AN: I know folks are waiting updates for "Dark Times" and "Consequences" but I wrote this for the skywalkathon on livejournal and thought I'd also post it here. It does have connections with "Dark Times" in that I used an idea I got from writing that story where Luke recalls his home. I AM still working on the other two stories.
And as always; Star Wars doesn't belong to me. Mores the pity.
I always liked this time of day as daylight passes into night. I used to stand near the edge of the sunken courtyard on the farm and watch as the suns dipped below the distant dunes and rocks. It always seemed such a peaceful time, the quiet was almost absolute and I could only ever hear the hum of the farmstead's generator as it powered down for the night. It seemed, at that moment, that had I wanted too I could have reached out in my frustration and touched the whole galaxy as the night sky darkened to tease me with the stars of distant worlds and as the lights of approaching starships moved silently overhead as they descended into Mos Eisley or Mos Espa. Oh, how I wanted to be on one of those ships but be heading in the opposite direction.
I smile now, at the memories, at the overwhelming frustrations of my youth. I had always wanted more than I had – a trait Uncle Owen said I shared with my father. It seems selfish, I know, and I admit it to myself. But I have always thought that it is a very human trait to want better, to give your life some purpose. My aunt Beru always thought so and I think that is why she was always more patient with me than Uncle Owen. He was more pragmatic, he was a man of the soil and of the water. But that didn't mean that he didn't love me any less. He was the father I lacked and he, and Aunt Beru, taught me the values that I have carried all my life and I still miss them both. The grief I bear for them does not diminish by the passage of time it merely lingers behind me as I rush through the war that my life has become focussed upon and it catches up with me at quiet moments such as this.
I miss them. I miss the farm. I miss the peace and the quiet and the love I had there.
The suns are almost down now, and the temperature is starting to drop but I have no wish, just yet, to enter Obi-Wan's dwelling behind me. It was around this time that Uncle Owen would shout me in or Aunt Beru would come and look for me. I liked that time when the two of us would sit and talk and the warm air around us would gradually fall and eventually become cold enough to send us into the homestead to the heat of the kitchen for a late evening snack before bed. I can still hear the soft tones of her voice, the rustle of her skirt as she smoothed it to sit beside me, the smell of her marave berry biscuits baking for the breakfast the following morning. We would often just sit quiet and take solace from each other's company, but it was when we talked that I liked the most. Aunt Beru always seemed to know how to calm my fears and quieten my anger after a row with Uncle Owen or a fall out with my friends. She would also listen to me when I wanted to know more about my family, about the grandmother who was buried so close by and about the father who had died and whose grave was unknown.
"I am your father!"
I had never realised that so few words could crush an identity, that the very foundations of who I was, who I am, could be so callously swept away. I have been left wandering and looking for answers to the uncertainty that Vader's declaration has caused. I long for my aunt's company and kind words. She would know what to say, what to do for me. She would find some way to gently console me and tell me the universe will go on no matter what people say to you, how hard they try to hurt you.
"Your Grandmother used to tell us that it is not the words that people say that count, it's their actions which matter."
I smile again at the memory, my heart filling with fresh grief. And I wonder what my aunt would have thought of Vader's actions when he backed me down the gantry and held a saber to my throat. What would she have thought of him wounding me before declaring himself to be my father.
"Luke, we often hurt those we love the most."
Love. Does Vader even understand the concept of the word? He has destroyed so much in this Galaxy, how can he possibly know what love means? He's a tyrant working for a despot and together they have wreaked havoc on the Galaxy and murdered and oppressed billions. I have difficulty believing he ever loved or was loved.
"Your grandmother loved him so very much, Luke. She missed him so much and she would share tales of his childhood with Owen and I. And he loved her."
"But Aunt Beru, Uncle Owen said if he loved her that much he would have never left her."
"Oh, Luke, your uncle never understood your father. He never saw that your father left because he valued his mother's sacrifice. Shmi wanted a better life for him and Anakin honoured that."
I remember that evening talk. Uncle Owen had grounded me, again and I was so angry and hurt that Owen had not believed that, for once, the accident in the speeder was not my fault. I had sat sulking outside the doorway of the dome and had been stewing in my own anger, wallowing in self-pity. Owen had shouted that I was reckless and selfish – just like my father. Aunt Beru had come and sat beside me and I had refused to look at her, to speak to her until the quiet had been too much for me and I had started asking questions about my father – again – and this time I had gotten some answers.
But honour? Sacrifice? It was difficult to believe that my father who honoured his mother, could be the same man who now murdered mothers and sons.
My father! Nausea cramps at my stomach as again the reality of that statement suddenly descends. My father! My hand flexes in reflex as the severed nerves scream with agony and I have to tightening the prosthetic into a fist as I fight the phantom pains the doctors have said should diminish with time.
"You speak like you knew him, Aunt Beru."
She was quiet for a while and I understand now that she was struggling to find the words, debating with herself whether to say anymore.
I remember I started, pulled back from her, a little aghast that Owen and she had kept this from me. They had always been adamant that Anakin had abandoned his mother for a life among the stars and had never returned and I suddenly realised then that Owen had always spoken of this while Beru had sat quietly looking troubled and sad.
"You did? But I thought…"
"It seemed best not to tell you, Luke. To not fill your head full of notions of adventure and space travel."
"But he was my father! Aunt Beru, I have a right to know about my father!"
"And some day you will, when you are ready."
"Ready? What does that mean? Was he a pirate or something?"
"No, not at all. He was a good man, never forget that."
A good man. A good man who was loved and loved others. A man who knew honour and understood sacrifice. It really didn't sound like Vader at all. It sounded like a man I would be proud to call father.
But I have called Vader father. On the Falcon, in my pain and shock, I replied to his call. I gave him acknowledgement and I felt his satisfaction and pleasure as I recognised him as my father. It was later, during my recovery, once the pain had lessened, once the drugs had worn off and when I had time alone to think that the doubts grew from the horror of Bespin.
Obi-Wan had told me that my father was a Jedi. A great pilot who had fought for justice and peace. I was elated at that moment. My father had been a great man, not just a navigator on a spice freighter – a pilot! Like me!
And a good man.
Vader had to be lying. He had to be trying to confuse me and misdirect me, isn't that what the Dark Side did? He couldn't be my father.
But why say that he was? What reason could he possibly have for claiming me as his son? He would know that I would find out the truth somehow, that I would be able to disprove his claims of parentage.
Unless… he spoke the truth.
I had been quiet for moment or two thinking about what to ask. I was scared that, if I questioned too much, she would tell me that she could say no more, that she would be afraid of Uncle Owen overhearing and suggest we retire for the night.
"What was he like? I mean, what did he look like?"
She looked at me so intensely I was afraid I had asked the wrong question and she would now tell me that she had already said too much. Then she had reached out and placed her warm palm against my cheek.
"Like you, Luke. He looked like you."
She glanced away then and her eyes scanned the horizon as she had searched her memory and she smiled.
"He was so handsome, but don't tell your uncle I said that. And tall…"
I had laughed at that.
"Not so much like me, then."
"Blue eyes. Blue eyes so deep that the breath caught in my throat, but he rarely looked my way. I think he was quite shy, but oh so worried about his mother. I felt that he was trying so hard to contain his emotions and that if she hadn't been with him to help him that…"
"A young lady. Beautiful and refined and they way they looked at each other. Well, you could tell how much they loved each other."
My chest had constricted and my heart beat a little faster. This was more information than I had ever hoped to hear.
Aunt Beru had looked at me again and she had sadly smiled.
"I don't know, Luke. I really don't know."
"But she might have been?"
I had fallen silent again, sure that the conversation was over and I felt so sorry about that, because I wanted to know more so badly. I needed to know more. And yet I was delighted. My father had been here, at the farm, and perhaps my mother, also. I had never felt such a close moment to my parents. They had always been vague figures on the edge of my imagination as though they had never really existed. My aunt had finally made them seem like flesh and blood for me, real and touchable.
"Why had they come?"
"Why, for your grandmother, Luke. Your father had come for his mother and it devastated him when he learned what had happened. That the Tuskan's had taken her. You remember we told you about that?"
I nodded. It was a warning I had learned young. To stay by the farm and stay armed lest the Sandpeople got me as they had my grandmother. My aunt's voice had become a little distant and she was staring off into the horizon once more.
"He was adamant he was going after her. Determined to save her… desperate. He loved her so much and had missed her while away. The thought of her in danger was destroying him, or so the lady told me as we waited."
"He borrowed Owen's swoopbike and…"
"Uncle Owen had a swoopbike?"
I was shocked! Uncle Owen had never seemed one for such a fast vehicle. He often berated me for my love of speed and had denied my request for a bike.
"Your Uncle was young once, Luke."
She had smiled widely, the humour clear in her voice.
"So what happened?"
Her smiled faded.
"He grew older, Luke. Took on a lot of responsibility and worry. Owen, like many people, think they change, that events, choices and time alter them somehow. But underneath it all he is still the same man he has always been. He's only forgotten."
I was quiet. I hadn't meant what had happened to my uncle, I had asked about my father and the swoopbike. But she sounded so sad, so weary and worn and I realised then that Aunt Beru was still deeply in love with my Uncle and was concerned for him.
"But you want to know about your father, don't you?"
I had merely nodded silently.
"He was gone all night and well into the morning. We all ran out to meet him and…"
Her voice choked a little and she cleared her throat pretending that the memories were not upsetting her. I let her believe I was fooled.
"… your grandmother was dead. He had found her, had brought her back to us, but she was dead. He carried her into the dwelling and set her down so gently. It was clear to us all how he was struggling. He was trying so hard to be brave, to not show his emotions but he was torn up that he hadn't been able to save her."
"How had he even got to her? I mean from a Tuskan camp? One man?"
"I… don't know, Luke…"
She had hesitated and I had a feeling then that she did know, or had some idea of how he had achieved such a daring rescue attempt. But I didn't push her. I know now, of course. My father was a Jedi Knight. He would have just gone into the camp and taken her. And for some reason this disturbs me. Tuskan camps are well guarded, fiercely protected as family groups live together and nurture their young. To free his mother Anakin would have met vicious resistance and…
"…but remember he loved her so much he risked his life to save her."
"He sounds brave."
"I believe he was, Luke. Brave, strong and loyal."
I was proud at that moment. Proud to be my father's son.
It's cold now, and getting so very dark and not just because of the deepening night. I can feel it within the Force, too. The Dark Side is getting stronger and drawing nearer to me and I know that the coming days will soon decide my fate and that of the Galaxy. I returned to this planet to find and rescue a friend, I came to this desert dwelling to find something of a teacher and to construct a lightsaber to replace the one I lost to Vader on Bespin…
"I am your father!"
…to find some time alone to prepare for what was ahead for me before returning to Yoda and completing my training. But I found something more.
I found a memory.
I found hope.
I still do not know if Darth Vader's declaration is true. I do not know if Obi-Wan misled me when he handed me my father's lightsaber and told me of his death. I do not know - although I have a feeling, an inkling, that I believe I am almost ready to face and to accept an unthinkable truth - why Yoda would compare me to my father and yet answer none of my questions about him.
But I do know one thing and I learned it from my Aunt Beru. She took advantage of that night to teach me something that I have only come to appreciate tonight as I stand on the eve of the battles to come. She taught me that my father was a good man, a loving man who knew of honour and sacrifice. And if Vader, beneath that mask and armour truly is Anakin Skywalker and my father, then he is still the same man who rode a swoopbike through a Tatooine night to save his beloved mother from the Tuskans.
This is my belief, my hope, my only weapon against him. There is good in him and, as my aunt said of my uncle, he has only forgotten. Perhaps, given the opportunity, he might one day remember and be that man again.