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Title: Settle
Author: thelittlepadawan
Rating: PG
Pairing: Implied Obi/Ani
Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to George Lucas.
Spoilers: Revenge of the Sith
Summary: Obi-Wan takes baby Luke to meet his relatives on Tatooine.
Set immediately after "Revenge of the Sith" (and contains spoilers, for the two entire people on Earth who HAVEN'T seen it*). I am gratuitously indebted to Matthew Stover's novelization for specific details (names of creatures and places, mostly) contained herein; my rather nubile existance as a "Star Wars" nut has yet to commit some of it to cold memory.

*

The eopie grunted as Obi-Wan shifted in the high-backed seat, jerking the reigns ever-so-slightly in the process. He had never been much for flying, but the uneven terrain of Tatooine, and the added discomfort of trying to steer the beast he'd chosen for the land travel portion of his journey made him yearn a bit for the smooth sleekness of the Jedi Council's cruisers.

'The now-defunct Jedi Council', he reminded himself for the umpteenth time, still having trouble believing it was the current reality. 'The brutally obliterated and deceived Jedi Council." He was all that was left of them, now; one in a small handful of former peace-keepers who had been hunted down and murdered like animals for trying to do their jobs. The irony, if Obi-Wan would let himself acknowledge it, was uncanny.

He was still working on not acknowledging the hurt and anger he felt; the betrayal that coiled in his stomach, the love and hate and sheer emotion that furled through him with an intensity that could have killed someone less at peace with himself.

'Kill him, or leave him to die at the edge of a lake of molten lava.' Obi-Wan inhaled sharply, the vacillation leading to a series of slow, calming breaths. He would not do this, he told himself. He had done what Master Yoda had asked him to do - what was necessary for him to do in order for even the few Jedi remaining to survive and, hopefully, someday, re-establish the thousand-year-old legacy that he had pledged his life to serving. He'd thought Anakin would be beside him, of course; but Anakin had found a new Master to serve. He'd aimed his lightsaber at Obi-Wan and glared at him with those damnable cold, yet fiery eyes, and Obi-Wan knew that Anakin was already gone - a paltry sacrifice, it seemed, for the Sith lord whose robes he now donned.

In the end, Obi-Wan knew he'd done what was right. And as long as he could keep believing that the ends justified the means, he could ignore the fact that he had blood on his hands.

The eopie shifted again as it plodded up a small incline, and Obi-Wan shifted the small bundle held in the crook of his other arm. Luke let out a small gurgle, and Obi-Wan snapped out of his reverie to comfort him. "There, there, little one," he murmured. "It won't be too much longer." He'd been hesitant when Master Yoda had broached the idea of his taking up refuge in the same vicinity; not because he didn't understand the need to keep him safe, off of the Sith's collective radar, but because of what the young boy represented: a chance at peace. Hope. And, unnervingly, undeniably, Anakin. Obi-Wan felt it in the boy's energy, saw it in the baby's eyes. 'This is Anakin Skywalker's son', he thought, and wondered if Anakin - the real Anakin, his Anakin - would have been proud of that.

Truth be told, Obi-Wan had never been much for children; he'd never really even been much for Anakin when he was a child, a brilliant boy of nine who could build almost anything and looked unflinchingly at everyone and everything and asked questions Obi-Wan had never wanted to answer. He'd felt baffled by him when they'd first met, and wary of the trust that Qui-Gon had placed in him almost immediately. "I think he's the Chosen One," his Master had murmured to him, an undercurrent of excitement in his voice. Obi-Wan hadn't been nearly as confident, but faithfully stood by Qui-Gon's side before the Council, touting the boy's talents and assuring them that, yes, he would be their Messiah,the one to fulfill the mysterious prophecy hanging overhead regarding balance being brought to the Force.

It was one thing to assert Qui-Gon's beliefs - the wishes of a dead man - however, and another thing entirely to believe them himself. Obi-Wan found the prophecy itself troubling, and the mystery surrounding Anakin even moreso. He'd trusted his Master, admired him in nearly every way an apprentice could (and in some ways he was sure weren't condoned by the Jedi code), but the seemingly blind faith he'd placed in the boy at several junctures bothered him more than he cared to admit. Not that Anakin had been outwardly antagonistic towards him -- on the contrary, when Qui-Gon introduced them, Anakin had thrust his hand forward in a show of nine-year-old bravado. "You're a Jedi, too?" he'd exclaimed. "Well, good to meet you!"

The largest difference was that Qui-Gon knew how to get along with kids, had seemed to possess an instinct for how to interact with them, a natural affection for them. If he hadn't sworn to uphold the lonely yet noble tenants of the Jedi, Obi-Wan could have easily seen him raising a large family. He'd often felt like he was Qui-Gon's own son, that his Master was serving as the father figure Obi-Wan had left behind when he was a small boy of only six. Being the Padawan of Master Jinn for years, tagging along on important missions, lending a hand where he could, he almost wondered if his initial waryness of Anakin was simply a strain of jealousy, not unlike the rivalry between siblings. Obi-Wan had been determined to complete his Trials to become a Knight for years; the shaping of his personality was nearly to the point where it could not be molded anymore. And then along came Anakin, shiny and new and eager to learn the ways of life for Jedi, who had a higher midi-chlorian count than Master Yoda, who could control aircraft as if they were a part of himself.

Maybe, he'd admitted to himself during meditation, he'd seen the future in Anakin, too, and had felt inadequate.

Luke snuffled again more persistently, a slight odor accompanying the noise this time. Obi-Wan tugged the reigns until the eopie came to a stop, then carefully slung his leg over the side so he could hop down, doing so gingerly so as not to jar the baby anymore than he had to. He reached into the small sack tucked inside of his robes, gesturing with the Force to set the blanket inside of it flat on the ground, for lack of a better surface. Luke kicked the air experimentally as Obi-Wan set him on top of it, tugging out a new cloth to use as a makeshift diaper. (Very few of the baby supplies he'd garnered from the remains of the Temple were not makeshift, really -- the younglings all being at least able to bathe themselves and use the refresher without any assistance by the time they became Padawan, the Jedi Temple simply didn't have accomodations for infants.)

"This is one thing I won't miss about never being a father," Obi-Wan murmured as he removed the soiled garment and tucked it into a ball. "All the messy little accoutrements." He felt gratified when Luke's unhappy squirming turned into a more content-sounding coo, however; the baby waved its tiny fist in the air, watching it for several seconds before bringing his hand to his mouth. He would probably be hungry again before the hour was up, but Obi-Wan didn't think their journey would last much longer, so he decided to plow ahead. He completed the task of changing Luke's diaper, wondering a bit dumbfoundedly what to do with the old one. Eventually, and a tad guiltily, he ended up burying it, rationalizing that nobody trodding through the desert land of Tatooine would be terribly keen on sifting through the gratuitous amounts of sand, anyways.

The eopie took off again, its rhythmic movements soon lulling Luke back to sleep. He was a good child, Obi-Wan thought. He'd never expected to become an eccentric uncle figure to the boy, of course; although in retrospect, had he known far enough in advance about Padme's pregnancy to assist her and Anakin -- had Anakin trusted him enough to confide in him -- the results would have probably been the same. It was forbidden for Jedi to start families of their own, of course, and Obi-Wan had never had any intention of giving up the Order for one; not when his connection with the Force had been his life-line, the one thing to keep him going, even when everything around him fell apart. Through his training, he'd learned to find peace with himself and the world around him, faulty though it may have been. He'd wanted to show Anakin how to achieve that peace within himself; he'd thought he had, naively, taught his apprentice to sort through the myriad emotions that plagued him and clouded his judgment.

He supposed it was a lost cause, in a way; but Obi-Wan couldn't help but feel as if he'd failed. He wondered, again, what might have happened had he been a bit more in-tuned to his former Padawan's plights, had he offered more of a sympathetic ear; had he not abandoned Anakin when the young man needed him the most. He knew the Jedi advised against this type of thinking; he could, in fact, almost hear Master Yoda's admonishments now: 'Useless, thinking of what might have been is', he would say. 'Concentrate on the present, you should'.

The present, of course, was the small bundle encased in the crook of his arm - it was the hope alluded to by Padme, the word left unspoken on her dying lips; hope that someday, all of the heartache and loss and deception would be worth it, that her death and Anakin's death, his submission to the darkness would not be in vain. It was the hope contained in the setting sun, the promise that after night fell, a new day would appear, and with it, a chance to rebuild, to grow, to heal.

It was hope being placed in the child now resting limply in his arms, oblivious to the large and powerful destiny awaiting him. "You have an interesting life ahead of you, Luke," Obi-Wan smiled softly. "Not always a happy one, but you will be safe. And loved. You've always been loved, even before your existance became this huge, miraculous undertaking; always remember that, Luke," he said firmly. "And," he added, "please forgive us all for the burden we're placing on your shoulders."

The eopie finally arrived at its destination: a small dwelling, larger on the inside than it probably looked, on the outskirts of the surrounding community and neighborhood. He knew he was expected, and sure enough, an entourage of two soon greeted him: Owen and Beru Lars -- Anakin's step-brother and his wife, and Luke's new guardians.

"How was your trip?" Beru asked once the eopie lowered itself to its haunches. Obi-Wan assured her that it was pleasant enough, and declined the offer to stay for tea. "I'd best be going," he told them, and promised to stop by in a couple of days after he'd gotten adjusted to his own new surroundings. He handed the baby off to his new mother; instinctively, Luke curled his tiny fist around Obi-Wan's index finger, whining a little.

"I'm not leaving you, little one," he said. "I'll be back soon. I promise." He forced himself to turn away and not look back immediately, until the eopie had taken off anew across the desert, towards the Jundland Wastes, which was to be his new home. It would be sparsely furnished and just barely enough to accomodate him, but that's what he was used to; it was what he'd pledged his life to. His wasn't the destiny of a great lord, a Chosen One; he would never be looked upon as extraordinary. But in simplicity, he'd found, he was truly masterful.

The sun set on Tatooine, and its inhabitants rest, waiting for the new day, and knowing, unflinchingly, with what one may have considered almost a blind hope, that it would come.

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