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when love explodes

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There's a lot of things Luke expected, after all is said and done, after the trial's finished, after all the surgeries and the crying and his father's start down the tentative road to reconciling with Leia. People wondering what he was thinking, sure. People outright suggesting Darth Vader's playing some kind of long game, sure, and he's gotten both of those enough times that he's got a script he's kind of proud of.

But getting dragged into a broom closet by a particularly flushed-looking Lieutenant Mari is definitely not one of them, and neither's the question she poses.

"Why is your father so hot?" she hisses.

Luke blinks. "What," he says.

"Your dad," Mari whispers. "Your dad. Who was Darth Vader. Is fucking hot." She grips his shirt tight in long, tapered teal fingers, a wild look in her mostly-black eyes as she pulls him down to her eye level. "Why is his ass so nice," she asks, plaintively. Luke's pretty sure she's very drunk, that's the only explanation for this.

"Why are you telling me all of this?" Luke asks, confusion and embarrassment bubbling up within him.

"Because if I told Dameron and Bey and Tuck they would never let me live it down," Mari says. "Never, do you understand?" She pauses, then adds, desperately, "Please don't tell them. I want to live without Tuck telling me I've got a crush on--on--"

"My father," says Luke. He gets it. Sort of. (That's a lie, he doesn't get it, he never has and he figures he never will.)

"He looks really good!" Mari all but wails. "He's fucking hot and I am weak, okay, I'm so weak, I'm a sucker for hot guys with incredible hair and gorgeous eyes--"

And that's how Han finds Luke with an armful of crying Lieutenant Mari in a very cramped broom closet, patting her back and awkwardly saying, there, there. Every so often Mari gives a little hiccuping sob that sounds vaguely like why.

Han's brow creases, as Luke glances up to meet his incredulous gaze. "Did she not know--"

"She does," Luke says. "It isn't a secret."

"So why're you two in a closet?" Han asks.

Mari makes a strangled noise against Luke's chest.

"That's confidential," says Luke.

--

Mari, as it turns out, is not the only one who's had this observation. She's just one of the few who's decided to tell Luke about it. At least, that's how Luke figures, because he catches one of the Force-sensitive teenagers he's been teaching--my name's N'rvol, sir, they had said--staring after his father with a particularly curious look.

For a second Luke's about to reprimand them for staring, because no matter what he's done, Anakin Skywalker's still his father, but then he gets closer and sees the look. There's no revulsion or disgust in that look, just--a strange sort of curiosity, and a flaring in the Force around them that doesn't feel unpleasant, per se.

That look is one that Luke has seen once or twice before, in both Leia and Han, and that flaring is something he's sensed before in Leia when she looks at Han, and look where they are now.

His father turns around. Blinks, surprised, at N'rvol, who splutters and whips around and runs away, shouting after their friends to wait up, you kriffing maniacs, don't leave!

Luke sees his father's shoulders slump visibly, blue eyes darting downwards, before he looks back up and huffs out a breath.

"I don't know what's worse," he says, "pretending they weren't staring or not even bothering with pretending."

"I'd rather they didn't stare at all," says Luke, thinking of Mari sobbing into his shirt.

His father gestures to himself. "Did you really think they wouldn't, knowing what I did?" he asks, and that's when Luke realizes his father has no idea of the interest he's stoked in N'rvol.

Oh, Luke vaguely realizes, bantha shit.

--

Ahsoka says, "So I saw the strangest thing today," when Luke opens his apartment's door.

"And?" Luke asks, stepping aside to let his father's former Padawan in. She's much taller than he is, and there's a grin on her face that makes Luke think of his fellow pilots in Red Squadron, smiling innocently at him after scattering rose petals around the Millennium Falcon and stringing up a great big banner screaming CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW APARTMENT for Leia and Han to see.

(It had originally been CONGRATULATIONS ON THE SEX until Luke got brought in on the prank and pointed out that, actually, he had barely been able to sleep for some time on Hoth. And after Endor. And--well, any time he and his sister slept in adjacent rooms.)

"Where's Anakin?" Ahsoka asks, turning around. "He should hear about this."

"Father's out with Leia right now," says Luke. "Is it urgent? I could comm him--"

"Nope," says Ahsoka, dropping onto the couch and pulling out a flyer with a grainy picture of his father's face on it, obviously taken during the Clone Wars. "I just wanted to let him know the fan club's back."

"The what," says Luke, feeling a headache coming on.

"He didn't tell you," says Ahsoka, her grin turning positively evil, "but Anakin used to have a small fan club." She pauses. "Not small, actually. Huge. They called themselves the 501st--after the actual 501st, and I can tell you they were personally flattered by the attention." She gestures to the poster, and says, "And now they're back! A little smaller than before, of course, but they're back."

"How'd you find out?" Luke asks.

"I ran into someone who was handing these out just outside," she says. "I think he was ready to faint when he realized who I was. Gave me his last flimsi and asked if I could speak at their next meeting, or if I could get Anakin to do it." There's a mischievous glint in her eye when she adds, "What do you think? Should I go? Should I tell your father to go?"

Luke opens his mouth, just as the door opens to let his father in.

"Skyguy!" says Ahsoka.

"Snips!" says Anakin, and in a flash they're hugging. "Ow, ow, careful, I need those lungs--"

"You never said you had a fan club," says Luke, picking up the flyer.

"Oh," says Anakin, as Ahsoka lets go. He looks and sounds less than pleased at the news. "That." He narrows his eyes suspiciously at Ahsoka, and says, "What has Ahsoka been telling you?"

"Just things I'm sure you left out," says Ahsoka, cheerily, "like the time on Asion when we met one of your fans and ze had to save your ass because you were trying to be impressive--"

"Snips!"

--

"So," says Tuck, sitting down next to Luke.

Luke raises an eyebrow. "Yes?"

"Is your father single?" he asks, hopefully.

Luke picks his lunch up. "I just realized," he says, "I have to meet with Leia today. Urgent matter, New Republic things, you know how it is." It's utter bantha shit, he doesn't have any pressing matters to attend to today or tomorrow for that matter, but he does not want to have to field questions about his father's dating status while he's having lunch.

"You didn't answer my question!" Tuck shouts after him, and Luke speeds up the pace. He can't get away from here fast enough.