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Finding Peace in a Time of War

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Anakin first notices it when he’s thirteen years old and he’s been taught all about the emotions he’s not suppose to be feeling by Master Stass Allie. She’s telling them something about how to fake them though, and Anakin has honestly lost interest very quickly. He doesn’t understand why they have to fake emotions when they can just feel them. The Jedi way hasn’t always made sense to him.

They’re paired off after a while, and when Anakin asks Darra just what they’re doing she rolls her eyes at him. Across the way Ferus spares them a narrow look, and Anakin barely stops himself from poking his tongue out at him childishly.

“We’re suppose to be faking our expressions,” Darra explains, interrupting Anakin’s glaring contest, “Master Stass wants us to try faking being happy.”

“Why fake?” Anakin grumbles as he follows Darra to the other side of the room away from Ferus. “Why can’t we just be happy?”

“We’re not suppose to feel emotion, remember?” Darra sighs and Anakin grins sheepishly as she frowns at him. Okay, so he might not be the best student, but at least he can still kick Ferus’s ass with a lightsaber. Darra doesn’t say anything more to him as she turns to face him, and Anakin is surprised to see her eyes watering as her bottom lip wobbles.

“Are you okay?” he instantly demands as he jumps forward, “oh force, I haven’t offended you have I?”

Her laugh of course makes him realise that she’d been faking it, and he jokingly punches her shoulder. She lets out a fake “ouch!” before jumping forward to tackle him. They’re both cackling loud enough that Master Allie hears them, and while she gives them a stern look they don’t get told off very much.

Ferus looks like he’s sucked on a lemon, and Anakin smirks at him. He knows Ferus gets told off by his Master all the time. He loves to go on missions with them and Obi-Wan, if only just to see Ferus get told off for things Obi-Wan won’t even consider to be a problem with him.

The exercise continues without much more worry until Master Allie is calling them to attention. When Anakin turns around to look at her, it’s to see Obi-Wan standing beside her with a small smile directly at Anakin.

Normally seeing his Master makes him grin in excitement, but for some reason Anakin finds himself scrutinising his Master’s expression today. He looks at Obi-Wan smile, and for all purposes it looks completely real.

But when Anakin looks at Obi-Wan’s eyes, he knows it’s completely fake.

“Padawan Skywalker,” Master Allie calls out, “Master Kenobi is here for you.”

Anakin doesn’t muck around as he nods and scrambles for this things. He pokes his tongue out at Ferus when he giggles at Anakin tripping over himself, but otherwise he ignores the others as he rushes behind Obi-Wan out the door.

“Where are we going, Master?” he asks as soon as the door is closed behind him, and Obi-Wan glances down at him with a small smile.

“Ever the curious one,” he comments. “The council has requested our presence. I think Master Windu wants to speak about your progress.”

Anakin pouts at the news. He hates visiting Master Windu to tell him all about his classes. He’s never very nice to Anakin, and he always feels like sticking itching powder in Master Windu’s underwear draw after every session.

“Do I have to?” Anakin whines, and he hears Obi-Wan chuckle. “Everyone knows that I’m one of the best!”

“So modest,” Obi-Wan chucks off, and Anakin glares at him.

“I just don’t think this class Master Allie is teaching us,” he says. “I think it’s stupid having to learn how to fake all of our feelings. I think C3PO would agree with me. He told me that no one likes a faker!”

Obi-Wan stiffens, and Anakin observes it out of the corner of his eye. Contrary to belief, he is surprisingly good at reading body language, and he knows this might be his chance to pressure Obi-Wan into answer just why his smile seems fake. When he really thinks about it, he realises that Obi-Wan has never actually looked truly happy, and he doesn’t understand why.

“We cannot always accept our emotions, Anakin,” Obi-Wan, unsurprisingly, says sternly, and Anakin frowns.

"But Master, emotions shouldn’t always be faked-"

"You would do well to remember that emotions are not things to be messed with,” Obi-Wan cuts him off almost harshly. “There is a method to our madness, Anakin. Emotions and feelings can be dangerous disadvantages. We learn to control them, and sometimes ignore them, so as not to let them get the better of us.”

"Is that why you're never happy, Obi-Wan? Because you choose to ignore your feelings?"

"Leave it, Anakin. Do not ask me again."

"But Master-"

"I said leave it!"

It's the first time Anakin's seen a strong emotion besides sadness from his Master, and unsurprisingly its anger. Anakin remembers Master Windu teaching them that anger comes with loss, and he glances down to see Obi-Wan's hands closed into fists as they shake with his fury. 

"Master," Anakin starts slowly, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry-"

"You don't understand anything, padawan," Obi-Wan dismisses him harshly, "you have much to learn."

Anakin just bows his head in acceptance and stays silent. Obi-Wan hovers still for a moment longer before he huffs and starts to stride off down the corridor. Anakin quietly falls into step behind him and chooses to say nothing more for the remainder of their walk to the council room. 

There's a spark of curiosity in him, one that makes him want to keep pushing his Master and figure out just why Obi-Wan is so…impassive, but he knows that upsetting his Master will not be worth it. 

So he maintains his silence, and tries not to think about how instead of happiness, he'd only elicited fury in his Master's eyes. 


 

ONE:

Anakin doesn’t think much of it for many years. After all, he knows that Jedi are to never really feel their emotions and at his age it’s being pressed home more than normal. It comes to attention though that Obi-Wan’s lack of… well, any sort of genuine happy emotion is very strange indeed when Yoda brings it up.

He’d been disobedient lately, to alarming ends really, and the Jedi Council had unanimously decided that it was due to his “inability to cope with his changing self” and grounded him until he could be coached through the changes of his body.

Basically, he was being grounded because they thought his disobedience was due to his entry out of puberty and the current interest in the opposite sex that all young nineteen year olds experience.

Obi-Wan had simply laughed at his pain and told him that all of them had to go through it when they became mature padawans. It’s simply the way the Jedi cope with preventing young Jedi from going astray and, essentially, shagging their way through the Coruscant streets to figure out what it is they’re feeling.

“But I know what I’m feeling, Master!” Anakin had insisted as he’d stood in the hanger watching Obi-Wan preparing himself to leave for a solo mission. “Can’t you just tell them I’m being disobedient because I think their rules are stupid?”

“Learning a bit of humility will go a long way, Anakin,” Obi-Wan replied, and he’d looked at Anakin with that fond but not quite happy expression Anakin had grown use to. He hadn’t bothered to bring it up, he’d learnt his lesson long ago that Obi-Wan simply did not want to discuss his emotions with anyone, and he’d just grudgingly said goodbye and wished him luck.

Being stuck in a counselling session with Yoda twice a week for the six weeks Obi-Wan is away though is it’s own personal brand of torture. Anakin has managed to stumble through the first half by sheer luck, and the happiness that Ferus is stuck doing it with him, but when he walks in for his seventh session he’s surprised that he’s all alone.

“Where is Ferus, Master?” he asks Yoda as he settles down on one of the cushions in the airy room. It’s much like the council room with all the windows and lightness of the place, but Anakin doesn’t know if he’s fully comfortable in here. There’s a sense of uneasiness, and he’s certain that it comes from being around Yoda. A being such as him with such a strong connection to the force is constantly unsettling.

“Away with his Master, Padawan Olin is,” Yoda replies as he cracks open an eye from where, Anakin notices too late, he was mediating.

“Oh,” he involuntary says, and he reaches up to scratch the back of his neck. “So, is this session cancelled?”

“Get away that easily, you cannot,” Yoda chuckles as he shifts on his perch to sit up straighter and pin Anakin with his old eyes. Anakin squirms a little under the scrutiny, but he sticks his chin out and makes eye contact with Yoda. “Focus on feelings, today, we must.”

“Feelings?” Anakin replies in surprise. “I thought as Jedi we are not suppose to acknowledge our feelings.”

“Misinformed, you are,” Yoda gently scolds, “to be human, feelings one must have. Be serene, we cannot, if acknowledge our feelings, we do not.”

Anakin stares at him for a moment, process the thoughts. They cannot be serene if they don’t acknowledge their feelings? He frowns. “But Master Obi-Wan doesn’t acknowledge his feelings and he’s constantly serene. It’s almost annoying how calm and reserved he is.”

Yoda tisks "Rare case, Master Kenobi is. Burned by his feelings, he has been. Learnt from them, he has. Learnt well from them, he has not."

"What're you trying to say, Master?" Anakin asks a bit forcefully, and Yoda looks so patient that Anakin almost feels ashamed at his inability to grasp what Yoda is saying. 

"As a person, rule you, emotions do not. Rule actions, they do," Yoda tries to explain, "learnt this the hard way, Master Kenobi has. Acknowledge his emotions, he now refuses. Scarred by his actions, he is."

"Are you saying that Obi-Wan has, well, has let his emotions get the better of him in the past?" Anakin asks, frowning as he pieces together Yoda's words. "And now he refuses to acknowledge them to stop himself from... making more mistakes?"

Yoda just nods his head as he smiles at Anakin. Frankly Anakin is amazed that he managed to understand it all considering how hard it is to understand Yoda, but he thinks over the words a bit only to purse his lips as he realises what's wrong about that. 

"Why does he not just find a happy medium?" Anakin asks. "Master Vos taught us that acknowledging your emotions is healthy for you, although you need to have a clear head to understand what to do with those emotions."

"Exemplary Jedi, Master Vos is not," Yoda sighs, "but point, he has. Unfortunately do things by halves, your Master does not. Learn things from Master Vos, he could."

"But what has happened for Obi-Wan to be like this?" Anakin demands, and by Yoda's raised eyebrow he knows he's giving into his emotions, but he doesn't care. He wants to understand his Master more. 

"My place to tell you, this is not. Your Master you must ask, for answers you seek. Gain them easily, you will not. Grievously hurt, Kenobi has been."

Anakin grows frustrated with the lack of real response, and he stands up with a frustrated huff. Yoda doesn’t seem unnerved by Anakin’s sudden movement, but Anakin feels bad as he sees a flash of irritation in Yoda’s expression.

“Sorry, Master,” he hurriedly apologises, “just, ah, can I be excused? I mean, may I leave? Can I-“

“Excused, you are,” Yoda dismisses him with a wave, and Anakin thinks he sees a smile on Yoda’s face as he scuttles for the doorway. “Carefully tread, young padawan. Addressed lightly, matters of the heart are not.”

Anakin just nods as he hurries out of the door. It’s only when he’s in the corridor that he realises there was no point to rushing out of the room. It’s not like Obi-Wan is around for Anakin to interrogate anyway, but he chooses not to turn around and go back to Yoda. Instead he walks steadily back towards his and Obi-wan’s shared quarters as he thinks about just what has happened for his Master to be so… well, blank.

He’s just in the last hallway before his room when he comes across Darra. She calls out his name and Anakin pauses long enough for her to catch up to him. The worried look on her face makes him wonder just what he looks like, and Darra reaches out to rest a hand on his shoulder.

“Are you okay, Anakin?” Darra asks kindly, “you look very pale. What’s the matter?”

Anakin tosses up for a moment whether he should tell her his concerns, but it’s only when he sees Darra’s Master, Soara Antana, approaching them as well that he thinks that he could possibly get some answers from her. After all, if Obi-Wan is close enough to Master Antana to request personal lightsaber combat training for Anakin, then there must be some sort of friendship between them.

“I’ve just come from my session with Master Yoda,” he says, loud enough for Master Antana to hear as she comes closer, “and he told me some things about Obi-Wan I don’t understand.”

“Oh? Like what?” Darra asks, and Anakin smiles at her. She’s honestly one of the loveliest padawans he’s met, and he’s glad he made friends with her.

“He told me that Master Obi-Wan’s lack of emotions is not normal for a Jedi,” he explains, quietening down now that Master Antana is all but hovering over them. “Apparently he’s not the perfect emotionless Jedi I thought he was. Master Yoda told me that we have to acknowledge our feelings, but not act on them. I pointed out that Master Obi-Wan doesn’t even acknowledge his feelings, and Master Yoda told me it’s for a reason!”

Darra looks thoughtful for a moment before she turns to look up at Master Antana. “Master,” she starts to say softly, “do you know why Master Kenobi is so reserved?”

Master Antana looks put on the spot for a long moment as she eyes up Anakin. Clearly he hadn’t been as subtle as he’d like, as it’s obvious she knows this is exactly what he’d wanted. Instead of answering though, Master Antana gestures for them to follow her back down the corridor through one of the doors into the gardens. Darra and Anakin exchange lost looks, but keep following as Master Antana guides them to one of the little secluded areas and settles down on the grass.

“Anakin,” she says as soon as Darra and Anakin have sat in front of her, “I will only tell you this because I understand that Obi-Wan will most likely never tell you himself.”

“Tell me what?”

“You continue to label Obi-Wan as emotionless,” she continues, and it sounds almost like a scolding, “yet he is not. Obi-Wan understands emotions all too well, better than most Jedi. Do you know why that might be?”

Anakin thinks for a minute, pondering the question, but it’s Darra who speaks up.

“Is it because he’s had more experience than most in this Temple, Master?”

Master Antana looks at her padawan with pride as she nods. “Obi-Wan was assigned to Master Jinn as a padawan, despite Master Jinn’s reluctance. Obi-Wan had to earn his padawanship, and a lot of the time he was rejected by Master Jinn.”

“Should you be telling us this?” Darra asks, and Anakin almost shushes her. He wants to know this story, whether Master Antana is suppose to tell them or not.

“It is common knowledge, my dear,” she replies kindly, and she looks proud that Darra has even asked. Anakin once more admires Darra’s genuineness. “Master Jinn was very vocal about his dislike of another padawan-“

“You mean a complete asshole?” comes a new voice, and Anakin turns around to see Master Quinlan Vos walking towards them. He hasn’t got Aalya with him, and Anakin frowns at the lack of  twi’lek as Master Vos comes to sit down beside Master Antana. It’s unusual to see one without the other.

“Master Vos,” Master Antana greets tensely. “Please, watch your language.”

“They’re nineteen,” Vos snorts, waving her off. “If you’re telling them this story then they need to know all the gory details.”

“Are you offering to tell them?”

Vos looks at her for a long moment before he turns his gaze to Anakin. Anakin squirms under the attention, he’s never really felt comfortable around Master Vos. There always seems to be a sort of dark atmosphere around him, and when he’d asked Obi-Wan about it he’d found out about Master Vos’s brushes with the dark side.

“Obi-Wan has never had it good,” Vos explains quickly, much more hurried than Master Antana, “Qui-Gon’s first padawan was a wonderful success, but his second one, Xanthos, turned to the dark side. Qui-Gon rejected Obi-Wan because of this, and Obi-Wan really had to prove himself.  A lot of us didn’t understand why he continued to persist, but Obi-Wan seemed determined to be Qui-Gon’s padawan.”

“Maybe Qui-Gon was the best,” Anakin replies stubbornly, and Vos’s lips twitch into a smirk at Anakin’s defiance.

“Think what you want, Skywalker, but Qui-Gon was not a god.”

This isn’t explaining anything,” Master Antana interrupts the two of them with a glare, “stop demonising Master Jinn, Quinlan.”

Vos puts his hands up in surrender and turns back to Anakin. “Obi-Wan is not the exemplary Jedi you have been lead to believe. He’s actually rather bad at it. After all that grovelling to Qui-Gon, all of that attachment, he fell in love.”

Anakin’s eyes widen. Obi-Wan? In love? He must be wrong.

“It’s true, Anakin,” Master Antana says gently, “there was a young girl on one of their earlier missions. They fell in love and he renounced the Jedi Order for her. But… shortly after his return to her side she was shot and killed in front of him.”

“Why has he never spoken of this?” Anakin asks naively, and Vos tips his head back and laughs.

“Besides love being deeply forbidden in the Jedi ways?” Vos replies sarcastically. “Obi-Wan is better than most of us, but he suffers from this little thing called guilt.”

“Vos, don’t be sarcastic,” Master Antana scolds him, but Vos waves her off.

“Obi-Wan blames himself for Cersai’s death, and for Qui-Gon’s. He even feels guilty for the deaths that were avoidable, such as one of our fellow Jedi rivals who fell to the dark side and died because of it.” Vos pauses to purse his lips. “There’s a reason why Obi-Wan chooses not to acknowledge his feelings, and that’s because if he ever does he’ll be consumed by them.”

Anakin sits in startled silence as Darra breaths heavily beside him and Master Antana scolds Vos some more. It’s strange to think that the reason that Obi-Wan is so withdrawn and hesitant is because… well, because of guilt.

He thinks back to when he first met Obi-Wan, when Qui-Gon was alive, and he remembers that Obi-Wan was in fact a bit more bright and bubbly. He was still overly cautious but with a reckless Master, like Qui-Gon, Anakin couldn’t blame him.

He looks at the other two Masters in front of him and wonders if he was wrong to seek his answers through them. It’s obvious that Jedi are not suppose to have secrets, but he feels dirty. As if he’s just uncovered a secret he wasn’t suppose to know about.

Darra is looking at him in concern but he waves her off. She doesn’t leave him to his thoughts though as she places her hand on his knee and murmurs his name. He frowns at her and drops his head into his hands to avoid looking at her. He doesn’t know what to say just yet.

Thankfully he doesn’t have to as he hears the rustling of trees followed by a loudly exclaimed “there you are! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” from a very familiar voice.

Obi-Wan comes pushing into the clearing, faltering at seeing the assemble of people, but he looks at Anakin and grins brightly. Anakin’s already guilty mind becomes that little bit more guilty as he realises that he really should’ve spoken to Obi-Wan about this instead of Vos or Master Antana.

“Obi-Wan!” Master Antana says delightfully as she stands up, “you’re back much earlier than anticipated!”

He smiles at her. “It turns out the separatists decided against negotiating with the miraluka. It only took another couple of days to ensure Alpheridies has suitable security before I was on my way.”

Anakin watches his Master curiously. For all purposes, Obi-Wan looks thrilled to be home. There’s a smile on his face and he’s laughing at something Vos has said, but when Anakin looks closer he can see that Obi-Wan’s eyes don’t reflect his mirth, that his shoulders are still slumped… that he still looks so sad.

Maybe Master Antana is right. Maybe Obi-Wan isn’t emotionless… maybe he’s just sad.

Anakin squares his jaw as he makes the decision that he will be making Obi-Wan smile brightly, if it’s the last thing he does. He thinks hard about what he use to do whenever his mother was sad, and he stands up to turn towards Obi-Wan with a determined look on his face.

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan greets with a smile, and he reaches out to place his hand on Anakin’s shoulder as they usually do. Traditionally, Anakin would greet him back, clap his arm, then they would move on.

This time though Anakin steps forward to drag his Master into a tight hug. “I missed you, Obi-Wan,” he murmurs into his Master’s neck, and he can feel just how ridged Obi-Wan goes underneath him.

There’s a hesitant pause, one that makes Anakin stress that he might have just screwed up, before Obi-Wan’s arms come around to settle on Anakin’s waist as he squeezes him back just as tightly.

“I missed you too, Anakin,” he says quietly, and when Anakin pulls back he sees that Obi-Wan looks delightfully surprised.

It’s not the happiness Anakin was aiming for, but it’s something better than the sadness he’s use to seeing.


 

INTERLUDE

Unfortunately Anakin doesn’t have much time after that to explore the possibility of making Obi-Wan smile again, smile like he means it. As soon as Obi-Wan reports to the council, with Anakin at his side, they’re sent away on mission after mission.

“Tenuous times, these are,” Yoda had simply said to them, “disturbance in the force, we feel. Cautious, we must be.”

They end up on Korriban, and Anakin finds himself struggling to get along with Ferus. Darra scolds him constantly and the other padawan, Tru Veld, is torn between laughing at their antics and growing exasperated. They manage to tolerate each other for a short amount of time, enough for their Master’s to trust them with their own tasks, but after that… it all goes down hill.

They come back from Korriban with four Masters and three padawans, and Anakin misses Darra much more than he thought possible.

There is no time to mourn though, and Anakin finds it easier to not think about Darra’s death when he has something to do. Master Windu informs them the day after their return that they are to attend to Senator Amidala, and be her bodyguards. There’s a lump that grows in Anakin’s throat at the thought of being back around Padme, and he can’t help his nervousness as Obi-Wan accepts the mission on his behalf as well and leads them towards the Senator Rooms in the Senate District.

He’s nervous the whole ride up in the elevator, and Obi-Wan rolls his eyes at him. “Calm down, Anakin,” he chides gently, and Anakin shakes himself.

“I haven’t seen her in ten years,” he replies shortly, and Obi-Wan snorts as he claps a hand onto Anakin’s shoulder. Anakin reaches up to grasp it before Obi-Wan can pull it away, and out of the corner of his eye he sees Obi-Wan smile a little at the affectionate touch. It’s good, it’s what Anakin wants, but he drops his hand as soon as the elevator door opens and they’re faced with Jar Jar Binks.

Things are awkward and tense at first, but Anakin finds that the affection he’s always held for Padme just increases every moment he’s around her. Obi-Wan clearly understands he has a crush, but he doesn’t scold him for it. He just claps Anakin on the shoulder and shakes his head.

Anakin knows why, and he winces every time he sees Obi-Wan regard them with sad eyes.

After the assassination attempt by Zam Weasel, Anakin has no time to try talk to Obi-Wan. It seems like that’s all he lacks, time, and he grows frustrated as Obi-Wan bids him farewell before he leaves the planet, and Anakin follows shortly with Padme and the droids.

Naboo is calm and quiet, and after their brief stay in Theed they leave for the Varykino lake retreat. Padme seems excited to be going back, and Anakin enjoys her happiness. It’s addictive and beautiful, and he can’t take his eyes off of her.

They walk in the sun, lounge on the balconies, dine together, and spend afternoons rolling in the grass and laughing like they have no cares in the world. Anakin finds himself falling for her laugh and smile, and he can’t help but wonder if maybe… well, maybe Obi-Wan never experienced this kind of love.

It’s strange to him how much Obi-Wan is on his mind. Every time Padme touches his arm, he wonders if Obi-Wan felt a touch like that too. Every time she smiles, he wonders if Obi-Wan’s stomach flipped with butterflies like Anakin’s does. He’s constantly thinking about Obi-Wan, and he doesn’t know why.

One evening, Padme and himself are sitting together on the plush couch in front of the fireplace. Padme is delicately sipping her wine, and Anakin is watching the way her lips glisten after every mouthful. He knows it’s probably odd, but she’s so beautiful he just can’t take his eyes off of her.

“We can’t do this, Anakin.”

He’s surprised by her sudden statement, but he doesn’t have time to question it as she turns to look at him. Her wine glass is gripped tightly in her hand and her lips are pressed into a thin line as she appraises him. Anakin shifts under the sudden scrutiny, and he cocks his head to the side as she continues to speak.

“This,” she says, gesturing between them, “this cannot happen. We can’t fall in love, Anakin.”

Anakin watches her for a long moment, his heart squeezing in his chest. “From the moment I met you,” he starts to say into the silence, “all those years ago, not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of you. And now that I’m with you again-“

“Stop,” Padme interrupts, and Anakin automatically closes his mouth at her stern words. “I know what you’re going to say. That you’re in agony, that you wish we could stop suffering alone and just be together.”

“Then you know how I feel!”

“I do,” she says gently, “listen, Anakin. We live in a real world. You’re studying to become a Jedi, I’m a senator. If you follow your thoughts through to conclusion, it will take us to ta place we cannot go, regardless of the way we feel about each other.”

“The Jedi are wrong,” Anakin protests, but it’s halfhearted, “I don’t believe the Jedi understand love.”

Padme smiles at him softly. “I think they do, Anakin. And that’s why they forbid it.”

Anakin looks back at her blankly. “Why?” he asks, “why forbid it?”

She relaxes back into the comfort of the sofa with her wine glass held tightly in her hands. “Because love makes us all irrational,” she explains. “Love makes us stupid and foolish, and it’s consuming. It’s not the love that the Jedi forbid, it’s the loss of love, Anakin.” Padme glances over at him. “The loss of a loved one can drive you mad, can turn you to… the dark side.”

“You’re wrong.”

Padme sighs and reaches out to touch his hand. “You know I’m right, Anakin,” she chides, and Anakin glances away from her. “We’re not right for each other. There’s too many odds against us, and I’d rather not try putting us through the pain of fighting them.”

He slowly turns his head to look up at her. She looks pained and sad, and he flips his hand over to squeezes hers tightly. She’s right. She’s always been right. She’s beautiful and wise, and she looks so sad that Anakin can’t look away.

“I could’ve love you,” he whispers quietly, and he watches as Padme pulls her hand out from under his and stands up. She doesn’t say anything, just walks across the room until she’s standing in the doorway.

Only then does she look back, and Anakin sees the tears in her eyes.

“I could’ve loved you too,” she murmurs, and Anakin stares down at his clenched hands as she leaves the room.

It’s not until he’s on Tatooine though, sitting in front of his mother’s grave with tears in his eyes, hands buried in the sand with blood under his nails, and a broken heart pounding in his chest that he realises… maybe the Jedi are right.


 

TWO

The beds in the medbay of the new Republic ships are not as comfortable as they look, Anakin thinks as he wriggles around on top of his one. It’s as stiff as an old board, and his aching arm continues to drive him mad even when he does reach a semi-comfortable position. Of course, there’s also the added replay of every moment his blade had clashed with Dooku's that happens in his head whenever he closes his eyes, and he hates that the stupid healers had decided that he needs rest and solitude to heal.

He sits up in frustration and glares at where his arm use to be, and instead there’s now a bunch of metal wires that’d look better on a droid. He flexes the fingers, and he feels a bit of satisfaction when the hand responses to the movement.

He’s mainly thankful that he got the worst injury, even if it frustrates him to no end. Obi-Wan only came out of the fight with a few burns and cuts, which had luckily cauterised with Dooku’s lightsaber, and merely a shot confidence. Anakin doesn’t think he’s ever seen Obi-Wan look so upset when he’d seen Anakin’s missing arm, and he wonders where his Master is now.

Hopefully Obi-Wan doesn’t feel too guilty. Anakin doesn’t blame him, he only blames Dooku, but he knows what Obi-Wan is like.

Ignoring his thoughts, Anakin tucks his new arm under the sheets and leans back against his pillows. Out of sight, out of mind, he thinks. He glances around the room in an attempt to find something to do, but it’s just a regular medical bay. There’s nothing, not even a holo to contact anyone, and Anakin huffs in boredom.

It’s soon cured though when he hears a commotion at the door. No doubt it’s the clones outside his room attempting to turn away another nurse, which had been an absolute disaster a few hours ago when one had come to check on him. Technically speaking, he’s not hurt in any place but his arm and dignity, but still he’s on bed restriction.

Anakin ignores the nosies outside the room and instead drops his head back and closes his eyes. He doesn’t really want to deal with a nurse poking and prodding at him, especially not if they’re going to ignore his insistence that he’s okay.

He hears the hissing of the door opening, and instantly there’s a strange feeling in the force, and Anakin rolls his head to the side with wide eyes to see Obi-Wan standing in the doorway in a white hospital gown Obi-Wan hobbles over to the seat by Anakin’s bed and collapses in it, and Anakin reaches out with his good arm to grasp Obi-Wan’s shoulder tightly.

“I’m alright, Anakin,” Obi-Wan waves him off when he glances up and obviously sees the concern in Anakin’s face. “Lightsaber wounds take a bit to heal, but I’ll be fine. Kit Fisto is one of the best healers in the order, he’s taken proper care in healing them.”

Anakin is still concerned, but when Obi-Wan reaches up to pat his hand reassuringly he settles down. He knows his Master, he know’s how strong he is. He doesn’t retract his hand though, and Obi-Wan doesn’t take away his. Anakin revels in their touch, eyeing up their hands happily, before Obi-Wan squeezes it gently and draws his attention.

“Are you okay, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asks sincerely, “I’m so sorry. I should’ve helped-”

“Master,” Anakin interrupts harshly, and Obi-Wan falls silent and looks completely miserable. “Master, it wasn’t your fault. You were badly hurt, and Dooku is a Sith lord. I’m glad I survived as long as I did.” Anakin pauses and presses his lips together before he continues very gently. “Obi-Wan, I’m glad I lost only my arm and not… not you as well.”

Obi-Wan looks shocked for a long moment, and Anakin wonders if he pushed the limit a bit much. But Obi-Wan’s miserable expression suddenly breaks into affection, and he reaches out to clasp Anakin’s neck and draw their foreheads together.

“I’m glad I didn’t lose you too, Annie,” he murmurs so affectionately that Anakin’s heart stutters a little and his eyes burn with building tears. He reaches up with his new hand and places it over top of Obi-Wan’s on his neck, and he’s stunned when Obi-Wan doesn’t flinch at the sudden cold metal. He just closes his eyes and Anakin can’t help but admire his Master this close.

The comfortable silence lasts for a long time until Obi-Wan pulls back and takes Anakin’s metal hand in both of his now free ones. Anakin’s good hand slips down Obi-Wan’s chest to settle on Obi-Wan’s knee, and Anakin likes the feeling of resting his hand there.

“It’s skeletal,” Obi-Wan states as he runs his hand over the new fingers, and he glances up at Anakin. “I’m sorry, Anakin.”

Anakin huffs, slightly exasperated at seeing how miserable his Master is, and he smiles at Obi-Wan. “It’s okay, Master,” he says lightly, “at least this’ll give C3-PO a buzz. We’ll hear him complaining to R2 about how ‘humans and machines are not compatible’ for weeks.”

“If not years,” Obi-Wan replies, and there’s a small smile that graces his face and it’s still apologetic and not real, but it’s the most joyful one Anakin has seen yet. He squeezes Obi-Wan’s knee and offers him a bigger grin that Obi-Wan just tuts at.

It’s progress, Anakin thinks. Definitely progress.


 

THREE:

Being a Jedi knight is really not all it’s cracked up to be, Anakin decides very quickly after his knighthood. He’s not surprised when he’s separated from Obi-Wan almost immediately and sent off to some planet to help in assisting negotiations. He’s sent with Tru Veld, who seems to alternate between holding resentment towards Anakin for inadvertently causing Darra’s death, and being one of his closet friends. Anakin keeps getting whiplash from the sudden mood changes, and he has half a mind to speak to Master Windu when he arrives back on Coruscant.

Except it’s Master Windu who’d separated himself and Obi-Wan, and Anakin still remains angry about that. Obi-Wan is not as he use to be. While he used to smile every now and again, he now doesn’t and Anakin doesn’t know what to do.

It’d started after Siri Tachi had died, and Anakin had assumed that Obi-Wan had not loved her simply because he did not kill the bounty hunter who’d shot Master Tachi. But Anakin knows now he was wrong, so wrong, and the way Obi-Wan’s shoulders curve over, how little he smiles, how awful he looks most of the time… well, it hurts Anakin to see.

After Anakin had been taken from him as well, Anakin had actually feared for his Master. Now it’s been over a year since he last saw Obi-Wan in person, and his chest aches when he tries to reach through what's left of their force bond to try find him.

“You’ve both become too attached,” Master Windu had said a year ago, “it is unsafe for Jedi to be this close in our current state of war.”

They’d been separated ever since, Anakin to the mid-rim planets and Obi-Wan to the outer-rim to begin the skirmishes that’ll hopefully make an impact in the war. So far Anakin feels like he’d be better off in the middle of the action with Obi-Wan than cavorting around attempting to make ties between the mid-rim planets and the Republic. 

Thankfully after three weeks of being stuck on Kashyyyk attempting to decipher the wookie language, Master Yoda appears on the planet to dismiss him.

“Understand the wookies, you cannot,” Yoda says one evening as Anakin sits beside him and waits for his transport to arrive the next day. “With grief, too clouded, you are. Too attached, you are, to Master Kenobi.”

“Is it my fault that I miss my old Master?” Anakin asks him, and Yoda smiles and pats his arm gently.

“Miss my own, I do,” Yoda admits, and Anakin perks up at the mention of Yoda’s Master. No one really knew anything about him, and Anakin wonders if he might be able to ask tonight.

“Do you mean Master Del Gormo?” he asks, and he knows he won’t get an answer when Yoda just smiles mysteriously at him.

“On your return, at the Jedi Temple, Master Kenobi will be,” Yoda says instead, and Anakin is instantly derailed at the mention of Obi-Wan. “Take you to the landing pad, Chewbacca will. Assigned to assist, you’ve been.”

“Assist Master Obi-Wan?” Anakin questions, heart racing at the thought, and Yoda just nods his head before he closes his eyes. It’s a universal dismissal sign known well in the Jedi order, and Anakin just pouts before he gets up and shuffles out of the hut they’re sitting in. Outside is one of the wookie's he’d been attempting to negotiate with, the only one he’d actually been able to understand, and he smiles at Chewbacca.

Chewbacca seems to smile back, as much as a wookie can, before he indicates the path in front of them. It’d become a routine in the weeks Anakin has been here that each evening Anakin takes a walk to clear his head. It’d been on the second day that Chewbacca had expressed an interest in joining him, and Anakin had been thankful to have someone along that could direct him where to go.

They fall in side by side as they walk down the walkways. They never really converse, mainly because Anakin struggles with understanding Chewbacca and Chewbacca doesn’t seem to hold much interest in him. He’s fine with that, it gives him more time to just think as he walks. With the Clone Wars raging around them, time alone is hard to come by.

When they get to one of the nearby landing pads, Anakin slows to a stop and points at it when he gets Chewbacca’s attention. “Will I be coming here tomorrow?” he asks and Chewbacca growls a positive response. “But you’ll bring me?” Another positive growl and Anakin gives the giant wookie a smile before he turns back onto the path to head back to the treetop village.

He can’t sleep that night, and for once it’s not due to the overwhelming heat caused by the wookies he has to share a home with. He’s too excited, his mind is buzzing and the thought of seeing Obi-Wan again makes him practically giddy.

Yoda is clearly unimpressed when he sees Anakin in the morning. He’s meditating on a bench outside the chieftain’s hall, a hall that Anakin will not miss at all, when Anakin approaches him. He opens one eye to glance at Anakin and seems to sigh before he opens both and fixes Anakin with one of his harder looks.

“Be careful,” he says slowly. “May the force be with you.”

“And you, Master,” Anakin replies as he bows before he spots Chewbacca making his way over. He can’t help but grin as he swings into step beside the wookie, and the two of them walk towards the landing pad.

Already there is a Jedi starfighter waiting for him, and the pilot gets out of the cockpit when he arrives. He’s surprised to see Aayla Secura, and he grins as he walks forward to clap their hands together.

“Aayla,” he greets brightly, and she smiles back at him. “I haven’t seen you in… well, years. How are you?”

Aalya looks a little unimpressed at the question but she shakes her head fondly. “Probably about as well as you,” she replies and gestures pointedly at his eyes where Anakin knows there are large bags under them. Getting sleep has been a mission itself since the start of the war. “At least I get to see Quinlan a lot though. How’re you coping without seeing Master Kenobi? Especially after being separated so soon after your knighthood.”

Anakin forces a smile to his face. “Better,” he says, “the pain is dulling.”

“I can’t believe they broke you apart when you’d just had your bond severed,” Aayla mutters, shaking her head, “they gave Quinlan and myself over a month to adjust in close proximity. What they did to you-”

“Aayla,” he interrupts, placing his hands on her shoulders, “I know. I understand. I just hope Obi-Wan is doing okay.”

She smiles tightly at him and nods her head. “You always have cared about him the most,” she says gently, and Anakin flushes at the meaning behind her words.

“I don’t-” he starts to say but Aayla laughs and cuts him off with a flick of her hand.

“You’ll see him soon,” she says, “he’s already at the Temple. Quinlan and Master Kenobi both arrived from Mandalore the day before I left. Master Vokara Che has both of them in her healing rooms. Hopefully by the time you’ll arrive they’ll have recovered from their wounds.”

Anakin is about to inquire more, especially about the wound part, but he’s interrupted by Captain Rex running up with another clone beside him.

“General Skywalker,” Rex calls as soon as he's close enough, and Anakin instantly turns his attention to the two flustered clones.

"Rex," he greets, and he looks at the other clone for a moment before noticing the identifying marks on his armour, "Hardcore."

The two clones nod in response before Rex takes a step forward.

"General, your ship is ready. We must depart now. The rest of our legion is already en route to the atmosphere, and will await our arrival before they enter hyperspace," Rex reports, "I wouldn't like to keep them waiting."

Anakin gives him a tight nod before he points over to where he can see their three ships waiting. "You two buckle up and get R2 settled in," he commands, "I'll be there shortly."

The two nod and give him quick salutes before they hustle off. They pass Commander Bly as they do so, and Bly stops in front of Aayla with his own salute.

"General Secura, Master Yoda is awaiting your company," he informs her, and she nods at him as he steps back from the two Jedi after giving Anakin a short nod of greeting.

"I guess this is it for the next year or so," Aayla jokes, and Anakin smiles at her as he reaches out to pull her into a hug. She doesn't reciprocate outside of a pat on the back, but Anakin is use to being the only Jedi who actually shows affection. Normally hugs are reserved for Masters and padawans, but Anakin has never been good at obeying the rules.

They part company after a round of goodbyes, and Anakin watches Aayla and Bly join Chewbacca. He waves his hand at the giant wookie, and Chewbacca roars as he waves back. Anakin smiles to himself as he turns towards his starship, and he takes a deep breath as he walks over to join Rex and Hardcore.

The trip to the atmosphere is quick, and they enter into hyperspace with no problems. Anakin spends the time conversing with R2, listening to the little droid squawk and screech the whole way back to Coruscant, and he doesn't mind. Rex contacts him over the radio a couple of times, but otherwise Anakin is left to his own devices. He sits and murmurs to R2 and... Well, he thinks about Obi-Wan. 

The moment they enter Coruscant's atmosphere, Anakin detaches from the main fleet and roars towards the Jedi Temple. He knows Rex will organise the troops, and he sends a message of thanks over the comms before he lands on one of the Temple landing pads and leaps out of the cockpit. 

R2 is quick to appear beside him, and he whistles as Anakin starts to hurry towards the doors. He falls in behind Anakin though and Anakin is happy for the company and he rushes past many Jedi to head straight towards the medbay. 

He sees Master Windu, but luckily he just gestures for Anakin to continue forward with an exasperated roll of the eyes. Anakin knows that Master Windu is still bitter about Anakin's dependence on Obi-Wan, but frankly he doesn't care as he brushes past the Master and hurries through the doors into a clean and well sterilised room.

Master Che looks up as soon as Anakin comes in, and he sees her eyes crinkle in amusement. Whether it's at his frantic state, or the screeching asteroid droid behind him, Anakin doesn't know, but he doesn't pause long enough to care.

"Master Che,” he greets in a huff of air, "where's Obi-Wan?"

She looks even more amused than before, and Anakin feels a little self conscious. "I released Master's Kenobi and Vos from my care yesterday," she states as she shuffles around some datapads on her desk. "I would advise you try the healing rooms, Young Skywalker."

He looks at her for a moment, slightly off put by the way she addresses him, but he chooses not to care as he thanks her and hurries back out of the room. R2 is still struggling to keep up with him, but Anakin hardly pays him any heed as he heads towards the healing room. The doors are wide open when he swings into the right corridor, and he hears the gentle sounds of a waterfall and can't help but smile. He has no doubt that Obi-Wan is sitting somewhere underneath the waterfall. He's always said he's found it easier to focus on healing near water.

Anakin almost laughs when the first thing he sees in the room is Vos hissing and spitting at a healer droid as it attempts to rewind his bandages. It's hilarious enough that Anakin pauses for a second to watch, before he feels a familiar tug in the force and spots Obi-Wan sitting by himself on a bench beside the waterfall. Anakin instantly starts to move towards him, waving R2 off as the droid starts to follow him, and he walks to hover over Obi-Wan's bench.

Aayla hadn't been kidding when she had said Obi-Wan was wounded. Anakin winces as he assesses his old Master, and he hates to see the large sleeping bruises under Obi-Wan's eyes, his drawn and pale cheeks, the permanent wrinkles around his forehead and eyes, his hunched over back and defeated stance. Anakin aches at seeing Obi-Wan like this, and he tries not to look at the bandages wrapped around Obi-Wan's torso and legs, hating to think what's underneath.

"If you're unsure of what to say, a hello would suffice," Obi-Wan'd clear voice rings out, and Anakin jumps in surprise. Of course Obi-wan would still register him through the force, even if he doesn't have his eyes open.

"Hello, Master," Anakin greets unsurely, wrinkling his nose, "I... I just got back-"

"From Kashyyyk, yes," Obi-Wan finishes for him, and he turns around slowly to look up at Anakin. "Aayla said she was being sent to relieve you."

Anakin freezes when he sees his Master's eyes. They're... They're worse than he could've imagined. They're hollow and cold, and there's hardly any life in them. Anakin can't stop himself from sinking to his knees in front of Obi-Wan, and ignores the cold wet grass soaking through his pants as he reaches out to touch his Masters wrist.

"Obi-Wan," he murmurs, shocked and horrified, "what happened to you?"

There's a dead silence as Obi-Wan looks back at him before he sighs and places his hand over Anakin's. "The mission on Mandlore did not go well," he explains quietly, "I... I failed her."

Anakin knows who “her” is. Knows exactly, and he glances over to see Vos watching them like a hawk. He offers Anakin a tense smile though, it's more bitter and sad than reassuring, and Anakin swallows as he turns to look back at Obi-Wan.

"Is... Is Satine okay?" He asks hesitantly, and the broken look on Obi-Wan's face is enough for Anakin to know he shouldn't have bothered to ask. Obi-Wan's shoulders start to shake, and Anakin notices the wetness in his Master's eyes. He doesn't think much more as he reaches up to draw Obi-Wan down to him, and he comes willingly as he kneels on the wet grass in front of Anakin and Anakin holds him tight.

Obi-Wan's arms are limp around Anakin's waist, and Anakin holds him as tight as he can.

"I'm sorry, Obi-Wan," he whispers into Obi-Wan'd ear as he rocks him gently, much like his mother use to when he would have nightmares, "I am so sorry."

Obi-Wan doesn't say much, doesn't say anything actually. Instead he makes a distressed noise that breaks Anakin's heart and tightens his hands on Anakin's robe. Anakin feels wetness on his neck, along with the scratching of Obi-Wan's beard, but he chooses not to care as he just holds his broken Master.


 

INTERLUDE:

Thankfully Master Windu takes pity on them both, and Anakin is allowed to remain at the Temple until Obi-Wan is better. Anakin doesn’t know if that’s ever really going to happen, the defeat in Obi-Wan’s eyes is just too much, but he’s happy to have the council’s permission to hover by his Master’s side.

Obi-Wan doesn’t say much. He spends most of his time in the healing rooms, and Anakin has taken to sitting on the grass in front of him. Often he brings a blanket to perch on to save himself from getting wet, and every now and again he can convince Obi-Wan to lie down on it. Those days are rare and far between, but whenever he sees Obi-Wan stretching out and looking at least a little relaxed, Anakin feels his tight chest loosen up a little.

He sees Obi-Wan’s wounds one time when Vos is standing over them both and ordering Obi-Wan to report to Master Che. She tutts the entire time she changes Obi-Wan’s dressings, and Anakin can’t look away from Obi-Wan’s bare torso. There’s a lightsaber cut from one side of his waist to the other, almost as if Obi-Wan’s opponent was trying to cut him in half, and the bandages under his legs are actually hiding support rods for Obi-Wan’s originally broken legs.

Anakin feels sick when he sees the wounds, and he has to leave the Temple for the day. The resigned look on Obi-Wan’s face almost makes him stay behind, but seeing the horrible injuries makes Anakin’s anger flare and his hatred for whoever did this spark.

He finds Padme in her senator rooms after asking R2 to take him there. Thankfully the little asteroid droid hadn’t questioned him, merely plotted the course and informed him of their arrival when they landed on the roof top landing pad.

Anakin thanks him and makes his way down to Padme’s rooms. He knocks politely on the door, but it’s when she opens it with a large grin that all of Anakin’s pent up emotions burst and he steps straight into her arms and practically collapses against her.

“I don’t understand,” he almost sobs as she gasps in surprise and reaches up to hold him tightly, “why him? Why is it always him?”

“Annie, what’s going on?” Padme asks, and Anakin can’t find words until she’s detached herself and ushered him to the couch. He collapses into it with his elbows on his knees and head in his hands, and he feels her sit beside him cautiously.

“Obi-Wan,” he explains quietly, “it’s been weeks now… I got back weeks ago to see him after a year and he’s… Padme, he’s not the Obi-Wan I know.”

“War changes people-”

“Not like this,” he interrupts, looking at her and begging for her to understand him. “He’s hollow and empty, more than he ever has been. I know he loved her, just as he loved Master Tachi, but this time he’s so much worse.”

Padme looks at him as if searching for the right answer, and Anakin scrubs his hands over his face tensely. He doesn’t want the right answer, he wants the truthful answer, and when Padme grasps his wrists and pulls his hands away from his face he wonders just what he’s going to get.

“Obi-Wan has lost a lot,” she replies strongly, fixing him with an intense look. “And now he has lost two people to one man. I don’t think any of us could imagine how that would feel.”

“To one man…?” Anakin prompts, and he realises that in all the weeks he’s been staying by Obi-Wan’s side and trying to help him heal, he’s never actually asked what happened for him to get those scars, what happened and how Satine died.

Padme winces as she pulls back. “Remember when you were nine?” she asks, “and you were sitting in that yellow naboo starship as we were all running out of the hanger to take back the palace?” She pauses to wait for his confirming nod before she continues. “Remember that Sith that arrived? Darth Maul? The zabrak?”

“The one who killed Qui-Gon,” Anakin confirms with a harsh growl, his hands tightening at the reminder of the Sith.

“He’s back, Anakin,” Padme continues cautiously, and Anakin stares at her in stunned silence. “It wouldn’t have reached you on Kashyyyk. He’s been terrorising the outer rim, especially Mandalore. Satine and Obi-Wan were caught in a conflict with him, and Satine was killed by him in front of Obi-Wan.”

It makes sense, the cut across Obi-Wan’s waist matches when Obi-Wan had killed Maul… and Anakin can’t deny it. He wants to scream that Padme is wrong, that Maul is not back, and that there must be some other reason. But nothing could knock Obi-Wan so thoroughly unless it was this. Obi-Wan has seen the woman he’d fallen in love with die before, and even then Master Tachi’s death hadn’t rocked him as much as Satine’s has.

“Oh, Obi-Wan,” he whispers as he glances down at his hand. “I wish I had been there.”

“And risked yourself as well?” Padme asks, although she is gentle about it, “Obi-Wan could not recover if he lost you, Anakin. It would kill him.”

“Satine’s death is killing him!”

“No, Anakin!” Padme cries, shaking her head fiercely, “Obi-Wan is grieving for a love lost, not for you. If he were to ever lose you, then I fear we would lose Obi-Wan too.” She pauses to reach out and grab Anakin’s cheeks in her hands. “He loves you just as much as you love him.”

There’s too much emphasis on her words to simply be referring to a love between a Master and old padawan. There’s more meaning, and Anakin falters as he thinks over just how much he thinks of Obi-Wan, how much he fears for him, cares for him, wants to always be with him. It makes his chest ache, his head hurt, and he pulls his face out of Padme’s grip to cover his eyes.

“It’s against the Jedi way,” he dismisses her statement half-heartedly. “The love I have for Obi-Wan is that between a Master and a padawan.”

“Bullshit,” Padme huffs, and she reaches over to jostle Anakin’s shoulder. “We both know that’s not true, and we both know that you’ve been willing to deny the Jedi way before.”

Anakin hesitates, but eventually he pulls his head out of his hands and peeks at her overtop of his fingertips. “You can’t be encouraging this,” he states blankly, “Padme, you were the one-”

“Who denied us in the first place,” she continues softly, “I know. And I don’t regret it for a moment, Anakin.” She obviously sees the unsettled look on his face as she shifts closer to lay her hands on his arm. “I knew then, Anakin. You were always thinking of him, worrying over him. Every word that came out of your mouth was about Obi-Wan.” Padme smiles at him sweetly. “You were like a teenager with a crush, it was sweet.”

“I loved you though,” he protests, and she shakes her head.

“We both know it was simply an infatuation,” she denies, and Anakin is surprised that he isn’t hurt by her statement. “Anakin, you have loved that man since you were nine years-old and continuously asked him if you could play with his braid.” She laughs, and Anakin still thinks she’s beautiful. “It was funny when you weren’t following me, you were tormenting him. I think he enjoyed it though,” she pauses and smiles brightly, “I know he enjoyed it. He loves you too, Anakin. You’d have to be blind not to see it.”

Anakin falls quiet and thinks about Obi-Wan back in the Temple, alone with his thoughts and aching with sadness. He closes his eyes to reach across their slowly repairing bond, and he feels for Obi-Wan sitting in the healing rooms no doubt, and when he finds him he gently sends waves of love and happiness Obi-Wan’s way. There’s a small flare up on the other side of their bond, and Anakin opens his eyes at the feeling of Obi-Wan quietly calling his name through the force.

Padme is watching him with a smug smile, and he jokingly pushes her over into the cushions. “Laugh it up,” he says to her as she giggles, and he stands up quickly. His Master had called for him, and he knows it’ll be rude if he doesn’t respond.

“Go get him, tiger,” Padme calls as he walks past, “and no more of these angst visits! I’m getting tired of being your agony aunt!”

Anakin ignores her as he walks out, but he can’t stop himself from smiling. He adores Padme. She’s worth more to him than anyone else.

Except, well, Obi-Wan.


 

FOUR

Felucia is officially one of Anakin’s most disliked planets, but frankly it’s also one of his favourites.

He hasn’t felt a thrill like the one he’s experiencing now in such a long time. He’s running as fast as the force can push him through the murky wet floors of the planet, pushing aside large flowers and plants with his hand as they intercept his course, and the rain pummels down around him in a great torrent. There’s so much adrenaline coursing through his body that he can’t help but grin as he skids and slides along the soaked ground, his lightsaber the only real distinguishing feature of his is in the hard downfall, and beside him he can hear Obi-Wan panting with equal exhilaration.

“We’re lucky she has her lightsaber on,” Anakin bellows out over the deafening sound to Obi-Wan, “otherwise we’d never be able to follow her!”

Up ahead Asajj Ventress is streaking equally as fast through the undergrowth. Her long gown is completely torn at her knees, and even if her lightsaber wasn’t on Anakin is still pretty sure he could find her just by looking for her white head and legs. The thrill of the chase pushes him forward, almost outrunning Obi-Wan, but since their return to the outer rim sieges he’s gotten faster and more adaptable.

“She won’t turn it off,” Obi-Wan calls back, “she would never give up the opportunity of a fight.”

“Not with you anyway,” Anakin retorts with a loud snort. “Face it, Obi-Wan, she wants you.”

The glare Obi-Wan sends him makes Anakin cackle, especially at seeing the light blush on Obi-Wan’s face that makes his stomach flip, and the only reason he doesn’t start to tease him is the crackling of their comms.

Skywalker, Kenobi,” Aayla’s voice comes over, and Anakin can barely hear her, “we’re in pursuit, have you lost sight of her yet?

“Negative,” Obi-Wan replies, loud enough that Anakin hears it over the rain, and no doubt Aayla and Master Kit Fitso are now deafened, “we’re still in pursuit. I believe she’s leading us to her own territory. Follow the last of her troops, we’ll take care of Ventress.”

Aayla sounds like she’s going to protest, but Master Fitso’s voice comes through on the comms. “Affirmative, Kenobi,” he agrees, “take care. We’ll come find you once we’ve engaged the last of her troops.”

Anakin takes a second to glance at Obi-Wan, surprised to see him looking tight lipped and a little pale, and Anakin wonders just how confident Obi-Wan is feeling. He knows his Master hasn’t fought anyone with a lightsaber since… the run in with Darth Maul, but he doesn’t dwell on it. It never pays to dwell.

He glances up ahead just in time to see Ventress dart to the left down a long tunnel lined by plants, and he shoves Obi-Wan lightly to steer him on the right course as their use of force keeps them upright. Any tight turns like that leave them at risk of overbalancing, and they can’t afford that right now.

He stumbles to a halt though when they reach the end of the tunnel and there’s no Ventress in sight. There’s no where to go though, they’re standing on top of a cliff face after all, and Anakin turns to Obi-Wan with a frown.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Obi-Wan says obviously, and Anakin’s lips twitch at seeing the exasperation on Obi-Wan’s face right before he hears the sound of a lightsaber being ignited followed by Ventress's battlecry.

Anakin has enough to turn around and block the first downward strike as Ventress leaps up from the ledge below them, and he’s glad he did otherwise he’d be without his legs. She’s powerful with her blows, and it’s Obi-Wan who steps forward to push Ventress off of him with a force push. It’s not hard, but it’s enough to send her sprawling back against the plants around them.

“Your ambush plans are starting to become repetitive, Asajj,” Obi-Wan says as he ignites his own lightsaber and lazily flips it around, “you’re becoming predictable.”

“Am I really, Obi-Wan?” Ventress hisses as she slowly stands up and ignites her second lightsaber. The look on her face makes Anakin feel a bit uneasy, as if she’s already won and they just don’t know it yet.

It’s only because of the click of loading guns that Anakin realises they’re not alone. He glances around wildly to see a group of B2-RP battle droids step out from behind some of the large plants surrounding them. Instantly Anakin backs up until he’s pressed up against Obi-Wan’s back, and they both hold out their lightsabers as they assess the danger.

“Why, my darling,” Obi-Wan practically coos, and it makes Anakin’s skin crawl with a little bit of jealousy, “you have outdone yourself this time.”

“Why thank you, Obi-Wan,” Ventress sneers, her eyes alight with victory, “too bad we won’t be having this pleasure again.”

Anakin doesn’t even have time to formulate a plan with Obi-Wan as suddenly Ventress throws herself at Obi-Wan and the droids start firing. Anakin swears as he hurriedly starts to deflect the bullets from slamming into him and Obi-Wan’s back, and he feels the heat of Obi-Wan’s and Ventress's first lightsaber crash on the back of his neck.

“Obi-Wan!” Anakin calls, but he only gets a grunt in reply that makes him swear even more. Obi-Wan pushes off from his back, clearly rushing at Ventress as he starts to mock her once more in that flirtatious way, and Anakin grudgingly turns to taking out the droids. It’s harder than he thinks though as they all turn to fire on him, and already he’s breaking a sweat at just trying to deflect the bullets.

He counts easily thirteen, if not more, and he uses the force to push himself off the ground in a leap and tosses his lightsaber at the same time. It’s a risky move, leaving himself unprotected, but the droids are clearly torn between paying attention to him or the lightsaber swinging towards them.

Two are taken out and one is detached from it’s legs by the time Anakin hits the ground and his lightsaber is back in his hand. Unfortunately that still means it can shoot at him, and Anakin holds up his hand to force push the firing half of the droid over the cliff edge. He spots Obi-Wan battling Ventress on the very edge as he does so, and he swears as he turns back to the mass of droids.

They’re aiming for him again, and he doesn’t give them time to fire before he lunges at them. He swings his lightsaber over and over, hitting metal almost every time, and he’s thrilled as they all start to drop around them. He can feel the burn of a couple of laser bullets scraping his shoulders, but he pays them no heed. His priority is to get to Obi-Wan as quick as possible.

“You are weak, Obi-Wan!” he can hear Ventress taunting, “ever since you failed against Darth Maul you have been nothing but weak.”

The words make Anakin feel cold, and he risks a glance over to see Obi-Wan starting to falter against Ventress. His stomach churns uncomfortably, but the sudden gun shoved into his face causes him to turn his attention away and desperately throw up his lightsaber to sever off the droid’s arm to avoid injury.

He rolls away from the group, taking out one droid at the ankles and sending a laser bullet back to it’s firer. It hits the droid in the chest and jars it, but otherwise it shakes it off and keeps advance towards him.

Handling three or four B2-RP droids was okay for an average Jedi, and Anakin is personally use to handling up to five or six on his own, but even ten is too much for him. The new reinforced armour they carry and the the faster blasters they have is too much.

“Aayla!” he cries into the comm as he dances out of the way of various bullets and deflects back as many as he can, “Aayla, I swear to god, we need backup! Ventress's trap was better than we expected!”

There’s no reply, just the cackling of static, and Anakin swears as he changes frequency at the risk of taking a bullet to the head. “Fitso,” he bellows, “Fitso, please tell me you copy! We need back-up asap!”

Nothing, still nothing, and Anakin swears as he continues to back towards the edge of the cliff-face to the duelling pair. He can see Obi-Wan is flagging as Ventress continues to taunt him, and Anakin hopes that Satine isn’t going to be brought up. He can’t hold Obi-Wan accountable for any of his actions if that’s the case.

…that’s Master Fitso to you, Skywalker.

His comm sparks to life and Anakin breaths out a sigh of relief as he snaps back, “just get here!” and turns back to the droids. He’s given up attempting to fight them, they’re just too large in number, and instead he stands back to deflect their bullets and keep Obi-Wan safe from them.

Soon he hears the stomping of an AT-TE coming from behind the long tunnel of plants they’d rushed down. He can see the top of a turret making it’s way over, and he relaxes just a little at knowing that help is on the way.

Relaxing is the opposite of what he should have done though, as suddenly he feels a sharp pain in his shoulder and he looks down to see blood pouring out of a bullet wound imprinted in it. He stares at it in shock for a moment, not paying attention to his surroundings, only to see another bullet fly through the fleshy part of his collarbone.

Anakin!” Obi-Wan cries, and Anakin glances over just in time to see Ventress take her opportunity at the distracted Obi-Wan and swings her lightsaber right for his Master’s neck.

Everything moves very fast in a matter of moment. Anakin darts forward to block the blow, albeit recklessly, and he sends Ventress flying back with her lightsaber flapping about dangerously. Obi-Wan yells his name again as he grabs Anakin by the waist to stop him from falling over the edge as he looses his balance. Although, it doesn’t matter as suddenly the sound of the AT-TE’s turret firing fills the air and Anakin glances over in time to see a large laser bullet slam into the pack of advancing droids.

Unfortunately the shock wave sends not only the droids flying, but also Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ventress toppling over the cliff. Thankfully Obi-Wan’s arms are still wrapped around Anakin’s waist, and Anakin tucks himself in against his Master as his shoulder aches and he dreads the drop.

The cliff turns out to be more of a hill, Anakin realises as they hit the ground sooner than expected but start to roll the rest of the way. Everything aches from the first impact, and he clings to Obi-Wan as tightly as he can as they roll over top of each other till the bottom. He can hear Ventress’s angry yells as she rolls down, and he wonders how she’s doing taking all of the impact instead of sharing it like he is with Obi-Wan.

Eventually they roll to a stop, and Anakin groans as he lies on his back and Obi-Wan hovers on top of him. Obi-Wan isn’t there for long though as he’s suddenly on his feet and rushing away. Anakin knows he’s probably after Ventress, and he contemplates getting up to take chase as well but decides against it as his entire body screams in protest when he tries to move.

He’s not lying by himself for very long, although he does believe that he blanks out for a little bit. Very soon he feels Obi-Wan shaking his shoulders, and he cracks open an eye to see his frantic Master leaning overtop of him.

“Anakin?” Obi-Wan is saying, “Anakin, are you alright? Can you speak?”

He’s touching Anakin’s face gently, and Anakin lazily opens both eyes to smile up at Obi-Wan.

“Did you get Ventress?” he asks, and Obi-Wan face cracks into a relieved smile as he shakes his head.

“She was too fast,” he explains as he sits back on his haunches and Anakin struggles to sit up with him. “She got away before I could even get up,” Obi-Wan continues as he reaches out to help Anakin, and Anakin gratefully leans into him for support. “She’ll be long gone by now.”

Anakin sighs. “Well, this was a bust then,” he mutters, and Obi-Wan chuckles as he reaches up to brush Anakin’s long hair from his eyes.

“It’s okay, we never expected to bump into Ventress anyway,” he says as he gently arranges Anakin to lean against his shoulder. “I’ve already contacted Kit, and he’s sending clones to track her now. We’ll catch her, it’s not over.” He squeezes Anakin’s knee as he drops his hand to it. “Are you alright?”

“Broken and bleeding,” Anakin replies jokingly, “but not dying yet.” He gives Obi-Wan a sheepish smile as he reaches up to touch Obi-Wan’s face with his fingertips. “Are you okay, Master?”

Obi-Wan curls his hand around Anakin’s, and Anakin feels his heart skip and his stomach roll at being so wrapped up in Obi-Wan. His conversation with Padme from months ago comes straight to mind at the almost gentle caresses they’re giving each other.

‘He loves you too, Anakin. You’d have to be blind not to see it.’ she had said to him, and as Anakin looks up at the soft look on Obi-Wan’s face, at how concerned he is, at how much he cares, well Anakin wonders if Padme does actually understand Obi-Wan more than Anakin does.

“I’m fine, Anakin,” Obi-Wan answers softly, “much better than-”

A sudden surge of left over adrenaline causes Anakin to cut him off by reaching up to curl both hands in Obi-Wan’s hair and drag him down into a forceful kiss. The moment their lips touch every nerve in his body is set on fire, the regrown force bond between them flares up and makes Anakin shudder in pleasure, and he tightens his hands as he attempts to mould himself to Obi-Wan.

When Obi-Wan stiffens, Anakin isn’t surprised. He expects Obi-Wan to pull back and yell at him, but he is surprised when Obi-Wan moans into their kiss and surges forward to wrap his arms around Anakin and press them back into the ground.

Having his Master’s body cover his own makes Anakin’s gasp, and Obi-Wan takes that opportunity to deepen the kiss. Anakin is even more surprised when Obi-Wan takes complete control of the kiss and Anakin just clings to Obi-Wan’s hair and lets himself be swept away.

Obi-Wan’s hands slip off of Anakin’s shoulders, and Anakin groans when they slip down to have one rest on his hip and the other on his thigh. Obi-Wan wrenches his thigh up to sling over Obi-Wan’s hips, and Anakin instantly presses his heel down on Obi-Wan’s ass to grind their groins together. The answering moan shoots a bolt down Anakin’s body, and the urge to get even closer to Obi-Wan causes him to pull away from their kiss and start to mouth at Obi-Wan’s neck and collar as Obi-Wan paws desperately at his sides.

His hands are just moving down to scrabble at Obi-Wan’s shirt collar when he hears Obi-Wan’s hitched breath before he grabs Anakin’s wrists and shoves him back.

“Stop,” he croaks awkwardly, his eyes wide, pupils dilated, and he looks almost pained as he slowly gets up off of Anakin. Anakin’s shoulder sparks in pain at the sudden jostling, and all happy feelings dissipate as he sees how panicked Obi-Wan is.

“Obi-Wan,” he breathes as he slowly follows him up, but when he reaches for him, Obi-Wan pushes his hand away. “Please, Obi-Wan-”

“Anakin, no,” Obi-Wan scolds, “this, we, no. We cannot do this.”

“We’ve been both wanting it for so long, though,” Anakin protests as he tries to touch Obi-Wan again and this time his hand settles on Obi-Wan’s knee. “Please, Obi-Wan, I know you want this as much as I do.”

“It’s against the Jedi way-”

“We both know that’s not a problem,” Anakin insists, cutting Obi-Wan off. “You’ve done it before.”

Obi-Wan shakes his head furiously. “That’s not an excuse, Anakin!” he snaps, “I’ve been headstrong and stupid. I’m not willing to make those mistakes again! I can’t…” He pauses and glances down at Anakin’s hand on his knee and Anakin sees how hesitant he is. “I can’t let you make those choices too.”

Anakin stares at him for a long moment, completely speechless, and Obi-Wan r efuses to even look at him. Anakin feels it like a blow as Obi-Wan can’t meet his eyes, and he bites the proverbial bullet to reach up and grasp Obi-Wan's chin between his thumb and finger. 

Obi-Wan’s eyes flash though when Anakin does touch him, and he instantly grabs Anakin’s wrist to force him back. “Stop,” he practically snarls, and Anakin feels his heart jump into his throat at seeing the tears touching the edges of Obi-Wan’s eyes. “Stop it, Anakin. I said no.”

Anakin feels like he’s being reduced to a small child, and he clenches his fist as he bites back stinging words.

“As you wish, Master,” he gently submits after a moment of anger, “I will not force you into loving me back.”

Seeing Obi-Wan’s face pale confuses Anakin, and Obi-Wan’s grip around his wrist loosens at Anakin’s statement. There’s so much agony on his face, and Anakin almost feels horrible, but Obi-Wan doesn’t let him stew for very long.

“You can’t love me,” he murmurs, and the rueful smile on his lips is heartbreaking, “nothing good will come from it.”

Anakin wants to ask what he means as he stares at him in shock, and he hates how little Obi-Wan thinks of them both, but the sudden crashing of Jedi sprinting through the mud and plants forces him to pull away completely from Obi-Wan. 

He can’t stop himself from glancing at Obi-Wan once more though, and the heartbroken and rueful smile he sees causes his already aching body to hurt more.


 

FIVE

There’s no time to really discuss anything that happened between them on Felucia. Anakin knows there’s a strained companionship between him and Obi-Wan, especially considering how tense Obi-Wan is even when Anakin steps into the room.

Aayla had sent him questioning looks when she’d turned up to rescue them, and even Kit had been confused at their entwined states. Anakin knows it was obvious to even the dullest of minds what they had been doing, but he had refused to backdown from Aayla’s stare.

Obi-Wan though had instantly risen and left their company as quickly as possible. Anakin had watched him go with a frown, and felt so wrong at seeing how slumped Obi-Wan’s shoulders had been.

Things move fast though, events fly by, and very quickly Anakin finds himself and Obi-Wan being hustled back to Coruscant to save Chancellor Palpatine. Obi-Wan doesn’t say much the entire time they’re trapped in the little cargo hold of the transport ship, but Anakin can see that Obi-Wan has a bad feeling about their upcoming mission. He aches to reach across the gap between them and take his hand, to support him, but there are clones pressed against either side of them and he knows that he couldn’t cope with Obi-Wan’s rejection.

He chooses to stay quiet and try not to think as they land on Coruscant and are shuffled quickly into waiting starfighters. Cody and Rex are beside them within moments when they take off and they give very quick rundowns of the situation. It’s the first time Anakin hears Obi-Wan’s voice since Felucia when he starts to ask questions, and he won’t deny savouring the sounds.

It seems simple to him. Infiltrate a mother ship, make their way through it, fight a Sith, and save the chancellor. Anakin doesn’t factor in everything else though, but it does go reasonably smooth until Dooku comes marching out with some of Grievous's droids at his beck and call.

It’s when Dooku knocks out Obi-Wan though that Anakin can’t help but feel a rush of utter panic. It takes everything in him to force himself not to rush to Obi-Wan’s side instantly and check for a pulse. He can still hear Obi-Wan’s heartbeat through the force, but he does have to ask himself if it’s his own frantic one or Obi-Wan’s.

The thought of Obi-Wan dying spurs him on, and he ends up disarming Dooku… and promptly killing him at Palpatine’s request. As soon as he sees Dock’s head roll away though, he knows it was wrong. He’s reminded of a time on Tatooine when he last saw his mother, and he feels practically sick as he releases Palpatine and rushes to Obi-Wan’s side.

Somehow they survive. Somehow when they crash into the runway they actually live, and Anakin’s heart is beating so hard he’s sure it will fall from his chest. When he glances at Obi-Wan, it’s to see him looking back, and Anakin can’t help but share a relieved grin with his Master. But soon Obi-Wan looks away and focuses on helping Palpatine and Anakin’s hope falls back where it came from.

His day with the politicians is passed with Padme at his side. They sit together silently as in the room next door dignitaries fluster over Palpatine. Padme comments on how he laps up the attention, and Anakin is inclined to agree.

He tells her about Felucia, and her eyes glistening as she reaches over to hug him hard. “Oh, Annie,” she murmurs into his ear as she holds him tight. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have told you to-”

“You didn’t tell me to do anything, Padme,” he interrupts her as he pulls back, “it wasn’t your fault.” He goes quiet and glances down at her hand resting on his arm as he thinks about what to say next. There’s so many things he wants to say, but saying them right is what matters. “He kissed me back,” he starts slowly, raising his head to look at Padme, “in fact I think if I hadn’t of… tried to take it further then he mightn’t have stopped me when he did. If I hadn’t of pushed him then maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”

“You have to try again,” Padme decides for him, “you have to make sure that it wasn’t because of the pressure of being found by Master Secura or Master Fitso that didn’t cause him to panic.”

Anakin closes his eyes and sighs. “But what if he rejects me again?” he asks quietly, “I don’t think I could handle his rejection, Padme.”

She doesn’t have an answer for him, just shrugs her shoulders and reaches out to touch his face gently. He knows she’s going to try and reassure him, but he can’t stomach hearing such falsities and he stands up to quickly hurry from the room.

Just like the last few years of his life, everything moves swiftly as soon as Anakin steps foot back in the Jedi Temple. He can’t tell what’s worse, being constantly out in the outer rims battling, or whenever he comes home its to a flustered hornets nest of Jedi mixing with politicians. The politics aren’t anything he understands either, and he just hopes that Master Windu or Master Yoda will explain more to him when he’s shoved in front of the Jedi council and given a seat? Even Obi-Wan looks confused when Anakin finds him sitting on his own chair, and Anakin hovers awkwardly over the one allocated to him for a long moment before Obi-Wan snaps at him to just sit down. He does, but he feels like a fish out of water as every word the Masters all say goes over his head, expect for the occasional mention of Palpatine.

Then of course there’s the mention of General Grievous heading to Utapau and Obi-Wan volunteers to go after him, and the moment Anakin hears that he can’t help but stand up and cry out “no!”

Every head in the room swivels to him, and Obi-Wan looks like a mixture of angry and touched as Anakin stands still shaking his head.

“And just why not?” Master Windu asks very calmly, and normally Anakin wouldn’t be able to cope with Master Windu’s dark and unnerving stare on him, but he sticks his chin out and looks Obi-Wan dead in the eyes as he replies.

“I want to go with him,” he states clearly, “we’re a team, and everyone in this room knows that we’re far stronger together than apart.”

“Your emotions, control you, they do,” Master Yoda replies very gently from where he’s sitting, and Anakin turns to look down at him. There’s a slight rueful smile on his face, and Anakin hates seeing that look. “On this mission, alone, Master Kenobi must go. Stay here, you will.”

“But why!” Anakin cries, and he knows his behaviour would normally be enough to have him removed from the council rooms, and he can see a couple of the Master’s contemplating it, but Master Windu puts up his hand to silence the rumblings.

“We were right,” he says, “you are still much too young to achieve the rank of Master. Chancellor Palpatine has requested you to be his representative on the council, and to do your job you must remain here until such times as the Chancellor sees fit to let you off world.” Master Windu pegs Anakin with a very harsh stare. “You are, as far as I am considered, no longer deployable to fight this war. Your role now is to be a negotiator and a liaison between the Jedi and senate.”

“I don’t want to be though,” Anakin insists, feeling whiny and much to young, and he can feel Obi-Wan’s hand on his shoulder. He knows he’s probably attempting to calm Anakin down, but it’s not enough to do so. "Please, this isn't fair."

He knows that's definitely over the line as Master Windu's expression turns into offended anger. "You will do as we say, Skywalker," he snaps, and Anakin watches as he almost rises out of his chair. "Your bond with Master Kenobi has always been too close for our liking, hence our decision to separate you so soon after removing your bond. Against the Jedi way you have somehow rekindled that bond in the time you've been present in the outer rim sieges, and I deeply regret that mistake. You will fall into order and remain silent on this matter! Master Kenobi will leave for Utapau tomorrow and you will remain here as the Chancellor's representation."

Anakin stands still for a really long moment as he contemplates arguing back but after one look at Obi-Wan's pleading face he decides to just back down.

"I'm sorry, Master Windu," he apologises sincerely, and he dips his head in respect. "I was out of line and childish. The council knows best."

"You are dismissed," Master Windu replies coldly, and Anakin doesn't dare raise his head as he nods and awkwardly makes his way from the room. He refuses to even look at Obi-Wan as he walks past, and he feels humiliated as he leaves the council room and heads towards his quarters.

It's an absolute mess, covered in various parts from droids and amongst them is R2 recharging. He knows the Jedi frown upon his attachment to the astro droid, but he couldn't leave R2 with Padme alongside C3-PO. It would've created too many assumptions, and Padme is his best friend. He can't have the Jedi separating them as well, he’d go mad.

He kicks one of the buckets of bolts over out of frustration before he flops down on his bed. He doesn't really know what to do now, especially considering he's being confined to the Temple. He feels a bit of anger towards Palpatine at him being the reason Anakin is stuck here, but he dismisses it after a while. It's not Palpatine's fault that the Jedi are ruining everything.

Anakin remains in his room for the rest of the afternoon, trying not to think about the fact that he must seem like an overgrown teenager hiding in his bed after being told off, but eventually he does head down to the dining hall for food. He sees Tru and he decides to sit with him. Tru greets him warmly as they settle in to eat, and Anakin enjoys the comfortable quiet that Tru makes. No one else sits with them, and Anakin looks up at one point wondering where Obi-Wan is only to see him standing by the door looking right back.

It's only when Obi-Wan winces at their sudden eye contact, before seemingly making excuses to Healer Vee and leaving through the large dining doors, that Anakin thinks that enough is enough. He's tired of playing these games with Obi-Wan, and he pushes his tray away to stand and follow his Master. Tru makes a sarcastic remark about cleaning up after himself, but Anakin ignores him in favour of chasing down his old Master. He sees Obi-Wan's head disappear around a corner at the end of the corridor, and he has a feeling that Obi-Wan is heading to his own quarters.

Luckily he's right as he slides down the corridor just in time to see Obi-Wan closing the door to his room  With a helpful burst of the force, Anakin manages to appear right in front of it and slam his hand against the closing door, jarring it enough that Obi-Wan lets go in shock. Anakin takes the moment to push it all the way open and force himself into the room before slamming it behind him.

“Anakin,”  Obi-Wan stutters, red-faced and surprised, “what are you doing-

He doesn’t give either of them time to think, just lunges forward and grabs Obi-Wan roughly by the shoulders and pulls him into a bruising kiss. Obi-Wan struggles for a moment, making Anakin growl in the back of his throat, before he melts completely in Anakin’s arms and throws his own carelessly around Anakin’s neck. Anakin stumbles for a moment, unable to believe that Obi-Wan would just submit like that, but he rights himself quickly and turns around to press Obi-Wan up against the door.

They change positions from last time, Anakin taking the lead as he hitches Obi-Wan’s leg up and moves closer while his hands trail Obi-Wan’s hips and ass. Obi-Wan’s hands are wrapped in Anakin’s long hair, tugging on it almost painfully and dragging Anakin’s head down. His face feels scratchy and slightly sore from Obi-Wan’s beard rubbing against it constantly, but Anakin enjoys it nonetheless. It feels wonderful to be pressed this close to Obi-Wan, to have their lips together and bodies aligned, it’s perfect.

Unfortunately they do have to breathe though, and Anakin pulls away panting and huffing as he looks at the suitably ravished Obi-Wan. He’s surprised though to see tears in Obi-Wan’s eyes, making them red-rimmed and they’re obviously burning as Obi-Wan starts to speak.

“It’s stupid,” Obi-Wan murmurs quietly, “I can’t resist you, Anakin. No matter how much I try, no matter how much I keep my distance, I still end up wanting you.”

“Obi-Wan, I-” Anakin starts to say, but Obi-Wan’s hands slide down from Anakin’s hair to cover his mouth.

“Every person I’ve ever loved, who has loved me, has died, Anakin,” Obi-Wan continues. “Every person I’ve cared about has left me. I can’t let that happen to you. I can’t. Love is not the wonderful thing that Padme talks about,” he pauses to laugh sadly, “and I know she talks about it to you all the time. But it’s not flowery and wonderful, there are no fireworks. There’s only pain and suffering.” Obi-Wan looks at him for a long moment, and Anakin aches at seeing the tears starting to fall from Obi-Wan’s eyes. “You’d be better with her if you wanted someone to love, Anakin,” he whispers, ducking his head to look at the ground, “at least then I won’t really lose you the way I will if we… if this happens.”

Anakin is honestly speechless as Obi-Wan’s leg slides off his hip and his hands fall from Anakin’s face to drop at his sides. Obi-Wan has never looked so small to Anakin, and he can’t associate this man with his Master, with the strong Jedi he’s always looked up to, who’s always been there for him.

Obi-Wan resists when Anakin tries to tug his head up, but he gives up after Anakin continues to persist gently. When Obi-Wan finally does look at him, Anakin is heartbroken at the tortured look in his eyes. 

"I'm not Cersai, or Siri, and I'm not Satine," Anakin says confidently and softly. “I’m not even Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan. Understand that. I am not them, you won't lose me the way you've lost them. I can promise you that."

"Can you?" Obi-Wan demands, "can you really promise that?"

Anakin pulls Obi-Wan's face closer until their noses are almost touching. "You will not lose me, Obi-Wan," he swears, "not like you lost them."

Obi-Wan still doesn't look convinced, but he's more resigned and Anakin watches as his shoulders slump and he stares back down at the ground. 

"I can't let you make this choice," Obi-Wan repeats, his voice more of a whisper. "I can't put you through this, Anakin. It won't end happily."

Anakin surprises both of them by leaning in and catching Obi-Wan's mouth in another kiss, but he forces himself to keep it soft and gentle. He trails his lips across Obi-Wan's, not opening them like he craves, but just keeps their kiss to a soft brushing of lips. 

When he pulls away he sees Obi-Wan's eyes are incredibly watery, and Anakin wishes to see a happy smile. He wishes that Obi-Wan were happy about this. 

"You can't make that choice, Obi-Wan," he says gently as he reaches up to cup Obi-Wan's cheeks. "I love you."

Obi-Wan doesn't look relieved, he looks pained and heartbroken, and Anakin leans in to press their foreheads together. 

"And that's what I'm most afraid of," Obi-Wan whispers, and Anakin wants to ask what he means but it doesn’t matter as Obi-Wan surges forward to push Anakin back towards the bed. They crash onto it in a heap of limbs, and Anakin feels elated as Obi-Wan’s hands fumble with his robes and the situation becomes clear.

He loses himself in Obi-Wan, and he tries not to think about how while Obi-Wan should be happy, he’s clearly not.


 

PLUS ONE

Anakin never thought his life would get to the extreme of walking out of the Jedi Temple with every intention on stopping Master Windu from killing a Sith Lord. It feels wrong on more than just a moral level, and Anakin knows that the darkness he's starting to feel is the Darkside brushing against his mind. He knows he's so close to falling, but he wonders if maybe tapping into the Darkside is a bad thing? After all, Palpa-Sidious clearly uses it regardless and Anakin has to admit that despite the war, the Galaxy has never been this united before.

It's for Padme, he has to remind himself the entire travel towards the senate offices. This stopping Master Windu thing, it's only for Padme. When she'd confided in him about her pregnancy, about her family history of childbirth deaths, Anakin had panicked. He can't live without Padme, and part of him wants to stalk down the bastard senator that not only led her on but then turned traitor to the republic.

Rush Clovis better be thankful he is long dead, or Anakin would've done more than just tap into the Darkside to extract revenge on him.

But Sidious had spoken about saving lives, about how if Anakin listens to him he can help save Padme, and even though a voice that sounded eerily like Obi-Wan in his head had screamed at him not to listen... Well, Anakin had to make a choice.

He feels cold and empty when he steps out of the speeder onto the platform. The building in front of him feels unwelcoming, and there's a massive imbalance in the force. It feels like a dark vortex that Anakin almost shies away from, but he steals himself and takes a few hesitant steps forward until he's striding through the corridors towards the Chancellor's Office.

Stepping over Master Fisto's body is a horrifying shock, and Anakin lingers a moment to mourn him. Master Fitso had been a dear friend, and Anakin aches for Aayla still on Felicia. He knew something had been between them, but he'd never pried. He knew Aayla knew something about him and Obi-Wan in return, but she'd also kept her silence.

He freezes at the thought of Obi-Wan and he has to try force all thoughts out of his head. He knows Obi-Wan would be screaming and yelling at him right now for being so stupid, for succumbing to temptation and the emotions Obi-Wan had tried desperately to warm him of. Part of him focuses more on the latter, on how Obi-Wan has always told him feelings and emotions are not to be taken lightly, and Anakin wonders if maybe he should've listened more. Maybe he would've learnt.

He stops Master Windu from killing Sidious, but it's only by throwing Master Windu out the window. The moment he drops from sight Anakin stumbles back and sags to his knees.

What has he done?

He knows this wasn't the answer to saving Padme. He knows that she would never accept help from the Darkside. He knows he's just jeopardised everything Obi-Wan has ever taught him... and he knows Obi-Wan will never forgive him for being so traitorous.

"What have I done," he whispers to himself in shock, staring at the shatter glass and watching Sidious rise. He's grinning and he looks revolting, and Anakin finds himself looking at him and begging to know the answer to keeping Padme alive just so he can try and forget this all happened. Master Windu’s betrayed face replays over and over in front of Anakin’s eyes, and he feels his grip on sanity starting to unfold as the horror at what he’d done and Sidious’s dark influence starts to cover him like a cloak.

"My new apprentice," Sidious crows though, looking sickeningly delighted, and Anakin realises now what's happening. He has to be a Sith apprentice. He has to be a Sith. He has to accept their ways and learn their skills to save Padme, and suddenly it's all so much more real than he ever thought it could be.

His chest feels like it's caving in as his heart stings at the thought of what he has to do, what he has to at least try to do to save the ones he loves. It takes more will-power for him than he'd like to lower his head in a submissive position, and soon Sidious is standing over him.

"Do not look so glum, Young Anakin," Sidious practically cackles, "your embracing of the Darkside means more than just the survival of our young Naboo senator." He grins when Anakin looks up, and Anakin can feel the dark power from Sidious leeching off of him. "You may also be able to save your relationship with Master Kenobi."

"What- how?" Anakin splutters, eyes wide and horrified that Sidious knows the truth. He cackles down at Anakin, his face twisted and evil and Anakin feels more revolted than before as the yellow wrinkled face leans closer and Anakin feels so so cold.

He realises it's the dark power feeding off of him, and he feels his force aura accepting it slowly, feels his mind turning darker, his rationale slipping more and more until he's grinning back at Sidious with a vengeance.

Of course, he thinks, of course they won't have to remain hidden. The Sith accept love, in any form, and Anakin bows his head once more but with gusto this time. Obi-Wan will be thrilled to hear that they can finally stop hiding.

A part of him screams into his head that Obi-Wan won’t, but Anakin ignores that part as he calmly calls to Sidious.

"Tell me, Master, what to do?" he asks, and Sidious cackles once more before beckoning for him to rise.

He’s given his first order. “Eradicate the Jedi,” Sidious spits with delight, his eyes wild and mad, and while Anakin’s skin would normally crawl he just feels acceptance about his new Master. “I have programmed every clone with Order 66, an order to take out every Jedi possible. I want you to destroy the Jedi and send out a distress signal first in order to attract survivors who are not with clones.”

Like Vos, Anakin thinks, but he frowns as that same little doubtful part of him roars to the forefront. For some reason this doesn’t sound right, and the other part of him that’s starting to twist and bend to Sidious’s instructions feels like it’s shouting over top of the lighter part of him.

He feels insane at thinking about the possibility that the Darkside and Lightside are battling it out inside of him, and when he glances up at Sidious he can see the doubt starting to form in his eyes.

“Would it be best to wait until I have captured the Temple first, Master? Before we order the clones to eliminate the off world Jedi?” he asks with a strained voice, and while the lighter side cheers in victory the darker side hisses in Anakin’s ear and wraps what feels like dark tendrils around his throat.

A quick touch to his skin though proves that he’s just imagining it, but the smirk on Sidious’s face as he watches Anakin’s fingers proves something.

It’s not the Darkside versus the Lightside in him, not really, it’s him versus Sidious and Anakin knows now what Master Windu had told them years ago when they’d learnt about the Sith, how the Master always breaks the apprentice before rebuilding them again.

The thought of Padme dying, and Obi-Wan finding out Anakin has betrayed him constant jump to his attention, but suddenly Sidious’s hands is on his face and Anakin feels all of the light being sucked out of him as the cold emptiness of the dark washes over him.

“I think that is a splendid idea, my young apprentice,” Sidious crows as he pats Anakin’s face, and when he pulls away Anakin can feel a drawn out thread growing between them. It’s exactly like the bond he use to feel between himself and Obi-Wan, but it’s more twisted and horrifying, but it takes over and Anakin feels Sidious worming his way into his head. “The 501st is outside waiting for you. I understand that you are well liked amongst them. They will take your orders directly.”

Anakin nods his head, not saying anything as he tries to fight the sickening bond but Sidious’s grasp is strong. Reassurances of this being the right thing is sent over the bond constantly, feeding the darker side, and Anakin eventually feels himself succumbing. He briskly turns and walks out of the room with his hand already straying to his lightsaber at his side, and he instantly sees Captain Rex walking towards him.

“General Skywalker,” he greets with a snap to attention, and Anakin revels in the title but also wonders just why this feels so formal? He’s never been like this with his clones… has he?

The darkness is pressing down on his mind, squashing all thoughts and emotions from before, and Anakin feels lost as his memory starts to mould into different scenarios. Everything starts to become negative, the thoughts of betrayal from every Jedi washes over him, and he has a sickening cheerful thought at having seen Master Windu fall to his death. The Jedi had never liked Anakin, never valued him, and Anakin almost laughs at how his demise was met at the hands of his most untrustworthy student.

“Assemble the clones,” Anakin orders harshly, “we’re going to the Temple to execute Order 66.”

Rex practically runs off, already barking orders after a quick affirmative. Anakin follows at a slower pace as two clones fall in behind him. Within no time they’re onboard a transport ship and flying to the Temple. He watches it rise towards them faster and faster just as Sidious starts to recede from his mind, and for some reason he finds it unsurprising when the Lightside rears it head again.

While the Darkside is egging him on, convincing him this is the way, the only way, the Lightside is begging him to stop and reconsider. He can’t choose who to listen, and for some reason he feels like he’s back to being his nine year-old slave self caught between listening to Watto and his mother.

It’s awful, and as soon as he steps foot on the landing platform he rushes off a small distance from the assemble of clones. He can hear Rex barking orders at them, but he can’t bear to listen to them.

The presence of a clone beside him knocks him out of the war raging in his head, and he glances over to see a clone he recognises well.

“Hardcore,” he breathes in relief, and Hardcore nods his head in greeting. He doesn’t say anything though, just turns and faces the Jedi Temple with his rifle settled in the crook of his elbow. Anakin stares at him for a long moment, taking in how dedicated the clone looks, but the slump of his shoulders says something else.

He glances behind them to see where the other clones are, and Rex is busy distracting them so he takes the opportunity to stand closer to Hardcore.

“Am I doing the right thing, Hardcore?” he asks quietly under his breath, and Hardcore glances over at him though there is no emotion shown through his helmet. “Please, Hardcore, I need to know…”

Hardcore just watches him for a long moment before he reaches up to take his helmet off his head. Anakin’s surprised to see the battle hardened face, and he knows Hardcore has suffered more injuries than most. His face is particularly scarred, and Anakin realises the clone wars has done so much damage.

Maybe Sidious is right. Killing the Jedi will end the war.

“Off the record, sir?” Hardcore hesitantly asks, and without thinking Anakin agrees. Hardcore looks nervous for a moment, before he steels his eyes nd stares right into Anakin’s. “I think you’re a bloody fool. You’ve been warned against the Sith, we all have, and yet here you are ready to fight for one? It’s disgraceful.”

Anakin is speechless, especially at such defiance from a clone. But then again, the 501st has never been particularly good at adhering to the behaviour patterns they were programmed with, and Anakin glances over his shoulder wondering if there are any other clones that think the same but are confined by the same possible fear as Hardcore had been.

“Really?” he can’t help but ask stupidly, and Hardcore just sends him a harsh crooked look before he’s shoving his helmet on and Rex is marching the others towards them. They’re all ready to kill, and while Anakin’s darker side cheers his lighter side makes him feel sick.

It’s still a raging war in his head, but then he hears a gentle voice prodding him towards the Temple. “Go, Anakin,” it practically purrs, “you know this is the only way..

It’s Sidious’s voice, and there’s another wave of darkness sent over the bond between them. The lighter side evaporates once more, and Anakin feels his hate bubbling to the surface. Hate for the Jedi, hate for this Temple, hate for everything they’ve done. Hate courses through him, and he starts to stride steadily forward.

All thoughts of what Hardcore had said vanish, all misgivings he’s had disappear, and all that’s left is hate, reassurance, and Sidious’s voice.

They’re mere metres away from the entrance of the Temple though when a new disturbance in the force waves through the air, and Anakin stumbles to a surprised halt when he sees a familiar figure standing outside of the Temple doors.

“Obi-Wan…” he murmurs, eyes wide and surprised. He’d thought Obi-Wan would still be on Utapau, and he stares in horror as Obi-Wan starts to walk towards him.

“Anakin,” he calls out calmly across the night air, “this is madness.”

Madness? Anakin hears the word but he can’t associate it with what he’s doing. “This isn’t madness, Obi-Wan!” he yells back. “Can’t you see? It’s the Jedi who have caused this war. It is the Sith that will bring peace.”

“The Sith don’t know what peace is, Anakin! They rely on turmoil and hatred to guide them,” Obi-Wan denies as he walks closer still. “Please, stop this. Come away with me. It’s not too late-”

“Not too late?” Anakin states in disbelief, “you can’t honestly believe that. Think of what’s been done to this world, to this galaxy. This war has gone on for too long.”

“Palpatine only wants you to believe that the Sith will bring peace, but they won’t!”

“The new Empire will. This war will end and a new era will begin under a new reign, a safer reign. One with a single leader that will not cause destruction to the galaxy!”

Obi-Wan looks unimpressed, shocked even, and the lighter side of Anakin’s personal war is poking at the edges and begging him to listen to Obi-Wan. The darker side smothers out the thoughts quickly though, Sidious’s voice whispering in his ear about how wrong Obi-Wan is.

“I support a Republic, Anakin!” Obi-Wan swears as he steps so close that if Anakin were to reach out with an ignited lightsaber he would sear it straight through Obi-Wan’s heart. “I support a democracy.”

“I-” Anakin starts to reply, but Obi-Wan’s sad look, the horror in his face, the clear pain he’s feeling makes him stumble over his words. It must have been the opportunity the lighter side was looking for as it roars to life and screams at him to listen! Listen to Obi-Wan! He’s right.

Sidious is there though, ready to fight back, and Anakin hisses as Sidious whispers cruel words into his ears.

“He is manipulative and dangerous, just like the rest. He would choose the Jedi over you. He doesn't care for you like you do him. He's another clone, another pawn in their game.” Sidious drawls, and Anakin’s heart lurches to a stop and falls cold. Sidious must be right. Obi-Wan would never side against him… not if he truly loved Anakin.

“If you are not with me,” Anakin murmurs, eyes narrowing as he takes in Obi-Wan’s heartbroken face and wonders just how long it took for Obi-Wan to learn to fake that. “Then you are against me.”

Obi-Wan looks resigned, and he takes a hesitant couple of steps back. “Anakin,” he says softly, and Anakin glares at him with so much hate that it’s obvious that Obi-Wan can’t stand to look at him any longer. “Only Sith deal in absolutes.”

Anakin doesn’t say anything, just lets out a roar as he flings himself forward at his old Master, his lightsaber igniting mid-jump before crashing down to land on Obi-Wan’s parrying blow. He pulls away quickly and swings his lightsaber around to aim for Obi-Wan’s shoulders, but Obi-Wan ducks the blow and falls back. It’s obvious he’s falling to the defence, and at Sidious’s urgings Anakin stalks forward with a cruel smile twisting his face.

He fuels the darker side through him, feeling the crackle of such amazing power at his fingertips as he throws attack after attack at Obi-Wan. The air between them crackles and sizzles violently, and Anakin takes a sick delight in how horrible and unnatural the air around them feels.

He channels every ounce of power through him until he has Obi-Wan falling back to the ground with his lightsaber cracking against the concrete seconds after. Anakin stands over him like a predator, staring down at his old Master as Obi-Wan stares back up at him with a face of sad defeat.

“Any last words?” Anakin says almost mockingly, and Obi-Wan looks up at him so lost.

“Remember before I left for Utapau,” Obi-Wan surprises him by saying gently, “remember when you said that I would not lose you the way I lost the others that I loved?”

Anakin’s stomach rolls unpleasantly at the reminder, and he remembers standing in a room with Obi-Wan wrapped in his arms and Obi-Wan’s head pressed under his chin. It’s so intimate, and Anakin’s hands slacken on his lightsaber.

“You said I wouldn’t lose you,” Obi-Wan practically begs, and Anakin stares at his old Master in such confusion. He doesn’t know what to feel, everything is a mess. He loves this man… he can’t kill him.

But a push from the darker side has his lips curling as he glares down at Obi-Wan. “You didn’t listen,” he snarls, “I said in the same way as you lost them.”

“Please, Anakin,” he calls desperately, but there’s no passion behind his words. Anakin knows he’s accepted defeat already, and he grips his lightsaber tightly before holding it up high in preparation to deliver the final blow.

“Stop!” a sudden voice bellows across the landing pad, and Anakin freezes at the sound of storming feet before he slowly turns around. He should’ve moved faster though, he realises, as the form of none other than Hardcore comes racing towards him.

He wonders what the clone is doing for all of a moment before suddenly Hardcore slams into him with enough force to send them both flying further down the landing pad towards the Temple doors.

“Fool!” Sidious hisses loudly, and Anakin goes ridged at the pure fury in his voice. “Kill the clone! He is of no use! He has defied his programming!”

Anakin’s rage flares up out of his control, and it feels like he’s on autopilot as he struggles to sit up. But Hardcore is there again, forcing him back down and screaming his name… his first name, and while that strikes something inside him it’s not enough to stop his hand wrenching forward and slamming his lightsaber through Hardcore’s chest.

Feeling Hardcore’s body go limp on top of him though… that’s enough to strike something more in Anakin and all of Sidious melts away as regret and horror seeps through him. He surges forward to catch Hardcore as he drops. His hands slip around the clone’s body, cradling him gently, and his trembling fingers reach up to pull the helmet from Hardcore’s face.

There’s nothing there though, no signs of life as Hardcore’s scarred face looks up at the dark sky blankly. Anakin feels a tightening in his chest and his eyes starting to burn as he looks upon one of his dear friend’s faces.

“Hardcore…” he whispers with so much sorrow and regret, and his body shakes at the thought of what he’s done.

“Pathetic, Sidious mutters in Anakin’s head. “Crying over a clone? You have a lot to learn, young apprentice.”

Anakin wants to scream at him to leave, to get out of his head, but there’s a sudden surge over the bond Sidious had forced upon him and Anakin’s limbs are suddenly not his own to control. He drops Hardcore with a crash, the clone’s body crumpling on the concrete, and Anakin’s lightsaber is back in hand in such an unfamiliar grasp.

It’s Sidious controlling his body, he realises, and he starts to fight desperately as Sidious cackles in his ear and forces him to force leap over Obi-Wan’s head until he’s standing back in front of the clones. They’re all stone still, Anakin notices, and he wonders how many of them are registering Hardcore’s sacrifice. A few are looking at him, but he can’t look back for long as he swings around to face a panting Obi-Wan.

“How are you here?” Anakin hears himself asking as he starts to prowl forward. “I waited until you were on Utapau before convincing your young padawan here to join me.”

“Sidious, how about you let Anakin go and we discuss this face to face?” Obi-Wan greets and asks, his eyes narrow and Anakin is so thankful that Obi-Wan understands what’s happening. He’s fearful at the thought of Sidious accepting Obi-Wan’s offer though, and Sidious takes his fear and shoves it to the forefront of Anakin’s mind.

“Oh, but this is so much better,” Anakin coos, and he tries as hard as he can to choke back his voice, “after all, you can never kill Anakin. Myself though? I wouldn’t put it past you to try.”

“Do or do not,” Obi-Wan recites as he falls into circling around Anakin as Anakin mimics him, “there is no try.”

“Been talking to Master Yoda, I see,” Anakin snorts before he gasps, “of course. Master Yoda brought you back didn’t he? Did he have one of his force-visions, or was it that sweet togruta youngling, Ashla?”

“How do you-” Obi-Wan starts to say, but Anakin cuts him off with a loud cackle that hurts his throat.

“Master Kenobi, I do know everything,” Anakin sneers as he ignites his lightsaber. “So it was the brat then. I’ll ensure that I kill her last.”

He’s halfway through darting towards Obi-Wan once more when Anakin sees the horrified look on Obi-Wan’s face. It all falls together, Obi-Wan’s horror, Master Windu’s horror, Hardcore’s words and his sacrifice, the disgusting feeling of the darkside falling over him in waves… Ashla’s young face and he remembers the time he sat beside her in the dining hall and ate apples side by side… it all comes together and Anakin musters up as much strength as physically possible before…

NO!” he screams as loud as he can, slamming all of his energy into forcing his body to the ground. He collapses in a heap, throwing his lightsaber as hard as he can off the landing pad as he goes, and he hears Sidious crying out in dismay in his head.

“What are you doing?!”

“I can’t let you do this,” Anakin pants as he forces himself to stay down despite Sidious’s attempts at yanking his arms around. “I can’t let you hurt all of these Jedi. They’re not evil! You are!”

“You will pay for your insolence, boy!”

A sudden stream of what feels like force lightning screams through Anakin’s body, and Anakin can’t hold back a flesh ripping howl at the sheer amount of pain. It’s horrifying, it’s torturous, and he tightens his hands into fists as he tries to remain in control despite the pain streaking through his every nerve.

“Anakin!”

Somehow, he manages glances up through the red haze covering his eyes at the sound of pounding feet, and he sees Obi-Wan rushing towards him. He wants to reach for him, his body is roaring at him to do so, but pain flares in every limb as Sidious cackles in his head.

The sound of guns cocking behind him alerts him to the other clones though, and as he hears Rex crying out "FIRE" he lets out a throat-wrenching scream and he flings his hand out. The force surges through his palm and shoots back behind him, and he's shocked to see a every single clone drop to the ground. They’re still breathing, he knows that, but he stares at his own power.

Force drain, he realises, but it doesn't matter as Sidious is coming down on him with a vengeance and screaming in his head, tearing down his mind and reminding him of just what he's doing to the galaxy, to Padme, to everything.

"Padme wouldn't want this," he tells himself as he grips his ears in an attempt to keep the voice out, "she wouldn't. She’d rather sacrifice herself than the galaxy, and Obi-Wan is-"

"Right here," he hears Obi-Wan's voice, and he glances up to see Obi-Wan is kneeling in front of him. "I'm right here, Anakin, come back to me."

Those words causes Sidious to send more pain surging down Anakin's spine. "DON'T LISTEN TO HIM," Sidious is screaming so loudly that Anakin’s head feels like it’s splitting open, "HE'S LYING. HE WILL KILL YOU THE MOMENT YOU LET YOUR GUARD DOWN."

"He won't," Anakin sobs, starting to rock back and forth, "Obi-Wan won't-"

“Does he even love you?” Sidious cackles, “How do you even know? He's never said the words. You mean nothing to him, Anakin, absolutely nothing.”

“Don’t listen to him, Anakin,” Obi-Was is saying, and Anakin has to force himself to listen to Obi-Wan. “Whatever he’s saying, it’s not true!” He reaches forward to grab Anakin’s hand in his own, and when Anakin manages to make eye contact it’s to see Obi-Wan’s eyes tearing up. “Please, I can’t lose you. I can’t let you go. Don’t leave me-”

Anakin cries out as he’s flung forward. His grip on himself is lost for a moment, a long one, and it’s enough time for Sidious to gain control and for Anakin’s hands to be suddenly wrapping around Obi-Wan’s throat and squeezing.

He can’t fight, Anakin realises in horror as he desperately tries to gain control, he can’t fight as he watches his hands curling tighter and tighter around Obi-Wan’s neck and Obi-Wan struggles to break free.

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan chokes out, “Anakin, please-”

“I can’t!” Anakin cries, and he can’t believe that Sidious is still allowing him his voice, but he knows why. He knows it’ll be horrifying to strangle his lover to death while still having minimal control of himself. “Obi-Wan, I can’t stop. I can’t fight him!”

Gently, Anakin can feel the bond he shares with Obi-Wan flaring up beside the darker one with Sidious. It’s shocking and surprising, and Anakin is stunned as he feels Obi-Wan sending calm feelings, strength, faith, and love over the bond. He’s speechless as he realises that even in such a nightmare situation, even when he’s facing his death, Obi-Wan is still there for him.

Obi-Wan’s face is turning red and purple, and Anakin’s breathing turns into quick hyperventilation as Obi-Wan slowly loses all of his.

“Annie…” Obi-Wan manages to whisper, and Anakin’s throat is blocked with sobs, “Annie, I-” He starts to shudder, and Anakin tries once more to throw Sidious off, he tries so hard. “I love you-”

Anakin hears the words, sees Obi-Wan’s bloodshot eyes start to close, and he gathers all of the strength that Obi-Wan had lent him along with his own and he lets out a desperate roar as he throws himself back off of Obi-Wan. Sidious cries out in disbelief as Anakin shakily gets to his feet, pushing the Sith lord back from his mind, and he gathers as much force power as he possibly can, both dark and light and a mixture of in-between, and sends it flying back down the bond connecting them.

Sidious’s screams spur Anakin on, and he throws more and more force down the bond until he can feel it starting to fray like rope. He knows he’s hurting Sidious, possibly killing him, and his satisfaction fuels his power so much that he lets out one final desperate yell and completely severs the bond.

There’s a ripple in the force, something that shakes Anakin down to the bone, and as he stands puffing and panting he knows that somewhere on Coruscant in the Chancellor’s office is a hollow husk lying on red carpet. It’s not enough to make him feel safe, but the receding dark tendrils that had lingered in his mind are starting to vanish and he almost collapses at the relief.

He stands still only for a moment longer before he sees Obi-Wan struggling to sit up. He lets out a little yelp as he rushes forward, truly exhausted but determined nonetheless, to help Obi-Wan. He slips his arm around Obi-Wan’s lower back, and he pulls him into his chest and cradles Obi-Wan close.

“Are you okay?” he asks, and he feels slightly stupid as he grips Obi-Wan’s robes tightly in hand.

“Never better,” Obi-Wan rasps out, and when Anakin glances down he sees Obi-Wan reaching up to touch his neck. His fingers glow a gentle blue, and Anakin watches in fascination as Obi-Wan trails his fingers over his bruised throat. The bruise disappears, the force healing fixing him carefully, and Obi-Wan clears his throat before looking back up at Anakin. “Anakin… are you-”

“It’s not worth it, Obi-Wan,” Anakin cuts him off. “The Darkside is not worth it. Not for anything. I was foolish to think I could save Padme by embracing it, and I was foolish to think that we could be together if I could just get rid of the rules holding us apart. They’re there for a reason.” He pauses to take a deep breath. “I’ve made so many mistakes. Master Windu, Hardcore… they’re dead because of me.”

He’s surprised when Obi-Wan cups his cheek and drags his head down to press their foreheads together. “I’m sorry about Hardcore,” he murmurs, “I didn’t anticipate that. But Master Windu is fine, Anakin. He’s fine.”

Anakin stares at Obi-Wan blankly, the moment he pushed Master Windu out of the window replaying in his mind. “But I killed him,” he starts to say, but Obi-Wan shakes his head gently.

“Ashla did see a vision,” he explains gently. “Master Yoda helped decipher it, although it meant that a desperate call for my return reached me only a day ago. Somehow I made it. Yoda saw no other way to stop the destruction of the Temple unless I managed to talk you out of it.”

“He knows about us?”

Obi-Wan smiles up at him. “No, he just understands our bond is unnaturally strong.”

Anakin nods his head slowly, absorbing the information. “So Master Windu is okay?” he asks cautiously, and Obi-Wan surprisingly laughs.

“Well, assuming Bail Organa doesn’t drive him mad,” he replies cheekily. “He’s the one Yoda sent to rescue him from the drop. He’ll be fine, although I think we might want to leave for the outer rim for a year or so to let him cool down about the whole thing. He knew it was going to happen, but I don’t think it shocked him any less.”

Guilt courses through Anakin, and he regretfully starts to pull away. He can’t just pretend it’s all okay. He had betrayed the Jedi, turn to the darkside, almost caused the destruction of the galaxy.

“Hey,” Obi-Wan calls and Anakin feels his hand on his cheek, and he turns slowly to look down at Obi-Wan. “It’s okay, Anakin,” Obi-Wan insists gently. “It’s okay.”

“I turned to the Darkside,” Anakin snaps. “I just about killed you!”

“No, Sidious did,” Obi-Wan denies vehemently. “You saved me.”

Anakin shakes his head desperately, and he reaches out to cup Obi-Wan’s cheeks and begs him to understand. “You saved me,” he protests, eyes watering as he looks in Obi-Wan’s. “If it hadn’t of been for you then I could never have thrown him off. Obi-Wan, you saved the galaxy. You saved me.

Obi-Wan is dead silent, eyes wide and mouth open, and Anakin doesn’t stop to let him start to insist on something about Anakin being the hero today. He just swoops forward and kisses Obi-Wan instead, locking their lips together as he desperately tries to block out the world by absorbing himself in Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan reciprocates very quickly, hands coming up to wrap in Anakin’s hair and the two of them drag each other closer and lose themselves. Anakin whimpers when Obi-Wan bites at his lips and deepens the kiss with a quick swipe of tongue, and he holds Obi-Wan’s waist tight as Obi-Wan continues to tug at his hair and groan into his mouth.

It’s hot and heavy, and there’s so much relief in the air that Anakin finds himself eventually pulling away and pressing their foreheads back together.

“You saved me, Obi-Wan,” he repeats again, puffing slightly as he looks into Obi-Wan’s eyes. “You didn’t lose me, you saved me.”

Obi-Wan stares back for a long moment, before suddenly Anakin watches in complete fascination as Obi-Wan’s face lights up. There’s a blinding smiling on his face, morphing his entire face, and Anakin watches as it reaches his eyes and Obi-Wan is beaming at him with so much happiness that it’s contagious.

It’s the first time he’s ever seen such a smile on Obi-Wan’s face, it’s so beautiful and bright and Anakin wants to look at it forever. He wants to make Obi-Wan laugh and see that smile every time, he wants to kiss Obi-Wan speechless and see a lazy version of that smile, he wants to be wrapped in Obi-Wan’s arms and have a soft and gentle smile like that aimed at him.

“You’re gorgeous,” he can’t help but murmur as he reaches out to touch Obi-Wan’s face, and he can’t help but grin madly as Obi-Wan starts to laugh.

He laughs too, the adrenaline leaving his body finally and leaving him a shaky mess. He laughs though, laughs and laughs and watches Obi-Wan look so utterly happy that it lifts every dark thought from his mind and banishes it to the furtherest reaches.

Anakin laughs and watches Obi-Wan, and he’s never felt lighter.


 

Anakin first notices it when he’s twenty-three and he’s standing on a landing pad with Master Yoda being given instructions about his first mission to the outer rim since his brush with the Darkside. He’s alone with Yoda, no one else in sight, and while he normally feels uncomfortable and tense around Yoda, a strange sense of calm flows through him.

“Careful, you must be,” Yoda tells hims gently, and Anakin nods in agreement, “assigned to you, someone has been. Of help, they may be.”

Anakin hasn’t worked with anyone for a very long time. Only Tru has been brave enough to approach him since his self-imposed isolation, and Anakin wishes for a time when Darra was here just to have friends once more. Even Ferus would do, at least he’d never been scared of Anakin.

He doesn’t know who to expect, but a flash of happiness between his and Obi-Wan’s force bond flares inside him, and when he glances up at the transport ship it’s to see a smiling Obi-Wan standing at the top of the ramp.

It’s that beautiful smile, it’s stunning and lights up Obi-Wan’s entire face, and Anakin can’t help but grin back at him.

He knows why Obi-Wan smiles now, smiles so much it reaches his eyes. Finally, Obi-Wan saved someone he loved, and finally he hasn’t lost someone who loves him just as much. Anakin feels so bright at knowing that he could make Obi-Wan smile so wholesomely again, but part of him knows that it never really was him that did it. It was Obi-Wan himself, and knowing how strong Obi-Wan is makes Anakin’s smile turn softer and more personal as he exchanges glances with Obi-Wan.

Another small part of him wonders if Yoda knows what is between them, although he chooses not to ask as the mysterious Master just smiles up at him before gesturing for Anakin to join Obi-Wan. He doesn’t say no, just thanks Yoda before hurrying up the ramp to throw an arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulders. He knows Obi-Wan will want to wait for the ramp to close before they do anything, but Anakin can’t resist pressing a kiss to a grinning Obi-Wan’s cheek. Obi-Wan scowls at him, but his cheeks are a sweet red and Anakin loves it.

“I love you,” he murmurs in Obi-Wan’s ear, and Obi-Wan’s scowl disappears with a soft smile as he leans against Anakin and fiddles briefly with Hardcore’s dog-tags, worn around Anakin’s neck, before he slips his hand down to Anakin’s. He doesn’t reply, he never does, but he squeezes Anakin’s hand gently before disappearing towards the cockpit.

Anakin watches him go before he glances back behind himself to look at Yoda. Hopefully the old Master hadn’t seen any of their exchange, and when he looks down Yoda is merely watching him with wise old eyes.

Obviously he hadn’t seen anything, Anakin decides as he raises his hand in farewell, otherwise Yoda would probably be scolding them by now.

After all, love is against the Jedi way.