Title: One Small Step Author: Ceillean Characters: Luke Skywalker, Ben Skywalker, OC Notes: Happy Holidays, Brianna! I hope you enjoy this. I've never written Ben Skywalker before and I hope I got his gloomy teenager side okay. Even though I read the few books with Ben, I thought they were so bad that I barely remember the characterisations. Here's your ficgift. I would like a story in Beyond with: 1. a holiday 2. an allergic reaction 3. a gift exchange I do not want: Vestara One Small Step “And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to my feet once again - so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.” ― Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II “Do I really have to go?” Ben made a face as he asked this and he didn’t care for a second that he sounded like a petulant child. “Because I’m sure there’s some world out there that needs saving. It’d be so much more satisfying beating up the bad guys.” But his Dad wasn’t having any of it. Sitting comfortably in his bantha hide chair with his booted feet atop his desk, Luke Skywalker looked at his son with an evil smile. “You’re going.” “But Dad –“ “I’m the Grand Master of the Order.” “Seriously? You’re pulling rank on me?” “No. What I’m saying is that the only son of the Grand Master cannot miss such an enormous opportunity to meet the wealthiest, most powerful beings of the core worlds.” He rolled his eyes before he continued in a more serious tone. “Imagine what your fellow Jedi would say. I’d soon face charges of favoritism if I allowed you to stay away while the others are forced to dance and mingle like characters out of a cheap fete week movie.” Ben blinked a few times as his fathers’ words settled in. “I thought you liked the winter ball.” “Son. Have you ever seen me on a dance floor? Voluntarily?” He shifted his gaze sideways towards the door behind Ben as if to make sure no one was listening. “If it were up to me I’d cancel this nonsense in a heartbeat.” He said in a barely audible whisper. “But it is up to you.” Ben said. “At least concerning the Jedi. As you’ve so eloquently pointed out, you’re the Grand Master of the Jedi Order.” “If it were only that easy.” Luke ran a hand across his face and heaved a tired, heavy sigh. And Ben had to honestly admit that his old man wasn’t looking all that well. The past few years had taken a heavy toll on him and it was showing. “This is political scheming at its best. The ball is for show as well as for getting points with the Senate and the immediate public. We have to be there.” Ben grimaced and even though his mind conjured up some really astral excuses he knew he couldn’t let his father down. Anyway, how bad could one evening really be? He narrowed his eyes though and jerked a finger at his father. “But I’m not wearing a tux.” Luke nodded. “That’s perfectly fine. Just be presentable.” “And I’m not dancing either.” Going back into petulant child mode, Ben folded his arms across his chest and left. * Standing amongst the crowd of very important people, Ben scowled at his father while he watched him animatedly chatting with one of the guests. A female guest whose laugh was almost as loud as the live band playing on the stage just behind him. He wasn’t upset that his father was obviously having a good time with another woman (at some point he realized that Luke would begin living his life again) but Ben was very much annoyed by the fact that there were hardly any Jedi at the winter ball. So much for the favoritism talk. He caught sight of Master Durron and his wife dancing closely together, oblivious to the world around them and Master Horn was having a little chat with a heavyset, wildly bearded man Ben didn’t know. Cilghal was standing away from the huge crowd holding a goblet in her huge hands while she listened to human Doctor (evident by the symbol of Coruscant Medical on his jacket) who was showing her something on a small hand held computer pad. Ben sighed and raised a single eyebrow as his father approached him, at his side the woman who seemed rather smitten. “Ben. You okay?” “Where’s Jaina?” Ben asked with a tight lipped smile. “Or Han and Leia? Where’s Jag for that matter? Being the Head of the Empire and all, shouldn’t he be here?” Luke shrugged. “Jag can’t make it. Jaina said something about a classified assignment.” Ben snorted. Classified assignment? Yeah right. “And Han and Leia are spending a few days alone, which they rightly deserve.” Luke’s tone shifted a notch, a little warning sign that Ben ought to watch his attitude. As he raised his blue eyes to meet those of his father, he realized that the only reason Luke wanted Ben to come along was because Luke didn’t want to have to face the crowd alone. Ben nodded, once, understanding. “Sorry.” Luke laid a hand on Ben’s shoulder and squeezed tightly. “Go and have fun, son. I can do this.” “Who’s your friend?” Ben asked a bit louder, catching the woman’s attention. She was pretty, as far as he could tell. Tall and lean and she seemed to favor the color blue. Her dress, something fancy he couldn’t even begin to describe, was tight around her body and her hair, dark blond with blue highlights, was pinned up into an intricate style at the back of her head. The smile she gave Ben was warm and friendly. “This is Rosa.” He extended a hand and she shook it firmly. “It’s nice to meet you, Ben.” Friendly chit chat ensued before Ben excused himself. His mood had dropped considerably and he didn’t want to ruin his fathers’ evening by being a smart ass. So he went in search for a serving droid and when he finally found one, grabbed the nearest drink he could find. Or so he thought. His fingers barely touched the flute of clear, sparkling champagne before the droid swiveled around to face him. “You are under age.” It said in a female voice, moving the tray out of Ben’s reach. “Perhaps I can interest you in a glass of redberry juice instead?” Mortified. It was the first word that jumped around his head as he declined in a quiet, subdued voice and watched the droid hover away, offering drinks to those within the correct age group. Absolutely mortified. “You should smile, little Skywalker. It suits you better.” Ben turned around to the new voice and raised his eyebrows. A young girl about his age stood before him and she looked very pretty in a long, flowing red dress that sparkled when she moved. Auburn hair was braided down her back, a simple yet elegant hair style and the jewelry she wore around her neck and wrists was simple but still lovely. He’d never seen her before, though. “Who’re you?” He asked, knowing he was being rude but he really didn’t care. Not after being offered redberry juice. “Kirby.” She extended a hand and he noticed silver rings on each of her fingers. “My Mom dragged me here against my will.” “I know the feeling.” Ben said with a little shrug. “I suppose it’s our lot in life, little Skywalker. We’re doomed to follow in our parents’ footsteps.” She grimaced, the cutest little wrinkle right above her nose. “That’s not a very nice thought, now is it?” “Depends. Who’s your Mom?” She gestured to the dance floor where a tall blond woman was dancing with one of the Senators. “As she put it, she’s getting it on with all the right people. To help her career.” Ben raised his brows. “Career?” “Well, there are a few renowned reporters mingling about, if you haven’t noticed. My Mom and a few very important politicians? It’ll make her look good. It’ll make her look like she actually cares about our government. Which is a flat out lie but if it works.” “What does your Mom do?” “She’s an actress.” “Really?” He shoved his hands into the pockets of his dressy pants. “Anyone I know?” Kirby shrugged, the fabric of her red dress swishing around her legs as she stepped closer. “Anyll Saxon.” Ben pursed his lips, trying to drag up at least a few bits and pieces of gossip but he found that he couldn’t. His teenage years hadn’t been spent in front of the holonet and he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d gone to see a movie like an ordinary teen. “Sorry.” He said a bit sheepishly. “Don’t worry about it. She’s not a Wynssa Starflare, that’s for sure. But she’s good. And maybe this’ll help her along, who knows?” Kirby beamed at him just as a serving unit passed by. She grabbed a glass of sparkling red wine. To Ben’s absolute dismay, Kirby wasn’t under age. “So, little Skywalker.” She said, downing her drink in one go. “You got a girlfriend?” * Ben followed Kirby to the outside balcony. A few dozen guests had already found their way towards fresh air and a cool evening. The view out here was spectacular but hardly as interesting as the young girl who kept smiling at him. “Didn’t answer my question, little Skywalker.” Ben sipped his redberry juice (claiming he just wasn’t in the mood for anything stronger). Even though, in a strange odd way, he liked Kirby, it truly annoyed him that she kept calling him “little”. “Will you stop that, please?” “Stop what?” “Little. I’m not little.” He caught himself blushing when Kirby looked him over from top to bottom. Her eyes lingered on his face where he knew his cheeks were on fire and then lowered slowly down his chest to the tips of his glossy shoes. “Nope. Guess you’re not.” A couple to their left laughed, which grabbed their attention momentarily. But not for long. Kirby smiled at him again. “Still doesn’t answer my question, though.” She went on. “There a girl waiting for you somewhere?” “Why?” “Why what?” “Why do you want to know?” “Conversation starter.” “Kind of a personal question, isn’t it?” Again, she shrugged. She did that a lot Ben noticed. “You don’t have to answer.” It was a cool night and the sky was clear, with hundreds of ships zig-zagging underneath the unseen stars. Ben knew most of the constellations, even though he couldn’t see them but he knew they were there, just like he knew that he could fly a ship with his eyes closed. He knew a lot of things, like how to build a lightsaber or how to influence a simple minded person. He even knew how to get his uncle Han to do what he wanted without having to use the Force on him. But he didn’t know the least about girls. For the first time in his life, he was pretty much out of his comfort zone. Clueless. “I don’t have a girlfriend.” Ben eventually said. “Why not?” “Just because. Life just gets in the way.” As he said this, he thought about everything that had happened in the past couple of years. The losses he had to endure, the inner conflict, the hurt and pain. He took a deep, steadying breath and forced a smile as Kirby inched closer.Just a little but it was enough. He could feel the warmth radiating off her slender body. “Do you want a girlfriend?” “Maybe someday.” Ben answered honestly. “When things calm down.” Kirby nodded as if understanding. “Yeah. Same here. Maybe when I’m a famous actress like my Mom I’ll find myself an attractive young man. Although I’d rather be in a band.” “You like music.” “I live for music, little Skywalker.” Ben scowled at her which earned him a lovely laugh. “I’ll be the next best thing. I’ll be a singer and tour the universe. First little clubs and then the big stuff. The fans will love me and I’ll be on the front pages of every music ‘zine there is.” Ben didn’t comment. He was a realist whereas Kirby was obviously the dreamer. But he enjoyed how her eyes twinkled in the near dark while she told him about her dreams. He liked the way her voice changed, how she used her bejeweled hands to emphasize the importance of becoming a star. “I wouldn’t want to do it for the money, though.” She said, staring up into the sky above. “I don’t care about being rich. I care about people listening to what I have to say. And everyone listens to music. It’s the best way to go.” “Sounds like a plan to me.” Ben said. But Kirby waved it away with a light laugh. “It’s just a stupid dream, that’s all.” “No, it isn’t.” He faced her with that half smile he’d picked up from Han. “You can make it real.” “Maybe.” “There’s no maybe about it. Just do it. What’s stopping you?” A long pause ensued while she stared out into the darkness. Ben wondered what was going through her mind. Had she suffered hardships just like him? Had she lost someone just like him? “Nothing.” She eventually answered. “Then do it.” Kirby lifted her eyes to meet his and her smile was genuinely kind and caring. “Thank you, Ben. For listening to my nonsense.” “It’s not nonsense if you believe in it, Kirby.” “Yeah.” Again that shrug. “Maybe. Thanks anyway. For listening.” She worried her lower lip, careful little bites with her front teeth. To his surprise, Kirby reached up to her neck and unfastened the necklace she wore. She handed it to him, a dark ruby red pendant shaped like a drop. “Here.” "What's this?" “For being nice to me.” “I can’t take this.” Ben said as she took his hand, dropped it and closed his fingers around it. . “It’s not for keeps. Just hold on to it. For a little while.” “But –“ “And when I’m famous, I’ll come back and get it. I’ll write a song about you. It’ll be a bestseller.” Ben smiled. She seemed so innocent, almost naïve but when he looked into her eyes, he knew it was only a façade. There was so much more to Kirby. “Under one condition only.” He said. “And what’s that?” “Don’t you dare call me little Skywalker.” * Later that night, Ben sat on the sofa of the living quarters he shared with his Dad. His shoes lay in one corner of the room, his jacket was draped over a chair. He held Kirby’s gift in one hand, running a finger along the cool red gem stone. Eventually, she’d said good-bye and left. But she left him with a kiss on his cheek which would follow him for days to come. A fascinating person. Someone he was likely never going to see again. “You okay?” Luke asked as he entered from the fresher. Freshly showered and dressed in pajama bottoms, Luke sat next to his son with a worry frown on his forehead. “I’m fine, Dad.” “You’re a really bad liar.” Ben smiled. “How was your evening? Did it go well with Rosa?” He noticed how Luke looked at the pendant and quickly hid the piece of jewelry in his fist. And then he smiled at his Dad, waiting for an answer. “It went well. We talked. Had a few drinks. And then she left.” “You going to see her again?” “No.” The answer was quick, too quick almost. He didn’t have to think about it. The answer was right there, waiting to be plucked from the air. “No.” Luke said again, more softly. But Ben understood. Yes, life went on. But not yet. Not when it still hurt. “I saw you with that girl.” Luke said, not even trying to hide his smile. “You were enjoying yourself.” Ben shrugged. “Maybe.” “You laughed about something she said. Haven’t seen you laugh in a while.” “Guess so.” He held up the pendant dangling from its golden chain. It swayed from side to side. “Her name is Kirby. And…yeah. She’s definitely something else.” And he thought of Kirby and her smile and her wonderful dream of becoming a star. ***** As you can tell, I didn't use "allergic reaction". I really had no idea how to fit it into the story. Still hope you enjoyed it.