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It's quite late when they get back to their apartment in the Temple. Anakin's been fidgety since they left the hangar and Obi-Wan bites back a smile when he forgoes taking off his cloak and instead starts pacing the length of their living area. The long dark fabric of his outer robe flares out every time he makes a sharp turn. On one pass, they nearly sweep some of the droid parts off of the low table in front of their couch and Obi-Wan muffles a snort. Anakin always has been dramatic about situations.

Obi-Wan calmly shrugs off his own cloak and hangs it up and makes his way over to sit. He can't help feeling mildly amused about the whole thing and briefly contemplates putting his former Padawan out of his misery and just revealing that he already knows about Senator Amidala. But he decides against it; Anakin, after all, has been keeping this a secret from him for Force only knows how long. He should experience the consequences of that for at least a little bit of time.

Anakin suddenly comes to a stop in front of Obi-Wan, crossing his arms tightly and looking nervous. "You had a good day today, didn't you?" he asks earnestly, eyes wide and so, so blue.

Obi-Wan smiles up at him. "Yes, I did. Thank you."

Anakin beams and then drops his gaze and takes a deep breath. His fingers tap restlessly against his forearm and he bites down on his lip. Anxiety spills out into their bond.

"Anakin, whatever it is you have to tell me, I promise you it won't change anything between us," Obi-Wan reassures the other man. There's really only so much self-inflicted angst he can stand to watch.

Anakin nods slightly and, staring at the prominence in Obi-Wan's throat instead of making eye contact, says slowly, "Padmé and I...we've been in a relationship. For some time." His eyes flick up at Obi-Wan and then away again.

"I know," Obi-Wan says simply. He chuckles a bit when Anakin's eyes fly back to stare at him in shock. His jaw opens and closes but no sound comes out. "I've suspected for awhile, Anakin. You are not a subtle person."

"How long..." Anakin croaks out and then pauses. Licks his lips. "How long have you known?"

"Since...oh, I'd say since that battle on Geonosis when we were all in the arena together."

At that, Anakin starts spluttering. "But that's—"

"—when it started?" Obi-Wan finishes wryly. There's nothing like a life or death situation to bring out hidden love confessions; he's had one or two of those himself.

"That was so long ago!" Anakin groans, dropping his head into his cupped hands. "And the Council?" he asks quietly, voice muffled.

"I haven't told them." A wave of relief washes through their bond. "It's not unusual for Jedi to conduct personal affairs with others, you know, even outside of the Order. You seemed happy and it wasn't overly affecting your performance on missions, so I didn't think it was necessary to report it. I'll admit I'm a bit surprised that you've kept it going for so long and that neither one of you has tired of the secrecy yet."

Anakin drops his hands and looks at him indignantly. "Of course it's still going on! We're married ! We're not—"

"You're what ?!" Obi-Wan breaks in. He pales and feels a bit faint. "Anakin, you got married ?!"

Anakin straightens and stares at him defiantly. "Yes, I did. I love her. And she loves me! She's the only one who's always supported me for who I was and never tried to change me."

Obi-Wan can't help flinching at that. "Anakin, how could you have gotten married?! What about the Order?" He feels like he's been punched in the gut. Anakin doesn't think I support him? He thinks I've been trying to change him? Is this why he never told me about her?

"What about them?" Anakin's voice is hard.

"You made a commitment to them! You vowed to live by the Code! How could you break that?" Obi-Wan feels unmoored. "When did this even happen?!"

Anakin raises his chin. "After Geonosis, when I escorted her back to Naboo. The Code is wrong! How could it forbid love? Love is a positive emotion! It's not bad! You've said that you felt it yourself before! And just yesterday, you told me that you love me!"

"I have and I do and you're right, in and of itself, it's not a bad emotion. But Anakin, letting emotions dictate your actions, that's dangerous! That's what leads to the Dark Side. And because of this love , you've been lying to me and to the Council for years! Years , Anakin! What else have you been lying about? How could I trust anything you've said or done or will say or do in the future?" Force, right after Geonosis! The two of them had barely known each other! How did he miss this? He should have been more wary, should have seen this, should have gotten a warning from the Force. Anakin had been obsessed with the Senator since he had met her and it was just like him to jump into a rash decision in an effort to hold onto something.

"Oh, you're one to talk about breaking trust and lying! What about that time you made me think you had died ? You used my emotions to sell the story! You made me watch your funeral! Do you know what that did to me?!" Anakin yells, eyes flashing. Anger floods into their bond.

Obi-Wan jumps up and points a finger at the other man. His remorse over that has been eating at him since it happened but he refuses to let Anakin use that as an excuse for his own behavior. "That was different! I did what I did for the mission! What you have been doing is selfish ! Anakin, you never think—"

"Selfish! For trying to have one good thing in my life? I don't have anything else! I left my whole life—I left my mother —for the Jedi. And all they've done is treat me with suspicion and like I'm an outsider! Even though I've done everything they've asked of me! I went through the training, I got Knighted, I took on a Padawan, I completed more missions successfully than most of the other Knights and Masters combined, but it's never enough! Qui-Gon died before he could teach me and you—half the time, you weren't even around when I was younger. You left me at the Temple taking remedial classes"—his lips twist into a sneer—"while you went on whatever solo missions you could get your hands on. And then when you were at the Temple, you spent most of your time in closed door meetings with Master Yoda and Master Windu so I still didn't see you!"

Obi-Wan fights to hold onto some semblance of calm through the anger threatening to overwhelm him. He doesn't know if it's just Anakin's emotions affecting him or if it's his own or if, Force forbid, both of their feelings are feeding off of each other and being magnified. "Anakin, I didn't choose to leave you at the Temple because I didn't want you with me! I was on reconnaissance missions hunting down leads on the remaining Sith. Those weren't appropriate for a nine-year-old boy and they couldn't be put off so the only choice was for you to stay at the Temple. Where it was safe! And yes, so that you could get caught up on classes. All Jedi younglings have to take those classes. They're essential for understanding the Force and the ways of the Jedi, though I can see now that very little actually sunk in. And it's not like I wanted to have those meetings with Master Yoda and Master Windu! I was mandated to meet with them regularly after Naboo."

"Why? Because they were worried about me?! They never trusted me! They never wanted me to be a Jedi! Were they checking up on me? Were they trying to convince you to send me home?!"

"Not everything is about you, Anakin! It was me that they were worried about! Me that was under scrutiny! Because I let my emotions control me in my fight with Maul and they were worried that I was going to Fall to the Dark Side!" Obi-Wan stops, heaving for breath. He hasn't revealed that to anyone besides Master Yoda and Mace. And he hadn't ever planned to tell his former Padawan; it had been hard enough trying to get Anakin to listen to him and respect him as a Master without letting him know just how close he had come to no longer being a Jedi himself.

"You - what?" Anakin whispers in shock. He stills and so do most of the turbulent emotions in their bond. He looks ashen. "No, that's not—you're the Lightest person I know."

"I'm really not." Obi-Wan rubs his hands over his face, feeling tired. "I had so much rage and grief after Qui-Gon's death. I barely managed to re-center myself during that fight. I really shouldn't have been the one to teach you. I had a hard enough time with my own emotions, I was in no place to try to teach you how to control yours. But I was always too headstrong and I was determined to fulfill the promise I made to my Master." His lips twitch wryly. "I had a strong attachment to him, you see."

Anakin shakes his head, looking a little lost. "You were a great teacher. I just—at the beginning, I didn't even know if you wanted me around and I missed my mom so much but no one here cared. No one understood, not really. Not even you. Probably not even Master Qui-Gon got it. He thought I could just leave her as a slave and be okay. Padme's the only one. She knew how important my mom was to me and she understood. She didn't dismiss my dreams of her. Even though we were too late, at least I was able to see her one last time before she died. Padme's even the one who made it possible for me to get to Geonosis to try to save you." He straightens suddenly and his eyes shine with intensity. "The Council would never have gotten there in time and they didn't even care! You had been captured and Dooku had a whole army there with him and who knows what he was going to do to you! But they wouldn't let me go rescue you, even though I was much closer than they were. They value their precious Code and their protocols more than a Jedi's life! So yeah, fine, maybe I'm being selfish. Maybe I think a little bit of personal happiness is a good thing. Maybe I think that living beings are more important than ideals. All you and the other Jedi think about is the mission! You don't even consider what would happen to the rest of us—to me—if something were to happen to you! How's that for selfishness! You act recklessly or you come up with these crazy plans and you get into these dangerous situations and it's like you don't care whether you live or die. Do you know how much that terrifies me?"

"Reckless actions? Crazy plans? Are you listening to yourself?" Obi-Wan demands, incredulous. The miasma of emotions in their bond start swirling, picking up speed as they collide violently. Ripples echo out into the Force.

Anakin slashes a hand in the air sharply. "Yes, I know. I'm the king of reckless stunts and crazy plans. But you know what, at the end of the day, I have something to live for! I have something to come back for! I'm not the one pretending to die or telling my wingmate to leave me to the tender mercy of buzzdroids!"

"Because I'm not vital to the success of the mission!"

"Yes, you kriffing are!"

"The mission has to be completed. Lives depend on it! Your attachment to a select few is going to get a lot of others killed ! I'm just a small piece of the big picture. Any Jedi could take my place—"

"No, they can't! You're NOT replaceable! Stop saying that! Your dedication to the mission is going to get you KILLED !" Anakin bellows. Their bond blows wide open and emotions buffet Obi-Wan on all sides: fear, anger, desperation, hurt...and love. The last is a bright shining thread winding through all of the darker feelings, tangling around some and piercing right through others. Obi-Wan staggers back a step from the force of it all and braces himself against the sudden torrent. Anakin's eyes widen and Obi-Wan can feel him trying to pull his emotions back. No, Obi-Wan thinks at him desperately. He doesn't know if the thought makes it through the bond but Anakin has to release them, not hold onto them. They're almost toxic with how strongly negative they are and he fears what would happen if Anakin lets them keep building up in him.

Anakin doesn't respond and doesn't change what he's trying to do so Obi-Wan clasps a hand to his shoulder to strengthen their connection and then reaches through the bond himself. He winces as the storm of emotions tears at him but pushes through. Anakin! He latches onto the other man's mental presence.

Obi-Wan? Anakin feels startled.

You have to let them go!

I can't - I don't know how. He sounds pained. It's too much!

Together, then.

They anchor themselves to each other and open a conduit between their bond and the Force. The collection of emotions wash through them and out. It takes seconds, maybe, but it feels like an eternity of struggling to stay afloat and not drown in it or get pulled along. Most of the emotions are Anakin's but some of his own anger and irritation and remorse are mixed in as well. He's always known that Anakin has strong emotions - every Force-sensitive being could tell that immediately; he has so much of it that it spills out even when he's shielding. But he's never seen them as strong as this onslaught. He wonders how long Anakin's been holding it all in.

When the flow of emotions dies down, finally spent, Anakin's knees buckle and he falls forward. Obi-Wan hurriedly reaches out and catches his other arm to steady him. Anakin leans into him, resting his forehead on Obi-Wan's shoulder and panting. He's shaking hard and some of his pants sound like sobs. Tears drip onto and soak into the fabric of his robes. He carefully releases Anakin's shoulder so that he can run his fingers through the curls at the nape of his neck and shifts his other arm to clasp it around Anakin's back, rubbing soothingly. Mentally, he closes the conduit and starts to disentangle both of them.

No, don't. Please. Not yet. Anakin thinks. His presence feels exhausted and raw and Obi-Wan feels ragged himself so he concedes and leaves them both connected for the moment. He wraps them in a layer of affection and feels Anakin's gratitude for it. Physically, Anakin reaches up and fists his hand in Obi-Wan's robes. "Why couldn't you just tell me?" he whispers, voice tremulous.

Obi-Wan doesn't have to ask what he's referring to. He closes his eyes, regretting his actions anew. As closely joined as they are, he knows that Anakin can sense it and he hopes that it won't trigger another emotional storm but this isn't a topic they can put off talking about any more. "Anakin," he starts, feeling helpless. "I can't...there isn't anything I can say to make that decision feel any better to you. I had thought, at the time, that to make my death believable, your reaction had to be real. And I had thought that for the sake of protecting the Chancellor, and therefore the Republic, my death needed to be believable. Had you known, you wouldn't have been able to fake the same level of grief and anger and Dooku would have seen through it right away."

"He saw through it anyway, didn't he?"

Obi-Wan's lips twist bitterly. "Yes, he did." All of that for nothing; he'd exploited Anakin's emotions and abused his trust and it didn't even help. It had been, by far, the worst decision he'd ever made. But what was done was done. He could only try to salvage what he could with Anakin. "But even if it had worked, it was wrong of me to do so."

"I know you would do anything for the Republic and for the greater good. It's one of the things I love about you. And it's one of the things that frustrates me about you. But I never thought you would choose them over me. It hurt to realize that you would. I wouldn't, I couldn't ever choose anything else over you."

"No, Anakin," Obi-Wan says firmly. "I would never choose anything over you. I couldn't live with myself if you were injured or killed because of my actions. But I had thought that I had enough control over my attachment to you that I could let it go as I have so often advised you to do for the sake of the mission. When you were fighting Bane on the ship and we crashed, though, I was terrified that you had gotten hurt. All I could think about was finding you and making sure you were okay. I had forgotten all about the mission. Had Moralo Eval been conscious, my cover would have been blown right then and there."

"It was still a shitty thing to do."

"Yes, it was. And I am sorry, Anakin. There isn't anything I can do to make up for that."

Anakin takes a shuddering breath and the two of them fall silent for a couple of moments. "Was it really just your decision?" he finally asks.

Obi-Wan grimaces. "Yes, it was. The Council—they wanted to tell you. They thought it was too dangerous for you not to know. They were worried that your grief and anger would lead you to the Dark Side. But I knew you would be okay." He tamps down on the fear he's had of Anakin Falling ever since Mortis. He knows that all Jedi have the potential to Fall; given the right motivation and temptation, the Dark Side is hard to resist. He doesn't know what had lured Anakin to the Dark Side that time but he thinks it had to be something big. Something more than just the loss of his former Master. "There's too much Light in you for you to Fall," he iterates. It may not be rational but part of him hopes that just by reinforcing that over and over again, he might be able to keep Anakin from ever Falling.

Anakin shakes his head. "I came close. Really close. I wanted to kill Hardeen. I couldn't think about anything except how he had taken you from me. It was only because I knew you wouldn't want me to kill him that I was able to hold back."

Obi-Wan remembers hearing Anakin say that when he was arrested as Hardeen. At the time, he hadn't thought much of it. He knew Anakin would do the right thing. But now, he wonders if maybe Anakin wasn't doing the right thing so much as he was just doing what he thought Obi-Wan wanted, which happened to be the right thing. It's a discomfiting thought. He sets it aside to meditate on later.

"The important thing is that you were able to adhere to my teachings and stay on the side of the Light, Anakin. I was and am very proud of you for that." He pauses and then forges on. "You know, Master Yoda didn't think that you would be convinced of my death at all."


"He said that you had seen me survive worse and would know that something as simple as a blaster shot and a fall wouldn't have killed me and that you'd know something was off."

Anakin shrugs. "I—Maybe I should have but I couldn't even think straight. It was one of my worst nightmares, seeing you go down and not being able to save you. It felt like my whole world had ended. Even thinking about it now—" he stops, breath becoming shallow and quick.

Obi-Wan makes soothing murmurs and tugs lightly on the strands of hair between his fingers. Clearly, Anakin isn't able to talk more about this now. It occurs to him that if the situation was reversed, he likely wouldn't be able to handle it either.

The two of them stand there for awhile, just holding each other. Gradually, Anakin's breathing slows again. Obi-Wan feels a bit like he's just fought in a battle for his life; he can't imagine how Anakin's holding up. There's a sudden pounding on their door and a muffled voice calling out, "Obi-Wan? Is everything all right in there?"

He recognizes Bant Eerin's voice and winces. The Mon Calamari has quarters across the hall from them and must have felt the agitation in the Force. "We're fine, Bant!" he calls out, and is happy to hear that his voice sounds mostly normal.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, quite. We've got things well in hand here."

"Alright..." Bant says. There's a note of doubt in her voice and Obi-Wan resigns himself to having a talk with her later. It's been awhile since they've been able to catch up face to face but he hopes that she'll take him at his word and won't speak with Master Yoda about whatever she had felt coming from their rooms. He hears the distant whoosh of her door sliding shut and lets out a sigh.

"Let's sit," he murmurs. Anakin grunts an agreement but refuses to let go so it's a little awkward maneuvering them both onto the couch. Anakin keeps one hand clenched in the folds of Obi-Wan's robes, clasps the other on his waist, and curls up into him, practically sitting in his lap. Obi-Wan himself still has one hand cupping the back of Anakin's head and he goes to move the other to Anakin's knee but stops when he takes in Anakin's twisted form. "This can't possibly be comfortable for you."

" 'm fine," Anakin mumbles, turning to bury his nose in the crook of Obi-Wan's neck.

Obi-Wan sighs again. "No, here, let's just—" he shifts Anakin over, brings his own legs up on the couch and stretches out on his back. Anakin settles half in the space between the back of the couch and Obi-Wan's body and half on top of Obi-Wan. He rests his left hand over Obi-Wan's heart and tucks his head under Obi-Wan's chin. Obi-Wan stares up contemplatively at the ceiling while Anakin finishes adjusting himself and Obi-Wan to his satisfaction. When he stops fidgeting, Obi-Wan says, "So. We are quite the team, aren't we? Secrets, lies, close encounters with the Dark Side...." He tries to inject a bit of humor into his voice to take the sting out of it.

"...I'm sorry," Anakin whispers. "I should have told you about Padmé earlier. But I'm not sorry for marrying her."

Obi-Wan sighs. "I didn't think you would be. But Anakin, that's quite a severe violation of the Code. There's a good reason for that tenet. You can't honor two commitments like that and do them both justice. Jedi dedicate their lives to the Order and to serving the Republic. That doesn't leave room for much else. And marriage - that's not something to be taken lightly, Anakin."

"I know that."

"Do you? How often have you been able to even see Senator Amidala since you've been married? It can't have been very often because we've been on missions almost constantly since the war started."

"We see each other enough."

"And have you talked about the future? What do you want to do? You can't expect to stay a Jedi and maintain a secret marriage forever."

"I—why not? I don't want to leave the Jedi."

"Well, it isn't fair to her, for one. And it won't be fair to the Order if you disregard your duty to them when there are Jedi relying on you. You're going to destroy yourself trying to hold onto both."

"It's been working fine so far," Anakin says a little petulantly.

"Has it?"

"Yes," he says firmly. "I won't leave, Obi-Wan. The Council will have to kick me out if they want me to go."

Obi-Wan sighs heavily. "But why not? Clearly, you don't agree with the Code and you've built a life, or at least the beginnings of one, outside of the Order. Why have you stayed? There have been Jedi who have left; the Order's not for everyone." Like Ahsoka, he doesn't say. But he knows that Anakin catches that thought. He hopes it'll remind the other man that it's okay to leave if he needs to.

Anakin doesn't say anything for awhile. Then, very softly, he says, "You."

"What?" Obi-Wan asks, startled.

"You," Anakin says more clearly. "Well, mostly. At first, it was because I had told my mother I would be a Jedi and I had to live up to that. I had to. And then, after I was Knighted, it was because I couldn't bear the thought of leaving you. You needed me. There wasn't anyone else who would put you first, who could be relied on to rescue you when you get into trouble. I couldn't—I can't —just leave and not know what you were doing or what mission you were on or what trouble you were getting into. Not getting to talk to you every day, joke with you, see you, listen to your delightfully sassy commentary on life. I tried to imagine it—Padmé wants us to live in her countryside home on Naboo to raise our child, you know—but I can't. The very thought of not being with you makes me sick."

Obi-Wan stills. He barely registers the last sentence. He's stuck on - "Child? What child?"

"Padme's pregnant."

He sucks in a sharp breath. "I...see. How far along is she?"

"....I, uh, huh. I don't actually know?" Anakin says with some embarrassment.

"Of course you don't," Obi-Wan says with a long-suffering roll of his eyes.

"I can sense you rolling your eyes at me, Obi-Wan."


"I only just found out a couple of days ago when we got back! We haven't had much of a chance to talk about it. She's just told me that she wanted to go home early to get a room ready for it."

"It? I suppose that means you don't know if it's a boy or a girl either?"

"Uh, no, I don't. See? This is why I need you in my life."

"Are you sure it's even just one child and not multiples?"

Anakin shifts and tilts his head back to look Obi-Wan in the eyes; his own are bright and dancing with mirth. "Force, I hope it's just one! I don't know the first thing about babies, how would we take care of more than one?"

Obi-Wan smiles at him softly. "I'm sure you'll figure it out, Anakin. You're going to be a great father. I'm glad that you're happy."

"It is really wonderful, isn't it?" he asks. He smiles but there's a strained quality to it.

Obi-Wan frowns. He thinks he detects...yes, there—a very vague underlying current of fear. It would probably be stronger if Anakin hadn't run through the emotional gamut earlier. "What are you afraid of?" he asks gently.

Anakin takes a deep breath. "I—ever since I found out about the pregnancy, I've been having these nightmares of her dying while giving birth. It's—I don't know what's going on but they feel just like the dreams I had of my mother before she died. Padmé doesn't think it's anything to worry about but I can't take the risk that these are going to come true too. I can't lose her! When I lost my mom—and when I thought I lost you—I just—" His eyes shutter and he takes a couple of quick harsh breaths.

"You...what?" Obi-Wan asks, feeling dread curling in him again. Force, just when he's started thinking they had gotten through the worst of it! Remorse and more fear start spilling into the bond.

Anakin shakes his head and whispers, "I lost it. I was so angry. When my mom died, I couldn't even think about anything except making the people who hurt her pay ." He falls silent. Obi-Wan reaches up and covers Anakin's hand that's still resting over his heart. He gives it a squeeze and doesn't know if he's trying to offer comfort or trying to beg Anakin somehow to not say what it is that Obi-Wan thinks he's going to say. "It hurt, the amount of anger I was feeling," Anakin continues on. He flips his hand over and interlocks his fingers with Obi-Wan's. "I had to release it somehow. So I....I gave into it. I killed—I killed everyone in that camp. I don't even remember thinking about it or wanting to do it. I don't even remember what any of them looked like. I just, I had all this anger and the only way I could get rid of it was to lash out. And then everyone was dead and I took my mom's body home but I was still so angry. And then I felt guilty too. And scared because I shouldn't have done that. That wasn't the Jedi way. Padmé—she talked to me, made me feel better. She said it was okay and that I was grieving."

Cold fear spikes in Obi-Wan.

"What is it?" Anakin asks sharply, brows furrowed.

"...Mortis," Obi-Wan answers reluctantly. The memories of that planet haunt his dreams on a near-nightly basis, though he hasn't brought it up with Anakin. What is about to happen shall occur whether you like it or not , the Son had warned him at the beginning. And then what followed were scenes from a nightmare he didn't know he had—Anakin with amber eyes, Fallen and turned to the Dark Side; Ahsoka with amber eyes, Fallen as well and then dead; himself, desperate to save Anakin and worried that he was too late.

"That weird anomaly? What about it?"

"You the period of time that you don't remember, you had turned to the Dark Side and aligned yourself with the Son."

"I what?!" Anakin gasps.

"I don't know why. By the time I got to you, I was already too late. I asked you what happened and you said that you had seen something. That the Jedi were standing in the way of peace. But you didn't say what had made you turn. And then you ran off with the Son and when Ahsoka and I caught up to you again, the Father had already erased your memory."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Obi-Wan shakes his head. "I didn't want to burden you. The future isn't immutable so it was entirely possible that you wouldn't turn again. And it's not something I like to think about. And yet, I can't stop thinking about it. I have dreams of you with yellow eyes sometimes. Just nightmares, not visions," he hurries to clarify when Anakin looks and feels stricken. "I don't know why you turned. I don't know how to stop it. And I don't know what to make of what you said about the Jedi. Was it the truth and we're going down the wrong path in this war?" It's not the first time he's had misgivings about their role in the conflict and he's not the only Jedi who's worried that the future is so clouded.

Anakin licks his lips and says slowly, "The Sith lie. It's possible that I was just saying that to make you doubt yourself and the Jedi."

"I know. But what if it was true?" He doesn't add the other piece that intrudes on his thoughts on a frequent basis: that at the end of it all, balance was achieved only by the death of both the Light and the Dark. What a grim interpretation of the Chosen One prophecy. He desperately hopes that that isn't what the prophecy means.

Anakin shudders suddenly. "So, I turned on Mortis. And I almost turned when my mom had died. And I almost turned when I thought you had died. Obi-Wan, what if I can't stop it next time? What if I can't come back from it? What if I'm meant to Fall? I don't want to Fall!" he sounds panicked.

Obi-Wan tightens his hold on him. "I know you don't, love," he soothes. "We just need to figure out what the catalyst is." He's starting to have a suspicion, though, and he dreads having to share it with Anakin.

"It's losing the people that I love, isn't it?" Anakin says miserably, jumping to the same conclusion that Obi-Wan has made. "It has to be. There isn't anything I care more about in this universe than you and Padmé and Ahsoka. And I would do anything for the three of you. You were right. My attachments are going to lead to the Dark Side."

"Maybe not," Obi-Wan says a little desperately. He'd give anything to be wrong about this. "After all, you didn't turn when you thought I had died. And you didn't turn when Ahsoka left."

"But she's not dead. That was a different kind of loss. And my bond with her is still intact. It's weak but I can still feel it. And actually, our bond must have still been intact when you were under cover as Hardeen. I still felt connected to you, I just had a hard time placing it at first. My grief must have been clouding it. But what do I do if one of you really dies? Why do the people I love have to die? I wish I could stop it. I should be able to stop it. I'm the strongest Force user in living history. Why can't I stop death? There has to be a way!"

"Anakin, no. Thinking like's blasphemy. Death is a part of life. Everything dies and returns to the Force. Stopping that process, not only is it impossible but it's unnatural. Even if you could do it, you shouldn't. You can't mess with things like that. It would rip the fabric of the universe apart."

"But then what do I do? I can't lose you. And I can't not be attached. I've tried but I just can't follow the Jedi teachings in this." Anakin bows his head and Obi-Wan can feel despair rising up in him. He makes a decision then and hopes that it's the right one. But it's the only one he can make, really. The Order will stand without him. Anakin may not. And Obi-Wan, he knows himself well enough to know that losing Anakin would destroy him. He can't let the Dark Side take him and taint the goodness in him.

"I know, Anakin. We'll figure something else out." There are other groups of Force users out there, following different teachings and beliefs about the Force. Perhaps one of those would be more helpful. Fourteen years as a Jedi doesn't seem to have done anything for Anakin besides create confusion and inner turmoil.

"Okay," Anakin agrees. There's a sense of great relief from him and Obi-Wan has a moment of consternation that he can still have such faith in Obi-Wan. "I love you," he says suddenly, eyes shining as they meet Obi-Wan's.

He smiles. "I know, dear one. And I love you." Something occurs to him and he wants to kick himself for not asking sooner. "Wait. What is Senator Amidala going to think about this?" he asks, gesturing between the two of them.

"Padmé already knows. And she thinks it's about karkin' time. She's been wanting me to tell you for ages. She keeps coming up with reasons for me to tell you but I think it's mostly just that she's tired of hearing me whine about you."

"Anakin. Please tell me you haven't been talking to your wife about wanting to fuck another person."

"It's not just fucking ! I want you in my life. In every way. She's always known that. She probably knew that before I knew that."

"And she would be okay with me being around while you're both raising your child?"

"Yes, of course. She wouldn't make me choose between you. Would you?" He gasps suddenly. "Do you not want this anymore?" His eyes widen with worry. Then: "You promised," he says fiercely. "You said that whatever I told you, it wouldn't change anything between us!"

"Peace, Anakin," Obi-Wan says, clapping a hand to Anakin's shoulder and squeezing gently. "Nothing's changed on my end."

"Good." Anakin nods firmly. "Then we WILL be okay." There's a sense of finality to it that echoes in the Force. Obi-Wan can almost feel the currents of Force shifting as if in response to Anakin's will.

"It's getting late. I need to meditate but you should try to get some rest," Obi-Wan says. He chuckles a bit at the face Anakin makes at the thought of more meditation.

"I don't know why you like to meditate so much," he mutters.

"It settles my mind."

"Well, I doubt I'll be able to sleep but I guess I can try. Don't—please don't block me out," Anakin says, tapping his head.

Obi-Wan quirks a brow. "With how strong the bond is now, I doubt either of us will be able to completely shield against the other anymore. But we do need to separate back into ourselves."

"Okay," Anakin says a bit reluctantly and lets him go when he pulls his awareness fully back into his own mind.

Obi-Wan pats him on the shoulder and nudges him over so he can move off of the couch. But instead of getting up himself and heading towards one of the bedrooms, Anakin just spreads out more on the couch and pulls one of the small pillows to him. He gets it settled under his head and looks pointedly up at Obi-Wan, who's still standing over him watching in amusement. "Yes?"

"Wouldn't you be more comfortable in a bed?"

Anakin shrugs. "Nah, I'm fine here. Besides, I like watching you when you meditate. You're like one of those sculptures in the Coruscant Art Museum, with the cheekbones and the jawline and the perfect muscles hidden under a couple of layers of robes. I'd sketch you if I had any artistic talent whatsoever."

Obi-Wan flushes. "Well, there goes my ability to meditate around you," he mutters. But he turns resolutely away and settles onto one of the meditation mats in front of the window which overlooks the city. It's nearly the middle of the night cycle so it's dark out but as always on Coruscant, there's a few places lit up and likely filled with beings from all over the galaxy. He gazes out at the scene for a moment while he sets his breathing into the proper rhythm and then he shuts his eyes and sinks into a light trance.