Author's Note:I hope you enjoy this story, and please review. I really appreciate all the feedback I get, and if you like this one, please keep an eye out for my new story, Name, that should be up in about a week. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars, and I do not intend to make a profit off of this story.
"Somewhere in the world your father is lost and needs you, but you are far away." -- William Stafford
If he were telling the truth, he wouldn't have cut off my hand.
That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.
I always imagined that my father was still alive. I'd daydream about it for hours on end. By the time I was ten, I'd come up with a dozen different scenarios of how we'd meet, how we'd find out we were father and son, how we'd fly off into the stars together.
Never did it occur to me that we'd be such opposites, that we'd fight on different sides of a war, that we'd battle each other up close and personally. He'd always been a hero in my eyes, even before I learned that he'd been a Jedi Knight. He was everything I wanted to be.
I've always liked his name. Anakin. It sounded kind, strong – like I always imagined he would be. When I had nightmares as a child, I would whisper his name into the darkness. Just hearing it warmed me inside, made me feel safe and protected, like saying his name brought his spirit to my side so he could watch over me. I always slept soundly for the rest of the night after that.
For my ninth birthday, Aunt Beru took me on a trip to Mos Espa. I remember how a few people would stare at me. I finally worked up the courage to ask one man about it; he said I reminded him of someone he once knew, a childhood friend. Aunt Beru hurried me away before I could ask him anything else.
Then we met the Toydarian.
He was old, blue and overweight. I also decided he was more than a little insane, but I didn't mind, because he called me Anakin.
I liked knowing that I reminded people of my father, that they remembered him with love. I liked knowing that I look like him.
Apparently Aunt Beru didn't, though, because she never took me back to Mos Espa after that. I wonder if she knew.
I wonder if any of those people know what happened to that childhood friend of theirs, if they know what he became.
Somehow I doubt it.
But I know.
I can deny it as much as I want. I can argue that no man would cut off his son's hand, I can say it was just a lie to try to coax me over to his side, I can even pretend that he never said anything.
But I know.
I searched my feelings, like he told me to, and I know.
Anakin Skywalker, my hero, my idol, my father --
--is Darth Vader, my enemy, my hunter . . .
When I first joined the Alliance, I asked Leia if I could see the Archives. She let me, and I looked up Anakin Skywalker. There wasn't much; after the Great Jedi Purge, all the Jedi records had been destroyed. It was mostly things that older members of the Alliance remembered or articles about him they had saved.
Still, what they had was pretty impressive. He'd been one of the more well-known Jedi, it seemed, and had been known as both the Hero With No Fear and the Chosen One, though it didn't say what he'd been chosen for. It sounded important, whatever it was. There was a rumour about him having the highest midi-chlorian count in history, so high it couldn't even be measured accurately, but I didn't understand that part, so I moved on.
Several of the salvaged articles claimed he turned that tides of numerous battles single-handedly. All of them praised him to the ends of the galaxy and back. He was described as courageous, passionate, determined, selfless, intelligent, confident, and on and on and on.
The personal comments made by those who had met him were more realistic. After all, I knew, nobody's perfect. They said he was quick to anger, slow to forgive; he was single-minded to the point of recklessness; he was loyal to people, not to causes; he was independent and impulsive.
It just made him more human in my eyes, brought his pedestal closer to the ground, closer to my reach. It didn't diminish the love and awe I felt for him. If anything, it increased it. He was more than just my hero – he was the galaxy's hero.
Now, I have to wonder . . . if such a man as Anakin Skywalker, mighty warrior of the Republic, defender of justice, protector of innocents, Knight of the Jedi Order, the Hero With No Fear, the Chosen One . . . if as great a man as he could be seduced by the Dark Side, how can I even hope to resist?
Especially since his blood races through my veins?
If the Archives are correct, I have inherited his love for piloting. He didn't like anyone else behind the controls if he could get at them. He is credited as the best of the best, pulling off moves that should have gotten anyone who tried them smashed to bits.
His lightsaber abilities are beyond compare, too. I have to wonder how I managed to land a blow, however glancing, on him.
The date of death listed is my birthday.
And, perhaps Vader's, too?
I shy away from that thought. How can I accept that Darth Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, my father, after all he's done?
Obi-Wan Kenobi is mentioned practically every second sentence, at least – usually quite a bit more often. The media seems to see them as some kind of two-headed alien. Very rarely is one mentioned without the other; it's always Kenobi and Skywalker or Anakin and Obi-Wan. People thought they were invincible. They would always be there to save them.
Maybe that's what Anakin and Obi-Wan thought themselves.
Nobody would ever have suspected that one day Skywalker would kill Kenobi. I have this image in my head of my father and Ben laughing themselves silly at the very thought.
Ben. Obi-Wan. Whatever he calls himself. Why didn't he tell me? He knew Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were one and the same, so why did he purposefully mislead me into thinking otherwise? Did he think I couldn't handle it?
Maybe I couldn't. I'm not handling it too well now.
The Archives have no general, trivial information about my father. There is no date of birth, no homeworld, no parents' names.
There is no mention of anyone who could be my mother.
After we fought on Bespin, I looked Darth Vader up in the Archives. I couldn't help myself; as much as he horrifies me, he fascinates me. I'm enchanted; I can't turn away.
There was a lot more on him than there was on Anakin Skywalker, but most of it was about his activities as the Emperor's right hand. The man behind the mask was an enigma, and nobody cared if he stayed that way or not.
That realization depressed me, and I ached with sympathy for him for the first time. I couldn't – and still can't – imagine a more terrible existence than one without friends, one where everybody hoped they would never cross paths with you, and when they did, wished you gone as quickly as possible.
Then I looked back at what I had been skimming, and all the sorrow I felt for him fled my mind.
At the bottom of the page was a paragraph about Bespin. There wasn't much about our duel; while Leia, Lando and Chewbacca have told what the can, only Vader and I know the details of our fight, and I haven't spoken a word. I don't know why; it just seems too private, too intimate, to tell anyone about. Maybe I'm afraid of the looks and the whispers, the questions and the rejection that will surely come my way if my parentage is revealed. Whatever the reason, all the Archives say is that we fought and he cut my hand off.
My hand. I'm still adjusting to the artificial one. It's so strange not the see blue veins through the thin skin on the back of it, or to feel my pulse stop just before my wrist, instead of continuing on to my fingertips. I can't recall a time when the prosthesis was the same temperature as the rest of my body. It's usually a couple of degrees cooler, but if I've been opening and closing my hand a lot, it will become a couple of degrees warmer.
I wonder if Vader has lost any limbs . . .
I really don't like thinking about him so much. It's like the Force is hell-bent on making me accept him, and for the first time I see my sensitivity to it as a curse instead of a blessing that, like my lost lightsaber, links me to my father, the great Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker.
I'm insanely curious about that big black suit he wears, though. I know it's a life-support system; several doctors have studied holoimages of it and pronounced it so, usually adding that if they ever had a patient with injuries severe enough to need such a suit to survive, they would let the person die rather than subject them to such an existence. It would be more merciful.
What kind of horrific injuries must he have sustained to be forced into that suit? Did he choose that monstrous machine over death, or did someone choose for him? The pain must have been excruciating, whatever happened. I can't even begin to imagine what he must have gone through.
Could this, perhaps, be part of the reason he turned to the Dark? Frustrated and angry at his own fate, did he decide that no one else should have a happy life? He suffered, so everyone else should suffer, too?
Maybe he's still suffering. That suit looks uncomfortable and claustrophobic, and it must limit his movements – perhaps it even hinders his ability to use the Force. That's hard to imagine, though, because he is so incredibly strong with it even with the suit. It is with him constantly, even when he's not using it. The first thing I noticed when I saw him in Cloud City was how it swirled about him, restless and eager, but calming instantly when he drew upon it, obedient to his every whim. Just feeling the way he gathered it around himself, cloaking himself with it, filled me with awe and a strong suspicion that I was about to die.
I didn't die. I found out the truth.
Sometimes I don't know which is worse: death or truth. They both hurt. Neither cares about the pain they cause. And, in a way, both are endings.
Death ends life.
Truth ends dreams.
Well, maybe it doesn't end dreams; maybe it merely changes them. Instead of meeting my father, I now find myself imagining redeeming him – of helping him redeem himself.
If one can turn from the Light to the Dark, surely one can turn from the Dark to the Light.
But Ben and Yoda must have tried to turn him back. They wouldn't have just abandoned him to the Dark Side.
Things Yoda told me come to mind. There is no try . . . if once you start down the Dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny . . . consume you, it will . . .
Much anger in him . . . like his father.
It sure doesn't seem that way. If memory serves – and if I haven't misinterpreted Yoda's words – it sounds like they gave up on him as soon as he stepped over their carefully-placed, Jedi-drawn lines.
I vow that I will not give up so easily. I will not leave my father alone in the Dark.
Yet even as I picture this in my head, the redemption of my father, my mind still whispers to me reminders of everything he's done, all the atrocities he has committed, and I don't know how anyone can be forgiven for such things. I'm not entirely sure I can forgive him.
And I am his son.
If his own son will not forgive him, will not believe in him, who will?
But I can't help how I feel.
And so we come in a full circle. I cannot accept him, and I cannot reject him. I cannot forget his terrible crimes, yet something (I suspect the Force) tells me that I need to get over myself and face him, talk to him.
I need to let him know that while I will not follow in his footsteps, I will be there for him. I will not abandon him.
Easier said than done. Sometimes I think the Force should practice what it preaches. Maybe then it wouldn't demand the impossible of those sensitive to it.
The first (and last) time Ben tried to teach me to meditate, I said it wasn't possible to totally clear my mind of thoughts. Ben, playing on my hero-worship of my father, told me Anakin Skywalker hadn't believed in impossible. He wasn't entirely sure Anakin even knew the meaning of the word. To Anakin Skywalker's way of thinking, failure meant you hadn't tried hard enough. There was no situation that couldn't be survived if you fought long enough, no obstacle that couldn't be overcome if you were creative enough.
Does Darth Vader hold to the same philosophy, I wonder? I think he might.; I'm beginning to compare him to day and night. Everything that is present during the day is also present at night, it is just hidden from view or slightly distorted. Deep down, Anakin Skywalker's values and beliefs are the basis for Darth Vader's personality. As these beliefs come to the fore, however, they darken, hiding some, changing others, until finally they manifest in a twisted form of the original.
It seems like a good, logical theory to me.
The fact remains, however, that I am not my father. Impossible is part of my vocabulary, no matter what Ben says or what I see Yoda do. I've spent my life with impossible. I can't just toss it aside, no matter what Yoda tells me about doing or not doing, with no middle ground of try.
Yoda, I'm quite certain, never faced the challenge of turning his obstinate, Sith Lord father back to the less-tempting Light Side of the Force.
Yoda said I have a lot of anger. That came as a bit of a surprise. I've never considered myself to be an angry person. Apparently, it runs in the family.
As I think about it, though, I can see what he meant. Although I'm not prone to lethal fits of rage or vicious sadistic tendencies (unlike a certain armour-clad Sith Lord I could name), I do have a habit of becoming irritable and moody if I'm frustrated, and I have an unquenchable thirst for revenge when either I or someone I care about has been wronged. Not quite the same as choking the life-force out of anyone who so much as looks at me the wrong way, but nobody ever said that anger couldn't be subtle.
Wait a minute . . . Does Yoda think I'm going to turn to the Dark Side?
Great. I feel so much better now.
I think way too much. I really need to stop.
I have to go back to Dagobah. Not only did I promise that I would return, but Yoda – and Ben, if he decides to grace us with his presence – can answer all the questions I have about my father and what happened to him. Maybe they will have some idea of how I can bring him back to the Light.
It won't be easy, I know. From all Ben and Yoda have said, it is far easier to fall to the Dark than it is to rise from it.
I have a metaphor for this, too. The Light Side of the Force is sunlight, and the Dark Side is a windowless room. Stepping out of the sunlight into the room isn't so bad; you merely have to wait a few minutes for your pupils to widen enough to allow you to see in the darkness. However, when you try to leave the room, especially if you have been in there for a while, the sunlight stabs at your enlarged pupils like a blazing lightsaber. It hurts so much, and you realize that if you just go back into that room, the pain will stop.
I don't know how accurate that is, but it is the best I can come up with, and I like it. It seems to fit, somehow, even though I know that it is the Dark that hold you to itself, not the Light that drives you into it.
And surely a person, especially a great Jedi hero, doesn't just go, I think I'm going to turn to the Dark Side now. There must be a catalyst of some sort.
Now I want to know what exactly led my father into that windowless room.
What kind of place had the Republic been, to cause one of its strongest guardians to aid in its destruction? How had it ever allowed the Emperor to gain enough power to create the Empire? I'm not much at politics, but even I can see that the line between democracy and dictatorship is not thin.
I wonder if my father ever imagines what life would have been like if he had made different decisions.
He has fallen so far. Does he wish he hadn't? Will he accept my offer to help him climb back up?
I recall his voice from when he reached for me, after our duel. He spoke straight into my mind, and it didn't sound as it does to my ears. It is human in my mind, not mechanical. Not the fearful bass heard by the world, but a baritone, rich and soothing and melodic. It was a voice that I had always associated with Anakin Skywalker: warm and strong. The ominous rasp of his breathing had disappeared. I could pick out undertones that I would be hard-pressed to identify had he spoken through the machine.
A hint of regret?
Strange emotions for a Dark Lord of the Sith.
I blocked him then, still hurting physically and emotionally.
Now, sometimes I wish I hadn't. Sometimes, I even catch myself wishing I dared to reach out for him.
I've come very close to it. I've hovered just beside him, not daring to touch, yet not wanting to leave. I know he senses me. He sends me a feeling of amusement through the bond that developed I don't know when, then goes about his business. I withdraw quickly every time, but the brief contact is enough. I can feel the good man in him, just under Vader's consciousness, planting seeds of doubt in Vader's mind. He has a family now; isn't family worth more than than any war, more than any power, more than any master he has been doubting for years now?
I can feel his conflict, the battle he's fighting with himself. He wants to come to me, to turn his back on the Darkness; he's just not sure he can. And every time he senses me watching him, the battlefield of his heart grows bloodier.
Darth Vader is unsure of himself. That has to be a first.
And yes, I am sure he has a heart.
I want to know my father. I want to know Anakin Skywalker. And I know, I know, that despite how hard Vader must have tried, he couldn't destroy Anakin, not completely. He may not return to be the galactic saviour I've read about, but we'll be together, Anakin and I, Father and I, just like I always dreamed, as a child, that we would. And together, I know we can do anything.