Mandalore, 13 years later
"Does your mother know you're in here, ad'ika?"
"She's with me." Boba Fett turned to address the gray-haired Mandalorian taking a seat at the bar. The man glanced at his armor with recognition and little wariness. He then looked back at Fett's four-year old daughter, sitting on the bar and swinging her legs, a half-empty glass of milk in her hands.
"I'll rephrase that then. Does Senator Organa know that her daughter is hanging around tapcafes learning new words from the boloball watchers?"
Shysa Fett raised her eyebrows and looked at her father with an expression that perfectly resembled her mother, milk mustache notwithstanding. "I won't tell, Dad."
"Finish your drink." He kept his eyes on the man who apparently felt the need to give him parenting advice. "Do I know you?"
"Goran Beviin. We met once years ago at the Remembrance Day celebration in Keldabe. It was before you and the Senator were married, I think. I said something critical about her speech and had very distinct impression you didn't like me."
He remembered him now. "You were a friend of Fenn Shysa's."
"That's right." Goran lifted his ale in a silent salute. "Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la." He took a sip and eyed Fett, who remained silent during the tribute. "Big boots you've got to fill, Mand'alor."
"I'm going to be Mand'alor," Shysa announced. "When I'm older."
Goran was clearly amused by this. "She looks like her mother," he said, which was what everyone said. She did, except for her hair. It was dark and unruly, frizzing around her small face. Leia had remarked many times that it didn't come from her side of the family.
"It's my brother's birthday today," she continued. "He's thirteen. Mom is coming home from Coruscant today and she's bringing Uncle Luke with her. We're having a party. It's going to be fun."
"Sounds like fun," Goran agreed.
Fett turned back to the bar and paid for his daughter's milk. "Office hours are over," he told the bartender, who nodded and glanced at the crono on the wall.
"It's early. What should I tell anyone who comes in looking for you?"
He lifted his daughter down from the bar, struggling with the overwhelming desire to dig up Fenn Shysa's corpse and punch his face repeatedly. He was forced to admit he'd underestimated the man's stubbornness, not to mention his patience. Five years ago they were pinned down in a nasty fight, cut off from the rest of the Protectors. The Mand'alor put himself between Fett and a thermal detonator, then with his final breath, made a request that Fett was in no position to refuse. Even his wife, grieving the loss of her friend and pregnant with their daughter, refused to give him an out. Fenn Shysa finally had his Fett Mand'alor.
Most of the time it was an easy title to maintain. Mandalorians didn't require a lot of leadership, so for the most part Fett could come and go as he pleased. The exception was one particular precedent set by Fenn Shysa, the expectation that once a month the Mand'alor could be found in a public place for anyone who needed to speak with him. It was Fett's least favorite day of the month.
The bartender was still waiting for an answer. Fett's attention returned to Goran Beviin, who was peacefully drinking his ale. "They can talk to him."
"Goran?" The bartender asked in confusion.
Goran turned his head to stare at him. "What?"
"I'm appointing you. Just sit here and talk to anyone who has a problem. Don't contact me. Unless it's urgent."
"I hate to break to it, Fett, but I have better things to do than your job. I have a farm to get back to."
"You call yourself a Mandalorian?" Fett challenged. "You're bound to rally to the Mand'alor's call. I'm calling you."
Goran's expression slowly shifted from incredulous to annoyed. The bartender put a hand over the lower half of his face, and coughed unconvincingly.
"Time to go, Shysa." He took his daughter's hand and they walked together out to the speeder, Fett adjusting his steps for Shysa's shorter legs. She fell asleep on the journey home, having not completely outgrown the need for an afternoon nap. When Leia's house in Keldabe grew too small for their family, they built a house amid the forests of Mandalore. The children had a built-in exercise ground with rocks and trees, and it was a more defensible location in case of trouble.
He carried Shysa into the house and tucked her into bed, then checked the location signals for his sons. Kyd was out of range. Jonah was out behind the house in the sparring ring Fett had built to teach them hand-to-hand combat. As soon as he walked out the back door he heard a humming noise that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Jonah was alone in the sparring ring. In his hands was a bright yellow lightsaber.
"Hi Dad," he said without taking his eyes off the hovering training remote.
"He took the other speeder to West Peak to meet Mom and Uncle Luke."
Kyd was the result of a swift adoption when his spice-smuggling parents were killed by a group of Mandalorian Protectors ten years earlier. He would turn thirteen in six months, with considerably less stress. Fett watched as Jonah circled the electronic sphere, keeping it in the striking zone. "Where did that come from?"
"Uncle Luke sent it. He said I could practice before he got here."
For thirteen years the uneasy truce they'd reached on Dagobah held, but it seemed his brother-in-law was wasting no time now. Fett's jaw tightened, but he carefully kept his voice neutral. "How is it?"
"It's surprisingly heavy. Not as heavy as some blasters, but still...I dunno. It's just a training saber. I thought it would be lighter." He brought the lightsaber up again, but his eyes cut towards his father. "I thought you were going to be gone all day."
"I left early."
"Uncle Luke said you wouldn't be able to resist sulking in plain sight," Jonah reported, jumping to one side as the remote spit out a bolt.
"Did he." The Jedi was usually more careful, especially in the presence of the Fett children. Perhaps the gloves were finally off.
"And then Mom said the two of you have been sniping at each other so long it's more habit than anything else." The remote spit out two quick shots, and this time Jonah got the saber down in time to block. His eyes widened appreciatively. "Whoa! Did you see that?"
"If you deflect a real bolt like that, you'll put a hole in the workshop roof. Angle it down more." Fett paused. "I'm guessing your mother didn't know you were listening in on her conversation with your uncle."
Jonah didn't take his eyes off the remote. "No sir."
"Did you hack the frequency or bug the device?"
"Hack." His son grinned proudly. "I wanted to see if I could do it from my helmet. I spliced the transmission and jacked the audio in under a minute."
People said that Jonah looked as much like his father as Shysa looked like her mother, but then he would smile, more confident and charming than any thirteen-year old had any right to be, and Fett didn't see himself at all.
"Remote off," Jonah ordered, and the device blinked off and set down automatically. The lightsaber died in his hand, and he looked at his father silently. The words seemed to burst out of him, a mix of accusation and curiosity. "You don't want me to do this, do you? You want me to be normal. Like Kyd and Shysa."
To buy himself some time, Fett slowly removed his helmet. Strange how he could look at a half-grown boy and still see a screaming baby wrapped in a soft white blanket. Jonah was laid in his arms for the first time, and there was no rush of bliss, no shining love, none of things he observed when Leia held him. There was only a tightness in his chest, and the cold knowledge that this tiny, helpless human he'd helped create would always be in danger.
Jango Fett taught him that the only way to master fear was to confront it. Fett could face down a rancor without flinching. He could fly straight at an asteroid, only to dodge away at the last possible second. He could take down a dozen men with his bare hands. He could kill Jedi and Sith of every species. But it took him years, long, difficult years, to master the fear that gripped him every time he looked at his son.
"I want you to be safe," he said slowly. "It's what I've wanted since the day you were born. What do you want me to say?"
Jonah stared at him fiercely for a moment. "How about that you love me, and you're proud of me, and you trust me to make my own decisions."
Silence vibrated between them for a few seconds. Fett straightened his shoulders and held his son's gaze. "I love you. I'm proud of you. You're thirteen years old, and tomorrow morning you're getting up before dawn and doing fifty pushups. Don't ever hack into your mother's comm line again."
His son gave him a look of teenage exasperation, but he knew better than to argue. "Yes sir." He started to say something else, but they both heard the speeder approaching and turned back towards the house.
"Dad! Check it out," Kyd Fett jumped nimbly out of the speeder. "Look what Uncle Luke brought me."
It was another training remote, but this one projected an energy field target that absorbed blaster bolts. Luke Skywalker was many things, but Fett could never say anything about his abilities as a doting uncle. "I have one for Shysa too," the Jedi said as he climbed out.
"She's napping right now." Fett went to help Leia down from the speeder. She didn't need his help, it was just an excuse to touch her after two weeks apart. Given his choice, he would carry her straight into their bedroom and lock the door behind them. He would lay naked in bed with her for at least an hour, holding her tight until all the tension of the day was finally submerged by her presence. Then, of course, they would fuck. "How were the last two weeks of the senate session?"
"Two weeks too long," she answered with a tired smile. "I've been asked to run for Chancellor again."
"Will you?" She always said no. The children were two young, she was needed in Keldabe, there were any number of good reasons. But this time she paused before answering.
"I don't know. I told them I would think about it, but only if I could appoint someone to take my place as the representative of Mandalore." She frowned slightly. "Speaking of which, aren't you supposed to be at work?"
"My Chief of Internal Affairs is handling it."
Her brows lifted in surprise. "Your what?"
A small smile played around the corners of her mouth. "We'll have to discuss that later." Her attention strayed back to the sparring ring. Kyd climbed over the wall to get a closer look at his brother's progress.
"You get zapped yet?"
"No," Jonah scoffed. "It's easy. Shysa could beat this thing with a stick."
Skywalker was clearly amused by his nephew's boasting. "Give it to me. It's not calibrated for Fetts." He tinkered with it and switched it on. The orb shot to one side and spit out three quick shots, forcing both boys to scatter.
Jonah dove to the ground and rolled, coming up with his lightsaber ignited. He raised it with one hand and crooked the fingers of his other hand mockingly. "Come and get me, you little bucket of bolts."
Fett didn't think he'd ever seen Luke Skywalker look so happy. The Jedi put his arm around Kyd's shoulders. "C'mon, let's get yours set up."
Leia stayed close by Fett's side, her expression carefully neutral. "He's learning fast."
"He learns everything fast."
"Just like his father." She knotted her hands in front of her, her voice soft. "Are you okay?"
Fett kept his eyes on his oldest son. The remote was forcing him to move a lot more, but he hadn't been struck once. "A Hutt walks into a bar on Ord Mantell. He orders the strongest drink in the house. The bartender gives it to him, and the Hutt falls over dead. And then the bartender says…"
His wife stared at him in shock. "Oh my gods. I can't believe you even remember that." He waited, and after a moment she looked up at him with visible embarrassment. "Boba, I have to tell you something. I should have told you a long time ago. There is no punchline. It's not a real joke. I made it up on the spot. I knew the bartender would be coming back, and I was just...flirting." She shook her head. "It all seems so stupid now. I liked you, you know," she added quietly. "Even when I thought you were just some pilot trying to score."
"I liked you too," he said, remembering the way she smiled at him and how soft the skin on the underside of her arm was. At that moment, he would have liked to have just been a pilot.
She paused and lowered her voice. "Do you think...if I had said to you 'look, we're never going to see each other again, so let's find a hotel room.' Would you have gone with me?"
"No." She gave him a look that suggested that was not the right answer. "But I would have wanted to."
"Thanks, that's very reassuring." They watched their son for a few minutes in silence "Just think, you could have avoided this. You just had to buy me that drink." She sounded like she was joking, but the sharp angle of her chin said otherwise. In the ring, Jonah advanced, slashing with his weapon as the remote scuttled back. Leia took a deep breath. "Do you ever feel like your dad is standing over your shoulder, watching you?"
"Every day." She turned to look at him, and Fett immediately felt self-conscious. "What? Sound crazy?"
"Not at all," she replied thoughtfully, staring off into the distance. "I feel like they're all here, my parents, your dad. They're watching us. Watching him." Her eyes went to her firstborn. "None of them could have seen this coming. It makes me wonder, what's coming that we can't see?"
Fett reached over and took her hand, threading their fingers together. Her grip was almost painfully tight. "Nothing we can't handle."
"That's what I'm afraid of," she said grimly before falling back on sarcasm. "I'm probably overreacting. After all, he's only the force-sensitive grandson of Darth Vader, raised by a senator and trained by one of most ruthless bounty hunters in the galaxy. What could go wrong?"
A few yards away, a yellow blade sliced through the air and connected solidly with the training remote. Sparks flew, and the metal orb crashed into the ground. Black smoke curled up from it as Jonah turned off the lightsaber and wiped his brow with his sleeve. "Oops."
Skywalker came over to have a look. "Uh...looks like I'll have to make some modifications. Don't worry. I think I can fix it."
"Don't bother," Fett told him. "Kyd, your gun."
Kyd complied. "I got next."
Fett set the pistol on a low-grade stun. "Think you can handle an opponent with a brain?"
Jonah grinned and ignited the saber in response. Leia stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. "Be careful."
"I always am."
Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la - Not gone, merely marching away
70,000 words and three years later, I just wanted to say "thank you." Thank you for being willing to give this crazy story a shot. Thank for you for following, for favoriting and for all of the amazing feedback.
Special thanks to Lady Peter, for coming in as beta reader for the last half of this story and being completely invaluable.
Meeting Like This is done, but believe it or not, I have a few more Fett/Leia stories I want to tell, so be on the lookout for some additional one-shots and ficlets.
And finally, if you have a suggestion or an idea for a Fett/Leia story, send me message or find me using the Fett/Leia tag on tumblr.