Title: Messages from a Mos Espa Love Story Author: devilinthedetails Characters: Shmi Skywalker; Cliegg Lars; Owen Lars; Watto Genre: Romance, Family, General Timeline: Saga-PT. Set between TPM and AOTC. Summary: The evolution of Shmi and Cliegg's love as shown in the messages they send each other. Author's Note: Written for the OTP Challenge #14: Love Letter Exchange. Messages from a Mos Espa Love Story Shmi, I hope this message reaches you and that you didn’t give me an invalid or made up number when I asked for your comm information back in Watto’s shop. I suppose that if it is an invalid or made up number it’ll end up getting lost in some invisible comm void or find it’s way into the hands of some confused stranger who never met a Shmi or a Cliegg. In the case that this message has reached you, I hope you aren’t too surprised by my contacting you. I really did feel an instant connection to you from the moment our eyes met, and I enjoyed every second of our conversation even though I’d be hard-pressed to remember exactly what you told me about the power converters I needed to repair my moisture farm equipment. How I felt when you met my eyes for the first time reminded me of how I felt when I met my late wife Aika. I don’t bring up my lost Aika to depress you or me, but just to make it clear that I’m free to engage in an honorable relationship with you should you so desire. When I asked for your comm information, I noticed that your gaze drifted downward to the wedding band on my finger, but I want you to understand that ring was not put there by anyone still among the living. I respect Aika’s memory, but I’m free to engage in a relationship with another living woman if that living woman is willing. I hope that you’ll consider contacting me and that I haven’t put you off with my bluntness. -Cliegg Cliegg, I got your message. I didn’t give you an invalid or invented number. I did enjoy our conversation, which is why I gave you my correct comm number, but I’m not sure that we can ever be anything more than friends. While you might be a free man, I’m bound to Watto. As a slave, I’m not free to give my heart to any man. I’ll be happy to see you again if you come into Mos Espa, but I can’t promise anything more than that. -Shmi Shmi, I’ll be heading into Mos Espa two days from now with my son Owen to sell some of the moisture we harvested. When your work is done for the day, would you like to meet my son and me for dinner? My treat. -Cliegg Cliegg, I’d like that very much, thank you! I didn’t know you had a son. This is the first time you’ve mentioned him to me. How wonderful. I look forward to meeting him and to seeing you again. -Shmi Shmi, We’ll wait for you outside Watto’s shop then. Owen will be on his best behavior, I promise. I can’t wait to see you again. -Cliegg Dear Cliegg, Dinner last night was delightful, and I will remember it for the rest of my life. I won’t remember what I ate or drank because none of that was important compared to being with you and Owen. I felt like I was enjoying a family dinner for the first time in more years than I want to think about...Owen especially reminded me of my long gone son Anakin. I don’t know if you’ll ever know how much simple joy you and Owen brought to my life last night, but from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for it. Warmly, Shmi Dear Shmi, I’m glad beyond words that you enjoyed dinner with my son and me. We are plain desert folks and can’t offer much, but I did hope we could make you happy, brightening your life like the twin suns in the sky. (Forgive me for trying to be poetic. I won’t attempt it again since it came out so clumsy, but the sentiment remains, so I’ll keep the phrase.) I’m sorry to hear of your long gone son. From Aika, I know the pain of loss. Was Anakin sold away from you? (Sorry if the question rubs salt in an old wound. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.) With all the feelings I can’t find words for, Cliegg Dear Cliegg, Thank you for asking about my Anakin. It always warms my heart to talk about him even if the memory of losing him also makes my heart break. Watto lost him in a Podrace bet with a Jedi (Watto will still swear to this day that he was swindled out of the most valuable slave he ever owned because Anakin was so gifted with mechanics and had reflexes sharp enough to race Pods). Now he is training to be a Jedi. He was in my life for such a short time, but I will remember him forever. How is your own son doing? Hoping you and Owen are well, Shmi Dear Shmi, Owen is going through a stage that I can only describe as stubborn. He keeps nagging me to let him buy a speeder bike so he can race around the dunes with his friends using the money he earned helping me with the harvest. Then when I refuse, pointing out how dangerous it is to go racing around the dunes, he sulks and conveniently forgets to do his chores around the farm. I’ve about had it up to my neck with him and frankly am on the verge of wringing his neck. Perhaps a mother would have a gentler insight and perspective on a stubborn son? Holding my hands in the air helplessly and eager for a mother’s viewpoint, Cliegg Dear Cliegg, I understand your worries about your son. Part of me died every time that Anakin raced, but even more of me would have died if I hadn’t let Anakin be himself–be as free as he could be–and follow his dreams of racing. Perhaps just let your son buy the speeder he so desperately wants. Then you can at least set restrictions on how much, when, and where he flies it. If you don’t let him buy the speeder, he may sneak behind your back, borrowing a friend’s speeder, and then you’ll have lost control entirely. Sometimes we have to be guided by our sons as much as we guide them, I think. More than that, I believe that you’ll find a way to raise Owen right no matter what you decide to do. He may be in a stubborn, reckless stage now, but in a few short years, I’m sure he’ll have grown into a steady man to make you proud. Aware that you don’t actually need my advice but just my faith and reassurance, Shmi Dear Shmi, I have decided to allow Owen the opportunity to purchase a speeder bike with the money he earned last harvest. This has raised me in his eyes from the worst father on Tatooine to the best father on Tatooine. Since I’m currently the best father on Tatooine, he agreed to follow all my rules about speeder bike use. It is remarkable how obliging he can be when he isn’t busy being stubborn. Owen and I will be in Mos Espa at the end of the week to buy his new speeder bike. Would you care to join us for dinner again? Beginning to believe I might be the best father on Tatooine thanks to you, Cliegg Dear Cliegg, Of course I’d enjoy a dinner with you and your suddenly not-so-stubborn son. Looking forward to seeing you again, Shmi Dear Shmi, I didn’t want to bring it up at dinner last night because it tightened my throat too much whenever I even thought of mentioning it, but I heard rumors in the Mos Espa streets when Owen and I were going from shop to shop, evaluating the speeder bike options, rumors that your owner Watto was in serious financial straits from excessive, ill-advised gambling. Are these rumors true? How deeply is your owner buried in debt, Shmi? Please be honest with me because I’m breathless with worry about you, Cliegg Dear Cliegg, I’ll never lie to you even if I might put a bright face on the harsh truth until you ask for it. The harsh truth is Watto is so deeply in debt that he is going to have to sell me. He says it’s just business but he’ll try to sell me to a good owner. He has nothing personal against me, he says. Being honest as ever, Shmi Dear Shmi, I’m going to fly to Mos Espa now to purchase you. I won’t make you my slave. I’ll free you right away. Then your future will be your own to decide what to do with–if you want to make your own way in the world, I’ll give you money to start you on your path, but if you want to live on my farm with Owen and me, there’s an empty spot here waiting for you to fill it. I hope you’ll choose to live on the farm with Owen and me, but I’ll respect your choice–whatever it is. Flying off to free you now, Cliegg Dear Cliegg, Please be shrewd when negotiating with Watto. Don’t let him sense how much you want me. If he senses your desperation, he’ll take advantage of that to swindle you and make you pay more for me than I’m worth. Don’t waste money paying more for me than I’m worth, Shmi Dear Shmi, I couldn’t possibly pay more for you than you’re worth because you–and Owen–are worth more than anything to me. I don’t care how hard a bargain that wretched Toydarian drives, I’ll know that it’s me who swindled him if I end up with you. Not caring at all about money but caring very much about you, Cliegg Dear Cliegg, I forgot to say, but I’d be honored and delighted to fill that empty spot on your farm. You and Owen are family to me now. Stunned by my own forgetfulness but very much in love with you, Shmi Epilogue: Cliegg and Shmi stood on a sand dune overlooking their moisture farm in the cooling desert evening as the silver stars–burning suns for other planets to revolve around, each the bright center of its own system–rose after the stunning twin sunset. Tatooine might be a harsh world, but nothing could steal the simple beauty and charm of its spectacular twin sunset. “Owen should’ve been home before sunset,” Cliegg grunted. Owen had gradually become less acquiescent to the terms of his speeder bike usage as time progressed and the memory of his father’s generosity in allowing him to purchase the speeder bike at all faded. “I was going to let him off a lecture if he had arrived any time before the suns disappeared from the sky, but now I’m going to have to yell at him with all the fury of the krayt dragons in the bellies of the twin suns.” “There are no krayt dragons in the bellies of the suns, my dear.” Smiling, Shmi sank her cheek into the rough, homespun fabric covering Cliegg’s strong, stable shoulder, letting him be her rock. “That’s a myth, a story told to frighten children.” “Then I guess my anger will have to wink out very quickly and become just a myth to frighten children–specifically, my child.” Cliegg kissed her forehead. “I’m grateful to have you on the farm beside me, and I know Owen is as well. You protect him from my gruffness.” “You’re a good man under all your gruffness.” Shmi tilted her face upward to stare into his eyes that reflected the starlight like mirrors. “I saw that in your messages to me when I was a slave. I never thanked you for those messages, by the way. They helped bring a feeling of purpose–of meaning and connection to others–back to my life when I felt so alone and adrift after Anakin left.” “I never thanked you for your messages either.” Cliegg swallowed, and then made what was for him a valiant attempt at expressing his emotions. “Through your messages, you brought me the joy and wisdom nobody else could after Aika died. I’ll be forever thankful for the messages and for you.” Then, having both said everything they could ever have needed to say, they both fell silent, gazing across the starlit sands as they waited for Owen to finally make his way home–hopefully in one piece–after another reckless ride on his speeder bike that endangered life and limb.