It was with a heavy heart that Claire Dearing attended the premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She had mixed feelings about the franchise, as not too long ago, she had lost her husband on an interdimensional quest in the very world she'd now be seeing through a silver screen. On the other hand, she had made a friend in Jar Jar Binks, though this relationship had been completely unanticipated.
In any case, she felt it was her cosmic duty to attend the screening, for both Owen and Jar Jar, and perhaps herself, in a way. This film would give her closure, she hoped, and if this were the case, perhaps she could find the strength to be more supportive of her newborn child. Try as she might, she couldn't stop herself from feeling doleful around him, because she incessantly lamented the fact that every significant stage of his growth would not be shared with his father.
Of course, Claire was forced to conceal this struggle. As Queen of the Universe, she was expected to govern her kingdom without giving in to emotional turmoil. That was how the last Queen descended into madness, after all. But that night, during the screening of the film, something did affect her emotionally. It happened when the Starkiller base was being prepared to destroy five planets simultaneously. There was a shot of a city, which Claire thought looked strikingly similar to Coruscant. When she realized that it was the target of the energy beam, something inside of her snapped. In a microsecond, it dawned on her that she had sentenced Jar Jar to death by leaving him on the planet, and the guilt of being powerless to save her husband was reignited. For this reason, she gathered up all of her Queenly magic and quite literally leapt through the screen. As soon as she passed the threshold, she appeared in Jar Jar's apartment. He was standing by the window, and barely had the time to react to her arrival before she grabbed him and broke through the glass. Pumping her wings desperately, she flew upwards, breaking the sound barrier along the way. When she exited the planet's atmosphere, a pink bubble formed around her. Weakened by her endeavor, she let it drift away from the metropolis that was now far from view. She plugged her ears, waiting for the explosion.
A few seconds passed.
Then a few seconds more.
A minute went by, and still, there was no explosion.
Claire opened one eye, still bracing herself for a shock wave. Jar Jar swiveled his eyes from side to side, then cleared his throat.
"What are we doing here?"
"You fixed your speech impediment."
"Yes. I've been practicing."
"That's great. Real great."
He twiddled his fingers.
"So . . ."
"I just rescued you from annihilation. They were going to blow up the Senate."
Jar Jar hugged his knees.
"Claire . . . the senate isn't on Coruscant anymore . . ."
There was an awkward pause. Claire covered her face and groaned.
Jar Jar patted her shoulder.
"It's okay. I was hoping you'd visit soon."
Claire rubbed her forehead.
"Right . . . Do you think you want to come home with me? I don't want some-"
Before she could finish, he wrapped his arms around her neck and gave her a big hug. She gagged, then ruffled his haillu.
"Okay, then. I'll take that as a 'yes'."
Not long after Jar Jar was settled on Isla Nublar (of the world parallel to Claire's), something unexpected happened. Right out of the blue, Owen fell from the sky like a meteorite and showed up at Claire's front door with a pair of antlers on his head. Claire was too happy to ponder the oddness of this situation, and she was a dinosaur, so what did it matter how weird things turned out? Owen was back, and that was all she wanted.
In the excitement, Claire forgot about Jar Jar, so when she realized that he was waiting for her to meet him the next morning, she dropped the toast she was eating and thundered out of the kitchen. Jar Jar was waiting patiently in a hotel room in the other dimension, and did not expect Claire to greet him by tapping on his window while hovering in midair. He cranked it open, and she clung to the edge like a cat.
"Owen's alive! Owen's alive! Owen's alive!"
She nodded spiritedly.
"Yes! He's back, and he has antlers! Hop on. I'll take you to him."
Jar Jar leapt onto her back and grabbed her frill with white knuckles as she sped into the other dimension. Her landing was not gentle, and it became a hobbling gallop once she touched down. Jar Jar spotted Owen playing ball with his son, and dismounted Claire. He sped across the lawn, shouting indiscernibly. Owen got to his feet, but regretted doing so, because when Jar Jar reached him, he planted a big, wet kiss on his cheek. Owen dry-heaved as his friend pulled back, still connected to him by a string of drool.
Owen wiped his cheek, flicking saliva to the ground.
"Yep, I'm alive. Alive is what I am. I'm the opposite of dead . . ."
Jar Jar hopped up and down excitedly.
"I love you, Owen! You saved my life! I owe you a life-debt!"
Owen shook his head.
"No, Jar Jar. That's okay. I don't need-"
"I'll do anything for you, Owen. Anything."
"Fine. Can you grab my jacket from the house? I want to visit the others."
Jar Jar nodded, giving his trademark toothy smile. When he was out of earshot, Claire whispered to Owen.
"I want to integrate him on the island."
He lowered his voice.
"Why is this a secret?"
"Because I don't want him to stay with us."
"I agree. Now that we have an infant in the house, we have to be extra careful about safety issues. Jar Jar may be all cutesy-wootsy, but his antics could cause serious harm to a developing child, even if that child is part dinosaur."
Claire bit her beak.
"Yeah. I just hope he doesn't get upset."
"We'll have to wait and see."
Jar Jar came out of the house with a jacket that clearly belonged to Claire. Owen took it anyway, hanging it on the deck railing passively.
"Alright. Jar Jar, do you want to come with us to visit a very special place?"
The Gungan clapped his hands eagerly.
"Cool. Follow us."
Owen picked up his son and walked alongside Claire, who seemed uneasy. This was a delicate situation. Although Owen trusted Jar Jar, he hadn't forgotten the time he literally sliced off his hand in a fit of rage. With any luck, things wouldn't get that ugly again.
As soon as they set foot on the island, the crew was greeted by nearly everyone who passed by. Well, Owen was, anyway. Even in a world as crazy as this one, it was unusual to see people come back from the dead. The only person who was unable to get close to them was a large, semiaquatic reptile, who was dogsitting Claire's Dalmatian. The canine twirled its leash around her, cutting off her circulation. It was a very excitable breed, apparently.
"When did we get a dog?" Owen asked.
"I went through a small crisis after your death," Claire mumbled, "I thought having a dog would be good for the family, but she was too much work. Now we all take turns walking her."
A scruffy man jumped over the taut leash and jogged over to Owen. He examined his antlers with curiosity.
"Wow, Claire wasn't kidding. These things could gut a bear. Good to see you again, buddy."
"You too, Lowery," Owen replied, "I missed you. All of you. It's good to be back. I hope I didn't miss too much."
"You have another kid now."
Lowery leaned in close to whisper menacingly.
"Don't ever try to take away his binkit. He will mess . . . you . . . up."
Owen narrowed his eyes.
"Binkit? . . ."
"It's what Luke calls his blanket," Claire explained, "He never goes anywhere without it. Mostly. I can convince him to let it go if I offer him candy."
"Sounds like he takes after me."
Claire smiled and curled her tail around him.
"He does. That's why you were never truly gone. He carried your memory."
During this exchange, Lowery had noticed the presence of Jar Jar Binks. He looked him over with a puzzled frown, then pointed to him vaguely.
"This . . . What is this doing here?"
Claire took a deep breath.
"Right . . . Lowery, this is Jar Jar Binks."
"I know who he is. I'm just wondering . . . why."
Before Owen could stop him, Jar Jar smiled and rocked back and forth on his feet.
"I owe Owen a life debt. He sacrificed himself to save me."
Lowery turned to Owen with a questioning look, and he nodded in reply, refusing to make eye contact. When Lowery realized he was serious, he burst out laughing.
"Oh my god! You died to save Jar Jar Binks!"
"It was mostly for Claire . . ."
Lowery was in tears. He cackled like a hyena, clapping his hands merrily.
"That's too precious! Wait 'til the others hear!"
Owen turned to Claire with a worried frown.
"You didn't tell them how I died?"
"Not exactly. I withheld certain details because of the . . . complicated nature of your passing. But we can tell them the truth now."
"Right. Okay. I need a chance to tell everyone what happened before they get the wrong idea."
"What's the wrong idea?" Claire asked.
Owen pulled her gently to the side by her horn, lowering his voice and giving nervous side-glances at Lowery.
"If people were to find out I died saving Jar Jar Binks . . . well, I think you can see why that might be a tad humiliating."
"But he's your friend," Claire argued.
"Yeah, but that's also humiliating."
Claire gave him one of her signature disapproving looks.
"Owen . . ."
"Look, I'm going to tell them eventually," he affirmed, "But I need to make it . . . gentle."
"Fine. Just make sure you don't wait too long."
Unfortunately, Owen never got a chance to tell anyone his side of the story. Somehow, word got out, and nearly everyone was laughing behind his back. At least, that's what he thought. In reality, nobody cared all that much, and were only keen to bring it up as a joke. Still, Owen was put off by this attitude.
"It's not fair!" he lamented as he slammed an empty beer glass on the corner table of the local bar, "I mean, I've built up this badass reputation for years, and all of a sudden, I'm seen as that wuss that saved Jar Jar Binks!"
His drinking companion shrugged.
"Why should you care? I thought you said you don't mind how people see you."
"That only applies to my relationship with Claire, Barry. I don't mind sacrificing my credibility for her, but Jar Jar . . ."
"Isn't he your friend?"
Owen took a long time to respond.
"Yes. I wouldn't say it in public, but he is. We're not best buddies or anything, but we tolerate each other. It's just such a hassle when he's screwing things up."
"So get Claire to supervise him."
"Tried that. He messed up her Fiction Files."
"Important documents regarding the land of Fiction. He dropped the Kung Fu Panda papers in the Star Wars box, and now Claire is in the middle of resolving some sort of crisis. It's dangerous to keep him around, especially since Claire is in charge of important things and I have a son to look after."
Suddenly, a brightly-colored hybrid dinosaur burst through the door, huffing and puffing like he had just run a marathon.
"Owen, come quick! The alien is leaving!"
Owen stood up, rattling the table.
"He says he doesn't fit in here. He wants to remove the burden of his presence . . . or something like that. He has a funny voice. It's kind of hard to understand him. Don't let him leave. When people make fun of him, they forget about me . . ."
Owen patted the dinosaur's shoulder quickly and dashed outside. He could see Jar Jar trudging through the tall grass with a bindle balanced on his shoulder. It was easy to cover the distance between them: Jar Jar didn't seem to know where he was going.
"Hey, bud," Owen called out loud enough for only the two of them to hear, "Where are you going?"
"Well, you can't get there by walking. We're on an island."
"I can swim."
"Right . . ."
Owen exhaled slowly.
"So why are you leaving?"
Jar Jar's eyes swiveled away.
"I don't belong here."
"Well, you can't go back to Star Wars."
"I know. I'm not sure I belong anywhere."
Owen gulped and turned his head to make sure that no one was around. The coast was clear. He gave Jar Jar a hug.
"You may not feel like you belong here, but you do. Me and Claire, we're your friends. That means you can count on us to stay by your side, even when you screw things up."
"I always screw things up."
"That's good, because as long as you keep doing that, we'll be here for you."
Jar Jar blinked.
"That doesn't make sense."
"I was trying to be sentimental. Listen, Jar Jar: we love you. It may sound silly, but it's true. No one deserves to feel unloved."
Jar Jar dropped his bindle and sighed deeply.
"But how are we gonna make sure I don't ruin everything?"
"We can't prevent accidents," Owen muttered, "There are things that are beyond our control. What we can control is our attitude. I promise, no matter what, I will accept you for who you are. I'm not going to dump you on the world and pretend like it's someone else's responsibility to take care of you. Just because I may get frustrated with you, it doesn't mean I'm allowed to claim that I'm above you. Taking care of you is not a divine responsibility: it's volunteer work. I've volunteered for this position by being your friend. And we are friends."
Jar Jar twiddled his fingers.
"What if you don't want to be my friend?"
Owen looked around again and lowered his voice.
"I do. It's just gonna take some getting used to, okay?"
Jar Jar nodded.
They shared another hug. As they did, Claire descended from the sky and landed near them. She folded her wings and smiled.
"I fixed the canon error. Everything is okay now."
Jar Jar ran over to her and hugged her neck.
"It's okay. Accidents happen."
During this sentence, she has been walking forward. As she uttered the final word, she stepped on Jar Jar's bindle and yowled in pain. The bag tore, revealing a pile of pointy rocks. Claire sucked on her foot with tears in her eyes.
"Why were you carrying rocks, Jar Jar?" Owen asked with a baffled expression.
"I don't own anything worth carrying."
Claire gave a deep rumble.
"Then why carry anything at all?"
"I didn't want to leave with an empty bindle."
Owen narrowed his eyes.
"Why did you need a bindle, though?"
"To carry the rocks."
"But you- This doesn't make any sense!"
"Let it go, Owen. We have to get used to this."
"Sure. You get the first shift."
Jar Jar laced his fingers together hopefully.
"Am I staying for sure?"
They both nodded. He smiled and pulled them in for a hug.
Owen patted his back gently.
"That's what friends are for."