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The Letter, Part I

The man took the letter from the box, carefully, aware of itsage and fragility. The letter was hand written on paper, an oddity to be sure, but all the more precious because of it. He looked at it for a moment, as he always did. This time though, he had to fight the urge to weep as well. The illusions that he had so carefully crafted as a child having been shattered unmercifully only a short time ago.

It had been his thirteen birthday when he had received the letter. His aunt had given it to him after his friends had gone home from his party. He could tell from his uncle's expression that, for some reason, he didn't want him to have it. But he wasn't going to let that stop him. He took the letter and, after a questioning glance, took off like a pod racer for his special place behind the far service shed. He settled down underneath the homemade tent shelter he had erected himself and opened the letter carefully.

It was yellowed with age and crackled slightly as he opened it. The novelty of a paper written letter was new to the boy. The words were in Basic, the writing bold and slanted slightly…a man's hand. The boy had a sudden image of a man, writing intently, his strong, handsome features set in a stern expression of concentration. The man, with his startlingly blue eyes and his face framed with a mane of slightly shaggy blond hair, was strange and yet somehow, familiar.

The boy cradled the paper gently in his hand, wondering if the vision of a man in his head could possibly be the father he had never known. The thought of having a vision of a man he had never met did not strike the boy as strange. He had always been able to see and do things that others couldn't. His aunt had told him that was his special gift and to always trust it. So far, it had never been wrong.

Awash with curiosity, the boy began to read.

My son,

Your mother thinks that you will be a girl, since we chose not to let the med droids tell us your sex, but I know you are a boy. I have sensed you for some time now. Your Force presence is strong. I let your mother think what she will, since she can be a very stubborn woman sometimes. It's easier to let her have her way and it keeps me out of trouble! However, she did agree to let me have my way when it came to naming you, mostly, I think, because she does think you will be a girl and so my choice of Luke will be irrelevant. One of these days, this letter is going to be my proof that I did name you, so hang on to it, I'm sure it will one day be useful in getting me out of deep pooduu with your mother.

The boy experienced a brief rush of fierce pride. His father had named him! His name was a chosen name, picked just for him. He grinned widely to himself and continued to read.

She was the one who insisted we each write you a letter. I don't know why she thought this was necessary but as I already told you, I try never to fight with her, as she always seems to win. As for the letter, I think it must be a custom or something on her home planet. Oh well, I don't suppose it really matters. She says I have to write something important, some advice for the future and write it as if I were talking to you face to face. This is a rather tall order for me as I don't even know what your face looks like yet and I have never been good at imagining such things. I never had a father either so I'm not really even sure what I should say. My Master is the closest thing to a father I have ever known and, while I love him dearly, he is not exactly what I want to emulate. He can be very exacting and unforgiving sometimes. I'm never really sure if I'm living up to his standards. And while I know that he does, he is not the kind of man to tell me he loves me. I suppose that would be as good a place to start as any, wouldn't it?

I want you to know that I love you. From the moment your mother first took my hand and placed it on her stomach so I could feel you kick, I loved you. It was strange. I had never experienced such an overwhelming feeling for someone I had never met before. I have loved your mother since the moment I first saw her but this, my feeling for you, was different. I tell you this now so that if, sometime in the future, you should have cause to doubt it, you will know that, at least once in your life, your father did tell you he loved you.

The boy paused his reading here, his heart and his eyes awash with emotion. His father had loved him! He had! He held the letter in trembling hands and reread the last paragraph. His parents had loved him. His father had loved him. He had proof. It didn't matter now what the other kids said, whether or not Enno teased him about being dropped in the middle of the night on a doorstep because he was too ugly to keep. Now he knew. His parents, his father, would never have left him if they had had a choice. He swiped quickly at his eyes and cheeks and concentrated on finishing his letter.

I don't know what kind of father I will be. I have no frame of reference to work from. So if I turn out to be more like my Master (Master?) than I wish to be and don't tell you what you need to hear often enough, you can read here that it is true. Your mother said to write something important and frankly, I can't think what would be more important than that.

As far as advice goes, I hope I can have some that is good by the time you get here. Your mother would be much better to ask than I for advice. She is a very smart woman. I can tell you this much though: keep your body active, your mind more so and your spirit constantly moving. My mother gave that advice to me and I've always found it to be good. She was a smart woman as well. It is a pain in my heart that you will never know her and that she will never know that she had such a beautiful grandchild. I was told once that death is a part of life and that we are all really luminous beings set free by death. That may be true, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

The boy nodded in silent agreement. Living on such a harsh planet as Tatooine, he knew life and death were inseparable, however, he had never heard anything about the luminous being stuff. And he could certainly agree with the last part, he had known that all his life. Had he not always felt that hurt himself? He continued reading.

I suppose the most advice I can offer you right now is this: Never give up. No matter what the circumstances. No matter what is against you. Don't live your life in regret or wishful thinking. Nothing will ever come of that but heartache. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars…they might just reach back. And listen to your heart, it will always tell you what you need to know.

I guess that is it for now. I don't want to overwhelm you, so I'll wait and give you the rest as you need it.

There is so much wonder in this universe for you to see. I cannot wait to show it to you. Hurry up and get here, will you?

Your mother and I love you.

Your father

The boy sat there, leaned against the wall of the shed, his letter clasped against his chest. He had been sitting there for hours, eyes closed, as the suns fell lower and lower in the sky. He had heard his aunt calling him a little earlier, calling him in for supper and from the dangers of the night but he just couldn't move. Suddenly, he felt a shadow loom up over his right side. He opened his eyes and looked up as his aunt sank down gracefully beside him. She took a moment and settled herself and then looked over at him.

"I called you for supper but you didn't answer. I was worried," she said in her calm, mild voice.

The boy looked away, ashamed. He hated worrying or upsetting his aunt.

She gently grasped his arm and turned him to look at her, "Sweetheart, I'm not mad," she nodded toward the letter, "I figured you needed a little time to yourself."

She gave him a conspiratorial wink, "And don't worry about your uncle, either. I know how to handle him and, believe it or not, he understands too."

He was skeptical about his uncle's understanding but didn't bother to argue. She did know how to handle his uncle. His aunt was a smart woman, too.

She held his gaze until he dropped it and then leaned comfortably back against the wall. She began to speak in a conversational tone while Luke slowly folded his letter and put it back in its protective cover. Slowly, his aunt's voice died away and they both sat, bathed in the glow that was cast by the setting of the twin suns. Just as Tatoo II sank below the horizon, Beru climbed slowly to her feet and, with a smile, reached out her hand to her beloved nephew. He smiled back and reached up. With a mighty groan, Beru leaned back and pretended to laboriously haul Luke to his feet. He laughed in appreciation of the old joke, as did she.

"You know, Luke," she said, the laugh lines crinkling deep around her eyes, "pretty soon, it'll be you hauling me up like that, and it won't be pretend!"

He laughed and, with his arm wrapped around his aunt's waist and hers around him, they had slowly ambled toward the scent of supper and the light of home.

Looking down at the letter in his hand, Luke could feel the tears welling in his eyes and slowly begin to roll down his cheeks. All his life, he had held the words in the letter close to his heart and the image of the man he saw when he held it even closer. How could he reconcile the image of the humorous, loving father he had always imagined with the menacing, dark lord who he now knew to be that self-same man?

He couldn't.

How could it possibly be? He thought wildly for a moment that it all had been just a lie to rattle him. After all, hadn't Obi-Wan told him that Vader had killed his father? Could the Dark Lord have some nefarious reason for trying to trick him?

Luke let the thoughts spin crazily through his head even as he reluctantly, and painfully, acknowledged the truth once again. He had known, just as he had always known certain things, that Vader had spoken the truth. He had felt it, deep in his innermost being…and his soul had cried out at the agony of it. That this creature, this thing, not even fully human, could be the man he had spun so many heroic fantasies around, had idolized and all but worshipped, the man he had spent his whole life trying to emulate…Luke shook his head. He couldn't think along those lines. To do so would surely drive him mad.

But the larger question still loomed in his mind. Why? Why had his father done this? What had caused him to become such an angry, hate filled man? Why had he chosen to serve a man as vile as the Emperor? And why had Obi-Wan, and even Yoda, lied to him?

Luke looked up and gazed blindly out the viewport of his small room into the vastness of space. So many questions. So much confusion. How was he supposed to know what to do?

Trust the Force, Luke.

Obi-Wan's advice during the battle of Yavin floated to the surface of his mind. It had been good advice and Luke acknowledged the truth of it. Perhaps the Force could give him answers where logic and reason had failed. Luke closed his eyes and tried to open himself to the Force as Obi-Wan and Master Yoda had taught him. After a few minutes, he sighed and opened his eyes. He felt a little calmer, but he was just too upset still to really focus.

Luke looked back down at the letter still in his hands. Just as he started to fold it, a line seemed to jump out and grab his attention.

Listen to your heart.

Luke paused. Then, slowly, following some inner instinct, he began to read the letter again. As he did, the image that he had so often seen of his father came to his mind again. The same familiar face and expression, only this time, wreathed in such sadness that Luke's heart ached to see it. The image left him, only to be replaced by an image of Vader as Luke had last seen him, holding out his hand as Luke had clung precariously to the transceiver array on Bespin. But instead of the mask, Luke saw a ghostly image of that sad-eyed father superimposed over Vader, forlornly pleading for Luke's assistance. And Luke knew, as surely as he had ever known anything, that what his father was asking was for him to help him, to help him free himself from something he had no power to leave on his own.

And Luke knew in that moment, with complete certainty, that he would find a way to free him from that ruthless power.

Whatever it took.