SUMMARY: Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa come to grips with their family ties, while Anakin Skywalker struggles with his feelings of guilt and adapting to his new life, pushing through both emotional and physical obstacles. GENRE: Angst, hurt/comfort, family, drama WARNINGS: Some thematic elements, mild profanity. To understand this story, you should probably read this one: A Matter of Time Fire in the hole! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER ONE He hung in midair, legs waving, blue eyes wide with tears and betrayal. Luke Skywalker was in a state of heartbroken shock as Darth Vader held him aloft with the Force. “So, you thought I had changed?” rumbled Vader. Though out of his armor and mask, his voice was no less imposing. “You are a fool to have trusted me. You are a fool to believe Anakin still lived.” Luke coughed and gagged, clawing at his throat and shaking his head. “F-father...please!” Vader tightened his grip. “Your folly has cost you your life. The Jedi are no more. Now you will join them...in death!” Luke’s eyes bulged and he weakly shook his head in protest. With a sickening crunch, his head went limp and hung to one side. Darth Vader tossed him aside like a limp rag... “LUKE!” Leia Organa screamed, fighting the thin sheets that had entangled her. A muffled snort from her left made her hand reach instinctively for the blaster in her night stand. “What the-” Han Solo, half-dressed and confused, lurched up to look at her and felt fear and bewilderment snap him awake. “Whoa, hey!” He ducked to avoid a flailing arm. “What’s goin’ on?” Leia whipped around, panting, to find Han’s eyes. As her vision cleared and the memory of where she was returned, she left the blaster on the nightstand. “Han…?” Han showed his palms. “Yeah. Who’d ya think?” Concern quickly overtook survival instinct, and he reached for her shoulders. “Hey...y’okay?” With a shudder, Leia welcomed Han’s embrace, clinging to him and willing the horrible images to fade. They would not. Tears once again filled her eyes, and she choked them back. Han brought her close. “Shh...okay...s’okay, sweetheart.” Gently he stroked her hair. “Whassa matter?” Leia swallowed further tears. “Nothing, it...it was just a dream.” Han nodded, brows knit. “Musta been pretty bad to have ‘ya like this.” Leia was the strongest person he knew. She’d had nightmares in the months after Alderaan, but even those had never made her scream so loud. The sound of it rang in Han’s ears and chilled his spine. So what in the hells could have scared her this much? Spending so much time with Leia had taught him that, when so deeply upset, she threw herself into her work. At times like this when there was nothing else to do, she was left to talk things out. “’Ya wanna talk about it?” No. I just want to forget. But Han wasn’t one to let things go so easily. If Leia was hurt, he took it upon himself to render payback. He needed to know this wasn’t something he could chase down and blast. “It...it was Luke, he...Vader had him. He was hurting him...choking him...I couldn’t say anything...I couldn’t move...I just stood there!” Brown eyes squeezed shut. She hated feeling so lost and helpless, and hated more that a stupid nightmare had brought her here. Again Han stroked her hair. That would explain things. Luke and Leia had always been close; moreso since finding out they were twins. “Damn. That is bad. But Luke’s fine, and Vader’s locked up. Nothin’ to be scared of. Just a real bad dream.” He kissed the top of her head. Leia pressed her lips together. “I’ve never had a dream like this before...it was so real...” The overwhelming need to check on Luke made her reach for the comm. “This is going to sound foolish, but-” Leia? Are you there? Leia flinched and all but dropped the comm as a vague but familiar voice spoke words directly into her mind. Was it leftovers from the nightmare? Leia...it’s me. Are you hurt? Can I help? Leia’s hand went to her temple and she shook her head. Was it the stress, then? Was a lifetime of war causing her to lose her mind? “What?” Han asked, noting her reaction. Hold on. I’m coming… “Nothing,” sighed Leia, shaking her head. “I...I need to get back to sleep.” She rearranged the covers about her shoulders and lay down. She relaxed a little as Han lay next to her with his hand on her waist. Half a minute later the pounding of bare feet echoed up the corridor, followed by an urgent but quiet knock. “Leia?” It was Luke. Han grunted. “Speak of the brother.” Leia rose with a sigh and snatched her robe off a nearby hook. “The scream must have woken him up. He’s probably worried.” And she padded to the door. Her relief was profound seeing Luke standing there in one piece. “Luke...” “Leia, are you all right?” Luke wanted to know. “I heard you calling me.” “I’m sorry I woke you,” said Leia quietly. “What’s wrong?” Luke’s blond brows were knit with concern. “I called back, and when you didn’t answer, I thought you might be hurt.” “I’m fine. But...what do you mean, you called back?” Leia frowned. "Your quarters are too far away." “You called out through the Force,” explained Luke with a shrug. “I guess it was instinctive. I answered.” “You can talk to people with the Force?” “Sometimes...but only if you’re close to them or very strong with it. Ben called out to me a few times, and so has my father," explained Luke. "That’s how we’ve been speaking when we can’t see each other.” A chill danced down Leia’s spine at the thought. If he can speak to Luke, then he can speak to me...but no. I won't let him! Thinking of Vader still made her shudder...especially after that dream. “Oh.” Tentatively Luke took her arm. “What’s wrong?” Leia blinked, then shook her head. “Just a bad dream. I...it’s silly. I thought you were hurt.” Quickly Luke nodded. “Oh. Well, you don’t have to worry. I’m fine.” He tried smiling, but sensed how deep his sisters’ feelings of unease went. This was more than just a bad dream. “Leia, are you sure you’re all right? Whatever that dream was about, it must have been terrible to rattle you like this.” Again the Rebellion leader shook her head. “I’m fine. Really. I just...I guess I haven’t been sleeping enough.” She's not telling me everything...but let it go, Luke told himself firmly. Pushing Leia into anything was asking from trouble. If she needed to talk, she’d come forward on her own. Half of his feelings were probably his concern as family and not related to the Force at all. “Well, I’ll let you get back to bed. Get some sleep, OK?” “You, too.” A quick, impulsive hug- just to make sure Luke was all right -and Leia took a step back. “Good night, Luke.” “Good night.” And Luke turned to leave, door sliding shut behind him. Leia padded back to bed and slid next to Han with a relieved sigh. Han scooted close and wrapped his arm around her. “What was that about?” Leia shrugged. “Oh...he sensed I was upset and came to check on me. Just being Big Brother again.” “Yeah, that’s Luke, all right,” reflected Han. “What’d I tell ya? He’s fine.” “All right. I overreacted. But each of us are the only family the other has left,” sighed Leia, settling in next to her scoundrel. “S’just a dream, sweetheart. Get some sleep.” But even as Leia curled up with her back to Han’s chest and her head burrowed into the pillow, she could not shake the feeling that her nightmare was somehow more than a bad dream. Was the Force trying to tell her something?