A/N: I'll admit, I'm quite ashamed at how long it took me to get back to writing this story.
This chapter is tiny, I know, I know… But worry not, I am going to see this thing through to the end, dammit! We're a little more than halfway done I'd say.
One final thing before this starts: thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for reading and for reviewing! I've had some people asking when I'd update because it had been months… well, here you are! You guys kept me feeling guilty and pushed me to continue writing this, and I thank you again for that. So to anyone out there that's still interested, I am not giving up on this. I give you my word.
Chapter Fifteen: To Start Anew
The new arm, Luke quickly discovered, was such a pain.
He tried very hard to act normally after Harv had finished attaching it, and while he walked back to his quarters with his father after the televised appearance of the Emperor, but the very second the door had closed and he was left alone, he was unable to repress the moan that bubbled in the back of his throat. He collapsed on top of his bed, but immediately regretted it as it sent a jolt of pain through his maimed shoulder. Harv had assured him that it was normal for the pain to carry on the next couple of days and that he would probably feel it the most at night time, but it was still quite bothersome.
Luke scrambled out of his clothes, then stood slowly, massaging his scalp with his older prosthetic hand. After a few moments he tentatively lifted his new, unnatural arm up and touched at his face with it. The sensors still felt very numb, much like his replacement right hand had felt at first, but he figured that must be normal too. It felt like he was wearing a very thick, restricting glove. Moaning again at the painful sting, he let his arm drop to his side and walked over to the fresher in order to study his face and wounds in the mirror. This would be the first time he'd look at himself since the morning of his birthday.
He already felt so different. But there was no denying that it felt good.
As he stared in the mirror he was first of all pleased. Not because of the scars, but because of the fact that he didn't care about the scars. In fact, they did not shock him at all. He had already felt them on his face. But he didn't care about that. What he did instead of worrying over the scars, was meet his own gaze. If he was honest with himself he'd nearly expected his eyes to be yellow, or some other shade of red. It certainly wouldn't have been surprising after everything he'd felt in the last couple of hours.
But icy blue eyes stared right back at him, the same as always. He tried to smile, and he noticed how the action stretched the scar that ran across his lip to his chin, but even to him it seemed fake – or at least devoid of any true happiness. Strange. He did not feel unhappy at the moment.
If he really had to assign an adjective to what he was feeling, he supposed he wouldn't exactly use 'happiness', but all the same… He didn't know what he was feeling. All he did know for sure was that this was what he wanted. Whether his change of heart and sudden acceptance of the dark side had anything to do with his injury, or the situation with the Emperor's anger, well, he couldn't be sure. It was certainly likely. But something inside him yearned for this power, and he could no longer deny it.
His only regret was that he had to be separated from his father again. He'd always imagined – or at least, feared – that when he succumbed to the dark side, he'd at least always remain with his father. Luke didn't want to think about what time and distance could do to their already fragile relationship. It wasn't exactly as thought Vader was the most caring father, or that Luke was a perfect son…
Luke felt his eyes sting with tears at these mere thoughts however, and was highly ashamed of himself. If he was to act like a Sith now, he'd have to start by believing that he truly was one. That meant he couldn't let his weakest emotions take over, even in private. For a moment, he wondered if Sith Lords such as his father were even capable of crying, before scoffing at the idea.
But then… Then he remembered something… Hadn't he seen a part of Vader's memory before? Hadn't his father wished he could shed a tear when he had believed Luke to be dead?
Luke glared into his own eyes suddenly, reprimanding himself in silence. These thoughts were leading him to a very dangerous place. He needed to accept that he could no longer turn his father back to his side, because he himself was no longer on the light side. He grumbled quietly, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth, causing his scar to sting uncomfortably.
A second later his decision was made. He gathered up some fresh robes and put them on, all the while silently fuming, even though he had no idea how the conversation he was about to have would play out. As they had walked the distance between the medibay and his quarters, Luke and Vader hadn't spoken at all. Then, for a moment, just as they reached Luke's door, Vader had paused. Luke, certain that his father would want to say goodbye or at least something like that, had patiently waited, with his hand at the ready to open his door.
But then the moment had passed, and Vader had turned to walk away without another word.
Strangely, Luke had not felt infuriated or anything of the sort. He'd simply felt a little hollow, disappointed that his father seemed to have nothing to say to him. But it had apparently only taken a few minutes for it to sink in, and for Luke to realize that he did not want them to separate like this. Before leaving his room, Luke stared out of the large viewport. The sun had fully risen by now, but with all the confusion of the previous hours, he wasn't entirely sure what day it was. Had his birthday truly been yesterday? It already felt like weeks had passed.
His gaze then fell upon Artoo and Threepio, who were still powered down in a corner of the room. Feeling slightly bad for them, he made a mental note to remember to take a little more care of them later. They really were the only beings he could sympathize with at the moment. And they wouldn't judge him.
The corridors of the castle were cold, silent and lifeless. Luke had never seen anyone walking the halls except for a few stormtroopers, so this did not bother him. In fact it was perfect. He didn't want any distractions. He suspected his father must be in his own personal chambers, so he quickly found those, guided by the Force. His father's presence was definitely stronger here.
There seemed to be nothing outside the door to call the castle's main resident, so Luke simply pressed the button for the door to slide open and let him in.
It was so dark in the room that anybody else would have been sure that nobody was inside. But Luke's eyes were instantly drawn to the closed capsule of the meditation pod to the side of the room, and he knew that was where Vader must be.
With a sharp hermetic hiss, the jaws of the pod separated to reveal the Sith Lord, bathing the room in very white light. Before Luke could say anything, the familiar baritone voice spoke; "What is the matter?"
Luke hesitated, then squared his shoulders. "You'll be leaving first thing tomorrow morning. Weren't you going to say goodbye to me?"
Vader took the time to remove himself from his hyperbaric chamber before answering.
"I thought it best not to draw things out," he said. "We shall be reunited soon enough and –"
"You mean that you didn't want to talk about what happened today? What happened just now when we were with the Emperor?" Luke interrupted, growling. Something unspoken leaped out through the Force, a feral sentiment of betrayal. "You always say we'll discuss these things later, but we never do! You never want to talk about emotions, or things you consider 'un-sithly'!"
After a moment of silence, Vader let loose a sound that sounded like a gritty sigh. "Very well, what is troubling you? What do you so obviously need to discuss before I leave?"
Anger bubbled inside Luke's throat without him really knowing why. But then he lashed out. "No! You tell me! For kriff's sake, I just want you to react to something for once! You always act like you're angry at me, I can always feel your anger, but you don't do anything about it. How can you stand it? It's only been hours and already I… I wanna destroy something! I feel like I want to k – kill someone." This last part was mumbled, and he averted his gaze for a few moments before looking back to the impassive black mask towering in front of him.
Softly, his father replied. "Then you will be a very powerful Sith, Luke. Certainly more powerful then I."
Luke reflected that this didn't really answer any of his questions, but he let it slide. It was pretty clear Vader never would answer anyway. Instead, as he stared at his father, he felt his anger cool down into a tight ball that was much easier to contain. The dark side was snapping and hissing at the walls closing in on it, but Luke pulled on the leash. No longer would the darkness be his master; he was in control now. He felt his lips twist into a smirk, and the scars littering his face pulled at his skin with an uncomfortable twinge.
"I see…" He muttered. "Then your work is done, isn't it? I'm a Sith now, wasn't that what you wanted?" He felt his smile widen of its own accord, revealing his teeth. His tone of voice however, was humourless. "Well congratulations Master."
He knew the impact his words would have – he hardly ever called Vader 'Master' in private.
When the hulking Sith did not respond, Luke continued. "Don't let me keep you from your business then. I know how important the Empire is to you." He began to move towards the door. "But maybe when you return we can have a proper duel? If you're up to it, of course."
Vader still said nothing, so Luke stepped outside of the room. "In the meantime, have a nice trip." He said bitterly, before hitting the button to close the door after him. As he stalked down the corridor back to his own room he let his anger free, causing warm tears to well up in his eyes.
He wasn't sure if he'd truly meant all of that, but he still wouldn't want to take any of it back. His father deserved it for being such a bastard to him. Why in all hells had Luke ever given in to all of this? He couldn't really remember. Anakin Skywalker's presence felt fainter than ever now, unattainable.
As soon as he reached his room he undressed and slumped onto the bed, staying mindful of his new arm. His last though before he let sleep take his exhausted mind far into the depths of dreams and nightmares was that he felt like such a fool for ever believing he could save a Sith.
Now that he was one, he knew how futile an endeavour it truly was.
Twenty-four hours later, Darth Vader was on board his flagship, staring out into space. They had blasted away into hyperspace not too long ago, and for the first time since he'd reunited with Luke, his son was far away from him. He already felt so empty. Whether it was Leia's words that had such an influence on him he did not know, but somehow the thought wasn't so horrible to him. Somehow, the thought of his daughter soothed the memory of his last meeting with Luke.
Perhaps for the first time in his new life, he felt like a horrible father.
He didn't blame Luke for resenting him, in any case. Indeed, he had wished for his son to become a Sith, and for him to taste the same power as he had. But now that it had happened, he couldn't find it in himself to feel accomplished about it. All he could think of was… what Padmé would say if she could see what he had done to their offspring. He could still see her horrified face on Mustafar as she came to face with what he'd become, understood what he had inflicted upon the galaxy. It was easy to imagine what her reaction would be if she could see their son now.
The name left a bitter taste on Vader's tongue.
'You did this' a voice in his head hissed at him. 'It was your guidance that gave birth to this monster.'
Vader gulped and closed his eyes. He felt uncomfortable in his own psyche as well as his own body today, a bad sign. His self-loathing, buried up underneath layers of other emotions for the past decades, was resurfacing with a passion. He had to do something about this. He could not let Palpatine turn his own offspring on him now, not after everything that had transpired between them.
He still wanted to believe that Luke would remain loyal to him, but if left with the Emperor for too long, who knows what could happen to the boy? Would he still want to help him defeat the Emperor? And what would Palpatine do to his son if they were discovered?
Vader dared not think of it. Slowly, he turned and located Admiral Piett. "Inform me once we have arrived, Admiral." He barked at the man as he stalked down the walkway and left the bridge. He was fuming already, rendered mad by all these thoughts of loyalties and betrayal.
But then, the answer came to him in a clear moment of inspiration; Leia.
He could contact his daughter. The Emperor would be far away, and much too preoccupied by training Luke to check on Vader very often. Leia would surely want to help. If there was a chance of saving Luke, then Vader could face Leia again, despite the awkwardness there. And he knew he must.
If he did this, maybe he would forgive himself.
(Maybe Padmé would forgive him too.)
Vader entered his quarters and sat in his hyperbaric chamber, already feeling lighter. The Emperor had made a grave mistake, sending him to supervise the final stages of the Second Death Star. Here, in deep space, he would be free to scheme, unhindered by Palpatine's watchful gaze.
Once he landed on the Death Star II, he'd make his move.