Life On the Edge
Part Eight

Rating: PG-13

Epilogue: nine months later

There's a boy standing at the bottom of the boarding-ramp. He's human, with hair the colour of Hapan gold, and eyes that might be sky-blue or sea-green. His hands are on his hips, his chin tipped up as though he's the one in charge here.

In Chak's experience, kids that age tend to have no real idea of the way the Galaxy works, and there's nothing about this particular young man to suggest he's any different from the rest — but the Wookiee pirate remembers when he was just as young, and there's a part of him, beneath cold experience, hard muscle, and thick fur, that's grateful he's never quite lost touch with the child he used to be.

"I'm looking for the Captain," the boy says, and his Coruscanti accent really doesn't help the impression he's giving off. "I'd like to join the crew."

A growl of dismissal rises in Chak's throat, inflected with a note of wary curiosity. He's pretty sure the boy isn't looking for Captain Verdy or the Barefoot Princess. That means he already knows too much, but it also means he's found out, somehow — and they'll want to find out how he did that.

"That's okay, Chak," a calm voice says, and the Wookiee turns to see the ship's real Captain, leaning against the bulkhead with a lazy, happy smile on his face. He's wearing his second-best breeches, a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, open at the collar. He shifts his weight, and leans round so he can see the kid more clearly. "Hey, Ben. So you ran away to space, huh?"

"Yeah," the boy nods, striding up the ramp. "You wouldn't believe the stuff that goes on." His dunnage-bag drops on the deck-plating. "Just as well I found you guys. I wasn't wanting to use my lightsaber too often ..."

Chak growls uncertainly, and there's a twitch in the Captain's lip that says he'd like to yell at him — just not today.

"This is Ben Skywalker," he says, with a glance to Chak to keep his mouth shut. "He's family. Come aboard, kid."

"I, uhh, already did."

Han laughs, and wraps an avuncular arm around the boy's shoulders. "Tahiri said you'd be here. Everyone's in the forward hold."

Ben nods as though he understands, but he looks thoughtful — as though there's something he's trying to work out, something about this situation that he doesn't quite get. But even so, he lets his uncle guide him forward round the corridor, as though he's on autopilot while his mind works.

"Hey everyone," Han calls. "Look what I found chewing on the power-lines."

Everyone turns as they walk in through the hatch, and Ben stops dead in his tracks. His mother greets him with a silent, dangerous smirk — and for a moment, he looks very afraid.

"Um. Hey, Mom," he says — meekly; weakly.

But on a day like this, that's never going to last for long.

Chak watches as the boy takes in the big group of people gathered in front of him — friends, crew, family. Eventually, his gaze settles on the blonde woman sitting on the improvised bed beside the bulkhead. Her smile is bright enough to light up the sky, the scars on her forehead are gleaming with hard-won happiness, and the white-wrapped bundle sleeping in her arms is perfect like a newborn star.

Eventually, the kid tears his eyes away and looks at up his uncle, an expression of awe on his face — and something very similar shines in the Captain's face, as he gazes at his newborn son, sleeping in his young wife's arms.

Chak is smiling, too, baring his bright fangs in a Wookiee grin. He's always had a soft spot for humans, newborn cubs, and unlikely partnerships — and the combination of all three is pretty close to irresistible.

"Ben Skywalker," the captain of the Millennium Falcon says, ruffling his nephew's hair. "Meet Han Solo, Junior. The latest addition to the family."

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