He'd made it. Barely, but he'd made it.

He worked to calm his racing heart as his son turned an unconscious Piett over, calling his name. Vader coils sense his terror-terror of him and the Emperor dead at his feet-and concern for his fallen friend. His hands were cuffed and attached to a chain on the wall, and Vader's fists clenched at the sight.

If his son wasn't already obviously terrified out of his mind, he'd turn around and proceed to slaughter the entire precinct for the injustice they'd done to his son.

But he doubted that would win him any points with his kind-to-a-fault son.

"Luke." He stepped forward, over the cooling body of the Emperor, and Luke's gaze jerked upwards even as he fell backwards into the wall, staring at him as though he were a rancor ready to tear into him.

Damn his vocorecorder and its inability to sound gentle.

Still, he tried anyway. "Luke. I am going to release you, and you are going to come with me. You will not speak to anyone if you value your life."

His words had the exact opposite effect on his son. He looked like he was going to either start screaming or start throwing up.

"I promise all will be explained when we get to the Devastator-"

That got a different reaction.

"Devastator?" Luke interrupted, frowning in confusion. He looked down at Piett. "You're…? Does Firmus report to you?"

Vader wasn't sure what the captain had told Luke already, but he nodded. "Yes."

Luke's brows furrowed as he again looked at the captain, and for the first time confusion outweighed his fear. "You're- you're dating Firmus?"

Out of all the things he'd expected Luke to say to him when they first met, that was not it.

Luke flushed red, and he seemed to realize what he'd just asked Darth Vader, because the fear replaced the confusion. "I...he and I just...had a conversation...I think I probably misinterpreted-just... nevermind."

Vader couldn't think of any conversation that he'd had with Luke that would have led to that...but he didn't have time to get to the bottom of that misconception. Not now.

But he would definitely be addressing that issue.

He pointed at the shackles on Luke's wrists and unlocked them with the Force. When they clattered to the ground, Luke yelped, again jumping back as though he'd burned him. "You are fine. I just used the Force to release you."

Luke's brows furrowed. "Force…?"

He was genuine. If...or he supposed, when Kenobi's ghost showed up again, he'd have words about how the Jedi had failed his son by allowing him to remain ignorant of the Force. Then again, he supposed he'd have an enemy in a son if Kenobi had talked to him...so maybe he'd thank Kenobi instead.

As if.

"We must go, Luke."

Luke stared at him, then back at Piett, a determined expression settling over his face before he shook his head resolutely. "No. Not until Firmus gets medical attention."

Vader glanced at his captain, hesitating. Piett had proven to be more than capable and competent. Perhaps more so than the entirety of his crew. And it would seem he'd done exactly as ordered and protected Luke despite being vastly outmatched by the Emperor…

"I'm not leaving him." Luke repeated, and though Vader could still sense his fear, he glared at him with defiance.

Vader straightened a bit, then nodded. "I will call for a medic before we leave. But we must go, now." When Luke looked like he was about to argue, Vader added, "You have my word, but if I must drag you out myself, I will."

He felt another spike of fear from his son, but the message was apparently received. Luke stood, glancing back at Piett, and approached him like he was approaching a bomb about to go off.

Vader didn't have time to fix this. He needed to get Luke somewhere safe. So he grabbed Luke's upper arm and pulled him from the cell and began heading back into the main room of the precinct. He completely ignored the bodies of the Red Guard outside the door, but Luke stumbled, and he felt the boy's horror roll through him. "They would have killed you." He told him quickly.

"But why?" Luke demanded. "Why was the Emperor here?! Why are you-?"

Luke was starting to get hysterical again. Vader pulled him closer, his grip tightening. "I told you I will explain later. Do not say a word."

They entered the main room where a bunch of law enforcement officers were staring at all of the stormtroopers that had accompanied him here. They were in the process of taking statements. They'd already apprehended the Rebels that had apparently been captured, and they were long gone, already on their way to an interrogation cell on the Devastator. Vader headed straight to the Commander in charge.

"I am taking the boy." Vader snapped when he reached them. "You will strike his criminal record immediately."

The commander frowned, looking at Luke. "But, Lord Vader, he's suspected to have murdered-"

"He did not." He felt Luke's eyes boring into his head as he spoke. "Both were killed under direct orders from me. They were a threat to the Empire. I sent a memo, but evidently your department is lacking in communication with the proper Imperial authorities."

The commander paled. "I-yes, my lord." He hesitated, still looking at Luke.

"Is there still a problem, Commander?" He challenged.

"...Well, we also found him with the Rebels…"

Instinctively, Vader's grip on Luke tightened, and his son made a noise of pain. He lightened the hold...barely.

Rebel. His son, a Rebel?

No. He didn't believe it. It didn't add up. Luke seemed genuinely dedicated to his studies. But then, why was he found with them?

"That is none of your concern. I will get to the bottom of the matter myself." He glanced back at Luke, who'd gone deathly pale.

"In the meantime," he continued, "The Emperor is dead. I am your Emperor now."

The entire room seemed to freeze at that, turning to stare at him.

"I...what?" Now it was the commander who'd gone pale. "H-how…?"

"It would seem, in the Emperor's elderly age, that he'd gone mad. When I arrived, he tried to kill me and the boy. Captain Piett courageously stepped in to defend Luke and was grievously injured while doing so. Unfortunately the Emperor was beyond reasoning and he impaled himself on my lightsaber."

This wasn't the story he'd had planned, but it was what he had to work with. Besides, who would believe a bunch of small time law enforcement officers from a backwater planet anyway?

No. He was in charge now. There would be no one between him and the throne.

"...Impaled…?" The commander didn't sound completely convinced.

"Unfortunately so." Vader tilted his head. "Are you suggesting I'm lying, commander?"

The man hesitated. "I...no, my lo-your majesty."

"Good." He pointed at his most trusted troopers. "Clean the mess up." Then he pointed at a few others. "Call a medic and have Captain Piett transferred to my personal med bay."

As the troopers moved to follow orders, he turned back to the commander. "If you know what's good for you, you'll stay out of their way. It's above your paygrade."

He didn't wait for a response before he continued on, dragging Luke behind him.


Luke remained silent as they rode the transport back up to the Devastator. Vader was certain he'd start asking questions about the Star Destroyer the moment they stepped aboard, but as Vader led him through the hangar towards his private wing of the ship, Luke said nothing. He didn't even look around. He kept his eyes on his boots as they walked.

That...was concerning. He knew for a fact that Luke had always wanted to come aboard a star destroyer. Now he was here and he acted like he was going to his doom.

Then again, he had yet to actually explain anything, so he could only imagine what Luke assumed.

But he'd clear that up. The moment was upon them. It was time to tell his son the truth.

And...to Vader's surprise, he was actually nervous. He hadn't had to explain himself in so many years. He hadn't even dreamed that this moment would be possible-him having a son, getting to tell him that he was their father…

But what if he didn't want him to be his father?

He almost faltered in his steps.

That...was a very real possibility. For so many reasons, the least being that he was Darth Vader. The galaxy viewed him more of a phantom than anything else. Luke probably had heard wild rumors-some true, most not.

He hadn't considered this before.

It was too late, though. They were sweeping into his personal wing of the ship, and he was pulling him into a conference room he knew would be private. No bugs to listen in-

Though the person who would have listened in was now dead.

"Sit." He pointed to a chair and finally let Luke go.

Luke immediately began rubbing his arm, frowning as he looked around. "This...isn't a cell…?"

"Of course not."

Luke's brows furrowed, but he nevertheless sat down, facing Vader as he stood there, pondering where to even begin.

"Why would you think Captain Piett was dating me?"

That seemed like a good place to start. At least, he thought so. Luke frowned, like he'd asked something he hadn't expected.

"We...had a conversation. I asked him the questions you're supposed to ask to tell if someone is in an abusive relationship and he said yes to like most of them."

Vader wracked his brain, trying to remember a conversation like that. There was none that he could recall. "I think you are dreaming. I have no intention of dating anyone. I am sure the Captain will make a nice dating companion to someone else."

Luke snorted. "I think I might be dreaming now, but I definitely didn't dream that."

"I do not recall such a conversation."

"Recall?"

Oh, this was complicated.

"Captain Piett is not completely who he says he is."

"Yeah, I think I figured that out. I didn't even know he was a captain. What is he, ISB?" Luke crossed his arms over his chest in an attempt to look annoyed, but Vader could tell his fear level hadn't abated at all.

"No. Not ISB. He is just a captain."

"Just a captain? Working for you? Why would you even take an interest in me?!"

"It was not intentional. Believe me." Vader rolled his eyes. "You were the one who contacted me first."

Now Luke looked confused. "You?"

"Yes. Who exactly do you think Firmus Piett is?"

Luke looked like he was completely lost. "I...I mean I thought he was a maintenance worker who was in an emotionally abusive relationship with his boss. I thought he needed a normal friend...but then he started acting weird and he had all this money and he started getting a bit nosey so I thought he might have been ISB or something-"

"Why would you think ISB would have any interest in you?" Technically, the fact that Luke was Force sensitive and his son would have definitely qualified him for interest from ISB, but Vader knew Luke didn't know those things yet.

"I don't know, but suddenly the Emperor shows up, starts frying poor Firmus with blue lightning from his fingers, then you show up and now I really don't know what the hell he got me into! Why am I here?! If you knew I didn't murder Craig and my landlord, and in fact you apparently-holy crap, Firmus killed them, didn't he?!" Luke was breathing fast, and he lowered his head into his hands. "What the hell is happening?!"

If Vader could have sighed, he would have. It seemed he'd overdone it, and now his son was suffering. "Firmus Piett was undercover, but not because of you. I was the actual student attending college."

Luke slowly lifted his head to stare.

"I did not want to attend as myself. I did not want special treatment from the professors. Captain Piett happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I decided to use his name to enter into college."

Luke's face had drained of color.

"When it became apparent that the stupid school required in-person testing, I sent the Captain undercover to pose as me. Everything he has said and done has been under my direction. When Captain Piett called to tell me you were demanding answers...I did not necessarily think you had figured everything out, but I thought maybe you might have started to figure it out."

"No!" Luke's voice was an octave higher than normal. "No, I literally never would have guessed that Darth Vader was apparently attending school through a proxy! You literally stole Firmus' identity and then wrapped him up in the craziest scheme I have ever heard! Why would you even bother going to school in the first place?! You could probably just ask for a degree and get one!"

Though Vader didn't like that Luke was obviously freaking out, he was mildly impressed that it didn't stop him from saying exactly what he thought. When was the last time someone did that to him? Even Piett was careful with his words around him. It was refreshing, almost.

But he didn't get a chance to respond.

Kenobi picked that time to show up.

"Yes, why did you decide to impersonate a man to enter a school you didn't need to go to?" Kenobi drawled, his arms crossed. "Tell him."

Vader whirled to give Kenobi a piece of his mind, but he was interrupted by Luke's scream and a bang. When he turned back, he found Luke had fallen out of his chair and was staring at Kenobi like he'd seen...well, a ghost.

"I-I-I know-Ben K-K- why are you a ghost?!" Luke stuttered, pointing at Kenobi in horror.

"Oh, another great question, Darth!" Kenobi gestured to Luke. "Why am I dead?"

"You know exactly-"

"Is this because I told Firm- you where he was?!" Luke was gasping for air, eyes wide, and Vader was horrified to see tears starting to run down his cheeks.

"I...it may have given me confirmation…" Vader slowly replied, not sure they were the right words for this situation.

"You had no idea before." Kenobi rolled his eyes.

"You deserved it! You cut my limbs off and watched me burn-!"

"You really need to let that go."

"Do you have any idea how much pain I am in constantly?! I haven't had solid food in eighteen years!"

"What the hell is wrong with you two?!" Luke interrupted, and when Vader and Kenobi looked back at him, he was staring at both of them like he wasn't sure what to think anymore. "Cutting off limbs? Letting people burn to death?! Stealing someone's identity?! Why are you even in school?! And why am I involved in any of this?!"

Kenobi looked at Vader like go on, tell him. Vader clenched his teeth.

"I was...bored."

Luke didn't seem to like that answer. He looked at him like he was insane. "You were bored?! Shouldn't you be one of the busiest men in the galaxy?!"

"It does not mean I am not bored with it. I figured getting an engineering degree would be interesting. So far, it has been." He shrugged.

Luke's expression didn't change. "Again. Why am I even still involved?!"

"To be fair, you contacted me first."

"I am seriously regretting that, believe me."

Vader winced.

Now the moment of truth.

"You remember the day you got into that fight with Craig?"

"You mean the fight I didn't need to get into apparently? Sure."

"Yes. That one. You threw Craig like he was nothing."

"Yeah, but I told Firm-you, it's probably-"

"It is not because you are part alien." Vader rolled his eyes. "You are the son of Anakin Skywalker. Who was a Jedi."

Luke frowned. "I...no, he was a navigator on a spice freighter."

Vader stared at Luke. Then slowly turned to Kenobi, who was stroking his beard as he took this all in. "A spice freighter?!"

"Don't look at me. That was what his uncle told him." Kenobi shrugged.

"Wait, so he wasn't-? You do know my father!" Luke stood up, placing his hands on the table. "I knew you were lying!"

"He was not a spice freighter navigator." Vader swore he'd have words with his step brother if he ever ran into him again. "He was a Jedi. Then he saw through the lies of the Jedi and became me."

Luke blinked, his words registering.

"I am your father."

He continued to stare at him. Then, he too looked at Kenobi.

"He is." Kenobi confirmed, though he didn't sound like he liked it.

"Kenobi kidnapped you from me when you were a baby. I thought you were dead until you told me who your father was." Vader glared at his old mentor.

"Kidnapping is such a strong word-"

"You kidnapped him!"

"You were busy destroying the Jedi order."

"No, at that time I was specifically recovering from almost being burned alive!"

Luke slowly sat down, staring at him in total horror.

"So that is why you are here. That is why you got the scholarship money...though I did explicitly tell you to apply."

"Y-you…" Luke slumped back in his chair. "You're...you broke into my apartment?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I wanted to find out more about you."

Luke smacked himself in the face. "You could have just told me the truth! The moment you found out who I was you could have told me everything!"

"I could not risk the Emperor finding out you were alive. He would have killed you."

"Is that why Craig is dead?!"

"Yes."

"Because of me?!"

"Because he had too much information. He would have talked about what you did, and you'd have had the Emperor on your doorstep much sooner than you did, and I would not have been there to save you." What was so difficult to understand about that? Vader didn't know.

"And why is my landlord dead?!"

"The conditions he kept you in were deplorable-"

"You could have solved that in literally any other way!" Luke lifted his hands up in the air. "Who else have you killed because of me?!"

Vader thought about it for a moment. Killing people was a constant in his life. It was hard to keep track. "That's it."

"Well I hope you're happy! You got me evicted and investigated for murder!"

"Yes, I do regret that. However, why were you with the Rebels? Why did you run from Captain Piett?"

"I was trying to get off planet before I could get arrested and figured they'd have the resources! Which again, I wouldn't have had to do if you'd just told me the truth!"

Vader winced. He'd literally driven his son into the Rebellion's arms. If Piett hadn't stopped him from going, he might have lost his son forever. He might have become his son's enemy. Who knows what would have happened had that occurred.

He didn't want to think about it.

"Luke-"

"No!" He again stood up, glaring. Again, tears were falling down his cheeks. Angry tears. "I didn't ask for any of this! I literally just wanted to get my degree in engineering! I didn't want to befriend the second most powerful man in the galaxy! I didn't want to be lied to about my father!"

"What would you have done had I told you?"

"I don't know but at least I would have known what was happening and have had some control over my life!" Luke slammed a hand on the table. "I want to leave! Now!"

"Luke," Kenobi interrupted. "As much as I...don't love that you found out this way-"

"No!" He pointed at Kenobi. "Both of you are crazy! Both of you have played a hand at almost destroying my life! I am going back down to Eriadu and I am going to at the very least finish my semester!"

Though Luke's words stung, Vader couldn't help but scoff. "Luke, I don't think you understand. You are my son. I just killed the Emperor. I am the Emperor now."

"Yes, I had a front row seat to that!" Luke rolled his eyes.

"But that makes you heir to the Empire."

Luke's expression went completely blank. Sweat broke out on his forehead. He just.

Stared.

And continued to stare.

When Vader tried to probe his feelings, he was hit with a hurricane of emotions.

"Luke…?" He tried.

Luke didn't respond. Didn't move. Just stared.

"Are you alright?" Kenobi attempted, and Vader heard the concern in his voice.

At least they were united on Luke's wellbeing. Not that Vader would ever admit it.

Finally, Luke closed his eyes, sucked in a deep breath, and in an eerily quiet voice, whispered, "I am going back to Eriadu. I am finishing my semester. And I will tell you what I decide when the semester is done."

Vader frowned. "Did you not hear me?"

Luke opened his eyes, and there was pure steely determination in his eyes. "I said," his voice didn't raise. Not anymore. It maintained that eerie calm. "I am finishing my semester. I don't want to hear or see either of you until I'm done."

Vader tried to push away the wave of anger that rose up at the words. "I am the emperor and your father. You do not get to dictate-"

"I do when you have put me through hell." Luke clenched his jaw. "I am finishing my semester."


Vader tried for hours to convince Luke to change his mind. He had half a mind to ignore Luke's desires. But everytime he said anything, Luke's eerie calmness didn't change one bit.

By the end of it, he was worried he'd broken Luke.

He stormed from the room frustrated beyond belief. How could Luke not see he was being completely unreasonable?! Did he hate him that much that he wanted nothing to do with him?! He was his father. Didn't he say he'd wanted him to come find him as a child? He'd once called himself Luke Skywalker in the hopes of that happening!

He stopped in the empty corridor.

Was he too much of a monster? Had he truly gone too far? He didn't really understand where he'd gone too far.

He...found himself wishing Piett were conscious so that he could ask him where he thought he'd gone wrong.

But instead of Piett, he only had stupid Kenobi, who appeared next to him, shaking his head.

"Luke needs time to process."

"He can do it on the Devastator." Vader growled. "He likes star destroyers!"

"Not when he's being held prisoner on one."

"He's not a-"

"Isn't he?" Kenobi sighed. "You're not letting him leave. Even if you put him in a nice room, it's still just a fancy cell."

"I can't just let him go!"

"You need to. If you want Luke to want to be around you, you need to."

Vader glared at the ghost. "You'll use the time to brainwash him against me!"

"He doesn't want to see me either. I'm pretty sure he doesn't love that I wasn't truthful to him either."

"And kidnapped him!"

He expected Kenobi to deny it, but instead he smiled sadly and nodded. "And yes. Kidnapped him. He may love his aunt and uncle, but that doesn't change the fact that his entire life has been a lie. A lie you continued when you found out he was alive."

"I had to protect him from the Emperor!"

"And now he is no longer under threat. No one knows except for you and Captain Piett that Luke is your son. No one will be looking for him. He will be safe on Eriadu for another month and a half."

Vader wished Kenobi didn't have any good points. It made hating him harder to deal with. "What if he decides he hates me?"

"Then you will figure that out when you get there." Kenobi shrugged. "But you know Luke somewhat by now. Does he seem the type to hate people?"

"He's my son. I'm sure he'll find a way." Vader let the sarcasm drip in his voice.

"He is also Padme's son." Kenobi paused. "She believed there was good in you. Til the very end."

The words were like knives in his heart. "Stop-"

"Her last words were to tell me there was good in you." He hesitated. "That may be why...I'm not telling Luke to run. It may be why...I have some hope for the future."

Vader felt like he'd been hit in the face with a club. He wanted to sneer and mock Kenobi for his sudden newfound hope...but Padme believed that? There wasn't good in him...there...wasn't…

Was there?

"Let Luke go." Kenobi said. "Use your newfound reign to try to do some good...even better, give the Senate power again."

"That will never happen."

Kenobi shrugged. "I had to try. Point is, if Luke sees you are trying, because try as he might, he can't ignore the Emperor, then maybe he'll decide to give you another chance."

Vader again wanted to protest and refuse to let Luke out of his sight...but Kenobi was again, unfortunately right.

Luke was in that conference room broken. He kept repeating the same thing over and over again. He'd done that to him. Though most of his intentions, this time, had been well-meaning. It had still messed Luke up.

He'd been so bright and happy. Now his Force signature was muted and in pain.

Everything in him told him to not let go. To keep Luke there and force him to change his mind.

But…

He turned on his heel and headed back to the conference room.


Luke remained silent the entire way back to the hangar. He remained silent as Vader relayed his instructions to a trusted pilot to return him to safety. He remained silent as Vader turned to him and tried one last time to get him to say something. Anything.

"If it will make you feel better, I will match your scholarship fund and donate to another person in need." He said. Luke just stared at him, his lips tightening into a thin line. "But you will keep the money. I...if you want to keep your jobs, you...you can," he hated saying that. Luke shouldn't have to work there. He was better than that- "Just promise me you will not allow yourself to remain homeless."

Luke...just nodded. No words. Just nodded.

Then he boarded the waiting shuttle, and Vader stood alone as he watched the shuttle close and depart back to Eriadu.

Please come back, He thought, watching it grow smaller and smaller. He'd only barely met his son in person, and yet the bond between them was already strong enough that he could feel him growing further away. Please forgive me.

And yet even as he thought it, he doubted it would happen.

Who would forgive him, after all?