Title: Precious Things
Era: Post-Legacy of the Force
Spoilers: Through the LOTF books.
Note: I posted this on my LiveJournal a few weeks ago because I was tired of sitting on it. It is NOT Luke/Leia ... it is Luke and Leia. See the difference? Ha ha.
Summary: Things don't ever stay the way they are ... but for the Skywalker twins, it's getting a little ridiculous.
"So," he said, the wind throwing his hair into disarray and her heart squeezing at the glimmer of the boyishness he'd lost so long ago.
"So," she agreed.
(There were other, better things she could've said but the war had taken her words away; verbicide, she thought, went hand in hand with the other spoils.)
The quiet felt good to her too-full, bleeding mind and she knew he felt exactly the same.
She looked over. "You cheat."
In the past, he would've laughed. His smile was weak. "You're easy to read." To me, he added silently, and his thoughts stroked her mind, indenting where he pressed. The whisper was loud, and they weren't speaking in words so much as interpreting the color of their thoughts. What are you doing here? he was half-saying.
(Maybe the war took his words, too.)
My son … your wife.
My wife … your son.
She knew that wasn't truly what they were mourning, because they weren't able to mourn those losses yet. Those were bedrock, ingrained, fully-and-totally-and-completely-impossible-and-we-shouldn't-be-thinking-of-them-yet kinds of losses.
Like organ failure on a massive scale, though the heart and the lungs and the brain survive, and so emotional vegetation becomes the only way out. They were familiar with the concept.
"Ben is healing." He grimaced. "Redemption used to be so healing for me, too."
Tahiri, she thought.
"Yeah." He shifted. Sitting on the ledge, cold durasteel under him, he looked like a petulant boy. She felt like a part of a not-yet-taken holograph; they would be fifty-five years younger, both of them, and she'd grab his hand, and this messy business of war and death would be ahead of them somewhere in that nebulous someday maybe.
They hadn't known each other at five years old.
History was cold sometimes.
She kicked her feet, idly watching the traffic pass beneath their shoes, the ledge where they sat so high she could see over some of the lower-rise buildings. For anyone but them, the famed Skywalker twins, it'd be suicide to sit so far out from the safety railing.
It'd been their favorite place to see each other just after she'd married Han. They had a routinely bad habit of hiding from people out here; escapism was a valuable asset when you were a pariah and a martyr and a goddamned hero, and who better to escape to than the person who knew absolutely everything already? I never wanted him to have to redeem anyone.
She agreed, her lips pressed tightly together. "Welcome to the family, Ben," she said.
His mind flashed through his many slain enemies, a stack of gore that seemed entirely too large to belong to such a good man, and there Ben stood, the slow, thick stream of blood sliding beneath the toe of his careworn GAG boot.
Ben's head tilted to the side, and his brilliant blue eyes closed.
Then it switched, and Ben's face was now feminine but hard, and he was Jaina. Her Jaina, her girl, her only daughter, now her only child, who looked at the blood at her feet and motioned with her hands, blood pouring from under the sleeves of her robe, her eyes terrified as they looked at her hands, and all Leia wanted to do was pull her away. But the floor was wet and it was hard to swallow with the sweet, decayed odor of the dead permeating absolutely everything.
"Ah," Luke said, and Leia knew he'd seen. The Jedi Code flashed before his – and therefore, her – eyes, and his lips betrayed what he was trying not to say. "For the good of the galaxy."
Indeed. "Jaina was lost a long time ago," she said, meaning every word, "If you believe in destiny."
Makes you doubt it, doesn't it? Yes.
She breathed in the fresh air. Coruscant was an ugly place, seedy and manipulative, and it would stab you in the back if you let it. But the air was so filtered, so sterilized, that it tasted safe. She breathed deeply of sanitizers and chlor-nixed night air, until she heard his voice again.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it."
He sighed. "If it had been us, and Obi-Wan had told me that you had to have been killed for the good of the galaxy – "
She held up a hand. "Are you making me evil?"
A tiny fissure erupted between his lips – the smile was hard-won and dry. "It would've been you."
I've never gone dark. I'm always the one carting everyone else back over.
He considered that, the smile growing bigger. "You'd be the worst Sith Mistress of all time."
She saw what he saw, her face attached to a caped body that did not remotely resemble hers, strangling a subordinate, then rushing him to the infirmary and offering a lung, a kidney, whatever the poor man needed. It took her a moment to realize she was laughing. "Darth Princess Leia, at your disposal."
He grinned again. I think they make you give up your name. The smile melted away. She felt deprived. "I can't imagine killing my twin."
And this was what she knew about Luke that no one living really understood. He operated on two levels, and one was shocked and appalled and horrified at the other's behavior. Luke Skywalker was generous and merciful and responsible. Master Skywalker was, too. Others thought there was a discrepancy between the two halves of her twin brother. They were the same exact person.
But what one does for the good of the galaxy, the other despises. A lose-lose situation, she thought to herself.
She didn't see him as Jacen. No one does. She thought he understood this. We don't blame you.
"No. You don't. I don't either." He was quiet, then said: "But I wouldn't have been able to do it."
"Even if I'd burned Kashyyyk?"
If I'd turned my back on everything I knew was right? If I'd killed your wife and tortured your son? If I secretly wanted to be stopped?
(New thoughts – like this one – regularly popped into her head. New motivations, new ways to look her dead son in the eyes and excuse his behavior, make him human, redeem him even though she had no right or business trying to.)
She thought about Luke's infinitesimally charismatic blue eyes, imagined them turning septic, a sickly, disgusting yellow, the life in them gone and their compassion scorched by a slow-burning fire.
She imagined him holding his hand out to her, screaming the worst sorts of blasphemies, lightning erupting from his black-gloved fingertips, his smile broken, his lips charred, everything about Luke that made him Luke dead, gone, wasted.
"I don't think – " She took a deep breath, her chest rattling emptily. Something valuable was missing. "I don't think I could've, either."
He grabbed her hand, and she moved it to her lap, and they sat facing the night-roaming traffic as it skimmed below them.
"We've lost – "
A lot, he supplied.
"Yes," she sighed. "A lot. I thought, when we lost Chewie, that that was it. Our cap. No one else was endangered because he covered all the bases."
No such thing as a cap.
He supplied the names for her. "Anakin, Mara, Jacen."
You forgot –
"Ouch." He winced. "Ben and Jaina. Metaphorical, much?"
And Isolder and Teneniel, and Elegos, and –
They said it at the same time. "Zekk."
It was quiet again. He lifted their clasped hands to his mouth and kissed them, a commonplace action for him when it was just him and her, with no one around to tell them that it was inappropriate. They didn't grow up together, and therefore didn't know some of the rules, so they made them up as they went.
They were sixty years old. They could afford passing foibles.
He sighed, tilted his head. "Someday I'm going to see Obi-Wan again."
Tell him hi for me.
He ignored her. "And when I do, I'm going to ask if he knew."
Of course he did.
"And then I'm going to ask why."
She considered that for a second. The wind rustled through and around them, lifting clothing and hair, and the traffic beneath their feet rumbled slowly as it passed, the never-ending cycle of stops and starts circling ad nauseum. The chill of the sterilized air prickled at her forearms, and she shifted closer to her twin, his right arm automatically shifting to curl around her shoulders, her knees knocking into his. She laid her head on his shoulder, not because she needed to be comforted, but because he was Luke.
Luke, her twin, the man who could sense her from across the galaxy, who had read her emotions like they was written in front of his eyes since day one, forty years ago, when he'd saved her from their father aboard an awful thing from the history texts.
"Why?" She sighed. "Because there are people out there who are better than we are."
He absorbed that, and then tilted his head onto hers. "Because it shouldn't happen to anyone else."
Because, if destiny exists, this must be ours.
They stayed how they were, side by side, sitting on a ledge high above everyone else, worried about their families and their friends and the frail peace they'd tried yet again, and the wind kept going and the sounds kept getting matted together, and everything was exactly how it always had been.
(And the words were buried with the rest; some things didn't always have to be mourned.)