Leia's hands dropped from his face as though he'd burned her, and she cradled them against her chest as if she were trying to hold her beating heart from leaping out. "What?"

He felt as though his soul was caving in on itself, but he managed a tentative, pained smile. "Still think I couldn't say or do anything to change how you feel about me?"

It was a lame joke at the worst possible time and she pointed her finger at him, shooting him a glare. "Don't put words in my mouth." She warned, but the glare fell away as quickly as it came. "I just...give me a second to think, okay?"

She stood before he answered and began to pace the room, one of her hands absently fiddling with her hair as she did so. He watched her, and though his heart was hammering in his chest, worried that he had done the wrong thing in telling her, he couldn't help but wonder if anyone else knew that Leia Organa had a habit of playing with her hair when she was stressed. Maybe that was one of the many reasons she usually kept it in an elaborate braid or updo.

Minutes trickled by as she continued to pace. He waited, shifting uncomfortably when she continued to say nothing. Perhaps she would wear a rut into the floor of his quarters.

But finally, she stopped, taking a long, deep breath in. "What if he's lying?"

"He's not."

"You said your father was Anakin Skywalker."

"He is."

Leia turned to stare at him, her eyes narrowed. "You're telling me that one of the greatest Jedi heroes of the Republic is now Darth Vader?"

"Apparently so." Luke replied, miserably. Unfortunately, neither one of them knew enough about Anakin Skywalker to even begin to piece together how that happened. He knew his father had been a Jedi, one of Obi-Wan's friends, was one of the best pilots Obi-Wan had known, and was apparently not dead. Leia had once added to that knowledge with the only very vague story her own father had told her about Anakin Skywalker: some story about being part of the first battle of the Clone Wars on Geonosis.

So, in short, Luke had no idea, and no amount of him dissecting what little he knew would give him the answers.

Leia seemed to come to the same conclusion. "How do you know he's not lying?"

Luke sighed, lowering his head. "The Force."

"Maybe the Force is wrong."

"I don't think it is." He shook his head. "The feeling I got when he told me...Leia, it's like the Force confirmed his stupid revalation as fact. Like how I know Tatooine has two suns. It was that certain." It still was, try as he had to change it.

Leia sat back down beside him, rubbing her temples. "So all that muttering you were doing on the Falcon that day, about Obi-Wan not telling you something?" He didn't realize she'd paid attention to that. Then again, he'd been pretty out of it. "That had to do with this?"

"Yes." He replied sourly. He still had yet to get answers about that, and try as he might, he couldn't get Obi-Wan to make an appearance to explain himself. Convenient, this Force Ghost thing.

"And you've told no one since you found out?"

"No. You're the first."

Leia sighed, running her hands through her long tresses. "Kriff, Luke. I can't believe you kept something like this from me."

"I know." He replied, wishing he could be shot out into the vacuum of space to escape the shame of this entire revelation and conversation. "I'm sorry."

Her eyes snapped to his, and she leaned forward, her jaw tightening as she shot back hotly, "No. Don't you dare be sorry for this. It's not your fault you were born to a murderous, powerful tyrant. You are not him. You're Luke Skywalker. A hero. One of the best pilots in the Rebellion." She paused. "You're my best friend."

His throat tightened. "But you, Han and Chewie… He tortured you all. Because of me. He froze Han in carbonite. Because of me. Because of what I am to him."

"We knew that was his reasoning anyway. He wasn't exactly subtle that he wanted you." Leia pointed out. "I just thought it was because you blew up the Death Star."

"Me too."

Leia frowned. "A lot more makes sense now. How he seems to be hyper focused on capturing you. How he's still only a few steps behind us, hunting us relentlessly, capturing more high ranking officers for information over killing them outright. Again, I thought it was just because he's a monster and that's what he does, but now…"

She was rambling now, making the connections that he'd long since thought about, over and over again. But then she stopped, a contemplative look over her face. "But that still doesn't make sense. He's Darth Vader. He doesn't have feelings of parental love or, well, any love at all."

He knew that. He'd thought that repeatedly. Yet hearing it aloud still sent a pang through his chest. Likely because he'd had such high expectations of the great Anakin Skywalker that now that he knew his father was the literal antithesis of his dreams...it hurt. Not to be wanted just because he was someone's child. Most kids who didn't know their birth parents dreamed about that bond.

Now his were crushed.

Leia continued. "I mean he cut off your hand. What does he even want you for, anyway?"

Luke felt himself flushing with shame. "Power." He admitted. "To help overthrow the emperor and rule at his side."

He thought Leia might have been horrified at what Vader had tried to convince him to do, but she snorted in disbelief. "You? Clearly, he knows nothing about you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that even though you may have a power I could never dream of having, you're not the kind of person to go over to the Dark Side and rule the galaxy."

She seemed so sure, and up until Bespin, he had been, too. But now? "Do you think Anakin Skywalker might have been like me at one point?" Luke asked quietly. A question that had haunted him. "If he could turn into Darth Vader, how do you know I can't turn into a monster either?"

Leia opened her mouth to deny it...then shut it. She couldn't say he wouldn't. Neither of them really understood how the Force really worked. Maybe it just took a hell of a lot of good persuading, or maybe it was something he was born with. He didn't feel evil, but maybe Vader didn't either.

The debate raged in him non stop, and it made his stomach turn every time he thought too much about it.

"We can't let that happen." Leia finally said, that calculating look she often got during strategy meetings on her face. "Even now, Vader raided the last place we landed." She hesitated. "I'm not supposed to tell, but High Command is worried there may no longer be any safe planet to set up home base."

That didn't make him feel better about the situation at all. "You won't as long as I'm here."

"And if he does catch up to us and he does capture you…" she trailed off. "That would spell disaster for the Rebellion. For the galaxy."

"I know." He knew too well.

She was silent for a long time. Then, her eyes hardened, and she leaned forward. "You need to run."

He blinked. "What?" He had not expected that response.

"You need to run. Far away." Her voice broke. "I've lost so much. I've lost friends. I lost my parents. I lost my people. I've lost soldiers under my command...and I've now lost Han. If I lost you...either because Vader figures out you're not useful to him and kills you, or worse, he manages to do something to turn you to the Dark Side…" She let out a sharp breath, and he was surprised to see tears in her eyes. When had he last seen Leia cry? "I can't. There's only so many I can lose, Luke. Please don't make me lose you too."

He hadn't realized she cared that much. Sure, they were close. If anyone ever threatened Leia, he'd die protecting her. But he hadn't ever really considered she felt the same way. They were both people who had fought and lost more than they'd ever gained.

And maybe they were tired of it.

"I couldn't abandon you all." Luke said. "I'm not a deserter."

"I know." Leia nodded. "But what if it was a mission?"

"I haven't been on a proper one since Bespin. How would you even convince High Command that I was ready? I mean look at me." He gestured to himself. He definitely didn't look fit for anything beyond the few flying missions he'd done with Rogue Squadron.

"I'm not planning on involving them." Leia replied carefully, watching him for his reaction.

He was speechless for a moment. "But...wouldn't that get you in trouble…?"

Leia shrugged. "Probably. But it's not like people haven't done it before. Generally as long as it's successful, it gets overlooked. And besides, I am a member of High Command. So, technically...I'm giving you permission." She crossed her arms over her chest, nodding curtly as if that settled it.

Out of all the ways he'd thought she would react to the news of his true parentage, this was not one of them. "But you know he'll just follow me, right?"

"Nope." Leia said confidently. "Because you're going to fake your death."

Luke almost stopped breathing. "I'm going to what?"

"Fake your death." She was so sure of herself, so matter of fact. "Look. Vader has always been involved in the war, but his primary goal before you showed up was hunting down rogue Jedi, right?"

"So I've been told…" He'd still been stuck on Tatooine while all of that was going on.

"So if you aren't here, and in fact, to his and everyone else's knowledge, you're dead, then he might ease up on the chase."

"That is a huge might." He pointed out. He could not believe they were having this conversation.

Or that he was starting to consider it.

"It is. But he himself may get called away by the Emperor, leaving other lackeys of the Empire to hunt us. While that is still a problem, it is significantly less of a problem than Darth Vader leading it. As much as I hate to admit it, Vader isn't stupid."

"Exactly. He's not stupid." He hesitated, remembering his encounter with Vader's voice in his head shortly after he'd been rescued. "But...Leia...there's something else. Vader...after you rescued me...he...um. Spoke to me. In my mind."

Now Leia hesitated. "Is that even possible?"



"No idea." It was pathetic how little he knew about the Force. He should have stayed with Yoda.

Leia contemplated that information, turning it over in her mind carefully. "Has it happened since?"


"Have you...felt him?"

His brows furrowed as he thought back over the last three months. "I have nightmares about him." He said. "But I think that's probably normal after...after what happened."


"I felt his looming presence when we were trying to escape. But once we hit hyperspace…" He dug deeper into his memories. The hours after Bespin had been a blur. He remembered Leia ordering him back into bed. He remembered her tending to him. He remembered Chewie coming in to visit, and Lando dropping in to tell Leia something. He didn't remember what. Artoo was at his side almost the entire time, beeping sadly. At one point he reached out his hand to pat the droids dome...only to remember he didn't have a hand anymore and he'd cradled it back against his chest.

But now...now he remembered that dark, overbearing presence staying with him, slowly growing thinner and thinner as though he were stretching away on a string until finally, at one point, it snapped. He'd breathed a big sigh of relief, and concentrated on the dire state of his health, and of the awful revelation that would change how he viewed himself forever.

Had that been his father?

He reached into himself, searching through the Force...but felt nothing. Just normal Luke, and the normal power that would answer his call if he asked for it.

"I don't feel him anymore." He finally said. "I haven't since that day."

Leia breathed a sigh. "Then this might work. It might not," she rushed to add when Luke opened his mouth to point out that neither of them could really know for sure, "but it's worth a try, I think."

"But how would we even…?"

"I don't know yet." She said. "I'd need to think about it, see what resources are available, all without bringing attention to what we're planning. For this to work, the galaxy needs to truly believe you're dead. Otherwise, Vader will just come after you."

Not a fun thought, running from Vader by himself. But it wasn't like he hadn't done that before. "I assume we'd have a plan for if that happened."


"And who would know I was still alive?"

"Me." Leia replied automatically, and when Luke waited, she shrugged. "I guess Artoo. He's shown himself to be pretty reliable in situations like this."

A mission without Artoo...he rarely went anywhere without the droid. But perhaps that would need to be part of the plan to make it believable. "No one else?"

Leia shook her head. "The more people who know, the more likely the plot is discovered."

He truly would be on his own out there then, minus whatever help Leia set up for him. "And what would I do once everyone thought I was dead? You said it would be a mission."

Leia smiled. "Oh, I would imagine a dead person could probably get a lot of things done without pesky Imperials shadowing his trail. You could learn more about the Force, become stronger in it so you could surprise Vader and the Emperor later with your invincible powers."

"I don't know if it works that way…"

"In fact, preparing yourself for a surprise attack on Vader and the Emperor when the time is right is actually a great idea." Leia grinned, apparently pleased with herself. "Maybe you could even help get Han back from wherever he ended up."

That wasn't a bad idea. He would still be useful. He would be doing things he actually really needed to do, things he couldn't do while he was still under orders from the rest of the fleet. Besides, Wedge could take over Rogue Squadron. The man had shown multiple times that he was more than capable of doing it.

Plus, he thought guiltily, selfishly; he could use the peace and quiet to straighten himself out. Get his head right. Get healthy again, both mentally and physically.

It really wasn't a bad idea. Dangerous...but it could work.

"What about you?" He asked, frowning with concern. "You said it yourself. You've lost so much. If I just up and leave…"

Suddenly, Leia threw her arms around his neck, holding him tightly. Instinctively, he hugged her back, tightening his grip on her. She was smaller than him, so she fit in his arms perfectly. It wasn't often that happened. "I will miss you every single day." She said into his ear. "But if this keeps you safe, while also giving us a badly needed advantage...it's worth it."

His chest squeezed. It wasn't like he hadn't left Leia before for long periods of time. But it was always hard. And this mission could take anywhere from months to even years. Was he really prepared for that?

Leia pushed away, though she didn't let go. Her hands gripped his shoulders, and she smiled sadly. Force, she really was beautiful. Even if he saw her more like a sister than anything else, he could recognize Leia for what she was, both inside and out. One day, he hoped he could be more like her.

Not like the father he'd once foolishly idolized. Leia was what a leader should be. Really, she was the type of person he'd actually want to be related to.

Not Vader.

"I'll need to think about how to do this." She said. "Give me a few days. And if you think I'll totally leave your pretend dead self alone while you're on this mission, you're sadly mistaken. I expect full, regular reports." She leveled a stern look at him.

He couldn't help it. He grinned. And for the first time in months, it felt real. "Yes, ma'am."

Woot! Another story up and going! Again, if you're a reader of The Assassins Blade or Second Chances, those chapters are currently being worked on. But my true passion lies with Vader, Luke fics, so I'm really excited to write this one. Dad Vader is best Vader.

Also, don't expect two chapter updates from me frequently. I only split them because it felt weird to combine them. I also have a habit of listing songs that inspire characters or scenes. Ignore if you wish, or suggest one yourself! Actually, I'm looking for a lot of new music right now...so that would be helpful.

The song for these last two chapters is Demons (feat. Jennel Garcia) by Boyce Avenue.