Anniversary

"Allana, do you know where Ben is? I can't find him anywhere and he seems to have shut himself off from the Force."

Allana Djo Solo looked up from her datapad, a perplexed expression on her face.
"You don't know where he is?"

Luke Skywalker shook his head, his aging features slightly worried.

Allana continued to look at him strangely, but finding his puzzlement to be genuine, stood up.
"Come with me, then. I think you should see something."

Allana strode into the hangars of the Fountain Palace, her great-uncle in tow, and selected a small shuttle out of the royal family's fleet, waving aside all her insistent guards and escorts, opting instead to pilot herself.

"Allana, where are we going?" Luke asked, his confusion growing with every passing second. The Hapan Chume'da was guarding her own feelings extremely well and the Grand Master could glean no clue from her, either verbally or through the Force.
"You'll see," the young princess smiled enigmatically.


The flight was short, barely half an hour, and Luke frowned feeling a sudden pain well in his heart when he finally deduced their destination.

Kavan.
Why today, of all days? Why on the very day, ten years ago, that he had had his beloved wife torn so brutally from him?

Allana set the shuttle down beside a gently sloping hillside, then proceeded to lead the way down it, picking her way nimbly down to the dark opening of what looked like a cavern.

Luke followed more slowly, feeling a cold hand of dread slowly squeezing upon his heart.

Allana stood waiting for him at the mouth of the tunnel and, when he approached, nodded him towards the inside.
"He comes here every year on this day."

Luke ventured in a few steps, Allana making no attempt to follow, content to stand outside, her hands stuffed inside her jumpsuit pockets, then froze. Up ahead, he could make out a shadow sitting hunched and silent beside the flickering light of a dim glow-lamp. Suddenly, the atmosphere inside the tunnel felt extremely suffocating to Luke and he found his throat threatening to close up and inadvertent tears welling up in his eyes. Hurriedly he brushed his sleeve across his eyes, turned and stumbled his way back. He had seen enough.

Allana regarded him with sympathy as Luke sat down upon a small boulder on the hillside. He didn't even seem to register her presence any more.

"He comes here every year?"
Luke's voice sounded broken.

Allana came slowly forward and rested a comforting hand on her great-uncle's shoulder.
"Yes. That's why I was surprised you didn't know."

Luke shook his head, unable to finally prevent two tears from rolling down his cheeks.
"I- I'm never in much of a state to notice much on- on this day. Just as I hadn't been ten years ago."

Allana was surprised to hear a note of bitter self-reproach in his voice.
"He- he spent that night alone... here,with-with her body. And- and I wasn't even there for him when he probably needed me the most. I can't imagine what he must have been thinking..."

Allana bit her lip, her heart melting with sympathy for her bereaved cousin and his father.
"Why don't you go in there and join him, Great-Uncle? He might welcome your company. He always seems so alone on this day..."

Luke looked towards the tunnel entrance, sorrow and helplessness stabbing his heart like a vibroblade.
"No, 'Lana. He needs to be here alone today, just like he was all those years ago. This is his time with Mom."