Obligatory Disclaimer: Neither of these fandoms are mine. This was written for fun, not profit.


With Great Interest


That's the thing about wars. By the time anyone's gotten around to organize the state funeral, there's a new state to organize it with. Some of the trappings are different - more red, less blue, a different title for the same man in charge and the ruins of the Jedi temple still smoking somewhere over the Coruscant horizon - but there's still the same speeches and condolences, still the same expressions of calculated sympathy, still all the senators who say what a brave man her husband was and what a shame it is that he's gone and he did such a good thing, on and on and on until her older son yawns hugely and she takes that as an excuse to find somewhere quiet to sit.

Not that she's the type to make excuses. Her husband was the calm, steady, sensible one. She's over-the-top - although not as much as she lets people think, not nearly - and she's so fiercely independent that she never wanted to be on a ship that wasn't hers, so when she followed her husband to the Core and sent him off to die for all the grand sweeping causes he believed in, it's because she loved him just that much.

She's never missed the Outer Rim as much as she does now.

The baby squirms in her arms, burbling curiously, which is really the only warning she has before a shadow falls across her. She looks up and up and up and even lets her older son duck behind her, even here where there's just been a change in government and an empire where a republic used to be and a hell of a lot of bloodshed - where she knows it's not wise to antagonize anyone.

Her face gives away nothing. She was always very good at sabacc.

"He was your husband," the man says - because he's a man, he's a man in a suit and she's seen him in the holos recently and no one knows where he came from and she'll be damned if she's going to be irrationally scared of some well-designed armor when she helped her parents shoot mynocks off the engines as a little girl.

So instead of letting out a shaky breath, and instead of listening to her bone-deep anti-authoritarian streak and telling him to go space himself out the nearest airlock, she nods once. "That's right," she says almost steadily.

"A very brave man."

"What would you know about him?" she snaps, and her son looks at her with huge eyes and she thinks damn damn damn.

Something about the man's posture stiffens, but before she can open her mouth to make up an apology when she isn't really sorry, he speaks again. "I am aware of his reputation," he says, and some instinct - some talent she has for reading people that her husband never ever mastered - tells her that he's not so much lying as leaving out something so big that all the remaining pieces don't quite hang together. "He was very loyal to the Republic."

"Of course he was," she says. Otherwise she's going to say that he's right, that her husband was a loyal man in that stupidly idealistic way that she thinks must be genetic in Alderaanians, and he loved the Republic and he spoke highly of all the Jedi he ever served with, Windu and Kenobi and Skywalker and all the rest, and he would never ever have pretended to go along with this brand-new shiny Empire, not in a million years.

The baby's wriggling around in her arms again. She named him what her husband asked her to - even though she liked her choice a lot better - and the equally brand-new shiny Emperor is so fascinated by him that it's all she can do not to punch him in the face.

And now this man is looking down at her son and he's looking right back in that speculative way babies have, even if he is chewing on his own fist. She tightens her grip on both her children and waits and wishes she'd been stubborn enough to bring a blaster.

"You're from the Outer Rim," the man says at last. He doesn't wait for her to answer. "I suggest you take your children and return there."

It takes a second to process what he said, and by that time he's already back on his feet and moving away.

She stares after him. "Hey."

No answer.

"Hey!"

He doesn't turn around.

She tears her eyes away and looks down at her baby.

Her son will be someone very important, the Emperor said. Someone he will be happy to help and mentor.

Someone he will watch with great interest.

Winona Kirk takes her son's hand, clutches the baby like all their lives depend on him, and walks for the nearest spaceport without looking back.