He had done it. He had killed Han Solo. After all his time, he had finally taken the step that would secure his passage towards the Dark Side. He was no Sith, not yet, but the Sith and their ideology formed the very core of the values that the dark side embodied. Strength, passion, and freedom. He had unified all that the Sith held dear when he had done it, he had truly broken away from the temptation of the Light Side of the Force.
At least, that was what he had expected. Yet it was all still here. The old temptations, the old doubts, and the old guilt still haunted him. It made him want to scream in frustration. It should have stopped, it was how the Dark Side was supposed to work. When his grandfather, Darth Vader, had severed his emotional attachments to his wife by killing her, he had become one of the most powerful Sith the galaxy had ever known. So why hadn't it worked when he had done the same?
He paced in the room he was in. It was a medical center at the very heart of First Order territory. He had just finished his Bacta treatments yesterday, and even then he was set to undergo a secondary treatment tomorrow just to be safe. He had been permitted his lightsaber and armor under the permission of Supreme Leader Snoke. The second he had received his helmet, he had slid it on, feeling a little more comfortable after he had done so. Even then, it had only taken the edge off.
"I've followed the code of the Sith to the letter," he said to no one in particular, pacing up and down the room. On instinct, his hand clutched the hilt of his lightsaber. "Why do I still doubt myself?" He had kept many of these doubts to himself ever since he had formed the Knights of Ren, not even confiding in Snoke Sith did not show weakness, it invited attacks from those who wished to usurp him. He had to keep a strong front, both against his leader and his followers.
In private, however, his guard lowered. It all became too much to bear, and he turned to the one person he admired most, who he always knew he could confide it. He paused in his pacing. He had long since lost the helmet and remains of his grandfather, they had been destroyed along with Starkiller Base. It was a painful thought to consider, ever since he had found them long since abandoned in the remains of his funeral pyre on Endor. They had been invaluable possessions of his, a source of comfort when he had needed it the most. But they were mere physical objects, and his grandfather was so much more than a burnt helmet and scorched skull.
"Grandfather. Vader," he said, dropping to one knee. "I need you now more than ever. The light surrounds me from all sides, no matter what I do. I do everything I can to walk the path of the dark, but it pulls me back. You are like me. You were entranced by the empty promises of the Jedi, before you realized the truth. You went further than all but a handful of Sith. Please. Help me do as you did."
"Don't…" an incredibly faint voice said. Kyo Ren jumped to his feet, shock and excitement coursing through him in equal measure. He had so often reached out to the Force for guidance, and never before had he ever had a response. This was a sign, a sign that something had changed. His grandfather was finally providing him with the guidance he needed. "Don't," came again.
"Yes, I hear you, don't what?" Kylo Ren asked. "Don't look back? Don't mourn my father? I've been trying, but it pulls at me no matter how much I try to force it away. There must be something more I can do, guide me. I'm your blood, I know that I can be the same kind of Sith that you could-" but he was interrupted.
"No...don't...this path. Walk...this path. Don't walk this path." The voice was slowly becoming more and more clear, as well as more audible. "Turn...back."
Kylo Ren blinked. Was this some sort of test? To see if he was truly worthy of inheriting the mantle of the Dark Side? He supposed that, after all his failings and shortcomings, Darth Vader was right to see if his grandson was truly worthy of being Sith. Kylo Ren intended to rise to the challenge. "I know you are disappointed in me, but I chose the way of the Sith for a reason. I may have faltered, many more times than I care to admit. I will improve, however, and I will-"
"NO!" Without any warning, Kylo Ren was no longer alone in the room. An old man was there, a man with a round face and white beard, wearing the white and brown robes of the Jedi. On pure instinct, Kylo Ren's lightsaber flew to his hand, the unstable weapon igniting. With a mighty, two handed swing, he struck the man with a blow that would sever him in half. His lightsaber passed harmlessly through him.
Kylo Ren took a step back, assuming a defensive position. He desperately racked his brain for an explanation for how anyone could survive a blow like that, when he spotted it. The man in front of him have a blow glow around him, and he did not seem to be truly solid. Kylo Ren had heard about this often, but had never seen it before. "A Force Ghost?" he whispered. "Grandfather?"
The man nodded. "I'm glad we can finally meet," the man said. "I have enjoyed watching you from afar, but a small part of me wishes that I could have been there for you. I know it's been hard Ben, but-"
"Kylo. Not Ben, Kylo Ren." The words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He felt angry with himself for not being able to control himself. He was speaking to Darth Vader. "I'm sorry, forgive me," he said quickly. "If I have not earned that name in your eyes, then I do not deserve to be referred to by it. But I do promise that I will make you proud enough to call me Kylo Ren, and eventually by the title of Darth."
He smiled, hoping that Vader would return it. Instead, the man looked saddened. Almost disappointed. "Ben, please, listen to me," Vader said. "You are making a mistake, the greatest mistake you could ever make in your life. If you don't fix it now, you will regret it for the rest of your life. I know, I've done the same. The Dark Side isn't what you think it is. It will take everything you hold dear, destroy it, and leave you with nothing but hollow nothingness."
Kylo Ren blinked in disbelief. An ache started to throb deep within him. A pain he had felt the moment he had driven his lightsaber into the heart of his father, one that he had felt certain would pass after he had had time to rest. Yet it was back. "You've already felt it, haven't you," Vader said sadly. "Han Solo. I knew him. A brave man. Flawed in many ways, but one that would always stand firm against those who wished to do harm. He fathered a fine son." Vader gave a small smile. "I hope that that son is still in there somewhere."
"He isn't," Kylo Ren said defensively. "Ben Solo died a long time ago, he died with the students of Luke Skywalker. Grandfather, I don't understand." Confusion was welling up inside of him. Darth Vader dressed like a Jedi? Talking like a Jedi? What was going on? Was this some kind of trick? A ploy by the light side of the force? It certainly could be. The ache it was making him feel, playing on his compassion, was a tactic he would expect from the light side. "You're Darth Vader. Why are you telling me this?"
"That's exactly why Ben. You see me as Darth Vader. The galaxy as a whole sees me as Darth Vader. The man who snuffed out billions if not trillions of lives, directly and indirectly. I've left little worth dedicating to memory, unless as a cautionary tale that is. I'm hated Ben. They all hate me for what I've done. If I had lived, I could have spent century after century atoning for my misdeeds, and they would all still. And they would be right to. My son may have forgiven me, but he is but one to sentient life as a whole. I look back at everything I've done with regret. The only moment I don't regret in the last two decades of my life are that I died as Anakin Skywalker, not Darth Vader. I don't want that for you Ben."
"No...NO!" Kylo Ren wasn't sure why he was shouting. It could have been the constant use of the name Ben, the contradiction of everything he personally held dear, or even the fact that the ghost before him had referred to himself as Anakin Skywalker. His lightsaber was still in his hands, and now it was raised again. "You're lying, the real Darth Vader would never tell me to abandon the Dark Side."
"Technically, yes," Anakin said. "If only because the real Darth Vader ceased to exist a long time ago. Just before my death, in fact. It is not impossible to to back where you once came from. Just as I became Anakin Skywalker again, you too can become Ben Solo."
"Why are you telling me this?" Kylo Ren hissed, the confusion slowly being replaced with anger, even though the ache in him didn't weaken. "What purpose is there in returning to the light? It doesn't offer the freedom that the dark does."
"The dark only offers the freedom of self destruction," Anakin said. "I know it all too well from experience. I was afraid of losing everything and everyone I loved, so I turned to the ways of the Sith. I only ended up realizing my fears faster than anyone else ever could. I became the second most powerful man in the galaxy, all feared me, I could have whatever I wanted, and I was miserable and hated myself. I had forgotten why I had ever turned in the first place, and only sought power for the sake of power, becoming the thing I had sworn to fight against. There is no future in the Sith. Only anger, hate, and suffering."
"Shut up!" Kylo Ren screamed. "I've sacrificed everything for this! I can't go back to the way things used to be. There's NOTHING to go back to! I'd be killed! My mother...she'd ordered me executed. I know she would. I killed the man she loved." The ache throbbed in his chest again. Part of him, a part he hated in despised, wanted to do what Anakin said. He wished things could go back to simpler times. But he forced those thoughts away.
"I understand," Anakin said sympathetically. He took a step forward, which Kylo Ren countered by taking a step back to compensate. "Too much damage has been done for you to simply return to them. But you can atone. Leave behind the First Order, leave behind Kylo Ren. Travel the galaxy and live a humble life, helping those that you can. Help stop the First Order, make sure no more planets die to justify their existence. You are in tune with the Force, Ben. There's so much you can do with it.
"NO!" Again, Kylo Ren's lightsaber swung. It passed right through Anakin's neck, doing nothing. "Go! NOW!" He swung his lightsaber wildly, not caring anymore if he was properly hitting the Force Ghost. Sparks flew wildly from all the equipment he was hitting, a Bacta tank was cut in half, a pair of beds were reduced to pieces, and the walls were coated with scorch marks. A blinding fury had seized him, and all he could think to do was to keep swinging his lightsaber, to drive away the thing that was tormenting him.
When the fury finally left him, Anakin Skywalker was gone. He heaved in exhaustion, deactivating his lightsaber. Had it all been true? Had he made a terrible mistake in killing his father? His father...who had never hated him. Even at the very end. Should he do as his grandfather had said?
"No," he whispered, trying to push away all the confusing feelings inside of him. "That was Anakin Skywalker. I follow the example of Darth Vader." He had claimed many times his admiration for the man known as Darth Vader. They had never sounded as hollow as they did at that moment.
Author's Note: The prompt for this story was Kylo Ren reeling from the death of his father, but I decided to add a little more to that, based on a joke I actually saw. Kylo Ren asking for Vader to speak to him while saying that he could feel the light side pulling at him. The joke being that the pull he feel was actually Anakin trying to urge him to go back to the light. While funny, I thought it would be an interesting approach to this story.
I have a little laugh to myself when I wrote Kylo wasn't sure how someone could survive a blow that would separate their top half from their bottom half. I have no idea, but it hasn't stopped Darth Maul at all. You just can't put that SOB down.
Also, it's a little weird to write Kylo Ren, seeing as I'm pretty sure he was SUPPOSED to be seen as emotionally immature. So more or less it felt like the appropriate response to have him show would be "I'm not listening! LALALALALALALALALALALA!"
I would like to thank my Patrons, SuperFeatherYoshi, xXNanamiXx, Ryan Van Schaack, RaptorusMaximus, and Davis Swinney for their amazing support.