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Ghosts in the Dark [Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, PG-13] [Jul. 5th, 2008|11:31 pm]
Star Wars Ficathon Festival

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[beatrice_otter]
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Title: Ghosts in the Dark
Author: beatrice_otter
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Han Solo, Luke Skywalker
Word Count: 1,293
Written for: starwarsficfest, July 5.
Summary: Han and Luke, prisoners together in Jabba’s dungeon. Vader’s torture was very thorough.  AU.

Han had been in the cell in Jabba’s palace dungeon for a while—they’d given him food and water once or twice—when the door opened and someone was shoved in.  He could tell it was a person because he heard the thump of a body hitting the floor, followed by the rustling of someone standing up.  “Who’s there?” he said, trying to keep his voice even.  He was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, but sat more upright.  His balance and coordination were screwed up almost as much as his vision, but he’d be damned before he’d let them see him cower.

“It’s me, Han.”  Luke’s voice was … quieter, more somber than Han remembered.

“Luke?” Han swallowed.

“I’m here, Han.”

Han jumped as a hand touched his arm.  For a second, he could almost see the stormtroopers, hauling him towards the rack.  Not the first time he’d half hallucinated something in this darkness.  He grabbed for the wall, rough stone reassuring him that he wasn’t back on Cloud City.

Luke’s hand dropped away.  Han laughed silently, no mirth in it.  If you’d asked him ten seconds earlier if he’d mind being touched, he’d have said hell no; he’d spent his time in the cell compulsively touching everything, trying to convince himself that the world really was out there, that he wasn’t trapped in a nightmare inside Carbonite.  Touch was his only real lifeline to the world outside his head, alone in the dark.  If it was going to abandon him, too …

“I’m here, Han,” Luke said again, voice gentle.  His voice came from close to Han’s head, but he didn’t try to touch him again.

“You already said that, kid,” Han said.

“I know,” Luke said.  “It seemed like you needed to hear it again.”

“Maybe I did, at that.”  Han leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes; it wasn’t like they were doing him much good, anyway.  “So, Jabba’s got me, you, Leia … what about Chewie?”

“Him, too,” Luke said.

“So, we’re doing about the same as always, huh, kid?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

Han listened to Luke move to sit beside him; his skin prickled at having him so close.  “Sounds like we’re kinda screwed.”  This was Luke beside him.  The farm kid-turned-hotshot pilot he’d taught to drink and play sabaac.  The one who’d taught him to have faith in something greater than him and Chewie and the Falcon again.

“Relax,” Luke said confidently.  “I’ve taken care of everything.”

Han tilted his head towards the kid; that was a tone Luke had—after a lot of coaching and just general experience—learned to give the pilots under his command, but not one he’d ever taken with Han before.  “No offense, kid, but the last time you said that …”

Luke laid a hand on his shoulder.  “I’d like to think I’ve learned a little since then,” he said.  “It’s my turn to rescue you, again.  Trust me.”

Han swallowed.  He was in Jabba’s palace.  There were no stormtroopers.  The flashes of white were his vision playing tricks on him, not stormtrooper armor.  The man by his side was his best human friend, Luke.  Darth Vader was not here.  Jabba might kill him—probably would—but there were no electric shock racks waiting for him.  “Of course I trust you,” he said.  “But a little warning about what’s gonna go down would be nice.”

“Planning things out in advance?” Luke said, amused.  “You, Han?”

“Yeah, me,” Han growled, shrugging off his hand.

“Jabba always parades his captives before executing them.  And he always executes groups of people together, not individually.  It’s a better show that way.”

Han nodded.  He’d never seen Jabba kill anyone, but that sounded just like the kind of thing he’d like, all right.

“Lando Calrissian is working as a guard,” Luke continued.  “Artoo and Threepio are also here working, and Artoo has my lightsaber in a concealed compartment, ready for my call.  His guards aren’t that good; once we’re all together, I call for my lightsaber, Lando and I release you and Leia and Chewie, and we escape.”

Han nodded, thinking it over.  Could work; Luke was right about the quality of Jabba’s palace guards.  After regular tangles with stormtroopers and bounty hunters, Han wasn’t worried about them.  “Kenobi said that lightsaber used to belong to your father, right?”  He’d gotten Luke drunk once, and Luke had turned a bit maudlin, sniffling about it being the only thing he had of his father, the Jedi Knight tragically murdered by Vader along with the rest of the Jedi.

“No,” Luke said, and Han realized Luke had paused to think before answering.  Not usual, for him; usually, the kid just charged on in putting his feet in his mouth.  “That one is lost.  I made a new one for myself.  It was a traditional rite of passage for Jedi.”

“You a Jedi now, kid?” Han asked, an edge to his voice.  How long had he been in Carbonite, anyway?

Another pause.  “Yes,” Luke said.

“Like your father before you,” Han said, the words twisting in his mouth.  He swallowed back bile.

“What did he tell you?” Luke asked, voice dark.

Hells.  Han had been praying he’d be clueless.  Vader had to have been lying.  Had to.  He pushed away the memory of Vader standing beside him as he writhed on pain, making it all infinitely worse with a few carefully chosen words.  “Vader said you were his son.”  Luke would laugh, say it was a trick on Vader’s part, joke that Han was getting soft in his old age, if he fell for a lie that transparent.  Any minute now, he’d say that.

Right?

Any minute now.  Han struggled to keep his breathing slow and easy.  Freaking out wouldn’t help.

“I wish I could tell you it wasn’t true.”  Luke’s voice was so soft that Han had to struggle to make out the words.

Han’s stomach felt as if he were in free-fall, as if the ground had opened up beneath him.  He pressed his hands flat on the stone floor, taking comfort in its solid presence.

“Ben lied to me.  I don’t know why.”

Han could make a pretty good guess.  Luke was obsessed with his father—Han wouldn’t have told the green kid he first met the truth, either.  He’d have been too likely to go do something stupid, like get himself killed trying to make his father good, or fall in with his father’s way of thinking.

“I only found out at Bespin, Han.”  Luke was almost pleading.  Like there was anything Han could do about it.  “Vader told me, too.  And I didn’t want to believe it, but it’s true.  Force, I wish … I tried …”  He trailed off.  “I’m still Luke Skywalker,” he said, voice more confident.  Like it had been when he first entered the cell.  “I’m not a Sith, and I’m not going to be one.  I’m not going to turn to the Dark Side.  We’re going to get out of here, and I’m going back to finish my training.  Nothing else has to change.”

“Who are you trying to convince, Luke, me or you?” Han asked harshly.

“Han, I—”

“Shut up, kid,” Han interrupted.  “Just shut up.  I can’t deal with this now.  I don’t know how long it’s been for you, but for me, Vader tortured me yesterday.  I can’t deal with this now.”

“Okay,” Luke said.

Han would have felt bad about the misery in his friend’s voice, if he could have spared the energy to think about it.

But it took all his concentration, sitting there in the dark, to convince himself that Luke’s breathing sounded nothing like Vader’s respirator.

LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: luminations
2008-07-06 03:00 pm (UTC)
Poor Han! Hating Vader even more for the torture and having to deal with his blood running through his friend's veins... and the "I can't deal with this now" does nothing to chase that awful feeling away. Nice work!
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-06 08:47 pm (UTC)
No, it doesn't chase it away. But there's nothing that can except time to heal, and there hasn't been near enough of it.

Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: saucysushi
2008-07-06 03:04 pm (UTC)
Gah. I love this line: “Shut up, kid,” Han interrupted. “Just shut up. I can’t deal with this now. I don’t know how long it’s been for you, but for me, Vader tortured me yesterday. I can’t deal with this now.” Yeah, you think you had a bad day? I love how Han is trying hard to not to freak out, convincing himself that Luke is indeed not like his father. Awesome.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-06 08:45 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! Han's normally pretty blase about everything, too cool to get freaked out. This? This deserves a freak-out, even for Han.
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[User Picture]From: were_lemur
2008-07-06 07:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, ouch! Poor Han. Poor both of them, for that matter. :(
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-06 08:43 pm (UTC)
I know. I wasn't planning it to be quite this dark--neither Han nor Luke being particularly dark, brooding characters. But as I wrote it, I realized that now of all times neither of them could be up to their usual banter or antics. They're trying, but they're both walking wounded.
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[User Picture]From: vikkir
2008-07-06 09:38 pm (UTC)
Wow - that was so emotionally charged I think I was holding my breath. Wonderful job.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-06 11:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: archaeologist_d
2008-07-06 10:00 pm (UTC)
Loved this, especially the last line. I like how Han needs to deal with it but he hasn't had time. Luke has and it's still hurting him.

Great job with this.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-06 11:45 pm (UTC)
One of the things that bothers me with most TV and movies is that people can be mortally wounded/crippled/etc (both physically and mentally) and recover completely by the end of the episode. So in my stories, it's important for me not to do that.

I'm glad you liked it.
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[User Picture]From: brightbear
2008-07-07 02:49 am (UTC)
Oh, nicely done and subtle. The movies never really dealt with Han and Luke talking about either the torture or Vader. I didn't really think they'd be the kind of people to talk about things (especially Han) but this was spectacularly believable.

Am adding to memories.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-07 03:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! Han isn't the type to talk, normally, but there are some things that can't be held in. I'm glad this worked for you.
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[User Picture]From: sunnyskywalker
2008-07-07 07:58 pm (UTC)
Wow, this was a fascinating idea! Vader revealing the secret to Han never occurred to me, but now I can totally imagine him just bursting to tell someone - and also knowing it might drive Luke's friends away from him, and thus possibly closer to Vader... And I love stories that show how disorienting it must have been for Han to wake up what feels like a day later while months have passed for everyone else, and Han and Luke interacting more in RotJ.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-07 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. Vader--who can he talk to? Not the Emperor, for sure, and his goal is to terrify his minions, not gossip about his kid like any proud father. He's a very isolated character. And Han--you don't bounce back from torture. You just don't. The mental scars last a lot longer than the physical ones. And adding that "time out of joint" feeling from being in carbon-freeze for so long is just the cherry on top.
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[User Picture]From: leiamoody
2008-07-08 05:40 am (UTC)
Masterfully executed throughout...the general atmosphere is so sad, and it's obvious that this will be a lingering demon between them, no matter what transpires in the immediate future. (Really, the whole premise requires a dark tone, so sadness is pretty much inevitable).

Anyway, this is an excellent response to the prompt.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-08 06:42 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
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From: sandspirit
2008-07-08 12:02 pm (UTC)
That's a hard truth even if it learned from Luke and after the Endor victory, but this way - it was ten times harsher, for both of them. Han's deep pain and confusion, and desperate wish to be told it's not true. Luke's being aware of all this, but not being able to say or do anything about it.
And I would think Han would agree with Ben, too.
Great work!
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-08 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: hey_its_me
2008-07-08 03:57 pm (UTC)
Ooo that was a really interesting twist! I like it!

Great last sentence, too.

You did really well with exploring both the characters and their reactions in such a case as this--great, great scene. Mind if I post a link to this on the Skywalker_Solo group? (If you do mind, I won't, no worries.)
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-08 05:21 pm (UTC)
Go right ahead and post the link. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: pronker
2008-07-09 12:28 am (UTC)
The cell isn't nearly as dark as Han's and Luke's spirits right now. Nice touch with the time out of joint feel and I liked Luke's feeling low, then bucking himself up.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-09 03:06 am (UTC)
The cell isn't nearly as dark as Han's and Luke's spirits right now.

Definitely. Thanks for commenting!
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[User Picture]From: tatooine_dreams
2008-07-09 01:44 am (UTC)
Poor Han...he really got his head messed with. And to be carrying the secret of Luke's parentage really topped it all off. But I really liked this little in-between-scenes story. Luke really grew up fast between ESB and ROTJ but Han doesn't realize it yet.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-09 03:16 am (UTC)
Yeah. Now, Vader's got all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the head, but that doesn't mean he does any less damage than, say, the Emperor.

Thank you for reviewing!
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[User Picture]From: emavalexis
2008-07-10 02:21 am (UTC)
Great ‘missing scene’ fic here. Both Han and Luke’s ‘voices’ sound exactly right and in-character, their conversation natural and believable.
Great job.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-10 03:47 am (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: seal_girl
2008-07-22 08:25 pm (UTC)
That was great - an excellent use of the prompt - Torture can come in so many forms! What better way to try and destroy the Alliance leaders that for within.

I liked the last line, that really seemed to drive home the point, and show Hans' state of mind about the whole thing.

*enjoys for fish*
Sealgirl
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-07-22 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, the guy who took such glee in telling Luke that Obi-Wan lied to him would certainly do something similar to Han. But the purpose wouldn't be to affect the rebellion--at this point, Vader's obsession is completely focused on his son. No, the point of this is to make sure that if Luke gets away (and he did) he's isolated from the people who normally form his support system.
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[User Picture]From: treenahasthaal
2008-08-07 09:27 am (UTC)
Nicely done! I do like the relationship between Han and Luke. Great idea that Vader told Han about Luke being his son. It throws a little bit of unknown into the friendship.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-08-07 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's always fun to ask "What if?"
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[User Picture]From: lyore
2008-08-16 08:25 am (UTC)
This is superb. One little change... Poor Han, and poor Luke. Ouch.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-08-16 01:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Ouch.

I'm glad you liked it!
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[User Picture]From: fialleril
2008-08-21 05:06 am (UTC)
For some reason I'm only just reading this, but I have to say: this fic is amazing. That last line especially is a kicker. And I really like the way you explored Han's trauma after being tortured, especially the idea that, for him, it was only yesterday that everything happened.

He’d have been too likely to go do something stupid, like get himself killed trying to make his father good

I especially love this line because, well, it's true. :D
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-08-21 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. That kind of trauma doesn't go away overnight.

And yeah, I couldn't resist that line.
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From: _darthvader_
2008-10-13 06:57 pm (UTC)
Wow once more I got to say this tale was so chilling! I love Han's struggle with teh truth, and the desperation you can feel when Luke is trying to convince Han that he is his own person.

But the ending was just amazing sent chills down my spine as you can almost feel the walls closing in on Han. That eerie feeling of not knowing who you can trust anymore.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-10-13 07:20 pm (UTC)
I love playing "what if"--it's what drew me to science fiction in the first place. I think things would have been much different had Han learned earlier, before he'd had time to heal a little and been caught up in the tide of events. Thank you for reviewing!
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[User Picture]From: narnia06
2008-10-17 09:39 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I liked this. Very intriguing concept. Really interesting to get inside Han's head at this point. It was very poignant and well executed.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2008-10-17 10:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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From: ext_223372
2010-04-26 06:53 pm (UTC)
+chills again+

Wow. That...an angle I never thought of at all, but it fits, is so perfect to canon for me. It's ... Zahn-ish, the kind of writing I expect from Timothy Zahn as he meshed his envisioning of the EU to what the prequels had done to the timelines.
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[User Picture]From: beatrice_otter
2010-04-26 07:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That is such a compliment.
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