The Journey Home
“I believe I’ve secured transport, but we’ll have to be quick about – “
Obi-Wan stops abruptly, watching as Anakin and Leia self-consciously pull
away from each other.
With grace and dignity, Leia straightens her gown and brushes absently at
the tears wetting her cheeks. She squares her shoulders and meets Obi-Wan’s
gaze unflinchingly. “Will we be able to make it all the way to Naboo
“Yes, your highness,” Obi-Wan replies. “Providing everything goes according
to plan, we will take a direct route to the Chommell sector.
But I’m afraid quarters will be quite cramped and decidedly lacking in any
Taking Obi-Wan’s hint, Leia nods. “There was a public ‘fresher around
the corner. I won’t be long.”
Anakin trails her to the end of the alley, watching until the door to the
public ‘fresher hisses shut. Obi-Wan, having followed, raises an eyebrow
at his former apprentice. Carefully, he says, “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“She’s my daughter,” Anakin says plainly, meeting Obi-Wan’s gaze, quashing
any sordid speculation that may have been brewing in his mentor’s mind.
“She has a twin brother, Luke. I haven’t seen them since they were
Obi-Wan blinks at Anakin, clearly stunned. “I …” he trails off and
then seems to collect his thoughts. “I heard rumors Senator Organa
was their father. I knew you and Padmé were close, but I never
“I know,” Anakin says, “and I thank you for that. I never had to deny
my marriage to Padmé or my children’s paternity and for that small
gift I am truly grateful.”
Obi-Wan’s expression softens and he reaches out, placing a gentle hand on
Anakin’s shoulder. “You have been so alone, old friend. More
than I ever feared. I’m so sorry.”
Anakin laughs, mostly because if he doesn’t he isn’t certain what will happen.
He is filled with a chaotic mess of emotions. For someone who has lived
such a solitary, steady existence for so long, it is deeply unsettling.
He’s going insane. Is this what they wanted? Is this how he’s
supposed to learn? Maybe they don’t want him to learn a damn thing.
Maybe they just want to put him out of their misery.
He throws the clump of mud and grass as hard as he can, but feels no satisfaction
as it splatters wetly against a nearby tree trunk. The engines are
filled with this crap. Even with his mechanical skills, he’s not a
miracle worker. He’s stranded on this damn stinking swamp planet and
he’s about to lose his mind.
He drops to his knees in the muck and falls forward onto his hands, roaring
through bared teeth. Behind him, he hears metal grind and groan as
his Delta-7 starfighter bears the wrath of his fury through the Force.
He finally snaps out of it. He doesn’t know exactly how much time has
passed. The murky sky seems murkier. Evening is approaching.
He’s completely sodden, covered from head to toe in mud and grime, shivering
involuntarily from the cold.
He stares at his starfighter. If it had problems before, it’s certainly
no better off now. The canopy is cracked. From the smell, he
suspects a variety of the necessary fluids are currently seeping into the
swamp. He’s well and truly stranded. It will probably be half
a standard year before someone comes to check on him.
He buries his head in his hands, mindless of the mud. In three days
Luke and Leia will celebrate their first birthday. His rash plans to
go to Naboo are finished. He lifts his head and stares sullenly at
the damaged fighter. His body literally aches with the pain of missing
his wife and children. He has holos of all of them. He knows
Luke and Leia have changed, grown. And even though it’s only been a
few months since he last saw his wife, he already finds it is difficult to
remember the exact shade of her hair, the exact smell of her skin.
But this is why he’s here, isn’t it? For them?
Again, he stares at the fighter, at the one thing that could take him to
them. In his rage, he damaged it even further. He knows many
Jedi who couldn’t have used the Force in such a way. But that doesn’t
make him better or stronger. How many times did Obi-Wan tell him that
it isn’t mastery of the Force for which a Jedi strives, but mastery of himself.
He has a long way to go.
Anakin whistles through his teeth when he sees the ship and he gives Obi-Wan
a sidelong glance. “Why does the captain owe you a favor?” he asks
pointedly. The ship is older, but well maintained and without having
to ask, Anakin knows the captain’s main source of income is smuggling.
“There was a little scuffle in a cantina a few years ago. The details
aren’t important,” Obi-Wan says, clearly hoping to avoid explaining this
The captain, a strikingly attractive human woman turns away from the repairs
she is directing. Her glossy black hair is pulled back in a severe
plait that extends almost to her waist. Anakin estimates she is probably
in her mid-forties, but she could pass for much younger. Like any good
smuggler, she seems reserved, wary and she studies the trio closely.
“What’s with the kid?”
Anakin takes a protective step in front of Leia.
“She is of no concern,” Obi-Wan replies.
The captain shoots Obi-Wan a questioning glance and he motions for her to
let the subject drop. She doesn’t appear happy with the situation,
but she nods. “We leave within the hour.”
Anakin stares at the holos. Luke and Leia are five years old, smiling
brightly, surrounded by friends and family. Their mother’s family,
Even with the help of the images, Anakin’s imagination cannot fully render
his children at this age. To him they are forever the cooing babies
he held close.
He moves the holos aside and reaches for the newest set which was recently
delivered along with enough supplies to get him through the rainy season.
There are images of the twins' eighth birthday party. Anakin's gaze
lingers on Padmé. She is happy, smiling brightly at her children.
But he can see the strain on her features. The holos and accompanying
letter are already months old, relayed by Master Yoda. As far as he
knows, Padmé still has no idea of his whereabouts. She sends
the small care package to him in care of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
It is a ritual she has maintained since that dark day he left his wife and
children on Naboo. Without fail, every year she sends him pictures
of the twins and a letter. Sometimes there are childish works of art
or school marks. With every year that passes, her letters become slightly
more withdrawn. This time, her letter focuses solely on the children,
giving him no details of her life or feelings.
He hangs his head sadly. He doesn't blame Padmé. She is
a vibrant, beautiful woman and she might as well be pining for a dead man.
He regrets that he was not strong enough to truly let her go when they parted
ways. She doesn’t deserve to be chained to the memory of him, hoping
for a day that may never come.
Rising to his feet, Anakin paces the few yards to the edge of the swamp.
He came here hoping to learn mastery of himself, of the Force. Hoping
to become the Jedi the Council prophesized. Hoping to become the man
his family so desperately needs him to be. But all the hoping has been
futile. Nearly eight years on this forsaken rock and he feels the only
lesson he has learned is defeat. Absolute defeat. He took himself
apart piece by piece, only to discover there was nothing left to rebuild.
He glances back at the pile of supplies that were delivered, the light blue
holocron catching his eye. It was unexpected. The Council has
a mission for him.
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