Stranger Things Have Happened – Conclusion.

"I am no longer the defeater or Empires," Skywalker said, matter of fact. "Nor am I the ersatz father of a new generation of Jedi. I'm just old mad waiting to die."

The emotional quaver in Dustin's voice disappeared as his tone hardened. "Well that sure sucks!"

"Sucks?" the old hermit inquired. "What does that mean?"

"Sucks wind, Luke," Dustin added as he paced the stone hut. "Steals joy, sucks life, you know. Demoralizing, Dude!"

Luke wagged his eyes in indifference and sat down, again, by the fire. "Demoralizing or not, I am no longer a Jedi, much less a Master."

Dustin looked at Skywalker as if he had sprouted a second head, which may have been preferable to the drivel he was hearing.

"This is not going to work," Dustin muttered as he passed behind Luke continuing to pace. "What went wrong, Luke?"

"Not really your business, Kid," Luke replied, stoically. "I've been here long enough for it not to matter."

Dustin stopped in his tracks. "Oh, Man, this must be bad. How can you think you don't matter?

Luke stared, wordlessly, at the fire.

Dustin came and sat across from him, still surprised that the black clad Jedi Knight he knew was now this sad man in gray who had left the galaxy to fend for itself.

"We love you, Luke," Dustin said with genuine heart. "You are a hero to so many people. Do you know how deep that goes? We want to be like you. I want to be like you. You're strong. You are loyal. You are so utterly adaptable. You know what I mean? Brave, Dude! You are wi-getting wiser all the time."

Luke chuckled to himself, but still did not meet Dustin's eyes. "That wisdom finally caught up to me, Dustin. I wish it never had."

"I wish Mike were here," Dustin said, desperately. "Even Will or Lucas. They are wiser than me. They might be able to give you what you need to snap out of this."

Luke looked up. "I'm not going to snap out of this, Kid. The Jedi are dead. They are no more. I'm too old and too unwilling to start again."

"Again?" Dustin said, grabbing on to nugget of revelation. "So, you had students? You started a New Jedi Order?"

"Yes," Luke replied, his voice croaking with emotion.

"They died or you disbanded them?" Dustin asked.

"Didn't you hear me, kid? The Jedi are dead!" Luke replied, frustration lacing his works. "Shouldn't you be waking up about now?"

Dustin was unperturbed. He pinned Luke with a steely gaze. "You are right about one thing, Master Skywalker. You are one sad, sorry Son of a Bitch. And, if you don't know what that means, it means pathetic. The truly sad part is that you are a hero, regardless of what happened. Life sucks sometimes, but you gotta get up and keep going. You remember that Rancor you fought, the one you single handedly dispatched with little or no use of the Force? Remember that? Well, my friends and I had to face a creature like that. It was ugly and it had sharp teeth and it was strong. Stronger than us, that's for sure. If we didn't have our Mage, we would have been dead. Our Mage, or Wizard, if that makes more sense, used the Fucking Force to kill it and save our lives. She could be your apprentice, Luke. Her name is El, short for Eleven, the number of her experiment. Yes, she was born in captivity and raised as a tool for the government. Very much like the shit Palpatine did on the side. Though he would probably be doing it to nonhumans. The amazing thing about El is that despite the inhumanity she experienced for her entire life, she is sweet and honest and kind. Powerful and fierce. You could learn from her as much as she could learn from you."

"Are you done?" the Jedi Master asked, standing. "That is a fine story, young one. But did any of your friends die? Did you have to see their dismembered and eviscerated bodies in the aftermath? Was it your nephew who betrayed you and destroyed everything you had built?"

Dustin shook his head, sadly. "You really don't get it. My friend's sister lost her best friend. The monster killed her. She isn't coming back. One of the monsters also got my cat. We weren't without losses. Another one of my friends was captured by the monster. Only a miracle spared his life. In fact, Luke, our Mage killed the Demogorgon and disappeared into thin air. We thought she was dead. For all intents and purposes, she was dead for almost a year. Another miracle brought her back to us. So, don't think you have the corner on suffering."

Luke listened without interruption. He received what the boy was saying and released his frustration into the Force. "I'm sorry you had to go through that at such a young age. Even more sorry for your friend Eleven and the one who is with the Force."

"You forgot my cat," Dustin said.

Luke allowed a small smile. "And your cat. Tell me ore about Eleven. You said she used the Force."

"Yeah, she did a little more than lifting rocks. She flipped a truck into the air to keep it from hitting us. She levitated Mike in thin air after those bastards made him jump off a cliff. She even made a guy pee himself. That was funny right there. But, Dude, killing the Demogorgon, was incredible. It was like she exploded it from the inside. That was when she disappeared. Kind of like Obi-Wan on the Death Star.

Luke nodded sagely. "It sounds like she has a lot of potential. But, is there any outlet for that power outside of military applications?"

"Probably not publically, but privately, the practical applications are endless. Just the other day, she was moving the piles of fire wood from the forest to the cabin where she lives. Or maybe that was another dream. She only returned to us tonight. You would be proud of her guardian, though. The Chief is a good man."

"I'm sure he is," Luke said. "It sounds like she has good friends, too. That is very important."

Dustin kicked the dirt floor of the hut. "It just stinks that you are so miserable Luke. It shouldn't be this way. You should be with Han and Leia and Chewbacca."

"I know it looks that way to you, Dustin," Luke said, peacefully. "And part of me knows you are right. The other part still feels strongly that Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, is no more. It was good talking to you. I'm thankful for the opportunity. I'll leave you with this: I am not The Last Jedi. There is…another."

Dustin could not help, but grin and let loose a laugh. "Other than Leia, right?"

"Yes, Dustin, other than Leia," Luke replied with a smirk.

Without preamble, Dustin crossed the distance between them and gave Luke a hug. "I'm sorry I called you pathetic. I didn't mean it. You're still Luke Skywalker to me."

Luke embraced the boy lightly. "Thank you, Dustin. That means a lot."

As Dustin blinked away tears, he came awake back at the Byer's house. A small wet spot was on Mike's shoulder where his face just been. He quickly wiped away any residual tears. Scanning the room, he saw Lucas staring at him with a dubious gaze. Dustin's excitement rose and his grin went ear to ear.

"Lucas, you are not going to believe this!"

Fin.