AN: The Mortis arch happens later, seeing as I just screwed up the timeline. You will see part of Padme's reaction, but have patience because Luke isn't going to make time to see her so they aren't going to have an abundance of time together until much later.
Chapter 3 - He Lives in You
The tree was dead. Its giant roots twisted and black forming a cave that he had no desire to enter.
Yet a perverse curiosity drove him closer, his feet slushing in the swamp water.
"There's something not right here," he said out loud as much as to himself as to Yoda. "I feel cold… death."
Yoda's response was not at all what he wanted to hear, "That place is strong with the Dark Side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In, you must go."
Fear crawled up Luke's spine, but the curious part of him clawed at his feet, beckoning him closer. And that feeling made him hesitate. Was falling to the Dark Side that easy? As easy as following one's curiosities?
Yoda claimed the Dark Side was not more powerful but, Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Swallowing hard, Luke asked, "What's in there?"
"Only what you bring with you."
Luke looked warily between the tree and Yoda. Then he began to strap on his belt.
"Your weapons," Yoda said, "you will not need them."
Well, that was good to know, but Luke had known Han and Leia enough to know that just because you didn't need weapons didn't mean it would hurt to bring them with you.
Shaking his head, Luke enters the dark passage, the little light of the swap disappearing entirely. He ignites his saber in time to see a lizard crawling up the side of the cave and a large snake wrapped around a branch.
Taking in a deep breath, he goes deeper.
He heard another lightsaber hiss to life.
Vader materializes out of the darkness, charging Luke with his red lightsaber held high.
Luke sidesteps at the right moment, slashing back with his blue saber.
But he met no resistance, the fight was over as quickly as it began. The metallic clatter of Vader's helmet echoes through the cave. Rolling to a stop before cracking down the middle, Luke finally sees the face of the man beneath the mask.
His own face stares back at him, eyes open and without life.
Luke knows he's failed, and Master Yoda will confirm as much.
Luke woke with a gasp, rolling off his mat into a pile of old metal parts, a toolbox spilling across the floor.
He groaned as the tools skittered across the floor in an eerie echo of Vader's helmet.
Who lived like this? It wasn't a room, it was workshed. Obviously his father had been an inventor and mechanic. Luke himself knew his way around a wrench, Han and Chewie had taught him a lot more, but he wasn't exactly up to building a protocol droid from scratch.
Force save him, Darth Vader having invented C3P-O… Han would have rolled his eyes and said he knew the droid was cursed.
Luke steadied his breathing, trying not to think about how his Force vision within the Dark Side had been warning him about becoming his father, about literally living his father's life…
Luke would kill himself before becoming Darth Vader.
And he really hoped that wasn't what the Force had been trying to tell him the solution was to stop the Empire.
He exhaled, and using the Force lifted all the bits of metal and parts into a condensed closet of the room. He might want to salvage the tools at some point but for now, he just wanted to reach the refresher without impaling his feet on debris.
Obi-Wan had given him another set of robes which Luke had gratefully accepted. Last night he had folded them, as well as his father's extra outer robes, belts, gloves, and boots under the bed where he had salvaged them from the closet that had been as disastrous as the rest of the room.
Luke left the black armour and dark brown under robes with the greasy parts and scrap metal.
Luke would not follow his father's choices in life, not even in fashion.
Knowing he wouldn't be able to sleep any further, he left his room to explore more of the Temple. Ahsoka hadn't shown him the archives but she had indicated its direction.
He passed a few people, other Jedi who gave him odd looks when he smiled at them. The Jedi on guard at the archives seemed too bored to even acknowledge who he was, which was perfectly fine with him.
Luke went to one of the computers and found a link to recent news stories. Relieved that he could get some answers without the constant astonishment at his not knowing or reacting wrongly to present events.
What he found was far from comforting. And he found the more he read, the more questions he had.
What were the Jedi doing fighting in this war?
And then he stumbled on a picture of Chancellor Palpatine.
The Republic, it seemed, was the proto type of the Empire.
Luke found himself investigating the Senate. There was too much to really get a grasp on, but he found Senator Bail Organa, Leia's father, and decided that his views would likely be a strong thread of morality in the clusterfuck that was the Republic.
In addition to Bail, he found another politician he could understand, Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo.
He was momentarily taken aback by an old picture of Senator Amidala when she had been Queen of Naboo. Beside her stood a woman Luke almost mistook as Leia before he realized that all of the Queen's handmaidens looked like his twin sister. Even the Senator herself looked like Leia.
Now there was a scary thought: an army of Leias.
Luke found himself wishing he could ask Senators Bail Organa and Padme Amidala why they were supporting the Republic rather than the Separatists, because as far as Luke could tell, the Separatists sounded a lot more like the Rebellion.
Which of course, led Luke down the rabbit hole of discovering what the Separatists actually consisted of.
Count Dooku, apparently, was a Sith Lord.
Luke sat back in his chair frowning at the image of the bearded man Luke had arranged side by side a somber-yet pleasant faced Emperor Palpatine.
He doubted anyone would believe the guy with severe brain damage and no memories that claimed the High Chancellor of the Republic was a Sith Lord. He would have to find a way to prove it. Because after just glimpsing some of the training the Jedi had, he knew he was no match for a fully fledged Dark Lord. His single duel with his father notwithstanding, Vader hadn't been trying to kill him, and Luke had lost a hand.
Those two pictures mocked him from the screen.
Two Sith Lords on either side of a conflict, the Jedi fighting a war in the middle. Luke knew how this equation ended, what he didn't know was how it all added together.
Obi-Wan and Ahsoka walked together to Anakin's room to wake him up. Maybe, Obi-Wan hoped, the new changes in his apprentice might make him approachable in the morning.
When Anakin didn't answer the door at his knocking, that hope waned, at the second knock, Obi-Wan was pretty sure that waking him would be the usual chore it had always been.
Ahsoka pounded on the door, and when again he didn't answer she announced, "We're coming in, Skyguy!"
When they entered they found something quite unexpected; a clean room with a made bed. His clothes, including the extra robes Obi-Wan had given him, were neatly folded under the bed rather than in the closet.
Ahsoka peaked in the closet, and they found all of Anakin's 'projects' stacked carelessly, and his black robes Obi-Wan's were replacing, left buried under some greasy gears.
"He was serious about the wardrobe change then," Ahsoka ventured.
Obi-Wan nodded, "Let's check the training rooms."
It took them all morning to find Anakin when someone mentioned that they had seen him late last night headed to the archives.
"Okay," Ahsoka said, "seriously starting to think he got brain swapped with someone."
Obi-Wan could only shake his head, never in a million years would he have looked for Anakin in the archives, but then, the man had lost all his memories.
They found him in front of a computer reading what appeared to be the latest bombing by the Separatists on the Capital.
"Hey, Skyguy!" Ahsoka greeted, plopping into a seat beside him.
Anakin jumped, glancing at them, "Good morning, Ahsoka, Ben." His gaze went back to the screen, a scowl forming on his face.
That expression was familiar at least.
"Why do you keep calling Obi-Wan Ben?" Ahsoka asked.
This time Anakin turned to them fully, colour in his cheeks, "Sorry, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan shook his head, having trouble with names was hardly the worst thing happening to Anakin, "No harm done, what are you researching?"
Anakin scowled up at him, a flash of familiar anger in his blue eyes, "Why are the Jedi fighting with the Republic?"
Obi-Wan blinked, "Excuse me?"
"What is this war for, Obi-Wan?" Anakin asked, voice hard.
"This war is for democracy, Anakin. The Separatists are trying to destabilize the government."
"So the war is to force the Separatists to be a part of a galactic government? How is that democracy?"
Obi-Wan sat down on the other side of Anakin, reaching over to scroll further down the news clip he had been reading, "This was a movement of peace being voted on within the Senate. The Separatists attacked our power core that same day."
Anakin didn't look moved, "That looks like something the Republic would do to keep the war going." He took the clicker back from Obi-Wan and opened another panel, one of the Trade Federation and Sepratitist Senator. "Why would the Separatists stop a vote that they wanted? Senator Mina Bonteri was killed that same day too. Both sides were inflamed and none of those systems benefited. But it looks like some of the politicians benefited and the federations did too. And of course, Chancellor Palpatine," Anakin said the name with scorn, "looks incredibly popular."
"Anakin," Obi-Wan said, trying to calm the bitterness he could hear in his apprentice even if Anakin was voicing worries that Obi-Wan himself had been having, "The Separatists are terrorists. They are spreading terror through the galaxy."
"And the Jedi aren't?" Anakin shot back, clicking to a page of Mace covered in dirt, surrounded by armoured clones, "The Jedi look terrifying to me."
Obi-Wan was not comfortable with that view. And he forced himself to look at the reports the way Anakin was looking at them. Looking at them as an outsider, like an innocent looking for morality.
There wasn't a lot moral about war. And Obi-Wan wondered at the millions who must have seen this exact picture and seen not a hero but a villain.
Ahsoka put her hand over Anakin's, "What you aren't seeing is the people being enslaved and shot down by droids, Skyguy. War is ugly, but the Jedi are fighting for people's futures. The Republic isn't perfect but anarchy isn't the way either."
Anakin looked back at the screen, his face set in hard lines, so clearly unhappy and somewhat lost.
Obi-Wan put a hand on his shoulder, "Have you eaten yet today?"
He shook his head.
Ahsoka stood, "Come on, Skyguy, I'm sure your friend Palpatine will be able to clear things up for you later this afternoon."
"Friend?" Anakin choked, "I'm friends with Chancellor Palpatine?"
"You helped save his homeworld, Naboo, when you first joined the Order, Anakin," Obi-Wan reminded him.
"Oh," Anakin said, looking a bit green around the edges.
Obi-Wan worried that he might end being a bit starstruck by the politicians after reading the news all night. He really hoped that wasn't the case. "Come on, Anakin, you should eat, your body still has some to recover."
Anakin stood, and by the time they reached the mess hall, his apparent distress had melted away into a reserved calm.
Obi-Wan wasn't sure which was less Skywalker-like, his questioning the Republic and doubting the Chancellor or his control over his emotions.
Sidious was unnerved to learn that his Anakin had been injured in battle. Of course, he had always known the possibility was there, this war after all.
But somehow, the likelihood of permeate amnesia had never equated into the backup plans.
At least, Sidious reasoned, it might give him a blank slate to assert his influence over as he waited with Senator Amidala for his protege to arrive.
The young woman seemed excited to see her lover, as she always was, but Sidious didn't think anyone had bothered to warn her about Anakin's brain injury. And Sidious didn't warn her now, he wanted to know exactly how much the young Knight had forgotten.
The door opened, and Sidious smiled at first Kenobi who entered, then at Anakin who walked behind the Master and beside his once Padawan, Tano.
Anakin didn't smile back, only stared back at him with unreadable eyes, his face a peaceful expressionless mask. The Jedi bowed, and Sidious greeted, "Kenobi, Tano, and Anakin," he was sure to put warmth in his voice, "always a pleasure."
Kenobi gave him a twisted half smile, his voice laced with his usual sarcasm as he replied, "The pleasure, as always, is ours, Chancellor."
"How are you, Anakin?" Sidious asked, "I heard you sustained quite the injury."
"I'm fine, Sir," came Anakin's almost robotic response.
Worry filled Sidious, and he allowed the emotion to spill into his features.
Where was the boy's passion? He hadn't even given Amidala a second glance. Surely, even without memories, he would have still been attracted to her?
"I'm told it's possible you might have forgotten Padme and I?"
Anakin's eyes were cold, emotionless, and Sidious could not even discern him in the Force, "Completely, Sir. But I have been attempting to catch up on current events." His eyes flicked to Amidala, a sliver of warmth entered his gaze, "I must say, Senator Amidala, you've led quite the career. Yours and Senator Organa's were the only voices in the cacophony of the Senate that made any sort of sense to me."
Sidious felt his own expression freeze as he tried to unpack the words that had just come so effortlessly from Anakin's mouth.
Firstly, the boy sounded eloquent, Anakin Skywalker was many things, but rarely eloquent, at least when it came to politics.
Secondly, he had just given Amidala a compliment, nothing unusual about that except for the fact that he had included Organa's name into. Anakin hadn't been flirting, he had been given an honest praise to a woman he, apparently, had no memory of.
And third, it had been subtle, again, not an Anakin quality, but had he been slyly insulting Sidious?
Amidala recovered herself before he did, "Ani, Chancellor Palpatine is our ally as well, without him our work wouldn't be possible."
So she had heard the insult as well.
Anakin only shrugged, then in a tone that was damnably like Kenobi's -lightly sarcastic so no one ever knew if he was being sincere or insincere, said, "Of course, Ma'am, who am I to argue?"
Another backhanded insult directed at him.
Damnit, this was not a part of the plan!
"Anakin," Amidala said, clearly trying to keep the pain from her voice, "please don't call me ma'am. We're your friends."
Cold eyes fell back on Sidious, "So I am told."
Sidious needed time alone with Anakin, he needed to repair this and fast, before Kenobi could reclaim what Sidious had spent far too long sabotaging. "I can see that you are not yourself, perhaps today's business can wait."
Anakin spoke before Sidious could start another sentence, "Thank you, Chancellor. It was wonderful to meet you, Senator Amidala." He bowed more to her than to Sidious.
And without waiting for Kenobi or Tano, he turned on his heel and left the room.
It was so abrupt, Sidious felt his jaw slacken a bit.
That had been rude even by Skywalker standards, meaning that his desire to leave the room must have been higher than Sidious had been able to discern under his calm exterior.
This wasn't good.
Amidala looked to Kenobi, sorrow thick in her voice, "He's really forgotten us, hasn't he?"
Kenobi nodded gravely, "I'm afraid so, M'lady."
"He forgot me too, Padme," Tano said.
Amidala nodded once, "Then if you need anything, if he needs anything, contact me at any time."
Kenobi gave her a sad smile.
Sidious could only say, "I shall be on call as well, if Anakin ne-"
Kenobi cut him off, "Anakin has been demoted both within the military and the Order. He is my charge and I am perfectly capable of helping him with anything he might need during his recovery, thank you, Chancellor. Come, Ahsoka."
The two Jedi left, Kenobi's words echoing in the room. A reminder that Anakin's Master had never trusted Sidious, and despite the time Sidious had with Anakin in his youth, Kenobi had never been far.
Kenobi's 'babysitting' as Anakin had called it, Sidious had used then to further resentment between the two. Even if Sidious as an adult had understood Kenobi's overprotective ways were only a show of a responsible guardian.
Sidious was cursing that all that careful manipulation had been so easily undone.
Obi-Wan found Anakin walking back the way they had come from the Temple.
He caught Anakin's arm, "Anakin, that was rude."
Anakin halted, looking down to meet Obi-Wan's gaze, "I'm aware."
Obi-Wan glared at her too, and she only grinned at him cheekily.
He was never going to have an easy going Padawan, not even this new-leaf Anakin.
"Why were you rude?" Obi-Wan asked, releasing Anakin so he could cross his arms.
"Because," Anakin said, "he said we weren't going to discuss business, and that's why we were there, right?"
"Come on, Obi-Wan, did you really want to spend the next few hours listening to a politician spin banthershit into yarn?"
Ahsoka was laughing now, and Obi-Wan shook his head, "Anakin-"
Anakin interrupted him, "Amidala seemed nice, but Palpatine clearly was trying to get on my good side so he could use me. I doubt we were actually friends, I bet he was just using me to spy on the Jedi."
Obi-Wan shut his mouth, then shut it, asking himself why he was arguing with Anakin who wanted distance from Chancellor Palpatine?
"Honestly, Obi-Wan, I lost my memories, not my intelligence," Anakin said, crossing his arms as well.
"You didn't see Padme's expression when she saw you in white," Ahsoka remarked, redirecting the conversation.
"I'm not wearing all white," Anakin responded, that Padme's opinions should matter to him seemed to go overheard.
"Still," Ahsoka said, "It's very unlike you."
"Well, maybe I don't want to be me. Everyone I smile at does a double take. Even you two, my Master and my Padawan seem astonished when I'm nice to you. I want to be known as someone better than that," Anakin said with a depth of emotion that Obi-Wan couldn't begin to understand all the layers of.
"Why don't we all go to the room of fountains and meditate?" he offered his Padawans.
Ahsoka looked less than thrilled while Anakin looked relieved.
Uncrossing his arms, Anakin said, "That sounds great."
Ahsoka parted her lips, and Anakin pointed a finger at her, "Whatever it is, don't say it."
She smiled mischievously, "I was just going to remark on how normal it was for you to w- Skyguy!"
She shrieked as Anakin scooped her up at the waist and threw her over his shoulder, and instead of walking to the stairs that led to the next walkway, he jumped.
Obi-Wan followed, not bothering to hide his own grin as Ahsoka was left to fight herself free while laughing uncontrollably.
Ahsoka had become a Padawan at the start of the war, Anakin had become Obi-Wan's Padawan after Qui-Gon's death, this lightheartedness had been rare between the three of them.
Obi-Wan was starting to realize that maybe what Anakin needed from everyone was not them helping him adjust to the Knight he had been, but for everyone to adjust to the man he was becoming.
Obi-Wan had a lot to meditate on, and seated between his two Padawan, for the first time since the war started, he felt he had finally had time to actually think.
Starting with Chancellor Palpatine.
Palpatine had always been a source of contention between them. Obi-Wan had spent most of Anakin's Padawan years trying to warn him that Palpatine might just want a powerful ally among the Jedi. Obi-Wan had gone as far as trying to appeal to the Council to lessen the contact between them.
The Council had ignored his worries, so Obi-Wan had been left to wait in Senate halls, outside fancy dining establishments, and even, Force help him, the Opera.
And as a child Anakin had been embarrassed at his Master shadowing him wherever he went, as a teenager, Anakin had all but hated Obi-Wan for what he interpreted as mistrust in his Padawan.
But it wasn't Anakin's judgement Obi-Wan had been concerned about, it had been the overly involved career politician with absolutely no record finding excuse after excuse to spend time with a much younger boy.
And in all those meetings, Palpatine had never crossed a line, and still, Obi-Wan could never bring himself to trust Palpatine.
So now, here was Anakin, without his memories, having a new perspective on the world around him and a much different view of his longtime friend Palpatine. Obi-Wan should be overjoyed that Anakin doubted Palpatine, even that his attachment to Padme had lessened. And he was, it was just a lot of change to take in all in a relatively short period of time.
And for Padme's sake, Obi-Wan did feel regret, he was almost sure she and Anakin had been lovers since the aftermath of the Battle of Geonosis. But it was better, safer, especially in these times that they were no longer together.
Padme Amidala had quite enough targets on her back without being used as possible leverage against a Jedi General.
The rule of attachment didn't exist solely because attachments might lead to the Dark Side, but because the Jedi historically made a lot of enemies, and it was just safer for everyone if the Jedi avoided attachments that could be used against them as blackmail.
Terrible things had been done in the name of love.
Obi-Wan peeked at Anakin to see if he really was mediating.
He wasn't there.
Obi-Wan sighed, leaning back on his hands. He hadn't heard Anakin leave over the sound of the fountains. Disparaging the lack of change as much as he been concerned about the changes, he looked up at the ceiling and-
Ahsoka jumped at his exclamation just as Anakin, who had been cross legged and floating in the air, startled and came crashing to the ground.
Landing hard on his ass with a yelp, Anakin laid back on the ground. His blue eyes filled with amusement, he asked, "Yes, Obi-Wan?"
Ahsoka was back to laughing.
Still a little unsettled, Obi-Wan remarked, "You were floating."
Anakin smiled, "I'm aware."
Obi-Wan shook his head.
A lot of things were changing, and rapidly, yet there remained a constant, Anakin Skywalker, never ceased to amaze.
AN: Thoughts, reactions, ideas, or dancing lions?