Disclaimer – Lucas owns the characters in this story. He's hidden them away somewhere dark and dusty whilst he's got his mind on episode2, so I snuck in and broke them out for a quick jaunt in the sunshine. I wish I was making money from them, but unfortunately it's all in the name of 'fun'.

Setting – Eight years post Episode Three.

Note: this is an old, old story which isn't the finest piece I've ever written! I'm only leaving it here for posterity. It was written before the release of AOTC - hence Owen and Beru's background is somewhat different to the canon explanation for their relationship to Luke.

ANAKIN AGAIN?

Episode Seven - Death

Chapter One

Beru carried the painfully light boy into the back, his head lolling against her arm, filthy hair clinging to her own dirty flight suit. His eyes were closed and he could have been sleeping. She brushed at the hair and the small flecks of blood in it, feeling anger simmering barely under control. He was just a child! How could they have done this to him? A child? Her child.

He might not be her own flesh and blood, but he was good as, and it no longer seemed to matter to her whose genes he had.

Beru laid him out on the small med couch and tried to decide what to do for him. Obi-Wan had said not to wake him, but she could at least clean his wounds. She went back to the 'fresher station and grabbed a bulb of water and a white cloth, and came back to the boy. He was so small and fragile she felt to touch him would be to break him.

Upturning the bulb, she knelt by his side and, ignoring her own filthy state and muddy footprints she had left on the clean deckplates, she poured water onto the cloth. Beru was not herself, she knew. Not the aunt Luke remembered. The meek woman who always acquiesced to her husband's wishes. The serene, cool and gentle mother figure. In the last week she had regressed ten years and she wondered if the boy would notice when he woke. She had rediscovered her strength through the love of the boy.

But she couldn't show that to him; it might disturb the child. She would have to hide the regression, but keep the strength of character and purpose she had gained from this. It was amazing what you could do when something you love is in peril. The former Beru would never have imagined herself fighting for her life with a blaster in her hands in the drug plantations of a crime lord. She had thought her blaster days were behind her. Obviously not.

She wiped the wet cloth over Luke's face, removing the dirt there and revealing cuts and bruises. Her jaw hardened. She stripped him to his thin black tunic and the bare arms underneath showed great ugly black and blue bruises. She rocked back on her heels. They had beaten him. They had kidnapped and beaten a child.

She hoped the boy's father would catch up with them and give them as cruel a punishment he was so famed for.

Great angry welts marked his small biceps, marks from fingernails that had dug into his skin. The anger boiled again at the thought.

I bet they never could make you just a number, could they, Luke Skywalker?

---

"There. That looks good." Owen pointed to a craggy opening in the rock side. Obi-Wan nodded and nudged the ship towards the cave. They had to hide out until that destroyer left, and here was as good a place as any – they couldn't very well go back to the Lar's homestead in case they came up on the ships sensors and attracted attention.

The cave lit up with the ship's lights and showed a deep, smooth-sided opening into the cliff face. The Jedi turned the ship around to face the outside night sky and set her down with repulsors. Flicking the engines off, he leaned back into the chair with a sigh. He closed his eyes, and Owen wasn't sure whether it was weariness or worry that was set on the man's features.

Owen gazed at the man he had once called 'friend' and now considered a dangerous, occasional ally. He felt the need to blame somebody, and here was someone he could vent out his frustrations on. But... somehow, he knew he didn't blame Obi-Wan for this mess. It seemed to have come down upon them all by itself, and the man had come to their aid.

The realisation that he was grateful annoyed Owen immensely.

He scowled and was broken out of his deliberations by the sound of Beru storming into the cockpit. He pushed off from the console in front of him and swung the seat around to face his petite wife. The look on her face shocked him - it was pure anger and it mocked her gentle features.

"B, what is it?" he asked. At the sound of his worried voice, Obi-Wan also turned to face Beru.

"They beat him Owen! He's covered in bruises!" She was ringing a dripping, filthy cloth in her hands, anguish evident.

Obi-Wan was on his feet. "Beat him?"

She bit her lip and angrily pushed away the tears. "Come on." She whirled and threw the rag aside, storming to the back of the small ship.

---

With a dark expression, Owen followed his wife and Obi-Wan sat for a moment in the cockpit, trying to cool his own reaction to the news.

A Jedi must not act in the grip of such emotions. Clear your mind.

He heaved a sigh and released anger with it. Pushing off the control board, he followed the two figures to the med station.

The boy had been washed clean by Beru's discarded towel, and the bruises were clear to see on his skin. Obi-Want saw Owen stiffen and stepped forward tp put a hand on the man's shoulder. Owen whirled around, his eyes full of hate. Was this the same man who had once denied his love for the child?

"Let's tend those bruises, shall we?" Obi-Wan said calmly. He reached for the med kit above the bunk, and took out the bacta patches stored there, his eyes lingering on the small figure curled upon it.

He peeled them out of their sanitary wrappers and gently placed them over the abrasions. Beru was right – they had beaten him. There was a particularly ugly mark over his right temple. He placed a hand on the boy's forehead and reached out gently with the Force to the boy's mind. It was in turmoil, filled with dark, ugly dreams. His centre also burned very brightly in the Force, barely subdued by his unconsciousness

Obi-Wan sat back, disturbed for a moment at the power there. It was a clean, fresh power. Unmarred by his experiences - yet.

He looked up at the couple standing very close to each other, watching the Jedi intently.

"Do you understand now?" he asked them. They looked down confused and he stood, voice harsh. "Do you understand?"

"Understand what, Kenobi?" Owen placed a hand around his wife's shoulders and suddenly Obi-Wan felt like he was alone in the room.

"Your reaction to that realisation. Your intense, sudden, unstoppable anger at the thought that someone you loved had been hurt?"

Beru shifted uncomfortably. Obi-Wan pierced her with a gaze, "And you, Beru, down on that terrace your anger was as intense. Do you understand?"

She looked to the deck. "Yes," she murmured.

Owen obviously didn't. "What?"

She looked up to him and hugged him tighter. "Owen, the anger I'm feeling right now, the hate that I acted on down there... imagine if we were Jedi. Imagine what we could do with that emotion and that power..." She looked at Obi-Wan. "It's so easy, isn't it, to be overcome by it? Is that what happened to Anakin?"

Dark memories swirled in Obi-Wan's mind. "Something similar," he admitted. "I won't tell you it was completely out of his control, I just want you to understand the danger it puts you in." He gestured to the stunned boy, the mop of blond hair not quite covering the bruise on his temple. "And I want you to see something else. Owen, you're scared of the boy. Of what Luke might become. I want you to know something."

Owen just scowled and Obi-Wan leaned back against the bulkhead. "When Luke was on that terrace, he was shining so bright in the Force that no matter how hard they tried, those slavers could never have broken him. He was Corusca going nova, a brilliant explosion of energy and strength as he opened up to the Force."

Owen stiffened. Obi-Wan put a hand up. "But he never, never acted on his anger. Or his fear. And I can't find anything in him that suggests he ever did." He paused. "Do you understand?"

"No."

"He wouldn't submit to them. He wouldn't give in to his fear. And when he refused, they beat him, and then he wouldn't give into his hate." He looked down at the child, so unaware of his importance, "There was nothing but Light there."

Owen stepped closer to the contemplative Jedi Master. "But that doesn't mean there won't ever be, does it?"

Obi-Wan met his steely gaze. "No."

---

"Lay him down in front of the heater."

Owen bunched a blanket under Luke's head as he set the boy down, wrapped tightly in another blanket. "I still don't understand why you want to do it out here, Kenobi," he said, but there was no anger there anymore. Either at the slavers, the Jedi, or himself.

Obi Wan turned from looking out at the dark, craggy landscape and walked to the small outside encampment. Beru was cooking their meagre rations nearby. The Jedi feared that the boy's condition might worsen if he didn't do something, and they could not go to a medical centre. No - Obi-Wan needed to use the Force to treat some of the boy's injuries, but he couldn't do that until the Destroyer left orbit. And finally it had. Vader was gone.

He sat down cross-legged in the small orange glow given off by the heater.. "The Force is created by all things living. I always feel much closer to it when I'm outside in the natural world than in an artificial one."

Owen huffed at that but sat down opposite and watched as the Jedi pulled the small figure into his arms, cradling him. Obi-Wan watched the man's expression. "You're not happy with this," he said as he laid Luke's head against his chest and touched his palm to his cold forehead.

The man shrugged. "Frankly Kenobi, I don't trust your 'Force'. All right, I admit it exists, but it doesn't mean I have to like it."

Obi-Wan wrapped his cloak around the youth in his lap. "I know, but I'm afraid your life will always be steeped in-"

"What?" Owen leaned closer concerned.

"Nothing. It's just for a moment, he looked like..."

Owen's frown returned and he pointed a finger at the man dangerously. "Don't say it, we keep saying that. He looks like Anakin."

Obi-Wan looked up at him with eyebrows raised. "No, I was going to say he looks like Padme."

Owen's eyes shot up, and Obi-Wan realised the thought that the boy might take after his mother equally as much as his father had never occurred to him. "You get over half your genes from your mother."

"I thought Jedi didn't believe in science over semi-mysterious energy fields."

Obi-Wan just shrugged. "I'm going into the healing trance with him. If it looks like either of us is struggling, wake us," he murmured, his eyes already closed. He wrapped his arms around the child.

The boy was like an uncontrollable torrent of energy. It was as if a damn had finally burst - and Obi-Wan had the distinct feeling he was seeing only the very first rush of potential from Luke; that in the boy's core was a deep well of power yet to be discovered.

It unnerved him.

He pressed deeper into the child's mind, trying not to invade the personal ground of hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares. He needed to find the boy's centre, the heart of his awareness, and awaken it. He channelled the cool tendrils of healing energy into Luke at the same time, brushing over the injuries of the past week, working to heal what the bacta had yet to touch.

The mind of someone so young was always fascinating to touch, but this was intense; a bright plethora of images and sounds washing over him relentlessly as the Force-awakened child ran back over the events of the last few days. They were disturbing and the Jedi Master brushed them aside. He didn't want Luke to remember those things too much. He gently reached for the gruesome images and brushed them away from his consciousness.

His awareness stirred as they left his mind and in a brilliant instant, like a window snapping open, Obi-Wan Kenobi completely and utterly knew Luke Skywalker. The boy had reached out on his own and latched onto Kenobi's mind. The Jedi felt himself gasp at the sudden, strong contact as he saw straight into the boy's heart.

The boy is dangerous, they all sense it, why can't you?

Except... he wasn't. There was nothing of the same fear he had felt in Anakin Skywalker. No anger, no fear, no lust. Empathy and kindness, but no hate.

Obi-Wan felt relief flood his mind. Had he expected to find a reincarnation of the boy's father lurking here? Maybe, but there was nothing. Only a deep sense of power, not yet controlled, not at all understood.

Put him in the trance.

He gently channelled the healing energy into the boy, and slipped them both under the surface of consciousness and into the trance, Jedi Master Kenobi keeping watch on his charge.

---

"...w..er..."

Beru looked up from the steaming pan, and over to the small light where Kenobi sat with her child in his arms. She had showered in the small sonic 'fresher station and got on her old farmer's clothes again. She looked more like the old Beru now, even if she still felt like 'B'.

"...wa..r.."

"Luke?"

"... mmm..."

She left the pan and grabbed a bulb of water from the small rations pile the Jedi had bought with the ship. She rounded the hooded figure and moved the heater out the way to get to her nephew, huddled in his arms. She saw the Jedi's eyes begin to blink open as she brushed blond bangs of hair from the boy's eyes.

"Be..u?" he tried to say her name but couldn't manage it yet.

"I'm here, honey." She smiled a genuine smile and pressed the bulb to his lips. "Relax, okay?" Big blue eyes tried to focus on her and reach a hand out but he didn't have the strength.

"Stay still a while longer, son."

Luke looked up at the voice and seemed surprised to be in the arms of Kenobi, awake now and gently lifting him down. "Ben?"

The Jedi nodded and smiled. "That's right. Stay still now."

With Beru's help they laid him out of the floor, still wrapped in the blanket. Luke blinked tiredly and squirmed a little, but he didn't try to get up. He gritted his teeth as his bruised back hit the floor. Beru saw it and stood up. "I'll get a patch." She said, and walked back into the ship to get the medkit and it's pain suppressors.

Obi-Wan watched her leave in a bustle of skirts, then turned back to the small, dazed figure. "Well, young Luke, you've had a bit of an adventure."

He looked up with that intense gaze of his. "Yeah..." He pouted.

"Didn't like it?" Kenobi tried to keep the hope out of his voice.

Luke pursed his lips in thought and Obi-Wan suppressed a chuckle at the very adult expression. "Well... I guess it was sort of fun," he mused. "Except for..."

He went very pale and Obi-Wan realised those memories had swum back up again.

He placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and channelled a little cooling energy into the boy. He sucked it up greedily and unconsciously as Obi-Wan put compassion in his voice. "Luke, why don't you tell me about it?"

Tears formed in the corners of the boy's eyes and Obi-Wan saw him to try to suppress them. "I...I don't want to."

"Luke, it's not good to keep those feelings all tied up inside." Obi-Wan said, aware of the contrite psychology he was giving the child, but he carried on. "You don't want them to develop into something more. It's okay to hate what happened, but you can't dwell on it."

Not quite true, like a lot of things they told Luke. The reaction wasn't what he expected. The boy got up on an elbow and leaned intently towards the Jedi, brow puckered. "But I don't hate him."

The Jedi looked at the boy. "Who?"

"Ermmm... the man..." He looked confused, a small hand rubbed over his brow. "Tate."

"Who is Tate?"

"The slaver., Luke said, voice very quiet, barely audible.

"He beat you?"

The boy flinched away and an intense look of pain flickered across his face. "Umm-hmm."

"But you don't hate him."

Under the Jedi's intense gaze, the eight-year-old was faltering. "No... I..." He looked at the floor and refused to meet the gaze. "Aunt Beru says you shouldn't hate when..."

"When?"

Beru sat down beside Obi-Wan and he started. He'd been so intent on Luke, he hadn't noticed the woman approach.

"Luke, that man hurt you. It's okay to feel bad about that." Her voice was kindly. She stripped a pain suppressant patch from its flimsiplast back and placed it on Luke's shoulder. He relaxed visibly.

But he did squirm under the Jedi's intense gaze and Obi-Wan felt Beru resist the urge to tell him to leave the boy alone. "But he wasn't bad! I mean... not all bad... I don't think..."

He seemed lost in thought and Beru raised her eyebrows. Obi-Wan grasped Luke's shoulder. "How do you know that? Did he show you kindness?" Was that hope that had crept into his voice?

"No... he hit me. He told me I wasn't a person." His eyes came back up, bright and intense, "But I am a person."

"I know, Luke." Obi-Wan smiled kindly. "Why did you think he wasn't all bad?"

The boy fidgeted, then looked straight up into the man's eyes, not flinching. "I just got the feeling, that's all. He wasn't all..." he was searching for the right word, "darkness."

"You felt that?"

"I... I know it sounds dumb." His hands balled into fists and in the heater's light his blond hair was afire, "But... I just got the feeling...like, you know, you have stars in the night sky, you know?"

Obi-Wan leaned back and stroked his beard thoughtfully. Luke stared at the floor as the memories welled up. Beru moved to his side and hugged him to her, looking up at Obi-Wan with a questioning look on her face. She mouthed 'what?' but Obi-Wan just shook his head. Luke had seen something through the Force, he was sure. Something allowed him to see past the man's actions to his heart. It was a curious extension of the natural empathy the boy often showed. It was something to think about.

Chapter Two

"I think I finally understood why you insisted on him keeping the name 'Skywalker', Obi-Wan." Beru came to the cave entrance and sat on a flat stone rock beside him, staring out at the rising dawn.

"He needs it. It gives him strength," Obi-Wan said, studying her profile. "Is he sleeping?"

She nodded and looked out on the commanding view from the ledge, the sand bathed in the dull morning tones and the first sun beginning to rise with a streak of orange in the distance. "Yes, like a baby."

"I meant Luke."

She cracked a smile at him and he winked back. She shifted on the rock and leaned back against the wall, sighing deeply, hands folded over her stomach. "Obi-Wan, tell me he's going to be okay." She shrugged. "You know, even if you're not sure, just tell me."

He looked over at her again, trying to gauge her expression. "Why?"

She scowled at him, the rising sun blushing her cheeks. "Can't you Jedi ever give a straight answer?"

"You didn't actually ask me a question."

"Hmmm..." She looked away, pursing her lips.

"Beru... he's still a youngling."

"You looked pretty shaken on that canyon top, Obi-Wan. What did you see?" She turned towards him, eyes burning. In the entranceway of the cave, Owen appeared, leaning against the wall with his shoulder.

He sighed. "Just... a very bright light." She looked sceptical. "There are a million different directions his life could go in. Some are good, some are bad. There's no way we can know which it will be, and it would be counterproductive anyway. Luke is a good child. And that thing with... Tate, was it?"

"Yes."

"Well it's a good sign, I believe. I can tell you that. I'm not sure the boy really has a capacity for anything else."

"Not yet," she added for him. He nodded, yet. Anakin had seemed like a good kid, too. "And he's going to keep growing in the Force isn't he?"

"The damn has burst and we haven't even begun to see the flood yet." His eyes took on a very distant look. She scowled at him for being so cryptic. She knew what he meant, though. She starred distantly at the view. "I want to train him," he said.

There was a silence. Then an angry growl from Owen. "Never."

Obi-Wan turned to him slowly. "Owen, if I don't, he'll be completely alone, and confused, and scared. And he'll start discovering what he can do by himself, no guidance." He stood, cloak behind him, putting all the strength inherent in a Jedi Master into his stance. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?" His eyes were burning with memories.

Owen stared back stonily. "You're not training him, he's far too young."

"The Jedi train from infants-"

"You, alone, are not the Jedi." Owen's own eyes were set. "And besides, look at what a mess they made!" Owen's hands were folded determinately over his chest. "No. That will always be the answer Kenobi - No."

Obi-Wan looked at the floor. Owen would never budge on that point. Never. The man had come to Obi-Wan when he needed help, when this mess had started, because he needed to protect the child. And he was still trying to protect the boy. This time from the Jedi and all the pains his father had suffered from the Force.

There would be no move on this. Owen was as vehemently opposed to training Luke as he was to letting Vader get his hands on him.

As it had been when the child was born and delivered to the Lar's, so it was now.

No training. No Force. No Jedi.

And Obi-Wan couldn't leave the child alone in the Force. It was far too cruel. He sighed. "Then I suppose I haven't got any choice."

"What do you mean?" The man attempted to tower over him, ready to defend his nephew. Obi-Wan smiled grimly.

"I can't leave him so open." He looked up at Owen, then at Beru, quiet and scared in the corner. "I'm going to have to cut his connection to the Force until he's ready."

Silence.

Owen glowered, Beru studied her hands.

"He'll never be trained, Kenobi. Only over my dead body."

The Jedi Master's eyes came up. "Owen, when the Force decides it is time, neither you nor I nor the entire Imperial Navy will be able to prevent him from discovering himself."

Under the certainty in his eyes, Owen shifted uncomfortably. "Can you do that? Cut his connection?"

"Not completely. But I can suppress his memories a little, and build back those barriers that he broke through," he said, not entirely certain he could, but not having much choice. The very idea of it went against everything Obi-Wan believed in but..."I'll give him his childhood back. Will you let me?"

Owen's eyes shot up menacingly. "As if you really need our permission," he growled.

The old resentment was back. The old hatred of Obi-Wan and his kind. The danger was all but over, and now Owen was falling back in his old ways. Obi-Wan turned to Beru. "If you ask me not to, I won't. But it will be hard on Luke, very hard."

She stared at him for a long time, glanced at her husband once, and nodded.

"Do it."

---

"Hi Luke, how you feeling?"

"Good."

The boy was lying and Obi-Wan knew it as he sat on the edge of the bunk. "That's great. We'll get you back to the farm soon." Obi-Wan reached into his cloak and pulled out a small tube.

"What's that?" Luke asked, staring at it.

"This? This is something which will get that band off your wrist." He said, and held out his hand toward the boy. "May I see it?"

Luke nodded and held out his right wrist, showing the strip of plastic firmly attached to the skin there, frowning at it. Obi-Wan saw it. "You're right Luke, never forget your name. It's a big part of you." He squeezed out the clear solution and spread it over the edges of the band. The solvent would dissolve the glue. Hopefully.

"I know. Father wouldn't have wanted me to give in."

Obi-Wan glanced up at that but said nothing. "Hopefully this should come off without any marks. Certainly you won't be scarred for life." He smiled, and Luke looked relieved, but suddenly as he held the boy's right wrist, something ran through him that made him shiver violently.

"What's wrong?" Luke sat bolt upright and looked at the man.

Obi-Wan looked down at his hand around Luke's arm and forced himself to accept the premonition he had felt.

It won't scar for life because you won't have that hand for life...

He forced down another shiver at the certainty. The Force was rarely definite about the future, but this seemed to be such a strong feeling - that whatever path Luke took, he would not have his right hand forever.

Many cultures place the Light side of the person in the right hand, and the Dark in the left hand. Is loosing the right symbolic of something?

He shook the thoughts away. "Nothing, I'm just a little chilly. How about you?"

"No, I-"

"Ahh, here we go." He slipped the band off Luke's hand after slitting in open with a vibroblade and looked at it. "I suggest you keep this Luke. Remember who you are, and more importantly, who you are not."

He placed it aside and Luke nodded seriously. Obi-Wan smiled at that and went to put the solvent away.

"You got a burn in your cloak."

He turned to the young boy. "Pardon?"

"You got a burn." He pointed at the cloaks side, "Right there, see?"

Obi-Wan looked down and saw a charred blaster burn in the material. He frowned at it. "So I have." Chink in your armour, Obi-Wan?

He looked at Luke. the boy's cheeks had more colour in them now, his lips full again. He was smiling sheepishly. The Jedi's heart fell at what he had to do, at what he was about to deny the boy. He looked so full of Light, bathed in the Force. It was attracted to him, and he was attracted to it. And Obi-Wan had to sever that link.

He took a deep breath.

"You going to get a new one?" Luke asked.

"Yes, Luke."

He sat on the edge of the bed and ruffled the unruly mop of blonde hair, eliciting a grin from the boy. "I can't believe I slept through the flight out." Luke pouted. "Bet it was good."

Obi-Wan just smiled. "Luke, I need you to relax a little now, sleep so you heal some more," he said. The boy looked confused.

"I'm fine, really."

"You will be, Luke, I know. Just lay back and get some sleep." There was Jedi suggestion in the words and Luke complied, lying back against the bunk.

The Jedi Master pulled up a chair and placed his palm on Luke's forehead, his hand covering the whole of the small child's brow.

He eased him into a light trance. "I'm sorry Luke. They're just trying to protect you. Maybe, one day, you'll understand."

---

Luke leaned forward in the co-pilot seat as Obi-Wan brought the ship into a slow glide over the outskirts of the Lars' moisture farm. Obi-Wan glanced at him. He was still enigmatic, but he now longer shone with such a brilliance, he was just a small but intense flame. Like he was on 'stand by'.

The Jedi felt a pang of guilt at what he'd have to do, but he knew it was the best solution. Luke would grow up like a normal child, and he knew Beru and Owen would do their best for the boy, but to deny him his natural progression in the Force...

"Look! There!" Luke leaned forward in the seat, staring through a pair of macrobinoculars he had found stashed away. The kid hadn't left them alone, he was always looking, observing.

In the distance, you could just make out the small homestead.

Beru came forward and ran a critical eye over the child. He was going to be fine. The bruises would fade, as would the memories, especially under Obi-Wan's mental suggestions.

"What's that?" She frowned out the window as smoke could be seen billowing from a distant 'vaporator. "Focus in on that."

"I got it!" Luke said, looking through the binoculars. He bit his lip. "It's a wreck..." he said.

Then their home came into view and Beru put her hand over her mouth. Obi-Wan looked, and saw the destruction there. "Owen!" She called and leaned forward.

"What happened?" Luke whispered, wide eyed.

---

Luke charged down the landing ramp of Ben's sleek, beautiful ship, barely noticing it as his feet hit the sand. He was compelled forward to the smouldering homestead, even as Beru appeared at the ramp, tears in her eyes, hair and skirts blowing around her, calling him back.

He didn't stop, he couldn't. He ran forward and slowed above the sunken courtyard, seeing the broken possessions littering it in small, slagged pieces. He barely even noticed the stiffness in his muscles or the way screwing his face up in horror pulled on the bacta patch across that big ugly bruise on his temple.

He stared around bleakly, nearly dropping the macrobinoculars where he had them clutched in his small hand.

But, my home...

The wind lifted his hair in a hot gust and blew it around as he turned back to the ship and threw his aunt and uncle a stricken look. She just looked sad and his uncle was flushing bright red with anger at the sight. Beru turned away as Luke turned back to their home.

Even he knew this was bad. Everything they had worked for destroyed. A cold sadness settled over him and he sat down heavily in the sand.

---

Obi-Wan stared at the destruction; Beru wandered around as if lost. Was it the Imperials? No – there were bantha tracks, single file.

"Looks like sand people raided whilst you were gone." He glanced up as Owen looked around the land, squinting.

The Jedi had set the ship down with a plume of sand and grit, near to the homestead. Luke was sat in the sand a way off, letting it trickle through his fingers, head bowed. For once, the sun wasn't shining here, and Obi-Wan felt the intense sadness from the small family.

"Sand people..." Owen growled. With the Imperial threat, he had never stopped to consider the indigenous dangers of Tatooine. He shook his head sadly, staring at the smoke and durasteel hunks that had once been their precious 'vaporators. "It's all gone..."

Luke turned from the homestead, his back to the destruction, looking back at the ship and the two men stood side by side, stricken, wind blowing his hair around him. Pain and sadness were radiating off the small child.

This was not good. He had meant to return the family to their old life, hoping things would continue as they had for the past eight years. At least give Luke a decent upbringing. "What are you going to do?" Obi-Wan asked quietly.

Owen's shoulders shivered. "I don't know," he admitted. For once the hate was not directed towards the Jedi.

Obi-Wan turned to him as the boy looked down sadly at the ground. "I'm going back to Mos Espa. I'm going to sell the ship, I have no need of it anyway."

Beru looked at him with grief in her eyes for their past life.

"Yoda gave me that money to look after Luke. I'll give you what I get for the ship."

Owen turned to stare at him, wanting to thank him for the gesture, unsure of what to say. "I... thank you."

Obi-Wan shook his head and sat on the sandy ground. "The money was meant for Luke, and the best we can give him right now is a decent childhood. And that means rebuilding the farm."

"Thank you." Beru sat next to him. "That means a lot."

Not enough, though. Not enough for you to trust me with training him. And I don't blame you.

"I don't know if we can repay you."

"Just bring the boy up the way you have been doing, that's payment enough. You've shown me I made a good choice in giving Luke to you. We'll deal with the future when it comes."

Luke looked over at them and smiled weakly, got to his feet, and ran to join them.

Epilogue

Obi-Wan walked slowly and calmly away from the building. The ship was sold, the Imperials had gone, and that just left one small detail.

He mentally counted down the seconds as he walked away from the building, very aware that he was destroying a last link to a rocky and troubled passed. And glad of it.

Obi-Wan lifted the cowl of his new homespun cloak as the explosion blossomed behind him, the thermodetonator taking out the slaver's warehouse in a rapidly expanding fireball that hid his face in shadow.

Not incidentally, it also slagged the aging podracer hidden inside.

Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi shrouded himself in the long dark material, hiding himself behind the visage of an old, crazy wizard.

The explosion died and Ben Kenobi was born.

At least temporarily.

For the sake of Balance.

For the sake of a small, disarming young boy.

Fin.

The Lars rebuilt their farm within a season with the money given by Obi-Wan, the work proving a good distraction for Luke when Beru finally declared him fit. In the manner of eight-year-olds, the memories of that week faded into an adventure.

Beru asked Owen not to call her 'B' anymore.

Owen forbade Luke from mentioning 'Ben' again for fear of reawakening the Force talent inside him.

Luke found it anyway, over time. And Owen continued to despair at the small miracles that occurred from time to time. Luke also dreamt constantly of piloting that strange podracer he had stumbled across.

Obi-Wan saw the boy occasionally, although never by Owen's intentions. Their relationship soured further when Obi-Wan wanted to give the boy his father's lightsaber on his tenth birthday. There was to be no mention of that damned old wizard in that house again.