Naboo, 13 years ago
“Are you an angel?”
Slaves know how to watch people while seeming utterly focused on something, anything else, and while the beautiful girl in Watto’s shop did have more of Ani’s attention than he’d normally give someone, he wasn’t nearly as fixated than somebody might think.
He saw the old man skip a step on his way out the door, a funny expression crossing his face. It took Ani awhile to figure it out. Kind of a grin – small, discreet. Kind of knowing. “Oh really now?” That sort of thing. He figured maybe the girl was an angel or something, and – well, whatever it was, she was something special. He decided then and there he’d have to find out more.
Coruscant, 3 years ago
“Anakin, you have got to stop jumping out of speeders.”
Anakin rolled his eyes – discreetly, because even if Obi-Wan was walking in front of him, his master sometimes seemed to have a Force ability to know when Ani was behaving with anything less than full propriety. “Master, I think you need to not go disrupting Coruscant traffic by hanging from random killer droids before you are in any position to scold me about that. I told you were I was going.”
“Assassin diving is completely different. You were falling, I was making a combat decision.”
“I know how to use the Force; I wasn’t going to hit anything other than my target.”
“Padawan, when you learn to fly on your own, then you can talk.”
Ani rolled his eyes again, checking his mental shields. Obi-Wan had no room to complain.
He was also never, ever going to mention that he hoped someday he did learn how to use the Force to fly. Controlled falls, like he’d done going after the would-be assassin? Next best thing to sex in a speeder.
The notion of Senator Amidala killed that high before it got too far along. She’d be far too classy to ever– and it’s not like he just wanted to– she still looked like an angel, and a woman like that–
He shook the errant thoughts free, and hurried after Obi-Wan.
Coruscant, 2 days ago
Watching the pyre light, the beam of power shooting into the air, the signal that Obi-Wan Kenobi was no more–
Anakin wasn’t sure how he kept from howling in grief.
Force, he wasn’t sure anymore.
Ahsoka had cried.
He had not.
He would not.
Obi-Wan...had been so much. Father figure, surrogate parent, brother, friend, teacher, annoyance, voice of reason, font of some really bad ideas—everything.
He walked out of the funerary room, feeling like the Force had created a barrier around him. He thought he might have heard Ahsoka – Padme? – calling his name, but he ignored it, stalking through the halls. Cloak held tight, hood pulled forward, he was just one more figure roaming the halls.
He’d had his own rooms for years.
He palmed open the doors to Obi-Wan’s sparse rooms and felt the same way he always did.
Except now he wasn’t.
He made it inside before falling to his knees, the doors swishing shut behind him. The place felt so empty, for all that maybe the Code was right: there was no death, just the Force. He could still feel Obi-Wan in his mind, the bonds forged between padawan and master still solid and bright, floating off to only the Force knew where.
He desperately wanted to believe his master wasn’t dead.
He’d seen the body.
He’d seen the body burn.
He was alone.
Coruscant, 1 day ago
He tossed the data chip down on the table, leaning back and scrubbing his eyes. In an attempt to figure out where Obi-Wan’s killer would be, Anakin had requisitioned every piece of data the Temple or Republic databases had on Rako Hardeen.
Now that Hardeen was caught, on an anonymous tip of all the pathetic things, he felt like he desperately needed a shower. He suspected he knew more about Rako Hardeen than the man’s mother did.
Well, she was six years deceased, back on the man’s home planet –
“Argh.” Anakin shook his head and shoved the data chips into a pile. Too much intel on a man he wished was dead.
That he wished he could kill.
He shoved that away too.
Need to sort this crap and get it out of here. Anakin started moving the data chips around, clearing the labeled ones into rough piles. He paused when he had a battered chip that wasn’t temporary, used to transmit data until it could be overwritten by new information.
He’d never gotten around to this one, and since it wasn’t labeled...
Hell. He didn’t feel right, leaving anything a mess in Obi-Wan’s rooms. He popped the chip into the reader, settling back for –
Anakin grunted as if he’d been punched in the gut, curling forward to stare at the reader.
He recognized the format – like much of the Hardeen information he was perusing, it was simple medical, historical data. “Obi-Wan,” he whispered, staring at completely different information than what he’d been absorbing over the last incalculable while.
For all that he and Obi-Wan had ended up in Medical often, he’d never bothered to read any of the charts or information on his Master. Anakin’s goal had always been to get out of Medical as quickly as possible, not to be entertained while there. He pulled the reader close, feeling as if he were somehow being granted yet another chance to understand his teacher’s life.
Much of the information was dry, or made him wince. He kept scrolling through the records of injuries, grimacing when he ran across a particularly bad battle or long time Obi-Wan had spent recovering –
“What? That...can’t be right.” Anakin swapped out data chips, replacing Obi-Wan’s medical history with Hardeen’s last visit to a med clinic.
Rako Hardeen. Non-Sensitive, Human
He swapped back.
Obi-Wan Kenobi. Force Sensitive, Near-human.
“Near-human?” He slumped back, staring without quite believing the words in front of him. “Sith and stars.” He’d had no idea. It hadn’t even occurred to him to ask. Sure, everyone who came to the Temple was tested, just to make sure there shouldn’t be any medical reactions or weird biological demands cropping up, but...
He bowed his head, the disbelieving numbness creeping further into him.
Another mystery, now never to be solved. The Healers wouldn’t tell him; there’d be no reason to tell him. He was no longer Obi-Wan’s padawan, and it wasn’t as if the answers were relevant to...anything but Anakin’s curiosity. In the middle of the war, any attempt to push paperwork through was pretty much bound for either disaster or failure, depending on the day.
Another chance, gone. “I’m sorry, Master.” He kept feeling more and more as if his grasp on reality was spinning further out of control. Now, without the lynchpin of Obi-Wan, even what he thought he knew of his friend was in question.
There was no solid ground beneath his feet, and the Force could not save him from falling this time.
It was as much a thrill as always to dive out of the shuttle, the Force vibrant and thrumming around him. Landing on Hardeen’s shuttle, he could feel the bastard inside, could practically find the man’s location through the Force by the way he had to be staring at Anakin.
It was immensely satisfying to wreak havoc on the shuttle. Here was something that he could destroy freely, lightsaber wielded to smash and break, cutting through vital fuel lines and exhaust vents. This wasn’t something he had to be careful with, a person he should bring in alive if possible, even if multiple parts was still up for debate.
Cad Bane was such a pain in the ass. The Force warned Anakin, had him turning with lightsaber raised to block the bounty hunter’s shots.
The Force, however, didn’t warn him about the ground. Ahsoka’s strafing runs finally worked, the whole shuttle careening into the ground. Anakin had a moment to see a fuel refinery plant scream past, then the shuttle slammed into the cliffs above it.
The shock sent him tumbling after Cad Bane, the two crashing into the middle of the dust cloud kicked up by the impact. Anakin rolled with the landing, snarling as his body howled protest from this new abuse even as he used the Force to keep matters from being much worse.
He couldn’t see Bane.
He could feel Hardeen.
That bastard came hurtling out of the dust, smashing into Anakin before he could find or pull his lightsaber to him.
That was fine. Beating the man to a pulp with his hands sounded just fine. They traded punches and some vicious kicks, Hardeen fighting dirty and Anakin tossing blows right back that would have had the fighting masters in the Temple screaming at him as too underhanded for a Jedi to ever use.
Not only did he not care, Hardeen blocked at least half of them.
Something about the man’s fighting style irritated Anakin, grinding away at the back of his brain as off, not right somehow. Obi-Wan’s killer danced back and forth like some primal beast, taking and returning more punishment than most humans could handle.
The Force whispered to Anakin, and he twisted away to the side. Not quite fast enough, not quite powerful enough a redirection of inertia – not enough to entirely avoid a blaster bolt. It was a glancing blow along his ribs, rather than something fatal. That was, however, enough to shatter what passed for the serenity Anakin had, disrupting his connection with the Force and sending him collapsing to the ground.
“Bane! Back off; he’s mine!”
“You had your chance,” the bounty hunter drawled, “let someone else bag a Jedi.” Bane holstered his blaster. He lazily raised an arm, shooting something from a gauntlet launcher. Anakin could see the explosives rocketing towards him, as Hardeen lunged towards Bane with a furious expression on his ugly, tattooed face. Anakin forced himself into a roll away from Bane’s ugly little gift.
He made it far enough that the explosion lifted him into the air instead of tearing him apart. He tumbled mid-air, struggling to find an up or down, and when he finally found down, it was a lot further away than it should be.
Anakin had a moment of stillness that had to be entirely in his own head, a still frame of a holo that was his life. The dust cloud had finally cleared enough that he could look down into a gorge on the far side of the refinery plant. Hardeen was shoving past Bane, the human snarling and lunging off of the high ridge, chasing after a tumbling, falling Anakin. The ships, and probably Ahsoka, were off at the edge of his field of view, and of absolutely no help.
Falling to his death. Now there was an embarrassing way to die. Anakin was finally face up, trying to get his scattered wits back enough to use the Force to slow himself, grab the cliff face, anything – but all he could do was stare up at Rako Hardeen.
The man was only meters behind him, body angled forward to lessen wind resistance. His face was a study in strange expressions; terrified, furious, and emotions being crammed down underneath...concentration...
Anakin knew that look. He gaped as Hardeen’s jacket ripped apart, shredded by glowing, golden shapes that flailed, then stroked through the air, settling into a fast, steady rhythm that drove the bounty hunter down closer to Anakin. In the Force, these – these wings were even more brilliant, made almost entirely of sheer power and nothing like flesh and bone.
The look of concentration grew, both of Hardeen’s arms outstretched towards the Jedi. Then Anakin could feel the Force gently grasping him, pulling him towards Obi-Wan’s killer.
Obi-Wan’s totally human killer, a man with extensive files saying over and over again in Anakin’s memory who had the Force sensitivity of a very ordinary rock.
Anakin knew that look. He brought his arms up, reaching for “Rako,” seeing a flash of horrified relief in almost familiar blue eyes. They clasped hands, then “Hardeen” arced back and up, wings flaring wide. Thundering downbeats flailed around Anakin as they leveled off and then rose, wind blasting around them even as it lifted them up.
Falling became flying.
Under almost any other circumstances, with almost any other being, Anakin would have screamed out joy and wonder. He would have ignored all wounds, physical or otherwise, and let himself revel in the feel of telling gravity just where to shove it.
The hands wrapped around his wrists were the right shape and feel, the callouses all correct and known, and he had to wonder how that could be, how any of this could be. They lifted up, higher and higher along the ridge, above the remains of the dust cloud. The descent back to solid ground – lower than they had been when going cliff diving – was slow, almost painful. The glowing wings sent dust and grit in every direction before Anakin dropped the last ways down, “Hardeen” folding his wings neatly and landing in a crouch nearby. As the man straightened, the wings folded close before dispersing into motes of light glimmering in the earthy particles surrounding the two.
The silence almost screamed.
Anakin broke it.
“Obi-Wan.” Hardeen stood a little straighter, posture defensively arrogant. He looked at Anakin, face expressionless behind the sneer that was the bounty hunter’s default expression. “I knew I could feel you.” Something, some emotional relative of despair flashed in Obi-Wan’s eyes.
“You!” Ahsoka snarled as she came tumbling down from higher on the ridge, landing in a defensive crouch between the men. “No funny business! Sorry I’m late, Master, but I had to make sure Bane wasn’t getting far.”
“Good job.” He didn’t take his eyes away from “Hardeen” for a moment, terrified somewhere down deep that if he did, the man would disappear. “Evol?”
“In binders, still on their ship.”
“Congratulations, Padawan,” the bounty hunter drawled in tones pure Coruscanti. “You’ve done a bang up job ruining an already difficult undercover operation. Well done.”
Ahsoka spun, lightsabers still at the ready. “What?” She glanced at Anakin. “What’s he babbling about?”
He didn’t have the heart to tell her that she hadn’t been the one the man had been addressing. “Obi-Wan. He’s not dead.”
Ahsoka made a pained little noise, glaring back at “Hardeen,” who simply dipped his head in a familiar, abbreviated bow. Her lightsabers disengaged even as her eyes went wide, mouth dropping into an inarticulate little “oh.”
Naboo, 2 days later
Anakin stood on the platform, part of the Chancellor’s “honor guard” of a dozen Jedi, all of them armed to the teeth and maintaining a polite appearance of being harmless serene little Force practitioners. He’d fought long and hard for this, holding on to his temper by the barest fingernail and somehow finding eloquence he’d never known himself to possess.
When he’d swayed both Mace and Yoda to the position that a Jedi force could stand in as protectors of the Republic in the form of the Chancellor, and how it would make for a great mark of their dedication to the war effort, Palpatine had given in.
Ani could only think that Padme had rubbed off on him. She was the speech-giver, not him.
In the back of his mind, something wounded howled that perhaps Obi-Wan had rubbed off on him, because he was a fighter, not The Negotiator.
Of course, Palpatine had apparently had a glorious idea on the speeder ride to the speech, since he singled out Obi-Wan – thank the Force, now with his own face and voice back – and brought him forward as an example of all the Jedi had done. Sacrificing his time, his identity, and—even if temporarily—his life for the Republic. All Anakin could do was grind his teeth and hope it didn’t show how much it burned to have salt shoved into those wounds.
Of course, Palpatine then had to haul him up front, and present not just the newly alive Negotiator but also the Hero Without Fear. He’s smiled his wooden smile, waved and stepped back as quickly as he could, hating that Obi-Wan did the same.
“Without fear.” Fear for his own life, perhaps. But fear for others?
That seared through him, fear verging on terror coiling through his body on an increasing basis. His wife, his student, his friends – all horribly vulnerable, and he was only one Jedi, and could only be in so many places at once.
Fear for his teacher, who had already died once this week.
It was a relief when the bounty hunters made their move.
Dooku was losing his touch. It was like the bastards weren’t even trying.
He couldn’t even get a good fight out of it, so Anakin was still on edge when Obi-Wan caught him after the celebrations were well underway.
Obi-Wan wanted to talk. Obi-Wan wanted to apologize.
He wasn’t ready to hear it, and Anakin knew himself well enough to know that in that moment, anything Obi-Wan had to say would only make things worse.
The wounded, crest-fallen look on his teacher’s face didn’t help one damn.
Coruscant, 3 days later
Anakin took another deep breath, and this time managed to rap the door chime.
Obi-Wan opened the door too fast. Damn. He had to have been on the other side, waiting to see if Anakin was going to commit or not.
He made himself meet his teacher’s eyes. “I want to talk now.”
Something flashed in Obi-Wan’s eyes, but he said nothing as he stepped aside, gesturing Anakin in.
“What, you’re not even going to ask? Poke at me about taking my time?”
They settled onto the backless seats the Temple preferred to furnish with, giving Obi-Wan plenty of time to chew on whatever it was he was going to say. He had to take his own bracing breath before looking up. “...Anakin, I’ve...I’ve gravely wounded what lies between us. Right now I would sell Republic secrets to mend that.”
“Too bad for you I’m after worse.” Anakin blinked a little as the older Jedi just bowed his head. “Tell me about yourself, Obi-Wan.”
The silence was thick enough to smother. Finally, Obi-Wan breathed in. “The people I vaguely think of as my parents found me as a newborn. I’d been spaced.” Anakin hissed out a curse, leaning forward and not sure what he intended to do. Obi-Wan met his eyes, holding up a hand. “I...was fine. I don’t like doing it, but I can survive for a time...out there.”
Siiiith. “You don’t like piloting,” Anakin murmured, finally putting together pieces that had never made sense.
“Not when I’m getting shot at, no. It’s—It’s too easy to...” Obi-Wan shuddered and looked away, shoving his hands inside his sleeves to grip his wrists – a habit Anakin hadn’t seen in a long time. “I know you like floating about up there, nothing but you, a small vehicle, and the stars, but some of us have seen it a little too intimately to enjoy it.”
“Yes. Well. That’s how the Lars couple thought I’d survived. They took me in, found nothing overly odd to me, and took decent care of me until the Jedi found me on Search.” Obi-Wan made a face. “That, of course, is when things started getting...difficult. I had no idea where I had come from. I thought the people who had raised me were my biological parents, and either way, I was a Jedi now, so what did it matter?”
“What...what are you?”
A bitter not-quite smile flickered across Obi-Wan’s face. “Part human. Part Diathim. You would not believe some of the genetic testing Qui-Gon had to request for us to find that out. No known biological relatives, though.”
Anakin shook his head, frowning a little at the species. He knew he’s heard the name before, but it was a big galaxy with a lot of inhabitants. “Diathim. Don’t think I’ve met one of those.”
“Of course we have.” Obi-Wan’s voice was studiously neutral. Anakin didn’t trust it for a moment, particularly not when the other man wasn’t looking him in the eyes again. “Iego. They – they live on the moons.”
He blinked. Then he stared. “You’re an angel?” He couldn’t keep the dry tone from his voice, disbelief coloring every word.
Obi-Wan made a face right back. “I hate that name. Yes, if you must.”
“You’re --” Anakin shook his head again. “Really?”
“The glowing Force wings weren’t good enough proof?” At least he sounded vaguely amused. “Here. We might as well get this out of the way.” Obi-Wan stood, quickly shucking off his tunics. He turned to the side, so Anakin could see part of his bare back.
A faint yellow aura started near the shoulder-blades, spreading down, then out. In the Force, it was power erupting from Obi-Wan’s skin, building out as a contained stream into the glowing wings Ani had seen before. At rest, they rose a good half meter above Obi-Wan’s head, descending in trails of coruscating honey-gold down to his ankles. They arched a little as Anakin gaped, feathering some without gaining any consistent texture.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath, a look of discomfort and concentration creasing his face. The aura flashed bright as it spread over his skin, changing what it met. The muscles in his shoulders bunched, strengthened, visibly altering to provide more power to the wings. His skin changed texture, gaining an inhuman smoothness and an almost pewter cast that glimmered in the light he radiated. It stretched the Jedi, leaving him a bit taller and looking attenuated – still powerful, but unearthly. Obi-Wan’s features sharpened, the lines to his face and nose becoming stronger even as the glow shimmered over his eyes. This seemed to leave luminous, blued metal in their place, even as he blinked, and the glowing pupils focused on Anakin.
“And there you have it.” It was still Obi-Wan, though in one of his dryer moods. He was defensively sarcastic, with a touch of caution.
“...wow.” Anakin felt a little ridiculous, being limited to that sort of response, but –
How the hell did one tell their Master that they finally understood all the spacer stories? He’d heard that angels were some of the most beautiful beings in the universe since he could remember, but-- His master? He shook his head and forced a wry grin. “Did you just get taller?”
Obi-Wan laughed, which seemed to be more relieved reaction than the joke being that funny. As he snickered, the glow drained away, from the copper sheen to his hair down until only the wings remained, more translucent and apparently given to wafting about in the breeze. “Sadly, only a bit, and it never remains without work.” His grin was a little more wry as he sat down. “I suppose if it were otherwise, I’d possibly go about like that all the time.”
“Huh. So...you didn’t look like...” Anakin waved his hand vaguely in Obi-Wan’s direction. “...any of these, really.”
“Forms, you mean? When – when you fell?” Obi-Wan tilted his head a little, perhaps in acknowledgement, perhaps discomfort. “No. I’m...rather variable. What you know, what you see most often, that is the closest to the real me. These?” He jerked a thumb towards the wings. “They take effort to hide or manifest. The full change requires continued concentration, and bloody well hurts. That’s not – that’s not me.”
He nodded slowly. “So what the fuck was with the dead but not thing?”
Obi-Wan went still, even down to the glimmering wings. Then he sighed, shoulders slumping. “It was a rather last ditch idea. Anakin, I swear to you, I fought it. I’ve seen your acting, even under the most horrific circumstances. You’d think that after the Zygerria incident, the Council would have no doubt about your skills, but...” Obi-Wan’s hands clenched into tight fists, the wings flaring out a little as pure light expanding. “They suspect there is a Force user working with Dooku. If you encountered either him, or this spy, then they were certain that your emotions would reveal--”
“That’s the worst crock I’ve heard in my entire life!”
“Believe me, I’ve said it all a dozen times over already!” Obi-Wan roared right back, on his feet and wings splayed out defensively, perhaps as a threat display.
If it hadn’t been quite such a contrast, the wings verging so close to absurd, he might have been able to hold on to his anger. Anakin slumped back. “How long did you argue with the Council?”
His master snorted and dropped down onto the other chair in his own slump. “Two and a half days worth of meetings.”
The fact that he didn’t provide the obvious followthrough spoke volumes. “What changed your mind?”
“Obi-Wan. Selling Republic secrets, remember?”
Obi-Wan’s wings drooped, and he didn’t look anywhere near Anakin. “...The threat—kidnapping or murder...of the Supreme Chancellor. It is our duty to defend the Republic.” Anakin sat on the impulse to roll his eyes and nod, in the hopes that might encourage Obi-Wan to get through the rote party line he apparently needed to state before getting to the meat of the matter. Then Obi-Wan stunned him by looking him in the eyes and being blunt. “The Supreme Chancellor, your friend, was going to be either kidnapped or killed.”
...so help me, Kenobi, you are the universe’s biggest idiot. “You couldn’t have done that without killing my best friend?”
Obi-Wan either ignored or didn’t notice the gentle, near desperate teasing. “We couldn’t find any bounty hunters that would match any of the few beings that knew of the plot. He was human. The right size. All it took was--”
“Pretending to die.”
“...please don’t do that again. I’d rather everyone I care about stay alive.”
A little smile flickered across Obi-Wan’s face. While he tilted his head in a bow, it was clear that was more acknowledgement than agreement. Silence resettled, mildly more comfortable than before. Obi-Wan finally shifted, wings resettling closer to his shoulders. “So. You said you knew I was alive? How?”
“I could feel you, through the bond.” When his master went still, not even the luminous tips of his wings moving, Anakin gave a little mental tug on the connection between them in the Force.
He wasn’t expecting the other man to wince. “Ah. Yes. Of course the Council would miss—I’m sorry. I never have been the Master you deserve.”
He blinked. “What?”
Obi-Wan gave him a look, one of the exasperated ones he hadn’t earned in awhile. “Were you listening to nothing that was said at your Knighting ceremony?”
No time like the present for the truth. “Not so much?”
Obi-Wan indulged in a moment’s worth of a nasty little glare, then he pulled himself upright into a lecturing pose. Anakin might have been taking it more seriously had his teacher not been stripped to the waist with a brand new set of glowing appendages on his back. “Why do you think it is a Master’s right, and responsibility, to sever the padwan braid?”
He shrugged. “It’s a symbol. Leaving behind the past, blah blah, can stand on your own without leaning on—Look, what’s the point here?”
“I can see you at least retained some of the words.” Obi-Wan crossed his arms and kept glaring. “It is a symbol. A symbolic severing of the braid. Creating—or gifting—a padawan’s braid is the first thing a Master does. That allows one the time and peace and ritual to create a mental bond through the Force.”
...oh. Anakin stared. “Wait, you’re telling me that when knighted, the bond gets broken too?”
“Yes.” He didn’t need to imbue it with nearly as many tones of “obviously” as he did. “Cut the braid, cut the bond.”
“...I know.” Obi-Wan’s posture went from lecturing to slightly defensive again. “Another one of my great failings. I...do not like to let go.” He took in a deep breath, not quite a sigh. “It doesn’t help that my physiology seems to encourage this misbehavior. The Force...” He made a face, his voice cold and bitter. “The Force is strong with me.”
He reached out and put a hand on his teacher’s shoulder. “I don’t mind. Hells, I’m glad of it. Please...don’t.” He bit back the request he wanted to make, knowing it would be futile. “Don’t sever it, even if you can. Please. I like knowing you’re there.”
Oh so slowly, his master’s posture relaxed. “...I shall do what I can,” he finally admitted, not feeling as grudging as he sounded.
Anakin squeezed Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “That’s always been leagues more than anyone else could do, or would even try. Thank you.”
“So.” He sat straighter. “No more secrets?”
Obi-Wan snorted and gave him the sly, sideways look that made the man seem decades younger. “Anakin, that cuts both ways.”
He held up his hands. “Hey, I’m not after confidential Council matters or anything, just—what’s between us. Please. No more secrets.” I can’t stand more shit hiding between us. I don’t want to question if you’re alive, dead, or worse, and not trust that you would tell me the truth. I need that bedrock, Master.
Obi-Wan studied them, then sighed and took Anakin’s hand, shaking it once. “Very well.” He pulled back, a touch of glare not quite hiding a gleam of mischief in his eyes. “Then just what is going on between you and ‘Senator’ Amidala?”
Anakin burst into startled laughter. It was amazing how good it felt—not just a relief, but right. He couldn’t quite help himself. “Hey now! Speak of my wife with respect!”
“Your--!” Obi-Wan’s jaw dropped. “Anakin! Little gods and spiteful demons, Anakin! The Order--!” He stopped and shook his head, shock spreading further over his features. “Hells, the Naboo think women need to quit working and build a family when—Are you mad?!”
“Maybe.” It was incredible, how easy it was to grin and shrug. Anakin could feel rightness in the Force, though all the mental floundering Obi-Wan was radiating, and that was a joyous shock as well. “But...you’ve always been there when I needed you before, Master.” Anakin indulged as he had not in ages, lunging forward into an awkward, tackling hug. Obi-Wan yelped even as he caught Anakin. Ani couldn’t quite stop a surprised squeak when Obi-Wan’s wings curled around him, a soothing, not-quite-blanket of Light and the Force wrapping him in the warmth and comfort that was Obi-Wan’s living presence. “You’ll always catch me when I fall,” Anakin declared softly, a little surprised at his own confidence, yet knowing it anyways.
“...I can only hope,” the older Jedi murmured, clinging a little tighter.
Anakin grinned, squeezing a bit and luxuriating in the sensation of reassurance and safety. There was probably several huge arguments in his future—with his wife, if not just his former Master—but he – they – could handle it.
They could handle anything.
He laughed again. Obi-Wan’s wings were warmth, comfort, protection around him. His world wasn’t falling apart anymore. He wasn’t falling, anymore. They were flying right into the teeth of the stars, and it was glorious.