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Fragmented Star Systems

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Vader was almost certain he had never once moved as quickly as he did in order to get home. Part of him was sure he hadn’t even gotten there any way other than teleportation. One moment he was leaving the warzone of his office, the next he was hurrying through the penthouse doors.

As soon as he was inside though, he wasn’t sure who moved faster, he or Luke. The little boy let out the most delighted, shrill sound Vader had ever heard the very moment he saw him and immediately vaulted himself at Vader. He moved in the same instance as Vader had and they met in the middle of the living space.

He didn’t hesitate to sweep his star into his arms and hold him as tightly as he dared. His flesh arm gripped him tightly to his chest as his other hand threaded through his hair in order to hold his head against his shoulder. Luke in turn wrapped his arms around Vader’s neck and clung to him near desperately. With his son securely in his arms, Vader tilted his head to rest against Luke’s and just basked in his Force presence. 

After so long gone and the day from the worst sort of hells he had had, holding his star felt almost surreal. Like he had stepped into a perfect fantasy realm he shouldn’t be allowed into. He had no desire to leave it and was determined to stay there for as long as possible.

“I missed you so much, daddy.” Luke whispered into his shoulders faintly, their bond thrumming with love and relief. 

“I missed you too, my star. I’m so sorry I was gone. I am sorry you were almost hurt and I wasn’t here to keep you safe.”

“Don’t be sorry, daddy. You were busy keeping us all safe.” he lifted his head and leaned back enough to meet Vader’s eyes. “You won though? You won and you’re home now?”

“I won and I’m home now.” Vader promised.

A blinding smile came over Luke’s face as the relief and love in their bond intensified, “Good! I’m so glad you’re home! It is way better with you here!” he gasped and his face somehow lit up even more. “You can meet Floof! Let me go get him!”

He wriggled to get out of Vader’s arms and he reluctantly let him down to the ground. The moment he was released he darted off into the penthouse. Vader turned an incredulous look onto Beru, who shrugged before stepping into his space to hug him tightly.

“He hasn’t been afraid at all.” she whispered against his shoulder. Alarmed and confused, but never afraid.” she shuddered. “I was terrified.”

“Me too, srafsee’ahs .” he whispered into her hair. “I am so sorry I wasn’t here.”

“None of that.” she squeezed him firmly. “You were where you were meant to be, and you assured that we were not alone. That is what matters.”

Her words reminded him that someone had been here to protect his son. Someone he owed everything to. Someone who was also still there.

Vader lifted his head in order to meet Fox’s eyes. Well, eye. One of them was still black and swollen mostly shut. A stark reminder of how he put himself on the line for Luke.

So Vader gave him a soft smile and nod of his head. “Thank you, Fox. You have my gratitude more than I can express. Anything I can do for you, anything you want, name it and its yours.”

Fox shook his head. “You don’t need to thank me, my lord. I care for Luke and will do anything to keep him safe.”

“Whether you need it or not does not change the fact that I am thankful. Luke is my everything, and you have kept him safe.”

“I always will.”

Before Vader could reply to that, Beru was pulling out of his arms in order to study him with a worried frown on her face.

Susee , what happened? Did you find out who was behind everything?”

“I will explain when Lukkeen goes to bed.” he assured her as the sound of Luke’s slightly burdened footsteps began to approach.

“I found him! Isn’t he the best, daddy!”

Vader wouldn’t necessarily call the giant ball of fur in his son’s arms the best, but the delighted look on Luke’s face certainly was. And anything that put that look on his face, Vader immediately loved. 

So he accepted the tooka from his son with no complaint. He even scratched behind his overly large ears which caused it to purr loudly and burrow more into Vader’s chest.

“Daddy, he likes you! I knew he would!”

“I like him too, buddy.”

Luke’s smile only grew wider and Vader fell into his happiness eagerly. The joy seeping off his star was the only thing keeping him from breaking dowin into either a pained weeping mess or falling into an angry explosive fit. He couldn’t be more thankful for Luke preventing that disaster.

Luke’s happiness only grew when Rex and Ahsoka came home. Having his entire family home had him happier than Vader had ever seen him. He was far past radiant and practically filling the entire Force with joy. 

He needed that happiness more than he needed air. So much so that he held off on even mentioning the attempted kidnapping for as long as he could. He waited until he was getting him settled into bed to softly bring it up.

“Lukkeen, can you tell me a little about the day the bad guys tried to take you?” he asked as he brushed Luke’s hair from his face. It had grown much longer in the time that he had been gone and framed his face at his chin. It was impossibly cute, but Vader still made a mental point to teach the boy how to tie it back.

Luke leaned against him and nodded his head as it laied on Vader’s shoulder. “We were looking for a fruit plant for Fox to buy for Aunt Beru.”

“Why was Fox buying a fruit plant for Aunt Beru?” he asked abruptly, shock at the meaning behind such a gift striking him with a small panic.

“Because Fox has many lovey feelings for her,” he replied simply. “She returns them, I know it. So we were looking for a love gift when Thorn suddenly pulled me to his arms and hid me against his chest. He didn’t let me see anything but I could hear fighting. I’m glad I didn’t see it though, because Fox got all beat up and that’s scary. But he saved us! Which is so wizard! Did, did you catch the leader bad guy, daddy?”

“Almost, Lukkeen,” he told him sadly. “Almost, but he sent my brother to the moons and got away.”

Luke gasped and turned on his knees to toss his arms around Vader’s shoulders. “Oh, daddy! I’m so sorry. He has the best spot on the moons, I know it.”

Vader’s eyes watered and he had to blink away the tears as he turned his head to press a kiss to Luke’s temple. “Thank you, my star.”

“Can I make you feel better?”

“You already do. And it is not your job to do any more, Lukkeen. I should be comforting you .”

Luke made a loud scoffing, almost spitting, noise by Vader’s ear. “No. You lost a brother. I didn’t lose anything. I have all my family back. I don’t have any reason to be sad.”

Vader squeezed him gently and kissed his forehead once more. “You truly are the most amazing boy in the galaxy, buddy.”

“So are you.”

He gave him one last kiss to his forehead and then asked, “Shall we read Is Your Mama a Bantha?

“Yeah!”

Vader stayed in his star's room all the way until Luke was completely asleep. When he started to softly snore, Vader set aside the fourth book of the night in order to take a moment to revel in the fact that he was actually here, safely and comfortably asleep in his room. It was painful to think that there had almost been any other alternative.

After a long moment watching him peacefully sleep, Vader left said room as silently as he could. The second he entered the hall; he was pulled into a tight embrace.

“Ahsoka and Rex told me what happened. “Oh, susee . I am so sorry.”

The embrace and comforting touch were all Vader needed to break down in Beru’s arms. Silent, body wracking sobs escaped him as he collapsed into her. He was unsure how she managed to do so, but somehow, she got them both to the couch. He was grateful, most certainly not helpful in the endeavor at all.

Once they were settled against the cushions, she pulled his head down so it rested against her shoulder. Gentle fingers then began to run through his hair as she comforted his weeping.

A part of him couldn’t help thinking that he shouldn’t be crying like this. That it was many things, a waste of water, unbecoming of an Emperor, not something either a Sith or Jedi should be doing. He should just be letting it go, sending it to the Force. Anything but sobbing like a child.

As if she could hear his thoughts, Beru made a comforting humming sound and said, “I’m here, susee . It's okay to cry. You aren’t alone. I’m right here.”

When he truly could cry no longer, he lifted his head to meet her eyes and whisper, “He told me this was his Fate. that he was my Kitazase’iyais . That he was destined to die to save me.”

“It might have been.”

“I don’t want that Beru!” he exclaimed. “I don’t want anyone to die for me.” he lowered his eyes and added in a whisper, “All I have ever wanted was my family. Kitster was my family. I may have made myself forget, but he was .”

“I know, susee. I know. It hurts us to lose him, but he’s with Rashee’ze now. He’s resting and at peace. We have to honor him, and his choices. We can’t cling to what we would have rather had happen. We need to accept and work through the pain of what happened.”

“That simple?"

‘“Oh, it's anything but simple.” she reached out to lightly wipe away the tear tracks on his cheeks. “You’ll be angry. You’ll be sad. You’ll want vengeance. All of them are normal, just don’t let yourself drown in any of them. And even more importantly, never think that you have no support through it all.”

Vader’s brow furrowed. All of that sounded more than reasonable, but he couldn’t help saying vehemently, “I will bring him to justice, Beru.”

“Of course you will.” she replied firmly. “There is no doubt in my mind he will face the justice he deserves. Just don’t lose yourself to the vengeance, susee . Don’t give him any part of you. He deserves nothing. Not one bit of your energy. Okay?”

That, he could do. He knew exactly what she meant. Normally, it would not have been hard for his desire for vengeance to fester in his mind and drive him to obsession. He knew he had done it before. Before, though, he didn’t have a family. Before, he hadn’t had people who actually deserved his energy. He no longer had any desire to waste it on monsters like Declann.

So he gave an easy, slow nod. “Okay.”

She gave him a soft, proud smile and squeezed his hand. “Is there anything I can do for you right now?”

After a small hesitation, he nodded and asked softly, “Could you put a mourning braid in my hair?”

“I would be honored to. Let me go see if I have some red ribbon somewhere.”

He watched her leave, hand raising to absentmindedly play with the ends of his hair. He had never worn any braid other than his Padawan. He had thought about putting a mourning braid in during the War (and more importantly, for Padme but at the time he believed himself to be the one responsible for her death and saw no way to ever bring her death justice) but had never truly settled on doing so. It had never felt right.

It felt right now. Kitster deserved the honor, and Vader would happily wear the braid until the moment Declann fully paid for what he had done. No matter how long it would take.