Anakin sat in his room, every light turned off except for the dim blinking emergency light. Every couple of seconds it would pulse, illuminating the pitch black space with a dull red glow.
When did everything get so complicated?
Everything was so much simpler when I was just a kid on Tatooine dreaming of the stars.
Yeah, everything kriffing sucked on Tatooine. But it was simpler.
He let out a deep sigh.
Ahsoka was gone. Again.
It had been nerve-wracking enough the first time when she had been abducted by the Trandoshans, not knowing if his padawan would survive long enough to return home. Seeing her return to him alive and well had nearly broken his heart back then.
This time was worse. Far worse.
This time she had walked away. And Anakin probably wouldn’t see her again.
He clutched the string of padawan beads in his hand. As his robotic fingers passed over each bead, a flood of moisture threatened to spill from his eyes.
But no tears would come. All of Anakin’s tears had been used up long ago, and now the salt water trapped behind his eyes burned his vision.
He relished the pain.
It meant he could still feel something, despite the hollow, empty feeling that filled his existence at the moment.
She left me.
She wants nothing to do with me anymore.
His room echoed with the sound of his pained gasps, a feeble attempt at controlling his body’s physical reaction to his thoughts.
How is it possible to feel so numb and yet hurt so much at the same time?
His grip on the string of beads tightened, threatening to snap the thread in two and scatter the last physical reminder he had of his padawan all across the floor.
Why am I even doing this anymore?
I keep losing everyone close to me.
My mom. Ahsoka…
Anakin’s train of thought came to a halt as his labored breath became even quicker and more shallow, a desperate attempt to get more oxygen into his lungs.
I can’t do this anymore.
It’s not worth it.
None of it is worth it.
Anakin tried to blink back the acrid feeling in his eyes as he heard the sound of footsteps approaching his chambers. There was a timid shuffling as the wall communicator beeped.
“Um, Sir, I’ve brought your – “
Anakin didn’t even let the visitor outside his door finish. “Not now. Leave me alone,” he rasped in a deep voice.
“But Sir, your life support system will malfunction if we don’t replace – “
“I SAID LEAVE ME ALONE.”
There was a pause before the visitor attempted a third time to speak to him.
“Lord Vader, the Emperor was quite insistent…”
Emperor Palpatine. Darth Sidious. That was all he had left in this Galaxy. That, and the Force.
And, with each passing day, he grew more and more tired of playing the part of lapdog to the Emperor.
But if the Emperor wanted him alive, he would stay alive. For now.
“Fine,” he grumbled through his broken voice modulator. “Just give me a minute.”
Anakin flicked on the lights in his chamber with the wave of his hand. As his vision adjusted to the harsh synthetic glow, his line of sight settled on a small mirror he had tucked in a corner. The exposed skin of the right side of his face was an angry red, permanently raw and scarred from his mishap on Mustafar.
He shuddered at the sight of his fiery yellow eye glaring back at him.
Ahsoka must think I’m a monster.
I don’t blame her.
I’d want nothing to do with me, either, if I was in her position.
He stashed the string of padawan beads in a small, locked compartment, right next to a shriveled flower he had plucked from the lakeside at Naboo.
His breath caught in his chest again. Though that very well could be a result of his respirator operating on its last legs.
“Enter,” he called out to the person beyond the door. With a whoosh the entrance opened, revealing a medical officer accompanied by a droid. In the droid’s grip was a new helmet, an exact replica of the one Ahsoka had sliced open on Malachor.
“This will only take but a moment, Lord Vader.”
“Good,” he huffed as they got to work peeling off his damaged helmet. He let his mind wander as they operated to linger on the thoughts that made him feel like a shell of his former self.
Padme is dead.
My unborn child is dead.
Obi-wan betrayed me.
And now… I’m sure Ahsoka hates me.
It’s one thing to know that you’re alone. However, it is another thing to feel alone.
And Anakin Skywalker felt completely and utterly alone.
That wouldn’t do.
As the new helmet was carefully fitted over his head, he buried all thoughts pertaining to Anakin Skywalker down into the depths of his consciousness. Well, all except the hate and suffering.
Those were emotions he could use.
The small medical team finished their work, hastily shuffling out of the room before they were deemed a nuisance.
With a wave of his hand, the entrance closed and the lights flickered back off, leaving Darth Vader alone in the dark to meditate on his eternal suffering.