Love is Hard as Nails

**

Pay-pa! Pemberian's voice whispered in his mind. Is it gonna be a play ship? We learned about the YT ships in history lessons!

Not quite, Little Pilot, Luke had replied as he engaged the engines, which grumbled and groaned in protest. Repair and replacement would be high on the list, he knew. He could only hope it would make it the short distance from the scrap yards to the docking port and the repair facilities.

A teaching ship then? Pem had asked hopefully. T'Both said there would be a whole bunch of ships that Uncle Chewie said we couldn't frak up worse than they already were…

Don't say 'frak', Pem, Luke had corrected her absently. It's not polite…

But Uncle Han says it a lot! his daughter had protested. And I heard Ma-mere say even worse the other day!

Luke had sighed then, and made a mental note to speak to 'Uncle Han' and remind him how much his small daughter idolized him, and worse, often emulated him, strong words notwithstanding. His wife of the last few months, Aubé, however, he could forgive. She was midway through the throws of her second pregnancy, and had endured and forgiven so many more of his missteps after all… so many more.

When can I say fr… I mean, that word, Pay-pa? she had asked him earnestly. When I'm a grown up, and having a baby of my own?

How about when you're twenty? he replied, absently flicking the switch for the thrusters in the vain attempt to get the YT-1760 to move a little faster than the pedestrians below. Then you can swear as much as you like

The little girl seemed dubious. That's a long, long time away, she pouted, quickly pulling in her lower lip. Ladies didn't pout, after all. I'll almost be as old as Uncle Han!

That's right, Pem, he had assured her. Almost…

The old freighter gave another shudder, and by this point, Luke himself was almost ready to utter a few choice curses of his own…

**

Ya know kid, you may be a Jedi Master and a fair pilot yer'self, but you don't know nothin' about women! Han had drawled at him. and let's add still too innocent for your own good! You were taken for a ride my friend. This piece of junk aint worth a cheap ale in Mos Eisley, much less than the four thousand credits you paid for it! You're gonna sleep on the couch for a week…

Perhaps, Luke had replied mildly. Maybe not though…

Chewbacca had wuffed his agreement, but Han or himself, Luke didn't know. And yet, while running his expert paws over the exterior, Luke had noticed a gleam in Chewie's eye. For all of its faults, the Corellian freighter was structurally sound, and the previous owner had made a quite a few modifications that had not been stripped away as of yet. Fortunately, he had found the hulk before the yard owner had taken the time to really evaluate his latest acquisition.

Yes, this would do… perfectly.

**

Aubé sighed, barely picking at her meal of assorted meat and flatbread. She was tired, and as usual, feeling depressed and more than a little lonely.

You knew that this would be part of the package when you came here with him, she thought to herself. He'll always be 'Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master' and at the beck and call of half the galaxy. You knew that especially now, during this crucial time of rebuilding that your time with him would be short and sparse, even with the new baby on the way. It was just the way of things, and that was that.

Except it wasn't.

She had friends here, and family of course. And sometimes, just sometimes, Luke could spend more than a day with her, and even better, a night, but lately, even those small comforts couldn't fill the emptiness she felt.

You're just restless, Aubé Canaille – Skywalker – admit it! she thought to herself, pushing the plate away, uneaten. Restless and damn bored!

Her mother, who acted as her primary Healer, had expressly forbidden any more space travel for the remainder of her pregnancy, and while the Jedi Training plan Luke had set forth was fulfilling, and the opportunities to work on the Falcon with Captain Solo were gratifying, she felt something was missing.

And now, Luke was off again – to yet another far flung world where pretty women abounded. Thin pretty women, she amended mentally as she stroked her belly ruefully. But at least I know he'll always come home to us… She sighed, and ran a tired hand through her short dark curls. At least he wants me to meet him before he leaves today, I'd better at least make myself presentable…

**

"You can't be serious, Luke!" Aubé cried, exasperated. "Luke, I doubt this piece of junk will even make lightspeed safely! Look at the state of the Hyperdrive!" She pulled an errant wire out of the control panel. "It would take months just to rewire the power couplings!"

Luke grinned, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Chewie says a few weeks, if he has help…"

Aubé didn't notice, suddenly storming through the rest of the ship, with Luke following bemused. "And look here!" she cried. "Some low life bishwash son of a rancor left the enviro-control exposed and mynocks chewed it all to the seven hells!"

"So I see…"

"And look at this!" she growled, poking at yet another loose set of wires. "Supply storage controls, all shot to pieces. I can't stand it! Hand me a hydo-spanner, would you?"

"There's one in the tool kit behind you." Luke replied amicably. "More if you need them…"

Aubé grumbled her thanks, caressing the panel almost tenderly. "Poor old girl," she sighed. "It looks like you've been through the wars…"

"She sure has," Luke said, fully aware that Aubé hadn't heard him. "She needs her new captain to take care of her."

Aubé stopped, the tool still gripped tightly in her hand. "Her captain?" she echoed, confused.

Luke smiled, and handed her the ship's registry.

Corellian Light Freighter Class YT-1760 transport

Corellian Engineering Corporation

Hard as Nails: NR reg num A1138-21-B.

Captain: Aubé Canaille Skywalker

Sworn and signed,

Y'tee Migor

Aubé stood in front of Luke, wide eyed and open mouthed. "It's mine?" she gasped. "But Luke, why?"

"You need each other," Luke said softly. "Neither of you will be planet bound forever, after all…"

"She's… beautiful…" Aubé sighed, her eyes filling with tears.

"Just like her captain," came the reply.

"I don't know what to say, Luke," she murmured, putting down the hydro-spanner and stepping eagerly into his arms.

"Say yes," Luke said softly, taking her into an embrace. "Just say…"

"Yes…" Aubé finished for him. "Of course, Luke. A thousand times, yes…"

"I have a few hours," Luke whispered huskily in her ear. "Perhaps the captain would like to show me her quarters…"

"It would be my pleasure…" Aubé grinned. "But I'm afraid you'll have to show me just where they are…"

**