feel it. We’re going to have a girl.”

“Mother’s intuition outweighs Jedi training.”

“Father’s intuition.”

“Mother’s intuition outweighs Father’s intuition.”

“Father’s intuition and Jedi training.”

Luke. Leia. Twins.

 

What? They both think. I don’t have siblings.

 

Uncle Owen says Father was a navigator on a space freighter who died in the Clone Wars, Luke thinks.

 

Mama and Papa won’t tell me who my real parents are, Leia thinks, and; oh great, now I’m talking to myself.

 

I’m talking to my self, Luke corrects indignantly.

 

QUIET! Vader roars. They are both surprised by the intensity, something neither knew they possessed (because they don’t). Where. Exactly. Are you? He demands again.

 

Royal Alderaan Palace, Leia thinks, because she hasn’t the foggiest clue how to stop herself from thinking things.

 

My room, Luke thinks, decidedly less helpful. I’ve always wanted to go to Alderaan. Well, I’ve always wanted to get off Tatooine, wherever that takes me.

 

Tatooine. He’s on Tatooine. Just as he suspected (feared). And what are your full names? Vader demands.

 

Luke Skywalker, Luke thinks defensively.

 

Leia Organa, Leia thinks, because she can’t stop herself. But I’m adopted.

 

And who are your birth parents?

 

I don’t know.

 

I don’t know. Uncle Owen said a space pilot, but I think he’s lying.

 

Why am I listening to a voice in my head? Leia wonders.

 

I’m not a voice in your heads! Vader growls. The Force is in everyone, everything, but a select few such as us are stronger than others at using it. When Leia grieved, her grief resonated through the Force. You could both become powerful Sith.

Their skepticism resonates through the Force.

Vader resists the urge to smash something. Listen, he says, linking their minds to prevent them from eluding (escaping) him. And I will teach you the ways of the Force.

Luke stays snoring on his bed, but for the next several hours his mind is elsewhere, unable to leave.

Leia stays curled in a fetal position on her bed, but for the next several hours her mind is bound to Vader’s, unable to get away.

And he doesn’t want to let them go. They’re so bright and so warm, something he never thought he would enjoy again, but their innocence and raw power sings through the Force like a star going supernova. Much like he used to do, before he Fell to the Dark…not that he’s less powerful now, he’s more powerful! Just Dark.

You’re our father, aren’t you, Leia states, when he is done, ever the pragmatist. Given the length of this conversation, I accept that I’m not dreaming and it is indeed happening through the Force. Who are you and why don’t we know each other?

 

I’m…I’m…yes, Vader finally settles. I’m your father. I thought you died… I was hurt when your mother gave birth, and when I awoke, I was told by… someone I trusted that she had died with you unborn. Anger howls through the Force, self-righteous anger, pain, grief, and so much suffering.

 

So Mother really is dead? Luke asks wistfully.

 

I believe so. She would have never allowed herself to be separated from either of you… or… or… or maybe they were stolen from her, you must tell me: where are you?

Tatooine, Luke says promptly, because he’s naturally trusting. My aunt and uncle are moisture farmers, in the Great Chott salt flat community, by Anchorhead.

And you, Leia?

She hesitates.

Come on, sis! Luke urges. Tell us! Nobody can resist that, especially not when they feel his innocent eagerness through the Force.  

Royal Alderaan Palace, Leia says again, reluctantly. My…my adopted parents are Bail and Breha Organa.

ORGANA?! Vader roars before he can stop himself. That foul traitor stole my daughter… he is going to rue the day he put his hands on my-

Father don’t! Leia cries, and it is the first word that makes Vader stop. Don’t hurt them! They raised me!

They stole you! Left your mother to die and-

You don’t know that! Leia snaps. You weren’t there!

Pause.

Father, Luke asks, and Vader can’t help the indescribable joy it brings to be called father. Father, who was Mother?

Another pause.

Padmé, Vader says, finally. Padmé Amidala.

Padmé Amidala?! Leia repeats, incredulously. The Padmé Amidala?!

Your mother was many things, Vader says proudly, sadly. You will have to specify.

The Queen of Naboo, the Senator, the founder of the Rebel Alliance-!

The Rebel Alliance? Vader echoes.

Guilty pause.

Yes, I suppose, he says finally.

That is awesome! Leia thinks happily. So who are you? Where are you?

Another pause.

Bail and Breha Organa… founder of the Rebel Alliance… Vader’s thoughts turn over and over, but only in his head. His children are the children of Padmé Naberrie Amidala Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker. He is not Anakin Skywalker. He knows what Organa must have told his daughter about Darth Vader. But his children… his bright, beautiful children, so much like Padmé, so much like himself—no, like Anakin Skywalker. Palpatine named him Lord Vader—Palpatine lied to him. Told him that Padmé had died, when she had given birth to two brilliant children, children who he should bring to his Master, children whom Palpatine would want to use, twist their sunlight into something Dark, probably have one of them replace Vader as his Apprentice, commit patricide—no no, kriff it, Anakin Skywalker is dead! Then these are not your children .

Well, fierfek.

Anakin Skywalker, he says.

Anakin Skywalker?! Leia repeats, the same way she did her mother’s name, and he knows he has made the right choice. The Hero With No Fear? Jedi General during the Clone Wars?

You fought in the Clone Wars? Luke asks.

Yep! Leia brags. He was the most famous general—he was a hero-

And that breaks his heart, just a little, a heart he didn’t know he still had.

I have a plan, he vows to them. It will take time, but I will fix this. I swear.

I’ve always wanted to see the stars! Luke enthuses.

It would be nice, Leia says. I mean, of course I want to meet you, but I doubt Mama and Papa would let me-

If he is your father, Luke thinks solemnly, then he will understand how much this means to you and let you go.

They can both feel Leia’s resolve through the Force. Okay, she agrees.

I will be in touch, he promises. He nudges their minds together and feels their delight. You know how to find each other. Remember your lessons!

I will, Luke sends happily.

I will, Leia sends, rolling her eyes metaphorically.

And Darth Vader breaks off the link and smiles, for the first time in seven years, with absolutely no intention of being Anakin Skywalker.

 

-oOoOo-

 

But three weeks later, the Imperial Star Destroyer Convoy carrying the Emperor and Lord Vader and Tarkin on their way to Naboo for Empire Day, is destroyed.

Leia thinks she understands why her parents are celebrating, but she isn’t sure. She knows it wasn't the Rebel Alliance that destroyed the convoy, but she doesn't know how her parents know. 

Luke doesn’t really understand why his aunt and uncle started laughing and crying and hugging each other, or why the hermit from the Jutland Wastes came by and left.

Three days later, Kamino gets a surprise visit.

Two months and fourteen days later, a relatively small but fast starfighter lands in Anchorhead. One single passenger disembarks and lets the Force guide him to the Lars’ Homestead.

When Luke opens the door and sees a man standing there with blond hair just like his and blue eyes just like his and a lightsaber hidden on his belt, he knows.

He packs what he wants, leaves Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen a note, telling them not to worry: he has found his father and they’re going to travel the galaxy.

And the Skywalkers leave their childhood home and head for the stars.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly) II


 

Organa Family Drama

 

 

 

Obi-Wan should have known that Luke would manage to get into trouble the moment he left Tatooine. He’s his father’s son, after all. He just didn’t expect this ‘trouble’ to be quite so drastic. Admittedly, it wasn’t the moment he left. It was over two months after he left. But it was still drastic. Skywalker Drastic.

He never really enjoyed the spotlight: he was raised a Jedi, after all. But he was known as The Negotiator for a reason, and he understood that his presence was a mark in favor of the Alliance. The Empire was in complete chaos—Moffs jockeying for top dog after all three leaders were killed in the same explosion.

And the explosion was another problem—there was no way it was an accident. But it wasn’t the Alliance, so that begged the question: who? Who had managed to take out the entire Empire leadership along with a Star Destroyer fleet in one giant explosion? And how? Because there was no way in all nine Correlian Hells that it hadn't been on purpose. 

But of course, little Luke had to and make that the least of his problems.

Obi-Wan re-read the copy of the note Beru and Owen had sent him.

 

 

         Dear Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen,

 

Hi! This is Luke. My father came while you were out and now we’re going to go see the galaxy! He’s super tall and super awesome and he has a super awesome starfighter! And he can totally beat up anyone, so you don’t need to worry about me being safe. I’ll come back and visit, I promise. Did you know my mother was a queen?! She’s really pretty and really cool too. But I think you didn’t know who she was, and that’s why you didn’t tell me.

Your nephew,

Luke Skywalker

P.S.: I found out a few months ago, but I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to worry you.

 

 

That was it.

That was it. The entirety of Luke’s note. Lost a youngling, Obi-Wan has, said a voice far too much like Yoda’s. How embarrassing. How embarrassing! Obi-Wan had a strong, strong desire to reach across the Force and strangle Luke, but of course his mind was somehow shielded—which shouldn’t be possible; Owen had flat out refused to let him teach Luke about the Force. Kriffing Skywalkers. He was so much like his father it hurt.

Obi-Wan was also extremely worried. My father. How did Luke know whoever came by was his father? How did he know that his mother had been a queen? What did he mean he found out a few months ago? Did Anakin survive the explosion, just like he had somehow survived Mustaf-

No, Anakin Skywalker had died on Mustafar. Darth Vader had survived it. And if, somehow, he had found out about Luke and gone to claim him—Obi-Wan’s heart lurched. He imagined the bright little boy he’d watched for seven years turning into something dark and twisted, full of hate, and he was afraid.

Well. Nobody could accuse him of being a bad Jedi if the Jedi didn’t exist anymore.

Obi-Wan picked up the datapad and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Breha called, and he walked in. “What’s wrong?”

Because you didn’t have to be a Jedi to see the emotions playing across his face.

“Did something traumatic happen to Leia a few months ago?” He asked bluntly.

“Yes,” Bail said, looking taken aback. “Her friend died—her only friend, and we were away on business when it happened.”

Obi-Wan closed his eyes. Owen and Beru has assured him that nothing out of the ordinary had happened to Luke in the past few months except for his eighth birthday. “Was this before or after the explosion?”

A pause. “Before,” Breha said finally. “A few weeks before, I think. Why?”

Obi-Wan handed them the datapad with Luke’s note on it.

Breha paled.

“Did anything unusual happen to Leia after her friend died?” Obi-Wan asked.

“The maids said she went into shock for a few hours—she collapsed in the corridor and they had to drag her back into her room. She was practically catatonic. But I thought she was just grieving. She looked so much better afterwards.”

Obi-Wan cursed.

“What do you think happened?” Bail asked warily.

“When a Force-user feel great emotion,” Obi-Wan said, “they tend to broadcast that feeling through the Force. Leia isn’t a Force-user, but she’s incredibly powerful, and she wouldn’t realize she’s sending out her emotions. It’s possible her grief broke down my shields.”

“What does that mean?” Breha asked. “For her?”

“It’s possible,” Obi-Wan said slowly, “that her grief was felt by the two Force users who know her best.”

Bail cursed. “You think Darth Vader felt my daughter?”

“And,” Obi-Wan continued, “A Jedi wouldn’t do this, but a Sith would—he could link their minds together.”

“What does that mean?” Breha asked again.

“It means,” Obi-Wan said slowly, “that for the next several hours, you said? She was, in a way, trapped in her own mind—forced to listen to whatever he wanted to tell her.”

Breha broke down. “My baby girl,” she cried, “oh my sweet, innocent little girl…”

“No,” Bail protested, sharing a horrified look with his wife, “no, she would have told us, she would have…”

“We need to ask her,” Obi-Wan said gently, “as soon as possible. And I need to be there.”  

 

Leia felt a dark sense of foreboding when the servant told her that Papa had asked for her to come to his study. The Force was trying to tell her something was going to happen, but she couldn’t stop it. She didn’t have an excuse not to go. The warning sense only grew stronger when she opened the door.

“Mama, Papa,” she greeted. “...Master Kenobi.”

This wasn’t good.

“Leia,” Breha said warmly, as Leia climbed into the chair next to her.

“What is it?” Leia asked.

“Leia,” Papa said, looking uncomfortable, and Leia immediately began stacking up her mental shields. It was the Royal Palace of Alderaan, and right now she was locking the gates, posting guards, closing all the doors, and fleeing for her bedroom. “I realize that this is a sensitive topic, but we need to ask you what happened after—after Dijan passed away.”

Became One with the Force, Leia thought stubbornly.  

“You know you have great Force potential,” Papa continued. “We’re worried that someone might have felt your—your grief and taken advantage of it.” He gave her a disappointed look, and Leia suddenly felt guilty. Don’t broadcast it don’t broadcast it… Leia threw mental shades over her windows and locked her guilt in a box. Now was not the time. “You need to tell us if someone contacted you, Leia,” Papa said. “We’re worried about you.” His sincerity shone through the Force, and Leia resisted the urge to squirm in her seat.

Leia reached out and felt for her father. Father? She called. They’re on to me!
A quiver, then- who?! Father demanded. What’s happening?!

They’ve figured that Luke is gone, she sent. They think—they know you contacted me after Dijan became One with the Force.

Leia forced herself not to wince at Father’s swear words. It’s been HALF A DAY! Father said indignantly. knew I should have rescued you first, I knew-

I told you to pick up Luke first, Leia said sternly. And it’s not rescuing.

It will be, Father said ominously.

Stop worrying her, said Luke. Don’t worry, Leia, you’ll be fine!

“Leia?” Master Kenobi asked cautiously. He knows. She just knew it.

Leia narrowed his eyes. “You’re in my head,” both defensively and trying to come up with an excuse.

“No, I’m not,” he said calmly. “I wouldn’t do that without your permission. You’re communicating with someone.”

The wailing servants that were trying to flee Leia’s mind palace were roughly grabbed and shoved indoors.

“I don’t know how,” Leia said stubbornly. “You’re in my head,” she said again.

“Leia,” he said seriously, kneeling down in front of her and putting a hand on her shoulder, “we’re worried that a Sith Lord tried to contact you.”

She shook his hand off. “Nobody tried to contact me,” Leia said. “I don’t remember what happened.”

“Leia, honey,” Mama said, “don’t you know you can trust us?”

“You can tell us anything,” Papa added. “We won’t judge you.” And kriff it, why did he have to be so honest?

Leia knew that they wouldn’t judge her. They were her parents and they loved her. She also knew how they would react if they knew that Darth Vader was still alive and in contact with their daughter. They wouldn’t believe her if she told them that Darth Vader was dead, her father was alive.

He’d been forced to explain it to her and Luke before he caused the explosion. She’d wanted to be mad at him, for lying to them and for being Darth Vader, but he had taken out the Emperor, Tarkin, and a fleet in one blow and he wasn’t Darth Vader anymore. She could feel it. And Father had promised her that Darth Vader was dead and that he really was Anakin Skywalker.

“Who are my parents?” Leia demanded, deflecting.

“A secret for a secret,” Master Kenobi said. “We’ll tell you who your parents were-” not Darth Vader, nothing about Luke- “and you tell us who contacted you.”

“I’m not telling,” Leia said immediately.

“So someone did contact you,” he said, not triumphantly, just quietly resigned. Which Leia thought was worse.

Damnit. Damnit! He’s known as The Negotiator for a reason, Leia!

“No,” she denied. “I think I would have noticed if I was hearing voices in my head.”

“And how would you know that it sounds like a voice in your head?”

She cursed again. Inwardly.

Leia, just stop talking, Father advised. He’s known as The Negotiator for a reason. I should know.

“Someone’s contacting you right now through the Force,” Obi-Wan said shrewdly. “I can feel it.” It was a voice he knew very well, one he had hoped he wouldn’t have had to see again. So Anakin had survived. A memory of Padmé, hands at her throat, surfaced. No, Darth Vader had survived. If he ever got his hands on Leia… the image of Padmé was replaced with Leia and Obi-Wan shuddered inwardly. If he already had Luke, bright innocent Luke…

“Bail, Breha,” he said quietly. “It is as we feared.”

They paled. Leia looked alarmed, both mentally and physically, but she hid it well. Obi-Wan did not want to know when she’d learned to put up shields.

“Can’t you do something?” Breha whispered.

Obi-Wan put a hand on Leia’s forehead before she could move away, immediately feeling his old Padawan’s presence in Leia’s mind. Both Vader and Leia were taken completely by surprise by the force Obi-Wan slammed into their link, snapping it.

“What did you do?!” She cried. “Why did you… what did you do?!”

“Please take Leia back to her rooms,” Papa said to the servant who came in when Leia cried out. “And lock them,” he added.

“No!” Leia cried, jumping to her feet and digging her heels into the ground as the servant tried to take her hand. “You can’t do this!”

“I snapped the link,” Master Kenobi said quietly. “He’ll have a much harder time finding her now.”

Leia looked like she was about to cry, but then rallied herself. “Papa,” she said fiercely, “if you’re really my father, you’ll understand. And you’ll let me go!”

“It’s for your own safety!” Papa shouted, his voice breaking. “You have no idea what he’s done, what he could do— will do, if he gets to you!”

He means that, Leia thought, disparagingly as she was dragged out the door. He really means it. He really just cares. Just trying to protect me from a monster. And that probably hurt most of all.

 

There was silence in the study. The three occupants sat, frozen, in their seats. When things had started looking so hopeful for the Alliance, for the Republic, for democracy…now Darth Vader was back, and they suspected that he’d already gotten his hands on Luke.

Obi-Wan would never forgive himself for all the times he had hurt Anakin, driven him further to the Dark Side. He would never forgive Palpatine for twisting someone so bright into something so dark. You are strong and wise, Anakin, and I am very proud of you. Anakin was gone. But in his memory, Obi-Wan could and would protect his children from the same fate. Obi-Wan knew Anakin. If it had been Anakin, he would’ve asked if the twins got to call him uncle or if he had to get down and beg. Anakin would have never harmed Padmé. Obi-Wan didn’t know Darth Vader. Didn’t know what he intended for the twins. He could only try to keep them safe.

“I’ll protect her,” Obi-Wan said. “I’ll… guard her rooms.”

The couple let out a long breath.

“Thank you, Obi-Wan,” Bail said quietly. “You have no idea how much this means to us.”

“It’s not too late, is it?” Breha asked tearfully. “The way she responded…”

“She’s eight,” Obi-Wan said tiredly. “She knows you know who her father is and won’t tell her. Her only friend just died and you weren’t there.”

She broke down crying. “Save our little girl, Obi-Wan,” she said. “Please.”

He nodded. “I’ll try.”

 

Anakin reeled back when he felt the familiar, odious presence of his old Master (his second old Master) right before his link with Leia abruptly snapped. “That foul old bantha!” He snarled. “I should feed him to the sarlacc and-”

“Father?” Luke interrupted. “What happened?”

“Kenobi,” Anakin said venomously. “Always Kenobi. Of course Kenobi.”

“...Father?”

“He snapped the link,” Anakin said. “I can’t find her anymore.”

“How?” Luke demanded.

“He’s onto us,” Anakin explained. “Something in your note alerted them to my continued existence.”

Luke shifted guiltily. “Uh. I might have mentioned… having a father.”

Anakin groaned. “Right. Well, I’m sure Leia will grow up into a politician as great as her mother but unfortunately, Kenobi was there. He felt my presence.”

“What’s going to happen?” Luke asked anxiously, legs swinging back and forth in his seat.

Anakin sighed. “They’ll probably keep Leia in her rooms and post guards outside of them. Kenobi will probably be there too.”

“So what are we going to do?” Luke asked.

Anakin looked right into his eyes. “You need to contact her. Feel her through your link, and make sure Kenobi doesn’t know.”

“But I… but I don’t know how to do that!”

“Remember what I’ve said about reaching into the Force?”

Luke sighed. “Right.” He pulled his legs onto his seat and crossed them. “Right. Focus, reach…”

“And feel for the bright light that is your sister. Reach with a purpose-”

 “-To rescue my sister!” Luke said happily. He closed his eyes and his brow furrowed in concentration. His lips moved silently, forming five syllables: Leia… my sister.

 

Leia… my sister.

As soon as Leia heard the voice in her head, she knew it was Luke.

 

Luke? She sent.

 

Yeah! Um…we’re coming to rescue you!

 

Luke, maybe you should let it die down a bit. Mama and Papa and Master Kenobi are really just trying to keep me safe, I can feel it, and Master Kenobi feels so sad.

 

What do you mean? Luke asked.

 

Father told us Master Kenobi is his old Master, Leia sent. And Master Kenobi really did care for Father, I can tell; he really thinks Father is dead and I’m in contact with a Sith Lord—with a monster.

 

He should know! Luke sent indignantly. He’s the one who left him to burn on-

 

No, Luke, Leia interrupted quietly. He left Darth Vader to die, because he still couldn’t kill him.

It was hard for Luke to differentiate between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader. It was easier for Leia to differentiate: Anakin Skywalker is a hero and a Jedi and my father. Darth Vader is a Sith Lord and a monster who killed my father and who terrifies my parents. Luke didn’t have the fear of Darth Vader that Leia grew up with; the Empire was always distant on Tatooine.

 

Father says if we don’t act now it’ll give them time to think of something, Luke said. He says we’ll be there in a few minutes.

 

Master Kenobi isn’t going to go away, Leia warned. He’s worried for me. He’s worried that Darth Vader found you and is trying to corrupt you to the Dark Side.

 

Well, tell him he doesn’t need to worry. I’ll never Fall.

Leia almost laughed at the defensiveness pouring across their bond.

 

Father says you need to use the Force, Luke said suddenly.

 

Leia frowned. Aren’t I?

 

He says… he says… where are you?

 

Leia, lying face down on her bed and ignoring Master Kenobi, who was practically moping in the corner, carefully did not move. There is a large window. It overlooks the Palomi Courtyard, the one with the giant Talfya tree in it.

 

Talfya tree… got it.

 

Luke, Leia said slowly. I think Father should confront Master Kenobi.

 

That’s a terrible idea, Luke sent immediately. We’re trying to make sure he doesn’t know-

 

That Father is alive? He knows.

 

He thinks Darth Vader is alive, Luke corrected.

 

So Father needs to tell him that Darth Vader is dead, Leia sent.

 

A pause.

 

Father says…uh… Father says ‘there is no way in nine Corellian hells that he is going near that traitor who separated you from your brother and-’

 

Father already is, Leia sent. In our starfighter. Please. I really think—he’s practically moping in the corner, Luke.

 

Father says that’s good, and far better than he deserves.

 

Tell Father that he’s only trying to protect me.

 

Father says he’s a spiteful piece of bantha fodder.

 

Tell Father he’s biased.

 

Father says—wait, Father says you need to stay clear of the window.

 

Why?

 

Um, we’re flying our starfighter into it?

 

WHAT?!

 

It totally wasn’t my idea!

 

YOU TELL FATHER THAT HE-

 

Get ready for impact?

 

NO! STOP! LUKE SKYWALKER, DON’T YOU DARE- Leia sat up fast and scrambled backwards. Master Kenobi’s head jerked up to look at her.

“Leia?” He asked hesitantly. “Is everything alright?”

“NO! No, it is not!” She shrieked, and then a silvery starfighter smashed right into the window, landing right on the floor on the room, skidding and crashing into the wall.

Leia couldn’t help it; she screamed. She screamed as she tumbled off her bed and heard it fly into the wall behind her, as her bookcase shattered and sent shards flying everywhere, as the rug snapped when the starfighter began to turn around, as Master Kenobi ignited his lightsaber and held one hand out, blocking all projectiles flying in his direction.

“Leia!” Master Kenobi yelled. “Don’t panic-!”

The starfighter veered in her direction and she ducked under one of the wings. “HELP!” She screamed and crossed her arms in front of her. The wood flying at her abruptly changed directions mid-flight. She heard the buzz of Master Kenobi’s lightsaber on the other side of the starfighter as someone grabbed her arms and hauled her to her feet.

Leia knew instantly that it was her brother, whom she had never seen before. He pulled her onto the platform that closed startlingly fast and sent them both tumbling to the ground. She looked up and saw a man at the controls and knew instantly that it was her father. She heard the hiss of a lightsaber cutting through metal, and knew that Master Kenobi had been forced to duck under the wing when the starfighter had turned. She and Luke slid down the floor on their backs as the engines flared again, probably incinerating the paintings behind them.

And then the starfighter took off again, soaring through the premade exit and leaving a war zone behind it.

Obi-Wan got to his feet and turned off his lightsaber. In retrospect, it was a totally Anakin thing to do; crashing a starfighter through the window of a bedroom-

But Anakin was dead. He didn’t know Darth Vader, and that he’d act so much like his former Padawan was like a slap on the face. And that he’d lost little Leia Skywalker too was like a scar. “HELP!” She’d screamed. He’d tried. Do or do not, said a voice that sounded far too much like Yoda, there is no try.

He could only watch, feeling helpless, as the Skywalkers left her childhood home and headed for the stars.

 

 

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly) III


 

Skywalker Shenanigans

 

The Rebel Alliance is quietly alerted to the continued existence of Darth Vader. Naturally, these rumors spread, and now the whole galaxy is wondering whether or not Lord Vader managed to survive somehow—and if he did, does that confirm the rumors that he’s actually a cyborg? Leia continues glaring at Luke. Anakin tries to convince her that it’s not his fault. She points out that he really didn’t have to say that he’d found his father. Luke hides under the table. Typical Skywalker family life.

Obi-Wan is busy back in Aldera helping the Alliance ally with a few Moffs (Admiral Piett, of the Executor, to name one) and bring down the Empire. The Empire isn’t really an Empire anymore; just a bunch of warring fleets. The Alliance is delighted.

And on a silver starfighter named the Ekkreth, the three Skywalkers are meditating.

 

My name is Leia Organa Skywalker, Leia thinks. I’m going to be a Senator and a Jedi and I have to go back and visit my family.

 

My name is Luke Skywalker, Luke thinks. I’m going to be a Jedi Knight like my father before me and I have to go and let Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru know that I’m alright because they’re probably still worrying.

 

“Now hide it,” Father instructs, sitting across from the twins.

 

Luke puts his worries on a TIE fighter model and lets it fly away.

Leia puts her worries on a bird and lets it fly out the window.

 

“You’re broadcasting,” Father says.

 

Leia frowned and tries to pack her worries in a box.

“No, I can still see through the window,” Father tells Leia. “You need to let it go, not broadcast it. Acknowledge that you have these feelings, think about what can be done about them, and once you know, you can let them go.”

“I have to go back and let Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru know I’m alright,” Luke says. “I told them not to worry but I’m worrying that they’re worrying.”

“I have to go back and tell my parents that I’m alright,” Leia says. “They were so worried about me, and I want to tell them that Father isn’t Darth Vader.”

Father stiffens, just a little. “You know why we can’t do that.”

“Mama and Papa aren’t going to keep you prisoner,” Leia scoffs. “Not if you tell them.”

Luke cracks his eyes open. “That’s not what he’s worried about, Leia. Can’t you feel it?”

Leia feels it. “It’s something about Mother, isn’t it?” She asks, and alarm shoots through Father before he can tamp it down.

“You’re afraid,” Luke says softly. “You have to let it go.”

“Acknowledge that you have these feelings and think about what can be done about them,” Leia says patronizingly. Father is trying very hard not to glare at her.

“Father,” Luke asks slowly, “what happened to Mother?”

“She died,” Father says shortly.
How did she die?” Leia asks, and Anakin wants to curse because both twins have stopped meditating and are staring curiously at him.

“I was told she died in childbirth,” Father says shortly.

“Uh-uh,” Luke says. “I’m feeling a lot of guilt, aren’t you, Leia?”

“Yeah,” she agrees, scooting closer to Father and Anakin wants to curse again. “Father, whatever happened, you can’t be the reason she died because she-”

“Yes, I am!” Father bursts out. “I hurt her! I hurt her and I t-tried to-to-I don’t even know, and you along with her!”

“Father,” Luke says solemnly, “tell us what happened. Whatever it is, we won’t judge you. You aren’t that person anymore.”

“I AM!” Father howls. “I could be! SO easily!”

“We’re what’s keeping you in the Light, aren’t we?” Leia asks, too damn perceptive for her own good. She and Luke put a hand on his leg and drown their barriers, letting their love and concern flow free. “That’s why you stopping being Darth Vader, isn’t it? You Turned to the Light for us?”

“Yes,” Father says distractedly, “but-”

“So we can-”

“Yes,” Father interrupts, “but I Turned to the Dark to save Padmé!”

Pause.

“Tell us the truth,” Luke demands. “How did Mother die?”

“I—I had visions of her dying in childbirth,” Father says. “I was told by my m—by Palpatine that only a Sith had the power to stop death, and I believed him, I brought down the Jedi Temple, I kneeled before him, and I offered Padmé the galaxy-”

“And she refused, didn’t she?” Luke asks. “What did you do?”

“I strangled her!” Father howls. “I tried to kill her, I didn’t check to see if she was still breathing, I fought Kenobi, he left me in that suit, Palpatine told me I had killed her in my anger-”

Luke and Leia share a long look. Then Luke scoots himself into Father’s lap and hugs his stomach. “It’s okay now, Daddy,” he says. “She left us behind.”

Anakin loses it.

 

Leia wonders how a meditation session turned into Father bawling while Luke hugs him. Since she’s the only female, she’s clearly the only responsible person on this starfighter. Leia clears her throat. “Father?” She asks. “Can you teach us how to build lightsabers now?”

“Oh,” Father says, sniffles—yes, sniffles, and that’s why Leia isn’t mad at him, “yeah. Um.”

“Come on,” Luke says, clambering out of his lap and tugging his arm. “Get up!”

Anakin gets on his knees and hugs one twin on either side. “I love you so much,” he whispers, “don’t ever doubt that.”

“We love you too,” Luke says, and Anakin’s heart melts. He’d do anything for his children, he knows. He Fell to save Padmé. He unFell (?) to save his children, and it seems to have worked.

“We love you too,” Leia echoes, “but you should know, Father, that we’ll be happiest with you not Fallen, no matter what happens to the galaxy. If you Fall, we’ll leave. 

Anakin nods. “I promise I won’t Fall again,” he says. “Never again.”

And Luke and Leia nod, because that’s good enough for them.

 

-oOoOo-

Leia chooses blue. Luke chooses green. Anakin chooses both.

“But I want two crystals too!” Luke says.

“I have spent a lifetime making lightsabers,” Father says briskly. “You are eight and have never made one in your life. I am not going to waste another crystal on that.” Also, he only had four crystals.

Luke grumbles something unintelligible.

-oOoOo-

 

It is midday when Luke, Leia, and Anakin step onto the Lars’ Homestead. It is the hottest time of day, when both suns shine overhead, but it means that the Lars are inside for sure. This time, Ekkreth is parked just right next to it, now that Anakin knows where the Lars live.

“Uncle Owen?” Luke calls. “Aunt Beru?” This time of day, they should be in the kitchen eating lunch. They were.

“Luke?” Beru asked. “ Luke?”

“Did you get my note?” Luke asks, bounding up to them and giving Aunt Beru a hug.

“Luke, where’ve you been, we were so worried-”

Anakin clears his throat. Both Lars whip up to stare at him. “Hi, I’m Luke’s father,” he says. “And this is… this is my daughter, Leia Organa Skywalker.” She keeps insisting on the Organa part.

“Nice to meet you,” Owen says warily, shaking his hand.
“We’ve met,” Anakin says shortly.

“I wanted to make sure you weren’t worrying about me,” Luke says seriously. “‘Cause I’ll be fine-”

“I’ll be with him, and I’m sure you remember what happened to the Sandpeople who took his grandmother-” Anakin interrupts.

“-But you’re not going to do that anymore,” Leia says, and glares at him.

Anakin gulps. “Um, yes, but I won’t do that anymore.”

“You’re just keeping us safe and happy.”

“Yep.”

“By not Falling.”  

“Absolutely.”

“Okay, enough of this desert,” Leia announces. “Let’s get out of here!”

“Aww,” Luke says, breaking away from Beru and trailing after his father. “But we just go back!”

And the three Skywalkers are gone.

The Lars exchange a look.

“Uh,” Beru says.

Owen sighs. “We have to contact Kenobi.”

 

-oOoOo-

Obi-Wan is worried that Yoda has died and become a ghost just to haunt him.

 

-oOoOo-

Anakin almost has a fit when Leia starts talking about going back to the Organas.

“I just wanted to get to know you,” she says. “They’re still my family.”

“Those traitors are not your family,” Anakin growls. “And-”

“Traitors to who?” Luke asks. “The Empire?”

“Traitors to—traitors to their ideals!” Anakin splutters. “All high and mighty, and then they kidnap their friend’s daughter and raise her against her father!”

“They raised me against Darth Vader,” Leia corrects, but Anakin isn’t listening.

“-Lying to you and Kenobi, Kenobi is the worst of-”

Leia sinks her little fist into his stomach.

“I bet Mother never punched you,” she says, glaring at him.

He gapes at her.

“Think about it from Master Kenobi’s perspective,” she continues. “You just tried to kill Padmé. He knows you’d never tried to kill Padmé, so he’s afraid of how you’ll react if you learn she had twins. You could give them to Palpatine—that’s one option. You could kill them. He probably thinks Anakin would raise them with love and care, but he also thinks Anakin is dead, and I think you believed that yourself up until the moment you found us. He could have given one of us to Mother’s family, but he didn’t know them. He didn’t know your family, but they’re out of the way on Tatooine. He separated us so that you couldn’t feel our Force signatures. What would you have done, Father, in his place?”

She is far too much like her mother. It doesn’t hurt. In fact, it’s downright annoying.

“Leia’s right,” Luke chips in. “Plus, I got to go see my family, it’s only fair that Leia gets to go see hers.”

Anakin sits back and groans. The twins know they’ve won. “Fine,” he says. “But there’s someone else we have to meet first.”

 

-oOoOo-

 

In every scenario that Ashoka had imagined Anakin alive in, she had never imagine him landing in front of her in a starfighter with two little children in tow. In retrospect, given his track record of doing exactly the opposite of what everyone thinks he should do, she should have expected this.

Skyguy? ” She asks, incredulously. “You’re alive?! I thought—the Jedi Purge—Darth Vader—why do you have children? Padmé?”

Anakin stares at her. “How did you know?”

She rolls her eyes. “Skyguy, everyone in the 501st knew there was something between you and Padmé, and they went to war before they ever met a woman.”

He bristles. “Obi-Wan never-”

“He fled whenever he saw you around Padmé, Skyguy. It’s called plausible deniability.”

“He didn’t! I didn’t notice!”

“Of course not, you were busy going moon-eyed around Padmé.”

Anakin groans. “Well, meets my children—Luke and Leia Sk-”

“Oh my gods you are adorable!” Ahsoka bends down because she just has to squeeze them. “Hi, I’m Ahsoka Tano, I was your father’s old Padawan-” she looks up at said father. “Do they get to call me Auntie Ahsoka or do I have to beg?”

He laughs. “Join the crew, Snips,” he says.

“Wait,” she says, gets her lightsabers, and slaps him in the face. “Where’ve you been the past seven years?!”

He rubs his cheek. “That’s a long story.”

She crosses her arms. “I have time.”

“Well…”

“You are not giving her the abridged version, Father,” Leia says, and he winces.

“Right. Well. Come aboard, and we’ll tell you.”

Obi-Wan would be proud; she only slaps him twice more during the entire retelling.

 

-oOoOo-

It’s another two months before Anakin decides Leia’s shields are good enough to keep out Kenobi. He would like it to be two decades, but he’s bullied by the other three members of his growing family.

Leia insists that Obi-Wan would never try and pry into her mind, Luke gives him sad eyes and tells him that Leia misses her family very much, and Ahsoka badgers and bullies him and finally just threatens to tell them about Retha.

He flies to Alderaan.

By now, news of Leia’s disappearance has spread, especially given the state of Leia’s bedroom (she still hasn’t really forgiven him for that).

He lands in Aldera and takes Leia up to the palace gates, leaving Luke and Ahsoka in the Ekkreth.

“I’ll meet you in the Marin Gardens as soon as I can,” she promises, and he doesn’t voice his concerns about that little word can because she’s heard them all already.

“Stay safe, Leia,” he says. “Your mother would never forgive me. And come back.”

“I will,” she promises.

Anakin watches as she skips up to the palace gates.

“Queffor!” She calls. A guard on duty look down and squints. “It’s me, Princess Leia!”

 

Anakin clenches his fists and forces himself not to run after her as she’s ushered inside, forces himself to walk back to the Ekkreth after she sends a don’t worry about me, Father, I’ll be fine.

Leia will be fine. She’ll let him know if she’s in trouble. And if they hurt her, he will tear down the palace to get to her.

 

-oOoOo-

Leia flies down the corridor and flings herself her parents’ waiting arms. “Mama, Papa,” she mumbles into her mother’s dress. She peeks around. “...Master Kenobi.”

“Oh Leia, Leia, are you alright, we were so worried-”

“I’m fine, Mama, really-”

“Where did you go-”

“The starfighter-”

“Promise us you won’t leave again,” Mama whispers.

“I’m sorry for worrying you, Mama,” Leia says. It isn’t a yes, but it isn’t a no.

Mama and Papa don’t let her go.

Leia feels the light brush of Master Kenobi on her shields. “Are you going to try and break down my shields, Master Kenobi?” She asks calmly.

He give her a sad smile and suddenly she feels really bad. “No, Leia,” he says. “But I wish you’d trust us.”

“Do you trust me?” She asks.

They wish she trusted them. She wishes they trusted her. It sounds like a win-win scenario.

It isn’t.

It really isn’t.

“Master Kenobi,” Leia says, “can I speak with you?” She sounds far too old when she says that.

“Of course, Leia.”

She doesn’t miss the looks her parents exchange with him and with each other.

Master Kenobi takes a seat on a couch, and she curls up on an armchair. Her parents give her another worried look and then they leave.

“Who is my mother, Master Kenobi?” Leia asks bluntly.

He gives her another sad look. “I think you know, Leia,” he says. “I think you just want to know whether or not I’d lie to you.”

She juts her chin out defiantly. “Or whether you’d try to deflect and tell a partial truth. Like the last time I asked you who my parents were.”

“I would’ve told you who your parents were,” Master Kenobi says calmly.

Leia takes a deep breath. “But nothing about Luke.”

He gives her another long look. “We need to talk with your parents,” he says.

“Aren’t they already listening to this conversation?”

“No,” Master Kenobi says. “But I will tell them about it later.”

She figured. “Master Kenobi,” she says slowly, “I think you’ve already guessed what’s happened in the last two months.” She looks him in the eye. “You just want to know whether or not I’ll tell you the truth.”

Obi-Wan gave a mental sigh. She was supposed to be eight years old, not a mini Padmé Amidala. Unfortunately, being eight qualified her as a mini Padmé Amidala. “Your father was a brilliant man,” he says quietly. “The best man I’ve ever known—strong and wise and caring, and he loved so hard, it was terrible to watch the other Jedi refuse his overtures of friendship.”

“That’s what drove him over the edge, isn’t it?” Leia asked. “Jedi aren’t supposed to care for people, but protecting the people he cares for is his motivation.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “I’m afraid I denied that I cared for him to until it was too late.”

“You know,” Leia said thoughtfully, “you do the same thing I do.”

She sounded far too much like Padmé when she had a brilliant idea, so Obi-Wan looked up.

“You try to pretend that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader aren’t the same person. So did Vader. So did Palpatine.” Her smile was thin and bland. “Well, Palpatine thought that up until the moment my father killed him. My father thought that up until the moment he realized it would mean he isn’t my father. And unless you think Palpatine managed a reverse Revan’s Cure in one afternoon, well. I think you denied all the parts of him that were Darth Vader when he was a Jedi, and now you deny all parts of him that are Anakin Skywalker. I suppose I do it too. I think you Jedi just didn’t realize how far my father was willing to go to protect the ones he loved, misguided or not. It probably never occured to you that he’d basically sell his soul.

“Luke doesn’t do it,” Leia added, as she got up from her armchair. “He accepts our father as he is.”

Leia left.

 

 




Obi-Wan really didn’t want to know where she’d heard about Revan’s Cure.

 

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly) IV


 

The Eye Of The Storm

 

In Alderaan, the billions of stars in the galaxy twinkle overhead in the night sky, and the moon casts an iridescent sheen on the foliage of the Marin Gardens. There is a whisper of a breeze through said trees and a giggle.

That’s what Mother looked like?” Luke asks incredulously.

“When she was dressing up as a queen,” Leia says, trying to not shake the giant headdress sitting on her head. She clears her throat importantly. “‘I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war!’” Only a slight tremor in her voice gives her away before she and Luke burst into giggles again.

“No no,” Luke corrects. “That’s not it. It’s… ‘Something wonderful has happened,’” He says in falsetto. “‘Ani…I’m pregnant.’” His voice breaks on the last syllable and they double over laughing again.

“Shh! Shh!”

The twins muffle their laughter and hurry to the other side of the garden.

“I feel something,”  Luke whispers.

“Yeah, me too.”

A pause while Leia carefully takes off the headdress and shakes out her long brown hair. “Danger of being caught?” She suggests.

“Probably.”

Luke tiptoes out from behind the bushes.

“All clear,” he whispers.

Leia follows him and Luke hands her a long metal cylinder. She ignites it and two vibrant blue blades spring out from either side. “Wow!” Leia says softly. She steps away from Luke and gives it a few experimental swirls. “But I thought Father said we wouldn’t get to try a double-bladed lightsaber until we turn ten!”

“I’m very convincing,” Luke confides to his sister and they start giggling again. This is why Leia always wanted a sibling—everyone, even her parents, treat her like she’s five and then turn around and demand that she acts all proper. Well, except for Master Kenobi. Master Kenobi looks at her like she’s a hurt puppy. She can’t tell how she feels about it.

Only Luke treats her like herself.

“I think he’s just sad that I’m here and he knows I’ve been wanting to try a double-bladed lightsaber.”

“He wouldn’t let you try the reverse grip.”

“That’s just a bad habit.”

“Auntie Ahsoka does it.”

“Hmmph. Well, I wanna try this out.”

“Yeah! Let’s spar!” Luke says brightly because Father and Aunt Ahsoka are so much better than him it’s depressing.

They step apart and Luke ignites his green lightsaber.  

 

In retrospect, Leia shouldn’t have agreed to sneak out of the palace to meet with Luke in the Marin Gardens.

In retrospect, Luke shouldn’t have suggested it via their bond. He also shouldn’t have snuck out of the Ekkreth without telling Auntie Ahsoka or Father.

In retrospect, they should have known that the sense of foreboding they were both feeling through the Force was not the danger of being caught.

In retrospect, Anakin and Ahsoka should have known that Luke and Leia were like their father in more ways than looks—they should have known that the twins would do exactly what they weren’t supposed to do.

In retrospect, they should have known that the twins would somehow manage to get in trouble.

It just didn’t have to be so drastic.

 

Obi-Wan wasn’t sure why he’d woken up in the middle of the night with an acute sense of foreboding and was all for going back to sleep, but by now he’d learned to trust the Force. And right now, the Force was telling him to get up and go. So he silently got up and left. He had no idea where he was going, since it was pitch black, or where he should be going. He just wandered around until he heard two unmistakable sounds he was unfortunately very familiar with:

Screams.

And the sound of a lightsaber.

Obi-Wan broke into a run.

 

Leia is wearing her typical Alderaani white dress. (She just brought along the headdress to show Luke). It sits on the ground while Luke lunges for his sister. One of her blades meets his, and she twists the lower one towards Luke’s hip. He disengages and knocks it away. Both of them have matching grins.

The starfighter descending on top of them is designed to be as quiet as possible. The engines are designed to attract the least amount of attention—in every way. The twins are busy sparring.

So they don’t notice it until it’s too late.

 

Obi-Wan quickly recognizes the two Force signatures: Leia’s, who has the fierceness of both her father and her mother, her father’s passion, and her mother’s beliefs. And Luke, who…who’s just a ball of sunshine.

They have shields, now, though. It's not the smooth wall of serenity that Jedi project, or the pit of despair and oily tendrils that trap people in a Sith’s mind.

Leia’s mind in the Royal Alderaan Palace. The gates are locked, but she hasn't posted guards. Obi-Wan could slip inside if he wanted to. It's a place she knows very well- almost as well as her own mind.

Luke’s mind is the Tatooine desert. A never-ending, always shifting sea of sand, but if one tries to enter the sands rise and swallow you up. And yet it's liberating. He gets mad and then he calms. He's furious, and then he's at peace. He doesn't force himself to hold on to serenity like Jedi, or feelings of hate and anger as the Sith do. He's… free. And entirely unorthodox, Obi-Wan knows. But it works.

He ignites his lightsaber, as much a weapon as it is a light, and barrels out into the garden.

 

Luke and Leia stop sparring and whip around in sync, not from the pneumatic hiss of the door opening (because there is no hiss, of course), but because of the strong something they’re both feeling in the Force.

But it’s too late.

There is a hiss, and then Leia cries out. She staggers forwards, and Luke sees a dart sticking out of her shoulder. He drops his lightsaber so that both hands are free to catch his sister and hears the sound of jets. Luke has one hand on the dart, not sure whether he should rip it out or not, and the other arm wrapped around his sister. He looks up to see a man some suit of armor with a jet backpack on his back barreling into them. Luke instinctively drops to the ground but didn’t account for his sister’s weight. He falls, hits his head, looks up to see the man’s mask on top of him before everything goes black.

 

Obi-Wan recognizes the bounty hunter as soon as he sees him: Boba Fett. He also notices that both twins are lying crumpled on the ground, and Fett is casting a net around them like they’re fish he’s caught. Fett hears his lightsaber and fires at him right as Obi-Wan thrusts his hand out, sending it right back at him. Fett dodges and fires his jets, lifting the children up into his ship with surprising ease. Obi-Wan slashes through one of the bottom ropes with his lightsaber, but Luke gets caught on the net and Leia is caught on top of him.

He jumps on top of the ship right as Fett pops out of the hatch and sends a volley of blasts in his direction. Obi-Wan dodges them but falls off the ship and hits the ground hard. He makes one last attempt to stop the ship from taking off with the Force, but Fett turns off silent mode and the engines roar at full power.

Obi-Wan watches as once again, the Skywalker twins disappear.

And somehow, he doesn’t think it’s Vader who kidnapped them.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Luke. Leia. Answer me. Luke? Wake up! Leia? Oh gods, please be alive. I’ll never forgive myself, oh gods, answer me, please! LUKE! LEIA! Don’t you die on me, don’t you dare die on me, I swear I’ll do anything, please, oh Force don’t take them from me too-

 

Luke’s eyelids flutter open.

 

LUKE!

 

Father?

 

LUKE—!  Oh, thank the Maker, where are you? Are you alright?

 

I’m… Luke looks around. He is lying on a metal floor, one hand bound to a metal railing. Next to him is Leia, still sleeping, but similarly bound. There’s light, though—he’s in a small, empty, metal room. In a spaceship, I think. I think…uh, I think Leia and I just got kidnapped.

 

Leia? Is she alright? Who?! I’m going to rip out their e-

Yeah, she’s alright… I think. I mean, she got hit by a dart, and she hasn’t woken up yet, I don’t think, but she looks fine. Um, there was this guy… in some suit with a silent spaceship, maybe the-

 

Describe the suit! What did he look like?

 

Um, it was a full-body suit. I couldn’t see his face. And there was paint or something down the side. He’s probably a bounty-hunter, right?

 

Pause. Boba Fett, it was probably Boba Fett. Another pause. When I get my hands on that foul son of a Sarlacc-

 

Dad!

 

-I’m gonna to rip off his helmet and shove it down his throat and see how he l-

 

Dad, you’re not helping! Where’s Auntie Ahsoka?

 

We’re on the Ekkreth, unlike someone who snuck out.

 

I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t think it would be a big deal, I just wanted to see Leia-

 

Well, it got you and your sister kidnapped, didn’t it?

 

I said I’m sorry!

 

Luke? Father? Leia’s voice.

 

LEIA! Father shouts, and both twins wince. Luke looks over at Leia, who’s stirring softly.

 

We’ve been kidnapped? Leia asks blearily.

 

Yeah, you got hit by some dart, Luke says.

 

I can tell. Everything’s… fuzzy. I knew we shouldn’t have snuck out.

 

No, you shouldn’t have, Father says exasperatedly. He tries to say it sharply, but he suddenly remembers all the times he and Obi-Wan ended up rescuing each other…a pang of regret shoots through him that he quickly denies was ever there.

 

You’re just mad that it was my stupid idea that got us kidnapped, Luke says smugly. Leia twitches on the floor.

 

I am not! The Force rings with her indignation. I mean—who wants to get kidnapped?!

 

You so are! Then why did you agree?

 

Because I was bored of diplomacy lessons!

 

Uh-huh. You  love  diplomacy lessons.

 

I—! Well—I thought it better to learn how to defend myself-

 

Face it, you just wanted to get in trouble.

 

Nobody  wants  to get in trouble!

 

Are you calling yourself nobody?

 

Leia turns over, sits up, and slaps him in the face with her free hand. Hard.

 

Ow!

 

Take that!

 

That  hurt!

 

In your FACE!

 

Father, Leia slapped me!

 

I think you mean  nobody  slapped you!

 

So you’re admitting that you’re nobody!

 

So you’re admitting that nobody slapped you!

 

Anakin groans and slams his head into the control panel of the Ekkreth. Repeatedly. CHILDREN!

 

Oh, stop trying to reprimand us, Leia grumbles. We’re on the other side of the galaxy.

 

On the other side of the galaxy, Ahsoka sinks to the floor, laughing hysterically.

“Stop laughing, Snips,” Anakin grumbles.

“Oh gods,” she gasps. “Oh gods—they’re your children, Skyguy, they’re so your children-”

“Emotion is not the Jedi way-”

“You’re one to talk,” she says good-naturedly and falls over laughing again.

“This is Padmé,” he insists. “This is all Padmé, I know it is—who else would have such a torturous method of revenge?”

 

We’re the ones who got kidnapped, Luke grumbles.

 

You’re certainly not doing anything about it.

 

We don’t have our lightsabers!

 

Don’t tell me you  both  lost yours already.

 

Um… Luke and Leia triple check the room. Maybe?

 

And you claim that’s not you-

 

Shut  up,  Snips.

 

Dad lost his lightsaber? Luke asks, delightedly.

 

Oh, many times, and that’s when I was his Padawan. I don’t want to know what he put poor Obi-Wan through-

 

I THINK WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE ISSUE AT HAND! Father interrupts.

 

Pause.

 

Okay, okay, Luke grumbles. Well, we’ll find out who had us kidnapped when we land.

 

When you  land-

 

Sounds great! Ahsoka puts in.

 

It most certainly does  not-

 

Sounds like most of  your  plans.

 

That is  not  the same. My children are  eight years old.

 

Oh, come on. We have a secure channel of communication. That’s better than the comlinks we used to have.

 

Unless they have Force-inhibiting cuffs.

 

Nobody has those anymore. Not after the Jedi Temple burned. And Palpatine died. Ahsoka says.

 

Given our luck, whoever it is probably does have one.

 

You mean it isn’t Boba Fett who kidnapped us? Luke asks.

 

Well, he did, but he’s a bounty hunter. He did it for somebody else, Anakin says.

 

Who? Luke asks.

 

I think he was targeting me, Leia says. So who wants something from my parents?

 

A pause.

 

The Empire? Ahsoka suggests.

 

Anakin’s derision flows through the Force. Yeah, right. The Empire can’t do an official anything right now.

 

Then who else puts out official bounties?

 

A pause.

 

A lot of people, Anakin says. Literally anybody with money and a vendetta.

 

Enough money so that Boba Fett would go for it.

 

The four pause to think.

 

We’re entering an atmosphere, Luke says suddenly.

 

Yeah, Leia agrees. But which one?

 

The door opens. Boba Fett stands in the doorway.

 

“Fett,” Leia spits out. “You’re kidnapping girls now? You ought to be ash-”

He stuns her.

She falls unconscious again.

Father starts roaring obscenities in Luke’s head.

“Where are you taking us?” Luke asks. “Who are you taking us to?”

“My employer,” Fett says, and stuns him too.

 

“Wake them up,” Luke hears someone say in Huttese. There’s so much noise. He wants to go back to sleep—a jolt of pain shoots through his body and he sits up, gasping. Beside him, Leia does the same.

“Leia?” He asks.

“I’m alright,” she says quietly.

There are creatures all around them. Instinctively, they grab each other’s hands.

“Where are we?” Leia whispers to him.

“Hutt territory,” Luke whispers back.

“You speak Huttese?”

“I grew up on Tatooine.”

“Then who’s that Hutt?”

Luke turns around slowly.

 

Father, he says. Father, it’s Grakkus. Grakkus the Hutt.

 

They’re both surprised when it’s Ahsoka who starts cursing.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Ahsoka turns to look at Anakin, who sits frozen in the pilot’s seat, hands shaking. “Skyguy? What’s wrong?”

His eyes are closed. “Gardulla…” he murmurs, and stops.

Ahsoka pulls up the holonet and does a search when he doesn’t continue. “Gardulla the Hutt,” she reads. “Married Grakkus, who is famous for collecting Jedi artifacts. She died…seven years ago.”

“I know,” he whispers. “I killed her. She owned me and my mother.”

Oh. Oh. “You’re not going to Fall again, Skyguy,” Ahsoka says fiercely. “I won’t let you-”

“You can’t stop me,” Anakin cries. “I remember—they beat my mother when I cried, and now they dare—they dare kidnap my children! How do you think I’m going to react?!”

 Ahsoka closes the holonet and sits down next to Anakin. “You’re going to focus on your children first,” she says firmly. “I won’t deny that he deserves to die—but first we have to find Luke and Leia.” She pauses. “You know who always managed to calm you down?”

“Padmé,” he says instantly. Except for that one time he strangled her.

“On missions,” she clarifies, and he draws a blank.

“You?”

“Nope. I got in more trouble than you did.”

He sits up and stares at her, revenge forgotten. “Who?”

“Obi-Wan, of course.”

“No.”

“Skyguy-”

“I can’t face him,” he says, “I can’t d-”

“You failed him as much as he failed you,” she interrupts him.

“Yes, I know!” Anakin shouts. “He left me to burn and die-”

“-But he couldn’t kill you-”

“Which would have been kinder-”

“-And it wasn’t you Obi-Wan left to bu-”

We’re the same blasted person!” Anakin screams. “ Darth Vader-”

“You’re worried about what Master Yoda used to say all the time, aren’t you?” Ahsoka interrupts, unperturbed. “Something about the Darkness dominating your path-”

“How do you not remember-”

“-But if that were true, why did you turn away from it?”

“For Luke and Leia-”

“Exactly. Where we’re going right now—it’s for Luke and Leia. Stay in the Light for them. Just remember that.”

He lifts his head and stares at her, blue eyes wide. “I’m afraid, Snips,” he says. “I’ve never been more afraid since I thought Padmé was going to die, and I know how that turned out, so I’m even more…scared.”

She shrugs. “Well, we’re Jedi anymore. We can do whatever the hell we want.”

“Except for turning to the Dark Side.”

“Except for—okay, fine. Put it this way. If you are a storm, then Luke and Leia are the eye.”

“There are no storms on Tatooine.”

“Sandstorm.”

“There’s no 'eye of a sandstorm.'”

“We’re not even on Tatooine.”

“Fine.”

 

-oOoOo-

 

The Ekkreth lands several minutes later on Nar Shaddaa, just outside of Hutta Town. Ahsoka is out before it touches the desert ground. It doesn’t take that much longer for Anakin to follow her.

 

-oOoOo-

 

“I’m hungry,” said Luke.

“Well, we haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch.”

“Yeah, but I’m really hungry.”

“Have you never skipped a meal before?”

 You’re the princess. Have you?”

“Well, no, but-”

“Ha!”

“That’s not something to be ashamed of!”

“Pampered princess, pampered princess-”

“I will bite you!”

“Okay, okay!”

“Boys are always hungry. Everyone knows that.”

“I’m not hungry after I’ve eaten!”

“You’re still digesting.”

“How would you know?”

“I studied human anatomy in my natural science class.”

“Ugh. Science.”

“You’re jealous.”

“I am not!”

“You’re so jealous. You were busy farming in a desert, while was-”

 “Studying science. Clearly, my life has been better.”

“I had parents.”

“I had an aunt and uncle!”

“I knew who both our parents were before we knew who our parents are.”

“...That doesn’t make sense.”

“It does if you think about it. But I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

“Now that’s just mean.”

You called me nothing.”

“It was a joke!”

“It didn’t sound like one.”

“Obviously you don’t have a sense of humor.”

“I do. It just happens to be a good one.”

“More like a mean one.”

“Oi, look who’s talking.”

“The older twin.”

“Oh, that again. We don’t know who’s older.”

“I’m taller.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“Do you know anyone who is shorter than someone they’re older than?”

“I don’t go around measuring people.”

“Is that a no?”

“You are infuriating!”

“Is that a no?”

“We’ve just been kidnapped by a Hutt!”

“Eh. Father will get us out of here easily.”

“And why did Grakkus have us kidnapped in the first place?”

“Probably to ransom you from your parents.”

“Hutts never go out of their territory!”

“Well, they are now. This is the first time the galaxy has been unstable for a thousand years as well.”

“Why me? There are plenty of richer monarchs out there with children! 

Luke shrugs.

“We’re tied up,” Leia says flatly. “In a room. And you don’t care why?”

Luke shrugs again, and Leia wants to punch him.

She wonders if Mother ever felt the same about Father.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Anakin has a plan.

Granted, it isn’t much of a plan, but it’s far more than he ever came up with on his own during the Clone Wars, and he’s not going to think about his time as Darth Vader.

Well. Okay. It really isn’t a plan at all, more like an idea of one, but it’s the thought that counts. And… the execution of said thought. Plans were always Obi-Wan’s forte, Anakin thinks gloomily. There was no doubt in his ability as a military commander, but when it came to rescuing people, his tactic was generally just run in, locate person (either Obi-Wan or Ahsoka), free said person, rib said person for getting captured, and kill any and all droids or sentient creatures that get in his way. So maybe he hadn’t been particularly Light even when he was a Jedi, when someone he loved was in danger.

But that’s the past; now he has a plan.

Anakin and Ahsoka split.

Anakin walks in the main entrance.

 

Rather, he destroys the locks, destroys the entrance, and then walks in. When several blasters are aimed in his direction, they are yanked through the air and land in a pile behind him. Then he throws those people across the room with the Force. The party (because of course there’s a party), abruptly stops. The Twi'lek slave girl dancing in the center tries to run for cover.

Anakin stalks right up to the Hutt sitting comfortably on the dais. “You,”  he hisses. “Where are they?”

Then Grakkus laughs, his belly laugh, even though nobody else laughs with him. Nobody else moves. “Darth Vader,” he says in Huttese. “Fa paknee ata uba janse ai bakanu.” Anakin doesn’t know how Grakkus expects him to understand Huttese, but he does.

And Anakin knows he fell into a trap.

Grakkus turns on a holoprojector. It’s the live feed of a room, somewhere, and in it are Luke and Leia—and some lackey of the Hutt, Ozamwugi. “Mee kanwon doth banbonzay,” Grakkus continues, oblivious to the blood pounding in Anakin’s ears. “An hatkocanh sobahesa bai doth hee heai jansee peai uba woy catkiua peee Jee sey.”

Anakin wants to kill him. He honestly wants to strangle him, watch the life bleed out of his eyes, make him beg for mercy that he will never receive, because how dare he how dare he–

Luke looks at Leia and begins rapidly speaking in High Sith (which, okay, Anakin maybe shouldn’t have taught to his eight-year-old children, but honestly, it’s just a language. And it’s useful. There’s no one else in the galaxy who understands it).

“Father,” Leia says quickly, “don’t do it. Don’t le-”

Ozamwugi withdraws a needle, and they can see the sparks coming off the end. Leia stops talking and flinches. Anakin barely stops his rage from bringing the ceiling down on them. Who does he think he is, the loathsome slug, he ought to crush his innards and see if the Hutt can still scream-

 

Father?

 

FATHER!

 Luke and Leia are screaming in his head.

 

Anakin realizes he’s been sending his rage through their bond and pulls it in instantly.  

Grakkus is still talking. “Mo mee weuen baa pheau hatkocanh pineu mee henaa baa du mee kacay.”

The ceiling begins to shake with Anakin’s fists. His lightsaber, an aquamarine color in the desert lighting of Grakkus’ palace, is lit and in his hands before he knows what he’s doing. How dare he mention his mother, how dare he try to control him—how does he remember Shmi Skywalker, out of all the slaves his wife owned, how does he know who Anakin is, how does he even know about Leia— nobody controls him-

Not even his emotions. Which seem to be doing a pretty good job of it at the moment. But no more. They won’t cost him someone he loves. Not again.

Grakkus is decidedly unperturbed. “Laniwuapt, Vader!” He bellows.

No one has ever actually asked him to do that before. He has done it as a sign of subservience, knowing he was selling his own soul, knowing it went against his own moral code (he will never, ever again be enslaved!), but doing it to save Padmé. Not that it'd worked.

Anakin turns back to the holoprojector and sees his bright, beautiful, brave children, wide-eyed with fear, and yet eyes narrowed with determination.

“Dari nindz dari oi, Wisosûta. Ao Leia waria dtiazi riasi,” Luke says quietly—because Leia doesn't speak Huttese, and neither Anakin nor Luke are going to tell her what Grakkus has said. The fact that Luke’s using a completely unfamiliar language doesn’t seem to bother Grakkus.

Anakin is dimly aware that he’s shaking.

It’s the perfect ploy. For the first time in millenia, the galaxy is unstable. Unstable enough so that if the Hutts had control of the most powerful warrior in the galaxy (which is him, and for the first time he really wishes it wasn't true), they could get anything they wanted.

He promised his children that he would never kneel again.

He promised Padmé that she would never see her children hurt.

He promised, he promised… He promised he would keep Padmé safe. He failed. He couldn’t even keep her alive. He promised to uphold justice and peace in the Republic. He helped a coup that started the Galactic Empire. He promised to uphold the Jedi Code. He slaughtered thirty younglings. He’s promised so many things he couldn’t keep.

So Anakin Skywalker does the unthinkable.

 

Which, in retrospect, shouldn’t be surprising, but if it wasn’t surprising, it wouldn’t have been unthinkable.

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly) V


 

Three Jedi, Two Troublesome Twins, And One Hutt

 

The thing about communicating through the Force is that it’s instantaneous.

 

“So let me get this straight,” Bail says, rubbing his temples. “Six months ago, Leia’s friend Dijan died and Leia possibly talked to Vader through the Force and somehow he got her on his…side. Three weeks later, the Emperor is destroyed. Two months later, Vader kidnaps my daughter. Two months after that, she comes back and doesn’t say a word about what happened. A month later—last night, you wake up in the middle of the night just in time to see Boba Fett kidnap my daughter and possibly Luke as well.”

Obi-Wan nods. “Exactly,” he says, a bit sheepishly.

The thing about communicating through the Force is that it’s instantaneous. That means faster than any starship, faster than the speed of light, quite literally the fastest speed in the universe—distance doesn’t matter. It’s instantaneous.

 

The thing about Force bonds is that they only get better with time. The better you know someone, the further away you can sense them. Obi-Wan Kenobi could sense Qui-Gon Jinn from the other side of the galaxy. Ahsoka Tano could sense Anakin Skywalker from the other side of the galaxy.

 

Anakin Skywalker can sense Obi-Wan Kenobi from the other side of the galaxy.

 

“And you don’t have any idea where she is?” Breha asks.

Obi-Wan sighs. “If we were on the same planet, yes, I could locate her. She has a strong Force signature if she’s not hiding it and I’ve gotten to know her better over the past few months.”

Obi-Wan.

 

“It would be better if she’s with Luke—I could sense him within the system,” he continues.

 

Obi-Wan!

 

“And you have no idea who might have hired Fett to kidnap her? If you’re so sure it wasn’t Vader?” Bail asks.

 

OBI-WAN!

 

Not now, Anakin! Obi-Wan snaps. I’m busy talking to Senator Organa about…

 

Wait.

 

His vision slides sideways. The world tilts on its axis.

 

Obi-Wan slams his shields up with more force than he’s possibly ever used. Anakin is dead. So forgive him for being surprised that Darth Vader's voice in the Force sounds exactly like Anakin does. Used to. And maybe he's a little upset that Vader sounds that way, because maybe it's a little easier to distance your Padawan who ran around getting in trouble but was always there for Obi-Wan from the murdering Dark Lord of the Sith who killed his own wife Padmé and countless others.  

Vader.

 

That’s what you call me, yes.

 

Oh, he has the nerve to reply, as if he expected to be called 'my Lord', as if he uses the same over-sarcastic tone Anakin did, and didn't Force-choke people who dared to not call him 'my Lord'. Is it not what you call yourself? Do you prefer ‘Lord Vader?’ Or are you aiming for Emperor now?

 

Force, Obi-Wan, I’m not trying to break into your mind. This is important-

 

Oh really? It’s urgent enough for you to use this bond for the first time in almost a decade? It slips out unintentionally. Obi-Wan doesn't blame himself–he was caught off guard, and he is surprised, but admitting that Darth Vader has used this bond before–well. He hasn't. Not really.  

 

Yes! Vader says–is that exasperatedly?–as if Obi-Wan is being particularly dull for being surprised. Look, I-

 

I’m not telling you where Leia is, Obi-Wan puts out, just to see if Vader will get angry. 

 

WELL THAT’S GREAT, BECAUSE I KNOW WHERE SHE IS AND YOU DON’T!

 

So you did have her kidnapped. You know-

 

No! I—you—

 

Obi-Wan feels Vader’s shields relax and suddenly he’s seeing double—Bail and Breha in front of him, and a Hutt.

 

“Darth Vader,” the Hutt says, and Obi-Wan knows he’s seeing this from Vader’s perspective. “Fa paknee ata uba janse ai bakanu.”

Obi-Wan doesn’t know what it means, but Vader is feeling grim apprehension all of a sudden.

The Hutt turns on a holoprojector. It’s the live feed of a room with Luke and Leia tied up inside, and one of the Hutt’s people. “Mee kanwon doth banbonzay,” the Hutt continues, “an hatkocanh sobahesa bai doth hee heai jansee peai uba woy catkiua peee Jee sey.”

Luke speaks rapidly in a language Obi-Wan doesn't recognize.

The Hutt’s lackey withdraws a needle with sparks coming off the end, and Leia flinches. Obi-Wan feels Vader’s rage mounting.

“Mo mee weuen baa pheau hatkocanh pineu mee henaa baa du mee kacay,” the Hutt says, and Obi-Wan still doesn’t know what he’s saying but he is aware of the utter fury pouring from Vader and a lightsaber springs to life right in front of him—of Vader.

“Laniwuapt, Vader!” The Hutt bellows. Obi-Wan is sure that Vader is just going to murder the Hutt right there, but he doesn’t. He wants to—Obi-Wan can feel it, along with unfiltered disgust and revulsion, but he doesn’t.

 

Why? What did the Hutt say?

 

Kneel, Ana—Vader whispers in his mind. Or he’ll—or he’ll-

 

He doesn’t need to finish that sentence. Obi-Wan saw the needle. Obi-Wan knows what Hutts do. He knows the Hutt wants Vader as a slave, or he’ll hurt Leia.

He knows enough.

Where? Obi-Wan asks.

Pause.

 

Nar Shaddaa, Vader says quietly. It’s Grakkus the Hutt.

 

The Hutt who collects Jedi artifacts. Of course it is.

 

“I know where she is,” Obi-Wan says suddenly.

Bail and Breha stop talking.

“What?” Bail asks. “How?”

Obi-Wan has less than a second to answer that question without raising suspicion. “It turns out I can sense Luke better than I thought I could,” Obi-Wan says. “He’s been getting stronger in the Force.”

“Where?” Breha demands.

“Nar Shaddaa,” Obi-Wan says. “They’ve been kidnapped by a Hutt—Grakkus.”

They don't question it. “I can probably convince Mon to-” Bail says.

“No,” Obi-Wan interrupts quietly. “I’ll go alone. This is a stealth mission.” And Vader is there.

“Are you sure?” Breha asks. They don’t hold the starfighter incident against him—it was just as likely to kill Leia as it was to kill the pilot and Obi-Wan.  

“Yes,” he says. “Trust me.” And if he can’t—well, he picked up two lightsabers from the gardens after Fett left. He’ll bring them with him.

“How fast can you get there?” Bail asks.

“With our fastest starship, a couple of minutes,” Breha says.

Obi-Wan stands. I’m coming, Luke, Leia, he thinks.

 

Hurry.

 

He didn’t realize Vader could hear him. Obi-Wan realizes the double vision hadn't gone away and catches a glimpse of Vader’s eye level lowering and turning towards the ground.

 

You’re kneeling, Obi-Wan thinks incredulously, before he can stop himself.

He feels an intense flash of pain, humiliation, rage, determination, and love—

And then Vader cuts the connection off.  

 

-oOoOo-

 

The thing about Grakkus, Ahsoka muses, is that for all that he collects Jedi artifacts, he really doesn’t know anything about the Force. There are reasons for that—only a Force sensitive can open a Jedi holocron, which means the dozens of Jedi holocrons sitting in his palace are unable to teach him anything about the Force. Grakkus knows that during the Clone Wars the IG-100 MagnaGuards were the most effective against Jedi, but he doesn’t know how to nullify a Jedi’s Force ability.

Which is good for Ahsoka, because it means that it’s very easy to track Luke and Leia, especially since they’re in the same palace.

Getting there is harder.

Getting there after breaking into the archive where Grakkus keeps all his Jedi related artifacts and stealing them is harder.

Ahsoka has never gone for easy.

She draws on the Force to make herself unnoticeable. Ahsoka takes down the two guards outside of the storage archive without ever igniting her lightsabers. Which would be a pretty big giveaway. Using the Force, she breaks every one of the locks and shoves the doors open.

It turns out that Grakkus is less of a collector and more of a hoarder.

Inside the dusty room are piles of crates and boxes. Sealed boxes, metal boxes, boxes that have fallen apart, overflowing boxes, and wooden boxes.

There are some things on display—old Jedi robes, a hologram of a dead Jedi, but overall, it’s just a cluttered storage room.

She has plenty of time, but no way to look for an inventory. Ahsoka reaches out in the Force and feels for the quiet hum of Kyber crystals. She finds three dozen or so in two sealed metal crates in the back, underneath a trapdoor.

It's not very hard to break into, if you know where it is, but almost impossible to find without the Force. Clever. But once again shows that Grakkus has no idea how to deal with Force adepts.  

Ahsoka fills her bag with everything she can carry—all the lightsabers (after testing all of them) and most of the holocrons. She leaves the Jedi robes—they wouldn’t wear them anyway. She crawls up the ventilation shaft—which she didn’t expect to see in Hutt territory, but it’s there—and continues following Luke and Leia’s Force signatures. It leads her all the way down, of course, to the cells. She gently releases her bag and crawls the last two feet silently.

 

Hey kiddies, she says cheerfully. Guess who?

 

Aunt Ahsoka? Leia asks.

 

Aunt ‘Soka!  Luke says urgently. He’s kneeling—Father’s kneeling-!

 

Skyguy, Ahsoka says. You better have a good explanation for this.

 

I have a plan, Anakin grits out. Ahsoka is aware of the amount of mental effort it’s taking Anakin to kneel to a Hutt. Especially this one.

She clambers on top of the grate and peers down. There’s Luke and Leia, sitting back-to-back, hands bound behind them to a pole. There’s Ozamwugi, Grakkus’ lackey, holding an electroneedle. Leia is staring at it, wide-eyed. Luke is staring at the holoprojection of his father, head bowed to Grakkus, wide-eyed. Ahsoka sympathizes with both.

 

You’re with the twins? Anakin asks.

 

Right above them, Ahsoka confirms.

 

Good. Don’t give away your position.

 

For maximum dramatic effect? Ahsoka quips.

 

…I can’t say that’s not one of the reasons.  

 

Ahsoka waits.

 

Obi-Wan is coming, Anakin admits.

 

And you know this because?

 

I can feel him?

 

Skyguy, you have and always will be an awful liar.

 

Ahsoka waits some more.

 

I… might have contacted him. Through our bond.

 

Oh, now you talk to him, Ahsoka mutters. Not when I ask you, not when Leia asks you, no, it’s when you’ve fallen into a trap that might get your children killed, that’s the moment, because you’re so sure he’ll listen to you-

 

It worked, okay!

 

Aunt ‘Soka? Luke asks timidly, and her attention is diverted.

 

Yes?

 

What is Father doing? He’s not actually—you know, really doing this, is he?

 

Of course not, Ahsoka says easily, and she can feel Luke and Leia’s relief. For once, he actually has a plan.

 

What is it? Leia asks.

 

There’s no fun in telling you that Ahsoka says, just a little bit evilly. She’s not a Jedi anymore, after all.

 

Aww. Luke is pouting. Pouting.

 

Ahsoka gives in a little. I’ve got two lightsabers up here for you two, she says. In case there are more people outside of this cell. Don’t look up—I’m right above you. I’ll jump down once I get the signal.

 

What signal? Leia asks, purposefully not looking up.

 

Not telling!

Tell us! Luke demands. I wanna know!

 

Yeah me too! Leia chimes in.

 

Nope!

 

But Aunt Ahsoka…

 

Uh-uh! It’s a surprise! She actually has to stop herself from giggling. Maybe it’s good she never became a Jedi.

 

Please?

 

Nope!

 

I won’t make fun of your reverse grip for the next month!

 

Still nope!

 

Pretty please?

 

Uh-uh.

 

I’ll be your best friend?

 

You’re my niece and nephew.

 

Aww. You’re no fun.

 

You’re  not fun. I’m certainly having fun.

 

You’re not the one tied to a pole while someone threatens to electrocute you, Leia grumbles.

 

You’re not the one tied to a pole while your father kneels to a Hutt, Luke says.

 

Exactly. She might be a little smug. Just possibly.

 

Why did Father ever like you?

 

I’ve got no clue, kid, you ask him.

 

The twins feel decidedly disgruntled.

 

-OoOoO-

 

Snips, stop teasing my children, Anakin says. Grakkus is going on about his arena, and some creature he’s importing from Mustafar (he can’t know about Mustafar, no one but Obi-Wan and Palpatine lived to tell about it, it’s a coincidence, he tells himself). If Anakin was anybody else, Grakkus would have nothing to worry about. Even any other Jedi still alive, because Anakin is the only one with a Force bond that can reach the other side of the galaxy. There would be no possible risk in boasting for several minutes straight to Anakin about how he’s going to force him to fight in the arena.

But Anakin isn’t anybody else, which Grakkus should know, given that he called him Darth Vader. But Grakkus doesn’t know anything about Force bonds.

 

Okay, okay, fine. I’m still not telling them.

 

Anakin smiles wryly. I wouldn’t expect you to.

 

He reaches for a different mind. Obi-Wan?

Anakin feels Obi-Wan’s wariness for less than a second before he starts throwing up shields again. Anakin resists the urge to sigh, but lets Obi-Wan feel his exasperation.

 

You’d better hurry up.

 

Obi-Wan doesn’t respond.

 

There’s no entrance, by the way. Anakin tells him helpfully (well, that part is debatable).

 

Obi-Wan lets a little bit of exasperation slip, and then his cold barrier is up again. Am I to assume that you destroyed it, Vader?

 

Oh, stop calling me Vader. I’m Anakin.

 

You killed Anakin, Obi-Wan says, and Anakin has no idea how he says that with so little emotion.

 

I’d like to remind you that  you’re  the one who left me to burn on Mustafar.

 

I left Vader to burn, Obi-Wan says. You’re not—you are Vader—so I left you to burn—uh. I mean–

 

Anakin feels like applauding himself; he’s confused Obi-Wan! Although it’s probably because he doesn’t sound like an asthmatic cyborg with anger management issues anymore.

 

Well, I’m not Vader, Anakin says. Although I was. So you still left me to burn.

 

You expect me to believe that after what you did to Padmé?

 

Anakin’s anger lashes out before he can stop it. He wrestles for control, which is harder after eight years of using anger to fuel his power. You have no right to talk about Padmé, old man, he thinks viciously. Even as that horrible little voice in the back of his head says neither do you; you killed her, you loved her and you killed her, you strangled her, you monster.

 

Not that old, Obi-Wan thinks absently, and Anakin is about to ask why when Obi-Wan walks in the front entrance.

-oOoOo-

 

Obi-Wan blinks. Rushing head-long into situations was Anakin’s thing, but when Vader told him that the entrance was destroyed, he’d just kind of assumed that they weren’t right there. It had occurred to him that it might be a trap, but there was no reason for Vader to use the Force bond now instead of the last eight years when he had stormtroopers to back him up.

He also didn’t expect Vader to be kneeling to Grakkus. Nor did he expect Vader to look exactly like Anakin.

“I see they finally got you out of the suit, Vader,” he says, igniting his lightsaber. “I must applaud—it only took them eight years.”

“Jedi!” Grakkus bellows in Basic. “THIEF!”

“I am a Jedi, yes,” Obi-Wan acknowledges mildly. “Although you certainly have an interesting concept of stealing, given that I sincerely doubt you made any of what you’re wearing around your neck.”

It’s a necklace. Made of lightsabers. Hanging around the Hutt’s fat neck. Vaguely horrified, Anakin wonders how he didn’t notice it earlier.

Grakkus is laughing. “It’s mine!” He shouts gleefully. “It's all mine! You should thank me, Jedi! If it wasn’t for me, everything from your precious Order would be gone!”

“Thank you,” Obi-Wan says tonelessly. “I’ll be taking it back now.”

Anakin has never, ever in his life felt so much disgust from Obi-Wan as he does now. He closes his eyes and hopes that the revulsion isn't aimed at him.

“Vader!” Grakkus bellows, still in Basic. “You should be grateful—your first order is to kill this Jedi!”

Anakin can hear the hum of Obi-Wan’s green lightsaber behind him.

 

Obi-Wan?

 

Obi-Wan’s mind is completely closed off. Slight shivers run up and down Anakin's spine; he feels terribly exposed. Anakin can feel Obi-Wan's lightsaber behind him. He knows Obi-Wan could...strike at any moment. He doesn't.

 

But instead of being grateful for his hesitation, Anakin just feels terribly shut out by his silence.

 

Anakin stands up slowly, wary of Obi-Wan attacking, and ignites his lightsaber. “My name is Anakin Skywalker,” he says passionately. “And I kneel to no one.”

 

-oOoOo-

 

That’s my cue, Ahsoka thinks, and in an instant, the grate is gone and she jumps down. She lands on both feet, and her two lightsabers fly to her hands. Ozamwugi, approaching Leia with his needle, rears back. Ahsoka uses the Force to toss the two lightsabers on her belt back to the cheering siblings, and ignites her two shining, chalk-white lightsabers.

Grakkus’ eyes dart from Anakin to Obi-Wan. “The girl first!” He roars at Ozamwugi in the holoprojector.

“That would be me,” she says brightly, and attacks.

 

-OoOoO-

 

Grakkus roars something in Huttese, and from around the corridor come two MagnaGuards that Anakin hasn’t seen since the Clone Wars. They could take down most Jedi. Unfortunately for Grakkus, these two semi-Jedi know their weaknesses inside and out.

“I’ll take the one of the right,” Anakin says, as if it was just yesterday they were fighting side by side, and attacks.

Obi-Wan takes a moment to decide that his life doesn’t make sense anymore and does the same.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Ahsoka’s two blades come downwards in a cross, and Ozamwugi is forced to jump back.

“You’re really not much of a fighter, are you?” Ahsoka remarks.

“Jedi,” he snarls in response.

“I’m no Jedi,” Ahsoka says fiercely. “I’m…I’m…”  I need something dramatic. “I’m one who walks the paths of the sky.”

“Skywalker? Really?” Leia mutters as she uses the Force to cut her bonds.

Ahsoka ignores her, even though it isn’t much of a fight. He didn’t bring any weapons but the needle. Which is stupid, because he’s down within seconds.

She jumps effortlessly back into the ventilation shaft and comes back down with the bag. “Carry this,” she orders Luke and Leia, who are now both standing with their new lightsabers lit. “We gotta go help Skyguy.”

 

-OoOoO-

 

Anakin’s lightsaber slashes through the chain of the twi’lek slave girl. “Duvanavā!” He yells at her.

Her eyes widen briefly at the one Grakkus called Vader speaking in Amatakka, and then she runs. Everyone else has already done so.

Then his lightsaber flashes up to meet the MagnaGuard’s electrostaff. He uses the Force to push it back, but it’s up again in barely an instant. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Obi-Wan doing the same.

Just like old times.

 

-oOoOo-

 

“What’s in the bag?” Leia asks and she and Luke dragged it down the shaft behind Ahsoka.

“Everything I could take from Grakkus’ Jedi storage room,” Ahsoka says. “Hurry up.”

“It’s heavy,” Luke protests.

“Use the Force,” Ahsoka says flippantly. “Come on! Anakin is in trouble.”

“He’s always in trouble,” Leia grumbles, but she and Luke speed up.

“Why are we going through the shafts?” Luke asks Ahsoka, panting.

“Because there’s a lot of people beneath us who would happily attack us,” Ahsoka says briskly. “We’re almost there. Come on.”

“Thank the Force,” Leia mutters.

“You’re staying up here,” Ahsoka warns.

“What? No! We’ve got to help Father!”

“And you’ll help him best by staying up here and protecting the bag, instead of making him watch out for you,” Ahsoka says. “MagnaGuards have killed many skilled Jedi—one even backed Obi-Wan into a corner.”

“But we can help,” Luke says stubbornly.

“Whether or not you can,” Ahsoka says, “Anakin will see it as his duty to protect you, and that will take away from his own ability to fight.”

They grumble, but acquiesce.

Still, “one who walks the paths of the sky?” Leia asks. “Really?”

“Skywalker was the first thing I thought of,” Ahsoka says defensively. “And then I had to say it dramatically… somehow.”

Luke snorts.

Ahsoka stops abruptly. “We’re here,” she says, and looks back. “Don’t move,” she tells them sternly, and prays to the gods that they aren’t too much like their parents. She waits a few seconds more for the right moment, then jumps down and decapitates the MagnaGuard right below her. She looks up and grins at Obi-Wan’s gaping face.

“Just like old times?” She asks cheerfully.

“Should’ve known if Anakin was here you’d be around,” he mutters.

“Damn right,” she says, turns, and runs after Anakin.

 

-OoOoO-

 

Anakin’s MagnaGuard has backed him out of the room and into the arena. He has developed a sudden longing for mechanical body parts, because at least they don’t hurt as much. He backs into the arena, his lightsaber flashing faster and faster as the MagnaGuard advances. And then his foot hits a rock.

It’s the littlest things that trip you up. Things you couldn’t possibly have predicted. But they certainly affect a lot: Anakin’s legs fly out and he falls flat on his back. He parries upwards desperately and rolls sideways, avoiding the next thrust from the electrostaff, but the next one catches him on the side. He screams as arcs of electricity runs through him and oh Force I miss my mechanical suit. Then next blow cracks across his fingers and he loses his grip on his lightsaber. He uses the pause between blows to scramble up, and without looking, does a backwards aerial onto the stands.

He stands, several feet above the MagnaGuard, with only the Force to arm him. Ahsoka is here and running towards him, as is Obi-Wan—

“WATCH OUT!” Anakin yells. They both turn, but a bit too late.

Grakkus the Hutt has mechanical legs. Twelve, to be precise. And he just barreled into Ahsoka and Obi-Wan, sending them sprawling face-down on the arena floor. Anakin mutters a few choice words about synthetic appendages, a sentiment that Obi-Wan definitely shares.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Luke and Leia both feel their father’s pain when he screams.

They look at each other.

“Are we going to stay here?” Luke asks.

“Absolutely not,” Leia says.

“No way,” Luke concurs.

 

-OoOoO-

 

Anakin looks around for his lightsaber—it should be easy to spot, against the dusty arena floor, but it isn’t—he can’t see it anywhere, and the MagnaGuard is racing towards him. He steps off the seat and into the aisle, preparing to backflip when the MagnaGuard’s electrostaff gets close.

Then a glint catches his eye, and he sees Leia raising his lightsaber, gesturing. The MagnaGuard closing the last few feet between them doesn’t see the lightsaber speeding past it until said lightsaber has sliced through its torso.

There is a moment of stunned silence, and then it topples down the stands and lands in pieces in the arena.

Anakin glances down at the blue-green blade and wonders if Ahsoka even bothered telling the twins to stay hidden. He looks up just in time to see Obi-Wan hand Luke and Leia their lightsabers. His jaw drops as he sees Ahsoka with her twin white blades, Obi-Wan with his green, and Luke and Leia standing back-to-back using Form I press in on Grakkus, their bag left behind them.

The Hutt’s mechanical legs go first. Then go his mechanical arms. Then Obi-Wan takes the lightsaber necklace.

Anakin jumps a good few feet off the stands and somersaults right next to Ahsoka and Luke. “Snips…”

“I told them to stay put!”

“Well, they probably saved my life.”

“‘Probably?’” Leia cries indignantly. “That MagnaGuard was going to stab you!”

“I was going to backflip!” Anakin retorts. He and Ahsoka herd the children and their bag in between them as they hear multiple footsteps. The five back off from the now incapacitated Hutt.

Grakkus’ bounty hunters burst from the entrances, and the three semi-Jedi circle the twins, lightsabers raised.

Somehow, Grakkus is still laughing. “Spastika kushunkoo!” He bellows in Huttese as the bounty hunters surround the five, blasters raised. “Uba caiot tee doieka hoohah tytung!”

“Don’t tell me,” Obi-Wan says dryly, “he wants all of us now.”

“Not in so many words,” Anakin quips.

Ahsoka coughs loudly. “Luke, can you read this?”

She hands an imaginary device to Luke. He peers at it. “Oh yeah… I’m picking up on high levels of sass…”

“Now is not the time to be making jokes,” Anakin tries to say sternly.

“Oi, look who’s talking,” Leia says.

“You children! What happened to respect?!”

“Oh I’m sorry Father, were you feeling disrespected? I didn’t know it was so easy to hurt your feelings…”

It’s Obi-Wan who cracks a smile at that. “Please tell me you have a plan.”

“Oh, you know me. I never have a plan.”

Pause.

Anakin sighs. “Snips, you activated the remote control device, right?”

“After you reminded me over five hundred times? No, of course not.”

“Sarcasm is Obi-Wan’s thing, Snips. It doesn’t suit you.”

“Right, I’m snippy. Skyguy. Yes, I activated it. 

It’s then that the Ekkreth soars over the arena, guns in position.

“Jee phaba uba yoieu fa koumhoiag, Grakkus,” Anakin says (not smugly, no he does not) .

“Rat! Jee toupee uba mah cokha hatkocanh ceabwhoma mee winba!” Luke puts in cheerfully.

Anakin sighs. “You didn’t actually say that, Luke.”

He deflates. “Oh yeah. Well, I told everyone else.”

Grakkus’ bulbous eyes dart back and forth from his bounty hunters, raising their blasters in their direction, the starfighter, aiming directly for Grakkus, and the three semi-Jedi and the two troublesome twins. Four starfighter engines, three semi-Jedi, two troublesome twins, and one Hutt, Anakin thinks… yep, the desert sun is definitely getting to him.

It’s Leia who breaks the semi-silence. “Aunt ‘Soka, just get us out of here.”

“I am, I am,” Ahsoka says distractedly, and the Ekkreth slowly lowers to the ground.

“Uba bap jot ten bolla mo uba chateua!” Anakin yells at Grakkus as Luke and Ahsoka back up the ramp with the bag in tow.

“Tee da uba gee wa douaph!” Luke calls as Anakin follows him inside.

“Get in!” Ahsoka yells at Obi-Wan, who hesitates at the entrance. His internal debate is solved when the bounty hunters open fire and Leia shoved him unceremoniously up the ramp. She zips past him and the ramps closes behind them as the Ekkreth takes off again.

“Well, I’ve got to go pilot-” Anakin’s getaway is cut off when Ahsoka’s arm shoots out and closes around his forearm in an iron grip.

“Conversation,” she demands. “You two. Now.” She glares at Obi-Wan and Anakin, who are awkwardly facing off.

“Father isn’t Darth Vader,” Leia puts in oh-so-helpfully.

“He unFell to save us,” Luke adds, so innocently. “You’re Master Kenobi, aren’t you? Leia talks a lot about you-”

“I do not.”

“You so do. You’re all, ‘ooh, Master Kenobi looks so sad, Master Kenobi j-’”

“Shut up!”

“-just needs a hug-”

Leia lunges for him, and Luke ducks out of the way.

Ahsoka skips away. “I set the coordinates in the navigator already!” She calls. “Don’t kill each other!”

Obi-Wan and Anakin stand in the entrance, lightsabers still ignited.

There’s a tense pause while the twins look back and forth between the two adults.

 

Obi-Wan is the first to break it. “So, you’re alive," he says tersely, recalling the almost casual conversation they'd had in Grakkus' arena like they were back in Geonosis, and wishing it didn't have to be this way. "I must say, Va-”

“Don’t.” Just like that, the spell is broken. “Don’t call me that. I—if not for my sake, then for my children-”

“For Leia? Is that who you were thinking of when you slaught-”

“Stop!” Anakin doesn’t realize he’s trembling until his lightsaber slips from his grip and hits the floor. “If you mean to drag my crimes out in front of me, do as you must, but don’t do it in front of my children, please. I never meant for any of this to happen, truly, I just wanted to protect Padmé and I failed, I’ve failed over and over and I know I don’t deserve any of this, I know it—Force, Obi-Wan, Luke is so good and Leia is so bright and I’m-” his voice cracks, and he sinks slowly to the ground. “-I’m so sorry, Obi-Wan,” he rambles, “I’m so sorry-” his knees hit the floor and he’s attacked by two flying limpets.

Luke runs straight into his chest and buries his face in his shirt. Leia hugs his sword arm and looks up at Obi-Wan. “Father had dreams about Mother dying, just like he had dreams of Grandma dying,” she says. “And Palpatine told him that the Dark Side was the only way to save her, and then he couldn’t get away.”

Anakin can’t help it anymore; he’s sobbing now, a complete mess.

“You’re the best father ever, Daddy,” Luke mumbles into him, sand and all.

“Can’t you feel his Force presence?” Leia demands. “Can’t you tell?”

Anakin doesn’t look up when he hears the retraction of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. He doesn’t look up when Obi-Wan sinks on his knees as well and puts a trembling hand on his shoulder.

“Force, Anakin,” Obi-Wan whispers. “I missed you so much.”

Anakin takes a deep, shaky breath. “Yeah, me too.”

 

-oOoOo-

 

When Ahsoka Tano comes back to the entrance and sees the foursome on the floor, exchanging hugs, she lets out a small sigh of relief and regret. Relief that they aren’t shouting at each other and seem to have settled their differences/convinced Obi-Wan that Anakin is in fact, not Darth Vader. Regret because she has to be the one to break it up.

“I made Shilian souffle,” she calls, and four heads snap up to stare at her.

Not that it’s hard. “It’s in the kitchen.”

“I call the orange one,” Leia says immediately. “Last time Luke got it-”

“You weren’t there!”

“-That hardly matters, the point is that I only had brown sugar ones-”

“It’s not my fault if the Alderaani chefs aren’t as good as Aunt ‘Soka-”

“Are you insulting the best chefs on Alderaan?”

“No, but Aunt ‘Soka is from Shili-”

“No she’s not, she was born there but she grew up with the Jedi-”

“So obviously she still has some ingrained knowledge-”

“You’re just comparing her to Father, which really isn’t saying much-”

“-He hasn’t blown up the oven since Nander-”

That’s hardly a standard of excellence-”

Obi-Wan starts chuckling, Anakin grins unabashedly, and Ahsoka laughs and leads the way to the kitchen.

 

 

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly) VI


The Last Skywalker

 

Anakin wakes up in a cell and sighs. “I can see you, you know,” he calls. “Just because I can’t feel the Force doesn’t mean I’m blind.”

Obi-Wan chuckles, but doesn’t move from the doorway. Anakin tries to shift his still bound hands in the dim light and peers up the steps to the cell door, framing one Kenobi.

“Well?” Anakin asks crabbily. “I tried talking. It didn’t work.”

“Go on, say it.”

“What?”

“You know what.”

“Wh—oh. Oh.”

“Say it.”

“No way in all nine Corellian hells."

“Come on, it’ll be funny.”

“For you.”

“Exactly. Go on, I’m waiting.”

Anakin sighs. “SNIPS!”

Her echoing giggle from somewhere out of sight is all the answer he needs. “Traitor,” he mutters.

“Say it,” Obi-Wan prods. “You owe me.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No way.”

“It’s hilarious.”

“It’s humiliating! I hate it!”

“I love it.”

“Still no.”

“I could just walk away.”

Anakin grinds his teeth. “No.”

Obi-Wan hums as he steps out of the doorway.

“You are evil!” Anakin proclaims.

Obi-Wan stops.

And waits.

Anakin groans in defeat. “Help me, Obi-Wan. I’m Panickin.’”

Obi-Wan starts laughing. “That was as funny as I thought it would be.”

 

-oOoOo-

When they’d arrived back on Alderaan after Luke and Leia’s brief stint of captivity, Leia had insisted that Anakin had to talk to her parents (it worked with Obi-Wan!) Luke had decided to support her, and the two had ran off before anybody could stop them.

“Queffor! It’s me!” Leia had sang at the gates.

He peered down. “Princess Leia? Who’s that?”

“This is my brother Luke.”

"Your brother?"

"Yep!"

“Right. Okay. Please, just get inside. I don’t get paid enough for this,” he muttered, and the gates swung open.

 

So Anakin had tried to talk to them.

Well, kind of. He’d gone alone to find Bail and Breha, found Breha, and then told her that he needed to talk to his daughter, and also he’s not Darth Vader anymore, so could she please let him in?

He’d also maybe simply destroyed the gate and walked in, and then told Breha she could put restraints on him if it made her feel better, without realizing that she would have Force-restraining cuffs because she actually knew something about Jedi.

Anakin swallowed and looked down at his stomach. Breha's blaster dug into his skin. There was no way he could avoid it. He supposed he could still fight with his hands tied behind his back—literally, but there was no way that Breha wouldn’t be able to fire before he could do anything.

He felt utterly helpless. He couldn’t even call to Ahsoka or Obi-Wan for help. “You wouldn’t,” he croaked.

The queen didn’t even blink. “Mm. Would I.”

 

Then Luke and Leia had panicked, because they couldn’t feel their father through the Force anymore, and promptly ran away from Bail, while Obi-Wan and Ahsoka went to drag Anakin’s sorry ass out of his cell.

It was a mess.

In the end, Obi-Wan went to go have a long, long discussion with Bail and Breha, while Anakin and Ahsoka gave a very long lecture to Luke and Leia, who had somehow learned little from their short stint of captivity.

Then Obi-Wan convinced Anakin that helping the Rebellion is absolutely something he should do, specifically, reviving Anakin Skywalker, Hero With No Fear (and favorite of the public during the Clone Wars).

Anakin had agreed. Eventually. And Ahsoka had agreed to join him, because otherwise he was going to get himself killed. Obviously.

But the five of them got back on the Ekkreth for one final trip.

Because there was one last person they needed to visit.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Obi-Wan doesn't ask why Luke is also up at three in the morning. The ship is on autopilot, which means Anakin is asleep, so maybe Luke didn’t want to wake his father up. But right now, Luke is a complete wreck. He’s trembling not from cold, but from fear—Obi-Wan knows the difference—his eyes are red, he’s still sniffling, and the way he glances around the room is almost paranoid. It’s not a good look on any eight year old, and Obi-Wan is sure that there has to have been a very good reason for Luke not to run to his dad in this state.

But he doesn’t ask.

Obi-Wan sits on a stool in the darkened kitchen, tea mug clasped in hands. Wordlessly, he slides it over the cold marble counter to Luke, who had just stumbled into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes.

Luke accepts it without a word and offers Obi-Wan an awful smile. He pulls himself onto the opposite stool and tries a sip.

“Something on your mind?” Obi-Wan asks, because of course there is. There were too many memories keeping Obi-Wan awake; that's why he's here.

He closes his eyes.

“...Thought everybody knew about that scar,” he says.

Anakin grins cheekily, stretching his new scar. “Apparently not. So of course I had to tell her something…” He pauses dramatically.

“What did you tell her?” He asks, indulging him. The other Masters say he does it too much. He gives them a diplomatic non answer and promptly ignores them.

“That you were Knighting me and missed.”

He chokes on his tea. “You what?! Anakin, that's not funny!”

“Her face certainly was.”

 

Obi-Wan opens his eyes and blinks the memory away.

Luke shakes his head mutely and rocks back and forth. “Couldn't sleep,” he mumbles.

Obi-Wan’s raised eyebrow, perfected after decades of practice, is completely unappreciated in the dark. Still, he refrains from any sarcastic comment because this is Luke and not Anakin.

Although…

“Oh yeah… I'm picking up on high levels of sass…”

Obi-Wan blinks it away. Here and now, Kenobi, he tells himself. Here and now. “I won't pry,” he says, and it seems to open a floodgate.

“Did you know that Dad told Emperor Palpatine about me and Leia?” Luke blurts, and then looks shocked at himself.

Obi-Wan ignores the grammar and chooses to focus on the content. It's years of diplomacy that stops him from reacting. Noticeably, at least, in the darkness of the pre-dawn morning. “No,” he says mildly. “I did not.”

“Yeah,” Luke says, seemingly encouraged by Obi-Wan’s lack of reaction. “I mean I thought so. I mean–me an’ Leia think the first time Dad said he was Anakin he didn't mean it. ‘Cause he'd just found out about Leia’s other parents and didn't want to scare her away.”

He sets his mug down and hugs his knees. “Dad and Leia argued a lot those first three weeks. I was just happy to have a dad but–Leia wanted to tell her family about Dad being alive, only he was really demanding that she didn't and that's when we figured out about the mind binding thing and Dad yelled at Leia for hours one night and she was really scared and I was really scared and he kept talking about how easy it would be to kill people—”

Luke breaks off and looks down on his knees. “We asked him ‘bout it ‘ventually,” he tells his stool. “Well, Leia did. Dad said he told Emperor Palpatine, and he said–he said–well I mean you can guess what Palpatine said-”

Train them. Turn them against each other. Have one of them kill the other, have one of them kill their father. Yeah, Obi-Wan can guess.

“But I guess he didn’t know that Dad could still care for people. Or somethin’. And Dad told us he was Darth Vader and he said sorry a lot and I guess he was listening to Leia all those weeks. He said he didn’t think he could be Anakin Skywalker but he wouldn’t be Darth Vader anymore. And then Leia wanted to know why he changed…”

Luke’s voice is barely a whisper at that point, and when he looks up, two tracks of tears run down his face. “We’re kinda glad now Dad told us the truth, but we weren't really glad in the moment…”

Luke’s entire story is very convoluted, but Obi-Wan thinks he understand. Anakin had told them he was Anakin the very first time without meaning it, and then acted like, well, like a Sith Lord. But then he’d told Palpatine that he’d had two children after all, adept in the Force, and realized that Palpatine expected to train them and either have one of them replace Vader as his Apprentice or have Vader kill both of them.

And now his eight year old son is having nightmares about it.

It certainly explains a lot. Why Vader turned on Palpatine. Obi-Wan hadn’t thought about the details, but apparently it was Emperor Palpatine himself who finally drove Vader away from the Dark Side, ironically enough, after weeks of arguing with Leia about it.

But this is not something Luke should have to deal with. That is not how Luke should know his father.

“Well,” he says lightly, “if it helps, all Palpatine ever did was lies and tricks. Although, I happen to know a particular trick that your father falls for every time.”

Luke looks at him suspiciously.

“It's been eight years,” Obi-Wan adds. “It might not work.” He clears his throat. “ANAKIN! THE COUNCIL MEETING IS IN FIFTEEN!”

A pause, Luke staring at him incredulously, and then—

Anakin groans from down the hall. “FIVE MORE MINUTES!”

“And have your hair look like a nuna bird’s nest?” Obi-Wan calls back.

Anakin groans again. “Come on! We just got back…”

Obi-Wan chuckles lightly to himself. “Wait for it…” He mutters to Luke, who is gaping.

“From…” Anakin continues, and then pauses.

Luke starts giggling. He rubs his eyes again and surreptitiously wipes away the tears with his fists.

“Wait…” Anakin’s voice trails off.

A pause.

“OBI-WAN!”

Anakin marches into the kitchen with an awful head of bed hair, looking sleepy and furious.

He calmly takes his tea back and had another sip. “Yes, Anakin?”

Anakin slumps in a chair and puts his face in his hands. “I hate you,” he mutters.

Luke falls out of his chair laughing.

 

-OoOoO-

 

“We’ve arrived,” Ahsoka says softly.

The members of the Ekkreth are remarkably silent. Here they are, visiting the last member of their little family. Anakin almost sleepwalks towards the exit. Luke and Leia immediately try and follow him, but Obi-Wan holds them back.

“Give him a few minutes,” he says. “This is…personal.” He doesn’t know how to explain it any better, but they seem to understand.

There is one last family member the Skywalkers have to see. And for this one, Anakin has to go alone.

 

 

Chapter Text

Those Who Walk The Paths Of The Sky (Must Learn To Fly) IV


 

Those Who Fall And Those Who Fly

 

 

The gardens are just as beautiful as Anakin remembers. If there is one thing this planet is known for, besides its penchant for peace (and democracy, though none dares voice that anymore), it’s the flowers. There are so many of them, and each holds a special history for Anakin. He recognizes some of them–how could he not?

There are no guards to the memorial building he stands in front of. Why would there be? This is almost sacred ground for the people of this planet. Nobody would dare disturb it, even if they wanted to. White marble rises like a mausoleum–because that’s what it is, isn’t it?–in the clear sky, as if it were a temple and not a grave. It’s just as well, Anakin thinks, because if there was one person who should be treated like a goddess in death it should be her.

He climbs the shallow steps, threadbare brown cloak brushing the polished marble. Obi-Wan claimed that he’d left far too many cloaks lying around the galaxy to have a nice black one. His hands shook–something that couldn’t physically happen while he was Vader, and had no hands, much less arms. Anakin supposes that it’s a good sign–his nerve endings are working properly.

Inside, the room is mostly bare, with warm brown marble for the floor and walls. Basic lighting along the sides light the room, with two large torches on either side of the tomb. It’s closed, of course. The corpse would have long rotted away. But all Anakin can think of, staring at the white casing, is that his beautiful Padmé lies inside.

He imagines her as she lived. Sleeping peacefully, as if the last day of her life wasn’t hell and horror waking, as if it wasn’t his fault. Anakin imagines her with her hair laid out, flowers decorating her hair like a wreath (or a crown). He pretends.

Anakin is glad to see that the people of Naboo haven’t forgotten her. At least a dozen bouquets cover the tomb, and scattering of old flowers lie about. Given the sheer number of flowers, someone must sweep them out every night. The rest of the galaxy doesn’t remember, given Naboo’s famous son became the Emperor, but the people of Naboo have a long history in overthrowing tyranny. They also have a long history in the language of flowers. Billa ferns and canathé, which symbolized defiance of power and memory that survives beyond death, when paired, indicated wrongful death at the hands of a political authority. Something only a native of Naboo would know, and even then only those who bothered to learn.

Or Anakin. He stares at the little bouquet of pale yellow fronds and purple canathé sprays and wonders who left them there. Perhaps the same person who left the decaying bouquet of Queen’s blossom, yellow zinnia and irises. The iris flower normally meant royalty and faith, which would not be uncommon to see on a queen’s grave, and the yellow zinnia symbolized daily remembrance. But the irises happen to be purple sword irises. A vow of revenge. Dark crimson rose petals blanket the casket: mourning. Anakin drops to his knees and picks one up, rubbing it between his fingers before placing it back on the floor.

“Padmé,” he breathes, and this opens up a world. “I’m trying, Padmé,” he begins. “I spent a week re-learning how to talk, for kriff’s sake.” He closes his eyes and can almost feel the vats back on Kamino; three weeks lost to rebirth. An entire week sedated, a vague blur while his limbs were regrown. “Look,” he says, pulling off a black glove and displaying his hand that looks so close to how it looked eight years ago. “See? New hands, even the old mechanical one is gone.” He rubs the synthskin covering his hand. “They copied my DNA and grew me new organs,” he whispers. “I was living out of a tube for a week.” Half a week spent restructuring his face, another developing skin. His Master–no, Palpatine–liked to say that he had been born in the fires of Mustafar. Anakin wondered what it meant now, that he’d been reborn in a lab.

Because once there was a little boy born in a desert who grew into a man who forgot his name who became a monster and now–

Anakin sits back on his heels and reaches up to the roots of his hair. He slides it off and holds it on top of Padmé’s grave with shaking fingers. “I’m barely even human,” he mutters. He hadn’t asked for hair; he’d long grown detached from human needs and cosmetics (although he would never say the same about Padmé’s hair), but he’d told the Kaminoans to do whatever they had to do, and they’d gotten him hair. It was the same length, same sandy brown, and for a moment Anakin almost threw it away but then he had wondered what color his son’s hair was, and decided to keep it, as a reminder of what to strive for, of what to stay away from.

“But I’m trying, Padmé,” he says again, pleads really, as if she could hear or care. “I really am.”

Anakin reaches behind him for the flowers he dropped to take off his hair. It’s not a bouquet, just a bunch of single flowers he bought in Theed. A single red rose in full bloom. An orange blossom. A pink rominaria. A single branch of rosemary flowers.

I still love you.

Eternal love.

Padmé’s favorite flower.

Remembrance.

Anakin drops them, one by one, on Padmé’s grave, joining the yellow zinnias and zaela blossoms. He cradles the last flower in his hand, a precious, delicate little thing that his Tatooine side said he’d spent far too many credits on. He pretends that it’s going to rest on top of her tomb, forever frozen in time, just like Padmé. Slowly, he opens his fingers and lets the varykino glass flower fall. Without a sound, it lands between the rosemary blossoms and purple sword irises.

A promise. A vow of revenge. I will fulfill your last wish. Dear love, all rolled into one.

A million moments flood through his mind; thousands of disjointed thoughts, images, feelings, sounds, and dreams. A floral perfume and a mass of brown curls. Heat and double blasters, bravery etched in a song like a weapon, grass and sand their own ocean, a half faded laugh, fallen skies and a dozen safe returns–

And then, when his mind passes the fires and fears (and her cries) and a million memories he could have had, when a single human tear drips down his face and on the flowers, he remembers:

“There’s still good in him”

A woman who is so sad and so beautiful even in death, bringing life in the darkest time of the galaxy.

He remembers a memory that isn’t his, feels a pain that never was his, but still he knows, that even then:

Love.

Forgiveness.

Anakin rocks back on his heels, his eyes wide. Psychometry was uncommon within the Jedi Temple, and mostly not valued to the Sith; why would they wish to speak to the dead? Anakin never thought that he possessed any talent for it. But he could hear her voice ringing in his head, feel her life fading out, but most importantly, he could feel the sweet touch of forgiveness, even as the bruises around her neck shaped like lovely violet fingerprints pressed against her skin.

Forgiveness is divine, his mother had once said, and that is how we know that the Masters are not.    

Because the boy had found a beautiful flower, and he wanted keep it safe, so he picked it and loved it and treasured it, but everybody knows if you pick a flower it will wither and die except for the silly little desert boy

Except the silly little desert boy is dead now, just like the monster wrapped in pain and death like armour, and neither are ever coming back, but his children are still named Luke and Leia and the memories are still his.

And all Anakin can think in that moment, staring at the fresh flowers laid before his, is that he’s glad that someone else besides him remembered. He stands, drawing his cloak around him like the tomb is sucking the warmth out of him, and wipes away a tear. Don’t waste your water, someone, somewhere, on Tatooine had once said. Here, we drink our own tears. But it’s been far too long since he’d been that boy.

“Happy birthday, Padmé,” he says finally, and smiles.

Then Anakin Skywalker turns and walks out of his wife’s mausoleum without looking back.

 

-oOoOo-

 

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka feel the difference the moment Anakin walks back into the Ekkreth. They can see a tear track running down his face, but his presence in the Force feels so much lighter.

No, that’s not right, Obi-Wan thinks. The darkness has simply lessened. Forgiveness, he thinks; knows, somehow. “Alright, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asks.

Anakin smiles and says, “Yeah,” and Obi-Wan knows that he’s telling the truth.

Luke and Leia come running up, their voices stumbling over each other. For all Obi-Wan can tell, they might be arguing with each other or getting along perfectly. He watches Anakin glance from his two children to Ahsoka, slouched by the pilot’s seat, eating Anakin’s candied nuts with a shit-eating grin, to Obi-Wan himself. He has no idea what Anakin sees; his attention is pulled to two of Anakin’s third and fourth fingers on his right hand rubbing together unconsciously. He notices a slight bulge on the fourth finger.

Oh, Obi-Wan thinks. Oh, Anakin. You replaced it. He glances up again and knows that Anakin saw him notice, but whatever Anakin sees in Obi-Wan’s face must be good.

“Okay, you two,” Anakin says. “Tell me during the flight; we’re going to visit Mama’s old summer house.”

It’s the first time he’s ever addressed Padmé as their mother, Obi-Wan thinks, and he knows Ahsoka noticed as well, given how she straightened. “Seat’s all yours, Skyguy,” she says.

Anakin raises an eyebrow. “And my nuts?”

“All mine,” she says, grinning, and stuffs the last of them in her mouth. Anakin trained her well, Obi-Wan notes dryly. Anakin gets in the pilot’s chair. Ahsoka wipes the remaining dust from the candied nuts on her shirt before settling into the copilot’s seat. A minute later, they’re up in the air, flying above the city of Theed.

Buildings fly by, and Obi-Wan is about to ask Anakin to slow down when the ship’s communicator beeps.

“That’s weird,” Ahsoka mutters.

Ekkreth didn’t technically pass Imperial inspection,” Obi-Wan points out. “It’s registered, but we didn’t actually apply for a pass into Naboo.”

“Because we were flying from a Rebel base,” Anakin reminds him.

“Should’ve flown straight from Alderaan,” Ahsoka grumbles.

“Attention, passengers aboard the Ekkreth,” says an Imperial official from the communicator. “Please land immediately and prepare for Imperial inspection.”

“Let me handle this,” Obi-Wan says, and strides over to the communicator. “Under what orders?” He asks.

This is a routine inspection, sir,” the Imperial officer says, sounding bored. “Land immediately or we will resort to force.”

Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka share a look.

“Routine…” Ahsoka mutters. “It could be a coincidence.”

Anakin snorts. “Or it could not.”

“What do we do?” Ahsoka asks.

Obi-Wan rubs his beard. “If we try to run we’ll attract attention for sure,” he says. “And Naboo is still relatively surrounded by Imperial troops. This isn’t exactly a starfighter.”

“Wait,” Luke says, “why are they stopping us?”

“For routine inspection,” Anakin answers.

“Is it though?” Leia says skeptically, voicing what they’re all thinking.

Anakin looks from his children to Obi-Wan.

“You have twenty seconds to land,” the Imperial official says, sounding more alert now.

“I’m landing,” Anakin says. “I’m not risking the children.” He does just that, landing slowly to avoid the people in the street below; Imperials can stop anyone anywhere, at anytime.

“Should we leave the lightsabers?” Ahsoka asks as Obi-Wan strides to the exit.

“They’re going to search the ship,” Obi-Wan says, “not us.”

“Probably,” Anakin mutters. He and Ahsoka unstrap themselves from their seats. The twins exchange glances and then run to their father, each taking a side and grabbing his hand in a vice-like grip. “It’s just an inspection,” he reminds them. “Everything’s going to be fine.”

“That’s what Aunt Beru said when I broke my arm,” Luke says. “Everything was not fine.”

“Five seconds, sir, please step outside now,” the Imperial official demands, sounding more suspicious than before.

“Just go,” Anakin urges, and the automated door opens with a hiss. Obi-Wan strolls out, fingers jammed in his belt. Ahsoka skips out after hiding her lightsabers from plain sight, and Anakin follows last, holding his children’s hands and glaring at the Imperial official as if they personally offend him.

The street appears to be a market street. People are passing back and forth on the cobblestone road while vehicles pass overhead. There’s at least two flower shops; Obi-Wan can tell by the floral scent. Little shops line either side of the street.

You didn’t happen to have anything illegal onboard, did you? Obi-Wan asks Anakin. There’s a pause while Anakin sorts through relevant memories.

Probably not, he replies, but there’s far too many memories onboard the Ekkreth to be sure, and Anakin has never been the best at remembering where he puts things anyway.

The Imperial official stands in front of the door. She looks like she just got a promotion from maintenance staff and is not particularly enjoying her upgraded status. She has a neatly pressed black Imperial uniform with her black hair up in a bun and covered with the Imperial cap. It’s like a hat. Only less cool. She has a little name tag that reads Shannon Halehollow.

“What is the purpose of your flight?” Shannon asks.

“Just a vacation,” Obi-Wan answers. “We were hoping to stay with relatives in the countryside, see our late Emperor’s home planet.”

Shannon looks bored, unimpressed, and suspicious. Not good. “And who is ‘we’?”

“Ben Kenobi,” Obi-Wan says. “This is my brother Andrew Kenobi, his children Lilah and Lukka, and that’s our pilot Aloo Tano.”

Shannon looks at ‘Lilah’ and ‘Lukka’ and up at ‘Andrew’ and back down again. “And where is the mother?”

“She died a long time ago,” Anakin says shortly. Shannon is, unfortunately, completely unfazed by his tone which, as Darth Vader, would have made nearly anyone in the Empire a nervous wreck. She’s also used to receiving the short end of her superior’s patience. It is, however, looking more and more like an actual routine inspection.

“Right,” Shannon says, and fishes and earpiece out of her pocket. “Will begin inspection,” she mutters into it.

Copy,” says a voice at the other end. “Proceed.”

Shannon gives the family one more suspicious glance. “Stay right there,” she says, and pulls out a detector as she enters the Ekkreth, muttering about short-staffing.

“So…” Ahsoka says. “Routine? Yes? Also, Aloo? Really?”

“Yes,” Obi-Wan says. “Also yes. It was the first name I thought of.”

Anakin sniffs. “Not as bad as Andrew.”

“Hey,” Ahsoka says. “I think it suits you.”

“Well, I don’t agree, Aloo.”

Shannon clears her throat loudly from the entrance and they spin around. Her detector is back in her pocket. She’s holding a sheaf of papers in one hand and a blaster in the other.

“Request backup immediately,” Shannon mutters into her earpiece. To Obi-Wan, she says, “care to explain how Rebellion files ended up onboard your vacation ship?”

Goddammit Anakin.

This is not my fault!

Skyguy, you said that after Nander. Nobody believes you anymore.

“Must have been the owner,” Obi-Wan says smoothly, looking appropriately aghast. “I can give you their information.”

Shannon looks supremely suspicious.“Isn’t the pilot the owner?”

Anakin eyes her blaster and wonders how far away her backup is, and if she’ll let the children go if he and Obi-Wan come quietly. Probably not. That’s not the way the Empire works.

“No, we rented it separately,” Obi-Wan says. “The owner was unwilling to meet in person but offered a good price; they went by the name of Fulcrum.”

Shannon remains unconvinced. “I’m going to have to take you in for questioning.”

I still hold that Nander wasn’t my fault.

Not helpful, Skyguy. Plan of action?

Making a run for it will attract even more attention. There’s too many Imperial ships here to make it off planet.

It is a starfighter, Anakin points out.

Are you willing to risk the children?

They’re even more at risk if we walk right into the Empire’s loving arms!

Dad, Leia demands, what’s going on? What are we going to do?

You and Luke are going run for the Ekkreth , Obi-Wan says. We’re going to have to make a run for it.

We can help, Luke says stubbornly.

There’s three of us and one of her, Anakin points out. We need to take off as soon as possible.

I’ll knock her out, Obi-Wan says. You and Ahsoka get in your seats.

There’s at least two Imperial Star Destroyers in orbit above Naboo, Ahsoka says. This is insane. We can’t make it out. We’ll have to hide on planet until we can sneak off.

Anakin’s anxiety bleeds into the Force. We don’t have a choice, he says. We don’t know the Rebel cell on planet and there’s no guarantee they’ll hide us.

Obi-Wan can do a Jedi thing, Ahsoka says. People here like Jedi.

“Please,” Shannon says, “it’s better for everyone if you don’t resist arrest.” She looks nervous, pointing her blaster at Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and then Anakin. She’s probably never fired it at a real person before. Anakin almost feels sorry for her.

“Excuse me!” A voice calls from down the street. Everyone turns to see two women half-running towards them. They’re about the same height, on the shorter side of average, with light brown hair (although one is curly) and almost matching expressions of indignation. Given the similarities, they’re likely siblings. The one who spoke is wearing a blue-gray dress with a white sash and black shoes. Dresses nicely, Obi-Wan thinks, but not rich.

“Why have they been stopped?” The woman with curly hair demands. They stop, out of breath, in front of them.

Their little group is attracting more attention now; a few people are glancing their way. But Imperial searches are still common enough that most people just walk past.

“Who are you?” Shannon demands; a challenge of status.
“Senator Pooja Naberrie of Naboo,” the other woman, with an purple shirt and orange pants, says, breathlessly. “Well, she is, that is. I’m her sister.”

The Senator straightens to her full height, which really is still short, and forces her breathing under control. “These are my associates, and I demand to know why they have been stopped.”

Shannon shifts from foot to foot. “Apologies, ma’am, this is a routine inspection.” She pauses. “Also, they were found with Rebel papers.”

“Are you accusing and Imperial Senator of treason?” Pooja says coldly. It’s not Shannon’s place to, and everybody knows that. The game of intrigue and deception associated with the higher levels of the Empire is not for the lower ranks; it’s one of the unspoken rules. If it were, everyone would constantly be needing to watch their back, and it’s stressful enough as it is. Even they have a limit.

“Of course not, ma’am,” Shannon assures her hurriedly. “It’s, uh, standard protocol to, uh, take them in for questioning.”

“On what evidence are you arresting them?” Pooja snaps. Of course, the Empire doesn’t need evidence to arrest you, but when a higher ranked Imperial is snapping a question at you, you don’t answer I don’t need evidence unless you want to lose your job, or possibly your life.

“This?” Shannon says, lifting the papers and pointing the blaster away from Pooja.

“That’s not evidence,” Pooja declares without even looking at it. “Anyone could have written that.” She’s hinting that someone in the Imperial Senate who wanted her gone slipped it into the Ekkreth to get rid of her. Which would mean that it’s all part of ‘the game’ that Shannon definitely doesn’t want part of, but siding with the wrong person could cost Shannon her life.

“Right,” Shannon says awkwardly. “But, uh, Moff Onaka ordered that anyone found with association to the Rebellion to be taken in for questioning. Forged or not. Ma’am.”

“Moff Ambri ordered that any Imperial must have reliable evidence to arrest a citizen of the Empire,” Pooja fired back. “And I’m exerting my right as Imperial Senator in Special Order #145.”

It’s common knowledge that there are 300 Special Orders. What Special Order #145 is, however, is not common knowledge. It has nothing to do with Imperial Senators dishing out favors, but Shannon doesn’t know that, and she isn’t willing to argue.

Moff Ambri and Moff Onaka have relatively the same amount of power at the current moment, although Obi-Wan knows that Moff Onaka is going to lose an Imperial Star Destroyer soon, which Shannon would know if she read the papers that she found in the Ekkreth. Also, Imperial Senators technically have the power to do something like this, although they were essentially expensive decoration and getting more and more useless from year to year. The real power lies with those who control the Imperial Navy. But since Grand Moff Tarkin and Lord Vader are both gone, instead of an epic, horrible, and devastating battle for control between the two of them, almost all the Moffs are fighting for control of the Empire, and some are using Imperial Senators as claims of legitimacy.

That said, Senators can also make a low-level maintenance worker disappear pretty easily.

“Of course, ma’am,” Shannon says, looking both scared and bewildered. “Uh. Sorry about that.” She tucks her blaster back into her belt self-consciously and half-faces Obi-Wan. “I’ll be on my way then.” She runs off.

Pooja’s glare melts away and the two sisters high-five.

“That was brilliant,” the other sister says. “I didn’t know you had it in you.”

“Hey! A little faith!” Pooja says playfully. She turns and smiles secretively at them, as if inviting them to share in on her secret. “Hello, Uncle Ani,” she says. “Long time no see.”

Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka share a bewildered look.

“Hello,” Anakin says automatically. “Uh. Pooja? Naberrie?”

“Any relation to Padmé Naberrie?” Obi-Wan asks.

“Of course,” the other sister says. “We’re her nieces.”

“Uncle?” Leia demands.

“How do you know who he is?” Ahsoka asks.

“Do I know you?” Luke asks.

Pooja holds up one hand to stop the flow of questions. “Not here,” she says. “Somewhere private.”

 

-oOoOo-

 

The Ekkreth lands in the Varykino countryside with seven passengers. Although the grassy landscape isn’t particularly hilly, landing a starfighter on any surface not made for it would be a struggle for most pilots. Luckily, Anakin and Ahsoka have a lot of experience in field landings, even if Obi-Wan says they could use a lot more of that ‘experience.’

“I thought you were dead,” Pooja says as they exit. “Nobody ever talked about it, but everybody thought Anakin Skywalker was dead.”

Anakin shrugs uncomfortably. “I was, in a way. Dead.”

“Let’s just say he was unavailable for the last eight years,” Obi-Wan says.

Pooja gives him a side glance but doesn’t ask, even though she clearly wants to. “Okay,” she says simply, and Anakin is grateful, because he doesn’t want to lie, but he isn’t willing to tell the truth.

The other sister–Ryoo–swings the picnic basket in her right hand. Obi-Wan remembers a time when conversations like this would be tense, fraught with suspicions and worry. And here they are, off to have a picnic in the Naboo countryside. He approves of the change.

“I have to get back to work tomorrow,” Pooja says, making a face. “After…well, the Emperor, I decided to be a little more productive.”

“No more Imperial Welcoming and Hospitality Committee,” Ryoo adds, with a smirk.

“What were you doing in Theed?” Obi-Wan asks, curiously.

The two sisters exchange a glance. “It’s…” Ryoo says, “it’s Aunt Padmé’s birthday today. We thought maybe that’s why you were here.”

“It is,” Ahsoka answers.

“Were you the one who left the flowers on her grave?” Anakin asks suddenly. “Purple sword irises?”

The two sisters stop abruptly. “Yeah,” Pooja says. “I thought it was a nice touch.”

“Excuse you, it was my idea,” Ryoo says. “Also, it’s your turn to carry the picnic basket.”

“I can carry it,” Obi-Wan offers, and both sisters give him a withering glare. Pooja grabs the basket from Ryoo.

“We’re almost there, anyway,” she says, and there it is, right ahead of them.

Luke and Leia sprint ahead of the rest of them. Obi-Wan is too mature to run, the sisters have seen this view a thousand times, and Pooja has the picnic basket anyway. Ahsoka chases them all the way to the edge and then her hand shoots out to catch Luke from stumbling. A little twinge in the Force lets Obi-Wan know that it was Force-assisted. The twins are getting faster everyday. He rubs his beard; he hasn’t gotten a gray hair yet but it can’t be a long way off. Then he looks to his left and sees Anakin’s hand out, even though he’s meters away, and realizes who exactly was using the Force.

He’s such a dad, Ahsoka thinks fondly.

Oi, you, Anakin says, I don’t know what you’re telling Obi-Wan but I don’t like it. He surreptitiously puts his hand back in his pocket.

“It’s beautiful,” Luke says, leaning over the edge.

The rolling grassy hills stretch for miles with no end in sight, but the two Naberrie sisters led them right here, to the very place where the fields stop. A dirt cliff drops ten meters down below them, sloping in a half circle about fifty meters across, losing height until it’s a little grassy roll in the fields.

Stretching out beneath them is a glassy blue lake, still like a single drop of water.

“I’ve never seen so much water before,” Luke says. He and Leia settle down on the cliff’s edge, legs dangling over the water.

“Welcome to Lake Varykino,” Pooja says proudly. “What d’you think, little cousins?”

For a moment, Luke and Leia don’t realize they’re being spoken to, and Pooja’s heart aches for a different world in which they could have grown up as cousins, and they wouldn’t need to look around, like to confirm that Pooja and Ryoo were in fact there, to know that. “It’s too warm for most people to be out,” she says instead. “We’ve got it all to ourselves.”

Luke scoffs. “Warm? It’s not hot at all. It’s all…” he flaps his arms around, searching for words. “Moist.”

“Compared to Tatooine,” Leia says. She grins. “I like it.”

“Right,” Pooja says, putting down the picnic basket. “Time for a little Naberrie family tradition.” She grins at Ryoo. “Care to demonstrate?”

“Gladly,” her sister says, with a matching grin. She takes three large steps back and then sprints for the edge. She rushes past Luke and Leia, leaps off, and sails through the air like a drunken banshee, whooping and hollering the whole way down. They all hear a quiet splash, and then Ryoo is gone.

Luke leans anxiously over the edge. “Is she okay?”

“Give her time,” Pooja says, and at that exact moment Ryoo resurfaces.

“It’s warm today!” Ryoo shouts up, her tiny voice barely carrying. She’s a tiny little dot, bobbing up and down on the lakewater that is not longer perfectly still. They can see her little arms move and she swims out of the way.

“But,” Leia splutters, “she isn’t wearing a–bathing suit!”

Pooja rolls her eyes. “Bathing suits are for royalty, my dear,” she says, unaware that Leia is exactly that.

Leia goes still. “Oh,” she says quietly, and Pooja turns, wondering if she said something wrong, but then Leia clambers to her feet and takes three large steps back. And then an extra one. Just to be sure. She takes off running, flies off the edge, and screams the whole way down.

Anakin is suddenly at the cliff edge. “Is she alright?” He asks anxiously. “Is she hurt?”

They watch the little figure of Ryoo disappear beneath the surface and reappear a moment later with another head.

“That was amazing!” Leia hollers up. Her dress is soaking wet and she feels like a waterlogged walrus, but she already wants to do it again. “I wanna do that again!”

“You haven’t seen what you can do with the Force!” Ahsoka hollers back. She ditches her lightsabers, takes two large steps, and hurls herself towards the edge. And she flies, soaring way past where Leia and Ryoo splashed. “GERONIMOOOO!” Ahsoka shrieks, and cannonballs into the lake. One foot waves follow her dramatic entrance. Leia’s little shrieks of surprise and delight echo upwards.

“We’re being shown up!” Pooja calls, delightedly, to Ryoo. “By an outsider!”

“Guess you gotta do better!” Ryoo calls up. She and Leia are swimming in little circles to their left, and Ahsoka is making her way towards them.

“She can do better,” Anakin says, almost like bragging except he’s not, obviously. “She hasn’t been practicing.” He elbows Obi-Wan, grinning. “You can do better, right old man.”

“I’m afraid I haven’t been practicing either,” Obi-Wan says dryly. “Wait, old man?”

Anakin blinks at him innocently. “What?”

“Oh, I’ll show you,” he says, and the Force surges. Obi-Wan’s jump catapults him at least five meters further out than Ahsoka. He doesn’t make a sound, but it’s still rather impressive.

Anakin picks up Obi-Wan’s abandoned lightsaber. “Show off,” he mutters.

Pooja sighs. “It seems we’ve been well and truly trounced,” she says, a little mournfully. She takes a deep breath, steps off the edge, and pinches her nose. The Senator plunges into the lake below straight as an arrow.

“Boring!” Anakin calls down, but Pooja just shrugs back up at him. All five are now treading water off to the left. “Come on, Luke, your turn. Luke?”

Luke is hugging his knees on the cliff’s edge. “I don’t know how to swim,” he mutters.

“And there’s your family, waiting to teach you,” Anakin says, motioning to the raggedy bunch below. “They’ll never let you sink.”

“Yeah, but–” Luke looks down. “It’s so far,” he mumbles. His feet creep towards the edge and his palms start to sweat again.

“Hey,” Anakin says, crouching down next to him. “It’s just a family tradition. You don’t have to jump if you don’t want to. We can wait up here–”

“No, I want to,” Luke interrupts. “It’s just–” his voice goes quiet again. “I’m scared.”

“I was too,” Anakin says, and Luke looks at him skeptically. “No, really. First time off Tatooine, never seen a body of water bigger than a puddle, and that disappeared in a few seconds.”

Luke takes a deep breath and looks down again. “But I can’t do the Force thing,” he says.

“You don’t need to,” Anakin replies. “Leia didn’t. Your cousins didn’t.”

“But–” Luke licks his lips and tries again. “But what if I fall?”

“‘What if I fall?’” Anakin repeats, and there’s a slight smile on his face, a secretive smile of things long past. Luke nods, hesitantly. The truth is, Anakin can’t stop him from falling. In another universe, when Luke screams and lets go, Darth Vader is powerless to stop him, for he burns too brightly and falls too fast, just like Anakin Skywalker once had.

Because the Skywalkers have always been meant for more, even Shmi Skywalker, who was born and died a slave, these people who walk the paths of the sky where others cannot reach. The planets change in their wake, the fate of the galaxy in their hands. They were always meant for something…more.

And right now, in this universe, in this moment? The stars colliding could not stop Luke Skywalker from flying.

“‘What if I fall?’” Anakin repeats again. “There is freedom waiting for you on the breezes of the sky, and you ask, ‘what if I fall?’ Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”