Number 18 in the Vader's Cat series. (Formerly called Vader and Cat but we decided we liked Vader's Cat better.)

In order they are:

Cracking the Armor
Another Disturbing Crack
Completely Cracked...and the Cat Came Back
Cracking the Death Star
Cracking Imperial Center, or: Cat Goes to Coruscant
Pruneface Cracks, or: Cat vs. Palpatine
Cracking the Dark Lord
Crack to Nature
Cracking His Confidence
A Fleet Full of Crack(pots)
Carbonite Cracks, or: Cat vs. Fett
Farmboy Cracks, or: Cat vs. Skywalker
Cloud City Cracks, or: Cat vs...Cat?
Conspiracy Cracks
Absolutely Cracked, or: Jedi vs. Sith vs. Cat
A Crack In The Family
Reactor Cracks, or: Skywalker Earns His Name
A Pair of Cracks

A Pair of Cracks

By the time Vader managed to find someone who could get the cat down, the Millennium Falcon had escaped once, doubled back to rescue Luke, and escaped again. Boba Fett had taken Solo, and Vader was going to have to return to his master empty handed. To make matters worse, the cat had been frightened by its experience and now wouldn't leave him alone.

When he sat down, the cat sprang into his lap. He pet it a little, hoping that it would settle down and let him think, but the more attention he gave it, the more it seemed to want. When his hand stopped moving, the cat would rub against his arm. If that didn't succeed in drawing his attention, the animal would stand up and walk back and forth, rubbing its entire body along Vader's chest and stomach. As it did this, its tail would skim directly across Vader's mouth grille, and hair would shoot up into his nostrils. Every time he sneezed, the cat would glare at him as if he had committed some horrible offense to decent cat ownership.

He spent more than two hours trying to get the cat to relax, and he had just succeeded in coaxing the feline hellion to curl up in his lap when the door chime went off. The cat leapt up again. Vader sighed. He scooped it into his arms and tromped across his cabin to open the door.

On the other side, there was nervous looking young imperial officer who was holding a cat carrier in his arms. Vader stared. The carrier had been a misguided gift from a planetary governor who wanted to curry favor with Vader—or perhaps, with Vader's Cat. The cat thoroughly disdained the thing, and Vader had left instructions for it to be thrown out. Apparently, that order had not been followed. To the Dark Lord's even greater displeasure, there was a white, fluffy, purple-eyed feline inside it, whose antennae were drooping so that they trailed down on either side of her head.

"What," Vader asked as threateningly as he could, "Is this?"

"It's the…cat, Lord Vader. The one that you…found. On Cloud City," the young officer said with a gulp.

"I know what it is," Vader replied. "What is it doing here? I thought I left instructions for it to be left on Cloud City?"

"Well, yes, my Lord. You see, it…keeps coming back. No one can tell why or how it's getting on board. But we keep…finding it. Sir," he explained, raising one finger to loosen his uniform collar uncomfortably.

"And why are you bringing it to me?" demanded Vader.

The young man's eyes darted to the orange behemoth resting in Vader's arms. He then looked up at the Dark Lord's mask and started to sweat. Profusely.

Vader sighed. He stepped back and gestured for the cat to be brought in. The petrified officer scurried to obey and then carefully set the carrier down in the corner where Vader told him to leave it. When he opened the cage door, though, the feline did not come out.

"You weren't so timid on Cloud City," remarked Vader. "What's the matter with you now?"

She mewed piteously.

Vader grumbled internally. Even if he had wanted to pick her up—which he didn't—he was never going to be able to maintain his dignity while he tried to crouch down in front of a cage on the floor. He also had no intention of saying that with someone else present.

"My arms are full," he said instead. "I can't pick both of you up."

Then, to his great amazement, the orange cat sprang down from his arms and sauntered over to the carrier. His lengthy fit of insecurity appeared to be over and completely forgotten, as did whatever hostilities had gone on between the two cats before he found them in the reactor chamber. He swaggered into the carrier, escorted the female back out again, and two of them promptly proceeded to groom one another.

Vader stood dumbfounded. After watching them for several minutes, he wandered back to his chair and sat down. The cats had forgotten that he existed.

"I have a bad feeling about this," he said.

This has been up on LJ for quite a while but I forgot about it. I'm really sorry. I have made some progress with my migraines and if all goes well I should have health insurance again in October-so there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm going to try to start updating more frequently. I've got some One Path material in the works, but it needs a beta before I can post.