Title: Back in the light
Disclaimer: Star Wars is not mine
Beta: Love to StarWarrior72
Warnings: AU, sad and sap
Summary: After he killed the Emperor it´s Anakin´s time to become one with the force, but he isn't alone. An AU story in which not only Luke is with his father when he dies.
Back in the light
Luke didn´t knew how long he sat there, but he didn't really care either. His ears were deaf to the explosions and alarms filling the air around him.
The only thing he could hear was the breathing of his father, who lay limp in his arms, fighting to get at least some air in his damaged lungs through the broken respirator, that had kept him alive for Luke's entire life.
Wonderment filled Luke as he looked down on the black mask that rested in the crook of his arm peacefully. Not long ago the sight of this black mask had caused fear, hate and other feelings belonging to the dark side within his heart, but not anymore.
Now he felt love, sorrow and a fear for loss, a dangerous feeling, Luke was aware of this, but still, he didn't want his newfound and redeemed father to die just now.
He longed to get to know the good man who was Anakin Skywalker, the man who even Obi-Wan had always held in high regards, yet with his knowledge of the dreadful truth that his once best friend had transformed into Darth Vader. A cruel and cold-hearted Sith Lord who had seeded fear even in the bravest men's hearths and had terrorized enemies and allies alike.
But now the Dark Lord was gone, vanquished with the realizing that over more than twenty years he had been nothing more than a slave, a worthless and replaceable pawn in the game of his master, lied to and used. Not to forget the small spark of Anakin that the darkness of Vader hadn't been able to suffocate in all this years, the part that was still able to love his son, wishing for his well-being and his safety.
In the end it had been this little spark of light repressed inside Vader that allowed Anakin to finally break free as he saw his son tortured and that the boy most likely would be killed, if he hadn't stepped in, right in front of his eyes.
How could his slave driver of a master have believed that he would stand by and watch silently while he kills his son? Or had Sidious really been so sure that his hold over him was so strong that he wouldn't interfere and would willingly watch his child die right in front of him?
Perhaps some years ago Vader would have done just that, believing in his Master's lies and the power of the Dark Side, but not anymore.
His son had come to him, knowing all too well that he was risking his own life to do so only with the wish to save him from himself. It had been a hard battle, for both but in the end Luke had been right and his father had fought his way out of the all-consuming darkness that had held him prisoner. He had killed the emperor, his evil master, knowing fully that it would most likely cost him his own life. But he didn't care.
He had committed too many horrors, had hurt too many of those who had cared for him to let this one chance to do something right slip through his hands.
A gentle pressure on his hand led Anakin to turn his eyes towards Luke`s face.
"We should go. Can you walk?" Luke asked, carefully shifting his father's weight in his arms.
Anakin winced in discomfort, the breath that left his burned lungs sounded even more sickening than normal.
He shook his head, no, rasping, "Luke you should…go!.. Leave me…here!"
"No! I will not leave you!" Luke nearly shouted, shifting their weight even more and pulling his father up with him in the process, groaning under the weight of the mostly artificial body.
On unstable feet, Luke tried to make his way down to the hangar of the Death Star, hoping that they would be able to reach one of the Imperial shuttles and leave this dark place.
Troopers and other Imperial staff passed them, some sending them strange looks, but none offered help, interested only in their own safety, especially now that the Rebel Alliance seemed to have the upper hand of the fight.
The drone of the diaphones became overload after the Executer had crashed on the surface of the Death Star, now bare of the force-field's protection.
Luke barely saw the fleeing Imperial personal, but he did feel a spark of pride at his friends, who had been able to pull their plan trough.
Sweating, he readjusted the weight on his shoulder watching as his father stumbled, nearly making them both fall over. But Luke wouldn't let that happen. They had to get away from the Death Star which was one of the most unstable places in the galaxy at the moment. Who knew how long it would take Lando and his team to reach the main reactor. When they delivered their package it only would take seconds to transform the Death star in billions of small particles in space. Something Luke would rather watch from a safe distance.
The hangar also echoed with the sound of screaming alarms, explosions and roaring engines; all around shuttles took off like they pleased, all only driven by the need to get away as soon and as far as possible.
Searching for a transportation that wasn't already taken, Luke detected one untouched shuttle in the middle of the hangar. The knowledge that he had nearly reached his goal mobilized the last strength in him, giving him the power to lead his weakening father to their transport.
Sounds neared and went into distance again with the grey curtain clouding his eyes. Anakin saw the shuttle Luke was trying to reach, but it felt like an impossible task for him to ever go there. He knew he was going to die and there was no way that he would let his son get killed over his naïve wish to save his life.
"Luke!.. Luke!" The voice was raspy and nearly inaudible.
"Father?" Luke turned his head so he was able to look at the man who hung over his shoulder.
"It´s… pointless, go, ..leave me." Anakin pressed out.
Unable to support his father's weight any longer Luke let his body glide to the floor, kneeling next to him.
"No, I can`t just leave you here. The Death Star get´s destroyed really soon." Luke pulled his father in his arms again reached for his hand. Anakin closed his nearly numb fingers gently over Luke`s.
"I know…It´s alright."
Saddened, Luke looked down on the mask that hid his father's disfigured face. Deep down Luke knew that it was too late for him, that he would die, but as everyone knows, hope dies last.
Closing his eyes, Luke cherished the closeness of his father drawing all the strength out of their connection to refresh his spirit and strength enough so he would be able to help his father on the last meters of their way to the shuttle before everything would explode up around them.
Luke´s eyes flew open. Someone had called his name, and it hadn't been his father. But still, it had been a familiar voice.
There it was again. Luke searched the still-bustling hangar for anyone familiar.
He found an Imperial shuttle that looked like it had just entered the Death star, hatch open and machines still running.
Who´s nuts enough to come back here? He wondered silently.
"Luke!..." Now the voice sounded even closer.
"What the hell!" Suddenly Han appeared on Luke´s right, staring down on him in absolute disbelief.
"Han! What are you doing here?"
"Well, I could ask you the same!" Han countered, anger and bewilderment clear in his voice.
The former smuggler stared down at his younger friend who sat before him, in his arms resting none other than Darth Vader, scourge of the galaxy, the man who had cut his hand off, tortured Leia, and Han and did many other horrors, like he belonged right there.
Little did Han Solo knew that the real bomb only was about to explode.
Fast steps neared the three of them and moments later Leia appeared beside Han. Her face changed from relief to disbelief and to anger as she spotted Luke, together with whom she only hours before had learned was her father.
Anakin watched them silently, as suddenly his lungs started to scream for oxygen. Helplessly he tried himself to press some air in his lungs, but to no avail and, after what felt like an eternity, the respirator sprung back to life and filling his lungs with air. His life support was rapidly giving out its function and making Anakin even more aware of the unavoidable.
Han, whose hand rested on his blaster, since he had found Luke in this company, stared at their enemy, understanding that he wouldn't be any danger to them anymore. Something had finally broken the power of the feared Dark Lord and that the monster finally would get what he deserved.
As Luke had before, Anakin took shelter in the closeness of his son before he turned to take a closer look at Leia.
How could I have been so blind? He asked himself silently. For the first time realizing something he should have seen years ago!
Aware that the eyes behind the black sockets of the mask were watching her, Leia felt goose bumps rising all over her skin. Luke didn't need to tell her, she just knew that Vader was aware of the fact that she was his daughter.
With unease, she gazed at her newfound brother and the monster that had once sired them, but she would never be able to accept as her father. Luke apparently didn't seem to have such reservations, holding him like it was the most natural thing to do.
Feeling the cool hand slip out of his grasp, Luke watched his father staring at his sister, fighting for some strength to hold his hand out to her, with a plea for her to come closer, but he was too weak. Anakin´s hand fell, numb, to his side and again it took a little too long for the respirator to supply him with much-needed air.
"Leia." Luke´s blue eyes bored into Leia´s brown ones, all he wanted to say stood in his soulful depth. Asking what his father wasn't able to by himself.
Unaware of what she was doing, Leia took a step backwards over the silent question. Her eyes staring with open disgust at the black mask resting in Luke´s arms.
"Please, Leia." Luke tried again. "If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here anymore."
Leia´s suspicion filled eyes flicked from her brother's face to the black mask and back.
"He killed the Emperor, Leia,…to safe my life."
Leia's doe eyes widened with disbelieve at this proclamation. Could it really be possible?
Leia searched Luke´s face, but found nothing but the truth there, and then she turned her gaze to the obviously badly wounded Vader.
Han wondered what in the name of the Force was going on here. He watched the interaction between the siblings and wondered what they were talking about. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that there was something going on he wasn't aware of, and he wasn't sure if he even wanted to know.
Taking a closer look at his girlfriend, he realized that she obviously was fighting an internal battle. Something was troubling her, a lot, but he had no idea what it was, but it must have to do with this strange situation now.
Suddenly Leia moved. Unsure at first, but then she knelt next to Luke, still at safe distance from Vader.
Lifting a brow Han wondered still more 'till an explosion ripped him out of his musing. The whole space station shook under his feet, nearly made him fall over.
Around them some alarmed shouts filled the air, the last of the fleeing Imperials stumbled off their feet and equipment rolled all over the floor.
Han watched the fleeing people and again wondered why none of them had taken any notice of them since they had landed on the flight deck, obviously all too interested to get their own ship.
Watching the last imperial shuttle leave after the last passenger had boarded it Han turned to his friends. They had to go too and fast. As he turned to them he found Vader in Luke's arms heaving with some short and obviously painful gasps.
"We should go." He said after the gasping had stopped. "Chewbacca is waiting with the ship and I`m not interested in being here when Lando reaches the core."
Turning to the still-waiting ship, he found his Wookie friend on the ramp with his crossbow in hand, roaring at him to come and get the hell out of here.
"Let´s go!" Han reached for Leia´s hand and pulled her up to her feet. The young woman wound her small fingers around his hand, ready to leave.
"Luke, come on, we must go." She urged her unmoving brother.
Looking up to her Luke nodded, and then let his gaze wander to his father.
"Alright, but I need your help."
Carefully, Luke helped his father to sit up and pulled him to his feet, nearly collapsing under the heavy weight. Han watched in disbelief.
"You want to bring him along?" The former smuggler asked, wondering if the kid had finally lost his mind, while Leia once again fought with her own feelings. She saw Luke`s struggle with the weight of their father but she just couldn't bring herself to touch him. She only could stare at her brother and wonder how he could bear the closeness of this man.
"Of course!" Luke sent a haunted look at Han. "I will not leave my father behind."
Well, Kid, …wait,… your father?" Han stared at Luke like he had sprouted a second head then he turned his gaze to Vader, who hung nearly limp in his son´s arms. Leia swallowed.
"Yes, he's Anakin Skywalker. My, that is to say, Leia´s and my father."
Han felt nausea rise inside him. How could this be possible? Anakin Skywalker had been a well-known war hero and assumed dead for years. And now he learned that he had become Darth Vader and more so was the father of the young man he had treated like his little brother and the woman he loved. This was too much, even for him!
"So, he's your father and this alone gives him the right to come with us?" Han asked, challenging. He was not interested in taking Vader, or Skywalker, or whoever he was now, with them.
"No. He will come with us because he got wounded as he threw the Emperor down the reactor pit, saving me from certain death." Luke responded, looking Han straight in the eyes.
Han didn't flinch; still he wondered what else he had missed. Ripping his eyes from Luke´s stare he turned to Leia. She sent him an unsure look from beneath thick lashes, neither agreeing nor denying Luke´s statement.
Sending her a short resurging smile, Han turned to Luke and then took in Vader with a measuring look.
"I must have gone completely nuts." He muttered to himself as he after all walked over to Luke and helped him to support the dead-weight of his father.
Han wound his arm around the armored body, shocked how heavy it was.
"Oh, man. You weigh a ton, you now that?" Han said as they stared their way to the captured ship they had used to reach Endor.
Anakin felt his body shifting as Han wound his arm around his shoulder, pulling part of his weight on his own body. Black dots filled his vision from the strain and he hadn't enough strength left to retort to Han´s comment about his weight.
Luke and Han started to move, pulling him along, the ship coming closer with every step, just as the call of the Force got stronger and stronger.
Blurry he saw Leia´s sorrowful eyes watching them as they stumbled over the deck towards the shuttle. The hangar had emptied; everyone who had been able to leave had done just that. Only from outside and the depth of the Death star explosions could be heard. It wouldn't take much more time before the reactor would be destroyed.
Anakin´s voice was nearly inaudible as he called out to his son, "Luke!"
Luke hesitated for a moment, unsure if he really had heard the call of his name. Han had also stopped; apparently he had heard something too. He sent Luke a questioning look before both turned their eyes to the mortally wounded man between them. Anakin tried to lift his head, but only managed a destitute roll.
"Luke… it's no… use. Go with… your friends. …Leave me here." Only under a painful strain Anakin was able to speak. He would die, but he didn't want Luke or his friends to lose their lives because of him.
"No, I will not leave you behind. I have to safe you!" Luke´s desperate exclamation made Leia turn around, realizing that the three men had stopped. Luke stared down at Vader, face set in determination while Han send him a sympathetic look. Knowing full well that perhaps Vader was right, and they should leave him to his fate.
Unsure what was going on, Leia turned and walked back to them. Aware that, even in his helpless state, her father was watching her closely, like he was waiting for her.
As she reached the three men, Anakin tried to loosen himself from Luke and Han´s hold on him, his already wobbly legs giving out and if the two hadn't grabbed for his arms stabilizing his stance he would have fallen right away. Seeing that it was impossible for him to stand up any more Luke and Han helped Anakin to sit down, supporting his back to at least sit upright.
Questionable cracking came from the respirator and it was obvious that Anakin was suffering greatly from deficient air.
"You already… have done… that! You brought me …back from… my own self-made… hell and… I`m more than… grateful for… it." He last pressed out, turning his face as best he could towards Luke, before he searched for Leia´s face. She kneeled in front of him, leaning forward to hear his weakened voice.
"There´s… only one thing… I want to… ask for."
The three friends shared a look before they turned inquiring looks towards Anakin. Each wondering what his most-probably last wish could be.
Leia had to bite her tongue for a second, to stop herself from repeating something nasty and not appropriate in front of a dying man, even when the one had been a Sith. She just waited and wondered what he would ask for.
A small sting touched her heart as Anakin finally was able to voice his wish.
. "Please,… help me… take this mask… of. Only for… once I want to …see my children… with my own eyes."
"But you will die!" Luke said, his voice breaking.
"There is… nothing that… will prevent that… now. Please."
Luke sent Leia and Han a helpless look, a little unsure what to do, but then moved to fulfill his father´s wish.
Leia clenched her hands into fists. She didn't feel ready to finally see the true face of her father, perhaps she feared that after that she wouldn't be able to label him as a mechanical monster any more, but would see him as a human and with this the good side of him, just like Luke did. Han seemed to feel her discomfort and send her a reassuring look and a short nod, telling her that it was the right thing to do.
Carefully, Luke shifted so he could reach for the black mask that had hidden his father's face for over twenty years. He pulled the black helmet loose, pulling it off and laying it down next to him. Then Luke reached for the mask. Uneasiness clouded his features as did it Han´s and Leia's, each of them wondering what they had to expect beneath.
An extremely pale and scarred face appeared from underneath the black material . To be honest, if they hadn't known who this person was, they had never expected him to been one of the most feared people in the galaxy.
Now, once again, blue eyes weighed first on Luke, taking in everything they could and then turned to Leia. A gentle smile stole over the ghostly white lips. The twins did the same, all reservations forgotten; only the childlike need to know their father remained.
"Leia,… I want you… to know that… your brother was right." Anakin brought forth with difficulty. Leia nodded in understanding, even a small smile stole over her lips.
Han watched them, silent, wondering what Vader meant, but assumed that it had to do with the conversation Luke and Leia had hours ago on Endor. Perhaps later, when they were ready, they would fill him in what they had spoken of. For now this moment belonged to the Skywalkers and he could only watch.
Anakin felt his spirit sink deeper into the Force, but he didn't want to leave, not now that he finally had found his family. Another smile stole over his lips as he watched the blurry images of his children.
"Go, you must, and soon, Anakin." A voice abruptly said to their right. Luke`s head shot up at the sound of the familiar voice. He turned to see the Force ghost of the small, green Jedi master who had trained him on Dagobah standing only a few feet away, watching them with wise eyes.
"Master Yoda!" He greeted joyously.
Leia´s eyes narrowed at her brother before she turned in the direction her brother was staring. Dumbfounded, she had the faint impression that there was someone but still she couldn't see whoever it was fully, only after she concentrated on the point the image got cleared and she came face to face with the small Jedi. Her eyebrows rose.
Where did he come from so suddenly? She wondered to herself, not aware that she was using the Force.
Then something else hit her. Had Luke just called this small being Master Yoda? But he had told them on the flight to Endor that the old Jedi had died in his presence. So how could he be here?
Anakin tried to focus his eyes and recognized Yoda´s form, but feeling with astonishment that it only was an appearance in the Force without a true body. He never had known that it was possible for the dead to converse with the living.
"Master Yoda." He greeted, regret and shame unmistakable in his voice.
Yoda only send him a short but somewhat reassuring nod.
Unsure what was directing his friend now, Han watched the scene. He only heard them talk about a Yoda or to someone called Yoda, but there was no one here, apart from them. His eyes turned curiously in the direction Luke, Leia and Vader were staring but there wasn't anyone, at least for him.
"Yoda is right, you know." A second voice said, and another man appeared next to Yoda, smiling gently at Anakin. Leia closed her eyes and reopened them, because she didn't believe what she just saw, but Obi-Wan was still there and she knew that Luke and her father could see them too. Only Han looked a little left out.
"Ben!" Luke greeted his former master, disappointment over the half-truth Obi Wan had told him forgotten.
"Hello, Luke." Obi Wan smiled proudly at his second Padawan. "Princess Leia, I´m glad to see you alive and well. It's a long time since the last time I saw you."
Leia smiled politely and nodded at the ghost.
"Excuse me but could anyone fill me in! What the hell is going on here?" Han demanded. Luke turned to him, realizing that Han wasn't Force sensitive and so couldn't see the two Jedi ghosts.
"Ben and Yoda are here." Luke explained, pointing in the direction were they were standing. Han stared at the space then at his friend.
"You want to tell me that there are ghosts standing over there?!"
"In a way yes, they can communicate with us through the Force. Perhaps that's why you aren't able to see them."
Han nodded; believing more by the moment that Luke was finally losing it completely.
Anakin could only stare at the illuminated form of his former master and friend, the friend he had killed.
"Obi Wan," he rasped, "I`m…I'm sorry, about…" He couldn't speak anymore. It was too straining for him.
"It´s alright my friend." Obi-Wan smiled warmly. "You fulfilled your destiny, even when it wasn't the way we thought, or hoped."
A small and sad smile stole over Anakin's features. Yes, perhaps Obi-Wan was right, but it didn't change that he wished that things had gone differently.
"Right, Obi-Wan may be and now time for you it is to become one with the Force." Yoda cut in, sending Anakin a reassuring look.
Anakin nodded then looked at his children. It was obvious that he didn't want to leave them behind, not now when he had only just found them. He wanted a chance to finally get to know them, but it looked like he would never get the chance, a fact that hurt him deeply.
Leia listened to the conversation silently as something caught her attention.
"What destiny are you talking about?" She asked, not sure if she would receive an answer.
"The destiny of bringing the Force into balance. We thought that it would mean the complete destruction of the Sith, but in over thousand years the Sith lurked in the shadow. So it was time for the Dark Side to regain power and now that the Jedi and the Sith are both destroyed everything can arise anew." Obi-wan explained to Leia.
Still unsure what Obi-Wan meant, Leia tried to comprehend what she just had heard.
Had this whole damn war, her home world´s destruktion and the deaths of millions of people happened out of a reason other than the hunger for power of some misguided people?
Had it been a needed disaster for a greater good? It was nearly impossible to believe, but Obi-Wan´s words obviously seemed to imply just that and that her father had been hub of all this.
With rising sympathy Leia looked at her father and even could muster another warm smile. The smile she got in return was so bright that she couldn't stop the heartwarming feeling that started blooming inside her.
Yoda and Obi Wan watched the redeemed Sith, both knowing that Anakin would love to stay with his children. But they also knew that it was his time to join them.
"Anakin, I know you don't want to leave your children, but perhaps, if you for once listen to me, I can show you how you can communicate with them."
Anakin turned to his former masters, whose faces shown with some of the humor he had in his younger years and Anakin even was able to send him a sheepish smile in return, for a second ignoring the tightness of his chest and the burning in his failing lungs.
"Anakin, come it's time." A deep, gentle voice suddenly said out of thin air.
Luke and Leia looked around, searching for another ghost, but didn't find one.
"Qui-Gon!" Anakin whispered his chest heaving with lack of oxygen.
"Come on, there is someone waiting for you." The voice, Qui-Gon, said.
Anakin eyes lit up. "Padme?"
"Yes, she had watched you. She can't wait to see you again. She is most grateful that you saved your son."
Anakin smiled. Padme was waiting for him, even after all the horrible, terrible things he had done? She really was an angel.
"Padme? Is that the name of our mother?"
Luke leaned towards his father, ear near his mouth so he could understand his weak voice.
Leia instinctively did the same, the faint memories she had of her mother filling her mind.
Anakin nodded. "She was my angel, … so beautiful…and brave." He needed to pause for a moment. His eyes started to turn glassy.
Leia´s throat tightened and she felt her eyes prickled with tears at the realization how much her father had or perhaps still loved their mother.
A strong hand came to rest on her shoulder, looking up she looked in Han`s face. The former smuggler didn't say anything, the look in his eyes told her everything she needed to know and she was once again grateful to have him by her side.
Luke closed his eyes, feeling something wet rolling down his cheek. He wished so much he had known his mother.
"I wish I could have known her. You both." Luke murmured and looked with wet eyes at his dying father.
Sadness clouded Anakin´s features and he tried to reach for him but was too weak. Instead he decided to give them at least a clue who their mother had been.
"Queen Amidala… of Naboo." He rasped out.
"I heard from her." Leia exclaimed at the name. "She had been a senator after her term as queen and she was friends with my fa…my stepfather at that time. He always said that she had been a great politician and a brave woman. She must have died at the time the old Republic turned into the Empire."
Hair rising coughing answered Leia´s words and Anakin´s whole body convulsed as the unbearable memory rose in his mind, tightening his already tattered throat. Self-hatred, pain and shame rose on the surface with the long-buried memory.
Obi-Wan watched Anakin and closed his eyes. He remembered too well as he had left Padme´s ship and found her in Vader´s stranglehold, accusing her of betraying him.
"Father?!" Luke watched with still wet and sorrowful eyes Anakin´s sudden tremors.
With some difficulty, Anakin tried to get a hold of himself, not exactly sure why his emotional turmoil had caused such a reaction. After a few moments the respirator seemed to have mercy with him and tuning on like it should helping to gain at least a little composure.
Turning his cloudy eyes to Leia, Anakin said, "Organa…was right…with what…he said…about your mother!"
Luke and Leia exchanged a look.
"She,…she was our mother?" Leia asked astonished. She had heard a few story's about Senator Amidala, not only from her stepfather, but also from Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar and all of them holding her in high regard. But what was more important was that she and Luke finally knew who their mother was!
Anakin only nodded his eyes cloudy and far away.
"Now come, Anakin." Qui Gon said. "You have already overdone your time."
"My master is right Anakin. We will wait for you, my friend." Obi-Wan said and started to vanish, as did Yoda.
Anakin turned his dull eyes to his children sending them a rueful and gentle smile.
"I… have to… go." He pressed out, his twins nodded, both knowing that there was nothing they could do.
Tears ran freely over Luke´s and Leia´s cheeks as they watch Anakin closing his eyes, breath turning even more uneven and heavy.
Han gently pressed Leia´s shoulder and wished to somehow comfort Luke too as suddenly a hand shoot up, holding his arm in a death grip.
Shocked over the sudden action, the three gasped, staring down at Anakin's wide open eyes. "Solo, …I know… my… daughter loves you…. Take care… of her."
Han nodded. He would do nothing less. Anakin nodded in return.
"If… you ever… hurt… her, I will… find a way… and haunt… you for the… rest of your… life. Do you …understand?"
Han couldn't help but smile a little over this protective gesture while Leia turned beet red, unsure how she should handle the sudden protectiveness of her father.
Luke sent his sister a knowing look, smiling and crying at the same time.
"I don't plan on hurting her. And I'll take good care of her."
"Good." Anakin's body abruptly went completely slack and it was obvious that he had succumbed to his injuries and finally became one with the Force.
Han stared down at the dead body of what was once Darth Vader and still tried to comprehend what just had happened. Next to him Luke and Leia were silently crying for their loss but both somehow knowing that they all would meet again, reunited in the Force when the time came.