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"He's really not okay this time, is he?"

 

Obi-Wan lets out a weak, almost hysterical laugh.

 

"Padme, I don’t think he’s been alright since we got him back,” he says, “Force, he’s likely not been alright since before we even knew him.”

 

He was a horrible Master, and a worse friend. He’d never even noticed

 

He remembers the conversation, the day before. He remembers just how little Anakin had actually said. (He'd moved so easily, like he was actually healed. If Obi-Wan hadn’t learned the truth, he would have even believed it… how blind had he been, all these years?) Anakin always acted like he was fine, telling them exactly what they needed… no wonder they’d missed it for so long. (The oldest trick in the book. How in the Galaxy had he missed it?)

 

They’d let him, though, for both Ahsoka's sake and his own, they’d let him. It had been a simultaneous but unconnected decision, coming from a deep understanding of Anakin Skywalker.

 

…They would need to have that conversation soon, but… not right now.

 

Right now, Anakin actually went straight to sleep. Obi-Wan had been there, in that Council Briefing. (Interrogation, more like.) This was the kind to get Anakin mad, tinkering at droids for hours or just laying on his bed, staring off into space…

 

But he’s asleep. Here they are, standing in his bedroom as Anakin appears to be… sound asleep.

 

"He told us everything, and we thought he was fine," he hears Padme say. He shakes his head.

 

”Not everything. He told me exactly what he thought would push me away. He told you to help you forgive yourself… he never actually told us anything about his time with Dooku..."

 

A huff of laughter, and Obi-Wan jumps, suddenly feeling like a youngling caught gossiping. (How had he not known Anakin was awake? (This was becoming a theme, at this point.))

 

“It was so much less than I deserved,” he hears Anakin say, “It hurt worse than burning alive, and I couldn’t do a thing as my mind was ripped apart…”

 

Anakin trails off, and silence fills the room. Obi-Wan turns to Padme, and she nods.

 

They enter the room fully, and move to either side of the bed. Anakin continues to not move.

 

“I saw him again and I froze. I could have ended it right there, killed him and blamed it on Dooku... but I ran at him, and you had to rescue me. I failed…”

 

Obi-Wan places his hand on his Padawan's shaking shoulder. (Another endless wondering of how did I not know flickers through his thoughts. Dear Force but he had been so blind.) He sends a pulse of warmth through the bond because that’s all he can do. Padme's already slipped under the covers and curled into Anakin’s chest of, one arm wrapped around him as if to remind Anakin that she’s here for him. How was it that it's been more time since Anakin was rescued than the time Anakin had actually been with Dooku, but Anakin sounded exactly as he had when he had first been rescued…

 

They had, truly, been so blind to Anakin’s suffering.

 

“I'm so sorry. I'm not as strong as you are, both of you!"

 

Obi-Wan thinks of an argument that was never spoken of again in anything but looks. He thinks about everything that Anakin has lived through. He thinks about how, within the course of only a day or two, Anakin had pulled himself up from shattered pieces to a plan. It had been a stupid plan, yes, but it had been a plan. He thinks about how he himself had done nothing as Anakin had reached desperately across the bond to him, only realizing too late what had occurred on Naboo. He remembers falling to the floor of their apartment. Cradling Anakin’s prosthetic arm in his own.

 

They were not strong.

 

But, of course, now is not yet time for a true talk. Now is time for comfort. Obi-Wan moves his hand to stroke through Anakin’s long hair as the younger man begins to sob. (Sobbing is good. Another step closer to normal. It’s definitely much better than the silent tears from shortly after Anakin had been found.) He makes shushing noises, continuing to stroke through Anakin’s hair as he curls himself around Anakin’s back, finally stopping his strokes and moving his arm to rest on Anakin’s side.

 

He feels like he should say something, but he knows that there’s nothing here to say. He just holds himself together as Anakin falls apart…

 

They can have an actual conversation in the morning.

 

(Anakin cries until there’s nothing left. Then he shakes until that, too, is gone. He knows he doesn’t deserve these people, but...

 

Anakin Skywalker falls asleep in the arms of the two people he needs (loves, though he’s still not confident enough to consciously say the word) the most, and he is happy. Here, for a single moment... he’s okay.)