The endless push-ups are hard enough, Luke thinks, without Yoda sitting cross-legged on his back, noodling tunelessly on his pan flute. The Jedi master might be little, but he’s also surprisingly dense. Which is the point—Dagobah’s gravity is slightly but significantly lower than most planets of its size, which means that Luke needs a little extra weight to even challenge himself. Yoda, as always, is happy to oblige, in his eccentric way.
Luke never expected this much exercise to be part of his Jedi training, but the idea is to exhaust his body to improve his focus. There’s not much of a schedule, training with Yoda on a planet that barely sees the sun. But, more often that not, Luke spends the morning exercising and the afternoon meditating.
Luke grunts on his latest push-up—he’s lost count—and lowers himself to the swampy ground on shaking arms. Yoda sounds one last tinny note on his flute, and then climbs off him. Luke looks up at Yoda to see if he thinks he’s sufficiently exerted himself.
Yoda makes a determined little nod, and Luke gets to his feet, brushing dirt and vegetation off of his arms. “Time for tea,” Yoda grunts.
Which means time for Luke to try and figure out which herbs in what passes for Yoda’s pantry count as tea. But, eventually, they’re seated in Yoda’s hut, with two steaming mismatched mugs of what Luke has aspirationally deemed “Dagobah tea.”
Tea, Yoda tells him, used to be an important Jedi ritual—not a ritual specific to the Jedi, but nonetheless considered a civilized and necessary part of any Jedi’s day. Yoda doesn’t talk much about his past, of the Jedi Temple where he must have trained Obi-Wan. Luke senses, without needing to use the Force, that its loss must be too painful for him to share, even at a remove of Luke’s entire lifetime.
So, instead of letting Yoda reflect on what he’s lost, Luke tells Yoda stories about his friends. Yoda may teach against attachment—he gets testy when Luke gets too worked up about how wonderful Leia is—but he does enjoy hearing secondhand stories, especially about Han. Yoda would like Han, Luke thinks, and Han would like Yoda, too, despite himself.
Luke flings his arms wide, almost spilling his half-empty tea. “And then Chewbacca came charging in—”
“Chewbacca?” Yoda interrupts. “Chewbacca the Wookiee?” Yoda’s eyes widen with delight when Luke nods. “I know Chewbacca! I know him well!”
Luke is so startled and delighted that he laughs. “You’re friends with Chewbacca?” Luke grins, imagining Yoda riding around on Chewbacca’s shoulders.
“More than,” Yoda says, shimmying a little.
The image in Luke’s head changes. He tries to swallow and spit out his mouthful of tea at the same time, and manages to get most of it back into the mug. “What.”
“A long time ago, it was. A general, was I, and he a very handsome young Wookiee. It was war time. Any more obvious, could I make it?”
“You could,” Luke says, afraid he will.
“Have a thing going, we do.” Yoda winks at him, and somehow that alone is much worse than the time he caught Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru going at it in the kitchen.
“But… Chewie’s a Wookiee and you’re a…” Luke gestures to Yoda. “A whatever!”
Yoda makes a very disgruntled noise. “How rude you are! And uncreative besides.”
Luke thanks the Force that Han and Leia aren’t around to hear Yoda take a crack at his sexual imagination. He’d never live it down. He’d have to go live the rest of his life on a desert planet in exile just from the shame. Maybe that’s what happened to Obi-Wan. “But Master, I thought you said Jedi were forbidden from attachment.”
Yoda drains his tea and slams the crude little mug on the nearest flat surface. He straightens up to his inconsiderable height and stabs his stick into the air, nearly hitting Luke in the face. Luke shuffles back as much as he can. Confident he has Luke’s full attention, Yoda sets his stick down and rests his little hands on it.
“Love and attachment—these things are not the same,” Yoda lectures. “Nowhere is it written that a Jedi should not love. A Jedi must love! Compassionate and open to the many gifts of the universe, wherever they may come from, whatever form they may take, a Jedi must be. Attachment leads to possession, possession leads to envy—these things are the thieves of compassion, the thieves of love. Love cannot be owned, Luke. We can only share in it and celebrate it while it is upon us.”
Luke blinks. “That’s… that’s beautiful, Master Yoda.” He cups his mug of tea in both his hands. “I’m sorry for being so rude. You just surprised me, is all.”
“Your apology, I accept,” Yoda says, nodding sagely. And then he winks at Luke again, making his skin crawl. “In any case, a thing for bears, I have.”
Luke bolts to his feet, almost cracking his head against the ceiling of the hut again. “You know, I don’t think I did enough push-ups earlier. I’m going to go see how many I can do until I throw up.”
Yoda’s pursuing cackle could probably raise the whole swamp.
“I just hope Luke’s alright,” Leia says. She, Han, and Chewie are hiding out in the Falcon’s central hold—they’ve bumped into a sleepy, mechanized Imperial checkpoint, which can be easily evaded by making the trusty ship look like an abandoned freighter. (“That shouldn’t be hard,” she’d told Han, and Han had made that scrunched up face she likes so much. It’s why she antagonizes him.) Chewie is engrossed in a Dejarik simulation, Han is sitting across from him, and Leia is perched on top of Han.
Han tenses underneath her (“How can you think of Luke at a time like this?”, she can almost hear him thinking), but he says, instead, rubbing her back, “Luke’ll be fine. The kid always lands on his feet, doesn’t he? He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”
“I suppose,” Leia sighs.
“Though I tell you, sometimes he can say some pretty weird stuff. When he’s unconscious.”
Leia rests her head on Han’s shoulder. “Like what?”
“Like when I had to slice open that tauntaun,” Han says, proudly. Leia rolls her eyes. Han acts like it’s such a heroic story. She certainly appreciates—and she knows Luke appreciates—the lengths he went to to keep Luke alive, but does she have to hear all the gory details every time? “He was muttering about Obi-Wan and Dagobahs and…” Han snaps his fingers. “Yoda.”
Chewie looks up from his heated game of Dejarik and roars. Leia gets better at Shryiiwook every day, but it’s a challenging language for anyone, let alone humans.
“You know Yoda?” Han asks. Chewie nods and barks a little before grinning a pleased, lecherous grin and making an obscene gesture with his hands that can be universally understood.
Leia bursts out laughing, delighted at the idea of Chewie having some cute little friend with benefits out in the galaxy. Han, however, does not laugh. Instead, he goes white as a sheet. “Chewie!” he chokes out. “What about Maz?”
Chewie shrugs and gargles.
“What do you mean, she likes to watch?”
Leia claps her hands over her mouth to keep from waking up the checkpoint with her laughter.