Vader was awoken by a stirring in the Force.
Luke...was searching for him.
Vader had agreed to talk with Luke for the first time with Leia present, but it seemed that Luke was not the sort to wait around for others to come to him. Truthfully, given Luke’s parentage, it had been foolish to ever assume otherwise.
In order to honor his word to Leia, Vader would need to avoid the boy for now.
However, the growling of his stomach informed him that he would not be able to do so by remaining in his quarters. After taking a quick shower and changing into a fresh set of clothing—a jumpsuit that was slightly too short at the ankles and wrists—Vader headed out to the mess hall.
The server on duty this time was a pale human boy, certainly no older than Leia, who kept ducking his gaze and blushing whenever he looked at Vader’s face. Luckily, he didn’t try to make any conversation, though it was clear he was trying to work up the nerve to do so. Vader left as soon as he received his food so that the boy didn’t get the chance.
When Vader’s appearance had been restored, he hadn’t factored in the obnoxious possibility that people might find him attractive again. He did not have the patience to put up with such nonsense.
He ate the food as quickly as he could manage, before standing up and attempting to return to his quarters. However, inconveniently, the serving boy had managed to work up the spine to cut off his exit.
“Um, excuse me, uh, sir,” the boy stammered out, “but we have a policy of diners cleaning up after themselves — to make things easier on the kitchen staff.”
Vader’s first impulse was to grab the boy by the neck and toss him aside, but he valiantly quashed it. An alternative strategy was called for. Perhaps there could be a use for the boy’s attraction, after all.
Plastering a smile on his face, Vader said, “What’s your name?”
The boy swallowed. “Um. Chase, sir. Chase Wilsorr.”
“Well, Chase, you have my apologies. However, I have an extremely pressing engagement. Could I trouble you to help me out this one time?”
Chase’s luminous blush told Vader that his approach was successful. “Um, okay. But only this once.”
Reminding himself that this state of affairs was only temporary, Vader widened his smile and said, “Thank you, Chase.”
Vader finally made his escape, only to be ambushed once again about halfway back to his quarters. This time by somebody far less easily dismissed.
Luke Skywalker stood before him, determination written on his face.
The boy’s hands clenched into fists, and he took in a deep, steadying breath. Like he was bracing himself. Then, without any introductions or preambles, he asked, “Did you know my father, Anakin Skywalker?”
Vader could only stare at him.
“I think you must have known him,” Luke continued, apparently only encouraged by Vader’s reaction, “because you get weird whenever I bring him up. Did you fight with him and Ben — Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Clone Wars?”
Obi-Wan. Realization dawned on Vader like a lightsaber through the gut.
Luke’s fists loosened, and his face twisted in sudden shame. “I’m sorry. I know you don’t know me and it’s obvious this isn’t easy for you. But...you’re the one who brought up the lightsaber in the first place.”
Vader cast his senses around the corridor, and was relieved to find that nobody was within earshot. At least, not yet. He forced himself to respond, “I can answer all your questions, but only in private.”
At once, Luke’s face lit up. “Thank you, mister!”
“Follow me,” Vader said.
Leia would just have to understand.
After arriving in Vader’s quarters, Luke took a look around and said, “So you have a room all to yourself? You must be pretty important!”
“That’s one way of putting it,” Vader said. “I suggest you take a seat.”
Luke sat down at the small square table, and Vader took the seat across from him.
Vader was briefly struck by the absurdity of this whole situation. He’d never expected to have this kind of conversation even once, let alone twice.
But there was nothing for it. Delaying matters would change nothing.
“I didn’t merely know your father, Luke,” Vader said. “I am your father.”
Now it was Luke’s turn to stare at Vader. “Um…” Luke blinked, a frown creasing his brows. “That’s not really...possible.”
It was almost humorous, in an ironic sort of way. Leia, who despised him, had accepted the revelation immediately. And yet Luke, whose feelings towards him were not at all hostile, did not. Sighing, Vader said, “If you search your feelings, you will know it to be true.”
Luke shook his head. “Except Ben said my father is dead, and Ben wouldn’t lie to me.”
Vader tamped down on a sudden burst of rage. “If this ‘Ben’ is Obi-Wan, then I can assure you that he would.” Vader took in a breath. Let it out. It was perhaps only logical that Luke would rather his father still be dead than Obi-Wan be proven a liar; the boy had never known his father, while Obi-Wan was obviously a tangible source of guidance and direction. “How did he say that your father died, precisely?”
“He said—” Luke’s voice cracked, and he stopped speaking to swallow thickly. “He said that my father was killed by Darth Vader.”
“Half-truths and hyperbole,” Vader sneered. “How very typical.”
Luke was glaring at him now, his emotions an utter mess. This was not going as Vader had hoped.
Vader pinched the bridge of his nose, a headache starting to make itself known as a pounding behind his eyes. How was he going to put this in a way that didn’t just cause more confusion? “I once went by the name Anakin Skywalker, but that was a long time ago. In that sense, Anakin Skywalker is dead.”
Luke’s face fell, his confusion and disappointment coming to the fore of the maelstrom. “So then why did he say that Darth Vader killed you?”
“Because, on that day, my identity as Anakin Skywalker came to an end, and I took on the name of Vader. From his point of view, therefore, Vader did indeed kill Anakin Skywalker.” From Vader’s, as well, but that wasn’t pertinent at the moment. “However, the fact remains that I am still your father. It is in that detail that you were deceived.”
Luke stared at him once more.
Vader cleared his throat. “I understand that this is...unexpected, but it is imperative that you keep this knowledge to yourself. Up until very recently, I wielded much authority within the Empire, for which I’ve gained some notoriety. The Alliance’s leadership have thus insisted that I use a false identity in order to preserve order within their ranks.” More softly, he said, “I’m telling you this because I believe you have the right to know the truth. The whole truth. And I am placing my trust in your discretion.”
Luke nodded slowly, visibly dazed.
“There’s something else, as well,” said Vader.
“Of course there is,” Luke muttered.
Vader felt his own patience reaching its end, but held back his instinctive retort. It wasn’t the boy’s fault, after all, but Obi-Wan’s.
Carefully, Vader said, “I suppose that Obi-Wan failed to mention that you have a twin sister.”
Luke buried his face in his hands, and his body began to shake. It took a few seconds for Vader to realize that he was laughing. Vader withheld yet another biting remark, since it was clear through the Force that the laughter was born more of hysteria than amusement.
So Vader simply sat there as Luke worked it out his system.
It took a full minute for Luke to get himself under control. He straightened up and wiped tears from his eyes, taking in uneven, panting breaths. At last, he asked, “Is my sister here?”
“Yes,” Vader said. “I can take you to meet her.” Leia was probably still asleep, but he realized now that this wasn’t something that could wait. Not if he wished to salvage the situation.
“I…” Luke let out a shuddering breath. “Yeah. Okay.”
Leia was already awake before she heard the chime at her door, but only barely.
She had an...odd feeling, which was only confirmed when she opened the door to find Vader and Luke Skywalker standing before her.
With the two of them side-by-side, the resemblance between them was particularly striking. At least, in their faces. Luke Skywalker had not inherited Vader’s height.
Padme Amidala had been rather petite, Leia recalled.
With a deep sigh, she stepped aside and said, “Come in.”
She sat down at the table. Luke floundered for a few moments before settling on the berth. He couldn’t seem to keep his gaze off her, his eyes wide and expression dumbstruck. As though he didn’t quite believe she was real.
“Luke confronted me in the open,” Vader said, and Leia definitely wasn’t imagining the hint of defensiveness in his tone. “I thought it best to communicate certain details before interrupting your rest.” Vader leaned against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest. “He knows my true identity, and that I am his father. He also knows that you are his sister.”
Leia supposed she could see Vader’s reasoning. Her behavior earlier had not been the most...balanced. Getting some of the big revelations out of the way before coming to her may have indeed been for the best.
“Okay,” she said.
Vader seemed to relax a fraction, as though he’d been expecting a more dramatic reaction.
To Luke, she said, “Are you alright?”
Luke blinked somewhat dazedly. “...Yeah,” he said. “It’s just that — you’re Princess Leia Organa! From the message!” So did this mean that Luke had been travelling with Solo, and they’d both seen her recording? How many others had seen it? “You’re the whole reason that I’m here!” He shook his head in disbelief. “And you’re actually my sister?”
“I am,” she said, certain of it. Some unnamable emotion twisted up inside of her belly. “That message was intended for General Kenobi. How in the Galaxy did you get a hold of Artoo?”
“Well, I lived on a moisture farm on Tatooine. Artoo and Threepio ended up being salvaged by Jawas, and my aunt and uncle just happened to be looking to buy some droids. I...had this feeling, I think, so I convinced them to buy those particular droids.” He smiled a little shakily. “It was just a normal, boring day, until Threepio told me that Artoo was looking for Obi-Wan Kenobi, who I figured was probably a relative of Ben’s — but it turned out that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ben Kenobi were actually the same person! And then...” He trailed off, pain flashing in his eyes. “I guess...everything that Ben says about the Force is really true.” He frowned. “Does Ben know that you’re my sister? And, if he does, then why didn’t he tell me?”
“Because he does not trust in your judgment,” Vader answered, before Leia had the chance. “He believes that you are a foolish, impulsive child that is unable to handle the truth.’
Leia had to resist a flinch. For a moment, she’d become so absorbed in Luke’s presence that she’d almost forgotten that Vader was still there. She said, “If he does know—” and Leia suspected that he did “—then he probably didn’t tell you for the same reason we were separated in the first place.” She glanced darkly at Vader. “To protect us from the Empire.”
“...Right,” Luke said. “I guess that makes sense.” He didn’t sound entirely convinced, though.
“Are your aunt and uncle safe?” she asked. She suspected she already knew the answer, but it was still important to make sure.
Sure enough, his face crumpled. “The Stormtroopers came looking for the droids.” He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “They’re gone.”
With genuine regret, Leia said, “That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that, Luke.”
Vader remained resolutely silent.
Luke, at least, didn’t seem to notice. “I thought for sure I didn’t have any family left.” Tears welled up in his eyes, his bottom lip trembling. “And now…”
Leia’s heart ached for him. As loathe as she was to show vulnerability in front of Vader, she couldn’t just watch a display like this and not do anything about it. Even if Luke hadn’t been her long-lost brother. She stood up and went to the berth, sitting beside Luke, then pulled him into a hug.
Luke didn’t hesitate for a moment to bury his face in her shoulder, his tears dampening the fabric of her jumpsuit. She wondered at his ability to show his emotions so freely with someone who was essentially a stranger. Though...she also couldn’t deny that she felt a connection. As if she’d been yearning for something all her life, and had only realized it when the yearning was finally quelled.
She couldn't tell him that everything was going to be alright — not when she could barely believe it herself. But there was at least one thing that was undeniably true.
“You’re not alone,” she told him softly.