Special thanks to my beta reader, Scifiromance. And to Madam'zelle Giry for her advice.

Warnings: Slight humor, rated T for mentions of violence in later chapters.

There were times when Darth Vader thought that Anakin Skywalker was not nearly as dead as he should be.

Of course, disposing of Skywalker was considerably more difficult than killing anyone else, for the sole reason that Skywalker probably still lived somewhere inside his head. When he had slaughtered the younglings and pledged himself to Palpatine, he was certain that he had left that impulsive, whiny, weak persona behind. He became Darth Vader, a Sith Lord and the most feared person in the universe. The Hero Without Fear had perished with the rest of the Jedi.

But there were those rare moments when Vader did something decidedly un-Sith-Lord-like, something so incredibly impulsive and foolish that it could only be blamed on his old self, Skywalker.

Vader was a pragmatic, no-nonsense man who had the patience to meditate for hours on end and who usually thought things through. Skywalker, on the other hand, was an impulsive imbecile who would do the most nonsensical things to relieve his boredom; that usually lead to the most uncomfortable of situations.

Situations like being stranded on Tatooine, for instance.

He blamed this entirely on Skywalker. Vader had been reading through a pile of extremely dull reports- - -Senatorial meeting, blah, blah, resistance, blah, blah, Death Star schematics, yawn- - -when something had piqued his interest. Ironically, it was only a footnote on what was most likely the least important piece of information in that stack, providing little relevant detail other than that a hermit who could do 'strange things' lived on Tatooine.

He absolutely hated the old dustball. It was where he had lived as a slave, where his mother had been killed by Tusken Raiders, and...basically where everything bad short of Mustafar happened. Odd that such a backwater planet would hold so many key events, but the point was, he hated it. So he should instead stay on this ship, the newly built Executor, and continue shifting through the pile of datapads.

...why the nine hells would he want to do that? This was boring anyway.

The petulant, not-quite-there thought seemed entirely too sulky for something Vader would think, therefore he deduced that it was the remnants of Skywalker and tried to rationalize this decision, even as he ordered the navigator to set a course to the Outer Rim. He eventually came up with the idea that the hermit might be Force-sensitive, and therefore should be eliminated. It had nothing to do with the crushing boredom he felt or that annoying voice whining in the back of his mind. As for the reason he felt that he should go there alone, well, his crew was starting to annoy him with their incompetency and it wouldn't do to throttle them all. It was certainly not because he wanted to temporarily escape the responsibility of being a general or anything of the sort.

Once they were in the Outer Rim, he had privately ordered Admiral Ozzel to command the ship until further notice. He then snuck into one of the many Lambda shuttles available on the Executor, and blasted off to Tatooine.

Of course, something just had to go wrong.

Owen Lars's nephew had just turned four.

He frowned as the pudgy hand reached for the blue-domed head. Luke had specifically asked for a droid to tinker with for his birthday, pleading with large, teary eyes. Against his better judgement, Owen had brought Luke along to choose one from an old junk shop owned by a Toydarian. The toddler picked a small R2 unit that kept beeping. Owen felt his gut churn for some reason he couldn't identify; the droid seemed familiar somehow, and not in a good way.

He normally wouldn't have listened to the boy. It wouldn't do to spoil him after all. But the shopkeeper was selling it cheap- - -Owen suspected there was more of a story there, as Toydarians were notorious for their stinginess, and this particular one kept staring at Luke somewhat fondly- - -and a droid would be good to help around the farm. He figured that he could keep his nephew from sulking and get an astromech droid to repair the things that regularly broke down on his farm. It was a win-win situation.

There was something about this particular unit, though, that gave him a bad feeling. The kind of feeling that Owen normally got when Luke used that Force-thing his father was once famous for. Owen didn't have anything against his stepbrother; didn't know him well enough to like or dislike him. It was the Force-thing that made him grit his teeth. It wasn't natural, being able to talk in people's heads and move things without even touching them. People could get hurt.

Anakin had hurt people.

(I killed them- -I killed them all!)

He sighed at the thought of his absent stepbrother, blocking the harsh memory and shifting his thoughts to a different track. Owen had not known him well, but he had heard all the stories. The Hero Without Fear, the Chosen One, greatest pilot in the universe, Tatooine's best mechanic.

Imperial soldier extraordinaire.

Now Kenobi hadn't exactly told him that. The former Jedi Master had just dropped Luke on his doorstep, told him that Anakin hadn't known about his birth prior to the man's death, and to keep Anakin's son away from the Empire. Which was a difficult thing to do if you lived in the Empire, even on an Outer Rim planet, so Owen thought that Kenobi was two steps away from senility. So he had suspiciously asked the hermit why Luke needed to be kept away from what was basically nienty-nine percent of the universe. The answer had been awkward and shifty (-He can't know about- Well, it's- -Ana- -I mean, someone might take Luke and- -ah-) , but it wasn't exactly subtle, and Owen got the gist of it.

Anakin was well and very much alive. He was also working for the Empire.

Owen wasn't sure why this was a bad thing, really. He didn't have any fondness for the Empire, but he didn't hate it either. Kenobi wouldn't budge, however, and any efforts Owen made to find information on his absent stepbrother always led to a dead end. He made sure to search for high-ranking members, because of course Anakin would be successful; the man oozed talent, even when he had been a slave. None of the Imperial generals matched his description, though. It looked like he would get to keep his nephew for a while longer.


Owen whirled on his nephew to see the boy reaching out for a disappearing astromech unit.

"Why is it running away?" He demanded, glaring at the shopkeeper. The Toydarian scratched his head.

"Unnnh, it's never done thatuh before."

"You tried to sell us a defective droid?!" he snapped, grabbing his nephew's shoulder to keep him from running after the unit.

"I didn't know it was broken, hmmm," the Toydarian said. "Ituh seemed fine when the Jawas brought it in."

"Well, it's broken now, so we're not paying for it. Do you have any other droids?"

"Let me lookuh." the alien fluttered to the back of the store.

Annoyed, Owen leaned back against the door frame, crossing his arms with a scowl. He glanced down at the blond toddler, whose eyes were already starting to fill with tears, and his frown grew deeper. With nothing better to do, the moisture farmer glanced at the roads outside. There seemed to be some sort of commotion. He felt wariness spike up as he watched shopkeepers and customers alike run for their speeders or barricade their doors.

The source of disturbance was revealed when R2-D2 came rolling back at a frenzied pace, shrieking in alarm.

Hot on the droid's heels was the Empire's second in command, Darth Vader.

The trouble started when the engines started to malfunction, making the ship wobble dangerously in mid-space. If Vader wasn't such an excellent pilot, he'd have been smashed into chunks of black armor several times over. As it was, he had already had several close calls with asteroids and meteors, fortunately arriving in the planet's atmosphere relatively unscathed.

Once he was in the atmosphere though, he felt a searing hot pain akin to Mustafar, and realized that his ship, upon entering the ozone layer, had caught on fire.

...Well, Sith.

It took him a moment to realize that he had just insulted himself.

He utilized all the piloting skills he had learned, along with a few improvised moves, and miraculously managed to arrive on the planet alive. Sand burst in a shower of gold as he crash landed on the desert planet.

Another happy landing, he thought sarcastically, climbing out of the totaled ship. He glared at the melted, broken hunk of metal. It should not have malfunctioned. Obviously, one of his soldiers had fancied himself a mechanic, and tried to make 'improvements' on the shuttle. If Vader ever found out who it was, he would design a brand new torture droid just for that imbecile of a pilot.

Fuming, the Anakin side took over and he kicked the shuttle uselessly. Slightly more rational now, he surveyed the area. There was sand, sand, sand...Oh look, more sand.

He took several deep breaths, trying to calm himself enough to think. This was Tatooine. No matter how much he hated it, he still knew it like the back of his prosthetic. He looked around, noting the distinct land marks. If he remembered correctly, Mos Eisley was half an hour away.

Cursing Kenobi, the twin suns, and his black heat-absorbing suit, Vader trudged towards the town.

Mos Eisley was indeed half an hour away. By speeder. By foot, it took two hours. The heat was unbearable- -because apparently, his suit's heat regulator had been damaged in the crash- -and if he was anyone else, he would be parched and exhausted. Fortunately, his suit was intact enough to energize him, so he wasn't either of those things. He was still irritated.

He finally arrived in the ramshackle town, not caring that people screamed and ran away at the sight of him, or that he would have to explain to the Emperor why he was even on Tatooine. He was seriously considering to tell Palpatine to go to hell one of these days, but maybe that would wait until he located the kill switch in his life support.

Boop-Beep. Master Anakin?

He froze, staring at the small astromech droid that had rolled up to him. "R2-D2?" Mirage or not? Or was he simply delusional?

The droid beeped in alarm, apologizing about a case of mistaken identity, and rolled away in panic. It left wheel marks in the sand. Likely not a mirage, then.

Perhaps he wasn't too far off with the notion of delusion, because it didn't occur to him to use the Force to pick up Artoo. What did occur to him was to run after the little droid, yelling, "Wait!"

Had he been in top condition, he would have caught up to the unit in no time. As it was, he was tired and confused, his suit was most likely malfunctioning after the fall and sand had gotten into the joints of his prosthetics. (He was also whining quite a bit, but he figured that considering the circumstances, it was justified.)

The frightened droid led him on a merry chase to the familiar areas of Watto's junkshop. At first, he barely noticed the man he barreled into, who now that he thought about it actually looked a lot like- -

"Cliegg Lars?"

The man didn't seem to recognize him, instead staring at him with wide, frightened eyes. Which was to be expected, given his appearance, he reflected.

He stood there and waited for the other man to answer.

Or at least recover from what looked to be a spontaneous stroke.

Behind the moisture farmer's legs, a small blond head peeked out. Giggling, the boy toddled away from his guardian, who was still too frozen with fear to notice, and grabbed a handful of Vader's black cloak.

"Hi," he said, grinning. "I'm Luke. And tha's my uncle Owen." he pointed at the man who was apparently his stepbrother, not his stepfather. "You look like a droid, mister."

Vader tilted his head.

How the kriffing hell does Darth Vader know my old man's name?

Owen tried to push Luke behind him, only for his hand to meet nothing but air. He glanced at the ground, spotting the trail of tiny sandy footprints. Very slowly, he followed them with his eyes and located his nephew.

Who was clinging to Vader's cloak.

The moisture farmer felt his heart stop.

"Luke!" he hissed, taking a half-step towards the boy. "Luke, get back here!"

Anakin's son turned to him with a bright smile. "I change my mind, Uncle Owen!" he tightened his grip on the black material, and to Owen's utter horror, exclaimed, "This is the droid I wan'!"

Thanks for reading.

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