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Different Kind of Hell

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In retrospect, Anakin Skywalker likely realized he had miscalculated.

After the darkness seeped from his pores, the heady drug of power no longer leaving him deaf to the people he loved and who loved him.

Anakin Skywalker had been tortured with electricity once— Count Dooku had sent light in his direction that had jolted loose every muscle in his body, leaving him lying on the floor inert, unable to move, on the brink of unconsciousness, and with a heart arrhythmia that had been both scary, and made oxygen reaching his brain difficult.

Made it tough to think. Made it take effort and focus to breathe.

Dooku hadn't been trying to harm him, though. It had been just a brief tap, instantly let up.

It hadn't been meant like this.

 

* * *

 

Ahsoka knew what she was seeing, when she arrived in the Well of the Dark Side.

She had witnessed a clone officer in his dress grays be hit with a magnaguard's electrostaff. He'd bit his own tongue off as his jaw convulsed shut, the snap of bones, the flow of blood from his mouth, his wide eyes and agony in the Force...

Master Obi-Wan didn't seem to have severed his tongue, but teeth and jaw were clearly broken, his eyes horrifically bright and clear through what had to be excruciating pain.

Ahsoka could see burns on his forearms, throat, face— little circles of burn where the tongues of lightning had touched.

And oh, did she know what burns looked like, in all their horrific glory.

War taught you things like that.

It clearly took everything he had to try to speak, but no words came out, and when Ahsoka reached into the Force, she found his face wasn't the only place that had contained such brutal damage.

His muscles had spasmed so violently under the electricity that muscles had torn and bones had broken.

She thought some of the burns went deeper than his skin, into muscle, perhaps even down to organs, she didn't have the fine motor control of her Force skills to really know for sure.

He watched her, trembling in pain, and horrifically silent.

The Well would be a rather awful place to die.

You couldn't even see the sky from its depths. Just cold, unforgiving stone, the impossible climb out, and fire.

“The Son did this?” she asked. Her comlink had signaled, but no words had been spoken. Now she suspected he would have been physically unable to say them.

She wasn't even sure how he'd managed to trigger his comm.

She'd followed the tracking function here, to where his body lay rent and cruelly used.

Obi-Wan's head shook, just a little, and tears blurred his eyes.

“The Father wouldn't have done this,” Ahsoka protested. “I— I have to find Anakin. He—”

A look of alarm and grief flashed through his eyes.

 

* * *

 

He hadn't been able to break his fall with his hands, when the electricity assailed him, laxing his muscles and then constricting them in convulsions. He'd been standing, and the fall struck his head against unforgiving stone.

That was what killed him.

Not his heart stopping, not the searing of his internal organs, though either of those could easily have been it.

No.

He fell.

It was enough.

His brain bled and swelled, and there was nothing Obi-Wan could do about it, and Ahsoka couldn't even identify it.

Death claimed him, cold and implacable, and the only thought Obi-Wan could form was the memory of Anakin's face as he had watched, unmoved, passive...

And a single, wailed word.

Why?

 

* * *

 

Ahsoka's wits came back almost immediately after their ship breached the consciousness barrier and hung suspended in an actual, physical location once more.

Anakin was stirring.

Obi-Wan lay across the dash, so pale, and Ahsoka's heart started to break again—

A wretched, loud gasp for air jolted into Obi-Wan, his fingers clawed against the gauges and the Force wrenched with agony. Some of it remembered, perhaps some of it from the passage from being dead into being alive again.

Either way, it was horrific to witness, and each of his breaths was labored and loud enough to almost be hoarse whimpers, or groaning sobs. Sounds not crafted to express pain, but simply a byproduct of breathing not functioning.

Oh my Force, he's alive—

Anakin turned his head, and the Force erupted with his tangled emotions, relief, guilt, fear, hope, lovehatejoyhorror—

He reached out a hand to Obi-Wan. “You're alive,” Anakin rasped.

Obi-Wan recoiled from him, landing himself onto the floor with a wretched, “Don't touch me! Keep away from me—” before he was heaving his guts out onto the grating.

“Obi-Wan, I don't—”

“Don't you fripping come near me!” Obi-Wan tried to back away, but his spine hit the wall and he curled into himself more, like a terrified, broken creature trying to hide.

Anakin was out of his chair and hesitating, trying to decide if he would move to Obi-Wan's side anyway.

“Maybe... maybe get us landed on the Resolute?” Ahsoka suggested, feeling the trembling in her hands. “Rex is signaling.”

The stench of urine and feces remained in the cockpit air, just as strongly as back in the Well of the Dark Side.

She didn't see any of the other injuries, though, so maybe he could keep on living—

Another strangled noise in his throat, his entire body shaking—

Anakin speaking to Rex, but never once taking his eyes off his master, his gaze almost hungry, knowing what had been lost in that other place, what came so close to being lost here too...

What exactly was it that had happened?

The Father had said Anakin had seen something he shouldn't have, had removed the memory of said future thing, but... by the time Ahsoka had found Anakin, walking alongside the speederbike with Obi-Wan's broken corpse draped over the seat, all of that had been over.

But there had been such guilt when Anakin looked at Obi-Wan, like he had somehow...

But he couldn't. He couldn't have had anything to do with Master Obi-Wan's death.

It simply wasn't possible.

There had been one last confrontation, Anakin had killed the Son, and by extension, the Father, and that was that.

Except for Obi-Wan recoiling away from Anakin with what looked very much like terror. Perhaps even some anger... and something a hell of a lot darker.

Ahsoka's gut wanted to call it hate.

She wouldn't, though. She refused to.

Because for Obi-Wan Kenobi to hate Anakin Skywalker would be impossible.

The ship landed, the ramp folded out, and Anakin stood, moving closer.

Obi-Wan again tried to scuttle, again ran out of place to flee. His knees bunched up, he sat up and braced.

“Obi-Wan... I'm sorry,” Anakin said, his voice breaking, and a tear trembling on his lash.

Obi-Wan only endured Anakin's gaze a moment before the older man's eyes diverted. “I don't want you to touch me.”

“But I'm sorry,” Anakin repeated, sounding so bewildered and hurt.

Obi-Wan sent him a disbelieving look, but no words accompanied it.

“Say something,” Anakin prompted, voice giving out completely.

“You stood by while he did that to me. You let him flood me with his lightning, and all you have to say is you're sorry. But you told me that down in the Well, right before you let him... you stood back and let him torture and kill me. I died. It wasn't even a quick or easy death, and you just stood there!

“I didn't— I didn't know you were going to die. It was just lightning—”

Just electricity? I have a fripping nervous system!” Anakin reached for him again. “No! Don't fripping touch me!

“We need to get him seen by a medic,” Ahsoka urged, trying desperately not to think about what Obi-Wan was saying.

 

* * *

 

Obi-Wan's heart had been weakened, leaving him prone to arrhythmias, but as far as the medics could tell, that was all that was wrong with him.

Obi-Wan knew that to be false, but found saying exactly what... was impossible.

At one point Anakin had been sobbing, trying to hold his hand and apologize, but Obi-Wan had barely been able to hear his words due to the overwhelming need to escape, and the full-bodied revulsion that shuddered through him.

He'd managed to wrench himself free and escape, before locking himself in a deserted ready room, leaving the lights out and crumpling to huddle against the wall, shaking and gritting his teeth to keep moans from escaping.

He couldn't really explain what being dead had meant for him.

He didn't even want to look at it.

But every time he saw Anakin, or heard his voice, memory of the horrific burns, of feeling his bones break, of the terror and agony and Anakin just standing there doing nothing...

Obi-Wan put in a request to be reassigned.

He couldn't work with Anakin Skywalker anymore.

He just... couldn't.

 

* * *

 

Mace took him in, though Mace's ship didn't have extra room at the moment, so Obi-Wan was sleeping on the second cot in Mace's quarters.

While Mace could hardly have been said to have been braced for it, when Obi-Wan bolted out of sleep with a scream that could have matched any mainliner who'd tried to quit cold turkey, the adrenaline that flooded Mace's bloodstream could hardly be described as bewilderment.

Instead, he rolled out of bed, crossed the few feet of distance, and helped Obi-Wan not beat himself against the wall.

 

* * *

 

Anakin was angry.

He'd apologized, more than once, groveling, even, and he was sorry.

It wasn't fair for Obi-Wan to want distance from him, to enforce that distance.

It wasn't.

Obi-Wan was supposed to forgive him. And forgiveness was supposed to mean they could continue on as they always had, as close as ever.

Ahsoka said that Obi-Wan had trusted no one the way he trusted Anakin, and that Anakin's betrayal had hurt him, maybe as much as the pain of dying had. That after it, he was not at all ready to trust Anakin...

And even looked at everyone else with veiled suspicion.

If the other half of his soul had been able to just stand back and allow him to be brutalized...

What did that mean for anyone else, who presumably loved Obi-Wan less than Anakin, in his ferocious wildness, did?

Insult to injury, Obi-Wan wasn't quite as insistent on staying away from Ahsoka, so Anakin's own padawan got to see Obi-Wan, while Anakin's former master fled if he tried to approach. And not necessarily in a dignified way, either.

Ahsoka swore that he didn't want Anakin harmed, that he just couldn't be near him...

But Anakin knew better.

Obi-Wan was withholding forgiveness, just to make Anakin suffer for a crime he had already paid for.

Though when he voiced that fact, Ahsoka had looked to him in horror.

Ahsoka didn't know kark.