Morning light barely pushes its way through the clouds of a gathering storm. Anakin slips silently along the roofs of the hivelike Toydarian houses, there being no roads for offworlders in the residential section of the city. He has previously consulted a directory, but now he is guided more by a small voice in his mind whispering "this way" and "over here." The voice of his mother.
Finally he comes upon the home he is looking for. He slides down a wall and stops by an open window. Peeking inside, he sees the family gathering for breakfast in the kitchen.
Around a high table with perches instead of chairs, a young female Toydarian giggles and coos at her infant sibling. A slightly older boy flies in, chasing what appears to be a large lumpy flying maggot--a pet? He reluctantly perches at the table when his mother squawks at him in their native language. Her bristly hair is wrapped in curlers and her face is smeared with bright garish makeup in clownish parody of feminine beauty. The entire scene seems to mock everything Anakin ever wanted but never had.
Anakin's heart skips a beat when Watto enters. As soon as he hears the familiar voice of his stepfather, he feels like a kid again.
"Ah, achuko Rozatta!" Watto greets his wife. She flutters over and kisses him on the cheek. He playfully ruffles his son's hair before taking his perch at the head of the table. He's happy, happier than Anakin ever saw him on Naboo.
Quelling his emotions, Anakin moves away from the window and to the front entrance. He reminds himself that he is a grown man, no longer a child. He knocks. Watto opens the door.
"What is it? I don't know you. Don't you know what time it is?"
Anakin finds himself suddenly speechless.
"You look like a Jedi. Whatever it is, I didn't do it!" Watto says, shutting the door.
"I'm looking for Shmi Skywalker," Anakin blurts out.
Watto stops and examines him suspiciously. "Who wants to know? Could you be...nah. No way."
"Don't you recognize me, Dad?"
"Ani? You ARE Ani! It is you!" Watto laughs, much to Anakin's surpise, and wraps him up in a big hug. "Boy, ya sure sprouted! And look at you--a Jedi! Whaddya know! Hey, maybe you could help me out with some deadbeats who owe me a lotta money..."
Some things never change, thinks Anakin.
"My mother. I'm here to find out what happened to my mother."
"Oh, that...look, kid, I thought you knew. Dat thing got her, y'know. Darth Maul, I think they called it. It was in the news way back, the same thing that tried to kill the Queen. Big todo. Thought a Jedi would've heard 'bout that."
"I did, I just...why didn't you tell anyone? Why did you just disappear?"
"Sorry, Ani, but you know...business is business. Things were getting ugly so I made myself scarce. Can you blame me?"
Anakin gives Watto a look that says yes, he can, as distant rolling thunder fills the pause.
"Believe it or not, that was the kick in the rump I needed. I cleaned up my life, got myself an honest job--pokedroid salesman! Can ya beat that? Got myself a good wife and kids...I mean a new wife and kids...I mean...look, what I'm trying to say is I'm sorry, okay? I know I didn't do right by you and your mom. But hey, we all make mistakes--I'm only sentient. I done better ever since. And it looks like you ain't doin too bad yerself. So whaddya say? Can you forgive your old man?"
"You used us," says Anakin, more like a statement of fact than an angry accusation. "You never loved my mother, and you never loved me, you just used her to get to my mechanical skills. Easy money. That's all we were to you."
"That ain't true! I wasn't the best to ya, but deep down..."
"She's dead," Anakin says flatly, "My mother is dead because of you."
"I...know," says Watto, bowing his head in respect, "I know, and I'm ashamed."
Anakin's hand clenches around the hilt of his lightsaber at his side, then relaxes.
"I forgive you, Watto," he says. "It is the first lesson I was taught as a Jedi. Nobody's perfect. Those who bear great power must bear great forgiveness. And so, I forgive you."
"Well, hey, that really means a lot to me kid. I mean that." He flashes a pitifully sincere smile, bearing rotten teeth.
Drops of ambrosial rain begin to fall.
"Why don't you come in then for a bit, eh? Have some porridge with the family--they'll love ya. I don't want things to be awkward between you and them. Yer welcome here, anytime."
"No, this will be the last I see of you," says Anakin, "You had your chance with me, years ago, and you wasted it. I'm not yours to use anymore."
"Okay," Watto says quietly, "I can respect that."
He extends his hand for Anakin to shake. "I guess this is the proper goodbye then, eh? Good luck to ya, Ani. What do they say? May da Force be witya."
Anakin accepts the handshake, but does not return the blessing. He feels relief and a sense of closure; he has said what needed to be said.
"You would forgive this!?" screams the voice in his mind, "You would absolve my murder? Listen to his thoughts! Know the depths of what he has done!"
Assisted by the touch of his stepfather's hand and the spirit of his mother, Anakin skims the surface of Watto's thoughts. He doesn't have to look far--one single memory shouts above all others.
"Thank gods the kid never found out," thinks Watto, "that I'm the one that told the Federation where to find us. Darth Maul was only there because of me."
Anakin's face darkens, as if his compassion has run elsewhere to hide from the storm. The handshake turns into a powerful squeeze, and Watto is brought to the ground, yelping in pain. Stepping away, Anakin extends his palm, using the Force to push Watto back into the house. Unsheathing his lightsaber, Anakin follows him inside. The door slams shut behind them without a touch.
Later, neighbors will report that they heard shouting in the home before the fire broke out, but no one ever figures out what started it. Lucky that thunderstorm put it out before it spread, folks will say. But ain't it a shame, friends will say, that the whole Skywalker family died in the blaze.