This was supposed to be a response to the "Celebration" challenge at Luke_Vader, involving celebration, Luke, his father, and the phrase "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

It sort of turned out that way.

Smiles! Lou

The Rodian holding the gift box smiled happily at Luke. "A delivery, sir."

Supporting himself against the bulkhead of his room of the ship, the Rebel looked at her rather blearily. On Dagobah, he'd gotten used to very little sleep. So it definitely said something that the knock on the door had succeeded in waking him up too early. "Huh?"

The Rodian plucked a small message card from the top of the box. "'Wishing you the best on your birthday.'" She looked up at him. "Standard message, don't know who it's from, it cleared security. Happy birthday."

Luke's mind was beginning to clear. Birthday. His birthday. Right. "Okay," he said.

The messenger invited herself in, sitting down on his single chair and beginning to open the box.

Luke wondered who the present could be from. Leia, maybe? No, it had been through security, that meant someone outside the fleet…

A sudden horrible possibility filled his mind and he snatched the half opened box from its alarmed deliverer.


"I'll open it," said Luke. "Um, have a nice... morning? Night?"

"Give that back!" said the Rodian. "It's my job to open all deliveries!"

Luke stared at her. He'd been on delivery duty before, and he was fairly sure that that was not part of the job description.

"No," he said.

Delivery Duty scowled. "At least let me read you your card."

"You already read me the card," said Luke, spotting the small piece of flimsiplast wishing him the best from the floor.

"The other card," said the deliverer. Luke assumed she was merely grasping at straws until she held up a miniature datapad. "Stang," she muttered. "What kind of card needs a password?"

Luke doubted that boded well. "Do you, um, want a tip?"

The Rodian looked offended. "I do this for the glory of the Rebellion, thank you!" Apparently suitably offended, she flounced out. That hadn't been Luke's intended result, but it worked well enough.

Though he had a slight suspicion she was listening from behind the door.

A quick glance at the datapad showed that yes, it did apparently need some sort of password. Luke decided he wasn't going to bother with that until he'd opened the gift.

Removing the last few bits of packing material revealed a small rectangular box of some sort of metal. Luke poked it suspiciously, and with a startling click it sprung open.

Luke had been wondering where he would find a lightsaber crystal ever since he'd discovered he was going to need one. There were occasions when the apparently forever-lost artifacts haunted his dreams.

The box contained a red one.

Luke decided to turn his attention to the card.


Luke's last birthday had been almost present-free, a common state of affairs in the supply-parched Alliance. He'd gotten an extra dessert bar, and something from Han and Chewie, and he and Leia had thrown what could've probably passed for a party somewhere.

It occurred to him that he didn't have a gift for her this year. A small part of his mind considered turning the crystal into a necklace, but there were so many problems with that idea that it disappeared very quickly.

Sighing, the Rebel gave another look to the datapad card in his hand. The screen was blank but for a few words ordering him to input a password.

Luke raised his eyebrows. Now he wasn't going to get any sleep at all. What he'd now termed the Present of Evil just had to come with a cryptic message, didn't it?

Perhaps he was being paranoid. Perhaps someone had merely assumed he liked jewelry, and he hadn't been basically sent the present equivalent of "Join me."

Even if it was the lightsaber crystal it looked like, it didn't necessarily have to be from Vader. Someone in the Alliance, or maybe Lando, could've found a lightsaber crystal, knew Luke needed one, and not really thought about the fact that red was not precisely the optimal color.

But he was never going to find out the truth unless he figured out the password.

In what he would later view as a clear sign that his brain was addled from sleep deprivation, Luke began keying in random phrases, only to be greeted with an error message each time.

By the time he was reduced to rearranging the letters in the word "empire," Luke began to realize that perhaps this was not the brightest of plans. Maybe random banging of the keypad would work better.

Suffice to say, it did not. Luke yawned. The datapad blurred slightly in his vision.

In a final bit of frustration, he keyed in his Alliance net password.


The screen went blank.

This was bad news. He had almost certainly just sent his father an Alliance password, something he did not trust had confirmed a recipient, and the red crystal was clearly taunting him from it's box.

Yoda, so dedicated in his task of placing Luke above human needs, would've been highly disappointed in his pupil's next move. Instead of confronting his problems, the exhausted Luke fell asleep.



Luke, after far too little sleep, jumped awake at the unexpected noise.

Beep. Clatter.

It was coming from the datapad, which, before Luke's eyes, was reshaping itself from some outside command. Before his still bleary vision, it twisted into something resembling a holocom.

Thinking quickly, the Jedi hit it with a pillow.

The resulting beep was both muffled and annoyed. As Luke frantically ran through his mind the various ways to destroy what was almost certainly a direct line to the Empire, said direct line scuttled out from under the ragtag pillow.

A calm, polite, and unexpected female voice emanated from it. "You have received a message. Do you wish to open communications?"

"No," said Luke very quickly.

"Communications have been opened."

As a small hologram began to form on top of the former datapad, Luke once again slammed it with his pillow.

The next voice was high-pitched, female, and quite clearly not his father. "Welcome to the Imperial Communications Network. Please h-"

Luke had begun curling the pillow away from the holocom in an attempt at locating a possible "off" switch, and he unfortunately did this at exactly the wrong time.



Luke glared at the hologram of Darth Vader with as much defiant hostility as he could muster having just fallen off his cot and to the floor in shock.


There was no response from his father. Luke had hope for a few seconds that it was merely a recording that could be turned off and then ceremonially spaced, but no.

"You have received your gift?"

Luke recovered some small amount of his composure. "I don't want- any gifts- from you," he managed to say, as angrily as possible, glancing around furiously and hoping he'd been wrong about the delivery girl eavesdropping from the hallway.

"It will be necessary in construction of your new lightsaber," continued his father as if uninterrupted.

"I want a green one," said Luke. Even before he was done saying it, he realized how patently ridiculous he sounded. But I want the silver ship, Aunt Beru! "I'm not- you have a red one." Brilliant, Luke, brilliant. Your retorts are truly worthy of a Jedi. Just scathing.

It was true, though. If he couldn't choose who his father was, at least he could choose to be as different as possible from him.

And he still remembered the flash of red as his father's saber had bit into his arm. That wasn't an image that was ever going to leave him.

"This is your destiny, Luke." There was a broiling anger behind the words.

"You keep using that word," said Luke, remembering Bespin. "I don't think it means what you think it means."

"That is irrelevant," said Vader. "I was correct in assuming it was your birthday?"

Luke's eyes widened slightly. "Yes," he said grudgingly. His records didn't actually list a date of birth, or parents, or much at all, he'd discovered when checking them a few weeks ago.

For a second, an urge filled him to ask how his father knew. Had he been there? Was that when his mother had died?

Footsteps sounded in the corridor, and Luke jumped nearly a foot. He doubted there was a specific rule in the Alliance code which stated "it is forbidden to receive presents from the living embodiments of evil in the galaxy," but he highly doubted it was encouraged.

"Get out of here!" he hissed furiously, still with the deep sense that he sounded ridiculous.

Unbelievably, his father nodded at him. "I will see you soon," he said ominously. "Happy birthday."

The hologram vanished. Luke stared for several seconds before completely comprehending that yes, his worst enemy had actually just vanished, and yes, he had wished him a happy birthday.

The footsteps vanished down the hall. Luke decided that he needed more sleep.