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What You Are (the Certain Point of View Remix)

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Obi-Wan knows why the Force has brought him out to the desert this night, away from the safety of his hovel. (It's not his home. His home is dead and gone, a very long time ago, although a Jedi shouldn't feel loss.) Luke has escaped his bounds. A small boy outside of the house at night by himself is terribly vulnerable, if there are any Sand People about; the fence won't hold them long. But they won't attack if they see Obi-Wan. They fear lightsabers, for reasons Obi-Wan mostly chooses not to think about.

"You're up late," he says, when Luke notices him. The desert has taken its toll, he notices; once, he was a diplomat and a negotiator and his voice was smooth and practiced. (But that was a very, very long time ago.)

"I wanted to look at the stars," Luke says. "I like them."

Anakin used to go out stargazing, sometimes; he wanted to go see every one of them. Luke doesn't look much like Anakin, except with physical eyes, the most easily deceived of the senses. In the Force, he is less powerful but clearer, without the shadows that made Anakin such a challenge. (Perhaps Obi-Wan is projecting his knowledge of Anakin's fate into his memories of the boy he first met. He's spent so much time meditating on the past that he's not quite sure, any more.) "Sometimes I come out and watch them," Obi-Wan says. "They're very clear, here."

The stars look far clearer in the Tatooine desert than they did from Coruscant, less so than they are from space. In his exile Obi-Wan watches the stars because he can't sleep, not because he wants to. He knows too much about what's going on among those seeming-innocent points of light. He knows how little he can do about it. Jedi don't crave power, but he has had to learn just how hard it is to be powerless. (Perhaps he understands Anakin better now.)

***

Padmé goes out to her ship by herself while Anakin is gone to find his mother. Owen doesn't like it; he fears the Sand People. But Padmé is armed, and once in the ship she seals it, and is safe. It's so much cooler, in here, and she wonders how anyone can stand to live in a place this hot without a cooling system.

She hates waiting, and she doesn't like how Cliegg and Owen and Beru watch her, like she's something out of a fairytale. She isn't; she may be a queen and a senator but she worked hard to get there, and she's good at her job, a strong voice for integrity and justice in a complacent government bogged down in its own waste. (But she feels like she's knee-deep and sinking fast—she can't do her job from the Outer Rim. She needs to be back where the action is, and if rescuing Anakin's mother is the right thing to do, it's not what she needs to be doing right now.)

She works on some files, background reading for upcoming votes and debates, making notes for what speeches to make, which senators to cultivate, which bureaucrats to network with. Even if she can't be on Coruscant right now doing her job, she can be extra prepared for when she comes back. Surely, Jar-Jar can't mess things up too badly while she's gone.

Jar-Jar is only there because he's a war hero, and with her there as the main Senator from Naboo, he's mostly ceremonial. It was part of the peace talks, after the Trade Federation was thrown out: joint representation in the Galactic Senate, not pretending that Humans were the only sentient beings on the planet. But with Jar-Jar in that role, everyone (even the Gungans) knows it's only ceremonial. It's a way of keeping the status quo while pretending not to, and a perversion of her treaty, but almost all the old guard of the Naboo elite supported it, from Palpatine to Sio Bibble on down, and Padmé accepted it because frankly, she had bigger problems to worry about, and even she's had to learn that politics is the art of the possible. Now she thinks she should have fought more on this issue, because Jar-Jar is on Coruscant and she isn't, she's not even in communication with him, and he's not good at following instructions and he's not good at thinking for himself, either. (And Padmé hates, hates that she only regrets it for political reasons, not because it's wrong.)

When she looks up from her work, it's night and the stars have come out. Padmé misses them, on Coruscant; there's too much light pollution. She's rarely on a planet's surface where they can be seen with time to just watch them. But she can't go out here and stretch out on the sand, because it's too dangerous, so she'll just have to make do with craning her neck to see through the bridge windows.

The stars are so beautiful. But Padmé is used to beauty in all its forms, and it can't make up for the fact that her duty is to be out there, among them, making a difference. You can't run away from a fight; you have to face it. You can change the world, but only if you do it on your own terms, and between them the Jedi and Palpatine have her running away to hide when she should be leading. She's risked her life to save her people before; now, 'her people' means the galaxy, a wider reach than just one species on one planet. They're standing at a crossroads, and they need a leader to keep them on the right path, and it obviously won't be Palpatine, and no one else is stepping forward, so it must be her. But she can't do it if she's not there, and for all their beauty, the stars look like nothing so much as a reproach: why are you stargazing instead of doing what must be done?

(Padmé hopes that wherever he is, Anakin is doing better tonight under these stars than she is.)

***

There's no one to tell Anakin to come in out of the cold, and no reason to; Watto is making Mom work late again, and the slave quarters are safe enough. No one cares enough about a slave to pay the fines for hurting one. (Anakin likes that, because it means he has a lot more freedom to roam than his few free friends.)

He lies on his back, on the roof of their little hovel. (Mom would tell him to come down if she was here, but he likes it.) The stars are one of two beautiful things in his life. The other is his mother, who is the prettiest mother in the whole galaxy, even if she laughs when he says it and tells him that all boys think so. It's still true even if she'd be prettier if she wasn't so sad all the time.

Anakin likes to imagine a life different from the one he knows. No sweat or sand or slaves. He knows it must be out there, somewhere; he's heard enough people talk about it. He tries to count the stars, and can't; there are too many. Kitster says the stars make him feel small. They don't make Anakin feel small. They make him feel like there's work to be done: a mission, something bigger than Watto's shop. (Anakin's not afraid of work. He's worked all his life. He doesn't want to stop working, he just wants something worth doing.)

Someday, Anakin knows, he'll be looking at those stars from among them. He's going to travel, he's going to make things right. (But he'll come back here to free all his friends, of course. What good is it to be able to make things right if you can't use your power to help the people you love?)