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between desperate and divine

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The thing about Anakin Skywalker and the universe is that sometimes the universe seems to curl and ripple around Anakin Skywalker like he’s the very centre of it.

That’s certainly what he believes himself to be; his command of the Jedi techniques and the Force is effortless, almost arrogant, and Obi-Wan fears that no amount of scolding and reminding him of the Code can change that. He still tries, mostly earning endless eyerolls and exasperated sighs for his troubles.

It’s not that Obi-Wan is a strict mentor who doesn’t care. It’s that he cares too much.

The thing about Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is that at some point Anakin Skywalker has become the centre of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life.

No matter how much they fight and bicker, Anakin’s wit now sharp enough to keep up with Obi-Wan’s, it’s always in good faith; there’s a connection between them, a feeling of understanding and closeness Obi-Wan has come to love. He watches his Padawan out of the corner of his eye, pride and fondness swelling in him, smiles when Anakin isn’t looking.

He appreciates the time they spend together, Kenobi and Skywalker, their names almost fused into a single word, fitting together so easily and naturally. Wherever one goes, the other follows.

This is how they both end up in a remote system, a mission like countless others before it, scouting and negotiations and trying to keep important beings from dying.

This is also how, having stopped the immediate danger, for the first time in at least a week Obi-Wan finally has the time to sleep the entire night. But the frantic thrashing from across where Anakin’s lying, the restless desperation rippling through the Force like the thoughts of a caged animal, is rather successfully stopping him from doing so.

Notes of annoyance slip through his voice as he says, “Anakin, please, I am trying to rest.”

“Well I can’t sleep,” Anakin snaps from across the room, furiously throws back the covers and springs out of bed as if he was waiting for a reason.

Obi-Wan sees only his silhouette, a shadow against the velvet of the dark sky behind the window, but he doesn’t need to look at Anakin’s face to know that his Padawan is troubled. His voice betrays him, his posture betrays him, his thoughts betray him, how the Force swirls around him, restless, upset.

“Anakin, please. We have much to do in the morning, we can’t afford to—“

Anakin scoffs and starts dressing up. “I need to see Padmé.”

Obi-Wan opens his mouth and closes it, finds out he doesn’t know where to even begin reacting to that. “You need to—Anakin, we are halfway across the galaxy on a mission of utmost importance, you cannot just decide you want to see Senator Amidala on a whim.”

Anakin’s already at the door by the time Obi-Wan finishes speaking, even more dismissive of his mentor’s words than he usually is, but instead of leaving he turns towards his Master again and Force-slams the door behind himself.

“It’s not a whim,” Anakin says, his voice shaky. There is an air of despair around him, a sharp, panicked intensity, like an exploding star settled where his heart should be. “It’s… I… I think she might be in danger, I have to…”

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan sighs. “What did I tell you about trying to deceive a Jedi? About trying to deceive your own mentor, specifically, and doing a poor job of it?”

“Fine.” Anakin’s tone is a saddening mix of offended, hurt, and irritated. “Fine. It’s not that.”

“There’s a busy day waiting ahead of us. We can’t allow ourselves to become distracted from the task at—“

“I’m already distracted,” Anakin cuts in, and there’s anger boiling just beneath the surface, bright, burning, barely contained, a volcano waiting to erupt. “I can’t—it’s not…”

Obi-Wan waits, quiet and patient, doesn’t scold or judge, just lets Anakin gather his racing thoughts, lets him put the storm inside his mind into words.

“I need to—see someone, talk to someone, and there are only two people in the entire galaxy that I could bother with this, anyway. Padmé, or… or…” Anakin trails off, and turns towards the door.

“Or who? Anakin. Anakin, answer me,” Obi-Wan demands, regrets letting his voice slip into a more commanding tone the moment it happens. Somehow, though, it doesn’t scare Anakin off. Instead, he stops halfway through the door and looks over his shoulder. Obi-Wan can’t see his eyes in the darkness but can feel he’s being watched very carefully.

“You,” Anakin says in a hushed whisper after what feels like an eternity of silence.

Not Palpatine, then. The relief washes over Obi-Wan, leaving his heart with an overwhelmingly fond lightness that he dare not give a name to. He pushes the emotion to the back of his mind and shakes his head, gives Anakin a wistful smile.

“Anakin.” As the name leaves his lips it becomes an apology and a promise both. “I can’t allow you to go see Padmé right now. I know she means a lot to you, but I can’t. I’m right here, though. You know you can tell me anything. Feel free to bother me.”

Anakin steps back into the room and walks a few steps towards Obi-Wan. He’s so very young and restless, like an open book with all the emotions he should be in control of by now written out on the pages. Most of the time, he hides himself well. But Obi-Wan knows him, knows that when he’s lying awake in the middle of the night, he’s still scared, still unsure of himself and his place in the world.

Obi-Wan can’t tell whether he can truly help with any of this; but there is no harm in trying.

 “Is it the nightmares?” he asks, his voice soft and careful. Anakin takes a few steps closer still, that Obi-Wan can make out his silhouette in the darkness again, and nods silently. “They will pass. In time.”

“Well I can’t sleep now,” Anakin says, his voice defiant if more than a little tired. “Nothing’s helping. And please don’t tell me to meditate. That especially doesn’t help.”

Obi-Wan feels another small smile curling his lips. “One day you will appreciate the value of meditation, my young apprentice.”

Anakin just scoffs in response and starts undressing. Obi-Wan watches his silhouette, silent, wondering. Anakin throws his overtunic aside as if it’s personally hurt and offended him—Obi-Wan stops himself from reprimanding him; there’s no point. Anakin sits down on the edge of his Master’s bed, combs fingers through his hair, hangs his head low between his knees.

Obi-Wan’s silent. He knows full well his apprentice needs to feel that he’s not alone but doesn’t want to overstep his boundaries or to be taken the wrong way. There’s no telling with Anakin, no predicting his reactions. “Would it help if we moved the beds together?” he finally asks, hesitant, opening himself up and trying to make his intentions known and clear.

“No,” Anakin sighs, then unceremoniously climbs into Obi-Wan’s bed.

“Anakin—“

“Master,” Anakin says, hard and certain, his tone stubborn as always. They eye each other silently for a long moment, then Obi-Wan caves in and moves over. He props himself up on his elbows, then sits up leaning against the wall.

Anakin slips under the covers and freezes, stares into Obi-Wan’s eyes with an unreadable expression. They’re close enough to touch, to look at and into each other and see everything, shrouded by darkness yet all the more exposed by it, real and almost too honest. Anakin finally makes a decision and moves forward, wraps his arms around Obi-Wan and clings to him, his whole body shaking slightly. His hands are cold as death itself as he drags them down Obi-Wan’s bare back, then grabs on to his shoulders with a desperate grasp, but Obi Wan doesn’t flinch.

Instead he pulls his Padawan even closer and sighs deeply, burying his face in Anakin’s hair. It’s soft and messy, getting too long again as Anakin seems to consider the traditional Padawan haircut his mortal enemy. “Oh, Anakin,” Obi-Wan whispers, but Anakin’s breaths are getting even more shaky and nervous and this will not do at all.

“It’s okay,” Obi-Wan says, his voice kind and gentle, pets Anakin’s head with one hand and spreads the fingers of the other one on Anakin’s back. He reaches out into the Force, into the bond that they share, Master and Padawan, two beings connected in a way nothing else quite is. Obi-Wan’s thoughts call out to Anakin’s, send out warmth and serenity, a soft, ethereal hum of comfort. Obi-Wan breathes into him stability and calm, control and unwavering certainty, and he holds Anakin tight, feels their hearts beating, one peaceful, the other a raging, desperate storm, a burning furnace.

Anakin holds on to him like he’s the only fixed point in the entire universe, a serene, bright, beautiful beacon of the Force. Obi-Wan leans down, lightly presses his lips to Anakin’s forehead and massages gentle circles onto his back.

He gives himself up, locks his own emotions away and gives all he can, steady and sure until Anakin’s no longer shaking and sobbing in his arms, until his hands aren’t cold and his mind isn’t a tempest.

They stay like this for a long moment, until Obi-Wan forces himself to stop and do something. His hand comes to a rest on the back of Anakin’s neck, warm and reassuring.

“Anakin,” he says, his voice barely audible.

“Yes, Master?” Anakin answers after a while, rebellious notes woven back into his tone. There’s never obedient respect in his voice when he says Master. He’s conditioned to say it, but his dislike of the title is obvious. Obi-Wan marvels at the fact that he even uses it when they’re alone. It’s not like he pays that much attention to Obi-Wan’s scolding and teachings anyway.

“Are you feeling better?” A meaningless question, and Obi-Wan winces as the words leave his mouth. He knows this, he can sense it.

“I am, Master,” Anakin answers. He doesn’t seem even remotely interested in leaving, though; instead of loosening up his grip on Obi-Wan, he just moves into a more comfortable position, burying his face in Obi-Wan’s shoulder, and exhales slowly. “What if the nightmares are true? What if I’m never good enough, what if I can’t save the people I love?” he quietly asks Obi-Wan’s collarbone, his lips brushing against it.

Obi-Wan would appreciate it if they weren’t having this conversation… well, like this, but he does want to help and he can’t bear to see his Padawan so worried he can’t think straight.

“Anakin, there’s no point dwelling on what may or may not happen,” he says, hates that his tone shifts as if he were giving a lecture. Anakin shifts, too, and Obi-Wan bites his tongue and tries again. No Jedi rule or proverb will work here. “You can’t control everything, Anakin.”

“Don’t remind me,” Anakin says, barely above a whisper but already with flashes of anger between the words. Wrong again. Obi-Wan sighs.

“It is the truth that you must accept,” he says softly. He feels rather than hears Anakin mouthing a defiant no into the crook of his neck and he chuckles quietly, a low sound rumbling through his body. “You’ve changed much, my Padawan,” he says fondly, ”grown into a fine young man, but there’s still a lot ahead of you.”

Anakin huffs and mutters something indistinguishable.

“Learn to trust the Force, Anakin. You already let it guide you when you’re fighting; you need only allow yourself to be guided by it in life. The Force is always there, it won’t betray you and trusting in it will help—with the nightmares, with all your worries, with everything. It is the energy that puts us in motion, that lets the universe exist. Listen to it, see the world through it and in time, everything will become clearer.”

Obi-Wan absent-mindedly wraps Anakin’s Padawan braid around his finger and stares at it, thinks back to the time when he first became Anakin’s mentor, when he braided the boy’s hair behind his right ear and smiled at him, bittersweet.

It feels like such a long time ago.

“You needn’t worry about your own skill,” he continues, his voice even softer. “Already you are one of the best Jedi I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. You are strong and brave; it is truly a privilege to be training you, to always have you at my side and watch you become a truly great being. You are rash at times, yes, sometimes you don’t think ahead and you allow your emotions to take control, but all this will pass with your training. You are wise, Anakin, and…” Obi-Wan trails off as he realises something… odd, if rather pleasant. “And you’re kissing my neck.”

“Very observant, Master,” Anakin murmurs, warm breath in his ear, and something about the way he drawls out the last word is—fiery, intoxicating, dangerous.

He kisses Obi-Wan’s neck once more as Obi-Wan finds out he doesn’t have it in him to tell Anakin to stop. He doesn't even move, just idly wonders when during the last three minutes did all his reason and self-control decide to go back to Coruscant and leave him here alone.

Anakin leans away for a moment, and Obi-Wan’s skin seems to be burning where his mouth has touched. He looks into Obi-Wan’s eyes, and there’s something in his expression that’s… curious, smug, excited? Seems like everything at once as he grabs Obi-Wan’s hip, his other hand resting on the back of his neck, pulling him closer.

Whatever he was planning to do, Anakin hesitates and changes his mind at the last second, kisses the corner of his mouth as Obi-Wan watches, stunned into silence. “Thank you, Master,” Anakin says, his tone low and his face close to Obi-Wan’s, his eyes dark, a storm, a fire, a burning star.

“Anakin…” Obi-Wan begins, but isn’t quite sure what it is that he wants to say, exactly, and doesn’t say anything in the end.

Anakin shifts until he’s lying down, turns his back to Obi-Wan, grabs one of his arms and pulls him down too, wrapping his arm around himself.

“I think I should be able to fall asleep like this,” he says, pressing himself back into Obi-Wan until they’re lying down aligned and close, with Obi-Wan’s hand on Anakin’s chest, holding him.

Obi-Wan stays motionless for a moment, questions appearing in his mind quicker than he can count them, all of them flashing warnings.

This is wrong.

This is—well, nothing’s happening, really, but something’s certainly in the air, something’s on the verge of happening, and they’re not supposed to—there are no attachments, there are no passions, there aren’t supposed to be any, and this… This. What of it? Is this not one of his responsibilities, to try and make his Padawan feel better?

Being Anakin’s mentor has made him reckless, Obi-Wan realises with a bitter smile. It’s almost as if being dismissive of the rules was infectious.

He rests his forehead against the back of Anakin’s shoulder and sighs. He shouldn’t blame Anakin for this. It’s him who’s supposed to help his young Padawan reach his full potential as a Jedi, guide him into knighthood. Yet there he is, lying in the darkness, with a smile that shouldn’t be there and a warm body pressed into his, and telling Anakin to stop… whatever it is that he’s doing is the last thing he wants to do right now.

“Anakin…” he tries again, gathers all of his willpower to try and make himself move away, but Anakin grabs his arm before he can do anything, and Obi-Wan’s halfhearted attempt dies as soon as it began.

“Goodnight, Master,” Anakin says, a strange edge to his voice that Obi-Wan can’t quite place.

Obi-Wan shakes his head.

He’s a disgrace to everything the Jedi stand for, that’s what he is right now.

It’s time he started listening to the advice he so readily gives Anakin, it seems. Be mindful of your thoughts, Obi-Wan, he reprimands himself wryly. Let the Force guide you, draw your strength from its certainty.

Obi-Wan is no stranger to the Force. He knows how to allow it to flow through him, to steady his movements, uphold his decisions, help him see clearly the path that is not obvious. He’s no longer just himself—he’s that and more, and everything else, feels the universe as a part of himself and himself as a part of the universe.

When he reaches into it, follows its lead, he expects light, stability and resolve. His emotions are irrelevant, as is everything else that is personal and confused. There is only peace. There is only the Force.

That’s what it’s supposed to be.

As he reaches into the Force this time, it almost feels like the universe is laughing at him.

As he opens himself up he’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and he’s Anakin Skywalker, he’s them both and the darkness surrounding them, he’s the universe itself but somehow, it doesn’t feel like he thought it would.

The thing about Anakin Skywalker and the universe is that sometimes the universe seems to curl and ripple around Anakin Skywalker like he’s the very centre of it.

Obi-Wan softly grabs Anakin’s shoulder and flips him onto his back, looms over him and gives him a warm smile, anticipation changing his soft expression into something new, bright and shining.

The thing about Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is that at some point Anakin Skywalker has become the centre of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life.

There is no emotion, there is peace, he tries to tell himself. There is no passion, there is serenity.

Anakin slowly returns the smile, his eyes a clear blue sky where the storm has been.

The thing about being the universe and being Anakin Skywalker and being Obi-Wan Kenobi all at once is that when the Force is laced through everything, it does bring calm.

Emotion, yet peace. Passion, yet serenity.

And in that moment Obi-Wan knows he’ll lean down to kiss Anakin, just as he knows Anakin will meet him halfway and thread a hand into his hair, pulling him closer. He knows this will happen; he has no more control over it than he has over black holes pulling entire galaxies to their deaths.

This will happen. Seems like it was always meant to happen, and there’s no point trying to fight something you’ve never even wanted to fight in the first place.

The Force is humming around them, drawing them towards each other, a whisper of warmth flowing through their minds and bodies alike. They’re bright, they’re celestial, flowing through each other, stars orbiting one another in a dance of gravity and fate; beautiful, if doomed.

When their lips meet, they both gasp into the kiss; it’s as if they’ve found something they didn’t know they were searching for.

They’re learning to breathe anew, and the universe smiles at them.