Of all the droids in the galaxy
The cold came with the night.
Luke had been driving the land speeder for hours. He hadn’t said many words, just kept on driving in suppressed fury, but now it was obvious that he was close to collapsing. His neckline was tensing by the effort to remain upright, and eyes were blinking, stubbornly refusing to give in to the sleep that was threatening to overwhelm him. Ben’s hand stretched out to rest over his. The boy stirred involuntarily and the speeder made a small bump.
“Perhaps it’s time to switch places for a while,” the old man suggested gently. "You could probably use a few hours sleep.”
“I can go on. I’m not tired.” Luke insisted stubbornly. “You just go ahead and get some sleep first. We can change when you wake up.” He tried to suppress a shiver when the night chill sneaked in under his tunic.
Ben smiled at the boy’s obstinacy. How familiar it felt! But instead of a smart retort, as he once would have done, he kept his voice mild and patted the hand squeezing the control stick.
“You take my advice, Luke, and get some sleep. I’ll drive meanwhile. You know, at my age one doesn’t need that much sleep.”
Those big eyes turned towards him. Blue eyes, so much alike. As open, as vulnerable and wondering. No. There was a difference. Luke’s eyes were just that; wondering. There was a mildness, a softness in them that Anakin had never had. Ben swallowed a lump and wondered whether it was a trait that would benefit the child or the contrary; bring him to his doom.
There was no way knowing it yet.
He patted the young hand again. “Get some sleep, Luke,” he repeated. “Even your cyborg droid is deactivated.”
Luke sighed in exasperation and rolled his eyes. There was that anger again that wanted out. But then the boy suddenly yielded. Obi-Wan found himself wondering again whether it was a weakness or a strength.
“All right,” Luke muttered grumpily. “If you say so. But wake me in a couple of hours, ok?”
The speeder stopped and they changed places. Luke brought his poncho up around him and stretched his legs out in front of him. In less than a minute he was asleep.
Ben smiled gently at the form at his side. The rest would do the boy good. Far too little had he been allowed to experience through his first nineteen years, but now instead, too many foul things had happened at once. He placed his hand on Luke’s temple and reached out for the Force. “Peaceful sleep,” he whispered. “Peaceful sleep.”
A shiver went through the young body, but he was already too far in his sleep to wake up.
A beep made the old man turn around. The R2 unit was watching him with its mechanic photoreceptors, and a cold shiver went through Kenobi. He had begun to suspect it almost the moment they met, but it seemed so unbelievable. Of all the droids in the galaxy, could it really be…?
He cleared his throat. “Artoo?”
A soft beep. Unmistakably affirmative. That is, if droid communication could be unmistakable in the first place. But this very droid, Kenobi reminded himself, had always been different. Anakin had always treated it almost like a living creature. “It’s astonishing!” he murmured. “And to think that your memory is intact after all these years.”
Again an affirmative beep.
Ben smiled softly. ”And of all the droids it happened to be you who would be chosen for this mission. And you would end up with him! The ways of the Force are truly wonderful! Are you happy that Luke is your new master now?”
This time it wasn’t just an affirmative beep but also a long happy thrill.
“Should I understand it that you downright like him?”
Eager beeping and whistling. And a question.
“Yes. I like him too. Very much.” Kenobi swallowed hard. “But we have to take good care of him Artoo. Take really good care of him…”
He hesitated. It seemed ridiculous to open his heart to a machine. But this machine was one of the chosen few in the galaxy who knew… “The future is always difficult to see. And, now it seems more dark and clouded than ever. But, there is light ahead, too. And, much of that light, Artoo, is coming from this boy.”
Ben pressed his palms together and leaned his head against them. “I don’t know, but, I have a feeling that I might not be here long enough to guide Luke as he should be guided. I will do everything I can but…”
A thought crossed his mind. “Perhaps you can help me Artoo? If you stand by him, as faithfully as you stood by his father? Show him your confidence… I’ve noticed that he shows you the same affection as Anakin did. Maybe it’s natural for a Skywalker. And that softness and kindness, I can’t but understand it as a good thing, Artoo. Take care of him for me if something happens, will you?”
Ben could feel something burning in the corner of his eyes. He blinked the tears away in surprise. After so many years alone, and so much time spent in the Force - in only a few hours this boy had ripped him back into all the feelings and torments of life again. And into all that sweetness that follows too. He already loved this child. Not only because he was a child of Anakin, his best friend, his brother. But also because the boy had the same unspoiled immediateness around him.
Kenobi wasn’t blind for the fact that there was much anger in Luke. Like it had been in his father. A life under Tatooine’s burning suns was hard and ruthlessly sorted the weak out. But there was no bitterness in this boy, only impatience and temper. In some ways he seemed as pure hearted as the droid by his side.
Ben closed his eyes. “You probably wonder,” he whispered, “why I didn’t tell him the truth when he asked. Perhaps I should have. But truth is often too dangerous a thing to be handled lightly. How would he have reacted? He will learn about it when he grows a little bit more mature. Just a little bit! I’d wish for him to hear the good stories about his father first, you see. The lies his uncle has told him, would be the absolutely worst background for the truth. But, if he could learn the true and good stories first? They are out there, in the galaxy. Luke won’t have to be there for long before they start streaming to him.
"The encounter with Bail Organa will be a good thing. It will make a deep impression on him. I want him to bath in all that warmth, and when all the good things he hears about his father have had time to settle, then he will be ready. I will know when he’ll be ready.”
A questioning whistle.
“I guess you ask about her? Phew!” The old man made a helpless gesture. “It’s a chapter of its own isn’t it? I don’t think Luke is ready for that secret either. I don’t even know whether she knows. But she has been brought up as a princess. You heard her. ‘My father,’ she said about Bail Organa. I can’t believe but that the old fox has kept the cards close to himself. Maybe she doesn’t even know she has a brother? And what will she say when Luke blows in? He’s not really what’ I’d call ‘presentable’ yet… Maybe it would be a good thing for them to learn to know each other first? Or perhaps that would be the mistake?” Ben went silent in bewilderment.
A long stream of soft fluting and chirping soothed his ears. The old Jedi smiled a little. He sighed and shook his head in resignation. “You know, Artoo, I’ve never been that good to understand what you’re saying.”
“Is that all right?”
“Don’t you think it will all work out in the end?”
“Our destiny lies with the Force. We must put our confidence in that.”
Ben smiled again. He wasn’t alone anymore. Not quite, at least.
He took a deep breath and started the speeder again. If all went well, they would reach Mos Eisly soon after daybreak.
© 2008 Kataja