Chapter 8

'Focus on the simple things,' he told himself through clenched teeth, choking back tears that threatened to spill across his cheeks in a great deluge, like a cascade of dew. Breath in, breath out. Breath in – ohhhh help….

'Focus!' he insisted again, feeling his tenuous control slip once more, as unbidden images flashed across his eyes one after another in an unruly parade. His mind began to spin dizzily again, as it evaded his control.

'Breath Skywalker!' In. Out. In. Out. He reached up to touch his dizzy forehead with a steadying hand, and felt warm stickiness coating his skin.

"Don't be so stubborn Luke," the dark voice berated him, lacking any hint of emotion or feeling, as if the giant had not just backhanded his only son across the room.

The images continued to dance before his eyes… Children being slaughtered, Jedi being slaughtered, his father hitting him… Luke clammed his eyes shut quickly.

The blow had been enough to seriously shake him, and the added effect of the force which had been thrown against him in his father's anger made even his force senses recoil. "You're such a great dad…" he panted with what breath he had. Luke could feel his father's temper fly from across the room.

"You were warned boy! Don't try to bring weak sentimentality into this. You'll thank me one day for showing you your true power." Vader snapped irritably.

Somehow, that just might be true, Luke mused. His father was showing him his true strengths – and they weren't of the dark side. Endurance, control…even love.

"I already am grateful," he answered thoughtfully, rising slowly to his feet, his chin cast upward in an expression of resolution. He felt the blood trickle slowly down his face, but ignored it.

That response threw Vader off. The giant was, for once, without words, as he stared at Luke (or at least Luke thought he must be staring at him from behind his ever-present mask). At last he shifted slightly.

"I asked you a question boy. Answer it." Vader declared, as he pointed an accusing finger in Luke's direction. As Vader's anger grew and raged, Luke felt the force swirl around him like choppy water after the passing of a large hovercraft. Dad was not happy today.

Yet despite Luke's first hand experience of Vader's wrath, old Skywalker stubbornness was not about to abandon him. He placed his hands on his hips, staring at the tall figure in defiance,

"I have no intention of answering any of your questions, father," Luke replied defiantly, his blue eyes fixed firmly on Vader's mask.

"Then you are as foolish as you are obdurate." Vader replied, his voice dangerously low. In a moment he had launched forward and grabbed Luke roughly by both arms. He shook him fiercely, sending stars flashing once again across Luke's dizzy vision, while his fingers crushed him like vices.

"Do not toy with me child. You are mine, and no one will annul my claim." Vader spoke, his voice low, dangerous, and possessive.

Luke reached out for the force to try and steady him, but Vader blocked his attempts with all the skill and experience that made him the captor and Luke his prisoner.

"I don't want you prying into my private life," Luke answered wearily, "Isn't it enough that you dominate it presently?"

"I do not wish to dominate you," Vader declared, "I wish things to be the way they should be."

"With me at your side…" Luke finished, "Maybe that's not the way things are meant to be."

Vader's grip on Luke's arms tightened possessively at the suggestion, "Answer me." He ordered Luke firmly, ignoring his last comment.

"This is hardly the time for twenty questions, I…uhhh!" Vader shook Luke again, "Alright!" Luke gasped, "Just let go."

Vader didn't comply, but he did stop shaking Luke, and loosened his grip. Luke took a big breath of air, "There's not much to say…"

"I asked you to tell me of your life. That encompasses over nineteen years. I can hardly belief there's nothing to say." Vader retorted humourously.

Luke glared slightly, but checked himself as he realized that his old man was at last lightening up, even if just slightly. "You already know what planet I came from. I can't say I miss it much. I spent my entire life wanting to leave that dustball." Luke's eyes faded dreamily, as old memories returned. "I kept waiting - hoping - that my father would come for me. It didn't matter whether he was a freighter pilot like I'd been told all my life, or anything else. He would be my father, and that alone would make him awesome."

Luke looked up suddenly, realizing that he had spoken aloud his last remarks. His cheeks flushed ever so slightly, and he automatically glanced at Vader, to see what he father thought of his silly childish ideas. He checked himself once his eyes rested again on that cold, dark armour. Once dreamy blue eyes dropped to the floor in embarrassment.

"Is that enough?" he nearly snapped, feeling exposed.

Ever so gently, Vader removed his hands from Luke's arms. Suddenly, Luke felt a gloved palm softly lift his chin.

"I was unaware of your existence son, or I would have come for you." the giant told him, his tone lacking its usual harshness. Luke's heart leapt first in fright, and then in joy. Was this his father?

But just as soon as the moment began, it was over. Vader dropped his hand, and began pacing before Luke, ideas obviously mulling through his head. After a few minutes, he stopped and faced his son once again.

"Tell me about your life with your guardians," his father asked.

"I lived on the farm with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru," Luke responded, "They were fairly nice, I guess, as long as you didn't break any rules."

"Did Owen ever hurt you?" Vader shot off quickly, his mood darkening again.
"Not badly," Luke soothed, feeling the tension in the room increase again.

"How badly?" Vader persisted, unwillingly to let go of the topic.

"Hey, it's my story! Let me tell it how I like." Luke protested.

"Very well, for now," Vader grumbled, his unwillingness to let go of the topic only offset by his eagerness to hear all that Luke had to say.

"You're far too generous," Luke muttered, sighing tiredly. "I uhhh…hung around with my best friend Biggs Darklighter all the time. The two of us used to race Skyhoppers through Beggar's Canyon…. Your Empire killed him."

"I regret the loss, if he was truly a good friend," Vader told him, and Luke noted with surprise that the giant before him was speaking seriously. For his son, even the dark lord could feel regret.

Luke dropped his eyes to the floor tiredly, too exhausted to deal again with the fresh pain of losing his loved ones. "Is that all?"

Vader tilted his head to one side.

"No." For a moment, Luke wondered whether Vader would speak again, but eventually, he continued. "It is...necessary that I undertake a mission for the Emperor." He glanced at Luke, "You will accompany me, as I cannot trust you to remain out of mischief while I am absent."

Luke looked quickly at his father when he heard his last statement, "Wait... it's not just that, is it? You're not just scared that I would run away."

"Even within the Empire, there are factions, my son. You are safest at my side." he answered.

"Do you mean someone in your Empire might actually try to hurt me while you were gone. Who in the universe wants to get on your bad side?" Luke exclaimed.

"You have certainly made the attempt several times," Vader replied with a low chuckle, as he headed towards the door.

"Hey, I'm being serious!" Luke responded, annoyed.

"It's my story, let me tell it how I like, youngling." he answered, as he disappeared out the door.

Luke groaned. No one could ever say his dad didn't have a sense of humour.