The wonderful SpellCleaver is the Beta for this story. If you haven't read her stories, I HIGHLY recommend them! Thank you so much Spell! You make things "Snappier" ;)

The binary suns were just beginning to set across the desert sand, turning the pourstone of the Lars homestead dome from wind-blasted white to a muted orange and purple. Luke Skywalker stood at the edge of the crater, watching the suns set, as he did every night. Though the blistering heat of the day still permeated the dry air, the barest hint of a gentle breeze brushed the sweat-soaked curls from his forehead.

He didn't pay it any mind, only watched as the land around him grew darker and darker. Before long, he would need to go back inside, before the Tusken Raiders and other unsavory beings were out exploring the Jundland in full force. Though their home wasn't technically in the Jundland, it was close enough to present a danger to him if he stayed out too long.

Truthfully, Luke could never say why he came up to watch the suns set every day. He'd only been allowed up alone a few years before, when he turned eight. Before that, he'd had to wait until Uncle Owen or Aunt Beru were able to come up with him, and sometimes they'd been so busy finishing up for the night that he missed it.

Those hadn't been good days.

"Why do we do this?" Uncle Owen asked one evening after Luke insisted that he needed to go watch. Aunt Beru had already been asleep, and Uncle Owen looked like he'd been chewed up and spat out by a bantha.

"Cuz." Had been Luke's non committal answer. Though Uncle Owen groaned and grumbled about it, he'd dragged himself up with Luke anyway.

Perhaps Luke enjoyed watching the suns set because it was the only beautiful part about Tatooine. The suns turned the desert from a dry, flat, barren wasteland to a sea of colors. Now that Luke didn't have Owen's grumbling or Beru's nervous hums in the background to rush him, the pure, utter silence was almost comforting in a way nothing else on Tatooine ever would be.

But deep, deep down Luke suspected it was something else. Something he would never dare utter aloud, knowing how his uncle would respond. Something he only dreamed about in the dead of night, safe in his bed, in dreams that no one but him were privy to.

One day, he hoped to look out across the horizon and see not just two suns, but a ship. Each time he fantasized about it, the ship changed. A bulky freighter. A sleek, silver starship. A skyhopper. Or even just an old speeder.

But who was flying the ship never changed: his father.

His father was always faceless. He didn't know what he looked like. Owen never told him. Refused to, actually. But it didn't matter. Luke always recognized him anyway, and off they would go, flying off into the suns set as quickly as he'd appeared, off on an adventure.

But it was a dream. His father was dead. All that was left to him was a name he clung to despite his family's insistence that he take theirs. So as the sky began to darken, Luke sighed, turning away from the disappearing suns and began heading back to the dome entrance.

Just as he reached the entrance threshold, something made him stop, his small hand on the smooth pourstone. He stood there, staring at the door to the house, listening, a frown creasing his lips. Where he expected silence, minus maybe the noises of bantha moans carrying across the flats, he heard a high pitched whine, that increased with every breath he took.

As soon as he recognized it, his head jerked around, back towards where the suns were just beginning to disappear on the horizon.

There, speeding towards the farm, was a ship.

His breath caught in his throat, his mind whirling with possibilities. Was it someone from the Hutt clan coming to bully them into paying a water tax? Was it one of their distant neighbors coming to ask Uncle Owen for help fighting back Tuskan Raiders? Was it…?

No. It wasn't a ship he recognized.

His heart flew into his throat as he made the connection, and before he knew it, he was rushing down the stairs to the house below, taking two, three steps at a time. "Uncle Owen, Uncle Owen!" He was shouting as he rushed to his room.

"What now, Luke?" Owen tiredly called from his own room.

"My father is here!" Luke dashed into his darkened bedroom, reaching under the bed where he left the pack he'd always kept packed just in case he was suddenly whisked away on an adventure.

"What?" Owen sounded confused. Luke didn't blame him. It didn't make any sense, but he just knew it was him. He felt it in his gut. "Luke, wait!"

Luke ignored him as he rushed back out, pack in hand, huffing and puffing as he again took two stairs at a time to climb up. By the time he reached the top, he was covered in sweat, taking in huge, heaping gulps of air as though Tatooine had just run out of it. What a way to finally meet his father, he thought briefly, but it was gone the moment he stepped outside and found his father's ship settled right outside of his door.

And just like that, the elation was gone, replaced by a creeping dread that sent shivers across his skin. He dropped his pack, and it landed with a thump next to his feet.

There, right in front of him, was a ship he did not recognize. It looked Imperial: a TIE fighter, he recalled. But this was no TIE fighter he'd seen or read about.

The cockpit in the center was larger, the windows darkened. Even in his limited experience with ships, he could tell the ship had some serious modifications to it. A set of canons were mounted on it, and Luke couldn't help but notice they were pointed at the homestead.

At him.

But the wings-instead of the signature vertical, hexagon wings with an X shape across the panels, these wings were curved and long.

Something wasn't right. This ship didn't look like anything that should even exist. Sure, Luke didn't know much about the rest of the galaxy, but it still felt out of place.

Out of time.

And from behind that curved wing, out stepped a monster, all in black. A cloak swirled around his shoulders as he strode purposefully towards Luke. He was humanoid, but he wore a suit that was much too hot for anything that should ever be worn on Tatooine. A panel of lights was nestled in the center of his chest.

But the helmet…

And then there was that awful mechanical breathing…

Luke could barely breathe as the monster approached, the breathing echoing across the sands, reverberating in his bead. Without thinking, he'd begun stumbling back, hand grasping behind him, fumbling for the panel that would work their front door. Perhaps, if he could get inside quick enough, he could lock the monster out.

But the hulking black figure was much too quick, and before Luke could take another step, he was there, a gloved hand grasping Luke's upper arm in a vise grip. Unable to help himself, Luke whimpered in pain even as he pulled against his grip. "Let go of me, you-you-" He couldn't even think of an insult fitting enough for what this creature was.

The helmeted head tilted, looking down at him with wide, glass bug eyes. "You are coming with me."

The voice was deep,each word dripping with a dark menace. A warning, and a threat. Luke thought his heart stopped beating right then and there. He struggled harder against the grip.

He shouldn't have told Owen it was his father. This was not…

"But I am, Luke." Luke froze. How did he know his name? "You know it to be true."

Luke stared up at the man, his entire small frame trembling.

"I am your father."

Luke woke with a sharp, painful gasp, eyes wide. For a second, his mind still whirled with images of Darth Vader at his home on Tatooine, come to snatch him away from his guardians. His arms were flailing, hands hitting the bottom of the upper bunk of Wedge's bed, his legs kicking and tangling in the sheets. The next thing he knew, the world was tilting as his torso slipped off the edge of the bed, dangling him upside down.

He continued gasping, even as the blood rushed to his head, but it was enough to bring him back to reality. His breathing slowed and he positioned himself to push himself back into his bottom bunk, peeling the sheets off his sweaty skin with a groan.

Force, he was glad Wedge wasn't around tonight. Luke probably would have woken him up. Again.

Even if the reconnaissance mission Wedge was flying should have been one Luke was there for.

Luke continued to breathe in through his nose, out through his mouth, over and over again until his heart rate slowed enough that he was able to get out of bed, making his way over to the fresher, where he flipped on the light and stepped up to the sink.

It seemed to be an almost nightly ritual. He'd either toss and turn until the wee hours of the morning, or he'd be violently awoken from a nightmare. Then he'd end up in the fresher, splashing cool water over his sweaty face and neck, willing the images of the dreams to go away.

Then he'd look up at the mirror and frown at the changes in his appearance: shadows under his eyes, sunken cheeks, too-pale skin. He was pretty sure he'd lost weight, but he was too nervous to actually check. He didn't need more confirmation that he'd irrevocably changed after Bespin. That everything in his life had changed.

Even if he liked to pretend it hadn't.

After he'd been fitted for his new arm and discharged from the med bay, he'd immediately been summoned to Rebel High Command. Mothma, Dodonna, and Leia were there, naturally wanting to know the exact details of what had happened on Bespin.

He'd told the story with the utmost professionalism, not as if it had happened to him, but as though it had happened to someone else and he'd merely witnessed it. It had scared him, that eerie calmness, but he'd made it through the story.

Leaving out, of course, the most crucial truth that echoed with every breath he took, with every dream he had, always in the back of his mind.

Darth Vader was his father.

No, he highly doubted High Command would take too kindly to that bit of damning information. Or, worse, they'd make him the poster boy of the Rebellion. Well, a different sort of poster boy. Instead of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, he'd become the defected son of Darth Vader himself.

Neither scenario would end well.

So he said nothing, keeping it a secret, even as it became more and more obvious he hadn't returned the same optimistic Luke as before.

He used to have the top bunk. That changed after the first nightmare sent him completely falling off the bed and bruising his shoulder and forehead.

He used to lead most reconnaissance missions with Rogue Squadron. He hadn't gone out nearly as often as he used to. Every time he did, it felt as though Vader was going to pop out of nowhere in his TIE Advanced to box him in and capture him. He now only volunteered when it was absolutely necessary.

He used to smile more. He used to laugh more. He used to hang out with his squad mates during down time. Now? If he did do those things, it was a ghost of what he used to be. He was going through the motions.

He knew no one blamed him. There were plenty of soldiers who had experienced far less than getting their hand cut off by Darth Vader who had just as much, if not worse, PTSD. But every time he caught a pitying look, he couldn't help but wonder how they'd look at him if they found out who he really was.

If he even knew who that was, anymore.

He'd finished up in the fresher, heading back to his bed, when the knock came, sharp and quick. He frowned, and tentatively he stretched out with the Force to sense who it was. A fumbling attempt, since he still barely knew how to use the gift and curse his father had passed down to him, but a successful one.


He rubbed his face, willing himself to look less disturbed, and opened the bedroom door. "Hey," he greeted, giving her his best smile. It felt less fake than the smiles he gave to everyone else, but it still wasn't his best. "What are you doing up so late?"

Leia was dressed in a white, flowing dress, perfect for sleeping. Her hair was unbound and flowing freely down her back, telling Luke she hadn't been awake long. "I couldn't sleep." It was a lie. She was even bare footed, he noticed as she breezed past him uninvited into his quarters. "I thought you could use the company."

"How did you know I was awake?" He shut the door behind her. It was a good thing Wedge wasn't here. Then again, having Leia Organa alone in his room would probably flare up rumors of their supposed secret romance, if anyone were to catch them. Nevermind Leia was clearly head over heels for Han Solo, and he didn't see her as anything beyond a sister-like figure. He'd stopped protesting a long time ago, since that only seemed to fuel the rumors.

"Intuition." Leia replied airily as she looked around. His quarters, like most soldiers', were bare except for his discarded flight suit in the corner, some data pads on top of the dresser, and one of their drawers askew. Wedge's drawer.

At least their room was relatively clean.

When she was done checking out his room, she sat down on his bed, patting the spot next to her. "What's this about?" Luke asked cautiously. Nonetheless, he did as she bid, sitting beside her. If Han were there, he might have made a big deal about Leia's request, thus causing Leia to furiously revoke it. But Luke wasn't Han. He rarely argued with Leia, and never for the sake of riling her up.

"Can't I talk to my best friend?" Leia asked, quirking a brow, a wry smile twisting across her lips-a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. Sure enough, it quickly disappeared. "Since when did we start keeping secrets from each other?"

Luke's stomach twisted, and he had to swallow back bile. "I don't. Are you?" He tried to sound like he was teasing. It wasn't convincing. Even as he said it, his mind conjured up the images from his nightmare, followed by the memory of Bespin.

I am your father.

Naturally, Leia didn't believe him. "You can't seriously believe that I haven't noticed?" She asked, incredulously. He swallowed, hard. "Come on, Luke. I know you. You've always been that optimistic, bright light that everyone notices whenever you walk into a room. It's infectious, and it's part of what makes you so innocently charming."

"Thank you?" Luke made a face.

She nudged him with her elbow. "It's a compliment. Really." Her expression darkened. "More people need to be like you."

Luke's mouth had gone dry. No. They didn't. She wouldn't say that if she knew.

I am your father.

"But you're different now. After Bespin." She continued, her deep brown eyes searching his. No doubt seeing what he saw in the mirror every night. Her lips pinched together.

"Well, I did get my hand cut off." He replied dryly, holding up his prosthetic hand to emphasize the point. Not that anyone could really tell it wasn't real from afar. The synth-skin matched his tone perfectly. A little too perfectly. He usually wore gloves now to avoid having to look at it.

Leia nodded, glaring at the hand, or rather, the reason for it. "I know. I thought at first it might have been a hard adjustment to the new hand, but now I just get this feeling that there's something else bothering you." She met his gaze. The sharp, piercing gaze of a princess, a politician, and a Rebellion leader. "Something you're keeping from me."

"I'm fine." The words were automatic. There wasn't even any feeling in them.

"Has anyone told you that you're a bad liar?" Leia asked skeptically.

"Multiple times." One corner of his lips turned upwards.

Leia shook her head, hair spilling out around her shoulders. "Are you not telling me because you're afraid I might have to tell High Command?"

Yes. He kept his mouth shut.

She took that for what it was. Gently, she reached up, pressing a hand to his cheek. Her skin was warm and soft. "You're all I have left, Luke." Her voice, normally so controlled and confident, wavered. "There is nothing you could tell me that would change how much I care for you."

He couldn't help it. He scoffed, before he could stop himself, and instantly her eyes narrowed. "I can think of some things." He tried to sound like he was joking, but again, he was a terrible liar. He figured Vader was probably a pretty good one, so he probably got that from whoever his mother was.

Her thumb traced his cheekbone lightly. "Well, are you planning on defecting and turning to the Empire?"

"What?" He gave her a look like she was crazy, "Of course not! Do people think…?"

"No." Leia replied, amused. She was still tracing circles with her thumb across his cheek. "But that might be the only thing that would cause our relationship problems. And even then, it's not like I don't have people I care about who sided with the Empire." She shrugged. "It would hurt, but this is a civil war. It's not uncommon."

She sounded so casual about it. Either she was really trying to convince him to tell her,, she was trying to convince him to tell her.

"I can honestly say I won't be doing that." Luke assured her. Despite what his father wanted. "But this...this is something…" He trailed off. "I don't even know how to deal with this, Leia."

Her other hand reached up, cupping the other side of his face. Oh, now would be a terrible time for someone to walk in, he thought in the back of his mind. He didn't move, though. It felt right. Not romantic...but still, right.

"That's what I'm here for." She promised, firmly. "I'm here to help you. Just as you, Han, Chewie, and even the droids have helped me." Her grip tightened, just barely. "Let me help you."

He couldn't look away from her. Even if she wasn't holding his face, he couldn't have looked away. Maybe it was her political persuasiveness. Maybe it was the fact that she was his best friend. Or, maybe it was the fact that he could feel the truth in her words. A prompting from the Force? He didn't know. He felt like he understood the Force less than he did the day Ben introduced it to him in his hut.

But he felt he could trust her. Out of everyone, she was the one he could trust the most.

"He's my father."

Leia frowned, but she didn't pull away. "What?"

"Darth Vader." The words burned on his tongue. "He's my father."