"Uncle Owen, please!"
"No, Luke. You're eight years old already. You're old enough to start leaving behind these... childish fantasies."
"They're not fantasies, uncle Owen. My dreams are... t-they feel..."
"They're just that, boy, dreams. I keep dreaming that a sandstorm will destroy our moisture vaporators and we'll lose our harvest. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. That's why they're called dreams, nightmares. Your father's gone and won't be coming back. Accept it and move on. Just like the rest of us do."
"But this is different. I..."
"I've had enough of this. I can't spend every minute at the table trying to convince you, Luke. It's exhausting." Owen put his napkin on the table and stood up. "From now on, keep your dreams to yourself. Stop whining and grow up. Death is part of life. Yes, you're an orphan and it's a tragedy, but you have Beru and I to take care of you. I'm sorry it's not what you wanted. I'm afraid we'll have to do."
Luke watched his uncle go and dropped his eyes, staring at his mushroom soup. He didn't know how to explain, how to make his aunt and uncle understand that what he had weren't just dreams. He could feel there was something else to them.
Beru reached out across the table and held the little boy's hand in her own.
"Uncle Owen didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Luke. Try to understand him. He's frustrated and worried because you keep dreaming about your father. That's the only thing you talk about lately."
"But these dreams are important, aunt Beru! I just know it, and I..."
Beru was taken aback by the child's vehemence, and made an effort to understand how he had to be feeling. Luke was different, the same way his father had been. Owen and her had no idea how to deal with that... difference, and Owen was beginning to lose his patience. He felt displaced by Luke's devotion to someone he hadn't even met, and anger was an instinctive reaction.
She bit her lower lip and looked down. The bond between parents and children was something uncanny and mysterious. Deeper than any other bond in many ways. She knew that Owen was still grieving for Cliegg, and probably always would. Luke's difference enabled him to feel things more acutely than most, and she knew they weren't helping. Forcing the boy to repress his gift wasn't the wisest thing to do, but fear was a powerful motivator. She couldn't blame Owen, for she shared that fear to a certain extent.
"I know, Luke," she said, squeezing the small hand. "I know you can feel things no one else can, and I know it's difficult for you. But there's nothing you can do about it. There's nothing we can do about it." She shook her head wistfully. "We're only trying to protect you."
"Protect me from what?" Luke asked, boring his eyes into hers with an intensity that left her breathless.
"You'll understand one day."
Luke's eyes turned to his plate again, dejected.
"He's... lonely. And hurting. And angry. He needs... He needs me," he uttered in a broken voice, eyes filling with tears.
Beru covered her mouth with her hand and tried to still her suddenly wildly beating heart. It took her a while to calm down but when she did, she decided to throw caution to the wind.
"If that's what you feel, then hold on to that feeling, Luke. Maybe it will help you someday."
"How?" the boy looked at her. "He's... he's gone." His voice choked on the words, on the finality they conveyed.
Beru let out a rueful smile that Luke couldn't understand.
"Yes, he's gone; but maybe not completely. Maybe some miracles are possible."
The child's eyes illuminated, and Beru couldn't help but think how reminiscent they were of...
"You think so, aunt Beru?" Luke asked, his face shining with hope. A hope that came from a place not even Luke knew existed.
"I do," Beru smiled reassuringly. "One day, you'll understand why you keep having these dreams, and that day, maybe you'll be able to do something about it."
Luke closed his eyes and took a deep breath, in a gesture that made him look years older. As if he was drawing from some inner strength, some unformed inner knowledge beyond his reach.
And Beru knew that this boy was destined for greater things than any of them could begin to fathom.
Strangely, Luke never had those dreams again. Furthermore, he forgot about them entirely for many years to come.
'Daddy. Daddy! Where are you? Why can't I reach you? Please, Daddy!'
"Where are you? Please... Please!"
Luke sat up in his bed, all sweaty and out of breath. It took him a while to remember where he was, but gradually things started coming back to him. He realized his own moaning had awakened him and turned on his bedside lamp to the dimmest setting, needing some light to focus on.
Memories long buried returned in a long series of flashbacks that felt like a kick in the guts.
Force, he'd had this dream as a child! Somehow, he had known that his father was alive, and needing him. But he had blocked that knowledge from his conscious mind, until now.
Why? Why was it coming back now? His father was alive and well... wasn't he?
For a terrifying moment, everything felt fuzzy and unreal. His memories, even his very life. He didn't know what was real and what was only wishful thinking. Turning his head, he looked desperately for an anchor, for something that reassured him that the past year's happiness hadn't been a delusional fantasy. His gaze settled on the hologram of himself, his father and his sister, with their arms wrapped around each other and shaking with laughter. Han had been making goofy faces at them, and had them in stitches by the time he snapped the holo.
The young Jedi smiled at the memory and reaching out, he brushed the holo with trembling fingers, lingering on his father's laughing face.
He didn't know why he had remembered that episode of his childhood precisely tonight, but whatever the reason, he was glad. It was reassuring to know he had felt his father's living force and known he was alive when he had no way to know he was alive. The bond between them dated back that long, when neither of them was aware of the other's existence. It felt irrationally... comforting.
Dropping his hand, the young man let out a long sigh, and grabbing the edge of his pillow, he pressed up his face against it and turned off the light through the Force, all apprehension and foreboding fading away like a bad dream. In seconds, he was fast asleep again.
When he was sure that his son was sound asleep, Anakin stepped out of the shadows and approached the bed, staring lovingly at the peacefully sleeping form.
It was a dark night, but Coruscant's lights filtered through the half-closed blinders, allowing him to look his fill of his child.
Luke's nightmare had awakened him, and he'd hurried to his son's side. Once inside his quarters, he felt that his boy was beginning to calm down, and not wanting him to feel his presence, he kept still and waited for him to fall asleep again.
He didn't have many opportunities to see his children sleep, and he revelled in the unexpected opportunity.
Watching Luke sleep felt like witnessing a miracle. He shone, pure and simple. The light filtering in from outside created a soft, eerie glow around him, making him look like an angel. That sight alone brought him more peace than hours of meditation.
Drawn to that source of Light like a starving man, Anakin got ever closer to the bed and contemplated the beauty and innocence that was his son.
Unable to help himself, he reached out and caressed the side of his child's face, careful to not awake him again. His eyes misted.
"Yes, my son," he whispered. "I was lonely. And hurting. And angry," he swallowed the lump in his throat. "And I needed you. Force, how much I needed you!"
Luke stirred a little, but didn't wake up. His head moved a little under Anakin's hand, leaning into his father's touch.
The older man thought his heart would explode. Bending down oh-so-slowly, he placed a tender kiss on the top of the blond head and on the soft brow.
"I'll always need you, Luke," he murmured against his son's skin, filling his lungs with his unique, fragrant scent. "I love you. Have no fear, little one. You won't have to miss me anymore. Never again."
Luke quieted under his father's lips, as Anakin's words seeped into his being and dispelled all the fears of a needy orphan child.
Anakin retraced his steps in the dark, without taking his eyes off his son.
"Thank you for making my life worthwhile again, my precious one," he whispered before the doors closed after him.