Luke was right. Rey didn’t remember him. She didn't seem to remember anything all.
It was more than just casually forgetting a childhood memory like anyone would do. Rey didn't have any recollection of her life before she was left on Jakku. She just didn't remember any of it. All Rey could tell him was of her memories scavenging away on Jakku and making sure she didn't starve to death in the middle of the night or pass out from heat stroke. It was the life she had been living all these years and Luke had no idea.
But she was living. Luke had spent so long thinking otherwise.
But what she told him didn't make much sense either. Rey missed any mention of ever being his students, she didn't make any mention of her childhood before living on Jakku and she definitely did not mention Ben. She mentioned Kylo Ren, but she never once mentioned Ben. That said enough in itself.
She genuinely did not remember anything.
She only remembers the monster that became of Ben and not who he used to be. She wasn't biased by personal feelings in her judgement of him. Luke was. He tried to hide this information to himself. He didn't want to bombard Rey with too many revelations when she has already been through so much.
But why didn’t she remember? She knew she had a family, but she thought they would come back. They were dead long before she went to Jakku, long before she even came to the Temple. Rey would know something like that, but she had been under the presumption that they were still alive. She knew they were gone when she was a child, she talked about their deaths to Luke many times when she was five, but not now. Something definitely wasn't right about that.
Should Luke tell her? No. That would only scare and confuse her, and not to mention it will open up another can of worms he wouldn't be able to explain. To Rey, he was a complete stranger who had only lived in myths. To reveal that her parents are dead would only make her suspicious in how he would know that. It wasn't wise to drop something like that on her. Not when there were enemies all around.
And, honestly, Luke had no idea what he was going to do with her.
It was a difficult time for Luke. Rey came to the island to be trained. Her Force abilities have finally come to fruition and they are strong with her, Luke could feel it, but he doesn't think he could teach her. Not after what happened… last time. His last group of students had turned on each other and became Sith Lords. How can Luke train Rey without the fear of failing her like he failed everyone else? How he failed Ben.
Luke tried to tell Rey that, but she was persistent. Of course she was. It wouldn't be Rey if she gave up easily, and she badgered Luke call day long until she got what she came for. Rey might have grown up, but she hadn't changed one bit. She was still as feisty, still as spirited from when she was a child, even more so as an adult. And she did not give up on something until there was nothing left to bargain for.
Oh, Luke had missed her.
He had missed the both of them. Her and Ben, the little duo. But it was highly unlikely that Luke was going to get Ben back. No. He was never going to get him back.
That still didn't stop Rey. After she found him, Rey had been following Luke constantly everywhere he went. He couldn't shake her off. Like he said, Rey was persistent. Luke gave her a room to sleep in while she was here because she swore that she was not leaving, and Luke would find her asking questions that were edging towards training territory. He said she was persistent, he never said she was subtle. This carried on for the next few days until it came to a head when Luke found Rey waiting for him in his make-shift meditation spot a good distance away from his home.
It was a cave like structure in a large tree near the sea. Luke could hear the crashing ocean waves and howling breeze that only echoed louder in the small space. It was the only place he could retreat to in his attempts to try and clear his mind from his own thoughts, but he couldn't do it in the middle of the dark space when all he could feel was Rey’s looming presence waiting outside the stone walls, and he knew there was no point in trying anymore.
Luke stepped out of the cave and was met with the sight of Rey curled up on the ground, back against the wall, with her hands covering up the exposed parts of her arms from the cold. Yeah, this planet didn't have the temperatures of Jakku, and it looked like Rey was feeling it. Even her teeth were beginning to chatter from the shivers. Luke was able to grab a spare robe and offered it to Rey without a word, and Rey was too cold to think anything of it.
“You’ll catch a cold in this weather,” Luke told her.
“I don’t mind it,” Rey said, but it didn't seem convincing when she was wrapping it around her within that same second.
“We’ll have to go inside if you don't want to freeze,” Luke said, looking up at the sky. “It looks like it might rain later on.”
The mention of that had Rey’s eyes widening with wonder. “Rain? Actual rain? It rains on this planet?”
“Yes, it does.”
Rey kept her eyes fixed on the sky. The grey clouds were just starting to make their way over the horizon, with the black edges spelling out the looming storm that was waiting to arrive. While others saw that as a mere inconvenience, Rey only saw it as a miracle in itself. “I’ve never seen rain before. Living on Jakku has been nothing but hot days and no green. I used to dream about what rain would feel like.”
“I hate to break it to you, but it’s cold.”
“I don’t care,” Rey smiled. She stared up into the sky for as long as she wanted. “I’ve spent years wanting to feel the cold.”
“But I don’t want you to become ill. Let’s take you home.”
Honestly, Luke could’ve been talking about carbonite freezing and Rey wouldn't have been able to hear him. He had to guide her back to the hut by the way she was staring up at the sky. It looked like she could stay there forever if she could.
It was late by the time it began to rain that night. The thunder was not forgiving in the slightest. It was torrential outside, and the occasional thunder clap of lightening only enhanced it’s ominous presence. But it had Rey completely compelled under its spell. She was sitting by the window and staring up at it, and Luke didn't miss the slight jumps she would make when lightening struck. It had him smiling by his little corner near the kitchen. There were two bowls of soup waiting on the table. Luke was nearly finished with his, but Rey’s was untouched on the other side. She was too busy watching the sky to eat.
“Is it always like this?” Rey asked after a particular clap of thunder that scared her the most.
“No. It’s not. The weather is usually good here.”
“Pity. There’s something beautiful about the storm,” Rey said wistfully just at the moment another thunderstorm break out. She sat there in silence while she watched the entire thing with renewed spectacle, but as much as Luke wanted to let her enjoy it, he can’t ignore her thin frame and he wanted her to eat something. “Your food is getting cold, Rey. Come on.”
Rey looked torn between eating and watching the sky, but her stomach rumbled loudly in the small space of the room, and Rey made her way over to the table. Once seated, she took a spoonful of her meal and her eyes lit up in surprise of the taste in her mouth. She shovelled the rest of the meal within a few minutes time, so much so that Luke had to make her another bowl full for her to eat. Luke thought it was odd, but then he remembered Rey had been living on Jakku for years. He doubted she had much to eat there, so she was definitely making up for it now.
Rey pushed her bowl away when she had enough, and they continued to sit in silence. That doesn't mean that Rey liked it, though. Luke didn't have to look up to know that Rey was watching him carefully. He could feel her heavy stare on him, but Luke kept his gaze down on the table, but as the seconds ticked on for longer, Luke couldn't keep it up anymore.
Luke sighed in resignation, just as the rain began to pour down. “I can’t do it, Rey.”
“But I need your help,” Rey argued.
“And I can’t help you.”
“Yes, you can—”
Luke interrupted. “No, Rey. I can’t. Not after everything that has happened.”
“But now is when we need you the most. Things have gotten bad, Luke. Really bad, and they're going to get worse. People have been looking for you. Leia, the Resistance… Han.”
Rey didn't know whether she should admit that piece of information, like talking about Han was the worst move to make in trying to negotiate with Luke. “I know he’s dead.”
“How?” Rey asked with genuine confusion.
“I felt it through the Force. I felt the pain of his death like it was my own.”
“And more people will die if we don't stop the First Order. Please, Luke. I need you help me stop them. I can’t learn the Force on my own, I don’t know how.”
“You know more than you realise,” Luke said. She knew something in the deep recesses of her mind, and Luke had no idea how to bring something like that up.
“I don’t know what that means,” Rey said in frustration. Yeah, now would definitely be a bad time to mention this. “I mean it, I don’t know what I am doing. I can’t explain it. I was lucky to escape the First Order in the first place, but I’m never going to be lucky if it happens again. I’ve seen what power they have, I need you to help.”
Wait, she’s seen their power? But that could only mean… “Did you see him? Kylo Ren?” Luke asked.
Rey dropped her gaze to the table. “He kidnapped me on Takodana and interrogated me. He tried to get part of the map from me, but he couldn't do it.”
Even just the mention of his name sent a horrible shot of pain through his chest, but Luke wasn't sure he was ready to hear about the horrible acts he has done and especially to Rey. He can’t… “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. He tried to probe my mind, but I wouldn't let him. He couldn’t. It wasn't as bad as what he did to Poe, but… this is why I need your help. If we are going to defeat them then I need to know how to defeat the enemy.”
“I understand, Rey, it’s just… to you he is an enemy. To me…”
Luke didn't want to look at the instant sympathy that he was sure was filling up Rey’s eyes, and it was the last thing he wanted to see. There was a reason he hid himself away for such a long time. The guilt, sympathy, or sadness for him was intolerable. He would be more understanding of the horror from other people than that. Anything but that. “Luke, I am so sorry—”
“No, it’s… it’s all right,” Luke stopped her. “I know you are just being nice, but…”
Luke didn't know what to say after that. He got up from his seat, but he wasn't going anywhere. He ended up taking the seat where Rey had been occupied by the window and watched the best of the night go by. The rain was falling in heavy streams now. The lightening was lessening, but it never lost its intensity. The bright light and the thunderous clap rung out, and all Luke did was watch it unfold. Just like what he did all those years ago.
“I don’t know how much you know already, Rey. Leia must have explained some things, but a long time ago Kylo Ren used to be known as Ben Organa Solo. A prince of Naboo, and a very sweet boy. That might be difficult for you to believe now, but he really was.” Luke smiled because it was true for a long time. He had so many memories of Ben during the good times, but they were eclipsed by the bad, that when Luke does remember them, it was still a surprise. “You know, when he was a baby he used to suck his thumb.”
Rey blinked at him in surprise. “I didn't know that.”
“One time he was so upset that he sucked on it so long that it was run raw. It was one of the few things that calmed him down. Whenever his parents got into a fight he would hide away in a corner and try to ignore it all. He did that until he was thirteen. He started getting bullied, so he wrapped duck tape around it to get himself out of the habit, so tight that he almost cut off the circulation. But it worked. He stopped, but once he did it was harder to tell when he was upset. He completely withdrew from everyone. Even me.”
Rey took the spare seat by the table and placed it opposite Luke so that they were facing each other, and when Luke looked up, her face was open and understanding. “You couldn’t have known, Luke.”
“He was my Padawan, Rey,” Luke said hoarsely. Just thinking about those memories was already pushing Luke to the edge of tears, and he wasn't sure if he could fight them off much longer. “I should've realised. I could've helped him block out Snoke, I could've been there, to save him, but he never said anything. He never told me what was happening. All this time, he was… he was feeling the call to the Dark side, and I thought he was doing well. Now all I can think about is all the things I missed, the signs that I didn't see… how could I have missed them all? It was my jobs as Jedi Master to resist the temptation, but I failed them. I failed him. Now because of my mistake I’ve lost my nephew. I’ve lost him forever.”
And Luke was right, the tears did begin to fall. They poured down his cheeks faster than he could hold them back and he was just too tired to even try and hide them. He let them be until they dripped of his chin and made a tiny puddle on the table.
Rey just sat there in silence while she carefully listening. When a sob broke through Luke’s chest, she took his hand in hers and gripped it tight. “Luke, I am so sorry for what happened… but Ben’s gone. He’s not coming back. But… but Kylo Ren is not Ben Solo anymore. He’s done some despicable things, I saw him kill Han, and he is going to keep killing for Snoke. And if the galaxy is going to be safe again, I need you to train me, and we need to stop them. We need to do everything we can to stop them.”
Luke may have been in the midst of tears, but he didn't miss Rey’s tone of voice. He knew there was another meaning to Rey’s words and it was that last sentence that solidified Luke’s presumptions. “And I know that what you are asking me to do is to help you kill my nephew.”
Rey didn't answer him, but Luke didn't need her to. He knew there was a chance that they would come to this, and Luke had been dreading it the whole time.
“I know we have to stop them, Rey… but I don’t know if I can help you do that.”
I’m sorry, Rey. But as long as I still remember the boy I once knew, I don’t think I can do that.
Sleep didn't come easy that night for Luke. His mind was all over the place to even contemplate relaxing, let alone rest, so the only thing Luke could do was wander the island like he used to in the first few days of his exile. His favourite spots would be the coast line, sometimes even the highest peak of the island for the view, but the spot Luke found himself was his meditation spot in the tree. Of all the places to go, it had to be the tree.
Every time he took a step into the warm confines, there was always a ray of light shining on the place where he kept his small stack of books. They were the only ones he had with him before he left the island. The rest of the library he had accumulated over the years had burned away in the Temple. There was nothing left to save, so he treasured these ones as much as he could. They were his new reading material, he had memorised ever single word of those pages and devoured the knowledge they had.
Books were a refuge for a lonely man’s haven, Luke thought with his fingertips tracing the leather spines of the copy he had. They were all he had for company and they were the only things that kept him sane.
Only… he wasn't completely alone.
“Obi-Wan?” Luke called out. “Are you there?”
He didn't get a response right away, but he could feel the growing presence surround him so he wasn't too far away. Luke waited though, and soon he was surrounded by a familiar presence he had not felt in a very long time.
“Luke, my boy…”
Luke turned around and the blue glow of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ghost met him by the edge of the entrance. “I am so, so sorry.”
“I don’t know what to do,” Luke admitted. “How did this happen?”
“I know it has been years since we last spoke, and I can not imagine the pain you have been through, so tell me what is troubling you. This young girl, tell me about her.”
“Rey? She’s not as different from when she was a child. But she has abilities now, and she is asking something of me that I can not do.”
“Are you sure that is true?”
“What do you mean?”
“It has been a long time since you have taken a student, my boy, but your time alone has made you doubt your own abilities. You did a great job with your other students and taught them well. You can’t let what happened with Ben cloud your judgment.”
“Cloud my judgement? Ben didn't just have a bad day. He went to the Dark side. He went to the Dark side and I didn't stop it. I failed.”
“But you are failing Rey in the process.”
Luke knows that, but how can he do what they are asking of him? “I can’t do it, Obi-Wan. I can’t. I tried my best, and now I have put the galaxy in danger because of my failures.”
“My boy,” Obi-Wan sighed in sympathy. “There is always hope. The galaxy was in the same state of affairs when the Empire was alive, but you and your friends were able to save it. Tell me, Luke, why didn't you kill Darth Vader when you knew he was on the Dark side?”
Luke was caught off by that question. He was surprised Obi-Wan had to ask that when he had told him so many years ago. “Because I felt there was still good in him.”
“And do you believe there is a chance that Ben could still have good in him?”
That was something Luke hadn't been able to consider, and now that he was put on the spot, he had no choice. He did think about it. Long and hard, but he wasn't sure if it was because he didn't trust his judgement anymore or because he genuinely couldn't find an answer, but after the minutes passed, Luke was no closer to giving an answer that would be helpful. “I don’t know.”
“Then put your faith in Rey. Maybe she is the hope we need today as you were many years ago…”
Luke didn't need to turn to know that Obi-Wan’s ghost was no longer there and he was on his own again. He had years to recognise the loneliness in the air. He had been friends with it for years, it was his only companion, but never has Luke wanted nothing more than to cut ties with it immediately. It was enough to leave even the most patient man restless.
Luke didn't sleep that night. He felt something plague his mind and dreams until the idea of rest was a thing of the past. And when he did try to sleep, his dreams were haunting, his head was swimming in images that were not coming from his own consciousness. Luke had never felt anything like this before, but those images never left him. In the end he had no choice but to let them flow, and in there faded linearity. Luke was caught up in a dream that he was certain was not his own…
All he felt was the heaviness weighing on his chest. He wouldn't have minded it, but he couldn't fill his lungs up fast enough. His chest hurt— no, wait. His whole body hurt. Especially his hip. There was a sharp sting that stung right in the bone, followed by a white hot pain that had him wincing under his oxygen mask with every small movement of his pelvis. It was going to take awhile for that to heal properly, and it will definitely leave a horrific scar. It won’t be as bad as the one left on his face…
But his chest was getting worse. It wasn't much longer until he felt like he couldn't breathe. He couldn’t— he needed to get out. Now. There wasn't much room in the tank, but that didn't matter. He didn't care. His hand banged against the glass, his bony pale fingers played out until they curled up into fists and punched away at the wall. He couldn't see if he was causing any damage. His black hair was swaying in his line of sight, but he kept fighting it. He punched, he kicked, wailed, cried, shouted, fought — anything to stop the growing ache in his chest until he felt like he couldn't breathe—
Luke woke up with a start. He took comfort in the familiarity of his own bedroom and the deep breaths he could take with ease, but those visions wouldn't go away. He didn't need to realise who it was he was seeing. Luke knew it before he saw any of his features. Luke could feel Kylo Ren through the Force, but he had never seen anything through his point of view before. This was new. But the pain he felt for the suffering of his son was very familiar.
Ben was afraid of drowning. That was his one fear, and now it was close to being realised.
And in the distance, Luke felt another soul waking from the same dream, clutching her chest and gasping for air.
It was a few days after that Kylo Ren kidnapped Rey again for the second time.
Luke didn't know how it happened. He didn't even think to worry about them coming here, he never showed this place to Ben, so there was no worry in him finding it. But he did. And now he has Rey again in his clutches.
Luke didn't know what to do. He was feeling a mix of helplessness at failing to save Rey, but he was also in shock at the thought of Ben being so close again, and he didn't know what he would do if he saw him again after all these years. He shook that thought quickly from his head. He couldn't be sentimental now. Rey needed his help. He had to help her.
But how? Luke tried to think of ways of how to get to her. Maybe on his ship? No, it hasn't flown in awhile and it must have rusted over in time. Maybe he could contact Leia and— no. He can’t tell Leia about what Kylo Ren has done, and make her see all the evil he has done. He could do that to her. And… Luke doesn't think he can face her after all these years apart. He was too ashamed. No. There had to be another way.
But the hours ticked by and Luke was still stuck on how finding it. It was getting to the point where Luke was desperate to do anything, and he was even contemplating using his connection with Leia to find help. Maybe it was time for Luke to swallow his shame and face up to one of the things he feared the most in his seclusion—
Luke jumped at the voice. “Rey!”
The young girl was walking up to him from the green shore, and Luke had never felt so much relief in such a long time. When she was close enough, Luke wrapped her in a hug which Rey returned in kind, and then he stepped back to check on her. No marks or injuries. She wasn't tortured. Thank the Force. “How did you escape?”
“I didn't escape,” Rey clarified. “He let me go.”
It wasn't his name, but the implication of who it implied was enough to have Luke reeling. “What? Why?”
Rey was about to answer Luke’s question, but a wave of doubt clouded her features and she waved it off like it was nothing. “He just did.”
Luke knew there was more to it, but it didn't seem like Rey was ready to talk. That made Luke worry even more. There was no way Rey would keep something that didn't mean anything to her. Oh, what did Kylo Ren do?
“You saw him?” Luke asked, preparing himself for the answers he dreaded to hear.
Rey nodded. “Yes. I did.”
Luke gulped. “How was he?”
“The same as I last saw him.”
“And…” Luke took a deep breath and took the dreaded leap. “What did he do to you?”
Rey must have seen the apprehension in Luke’s eyes and instantly tried to deflect them away. “He didn’t hurt me, Luke.”
“Rey, you don’t have to lie for my sake.”
“I’m telling the truth,” Rey insisted. “He never laid a finger on me. Actually, he was really nice. It was strange.”
Yeah, that was strange, but Luke shook his head. “But if he didn't hurt you then why did he take you?”
“That was the strange part. He wanted me to retrieve files from an old corrupted medical droid. One of the old 2–1B units. I haven't seen one of those in years.”
Luke was certain he felt his heart freeze up and try to make it’s way up to his throat. A 2-1B unit? That was the droid who cared for him in Dagobah. When he was expecting Ben. But it was impossible for Ben to have tracked him. He didn't even know that the droid existed, and if it was the same one…
Luke tried to compose himself as fast as he could. Rey was watching him carefully, and he couldn't let himself show how distressed he was by this information. “That is unusual. Did he tell you why he wanted them?”
Rey shook her head. “He just said his birth records were in there. He was desperate to find them. Why would he look for those?”
“I don’t know.”
Birth records? Ben was looking for his birth records?
Luke didn't want to think about the implications right now. No matter how badly the thought scared him. If he was looking for them, then does that mean…“And did you? Recover the records?”
Rey seemed surprised by that question and watched Luke carefully. “No, it was too corrupted. No one could get anything from it. Why? Would I have found something it I could?”
Luke shook his head quickly. “No. No, there is nothing there.”
“Kylo Ren thought otherwise.”
Luke didn't need to look into Rey’s eyes to know that she was unconvinced by his explanation. He didn't blame her. If Luke was in her shoes then he would think the same way, but… he can’t tell her. He can’t. He was incapable of saying anything for so long and now there was a chance that Ben…
If he had gone looking for that droid, does that mean he knows?
Maybe he was just after his birth records to legitimise his claim as a Sith Lord. A descendent of the great Darth Vader. That’s it. That must be it. Han and Leia promised to never let it slip the truth. Neither did Luke. He couldn't have known. He can’t.
No. He can’t. It was a good thing that Luke wiped those files. Medical droids were incapable of lying on official forms, and if Kylo Ren had read the truth…
He didn't want to think about it. No. He can’t.
Luke took a deep breath to calm himself and placed a hand on Rey’s shoulder. “I’m sure you’ve had a traumatic day. You should get some rest. We’ll talk in the morning.”
But Rey didn't move from under his grip. “Are you sure? You seemed rattled.”
“I’m fine. I’m just relieved that you were unharmed.”
It took some more convincing, but Rey finally went away to her own quarters to rest, but Luke knew he was not going to be able rest tonight.
The next few days were unusual in itself, but there was something different in the way Rey was acting. The first time she joined him on Ahch-To, she had never stopped in her attempts to convince Luke to train her. That was still there, but… Luke didn't know how to explain it, but there was something else that was drawing her attention away. Some days she seemed distracted. Rey was always busy and preoccupied, she was never lost in thought, but this time she was. Luke would’ve believed that it was the way Rey had changed over time. He was remembering her as her child-like self, but Rey was still the same in the first few days that she stayed with him. This… this was not like Rey.
Luke had tried to talk to her about it. Multiple times, but Rey was always evasive. She stuck to the same story, told him what she thought he wanted to hear, but Luke knew there was something that happened during those hours she was with Kylo Ren. And it made Luke worry deeply. He couldn't stop his mind from wondering about what had happened, what he might have done to make Rey lie to him, but they were all the worst case scenario. She swore he didn't hurt her. She swore up and down that he never tried to harm her in anyway, but…
But what happened between them?
Rey refused to tell him. Why? He doesn't know. Luke wants to know desperately, but there was something happening behind her eyes that held the key to it all. The reason behind her vacant stare and distant gaze that held such longing, and Luke wanted to know what it was, but how can he when Rey won’t say anything?
What is she hiding?
Ben had changed so much after the birth. It was a moment Luke would cherish for years. It was the last memory of him as a newborn and how he marvelled at the change he had gone through in the days of his birth. His skin was pink and plump, no longer that purple tone he once was, and his hair was a dark halo around his cherub face. Luke remembered every single detail of that memory, but something about this dream was different.
Ben was wide awake this time. His bright blue eyes were gazing up at everything around him with innocent wonder and wide eyed curiosity. Luke never appreciated how blue they were until they had changed over the time he was away and now he misses them like crazy. But they are just a memory now. They weren't coming back. Just like this version of Ben is never coming back.
In the midst of his wriggling around in his blankets and cushions, Ben’s eyes landed squarely on Luke. It was impossible for a baby to have that much focus, but Luke felt as if Ben was staring right into his soul.
It was unnerving how intently he was staring at Luke, but he couldn't bring himself to look away. He watched him a little longer, and he couldn't resist the urge to reach his hand out to him, so he didn’t bother. He let his fingers play with his thick locks, letting the strands fall between them and watch Ben wriggle around again. It was something any other baby would do, but Luke couldn't help but be in awe at every move he made.
But then something changed. Ben lifted up his gaze again, but his eyes were no longer the blue they were, nor even the brown they came to be. They were black. Pitch black, and it had Luke scared by what he was seeing. By the Darkness that eclipsed the innocence.
“W-wh… why didn't you want me?”
And Luke woke up with a start from his own bed. It took a few minutes for him to get his heart rate down and to think clearly, but it wasn't easy. His mind was racing from his dream and they still circulated over and over again.
But there was something else that was nagging on his mind. He could feel something happening through the Force. It felt like a small current going through him, but it’s focus was on something else. It was calling to Luke, or at least he thinks it is, and he didn't want to ignore what it was. But it wasn't meant for him. Luke had felt the Force many times in his life, he knows its power, but this was too subtle for it to be calling to him. No. This was for someone else, but they wanted Luke to listen.
And so he did.
Luke waited for the Force to take its course. It might be minutes, hours or even days, but Luke learned to be patient with it. So he sat in his bed and waited for what the call was.
It was a silent hum. Someone was searching someone out to talk, and they were eager to hear the other voice call out.
Luke froze. He knows that voice. It was slightly deeper and rough, but it was him.
He was speaking through the Force, but Luke knew that wasn't right. You needed a link to speak through the Force, but how—
“What are you doing? You can’t talk to me, you need to leave. Now.”
That was Rey’s voice. It was soft, almost hesitant in the way she answered Kylo Ren, but she sounded more unsure than scared. Like she shouldn't be doing this.
“Yes, you can, Rey. You don’t understand, he could hear you too if you don't leave.”
“No. I’m not scared of Snoke. I’m not leaving until you tell me.”
“I told you everything. We’ve never met before.”
“That’s a lie.”
“No, it isn’t.”
They were speaking through a connection? How is that possible? It should take time to make a connection like that, but Kylo and Rey were already speaking through a… a Force bond. Did they have a Force bond?
That would explain Rey’s absentmindedness. She must have been speaking through to him, but how could that even be possible? They didn't spend enough time to create a connection, they didn't even like each other!
Whatever thought Luke had next was interrupted by Rey’s voice reply back to Kylo. They mustn’t have realised that Luke could hear them because they just kept going.
“You can’t lie to me. I know when you are lying. I can feel it.”
“It only gets worse if you use this connection more. If you value your safety than you will sever it.”
“I don’t want to. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
“Why are you doing this? What do you want?”
“I don’t know. But I feel like I know you and every time I try and figure out why… how do I know you?”
“Don’t lie to me!”
“I’ve never lied to you. You don’t know who I am now.”
“But I knew you before? “
Ben was silent, but it was answer enough.
“Please tell me. Ben, please—“
“Don’t call me that. I’m not him anymore. Ben Solo has been gone for a very long time.”
“No, he isn’t. Han believed it. I think he was right.”
“Han would be alive if he was.”
Rey didn't say anything for a long while, but Kylo Ren’s voice was full of regret and mourning. Luke didn't want to think to much on what that could mean. He didn't want to get his hopes up.
“I think your uncle believes Ben is alive.”
“Please don’t talk about my uncle.”
“I can feel how much it hurts you when you think about him. I wish I could help—“
“No, you don’t! Why are you acting this way? You wanted to kill me not long ago, and now this?”
“You think I like feeling this way? I’m just as confused as you are.”
“Then save yourself. Sever the connection.”
“You know I can’t.”
“You have no idea what you are doing…”
“What am I doing? Why are you trying to push me away after everything you told me before? You don’t get to tell me your deepest thoughts and then just walk away. What are you hiding?”
Ben didn't answer her straight away, but he didn't need to. Luke could feel Ben’s emotions as if they were his own, the pain and the confusion. It was all swimming in Luke’s head, the foreign feelings that were thrumming through the Force.
And Rey knew it, as well. “You feel it too, don’t you?”
They were met with another silence, but Luke didn't need the words to know what Ben was feeling. There was a pang in the pit of his stomach, and… what was he feeling? Luke couldn't figure out what it was, and maybe that was the source of Kylo’s conflict. He didn't know what he was feeling towards this young girl. Of course, Luke realised. He would remember their time together. Rey is not just an adversary to him. Maybe she was never an adversary in the first place…
“What’s happening to us?”
“I don’t know.”
“I can feel it. Everything you are feeling, I feel it like it’s my own. I know you feel the same. And I can feel how torn you are. You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to destroy the galaxy like Snoke wants you to. So if there is a chance… come home. Let Ben come home. Your mother misses you, your uncle too, and if he means as much as you said the last time than you would come back. Please, come home…”
It was at that moment where Luke couldn't tell the difference between his own feelings and Ben’s. After all these years, feeling his pain and anguish at the hands of Snoke, Luke lost his ability to tell whose emotions were the others. It had become so ingrained in his soul, he couldn't imagine a time when he didn't feel the other’s pain so intensely. For all that has happened between them, Luke couldn't tell if it was Ben that was holding his breath for his answer or whether it was Luke. The only thing he could tell was true was the anxious wait for what he would decide in the end, and he wouldn't be able to relax until he heard the answer.
And before Kylo Ren could say the words, he already knew that answer.
“No, Rey. I can’t. It’s too late for me now, I can’t go back. I’m doing this for your sake, don’t talk to me again. He going to be listening to everything in my head, even you. This has to stop. But I want you to remember this. When we meet in person again, you have to kill me.”
“Listen to me, Rey. You take that sabre, you take that sabre and use it to kill me. I don’t want my uncle to have to do it. If he can’t, you have to do it for him. I don’t want him to live with that burden.”
“No, there has to be—“
And that was the end. Kylo Ren cut off the connection, an act that was painful in itself and Luke could practically feel Rey gasp in pain from the sting of it. It was like a thunderbolt bolt of lightening through their brain. Kylo Ren might have cut off the connection, but that doesn't mean it was severed. You would need both participants to agree to that, but what Kylo Ren did was block his end. Rey couldn't read him anymore, and that is distressing in itself.
Luke wasn't surprised when Rey came to him the next morning with a stricken look in her eyes. She didn't even begin with the usual morning pleasantries. She just sought Luke out, approached him with determination radiating through her body and blurted out what she wanted.
“I need you to help me remember.”
And after what Luke had heard last night, he nodded without question.
To help her remember, Luke decided to take her to the cave. It would help to relax her mind better in a space like this and help her to focus on the memories she wanted to access.
There was enough space for them to sit cross-legged and facing each other on the ground. Once they were comfortable, Luke reached out his hands, palm open for Rey to take, but not yet. He needed to make sure she knew what she was letting themselves in for.
“Remember, Rey. I can only guide you. You are the one in control here. Everything you see in your mind will be on your own control. I can only hold your hands and keeping you steady. Do you understand?”
Rey nodded, her eyes closed. She put her hands into Luke’s and he closes his eyes with her. And then they let the Force take them away…
The first thing they saw was the darkness. That was not unusual. Rey didn't know where to go yet. This was her first time doing this, but she will get there in the end. Luke knew she would.
Wait… he could hear something. It was faint but he could hear it. It sounded like the rush of feet again the soft ground, but Luke couldn't see anything. All he had was the sound to go by. What kind of memory was this?
But then there was something else that caught his attention.
Beeping. From a droid.
That was him. He knew that familiar beeping anywhere. Rey had told him about R2 waking up from the low power mode, but this didn't feel like a recent memory. There was something old about it. Something that hadn't been touched in a very long time…
It was still a jumbled mess of noise and sound that didn't make sense to either of them. Luke could feel Rey’s confusion through the connection they had, but it didn't seem to get any better. Rey’s hands were tightening in Luke’s grip, even she was getting confused and this was from her memory. That means she didn't recognise it. If she was with R2 in a time she didn't remember, then that means—
Luke tried his best not to flinch at the voice. He knew it just as well as R2’s beeping. Ben. It was his Ben.
And even Rey flinched at the sound of his voice. She didn't recognise him, but she knew him at the same time. This was new territory they were stepping in, but Rey kept going with the path she had taken, even when she identified the voice of her younger self talking back to him.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my castle?”
“I’m not in your castle, what are you doing in my hut?”
The hut? This must have been their first meeting, Luke guessed. Rey found their first memory together.
“I found it. I like it here.”
“So do I, but you shouldn’t go into people’s houses on your own like this. You never know who lives there.”
“But I’m not on my own, I’m with you.”
“That’s sweet, but you don’t know me. I’m a stranger to you. I could be a bad person.”
Luke swallowed down the lump in his throat that last line caused.
“Would a bad person say they were a bad person to a stranger?”
“Clever assumption, but you know what I mean. Who are you, anyway?”
“No. You’re not allowed in.”
Ben’s voice was full of confusion. “Why not?”
“You shouldn’t let strangers into people’s houses.”
Ben laughed a that. “Good rule. May I ask permission to come in?”
“Okay. You can be my guest.”
“I like that. I’m your guest.
In the midst of her meditation, Rey gasped. There was something about what Ben said that caused her some distressed.
“Now can I know who you are? Shouldn't you be at the school?”
“No. I don’t want to be there.”
“I don’t want to be here. I want to go home.”
“… I know how you feel.”
Ben’s voice was full of sadness and longing. Both of them were. That was something they both shared.
But it was interrupted by the angry beeping of R2-D2.
“Wait— Did you tie rope around my droid?”
“He was a stranger in my castle. I had to be careful.”
“You are a strange little girl, you know that?”
It was followed by the sound of giggles between the two of them, the sounds of the beginnings of a promising friendship. But only Luke knew how this was going to end…
“So who are you, strange girl?”
“I’m Rey. What’s your name?”
Before they could reach the end of that line, a flash of pain coursed through Rey’s skull. She cried out in agony and tore her hands away from Luke’s to grab at her head, the pain washing over her in spades. It was crippling, but when Rey let go of the memory, the pain started to subside. She was able to open her eyes to the dim light of the room and to Luke looming over her with concern.
With Luke’s help, she was able to get back into a sitting position, but she was still a little dazed by what just happened. In the end, she shook her head and grabbed hold of Luke’s hands again. “I’m fine, I’m fine. Let’s go again.”
“We can’t start again.”
“No!” Rey scolded. “I’m not done. Start again.”
“Rey, I can’t. There’s something blocking it. There’s a reason you can’t remember it. You’re not allowed to.”
Luke could feel the barrier around Rey’s mind when they were meditating, but it wasn't like anything he had seen before. It was a blockade around it. There were only so many things Rey was allowed to remember, but Luke would have to go deeper into her head just to find out what it was, but that would hurt her in the process. He didn't want to cause her anymore pain.
It still didn't stop his questions. The only person who could put a block like that on a person’s mind is another Force user, but this type of mind manipulation has never been seen before. Luke has never tried it. It would be against his morals as a Jedi.
Could Ben have done it? But why would he do that? To save her? Was it under the orders of Snoke?
Snoke wouldn't allow that. He wouldn't risk another Force user to go against his plans. Unless Rey was a back up in case Ben didn't live up to his expectations. But isn't that what Nex and the others were for in the Knights of Ren? Luke doesn't know what the right answer is for this. Maybe he never will.
“But I remember that,” Rey whispered, interrupting Luke’s thought process. “I remember that conversation, I remember all of it… but who was that? I can’t remember who that was. And that ‘be my guest’… that’s what Kylo Ren said. How could he know that?”
Luke didn't think he could say anything without distressing her even more. “I can’t answer that for you, Rey.”
Rey closed her eyes in frustration at what was happening. Her mind seemed to be preoccupied by the events that had just occurred and Luke could see her frown deepening with confusion at every second that she couldn’t find the answer. In the end, she gave up with a shake of the head, but when she looked directly at Luke, he saw the usual determination that burned in her eyes.“But I knew him.”
So did I, Luke thought. So did I…
Rey didn't give up on Luke until the next day when the Jedi Master agreed to try the meditation again, but this time Luke decided to take the reins. He was going to help Rey find what was in her mind, but he knew to stay away from the barrier. He couldn't risk Rey trying to repeat what happened the previous day. She would end up frying her brain trying to figure it out. Luke couldn't let that happen to her.
They were back where they were before in their usual positions. Rey already had her hands out for Luke to take them and he gripped them tight. He guided Rey to take deep breaths, calm herself and then he took her to the darkness again…
Luke let that word calm over Rey and she took a deep inhale through her nose and out again.
Luke could feel the tension leave her body as she let the Jedi Master guide her through her mind.
“What do you see?”
Rey took a moment to articulate what she could visualise. It began to clear and form until she had enough details to word with. “The sun. The heat. It was so hot that day, more than usual. It kept hurting my eyes, I had to cover them. I can feel the sand between my toes… I’m near a hut. There’s someone with me.”
Now that Rey had found the memory, Luke was urging her to cling onto it. He didn't think she wanted to. This memory was different from the last one. Luke and Rey were able to access it without restraint or worry. The last one was shadowed with a sense of dread, but Luke wasn't sure if it was his feelings that were clouding his judgement, but this… this felt like an encouragement. That this was the place she needed to be.
“Who is this person?” Luke asked.
“I know him. I’ve known him all my life…” Rey was feeling unsure about herself, but Luke gripped her hands tighter.
“It’s okay, Rey. Don’t break concentration. What else do you see?”
Rey took a deep breath and focused on what she was seeing. “I’m with a boy and a girl. I know them both. We’re playing a game. We have to stare at the sun for as long as we can, but I keep losing. The boy and the girl keep beating me, but I don’t mind. I feel safe with them.”
“Do you know who they are?”
“Who are they?”
Rey shook her head. “I-I don’t…”
But Luke didn't have to make her answer him. He could see the images of the two kids forming in his own mind. They were no older than Rey, only by a few years, but they were striking just like Rey. They had the same features and their eyes… they were the same. These kids must be Rey’s brother and sister. There was no other explanation for it. Luke knew about her parents, but he never considered that she had siblings. Oh Force, Rey had lost more of her family than she had realised.
But there was something else that caught Rey’s attention. “Wait…”
There was a woman. The moment the children saw her they ran over to her side. The older two were chattering away non-stop and trying to get her attention, but Rey was calmer. She must have been very young in this memory. She was slower than her siblings, but when she got there in the end she was rewarded with a large smile. The woman picked her up from the spot and settled her against her hip, peppering her cheek with raspberry kisses that left Rey in a fit of giggles.
It was an adoring sight, but the image had Rey welling up with tears behind her closed eyes. “Mum?”
There was no doubt this woman was Rey’s mother. Luke wouldn't have guessed that from just one look. This woman had a darker complexion from time spent out under the hot sun, and her hair was incredibly long and black with rippling waves down to her back. What gave it away was the way they smiled and the twinkle in their eyes. It was something that went deeper then looks. They were alike in spirit.
But Rey was growing more distressed by the second, and suddenly she was whipping her head around the place like she was looking for someone.
“Rey? Is something wrong?” Luke asked.
“My dad? He’s here. I want to find him. Where is he?”
“Only you can tell me, Rey. Stay calm. Show me the way.”
Rey needed more convincing, but Luke was able to get her there in the end. He didn't want to push Rey to far and was even considering stopping once in a while, but Rey was progressing so much already. So they carried on. Once Rey was composed enough, they began again.
They were back to where they were before, only the memory had changed. The kids were at the table, with Rey sitting in her mother’s lap and eating away at the food in front of her on the table. Suddenly, the kids attention was soon pulled away from their meals and focused on the door. Someone is coming in, but he wasn't an interloper. He was welcomed here. They were waiting for him.
And when he finally walked through the door, it was Luke who was struck by what he saw.
The man walked in and it was like any sight of a weary father after a long day coming home to his family. The kids called out his name and ran over to his waiting arms and he hugged them with new-found strength. Once he had put them down, the man crossed over to the room and greeted his wife with an eager kiss and picked Rey up from her mother and was hugged tight against his chest, just like with her siblings.
Now there was nothing remarkable about this man. He wore the clothes of a simple farmer, just like Luke’s Uncle Owen and he didn't seem like the type to cause up too much of a stir anywhere. But to Luke the sight of this man had him in shock. Rey was the image of him. They had the same hair, pale skin — she was like a mini female version of him. Luke couldn't bring himself to turn his focus away. He kept looking back at his face, more sure that he had made a mistake, but he wasn’t. That man was real, and Luke didn't need to question what he was looking at. He could only draw up one conclusion.
This man, Rey’s father…
He looked exactly like Obi-Wan as a young man.
Luke rushed over to the tree when it was late enough because he did not want Rey to ask about the anger radiating off him. He could feel it deep in his bones and through the Force, but he had to stay calm. That was getting harder by the second.
He didn't even wait for the familiar Force ghost to make an appearance. He couldn't wait. He had to speak before it destroyed him. In the lonely cave, with nothing but his books, Luke called out to the air. “You had a child, didn’t you? Rey is your granddaughter.”
Luke spun at the voice behind him to find the blue glow of his old Jedi Master watching him carefully. “You knew all this time.”
“I did, but I did not expect Rey to ever cross your path, let alone twice.”
“Were you ever going to mention it? You had a child and you failed to tell anyone!”
“There was never any need to. I was never in his life. In fact, I doubt he ever knew I existed. His mother married not long after his birth. Her husband was a kind gentleman and was the only father my son ever needed.”
That didn't do anything to dissipate Luke’s anger. In fact, it only made it worse. “Tell me the truth. What happened? When did this happen?”
Obi-Wan took a seat by the books and readied himself for his great secret. “You were only an infant then, Luke. I had to hide away after the destruction of the Jedi, and in my isolation I met a woman. It was not something I had expected to feel, but I cared for her. I had… I had not expected to feel as deeply as I did for her, and… I was weak to stop myself from the falling for her. But I couldn’t let it carry on. I had my duties. The Council was destroyed and all my friends gone, but I was still a Jedi. I couldn't let my feelings get in the way of my path, so I had no choice but to end it.”
Obi-Wan’s vice drifted off, his eyes seemingly lost in the memory of this woman. She must have been someone very special to catch the old Jedi’s eye and on any other day Luke would've been sympathetic, but not now. Not after what has happened.
Luke waited for Obi-Wan to finish his story and soon he carried on from where he left off. “It was later I discovered she bore a son. I had kept an eye on him from afar. I did not detect any Force abilities within him, and for that I was relieved. He had lived a normal life. He married a lovely woman, and they had three children, but it did not last. There was an illness spreading around the village they resided. It killed my son, his wife and two of their children. I don’t know how Rey survived, but she was the youngest and the strongest. I doubt she has any memories of her family, but I always kept a close eye on her. It felt like fate when she came across your path. What were the chances of that?”
But Luke didn't want to think about that. He couldn't think anything past the growing rage in his pit at Obi-Wan’s words and he couldn't bring himself to see this situation rationally. He couldn't bring himself to be the rational person anymore. “You hypocrite. Follow the ways of the Jedi, no personal attachments, you made me give up my son—”
“Luke, I know you are angry, but we both know your decision was not influenced by me,” Obi-Wan replied calmly.
“But you said—”
“What I said were what was expected of the Jedi. I never told you to give up Ben. That was a decision you had made on your own and by your own initiative.”
“Wait? Are you saying I didn’t have to—”
“Luke, please. You understood that being a Jedi held certain responsibilities. I accepted them when I joined the Council, and I was surrounded by others who understood the choices we made.”
“I understood that choice,” Luke argued.
“But you had to go it alone,” Obi-Wan pointed out. “You were in a harder position than the rest of us. It was only natural that you would falter in your decision. I never believed I would face that situation as you did, but I was wrong. You must understand. I was in isolation, alone. I was living on a planet where I knew hardly anyone, and could not make new connections. I was lost, Luke. I was lost for a long time. I was one of the few Jedi to remain, but Yoda was far away in his own exile and I was forced to endure mine. I was no longer Obi-Wan the Jedi Knight. I was Ben, the strange old hermit. It was hard for me. I have made the exact same mistakes you made, that’s why I never judged you badly for your indiscretions because I was guilty of the same ones. And I understood your anguish more than you realise.”
“No, you don’t,” Luke spat. “You were never involved. Keeping an eye from afar? I was there, Obi-Wan. I was still in his life. I brought him into this world and hand him over, I saw him change drastically with every year that I saw him, I saw him call Leia his mother and cry out for her. You have no idea how much that hurts. It’s like a physical ache in your chest. You have no idea what I am feeling!”
“No!” Luke shouted. He was no going to let Obi-Wan speak. He wasn't done. “I have given everything to the Jedi life. I did everything I was suppose to because that was what was expected of me. What do I have? Nothing! I have nothing, Obi-Wan. We have all of these rules and expectation, but what the hell for? So that you can guide me while you walk out on your kid? So that I can focus on other people’s children rather than focus on my own? We have dedicated everything and what do we get? Nothing. I brought back the old ways of the Jedi. Maybe I should've realised that they were extinct for a reason.”
And Obi-Wan finally looked away in… embarrassment? Shame? Luke wasn't sure and he didn't care. He got a reaction out of the old man. His words have had effect.
Luke did not waste anymore time in that cave. He has said all he has had to say. The anger was still burning inside of him, but there was no more left to say.
Underneath the lid of a wooden box lay the relic of Luke Skywalker’s green lightsaber that has been hidden away for a number of years. The box itself had not been touched for years. Until now.
Luke had to wiped the layer of dust that covered it, but as he opened the box, his lightsaber was still pristine and perfect despite the absent years. He count believe it had been so long, but he was going to make up for it now.
Yes, he was still angry at Obi-Wan, but it was getting harder and harder to keep the anger focused on the old master. He was a victim to the old ways, just as much as Luke was victim to believing he should continue to follow them. Darth Vader rose from the ashes of the Jedi Council. Kylo Ren rose from the ashes of the Jedi Academy. The Sith were rising from the downfall of the Jedi. That could not be a coincidence.
And Luke can see it now. After what has happened with his own son, Luke can understand his father’s reasoning, his motivation, even if it was a stretch, but it was all the same. The Jedi were flawed by their own rules and those rules were creating monsters in their own teachings, even if they didn't mean to.
And all these year, Luke believed he was a failure to the Jedi for having Ben, but he wasn't the only one. Obi-Wan, Anakin — the strong ones and they all crumbled under their pressures and thy were forced to hide them away because they believed them, Padme and Obi-Wan’s child, to be wrong or shameful.
Ben was never a source of shame for Luke. He was ashamed of his conception, but that was for an entirely different reason. Luke may have broken his Jedi Code, but that never stopped him from loving him. Luke wasn't going to lie. Everything that has happened was his fault. Ben’s pain was his fault and that led him to Snoke. Of course it was Luke’s fault and that will haunt him forever.
But it was time to face it. Ben is gone. He’s not coming back. And Kylo Ren has to be stopped.
He knows what he has to do now.
When Luke searched for Rey again, he found her standing by the shore line and watching the crashing waves. It was something very reminiscent of how Luke would spend his days when he was in isolation, but not anymore. And he was not going to let Rey spend her life like that either.
“Something is changing out there,” Rey said when she sensed Luke near by. “I can feel it. There’s been a disturbance.”
“There has,” Luke agreed. “But we can focus on that after you collect your lightsaber.”
“My lightsaber?” Rey asked, turning her head to Luke’s direction.
“We have a lot of work to do if you wish to face the Dark side.”
“Work?” Rey seemed confused until clarity began to seep into her eyes. “You’re going to train me?”
“Yes, but it won’t be the same,” Luke warned. “I will teach you everything I know, everything, but there will be changes to the old ways. I have been reading about a new way of the Force, a balance between the Light and the Dark side. It might be able to work, but we don’t have a lot of time to discuss it. Let’s go.”
Luke was about to head out, but he turned his gaze over to Rey. She was watching him carefully with an odd look across her features. Luke had no idea what was going through her mind. He couldn't get a sense of what she was feeling, but it had him feeling self-conscious and exposed until he couldn't take it anymore. “Rey? What’s going on?”
Rey didn't answer him straight away and she kept her gaze locked on him. “What made you change your mind?”
So many things crossed Luke’s mind, but he only answered Rey with a simple sentence. “It was time I faced the truth.”
And there was only one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.
Hey, I had to change this into a three parter because this chapter got a bit too long, so I had to expand it a bit. Sorry that you have to wait for another chapter, but I hope you like this one.
The Grey Jedi mantra was something I found online. It's not an original script in case anyone wonders.
Also, some of the italics getting pretty sexually explicit and there are references to drug use.
I hope you like it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
And just as she was before, Rey grew to be exceptional.
Luke wasn't surprised by how well she took to the new teachings. It was very different to the way she had learned previously, but then she didn't seem to remember that time, so this was all new to her in general. Luke knew otherwise. When Rey told him about her fight with Kylo Ren in the snow, he could see that her old training techniques had bled through. There was no way she would've been able to fight him alone, no matter how skilled a fighter Rey is. When you have the Force by your side, you can do just about anything with the right training.
And training was different this time. For the both of them.
Luke had years to learn about this new method of the Force, but he had never implemented it in teaching form. They only existed in the copies of the books he was able to bring with him before the Jedi were purged out of existence, so Luke had no idea whether he was implementing it correctly. This could all be an effort in futility for all he knew, but they had to try.
It had to work.
Luke couldn't teach her the Jedi Code after everything that has happened and with everything he knew.
This had to work.
It had to.
Luke wasn't with Rey this time. No. Today she was on the farthest part of the island. Luke decided to stay behind in the tree, but it wasn't for meditation. This was for her training.
Luke was sitting cross-legged on the floor, the ray of light beaming its way into the dark space and shining over him. He could feel Rey from far away. He could feel her uncertainty, she didn't feel strong enough to attempt this. That was okay. Luke was there to guide her. He wouldn't let her falter. He wouldn't let her do this if he wasn't certain she could shine.
Luke didn't want to drag this out for her much longer. He took a deep breath and finally began. “Let it out, Rey. Everything you are feeling. All of it. Forget all of what you believe the Jedi to be. Learn only what you need to know now…”
He felt Rey grasp on to the tendrils of every bit of information Luke was giving her. She clutched at them, savoured them deep into the confines of her mind and followed Luke’s instructions to the latter.
They had a rudimentary connection built between them now. Luke could feel what was going through her head most of the time, and now she was clearing her mind from all that need not be there. Everything was forgotten and thrown away. All that she had to focus on was Luke’s voice…
And when that happened, Luke felt the rumbles of the Force flow through her. Rey felt it too, but this time she was not scared. She welcomed it with open arms and let it be her guide with Luke by her side. It got stronger by the minute.
This was good. They were heading down the right path…
“Remember this, Rey. This will be your Code,” Luke instructed and began the mantra he had only read about in his trusted books. Now was the time to put them to effect. “There is no Dark Side, nor Light Side. There is only the Force.”
Luke felt the Force grow stronger within her. It flowed through her, in every limb and every vein until she was completely one with it. But this was different. This is a new type of Force. One that Luke had not experienced. Not even when the Dark side called to him. This was the new side of the Force finally coming to fruition.
And with that encouragement, Luke carried on. “I will do what I must to keep the balance. The balance is what keeps me together.”
And as he said those words, Luke felt something happen.
In all those lost years that Luke had taught Rey, she had never taken to the Light side with so much ease. She was a good student, but she didn't take to it very well like his other students. Luke always assumed it was because her abilities hadn't come to the surface yet. He was wrong. Rey was taking to this new side better than any of his other students to the Light.
He could even feel the power surge around her. It moved the material around her. The rocks and pebbles littered around her hands and feet began to levitate in the air, and this was with minimal effort.
“There is no good without evil, but evil must not be allowed to flourish.”
The Force thrummed even louder. Stronger. Powerful.
This is where Luke needed to guide her. Before she was overcome by it.
“There is passion, yet emotion.”
And Luke felt Rey calm down at the sound of his voice. She took a deep breath and let him wield the Force as much as she could and brought it down until it was manageable.
“Serenity, yet peace.”
The thrumming began to die away, but its presence was still felt.
“Chaos, yet order.”
And with that the thrumming was gone.
Luke knew what this meant. This was the moment where he would find out if it worked or not. “What do you see?”
Rey took a moment to answer him through the Force. “Light… Darkness…”
Luke held his breath. He might have just exposed Rey in the worst possible way to the Dark side. The power was strong, it might have overcome her, and height have lost her in the worst way possible. Just like he did with Ben.
But then Rey spoke again.
The balance. Luke felt a giant weight come off his shoulders.
This is what they were looking for.
The balance within the Force.
Luke smiled to himself. “It’s so much bigger.”
So here it begins.
Rey Kenobi, the beginning of a new generation of the Grey Jedi.
Something new was stirring up in the distance.
Luke and Rey felt it at the same time when they were in the middle of training. Rey was learning the control of her lightsaber when they felt something rumble through the Force. It was a shock to the both of them, but it had Rey in a state of panic. Luke didn't understand what was going on at first. All he felt was a sense of danger, but he wasn't sure where it was coming from. It was Rey who had to tell him what was happening.
The First Order are attacking the Resistance base.
Luke knew what that meant before Rey did. Rey had her friends there. She mentioned her friend Finn and the injuries he sustained at Kylo Ren’s hand, but he was in greater danger now that he could not protect himself.
And there was Poe. Luke only knew him as a member of the Resistance, Tekka knew him vey well before his passing. He felt his old friend’s death just as much as he felt Han’s, he was one of the few who knew where he ran off to before he moved on to the next place. He was a good friend, and Luke didn't need to know who it was that killed him. He knew that already, too.
But all his other friends, the ones that were by his side during the fight against the Empire. They were all there. They were all in danger.
And Leia was there.
She was in danger. And she needed her brother.
Luke knew what that meant before Rey did. She thought about her friends, Luke’s mind was on his sister.
He had spent the last few years ignoring her calls and cries for him. Luke was too ashamed to answer them, too ashamed to see the pain he had caused her, and too ashamed of the secret he kept hidden away that had led to all of this heartache. It was all his fault, and Luke was too much of a coward to face it.
But he can’t be a coward now. He has lost Ben, he lost Tekka, and he lost Han. He might lose more if Luke doesn't do something. And he can’t bear losing Leia.
Luke knew what he had to do.
It was time to come out of hiding.
They had everything they needed packed up in the ship before it was time to go. Rey didn't question Luke when he said they needed to leave. She even helped with loading the last of the things they needed, and they were off in that same hour.
They were in mid air, with Luke flying whilst Rey told him where to go. The base wasn't too far away. They would be there within the hour, but something was bugging Luke. Something from earlier with when he was training Rey…
He couldn't ignore it much longer. He had to know. “Rey, how did you know the Resistance base was being attacked? All I felt was a disturbance. How did you know what was happening?”
It was a stupid question, in hindsight. There was only one other way Rey would know something like that. Luke knew the answer before she had even uttered a word. So when she did answer him, Luke was a it more prepared for the answer he got.
“He told me,” Rey admitted.
Luke didn't say anything to that. He just kept on flying to where they needed to go.
Nothing else was said between them for hours.
In the end, Rey was able to direct them to where Luke needed to land. It was further away from where Luke had remembered where the last base was located. Leia must have moved them in the time he was gone. This place was more secluded, safer. At least they thought it was safer…
Luke couldn't fight off the wince when they flew close enough to the site. He couldn’t. It was like returning to the Academy after… just after it happened. All the buildings were ablaze, the air was thick with the black clouds of smoke and ash, so much so that Luke felt as if he couldn't breathe. It was choking Rey, too. There was so much destruction around them.
And there was no sign of anyone.
In all the wreckage around them, Luke could not see a flicker of life anywhere. Nothing. Not even through the Force. No one was here. No one alive, that is. That had Luke in a state of panic. Could that mean—
No. Leia isn't dead. He would've felt it if she was. He felt Han’s and Tekka’s, he definitely would have felt Leia’s.
But right now he doesn't feel anything. There was no indication of what happened to her. Luke couldn't even tell if she was hurt. He can’t stand this perpetual silence. He needed to find Leia. Now.
So after all these years of ignoring her pleas and calls, Luke finally closed his eyes against the ashy breeze and made contact for the first time in a long time. He reached out through the Force, grabbed onto the tendrils of its power and tried to communicate.
There wasn't a sound. Nothing for Luke to hold on to, or take comfort from. There wasn't even a presence on the other end. This was unlike Leia. She would have answered in the same second of Luke’s call. She would never ignore Luke. Unless something had happened to her…
No. She was alive. He knew it. Luke was nothing if not persistent. He didn't give up.
Can you hear me? Leia?
But as the hours ticked by, Luke still heard nothing. In one last attempt in desperation, Luke laid himself out in the open.
Leia, please? I need you. Please talk to me. Please…
And then, in the quietest recesses of his mind, Luke felt something through the Force.
It wasn't her voice, but it was a reply well enough. A place to go. A place he would know anywhere.
Luke didn't tell Rey where they were going when they got back into the ship and flew away from the destruction. She must have trusted him enough to take the lead. Or she was silenced by the determined look in his eyes. All Luke was truly aware of in that flight was the need to get to where Leia was.
The trip felt like hours, but it can't have been as long as Luke remembered it to be, but they finally flew into the system they needed to be.
Just as they entered the atmosphere, Luke recognised the unbearable heat. He spent most of his youth fighting the suffocating temperatures until he was finally acclimatised, not including the truly unbelievable days when the heat would be fatal for some. It was a regular hazard for them. That was how life was.
Then he recognised the blue skies. There were never any clouds in these parts. It hardly rained. Not on this planet. And then he recognised the barren lands, the coarse sand, the rough caverns — Luke knew them all. He knew them like the back of his hand. Of course he would. He spent his childhood in these parts and made memories in its footsteps.
He was home.
Force, it had been so long…
He hadn't been here in decades, but the barren land had not changed one bit.
Luke wished he could say the same.
He let the Force be his guide in landing the ship at the base, but Luke would've guessed where they were, anyway. It wasn't too far from the moisture farms, not too far from town. He could see the hustle of people and flurry of rescue personnel approaching his line of view. It wasn't just that. With every mile Luke and Rey flew closer, the more they saw of the devastation.
Ships were destroyed and people were injured.
It must have been a brutal attack.
There was no other way to explain it.
Eventually, their ship made a clean landing near the site. Their arrival didn't even raise an eyebrow, it was so busy and panic fuelled. Unless they were in critical condition, Luke and Rey couldn't be spared the time. That was fine. Luke could see how much help they all needed.
Rey was the first to get off the ship and open the doors. Luke followed her not too far behind as they made it to the firm ground. She was looking around the place, trying to spot any familiar faces amongst the crowd, even if that was possible. It was way too busy to find anyone—
But Luke was wrong. Rey burst into a smile at the sight of a small droid rolling its way towards her. It beeped away in a happy sequence of so much joy it was programmed into it, Luke could barely understand what the droid was trying to say at first. But then it looked over to Luke’s direction, and the sight of him had the droid rolling back in shock. Luke looked to Rey for an answer, she didn't know what was happening either, but then the droid was rolling away in lightening speed.
They didn't have to wonder for too long where it was going because the droid practically rolled into the legs of a pilot in an orange jumpsuit. It kept hitting his knees until it finally got the pilot’s attention. “Okay, buddy. What is it?”
The droid answered in turning his head over towards Rey and Luke and the moment the pilot saw them, his eyes widened. He stared at Luke in surprise and wonderment. Luke had never seen this man before, but it was obvious that the pilot knew who he was. “It’s him. It’s really him.”
And in that moment, the pilot ran off into the distance, the droid following him in the process. It wasn't much longer until they both came back into view, only they weren't alone.
There was another person with them.
It was Leia, only she was so different from the last memory Luke had of her. Of course she had aged thirteen years, but she was still as beautiful and striking since he had known her. Her air of authority and independence never dissipated. She will always be a natural born leader. That would never change.
But this wasn’t the same.
It became clearer with every step Leia made towards Luke. It was all over her face, the twist of conflicting emotions causing a storm in her expressive eyes. He had never seen her look so tired and worn out. It was such a shock to see her like that. Even when she had to work long days and could only get a couple hours of sleep at night, she never looked as tired as she did now. Never.
Not only did she look old, but she seemed so old.
Looks like the years had not been kind to Leia either.
Luke didn't know what to do beside watch Leia and her ever approaching steps. Even when she was standing in front of him Luke didn't know what to say. Neither did Leia for that matter. They stood in front of each other in silence, but in the same time it was like they didn't need to utter a word to understand what they wanted to say. No. Luke didn't need to say a word for Leia to know what he wanted to say. She knew. She knew it in the way Luke watched her, in the way his eyes watered the longer they stood there, and the heavy ache in chest.
Leia knew it all. But just in case, Luke sent her something through the Force, only for her ears to hear.
I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
And when Leia wrapped her arms around her brother, Luke felt like he had finally come home.
“You’re planning an attack?” Luke asked. “When?”
They had moved this conversation to the quiet confines of the base. They were talking to the pilot — Poe, as he told the Master after a mini fan freak out — and with many other people on the Council. It was strange how familiar this whole situation was. Of course it would be. They had been here before.
“We had this planned for a long time, even before the attack that happened earlier today,” said one of the Admirals. Luke didn't recognise who he was. He must have been new to the team, but Luke recognised some familiar faces. He said his hellos and hugged his long lost friends, but they couldn't be distracted for long. They had work to do. “We received a reliable tip from one of our sources within the First Order that Supreme Leader Snoke will be arriving on the base tonight. This will be the first time he has ever come out of hiding and we have no idea when the next available opportunity will arise.”
“But so soon? Your army is still recovering—”
“And that will not deter us. After all that has been lost today, the men and woman who died, it would be an honour to their memory to fight for the cause they believed in. We cannot stand idly by again. You must understand, Luke Skywalker. We've been here before. And we want to make sure this never happens again.”
Luke didn't argue with him. How could he? The only reason this happened again was because he didn't pay attention.
That was awhile ago now. The meeting ended not long after that, or maybe it was longer? Luke wasn't sure, he wasn't paying attention anymore. His mind was drifting off, he did that more and more he realised, but he couldn't bring himself to stop it. Maybe it was part of getting older, maybe it was his sentimentality getting the best of him.
All he knew was that there was going to be another attack. He wasn't expecting it to be so soon. He thought he would have more time to get used to the idea, but no. He had only a very limited window. So far, he was the only one who knew what that meant.
He would have to tell Leia what he has to do before he goes with them. Maybe she had guessed already. Luke was going to tell her, anyway. He couldn't keep this to himself much longer.
The Jedi Master turned his head to the voice and was met with the sight of his sister watching him. Looks like now was the chance to tell her. He didn't seem to have the chance to ruminate over things anymore, did he?
But he was away for so long. All he had was the chance to ruminate.
“How did this happen again?” Luke asked.
Leia shook her head. “I don’t know. I know the answer, but it feels like… I don't know what to think anymore.”
“I know how you feel,” Luke told her. “How are you feeling by the way? After Han?”
Leia didn't answer him straight away. It looked like she was trying to put her thoughts into words. “Lost. I haven't had the chance to think about it for long. Maybe that’s a blessing in itself. I can’t afford the chance to let my feelings take over.”
“But you need to grieve.”
“I don’t have time to grieve. And I don't want to sit around and wallow. If I do, my mind will only go to him…”
Luke didn't need to ask who this ‘him’ was. Just the mention of him had Luke thinking of Ben. It wasn't too hard. It was all he thought about these days and especially now. Now that he has made his decision.
He had to tell her. This was the opportunity to do it, but Luke found the words stuck on his tongue, with no way of getting out.
But Leia was there to break the ice. “Luke, was this my fault? Did I do this?”
Luke quickly shook his head. “No. It was mine. I was the one who failed him, I should've realised what was happening to him. It was my job to do so.”
Leia gave Luke an odd expression at that last sentence. He didn't know what it meant. He didn't know what was going through Leia’s mind. “Your job as a Jedi Master, or as… his mother?”
Luke had to think about that one, but who was he fooling? “Both. And I was never his mother. You are the only mother he ever knew.”
Leia nodded at that, but Luke had a feeling that his words failed to give her any comfort. She ran a hand over her haggard face and took a deep breath, as if preparing to reveal a terrible secret. And to her it was terrible, Luke realised. This was something she had been hiding to herself.
“Do you remember the time he was five, when he kept talking to himself?” Leia asked. Luke shook his head because no. He didn't remember that. He didn't even know that was even an issue. He never saw Ben do that when they were training, or anytime before that. This was all new to him.
But then Luke remembered something. Rey had seen him do it. When she was younger…
I can see how angry you get, and sometimes you tell the air to shut up. The air can’t shut up. It’s not a person.
Rey had see him talk to himself. How did Luke miss that?
“I caught him chatting away to an empty room when I went to check on him,” Leia continued. “He told us it was his imaginary friend. He even gave him a name and everything. I didn't think too much about it at the time. I had a meeting to get to, and I was already running late. I didn't have time to ask Ben about it again. Do you know why?”
Luke didn't say anything. The more she spoke, the more agitated she was becoming. This was something she needed to get off her chest. Something she desperately needed.
“I forgot,” Leia admitted, her eyes beginning to water. “I forgot that he told me that he had an imaginary friend. I only remembered that moment when I lost Ben because I spent every moment I could trying to figure out what I did wrong. And there were so many things I forgot about Ben’s childhood because I was always so busy. Why did I do that? That was never an imaginary friend, was it? He was talking to Snoke the entire time. Now I can’t stop thinking about that moment. If I had just remembered to say something to him, to have given him more attention, maybe I could've stopped all of this from happening, but I was so busy all the time, I—”
“Leia, stop,” Luke interrupted. He took his sister’s hands into his and squeezed them tight. It was the only thing he could think of to calm her down, and even he was getting worked up from hearing this story. “Leia, this was not your fault. You had no idea. No one did. There is nothing we can do to change the past now. Those thoughts will do nothing but drive you mad.”
Leia shook her head. “When we were being attacked,” she began. “When the destruction ensued around us, do you know what I did? I waited until the very last minute to evacuate. Do you know why I did that? Because I wanted to see him. I wanted to see if Ben was there because after all these years, after all the terrible things he has done, I still want to see my son. I want my son to come home.”
Luke didn't know what to say. He knew exactly what Leia was feeling. He knew it better than anybody would in this whole damn galaxy, and he knew that saying anything to comfort her would be in vain. There was never anything anyone could say to make any of this feel better.
“Luke, do you believe there is still hope? Do you believe there is a chance Ben could still be in there?”
Luke didn't know what to say at first because with the way Leia was looking at him, she was hoping for much more than she was willing to show. He knew his sister better than anyone. Of course he knew what she was asking of him. In those little words she uttered, Leia wanted to know if all that she wanted was possible. If she could have her son back.
And Luke really wished he wasn't the one who who had to give her the harsh dose of reality. “No. I don’t.”
The look of heartbreak on Leia’s features was absolutely heartbreaking to watch, but Luke had to make her realise the truth, no matter how hard it was. “Leia, the Ben we knew… he wouldn't do this. He would never hurt another soul, let alone kill a person. I know how you feel. I had those same hopes. I wanted to believe he was there too, I wanted it so badly, but I had to stop. He killed Han, Leia. He killed him. Ben wouldn't do that. And he probably would've killed you if he found you during the attack. He will never stop, Leia. He never will.”
Luke took a deep breath and prepared himself to tell her the terrible decision he had made. “So I have to stop him. I have to kill Kylo Ren.”
“No…” Leia began to cry.
“I have to, Leia. We can’t let this go on. It’s the only way.”
But Leia was resistant. “It can’t be.”
“I’m sorry, Leia, but it is. Han and Ben are gone. If we are going to stop the First Order than we have to accept that. We have to let them go. It’s the only way.”
Leia was silent as she cried. The fat tears rolled down her cheeks, her eyes were red rimmed and sore from the act itself, but Luke didn't push. After a minute of her cries, Leia finally looked up at Luke, but her expression was no longer sad. Her eyes were hard while she watched Luke, the look something he had never seen on his sister. “Is that what you want me to do, Luke? Let him go?”
Leia never gave him the chance to answer. Leia pulled her hands out of his grasp and walked away, leaving Luke alone in his own grief.
Of course it wasn't easy to let him go. Luke doesn't think he ever truly did. He gave Ben to Leia and Han, he tried to move on with his life, but it wasn't easy. There were always moments when his mind would wander back to those days with Ben, but those weren't the only things that occupied his mind.
Mos Eisley Cantina hasn't changed much since the last time he had been here. It was empty. Ever since the First Order took over, even the worst villainy and scum of the planet refused to venture out there. He didn't blame them. Stormtroopers were sent everywhere to Tatooine to try and find Luke. It was his childhood home. They thought he had come back.
They were right about coming home, but they were wrong about the timing.
Luke couldn't tell why he decided to come back here of all places. The Cantina was nothing but a decaying heap by now, nothing like the building it once was, full of criminals and catchy music. He had only been here twice in his lifetime, and both times had changed him in ways he would never expect.
He can’t believe it has been so many years. Almost three decades. So much has changed. Luke had changed.
He walked down the steps. Luke had to watch where he was going to make sure he wouldn't cut himself on the glass debris. He could barely see the floor, it was such a mess in here. Probably a raid. Who knows what happened in here?
Luke had finally made it over to the bar, or what was left of it. Like he said, if this place was raided, they destroyed the bar. If he didn't know where he was, Luke never would’ve guessed it was the same building. But he knew it. He doesn't think he could ever truly forget it.
Luke looked around the room and his mind filled in the gaps of the wreckage with his own memory of the place. The bar, the band playing in the background, the rumblings of alien conversation and the usual bar fights. It was all there in his mind. He remembered it like it was yesterday.
And with a turn of his head, Luke’s gaze landed on the corner booth.
And the next thing he knew, he was hearing Han’s voice echo into consciousness.
“Luke? Luke, is that you?”
Luke didn't even mean for the memory to turn up. He couldn't help it. He didn't really remember much of that night, but that doesn't mean some facts didn't bleed through.
There were still some things he remembered before he took the herb. He remembered sitting by the bar, nursing his second glass of liquor during the night when an old friend showed up out of nowhere with his cheeky grin and confident attitude.
“I had no idea you were going to be here. You should have told me, I would've given you a ride.”
Luke saw that night unfurl in front of him before his eyes and before he could stop it, Luke was reliving that night he hadn't thought about in over twenty-nine years…
“Sorry, it was a bit of an… impromptu job.”
Han didn't sound too upset by that. He wrapped his arm around the younger man and gave it a squeeze. “Yeah, whatever you say, kid. Where have you been? Leia’s been trying to com you for ages, but you never pick up.”
Luke instantly curled up into himself. He hated the reminder of his absence. He didn't mean fot it to happen, it just… “I’m sorry, I’ve been extremely busy.”
“You don’t look busy now.”
That made Luke giggle. Trust Han to state the obvious. “This is my first night off in months.”
Luke could practically hear the grin in Han’s voice when he answered. “Then let’s make sure it’s a memorable one.”
Luke couldn't help but appreciate the irony of that statement, but that was Han for you. Cocky and confident. Juts like he always was.
“Where’s Chewie? Is he here?”
“Nah, I’m on my own tonight.”
That made Luke frown. “That’s unusual. Did you guys have a lover’s spat or something?”
“Hey, I can be on my own sometimes. We aren't joined at the hip.”
“Does Chewie know that?”
Han ruffled Luke’s hair. “Ha ha, kid. Very funny. Well, I know why I am here. I thought you never wanted to come back to this furnace of a planet.”
Luke smoothed his hair back. “Things change.”
“Says the ex-smuggler dating my sister.”
Immediately, Han rubbed the back of his neck and avoided Luke’s gaze. “Right, ex-smuggler. You’re right. Things do change.”
Luke should've realised then that Han was lying. Bastard.
“But for a night off, you don’t seem to be having much fun.”
Now that was an understatement. The only things Luke could think of to do for fun was go back to a bar that led him onto the path that made him so stressed out. Classic workaholic behaviour, huh? “Honestly, I don’t know what to do with myself.”
“Maybe I do. I might have something that might help the both of us have a bit more fun.”
That roused Luke’s interest. “Like what?”
“We all can’t have nights off, kid. I met up with an old friend of mine, and he gave me a payment for a job I had worked awhile back…”
Things became a little hazy after that. Han brought out the herb and Luke didn't question it too much about trying it. Do you know why? Because he wanted to forget. He wanted a night to forget about all the responsibility, the heavy weight on his shoulders and just have a night where he could have some fun.
But then he remembered the next few moments, even if it was a jumbled mess of a drug-induced haze.
He can hear the echo of their laughter drifting into focus.
And the next thing he knew he was back in the middle of a memory…
Luke recognised this one. He was already high by this point and was in a giggling mess. Han had his arms around his shoulders and pulled him in close to his side. Maybe that was because he was too busy laughing to realise what he was doing, or maybe it was because Han wanted the young Jedi Master close, but Luke didn't want to think about that now.
All Luke could see was his younger self having fun and laughing so hard into Han’s shoulder that it was making his ribs hurt.
“I don’t know why I’m laughing.”
Han was just as giddy. It took a moment for him to get the words out, but that only made him laugh even more. “Are we laughing? I don't know what I’m doing anymore.”
“Hahaha, my face hurts from smiling,” Luke choked out, but he took a few breathes to get himself to calm down. He ran a hand over his face and sighed. “How strong is this stuff?”
Han shrugged. “I didn't ask. That’s what you get with the illegal stuff.”
What did he just say? “Wh-the illegal stuff? What did we take?”
“Uh… he did say the name, um… Savor- Savorium something—”
“Savorium herb?” Luke knew that name had some significance, but he couldn't — Wait? “No! That’s illegal! Very illegal! We can be in trouble for just taking this stuff!”
“Really? Oh, that’s not good.”
“Oh no—” Luke was able to get himself out of his haze for a moment, but his mind was still too fuzzy to function properly.
“Hey, it’s gonna be fine. I got the Falcon park not too far away. We can hide out in there. Take this somewhere private?”
Private? Yes. In there, no one would get them in trouble for taking the herb. That would be a very good idea. “Yeah, let’s take this somewhere private—”
“Let me do it.”
Luke was snapped back into reality by a sudden voice speaking from behind him. He turned around to find Rey by the doorway, watching him. How long has she been there? “What?”
“Let me fight him,“ Rey offered again. She walked down the steps until she was finally standing in front of him. “I can take him down, I did last time.”
Luke didn't know what she was talking about until she mentioned ‘him’. It seemed to be a habit of not mentioning Kylo Ren by his name anymore. He can’t think of whether it was her idea or his, but it just became an unspoken rule between them to never utter his name. Probably an attempt to make things easier, but did it work? It didn't for Luke, anyway. “You spoke to Leia, I see.”
Rey shook her head in utter confusion. “I don’t understand. You said you couldn't hurt Kylo Ren because he was still family, but now you want to wield the sabre that kills him? What’s going on?”
Wow. That was the first time Rey had said his name since leaving Ahch-To. She must mean business. “I realised something, Rey, and I had to accept that I could no longer run from my problems. This has to be done. ”
“You’re upset, I understand, but let me do this. Let me help you out. If you can’t kill him like you thought you would then let me take over and I can—“
“No. I have to do this. This is my responsibility.”
“But why you?” Rey asked desperately.
Luke had to pause before he could answer that, trying to think of a way to explain this without revealing too much of their secret. “Because I am more responsible for his existence than you realise.”
But that only made Rey look more confused than ever. “What do you mean by that?”
Luke didn't answer her. He didn't know how to. Even he can’t put into words what happened not long after they stumbled into the Falcon. He didn't have much memory to go on, and there was no way in hell he could talk about it now. No way.
In the end, he ended up walking out of the Cantina as fast as he can, leaving Rey and his memories behind.
They had a time for attack scheduled for tonight.
Just a couple more hours.
Luke didn't know how to handle that information.
It was getting closer to the time when the ships are about to leave for their mission, and Luke would be joining them soon. The bay was busy with the uninjured pilots ready to go out and find justice in their own hands. Luke could feel their anger at what happened earlier today radiating from them in spades. It was almost giving him a headache it was so strong, but he pushed past it.
But he wouldn't be flying today.
Today, Luke was a passenger in a ship he had not seen in many years.
The Falcon was stationed not to far away and with very step Luke made towards the junk of a ship, he felt the strangest sensation settle in his chest. It had been so long since he had seen this ship. There was so many memories, he was getting teary eyed just by looking at it. He dread to think what he would be like once he was actually on it.
And Luke knows it was a bit of a stretch, but it almost looked like the Falcon had also gotten older with the rest of them.
And just as Luke made his way over, he saw another friendly face. A eight foot tall, hairy Wookie with a bandolier across his chest and shoulder.
And when the Wookie looked up to see who was approaching, he waved over to Luke and growled in a way that the Jedi Master knew was his way of saying hello.
Luke smiled at the giant fur ball. “Hi, Chewie.”
The Wookie stepped back from whatever he was doing to the circuit boards and bent down to wrap his arms around the smaller man. He rumbled a reply and Luke laughed at what he said, just as if the time apart between them had never happened. They talked as friends like there was never any separation in the first place.
But it didn't last long. The alarm had started its call.
It was time to go.
Chewie and Luke got into the ship without another word between them. They still had to wait for Rey to arrive, but Luke could sense that she was on her way. They were ready go in a few minutes. It was enough time for Luke to take in the changes of the rusted old piece of junk.
And, not surprisingly, she hardly changed. Han was always particular about the way he kept the Falcon. He never liked too many changes and he definitely wouldn't take too kindly to anyone messing up his beloved ship. He would shoot them with his blaster and tell them it was their fault. Typical hot headed smuggler.
So walking through to the control stations is just like stepping back in time for Luke. Everything he remembered was in it’s place, where Han left it, and where he wanted it to be. You would never think he was very particular, but he was OCD on this ship. It’s like his second child. And Luke couldn't help but smile.
Chewie followed in being and took the co-pilot seat, but in that quick second, Luke saw him realise that he isn't suppose to sit there anymore. He has to fly the ship. He can’t fly on his own in the co-pilot seat. Han won’t be there to take the reins. Not anymore.
And Luke understood fully Chewbacca’s pain. He felt Han’s loss the most. The Wookie knew him the longest. They’ve been through more things than most. It was a friendship that’s been through the hardest of trials.
But that wasn't the only thing. There was another person Chewbacca was missing and that was the bitterest pill for him to swallow.
Luke watched as the Wookie pressed the button from the memory bank and suddenly there was a flash of blue light in front of them. It was a small picture formation. A moving image projected near them. A recording.
Luke recognised the captured video instantly. There was Chewbacca in the image. But he wasn't alone.
Ben looked to be around six years old in that hologram. Luke could remember because he had just lost his two front baby teeth not long before his birthday and this hologram Ben was sporting two large gaps in his large and happy grin. He was sitting on top of Chewbacca’s knee on the pilot seat, with a large paw wrapped securely around his waist so that he wouldn't fall, but Ben didn't look like he cared. He was pressing all the buttons on the control panel, not delicately either, but hands wide and slamming them down on the panel just to see what would happen.
Nothing happened though. The ship must have been stationary the whole time, or they would've had a malfunction by now.
Luke was a little surprised Han even had this hologram on his system. He though he would've gotten rid of something like this long ago.
“Ben, what are you doing to my ship?”
Han’s voice filtered through into the hologram. The sound of it had Chewbacca perking up and watching intently for the last image of Han to appear.
And he wasn't disappointed. Han stepped into the hologram, nothing more than a fuzzy blue image of his younger self, but Luke couldn't get over the difference a small amount of time makes. This Han was younger, yes, but much more carefree and laid-back. Not like the Han Luke last remembered him to be. Or when he died.
But this Han took the opposite seat and ruffled a hand through Ben’s hair that led the boy in a fit of giggles. “Hey, come on. What were you doing?”
“I was trying to make it fly.” Ben was so excited by the idea of getting the Falcon to fly that he was almost jumping away in Chewie’s lap. “Can we? Can we make it fly, dad? I want to fly it like you do and into space!”
Ben gave a little fist pump in the air and that had Han laughing and Chewbacca growling out a fit of giggles. “Can’t make it fly yet, buddy. You’re not old enough.”
A dejected Ben sat back into Chewie’s lap. “Aww…”
“I know, I know, but your mom will kill me if I let you fly the Falcon now, and we can’t be late for dinner. Do you remember the golden rule when we get back?”
“Don’t tell mom you were smuggling.”
“And definitely don’t tell her I was with you when you were smuggling.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Han took Ben smuggling? When did that happen? Never mind about Leia, Luke would've killed him if he knew.
“That’s my boy.” Han raised out his hand and Ben gave him a big high-five with his small palm. “Ready to head home?”
“Then let’s head home!” And Han got up from his seat and picked Ben up into his arms. He flew the boy around in circles, so fast that even Luke was getting dizzy at the sight of it, but Ben was laughing up every minute that he was in the air. Chewbacca was laughing away with them in the hologram and having the time of his life with the family he had with Solo.
But soon the image was gone. The hologram cut off and that was the last of it. Luke was surprised by the pang of loss he felt at the end of the video. He didn't even realise he was beginning to cry until he felt a tear roll down his cheek. He wiped it away quickly and turned his attention to the Wookie by his side, and the sight was equally as heart wrenching.
Chewbacca was just sitting there in silence and staring at the empty space where the hologram once played. That was not normal. There was always a growl or a roar from the Wookie, but he was the picture of a creature in grief. All Luke could hear was a soft rumble coming from deep in his throat. That was a sound he had never heard before and Luke wondered whether this was the first time he had ever seen or heard his old friend cry.
And maybe it wasn't just for his lost friend. Chewbacca had many holograms he could've played. He and Han had been friends for years, been on countless adventures, but he went for the hologram with the Ben that they loved. Why would he do that if he hated him? Ben became Kylo Ren and Kylo Ren killed Han. You wouldn't cry over a hologram that had your friend’s killer on it.
Luke heard about the injury he gave Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. He might have wounded him, but that doesn't mean the Wookie no longer cares for the Ben they once knew. He knew him since birth, watched him grow up and suffered his loss along with the rest of the family. He was struggling with this just as much as Luke was.
Luke reached out his hand and placed a hand on Chewbacca’s furry shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze. “They’re gone, Chewie. They’re gone forever.”
The Wookie didn't reply to that. He only lifted his head to Luke in acknowledgement, but he must have seen the same sadness swimming in Luke’s eyes because he placed his paw over Luke’s hand and they were silent for as long as they wanted to be.
The sound of Rey’s footsteps had them back to reality and Chewbacca made his seat in the pilot’s chair, while Rey plonked herself in the co-pilots. She didn't say anything to them. She must have sensed they weren't in the mood to talk and let the Wookie and Master collect their thoughts to themselves.
There were many things Luke didn't want to think about, but he certainly didn't think he could handle small talk right now either. Not with where they were going.
In the end, he buckled himself in his seat and felt the Falcon prepare to make it’s ascent into space and straight into battle.
The flight was mostly made in silence. They followed their co-ordinates and responded to messages via the com, but that was all anyone had ever said. Chewbacca didn't say anything, Luke didn't say anything and Rey… that was another story.
There was an odd look on Rey’s face that began to unsettle Luke, and the longer it was there, the more Luke was certain what was happening. Kylo Ren might have blocked his side of the bond, but that never lasted for long. Rey could still pick up on certain things. She didn’t have to admit it to Luke. He knew more about the intricacies and the complications of a Force bond, and how you needed both users to break it, but Rey seems reluctant to do so.
Luke doesn't understand why she won’t do it. She won't even consider severing the connection. What was all that about?
When the Falcon finally made its descent to their destination and the passengers were ready to make their way, Rey grabbed onto Luke’s arm and the Jedi Master was surprised to see the urgent expression ridden across her face and deep in her eyes.
Her grip never lessened on Luke’s forearm. Luke was about to ask what was wrong when she confessed in a rush: “He’s waiting for you.”
Luke didn't know how to react to that other than to stare at Rey.
But Rey wasn't finished. “He knows we’re here. I can feel it. He tries to hide it, but he can’t. Not from me, anyway.”
Luke didn't like the implication of what those feelings could be, but he couldn't help himself. He couldn't shake off curiosity that tugged the back of his mind. “What is he feeling?”
Rey takes a moment to try and put his feelings into words and even when she did, she didn't seem one hundred percent sure it was the right way to express them. “Mostly a conflict at the prospect of your arrival. Shame, but mostly anger. And he knows what you are going to do.”
Luke didn't want to think what Rey could see in his face at that reveal. He didn't want to think about it.
“If you still want to do this,” Rey continued. “He will come to you. And no matter what happens… he doesn't blame you. He never has.”
Before Luke could ask what Rey meant by that, she was hurrying off the ship in less than a heart beat.
Luke stood in that spot for the next few seconds. There were many things going on in his head, but they were mostly a jumbled mess of his own conflicted emotions and turmoil. This was not the time to face his own doubt. Not again.
He had a mission to complete.
Luke was about to got off the Falcon when he felt something snag on his robe. It pulled him back around his neck and almost choked him a little bit. When Luke tugged at the collar and turned to see where it came from, he was bewildered to find that the crooked notch on the platform. That had Luke caught in surprise. That damn thing was still there? Han said he was going to fix it.
Well, Han said many things…
Even though it was just a small notch on a platform, Luke couldn’t stop staring at it. If Chewbacca and Rey came back and saw him now, they would think he was strange for doing so, but they didn't know. Nobody but Han and Luke would know the meaning of this. But Han’s not here anymore, so it’s only Luke who knew.
This wasn't the first time he had gotten himself snagged on by that notch. The first time was many years ago…
It was funny how when Luke was ever forced to go back to that night, there was always some new detail that would keep popping up. The smell of Han’s cologne, the hard feel of the cold floor, the smokey aftertaste of the herb in their kisses… it would be the smallest thing, but it never failed to send Luke to a night he would much rather forget.
But it didn't take much, and soon Luke was taken back to the last time that had happened, and what had followed it not long after…
“Ow! Jeez, that thing nearly killed me!”
“Don’t be such a drama queen! The worst it can do is stop you in your tracks.”
“And here I was thinking you fixed this piece of junk.”
“Watch your mouth kid, or you’ll find yourself floating home!”
As much as they were slinging insults at each other, there was never any bite to them. In fact, Luke wasn't sure if that was his goal. He was too busy laughing to know what it was he was thinking about. He wasn't really thinking at that point. He was too stoned. Way too stoned.
Whatever that stuff Han gave him to try was absolutely amazing! Seriously, he has never felt so light and heady in all his life. The more he breathed in the herb’s smokey effects, the more he dove into that pit of euphoria.
Han was right. He just needed to let loose…
It’s been so long since he was able to let loose. He missed it. It’s so much fun!
Wow, it’s been a long time since he had fun.
And this is probably the second most reckless thing Luke has ever done, the first being the time he went off with Obi-Wan to Alderaan. And why shouldn't he be reckless? He was still young, damn it! And hanging out with Han again has made him realise how much he had missed. After so many months of nothing but hard work and useless results had really taken its toll. So Luke didn't question it once when Han offered him some of the herb. Han promised that it would make him relax and that was enough for Luke.
In the foggy haze of his mind, Luke felt his foot catch on something in the corner and the next thing he knew, Luke was falling straight to the ground with a loud thud.
Han must have had some of his mental capacity working because he was rushing over to Luke’s side in a craze of frantic worry. He lifted his face up to check for any injuries and Luke could see and feel Han fussing over him, like a concerned mama bear. “Luke! Luke, are you okay? Did you—”
Luke wasn't hurt, though. Even if he was, he was too busy laughing to feel anything. “I’m okay! I’m okay. You… you don't have to worry. I’m fine.”
Despite all of Luke’s reassurance for his friend, Han never once moved his hands away from his face. When Luke looked up at Han, the smuggler was watching him with a very dreamy expression that left the Jedi Master a little confused. So confused, in fact, that even his giggling fit began to die down the longer the silence drew out between them.
Luke had no idea what was happening right now. He was just about to ask Han what was wrong before the smuggler eventually beat him to the punch. “You sure about that?”
Um, yeah. He was sure about that. Luke’s might be a bit dazed at the moment, but he didn't understand Han’s weird behaviour. Or maybe it was weird because he was high right now — Luke couldn't be sure.
But in the next second (or minute. Time wasn't flowing right when you've taken drugs) Han ran his thumbs over the skin of Luke’s cheeks, and he pulled his face closer until all Luke was aware of was the gentle press of Han’s own lips pressed to his.
That was the only detail Luke lied to Leia about. It wasn't her brother that made the first move. He didn't know why he lied to her about that. She didn't know it was Han, but Luke felt guilty for letting her think it was the ‘other man’ that misled Luke. By letting her think otherwise, maybe Luke was claiming some responsibility for what he did. He might not have been in his right mind, but he wasn't as whacked out as he wanted himself to be…
Why he ended up kissing Han back was something Luke couldn't figure out. No. That’s another lie. He did know. He liked Han. He was his best friend, he would do anything for him, and the supple yet insistent press of the smuggler’s lips against his wasn't something he was averse to. If Luke was being honest, kissing Han felt good. Really good. And that was the whole point of the night. Luke wanted to feel good.
Taking the herb only seemed to push that thought into overdrive because all Luke wanted was to feel good after all the stress he has been through. The Jedi Code, his family legacy… it was too much. It was more than he could handle and Luke was so close to breaking at this point, but right now… he just wanted to forget.
And… Han was helping him to forget.
Luke didn't even have to think about opening his lips for Han. He was already submitting to the smuggler in ways Luke never thought to he would ever do. Han was just as domineering in his lust as he was in most things, but this…
The moment he felt Luke respond to him, Han was grabbing the sides of his face to keep him close and practically devoured Luke’s entire being in that one kiss. It felt like Han was pouring everything he had into it, like maybe this was his only chance and he was making the most of it before it was too late. It wasn't long before Luke had his own hands fisted into the smuggler’s thick tresses and the kiss turned into nothing more than a mess of smacking lips and beating tongues.
Luke didn't object when Han pushed him down to the hard floor. Han was still kissing him like before, but the hard weight of Han’s body on top of Luke’s was a welcomed sensation. He didn't care what they did. As long as Han never stopped kissing him the way he is doing so now, Luke would be forever happy.
Luke obediently lifted up his arms for Han to pull his robe and tunic off. He didn't even realise he was completely naked until Han’s hands rubbed over his chest and over his nipples. The shock of the touch had him groaning into Han’s mouth, and it only seemed to spur the smuggler to be more bold.
Han trailed his kisses down Luke’s neck, even sucking a large red mark on his neck while he shucked out of his own clothes and gear. That took a bit longer than it should have. Han’s stuff were a bit more fiddly than Luke’s simple tunic and they were too stoned to truly focus on the task, but the wait was worth it when Han was finally free from his clothing. He was all lean and hard muscle and all Luke wanted to do was reach out and touch.
In all of his wildest and weirdest ideas, this was never a situation Luke would ever consider himself getting in to. On his back, naked with a good friend, and getting closer than either of them had ever been with each other was not something Luke had ever thought of. Heck, he ever thought getting high was even an option for him, but life is crazy like that. You end up doing the most strangest things.
Luke couldn't even remember why this was never an option. Being this intimate with Han was amazing. The smuggler was playing him like a well tuned instrument only he knew how to play and Luke was putty in his hands. He was open to Han’s persistent attention, even when he was finally free from his clothing and pushing Luke’s legs open for him to settle between. And when Han finally rolled his hips and thrusted inside of the Jedi Master, couldn't hold back the moans anymore.
Luke wasn't sure how long they fucked in the middle of the Falcon on the floor like that. Luke wasn't really aware of time at that point. All he was aware of is what he could feel. The bliss, the slightly uncomfortable cramp in his back from being on the floor too long, the smuggler’s weight on top of him, the overwhelming heat of being encased by his best friend’s sweaty body — they were the only things Luke was truly aware of, and for the first time in months, he was finally able to let himself have some fun.
“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” Han whispered against his neck. Luke could feel his hot breath brushing over to his ear and he shivered at the feel of it. He had never heard Han sound so rough before, but it was becoming something Luke began to like. “You’ve always been a pain in the ass. But I always thought you were cute.”
Luke only laughed at that. The words didn't fully register with Luke at the time. He was disappointed that Han was wasting his time with words when he could be kissing him again. So that’s what he did. He grabbed Han’s face in his hands and pulled him in for another kiss that felt just as amazing as the first one.
Luke didn't want Han to talk. All he wanted to do was keep chasing that rabbit hole that promised him new sensations.
And by the way Han was grabbing at his limbs with a vice grip, Luke had a feeling that they were nowhere near done yet.
So, yeah. Luke remembered that night.
He also remembered the pounding headache when he woke up the next morning. It felt like his temples were about to split open it hurt so much. Then he remembered the confusion of waking up in someone else's quarters and not knowing how he had gotten there at all. And then he remembered the visceral horror at finding a sleeping and naked Han next to him with his arm wrapped around his waist, and all of the memories from the night before rushed back to him like a looming avalanche.
Luke remembered everything, and there was no drug powerful enough to make him forget about the guilt of his betrayal to Leia. What he did to her…
Luke had to shake his head to himself because everything that had happened after that was the result of one stupid choice. He remembered sneaking out of the Falcon and hoping to not wake the smuggler up in the process. It was trickier than he expected. His body was still recovering from the harsh fucking they did, and that only added to the growing guilt in Luke’s stomach. He felt like he might actually go sick. He needed to get out of that Falcon and Luke ended up running faster than ever.
It was only when Luke reached his own ship that the realisation had hit him. And he promptly threw up in the spare basin. It was lucky he was near it. no that Luke had considered himself lucky at that moment. He couldn't believe what he had done, how this had happened…
What the hell has he done?
As much as Luke was wallowing in his own self pity, he did admit that it was a pivotal moment for him. He ended up flying back to the Temple’s and working harder than he did for the last few months he had been there. It made him realise that he did have a purpose after all, that he had important work that couldn't be left behind or abandoned just because he had gotten a little confused. People were counting on him, and Luke couldn't abandon a promise he had made a long time ago.
So he worked. He did everything he could to fulfil that promise. And everything he could to make him forget about that night that haunted over him.
He even assumed his sickness, a huge sign for expectant parents of their condition, was just a symptom of his overworked body. That was until he felt Ben begin to kick away, and Luke was forced to face his demons once again.
One stupid night, one terrible decision had led to this moment. How did that happen?
The Jedi Master was broken out of his reverie to find that Rey and Chewbacca were watching him with a perplexed expression. Luke shook himself out of his daze and made his way to his friends. “The Resistance ships will be here in a few minutes. Once they arrive, I need you to distract the while I slip away. I need to face Kylo Ren on my own.”
“Luke,” Rey was about to say something else, but she didn't seem to know what to say. “Are you all right?”
“No, I’m not. But I have a job to do.”
Rey dropped her gaze. She probably realised how stupid a question it is to ask, but Luke didn't mean to snap. He just couldn't help it.
Chewbacca didn't say anything either. All they did was wait until they saw the familiar ships approach them and land near by.
And Rey kept her promise and distracted the leader until Luke was able to sneak away. They had their mission, Luke had his.
He gripped his lightsaber in his had and made his way inside the First Order base.
The halls of the base were bare of any signs of life or persons. Luke had been looking for the last thirty minutes, on every floor and he couldn't find anything. There was nothing but the cold and sterile tiles and atmosphere that was beginning to unsettle Luke. He did not see any sign of Stormtroopers on the way in, nor did he hear of any attacks happening on the furthest layout of the base. If there was an attack, there would news of it spreading around. Luke would know.
But there wasn't one. Luke should be grateful. It means their army was safe, but Luke wasn't naive. He knew something was going on.
It was too quiet. That was the problem.
There should still be some troops walking around on inspection, only Luke had not spotted one for the last fifteen minutes.
That can’t be right. If they weren't here then—
The Luke realised what it meant and cursed himself for being so stupid.
Their ships weren't flagged once they entered the atmosphere, the anonymous tip that was too reliable, the lack of Stormtroopers and an army that was nowhere to be seen?
They knew they were coming.
This is a trap.
Luke had to warn the others to abort now before they were discovered. He grabbed hold of his connection Rey, to send a message quickly for them to leave this place at once. But there was a problem.
He can’t hear Rey.
That can’t be right. Rey should've answered him back right away but there was nothing. Not even her thoughts.
That could only mean two things. Either she was unconscious, or she was dead.
He lost his connection with Rey. He can’t hear her anymore.
Luke was just about to rush back to the ship to signal an emergency alert to the Resistance base when he felt it. There was something calling him through the Force.
It wasn't from another person. This was the power of the Force intervening to guide the way.
He should've known this was a bad idea, but Luke couldn't help himself. He followed its trail like an obedient lamb, not knowing whether this was going to lead him to salvation or to slaughter, but that didn't stop Luke. He had a feeling, and he was going with it.
Eventually, all the Force did was take Luke was a room that was so dark he could barely see much. It seemed to be another sterile room that fit the same sterile feel like the rest of the base, and nothing seemed unusual about it. If only that was true. Luke wouldn't feel so apprehensive if it was true.
But that didn't stop him. He walked further and further in, until he was deep inside.
And then he heard it. The buzz of a lightsaber coming to life behind him.
Luke closed his eyes for a moment. Not because he was probably about to face his possible death, but because he was about to face his one great fear.
Luke turned around slowly and when his eyes landed on the figure standing away from him, he was surprised by what he saw.
Kylo Ren was standing tall, with his glowing red lightsaber in hand and watching Luke carefully. This was the first time in thirteen years Luke had seen him and he was more different than Luke had ever entertained. Yes, there was the jagged scar that Rey had slashed across his face, but there was no longer any signs of the awkward teenager in him. This was a man who had seen more hardship than anyone ever should. Luke could see it in his eyes. The Ben he knew was many things, but he was always an open book. You could read everything in his expression as easy as you could with any text. Maybe that’s why he had the mask for so long…
But he didn't have it now. And there was no hard stare. He was watching Luke, with something that was… Luke didn't know what it was. He was expecting Kylo Ren to be a creature of fury and rage. This Kylo Ren in front of him looked… broken. And the longer he stared at Luke, the more Luke could see that pain bleed through.
“Hello, uncle,” Kylo Ren broke the silence and gulped. He lifted up his lightsaber and the glow of it was bright enough for him to see where he finally was. Or who was here.
Many of the Stormtroopers were holding many of the Resistance members prisoner in the sidelines. They had their hands tied behind their backs and had guns pointed to their heads if they made a wrong move. From the corner of his eye, Luke could see Chewie and Poe in the crowd, but he couldn't see Rey. There was no sign of her anywhere.
But the rest of Luke’s thoughts were taken away by the one person he detested the most. Snoke was sitting a few feet above the rest. He was watching the interaction with intense interest and satisfaction, and Luke began to realise what this was.
Snoke was here to witness the death of the last Jedi.
This was his execution. By the hand of his own child.
And with that realisation, Luke turned his attention back to the man that was once Ben Solo.
Kylo Ren was still watching him with that same expression, but Luke had to harden his heart. Now was not the time to be weak. This was what his mission was all about.
Luke brought out his lightsaber and let it buzz to life, with one final thought in his head.
I’m sorry, Ben.
Dun, dun, dun!
Sorry for the cliff hanger, but I'll try to get the next chapter done as soon as I can.
This chapter is nearly twenty thousand words. Jeez, I need some help.
So this is it. The last one. I hope you like it and I'm sorry for the crazy wait you had to go through to get it.
If you enjoyed my story, please leave a review. I like to know what people think.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When the day comes and it is time for Luke to breathe his last, there will only be one thing he would want everyone to remember.
Never doubt that he loved his son.
Since the moment he was born, the moment he gave him up, and even the moment Ben started to drift away to the Dark side, Luke has always loved him. He couldn't help it. Even when he should hate him with every ounce of his being, Luke couldn’t do it. It would've been easy to do so. Kylo Ren was a monster. But Ben wasn’t. That was the hard part. Luke couldn't wrap his head around the fact that such a horrible creature could be born from the sweet and gentle boy he had known all those years ago.
But that didn't stop Luke now. He couldn't let his own feelings get in the way.
No matter how much of a shock it was to see the figure of Kylo Ren for the first time, Luke couldn't let it destroy him. No matter how much he didn't want to do this, Luke knew he didn't have a choice. The Jedi wielded his lightsaber in his hand and launch straight into an attack.
Kylo Ren was anticipating Luke’s charge. He blocked the attack, brandished against Luke’s blows and fought just as hard as Luke did, but he never made the first move. Luke never realised that at the time, but he didn't let himself think too much when they were fighting. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to keep going.
But the moment they began to fight was the moment the crowds watched with interest. Luke could practically feel Snoke looming over him, with that smug grin and evil intention that made his skin crawl, but he fought past it. He didn't think about the attack strategy or the well aimed hits. He just fought against them. Luke might be an old man, but he still knew a thing or two.
And for awhile Luke was winning. If he had stuck to his guns, Luke could've stopped him. But he was weaker than he realised.
Luke had Kylo Ren in a tight spot. Luke was able to overpower him enough, and a well aimed hit in his side had the Sith collapsing near to the ground. The lightsaber had sliced through his black robes, up his sleeve and to his shoulder. There was a red gash up from his forearm to his hand. It had Kylo Ren screaming in agony, but Luke ignored it as much as he could.
Kylo Ren was writhing onto his side from the pain. He dropped his lightsaber to his side and reached out to pull on the leather glove he was wearing. He threw it to the side and checked his palm for any damage, and that was when Luke froze in his stance.
Ren had a wrapping around his wrist that extended to his hand — a wrapping he would recognise anywhere.
He was wearing the thumb guard.
And before Luke could stop it, the memory began to seep into his consciousness.
It was not long after Ben had suffered his depressive mood, when Luke found him alone in his hut. It had been a busy day, already. He had just met Rey and introduced her to the school and showed her to her sleeping quarters, but the tiring responsibilities of the day seemed trivial when Ben hadn't shown up to their private lessons. Ben had never missed one before, and Luke was already on edge about what was going on through his head.
By the time Luke made his way to the hut, he could see Ben working on his little project outside. He didn't even look put from fixing on one of the bolts when Luke quietly took a seat by his side. Ben knew he was there. He didn't need to guess that at all.
He just kept on working, with his head down and focused. Luke didn't want to push him into speaking just yet, so he waited. He waited until Ben was ready to talk.
After a few minutes, Ben finally put his tools down. He didn't look up at Luke yet, but this was an invitation well enough. Luke could see in his demeanour that Ben was expecting some sort of scolding or telling off, and he kept his shoulders hunched in a way that Luke guessed was his way of protecting himself from it. Prepared for the trouble he presumes he had gotten himself in to.
Only that wasn't the case at all.
“I got you something,” Luke announced. That finally got Ben to look up.
“It’s only a little gift. I thought it would help you get over your habit. And I’ve seen how cut off your thumb looks from the blood flow. Maybe this will be a better solution.”
It wasn't anything that looked special. It was only wrapped up in brown paper with a piece of string to keep the paper fixed, but Ben grabbed it with interest. He ripped open the package until all he had left was what was hidden inside. Ben studied the item, frowning over to Luke.
“It’s an arm guard,” Luke explained. “It even covers your thumb. No more excuses for your habit anymore.”
Ben smiled at that. He didn't waste anytime getting the guard on his arm. Once it was on, the guard was wrapped snuggly around Ben’s elbow, up to his wrist, with the tip of his thumb peeping out of the open slot. It seemed to fit him very nicely, even if it was a bit tight. To Luke’s satisfaction, Ben was smiling. He curled his fingers free from the guard and showed it off to Luke.
“Look. We match,” Ben grinned.
Ben was talking about Luke’s gloved hand that hid his robotic limb. He just found it easier to keep it hidden away than tell the people who had the audacity to inquire about it, and Luke grew tired of repeating the same story over and over again, so he preferred to hide it away now. It save a lot of time an a lot of annoyance in the process.
But Ben would ask about it sometimes, and Luke found that he didn't mind telling Ben that story, even if it was countless times and countless reiterations, but Ben would light up every single time. Hearing the stories of his uncle, his family, it gave him an brightness in his eyes that had been missing for such a long time.
Luke was staring at the guard for so long, and it was dangerous to let this take him in completely. Kylo Ren was checking the damage of his hand — there was a long red cut where Luke had slashed him with his lightsaber. Luke wasn't sure what he was expecting to see. Hate? Rage? Anything else? He wasn't sure, but when Kylo Ren looked up at him, Luke saw the small flicker of the young boy he had lost all those years ago.
For a small moment, Ben was there.
Luke couldn't turn his gaze away, but he knew that he couldn't make another move if he wanted. All of his conviction, his determination… it was gone in that very moment.
I can’t do this.
With a sigh, Luke dropped his lightsaber, letting it clatter to the ground.
The tension in the air was thicker than the lump in Luke’s throat. The spectators watched in delight — Luke hardly noticed them. All he could focus on were the play of emotions flashing across Kylo Ren’s face, faster than he could try to make out. He was watching him just as intently, trying to figure out his uncle’s motives in the surrender. Luke never had a chance to fight back.
Kylo Ren gained his momentum and kicked Luke straight in the gut. The Jedi Master keeled over — it was the surprise that got him more than the pain. His brain didn't even seem to register the pain at first, but a second hit had him on his side, cursing from the throb left by Kylo’s attack. He could feel the footprint imbed itself in his skin already, and his chest began to burn from the lack of oxygen.
Kylo Ren was scrambling back onto his feet, lightsaber ready in hand. The fiery blade burning near his face, and Luke could only watch him try to control his trembling stance. Luke could barely get up on arms, the pain stinging too much for him to ignore. Once Luke was steady on his knees, Kylo brought his sabre close to his neck, the blaze from the close contact was enough to give Luke a burn. There was no way of getting out of this situation. Kylo Ren had the upper hand, and Luke couldn't bring himself to swing the final blow, even if he had his weapon. This was it for him.
The rest of the crowd could sense that, too. The leeches chattered away and leaned in closer for the spectacle that was about to ensue.
“Wait!” Snoke’s voice echoed through the room. Kylo stiffened at the sound of it. “Let me see. Let me see the end of the Jedi with my own eyes.”
Nothing in the room moved in the midst of Snoke’s approaching figure. He was barely the same height as the Sith, but that didn't make him any less imposing. He was just as wrinkled and dry as Luke had pictured in his mind, only worse than he had expected. Snoke looked like he was trying his best to emulate the Emperor in all ways that he could, even in his dress sense and aura, but Luke was certain he hated him more than he had ever hated the Emperor. He knew that for certain.
By the time Snoke made it to the ground and was by Kylo’s side, Luke had to look away from the leering grin growing on his face. The grin that was full of promise and the gross satisfaction of finally reaching his desired goal. “I’ve waited so long for this. Thirteen years, waiting for the end of Luke Skywalker’s life. And now it has finally about to come to fruition.”
From the corner of his eye, Luke saw Snoke place a hand on Kylo’s shoulder, and leaned into his side. “And it all ends with you, my young apprentice. This will be the end of your training, once and for all.”
Kylo didn't seem to react to Snoke’s presence. His only focus was Luke at his feet, lightsaber positioned at his neck.
“Prove yourself, Kylo Ren,” Snoke whispered. “Become your grandfather’s legacy, become who you are destined to be. Make it happen for us all and kill Luke Skywalker. Do it!”
This was it for him. Luke knew that more than ever, but he didn't run. There was no point. Deep in his heart, he was ready for this. He thinks he was ready the moment he stepped onto the planet — he knew he was weaker than he was willing to accept, but that’s okay. He wasn't going to fight back or beg for his life; if Kylo failed in this task, Luke would assume that there would be dire consequences for him far worse than death.
Luke sneaked one last look at Kylo before he closed his eyes again. It wasn't usual for most people to want to see the face of their killer as the last thing they see, but this was what he wanted. The last shred of Ben he could find, but what he got was Kylo lifting his lightsaber into the air, ready to strike him down.
Luke tried not to flinch, but he kept his eyes closed, ready for the inevitable. The next thing he heard was Kylo’s yell and the lightsaber swishing in the air and slicing down with great force.
But then there was silence.
But Luke didn't feel anything. No pain, no heat… nothing.
The seconds ticked by. Luke became aware of the thrumming of the lightsaber. It was the only sound in the room, no one else dared to utter a word or move, to the point it made Luke’s heart race. He couldn't take the suspense anymore, and finally plucked up the courage to open his eyes.
He didn't seem to register what was going on at first, or maybe the sight was something like didn't believe, but it was right in front of his very eyes. In the midst of his swing, Kylo was facing away from him, his lightsaber down from the hit, but his focus was strictly on Snoke. The Sith was standing stock still, as if in shock and Luke finally saw why. There was a large gaping wound down his front. Blood was just beginning to seep from it and onto the floor. But all Snoke was capable of was blinking back at Kylo Ren.
Luke felt just as horrified as Snoke did. He didn't know what was going on at first, until Snoke finally collapsed to the ground. There was no question about it — Snoke was dead. No one could survive a wound like that, not even the most skilled healers could save him.
But when Luke’s eyes left his body and onto Kylo, there was something about him that was instantly different. The tension was gone from his limbs, his stance was no longer defensive and predatory, but something wasn't right. Luke couldn't see his face, but it was thick in the air around him. If only he could see…
But then Kylo let out the most wounded growl and launched himself on to Snoke’s corpse. His lightsaber stabbed, cleaved, split, even tore Snoke’s apart until Snoke was nothing more than little pieces, but Luke didn't think that was the motivation for that. There was too much rage for it to be a calculated move. This was something that had been building for a long time.
Kylo soon used up all his energy, or he didn't have the anger to keep doing it anymore, because he finally walked away from the body and stared down at it. It felt like forever, Luke watching everything happen, but then Kylo withdrew his red lightsaber in his hand, and the quiet thrum was gone between them.
Luke wasn't sure he heard that right. It was barely a whisper, and he still couldn't see his face, but he felt as if Luke should say something. “Maybe this is a ruse.”
“No,” Kylo shook his head, back still to Luke. “Even when he doesn't speak there’s always a noise, a presence, in the back of my mind. He never leaves me alone, he’s always there, but now… there’s nothing. He’s really gone.”
That last sentence was dripping with so much hope, so much excitement at the mere prospect of that being true that Luke wasn't sure what was happening anymore. But, finally, Kylo Ren turned around to face the Jedi Master, but this… Luke didn't know what to think. The Sith’s eyes were streaming with tears, but nothing about his expression emoted any sense of sadness. His eyes were light, wide, and for the first time in a avery long time… they were alive.
And Kylo Ren fell to his knees, with a shuddering sigh that was full of relief. Like a weight had finally been taken off his shoulders.
Luke didn't have a chance to go to Kylo’s side because there was a flurry of activity around him that left him reeling. At least half of the stormtroopers surrounding them had turned their guns onto the gawkers and other stormtroopers in their presences. The others didn't stand a chance against the surprise attack. The Resistance members held captive were swiftly released, heck, some of them were even given weapons to join in on the attack. It was a crazy eruption of fire power and laser strikes. Luke didn't know what was happening anymore, and he didn't care.
Kylo Ren hadn’t moved an inch from where he collapsed onto the floor. He was just as oblivious to the chaos around them as he was, but there was something in his eyes that didn't sit right with Luke. Before he knew what was happening, Luke found himself by Kylo’s side, hand on his shoulder. “Kylo Ren? Kylo, can you hear me? Kylo?”
Nothing. Everything Luke did to try and rouse Kylo out of his catatonia was a futile effort, but that didn't stop him. “You need to talk to me. Kylo?”
Still nothing. Luke could only kneel by his side and try desperately to get his attention.
Luke recognised that voice. When he followed it to the source, he saw Rey coming from the entrance into the room, and she wasn't alone either. Behind her was a group of people, some dressed in the First Order’s heavy thread uniform. Luke could recognise Finn under his tipped cap, and there was another girl with them, he couldn't remember her name, but he had seen her around the Resistance base. They must have snuck in because Luke doesn't remember them coming with the rest of the Resistance team. They must have snuck in earlier.
But Rey’s presence was the only thing that made Kylo jump out of his state. Or the mention of his name — his real name, anyway. Rey made her way over to the two of them, and kneeled down in front of the Sith. Kylo was waking from his trance, but there was still something not right. Rey cupped his face in her hands, trying to look into his eyes. Kylo could barely look at her face, he couldn't handle it and tried to shake away her hold.
Kylo tried to speak, but it was a mess of words. “I — I did — I didn't mean — I didn't mean…”
Rey didn't know what he was talking about, until he looked over to the remains of Snoke and she visibly flinched at the bloody mess. Who wouldn’t? It was a horrific sight to behold, but to see it happen as well… Luke was only glad Rey was not there for that.
It didn't stop Rey trying to talk to him. She tried, but Kylo was still incoherent. Luke didn't think they were going to get anything out of them for awhile.
“Sir!” Luke and Rey jumped at the stern voice.
They hadn't realised they had been approached by a stormtrooper until he made his presence known. Luke took the moment to survey what was happening now — things had become peaceful now. Almost. Some of the other stormtroopers had taken half the other members under arrest, but the one who’ve seemed to rebel were taking off their helmets. One by one, they were no longer the faceless troops in a sea of black and white helmets. Even the trooper in front of them had unclicked his mask and was taking it off in front of them, without hesitation.
“We have Hux and Phasma captured. They are being detained as we speak. What shall we do with them?”
The stern voice that fitted the trooper was no longer there. It was soft, young, and didn't belong to that of a soldier. In fact, he was only a boy, no older than Finn was in his early adulthood. Kylo seemed to sober up a bit more, realising he had to take back command. “Keep them detained. The Resistance will deal with them once the Council arrive.”
“Why would the Council be arriving?” Luke asked. The Council would not be involved with matters like this. They usually hired others to do their dirty work for them, even going to the Resistance to do that for them.
“Because I called them,” Kylo replied. He gently took Rey’s hands off him and got back onto his feet, albeit shakily. It didn't take away from his imposing figure. “They’ll be here any moment.”
“Why would you call them?” Luke asked again. “Why would you do that? What is happening right now?”
Kylo didn't answer him. He was too caught up in the body he had ripped apart, but Luke was getting desperate. And he was willing to do anything right now.
He remembered how Rey was able to get him to talk, and Luke had to mentally prepare himself for the words he had to say. For something he didn't think he would ever say to him again. “Ben, please? Ben, let me help you.”
Kylo could only stare at Luke once he had uttered those words. He seemed to be in disbelief, or he didn't want to believe it in case he was wrong, but Luke didn't miss how Kylo hesitated. He looked back at the body, shaking his head. “I had to stop him.”
“He was going to destroy everything,” Kylo muttered. “What he had done was only the beginning. You have no idea what he was going to do.”
“So you killed him?” Luke presumed.
Kylo’s response was a humourless laugh. “I’ve waited so long to do that. I’ve spent years, waiting for the right moment, but I could never get close enough… the things he made me do, I—”
“Wait. Slow down… I don't understand.” That was the most understated thing Luke had ever said because he couldn't get his head around the events that were unravelling in front of him. So much had happened in such a short space of time, none of it going the way he thought it would, and he was still trying to figure out if that was a good thing or a bad thing. “You were Snoke’s apprentice, you were his most loyal Knight —”
“Luke,” Rey interrupted. There was something in her expression that told him to be careful here, but he didn't know how to tread carefully in a situation like this. He wasn't even sure if he wanted too. He’s had enough of being in the dark.
“Rey, what is going on?” Luke demanded.
“Luke, don't you get it? We came here because of a tip from someone in the First Order. The first time Snoke has been out in public, and the one who kills him is his most trusted apprentice. Don't you think that is a bit odd?”
Luke had no idea where Rey was going with this. “What are you saying?”
“Who do you think gave us the tip? A reliable tip, at that. How would the Admirals know it was reliable?”
“They wouldn’t, unless—”
Unless the source gave them information before.
Luke turned his attention back on Kylo. The man was watching him carefully. Luke didn't know what was going on behind those eyes, but he didn't look like the menacing monster he had believed him to be all those years. It was the opposite. He looked like he wouldn't hurt anyone, even if he wanted to. It was such a weird image, knowing what he has done, what he just saw. But this is the first time Luke has seen anything close to resembling his Ben he once knew…
“You’re the source? You… betrayed Snoke?”
Kylo didn't answer him, but he didn't have to. Everything he was hiding was in his eyes — Ben was never a closed book. You could always tell what he was feeling the moment you look at him, and now was no exception. The mask was good for hiding that. He wouldn't have been feared by his enemies for so long if he didn't have it. It was making Luke more confused over how to respond to all of this.
“But I don't understand, you — everything you did —”
“Was a means to an end,” Kylo whispered.
“A means to an end?” A voice interrupted. It was Poe. He must have been listening not too far away because the next thing Luke knew, he was all up in Kylo’s face, his eyes aflame with shimmering anger. “That’s all you have to say for yourself? A means to an end?”
Finn was by his side in that moment, and grabbing his arm to pull him back. “Poe, you need to back off—”
“I will not back off! A means to an end? You remember what he did, what he is! He tortured me, he kidnapped Rey and you, he killed thousands of people and all he can say is that it was a means to an end? Luke, he murdered your students, he even killed your friend San Tekka in front of a whole village, and he was an ally to us—”
“He wasn’t an ally. He never was,” Kylo muttered.
Poe scoffed. “Like you would say that.”
“Oh, and you knew him better than I did?” Kylo said innocently, but then something sinister crossed his face. Before Luke knew it, Kylo had his lightsaber fired up and he was pointing it to Poe’s face. Everyone jumped back from the sudden movement, wide-eyed and fearful, but Kylo didn't notice them. He was too focused on Poe.
“Ben, what are you doing?” Rey asked, trying to take a few steps forward.
“Were you in on it?” Kylo asked Poe. “Were you part of his little scheme?”
Poe, even with all his bravado, looked like nothing but a scared little puppy. “Know what? Please put your glow stick down.”
Rey intervened again. “Ben, Ben, don’t—”
“Exactly how did you survive that crash? It’s almost a miracle, don’t you think? How did you survive?”
“I almost didn’t. Will you please not kill me?”
Kylo still didn't move his lightsaber. Rey finally made it to his side and carefully guided Kylo to lower his weapon. He seemed to be putty under the young girl’s persuasion. It wasn't much different from how they were before, but this didn't clarify anything for Luke in the process. “What’s going on, Ben? What are you talking about? What little scheme? Help us understand.”
Kylo finally dropped his stance and looked over to Rey by his side. He seemed conflicted about whether he should say anything, but Rey was there to urge him on. After a bit more persistence, he finally opened up. “Tekka knew a lot of stuff. He knew too much, didn’t he? Did anyone ever wonder how he knew so many things? It was very convenient how he had the map to where my uncle was after all these years, and he never told anyone. Unless someone told him to keep quiet, until for the right moment for when I was ready to complete my training.”
Kylo drifted off, his tone completely bitter. Luke needed to know the rest though. “You’re saying it was a set up?”
“Of course it was a set up!” Kylo snapped. It even made Rey jolt at its forcefulness, but this seemed to be something Kylo had been keeping to himself for a long time, and once it was out, he couldn't control the flood from the dam. “How did he know where you were, Rey? How is it that he randomly found you on a walk in a desolate planet? Doesn't anyone find that a little bit suspicious? How do you think Snoke knew about me in the first place? It was Tekka. He told him everything.”
Luke didn't like what Kylo was saying and began to shake his head insistently. “No. Tekka wouldn’t do that. He was loyal to our cause. I knew him.”
“Oh, come on!” Kylo shouted, half hysterical. “How did you not see? Abbot, Nex, Opal — they all became Knights. They were all Tekka’s students! He had been training them on the path of the Dark side for years and you never realised? How could you be so blind?! He was working for Snoke the moment he joined you at the Academy.”
“No, that can’t be. It can’t. Tekka was my friend, he wouldn't…”
Poe huffed. “That’s because it’s a lie—”
“Shut up, Poe! Just shut up!” Luke shouted back. He hadn't realise he was getting so riled up in the process.
Poe immediately sobered up and put on his most sincere demeanour. “Master Skywalker, I know emotions are running high, but we have a serious situation on our hands, and now is not the time for questions. We need to bring everyone in to the base, including him.”
Poe tipped his head over to Kylo. The movement got Rey into a panic. “No, no, no. He’s not a prisoner — you heard what happened. How can you—”
“I’m sorry, Rey, but he is. No matter the circumstances, Ben Solo is a war criminal. Even if he was doing it on behalf of the Resistance, as he claims, he is still culpable for his actions. I have to arrest him.”
What was weird about the exchange was that Kylo seemed unfazed by the implication of being arrested. Not at all. He seemed to have been expected, and now that it had happened, he seemed at peace with it. But once he got the news, he looked over to Luke. His eyes were fixed and unsteady, but there was so much strife boiling under the surface, and Luke couldn't work out what was going on beneath them.
He never took his eyes off him once, swallowing hard. “Aren't you going to say anything?”
Luke didn’t know what to say at that moment because he was struck speechless. After all these years, after all the heartache and the ‘what ifs’ that he conjured up in his head about how their next meeting would go, none of them ever came up with this. This… this was far from his own imagination. If this was all true, then that means… then that means Ben is still here, but… but if Luke made himself believe in that… what if he’s wrong? What if he loses him just at the moment when he lets himself belie that…
Luke doesn't know how he should feel, but the longer Luke stayed silent, the more the dejection seemed to weigh heavy on his shoulders. He finally dropped his gaze, with a black cloud casting over him. “Looks like it doesn't matter anymore.”
At that moment, Kylo flung his lightsaber across the room and fell down to his knees, with his hands raised by either side of his head. “I surrender myself to the Resistance.”
Poe didn't wait a second. He grabbed his restraints and pulled Ben’s hands behind his back and cuffed them together with a metallic click. Rey just stood by the sidelines, not moving but she was obviously not happy with it. Once he was detained, Poe dragged Kylo up onto his feet and began to drag him away to the ships, ready to take him to the Resistance base.
Luke did nothing but watch Ben be dragged away…
Luke sat by his side during the entire ride back. They never said anything. Not once. In the end, Luke guessed they didn't need to. Kylo seemed completely defeated in his seat. He wouldn't look up at Luke, he wouldn't talk to him — he didn't even acknowledge him when Luke walked onto the shuttle and took a seat by him. It didn't matter. Luke wasn't sure what to say to him in response if they had to speak.
When they finally landed, Poe and some other guards were waiting by the door, ready to take Kylo away. He knew it was unlikely that he would get an opportunity to talk to him again for awhile, so he tried to get over his own fear and finally spoke up. “They’re going to take you away to a specialised cell, so that you won’t use your Force abilities to get out. Before they do, is there anything I can do for you?”
“No,” Ben whispered. The guard made his way over to Ben, signalling the end of Luke’s visitation.
Luke got up. He squeezed Kylo’s shoulder and made his way over to the door to leave. The guards floated past him, but Luke paid them no attention.
“Wait!” Kylo called out and Luke froze on the spot. He was struck by how vulnerable he sounded. When Luke looked over his shoulder, Kylo was watching him with watery eyes, trying to hold back the tears. “Can I see my mom?”
And how could Luke say no to that? He gave a slight nod and the guards didn't seem to fight the order. They hoisted Kylo up onto his feet and dragged him down to the cock pit, approaching the wide eyed stares of everyone working on their own ships. It must have been weird for them to see a sight like this, but Luke blurred them out of his vision until he found the one person who he knew would be there.
Leia was waiting in the midst of the crowd. He couldn't make out her expression because she was so far away, but Luke didn't need to guess. He already knew. Just as he already knew the storm of emotions going through Kylo Ren. With every step he made closer to her, his jaw tightened up — Ben’s usual sign of hiding his emotions to the point where his body was fighting against his own will.
By the time they were face to face, nothing was said. Kylo Ren leered over her. Leia was always small, but she could still hold her own against the imposing figure of her son. The seconds ticked by, and the silence was stressing Kylo out more than anything. He bit his lip, shaking his head to himself.
After one deep breath, Kylo finally faced Leia, but there was nothing but sincere honesty and ineffable sadness that seeped out of every pore. “I’m sorry.”
Luke didn't know how this was going to play out. Honestly, he had no idea what to expect from Leia, even after everything she had told him before. It might have changed with Ben finally being here. Her repressed anger or grief might finally come to the surface and she might finally lash out — Luke didn't know. All he could think of was the worst case scenario.
Kylo must have been expecting the same thing, but no matter what they were expecting, Leia took a few steps closer, and cupped his cheek. After a moment of stunned silence, Kylo clenched his jaw, still expecting the worst, but Leia leaned in and took his face in both her hands.
Luke wondered what the hell was going through her head at that moment, but the next words, three little words, left him more shocked than anything else in the world. “I forgive you.”
Those words were out and they had an instant affect. A sob broke out of Kylo’s chest, and he dissolved into a pit of hysterics. Leia was there to pull him into her chest, wrapping her arms around him like any concerned mother would.
But Luke just stood there, watching the entire scene. The longer he watched, the more Luke was bombarded with those memories of Ben as a little boy, running into Leia’s arms. So much had changed in the years from that moment to now, but the longer he saw Ben wail into Leia’s shoulder, the more he realised that not much had changed at all.
And maybe, just maybe, Ben was still in there all along…
The last few days after the they brought Ben home hadn't truly registered in Luke’s mind. There had been so much going on — too much, really — for Luke to try and keep up with, so there were only certain things that stuck. Leia had taken it as her personal mission to dismantle everything that had anything to do with First Order. She refused to rest in the midst of her efforts. The only time she ever took a break was at Luke’s insistence and even that was difficult in the process.
It had been a bad few days. Really bad. Luke had never realised how much influence the First Order had in the galaxy. They had their hooks in many different Councils on many different planets. Snoke had a carefully fuelled arsenal at his disposal of the most influential people he could find that would further his cause and uphold his power. He was more powerful in that regard and finding his close friends involved more politics than Luke could handle. Leia knew how to deal with them. She grew up handling those types of people, and arresting them for their involvement in the genocide of multiple planets and their species was something she took great delight in.
It wasn't that hard to get the information. They had access to First Order database, now that Snoke was gone and Kylo had told them how to go through the dizzying amount of files and content. Most of the crew are still combing through them as he speaks, and they’ll possibly will be for the next few weeks or so to find out as much as they could. There was already a large team on it. It was going to be a long hall, but they had found out more information than they could ever dream of, but that was for another time.
But the Stormtroopers… that was the hardest pill to swallow.
One of the files the team had been able to decrypt was their Stormtrooper program. They didn't go through with a clone army, as the Emperor did. No. This time they pillaged villages, towns, families and sometimes they would steal the children they thought would be the best fighters in the galaxy. Once they found the right candidates, they would slaughter their families and take the children to be trained. They made it essential to never leave anyone alive that might look for them. It was too much of a risk to be kind.
Luke had never thought of it that way. His experience with the Stormtroopers, the ones he killed before… he never thought of them as people. He just assumed they were working for the Empire because they were bad people. He never considered the fact that they didn't have a choice in the matter.
The defected troops had surrendered themselves willing after Kylo Ren had. They weren't technically prisoners anymore, now that the Council knew about their circumstances, but they never tried to fight them. Luke remembered walking into med bay and they would all be in a straight line, waiting to be examined by Kalonia and they marvelled at the fact that they were able to have an open conversation with each other and were finally able to see the other’s face for the first time. They were never allowed such a luxury before. To do so would earn them a severe penalty that they dreaded to face.
Luke watched them for a few moments as they talked openly and unhurriedly and he was struck by the thought that, even though they knew they were prisoners, they didn't seem terrified by the prospect. They chatted, they laughed, they got to know the people around them and they were able to show their individual personalities for the first time in their whole lives. In their minds, being a prisoner earned them more freedom than being a Stormtrooper would ever allow.
They were kids. What kind of life were they forced to live?
Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you see it, the First Order kept a record for every Stormtrooper they had. Once they were declared free people, they were able to track down their real names and where they came from. The was all they could really find. The records had their parents’ names, but they knew there was never any point going back to them. They knew they weren't going to be looking for them. It crushed Luke’s heart to watch their expression as the news was broken to them.
It had been hopeful for them. They could build their own lives from here, but that didn't stop the question of why so many Stormtroopers defected under the First Order’s nose and yet not realise. They said they couldn't give an explanation to why, but all of their statements seemed to resemble each other in their reasoning. Something was telling them that they couldn't bring themselves to be completely obedient to their cause, but none of them could explain why.
It was the Admirals who took their statements. It was a long and arduous process, but they were able to find a correlation in the end. Luke remembered it clearly as ever…
“I have taken the testimony of all the defected Stormtroopers, and all of their stories seem to match. However, we were able to discover a correlation to where their rebellious nature may have stemmed.”
“How do you mean?” Leia asked. It wasn't during an official meeting or anything. It was only by luck that Luke happened to be there to hear this piece of information.
“All of their files have noted a need for them to go to Reconditioning. It was where they would go in order to be re-indoctrinated back into the First Order’s ideals. That was when the Stormtroopers official defected and worked as spies within the organisation. We had a hunch and asked if maintenance could have a look at the Reconditioning suite. And they found something.”
“What did they find?”
“The glitch was within the machine. After a thorough investigation into the schematics and build of the system, I can identify that the coding had been altered.”
“The main function of this machine was to Recondition the troops back into submission. However, the coding for this machine would have failed in that regard. From what I could read from the system, the only thing this machine would be capable of is instilling a further sense of identity and self thought. Nobody would’ve picked it up if they thought the system was working. None of the troops ever displayed another incident of disobedience in their files.”
“Who would know how to change the coding of that?” Leia asked.
There was something about the conversation that made Luke think back to the days in the Academy, when Ben had R2-D2 at his disposal back during his time in the hut. It made him realise something. “Who did the troops have to report to once reconditioning was complete?”
“Uh, let’s see…” the Admiral flicked through files in his hands and skimmed through the chunky text. “It appears they would have to report to the highest in command for that.”
Highest in command? That would be Kylo Ren…
Faulty coding? That was not a coincidence…
“Ben would know how to change coding like that,” Luke pitched in. “I’ve seen him do it many times.”
And that was true. It was all true, and Luke ended up being right. This was all of Kylo Ren’s doing. Everything that had failed within the First Order had been by his design, and no one had guessed. The Stormtroopers would go to him and they would receive instructions from their leader on what to do. It went from sabotage, deliberate missed shots, feigned incompetency — you name it. It was all done by Kylo Ren’s hand.
That’s the one thing Luke doesn't understand about all this. Why would he, after all the things he has done, do something good?
He murdered students, he destroyed planets, he even killed his own father, and for what? For him to go Dark side, only for him to return to the Light? Why would he betray Snoke, the person he gave up his whole life for? This doesn't make any sense!
For all of his questions, Luke couldn’t find any answers. His confusion only grew with his despair because Kylo wasn't talking anymore. He was moved to his cell straight after he arrived. He had given them enough information to go through the systematics, but something changed. Leia visited him every minute she had a free moment and she came to Luke in hysterics. Ben had stopped talking to her, then he stopped allowing visitors, and now he won’t talk at all. He had already began to send his food back — that was yesterday morning. Even the guards are concerned about his welfare.
Leia was getting desperate. She was beginning to panic and worry, but Luke doubted there was anything he could do. If Luke was being honest, he wasn't sure if he even wanted to see him. He felt terrible thinking it, but he doesn't think he could ever face him again. Luke was certain the last time he would ever see Kylo Ren would be when he would kill him. Now he was here and Luke was at a loss. For so long he had thought Ben was never coming back. Now he’s sitting in their prison cell, wasting away.
But Leia wouldn't give up on him, even when he refused all visitors. Leia is so certain that Luke could be able to help, but she had thought that before. Look what happened there. Don't get Luke wrong. He wanted Ben back more than anything. But Ben never killed anyone. Kylo did. Which means Ben has become a killer, and it would be because Luke failed to protect him.
How can Luke ever reconcile that thought?
Luke was walking the grounds of a place he had not been to in a very long time.
Nobody had approached the ruins of the Academy after the Purge. Who could blame them? It was a horrific sight. The building was nothing but charred rubble and ash. Luke remembered the flames in the air, the bodies on the ground all around him — at least those were gone now.
Why he decided to come here? Luke has no idea. He’s avoided it for years and now he’s back. Is this some sort of punishment for himself? To see more of the destruction he caused?
He told Leia he was going to meditate for a few hours, but just as the words were out of his mouth he was jumping into his ship and flying off into the sky. It was the strangest thing. He thought about the Academy and suddenly he was there. Of all of the places, it had to be this one?
It was like he wanted to punish himself.
As he watched the dead remains, he heard R2-D2 beeping not too far away. Luke didn't realise he was on the ship until it was too late, and now R2 is making it his mission to ensure Luke wasn't alone. He rolled over to his side and beeped. Luke didn't make much of it. He wasn't even sure what he even tried to say to him.
Luke had finally had enough and began to make his way back to the ship. “Come on, R2. Let’s go home.”
Luke was trudging back when he noticed that R2 was not following him. He turned around and saw the blue and white droid rolling away in the other direction. “R2, where are you going? The ship’s that way.”
The droid didn't listen. He beeped a reply and kept on going.
“Are you listening to me — R2!” Luke called out for him, but R2 ignored him. The Jedi master had no choice but to run after him, but even that didn't stop him. “What’s gotten into you?”
In the end, Luke spent the next few minutes following the droid. He was so caught up in trying to keep up with R2 that he didn't realise where they were heading until it was right in front of him.
The hut was exactly the same as it was when Ben was sixteen. It was far enough away from the Academy to save itself from catching the flames, but besides the overgrown weeds and greenery growing around it, it seems to have been untouched by time. It was like Luke had taken a step back in to the past — he was almost expecting Ben to just pop his head out the door and wave hello to him, or to hear little Rey giggling away in background. But he didn’t. It was just a preserved vessel of the happier times.
And R2 was rolling straight towards it without a care.
“R2, we have to go,” Luke told the droid, but he didn't listen. “For the last time, we are going home. R2, we are leaving right now!”
The droid rolled to the hut and he disappeared from Luke’s sight. He tried to just stand there and wait for the droid, but his skin was itching from the anxiety. He knew it was a bad idea, but Luke took a deep breath and marched over until he was finally inside.
If Luke thought it was unchanged on the outside, the inside was another story. Everything was preserved in it’s little bubble. These four walls kept everything exactly the way it was. Tools left on the makeshift table, some of Rey’s dolls and toys, even their old lunch from before — everything was in here. Luke would've taken more of a chance to be sentimental if it wasn't for the droid that was making a nuisance.
R2 had finally stopped in front of one of the tree walls. There was a layer of clay over it to keep the structure secure, and R2 popped out his circular saw to break into the hardened clay. “Hey, what are you doing? You’re going to destroy the place!”
But R2 kept on going and ignored the Jedi Master.
“R2, listen to me! You can’t destroy this! I won’t let you!” Luke said angrily.
But what the droid did next had Luke silent. While he was sawing, his claw popped out alongside the saw until it was inside the small opening. The droid didn't stop until he finally clasped onto something and pulled it out of the wall.
The saw finally ceased, but the droid was holding a notebook in his clasp, a notebook Luke had never seen before.
R2 turned his direction to Luke and pushed out the notebook for Luke to take. He beeped loudly and Luke pulled it out of his grasp. It was old. The pages were discoloured and the binding was stained with clay, but it seemed legible from what he could see. “What is this?”
The droid beeped again, but Luke didn't listen. He opened up the first few pages and he recognised the handwriting immediately. It was Ben’s, from when it was a youngster’s scrawl to the teen’s fine hand, but Luke never remembered him to ever keep a diary or take any notes. The first passages were childish thoughts, things that an adult could nod along with and entertain, but the handwriting was like a progression. Ben’s thoughts became more detailed, more understandable, yet at the same time, even more elusive than before.
That was until he found a page that caught his attention the most. From the state of his handwriting, Luke guesses that make Ben was around nine years old here. He read through the text, taking in Ben’s most private of thoughts.
I found my parent’s wedding pictures! I had to pay my entire savings and a blaster taser, but’s that’s not the point. I’ve never seen my parents’ wedding pictures. They said they never took any, that it was a heat of the moment thing. Why would they lie about that?
Now I know why. Mom and dad were married two months before I was born, at least. That means mom would've been pregnant, heavily so. But in the pictures… she's not. She couldn't have been that skinny when I was close to being born. It’s not possible.
But Uncle Luke… that’s a tricky one. He’s wearing his heavy cloak, so I can’t really see, but that was the point, right? He had to keep me a secret at that time, but that only means that I still don't have the truth. I thought those pictures would help…
Wait. Pictures? The truth? What is Ben talking about?
Luke skipped forward to a few more pages and found another passage to read through. Ben must be about twelve by now.
Dad showed me a picture of my grandmother today. She’s beautiful. Like, really beautiful. She could've been one of the glamour girls from the Naboo Courts if she was alive. I would've loved to have met her. From what dad told me about her she seems like an amazing woman. I can see how much he misses her a lot. He kept playing with my hair the whole time he was telling the story. It made me remember the older stories about how she would let him braid her hair. I guess that’s why he ruffles my hair all the time. Now I know.
But I look like her. We have the same hair colour, the same nose, freckles — everything. Dad wasn't lying when he said we looked alike, and that has left me more confused than ever. I know I look like her, for all intents and purpose, I’m related to her, but that can’t be true. If I’m adopted than that means there is no biological connection, but I can’t deny that I seem to be my grandmother’s spitting image.
I want to be this woman’s grandchild. I desperately want to be her son’s child, just like I wish I was my mom’s own flesh and blood, but I’m not. I feel horrible writing this and feeling this way, but what can I do? I don’t like having these doubts about my own family, I don’t want to question everything they have done for me, but the desire to know the truth still haunts me every day. No matter how much I try, I don't think I could ever give up ever trying to know the truth.
But I can’t just ask Uncle Luke if I’m his kid. Who does that? And what if I’m wrong? Why do I feel this way?
Maybe Snoke was right. Maybe he wouldn't tell me if it was true. Maybe everything he said was right about being a disappointment in his eyes—
Luke ended up snapping the book shut at that line. He was struck with the sensation that he couldn't breathe. He had to take deep breaths just to fill his lungs, but it didn't stop the sting in his eyes.
R2 was beeping away, his way of asking if he was all right, but Luke couldn't answer him. He ended up opening that page again, just to read through it and experience the same stab of horror as he felt the first time. It was all there and Luke was struggling to believe that it was real. He tried to think, he tried to calm himself down, but it was all pointless, because the same loop was going over and over in his head, like a spiteful taunt.
He knew. He knew, he knew, he knew, he knew, he knew—
Luke felt a sob break out of his chest. It was ugly and raw and there was nothing he could do about it
He needs to leave. He needs to get off this damn planet — right now!
Today is my first day of training with Uncle Luke. First time! I’m not sure how I feel at the moment. So far all I can feel is the mixture of nausea and apprehension. Or maybe that’s from the homesickness. I have to admit; being away from mom and dad is a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I can't let it get in the way now. I had to beg Uncle Luke to be here. I can’t make him regret that. I have a job to do…
Luke flicked through the pages again. Like he had been doing for the past hour or so. He landed on the next page and began to read again.
Did I ever tell you that Uncle Luke doesn't have kids? I asked him about it today, but he seemed very elusive about the topic. I always guessed it was because of him being a Jedi and all, since they aren't allowed to have personal connections and all, but that seems like a silly rule to me. I tried to talk to him, but that’s always a touchy subject. Do you think it’s because of bad memories? Of having to give me away? He won’t say. Hey, I might even be wrong about the whole thing. How will I know if no one will tell me the truth?
Flicker of the pages. Another passage of blue ink and scrawl.
Sorry I haven't been able to write so often. Rey’s been hanging around here a lot, so it’s hard for me to write. She keeps looking through all of my stuff — I don't mind. I like having her here, but did she have to be so damn nosey?
I have a lot of things to tell you. Things have been getting a little stressed recently.
Snoke has been getting more vocal every time we talk. The things he would say to me… I don't want to tell you how horrible it is. But he has plans, and he wants me to do them and—
Sorry again! Rey walked in while I was writing. She even tried to snatch it out of my hands to see what it was, but I got it back before she could. I need to be more careful around her now, which means less time for telling you everything.
Luke flickered back to the first few pages, the ones were Ben was much younger, judging by his awful handwriting, but what do you expect from a kid? Luke kept on reading the very first page. He skimmed through the irrelevant information and went to the text that mattered.
I think Luke is my dad.
So here it is. Ben did know. Or he suspected, at least.
Luke had spent most of the day reading through the notebook until he had it memorised. Most of it — no. All of it was a revelation. It gave Luke more insight into Ben’s childhood than he could ever ask from Ben himself. And boy, did he learn a lot…
Turns out Ben has had this theory for a very long time, but it doesn't specify when. With a sick sense of realisation, Luke knows it definitely been a few decades.
Snoke has been talking to him for the same amount of time, too. Probably around the time he first became depressed. Luke thinks he was around seven or eight years old at that time.
Ben has been hiding a lot of emotional turmoil over the years.
And Ben was doing everything he could to try and ‘prove himself’ to Luke. The Jedi training, being his Padawan… all of it.
This book… it was Ben’s evidence. It was every little scrap of information he could dig up to prove his theory. Little interactions, family histories, relationships — anything he could get his hands on, he used it desperately to find the truth. He even had a list of physical traits compiled to match who he looked like the most.
He hasn't figured out that Han was his biological father, because he felt more confused and guilty over his feelings every time the paternal resemblance became apparent. The conflict of emotions Ben feels when it happens had Luke welling up for him.
There were so many secrets Ben was hiding from the rest of the world. No wonder he had so many problems. And let’s face it, they were problems caused by Luke — Luke is the source of all his anxiety and worry and after so many years of trying to hide him from the truth about where he came from, it looked like Ben knew already. And Luke never guessed in the slightest.
The Jedi Master had to fight off a grimace. He was not in the mood to talk to anyone.
“You’re here,” Rey came up by him and took a seat next to him. “Leia said you were at the Temple. I couldn’t find you.”
“I was too distracted to meditate.” It wasn't a lie. It’s just not the whole truth.
Rey nodded, but she was biting her lip like she was trying to fight back something that was on her tongue. Ultimately, she caved in. “Luke, I need your help.”
Luke sighed. “Rey, I already told Leia, I can’t do anything.”
“I know, but there must be something? You were able to reach him before, maybe you could do it again,” Rey asked hopefully.
Luke’s mind flashed back to that fight at the First Order and blanched. “I didn’t do anything, Rey. I wasn’t the one who reached out. I thought he was gone. I didn’t know that this was even going to happen. I’m not the person to talk to.”
“Then who should I talk to, huh? I’m trying my best here and no one is helping me.”
“Why are you helping him, Rey? Why do you want to do this?” Luke asked. This wasn't a new thing. Rey had been just as active in helping Ben as Leia was, evening coming to him when Ben stopped her visitation, as well. It didn't stop her from going in, but every visit left her just as afraid for his health as Leia felt.
Rey shakes her head, mostly to herself. “I can’t explain it. I don’t know why, but I can’t get rid of this feeling that… I don’t know! But I’m struggling to believe that he is the true villain here.”
“Let it go, Rey. If he won’t help himself, then there is nothing we can do.”
Rey looked at him in shock. “You don't believe that. Not after everything that has happened.”
“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” Luke admitted in a whisper.
And that was true. Luke was so confused about everything, after what he had thought to be true — he thought Ben was gone. Turns out that might not be the case. Ben went to the Dark side. That might also be a ruse. Ben not knowing the truth about his birth. Now that seems to have blown up in his face too — what was true? Luke didn't know. He has no idea what is happening anymore. He doesn't even know what to hope for anymore. He’s just… lost.
Rey was unusually silent next to Luke’s side and when he looked up, Rey was staring down at Luke’s lap. “What’s that?”
Dammit! The notebook. Luke had forgotten he had that and tried to hide it away in his robe. “Nothing.”
“No, no, no, no,” Rey was insistent. She snatched the book before Luke had a chance to shield it from view. It was in her hand, and Luke was too late in trying to get it back. She had jumped onto her feet and flipped through the pages. “I’ve seen this before. I know this, but… I think I’ve read this. How have I read this?”
Despite the urge Luke wanted to grabbed the book back, there was no point. If she had read it already then that means those secrets are known to her, even if buried deep into her unconscious. Heck, Luke wouldn't have been surprised if Rey had snuck a few reads when Ben was out, all for the fact that she wasn't allowed to read it. Never underestimate a rambunctious child.
Plus, from the corner of his eye, Luke could see the slightest hints of realisation seep into her eyes and features. The seconds dragged on like they were minutes and by the time Rey was finished reading the first few pages, her gaze felt heavy on Luke where he refused to look up, dreading the worst.
“He’s telling the truth, isn't he?” Rey asked, but it didn't seem to sound like a question. “He really is your son.”
Luke didn't want to answer her, but he didn't need to. Silence was always enough of an answer.
“I can’t believe it,” Rey whispered. “He was right. All this time he was right. This is good. Maybe this is what he needs to get him out of his slump.”
“Yeah, all we have to do is introduce it to him carefully and—”
“Rey, I’m not telling him,” Luke interrupted.
Rey stopped her babble. “What? Why?”
“What good will it do? He’s better off not knowing.”
Rey scoffed at that thought. “No, he’s not. He’s miserable, and he’s obviously been trying to find the truth. This isn't about him, this is about your own reasons for not wanting to tell him.”
“Rey, have you ever considered that I gave Ben up for a reason?”
“And what reason would that be?” Rey asked, crossing her arms.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” Luke got up from his seat and began to walk away. If only Rey would leave him in peace, but she was following him not too far behind.
“No, but you should explain to him. He needs it,” Rey pleaded.
“You should leave, Rey.”
“Is it regret? Is it something else? Luke—”
Luke gritted. “I’m not talking about this anymore.”
Rey grabbed Luke’s arm and tried to stop him in his tracks, but Luke tried to pull free, but it was useless. “Why won’t you do anything?!”
“Because this is my fault!” Luke blurted out, grabbing Rey’s shoulders and looking her straight in the eye. Her anger sobered up for a small moment, but her determination was still present in her stance. “It’s my fault, and I can’t fix it.”
“How do you know that?” Rey asked.
Luke dropped his head and sighed. He let go of her arms and ran his hands over her face, suddenly feeling bone tired. “Ben wasn't planned. If you want me to be honest, he was the product of a very dumb mistake, but I only wanted the best for him. I was a Jedi. I wasn't allowed to keep him, and everything I did after that was to make sure he had a good life. How can I look him in the eye and tell him that when all he felt was loss and confusion? And all he’s done is from my own foolishness. He must hate me so much… he’s better off without me.”
“That’s not true,” Rey argued. “I’ve seen Ben’s thoughts. He’s suspected for a very long time and he’s never hated you once. All he wanted was to know was why you didn’t want him. I know what it’s like to feel abandoned, but at least I had hope that one day someone was going to come back for me. Ben doesn’t have that. If you walk away now, how are you going to prove him wrong?”
Luke didn't know what to say to that, but he didn't think he could. He felt the familiar lump in his throat, the deep urge to cry, but he didn't want to do that now. He shook his head and tried to cover his face. “I need a minute alone.”
Rey must’ve seen his distress. She didn't say anything, and she didn't push him, either. She let Luke go his own way, the Jedi feeling her stare heavy on his back. He couldn't handle the confrontation now. He just wanted to be alone.
But he found himself wandering the dry desert lands of his home planet, letting the heat fry his skin and break him out in a sweat. He didn't care. He was used to the temperatures here. It was the memories he couldn't stand, and even though he wanted to be alone, he desperately wanted to talk to some. A certain someone in particular.
Luke didn't even need to ask or say it out loud. He must have felt it through the Force and he was there.
“She’s right, my boy,” the voice of Obi-Wan was loud and melodic in his head. “For all your years of exile, you wished for nothing more than to have Ben back. And he is here, yet you are reluctant to see him.”
Not even a hello. Just straight to business. “Things are different, Obi-Wan. I never anticipated Ben becoming the man he is today.”
“But you are not the man you were either. You have both changed,” Obi-Wan noted.
“I didn't become a murderer. I didn't go to the Dark side and destroy everything his family has built.”
Luke heard Obi-Wan hum. “He has done many terrible things.”
Luke gulped. “Yes.”
“But you didn't kill him when you thought he was just a villain. Why is that?”
Luke was silent at that, but he didn't have to answer.
“It’s because you can’t bring yourself to hate him.”
Trust the Kenobis to deduce the answer without the use of words. It would almost make Luke smile if it weren't for the circumstances. “I don't know what to do.”
Obi-Wan was nothing more than sympathetic. “I think you do know. That’s why you have put if off for so long. You believe that everything he has done to discover and destroy Snoke was stemmed of you. You think this was his way of trying to prove himself to you.”
Luke stopped in his steps, finally facing his deepest fear.
“It makes sense, doesn't it?” Luke admitted, shaking his head. He blinked to fight back the sting in his eyes. “Dammit, why couldn't he have just asked me? Why couldn't he have just told me what was happening? Why did he feel he had to do this?”
“You will never know if you don't ask him.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Not easy to ask or not easy to face him?” Obi-Wan asked.
Luke didn't answer him. He didn't need to.
“What do you fear will happen if you do see him?” The ghost said softly.
“I’m not sure. Sometimes I’m scared it will be the Dark side forever looming over him, or the sorrow he is suffering — I can’t be sure anymore.”
Obi-Wan hummed, understanding. “You do not believe he can be redeemed, then? That is a bit hypocritical of you to believe.”
“Excuse me?” Luke was taken back by that.
Obi-Wan lowered his tone for Luke to listen even more carefully. “I have seen the Dark side take many forms, Luke, and just like you, I believed that once you let it take over, it will forever consume your path. You helped to show me a different way. You did something I believed to have been impossible; you brought my friend back. You saved your father and in his sacrifice, he saved you and the galaxy from further destruction. But we do not forget that he was once part of the destruction. It’s easy to get lost to the Dark side, Luke. But, sometimes, in the darkest of times, when the light comes, it will shine more brightly than ever.”
Luke wanted to believe those words. He desperately wanted to even contemplate that there could be a chance, but he felt like there was a wall keeping him from truly believing. But maybe that was on him. Maybe that was Luke’s fault. “But how do I forgive him? How can I get past everything he’s done?”
Obi-Wan presence weighed on the Jedi Master in a comfortable embrace. “You remember what I told you about seeing the truth from different points of view? Ben has always been similar to Darth Vader in many ways, and this is not the exception. Vader killed me, Ben killed his father. They destroyed planets and ruined lives. Vader and Ben are not that different, so ask yourself: why would you forgive one and not the other?”
Luke didn't know how to answer that. In the end he didn't need to. In his silence, he felt the soft pressure of Obi-Wan’s ghostly hand squeeze his shoulder, an act of reassurance that Luke int realise he needed until he finally had it. “Show him the Light, Luke. Bring Ben back home.”
And then Luke felt Obi-Wan leave. His presence was gone, but he knew he would be back when the Jedi Master will need him — it could be soon or in a few years, but he will be there. Luke knows that.
Luke sat by himself for the next hour or so, his mind going through every single scenario of whether he should go to Ben or to leave things be. So much bad has happened, and everything he thought of only brought out the worst reactions they could bring if he told the truth. For awhile, he had decided on not telling anyone the truth. But then he remembered he still had the notebook in hand. For some reason, he opened up the last page and began to read the few lines of text written in Ben’s hand. The last page before he committed the Purge.
Do you know what I want? After all this time, all this doubt and searching, do you know what the only thing I really want to ask him?
I want to know why he didn't want me.
And that was when Luke made his decision. It was time to tell the truth. All of it.
“Leia, you here?”
Even as he opened the door, Luke knew Leia would be working. It wouldn't be like her to take a break in the early stages of the dismantle, so Luke knew how to find her quickly. She was alone in the meeting room, going over the last few files she could read up while the Admirals were sleeping. She probably hasn't realised it was night time yet.
That was good. Better to do this while they were alone.
Luke went over to her side. She was engrossed in the schematics, but she gave Luke a nod of acknowledgement. Her brother didn't miss the black lines under her eyes — her sign of not sleeping, but Luke doubts she would listen to him if he said something. Besides, he had to say his confession before he chickened out.
“I’m going to talk to Ben,” Luke announced. It got Leia to take her eyes off the files and watch Luke carefully. “Have you… spoken to him? Did he tell you why he did it?”
Leia shook her head. “He won’t talk to anyone. Not even me.”
Luke nearly jolted at how tired Leia sounded, and he didn't miss the undercurrent of emotion that went beyond exhaustion. This was something that went deep in the bones and was more emotional than physical. Luke could only understand a fraction of what that was like. “He knows, Leia. He knows the truth about me.”
Leia stood up and made his way over to Luke, until they were face to face. “He does? But we were careful.”
“That was the problem. We weren't honest with him… maybe it’s time we were honest now,” Luke said. “We have to tell him, Leia. He deserves to know, considering the circumstances.”
Leia didn't argue with him. She was probably too tired to even try. “Maybe we should’ve done this a long time ago. It would’ve saved us all this pain.”
Luke doubted that greatly, but he wasn't going to say that to Leia. He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly, blinking back the tears. It was now or never. No more hiding. “Leia, before we tell him, there is something — I need to tell you the truth. Ben’s father… he’s—”
Before Luke could finish, his head whipped to the side, his cheek throbbing from a blow to his face. He hadn't been expecting it. He was too caught up in his own emotions to see Leia clenching her fist by her side and taking the well aimed swing. It was hard and strong enough to leave Luke’s face stinging for the next few days, possibly even leave a bruise. But when he turned to Leia, he froze.
Luke was speechless at the sight of his sister. Leia was watching him with a hard stare, almost full of hate. And Luke had a feeling that the punch was something she had wanted to do for a very long time, and suddenly he realised why that might be.
“You know.” There was no point in asking.
“Yes.” Leia’s tone was sharp.
“I had my suspicions,” Leia answered, her fist still clenched. “Han was a good father, but you had to be blind if you didn’t see how much Ben was like him. I tried to ignore it and put it in the back of my mind, but they only grew. And when… when Ben went to the Dark side, I confronted Han. He told me everything.”
Dammit Han! Dead or not, Luke would have killed him for all the trouble he’s caused. But Luke put that thought away for another time. “Leia—”
Leia raised her hand to shut him up. “Don’t say you’re sorry. I’ve heard those words so many times over the past few years. I’m sick of it. I can’t stomach the sound of it,” Leia turned her back on Luke and gripped the sides of the table. She took a deep breath to control whatever emotions were coursing through her.Whatever they were, Luke had a feeling that a punch was not enough to express her true feelings. “Of all the people—”
“I know,” Luke finished for her.
“And you had his child—”
“I know,” Luke whispered.
When Leia finally looked over her shoulder to stare at Luke, the Jedi Master felt more vulnerable than he had ever felt in his life. “Did Han know Ben was his when he married me?”
Luke contemplated whether to tell her the truth, but was there any point in lying? She knew the worst of it already. So this wouldn't change anything. “Yes.”
Leia let out a humourless laugh, her eyes watering up. “Wow. That bastard. When did he know? When did you tell him?”
“I didn't tell him. He just guessed when I flew over to Naboo to ask for your help.”
“That long?” Leia dropped her head down, covering her face. “Damn, I feel like an idiot.”
Luke reached out to touch her arm, but she pulled back from him like the contact was enough to burn her. “Don’t touch me. Don’t… you don't have the right to touch me right now. I don't want your help.”
Leia’s tone wasn’t venomous or spiteful, but it was enough for Luke to feel its bite and dropped his hand. “Okay.”
Leia tok a moment to compose herself before she spoke again. “What I don't understand is why you gave Ben to me. Was it your way of trying to apologise?”
Luke had to think about that. “Possibly? I don't know. I just… It made sense at the time. Maybe my way of saying sorry?”
Leia laughed again, but the sound of it was just dead. “That’s a twisted way to say I’m sorry.”
“I know,” Luke admitted.
It was silent for a moment. Luke guessed Leia was trying to process it all. “You know, Han tried everything he could to take the blame off you. He said he took advantage, but I never wanted to listen after tat. But now I do. How did it happen? Tell me.”
Luke stared at her in shock. “Does it matter?”
“Just tell me,” Leia sighed.
Luke really didn't want to go through all this again, but he didn't have a choice. Lia had put him on the spot and he was in the wrong here. It was what she wanted. “We were high. We had no idea what were doing. I woke up the next day and ran off. I wish it never happened, and I tried to forget about it. You know the rest.”
Leia was quiet for a few moments and Luke was beginning to feel nauseous from the anxiety. Finally, Leia turned around and faced him, like she was about to go into battle. “Yeah, I do. I do know what happened. But you don't know what happened after that, do you?”
Luke didn't like the way Leia was staring at him. He gulped. “What’re you taking about?”
“You went through all that and I was the one who took the baby home,” Leia pointed out. She turned her attention back tot he table, her fingers playing with the edge of a piece of paper sticking out of the file. “I never told you this, but I had my doubts about raising Ben as our own. The first night we had him, I was a nervous wreck. I had no experience with children, and I knew you were struggling on your own after the birth. I was even believing that maybe this was all a big mistake, but after that first night, when he needed me, crying for me… I was sleep deprived, but Ben was just the perfect little baby. I fell in love right away. I was proud to call him my son.”
Leia’s voice was dripping with so much love and nostalgia at that memory, but she kept on talking. “And every time you came to visit Ben, I could still see how much you were struggling. I was even lenient on how often you visited because I felt how much it hurt you to see Ben believe that I was his mother. And when I first began to suspect… I took a little bit of satisfaction in your pain because this was my way of punishing you. And now that I know the truth, I don't feel guilty anymore about those feelings because I was able to hurt you just as much as you hurt me. I think it’s safe to say that we are even.”
“Why didn't you say anything?”
“I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe that you would betray me like that. Either of you. But even after looking like the fool, I think it’s safe to say that I came out better than the rest of you. But here’s the problem with vengeance. It has a way of biting you in the butt. When I lost Ben to the Dark side, I believed it was a punishment for my resentment. Losing him… it’s worse than dying. And it made me realise that this must have been what you were feeling all those years. You understand my pain better than anyone. So I think it’s safe to say we are even now when it comes to hurting each other.”
Trust Leia to be diplomatic about this, but Luke doesn't want that. He wants Leia to scream, break things — even break his nose, but she won’t. She just seemed too tired to fight anymore. “That doesn't excuse what I did.”
“I’m not excusing you. I’m just saying that I don't feel the need to punish you anymore. There’s a big difference in that.”
Luke nodded to himself. He guessed that maybe that was better than nothing. Of course he wasn't expecting forgiveness — anger, tears, possibly more violence, but never forgiveness. So it felt too good to be true for them to even reach this point so quickly. It didn't feel right to Luke. “You must really hate me.”
Leia sighed, more annoyed than anything else. “No I don’t, Luke. I should hate you, and I’m still so angry with what you did, but… you gave me Ben. I have loved him for years. I took care of him, I raised him, I was there for him when he had an nightmare, or was too scared of the dark. He’s my son, just as much as he is yours. I thought I lost him forever, but you did the impossible and brought him back. I don't want to keep being angry because even with what I knew at the time… when I lost both you and Ben, I did everything I could to get you both back. I missed you more than I hated you. So I might be mad at you for a while, but when I saw you again after all these years… I was so relieved that you had finally come home. When you both came home.”
“Leia, I never wanted to hurt you,” Luke pressed.
“When Han told me the truth, I did. I wanted to hurt you in the worst ways I could think of, but after everything we’ve been through… and when I saw you standing there in front of me after thirteen years of your isolation, I realised that you’ve been hurting worse than anything I could ever put you through. You lost your child too. I just… I just never realised it at the time.”
Leia was somber, then she grabbed a glass from the table and downed it in a flash. Her face twisted at the bitter taste, but her eyes fluttered open and landed on Luke, with a new found determination. “Tell him. I want you to. Just… find a way to bring him back again. That’s the only thing I’m asking of you. Bring him back before we lose him again.”
Luke nodded. He was just about to make his way to the prison cells when he heard Leia call out to him
“I want you to remember this, Luke. No matter what you tell him, I want you to remember that I will always be his mother. I might not have been perfect, but I never walked away. I never gave up on him. You did. No matter what happens today, never forget that you walked away.”
Luke didn't look back at Leia. He wasn't ready for that. With a deep breath, he carried on down the corridor and down to the cell holding Ben.
Kylo Ren was sitting against the wall, staring aimlessly at the cool metal, not even looking up when the doors audibly slammed when Luke came in. Not even when Luke’s footsteps drew closer until he was standing in front of the glass. The guards had dispersed. It was just them now. Luke almost missed Kylo — Ben. It’s Ben now — at how small he seemed, despite his tall stature, but right now he crouched over like he didn't want the world to know he existed.
Ben sensed the person there and he sighed. “Rey, I told you to stop visiting me.”
“It’s not Rey.”
Ben snapped his attention to Luke in a flash, suddenly getting up from the floor and straightening himself out. Luke didn't care whether it was a bad idea. He opened the cell door and stepped inside, letting the door close behind him.
The silence drew out between them. Luke had an idea of what he was going to say, he thought about them before he came into the cell, but now that he was here, standing in front of Ben, his mind was a blank. To his relief, or regret, Ben was the one to break the atmosphere.
“Um, I… I just wanted to say…” Ben cleared his throat, speaking up. “I just wanted to apologise to you for what I have done. I know that no amount of words or acts of redemption will ever make up for the terrible things I have done, but I did what I thought I had to do—”
Luke realised that Be must have rehearsed an entire apology speech in the confines of his cell, and he would rather listen to that another time. He cut Ben off and shook his head. “I’m not here for that.”
“Then why are you here?” Ben asked.
Luke didn't answer him. Instead, he reached into he pocket of his robe and brought out the notebook. Ben’s reaction was instant. He froze, still as a statue, staring at the notebook. “Where did you get that?”
“Does it matter?”
Ben gulped. “Did you read it?”
“Yes,” Luke admitted frankly. “Do you really think I’m your father?”
“You know that’s made up, right?” Ben tried to distract him. “It’s just a — a writing experiment. I don’t… I don't mean any of that stuff. It’s made up. Just the fantasies of a stupid little boy. I’m sorry if you got the wrong idea. I never wanted to put you in that position, and I’ll get rid of that book for you —”
“You weren't wrong.”
Ben froze at that. He looked like he wasn't sure if he heard that right and stared at Luke with a dumbstruck expression. “What?”
“You weren't wrong. You were right. You were always right,” Luke said, his stomach beginning to twist at what he had to say next. “You are my son, Ben.”
He didn't know what to expect, but the only response he got from Ben was a long pause, his face so neutral that Luke couldn't tell what was going through his mind. He was probably trying to gauge Luke’s expression, or maybe he was just stunned silent. Whatever it was, Luke’s heart was threatening to rip out of his chest from the anticipation.
“No?” Luke asked.
“No,” Ben repeated, turning his back and taking a seat on the prison bed. “No, I don't believe you. You could be saying this to make me co-operate, and I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want anymore lies.”
“This isn't a lie, Ben—”
Ben was forceful. “No! I don’t want to be lied to anymore.”
“I am telling you the truth,” Luke pleaded. “Your name is Ben Organa Solo. You were born in the Dagobah system, in my old training hut where I was trained by my Jedi Master, Yoda. You had bright blue eyes when you were born, and you used have an imaginary friend—“
“Inconsequential. Anyone could have told you that. I told you most of that.”
“But did you tell me that when I was pregnant with you that you kicked me so much that I could barely get any sleep at night? I had to sleep during the day because that was the only time you would stop kicking. And an hour after you were born I underwent a hysterectomy. I still have the scar from the operation.”
That seemed to get some reaction from Ben. He seemed genuinely surprised by the last tidbit of information, finally looking up to Luke, and he could see the conflict hidden in those brown eyes. “You could still be lying.”
“Search your feelings. You know I’m telling the truth,” Luke whispered.
His words finally seemed to get a reaction because Ben’s eyes began to water. He dropped his face in his hands, trying to hold back the tears. He lifted his head up, not even bothering to hide the relief welling up in his face. “I knew it. For years I thought… I didn’t want to think about them, but I couldn’t stop. I was so certain…”
Luke knew how certain he was. He read the notebook. He took a seat next to him on the prison bed. “When did you suspect?”
“I’m not sure when,” Ben sniffed. “The earliest I remember was when I got the Hesken Fever and you came down to visit. You made me make a promise, remember?”
Yeah, Luke remembered. He remembered the panic he felt when Ben was ill. He remembered asking Ben to keep himself safe. That obviously didn't work. “You were only five years old then.”
Ben gave a humourless laugh. “I told you I had known for years.”
“But you never said anything.”
“I couldn’t. How could I tell mom? I might have been wrong, and I didn’t want to upset her. She’s my mom. I had suspicions, but I still love mom. I wished desperately to not feel this way, but they only got worse,” Ben admitted, the guilt dripping from every syllable. “So that means my mom is my aunt, and my uncle is my father. What next? Am I related to a Gungan?”
Luke hadn't expected to laugh. “Not that I’m aware of.”
Ben gave a light smile, but he face soon grew serious. “And my… my other father. Who is he?”
Ah. Luke had been hoping to break this later, to give Ben more time to process, but he didn't have the luxury. Would it have helped make this easier if he did that? Probably not. Might as well get this over with. “Han.”
Ben shook his head. “I know Han will always be my dad, but I’m asking—”
“I know what you are asking, Ben. It’s Han.”
Ben frowned at that. He didn't seem to understand at first, but Luke slowly saw the realisation seep into his eyes. He also didn't miss the way Ben flinched away from him when he fully understood. Luke tried to hide how that hurt, but this isn't about his feelings now. “You… You and dad?”
Luke nodded. “Yes.”
“But… when?” Ben seemed to struggle with this. “You and dad were involved?”
“No. It only happened the once. We promised to never speak of it again, but then I found out I was expecting you and—”
Ben’s expression hardened. “You’re lying. It didn’t just happen the once.”
Luke has no idea how Ben figured that out, but how was he going to get pas that one? “There was one other time, but that was it. Nothing else happened.”
Ben sobbed at that and got up onto his feet. He was trying to get as far away as he could from Luke, as much as the cell would allow, which meant he crowded himself into the corner, his back to him. Luke waited for him to calm down until he was ready. “It all makes sense. Dad always talked about you a lot. When you disappeared, he tried to find you, he never stopped. I couldn't understand why he was so desperate but now… You betrayed mom…”
“No,” Luke urged. He got up onto his feet and stood by him, reaching out his hand, but not touching him. He wasn't sure if his touch was welcomed right now. “I never wanted to hurt her, or you. We didn’t mean for it to happen, it just did.”
“You had an affair! ” Ben screamed into the wall.
“I never meant for it to happen,” Luke whispered. He wasn't sure if Ben heard it or not. He never indicated that he did.
The seconds ticked by and the room was still. Luke even jumped when Ben jolted back to life and turned around to look at him in blind panic. “You have to tell her the truth. You tell mom right now. I won’t keep this a secret from her—”
“She knows already. She has for awhile.”
“She did?” Ben asked in confusion. His eyes widened and he grabbed onto his black locks. “Oh, no. She must hate me. All this time, I must have been a constant nightmare—”
Luke knew what was happening and gripped Ben’s arms to release them from his hair. Any longer, he would've pulled them from the root. “Hey, stop that. Stop it, stop it — you’’re going to hurt yourself. Stop it.”
It wasn't often Ben got himself into a panic like this, but they got ugly when they did. He had a tendency to hurt himself in the heat of things, so Luke grabbed his arms and pulled them to his chest. He dint let go of them until Ben had finally calmed down.
“How did it happen?” Ben demanded, eyes determined. “Tell me the truth. No more lies.”
“No more lies,” Luke agreed. It was time to be honest. “Me and your father had been friends for a while before your birth. We were close friends, but I had gone away to build the Academy and I bumped into him back on Tattooine. We got high and… it just happened. We didn't mean for it to get that far. I tried to forget about it and put all my attention into building the Academy, but then I discovered I was expecting you.”
“You said I was born in the Dagobah system. Why?” Ben asked.
“It was the only place I knew where we could hide my condition. I didn't have the easiest of pregnancies. If I’m being honest, you were a wriggly nightmare.”
Luke was hoping that would break some of the tension, but it fell on deaf ears. Ben was not in the mood for that. “And the hysterectomy? Did something go wrong during my birth?”
Luke cleared his throat. “No. I asked to be sterilised.”
That caught Ben’s attention. “Why?”
“I didn't want to risk anymore accidents.”
Luke didn't know how that affected Ben. He had his best poker face on for that. He nodded slowly, more to himself than at Luke. “Accident, huh? Should've expected that. It’s not like I was waiting to find out I fitted into your plans, but… it’s still a lot to take in.”
“I know. Take your time,” Luke offered.
Ben pulled his hands free from Luke’s hold. “How much did you read?”
Luke didn't need to ask what he was referring to. “All of it.”
“Great,” Ben sighed, pushing himself off the wall. “Should’ve burned that damn thing. I thought R2 would leave it alone, but that damn droid…”
The silence stretched out between them. It was the last thing Luke wanted and, it was beginning to make him nervous. “Since I’m being honest with you, I think you should be honest with me too,” “How did Snoke find you? How long had he been talking to you?”
Ben tried to distract himself from the conversation. Luke could see how uncomfortable it was making him, but he wasn't going to let it slide. “Ever since I was a little boy. I don't remember a time when I didn't hear him. He kept filling my head with things I didn't want to know. He… I told him about my suspicions about you and he used it against me for his own gain. He said I was blind to the truth and that I was idealistic. That there was a reason you didn't keep me. That you never wanted me in the first place. I tried to ignore it all, but… it was getting harder to do it. And…” Ben shrugged. “I was starting to believe it.”
Luke looked away shamefully. “Ben…You said you always wanted to prove yourself to me. Is that why you wanted to become my apprentice?”
“Yeah,” Ben admitted. “I wanted to prove that I was good enough, and that maybe… I would impress you enough to make you tell me the truth. I worked as hard as I could, tried to be the best there was, but it wasn't easy. Nex made my life hard enough.”
“What did happen to Nex? Abbott and Opal too? We never did find out what happened to them.”
“Dead. I killed them.”
Luke tried his best not to flinch. “Why?”
“Snoke. It was a… contest, to see who will be victorious. Trust me, you did not want Nex winning that battle.”
“And you think I wanted you to win?” Luke countered back.
Ben dropped his head. He knew that was the wrong thing to say. “I had to if I was going to stop him.”
“And how exactly were you going to do that? What were you thinking? Why did you think going to the Dark side was a good idea?”
“I’m going to have to start from the beginning for you to understand,” Ben took a deep breath and sat back on the bed. “When you and the Rebels destroyed the Empire, the Emperor’s hold over the galaxy fell with it, but you didn't know that the Emperor had his own apprentice.”
“Snoke?” Luke guessed.
Ben nodded. “And when he lost him, he knew enough about the Dark side to build up his own force to fight with. He was careful about it, though. He made friends in high places, used some of the Emperor’s old contacts to build up the First Order and they were planning on creating a galaxy that would do Palpatine proud. And… Snoke could sense how powerful I would become. How much potential I would wield. So he recruited me. It was the only way I could… ”
Ben drifted off, but hearing this had Luke on edge. “Could what?”
“Only way I could make sure there weren't any loose ends. Like last time,” Ben dropped his gaze to the hands in his lap. “By being his apprentice, I made sure that everything was taken care of and that everything was destroyed. If I earned his loyalty, I would know more information than anyone could ever hope for as a Resistance fighter. It… it just took longer than I thought it would.”
Luke couldn't argue with that because they did have tones of information. They even discovered things they hadn't even contemplated before. If only it wasn't at Ben’s expense. “Why didn't you tell your mother? Anyone? Why didn't you tell me?”
Ben took a deep breath again. “All these years you kept talking of the sacrifice Anakin Skywalker made to stop the Empire. How could I tell you that he failed? I couldn't do that to you. Not after everything you and mom had been through to stop them.”
“But you could’ve said—”
“No, I couldn't. Not it I was going to do this successfully,” Ben said firmly, but Luke want sure if it was to convince Luke or himself.
“Was it worth it?” Luke finally asked.
And when Ben stayed silent, Luke had his answer. He just didn't expect it to hurt when he got it. Let’s move on. “How did Rey end up on Jakku? How did she survive?”
For some reason, Ben seemed more comfortable talking about Rey than anything else. “She wasn't meant to. Snoke… he wanted everyone dead. Everyone. There were no exceptions. But Rey, when I had to… I couldn’t do it, even if I wanted to. So the day before it happened, I told her we were going on an adventure. Dad said that Jakku was a junkyard, no one would go there in a hundred years — it was the only place I could think of where she would be safe. And she was, until FN-2187 had to go and fuck it up.”
Luke frowned. “How did he do that?”
Ben’s tone was completely bitter. “All he had to do was go to Reconditioning. Everything would've been fine after that. He would've been a spy like the rest of them and Snoke would've been none the wiser. Only he had to go and destroy everything I worked for. He put everyone in danger. Everyone. It was like some cosmic joke for that TIE fighter to crash on Jakku, and I prayed that Rey wouldn't get involved. I nearly broke down when one of the goons said there was a girl with them. I just knew…”
“That doesn't explain how she doesn't remember anything. We tried looking through her memories. There was a mental block on them. Was that you?”
Ben nodded. “It was an old technique I found in one of the old Jedi bibles. It’s hardly used anymore, but it still works. I thought the less Rey knew, the better. Make her start a new life. Give her the chance of a happy life.”
“She thought her parents were alive.”
Ben finally looked up. “Could you live on Jakku without hope?”
Luke was silent. Ben had a point. Then there was something Ben said that made Luke frown. “You said everyone was meant to to die? Was I meant to be part of the dead?”
Ben nodded. “Yes.”
“But you let me live?”
“I didn’t want to kill you. That’s why I arranged the trip, to get you away.”
“Now the goodbye makes sense.” Luke figured that out a long time ago, but hearing them out loud had a weird effect on him. He wasn't sure if it was good or bad. “Snoke couldn't have been happy about that.”
Luke had only said that as a meaningless remark, but the way Ben tensed up at those words had Luke worried. Ben needed up fidgeting in his seat, and Luke instantly knew something was wrong. After a few minutes, Ben finally caved in and he turned around, back facing Luke and lifted up the hem of his shirt for Luke to see a little bit of his back. The sight made Luke recoil.
He held his breath and lifted up the shirt a bit more and the more Luke saw, the more he wanted to vomit. Ben’s back was covered in healed up scars and welts, some more recent than others, like someone had taken a knife and sliced into Ben’s back, but Luke was certain these were whip marks. All they left in their wake was dead skin and some painful nights and bruises. It almost made Luke want to cry at the sight of it.
Luke hesitantly brushed his finger tips over them and the bumps of each welt was thick under his touch. The worst thing was that Ben hardly seemed to feel it, like it was all dead sensation to him now. Luke didn't even want to think about how many whippings he’s had to bring that to numbness.
“Snoke said he was ‘understanding’ of the incident, but that didn't mean I was free from punishment,” Ben said bitterly. “That was the first whipping. I got the second from failing my first match, the third for having a bad day, and the scar on my forearm was from Nex, just because, and—”
“Stop, I—I don’t want to know.” Luke didn't realise he said that. He didn't even think about it. He pulled Ben’s shirt down. He didn't want to see the scars anymore. The longer he saw it, the more the anger rose up in him and it want going away anytime soon. “How could you do this to yourself?”
Ben pulled the rest of his shirt down. “I had to—”
“You didn't have to!” Luke shouted. “You didn't! You still could've told me! Do you have any idea what you put us all through?!”
“Don’t say that! Don’t…” Luke tried to contain his anger but it was futile. “I thought this was my fault! I thought I failed you, and it turns out I was right! ”
Ben shook his head “No, you weren’t—”
“Yes! You felt like you had to do this because of me, didn't you? Because you wanted to know the truth? You didn't need to throw your life away just to prove a theory! What was your end game, anyway? Once Snoke was dead, what were you going to do once you got out?”
Ben was silent at that, but he didn't look away. He stared at Luke, his eyes full of vulnerability and it made like realise something. “You didn't have an end game, did you?”
After a brief pause, Ben shook his head. Luke had to turn away.
“I had to stop him,” Ben said in defence.
“You were being irrespon—”
Ben gave a humourless laugh. “Oh, don’t lecture me. You did the same thing! Would your aunt and uncle be okay with you running off to face the Empire?”
“This is not about me,” Luke argued.
“Yes, it is!” Ben screamed and stood up.
“This has nothing to do with me! Don’t you try and deflect—”
“And don’t you try and pretend that this isn't something you would have done.”
“I never would’ve contemplated doing this!” Luke shouted.
“Like you even care about what would happen to me—”
Luke almost balked at that. “No, don’t you dare act like I don’t care for you.”
“Oh, that’s hilarious!” Ben giggled, but his eyes were vitriolic. “Thirty years of being an absentee father, and now you are trying to be authority figure in this situation? Come on.”
Luke didn't want to consider the irony of the situation. “I tried my best to give you a better life.”
“And that suddenly makes everything okay?” Ben asked.
“No, it doesn’t! I might not have been there, but that doesn't mean that I never stopped loving you!”
“Then why did you give me up?!”
Ben showed that at the top of his lungs and it left Luke silent. They both stared at each other, Ben panting from he sheer effort his emotions have put him through. He took a deep breath and readied himself for the question he really wanted to ask. “Why didn't you want me? Was it because of dad?”
Luke shook his head. “No.”
“Then why?” Ben asked.
Luke knew this was coming, but it still didn't take away from how hard it was going to be. He had made so many excuses and reason behind his decision, even at times when he thought they made sense to him, but when it came to telling them to the one person who deserved to hear it the most, then suddenly, Luke saw how trivial they came to in the end.
“When I became a Jedi… I understood the sacrifices I had to make. Yoda asked me to do something, and I was the only one who could do it. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a young man, a man who didn't know much about the Force and the Code. But I had a promise to keep. I was fine with the choice I made, the things I would have to give up, but when I was expecting you… it was one of the hardest things I had to get through. And… the reason I didn't keep you in the end was because I had to bring the Jedi back, and to keep my promise to Yoda. And maybe things would've been different, maybe, but… I had to stick to the Jedi Code, even if I had to make another sacrifice in the mean time.”
Ben seemed to listen to Luke carefully. He was quiet, didn't show much expression at all, and it was making Luke anxious. He wanted to know what he was thinking. He wanted to know how Ben was going to act, but he wasn't anticipating the calm and steady reaction he got from him instead. “You chose the Jedi Code over your own child?”
It was such an innocent question, but it made Luke feel so guilty. And when Luke nodded, that was when Ben broke.
Luke should've seen how much Ben was trying to hold back his emotions. He should've seen it the moment he walked into the cell, but like always, the old Master was wilfully blind. Ben had finally gotten his answer and he wasn't ready for it. His eyes began to brim over with tears and he didn't try to hold them back. He merely sat back down on the bed and covered them from Luke’s view, it every sob that caught in his chest. Luke could only stand there and watch. He didn't think he could bring any comfort to him at all in this moment.
The minutes ticked by and Ben finally took a deep breath. His eyes were red rimmed and he wiped his wet cheek. “Okay. You can leave now.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Luke stated.
“What else is there to say? You never wanted me.”
Luke kneeled in front of him to make Ben look at him. “No. That’s not true, I did want you.”
Ben shook his head. “But you said—”
“I didn't think I had a choice. Ben, I thought I wasn't allowed to keep you, but I only had a revelation recently, and I realised that I had the choice all along. I just made the wrong one.”
“What do you mean?” Ben looked utterly confused.
“I had a talk with an old friend. He made me realise that maybe all of the ideals of the Jedi were unrealistic. If the Jedi are to continue then things have to change.”
“I’ll tell you another time,” Luke didn't really want to get into that now. Not after what they had just been through. Plus, it didn't seem appropriate to talk to Ben about Obi-Wan’s secret without telling Rey first. How he was going to do that would be another story.
Luke brought his hand to wipe a tear away from Ben’s chin. “All these years, I have been trying to figure out what I missed, what I did wrong during training that made you go to the Dark side. I told you what happens when you go to the Dark side. It will forever haunt your path. Didn’t you listen?”
Ben dropped his gaze and sniffed. “I just wanted to make you proud of me.”
“I can’t be proud, Ben. I can’t. Not after what you had to do. You’ve killed millions of people. You slaughtered parents and children, destroyed planets. How can I stand here and say those things, knowing you are a murderer?”
Ben winced at the memories and insinuation, but how could he refute it? Luke could see that he was right, but then Ben got up on his feet and made his way over to the cell door. He peered out, seemingly in a daze.
“You’re right,” Ben whispered. ”You’re right. I have done despicable things. Things that even I can’t forgive for myself, even though I knew I had to do it. And maybe there is a solution to it all, a redemption, but I need to be punished — and this is what I deserve.”
Suddenly, Ben leaned down, taking something from his shoe, and Luke saw the slip of a blade hidden between the seems of his boots. Leia said that they had taken all of his weapons when they detained him. How did they miss that one? But Ben was eyeing the silver blade in his palm as he stood up, his thumb tracing the sharp edge. Luke didn't know what to expect. Maybe for Ben to attack him, fight him off until he was able to break free and escape, but he wasn't prepared for the hollow look in Ben’s eyes, or for when he extended his arm to offer the blade to Luke.
Luke’s heart almost stopped at that moment. “What?”
“Kill me?” Ben begged desperately. “Please? Uncle, I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I hurt all the time. Please do this for me, do this one last act for me…”
Luke shook his head violently, stepping away. “No. No, no way.”
Ben nodded, almost as if he was expecting it. “Okay.”
In a quick second, Ben placed the blade to his throat, ready to slice his pale skin with a chilling calmness as he watched his uncle, but Luke was just as fast. He instantly realised what Ben was planning to do and reacted before he had the chance to think.
“No!” Luke shouted, stretching his hand and the blade immediately flew into his palm.
“Give that back!” Ben screamed, jumping at Luke, but he was able to fight him off for a while, keeping the blade out of arms reach. “Uncle, give that back!”
But Luke wouldn’t. Using the Force, he threw the blade out of the cell with so much power that it ended up becoming embedded in the stone wall on the opposite side. Ben scrambled past Luke, extending his arm to try and get it back, but Luke held him back, taking his arms into his hands to restrain him, even when Ben fought back.
“I need that back! Please, I need it back. I need it back!”
“No, you don’t! No, you don’t…” Luke told him, but Ben still fought against him, struggling from within Luke’s hold and going for the blade, but Luke tightened his grip, bringing him to his chest. “Stop it! Stop it. Stop this, please… Please don’t make me lose you again…”
Soon Ben’s struggling began to cease, becoming limp in Luke’s grasp. Suddenly, he broke out into a large sob again, shaking in Luke’s arms as he cried, and Luke held him through it, refusing to let go. “I just wanted to know why. I did everything I could, I did—”
“I know,” Luke whispered into his hair.
“I murdered people.”
“I killed my dad,” Ben’s breath hitched.
“Shhh…” Luke brought his hand to Ben’s hair and cradled it.
Ben tucked his head into Luke’s shoulder to muffle his cries. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
“I’m sorry too,” Luke admitted, his voice think from the sheer need to cry with Ben.
“I must be a monster in your eyes.”
Luke shook his head. “Don’t think like that, don’t.”
“I had spent so long trying to find the truth, even if it was a fairytale I made up in my head… what do I do now?”
“Well,” Luke answered. “I know there is a young girl who desperately wants to see you, a mother who loves you unconditionally, and I will be there to help you find your way.”
“I’ll go to prison for what I’ve done. I could be executed.” Ben sounded fearful.
“No, they won’t. They have your cooperation, you helped with the cause, so they’ll be lenient. And if they do send you to prison, we’ll be waiting for you until you’re released.”
“No, you won’t—”
“I promise you I will be there. I promise.”
And Luke was certain of that. There were many things that were up in the air at the moment. Leia might hated him for a little bit, but he knew that she will help him with Ben, no matter what. He knows the next few days, many months, were not going to be easy, and there were going to be some more difficult times, but Luke was ready for them. Holding Ben again, feeling him alive and home again, Luke was ready for the hard road because he knew it was going to be easier than the one where Ben was gone forever.
No matter what happens, Ben, you will always be my son.
He had said that many years ago. He was surprised how right he was.
Luke wasn't sure how long they sat like that, but Luke didn't mind. In the end, it was what they both needed. After everything they had both been through, and after all the things they are going to go through soon, it was the one thing that kept them grounded.
“Please don’t leave yet,” Ben whispered.
“I’ll never leave you again,” Luke vowed. “That’s a promise.”
You will always be my son.
So... any good?
All grammar and spelling mistakes are my own fault.
Thank you again for sticking with this for so long. I hope you all enjoyed.
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