Obi-Wan's eyes were blue. They had always been blue, but Anakin had never really focused so much on their color before. Now it was all he could look at. The last time he'd seen those eyes, they'd been corrupted by the red of his mask's lenses. Their expression had been very different, then; he'd thought his old master had backed himself into a corner that day - the day Vader had struck the final blow - when really, Obi-Wan had given himself the high ground once again.
Obi-Wan had known it, too.
There had been a wry smile on his face, the kind he'd always gotten right before using some trick to beat Anakin in one of their old sparring matches. Anakin had thought that his old master had gone crazy, smiling like that when there was no trick. He hadn't realized that the trick was his own son.
Now Obi-Wan's eyes, blue like Luke's, bore into him. The Jedi's expression wasn't wry or humorous at all, instead brimming with concern and a touch of confusion. "Everything, Anakin? What do you mean, you saw everything?"
Anakin had noticed as a boy that Obi-Wan's accent was contradictory. It could be so clipped and sharp, and then it could be so round and smooth. Now it was round and smooth, just as it had been since Anakin had arrived back in the past.
A huff of laughter escaped him while his heart thumped oddly at the thought. He was in the past. He was truly being given a second chance, though Force only knew he didn't deserve one. Obi-Wan's hand squeezing his shoulder brought him back from the edge of hysteria along with a wave of calm in the Force, and he looked back up into the blue eyes (when had he looked away?).
"Anakin, what do you mean by everything?"
It was as though a jolt of electricity ran through Anakin, and he suddenly realized that a second chance meant that everything could be different. It could all change. As he looked into his master's earnest blue eyes, he realized that he would never have to see them through the heat of Mustafar again. He would never have to see their muddy complexion through his mask, … he would never have to see Padmé die. He could get rid of Palpatine right then, if he really wanted.
The idea that he could kill the Lord of the Sith before any of his large and convoluted plan came to fruition robbed Anakin of his already short breath (breathing without the whole apparatus was so strange). The Vader inside of him was eager and itching to go and kill the future emperor immediately, and the thought had Anakin choking as his breath hitched. The irony of the idea that Vader was finally choking Anakin Skywalker had him attempting to laugh, despite the fact that there wasn't enough air to do so, and he knew he was in shock.
As Vader, Anakin had never hyperventilated, what with his suit forcing the air in and out regularly, and he'd never really had cause to before that. Now, though, he found that it was very possible.
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan's voice was urgent, though it remained at the same decibel as before. "Anakin, breathe!" Both of Obi-Wan's hands gripped him now, and the Force swirled around him while Obi-Wan tried to help through what little Anakin had opened their bond. All Anakin could think was that it was too bad that the Force hadn't prepared him for this chance, since he was about to waste it by dying.
Thoughts swirled through his mind and colors danced before his eyes, darkening at the edges. Anakin loved seeing colors again. The only time the mask had ever come off - in his oxidized chamber - the colors around him had been white and devoid of life; he had been in his own personal prison. So to die like this now, surrounded by a whirlpool of color, was much more appealing to him.
Luke had been colorful. Luke had been the most beautiful thing he'd ever laid his eyes on since Padmé's death, and he could almost imagine his son there with him. Luke hadn't given up on him, even when he'd been the blackest thing in the Force (apart from his master, of course).
Luke hadn't even been born yet.
There was nothing in that moment that Anakin desired more than to see his son; he wanted to go to his wife, to save her from it all … to help her meet Luke.
He wanted to live.
So, with the help of the Force pooling around him, Anakin Skywalker began to breathe.
It was a long moment before he became aware of his surroundings once again. Obi-Wan was sitting beside him with an arm firmly encircling his shoulders; the Force was thick in the air around them. One glance at his old master told him that the man had at some point begun half-meditating, and so it was with hesitance that he croaked, "Obi-Wan?"
"Anakin." Hid old master's eyes opened immediately, fixed on him with a determination that steeled their blue to an almost grey color. "You aren't well."
"Your vision can wait until tomorrow, Anakin. Today, we're going back to the healers in the temple to make certain that you'll survive this."
"No!" The panic was back, and Anakin began to pull away as he refused, only for the other Jedi to hold him fast.
"Yes, Anakin! It's become clear within the last hour that you need help!" Obi-Wan's tone was sharp, and his eyes were serious.
"Not the temple! I won't go back!" Anakin wriggled a little in his master's firm grip, but Obi-Wan didn't give him any slack. Thoughts of Palpatine and Padmé had fled his mind, and all he could think about was the Jedi. The Council, the younglings, he'd murdered them all; he'd allowed their deaths with no thought or remorse - allowed Palpatine to use him-
"Anakin, I'm not going to watch you destroy yourself because of what you've seen." Obi-Wan's voice softened a little, though his grip remained firm. A wave of calm washed over Anakin in the Force, and he felt his inner turmoil subside to a dull throb. "You're going to come with me back to the temple, and you're going to see a healer so that we can make certain that this vision won't be the death of you." His old master stood slowly, pulling to help Anakin up beside him, and then gently guided him towards the speeder. Anakin went without complaint, though Vader was rebelling inside of him; Obi-Wan was right, after all.
"Yeah, I'll go with you back to the temple." He murmured. "I'll see a healer so we know I'm not dying …"
Obi-Wan gave him a look of alarm when he said that, but he didn't dwell on it for too long, his master was just worried about him. Anakin was a little worried about himself, too. His legs wobbled beneath him, and he knew that he'd have to practice walking before they seemed normal again. How was he going to defeat Palpatine in his current state?
The thought distracted him for only a moment before he looked at the speeder he was being guided towards and remembered the faces of those that he'd murdered. What was he doing?! He pulled backwards, surprised when he managed to slip through Obi-Wan's grip, and then scrambled backwards when he hit the ground. Obi-Wan turned with a look of worried resignation, crouching down in front of him, and Anakin felt the calm wash over him again. "Anakin, please. You must come."
"I must- … no!" He pushed himself away from Obi-Wan, back towards the wall, his left arm collapsing on him twice before his back pressed up against it. There was a moment where Vader almost went to choke his old master, and he stopped himself just in time, instead crying out, "Stop that! I'm not going to let you take me in like an unruly Padawan, Kenobi!" He spat the words, feeling Vader rear up inside of him. His chest felt as though it would burst. When he'd been a child, he remembered sometimes having nightmares, and not wanting to sleep. He knew that Obi-Wan had sometimes used the Force to help him get to sleep.
"You're trying to trick me into going!"
"Anakin, I'm not!" Obi-Wan finally responded with some fire, standing abruptly, and the sudden remembrance of Mustafar robbed Anakin of his retort. He could only look up at his old master's earnest and desperate face while Kenobi shot back. "Never in my life have I managed to Force persuade you without you knowing it, and the fact that I did so just now without even trying to is merely another testament to the fact that you are not well!"
Anakin could only sit and watch. He could feel the fear and worry rolling off of his master in waves, and he knew that he was the cause. He'd done it to Obi-Wan before, and he'd done it to Padmé. He'd done it to everyone he'd ever loved, and now that he had the chance to go back and fix everything … here he was: doing it again.
For a long moment, both he and his former master merely held each other's gazes. Anakin's emotions were boiling over - warring with each other. He didn't want to go to the temple, he wanted to kill Palpatine, he wanted to tell Obi-Wan everything, and yet he wanted to tell no one anything. He wanted to hug Ahsoka, to kiss his wife, to see her expression of love and acceptance and understanding (the same expression that Luke had inherited … was it possible to inherit an expression?)
Then - finally - Obi-Wan knelt before him, his eyes never breaking away from Anakin's. "Anakin. Let me help you." There was no power of the Force behind his old master's words, and Anakin knew that Obi-Wan had to be taking special care to avoid it. A warm feeling engulfed him again, and this time it had nothing to do with the Force.
"Let me go to Padmé first." Out of all the things that Anakin's emotions wanted him to do, this one was the most prominent. Padmé always knew what to do, and he could be honest with her- … well. Mostly honest with her. For now it was probably best if he went with his experience being a vision.
"Anakin." Obi-Wan sounded even older than he had when Vader had killed him, but Anakin could feel more exasperation through the Force than almost anything else. Obi-Wan was hiding it well, but after years of hiding feelings and thoughts from his dark master, Vader easily picked them up from Kenobi. The older Jedi most definitely knew.
"Please, Obi-Wan." Vader hadn't said a word like please in years, and Anakin was surprised at how easily it fell from his lips. "I- … I'll go to the healers afterwards. Just … just give me time with …" He almost said 'my wife,' but at the last second thought better of it. Kenobi needed some mental rest from all of the stress before Anakin went and confessed.
Again, there was a long moment of silence while they held each other's gazes, and then Obi-Wan's eyebrow cocked upwards. "You swear you'll come with me to the healers after seeing Padmé?"
Anakin had been willing to swear it only moments earlier - and he still was - but the moment suddenly became very heavy. He truly was in the past, and though the Vader in him wanted nothing more than to kill the Emperor and take his wife away somewhere safe - perhaps never even acknowledge or deal with the Jedi ever again - … Anakin wanted this.
He couldn't quite put his finger on what this was, but … he wanted it. And he was now realizing that part of getting it was opening up to his old master, even if he'd never done it before, and even if Vader still didn't want to. So he prodded at Kenobi through their tattered bond, letting it widen a little to echo with his words. "I swear, Master."
Obi-Wan had to have been able to feel the weight of the moment as well, yet he merely gave a wan smile. "I'll hold you to that, my old padawan." Then he was helping Anakin to his feet, guiding him back towards the speeder, and the heavy moment was gone.
Haha ... *sweats* ... well. I know I took my time with this, and for that I'm sorry. I also know that it's very short, and I'm also sorry for that.
To be very honest, this chapter sort of kicked me in the butt. I was planning on letting Anakin take the story wherever he wanted it to go next, but I ended up finding out (as you saw in the chapter) that he has no idea exactly what he wants to do.
And poor Obi-Wan just wants to make sure that his Padawan doesn't die.
Anyway. I low-key despise how this thing came out, and I literally live off of feedback (literally, no joke). So lemme know what you all thought, and if you have any suggestions, I really do read them. :) I don't always use them, lol, but I do read them and appreciate any and all ideas.
So. Thanks for being patient, and I hope it was somewhat worth the wait.