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Paternal Relations

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Luke is having a really, really bad day. First, he gets told off by a weird frog who, despite the fact that he’s a Jedi master and nine hundred years old, still thinks that hitting people with a stick is the height of comedy, then he goes to rescue his friends only to find out that Han has been gift-wrapped in carbonite for the massive evil slug that ruled Luke’s childhood nightmares, and then, because the day hasn’t been terrible enough already, Vader chops off his hand! (Sure, the wound cauterizes immediately and the adrenaline is numbing most of the pain, but it still hurts. Like, a lot. So he thinks he’s a little entitled to some melodrama, thank you very much.)

“There is no escape,” Vader says. “Don’t make me destroy you.”

Luke ignores Vader, edging towards the escape that Vader has conveniently ignored.

“Luke, you do not yet realize your importance,” Vader says. “You have only begun to discover your power.”

The part of Luke that’s doing more than half-listening and repeating ‘oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck’ over and over in his head is extremely disturbed at the turn the conversation is taking. Vader sounds like he’s reading off some junkmail meant to convince you to wire all your credits to someone running a scam under the name of some lost Corellian prince or another, which means there’s really only two ways this can go, and one of them ends up with Luke dead.

“Join me,” Vader offers, clenching a fist in a righteous imitation of every dictator ever, “and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.”

Great, Luke thinks loudly, accidentally projecting into the Force, and then you can cut off my other hand and my legs and we’ll rule happily as limbless murderous despots. (It’s possible he’s a little delirious at this point, because he swears he heard a chuckle from behind him, which should be impossible, because the only thing behind him is a long, long, fall.)

“I’ll never join you!” Luke shouts automatically, because that’s the sort of thing you do when an evil space wizard cuts off your hand and tries to seduce you to the dark side (or, well, does whatever Vader is doing right now, because Luke is pretty sure this doesn't count as seduction).

“If you only knew,” Vader says, clenching his fist again, “the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”

What? Asks the rapidly shrinking part of Luke’s brain that isn't delirious with fury and fear. Now that’s a topic change.

“He told me enough,” Luke says. “He told me you killed him!”

“No,” Vader says, “I am your father.”

Every bit of the pain, the terror, and the rage that have been flooding Luke’s senses is completely drowned out by utter confusion. What, he thinks, the fuck.

Then, a sinking feeling completely overtakes him. The Force is telling him the truth of Vader’s words— he can feel them resonating, falling along invisible threads and weaving their way through his being— but there’s something not quite right about them. Vader is his father, at least technically, but there’s something he’s missing, something that he—

Oh shit, Luke thinks, Vader is my dad’s ex-husband.

“How could you kill your husband?” Luke shouts, but it’s not really a question. Vader has killed a lot people. Hell, he was just trying to kill Luke. Murdering his lover doesn't seem beyond him.

Vader pauses for the first time, his presence in the force drawing back. Without it, Luke can feel his mind growing clearer, the rage that had been reaching out, tearing into him, dissipating even as the confusion that had been holding it at bay retreats as well.

“Obi-Wan and I weren’t married.” Vader says, sounding as confused as Luke feels.

What?”

“What?

My father was Anakin Skywalker, Luke thinks. My father was a Jedi. Then he feels his stomach drop out from under him. Ben had been there for all of his childhood, watching over him— caring for him from afar. And his reticence in talking about Anakin, his clear discomfort on the subject of Luke’s father...

“Ben was my dad?” Luke blurts.

What?” Vader repeats, and the rage is back. “Just because he was there for you when I couldn’t be— just because he stole you from me— does not mean he is your father. He will not take that from me, even in death.”

“Look,” Luke says, trying to channel Leia’s best ‘what the hell are you two moon-jockeys doing’ attitude, “I don’t know how it works where you’re from, but just because you’re in love with someone does not mean you get to take care of their children. Ben was right to take me away from you after what you did to my father.”

“I am your father,” Vader repeats.

“No,” Luke says, glaring at him. He can feel the rage reaching out again, threatening to overwhelm him.

You’re in pain, it seems to be whispering, we can fix it. Let your anger subsume you. Let your power free.

No, Luke thinks, reaching out for something to steady him. Even as the pain flares at the edges of his vision, the rage threatening to turn things fuzzy, he can feel a bright spot below him. He breathes in, steadying himself against Leia. He can feel her every emotion— the pain, the anger, the grief— and the way she’s forging ahead with pure stubbornness. ‘We’re coming, Luke,’ she says to him, not even aware that she’s doing it, ‘Hold on.’

Luke holds on.

“You are not my father,” Luke says, drawing himself against the small handhold he has. “You have never cared for me. I don’t know why you knew Anakin Skywalker, and I don’t know why Ben lied to me about him, but no relationship you had with either of them can excuse anything you’ve done.”

Leia is below him. He can feel her reaching out, warm and caring and furious and full of love.

Luke smiles. “And next time you try to get someone to join your side, maybe try not cutting their hand off first.”

He jumps, and he has only a split second to feel Vader’s confusion before he’s in the clouds and Vader is just a black hole above him, too far away to reach.

 

Vader screams in frustration, the vocoder shaking underneath his onslaught. Wires come loose from the walls around him, whipping back and forth with electricity, and the entire structure creaks, threatening to drop him into the void to follow his son.

“You know,” says a horrifyingly familiar voice from behind him, “We actually were married.”

Vader whirls around, but there’s no one there, just the traces of an impossible Force-signature.

“I killed you,” he growls.

“There is no death, there is the force,” Obi-Wan recites, accent as infuriatingly posh as it was thirty years ago.

“Where are you,” Vader snarls, turning around again.

“The force,” Obi-Wan replies with the same sort of half-pitying half-amused tone that infuriated Anakin Skywalker in another life. “You cannot be rid of me now, Vader. Remember our vows? ‘Until the stars fall and the earth splits beneath our feet.’ Lovely sentiment.”

“Our what?” Vader spits, momentarily distracted.

“It was on Ingla-IV, if you remember,” Obi-Wan says, “I— er— may have mistranslated one of the natives’ questions about the nature of our relationship, and that festival we attended may have been our wedding, in their eyes.”

What,” Vader says, astonishing even himself by how Anakin-like he sounds.

“What Luke said was true,” Obi-Wan says, “from a certain point of view.”