For two days Luke neither heard from, nor saw any sign of True. On the Lars homestead things were business as usual and there were no more trips into Anchorhead by Owen or Luke. Owen was less grumpy now that Luke had no one to race Beggar's Canyon, and Luke was relieved that so far no one had come around asking after the man that True had clubbed in the hall outside his room.
Having not seen True for days, Luke worried that maybe she had taken the brunt of the fall for the missing man. On the second day, after his chores were done, Luke headed out to Beggar's Canyon. He breathed deeply of relief that no one was there, and stopped his skyhopper near the mouth of the canyon where he followed, on foot, the trail down to the spot where he had brought the mystery man's body a few days earlier. Searching the wall of the canyon Luke found the cave where he had left the body in the possession of that old hermit.
Entering the cool darkness of the cavern, Luke felt the tug of claustrophobia and didn't remember the space being quite so small. Slowly his eyes adjusted to the darkness and Luke scanned the cave. He saw no sign of the body, or anything that would indicate anyone had been here.
Instead of feeling reassured, Luke felt increased uneasiness, especially at trusting the old man, Ben Kenobi, to take care of things for him.
Luke, back from his short trip to the canyon, found himself tinkering with the V35. His mind had been racing, imagining terrible situations involving True, Ben Kenobi, himself and faceless men with blasters and orders from the Empire. None of these imagined scenarios had happy endings.
Returning to the homestead Luke had absently begun working on the landspeeder, losing himself in the repairs. Slowly the vibrant scenes playing in his mind of the last few weeks faded. The shifter on the V35 was a little sticky anyway, and since the Lars' other landspeeder was still buried in the sand at Beggar's Canyon, Luke was maintaining the older one so there would be another reliable vehicle available other than the skyhopper.
"Luke, one of the droids out in the east field isn't responding. Would you go out and bring it in?"
Luke looked up as his uncle appeared in the doorway of the garage.
"Sure," Luke stood and dropped the hyperdrill on the workbench.
Moments later Luke was back in his skyhopper and swiftly he arrived at the furthest edge of the east field where he saw G4-P4, first droid his uncle ever purchased, on its side in the sand. Luke jumped from his skyhopper and righted the gray and yellow droid; performing preliminary checks it for any serious malfunctions.
"Hmmm…that's weird," Luke said softly to himself, finding nothing wrong with the G4 unit other than the main power switch, which had been switched off.
"Talking to yourself now?"
A wide-eyed, startled Luke spun on his heels so fast he lost his balance and fell on his rear in the loose sand.
True, who was standing next to Luke's skyhopper, laughed as she moved forward, her hands outstretched to help. Luke accepted her assistance with an embarrassed, forced smile.
"You turned Geefour off?" Luke asked as he brushed off his clothes and nodded towards the droid.
"Yeah. I needed to talk to you," True's amusement at Luke's bumbling fall faded fast and her tone became somber.
"What's wrong?" Luke asked, as the unease he'd fought all day reared its ugly head again, its power increased exponentially.
"I'm leaving," True answered after a moment of silence, avoiding Luke by staring at her hands, which were fumbling with the zipper of her jacket.
"What? Why? Now?" Luke stuttered, eliciting a tiny, lopsided smile from True, who still was not meeting Luke's hard gaze.
"Yes, today; right now in fact. I am leaving Tatooine, but I had to say goodbye…" True kept her eyes on the ground and Luke continued to stare at her, his mouth slack with shock and disbelief.
"But…why?" Luke finally managed to ask.
True sighed heavily as she shook her head, a small tendril of blond hair falling over her face. Luke stared at that tendril and the rays of sunlight dancing upon its shimmering, golden strands.
"Turns out my sneaky peek into the databanks for information wasn't so sneaky after all. Palloe's father found us. He was able to trace my father's holo-signal back here. The night I was here with you he and his minions came and took my parents," True paused, and speaking so softly Luke barely made out the words, added, "at least I think they did; I haven't seen them since that day," True stopped, her breath rattling nervously in her throat.
Luke fought to accept the words she was saying, but he found himself unable to tear his eyes from the hypnotic dance of that one loose tendril of hair.
"All I know is my parents are gone," True continued as she gulped a breath of air, "and I've been staying out here, trying to figure out what to do. I haven't gone back home since that night because I pretty well know someone is there-waiting for me."
True raised her head finally, and the tendril of hair that had captured Luke's attention, seeming to glow, fell back into shadow and breaking the spell.
"I snuck back into my house that night, after I left you, and barely made it out before they knew I was there. I guess the good thing about all this is my father never had the chance to follow through with his man. And he can't hurt you now either. I just hope the people looking for me don't realize…," True trailed off and Luke, who still couldn't quite wrap his mind around any of this, snapped to attention as he realized she meant him and his past, his ancestry; whatever it was that she knew and he didn't.
"You hope they don't realize who I am?" Luke finished questioningly for her, and True just stared back at him, her brow furrowed deeply with pain and concern. Luke might have thought it comical in a different situation.
"I'm sorry I ever met you," True said, ignoring Luke's comment. "I'm sorry for your sake," she added, a single tear slipping from her eye, following a crooked path down her lightly freckled cheek.
Luke reached out to her to wipe the tear away, but True intercepted his hand, grasping it tightly before he could caress her smooth skin. Luke felt a moment's ache in his heart, the need to stroke her cheek almost as desperate as some spice-junkie's need for a fix.
"There is so much you should know, but it's not my place. I know I've said all this before, but I can only hope that your uncle will someday tell you...," Luke opened his mouth to question, but True silenced him with a slight shake of her head. The loose strand of her bright blond hair once again captured his attention, but only for a brief moment, the dancing light had lost its power over him.
True pressed Luke's hand to her chest, where Luke felt her heart pounding strong and fast. His head was dizzy with questions coming so fast and furious he was at a loss to control them as they piled one atop another; questions about his heritage, questions about True, questions about them together. For all the questions though, Luke could only find the words and the voice to formulate one.
"Will I ever see you again?"
True lowered Luke's hand from her chest, and releasing it she backed away a few steps.
"I don't know…I hope so," she beamed, a genuine smile lighting her eyes. Imagined or not Luke thought she faltered and for a moment he allowed himself to hope; her eyes seemed to betray her thoughts. She wanted to stay, Luke knew it. But the moment passed quickly and slowly her smile faded.
Luke felt powerless to stop her as she continued to back away from him, retreating as if he would hurt her. "I've fallen for you. Please know how hard this is for me."
Luke's mouth felt dry as his eyes pricked with the threat of tears. "I…," he paused, composing himself, "Me too." He watched with a heavy heart as True moved further away, her smile returning. Luke was struggling with conflicting emotions. He wanted to run after her, but he wanted to respect her decision. He wished so many things could be different.
Raising her hand in a final goodbye, True turned and started running. Soon she was gone, disappearing beyond the distant sand dunes. Not long after Luke heard the echoes of a repulsor engine and he watched as her ship shot towards the sky. Moments later it was gone from sight. It was then that he allowed himself to cry, saying silently in his mind the words that he'd wished he'd been strong enough to say out loud, I love you.
"You're awful quiet tonight," Beru said softly. They were seated at the dinner table where Luke silently moved his stew around his plate, unable to take a single bite.
"You're aunt is talking to you," Owen grumbled, shoveling a forkful of food into his own mouth.
Luke offered a half-shrug. He wanted to be left alone. He wanted to wallow in his misery. He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. He wanted to be invisible at the table.
"Humph…moody kid," Luke heard Owen mumble.
Standing suddenly, Luke almost laughed at the looks of surprise on his aunt and uncle's faces. Owen had another forkful of stew poised in the air, and Beru had her cup of blue milk raised to her lips.
"Going somewhere?" Owen asked, dropping his fork back to his plate of steaming stew.
"Outside," Luke responded, "just for a minute," he quickly added as his uncle opened his mouth-no doubt to argue.
Luke didn't wait for them to respond as he left the confines of the dining area.
On the surface Luke marched across the desert floor, heading for the small rise that rimmed the open air courtyard below. Taking up his usual position Luke could hear the murmur's of conversation from his aunt and uncle below, but he couldn't make out the words. Putting Owen and Beru out of his mind, Luke faced the twin suns, both on their downward journey towards the horizon. They were blood red as they settled in the distance. Luke smiled as he thought of True and somehow he knew she would be okay.
No one ever came to the homestead looking for Luke or True, and no one ever asked after the Knightley family-who had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Owen mentioned the mystery to Luke one day as they repaired yet another vaporator, but Luke averted the inquiry, muttering something about the family moving. Owen never brought the subject up again.
The start of Luke's 18th year brought about new disagreements concerning Luke joining Biggs at the Academy. Owen was still resisting, even though he'd promised Luke. After what felt like a thousand arguments about it, Luke felt his will break and he gave up pushing.
Time passed slowly and thoughts and memories of True plagued Luke as the Lars' prepared for another harvest. But preparations for the harvest were hectic and Luke found himself distracted. Slowly he found himself thinking of her a little less and less. Occasionally he would awake in the middle of the night from random and disjointed dreams of her; finding solace in that she seemed happy in his dreams. That much he could sense and he hoped it was real.
One afternoon as Luke and his uncle were cleaning up after a day's work in the fields, the unmistakable sounds of a Sandcrawler approaching filled the underground homestead. Sighing, Luke stood and without waiting for instruction he headed up the stairs to the desert floor above, hearing his uncle following just behind him.
Luke emerged into the fading daylight and headed towards the Sandcrawler where droids of every imaginable shape and size were milling about on the sandy floor. A Jawa approached Luke and his uncle and as it led them towards the Sandcrawler Luke heard his aunt calling him from the open air courtyard below.
Luke parted with his uncle and jogged towards the raised lip of the courtyard.
"Luke, tell uncle if gets a translator be sure it speaks bocce," his aunt called up to him.
"Doesn't look like we have much of a choice but I'll remind him," Luke replied as he turned and continued towards his uncle.
As Luke approached it seemed business dealings were nearing conclusion and upon overhearing his uncle say they would be taking the red colored R2 unit, Luke crouched to check it out. As much as he would never admit it to his uncle, secretly Luke liked when the Jawas came by with their myriad of droids. It was fascinating to think where each droid had come from and who the previous owners had been…
"Luke!" Luke, still tinkering with the droid, stood and moved towards his uncle and the Jawa. They were standing in front of a very golden droid.
"Take these two over to the garage, will you? I want them cleaned up before dinner," Owen ordered eliciting a protest from Luke…
And we all know what happens next.
THE END...or the beginning, depending on your point of view.