TITLE: "The Way Things Are"

AUTHOR: vaderincarnate

DISCLAIMER: I own absolutely nothing. Luke Skywalker and Lord Vader are fictional characters and the property of George Lucas. They will be returned more or less unharmed when I've finished with them though, as always, I make no guarantee about sanity remaining intact.

CONTENT: RotJ AU, L/V angst.

AUTHOR'S NOTE(S): Gift-fic for Ghostwriter155, for knowing the origins of a quote I posted on my livejournal. It's not very long, hon, but I wrote this sort of quickly when the plot bunny just sorta unexpectedly bit... and it's apparently impossible for me to think 'angst!' without also thinking 'ooh, chance for Dark!Luke'. o.O

The stipulations were:

1. Title: The Way Things Are
2. Subject: Must mention Darth Vader, but does not have to be about him.
3. Line To Use:"Believe me, I was prepared for everything - except you."

You've changed so much, Luke.

You've changed so much in these mere hours: changes I can't describe, changes I can't see, but changes that I know are there nonetheless. It's nothing palpable, nothing that anyone would notice at all if they aren't looking closely, but I know. I know.

Your eyes are harder. Harder and colder in some infinitesimal way that can never be measured, some little thing I will never be able to describe. That touch of compassion, the hint of your mother I saw when you tried to appeal to that man who had once been your father ... it's gone, gone forever, extinguished by the unremitting darkness that will henceforth dictate your life.

And maybe that's what disturbs me most of all, seeing that reflection of my own eyes in your young face.

Your stance is prouder, straighter. Arrogant: I see it in your step, the tilt of your head, in every sinuous movement you make as you stride down the narrow hall to take a hold of your destiny once and for all. And I know what you feel, because I've been there before -- the darkness that courses through your young body, giving you a dark clarity you've never before experienced, power beyond anything you've ever dreamed of.

You're not a boy anymore. You're not even the young man who proudly gave himself into Imperial hands this morning, the young man who risked his life and his soul for his friends, the young man who believed in his father's innate goodness and hoped for his father's redemption.

I don't know you, scarcely recognize this stranger that stands in front of me -- my apprentice, my subordinate ... but surely not my son. Surely not Padmé's son.

And yet this is the path I've chosen.

This is the path I've chosen for us, my son, the destiny I promised you on Bespin as you clung precariously to the cloud city. This is the path you denied there, the darkness you denied there, the truth you denied there ... all of which you accepted in those few momentuous seconds aboard the Death Star.

And some part of me is glad that we've taken this path. Glad that we overthrew the Emperor, that we reached this crossroad despite the old tyrant's schemes and plans and manipulation. I had scarcely dreamed we would get this far, defeat the Emperor be on the verge of crushing the Alliance once and for all. And though I prepared for every eventuality, I knew that the odds were against us, knew that a thousand things could go wrong -- that you could turn back, that I could turn back, that you could die, that I could die ... and yet, it somehow all worked according to plan.

Believe me, I was prepared for everything -- except you.

Because the rest of me is screaming in horror, that this is the path that I chose for myself, not the path I chose for you -- the path that I chose to walk, not the path for my son, Padmé's son, this near-stranger who looks at me now with that pair of infinitely cold eyes. You weren't meant to walk this path, weren't made to feel the darkness that now courses through your veins; you were destined to do greater things. Better things.

And of all the things I've done, of all the burdens I've carried, of all the people I've killed, of all the guilt I've earned -- somehow this is the worst one yet. I've destroyed some integral innocence, some irreparable virtue about my son that can never be replaced, something I thought had died in the galaxy altogether and something that will not be seen again until this darkness has been cleared away forever.

Because I've murdered my son.

But this is they way things are, I tell myself as I turn away from those haunting blue eyes. This is how things were meant to be.