Part 3: The Arms of the Family Rating: PG
"Hey, kid," his father said, lifting his head out of the gap in the Falcon's plating they'd been peering down together. "Can you pass me your old multi-tool? I keep it ..."
"Got it, dad," Anakin grinned, scrambling away quickly, crabwise over the hull. "In the kitbox with the hydro-drivers. You don't want my roto-screw while you're at it? If that's the magnetic baffle you're planning on working on ..."
"That funny old driver with the pistol grip and gauge?" Han asked. "Is that what that is?"
"Mm-hmm," he nodded, snapping both tools together in his hand, and circling round and up to join his father. "I think I picked it up when we were at Eclipse."
"But it might have been when you were dead?" Han Solo pulled a familiar face.
"After I died," Anakin nodded in reply, his voice quiet. "There is a difference. Um, at least, I think there is ..."
"Jedi," Han said, shaking his head, chuckling softly, then reaching out to take the tools. He experimented with a smile. "Thanks, kid. I shoulda known what I was in for when I married the Force."
His head disappeared back into the hatch.
"Hey," Anakin reminded him, with a quiet smile. "I'm your son too, remember?"
"Heh," came back the answer. "There is that. I just need to look at Tahiri to see that."
Anakin waited for a moment, smiling a little, then began to back down across the hull, to find something else to do. When Han was lost in the intricacies of the Falcon's equipment, words just got in the way.
He paused after a few movements, aware of a silence behind him that was more than simply an absence of noise.
Han seemed to sense it to, because he pulled out of the equipment well again, and looked straight past him.
Anakin turned, and glanced back over his shoulder.
"Oh?" he asked.
Three people were standing on the landing-pad deck beside the docking bay a man, a woman, and an eleven-year-old boy, craning their heads at matching angles.
"Solo," the woman asked, with a confidence that didn't quite hide the shake in her voice. "Shouldn't you be dead?"
"Hi, Aunt Mara," he grinned, rolling over onto his buttocks and scrambling down to sit on the edge of the hull. "Uncle Luke, Bennie. And, um, no. I don't think I should."
He slipped off his perch, and landed with a thud on the ground, pulling himself up and dusting off the thighs of his breeches. They were looking at him, slightly perplexed, but he just grinned, and started over to them.
"He wanted it to be a surprise," his father called out, climbing down the ladder behind him. "I thought he should have commed to say ..."
"Anakin," Luke Skywalker breathed, sticking his hand out in greeting. It was formal, but it seemed appropriate, though Anakin wasn't quite sure why. "This is ... a miracle of the Force."
"Maybe," he answered, caution in his voice tha belied his shrug and smile. "It's good to see you again, though, Uncle Luke."
"Yes," Luke nodded. "It is. It is."
Aunt Mara just siezed him in a hug, tight and fierce, a whispered welcome-home in his ear before they broke apart.
"It's good to see you both," he managed, grinning from her to him, then dropping into a crouch to their eleven-year-old son.
"Hi, Bennie," he grinned. "It's been a while."
"You were the ghostie-man," Ben blinked. "When I was little. Wow."
Anakin glanced up, trying to apologize, trying to explain.
"Bennie?" Mara asked.
"I told you he was real," Ben said, fists on hips, all his mother's smugness in the upward tip of his chin. But his eyes showed only pride, and no hatred, no anger. "You never believed me!"
"Ben?" Luke asked. "Mara?"
"At Sanctuary," she answered, looking flustered now, her eyes flashing from her husband to Han, back down to them. "Ben said, he said ... I told him to forget about it. Told him it wasn't real."
"I know," Anakin said, a forgiving grin dancing on his face. "I was there, remember?"
Mara put her hand to her mouth in a sudden gasp, then shook her head. Cautiously, Anakin stood, and moved away from Ben.
"This ... would have been about the time Ben started withdrawing from the Force?" Luke asked, his words coming out very slow.
"I didn't know," Mara said, and lifted her eyes to him, bright with guilt now. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"It's okay," Anakin said. "Really, it is. It's good to see you all again." His gaze shifted. "Especially you, Uncle Luke."
"We have a lot to talk about," Luke said. "Anakin, with your permission, I'd like ..."
In answer, Anakin held up his hand, turning Luke's words away.
"I'm not so sure," he said. "I haven't carried a lightsaber in a while." His chin came back up, and he looked at them. A grin spread his face wide again. "I don't think I can or should. But it is good to see you all again."
"Good enough for me," Mara nodded, with a mischevious smirk. "Husband?"
Anakin flashed his eyes to Uncle Luke not piercing, not intense, but enough confidence and challenge that he saw Luke Skywalker yield in front of his eyes.
"We'll talk later," Luke conceded, a slight murmur in his voice. "Count on it."
For a moment, silence wavered the awkward geometry of a conversation with nowhere to go.
"Come on, kids," Han said, appearing between him and Luke, clapping them both on the shoulders. "You're just in time for lunch. Ben, run ahead and tell Aunt Leia and Aunt Tahiri who's here."
"On you go," Mara nodded.
Ben answered by to leaping attention, and flashing Han a tip-salute, then racing off for the ramp.
"Good kid," Han grinned, with a glance at Luke.
"Don't you have a Falcon to fix, Solo?" Mara asked, as he began to steer them all inside. "We weren't planning ..."
"She's fixed enough to eat a meal off," Han answered. "Come on."
Mara lifted an eyebrow, mugging disbelief.
"I'll hold you to that when coolant starts dripping on the table," she grinned.
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