"Are you alright

Epilogue

"...funeral was the very least the New Republic could do to honor this warrior's sacrifice. This is Turve Glat reporting for Coruscant Daily. Thank you for your attention."

The image died abruptly, plunging the room in nearly total darkness. For a long time there was only silence and then the rustle of cloth as someone rose slowly. The night was chilly outside, but then, it could also have been called refreshing, after a day of murderous summer heat under the twin suns of Tatooine. She leaned against the window-frame, too tired to sleep, and after a while she decided to take a midnight stroll through the sleeping town of Mos Espa. Dressing quickly Daala felt her heart-beat fasten ever so slightly in dire anticipation. The streets were almost deserted at this time of the night, but she found that she was not in the least afraid for herself. Never had been from the very moment she had set foot on this planet. At the edge of the settlement the dunes began sloping toward the heart of the desert and Daala had vowed to herself that she would rent a speeder someday and visit all the places Anakin had told her about: Beggar's Canyon, the Dune Sea, and all the others.

"A dangerous endeavor."

The soft voice startled her and her eyes fixed the hooded stranger in a suspicious glare. His tall body was wrapped in a black cloak that was moving gently in the chilly breeze. Daala froze. She remembered him! Taking a step back the former Admiral shook her head slowly.

"I am not afraid of you," she told him firmly.

"I don't see why you should."

"I know what you are." She could almost see him smile and the pasty-white skin around his dead eyes crinkle in fake amusement at her defiant tone.

"Death is as much part of life as anything else, Daala. There is nothing to fear here for you." Drawing back the hood he shook his head as if freeing himself of an invisible bond. Daala gasped in surprise.

"Anakin!"

"I told you I would always be with you."

"But....But...you are—"

"Dead?" he finished for her. He came up to wrap her in his arms, his lips touching hers gently in a very tender kiss. "Do I feel dead to you?"

"No," she mumbled in between kissing him back.

"Good. Because I would hate seeing you cry again."

"Are you real?" she asked finally, her voice trembling with fear and hope.

"As real as you want me to be," he whispered. And then he kissed her again.

Waking up from her dream Daala sat bolt upright and stared at the holoproj droning on in its corner, the images too fast for her tired eyes to grasp. Finally she realized that she must have fallen asleep during the report, but maybe that had been a good thing too. She could still taste his lips on hers, could still sense his hands holding her tight. Smiling a bit she wrapped her arms around herself to recapture the feel of his warm body against hers. He had promised her to always be there, hadn't he? And he was, in a sense. Even though she would have wished to have him at her side, not just a very vivid memory and the ghost of his smile, Daala was aware that they had agreed to this a long time ago, and she was content in the knowledge that he had found his peace. There was sadness too, of course, but it did not hurt so much anymore, as he had known it would when he had come to say goodbye that last night. Anakin did keep his promises, even if in a different way than one might wish. It was a little bit cruel, Daala found, but in that too he had remained true to himself. She would remember him, that was for sure, everything he was, and in her dreams she would still have him at her side, as real as she wanted to.

He made a grab for the remote control, but Kyp was faster. Grinning at him roguishly, the young Jedi turned back to look at the screen where the Princess could be seen giving yet another interview. As if they had not heard all of it already. For Force's sake, they had been there! Sulking quietly, Jix folded his arms in front of his chest and leaned back against the headrest of the worn down couch in his apartment. He had invited Kyp over because he felt that he owed the kid, not only because he had killed his partner. But right now he was regretting his decision. The young man had made himself right at home. On the other hand his unnerving presence was keeping Jix' guilty conscious at bay and the memories faded a bit. Luke Skywalker had told him that he should take some rest and heal first, before he did anything rash. The Jedi Master had not said the last part but Jix had known what he had meant. He was not stupid, after all. Somehow Skywalker seemed to be happy at his taking care of Kyp, and the Corellian also had a good idea of why that was so. But Durron would never be able to replace Vader, no way, no matter how hard he might try. And he would most certainly not spend the rest of his life baby-sitting the young Jedi either.

"There's been some rumors, have you heard?" Kyp said suddenly, his gaze still fixed on the screen.

"No, what?" Jix grated at him, slightly annoyed.

"Tatooine. Looks like someone's bent on rebuilding Jabba's empire."

"Really. What's the New Republic doing about it?"

"Not much. In fact, they have other things to do than take care of that too."

"The NRI has enough people, I guess."

"Takes someone special."

"So?"

"We are someone special, you know?"

"And what does your master have to say to all that?"

"He said: why don't you check it out? Take Jix with you, he needs something to get his mind off the past."

"He said that? Really?"

"Hm-hm."

Looking over at the young Jedi, Jix could not help but notice the merry twinkle in his cool blue eyes. He was caught, mind and soul. And he knew just who to blame too. Damn you, Vader, you always had a knack for making my life miserable. But in the end he was smiling too. Rising gracefully he walked over to stand at the window, looking out into the night.

"Might be worth a trip."

"Gentlebeings, thank you for your attention during this special report brought to you by Coruscant Daily. For his immense efforts in uncovering this conspiracy and bringing it to public attention, Turve Glat was awarded not only with the Tahnera Reporter Prize, but also with the now vacant seat left behind by Jellan Aste Fellon of the J.A.F. MediaGroup, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment two days ago for his part in the said happenings.

Gita Deron has risen from chief investigator to chief prosecutor and there are rumors that she will run for the post of Chief Justice in the elections to come. President Organa Solo is confident in her protégé's chances, and she should know!

Former Admiral Daala has reportedly left Coruscant, destination unknown.

As for the Skywalker family: we have tried to get a comment on most recent talk from Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, but he has gallantly refused to answer the question whether his future wife, former Emperor's Hand Mara Jade, is really pregnant. We are impatiently awaiting progress reports on that particular piece of information. The President herself has taken a well-deserved rest and will return from her holidays with her husband and children in ten standard days from now.

There is no news on the whereabouts of Wrenga Jixton, a fact that we for one regret very much. We would have loved to have him here for an interview. Last but not least, dear gentlebeings, the MediaGroup is proud to announce that it will be producing a full-length holodrama on the events surrounding the heroic death of Anakin Skywalker, former Dark Lord of the Sith and guardian of the new Jedi Order. May the Force be with him, wherever he is now. Thank you for your interest."

Finis

Acknowledgements:

To George Lucas for giving us this galaxy far, far away.

To my sister for her medical input even though she thinks I'm insane.

To my beta, Red, for always being there for me with her ideas and superior insight into English grammar. This story would not have been half as good without her. J

To Ang Lee for the awesome movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that served as a great inspiration for this story. I even borrowed a line from James Shamus. Don't worry. I am not trying to copyright it. J

Thank you.