"Moon Over Bourbon Street"

STANDARD DISCLAIMER/CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: The characters are George Lucass. This fic was inspired by the song "Moon Over Bourbon Street", which belongs to Sting. Lyrics follow.

AUTHORS NOTE: This is a sequel to my fic "Heads Were Dancing". It takes place immediately after the events in that fic, and if you havent read it, well, this one wont make much sense to you. Oh yeah, and remember, Vader doesn't know that Leia is really his daughter; all he knows is that she reminds him of his late wife.

Still garbed in his clever Anakin Skywalker disguise, Darth Vader left the Imperial Palace. He had only a few more hours before the life support system in the prototype suit he wore was exhausted. Be home by midnight, he thought with a rare flash of humor, before your carriage turns back into a pumpkin. He was determined to spend his last few hours of normalcy out among people, out on the brightly-lit streets of Coruscant. It felt good to be out among people again. He did not want to acknowledge it even to himself, but it was nevertheless true. He suddenly realized that perhaps Anakin Skywalker was not as dead as the Emperor believed.
People smiled at him as he passed, surprising him. He had forgotten what it was like not to be a monster. He knew the people who nodded greetings at him would be shocked to learn that this handsome man was the dreaded Darth Vader, a name synonymous with sadism and evil.
But it had not always been so.
Once, he'd had friends. He'd had a beautiful wife who had adored him beyond reason. He even remembered hearing dimly through a haze of burning pain and numbing drugs that she had borne him a son. When he thought of it, it seemed only fitting that they had both in their own ways labored to give birth at the same time; she to his golden-haired son, and he to the twisted, mechanical man known as Darth Vader.
As he walked the streets enjoying the non-reactions to his clever disguise, it suddenly came to him that his wife, his darling angel, had never seen what he had become. After their ill-fated duel, Obi-Wan had spirited her away to the gods alone knew where. Ever since, he had tried not to think of her, resolutely pushing all memories of her out of his mind, eradicating all traces of her from even his most secret dreams. Until tonight he had succeeded. Until he had danced with Princess Leia Organa. Why, he wondered, should she of all people make me think of of her?
As though thoughts of the Princess could conjure her up from nowhere, he passed near a hotel and felt the unmistakable presence of Leia Organa. He halted, staring up at the brightly-lit windows as though mesmerized. As he watched, the double doors on one of the balconies opened, and Leia, still wearing her butterfly costume from the Imperial Masquerade Ball, stepped out onto the balcony of her room. Quickly, he hid himself in the shadows. He did not want her to see him; for some reason, he did not think he could bear to see the disgust and loathing in her eyes again. Even so, he could not resist poking his head out, stealing a glimpse of the lovely, regal young woman. As he watched, she pulled off the purple cap concealing her hair, allowing the thick chestnut waves to fall down around her shoulders and tumble down to her waist.
Anakin was captivated.
Never before had he seen her with her hair down, standing casually and enjoying the night air. Leia's posture brought him back to a cool spring night on a dead planet whose name was long forgotten by most, a cool spring night when his wife had stood on her balcony, pulling the pins from her hair and letting it tumble down in dark mocha waves. She had leaned forward, standing with her hands on the balcony railing just as Leia was standing now, tipping her head back to drink in the heady scent of the night-blooming flowers. There were no night-blooming flowers on Coruscant, but Leia tipped her head back just the same. Perhaps in her imagination, she smelled the flowers of another dead planet. The thought made Anakin's heart hurt. He wanted to rush up there, take her in his arms, hold her, comfort her, take it all back. The gods help him, he wanted to make love to her. He could sense the goodness, the kindness in her. Through all she had endured, she had never lost this. Her spirit had never been broken. Her capacity for love and compassion remained. She was so like his angel that he could almost believe that if he went to her now and knelt at her feet, she would forgive him all.
He actually found himself approaching the entrance to her hotel. It was then that the warning alarm sounded softly in his ear, alerting him that he had only an hour of life support left. Its effect upon him was like a wake-up call from Lucifer himself.
What am I doing? Darth Vader thought. He was beginning to see why this prototype suit was so dangerous. It had allowed him to become Anakin Skywalker again for the first time in years. He wondered if it were truly an accident of fate that the suit had proven unworkable; perhaps the Emperor had known something that Vader did not. Perhaps Vader was not as dedicated to the Dark Side as hed always believed himself to be.
With that disturbing thought in mind, he turned back towards the Imperial Palace, where the handsome, golden man who had earlier danced with the beautiful princess would transform himself back into the heartless beast called Darth Vader, the same heartless beast from whom the beautiful princess had shrunk in revulsion. He knew that he was the Emperor's creature now, owned body and soul by that sinister agent of Darkness. Once again, he had been faced with a choice: seek out forgiveness and redemption, allowing the Light Side and goodness to fill him, or embrace the Dark Side and the power it offered. Once again, of his own free will, he had chosen the Darkness.
It was, he felt, his Destiny.