Original characters are my creations; the rest belongs to Lucasfilm Ltd. and the Disney Corporation. The SJRS Challenge Requirements were the following: the fic must include horrible weather, the phrase "Do you remember when...", a holiday tradition/event that is unique to your family, and a reference to something that has happened to you this past year. And just a few more things before we start. This story is based on an alternate universe I've spent many years creating. It takes place within that timeline of my own personal headcanon, in which Luke was married and widowed with a daughter (‘Aislin’) prior to marrying Mara. You won’t need to know more than that to understand this story. Because of the extremity of this AU, Luke and Mara’s son is named ‘Brennan’ rather than the frequently used ‘Ben.’ If it helps you to stay engaged with the story to call him ‘Ben,’ feel free to do so. He would probably have been so-named if not for the aforementioned other reasons. Don’t like Mara? That’s okay, too. Pick another character, another name. ‘First Night’ is my own invention, as a kind of ‘kick-off’ evening for New Year’s Fete Week. If you’ve made it this far into the notes, you haven’t back-buttoned out yet, you read the story, and would like to know more about my version of the GFFA, feel free to send me a PM. Lastly, muchas gracias to my dear friends @ginchy and salander-jade for the beta, pom-pom waving, and idea tossing. If there are any errors, the blame is solely on me. This is my first fic on TFN in at least 13 years. I hope that you enjoy... The Best First Night The outline of a lone figure stood on his main-level balcony watching the falling snow, a braid of honey-hued hair the only color in her dark silhouette. Luke smiled, and threw his jacket on a nearby chair. “Aislin! You're early.” His daughter turned with a responding grin and rushed to him for a hug. Now all of thirty – grown up with a life of her own – they went months without seeing her, but every time she came home he felt renewed by her presence. From a ginger-haired teen to a golden-curled adult, with his eyes and her mother's smile, a hearty laugh that matched her dry humor, and a quiet intelligence and wisdom borne out of her younger, more turbulent days, she remained, as always, his first-born source of pride. “I had some dissertation interviews scheduled a couple of systems over,” she began as she pulled slightly out of the hug. “And I wanted to access the Senate library before everything shut down for Fete, so I came straight here after I was done there. I hope you don't mind that I let myself in.” “Of course not!” Luke shook his head and ushered her over to one of the long couches in the sitting area, brushing a hand against a tall lamp to brighten the room. “But you’re alone? Is everything all right?” Aislin sighed as he sat, and said, “Yes, Dad, everything's fine. There was a snowstorm at home that put all the spaceports on groundstop until the morning, but Meka will be here tomorrow.” He watched as her cheeks flushed just to mention her young man's name, a soft nervous twinkle in her eye at admitting he would be joining her for Fete. He glanced away, sensing her embarrassment. She coughed before recovering. “Brenn coming tonight?” “Supposedly,” Luke said. “Mara's due in just after 1900, and said she's planning to meet him on her way, but you never know with your brother.” It grew quiet, the silence stretching out between them like a gentle wave. Aislin drew her knees up against her chest and chuckled lowly. “So it's just you and me for now, huh?” she asked. Luke felt his eyebrows rise up in what he knew she'd call his inquisitive and professorial position. “Problem?” Again, she smiled, this time looking a bit wistful. “Just remembering the days when you and I couldn't be in the same room with each other, alone, for more than a few minutes without some drama or another,” she said. “You were twelve –” he scoffed. “And fifteen...” “And eighteen. We've come a long way since then.” Aislin's hand slipped over to his and squeezed. “We have.” That was the end of that. Gone were the days when talking about the past would evolve into an hours-long discussion of people and events they'd long ago accepted and made peace with, including each other. This many years later, they'd arrived at a point where they could joke about their collective history without provocation and conflict. It had taken work and time, but he now felt their bond to be unbreakable. And that was always a cause for celebration. “Why don’t we go down to the diner, get something to eat, and wait for Mara, like we used to? We can continue to catch up and you can tell me more about your project.” “That sounds great, Dad. Let me get my coat.” Jumping from couch, she darted up the stairs to her room. He rose to put on his own jacket, and stood in front of the mantle, gazing at the collection of family holos they'd amassed over the years. From infancy to adulthood, every stage of his children's lives had been documented and were displayed proudly for him to look back on. His eyes stilled on one of Aislin, just a year old and on her mother's knee. His late wife smiled down at her baby and then up at him, her mouth a mirror image of their daughter's. “Oh, I like that one,” Aislin said, interrupting his contemplation. “But I have another one you might like, too.” Luke turned, and saw that she held in her hand a holo straight out of a time capsule. He and Aislin's mother, Taria, elegantly dressed in Fete week finery, smiled bashfully for whoever had taken the image. To his left, equally elegant and trying her best not to smile, stood Mara, his wife and his love of over twenty years. “Where did you find this?” he asked, a bit breathless. Aislin took advantage of his opened palm and placed the disc in his hand. “In the Senate library. I got distracted and went digging, just for the hell of it, and there it was. I can't believe I'd never found it before.” He turned the disc in his hand, watching as their figures danced with the motion of the holo's base. “I remember this night,” he began. “We'd only just gotten married a few months prior, and your aunt recalled us to Coruscant for...whatever this gala was. Festival of Light Fete week, maybe? But we spent the majority of the party in a corner by ourselves or with the Rogues and their dates. I feel like everyone was there.” “Including Mara, obviously,” Aislin added. Then, quietly, she said, “They look beautiful, and you and Mother look happy.” Luke nodded. “That they do, and yes, we were.” He felt her eyes shining with love as he placed the new image on the mantle with the others. A wave of affection flowed from her through the Force as she took his arm and they departed the apartment. * * * * * A single plate of spiced krulloons sat barely-eaten between them, thanks to their non-stop chatter. A tradition they'd begun shortly after Aislin's eighteenth birthday, whenever either of them had felt the need to connect with each other they came to the Spindlefooted Pirate, an old-fashioned greasy diner near the spaceport that docked their ships. It had always been one of her favorites, and it had become one of his. “…that’s when I realized that my original angle wasn’t going to work, so I had to scrap what I had written and start over again,” Aislin was saying. “I didn’t have to restart from the very beginning, thankfully, or that would have been two years of research down the tubes, but it’s been a long few months.” “Will you still finish on schedule?” he asked. She shrugged. “I hope to. I finished a draft last week, and my interviews were just some follow-ups I had already scheduled, but I didn’t want to cancel them. It doesn’t hurt to have more data anyway. We’ll see when I get back from holiday. My advisor should have comments by then.” Watching as Aislin downed her third cup of hot chocolate, Luke found himself again distracted not by any outside object or scene, but by Aislin's own internal light that imbued her words. Everything about her spirit was bright and clear, made so by her enthusiasm for each topic she discussed. “You know if you keep this up, and Leia will be desperate for you to enter politics,” he offered. The young woman's eyes rolled back as she barked out a throaty laugh. “No. Studying it in parallel to my work has been quite enough. As an advisor in my capacity as a Jedi, sure. But full time? As a career? Absolutely not,” she said. The waiter came to clear their table, and as Aislin rifled through her small bag for her cred chip to pay the bill, Luke asked, “And Meka? I hear he’s been getting more involved of late.” “Dad,” Aislin drawled, inserting the chip into the table's interface and clearing their account. “Don't believe everything you read. He is more involved, but he insists he’s strictly volunteering. His focus remains what it’s always been.” Together they slid out from the booth and slipped on their coats. His backed ached slightly from sitting for the last couple of hours, a sign of age, he thought ruefully. Or perhaps the weather. Over the course of their meal, the rate of snowfall had increased rapidly. With a hand on Aislin's back, Luke led her to the door and started down the busy street in the direction of the port and their family hangar. When he noticed that she wasn't in step with him, he turned back to see her stopped and staring at the snow glittering in the bright city lights as it fell around and into her golden hair. “It looks like Meka sent the storm on ahead of him,” he said. Aislin grinned, and pulled up the hood of her heavy jacket. Yes, he decided. That smile told him everything he needed to know. She'd grown into the kind of adult he, and her mother – both of them, had always hoped she'd be. Overcome, he pulled her into another hug and squeezed until she giggled. “You seem happy, Ais.” “Thanks, Daddy. I am,” she whispered. “Come on. Let's go meet Mara.” * * * * * A hug and kiss from his wife later, and Luke watched as Mara and Aislin embraced at the foot of the Jade Shadow's ramp. “I'm so glad you're here,” Mara was saying as she released her. “Me too, Mom,” Aislin said. His daughter reached to help with Mara's bags, but Mara quickly yanked her upright into a tight grip. “Wait a minute. Why are you alone? Where’s –?” Aislin shook her head. “He's getting in tomorrow. There was bad weather at home. Everything’s fine, I promise.” Mara brushed a stray silver curl from her face and huffed her acknowledgment. “He’ll be in with your brother, then. Brenn commed to tell me he was delayed at school, but promised he’d arrive in time for dinner tomorrow.” Then, with a teasing twinkle in her look towards him, Mara added, “And you’re not the only one bringing company this year, Ais. He mentioned something about a ‘friend.’” Luke groaned as he took one of Mara's other bags and stepped to Aislin's side. “I wonder how long this one will last,” his daughter snickered. “Aislin!” Mara hissed as she closed up the ramp and secured the locks to the Shadow. “Oh come on, it’s my duty as his sister to tease!” Mara simply rolled her eyes and took Aislin's arm. Luke took Aislin’s other and together, they made for the exit and their speeder. “Besides,” Aislin said. “You know I'm right.” They departed, laughing. * * * * * As First Night’s went, Luke could remember few other better ones. As everyone gathered in the Solo family room around Han’s ragged old card table for the traditional sabacc game, Luke glance around at each person gathered. From his sister and Han, their children and families; to Winter and Tycho and theirs; and to his own. Mara, looking lovely as she helped Han card-shark everyone at the table. Brennan and his new…companion of the moment…Gilina, a polite and charming university classmate of his, who smiled easily and giggled at all of his inane jokes. And Aislin, quietly instructing Meka on the rules of the game, comfortable and unafraid to show everyone their closeness. Luke met the young man’s eyes over his cards. He said nothing, merely gave a nod of reassurance at the blushing boy whose face now matched his russet hair. Slowly, the entire table folded their hands until only Aislin and Brennan remained. “Hey Brenn, do you remember the time when Dad took us to the amusement park?” Aislin asked, tossing a wink his way and tossing a chip into the pot. Brenn met her wager and drew two new cards from the deck. “We did that lots of times, Ais,” he grumbled. “It’s practically a family tradition during Fete Week. Speaking of, Dad, when are we going?” “Yeah, but there was this one time,” Aislin said before he could answer. She paused to meet her brother's eyes, her lips turning up slightly into a grin. She tossed another chip into the pot. “The first time Brenn realized that Dad’s hand was...not real.” Everyone chuckled as Brenn's face tightened. His eyes narrowed on his cards before snapping, “Aislin. Call.” She smiled again, and continued as if he'd said nothing. “The signs for this one ride said something like ‘All prosthetics must be removed for the duration of the ride.’ So Dad very nonchalantly unclipped his hand and put it in his lap,” she said, her voice even and calm. She drew her hands and cards slowly up her chest, and then, with a flourish, said, “And you should have seen Brenn’s face. He just looked at Dad, beside himself, and went ‘Daddy?’” With a hard thwap, Aislin slammed her winning hand down on the table. Brennan leapt up from his seat. “You’re so dead,” he said, tossing his cards at her. A laughing Aislin grabbed Meka’s hand and ran from the room, Brenn and Gilina giving chase down the hall. He could hear his son yelling for his sister and banging on a door, followed by yells of “I'm older!” and “But I'm taller!” A few minutes later, Brenn and the girl returned, marched straight for their coats and gloves, and stepped onto the terrace. The next thing Luke heard was Aislin’s distinct scream, and he knew the snowball fight had begun in earnest. The room instantly became a flurry of activity as all the children and their parents scurried to get in on the action. Luke turned to the remaining adults – his sister, her husband, and his wife – and asked, “Do you remember when we all thought they’d eventually grow out of this stage?” Mara smiled. “We were wrong.” With another glance to the terrace, now a tangle of cousins, significant others, and children, Luke reached for Mara’s hand and slipped an arm around her waist. As Aislin and Meka reentered the scene by jumping from an adjoining balcony, dumping armfuls of snow onto Brennan and the others, Luke caught a glimpse of his daughter’s newly adorned hand, wrapped as it was around the arm of the man who held her away from Brenn’s retaliatory assault. While Luke would later wonder at Meka’s timing, he couldn’t deny the glow on their faces as they laughed and shrieked even as they were pelted with snow. Beside him, Mara gasped. Then, as if hearing her, Aislin looked their way and smiled. Yes, she had told him, she was happy. They all were. Luke couldn’t imagine a better First Night of Fete Week.