Disclaimer: Star Wars is obviously not ours. Nor, sadly, is Sherlock Holmes. We just own what we do with them.
The Slave and the Spacer
"Are you an angel?"
The scenes are always the same. The golden-haired woman behind the counter of the parts shop, the Rodian shopkeeper taking inventory, the down-on-his luck spacer coming in for supplies.
The spacer always straightens up a little at the sight of the young woman, and smiles. And when the Rodian goes into the backroom to find the parts the spacer needs, the man turns his full attention to the woman. "Mind if I ask what a pretty girl like you is doing in a dump like this?"
The woman rolls her grey eyes. "Only if I can ask what a Core-Worlder is doing all the way out here, and as a spacer. If I had to guess, I'd say… ran away from home? Caught a job on the first freighter that would have you? And since you're shopping for parts here that aren't for a ship, reasonable assumption would be that you got stuck on this planet somehow and now you're caught up in day-to-day living."
The man stares at her. "How… how did you…"
She grins impishly. "It's called 'observing' and 'deducing'. You'd be amazed at what you can learn about a being just from their accent."
"You got all that from my accent?!"
Her grin takes a devilish quality, and she turns away to rearrange merchandise on the shelves behind her.
"Okay, well, you answered your own question… but you didn't answer mine."
The woman turns back to him slowly, her grin gone. "I don't exactly work here by choice."
Of course. This is Tatooine. Thousands of beings don't work by choice. "Oh, stang, I'm sorry. That… stupid. Sorry."
She's quiet, but her grey eyes are strangely fierce. "Are you going to stop talking to me?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Most offworlders get awkward when they realize they're talking with a slave. The closer to Coruscant, especially, the more awkward they get."
The man shakes his head. "Well, I hope I'm not that shallow. Were you… were you…"
"Was I born one? Yeah."
She sighs, and starts to polish the counter. "It's not your fault."
"Can your freedom be bought? That happens, right?"
She nods. "Yeah, sometimes." She rolls her eyes again. "Of course, somebody likes having 'free help,' so he'd probably charge far more than I'm worth."
"I think he could charge a million credits and still underestimate your value," the man says softly.
The grey eyes widen. Offworlders generally don't talk like this. Not about slaves. Not to slaves. Slaves make them uncomfortable. Slaves are an institution of the Outer Rim that freeborn beings from the Republic don't know how to handle.
But this man, this Core-Worlder who ran away from home to be a spacer… this man is different.
"What's your name?" she asks.
"Mycroft. Mycroft Holmes."
"Mycroft, I'm Cecelle Vernay. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine."
He frequents the shop after that. They talk, for hours, and the Rodian allows it because Mycroft always buys some scrap of junk or other to justify the visits.
Mycroft noticed Cecelle's beauty first, but it's her mind and her spirit that he quickly falls in love with. She's brilliant, and well-educated for a slave, allowed HoloNet access which she uses to teach herself more about the galaxy beyond her rock of a planet. Cecelle is like the desert she was born to: strong and solid and sometimes fierce, with a heart as big as the unbroken sky.
Cecelle is intrigued, at first, with this paradox of a Core-Worlder: a man born into a high family, with more money than she could ever dream of having, who ran away because sometimes, freeborn beings are bound in chains, too. After that first meeting, Mycroft never acts awkwardly again about Cecelle's status—he treats it as an unpleasant fact of her existence that doesn't diminish her value as a person.
He also might have the most charmingly crooked smile she's ever seen, but she tries not to think about that.
They start to spend time together during Cecelle's free hours. Mycroft is careful never to take her outside the city limits of Mos Espa, aware that her slave transmitter is set for in-town only. When a circus pitches its tents on the outskirts, he asks her master, Prutaa, if he'll alter the settings to allow her to go. Prutaa grudgingly agrees, and Cecelle visits her first circus. It's dazzling fun, the acrobats and the trained animals and the snacks, but nothing can beat the knowledge that a freeborn is willing to spend so much time with her, even on a visit to the circus.
The next time they meet after her workload is finished, she takes him to meet her family.
"Slaves are separated from their parents and siblings all the time," she tells him on the way. "Most of us never even meet our fathers—I never did. He was sold to someone offworld, that's all Mom ever knew. She and I were lucky, though: Grandmother lives in Mos Espa, Mom was never taken away from here, and I was never taken away from here. And then there's our spirit family—friends who are so close to us that they are family by choice if not by blood."
"Is it a big family?" Mycroft asks nervously.
Cecelle just gives him that devilish grin.
As it turns out, it is a big family. Cecelle has two spirit brothers and three spirit sisters; her mother has four spirit brothers and two spirit sisters; her grandmother has four spirit sisters and a man she calls her husband and Cecelle calls "grandfather." Grandfather explains that slaves aren't allowed to marry, so such unions are kept secret, made "official" by nothing more than a brief exchange of vows in private and then an announcement to the grandmothers of the slave community.
They speak together in a language that sounds roughly like Huttese, but Mycroft can't make it out at all. He asks Cecelle later about it. "Anything kept secret from the masters is something they can't take away from us," she says, her eyebrows knotted together, her tone ever so slightly bitter. "The slaves of Tatooine have a language that we made up, and only we know it. The masters don't even know it exists. The language is our heritage and our only freedom."
"What do you use it for?"
"Some… ceremonies…" Cecelle hesitates. She wants to tell Mycroft, but can she trust him that far? No, this is Mycroft, he would never… She sighs, torn.
"I'm sorry," she murmurs. "I can't."
He looks away. "Oh." He sounds so disappointed, and she almost gives in. But she doesn't, and they walk the rest of the way to her apartment in silence.
Eventually, she decides to trust him. After all, freeborn operatives are extremely important in this secret, able to do things and go places that slaves can't. "We're working towards a slave revolution," Cecelle whispers.
His eyes go round. "Can you… can you do that?"
"Not yet. There's a lot of things to be taken care of first. But someday. If not in my lifetime, then… maybe the next generation's."
"I hope it's in your lifetime."
She smiles sadly. "Me, too."
They walk silence for a minute, and then he clears his throat. "Ah, Cecelle?"
"What… what would you do if I bought your freedom?"
She's been expecting this for weeks now, but it still stops her short, because now it's a reality, and though she knows he's entirely sincere about the offer, she also knows that there's another, unspoken question there. So she recovers and maintains a straight face as she says, "Well, I suppose I'd set up my own shop as one of our secret bases of operation."
He nods, not meeting her eyes. "Right. Of course. All right, then, I should go talk to Prutaa—"
"And, of course," she continues, just barely holding back a smile, "I would marry you."
It's Mycroft's turn to stop short, and he stares at her, mouth working soundlessly, eyes as round as the suns. "Y-you would?"
She grins and laughs. "Of course, I would, Mycroft." She holds his gaze, and his hands, and the words that she says next are the most sacred words a slave can give to anyone. "I love you."
He smiles his lopsided smile. "I love you." He presses his forehead lightly to hers, and they kiss.
Prutaa does demand far more than what Cecelle knows would be market price for her, but Mycroft doesn't complain, and Cecelle can't find it in her to be angry with the old alien. Prutaa was a decent master, as far as they go, and Cecelle knows that she was very lucky to be so pretty and yet be bought by a being who wanted her only for her hands and not her body. Her transmitter is deactivated, and she and Mycroft go a little ways outside town as Tatoo I and Tatoo II are sinking into the horizon, and there they promise to love and take care of each other to the end of their days.
Ten months later, Cecelle gives birth to a baby boy, and they call him 'Sherlock'. In the slave-tongue, it means 'golden one'.
Mycroft continues to run the business he's been running for a while, buying old speeders and fixing them up until they're as good as new or better, and then selling them at a profit. The building he rents, however, has two floors, and they live on the second and Cecelle runs a shop on the first, and Mycroft does his work outside beneath an awning. Cecelle's shop is a general store and a base for the slaves, as she'd wanted, and she ends up giving away a little more of the merchandise than is profitable, but Mycroft won't stand in her way. The work she's doing is important, and he helps out however he can.
Sherlock soon proves to be at least as smart as his mother, speaking intelligibly at a very young age and getting into trouble often (which, his grandmother says, is what his mom did when she was a toddler). He's doted upon by his mother's family, the first freeborn child their family has had in five generations. His grandmother declares that he's a special child, and as he grows older, he certainly seems to be.
He learns at an almost frighteningly fast pace, always hungry for more knowledge. By the time he's six, he's fluent in Basic and in the language of his people. He turns out to have Cecelle's gift for observation and deduction, and it's difficult to keep secrets around him. But there's more still to him: his reflexes are inhumanly fast, and he has an uncanny knack for finding lost objects, and sometimes, Cecelle would swear that he knows what's going to happen before it does.
"Maybe he can use the Force," Mycroft suggests one night. "If he'd been born in the Republic, we'd know for sure—they test for that sort of thing."
Cecelle shakes her head. "Wouldn't the Jedi take him then?"
"Not if we said 'no.' Everyone has the right to say no, love."
Cecelle lightly strokes the dark hair of her sleeping son. "'The right to say no'... even after seven years, that's a wonder to me."
Mycroft kisses her cheek. "Maybe that's something none of us should ever take for granted."
His earliest memory is of Mom's voice, deep and rich, like the sky at sunset. He doesn't quite remember what she's saying, but it might be what she tells him from time to time when he's older.
"Always remember, Sherlock: you are made up of the fire of the suns, the vastness of the sky, the solidness of the bedrock. You were born free, and some day you will leave this world. But no matter where you go, or what you do, you must never forget where you came from, and who you are. The moment you do, you will not be free."
"I won't forget," he always replies. "I promise."
Mom teaches him more than just the language of the slaves: she teaches him their songs and stories, too. She's telling him his favorite, the one about the taming of a krayt dragon, when Dad bursts into the shop. "Cecelle, Sherlock, we need to get out of here—Gepthen's sent his hitmen this time and they're coming our way!"
Gepthen is a Weequay Mom and Dad have borrowed money from, from time to time, and they haven't been able to pay him back lately.
Mom surges to her feet and grabs Sherlock's hand. "All right, get the blaster and let's go."
The durasteel door suddenly pings with blaster bolts hitting it, and Sherlock can't help a cry of surprise and fear. Mom herds him into the back room, and Dad goes for the blaster.
Then front door is blown open and there's blasterfire and a cry of pain from Dad and Mom gasps out Dad's name, and they're opening the backdoor and there's more blasterfire and suddenly Mom jerks forward with a cry.
Sherlock doesn't need to look to know. "MOM!"
"Run, Sherlock!" she gasps out, eyes filling with tears. "I love you!"
He runs, and he runs, and he doesn't stop until he can't see anymore, because the tears are blinding him and they're coming too quickly for him to wipe away now. He staggers back against a wall and curls up and cries until darkness overtakes him...
He bolts upright with a gasp, chest heaving, eyes wet. Something stirs beside him in the bed, and a calloused, strong hand takes hold of his. "Sherlock? What's wrong?"
He takes a deep, shaky breath and whispers back, "Nothing, Grandmother." He lies back down, hoping she can't feel him tremble. "Just a dream."
Ria: Dear God, what have I done? =P To think this series started out as just a one-shot for a Christmas challenge... Writing is literally like planting seeds you bought off a stranger on the way to market – no telling what's gonna come up, petunias or a beanstalk. *dons climbing shoes*
Sky: Yeah, the concept of this 'verse has really captured my imagination and not let go, so, hello, new crossover series! And, honestly, I amso excited about this story! (And sorry for what happens to Sherlock and his family in this first installment. Oh gosh...)
If you're new to following us, we have a joint tumblr, the address for which you can find on our profile. I've already been throwing up art on my own blog for this series, and I'll be reblogging it to our tumblr soon. So stay tuned for that and more installments of this story!