It's not a time of peace quite yet after the Battle of Endor, and that's more evident as Luke turns the corner inside the passage-way. His ears locate noises resembling full-forced screaming.
Han doesn't seem to notice him, furiously tearing out of another room in the opposite direction. Luke takes a mental note of the hot, blotchy-red coloring and the tears on Han's face. It's not often anyone got to witness such a clear moment of vulnerability out of the ex-smuggler.
Luke debates going after him — after all, Han's one of his best friends. He then peers wordlessly into the open-air, briefing room. Leia sits by herself on the low-level, opalescent stairs, her expression appearing as infuriated and reddened as Han's, steeled up with lines on her brow. Luke has already made his decision and enters, his dark-dyed Jedi robes billowing around him.
"Leia," he says aloud, not in a question or accusation, but just for her to hear him approach. His twin sister glances up, the anger smoothing from existence in favor of her quiet, familiar half-smile.
She scoots herself down, making room for Luke to sit on one of the steps nearby. Leia's hands tremble mid-air. She lowers her face from view and carefully dabs away the moisture under her eyes.
"How much of that did you hear?"
"Only raised voices. I couldn't hear anything else," Luke admits. He brushes his hands over his overtunic and waits for her to meet their eyes solemnly. "… Is everything alright?"
Leia's displeasure comes off as tiny, sharp-feeling ripples between them, melding through the Force. But, he's also her brother and her only family — so Leia humors him, understanding this is Luke's straightforward way of trying to get the root of the problem.
"Matters have already have been… complicated," she explains in a low voice, feeling Luke's stare on her. "No one has made time to settle their affairs. Or think of possible futures for themselves outside of what we do. It's been less than a year and we still have to take back most of the Core planets…"
Luke interrupts, telling her softly, "You're pregnant."
Her brown eyes go very wide.
"Luke, how did you know that?" she asks breathy, awed.
He tips his head to the side, Luke's features going from tightening with concern to loosening with a dimpling smirk. "Well… I guess you could say I used my inTWINition," he announces.
Luke chuckles at his own gag, holding onto her knee as Leia groans out and teasingly shoves Luke's cheek away with her palm.
"No, tell me seriously," she insists. "How would you know that? I'm only a few weeks."
"I can… feel a life, beside yours, with you. Faint, but it's there all the same." Luke doesn't know how else to describe it to her. She's Force-sensitive as well, but has not been training as long as him. It's complicated indeed. "That's what you and Han were fighting about?"
Leia nods, the previous sadness gathering back into her. He feels it manifesting, weighing down. Luke squeezes her knee, combating it with his physical warmth.
"He's unsure about this. Scared, I think," she explains. "Han doesn't believe he'll make a good father."
"That doesn't make it right to take it out on you."
"I took it out on him, too." Leia gives a dry, exasperated laugh. "I… I know what I want. I want to keep it."
Luke takes Leia's hands into his, knotting their fingers together. "I'm here for you no matter the decision, Leia," he whispers. Leia's fingers squeeze back against him, and their smiles grow bigger. "You know… chances are he'll gonna make a exceptional Jedi one day," Luke adds helpfully, glancing at her midsection.
"Stop doing that!"
He winces a little, taking another hit from Leia, this time on the collarbone. "Ow! Leia, I'm kidding." Luke watches her roll her eyes. "There's no guarantee to tell for certain if the baby will be a boy or a girl — or neither. Gender happens to be very fluid. It can't be defined by the Force."
One of Leia's hands drifts to her belly, as if it's an unconscious thought, pressing down.
"I'll love them no matter what," she says in a bewildering grimness. Having it accompanied by the unexplained, foreboding sensation creeping down Luke's own belly, he's unsure of what to say.
It would be years before Luke ever understood why.
Shrieks and moans reverberating off the craggy hills. Flashes of light erupting against a starless pit of darkness. A thickening odor of newly melted flesh and gore, mingled with the harshness of soot and smoke.
Luke gasps awake, shuddering and lying on his back. He nearly yells out, mouth hanging open.
It's a dream, not reality — it's only another dream to torment him, to whisper fiercely and dismally inside him. Regaining control of himself, Luke pushes himself upright and tosses away his blanket. He runs his hands slowly over his flushed, perspiring face, trying to catch his breath.
He feels the soothing, familiar weight of a transparent, amber Force crystal dangling against his naked chest.
It was a gift from Leia, long ago. She had been the one to discover the precious object during a recon mission. Ever since, it's been his possession through nights wrecked with anxiety and troubling regards, draining him of the negative energy and helping him feel stronger, surer.
But, it's not working.
Luke's fingers twine around the cord, grasping down until his knuckles whiten.
The temple seems hushed, even within his closed-off quarters. It's a room with no transparisteel windows, and he doesn't need them. Vrogas Vas has bleak enough conditions, though the atmosphere is breathable to everyone. The planet has no native inhabitants, but it's located in a sector and a region of the universe unknown to many.
It's perfectly secreted for training the new generation of Jedi. Luke built his academy on the foundations of the older Jedi temple destroyed along the time of Galactic Civil War.
Vrogas Vas' skies were often bright with daylight, a gassy green surrounding its desert-like conditions. The temperature normally hot and acrid except for a season change where it turned unbearably cold. When the daylight seeps away, the skies turn a mystical indigo color fogged with oranges and reds.
It's an undeniably beautiful sight, and Luke has heard the exclamation over and over from his students.
He doesn't bother pulling on a tunic, flipping on the holovid near his bedside. Once it's working, Luke's able to send out a miniature hologram — routing it straight to Hosnian Prime, in the heart of the New Republic. The transceiver isn't absolutely clear, but he can see Han through the fragmented blue light.
Han appears sleepy and confused, his dark hair sticking up in all directions. He's wearing his pajamas.
"Luke?… Everything alright?"
"Mhn…" He doesn't know how to answer honestly. Luke remains hunched over the edge of his cot, ducking his head and cradling his face into both of his hands. "I… I don't know why I'm calling. M'sorry," he mumbles.
"It's good to hear your voice. Been missing you, kid."
The heartfelt comment brings a tiny, embarrassed smile to Luke's mouth. A rush of pleasant warmth down his entire body. "I miss you, too," Luke whispers, finally looking up. "And, I miss Leia. It's been a while."
"Ya gonna tell me what's really going on?"
Luke takes a deep breath, furrowing his eyebrows. "Um… I think I was having a nightmare," he says. 'Dream' is too forgiving of a word now that Luke considers it. "I'm not sure yet what to make of it."
"What did we say about the nightmares?"
"Was it… sleep it off?" Luke replies with an amused laugh, dragging a fingertip over an eyelid.
Han answers him with his own laugh, the blue, grainy hologram crackling before reforming. "More like drink it off, but hey — that's close enough. How's everybody doing?"
"Everyone's fine. Ben's a little quiet — but no more than usual." Luke reflects on Han and Leia's teenage son often, how he had been so unwilling to participate with others. And then, it's like something changed. Ben's much more confident in himself. Dangerously competitive and taunts the other Jedi students. Luke doesn't feel like giving Han the news about how Ben maliciously injured someone.
He will. He has to. But… not now.
Luke's belly clenches up, hard enough to make him swallow against the bile raising. "I didn't wake you and Leia, did I?" he asks, exhaling loudly, trying to distract himself from the heaviness creeping up on him.
"She, uh… funny enough, Leia had a nightmare, too. I was just getting her some water."
"… Did she say anything about it?" Luke's voice comes out weak and faraway.
The miniaturized holo shrugs.
"Said she didn't wanna talk — but whatever it was, it scared her right awake from a deep sleep, y'know," Han says offhandedly, narrowing his eyes as the other man faces away from him. "Hey, what's going on? Is there someone else there?" When Luke doesn't answer, and continues staring over his shoulder at the opened, darkened doorway, Han asks with a little more concern, "Kid?… You there?"
"I need to go," Luke announces, his features vacant as he gets off his cot.
The holovid remains on, crackling and flickering when Han shouts for him. The sound dampens in the corridor.
He's numb, heavy, but terrified so suddenly by the hush and lack of light. Luke feels the pull of inevitability guiding him, leading him to the dormitories. They were specifically designed to house everyone together, placing the foot of their cots up against the walls of a huge, round room.
Luke can't see a damn thing, and he fumbles to grab a unlit torch off its mount. The floor is slick against the bottoms of Luke's feet, wet and puddled with a tacking liquid.
As soon as there's flamelight, Luke approaches the closest Jedi. He gently touches her clothed shoulder, attempting to ruse her — and he should have felt it, even within the muddle of those foreboding and hollowing sensations. He should have sensed it within the Force.
Luke's fingers immediately lose their grip on the torch, as it clatters and rolls away.
She's dead, her colorless sleeping tunic drenched in blood. The right side of her face entirely gored and burned, eye stripped out.
A choked, gasping noise escapes him. He races to the other motionless, silent Jedi. Luke shakes them violently in their cots, unable to get out panicked words wanting to be screamed out. They're…
The chrono says it's late, and they don't waste any time. Han passes off Leia the second medkit, boarding off the Falcon with her and witnessing the raging, noisy fire towering atop the Jedi Temple.
"Oh, mercy be…"
It's an old, old saying that passes his lips.
Leia clutches tightly onto Han's arm, dragging him forward. "He's here," she says grimly. It takes very little time to track Luke down. He's not hiding. He stands in the corridor outside of the dormitories, everything about him a ghastly, sickly pale except the bright-piercing blue of his eyes.
And the blood.
He's covered with it, on the fabric of his slacks and his toes, his neck, and especially to his face.
Luke presses his red-tinged fingertips against his forehead, burrowing against his skin, trailing down. He repeats this, over and over, creating small, bloody paths to his temples until they seize Luke by the arms, sitting him down and gawking. Leia pull out a rebreather, looping the band to the back of Luke's head.
"Easy, take it easy," she whispers, unsure of who she is reassuring at this point or how effective it is. Leia holds the rebreather firmly against her brother's face as it pumps oxygen. "Luke…?"
When there's no answer, only his wide-eyed shock, Leia turns to Han, jaw gritting.
"See if there are any survivors. We need to know what's happened," she barks out. Before Han can move, or fully process the command, Leia tells him more softly, urgently. "… Find our son."
That resonates first, and Han nods to her, frowning.
By the time, he's vanished into the dormitories, Leia unpacks the medkit, scanning Luke for injuries and cleaning off the blood from his warm, limp hands.
"Luke, please say something to me," she whispers again, combing her fingers into Luke's grey-streaked hair. Leia tries using their connection through the Force, as unpracticed as she is, and is surprised to feel a physical block. Is he blocking her?
"Everyone's dead," Han says, returning to their side. He grimaces. "I can't find Ben. He's not in there."
Leia stares outright up at him, lips twisting.
"What do you mean he's NOT in there? Where else would he be?!" she repeats, loudly. Before an argument ensues, Luke breathes out "gone" and Leia abandons the corridor, screaming out for Ben.
Han takes her place, checking Luke over.
"Damn it," he mutters, pulling off the rebreather as Luke coughs hoarsely into it. Han scrubs Luke's cheek with one of the baca-wipes, and then removing the blood marks off Luke's forehead and temples. "There you go, got you cleaned up…"
"It's gonna be okay, Luke. We're right here," Han says, trying to shush him.
"He's gone," Luke croaks out, so, so faintly that's it's difficult to hear him from the start. "I can't feel him. Can't feel anyone… they're all gone—"
"—DON'T say that!" Han's fear-fueled anger breaks apart, coming out in his growling voice. He feels regret soon enough. Luke's people, his students have just been massacred, and Luke's eyes are swollen and lost on him. "Please don't say that, I'm sorry," Han murmurs, cupping Luke's face. "I'm sorry."
When Han embraces him, pressing a kiss against the top of his head, Luke goes unconscious. Han feels him fall against him and adjusts their weight, lifting the other man comfortably into his arms.
Daylight simmers through the atmosphere, paling everything to gassy green.
They thought perhaps Ben had been captured, after being unable to recover his body. Perhaps… he retreated into the further reaches of the desert-lands. Or… during his capture, he bargained for his release.
It becomes clear none of that is true. Ben passed off the coordinates of the Jedi Academy to Snoke, who ordered a raid on Vrogas Vas to destroy the new Jedi. Ben left with them willingly, turning his back to the people who loved him and finally began his journey into the Dark side.
They left one Jedi alive.
It's a question that never satisfies him, that is renewed over and over in Luke's mind.
Why spare me?
"Because they needed you to find what they left behind," Leia says one day, when they are greyer and more weary than ever. She does her best to not filtering an ounce of this knowledge. "Ben needed to be you."
It's been years and years, and Luke no longer finds himself in exhile. He's back on the Millennium Falcon of places, with a young woman he is trusting — like she's a part of him, as Leia is.
Perhaps it's foolish, after making so many mistakes. After trusting the wrong people.
"What is it?" Rey asks. Her brown eyes on the transparent, amber Force crystal dangling from Luke's hand.
Her fingertips reach for it curiously, drawn to its lure as anyone Force-sensitive would be. He half-smiles, his wrinkles deepening. "It used to be a good-luck charm. I think…" Luke places its cord and the precious object into Rey's hand, closing her fingers around it. "For you, it will be once more."
Rey smiles back at him, wonderstruck. There's so much light within her, and Luke trusts that much.
Up in the cockpit, Han pats Chewbacca's shoulder and grumbles about being sore.
He maneuvers around the pair, as Rey heads eagerly towards the now empty co-pilot chair. As soon as they're alone, Han and Luke gaze over each other, solemnly. Han rolls his eyes as the other man chuckles and hugs his arms around Han's waist, and he kisses Luke's face.
"Your sister is gonna kill ya for disappearing like that, kid," he points out.
Luke replies, smugly, "And you won't?"
"Well, I'd have done it by now." Han winks and clucks his tongue at him, making his way to the back of the freighter. It brings out another breathy, lighthearted chuckle from Luke.
It's not a time of peace quite yet.
But Luke will see it happen — no matter what.
SW is not mine. Okay so this is half request and half me fulfilling a terrible and tragic AU running around in my brain. We know a few things about the last Jedi massacre, but I wanted to try a slightly different take on what happened. I didn't really label it this way, but this is basically HanLuke + HanLeia poly. It's canon to MEEEEE anyway. I hope you guys enjoyed this despite the crushing sadness, and any thoughts/comments are SUPER DUPER APPRECIATED! -hearts-