Tahiri's Sweet Surprise Special
Anakin was only eleven and a half when he began studying at his Uncle Luke's Jedi Academy, and although he was an independent lad he still found his first day there a little overwhelming. Perhaps it was because of his independence that he felt this way. After all, being forced into the company of a large group was a difficult transition for a boy who up until that point had managed to avoid having to interact with any children other than his older brother and sister. And Anakin had always been essentially a loner - someone who was quite content to spend hours fiddling with any machinery he could get his hands on, or to spend time just thinking his own thoughts. So it was a surprise to him on his first day there to discover someone else who was, like him, having to get used to dealing with an unfamiliar situation; someone who had lost her parents when she was only three, and who had then been brought up with the strange, silent Sand People on Tatooine. Her name was Tahiri, a girl just over two years his junior, but one with whom he was to share many adventures.
The adults at the Academy were surprised when they realised that Tahiri and Anakin had become friends, because on the surface the two children seemed quite unalike. Where they had to practically use a thermal detonator to get Anakin to talk, they would have needed a fullscale planetary bombardment to keep Tahiri quiet. Years of enforced silence with her adoptive tribe had obviously finally found its chance for release. Where Anakin was meditative, Tahiri was bubbly; where sometimes his expression had a saturnine intensity, hers was more likely to be crinkled into levity over something, usually over something connected with Anakin himself. She was both his best and worst critic, but regardless of how he hated criticism from any of the adults, he seemed to accept it from her with a sort of fatalistic good humour. An unlikely relationship, the adults all thought, but one that seemed to work a treat, although sometimes it led the two into mischief, and occasionally into considerable danger. That they survived was, according to Kam Solusar, either a case of the Dark Side looking after its own, or a sign that the Light Side was preserving them for a greater destiny.
For three and a half years the two were an inseparable pair. But then Anakin left with his father to help fight the Yuuzhan Vong, and all of a sudden the course of their lives suffered some drastic upheavals. When Anakin returned, he was struggling to come to terms with both Chewbacca's death and his father's recriminations that he was responsible for it. Then he went away again with Mara to help her fight the terrible disease that was sapping her power and threatening her very existence. Tahiri, left behind, had to be content with developing her Jedi skills without the companionship of her best friend.
Then one day Anakin had a vision, one that alerted him to the imminent attack on the young Jedi on Yavin 4. It also served to bring back his connection to Tahiri with a startling clarity; not that he'd forgotten her, for there was a place in his mind - a Tahiri place - that he visited regularly. But the war had taken up most of his energy and thinking, as it had done to everyone, and it wasn't until he had the vision that he realised just how much he missed her physical presence. When Anakin arrived in the Yavin system, however, the Peace Brigade were already there, so yet again the two friends found themselves in the middle of another adventure, although this time one with potentially darker consequences. Suffice to say that when they were finally safe aboard the Errant Venture again, the friendship had undergone some subtle changes.
Although Anakin was itching to rejoin the battle against the invaders, he honoured his promise to Tahiri that he would wait until she had recovered so that they could go together. Some days he noticed Tahiri would be seemingly her old self again, but then others some little incident would remind her of her time in Yuuzhan Vong captivity. It was on one such day that he remembered how Tionne had helped him cheer Tahiri up once before, by teaching him how to make a particularly delicious sweet cake. On that occasion, nearly five years earlier, they had just returned from Tatooine where Tahiri had been forced to find out some unsettling truths about the conditions of her adoption by Sliven, her Tuscan Raider foster father. Although she had accepted the new facts bravely, Anakin saw that it had affected her deeply, and so with Tionne's help he had made his friend this special treat. Tionne called it lolly cake, but Anakin renamed it Tahiri's Sweet Surprise, because of the look on her face when Tionne cut the first slice, revealing a galaxy of different coloured lollies.
So, to Corran's surprise, Anakin organised a sortie on the Errant Venture's kitchen, and after a thorough search of the supplies cupboard managed to produce something resembling some of the Bakuran treats it had once been possible to buy in the specialty shops on Coruscant - before the Yuuzhan Vong came, that was.
"Hmmm," Corran mused. "Mara said after Dantooine that she'd turned you into a half-pie decent cook, but I didn't believe her. Maybe I should schedule you into the cooking roster."
"Nah," said Anakin. "I'm more of an occasional cook - you know, needs the right occasion." He threw Corran a cryptic grin, and quickly left with the cake before the older Jedi could ask any more searching questions.
There was another occasion when Anakin made the cake. This time when he presented it to Tahiri, she was pleased but slightly surprised.
"Yummy," she grinned. "But I don't think I need cheering up cake, more the opposite, in fact."
Anakin grinned back. "Ah, but I've renamed it. It's now Tahiri's Special."
She gazed at him quizzically with her wide green eyes. Anakin answered the unspoken question he saw there. "Coz that's what you are."
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