Disclaimer: Saint George and the holy hosts of Lucasfilm own
the characters, the theme and the venue. I make no wupiupis.
Summary: a missing scene that should have been somewhere near
the end of ROTJ.
Big thankyousas go to Mina and LL for beta reading and helpful
suggestions, and to Moonscribe for her writing exercises.
He wasn't sure when his knees had given in, leaving him slumped by
the side of the shaft, the echoes of his master's screams still fresh
in his ears. His only hand clawed feebly along the railing as he made
semi-conscious attempts to pull himself over. Something in him still
belonged with darkness, something that pulled him relentlessly toward
those depths. The Dark Lord belonged with his master, in death as in
life. It was rightly so.
Yet there was another power that seemed to drag him away even more
insistently. Something warm, loving wrapped itself around his shoulders,
pulling persistently, and although his hand flailed in half-hearted
protest, he didn't have the strength left to resist. He didn't even
seriously want to. Surely the beckoning darkness wouldn't begrudge an
old man a moment's rest...?
Blinking, Vader tried to clear the haze from his vision and his mind.
And then for the first time he looked up and remembered whose hands
they were that cradled him: it was his son, his beautiful bright son
— not a project, a potential convert and slave to the Sith, but the
son of Anakin Skywalker. Him. And the boy held him — didn't throw
him down the shaft, didn't pull a lightsaber on him, but held him and
looked at him with emotion vacillating in his eyes and a shy smile on
his lips. Anakin felt a treacherous drop of moisture in the corner of
his eye, and a thickness in his throat that wasn't because of a lack
of oxygen in his lungs.
With dawning anxiety Vader realized that the furious whirring and clicking
around him came from his respirator. The automated systems still struggled
faithfully against all the damage he had taken, but not for long. Not
"Father!" Luke's voice trembled a bit as he pressed his forehead against
the cold metal of Vader's helmet—it must have been cold, it had always
been. The older man didn't trust his own voice to reply; he didn't even
know what to say. So he just covered one of Luke's hands with his own
palm and squeezed lightly.
"You... undamaged?" he rasped an inquiry when the first emotion passed,
feeling for the Life force in his son, testing it, measuring it...
Luke laughed a little, tears in his eyes. "Yes, yes... It's okay now.
Rest a bit, Father, I'm here with you."
He nodded then, too tired to argue. For a little while his respirator
geared back into life, giving him a few precious breaths, restoring
his strength a bit. Anakin released his son's hand almost reluctantly.
"I shouldn't have... allowed you ... to suffer." The admission came
painfully. "... not right."
Immediately Luke shushed him. "Don't talk about it, Father. It's over."
Anakin felt a shiver run through the arms that were wrapped around his
He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on breathing. His life support
suit was gradually failing, he could hear — and feel — the systems going
offline; only now and then would they jolt back to life for a few seconds.
They should be switched off, he thought. Death would come in a few minutes.
"I'm sorry too, Father," Luke continued. "For losing my faith in you.
Almost." A brief cloud passed over the young face, before he smiled.
"My father is not dead. He lives yet."
Anakin hastened to squeeze his son's hand again in reassurance. "Ssh,
child... I know. There is no ... death ... only the Force."
A nervous laugh. "That's what—"
"Shh." A renewed sense of danger hit him like a tidal wave. Danger
to his son. He looked around frantically, trying to locate its source
in the Force.
"Gotta get off ... this station," he wheezed, grateful that the youngster
wouldn't argue with him. He knew Luke was as aware of the threat as
he was. The boy nodded, jumped up and reached out a hand.
"Yes. Let me help you, Father. Do you think you can walk?"
He wasn't sure. By now he knew he would not leave this station alive.
His life support was too far gone, and wouldn't keep him going much
longer. No matter. He would still try to get up and walk. Yes, he would.
Because, knowing there was so little time left, he would not deprive
himself of Luke's company for just a few precious moments—even if he
couldn't make it farther than the door.
Drawing in a few painful breaths, he pushed himself slowly up, reaching
out a hand to the boy... wrong hand. Quickly he drew the stump back,
but already Luke had dropped down on his knees beside him, pity and
horror on his face. "I'm sorry, Father! I'm so sorry!"
"Doesn't... matter. Son." Indeed. What was a hand, a cybernetic one
at that, next to the Force that was calling him? "Was... necessary.
Brought you... focus."
Luke clasped his remaining hand and squeezed it. "Yes. I'm still sorry."
He smiled ruefully. "We are quite a... pair, aren't we?"
Anakin's snort dissolved into a painful wheeze. When the pain subsided,
he bit into his lip, pushing himself upright abruptly, and immediately
had to seek something to hold on to. It was worse than he had thought.
A dark fog lurked at the edges of his vision as he wavered on his legs,
which suddenly didn't seem as obedient as they had been. But already
his son was there, holding him up, supporting him.
He wasn't sure how they made it to the lift. But once the doors closed
behind them, he leaned into the wall with immense relief, suddenly aware
of the heavy burden of oppression he had left behind into that dark
room. Luke was staring at him uneasily, and he felt a somewhat clumsy,
inexperienced probe. Not wanting to worry his son, he tried to straighten
up a bit and make his breathing less raspy — attempts that failed miserably,
judging from the anxiety on the boy's face.
"You're worse than I thought," the boy admitted. "I'll take you to
my friends, don't worry, we'll fix you up in no time."
He would have laughed at that, if he'd had the breath to do so. How
lovely; both naïve and starry-eyed. The idea of rebels flocking together
to patch up Darth Vader amused him for a little while. But no sense
in arguing here: it wouldn't be a problem. Besides, he wouldn't want
Luke to be otherwise. For here he stood before him, starry-eyed yet
wise, strong, powerful. A great Jedi.
"You're... a good son." His voice barely came out, but Luke's smile
reflected his own, although he could see only vaguely through the gathering
gloom. He reached out a shaky hand to touch the young face before darkness
took it from his sight. Another wave of weakness overwhelmed him then.
Leaning hard on Luke's shoulder, he struggled desperately to draw in
"Just a little bit more," Luke kept repeating. "It's gonna be okay."
It already is okay, he thought, even if Luke doesn't know it yet. Soon
over. Soon he would be able to rest. The pain and discomfort of not
being able to breathe would be gone too. Still, he was marginally grateful
that Luke couldn't see the tears in his eyes. Wouldn't do for a son
to see a father in tears, would it? No matter though. It was okay, and
he leaned hard onto the boy, unable to stand on his own, as the lift
doors opened into the vast bay.
About halfway down the hangar the inevitable happened: the immense
weight of the cybernetic body proved too much for Luke to hold up. Anakin
slipped from his son's arms, crashing on the floor, and his world went
completely dark for a moment.
As he crawled back to awareness, there was some vague movement—the
boy was still struggling to get him back up, and failing that, he simply
dragged the heavy bulk of his father's body along the floor. Stubborn,
he thought, like me. He didn't see what was going on, or how far they
still had to go. Beyond a few metres everything was a dark blur. There
were noises echoing through the vast hangar, shouts and screams and
explosions that merged into a shrill background fanfare.
It was time, he knew. No further, old man. He squeezed his son's hand
feebly, asking him to stop. Worried, Luke immediately bent over him,
pulling him up and into a sitting position. Nimble fingers studied the
controls on his breastplate, trying to find a way to help.
It was more of a moan than a clear word, but the boy understood, bless
him for that. Because there was still something Anakin wanted, before
he would go. Something he had to do fast, before his eyesight failed
completely. The young face fluttering over him looked grey, colourless
and blurred. He opened his mouth, gathering breath to speak.
"Help me take ... this mask off."