Title: Answers Timeline: Between ESB and ROTJ. Summary: Vader broods on Obi-Wan and recent revelations. Disclaimer: All characters owned by George Lucas.



Answers

I believed I would stop talking to you in my mind when I killed you. Is that what you meant when you said you would become more powerful than I could ever imagine? This renewed need to confront you, to argue with you? I thought your death would rid me of this childish urge for good.

It is partly because of the boy, I suppose. If I had no other reason for that mixture of hate and gratitude you have always been able to evoke from me, the revelations these last years had in store would provide one. Hiding my son was wise of you, undoubtedly. The Emperor needed an adult apprentice more than he needed a force-sensitive baby, and even then, the prophecy was troubling him. In all likelihood, he would have killed the child. At the same time, if I could bring you back from the dead to slay you again for taking my son and denying me even the knowledge of him, I would.

I returned to Tatooine because of this, you know. Something I had sworn to myself I would never do again, which you undoubtedly were aware of. You could always read me like a book when I didn't want you to, and almost never when I did. I returned to Tatooine once I had discovered his identity, to find out what else you had managed to hide there. Not that I still believed I could find HER. But whoever else had been in contact with you and the boy might have remembered something.

This had a practical purpose, of course. If she had been with him in his early years, he would have had some memories, and it would be easier to reach him. But what I found on Tatooine, ironically enough, was what I had left there. Graves and ruins. You would undoubtedly point out to me that we create our own punishment. After all, it must have been my troops who killed Owen Lars and his wife, making it impossible for me to question them about her, about the boy, or about you.

You always had an ability to state the obvious repeatedly. Though you could counter you needed to, as I was prone to forget my lessons.

It might interest you to hear the Emperor made a similar observation the other day. It was my first meeting with him after watching my son escape from Bespin, and by then he had realised I had known and searched for Luke for almost two years, before he finally sensed that "we had a new enemy". Whom I had promised to deliver or kill, neither of which I had done.

"You keep secrets", he said. "It amazes me that after all these years, you are still prone to forget your lessons. Even the oldest one. There are no secrets from me. There is no part of you which does not belong to me. You will have to relearn your lesson, my friend."

He then proceeded to punish me, as only somebody with his mastery over the force could. Is he aware that I dream of killing him? Of course he is. This is the only way for a Sith to become a Master, and it does not anger him in the slightest; he is quite certain I will never accomplish the task. He also regards my hatred as nourishment, as he did the respect and veneration I used to feel for him when I was still breathing with my own lungs.

"You were such a naïve boy", he said to me more than once, after I had recreated myself with his help, and yours. "So easily manipulated. Most amusing. It still baffles me that Obi-Wan never accomplished that, considering the power he had over you, but then Obi-Wan was never the most insightful of beings, was he?"

He brought you up quite often in the early years, to feel my hatred and to fuel it while he sent me to kill what had remained of the Jedi Order. Except you, of course. I always knew you were still alive, but I did not look for you, not then. I wanted you to see me destroy everything you had ever cared for first.

"Such passion", he said, when he caught that thought. "And the Jedi did never quite knew what do with it, did they, my very young apprentice? Only our dear Padmé."

That was when I first tried to kill him as a Sith. Of course he was prepared for it. He is not immortal, much as he would like to believe he is, but I learned again that day that nobody will ever kill him when he is prepared. He also taught me how to curb my temper, more efficiently than you ever did. It was the only way to stop him from mentioning her. By not reacting to it anymore.

At any rate, he was wrong about you. In the end, it turned out you were quite adept at manipulation if you wanted to be. Choosing Tatooine. Telling the boy I had killed his father, no, "betrayed and murdered" was how you put it, I believe, if he was quoting you directly. Only when he said that did I realize that you chose to die at the moment when he could see me killing you. You had to make sure he hated me, didn't you?

I wonder whether you meant it as punishment. But no, such pettiness was beneath you. It would imply resentment and thirst for revenge, and the perfect Jedi that you were would never succumb to these emotions. Undoubtedly you did it for the cause. To form him into the weapon which could defeat me and my Master. Anything for the cause.

You would have been the greatest of all the Sith if you had ever turned. Even Palpatine would not have stood against you.

I dreamt of you recently. This is not an unusual event in itself, but what my mind chose to bring up, strangely, was neither the time I killed you, nor the time you killed me, or helped me to be reborn, as the Emperor would put it. I am accustomed to these two memories; they do not surprise me anymore when they visit me in my sleep. But when I dreamt of you the last time, you were not the brittle, old stranger I saw on the Death Star, nor the punishing Master surrounded by fire. No, you were as I had first met you, a young padawan.

The memory which started the dream was quite specific. We were watching Qui- Gon's cremation, and you turned to me to tell me you would train me as a Jedi. It was the first time you had spoken to me directly, I do recall that. I was more surprised than anything else, because I clearly remembered you telling Qui-Gon I was dangerous and must not be trained.

Afterwards, you took me to the room given to you at the Naboo palace. Until then, I had stayed with the Gungans, but now, you told me, it was time to prepare for our new life together, as master and padawan.

"But don't you hate me?" I asked, not having learned yet how utterly inappropriate the question was. You looked disturbed and said a Jedi did not feel hate, and why would I even think such a thing?

I did not want to bring up your argument with Qui-Gon. Maybe I was a naïve child, as the Emperor observed, but I did know you were grieving for him, and would not want to be reminded of any disagreement. But neither did I want to lie to you, not then. So I settled for doing what I did when I wanted Watto to stop talking to me.

"I am sorry", I replied, and added, for the first time, "Master."

In my memory, this scene ends with you telling me again, "I don't hate you, Anakin", and proceeding to cut my hair, so I would look like a Jedi padawan. It was the first time anyone but my mother had done so, and I was startled how natural it felt. You had never touched me before, save that one handshake, and yet here you were, taking my hair into your hands, cutting as if you had done it all your life. Your hand felt odd on my neck, I remember that, strong and yet much smoother than my mother's, for all that she was a woman and you a man. But then, you never had the calluses of a slave.

In my recent dream, however, the scene ended quite differently. You stared at me and said: "No, you are not. You have become Death, the destroyer of worlds. And yet you behave as if there was something I owed you. I gave you my own death. What more do you want?"

Suddenly, we were sitting in one of the Coruscant night clubs. You were several years older, as was I, and with us, rather incongruously having a drink, was Palpatine, not as the Emperor who commands me, but as the Chancellor whose attention used to make me feel I really could become the greatest of all the Jedi. This never happened, of course; apart from everything else, I don't think the two of you were ever alone with me together in all the years of my apprenticeship. But in my dream, you were both looking at me, and Palpatine said:

"He is right, you know. I told you this time and again. This is the reason why you have never been able to be the Master instead of the learner. You can't let go of your ridiculous attachments. Look at you. Still arguing with a dead man, still hankering after a dead woman, and now chasing after the notion of fatherhood."

"You haven't learned anything", you agreed, and shook your head. "And what would you have done, Anakin, if you had known about the boy?"

"Anakin is dead", I replied.

You stared at me again. "Then there is nothing left to be said."

Palpatine chuckled, as you disappeared, suddenly and completely, the way you did when my saber hit you. And I woke up.

I wonder, now. You once told me that dreams fade, in time, and yet did not sound as if you believed it yourself. There is always the possibility this dream was the Emperor's newest way to discipline me, to punish me for not killing or capturing my son. But I also remember what you said to me, just before you died. I remember the Jedi Code, which you made me recite on more than one occasion. I remember how it ends.

There is no death, there is only the Force.

Once I thought I heard Qui-Gon's voice, years after he died. In fact, I was quite sure I did, but the other voices who spoke to me that night were infinitely more powerful, drowning him in their song of blood and revenge. Your voice, though. I argue with you so often in my mind that I simply cannot be sure. If it was not Palpatine, could it have been you? You, trying to talk to me?

If it was you, then let me reply again. Here, where nobody can hear us. I am still not sure what I would have done if I had known about the child. But I do know what I wanted from you. It humiliates me to think of it, because you were both right, my Masters. It is such a childish thing, and I should have learned to let go a long time ago.

But I wanted you to love me.