Part 2: Clearance Rating: PG
The most magical thing of all was how natural it was; how easily, effortlessly Anakin settled into the place where he belonged.
Standing in the Falcon's starboard ring corridor, Han Solo looked at his sons from Jacen to Anakin, then back again, and back again. Both of them tall now, full-grown, and Anakin was broad where Jacen was lean, his slightly dishevelled morning-after look more intimately familiar to Han than the tight post-alcohol frown which Jacen had inherited from their mother; but both of them had the same quiet self-control, the same half-hidden Corellian smiles.
Han grinned, and clapped them both on the shoulder, then glanced back at Jag Fel, standing wryly aloof behind him.
"My boys," he said, beaming with pride. "And my son-in-law. I swear to you, you three. You make an old man very proud. Thank you."
"I am merely guilty by association," Jag said, with a nod of acknowledgement, a twitch of a smile. He moved towards Anakin, "Jedi Solo. My apologies for the introduction earlier. We never met properly before, did we?"
"Anakin," Anakin corrected, shaking his proffered hand firmly, confidently. "And no, we didn't. Not that I recall. But I owe you a lot of thanks you've made my sister very happy."
Jacen shifted on his feet a gesture Anakin could match, though their different physiques made it look very different. But his brother was turning towards him, smiling.
"It's good to see you too, Jasa," he said. "Guess you turned out the hero of the family in the end."
"I hardly," Jacen tried, colour flaring in his cheeks, an uncertainty in his eyes that you didn't need to be a Jedi to get a read on.
"That's a definition of it," Anakin grinned. He clapped him on the shoulder sideways, not top-down like his father. "I'm going to have to find a new career, big brother."v Jacen twitched a grin, and then, all of them were smiling.
It's as though he's never really been away, Tahiri thought; and as she made breakfast, chatting away to Leia and Jaina in the galley, she began to wonder if maybe, in a strange way, that was the truth after all. She'd spent more than a decade manouevring awkwardly around the Anakin-shaped place they all had; but now, with hindsight, perhaps it hadn't been to do with him being gone at all. Perhaps the awkwardness had been because he was there, all along. They just couldn't see it.
Perhaps. The words felt awkward, insufficient. Perhaps that was the point.
She glanced at Aunt Leia, saw the quiet, contented smile on her face. A private, family smile; one she hadn't seen in a long time.
"It's good to have him back," Leia remarked, as though her younger son had been away running a cargo out to Tatooine for a few days.
"It is good," Jaina agreed, different than her mother, but somehow in harmony. Only military discipline seemed to be holding her back from dancing. "Jag and him can get to know each other properly now they're finally in the same place for more than five seconds."
A little later, Tahiri walked back into the Falcon's forward hold with breakfast for two, and found that a freshly-showered Anakin had claimed the couch behind the dejarik table. One boot propped up along the seat, reading something over on his repeater pad. He had a familiar expression on his face chin down, brows lowered, lower lip jutted up just slightly.
For a moment, she paused in the corridor hatch, and looked him up and down, smiling at the sight of him as she breathed in the meaty warmth of breakfast. It wasn't a smile of wonderment, though, but one of familiarity.
Anakin was wearing the clothes he'd slept in. Scuffed brown leather boots, blue breeches with broad strakes of gold piping on the seams the second-class bloodstripes he'd been awarded twelve years earlier, for saving her life on Yavin 4. A short spacer's jacket, a slightly different blue than his trousers, over a white shirt with crossover lapels. In broad terms, it was the sort of thing his father might have worn, or any Corellian spacer, but the cut was more contemporary than most of Han's stuff, and the clothes were somehow definately Anakin's, as distinctive as the man himself taller than his father or his uncle, and more powerfully built than his brother, with that sand-panther agility that sometimes stumbled into awkwardness when he noticed it himself.
But less so these days, she thought.
"Oh," he said, glancing round at her, smiling as he laid down the reader on the table. Smoother, more adult, but still with the same charm. "Hi, Tahiri."
"Hi, yourself, hero boy," she grinned back, walking over towards him. "What's that you're reading?"
"Just newsfeeds," he answered. "Engineering stuff ...." He paused, frowned, rubbed his temples. "It's odd. I remember the past few years the end of the war, Zonama Sekot, Qoribu, Ossus. Jaya's wedding. But I can't really fix myself in it." A different frown. "As though I had a sort of point of awareness, but ...."
"I know what you mean," she agreed, sitting next to him, sliding his plate across the table to him. Smiling. "Eat up, and see if the hangover clears." Her heart seemed suddenly weightless, racing faster in zero-gee. She laid a hand on his wrist, saw the contrast between her slimmer hand and his work-trained fingers, her Sekotan tan and his spacer's complexion. "It's as though ... but we couldn't quite ...."
"Hangover, I think," he wrinkled, grinning at the fry-up on his plate, breathed deeply in gratitude. "That looks good, Tahiri. Thank you. Thank you. Just the way I like it." He turned the grin on her. "You've done this before ...."
"I had a feeling," she smiled gently. She turned, and looked up at him, and they drew closer, her hands linking around his neck, his arms enfolding her shoulders, gentle at first, then tight. "Did I get it right?"
"Perfect, just like always."
Silence, except for the answer and reply of their breath. His eyes had changed over the years, softened from ice-blue to ocean-grey, just like her once-flawless emeralds had grown flecked with gold and black. They could spend years just looking at each others' eyes, like watching the stars, or the tide, or just the world around them.v "We've been going out for more than ten years, haven't we?" It seemed to be his voice that spoke, but the words were in her mind as well, and she was sure that her lips moved with them. Their lips were very close. "All this time."
"Technically," she agreed. That was definately her. "We have, haven't we?"
Anakin grinned, and she grinned back, and they slid closer still.
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