That Which RemainsAuthor :
jedinemoRating and disclaimer :
Rated PG-13. The Star Wars Universe belongs to George Lucas and Lucasfilm Ltd, and I have gained nothing but satisfaction from this fanfic.Summary :
A sequel to Come With Me
. It's been two years since Vader destroyed Palpatine at Endor and helped the Alliance reforge the Republic, but swapping allegiences has not made his path any easier. Author's note:
I know it's long; it just didn't want to be split up. Chapter Eight
Anakin flew the shuttle as close to the ground as he dared. Every once in a while the collision sensors on the tips of its trailing wings squalled in protest, and he would raise the ship's altitude slightly. He was troubled by how far he'd come without seeing anything that seemed worthy of Obi-Wan's attention, not unless his former master had become a geologist in his old age. Several times natural obstacles caused him to deviate from the coordinates he'd taken outside the lightsaber created window at the hut. He resumed the correct course as quickly as he could, but now he wondered if he had missed something important in those small detours.
He wasn't sure why he'd become so concerned about finding the answer to this puzzle. At first it had been just a matter of curiosity, and an excuse to escape the quiet routine of life at the remote dwelling. And even though he was thoroughly enjoying the sensation of the ship coursing over the contours of the land, he realized that at some point this flight had ceased to be a joyride. Even though it should make no difference at all, he had
to know what it was that been so important to Obi-Wan.
Ahead the terrain was transitioning into a flat expanse of sand. It made no sense to continue further, as anything he would encounter now would be invisible from the hut, what with the towering rock formations of the Jundland Wastes standing in between. He nosed the shuttle upward before reversing direction, and from the higher elevation he caught sight of a familiar opening in the sands, kept company by its domed entrance. Had he really come this far?
He hit the throttle and made a pass over the underground dwelling, just to make sure it was what he thought it was. Still disbelieving, he set the shuttle down on the side of his original approach and took another reading. The vector coordinates matched exactly those he had taken at the hut. There was no question that the little window in Obi-Wan's bedroom pointed directly to the Lars homestead.
Inside the helmet his lip curled in a sneer, and he gripped the arms of the pilot's seat. Obi-Wan must have been quite pleased with himself, stealing the boy away and bringing him here. He must have carefully planned how he would turn Luke against his own father. How he would train the boy to use the Force and a lightsaber, and one day send him to complete the task at which Obi-Wan had failed. Oh, yes, every night Obi-Wan had kept guard over his young protege'.
His anger billowed inside him and he punched the button to lower the shuttle ramp, unable to stay still any longer. He walked out of the ship and towards the dwelling, surrounded by a fog of hate. It was a miracle that Luke had ever come to his side. He pictured Obi-Wan in the courtyard of the homestead, teaching Luke his first katas. At the dinner table, seeding lies as skillfully as Palpatine. Next to Luke in a speeder, flying across the wilds and creating a bond of influence.
He crossed into the shade of the entrance, trying to remember every detail Luke had shared. He paused, because he could think of nothing that matched the treacheries he'd imagined. Luke had said that growing up he rarely saw Obi-Wan, and that Ben, as Luke knew him, had been not a mentor, but an eccentric neighbor. Anakin descended the long staircase and entered the room he had identified as his son's, the crumpled skyhopper model sitting on the shelf where he'd set it weeks earlier. Surrounded by the remnants of his son's childhood, he realized the truth was nothing like the images he'd invented. Despite sharing only an occasional word with the boy, Obi-Wan had still ended every day by looking out the window and watching over Luke.
It was an act of devotion. Of love. He leaned up against the wall, his fury draining from him. So, after the fall of the Jedi, the Great Obi-Wan Kenobi had succumbed to the sin of attachment. He smiled with satisfaction. His old master hadn't been perfect, after all, at least when no one was looking. But something about the situation made no sense at all. If Luke was almost a stranger to Obi-Wan, why would he have loved him?
For a moment, the sound of his own heartbeat drowned out even the noise of the ventilator. There was but one answer. Obi-Wan would have loved Luke not for Luke, but because of who the boy's father was. Because Obi-Wan had loved him
. His vision glazed, and he raised his head, unable to wipe his eyes. He tried blinking back the tears, but they fell anyway, and he tasted them on his lips. Obi-Wan had told him those very words, but he had never believed him. How could
he believe him, when his old master had crippled him and then left him alone to suffer and die?
Burned into his mind more permanently than some of the injuries to his body was the memory of Obi-Wan walking away without a backwards glance. After that, he knew Obi-Wan felt nothing for him, no matter what had passed between them. But now, with Obi-Wan's feelings exposed in his devotion to Luke, he wondered if Obi-Wan had turned away because he couldn't bear to kill him.
He shook his head. It was almost too much to comprehend. All along, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi with no flaw, had given in to attachment? Every time Obi-Wan had lectured him about his feelings, it was not because his master looked down on him for having them, but because he understood?
It seemed unbelievable, but at the same time, undeniable. The way that Obi-wan had dealt with Qui-Gon's death was not exactly letting things pass into the Force. And the whiskey bottles strewn down the side of the ravine said that nothing had changed twenty years later, except that, he now suspected, those bottles were for him.Maybe Obi-Wan could help us.
He had dismissed her idea immediately because it was so ridiculous. In his mind, the words of disapproval had rolled off his master's tongue accompanied by the stern shake of his head. But what if she had been right? What if there had been something, anything, that his closest friend could have done to help her? With all of his Force vision, why was it his curse to always see the truth too late? He stumbled out of Luke's room into the courtyard. He'd carried this hate for so long, he felt disoriented without it. All the things he'd done because he didn't understand. Because he told himself he had no other choice. Suddenly he wanted to talk to Obi-Wan, to know what could have been, but he'd destroyed that possibility years ago.
"I'll always be with you, Anakin."
He whipped around, but there was no one there. A voice in his imagination, or the wind. He was completely alone, and he couldn't stand to be anymore. He climbed the staircase and stared out at the empty sands. The headstones were no longer there, but the direction he had taken to dig the grave was imprinted in his mind. He walked as though in a trance, dropping to his knees where it seemed right.
"I'm sorry, Mom," he whispered. Faces flashed through his mind, their expressions similar as his lightsaber cut them down. All except the younglings, who hadn't known what was coming. He thought of how selflessly his mother had let him follow his dream of becoming a Jedi, and he was suddenly more ashamed than he had ever been. "I'm so sorry. Tell me how to make it right."
He imagined her face, and her palm warm and soft against his cheek. She always knew what to say to make him feel better. But this time, even in his fantasy, she had no answer.
Luke had to laugh at the change in his fortune. A few weeks ago when he'd brought the BlueSaber
into the Coruscant docks, he'd been taken straight to an interrogation room. But today, when Executor
assumed orbit over Coruscant, he had been selected to be in the first group going planetside, and been greeted by the Chief of State's Special Guard. He'd suspected something was up when Admiral Torren instructed him to put on a dress uniform, but he never expected to be escorted directly to Marest's office.
As they entered the foyer to the Chief of State's office, the Special Guard peeled aside, leaving him facing the great double doors that protected Marest's sanctum. He gazed for a moment out the expansive windows, noting how high up they were in the Coruscant sky. Then the doors slid apart, and the Chief of State came towards him, smiling broadly.
"Captain Skywalker," Marest said, extending his hand, "Admiral Torren says it was your ingenuity that saved this mission. I have to say, that was a bold move, impersonating your father."
He shook the Chief of State's hand. "Thank you, sir. Unusual problems call for unusual solutions."
"Well, come in, come in," Marest said, gesturing towards his office. "There's something I need to discuss with you."
He nodded curtly and followed the Chief of State past the double doors. Inside the office, Marest offered him a chair before taking his own seat behind the massive desk. Luke sat down, resting his elbows atop the arms of the chair, then decided that looked too cocky, and brought them down to his sides instead. He still had no idea what this was all about.
Marest continued to smile. "So, Captain, how was it that you were able to get Admiral Daala to lead her fleet out of the Maw so easily?"
He shrugged. "I used a technique that my father favors. I played on her fears."
"I see," the Chief of State said, pursing his lips. "But the part that I'm not understanding is where you obtained your knowledge. She is barely mentioned in the Imperial database."
He hesitated before answering. The question was an echo of the ones Republic Intelligence had thrown at him. "My father told me that Tarkin maintained a secret relationship with someone at the Maw. From her responses, I guessed it was her."
Marest nodded. "And you were right. As was Supreme Commander Piett about the importance of retaking that installation. The funny thing is, the Supreme Commander says he was also working on information given to him by your father."
He felt himself tense. This wasn't sounding good.
"In fact, the Supreme Commander said he was completely unaware of the Maw, despite his former position as an admiral in the Imperial Navy," Marest continued. "Preliminary analysis of the files we seized from Admiral Daala's computer show that the Suncrusher
would have been even more powerful than the Death Stars. Without your father's assistance, the Republic would have been in great danger."
They were just now seeing that? He struggled to keep a straight face. "As always, we're glad to be of service, sir."
Marest must have caught something in Luke's expression, because the Chief of State raised an eyebrow. "I can see how you might find some irony in this situation. By the way, have you heard from your father?"
"No," he said warily.
"That's too bad.The Republic may have been a little hasty in terminating its relationship with him," Marest said. "These last few weeks have demonstrated how valuable his knowledge is to the Republic."
Luke leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "I'd have to agree."
The Chief of State smile only deepened. "Yes, and while the Integrity Act prohibits him from holding an official position in the Republic, there is nothing that says we can't hire him as a private citizen. As a consultant."
This conversation had just gone from odd to surreal."You want to offer him a job?"
"Yes. He could function as an advisor to the Combined Forces and to me in areas where he might have specialized knowledge," Marest said. He pushed a data disc across the desk . "All the details are in here. Scope of responsibility, confidentiality agreements, compensation, and so forth."
"I take it you want me to present this to him."
Marest nodded. "And since you haven't heard from him, consider this an official assignment to find him."
"It may take awhile," he said, leaning forward to take the disc. "The Galaxy's a big place."
"You have all the time you need," Marest said. "We'll just require you to make weekly reports. Do you think he will accept?"
"I don't know," he said. He remembered their last conversation on board the BlueSaber
, and how strongly his father wanted him to continue his career in the Combined Forces. "Maybe. I think the military life is all he knows."
The hallway was library quiet. Leia's footsteps disappeared into the deep cushion of the carpet, and only the slight rustle of her clothing disturbed the silence. Behind her lay the media holocams and the reporters clamoring for a quote outside New Alderaan's Capitol. In front of her was Prime Minister Cosara's office, and her future. But here in the hallway it was as though time had stopped. She was still a senator. Her office still awaited her on Coruscant. The people of New Alderaan were still her responsibility. As long as she stayed in this hallway, everything was still the same.
But then the hallway ended, casting her out into the waiting room of the Prime Minister's office. Even now she could turn around, invent an explanation of why she'd broken her appointment, and everything would still be the same. But then the executive assistant acknowledged her, and sent a message through on the comm. The doors slid open to admit her, but all she saw was doors closing on the past. She couldn't go back now.
"Senator Organa, good to see you," the Prime Minister said with a smile, walking around his desk to greet her. "Are you here to do some last minute campaigning?"
The warmth of his greeting surprised her, and she felt bewildered for a moment. Her powers of oration failed, and all she could manage was, "No."
"I thought you should know the latest poll results," Cosara said. "It appears that the recall will fail."
Temptation reached out to her. Don't tell him what you really came to say. Make something up, and everything can stay the same.
A part of her wanted to do just that, and reassume the familiar cloak of senator. But even as she pleaded with herself, she knew things had already changed. And the support he was showing her now wasn't real, it was a product of the polls.
She tamped down her fears and spoke from her heart. "It doesn't matter what the polls say. I'm resigning."
The shuttle's repulsors were still throwing sand into the air as Anakin strode down the ramp towards the entrance to the hut. Waving the door open, he proceeded straight to the cellar, where the unopened bottle of Johrian whiskey awaited him. He carried it back upstairs to the kitchen and dusted it off with a rag. He had no idea whether this was a liquor that got better or worse with age, but he was about to find out. He grabbed a sweetberry nutrient drink from the shelf and pulled its tabs so that he could empty it into the ground outside the hut. Wasting liquid was an offense in the desert, but right now he didn't care.
Returning to the kitchen, he cracked the seal on the whiskey and careful poured some into the small openings of the now empty nutrient container. He grimaced at its glowing green color; it didn't look like something that was meant to be ingested. His first swig on the tubing system did nothing to change that opinion. He stifled a cough, and swallowed hard to get the liquid down. The second swig was easier since he knew what to expect, and he wandered outside towards the co-pilot's seat.
The suns were low enough in the sky that the hut shaded the seat, and he sat down, looking out across the valley floor. The whiskey's warmth was spreading through his body, and he closed his eyes, the pain in his heart still sharp. There was
nothing he could do to absolve himself. Because of him the old Order was gone forever, and defeating Palpatine and restoring the Republic had done nothing to erase his crimes. He lowered his head. Neither did denying Luke his rightful heritage. The boy had the courage of the survivors of the Purge, the ones he'd hunted down one by one, who never gave up the Light.
He pulled hard on the nutrient tubes, and swallowed a great mouthful of whiskey. Those survivors had looked at the impossible odds of restoring the Order, and ignored them, dying as Jedi instead of remaining hidden. They had believed
in the Order, just as Luke believed now. But here he sat, too paralyzed by the monumental size of the task to even start it. He wondered when he had become such a coward.
He reached down and unclipped his lightsaber. Sleek and smooth, it resembled more the ones he'd built in his youth than the ones he'd carried as Vader. Luke was right, why had
he built a new one? Because he believed in the Order? No, because there were still some days when the word Jedi
tumbled off his tongue with a bitter taste. He thumbed the saber to life and gazed into its pure blue light. But he wanted to believe.
More than that, he wanted his old feelings back, the ones he'd felt when the Team was recognized throughout the Galaxy. When the sight of the robes evoked a sense of safety in the public. When giving up everything he knew was worth it, because becoming a Jedi was that important. Yes, the Council had frustrated him, but he'd still been proud to be a Jedi. A flood of nostalgia came over him, and he realized those feelings were still alive, just withered underneath the forest of doubt Palpatine had planted in his mind.
He thought of Obi-Wan watching over Luke day after day, and this time he felt gratitude instead of anger. He was humbled by the knowledge that their friendship had survived not only time, but his own terrible acts. A peace he hadn't known in a lifetime filled him, and he recognized this was
what he wanted, to know the brotherhood of the Jedi again, not to live the rest of his life under the influence of Palpatine's poison. The humming blade of the saber disappeared into the hilt as he shut it down. It was time to stop hiding from himself, and from Luke. He couldn't change that he'd destroyed the Order's past, but he could help it survive the future.
Luke had no idea which one of them was the elder, but Leia's confidence and sense of authority always made him feel like her little brother. So on those rare occasions like this one when she sought his advice, he savored being the big brother for once. He continued folding his clothes into his travel case as she paced the length of the apartment's guest bedroom, and recounted her experience in the Orange District. In one fluid move she pulled an imaginary blaster from a non-existant purse and whirled about, fingers clasped together and pointing dead ahead. She dropped her shooter's stance and looked at him expectantly.
"See, you are strong in the Force," he said, smiling. "I was much further along in my studies before I had any sort of Force vision."
She grinned and dipped her head. "So, you'll lend me the book?"
"Sure, you can look at it," he said with a shrug. "But I can't recommend it as a do-it-yourself course. I used it only because I had no other choice."
She threw her hands up. "But how else will I learn?"
"You know," he said, tilting his head at her.
She frowned deeply. "It would be much simpler to study on my own."
"Simpler, yes. Better, no," he said. "On Dagobah, Yoda gave me not only information, but structure and guidance. He pushed me when I was ready to give up, and demonstrated things I thought were impossible."
"Well, then you could teach me," she said cheerfully.
He set the shirt he was holding back on the bed. "It's not that I don't want to, but there's holes in my education, too. The book is filled with references that I don't understand. Being a Jedi is more than learning a bag of tricks. It's about tradition and ritual and philosophy."
She looked at him dubiously. "Anakin never struck me as the philosophical type."
"True," he conceded, "but he's the last person living to have been trained in the old Order. It's an opportunity that can't be duplicated. You should give him a chance."
"I'll think about it," she said. "Right now I have to go clean out my office. Funny, you resign, and they want you out of there."
He crossed the room and put a hand on her shoulder. "You feel okay about that, resigning I mean?"
"Yes, I do," she said, and she sounded convincing. "Are you going to be here when I get back?"
He shook his head. "I'm almost done packing."
"Where will you go first?"
"Good question. I guess I'll have to decide by the time I fire up the X-wing."
She kissed him on the cheek. "Be careful."
"I'll be fine," he said, giving her a hug. "I'm proud of you, you know."
Leia slid out of his arms and headed towards the front of the apartment, and after a few minutes he heard the front door open and close. He stuffed the last of his clothes into the case and snapped the lid shut. He really didn't know where he was going to start. There'd been no news, no reports, no contact through the Force. Nothing. He sighed and grabbed the case by its handle, sliding it across the bed.
As he turned towards the door, he caught sight of a shimmering blue shape, and in his mind he felt a familiar presence. "Ben! I haven't seen you in awhile."
"You've been with your father," Ben said with a wry smile. "I didn't think he'd appreciate me dropping in all the time."
He returned the smile. "Well, not lately I haven't. He took off a few weeks ago, and now I have to find him."
"I know. He's been staying at my old home."
"At your place? That's hard to believe," he said. "So you've talked to him?"
"Not exactly. I don't think he's ready for that," Ben said. "But you should hurry. He needs you."
The stone hut appeared unchanged from when Luke had been here three years ago. Except for the lambda
shuttle parked outside. As Luke approached the dwelling, he caught sight of the figure in black seated in a tall chair alongside the exterior wall. Just as Ben had said, his father was here. At least it sort of looked like his father. The flowing cloak was gone, as was a good deal of the durasteel armor, and the fingers wrapped around the armrests were completely exposed. And in the Force, though the presence was immediately identifiable, it was at the same time different
Even though the crunch of his boots on the sand announced him, his father failed to acknowledge him. They hadn't seen each other in weeks, but his father was acting as if nothing had happened. Luke stood next to him, waiting for a response.
The black figure never stirred. "You didn't scratch my ship, did you? There's not much room over there."
," he said, amazed. He'd hurried all the way from Coruscant for this?
"And I'm glad to see you, too."
The helmet continued to face out towards the valley floor. "How did you find me?"
"Ben told me," he said, staring at his father's chair. There was something familiar about it.
"Hmmm," his father said, nodding.That
response was far less dramatic than what he'd expected. He was beginning to wonder if his father was suffering from heatstroke. He looked again at the black synthleather seat. "Is that the pilot's seat from the shuttle?"
"Co-pilot's seat," his father said. "I have had to make some modifications to the interior."
"I promised them you'd bring it back," he said, frowning.
His father shrugged. "I'll pay for it."
"A shuttle? You're going to pay them for a whole ship?"
The black helmet finally turned towards him. "Didn't I tell you, son? I have credits. Lots
This conversation was threatening to top the one he'd had with Marest for oddness. He noticed a tall bottle resting alongside the chair, and when he reached for his father's mind, he found it...fuzzy. He squinted at the mask. "Are you drunk?"
"No," his father said indignantly. "I am relaxed
. You should relax as well. Sit here with me."
He examined the patch of ground next to his father for crawling things and then sat down, leaning up against the wall of the hut. For a few minutes the only sound was the rhythmic ebb and flow of the ventilator, and he closed his eyes, reminded of how peaceful it was out here.
"Did Obi-Wan send you?"
He cracked one eye open and glanced at his father. He knew mentioning Ben had to have generated some sort of reaction. "No. Actually I'm here on official business."
"The Republic sent you?"
"Yes," he said. His father was looking at him now, but he didn't return the gaze. "They've decided they need you after all."
"Really. What changed their minds?"
"Oh, probably all the information you supplied for the mission to the Maw. And I get the feeling Piett's been pulling pretty hard for you."
"Are you supposed to bring me back?"
"Well, that's up to you," he said, digging into his jacket pocket for the disc. He handed it to his father. "This is an offer for a position as an advisor to Marest and the Combined Forces."
His father turned the disc from side to side as though considering it, and Luke's stomach sank. Wasn't that the way things always were between them? Just when he'd decided to leave the military, his father was going to take the opportunity to rejoin it. He sighed and leaned his head back against the wall.
"Here," his father said, tapping him on the arm with the disc. "They may need me, but I no longer need them."
He looked unbelieving into the mask and felt a grin erupt across his face. He plucked the disc from his father's hand and pushed himself to his feet. It was only a few meters to the edge of the promontory and he flung the disc off the end, watching it soar across the sky before falling into the rocks below. "Me neither."
The mask followed him as he returned to his spot sitting against the wall. "Last mission not go well, son?"
"No," he said, shaking his head, "the last mission went great. I pretended to be you."
"Why was that?"
He smiled. "Admiral Daala didn't know the Empire was gone. We transmitted old holos and modified my voice and Darth Vader convinced her to cooperate."
"I am surprised you were able to pull that off."
"Why? It was easy." Luke sat up straight and narrowed his eyes, growling out the words for effect. "The Emperor requires an update on your progress, Admiral. That is not a satisfactory solution."
His father stared at him. "I do not sound so stiff."
"Yeah, you do," he said, laughing. "Now are you going to offer me some of whatever it is you've got over there?"
"I do not think so, my ungrateful child," his father said, tilting his head up, but then he reached down and passed the bottle over, its green contents sloshing inside of it.
Luke chuckled as he grabbed the bottle, and found he couldn't get the smile off of his face. They'd never been able to joke this freely with each other. There was something different about his father, and it wasn't the alcohol. His father's whole presence seemed less angry. More at peace. He unscrewed the cap and sniffed the contents, then shrugged and took a drink. He grimaced at the taste, and set the bottle in the sand between them. As his X-wing had crossed the Jundland Wastes, he'd practiced speeches in his head, but now he realized they wouldn't be necessary. He could just say what was on his mind. "I told the Chief of State that my price for delivering their offer to you was my release from the Combined Forces. So I guess I'm a free man."
"Good," his father said. "I've been thinking we should build the first training center here on Tatooine."
He'd only had one swallow of the liquor, but he felt as if he'd missed something. "Training center for what?"
"For Jedi," his father said. "The rigors of desert life promote self-reliance and strength of character, don't you think?"
"Yes. Wait, what did you say? For Jedi?" he said.
"Isn't that what we were discussing right before the Republic fired me?"
"It's what I
discussed and you rejected," he said. "What happened to you out here?"
The sound of the ventilator was the only response for a few moments. "There was much opportunity for reflection. I was able to see some truths I was unable to see before."
He reached for the bottle and took another sip. He remembered how hurt he'd been by his father's disappearance from the BlueSaber
. Even worried that he might not see him again. But instead here they were watching the suns set and sharing a drink, talking with an ease he'd only dreamt of. In fact that was the word he'd use to describe what was different about his father. He seemed more at ease with himself, about the past, about Obi-Wan even. For the first time it felt like they were truly on the same side.
But it still seemed unbelievable that his father was agreeing to rebuild the Order. "Do you really think would be Jedi need to know how to fix vaporators and keep sand out of their shorts, or are you just spinning my gyro?"
"Hardly. Your comment that the Order seemed like a security force for the Republic was far too close to the truth. Tatooine has always been beyond the reach of the politicians."
He tried to see through the mask. "You're serious, then. What about the Temple?"
"We will reclaim it eventually, after the Senate has become accustomed to the idea that the Jedi Order no longer answers to the Republic," his father said. "I hope that will not cause your sister further difficulty."
"Oh, it won't," he said. "She's not a senator any more. She resigned."
"She took a lot of criticism for opposing the Integrity Act," he said. "She chose to follow her conscience rather than to placate the people."
His father appeared to gaze into the distance. "I should have you thank her for me, for her loyalty."
"You can tell her yourself," he said. "She wants to be trained as a Jedi, and I've encouraged her to talk to you."
The mask focused on him. "She would allow me to teach her?"
He could sense his father's swirling emotions and he smiled gently as he looked into the lenses. "I think she will."
Leia glanced to the side as she pushed the chime button next to the entrance of the storefront. The shop was small, and located a few levels farther down than she usually ventured. It hardly seemed like the kind of place that could do high-volume production, but she'd reviewed the old discs in Mon's office twice. To her relief, the door buzzed, and then slid open. Inside the light was dim, and the walls were covered with posters of holovids she'd seen as a child. Footsteps sounded from somewhere in the back, and then a young man appeared, barely older than herself.
"Can I help you?" he said, leaning up against the counter, his eyes narrowing.
She licked her lips, suddenly flustered. "Yes, I believe you used to sew the garments for the Jedi Order."
"Not us," he snorted. "You've got the wrong place."
"But I looked it up in the old Senate records," she said, walking up to her side of the counter. "Every year it was the same name in the budget. Beshmaal's
He shook his head. "Must have been a different Beshmaal," he said, backing away from her. "We only manufacture for the wholesale trade. I'm sorry I can't help you."
From the rear of the shop came another voice, this one rich with age. "Zin, who is it?"
"Don't worry, Pops, I got it," he answered. He turned back to Leia. "You need to leave. My father can't get upset. Blood pressure, you know?"
She looked around the yellowed room. What was she doing here? Why had Luke's comment about the importance of tradition resonated with her? "But I'm sure this is right. The address matches the Senate records."
"I'm telling you, we never made clothing for the Jedi," the young man said, anger glittering in his eyes. "How could we have survived the Empire if we did?"
From behind the divider a grey haired man shuffled towards the counter. He tossed his head at Zin, who then rolled his eyes and moved down a meter or so. The old man stopped directly in front of her and looked her up and down. "Are you one? A Jedi?"
Her face flushed. "Not yet. I'm learning."
"A Padawan, then," the old man said, nodding. "That's what they used to call the students."
"Yes." She supposed she was. His familiarity with the Order encouraged her. "Can you still make the Jedi garments?"
Zin sidled up to his father. "Pops, this is crazy."
The old man frowned and waved the young man off, his expression turning warm again as he returned his gaze to Leia. "Sure we can. I hid all the patterns on a secret disc." He covered her hand with his own. "I always knew they'd come back some day."