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As far as Anakin’s concerned, Obi-Wan is the picture of a perfect Jedi.

Sometimes it appears as if he’s the Force personified; serene and composed, always in control, all gentle smiles and good ideas. The warm understanding that’s settled behind the sorrow in his eyes seems almost radiant enough to illuminate the Dark Side itself.

He acts with the easy confidence of a man who’s bigger than himself, embraces the Force and in turn lets it embrace him, guide his actions and his thoughts. The Force is his friend; it shimmers around him, a celestial crown weaved into his hair, a luminous cloak draped over his shoulders and cascading down his back.

He could carry the universe on his shoulders; he already seems to carry it in his heart.

He’s always calm, collected, and certain.

He is none of those things as another deafening explosion shakes the ground behind him, raining debris and death and even more droids. Through their bond Anakin feels the phantom pinpricks of pain as some stray splinters hit Obi-Wan’s arm and his Master clenches his teeth, glances over his shoulder as if he’s insulted by the explosion having the audacity to happen this close to him.

Obi-Wan’s exhaustion is wearing down on Anakin almost as much as his own. They always seem to seek out each other’s presence in the Force, but after several hours of battle even that brings no comfort. If anything, it’s holding them back, but they’re too caught up in the fight to waste precious energy trying to keep their minds separated.

They’re retreating, hiding behind whatever cover they can find. Neither of them is saying anything, too tired even for their usual banter. That the battle is lost is unquestionable. At this point, what remains to be seen is whether they’ll survive it.

And whether the transport they called for will come.

It’s just not a good day for fighting, it seems; Anakin narrowly avoids certain death for what feels like a hundredth time, a blaster bolt passing mere inches from his face, and somewhere to his left Obi-Wan curses under his breath as he Force-slams several battle droids into a building.

“Any time now!” There’s something angry sharpening Obi-Wan’s words as he yells into his communicator, irritably tapping it against the nearest wall as if that’s going to help with anything. He’s spinning his lightsaber, deflecting the blaster bolts back into the droids, but there’s too many of them.

And that one unfocused moment is enough.

Anakin’s moving before his mind even consciously registers a threat, his lightsaber extended as he throws himself before Obi-Wan, deflects a bolt that was headed straight for his heart as Obi-Wan was busy not paying attention for a split second that could’ve been his downfall—

Anakin turns to look at him, catches exhaustion and confusion softening into gratitude—

“You could’ve died,” he hisses, the fury rising in his chest drowning out everything else, and he sees the exact moment Obi-Wan’s expression shifts into terrified and his mouth opens to warn, but it’s already too late.

The pain that pierces Anakin’s side is red, searing hot, and the sheer force of the blow knocks out of him the breath that would’ve carried his anguished cry. It sends him stumbling to his knees, caving in on himself, his lightsaber forgotten as both of his hands frantically reach out towards the wound to—Heal it? Protect himself? He can’t do either of those things and he collapses onto his side on the ground, curls around himself in a meaninglessly defensive instinct.

The only clear emotion in his mind is fury—at Obi-Wan, at himself, it doesn’t matter any more; it’s so bright it’s blinding, but instead of shielding his eyes, he stares right into it.

He still remembers the stories the children on Tatooine used to tell, of beautiful angels from the very edges of the galaxy, and of powerful dragons living in the hearts of stars. No matter how much his life has changed and how far he is from his home planet, the memory of those legends clings to him and makes him wonder; for in his heart he carries monsters, emotions so wild, so intense, sometimes it almost seems like they have minds of their own.

Love is a kind-eyed angel, soft and beautiful, always promising him that he’s not alone.

Sorrow is a serpentine leviathan, feeding on his life energy until he almost doesn’t have the strength to go on.

But his fury, just like his fear, is a dragon; a proud, arrogant creature with burning eyes and a smile of sharp teeth that lingers somewhere in the back of his mind. It’s always waiting, always patient until it’s not, and when it roars its victories over him, its fiery wings cover his eyes until he sees nothing but red.

Anakin!” he hears, but doesn’t listen. The dragon snarls at Obi-Wan, pushes his voice away.

I’m going to save us.

Every move causes more cascades of screaming pain, but Anakin wills himself to roll onto his side, facing the ever approaching army of droids, and calls on the Force. His reach is as ragged and uneven as his breaths, and when he grasps at the Force, there’s an unfamiliar kind of darkness around the edges of his mind, but the fiery dragon of fury whispers promises of power beyond compare. He could—

No,” a sweet voice calls into his ear. “Let me help you.”

There’s a dreamlike touch of calm on his mind as Obi-Wan’s hands grasp his shoulders, and Anakin realises with undeniable certainty that Obi-Wan is surely a creature of Tatooine legend, too. He’s a dragon and an angel both, a celestial being the children on Tatooine could never have imagined. He’s warm but not burning, not like the dragon of fury, nothing like it, somehow stronger as he pulls Anakin back.

Anakin looks his anger in the eye once again, then turns his back on it.

Obi-Wan cradles Anakin’s head, and when Anakin reaches into the Force this time, Obi-Wan is right beside him. Holding on to each other they collapse a derelict building in the droids’ way, providing them with cover, if momentary.

“This is all your fault,” Anakin says through clenched teeth, trying for angry, but regrets the words as soon as they leave his mouth.

All of it?” Obi-Wan asks with a tired smile. “That’s a bit harsh, even for you.”

“I’m… sorry, that’s not what I—“

Obi-Wan gently touches his cheek, then rises to his feet. They both can sense that the droids are almost on top of the wall by now. Obi-Wan’s lightsaber crackles with energy as he swings it in his hand, waiting.

“Master?” Anakin hears his own voice but feels like it’s somebody else speaking, like it’s somebody else’s hand that reaches for his lightsaber and lifts it towards Obi-Wan. “Have you ever been trained in Jar’Kai?”

“This is hardly the best time for personal musings, Anakin,” Obi-Wan chides, but as he looks over his shoulder and sees Anakin’s gesture his eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Oh.

Obi-Wan carefully takes the weapon Anakin’s holding out to him, activates it and brings the sparkling blade close to his face, almost as if he’s never had the occasion to see it up close before. When he glances back at Anakin, the blue of the lightsaber reflecting in his eyes, he looks… different, fierce and proud, a dragon, a guardian angel, something else entirely.

As the first battle droid appears over the wall, Obi-Wan turns on his heel, dodges its shot, then Force-pulls it towards him and cuts it in half with the two lightsabers.

He becomes a blur of luminescent blue after that, moving quicker than Anakin has ever seen him, blaster shots missing him and bouncing off him like he’s entirely above them. His mere presence seems almost enough to overpower the sharp, burning pain in Anakin’s side. Anakin focuses on their bond like both their lives depend on it, and maybe they do, he thinks as it becomes more and more difficult to focus.

“Stay with me, Anakin,” he hears through the fog seeping into his mind, and he can’t take his eyes off Obi-Wan, off his own lightsaber fitting into his Master’s hand like it belongs there.

He lends what strength he has to Obi-Wan, but his Master doesn’t seem to need it, drawing energy from the Force, and there’s something strange flickering around him, powerful and wild. The droids keep coming, though, and for the briefest of moments Anakin’s mind is dark again. Even Obi-Wan, caught in a ceaseless battle to protect them both, cannot keep the droids at bay forever. Anakin pushes the thought away. They don’t need a forever. They only need another moment.

Obi-Wan’s communicator crackles, static, and then a voice calls out, “We’re approaching your position, Generals. Prepare for evacuation.”

“About time,” Anakin mutters to himself as he lets his head fall to the ground.

 


 

When he awakens, it’s quiet. He’s lying down somewhere, soft and comfortable.

His body feels heavy, tired, and on his “things he’d like to be doing right now” list, moving currently occupies the very last spot, right behind opening his eyes, which seems both too exhausting and entirely unnecessary. He feels safe, so he lets his mind wander, slowly regaining consciousness.

He remembers Obi-Wan fighting to save him, remembers the transport that came for them, but not much past that point; he must’ve fainted. He’s curious how much time has passed since then. A day perhaps?

The hushed sound of a familiar voice draws his attention, and he listens in curiously.

“Do you not have enough beings who need help?” the voice asks, clearly addressing somebody else. “If rest is what he needs, then let him stay someplace he’ll actually be able to rest, known and comfortable. The healers and medical droids can see him whenever they wish to do so, my doors shall remain open, but you did say he’s fine. He will be staying here, and I’ll hear no more of this.”

“Yes, Master Kenobi.”

There’s a soft click of the door closing, footsteps of someone walking closer to him, then turning away again.

Anakin forces his eyes open and immediately recognises the place he’s in as Obi-Wan’s quarters in the Jedi Temple, humble, but as warm and welcoming as the man who lives in them. Anakin seems to be settled comfortably on his Master’s bed, and when his eyes finally blink away the fog, Obi-Wan is the first thing that comes into focus.

He has his back to Anakin, standing in front of the window with his arms folded on his chest. Anakin reaches towards him in the Force and catches a glimpse of how Obi-Wan’s calm only goes skin deep, how he’s pacing his own mind, worried. As soon as he feels Anakin’s touch he turns towards him, relief and fondness flooding his mind and their bond.

“You’re awake.” He walks up to the bed in two graceful steps, kneels at Anakin’s side and offers him a smile. “It’s high time. You had me worried, Anakin.”

Anakin wants to touch him, his face, anything, to remind himself that whatever’s happened they’re both fine and real, but his body doesn’t seem to be at all interested in moving. Obi-Wan must sense his longing, somehow, because he takes Anakin’s hand in his own and brings it to his face, his lips softly brushing Anakin’s knuckles. Anakin looks at him, his mouth opening in surprise. Usually, Obi-Wan isn’t one for casual touches. This is new.

Obi-Wan just gives him another smile. The warmth in his eyes makes Anakin want to melt.

“Quite the unfortunate hit you got back there; it’s a good thing the transport arrived when it did. You’re safe now, though. Someone should be coming in later today to check on you, but they’ve told me that you’re pretty much fine, just in need of more rest.”

At that, Anakin just nods. He’s heard the conversation at the door—suspects it’s what woke him up in the first place—but he can’t quite grasp why Obi-Wan would want to keep Anakin in his own rooms. Not that he’s complaining.

Obi-Wan takes a deep breath, chuckles to himself, then lets go of Anakin’s hand and turns to sit on the floor with his back to the bed, resting his head on the mattress.

“I think they might be mad at me for insisting that you stay here. I simply thought you might enjoy the rest more when you’re not surrounded by beeping medical droids.”

“Thank you,” Anakin says, because he’s not sure what else to say, because his Master’s ginger-gold head is resting dangerously close to his hand. He could run his fingers through Obi-Wan’s hair, he thinks, blame it on his injury and exhaustion later.

Obi-Wan chooses that exact moment to stretch lazily, extending his arms in front of him and rolling his head until it lightly rests on top of Anakin’s fingers. He cranes his head back to look at Anakin, upside down, with his eyes flickering in the light. Anakin stops his own thoughts before they even appear in his head but can’t quite stop his hand from tentatively petting his Master’s head like he’d pet a cat, earning a sincere smile from him.

Anakin’s theory is that he’s still on the battlefield, unconscious, and hallucinating.

“I think I would’ve mind-tricked them if they hadn’t allowed you here,” Obi-Wan says, an offhand comment that nearly makes Anakin jump out of the bed.

Yeah. Definitely a hallucination.

“You wouldn’t have,” Anakin says almost immediately, offended disbelief in his tone, insulted by the very suggestion that his Master would use the Force for something so trivial, so unnecessary, so… Obi-Wan grins at him.

“Of course not, Anakin. But it’s always nice to see you outraged at the idea.”

“I wasn’t—outraged,” Anakin protests, and Obi-Wan’s eyebrows slide up.

“No? At the suggestion of such a blatant misuse of the Force? Anakin.” His tone is light, playful, and Anakin can’t help but smile at him. “My, my, I think I might just have to report that to the Council.”

“You are on the Council, doesn’t that already count as reported?”

“Huh. I suppose,” Obi-Wan says, getting back on his feet. “But, while we’re on the topic of the Council, there’s a meeting late in the evening today, and they’ve requested your presence. If you feel up for the challenge, do show up in person. If not, well, I think you can handle a holoprojector.”

His hand finds its way to Anakin’s again, squeezes it gently, then moves away. Anakin’s mind and heart are both racing. He doesn’t know what to make of those soft and innocent, yet somehow so very overwhelming touches; Obi-Wan never seemed to him a person who’d enjoy this kind of interaction.

He’s already at the door, throwing a cloak around his shoulders. He glances back at Anakin.

“For now, I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you here, I’ve a few matters to attend to. Get your rest. And do try not to break anything.”

~

When he wakes up again, the sky is fiery, colours of the sunset hypnotising and beautiful. His eyes still fall on Obi-Wan before everything else, sitting cross legged on a mat dragged into the corner of the room, meditating. Seems like his matters, whatever they were, didn’t take that much time after all. Anakin reaches out to him again.

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan says without opening his eyes, fondness giving his words a warm colour. “You’re awake again.”

Anakin forces himself to move, huffs, but manages to lean his back against the wall. He still feels pain in his side, but it’s nothing but a shadow. He’s pretty sure he’ll be back in action in no time.

Obi-Wan gets up, then stands at the foot of the bed, eyeing Anakin curiously.

“Honestly, Anakin,” he says, and there’s a humorous note in his voice, “how much can one Jedi sleep? This is getting out of hand.”

Anakin smirks at him. “Want me out, do you?”

Obi-Wan shakes his head and returns the smile. “I’m sure the Council misses your witty presence immeasurably.”

Anakin snorts. “I thought the Jedi weren’t supposed to lie through their teeth.”

Obi-Wan puts a hand over his heart in a mockery of offense. “Anakin, I would never.”

“Help me up, liar,” Anakin says, trying his hardest not to burst out laughing.

“That’s no way to call your Master.”

“Help me up, my Master, who also happens to be a liar.” That earns him an easy laugh from Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan circles the bed and moves closer to Anakin, extends an arm to him and pulls him upright. Anakin manages to stand, holding onto him and trying very much not to think about how close they are, how warm Obi-Wan is, how beautiful the colours of the sunset look weaved into his hair. Leaning his hand against a wall, Anakin lets go of his Master and takes a deep breath. So his feet do remember how to support him after all. Good.

“I take it this means you’ll grace the Council with your presence?”

“You did say they missed me.”

They make their way to the meeting slowly, with Anakin leaning on Obi-Wan whenever he needs, and whenever he feels like he might need it, just because. The opportunity is there. He’d be a fool to waste it.

After he assures the Council that he’s fine, he’s told they have a mission for him, because of course they do, and Anakin wonders what would it feel like to have free time, spend it however he wants—with his friends, just resting, or with his Master perhaps; he misses his time as a Padawan, sometimes. Now that he’s a Knight he doesn’t get to see Obi-Wan as often as he used to.

The Council tells him that since they’re travelling in the same direction, he’ll be taking Obi-Wan on board of the Resolute to drop him off on one of the Outer Rim planets. Anakin takes a deep breath and nods, very careful not to show any emotions.

The Council doesn’t like emotions.

But when Anakin catches Obi-Wan’s gaze for the shortest of moments, his Master smiles at him.

 


 

Restlessness is a terrible feeling.

It gnaws at your bones, chips away at you mercilessly. It’s anxiety and anticipation racing inside of your mind, and you don’t know what it is that you’re waiting for or why but it scares you.

Anakin’s mind is a battlefield as he wanders through the Resolute. They’ve just won an unexpected skirmish against the Separatist forces, and… won the skirmish. He scoffs at his own thoughts. How is that a win? He can’t throw the images of troopers being shot down out of his mind. Too many men died, and it’s all on him. If only he’d been quicker, cleverer, he could’ve sensed the trap, he could have saved them.

He’s become so used to war, he doesn’t quite remember what his life was like before it begun. Sometimes he almost thinks he doesn’t mind it all. But then he watches people die, again and again, helpless, and it leaves him numb, absent, his thoughts roaming and tying themselves into knots mirroring the ones in his muscles.

He sighs, hand absentmindedly rubbing the back of his neck. He needs to rest, to get away from all this. His quarters seem like a safe bet; he’ll just lie down, possibly on the floor, and hope that by some miracle he’ll manage to fall asleep. Maybe it’s not exactly responsible to be locking himself away, but right now it’s certainly a far better option than trying to face his troops. They shouldn’t see him like this; if he’s doubting himself, then how could he expect them to not do so?

He’s hoping that Obi-Wan will have mercy and go talk to them in his absence; they still haven’t dropped him off for his own mission, and he’s good at speeches. He could handle this.

Except he’s casually leaning against the wall in front of the door to Anakin’s quarters, and Anakin just wants to sigh, wishes for the nearest airlock to open and blow him into space. Even seeing his Master does nothing to lighten his mood.

“Ah, there you are.” Obi-Wan waves at him amiably as soon as he turns the corner.

His Master is terrifyingly perceptive, sometimes; Anakin doesn’t even have the time to consider making a tactical retreat and pretending he wasn’t there. Not that he would’ve done it. One, there’s no other place he could possibly disappear in; he’s not overly fond of stuffing himself into the air ducts. Two, seeing Obi-Wan always makes him want to come closer, the man’s presence like gravity pulling him in.

“I thought I’d congratulate you on not losing your head during the attack,” Obi-Wan says, and Anakin knows he means well, but instead of being reassuring, his words cut deep wounds into him. “It could’ve been much worse were it not for your leadership.”

“Well,” Anakin says quietly, entering the access code on a panel next to the door, “it could’ve been much better, too.”

Obi-Wan follows him into the small space of the room, his expression soft and confused.

“Anakin. It’s not your fault.”

“Yes, it is,” Anakin sighs. He’s not in the mood to argue this; he’s not angry, not fighting it. He simply knows it to be true, and it empties him of all positive thought. There’s only this—guilt, sorrow, and the awareness that if only he’d been better, people wouldn’t have died.

He sits down on his bed, gaze fixed at the wall. He kind of wants Obi-Wan to leave. But he really doesn’t want to be left alone, either.

Obi-Wan sits right next to him, their shoulders touching, closes the door to the room with a flick of his hand, then wraps an arm around Anakin and pulls him into a gentle but strong embrace. Anakin huffs and for a moment considers trying to break away from it just for the sake of being disobedient, but as Obi-Wan lightly runs a hand through his hair, all thoughts of moving evaporate from Anakin’s mind. He wants his Master to hold him until life starts making sense again.

“I know how you’re feeling, and there is nothing I can tell you that will make this better,” Obi-Wan whispers, and Anakin is surprised at how sincere his voice sounds, overflowing with emotions. Sorrow dribbles through his words, running much deeper than Anakin’s. “I can only offer you this: for every life lost today, you’ve saved hundreds, perhaps thousands. It’s never a fair bargain, but it’s the only one we get. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by guilt.”

His words are warm, somehow, finding their way into Anakin’s heart, making him remember how to feel again. Obi-Wan sends his reassurance through the Force, too, and sometimes Anakin thinks his Master is made of this gentle warmth, his presence unlike any other Jedi he knows.

“Thank you,” Anakin says after a while, pulling away from the hug.

Obi-Wan was right; he doesn’t feel… better, not exactly. The guilt and sorrow are still there. But his Master is there, too, and something about him makes Anakin want to keep on, try again, learn from his mistakes, be quicker and cleverer next time. Nobody will profit from him locking himself away.

When he looks at his Master, Obi-Wan hums approvingly, ruffles his hair one last time and gets up.

“I’ll see you at dinner, then,” he says with a soft smile, then leaves Anakin’s quarters.

Anakin catches himself smiling even after the door shuts behind him, and fondly shakes his head.

~

Dinner is about as busy as it can get on a Star Destroyer full of clone troopers. Anakin groans internally as soon as he enters the mess hall, trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible. He spots Obi-Wan surrounded by people a few tables back and immediately decides that he’s just going to sit alone, in the corner. He still doesn’t trust himself to look his men in the eye and smile.

He finds himself a side table somehow not occupied by anyone, and starts eating.

The Force immediately buzzes around him, and a breadstick slowly rises from his plate, levitating a few inches above it. Anakin looks around, unnerved, ready to defend himself against whoever might claim that he’s playing with his food. But nobody’s looking at him, and the Force signature of whoever’s doing this seems awfully familiar. Anakin meets his Master’s eyes across the hall. Obi-Wan grins at him and winks before turning away to say something to one of the clones net to him.

Anakin’s mouth falls open. Is he dreaming? Did Obi-Wan, poster child for the entre Jedi Order, just levitate a breadstick off his plate for no reason? Anakin shakes his head and glances at his food.

The breadstick is still in the air.

He looks back at Obi-Wan, appalled. Isn’t this against the Code? Against just about every single rule the Jedi have? Obi-Wan isn’t even looking at him but it’s definitely him holding the food up.

Outrageous.

Anakin hurriedly grabs the breadstick and takes a bite of it, at which point another piece of food slowly moves into the air, and Anakin nearly chokes. Across the hall, Obi-Wan raises his eyebrows at him in the most innocent expression Anakin has seen on anyone in weeks.

Well then. If his Master has decided that he can freely use the Force to do whatever mundane and unbecoming-of-a-Jedi thing he wants, then so can Anakin. He tries to wrap his phantom fingers around the food at Obi-Wan’s table, but his Master shuts him down with remarkable ease. He’s effortlessly holding everything in place while still keeping half the contents of Anakin’s plate in various states of levitation and holding Anakin’s gaze, challenging him.

Anakin is beginning to doubt his own senses.

He gives up after a moment; he’s tired and evidently can’t overpower his Master, at least not if he doesn’t want to draw any attention to himself. He grabs the breadstick, which is tentatively poking his cheek, and breaks it in half. This is hell. He’s in hell. His Master’s gone mad, and now Anakin is going to have to deal with him in this state.

When lumps of his pudding try to move, Anakin jumps to his feet and walks over to where Obi-Wan’s sitting, as quickly as he can without actually running. He dares not look behind himself for fear that he’s being chased by floating food. His Master gives him a mischievous smile as he moves over a bit. “Ah, Anakin. So very good of you to finally join us. Here, have a seat.”

Anakin stares at him in silence for a few seconds, then takes the seat with a defeated sigh, stuffs himself into the ridiculously small space between Obi-Wan and a wall. He ends up nearly sitting in his Master’s lap, which is either very unfortunate or the best thing that’s happened to him today, he really isn’t sure. Out the corner of his eye he sees Obi-Wan’s expression; his Master seems to be having the time of his life. Well, at least one of them is having fun. And, presumably, knows what’s happening.

Anakin nods at the clones greetings, even manages a smile and is surprised to realise that it isn’t forced. When he looks at his men, there’s no blame for the lives of their fallen brothers in their eyes, even though Anakin knows there should be. They get back into their conversation almost immediately, showing him that they don’t feel uncomfortable in his presence, and Anakin couldn’t ask for more. His heart feels… lighter than it did.

He tries to shuffle around, but there really is no room, and he ends up sitting sideways, with his back to the wall, his legs swung over his Master’s knee, and a blush creeping up his neck.

“Something wrong, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asks him in his calmest, most composed tone, and Anakin decides that he’s either going to punch or kiss the man, and it’s going to happen soon. Obi-Wan arches a brow at him, as if he knows what Anakin’s thinking. Which Anakin really hopes he doesn’t.

He leans close, speaks into his Master’s ear. “So, the food thing. Doesn’t that count as misuse of the Force?”

Obi-Wan winks at him and passes him a drink.

“Not when the Force is bored it doesn’t.”

 


 

He’s been captured.

After fighting a war for quite some time, every day bringing about new dangers and challenges, the idea and reality of getting captured are no longer as terrifying as they used to be. At least he’s not dead, Anakin thinks to himself; there’s more than a slim chance he’ll escape. That, or someone will rescue him.

It almost feels like an occasion to rest.

They didn’t even bother to throw him into a containment field; they just bound his wrists with strange handcuffs seemingly made of light, then fixed him to the floor and left him to his own devices.

He’s sitting cross-legged with his chained hands in his lap and his eyes closed. Motionless in the middle of the room, he’s waiting, not quite sure what for but waiting. There’s a lazy kind of curiosity floating through his mind; has somebody already noticed he’s missing? Are they planning to do anything about it? He wonders whether he’s going to manage to free himself before a rescue party gets sent.

He’s realises he doesn’t know why he’s being held captive, either. Do they want information? Ransom? Nobody’s tried talking to him yet. He’s being held, but that’s about it.

He opens his eyes and lightly tugs at the chain binding him to the floor, tests its strength. It’s doing a surprisingly good job of keeping him shackled; he wonders if it was designed with Jedi in mind. The way it gently flickers somewhat reminds him of a lightsaber, though it doesn’t seem to be dangerous in any way.

Anakin pulls it again, to no avail, then sighs.

Being captured is many things, but most of all damn boring.

He decides to try and reach out to Obi-Wan, just because, since that always seems like a good idea and he hasn’t seen his Master in weeks.

The pain that immediately hits him from the other side of the bond nearly makes him forget how to breathe. Frightened, he withdraws back into his own mind, eyes open wide, breaths shallow, heart racing. This wasn’t fighting, this wasn’t being wounded; this was his Master being tortured, in pain and terrified.

Anakin tries to calm his breathing and touches Obi-Wan’s mind again, not at all prepared for what’s coming but at least aware that it is.

It’s hard to make sense of what he’s seeing, of the blurry, erratic images and shreds of emotions that don’t belong to him clouding his vision. The only thing that clearly pierces through it all is anguish. Obi-Wan’s writhing in agony, his voice coarse yet stubborn as he tells someone to go to hell. There’s a lash of burning pain across his back and he bites his lip as another vicious wave of electricity rides through his body. Something meticulously cruel is trying to work its way into his mind, too, and—

There’s a scream as the next wave of pain hits him.

Anakin blocks their connection, stumbles away from it and realises that the scream was his own.

He can feel beads of cold sweat on his temples, just the shadow of his Master’s pain enough to make his own body feel wrong. His heart is pounding, his mind is racing, and he’s trying to keep himself from panicking but he can’t; Obi-Wan is in danger, Obi-Wan is suffering and he can’t help him, doesn’t even know where he is, doesn’t—

The door to his cell slides open and his eyes shoot up to look at the four soldiers who enter. Anakin looks at their faces and their bizarre uniforms but doesn’t know what to expect, can’t focus as his Master’s pain is still echoing through their bond even thought he’d shut it all off, couldn’t bear it, couldn’t—

Three of the men take up positions to his sides and behind him, pointing their blasters at him. The fourth one stays right in front of him and holds out a portable holoprojector. A blurry image blinks into view, showing—

Obi-Wan. Hanging limply in some kind of unfamiliar containment device, shaking, wounded and exhausted, breathing deeply.

“See? This here is a Jedi, just like you. He refuses to tell us anything, and—“

“Where is he?” Anakin hisses, only half aware that he’s frantically tugging at the chains binding him, all of his attention on the flickering image of his Master. “What have you done to him?”

The man scowls at him. “Suffice it to say we know how to deal with Jedi scum like you. This one is remarkably strong, I’ll give him that, but even with all of your magic tricks there’s only so much you can survive, and everyone can be broken. We shall see whether you prove more reasonable than—“

Anakin stops listening as the hum in his ears becomes almost deafening, as he thinks he can almost hear his Master’s voice whispering his name.

The man in front of him stops talking, grasps at his neck with a confused expression. Anakin can feel his pulse, the life running through him, and is it Anakin or the Force itself that raises him into the air, doesn’t allow him to breathe?

The other soldiers try to move towards him, but he is fury and fear incarnate, with ice cold eyes and a burning furnace for a heart, and a force of nature will not be bothered by mere mortals.

He feels lightning sparkling at his fingertips as he slams all four soldiers into the walls, almost effortless, doesn’t even bother to hold out a hand—he is the Force now, gestures are unnecessary. He hears bones break and feels sparks of life go out but doesn’t regret it; there’s a cold kind of panic in his mind, and he doesn’t have the time to doubt himself now.

The chains binding his wrists shatter in an explosion of sound and light and he’s already outside the cell as the door is ripped off its hinges and crashes against the opposite wall. There’s another soldier in the corridor and he’s forced a meter up the wall, desperately grasping at his neck and fighting for air, before Anakin even realises he’s doing anything.

This isn’t burning, isn’t anger. This is panic, cold and shaking, cruel whispers ghosting over his heart. What if it’s already too late? What if he’s already—

“Where is he?” Anakin roars, thunderous, and all the lights in the corridor flicker.

The guard shakes his head, and Anakin squeezes the man’s neck.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, another Jedi! Where are you holding him?”

The man holds out a shaky hand, points to his right, and Anakin lets him fall to the ground, already sprinting in the direction. His mind isn’t even trying to catch up with his emotions any more, there’s only one thought in his head: he needs to find Obi-Wan.

As he turns another corner someone tries to shoot him. Anakin doesn’t bother stopping; he dodges, moves between the shots, snatches the blaster from the soldier’s fingers and shoots him with it, keeps running.

Fool. You cannot harm the Force.

He opens himself up, searching for his Master, and the pain almost makes him double over as panic floods his mind. Obi-Wan isn’t just suffering; he’s almost at  death’s door, and Anakin has lost too much, too many people to allow this to happen.

The corridors and the soldiers become a blur, darkness on the edges of his vision as he loses all control over himself. There’s a voice at the back of his mind, one that doesn’t belong to him, and it whispers that he should kill them, kill them all for what they’ve done. They deserve to die, the voice sings, and Anakin agrees, and he could kill them—they’re so weak compared to him, a flick of his wrist would be enough, but there’s no time.

By the time he gets to the right room he’s more than slightly hysterical, can’t hear his own thoughts over his heartbeat and blood rushing. The door slides open before he even touches it.

Obi-Wan is suspended in the middle of the cell, unconscious, with his head slumped to the side. There’s a soldier standing over the control console just in front of him; Anakin throws him into a wall with all the force of his fear without even thinking.

He turns the containment field off and catches his Master as he falls out of it, delicately sets him on in his own lap, limp but alive, surely, Anakin would know—

In a desperate instinct he brushes past Obi-Wan’s mind, tries to wake him up, almost sobs with relief when his Master groans in pain and hazily blinks his eyes open. They’re bloodshot, worn out; how long has he been kept here?

“Anakin?” he says, brow furrowing as if he doesn’t quite believe what he’s seeing, and Anakin tries to hug him, as gently as he can; he can feel Obi-Wan’s pain and exhaustion, dares not look at the wounds on his back, but grabs his arms, if only to hide how much his own hands are shaking.

“I thought—I thought I wouldn’t be quick enough, I thought,” and he’s sobbing into Obi-Wan’s shoulder, as if he’s the one who’s been hurt. He can sense how much effort it takes for Obi-Wan to move but his Master still raises a hand to gently place it atop Anakin’s head. “I would’ve killed them, Master,” Anakin whispers, tastes blood and darkness on his tongue, and he knows Obi-Wan won’t approve of this but he doesn’t care. “I would’ve killed them all, I could’ve, for you, anything to save you—“

“Anakin,” Obi-Wan says, and his voice is weak but he’s still himself, bright and alive, and when he looks at Anakin there’s a strength of resolve in his eyes that makes Anakin shudder. ”You don’t have to. I’m all right. Let go.”

Anakin clenches his fists, but it’s enough; at his Master’s whispered command his world stops spinning and his senses are his own again.

Obi-Wan slumps against him, sighs heavily as if even breathing is causing him pain.

“Promise me you won’t lose yourself for me, Anakin,” he demands softly. “Not like this.”

Not like…? Anakin opens his mouth to ask, confused, but his Master loses consciousness almost instantly.

Which is, all things considered, rather fortunate, Anakin thinks to himself much later, when they’re safe aboard the Negotiator and headed for a medical station.

He’s not sure he would have been able to make that promise.

 


 

The Jedi aren’t supposed to have nightmares.

That’s what Anakin tells himself when twisted visions wake him at night, repeats it over and over again until the words lose meaning and his mind is empty.

He doesn’t… want to seek out Obi-Wan but it seems like what he wants and what he actually ends up doing are completely different things more often than not. He sneaks through the long corridors of the Jedi Temple, his steps inaudible but his mind so loud that if anyone cared to listen, he’d surely be heard.

He finds himself standing in front of the door to his Master’s quarters, questioning, unsure. He raises a hand to knock, but stops just before his knuckles touch the door, shakes his head and turns away.

He’s not a Padawan any more, he probably shouldn’t need help with this. He should deal with his problems himself, meditate, calm his mind, seek counsel with Master Yoda in the morning if nothing else works. Except the prospect of telling Yoda anything makes him roll his eyes, and he already knows he’s not going to do it. Which, when he thinks about it, is probably against the Jedi Code, too.

The Code. He’s so tired of the Code, of the seemingly endless litany of rules and restrictions, of all the expectations that are placed on him. He’d considered leaving the Order so many times he’d lost count, talked about it with Obi-Wan. How he doesn’t quite feel like he’s meant for the life of a Jedi, how he can’t seem to stay true to what the Jedi are supposed to be; Obi-Wan always listens very carefully, nods, his expression unreadable. Sometimes, Anakin almost thinks there’s a note of understanding in his Master’s eyes.

But the nightmares aren’t about that, not usually at least. They’re about war, fear and fury and regret, and he doesn’t know what to make of them. Maybe it’s nothing, he tells himself. Maybe even the Jedi are allowed a moment of weakness, sometimes, a bad dream that for once has no hidden meaning.

“Anakin?”

As Anakin looks around in confusion, he realises that instead of walking back to his room, he’s somehow ended up sitting down on the floor right next to the door to his Master’s room.

“What are you doing here?” Obi-Wan asks him in the same soft, sleepy tone, rubs his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Sitting,” Anakin says, because it’s the middle of the night and apparently his reserve of clever retorts has depleted completely.

“I can see that,” Obi-Wan mutters, staring down at him. He looks like he’s just woken up, which, Anakin decides upon careful consideration, is probably exactly what happened. He looks tired, too; it’s been quite some time, but Anakin wonders whether the damage from being tortured has healed. “The question is, why.”

Anakin bites his tongue as a why not tries to force its way out of his mouth, and instead just gives his Master a sheepish smile as he climbs to his feet. “I just, uh, wanted to go for a walk. I think I’ll be going now.”

“Anakin.”

Well, it’s not like he expected that excuse to work. Obi-Wan looks him over, lightly tilting his head to the side.

“Come inside,” he offers quietly, disappearing back into the darkness of his quarters.

It’s not an order, but an invitation, and Anakin finds himself drawn into the room. The door closes behind him, shutting out all the light from the corridor. There’s nothing but warmth and complete darkness around him and his heart races, his tired mind conjuring up images that make him bite the inside of his cheek in embarrassment.

Obi-Wan activates a lamp, one that casts tiny flickers of light onto the walls and the ceiling. The room becomes a small galaxy, and his Master smiles at him.

“Your thoughts woke me up, Anakin,” Obi-Wan says, watching him carefully. “I know you’re troubled, I’m not sure why, but you are. It’s all right, you don’t have to tell me. But I thought, since I’m already awake anyway, a session of meditation surely couldn’t hurt.”

Anakin can’t help but roll his eyes at that. Sure. Meditation. His mortal enemy.

“It’s fine if you don’t want to. But you might be surprised by how good clearing your head might feel.”

And the thing is, Anakin really, really doesn’t want to meditate. But there’s the smallest hint of—something in Obi-Wan’s voice, like he’s telling Anakin a secret, a glint in his eyes that’s gone as soon as it appears. Maybe it’s just him being tired, maybe it’s just the light reflecting in his eyes. But as Anakin looks at Obi-Wan’s welcoming expression, takes in his messy hair and ruffled clothes, something tells him that he should stay.

“Alright, fine, meditation it is,” he says with a sigh, and the smile that flickers across his Master’s face tells him he’s made the right decision.

“Come on then, sit down.” Obi-Wan drops onto the mat in the middle of the room in one graceful motion, pats the space in front of himself in a welcoming gesture. “I know we usually meditate alone but, well, I think you could use something else now. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose.”

Anakin doesn’t move, his lips drawn into a thin line. He eyes Obi-Wan suspiciously, remembering the few sessions of shared meditation he’d been a part of when he was younger, how they somehow made him even more lonely and lost than he was.

“Do you not trust me, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asks, apparently sensing his apprehension. His voice is as calm and composed as ever but something flicks through his eyes again and Anakin can’t help but be curious.

He sits down opposite his Master, their knees almost touching, takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. He hates meditation. This is pointless.

He expects Obi-Wan’s mind to gently brush against his, as it always does. His Master keeps his distance even in the Force. But when Anakin tentatively touches their bond, Obi-Wan’s presence reaches out to him and folds itself around him, overwhelming and different; he’s never seen Obi-Wan like this before.

“Uh, Master?” Anakin says slowly.

The presence hums around him, surrounding him completely and filling him with a strange warmth. Suddenly, he feels very small. Suddenly, he feels like he’d spent his entire life greatly underestimating his Master, too. The embrace grows warmer and he yields almost immediately, opens his mind, allowing himself to be guided. He can feel Obi-Wan’s approving smile as their breaths slowly even out.

Obi-Wan starts gently pulling at his mind, untangling his thoughts and letting them out into the Force, and Anakin watches him calmly, feeling more relaxed than he has in days. The nightmares, the uncertainty, any question or doubt he has about the Jedi and his own allegiance to the Order, none of it matters as he listens to the living Force and follows his Master’s lead.

Even as his mind becomes calmer, he realises he doesn’t want to break the connection, and Obi-Wan doesn’t seem too eager to do anything, either. Warmth seeps into Anakin’s bones and his whole body feels very heavy, sways under the touch of Obi-Wan’s mind. It’s a strangely pleasant feeling, to surrender himself completely, to give in and feel. He forces his heavy-lidded eyes open to look at his Master, and there is definitely something in Obi-Wan’s eyes now, molten gold, smouldering embers, a mischievous spark of curiosity as he watches Anakin’s face.

“What is it, Anakin?” he asks with the smallest hint of a smile. The way his voice echoes through their connection is hypnotising. “I told you we’d clear your head, did I not?”

“Mhm,” Anakin says, clearly very much on top of things and in total control of his mouth.

Obi-Wan raises to his feet. Anakin tries to move, too, but Obi-Wan shakes his head.

“Stay focused, Anakin. We’re not quite done yet.”

He moves to stand behind Anakin’s back, then kneels there, places his hands on Anakin’s shoulders and squeezes them gently. Anakin’s eyes flutter as he exhales slowly.

“As for relieving your body, well, normally I’d tell you to do a few rounds of lightsaber training,” Obi-Wan says conversationally, “but it is the middle of the night and frankly, I can’t be bothered. So we’re going to try the ancient Jedi technique of… massage.”

Anakin snorts, but the sound turns into a sigh as Obi-Wan’s hands start working, rubbing the muscle knots in his neck and shoulders. He slides Anakin’s robe off one of his shoulders, hands kneading bare skin, and Anakin decides this would probably be a good time to just get rid of his clothes, but Obi-Wan catches his hands, stopping him.

“Patience,” he murmurs into Anakin’s ear, and Anakin shivers.

All of his higher brain functions seem to be shutting down under his Master’s touch, but somehow he manages to string together a coherent question. “How is any of this an ancient Jedi technique?”

Obi-Wan leans forward, presses his chest along the length of Anakin’s back and cranes his head to look at Anakin’s face, something barely contained shining in his eyes. “Are you suggesting you know ancient Jedi techniques better than your old Master?”

Anakin grins at him, his mind still slightly hazy but content. He can feel Obi-Wan’s beard on his shoulder, and their faces are—close, very close, he thinks idly, senses Obi-Wan thinking about it too. They both realise they’re slipping and for the briefest of moments they freeze, staring at each other, unsure.

But the room is very warm, and Obi-Wan’s hands are very gentle, and the both of them are very, very tired.

Obi-Wan’s hands drop to Anakin’s hips and grip them firmly, fingers digging into skin, and a whimper escapes Anakin’s lips. He feels his cheeks burning; Obi-Wan just chuckles behind him.

“Relax,” he whispers, drawling out the word, his lips brushing Anakin’s ear as his hands start moving, pressing down on his chest, sneaking under his robes and earning more drawn out sighs from his mouth. Anakin melts into his touch, his head lolling back onto Obi-Wan’s shoulder, and closes his eyes. Obi-Wan, his Obi-Wan, the most collected and composed of all Jedi, moans, a low rumble that sends shivers down his spine, and kisses his exposed shoulder, beard scratching skin.

Obi-Wan embraces his chest and grasps his neck, tipping Anakin’s head further back onto his shoulder; his other hand finds its way into Anakin’s pants and Anakin moans, tries to move but Obi-Wan is holding him in place, in the Force and in the flesh, gently nipping at his neck and shoulder. Anakin wants to get lost in him, in his touches and his breaths and his warmth. He leaves himself open and Obi-Wan’s presence is wrapping itself around him again, and—

Obi-Wan was right, Anakin thinks, barely able to string his thoughts together, his mind groggy and warm and so, so into it. If this is what passes for meditation now, then hell, meditation might just become his favourite pastime.

Obi-Wan laughs into his ear again, a quiet but deep sound rolling through his body, vibrating in the air even after it stops. Obi-Wan’s fingers are still on his neck as he turns Anakin’s head to kiss him, and Anakin never expected his Master would kiss like that, hot and fierce and so full of emotions, like he’s trying to conquer him, mark Anakin as his.

Fuck,” Anakin hisses. The air between them is crackling, dark, and Anakin recognises it; it’s the hum of power he’s always been told to stay away from, darkness grasping at him just like he’s grasping at his Master.

As he looks into Obi-Wan’s mind, it’s… different, but not dark, not evil. It’s passionate and wild in a way he didn’t think his Master was capable of, so very confident even though this surely goes against the damn Code, but this is still his Master, still familiar, still brilliant and warm. Perhaps not every passion leads to the Dark Side, Anakin wonders.

And if it does? Well, he thinks, finally turning around and meeting his Master’s mouth with his own, moving against his body, with one hand balled into a fist in Obi-Wan’s hair and the other sliding under his robes and along the curve of his spine, and with Obi-Wan’s hands busy trying to free him from his clothes, at least they’ll be falling together.

Obi-Wan pushes Anakin onto his back and climbs over him, pinning his arms in place. Anakin whines as Obi-Wan presses one knee between his legs and hovers over him. There’s the something in his eyes again, a rebellious, proud glimmer, and Anakin remembers now, he’s seen it before, so many times, just never recognised it for what it was.

Obi-Wan keeps looking at him, heavy and inviting and almost predatory, dangerous but in control, finally true, finally allowing Anakin to see all of him. His eyes are the purest shade of blue, but there’s a thin ring of gold around his irises, too; like the eyes of the Sith, yet nothing like them, a flickering, oh so beautiful balance of darkness and light.

He really is the Force itself, Anakin realises as it all falls into place, and he remembers another Tatooine legend; of starbirds, phoenixes that would rise from their own ashes, renewing themselves in the hearts of novas, beings of impossible beauty and power. As he looks at his Master he thinks, he knows, that this is what he is. He’s calm and collected, but wild and fierce, too, his blue-gold eyes flickering as they stare at Anakin with so much emotion it’s almost enough to stop his heart.

Whatever he is, he’s Anakin’s Master, and the sides of the Force don’t matter.

Obi-Wan gives him a sly, knowing smile, then drags him into another kiss.