When the boy's little he follows Beru around like a shadow -- and what scares Owen, what scares the hell out of him, is how quiet he is. For the first year he won't listen to Kenobi's stories, won't listen to Kenobi at all, but he hears the news and rumors anyway.
When he wakes up in the middle of the night, nightmares full of quiet, watchful sandsnakes flit away half-forgotten. He smooths his sleeping wife's hair and goes to check on the boy. Regular escape artist, that kid.
Kenobi comes by sometimes, maybe as often as he dares. Owen would shiver if he were a more superstitious man, but he's practical -- too damn practical -- and no notion of clinging spirits and memories like black shadows run through his mind.
Then the boy turns three and finally starts to wander away from Beru's watchful gaze. Owen scoops him up under one arm and tells him to stay away from the landspeeders until he's old enough to be useful.
He gets a resigned sort of look in return, as if the boy's seen worse than an off-limits landspeeder and this tribulation, too, shall pass sooner or later. And Owen thinks of Shmi and sits down hard on the gritty floor of the garage, and for a moment he's overwhelmed by the weight of it all.
Then he collects himself, because there's no sense in getting worked up about what he can't change. "C'mon," he says as he climbs to his feet, and Luke blinks curiously at him and snuggles against his shoulder.
The next time Kenobi shows up, he gets told he's not welcome. And the next time. And the next.
Eventually he takes the hint.
Luke isn't quiet now -- damn boy can't shut up sometimes, can't he go chatter at Beru -- and he's started asking questions. Owen wonders if all six-year-olds attach the word "why" to everything, just to teach their elders' patience.
"How come I've got a different name than you do?" the boy asks, blue eyes peeking over a pile of tools.
"Because it was your father's name," Owen says. He doesn't say grandmother, or that somehow everything that was soft and forgiving in Shmi skipped over her son and went right to Luke. But he does realize he's going to have to come up with a story one of these days.
He sits up late with Beru and comes up with something plausible and respectable. Neither of them suggests telling Kenobi.
That night he dreams that Luke is smiling up a krayt dragon and that for all his struggles, he can't reach the boy in time to save him.
The last time Kenobi comes by the farm, Owen sends the boy out to Tosche Station. He knows he'll come home just at sunset, face wind-reddened from racing around Beggar's Canyon with the Darklighters' boy, and he promises himself that next time, next time he'll lock the landspeeder up and find Luke some good honest work. The boy's seventeen now. Idle dreams never did any good.
"He'll want to leave soon," Kenobi says. "You should have changed his name. It's too dangerous."
Owen scowls at him and doesn't tell the Jedi that Luke smiles like his grandmother did -- that if he stays at home just a year longer, just for another season, maybe he can chase the shadows out of him. He deserves the name. Anakin won't take that away from him.
"Get off my farm," he says instead.
Kenobi leaves. Owen doesn't watch him go. He has work to do and a reckless boy to deal with later, and he knows better than to change things out of his reach.
Owen Lars is going to die tomorrow.
He turns over in his sleep, and memory-dreams of Luke fading away in the light of rising suns vanish like sand slipping through his fingers.