Actions

Work Header

Split the Night

Chapter Text

“How many?”

Anakin glanced at his Padawan, barely suppressing a smile.

They rarely played this game now. The length of the war had slowly whittled away any playfulness that survived the never-ending battles. But sometimes they came back to it anyway. It was familiar, and a reminder that they weren’t just a general and a commander. They were master and padawan. And they were friends.

Anakin paused pretending to think hard. “Must’ve been 102, Snips,” he said smugly.

Ahsoka scowled. “You must’ve counted wrong,” she grumbled as she stalked away to check on Rex and the men.

Anakin laughed as he followed behind her. “Look, I may have failed every politics class at the temple, but I did alright at math, you know?”

Ahsoka rolled her eyes. “You failed politics? Wow, what a shock. You’re so diplomatic.”

Anakin playfully shoved his apprentice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m great at negotiations.”

“Master the only I’ve ever seen you ‘negotiate’ successfully is the price of that Bilbringi pie we bought from that old lady on the street.” She grinned. “And I’m pretty sure the only reason she gave such a good price is because she thought you were cute.”

Anakin looked horrified. “The lady was ancient. She would’ve been a better match for Yoda than me.”

Ahsoka wrinkled her nose. “Ew. Not an image I needed. Anyway she tried to pinch your butt when we walked away.”

Rex, who they’d finally managed to reach, frowned upon hearing the tail-end of the conversation. “Sir? Who pinched whose butt?”

“Are we talking about Senator Amidala again?” came a distant voice from the barracks.

Before Anakin could retaliate against his troops’ ill-founded gossip, Obi-Wan strolled up next to the small group. Ahsoka shifted uncomfortably as she immediately felt her master’s good humor vanish and his shoulders tense. Things had been…cold since Obi-Wan had come back from the dead. The Council had given them all a rare, but brief, respite following the Rako Hardeen debacle. She knew Anakin had purposefully avoided his former master during their time in the temple, preferring to spar with Ahsoka or slip off into Coruscant’s night. Though she knew Obi-Wan also had a flurry of work and meetings to catch up on, she suspected he had found additional ways to avoid bumping into Anakin.

For her part, she wasn’t mad at Obi-Wan. Not exactly. She did understand why he did it, and being Temple-raised, she forgave the necessities of duty before attachment far easier than her master. But then again, she knew that the false shooting would have happened with or without her present. It wasn’t her reaction that the Council had been depending on to sell their charade.

And that was where her uneasiness refused to settle. Because every time she looked at Obi-Wan, she felt Anakin’s despair and grief all over again. Felt the cold silence that settled in their hearts in those days following the funeral. Felt the pain that had driven Anakin so relentlessly in their search for Hardeen. And the pain that had tripled upon realizing his old master’s betrayal. Upon realizing how he’d been used. Ahsoka could forgive Obi-Wan and the council for her pain, but she wasn’t sure she could for Anakin’s.

However, the demands of war had thrown the three Jedi onto the battlefield together once more, and Ahsoka was determined to make sure that her little family made it through this. Turning her attention back to the Jedi Master she gave her report. “Our field’s all clear of Seppies, Master Kenobi.” Her face hardened. “Fourteen dead. Twenty-seven injured.”

Obi-Wan nodded grimly. “Thank you, Ahsoka.” He turned to his former apprentice. Ahsoka couldn’t be sure, but she might’ve sworn that the man had braced himself and had tightened his mental shields ever so slightly. “Anakin?”

Anakin glared at the older man before giving his report. “Field clear. Nine dead. Twenty-two injured.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “Very well. Make sure the dead are removed and the injured taken care of.”

“We’ve already started,” snapped Anakin. “Me and Ahsoka got clean-up covered. You’re free to report to the Council,” he said, nearly spitting the last word out. “It’s what you do best,” he mumbled as he starting walking back to the field.

“Anakin-“ started Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka didn’t know whether to give her master a hug to comfort him or a slap for bringing Hardeen up at this time. “Anakin, please, we can talk-“ Obi-Wan stopped as he caught sight of the stain on Anakin’s robes. “Anakin, you’re bleeding. Are you hurt?”

Anakin glanced down at the red stain on his tunic. “It’s just some scratches from the shrapnel,” he said and returned to his errand. Ahsoka caught a faint ‘Why do you even care?’ floating through the force, though she chose to ignore it.

Obi-Wan frowned. “Anakin, you need to report to Kix to make sure it’s nothing more serious.”

Before Anakin could escalate the argument, Ahsoka cut in. “Come on, Master. Even if it’s nothing serious, at least you’ll stop dropping blood everywhere. You’ll ruin my new carpets,” she teased, though the red stain had her worried as well.

Anakin rolled his eyes at his Padawan, though she could sense his hostility had diminished. “Yeah, yeah alright Snips. Wouldn’t want to ruin your décor after all.”

Together, master and apprentice made their way to the medical tent. Though Anakin didn’t spare a second glance at his old master, Ahsoka turned briefly to catch Obi-Wan’s eye, mouthing ‘Sorry.’ Obi-Wan gave her a small smile, nodding his thanks. She nodded in return and tried to ignore the relief and guilt she had felt slip through Master Kenobi’s shields.

She sighed. She didn’t want her family to get hurt again.


 

“THE TEAM: BETTER THAN EVER AS GENERAL KENOBI COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD AND INTO THE FRAY”

“KENOBI AND SKYWALKER TRIUMPH AGAIN”

“AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT AND AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE: KENOBI AND SKYWALKER PROVE THE REPUBLIC’S MOST VALUED GENERALS”

“KENOBI AND SKYWALKER: THE UNBREAKABLE TEAM”

He flicked through the headlines, blood boiling each time Kenobi’s stoic face adorned the newspages of the Holonet. The public couldn’t get enough of him. Kenobi. Hero. Negotiator. Savior.

But it wasn’t just him, was it? Kenobi and Skywalker. It seemed like a chant, an invocation that evoked images of power, justice, and hope. He studied the hundreds of pictures that paraded through the news sites. Kenobi and Skywalker fighting back to back. Kenobi and Skywalker receiving the thanks of some diplomat. Even a rare shot of Kenobi and Skywalker sharing a laugh on the battlefield.

Skywalker. He scanned the pages of Holonet, easily digging up information on the Republic’s most famous Jedi. An inhuman pilot. A brave warrior. An unmatched strategist.

And Kenobi’s own apprentice.

The Sith grinned darkly as he remembered the pleasure he had felt when he had run that Jedi Master through with his lightsaber all those years ago on Naboo. And the rush of dark delightful pain and hatred that had emanated from the man’s apprentice, Kenobi. Maul knew. Kenobi may seem like the perfect Jedi, but he knew that the man cared far too deeply. He loved too deeply for a Jedi, especially when it came to those around him. And if the man had loved his own Master so deeply, how much would he care for his own apprentice, someone he must have raised and protected for years.

Maul smiled, setting the datapad down. Killing Kenobi’s master had nearly pushed the man over the edge all those years ago.

Killing his Padawan would destroy him completely.

Chapter Text

“Anakin, you need to report to Kix to make sure it’s nothing more serious.”

Anakin glared at Obi-Wan, ready to tell him exactly where he could shove his “concern” when Ahsoka interrupted. “Come on, Master. Even if it’s nothing serious, at least you’ll stop dropping blood everywhere. You’ll ruin my new carpets.”

Anakin rolled his eyes, but his Padawan’s words did ease his anger. “Yeah, yeah alright Snips. Wouldn’t want to ruin your décor after all.” He turned and began walking toward the medical tents with his apprentice, mulling over the conversation. How was it that Ahsoka’s snippy, flippant remarks sounded more caring than Obi-Wan’s concerned inquiries? When did that happen?

They quickly reached the tents, where Kix was examining some of the other troopers. “Hey Kix,” called Ahsoka, “Got another package for you.”

Kix turned and nodded at his general and commander. “Alright. Who needs patching up this time?” Anakin found himself rolling his eyes again as Ahsoka firmly informed their medic that it was Anakin, of course, as she would never be so reckless as to get hurt in battle, before turning and leaving Kix to his sulky patient.

Kix chuckled as he moved to examine the deep cut across Anakin’s ribs. “Got to say, sir,” he said as he gently dabbed the wound, “Kind of surprised to see you here voluntarily. We usually have to drag you kickin’ and screamin’ or unconscious to medical.”

Anakin shrugged as much as he could without interfering with Kix’s examination. “You know. Gotta start setting a responsible example and all that for the kids.” Kix laughed as he pressed a bandage to Anakin’s ribs.

“What we lack in years we make up for in experience, sir. And enthusiasm,” he said grinning up at Anakin as he finished his work. “The cut was pretty deep, but nothing too serious- it was more important to get something on there to prevent infection. Just try to avoid upsetting it as much as you can and it should be fine soon.”

Anakin nodded as he stood and began to walk through the medical tent, checking in on the injured and thinking about Kix’s words. It was true that he normally avoided the medics like sand. With so many of his men injured, he always hated taking any attention away from those who really needed it. After all, he could last much longer than most without medical attention. A cut like this? To a man who had lost limb, it seemed more like a splinter than an injury worthy of medical attention. If it’d just been him on the field, he would have popped a few pain relievers and slept it off after clean-up was over.

But Ahsoka was with him.

It wasn’t like Ahsoka had never been concerned about him before. She checked him over after battles the same way he did her and pushed him to the medics if he was on the verge of collapsing. She knew full well how fussy he was about getting medical attention and only insisted in the most urgent of cases. But lately, she’d seemed far more overprotective than usual. Not that Anakin could blame her. She’d already watched one master die in her arms. He imagined she wasn’t too keen on thought of losing another one.

And that brought him back to the bearded man in deep conversation with Cody some yards away. Force, Anakin still didn’t know what to make of his master, back from the dead. The anger, he expected, the disgust, the rage, the hurt. But even more than that? He felt happy. Euphoric. Obi-Wan was back from the dead. His beloved master had come back, back even after he had felt his pulse-less wrist, back even after watching the flames of his funeral pyre consume the man’s body. Obi-Wan was back. The disbelief, the sheer joy he had felt, knowing that his brother wasn’t lost to him forever…

It was the same feeling he would have had watching Shmi Skywalker come back from the dead.

Anakin sighed suddenly feeling far older than he was. He was happy, so happy that Obi-Wan was back, as happy as he would have been seeing his mother rise from the grave. But Mom would have never lied to him.

She wouldn’t have betrayed him that way.

***

13 Hours Later: Coruscant

Padme Amidala stopped and grinned as she stepped out of her kitchen with a bowl of popcorn in her hands.

Anakin was sprawled on her couch, lazily flicking through the selection of romance movies on the Holoflix. He had taken off all but one of his tunics as well as his boots and seemed nearly fused to Padme’s cushions, a picture of inelegance and comfort. She loved her husband in these moments. Though she admittedly had a bit of weakness for seeing her strong Jedi protector, the Hero With No Fear, in all his glory, this is who she really fell in love with. The kind, quiet man that was her Ani.

She kicked off her shoes and nestled beside Anakin, offering him a handful of popcorn which he distractedly took. “Anything good?” she asked munching on her popcorn.

Anakin nodded. “How does Love by the Lake sound? It has romance and pirates,” he said grinning.

“Hmm, sounds like the best of both worlds,” teased Padme, “Romance for you and pirates for me.”

Anakin stuck his tongue out at her before quickly stealing a piece of popcorn that had just reached her lips. Padme swatted at him playfully before reaching for the controller and starting the movie. Though she had been teasing, she suspected that Anakin loved the romance as much as the pirates. He was a sappy romantic himself, always telling her about the grand romantic gestures of love he would want to make after the war was over and they could reveal their love. She bet he got half of his ideas from the holodramas he and the clones watched in between battles.

A quarter of the way into the film, Padme shifted slightly against Anakin’s chest and asked the question she’d been dying to ask since he got home. “So Ani,” she said casually, “How was the mission?”

Without taking his eyes from the screen Anakin shrugged and answered. “It was fine. Normal mission.”

Padme paused. “That’s good,” she said. “It was three of you this time right?”

“Mmhmm.”

Padme paused again. “And how was that?”

Anakin sighed before reaching over and pausing the movie. “What exactly are you trying to ask, Padme?”

Padme reluctantly lifted her head from Anakin’s shoulder and turned to face her husband. “You know what I’m trying to ask Ani. It’s important that you talk about this.”

Anakin frowned, avoiding his wife’s eyes. “Talk about what? Obi-Wan lied to me, now he’s back, and I refuse to talk to him. Happy?”

Padme crossed her arms and fixed her husband with a glare. “No, Anakin, not happy. You mean you two really haven’t talked about this?”

“What there’s to talk about? It’s just the same thing over again. The kriffing Council and Obi-Wan don’t trust me enough except to be horrible Jedi and get attached which, hey look at that, finally came in handy!” Anakin launched himself off the couch and started pacing. “Skywalker’s a screw up anyway so it’s okay to lie to him. We can just use his feelings and, hey, maybe that’ll even teach him not to get attached! Genius!”

“Anakin-“

“Especially Obi-Wan! Good for him! His disappointment of a student is good for something other than chopping off droid heads.” Anakin huffed. “It’s not just that they don’t trust me, Padme. It’s… humiliating. Skywalker’s such a horrible Jedi that we can completely count on his ridiculous sadness and attachment for this super important plan.” He sighed. “How could Obi-Wan lie to me?”

 He looked at her straight in the eye.  “How could he betray me like that? I can’t forgive him after this, Padme,” he whispered.

Padme gently took his hands and lowered him back onto the couch. She took a breath. “Ani. You know I understand. You know I’m on your side. You know that I’m completely appalled by the way the Council and Obi-Wan acted.” She took another breath. He wasn’t going to like what she was about to say.

“But Anakin. You know that Obi-Wan’s not the only one who’s lied in your relationship.”

Anakin stared at her in disbelief. He opened his mouth to lash back before closing it again. Well. Yeah, okay. Just the fact that he was sitting in his secret wife’s apartment was reminder enough of the years of lies since their marriage. Not to mention Tatooine…

Sensing that perhaps her thick-headed husband might actually be seeing some reason, Padme pressed on. “You need to forgive him, Ani.”

Anakin closed his eyes and let himself fall back into his wife’s arms. “Padme… it’s different. I’m not saying that the stuff I’ve lied about is okay, but, I mean, I never used anybody, you know?” He held her a little tighter. “I was a slave for nine years, Padme,” he whispered. “I know what it feels like to be used. For someone to just look at you like a tool or a step to get something else. To not be looked at like a person. And there’s so many horrible things that happen in slavery. Everyone pictures the beatings, and the abuse and the danger and the sickness.” He opened his eyes. “But it’s also that feeling. Of just being someone’s object, someone’s tool. And when I found out that I had been used, again, just this time by the Council…it kind of felt the same way. Even worse in some ways because I was used just for who I am. I can’t help my feelings, Padme. It’s just how I’m wired. And I honestly don’t even care.” He sighed.” I expected that from my old masters. And honestly, I’m not even surprised by the Council. But I thought Obi-Wan was my friend. For him to use me like that…I just don’t know how to move past it.”

Padme hugged her husband a little tighter, slowly brushing his blonde curls with her fingers. “I know Ani. And I’m sorry that I don’t have better answers for you. But Anakin, you and Obi-Wan need each other to survive this war. And not only on the battlefield.” She kissed Anakin gently on the forehead. “You two need to talk about this,” she said quietly before turning the film back on and allowing Anakin to snuggle closer.

***

Many blocks away, Obi-Wan Kenobi sat alone in his quarters drinking tea. Although he technically lived alone, his apartment was often occupied by another young blonde Jedi and a sarcastic Togruta between missions. Though he bemoaned his lack of privacy to his companions dramatically, both they and he knew he secretly enjoyed having the two young people for company. It was refreshing to be able to sit and make his Padawans tea, all three of them nearly forgetting that they had a war to get back to.

He sighed as looked into his cup, wishing there was a little something stronger in it. The last mission- well it hadn’t been a disaster. There were no dramatic scenes, no broken bones. But he hated the coldness that had settled between Anakin. They’d barely spoken, apart from discussing mission details, and the ‘Why do you care’ he caught from Anakin when he’d asked about his injury made his heart clench. He hated when Anakin was mad at him, hated that he wouldn’t talk to him. But he couldn’t stand the thought of Anakin believing  he didn’t care about him.

Obi-Wan buried his face in his hands, frustrated at the Council and at himself. Frustrated at Anakin’s blindness for not understanding why Obi-Wan had no choice but to do what he did. The Hardeen mission was a success, thanks in part to Anakin. Force, it was because of that deception that Obi-Wan had managed to rescue one of Anakin’s closest friends, the Chancellor.

So why won’t he understand?

Obi-Wan sighed again, mulling over the idea of heading to the cantina when his commlink beeped. Obi-Wan answered. “Kenobi here.”

Obi-Wan, it’s Mace. We need you and Skywalker in the Council chambers immediately. There’s an emergency.

Obi-Wan frowned already searching for his robe. “What kind of emergency?”

Maul has sent us a message.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan wasn’t given to pacing.

He sat calmly outside the Council chambers, his stoic façade masking the anxiety the roiled beneath the surface. The Council was apparently dealing with a nice selection of emergencies today, leaving the Jedi Master to wait hungrily for news as the previous briefing finished.

 Lucky for Anakin, thought Obi-Wan as he checked the time frowning. He should be here by now.

It had been twenty minutes since he’d commed the younger Jedi. As a Knight and a master himself, Anakin should have answered the Council summons immediately. Obi-Wan sighed. He knew from experience and, basic observation, that if Anakin wasn’t here yet, it was because he was simply not in theTemple. And where could any responsible Jedi with a Padawan of their own possibly be?

I couldn’t even begin to imagine, thought Obi-Wan tiredly as he pictured Senator Amidala’s apartment.

And that…frustrated him. He knew Anakin kept secrets, his relationship with Padme likely not the only one. Since the whole event with Rako Hardeen, he’d been tempted to counter Anakin’s angry outbursts with questions regarding his former Padawan’s own deceptions. Not to embarrass or shame Anakin. No. Obi-Wan just wanted his stubborn brother to understand why he made his decisions. To see that he wasn’t trying to hurt him, that he was acting for the greater good, and that it had truly hurt him to risk their trust.

Obi-Wan knew Anakin cared for him. He cared too much, far more than the Code allowed. And though the Master in him frowned upon Anakin’s attachment to him, his knowledge of that love gave him faith that Anakin’s own deceptions weren’t meant to hurt his former master.

Why couldn’t he see that Obi-Wan’s actions also weren’t meant to hurt? Perhaps they weren’t right-but they weren’t done out of cold indifference either.

Force, why couldn’t he see that Obi-Wan just wanted Anakin to be happy?

Lost in his thoughts, Obi-Wan nearly missed the doors to the Council chamber sliding open. Surprised, Obi-Wan saw the familiar face of Quinlan Vos exiting the room. Catching sight of Obi-Wan, Quinlan instantly strode over to the other Jedi.

 “Hey Kenobi!” Quinlan said grinning broadly. “You’re doing well for a corpse, you know?” He clapped Obi-Wan on the shoulder. “Man, hope I look this good when I die.”

Obi-Wan smiled at his old friend, returning the gesture. “Vos, you’ll never die. The Force would spit you back out after dealing with you for five minutes.”

Quinlan laughed. “You’ll hurt my tender feelings, Kenobi. All two of them.” Sobering, he offered his friend a weak smile. “But, uh, hey man that must’ve been intense. You doing ok?”

Obi-Wan shrugged off his concern. “Fine. The mission was a success after all.”

“Uh huh,” said Quinlan, staring intently at Obi-Wan. “So, if it was so ‘fine’ why aren’t you looking me in the eye?”

“I don’t-“

“Come on, Obi, I’ve known you since we were in the crèche. You think I don’t know when something’s up?”

Obi-Wan shifted uncomfortably. “Look, it was a… difficult mission. But it was necessary. How else could we have saved the Chancellor? The galaxy’s already in so much turmoil- the Republic would fall apart without a leader.” He looked Quinlan in the eye. “But it’s over now. It’s fine.” Will Anakin and I be fine again?

Quinlan shrugged. “Hey man, if you say so. I’m just glad you’re back.” He grinned. “The war would be a lot less fun without you.”

Obi-Wan laughed humorlessly. “Glad to be appreciated.” Is Anakin even glad to see me back?

Quinlan adjusted his robes around his shoulders. “Well, good to see you Kenobi. Council’s got a new mission for me so I’d best be off.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “Good to see you too, Quin. Be careful out there.” He hesitated, unsure. Well, he had to start practicing, didn’t he?  “And Quinlan? I’m… sorry. You know. If- well, with the fake death, if it was-“

Quinlan waved his apology off. “Hey man, don’t sweat it. I get it. Desperate times, desperate measures and all that.” Quinlan leaned in close, gently putting both hands on Obi-Wan’s shoulders. “But listen, Obi. Don’t forget yourself, yeah? The war makes it hard, but don’t forget what we fight for. Who we fight for. You know?”

Obi-Wan nodded uncertainly. Smiling, Quinlan gave him one last pat as he made his way to lift.  He’d nearly reached it when the lift’s door slid open, revealing a harried Anakin Skywalker as he stumbled out.

Quinlan caught the younger Jedi as Anakin nearly tripped out of the lift.  “Whoa, take it easy Skywalker. Council’s wrapping up the notes on my meeting, they’re still getting ready for you guys.”

Anakin straightened himself, embarrassed. “Oh uh, hey Master Vos. Thanks for the update.”

“No problem,” said Quinlan as he left the two Jedi waiting.

Obi-Wan glanced over at his former Padawan as they awkwardly took a seat on the bench. He couldn’t help but notice that the younger man’s robe was inside out. Again.

“For Force’s sake, Anakin, you can construct dazzling space engines from scratch, but you can’t manage to pull your robe on correctly?”

Anakin laughed. “At least my robe’s on my back and not somewhere on Pantora, Master.” He grinned, mimicking his master’s polished tones. “How uncivilized, Obi-Wan. Dropping your clothes all over the galaxy.”

Obi-Wan sighed dramatically, barely hiding a grin. “And yet, even then I look far more dignified without my robe than you do with yours on.”

Anakin rolled his eyes, nudging his old master playfully in the ribs. “That’s why the ladies love you, right?”

“Something like that, I’m sure.”

Obi-Wan was suddenly pulled from his memories by Anakin’s voice.

“So, uh, Obi-Wan? What’s going on? Your message just said it was urgent.”

Obi-Wan studied Anakin carefully before responding. The younger man didn’t seem angry anymore, just…. Pensive? Uncomfortable?

Obi-Wan cleared his throat. “Well, ah, I’m not exactly sure. All Master Windu told me was that Maul had sent us a message.”

Anakin started. “Maul? What does he want? Why us? I mean, yeah you make sense, but why me?”

Obi-Wan shook his head. “I am not certain. I suppose we’ll find out soon.”

The pair lapsed into silence, each avoiding the other’s gaze. It was nearly a relief when the chamber doors slid open and Mace Windu’s voice called them inside.  Obi-Wan and Anakin strode into the center of the room, bowing to Mace and Yoda. The masters inclined their heads and proceeded with the briefing.

“Master Kenobi, Knight Skywalker. Thank you for coming at such short notice.”

“Of course masters,” said Obi-Wan  while Anakin nodded.

Mace sighed as he turned on the holo-projector in the center of the room. “There’s no easy way to describe this so I’ll just play it for the both of you.”

Obi-Wan and Anakin turned their attention to the projection, each paling as the images paraded in front of them in increasing horror.

Screams reverberated around the Council chambers as inhabitants of Raydonia were slaughtered before them. The room watched as Maul and Savage Oppress brutally stabbed and cut down fleeing villagers, their lightsabers a blur upon the projection. The massacre seemed endless. Anakin and Obi-Wan stiffened as the brothers from Dathomir paused their slaughter to face the recorder. Savage, however, gripped a sobbing woman by the neck as Maul spoke.

You see me returned to power, pathetic Jedi. This is the strength of the Dark Side. Our strength. As you continue sniveling at the feet of your worthless Senate, we grow in power each day. That farce of a master you call Kenobi may have cut me one down once, but even death has not stopped me.

I challenge you Jedi. You think you are strong but you are powerless.” Maul nodded to Savage who instantly cut the throat of the sobbing woman in his grip. Her limp body fell, silent. “You see? You cannot even protect those innocents you claim to serve. I challenge you. Send me your best. Send me your Team, Kenobi and Skywalker, so that I can prove how even the mightiest of the Jedi can be vanquished.

They shall come alone to Raydonia. Should they fail to arrive, or should they arrive accompanied, I will murder every last being on this planet.” With that the hologram ended.

Anakin and Obi-Wan stood stunned for a moment. Recovering first, Anakin said,  “We have to leave immediately.”

Yoda nodded, his eyes downcast. “Sense there is more to this, I do. But, have a choice, we do not. Stop this slaughter, before worsens it does, we must.”

“We need to stop Maul at Raydonia,” agreed Mace. “He’s extraordinarily unpredictable. Who knows the damage he and his brother could wreak.”

“We’ll leave within the hour,” promised Obi-Wan. With a final bow, he and Anakin left the chambers.

********

“Master, you have to let me go with you!”

Anakin looked down at his Padawan. “Ahsoka, I said no.”

“But Master-“

“Ahsoka, Maul and Savage are too dangerous-“

“That’s exactly why you and Obi-Wan shouldn’t be going alone! Master, please!”

“Ahsoka.” said Anakin firmly. His eyes softened as he looked into his Padawan’s bright blue eyes, heart clenching as he saw the all too familiar fear within them. “Ahsoka,” he said softly, “You aren’t going to lose any more masters. I promise you that.”

Ahsoka looked down at her feet, hugging herself. “You know you can’t promise that, Master.”

“Hey, I also promised Fives I could fit 23 neka nuts in my mouth and I came through didn’t I?”

 “Masterrrr,” groaned Ahsoka, “It’s not the same.”

Anakin sighed. “I know it’s not, Snips. But you gotta trust me and Obi-Wan on this one, ok?”

Ahsoka looked up at him. “Are you and Obi-Wan gonna be alright?”

Anakin nodded, avoiding his Padawan’s gaze. “Yeah, of course, Snips. We have to be.” Placing his hands on her shoulders he looked her squarely in the eye. “So, you know the drill when I’m gone.”

Ahsoka let a little smile slip. “Stay up late, eat lots of junk food, and do the opposite of what Master Windu tells me.”

Anakin patted her back. “That’s my girl.”

Ahsoka smiled up at him before grabbing him in a sudden hug. “Be careful, Skyguy, ok? Come back in one piece.”

Startled, Anakin looked down at his Padawan before returning the hug tightly. “I will.” They stayed like that for a few moments before reluctantly releasing each other. Walking down the hall, Anakin began to make his way down to the ships.

“Hey, Skyguy?”

Anakin turned back to Ahsoka. “Yeah Snips?”

“Just… you know that Master Kenobi cares about you, right?”

Anakin smiled sadly. “Master Kenobi’s a Jedi.”

*****

Anakin stood examining their ship as the mechanics made their final checks. He would much rather do the checks himself, but he knew how easily he could get lost in the work and time certainly wasn’t on their side.

“Anakin, my boy!”

Surprised, Anakin turned to see Chancellor Palpatine strolling up to him, a warm smile on his face. “Your Excellency,” said Anakin. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

The Chancellor smiled at him. “I just flew from an off-planet meeting to speak with Council. I’m quite happy to run into you, though.” The elderly man looked up at Anakin’s ship. “Don’t tell me you’re leaving for another mission so soon? I understand you just returned from the last one!”

Anakin shrugged. “Duty calls. Master Kenobi and I are headed to Raydonia.”

Palpatine frowned. “They’re sending you with Master Kenobi?” Sensing Anakin’s discomfort, he hastily added, “Nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s just-well I suppose it’s impossible to always be able work with those you trust, especially these days.”

“Obi-Wan’s trustworthy,” said Anakin defensively, unable to resist protecting his master. “He just… he has his ways.”

Palpatine nodded, patting Anakin one the shoulder. “Well, I wish the best of luck either way, my boy. Remember, you can always call me if you need something. I always have time for you, you know that." Anakin bowed as the Chancellor made his way inside the Temple.

“Anakin?” He found Obi-Wan walking up beside him. “Are you ready to go?”

Anakin nodded. “I’m ready, Master.”

 

Chapter Text

Anakin was fidgeting.

The young Jedi had successfully piloted their ship into hyperspace, settling them in for the 13 hour ride to Raydonia. Normally at this point, Obi-Wan would complain about the excessive loops Anakin had taken into the atmosphere. Or Anakin, who never managed silence for long, would provoke his master into some debate over lightsaber combat or what Master Windu’s various facial cues meant. Or dessert. Anakin loved talking about dessert.

However, twenty minutes into their flight, neither Jedi had spoken a word. They sat uncomfortably in their cockpit, distracting themselves with calculations (which Anakin had “checked” three times already) or a datapad on Raydonia (whose first paragraph Obi-Wan was still reading).

Obi-Wan glanced at his former Padawan. Come on, Kenobi, he thought, Say something. Say anything. Should I just come out and say sorry about the Hardeen thing? Would he get mad? Maybe I can ease in with that discussion we had about Sparklemint sticks some weeks ago….

Before he had a chance to say anything, Anakin cleared his throat. “Uh, Master? I think I’ll take R2 back for some tuning. I just want to clean him up a bit.”

Obi-Wan looked up, startled. “Oh. Um. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.”

Nodding, Anakin beckoned to the droid, the pair making their way out of the cockpit.

Watching them leave, Obi-Wan slumped into his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Blast it.

***

Kriff. I should have said something to Obi-Wan.

Anakin carefully opened R2 up, examining the parts inside. For a droid who spent a great deal of his life in war zones, he was in remarkably good shape. Anakin loved fixing R2 almost as much as R2 enjoyed being fixed.

Throwing himself into the work, Anakin let his thoughts drift. For what seemed like the millionth time since taking off, he wished Padme was here.

Well, that in and of itself wasn’t so unusual. He spent practically every moment of his life wishing his Angel was at his side. However, he usually wished for Padme, his Angel, not Senator Amidala, the politician. She would know exactly how to navigate this weird tension between him and Obi-Wan.

I wish I could tell Obi-Wan about her. About us. Anakin sighed. But he wouldn’t get it. I’d be out of the Order in two seconds.

As if sensing his friend’s dark mood, R2 beeped inquisitively.

“Nah, I’m fine, buddy,” Anakin said smiling down at his friend. “Just some stuff with Obi-Wan’s got me kind of upset.”

R2 beeped, angrily shaking a little as he offered his unique brand of help.

Anakin laughed. “You know, I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think you should shock Obi-Wan.” R2 beeped hopefully. “No, not even a little shock.”

R2 booped again, suggesting that such methods often worked with Threepio.

Anakin frowned, wagging his wrench at the droid. “It only works with Threepio because you know he won’t fight back.”

R2 beeped again.

“R2 no, no tripping either. Yes, I know you don’t like the loose wire jokes, but that’s just how he copes with stress! No, I can definitely work it out. Yes, R2 without your help! How? I’ll just talk to him ok? Just because it doesn’t work with Threepio doesn’t mean it won’t work with us either.”

Finishing his maintenance, Anakin closed the droid up, glaring at him. “I’m not a pansy! Look, I’ll prove it to you right now, ok?”

 Anakin gathered his tools in a huff, muttering about stubborn droids and reprogramming.

R2 happily followed his master to the cockpit.

***

Obi-Wan looked up from his datapad as Anakin and R2 reentered the cockpit. “How’s R2 doing?” he asked.

Anakin shrugged. “Pretty good. Nothing major going on.”

R2 angrily added his own assessment.

Frowning, Obi-Wan turned toward Anakin. “What did he just say?”

Anakin smirked. “Just that he appreciates your concern.”

R2 trilled indignantly at the translation while Obi-Wan muttered “That’s definitely not what he said.”

However, though he was used to the droid’s erratic outbursts, this seemed unusually aggressive, even for him. Looking at his young friend, Obi-Wan steeled himself. Come on, Kenobi. Just start. “So. Any particular reason he’s even more upset with me than usual?”

Realizing he hadn’t actually thought through what he wanted to say, Anakin faltered. “Uh. Just some stuff I mentioned to him.”

Obi-Wan nodded. R2 did seem to be Anakin’s best therapist. “Would-would you like to talk about it?”

Anakin shifted uncomfortably. Just out with it. Where do I start? I wish you trusted me more? I’m kriffing euphoric that you’re alive? Did you know I’m married? Why the hell did you do that to me?

“So, uh Maul. I don’t have a great feeling about this.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “Nor do I,” he admitted. “This whole situation has me quite…unsettled.”

Anakin nodded, a little surprised. Obi-Wan didn’t often admit his reservations so openly. “It’s weird, you know?” said Anakin. “Maul. He was the first Sith I ever saw.”

Now it was Obi-Wan’s turn to be surprised. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. The first Sith to appear in millennia.” He smiled softly. “Of course, you’d run into him.”

Anakin grinned. “Anakin Skywalker. Danger magnet of twenty plus years.”

Obi-Wan laughed. “Well before you met me. So glad I’m not responsible for that.”

Anakin rolled his eyes. “I’d like to think that I just refined my natural talent under your tutelage, Master.”

“I haven’t the faintest idea of what you’re talking about,” responded Obi-Wan lightly before sobering. “But yes, Maul…” He went quiet for a moment. “He changed everything, “he whispered.

Anakin nodded uneasily. “Yeah. Changed. We would’ve never been thrown together if it weren’t for him.” Was that a good thing?

“Indeed, we wouldn’t have” murmured Obi-Wan. Was that a good thing?

The two men sat together for a long time, each lost in their own thoughts, unaware that the other was also imagining the many futures that may have come to pass in the wake of Qui-Gon Jinn’s survival. Not all of them entirely positive. Finally, Anakin stretched, barely holding back a yawn.

“Well, we weren’t even back on Coruscant for a whole day. I think we should probably try to grab some sleep.”

***

Within an hour, Anakin was fast asleep in his quarters, exhausted. Obi-Wan, however, wasn’t so lucky.

He was on Naboo.

Obi-Wan watched helplessly from behind the screen as his beloved Master battled Darth Maul alone. He watched as the older Jedi was stabbed, heard someone screaming before he realized that it was him.

The battle went quickly as he sawed the monster in half and crashed to his knees at his Master’s side. He cradled the man’s face as Qui-Gon heaved painful breaths in his arms, ignoring the hot tears on his face. No. NO. He cast around, looking for anyone, anything to save his precious Master. Finding none, he cast his gaze down at his Master’s eyes once more.

Only it wasn’t Qui-Gon lying limp in his arms anymore.

 It was Anakin.

“Master? Master? OBI-WAN!”

Obi-Wan’s eyes shot open. Standing above him, a hand on his shoulders was Anakin. Alive. And worried.

“Obi-Wan? Can you hear me? Are you okay?”

Shakily, Obi-Wan nodded, sitting himself upright. “I’m fine, Anakin.”

Anakin crossed his arms, frowning. “No. You’re not. I could feel your distress all the way from my dreams. What happened? What was your nightmare about?”

Obi-Wan hesitated, too shaken to lie, yet unwilling to share the whole truth. “It was about Qui-Gon,” he admitted finally, avoiding Anakin’s eyes.

“Oh.” Anakin softened, moving to sit on Obi-Wan’s bed, feeling a little guilty. I shouldn’t have brought up Maul. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

No. I can’t bear to think of that ever again.

“I’m fine, Anakin, really. You should go back to sleep. I think I’ll try to do the same.”

Anakin’s frown deepened. “Obi-Wan, I know you, I felt how bad that was. If you’re not gonna share, then at least let me spend the night with you,” he said, already moving to scooch into Obi-Wan’s bed. Anakin had often run to Obi-Wan’s room for comfort when he was young, and though the practice had faded during Anakin’s teenage years, they had resumed it during the war. After particularly difficult days, after especially haunting battles, it had helped to just have the other man close by. It was comforting to each of them to have his brother at his back, even in sleep.

Obi-Wan sighed, unwilling to commit to the arrangement. Come on, Negotiator. You can talk him out of this.

“You drool.”

“And you snore. Shut up and go to sleep.”

Grumbling, Obi-Wan settled back down, resigned to having the young Jedi crash on his bed. Anakin, predictably, was asleep within minutes. To his surprise, Obi-Wan was as well.

***

The town was a nightmare.

Anakin and Obi-Wan walked uneasily through the dead silence of the abandoned streets, taking in the toppled wares and the creaking hinges of half-smashed doors. They passed an eerie R4 unit, who was banging its dome repeatedly against a wall until Obi-Wan silently deactivated it with the Force. Anakin swallowed. Suddenly, he was glad he had left R2 to guard the ship.

They continued their walk through town, each trying his best to ignore slain bodies that littered the streets.

“Why,” whispered Anakin as they passed body of a young woman. “Why would they do this? We would’ve come anyway!”

Obi-Wan shook his head sadly. “That is the Dark Side of the Force, my Padawan.”

Anakin suppressed a shudder as they made it to the end of the street. “Do you sense it?”

Obi-Wan nodded turning his to large warehouse now in front of them. “Maul and Savage are in there.”

“Right,” said Anakin, tamping down his nerves. He had to concentrate now, reign in his emotions. He would not let Obi-Wan down. “Let’s go.”

“Anakin?” said Obi-Wan, putting his hand on the young man’s shoulder. He looked into his Padawan’s eyes, a thousand words he wanted to say on his tongue, but so very limited by time and circumstance. “Just… be careful. Okay?”

“Yes, Master,” said Anakin, searching his eyes. “You too.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “Very well then.”

The two Jedi lit their lightsabers and cautiously entered the warehouse. There were boxes piled all over the room, with a few flickering lights joining their sabers in illuminating them. It set Anakin’s teeth on edge- far too easy for someone to hide in here. The walked side by side, both eyes and Force senses examining the area.

“Kenobi.”

Anakin and Obi-Wan froze, their attention instantly on the walkway above them where a red figure stood examining them. “And Skywalker. What a delight to have the famed Team gracing my presence.”

Obi-Wan coughed politely. “I’m sorry, have we met?”

Anakin groaned internally. If they survived this, he would stab Obi-Wan himself. Why did the Council Masters always complain about his impulse control when Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi had never managed to restrain a single sarcastic comment in his life?

Maul looked down at the two Jedi, yellow eyes glinting fiercely. “I’m sure you’ll remember the man who skewered your master soon enough.”

Before Obi-Wan could respond, he and Anakin felt the Force moving behind them. Anakin quickly sprang to block Savage Oppress’ strike as the hulking man moved out of the shadows to attack the Jedi.

“Anakin, you hold off Savage, I’ll take Maul,” called Obi-Wan as he ran  toward the walkway were the Sith had ignited his own red lightsaber. I’ll not let that monster anywhere near Anakin.

“Obi-Wan, no!” yelled Anakin, unable to take his attention away from the Savage’s relentless strikes. “We have to take them together! Draw them in!”

I’m sorry, Anakin, thought Obi-Wan as he Force-jumped onto the walkway, eyes on Maul.  He stepped cautiously toward the Sith, his  lightsaber already held in the familiar Soresu stance. “Hello, there.”

“You may have forgotten me, Kenobi, but I will never forget you,” snarled Maul as he launched himself at the Jedi. “The pain you have caused me,” he hissed, “I will return it a hundred-fold.”

Sidestepping Maul’s strikes, Obi-Wan threw the Force behind his next blow. “I disposed of you once, Maul. I hardly think it’ll be too difficult to do so again.”

Grunting, Maul swiped at Obi-Wan’s legs before blocking the next strike. “I killed the man who trained you,” laughed Maul cruelly. “How much could that incompetent have passed on to you?”

Obi-Wan growled fiercely, launching a series of blows against his opponent. Maul easily blocked the strikes, laughing. “You’re getting sloppy, Kenobi. That’s it. Let your rage unbalance you.”

“Never,” said Obi-Wan desperately as he missed his next strike. Maul easily sidestepped the Jedi and threw Obi-Wan off the walkway with a powerful Force push. Obi-Wan landed hard on the floor, gasping as the wind rushed out of him.

“Obi-Wan!” cried Anakin as he watched his master fall. Savage instantly capitalized on the young Jedi’s distraction. He threw a hard punch at Anakin’s head, badly disorienting the young man before throwing the Jedi against a wall.

“ANAKIN!” gasped Obi-Wan, watching in horror as his friend crumpled to the ground, motionless.

“A hundred-fold,” said a voice above him. “I will return the pain a hundred-fold.”

Obi-Wan briefly saw the metal foot rushing to his head. Then, his world went black.

***

Obi-Wan awoke with a splintering headache. He tried to open his eyes, but even the dim lights from the warehouse caused his sore head too much pain.

The warehouse. Maul. Anakin.

Ignoring the pain, Obi-Wan pushed himself to his feet, looking frantically around the warehouse. He stretched out with his Force senses, feeling no signatures nearby.

Anakin? Where is Anakin???

A cold dread settled over heart. No,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no. Anakin couldn’t be dead. He refused to believe it. If Anakin was dead, Obi-Wan himself would have died right along with him.

Then where is he? Why did Maul leave me here? WHERE IS ANAKIN?

Trying to orient himself, Obi-Wan turned to the corner where he had last seen Anakin fall. He friend’s figure was no longer on the floor, but in the shadows he could just make out some kind of shape on the ground.

His lightsaber maybe?

Cautiously, Obi-Wan moved toward the corner, even as the Force screamed in his ears. Heart hammering, he reached the object on the floor, instantly identifying it- and it wasn’t Anakin’s lightsaber.

Obi-Wan collapsed on his hands and knees as he threw up, stomach heaving as he was sick on the floor.

It seemed that Maul had sent him a message after all. Anakin’s freshly severed robotic arm lay on the floor beside him.

Chapter Text

Maul has Anakin.

Obi-Wan collapsed against the wall, breath coming out in short pants.

Maul has Anakin. Maul has Anakin. Maul has Anakin.

Obi-Wan squeezed his eyes shut as he gripped his tunic. His chest felt constricted and with each second that passed he felt less and less capable of breathing. A cold sweat broke out over his body as he tried desperately to calm himself. To still his hammering heart.

Oh Force, Maul is going to kill Anakin.

Well, it was going to be worse than that, wasn’t it? If Maul was going to kill Anakin, he would have done it right then and there while Obi-Wan lay gasping on the ground. What could be a more perfect revenge than killing his Padawan in front of him before running Obi-Wan himself through with a lightsaber? But no, that wouldn’t be penance enough for sawing a man in half. Maul would torture Obi-Wan by keeping Anakin away from him, doing Force knows what to his Padawan. Then, there was no doubt he’d kill them both.

A thousand images of Anakin maimed, Anakin screaming, Anakin dead flashed through his mind. Maul’s going to take him from me, thought Obi-Wan desperately, Just like Qui-Gon. A fresh wave of nausea hit him as he remembered cradling his own Master in his arms, the man’s last words whispering about the boy he now needed to save.

Obi-Wan felt a sob escape him. He and Qui-Gon had not parted on the best of terms. They’d been angry with each other, his stubborn master frustrated and Obi-Wan resentful. Was this going to happen again? Was Anakin going to die thinking Obi-Wan didn’t like him or that he didn’t care about him? Were Anakin’s last memories of Obi-Wan going to be of him falling dead from a rooftop?

How could he have failed Anakin so badly? It didn’t matter that the boy was no longer his apprentice. Anakin was his Padawan. The Council, the Code, common sense all dictated that he was no longer in charge of protecting him, but Obi-Wan knew better, even if he didn’t always allow himself acknowledge it. He would always protect Anakin. That would always be his job. More than a job, because Anakin was his brother. And I’m going to make damn sure that Anakin knows that.

Resolve hardening, Obi-Wan allowed his training to kick in, slowly calming his heartbeat and easing his breathing. He was going to save Anakin. He wouldn’t let Maul win.

Pulling himself to his feet, Obi-Wan summoned his fallen lightsaber to his hand. He began to make his way to the exit before hesitating. Turning back to the corner, he carefully picked up Anakin’s cybernetic arm, the smallest whispers of an idea tickling his mind.

Obi-Wan sighed as he started walking back to the ship. R2 was definitely going to shock him this time.

***

Everything hurt.

That was the first conclusion Anakin reached upon regaining consciousness. What Savage lacked in finesse, he certainly made up for in freakishly brute strength. The beating he had taken from Maul’s brother had left him feeling like he’d been in least a dozen podracer crashes. He could feel a painful bruise forming on the left side of his face where Savage had punched him. The sharp pain in his chest suggested that he’d also broken a least a couple of ribs after being tossed across the room like a rag doll. Oh, and there was the small matter of his kriffing arm. Namely, that he no longer had one.

Looking around for his lightsaber, Anakin quickly concluded that he had been unarmed twice over.

The young Jedi shifted uncomfortably. He was sitting on the floor in what looked to be some kind of old lab. There were broken monitors and strange machines filling the room, which had only a few working lights illuminating it. He hands (well, hand) was restrained behind his back along with his waist, keeping him pinned to some kind of thick pole jutting from the middle of a platform that occupied the center of the room.

Call me crazy, but I have bad feeling about this.

A cold dread settled over his heart as he concluded his inspection. Where is Obi-Wan? He stretched out nervously with the Force and then swore viciously as he failed to feel its usual strength curling around him. This room must have some kind of Force dampener, he groaned.  Still, he wasn’t called the Chosen One for nothing. Concentrating as much as he could with the pain attacking his body, he managed to vaguely sense two Force signatures nearby. One throbbed with blackness, strong enough to make Anakin recoil even through his tenuous connection with the Force. I wonder who that could be, thought Anakin, rolling his eyes.

The other signature… it was also dark, too dark to be anything like Obi-Wan’s pure light. But unlike Maul’s signature, which seemed to pump darkness into the Force, this signature seemed to encircle the blackness, not generate it. It must be Savage, mused Anakin.  Huh. He doesn’t feel like Maul, or even Dooku though…

Squirming, Anakin tried to decide if his failure to locate Obi-Wan was good or bad. He’d seemed winded the last time Anakin saw him but not seriously injured. Did he manage to escape somehow? Why would Maul let him go? A lump rose in his throat.  Would… would Obi-Wan have left me?

Then Anakin’s treacherous mind offered an even worse thought. Did Maul finally kill Obi-Wan?

A loud slam interrupted his thoughts. Looking up sharply, Anakin saw Maul walking into his room. It was strange to see the Sith again. He’d only been nine the first time he had glimpsed at the silent creature, though the image had remained burned in his mind. Anakin felt a sharp stab in the gut. This is the creature that had killed Qui-Gon, ripping Obi-Wan away from his master and launching Anakin towards an unsteady future.

Anakin snarled at the Sith. “What do you want?”

Maul ignored him, turning instead to a console near the platform Anakin was on. Anakin shifted. “Whatever you’re planning to do it won’t work. If you’re working for Dooku, I’ll never tell you anything. Neither would Obi-Wan.”

Maul looked up from the console, eyes flashing gold. “I work for no one but myself,” he hissed. “And as for Kenobi… it’s not information I want from him. Or you, for that matter.”

Anakin frowned. “Then why I am here? Where is Obi-Wan?”

“Arriving at Coruscant, I hope,” said Maul smiling grimly. He placed a hand on a lever jutting out of the console before him. “Why don’t we say hello?”

***

“Where is Anakin?”

Obi-Wan felt his heart clench as he walked down the ramp of his ship. He had hoped to have a little time after arriving at the Temple to compose himself, but it appeared that Ahsoka had anticipated his arrival and had been waiting on the arrival pad.

R2 pushed angrily past Obi-Wan, emitting a series of angry beeps.

Ahsoka frowned and turned to Obi-Wan sharply. “What does R2 mean ‘you lost Anakin?’”

Obi-Wan sighed, trying to calm himself. “Ahsoka-“

“Did you find Maul? Did you fight? Is Anakin-“ Ahsoka swallowed, eyes wide. “Is he…dead? Is that why he’s not with you?”

“No,” said Obi-Wan firmly. He truly believed Anakin was still alive. To think otherwise- he couldn’t bear it. “Ahsoka. We did find Maul but things became…complicated.”

“What do you mean ‘complicated?’” snarled Ahsoka.

“I mean Anakin is not dead. I know that,” said Obi-Wan. “However, you’re right. I did lose him.” He took another breath. “Maul took Anakin,” he said as steadily as he could, “and I don’t know where he is.”

Ahsoka’s eyes widened and Obi-Wan couldn’t tell if she was about to cry or punch him. Likely both. She was Anakin’s student after all.

“Listen, Ahsoka,” Obi-Wan said intently, “I’m going to find him. We will get Anakin back,” he said nodding down at the bundle of cloth that was in his arms, “and I think I know how to locate him.”

Ahsoka looked at him curiously. “What are you thinking?”

Relieved that Ahsoka seemed willing to listen to him, Obi-Wan began to walk purposefully toward the Temple. “I’m going to report the Council now. We’ll need their help to find Anakin. Come with me.”

Together, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka made their way to Council chambers, where they were admitted immediately. Obi-Wan tensed as he entered the chambers and saw the grim faces before him. Though the Council members were hardly all smiles when it came to war briefings, he couldn’t help but pick up a feeling of… pity? Ahsoka’s presence in particular seemed to concern several Council members.

“Masters,” said Obi-Wan bowing, adjusting the bundle in his arms slightly, “We have an emergency. Anakin and I reached Raydonia where we found the villagers slaughtered. Maul and his brother Savage Oppress were waiting for us. We were drawn to engage them,” he continued, steadying his voice, “but during the battle I was rendered unconscious. When I awoke, Anakin was gone and all I could find was this.” Obi-Wan lifted bundle in his arms, avoiding Ahsoka’s gaze as he gently pulled the cloth back to reveal Anakin’s cybernetic arm.

Mace Windu looked at the prosthetic arm and cleared his throat. “Thank you for your report Obi-Wan. I am relieved that you were able to make it back to us. I know this must be… troubling for you both,” he said, nodding to Ahsoka. “We, however, did already know of Skywalker’s captivity. Maul sent us a message shortly before you arrived.”

“A message?” said Obi-Wan quizzically. “What kind of message?”

“It may be better for Padawan Tano to leave the room for a moment,” said Eeth Koth looking at Ahsoka.

“No,” said Ahsoka firmly. “Anakin is my master. If he’s in trouble, I need to know about it.”

“I concur,” said Obi-Wan, ignoring the surprise emanating from both the Council members and Ahsoka. “She has the right to know what is happening to her master.” He warmed at the small burst of gratitude that Ahsoka sent him through the Force.

Mace studied the pair before him before nodding. “Very well then,” he said and projected Maul’s message.

Anakin was sitting on the floor, restrained to thick pole. He seemed to be breathing heavily, his eyes unfocused. Behind him, Maul stood, lightsaber ignited. “Kenobi,” said the Sith, “I hope you’ve awoken from your nap by now. Many years ago, you took something from me, nearly costing me my life and my sanity.” He stepped forward and pressed his lightsaber against Anakin’s collarbone slowly, eliciting a pained scream from the young Jedi. Pulling back he continued, “I want to return the favor, Kenobi. I will take your apprentice from you, slowly and painfully. You will not find him until I allow you. I assure he will be in excellent hands until then,” he smiled stepping away from Anakin. Anakin looked around for a moment, confused, before bolts of electricity shot the pole he was restrained to. Obi-Wan and Ahsoka looked on in horror as Anakin screamed in agony, electricity coursing through him. After what seemed like an eternity the message cut.

The room was silent for a moment as Obi-Wan and Ahsoka stood stunned, still staring at where the message had played. Mace interrupted the silence first. “We’ve done our best to track the message, pull any clues we can from it, but it was expertly scrambled. I’m afraid we just don’t have any leads.” He looked sadly at Obi-Wan and Ahsoka. “We’ll have to wait and see if Maul makes a mistake that will lead us to him.”

Recovering, Obi-Wan shook his head. “We don’t have time to wait. There’s no telling what Maul will do to Anakin. We have to find him now. If I may, Masters, I believe I have another idea.”

Obi-Wan carefully covered up Anakin’s cybernetic arm again. “Maul or Savage would have been the ones to cut off Anakin’s arm. It means that they were last ones to have contact with it.” He looked squarely at Mace. “We need to call Quinlan Vos.”

“Absolutely not,” retorted Master Kolar. “It would be far too dangerous.”

“I’m sorry, Obi-Wan” said Adi Gallia, “But I think Master Kolar is right.”

Ahsoka stepped forward, confused. “I’m sorry, but how could Master Vos help? And why would calling him be dangerous?”

Obi-Wan turned to Ahsoka. “Quinlan Vos has a unique Force ability called psychometry. It allows a user to touch an object and view events as if they were there, including things like sights, sounds, and feelings that those with the object experienced. Since Maul or Savage were the last ones in contact with Anakin’s arm, Vos may be able to gain insight into what they were thinking at the time.”

“Including a next location,” said Ahsoka excitedly.

“Precisely,” said Obi-Wan smiling proudly at the Padawan.

“However,” interrupted Master Kolar, “What Master Kenobi fails to mention is that if the object in question has been touched by a user of the Dark Side, the psychometric may be tainted by the Dark Side as well. And I, for one, would never trust Vos of all people with it.”

“Despite his lapses, Quinlan Vos has always served the Jedi faithfully,” argued Obi-Wan. “He knows better than anyone how to navigate the temptations of the Dark Side. He may be a bit… unorthodox but he would never Fall.”

“Debatable,” snarled Kolar. “There is no ‘navigating.’ Once touched by the Dark Side, a Jedi like that cannot be fully trusted.”

“Master Kolar,” said Mace, “That’s enough. We are not debating Vos’s integrity today.” Turning to Obi-Wan, he seemed to steel himself. “However, I do agree. I do not believe that consulting Vos would be wise. We simply cannot control what will happen.”

“Master Windu, please,” said Obi-Wan. “It’s the only lead we have. Maul will kill Anakin if we don’t find him.”

“Even if we wanted, Vos is on a mission for the Senate. We cannot interrupt him.”

“It would hardly be an interruption,” argued Obi-Wan. “The Senate only calls for trackers when they feel one of their financial assets may be threatened. Would I be correct in assuming there are hardly any lives at stake in Quinlan’s current mission?”

“Obi-Wan, that’s enough,” said Mace. “You are tired and upset and any plan you come up with now may lead to reckless actions. You will wait for further orders from the Council in this matter. Understood?”

Obi-Wan opened his mouth before stopping, seeming to reconsider. “I apologize for my hasty words, Masters,” he said bowing. “You are correct- this has been a trying time. I will meditate with Padawan Tano and await further instructions.”

“But Master!” began Ahsoka, outraged.

“Ahsoka, we will speak of this later,” said Obi-Wan sharply. “Let’s go.” With that he bowed again and left the chambers.

To her credit, Ahsoka restrained herself until she and Obi-Wan reached his quarters. “What the kriff, Master? How could you just sit back and do nothing?

“Ahsoka-“

“Do you really not care what happens to Anakin? Are you just going to leave him to rot?”

“Ahsoka, calm yourself!” said Obi-Wan. He shot the Padawan a glare before continuing. “The Temple hangar will hardly let you take out a ship in such a state.”

Ahsoka looked at him, confused. “Why do I need to go get a ship?”

“Because, while you do that, I will use my Council master codes to figure out where Quinlan Vos is stationed,” said Obi-Wan calmly. “Then I think it would be nice if you and I paid him a visit.”

Ahsoka gawked. She stared at Obi-Wan’s serene expression, sensing the fierce protectiveness that simmered beneath. Oh, Anakin. You can be so very wrong about this man sometimes. She suddenly felt the very un-padawan-like urge to giggle.

 “Master Obi-Wan, are you going rogue?”

Obi-Wan smiled, but it wasn’t one of his gentle smiles, the ones he reserved for Anakin and her. This was a predator’s smile. “Desperate times call for desperate measures after all.”

Ahsoka grinned and sprinted toward the hangar. She almost felt sorry for Maul.

Chapter Text

Ahsoka never thought she’d find herself in this situation. Sure, she’d been on plenty of technically unauthorized missions with Master Skywalker. Of course, according to Anakin, they never ignored orders; they just interpreted them creatively. From a certain point of view. Sort of.

But with Master Kenobi? This was a first.

She looked over to the man in question as she finished putting the ship into hyperspace. The trip wouldn’t take long. Within few hours, they would have hopefully found Master Vos and would be speeding away to save Master Skywalker. And then she would sit her two stubborn masters together to talk for once. She loved them both, but she would happily crack their heads together they if they let this weird tension simmer.

“I would probably let you, you know.”

Ahsoka jumped, embarrassed. “Oops. I guess I wasn’t shielding well enough.”

Obi-Wan chuckled. “It’s fine young one. I daresay you have far more patience with your masters than I would have at your age.”

Ahsoka glanced at him skeptically. “You? You’re the most patient person in the Order! You’d give Master Yoda a run for his money if you also had an extra thousand years of practice.”

Obi-Wan shook his head, laughing softly. “I was actually quite impatient as a Padawan. Between that and my temper, it was a miracle I was even chosen to be an apprentice.”

“Now, I know you’re just making things up,” said Ahsoka, eyes wide.

“To be perfectly honest, I can sometimes feel my own Master laughing at me whenever I run into similar problems with Anakin,” said Obi-Wan. “Or you, for that matter,” he added looking pointedly at the young Togruta.

“Me?” said Ahsoka blinking innocently, “Why, I’ve never done anything out of line in my life. I’ve never disobeyed an order. Never been reckless. Or impatient. You must be thinking of my Master,” she said sweetly.

Obi-Wan laughed. “Well, I have not had to bail you out of jail yet. Or bail you out of Master Windu’s ‘character building’ sessions.”

Ahsoka grinned. “Yeah, Master Skywalker still likes to complain about those. Most of the shinies were more terrified of Master Windu than the Seppies the first time we worked with him.”

“I imagine Anakin wouldn’t forget those easily,” said Obi-Wan warmly. He sighed. “I do hope he’s alright,” he said quietly.

Ashoka bit her lip. “Why did Maul take him? I mean, I know you killed him, or at least thought you did. All the younglings know that story.”

Obi-Wan was silent for a long time before answering. “Did you know that I was never supposed to be Anakin’s master?” he said finally. “My Master, Qui-Gon, had intended to take him as an apprentice. But when we fought Maul together, he killed Qui-Gon in front of me. I was…distraught. Maul could feel my anger, what I was capable of. I believe he imagines he can spark the same pain by hurting Anakin.” He closed his eyes. “He’s right of course.”  

“I’m so sorry, Master Kenobi,” said Ahsoka gently. “And- you took on Anakin right after?”

Obi-Wan nodded, opening his eyes. “Yes. It was my final promise to my Master.”

Ahsoka frowned. “That- well, no disrespect towards Master Qui-Gon, but, um, that seems kind of rough. How old were you? Twenty?”

“Twenty-five,” said Obi-Wan, smiling a little. “I’m not all that young, Ahsoka.”

Ahsoka rolled her eyes. “Just because Anakin calls you an old man doesn’t mean you are, Master Kenobi. But, still that must’ve been… difficult.” She frowned again. “No wonder Anakin worries you didn’t want him.”

Obi-Wan looked up, startled. “What?”

Ahsoka shifted uncomfortably. Oh kriff, you’re an idiot Tano.  “Oh um. It’s just- I remember this time. I’d just become Skyguy’s apprentice. And we had a rough battle. I thought he was furious with me, and I kind of broke down. I thought he didn’t want me because, I mean, I wasn’t chosen like the other Padawans. I was just assigned to him by the Council. It’s not like he picked me. And I told him that if he wanted another Padawan that I could step down.”

“Oh dear,” said Obi-Wan. “And I assume Anakin took that with all his usual grace and poise?”

“He completely panicked,” said Ahsoka. “I don’t even remember what he started saying. He looked like he was about to cry, to be honest. So, we were both getting kind of hysterical but he eventually calmed down enough and told me that he was really grateful to be my Master and that he understood feeling like your Master hadn’t picked you.”

“Oh,” said Obi-Wan sadly, casting his eyes down. “I- well, I had never even considered- “

“Oh no,” said Ahsoka, crossing her arms. “Don’t you even dream of blaming yourself for something your twenty-five-year-old grieving self had no control over. Do you know how often Skyguy talks about how great you are? About all the things you’ve done together?

“Well- “

“Do you think that I, and our troops and the whole kriffing Republic don’t see what a dedicated and amazing Jedi you are? I hear it every day from the person you trained for a decade. So- so if you even start to think that you aren’t a good Master come find me and I’ll knock some sense into you. And when he’d done being a drama queen, Skyguy will come over and knock some sense into you too.”

Ahsoka’s eyes widened as the realization that she had just ranted at an esteemed Council member hit her. Obi-Wan, for his part, sat his in seat looking the most stunned she had ever seen the serene Jedi. They sat in silence for a few moments before Obi-Wan’s face split into a wide grin.

“Thank you, Ahsoka,” he said softly, “I have no idea what Anakin and I did to have been gifted such a wonderful Padawan.”

Ahsoka shrugged shyly at the praise. “Something pretty terrible, I bet.”

Obi-Wan laughed. “Hardly. And,” he said, hesitating, “I- I am so sorry that you were there when the shooting happened. I never wanted to drag you into this. Force, I hadn’t even wanted Anakin to be part of that, let alone you.” He shifted uncomfortably. “I know I’m not your Master, and perhaps my death didn’t hurt quite so much- “

Obi-Wan grunted as Ahsoka launched herself at the Jedi Master, wrapping him a hug. “You are my Master. And it did hurt when we lost you,” she whispered. “But I’m so happy you’re back. And I hope you know that Anakin is as well.”

Obi-Wan hesitated before returning the embrace. “Thank you, Ahsoka.” They stayed like that for a few moments before Obi-Wan gently broke the hug. “Now, perhaps we should rest? Dealing with Quinlan can be nearly as draining as dealing with Separatists.”

Ahsoka laughed. “Sounds good, Master Kenobi.”

***

Though Quinlan Vos was on an undercover mission, it proved remarkably easy to find the Kiffar Jedi.

Within an hour of landing near Quinlan’s last known location, Obi-Wan felt a warning in the Force. Pickpocket, it whispered. Strolling calmly through the street, Obi-Wan continued walking before turning abruptly into an alleyway, snatching the hand that had been reaching for the lightsaber tucked in his robes.

Pinning the would-be thief against the wall, Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Really Quinlan? I come all this way to visit you and you try to rob me?”

Quinlan grinned, feeling no shame at being caught in the act. “I felt you land a while ago, Kenobi. Thought it’d be fun to see if you still had it.”

“Well,” said Obi-Wan, releasing the Jedi, “It appears that I do.”                

“And that you, clearly, do not,” added Ahsoka, examining the undercover Jedi.

“Hey, you’re Skywalker’s kid, aren’t you?” said Quinlan. “What are you doing hanging out with this grumpy old man?”

“I’m Master Skywalker’s Padawan,” said Ahsoka indignantly, “And it just so happens that we’re looking for him.”

“Looking for him?” asked Quinlan. “Geez, Kenobi, how’d you lose him? I just saw you guys the other day! What, did you lecture him away?””

“He was abducted,” said Obi-Wan tightly. “By Darth Maul.”

Quinlan sobered instantly. “Maul? That bastard’s alive?!”

“Apparently,” said Obi-Wan drily.

Quinlan shook his head, frowning. “That’s bad news, Obi-Wan. ‘Course, I probably don’t need to tell you that. But if you’re looking for Skywalker, what are you doing here?”

Obi-Wan slowly unwrapped the bundle carrying Anakin’s arm. “We have no idea where Maul could be, but he did leave us a possible clue. We need your help, Quinlan.”

Quinlan examined the arm, nodding. “I see where your head’s at Kenobi. I’m guessing Maul was probably the last person to touch this.”

“Indeed,” said Obi-Wan. He paused. “Quinlan… I won’t pretend that I completely understand how your gift works. But I do know that this will be dangerous for you, considering it may be tainted by the dark side. I don’t know what you’ll see. And… I’ll understand if won’t you do it. I won’t force you into this.”

Quinlan rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I’m pretty sure can handle it. After my close calls-well, you have no idea that effort I’ve put into making sure I’ve got my dark side controlled. I’m not too worried. Although,” he said looking at Obi-Wan curiously, “I’m stunned that the Council trusts me enough to do this. Are they that desperate?”

“Oh,” said Obi-Wan, reddening, “Well- “

“The Council doesn’t know we’re here,” said Ahsoka cheerfully. “They told him no, but Master Kenobi said kriff it and did it anyway. It was awesome!”

“Thank you, Ahsoka,” muttered Obi-Wan.

Quinlan doubled over with laughter as Obi-Wan stood by, unimpressed. “Oh man, I never thought I’d live to see the day! Obi-Wan Kenobi, sticking it to the man. Even though he is the man,” grinned Quinlan. “I was definitely gonna help you before, but this just seals the deal.”

“Thank you ever so much,” said Obi-Wan darkly.

“It’s my pleasure, my friend,” said Quinlan before turning serious. “All right, let’s see if we can’t find Skywalker.” He reached over and took the robotic arm from Obi-Wan, careful to touch only the cloth. “Now, like I said, I’ve got it under control, but just as a precaution, you should stand back.”

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka complied, moving some feet away from the Jedi as he settled himself on the ground, the arm before him. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply and falling into mediation. He slowly reached out to touch the arm. At first, the Jedi remained calm. But gradually, his breathing become more rapid, coming out in harsh pants as his face twisted with exertion. Suddenly, Quinlan let out a cry before leaping back from the arm and stumbling from the ground.

Obi-Wan was beside him in an instant. “Quinlan! Are you alright?”

Quinlan nodded as struggled to control his breathing. “Yeah… just give me a sec.”

Ahsoka and Obi-Wan watched with concern as the Kiffar Jedi slowly calmed down. He took one final breath before looking up at the master and Padawan. “Wow, who knew cutting someone in half could piss them off so much?”

“Yes, it is extraordinarily surprising,” said Obi-Wan. “But did you get a location?”

Quinlan grinned. “Of course, I did. They were headed to Ithor.”

Obi-Wan closed his eyes as the relief crashed over him. He was one step closer to Anakin.

“I cannot thank you enough, Quinlan,” he said. “I- arrgh!”

Obi-Wan collapsed the ground, writhing in pain. He felt lightsaber burns sear his skin and the sharp pain of electrocution stab him. A desperate cry pierced his mind. Help me, Master, help me, help me, help me, help me-

Anakin! Thought Obi-Wan. Hang in there Padawan, just hang in there please-

As suddenly as the onslaught of pain had come it disappeared, leaving only the whispers of Anakin’s cry in Obi-Wan’s mind.

“Master Kenobi!” exclaimed Ahsoka, kneeling beside him. “Are you alright? What happened?”

Obi-Wan shook his head, trying to control his rising panic. I will save you. I’m coming, Anakin.

“It was Anakin,” he said finally. “I haven’t been able to sense him through our bond since he was captured. But I think Maul lifted whatever Force inhibitors he had on him so that I could feel him. He’s- he’s in so much pain…”

Quinlan grabbed Obi-Wan hand, pulling him to his feet. “Well, now you know where to look for him, yeah?”

Obi-Wan nodded, breathing deeply. “Yes. Thanks to you, Quinlan. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Master Vos,” added Ahsoka. “This means so much to us.”

“Well I couldn’t let your little rebellion be in vain, could I?” said Quinlan. “Just do me a favor- get a picture of the Council’s face when you get back, yeah?”

Ahsoka rolled her eyes. “We’ll do our best. Come on, Master Kenobi.”

Nodding, Obi-Wan thanked Quinlan again and turned. Moving with renewed purpose, Obi-Wan started to make his way back to the ship. He knew where his Padawan was. He was going to save him.

I am coming, Anakin.

 

Chapter Text

“Master. I’m bored.”

“I’m sorry, Anakin, I had no idea you felt that way. Perhaps you should remind me a sixth time, that may do the trick.”

Anakin huffed and looked out into hyperspace, legs dangling a few inches above the floor. He could definitely tell that he was pushing the edges of even Obi-Wan’s boundless patience, but he couldn’t help it. Space travel was so boring. And they still had another 2 hours to go before reaching their mission planet.

“Anakin, why don’t you go check our winter clothing gear? We’ll be traveling far from the city center, so better to know if we’re missing anything before we’re knee-deep in snow. Or, perhaps we could meditate,” Obi-Wan added looking knowingly at his young charge.

Anakin scowled and slid off his chair, knowing exactly which choice he would make. He made his way to the back of their small ship and began cataloging their clothes. Gloves. Hats. Goggles. Coats. Anakin frowned as he examined Obi-Wan’s thick coat, small hands expertly exploring the tear he spotted along the right sleeve. He rummaged around his belt and quickly located the needle and thread he always kept with him. Though it was nothing like tinkering with droids, Anakin did enjoy sewing- it was simple, but required concentration and care just as Shmi Skywalker had taught him. He threaded the needle gently, taking care of both the fabric and his fingers, his mother’s gentle voice whispering encouragement in his ear.

He was halfway through his repairs, lost in thought, when Obi-Wan came to find him. “There you are, Anakin. I heard silence and became suspicious,” he said wryly. He looked at the needle in his padawan’s hand and frowned. “What are doing?”

“I found a tear in your jacket, Master,” said Anakin. “I was just sewing it.”

“By hand?” asked Obi-Wan raising an eyebrow. “Surely it would be more efficient to just use the textile droid?”

“The textile droid?” said Anakin, feeling faintly embarrassed. Of course. “Oh. Um. Yeah, I guess. I always forget about them. We never had one. In our house I mean. Um, my mom just taught me to do it- but yeah it would probably be better to um, yeah just use the droid…” Anakin winced internally. Even the smallest mentions of his mother could propel Obi-Wan into a long lecture about the dangers of attachment.

Obi-Wan blinked, regarding his charge for a long moment. Anakin waited uncomfortably for his lecture, either on efficiency or attachment, he wasn’t sure yet, when something shifted in the Force. Obi-Wan gracefully sat himself on the floor beside his young student. He held out his hand, silently asking for the needle and thread which Anakin wordlessly handed to him. The young master looked at the needle and then at the Padawan. “It’s a good skill to have, Anakin,” he said softly. “It’s good what your mother taught you.”

A small smile graced his lips and Anakin could feel warmth and acceptance soaking their nascent bond. “Will you teach me how to fix it, Anakin?”

Anakin startled awake, the memory fading as reality settled into place. He stifled a groan as pain laced through his body. Maul had taken to visiting him every few hours, smiling grimly as he watched Anakin scream as electricity coursed through his battered body. He would sometimes talk to Anakin, explain his grand plans about Obi-Wan, but Anakin could barely hear anything in his dazed state. Or above his own cries for that matter.

The worst, however, were the lightsaber burns.

He couldn’t understand how a creature as savage as Maul could wield his saber so carefully, slowly searing it into Anakin’s flesh, leaving burning cuts without hitting bone as Anakin nearly passed out from the pain and the smell of his own skin burning. He could remember Dooku cutting off his arm, of course, but that pain had been quick, instant. Anakin couldn’t even tell how long Maul would spend on a burn- what seemed like hours to him was likely seconds.

Anakin cast his eyes around the lab, wondering which of the machines Maul used to dampen the Force. He hated not having access to it- it was like a cold, wet blanket had settled over senses, cruelly cutting him from his constant companion. The only reprieve he’d had was when Maul lifted the dampeners to send Anakin’s pain to Obi-Wan. Although he’d done his best to close his bonds off, he’d just barely managed to slam his bond with Ahsoka shut before the pain was shooting through his body again.

 He hadn’t meant to send Obi-Wan such a desperate message, but even the brief touch of his Master’s mind, his serene presence, was enough to start crumbling the wall that had formed between them. Force, he just missed the man. The sarcasm, the exasperation, the nagging, the faint fondness that he could feel in their subtle smiles, their shared pride in Ahsoka. Despite everything, he trusted his Master with his life- he loved the man. They were brothers.

 I’m sorry, Obi-Wan, thought Anakin dizzily, closing his eyes again, For everything.

He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting, fading in and out of consciousness, when he heard the familiar sound of the door slamming open. Anakin did his best to glare at the Sith, though he could barely find the strength to lift his head.

Smirking at Anakin, Maul approached the levers. “I’m afraid it’s not quite time to send your master another message,” he said softly. “But I think it’s been far too long since we spent a little time together, don’t you think?”

Maul slammed the lever upwards and watched Anakin writhe in pain as the electricity overtook him. “I won’t stay too long, don’t worry,” said Maul shutting the lever off. “I want at least some of you left when I finally kill you in front of your pathetic excuse of a master.”

“Obi-Wan Kenobi is the greatest Jedi who ever lived,” gasped Anakin, fighting to stay conscious. Collecting his breath, he summoned the strength to look Maul directly in the eye. “He’s double the man you are in every single way,” he said, suddenly grinning wildly. “And if he could kick your red ass when he was a Padawan, just imagine what he’ll do to you now.”

He cried out as Maul slapped him, a low growl emanating from his throat. “I will destroy Kenobi,” hissed Maul, “Right after I run my lightsaber through you.”

Anakin laughed, spitting blood from his mouth, head spinning. “Obi-Wan came back from the dead,” he whispered. “What are you, compared to death?”

The next punch sent Anakin speeding into darkness as unconsciousness claimed him once more.

***

Obi-Wan passed the binoculars to Ahsoka as he stroked his beard deep in thought. They were perched atop a building in Tikaba, one of Ithor’s floating cities, a building that stood directly across from an abandoned research facility.

“What do you think, Master Kenobi?” asked Ahsoka. “Is Skyguy in there?

“I believe so,” sighed Obi-Wan. “The Dark Side is strong here.”

“Looks like that bartender was right,” said Ahsoka, gripping the binoculars. “There’s lights on, the front door’s caved in…” She pocketed the binoculars, crossing her arms. “What’s our move?”

Obi-Wan frowned. “Well, I don’t think we can even consider engagement as an option. We need to extract Anakin without Maul or Savage realizing we’re there.”

Ahsoka glanced at Obi-Wan. “We’re just gonna let them go?”

“As exciting as these rogue, unauthorized missions are, they do tend to have the unfortunate side effect of no backup,” said Obi-Wan. “I’d say our chances of battling our way out with an injured Anakin are not fantastic.”

“True,” admitted Ahsoka. “If you and Skyguy had trouble fighting them, I don’t think you and I would do much better.”

“We might hold our own,” said Obi-Wan with a ghost of smile, “but that is not a risk I’m willing to take today.” He considered the building, stroking his beard again. “If we could somehow distract them long enough to grab Anakin...I doubt that they’re guarding him full-time. Maul would have made sure Anakin had no information about his whereabouts that he could transmit to me, so he won’t think there’s any danger of us coming. He’s planning on revealing Anakin’s location on his own time, so we do have the element of surprise.”

“So whatever distraction we come up with, their first thought won’t be that it’s us,” said Ahsoka. She looked at the building.

“What if we borrowed one of the city police speeders?” she said. “It’ll just look like some authorities came up to check up on the building. They’ll come out to get rid of us, but we’ll have already snuck into the building. I’ll take some detonators with me and go through the vents, leading them off track while you grab Anakin.”

“You bring detonators with you?” said Obi-Wan shaking his head. “You really must be Anakin’s student. Though,” he said considering, “That may work. Of course, we may need to, ah persuade, a policeman to lend us their speeder- “

“We’ll give it back,” said Ahsoka grinning.

“And I think that I should be the distraction,” finished Obi-Wan. “If we are drawing Maul and Savage in that direction then I should be the one they’re coming to. I will not put you in danger.”

“No,” said Ahsoka, shaking her head. “Master Kenobi, we’ll probably have to carry Anakin out of there. I could maybe manage it, but probably a lot more slowly and with a lot more pain for him. Plus, we don’t know how bad he is. If he needs immediate medical attention, he should have someone with more healing experience.”

“Ahsoka- “

“Master Kenobi, I promise you I’m not looking to engage. I’m not the most powerful Jedi, but I am quick. And I’d like to think smart,” she added smirking. “I won’t let them get near me. Please. This is the best way to get Anakin out of here.”

Obi-Wan pinched the bridge of his nose. He stood for a moment, considering, before nodding. “Alright. But please be careful Ahsoka,” he added softly. “I can’t lose another Padawan today.”

Ahsoka nodded. “You won’t lose either.”

***

Obi-Wan crept down the hallways of the research facility, letting the Force guide him. He and Ahsoka had successfully snuck into the building, and from the hurried footsteps he’d heard, had successfully attracted the attention of the two brothers. He sent a silent prayer to Force to protect Ahsoka before continuing his way.

He paused, reaching out carefully with his Force senses. There was disruption in this hallway, one where the Force felt scattered, weak. Maul’s Force dampeners, thought Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan hurried toward the disruption, heart beating rapidly. Please

He cautiously made his way to a battered door, slowly pushing it open. There were lights flickering and levers all around the room and tied to a post in the middle was-

“Anakin!” cried Obi-Wan hurrying to the slumped figure on the floor. He crashed to his knees beside his former Padawan, quickly checking his remaining wrist for a pulse before cupping Anakin’s unconscious face in his hands.

“Anakin,” he said softly, relief flooding over him. He’s alive. Thank the Force he’s alive. “Anakin, please. It’s me. It’s Obi-Wan. I’m here. Please, wake up, Padawan.”

He gently stroked his thumb over Anakin’s cold cheek, murmuring quietly to him as he pushed blonde curls from his padawan’s bruised face. He tried to send Anakin a wave of strength through the Force, only to feel the horrible murky effects of the dampener. Cursing, he quickly located the source of the Force inhibiting mechanism and moved away from Anakin only long enough to destroy it with his saber before returning to his Padawan’s side.

“Anakin,” he called, “Come back to me. Please.”

Anakin moaned in pain, eyes fluttering as Obi-Wan’s concerned face swam into view before him. “Master?” he croaked, hardly daring to believe that the warm hand on his face belonged to Obi-Wan Kenobi. “You- you’re really here?”

Obi-Wan smiled, patting Anakin’s cheek. “Of course I’m here, Anakin. And I’m going to get you out of here, alright Padawan? I’ll protect you.”

“M-Maul- “

Obi-Wan face hardened. “Don’t worry about Maul, Anakin. My top priority is getting you as far from him as possible. What do you think? Can you walk?”

“The burns…”

Looking down at his former student’s injuries, Obi-Wan inhaled sharply at the damage he saw. His heart clenched. Obi-Wan closed his eyes and slowly let out a deep breath, struggling to calm himself. “It’s alright,” he said, managing to give his friend a reassuring smile.  “I’ll try to dampen the pain now so that I can carry you out of here.”

“Will you now?”

Obi-Wan whirled around sharply, and his eyes widened as they landed on the newest occupant of the room. Maul stood in the doorway, golden eyes glinting wickedly, glancing over Obi-Wan’s surprised face and Anakin’s trembling body. He took a step into the room as a grin slowly spready across his face.

“You arrived a little earlier than I expected, Kenobi,” he purred, “But I’m glad to see you already found your student.” A red light entered the room as Maul ignited his staff. “I can’t wait to see the look your face as I kill him.”

Obi-Wan was on his feet in an instant, placing himself firmly between Anakin and Maul. His lightsaber was in his hand before he knew it, pulled back into the familiar Soresu stance, and he could feel seeds of rage prodding him as images of Anakin’s injuries and Qui-Gon’s face flashed through his mind. For a moment, he could almost swear that he was back on Naboo, standing above a reactor shaft, his dying master by his feet as he shook with grief and anger. He took a breath.

“No,” he said quietly. “You will never hurt anyone I love again.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“You will never hurt anyone I love again.”

Anakin blinked once. Twice. Because, quite frankly, that was a sentence he’d never imagined coming out of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mouth. Especially in front of him.

“Master?” he rasped.

“It will be alright, dear one,” said Obi-Wan, never taking his eyes off Maul.  “We’ll be home soon enough.”

Anakin nodded, heart hammering in his chest as he watched Maul casually spin his staff and slowly begin to walk around the room. The Force screamed in his ears and he felt suffocated by the cloud of darkness enveloping the room. Instinctively, he reached out to his Master, grasping for his serene presence, but to his surprise he was met with a wall. Obi-Wan had closed himself off, wrapped behind shuddering shields. Anakin shivered. Though he and Obi-Wan often closed themselves off temporarily, he had never felt the undercurrent of anger that threatened to seep from behind the older Jedi’s powerful shields.

“It’s rather unfair of you to make promises you can’t keep, isn’t it Kenobi?” said Maul, a cruel grin spreading across his face. “Did you tell your dear Master something similar before I delivered him back to the Force?”

Obi-Wan inhaled sharply but said nothing, merely adjusting his position to ensure he was between Anakin and Maul at all times.

“Step aside, Kenobi,” purred Maul. “Can’t you see your apprentice is suffering? Let me kill him quickly. Mercifully.”

“I beat you once, Maul,” said Obi-Wan through gritted teeth. “I have little doubt I will do so again.”

“But even then you failed. Your Master died. And I lived. I lived and because you let me live, your apprentice will soon die.” He laughed faintly. “I’m grateful for our short acquaintance, of course. The hours of rapture I spent carving his flesh, you should have heard his screams- “

“Master,” whispered Anakin, watching Obi-Wan with wide eyes. The undercurrent of anger he had sensed before was rising to the surface, and Anakin could see his master starting to shake with rage. “Obi-Wan, it’s alright. I’m fine, I’m gonna be fine- “

“Oh yes, once I skewer you I’m sure you’ll live in the afterlife quite peacefully,” laughed Maul.

“That’s enough!” snarled Obi-Wan. He shifted his stance slightly and Anakin realized that Obi-Wan was preparing to take the first strike, a move that the normally patient Soresu master rarely used.  The fury Anakin felt in the Force was bubbling now, and all his senses screamed through the haze of pain that something was wrong with Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan, who always cautioned restraint, who never let volatile emotions impact his strategy, who spread his calm and peace through words before he ever touched his lightsaber, Obi-Wan who never let his anger show.

“That’s enough, Maul,” Obi-Wan repeated. “I know that Anakin and I will never be safe as long as you breathe. So, this time,” he said tensing ever so slightly, “I’ll be sure to finish the job.”

“Master!” screamed Anakin as Obi-Wan leapt across the room, Maul raising his staff just in time to block Obi-Wan’s strike with a feral growl.

“Good,” said Maul, “I cannot wait to see you fail again.”

***

What am I doing? Calm yourself!

Obi-Wan grunted as he blocked Maul’s attempt to swipe at his legs. The Sith wasn’t holding anything back and Obi-Wan was having trouble analyzing his opponent’s style. It was strange. He remembered quite well every detail of Maul’s fighting form, his turns, his strikes, his leaps. Their battle on Naboo had been burned into his mind from the hundreds of times he had lain at night going through the fight, wondering what he could have done differently.

Why am I so unfocused? Concentrate!

He could attribute his difficulty to predicating Maul’s movements to a dozen things, be it time or Maul’s new legs, but he knew better. The Sith was ripping free a darkness that had sprung from his grief a decade ago, tearing at a wound Obi-Wan had tried desperately to heal with time.

Maul hissed as Obi-Wan’s lightsaber grazed his arm. “Having some trouble, are we Master Kenobi?” spat Maul as he threw Obi-Wan across with room with a Force push.

“Not at all,” panted Obi-Wan, quickly recovering and leaping to the side as Maul slashed through the wall he had landed on. “I’m just being considerate. After all, you had such difficulty beating a mere apprentice the first time we met. I wouldn’t want to you to try anything too difficult just yet.”

Maul growled, moving into a succession of strikes. “Your wit won’t save you or your Padawan.”

Obi-Wan parried. Barely. “No,” he said, “Fortunately, this a battle of sabers, not wits. I would hate to challenge an unarmed opponent.”

“Funny,” said Maul, slashing at Obi-Wan’s stomach, “Where was this delightful banter the first time we met? I suppose watching your idiot master fall was quite the distraction.”

Obi-Wan ignored him, trying to quell the anger rising inside as he swung at Maul’s neck. The Sith blocked him easily and laughed, throwing the Jedi Master against the wall again. “Yes, perhaps I’m using the wrong tactic.” The Sith grinned and turned to where Anakin was watching the fight breathlessly.

“I do think you’ll fight much better with a loved one dying on the floor.”

“No!” shouted Obi-Wan as Maul stretched his arm out to Anakin and pinned the young Jedi to the wall with Force, Anakin helplessly clawing at his neck with his left arm as he writhed against the wall choking.

“Release him!” cried Obi-Wan eyes widening as he watched Anakin gasp for air. He began to run at Maul only to have the Sith laugh and hold out his other arm to Obi-Wan, signaling him to stop.

“Take another step and I’ll snap his neck,” said Maul and Obi-Wan skidded to a halt some feet away from the Sith lord, eyes darting between Maul and Anakin.

Obi-Wan’s heart was hammering in his chest. He could feel Anakin’s presence in the Force, already so fragile, fading rapidly as the young Jedi’s struggles lost strength. Grief welled inside him as he saw the flames of Qui-Gon’s funeral pyre in his mind’s eye, the flames growing brighter as he pictured Anakin lying on a pyre beside him, burning.

Obi-Wan squeezed his eyes shut, the sound of Maul’s laughter and Anakin’s choking gasps fading out as time seemed to slow around him. He focused on his anger, drawing it up from the depths he guarded ferociously, and let it burst, his rage giving him a razor-sharp focus and power that he felt settle around him.

He would not lose to Maul.

He would not lose anyone today.

He was going to kill Maul.

Obi-Wan’s eyes snapped open. Sensing a shift in the Force, Maul turned toward Obi-Wan, eyes widening as he took in the sight of the Jedi Master. Without lifting his arms, Obi-Wan marshalled the Force around him and whipped it towards Maul, launching the surprised Sith into a wall as Anakin collapsed on the floor, coughing.

Calmly, Obi-Wan walked over to where he had dropped his lightsaber, carefully lifting the weapon up and dusting it off before turning to Maul. “Get up,” he said, quietly, “We have a battle to finish.”

Maul grunted in pain, the powerful attack having left him with at least a few broken ribs. He looked up at the Jedi Master, who stood before him with tattered robes and a calm expression on his face.

But the Force was swirling dangerously around the Jedi, the man’s peaceful light mixing fiercely with currents of dark anger and hatred. Looking at Obi-Wan’s face, Maul saw flecks of gold glinting in the Obi-Wan’s normally grey eyes.

And for the first time in years, Maul was afraid.

***

Anakin winced in pain as his coughing agitated many broken bones and burns. He blinked a few times, trying to regain his bearings. He could hear Obi-Wan talking, and though his voice was steady and calm, as it always was, the Force around his Master felt different.

It felt dark.

Squinting, Anakin saw Maul slowly get up, one arm wrapped around his chest as he summoned his staff to him with the Force. Anakin frowned. The Sith had seemed like he had the upper hand just a few minutes ago, but now he was looking at Obi-Wan with something like fear in his eyes. Anakin supposed he should feel relieved, but instead he felt a cold uneasiness settle over him.

“Obi-Wan,” he whispered, looking at his Master. He felt his breath leave him as he looked at Obi-Wan’s face and saw the man’s kind eyes flickering between gold and grey. “Obi-Wan, no…”

But Obi-Wan didn’t hear him. He ignited his lightsaber and easily blocked Maul’s attack as the Sith sprang from the wall. With a flick of his wrist, Obi-Wan sent Maul crashing into the wall again, the dark side riding on his shoulders like a cape.

Maul launched himself at Obi-Wan, furious that he had lost ground and desperate to end the fight, but Obi-Wan, always a daunting opponent, countered every strike with a precision and focus amplified by a deadly passion. His attacks were difficult to predict, and Maul soon found himself with several cuts on his body as Obi-Wan mercilessly exploited every hole in his defense.

But with every strike that Obi-Wan landed on Maul, Anakin could feel the darkeness in his Master growing.

Anakin knew he was no stranger to the darkness himself. He had mostly resigned himself to the fact that his soul would always be tainted by the pull of the dark side, especially after the massacre on Tattooine all those years ago.

But Obi-Wan was a creature of the light. To imagine him even grazed by darkness… it was unthinkable. Obi-Wan thrived in the light. Anakin, even in his worst moments, loved to feel the kind and generous light of Obi-Wan’s presence soothe him, washing him with a peace that he rarely managed to attain for himself.

Anakin had given up on himself a long time ago. But Obi-Wan had always anchored Anakin to the light. Now Anakin would do the same for his friend.

 “AHHH!” screamed Maul as Obi-Wan cleanly sliced away his right arm. Anakin watched as his Master took another step forward and easily cut through the Maul’s robotic legs, and then his other arm. The Sith shrieked with rage and hit the ground with a painful thump, looking up at Obi-Wan with crazed eyes.

“Master,” called Anakin as strongly as he could, ignoring the fiery pain in his throat. “Master, don’t kill him. Not like this.”

“I will do what I must, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan softly, never taking his eyes off the creature before him. “He will not stop until he’s dead.”

“He’s unarmed. We’ll take him back to the Jedi Temple,” pleaded Anakin. “Or,” he said desperately, “Let me kill him. It doesn’t matter if I Fall. But I can’t let you kill him like this, Obi-Wan. Please. Come back.”

“No,” said Obi-Wan. “I will end this now. I won’t let him hurt anyone again.” He took another step towards Maul, lightsaber raised as the Force screamed around them.

 “Obi-Wan!” cried. Anakin. He summoned what little strength he had left and sent all of his love for his Master through their bond. He held nothing back. His gratitude for Obi-Wan’s patience, the joy of their shared laughs, the comfort they found in each on the battlefield. He sent him memories of the day he taught Anakin how to swim, the day of Anakin’s knighting, the day Obi-Wan had accidentally married a princess during one of their diplomatic missions, all memories filled with light and love.

Obi-Wan froze as Anakin’s feelings washed over him, battering away the rage and passion swirling around him. His eyes flickered.

“Obi-Wan,” panted Anakin, recalling the cherished dream he’d had not long ago. “Remember the day I taught you to sew? Remember? We fixed it together. Please. We can fix anything together. Just- don’t do this. Come back. Please.”

The seconds seemed to stretch into hours as Anakin watched Obi-Wan tower over Maul, sending all his love for the man who had raised him through the Force. This had work. It had to.

“Anakin,” murmured Obi-Wan. “I-“ He closed his eyes and held onto Anakin tightly in the Force, allowing their two signatures to meld together. The Force sang with joy as they connected more strongly than they had even before the Rako Hardeen debacle. Their signatures shone in the Force and for a moment the universe collapsed around them until they were the only beings left floating in the ruins, their souls beaming as one.

Gently, gently they released each other. Obi-Wan took another breath, and Anakin’s heart leapt when he saw Obi-Wan’s clear grey eyes open once again. His master was radiating with the light of the Force, his power even more prominent than it had been before. He deactivated his lightsaber and with a calm wave of his hand sent Maul into unconsciousness.

“Master,” smiled Anakin weakly, slumped on the floor. “You-you did it.”

“I think I have you to thank for that, dear one,” said Obi-Wan smiling down at him as knelt beside his former apprentice and pulled him into his arms. “Thank you, Anakin. Truly.”

“No,” murmured Anakin, through half-closed eyes as he pressed himself against Obi-Wan’s chest. “Thank you, Master. For everything. I-I’m sorry. I’ve been terrible-“

“Anakin-“

“No,” said Anakin closing his eyes. “R-really. I’m sorry.” For so, so, so many things.

Obi-Wan sighed and gently pressed a kiss to Anakin’s forehead. “You have nothing to apologize for. We can talk about everything later.”

Anakin nodded, feeling his broken body start to shut down. He was exhausted beyond belief.

“Anakin?” prodded Obi-Wan worriedly. “Try to stay awake, okay? We need to get you out of here and check you over.”

“What about Savage?” mumbled Anakin cracking his eyes open.

“Ah, I, um, believe, Ahsoka was taking care of him,” said Obi-Wan sheepishly as Anakin’s eyes widened.

“You brought Ahsoka-“

“It’s a long story,” sighed Obi-Wan as he searched for the little Togruta’s presence in the Force. Sure enough, he could sense her speeding towards their location. “I think she’s on her way.”

No sooner had he spoken than Ahsoka burst through the door, taking in the battered room and spotting Obi-Wan and Anakin on the floor.

“Master!” she exclaimed rushing over to them. “Are you alright?” she asked kneeling down beside Anakin and placing a gentle hand on his chest.

“Never better, Snips,” grinned Anakin weakly, wishing he could pat her hand but too tired to move more than his mouth.

“Really?” said Ahsoka lifting an eyebrow. “Because you look even uglier than usual.”

“It’s called being ‘ruggedly handsome,’ Snips,” said Anakin, eyes closing again despite himself.

Ahsoka looked at Obi-Wan with concern. “Is he gonna be okay?”

“I’m not sure,” said Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka could hear the worry in his voice as well. He shifted Anakin slightly in his arms, preparing him for transport. “I don’t think Maul will be awake for a while, but we should probably tie him to something before we leave. We’ll send word to the Council for another team to come pick him up.”

“I don’t think he could do much damage even if he was awake,” said Ahsoka skeptically as she saw Maul’s limbless body. “But I’ll take care of it while you get Anakin to the ship. I don’t think Savage will be waking up for a while. I collapsed a hallway on him with my detonators.”

“Good girl,” smiled Obi-Wan but his smile vanished when Anakin moaned softly. Sending a pulse through the Force, Obi-Wan’s heart began to race. Anakin was truly in bad shape.

“We have to get him to the Temple. Fast,” said Ahsoka with wide eyes, sensing Obi-Wan’s concern. “He needed medical attention yesterday.”

“The Temple’s too far,” said Obi-Wan, standing with Anakin in his arms. “It’ll take too long to get him proper attention if we try to make it back.”

“Where else can we go?” said Ahsoka worriedly. “I don’t think Ithor has the best medical facilities…who’s nearby that’ll help us?”

Obi-Wan thought for a moment before his eyes lit up. “Mandalore’s nearby. I have contacts there.”

Ahsoka nodded. “Mandalore it is.”

 

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan quickly made his way to the ship with Anakin, who, despite Obi-Wan’s best efforts, had passed out in his arms.

He gently laid Anakin on the ship’s cot, cursing the fact that he and Ahsoka had needed to leave so hastily. The ship they had taken was not well-equipped for medical emergencies- the best he could do was put Anakin on life support and hope for the best. Carefully placing the mask over Anakin’s face, Obi-Wan shrugged off his cloak and spread it over his sleeping Padawan. Anakin inhaled sharply, but his eyes remained closed.

Obi-Wan sighed and placed a hand on Anakin’s forehead, frowning as he felt his apprentice’s warm skin. That wasn’t good.

“I’ll be back soon to help heal you,” he murmured softly. “We’ll get you help. You’ll be alright.” Obi-Wan wasn’t sure who he was trying to reassure.

Taking one last look at his ailing friend, Obi-Wan hurried to the cockpit, bracing himself for the second most arduous task of the day. He set up the holotransmitter, fixing his face in the most charmingly disarming expression he could muster.

Considering his luck, he wasn’t at all surprised at who picked up his comm.

 “Kenobi. Where. The hell. Are you.”

“Hello Mace,” said Obi-Wan with a winning smile. “I hope you’re doing quite well. The Council meetings are going well, I hope? How did you sleep last night?”

However, charm tended to bounce off Master Windu like a bug on a speeder’s windshield. Today, it seemed that Obi-Wan was destined to be that bug.

“Cut the crap, Obi-Wan. You deliberately disobeyed the Council’s orders. I know you went to see Vos, and I know that you went after Maul by yourself.”

“Now to be perfectly accurate, I did have some backup.”

“A teenage Padawan is not appropriate backup for a rescue mission involving two Sith Lords,” growled Mace. “If Skywalker doesn’t kill you, I will.”

“She’s quite well-trained,” offered Obi-Wan helplessly. “Anyway, didn’t Quinlan tell you where we were?”

“No,” said Mace, rubbing his head. “His comm conveniently ‘broke up’ before he had a chance to inform us. We were just able to verify that he was unaffected by your little favor.”

“There now, it seems that all is going according to the Will of the Force,” said Obi-Wan smiling brightly again.

“Don’t you dare try to pull a Qui-Gon Jinn on me, Kenobi,” said Mace pointing a warning finger at Obi-Wan. “Now for the last time, where the hell are you? Did you find Skywalker?”

Obi-Wan nodded. “Yes, we did, but he was injured very badly. Ahsoka and I engaged Maul and Savage, and we defeated both. They are alive, but incapacitated in an abandoned research facility on Ithor. That’s actually why I commed you- we need help moving them.”

“That’s why you commed? Not because you went on a rogue, unauthorized mission?!” Mace sighed, rubbing his face again. “We’ll talk about this later. Why can’t you take them?”

“The ship we, uh, borrowed,” said Obi-Wan quickly, “is too small for us to take them, and even if we could we wouldn’t be able to properly restrain them should anything happen. In addition,” he said glancing worriedly towards Anakin’s direction, “Anakin needs medical attention immediately. We’ll take him to Mandalore. I hope that the Duchess Satine will host us until Anakin is recovered enough to travel a longer distance.”

“Very well,” said Mace shaking his head, “I believe we have a Jedi team nearby. We’ll dispatch them immediately to collect Maul and Savage. Take Skywalker to Mandalore, but understand that you and I will be having a Very. Long. Conversation. When you get back.”

“You are a credit to our Order, Master Windu,” said Obi-Wan bowing.

“And you’re a pain in my ass, Kenobi,” said Mace before ending the transmission.

Obi-Wan leaned back in his seat and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Well. It could be worse. Probably.

Leaning forward again, Obi-Wan punched in another code, one he had memorized long ago. His stomach fluttered as he waited anxiously for his call to be accepted.

“Hello? Obi-Wan?”

Obi-Wan smiled awkwardly. “Hello, my dear.”

Duchess Satine Kryze stared at him for a long moment, seeming to drink in every inch of his face as if making sure he was really there. Obi-Wan certainly wasn’t blushing under her scrutiny. Thank the Force Anakin is asleep. He looked back at her more closely. Even in her flickering holo-image, Satine looked tired. She always tried to carry the weight of her world on her shoulders, and as much as she tried to hide it, Obi-Wan could always tell when it threatened to crush her. They gazed at each other for another beat until Satine blinked rapidly, ending her examination and regaining her composure. She fixed him with a cool stare.

“Master Kenobi. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

Obi-Wan blinked, momentarily startled by the cold change in her manner. “I- well- I need your help, Satine. Do you remember Darth Maul? I believe I spoke of him to you once briefly.”

Satine frowned. “The Sith who killed Master Jinn?”

Obi-Wan nodded grimly. “The same.”

“Yes, I do remember. What of him?”

“He resurfaced,” explained Obi-Wan. “It’s a bit of a long story, but the point is that I’m on the planet Ithor with my Padawans Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano.”

“Yes, I remember Knight Skywalker from the Coronet,” said Satine, nodding, “And I believe Padawan Tano gave some classes to my nephew, Korkie.”

“Indeed,” said Obi-Wan, thankful that she seemed willing to listen. “Well, we just had a rather brutal encounter with Maul and Anakin is badly injured. I’m worried he won’t make it the Jedi Temple, and we don’t have much in the way of medical supplies.”

“Mandalore is only a couple of hours travel from Ithor,” said Satine. “I suppose you’ll want to bring him here?”

“Yes, if possible,” said Obi-Wan hopefully.

“Of course,” said Satine, “You must bring him right away. I’ll have a medical team on standby awaiting your arrival at the Sundari Palace. Knight Skywalker and Padawan Tano are most welcome.”

“Satine, I cannot thank- “

“I will see you soon,” said Satine curtly, before ending the transmission.

Obi-Wan blinked, staring dumbly at the space where Satine’s image had been just a moment ago. That was…odd. Satine could always be rather difficult, be she seemed almost…angry at him. What had he done? Obi-Wan shook his head, pushing the issue out of his mind for now. He could sense that Ahsoka was on her way back from securing Maul, so he began to prepare the ship for take-off.

At least he didn’t have to call anyone else today.

***

Anakin groaned as he slowly blinked into awareness, instantly wishing he was asleep again. His entire body ached and burned. It felt like a hundred pod crashes hitting him all at once.

Casting his eyes around the room, he noted that he was lying on the cot of a ship. He could hear Obi-Wan’s voice distantly near the cockpit -Was that Mace Windu?- and his lips quirked a bit as he noted that Obi-Wan’s cloak was covering him. Despite its tatters, he felt safe beneath the robe, Obi-Wan’s Force signature lingering on it and warming him with his Master’s presence.

Frowning, he tried to claw at the mask on his face and cursed when pain shot up his left arm, causing him to quickly abandon his pursuit. Anakin huffed, frustrated- he couldn’t wait to get his prosthetic arm back. Stupid Sith.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, relishing the softness of the cot beneath his broken body. It was finally over. Maul was out of commission, Ahsoka was okay, and Obi-Wan-

Obi-Wan had touched the dark side. He could have Fallen.

Except he hadn’t. A quick peak at their bond, which pulsed more strongly in the Force than it had ever before, showed that Obi-Wan was still rooted firmly in the light, the Force caressing one of its favorite sons.

So what exactly had happened? Anakin had seen Obi-Wan’s eyes flicker yellow, had felt him call on the Dark Side of the Force. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny…

But Obi-Wan had come back. Anakin could feel it as they connected, he could practically see the dark retreating from the older Jedi. Of course it had. This was Obi-Wan kriffing Kenobi, the champion of the light.

But Obi-wan had come close for Anakin’s sake. The master of non-attachment had all but admitted he was attached, and Anakin couldn’t help but feel a warm delight overtake him at the thought.

Obi-Wan cares about me.

 And remembering how deeply Obi-Wan had opened himself up to Anakin in the Force, allowing the young Jedi to pull him back form the dark, remembering the obvious love that Anakin had felt in those moments, he felt ashamed at ever having doubted his master’s regard for him. He had severely underestimated Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Maybe… maybe he’d understand, then.

He could tell Obi-Wan. Anakin could finally shed the lies and secrets he’d kept from his master, about Tatootine, about Padme…

Of course Kenobi wouldn’t understand, my dear boy, whispered Palpatine’s voice in his mind. There’s a reason you’ve held back from him for so long. He’d turn you in without a second thought.

A month ago Anakin wouldn’t have hesitated to agree. A man who’d betrayed the trust of his closest friends for the sake of a mission would have certainly put his duty first and turned Anakin in to the Council. A month ago, Anakin might not have even been sure that Obi-Wan would come rescue him from Maul.

But it seemed that Anakin had been wrong about a lot of things lately.

“Anakin?” said Obi-Wan rushing over to the cot and interrupting his thoughts. “You’re awake. How are you feeling?”

Anakin lifted his chin, gesturing to the mask and frowning. Obi-Wan sighed. “You need to keep it on, Anakin.”

Anakin shook his head, immediately regretting it as a pounding pain erupted through his skull.

“Alright, alright,” grumbled Obi-Wan, his aggravated tone betrayed by the gentleness with which he removed the mask. “Just don’t hurt yourself further.”

“Where are we going?” said Anakin weakly, relieved to have the device off him.

“Mandalore,” said Obi-Wan softly, holding Anakin’s flesh hand. “It’s much closer than the Temple. We’ll get you to a doctor soon.”

Mandalore? “Oh, we’re going to see your girlfriend,” said Anakin, a ghost of a smile hovering at his lips.

“Anakin, Satine is not-I mean the Duchess -“ corrected Obi-Wan pinching the bridge of his nose, “She-she just happened to be close by is all,” he finished lamely.

“Hey, if you needed an excuse to see your lady you should have just told me,” rasped Anakin, amused despite the urgency of his situation. “Didn’t have to wait for me to get kidnapped.”

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “She is not my ‘lady,’ Anakin.”

“Your ‘Duchess,’ then. Sorry, it’s hard for me to remember the right titles.” Anakin grinned. “I’ll tell her all about how her handsome Jedi valiantly rescued me. I’ll even throw in a couple of extra Sith to the story to make sure she’s impressed.”

“Anakin-“

“Do you want me to say you were shirtless or something? Give her food for thought.” Anakin winked up at Obi-Wan before his face contorted in pain, his body reminding him of his current limits.

“I’m putting the mask back on,” said Obi-Wan, his anxiety over Anakin’s condition spiking. He fussed over Anakin for a few minutes, adjusting the mask and the covers to make sure his friend was as comfortable as he could make him. “There. Healing, with the added benefit of silence.”

Anakin glared at him, but there was no real annoyance in his look. He could feel his body shutting down again, Obi-Wan’s face starting to swim above him. Shrugging, Anakin blinked several times-he felt extremely warm. Master? he sent through their bond.

Yes, Anakin? said Obi-Wan, appearing with a cool cloth.

What happened to Maul and Savage?

The Council is sending another team to pick them up. They’ll likely be locked up in the Temple, where the Jedi can keep an eye on them for now.

Oh. Is Ahsoka ok?

She’s quite alright, responded Obi-Wan. I believe she’s putting us in hyperspace now.

Anakin nodded, laying still and exhausted as he felt Obi-Wan send healing pulses to him through the Force. He wiped the sweat off of Anakin’s face, soothing his padawan’s pain as best he could. Warmed by the safety of Obi-Wan’s presence beside him, and of Ahsoka’s in the cockpit, Anakin could feel the horror of the past week slipping away. His eyelids were drooping.

Master?

Yes, Anakin?

We- we’re gonna be ok, right?

Obi-Wan smiled as he pressed the cloth against Anakin’s forehead. Yes, Anakin. I think we will be. But rest for now. There will be time to talk later.

Anakin nodded, eyes sliding shut. They would talk later. All would be well.

***

They landed on Mandalore a couple of hours later, reaching the Sundari Palace with little problem. As Ahsoka landed the ship, Obi-Wan lifted an unconscious Anakin in his arms and stood waiting impatiently for the ramp to open. Anakin hadn’t woken since they had entered hyperspace, and Obi-Wan was no healer. He was anxious to have Anakin in a hospital as soon as possible.                

The ramp finally lowered and Obi-Wan strode down to the landing. His heart leapt as he saw the medical team already waiting for them, just as Satine had promised. Thank you my dear, said Obi-Wan silently as he helped transfer Anakin to the medical pod. He spoke quickly with one of the medical assistants, describing as best he could the nature of Anakin’s injuries as the young doctor quickly recorded everything, frowning.

Finishing his report, Obi-Wan made to follow the medical team inside with Anakin when a young woman stopped him. “Master Kenobi?” she asked.

“Yes?” said Obi-Wan, eyes still following Anakin’s progress toward the palace.

“Hello!” said the young woman brightly. “My name is Zeria Qitt. I am here to help settle you and Padawan Tano at the palace while you stay with us. May I show you to your rooms?”

“Our rooms?” said Ahsoka joining them. “But we’d like to stay with Master Skywalker.”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until the lead doctor gives the ok,” said Zeria smiling regretfully, “Dr. Brobuu runs her medical center quite strictly, and she’s not very keen on visitors hovering during the initial stages of treatment.”

“But-“

“Rest assured, your friend will receive the best possible attention. Dr. Brobuu is very good at what she does,” said Zeria looking between Obi-Wan and Ahsoka. “However, the Duchess did instruct that the rooms closest to the medical wing be prepared for you. I think she suspected that you’d like to stay near your friend. If you’d like, I can show you your accomdations and then we can check in with the doctors.”

“Very well,” said Obi-Wan. He looked over to Ahsoka, who looked like she was about to continue arguing. “There’s not much more we can do for Anakin now,” he explained placing a hand on her shoulder. “The best we can do is settle ourselves and rest for a bit so that we can give Anakin whatever help he needs when he wakes up.”

“Alright, “ said Ahsoka reluctantly, crossing her arms. She snorted. “We’ll probably need all the energy we can get to stop him from escaping his room, if history has taught us anything.”

Obi-Wan smiled. “Indeed.”

“Great!” said Zeria happily. “Let’s get going then.”

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka followed Zeria towards the palace. They walked in silence for a few minutes before Obi-Wan turned to Zeria with the question that had been burning on his tongue since they’d arrived. “Excuse me, Ms. Qitt? Did- did the Duchess mention anything about meeting us? Once we’d arrived?”

“No, I don’t believe she did,” said Zeria looking over at Obi-Wan. “However, she’s been quite busy as of late. If you’d like to make an appointment with her, I’d be happy to check her schedule!”

“No, no, that’s quite alright,” said Obi-Wan hastily. “I only wanted to thank her for her hospitatliy is all.”

“Well if you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll run into her in the palace at some point,” smiled Zeria.

“Yes, perhaps,” said Obi-Wan looking up Satine’s portrait, hanging gracefully in the center of the grand hallway. “If I’m lucky.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka spent the next two days hovering outside of Anakin’s bacta tank, sending whatever reassuring pulses they could through the Force to the unconscious Jedi. Obi-Wan’s time-honed skills of persuading hospital orderlies to allow to him to stay beyond the typically accepted boundaries for visitors proved as useful as ever as he and Ahsoka kept their careful vigil beside the tank. Thankfully, Zeria Qitt was a gracious host. She quickly accepted the fact that her charges were unlikely to stray from the young Knight’s side for the time being and faithfully brought them food, toiletries, and news from the Duchess.

“Duchess Satine has asked me to inform you that Knight Skywalker will be receiving the most advanced prosthetic available in our medical facilities once he has recovered enough for the surgery,” Zeria updated them during one of her food deliveries.

“Please pass on our thanks to the Duchess,” said Obi-Wan nodding his head. “Her generosity is tremendously welcomed.” He half-hoped that Satine would send a message arranging to meet in person, but she had not yet done so. Perhaps it was for the best- one ordeal at a time for now.

After two days, Anakin was finally released from the tank and settled into a room in the medcenter. Though he remained asleep, color was beginning to return to his face, and his features were no longer scrunched in pain. Ahsoka and Obi-Wan each took a side of the bed, silently watching over their friend for another three days as Anakin was wheeled in and out of surgery and other treatments. Ahsoka stayed with her masters faithfully until Obi-Wan encouraged her to take a break and say hello to her former pupil when she received word that Korkie Kryze had returned to Mandalore.

That left Obi-Wan sitting silently by Anakin’s hospital bed, one hand clasping Anakin’s fingers gently. Despite the many reassurances from Dr. Brobuu, he still had slight difficulty accepting that Anakin, half-dead only a few days ago, would really, truly be alright after the litany of injuries he’d sustained over the past week. The fear and panic that had enveloped him since Anakin’s capture had slowly abated as he watched the bruises fade from his apprentice’s face and the tremors from the electrocution halt. Obi-Wan shifted his thumb so that it was resting on Anakin’s wrist, feeling the soft throbbing of the pulse beneath. While the Force told him that Anakin was stable and recovering well, it sent a wave of calm through Obi-Wan to feel the proof beneath his fingers.

Attachment, whispered a reproof in his mind. Obi-Wan sighed, closing his eyes to meditate yet again. How could he have failed so miserably? How many years had he spent berating Anakin for his inability to let go when he himself could not release his attachment to those he loved? Force, he had Fallen. He’d been prepared to kill Maul in anger, even once he’d disarmed the Sith. It was not the Jedi way. Obi-Wan’s attachment had driven him to the rim of light until he teetered on threshold of infinite darkness, ready to throw himself off the edge.

And yet it was attachment that saved him.

All because his thickheaded, foolish, cocky, reckless beloved apprentice loved him too much to allow Obi-Wan to Fall. In that moment that Anakin yanked him back from the darkness, Obi-Wan had felt the Light shining through him as he felt nothing but Anakin’s love and affection enveloping him. It wasn’t dark, it wasn’t dangerous. Though his love for Anakin, and even Qui-Gon, had sent him tumbling towards the dark, his attachment itself wasn’t tainted. When he and Anakin connected, allowing their care for each other flow unfettered through the bond it was…freeing.

Obi-Wan had never felt closer to the Force in his whole life.

And that new connection thrummed silently between him and Anakin, their bond melded more firmly and brightly than ever before. It was far more muted, of course, than it had been on Ithor, though Obi-Wan suspected that it may change once Anakin was more fully recovered. But even with Anakin unconscious, Obi-Wan could sense a difference. He sank into the Force more fluidly, could pick up the emotions of the stressed hospital orderly without reaching out, could sense the heartbeat of the palace cat floating through the hallways. When Zeria had nearly dropped a bowl of soup the previous day, he’d instantly caught it with reflexes, while already heightened by the Force, that surprised even himself.

Perhaps before he’d have looked upon the change as new power, threatening and untamed like that of dark side. But now? Obi-Wan wasn’t quite sure.

So lost was Obi-Wan in his thoughts, he nearly missed the small moan that escaped Anakin’s lips. Head jerking towards his former apprentice, Obi-Wan squeezed Anakin’s hand. “Anakin? Anakin, can you hear me?”

Anakin groaned again, eyes fluttering to reveal sky blue slits. “Anakin,” called Obi-Wan gently, “You can wake up now, dear one.”

Slowly, Anakin’s eyes blinked into focused, and returned Obi-Wan gesture, squeezing his master’s hand weakly. “Obi-Obi-Wan?”

“Yes, Padawan,” said Obi-Wan smiling. “I’m here.”

Anakin blinked again, frowning. “Where is here?” he asked groggily.

“We are in the Sundari Palace on Mandalore,” said Obi-Wan. “The Duchess Satine is hosting us as her guests, remember?”

“Oh yeah,” said Anakin becoming more focused as he tenderly stretched. “Your excellent friend.”

“Indeed,” said Obi-Wan raising an eyebrow and carefully pushing Anakin back towards his pillows. “Where I’m sure we’ll do nothing to disrespect that hospitality, like say, oh, escaping the medical ward or tampering with any droid in the vicinity when we’re bored.”

“Good thing we don’t know anyone like that,” said Anakin grinning lazily up at Obi-Wan. “Well, actually, you have been known to escape the medical ward. I’ll keep an eye on that.”

“Your vigilance is inspiring,” said Obi-Wan dryly as he adjusted Anakin’s blankets. “Now tell me,” said softly, “How are you feeling?”

Anakin shrugged lightly, doing his best not to agitate his bandages. “Ok, I guess. Sore. Tired. Though not nearly as bad it was. What’s the damage report?”

“Recovering well,” said Obi-Wan, “The effects of the electrocution have been fading, though you still may feel some tremors for the next few days. Your bones are healing nicely, and the infection from your burns has cleared, though the scars will likely remain,” he said looking away guiltily.

“Obi-Wan,” said Anakin sternly, tugging on his hand, “You’re not thinking of blaming yourself for this are you?”

“It’s my fault Maul targeted you-“

“Look, Obi-Wan, unless you sent Maul a personalized invitation saying ‘Please RSVP to capture and torture my wonderful apprentice with dashing piloting skills to keep him out of my hair for a few days,’” I’m pretty sure it’s not your fault,” said Anakin rolling his eyes.

“I would hardly call your piloting skills ‘dashing.’ ‘Outlandish,’ perhaps. ‘Ill-advised,’ more likely.”

“Whatever. It’s not your fault, so drop it,” said Anakin settling into his pillows, closing his eyes. “Where’s Snips?”

“She went to greet Korkie. The poor girl deserved a break. She hasn’t left your side in days, you know.”

Anakin’s eyes snapped open. “Days? How long have I been out?”

“Oh, just under a week,” said Obi-Wan non-chalantly.

A week?”

“And you will stay in bed, until you are cleared by a medical professional to do anything other than sit here and twiddle your thumbs. Or, erm, thumb I suppose,” he added sheepishly. “You will be getting a replacement soon. For Force sake, Anakin, you were half-dead.”

“But I feel so much better, “ said Anakin frowning. “Actually,” he said, looking around uncertainly, “Everything feels- kind of different? I don’t know. It’s like the Force is clearer. Stronger.”

“I feel it too,” sighed Obi-Wan, “It’s our bond. It changed after- well after I Fell,” he finished eyes downcast as shame rushed over him.

“You dipped a foot in, “ said Anakin yawning, “You didn’t Fall.”

“Anakin Skywalker, are really going to be so-  so- so cavalier about this?” sputtered Obi-Wan. He’d failed Anakin. His own apprentice had had to come grab him from the abyss. “We are speaking of the dark side. How can you just brush it off?”

Obi-Wan waited for some cocky remark, some joke about how uptight he was, the stick he needed to pull out of the mud. But to his surprise, Anakin suddenly drew his presence into himself, falling into a thoughtful silence as he seemed to twist and turn a thought over in his mind. He could feel his friend’s anxiety steadily rise and concern rapidly started to build within him again.

“Anakin?” he prompted worriedly. “What is it?”

Anakin met his gaze, and Obi-Wan was stunned to see the first glints of tears beginning to prick his eyes. He felt a resolution in the Force as Anakin took a breath and carefully pushed himself into a sitting position.

“Obi-Wan. I-I have some things I need to tell you.”

***

Anakin was sure that he’d never felt his heart race as fast as it did now. He’d felt far more calm facing an army of ten thousand battle droids than he did in this moment. What if Obi-Wan hates me?

Not trustworthy, whispered Palpatine’s voice. He didn’t actually kill anyone. He’s in the clear. But you? My dear boy, he’d turn you into the Council at the first opportunity.

But Obi-Wan was here, sitting anxiously at his bedside with guilt gnawing at him for Anakin’s ordeal. He’d done everything in his power to save his apprentice. He said he loved Anakin.

He’s a liar. He lied about his death. He’s lying now. He’s the perfect Jedi.

But even if Obi-Wan hadn’t said it, Anakin had felt it, had felt his pure, unconditional love in that shining moment their souls melded together on Ithor. Even now, the Force sang around them, guarding master and apprentice in its warm embrace. Obi-Wan wasn’t who he thought he was. He was even better.

And so Anakin decided to talk.

He told Obi-Wan everything. He told him about his dreams in those weeks before Geonosis, his anger at being brushed off, his decision to run off with Padme to Tatooine. He told him about the way his heart shattered when he found his mother in the hut, about the brief glimpse of hope he gripped with all his might as he comforted her, about the white, blinding rage that erupted from his soul as she fell limp in his arms. He told him about the massacre that followed.

He told him about the twisted delight he’d felt in cutting down the Tuskens, the way he ignored the screams of all of them, even the women and children. He told him about the deep, deep self-loathing he’d felt since that day, the consuming remorse that he’d carried and the singular desire to take everything, everything back. He told him about his grief, and the gaping, bleeding hole in his heart that had not healed since he’d bid his mother’s gravestone farewell.

He told him about Padme. He told him about the wild happiness that she inspired in him, about their secret wedding in Varykino, and his regular visits to her apartment when they finally landed on Coruscant after weeks on the battlefield. He told him how his heart leapt when he saw her speeches, and how the horrible residue of the war, the violence, the loneliness washed away in her arms.

Anakin didn’t know how long he talked, nor when he had collapsed into sobs, though he hoped Obi-Wan understood what he had said anyway. When he finished he squeezed his eyes shut, his one hand gripping the sheets as he awaited Obi-Wan’s judgment. Oh Force he hates me. He hates me, he hates me, he hates me-

“Anakin,” said a gentle voice above him as a calloused hand gripped his own. “I hope you know by now that I could never hate you, dear one.”

Dear one? Anakin slowly brought his gaze up to meet his master’s, disbelief and fervent hope swelling inside him.

“But- but everything I did-“

“Anakin,” said Obi-Wan sighing heavily. “I-I cannot condone what you did on Tatooine. And once this war is over, I think we will need to address it more directly.”

Anakin nodded, looking down again, crestfallen.

“But listen to me, Anakin. I- I understand. This encounter with Maul, it wasn’t the first time I’ve felt the pull of the dark side, though it was certainly the most forceful. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one,” said Obi-Wan softly, “And the thought of losing you too- it almost pushed me over.”

“But you didn’t-

“Because you pulled me back, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan. “And you don’t know how much I wish I was there with you that day to return the favor. Though I suspect I had plenty of opportunity before that to help you. I should have been more understanding of your attachments Anakin. I should have protected you better.” He closed his eyes. “I’m sorry I wasn’t a better Master.”

“You were the best Master,” said Anakin firmly, gripping Obi-Wan’s hand. “And I’m sorry that I never saw that earlier. I’m so sorry for letting you down, Master” he said, tears leaking from his eyes again.

Obi-Wan smiled at him, his gratitude shining through the Force. “I want what’s best for you, Anakin. You are a good man, and we’ll put you back on the right path. Both of us. Whatever happens after the war, I will stand by you.”

Anakin’s heart swelled and he released Obi-Wan’s hand, pulling his master into the tightest one-armed hug he could manage. Obi-Wan gently returned the embrace, holding his dear friend as tightly as he could without causing him pain. They stayed like that, soaking in the others’ presence until Anakin drifted off to sleep on Obi-Wan’s shoulder. The galaxy breathed anew.

***

Lightyears away, a chancellor was startled awake. He sat up in bed, eyes narrowing as he took in the Force around him. He hissed. The balance had shifted.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Anakin was lying down, settled back onto his pillows, the next time he woke up. He blinked and shifted lightly, his arm brushing up against something next to him. Looking down, he smiled. It seemed he’d fallen asleep on Obi-Wan after their talk, and his master had put Anakin back on the bed, himself having slumped into sleep on the bedside sometime after. Anakin had watched Obi-Wan age thirty years in the past few days, but in sleep he seemed at peace, his many burdens slipping from his shoulders if only for a moment.

Anakin lay there, unwilling to face the day, unwilling to wake up Obi-Wan up just yet. The medical center thrummed around him, machines beeping and doctors chattering around the floor. Something felt strange. Not bad, not at all, but…different. He’d noticed it when he’d first woken up, but he hadn’t had a chance to think about it. But now he felt it. Clearly. He felt everything clearly. While he’d felt the Force more closely than most Jedi, Anakin felt like a pressure on his chest had been lifted, like a heavy layer had been removed, one Anakin hadn’t even realized was there. And then there was his heartbeat. And his breaths. They were in tandem with Obi-Wan’s. It felt like everything was beating together, everything in synchrony and in light. Anakin felt more at peace than he had since the last time he’d held Padme in his arms.

Padme.

For the first time since he’d made his vows, Anakin could think of his beautiful wife without the nagging frustration of keeping their love a secret. He didn’t know what would happen with them now, or what would happen after the war, but he felt okay about it. Because Obi-Wan knew. And Obi-Wan would help them.

I wish I could tell Padme, thought Anakin ruefully. I hope she’s ok with me telling Obi-Wan. He had a feeling she would be. Padme may be a politician, but she was open. She guarded her feelings more carefully than Anakin, more intelligently, but she disliked any form of dishonesty, even necessary secrets. Anakin laughed silently. Between Maul and Obi-Wan he had quite a list to update his wife on.

Anakin blinked. Update. List. Oh kriff.

“Obi-Wan?” said Anakin, reaching out to shake his master. “Hey, um Obi-Wan? Can you wake up?”

Obi-Wan was awake instantly, hair ruffled as he looked at Anakin’s monitors. “Anakin? Are you ok? What happened? Do I need to call the doctor?”

“Nothing! Nothing,” said Anakin hastily. “Just uh, had a thought.”

“A thought?” said Obi-Wan rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Well there’s a first time for everything, I suppose.”

“Ha ha,” said Anakin, “I’m glad your sarcasm survived the past week.”

“Thank the Force for small miracles,” said Obi-Wan leaning back in his chair. “So. Your thought?”

“I was wondering if you had a communicator nearby,” said Anakin casually, “Just, um, wanted to make sure Padme wasn’t worrying, ‘cause, well, you know about us now, and she just, you know, is married. To me. And—”

“Don’t stress yourself, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan, slightly amused at his apprentice’s flustered sentences. “I’m sure she’s not worrying any more than usual. We didn’t make Maul’s return or your kidnapping public, so she’ll likely just think you’re on one of your regular missions. There’s no way she could know about your injuries or the fact that you were even missing in the first place.”

“Well,” began Anakin slowly. “You- you know our database? The one that has a list of all active Jedi? And their locations? And—”

“Their health status?” said Obi-Wan narrowing his eyes. “I’m sure you don’t mean the highly classified database with heavily restricted access, especially to non-Jedi?”

Anakin suddenly became very interested in the ceiling. “It is possible that I may have taught Padme how to hack that list.”

“You—”

“We hardly get to see each other, Obi-Wan!” protested Anakin. “And she likes to know how I am, even if it’s bad. So, she’s probably worried sick, especially if they listed me as critical at any point.”

“Anakin,” said Obi-Wan, through gritted teeth, “It’s incredibly irresponsible to give anyone unauthorized access to that list.”

“Please, Obi-Wan,” said Anakin, “Please help me talk to her.”

“I need to update the Council soon on your condition anyway,” said Obi-Wan pinching the bridge of his nose. “They’ll update our highly classified list and then she’ll see that you’re fine.” He huffed. “I really thought Padme would have enough sense for both of you.”

“That’s mean,” pouted Anakin. “I have sense.”

“You have nonsense,” muttered Obi-Wan. “But,” he continued louder, “I don’t see why it can’t wait. You’re going to be fine, and she’ll figure it out.”

Anakin looked up at Obi-Wan, giving him the best sad eyes an injured boy with one arm could muster. “Please, Obi-Wan. Please. I need to talk to her.”

Obi-Wan looked at Anakin for a long moment before sighing. “The comm’s on the ship. I’ll go get it.”

Anakin face split into a grin, thanks spilling along the bond. “I owe you, Master. Thank you.”

Obi-Wan shook his head, rising from his seat. “We’re not done talking about this, Anakin,” he said warningly, but there was no real bite in the threat. Anakin could feel Obi-Wan’s pleasure at seeing Anakin awake and happy after the horrors of the past week.

“Thank you,” he repeated as he watched Obi-Wan sweep out of the room.

***

Obi-Wan was making his way back to the medical center, admiring the palace’s architecture as he walked. He’d always liked the palace, its large windows allowing sunshine to tumble into the hallways as the clouds drifted through the sky. Mandalore had suffered much throughout its history, but the planet was beautiful and resilient.

Just like its leader, mused Obi-Wan wistfully before the thought stopped him in his tracks. No. He couldn’t let himself think like this. ‘Attachment is forbidden’ reminded a mechanical voice in his head.

But you’ve stomped all over that rule, haven’t you? He’d opened himself up to Anakin, had changed his very Force signature through their new bond and new acknowledgement of their connection. And despite what he may chew Anakin out for, Obi-Wan genuinely felt happy for his apprentice. Where he may have once felt fear or disappointment he felt…rightness. Padme completed Anakin. She balanced him out. Obi-Wan was still afraid for them, afraid of where their path may lead, but he also accepted that their path did not necessarily end in destruction. There was a path that ended in hope as well.

So why couldn’t I do the same with Satine?

They could. He knew Satine cared for him, just as he cared for her. They had admitted it to each other. Obi-Wan allowed himself to picture, just for a moment, himself and Satine after the war, together in peace. It was a beautiful thought, one that sang with rightness. But was it even possible? Did Satine even care for him anymore?  Satine had been incredibly gracious in facilitating Anakin’s treatment, but she’d been awfully cold to Obi-Wan himself.

Perhaps we’ve closed that door far too many times to open it even once more.

“Obi-Wan?”

Obi-Wan jerked his head up, yanked from his reverie. “S-Satine?”

Satine was there, standing before him in the middle of the hallway with sunlight bouncing off her earrings. She looked wonderful, as she always did, as she took in the sight of the Jedi before her. Stepping forward slowly, she reached out her hand and settled it on Obi-Wan cheek, fingers gently stroking his bead. “You’re alright,” she whispered.

“I-yes,” said Obi-Wan softly, unsure of what to say. “It was Anakin that got the worst of it.”

“Oh,” said Satine, slowly dropping her arm and folding her hands into a diplomatic manner. “Yes. Yes, of course. How is Knight Skywalker?”

“Much better,” said Obi-Wan bowing his head. “He has just woken up and seems to be doing well. I cannot thank you enough for saving him.”

“I think you did most of the saving, Obi-Wan,” said Satine her lips quirking into a smile. “I’d like to think I just cleaned up after your mess. As I always do.”

“I don’t make messes,” protested Obi-Wan weakly, “I am capable of being responsible.”

“If that’s what helps you sleep at night, I’ll allow you to continue thinking so,” laughed Satine softly. She paused, taking Obi-Wan in again. “It really is good to see you in person, Obi-Wan. Very, very good. I—”

“’I’—what is it, Satine?” asked Obi-Wan when she failed to continue.

“It’s nothing,” said Satine, and Obi-Wan could feel her drawing into herself again.

“Satine,” he pleaded, reaching out to her. “Please talk to me. You’ve been rather cold—”

“I’ve been cold?” snapped Satine, eyes flashing. “Obi-Wan, you—” She stopped, turning away. “It’s nothing. I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me now, I have meetings to attend, Master Jedi.”

“Satine,” said Obi-Wan grabbing her arm. “Please. If it’s something I’ve done—”

“It’s what you didn’t do, Obi-Wan,” said Satine pulling away from him. “Why can’t you see that?”

“See what—”

“Duchess?”

Obi-Wan and Satine turned to see Zeria running up the hallway. “Duchess Satine? The district representative from Sector 7 is here to see you.”

Satine closed her eyes, shaking her head. “Is it about the food shortage?”

Zeria nodded, eyes worried. “Yes, Duchess.”

Obi-Wan frowned, turning to Satine. “Mandalore is having a food shortage?”

“With all due respect, this is not a matter for the Jedi,” said Satine coolly. “Thank you for updating me on Knight Skywalker’s status. Good day, Master Jedi.”

Obi-Wan faltered as he watched Satine and Zeria make their way down the hallway, confusion and hurt mixing within him. He sighed. Perhaps attachment to Satine would not become a problem anyway.

***

Anakin frowned as Obi-Wan stormed out the door after he dropped off the comm with a mumbled “You’re welcome.” He worried that it was something he’d done, though his instincts told him there was something else at work here. When Obi-Wan fought with Anakin, he tended to overthink and become broody. But if Anakin didn’t know any better, he might even say that Obi-Wan was sulking. 

But right now wasn’t about Obi-Wan. Heart beating in eager anticipation, Anakin settled the comm on his lap and punched in the code. He might be married, but the thrill of seeing his wife had never managed to fade.

“Ani? Is that you?”

“Hi, Angel,” said Anakin softly, his face beaming at the small projection of his wife. “How are you?”

“How am I? Worried sick! Ani, what happened? Where have you been? Where is your arm?”

“I’m okay!” he said hurriedly. “Just some bumps and bruises.”

“A missing arm is not a ‘bump,’ Anakin.”

Ah, ok so maybe a little more than a bump,” said Anakin sheepishly. “But I really am ok.”

Padme’s face softened a bit. “Good. You better come back to me in one piece, Skywalker. But, really, what happened?”

“The short version?” sighed Anakin. “Remember Maul? Yeah, he came back to get Obi-Wan. So, he decided he’d try to kill me first and then take out Obi-Wan to get revenge. But Obi-Wan kicked his ass and now we’re on Mandalore so that I can recover. And get a new arm.”

“That really was the short version,” said Padme raising an eyebrow.

“You don’t know the half of it,” said Anakin. “But, um Padme. There’s a lot I have to explain, but you should really know that, I uh did something without asking you. I—I told Obi-Wan about us. About our marriage.”

“You told him?”

“And about Tatooine too. Padme, I’m so sorry,” said Anakin shaking his head, “I should have told you first, I should have—”

“Ani, stop,” said Padme laughing. “That’s wonderful news!”

“It is?” said Anakin, confused.

“Yes, it is. Honestly, I’m relieved that someone else knows, and I’m sure that if you told him it was with good reason. But how’d it get to that? You were so angry at him when you left.”

“There really is a much longer version,” laughed Anakin. “And I can explain it all better once I get back. But, well, during the fight with Maul, he said that he loved me. That he cared about me and that he would do whatever it took to get me home safe. And I don’t know, something changed between us. We’re closer than ever. Something- something else happened, but I don’t know if Obi-Wan would be willing to share that yet.”

“I told you he cared,” said Padme grinning. “Another score for the wife.”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Anakin. “But I had to summon the guts to actually tell him so point to me too. But,” pouted Anakin, “Now he’s passing judgments on our relationship. He said you were the one with all the sense.”

“He is a wise Jedi Master,” smirked Padme. “Maybe you should listen to him.”

“You two better not gang up on me when we get back,” groaned Anakin.

“I wouldn’t dream of such a thing,” said Padme with a playful look in her eyes. “Are you going to tell Ahsoka too?”

“Should I? I hadn’t thought about it,” said Anakin biting his lip. “Attachment’s forbidden. I don’t want to, you know, corrupt her with my rule-breaking ways.”

“I feel like you’ve already taught her quite a lot of rule-breaking.”

“Are you calling me a bad role model?” said Anakin in mock offense.

“You said it, not me,” smiled Padme. “I’m ok with it either way. Ahsoka’s part of our family too, just like Obi-Wan.”

“Yeah, she is,” said Anakin thoughtfully. “Ok, I’ll think about it.”

“Good,” said Padme. She paused for a moment, someone yelling something behind her. She nodded and turned back to Anakin. “Ani, I’m so sorry, but I think have an urgent call coming in. I have to go,” she said regretfully.

“That’s fine,” said Anakin. “I’ll try to call again soon.”

“Please do,” said Padme smiling at him. “I’m so happy you’re safe. I love you so much, Ani.”

“I love you too, Angel,” said Anakin softly, watching sadly as his wife’s image blipped out.

He sat there for a while, gazing into space as he tried to memorize Padme features. He had nearly succeeded in falling asleep when Obi-Wan entered the room, collapsing into the chair beside Anakin’s bed again. He gestured to the comm.

“How’d the call go?”

Anakin grinned. “Great. She didn’t chew me out for telling you about us. She’s happy I’m alive.”

“Did you discuss the illegality of her hacking into the classified database?”

Anakin rolled his eyes. “That’s not romantic, Obi-Wan.”

Obi-Wan shrugged. “Well I suppose I wouldn’t know.”

“Agreed,” said Anakin looking at his master suspiciously. “So, what’s up with you? You seemed a little sulky earlier.”

“I am a Jedi Master, Anakin, I do not sulk.”

“And yet, here you are,” pointed out Anakin. He grinned. “What, are you jealous of me and Padme talking when you haven’t’ seen your girlfriend?”

“Of course not,” snapped Obi-Wan a little too quickly. Anakin raised his eyebrows.

“Oh man, you are!”

“No—I,” said Obi-Wan pinching the bridge of his nose. “Fine, ok, yes, I may have run into Satine in the hallway today. We spoke. She inquired after your health and then took her leave, so I was free to resume my duties as your errand boy.”

“Nope,” said Anakin. “There’s more to it than that. What else did you guys talk about?”

“Nothing!” said Obi-Wan exasperated. “She won’t talk to me. She seemed happy to see me for one moment and then she became incredibly cold. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”

“Hm, that is a little weird,” said Anakin frowning. “I haven’t seen Duchess Satine in a while. Since your funeral, actually.” His eyes widened. “Obi-Wan! Your funeral!”

“What about it?” said Obi-Wan looking confused.

“Satine—she was there. She was crying, she was absolutely devastated. Did you talk to her? You know, after it all happened? Did you talk to her?”

“Well, no. My return was quite well publicized, I figured she’d know. I didn’t even realize that she had been at the funeral,” said Obi-Wan softly.

“You didn’t send a note? A call? Anything?” said Anakin in disbelief.

“Anakin, the mission became so famous, she must’ve have known—”

“That’s not the point!” exclaimed Anakin. “Look, why do you think I made such a big deal of calling Padme when I could’ve just waited for her to find out on the list?”

Obi-Wan frowned. “Because you’re clingy?”

“No!” said Anakin swatting Obi-Wan with his good hand. “Because it shows that I was thinking about her. That I care. That I recognized that something I did, or something that happened to me might, hurt or worry someone I care about, even if I’m ok.”

Obi-Wan looked up at the ceiling. “So, you think that’s why? She’s hurt I never talked to her about my death?”

“I think so, yeah,” insisted Anakin. “Look, Obi-Wan. As a married man---”

“Oh Force,” muttered Obi-Wan.

“—let me give you some advice. Apologize to Satine. Let her know that you didn’t realize she was at the funeral, that you’re sorry you didn’t tell her. That you care. Just like you told me.”

“Anakin it’s not that simple,” said Obi-Wan tiredly. “You and Padme are married. You have that commitment to each other. But Satine and I—We don’t know what we are. We don’t have that obligation to each other. We’ve both acknowledged that we have duties outside of whatever we may feel for each other, and we have closed that door. We know that care for each other. In another lifetime, we might have chosen each other over duty.” He sighed. “But that was then. This is now.”

Anakin looked at his master for a long moment, suddenly feeling very exhausted. “I know. I know it’s different. But Obi-Wan,” he said softly, “Maybe it’s not too late to open that door just one more time. I know what the code says about attachment but look at us. Look at our bond. It hasn’t destroyed us. It saved us back there. Maybe,” he said feeling himself start to fall asleep again, “Maybe it’s time to revisit the code.”

Obi-Wan considered his friend, watching him drift away. He wondered. “Perhaps, it is,” he whispered to himself.

 

 

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan Kenobi was the galaxy’s most insufferable man.          

That is the only conclusion one could possibly reach, mused Satine as her advisors rambled on before her. Because only such an insufferable man could have the audacity to ask why she had been so very cold in the aftermath of his charade. Satine could understand many things, things about war and things about duty. She could understand well why he had acted as he did. She did not begrudge him his lie.

But not even a note? Not even when the dust had cleared, and the Chancellor had been saved did he think to send her a message, any message to assure her that he was alive and whole?

Insufferable, thought Satine fiddling aimlessly with her datapad. Stupid man, with his stupid beard and pretty eyes…

But it was so wonderful to see him again. Relief had poured over her like medicine for a cold, like a cool drink for the midday heat. There was no small part of her that relished having him in her palace, distant but assured that he was safe and in her care. But perhaps her coldness was uncalled for. Detachment was proper between two individuals performing their duty, between a Duchess and her Jedi. Yet her reactions were something more profound than that, born from an anger that was born from an attachment rooted deeply within her.

I do still love him, thought Satine wistfully. My recent reactions have only proven that further. But his behavior, his lack of behavior, only makes me wonder if he still loves me?

For both of our sakes, I shall have to let him go.

“—no further leads on where the food is going to. But four more sectors have reported a lack of food as more of these shipments disappear. The people are starving, and they are starting to blame you, Duchess.”

Satine sighed as she focused her attention on the conversation once more. “As I asked before when the first sectors reported food shortages, what leads do we have? Because I certainly have no motivation for withholding resources from our citizens.”

Advisor Bizent, shook his head. “We have not discovered anything yet. But rumors are spreading…”

Satine narrowed her eyes. “What rumors?”


“Well—nonsense, really—but the people are saying that your neutral views are angering our trade partners. They say the shipments aren’t disappearing—they just don’t exist.”

“Ridiculous!” said Satine angrily. “I have taken every precaution to maintain our commercial ties and have replaced the precious few we’ve lost as a result of Mandalore’s neutrality.”

“We know that, Duchess,” said Bizent, holding his hands up, “But the people are rumbling. They say we must join a side in the war. Anything to bring back the food.”

“It’s not the war that’s done this to us,” said Satine sitting back, frowning. “Something else is at work here. Continue the investigations and begin to draw plans for rationing. We’ll certainly have to dig into our stores now.”

“Of course, Duchess. But perhaps--”

“Perhaps, what?” asked Satine, fists clenching.

“Perhaps it may be time to revisit conversations regarding Mandalore’s neutrality—”

“No,” snapped Satine. “I have fought long and hard to keep Mandalore from this wretched war and I do not intend to end our neutrality anytime soon.”

“But Duchess—”

“No buts,” said Satine firmly. “Meeting adjourned.”

Satine sat fuming as her advisors shuffled out, grumbling. If things didn’t change soon, she may find herself without allies in the public or even in her own government. If only I could ask Obi-Wan, she thought. He was intelligent, caring, sympathetic to her cause. But I couldn’t. It’s all far too…complicated now.

She supposed Knight Skywalker might have an interesting point of view as a Jedi. Senator Amidala had frequently recommended him as a Jedi of unique and strategic insight. But Satine didn’t know Knight Skywalker well, and would hate to bother him as he recovered.

Wait. Senator Amidala. Padme might be of some help. Padme had always proven herself a loyal and clever woman. She was a seasoned politician, and would likely bring a fresh, unbiased perspective to Mandalore’s crisis. Most importantly, Satine trusted her with her life, with her planet perhaps. And if they were speaking anyway… perhaps Padme could even help her with another matter.

Satine punched in the numbers quickly, fingers tapping impatiently as she waited for the other line to pick up.

“This is Senator Amidala.”

“Padme, it’s Satine.  I know you must be terribly busy, but I was wondering—would you have time to make a quick visit to Mandalore?”

***

“I’m just saying, Master, I don’t think you’re thinking big enough.”

Anakin frowned, offended. “Excuse me, Ahsoka, I am the biggest thinker around.”

“Now, Anakin, don’t confuse big thinker with big head,” said Obi-Wan watching the conversation with amusement as Ahsoka snorted, hiding her laughter behind a hand.

“No one asked you, Obi-Wan,” snapped Anakin, though a smile was tugging at his lips as well. It felt good, their bantering. Like the family was back together again. He was especially happy to see Ahsoka laughing and teasing. He dreaded to think what this last week had done to her and he was mortified that he’d put his padawan through something so terrible. Anakin couldn’t wait to make it up to her.

“Anyway,” Anakin continued. “What’s wrong with my idea? An electric zapper would be an awesome upgrade to the new hand. It could be a good back up if I-uh- misplace my lightsaber. Plus, I can install a lower setting and just zap Obi-Wan with my finger if he’s annoying me.”

“Yeah,” said Ahsoka rolling her eyes,  “but think of all the other awesome weapons you could put in it. Like a flame thrower, or a laser cannon—”

“Or a slingshot—”

“Really, Master? A slingshot?”

“Hey, I had a slingshot when I was kid,” said Anakin indignantly. “You can do a ton of damage with those things.”

“I can certainly attest to that,” muttered Obi-Wan. “As can Master Jocasta Nu.”

“Small accidents,” shrugged Anakin. “Casualties of innovation.”

“Well, we could do other things to the new arm that aren’t weapons,” said Ahsoka eagerly. “You know how on those cartoons they shoot oil spills to trip up the bad guys chasing them?”

“Really, Snips? I think I’m a little cooler than some cartoon.”

“Hmm. Debatable,” grinned Ahsoka.

“Regardless,” interrupted Obi-Wan. “I think we’d all be prudent to remember that Anakin’s new arm is a gift from the Duchess. I highly doubt it would  be a good idea to implore her doctors to make such, well, questionable, upgrades.”

“When’s the surgery again?” asked Anakin. “Day after tomorrow? That’s plenty of time to make our requests.”

“Definitely,” said Ahsoka, laughing.

“Quite,” said Obi-Wan lifting his eyebrows. “Speaking of which,” he said frowning at the door, “I believe the doctors were supposed to come and make the final measurements for your fitting two hours ago. I’ll just go and see if there’s any problem.” He turned to Ahsoka. “Can I trust you to keep him  out of trouble for just a moment?”

“That’s a tall order, Master Obi-Wan,” said Ahsoka smiling.

“I know I ask the impossible, but I appreciate the effort anyway,” said Obi-Wan winking at Ahsoka before he left.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” said Anakin shaking his head as Obi-Wan walked out the door. “I’m always well-behaved.”

“Yeah, and I’m a Twilek, ”scoffed Ahsoka. “I’ve seen you do some damage, even in a medbay.”

“It’s a gift,” said Anakin smiling broadly.

“Uh huh,” said Ahsoka. She scooted her chair closer to Anakin’s bed. “But seriously, Master. How are you feeling.”

“I’m fine,” said Anakin, a little too quickly for Ahsoka’s taste. “I swear.”

“Master,” said Ahsoka softly hugging herself. “Please. I know we both do this all the time on battlefield. Pretend it’s fine when it’s not. But we know it’s really not. Everything’s that happened the past few months—it’s just been. Hard. And I—” she sighed. “I just want us to be honest with each other. About the big things, sure. Like fake deaths and all that. But in the little things too. So,” she said looking at him straight in the eye. “How are you actually feeling?”

Anakin leaned back into his pillows, looking at Ahsoka. When did his little scrappy Padawan become so wise? When did she start sounding so tired? “Ahsoka,” he said softly, tempted to just hide all his pains from Ahsoka to spare her any more hurt. But he understood with sudden clarity that it would only hurt her more. I shouldn’t make the same mistakes with her. Especially if I’m still yelling at Obi-Wan over his. “Honestly—I’m tired. I’m more exhausted than I’ve been in a long time. And there’s still some pain left over, from the electrocution mostly. And I’m still pretty sore,” he said looking over at Ahsoka. “No dashing heroics from me for a while.”

“For two weeks, to be exact,” said Ahsoka looking pointedly at him. “That’s what Doctor Brobuu said.”

“Yeah, yeah two weeks,” mumbled Anakin as Ahsoka gave him a smug grin. “But no more.”

“Yes, more. If you need it,” said Ahsoka frowning at him. She looked down at her feet rocking silently for a moment before speaking again. “I was scared, Master,” she said quietly. “I was so scared I was going to lose you too.” She looked up at Anakin and Anakin was startled to see tears brimming in her eyes. “I know it makes me a bad Jedi,” she said, voice cracking, “But I don’t know what I’d do without you. Or Master Obi-Wan.”

“Oh, Ahsoka,” said Anakin softly, extending his arm to her as she crawled onto the bed and nestled herself against his chest. She gripped his tunic as her shoulders shook, and Anakin rubbed circles in her back as soothingly as he could. “That doesn’t make you a bad Jedi,” he said gently. “Caring about other people, needing other people. It’s not a weakness. It’s not evil. It’s a strength.

“You know that I grew up—not in the Temple. I had a mom,” he said avoiding Ahsoka’s stare as she looked up at him questioningly. “And we had it tough.  But no matter how bad things got, we had each other. My mom always taught me that no matter how much bad is in the world, caring about others, loving others even, is what keeps the good in place. We’re stronger together. And-and I’ve honestly never been able to fit the code with that. Sure, obsessing over people, using love the wrong way—that leads us to the dark side. But it can lead us into the light too.” Anakin laughed lightly. “I think Obi-Wan and I have learned that lesson recently.”

Ahsoka sniffed, laying quietly for a minute listening to Anakin’s steady breathing. “You really think we can be attached and be good Jedi? Good keepers of the peace?”

“I think so,” said Anakin. “I really do.” I should tell her, he realized. She deserves to know. She’s part of the family too.

“Hmm,” said Ahsoka thoughtfully.

“In fact,” said Anakin taking a deep breath. Here we go. “I, um. Have definitely broken the rules. On attachment.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” laughed Ahsoka. “I know you’re attached to me. To Obi-Wan.”

“But, um, like a lot.”

Ahsoka sat up again. “What do you mean?”

“I- um. Well. I’m married. To-to Padme.”

Ahsoka looked at him. She blinked. She blinked again. And then a wide smile split her face as she started to laugh.

“What are you laughing about?” said Anakin, bewildered. “This is serious!”

“No, no I’m not laughing at you,” said Ahsoka grinning. “It’s just—well it just makes so much sense.”

“What do you mean?” said Anakin frowning. “We kept it secret. Professional.”

“Uh huh,” said Ahsoka, rolling her eyes. “Then why do the clones have a bet going around as to the status of your relationship with Senator Amidala?”

Anakin stared at her blankly. “I’m going to kill Rex,” he grumbled darkly.

“I guess he won,” said Ahsoka, thoughtfully. “He was definitely in the marriage pool.”

Anakin groaned and flopped back on his pillows, thinking of the long lecture he’d have with the 501st when he got back on his feet. “Wait a second,” he said looking suspiciously over at Ahsoka. “Are- are you okay with this?”

Ahsoka looked at the floor silently for a few moments before answering. “I think I am,” she said almost sounding surprised. “I mean I tried not think about it a lot, but you two always seemed really close. You both felt happier when you got assigned together,” she said picking a blanket thread. “It felt good. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing.” She looked at Anakin. “Maybe before the war I would’ve been pretty scandalized. But after everything we’ve seen, everything we’ve been through together. Everything’s the Council’s done, the Jedi have done. I don’t know. Maybe we don’t know as much as we thought we did.”

“Yeah,” said Anakin quietly. “Maybe we don’t.”

“Besides,” said Ahsoka, looking hopefully at Anakin. “If you and Senator Amidala ever have kids, can I babysit? Ohh, can I be godmother?”

“Padme and I are in a secret marriage, just when do you think we’ll have kids?”

“I’m just saying—”

***

Obi-Wan was a dignified Jedi master and as such did not groan when he got unwanted comm calls. He may, however, feel a slight twinge of annoyance when he saw who was calling.

“Kenobi here.”

“Obi-Wan it’s Mace. How is Skywalker doing?”

“Fine,” said Obi-Wan. “He seems to be recovering well. The doctors estimate he should be mostly better in a couple of weeks.”

“Well see if you can get him back to the Temple before then. We want you back here as soon as possible.”

“Whatever for?” asked Obi-Wan before he could think the better of it.

“For starters,” said Mace glaring at him. “It would be nice of you to return that ship you stole—”

“That I borrowed,” corrected Obi-Wan lightly.

“And secondly, our Jedi team has succeeding in picking up Maul and Savage. They are transporting them back to the Temple to be treated and imprisoned. As soon as he’s able, we’d like to interrogate Maul. We believe he may be able to offer us some intel on our missing Sith Lord.”

“And what will make Maul cooperate with us?” asked Obi-Wan frowning.

“I don’t know,” sighed Mace. “But the sooner you get yourself back here, the sooner you can help us figure it out.”

“Indeed,” said Obi-Wan quietly. “Very well. I will keep you updated.”

“Thank you ever so much,” said Mace curtly before hanging up.

Obi-Wan put the comm away, deep in thought as he made his way back to Anakin’s room. Interesting times were becoming ever more interesting. Things were coming, the Force whispered to him. Many things. But whether such things were good or bad Obi-Wan had no way of knowing.

Chapter Text

“I can’t wait for Senator Amidala—I mean, Padme, to get here,” said Ahsoka looking happily at Anakin. Anakin had insisted she be with him the next time he called Padme, and Padme had clearly been delighted that Anakin had let her in on the news of  their marriage. “Now, you have to call me ‘Padme,’” Padme had said smiling warmly at Ahsoka. “We’ve always been family, but now it feels a little more real. No more ‘Senator Amidala’ when we’re in private, okay Ahsoka?”

Anakin put the comm away, still grinning from their call with Padme. “Me too, “ he said beaming at Ahsoka. “I think I’ll still be knocked out from the arm surgery when she gets here, but maybe I’ll be awake by the time she gets through her meetings with the Duchess.”

Ahsoka nodded thoughtfully, her leg bouncing. She secretly couldn’t wait to see Anakin and Padme together, see if she could spot any signs she had missed.  “Well, if you’re going to be in surgery anyway, maybe me and Master Obi-Wan can go meet her at the platform when she lands, with the Duchess.”

“It’s a good thought,” said Obi-Wan slowly from the window. “But as much as I’d like to see Senator Amidala, perhaps it’s best that I stay around for Anakin’s surgery. Just as a precaution, if he needs me.”

Anakin rolled his eyes. “Obi-Wan’s just afraid of his girlfriend. He doesn’t want to run into Satine.”

Ahsoka whirled toward Obi-Wan with wide eyes, jaw half-open, as if she’d just heard that Obi-Wan was sprouting a new eyeball. “Obi-Wan is married too?!”

“No! No, of course not!” said Obi-Wan flustered as he whipped back from the window, glaring at Anakin who was howling with laughter from the bed. “We—we’re just very old friends, is all. We went on some missions together when we were young. I was still just a padawan myself. Anakin,” he said frowning, “Just enjoys his exaggerations.” He stomped over to the bed, where Anakin was wincing slightly. “Serves you right,” Obi-Wan grumbled as he pushed Anakin back down on the blankets and rearranged the pillows. “Your ribs are still healing, you know.”

Ahsoka glanced suspiciously at Anakin as he tried to wave Obi-Wan off. “Hmm. Okay.” She smiled sweetly at Obi-Wan. “Well, I guess we can go together then. If Anakin doesn’t need you?”

“I don’t think I do,” said Anakin looking at the ceiling, lips barely suppressing a smile. “Say hello to Padme for me please, Obi-Wan. And the Duchess.”

“With pleasure,” said Obi-Wan darkly.

A small knock on the door interrupted their conversation. A tall man with dark hair stepped into the room, eyes locked onto a datapad. “Hello,” he said without looking up. “My name is Dr. Araguv Bala. I’ll be performing the surgery on Master Skywalker this afternoon. I just wanted to come check on the patient. How are you feeling, Master Skywalker?”

“Fine,” said Anakin shrugging. “Ready to get an arm back.”

“I thought Dr. Brobuu was going to be performing the surgery,” said Obi-Wan turning to Dr. Bala.

Dr. Bala shook his head. “I’m afraid Dr. Brobuu is feeling quite ill today. However, I assure you that Knight Skywalker will be in perfectly capable hands. Of course, if you’d prefer to wait for Dr. Brobuu, I’m sure we could reschedule the surgery in a few days—”

“No, no,” said Anakin hastily, waving his hand. “I’m ready to do it today.”

“Though we send our best wishes to Dr. Brobuu for a quick recovery, of course,” said Obi-Wan examining the doctor.

Dr. Bala nodded and made a few notes on his datapad. “Of course. Very well then. I will see you in about half an hour for prep, Master Skywalker. Master Kenobi, Padawan Tano,” he said nodding to Obi-Wan and Ahsoka before turning out of the room.

“Well,” said Ahsoka cheerfully. “Looks like it’s time to get going.” She leaned over Anakin to give him a careful hug. “We’ll see you in a few hours, Master.”

“Indeed,” said Obi-Wan squeezing his shoulder. “I will pass along your greetings to Senator Amidala.”

“And to Duchess Satine.”

“Of course.”                                                            

***

This was going to be a good trip.

Padme carefully folded her hands in front of her, preparing the politician’s face she always wore when disembarking on diplomatic missions. Though it was more out of habit for this trip. Satine was a dear friend, and Padme couldn’t wait to see her. She worried about the other woman, carrying the weight of such a troubled planet on her shoulders, with often so few allies at her disposal. Satine had apologized profusely for the short notice on the trip when she had called Padme, but Padme was genuinely pleased that the other woman had reached out to her. She was thrilled to help.

And if she happened to run into a few other guests while she was here? All the better. While Padme had faith in Obi-Wan’s ability to fuss over her husband, she did prefer to do the fussing herself when the rare opportunity was presented.

Besides, she had to admit that she was quite curious about whatever had transpired between Obi-Wan and Anakin during their misadventure. Anakin had seemed so lost, so unhappy when they’d left but to embrace Obi-Wan again to the point of opening up to him about Tatooine? Their marriage? This was something she had to weasel out of Anakin.

Padme was pulled from her thoughts as the ramp of her ship descended. As she strode down the ramp, handmaidens at her side, she saw Satine standing proud and elegant as ever amongst her attendants. She couldn’t hide the small smile that danced on her lips as  she spotted Obi-Wan striding out of the palace some yards behind Satine’s party, Ahsoka walking energetically by his side.

Pretending not to see the Jedi for the moment, Padme walked before Satine, who dipped her head slightly as Padme approached. “Senator Amidala,” she said calmly. “How good to see you.”

“Duchess,” said Padme politely nodding back. “I believe the pleasure is mine.” She paused for only a second before her face broke out in a grin and she reached out to embrace her friend. “Satine,” she said laughing as the Satine returned the smile, “It’s been far too long.”

“Indeed, it has,” said Satine warmly, bending slightly to hug Padme. “I cannot tell you how glad I am to see you.”

“I’m happy to help,” said Padme breaking the hug. “And it looks like you have some other guests with you today as well,” she said turning to Obi-Wan and Ahsoka.

“Senator Amidala,” said Obi-Wan bowing.

“Senator Amidala!” said Ahsoka as she bowed quickly before tackling Padme with her own hug, which Padme happily returned. “It’s good to see you again.”

“I’ve missed you too, Ahsoka,” laughed Padme. “We’ll have to catch up at some point, okay?”

Obi-Wan coughed discretely behind Ahsoka, causing the padawan to immediately turn to Satine. “Oh! Duchess!” she said bowing deeply. “It’s good to see you too. I haven’t had a chance to say thank you for everything you’ve done for my Master.”

“No thanks required, young one,” said Satine placing a hand on Ahsoka’s shoulder. “I hear very good things about you from my nephew, Padawan Tano. I’m honored to host you.” She reached out to Padme, grasping her hand. “It’s such a relief, after all, to have two wise women amongst such fools,” she whispered loudly enough for Obi-Wan to hear. Ahsoka giggled, and Padme glanced bemused between Obi-Wan, who was looking quite determinedly at the sky, and Satine. Something else to ask Anakin about then.

“Well,” said Satine gesturing to the palace, “Will you join me then, Padme?”

“Of course,” said Padme waving to Ahsoka and Obi-Wan. “We’ll talk later. Perhaps I could come visit Master Skywalker as well?”

“Certainly,” said Obi-Wan glancing warily between her and Satine. “You know where to find us.”

Padme nodded and set off with Satine, the two exchanging idle news on the Senate and Republic. They arrived at Satine’s study, Satine’s attendants pouring tea and arranging a plate before leaving the two women to their discussion.

“So,” said Padme, taking a sip of tea from her cup, “How are you Satine? I know you weren’t able to tell me much on the comm, but it sounds like you’re tackling a lot.”

Satine sighed, stirring her tea absentmindedly. “Truthfully, Padme, I feel at a loss. I know I still have good servants in my government, but I’ve had so many disappoint me, betray me. Even those I feel I should trust, I’m not sure I can.” She scoffed. “I trust you far more than many of my advisers and we’re not even from the same planet.”

Padme hummed in agreement. “I know the feeling. This war—it’s made us question everything, even our friends.” She shook her head. “And it sounds like you’ll need them. Any leads on the food shortage?”

Satine frowned. “Not quite. I’ve checked the shipment records, and it seems like our imports are arriving to Mandalore, but the food suppliers say they haven’t received anything in weeks. Our local suppliers insist that they are still sending food out the markets, but the markets haven’t received anything.” She let out a frustrated huff. “It’s like it’s all just… disappearing.”

“And the people?” asked Padme, setting her cup down.

“Reports of discontent are spreading,” said Satine looking out the window. “Many are blaming me and my decision to keep Mandalore neutral, saying it’s affecting our trade partners. But the supplies are arriving to the planet. And it doesn’t explain why the local shipments are disappearing.” She paused for a moment. “The local ones were the first to disappear, actually.”

 “Sounds like it is someone within your government then.” Padme bit her lip. “They stand the most to gain, don’t they? If the people are starving, then they blame you. If they blame you…”

“Then my power is ripe for the taking,” finished Satine wearily. “Of course. I was loathe to think it was someone near me, but it’s the most likely explanation.” She shook her head. “But you are right, of course. I must concentrate my efforts on my own administration.”

“It’s alright, Satine,” said Padme taking the other woman’s hand. “Whatever the outcome of this investiagion, you still have many friends.”

Satine’s lips quirked. “I don’t think I’d say ‘many,’ Padme,” she said squeezing her hand. “But the few I have are high in quality.”

“Well, you do have excellent taste then, my lady,” said Padme smiling. “Now, let’s think. It’s unlikely that they’re destroying the food they’re taking. If the goal is to damage your popularity, it would make sense for them to wait until you’re unseated and then bring back the supplies. They’d be heroes.”

“Hmm,” mused Satine, “Then they’d have to have access to some fairly extensive storage. And they’d need  enough clearance to be able to access so much information about the shipments.”

“Any names come to mind?” prompted Padme.

“A few,” said Satine slowly, thinking. “Although one stands out to me most. Pre Vizsla. He’s one of my governors. He’s always professed his loyalty to me, and I’ve never quite had reason to doubt him, but he comes from a family that has always fought to return to some of Mandalore’s old ways. I can’t imagine my pacifist stances have ever sat completely well with him.” She tapped her finger against the table. “He’s always been quite entrepenerial… he’d certainly have the warehouse space to hide away the supplies. And as a governor he’d have ample access to the shipping records.”

“Might be a good place to start then,” said Padme. “You could send a team out to one of his warehouses.”

“No,” said Satine rising and starting to pace thoughtfully. “No, I think I might undertake this myself. Discretely. Vizsla’s a powerful man, and if he is indeed behind this, there is no telling how far his influence reaches.”

“I could go with you,” said Padme instantly. “Or, better yet, you can take Obi-Wan or Ahsoka. It would be good to have a Jedi’s help on covert mission.”

“Oh. Yes.” muttered Satine, without looking at Padme.

Padme examined her friend suspiciously, recalling their interactions on the landing platform. “Unless… you have a quarrel with them? With, Obi-Wan, perhaps?”

Padme fought to keep herself from laughing at her dignified friend’s very undignified snort. “I have had a quarrel with Obi-Wan since the beginning of time,” said Satine rolling her eyes. “I am a pacifist and he’s a Jedi, a general. An extremely stubborn one, at that.”

“I think it just might be shared trait of that Order,” laughed Padme. “But he’s a good friend, isn’t he? I’m sure he’d be more than happy to help.”

“I don’t doubt that he’d be willing to help,” said Satine sitting down again. “It’s just—it’s complicated, is all.”

Padme eyed her friend, debating. She did remember Anakin mentioning, with quite a bit of glee, that Obi-Wan and Satine had something of romantic past, though she had attributed her husband’s gossip more to his desire to pester Obi-Wan than any real truth. But seeing Satine like this? Perhaps there was more to Anakin’s fantasies than she thought. And if so, then this just might be the right time to share.

“Satine,” she said slowly, “I’m no stranger to complicated. Trust me.”

Satine raised an eyebrow at her friend. “I can just imagine the trail of broken hearts you’ve left behind, my dear.”

Padme laughed. “Not quite. I have a firm grasp on only one heart now.”

Satine started at Padme. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” said Padme taking a breath, “That I’m married.”

“Married—”

“To a Jedi,” said Padme calmly.

To a Jedi—oh I see. It must be Knight Skywalker then,” said Satine as the pieces clicked together. “You always did seem to gush about him.”

“Wh--I do not gush,” argued Padme, heat spreading to her face.

 “It’s hard to spot, but by your careful standards, it was gushing,” said Satine, bemused. “Hmm. I can see that I was only the secondary attraction on this visit then.”

“Oh hush,” said Padme swatting Satine’s arm as the Duchess laughed. “You know I would’ve come for you anyway.”

“I’m sure your dear blue-eyed Jedi sweetened the deal regardless,” said Satine, eyes twinkling. “But Padme. How—how do you possibly make that work? Isn’t it forbidden to him? And to you—a conflict of duty?”

Padme sighed. “It’s—it’s not easy,” she said looking down at her hands. “Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I don’t believe we’re throwing our lives away for the sake of love. We’ve talked of a future together, after the war is over and we can reevaluate our commitments to ourselves, our duties. But we love each other. There’s no denying it. And I truly believe,” said Padme looking at Satine, “That our love makes us stronger. Especially in these times of war and suffering, where it feels so hard to find our humanity. Anakin grounds me, treats like Padme, not just Senator Amidala. We don’t agree sometimes--a lot of times, actually-- but it’s good that we challenge each other. I would marry him again, despite everything. I would marry him a thousand times over.”

Satine nodded, absorbing what her friend had said. “And he doesn’t feel he’s betraying the Order?”

“Anakin’s relationship with the Order is…complicated,” said Padme shaking her head. “He feels that there should be a greater place for love among the Jedi, that some of their tenents are outdated. Anakin joined the Order much later than most Jedi. There’s always been some conflict between him and the rest of them.”

“Complicated, indeed,” said Satine thoughtfully. “I won’t pretend to understand the Jedi. Not completely.”

“Neither would I,” said Padme smiling ruefully. “I have a great deal of respect for the Jedi, and I think I always will. Though I won’t hesitate to say that I’d be quite thrilled to see some changes made.”

“Indeed,” said Satine softly.

The two women sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. After a long moment, Padme broke the silence. “Satine,” Padme said gently, “I won’t pretend to know what the future has in store for Anakin and I. What this marriage will look like in time. But in this moment, I feel clearly. Anakin and I have put all of our cards on the table. We’ve said what we wanted, and we committed to it. Whatever happens in the future, we’ve at least been open with each other, about us, about how we feel. And that is not something I regret.”

“I see,” said Satine, reaching out to grasp Padme’s hand again. “Then perhaps it’s time I had a conversation with my own Jedi.”

Padme smiled at her, pulling the Duchess in for a hug. “They’re wonderful people, but a bit oblivious when it comes to emotions. There are some things the Jedi prepare you for, and some they don’t. That’s why we’re here to tug them in the right directions.”

“Of course,” said Satine laughing. “We each run planets, how much more difficult could a Jedi be?”

“Nothing we can’t handle,” said Padme looking knowingly at her friend.

“Well,” said Satine rising to ring a bell. “Looks like I have a mission to complete, then. Zeria,” she said as her attendants walked in. “Would you fetch Master Kenobi for me? Please tell him I have a matter of state that I could use his help with.”

“Of course, Duchess,” Zeria bowing to Satine. She turned to a young woman that had walked in with her who was standing motionless by the wall. “Nasia,” she whispered, “Why don’t you go ask Senator Amidala if she’d like any more refreshments, hmm?”

“Oh!” said Nasia. “Y-Yes. Of course. Sorry, Senator Amidala.”

“Sorry about that, Duchess,” said Zeria shaking her head as Nasia  hurried out of the room. “One of the girls fell sick today and she’s a last-minute replacement. Still getting the hang of things.”

“Not to worry,” said Satine waving Zeria’s apology aside. “I’m sure you will handle everything.”

“Of course, Duchess,” said Zeria bowing. “I’ll go fetch Master Kenobi now.”

Padme stood up, smoothing her dress. “I suppose I’ll be off now too. There’s someone in the medical wing I think I’d like to visit,” she said smiling at Satine. “You will let me know if you need anything, right? Will you keep me updated?”

“Of course,” said Satine, “I’ll comm you every hour to check in. Go on, enjoy your visit.”

Padme squeezed her arm again before leaving. As she walked out of the room, Satine called to her again.

“And Padme? Thank you. For everything, my friend.”

Chapter Text

“Did you miss me?”

Maul stalked in front of Anakin, cracked teeth flashing as he bent down to grab the young Jedi by the front of his tunic. “Did you miss me, Jedi?” he spat, tightening his grip  as Anakin cried out in pain.

“Obi-Wan will stop you,” Anakin managed to choke out, “He’ll stop you.”

Maul shoved him back against the pole with both hands and Anakin saw stars swimming in his vision as his body shook in agony.

“You cannot stop the Sith,” hissed Maul as his yellow eyes bore into Anakin’s. “You will fail. Your Master will fail. The Jedi will end.”

Maul hit the lever and Anakin screamed as the electricity struck again.

“Anakin? Anakin can you hear me?”

Anakin gasped as he shot forward in his bed, narrowly missing a collision with Obi-Wan’s nose as his master jerked back. “What happened?” he asked frantically, looking around the room as Obi-Wan’s hands came to rest on his shoulders. Grey eyes met blue ones as Anakin blinked, pushing the dregs of the nightmare from his mind.  His heartrate gradually slowed as Obi-Wan guided Anakin back onto the bed.

“Anakin, you’re fine,” said Obi-Wan smiling at him though the concern on his face was obvious. “You were just waking up from your surgery.”

“Oh,” said Anakin raising his right arm. He flexed his fingers experimentally, hearing the soft sounds of the gears whirring as he moved. “Looks good. Seems like Dr. Bala did okay.”

Watching Anakin, Obi-Wan frowned. “Are you sure? Is it supposed to be hurting like that?”

At Anakin’s look of surprise Obi-Wan explained hastily. “Sorry. It’s just since our Force signatures have blended together I’ve been more, ah, receptive to what you’re feeling, without meaning to. I’ve been trying to block it out but it’s taking some getting used to.”

“Oh,” said Anakin, “Makes sense.”

Obi-Wan crossed his arms. “You didn’t answer my question though. I think we should call the doctor back.”

“No,” said Anakin quickly, propping himself back onto his elbows. “Honestly, Obi-Wan, I’m used to it.”

Obi-Wan blinked. “What do you mean you’re used to it?”

Anakin shrugged, obviously uncomfortable with the turn this conversation was taking. “I don’t know. I mean it’s not that bad, and it doesn’t hurt all the time. Just like after hard battles and stuff. Like all the other aches.”

Obi-Wan could feel his gut clenching uncomfortably, becoming painfully aware that he may have missed something. For far too long. “Other aches?”

“It’s not like you’re not sore all the time,” snapped Anakin.

“I am older than you Anakin—”

“You’re not that old—”

You’ve always implied otherwise—”

“I’m just kidding, Obi-Wan, mostly—"

Obi-Wan sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Anakin, there’s a difference between wear and tear after battles and chronic pain. You do get electrocuted an awful lot…”

“So do you,” Anakin shot back though he knew his record was likely far worse than Obi-Wan’s in that particular arena. He crossed his arms and turned away from Obi-Wan. “Just leave it alone, okay? Just because we’re melded or whatever doesn’t mean you can keep shoving your face in my business.”

Anakin immediately regretted his words as he saw the hurt pass through Obi-Wan’s face. Kriff. He didn’t mean to snap—it was just a sore point with him. Literally. He just hated taking any kind of medication. It made him feel like he wasn’t capable of controlling his own body. And at this point, instinct led him to take any Obi-Wan’s orders to visit the healers as another act of pulling rank or another reminder of Anakin’s weaknesses. His failings.

“Anakin. Has your arm always bothered you?” Obi-Wan asked avoiding his eyes. He’d withdrawn back into himself, though Anakin could still feel the hints of worry and guilt leaking through the Force.

Anakin opened his mouth to deny it, to argue that he was fine, that he was no worse off than the clones or any other Jedi thrown into the pressure of the war. And honestly, the pain hadn’t been so bad when he first lost the arm, the lingering discomfort a normal result of any new prosthetic. But after being pushed through battle after battle it never quite went away. And as his body kept facing new beatings, new eletrocutions, new injuries, Anakin had never really thought to question it.

Anakin looked at Obi-Wan knowing that his master would probably blame himself for not noticing. Ridiculous man. But he could also feel Obi-Wan’s signature pushing against his, the worry, the desire to know what was going on with Anakin.

No more secrets.

“Yeah,” admitted Anakin quietly. “Yeah, it kind of does. The other aches too.”

Obi-Wan let out a breath beside him, worry over Anakin’s pains swirling with relief at being told. “Then,” he said hesitantly, “Maybe we should look into a permanent solution in the future. You deserve to live better than this, Anakin,” said Obi-Wan looking at him earnestly.

“Yeah,” muttered Anakin. “You’re probably right.” He looked back at Obi-Wan. “I’m sorry for snapping. I do appreciate it. You asking, I mean.”

Obi-Wan smiled at him. “It’s alright. I should have noticed a long time ago.”

“Nope,” said Anakin firmly. “You don’t get to blame yourself for everything,  Obi-Wan.”

“I don’t blame myself for everything—”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, pardon me for a having a sense of accountability,” said Obi-Wan raising an eyebrow at Anakin. “It’s different. I’m happy to take responsibility for you. For Ahsoka. For my role as a general, as a Council member. For the things that I borrow, for that ship that we stole—”

“Whoa back up,” said Anakin staring wide-eyed at Obi-Wan. “What ship?”

“Oh,” said Obi-Wan flushing. He suddenly found something on his boots very interesting. “It is possible,” he said slowly, “That the Council did not entirely approve of our rescue mission. And it is possible that Ahsoka and I may have borrowed a ship to come find you. Without permission. Which we will promptly return.”

“You stole a ship—”

Borrowed a ship, Anakin—”

“Against the Council’s orders—”

“Bearing in mind the Council’s disapproval—”

“Kidnapping a Padawan—”

Enlisting the help of a talented young Jedi—”

“To save me,” finished Anakin looking at Obi-Wan with a mix of awe, surprise and pure delight.

Obi-Wan looked up at the ceiling. “Yes,” he said “I suppose that is something for which I am accountable. Do not think, however, that I am going to make it a habit of disobeying the Council, Anakin, because oomph-“ he grunted as Anakin suddenly reached over to grip him in a tight hug, burying his neck in Obi-Wan’s shoulder. Taken aback, Obi-Wan slowly wrapped his arms around Anakin in return.

“Thank you, Master,” said Anakin against Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

Obi-Wan hugged him a little tighter. “You have no need to thank me, Anakin, “ he said softly. They stayed together for a long moment until Obi-Wan eventually broke the hug. Obi-Wan smiled at Anakin before fixing him with a stern glare. “I do mean it, Anakin, this is not an invitation to disobey the Council—”

Anakin rolled his eyes. “Obi-Wan, you literally stole a ship, told the Council to shove its orders, touched the Dark Side, and are seeking refuge with your secret girlfriend. I have the moral high ground for the first time since—since ever, actually.” He grinned. “I think I win a month without lectures.”

Obi-Wan looked at him skeptically. “My two days of questionable decisions outweigh three years of forbidden marriage?”

“Surely you won’t hold that against us, will you Obi-Wan?”

Both Jedi turned to face Padme as she appeared in the doorway, hands crossed in front of her and smile shining as she took in the two men before her.

“Padme!” exclaimed Anakin and Obi-Wan was nearly bowled over by the unbridled happiness he felt emanating from his old apprentice.

“Senator Amidala,” said Obi-Wan politely bowing his head toward Padme.

“I think we’re well past that Obi-Wan,” said Padme warmly as she crossed the room to lay her hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “You can call me Padme. Thank you, so much, for keeping our secret. And for saving Anakin,” she said reaching out to squeeze Anakin’s hand tightly.

“Of course, Padme,” said Obi-Wan smiling back. “I hope you know that I’m here to help you two however I can.” And feeling the joy that shone from Padme and Anakin, hearing the Force hum in contentment around the pair, Obi-Wan felt safe in his decision to support his two young friends, no matter what lay ahead.

The reunion was interrupted by Zeria as she popped into the room. “Master Kenobi? The Duchess sent for you. She requests your help with a matter of state if you are available.”

“The Duchess sent for me?” said Obi-Wan surprised. “Oh. Well, I will be with her shortly then,” he said to Zeria who nodded and made her way out of the room.

“Well,” said Obi-Wan turning to Padme and Anakin. “I will be on my way. Padme, despite whatever Anakin may tell you, he is still recovering and needs to rest,” he said frowning at Anakin who was rolling his eyes. “So just no, um, strenuous activities.”

Strenuous activities?” said Anakin feeling like he was slowly sinking into a gaping hole in the floor. “Obi-Wan you’re not talking about our sex life, right?”

“What? No-No!” sputtered Obi-Wan feeling the blood rush to his face. “Just—just take it easy, alright?” And with a slight bow to Padme he beat a hasty retreat out the door as Padme fought to control her laughter and Anakin buried his face in his hands.

“Oh gods,” he moaned, “What have we done?”

“He just worries, that’s all,” said Padme still giggling as she threw her arms around Anakin who eagerly returned the embrace. He was secretly thrilled that he’d gotten his arm back in time for Padme’s return. Though most days he had come to terms with his replacement, he always regretted never being able to embrace his wife with two warm hands, though Padme never made him feel self-conscious about it. At least he could give her proper hug now.

“But how are you doing though?” asked Padme as she pulled back to cup Anakin’s face in her hands, stroking his cheeks and placing a soft kiss on his lips. “I’ve been so worried Ani.”

“I’m okay, Angel,” Anakin reaching up to lay his hands on her wrists. “I promise you.”

“Good,” said Padme. “You know I’d kill you if you died, right?”

“How could I ever leave the most amazing woman in the galaxy?” pouted Anakin and Padme felt her heart melt. She was used to hearing such broad praise, with politicians constantly scrabbling to shower her with empty compliments. But hearing them from Anakin, corny as they could be, always felt completely and utterly sincere. Anakin was the most earnest person she’d ever met, and she loved him for it.

“I have plenty of flaws,” said Padme kissing him again before curling up on the hospital bed beside Anakin, who shifted to let her nestle against his chest.

“The snoring does get pretty bad, but I’ll let it slide,” said Anakin kissing the top of her head as she lightly smacked him.

“Watch it, Skywalker,” she said, voice muffled against his side and Anakin laughed silently as the two fell into a comfortable silence, simply relishing being in the presence of the other, safe and sound

Anakin had nearly dozed off to sleep again when Padme spoke up. “I told Satine about us.”

“Really?” said Anakin surprised.

“Yeah,” she said looking up at him. “I hope that was ok?”

“Of course,” he said kissing her, “I told Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, after all. It’s just—I guess it feels a little weird that the Duchess of Mandalore knows about our marriage.” He made a face. “I just hope she doesn’t make any comments about our strenuous activities.”

“I really doubt she will,” laughed Padme as she glanced at the horrified look on Anakin’s face. “She was having some thoughts on her relationship with Obi-Wan and it just felt right to open up about us.”

“I see,” nodded Anakin. He frowned. “You wouldn’t have anything to do with this ‘matter of state’ she called Obi-Wan to, would you?”

Padme shrugged innocently. “I just thought Obi-Wan would be a great resource to solve her problem. I might have also suggested that it would be a good idea for them to spend some time together.”

“And you call my plans reckless,” teased Anakin. “Well, it looks like we’re working together. I told Obi-Wan he should open up to her too.”

“Who would have thought we’d ever end up playing matchmaker for the Duchess of Mandalore and Jedi Master Kenobi,” said Padme shaking her head. “Let’s just hope they both get over whatever’s holding them back.”

“He’d better invite us to the wedding,” muttered Anakin as they fell into silence again, curled together in peace for the first time in weeks, falling into a serene sleep.

***

Obi-Wan and Satine rode in silence, dressed in plain clothes as they approached Pre Vizsla’s warehouses. Satine had quickly explained the situation and her plan to Obi-Wan who had immediately agreed to aid Satine in her investigation. As any good Jedi would, he told himself. Not because he desperately wanted a moment alone with her. Anakin’s snippets of wisdom sometimes seemed few and far between, but when they presented themselves they were powerful. I need to apologize for the Rako Hardeen incident. And… I need to be honest about how I feel.

Obi-Wan could do a great many things with ease, but talking about emotions, about attachments, was not one of them.

But talking to Anakin, admitting their attachments to each other-- it hadn’t been so horrible. If anything, it had saved them, saved Anakin from his thoughts, Obi-Wan from the Dark Side. But does Satine still feel attached to me?

Obi-Wan was pulled from his thoughts as they arrived at Vizsla’s row of warehouses on the outskirts of the city. Wordlessly, they climbed down from their speeders and crept towards the first building.

“Supposedly, there should only be coal and mining equipment in these warehouses, correct?” whispered Obi-Wan.

“Yes,” whispered Satine, “It’s what his records show he’s been investing in lately. However, if we find the food supplies, it will go a long way towards proving his involvement in the food shortages.”

“It seems empty,” murmured Obi-Wan as he peered through the windows. “I think we should stick together and examine the crates.”

Satine shook her head. “No. We’ll cover more ground if we split up to check the crates.”

Obi-Wan frowned, unwilling to separate. “We only have one flashlight,” he tried.

Satine held the light up. “Perfect. I’ll use this one and you’ll use your lightsaber. It’s what the Jedi do best, isn’t it?”

“As part of our pragmatic brand of peacekeeping, certainly,” Obi-Wan shot back. He didn’t feel like rehashing this argument again, though he could’ve sworn he saw Satine’s lips twitching into a smile. “Satine, please. If Vizsla truly is behind these events, you are most definitely not his favorite person. If you were caught alone…”

Satine sighed. “Alright. But no hovering, alright Obi-Wan?”

“You offend me, my dear.”

Satine scoffed and began making her way inside the warehouse, Obi-Wan close behind her. They worked quietly, peeking into the crates only to find the promised coal and mining equipment. They continued searching, so absorbed in their tasks they didn’t realize they had both reached for the same crate, knocking it over with a spectacular crash. Obi-Wan pulled Satine to the ground, both holding their breath, listening for someone to come find them. But it appeared luck was on their side. The warehouse remained silent.

After several long moments, Obi-Wan released Satine, both sitting on the floor as they waited for their hearts to calm down. “My apologies, Satine,” said Obi-wan quietly.

Satine shook her head. “No,” she whispered back. “I should have been more mindful.”

Obi-Wan waited for a moment, gathering his courage before he spoke again. This is it. Before your nerve fails you. “I must apologize for something else, Satine,” he said hesitantly.

Satine frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“My funeral,” said Obi-Wan looking anxiously at Satine for her reaction. She took in a sharp breath but said nothing, waiting for him to continue. “Satine,” said Obi-Wan, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t tell you what was happening. And I’m even more sorry that I never reached out to afterwards, to see how you were. I—well, I shouldn’t have assumed that you would just find out it was a deception, that it would just be alright.”

Satine sat quietly, thinking. “It broke my heart, Ben,” she whispered, “It broke my heart to think I would never see you again. That I’d never be able to tell you—”

Obi-Wan reached out to take her hand when she didn’t continue, gently cradling it in his. “Tell me what Satine?”

“To tell you that I still love you,” said Satine reaching up to stroke his beard. “That I have never loved another man like I love you. And that I never will.”

“Satine,” whispered Obi-Wan grasping her hand. “I love you too,” he said, “I don’t think I have ever stopped.”

They smiled shyly at each other, fingers entwined as they soaked in the truths their hearts had been aching to hear for far longer than the other realized. Obi-Wan could feel the Force alight with possibility, with hope. This can’t be wrong. We can make this work. And work for the better.

“Obi-Wan,” Satine began before catching sight of something beside them. “Obi-Wan!” she exclaimed, racing over to the shattered crate they had spilled. “Look!”

Obi-Wan was by her side in an instant, immediately recognizing what she had seen. “The food supplies,” he breathed, “They were in a false bottom. That’s how he’s been hiding them.”

“So it is Vizsla,” said Satine, face hardening. “He is going to be a powerful opponent indeed.”

“I’m afraid so,” said Obi-Wan before yanking Satine down beside him again. “Someone just entered the warehouse,” he said as quietly as he could. They quickly crept behind a larger tower of crates, close enough to hear the radio conversation of the warehouse’s newest occupant.

He was a burly man, dressed in a rough brown jacket with a black radio clipped to front. “Yeah, yeah I’m here,” he said, stopping in front of a line of long, wooden boxes. “You said seven, right?”

“Yeah,” said a static voice over the radio. “Take the tops off all them to check. The boss’ll be mad if he ends up with a corpse and not food supplies.”

Satine looked over at Obi-Wan, horrified. “Corpse?” she mouthed to him.

Obi-Wan looked back helplessly, a cold pit settling in his stomach. I have a bad feeling about this…

The burly man finished his inspection. “Got ‘em all,” he said gruffly into the radio. “Going out to get the lift now,” he said as he walked out of the warehouse.

“Satine!” hissed Obi-Wan as Satine leapt from their hiding spot and rushed over the long boxes. Following close behind her he reached the boxes. “Satine what---Oh my goodness,” he said softly raising his lightsaber see the occupant of the box. “It’s Dr. Brobuu,” he whispered, shocked.

“You know Dr. Brobuu?” said Satine looking fearfully at him, color draining from her face.

“Yes,” said Obi-Wan. “She was supposed to perform the surgery on Anakin’s arm today. She was replaced by Dr. Bala because she was out sick.”

“Dr. Bala?” said Satine. “I’ve never met him.” She moved to the next box. “Oh no,” she said. “It’s Likah. One of my serving girls. She was out sick today too. All of these people,” she said making her way down the line, “They work in the palace.”

“Oi! What are you doing here?”

Satine and Obi-Wan turned to see the burly man watching them. “Oh kriff,” said the man. “Jedi!”

He turned and sprinted down the warehouse and Obi-Wan immediately took off after him. “Satine!” he called.

“On it!”

Obi-Wan pursued the man, who nearly made it to the door before a stack of crates toppled in front of him, throwing the man to the ground. Obi-Wan instantly grabbed him and shoved him against the wall, holding the burly man securely.

“Who are you?” said Satine stomping over. “Why are those people dead?”

“Oh gods it’s the Duchess—”

“Yes, it is,” said Satine staring him squarely in the eye. “And if you know what’s good for you,” she said, voice deadly quiet, “You will answer my questions.”

“Please,” said the man, “I—it’s not my fault. Vizsla put me up to it.”

“Put you up to what?” growled Satine.

“The takeover,” said the man. “Vizsla’s going to take down the palace. Show you don’t have any power.”

“What?” said Satine. “When? How?”

“Tonight,” babbled the man. “He replaced cooks, serving girls to get agents into the palace. When he heard there was a Jedi in the medical ward, he replaced a doctor too.”

“What do you mean?” said Obi-Wan severely, fighting to keep his panic down.

“I dunno—I think it was to put an explosive on him. H—His arm I think. If he can prove the Duchess can’t even protect her palace, protect the people in her care, how’s she gonna protect the planet?”

Obi-Wan looked at Satine and saw his own fear mirrored in her eyes. “My servants,” she whispered to him. “Korkie. Padme…”

 “I know,” said Obi-Wan. “We have to get back to the palace.” He pressed his palm to the man’s head, sending him to an instant sleep. He let him fall to the ground before turning to Satine, gently drawing her into an embrace.

“We’re going to make it back in time. We’re going to save them.”