Title: The Junkshop Discovery
Author: Deja Vu
Summary: Vader goes to Tatooine, where he sees Watto, who happens to have a very interesting slave...A Luke/Vader Writers challenge fic entry.
Rating: No language, mild violence.
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars, but this story is mine.

Characters: Vader, Watto, Luke.
Author's Thanks: Many thanks to Kitt for her awesome beta-reading and suggestions. The paragraph that starts with "Children" is basically hers, though I changed the wording a bit and added a sentence. The title is also her idea.

Darth Vader hated Tatooine.

The harsh pellets of sand were dry, clinging granules of death and discomfort; the unforgiving Tatooinian suns were merciless in beating down on any travelers; and there was not a worthwhile being on the entire planet—just pathetic moisture farmers and mercenaries. Even the Imperials on Tatooine were incompetent—no one would be stationed on a backwater planet such as this unless they had proved themselves incompetent or had angered those in power.

It was only rumors of a strange wizard that had convinced him to come to the wretched desert planet. The only problem was that he was lacking details on the Jedi's location—if indeed there was a Jedi. That lack was why he was setting foot in Mos Espa. He only hoped that some of the information brokers he'd known in his childhood were still around.

His Stormtrooper escort followed him down the Imperial shuttle ramp in perfect formation and had only gone a few feet before Vader turned to the Stormtrooper captain. "Wait here."

The captain acknowledged the order with a quiet "Yes, my lord," but there was an uneasy tone in his voice.

Vader left the docking bay without another word. He was loathe to let them know how well he knew this place. He would face the ghosts of his past alone. Just as he always did.

Children scattered at the sight of him walking down the street. Their fearful shrieks and cries caused adults to stop haggling over food and fuel and run to their aid. A ragged Rodian toddler stood in the middle of the street, transfixed at the sight of him, until his mother carried him off into a dark alleyway beside a cantina. The street was almost deserted before Vader had reached the end. He found himself darkly amused by what his presence had inspired, though it would probably make his job more difficult.

His steps suddenly began to falter and then stopped completely as he felt something strange tug at his Force sense. He turned around, lowering his helmet to look at a small boy standing a few feet away from a doorway which he must have just exited.

The child—who was perhaps seven years of age—had mussed blonde hair, tanned skin, and startlingly clear blue eyes. He was holding a droid servomotor in his hands and was rather impressed by Vader's large stature if the wideness of his eyes was any indication. On seeing the Sith Lord's attention focused on him, however, the boy broke his gaze away and quickly resumed moving down the street toward his original destination.

Strangely intrigued, Vader followed the boy. Before long, he found himself standing in front of a junk shop he knew very well. The boy disappeared into the building, and Vader stared at it for several seconds before finally gathering his resolve and entering himself.

The place certainly looked better than it had the last time he was here; evidently, there'd been a bit of a windfall, as things were tidier and looked to be in better condition.

"Hi chuba da nago?" a familiar voice asked in Huttese.

Vader turned his helmet slightly to the left to study Watto.

The Toydarian had his back facing him, as he was busy looking down at something. Even though he couldn't see Watto's front, Vader could tell he had aged. Still, his wings seemed to be beating as fast as they always had, keeping him aloft without any difficulty.

The Sith Lord's breathing echoed throughout the room, and Watto seemed to realize that something unusual was going on. He turned around from the table, knocking off a pit droid in startlement after seeing who his latest visitor was. "Unnhh, who are youuh?"

"I should think it would be obvious," Vader said dryly.

There was a tic in Watto's face that only appeared when he was nervous. It was appearing right now. "Whatuh," he said at last, "you think you can come in here and scare poor Watto with a silly prank, eh? Well, I'm not fooled by your silly costume, hmm." He buzzed up by Vader, studying the suit. The Sith Lord could feel that he was still anxious, though the Toydarian was trying desperately to hide it. "Wald must have spent a fortune on that costume, heh heh...Where is he anyway, mmm? Is he hiding?" He flew behind Vader to the entrance to his shop and looked outside. He frowned as he noticed how quiet the street was.

"I am Darth Vader, Military Executor for the Empire," the Sith Lord said in a low, threatening voice. "I am not some Rodian's prank."

Watto turned and looked at the armor-clad human. Then he looked outside. Then he bolted.

Darth Vader lifted a hand in the air and used the Force to bring a struggling Watto back inside the shop.

The Toydarian was the closest to hysterics that he'd ever seen him. "Please don't kill me! I have several more years to live, mmm? I have a wife and two kids—"

"You have never been married in your life."

"Well, yeah, but, unhh, I could be. Think of all the little Toydarians you would be letting downuh—"

He released Watto from his Force-grip. "Stop your useless prattle. I did not come here to kill you."

The Toydarian's eyes started to glint with hope. "You didn't, unh?" He looked down at the floor and then back up at Vader, and he shouted over his shoulder, "Peedunkee!" With a bit of a sheepish grin, he queried, "What are you doing here in my humble shop then, hmm?"

Vader watched as the boy he'd seen earlier reluctantly came into the main area of the shop. He listened to the Toydarian's brief exchange with the boy and was reminded much of what his own life had been like. After quickly telling the boy they needed to do whatever was asked of them, Watto turned his attention back to Vader. "Is there some part I canuh get for you, hmm?" He pressed his hands together nervously.

"I am looking for information," Vader said. He tried to concentrate on his mission—finding the Jedi—but for some reason he couldn't stop looking at that boy...

"Enhh, I am notuh much of an information broker, but if I can help, I will. Whatuh do you need to know, mm?" His facial tic was still working.

"What is that child's name?" Vader heard himself asking.

"I'm not a child," the boy inserted dourly.

"Be quiet, boy," Watto growled. He turned his attention back to Vader. "He is a no oneuh—just a slave I bought from Jabba, eh. Seems his aunt and uncle were killed by Sand People. It happens a lot around these parts, eh? He's a good worker—best mechanic around these parts, heh heh. Bet you wouldn't know ituh to look at him, mm?"

"What is his name?" the Sith Lord asked, a threatening edge to his voice. He was not appreciating the roundabout nature of Watto's speech.

"Hisuh name is Luke Skywalker," the Toydarian said swiftly. Terrified, he started to ramble. "He is the son of a slave I had years ago, I thinkuh. Kind of strange, ehh? Anakin was great with machines just likeuh him." He jerked his head in Luke's direction for emphasis. "He would raceuh pods for me. That's how I lost him—made a bet with a someone who rigged the race, hmm...Podracing is illegal now, of course," he noted quickly, "but I've entered him in a few swoop races, heh. It's all legal here, anduh he's the youngest racer out there, heh heh. Won quite a few races, too, ehh."

Certain that his respirator breathing was quickening to match the pulse of his pounding heart, Vader moved his eyes from Watto to the boy. Luke Skywalker...

"I'muh thinking of retiring soon with the money he's won me, heh. Are you in the market for a slave, eh?"

Vader slowly turned his helmet toward Watto, feeling rage come over him for the treatment of his son. He lifted a hand and with the Force began to lift Watto higher into the air and strangle him.

The Toydarian hadn't seen it coming, and he struggled in vain against the invisible grip, trying to pry the formless fingers from his throat.

"Stop!" the boy commanded.

Vader, startled at the outburst, released Watto, dropping him to the ground.

Watto wasn't sure what exactly to do, so he merely stayed on the ground and rubbed his throat.

"You are a slave," Vader said slowly. "You should be pleased if I kill your master."

Luke shook his head. "Killing is evil."

"Slavery is evil," the Sith Lord returned.

"But at least Watto would never kill anyone," the boy said stubbornly.

"Do you know who I am?" Vader said in a low voice. Before Luke could answer, he swiveled to face Watto.

The Toydarian looked up at him in fear, knowing that his end must be near.

Instead, Vader said quietly, "Chut-chut, Watto," echoing words he had used several years ago near this same junkyard.

Watto looked at the Sith Lord in confusion, and then suddenly comprehension passed over his face and his jaw dropped in surprise. "Ani?" The Toydarian looked from Vader to Luke, repeating the motion one more time before resting his eyes on Vader. And then he repeated words that he too had said years before: "Little Ani?"

"He is coming with me," Vader said authoritatively as he stepped toward Luke.

But the boy backed away, looking a little frightened. "I don't want to go with you."

Though Watto did not want to lose his best slave, he was smart enough to realize that resisting the Empire was futile. "Ehhh, Luke, you had better go with him, I thinkuh."

Luke crossed his arms stubbornly. "Why? He's evil. He was going to kill you."

"You uh got the wrong idea, I thinkuh. He wants to free you from the slave's life, mmm."

"Where will he take me?"

"To the stars, I thinkuh. Maybe you will get to fly, hmm?" Watto, feeling a little more confident of himself, rose into the air, his wings slicing through the air rapidly.

"But why would he want to free me?" the boy asked, his brow furrowed.

"He'suh your father, Luke."

The child's mouth formed an 'o.' He looked like he was dazed.

Watto gestured toward Vader. "I canuh disarm your transmitter, Luke, and you can go with him, mm...You'd like that, ehh?"

Luke looked at the Sith Lord thoughtfully. "You're really my father?"

The Sith Lord inclined his head. "Yes."

The boy frowned. "But my father wasn't a murderer."

"I am not a murderer, Luke," Vader said in a voice that was almost gentle. "I am someone who has helped bring peace to the galaxy."

Meanwhile, Watto had found the remote that could disarm the transmitter in Luke's body. After inputting a few codes and messing with the contraption, the Toydarian exclaimed, "There! You are a free boy nowuh, heh heh." His nervousness was just barely perceptible.

"I'll miss you, Watto," Luke said quietly. As far as masters went, Watto had not been a bad one.

"I'll missuh you, too, boy," the Toydarian said, flying over to pat him on the head.

Luke went and stood by Vader, who gestured for him to walk out of the shop.

The boy stared up at him for a few seconds before saying, "I'll go with you, but I won't become a murderer, too."

Vader watched his son leave and then started to follow him; then he turned back to talk to Watto one last time. "Five million credits will be deposited in an account for you. But if I should ever hear anything about you owning slaves..." He let the threat hang in the air for a second. "Keep all of this quiet, or you will find yourself regretting it."

"My lips are sealeduh," the Toydarian promised. When the Sith Lord was gone, he said quietly, "Thank you, little Ani."