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Another Chance

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There were three planets in the galaxy one could guarantee Darth Vader will never set foot on. Ruusipt was not one of those.

Obi-Wan Kenobi gathered his robe tighter around himself and scurried through the narrow alleys of Kemezet, the main city. He still didn't know why he was doing this, or why he hadn't brought his lightsaber, as every instinct was screaming he should have, but he had made a truce, and he still had his honor. He didn't know if the man he was going to meet had any, but a truce was a truce, and anyway, it was too late now. Now he could only go forward and hope he would not be confronted by a legion of stormtroopers when he reached the appointed meeting spot.

The meeting was, unsurprisingly, taking place in a hangar. Apparently some things never died, like a love for machines. It was only love for people that perished, as did the people themselves. A wave of old bitterness passed over him. He squelched the it and entered the hangar.

"So you have come," a bass voice rumbled. "I was beginning to think you wouldn't show." Obi-Wan was aware of the low hiss of mechanical breathing filling the hangar. His former Padawan walked out from behind a TIE fighter, boots clicking on the duracrete floor.

Obi-Wan hid the anguish on his face by raising his hands to lower his hood. He had seen holos of Darth Vader, of course, and heard stories, but they had not prepared him for the shock of facing his handiwork. I did that, he thought, I caused Anakin to have to live that way. He pushed away the guilt and focused on the moment. He would have only one chance at this.

He wouldn't have taken the chance at all, but Qui-Gon had insisted. For nine years the ghost of the Jedi Master had whispered and cajoled in between bouts of teaching Obi-Wan how to become one with the Force so that when he died, he could continue to speak with the living. "Go to him," Qui-Gon had said, "he needs it. He'll listen."

Obi-Wan had smiled ruefully. "He won't listen. He never listened."

"If he won't listen, at least he'll hear," Qui-Gon had countered. "Besides, it is in the nature of Masters to speak and Padawans not to listen."

Obi-Wan had sighed and returned to his meditations. But the conversation stayed with him, and Qui-Gon continued to press the point. Finally, half out of conviction and half out of exasperation, he had begun work to set up this meeting. It had taken months of carefully coded signs that only a Jedi of the Temple could read, but in the end, it had been arranged. Vader (Anakin, he's Anakin, Qui-Gon had insisted) would meet him on Ruusipt. Neither side would bring weapons. It would be a peaceful meeting, conducted under the ancient laws of truce.

Now here Obi-Wan stood, facing what Anakin had become. "You think I am that cowardly?"

Vader fixed him with a glare, and Obi-Wan could almost see Anakin's eyes narrowing at him. "No," Vader said, "I thought perhaps you had realized we have nothing to say to each other."

"That's not true," Obi-Wan said. "I think we have much to say to each other."

Vader said nothing. He merely inclined his head in a gesture that was so very much Anakin that Obi-Wan nearly gasped at the sight. 

"Anakin," Obi-Wan began softly, only to be cut off by a harsh gesture and a harsher snarl from deep within Vader's armor.

"That is not my name," Vader spat.

Obi-Wan nodded once, in acknowledgement of this statement, and continued. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have left you like that." Old pain infused his voice, and he hoped Vader heard it, and knew it for what it was.

"No," Vader agreed. "You should have died."

Obi-Wan ignored this. "I was wrong. I made mistakes. I regret them. Please forgive me."

Vader seemed indifferent to this. "Your only mistake was in blinding yourself to where the true power lay. If you had not sided with weak and foolish Jedi, you would have been powerful beyond your wildest dreams."

Now it was Obi-Wan's turn to narrow his eyes. "You don't believe that, do you?"

"I believe it was the Sith, not the Jedi, that gave me the power I needed to survive when I most needed it. I believe it is the Dark Side that gives me strength now, more than you'll ever have."

"But think of what it cost you! Your life, your friends, your wife!"

He only had a split second of warning from the Force before the Force-push slammed into him. He had expected Vader to attack him at least once, and was prepared for it, but he wasn't prepared for the scream that accompanied it.

"You will never speak of her again! It was you who turned her against me! It is your fault she is dead!"

Obi-Wan said nothing. There was nothing he could say.

"Go," Vader said. "Never come back." The unspoken threat lingered in the air. Or I will be forced to kill you. 

Obi-Wan nodded, and went. He vaguely heard the warning, of course, but that was not the thought that occupied his mind as he left to return to Tatooine. The only thought that was with him throughout the long journey was that he had tried and failed. Anakin was truly dead.