Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Lucas. The lyrics belong to Elbow, from the song "Puncture Repair." The title comes from the original Jedi Code (aka the one that makes SENSE, but that's none of my business.)
Death, Yet The Force
Tired. So tired.
A sharp gust of wind slaps his cheeks. The roar of an engine pierces his ears. He can vaguely register a solid, warm barrier he keeps bumping against. He tries to open his eyes, to reach with his hand and push the barrier back, but his body is no longer under his control, instead succumbing to a throbbing pain. He tries to breathe it away, inhaling through his nose.
A familiar scent invades his nostrils, scrambling his brain and sending pangs straight to his heart. The shock alone forces his eyelids open to a blurry squint. Above, he can see the smeared outline of a white, bearded man with shoulder-length hair. The familiar fabric against his cheek is explained.
It all goes black.
1. I leaned on you today
Anakin awakens on a bed in a sunlit room he doesn't recognize. His body is heavy like cement and riddled with aches and pains. His head is pounding. Where is he?
He tries to call on the Force to help him sit up, but nothing happens. Panic flares within his chest, sending his heartbeat skyrocketing. What Sith handiwork, what madness, what cruel twist of fate is this?
"Don't worry," comes a voice above him, low and weary. "You're alright."
Anakin blinks until the figure sitting at his bedside is clear.
"M. . .Master?" he croaks.
"You've suffered a Depletion," says Obi-Wan, his eyes fixed on his Padawan's bare chest. "When the body has taken too much energy. You won't be strong enough to use the Force for a while."
"W-what-what happened?" Anakin cranes his neck to look down at his body. His bottom half is dressed in white pants. The cotton shirt he somehow has been slipped into is unbuttoned, leaving his chest exposed, with purple bruises blossoming like violets.
"Depletion leaves it mark," Obi-wan answers steadily, still not looking up. "The Lars family has agreed to let us stay here until you are well enough to return to Naboo."
Something in the older man's tone sets off swirl of memories and emotions dancing before Anakin's eyes. He drops his head back onto the pillow. Heaves of anguish tear through his ribs, bringing more pain to the already-throbbing bones, and maybe Obi-Wan is saying something else, but Anakin can only hear the rattling breath of his mother and the screams of the Sand People and-something else happened, but he can't remember, and he's too tired to try, as Obi-Wan presses three fingers to his forehead. All he hears before darkness overtakes him is his mother's voice.
"Ani?. . .Now I am complete."
2. I regularly hurt but never say
Anakin screams himself into consciousness in the middle of the night. The images from his dream are branded into memory: a dead Schmi Skywalker falling to pieces in his arms, The dirty rags of a Tusken Raider stuffed in his mouth, a blue blade alight in the dark, a cold hatred, a boiling bloodlust-
Obi-Wan's face appears in front of Anakin, and a warm pressure holds him down until he stops struggling.
"You were having a nightmare," Obi-Wan assures him flatly. "You're alright."
Alright. The word uncaps Anakin's rage and in an instant, his Master is an enemy.
"I am n-not alright!" he yells shakily, the force of his voice raising his head off the bed. "She's dead, Obi-Wan! D-died! In my arms! I told you, I b-begged you to let me find her, and you-you-IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT! ALL YOUR FAULT!" His voice tears through the calm night air. He tries to sit up, and the resulting pain only fuels his anger. He doesn't even know what he's shouting now, besides, "ALL YOUR FAULT!" and maybe a few choice curse words, anything to make that stony face above him break and crumble the way Anakin is crumbling inside.
But Obi-Wan gives him not once ounce of that satisfaction. Instead, he presses his hands onto Anakin's torso and sends heavy warm sleep through his fingers and into his Padawan's muscles. Anakin knows exactly what he's doing and hates him more for it.
"All your fault!. . .All your fault. . .Mom. . .Mom. . .My fault. . ."
His screams become whimpers as everything fades into nothing. He doesn't see Obi-Wan's shoulders hunch over, absorbing the worst of his suffering.
He doesn't hear Obi-Wan's whisper curses at the Force.
3. I nearly wore the window through
The tearful rage persists in his subconsciousness.
Warped faces from his past and present swim through his line of sight; Qui-Gon with gentle concern, Darth Maul with disdain, Watto with a gruff laugh, Palpatine with unusually glowing eyes, Yoda's warning (Fear is a path to the dark side), Windu's stern gaze, Obi-Wan's exasperated hand gestures, Padmé's fearful frown, young Padawans' fearful pleas, Schmi's fearful screams of Ani! Ani, NO! Until everyone looks afraid of him, igniting their lightsabers or cowering on the floor, calling out his name in distorted screams, while a foreign sound invades his senses-a respirator of some kind. . .
And then a Tusken child runs up to him, yelling in fright. A blue blade ignites and slashes through the air. The child falls in pieces, gurgling-
Anakin is back in his bed, sweating and shivering uncontrollably. The room is dimly lit; it's either sunrise or sunset. His sheets and blanket cling to his clammy skin as he tries to move, soreness shooting up his sides at light speed. This is still Tattooine-hot, humid, and reeking of his mother.
Two warm hands take hold of his body and turn it on its side, patting it down with a cloth. "It's only a dream. Only a dream. Breathe, Anakin. In through your nose-like that, yes-out your mouth slowly. . .You're alright, Anakin. You're alright."
Obi-Wan's voice is gently empty, and assurances are bland as bread.
He grabs Obi-Wan's arm, digging his fingernails into brittle fabric. "You know," he grits through his teeth, "You know I'm not-you see I'm not alright-how dare you-"
Obi-Wan doesn't answer. He stares at Anakin with stale blue eyes, stagnant like pond water, and all Anakin wants is to shake him out of it.
"What do you know?" he cries, feebly shaking his Master by the arm. "What happened? What happened?"
"I saved you from yourself," Obi-Wan snaps, pushing Anakin back down on the bed. "That's what happened."
"Go to sleep."
The same heavy, heated pressure forces his eyes closed, and he knows no more.
4. Where was air sea rescue?
There are four other people and two droids on this moisture farm, and Anakin's only visitor is Obi-Wan.
Cliegg, he can understand; the man is nursing a stump of a leg and the lost of his wife. Owen, with his reserved attitude towards his brother-in-law in general, wouldn't be missed. Anakin could care less whether Behru shows up; there's nothing she can do or say that will bring him peace.
But Padmé. Padmé, who, despite her best efforts, could not hide her love from him, let herself toe the line with him, came to this wretched planet with him, waited hours with strangers for him. . .hers is the one absence that does not compute.
He needs her to check on him. He needs to feel her fingers stroking his cheek, asking if he's alright, telling him everything is okay, telling him she loves him. He needs one of the two most important women in his life because she is the only one still alive. He needs to confirm she is still alive.
Why hasn't she come for him? Has she only visited when he's sleeping? (He wouldn't have felt it through the Force-he can't sense anyone around him now). Has she chosen to steer clear while he heals? (That doesn't sound like her either; against all odds and laws, Padmé has a knack for getting her way.) He shoves away the thought of her not wanting to see him, so the only conclusion left is that she is unable to visit him. Something-Someone is keeping her from him.
"Where's Padmé?" Anakin asks his Master one sunny afternoon.
A spoonful of hot broth hovers an inch from Anakin's face. The aromatic steam tickles his nose, tempting him, but his mouth stays closed.
Obi-Wan raises an eyebrow. "She is helping Behru pick mushrooms."
"Has she been picking mushrooms since you first brought me down here?" Anakin retorts.
The spoon retreats back into the bowl as Obi-Wan stirs absentmindedly. Always calm. Always indifferent. How dare he act indifferent now, how dare he ignore the destruction around them and continue on acting as a simple caretaker?
"Has she?" Anakin presses angrily.
"Has she what, Anakin?" Obi-Wan blurts out, throwing the spoon into the bowl and squatting at his Padawan. "Has she been asking about you every moment of every day? Waiting by your bedside? Praying to the Force for a sign that you'll awaken so she can declare her undying love for you? Say what you mean, Anakin. You want to know if she's been thinking about you."
He won't let the tears come, he won't, he just has to squeeze his eyes shut for a second, and curse how Obi-Wan sees straight through him when he can't decipher Obi-Wan at all. "I want to know if you've been keeping her from me," he forces out, clenching his fists. "No-I know you have! And I want to know why!"
"I have not been keeping her from you."
"You expect me to believe-"
"She felt it was best to give you your space. She was trying to be thoughtful. "
Thoughtful. A voice that Anakin doesn't recognize, a voice of rage and spite, replies, "Give me my space? Oh, how thoughtful. Just say it Obi-Wan: she doesn't want to come see me, and you're happy about it."
The noise that comes out of Obi-Wan sounds like the culmination of all the frustration in the world, channeled through the vocals of a demon. "She doesn't want-I'm happy-Dammit Anakin, do you know nothing? Did you not spend two weeks with this woman? She would put the world on her shoulders if it meant keeping peace. She's given up her childhood, her safety, and her life for the sake of others, for people she's never even met, because she believes in doing what is best for everyone! What she wants doesn't matter-your health, your wellbeing, is the only priority!" Obi-Wan's nostrils are flaring, his eyes blazing through Anakin's with the same awed exasperation he's shown many times before. "She is thoughtful because she doesn't want you distracted from your recovery. If I were you I would be focusing on that and not making a mockery of her sacrifice."
Hot and heavy shame sears Anakin's skin as he shrinks from his Master, willing his body to sink through the mattress and into the ground. He doesn't trust himself to answer back; he doesn't think any answer could suffice.
Obi-Wan has gone back to quietly stirring the broth while Anakin curls into himself.
Eventually, Obi-Wan lifts the spoon to Anakin's mouth, which opens without question.
5. The cavalry with tea and sympathy
He could say he's lost count of the days, but he never had it in the first place.
Every waking moment feels like a link in a stream of consciousness. Obi-Wan is always at his side, applying warm compresses to his body and forehead, spoon-feeding him breakfast, lunch, or dinner (whatever he's lucid in time for.) When there's nothing to tend to, the man will sit cross-legged in a strangely comforting silence. Still no other visitors have come. Anakin is starting to appreciate their absence; they would want to make conversation, and he doesn't have to strength yet.
Sometimes Anakin's nightmares send him from the land of dreams into Obi-Wan's arms, as his Master shushes and soothes, reminding him of where he is. He never asks what the dreams are about. He hasn't asked a single question since they've been here together. He has not a single reprimand or lecture or inquiry to make (not since the subject of Padmé.)
Far from feeling relieved, Anakin finds it disturbing. Of all the times to nag, he deserves it now the most. This unreadable silence from the older Jedi only adds to the pain in his heart. Maybe Obi-Wan can sense this, through their one-sided bond that Anakin still can't tap into. Maybe Obi-Wan can see how his closed lips punish his Padawan sufficiently enough. Anakin doesn't like this theory; in the safety of Depletion, he can admit that he needs Obi-Wan on his side now.
The memory of Schmi's death is shrouded in mystery. He can remember zooming across dead plains, asking the familiar creatures of his youth for directions, nursing the growing panic as her screams echoed in his head. He can smell the dirt and blood on her skin as he untied her from the wooden stand, can taste the salt of tears gliding past his cheeks, can hear her weak voice, still full of love like he never left:
"Oh, you look so handsome! My son. My grown up son. I'm so proud of you Ani."
"Now I am complete."
"I love. . .I love. . ."
Everything after is a blur of blue blades and screams. Anakin is unsettled by the dread that walks hand in hand with his ever-growing curiosity. This must be what Obi-Wan always warned him about: how the truth, in all its honest glory, can scare the most powerful men in the Galaxy. Anakin used to laugh it off. Truth can't scare me, he'd say. I'm the Chosen One!
He'd forgotten he was human first.
6. You were there, puncture repair
When the bruises on his chest have faded to lilac and he can move his body without agony, Anakin decides it's time to talk about it.
"Master," he begins tentatively.
Obi-Wan looks up from his cross-legged position on the floor. "Yes?"
". . .Happened?"
"When my mother. . .how did you find me? What did I do? What happened?"
Anakin braces himself for the aversion of eyes, the tightness of lips, the assurance that it is too soon for such conversation, and he needs to rest, to heal, to sleep.
He doesn't expect Obi-Wan to exude acceptance with a sigh. "You will not like what you hear, my young Padawan." Like that would change anything. "But, you deserve to know."
After a moment of silence, the Master begins to speak. "I had just identified the bounty hunter after Padmé as a man named Jango Fett. I apprehended him on the planet Kamino with his. . .son, but they escaped. I attached a tracking device onto their ship and followed them to the planet Geonosis. I had just faked my own demise to give them a false sense of security before I resumed my mission when I felt a strong disturbance in the Force."
"Like a sense of foreboding. A warning unlike any other." Obi-Wan's breathing remains steady despite the catch in his voice. "For some reason, I knew I had to come to Tattooine at once. To find you."
Anakin's mouth is dry. "You-you abandoned the mission?" For me?
"Don't look so surprised, Anakin, you are my Padawan after all," Obi-Wan quips with a small smirk, which fades as he resumes his tale. "The first person I found was Watto. He told me about your visit, what you were looking for, where he sent you. It was all I needed. I got to the farm as fast as I could, but you weren't there. Padmé, however, was."
Anakin shifts under the sheets, his stomach cool and hollow.
"She told me about your nightmares on Naboo and her willingness to accompany you here. She told me you'd gone to rescue your mother from the Sand People. She was concerned, but she couldn't understand why I was so worried; the worst that could happen was Schmi's death, she argued. But I knew. . ." A pulse of sorrow pierced through his monotone. ". . .Like I always knew when you'd gone too far. As a child, as a teenager, as a young man now, you have carried a burden of fear and anger- and a thirst for revenge. Padmé couldn't understand. She assumed you would come home with Schmi's body, mourn and move forward. She didn't know what greater loss awaited."
"What? Greater loss?"
"Yes, Anakin, greater loss. Much worse than losing someone else is losing yourself."
Anakin's fists clench.
"The Lars family was gracious enough to lend me a Land Speeder fast enough to help me catch up to you. I drove for hours. I had nearly given up when I encountered a Jawa tribe who remembered you and pointed me in your direction. Night had fallen by the time I reached the village. I couldn't tell which tent you were in, but I could feel you: your fear, your pain, your suffering. And then I felt it. . .the loss. I felt the darkness encapsulate everything around us. I knew there was no time-I had to get you out of there. I just couldn't find you. But when I heard your weapon ignite I knew. . .I saw you coming out of that tent, striking the guards down. I could see your eyes. . .they were yellow, Anakin."
Anakin can't for the life of him understand how Obi-Wan can stay so composed while recounting such horrors. Maybe lack of eye contact makes it easier.
"I'd planned to grab you and run, but you were past that. I saw a Tusken child running away, screaming. You charged toward her. There was no time to block your blow if you were going to do what I feared, and there was too much darkness to reach you through the Force. So I did the only thing I could: I yelled."
Anakin! No! The memory attacks Anakin mercilessly: a bundled child backing away from his blue blade, all the hate in the world swirling inside him, a familiar voice, the last voice he would expect to hear, calling out for him.
"I suppose the shock is what led to your Depletion," Obi-Wan continues. "So many emotions, and all that power, really took a toll on you. You fell where you stood. I was able to defend you against the Raiders who came after your body. A sweep of the force knocked them out. Gave me enough time to take you and your mother and speed away. I wouldn't have tried to take a lifeless body on any other occasion, but I knew what you went all his way for. I would not deny you of the chance for a proper burial. And here we are."
The tears make it hard for Anakin to see his Master clearly. "Why? W-why did you do. . .all of th-that? I don't un-understand."
Obi-Wan is a statue on the floor. If it weren't for the rise and fall of his chest, Anakin could swear he isn't real. Slowly, he uncrosses his legs, stands up, and walks out of the room. He pauses at the archway, his back to Anakin.
"Don't let your love grow hateful, Anakin. Only then will you be lost to us."
"She is not the only one who needs you."
7. I leaned on you today
Reaching out through the Force is still a faint dream, but reaching out with his hands is finally a reality. The soreness of his limbs leaves him with a limp, but the pain has decreased enough to let him move around on his own. He sits down with Obi-Wan to meditate, something he's never willingly done before. He feeds himself the meals Obi-Wan brings. He takes a shower without help, observing the marks left on his skin, and changes into warm wool robes left for him when he exits the fresher. He has gone so far as to enter the dining room, or go outside, running into Behru, who smiles at him, passing by Owen, who offers him a drink, and stopping Cliegg to thank him for his hospitality.
He just keeps missing Padmé.
One sunset, Anakin is resting alone after a measly attempt to heal himself with the Force, weakly biting into an apple, when he hears a knock on the wall. He looks toward the archway and drops the apple onto his lap.
"I'm sorry," Padmé apologizes. "Am I disturbing you?"
"No!" he's quick to say, smoothing the wrinkles out his blanket and picking his apple back up. "No, please, come in!"
She is wearing a dark blue poncho over a lighter blue dress, the two shades complementing her sun-kissed skin. Part of her hair is pulled back, leaving the rest to cover her shoulders. Her cheeks are tinged with red as she carefully sits down by his side.
There is a long stretch of silence. She watches him, and he watches everything but her. The butterflies that always fluttered at the sight of her erupt, but the wings feel heavier this time around, burdened with the ugly side of his soul. He wants to ask about her dress, mention the sweetness of the apple, comment on the weather, anything to draw attention away from him and all his pathetic glory.
But she doesn't give him the chance. "You look better. Healed."
No thanks to you, the ugly part of him snarls. He swallows it down with another bite of the apple, debating with himself over what to say.
"You look beautiful," he settles on. "As always."
Padmé's smile is dim as the sun in a sandstorm.
"How are you feeling?" she asks.
He shrugs. It stings. "I miss the Force. But I'm okay."
"Obi-Wan has taken very good care of you."
"He hasn't left my side once. It's almost annoying."
"My father would do that when I was sick. He'd even spoon-feed me soup until I was fifteen."
A flash of Obi-Wan's hand holding a spoon burns Anakin's eyes, and he squeezes them shut. Besides a sharp intake of breath, Padmé makes no move to touch him. Once the swell of emotion has passed, Anakin opens his eyes to her flushed but resolute face.
"You're wondering why I haven't come to see you."
While he can't yet send emotions to or siphon energy from the Force, he has regained his ability to sense the feelings in others. Right now, she is radiating guilt.
"Oh, Ani," she laments, hugging her knees to her chest. "I didn't mean to leave you alone! I wanted nothing more than to be here for you, every second of every day, I swear to you, but I. . .I couldn't," she finished in a small voice. "I'm so sorry."
He stares at Padmé, conflicted. He knows she means what she says. He remembers what Obi-Wan said: she felt it was best to give you space. Yet he resents it. He resents them for making all the decisions without him. And resenting Padmé, a woman he loves more than himself, makes him feel strained to the point of splitting in two.
"I just. . ." he swallows. "I don't understand. . .why." The strained sensation worsens; he puts the apple down. "Why you couldn't."
Silence falls between them as he waits for her to sort out her thoughts. His faint sense of the Force detects a new aura around her, one of struggle and defeat, a most curious combination.
"When he brought you back," she breathes, "you were out cold, but shivering and mumbling like you were having nightmares. Your entire body was black and blue. And I knew why-he told us about Depletion-but I had to beg Obi-Wan to tell me how. . ."
She she knows. Damn Obi-Wan.
"I don't know the details," she admits, "but I know enough to know the truth. One that I should have seen before."
A defensive flare jolts inside him. "What truth?" he demands hoarsely.
She doesn't acknowledge the change in tone. Maybe she expected it. But she locks their eyes and declares, "You love. You love, Anakin. And not in the compassionate, peaceful Jedi way. In the human, passionate, desperate way. You defend ones you love to the point of offense. You are protective to the point of possessiveness. You don't just belong to them. . .they belong to you. The moment you sense that bond is threatened, you become a danger-not to us!" Padmé hastens, seeing him tense, "Not to us, Ani. . .but you must be true with yourself; if Obi-Wan hadn't come after you, what would you have done?"
. . .I would have killed them. I would have killed them all. The men. The women. The children. They're like animals. I'd have slaughtered them like animals. One glance at her face proves he doesn't have to answer.
"I hate them," he whispers shakily, looking away from her.
"I know," she says sadly. "That's the danger: the danger to yourself, to your light, to the good in you. I. . .I can't be the one to put you in that danger again, Ani." She sniffles, her head back in her arms. "I love you too much."
Maybe it's his weakness. Maybe it's the brush with evil. Maybe it's her tearful voice. It could be all three, he doesn't know. But in the silence that follows, Anakin does something he never thought of doing before; he sees. He sees himself through her eyes: an intense young Jedi with all the love to give and all the fire to warp it. He sees his devotion to her, to his mother, to his Master, and how that devotion twisted him into something he still can't quite recognize. What if Padmé loved him in this way? What if something happened to him that threatened his life? How much would he want to her to sacrifice for him? Her own safety? Her life? Her light? He would sooner keep her away from him than risk she would do the same to prevent him from destroying himself. . .for her.
This is what Obi-Wan meant. All along.
Anakin sighs through his nose. He will need time to control his dangerous side, to love in full light, the way he knows he can, before he offers his heart to Padmé again. For now, he lightly touches her shoulder, gathering a small storm of strength to push his feelings out through the Force, sending her a cloud of his heart to show he understands. The dizziness that follows is worth it when she gazes at him through watery, grateful eyes. She is his most beautiful motivation.
In time. All in good time.
"Can. . .can you do something for me?" he asks uncertainly, when the lump in his throat has dissipated.
"Anything," she responds eagerly.
"Fetch me a knife and a piece of Japor Wood."
8. I regularly hurt but never say
"I know wherever you are, it's become a better place. You were the most loving partner a man could ever have. Good-bye, my darling wife. And thank you."
Eight figures stand a foot apart from each other, somberly observing the gravestone that is gathering dust around the base barely an hour after sticking it into the ground. Threepio and Artoo are mute for the first time in ages. Behru and Owen bow their heads, leaning into each other. Obi-Wan is hooded, crossing his arms with an air of distinguished mourning. Padmé keeps stealing glances at Anakin, who can't seem to shake the image of his mother's body, rather than the gravestone, lying in front of him. He stares intently at the illusion, memorizing every feature of its face, willing himself not to forget the laugh lines he'd noticed that night that hadn't been there ten years ago. She was happy, they told him. She was happy in the end.
Cliegg concludes his speech and hovers back into formation forlornly. It occurs to Anakin that he hasn't taken one moment to extend his condolences to any member of the Lars family. Blood or not, they too had lost something precious. They shared this memory with him.
As Anakin steps forward, he looks to Cliegg and nods. It's a poor gesture, but it's all he can do for now.
He looks back at the gravestone; the illusion of Schmi has vanished. And then comes the real, hard, truth, that she is gone, and it knocks all the wind out of him, sending him to his knees on a ground that his first protector lies peacefully six feet beneath.
Without taking his eyes off the stone, Anakin grabs a fistful of sand. The coarse particles rub painfully against his tight grip, reminding him of his days with Watto and friends and pod races, beatings and shackles, all the drought and no respite. He hates this sand for what it represents and the memories it evokes, but he grabs onto it for dear life. It is the only tangible thing he has left of his mother, for it holds her remains safe from prying eyes. The sand tortures him, but it reminds him as well: who he was and where he came from.
Back when Schmi Skywalker loved him.
The words burst from him like ragged scraps of metal."I wasn't strong enough. To save you-or myself. I would have defiled your memory. . .out of vengeance. I have failed you twice. But I promise. . ." he will not cry, he will not cry, "I won't fail again. I will be the Jedi you sent me to be. I will make you proud. I promise, Mother."
I. . .I love. . .
"I miss you. So much."
A wave of kindness and compassion rocks through his body, emotions that don't belong to him, and he nearly sways on his feet. In a second, he recognizes the signature, and tears finally well up. Within himself, Anakin senses something warm and gentle, like a personal sun, giving him focus, making him stronger. Perhaps recklessly, he sends a ray of light back to his Master, sensing the older man's hopeful surprise.
His legs tremble as he gets to his feet. Smiling through his tears, he whispers once more, "I love you, too."
9. You patched me up and sent me on my way
Obi-Wan and Anakin sit across from each other, in the middle of the night, meditating deeper than ever before. A fly buzzes around their heads, going unnoticed. A few pebbles dig into Anakin's foot, leaving welts that he doesn't feel. Their eyes are closed, their lips slack, their hands resting on their knees. Everything for the moment is still and peaceful. Not a word is spoken between them.
Not out loud, anyway.
Do you remember…?
Now, Anakin, are you sure you're up for this?
Yes, Master, I'm sure!
It doesn't hurt at all?
Barely. It feels like it used to.
Very well, then. What were you saying?
Do you remember when you taught me the history of the Jedi Code?
You showed me the New Code and the Original Code. The ancient one.
. . .Yes, I did.
Do you remember what you said to me about the Original Code?
Something disagreeable, no doubt.
Not really, Master. You just said that both were right but the new one was better for our time.
Hm. Well it does sound like me. What of it?
I can still remember the old mantra. It's been in my head for the past few days.
I see. . .
And I've been comparing it to the New Code. The two of them in my head all the time. There is the mantra I've grown up on: There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no death, there is the Force.
Yes. . .
And then there is the old mantra: Emotion, yet-
. . .
Emotion, yet peace. Ignorance, yet knowledge. Passion yet serenity. Chaos, yet harmony.
-yet the Force.
. . .
My mother is dead, Master. She carried the Chosen One to birth and gave him all the love he could ask for, and instead of the long life she deserved, she's dead.
To say there is no Death. . .it disrespects her memory, and all the memories of those who have died. We must acknowledge that. And I must acknowledge she is dead.
I understand. . .
And yet. . .
Yet. . .I feel her. All around me. In the wind. In the sunlight. In the sand. She's with the planet now, living in everything. . .Death, yet the Force.
Ah. . .
I think that maybe the Old Mantra is better for me Master. I hope that does not offend you.
Of course it doesn't offend me. If it is the will of the Force, then hold the mantra to your heart, whatever version it may be.
Thank you Master.
And don't forget. . .you don't just have the Force. You have your memories. You have nine years worth of memories. That's more than any Jedi can say. Even me. You hold on to your memos-not too tight-but just enough. She will never die then.
. . .Yes, Master. Thank you Master.
Anakin-tonight. . .just call me Obi-Wan, will you?
I am not your Master here. You have just learned something I could never teach you, and you did it on your own. I am simply a fellow Jedi, a witness to your evolution.
. . .Thank you. . .Obi-Wan.
Anakin keeps his real response to himself, the one where he says, I could have never made it far enough to learn this if it hadn't been for you. Master.
10. I leaned on you today
Today is the day. Obi-Wan will leave the planet first, after which Anakin and Padmé will take their own spaceship back to Naboo, where they will stay until further notice. Any suspicions from the Council or Senate will be dealt with by Obi-Wan, but he insists there shouldn't be much to worry over, as there has been "no lasting damage." Anakin cringes inside, but he knows it's not a jab. It's merely the truth: a tragedy has been narrowly avoided. Plans have been changed, and now they are back on track.
Could it be so simple? Anakin wonders, watching as the Lars family and Padmé go over their alibis with Obi-Wan. His guilt over what he's caused wells up again, but Anakin forces it down-he needs a clear head and strong courage for the days ahead.
As Cliegg glides backwards, Anakin steps forward, and Obi-Wan backward, until they are out of earshot.
"Have you heard of Father's Honor?"
"Hmm. . .it sounds familiar."
"On Tattooine, they give every Father a day off, and the slave Fathers a night off. The boys and girls make one gift from scratch to symbolize their appreciation for their Fathers' hard work and loyalty." Anakin bows his head, suddenly shy. "I hated the holiday. Really, I was jealous of the other kids. I never had a Father to honor-until now." He pulls his hand out of his pocket. "I know it's not the exact day of Father's Honor, but. . ."
Obi-Wan stares at the open palm between them. On the flushed skin rests a beautifully carved snippet of japer wood on a necklace string.
"It's supposed to be a good luck charm," Anakin continues, afraid to look up. "I figured you deserve a little luck on your side after all these years of. . .putting up with me." He raises his palm higher and recites the Honor Mantra he never thought he'd get to deliver: "With this gift, I honor you, and all you've done for me. May you stay alive and well, so cherished you can always be."
The seconds stretch like rubber as the two of them stand a foot apart, still against the clouds of sand. Slowly, Obi-Wan takes the snippet and slips the necklace over his auburn head. The snippet flares in the sunlight, a beacon against its owner's dull robes.
When their eyes meet, both are gently shimmering, a fact they will never speak of in the future.
"I find that words fail me here," Obi-Wan murmurs.
We don't need them.
His Master's mouth wobbles at the message, but firmly morphs into a smile.
"Be safe, Master." It sounds more like a plea than a reminder.
Obi-Wan hesitates, and then grasps Anakin's shoulder tightly. The flesh is still tender, so the grip is not without pain, but the younger man suffers through it.
"You be safe, Ani."
The hand drops from Anakin's shoulder and Obi-Wan turns away, before the message in the nickname sinks in. The top of the spacecraft opens and R4 titters in greeting.
The Lars family shout out their goodbyes.
"Safe journey, Master Kenobi!"
"You're always welcome!"
"Thank you, sir!"
Obi-Wan's smile in return as the top closes is filled with a melancholia that Anakin can only compare to countless fathers' faces he's seen before; fathers who watched their children leave home for school or work or adulthood. Fathers whose children took risks and stepped in the line of danger, who knew it was their destiny to leave and never come back.
I will come back, Anakin vows to himself, too cowardly to send it to his Master, but too fierce to keep his thoughts quiet.
He barely registers Padmé beside him until her fingers curl around his own, gently entangling them with the warmth of hope. "Farewell, Obi-Wan," she calls out against the roar of exhaust as the spacecraft revs up. "Too late," she admonishes herself.
"No," he hears himself counter. "He heard you. He always hears you."
She squeezes his hand tighter.
Against the blaring sun and scalding sand, Anakin stands tall and stoic, staring at the spacecraft until it is no longer visible.
A/N: This was the hardest one to write. There were a lot of late nights and revisions and hair-pulls-all while living actual life during the daytime. I might just stick to writing drabbles and vignettes after this, but knowing me I'll fall victim to fleshing things out and it'll turn into another long one.
It is very rare to find a story that acknowledges that Anakin's first unjustifiable act of Sith was against the Sand People. No matter how much I understand, and how much I love Anakin's character, what he did was still wrong, and it set him down a terrible path. So I had to prevent his first Dark act from happening.
Thank you so much for reading. I welcome all feedback (in fact, I crave it) and if you like this one, you are also welcome to my profile, where I've written other "What-If's" for Star Wars that you can read and review if you'd like. Thanks again and have a good December!
P.S. In case you didn't get the hidden message in "He always hears you," Anakin isn't merely talking about Padmé. He's referring to the fact that Obi-Wan always hears everyone, in their cries for help and other things. He hears and he helps. Ok bye now LOL