Title: Penpals

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: None

Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?

Teaser: Luke and Vader are penpals

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to George Lucas, Lucasfilm Ltd and Fox.

Darth Vader strolled through the long halls of Executor on the way to his quarters. It was the end of another long, busy day aboard the Star Destroyer. His path took him past one of the crew's lunchrooms, an area of the ship he normally ignored. It was the supper hour and today the men inside were especially high spirited. Earlier today the ship had gone into combat against a group of Rebel scum and they had won, the Rebels being wiped out. Vader paused momentarily outside the doorway and peered in, standing back in the shadows where the men couldn't see him. Not that he was hiding. The Dark Lord had no reason to hide on his own ship. No, he wanted to observe them unnoticed so as to not disturb their victory celebration. He noted how they laughed and cheered, slapping each other lightly in a playful mood, talking to each other.

When was the last time he had talked to someone? Really talked?

Continuing on towards his quarters, Vader thought the matter over. It was a thing he normally didn't think about at all, hadn't thought about since when? Perhaps all those long years ago before he had started his new life? Obviously seeing the comradeship in the lunchroom had left him unusually melancholy. Such minor annoyances shouldn't bother a Sith Lord, but what to do when they did? He certainly couldn't fraternize with the crew or even the command staff. And as for Palpatine, his Master just gave him orders and expected them to obey. He had thought all such feelings had been driven from him long ago and yet now he craved to have a conversation with someone.

But who?

Reaching his quarters, Vader went inside and secured the door. Perhaps if he drowned himself in work the weird feeling would pass and things would go back to the way they should be. But first he should make himself comfortable. He removed the heavy armor and hooked himself up to the exterior respirator he kept in his quarters. After he was as comfortable as to be expected with his numerous health problems, he turned to his computer. Flipping the machine on, he brought up some of the tedious paperwork that was required for him to read and sign. He normally found this part of his job extremely boring, as his temperament just wasn't suited for this type of office work, yet his job required it of him. But today, he just couldn't get past the second page.

Darn that feeling! What must he do to rid himself of it for once and all?

Perhaps his mail held something of interest that would take his mind off his current problem. Bringing up the other program onto his screen, Vader entered his password and found himself on the galaticweb. But to his disappointment, his mailbox held the usual boring announcements and inter-Empire memos. Then one of those annoying pop-ups jumped onto his screen from nowhere. They all advertised junk no one really wanted, hoping the ad would attract some sucker to spend his credits unwisely. He was about to close it when he noticed it was advertising a free site where one could find a penpal.

A penpal. Was it possible HE could find a penpal?

Darth Vader allowed the thought to circulate around his mind for a moment. He was about to dismiss it as a foolish notion, for who in their right mind would be penpals with Darth Vader? Everyone in the galaxy was frightened of him and that's just how he liked it. If they were frightened, they respected him. No annoying salespeople knocked on his doors, foolish children didn't try to sell him cookies and religious ones didn't pester him about their groups. No, it was nice and quite and he had his time to himself, when he wasn't busy working, of course.

Still, he didn't close the blinking ad. There it sat on his monitor claiming in bright cheerful letters that there was a penpal out there for everyone.

/But not for me."/

Still he didn't close the ad.

/Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to try./

He just wouldn't use him real name. Most people on the galaticweb used nicknames they created for themselves anyway. Yes, that's what he would do. He would create some name and take it from there. He probably wouldn't even be interested in the person who replies anyway, that is, if anyone would reply. And if some tedious person started writing him, he just wouldn't reply. And that would be the end of that.

Darth Vader clicked the ad and went to the website. According to this, he could either create an ad of his own or he could reply to an already existing one. Skimming over the ads already there, he decided to create his own. But what should he write in the ad so to attract someone interesting? Most people seemed to put their hobbies and interests down. Vader rubbed his chin for a moment as he thought about it.

Podracer: high speed racing, fightercraft, fixing things, fencing…

Well, it was obvious he couldn't mention the Force or being in command of the Executor. Nor could he say anything about his lightsaber; although mentioning fencing covered that in a way. Still, he didn't want to make it too obvious whom he really was. Deciding that was the best he could do for the moment, he added his email address and then posted the ad.

 /There probably won't be any responses anyway./

Satisfied, Darth Vader signed off the galaticweb and started on his tedious paperwork.

Meanwhile across the galaxy, Luke Skywalker was also feeling lonely. Most of the Rebels were still feeling high about the destruction of the Death Star, but for some odd reason Luke's feeling of elation had passed rather quickly. Han Solo, whom he had grown close too in the last few weeks, was busy fixing the Falcon. Normally he would speak to Han but the Corellian was just too … sophisticated for him. Well, maybe that wasn't the right word to describe Han, but the smuggler was definitely ahead of him in many things. He would no doubt think he was silly and it was important to Luke that Han take him seriously.

So, who did that leave? Leia? No, he couldn't talk to her. Although he had a slight crush on her, she was still a Princess and he just a farm boy. So what if he had gotten lucky and had blown up the Death Star? But then, maybe that was part of his problem. Everyone in the Alliance thought he was the big hero and they sort of worshipped him, but inside he didn't feel like a hero.

/Maybe anti-hero was the better word./

Feeling low, Luke retreated to his room on the Yavin base and turned on his private computer. Maybe a computer game would be a good distraction and would help him out of his funk. But after several minutes of playing Starfighter, he just couldn't get into it. Ships kept sneaking past him and blasting his shields. Before he knew what happened, his X-wing had been blown up and the game over message flashed on the screen. Logging onto the galaticweb with the intention of downloading a new, more interesting game; Luke found himself distracted by a pop-up.

/A penpal? Maybe that's what I need! Someone I could talk to and still remain safely anomalous!/

Clicking the ad, Luke soon found himself at the penpal website. After reading the instructions, he decided it would be quicker and easier to just reply to an ad someone else had already created. There were numerous ads to choose from, but many he dismissed right away. A lot of the people were just too different and he had no common interest with them. That left a few ads and Luke wasn't too sure which one he should write to.

/Should I write to one? What would I say anyway?/

Thinking about it for a few moments, Luke decided to give it a try. It certainly couldn't hurt and maybe he could get a few feelings off his chest at the same time. It wasn't like he would have to use his real name. The people posting the ads certainly weren't. He was pretty sure it didn't break any Alliance laws. It certainly wasn't like he had any classified information anyway! Besides, maybe it would prove to be fun and educational. The other person could live anywhere in the whole galaxy, maybe on some exotic world that was totally different than the dry dustball he had grown up on.

Luke studied the remaining ads and decided he'd try writing to the one called Podracer. He certainly had enjoyed racing his old speeder through Beggar's Canyon back home and he certainly enjoyed flying in his X-wing. Nor was he a total twerp when it came to fixing things, Force knew he had had enough practice on those evaporators to last an entire lifetime! He wasn't exactly sure what fencing was, but oh well. He was sure Podracer would be glad to explain it to him. So now all he had to do was write a letter.

But how much should he say about himself? Was it OK to mention the Alliance? Maybe not….

/This isn't as easy as I thought it'll be./

Dear Podracer,

I saw your ad at the website and thought I'd drop you a letter. I'm feeling a bit lonely at the moment and there really isn't anyone over here I can talk to about it. Well, maybe there's one guy but he's a lot older and more experienced than I am. I think we have a lot in common and that's why I'm writing to you. Back home I used to do some racing for fun in these twisting canyons. It was actually quite dangerous and if you didn't make the turns fast enough you'd end up bantha fodder all over the rocks, Luckily that never happened to me. Anyway, I guess it was my racing that got me into my current predicament. See, everyone thinks I'm a hero because I blew up this object with my fighter plane. At first I did feel like a hero. I guess I was caught up in the moment, if you know what I mean. But now I don't feel that way at all. I mean, there was lots of people on it and I guess I feel guilty for killing them. I never really killed anyone before. Well, maybe some rats back home, but people are a lot different than rats. I know they're supposed to be the 'enemy' but they were still people. A lot of them were probably just working there to support a family and I killed them. Do you have any advice?

Well, I really don't know what else to say at the moment. I'm not sure if you'll write back or not.

Hopefully your friend,


Luke reread his letter several times; unsure whether or not he should send it. Maybe he was just being childish about the whole thing. Shrugging his shoulders, Luke pressed the button to send the letter on its way. Hopefully he'd get a reply soon from Podracer, whoever he was.

In fact, Luke decided he was feeling a bit better already. Shutting his computer down, he decided to go see if Han needed any help with the Falcon.