a/n: this idea kind of - wouldn't leave me alone. so it's a take on Vader realizing there's something very significant about Leia, and even something significant to his personal destiny - though of course, his exploration of that is thwarted when Luke Skywalker consumes his attention - but I don't buy that all powerful Sith Lord Vader had no inkling at all that Leia was at least Force sensitive - set after Tarkin orders Leia's execution, and just barely before the rescue

Siren Song

The battle station shook with the might of planetary death, and the swell of unrefined terror and panic that had burst through the Force at the moment of destruction faded – the horrified and shocked screams and wails of many billions were silenced in a sun-bright explosion, desperate sounds of fear fading into obliterated nothingness –

Long after the wails of dying Alderaan had dwindled into silence, a solitary, scream blared through Lord Vader's ears –

The noise was like nails dragged across some resistant surface; it was violent, raging, taut with anguish and despair; the sheer volatility of it was palpable, and the volume was irrepressible – and Lord Vader listened to the sound with unperturbed disdain, for a while, mocking the outrage of the living Force – for that's what he assumed this lingering scream was, initially; an audial reaction of the energy field that he twisted and manipulated, protesting against such sadistic and perverse loss of life.

The lonely scream failed to weaken; it showed no sign of growing faint, and so Lord Vader's disdain morphed and twisted into curiosity as he focused inward on the racket, unable to pinpoint its origin – if it was not the strangled cry of the Force, then what? Alderaan's multitudes had been muted immediately, even the strongest presence was ash and silence, and yet this never-ending screech remained – and Lord Vader's curiosity faded into discomfort and frustration –

The screaming clawed at his mental balance, pounded his skull like a flurry of hammers, drowned out his thoughts – it was a desolate cry, desperate keening, carrying nuanced emotions that seemed to range from utter devastation to molten vengeance –

Lord Vader wallowed in the sound, sequestered behind mask and armor, unreadable, bristling with an ache in his head, a headache the likes of such he hadn't experienced since his more mortal days – the buzzing, clipped conversation of the officers around him was nothing while he stewed in his determined analysis, prying through the echoing scream – was this retribution, his own punishment, the spark of drowned, choked light in his subconscious railing against him for what he had allowed – ?

He reached out through the Force with aggression, strangling the energy field with the commanding hand of the Sith – not asking, as was the way of the Jedi, but demanding answers – and he saw the cells of the battle station, remembered how the sound of prisoners begging for help and screaming for mercy could sometimes echo down hallways near to them –

His realization was abrupt, incredulous – it gave him pause, and his temples – what was left of them, the mass of mottled, rotting skin beneath his mask - throbbed -

"It's her."

His words were abrupt, unexpected – unrelated to the discussion at hand, and silence fell on the officers as they looked at him warily – fear and apprehension in their eyes.

"Lord Vader?"

One of them ventured a question, and Vader said nothing – his labored breath was loud in the room, and he reflected on his realization – it was not uncommon for him to hear the entreaties and the wails of the captives when he reached into the Force, but never before had one of them plagued him beyond his control – he should have realized it sooner, but the Force could be elusive; one had to ask the right questions.

Vader rose without a word, sparing not glance for Tarkin or any of the others, abruptly leaving the room – his footsteps were heavy, his pace authoritative and intimidating, and not a soul stood in his way as he marched towards her cell block, marveling, all the way, with fascination, a dark sort of respect, and ultimately, rage, at the power of that scream –

He gave a cold look to the guards as he passed them, saying nothing; they seemed unconcerned, and they should have stopped her racket long before Vader had to step in; they scurried back from him - they knew better than to stop him in his tracks, and he stopped before the door of her cell, head tilted at an angle – curious, that such a slip of a girl, such an antagonistic brat of a thing, could make so much destructive noise that it plagued him through the Force all the way across the battle station.

Black gloved palm on the access pad, he opened the cell door, filling the doorway with his bulk, tall and terrible –

-and Lord Vader found himself, for the first time in years, taken aback –

He had expected violence – kicking walls, bloody knuckles, physical evidence of this wild distress – and yet he found nothing.

He found the slight Princess sitting in a corner, her back straight, her skin as clear and pale as it had been an hour ago when the explosion of her home glittered in her wide, wet eyes – she sat silently, lips compressed, not a sound escaping her – leaving Vader to come to the conclusion that her screaming was internal.

There were no tears on the girl's face, nor even the evidence of faded tears – and when her head turned, and she looked at him with an iron expression, jaw tight, the wretched sound was amplified the moment he caught her gaze and he thought – she does not know she is doing it.

The scream bellowed, and Vader resisted the pathetically human urge to put his hands to his ears – she was a mite, she was nothing; a pure white feather, a dull thorn in a Sith Empire's side, and yet she vibrated and pierced through the Force like lightning and thunder – and Vader was nearly bowled over to discern, suddenly, some connection, that seemed to ensure he could feel her presence, and to ensure he would suffer her despair.

He lifted his hand, palm out.

"Be silent."

His voice was harsh, metallic; she blinked at it was the only sign of a flinch – her brow knit just barely perceptibly in confusion, and she said nothing.

The scream spilled on like a siren, and Vader lunged forward; her reaction was involuntary, swift – she turned her back and covered her head, making no noise, and he grabbed her by the back of her dress, spinning her around.

She closed her eyes furiously, lips moving soundlessly – praying, perhaps; sick with the memories of what he'd already done to her when he ripped through her head searching for answers.

"Be silent," he commanded, his head still raging, fighting off the anguish she couldn't vocalize – the wretched little brat must have some latent sensitivity, if all of the suffering she was too traumatized to express burst through the ethereal realm –

-and plagued him, plagued him beyond anything, gripped and grabbed at him, provoked feelings of – distress, even guilt, things he barely recognized as human emotion anymore –

He released her as if he had been burned, his face close to hers, breathing in – out – in – out, heavy, and intent.

"What are you?" he asked in a whisper, words coiling out of his mouthpiece like snakes.

She lifted her chin, and suspicion washed over him, coiled in his gut and in all of his frayed and torn muscles – sensitivity to power lurked inside her, that much was evident – but hidden, and hidden well – someone has protected her.

He put his thumb and forefinger on her forehead and held her down, plunging through her head again – frustrated as effortlessly as the last time – he lurched back and she backed into a corner, turning her face away, shaking all over.

Untrained, he thought – that much was clear. Unaware of it herself.

"Who are you?" he asked.

His words were rhetorical, thoughtful – and her screaming continued, shaking and choking and scared now, a jumble of words and feelings in the pulse of the Force around her; she wanted her mother, she wanted her father, she hated the Empire, she was going to kill them all

Vader straightened – thoughtful, perturbed; her rage was beautiful.

If it could be harnessed –

Vader breathed out slowly, his head tilted again.

The power of her emotions bled through the Force; all star destroyer fuel and gasoline and incendiary pain, holding steady at a breaking point, and Vader stepped back – she could be a cataclysm, if he could train her.

"Interesting," he remarked callously.

He moved towards her, and this time she did make a noise, a desperate gasp, as if she were trying to draw on any strength she had left – it wasn't a noise of defeat, but a bloody sound that warned she still had fight in her, she refused to beg for mercy.

Vader lay his palm on the top of her head and knocked her out with a sharp jolt directly to her core.


He stepped back, the hissing of his respirator suddenly the only noise in the room – she was silenced, the throbbing in his skull eased, and he looked at her, slumped on her side, limp and tiny and young –

There was something lurking here, some elusive truth, some specter – and Vader concluded that she was useful yet, rebel base be damned – Tarkin would be made to stay her execution while Lord Vader spoke to the Emperor about her.

He crouched down, observing her, and he found himself startled by her yet again when she opened her eyes heavily, fighting against his spells, natural resistance cropping up – he felt drawn into her eyes. He rose, standing over her, and curled his fingers towards his own neck.

"You," he rasped in an intent growl, "are a headache, Princess."

She rose on her elbows and bared her teeth at him, a declawed little kitten who still had the gall to snap at wolves.

"Fuck you."

She turned on her side, her back to him, defiant still, and he retreated in silent reflection, eyes never leaving her.

Yes; there was something lurking here, something about this mouthy, traitorous would-be warrior queen – and it was something shudderingly familiar – Vader watched her, and resolved that Tarkin would not have his way; there would be no executed Leia Organa until Vader had wrung all of the answers he could out of this mystery, this tangle of questions that surrounded her and her latent power.

The princess shivered violently, and like a tocsin, the screaming came off her again while she lay there in rigid silence, and behind the black mask, Vader's emaciated and decayed lips turned up in what passed for a smile of grudging respect.

"Impressive," he breathed.

Her klaxon shrieking would fade in time – it persisted, occupying him, mesmerizing him, until it was abruptly doused, replaced with very real alarms ringing from her cell block – he was furious that she, this fascinating creature, slipped through his fingers – in the silence that fell when she was whisked away from the battle station with the boy who soon garnered all of his attention, Lord Vader's head still ached with the fury of her siren song and he had a fierce desire, even if it was the death of him, to see that girl survive.

two things -

-I've never written Vader before
-I take a lot of pleasure in Leia unwittingly giving Vader a really bad headache

story #315