Note about the story's copyrights: All the rights related to the basic
Mon Mothma's scheme and the ensuing alliance between Luke and Vader belong to
Tatiana, and so do Vader's personality and the Sathed history. The rest of the
story is a fusing of our imaginations since we've passed the story back and
forth between ourselves :)
Also, special thanks to my shy, secret beta-reader and best friend,
for her help with the final editing of my new stories. (Eh, I have no choice
but to mention you, my friend ; your secret is still safe though ;) Thanks for
giving us some of your precious time, my friend :)
(Note to readers: if you still find mistakes after our three heads going over it
again and again, then, well, I guess perfection doesn't exist on that planet ;)
So let's have fun instead! And I insist on FUN!)
Once his guests were locked up and the troopers had left the castle,
entrusted his daughter to his best medics who also happened to be his personal
saviors, if he could call them that.
The first reunion concerning the treatment was scheduled for the evening.
Until then, the medics had to properly install Leia and stabilize her condition.
Meanwhile, he himself would free his guests.
He had no doubt that Solo would jump at him even though he had put him and his
Wookiee to sleep instead of knocking them out. His son, the Jedi, had been
another matter though.
He keyed open his son's cell. Luke was still unconscious.
A new sound invaded the Jedi's quiet environment; it tore him out of
His first reaction was to start awake.
"It's okay, it's me." his father said from a position right beside his head.
The young Jedi slightly calmed down, but not much. He glared at his father.
"Was that necessary?" he asked him as he forced himself to a sitting position.
"As a matter of fact, Son, yes, it was." His father answered seriously. "You
are here, safe, and nobody knows the truth. Sometimes, the means are harsh, but
they always justify the end."
"Oh, you think so, huh? You had told me that we wouldn't be hurt." he
After all, he mentally groaned, his own stomach was still painful from the
beating that it had taken.
Vader tilted his head in what was probably confusion until Luke brought his hand
to his belly.
Then, and only then, a light seemed to turn itself on in his father's mind. He
set his hand on his shoulder as if in apology.
"I'm sorry about that, Luke, but I can't predict how my troops will act."
"Sure." he grumbled.
His father offered him a food bar. Luke noticed that it wasn't the average,
tasteless ration bar.
"Here, I thought you'd still be hungry."
Luke didn't hesitate. He took the food and ravenously ate it.
His father remained silent for a few minutes.
He finally spoke again.
"I can assure you that nothing similar will happen anymore, Son. We'll collect
your friends and bring you to more adequate quarters. There we'll get you all
as much food as you can eat."
Luke glared up at him, then he softened and finished his food.
As always, he sighed in annoyance, his father was right even if he himself
didn't like his reasoning. As long as they were all safe and Leia was better...
He stood up by himself.
"Can I ask you something?" he said, looking up at his father.
"Don't knock us out again."
Lord Vader chuckled, a sound which really sounded weird to Luke's ears.
"I give you my word. You understand though why I did it so many times."
"Yeah, I understand." Luke said, resting his hand back over his painful stomach.
He'd have to take a look at that soon, he promised himself.
"Allow me." his father said.
Before Luke could complain, the dark lord barely rested his hand over his,
focused on the Force, and healed the bruised and broken tissues in less time
than Luke would've thought possible.
The youth gaped at him.
"It's a question of practice. I'll show you, if you want. Now come."
Luke followed silently, too awed to do anything else.
He had always known that his father was a powerful Jedi, but he had never
thought that he could do this much. A new, true hope began to shine in his
somewhat heavy heart: Leia would be all right.
"She will be." His father agreed with his unspoken thought, "but it will not be
an easy task. The Force is far from almighty. Or benevolent. And, by the way, I
am 'not' a Jedi." He finished, sounding irritated by the word Jedi.
"Sorry," said Luke automatically. A second later he frowned: "Why are you
eavesdropping on me?"
"I'm not. You're not controlling your sending."
"You can hear all my thoughts?" he gasped in disbelief.
"The Circle save me!" his father exclaimed in annoyance, then said: "No, only
when you open yourself to me. You seem to have a difficulty to control your
barriers." he almost scolded him, but not quite.
It was more like criticizing, he admitted.
"You don't seem to know what it is." his father then observed, all anger gone
from his voice now.
"Yes." sighed Luke. "My training was .. fragmentary to say the least."
Vader took a moment to consider this revelation.
"I have a rather complete library on the subject, if you're interested."
Luke meant to remind him that he would not study dark secrets, but his father
beat him to it.
"'Jedi' books,' he specified. "not Sith's, so no need to worry."
He seemed to smile ironically behind his mask.
"Thank you," Luke nodded ruefully, "Yes, I'm rather interested."
"Good. I'll show you in the evening."
They approached the other cells. Vader keyed the doors open then he turned back
toward his son.
"I think that you should take care to wake them up, Son. I doubt that Solo will
be happy to see me."
He took a food bar for his friend then stepped past the dark lord.
Luke walked down the short steps and stood beside his friend.
He closed the door behind him so that his father wouldn't hear what they would
say, then pushed a slight jolt of adrenaline into his friend's system.
"Han, it's Luke, can you hear me?"
Solo groaned. "Hmm, what's wrong, Kid..."
"Nothing's wrong, but nap time is over."
Solo grumbled something and turned on his side.
"Go away, Luke... Get some more sleep."
Luke gaped at his friend. Sleep?.. Then he understood.
Han had been put to sleep!
He shook his head in amusement.
His father truly was stepping on eggshells around Han; he didn't want to anger
him, yet he didn't feel that well-disposed toward him either. It left only one
question then: why had he knocked him unconscious while putting his friends to
He would have to ask him later, he decided. He refocused on his sleeping
"Han, come on, wake up. You want to see Leia, don't you?"
That did rouse the pilot.
"Leia?" he asked, leaning up on his elbow while rubbing sleep from his eyes.
Luke saw his eyes bulge as he took stock of their whereabouts.
"Hey, what's going on?" he asked, completely awake now.
"We're in Vader's palace, remember? Leia's been brought to his personal
medcenter and we can see her whenever we're ready."
"What about us?" Solo asked, getting to his feet.
Luke offered him the food bar; Han ate it twice as fast as he himself had.
"We're free from our cells and he's waiting for you and Chewie to come out
before showing us where we'll live."
"What has he done to us after the landing?" Solo asked angrily.
Luke gave him a rye smile. "he's put us to sleep." he lied.
Han didn't need to know that his father had knocked him unconscious again.
"Shall we?" he asked his friend, inviting him to exit the cell.
Solo took hold of his right biceps.
"Luke, what's the deal, truly?" he asked him seriously.
"What do you mean, what's the deal? It's like we've talked---"
"You seem real chummy with Vader," Han observed dangerously. "I think you know
more than you're telling me. What is he up to?"
Luke relaxed and reached out to quiet his friend's suspicions. He had to
convince him this time since he had apparently not succeeded last time, or at
least not completely.
"Han, I give you my word that he isn't fomenting any dark plan." he explained as
soothingly as he could. "I know that he can heal Leia, and he knows that we
want to be with her. That's all there is to his plan. This, and Mon Mothma.
Other than that, we are his guests, nothing more, nothing less."
"But what about his desire to turn you? Do I have to remind you that---" Han
pointed out, but Luke interrupted him with a sharp shake of his head.
"No, you don't, and no, he doesn't want this anymore. The Emperor was pushing
him to do these things, but unlike the despot, he doesn't feel threatened by the
existence of a Jedi."
Han finally let go of his arm, pursing his lips in obvious if unhappy
He had probably hoped for a complete reversal of situation, Luke surmised.
"All right, it sounds good...Too good in fact." he muttered lowly. "I'm not as
convinced as you are, Luke."
"Figures." Luke said mock-seriously to relieve the tension that was barely lying
in wait to resurface.
"Right... Jedi stuff, huh?" Han asked in a lighter tone.
"Guess so." Luke shrugged.
"I will keep my eyes wide open for any treachery anyway."
"So will I." he assured him. "Let's get Chewie, okay?"
Waking up Chewbacca was Han's job; Luke remained in the corridor with
while his friend tried to avoid being hit by his barely awakened co-pilot.
"Chewie, calm down." Han said loudly as he ducked under the Wookiee's swinging
*I take it that he still doesn't believe in your arguments.* Vader sent to his
*Why do you say that?* he asked his father.
"What do you mean: where was I?" Han asked from the cell.
Luke dimly wondered what the Wookiee was arguing about.
*I don't need to hear the words to recognize signs of distrust, my son. You
wouldn't have remained inside the cell for as long as you have if you hadn't had
to reassure him.*
*Well,* Luke uncomfortably shifted on his feet. *you must understand his
*I perfectly understand. But frankly, his trust in me is the least of my
problems. The most important thing is if he trusts 'you'.*
*Yes, he does, but he is asking himself why I seem to trust 'you'.* he explained
with just a hint of irony in his voice.
*How have you explained it?*
*That the Force tells me that it's the right thing to do. A Jedi thing.*
*A good explanation indeed. But, do you really believe in such guidance of the
* Of course! * Luke answered without any hesitation.
*You don't seem to agree.* he commented, his voice less confident than a few
*Blind trust in the Force can make you a monster, Luke. * Vader's words were
slow and measured. *The Force itself is immoral; it can guide you but it can't
make the decisions in your place. It can propose the most easy way to do
something, but it's up to you to choose.*
*But the guidance of Light can't be...*
*The Light is inside you not outside* interrupted his father.
'Like the darkness' Luke thought to himself.
*It's not the moment to discuss such matters.* his father commented, having read
his thoughts yet again despite Luke's best efforts to shield his mind. *Later.
Your friends are coming.*
Vader crossed his arms as Solo and the Wookiee came out of the remaining cell.
Their distrust was quite obvious in their wary stances and looks.
*If Solo is to become my son-in-law, Luke, he will have to work on his
Luke twisted his lips in annoyance. Things would indeed have to change between
the two men.
*It's valid for you too, Father.* he retorted, then prepared himself for the
outburst that didn't come.
*Perhaps. But only when he'll show his real face. I can hardly appreciate the
mask that he's wearing.* the Dark Lord commented half-scornfully.
Luke frowned at his answer.
*What do you mean?*
A small smile almost showed through the black face-plate. *Sometimes, you're
*Later. Let's talk about everything later.* he demanded. *Greet them; it's time
Luke sighed, then did as he was told.
"Ready?" he asked his friends.
"Yeah, I want to see Leia." Han told the dark lord.
Luke noticed the way that his hand twitched against his hip, as if hitching for
a weapon. It was a good thing that they were still disarmed then.
"Of course, Captain Solo. In a few minutes at most, you will see her. Unless I
tell you otherwise, you'll be free to go wherever you wish inside these walls."
"But not outside." Solo sneered.
Vader turned around and led the way toward the turbolift at the end of the
"Surely you understand the lack of wisdom of such an act, Captain Solo. It
would be stupid to go to this length to make your coming here look like it was
forced, then have a spy see you free..."
Luke remained silent, walking beside Chewbacca while Solo sidled closer to
Vader, bunching his fists in frustration.
"Oh really," Han sneered, "and once we'll be free to go, that is if we ever are-
"You will be, Solo, your Jedi friend knows that you will."
Solo turned toward Luke who nodded quietly.
The lift opened. They all filed in, then it shot upward.
"So, if it is unwise to go out now, how will it be any different once we leave?"
Han cleverly observed. "How do you think that you'll make it safer then?"
The tension in the enclosed room became practically palpable. Han's tone grew
more dangerous ; Luke kept a wary eye on his friend, ready to keep him from
making any physical attack if need be.
"I don't know yet, Solo, but I can assure you of one thing, all of you" he
added, gazing at the two other occupants of the lift. "Mon Mothma's little war
is about to end."
Luke, who had been closely monitoring both Solo and his father heard Vader's
thought: 'And so will Jade's.'
Jade? Who was Jade?, he wondered.
He filed the name away for a later conversation. His father threw him a look;
he rose an eyebrow and shrugged. His father didn't have to worry about his
eavesdropping; he couldn't make any sense of it anyway.
The lift stopped. Vader was the first through. He walked quickly.
"Your quarters will be on the same level than the medcenter." He informed them.
"I thought that you'd appreciate being close to your friend."
"How attentive." Solo sneered.
Luke, who was now beside Han, elbowed him then threw him a warning look.
"Give him a break, will you." he muttered.
Surprised by this request, Han gaped, then frowned. He finally shrugged and
refocused on the dark lord.
Behind them, Chewie hummed the air to detect any sign of danger.
*Thank you, Son,* his father told him rather dryly. *but I don't need your help
to defend myself.* He stopped in front of a door. "These will be your quarters.
They are the best suite in the castle and will more than accommodate your
He invited them to take a look inside. Luke accepted it and stepped inside.
Chewie followed him.
As he looked around himself, Luke reflected that it was strange how he easily
trusted his father despite what he had put him through in the past. In fact, he
felt quite safe in his presence now, and even wanted to know more about him...
He sure was quite a puzzle, he admitted to himself.
He refocused on his surroundings.
The living room was well furnished and warmed by rich reds and purples. The
coloring was slightly dark to his liking, but it was very elegant.
And roomy, he added as he noticed the smile on Chewie's face.
"That'll be perfect." he said to their host.
He almost had to pinch himself to believe that he had said what he had just
said. He discreetly shook his head in rye amusement, then turned back toward
Han was still standing there, his eyes boring into the dark lord.
"Enough dawdling, Vader. Where's Leia? I want to see her now." he dangerously
"She's at the end of the corridor, Solo."
He indicated a certain door.
"My personal medics are preparing her. You may see her as much as you wish,
from the observation room."
He had barely finished his sentence that Han was already striding toward the
Chewie was not long to follow.
Luke remained behind. He leaned against the door frame as he watched his
friends practically run toward the medcenter.
"Well, at least he didn't jump on you." he commented mock-seriously.
"If he does, he will be the only one to blame for the consequences." Vader
Luke shook his head. He made sure they were alone before answering.
"Father, nourishing thoughts such as these isn't going to help you forge a
healthy relationship with him."
"Ah, my wise son," Vader snickered. "thank you for giving me a so appreciated
advice in human relationships."
Luke threw him an annoyed look.
"Look, what I meant was---"
"That I must not decide what he is before knowing him better. I agree, but I
can't know him better if he continues to wear his mask."
"What mask are you talking about?" Luke frowned.
He was lost when his father was talking in riddles.
"You must know it, Son." His father slightly sneered. "The I'm*a*hot-headed
smuggler, 'the' number one."
"But he is all that!" Luke defended. "He's not pretending to be someone else."
"Really?" his father inquired very seriously.
"Well," Luke hesitated, remembering some events that had revealed Solo's true
heart to both him and his sister. "not exactly..." he finally admitted.
"He is not 'only' that." he added.
A silence followed, then his father turned toward the end of the corridor.
"Perhaps you could help me to know him better, Son." he offered.
Luke's face lit up in eagerness.
"I'd like to. What do you want to know?"
"How did you meet?" his father asked him, inviting him to walk with him.
"It was a few years ago..." began Luke. "I was eighteen at the time." he said
He still remembered those heady days ; his first experiences in the real world,
and the Force, and Ben... He had better avoid that name with his father, he
"We were looking for a transport to Alderaan... and Han was there, and
"So you didn't know him before the Death Star?"
"No. It was our first adventure together, an unplanned one I might add."
"Most adventures are." his father said wisely.
Luke blushed upon realizing how foolish he might have looked now. He should
have known better of course.
"Uh, yeah... anyway, he was in it for the money, nothing more. I got him into
rescuing Leia, whom I didn't know then, and... you know the rest."
His father remained silent during the following steps.
"Interesting." He finally commented. "Do you know that you were reported as a
team who had prepared well for your operation?"
"Yes... It obviously wasn't the case. Psychological chemistry perhaps?"
"Psychological what?" Luke asked, stumped once again by his father's culture.
He himself had been to school, yes, but he had never heard about this kind of
His father fortunately seemed to understand that.
"Some physical factors affect the way that two people react to one another on
the psychological plan. I guess you two have what is called "bent atoms"."
"You mean the three of us." he corrected. "Leia's been a part of this too ever
since the Death Star."
"Yes, of course." his father nodded agreeably.
Then Luke felt a somber mood invade his mind.
"What?" he inquired.
He was surprised to feel his father brace himself before he answered him:
"Can you help me convince her to accept my help?" he asked. "If she doesn't ...
I will not be able to heal her and the treatment will be much longer."
Luke gazed blankly at his father until he realized that he had been staring. He
shook himself to regain his composure.
"Of course, Father, but how exactly can I do that?" he inquired seriously.
"Make her see your love. Make her believe that she is loved and cared about
despite the fact that she shares my blood." he instructed him. "She's hating me
primarily because she thinks that because of my being her father, all her life
and anyone's love are lost to her. Thus, she's trying to hide from the fact
itself ; it makes her hate me even more. Make her see that the blood relations
are not important."
Luke was shocked.
"Are not?" he gaped. "I mean, you really think that it's not important at all?"
he asked in disbelief.
"For the definition of one's self it certainly isn't." his father answered
wisely. "She is no less Leia Organa because she's my daughter. But for the
moment, she thinks that being my daughter negates her identity as Leia Organa.
She is wrong and this kind of thought is very dangerous for her mental
"Will you help me?"
"You can count on me." Luke assured him. "How long will you need my help?"
"For as long as she won't wake up. When she will recover her consciousness, the
treatment will be in its final phase, hence, less of an emergency. We'll be
able to give her time to consciously accept my help."
"Okay. What about Han? When will we tell him about the truth?" he asked him.
They were now approaching the medcenter room.
*You know him better than I do, Son. I will let you judge of this. But it must
be done before she wakes up. When that time comes, he must have accepted her
legacy or not be here at all.*
Luke agreed with him.
They entered the observation room. Han was standing at the window, unmoving.
Behind the glass, the medics were gently manipulating Leia's broken body and
"What are they doing to her?" he asked angrily, whirling toward them.
Luke hurried to put some more distance between his father and himself, thus
shortening the distance between Han and himself.
"They're preparing her for her next treatments. The precise order of procedures
will be set this evening. As soon as it will be established, you will receive
a copy of it. I can tell you though that her spine injuries will be treated
"And her face?" Han inquired worriedly.
"At the end. Do not fear, Captain Solo, Princess Leia will be completely
Darth Vader smiled slightly behind his mask.
So many variables were detectable in the room; Luke's protective feelings,
Solo's very obvious anger and distrust, and the Wookiee's deadly readiness to
act if needed.
Yet, underneath it all, one thing bounded those three men: their love for the
young woman who was on the other side of the glass.
The last time that he had seen so much willing and boundless devotion to someone
was when he himself had fought for his then future wife...
"Han, she will be fine, and will suffer even less in his care than in any
regular medcenter." his son entreated.
It was still intriguing how Luke, whom he had hurt and wounded more times than
he could count, found in his heart to trust him not only with his own life but
with his sister's life as well.
By all means, he shouldn't even have trusted him this far.
Yet he had, and Vader had to admit that he was glad he had.
Never in his life, especially since he had found out about his children, had he
thought that he would someday have a normal, family oriented discussion with
them. He had never thought that he would someday ask questions to his son in
the context of a normal, free discussion... not a forced one, and certainly not
a non-aggressive one.
What was even more surprising was to realize that he wanted to have time to
speak with his son again, as Father and Son, nothing more.
He refocused on the ongoing dialogue.
"Han, we can't go in there." Luke tried to reason with his friend. "She's
fragile to any kind of infection right now; we can't take any risk."
"Then find another way. I want to talk to her."
The young Jedi shook his head. He was beside Solo now, whom had calmed down
since they had entered the room.
"She is unconscious and will remain so while it is necessary" Vader said.
"But even if it were not the case, she could not speak with you now."
"It's difficult with a deep injury on the tongue." Vader explained coolly.
Han was shocked. And outraged. And...
And after a second of dumbness he simply sat down.
"I just want to see her." he said calmly. "I just want to sit by her and hear
her breath. Nothing more."
The mask was down, Vader realized. It wouldn't last for much longer than a
moment of pain, but it was at least down. Beneath it was the face of a very
"Tomorrow you and Skywalker will be allowed to go inside, in medical outfits."
He reassured his daughter's chosen lover.
"Why not now?" Han asked, putting his 'mask' back on.
"Because, Captain Solo, by that time, she will be well installed and stabilized
enough. Do not press matters, in this case the haste will lead to nothing but
"So, you're asking me to wait." said Solo, his eyes grim.
"No. You have 'no other option' but to wait. Here, or in your room, or at her
bed." Vader reminded him. "You cannot do anything to help her now-- accept it.
Your childish displays of anger will lead to nothing, and certainly make no
impression on me."
Solo seemed to consider it.
"Don't tell me what to do, Vader." he spat angrily. "You're not the master of
"Oh but I am. Since you have ... accepted my proposition, you've lost all
control of your life for as long as you will be here." the Dark Lord explained
coldly. "Accept it. And quit these childish manners, you're far too old for
them." he finished dryly, his gaze pinned on the smuggler's glare. "And now, if
you excuse me, other matters are requiring my attention."
The Dark Lord turned and left the room.
Behind him, the rebels remained mute for a long, long while.
In the evening, after an excellent dinner had been served in their suite
Han seemed to appreciate it) and a visit to the medcenter, Luke decided to
explore the castle and find his father.
First, he wanted to know the decisions of the medical meeting and second, he
wanted to see the library that he'd talked about.
The castle was huge and rather strange. The architecture itself was normal he
reflected, even if he hadn't expected to find five internal gardens linked by a
small river with a waterfall in what looked like the Dark Lord's dungeons, but
there was something very strange about the castle.
It looked more like a museum than a house, he admitted to himself.
The cold weapon collection, painting collection, all in order like in a real
Even living suites had an impression of being part of a museum, partly because
of their opulence, partly because of an empty feeling that they had.
Nobody lived in them for long, he realized.
His father's personal part of the castle was a completely other matter though.
There was nothing of the opulence of the "museum" part, only a cold
The only decorations were the painting on the walls--- Sathed writing he
remembered, calligraphy of some unknown planet and some unknown alphabet.
Training rooms, working rooms, conference hall.
Luke finally found him in one of the small conference rooms. The meeting with
the medics was apparently finished. The table was covered with datacards.
Vader sat by the window, reading one of them.
"Come in, Son." he invited him.
"How was it?" asked Luke as he sat by his father. Vader didn't move to
acknowledge his presence in any way, absorbed in his reading.
"Good. We begin the treatment tomorrow at 7 a.m. I'll need your assistance."
"You'll have it." he assured him.
"What are you reading?"
"The plan of the operation. I'll assist the medics; you'll help me with Leia's
rejection. But," the Dark Lord lifted his head and looked at Luke "you must not
interfere with the healing itself. Even in an emergency."
"I will not." said Luke "I know that I'm not trained enough."
"It's not a matter of training in the Force." his father countered. "You simply
don't have any medical education."
Luke rose his eyebrows in shock even as his jaw fell on the table in bafflement.
"You mean that you have one?" he gaped in confusion.
"Yes. Why are you so surprised?" Vader observed, commenting on the obvious.
"Well..." Luke fumbled, trying hard to recover his composure, "All I knew about
you before last month was that you're a warlord. Being a warlord implies
killing men, not healing them."
His father shook his head upon hearing his answer.
"Luke, I've spent a quarter of my life in hospitals of all kind. I can't survive
without a constant medical attention and a life support system. In these
circumstances it would be strange to 'not' have a medical education, don't you
"... I see." Luke flushed. "I'm really stupid sometimes."
"No. Slow perhaps, but never stupid."
The young man gazed at his father; he could swear that he was smiling in
amusement under that mask of his.
"Thanks. I guess." He returned with a rye smirk. "But speaking of the
"You want to see my library."
"Yes, I'd like that very much."
"Very well." Vader laid the document on the table and stood up. "Come."
The dark lord led Luke to the part of the castle that he hadn't seen during his
The library occupied 5 large halls; all of them were full of books and
manuscripts of all kinds and all languages. They looked very old.
"That's the old part. You most probably won't need to touch anything here. All
these books have been scanned and can be accessed from the terminal, so are the
most recent ones."
"..OK. Father?" he inquired somewhat hesitatingly.
"You've read all this?"
"But they are in the other lang..." Luke frowned "How many languages do you
"Eleven. Plus five dead ones."
Luke stopped and gaped at him as if Vader had transformed in something strange.
The Dark Lord stopped and looked at him .
"Didn't expect this from the Dark Lord of the Sith?"
"Well... no, I didn't." Luke admitted with a shameful blush.
"Strange enough. I have after all told you that I'm a Sith of the Circle, the
symbol of memory... and knowledge."
Vader resumed his walk; Luke followed.
"Yes, but... I mean, your manners... I mean, you are brutal and cold, so I..."
he fumbled inarticulately.
"Luke," Vader sighed, turning around to face him. "I may be brutal, cruel and
cold, but it this doesn't mean that I am uncultivated or stupid. It certainly
doesn't mean that I am only interested in killing."
"Sorry." Luke apologized contritely.
Man, he could be so foolish sometimes...
"No need to apologize, you didn't offended me." his father reassured him, then
pointed toward big computer bank that was on their right. "This is the
Luke evaluated that his father's library much more understandable that any other
that he had seen before.
After a brief introduction it was almost impossible to not find the needed
document. It also seemed to be the most complete library that he had ever
seen. History, philosophy, religion of most civilizations, science, languages,
"It's huge!" he finally whispered in awe.
"Yes, it is. If you don't find what you are seeking, you can access Coruscant
Main Library. If you don't find it there, then it does not exist."
"I'm interested in Jedi teachings." said Luke.
He sensed his father smile.
"Figures. I think that there are some books for students... Here."
The list of titles came up on the screen.
"By the way, do you have some education other than secondary school?" his father
asked him conversationally.
"Er.. Well, not really, but..."
"I have the Force." Luke said, feeling kind of uncomfortable to admit that he
didn't know much about anything.
Especially now that he know what a cultivated man his father was.
"Even a complete idiot can feel the Force, Son." Vader observed rather coldly.
"The Force can help you to choose a variant, but you must have variants from
which to choose. If you don't know some language, the Force can't teach it to
you, even if you're a Jedi Master and need it to survive. Begin with this."
Luke looked at the screen.
"First level, first year... For the beginners?"
"And what do you think that you are?" his father asked mock-seriously.
Luke pursed his lips in acceptance ; was he going to stop making a fool of
himself around his father.
"I suppose you're right... "
"If you have some questions, call me. Good reading."
"Thank you." he answered as he picked up the card that slid out of the
Vader nodded to him and left.
Luke installed himself in a chair in the reading room and began to study.
------The next morning, Luke was back iin the observation room.
Behind the window, his father went in the operation room and knelt beside Leia.
He, Han and Chewie watched the last preparation before the beginning of the
"Where were you last night?" Solo suddenly asked him.
Luke threw an askance look at his friend; there had been something in his voice.
"Why are you asking me this, Han?"
"I could return you the question, Kid. Why are you so close to Vader all of a
sudden. Care to explain?" he asked.
Luke knew he had no choice to explain, but now was not the time for Han to learn
the truth... not the whole truth at any rate.
"We've made a truce." he finally said, revealing part of his secret.
"A truce." Solo repeated without any expression.
Luke slowly walked away from his friends and sat on the chair that was near the
wall. He wasn't proud of what he had done, but he had had no choice.
But most important of all, he reminded himself, he didn't regret it.
"When I've found out about Leia's disappearance and Mon's betrayal," he began.
"I had no one to turn to... except him."
Solo choked on his own breath. Even Chewie expressed his disbelief.
"You're even crazier than I thought." his friend gaped.
"It's not what you think." Luke defended himself.
Han frowned at that. "Kid, you've been telling me that ever since we've been
brought aboard his ship. Spit it out now." he ordered him.
Luke knew that tone of voice. If he didn't tell him the truth, Han would ignore
him and start giving trouble.
"All right..." he sighed. "With no one to turn to, I spent some time analyzing
the situation, and I've realized that he hadn't chased me down since Bespin... I
meditated a lot on that fact, and discovered the truth."
"Which is?" Han prompted.
"The Emperor wanted me; not Vader. And the Emperor is out of the circuit."
"What do you mean, out of the circuit?"
"He's lost in harmless insanity; Vader is the true ruler now, but nobody knows
about this, except the Force... and Mon Mothma."
"So you actually trusted the Force and contacted him?"
"Yes." he admitted. "He came alone, we talked, and made a truce."
"You realize of course that this could've been your end."
"I knew that the Force wouldn't lead me into a trap." he said seriously.
Chewie seemed to agree with him, for once.
"All right, so let me get this straight." Solo said, pacing in the small room.
"You have been working with Vader ever since you've resigned your commission,
which means that you've faked your duel at the Massacres' base, as well as our
capture outside their headquarters."
He reluctantly nodded, then apologized: "I'm sorry, Han... I couldn't tell you."
"You're damn right that you couldn't tell me, Kid. I would have knocked some
sense in that head of yours if you had."
"And Leia wouldn't be safe." Luke retorted, feeling some of his temper slip from
"We would've found another way..." he argued with him. "Just tell me something;
why did he take it so hard on me at the fortress?"
Luke tried his best to restrain his amused smirk. He of course couldn't tell
his friend that his father didn't approve of his relationship with his sister...
too bad... He tried to imagine another reason.
It was easy to do so.
"Between the two of us, he knew that I would go along; you were the wild card.
He had to control you, but he couldn't leave you behind either."
"Now is different and you know it." Luke pointed out. "He hasn't even
threatened you once, even though you have yourself. How about giving him a
break, Han?" he offered.
Chewie's expression matched Han's.
"I mean as long as he doesn't try anything, why not let him be?" he suggested
earnestly. "After all, he is working with us in this matter."
Han's conflicting emotions ran wild on his face: doubt, love, anger,
frustration, worry; his features were like a mosaic of feelings.
He settled for cooperation.
"All right, but only for as long as he'll behave himself." he warned him.
This time Luke openly smiled at the use of his father's preferred expression.
Solo turned toward the window, only to find it darkened.
"Leia!" he exclaimed, then bolted for the door.
His friend caught him as he ran past him.
"Han, don't! It's okay!"
Solo fought against him, easily freeing himself. Luke hurried to slide forward
and stand in front of his friend; he grabbed hold of his biceps and kept him
from going out again.
"Out of my way, Luke, or you'll be responsible for the consequences."
Luke noticed the words yet again, suddenly became aware of how similar his
father and friend were, then he noticed the close presence of the hulking
He had to convince Chewie to help him control Han. For Leia's sake.
"Han, listen to me. Everything is fine; this was a request of the medical team,
they don't want any disturbance, the operation is too difficult."
"No, he's hurting her."
He moved to throw Luke's hold off of him; the Jedi strained against him.
Chewie moved closer. Luke changed tactics.
"Chewie, believe me. She's fine, I can feel it. Remember, she's my sister. I
know how she feels, when she's in danger. She's not."
Meanwhile he continued to strain against Han, who managed to slip through his
arms and barrel for the close-by door.
Han had barely stepped inside the corridor when Chewbacca caught him by the
scruff of his shirt and pulled him back inside.
*Listen to the cub.* he said. *He knows what he's talking about.*
"Let me go, Chewie!" Han raged impotently.
He began to try and set himself free from his co-pilot. Luke caught one of his
flailing arm and helped Chewie control him.
"Han, think about it. Why would I lie? What possible motive could I have to
lie to you?" he asked earnestly
"'He' is lying to you!" Solo continued to argue.
Luke exchanged a look with the Wookiee who was holding Han's other arm. The
both of them were dragging him toward the middle of the room where they could
pin him more easily.
*Chewie, we can't let him disturb the operation! It's too dangerous!*
Faster than Luke thought possible, Chewbacca pulled Han down onto the floor and
easily pinned his hands above his head.
Han was furious.
"Skywalker, I swear you'll regret this." he spat.
He exchanged a look with the Wookiee; Chewie agreed with his decision.
Luke set his hand on Han's temple and knocked him out with the Force. Their
friend slumped in their hold.
*Now we know that he really loves her." Chewie commented.
"I've never doubted it, Chewie. I can't keep him that way for the next two
months though... You've known him for longer than I have. What will make him
change his mind?"
*To see for himself that she is fine.*
They were stuck then...
"Let's get him on the bunk. If we can't figure out a way to do that, we'll have
to make sure that he doesn't barge into the main room or bang on the window."
*I will keep an eye on him. You keep an eye on Leia."
Luke gaped slightly at the tall creature. He had just told him to use the Force
to check on his sister.
It was the first time that Chewie had clearly demonstrated his belief in the
"Thanks, I will."
He sat on the floor, cross-legged, and reached out. He quickly found the nearby
presences of his sister and father.
*What took you so long?* his father inquired.
*Trust problems... It's arranged. For the moment at least.*
*For the next operation the isolation will not be necessary, and after this one
is finished he will be allowed to see her. That might help to calm him.*
*Are you ready to begin?*
*Good. Follow me...*
Deep dark water, tower of ice.
*Princess Leia Organa, hear my call.*
Her answer came almost instantly.
*Go away, Vader.*
*Let me enter in your fortress, lower your walls, Daughter.*
*No, learning the truth about you has hurt me enough; I will not let you hurt me
again.* she spat vehemently.
*I don't mean you any harm, Leia. Let me help you. Let me guide you back to
your former self.* he pleaded with her.
*No. There's no light, no love, no reason to fight.*
*Leia, please.* he entreated her.
*No, I'll die before letting you in.* she defied him.
*Leia,* Luke sent, *hear my call.*
*Luke?* she asked, shifting her focus to the new, unexpected presence of her
*Yes, it's me. Let him help you, Leia. He won't harm you, I promise.*
*How can you be sure--?* she asked, her voice suddenly devoid of the strength
that she was pretending to have with their father.
*Look at me, sister. Look at my heart. What do you see?*
*Trust... and care.* she told him after a long silence.
*Now look in my heart, Leia.* Vader told her. *What do you see?*
An even longer silence followed the dark lord's question.
*Care.* she finally admitted.
*Will you let me help you?* her father asked her.
*Please, Leia...* Luke sent in the silence.
A small candle appeared to the window of the tower, showing her weary acceptance
of the dark lord's help.
In common agreement, Luke and Vader's spirits slowly rose to pass the princess's
As they continued to move inward, they ran into more walls.
The sturdiest of the lot was Leia's desire to protect her identity.
If she let the dark lord inside, it would, in her opinion, mean that she would
become like him.
Her father didn't force down her wall. Instead, he tried to reason with her.
*Leia, can you see yourself?* her father asked her.
*Yes...* she whispered, having given up any pretense of strength.
*Do you really see that much difference between Leia Organa and Leia Skywalker,
daughter of Lord Vader? It doesn't change who you are.*
*You're lying.* she said in a small voice.
*No, he isn't, Leia.* Luke cut in. *You are still the wonderful woman I've
grown to think of as a sister even before I knew the truth.*
*And you are still the young woman who has earned my respect despite the fact
that you were with the enemy, daughter. You are still as courageous, as kind,
as exceptional as before.*
A ponderous silence answered them. She was thinking.
*Let me help you, sister.* Luke pleaded.
*Let me bring your light back, daughter* Vader added.
The wall that was blocking their progress suddenly dissolved into thin air.
*Yes.* was Leia's answer.
Their father found her healing center without any other mishap and initiated her
Luke watched from a distance, taking care to soothe his sister's mind whenever
she showed an inkling to fight them off.
Many hours later, they left her mind to reintegrate their own bodies.
*Oof! We did it!* Luke breathed, wiping perspiration from his forehead.
*Thank you, son. Next time will be much easier.*
*That's a relief.* He smiled tiredly.
*Now , I'm sorry, but I have to concentrate here.* his father told him,
switching back to the Force.
Luke realized that he was going to continue the healing, but without him this
*Okay. I'll see you in the evening.* he told him, then slowly recovered his own
The moment that he opened his eyes, Han assailed him with questions about Leia.
Throughout the following month, the rebels lived with Vader.
Luke spent most of his time with books, or with his father to speak about his
Never before had he had so much knowledge laid before him. It was intoxicating,
overwhelming. It was like finding a water hole in the desert.
The moment that he had some spare time, he retreated to the library to select a
new book to devour.
Leia's condition improved slowly at first, then more quickly when she stopped
resisting her father's help.
Yes, almost everything was as fine as it could be... except for Han.
Luke knew that something was bothering his suspicious friend --- and that this
thing was his relationship with the dark lord.
More and more, the looks he gave him seemed to scream: "What the heck is going
The young Jedi knew that someday, probably sooner than later, the looks wouldn't
be enough and he would have to tell the truth to his friend.
Thus he tried to prepare himself.
He was still surprised when that moment arrived.
He was sitting in his chair by the window, reading.
Leia's condition was improving so he himself could concentrate on the other main
'concern' of his situation.
He completely forgot Han's presence, but he was reminded rather rudely.
"Kid!" Solo clipped.
"Umm?" Luke lifted his head.
"Are you here?"
"Um.. Yes, Han, what is it?"
He didn't notice it, but the way he said those words was purely like Vader's.
Han saw it and his eyes narrowed in mistrust.
"I have some questions and you're going to answer them." he stated, leaving no
room for argumentation. "I'm not blind, you know."
"What are you talking about?" Luke was aware of what this was about but
preferred to let his friend bring up the subject
"Well, perhaps 'you' are blind."
"Me?" Luke asked, puzzled.
"Okay. I'll go straight to the point here. What's wrong with you and his
"What do you mean what's wrong?" he scowled.
"Now, now, Kid. I'm really not as stupid as you think I am." Solo sneered
"I've never said---" Luke began.
"Yep, but you think it, heh? I don't have your mumbo-jumbo, but I have eyes.
What's going on , Luke? What 'really' is going on here?"
Luke eyes went from his friend who was standing in front of him to the Wookiee
who was sitting a few chairs away. He refocused on his friend.
"You'll never give up, will you, Han?" Luke asked in a slightly playful voice.
"Don't lead me astray, Kid." Solo warned him. "What's going on in Vader's dark
mind? Which nut has burst away?"
"Or perhaps it's about you, Skywalker. What's wrong with you?" Han commented
Solo lost his patience. "Damn it, Kid, you're acting like he is your best
friend! You read his books, go in his personal rooms, speak with him every time
that you can. Is he messing with your mind or what?"
Luke shook his head as he sat up to adopt a less relaxed position.
"No, Han, he's not. Really , there's nothing..."
"What I've said. I said 'enough' and I meant it. I want the truth ;
no persuasions, no manipulations, I want just the truth."
"The truth." Luke stated seriously.
He sighed warily.
It was too early ; his friend was not prepared for this. What if Han didn't
accept it?... Perhaps he could invent something until later on...
No! His friend trusted him to tell him the truth, so the truth it would be.
"OK." he said. "The truth."
He took a deep breath. Force be with him.
"He's our father."
Han gaped at him in disbelief.
"Vader. Is . Our. Father." Luke repeated very seriously.
"Your father?.." Solo whispered, unable to give a smart retort to that
Chewie was also dumbfounded.
Luke sighed in acceptance, then bent his head to gaze at the floor. He had a
pretty good idea how his friend was feeling at the moment.
"I've found out on Bespin... and discovered the truth about Leia a few months
later..." he explained warily. "I know that it sounds horrible, Han... Believe
when I tell you that this hasn't been easy for me to accept..."
"But you've accepted it." Solo pointed out.
Luke raised his head to meet his gaze once more.
"Of course I've accepted it. He's my father, Han, and he hasn't hurt me for the
past two years."
"Sure, but he has tormented you to no end before those quiet years."
Luke shook his head in exasperation and stood up.
"He's changed, Han. You've felt it yourself; he cares about us. Leia and I are
his children and he doesn't want to hurt us anymore."
"So?" Solo demanded with a barely concealed sneer.
"So," Luke stated, planting his fists on his hips "we can trust him, at least
this far. We are in one of the rare places where we're totally safe." he
"Yeah, or totally vulnerable." Solo sneered sarcastically.
"Han---" Luke began warningly.
"Kid, don't ask me to trust him like you do, okay. He is not my family, and I
haven't been craving for a father like you have."
"I haven't been craving for a father, and certainly not Vader." Luke defended
himself, his temper rising out of control now.
Solo grabbed his arm and forced him to meet his stare.
"Oh yeah? Then how do you explain that you've bonded with him so easily?"
Han dropped Luke's arm to jab his finger on his chest, right where his heart
"Your heart is playing tricks on you, Kid, and Vader will milk it for all its
worth. Oh, he might not hurt you physically, but you've said it yourself: he
isn't a good guy. He is a monster and I'd bet that he knows it as well as I do.
In the end, he will take advantage of you, one way or another." Han finished
Luke was stung by Han's words.
"No, you're wrong." he finally defended, putting some distance between himself
and his friend.
Chewie was still watching him from his sitting position.
Like usual, he seemed to side with his captain.
"The Force is guiding me," Luke tried to argue. "not my heart. Father won't do
any of that ; I know it."
Solo shook his head in annoyance. "Luke, listen how you're referring to him
already. He isn't a god, or a hero; he's a vicious darksider who happens to
have participated to your creation."
"Shut up." Luke spat all of a sudden before turning away from his friends.
Enough was enough; he didn't want to hear what he himself had been thinking
until up to a few months ago.
"Fine." Han shrugged and took a step backward. "Look at yourself though, Kid.
You've even started to talk like him."
That simple example cooled down Luke's anger... Han was right about that... He
turned back toward him.
Solo continued to speak, his tone friendlier than a few minutes before. "I've
told you what I thought; if you don't want to hear what I have to say, then it's
your choice, Kid. You'll deal with the consequences yourself though."
The two friends looked at each other, then Luke realized that Han was only
trying to protect him.
Well, he didn't need his protection, and certainly not in this matter. Solo was
an orphan, a loner. He didn't know anything about families, nor Jedis for that
"There won't be any consequences." he reassured him and himself yet again.
"Look, I know that you're trying to protect me, but I'm not a little brother,
Han. I can take care of myself, and I know I'm safe here; we all are. I
understand you though; I used to feel exactly the same way..." He expelled a
breath in frustration. "You wanted to know, Han, now you know, and now you too
have to deal with the weight of such knowledge."
"This isn't knowledge..." Solo grumbled.
*More like fate." Chewie commented.
Luke shook his head and forced himself to calm down. Getting angry wouldn't
help him in any way, nor would it help Han deal with his father when the time
would come... and thinking of which.
"I understand why you don't approve of my father, Han, but you will have to talk
with him as soon as possible."
Han's eyebrows arched up in surprise.
"Why? I'm not going to--"
"He doesn't approve of you either... he thinks Leia has made a wrong choice." he
The outburst came as expected.
"She has nothing to do with him!"
"Han, I said that he was 'our' father. Not only mine. Leia's too."
"That doesn't matter. She still has nothing to do with him. Blood is not
important. 'She' has nothing to do with him ; he has no right over her."
Luke was practically gaping at him now.
*Blood is not important..* his father had said.
"He agrees with you." he heard himself say. "Blood is not important for
definition of one's self."
"Oh?" Han asked. "Well... good. It's the first time that I agree with his
"However, he isn't happy about you and Leia." Luke reminded him.
"Well, it's mutual ; you can tell him that." Han stated adamantly.
Everything was said now and it was time to deal with the facts.
Despite his unexpected wisdom, Han just didn't seem to understand the whole
meaning, all the implications of what had been said.
Luke decided that it would be a good time to leave his friends alone.
He headed for the door.
"Hey! Where are you going?" Han asked him in genuine surprise.
"I'll leave you alone to sort this all out, Han." he explained. "I don't think
that my presence would help you. I'll come back when you'll be ready to speak
about it, or simply when you'll be ready to see me again."
"I'm... well," the pilot fumbled. "I don't know if I'll want to talk about it
or not, Kid... That's some revelation... but I'm not angry at you, just at how
you seem to be falling for a trap." He told him earnestly.
Luke sighed. "I know, Han... I know... But you'll have to trust me in this
"It looks like I don't have any other choice." Han agreed.
Luke turned away to leave.
"Say, how will you know when I'll want to speak to you if you're not here?" the
smuggler asked him.
"I will feel it." Luke smiled wistfully, then was gone.
Han and Chewie exchanged a dubious/bemused look.
"Vader's son all right, uh, Chewie?" Han finally commented.
*Like yet so unlike his father." the wise Wookiee crooned.
In the library, Luke sat heavily in his chair and thought.
No, Han was wrong, he had to be. He hadn't felt any deceit in his father which
meant that he wasn't manipulating him, and he knew his heart well enough to be
aware of it when it was playing tricks on him.
Sure, he had always wanted a father, but Han didn't know the horror and utter
defeat that he had felt when he had first heard of his father's true identity.
Back then he had wanted to die; he had been so very ashamed of his true
origins... It had taken him a long, long while to come to grips with the fact
that the dark lord had indeed played a part in his life, although an absent one.
Once he had dealt with that fact, he hadn't looked for Vader, and Vader hadn't
looked for him... until Leia's disappearance.
At first, Luke had really thought that he had been left with no option, but more
and more, he could detect subtle stirrings in the Force whenever his family was
His calling on his father's help hadn't been a coincidence. It had been the
Force... and that was why Leia would be completely restored to normal, thanks
again to the Force.
It had taken a desperate situation to bring them all together, he realized, a
situation which would allow them to 'know' each other, not just fight and make
assumptions. Sure, Vader wasn't the exact picture of what he wanted in a
father, but he cared for him and he respected his choices, as long as he himself
did the same. Besides, Luke couldn't judge him yet... he had barely begun to
piece together the puzzle that was Darth Vader... He was even almost looking
forward to completing the picture.
Of course, he knew that his father wanted to do the same thing with him, and
what surprised him most was that he didn't mind.
That was as long as things went as well as they did now... but if they changed,
he would flee away and accept that his father was dead.
His dream-father had never been anyway, leaving him with the very opposite of
what he had hoped to find.
Or was it? Perhaps not completely..., he admitted to himself.
He would see in time.
He let his mind wander along those thoughts for some more minutes before his
eyes rested on a book on a table near him.
He picked it up and began to read some more about the Jedis of old.
3 hours later, he was still in the library.
*Luke.* his father called in his mind.
*Huh?* Luke looked up; for a second, he stared blankly at the black figure.
Then, after a moment his mind seemed to synchronize with the present and he was
able to reassert himself in his actual situation.
"Hello, Father. Sorry, I was a little lost in the book."
"So I saw." Vader sat down near his son. "You're disturbed. What is it?"
"I've told Han everything." he said in a small voice.
"I see. How did he take it?" his father asked, a note of gentleness tainting his
normally cool voice.
"Well... He's in shock, even if he's refusing to admit that fact. But he's
accepted the truth itself."
"Good." Vader nodded. "Luke, I must talk about something with you."
"What is it?" the young Jedi asked, his sad mood turning to worry in the space
of a few heartbeats.
"I want to wake up Leia." his father explained simply.
"What?!" Luke gaped. "But she's not completely healed!"
"Almost. Her scars look more painful than they truly are and her body can
function without the help of the monitors. Only the esthetic of her face is left
now. She might even wake up on her own now: she's perfectly stable."
"But she'll be in pain!" Luke pointed out animatedly.
"Yes, and that's why I want to do it."
Luke's mind seemed to make a 360 degree turn upon hearing those words. His
mouth went dry.
"W-What-- what do you mean?" he finally managed to ask in uncertainty.
"Don't worry, son. I shall not do it without your consent. Let me explain."
"Yes, please do." Luke nodded, unable to hide his distraught state.
"How did she feel to you when you've last helped me?"
"Well... Passive. Accepting. Calm. Why?"
"She's letting herself die. She doesn't see any necessity to struggle."
Luke eyes bulged in surprise this time.
"What? That's ridiculous, Father. Leia would never do this. She's a fighter.
Besides, you've just said that she was in good condition! She can't die." He
stated, as much to deny his opinion as to reassure himself.
No, he couldn't loose his sister... not now that he had found her.
"She can." The wise dark lord told him. "She is physically well, but she's
"And this is why you want to wake her." Luke summarized for him.
"Yes. The necessity to heal will wake up her personality. She's a warrior, Son,
you've said so yourself. Her need to overcome both her physical and mental pain
will make her stronger."
"What mental pain?" Luke asked him, getting worried once again.
"Her subconscious knows the truth about us... but her consciousness doesn't yet.
When she will wake up, she will become aware of the truth of our family."
"Oh no..." he breathed in horror. Not again... "I-I thought that she was done
So not only would Leia have to deal with her physical pains, but she would have
to process her dark secret as well...
It was Bespin all over again, he told himself. It was the very thing that he
had tried to protect her from.
"She is not you nor me, Father." Luke told him, hoping against hope that his
father would understand that Leia wasn't always strong.
"Fortunately. But, she is much more like me that you are permitting yourself to
see. Luke, I know what I'm talking about. It will help her."
Up to now, his father's advice had always been sound... Perhaps he should also
trust him in this matter, he thought hesitatingly.
"Perhaps..." he agreed, gazing down at his hands, then something occurred to him
and he raised