Disclaimer: None of it's mine.

A/N: Probably takes place shortly before the outbreak of the Yuuzhan Vong War.


It's important to me, being a Jedi.

I'm sitting on top of the Lightning Rod, watching the sun rise over the Chandrilan horizon from the inside of the hangar bay, when this realization comes to me. I've been watching the starport for three standard time parts, and I haven't seen any sign of the Twi'lek I'm supposed to find, but I'm not particularly worried. It'll be another three hours or so before we can really expect any results from Raynar's nosing around looking for her. If our previous attempts to catch up with her are any indication, the news that there's a Jedi on planet will send her running for her ship, terrified that we'll catch wind of her little Jedi artifact smuggling operation and shut it down (which is of course exactly what we're trying to do). But then, her ship is right next to the Lightning Rod at the moment (what can I say? I'm good at finding things). Shouldn't raise any alarms, since it's registered as an independent freighter and I'm supposed to be the pilot. I'm dressed for the part, nerf-hide jacket, flightsuit, and all, my hair loose down around my shoulders. I've been making some completely unnecessary upgrades to the Lightning Rod's systems, but there's nothing wrong with paying a fine lady the attention she deserves, and it's perfectly in character for an independent spacer to make incessant modifications to his ship. It's not like I wouldn't, don't, do it anyway.

It's taken long enough, that thought, and maybe it took hanging around a starport in the guise of someone else for me to realize it at all. It's an important thing to have realized, I guess; being a Jedi isn't easy or necessarily rewarding in and of itself. If there's anything I've learned since I started studying with Master Skywalker at the Jedi Academy it's that becoming a Jedi is mostly a lot of hard work mixed with trying just as hard to be brutally honest with yourself. And then more hard work that comes from that. I mean, the Force is a part of me, it always has been, even if I didn't realize it; I've come to understand that much. That's one thing. But I don't have to be a Jedi to feel the Force. Being a Jedi is something completely different. Being a Jedi—if it's not important to you in some way, then why bother? I think that might be what Master Skywalker's been trying to tell me. Show me, maybe. That I wouldn't be here, doing this, if it didn't mean something to me. If it wasn't important to me.

It too me long enough to come to the realization that I wanted to be a Jedi at all. Though . . . it wasn't like that. If someone had asked me when I was say, twelve, what I wanted to be if I could be anything, anything in the universe, if somehow I would become that person no matter what (and I'd had a guarantee that that person wouldn't laugh at me, no matter what I said), I'd have told them that I wanted to be a Jedi. More than anything else. But . . . things aren't always that easy. That simple.

If you'd asked me when I was twelve what I was going to be, I'd have said that maybe I'd take over running freight for Peckhum, or maybe I'd just keep on doing what I was doing, living the way I already did. It's not that easy to be who you want to be. I mean, no one even realized I could feel the Force until I was seventeen, and Brakiss . . . .

And after that I wasn't sure I deserved to be a Jedi anymore. Or if I wanted to. If being a Jedi was anything like that . . . . And maybe I just wasn't strong enough. Maybe I just didn't have what made Jacen and Jaina and their friends strong and noble and good, strong enough to resist the Dark Side, to see the truth through the lies and the siren song of power. I mean, it's pretty obvious I'm not good enough, not like them, right? It's still there, inside of me. It ate its way into my heart and the holes it left are still there, raw edges like they'd been burned by industrial acid scabbed over and scarred, but not gone.

Master Skywalker knows that, and he still trusts me. He understands that for a long time I was scared of myself, scared of the person who could do those things, scared of the power that could hurt me, hurt others, so much. He understands a lot of things, without me having to say them. He understands things about me that I don't think I even know. Like this.

He asked me if I was sure about being a Jedi before I left with Raynar for this mission. At the time, it hurt. Like a lightsaber to the chest. I thought . . . you know, maybe he meant I wasn't cut out for it and was trying to get me to see that too. And I was going to show him, prove to him, that I was good enough, that I've worked hard and made myself better, and I am good enough to be a Jedi.

Now I understand. That wasn't the point at all. For some reason, Master Skywalker doesn't worry about whether or not I'm good enough. He just . . . wanted me to be sure. Wanted me to want it, if that makes any sense, if I'm going to do this, that I'm not just doing it because I feel like I should, or like I have to, or because I don't have anywhere else to go. I see it now.

I do want it. I don't have to; I could go back to living with Peckhum if I wanted to. I could. I could have been a bounty hunter, a freighter pilot . . . but I could be a Jedi, and somehow that fits the best. Even if I still can't quite believe that. Being a Jedi isn't part of me, the way it is for Jacen and Jaina and Anakin. I didn't grow up knowing that I could feel the Force, and knowing what could go wrong, with the ghost of a monster in black standing behind me in the shadows of the past.

No, instead I grew up invisible. Street kids, scavengers, people like me—no one sees them. Everyone already knows who they are, what they're going to do with their lives. Nothing. They're never going to accomplish anything, never going to matter. Never going to be anyone. It didn't matter if I wanted that or not. Just like it didn't matter if Jay and Jace wanted Darth Vader for a grandfather. That was the way things were. The New Republic—a lot of people think it's not like that. That everyone has a chance. But if you come from nothing, how are you ever going to get anything? Everyone looked at me and just kept on looking, because I was nothing, and that was all I was ever going to be. Everyone but Peckhum, but he—he's different. He never really understood how it felt for me, because he just doesn't care about it, not like that. Peckhum's the way he is, and that's that, and he doesn't give a mynock's rump for what anyone else thinks. He runs cargo because he wants to, and he's content with it, that's all he wants; he doesn't care if he has a choice because if he didn't want to he'd find some way to do something else, somehow, and that's that.

I've always kind of envied him, because I'm . . . not like that. But Peckhum—he's always treated me like an adult. Let me be who I am, too. Even when it wasn't easy for me.

And it isn't like that, anymore, either, not like it was. When people look at me now, they don't see a scruffy street kid or a dirty vent crawler. They don't see me when I was sixteen. They see a Jedi Knight. And Jedi—because I'm a Jedi, it doesn't matter that Jaina is the daughter of the former New Republic Chief of State and Tenel Ka is the heir to the Hapes Consortium and that Tahiri used to be one of the Sand People and that Kyp Durron used to be a Kessel slave. It doesn't matter. We're all Jedi. The Force speaks to us, and we listen, and we follow the Jedi way. That's what matters. That's what people see when they look at me. And that's worth something.

And that means . . . when all those people looked at me and saw nothing but a useless trash collector who would never be anything or do anything, they were wrong. That's important to me. That I can be a Jedi, even though I wasn't raised for it, even though I grew up gathering bits of trash to make a living. No matter where or what I came from, if I follow the Jedi way, I can be a Jedi. And that's not just important to me, it's important to everyone in this galaxy. Being a Jedi will always mean something, because it isn't easy, because you do have to struggle. Because I had to struggle. Because it's not just being born to do something, and maybe it doesn't matter what you were or how you got here. How poor you were, or how worthless other people thought you'd be. It just matters that you listen to the Force, and you struggle, and fight, and that in the end you do, like Master Skywalker says.

And that—that's important.