AUTHOR'S NOTE Takes place after Luke and Mara's baby is born, so sometime during the New Jedi Order? I don't know – I was so upset that Chewie died in the first book of that set that I never read it. I just know that they have a baby boy and they name him Ben. I'm usually not a Luke/Mara shipper, but this plot bunny's been nipping at my heels for a while. There's one reference to Heir to the Empire, book one of the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn.
DISCLAIMER Don't own any of them. Sigh.
Cars and transports rushed by outside, but the thick transparasteel windows kept the spacious Coruscant apartment calm and quiet. A piercing wail broke the peaceful silence and two sleeping forms rolled over with groans.
"I could swear that I was just up with him," Mara Jade Skywalker grumbled. "What time is it?"
Luke Skywalker checked the holo on his side of the bed. "4:30. Go back to sleep, love. I'll check on him."
Mara smiled gratefully. Luke swung his legs over the side of the bed and ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair. As he got up, he felt a gentle caress through the Force from his half-asleep wife. Luke smiled and headed for the nursery.
As he approached, he reached out through the Force toward his infant son to reassure him that he was coming. "Hey," he said softly when he reached the doorway. "Hey there, little guy. Don't worry, Daddy's here."
The big blue eyes that looked up at him were no longer tear-filled when Luke reached the crib. "Daddy's here," he repeated. He lifted the baby boy to his shoulder and carried him to a rocking chair by the window. The baby quieted as Luke rocked him gently, humming a song that his Aunt Beru had sung to him long ago.
A bottle floated slowly through the doorway, carried by the Force into Luke's waiting hand. He tested the temperature, then offered the bottle to his eager son. "There you go," Luke said softly. "That's better, isn't it?"
His son curled his tiny hand around one of Luke's fingers, smiling around the sides of the bottle as he looked up at his father's matching blue eyes. Luke smiled back. "You were pretty hungry, weren't you?" he asked. "I don't know why. You were up with your mommy less than two hours ago. If you're not careful, you'll start to get fat just like your Uncle Han."
He laughed quietly at his own joke, very glad that his proud brother-in-law did not hear his jest. Han was very sensitive about the fact that he was aging.
The baby finished his bottle and looked up contentedly at his father, gurgling happily. "Not sleepy yet?" Luke asked. He shifted the baby to his other arm and relaxed. "Okay then."
They rocked silently for a while. Luke gently stroked the baby's reddish-blonde hair with his real hand. "It's a good thing your hair looks like that," he whispered with a grin. "Otherwise you wouldn't look a thing like your mom. She wouldn't like that at all!"
"He does look very much like you when you were a baby."
Luke's eyes widened and he looked up sharply at the shimmering ghostly figure in the corner. A faint blue light outlined the old man's white hair and long brown robes. He smiled as Luke opened and closed his mouth several times in shock. "Obi-Wan?" he finally asked.
The spectral old Jedi chuckled. "Luke, I haven't seen you look that surprised since the first time you turned on your father's lightsaber."
Luke continued to stare the form of his long-dead master. His son, noticing that Luke had stopped stroking his hair, let out an unhappy cry. The sound snapped Luke out of his shock and he said again, "Obi-Wan?"
Obi-Wan sat in a chair on the other side of the window and grinned. "Yes, yes. It's me."
"But…how?" Luke was finally able to ask. "The last time I saw you, you told me that you could never come back. That was over fifteen years ago!"
Sighing, Obi-Wan leaned his translucent form back into the chair. "There is much about the Force that even I do not understand." Luke looked at his curiously as he grinned and added, "No human can ever know, even when they are a part of it."
Luke could think of nothing to say. The baby lying in his arms looked up with wide blue eyes as the old Jedi stood up and knelt down before them. "Hello there," Obi-Wan said softly. "Who is this little one?"
"This is my son," Luke said proudly. "Ben Skywalker."
"Ben Skywalker?" Obi-Wan repeated, his voice hoarse.
For the first time, Luke saw the old Jedi at a loss for words. He smiled. "Does he really look like I did as a baby?"
"Oh, yes, very much so." Obi-Wan smiled at the memory.
Luke looked down, focusing intently on Ben. "And," he asked hesitantly. "Did Leia look like me when we were born?"
A pang of regret stabbed at Obi-Wan, as he could hear in Luke's voice how desperate he was to know about his past. "Yes. You both looked alike."
eagerly at his old mentor. "And can you tell me who's
Obi-Wan had to laugh. "A question that has been plaguing you for some time, young Luke?" Luke nodded vigorously. "Very well. You are older than your sister, but only by a minute or so. Hardly enough for you to hold over Leia's head."
Luke smiled ruefully. "I think the days of sibling rivalry have long passed us by."
The spirit nodded sadly. "Yes, I suppose so." He turned his attention back to little Ben, who watched the exchange with interest. "I do not understand where the red in his hair comes from. Not even your parents had red hair."
Luke longed to hear all of Obi-Wan's stories about his mother and about his father before he fell to the Dark Side, but he could sense that his friend's time was drawing to a close. "My wife has red hair," he explained.
"And who is young Ben's mother?"
Luke hesitated before answering, "Mara Jade."
Obi-Wan frowned. "There's something familiar about that name. Is she strong in the Force?"
"Very," Luke said.
The spirit shrugged and faded just a shade. "The Force is shifting again, Luke. I must go."
"Wait!" Luke said suddenly.
"Before you go, I…" He trailed off and stood with his son in his arms. "I just want Ben to really meet you."
Obi-Wan frowned. "I'm not sure I understand."
"He was named after you," Luke said softly. "After Ben Kenobi. The closest thing to a father I had."
Obi-Wan smiled wistfully. "Your father was as my brother, Luke, and you were as my son. To have your son be named after me as you knew me brings me great joy. Thank you."
Luke nodded. "May the Force be with you, my friend."
"And with you, Luke. Always."
Then he was gone. Luke and Ben looked at each other for a moment before Luke carried him into his and Mara's bedroom. "I think you can sleep the rest of the night in here."
Ben smiled as Luke laid him in a bassinette in the corner. Mara stirred sleepily as Luke climbed into bed beside her. "Is everything okay?" she murmured. "I felt something strange."
"Everything's fine, love," Luke whispered in her ear.
"Why is Ben in here? Is he okay?"
Luke smiled as he imagined what Emperor Palpatine would say if he could see his Hand fretting over a baby. "Ben is fine. I'll explain everything in the morning."
She was asleep within moments and Luke not long after. But he was awake long enough to feel a presence come and blanket the room with peace. "Good night, Ben," he whispered.