The flames consuming him have long since gone out, but Anakin thinks they must still be licking his flesh, dissolving his skin, devouring his lungs, with how much every part of him hurts.
Letting that pain consume him, allowing the Force to envelop him and take away everything completely, is almost too much not to welcome. Yet Anakin snarls and spits his curses at death, long after Obi-Wan has left and the shape of Padme's ship blinks away into space. He does not allow it to take him.
There's no one here that can hear his rabidly lowering cries now, save droids that lack the ability to deviate from their programming, and miners who pass him by without a second glance.
(Vader almost feels joy when he razes the place months later, killing each miner as slowly as possible, allowing them to know intimately the feeling of crying for help and having nobody answer. Almost.)
It isn't long before even his resolve to be aloof breaks, and instead of cursing his name, Anakin is begging for Obi-Wan to come back, even when he knows the older man has long since left the volcanic moon. When his lungs deteriorate completely from the noxious fumes, and his throat feels like he's swallowing shard of glass, he sobs through their dormant bond. Screams. Wails.
He's fucked up before, hasn't he? But Obi-Wan has always been there to forgive him. To side with him. To convince him that there is always a way to fix things.
Anakin wants him to return over the crest of the hill so badly that it aches worse than his mangled, charred flesh. He stares at it, retinas burning from the heat of the lava river nearby (he can't blink, his eyelids have since melted into place halfway down his eyeballs). He pleads, shouting his love at a mute bond, shouts it until he can barely even recognize the word anymore.
Eventually, someone does come to pick up his mutilated body, and for one half-coherent moment, Anakin believes it to be Obi-Wan. But t isn't. It's only someone he will also learn to resent calling Master, and never, ever truly care for.
Anakin doesn't want Palpatine's whispers through the Force, urging him to live. He wants Obi-Wan's gentle firmness, egging him on and encouraging him.
He doesn't want medi-droids tearing his crisped, dead flesh from red muscles and slicing him open to replace half of his body with machines. He wants Padmé's tender hands and soft words, calming him and cooling him, telling him everything will be just fine.
(Where is Padmé where is Padmé where is Padmé? When he loses all other coherent thought, that races through his mind like a mantra. A prayer to the stars. Constant and loud and painful.)
When he awakens, is reborn, as Darth Vader, he discards Anakin Skywalker like an old cloak. Throws away his name, his face, everything that was ever a part of him, because everything that made Anakin Skywalker who he was IS gone.
Save for Kenobi.
Anakin wouldn't have killed him. Despite his fury, he couldn't have done it. He would have hurt him, yes. But never killed him. Death was too final.
Vader is the opposite. He doesn't need fury to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi now. He just needs a lightsaber. The Force. And lacking those things, his hands.
He would have given Obi-Wan the respect of watching him die. That, at least, he would have done. Not left him alone to burn.
So Vader does what Anakin Skywalker always did, and chased after Obi-Wan Kenobi. And like Anakin Skywalker, he never quite caught up. Not until Obi-Wan deemed it necessary.
Vader is given his chance for revenge decades later, killing a tired, old man that looks nothing like his former Master. An old man that doesn't even put up a fight.
Vader rails at the Force for that. At the sheer unfairness of it.
He expected happiness to finally grace him with Obi-Wan Kenobi's death, but instead he feels lost. Yes, he relished that one final execution stroke, but nothing after. He'd expected death gurgles, pleading,
being told he was still loved, but none of that had happened. Instead, he was left with, most curious and vexing of all, an empty cloak and a lightsaber.
Vader is well accustomed to anger. Regret is something he hasn't felt this fiercely in much too long.
After toeing the cloak to make sure this wasn't some form of trick, Vader painfully stoops to scoop up the lightsaber. His helmet readout gives him all the technical information he needs. It's old, but functional. Many parts have been replaced, but Vader still recognizes the black ridged handgrip, which occupies the central third of the hilt, and the throttle-style activator, the same sort Anakin Skywalker had once emulated for his own lightsaber design.
He becomes so lost in examining it that he hardly notices the Corellian freighter making its escape. He turns from Kenobi's "remains' and clips the lightsaber to his belt, making some offhand comment to the Stormtroopers near him to capture them, knowing full well the tractor beam is deactivated and that they can't. Vader doesn't care. He intends to retreat back into the relative comfort of his personal quarters and, more importantly, his mediation sphere. He wants to look at this lightsaber at least once with his actual eyes before shipping it off to Vjun.
That's when it hits him. A strange, powerful tug in the Force; something inaudible that urges him to turn back around.
The pile of cloaks and tunics is gone, and in their stead stands a young man garbed in nearly similar Jedi attire, looking just as confused as everyone else in the entrance to the hanger bay. Even Vader is shocked into inaction, but only for a moment.
Instinct takes over, and he ignites his lightsaber. The red plasma blade screeches out, and the young man's grey eyes widen at it before narrowing in disgust.
Strange. Vader expects fear.
But instead of screaming, as most did when faced with Vader brandishing his weapon at them, the young man holds out his hand. Vader feels a pull at his utility belt, just before Kenobi's lightsaber is torn off of it and flown into the young man's hands.
So, he is trained. Good. Vader straightens up, itching for a challenge. The young man senses his intent, and takes a step back. There's something familiar about him, something Vader can't seem to remember and doesn't particular care to. It's never wise for one to think in battle. Action is what is necessary to succee.
The young man's eyes flick from Vader to the surrounding Stormtroopers (all too dumbfounded to even raise their blasters. Pitiful. Vader misses the skill of Clonetroopers) as if he's searching for someone. When it seems he can't find whom he's searching for, he turns back to Vader, baring his teeth.
"Sith." he growls, in a learned, horridly familiar Coruscanti accent. His lithe form stoops down into the beginnings of a fighting stance...when another Trooper comes shooting down the corridor, yelling loud enough to nearly overload Vader's sensory input, and forcing him to turn. All eyes are on the fool for a split second, but it's more than enough for the young man.
Vader feels the whoosh of Force in the air around him. He doesn't need to be told the young man used Force Speed to race as far and fast as he could.
It matters little. The Death Star only has one area to dock and disembark from.
"Lock down the landing bay," Vader commands swiftly. "Do not allow any ships out."
The Docking Officers nod and hurry off, and Vader turns to the remaining squad of Stormtroopers at his disposal.
"Find him!" Vader growls with a flourish of his hand, and they obey. He follows behind, moving toward where the Force wills.