When Piett woke up, he found himself to be an apparent Imperial hero.

There were well wishing greeting cards, balloons and flowers at his bedside from other members of the crew. Given everything that had happened to him, he was more surprised to be back on the Devastator than being suddenly hailed as an Imperial hero for-he double checked the card from Veers- "Saving Darth Vader and an innocent Imperial citizen from the madness of the Emperor."

He was pretty sure he didn't do much except get electrocuted, because apparently the Emperor had that ability, but he was back on his ship. He was home.

He did wonder, though, what happened to Luke, and therefore what had become of his top secret mission to pretend to be Vader pretending to be him. Vader never showed up to explain the second question, but Veers showed up daily.

"Luke?" Veers frowned. "Not sure I know who you're talking about. Was that the name of the citizen you saved?"

Piett hesitated. If Vader hadn't announced Luke's existence to the galaxy, then maybe there was a reason for that. "I...don't remember."

He healed within a week and was back in his sweet, glorious, stuff captain's uniform. He barely had a chance to savor it though, when he got the summons from Lord Vader.

Or, rather, his Imperial Majesty, Darth Vader.

As he headed to Vader's private office, he wondered what he could expect. He didn't think Vader was going to kill him. Why bother hailing him as a hero and letting him heal if he was going to kill him?

No, the bigger question (and concern) was that he was going back to Eriadu.

He...wasn't enthused at the idea. It had certainly been an interesting mission, but his home was here, on a star ship, not pretending to be an engineering student where he knew absolutely none of the content.

He bowed when he stepped into Vader's office. "My-Your Majesty."

"Cease with the pleasantries." Vader rumbled, and when Piett straightened he found Vader pouring over a datapad. "I am sure you are wondering what happened after your...sacrifice."

Piett pondered how to word it. "I am definitely curious about what's going on, Your Majesty."

Vader made a noise at the title, like he was annoyed by it already. It had only been a week. "I killed the Emperor before he could kill you. I cleared both yours and Luke's name, I took the throne, Luke rejected me, and I dropped out of school." Another annoyed noise. "Apparently, being Emperor is far more busy than commanding the military, if you can believe it."

Piett thought that would be obvious, but… "I am sorry you had to drop out of classes." He wasn't, not really because it meant he didn't have to go back to Eriadu, but it did seem that Vader was interested in the classes. "And...I confess, I'm surprised Luke isn't here."

Vader was silent, minus the breathing noises, and finally replied, "As am I. He...wanted to finish his semester."

"I see."

"I...gave him both of our contacts, should he...change his mind."

He didn't think he'd ever heard Vader sound so unsure and resigned as he did now. Piett couldn't help but feel bad for him...though he'd never, ever admit it.

"I am sure he will contact either one of us, Your Majesty."

"I hate that title."

"It is your new title, though."

"I know. I'm considering passing a law requiring everyone to not call me that ridiculous title."

Piett wasn't sure how that would help anything, but...he didn't get into it.

"I have two things I have to tell you. First, starting tonight, you are no longer a captain. You are my Grand Admiral."

Piett almost stopped breathing. That was a significant promotion. There had been rumors that he would be promoted after his supposed heroism, but this…

"The second I must ask-for some reason Luke thought you and I were dating."

Piett honestly wasn't sure which was more surprising, the massive promotion or the revelation that Luke thought he was dating Darth Vader. "What?"

"That's what I thought, but for some reason he was under the impression that you were in an abusive relationship with your superior. Apparently he asked you a bunch of questions at some point?"

It took everything in him not to show the horror as it dawned on him exactly what Luke had been asking that day in the caff shop. He'd assumed Luke was figuring things out, but apparently that was not the case.

His mind raced as he tried to figure out how to explain this. "The day I ran into him at the caff shop-"

"The day you spilled caff on yourself and he contacted me to ask if I was going to sue?" Vader clarified dryly.

"Yes...that day." If Vader wanted to assume it was the same incident, he wasn't going to correct him. "He asked questions that seemed meaningless. I answered only a few of them."

"A few of them had him thinking we were dating." Vader pointed out.

"It will not happen again."

"I certainly hope not. I am not looking for romantic companionship."

He tried to picture Vader dating...and given that he already had a son, it wasn't actually that hard to picture. It was still weird and uncomfortable, but not so hard to picture any longer.

"We will not speak of this again." Vader added, and Piett had the distinct impression that he was being glared at.

"Already forgotten, Your Majesty."

Vader made another dissatisfied noise, but this time didn't protest the title. "You may go, Admiral."

As Piett turned to leave, he couldn't help but smile as his own newfound title sent a thrill through him.

Admiral. Grand Admiral.

If Luke ever changed his mind, he'd have to thank him for the role he played in getting him his promotion.

The next month and a half was busy. Vader rarely returned to Coruscant, and if he did, he didn't stay in the palace. Piett wondered why, but it wasn't his place to ask such questions, so he didn't bother.

Already, the new Emperor was causing quite a stir. Piett knew that the Imperial Senate assumed Vader would immediately begin issuing military orders to crack down on worlds that were chaffing under Imperial rule, but instead, the first thing Vader turned his attention to…

Was school reform.

Piett couldn't help but be amused by the confusion he heard whenever he passed someone talking about it. Why would Darth Vader, previous commander of the Imperial Navy, rumored phantom and menace on the galaxy, destroyer of the Jedi Order, be interested in school reform?

More importantly, why did he actually have decent proposals?

The one time Vader visited the Senate to deliver his first speech on the topic (which was literally two sentences: "I am going to reform schools from the ground up. You may wish to debate, but it will happen one way or the other."), one of the Senators, Princess Leia Organa from Alderaan, was brave enough to speak up.

"While your proposal is more than generous and sorely needed-"

"Then why are you wasting my time questioning me?"

From behind Vader, Piett struggled to maintain a straight face.

"We are just...curious why you have decided to turn your attention to this as your first act as Emperor?"

"Because, Your Highness, there are billions of students across the galaxy who are being preyed upon by their universities who charge an insane amount for tuition, books, supplies, and housing. Many pay full price for housing that is little better than a box. Then apparently, universities hound graduated students for years of their lives asking for more money when they're already bleeding their current students dry! We have students working multiple jobs to make ends meet, students who already have scholarships, and apparently some universities are not located in an area where jobs are even plentiful, so you are lucky if you even have a job! If not you go into insane debt and spend the rest of your pathetic life paying it off!"

Honestly, the furious response to Organa was better than the actual supposed speech. If Piett didn't know any better, he thought the suspected Rebel-sympathizer was actually pleasantly surprised by Vader's apparent passion over the subject.

But that's not all Vader did. Once the bills for education reform were moving, he began on his next biggest change: the issue of slavery.

"There will be total abolition of slavery." Vader didn't even bother to go back to Coruscant to deliver this news to the galaxy. The Devastator hovered in orbit over Tatooine as he broadcasted his new edict. Piett thought the choice of this planet had to do with Luke, but he didn't dare ask. "Anyone who dares interfere and defy that order will be met with swift force."

Piett understood the education reform. He didn't fully understand the violent passion for the slavery issue, but he supported it nonetheless.

And the Hutts did resist. Vader made a clear example of them.

It was as Vader continued moving to enforce the new abolition of slavery that Piett got the call.

"This is Grand Admiral Piett." He greeted, pausing a moment from his work to look up at the image on the comm.

And found himself staring at Luke.

"Grand Admiral, huh?" Luke smiled, though he shifted almost...nervously. "That's quite the upgrade from captain...which was quite the upgrade from maintenance worker."

Piett straightened, pushing his datapad to the side so he could focus his full attention on the secret heir to the Empire. "Luke. It's...It's good to see you."

"You sound surprised." Luke tilted his head.

"Well. His Majesty didn't exactly give me the full details. He just said you wanted to finish your semester."

Luke rolled his eyes. "Of course he didn't give you the details."

"He's not one to elaborate."

"So I've noticed."

There was an awkward silence. "What can I do for you?" He finally decided to ask when Luke didn't appear to be very eager to continue.

Luke shifted nervously again. "I...well, it's the end of the semester."

Was it? Piett glanced at the chrono to note the date. Yes, it was getting to be that time of year, if he remembered correctly.

"And...well. I confess, I haven't completely made my decision." Luke hesitated. "I know you're busy...but I was wondering if you might have some time to...drop by?"

Piett lifted a brow. "I'm not about to be trapped in another semester in classes I don't understand, am I?"

That managed to get a chuckle from the boy. A good sign, he thought. "Not unless you want to. No, I was hoping to talk to you in person before I made my decision."

Piett sat back in his chair. "I would have to clear it with your-with His Majesty, but I am certain he will allow a brief leave." For you, Piett added, though he wasn't sure how Luke would receive that, so he didn't dare say it aloud.

Luke might be easier to talk to, but there were still some things that Piett sensed he should tread carefully around.

Sure enough, Luke made a face. "If he tries to do what he did most of this semester, don't come."

Piett kept his expression neutral as he replied, "I am sure he won't."

Now it was Luke's turn to lift a brow skeptically. "Are you really sure?"

"As sure as I can be when it comes to His Majesty."

Luke grunted and nodded. "Alright. Well, if you can, meet me at the Screamin Bean in two days."

"I'll do my best."

Two days later, Piett was again dressed in civilian attire and entering the Screamin Bean. It was evening, and when he approached the empty caff shop, there was a sign out that said in bold letters: "Caff: Because no great story ever started with a salad." Piett paused, reading the sign that was surely written by Luke, and smiled before entering.

Half of the lights were turned off, and it appeared that Luke was the only one in the building. He looked up from whatever he was tallying up on the register and gave him a tired smile. "You came." He said.

"I did."

"And...you're not getting script lines from…?" He trailed off, looking uncomfortable.

"No. Not today, at least. Though he does send his best wishes."

Luke's lips thinned, but he nodded. "I'm about done. Find a seat. I'll be there in a second after I lock the doors."

Piett nodded and sat. To his surprise, there was already a hot cup of caff waiting for him, and when he tasted it, it was exactly how he liked it.

"I wasn't sure if that was something you liked or if it was something Vader likes." Luke said as he returned from locking up, sitting across from him, folding his hands on the table.

"No, this is exactly how I like it. I'm not sure His Majesty drinks caff." He wasn't even sure he could. For some reason, the thought made Piett sad.

"Well. Good to know I learned some real details about you." Luke replied, and though there was no bitterness in his voice, Piett paused.

"I feel I should formally apologize." Piett said.

Luke held up a hand. "No. You were doing your job. Even if it was bizarre."

Piett snorted. "Take my advice. Say no to identity theft."

He grinned. "Yeah. That sounds pretty solid." Luke paused, then let out a long sigh. "So. The semester is over."

Piett nodded. "So you said."

"And I somehow made it through at the top of the class." He shrugged. "Then again, it was rather easy to do that once you dropped out."

"I am sure Professor Straton wasn't sad to see me go."

"Oh, he thought you were weird, but I think he respected your...well, I guess, Vader's knowledge." Luke frowned down at his hands. "He...he truly enjoys ships. I swear, he had more passion for them than any of my professors combined."

"Professor Straton or His Majesty?"


"Ah. Yes. That was genuine. I don't pretend to know why he made the initial decision that he did, but I never got the impression that he didn't genuinely enjoy what he was doing in class. Though apparently all of the tests were too easy."

"You know that was technically cheating, right?"

"I'm aware. I feel like that was the least of my concerns."

Luke nodded. "Understood." He was silent for another moment. "Turns out, it's a little hard to ignore Vader when he's the Emperor and apparently has a passion for bettering the education system."

"I can imagine." Piett took another long sip of his caff.

"And he also apparently feels strongly about slavery too. I thought the education thing might be a way to get on my good side, since he apparently has such an issue with me having two jobs-"

"He genuinely was worried about your wellbeing." Luke fixed a look on him and Piett added, "Admittedly, he cared a lot more when he found out you were his son. But you'd also forced him to actually pay attention to the issue even before that, and he was bothered by it. It's a bit hard to tell what he will be passionate about and what he won't be."

"He must not be a great boss then."

There was a tone to Luke's voice, as if he were asking rather than stating.

Piett shook his head. "His Majesty expects your best and more. It could be difficult for someone who was given their permission because of money or status, and many of those types of people do not escape his wrath for long. But he also rewards hard work and passion. He is not the type of commander to sit back and give orders from afar while his men suffer and die. He usually leads the charge himself." He paused, meeting Luke's eyes. "Your father may be a difficult and flawed man, but he inspires loyalty. I did not risk my life just to save yours, though I like you well enough. I did it because I knew it would destroy him if he lost you."

Luke bit his lip. "Why did the Emperor want to kill me anyway?"

Piett shrugged. "I don't fully understand it myself. If I had to guess, your powers were a threat to him, and the fact that you were Vader's son also probably didn't help."

Luke shook his head. "I don't know how to use whatever the Force is or whatever."

"That probably doesn't make it better." Piett gave him a look. "I have seen what your father can do. It's...awesome and terrifying at the same time, and he's trained. Sometimes a weapon is far more dangerous in the hands of someone untrained than in that of someone with years of experience."

Luke scrunched up his face. "I didn't ask for this power."

"I know."

"I didn't ask to be the son of Darth Vader."

"I know." He hesitated. "But finding out you were his son...I have served Lord Vader for many years, Luke. I have never heard or seen him care about anyone as much as he did you. And though it isn't your responsibility… I think you have a good influence on him."

"Firmus, he killed two people because of me...wait, no. Three. I was the one who told him where Old Ben was."

"Old Ben?"

"Apparently he's also a Force wizard or something who cut my father's limbs off and left him to burn and now he's a ghost for some reason, stalking my father."

Piett...honestly wasn't expecting to ever hear any of that come out of Luke's mouth. All he could really say was, "Oh."

Luke gave him a sympathetic look. "Sorry."

"Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if I should just stop being surprised about anything when it comes to your father." Piett took another long drink of his caff before continuing on. "I did not say your father was perfect. But his actions, though well intentioned, did cause you far more trouble than we'd hoped. I know he feels regret, and...well, I hope he makes different decisions in the future. He's not exactly the most socially inept person."

Luke snorted. "You can say that again."

Piett winced, but nodded. "Yes. He truly is not socially inept. I...was half hoping you'd drag him to something normal. I don't think anyone else, including myself, is brave enough to try."

"No pressure."

"I did not mean it to be that way. I apologize. I am simply...trying to express why, despite his flaws, I am loyal to your father." He gave Luke a knowing look. "Why I would betray my Emperor for him."

Luke met his gaze for a long moment. Finally, he nodded. "I think...I think I know what my decision is."


He gave him a nervous smile. "I think it's time for me to go home."

Piett tried his best not to sigh in relief. Instead, he said, "How can I help, then?"

Luke reached up and scratched the back of his head. "To be honest, I think I figured I'd make this decision, so everything is already packed. I just need help moving and maybe transport?"

"Luke." Piett gave him a look. "Whether you like it or not, you are technically the heir to the Empire. The very least I could do is get you transport to return to your father."

Luke rolled his eyes. "I don't think I'll ever get used to being a prince."

"I'm pretty sure your father isn't getting used to being the Emperor."

"I never would have known that."

Piett smiled and stood...then had a sudden thought. "Oh. And your father thinks you asked me those...you know. Questions when I first ran into you here."

Luke lifted a brow. "He wasn't there when we had that conversation?"

"Stars, no. That's why I asked you not to say anything about the conversation, not that you listened."

He flushed. "Uh. Sorry. You just behaved like someone in an abusive relationship…"

"I appreciate it but my only love is a good cup of caff and my ship. There is no room for anyone else in my life. Romantically, at least. So let's never ever speak about that conversation again, especially with your father."

Luke grinned. "What conversation?"

Piett stared at the son of Darth Vader, who was, despite everything, still far too pure for the galaxy he'd been born into...and smiled.

"I knew I liked you for a reason."

For a month and a half, the bond between him and his son had been stretched far too thin. Then, suddenly, in a flash, it was right there, blazing with such intensity he stopped mid-conversation with General Veers and turned around.

He didn't dare believe it. But there Luke's signature was, blinding as the twins suns of Tatooine.

And he was coming closer.

He was not alone for long. Kenobi appeared to his right, arms crossed. "It would seem that I was right. The prodigal son returns."

He gave no indication that he'd heard the stupid old ghost Jedi. He didn't respond to Veers as he cautiously asked, "Your Majesty?"

He simply started to head towards the source of the light.

Towards Luke.

Because he was here.

Though he stormed through the corridors of his ship towards the hangar, Kenobi managed to keep up. Maybe speed was no issue when you were dead.

"What are you going to do?" Kenobi asked.

"It does not matter." He growled. He passed a squad of stormtroopers as he did, and he could feel their confusion as he pushed past them. He didn't care. "He is my son. I will figure it out once I find out more details of his arrival."

"I would think that would be obvious."

Vader rolled his eyes and decided to humor him. "Why?"

Kenobi didn't answer for a moment. "As hard as it may be for you to believe, Luke has always wanted to know his father. It was only a matter of time before he returned to do just that."

But Vader was a monster. He'd single handedly destroyed Luke's life so much, he'd literally driven him into the arms of the Rebellion. But he was here. And that fact was visually confirmed when he entered the hangar and found Piett and Luke exiting the transport, carrying a bag each.

Bags. Luke had come with baggage.

That...was good, right?

He stopped in front of his son, who looked back at him as though he weren't surprised to see him already there. Luke looked at him warily, but he was relieved to see that he didn't seem...broken anymore.

They looked each other over for a moment. It was Kenobi who spoke. "So, Luke, have you decided to stay forever?"

Vader gritted his teeth, wishing he could wring Kenobi's neck for stating it in such a manner. What if Luke got spooked and got back on the shuttle to leave again? He wasn't sure he could let him go twice.

"For now." Luke replied, earning him an odd look from Piett. "That ghost guy I told you about is here."

"Oh, you told the Captain...or I guess, the Admiral about me. I feel special." Kenobi sounded pleased. "It'll be nice to have someone besides this guy who can see me. Someone normal."

"You have never been normal." Vader growled.

"I would have to disagree. I am definitely normal compared to you."

"Okay…" Luke interrupted, sensing that if he didn't step in, Vader would make a scene yelling at a ghost no one else could see. "So. Uh. Can I stay for a bit?"

As if Luke even needed to ask. Vader lifted a hand and gestured to a few stormtroopers who came hurrying over. "Bring Luke's things to room 2283 in my private wing."

"Yes, sir!" They hurried to comply, and Vader again relished the fact that it was the lowly stormtroopers who didn't bother to give him stupid titles.

"I can carry-oh, nevermind." Luke muttered as the troopers took his bag and then the bag the Admiral was carrying. "Guess not."

"It is a long walk." Vader informed him before turning. "Come. I will show you."

Because...he didn't know what else to do. He'd prepared his son's room shortly after he'd killed Kenobi, but he hadn't been expecting to actually host him for...well, maybe ever. He'd expected to interrogate Piett the moment he came back over what he talked about with Luke, but it seemed that was unnecessary now.

His son was here. And he was following him without needing to be forced.

Kenobi talked the whole way, asking Luke about the rest of his semester. Luke gave him short answers, obviously worried about being seen talking to himself. At some point Piett had broken off, headed to go catch up on the duties he'd missed while he'd been away.

He almost wished he'd stay. Things seemed so much easier when he was having Piett do all of the talking.

Finally, they reached the room. Luke's stuff was already there. Like any high end suite on a star destroyer, it consisted of a personal receiving and dining room, a fresher, and a master bedroom. When Luke walked in, he stopped abruptly.

"Uh. This is bigger than my house on Tatooine."

Vader made a face. Those were not memories he wished to think about. "I'm aware."

Luke shifted awkwardly. "My...aunt said you visited once."

Vader said nothing.

"With...my mother?"

A question.

One that stung and made him want to recoil...but Luke deserved to know.


"Ah. Yes. Your mother was a good woman." Kenobi began and Vader whirled with a snarl.

"Um. Maybe you could give us some time?" Luke quickly interrupted, shooting looks between Vader and Kenobi.

Vader half expected him to refuse, but instead he nodded. "Good to see you again, Luke." Then, he disappeared.

Leaving him and Luke alone.

"He never leaves when I tell him to." Vader grumbled, crossing his arms. "I may call upon your talent in the future."

Luke didn't seem to know what to say to that, and he was suddenly aware of how painfully awkward this was.

He missed Piett already.

So...as much as he hated it, he decided to start with his mother.

"Your mother was Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo. She was a former queen of Naboo as well. She...accompanied me to Tatooine the one time I met your guardians."

Luke seemed to soak in the information, slowly nodding. "I...never knew her name."

Vader was tempted to call Kenobi back to demand how he could keep such knowledge from his son, when Luke added, "My aunt wasn't sure she was my mother. She guessed, but she couldn't remember her name."

Vader's fists clenched. "If...if you would like, I could...give you what little I have left of her."

It wasn't much. He'd never dared return to her old apartment, and he was sure most of the things inside had long been taken back by her family or pawned off. But Luke brightened at that and he nodded eagerly. "I would like that very much."

If it made Luke happy...he'd do it. Maybe he'd even try to find more…

But first.

"Why did you return?"

He had to know. He was afraid of the answer...but he had to know.

Luke shifted awkwardly. "I...think I always knew I was coming back. From the moment you...uh. I don't know how you did it, but as I was returning to Eriadu, I heard your voice in my head."

Vader frowned. He didn't remember intentionally projecting anything, but… "You are my son and are strong with the Force. We...share a bond. Communication is possible through it as a result."

"I don't know what that means, but I'll accept that answer for now." Luke shrugged. "You asked me to come back and to...forgive you."

He remembered now. He...definitely hadn't meant for Luke to hear that.

"I don't know. I just. I've always wanted my dad in my life. I didn't want my dad to make me homeless and get me framed for murder and kill the old wizard who lived nearby. But I always wanted to know...you. And as mad at you as I was...still am, if I'm honest, it doesn't seem right to ignore you if you want me to be around."

Vader...honestly didn't know what to say. So instead, he settled with, "Then why drag Admiral Piett back to Eriadu?"

"Because despite all of the insanity you put him through, I do actually like Firmus. I wanted to know why he was so loyal to you."


Luke shrugged. "He told me enough to convince me that maybe you're not totally bad."

Vader snorted. "Then he either lied or he is delusional."

"Maybe. Maybe not." Luke tilted his head. "I do have a few conditions."

He didn't like the sound of that. "What exactly are you thinking?"

"There are three conditions, to be specific."

Well. Three didn't sound so bad. He motioned for Luke to continue.

"First. I need training in this Force-thing."

"That is a given." He immediately replied, pleased that Luke was the one approaching the subject first.

"But I don't want to...you know. Hurt people."

Like him. Vader...was not surprised, though he was disappointed. Then again, he was the Emperor. As long as Luke didn't turn on him...he could protect Luke from whatever the light side didn't.

What he said instead was, "You are not equipped to hurt people."

Luke frowned. "I mean, great, I guess, but what's that supposed to mean?"

"You are far too fascinated with things like rainbow frappes and humorous signs."

"The signs were for my job but...rainbow frappes? That automatically disqualifies me from being...dark?"

"Could you imagine me drinking a rainbow frappe?"

"Well. No, but-"

"It is one of the major disqualifiers. Trust me." He gestured again. "The second condition?"

Luke didn't seem fully satisfied with that answer, but he moved forward. "I have high enough grades that I could technically transfer to a university on Coruscant. And I might be able to get a scholarship...and if you want, you could join me. As yourself this time."

The boy didn't need a degree given that he was the heir to the Empire...but then again, he'd started going to school out of boredom. Stranger things had happened. "I am the Emperor."

"So? Didn't stop you last time. I'm sure you could figure it out." Luke grinned.

He...had a point. "I will not stop you from getting an education. But you must allow me to pay for whatever your scholarship does not. I could pay for everything, but I'm sure you'd have an issue with that."

Luke considered, then nodded. "Fair enough."

"And if I join...are you sure I cannot use Piett?"

"I'm sure. That man needs a long vacation. Have you seen the bags under his eyes?"

"I am aware, but even if I did, I doubt that man would know how to relax."

"...Also a good point. But still. No. Besides. I bet it would be even more fun to have the Emperor in class."

Vader thought about that...it would cause a lot less complication. It might be fun to see how people would react to the real him in class.

"I will see what I can do with my schedule." Vader finally decided. "And your third?"

Luke looked him right in the eyes, his expression suddenly going very, very serious.


Vader shifted, suddenly feeling like this must be the most important term. He didn't know what it could possibly be, but if it kept his son with him… "Yes, Young One?"

"I want a pet duck."

In the end, Vader caved on that desire, too, though he negotiated down to a Loth cat. Luke seemed pleased to have a pet, period.

Anything for his son.

AN: I decided to just post everything at once. This has been completed on AO3 for well over a year. Hope you enjoyed if this is where you read it!


Lady V