To Dwell In Dreams

Chapter one – Nor Iron Bars A Cage Makes

Disclaimer: I do not own George Lucas.

AN: This story was inspired by a few ideas and a couple of fics. It would not let me alone, and nor would I let it. I believe that I would not be wrong in calling this saccharine angst. This is set six years after RotS, and is an AU set against the OT. Of a sort. ^_^


The first time that it happened, he would think it almost a dream. Force-induced visions of a reality that could not, possibly, be real. His own long-lost conscience attempting to make him feel guilt once more by showing him what he could not have.

Years later, Darth Vader would not remember the particulars of that particular report that he had been working on. It was one of those things that one dealt with, the paperwork necessary in any situation, be it Jedi or Sith. His master had wanted a detailed account of his latest venture, and though he could tell by the chrono that it was not even late afternoon, he was already weary of the thing.

The first thing of consequence that he began to slowly become aware of was a gentle thud, thud, thud, similar in rhythm to the regular breathing of his mask, except that the thuds were staccato, untimed. Faint, almost as if they weren't there at all, and he was just hearing echoes. . . With a stab of surprise he realised where his thoughts had been taking him. Echoes in the Force.

He turned sharply, enough to face the direction from which the disturbance was coming from, and crossed his arms. It seemed as though he had not done a thorough job of purging the Jedi and Force-sensitives from the Galaxy as he had thought.

There, sitting right on the edge of his desk and to one side of him, was a slight figure, a child. Unable to say whether it were simply his own sensitivity to the Force that made him so aware of the child's emotions or whether it was the fact that the indistinct, light blue form was simply projecting his boredom and anxiety, he dismissed the thoughts as unnecessary.

He narrowed his eyes. What was necessary to know was how, exactly, an untrained Force-sensitive child had been able to make it all the way to his, Vader's, private chambers. It did not matter – he would find out who they were, where their body was, and make sure that they would be unable to do it again. Feeling that the child must have had no idea where he had let his mind take him, he went back to his work, putting the datapad with the report on it aside in deference for a number of maps and condensed versions of old reports to tell him of all the places that he had yet to purge of the Jedi scum.

"Watcha doin'?"

The idle, easygoing, carefree and singsong tone of voice shocked him. Surely the boy knew where he was, who it was that he was talking to? Everyone in the Empire knew the look of his mask and suit. Everyone feared him and respected him. Anyone who didn't was. . . dealt with.

Yet apparently, this child must either have been oblivious to what all of his Force senses were shouting at him, or . . . Vader didn't know what else. The child repeated his earlier question with a little more intent, curious and needful of attention.

The Sith Lord's gaze finally settled on that shifting mass of pure emotion given form. Perhaps, he thought to himself, shielding so as not to leak his plans, I can use this child's talkativeness to my advantage.

"I am not doing anything that would interest you," he said, suppressing a wince at how the sounds came out. Already six years, and he still wasn't used to the mask and the effect it had on his voice. "What," he said, answering question for question, "do you think that you are doing on my ship?"

"Eh. . . . my uncle says not to talk to strangers, but we know each other, don't we? I'm here because my uncle got really mad at me and I don't know why and aunty just sent me to bed. I overheard something, and don't tell them this, 'cause I didn't mean to overhear or anything, but they said I was so much like Father. I don't see what's wrong with that. I like my father. I bet he was some kind of hero!"

The last was said as though the boy completely idolised the apparently absent father. Vader snorted. He knew all too well that no one was worthy of being idolised or looked up to like that. No one was purely innocent, and little boys like the one who was talking would grow up to become ruthless. It was simply the way of the world in which he lived.

"So I went to my room and I got in my bed 'cause I didn't know how to feel. Then I thought really, really hard about father, and here I am!"

Vader started. His breathing did not change in the slightest due to the respirator, his heart rate staying level due to his chest plate, but emotionally he was in turmoil. This child, this boy had said. . . that. I have no children. I killed them, and Padmé.

"I'm really surprised, though," the boy was saying, not noticing the changes in mood that he was creating in Vader. "These rooms are really big. I never thought I'd see rooms this big on a spice freighter!"

A. . . what?! This Force-sensitive boy had the audacity to first accuse him of something impossible, then this! What kind of imbecile taught their child that Darth Vader went around in spice freighters?!

The same thuds of Force against solid materials started up again, the boy radiating perfect contentment as though if he had a face, he would have been smiling. Deciding that he had had about enough of this idiocy, he at last asked the pertinent question so that he could get rid of the nuisance.

"You will tell me your name."

. . . well, perhaps more demand than ask, then. Not that it mattered. The child certainly didn't seem to think so.

"You don't even know? I suppose I can forgive you for that." He seemed distracted for a moment, thudding stopping and blue – how do I even know this, with the mask? – aura dimming slightly before he continued. "Auntie's calling for me to wake up, so I gotta go now. But just so you know, my name is Luke. Don't you dare forget it!"

With that the haunting presence dimmed and vanished, leaving a chagrined Vader.

He hadn't been able to even get the boy's last name.


AN: Originally this was going to be a story where Luke's Force Ghost goes and says something-or-other to Vader while he's Vader, with Luke-ghost travelling back in time. That idea was too complicated, so I stuck with this one once the plunnie was born. I do have places I'm going to with it, and it won't just be Vader POV. Luke won't stay six.

Important thing being that since this is only six years after Vader was 'born', I see him as still kinda confused, in a way. Also very young. Vader in ANH is in his late thirties; Vader in this chapter is still in his mid-twenties.

This is my first Star Wars fic. I am used to writing in anime mostly, but I hope I've done it justice. If you have ideas for Vader torture (as in the Luke telling him he thinks his dad's a freighter), don't hesitate to tell. *snickers* The title comes from a line from Harry Potter one – "It does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live." Make what you will of it; it seemed right.