Once A Warrior, Part XII Rating: PG

"That was you?" she asks, her eyes wide and bright as she looks at me, surprised by sudden recognition — another connection, another ton of questions.

"That was me," I say, and grin. There's a lot I've not explained yet — and a lot she wants me to tell her. It's felt like one of Dad's evasive patterns at time, just talking about it, but we're both enjoying this.

In the end, though, that has to wait for another time.

It is getting late, and she can't make excuses for ever. In this part of Coruscant, it's heading for sunrise.

I pat the floor beside me.

"Come over here and watch the dawn with me?" I suggest, and she smiles, and slinks round to join me — and for the first time in far too long, we wrap our arms around each other.

A little later, we stand together on the rooftop, looking out across the city in the morning light. I look at her, seeing the way her hair lifts slightly in the wind, the lean poise in the way she holds herself — the control.

"You planning on staying here?" she asks.

"Would you blame me if I did?" I say. "I like it here."

She smiles at that, something like a sigh. I didn't even notice the unspoken with you, but she heard it anyway.

"Anakin," she says.

"I know," I shrug. "Visit soon."

She doesn't answer. Her green eyes glint. She's trying not to cry.

We embrace. No kiss.

"Where are you going? Now, I mean."

"Zonama Sekot," she says. "For the time being, at least. Jabitha asked some of the Jedi to stay. They asked me — offered, rather. It makes a sort of sense, I guess. I don't know. Some of the others have already agreed. There'd be a place for you, you know, Anakin. You'd like it, I think."

I don't answer that. I'm not entirely sure I would.

Together, we look out at the jungle-clad cityscape, this place of accidental beauty created by the head-on collision of the worst that the Yuuzhan Vong and Galactic civilization have to offer.

Our shoulders rub.

"I might go. Don't know."

"This is home for you, I guess. Still."

"The Alliance will put it back. The way it was before."

"I didn't mind."

A pause. We can share the silence. It means we don't have to make any decisions.

I think about it, though. We discussed Zonama Sekot earlier, and I sensed her evasiveness. Tekli is going to be there. And Danni Quee. And Yal Phaath, and Niia.

And Tahiri. I didn't want to press her on that question, but I know that with a certainty that surprises me.

I look up at the faint stars veiled by the morning sky, and out across the gilt-edged cityscape, at the fading night fires of the settlements scattered amid the ruins.

After a while, with a parting whisper, she slips away.

"I have to go."

"I know."

It strikes me that she would have liked to have stayed here, with me. People can shut themselves of — from other people, and from parts of themselves.

So how do I square that with what's happened to me?

I look back at her, walking towards her runner. Controlled, beatuiful. Solitary.

I think back over all that's happened. Over all the years since I left — died — and over all the fun and craziness we had together before that.

Somehow, it all seems to hang together. I glimpse a truth that seems to combine the lopsidedness of a Solo grin, and the assymetry of the Yuuzhan Vong aesthetic.

I look back at her again, and I'm moving before I realise it.

She pauses on the ramp, looks back at me, then grins, and laughs.

"Anakin?" she asks, eyebrows shooting up in interrogation.

"Hang on a minute," I say. "I'll come with you."

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