A/N: Supercool Leia & Vader stuff coming up just for you, Silverhawk! ;)
dreamt of her.
Not as she had been toward the end: her eyes haunted and full of fear.
(Obi-wan. Obi-wan had made her fear him.)
Nor even as she had been when she had first fallen in love with him: smiling and laughing, confused and unsure, but desperate to be with him.
Instead he had dreamt of her as he had first known her: the beautiful young girl. The angel.
He dreamt of how he had felt seeing her for the first time. Knowing, somehow, without knowing—the same way he always knew, instinctively, which wires to connect, which part to replace, in order to fix one of Watto's pieces of junk—knowing that all he had to do was to reach out to her, and she would give him the love, the compassion, the warmth and the security that he craved.
She would make him feel loved, complete, and he wouldn't need anything else.
And in his dream, he had forgotten having her—having her love—and still needing more. Needing more power, more control.
He had forgotten losing her.
He had forgotten it all. In his dream she had been soft and clean and bright, while he had been coarse and dark and dirty. But she had still smiled at him and told him that it was nice to meet him. And he had wanted so badly to bring her home to his mother. Mother, who loved him. Mother, who always smiled.
He had wanted it so badly that he wondered whether he had somehow summoned that sandstorm into being. Part of him truly believed that he could do it.
He could do anything.
He could even have the angel, if he was good enough.
And then the dream had ended.
He had awoken to her screams.
At least, he had been sure that it was her, if only for the briefest of seconds—a flicker in time that was over before it began.
She was gone.
The screams were from the girl. And he could only hear them in his mind.
"She was given a mission that she failed to complete," his master had explained, without being asked.
Vader had not responded, only nodded his head. He did not bother worrying about his own punishment; his master had long ago perfected the art of torturing him without physical pain. Awaking to the sounds of her screams, to the feel of her pain, had been punishment alone.
But worse perhaps, was the punishment he was being given now.
He had not hesitated to comply. He had bowed and walked away, with his usual swift pace and long stride. And walking down the corridors now, he did not slow, did not push off the inevitable. When he reached the cell door, he did not brace himself before disengaging the locking mechanism.
And when he saw the sight that greeted him, he did not allow his body to react. He didn't rip the braces that held her up from the wall, he didn't rush headlong back to the throne room to tear his master limb from limb.
His body did not react.
"Lady Darkstar," he said, and his voice was as deep and resonant as ever.
She lifted her head slowly, but didn't stop when she could see him. She lifted her head until her chin was high and her eyes gazed directly at his.
"You seem well," she commented abruptly, and he was surprised that she did not sound hoarse. He wondered whether she had screamed aloud at all.
"The master informs me that I am in your debt," he responded, knowing that it was a lie. He was in no one's debt, not ever.
She managed to shrug and her eyes flickered away for a moment. "You have done as much and more for me on numerous occasions, my Lord."
"Yes," he agreed quickly. "The master is always concerned for your welfare."
One corner of her mouth lifted and for a moment he thought she might chuckle. "The master is concerned about the welfare of all of his subjects, of course," she said instead.
Vader did not respond right away. Something had changed about her, that much was clear. He had known that before he walked into the cell.
"She is hiding something from me, Lord Vader. Perhaps you might be able to persuade her to share her knowledge…"
It was why he had been sent to her in the first place. Why his master thought that he would be successful when more conventional methods had failed, escaped him. Though, the fact that his master could not simply pluck the information from her mind was an interesting revelation, to say the least.
"You were to have brought the master two droids," he said finally, hoping that discussion of her mission might trigger a reaction that would lead him to the truth.
She said nothing, did not even nod. Yes, he decided, something was certainly different about her.
"You returned with only a single droid."
This time the only reaction was a movement of her eyes to a back corner of the cell. He turned to follow her gaze. There, sitting slumped against the wall, was a golden protocol droid, its eyes dark. He let his eyes rest on it for a moment, wondering once again the purpose of the mission if the droid was only going to sit in the cell with the girl. Surely there was some information that the master hoped to gain from it.
When he turned back to the girl he found her watching him again, steadily. There was something in her eyes when she looked at him, something that had not been there before. Almost a challenge.
"What happened to the astromech droid that you were ordered to bring back?"
He didn't think that she would answer, not when she was still looking at him like that. But, even though her expression never wavered, she did answer.
"The Rebels were keeping too close an eye on it. There was no way that I would have been able to get it without getting myself captured."
"You could have waited until a more opportune…"
"And you would have died, my Lord."
The fact that she tempered her comment with the honorific, did nothing to lessen the impact of her interruption. In the many years that he had known her, she had never, to his memory, ever interrupted him.
And he knew, suddenly, what had changed.
She had not feared him for some time, now. Not the way others feared him, at least. It was a failing on his part, he knew, a weakness, and it was one reason why he did not like being around her when his master was anywhere nearby. He knew that the old man would feed on his weakness. But she had always respected him. A respect that bordered on reverence.
It was still there, he could sense it—a spark of admiration even as she cut him off. But she was no longer in awe of him
"The pilot who destroyed the battle station was strong in the force," he said brusquely, not needing to feign displeasure this time, as he often did with her. The bitterness flowed sharply through him. He did nothing to stem it.
She looked quickly away and he sensed a strong emotion rising to the surface within her, but she blocked it before he could identify it.
"Yes," she whispered, still not meeting his gaze.
"Who was he?"
"A boy. Just a boy," she said softly, her eyes trained on the droid across from her.
"His name," he pressed.
And suddenly her eyes were on him again, the challenge burning in them strongly. And something else that he could not interpret, something cold.
"His name is Luke Skywalker."
He stared at her without seeing her, heard the mechanical sound of his own breathing, its rhythm steady, but was sure that every muscle, every organ in his body had gone still.
A force strong boy named Luke Skywalker.
The girl snapped back into focus before him. Her eyes were hard, but there was know something else in them. Something that Vader could interpret easily.
"What do you know of Skywalker?" he growled out, his voice echoing of the metal walls in the tiny cell.
"He is Anakin Skywalker's son. Surely the master already told you."
She was teasing him, mocking him. She knew very well that the old man had said nothing. She had hoped that she could tell him, she had been waiting from the moment he had stepped in to do so. She had wanted to see his reaction.
The anger burned and he could not channel it, he did not bother to try.
He would kill her.
It ripped out of him so suddenly that he nearly did kill her then. The force grip on her neck was almost strong enough to break it. He looked into her eyes. He wanted—needed—to see the fear there. He needed to see that she acknowledged his power, his control.
He could do anything to her.
And there was fear, fear of death, fear of pain, but no fear of him.
She said nothing, could say nothing, as he kept his grip tight. Her eyes watered and blinked slowly. The face of a boy, tanned with sun-bleached hair, appeared in his mind as he felt her slipping away. He thought she might die with that image, but the moment before it would have been too late for him to stop, the image faded and in its place he felt caring and concern. He looked into her eyes again and saw her looking right back at him.
He released his grip.
Her eyes rolled back and closed and she sagged against the braces, but she was still alive.
He stared at her in disbelief.
"You are a fool, child," he told her and even softened, he could hear his voice echoing back at him.
She took a wheezing breath in and let it out shakily. She looked up at him with her eyes, but couldn't seem to raise her head. She was ashamed, she couldn't hide the emotion—she may not have tried.
"You thought that he already knew," he continued.
She looked at him in puzzlement.
"The master," he allowed the word to sink in. "He knew nothing of the boy. If you had not been so eager to tell me, you might have kept him a secret."
Something flashed in her eyes and a sob escaped her throat. Huge tears spilled over and coursed down her cheeks as the sob turned into a yell and then a scream. When her breath ran out, she screamed silently, but the tears continued, soaking her shirt.
It was the only time he had ever seen her cry. He did nothing to stop her or comfort her, but he allowed his hatred for his master to climb as high as it ever had. Strength. He would destroy the old man. He would find his son and he would train him. Together they would destroy the old man.
As for the girl, he would keep her alive, as long as she did not prove too great a distraction for his son. She clearly cared for the boy and somehow, on some level, she even cared for him, she cared for Darth Vader. He would not train her, there was no reason for her to know her true potential, but her feelings—though they weakened her—would make her loyal to them in a way that she had never been loyal to his master.
Soon, very soon, he decided, as her tears finally ceased. Soon he would unleash his power and his strength on his master. Soon he would be the master and his son—his son—would rule at his side.
The girl panted softly, regaining her breath. He unlatched her braces with a wave of his hand and she nearly crumpled to the floor. She quickly righted herself and stood on unsteady feet before him.
"Come," he said. "I will escort you to the master."
She bowed her head and he could see that the challenge was gone from her eyes. He smiled secretly behind his mask.
It would all be over very soon.
A/N: Okay, that really is the end of Dark Star. However, I do plan on writing a sequel. (I even finally thought of a title today!) I was planning on waiting till I had a bunch of it written before I started posting it, so that it would go more quickly once I started. But if you guys want it sooner, I'll post it as I go along (just remember it'll go more slowly that way!). Either way, let me know what you prefer.
Gabrileia: Yeah, you gotta love H/L moments, even with Leia Darkstar!
Renee & Lanna: Have no fear – the sequel definitely focuses on Mara Phoenix. Me is major L/M fan. J