I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
A/N – Here's another little story, if you'd like it – Once again taking place in my Post Jedi AU. A little challenge set forth from my good friend Golden_Jedi aka Louie...
Delicious Ambiguity by DarthBreezy
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. - Isaac Asimov
Han took another long pull on his beer, watching the evening crowd wander into the small bar. Leia had chased him away from their shared apartment despite the late hour, and despite his initial outward protests, he was actually glad for the time alone. Too many changes in such a short time made him jittery anyway, and soon enough, there would be even more. Leia's twins, due within the month, his friend Luke's newfound family and his total embrace of the Jedi religion[/]…
Han hated funerals. To be completely honest, he would have spent the afternoon peeling mynocks off of the Falcon's hull – hells, even scraping off mynock droppings would have been preferable to attending a memorial service of any kind, but this one had been special. Different…
For a start, there had been two services. The second service had been a small State funeral, where the synthetic diamond had been placed in the Corellian Sanctuary. Only a few assembled there knew that the cremated remains had only been personal effects, but the first…The first, an unofficial a small private service, where many of Representative Canaille's personal effects had been cremated, (for there had been no body,) which in and of itself wasn't unusual but this had been a Jedi funeral.
Luke had returned from Sullust – all be it for only a few days – before the service, (something else Han found hard to comprehend, how Luke could actually leave his pregnant wife at all) and had spent most of the time in quiet contemplation, no longer the brash young idealistic farm-boy he had once been, but a full fledged Jedi Master.
A Jedi Master…
Another drink as he waved the bartender over for another round.
Too much change… he thought, draining the bottle. Too. Damn. Much….
He had been nearly ten years old (by his own estimation) when the Jedi had fallen out of favor with the Republic, but even then, the Jedi had been viewed as more of a mythic cult, mostly unseen and the subject of wild speculation and rumors more than an actual presence in the Galaxy. After that, he had been too busy trying just to stay alive to even care about them. He had grown up, made his own way and been happy damn it! The one day, the Kid and the old man had walked into that cantina in Mos Eisley, he'd met the Princess and everything had changed…
I aint in it for your Rebellion Sister…
That's two you owe me Kid…
Do you take this woman?
Han, we're going to have a baby!
I want you to meet my wife Aubé, my daughter, Pemberian…
The 'Kid', with kids of his own – hell – he was going to be a father himself in a few short weeks… but the Kid had changed the most.
A Jedi Master… he thought, barely acknowledging the Tw'ilek waitress who brought him his drink. It's like he's a whole different man now. The old Luke wouldn't have been separated from his friends with out the help of a tractor beam, and here he was blasting off every other week, leaving his own wife and child – and the unborn child – behind, only to return for a few short days for a damn funeral… That damned… Jedi funeral…
Perhaps the family had done most of it's grieving in private before hand, perhaps it was as Luke had tried to explain before hand that as Healers and Jedi, they viewed death a little… differently…
Perhaps it was because the Jedi were a whacked out cult of wizards after all…
"Excuse me, General," a soft lilting voice interrupted his thoughts. "Madam Solo said I would find you here…"
Han looked up to see a tall blond young man standing before him – Toa, the young Healer that was also Luke's… brother – in – law?
The young man dipped his head slightly. "If that is what you wish to call it, yes, I am."
In an instant, Han was on his feet. "Leia? Is something wrong with Leia?" he hissed, momentarily repressing the embarrassment of knowing the Healer had read his thoughts. "Why didn't she com me?"
Now Han felt his legs give way as the Healer raised his hands, palms down with a sitting gesture, the rage he initially felt trickled away along with his strength to stand.
"There is nothing to be concerned about," Toa murmured with a barely perceptible gesture, and for an instant, Han could actually see the wave of calm spread throughout the rest of the bar, rippling as it went. To only Han, he said, "She is fine, General. She told me that if she called you on the com, you would return before she could say that she was only off to bed, and if you did not believe me, to mention the holo-chess table. That mentioning that would assure you that she was completely lucid…" The young Healer arched and inquisitive eyebrow. "Does that make sense to you, General?"
Han relaxed back into his chair, visibly relieved, yet under enough self control to prevent the blush rising to his cheeks. "Yeah, she would say that," he muttered, settling back into his drink. "Chewie still there?"
Another slight nod. "Yes, he is still there. My Kay-sa is with his mother, young Pemberian is in her bed, and Master Skywalker is… he is comforting his wife." Now the Healer's eyes lowered slightly. "Master Canaille was a good man, he will be missed."
In that instant, Han understood. He knew exactly how the young man felt – a part of the family and yet… Just like him. Jedi or no, Toa was feeling the mixed blessing and the curse of being the new kid, no matter how long you've been around…
"Let me buy you a drink," Han said with a wry smile. "Maybe you can explain a few things…"
"I would like that," Toa replied, a genuine smile. "And I will try, General…"
"Just two things, Kid…" Han interrupted him, even as he gestured for the bartender to bring them a fresh round. "One, no more Jedi whammies, OK?"
A quick bob of the head in reply. "I apologize," Toa murmured. "No more, as you say, whammies…"
"Second, you start calling me, Han…"
"Yes… Sir… I mean, Han" Toa stumbled over the words.
Stang! He's just a kid! Han thought. Probably younger than Luke…
"I am nearly twenty four standard years old…" Toa replied without thinking, then lowered his eyes, shamefaced. "I guess that is a Jedi whammy, is it not?"
"I'll let it go, this time," Han said, the easy magnanimousness of drink chasing away his earlier thoughts, at least for the moment. "I guess Sir will be OK for now."
A second glass of beer arrived at the table, and Toa lowered his head momentarily. In an instant, Han's initial concerns about the Jedi returned, and his face darkened.
"A prayer for the dead," Toa said softly. "And that was not with Jedi perception – it shows in your face, Mr. Solo. You do not trust the Jedi?"
"I trust you guys enough with my wife!" Han said a little more hotly than he intended, causing the other patrons to glance their way. "It's not like there's a whole lot of you around, any way…"
"And one less, tonight…" Toa sighed as Han shifted uncomfortably in the chair across from him. "But Master Luke hopes that within a generation, there will be many more…"
"And maybe his kid won't want to be a Jedi!"
Toa shrugged, and took a drink. "Perhaps… but Jedi are found not forced into the life…"
"Luke sure was…" Han snapped, downing the last of his beer quickly and signaling for another. Anything to steer the conversation away from death…
"Master Skywalker chose to follow the path, just as his sister has not," Toa reminded him gently. "As did I, and Aubé did not…"
"Not at first, any way," Han conceded. "But it seems Nails has joined the club too!"
"Sometimes, a being resists their destiny," Toa began, but Han cut him off with a barking laugh.
"But a moment ago, you said that becoming a Jedi was a matter of choice!" Han waved his beer around for emphasis, spilling some onto the table. "So which is it?"
"A question for the ages," Toa replied mildly, refusing to rise to the bait. "Master Canaille always seemed to doubt himself, and yet in the end, he became one with the Force as Master Kampher always knew he would…"
There is was again, raising its ugly head like the specter of the Empire itself… Death.
Not if Han could help it.
"How did you get caught up in all that?" Han asked abruptly. "Which was it? Choice or destiny?"
"Perhaps… both…" Toa replied, allowing the conversation to be directed by Han. "Master Canaille found me on a slaver's ship when I was younger. Or perhaps it was Master Kampher, or even Kay'sa himself. I do not remember which for sure. Apparently, I was half mad and one of the only survivors." Now it was Toa's turn to colour. "I had many… talents, but no control. I owe them my life…" He sipped at his beer thoughtfully. "It matters not, now," he said at last. "I have found my place…"
"Yeah…" Han agreed quietly. He began to look for a chrono, and cursed when he saw the lateness of the hour. "Stang! I've gotta get back," he muttered as he rose. "Give you a ride someplace, Kid?"
"No," Toa said softly. "I will allow Kay'sa this time for now…" As Han began to take his leave, Toa gently touched his arm. "Sir?"
"What is it, Kid?"
"Why are you afraid of death?"
Han emitted another barking laugh, this time it seemed forced, even to himself. He put his hand on the young Healer's shoulder, and looked him straight in the eye. "I aint afraid of death, Kid – seen it to many times for that! Getting killed by my angry wife… now that's what scares me…"
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity. - Gilda Radner