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Saga - OT A Matter of Time (AU, ESB) H/L, Luke, Vader, Lando

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ridley Solo, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @Sara_Kenobi Glad you like the mush. And yes, father and son need some sort of communication.
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha YES! It earned a squee! [face_dancing]At least I'm doing something right! :p
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Welcome back! [:D]

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty-Eight

    The passage of time was a rather simple thing to keep track of when one was planetside. Most habitable planets and moons had a daily cycle of sunrise and sunset...or planet-rise, and planet-set, as the case was on the verdant moons of Jovian planets.

    When one traveled in space it was all but impossible to keep track of without a chronometer. Thus, most ships' schedules were set by the day and night cycle of a particular time. All Imperial vessels used Coruscant Standard time, which was a 24 hour cycle. The Rebels, to avoid confusion, followed the same pattern.

    According to this schedule, it was 'morning', and breakfast was being served aboard all the ships in the fleet. The Rebellion didn't segregate the enlisted men and officers as the Empire did, and the two groups mingled freely with each other. It provided a closer sense of camaraderie.

    As always, the Liberty's commissary was very crowded. The din of mealtime conversation, clattering dishes, and occasional laughter provided a lively atmosphere in which to dine. Most enjoyed the setting and would seek out friends to eat and talk with. With the dire news of the second Death Star things were a bit more subdued.

    Normally Luke would sit with the Rogues, but this morning he had gathered his meal hastily and then gone off by himself. He didn't much feel like talking. His mind was occupied with the matter of his father's surgery that afternoon.

    The thought of Anakin being free of that mask was heartening and unnerving at the same time; heartening because it meant another part of Vader would be gone, unnerving due to the risk and the horrible injuries the man had sustained. According to Anakin, none of his skin had escaped intact. All of it was scar tissue right down to the inside of his mouth. It was an injury no man should have survived.

    Luke told himself that he didn't care what his father looked like; nothing would change who he was. But he did care. He was almost afraid to find out. As a fighter in the Rebellion, Luke had seen plenty of terrible injuries. Burns were difficult to treat and even more difficult to heal with minimal scarring. Bacta helped, but it was expensive and the few tanks the Rebels had were reserved for the most critically injured. Third degree burns, even when treated promptly, always left mottled pink scars.

    Anakin's burns had been worse than that. Most had gone beyond the subcutaneous layer. Palpatine had kept him awake during the operation to put him in the suit and given the burns only enough care to keep them from becoming infected. Otherwise they were left to heal on their own.

    Luke couldn't begin to imagine the suffering his father had gone through. It was heartbreaking. But he wouldn't want me to feel sorry for him, thought Luke with sigh. I want to see him, but I don't want to hurt his feelings reacting to how he looks. I'll have to look past it.

    * * * * *

    “Prisoner coming out!” Announced one of two guards. They stood at attention inside the cell holding the most high-profile prisoner in the Rebellion’s history. Anakin watched as first the door, then the force field opened. He wore a pair of cuffs around his arms and was surrounded by four more guards as he and the other two exited the cell that he had been living in for two weeks. From that point on it was an elaborate dance of guards, closing doors, and security checks before getting to the transfer shuttle. There Lieutenant Sal was waiting to monitor his condition. He was the only one who even tried to hold a conversation with the prisoner...and the only one to notice Anakin’s heart begin to pound.

    “Hmm. Heart rate’s elevated...you nervous?” asked Sal with knit brows.

    “In a manner of speaking,” said Anakin even as he tried to calm down. Medical procedures always made him nervous. The nightmare which had trapped him in this suit in the first place kept returning. He had to reach for the Force to fend off the images...the sounds...the smells...the sensation of being rebuilt from a bundle of burnt tissue to the most infamous cyborg in current history...and without anesthetics.

    Calm down, he reminded himself. They’re releasing you from the helmet, not adding more machinery. That was certainly something to be thankful for. Anakin loathed his appearance and wanted nothing more than to be rid of everything; helmet, armor, and breathing machine. The latter would only be replaced, but at least the helmet and breath mask would be gone. Let’s get this over with.

    “Well-” Sal paused, unsure of how to ally the nerves of one so imposing. “You’re in good hands. Try and calm down. Things go better if your vitals are steady.”

    All six guards exchanged looks of disbelief. Darth Vader was nervous? That’s a new one, thought the lead guard, glancing at his charge. While he had yet to see a single bout of aggression, Vader’s reputation couldn’t be ignored. The whole crew kept one hand on their blasters the whole trip and didn’t relax until after he had been released into the custody of the medical crew. Only Sal stayed with him as they entered the surgical theater.

    “Greetings, Anakin Skywalker,” Too-One-be nodded at the armored man. “And how is our patient this afternoon, Lieutenant Sal?”

    “A little nervous, but that’s to be expected,” reported Sal with a shrug. “Might want to watch his heart rate if it keeps spiking.”

    “Remain calm, Skywalker,” said the droid. “There is no need to fear. This procedure is relatively simple and has quite a high success rate. Please remove his shackles.”

    With a pair of hard swallows, two fleet troopers stepped forward to do as asked. Then they took a handful of steps back.

    The droid motioned to the lowered table. “Please lie down on the surgical table, Skywalker.”

    Anakin felt his limbs start trembling as he approached the creepy collection of medical equipment. At least this place was bright and evenly lit. The surgery where he’d received his suit had looked more like a dark torture chamber...which it turned out to be. Continued flashes of that procedure continued to plague his mind, and he paused a long while before sitting on the table.

    “There will be no pain, and the procedure will be over quickly.” Too-One-be rolled next to the bed. “Please. Lie down.”

    Anakin did as he was told. Sal’s calm, somewhat encouraging presence was welcome, and he gave a nod to his medic. Still he felt his heart racing.

    “Skywalker, you must calm yourself,” insisted Too-One-be. “The anesthetic will be administered shortly. Lieutenant Sal, prepare an intravenous solution of sensocaine.”

    While his medic went about setting up the IV, Anakin closed his eyes and brought his breathing under control. To ward off the pull of the Dark Side, he directed his thoughts to pleasant memories instead. Padme's smile...his mother's gentle but firm nature...Qui-Gon's patient explanations of the Force...the friendly jesting with Obi-Wan...and finally, the look of gratitude on Luke's face upon being pulled to safety.

    Each of these thoughts brought a pang of regret. All of these people were gone...except Luke. And yet, since being brought to the Rebellion, Anakin had not seen his son, even via video or hologram. The temptation was there to feel slighted. Would it really be so bad to let me see him just once?

    "Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose..." Yoda's final lesson returned as if in an echo, making Anakin sigh. Luke is safe. There's no need to worry about him. The broken man took in another deep breath and let it out slowly, releasing with it all feelings of greed and unfairness. Yes, master.

    "Very good, sir. Your heart rate has improved." Too-One-Be hovered near, with Sal to his left, holding the IV to administer the anesthetic. "Are you ready?"

    I've been ready for this for years, thought Anakin as he nodded. He felt the sting of the needle as it was inserted into his bare arm and the slow onset of numbness as the medicine flowed into his bloodstream. As time ticked by, an overwhelming drowsiness overtook him. The words of Sal and Too-One-be became muffled...garbled.

    Anakin's last thought before slipping into unconsciousness was for Luke.

    * * * * *

    He made it...thank the Force, he made it. Luke couldn’t keep still as he walked quickly down the corridor of the Redemption.

    After four long hours of waiting, he’d finally received word that the tracheotomy had been a complete success. To his utter delight, he heard that the rest of the bio-mechanical suit had also been removed. Even better, full permission had been granted for a visit. At last, he would be able to see and speak with his father...his real father, Anakin Skywalker.

    Luke wasn't sure why the Alliance had gone the extra step to remove the suit. Leia, after telling him, had shrugged it off as a necessity. They simply didn’t have the facilities for maintenance. Luke preferred to think it was at least partially due to mercy. Admiral Ackbar had, after all, said that if the attack on the second Death Star succeeded, the Rebellion would owe their lives to Anakin Skywalker.

    There was still some trepidation. While there was synthetic skin available, replacement over such a wide area was not only impractical, but dangerous. After living on medicated food, water, and air for two decades, Anakin’s immune system would likely be compromised for quite some time...perhaps the rest of his life. Without his suit, he was just a frail burn victim.

    Luke tried to think past the potential problems and focus on the positive. No longer would those who saw him see only Darth Vader. No longer would anyone shudder upon just hearing him breathe. Maybe now even Leia could call him Anakin.

    Leia...Luke had asked his sister if she wanted to come along, but she had declined. Her excuse was work, but Luke knew that her anger toward their father might never go away.

    Too-One-Be, who had been leading the way, came to a stop outside a closed door. He turned to Luke. "I must warn you once again, Commander Skywalker, that your father does not look like what most humans would define as normal. You may find his appearance rather disturbing. As his immune system is compromised, you must enter through a decontaminating mist."

    Luke nodded, trying not to be impatient. "I understand."

    "Very well. You may come in. He is still unconscious, but should fully awaken soon."

    Eagerly Luke followed the droid into the recovery room. Already he could sense his father’s presence. It was a relief to sense peace, health, and strength. The decontaminating mist was startling, but over quickly. They turned a corner...and Luke stopped short.

    His father lay sleeping in a medical cot, completely unrecognizable. No longer clad in black but in a simple medical gown, a thin sheet covered Anakin from mid-chest to mechanical toes. A flexible tube about as thick as Luke's thumb was connected to Anakin's throat, bringing oxygen with a sound no more than a whisper.

    It took quite a bit of self-discipline not to gasp. His father’s skin was pale with a mottled, ashen tone. Thick ropy scars contrasted sharply with strong but surprisingly thin muscles, while his head was completely bereft of hair save sparse eyelashes. A deep pink scar cut into the top of his scalp, stretching some four inches across his crown in a jagged line. There was little left of Anakin's ears to be seen. A rather crude mechanical arm extended out of the right sleeve, connected at the elbow, while the left sleeve lay half empty.

    His face was the least startling. While pale from lack of light, the burns evidently hadn’t been as bad between chin and brow. The scars there were minimal. His age could only be guessed at, but the lines around his eyes told of someone at least forty or fifty.

    Luke wasn't sure how to feel. Conflicting emotions of shock, sympathy, and happiness at seeing his father swam about in his mind. His jaw hung slack for a moment. Then he closed his eyes.

    "Commander Skywalker, are you well?" Questioned the droid.

    Luke shook off the heaviness in his heart and nodded. “Yeah...” He took a tentative step toward the bed. "How is he?"

    Too-One-Be gave the droid equivalent of a shrug. "He is doing quite well. His body is adapting to the tracheotomy, there are no signs of infection, and his vitals are strong. Considering the severity of his previous injuries, he is actually in very good shape."

    Luke let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding. You can relax now. He's going to be all right. "Can I sit with him?"

    "Certainly, Commander. He should come out of the anesthesia in no more than fifteen minutes."

    "Thank you." Luke walked over and settled into a chair next to the bed. He moistened his lips and watched his father sleep. "Father," he breathed, reaching for Anakin's right hand.

    Too-One-Be turned around. "I am afraid he cannot hear you, sir. His ears are not functioning. The heat he experienced many years ago damaged both eardrums beyond repair."

    This news took some time to sink in. Luke frowned. "He's deaf? But....how did he...?"

    "His mask picked up sound waves and translated them into sound via a sensor behind each ear. In time a replacement may be installed, but for the time being, alternate modes of communication will have to be used," explained the droid.

    Luke's eyes stung. He'd never known how many functions the suit and helmet had taken over. Without them, Anakin was nearly helpless. He's alive, Luke reminded himself. He's going to be all right. That’s all that matters.
     
  2. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    After all that, Anakin can't hear. Awe, hopefully the Force can help him, somehow. Great update.
     
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow! =D= =D= I didn't have any idea of how completely the suit controls/mechanisms took over sensory functions. @};-
     
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  4. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    You will get at least one nomination for this dignified and wonderful fic about a good man becoming himself again. And a son´s love that moves the stars.
     
  5. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @Sara_Kenobi Don't worry too much about him. Anakin is nothing if not a problem-solver. :)
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha A lot of research- canon, non-canon, and medically-related -went into figuring out how bad his injuries really were. Looking at what was left of his ears and his level of response to his environment at the end of Revenge of the Sith, losing most if not all of his hearing made sense.
    @AzureAngel2 [:D] Aww, thank you!!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty-Nine

    The first thing Anakin felt as he began drifting back toward the land of the waking was a strange sense of weightlessness. A tentative opening of his eyes brought in a brilliant white light. They shut reflexively. He wondered briefly if he was dead, and this was the Netherworld of the Force.

    But no...the Netherworld had no sensations, and Anakin most definitely felt something. He seemed to drift back down until he was aware of a bed beneath him. The sense of touch returned almost all at once, and the next thing Anakin felt was pain...a pinprick in his left arm, a dull ache in his throat. It was somehow hazy and far away, as everything else seemed to be. Memory returned next.

    I’m on the medical frigate. Of course. He'd had another operation...a tracheotomy in place of the old breath mask. Apparently it had been a success. It was a strange sensation to breathe through one's throat instead of moving air past the nose and mouth, but Anakin told himself to be grateful. He would be certain to tell the Alliance so when he had the chance. Now, if only that suit-

    Anakin froze, realizing for the first time he felt cloth against his skin...real cloth, not an insulated blend of leather, wire, and padding. Experimentally he shifted his weight. Sure enough, that was cloth he felt, of clothing and a blanket and a bed that seemed impossibly soft. His tearless eyes ached. It's gone...all of it. The suit is gone. I’m free. Joy unknown for two decades lifted Anakin's heart. He wanted to laugh, shout, or cry. As all of those were impossible, he settled for smiling. I must tell Luke of this! Eagerly Anakin reached for his son's presence...and stopped short with surprise. He's here? Unsure of his senses, Anakin slowly blinked his eyes open again. He squinted against the light and looked around.

    Someone sat on his right side. There was only one person it could be. Like a wheel on a rusty axle, Anakin turned his head to look. His vision was rather blurry, but the blonde hair, slim form, and presence in the Force made it obvious. Anakin's heart soared. Luke, my son. At last!

    Luke immediately straightened his spine. His eyes met his father's, then filled with tears. For the first time, he could look his father in the eye. A smile rose on his face and he spoke.

    Anakin frowned, knitting his hairless brows. All he could hear was a vague buzzing in his left ear. When Luke repeated himself with the same result, Anakin sagged with disappointment. He hadn’t known he would be deaf. Still, anything was better than wearing that dreadful mask. Thankfully Luke seemed to understand and repeated himself, carefully enunciating the word.

    Father. He said father. Anakin tried to reply. It came out as a garbled vibration in his vocal cords. Come on, you can do this...Anakin took a deep breath and tried again. "Luke..." It was little more than a whisper, but at least he was speaking on his own.

    Luke's tears overflowed his cheeks and he turned away, covering his eyes. How was it possible to feel heartache and joy at the same time?

    Anakin's smile faded. He sensed no revulsion, only sadness. He reached for Luke's shoulder. "Don’t weep for me, son,” he rasped. "You've given me the greatest gift I could have."

    Luke tried to smile and wipe his eyes, but the tears kept coming.

    He can't stand to look at me. Anakin let his hand drop. “Not very pleasant to look at, am I? It’s all right. I understand."

    Quickly Luke turned back to his father. "I want to see you...the real you. It doesn't matter what you look like...besides, you don’t know what I see."

    Anakin smiled sadly. He could only catch every other word, but it didn’t take much to decode what Luke was saying. "What do you see, then, but a broken, scarred shell of an old man?"

    Luke frowned and shook his head. He doesn't understand. The young man took Anakin's shoulder and looked him in the eye. "What I see is my father."

    Anakin's sad smile returned. "You’re too kind, son."

    Luke let his father go. "How are you feeling?"

    Anakin's face was the picture of contentment. "Whole. Thank you, Luke. I don’t know how you managed to convince the medics to remove the suit."

    Luke shrugged. "Don't thank me, Father. That was the Alliance. Thank them."

    "I will...as soon as I have the chance." Anakin blinked, fatigue returning. He was so tired...but while his body was asking for a nap, he wanted to spend more time with his son.

    Luke sensed his father in pain. "Maybe I should go. You need rest."

    Anakin gave Luke a plaintive look. "So soon?"

    Luke noticed the guard coming to the door and grimaced. "They won't let me stay very long."

    Let him go. Anakin nodded. "It was good to finally see you, Luke...with my own eyes."

    Luke gnawed his lip, wondering about the news he finally had permission to pass on. He waved away the guard. “Wait...just a minute. There’s something I need to tell him.”

    Reluctantly the guard nodded and stood at a parade rest. “Five minutes. I have my orders.”

    Luke nodded, then turned back to his father, taking a deep breath. How to tell him? “Father? I...I don’t want to upset you, but I thought you should know. I’m...not your only child.”

    Anakin’s eyes widened as he absorbed the information. Slowly he shook his head. “Impossible. Padme was only pregnant once...she was the only one I loved. Unless-” He flinched. “Twins? She had...twins?” Anger at not knowing sooner faded quickly, and the joy of finding out he was a father returned. He smiled, then let it fade as reality set in. My child is not likely to want anything to do with me… “Who? And do they know?”

    Slowly Luke nodded. “It’s Leia. She knows.”

    Guilt far stronger than what he had felt before washed over Anakin. Memories of all he had done as Darth Vader were now made worse by the knowledge that Leia was his daughter. I tortured her...I did the same to the man she loves...I stood by and watched as her world was destroyed...I hurt my own daughter! With a shudder of grief, he covered his tearless eyes.

    Luke’s heart sank. Leia was right. I shouldn’t have told him. Gently he touched Anakin’s arm until his father could read his lips. “I’m sorry.”

    “Luke, it’s I who should apologize. I’ve been a terrible father to you both.” It was tempting to just wallow in his sadness, to pull the grief over his head like a heavy blanket and retreat from the galaxy...but he couldn’t. There was still too much work to be done. I must do whatever I can to help. I’ll offer my services as mechanic, pilot, informant, whatever they need. The broken man took a deep breath, rubbing his aching eyes. “I know I can never make up for all I’ve done...but I swear to you...with whatever life I have within me, I’ll do what I can to set things right. Whatever the Rebellion needs of me...I’ll give.”

    So earnest were his father’s words, so deep were his emotions, that for a moment Luke couldn’t say anything. Anakin was bound and determined to at least try and make amends. He nodded to his father. “I know. Slow down,” he added, worried about the rasp of his father’s voice.

    “Luke...” Anakin took a deep breath from his sore throat. “My words may mean nothing. She may not even listen. But could you tell your sister that...that I am so sorry for all the pain I’ve caused her, and...and that I love her? Please?”

    “Of course I will, Father.” Luke nodded, even as he wondered how Leia would respond to this. The guard motioned to him, and he grimaced, rising from the bedside chair. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

    Anakin's throat ached. The one thing he had never done was hold his child in his arms. Now his child- no, children -were grown. Would Luke or Leia even want to embrace such an ugly creature? Leia might never see him. But Luke was there. Tentatively he inched up on his elbow and opened his arm.

    Luke saw the fear and hesitation in his father's eyes, and his heart broke. His mind was already made up. Carefully, not wanting to hurt the man, he stepped into his father's embrace.

    A sense of completion that had not been felt since leaving his mother on Tatooine washed over Anakin. At last, he had a family again. His eyes ached, begging for tears to soothe them. "I love you, son."

    Words that Luke had been longing to hear for most of his life finally fell on his ears. It was overwhelming and made the tears return to his eyes. His throat was closed with emotion, but gave Anakin’s shoulder a squeeze.

    It was not until it fell to the sheet on his lap that Anakin noticed the single tear that had somehow emerged from his eye.
     
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  6. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Tissues, tissues! Argh!

    You´ve done at. Curse you! Bless you! Sniff!

    For that scene alone I would give you a nomination at any time. This is the family reunion that I always longed for in the SW universe. In the movie "Return of the Jedi" they had so little time.

    Dang, a Depeche Mode song just comes flodding into my mind.

    Oh, the man from the Fresenius Institute is back from his break. We continue to learn how to do home dialysis. I mean, I watch and my husband DarthUncle learns how to do it himself.

    This is why the story somehow goes deep under my skin. I know exactly how Luke´s anxiety feels about touching his father. I am afraid in bed since weeks that I cuddle with my husband in my sleep and, octopus that I am, end up causing a blood bath with the katheder in his belly.

    And I am also able to relate to the following sentence:
    It was tempting to just wallow in his sadness, to pull the grief over his head like a heavy blanket and retreat from the galaxy...but he couldn’t. There was still too much work to be done. I must do whatever I can to help.

    This is why I won´t give up, but my body protests too much at times. Since my father´s death in November 2017 and some other bad things the pressure is even greater. But being a kindergarten teacher and trying to be there for my closest friends is rewarding. The blanket of depression is a luxury I cannot have. I rather have the luxury of fanfic, not so much as a writer any more though. Even though Ny and my husband give their best.

    But being a reader of stories like yours is very rewarding as well.

    And so I still try to find things that make me happy each day.

    Thank you!
     
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh ... Ridley! That was so INCREDIBLY POIGNANT AND MOVING! SWEET! =D= [:D] [:D]
     
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  8. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    That was a very beautiful update. =D= ^:)^ I'm glad that Luke told Anakin about Leia.
     
  9. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Beautifully done. Love where you're going with this. Luke needs to get his prosthetic, Anakin needs to teach him the ways of the Force, both of them need new lightsabers!
     
  10. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @AzureAngel2 Oh, my goodness. :( Bless your heart! While I didn't mean to make you cry, I'm so glad I got the emotions right. I've never had to deal with any kind of family illness except a brief stint of taking care of my mom after a series of unexpected seizures. Never anything so serious, though. Hugs to you!!! [:D] [:D][:D][:D] You are amazing, and I'm sure your husband knows it.
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Sara_Kenobi Thank you both so much!
    @Darth_Drachonus Hmm....[face_thinking]


    And here we are at the end. A big, huge, ENORMOUS thank you to all my readers and your kind reviews. [:D] But don't be too sad...this is the duology that turned into a trilogy (mentioned in You Know You're A Fan Fiction Writer When...), and there are two more stories coming. More mush, action, family connections, and surprises are on the way! :cool:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Thirty

    Leia felt her stomach twisting in a hundred knots as she paced four steps to the left, then four steps to the right, then repeated the procedure.

    The operation had been a success. Darth Vader was free of his suit. Luke had gone in to see the man calling himself Anakin some twenty minutes ago. While Leia refused to go with him, she didn’t want to seem like an uncaring sister. So she waited outside in the hall, Han at her side.

    It seemed like forever. Despite Luke’s assurances that Anakin was different now, she couldn’t help but worry. Don’t hurt him...please...I swear if he lays one hand on Luke-

    Han’s hand on her arm made Leia flinch. “Hey. Sit down.”

    Leia bit her lip. “I swore that Vader would never be able to hurt Luke again...but he’s in there right now. I shouldn’t have let him go.“

    Han shrugged, grimacing. “Don’t think you coulda’ held him back anyway. Nothin’ you can do ‘bout it now. ‘Sides, Luke’s fine. He’s got about half a dozen guys watchin’ his back. And without that suit, didn’t Too-One-be say Vader won’t be half as strong as he was? Without all that machinery, he’s just an old man.”

    Leia pursed her lips. “That’s what people said about the Emperor. They thought he was a harmless old man...until they saw what he could do.”

    Han sighed and gave Leia’s wrist a light tug. “Well, you’re not gonna do Luke any good if ya wear a hole in the floor. C’mon. Sit down.”

    With a loud sigh of her own, Leia finally obliged, welcoming Han’s arm around her. No sooner had she settled than the door slid open, and she jumped back to her feet. “Luke?”

    Luke had a look of quiet contentment on his face. He blinked at the moisture in his eyes, found his sister, and smiled, bringing her into a quick hug. “I finally saw him. I saw my father...my real father.”

    Leia squirmed, but took Luke’s hand. “How is he?” she asked, more for Luke’s benefit than hers. She didn’t give two credits about how Darth Vader was feeling.

    Luke cringed. “He’s very weak. The operation took a lot out of him. I didn’t know how bad his injuries were before. That suit and helmet took over almost everything. Too-One-be said with the burns he had years ago and without the protection of the suit, his immune system in going to be compromised for a long time...maybe the rest of his life, but...he’s alive. For the first time I was able to see him.”

    Han awkwardly shoved his hands into his pockets and nodded. “What, uh...’ya mind me askin’ what...what he looks like?” It was probably the wrong question to ask, but he couldn’t contain his curiosity.

    Thankfully Luke didn’t seem to mind. “His burns were bad enough that the scars are never going to go away...and being stuck in that suit away from any sunlight didn’t help. His face...apart from being a little pale, it doesn’t look that different from anyone else his age.” He found Leia’s eyes. “You should see him. He looks completely different from Vader.”

    Disturbed, Leia bit her lip. No. I don’t ever want to see him. “I...not...not yet,” she stuttered, trying to focus on how relieved her brother was. “I’m...I’m glad you were able to see him.” That wasn’t strictly true, but sometimes a thoughtful lie went over better. “Were you able to communicate at all?”

    Luke nodded, though the sadness returned to his eyes. “A little. He couldn’t hear me, but he was able to understand. He said to thank the Alliance for this...it means so much to him to be free of the suit and helmet.” After a brief hesitation he found Leia’s eyes. “I told him about you.”

    Already Leia was regretting this, and felt the anger and hate rising again. “Oh. How did he react?”

    Luke shook his head sadly. “I can’t say it made him happy. Leia...the guilt he feels over everything he’s done...it’s overwhelming. He doesn’t expect any forgiveness and understands why you didn’t go in and see him. But he gave me a message for you.”

    Leia felt her arms tremble as she tied them into a knot. “Nothing he could say can undo all the wrong he’s done...and whatever it was, it doesn’t matter.”

    Luke winced. “But Leia, it does. He’s so sorry; more than you could ever know. He told me that, while he knows he can never make up for all he’s done, he swore to do whatever was in his power to help the Rebellion.” Again he reached for Leia’s hand. “And he said that he loves you.”

    Leia scoffed and ripped her hand away. “He doesn’t even know me. That man spent twenty years of his life exterminating millions. How could someone like that even feel love?”

    “Leia...”

    “You can call him what you want, but that man will never be my father. I had a father, and he’s dead.” Leia knew she was starting to lose control, but at the moment, she didn’t care. With a final shake of her head, Leia hurried away down the corridor.

    “Wait-”

    “No! Luke, you can’t fix this. Stop trying to!”

    “I’m not-”

    “Enough! Just...just...” Unaccustomed tears stung Leia’s eyes as she backed up. Finally, letting out a load groan, she wheeled about and broke into a jog, heading for her room. The galaxy was spinning out of control, and it was all she could do just to keep sane.

    Luke started after her but was held back by Han. “Han, don’t. Not now.”

    Han firmly shook his head. “You’re pushin’, kid. Leave her alone.”

    Luke bit his lip. “But I’m the one who upset her in the first place. She’s my sister. At least let me apologize.”

    Han pursed his lips. “Then do it later. We both know if ya’ go after her now, she’s just gonna get mad at ‘ya. And she’s right; sometimes there’s things ‘ya can’t fix.”

    Luke frowned, but felt his shoulders fall. Slowly he hung his hand and nodded. “You’re right. I’d only make things worse.” Tears returned as he shook his head. “This is my fault. I shouldn’t have told him.”

    Han shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. Can’t change it now.”

    Luke sank into the chair in the hall. He’s got a point. He had a habit of turning into a mediator when people were upset, but smoothing the waters when Leia didn’t want anything to do with their father wouldn’t do any good. He was going to have to build a relationship with Anakin on his own. So much for his fantasy of having a real, cohesive family. “I know. You’re right. So, now what?”

    Han sank into the chair next to his friend. “Well...I ain’t any kinda expert...but I’d give it some time. Don’t push or bring it up ‘less she does. If she doesn’t, well...ya better drop it.”

    He understands her better than I do, realized Luke with a nod. “All right. I’ll do that.”

    “Atta boy.” Han gave Luke’s back a couple of encouraging slaps before rising to his feet. “Look, kid, I gotta get back to work on the Falcon. Wanna come along?”

    “I’d better check in with Wedge. We were going to start training a new recruit tomorrow and he wants to put in a new simulator run,” explained Luke, pushing back to his feet.

    “See ‘ya round, then,” said Han.

    “Han?” said Luke after a pause.

    “Yeah?”

    “Thanks.”

    “Ah...don’t mention it.”




    ---TO BE CONTINUED---

    ---Next installment, "Shot in the Dark”, coming soon!---
     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Very realistic and in-character reactions from everyone: Leia's continued anger; Luke's wanting to bring everyone together; and Han's insight and common /people sense [face_love] That is sound perfect advice: don't bring it up unless she does. And apologize later when she's calmed down. Best thing Luke can do right now is concentrate on something tangible like train a new recruit @};-

    Very glad that there's 2 more in the series [face_dancing]
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.
  12. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I can understand Luke's disappointment over Leia wanting nothing to do with Anakin, but also Leia's hesitance in accepting Anakin for who he is now. I can't wait to read the next part's of the story. =D=:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    That reaction was to be expected, but the way you wrote it was brilliant. You have done a lot for the characters in this story. Thank you!