Luke eased on the throttle of the rented speeder. The repulsor brakes stopped the vehicle in a spot where he had a wide view of his destination. How many times had he taken this same path? How many times had he been back here since...
The same tinge of regret formed inside of him whenever he thought of this place. Now the place was right in front of him. Why had it taken so long to come back? Luke could list several reasons in a heartbeat. He stared at it's form along the horizon. It was almost as if it were daring him to enter his past again. Home. His very first. He thought of why he left it. And how.
"Hey...Luke," beckoned the soft voice next to him in the passenger seat. The tone was so uncharacteristic of her. Usually, she would speak in her sarcastic or abrasive manner that was so common of her past. But that was before Niruan. Her future started after she accepted his unorthodox proposal. Ever since then, Luke Skywalker witnessed a softer side of Mara Jade.
She continued. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"No, I'm not," he replied without hesitation. "But, it's no longer a question of want. It's more of a need now."
"Sorry. I'm not one to relate. If I had the chance, Luke–"
"You don't seem as excited as you were on the way here."
He looked over at her. The twin suns were about to hibernate for the night and their yellowish haze made Mara's red-gold hair glow. "I sounded excited?"
"Oh, yes. You should have heard yourself. 'That's where me and Biggs stole a speeder. That ridge up there was where I almost crashed my T-16. Me and Camie got lost on the Dune Sea going that way.'"
"I was just telling you my adventures."
"Luke, I can detect when someone is reminiscing. You seem to have been living in the past ever since you planned this trip."
"Can you blame me?"
"Honestly, no. I don't even know where my home planet is. You've got one up on me, Skywalker."
"This isn't a contest, Mara."
"Then there's no reason why we can't get this over as quickly as possible." She leaped out of the speeder and held out her hand. "Come on, Mr Tatooine stuntman."
He held her hand as he got out of the speeder. The air was still heated despite the twin suns lowering into the horizon. Luke remarked, "It'll be dark soon. We should get in before that."
"You're the Tatooine expert."
He chose to ignore her and they proceeded toward the homestead. It was amazing to him how it didn't look any different from when he left it. Memories started to flood his mind as he approached the entrance. He remembered the spot where he and Threepio stood while Luke looked through his macro binoculars for signs of Artoo. He found the piece of ground where a hydrospanner landed when it was thrown in frustration at trying to repair his damaged T-16. As they entered through the garage, Luke remembered an argument that he and his Uncle Owen had there about buying a more expensive compression regulator for a South field vaporator. Mara followed him through the garage but stopped when he did.
He nodded his head in remembrance. "The same family landspeeder. Over there used to be where I kept mine before I sold it."
"You are having a slew of memories. Why did you ever leave?"
Luke went on and shrugged to answer casually, "I had to go save the galaxy."
"I had to ask."
They entered the utility room and Luke froze. He found the spot where he first laid eyes on Princess Leia Organa in hologram form.
Mara asked tongue in cheek, "What was this place? Is this where you brought all your girlfriends?"
"It's where I first saw my future sister. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen."
"I don't even want to know. Let's move on."
"Yes, we're almost there. Just across this walkway."
She followed him along the metal mesh of the catwalk overlooking the lower levels. Their boots clanged against the quiet of twilight. They finally reached the dining room and kitchen. It was the most brightly lit room they encountered so far.
Sitting at the far end of the dining table was an elderly man whose hardships had seemed to age him more than the years gone by. The beard and hair were now an ash gray. In front of him on the table was a cup of caf that he was nursing.
The memories that had filled Luke's mind since he had entered had come and gone. What replaced them was the strong feeling of regret.
The old man nodded to his new guests and muttered in his scruffy voice, "Luke."
Luke swallowed the pride he held for almost twenty years to finally say, "Hello, Uncle Owen."