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Imperial Internship

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Focusing on the simple facts got Vader through the corridors and two more turbolifts to his quarters without any more... slips, happening. Obi-Wan had lied. But the boy was with him now, so nothing else mattered. Vader's hand at the small of Luke's back kept him moving - the boy had attempted to speed up to get in front of him a few times, after an initial minute or two of not noticing the gloved hand was there, but now he was just walking, accepting the touch.

As it should be.

He acknowledged that if he attempted to actually grab the boy, his son probably had enough confused, angry fight in him to actually put up a fight about where they were going (or that they were going anywhere at all), but he didn't need to do that at the moment.

Then there was the amount of meters between their current position and the goal to focus on, a number which was increasingly growing shorter, if not with the speed he would have preferred. The fewer who got a good look at what the boy looked like, the better, and they passed far too many patrols for Vader's liking.

In the end, however, they got to the corridor that was indisputably his, and the stormtroopers outside the door definitely from the 501st. Darth Vader would not admit to it, but a slight tension that had gripped him the whole trip from the hangar, which had nothing to do with the particulars of how his son had ended up where he had or anything else but was all about who else might see, bled out of him.

The child suddenly tensed as the doors swooped open, becoming negligently heavier and trying to push back against the hand on his back. Vader kept back a snort, if barely.


Shifting the position of his hand to a shoulder, he shoved the boy inside and quickly followed to let the door close behind them. Luke whirled around to face him, seeming to hesitate between dropping his bags so he could more easily defend himself (against what, was the question) or clutching them closer.

He'd been about to reach for him, but then he paused and just... stared.

Blood thundered through his veins, echoing in his ears, pulsing through the half-healed wounds on his scalp. There was a low, dull ache winding through his body, scraping against his senses like the sand he had left behind decades ago.

The boy stared up at him, eyes wide, face still pale and a nearly cramp-tight grip on his bags, but his expression was dark and his chin was jutting out. Stubbornness and defiance bled out of every pore, and now Darth Vader had no idea how to take the next step.

So instead, after a few minutes of silence - during which Luke had begun to shift, glancing around the room without turning away from him - he swept forward, ignored Luke's defensive, but quickly-contained wince and grabbed his arm, pulling him across the room, through the empty room beyond it and opened the next set of doors with the Force.

"Familiarise yourself with these rooms. They will be yours for the foreseeable future," he said as he pushed his son inside and then stepped back, the doors closing and locking.

Staring at the closed door, Darth Vader closed his eyes.

The superficial barrier did nothing; he could feel the child's presence like he was still standing right in front of him, a burgeoning bright flare in the Force that promised to turn into a sun, far beyond anything he'd ever felt.

Obi-Wan had lied to the boy.

His former master had told his son he'd killed his father.

For what aim? The thought that seemed most obvious, but was also one even he had not thought Obi-Wan capable of, even after leaving him beside the river of lava on Mustafar, was that he'd been setting Luke up to 'avenge' his father. To do what Obi-Wan could not, and thus, in black, humourless irony, actually kill his father, believing him to be his father's killer.

Leather creaking as his gloved fingers dug into his palms and the tension from gritting his teeth burrowed into his jaw and speared outwards, what drew him back was the tense jerkiness of Luke's Force presence, the wary nervousness and worry that flickered up only to be doused over with determination.

Turning on his heel, Vader stalked back the way he'd come, locking the first set of doors as well without thinking about it much and retreated to his hyperbaric chamber.

The helmet came off with the usual hissing pop, and Vader took a deep, slow breath.

Reached, almost reflexively, for the holodevice and datapad he kept in here and then paused. He didn't need to rely on the academy file holo, hastily captured surveillance holos or even the recording Admiral Mar'lath had made anymore. He could just...

Hesitating, Vader slowly reached out and activated the video feed.

It was only installed in the first of the two rooms, though Luke would probably not be pleased by this knowledge either way - he'd promised himself he would only use it when absolutely necessary, but this first instance didn't count.

Staring at the screen as it lit up, he watched the boy hesitantly drop his bags on the floor, all the while he kept staring at the door as if it was about to open, and resisted blinking for as long as possible. Knew he shouldn't indulge at all - almost terminated the feed, because this was not becoming---

Vader gently laid his hand down on the controls and didn't press the button to deactivate the feed as he watched the lights in the room slide off his son's darkening blond hair (the child needed a haircut, he was reminded), slither off the narrow shoulders not really hidden underneath the dark, nearly black, green cloak.

Watched as Luke glanced around sharply, then stomped up to the control panel for the door and tried fiddling with it. It didn't respond, of course. Both saw and felt the boy's frustration flash through him, across his face and through his presence in the Force. Tensed the cables and joints in his hand and arm with a thought, stilled trembling which shouldn't even be possible while Luke finally slammed a fist against the panel and turned around, slumping against the door.

Breath catching in his throat, the heightened oxygen and pressure in the chamber somehow not enough, Vader tightened his hand into a fist and slammed the feed off, carefully leaning forward and resting his face in one hand, the other clutching an armrest.

He had lost so much time, and Obi-Wan had ensured their first meeting would never be a simple reunion, whatever else the circumstances may have been.

Rage and frustration boiled up, sung through his veins and smothered a tiny, glittering shard that had felt nothing but a deep, triumphant pleasure from being able to rest his hand at the small of his son's back.