Darth Vader watched from the landing platform of Mustafar as the ship's ramp lowered.
He could feel Padmé on board, her life force bright in the now lifeless darkness of the planet. He had sensed her when the ship had first entered the atmosphere, instantly drawn towards her. He could faintly feel Obi-Wan as well, though the remnants of their bond were heavily shielded. From both ends.
He watched their two figures stand together, silhouetted by the bright inner light of the ship as there was a brief exchange between the pair.
Vader knew that Obi-Wan was here for him because he’d fallen, because he was finally who he was meant to be. Dark. Powerful. Obi-Wan must have dragged his heavily pregnant wife along for the ride to try to turn her against him, to try to use her against him.
Despicable, Vader thought venomously. He would show Obi-Wan what he had learned.
He stood silently watching, feeling the heat of the planet envelop him, Vader’s anger simmering beneath the surface like the lava below his feet. The burning scent of sulphur permeated the air and he blinked ash away from his face.
A minute passed and Padmé's shape drew back into the ship. Obi-Wan walked down the ramp alone.
He walked steadily towards Vader, his head held high and robes billowing behind him from the hot air swirling around them. He looked as high and mighty as he always did.
Vader could bring him low.
"What do you want?" Vader barked out, stance rigid and closed, his eyes carefully tracking his ex-mentor’s movements.
Without replying, Obi-Wan reached to his belt and unclipped his lightsaber. Vader immediately tensed before him, his hand reaching for his own 'saber. Obi-Wan shook his head minutely and moved slower than before, body language non-threatening, and didn’t even light the blade when it was in his hand. When Obi-Wan knelt on the ground in front of Vader, he felt the frown on his face deepen.
Obi-Wan reached forward slowly and took Vader's hand in his.
"What do you want?" Vader asked again, staring down at his old Master, his hand tense and refusing to follow where Obi-Wan was attempting to lead it.
Obi-Wan placed his lightsaber in Vader's hand, his own pressed over the top, warm and firm. He twisted Vader’s hand until he relented and the blade end was pressed against Obi-Wan’s chest, exactly over his heart.
"I want you to kill me," Obi-Wan breathed out, staring down at their intertwined hands.
Vader inhaled sharply, eyes wide as he stared down at the scene below him with strange detachment.
This weapon is your life, a voice in his head echoed.
Surely he had misheard?
"What?" Vader asked, voice sharp.
He was tempted, so very tempted, to strike his old Master down where he knelt. What a foolish old man! Did he not realise how much more powerful Vader was now? He felt his own grip tighten on the lightsaber hilt, his resolve strengthening.
Words spilled out of Obi-Wan, his hand tightening over Vader’s, an absent thumb stroking over the back of his hand. "I've dreamt of this for weeks. You stand here and kill Padmé when she tries to reach you, then we fight, through lava and fire, and I kill you…” A tear slipped down his cheek and he took a shuddering breath. “Every night, the same thing and I can't let that happen. So kill me instead; take out all your rage and hatred and mistrust on me because I… I failed you." Obi-Wan swallowed and stared up into Vader's golden eyes. "Kill me and keep Padmé alive. Take her and your children far away from Sidious where they'll be safe."
Vader stared down in disbelief, unsure of even where to begin.
Obi-Wan had seen this? He was the one to cause Padmé's death? But Palpatine had said he could save her? Obi-Wan would choose to die to save her and their child?
”No," Vader breathed out, feeling conflict swirl up through his chest, tight and painful.
He'd sworn his allegiance to Palpatine hadn’t he? And here he was, torn over the death of one Jedi? A Jedi he’d thought didn’t care for him. He should kill him.
"Please!" Obi-Wan begged, his eyes unfocused but his grip firm on the lightsaber over his heart. “You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you. This is the only way I can help you now. Please, just—”
Something snapped in the back of his mind and everything slammed into sudden focus.
“Loved?” Anakin blinked away more ash that had landed on his face. “And now?"
Obi-Wan shook his head and closed his eyes, the particles in the air moving around him. "I still do." His hand clenched painfully hard over Anakin’s, his fingers shaking faintly. "But it all hurts too much now. Please, just make it stop."
Anakin realised what he was going to do the moment before it happened, feeling the twitch in his Master's hand and a sharp warning in the Force.
"No!" Anakin cried, wrenching the lightsaber away from Obi-Wan's chest as the familiar snap-hiss echoed between them.
Obi-Wan crumpled before his eyes, falling sideways onto the hot earth. A hoarse cry escaped Anakin's lips, and he fell to his knees beside his friend, the ground of Mustafar burning up through his clothes.
"Obi-Wan?" He asked quietly, hands fluttering over his body.
He received no response.
Anakin rolled him over so Obi-Wan’s head was cradled in his lap and was relieved to see the shallow rise and fall of his chest. Not dead. Anakin searched frantically over his form, his hand catching at a tear in the fabric on Obi-Wan's left arm. Anakin inspected it quickly and found evidence of a lightsaber burn slicing across his skin, thankfully not too deep. It was the only wound he could find. He blinked down at his old Master. Why was he unconscious?
He stared into Obi-Wan's face, only now noticing how pale and thin he looked. His face was streaked with soot and sweat, breath struggling past his chapped lips. Was he sick? He didn’t remember Obi-Wan being unwell before he left for Utapau.
Anakin glanced up as Padmé approached and shook his head.
"Did you kill him?" She asked quietly, standing still some meters away. Her voice was high and thin, disbelief at what she was seeing colouring her voice. He felt his chest tighten.
"No," he breathed out, "he wanted me to, though."
There was a long pause. “Ani, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know anymore.” He couldn’t bring himself to look up, his hand now pressing down on the lightsaber wound on Obi-Wan’s arm.
He heard Padmé walk closer and felt a tentative hand rest on his shoulder, softly stroking down his arm. “Ani, love,” she started gently, but he could hear the tremor in her voice, “let’s just go. We can bring him with us. Let’s just run away like we imagined.”
He could go with Padmé, with Obi-Wan. Take them both and go far, far away from Sidious. Raise his child far from whatever was left of the Jedi Order and the Republic.
He could kill Obi-Wan and return to Sidious having proved his conviction and brought his wife home alive, victorious. She would never have to die. He could raise his child near his Sith Lord and Master, and the ruins of his entire life.
“Ani?” she asked, hand threading through his hair.
He nodded and pressed against her touch. “Okay.”
“Okay.” She pulled back. “Okay. Right.” He had never heard his wife so flustered or at such a loss for words. Force, he’d done this. “Can you carry Obi-Wan?”
Anakin stood and reached down to Obi-Wan, curling his arms beneath his knees and arms, pulling him up and tucking him close to his chest. He frowned; Obi-Wan was lighter than Anakin remembered him being.
He followed Padmé back to the ship.
Once inside, Anakin placed Obi-Wan on the bed and sat down beside him with his legs off the edge. Anakin ran a shaking hand over Obi-Wan's forehead and hair, noting how the dark brown of Obi-Wan’s robes contrasted with the pale blue patterns on the sheets.
He and Padmé had spent many long hours in this bed together. Any spare moment in between battles during the war they would curl up together beneath these blankets and plan a better life for them both, and later, their child. Hours spent in her intimate embrace, feeling for all the galaxy that everything could turn out alright.
Now Obi-Wan lay there, looking like death, with the galaxy burning around them. In this light Anakin could see how ill he really looked; skin pasty and cold beneath his touch, and his breath was still coming short and sharp and pained.
“Obi-Wan… I’m so sorry,” he whispered, leaning over his Master. Anakin pressed his lips to Obi-Wan’s forehead, eyes squeezed shut, his left hand cupping his master's face. “Kriffing hells, this is all my fault.”
How could he have let any of this happen!?
“Ani?” Padmé sat on the end of the bed facing toward her husband and Anakin could see the endless questions in her eyes. He had never been more proud of her when she finally asked, “Where should we go?”
“Tatooine. For now at least,” he decided. “I told Palpatine I’d never go back there. He won’t look there. At least for a while.”
She nodded her head toward the cockpit of the ship. “Come help me set the course.”
“Okay.” He ran a final hand through Obi-Wan’s hair. “Then we should take a look at Obi-Wan. I don’t think he’s well.”
Her eyes flickered over the man on the bed and she pursed her lips. “I think you may be right. Let’s do this quickly then.”
He followed her out to the cockpit and took the seat beside her.
“I’ll disable any tracking devices and change the registration signature of the ship,” Padmé said, digging into the right hand console. “You set us a course.”
He nodded and went to work immediately, plotting a course around where he knew Republic—Empire?—stations and troops were. They worked in silence, the occasional bout of muttering filling the air. Anakin finished before his wife did, his skill and knowledge speeding him up. He sat and watched her work while he waited.
She was so beautiful. He found his eyes lingering on Padmé’s form as she focused intensely on her task, her slim frame curled protectively over the swell of her stomach. She was due in the next month and he admired her for still being so active while so heavily pregnant. A light flush covered her cheeks and a few stray hairs fell out from her plait while she worked, her clever mind and fingers working to keep them safe.
“I love you,” Anakin admitted quietly.
Her entire body stiffened and she glanced hesitantly at him, a frown colouring her features.
He’d never received that reaction before. “Padmé, I-" Anakin began.
“We are not talking about any of this right now,” she gritted out. “I’m too angry at you to have a civil conversation about any of it.”
She set her jaw and turned back to her work, completely ignoring him.
A few more minutes passed before she sat back and said, “Finished. We should be untraceable now. You take us off, I’ll check on Obi-Wan.”
Padmé stood up and walked back to their cabin without a backward glance, leaving Anakin sitting alone.
Force, he had fucked up so badly.
Anakin sat at the console, staring out at the volcanic activity on Mustafar. How could he have let this happen? He’d always fought for the right thing: keeping the Republic safe, keeping the Sith and the Separatists at bay, keeping Padmé and Obi-Wan and Ahsoka safe. He’d hated the Council and the Order at times, but he didn’t want them dead. And he’d joined the Sith. Sure, he’d now finished the Separatists off once and for good, but Force, at what cost? What had he been thinking?!
He cut off that train of thought. He had to get them both to safety first.
Anakin refocused and fired the ship into gear. He flew it manually out of the atmosphere, watching the red and black of the planet get further and further away until only the blinking lights of space surrounded him. He hit the hyperdrive and watched the stars blur together.
They were really doing this.
Anakin let out a long breath as he watched the stars fly by.
His job done, Anakin walked back to the bedroom and leant against the doorframe, watching quietly. Padmé sat cross-legged in the centre of the bed, a bag of medical supplies open beside her. Gauze, bandages and pills lay scattered around her while she stared down at her patient. A wet cloth lay across Obi-Wan’s forehead, and a bandage was wrapped firmly around his upper left arm.
“Is he okay?” Anakin asked from the doorway.
“I’m not sure,” Padmé admitted quietly. “He should recover from the wound on his arm, it’s the illness I’m concerned about.” She sighed. “How long until we reach Tatooine?”
“Nearly a week. I’ve taken us on a longer, more evasive route,” he informed her.
“Time to sleep then.” She proceeded to tuck Obi-Wan beneath the sky-blue blanket, before sliding under it herself. “You too, Ani.”
Anakin blinked at the strange sight of his former master asleep beside his wife. It unnerved him less than he thought it would.
“Stop thinking,” Padmé demanded. “Come to bed. You need to sleep.”
So he did.