Emperor Vader was not a kind man. Since the betrayal of the Jedi Order and the death of Palpatine, his iron grip had tightened across the galaxy, bringing law, order, and terror in his wake. It was whispered that the death of his secret wife and unborn children had unhinged him, but never loud enough to grab his attention. One did not want to be on Emperor Vader's radar, in general.
In a cell below the Imperial palace, was one being who had grabbed - and held - Vader's attention. She had fought valiantly, one of the few remaining Jedi to survive. For reasons only known to Vader, her life had been spared and she had been brought to the palace, placed in Force-suppression field, and made to wait.
She waited for five standard days, during which time the Force-suppression field was replaced with a more standard suppressor beneath her skin, and then there he was. She had been expecting a monster, but what she got was a young man who looked very much as she remembered him. "You should have left when you had the chance, Ahsoka," he told her coldly, hands behind his back, flanked by a pair of troopers from the 501st - now known across the galaxy as Vader's Fist.
"And miss a chance to dethrone a tyrant?" she spat back, and began to sputter as her throat constricted. Across the cell bars, Vader had his hand out, fingers bent as though truly around her neck.
Darkness shadowed Vader's handsome face. "A tyrant?" he asked with a harsh laugh. "I'm bringing order to the galaxy. Only a fool would stand in my way."
"Was Padme a fool, then?" Ahsoka asked, knowing she had just signed her own death warrant.
With a choked cry, Vader closed his fist, and with a ringing in her montrals, Ahsoka lost consciousness.
She woke up surprised to be alive. Her throat was sore, certainly, and everything ached fiercely, but she was alive, which was more than she had expected. She wasn't sure what she'd been thinking, bringing up Padme the way she had, but she'd wanted to lash out at him, wanted him to hurt.
She'd hurt him, that much had been obvious. She didn't feel guilty about it in the least. After everything he'd done, did he really expect her to be happy about being spared? Did he really think she would just accept him as her Master again, after betraying her so thoroughly?
He left her in the cell alone for another three days, and when he returned, Ahsoka made up her mind to not speak again. She had nothing to say, anyway. Well, she did, but it was nothing that would help her escape.
She was still expecting to see something horrible, something that would reflect the twisted soul now carried by her former (former) Master, but he looked the same as always. It was almost jarring. "Have you rethought your opinion yet?" Vader asked.
Ahsoka merely glared at him from the far side of the cell, keeping her promise to herself not to speak. He stared at her through the bars, considering her, studying her. She stared back at him, but still did not speak.
"You're not making this easy on yourself," Vader pointed out, crossing his arms over his chest. "It doesn't have to be this way."
Ahsoka lifted her chin defiantly, silently. She wondered if he honestly thought such posturing was going to win her over. Maybe he really had lost his mind.
When Vader realized she was not going to be engaging him, he stormed away, black cloak billowing in his wake.
Ahsoka got used to the isolation. Vader did not return after that visit, and she resigned herself to rotting in her cell, until the morning she woke up in a bed as opposed to on the floor.
She'd been brought upstairs, to one of the rooms in the palace. The door to her room was not locked, but the main door of the palace was. She immediately began stalking the halls in order to find a means of escape, but there were guards on each floor, barricaded windows, and she did not have her lightsaber. Still, she was sure that, given enough time, she could find a way out.
Weeks passed. She never saw Vader, but she was provided with food, clothes, and entertainment in the form of a monitored holonet connection and numerous datapads and archive crystals. Nothing that she could use to do any damage, of course, but an appreciated diversion nonetheless. She still explored the palace every day, trying to find a weakness in the security, an air vent that could be exploited, a window that was unprotected.
During one of her daily sojourns through the rooms of the palace, she came across Vader. It was the first time she'd seen him up here, and she knew immediately she'd trespassed on a very private moment. Vader was sitting on the edge of a settee, head in his hands, shoulders shaking. Ahsoka realized this would be the perfect chance to free the galaxy - and herself. He was vulnerable, his guard was down, she could easily get behind him, break his neck. But something stopped her. Something about his hunched posture, the pure misery she could sense even without the Force, the fact he still resembled her old Master stayed her hand. She left the room without a sound.
There was something left of Anakin, she slowly realized. All of the entertainments she was allowed carried something of her Master; re-runs of an old holonet show he'd enjoyed, datapads with details of missions they'd gone on, paintings from Naboo and Tatooine. She never saw what was going on outside the palace walls; the holonet news was blocked, and the guards did not speak to her. She was sure it was horrible, it had to be, but she began catching glimpses of him more frequently, looking lost in his own palace, moving like a ghost through the rooms.
Then she realized that the Imperial palace was 500 Republica, and Vader's chambers were in the top-floor penthouse. She wondered how he could live with the memories.
He invited her to dinner one evening. She assumed it was evening, because the invitation had been for dinner, in any case. It was awkward, seeing him in a domestic setting, seated at the table with a meal laid out before them. She didn't know what to talk about, if anything, but he seemed content to eat in silence. Once the plates were cleared and they were alone again, he finally spoke. "I'm sorry."
"What?" she asked, not having expected his words, so not quite catching them.
Vader sighed, and set down his wine glass. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I haven't meant to be distant from you, I just didn't think you'd be interested in speaking to me."
Ahsoka swallowed heavily. The sharp, dark edge was completely missing from his voice; he sounded like Anakin again. She wasn't sure what to say, but she knew she had to say something. "I wasn't," she admitted after a long moment.
Nodding, Vader ran a hand through his hair. "I don't blame you," he replied. "But, uh, I want you to be comfortable here." He peered at her curiously. "Are you? Comfortable here?"
Again, Ahsoka was at a loss for what to say. "I'd rather be able to leave," she said. "Like I wasn't a prisoner."
Vader looked thoughtful. "It's not safe for you outside these walls," he informed her. "Jedi are still criminals, you'd be killed."
"You're the one killing Jedi!" she cried, shoving her plate away. "The only one I'd need protection from is YOU!"
He shook his head. "No," he said firmly. "I admit that I... played a role. But the general public fears Jedi, now. You'd be attacked, you'd be killed. I've seen it happen." He sounded almost regretful, and Ahsoka couldn't help the sting of sympathy that cut through her.
"I'll stay, then," she said, bowing her head.
She kept her word, and stopped trying to find ways of escape. They took meals together, talked, read together in the evenings. One day he'd come back from parts unknown, injured, bleeding, and she'd nursed him back to health. He'd seemed grateful, but unwilling to talk about where the injuries had come from. She didn't mind, and didn't push. She was just glad to have him safe. She enjoyed the touch of his fingers on her skin, and could tell he enjoyed her touch as well.
She was sleeping the first time he came to her. Anakin, fully, with trepidation pushing open her door, asking if she was awake. She sat up in bed, blankets pulled up over her bare breasts, and invited him in.
In spasms he crossed the floor, settling onto the bed beside her, dipping his head down to kiss her on the lips. She tasted the wine, and the sorrow, and let him run his hands down her body, the blanket pooling in her lap.
He was gentle with her, more so than she'd expected, making sure she enjoyed the pleasure as much as he did. But as he came, she heard him gasp out "Padme" and wondered if he'd known it was her at all.
When he captured Obi-Wan, everything fell apart. Obi-Wan refused to be charmed by him, refused to stop trying to escape, refused to acknowledge her protestations that he was still Anakin, still good, somehow.
"You've been here for a long time, little one," Obi-Wan told her. "You haven't seen what he's done. He may still look like Anakin, but the damage he's done to the galaxy..."
And then Obi-Wan showed her. Hidden in his robes was a datachip, and on the datachip were images that Ahsoka was sure she would never be able to erase from her mind. Burned cities, dead children, twisted, charred bodies lying in the ruins of their own homes. Slaves and prisoners and a superweapon that could destroy a planet, and the remains of Tatooine.
"Do you see now?" he asked her. "He's been using you, lying to you."
Ahsoka could only nod, realizing what she had to do.
He continued to come to her some nights, and she let him, even though it was clear he was longing for his dead wife, willing to use any warm body to complete his fantasy. She expected him, and prepared.
He trusted her completely and smuggling a knife from the kitchen had been easy. She waited until he got close, kissing her, touching her, and then his eyes snapped open and he looked down at the knife sticking out of his chest, still gripped tightly in her small hand. "Snips..." he gasped. She pulled the knife out, stabbed at him again, his blood flowing onto the sheets in sticky hot waves.
She waited until he stopped breathing, and walked out of the palace and into the night.