Title: Mementos
Author: Wolfling (wolfling.msn@attcanada.net)
Rating: G
Pairing: Q/O implied
Spoilers: Some from the original trilogy, especially ROTJ
Summary: Luke is given a gift
Feedback: is gratefully accepted :)
Notes: I wrote this back in July last year for a zine (before Letters came and took over my life ), but as that has fallen through I'm posting it here. This is part of my Second Chance series; other stories in the series include Afterthoughts, Homecoming and Together. I do have plans to write a few more in this series, just don't know when I'll get around to writing them.

Mementos
By Wolfling

The strangest thing about being back on Tatooine, Luke mused as he maneuvered his rented landspeeder across the Jundland Wastes, was that it didn't feel strange at all.

So much had happened to him since he had last stepped foot on his homeworld that he realized he had expected this place to have changed as well. It was, perhaps, not the most realistic of expectations, but he had long since learned that feelings rarely yielded to logic or reality.

Despite his expectations, the Jundland Wastes remained exactly how he remembered them being the last time he had traveled this way: hot, barren, full of hidden dangers and hidden beauty.

Luke's lips turned up in a bittersweet smile. He had never expected to feel nostalgia for his home.

But then again the place he was heading for hadn't been *his* home, and had very little to do with his childhood. Except, maybe, he thought, being the place where it had begun to end.

He wasn't even sure why he felt the need to make this journey in the first place. He had come back to Tatooine to help rescue his friend Han from the gangster Jabba the Hutt. Their other friends were already figuring out ways of getting into the palace and getting out again with Han. So why this side trip to a place that may not even exist any more?

Leia had asked him just that and he hadn't been able to give her any real answer. All he could do was shrug and say he had to. He couldn't explain the wordless pull that had seized on him ever since he'd landed on the planet. He barely understood it himself. All he knew was that he had to follow it.

Luke steered his speeder expertly around a rock outcropping and suddenly there it was, looking none the worse for wear for its years of abandonment. At least from the outside. Though that wasn't too surprising considering how well built the small building was.

He parked the speeder in front of the dwelling, then got out and approached the door. Luke hesitated a moment before entering, but not because he feared any possible danger. Though perhaps he should've -- it was rare that an empty place wasn't picked over immediately by the desert scavengers and they were extremely hostile to any they perceived as possible competition. No, the reason Luke hesitated was that stepping through that door would feel like stepping into his past.

But he hadn't come this far to just turn back, so with a deep breath he entered the building.

The interior was dark and cool. Surprisingly, it didn't have that abandoned feeling that deserted places usually acquire after several years. It was empty but it didn't *feel* empty. It felt as if its owner had just stepped out and would be back any minute.

Even more surprising was the fact that the dwelling's contents appeared, at first glance, to be undisturbed.

Though, after a moment's thought, Luke decided that perhaps it wasn't all that surprising after all. Ben had worked hard at maintaining the sort of reputation among the sandpeople and other scavengers that made them place this dwelling off limits. Such a reputation, having been diligently maintained for two decades, would easily still carry its power after a few paltry years.

Luke moved further into the room, pausing for a moment at the repair bench in the corner. He ran his hands over the surface, covered now in dust, smiling a little as he remembered repairing C-3P0 here. He had been working on the droid when Ben had first told him of the Jedi Knights.

And of his father.

Luke's smile faded.

Almost viciously he pushed that thought away. That wasn't something he wanted to think about, not now. He knew he would eventually have to deal with what Vader had told him and why, if it was true, Ben had lied to him, but not yet.

Not until he had to.

To keep his mind off it, he moved through the rest of the room, investigating things at random. For all that this was the place he always pictured as being where his life began to change, he hadn't really looked it over all that closely the first -- and only -- time he'd been here.

That was understandable, he supposed. Between Leia's hologram message, the stories Ben had told him, and Ben himself, there had been more than enough other things to hold his attention.

Luke suddenly became aware as he moved through the room that whatever power had drawn him here hadn't released him, was, in fact, still tugging on him harder than before. Giving in and following its urging, he found himself kneeling before a large chest.

With a startled blink, he realized that it was the same chest that Ben had kept the lightsaber he'd given Luke in, the lightsaber he said had belonged to Luke's father.

The memory of the moment Ben had handed him the weapon still burned brightly in Luke's mind, though it now tasted bittersweet. He remembered how awed he had felt to hold something that had once belonged to his father. Now, he was unsure if it had even *been* his father's, and if it had, he wasn't sure that was something he could or should be proud of.

Nonetheless, the memory --and the weapon-- still had special meaning because it had been gifted to him by his first teacher, the man who had opened a whole new world up to him. A man who, even though he had died, was still watching over him.

Again Luke smiled, as he wondered if it was Ben who had led him here now.

Almost as if in response, the urging that had drawn him here grew even stronger, focusing entirely on the chest he was kneeling in front of.

"Okay," Luke murmured softly, and not without amusement. "I get the message. I'm to open the chest."

He felt a wave of startlement, followed closely by amused approval. Luke grinned and reached out for the chest's lid. He still wasn't sure if it was Ben who had led him here, but it was obviously *something* sentient.

The chest, not so surprisingly, was unlocked and opened smoothly, the years of disuse not seeming to have affected the mechanism. Luke pushed the lid up as far as it would go and looked inside.

It contained clothes. More of the comfortable robes that he had always seen Ben wearing. Nothing else was apparent in that first glance.

But the presence, or whatever-it-was, was still focused on the trunk so Luke began searching through the contents to see if there was anything other than clothes in there.

Near the bottom on the right side his hand hit something solid.

He got a grip on it and pulled it out.

It was a box, a little over a foot long and about half as wide and deep. It was wood, and appeared to be handmade by a master craftsman. It was colored a rich red-brown and polished to a satiny fine finish. Carved in relief on the lid were two letters, Q and O, intertwined.

It was beautiful, and probably quite valuable, but that wasn't the thing that caught and held Luke's attention. No, the thing Luke was drawn by was the emotional imprint the box carried.

He reached out with the Force and opened his senses to it more fully. Only to almost lose himself in the torrent of love, happiness, loss, grief, yearning, regret, pain... He slammed his shields shut before he could drown in the emotional storm.

With shaky hands, Luke set the box down on a nearby table, looking at it with new respect. It took powerful feelings to leave anything more than the faintest of emotional imprints; to leave one as strong as he had just felt...

He had no idea how long he stood there staring at the box, but eventually he once again began to feel a presence urging him forward. This time Luke thought he detected more than a hint of impatience in it.

Obeying the invisible summons, he once again reached out, this time keeping himself firmly shielded, and tried to open the box.

It was locked.

He sensed another wave of impatience, this time tinged with exasperation. There was a slight stirring in the Force, followed by an audible click.

When Luke tried the lid on the box a second time, it opened easily.

There were quite a few items inside. He felt encouraged to look through them, so he did.

It was an eclectic assortment, though he was sure that they all fit together in some way. It just wasn't readily apparent at first glance.

Slowly he pulled them out of the box and examined them one by one. A small, shiny black rock with streaks of red, worn smooth by some river, that pulsed in time with the Force around them. A handful of coins, each one different. A long, multicolored, slightly bedraggled feather. A lock of graying brown hair, held together in a hairclasp. A small stuffed toy dragon that "grrr"ed when you pressed its stomach. A dried pressed flower. Another piece of hair, this one more sandy-colored, held together in a long braid. A pair of small wooden carvings of two Jedi, both unfinished. All of the objects holding the same emotional imprint as the box itself.

Then there were the holos. There were quite a few of them, all of the same two men. They'd been taken over a period or years as the younger person in them grew from gawky adolescent into full-grown adult. Looking at the last few holos, Luke suddenly recognized the younger man as Ben. The sandy braid in the box belonged to him. The other, older man Luke didn't recognize, but it was apparent that it was somebody who'd been important to Ben. The other lock of hair was from this man.

There was only one other thing in the box: a lightsaber.

Luke pulled it out and held it up with a certain reverence. He'd lost his own in that horrible confrontation with Vader on Bespin, and the loss of the weapon had hurt almost as much as the loss of his hand.

The hand had been replaced easily enough by a bionic prosethis, but replacing the lightsaber hadn't proven to be so easy. He had attempted to build another one, but had been unable to find the proper kind of crystal to focus the power for the blade through.

He had just about resigned himself to being saberless for the foreseeable future. And now here he was holding one.

Depressing the power button, he watched as the bright green blade ignited. He tried a few test swings, checking the weapon's balance. It was perfect. In fact the lightsaber already felt like a part of him. Had, from the moment he'd touched it.

But it wasn't his.

A lightsaber wasn't like other weapons. Each was handmade, usually by the Jedi who wielded it. Luke's first weapon had been a gift, an inheritance, if not actually from his father, then at least from his teacher. That had made it his. But to pick up another's weapon, without either permission from or knowledge of the one who it had belonged to seemed the utmost in disrespect.

With a regretful sigh, he deactivated the lightsaber and set it back in the box.

Only to have it immediately fly back into his hand.

Frowning, Luke put the saber down again.

Again, it immediately flew back to his hand.

"You want me to take it?" Luke asked the unseen presence he'd been sensing all along.

Instantly, he felt waves of confirmation so emphatic he could almost hear the exasperated "Yes!" they seemed to imply.

Luke slowly nodded and attached the lightsaber to his belt; it felt *right* to have it hanging there. He accepted the weapon for what it was, a gift. "Thank you," he said softly.

He took the wave of approval as acknowledgment.

This was obviously why he'd been summoned here and now that he had the lightsaber in his possession, the silent compulsion had ceased. He was free to go.

First though, he carefully repacked the box, treating every item as if it was priceless, because he suspected, to Ben, each had been.

He paused as he was replacing the holos. "That's you, isn't it?" he asked, indicating the older man who he hadn't recognized.

He felt nothing from the presence he had been sensing but he was certain he was right.

Somehow it made the gift of the lightsaber mean even more.

Smiling, he went pack to repacking the box.

Just before he closed the lid, he felt another small stirring in the Force and one of the holos lifted from inside, hovering in front of Luke until he could grasp it.

He looked at it; it was the one he had hesitated over before. It depicted the two men caught in a moment of laughter, unmasked affection for each other shining in both of their eyes. It was a perfect moment frozen in time and just looking at it made Luke smile too.

"Thank you," he said again, slipping the holo into a pocket. Perhaps he would show it to Yoda when he returned to Dagobah and ask about the older Jedi who obviously had such a strong connection to Ben, at least ask who he was.

It didn't seem right that he didn't even know his benefactor's name.

Turning back to the box, he closed the lid and put it back in the trunk exactly where he had found it.

Closing the trunk lid, he stepped back and looked around the room one last time before leaving. Everything looked the way it had when he arrived, the way it had when he had left with Ben years ago.

Somehow that seemed right.

He turned and left, climbing into his landspeeder and starting back to where his friends were waiting and plotting. Already his mind was devising a plan to get Han and the rest of them out of Jabba's clutches safely. It wouldn't be easy, but they would do it.

His hand brushed against the hilt of the lightsaber clipped to his belt and he smiled. Yes, they would do it. The Force was with him after all.

And just maybe a couple of old Jedi as well.


END