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Title: Old Wounds
Author: Rhonderoo (rhonderoo@yahoo.com)
Rating: PG
Characters: Darth Vader
Genre: drama, light humor (I know, what?)
Disclaimer: I'm just playing George's sandbox!


Summary: Darth Vader is incapacitated while he is repaired from an injury recieved.


Notes: This is in answer to the Quotation Roulette challenge.


Hatred ever kills, love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred. -- Mohandas Gandhi


“Hold still, Ani! Bloah, you are like a sandstorm today. How am I to make it better if you keep moving?”


Clinical lights awake me, burning my retinas with the light of a thousand suns, as I try to adjust to seeing without the mask.

I must have been dreaming… I am reminded how soft a touch can be when it is administered with care, especially under the present circumstances. Not the type of caring I am now privy to. Not caring done in the hushed, reserved tones of a medic or a droid for fear of retribution.

How many droids has it been in twenty-three years? In my younger days, when the machinery and armor was new, many a droid was the victim of my wrath.

As I lay subjugated while rudimentary replacements, upgrades--whatever the Emperor saw fit to give me—was installed, my fury would grow to proportions that scared even myself. I had not yet learned the art of controlling my anger, of letting the dark seep to where the anger burned and waiting. It is best used when cold and subdued. I learned this over the years, and my prowess at control grew.

To myself, I often admit the irony of how much like the Jedi teachings of emotional detachment this is, but I would never point this out to my Master, he would find it less amusing than I.

At this stage in my life, I have learned to simply lie here and make do as the pain is minimal on nerves that have long since outlived their usefulness, prodded until there is nothing there. Most modifications I took over myself after growing accustomed to my various accoutrements and pieces of mechanics. After all, how unwise would it be of me to trust this to droids and medics for too long?

Remember he can tell what you are thinking.

Are you daft? Of course I remember… Oh. Just hand me the scalpel and the tuning unit.

The medics continue on, laboring under the misapprehension that I care for what they are thinking. Their fear radiates from them, along with awe…

Awe that something this piecemeal can live.

Awe that this shell can survive yet another injury.

Awe that I lay here, completely at their whim…

Unless…

I am as evil as my appearance belies. Unless I can kill them with my mind, as they have heard.

As their inept, idiotic thoughts carry on, I wonder if I should let them live. I detest foolishness and they have prattled on in their heads, intruding on my thoughts for too long.

I decide to not waste the time.

I have grown weary of this as I have matured.

I have met my son. I have come to learn many things about my Emperor and his promises. Most of all, I have grown tired of thinking, so I do not do so with much frequency unless I’m forced. Like now…

I close my eyes and attempt to draw on the dark side, but fail, it takes so much more now to call it. Instead I attempt to wrap myself in numbness. The memories come, as they always do. The only time I allow myself this luxury is now, when I lay here suffused to some machine, being labored over like a broken piece of machinery.

Because I am a broken piece of machinery.

Every injury only adds to the perversity of what was created back then, when I became what I am today.

Hate creates many things, but they do not come without their price. The burden of hating sometimes creeps into my veins when I am left alone with nothing but this, this…suit and my thoughts, while I waste away in a medical chamber. While hatred creates, it also kills. I have lost most memories, but I do find those that survive to be born of something before the darkness, and it is here I always find myself now.

I grow wearier of it all with each passing day. Meditation. Focusing on getting out of this tomb. These are the only things that would inspire me to continue to draw breath if it were left to me, but it isn’t left to me. It never has been. Until my son came along, if the apparatus had stopped…

Even though I make an effort to subdue them, memories of other injuries, other hands…intrude on my meditation and in my helplessness I am forced to lie here and let them come, just as those of my mother came. It seems that as hatred burdens me with living, love burdens me with remembering.

My mother often attempted to corral my youthful enthusiasm with the warning that I would be hurt, or some heinous injury would befall me should I attempt whatever foolish endeavor assailed me. Often I was reminded how correct she was as I sat while she dabbed at my wound, and clucked at my silliness.


“Sit still, Ani. Let me clean this cut.”

“There are so many! Do they all have a system of planets?”

“Most of them.”

“Has anyone been to them all?”

“Not likely.”

“I want to be the first one to see them all... Ouch!”

“There, good as new...”


This memory, almost as much as my mother’s, brings me the most consternation.

I cannot fault Qui-Gon Jinn for being anything other than Jedi. This fault was continuing on in their order after they had reviled him and reduced him to a pariah. I feel the heat of contempt materialize inside--for as much as the Jedi mistreated me--they mistreated my first Master, Qui-Gon, more. The wound more compounded because he took it. He died in service to an order that could not even bring themselves to mourn him. It was not the Jedi way…

In irony at its best, the reprehensible Cordu hound that was Maul took Qui-gon’s life in the same fashion I took Dooku’s. Without a trace of conscience.

It is only now that I can think of Qui-Gon, now that I am older and the darkness has become comfortable, like old leather. The darkness that I wear now, as I do the armor.

I could not think of Master Qui-Gon in my youth as a Sith, as the young turned Jedi. The Jedi who took the treatment that Qui-Gon did, but unlike him, the young Jedi fought back. How I wished then that Qui-Gon had fought them, also.

In my thoughts early on, the unfairness of the galaxy would eat at my insides and would pull against the bonds of logic, that one such as me could love one such as him—still—even as I embraced the dark side.

And that he still loved one such as me…

I have come to realize now, that some things just are in this galaxy and to contemplate them too fully will lead to madness. This is how I leave Qui-Gon.


"Anakin, you are moving too much."

"Master, it isn't that bad. Your shoulder is worse, you just don't want to admit it."

"Anakin, this is not a contest to see who can bear their pain the most."

"What? Are you scared?"

"You are incorrigable."

"Afraid you might pass out if I have to remove that shrapnel...with my lightsaber? Or... a needle even?"

"Anakin, stop. You know I hate needles. I do not want to discuss it."

"Ow! That hurt! You did that on purpose!"

"I absolutely did not. The medication should hurt, that is how you know it's working."

"I don't believe you."

"That is your perogative, my young former apprentice."

"All right, that's it. It's my turn, where's the needle?"


…And inevitably my thoughts always turn from Qui-gon to Obi-Wan. With the exception of my mother, my old master tended the most wounds, with the most care. As I grow older, I find I can no longer stop thoughts of Obi-Wan. Of course, there is no reason to. He is dead. Obi-Wan is unique in that I probably healed as many of his injuries as he did mine, until he gave me the worst…

I stop myself. He is dead and I am here. It is over. Luke is alive and will be by my side, and his failure will be my repayment. As with Qui-Gon, I do not like to think of Obi-Wan. Any healing I obtained through my former master is long gone, even if the memory stays.

The length of time I am administered treatment varies with every injury I acquire. These injuries no longer cause me any pain.

I vaguely remember the loss of my arm on Geonosis, but I do remember the pain. It was different than the injuries I now carry. There was something right about the injuries I received as I fought along those I once called brothers and sisters. The betrayal I eventually felt does nothing to color the memories of carrying my pain with pride, for I was a Jedi. I cannot account for the foolishness and naiveté of my youth, but it does bring memories of something that will not leave me. No matter how hard I will it.


“Ani, be still.”

“Ow! What is that?! Freighter fuel?”

“Ani, don’t be ridiculous. It’s astringent. You’ve managed to almost cut your finger off.”

“Padmé, it isn’t like I haven’t suffered injuries before. Remember? The arm?”

“Yes, but there was no blood, now there is. Look at this, you’re bleeding everywhere!”

“Are you afraid I’ll stain the carpet?”

“Stop it. You’re stalling. Give me your finger again. Be a man.”

“I’ll show you a man.”

“Give me your finger, Anakin.”

“Ooh, you’re using my real name. Now, I’m frightened.”

“The finger. Now.”

“Ouch! De chopa, that hurts, Padmé! Geez. Okay, no more. I’m healed. See?”

“You’re being such a baby.”

“Now that hurts.”


It is ironic that I cannot recall the details of the last procedure that was administered to me in this suit, but these memories burst through my meditation like stars gone supernova and even my most furtive attempts at averting them are not successful.

I hear the slight buzz of the droid signaling the end of maintenance and notice a slight twinge of pity from one of the medical team. It starts to feed something cold and deadly inside.

I feel no compunction to deal with a clean up crew today. It seems the infirmary crew is lucky.

Even with the injury I sustained, I am still numb from the tranquilizers. I laugh to myself at the thought that, if medicated, I could do less damage than fully cognizant. These are obviously new medics.

As I adjust the cape to leave I stop to notice the cold, agonizing fear radiating from the medics. I seem to have come out of the medication earlier than they had anticipated. I look to their downcast eyes as I leave and feel their hearts hammering under their ribs. The dread rolls from them in the Force. Good.

Perhaps I am not as weak as they think.



~*~


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