A Brief Paws in the Rebellious Life of Luke
Author: Deja Vu
Summary: This is a response to a challenge posted in the Luke/Vader Writers mailing list for the list's one year anniversary. The conditions were to compose a work that contained Luke, Vader, a "Celebration of some sort of anniversary" (like "birthday, wedding, death, destruction of moon-sized space stations"), and the phrase "You keep using that word—I do not think it means what you think it means."
Rating: No language, not really any violence.
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars, but this story is mine.
Chararacters: Luke, Vader, and OCs.
It was the third anniversary of the destruction of the Death Star. Jubilations could be heard all throughout the temporary base as Rebels expressed their triumphant ecstasy. Many of the more influential Rebels had gathered together to celebrate in a more restrained fashion, but as Leia Organa listened to Admiral Ackbar reminisce, she couldn't help but notice that two men she greatly admired were missing.
The first was unceremoniously held in a block of carbonite on a ship belonging to a galaxy renown bounty hunter, and the second had returned to his homeplanet for reasons she couldn't understand.
What Leia didn't know was that even he didn't fully understand his reasons. But as he stood over the graves of his one-time guardians, he began to realize his reasons of temporary separation with the Rebel Alliance a bit more clearly.
He had nothing to celebrate.
His aunt and uncle were dead, killed because they had unknowingly bought a pair of droids carrying the blueprints to the same moon-sized space station he had destroyed on this very day three years ago, and his mentor Ben Kenobi had even been affected by that accursed Death Star, getting slain while trying to release the Millennium Falcon from the persistent hold of a tractor beam. Remembering the Death Star's destruction just brought Luke more pain.
He could have stayed with Leia and the other Rebels at the base, but Leia was still suffering over the abduction of Han, and he—somewhat selfishly—didn't feel like handling that sorrow at the moment. He had even left both droids behind and brought a one-man ship to Tatooine so he could complete his lightsaber and mourn the dead in solitude, as they should have been mourned long ago.
Sometimes, Luke wanted to join his aunt and uncle. They had no more problems.
But even while they were alive they didn't let pressures from the outside galaxy concern them. They were always satisfied with what they had. It was Luke that had been constantly yearning to be anywhere but on the wretched desert wasteland.
And what had Luke Skywalker found when he left Tatooine? Darth Vader, a man who claimed to be his father, a man on the opposite side of what Luke fought for.
And he hated him.
Hated that dark mask, hated that black suit, hated every aspect about him. Luke was nothing like him...
But he was the only family Luke had.
Closing his eyes, he knelt on his knees, hands grasping at the dry, dead sand as if to find some trace of life. No, he couldn't hate him...He wanted to, wanted his own passionate animosity to rival that which Leia harbored...But he couldn't.
He couldn't hate his father.
Squeezing his eyes more tightly together, he murmured in desperation to the sand, "I only wish there was some way I could find out if there really is good in him."
A lesson to be learned by all is to never wish for things without specification. Regret can often follow such an action, and it certainly followed the wish that Luke made.
When he finally opened his eyes, he discovered that no longer was it sand beneath his feet, but durasteel, and no longer did a desert loom around him, but an enormous hall of a size that seemed to rival a hangar bay's.
Luke gasped, "What in the—"
—or at least he tried to. The noise that came out of his mouth didn't even sound vaguely similar.
As he gazed around with widened blue eyes, a horrific thud, thud, thud came to his ears. A giant boot soon came into view, and as Luke's mouth gaped open, he raised his head higher and higher and higher and saw an enormous mask that had brought fear into more than one of his dreams.
Darth Vader was in a foul mood. It was the third anniversary of the destruction of the Death Star. Such a matter meant little to him—he had always thought that using such a vast amount of resources for a planet-destroying space station was a foolish plan—but Palpatine had been in a bad mood over the matter of the anniversary of the obliterated Death Star and the matter of the slow progress that was being made with the still unfinished second Death Star.
He had just finished talking with the Emperor and was now heading back to his quarters to relieve some of his anxiety with a good lightsaber duel against a pair of droids, figuring that chopping off a few robotic limbs might serve to improve his mood.
For anyone to be standing in front of the door to the Dark Lord's quarters was quite unusual, but even more unusual was the sight before him.
A horrified tawny cat sat clenching with strained paws at the floor, looking like a womprat in the headlights.
Now, Vader hadn't seen an unsupervised animal in such a situation in quite some time, and as he pondered how in space a feline had gotten aboard his Super Star Destroyer, his steps slowed.
The surprised cat finally let loose a pathetic sound: "Mewl."
When Vader was younger, he had always felt a strange affinity toward animals, probably because on Tatooine he had never been able to keep a pet. As he had grown older, however, he had become more distant from the idea after seeing some of the hideous beasts the Emperor kept about. He was about to retreat and request that a Stormtrooper or officer remove it when he noticed its strange blue eyes staring at him, looking much more humanlike than catlike.
Frowning beneath his helmet, Vader opened the door to his quarters experimentally. The cat looked to him, as if for reassurance, and then entered.
On down the hall, an aide slowed and frowned. Biting his lip, he turned back from whence he came.
Luke thought he was about to explode as the realization of what had happened to him sank in. His paws, about the color of his hair in his human body, were tensely gripping the floor.
In his human body? What was he thinking?
This had to be a dream. Those could not be real whiskers in front of his face, and Darth Vader could not have just opened that door for him, a cat, to come inside.
He glanced behind himself as he began entering what he assumed were Vader's quarters—and instantly wished he hadn't. An upright tail swished behind him like a snake, taunting him for the situation he found himself in.
His brain went into overdrive.
He wasn't a cat, he wasn't a cat...Did he just smell tuna?
No, no! He wasn't a cat...He wasn't a cat...
Darth Vader stared at the cat.
The cat stared at him.
Feeling ridiculous, the Sith Lord finally inquired, "What is it that you want?"
The cat meowed, big blue eyes staring at him. He recognized those eyes...But he couldn't quite put his finger on them...
Vader finally went over to the food dispenser, returning with a plate of fish that he levitated down to sit in front of the feline. "If that is all you want, I suggest you eat and then leave."
The animal looked down at the fish, up at Vader, and back down at its prospective meal. Then the feline promptly sat on its haunches and mrowled.
Vader sat down in a chair he rarely used; in fact, he couldn't quite remember why he had the chair. But a more important question was before him. Why didn't he just throw the beast out?
Seeming to think for a second, the cat hopped into his lap and then up onto the table next to him. It stared down at the food on the floor with what looked like a kitty frown, finally holding up a tawny paw and slicing it through the air multiple times.
"You want me to cut it for you?" the Sith Lord asked at last, incredulously.
He could have sworn the cat just nodded.
Cursing inwardly, Vader began to get up, but he quickly sat back down. It was inconceivable. This cat couldn't understand him.
But Luke understood Vader's speech very well, and he understood his own position even more.
So, Father has a soft spot for animals, huh? he thought wickedly. Let's see how far he'll let this go.
Luke began growling deep within his throat as he stared at Darth Vader, who looked more flustered than he had ever thought possible for a Sith Lord in intimidating dark armor to look.
Tilting his helmet at the cat angrily, Vader finally gave into his new companion's wishes, slicing the fish up. "Does that please you, you flea-infested beast?"
The feline began growling louder until finally Vader hissed, "I do not have to put up with this insolence!"
Then the tawny fur on the cat's back began to raise. "Very well. You do not have fleas." A warning growl. "You are not a beast either."
A low purr finally came from the more satisfied feline, who hopped down and began daintily scooping the slices of fish up in a small paw and placing them in an awaiting mouth.
Staring at the communications unit and wondering why he had not already called someone in to rid him of this pest, Vader finally inquired, "Are you male or female?"
The cat stared at the Sith Lord as if the fact that Vader even had to ask disgusted it.
"Seeing as you cannot talk, it appears I will have to find out on my own."
Blue eyes widened as the feline tried in vain to scurry away, but the Force lifted the cat easily up and toward Vader.
The Sith Lord grabbed the cat by both sides and attempted to check the animal's more private areas when a shriek caused him to pause, and a massive spitting hairball began shredding his gloves and scratching at anything in sight.
Cursing in Huttese, Vader dropped the foul creature, who ran over to a corner, hunching down and glaring laser bolts.
"Male, then. You may continue eating."
The feline looked at him suspiciously, tawny hair still sticking straight up in the air, but finally the cat walked over to the food bowl, keeping an eye on him.
Darth Vader was about to leave the room to engage in a duel that had been delayed for far too long when he paused. "Are you thirsty?"
Another one of those suspicious-looking nods.
Resisting the urge to sigh, Vader went searching for something liquid that would be appropriately catlike enough.
"Didn't I send you out with those datacards?" Grand Moff Zhiemm growled, spittle dropping from his swollen lips.
"Yessir," the black-haired aide, Souven, said quickly, "but I have some knowledge you might consider to be of use."
"Irrelevant! Nothing you know is of any use to me!"
Souven continued anyway. "Sir, it concerns Darth Vader."
"Oh?" the heavy-set Grand Moff's interest was piqued. "Go on."
"Well, I was walking through the halls with the datacards—"
"Irrelevant!" Zhiemm interrupted. "To the point!"
"I saw Darth Vader, sir...letting a cat into his room," Souven was almost whispering.
"Doing what, do you say?"
"A cat...he let it in his room..."
The Grand Moff looked suspicious, "Are you sure you saw what you saw?"
"More sure than sure can be."
"Would you stake your life on it? I don't hold with other's treachery."
"I swear to it."
"We shall see."
Vader had kept trying to pass into another room, but Luke had prevented him from doing so several times. He knew now that Vader wouldn't hurt him in his catlike form. Yes, no kitty paws would be chopped off this time—err, no hands—and he was ready to wreak a little mischief.
As the Sith Lord turned once more, Luke hopped back up onto the table and took the datapad resting on it into his tawny paws, shoving it off the table. When it fell to the floor, he jumped off the table and then sent the datapad flying under the nearby chair. He would be amused to see Darth Vader lean down to pick that up.
Luke was disappointed, however, when Vader used the Force to call the datapad to him.
Drats. He'd forgotten about that for a moment.
He scanned the room for a moment, his eyes finally landing on a sort of black globe. It seemed to be some sort of droid...But it was shut off.
Luke flung his feline body across the room, landing on top of it and holding tight.
"What are you—" Vader growled, finally reaching out to the Force and using it to bring the ball-shaped droid to him, hoping the cat would fall off.
Luke didn't fall off, though, and instead watched wide-eyed as Vader's face came toward his own fast. Screeching with his feline lungs, Luke sprung off the interrogation droid and onto Vader's helmet, holding on tightly with sharp claws.
They remained that way for a few moments, Luke glued to Vader's helmet like a fly to flypaper, Vader standing stock still like a Tatooinian moisture vaporator.
Finally, Luke pried himself off the dark helmet claw by claw and looked sheepishly down at the two eyeholes in Vader's mask.
Stressed, he pathetically whimpered, "Mwrowl."
There was a cat on his helmet.
Vader had never thought he would live to see the day that a ball of living fur would latch onto his mask. A lot of strange things had happened to him, but this had to top them all.
When the cat mewled at him in an almost pleading tone, his nerves finally calmed down. All thoughts of his frustrated search for his son and of his master's bad disposition were gone.
All there was now was this blue-eyed cat clinging desperately to Vader's head for dear life.
A person could learn a lot from an animal as simple as a cat. Why would a cat need to worry about a war raging in the galaxy when all it needed was in one room?
Vader gently took the cat off his helmet with both hands, staring at him. "Why are you here?"
The feline tilted his head almost sadly, blue eyes downcast.
Suppressing a sigh, Vader asked him, "Would you care to watch a lightsaber duel?"
Souven winced as he attached the microscopic bug onto the droid. If Vader discovered it, necks would be crushed.
Zhiemm's droid was instructed to enter Vader's quarters and give him a datacard concerning possible Rebel locations. If it didn't see the Sith Lord, then it was to exit immediately after depositing the hearing device. Souven just hoped the plan worked.
Fortunately for Souven, after the droid typed in the passcode, known only by a few higher ups like Grand Moff Zhiemm, the robot was quickly in and out of Vader's quarters.
"It is done," its mechanical voice droned.
"Good," Souven smiled. Zhiemm was going to love this news.
"What?" Zhiemm shouted, his chubby cheeks turning red. "Irrelevant! Irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant! We could easily fake his voice! What we need is something we can see!"
"But sir, a device to do that would be more noticeable, and he would probably—"
"Irrelevant!" the Grand Moff huffed.
The aide narrowed his eyes, frowning, "You keep using that word—I do not think it means what you think it means."
Zhiemm stared at him.
Luke was awed as he watched his father in action. He was pitted against three lightsaber-wielding droids, yet he was somehow easily holding his own.
The Sith Lord's movements were so fluid Luke wondered how he had ever been able to survive the duel against Vader at Bespin.
But as Luke watched Darth Vader fight, he realized how immoral fighting was. The truth could win or lose in a fight. The battle accomplished little—it just showed who was the better fighter. People should just talk out their problems...the way a family should.
As Luke looked down at his tawny paws, it was hard to believe that such a powerful man was his father. He realized that as long as his father was alive, he would have something to fight for.
There was good in him. Had the man wholly been Darth Vader, he probably would have unknowingly crushed his son's windpipes and thrown the dead feline body into the garbage chute.
Luke blinked at the red saber, and his thoughts began to muddle as it slowly coalesced into green. As he kept blinking, he realized he was back on Tatooine, his own ignited saber in his hand. Frowning, he looked down at the graves of his deceased guardians.
Had it all been a dream?
Meanwhile, back on the Executor, Vader had finally downed all three droids, and as he stood staring around for his tawny companion, he realized the cat was gone.
Frowning inwardly but not letting himself consider the incident any further, Vader left the room and with an effortless use of the Force crushed a microscopic bug he had just sensed. He would have a short talk with that Admiral Zhiemm. That would be the last time the ambitious man tried to usurp Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith.