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Measure of Force

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Anakin woke up with his heart thundering in his chest, explosion echoing in his head. He lay still, listening – sometimes Tuskens raided even bigger settlements, even Mos Eisley, and when that happened best thing to do was to keep out of it, keep quiet, hope that they didn't notice you. And if it wasn't that and instead there was a fight or something worse, then staying out of it was even more important and –

Silence. There wasn't even hum of a cooling unit or distant rumble of machinery, no sounds of traffic or people or – or anything but his own breathing in the too large and too clean room.

Of course. He wasn't on Tatooine anymore, was he? He was in Coruscant, the bright shining centre of the galaxy. He was in the Jedi Temple. There were no Tuskens or turf wars here.

Releasing a shuddering breath, Anakin rolled over to his back and scrubbed a hand over his face. His heart was still hammering in his chest, and he was so sure there'd been a explosion – he'd even felt the heat. Except there was nothing but cool, efficiently filtered air around him, scrubbed so clean by the temple's air conditioning that it didn't even smell like air anymore. No sound or sense or smell of explosion.

Everything was fine. Nothing was wrong. So why did it feel like there was danger?

After a moment of trying to calm down, Anakin pushed the blankets off and got up. The door was silent as it slid open before him and he stepped out to the dimly lit corridor. Ignoring the tempting glow of the fresher door, he headed out to the living area instead, to look outside.

He just wanted to make sure a meteor hadn't hit Coruscant or anything.

The living area was as silent as the room Anakin had been given – lifeless, except for the single succulent plant sitting on the lone table between the two couches. Anakin shivered, wishing he'd brought the blankets with him. Was it always this cold in here?

Hugging himself, he stepped closer to the big windows dominating the back wall, and looked outside. Coruscant looked fine, as far as he could tell. The buildings were all lit up and nothing was burning or smoking. No sign of explosions anywhere.

He was probably just being stupid. Except... except the last time he'd felt like this, some drunken moisture farmers who'd come in town for the races had crashed their speeder into the Quarter Row, killing a family of six. They'd been just slaves and no one had cared, of course, except for the property damage, but still. Anakin had cared – he'd felt it coming.

Now he waited nervously for something to crash into the temple, wondering of he should wake up Qui-Gon. Except Qui-Gon was a Jedi and the sense Anakin had, that was a Jedi power – so surely Qui-Gon already knew?

He waited, glancing towards the door leading to Qui-Gon's room – but it didn't open. Another door did, though. The one right beside it. Qui-Gon's student's door.

Obi-Wan stepped out silently, a dark brown cloak wrapped around him. As Anakin watched, a bare hand made pale by the dim lighting reached out and touched the wall tentatively, like expecting it to be made of glass. Obi-Wan then walked towards him, trailing his fingers on the smooth wall.

Wondering if Obi-Wan was trying to feel for tremors, Anakin cleared his throat. "Did you feel it too?"

That made the man start and halt – he hadn't noticed Anakin at all. For a moment Obi-Wan just stared at him, his face expressionless in his surprise. "Feel what?" he asked, and his voice rasped low in his throat.

"The explosion. Well I guess it wasn't really an explosion, but it felt like it. It woke me," Anakin said, withdrawing a little. He wasn't sure about Obi-Wan yet. They hadn't talked much and Obi-Wan seemed so... stiff and proper. Nothing at all like Qui-Gon who was warm and welcoming.

Obi-Wan didn't say anything for a moment, as he stepped into the room. His fingers detached from the wall and he laid his hand on the nearest couch instead, squeezing the cushion of the backrest in his fingers. He was still staring at Anakin, who shifted nervously where he stood, feeling awkward in his old slave-garb.

"It felt like an explosion?" Obi-Wan asked then. "I suppose that makes sense. Apologies, Anakin – what you felt was me."

"You?" Anakin asked, baffled.

"I... had a vision," Obi-Wan said and looked down at the couch, the table between it and the other couch. He stared at the succulent plant for a moment, deep in thought. Then he turned away, to the kitchen instead.

"I think," he murmured with faint, wistful voice, "I'd like some tea."

As Anakin blinked at him in confusion, Obi-Wan headed for the kitchen, taking out a pot and two cups. There was something weird about how he made the tea. Anakin had watched him do it the previous day – Obi-Wan had even served it for him and that had been weird too. He'd been stiff and brisk. This time he was slow and methodical, measuring every spoonful with care, stirring carefully.

Tentatively Anakin joined him at the kitchen table, but instead of handing the other teacup to him, Obi-Wan stopped to stare at them. Then he looked at Anakin, frown coming to his face.

"What?" Anakin asked nervously.

"The council haven't made the decision about you yet, have they?"

Anakin winced and looked down, shaking his head. "I don't think they like me."

"It's not their job to like or dislike things – the Jedi High Council is neutral in all things," Obi-Wan answered, but it rang false, making Anakin look up uncertainly. Obi-Wan had a wry smile on his face. "Did Qui-Gon ever tell you why he brought you here?"

"Um," Anakin answered. "To become a Jedi?"

Obi-Wan shook his head. "No," he said and Anakin's stomach clenched painfully. "He brought you here because he thought you could become The Jedi. The best of us all. Do you know what a Prophesy is?"

Anakin shook his head mutely, frowning.

"How about seeing the future? Or fortune telling?"

"Oh, I know about that. Old woman Bilaw does fortunes in the Row for rations – like you meeting someone in future or having good or bad luck or losing something, stuff like that. Mom says it's all vague nonsense though, and doesn't really mean anything."

Obi-Wan laughed. "I see," he said and shook his head, looking down at the two tea cups. Was he really going to just drink them both and not give Anakin any? "Prophesies are a little like that – but true. Real prophesies come from the Force and because Force flows through all things, even time itself, the Prophesies of Force are always true ones."

Anakin nodded, his eyebrows lifting. "So, Jedi can see into the future, for real?"

"Not all Jedi. Some can and even among those there are weaker and stronger precognitive abilities. The ones capable of giving prophesies are... especially powerful."

As Anakin watched, Obi-Wan took one of the teacups – but instead of drinking from it, he poured most of its contents to the other cup. Anakin stared, baffled, as the second cup was filled near to the brim, and the first emptied to a single mouthful.

"There is a prophesy of a Force user – a Jedi presumably – who will bring Balance to the Force," Obi-Wan said. "Exceptionally powerful, their existence would be by the Will of the Force. It's assumed that they'd be born fatherless."

Anakin blinked and looked up. "Fatherless," he repeated slowly.

Judging by the look Obi-Wan gave him, he knew what he was thinking. "You are very strong in Force," he said. "And according to your mother, you have no father. Qui-Gon thinks – hopes, really – that you are the one that particular prophesy spoke of."

Anakin swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. "I'm not, right? The council definitely don't think I am. You think I'm not either, don't you?"

"On the contrary, I know you are," Obi-Wan said and while Anakin stared at him in horror, he motioned at the cups. "This is the Force," Obi-Wan said and rested a finger on the brim of the full cup. "This is the Light Side. And this," he motioned at the other, emptier cup, "is the Dark Side. Metaphorically speaking of course."

"Right," Anakin said, trying to desperately keep up.

"What Qui-Gon and the Jedi Order – those who believe anyway – think you'll do is this," Obi-Wan said and then poured the tea on the almost empty cup back into the teapot, emptying it completely. "That is their ideal of the Perfectly Balanced Force – with only Light Side remaining."

Anakin eyed the empty cup. "But it isn't, right?" he asked. "At least that doesn't look like balance to me."

Obi-Wan shook his head and poured another small mouthful of tea to the Dark Side cup. "This is what will happen instead," he said and took the full cup. Somehow dismayed, Anakin stared as he poured it into the teapot, all the way down to the last mouthful. As Obi-Wan set the cup down, both the Light and Dark cups had the same tiny bit of tea just at the bottom.

"There," Obi-Wan said grimly. "Perfectly balanced."

Anakin swallowed again, his throat feeling tight. "What – what happens to the rest of the Light stuff?" he asked nervously. "Where does it go?"

"They die," Obi-Wan said, staring at him intently. "They die and keep dying until there is an equal amount of Light Side users as there are Dark Side users."

Anakin stared, his mouth hanging open. "You... you mean the Jedi, don't you?"

Obi-Wan didn't answer, instead he filled the Light cup to the brim again, the Dark cup nearly empty at its side. "It doesn't turn out well for anybody," he said bleakly. "Few scant years of this supposed balance and one side will start over taking the other again – and has to be balanced again, forcibly brought back down to equal numbers – and again and again, because the only way we've figured this works is if the other side is completely eradicated. But we can't – no matter how much we kill each other, there always remains one or two, to start rebuilding the other side again."

Anakin stared at him and the cups and then cleared his throat. "How do you know that?"

Obi-Wan looked up from the cups and sighed, rubbing a hand over his chin – and then making a face, lowering his hand. "You felt it – my vision," he said and met Anakin's eyes squarely over the cups. "And of course you would feel it, since it was about you."

"You're... one of the special prophesy Jedi?" Anakin clarified.

Obi-Wan stared at him silently for a moment and then let out a laugh. "I guess I am," he muttered ruefully.

Anakin folded his arms, frowning at the cups. "So, there has to be both Light and Dark," he said. "And until one stops trying to beat the other, Force keeps beating them both up."

Obi-Wan let out an amused sound. "That is a very apt way of putting it, yes," he agreed.

"And it's bad," Anakin said slowly. "To have Light all beat up, isn't it?"

"It was good for Dark – they took control, became very influential," Obi-Wan mused thoughtfully, almost as if reminiscing. "From Light's point of view, it was disastrous."

"Did you die?"

Obi-Wan hesitated. "I was one of the last few remaining," he said. "During time of the First Balance. And... I unbalanced it again. I took a student and so Light Side increased again – and soon after, he eliminated the Dark Side users, as we were in habit of doing. And when he started taking students of his own, increasing Light Side further... there was another Forced Balancing."

"Was it me again?" Anakin asked quietly.

"In a way," Obi-Wan agreed with a sigh and looked away.

Anakin looked away too – down at the cups again. "This whole killing each other business isn't right," he said. "Can't I just do this instead?"

He reached out for the pot and then, as Obi-Wan stared intently, he started filling the Dark cup, the Light cup remaining untouched near Obi-Wan's hands. Soon both cups were filled, and neither had lost anything in the process.

Obi-Wan stared. "Well, that's..." he stopped and then frowned. "That's... not an easy path to take."

"Better that most of the Jedi dying though?" Anakin asked.

They eyed the two full cups – identical in almost every way.

"Yes," Obi-Wan said slowly. "That could work, couldn't it?"