A/N This story is finished, so I'll post all chapters in the next days - it takes some time, you know. The story builds slowly, but I think you'll agree with me that the rating is justified in the end. Enjoy and let me know about it! G.

The Best I Can Do

1. Day 77 - Part I

I've made a deal that will keep the Empire out of here forever.

Cynical, treacherous Lando. Sure he had made a deal.

Chewie had tried to warn him, but he didn't listen. Leia was suspicious from the start, but they had had no choice but coming here. Everywhere else seemed too dangerous or was out of range of the damaged Falcon.

He had fired, four times. Leia and Chewie had cowered behind him. Darth Vader deflected the blasts with his gauntlet-protected hands and pulled the blaster out of his grip without effort. Without touching it. The weapon had flown across the room to him. Damn Force.

"We would be honored if you join us," the Dark Lord said.

This couldn't be happening. Not to them, not to Leia again.

Another figured appeared next to Darth Vader. A familiar figure, wearing a blue-green Mandalorian armor. Boba Fett. It had to be him.

"I had no choice. They arrived right before you did." tried to justify himself Lando. "I'm sorry."

He was sorry? Really. He looked the Baron up and down, as if measuring a hit, before taking Leia's hand.

"I'm sorry too," he answered, with a deadly look in his eyes.

At last, he had them in his power. The Princess, the smuggler and the Wookiee. Three thorns in his side that would soon be punished for their foolishness. And in the process they will attract his son to him.

Darth Vader motioned to the Princess to take a seat at his right and signaled Boba Fett to help her with the chair. "Here, Captain Solo," he said, indicating the seat at his left. The cocky pilot ignored him and sat next to the Princess. Let him have it; it won't last, the Dark Lord thought.

The Wookiee had been taken to the brig. The Sith dismissed the bounty hunter with a nod of his head. The door hissed close behind him.

"It a pleasure to meet you again, Princess," he said to the young woman at his side. She had grown up since their last encounter, matured. She was even more beautiful, if that was possible. She reminded him of someone else, long ago.

Nonsense, he thought, discarding the thought quickly.

"I can't say the same, Lord Vader," she answered.

Oh, always a disdainful answer in her lips. It wouldn't last, either. Whether she resembled somebody of his past, or not.

My nightmares were right, Princess Leia thought. We're all going to die.

She had seen it very clearly. Han, lying very still, very pale. The same shirt he had put on today before arriving to Bespin. Luke, his face all battered and bruised, one hand missing. Was Luke here? Was he already a prisoner?

The rhythmic sound of Vader's respirator filled the room. It was impossible to read him, to see beyond the impenetrable mask. She raised her own fa├žade. The Ice Princess kicked in.

"Can I ask what are you planning to do with us?" She asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.

"That is something you may find... interesting, Princess. So, tell me, how was your voyage?"

Instinctively, she reached for Han's hand under the table. Did he know?

At least they had had last night.

Han Solo had never been so close to the Sith Lord before. He found him extremely frightening. Something very dark surrounded him, and it wasn't only his armor. Sweat started to gather on the Corellian's forehead.

She had taken his hand. At least they still had that. But who knew for how long? That fellow was playing with them. If he was going to have them executed, why not finish it right now? He was unmerciful forcing Leia to chat with him, as if they were at a court banquet.

She looked - amazing. He hadn't seen her looking so regal before. Not a flinch of her eye as she looked straight into the mask.

Her voice was so cold that he barely recognized it. It was so different from the sweet, yearning whispers of last night.

They were in love. That was something anybody could see from a parsec away.

He found that fact slightly uncomfortable. It was a weakness. He'd expected her to be stronger, tougher. And to make this petty rebel smuggler the subject of her affections? She was only a woman, after all.

But it was to his advantage. He could feel the anguish already growing in the two lovers.

His informants had reported that the Princess was the boy's love interest and Solo his best friend. The security tapes found in Hoth, though damaged, showed that clearly. Friendship and love had always been clearly overrated. Lord Vader wondered how Luke would react when he found out. But they were nevertheless close to him and he should be already aware of this threat to them. If not, maybe the Emperor was wrong and he wasn't so powerful after all.

His internal clock marked that fifteen minutes had passed since he had revealed himself to them. Another fifteen would do just fine. Then the real fun would begin.