by Val Evenstar
It feels like your life's crashing down all around you
Let me ask if it's really so bad,
Look at the world in its suffering,
Can you honestly tell me that no one else
All of the hurting inside?
- Kutless, Perspectives
Luke ignored the voice pursuing him and lengthened his stride down the white-walled corridor. He tasted bitterness in his mouth, and unconsciously clenched his fists. His Jedi control was fast deteriorating; though he'd managed to keep a calm exterior so far, it was only a matter of minutes until the mask cracked. Would it be too much to ask them to leave him in peace for a while? He wasn't ready to deal with them, not until he'd dealt with it all himself.
In a few short hours the galaxy as they'd all known it had ended. Or perhaps it had just begun – and everything, everything was in a complete mess.
So really – how much time to meditate could he expect? Especially now – now that they all knew what he was.
Whose son he was.
And who had really killed the Emperor.
If he thought he was having some difficulty coming to terms with what had happened on the Death Star and Endor, the rest of the Rebel leadership was most certainly having a harder time. He didn't even want to imagine their consternation: a hero of the Rebellion the son of their greatest enemy? It was obvious his laconic relation of the recent events hadn't satisfied everyone; undoubtedly, the person hunting him down the sleek ship's corridors wanted more information. Or maybe some form of revenge, Luke thought sourly.
He listened as the footsteps sped into a half-walk half-jog and pounded down the long metal flooring towards him. Luke let out a short, exasperated hiss, not ready to face their reactions yet. While most of the people present at the debriefing had managed to mask their shock, he had still felt it through the Force. And he hadn't been brave enough to probe any deeper to see what they really thought underneath their cold, impartial masks.
"Commander Skywalker!" The voice was only a few feet away now.
Frustrated beyond words, Luke came to a stiff halt and turned sharply. "Yes?" he asked, voice sharp. So much for the calm Jedi façade. Oh, well. It wasn't like it was going to last forever anyway.
The man before him wore the uniform of the Rebel intelligence division, giving Luke plenty of reason to eye him suspiciously. He didn't recall this officer's name, but he'd really rather avoid any trouble right now – and trouble was something intelligence agents were infamous for carrying with them. The man was middle-aged, with thinning brown hair that may have once been wavy but was waxed straight back to reveal a receding hairline. He was taller than Luke, but his carefully blank expression was belied by the depth in his eyes.
"Commander Walak Reisan, Alliance Special Ops," he said in a way of introduction, not bothering with any salute – they were equals in rank – or greeting ritual. With so many species in the Rebellion, even simple things like greetings could become complicated matters, so most people tended to forgo customs of any sort.
Luke gave a wary nod in acknowledgment, doing his best to guard his expression. This was partly an attempt to keep from screaming at the man to go away – hardly Jedi-like behaviour, not that Luke was concerned about that at the present – and partly because he truly did suspect this man's motives.
"I work mostly in locating hidden military targets – private strongholds of the Emperor, secret facilities, elite training centers, you name it. My strike team's known to be one of the best, actually. Of course, that's what I do now."
Luke sighed inwardly; what was this guy getting at? He was not in the mood to listen to a resumé.
Looking the younger man straight in the eye, Reisan continued. "I used to be an Imperial interrogator."
Utterly unprepared, Luke took a startled step back. He knew that a good portion of the Rebellion was made up of Imperial defectors, but he'd always assumed that they came from the dissatisfied lower echelons and stayed in the slightly-more-satisfying lower Rebel ranks. Yet Reisan, obviously high up enough in Rebel command to merit a seat at top-level meetings, had worked for the Empire?
Reisan flashed a mirthless grin at him. "Yeah, that's how most people reacted when I first joined the Alliance. If they didn't either try to shoot me or run away first."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean - " Luke started, good manners kicking in and making him properly ashamed of his reflexive reaction.
"Don't be," Reisan said. "I've been lucky. First, I suppose I should be grateful that the Rebel troops I defected to didn't kill me on the spot. Oh, I was pretty tight with the Empire in my day. One of the lead interrogators – Vader's personal favorite, in fact. I was set for a promotion, too, after my work on the first Death Star. Happened to be off the station when it blew – that was actually one of my less honourable reasons for defecting, pure fear – but I was good at what I did. The best, really, though I'm hardly proud to say it."
A sudden thought jumped into Luke's mind and he blurted it out without thinking. "You didn't... Leia..."
A shadow passed over the older man's face, and he nodded reluctantly. "I oversaw her interrogation, yes. Along with Tarkin and Vader." For a long moment he watched the play of emotions across Luke's features.
How can Leia stand to be in the same room with this man, let alone work with him? Leia was a smart woman. Unless her memory had been erased, there was no way she would forget something like that.
Finally the young man spoke. "But how – how could you possibly be leading a Special Ops unit now? After all that..." There was a quiet bitterness in his voice that Reisan couldn't fail to miss.
"It wasn't easy," Reisan began slowly. "Forgiveness never is. But, one thing the Alliance definitely has over the Empire is, these people at least try to forgive. There's still some who think the past is the man, but most of them know better, to judge a man for what he is rather than what he has been. But they're still not stupid enough to forget everything- they know change isn't easy either, and my colleagues still know to tell me when bad habits from my Imperial past come through in my work, or even in my personal life.
"I didn't start straight up in intelligence work, either. Started as a tech, handling harmless stuff mostly. It took a while, year or more, to earn their trust. I suppose I could've gotten fed up and left – my talents certainly could've been better used – but I knew I'd been lucky to be given a second chance at all. It wasn't like they had to let me have a fresh start – it would've been easier for them to kill me or lock me up somewhere, I know.
"Point is, trust is a fragile thing – takes hardly anything to break it, and sweat and tears to rebuild it. But the people here aren't stupid. They'll forgive. It may take them a while, and it'll hurt like heck until they get around to it, but you have to believe they'll get there."
The corridor was silent for a minute. Luke absently examined the scuff marks his boots were making on the white floor as he pondered Reisan's words. The man seemed to genuinely want to help, and that was far more than Luke could have expected of a stranger right now.
But still – still. How could Reisan possibly understand what Luke was going through? He'd gone from an orphan to a Sith's son to a Jedi's son and all the way back again in a few short years. And now all he had left was the Alliance – no, not even all of them, just Han and Leia and Chewie really...
"You don't understand," he muttered. "It's just not the same..."
"Luke." Suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder, a gaze boring into his head daring him to lift his eyes.
Slowly Luke raised his head to meet the older man's eyes. He almost gasped, taken back by the intensity. The shields years of intelligence work had built around his expressions had vanished; in their place was a compassion and pain and comprehension greater than words could describe.
"You're right, it's not the same.
"To most of these people, I was Darth Vader.
"You're just his son.
"If they could forgive me after all the atrocities I willingly did – don't you think they'll forgive you for something that's not even your fault?"
Reisan started to walk away, but Luke called out to him. "Wait! Reisan!"
The older man turned and lifted a questioning eyebrow.
"Why did you leave the Empire?"
A sad smile crossed Reisan's face as he remembered. "It was a young rebel I met," he said quietly. "For some reason, he felt there was more to me – more than the stern, cruel, Imperial officer. He – I don't know – but I suppose I could say he loved me. I fought him, and scoffed at him. He was no more than a boy, really, hoping naively for something that wasn't there. But... in the end ... he was right."
Suddenly he seemed less and less corporeal as he walked away, faded away, and Luke cried out to him: "Don't leave – come back!"
But then Reisan was gone, and Luke was left with only a voice whispering in his ear: "I already have."
Luke never saw Reisan again. But ten years later on the anniversary of the Battle of Endor, he searched the New Republic's archives for the name of Walak Reisan.
He never found anything – no records, nothing.
Maybe they'd been lost in the war, or were yet to be declassified, unavailable to retired military.
But maybe... just maybe, there had been more to Reisan than had met the eye.
Why can't you see
Freedom is sometimes just simply another perspective away
Who could you be
If your lens was changed for a moment would you
Still be the same?
- Kutless, Perspectives
A/N: I just couldn't stay away from Star Wars – or from plot twists. This particular story was born of my love for Return of the Jedi, the song Perspectives (there is a link to the song on my profile page, if you're interested), and reading one too many post-Endor pity-party fics that blow the teen angst factor way out of proportion. Hopefully this is better than any of those... but I leave it to you to decide. Please let me know what you think of this!