Title: Comfort
Rating: r (Erring on the side of caution), for 'themes'
Catagory: O/f, POV
Disclaimathon: I own nothing. Leave me alone.
Spoilers: Ep3 and 4
Summary: General!Obi/Military!Beru. Beru ponders a bit in the desert.



*****

I was the only thing he brought with him to this desert world. Myself and a single travelling container. I'm not sure which of these objects he cares for more.

I volunteered, of course. As I have always done, as I have been trained so well to do. I can fake an offer of help so convincingly that sometimes I even decieve myself. He had asked me that last night as I lay by his side, trying to fall asleep and being kept awake the uncertainty and trepidation that my particular section of the remains of the Republic military felt perhaps deeper than the others. We had transferrable skills, of course, we could serve the Empire as easily as we had the Republic. (The pilots here, I knew, now spent anxious hours poring over TIE-Fighter schematics.) But we had also had access to the chain of command, to sensitive information. We weren't even sure that the Republic would let us go with the others after the surrender, despite their assurances. Rumours had a lot of weight in those final days.

He asked me though, that night. Quietly, hesitently. At the time I had wondered if he was trying to tell me something, something he'd heard whispered...as I said, rumours had weight. He'd had some travel papers made, I would have a new identity. We'd go to...well, somewhere safe...we'd leave in the morning, a few hours before the war officially ended. The security would increase in the hours immediately after the Empire's victory, to make sure no one tried to slip away into the ether. Like we were going to.

I did what anyone would have done. I told him I didn't want to go if he didn't want me to. I'd be a liability, I argued, I'd take my chances with everyone else. I knew this strategy was a risk - he might well agree with me. But I felt certain I knew him, how he'd react. I'd worked with him for a long time, after all. He brushed a lock of hair back from my forehead, silently holding eye contact for long moments. He started to say something, then seemed to reconsider. Silence again. Finally he just said;

"Please?"

*****

We settled in this desert after a few months of constant movement, dodging Imperial purges and the occasional bounty hunter chasing an expensive tip-off. He dealt with them all, one way or another.

People don't ask too many questions here, if they did the local economy would collapse overnight. I asked him once if that was why we were here, he mumbled something I didn't catch and told me that the boy was getting sleepy.

The boy is my reason for being here, I am now convinced. He turned up a month after we got here, a prearranged arrival. Ben - as he has been since the morning we fled (Oh yes, fled. No reason to try and make it seem heroic, for either of us) - dumped the baby into my arms and told me that the child was my sister's and that we were looking after him because she already had seven children. (He made my imaginary sister rather feckless, I feel.)

He knows about Owen. He's never said anything directly - on those few occasions when I haven't returned until morning he's merely asked if I has spent the night somewhere safe, if I was alright. When I assured him I was fine, he nodded and changed the subject. The only trace of disapproval being a deliberate comment during the day about Luke seeming a little under the weather. I'm to stay for the child, it seems, if not for my General.

I think he had got used to having me to himself. Oh, I had spent my nights with him during the war, but he always knew that I was simply doing what I was paid for, despite what he might have preferred to believe. It disconcerted him, so used to reading others, that he could never be sure whether my pleasure was real or acted for his benefit. I had been trained to deal with telepaths far more powerful than him, and he could never be entirely certain that what I was projecting was genuine. At least here he felt reasonably certain I wouldn't be staying if I didn't want to - where else would I go? The Empire? I'd heard too many stories about what had happened to my fellow "comfort workers" (even the Republic's normally considerable talent for euphemism was taxed by that one) to be willing to take my chances there. Oh yes, Ben wasn't being entirely stupid when he chose to take me with him. He knew I would never be able to turn him in without endangering myself.

I could still leave, of course, work is easy to find in this depopulated galaxy. (I managed to get the casualty figures out of him one night when he couldn't sleep, 200 million in a single standard month was his most conservative estimate. And this was early on, before any of the major battles, before famine and pestilence had struck the civilian populations.) I don't even have to travel far, Owen has made it clear that there's plenty of room for myself and Luke over at his farm. He keeps asking me why I stay with a "husband" I so blatantly don't love. He tells me I should leave while Luke's still young enough not to notice. I make excuses about duty.

Duty was what brought me to my General in the beginning. An appointment politely made and followed up with such regularity that I was eventually moved into his quarters. It never escaped his attention that whoever lived with a General was afforded the same comforts as one. At least in the Outer Rim he knows comfort is not among my reasons for staying.

One day, I suspect, I'll just go. I'll tell Ben where I'm going and he'll look at me and give me one of his silent nods and watch me leave...ah, I really have planned this, haven't I? I think I deserve to plan ahead a little after a lifetime at the whims of others. I followed my General halfway across the galaxy, duty mixing with self-preservation. He could call me his own as long those ties remained.

But I'm not in the military any more.