Ahsoka woke up early the following morning. She laid in her bed, her mind blissfully empty for a few moments before remembering the events from the previous day – the death of the Emperor, the destruction of the Death Star, and Anakin's consequent revelations. She shut her eyes with a groan, suddenly wishing for nothing more than to be able to fall back into Challia's tempting arms. Unfortunately, avoiding their companions would merely delay the problem, and Ahsoka had never been one for postponing hardships – she much preferred to face them head-on.
With another groan, she rolled out of her bunk. Five minutes later, she padded into the kitchen, a route for her morning run already in her mind. In the back of her mind, she had been hoping that nobody else would have been awake at the crack of the dawn, but no – Obi-Wan was already nursing a cup of tea when she entered the room. Ahsoka stifled a grin. Typical. She distinctly recalled Anakin ranting about his Padawan days – Obi-Wan was very much a morning person, and although he tried to be silent, Anakin was nonetheless awake by the time Obi-Wan's tea had finished brewing, and the Forceforsaken herbs he favoured made it impossible to fall back asleep.
“Hello, Obi-Wan,” Ahsoka said lightly, deriving inordinate amounts of enjoyment from watching Obi-Wan twitch at her words. Judging from his reaction, he hadn't heard her approach.
“Good morning, Ahsoka,” Obi-Wan replied evenly, even as he tried Ahsoka's name, the taste foreign in his mouth. “Have you had a pleasant night?” he asked, the question stiff and formal.
Ahsoka rolled her eyes. “No need to be so formal, Kenobi,” she said, making a beeline for the caf machine. “I'm still the same person as before, you know.”
Obi-Wan didn't have a response to that; he probably disagreed with her but was too polite to admit that out loud.
She sighed. “I fell asleep like a baby, thank you for asking – but then again, I suppose that was a given, considering the complete chaos that was yesterday. What about you?”
Obi-Wan looked down into his mug. “I couldn't sleep,” he confessed.
“Ouch,” Ahsoka said sympathetically. “I hate it when you're exhausted beyond belief but your mind simply won't stop thinking and you end up laying awake and thi–“
Obi-Wan raised a hand to stall her. “That's enough, Ahsoka. You've made your point.”
“I could go on,” Ahsoka smirked.
“Please don't,” Obi-Wan implored. “One Threepio is more than enough.”
Ahsoka looked around. “Where are Artoo and Threepio?” she asked, absentmindedly reaching out to grab one of the mugs with the Force. “Don't lecture me on the misuse of the Force,” she added upon seeing Obi-Wan's glare of disapproval. “The Jedi Order as we knew it is no more, and that rule was stupid to begin with. If we are all part of the Force, are we not allowed to do with it as we please, just as the Force guides our actions? We are the Force, and the Force is us. I don't see why we shouldn't reap the benefits, since we can,” Ahsoka finished, filling the mug with caf.
Obi-Wan's scowl deepened. “The Force is an entity greater than we can ever possibly understand. We shouldn't prove ourselves unworthy of its trust in us by taking advantage so blatantly.”
“I rather feel that the Force would have made a sign if it had minded,” Ahsoka pointed out, taking a light sip and wincing at the scalding temperature. “Besides, by using it for everyday chores, aren't we strengthening our connection with is?”
Obi-Wan sighed. "Why are you up so early?" Obi-Wan asked, recognizing a lost battle when he saw one. "As I recall, you used to sleep in quite a lot."
Ahsoka's lips quirked into a smile. "Mornings the only time I'm not disturbed by Anakin," she said, voice teasing.
"Ah yes. Anakin's perpetual hate of mornings," Obi-Wan nodded in understanding. "The one constant in the universe."
"I'm taking advantage of his spring habits to get a little time for myself," Ahsoka explained. "Running, for instance, isn't as fun when you're competing against a fifty-year-old with the body of a person maybe half his age, and enough midichlorians to tear apart a small planet. Care to join me?” she offered.
“On your run?” Obi-Wan shook his head. “Thank you, but I'll have to respectfully decline. My stamina hasn't been quite the same since–“ Mustafar. “–since I became the Tatooine hermit,” he finished awkwardly, hoping that Ahsoka wouldn't have noticed his slight hesitation but knowing that she did.
Ahsoka narrowed her eyes. “Since Mustafar, you mean,” she said calmly. “You are allowed to say it out loud, you know. It's not a taboo or anything.”
“I know,” Obi-Wan replied, looking anywhere but at Ahsoka.
“Anakin won't mind either,” Ahsoka added, certainty in her voice.
“Somehow, I doubt that,” Obi-Wan said slowly. “I have–“
“I know well what you have done to Anakin on Mustafar,” Ahsoka cut him off somewhat brusquely, “and, if not know, then at least I suspect what he has done to you. You forget that I found him after you had left him,” Obi-Wan flinched at that, but Ahsoka went on. “And I can tell you – no, I can promise you – that he bears no resentment towards you, not anymore, and while he doesn't like to talk about it, Mustafar is a painful subject not because of your duel but because that's where he truly lost Padmé and chose Sidious over her. That's why he hates it,” she finished, biting into a meiloorun with gusto.
“I wouldn't wish to–“ Obi-Wan began.
Ahsoka rolled her eyes. “Drop the lies, Obi-Wan,” she advised. “I've known you before. You may have Skyguy's kids fooled with your perfect Jedi façade, but I distinctly remember that you were just as curious and as intrusive as Anakin, but were simply better at hiding it. You want to know what happened to us after Mustafar, right?” she was clearly waiting for some kind of confirmation. Obi-Wan offered a nod. “See?” Ahsoka smiled. “That wasn't so hard. We might make a human being out of you yet. Well,” she settled into the seat opposite Obi-Wan's, taking another bite of the meiloorun before continuing, “Anakin was unconscious when I found him, offering no resistance when I dragged him to my ship. I knew that the injuries he had suffered needed tending to quickly, and that I had neither the skill nor the equipment to provide him with adequate care, so I brought him to a medical facility not far from Mustafar. Kamino had been my first idea, but that was too far; Anakin wouldn't have survived the trip.
“At that point, I hadn't known that he had turned to the dark side – I only discovered that once he had woke up – and I tried to keep him in a stable condition using what healing techniques he had taught me, but that seemed to worsen his already deteriorating condition, so I settled for purely medical help. Atravis was the only planet I could have thought of with decent medical facilities.
“Anakin eventually woke up. When I realized what had happened–“ Ahsoka shivered. “I took it upon myself to help him find a way back, if at all possible. It wasn't easy – it still isn't – and it was the most difficult thing Anakin and I have ever done, but step by step, Anakin returned to– not his former self, but something resembling it, albeit more cynical, more world-weary. I don't know exactly what Anakin had had to do to get the dark side to relinquish some of its control over him, but I know for certain that it hadn't been pleasant,” she smiled mirthlessly. “We were there for quite some time – the burn damage alone took almost two months to regenerate, and even then, it wasn't completely healed. The Atravi doctors were quite skilled in prosthetics – probably because they were close to Elrood and its mines, but I digress – and later outfitted Anakin with four prosthetics, which he then spent a frankly ridiculous amount of time tinkering with.”
The sound of footsteps cut Ahsoka off, and both she and Obi-Wan looked in the direction of the noise. It wasn't long before Luke emerged, a perky manner in his steps. He hesitated in the doorway once he spotted Ahsoka, no doubt trying to figure out whether he was intruding on what was clearly a long-overdue conversation between two old friends. Ahsoka snorted. “Come on, Luke,” she waved him in, “join us. You're making me twitchy just by standing there.”
“Sorry,” Luke said reflexively.
Ahsoka stifled a groan, because manners were good and all, but at just past 0600, she really didn't have the energy to be polite. “Don't apologize. It's not your fault. Sit.”
Luke obliged her, glancing between her and Obi-Wan every so often. Ahsoka smiled into the meiloorun. “Caf?” Luke declined, but did retrieve some of that blue milk he and Anakin were unnaturally fond of. “What has you up at the crack of dawn, Luke?” Ahsoka asked once Luke had returned to his chair.
“I usually wake up at this time,” Luke pointed out. “You are simply not usually awake yourself.”
“Ouch,” Ahsoka grinned. “That hurt. Truly. It's moments like these that remind me that you're Padmé's son as well as Skyguy's.”
Skyguy? Does she mean father? Luke frowned. “Padmé?” he voiced out loud. “That's my mother, right? Father mentioned her last night.”
Ahsoka blinked, obviously not expecting his reaction. She turned to Obi-Wan with narrowed eyes. “Why haven't you told him about Padmé?” she demanded. “Or Leia, for the matter? I know how much she idolizes Padmé, she would have been delighted to find out she's related to her.”
“The feeling wouldn't carry over to her father, I'm afraid,” Obi-Wan said under his breath, then raised his voice so as to be heard. “And Leia has only known for the past day. I could hardly find the time to take her aside in this chaos and delve into the intricacies of the Skywalker family tree.”
“That doesn't explain Luke,” Ahsoka said accusingly, gesturing at Obi-Wan with the meiloorun.
Obi-Wan sighed. “For that, I have no excuse, save that I thought that Vader was Anakin Skywalker and wanted to spare Luke the pain.”
“You mean you wanted to set his against Vader in an attempt to get rid of him,” Ahsoka translated bluntly – a little too accurately for Obi-Wan's comfort. “I can recognize your tricks when I see them, Obi-Wan. You did the same thing back when you went up against Hardeen – don't think I've forgotten that, by the way – and later on Vohai.”
Obi-Wan didn't reply. Ahsoka sighed, turning to Luke once again. “Yes, Padmé was your mother. Her full name was Padmé Naberrie Amidala Skywalker, and she served first as the Queen of Naboo, and then as the Senator of Naboo. She married your father on Naboo right after the Clone Wars broke out – a tidbit I found out from Anakin a few years ago,” Ahsoka elaborated, seeing confusion and no little amount of betrayal in Obi-Wan's eyes. “She was a champion of the people, and firmly believed in every being's right to live a life in freedom – freedom of choice as well as speech. She advocated the disarmament of the clone army, as well as the cessation of the hostilities between the Republic and the Confederacy, believing that there was a more peaceful solution than violence. To be honest, though, I didn't know Senator Amidala all that well," Ahsoka admitted. "She was simply a friend of my Master, and our paths sometimes crossed. Obi-Wan could tell you more."
“I don't think it's my story to tell,” Obi-Wan said apologetically. “Besides, Anakin would do her more justice than I could ever hope to.”
“Don't bring up Padmé with him just yet,” Ahsoka offered her advise, swallowing the . “Let him create a comfort zone. He doesn't like to talk about her, but I believe that he'll talk when he's ready.”
“What if he's never ready?” Luke asked uncertainly.
Ahsoka offered him a soft smile. “He will need to be. He needs to face his demons, and Padmé is one of them.”
Obi-Wan twitched as realization coursed through him like the pain from a lightsaber wound. “Is Anakin– does he know–?”
Ahsoka pursed her lips. “Spit it out, Kenobi,” she ordered.
“What does Anakin believe in regards to Padmé's death?” Obi-Wan asked, fearing the answer to his question.
“He had initially believed that he had killed her on Mustafar,” Ahsoka said frankly, watching Obi-Wan flinch away as though struck. “When we discovered Luke's existence, we tried putting two and two together but got five every time, until we took Kamino into consideration – Kamino, the planet of whose existence only a few people still know. Things finally began to make sense after that. As far as we've been able to figure out, you took Padmé to Kamino, where she gave birth to Luke and Leia, after which she died. Am I correct?”
Obi-Wan nodded wordlessly.
Ahsoka sighed, suddenly already weary despite the early hour. “I had hoped I wouldn't be,” she muttered quietly.
“And now? What does Anakin feel now?” Obi-Wan wasn't sure why he was this desperate for an answer, but the fact remained that he was. Perhaps it was because he didn't want anyone, former Sith Lord or not, to have to suffer what he went through with Siri Tachi and later with Satine, both dying because of him, and the sheer feeling of helplessness that enveloped–
Or maybe it was because Anakin was his brother, and deep inside, he didn't want any harm to come to him. Most likely a combination of both, if Obi-Wan was honest with himself.
“Now,” Ahsoka intoned, “he still blames himself, but not with a grief as all-consuming as before. But that's something you'll need to talk to Anakin about. I've said too much as it is,” finishing the last piece of the meiloorun before standing up. “Enough talking. Care for a light jog?” she asked Luke, who looked up, startled.
“Sure,” Luke said happily, but his smile fell as he realized that he was still wearing his pyjamas. “But I don't–“
“Go on,” Ahsoka said. “Find some clothes more suited for running in the forest. I'll wait,” she promised.
“Hello, Obi-Wan,” Anakin's voice echoed from up the tree in front of Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan twitched, looking up. His gaze rested on the top of the tree, where Anakin was standing on the very top of the tree. Obi-Wan was on the verge of scolding him for doing something so foolish and dangerous, but something told him that Anakin was perfectly safe. Besides, it wasn't as if Anakin was a child that could be scolded – not anymore. “Hello, Anakin,” he said loudly. “Enjoying the view?”
“Quite,” Anakin smiled. “Don't frown like that, Obi-Wan. I'm hardly going to fall,” he teased, then winced as he took in the full meaning of his words. “I mean 'fall down'. From the tree,” Anakin added seriously. “I think it's too late for the other kind of fall.”
Obi-Wan did not reply, looking down at the grass.
Suddenly, something shifted—though what, Obi-Wan could not pinpoint. When he glanced back up at the tree, he saw, to his great surprise, that Anakin was walking down the tree as if the vertical trunk was no harder to walk on than the ground. “How–?” Obi-Wan began but could not finish.
Anakin paused at the bottom of the grass; again, something around Obi-Wan shifted drastically, and when Anakin took another step, it was on the green grass underneath. “Manipulating the local gravity field,” he explained. “Remember how I grabbed Sidious' lightsaber barehanded?” Obi-Wan nodded, curious despite himself, then scolded himself for his thoughts. “Well, I could do that because I've taught myself how to manipulate the smallest of ions. It all hinges on their charges, really. Lightsabers are charged with a massive negative charge, so if one charges one's own hand with a similar charge, also negative, the hand and the lightsaber will repel each other. I can teach you, if you feel up to it,” he offered, seeing Obi-Wan's confusion written on his face as clearly as the man would allow it.
“Maybe later,” Obi-Wan allowed. He hesitated, which did not escape Anakin's attention. The older man sighed. “How did you survive?” he asked bluntly. “Try as I might, I cannot wrap my mind around that, let alone how you came back from the dark side. I had always thought that–“
“–the dark side was a road from which there was no return,” Anakin supplied. “Yes, it's a slippery slope, but not entirely without a chance for redemption.”
“How did you do it?” Obi-Wan asked.
Anakin snorted. “I'm durable,” he said faux-nonchalantly.
“But how–?” Obi-Wan couldn't finish his thought. How did you survive? echoed in his mind.
Evidently, his expression was more transparent than he had thought. Anakin closed his eyes. “It depends on how you define survival, Obi-Wan,” he said at last. “I've lost all my limbs, as well as everything important in my life, and had only my anger to hold on to. Soon, I didn't even have that, and had to face the reality of my crimes. Don't ask me how I survived. I still don't know.”
“Forgive me,” slipped out of Obi-Wan's mouth before he could prevent it. He internally cursed his defective brain-to-mouth filter.
Anakin gave his former master an odd look. “What have you done that needs forgiving?” he asked. “If anything, it is I who should beg for your forgiveness.”
“I left you, back on Mustafar,” Obi-Wan said. “I abandoned you, instead of doing something to help you like Ahsoka did.”
(“When Master Yoda ordered me to Mustafar to kill him, I already knew I couldn't do it. I knew it, and yet I let him bait me into a duel.")
Anakin shook his head, dispelling the unpleasant memory. “You did your duty.”
“My duty was to you,” Obi-Wan emphasized, the voice more forceful than Anakin had expected.
(“Then, as if that alone wasn't enough, I cut off three of his limbs and left him there to die in the lava.”)
“Your duty is and has always been to preserve peace and life in the galaxy. Luke and Leia wouldn't have been alive, had it not been for you,” Anakin assured him, then “Let me rephrase it: you did what needed to be done. You followed the will of the Force.”
(“Don't bring up Padmé. He doesn't like to talk about her, but I believe that he'll talk when he's ready.”)
“You've always been better at interpreting its whims,” Obi-Wan protested. “You and Qui-Gon were able to hear the Living Force. I can only understand the Unifying Force.”
“That's another thing,” Anakin remarked. “You sell yourself short. When did you become so self-deprecating?” he frowned. “I think I would have noticed.”
“I hadn't been arrogant in a long time, if that's what you mean,” Obi-Wan said, more sharply than intended. He winced, but didn't apologize.
Anakin watched him with an emotion Obi-Wan struggled to describe. “I suppose I deserved that one,” he finally said.
Obi-Wan didn't reply, which was as close to a passive-aggressive confirmation as Obi-Wan was capable of. When people told him that he was prone to mood swings, all he could think about was that they had clearly never met Obi-Wan. Obedient and disapproving one moment, playful and understanding in another – usually one right after another. He acknowledged that Anakin was at fault, and yet felt that it was his place, rather than Anakin's, to apologize. One second, he was reprimanding Anakin, only to then beat himself up over something out of his control.
Anakin shook his head. Clearly, he wasn't destined to understand the mystery that was Obi-Wan Kenobi. Once, as a Padawan, he had thought that he had a pretty solid grip on Obi-Wan's motivations; only now did he realize how erroneous his assumptions had been.
“Since it's a day for forgiveness,” Anakin brought the conversation back to the matter at hand, “I feel that it's only fair that I should ask you for forgiveness.”
“This isn't a contest, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said firmly.
“I know, and I'm not trying to win it, or to make it about myself,” Anakin said quietly. “Well,” he amended, “I am, but only in a very detached capacity. I'm not saying that you ought to forgive me, because I've done things that cannot ever be forgiven not forgotten.” Anakin dragged his fingers across his face and into his dark hair. That was another thing Obi-Wan had noticed: while Anakin wasn't in a hurry to remove the black dye from his hair — unlike Ahsoka, who took the first available opportunity to rid herself of the red lekku markings as well as her dark face tattoos — neither had he gone to great lengths to retain his darker hair. "What I am trying to tell you is that it should be me, rather than you, should beg for forgiveness."
“I can't forgive you, Anakin, not yet,” Obi-Wan said honestly, because Anakin deserved that much, at least, “but I hope that, with enough time, I will.”
Anakin smiled wistfully. “That's all I can hope for. Now,” he looked back at the tree, then at Obi-Wan, “do you feel like learning something new, or do you want to spar?”
“Having seen your dueling skills firsthand, the first option feels safer by far,” Obi-Wan said, and if he felt just a little thrilled at the thought of learning something new, something foreign, as well as socializing with Anakin – with his friend, his brother, whom he had considered forevermore lost to the dark side not two days ago–
Well. That was his business, and his alone.
Anakin frowned as he made his way into the hangar. He hadn't seen Han since the evening before, when he had, Ahsoka saw fit to inform him, walked out on them rather dramatically, and while he had seen the rest of their group – even Leia and Chewbacca, through the former avoided him whenever their eyes met, making something clench inexplicably in Anakin's heart, while the latter seemed to have set up a school for the Ewoks and was teaching them now to use their crossbows without risk to themselves – but throughout the entire day, he had seen neither hide nor hair from the Corellian smuggler. The silence itself was cause for concern on a normal day, let alone on a day so odd as this one. Anakin had briefly considered that Han might be spending some time with Lando, the two not having had much time to reconcile after Han's rescue from Jabba's palace, but when he questioned Lando about this, Calrissian shook his head, telling him that he hadn't seen Han since the rendezvous in the Atravis system.
(Anakin wasn't being the creepy stalker. Really. He wasn't.)
One thing remained: to track Han down manually and make sure that he was okay. To be honest, Anakin didn't see how Han wouldn't be okay, since yesterday's news didn't affect him nearly as much as it did everyone else, but better safe than sorry, as the saying went.
The first – and, as it turned out, only – place Anakin needed to check was the clearing where Lando had landed the Millennium Falcon. If Anakin knew Han even half as well as he thought he did, then the captain would be near his ship.
“Hey, Solo!” Anakin called out, approaching the ship. No response, although the ramp was open, as if in invitation. Anakin entered the ship, calling out for Han again. The erstwhile Jedi grinned as he heard a sudden thud, followed by some rather inventive choice words in Corellian, before Han emerged from the floor hatch that contained, if Anakin wasn't mistaken, the hyperdrive. “Need help?” Anakin smirked.
Han sized him up, then snorted, still holding a hand to the back of his head. “Why not? It's not like you haven't tinkered with the Falcon a dozen times before. If you did plan to sabotage her, you would have done it a long time ago.”
“He also wouldn't have been so blatant about it. Anakin doesn't do subterfuge if his life doesn't rely on it,” Ahsoka chimed in from where she had suddenly popped up next to Anakin. Han jumped, startled, while Anakin smirked, having felt Ahsoka's approach through their bond in the Force. “You okay there, Han?”
“Simply peachy,” Han grumbled, massaging the back of his head. “Kriffin' ship. Don't get me wrong, I love her to bits and pieces and she's my darling, but dammit, she can be stubborn sometimes.”
Anakin frowned. “What's wrong this time?” he asked.
“The hyperdrive,” Han sighed. “I can't figure out what's wrong with it this time. Feel free to take a look, Starkiller,” he gestured at the hatch in the floor.
Anakin didn't need further prompting. He climbed down into the hatch, hissing as he saw the utter chaos that was the coupling system, with cords traveling left and right with no semblance of order. “Have you considered cleaning this place?” he shouted up at Han, who smirked.
“I have, but every time I set aside some time, one or both of your kids get into trouble, and I end up havin' to rescue them. Granted, it's usually Luke – the kid is like a trouble magnet, I swe–”
“Okay, enough talking,” Anakin interrupted Han's tirade. “Come here, Solo,” he ordered. When Han hesitated, he scowled. “I'm hardly planning to kill you.”
“That's a relief,” Han said sarcastically, but his voice was already considerably lighter.
“I need to show you what went wrong with the hyperdrive so that you'll be able to fix it, should it break again,” Anakin explained, making some space for Han to fit in next to him. Han looked down skeptically, but eventually jumped down to crouch next to Anakin.
In the following few minutes, Han heard Anakin use more technical jargon than he had heard most people use during their entire lifetime. He was impressed, despite himself.
A movement out of the corner of his eye suddenly caught Han's attention. He stood up, and saw that the two droids, Artoo and Threepio, had made their way up the ramp, no doubt having followed Anakin.
Artoo whirred around, beeping something loudly.
“No, I'm not getting between you two,” Anakin said, biting his lip as he tried to focus on finding the other exhaust cable from the hyperdrive.
Artoo beeped once more.
“Okay, Artoo,” Anakin agreed absentmindedly as he found the other cable, and began fiddling with them. “That sounds good.”
“Good?” Threepio echoed loudly, a note of panic in his voice. “I hardly think that offering my services to the Ewoks constitutes as a good idea, Master Starkiller.”
From behind Anakin, Han had to agree with the small astromech. Leaving Threepio here with the heavily-armed mini bears would have been one of the better choices they'd have made.
“Solo seems to see it in a different way,” Anakin muttered, echoing Han's thoughts.
“But sir!” Threepio objected. “I must protest. I am useful to you, as I am not only fluent in six billion languages and types of verbal and non-verbal communication but also in–“
“I begin to think that the droid just likes to hear himself speak,” Han groaned quietly.
“He does,” Anakin confirmed absentmindedly, his voice nothing short of sure.
Han narrowed his eyes. “And how would you know that?” he asked.
“I was the one who built him,” Anakin said simply.
“You–“ Han couldn't speak for a moment as he processed the information. He smirked. “Well, that proves it. You're clearly evil.”
At that, Anakin tensed, as though preparing himself for further words. When none came, he furrowed his brows, processing what Han had said. His eyes widened. “Did you just make a Vader joke?”
“I would never,” Han deadpanned.
“I like you,” Anakin announced. Han grinned roguishly. Anakin then coughed pointedly. “I would have liked you more if you focused on what I'm trying to teach you, Solo. This might save your life in the future.”
“I have a proposal for Luke and Leia,” Anakin announced at the dinner, catching the interest of everyone around the table. Leia, he noticed with resignation, still refused to meet his eye. “I know that it's probably odd, and unorthodox, and you shouldn't feel pressured into accepting just–“
“Anakin,” Obi-Wan admonished.
“I'm offering my services to train you both,” Anakin looked at both Luke and Leia in turn, “in the ways of the Force. I'd like to at least teach you some basic dueling stances and some acrobatics, so that you might have a chance in a fight.”
Ahsoka grinned. “If you're in, I'm in. I've wanted a Padawan for ages, anyway, and while your mental age matches that of a young Padawan, I just can't teach you anything," she teased. "Besides, Luke and Leia need actual Force training because what you did,” she shot a brief glance at Obi-Wan, “was a parody. 'Close your eyes and listen to the Force'?” She raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“I'd love to, father,” Luke cut Ahsoka off mid-rant, smiling warmly at Anakin.
“What about you, Leia?” Anakin looked over at Leia, hoping that he wasn't breeching some kind of an unspoken pact between the two of them. “Would you like to learn?”
Leia let out a breath. She finally looked into Anakin's eyes, her own carefully empty of any emotions that might be used against her – which, in itself, said a lot about her mental state. “I don't want to, but I see the benefits of it. I would be far more useful if I did learn.”
“This isn't about being useful,” Anakin told her, because he would be damned if his own children also began thinking in terms of military benefits and drawbacks. “It's about what you want.”
“Only if Ahsoka teaches me,” Leia said at length.
The rejection hurt more than Anakin would care to admit, but he forced a smile onto his face. “Very well. Luke, would you mind if you trained with me?”
“Not at all,” Luke assured him, throwing a quizzical look at his sister.
Leia turned away from Luke's searching glance, unable to explain her reasoning to him. She doubted that she could understand it herself yet. She needed time, more time than they were willing to give her.
“Father?” Luke asked softly.
Anakin suppressed a smile. He had long since given up on telling Luke that he should feel obliged to call him 'father' should he not want. Evidently, Luke's mind was made up on that matter. Anakin turned around. “Yes, Luke?” he asked.
Luke bit him lip. He wasn't looking at Anakin, which, in itself, was odd, since Luke, for all his gentleness, wasn't a shy person by any measure. He was curious, he was adventurous, and he tactful, but shy? That wasn't the Skywalker way, and Luke was nothing if not a Skywalker.
Which brought Anakin back to the matter at hand. He approached his son. “Luke?” he reached out a hand – his right hand, he noted absentmindedly, the injury he unfortunately shared with his son – but aborted the movement mid-air. He let his hand fall back down to his side. “What's wrong?” Anakin asked, concern heavy in his voice.
Luke didn't answer for a long time. Just as Anakin was beginning to despair of actually receiving a response, Luke looked up. “What's romance?” his son asked at length, looking as through the words themselves pained him.
Anakin frowned. “What do you–“
“I mean, I know what romance is,” Luke's clarifications only added to Anakin's confusion, “but I don't understand what I'm supposed to be feeling. What romance is supposed to entail,” Luke finished awkwardly.
“Romance,” Anakin sighed, “is, at its most fundamental, a certain kind of love you only have for one, or a very few select people, usually your equals. You love them, but there is also a more– spicy element to it, I suppose is the best way to describe it,” Anakin paused. “If you find someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, someone you want to awaken next to each morning, someone you want to shower with gifts to prove your love, or maybe not give a single gift because your relationship is enough, that's romance. Romance is different for each being, and it has as many sides to it as there are sentients in the galaxy. Romance isn't to be confused with sexual attraction, but let's not go there,” Anakin winced.
“I don't think I haven't felt that kind of love,” Luke admitted.
“And that's fine,” Anakin assured him. “You might feel it later on, or you might not. There are people, certain individuals, who simply aren't interested in that kind of relationship. For them, familial bonds and friendships are enough. A friend is never just a friend. Don't let anyone tell you that. Never underestimate the value of friendship.”
“Thank you, father,” Luke smiled.