All I did was ask him to go pick up the datapads I reserved from Madame Nu. The thoughts borderline hysterical in Obi-Wan’s brain as he rushes through the halls.
Every master he passes sends him identical looks of pity - he knows word has spread by now. Obi-Wan isn’t surprised exactly. Everyone knew something was up when the usually diligent mouse droids seemed to vanish from the Temple suddenly.
Now it seems his padawan is at the center of it all.
Obi-Wan almost wants to curse Luminara. Why did she have to tell him? Obi-Wan would have been perfectly fine living in ignorance of what his padawan is doing, but now he knows, and now it’s his job to fix it.
Next time we’ll have to go together, Obi-Wan decides as he picks up the pace into a light jog, It’s obvious he can’t be left alone.
“Yeah, that’s right!” He hears the voice of his padawan, followed by the enthusiastic beeping of droids. “That’s right, you do deserve proper names! And head pats!”
A little crowd has gathered around the door that his padawan is surely behind. Masters and initiates alike crowd the door, ears or whatever hearing vestiges they possess pressed against it to try and get a better idea of what’s happening.
“Obi-Wan,” Kit Fisto pushes off the door (a Twi’lek immediately fills his spot) and offers him an easy grin. Obi-Wan feels his heart sink. Kit only smiles like that when he’s about to tease him.
“Good luck.” Is all the advice Kit offers him, along with a clap on the shoulder, before gesturing towards the door.
Obi-Wan grimaces and fights off the incoming migraine. “Excuse me,” He finally says as he approaches the door, “If I might get through,”
The crowds part, somewhat hesitantly, from the door.
Obi-Wan knocks, somewhat hesitantly, on the door. “Anakin?”
The door slides open and Obi-Wan wants to shut his eyes for just one more second of blissful ignorance. However, as Anakin’s master, he must keep them open.
Giggles echo around him, but all Obi-Wan can do is blink in disbelief.
His padawan stands surrounded by mouse droids just about every other droid you can find in the temple, arms crossed and chin raised high in defiance.
“As the representative of DDNAP, we have a few requests,” Anakin declares, eyes glancing down at the mouse droid directly to his left, who beeps in encouragement.
“Dee-Dee nap?” Obi-Wan repeats, fighting the prevalent urge to slam the door shut again.
Anakin nods and his army of droids beep in agreement, “Droids Deserve Names and Pats,” He recites easily. “They work too hard to only be called by a designation,” Another resounding applause in the form of beeps, “and to be given no praise for it!”
Obi-Wan finds himself humming in acknowledgment, “But, Anakin, what about Artoo? He only goes by his designation, and you’ve said nothing about it,”
Despite the absurdity of it all, Obi-Wan finds himself smiling. It’s been too long since he’s had to negotiate something that wasn’t life-threatening, and it’s always amusing to watch Anakin’s face get red as he flounders for a response.
As expected, Anakin’s face turns a hilarious shade of red, cherry perhaps, and his face scrunches. He begins to shift his weight from foot to foot. “Well… Artoo never… Artoo didn’t ask for a name!” He finally decides as a defense, “I’ll ask Artoo if there’s a name he’d prefer to go by but these droids here want names now!” The droid at his feet whistles, “And pats!”
“So am I to believe that this will evolve into a strike if your conditions are not met?” Obi-Wan inquires, doing his best to treat this as seriously as possible. He imagines Anakin will not be pleased if he laughs at him.
Anakin pauses and turns slightly to the mass of droids behind him, conferring with his union members, as all good leaders do, “Yes!” He responds when he finally turns back, “That’s exactly what we’ll do!”
Anakin nods decisively and smiles, as if about to deliver the killing blow, “I won’t go to my classes until you agree to these terms.”
Obi-Wan can’t stop the chuckle that escapes him here, and doesn’t even regret it when he sees the look on Anakin’s face, “This whole union started, I believe, because you wouldn’t do what your classes assigned you. How ever did you manage to negotiate a strike when I sent you to pick up datapads?”
“I was gonna get those datapads!” Anakin objects, “I swear! I just got… caught up.”
“Caught up in procrastinating?”
Anakin’s face scrunches like it does when he hears a word he doesn’t know. Obi-Wan knows Anakin will approach him later tonight, a bit sheepishly, and politely request to know what it means.
“The droids want names.” Anakin’s voice is firm. In any other scenario, one where he isn’t currently giving Obi-Wan gray hairs that will all be named, just like his droids, Obi-Wan would think that Anakin would make a very good union leader.
Just to tease him, just to see how far he’ll go, Obi-Wan tilts his head. “What will you do if I refuse to adhere to your wishes?”
The droids all quiver in rage, and the one at Anakin’s feet let’s out a particularly terrifying blat.
Anakin’s eyes narrow, much too serious for the absurdity of the situation, “Master, you can barely clean the kitchen once you’ve used it,” He points out, and the ensuing giggles from the crowd that is still gathered behind Obi-Wan makes him flush, “Do you really think you can survive without these droids picking up after you?”
Obi-Wan’s face sours. So the little brat is playing dirty then? “I could always make you clean up after me.”
Obi-Wan’s huff can only be described as defeated. “Well, you appear to have backed me into a corner,” He splays his hands out in surrender, “You have been a worthy opponent, Anakin Skywalker.”
Anakin’s face breaks out into a grin, and all the droids surrounding him whistle and beep for joy. “We did it!” The boy cries, turning around and dropping to his knees before the mass of machines. The droids all bump affectionately into him, ramming his kneecaps with all the tenderness of a battering ram. “So maybe you can all line up and tell me what you want your names to be? And I can make a list and make sure everyone gets a copy!”
The droids quiet down. One brave training droid beeps at him from the back.
“You don’t know what you want your names to be?” Anakin repeats, mouth dropping open. “Why did you all make this union?” He sounds more scandalized than any eleven year old ought to be.
The droid beeps back at him.
“What do you mean I forced you into it?!”
Before any droid can respond, Anakin rises to his feet. He stomps towards Obi-Wan and begins shoving him towards the door, “Give us a minute, Master,” He demands, grunting when Obi-Wan digs his heels in, “I have to speak with my associates.”
And so Obi-Wan finds himself waiting back outside the closed door, which has gathered even more of a crowd. Even Master Yoda, it seems, has heard about the fuss.
“Been too long it has since a good droid rebellion,” The wizened master muses, tapping his stick against the ground. “Too long indeed.”
“Not long enough,” Master Windu grumbles, “The mess hall is…”
“A mess?” Obi-Wan supplies, very clearly enjoying the unamused look he gets in response.
Windu crosses his arms, “Your padawan had better make this worth it. The productivity of these droids better be through the roof.”
Obi-Wan can feel frustration leaking through Anakin’s side of the training bond. He sends a burst of reassurance that he hopes Anakin will understand. Quite honestly, Obi-Wan hopes Anakin succeeds. It’s been too long since he’s seen his padawan actively passionate about something that doesn’t have to do with the Senate's rising tension. He’s glad Anakin gets a chance to indulge in more childlike things for once.
The door finally opens and Anakin stands there, looking much more disheveled than he had when he pushed Obi-Wan out. His hair sticks out in tufts, as though he pulled on it in moments of exasperation.
“Okay, I think I’ve got a pretty good list,” He offers up a datapad that Windu snatches before Obi-Wan can even reach for it.
“Over half of the names on this list are yours, ” Windu points out, gaze switching between the datapad and the padawan as though he doesn’t know which to believe less.
Anakin shrugs, “A lot of them wanted to use my name, I dunno why.”
“Well,” Obi-Wan looks at the datapad over Windu’s shoulder, “I suppose we may have to number the Anakin’s at the very least,”
“I’m the first Anakin,” The boy reminds his master, “I’m Anakin Number One.”
Obi-Wan purses his lips, “That’s not what it says on the list.”
Obi-Wan offers him the pad, “It seems like this little droid will be Anakin Number One,” He points to the respective droid, who quivers in excitement, “You’ll have to be…” He makes a show of scrolling to the very bottom of the list, “Anakin Number Sixty Six.”
Anakin snatches the datapad and holds it too close to his face to be good for his eyes, “What? But I’m the first Anakin!” His voice is whiny in the way it only gets when Obi-Wan forces him to meditate before bed.
“Not according to the list.”
By the end of the day, when the names are mostly figured out, Anakin Number Sixty Six is fast asleep in his bed.
Being the leader of a union that doesn’t even know what it wants is hard work.
Despite Anakin’s promises of increased productivity, there seems to be nothing of the sort.
The droids often spend too much time butting into each other over perceived name theft. On the first occasion that it happened right in front of both Obi-Wan and Anakin, Anakin immediately dropped to his knees to sort out the problem.
“You said that your name is Suzie?”
A beep in confirmation.
“But you think that your name is Suzie, too?”
Another set of beeps, these ones more accusatory than the last.
“You can both be Suzie!” Anakin tries to assure them, as though some of the droids don’t genuinely call him Anakin Number Sixty Six.
They both beep angrily at him.
“What do you mean you don’t want to share a name?”
It came as no surprise to anyone when Mace Windu sent Obi-Wan a very detailed complaint about the decrease in droid productivity and an increase in droid-related collateral damage.
Keep a closer eye on him, the complaint commanded, and the sentence was even underlined twice just so that Obi-Wan was sure of its importance.
Obi-Wan isn’t panicking. He’s… keeping in mind past events and using them to conclude what may happen this time. In fact, the possibilities are endless here in the under levels of Coruscant, where a boy like Anakin could get into all sorts of trouble.
It was as if between one blink and the next Anakin vanished from his side.
Now, Anakin is fully capable of taking care of himself. He’s frighteningly competent with a lightsaber and in the cockpit of any type of ship imaginable at seventeen. However, Obi-Wan is not too blind to admit that Anakin seems to get into trouble when left alone for more than one minute.
The training bond jerks with shock before it shifts into annoyance.
Perhaps Obi-Wan is too generous in his estimate of one minute.
He quickens his pace. The bond's agitation only grows with each passing second, and Obi-Wan can hear a commotion up ahead.
Despite how he prays to the Force, he knows his padawan will be in the middle of it all.
“I didn’t say you were stupid, ” Anakin’s voice rings out and Obi-Wan feels his heart drop to his stomach, “I said your idea is stupid. There’s a difference.”
Obi-Wan is running now. He is never bringing his padawan here again. Force, he’ll never be allowed to come here again. The owner of this rundown little bar already had problems with Jedi coming by every time they needed information about something. This will surely be the last straw.
Anakin and, oh Force, the biggest besalisk Obi-Wan has ever seen - bigger than Dex and even Master Pong Krell, whose presence seems to loom over everyone he’s around - are nose to nose. Well, Anakin’s nose is more in line with the besalisk’s collarbone.
Anakin is spewing out facts and numbers in relation to speeders that all go over Obi-Wan’s head. Maybe in another situation, Obi-Wan would have the presence of mind to listen, when his padawan isn’t provoking someone with rings on every finger that would no doubt hurt if they came in contact with - oh dear.
Obi-Wan watches in slow motion as two of the besalisk’s four fists collide with his padawan: one to the face and one to the solar plexus.
The bond flares with pain and disbelief. He can hear the pop of what is surely a broken nose as his padawan crumples to the ground in a heap.
The crowd that had gathered around cheers.
Obi-Wan skitters to a stop and kneels down. His padawan blinks back up at him in a daze. His nose, what little of it Obi-Wan can make out through the blood, is most definitely broken.
“Is he yours?” The besalisk asks, and Obi-Wan takes a moment to think that the besalisk’s remaining two hands may just have his name on them if he can’t get out of this situation fast.
“Unfortunately,” Obi-Wan responds and pinches at Anakin’s ribs, right where he knows Anakin is sensitive. “This one just can’t manage to stop getting in trouble.”
The besalisk grunts, “You don’t punish those… paddywans of yours at the temple?”
Anakin begins to grumble and stir again at the deliberate butchering of his title but quiets after another pinch to the ribs.
“Oh, most extensively,” Obi-Wan assures him, “But it seems as though nothing we ever do seems to sink in,” He rises to his feet. “I apologise for any disruption my padawan has caused. In fact, all of your drinks can be placed on the Temple’s tab for the rest of the night.”
Obi-Wan is a dead man once he returns to the Temple, he just knows it.
The besalisk’s face lights up, as do his companions.
Yes, Obi-Wan is surely a dead man once the bill arrives at the Temple.
“Come along,” Obi-Wan pulls Anakin up as gently as he can manage, careful not to jostle him too much. He can feel through the bond how winded his padawan is after the punch to the sternum.
The walk back to the temple is cumbersome at best.
“Master, I think I’ve broken some ribs,” Anakin whines, doing his best to impede Obi-Wan’s walkway. His voice is ridiculously nasally and he puts a great deal of effort into keeping his head tilted back.
Obi-Wan sighs and shifts his arm so that it isn’t pinned between him and his dramatic padawan, “If they are, then it must be the will of the Force,” He responds sagely, keeping the grin out of his voice as best he can.
“Master, what if I’m in serious danger? What if these are my last moments and all you have to say are jokes?” Anakin tangles his feet into Obi-Wan’s path, almost sending the both of them careening towards the duracrete.
“Anakin, the only danger you’ll be in is when Master Che finds out how you managed to hurt yourself this time.”
Anakin’s face sours, “I didn’t hurt myself, Master. That very rude -”
“You antagonized him and you know it. I swear, Anakin,” Obi-Wan shakes his head, “It’s as if the second I look away you go looking for trouble.”
“I don’t go looking for trouble,” Anakin defends weakly, words slightly diminished by the way he gurgles around the phlegm that has built up from the angle of his head and neck, “Trouble finds me.”
Obi-Wan hums. The temple is pulling into view. It shouldn’t be much longer then. “Be sure to tell her that then.”
The next morning, when Anakin’s nose was successfully reset and the both were given the riot act from a very angry Vokara Che, Obi-Wan is summoned into the Council room.
“Good morning, Masters,” He greets pleasantly, as though he doesn’t know exactly what the datapad held in Master Windu’s hands contains.
“Care to explain why the Temple is being billed over three thousand credits in alcohol?”
Obi-Wan’s smile falters. Three thousand credits? What, did that besalisk pay for the whole club’s drinks? Obi-Wan had planned on explaining it as truthfully as he could - perhaps omitting a few details here and there to save his padawan a least a little dignity - but this is more than he expected. “Would you believe me if I said it was Anakin’s fault?”
The whole Council exchanges looks.
Mace Windu’s forehead vein bulges and Yoda’s ears flicker in acceptance.
Yes, Obi-Wan thinks smugly as he watches his padawan resign himself to life as a clan of crechlings jungle gym for a considerable future, they would.
“Having a padawan was supposed to temper you, Anakin,”
“What was I supposed to do, Obi-Wan?” Anakin throws his hands out at said padawan, who is at least doing her best to look chastened, “She dared me to.”
Obi-Wan’s hands clench and his eye twitches. He feels a gray hair come in. “Did neither of you read the file I sent on the history of this planet?”
Both his padawans - and that’s what they were, truly. Perhaps more like his stressors - share a look. Ahsoka finds the tips of her fingers very interesting, perhaps because of the last remaining traces of bug guts and slime on them. Anakin shifts his weight from foot to foot, just like he always does when he’s uncomfortable.
“Is that a no?”
“Obi-Wan, we never read the information you send us!” Anakin whines, “That’s your job. You do the boring stuff, and Ahsoka and I do the cool lightsaber tricks.”
“And where ,” Obi-Wan begins carefully, “Does eating a sacred bug with believed magical properties fit into cool lightsaber tricks?”
Anakin flushes. “Ahsoka dared me to,” he says again.
Another gray hair pops into place. Obi-Wan thinks he’ll name the first one Anakin and the second one Ahsoka.
“I expected you to be able to refrain from childish dares while I spoke to the Prime Minister. I see I was wrong. ” Obi-Wan will feel bad for his harsh words when the diplomatic crisis has been averted.
See, it wasn’t just any bug that Anakin so foolishly ate. It was this planet’s most cherished and sacred bug, one of the last of its kind and the Prime Minister’s pet.
This planet, Outer Rim - not because of how dangerous and backwater it was but because of how far removed from the war and all things involved with it - but extremely advantageous if a partnership was established, was so close to being under Republic control.
Obi-Wan foolishly believed that he could leave his grown padawan alone with his apprentice for just a few moments while he finalized the alliance with the Prime Minister. He was given his rude awakening, so cruel yet so familiar to him, by the sound of shrieks coming from outside the ornate throne room he and the Prime Minister were in.
The two of them rushed towards the commotion and found a crowd gathered in the gardens where, of course, Anakin was in the middle.
Caught red-handed, with drops of bug slime still dotting the corners of his lips, Anakin only smiled and waved to Obi-Wan.
Now the three Jedi are locked in what is practically a prison cell while the Prime Minister and her officials speak directly to Masters Yoda and Windu.
Obi-Wan almost thinks that life imprisoned here will be far better than whatever look of disbelief will undoubtedly be on Windu’s face when they return.
“Ahsoka, you at least didn’t eat any bugs, did you?” Obi-Wan looks at his grand-padawan with the utmost hope and belief but feels it start to wither and fade at her sheepish look.
“Well, there was this one, ” Ahsoka’s voice climbs higher and higher by the second while Obi-Wan’s stomach sinks lower and lower, “But it wasn’t the same kind that Skyguy ate!” She’s quick to assure him. “That bug was huge. The one I ate was little. And green!”
Obi-Wan’s stomach hits rock bottom. He wishes his padawan’s would stop telling him incriminating details.
If they had bothered to read the information he had sent, they would know that this planet's sacred bugs go through five stages of life. The final one, their most important and revered, is when the bug is at its biggest. It will be approximately the width of two hands side by side and a vibrant shade of orange. It’s very first stage of life is its smallest. Only about the size of a pebble, but a very striking hue of green.
Obi-Wan feels a little green himself. He hopes the Prime Minister finds out about the second bug when they are far into hyperspace.
“Don’t tell anyone that,” He demands, and Ahsoka nods furiously.
It isn’t until the three of them are back on a ship, profuse apologies still bitter in their mouths, that Obi-Wan allows himself to feel guilty about his harsh words to his padawan.
He knows, even though Anakin would never tell him, that he’s just trying to make Ahsoka’s life fun. Less like that of a child soldier and more like the fourteen year old girl she deserves to be. Obi-Wan has no problems with that, he encourages it actually. He only wishes Anakin wouldn’t put a much needed alliance with a foreign planet in such turmoil.
Obi-Wan’s feet guide him to the cockpit before he actually has a plan. He sinks into the co-pilot’s chair and tries not to frown as Anakin shifts his body ever so slightly away.
“So,” He finally says, “How did that bug taste?” Despite his earlier frustration, Obi-Wan genuinely wants to know. It didn’t look like it would taste very good - all textured skin and spindly legs.
Anakin shoots him a look over his shoulder and, upon seeing Obi-Wan’s look of pure curiosity, he smiles. “Honestly? Pretty sweet. It was a little gross.”
“Really?” Obi-Wan feels his own smile spread across his face, “Was it crunchy at all? It’s shell looked incredibly tough.”
“I thought I cut open the inside of my mouth when I finally broke the shell!” Anakin exclaims, perking up like he was just waiting for someone to ask that question. “I thought I broke my tooth, honestly,”
From that point on, Ahsoka does a good job of reigning in her master. She takes careful measures to skim the information sent to her for any sacred plant or animal or food to be wary of.
But of course… Ahsoka doesn’t stay forever. In her absence, Anakin falls back into Obi-Wan’s waiting arms, where he will stay - Council be damned - until he feels safe enough to be back on his own two feet.
Even then, Anakin sticks to Obi-Wan’s side for each mission and no one says anything.
Good, Obi-Wan thinks. He deserves at least one comfort, if nothing else.
It became routine after that. Obi-Wan would be given a mission, and he would look over his shoulder to see Anakin bounding after him like a puppy. It was inconvenient, sure, to send two of their best generals on the same missions, but the Council could not deny both their success rate and the lack of property damage when the two of them stuck together.
On the same hand, Anakin found himself falling into habit. When given orders from anyone, he would find himself shooting Obi-Wan a look just to get reassurance that yes, we’ll go together. Even on top-secret missions from the Chancellor, where he is given strict instructions not to tell anyone for the good of the Republic , he goes with Obi-Wan. Because Obi-Wan isn’t ‘anyone.’ He’s Obi-Wan. Why would they not go together?
Honestly, he’s grateful for Obi-Wan. He never said it, but he struggled when Ahsoka left. It’s even harder now, knowing that she’s back but not back. She’s off to Mandalore with Rex and her own company, all of them with her face painted on their helmets, to capture Maul. She was so close to him that day but so far, and all Anakin had wanted to do was wrap her in a hug.
The worst was when she had first left. The first few days were torture. Anakin would wake up alone in an apartment meant for two people, with pieces of his padawan still carved into it despite her absence, and act like the sight of it didn’t cut him to the bone.
Yet, there Obi-Wan would be. Sometimes sleeping on the couch, despite the way he would complain about it in the morning, and other times right there when Anakin would walk out the door with a time slot signed out in the training rooms.
Spending all this time with Obi-Wan, regretfully, took him away from the chancellor. He knew the old man was trying to help, always offering to let Anakin come up to his office for a safe place to vent about the Order’s wrongdoings. But… but Anakin figured that maybe Obi-Wan needed him too.
Ahsoka was their padawan, not just Anakin’s. Obi-Wan must have been missing her just as horribly.
So, Anakin finds himself in a pickle. The light on his comm blinks at him to remind him of who’s on the other side.
“My boy, we just haven’t spoken in so long. That master of yours has been keeping you far too busy. I was wondering if you’d like to come to the opera with me tonight. The show is supposed to be simply to die for,” Palpatine’s wise voice echoes from the speakers.
Oh. Well, that isn’t so hard after all. Anakin won’t have to manage his time between the chancellor and his master because his master loves the opera. Actually, Anakin is glad the chancellor invited him and Obi-Wan, because he couldn’t get Obi-Wan to shut up about the damn opera he wouldn’t be able to go to.
“That sounds excellent,” Anakin responds, already getting up to track Obi-Wan down. (He isn’t far, he never is, but Anakin can never figure out why that is.) “Hey, Obi-Wan,” he covers the speaker of his comm just so that the chancellor isn’t subjected to a conversation that doesn’t include him, “Do you wanna come to the opera tonight? The chancellor invited us.”
Obi-Wan shoots to his feet, “Anakin!” He sounds scandalized. “I wish you would have told me earlier! I’m hardly dressed to go to the opera,” He smooths out invisible creases on his robes and pats down imperceptible flyaways. “Tell the chancellor that sounds lovely, and be sure to thank him for the offer.” He disappears out the door without a second thought.
Anakin stares after him as he raises the comm to his mouth, “Obi-Wan said we can go,” He informs his old friend cheerfully. How wonderful, two of his favorite people all together in one place. The only thing that could make tonight better would be if Padmé could come. Maybe the chancellor could extend an invite to her too…
“Oh, no, my boy,” the chancellor would sound disgruntled if he had been anyone else, “Tonight is just for you and -”
“He’s very excited,” Anakin continues, accidentally cutting the man off, “He just ran off to primp and preen before the show.”
The line is silent for a moment. Anakin swears he can hear a soft sigh for a second before he dismisses it as a trick of the transmission.
“How wonderful,” Palpatine intones flatly.
“Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?” Palpatine leans forward, doing his best to keep his voice low enough so that Anakin’s leech of a master doesn’t hear. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The fool is so thoroughly enraptured in the opera that it will surely take a bomb going off to take his attention off the stage.
And yet -
Obi-Wan snorts softly, “Well, he can’t be too wise to have become a Sith,” He muses softly, eyes still trained on the singers.
Anakin grins, shooting Obi-Wan a sly look, “Good one, Master,” He nudges the man with his elbow before turning back to Palpatine. He seems desperate to look at anything that isn’t the truly dull play, even some crackpot story about a Sith.
“Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith,” Palpatine continues, speeding past his momentary blinding rage at Kenobi’s interjection, “So powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life... He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. He became so powerful... the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. It's ironic he could save others from death, but not himself.”
Anakin’s eyebrows pinch together, and Sidious feels the corners of his lips quirk up. He’s got the boy, hook, line and sinker.
“What a sad existence,” Obi-Wan mumbles, leaning back into his seat, “Forced to remain alive all because of one man’s selfishness. No man should get the power to decide when someone becomes one with the Force,” he strokes his beard in that way the holonet goes crazy for when they see it, “Is it even truly love when you can’t accept their passing?”
That catches Anakin’s attention. He drags his gaze away from Palpatine, “What do you mean, Master? Wouldn’t that be the… the biggest declaration of love there can be? Finding the power to cheat death to keep your loved ones alive and with you?”
“Of course it is, my boy,” Palpatine rushes out, desperate to get his attention again. He’s so close. All he needs to do is let it sink in, let Anakin connect the dots of what he must do to save his precious Padmé.
“No, Anakin,” Kenobi speaks over him, decorum be damned in the face of a teachable moment. “That’s not love, that’s attachment. When you love someone, you can let them go and be comforted in the knowledge that they are safe in the Force, and you’ll see them again someday.”
“But…” Anakin’s face pinches in that annoyingly childish way that Sidious can’t stand, “But aren’t love and attachment… the same?”
“Of course they are, Anakin,” Palpatine tries again but is quickly derailed.
Obi-Wan chuckles fondly, “No, Anakin. Jedi can love, of course they can, but that love can’t fall into obsession. When we become too attached to things and people to let them go, we come in danger of Falling. This Darth Plagueis subjected his loved ones, if you can even call them that, into a life of misery by keeping them alive when it was their time to go.
And, suddenly the Force feels lighter. Anakin looks at his master in a new light, as if a realization has struck him, and Sidious feels his plans crumble into dust around him.
He can feel his face twist and his hands grip at the armrests in barely contained rage. His teeth gnash together and it's almost a shock the Jedi don’t hear it. But Anakin is too stuck up in his own head, lost somehow despite the fact that there’s nothing in it , and Obi-Wan has been absorbed back into the opera.
Sidious can fix this. He can… he’ll fix it. He hasn’t come this far to not succeed.
“Chancellor,” Anakin greets, glancing over his shoulder at the empty space for the third time in the span of 40 seconds, “We have just received a report from Master Fisto. He’s engaged General Grievous.” It feels wrong, being anywhere without Obi-Wan by his side. He can’t stop himself from looking every couple of seconds, as if maybe this time Obi-Wan will have appeared.
“We can only hope that he is up to the challenge,” Palpatine responds, and if Anakin wasn’t so caught up in his own feelings of discomfort he would realize how disinterested Palpatine sounds.
The two of them continue walking down the hallway, Anakin chewing on his lip and periodically checking over his shoulder.
“My boy,” Palpatine finally says when it’s clear Anakin has no response, “It upsets me to see how the Council doesn’t fully appreciate your talents. You should have been the one to go after Grievous.”
Anakin frowns and shakes his head, “No, Obi-Wan said after realizing I wasn’t properly taught the difference between love and attachment I still have much to learn about the Force. He says that my being brought to the Temple late -”
“Your master doesn’t trust you, Anakin,” Palpatine interjects. “All the Jedi are afraid of your true power. You must break through the fog of lies the Jedi created around you. Let me help you learn the subtleties of the Force,”
Anakin wants Obi-Wan with him right now. His skin begins to crawl, and he shifts his weight to his back foot, “How do you know the ways of the Force?”
Palpatine shrugs like the topic is one that calls for nonchalance, “My mentor taught me everything about the Force… even the nature of the Dark Side.”
Anakin’s hand drops to his saber, “You know the Dark side?” Where is Obi-Wan? Obi-Wan should be here, they’re never apart.
Palpatine says something in return, begging Anakin to use his knowledge, but Anakin can’t focus. His brain fogs and his eyes hurt, like he’s gone too long without blinking. He feels his mouth move in response, but nothing registers, nothing until his feet move on their own accord and he’s running down the hallway.
Obi-Wan! He screams through the bond they never severed, and he can feel his presence nearing.
“Anakin!” The words are spoken aloud, and the two of them nearly collide as Anakin rounds a corner. Obi-Wan is out of breath.
“C’mon!” Anakin grabs Obi-Wan by the wrist and pulls him along, “Gotta find Windu!”
Obi-Wan stumbles after him but quickly finds a rhythm. He doesn’t pull his hand from Anakin’s grip. “Anakin, what’s wrong? Why are we running, I thought you were with the chancellor,”
“Sith!” Is all Anakin can find in himself to respond.
And that’s how Anakin and Obi-Wan find themselves pacing the Council Room as Windu, Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin and Luminara Undulii attempt to arrest the chancellor in the best-case scenario.
“I can’t do this,” Anakin whispers to the window, “I can’t just sit here and watch.” He turns and marches towards the doors. Someone falls into step with him.
Obi-Wan walks next to him, “Where are we going?”
We. The words warm Anakin’s heart like the twin suns of his home planet.
“They’ll need our help,” Anakin tells him, “They can’t take him on without us.”
By the time the two of them finally make it to the chancellor’s chambers, Masters Kolar and Tiin have already been struck down and Luminara is dangerously wounded. Obi-Wan and Anakin have no time to mourn as they ignite their sabers in unison and jump into the fray.
Between the two of them and Mace, they have Sidious in a corner frighteningly fast.
“Anakin, I told you it would come to this!” Sidious shouts, empty-handed and running out of tricks fast.
“You fool,” Windu spits, “The oppression of the Sith will never return. Your plot to control the Republic is over. You’ve lost.”
Sidious snarls. “No!” He shouts, “No, no no! You’ll all die!” He raises both his hands and twin bolts of lightning shoot from them, each of them only barely blocked by Windu and Obi-Wan.
“Come to your senses,” Sidious has to raise his voice over the strained grunts of Obi-Wan and Windu as they struggle to hold back the lightning. “The Jedi will betray you just as they have betrayed the Republic!”
Anakin feels his heart beating faster than it ever has before. He… he trusted Palpatine. Told him things he never told anyone before. But now he’s… now he’s hurting Obi-Wan. He’s hurting Windu. Anakin’s family.
Well, the choice was simple really.
The shining blue blade cuts through the mass of flesh easily. The lightning fades until all the remains is the scent of ozone remains. Sidious’ body slumps to the ground.
It’s… anticlimactic in a way. Anakin was expecting more when he thought about killing the Big Bad of the galaxy but… at the end of the day, Sidious was just a man. And no man is lightsaber proof.
Anakin moves on autopilot. He takes a brief look at Obi-Wan, notes how his hair is sticking straight up and his clothes are slightly singed but he looks relatively unharmed. They’ll inspect more closely, Anakin decides as they lift Luminara as gently as possible without aggravating the wound across her torso, when the aftermath is dealt with.
The aftermath takes longer than the final battle did, to be honest. It’s all legalities and confirmations that no, we were not committing treason by killing the figurehead of our government, we were dealing with a Sith Lord. Very boring stuff.
And after the aftermath, Anakin finds himself walking down the Temple steps with a bag in one hand and the other arm slung around Ahsoka’s shoulders, both of their belts empty of any lightsaber. She chatters in his ear all about Mandalore and what snippy remark she had for Maul.
“He said you were going to fall,” She scoffs, “Can you believe that?”
Anakin laughs, “Well, that guy went crazy a long time ago.”
Footsteps pound down the steps after them. The two of them share a look and turn.
Obi-Wan Kenobi brackets Anakin’s other side, his belt just as bare as theirs are, “Where are we going?”
“Obi-Wan…” Anakin trails off in disbelief. Did Obi-Wan leave the Order? Why? The Order was his life. Why would he throw it away just for Anakin?
“Where are we going?” He repeats, like it’s the easiest thing in the world to fall into step with the two of them - with Anakin.
Ahsoka takes pity on her former master, “Padmé went into labor this morning,” Her eyebrow markings wriggle at Obi-Wan, “Skyguy has been very bad, ”
“Ah,” Obi-Wan takes the information in stride, “Well it was bound to happen eventually. I don’t know how the two of you thought you were being subtle. The whole Council had bets placed as to when you’d finally come clean.”
“What?” Anakin doesn’t shriek. His voice is just… shrilly and very high pitched. That’s all.
“Well, come along, Anakin. Your child won’t wait for you to arrive to come out.” Obi-Wan continues down the steps as though he isn’t shaking the very core of Anakin’s foundation. “Have either of you been told the gender yet?”
“N-no,” Anakin stumbles down the steps to catch up to the both of them, “No, Padmé and I were trying to keep it a secret. I’ve been trying to tell her we’re having a -”
“A girl,” He and Obi-Wan finish together and share a grin.
“Good,” Obi-Wan nods approvingly, “Maker help us all if we have another Skywalker boy running around.”
Ahsoka scoffs, “No way,” She denies, “It’ll be a boy. When has the galaxy ever made anything easy for us?” She quickens her pace, going down the stairs two at a time, “C’mon! I wanna see my nephew,”
“Yes,” Obi-Wan agrees, following suit, “I’m quite eager to meet my niece,”
“Both,” Obi-Wan whispers in disbelief, staring down at the sleeping but not peaceful face of Leia Naberrie-Skywalker. Even in slumber, Leia’s face is scrunched tight around her pacifier as though she’s fighting with the figures in her dreams. He only just managed to quiet her down so as to not wake up her brother.
“Both,” Ahsoka whispers in agreement, twiddling her fingers in front of little Luke Naberrie-Skywalker’s nose, who snuffs in wonder at the orange-tinted fingers. Luke, at least, seems to be much more pacifistic than his sister.
They share a look, twin smiles tinged with hysteria, before looking back down at their respective babies.
Padmé and Anakin are taking a much needed nap. Apparently birthing twins and killing Sith Lords takes a lot out of people.
“Well,” Ahsoka strokes the feather-soft whisps atop Luke’s head, “It’s like I said. When has the galaxy ever made anything easy for us?”
Obi-Wan peeks out the doorway, where he can see Anakin and Padmé curled onto Padmé’s state of the art maternity bed, the both of them snoring peacefully. “Oh, I don’t know. This has to be easier than fighting a war,”
“With Skywalker genes?” Ahsoka scoffs, “Don’t count on it.”
Leia grunts in his arms and both Ahsoka and Obi-Wan tense. Luke squeals as though he can sense his sister’s distress - and Obi-Wan suspects he can. The both of them are shining beacons in the Force.
With a mighty yawn, the pacifier drops from Leia’s mouth, and she takes the opportunity to scream.
But Obi-Wan only smiles and bounces her in his arms, voice as low and soothing as he can get it.
This is his family. They can scream all they want, but he isn’t going anywhere.