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let me tell you a ghost story

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“Ahsoka.  Ahsoka. Hey, Snips, wake up!”

Ahsoka groaned sleepily and buried her face in her pillow.  Unfortunately, it had no effect. Force ghosts, it would seem, did not really speak so much as they projected their words directly into the mind.  Unfortunately, this meant that, short of cutting herself off from the Force, there was really no way to block Anakin out.  Reluctantly, she rolled over and squinted up blearily at her former master. He was leaning impatiently over her bed, his translucent form glowing brightly blue in the dark room.

“It’s the middle of the night,” she groaned.

It had taken several weeks for Anakin to work up the courage to speak to her.  After weeks of anticipation, he had finally just appeared one day while she was eating dinner, looking not a day older than the day she had walked away from him.  Ahsoka nearly choked on her roba pie. (Fortunately, Sabine had been in the cockpit at the time, so no one would ever know that her instinctive reaction had been to throw a spoon through her master’s head.  It had, of course, bounced harmlessly off the wall behind him, but that really didn’t contribute to the air of wise mystique she was trying to cultivate.) While she was still coughing and gasping for breath, he quickly fumbled out what was possibly the first apology she had ever heard him utter.  In any other circumstances, she might have even been proud of him.

After that, though, Anakin seemed to get over his initial shame of falling to the Dark Side and trying to kill her pretty quickly.  In fact, if he hadn’t been dead, she might have thought he could stand to be just a little more repentant.  He certainly seemed to have no conception of how jarring it was to have someone who had tried to kill you the last time they were alive suddenly start popping up indiscriminately over your shoulder to criticize your flying.  (“It’s Skywalker, isn’t it?” Sabine asked, eyes narrowing at the empty air over Ahsoka’s left montral.  Ahsoka nodded tightly, her knuckles white on the yoke. “He just. Won’t. Stop. Complaining.”)

Whatever limited restraint Anakin had possessed in life had clearly all but vanished in death.  This midnight wake up call was was proof enough of that.

“What is it this time, Anakin?”  Ahsoka had discovered pretty quickly that ignoring him only made things worse.

“Where’s your holoprojector?” he demanded, fluttering his glowing hands in front of her eyes.

Really ?  You woke me up at”—she glanced over at the small timepiece embedded in the wall—“Oh-two-hundred just so you could browse the holonet?”

“Well, I’d just do it myself, but I haven’t gotten the hang of using the Force yet.  Yoda says it’s possible, but I’m pretty sure he’s just trolling me…”

“Alright, alright,” Ahsoka groaned, propping herself up on her elbows.  “I’ll go get it, just give me a second.” The thought of Anakin gaining the ability to manipulate the Force was terrifying enough to shock her into wakefulness.  Still nestled in the warmth of blankets, Ahsoka reached out to retrieve the datapad from her nightstand drawer.  Anakin hovered eagerly as she logged in and flicked on the holoprojector.  He was unusually excited, even by Anakin-standards. Ahsoka wondered what could have had gotten him so worked up.

“Okay, so what did you want me to look up?” she asked.  Anakin dutifully recited a netpoint address. As she keyed it in, Ahsoka grew even more curious.  Where had Anakin even heard of a page called ‘Heroes of the Rebellion’?  She was fairly certain that it hadn’t been in an existence when he was alive.  She had to bite back a snort at the mental image of Anakin invisibly spying on strangers’ holonet histories.

As the page began to load, Ahsoka’s brows shot up past her montrals.  “Is that...Luke?” she choked.

Anakin beamed.  “Isn’t he handsome?”  He crowded close to her on the bed, leaning forward to get a better look at the hologram.  His shoulder passed through her outstretched arm. “Oh, now scroll down! There’s pictures of Leia, too!  There’s one where she’s seventeen and giving a speech in front of the Senate and she looks so much like her mother...”

Oh, Anakin, she thought sadly, not prepared for the sudden surge of pity that shot through her at Anakin’s boyish enthusiasm.  Her annoyance vanished, replaced by something much more painful and tender.

‘Heroes of the Rebellion,’ it turned out, was a fanpage devoted to Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa.  There were hundreds of images of the twins. Some of them were press holos taken by journalists in the wake of the Rebel victory, but others seemed to be snapped by paparazzi or cribbed from security footage.  There were old Imperial wanted posters next to official portraits of the Alderaanian royal family. Someone had even managed to unearth an old school holo of Luke from Tatooine. He couldn’t have been older than ten, smiling brightly at the camera, cheeks pink and hair bleached so blond it was almost white.

Anakin stared lovingly at each holo in turn.  He had a proud comment for every image: “Look at his flying!”  “She’s so well-spoken!” “Can you believe that she was only eight ?  And people said I was a genius!” “He only started using the Force five years ago!” and so forth.

Ahsoka found her attention shifting from the holos to focus on Anakin instead.  In the darkness, he looked almost like a hologram himself. Here, curled up on Ahsoka’s narrow bed, fingers outstretched towards an image of Luke and Leia—together this time, their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders—he almost almost seemed like part of the projection, a family reunited.

Ahsoka had long since abandoned thoughts of ‘what-might-have-been,’ but at this moment, she felt an acute sense of longing for something that never was and never would be.

She ghosted a hand through Anakin’s shoulder.  “Ready to look at the next one?” she asked. He nodded.  

With a fond smile, Ahsoka swiped forward, listening to Anakin gush about his children until the cabin lights slowly came to life, signalling the start of the ship’s day.