"What are you wearing?"

Sadly, this wasn't the first time Vader had asked one of the twins this question. Children, he'd learned, were rather creative when left to decide what clothes they wanted (or didn't want) to wear.

Leia stared up at him. Even at five, she was small for her age, and the fake stormtrooper armor, tutu, and frilly pink crown almost dwarfed her. It was definitely not what he expected to see when he walked in the door after two weeks of being away in the Outer Rim. "I'm a stormtrooper princess." She announced, matter-of-fact.

He waited a few breathing cycles before answering. "There is no such thing as a stormtrooper princess."

Wrong thing to say. The smile disappeared, and she leveled a dark glare at him. A promise of a tantrum of epic proportions to come if he didn't change course immediately. "I'm a princess." She insisted, "And a stormtrooper."

He could have insisted that stormtroopers were well below her, that she deserved to be an empress, but he didn't dare. He'd learned when to pick his battles. This was not one of them. Still, why would she be dressed as…?

"DADDY!" Luke shrieked from somewhere else in the apartment. Vader tensed, hand going to his lightsaber, but he forced himself to relax, especially as his son came running from the fresher, arms up for a hug.

He too, was also in an odd costume.

He bent down and scooped him up. The boy wore a furry, spotted onesie. A headband was nestled in his mop of blonde hair, two spotted, long ears flopping around from it. His face was painted like...like…

A Loth Cat.

It would seem that he was missing something important.

Thankfully, the twin's nanny appeared. She was the longest lasting nanny, mainly because the last time he'd killed one, his children had cried for weeks wondering when she was coming back. He wouldn't be doing that again until they were old enough to understand the consequences of failing him, or they simply didn't need one anymore. "Ah, Lord Vader." She greeted with a tired smile. "We thought to expect you tomorrow."

"I came a day early." He replied absently, still looking between his twins. "Why are my children dressed like hooligans?"

"Tonight is Hallows Eve." The nanny, Miss Laena, his children called her, explained patiently. "The Senate is putting on an event for the children of all the Senators and high ranking Imperial officials. We went last year and the twins loved it."

Behind the mask, Vader made a face. That explained the costumes. "My children are above them. They have no need to dress up like common rabble."

"Please daddy?" Luke begged, throwing his little arms around his neck. Oh, that wasn't fair. Pretend as he might, he had little defenses when his children showered him with innocent affection. He couldn't bring himself to ruin it. "We'll be extra good, promise!"

"I'll share my candy with you." Leia agreed, eagerly.

"I could take them, Lord Vader. We'll be back by nine." Miss Laena offered.

"I was expecting an evening with my children." He would never admit it to the woman, but he missed them terribly when he was away. If he could find an excuse to bring them with him, he would, but they were still too young to be on a Star Destroyer.

"Well...why don't you go with them?"

His mood barely had a chance to darken before the twins were squealing with delight. His ears wrung from it. "Daddy's coming!" Leia crowed.

"What are you going to be, daddy?" Luke chimed in.

Vader set his son down. "I am not going to be anything other than myself." Just like you two should be, he added mentally, but he didn't say it. The last thing he wanted to do was walk around the Senate building while children in costumes ran around high on too much sugar.

But his children were clearly excited at the prospect of him joining them, and though the idea of Darth Vader, Second in Command to the Empire, Lord of the Sith, joining them on a night meant for children was ridiculous…

He did miss them.

"Miss Laena."

"Yes, My Lord?"

"We will not speak of this conversation again. I expect you back in the morning before my meeting with the Emperor at nine."

And that's how Lord Vader found himself following behind a Loth Cat and a Princess Stormtrooper as they rushed from office to office, collecting candy in black buckets.

The first office they visited, Vader stood directly behind his children, arms crossed over his chest. Luke reached up with his fist and lightly tapped on the door. When no one answered, Vader inwardly sighed. "You need to use your strength, Luke. Like this." He reached up and pounded.

The door swung open moments later, and they were faced with the Senator from the Hosnian system. "Oh what adorable little…" she began, then her face drained of color when she saw who was standing behind them, glaring through his mask.

"Thank you, Senator!" Leia replied politely, no doubt at the encouragement of their nanny, but the senator didn't seem to hear them.

"Ah, h-h-h-here, have whatever you want!" She yelped, dumping the entire contents of her bowl into Luke and Leia's buckets, then slamming the door.

"Wow!" Luke grinned, "Whatta nice lady!"

"More like terrified." Vader grumbled under his breath as he ushered them towards the next office. The sooner this as done, the better.

The next few offices ended the same way, forcing Vader to give the twins space so that he didn't immediately scare the senators into inadvertently giving his children a mouthful of cavities. It only mostly worked.

As they continued, more and more children in costumes began running around the halls. They were dressed as all manner of aliens, creatures, droids, characters from holovids, celebrities...to his dismay, he even glimpsed a rudimentary mini Darth Vader running around. "Oh, I didn't know I could be daddy!" Luke gasped when he saw the other child.

"That is not an option, Young One."

The longer the event went on, the more he wanted to pick his children up in each arm and carry them home. Tantrum or not, being surrounded by screaming children in costumes was a special brand of torture. At one point, a boy a little older than Luke approached him and dared to tell him that his Darth Vader costume was "just good."

"Oh, that's my daddy." Leia informed the boy. "He's the real Darth Vader."

Vader might have been more amused by the squeak of horror from the boy as he ran off if he wasn't annoyed by being told he only looked like a good impersonation of himself. What did that even mean? How could he look more like himself than he already…?

It didn't matter. He was a stupid kid. Whatever costume manufacturer dared to make a Darth Vader costume in the first place would be getting a visit from him straight after his meeting with the Emperor. They wouldn't survive for the next Hallows Eve.

But, blessedly, the twins buckets filled to the brim. "No, you cannot use my cape to get more candy." Vader growled when Luke brought it up.

"Then what is it for?"

"It's…" It was because it made him appear more terrifying to his victims, but he wasn't about to tell his children that. "It's because I like it. But that's not the point. You two have enough sweets to last you an entire year. We are returning home."

"But we haven't been to all of the offices!" Leia complained, which earned her a long, stern look from him. Even though she couldn't see his expression, she could sense it, and she sighed. "Fiiiiiine."

But before they could turn and leave, a cold, dark, horribly familiar presence interrupted them. "Ah, Lord Vader. Is it you who is spreading fear among my senators?"

The fake, gravely voice of the Emperor grated on his nerves, but he forced himself to keep a cool composure as he turned to face the robed man followed by two red guards. Figures he'd make an appearance, if only to keep up the stupid facade of being a grandfatherly figure. "It is not my problem if they are all witless fools." Casually, he stepped in front of Luke and Leia, attempting to hide them from the Emperor's view.

The Emperor may have allowed him to keep his children, but there would come a day when he'd decide to risk Vader's wrath. He doubted Hallows Eve, surrounded by senators and children, was that day but he would never be too careful.

"I didn't think I would ever see you at an event like this." The Emperor mused, and Vader didn't miss how his golden eyes drifted to where Luke and Leia stood, peeping out at the man from behind his cloak. "But it seems I've found the answer."

A chill crawled up Vader's spine. He shouldn't have taken them. He should have let Leana do it. He should have…

"I like your costume, Leia." The Emperor's voice turned honeyed, inviting. Leia didn't move from behind him. Good girl. "A stormtrooper and a princess. Clever."

"Thank you, your highness." Leia quietly replied. Vader would need to thank Leana for enforcing manners in his children.

But then the Emperor turned his gaze on Luke, and the fake smile faltered. It took everything in him not to block his son from his view. "And Luke. A Loth Cat." The robed head tilted. "Did you know that you look exactly like your father used to?"

Luke was silent for a few seconds, and Vader worried he wouldn't respond. But, then, "Thank you, your highness." His son replied in a soft voice.

The obligatory terrorizing of his children being complete, the Emperor turned back to Vader. "I will see you bright and early." And there was warning in his voice.

The Emperor was not pleased by his presence at the children's event.

Vader inclined his head as the older man hobbled by. "Yes, my Master."

He waited until the Emperor disappeared from sight before he took his children's hands and led them home as quickly as their legs would take them.

He didn't encounter resistance.

But, the moment they returned home, the coldness of the Emperor was forgotten. He collapsed on the plush black couch in the sitting room while his children dumped the contents of their candy on the floor to inspect their haul, giggling as they did so.

"One, two, three…" Luke began.

He closed his eyes, trying to push back the headache.

"Twenty four, twenty...oh. I have to start over."

"Does it matter how many you got?" He asked, dryly.

"Yes." Leia replied. "Daddy, can you count for us?"

He was a Sith Lord. He had other things he had to do besides…

He helped them count.

"Ha!" Leia grinned. "I have more than you!"

"Actually, Luke has more…" Vader started.

"See? Daddy says I have more!" Luke stuck his tongue out, reaching for a piece of candy.

"No, no candy tonight." He needed to meditate. That wasn't going to happen if they were bouncing off the walls. "You can have some tomorrow, but only if you're good and go to bed now." He made a mental note to leave specific instructions for Leana.

Thankfully his threat worked. Or at least, it did on Leia. She reached over and gave him a hug goodnight, then rushed off to her room.

"Daddy?" Luke asked.

Already, he was preparing to force himself to stay calm. His patience was running thin. "Yes, Young One?"

Luke approached him, carefully toeing over the candy piles. "I like it when you come. Can you come next year?"

He opened his mouth to remind him that he had duties, that he was usually off planet for this useless holiday, but...he closed it. His son stared at him with such hope in those blue eyes, eyes that used to match his own…

If he wasn't certain before that his children would be his downfall, he was now. He found he didn't care.

"I'll do my best." He promised, and something in his chest eased at seeing the bright smile on his boy's face. "I'm glad you had fun, my son. Now, let's go get your face cleaned up..."

Happy Halloween! As far as I know, Star Wars doesn't have a Halloween holiday, but TOO BAD because it's cute. This was also posted on Tumblr. It was inspired by that Vader and Son picture where Stormtrooper Luke is trick or treating at Mothma's house and Vader is standing awkwardly behind him. Love it.

Next week I'll have another one-shot to post.

Also, if you're wondering about my other long-running stories, we are working on the next TWO Blade chapters. They're just really, really long.