Author's Note: Here it is, another Anakin/Han fic -- a one-shot, this time, though, intead of forty chapters. Hope you enjoy, and please review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars. It belongs to George Lucas.
Dedication: To all the people who stuck with me throughout Imperial! I love you all, and please accept this fic as part of all the apologies I gave for being late with an update!
"A word spoken by chance might have strange consequences." – Edward Field
"Is it always this crowded?" thirteen-year-old Anakin Skywalker grumbled as he wriggled through a sea of bodies to the door of the small cafe Obi-Wan had directed him to. "Because if it is, I'm going to hate this mission."
Obi-Wan Kenobi, his hand buried in the back of Anakin's robes in an attempt not to lose his young Padawan, replied, "It's a celebration, I think. It should be cleared out by tomorrow."
"Should be," Anakin mocked darkly before adding with a huff, "And we couldn't wait one more day before landing?" He thankfully shoved the door open.
The Twi'lek girl at the counter didn't even look up at them; she was too busy staring wistfully out at the riot. The only other customer, a human woman with a sleeping infant, gave them a long, curious look, but didn't say anything.
"Because we said we would arrive today," Obi-Wan answered, untangling his fingers from Anakin's tunic only to grasp the boy's shoulder and guide him to an empty booth.
"Why did we say that?" Anakin asked pointedly.
Obi-Wan sighed. "Because I am a stupid man who didn't bother to do any research before we left Coruscant, that's why," he said tiredly, but with more than a hint of sarcasm. "It's all my fault."
Anakin smirked slightly. "At least you admit it." He let his head fall back against the back of the booth. "I'm bored."
"Would you like to go back out into the street?" Obi-Wan asked. "This is Corellia, remember – whatever else it may be, it won't be boring."
"No, just hot, annoying, claustrophopic . . ." He lifted his head to glare at Obi-Wan.
"You forgot dangerous," the older man pointed out mildly.
Anakin snorted and let his head fall again. "I don't care about dangerous," he informed Obi-Wan, "although being trampled into the ground isn't that appealing to me right now."
"Some other time, then," Obi-Wan replied lightly. Anakin was exceptionally cranky today, and there would be no arguing with him.
Anakin frowned. "Why are we here again?"
"To act as judges. It's routine, an agreement we've had with Corellia for centuries. Most Master-Padawan teams take a turn. It'll be good for you; it's an excellent way to learn justice."
"I'll try not to fall asleep, then," Anakin retorted sardonically.
"Please do," said Obi-Wan dryly.
The baby across the room began to cry. Anakin turned to look as the mother lifted him out of his carrier and shushed him, rubbing his back soothingly.
Suddenly, Anakin stood up and headed over to their booth.
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan hissed. He was blatantly ignored, and he gritted his teeth in frustration. Would the child ever learn to listen?
Or relearn, as it were. Anakin had listened perfectly until he'd hit adolescence.
Obi-Wan rubbed his temples and sighed. A nap sounded really good right about now.
"Hi," Anakin said as he sat down across from the woman. "I'm Anakin Skywalker."
She eyed him. "Jedi Padawan, right?" she asked with a slight smile.
Anakin liked her smile – she had dimples. "Yeah. The old fossil over there is Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"I heard that!" Obi-Wan shot back from across the room, voice muffled by his arms.
Anakin grinned. "He's my Master."
Her smile widened with his. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Anakin. And you too, Obi-Wan!" she called over to the other table. Obi-Wan raised his head and grinned sheepishly, moving over to join them.
"I'm Jaina Solo," the woman introduced herself. "And this is my son, Han," she added proudly, shifting the baby in her arms so that they could see him more clearly.
Anakin reached across the table. "Hey, Han Solo," he said softly, smiling as he offered the child a finger to grab. Han eyed him dispassionately for a moment, then snatched Anakin's whole fist in both of his tiny hands with a squeal and attempted to drag it to his mouth.
Anakin's eyes widened in surprise, and Jaina laughed. "I think he likes you."
"Well, I like him, too," Anakin replied, slightly shy. "He's really kind of cute."
"Would you like to hold him?" Jaina offered.
Anakin's look was comical. "I've never held a baby before."
"Then it's high time you did," she told him firmly. "Come here."
Anakin rounded the table and sat beside Jaina and Han, leaving Obi-Wan alone on the other side of the table.
"Now," Jaina instructed, "when I pass him to you, let him lie along your left forearm, and rest his head in the crook of your right elbow, with your right arm wrapped around him, like this, see? Hold him close, you'll be fine." She held the baby out to him.
Anakin took him awkwardly, holding him like Jaina had shown him. Han pursed his lips, as if he didn't think much of Anakin's baby-holding skills, but he didn't cry out and he never took his gaze off Anakin's face.
"He's so little," Anakin said, enchanted.
Jaina chuckled. "You know, some cultures consider it lucky to be blessed by a Jedi," she commented, a twinkle in her eyes.
Anakin looked at her. "I can bless him? Really? You want me to?"
"Sure," Jaina said. "It'll be a great story to tell him when he's older."
Anakin looked down at the little person in his arms in awe. He wasn't sure he believed in blessings the way Jaina said some people did, but just in case . . . "May I walk with him?" he asked. "Just around in here, I mean. I think better when I'm moving, and I need to think of something really good."
Jaina smiled. "Sure, go ahead. But be careful. You might want to put his head on your shoulder, hold him upright, like . . ."
She helped Anakin move Han into a more comfortable position, then watched as he gently stood up and moved away. "You've go a good kid there, Obi-Wan," she said to the other Jedi with a smile.
Obi-Wan smiled slightly in return. "I know." He paused for a moment, then kept going. "About the blessing –"
Jaina waved him off. "Oh, what can it hurt?"
"You realize it's unlikely to, ah, do anything. Work. Come true. Whatever."
She gave him a look. "That's not the point."
They were quiet for several minutes, watching Anakin walk around the small cafe. Han's head was tucked under his chin, and Anakin's eyes were downcast as he watched the baby.
Finally, he walked back over to the booth and sat down beside Jaina. He handed Han to her, then reached out to genty grasp the child's tiny fist. Locking eyes with Han, he took a deep breath and began.
"May you know peace and happiness. May you find both true love and eternal friendship. May you have something to fight for and believe in. May you have strength of character, as well as of body, with a will of durasteel and a free spirit. May you die an old, content man. And may you make your mom proud." He looked up at Jaina for approval.
She smiled. "That was incredible, Anakin. Thank you." She kissed her son's forehead. "You'll make a wonderful father one day," she added.
Obi-Wan stiffened; Anakin's face fell. "Actually," he said softly, "Jedi aren't allowed to have families."
"Oh." Jaina blinked, looking between Anakin and Obi-Wan in surprise. "Well . . . I'm very sorry to hear that."
"We don't mind," Obi-Wan said quickly. "There are always younglings about the Temple, we all raise them – we're really just a larger than normal family . . ."
Jaina frowned slightly but shrugged. "You'll never be able to convince me that there is anything better than having a child of your own, but hey, if that's how you feel . . ."
Obi-Wan grinned at Anakin. "This imp is the closest I'll ever have to a child, but trust me – he's more than enough." Anakin just wrinkled his nose at him.
"Hey, as long as you're happy," Jaina said as Han started to wail. "He's hungry. I'd better go feed him."
Obi-Wan stood as Anakin moved out of Jaina's way. "We'd better go, too. We need to check in at the courthouse."
"Is it safe?" Anakin craned his neck to peer out into the darkening street.
"Safer than it was. May the Force be with you and Han, Jaina."
"And with you two. Bye!" She waved as they left, a bottle for Han in her hand.
"That was fun!" Anakin exclaimed as they walked up the street. "Jaina's awesome, and the baby was pretty sweet, too. Did you know all that stuff about Jedi blessings? No one ever mentioned it to me; I kind of had to make it up as I went – how I bestowed it or whatever, I mean, because I had no idea –"
"Anakin," Obi-Wan interrupted, "you do realize that the blessing doesn't really mean anything?"
Anakin huffed. "Well, aren't you a spoilsport! But mark my words, Master, that little boy is gonig to be important, one day. I can feel it."
"I know, I know! Force, Master, do you always have to ruin my fun?"
"I don't –"
"You know what?" Anakin threw up his hands. "Forget it. Forget it all. Forget Jaina. Forget Han. Forget the blessing and the cafe – damn it, forget the whole stupid celebration! In the morning, it'll be as if nothing ever happened." He lengthened his stride and stalked away.
"Anakin, I didn't mean –"
"Forget it, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan winced. He hadn't realized that Anakin would react so badly to a simple warning. He had only been trying to make sure his Padawan didn't get his hopes up over something foolish. Obi-Wan himself had been taught the same thing. Why was Anakin so sensitive and rebellious over it? Shaking his head, he set off after the young teenager.
Anakin was seething. Blessing Han Solo had made him feel so good, like he was actually making a difference in the galaxy. He knew perfectly well the blessing may not work, but that didn't matter. It was the thought that counted, right? But then Obi-Wan had to go and insist it didn't mean a thing.
Well, if that's the way he wanted it, then that's the way it would be. He's forget it, like he's told Obi-Wan to. He'd just . . . forget it.
And he'd never look back.
Thirty Years Later
Darth Vader sat in his hyperbaric chamber, stripped of his armour and still slightly in shock, a datapad in hand.
I have a son.
I have a son.
I have a son!
He had only just discovered the boy. His name was Luke, and Vader wanted to know everything about him. He would turn twenty later this year, on Empire Day. He had been raised on Tatooine – that fact made Vader's lip curl. Obi-Wan had died far too slowly, and with far too many secrets.
Luke had been the one to destroy the Death Star. His closest friends were Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan and a smuggler – who had not only broken the smugglers' policy of neutrality but was also wanted by Jabba the Hutt – named Han Solo.
Han Solo. The name tickled his memory, but he picture on the datapad showed him a stranger's face.
He tried saying the name aloud, to see if it would help his memory, but it only served to increase the insistent feeling of familiarity. He growled low in his throat. The one time he actually wanted to access Anakin's memories . . .
Vader shoved Han Solo fom his mind. What importance was the man to him? He was just a companion of his son's.
Speaking of his son –
Vader lowered his eyes to the datapad and continued reading.