Rising Light

Chapter 4 / Coming Home

The twin suns of Tatooine wane low over the horizon, leaving the endless desert landscape painted shades of golden warmth. A Corellian freighter streaks across sandy plains at top speed—in the small cockpit, two fugitives pray they're not being pursued.

Still out of breath from both running and terror alike, Sabé cranes her neck back briefly to look out of the small area of cockpit glass where there's rear visibility. Mos Eisley is shrinking rapidly behind them, smoke billowing up toward the Star Destroyer that lurks above.

Luke's piercing sobs demand her attention and Sabé tears her gaze away to soothe the upset baby as best she can—it's difficult because she's so wound up herself. Beside her, dogged, Obi-Wan grips the control console steering with white-knuckled hands. The ship is climbing now, gaining velocity and elevation to put even more distance between them and the enemy.

As Sabé bounces the baby and works to calm herself down too, her ragged mind reels. Their escape felt all too close—they almost ran straight into clone trooper squads three times and narrowly dodged crossfire in at least two major fire fights. 'Traumatic' describes the experience only halfway.

Even though her instincts warn her not to assume anything, her overwhelmed and exhausted nerves are too much: she slumps in the co-pilot seat, pleading silently that it's over for now. She keeps rocking Luke in her shaky arms while gently repeating shh, shh over and over against the crown of his head. It's all she can do to not faint, that's how high the rush of adrenaline left her. Now that the sensation is receding, she's left feeling sapped of all strength completely.

"The Empire," she murmurs woodenly, seeing nothing in front of herself. "Here." Her mind cannot comprehend it—it's one of their worst nightmares. Her ears strain to hear telltale signs of pursuit, but it's quiet save for the undulating racket of the freighter's old engines.

"Not for long if the locals have anything to do with it," Obi-Wan replies, his voice made tight by a quiet grim quality. He sounds just as unsure as she feels. "If we're in any luck, they'll see this place as too much trouble for the bother."

That's what she would like to think, too. That's why what happened today was so shocking. Why are they here? She supposes she won't get an answer immediately. If ever. Sabé finally fully looks at Obi-Wan for the first time since seeing him again, taking in the details she missed in the flurry of their escape: his sunburn settling into a patchy tan, his beard that's even more wild and bushy than ever, his worn out civilian clothing that's secondhand. It makes him appear worlds apart from the neat and tidy Jedi Master he was a month ago. No wonder she didn't recognize him when he first appeared back there…

"Yes, well," she says, eyes drifting to gaze gauntly through the cockpit transparisteel as she automatically keeps jostling Luke. He's quieting. Her eyes register very little. "I don't have much faith in our luck these days."

Obi-Wan remains troubled, thinking for a measure before he speaks again. "They weren't after us specifically, that has to count for something."

He's right—or she thinks and hopes he is, anyway. "Yes, I suppose it does," she replies, not succeeding in hiding how distracted she is. Outside, the miles fly by quickly. Mos Eisley isn't visible anymore when Sabé chances another quick backward glance. Luke's screams have settled into a softer little whimpering cry, and Sabé kisses his forehead, trying to comfort and be comforted, too. His smell, unknown to her about a month ago, is familiar and soothing now. Irreplaceable. He quiets further, which helps calm Sabé too. She closes her eyes and holds him close, focusing in on the rise and fall of his back, the whispering tickle of his sparse hairs against her cheek and nose. She thinks of his mother with a broken heart. She thinks of his father with deep, abiding fear. Was Vader on that Star Destroyer? Or off in some other corner of the galaxy, terrorizing those loyal to the Republic, those hiding any surviving Jedi? Not for the first time, her mind tries to understand: how did this all happen?

Obi-Wan speaks again, gentler this time. "Are you all right?"

A simple, tenderhearted question that can almost bring her to tears. What answer can she give besides the truth? Sabé opens her eyes, and she's tired. Run over. Without optimism. Too many things loom over, threatening to crush the life out of her. Unable to make her unseeing eyes move, only able to feel the tears that sting them, she shakes her head ever so slightly as grief threatens to choke her voice away completely. "No." It's one word, and it's all she can manage at the moment. Nothing is all right. Even if she's physically unharmed, she's left to be even more afraid than before.

His silence is bleak. Then his voice, burdened. "I understand." His voice draws her gaze, finally, and their eyes meet. So many unspoken things hang in the balance. And for now, those things stay unspoken. Sabé cannot come up with anything. Despite all the novels of feelings, fears, worries, and burdens which she cannot keep silently carrying alone—speaking them aloud would require too much of her. The divide between them is so vast, too intimidating to even think about bridging. There is safety in silence. Obi-Wan's eyes falter away and he attempts to bolster himself and be outwardly strong. "Well," he says, schooling his tone into an out-on-place casual tone. "In any case, I'm eager to see what you think of everything I've managed to get done with the house."

The house. Sabé has forgotten completely about it for a few moments. The mention of it brings a thousand dread-filled curiosities to mind. She imagines any myriad of issues and attacks—more endless problems and dangers to leave them wretched in this hostile place. "Have you had any trouble?" She asks apprehensively—she fears the answer. She cannot take more bad news, but prepares for it regardless.

Of all things, Obi-Wan gives her a quick, bittersweet little smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Well, DC-10 at times has too many opinions for my taste, but no—the only souls I've seen are a few wild animals and some Jawas." Her surprise must show. "Everything has been fine."

She turns that statement over in her mind a few times, offhandedly petting Luke's head. He's quiet now. Everything has been fine. "…How did you know to come for us?" It's a soft, almost hopeful question.

Obi-Wan is hard to read. He seems thoughtful, all while touched by the hand of grief. "I suppose the Force isn't as far away as I thought it was," he replies after a moment's deliberation. Sabé's heart lurches in a small inkling of hope: He hasn't shared much with her during this time, but he did tell her, a few days after first coming to Tatooine, of how the Force felt distant—as if it were gone along with everything else. This has to be good news, doesn't it? Sabé doesn't get to reflect on it any longer. Obi-Wan nods ahead of them, simultaneously cutting the engines and beginning a descent. "Look. Home."

She follows his gaze—below them and ahead, the homestead is small and sturdy against the vast outline of the rocky Jundland Wastes. The fading light of day casts the small sandstone structure and the slopes around it into brilliant gold. Here it is: their safe haven from prying eyes.

Or, as he just called it:


Even as Obi-Wan brings them in for a close approach, Sabé can in quick observation see trash and junk that's been piled up at the side of the home, and one wall that doesn't yet match the rest of the others… evidence of the work Obi-Wan has been doing. Home. She wonders how livable it is inside. Not that it matters. Nothing could convince her to go back to any city on this planet right now. Nothing. Whatever half-ready home waits, she will make work.

The ship settles down onto kicked up sand and with a charged sigh, Obi-Wan cuts the engines off and sits back in the seat as if weary, then stands before the pause can grow too long. He offers Sabé a hand up. His face is tense and mildly apprehensive. But he's trying for truce of a smile. And taking his hand, Sabé manages a similar thin-lipped press. He doesn't let go, and they hold hands as they exit the ship and approach the door of the house. Our home.

The first thing Sabé registers is that the front door has been repaired—not repainted yet, but it isn't hanging off its bolts anymore uselessly. Obi-Wan opens it and indicates 'after you.' With an apprehensive inhale, Sabé enters, prepared to see the mess she remembers.

It's cooler inside in the onset of dusk, but not as dim she might have imagined… and she quickly realizes why: The ceiling above the lounge area is still a huge gaping hole, letting in bountiful amounts of light. Additionally, the far wall is still missing too (but the framework is laying off to the side). However what really draws Sabé's attention first is the kitchen. The space, which had been devoid of anything that would make it a kitchen besides the cabinets prior, now boasts a medium sized refrigeration unit, a sink, and a stove/oven combo unit too. None of the appliances look new at all, but the mere fact that Obi-Wan somehow managed such a task already is astounding. Exciting, even. The kitchen and lounge both have been cleaned, swept, and tidied up. It leaves behind a home that almost isn't recognizable from what Max Orbo showed them just a few days ago.

As the door closes behind their entrance, a gleaming droid struts into view and stops short as if surprised. "Ah, hello!" DC-10 greets, even as Sabé's face takes on a quizzical, amused frown and she has to quell a very unexpected urge to laugh. "Welcome home, Commander!"

"DC-10…" Sabé replies slowly in confused, suspicious humor, wondering simultaneously if she's being pranked or if something's wrong: "Why are you wearing pants?"

The droid's head element tilts down briefly, as if they have forgotten that they're wearing a pair of what looks like Obi-Wan's pants. "Ah," Obi-Wan says awkwardly, drawing Sabé's attention. "To keep sand out of gears until I can come up with a better solution," he explains, and there's the smallest flash of his signature pleased but self-conscious smile hiding behind his beard. A protocol droid in pants—Sabé suddenly has a confounded grin on her face at the absurdity of it. This seems to inspire a good-humored moment for Obi-Wan."And really, you have to admit, the droid wears them better than I do." Sabé hears herself laughing briefly… something she hasn't done in what feels like years. It leaves her feeling lighter and strange, but in a good way.

Drifting into the lounge more centrally to gawk around at what's been done, Sabé listens with raised optimism as Obi-Wan explains what's been accomplished: "Well, aside from DC-10's foray into fashion, we've cleaned everything, taken out all of the debris, and gotten most of the sand out of the basement—electric is working and I was able to procure a refrigeration unit and stove among a few other things—I've fixed all the walls except that one. The roof… obviously still requires attention."

Amazed, Sabé can't stop looking around. What was a dump just a few days ago is on its way to total transformation. It's too good to be true, and as such, her spirits are soaring. "Obi-Wan—it doesn't even look like the same place," she marvels genuinely, already imagining glimpses of their future here. "It's like a real home." Sheer gratitude that could make her cry is flooding her emotions. "You've worked so hard," she says, full of gratitude and thankfulness for him. Then her thoughts are whisked away: She spies a small stack of familiar looking objects that sit on the ledge just above the fireplace and she makes a beeline, eyes wide in disbelief. But it's exactly what she thought. "You found books?!" she asks, already picking the three of them up in a way that can be described as reverent. Paper tomes, a rarity in the modern galaxy, are probably quite normal here. Dog-eared and worn, they all look ancient. Sabé quickly rifles through the three titles eagerly: first is Land Speeder Repair & Maintenance — and she nods faintly. It'sa very practical selection that will come in handy. The next one is quite intriguing. A masked creature wielding an intimidating staff-like weapon is pictured beneath the bolded title: People of the Sand: Stories of the Tusken Raiders. Sabé is fascinated by that one. Maybe they'll learn something useful from it. She sorts to the last volume, and stops in her tracks when the last title stares up at her: Human Pregnancy, A Complete Guide.

Stilled, Sabé's eyes lift slowly to find Obi-Wan's waiting, nervously hopeful gaze. "The Jawas," he explains as her throat constricts. "Resourceful little creatures, with quite the assortment of things for sale in their transport. They called it the… the Sandcrawler, I think. In any case, thanks to DC-10's translation programming, I was able to ask after very specific items. Including that book."

The gesture leaves her at the emotional brim. Here it is: evidence that he's still thinking of her and of her pregnancy too despite the fact that things have been so stagnant and cold between them. It inspires a trove of hopeful, touched, overwhelming feelings that are too large to process all at once. Clutching the book, which has an illustration of a pregnant woman's silhouette on it, Sabé tries not to, but does anyway: she breaks into tears and attempts to say something about "so wonderful," but her words are garbled and muffled by the hand she's put against her mouth in an attempt to stay composed.

Obi-Wan has already taken the books from her and is pulling Sabé to him closely, gently. She buries her face in the rough fabric of his tunic for a brief moment as Luke makes an uncertain sound between them. Equal parts embarrassed at herself and very thankful for a snatched moment to be close to Obi-Wan again, Sabé clings on, her focus wrapped up in the feel of how he holds her. His smell, his familiar stance and warmth—she breathes these things in like it's the last time. She thinks of his steadfast dedication to making this house a home despite all of his daunting pain and personal struggle, his consideration to find them a book about pregnancy even with everything else going on… it whispers to Sabé that all is not lost. She draws back with a still, tear streaked face. She wants to look Obi-Wan in the eyes and see him. The him he's been trying to hide. The him she would do anything for. The him that saw through to the her hiding behind the robes of a Queen... all those years ago. In this very land. Blue eyes meet brown, and Obi-Wan's expression is tender. His thumb grazes her cheek, wiping a tear away. And Sabé's heart lifts slowly, bravely.

"Why don't you go get cleaned up?" Obi-Wan suggests softly. "I'll see to Luke." Sabé's eyes question him briefly and he smiles again: "I fixed the shower."

Sabé's mouth drops again. "You fixed the shower?" she repeats in a whisper, realizing that this means he must have the water working too. What can't this man do? she wonders, even as she's already daydreaming about washing off with rising excitement and anticipation.

Obi-Wan reaches for Luke, and Sabé helps shift the baby out of the fabric he was wrapped to her body with. Luke keens as Obi-Wan takes him, an adorable little sound only a baby can make—and Obi-Wan smiles briefly and genuinely, however small, at the boy as he settles him in his arms. A moment that warms Sabé and fills her heart. "Go see," he encourages Sabé, who is reluctant to leave them—especially Luke, who has been glued to her at most hours of the days now. But she complies, wondering what she'll find in the parts of the house she hasn't seen since being here last.

Cautious and curious, Sabé goes down a nearly unrecognizable hallway that feels incredibly spacious now that it's clean and trash-free—she first glimpses into what will be the children's bedrooms, finding repaired walls, swept floors, and a few stacks of supplies and tools. It's surreal to see these empty spaces that will soon be full of life and living. After lingering in each room for a handful of heartbeats, Sabé goes to the master suite which is also repaired and cleaned. The suns are beginning to descend to the horizon, and she contemplates them for a brief moment through the east-facing window—it's the only window in the house that wasn't broken and boarded up. Everything outside in the barren land is washed in warmth as the suns sink. The higher sun is bright and pale juxtaposed against the redder lower one. It's beautiful, even in its desolation.

Sabé's eyes drop to the horizon and she watches and waits a minute or two for any signs of ships, enemies, really any movement of any kind. In the distance across the flat plains, the tiny details of Anchorhead are inscrutable, but Sabé can see that no Imperial Star Destroyer hovers over it.

Once she's momentarily persuaded that attacks aren't imminent, Sabé continues her exploration. The containers of things brought from Naboo are stacked up high in a far corner of the room, with the container full of clothes off to the side and open. The fresher, which had been in complete disrepair before, is still an under-construction mess, but the shower does indeed run, and there are some mismatched towels folded and stacked beside the shower stall… maybe more Jawa purchases? It doesn't matter. Obi-Wan has done incredible, thoughtful work here so far that deserves recognition and gratitude. Sabé is glad to be here with him for the rest of the work of fixing, repairing, and settling in. It only feels right to be at his side and contribute equally to the labor.

First things first however: she strips off and proceeds to take the most amazing shower of her life—or it feels that way anyway. The water is hot and the pressure good—nothing like the infuriating dribble that she endured for the past month plus at the lodge in Mos Eisley. There's only a small bar of soap in the shower for cleaning, but it's enough to wash her body and hair and rejuvenate her senses.

It's dark out when she finishes. After getting out and drying off, she puts on the first sleeping gown she finds in the container of clothes, skips underwear when she can't find any, then towels her hair and brushes it neatly after locating a comb in another container of supplies. Refreshed and feeling much more human, Sabé lets her long damp hair fall freely down her back to air dry. Barefoot, she pads back to the main area, noticing how the stone of the floor is somehow cool to the touch of her feet despite how hot the outside world is during the day. A small delight. Once she reenters the main area, she finds a single light source illuminating the darkened space. Crackling and snapping energetically, a small fire rests in the hearth of the fireplace. The outside world, visible through the gaping wall and the ceiling hole, is cast dark velvet blue as twilight fades.

Obi-Wan, still dusty and dirty, is sitting in the middle of bare floor cross-legged with a few portions of untouched rations in front of him on a towel, as well as a single jug of water—nearby, he's made a little padded area with blankets for Luke, who looks like he's sleeping. DC-10 (still wearing those blasted pants) is positioned at the wall hole facing outward. From the stance, Sabé recognizes that the droid is in security mode… all functions diverted to scanning for intruders and motion in the near vicinity. Personality mode is always switched off for security, meaning DC-10 is not hearing or engaging in anything but potential security threats. So to all effect, it's just Sabé and Obi-Wan now. She shouldn't feel nervous about that, be automatically does. Will it be more of the same in terms of painful silences, the yearning to reach out and connect but not being able to?

Obi-Wan gestures to the waiting meal apologetically when Sabé's pause at the end of the hall becomes hovering. "It's not quite fine dining, but it is food."

Sabé carefully tests a teasing response: "It's a good thing I didn't dress for fine dining then, isn't it?"

She sees receptiveness on his features. The same cautious, timid approach she's taking. "Well... you'll certainly be in good company with the likes of me." Obi-Wan indicates his own disheveled appearance, and Sabé chuckles ever so brief and low in her throat. A small, cautious and hopeful gaze is shared by both of them. Then Sabé joins.

She sits down opposite of him and mimics his stance, then picks up one of the rations—a dry protein bar of some sort. "Anchorhead?" she asks, taking a big bite. It's quite bland and chalky. But she's hungry, and this will do. Just the same though, she'll eat it fast to get it over with.

"Yes, I think we'll fare well getting more supplies from there tomorrow to replace the ones we lost," Obi-Wan says, joining her in biting into his portion too. "They have a small market, a few stores..."

Nodding automatically, Sabé cranes her neck slightly to peer over at Luke, who is splayed out on his back with arms wide at his side in his favorite position. "Is Luke all right?" she asks, realizing that being separated from the baby boy made her feel uneasy.

"Fed, diapered, and sleeping warmly," Obi-Wan reports. "No signs of the Empire descending upon us, either."

Sabé darkens at the mention of that before taking another brooding bite. "What are they even doing here?" She sounds sullen and acidic, resentful. And, well, she is.

Obi-Wan chews silently for a moment. "Attempting to establish some sort of presence, I suppose," he says, then takes a swig of water from the jug and offers it to her. "Or perhaps we're not the only fools who had the idea to hide here." Sabé sips at the water. It's cold and tastes pure, clean. "I truly didn't think the Empire would even bother with this planet, if I'm being honest," Obi-Wan muses, preoccupied.

Sabé shares the sentiment and sets the jug down. She pops the rest of the bar in her mouth and there's silence as both think deeply. "How worried should we be out here?" She asks after she's swallowed her last bite. It's obviously much safer than a city, but is it truly a safe hiding place from the reach of the Empire? Of Darth Vader?

He mulls her question over thoroughly, heavily. "Enough to stay vigilant," he finally says. In other words, I don't know. His expression is grim. They both know there is more than one issue to worry about daily here.

Sabé nods agreement and puts it out of her mind for the time being. "Well in any case..." she studies the inside of the house again with a slow sweep of the eyes. "I still can't believe how much work you've done here."

There's a brief, wry chuckle. "Please, Milady. Wait to be impressed until after I fix that enormous hole in your ceiling."

There it is again: a glimpse at the way he was Before.

Sabé shakes her head no, the smallest crooked smile lifting the corners of her mouth up as she lets her eyes take in his familiar, beloved face. "Makes me remember Naboo autumn," she murmurs, eyes raising to take in the darkening deep blue sky above. Nostalgia blooms. "Sleeping under the stars…" she trails off, yearning for that simpler time briefly. She can smell the burnt timber wafting through the earthy Naboo air for just a microsecond... can see fruit orchards ripe for harvest and taste the seasonal spiced hot teas... all set against the backdrop of crisp, cool air and foggy mornings. The memories are good. And so is this moment too. Above her head now, small pinpricks of light are only just now becoming visible, and will only grow brighter as night continues to deepen. Sabé hasn't actually seen stars at all since coming to Tatooine—they've hidden inside after dark here. Until now. Seeing the sky at night again is truly a feeling of liberation after what she's endured. A small, important wonder.

Obi-Wan watches her quietly, an open and unguarded expression on his face while she takes in the sky in a small moment of contentment. When he softly speaks, it draws a startled, touched look from her: "This house certainly feels better with you in it."

Another gently given act of truce. Of reconciliation. Ice in her chest continues to thaw. Light continues to grow, sending shadows of doubt and fear further away. And she gives him her own act off truce: "And I'm glad to be home." It's the godsdamn truth through and through. She studies him back now just like he's studying her. The snapping fire creates a dancing pattern of warm orange light across one side of his face—and he looks beautiful. Reachable. And she so very much wants to reach him again. So she tries. "How are you, Obi-Wan?" she chances ever so cautiously. "Really?"

Obi-Wan's eyes quickly jump to hers, as if he's startled or taken aback. It's the conversation they've both been avoiding with supreme dedication. It cannot be avoided any longer. It will suffocate them if they don't bring to light all that's kept in the darkness of silence. Obi-Wan draws in a steadying breath, taking time to think about his response. When he speaks, he sounds hollow and painfully unsure. "I don't know." He clearly hates admitting that too. His eyes fall away. There's an exhausted defeat to him. And it's heartbreaking. "Nothing quite makes sense anymore."

"I know what you mean," she says, so pained on both their behalf.

Her words only seem to sadden him further and he takes a long time to speak again. When he does, his voice is choked. "I'm... just so sorry for leaving you alone in this."

Protective hackles raise as she begins to realize the extent of the guilt he's wracking himself with. "Obi-Wan—you don't need to apologize," she insists with worry and compassion.

He gets up from his cross-legged seat in a fluid, practiced motion and retreats a few steps off, dragging a hand down his mustache and beard in an expression of strained disquiet. "I've left you alone with so much, Sabé," he says after a moment, looking at her as if begging for her help in making sense of it all. "How can a man do that to the woman he's supposed to love?"

The way he sounds and the hurt on his face lurch her heart. And Sabé gets up too. Her instinct is to go to him and reassure him with physical contact. But once she's on her feet, the distance between them feels too vast—and she's somewhat afraid of being rejected. So she tries a different method. "You lost your entire world," she says, pain clenching at her deeply. "And so did I. It's... it's a wonder either of us can even get out of bed in the mornings."

He considers her words, eyes downcast. He's physically turned himself away from her so that she can only just see his profile. "I've failed," he assesses with dull acceptance. "Beyond all measure and comprehension."

Sabé guessed that he might feel this way, and it grieves her very deeply to hear her suspicions are true. "Obi-Wan," she says, the way she says his name carrying all the affection and sadness she feels. Gently, she approaches him and lays a hand onto the back of his shoulder. "Anakin chose his path."

A slight turn of the head, but his eyes remain on the floor. "And I sent him down it."

"Knowingly?" she points out carefully. "Willingly?"

For a long moment, he contemplates. Then his eyes slide to look at a different part of the floor. "Still." His expression pinches anew and he seems to be pushing away emotion. His eyes, however, cannot conceal the tears that are building. "I question everything I ever thought I believed in before, Sabé."

She knew that... of course she knew it. But hearing it is out loud is different than silently wondering. Crushed anew as the weight of everything settles again, she shakes her head blankly while reckless grief charges through her. "I do too," she admits. Her thoughts consume her. "How foolish were we?" she whispers. "Underestimating Palpatine. Believing justice could prevail. Believing that the light conquers the darkness." It hurts to think of how blind they all were. Her eyes are stinging with tears, too. Perhaps it's melodramatic, but it feels as though she has learned a very sobering truth through all this: "This galaxy is not made for the righteous, Obi-Wan. It's made for the ruthless."

He exhales heavy and weary. He finally peers at her sidelong. For answers, for assurance, for hope. "So where does that leave us?"

She can't bite back the truth she feels inside: "On a godsforsaken rock with two children to raise." She grits her teeth briefly as the fears swarm her mind again. "Raise to do what?" Her chest clenches and throat grows tight, leaving her voice a sudden choked plea. "Is there anything left for us? For them?" How can there be?

He looks just as gutted as her. For a moment, he casts around for a reply. His slowness in response adds to the helpless and forlorn sensation. "I don't know..." comes Obi-Wan's honest reply. "I… I have to try to believe in some sort of… of hope. Despite everything."

Sabé presses her mouth into a line against a feeling of despair. "…I don't know if I can," she admits, wishing to feel any way but the way she does. But there's no escaping it, and her eyes sting: "I'm so afraid. Every minute of every day now."

Obi-Wan's eyes, eyes she has known for years, falter on hers. "So am I."

It shouldn't shock her, but it does. In her mind, the Jedi were untouchable from some things—they were sacred beings with a direct line into the will of the universe, into serenity, into omniscience. Jedi remained removed from trivial matters like doubt and fear and selfishness. But how could Obi-Wan not be every bit as terrified as she is every second of every day? Of course he is. Of course he is. Filled with both compassion for his internal state and the regret that she hasn't asked him sooner, she lets her hand, still resting on his shoulder, begin to move in a slow, soothing rub. "…Is it Anakin that you dream of at night?" She poses the question as gently as possible.

Gaze becoming uncomfortable, Obi-Wan swallows and looks away again. "Yes," he confirms in a mere whisper. "And you. And Luke. And…"

He trails off into silence and Sabé steps into his space from his side. She gently touches his face and his gaze guiltily comes back to her. For a long deliberating moment, silence hangs. "I don't need you to be an impervious fortress, Obi-Wan," Sabé whispers finally. "A heavy stone is more easily carried between two." It's an old saying from Naboo. The implication, she hopes, is clear: Let me help bear the load. Please.

Obi-Wan, tired but receptive, leans ever so slightly into the touch of her hand. His eyes, catching light from the adjacent fireplace, study hers in growing honesty. "I've missed you in a way I never have before," he says after a long, weighted pause. A small, bewildered frown crosses his face, as if he doesn't know how else to say what he feels. "Perhaps you know what I mean."

Sabé nods, her eyes aching with the burden of tears. "Yes, I know exactly."

Without another word, Obi-Wan bows his forehead into her shoulder, letting her wrap arms around his shoulders and head then lean her cheek into his hair. He begins to shake silently as sobs wrack his body, and his arms tighten on her like she is keeping him from blowing away. She cries too.

There they stay for a long time.

Sabé opens her eyes to a velvet night sky dotted by the sparkle of millions of stars. Everything around her is illuminated brightly by crisp silver moonlight.

For a moment, she's disconcerted before memory comes back: After shouldering the storm of sorrow together, they wiped their tears away and made a half-hearted joke or two, then Obi-Wan went to go shower off and change while Sabé wandered from one end of the house to the other, familiarizing herself anew, evaluating the work ahead, and thinking of which practical matters to address and in what order. She then made sure Luke was warm and bundled up and created a padded area with a few blankets (more purchases from the Jawas) to sleep on a few feet away from Luke. That's where she lays now, only one detail has changed: she's in Obi-Wan's embrace, feeling his soft warm breaths against her shoulder and neck.

When he reemerged from showering, he immediately came to her side and reached for her silently. They fell asleep holding each other with no words. Just the long-lost comfort of each other's closeness. The fire has now died out, but it's so much brighter than it was earlier: the moon and stars are dazzling and immaculate, drawing her gaze upward again. The chill in the air is just a few degrees below comfortable, causing her to nestle more closely into Obi-Wan, who stirs and shifts, opening eyes slowly and dreamily.

"Is it Luke?" he asks faintly, voice gone hoarse from sleep.

Already looking at the infant and seeing the peaceful rise and fall of his little chest, Sabé shakes her head and whispers her reply, because it seems wrong to speak at full volume during such a serene moment. "No, he's still sleeping…" she turns her head to look at Obi-Wan again. "He's been sleeping longer and longer the past few nights."

Obi-Wan nods and for a moment, their gazes hold. In this bright darkness haloed by moonlight, the mood feels enchanted. Touched by some sort of magic. Maybe that is the spark of hope growing. Sabé puts her head closely into Obi-Wan's chest and looks skyward again, letting the awe rain over her. "I don't know if I've ever seen so many stars in the sky," she murmurs after a moment, savoring how the tip of her nose feels cold and how fresh the air feels in her lungs and on her skin.

He sounds similarly struck by the sight. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

Sabé feels another smile on her face, and it leaves a peaceful feeling through her weary limbs. "Very." Obi-Wan's hand lightly caresses her arm.

A long moment passes, then he speaks in a whisper again. "What are you thinking?"

Surprised at the question, Sabé turns her head and looks at her companion for a moment. She wasn't thinking something specific, but now she is: "How strange it is to end up where it all began." It's strange, eerie poetry, but it's poetry all the same. She shifts more onto her side to better commit her attention to him. "What are you thinking?"

Reminiscent or nostalgic maybe, he takes his time to give reply, all while studying her thoroughly and patiently. "That I cannot imagine being here without you with me," he finally says. Words that are medicine to a sick patient, water to someone dying of thirst. Between then, he catches her hand softly with his. The touch is tentative. Careful. "I know things have changed between us since all this happened and I… I only hope we can somehow find our way back to the way we were," he confesses, and his face has become clouded. Worried.

Sabé knows his hope well, and hearing that he feels the same as she does is immensely needed. But… today has taught her something. "The old ways are gone," she murmurs, then squeezes his fingers softly. "We have to find our way somewhere new."

Obi-Wan's eyes are tender. He understands immediately. "Together," he says softly.

A vow. A promise. A word that allows so much tension she's been holding onto to slip away. "Yes, together," she repeats, her agreement. An irreplaceable joy blossoming deep within her chest.

His eyes hold dreams for their future. Timid, growing hope. The daring to believe in a brighter tomorrow. "All of us."

She nods faintly, eyes glossing over. If he believes, she can begin to find the ability too. "All of us," she echoes, dreamlike, lost in thought. The family they never imagined, but are hurtling toward becoming. Yes, it's all unknown, but it won't be done alone. Together. All of us. What was daunting just a few hours ago somehow now seems more and more possible in between these four walls. On this quiet plot of land outside of the city reaches. Will it be easy? Certainly not. Is it what she would have chosen if given freedom of any choice being hers? No. But this is what they've been given. And the time to make something good out of it is here. Together. All of us.

His eyes linger on hers openly. Blue galaxies live in those depths—entire universes of tender history—a quiet promise of abiding love that Sabé feared she would not see there again. The moonlight makes him otherworldly. He's impossible to look away from.

Helplessly, she feels a smile softening her features and lifting the corners of her mouth—and that smile elevates every molecule of her being, washing her warm in a feeling she remembers: hope—peace. Her hand comes to touch the side of his face, thumb brushing against his beard and cheek a few times in slow, tender affection. His expression has softened to match hers, and he smiles back in the same quiet way she's smiling at him. The weight of everything is gone for a moment, replaced by a feeling like flying all while being sheltered and protected. Obi-Wan shifts closer, resting his forehead to hers while careful fingertips trace hair away from her face to behind her ear.

For a few heartbeats, they stay in a trance of soft touches and breathing each other's air—it's a moment in time from their life before the darkness—confirmation that the foundation of tender things between them is not destroyed or gone. The world around them grows obscure and vague, no other details mattering except each other. Sabé and Obi-Wan study each other's darkening eyes unguardedly, and then at the same moment, they meet each other for something that is very long overdue. He leans down as she tilts her head up, and their lips meet together for a soft, sweet kiss that they both press into slowly and deeply. Sparks explode in Sabé's veins, racing to zing her centermost point to life, reigniting a feeling she forgot since setting foot onto this desert wasteland. The ever-deepening pull. The flame that drew them in from the cold.

Intoxicated by the sensation, she melts into his body with hers wherever she can, and he makes a soft sound when she does. Obi-Wan circles his arms around her to gently pull her against him fully, a hand tangling in her hair as his mouth opens on hers.

Sabé answers in kind, fingers curling into whatever part of Obi-Wan she can find: his hair, his tunic, the familiar muscles of his arms—she's hungry for him, starved to feel and be felt. A wealth of sensual heat smolders between them, building into fire, tantalizing them to go deeper, demanding it of them. Growing more urgent with every heated second that tics by, the kissing continues as Obi-Wan shifts himself over Sabé, letting the press of desire burn into the ripening space between her parted legs. He lets a helpless moan into her mouth when she pulls him harder against herself with bare legs and feet. His softly calloused hand travels to press into the soft skin of her thigh, dragging upward slightly and pulling the hem of her gown with it, letting cold air hit against the exposed skin. It's a tentative, primal question—and Sabé is already answering by pushing at the waist of his pants with frantic, hungry hands. They no longer kiss, instead pant into each other's mouths, just a few centimeters apart as they do the quick and clumsy work to be able to access each other—a gown pushed up to the waist, pants pulled down to mid thigh—and suddenly there's a blunt nudge, intense anticipating eye contact, and two soft gasps when their union is suddenly made total.

Sabé's head falls back and her mouth hangs open in a silent cry as she feels Obi-Wan's face bury into her neck to muffle his own helpless sound. His hands clench into her hard as he dives as deeply as he can, bringing them as close as humanly possible, filling her ache to the brim. Breathlessly they seek each other's gaze, finding eyes hooded by pleasure and need looking back. Obi-Wan cups Sabé's cheek briefly, trembling, letting his thumb drag down across her cheek as his emotionally naked expression and eyes are met by hers. A silent I love you. Sabé turns her head and kisses his thumb, then on a whim, thirsty for him, she sucks the digit softly into the wet heat of her soft mouth, causing him to lose more composure and bow his face against hers then demand another kiss from her when he can no longer stand it. Even as their tongues explore, his hand sneaks down and back up under her gown to drag the wet digit against the peak of a stuff nipple, eliciting a soft cry from Sabé's mouth that's lost in his.

The entanglement continues: mutually lost in bliss, their atmosphere becomes nothing but the heavy breath of the other, sweat-damp skin, and friction created between bodies that have needed each other so dearly. They find an erotically distressing cadence together that simultaneously frustrates and alleviates, building to heights they rush toward and clamor for. Fingers tangle into hair and lips drag against each other's skin until they find each other's mouths again for a frenzied, messy kiss that matches the deepening, wild abandon of passion.

Urgency rises and the peak comes closer and closer—Obi-Wan recognizes the way Sabé sounds, and with a doubling of effort, he thrusts them over and over again toward the inevitable crescendo with work that leaves them muffling cries as they cling on, praying for the blessed finale to fall over them.

It hits powerfully like a tsunami, first her, then him: the temporary loss of every sense except pleasure. She cries out into his shoulder as quietly as possible while his hot breath carries choked moans into her ear; they hold onto each other while stars explode in every vein. They're left stunned, amazed, relieved, and staring into each other's eyes again as the comedown begins.

After the euphoria fades and goodnight is whispered, Sabé has a final thought before she slips into the depths of sleep: being at Obi-Wan's side like this again is an unmistakable feeling. The same feeling of coming home after a very long time away.

Author's Notes: this chapter title was tribute to one of Keira's first roles in a movie called Coming Home! Seemed fitting :) also, surprise… a touch of smut, hehe.