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Crux

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Anakin is sixteen and he almost died. The thought has been bouncing around in his head for a few days now, but it’s only just taken proper root. Now when he’s standing in the Council chamber, it finally really struck him as the absolute, undisputable truth. He should be dead…

Anakin is sixteen and when he frowns the small movement pulls at the bandage still stuck to the right side of his face. The burns will heal, the scar will remain, there was nothing more to it. It’s a reminder of the previous thought. He should be dead…

Anakin is sixteen and his arm is gone. He tries not to think about it, but it’s a little heard to ignore. His brain reminds him of this fact every second. He wants to say it out loud just to hear the words out loud, to convince himself. He wants to point and stare at the crude exoskeletal metal that hangs from the stump below his shoulder. He wants to look each and every councillor in the eye and tell them that his arm is gone. Can’t they see it? Is it not obvious? They really do not care? There used to be flesh and bone here! And now there is metal and wires! He wants them all to look at it… he never wants anyone to see it. He should be dead…

Anakin is sixteen and he can’t help but think that losing this much flesh makes him worth less. It’s a thought he does not want in his head, not ever, but it’s there. He’s been freed when he was nine, his chip was removed, and he swore he would never be a slave again. Just for a little while, he failed in that promise. He was weak. He’s disappointed in himself. He should be dead…

Anakin is sixteen and he’s never seen his Master this angry before. He can see the tension in his shoulders, the rigidity of his back, and the tight clench of his bearded jaw. Obi-Wan is angry, his face is carved from stone, his voice steady and low, but burning with fire. Windu tried to interrupt him several times already, but Obi-Wan just snatches the conversation right back with cold efficiency. There is a look in his eyes that Anakin does not recognise. The mission went wrong, like Obi-Wan said it would. They made it back, but Anakin…

He should be dead. He knows that the Force was with him in that last crucial moment. That’s what saved him; the Force and Obi-Wan.

But the Force was a distant thought when he woke up dazed and chained, his arm throbbing in pain, staring at the wide smile of a theelin who held a transmitter in her hand. They chipped him. Anakin’s vision turned red with fury, his mind blank and hyper focused. Only the whimpering from the cages around him stopped him from trying to rip the thing right out of her hand with the Force… or catch her by the neck.

Obi-Wan’s anger was obvious to everyone in the room. When Qui-Gon warned the council about the Sith, they did not listen. And when Obi-Wan told them that someone else should be assigned to the mission and not Anakin and himself, the Council did not listen. Ki-Adi-Mundi speaks softly, asks Obi-Wan to calm himself, to listen. Obi-Wan stares the Master into silence. He is both unstoppable and immovable. He will not bend to their will.

When Obi-Wan came for him, he did not know about the transmitter chip, and Anakin had no time to warn him. It wasn’t his fault. Anakin cannot remember the pain as his arm was torn to pieces at the press of a button. He just remembers the sound, the smell and the warmth of his blood as it splashed on his face. He knows he hit the ground immediately, blood pouring out of the shredded stump that used to be his arm, too quickly to quench. He heard other explosions, not just his chip got detonated. He remembers the noise that tore out of his throat, and the look on Obi-Wan’s face when he ran to him with his lightsabre still lit.

He should be dead, the transmitter should have killed him, even if it was only in his arm. It should have torn a chunk out from his side or taken his head off. He was bleeding too much, too quickly, he should’ve gone into shock. He doesn’t remember Obi-Wan’s lightsabre cutting into his flesh, stopping the bleeding and sealing the wound, he only remembers Obi-Wan’s hand on his face. His lips moved, but Anakin couldn’t hear a word he said, his ears were ringing too loudly. Even then he did not feel pain, just a crystal-clear connection between them, all around them. There was nothing but Obi-Wan and the Force.

Obi-Wan doesn’t care for the council’s words. He doesn’t want to listen to them anymore. He says this shouldn’t have happened. The Order, the Jedi shouldn’t be like this. He doesn’t want any part of this. He cannot go on like this. He’s done. He’s done!

Anakin is sixteen and he hasn’t been this afraid in a long time. He wants to reach for his Master and ask him not to leave him. He wants to cling to Obi-Wan’s hand like he did on the transport ship on their way back to Coruscant. His master can’t leave him, he can’t, he can’t…

The galaxy is holding its breath on a knife’s edge, the Force coiling and shivering.

Obi-Wan tells the Council they’re leaving. He steps back until his shoulder almost touches Anakin’s. They stand united. The anger is still burning in his eyes, but there is no darkness, no matter what Yoda might say. Obi-Wan is warmth and light, and he is not leaving Anakin behind. His metal fingers curl into a fist, but his arm doesn’t hurt as much right now.

Some of the masters still protest, but the rest have fallen silent, including Windu and Yoda. They know when a decision has been made, they felt the shift in the Force, the change.

Obi-Wan does not bow to them, so neither is Anakin, they just walk out.

Anakin is sixteen and he wonders if maybe he will finally see his mother again.