A/N: This is the first three-part installment to the Seek series that I am writing. Because they each only consist of three chapters, I have this one already written. Explanations will be explained in the story as it progresses. This is a story of how the Skywalker family learns to mend after the end off ROTJ.
Chapter one: The invitation.
Chaos. For the first time, the Death Star was rocked by explosions as the Rebel fleet, no longer backed against a wall, zoomed over, unloading a heavy barrage. Imperial troops ran in all directions, confused and desperate to escape. In the midst of this uproar, Luke was trying to carry the enormous deadweight of his father's weakening body toward an Imperial shuttle. Finally, Luke collapsed from the strain. The explosions grew louder as Vader drew him closer. "Luke, help me take this mask off," Vader said in a whisper. Luke looked at him. "But you'll die," "Nothing can stop that now. Just for once... let me look on you with my own eyes," Vader told him.
In the midst of this uproar, Luke was trying to carry the enormous deadweight of his father's weakening body toward an Imperial shuttle. Finally, Luke collapsed from the strain. The explosions grew louder as Vader drew him closer.
"Luke, help me take this mask off," Vader said in a whisper.
Luke looked at him. "But you'll die,"
"Nothing can stop that now. Just for once... let me look on you with my own eyes," Vader told him.
Luke hesitated. He could sense his father's weakened state but what was more, he wanted to die. After all the years of believing his father was dead and he was now given the chance to know him, Luke wasn't going to give up. He wasn't dying yet. "No," he said. "You're going to live." And with that determination in mind, Luke picked up Anakin's body and continued to carry his father to an awaiting shuttle where he would go to the nearest medical facility.
Luke Skywalker pulled the cowl of his cloak up over his head to protect himself from the severe suns rays. Tatooine just didn't seem to have changed at all in the last six years. Luke had decided that he really wouldn't return and had said so plenty of times. But he had returned for a purpose. His purpose just didn't know it yet. For the past six years since the Empire was defeated over Endor, and Luke had saved his father's life, Luke had little communication with his father, and since he had gone into exile, Leia had even less. Now with both Leia and Han deciding that they were going to be getting married, followed by an uncertain invitation, Luke felt it was his duty to inform his father and had traveled to the worlds he thought his father would be only figuring out that he'd be on Tatooine all along.
Luke turned into an old Cantina in Mos Espa and sat down at the bar, deciding he would ask questions there. He signaled to the bar tender and ordered a bantha blaster, which he received quickly. He listened to the conversations going around him. There were gangsters, bounty hunters, wanted criminals, space pirates, smugglers and a few slaves, even a few dancing girls in the bar. A Jedi wouldn't be caught dead here. A Senator would want to be here less. Han would love it. Slumping further against the bar, Luke tried to ignore the goings on. A female twi'lek waltzed up to proposition herself to him. Luke wasn't really interested and sent her away. She didn't seem to be bothered and moved to the next man in the cantina. And then much to Luke's horror a male Zoltan moved over to him. The almost nonexistant clothing marked him as a prostitute as well.
"Good evening," the man said, sitting down next to Luke and signaling for a drink.
"Good evening," Luke said, trying to decide if he wanted to leave before he was propositioned again.
"Nice weather we're having," the man drawled out his words, and Luke felt...interested.
"Yes, hasn't been a sandstorm in weeks," he agreed, something he'd overheard earlier.
"What are you looking for here?"
"What do you mean?" Luke asked.
"It's Tatooine, stranger. Everyone is looking for something when they come here."
"I'm looking for my father. He came here some time back, and I need to talk to him."
"Why would your father come here?" the man asked.
"He grew up here, I think. He wanted to be left alone." Luke answered.
"Perhaps you should honor that wish," the man said, turning on his barstool and moving closer to Luke.
"No, he needs to talk to my sister, she's getting married, he will want to be there, I'm sure," Luke said, getting uncomfortable.
"Well, would you like some company until you are able to find him?" the offer came and Luke actually felt tempted to take it due to the pheromones that the man exuded until he felt out with the Force to the man's mind, finding it broken, only whole enough to put on the front of civilization for long enough to bed someone for his master. Revolted, but enough of a Jedi not to let it show, he said, "Sorry, just here for a drink, then I will go see if he's on our farm."
"I understand," the man said and moved off of his barstool.
As Luke tried to keep himself from watching him walk away he felt the entire Cantina stiffen and turn to the door. Luke knew why, he felt his presence outside and sensed that his father knew he was here. Luke waited until he found a table in the back before Luke ordered two more bantha blasters before carrying them over to where he had sat, offering one to his father.
"What are you doing here?" Anakin demanded.
"I could ask the same of you," Luke replied as he took a seat and sipped his drink.
Anakin frowned but offered no explanation.
Luke looked up to his father's scarred face, even if he didn't show it, he was glad to see him. "Han asked Leia to marry him," he informed him. He watched Anakin's frown deepen.
"What did she say?" Anakin asked.
"She called Han a stuck up scruffy-looking nerf herder once again before she decided that he was serious and said yes," Luke told him. "I nearly laughed out loud when Han asked for my blessing first. He was uncharacteristically nervous. I told him that he should have asked you for good measure. He just said he would when he's dead."
"That can be arranged, did you tell him that?" Anakin asked. Luke just shrugged.
"I like Han well enough," Luke told him. "He's a good guy and he loves Leia."
"That isn't why you're here," Anakin observed. He knew that even if it were that his daughter wouldn't have agreed to give him an invitation to her wedding, she despised him.
Luke shifted in his seat before he pulled out a datapad containing an electronic invitation. "I received an invitation to visit Lake Varykino on a planet called Naboo," he told him and felt the strong feelings coming from his father at the mention of the lake and the planet.
"From who?" Anakin asked, borderlining on demanding.
Luke shrugged again. "I don't know, it doesn't say," he answered. "The invitation isn't just for me," he told him.
"I'm not going," Anakin quickly told him.
Luke looked at him. "It specifically says the Skywalker family," he told him. "That extends to you."
"Your sister would be more comfortable if I didn't join you," Anakin pointed out.
"She'll get over it," Luke told him firmly and dismissively.
"I'll never go back there," Anakin told him.
"You said the same about Tatooine," Luke pointed out. "Yet here you are," he countered.
"I said that to throw you off my scent," Anakin told him. "You're about as persistent as a jawa is to spare parts."
Luke kept himself from laughing at his father's discomfort. "When are you going to forgive me for saving your life?" he asked.
Anakin frowned. "I already have," he told him.
Luke downed the rest of his drink and signaled to the bartender. He leaned forward against the table. "You're going," he told him firmly. "Even if I have to tie you up and kidnap you like bounty," he added.
Anakin's frown deepened. "You can try," he told him.
Luke leaned back in his seat, rested the back of his head against his crossed arms and propped his feet up on the table. "So you're content with hiding?" he asked. "Ben would tell me otherwise," he pointed out.
"Obi-Wan's version of the truth is misleading," Anakin told him.
Luke merely smiled. "Still not over that?" he asked and kept himself from laughing when he heard his father grumble under his breath in Huttese, calling Obi-Wan some rather foul names. He accepted another refill for his drink. "Ben only shows himself on occasion, he'd show himself to you if you'd not try to strangle him with the Force," he pointed out.
"I'd like to do more to him..." Anakin grumbled.
Luke had gotten used to his father's resentment towards his old mentor and friend and his violent tendencies, even if they were less than before. "So why are people here scared of you?" he asked.
It was Anakin's turn to shift uncomfortably in his seat. "I killed a few slavers," he said.
"A few?" Luke asked raising an eyebrow.
"Alright, I kill every one that I see," Anakin corrected himself.
"This is the third planet that you've been to that you've done this," Luke pointed out. "Why are you so obsessed with slavers?" he asked.
Anakin didn't answer him, choosing to instead snatch the datapad from the table in front of his son and read over the formal invitation. The words were eloquent and the handwriting was a display of perfect penmanship. A RSVP was enclosed. One for Leia Organa plus one, accepted, Luke Skywalker plus one, accepted and Anakin Skywalker. Anakin took a stylus from his pocket and added that he will not attend before sending and tossed the datapad at his son who caught it and frowned at what he had written.
"Why are you so opposed to going?" Luke demanded.
"Because I will not return to that place," Anakin told him sternly.
"Why not?" Luke challenged.
"Strange that I was not graced with a plus one," Anakin muttered, evading the question.
Luke frowned. "You're stalling," he pointed out.
"I am not stalling, I just refuse to answer," Anakin corrected him.
"I have plenty of time for you to tell me as I'm staying until I have to leave for Naboo," Luke told him casually, making Anakin frown.
Luke downed the rest of his drink again and slapped some credits down at the table. "Where have you been hiding?" he asked.
"Why don't you ask around?" Anakin demanded.
"You came to me, remember?" Luke told him.
"Only because you'll eventually find me, why make things harder?" Anakin told him.
Luke merely smiled. "So, where can we talk more privately?" he asked.
"Come on," Anakin said downing his bantha blaster before he stood with Luke following him.
She gazed over Lake Varykino, a dozen memories flooding through her mind. She would face him again. She knew that he had returned but she delayed their fateful meeting for six years. In only a matter of two weeks she would see him again. But what if he didn't come? She brushed that notion off. He would come. She knew it. Glancing at the datapad in her hand, she saw one message trying to get through. Opening it, she saw the invitation she had sent was returned. Luke and Leia had checked off that they would come, plus one for Leia and no one else for Luke. She frowned as she found a familiar scribble loosely called handwriting stating that Anakin Skywalker will not attend. She frowned deeply. He had to come. She quickly tried to send a message back to Luke, surely he would get his father to see reason.
Luke looked around the dusty shop, seeing the odd parts here and there. "You bought this place?" he asked.
Luke looked at his father. "Why?" he asked.
Anakin shrugged. "I like fixing things," he said.
"Okay," Luke replied running a gloved finger along the counter and looking at the dusty finger. "Don't you ever clean?" he asked.
"I don't see the point on Tatooine," Anakin told him.
"So you plan to stay here permanently then?" Luke asked.
"It's home," Anakin told him simply.
Luke understood that much. "Tell me the truth, did you kill the previous owner?" he asked.
Anakin grew agitated at that question. "Of course not!" he snapped.
Luke looked him in the eye. "I had to ask," he told him.
Anakin turned from him and continued working on the books. "And obviously think very little of me that I would revert to the ways of a Sith," he muttered.
Luke walked over to him. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"Looking at the books. Some money has been missing, I'm trying to find out where it went," Anakin told him.
Luke looked at the books, which were all written in Huttese. "I can't read that," he told him.
Anakin briefly looked at him. "I can teach you," he told him.
Luke merely shrugged in response. "It's not that important," he said. "So you've been to Naboo?" he questioned.
"Will you tell me about it?" Luke asked.
Luke leveled his father with a look. "Why not?" he demanded. "Why do you hate it?"
"I do not hate Naboo. I hate Tatooine. I loved Naboo," Anakin told him irritated.
"Then why don't you want to go back there?" Luke demanded. "Further more, if you hate Tatooine then why are you here?"
"You ask a lot of questions," Anakin pointed out irritably.
"How else am I to learn things?" Luke replied. "I have to wonder who would send the invitation," he mused when his father went back to the books. "Do you have any idea?" he asked.
"Are you sure?" Luke asked.
Anakin closed his eyes and willed patience into him. "There is only one person I can think of who would invite us there and she's dead," he told him.
Luke frowned. "Who?" he persisted.
"Your mother, that's who," Anakin told him irritably.
Luke was stunned. In the seven years that he had known his father was alive and the six years that he had spoken to his father, he still has yet to even know his mother's name or anything else about her. "I don't even know her name," he said forlornly as he took a seat on a cooling unit in the room.
Anakin looked at his son, his irritation melting away. Luke had always wanted to know where he had come from, that much he had been able to sense. Closing the books, he made a decision. "Come on, let's go get something to eat from the market place," he said straightening up.
Luke stood back as he watched his father bargain in the market. He suppressed an amused chuckle when his father told the stand owner that his was over-charging for the pallies and started to berate the stand owner and persisted in bargaining. Luke caught him attempt a Jedi mind trick more than once with several stand owners but this one seemed to be immune and persisted in arguing with his father who resisted the urge to strangle the man on sight. Luke had heard his father argue his point excessively to the point that he realized that arguing with his father was almost pointless. The stand owner while adamant finally realized this and lowered the price finally, enough for his father to take more pallies than was absolutely necessary.
"You could have walked away," Luke pointed out as his father rejoined him.
"Out of the question," Anakin told him stubbornly, biting into a pallie.
Luke grabbed a pallie from the basket before his father could slap his hand and took a bite. "Was it really that important?" he asked between bites.
Luke shook his head as he finished the pallie and tossed away the seed. "You took an awful lot," he observed. "You must really like them."
Anakin tossed away his own seed. "You seem to like them," he said swatting Luke's hand this time when he reached for another pallie.
Luke gave him a stung look as he took his hand away.
"Get over it," Anakin told him, not falling for it as he led him to a small hovel and unlocked the door before walking in.
"This is rather small," Luke commented.
"I used to live here, you know," Anakin told him, walking towards the kitchen to put the food away and to start cooking.
Luke looked around, finding the place to be a bit sparse. He did however note the number of spare parts and an unfinished droid. He fingered the partially pieced together droid. "What kind of droid is this supposed to be?" he asked, looking into the kitchen.
"Astromech," Anakin answered him.
"Do you have a designation in mind?" Luke asked, clearing off a chair from droid parts before taking a seat.
Anakin walked into the kitchen doorway to look at his son. "I would prefer Artoo-Detoo but you have him," he told him.
Luke looked at him. "You know Artoo?" he asked.
"He saw me through the Clone Wars," Anakin told him.
"He saw me through the Rebellion," Luke informed him. "What about Threepio? They're pretty much inseparable," Luke asked.
"See-Threepio?" Anakin asked. Luke nodded. "I built him for my mother when I was nine," he answered.
Luke laughed. "I'm tempted to tell Leia and Han," he said. "They like to call him Goldenrod."
"He wasn't always gold, that was your mother's doing," Anakin informed him.
"What was she like?" Luke asked interested and grew dismayed when Anakin went back into the kitchen instead of answering him. He could sense his father's emotions on the subject and instead took out his datapad and activated it, finding a message from the same address that the invitation came from. He read it over.
"Remind your father that he doesn't like coarse, rough and irritating sand and remind him that everything on Naboo soft and smooth. "
Whoever this person was obviously knew his father very well and obviously wanted him to come to Naboo. Looking over to the table, Luke watched as his father set it and took note of the rough earthen place settings before he put the food on the table. He set his datapad aside, walked over to the table, and took a seat after clearing a char. His father did the same. He watched as his father rubbed his neck before rolling his head around. "Your neck bothering you?" he asked.
"Yes, I think a sand storm is coming," Anakin answered.
"How did your break it?" Luke asked.
"A Jedi broke it," Anakin told him. "Of course, wearing that heavy helmet didn't help much."
Luke nodded. "It's amazing that you weren't paralyzed," he commented.
"Ever heard of cybernetic implants?" Anakin asked.
Luke frowned as he thought about it. "You've had more work done than I care to imagine," he commented.
"I have Obi-Wan to thank for that," Anakin commented.
"Ben would say that you have yourself to blame," Luke countered and hid his smile by eating a piece of dried gorg when his father cursed Obi-Wan under his breath. "You're going to have to forgive him at some point," he pointed out.
"Perhaps when I'm dead," Anakin grumbled. "Boonta Eve is tomorrow, they're supposed to race the Boonta Eve Classic," he informed him.
Luke instantly perked up at that. "I thought it was outlawed?" he questioned.
"Obviously that law s not observed this far into the Outer Rim," Anakin told him. "Do you want to see the race?" he asked.
"I'd like to race in it," Luke told him.
Anakin smiled. "I already did," He told him taking a bite of some lamta.
"When?" Luke asked.
"I was nine," Anakin told him. "The only human to enter and win."
"I used to race through Begger's Canyon with my T-16 Skyhopper shooting womp rats," Luke told him as he tried the lamta. "Uncle Owen used to complain about it," he added.
"I only met Owen Lars once," Anakin told him.
"How was he related to me?" Luke asked. "I at first thought Aunt Beru was your sister or something until I learned that her maiden name was Whitesun."
"Owen was my step-brother. His father married my mother," Anakin explained. "I was an only child and I had no other family," he put in.
"What about my mother?" Luke asked, persistent about knowing something.
Anakin frowned. "Your mother had one sister. So far as I know, she's still alive, as well as her two daughters. I don't know about her parents. Her only living grandmother died during an inquiry about your mother's death," he answered him.
"What was her name?" Luke asked. When it became apparent that his father wouldn't answer, he persisted. "I should at least know her name," he told him reasonably.
"Padmé, she was a senator. She went by the name Amidala but her birth name was Naberrie," Anakin told him at last.
"Was that really so hard?" Luke asked as he continued to eat.
"Why?" Luke persisted.
Anakin set his utensils down and looked his son in the eye. "When you find someone you are willing to give up everything for then we can talk," he told him.
"Leia doesn't believe that you are capable of love..." Luke informed him.
Anakin picked up his cup of Jawa beer and calmly took a sip. He refused to let it show how much his daughter hatred for him and how she thought so little of him bothered him. "How does she expect you and her to have come into existence?" he asked.
Luke shrugged and continued eating, but that was all his father needed to know.
Anakin set his cup down, coming to a decision. "Fine, I'll go, if only to show your stubborn holier-than-thou sister a thing or two," he told him.
Luke looked up at him, not expecting that reaction.
As Luke tucked in that night, his father having had to clear a room out enough for him to sleep, Luke wondered just how many spare parts littered the hovel. Luke sent a message back to the mysterious person who contacted him that his father had changed his mind because he wanted to show his sister some things but Luke didn't elaborate, he just told this person that his father didn't need any reminders. He did send back a few questions, asking how this person knew his father and if he knew his mother before he settled down for bed. He didn't notice his father watching him as he fell asleep though.
Once he was sure that his son was asleep, Anakin picked up his son's datapad and activated it, finding the address the invitation came from. He sent his own message back using his old screen name from when he was once a Jedi. Who are you? Anakin dearly hoped that this wasn't some trick, that someone wasn't out to hurt him or his children or else that person would pay dearly.
Anakin watched as his son enjoyed the festivities of Boonta Eve and when the pod race was about to start, Luke began to engage him in a conversation about techniques, different types of pods, and the different pilots. Luke's eagerness and excitement put a smile on Anakin's face periodically. He was seeing a side of Luke that was still a kid, the part of his son that had wanted to share this with his father more than once as a kid.
"I wish that I could race," Luke said wistfully.
"Perhaps next year," Anakin told him. "I'll secure you a pod."
Luke looked at him. "Is that an invitation?" he asked.
Anakin shrugged. "It is whatever you want it to be," he told him.
"You've never said anything about me joining you on anything since Bespin," Luke commented.
Anakin looked at him. "I assumed that you wouldn't want to do anything," he told him.
"I just didn't want to join the Empire or abandon my principals," Luke told him.
Anakin frowned, on the verge to tell him exactly why he done the things he had done but decided against it. "It is strange that Jabba isn't around to signal the start of the race," he commented.
"That's because Leia killed him," Luke told him. When his father turned to him, he elaborated. "We rescued Han. Lando went in first as an undercover guard. Leia then went in undercover as a bounty hunter before she unfroze Han and Jabba captured her. I then went in to bargain but Jabba refused. He tried to feed me to both his rancor and the sarlacc before Leia killed him and we left, blowing up his sail barge in the process," he explained.
Anakin frowned, knowing what Luke meant by Leia being captured by Jabba. If his daughter hadn't killed the Hutt, then he would have. "I suppose it is a good thing that he is dead then," he said.
"Why?" Luke asked looking at him.
"Because I'd kill him nice and slowly," Anakin told him.
If there was one thing Luke was sure about it was his father's will to kill anyone who would cause he or Leia any harm. He accepted this while Leia abhorred their father's tendency to kill and to be fair, their father wasn't very secretive about it when he killed anyone. Luke accepted that in this respect his father wouldn't change and only took solace that the people his father killed deserved it in one way or another. "Leia and Han are supposed to pick us up in seven days," Luke informed him and when his father didn't say anything he asked, "You haven't changed your mind about going to Naboo, have you?"
"You should give Han a chance you know," Luke told him.
"How about I freeze him in carbonate again?" Anakin replied.
Luke frowned. "That wouldn't help things between you and Leia," he pointed out.
"I am not the problem in that department," Anakin told him stubbornly.
"Of course you're not," Luke replied placidly. "But you don't do anything about it," he pointed out.
Anakin frowned but didn't say anything on that matter. Instead, he continued to watch the race.
Luke got the hint and dropped the topic for now. He accepted that his father was a very difficult being and imagined that his mother had to have been a great women to have put up with him.
Luke received a message from Leia that she and Han were had just landed in Mos Espa and replied for them to meet him in the junk shop his father had decided to put him to work in. His father had told him very sternly that if he insisted on staying for the time being, he would have to do some work instead of lazing about. Luke hadn't argued with him, he was used to work and hard labor. Before he started working in this place, albeit temporarily, he never thought that there would be a worse task maker than Uncle Owen. He was glad that this stint under his father was only temporary.
"What are you doing in here?" Leia's voice was heard while Luke had finished cleaning the shop up.
"Father insisted that I do some work," Luke told her.
"Here?" Leia asked, looking around skeptically.
Luke shrugged. "Don't ask me, Father was the one who bought the shop," he told her straightening up. "Where's Han?" he asked.
"With the Falcon," Leia asked. "This place looks like..."
"I just finished cleaning it, it looked worse," Luke told her.
"So is he coming?" Leia asked.
Luke nodded. "It took some heavy arguing," he told her.
"I'm sure," Leia commented. "What would he want with this junk?" she asked.
"You should see where he lives," Luke told her. "It's littered everywhere with spare parts. You have to clear spots just to sit," he informed her.
Leia raised a perfectly arched eyebrow in response as their father walked in from the back with a customer, who was trying to haggle.
"That hyperdirve is worth more than a hundred credits!" Anakin snapped.
"It looks dinged up!" the customer argued. "You'd be lucky to get more."
"It runs perfectly!" Anakin snapped. "I fixed it up myself."
"And you could have tampered with it," the customer argued.
Luke stepped in before his father Force Choked the man. "My father is very competent mechanic, if he says it runs smoothly then it does," he told the man.
The man snorted. "He charges too much," he said.
"Get out of my shop!" Anakin ordered before he lost his temper.
"Gladly, I'll just go somewhere else," the man said.
"Good luck!" Anakin shouted after him and then cursed the man in Huttese.
"Is that how you do business?" Leia asked making her presence known.
"I do not over-charge, the price for that hyperdrive is very fair," Anakin grumbled not exactly answering her question.
Luke just shrugged at his sister.
"Are you prepared to leave?" Leia asked.
Anakin looked at her. "Leave?" he asked.
"We're leaving for Naboo today, remember?" Luke reminded him.
"Yes I remember," Anakin told him.
"Is there any more customers?" Luke asked.
"No, I'm closing the shop," Anakin told them, shutting the roof for the yard and locking it before ushering them out and locking the shop with a tight security code.
Because there were a few things that their father wanted to take care of, Luke took the time to show his sister around Mos Espa despite her protests that she didn't plan to spend more than two minutes here. Luke wanted to be alone with his sister so that they could talk. "I think out mother comes from Naboo," he told her thoughtfully.
Leia looked at him. "What makes you think that?" she asked.
"Father's reluctance to return to Naboo coupled with the fact that it's like trying to pull a Wookiee's teeth just to get him to talk about her," Luke answered. "I know her name finally," he told her.
"What?" Leia asked.
"He said she was a senator and that her name was Padmé. That she went by the name Amidala but her given name was Naberrie," Luke answered.
Leia gave him a sharp look. "She was a leading member of the Delegation of 2,000, they were strictly opposed to the emergency powers awarded to Palpatine," she told him.
"I didn't know that," Luke commented and the continued. "I think he really loved her, he seems to be still mourning her death," he told her.
"I find that hard to believe," Leia told him.
"He's not as bad as you're making him out to be, Leia, he's changed a lot," Luke reasoned. He wished that his sister would change her mind about their father.
"Is he still killing people?" Leia asked pointedly.
"Only slavers," Luke answered. "He's got some obsession with that."
"I don't know, Luke, I don't think I'll ever trust him enough to be civil," Leia told him honestly.
"He loves us, I know that," Luke persisted.
"Are you sure that isn't your blind hope misleading you?" Leia asked.
Luke was about to answer her when he spotted his father walking towards them, haversack over his shoulder. "Are you ready?" he asked.
"Lets get this over with," Anakin grumbled before they walked to the hanger that the Falcon was parked.
Hyperspace on the Falcon with only the four of them was filled with stress. Taking off from Tatooine proved to be some trouble due to the hyperdrive failing. Anakin took the opportunity to tell Luke that it was sign from the Force that he should stay put but Luke wouldn't hear it, and instead told him to fix the hyperdrive. After they kicked off, Anakin had retreated to an unknown spot to brood alone much to Leia and Han's relief but Luke just sighed.
Anakin ignored his son's deep sigh and left for the engine room to at least try to be alone. At least that was his hope before he was no longer alone.
"You've been expected on Naboo for a long time, Anakin."
Anakin whirled around angrily at hearing Obi-Wan's voice. "I am only going because I was trapped into a corner," he ground out.
"Luke is very persistent when he wants something, he gets that from both his parents," Obi-Wan commented. Anakin glowered at him so he spoke quickly. "You'll find a treat on Naboo," he told him.
"Stop tormenting me with riddles, old man!" Anakin snapped.
Obi-Wan merely smiled. "Who's the old man now, Anakin?" he replied.
Anakin growled as his arm shot out, grabbing a surprised Obi-Wan by the throat with the Force.
"If you're going to be that way," Obi-Wan said, regaining his usual calm, and faded from sight.
Anakin shook his fist at Obi-Wan's retreating form. "And don't come back!" he shouted. He then began growling in Huttese.
"Who are you yelling at?" a voice interrupted his furious muttering.
Anakin turned to see Leia standing in the doorway. "An annoying little ghost," Anakin grumbled.
Leia gave him a look that clearly said that she though he was crazy. "Well if you're done, Han has the mid-cycle meal ready," she informed him turning and leaving.
"He was back there shouting to air," Leia said, taking a seat next to Han who put an arm around her.
"Probably, Obi-Wan," Luke commented as he began eating. "They haven't really made up yet," he explained.
"Isn't Obi-Wan dead?" Han asked. "Or did we see some trick on the Death Star?"
"Oh, no, he did die, but he's still around, you know, through the Force," Luke said.
"I'm still not convinced that this hooky religion of yours is based in reality," Han said, gesturing with his hands, his arm still around Leia.
Luke was about to calmly reply when he lost the chance.
"I can make you a believer," Anakin said darkly from the doorway.
Luke heaved a deep sigh while Leia frowned and Han turned to face Anakin. "I never needed some mystical force guiding my path or controlling what I do, I'm just fine the way I am thank you very much," he said condescendingly.
Luke recognized the look in his father's eyes when he was about to Force Choke someone and quickly intervened. 'Don't' he sent through the force, he turned to Han. "Just because you can't touch the Force doesn't mean it isn't real," he told him. He turned back to his father. "Did you try to strangle Ben again?" he asked tiredly.
Anakin took a seat next to his son. "I'm tired of his riddles," he grumbled as he took the food Luke offered him.
"Yeah, they're not really all that helpful, but he does try," Luke agreed and Anakin grunted in response.
"I'm hoping to speak to Queen Kylantha about joining the New Republic while we're on Naboo," Leia said speaking up.
Anakin snorted. "Good luck, she was Palpation's puppet," he put in.
"It is still worth a try," Leia insisted.
"Don't bother, wait for the next queen. Naboo won't stand for her rule much longer. I know the system well enough that they are rallying for her removal as we speak with your mother's family in the lead," Anakin told her.
Luke looked at his sister, giving her a look, before looking at his father. "Why is that?" he asked.
"Your mother was Queen and despite Palpation's effort, she is still remembered with love and respect among her people," Anakin told him and then focused on eating.
"Is she buried there?" Luke asked and got no response. "Father?" he asked.
"You can go see for yourself if you want, I won't go," Anakin told him. "You can drag me back to Naboo but I will not go there," he told him stubbornly before standing and leaving.
"Pleasant isn't he?" Han said dryly.
Luke looked at Leia. "See what I mean?" he asked.
Leia nodded, somehow sensing the emotions that her brother had spoken of.
Leia walked into the forward hold finding herself alone with her father. She saw him sitting down with his eyes closed so she turned to leave before she heard his voice.
"You don't have to leave."
Leia turned to him slightly. "I don't want to disturb you," she told him.
"You're not, your presence is soothing, like your mother's was," Anakin told her standing.
Leia turned to him remembering Luke's assessment that he had loved her mother. She didn't want to believe it but it was apparent that he held strong feelings for her still. "What was she like?" she asked and right before her eyes she saw him close down.
Anakin turned from her. "Is there something that you need?" he asked mechanically.
"I just asked you," Leia told him. When he didn't say anything she scoffed. "We're going to her supposed homeworld, we'll only going to learn about her anyway. Luke believes that you loved her but you can't bring yourself to say anything about her but little snippets. You did something to her didn't you?" she accused.
Anakin turned to her then. "Your mother had more self-respect than to ally herself and get involved with a pirate and smuggler who worked with the Hutts! She had more dignity than to tarnish her public image," he told her, instantly going to the defensive by going in for the attack.
Leia narrowed her eyes at him. "Han is an honorable man, which is more than I can say..." she began but stopped.
"More than you can say about me? Is that what you were going to say?" Anakin demanded. "You won't think the same way when another debt comes up and he losses you to the Hutts and trust me, your highness, your brief tenure in Jabba's palace is nothing compared to permanent ownership," he told her before he left the room, not allowing her respond to his comment.
Upon their arrival to Naboo, Han went to pay the man in charge of the docking bay for the hold of his ship but Anakin had beat him to it by swiping his own credit disk into the man's computer. When Han gave him an incredulous look, Anakin calmly explained that they didn't know how long they'd be and he had an endless amount of funds. Luke had to intervene in what would have started a fight and Luke had no doubt that his father might kill Han if he had enough reason to. Luke had reasoned that they follow Anakin to this Lake Varykino since he had been there before and knew his way. Unfortunately, the ride to the Lake and the gondola ride up to the estate was met with silence.
For Anakin, seeing the villa that he and Padmé fell in love at and were married in was met with melancholy instead of the happiness he used to feel whenever he visited. Luke and Leia were seeing it for the first time and were amazed with its beauty. Han, however, felt like the person who invited them was snobbish and decided that he would not fit in. Han's thoughts amused Anakin for he knew the Naberrie family well enough to know they weren't snobbish.
Teckla and Nandy apparently still worked on the estate and Paddy Accu had apparently been replaced by a younger man than he was. A man Anakin quickly learned was Paddy's son when he asked where Paddy was and that Paddy had died years before. After that was cleared up, they were shown to their rooms and learned that supper was served on the side bored in the dining room and that the lady of the estate would return to the house shortly to join them.
"Should we wait?" Luke asked, looking at his father.
"You can," Anakin told him. "I'll eat later, I'm going to lay down for a bit," he said heading off to his assigned room, finding it to be the same one he stayed in when he was assigned to protect Padmé. He didn't lay down, instead he stood by the window and gazed out into the garden. He wondered if this room was what his wife intended to be set up for the nursery.
"Ani, I want to have our baby back home on Naboo. We could go to the lake country where no one would know . . . where we would be safe. I could go early-and fix up the baby's room. I know the perfect spot, right by the gardens,"
But they never got the chance. Had she known that she was carrying twins? Anakin scratched that thought, she would have told him. They talked about their impending parenthood in excess. Anakin remembered the way she had seemed to glow then. He closed his eyes and the image of his wife lovingly stroking her swollen abdomen filtered through his mind. If she had just lived, she would have been the perfect mother. He knew that with all his heart.
It was decided that they would wait for their hostess before they ate. In the mean time, Luke, Leia, and Han explored the property each wondering who had sent the invitation. "She must be a relative of our mother," Luke deducted after some thought. "Father said that she had a sister, perhaps she invited us."
"Perhaps," Leia agreed.
"I don't know about you two, but I feel uncomfortable here," Han commented. "This place is suited for the rich," he pointed out.
"You live in a luxurious apartment on Coruscant," Leia pointed out.
"Yeah, but that wasn't my choice in living conditions," Han reminded her.
"I am not going to live in a hole in the ground," Leia told him pointedly.
"Luke lives in one!" Han argued.
"I'd hardly call it a hole in the ground," Luke put in. "What Father has holed himself up in is a hole in the ground," he added.
"I didn't see that," Han commented.
Luke shrugged. "It's not really that big of a deal. Besides, I don't think we should draw any conclusions about our hostess just based on where she lives," he said.
"I agree," Leia told him.
"Well of course you agree, you grew up in a palace," Han put in. "Look, whoever this person is that called us here is, she wants to impress us by this place, well I'm not impressed," he said.
Luke and Leia each held exasperated expressions. "No one is looking to impress us, flyboy," Leia told him.
"I don't get that vibe either," Luke said as he caught the sight of the lake. "I've actually never seen so much water in one place," he commented as he gazed into the water.
"It is perfect for swimming," Leia said.
Luke and Han shared a look before they shrugged. "Whatever you want to do," Luke said.
Anakin stood at the balustrade of the veranda, leaning his forearms against it as he watched his children and Han down by the lake. The sun was beginning to set and he knew that they would come up from the lake at any moment. He had watched as they frolicked in the water, Han and Luke wrestling in the water while Leia watched and adding her two cents in when she felt it necessary. Now they all sat on the sand and watched the sun. He wondered what they were discussing. And as he watched them, he couldn't stop himself from remembering when he and Padmé would sit down there and watch the sun set over the lake. He liked to imagine that she was looking down on them through the force and he knew that she would be proud of their children but not so much of him, he knew that. If she was able to speak to him, he knew what she would say and it was all things he didn't want to hear. All things that he had already thought himself.
He didn't want to come back here. It was too painful to be here. He had vowed to never return. He didn't want to be here without Padmé. But his children deserved to know about this estate's importance. Of what it meant to both him and their mother. They deserved to know of the love that existed in his marriage, that they were wanted, that they were deeply loved. He came back for them and them alone, not because his presence was requested. Still his mind questioned why he wasn't graced with a plus one or why they were asked here in the first place. Had Padmé told her family? Had they known all these years? He pondered all of his questions as he watched the sun set. Remembering the sun setting thirty-two years before as he professed his undying love for Padmé so long as he lived and the sound of her voice as she had done so as well. That was until his thoughts were interrupted by an all too familiar voice.
Luke sat on the sand of the lake's bank with his knees brought up and his forearms resting on them as he twirled the stem of a flower from the garden through his fingers. He looked down at his mechanical hand to its scorch mark. His father had repeatedly told him to have it fixed and even offered to fix it himself, but Luke had declined. He just simply didn't want to go through what was required to have his hand refitted with synthflesh. Beside him, Leia and Han sat in their own world, talking about this and that. Luke barely paid attention. He knew that from above, his father was watching them. He didn't understand why coming here was so difficult for his father and hoped that he would explain but understood that it would take some time. He understood that his father was trying to heal over the past and he understood that it would take some time. Luke was patient. He could wait for however long it took for his father to heal before they could be a family. He could wait for his sister to heal as well. Because he also needed time to heal and he understood that time would heal. Luke didn't need the Force to understand that his father loved them, and he didn't need it to tell him how difficult things were for his father. He knew that when the time was right, his father would explain everything that had defined their lives. Luke would not press him. He would not overstep his boundaries. Because if he did, then they would all be going backwards instead of forward, he understood that.
Luke was deep in thought when he sensed a new presence on the property. A female presence. She was close. He looked up to see that his father had stiffened completely and that there was an unreadable expression on his face. "She's here," he said aloud so that Leia and Han could hear him.
"Who?" Leia asked.
"I don't know, but I don't think Father expected whoever it is," Luke answered.
"Well I don't care about that, all this means to me is that we can finally eat, I'm starving," Han said standing.
"You sound like Chewie," Leia commented. "Always thinking with your stomach." She allowed him to help her stand from the sand.
Luke slowly stood and turned to face his father to see that he wasn't leaning on the balustrade anymore. In fact, he wasn't in sight.