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In Which Things Are...

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Luke Skywalker expected a certain sequence of events to transpire when he was captured.

First off, as soon as he was in Imperial custody, Luke expected to find himself marched to a high security cell in one of the Executor’s many Detention Blocks. Afterwards, he assumed he would be subjected to interrogation. Then, once the Imperials had ripped out every scrap of information they could get from him; he imagined he would be transported to Imperial Center for a very public execution. He was the pilot responsible for the destruction of the Death Star; the Empire would certainly want to make an example out of him.

Except…

Nothing at all happened in the way he had expected.

Instead of a cramped, bleak cell, the young rebel found himself inside the largest and most opulent quarters he had ever seen on any ship—or anywhere else, for that matter. It wasn’t only a single room but an entire apartment! Bewildered, Luke could only stand mutely in the middle of the first chamber of the suite—some sitting room, he surmised.

Are these Vader’s private quarters? Why did he bring me here? The youth glanced around, though his gaze would often slide back to the massive form of the Dark Lord of the Sith.

The durasteel floor was completely covered by a dark red carpet of some thick material that felt firm but also soft underneath his boots. One wall was made nearly entirely of transparisteel; displaying a magnificent vista of glittering stars. In the middle of the room was a wide, round platform. Perched atop this flat sphere, and nearly covering the entire carpeted surface, was a massive, very plush circular couch laden with a good dozen square pillows and matching side tables. Several tasteful pieces of artwork decorated the room, sitting on the floating shelves and hanging along the three remaining walls. Sleek lighting fixtures were cunningly arranged over them, or in the case of a slim abstract sculpture found at one corner of the room underneath, to highlight each object and its finest aspects. These exhibits were nearly as distracting as the sight beyond the viewport. The overhead lights were currently set at a muted glow, casting the room in a comfortable radiance. Reluctantly, Luke found himself very impressed.

And, utterly confused.

Behind him, the doors slid shut and, eventually, the only noise he could hear was the measured breathing of the Dark Lord. Darth Vader turned fluidly to face him, black cape flaring out rather dramatically before settling to drape elegantly over the imposing man, and the unlikely pair exchanged looks.

And, remained staring at each other as the hush stretched out between them.

Naturally, Luke broke the silence first. “What is this?” he waved a hand to encompass the room; the confusion and anxiety evident in his voice in spite of his best efforts to conceal his emotions.

“Your quarters.”

The youth blinked. “W-whauh?” he felt his jaw slacken midway, causing the word to come out in an undignified stutter. Luke refused to admit he was blushing over his lapse of composure.

“I doubt I would need to clarify what I have just stated.”

“Actually, there’s a lot you need to clarify,” Luke muttered.

“Indeed. I have a few questions, Skywalker.”

Well, this isn’t the cell I expected but here’s the interrogation I knew had to be coming, Luke thought with a mixture of relief and trepidation. He felt some semblance of equilibrium return to him. The young rebel commander folded his arms over his chest in defiance and squared his shoulders; tipping his chin upwards, he gazed steadily into the red-tinted eye sockets of the infamous mask.

“I bet you do,” he retorted, determination coating his voice, “not that I’m going to tell you anything.”

Vader only remained where he stood, his large, gloved hands rising to grip his belt and his head tilted forward slightly; peering down at the youth. Luke simply knew that the Dark Lord was completely unimpressed by his brazen declaration and was now regarding him with alarming deliberation. There was no hostility or malice in the man—more surprisingly, even the normally present smothering aura of anger that circled Darth Vader was muted somehow. Nevertheless, Luke still keenly felt the Sith Lord's presence in the Force; he was impossible to miss or ignore. Currently, Vader was simply… curious? For some reason, he was very curious about him—this only served to boggle the young rebel more. Unthinkingly, Luke sunk deeper into the Force around him and found himself nearly physically knocked over by the veritable wave of unnerving satisfaction and triumph emanating from the Dark Lord of the Sith. It was controlled and concealed but Luke just managed to catch the dredges of it.

Why in the nine hells of Corellia was Vader so pleased?! He couldn't be this happy over Luke's capture, could he? Luke felt his eyes narrow in consternation but he continued to meet the unswerving stare fixed on him—it was clearly apparent even with that black mask hiding Vader's face. This couldn’t be a very good sign. Nothing about this entire situation was…

Mulling over this troubling revelation, Luke refused to be intimidated and straightened further; his spine was rigid to the point of discomfort and he willed himself not to look away despite the mounting restlessness seeping into him.

Once again, silence reigned and the lumbering seconds trickled away into heavy minutes. Luke found himself starting to fidget, struggling not to let his eyes wander—that view was really spectacular and the abstract painting on the far wall next to the transparisteel looked like a space battle—or let his fingers start fiddling with the fabric of his flight suit’s long sleeves. Darth Vader, meanwhile, made a very convincing impression of a stone statue. The youth resolutely kept his mouth clamped shut. Like he told the Sith; he wasn’t talking.

The doorchime trilled.

Luke jumped in shock at the abrupt, ringing sound; just failing to stifle his yelp of surprise. He half-turned so he could face the doors behind him but still kept the Dark Lord in sight; Luke wasn’t stupid enough to turn his back on the man for even a single second. Vader remained unfailingly collected and unruffled. The youth scowled, feeling as though he had just lost some unspoken contest. He was distinctly aware the Dark Lord was now amused. At him.

In return, Luke leveled a glare at the Sith Lord.

Vader proved to be impervious to the young rebel’s displeasure. In fact, to the boy’s obvious and increasing irritation, all Luke succeeded in doing by showing the Sith he was Not Amused was to only raise the Dark Lord’s own mirth. Luke twitched.

Deciding he had aggravated his captive enough for the moment, Vader executed a sharp wave with one gloved hand and the doors whispered open. Luke looked over to find two Imperials waiting outside. Both men saluted smartly.

“Enter.” Vader ordered into the still lingering echo of the chime.

At the Sith Lord’s command, the men strode into the quarters briskly. The two men were guiding a hovercart between them and Luke froze. Quickly scanning the approaching trolley, he expected to find it bristling with interrogation implements—his eyes searching quickly for any sign of the sleek black, sphere-shaped interrogation droid he had heard so much about. When he found nothing, he felt his anxiety and slight fear ebb away only to be replaced by uncertainty and bafflement. He looked again and blinked when he began to recognize some of the devices and items. The hovercart was loaded with medical equipment and instruments. Luke had been in a Medbay often enough to be able to identify some of them easily and knew they were only used for medical purposes. Belatedly, he realized that the men were clad in Medic uniforms, and not the standard khaki or gray of normal officers. Luke turned his head to stare at the Dark Lord in blatant confusion. Why did Vader call these men?

Vader tilted his head slightly towards them in the faintest of nods then gestured at Luke. “He was recently injured; ascertain the degree of this injury and the level of treatment he has already received. I would not be surprised if the Rebels have been lacking in their management of his treatment. When you have located any such lapses; rectify them immediately. I also desire a full examination of his physical well-being; I wish him returned to full, if not better, health as soon as possible.”

“At once, My Lord.” The men chorused crisply and marched over to Luke. The older man, unmistakably a high ranking doctor from his insignia even if Luke didn’t recognize exactly what the rank bar designated, was already holding a scanner over the youth.

Luke noted that he was tanned, very tall and broad-shouldered, in his late forties with salt-and-pepper hair, intense gray eyes and a ruggedly handsome face. He was clean-shaven and not a stitch was out of place on his uniform. His colleague was a young man; possibly only a few years older than Luke. There was a very distinct resemblance between them that made Luke suspect they had to be related. He had the same shade of gray eyes,  shade of skin and build but his features were slightly softer and he was not as tall. Still taller than him, however, Luke observed with some annoyance. Despite his youth, the second doctor was as professional as his superior; swiftly pulling the hovercart up next to Luke for easy reach and opening the trolley to search among its contents with practiced ease.

Blinking owlishly, Luke merely stared; sending Vader frequent glances as the minutes moved forward. The Dark Lord had folded his arms over his broad chest and was leaving the men to their work; although he was watching them closely, especially Luke. Luke shifted uneasily under that intense regard.

Once again, things were not going as he expected they would. Why was Vader even bothering to have him treated? Wouldn’t it just be a waste of resources when he was subjected to interrogation? In all of the stories he had heard, not once did he ever hear Vader having his prisoners treated—or offered any kind of mercy, for that matter…

This whole situation was making less and less sense. Luke finally opened his mouth—he wasn’t sure what he was about to say but he had to say something. However, this was forestalled when the device in the doctor’s hand beeped softly.

The medic scanned the readings quickly before looking up to meet Vader’s mask which had fixed on him. “He has recently completed a session in Bacta, My Lord,” he reported, a touch of disapproval lacing his voice. “It has healed the worst of his injuries, however, the session was not as long as is recommended and the amount of Bacta used was below the required level. Because of this, he is still suffering from the residual effects of severe Hypothermia and there is remaining cellular damage which should have been dealt with if the proper procedure had been performed.”

A low noise came from Darth Vader; Luke could have sworn it was a growl. There was a very sharp spike in the Force and that dormant black fire swelled dangerously. A surge of that familiar suffocating anger Luke hadn’t felt earlier rolled over him—he suppressed the shiver that raced down his spine. He hadn’t missed this in the slightest.

“Does he require another session in Bacta? If so, we will head to the Medbay immediately,” Vader demanded brusquely. The giant was already stalking forward and Luke recoiled.

“No, My Lord, it is unnecessary. He need not be immersed,” The doctor assured smoothly. Vader stopped and rested his hands on his belt, radiating ire.

Grudgingly, Luke had to admit he was impressed by the man’s unshakeable mien. Even from what little he could sense with his erratic grasp of the Force, this doctor wasn’t the slightest bit perturbed even when he was dealing with a very irate Sith Lord. Briefly, Luke wondered how he could even feel the man's emotions and so clearly with Vader nearby.

“A Bacta Immersion would be impractical at this stage." The man continued. "We can easily attain equal or even better results by utilizing other methods…”

Abruptly, he trailed off as his companion leaned close and murmured in his ear. Luke had forgotten all about the young man who had clearly been busy. The second medic was holding another medical scanner; this model looked far more complicated than the first—Luke peered at it uncertainly; he had never seen a medical scanner like that before. The chief medical officer took the new device, exchanging the one he had been holding and scrutinized the wide screen; long fingers scrolling down rapidly. A slight frown slowly crept onto his features.

“What is it?” Vader snapped, the deep tone now ringing with the agitation he had been exuding. Luke didn’t catch the flinch this invoked; the room was suddenly so very cold, colder than even Hoth’s strongest blizzards… He wondered fleetingly why the Dark Lord was so much angrier now; it felt as though a black bonfire of this roiling emotion had been lit and was stretching outward, seeking targets… Wait, Vader wasn’t only furious he was… worried?!

Luke stared at the Sith Lord, wondering if he had misinterpreted what he had just felt from the Force. It was a surreal thought; the Dark Lord of the Sith feeling concern…

The doctor cleared his throat; there still no hint of unease in him whatsoever—he was like a rock in the rapids of a churning river and Luke found himself sidling closer to the man instinctively.

Vader clearly noticed and Luke felt the seething black flames withdraw, almost contrite; one black tendril even brushed against him reassuringly. Luke blinked and was seriously beginning to wonder if he was even touching the Force at all. What he was sensing couldn't be right! Belatedly, the youth realized the doctor was talking. He focused on the words, this was about him after all.

“…ve completed a full Scan and, from this thorough examination; I can easily formulate his treatment. The scan shows an alarming degree of fatigue. He was in combat. He should have not been allowed to participate; his body is still recuperating and this action has served to undermine many parts of his previous treatment.”

“No kidding,” Luke interjected dryly. “Technically, I’m ‘still’ in combat, if you ask me.” He shot Vader a pointed look.

Despite the amusement Luke felt from him—Imperial humor escaped him, the young rebel decided sullenly—the medical officer ignored him and didn't falter in his prognosis; probably noticing the deepening chill as the Dark Lord made his rising displeasure felt. However, this time he saw those black flames enfold him almost protectively. Exasperated, Luke stopped touching the Force; Vader's proximity had to be hindering him somehow. What was with the Dark Lord?! He was acting wholly out of character... Inwardly jerking himself out of his useless musings, Luke refocused on the doctor.

“…ows signs of new cellular damage; he fell from a great height recently. He is sporting a good number of lacerations; fortunately, these are superficial. There is evidence of frostbite in his extremities but I am most concerned with the heavy contusions, particularly around the ankles, legs, hips and chest that the scanner has diagnosed.”

“Oh, that happens when you drop from underneath an Imperial Walker,” Luke rejoined blithely. “Best way to get as far away as possible from the explosion after you plant a bomb inside the underbelly, you know.” He flashed a boyish grin when the younger of the men lost his poise enough to give him an aghast look. The senior doctor briefly looked entertained before resuming his professional manner. Luke was beginning to suspect this man had a rebel’s sense of humor, too.

“Very well,” Vader rumbled, striding close to loom over Luke who edged away before he controlled himself and settled for crossing his arms over his chest and glowering up at the Sith Lord defiantly. “What must be done?”

“I recommend that the patient be induced into having twelve hours of undisturbed sleep to alleviate the high levels of fatigue he is exhibiting and thus hindering his body from beginning the natural process of recuperation. In order to address his various medical issues, I will have a schedule of medication readied and this will be administered to him in set intervals to ensure all damage is rectified and he makes a full recovery. The scanner has also detected a number of nutritional deficiencies which I will correct along with his injuries. Lastly, given his biological profile, he is lacking several vaccines and boosters; I will have those included. Following strict adherence to these procedures, he will be back to complete health in three to six days—the rate of recovery will depend on his body’s ability to accept the treatments.” The man paused, leveling Luke with a short, considering look before stating. “I will administer the initial dose now as I have the needed medication on hand and this will immediately remedy a significant amount of his medical issues. However, it will place a relatively high level of strain on his body. With his current physical status, I advise he be unconscious while this medication takes effect. It will allow the treatmen—”

“You're not going to knock me out!” Luke yelled vehemently, the meaning of the last few words finally registering in his mind. He pulled away violently from the trio and backpedaled towards the door; his hands held out in a warding gesture. Who knew what Vader could do to him while he was out cold?!

Luke hadn’t even managed more than a couple of steps away from the Imperials when he was encircled by a pair of black synthleather-clad, very unyielding arms and caught in an unexpected embrace. The console on Vader’s chest dug uncomfortably into his spine and shoulder blades as he was held tightly. Luke went still from shock, allowing Vader to grab his flailing wrists in his large hands. One of his arms was stretched out and presented towards the medics. The younger man was gaping unabashedly; the older doctor looked a little slack-jawed himself.

Calmly, over the loud protests and wild thrashing of the boy, Vader barked. “Give him the sedative. Now!”

The chief medical officer was quick to obey. With only a glance at the trolley, he snatched a syringe from one of the many opened cases of medicine on the carrier’s top and darted forward. Luke tried kicking him when he neared but the man nimbly sidestepped him. Deftly, he gave Luke a shot in the offered arm; somehow working around the thick, orange flight suit the youth wore and finding a vein.

Of course, he'd be good, he'd probably be dead if he wasn't! Luke groused, scowling at the doctor. The man even had the gall to offer him an apologetic half-smile.

The young rebel commander had barely felt the prick of the needle but he certainly felt the wave of drowsiness that swept over him almost immediately. Whatever drug had been in that syringe, it was strong and worked fast. Luke continued to struggle, though, refusing to submit to the encroaching darkness. But, in seconds, his body went limp, sagging bonelessly against Vader. In spite of his fading consciousness, Luke felt Vader adjust his hold to cradle him in his arms. The act was both strangely protective and unnervingly possessive. The Sith Lord was speaking with the doctor but the words were already blending into an incomprehensible slur of noise.

Luke’s last, coherent thoughts were a slew of Huttese curses and jumbled questions.

All directed at Vader.