Waking Dream
An AU Darth Vader vignette

Genre: Angst, drama, supernatural, general
A.N/Disclaimer: This is sometime after Revenge of the Sith, quite possibly a few years before A New Hopeanda one-shot fic. I only own the idea, as it's AU. Star Wars belongs to George Lucas. Constructive critisism is appreciated, and flamers will be served with ketchup (as well as anyone who suggests this is slash. It's not).

Do you know what it's like to be haunted?

There were moments in which the mighty Darth Vader could sit in the midst of his chambers, stare at the wall, and admit to himself he seen eyes staring out at him. There were the flickers of regret, of agony, of uttermost angst. How else could it be described, nothing more than an entirely elderich sensation of beings gazing down at him.

He knew they were false, nothing more than the attempts to pull him apart. They had to be. The Jedi hadn't been that powerful; how could they be? He had killed them!

Do you know what it's like to sleep and have a pair of brown eyes gazing down at you, whispering your name?

There were these moments of weakness, in which he couldn't do anything but close his eyes and wish desperately that he was back, years ago, and faced with a different choice, a different set of possibilities. He wished he could lose that podrace, oh so long ago, rather than fighting with each moment in the light of death. Perhaps this fate could've eluded him then.

In your rage, you killed her.

How could he have? How could he have killed the one person he was able to love more than himself? The great Sith Lord was unable to weep, even if he had chosen to. His helmet trapped such emotions—but that was for the better. It would never do for another being to see him display any emotion beyond wrath; most certainly not someone who could let secrets slip to his Emperor.

There was only one person he ever could've wept for, could've let see such emotions. And she was dead, murdered by his own anger. How could he have been so foolish, to not see her fragile nature while lashing out in utmost hatred? She was scarcely more than a child, so tiny, so breakable: carrying his own children even more delicate than he ever could have been. And he had destroyed her.

The face haunted his memories.



Back there on Mustafar, he remembered Obi-Wan kneeling for just one moment beside Padmé. His own Master had cared more for her than he had! He had only ever been a murderer, uncaring to her fate. And Obi-Wan... Obi-Wan had stolen her from him. He had to have. Kenobi had displayed far more compassion for Padmé; he had fallen in love with her as well, perhaps. Stolen Padmé's heart, and then her life.

I loved you...

And I hate you.

Accompanied only by the rasping of his breathing, Anakin... no, Vader fought to avoid closing his eyes. In this darkness, he knew the only thing that could possible show up to taunt him was nothing more than memories. Painful memories, the ones that would bite at him and slowly drive him to insanity... to insanity or the greatest control any Sith had ever known over their emotions, thoughts, and agony.

This pain. It was a teacher. It had to be; it couldn't be anything but.

He was encircled by shadows, and in those shadows, eyes peered out at him. Eyes with the slightest gleams of lightsaber blades masked by death reflected in dark irises. Eyes with child-like innocence, pleading for his sanity to return. Eyes masked by white helmets, swearing to obey his every order. His day had come and gone, the glory of defeating the Jedi overwrought in the light of the horrifying memories that threatened to overthrow his own darkness.

He had killed his wife, his child...

No! These could not be allowed to bring him down. He would not let these memories throw him off the track of power he had managed to gain. So much loss had accompanied the trip into the dark, he could not let those losses go unnoticed. He could not afford to waste what advantages they had granted him. His mother, his one true love...

There is one you did not kill who yet haunts your sleep, however.

Vader knew this. He knew it all too well. How could those blue eyes not haunt him, that lightsaber blade not torture his every waking dream? This was a waking dream, the walls falling away from him, the floor evaporating to mist. This was a vision, the Force at its strongest point...

This was memory.

As he rose, helmet fallen away into the mist of the floor, things grew weaker. As if something had been injected into his bloodstream, Vader felt as if the very world were swallowing his every ability to breathe, think, or even have a heartbeat.

You know, this is what it feels like to be dead.

He held one arm out before his body; it was still tightly wrapped in black leather. The remainder of his garb was still dark, the Sith's robes and armor preserving his life in amidst chaos yet there. Only his helmet was gone, vanished somewhere into the floor. Padmé.


Breath caught in his throat, anger surfaced swifter than any regretful emotions. He hurled himself against the wall, a now solid, invisible, and impassable object in the mist brought up by his memories. Somewhere this had to be a place. Somewhere, the same as the heat of a sandstorm, the same as the rush of Coruscant's wind hurling itself against his face... it had to be a somewhere.

Do you know what it's like to feel trapped in your own body?

Of course you do.

You feel that way every moment.

"Let me out."

He stiffened to hear his own voice. It was raspy, broken from so much disuse beyond the helmet. The mask which altered his tones, which made him seem a monster rather than the broken human being that he simply was. Broken, battered, aged, and so near death—Vader was nothing more than an old and wounded man underneath the skeleton of armor.

And even without the mask, his breath still sounded hard, a hiss that somehow overcame the wind and musk the place offered. Hiss... hiss...

"Let... me... out."

Do you know what it's like to be so angry that you speak simply in tones of utmost calm?

Vader knew. It was simply a foreign emotion, as much as encompassing rage had been to his former Master. His former Master, his teacher, his friend. His friend and greatest traitor to his cause, Vader thought. Even in a dream, things didn't alter. Kenobi had hurt him more than anything else ever could have, if only because he existed as a father figure, a close friend, and had abandoned him...

In what? Was it a time of need?

Or a time of want?

He silenced the traitorous thoughts with a breath and a thought, however. Those were the thoughts of the Jedi, not of a Sith. They were unhardened, weak with need to aid others before anything else. Weak because...

Have you ever existed knowing so strongly that you're wrong, yet stubbornly insisted on remaining on your path if only for pride?

Because they were right. It was undeniable. For those who acclaimed to live by morals, and morals alone, they were right. Right didn't mean pleasurable, enjoyable, or any little thing such as that. Right didn't seduce you into their silvery paths, only to chew you up, swallow you down, and spit you up a moment later, leaving you with a day's hangover and a wish to redo the night once more.

Right hurt when you did it, not after you did it. Wrong was fun to do, and hurt later.

Wrong could overbear right, even if it was wrong.

He touched the walls. They were solid, familiar, shaped in the exact same curves of the white-washed Imperial building. In the recesses of his mind, Vader knew that if he were to follow them, everything would be where it was before. Only the mist masked it. Only this waking dream prevented them from being what he knew they were. This retrovision, this visionary, this daydream! It was foolishness.

"And yet, a dream can so very often symbolize the future."

Vader knew that voice. It was a biting Core accent, one he knew had to be attached to the face of a blue eyed Jedi Master with a beard...

"You are nothing more than a dream. Leave me."

"You can't order a dream away." Kenobi smiled dimly, humorlessly. "Nor can you call a dream up in replacement."

Vader whirled to face this phantom. He had no place in amidst his dreams! This mockery of a father should not have borne enough status in amidst the chaotic jumble of his thoughts to appear within these forced visions, these agonizing memories of Padmé and Jedi and children's faces. "I have no reason to talk to you, even if you will not leave."

Kenobi examined the Sith Lord's face: no longer hidden by the mask, it was pale and scarred by time and fire and emotion—or the lack of it. "You look old."

"As do you."

"Stress seems to be wearing itself on you, my old Padawan. You ought to get more sleep."

Vader frowned ever so slightly. The dreams, always so accurate to the man he had once trusted, and always so irritating... why couldn't he dream of Padmé? Or anything more gratifying than a murderer? "I am not your Padawan."

"Perhaps not."

How can you call someone a murderer when you can grant yourself the same title without a second thought?

"And I suppose you're dreaming as well?" the Anakin in Vader mocked. "The great Jedi Master, caught daydreaming about his old apprentice?"

"Caught? Oh, hardly."

"Perhaps while you're here in my head you might be inclined to tell me where you are?"

Again, that hint of a mocking, humorless smile. "As I'm simply your imagination, Anakin, it couldn't possibly be accurate information."

"It's a vision."

"Very well. A vision, but still a piece of your imagination nevertheless."

"A vision can be foresightful." Vader sat down—even though everything was masked in mist, the old furniture was still there. He observed with a slightly thoughtful expression that Kenobi was leaning against a wall that was most certainly not a part of his chambers: perhaps things remained true to their viewer's environment, then?

He was uncertain, but all waking dreams were utterly confusing. There was nothing more they could be. If he fell asleep again, would he revert? Or was he forced to face this... mockery?

"You're struggling."

"Only with the great desire to strangle you."

"I always knew you'd be the death of me."

Vader exhaled, a hiss between cavity-wrought teeth. There were some things neglected when in a helmet at all moments. He wondered what had happened, then, to the helmet he wore. Clearly, he could breathe in this fantasy. "I wish."

"Then, pray tell, why are you not attempting to strangle me now?"

"Because I've tried to kill dreams before, and it's both ineffective and unsatisfying."


Vader closed his eyes. Sleep. That had to be the answer. Return to the land where the voices taunted, the eyes were remembered, and the screams so distant. Then this parody of Kenobi would vanish, back to whatever backwater planet he was hiding on. And then he could search further, stronger, harder through the Force to locate his old Master, though the bonds were sliced and cast so far into the Force's field there was no way he could ever recapture the strands long enough to locate Kenobi.

Fall away from the impossible...

"It won't work, of course." Kenobi's voice bit into Vader's mind, causing Vader to hate him more than he had before. Always interfering, the meddling old fool...

But he opened one eye all the same. "Oh?"

"You can't escape a vision until something occurs, something the entire occurrence hinges upon."

"Perhaps it will hinge upon the fact that if we ever meet again, I will kill you."

"Strong words."

"You're not real."

"Immature words, as well."

"You're a vision, and I can be as immature as I want with you." Vader closed his eyes again, and tried to bring up mental images of happy things. Like strangling rebels. That was a happy thought. Another happy thought was the idea of crushing this fantasy into small pieces; disposing of this waking dream of Kenobi; somehow keeping Padmé and his mother from dying...

"It hurts you."

"Stop talking! I'm trying to fall asleep, Master."

"Your pardon, of course."

There was another silence, a brief one, and one Vader wished could've been stretched to last the remainder of this waking dream.

"You're thinking about Padmé."

"Of course I am. I'd rather look at her than you."

Kenobi gave that half smile again, so tired and scarcely happy. "I'm sure she is. What lies did your Master feed you about her, Anakin?"

Vader fell silent. This had to end soon. It couldn't continue. It was too purposeless, so unending, so... misty. For it was. It was a discussion in a misty room—a discussion with the one person he would've loved to kill with a more vehement, more intensive rage than any other that could've existed.

But Kenobi just sighed. "Oh, very well. Stay silent. It won't hide you forever."

"Nor will your powers hide you."

"A pleasure speaking with you."

"Go bother someone else."

"Of course, my old Padawan." Kenobi gave Vader a thoughtful glance. "In waking dreams you're far less horrible than the news would make you out to be."

"I may have to amend that," the Sith Lord responded without thinking. There... there. His eyes latched onto it, the vaguest shrinking of the mist about the room. The smallest hint of a familiar light glowing from the exit on the door. He stood up. Where was his helmet anyway?

Do you know what it's like to be haunted?

Kenobi paused a moment. "It seems you've gotten your way as it is. I shall see you later, then."

"I'll kill you if I see you."

"I know." It was beyond words to describe the grief encumbered in Obi-Wan Kenobi's eyes for that one moment. Betrayal could be taken far beyond the action itself. But that emotion, like so many others, was so swiftly masked...

The mist vanished, as did Kenobi.

Vader sank back down into his seat with a sigh of relief. He thought to himself that he was going to have to work on mental control, rather than letting thoughts fly off on their own little tangents like this again. And he thought he would appreciate sleep. Sleep without dreams. Sleep without memories...

Sleep without Padmé.

He missed her so desperately...

And, on Tatooine, a Jedi Master observed for a bare moment the shadow of a helmet peering out from underneath his desk before it vanished, leaving nothing more than an imprint in the dust. He rose and took his broom. The planet seemed to grow dust, but it wouldn't do to be leaving it in such an obvious location.

Kenobi swept the traces away.

It was, after all, nothing more than a dream.