Thank you to my lovely Beta, SpellCleaver!

"I didn't think he'd ever leave," Han muttered as they all stared at the door. Vader had just stormed through, leaving Luke alone with Leia and Han.

Of course, it had been all Leia's doing. The moment he'd woken up and she'd seen he was coherent enough to converse, she'd turned on Vader, demanding 'alone time' like he'd had. Luke thought he would say no, but… Leia was Leia. After an explosive argument, she'd managed to win an hour for themselves.

"He's pissed," Luke commented dryly. He could practically feel his father sulking from wherever he'd holed up.

Darth Vader. Sulking. He had a feeling his father had all sorts of surprises waiting for him.

"I know," Leia replied, crossing the room to sit on the edge of the bed next to him. She took his good hand in her own, and he squeezed it.

Force, it felt so good to finally have her there. Her presence had been strong in the meditation dream, but now that they were together felt like their presences were intermingling, communicating in ways that no words could ever do justice. The emotion that flooded that bond...somehow was stronger than that of his bond with Vader. The strong sense of Leia, and her relief and joy at finally having him back, gave him a sort of energy boost that he sorely needed.

"Is he ever not angry?" Han sighed, pulling up a chair to sit with them. "It's a miracle I'm still alive."

"He must not hate you that much, then," Luke said.

"Oh, ha ha. Very funny." Han lifted a brow. Luke took a moment to absorb the sight of his best friend. He hadn't seen him since Hoth...well no, that wasn't true. He'd technically seen Boba Fett floating his carbonite body away, though he hadn't realized it at the time. "Anyway. Enough about Darth Moody. How ya feelin, kid?"

He'd asked him the exact same question, in the exact same way, with just enough lightness in his tone to conceal the real concern there. And his signature vaguely-insulting nicknames...he'd always found them mildly amusing, and it was good to hear him use one again. Even if Darth Moody was a nickname he was certain Vader would try to kill him for.

He shoved the last dark thought away. They were together again. It was...extremely different circumstances, but they were together. That's what mattered now.

"Like I was hit by a speeder," Luke replied honestly. He couldn't lift himself up, but he was propped up anyway using a bunch of those the stupid pillows.

Han's smile faltered. "That was probably the one thing that didn't happen to you."

"I know." Luke winced. "I'm sorry."

"What're you apologizing to me for, kid?" Han shrugged. "I mean, it's only me who constantly has to come save you...what are we on now, three you owe me?"

"No, we're still at two. I did try to come save you on Bespin."

Han made a show of thinking about it. "Fine. Two. And I'm going to make sure I call in the favors on something good."

Luke made a face. "If I let you up it to three, will you help me get these pillows off my bed?"

Han burst out laughing, and Leia shook her head.

"See, I told you he'd hate it," she said with a pointed look.

"Oh I had no doubt, Sweetheart."

"But you're the one who encouraged the behavior by counting the pillows." She reached under the cover and pulled one of the pillows out, holding it up to inspect it.

Damn. Vader didn't skimp on quality.

Luke was startled by her voice in his head. She wasn't looking at him though; she was still inspecting the pillow.

Had...she meant to communicate that way?

She finally put the pillow down. "If you knew, why didn't you help me try to stop him?"

There wasn't any indication she'd intended to...had he accidentally read her thoughts or was it her? He wanted to ask, but Han was...Han whenever he started talking Force stuff. He doubted he'd appreciate being stuck between them.

Han grinned, crossing his arms over his chest. "Because I thought it would be funny. Besides, it's not like it hurt him."

"Well, maybe I'll stuff your bed with twenty pillows and see how you like it," Luke mumbled. He'd bring it up with Leia later, he decided. He didn't want to accidentally hear something he wasn't supposed to.

"You'd have to get better first. Then you're more than welcome to do whatever you want...within reason, of course."

Luke stared at Han for a moment, then he couldn't help but curve his lips into a warm smile. "It's good to see you, Han. I'm… glad you're safe."

"Thanks...though I gotta say, it's really weird to have been saved by your dad. You know he murdered Jabba and his whole court?"

Having grown up knowing the horrible, vile things the Hutt did to ordinary, innocent people, he almost wished he'd been there to see it. "Leia told me… I imagine that's causing some chaos?"

Leia hesitated. "To be honest...I assume so, but I don't really know."

He frowned. "What do you mean, you don't know? I assumed you'd want to know something that important."

"Normally, yes, but my main focus since losing contact with you has been to find you. I haven't even bothered Vader for information on it."

Oh, I'm going to get a court martial for sure.

Luke winced as yet again, her voice was in his head.

"Well, from what little Prince Xizor told me, it sounds like the slug-shaped hole in the Outer Rim is causing some significant problems, especially since no one knows besides us who did it." Han gave her a look. "Also, I'm just going to drink in the moment for a second. I knew something you only guessed at."

Leia rolled her eyes. "I have had bigger problems to think about."

Like making sure Luke was alright.

Yeah. She definitely wasn't sending her thoughts to him on purpose.

"This isn't about me. Luke, how the hell did you even end up in that town, anyway?" She turned on him, her brows raised expectantly.

Luke sank into the pillows some. He'd dreaded that question. He suddenly wished the pillows would swallow him whole. "Um. It's going to sound really dumb."

Leia and Han shared a look. "I'm almost afraid to know the answer," she said, gripping his hand a little tighter.

He was afraid to tell her, so...that made the three of them.

"I...was exhausted. I hadn't really gotten any real rest in who knows how long, and I just wanted it to be done. Plus I… didn't want you and Vader to see me so injured, and I smelled terrible-I still do, probably. So when I heard the engines of a speeder bike… I couldn't help it." He didn't meet her eyes; his cheeks were hot. "Turns out it was a trap."

Again, that completely open bond between them transmitted her hurt and sadness before she even spoke. "How could you think I'd think that was dumb?" Reaching up, she brushed some of his hair away from his face.

Thank the Force. His temperature is finally normal.

Had...he had a fever? Vader hadn't told him that…

She continued, oblivious to what she'd let slip. "It's completely natural to feel that way. You said yourself, you were tired and already injured. I probably would have made a similar decision."

"Me, too," Han grumbled. "Hell, I don't think I woulda made it past the first week. You and that Skywalker luck, kid."

Luke let out a breath of relief. "I thought about both of you a lot. Actually, I kept thinking I was proving your luck theory wrong, Han."

"The fact that you're here at all proves me right," Han insisted. "You didn't see yourself when Vader carried you back. I thought you were dead. "

"You very nearly were," Leia added softly. Painfully.

Luke absorbed that quietly. He must have looked terrible to have rattled Han

"The pirates are dead," It wasn't a question.


"The monster?"

"Also dead."

Thank the Force. He was sure that thing would haunt his nightmares for years to come. Maybe Vader would tell him how he killed it...then again, Vader wasn't much of a storyteller.

He tried to push the thought of the monster's claws and teeth out of his head.

Maybe it was for the best that he didn't know the details.

"...did he get all of the pirates?"

Leia frowned, and he not only felt her concern but heard, That's not like Luke to wish death on everyone...

Luke looked down in shame. He hadn't meant it that way. He added, "I may have...used my relationship with Vader to try to bluff my way free."

He may have been Vader's son, but he didn't wish death on most people. Hell, he still felt guilty for the innocent lives that had been on the Death Star. It was a war and if he hadn't, the Rebellion and Leia would have been lost, but he still had plenty of sleepless nights over it.

"Damn, and I thought I took risky bluffs." Han whistled.

Luke smiled ruefully. "I learned from the best."

"I'm sure Vader got whoever knew about it, even if he didn't get everyone," Leia said, and even without their wide-open connection he could tell she was trying to reassure him despite the odds against them. "We...we could feel you were in bad shape before we even found you, so I think his main concern was just clearing immediate danger so we could get you safe."

His smile faltered. "I guess we'll find out."

He waited for her to tell him what he already knew; this could lead to disastrous consequences. They should be preparing for that eventuality, maybe even call Vader back in there to plan… but she shook her head instead. "Well. I promised you an exchange of information when you got back."

Despite it all, a flash of excitement managed to make him temporarily forget about the potential danger he'd put them in. He tried to sit up but stopped, groaning as pain shot through his abdomen and ribs. Leia and Han were instantly up, pushing him gently back down against the pillows, their expressions filled with worry.

Seconds later, he felt the cold, searching presence of Vader. What is going on?! Why are you in pain?!

Luke winced. His father was the most demanding person he'd ever met.

He forced himself to take even, slow breaths before answering. Each second he didn't answer though, he could feel his father's terror growing... I'm fine. I just moved accidentally.

Vader only barely calmed. What did I tell you about moving?! Luke was about to respond, but- If it happens again, I'm coming back, hour time limit be damned. Understood?

Luke fought the urge to sigh. That would only do exactly what would bring Vader back in there. Understood.

Then before he could comment on more of his life choices, he cut the communication off.

"Please don't hurt yourself," Leia admonished, an odd look on her face. "And don't bring Vader back in here."

"He communicated with you too?"


Han frowned, glancing between them. "Wait. He just...did some kind of voodoo mind speaking or something?"

Luke couldn't help but snort. Voodoo. Where did Han get these things? "He felt my pain and checked in, yes."

His friend frowned. "Um. I didn't realize the mind reading was real. I… should stop thinking...certain things around him, shouldn't I?"

Luke wasn't sure what he meant by certain things, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know, but Leia stepped in before he could decide to ask. "Han, could you go get Artoo? I want to show Luke something."

They met gazes, and Luke could have sworn they were communicating on an entirely different level, before Han nodded. "Sure." He grinned at Luke. "Don't go anywhere."

"Ha ha. So funny." He rolled his eyes.

Leia waited until Han had left before she let out a sigh, her shoulders drooping. "Please. I know you're reckless and prone to danger. But please don't ever scare me like that again."

"Prone to danger?" Luke raised a brow. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Her eyes narrowed, and he immediately realized his mistake. "Let's list, shall we? There was that monster in the trash compactor on the Death Star."

Oh. He'd almost forgotten about that one.

"Then there was the time-"

"Okay, okay, I get it." He took her hand again. "I know. I'm sorry."

Leia let out a sigh, shaking her head. Her other hand went to cover both of theirs. "It's not your fault. It's…" She trailed off. They'd already been over this in their meditation dream, and they both knew it was likely that they wouldn't budge on their stances over whose fault it was. "Just...if I can do anything to make you more comfortable, or if you need anything or," she paused, rolling her eyes, "or Vader is driving you nuts, I'm here to help."

He didn't think he'd want to witness more explosive arguments like the one he'd seen earlier, but he appreciated the thought anyway. "I'm glad you're here Leia...I shouldn't be. But I am."

She frowned. "Why shouldn't you?"

"Well...I know how you feel about Vader…" he broke off, not sure how to phrase it delicately. More so than most people, Leia had been through a lot at the hands of the Empire, let alone their father. On some level he understood, but he doubted Leia would ever get to the point where she'd willingly want to stay.

What would she say if he told her he was willingly staying?

He looked at her, the words on the top of his tongue. I'm staying with our father. Even if she left...he didn't want her to leave, but even if she did, he wouldn't stop her. But would she leave? After everything? And as obvious as it was that she and Vader had issues with one another, he also couldn't help but notice there was a connection between them now.

Would she even want to leave?

No. She was Leia. She did her duty to the Rebellion. He doubted even Vader would stop her.

Maybe he needed to prepare for that eventuality. But...not today. Today, he was exhausted, and he didn't think he had the energy to bring up such an emotional topic.

"I'm not going to worry about that now. What matters is that you get better." She was so confident and firm, he almost believed she wasn't worried...but their open connection said otherwise.

"I...think I should also let you know that I'm hearing some of your thoughts. Accidentally, I swear," he rushed to add when he felt her flash of alarm.

She hesitated, a strange look passing over her face. "No, I...that doesn't surprise me."

It didn't really surprise him either. They were twins, afterall. "And he didn't teach you how he does that...blocking thing?"

"When he's shielding his own emotions from us?"


Leia frowned. "No. He didn't want to teach me at all."

Now that was a surprise. That had been one of Vader's main objectives on Bespin. Why wouldn't it be the same with Leia?

At his questioning look, Leia expounded. "He had a vision. In it, I was a Sith. He and I were fighting, and you tried to stop us, and we accidentally killed you. He thought not training me would keep that future from happening."

His mouth went dry. She said it so normally, so unconcerned, like there was no reason for either of them to dwell on it and Vader was, as usual, overreacting. Sure, it was Leia... she was the most committed person to the Rebellion he'd ever met. And he'd met plenty of dedicated Rebels. But that didn't sound like something to brush off, either.

Leia rolled her eyes when he continued to stare. "Don't tell me you're worried about it too."

"I'm not unconcerned , yeah. Maybe not in the way Vader is, but Force visions aren't something to ignore, either."

"What, have you had one before?"

"Yes. On Dagobah." He suppressed a shudder. "It wasn't literal. But it had me facing off against Darth Vader. It was before I knew who he was, and when I cut his head off, the mask blew off to reveal my own face."

"Well...I suppose in retrospect that sort of makes sense," Leia said, making a face.

"Yeah. Now I understand it. But at the time I was pretty confused and horrified."

"Remind me to never have a Force dream, ever. They sound terrible."

He laughed….and quickly stopped as more pain erupted in his torso. Again, Vader's presence immediately zeroed back on him, but by then the pain was gone and he sent a reassuring feeling down their bond. Hopefully that would be enough to calm the storm that was his father. "I...don't think that's how it works. But I'll remind you."

"Good." Again, Leia reached up and brushed his hair out of his face, her touch gentle. "Maybe you and I could convince Vader to teach us some non-Dark Side things together."


"And if he refuses to teach me, then you'll teach me when he's not around. Deal?" She grinned.

It sounded pretty messed up when she put it that way. Like Vader favored him over Leia, but Luke didn't think that was the case. And yet he also wasn't sure Leia would appreciate Vader caring for her, not when she already had parents she loved and obviously favored herself. But it felt important to say, so he opened his mouth…

Just as the door opened and in rolled Artoo, followed by Threepio and Han.

Artoo's dome swiveled to him and he let out a pleased squeal, rolling faster to the side of the bed.

"Oh, Master Luke! You're awake! Thank the Maker!" Threepio said, lifting his stiff arms towards the ceiling.

"He insisted he come," Han explained, rolling his eyes. "He wouldn't shut up until I let him."

"Well of course I came, I too am most concerned for the young Master's health!"

Luke broke out into a wide smile. He'd missed this. The droids were the same as they'd ever been, and Han still pretended he didn't like them despite the fact that he obviously did. Carefully, with his good hand, he let go of Leia and reached out. Artoo met him halfway, and he touched the cool, smooth metal of his dome. It was so familiar, so normal, that he felt himself relax some.

"I missed you both too," he assured them.

"You simply must get better, Master Luke. What will we do without you? Everything has been so dreadful since that Darth Vader-"

"Artoo," Leia interrupted. She too was smiling. "Could you play that recording you showed me?"

The recording. Yes, she'd mentioned a recording of their parents in their meditation dream. He would have sat up to get a better view...but he'd learned his lesson twice, and he didn't think Vader would be in a good mood if he burst in to find them watching the recording. So he forced himself to stay still as Artoo beeped affirmatively and his projector lit up.

A couple stood there, speaking to one another. Even if Leia hadn't told him who they were, he would have recognized...well, at least his father. As odd as it was to see him for who he truly was, as the hero Jedi those in the Rebellion had told him stories of, he would have recognized him anywhere. One look and he knew. He even looked almost exactly like him. Except way taller and filled out.

In all of his imaginings growing up, his father had looked something like this. Not exactly, of course, but...close.

But it was the woman who drew Luke's eye. The woman he'd never known.

His mother.

She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Her dark brown curls fell around her like a waterfall. Her dark eyes were filled with concern, and yet there was so much life. She was soft, too, at least she seemed that way compared to his father. And she was short-taller than Leia, but still so small. Not enough to appear fragile. No, he could see beyond her concern was an inner strength that exuded from every movement she made.

Padme Amidala. That was her name. And now, he had a face, and a sweet voice, to put to the name.

This was his family. Leia, his twin. His incredibly complicated father, and a beautiful angel of a mother.

As obviously dysfunctional as it was…

In that moment, he'd never felt more complete.

They were talking about a dream. A dream in which, apparently, his father saw her die. He mentioned a few other details Luke understood, like his own mother's death and the Jedi Council not knowing about their relationship, but what struck him was how desperate he sounded.

As desperate as he'd sounded in his mind on Arorua, when he'd begged him to stay.

Then there were the words that Leia had told him.

" Our baby is a blessing."

He'd known that, but hearing his father say it in another lifetime…

There was silence when the recording stopped. Leia's brow was furrowed as if she were going over the details again in her mind, while Han outright stared at the spot where the vision had been playing. Finally, it was him who spoke.

" That's Vader?"

"Yes." Leia sighed.

"Damn he...uh. Well. Talk about a change in lifestyle."

Leia shot him a glare, but Luke ignored the comment. He was still focused on what he'd seen. It felt like a puzzle piece he'd been missing his whole life was finally snapped into place.

He imagined another lifetime, what might have been. Growing up with this sister, hopefully on a world other than Tatooine. They would have had each other's backs. They probably would have driven both of their parents mad. But whenever they'd come home from an afternoon of play, their mother would be there, waiting with open arms, and she'd clutch them both to her. Then maybe he'd convince their father to tell them stories about his adventures, and they'd work on droids and ships together. He'd teach them how to fly and…

And it was a fantasy.

That would never be their life. He intended to make the best of what he'd been given, but he couldn't help the longing and pain at the glimpse of the life they could have had together.

"It makes sense why the vision he had about you bothers him so much," he finally said. He wouldn't share those feelings. Not verbally, but from the way Leia watched him carefully, he thought she might have sensed it anyway.

"Vision?" Han frowned. "What vision?"

"I'll tell you later," Leia assured him.

"First his mother dies after a vision he had, then our wonder he's taking it literally."

"It's also really weird to even imagine he had a mother…" Han grumbled, earning him another glare from Leia.

"Did he tell you about her?" Luke asked, deciding to ignore Han's comment...though to be fair, it wasn't the worst thing people had said about Vader's nature. He'd heard far worse within the Rebellion.

She shook her head. "He told you?"

"Yeah. Not about the death part, though. Uncle Owen told me that part. They were slaves on Tatooine."

Both Han and Leia seemed taken aback by that.

"What, Vader?" Han asked, stunned.

"Yes… I uh, wouldn't mention it to him. It seems a touchy subject."

"Too late." Han reached up and began unconsciously rubbing his neck, his gaze faraway as if lost in thought.

Luke didn't need to ask what had happened.

"Well. Anyway. The Jedi found and freed him, but they left his mother behind. My...well, I guess my step grandfather freed her and they fell in love and got married later."

"They just...left her? Really?" Leia asked. She looked a bit pale, and when he probed their bond, he could feel her horror and pity. Feelings he knew Vader wouldn't appreciate.

Don't let Father know you feel that way, he sent to her. She jumped a bit, flushing, but nodded. Barely, so as not to tip off Han that they'd shared communication telepathically. It wasn't a secret, but Han could be vocal.

"That was my question, too. All I got was a rant about how the Jedi weren't as good as I thought they were." He frowned, remembering how Ben had purposely omitted important information about his own father in the hopes that he'd...what, murder Vader? That was what it seemed, at least.

"You...said your uncle told you how she died?" Leia pressed when he didn't continue.

"Oh. Yeah, a bit. Apparently she was taken and killed by Tusken Raiders. He used to tell me that story mainly to keep me from wandering too far from the farm or from going out at night."

"Was...Vader there?"

He hesitated. "Father probably was, yes. Though I'm just guessing. My uncle tried to avoid the subject."

For obvious reasons, apparently.

Leia's lips pressed together at the title, but she made no further comment on it. "Well...yeah, I see your point about the vision thing then."

"Again, what vision?" Han sighed.

"I think it best to stop asking questions. They'll only confuse you more, I'm afraid," Threepio told him seriously. Beside him, Artoo made a noise that sounded an awful lot like laughing.

Luke smiled yet again, appreciating the normallacy his droids brought. "Well. Thanks for showing me." His throat tightened as unexpected tears sprang to his eyes. "'s good to finally have faces to put to our parents."

Leia's expression softened. "Padme was a good woman. I knew who she was before I knew her as our mother."

He recalled Vader mentioning that she'd been a senator. It only made sense that Leia had at least heard of her. "Can you tell me more about her?"

He'd heard so much of his father...and there was still much to learn about him. But he knew so much less about the woman who'd given them life, he suddenly had an urge to know as much as he possibly could.

Leia smiled, nodded, and began. No one dared interrupt her as she did so, and Luke hung on to her every word.

Finally another chapter up! The trio and the droids are back together again! And Vader does not know what he's created...he's outnumbered now ;)
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