Obi-Wan finished the last lilting notes of the lullaby as he gently laid the blond-haired sleepy baby down in the crib. Luke made a few worried noises, but Obi-Wan left a hand in the crib, letting Luke hold his thumb, as he kept humming, infusing his voice with reassurance. He brushed peace against Luke's bright Force-presence, and waited until he was asleep. Then Obi-Wan quietly made his way out of Luke's room and back into the homestead's central kitchen.
"How is he?" Beru asked, setting her datapad down and looking up attentively.
"Asleep, now." Obi-Wan inclined his head. "We've begun the basics of laying down a better shield for him. He'll be safe while he sleeps. I will need to come back tomorrow to reinforce it. When things like this are done quickly, they are not gentle." Obi-Wan made a face. "I would rather be gentle."
"Of course," Owen said, "Just grateful you were willing to come. Beru and I had no idea how to handle things." He gave a rueful glance out the window, and Obi-Wan remembered the scene he had driven up to, Owen trying to comfort a tantruming Luke from inside the house, while in the courtyard, baby Luke was wailing his lungs out, a very dangerous tornado of loose objects flying around him.
"Of course I was willing to come. It would be churlish not to." Obi-Wan rubbed the back of his head. Particularly considering it was his fault they were raising a Force-sensitive child in the first place.
"Well, it is a long way," Owen said, as if that would excuse leaving Owen and Beru alone to deal with something they were utterly unequipped to handle.
Beru's brow furrowed. "If you need to work with Luke tomorrow, of course you're staying here tonight."
"It, ah, may be several days." Obi-Wan fidgeted, folding his hands, then refolding them again as he looked toward the door. "I wouldn't want to impose."
"You're not driving back and forth from here to the wastes for the next several days." Beru sounded emphatic. "We have a guest room. No point in having one if we're not going to use it."
Obi-Wan inclined his head. He hoped he seemed reserved but dignified. The truth was, after a year-and-a-half of no company but himself, he found he had lost much of the art of polite conversation. It was easier when Luke was awake. Luke demanded his focus. Owen and Beru…
Obi-Wan had been good at this, once. Talking to people.
A moment's awkward silence fell in the room, before Beru said brightly, "Well, if you're staying, we should have a trade."
Owen nodded. "We've got some of that fancy rotgut. Seems a good reason to break it out." Owen disappeared back toward the kitchen.
Obi-Wan arched an eyebrow at Beru.
She understood his silent question, standing up from the table and beckoning him over to their couches. "It's a…call it a tradition. Custom. When you're a guest, especially the first few times you stay with a person, it's customary to trade—well, stories. Bits of news, things you might have heard, something interesting that happened. It's how we turn strangers into people we know. And a way to pass on information."
"It's also an excuse to break out the good booze." Owen smiled as he re-entered with a bottle and three glasses. "I mean, it's probably not all that exciting to your taste, but it's a big deal here."
"I'm sure it'll be excellent," Obi-Wan said as he took the glass, then blinked as he looked at the bottle. "Is that Chandrillian Highlands Whiskey? How on earth did that find its way to Tatooine?"
"Oh!" Beru kicked her legs up on the couch as Owen settled on it, nudging his thigh with her toes. "You should offer him the story of how you got the bottle."
Owen nodded as he handed her a glass, then filled up everyone's with a generous helping of the whiskey. Settling the bottle on the low table between the couches, he sat back on the couch, swirling his glass contemplatively. "Right. Where does that one start? I was…" he thought for a long moment, "going to the Tosche Station market. I parked a little ways outside of the square, and while I was walking in, I found a rock."
"A rock?" Obi-Wan said, unable to help his sarcasm. "On this planet? However did you manage that?"
"I know," Owen graced him with a wry smile. "Wait 'til you hear why I picked it up—Beru has a rock collection."
Beru laughed at Obi-Wan's skeptical glance. "There's a certain joy in celebrating what's around you," she said, sounding defensive. "And besides, some of them are pretty."
Obi-Wan tipped his glass to her, still skeptical, but willing to concede the point.
"Anyway," Owen said gruffly, dragging the attention back to him. "This one had some interesting blue colors running through it. I knew Beru would like it, so I picked it up. But while I was heading into the market, there was an offworlder trying to shift these"—Owen gestured with his hands, making a shape about the size of the small sand burrowers that skittered around Obi-Wan's cave—"strange metal animal figurines."
"What kind of animal was it?" Beru asked. "I never did ask you that."
Owen shrugged. "Nothing native to Tatooine. I'm the wrong person to ask. The figure had little lines that were supposed to be fur? It's ears were…" Owen made little rounded gestures along his head, wriggling his nose in a distinctly rodent-like gesture.
Obi-Wan laughed, surprised by the levity from Luke's normally serious uncle. Owen dropped his hands and gave a sly, satisfied smile in Obi-Wan's direction. Who knew? There was an actor's heart hiding in the man.
Obi-Wan was quietly surprised at himself, as well. It had been a long time since he'd just enjoyed another person's company this much. He felt a wistful pang at the knowledge that soon he'd be leaving to once more watch from a distance.
Owen continued, "In any case, it was a thing I had no use for, but the merchant was insistent, and just to get him off me I pulled the rock out of my pocket and did my best backward hick impression, 'Oh golly, that's a real fine piece of work, but all I've got in trade is my moonstruck stone, it's not a bad rock though, sir, the shape is lucky.' And he bought it! He made the trade!"
"So you traded a rock you picked up on the side of the road for an undetermined animal statue of metallic make that you had no need for," Obi-Wan said, wondering where the story was going, but interested despite himself.
"Right." Owen raised his eyebrows conspiratorially. "So, I still didn't want the...thing. But, I figured I could take it down to the metalsmith, at least get scrap value for it. More than I'd get for the rock."
"Gets me a nice rock and just gives it away." Beru clucked at him, affectionate smile on her face.
"I figured you'd like money more."
Beru made a show of considering. "Maybe."
"Anyway. Metalsmith was going to give me handful of credits, but I saw the look in his eyes—it was good quality stuff. I bargained him up, traded the critter and the name of the merchant selling them cheap in exchange for a decent set of necklace and earrings."
"So how did that turn into off-world whiskey?" Obi-Wan still felt the word off-world stick in his throat. He was the stranger here. He'd spent more time on Corellia than he had on Tatooine.
"Well, I was actually going to try to turn them into fresh bantha steaks. I know the butcher has an eye for glint like that. But the butcher was out of steaks. I was right though, she wanted the jewelry, and she's not much of a drinker. So I made the trade."
"So he brought you home hard liquor instead of a necklace. How much trouble was he in?" Obi-Wan asked with a slight smile.
"Oh, none at all. He knows me." Beru winked.
Obi-Wan raised his glass in toast. "Quite the tale."
"Not bad for a rock." Owen raised his own glass.
"You know, I was once known as the Negotiator. Clearly, I might need to give up the title. This bottle would go for…" Obi-Wan reached for the bottle, turning it over in his hands. "Two hundred, three hundred credits on Coruscant."
Owen and Beru gave delighted laughs. "No kidding," Owen said. "Maybe I should have hung onto it, tried to trade it again. Could have ended up with a landspeeder by the time I was done."
"I wouldn't doubt it," Obi-Wan gave them both a smile. "Well, I think I see how this goes. Let me see." Obi-Wan took a slow sip of the whiskey, savoring the slide down his throat, before settling it back on the table. "Ah, I know a good, thematically appropriate tale. Let me tell you about the time a youngling's power breaking loose directly lead to the creation of a new children's holoprogram."
"Oooh," Beru settled a little further into the couch, toasting him. "This should be good."
Obi-Wan smiled at the picture they made, her sprawled on the couch, bare feet up in Owen's lap. Owen had his hands on her feet and his thumb traced in absent-minded circles around the knob of Beru's ankle. They made a good pair, and Obi-Wan was happy with a fierceness that ached, that they would be the people raising the soft-haired baby he had fallen in love with during the long trip to Tatooine.
And if his story could give them some insight into the unique challenges of Force-sensitive children, so much the better.
"All Jedi Masters were expected to spend some time with the younglings. These are…potential Jedi. Under the age of thirteen, but strong in the Force. They're trained in control from the time they come to us, so generally, there are no issues." Obi-Wan gave a significant pause. "Generally."
Owen snorted. "Dangerous word, right there."
Obi-Wan gave a knowing nod. "One time, shortly after my padawan was knighted, the council decided I had some extra time on my hands and asked me to oversee the creche. A few days into my stay, I had the most peculiar dream. A figure, moving with a strange undulating hop, came up to me. It was about the size of a bantha, but shaped like a blob. It was furry, all green fuzz, with some strips of blue. It showed up, and told me I was strong, that I needed to be careful, that I needed to ensure my actions wouldn't harm people on accident."
"Not bad advice," Beru cut in.
"Not at all. Which made it even more surreal. If it had informed me that jojji berries were delicious and that I needed to bake twenty pies, it would have made…at least a sort of dream-sense. The wise furry blob was harder to shake off, or blame on an intemperate amount of alcohol."
"So Jedi do drink," Owen said.
Obi-Wan lifted his glass, and arched an eyebrow.
"Well, yes." Owen inclined his head. "But it occurred to me abound mid-way through my story that I might have been rude. Or that you were just being polite."
"We didn't drink often," Obi-Wan said, swirling the glass. "Not until we had sufficient control that—" Obi-Wan cut himself off, shaking his head. "Complicated stuff. But suffice to say, uncontrollable telepathic powers are not pleasant, for you or your target."
Beru wrinkled her nose. "I'd imagine not."
"No danger of that tonight," Obi-Wan reassured her.
Beru gave him a dismissive hand wave. "Of course not. We trust you. Now we're being rude, interrupting your offer. Please, go on."
We trust you. The words hit Obi-Wan with a force that surprised him, a surge of joy mixed with sorrow mixed with regret roiling inside him. With control borne of long practice, he tamped it back down again. It bore examining, but not now. Now, he was telling a story.
"Where were we? Yes. The image stayed with me, but I still had work to do, so I put it to the side and went to lead morning lessons. You can imagine my surprise when a nine-year-old very seriously asked me if I could tell him if something was a vision, because last night a big green blob had told him to work hard and do well."
"Oooh, the plot thickens," Beru said, giving him an appealing smile.
Obi-Wan winked at her. "Indeed. And more than that, once he had said that, another child, and another, and another, confessed that they had the same dream. And since I had it too...we needed to take action. I brought it to the Senior Jedi council. And it turned out..." he trailed off, raising his eyebrows.
"They had the same dream." Owen said.
Obi-Wan toasted him. "And so, it turned out, did the non-Jedi staff that worked at the temple. And so did the people in the surrounding buildings."
"Oh dear," Beru murmured.
Obi-Wan nodded. "Ultimately, over half a million souls that we know of were graced by the mental image of a benign blue-green blob telling them to try hard and do their best. Including a children's holovid producer, who took the idea and ran with it."
Beru made a noise that was somewhere between an astonished gasp and a delighted giggle. Owen's face scrunched up with amusement. Obi-Wan felt something pleased and warm in his chest, that he had been able to get a reaction.
"We eventually traced it back to a youngling named Tiva—a little Duros girl we all thought was fairly quiet. It turns out she had a very active imagination, and an unprecedented ability to broadcast thoughts. She was—"
Lying on the ground, one too-small body crumpled amidst other too-small bodies. And by that time, Obi-Wan's dread was mounting. There was only one person who could have done this, but no, Anakin couldn't have, he wouldn't have, he loved children, he—
Obi-Wan lifted a hand to his face, alarmed to feel moisture on his cheeks.
"Ben?" Beru asked, swinging her legs off of Owen's lap and sitting upright in concern.
"It's fine." Obi-Wan took the emotional surge and pressed it down again, tamping back the fear and terror. This wasn't the time, or the place. But Tiva's ghost refused to be put to rest so easily, and a howling grief clawed at his chest, trying to find its way out.
Beru's hand brushed his knee, and the kindness was too much. Everything he had locked away from the moment he had seen Anakin igniting his lightsaber on the holovid came tumbling out. Obi-Wan buried his head in his hands and sobbed.
Distantly, he was aware of warm hands on his elbows, of being pulled up out of the chair and settled on the couch. Beru tucked him in against her neck, her chin along the crown of his hair, while Owen's warm, strong hands rubbed along his back. Obi-Wan was mortified, but he couldn't stop crying, he couldn't because—
Because they were all gone. Tiva and Mattheus and K'lin and—
Gone, gone, and Luke and Leia were the only children left. Anakin's fault, Anakin's fault, but Anakin had been Obi-Wan's responsibility he should have known, he should have—
His sobs came harder, and the arms around him stayed strong. He had no idea how long he wept, only aware that gradually his frantic breaths slowed, the grief became less violent, and the overwhelming sorrow became manageable again. Obi-Wan grabbed at it and fought to wrestle it back under control.
"I'm sorry," he said, taking one last breath before trying to push back, "I had no intention of—"
"No," Beru said, her hand against the back of his head keeping him pressed against her neck.
"None of that," Owen added, his broad hands still rubbing circles between Obi-Wan's shoulders.
Obi-Wan gave up fighting and let himself be held.
Beru's fingers relaxed, reaching up to play with his hair. "You haven't grieved it before, have you? Whatever sorrow brought you here? You have to. Otherwise it's like a cancer."
Obi-Wan took a shaking breath. "There's been too much grief. If I let myself feel it, I'd be lost to it."
"Not lost yet," Owen said. "We'll make sure you stay with us. Sorrow shared is sorrow halved."
Obi-Wan shivered, pressing against the warmth. He hadn't realized how much he'd missed touch until he lost it.
"We're here," Beru said. "We've got you."
Obi-Wan slowly, haltingly, started to share. About Anakin and how Obi-Wan had trained him, about Qui-Gon and how Obi-Wan had lost him. About how he had believed in the Jedi and the Republic. How he had loved them all, and watched them all die. He talked and he grieved and he was never left alone. Eventually he fell silent again, feeling raw and exposed, but more at peace than he'd been in years.
Beru and Owen still held him. It was warm and comfortable, and Obi-Wan, still trembling with emotion, let himself stay. He lost track of time, and gradually, it all went soft and dark.
Some time later Obi-Wan woke up to find them both gently shepherding him off to bed. "I'm sorry," he tried to apologize.
Owen clucked his tongue in disapproval and Beru shushed him. "It's an honor to be gifted such a meaningful story. Don't go cheapening it now."
Obi-Wan was tired and confused enough that he didn't realize he wasn't in the guest room until Owen and Beru crawled into bed with him, bracketing him on either side.
"I certainly didn't intend to—"
"Shush," Owen said, reaching out and running his fingers along the top of Obi-Wan's arm. "We're not leaving you alone."
Obi-Wan woke the next morning to find he was still surrounded by warm bodies. Owen and Beru were speaking softly over him, and for a moment, Obi-Wan felt totally content with the world. Everything was comfortable; he was safe. It only lasted a moment, then the memory of where he was and how he had come to be there crept in. Obi-Wan stiffened.
"He's awake," Beru said gently. A warm hand brushed his shoulder before she continued, "Sorry, did we wake you?"
"Ah," Obi-Wan shook his head. "No, I don't think..." He was a negotiator, stars take him, or at least he had been. He should be able to handle a moment like this without choking on his own tongue. "Thank you for your hospitality," he finally said, stiffly.
At his back, Beru burst out laughing, and in front of him Owen gave a series of choked chortles. Obi-Wan sighed. "This is awkward," he admitted in defeat.
"This is going to be as strange as you make it," Owen said, squeezing Obi-Wan's shoulder before starting to move to leave the bed. "Wasn't an evening any of us planned, but we're not regretting it either. Universe is a hard place, take comfort where you can find it."
Obi-Wan could see the sense in that.
"You'll see to Luke today?" Beru asked. "We're a bit behind with all the fuss he caused, so Owen and I would benefit from being able to go out together."
Obi-Wan nodded, deciding to follow their lead. No need to make a big deal over something that wasn't. Focus on the logistics. "I'll take care of him."
Being left with a toddler that was still doing his level best to throw the universe around with his mind shouldn't have been relaxing. And yet, there was such joy to working with Luke. He was so strong, so cheerful, so obviously secure in the universe. This was a child that knew he was loved, who looked at the world like it was a game and one he was lucky enough to play.
Obi-Wan felt pangs of grief throughout the day, the memories of the children he hadn't saved haunting him a little more closely than usual. But at the same time, he was in no danger of being lost to them. They were moving into the past—tragedies, and ones worthy of mourning, but not ones that threatened to overtake his present. He could focus on Luke, this bright-eyed ball of destructive joy, and on teaching him how to have the beginnings of control.
Owen and Beru came back as the sun was setting. They came through the door laughing, Owen doing his best to help Beru shake sand out of her hair. Luke caught sight of them and cooed in delight, toddling his way over to them. Owen untangled his fingers from Beru's hair and swept the boy up, spinning him around as Luke shriek-giggled.
"Were you good for Uncle Ben?" Owen asked, bouncing Luke on his hip.
"He was wonderful," Obi-Wan answered truthfully, mentally stepping around the complicated surge of feelings that came with the nickname.
"Good," Beru cooed, pinching Luke's nose.
Obi-Wan smiled, watching the trio. He knew he had made the right choice, bringing Luke here. Luke was being raised by good people, and Obi-Wan had no doubt he would grow up beloved and loving.
"You mind taking him while we use the 'fresher and make dinner?" Owen asked, a slightly sheepish grin on his face. "I should warn you that by desert standards, I'm taking shameless advantage of a guest, at this point."
"Nonsense," Obi-Wan said, and reached out his hands for Luke. To his surprise, Luke gave a happy coo and tipped over toward Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan gathered Luke gently up next to him, kissing the boy's golden hair. "He's a joy."
"You're good with him," Owen said, something considering on his face. He nodded, then followed Beru back to their bedroom.
Dinner was lovely, and Beru and Owen let Obi-Wan put Luke to sleep again. Obi-Wan hummed a soft lullaby as he stroked Luke's hair, carefully reinforcing the shield he had built throughout the day. It would hold through the night, at least. With one last gentle mental nudge, Obi-Wan left the room, straightening his robes as he went.
"Oh, no," he said, when he reached the central area to find that damned bottle of whisky out again. "I think yesterday was quiet maudlin enough. I'll be going home this evening."
"Drink, don't drink, up to you," Owen said, gesturing to the chair. "But if you think we're letting you run out of here because you showed one honest emotion, you've got another thing coming."
"Besides," Beru said, also waving him down, "I haven't had the chance to tell you my tale yet, and it would be rude for you to leave before I do."
"Rude, hm?" Obi-Wan said, trying to infuse skepticism into the words.
"Unbearably so," Beru said seriously, a bright twinkle in her eye. "Come on, sit."
Obi-Wan sat. He didn't drink.
"I thought of a good one," Beru said cheerfully. "This is the story of how my dad courted my ma, and how the whole thing was much more complicated than it needed to be."
"I'm intrigued," Obi-Wan said, inclining his head. "Please, do go on."
"So, everyone knows that on Tatooine, the best fur for weaving comes from the lowland bantha. Saltflats stock, and it doesn't thrive well anywhere else. It's soft, and it can be woven fine, good for delicate work. Now, ma wasn't much of a weaver, but she did come from a herding family. Upland herders, though, so the wool was coarser. Ma was a good seamstress, and she was desperate for a chance to work with cloth that fine."
"Your father knew this, I take it?"
"Shh," Beru said, drawing a finger to her lips. "Don't get ahead of the tale."
Obi-Wan made a contrite gesture.
"Anyway, one fine morning, ma goes outside and finds a box on our porch. She opens it up, and what's inside? Lowland bantha fur, woven tight and fine. An entire byweights worth."
Obi-Wan furrowed his brow, trying to remember conversion rates….
"Probably about a hundred credit's worth," Owen cut in. "Price varies based on region, but it's far more than should have been left out on a porch."
"And ma had no idea where it came from. Which was a bit of a problem. Gifts...it's hard to explain, but there's a lot of unofficial baggage that comes with a gift, here. Who gives it, what they give it for, what's expected in return. Suffice to say that someone could get into a lot of problems, accepting something that expensive from the wrong person."
Obi-Wan thought about the halls of power he had so often been adjacent to. Thought about the complicated system bartering between the senators, how he always had to be that little bit more wary whenever one of them wanted to take him to dinner or lunch. "I'm familiar with the idea. No doubt there are different rules but...same concept, I think."
Beru gave a short approving nod. "Good. Then you can understand why it caused a fuss. She wanted the cloth, wanted to work with it, but without knowing who it came from she didn't feel safe doing so. So she put it somewhere safe...and next week there was another bundle."
"Which couldn't have been good for her peace of mind."
"Oh believe me it was not." Beru shook her head. "She started asking around, quietly. Who had connections at the saltflats? Was someone wanting some seamstress work done? Was it intended for someone else? She didn't get much in return. And then the next week…"
"Another bundle?" Obi-Wan asked.
Beru pointed at him. "And by that point, ma was done. She went and bought a new storage bin, installed it right by the door outside. And then she grabbed me. 'Beru,' she said, 'tomorrow night you're going to—'"
"Oh!" Obi-Wan couldn't help his startled reaction. "You were alive? I thought…"
Beru and Owen wore matching small smiles.
Obi-Wan shook his head. "Apologies, I didn't mean to insinuate, I simply assumed…of course your parents would reach whatever arrangement was best for them."
Beru inclined her head. "Different customs, you know. He wasn't my biological father. I was about five at the time."
"Yes, of course," Obi-Wan gestured. "I'm being rude, please, go on."
Beru inclined her head. "Well, I hid out, and sure enough, Dad came by again. I jumped out of the storage shed and grabbed his wrist, and yelled for Ma. Now, in retrospect, Ma probably didn't want her five-year-old confronting a grown man."
Owen smiled over at her with bright fondness, "You've never been one to stay still when you could be doing something."
"Ma was so embarrassed when she came out—Dad was from a lowlands herding family, and he had made his interest known months ago. Ma had just forgotten." Beru shook her head. "She was very sweet, but a little flighty. Dad always said that courting Papa was much easier, he just had to offer to take over the weaving and Papa was sold."
Obi-Wan paused, slowly parsing through the last few sentences. "I…may have misunderstood something rather important."
Owne snorted. "Almost like we're telling you the story for a reason, hm? Now, Beru's family was a herding family, and they tend to be more wild than most. You had three moms?"
Beru tipped her head to the side. "Just two for most of my life. Reeshi married in when I was fourteen. That was a little too old to really have new parental feelings. And for fathers, it's always been Dad and Pops."
Obi-Wan looked from Owen to Beru, and in light of this new information, this little chat took on a certain significance. It was mad to think it, but he didn't have any other explanation, so Obi-Wan folded his hands in front of him and said quietly, "You don't know me."
Beru didn't hesitate before answering, "I think we know you pretty well. You're the sort of man who would give up his life to watch over a child in the desert."
"A child you gave us," Owen added, "so don't go arguing that you don't know us, either. You trusted us enough to give us a baby."
Obi-Wan cleared his throat. "The circumstances were...somewhat unique."
"They still are," Beru said gently. "Owen and I always figured that if we brought someone else in they'd probably be…what? A herder looking to landshare with the moisture farm?"
"Maybe a homesteading sort, so you could travel more for the contract negotiations," Owen shook his head, looking back over at Obi-Wan. "Our plans before weren't important. This is a new situation. We've been talking, and this feels right."
Obi-Wan ducked his head, swallowing hard. He couldn't…just last night they had the chance to see exactly how broken he was. They knew his part in the galaxy's destruction. If they had any sort of sense they'd be doing their level best to chase him away from their home and their bright, brilliant son. His laced together fingers clung to each other tighter, until the knuckles went white with tension.
Owen's hands reached forward, surrounding Obi-Wan's. He cleared his throat, and when Obi-Wan looked up, Owen gave him a gentle smile. "We're not asking you to wed us. Not yet. But we are asking you to stay."
"It's practical," Beru added. "You'd be a help around here. It's hard to run a farm with one hand taken up by a child—and who knows what sort of power this baby is going to have. We've already needed you once."
Obi-Wan caught her kind gaze, and he could feel the despair kicking up behind his teeth. "I'm not in the best shape. You saw that last night."
Beru reached over, laying her hand over Owen's. She squeezed all their hands together. "You're grieving. We understand that. It doesn't mean you have to be alone."
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, and took a deep, slow breath. He opened himself up to the Force, reaching out, trying to find…something. Maybe guidance, though listening had never been his strong point. Maybe judgement, that he was even considering some path that brought him happiness.
But he found neither guidance nor judgement. Only a warm, contented glow that whispered this is a good place. There was a sense of the connectedness of all things, and Obi-Wan could feel the bond between Beru and Owen, the ties that reached for the sleeping Luke, and the connections that sank deep into the place that made it a home.
And those same connections reached for Obi-Wan. They meant what they said. He was welcome. They already thought of this place as his home.
Obi-Wan couldn't bring himself to believe it. He didn't have a home anymore.
But that didn't mean he never would again. He opened his eyes. "I'll stay."
Owen clapped his hands around Obi-Wan's. "Good."
Obi-Wan glared at the both of them. "But none of this marriage nonsense. I'll be in the guest room."
Six Months Later
Luke was fighting sleep, having too much fun to want to go to bed. He had learned a new trick, pushing back against the shielding in Obi-Wan's mind, excited little bursts of joy and emotion. It was an astounding level of telepathic ability for someone who was still pre-speech.
It was also very frustrating around bedtime. Obi-Wan pushed back with peace, with calm, with reassurance there there would be time to play tomorrow. Luke wasn't old enough yet to really have a concept of time, but he still burbled happily, trusting the promise that had been made, even if he didn't understand it.
Eventually, as the sun sank and the evening relief from the heat came rolling in, Luke's breathing slowed and he gradually drifted off. Obi-Wan stayed a little longer, before getting up and heading back down to the common room.
It had been a good day. Beru had judged that his pickling was coming along nicely, and that she almost trusted him to take over the cheesemaking. She was protective of her cultures and wasn't about to turn them over before he was ready. Between taking on more of the homesteading responsibilities and taking care of Luke, Obi-Wan almost felt useful.
He missed the grand corridors of power less than he had expected. There was something to be said for work that had tangible benefits.
He might even be happy, as alarming as that concept was.
Obi-Wan rounded the corner into the common room, and chuckled when he saw the bottle of Chandrillian Whisky that had started this whole mess out on the table again. "Is it time for more stories?" he asked, as he walked up to the table.
Owen shook his head as he looked up at Obi-Wan. "Nah. Alcohol's used in other customs too."
"Oh, really?" Obi-Wan asked, coming to stand next to Owen's chair. "Like what?"
"Well," Beru said, emerging from the kitchen with three glasses, "we've decided we want our guest room back, so we're planning on seducing you."
Obi-Wan smiled. From the moment Luke had started tantruming, dragging Obi-Wan back through the doors of the Lars homestead, his feet had been set on a path leading straight to this moment. There had been plenty of chances to turn aside, to choose a different path. He hadn't taken any of them. He wasn't going to take them now.
He took the glass she offered him, and then the other two glasses as well, settling them all on the table behind him. He turned back to Beru, taking her face between his hands. "You're sure?"
Beru smiled at him. "I've been sure since that first night you sang Luke to sleep. Handsome man with a voice sweet as honey who can put my baby to bed? I was never going to let you go again."
Obi-Wan smiled, and kissed her. He turned to Owen next, who was watching them with an undeniably pleased expression on his face. "I really thought you'd put up more of a fuss."
Obi-Wan reached down and cradled Owen's cheek. "I was listening during your tale, my dear." He enjoyed the way Owen shivered at the nickname. "I know how persuasive you can be."
Owen laughed, and pulled Obi-Wan down into his lap, kissing him with enthusiasm. Beru came up behind, running her fingers through Obi-Wan's hair and Obi-Wan groaned against Owen's lips.
"Take me to bed," he ordered when he and Owen separated. "This time for a happier occasion."
They traded kisses in a stumbling tangle until Beru made it through the door, pulling Obi-Wan in by his collar and pushing him down on the bed. Owen crawled up his other side and nuzzled against his neck. Obi-Wan relaxed into the feeling of being surrounded by love, in a place of love.
His family. His home.