He is getting quite good at seething, really; it's the one lesson his new Master actually taught him. He's had a lot of practice.
He waits the night out, fists clenched in his lap. Anakin Skywalker never was very good at meditating, but Vader has had much more patience. Even as his anger flows through him, bolstering him in the Force, he is calm. What was it his Obi-Wan told him once? Still waters run deep?
Vader hates, and he hates deeply.
Obi-Wan had faltered in his own contemplation of their dying fire somewhere in the wee hours; he'd slumped forwards a little, chin leaning against his chest, as if he were used to sleeping sitting up. Vader is now more sure than ever that the war broke out in this universe; his Master was famous throughout the 212th (and the 501st, for that matter) for his ability to catnap anywhere.
Vader does not sleep. Vader waits. He has also gotten very, very good at waiting.
The Sith do not wait, my apprentice. The Sith see what they like, and take it .
No, Vader can't take this Obi-Wan yet. Anakin Skywalker was a solid strategist, and knew Obi-Wan like the back of his own hand. He knew when to push his buttons to get a reaction, and, just as importantly, when to let Obi-Wan break apart on his own. Vader, in contrast, is simply strong enough to actually let it happen.
If Obi-Wan is as broken as he says he is, it will not take long. Still, Vader is...unsettled. And that makes him very angry.
A Force Nexus spitting Vader, the most powerful Force-user in history, out here where a version of his old Master needs him is one thing. They were a team, no matter what universe they are in, and so it makes sense that the Force would will them together if need be. But a Force Nexus snatching Qui-Gon Jinn from another reality and shoving him into Obi-Wan's life here? Why?
Vader suppresses a snort and leans across the dying embers to pull his cloak around his old Master more securely. He stops, fingers curled around the man's shoulder, when Obi-Wan shifts. But the older man does not wake, and Vader sighs in relief; no matter where Obi-Wan is, he evidently never gets enough rest.
The wind blowing into their cave has died down now, and Vader can spy stars in the night sky. It will be dawn soon. Obi-Wan will want to go home, supposedly to his old Master.
Qui-Gon Jinn was not special. He trained Obi-Wan, and saved Anakin Skywalker from slavery, and once upon a time the man who would become Vader was thankful to him, but facts did not cease to be facts because of gratitude; Jinn was a run-of-the-mill Jedi, through and through. The Force would not have spared him from Maul just to send him to the here and now.
But if that is so-then Obi-Wan may be right about losing his mind. But no matter; the important thing is that Vader has found him. The problem of his sanity can wait for another day.
Besides, there is the problem of finding a way back that Vader has not addressed yet. For all he knows, there may not be anywhere to take Obi-Wan back to.
Vader rankles at the thought. He will not be stuck on Tatooine. Not ever again. Not even for Obi-Wan.
It takes another three hours for Obi-Wan to jerk to wakefulness. Anakin Skywalker would have pointed out that it had just past dawn twenty minutes ago and urged his Master to get more sleep before starting out. Vader just tilts his head in greeting. Obi-Wan blanches and Vader feels the corners of his mouth pull up. Even now, even with everything in flux and desperation-the old, old feeling, the one that used to choke Anakin Skywalker half to death when he watched Ahsoka go down in a fight, when Rex was shot at, when Padme was dying in his dreams, when Obi-Wan looked at him with blood and ash and tears on his face- crawling up his throat, Vader can still put his old Master off his game. Some things never stopped being satisfying.
"Home, then, Master?" He keeps his voice soft, kind, calm. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, dear one, Obi-Wan had told Anakin when he was twelve and getting into too many fights with other Padawans.
Obi-Wan had not called Anakin "dear one" for a very long time before the end. Maybe this one will.
"This is decidedly not your home, Vader," Obi-Wan answers in a voice like cracked glass. He huffs, getting to his feet slowly-sore, probably, from their fall the day before, but it serves him right for trying a move like that, the obstinate old fool- and pauses to blink disconcertedly at Vader's cloak as it puddles at his feet.
"It's not your home either, Master."
Something makes Obi-Wan pause at that, and Vader considers the Jedi as that terrible range of emotions flashes across his face again. The guilt is more present now than ever. But Obi-Wan simply shakes his head and looks away after a moment. "It must be."
This is it. This is your way in. "It doesn't, you know." Careful Vader.
"You do not know of which you speak," Obi-Wan replies cryptically. Vader rolls his eyes behind his back as the Jedi turns and gathers his supplies.
"You home is with me, Obi-Wan. It always has been. It always will be."
And then, oh, then-
Obi-Wan turns to him, eyes searching, something horrible behind them. The grief is back, and guilt never left his weary face, but there is some desperate cloying thing there, and the hope-the hope threatens to kill them both just with its light in Obi-Wan's eyes-
And then Obi-Wan's Force presence brushes against Vader's mental shields, questioning, wary, barely there. And Vader cannot help but pounce.
The Darkness in his soul wells up, threatening to engulf Obi-Wan's light as Vader throws down his shields with reckless abandon, reaching out and hooking claws into the light Obi-Wan extends to him. It is warm , so warm and bright and he has missed it , terribly. For a second, he cares not for his carefully laid plans, his strategies, the voice of Anakin Skywalker, ever-present as it is, screaming for his Master's safety in the back of Vader's head.
His Force signature has always been so strong. Obi-Wan told him once, as a child, holding Anakin's hands gently in his own, that he had to be careful with it. "You shine very brightly, Anakin," Obi-Wan had said, blue eyes burning into his. "You are like a sun. But if you push people to look directly at you, they may be blinded. You must strive to only use as much as necessary, and no more. Do you understand?"
Vader does not care.
His darkness swirls around the bright Light of his Master and Vader clings to it greedily. He's here, he's here, he's alive, Vader's mind sings, and he does not care that the Light struggles like a fish out of water in his grasp because it is his. Vader is never going to let go-
A burst of power in the Force shoves Vader back so far his heels skid along the back wall of the cave. The Light wriggles away and although he reaches, clawed and snarling, Obi-Wan's shields slam back into place. And his Master has always had the best shields in the Order.
"You can't escape me, Obi-Wan." Vader gasps, breathless, exhilarated. Anakin Skywalker wails in his mind, horrified, cringing. "I am where you belong."
Obi-Wan straightens his spine and swipes the back of a hand across his mouth. His skin looks grey in the early morning light. "Liar," he says. It is said weakly. Vader smiles and reaches to steady him when the older man nearly trips out of the cave.
Obi-Wan does not look at him when he shakes his hands off.
Obi-Wan leads him across the Jundland Wastes, footing sure and true all the while; it makes Vader's gorge rise to think about how long he must have been here, to know these sands so well. Newcomers were always so evident when Anakin saw them as a child. They'd never learned to walk on sand before, and had a tendency to sink knee deep into it if they weren't careful, like walking on new snow. Obi-Wan crosses the terrain as if he were light as a feather.
Obi-Wan's home, it has to be said, is little more than a hovel. Vader isn't sure whether to laugh at it or cry at the indignity his old Master has been forced into. But by the Force what has happened here? Surely his other self, the one of this world, must be dead. Vader would never let his Obi-Wan live in this squalor, and while Anakin Skywalker was weak and unsure, he would never have stood for it either.
Obi-Wan does not seem to sense his restlessness, most likely keeping his shields high after their encounter in the cave, so he moves forward, undaunted, as Vader lags behind. But the door to the little stone hut opens before the Jedi's fingers reach for it. Panic pervades Vader's senses for a minute, countless scenarios of attack running through his mind before reality sets in. A man steps from Obi-Wan's home, straightening to a rather impressive height under the glaring mid-morning sun. His hair floats in the wind and his light cloak whips against his knees.
"Well," a very much alive Qui-Gon Jinn says serenely, "this is very interesting."
Vader bares his teeth.