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Fate Turned Choice

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“If you’re going to sit there,” Obi-Wan started, keeping his eyes closed, “you might as well try and meditate.”

Beside him Anakin huffed, poking at Obi-Wan through the Force in the most deliberate, annoying way he knew how. “You know I don’t like to meditate.”

Obi-Wan didn’t open his eyes. His padawan was nearly 20 now, and if he wanted to get Obi-Wan’s attention he could ask for it instead of deliberately trying to mess with Obi-Wan’s meditation. “So you’ve said.” Nearly every day since Anakin was 10.

For a second, Obi-Wan thought that Anakin might actually try and meditate anyways, he could feel Anakin sinking into the Force. But it lasted no more than a handful of seconds before Anakin was huffing again. Shifting back and forth, nudging at Obi-Wan both physically and through the Force.

Obi-Wan took in a deep breath before cracking one eye open to look at his padawan.

Anakin winced, but smiled a little sheepishly, eyes pleading. Obi-Wan considered him for a long moment. “How about you go make us both some tea.”

Anakin sighed in relief, jumping to his feet and hurrying to the kitchen.

Obi-Wan held in his own sigh, it was always a sign that things were bad when Anakin was eager to help with things like tea. But that was for later, for now he shifted back into a shallow meditative state. The Force was far from calm; Obi-Wan could feel himself drifting along turbulent waves and eddies, but he let the Force carry him where it would.

His thoughts drifted from Anakin, to Fett, to the brewing war, to Anakin, to the clones, to the Jedi, to Anakin, to Quinlan, to Fett, to the Senate, to his new role on the Council, to Satine—he paused, surprised. Most of the things the Force had brought forward for him to consider were unsurprising. Anakin, of course, was always forefront of his mind. The war and everything that went with it, Fett, the clones, the Senate, were equally unsurprising.

But Satine.

It had been a long time since his thoughts had had cause to shift towards her, at least in circumstances such as this.

Perhaps it was merely the fact that his conversation with Padme nearly a week ago had brought Satine to the forefront of Obi-Wan’s mind. But that didn’t feel right. There was something more, something he—

The scent of the red moorian tea he preferred caught his attention and he carefully shelved his thoughts about Satine to the side for later as he pushed himself to his feet.

Anakin was waiting on the edge of the kitchen, two cups of tea in hand.

Obi-Wan took his cup and moved to the table, taking a seat. He looked up at Anakin, raising an eyebrow, and his padawan took a seat across from him.

This talk was long overdue, but the first few days of their return had seen Anakin in the halls of healing to get his arm looked at and a new mechanical hand in place. During that time they’d fallen back into an uneasy version of their normal, but…

“I suppose it’s time we talk,” Obi-Wan started. Anakin nodded, and Obi-Wan could clearly see he was nervous. “Would you like to start?” Obi-Wan suggested. He hoped, though perhaps foolishly, that Anakin would take the opportunity to be honest with him.

Anakin bit his lip, looking up at him through lowered eyes. “What did you tell the Council?” He asked. “About what happened on the gunship.”

Obi-Wan tried not to feel disappointed, but it was hard to feel like Anakin cared about anything other than his possible punishment. “There wasn’t much need to tell them anything.” He said finally. “The gunships all come with recordings, and there were several others who’d already reported our actions.”

“Oh.” Anakin scowled down at his tea.

“Yes.” Obi-Wan said quietly, as he took his own sip of tea. Anakin hadn’t left it to steep quite as long as Obi-Wan liked, too impatient to get to this conversation that he now seemed to be unsure he actually wanted to have.

Obi-Wan considered, briefly, all of the different ways he could lead this conversation. Lectures never seemed to do anything. And Anakin… Anakin was still sure he’d made the choice he should have and when he was that sure of something he refused to listen, so sure that no one understood or could possibly know better. If Obi-Wan was going to get through to him he’d have to shock him. “Did I ever tell you about my mission to Mandalore?” He asked.

Anakin looked up, confused, clearly not expecting this to be the direction the conversation went in. “What?”

“My mission to Mandalore, when I was only a little younger than you are now. Did I ever tell you about it?”

Anakin shook his head.

Obi-Wan nodded, taking another sip of tea. “It was supposed to be a short mission, a month at most. We were supposed to be presiding over elections, but Mandalore doesn’t really do elections, that’s not how their leaders are chosen, and as you can imagine, many Mandalorians took poorly to the attempt to change their ways. Qui-Gon and I ended up on the run with the Duchess for a year.” Anakin only looked confused, clearly trying to determine what this had to do with their current situation. “The Duchess was a few years older than me.” Obi-Wan continued. “And was the most frustratingly obstinate person I had ever met—and I knew both Qui-Gon and Quinlan quite well—it was perhaps no surprise that I fell hopelessly in love with her.”

Anakin’s head whipped up to look up at him fast enough that his padawan was likely going to give himself whiplash; the tea cup shattered in the grip of Anakin’s new mechanical hand. Obi-Wan made a note that he and Anakin would need to work through all of the basic katas again to help him get used to the new addition. “You— love— are you— wait—” Anakin continued spluttering.

Giving Anakin time to stop sputtering and actually gather his thoughts, Obi-Wan stood, moving for the broom and a wash cloth as he moved to start cleaning up the mess Anakin had just made, sweeping up the shattered porcelain before washing away the tea. And really, that was just a waste of good red moorian tea.

“Is this a joke?” Anakin finally decided on, as Obi-Wan dumped the broken shards of the cup into the trash.

Obi-Wan raised a single eyebrow. “Is it really so impossible to think that your old Master is capable of human emotions?”

“Yes!”

Obi-Wan sighed, ignoring the stab of pain at Anakin’s answer, as he sat down again, interlacing his fingers as he settled his hands on the table.

“I loved her.” Obi-Wan repeated. “And by some miracle she loved me, as well.” He breathed deeply. “If she had asked, I would have left the Order to be with her.”

Anakin’s face seemed to shift between a dozen different emotions, shock and confusion being the primary ones. “But she didn’t.”

“She didn’t.” Obi-Wan agreed. “There are many reasons for that, some good, some less so, and many simply what they are. Relationships are complicated at the best of times, and once you start adding in things like my vows to the Jedi and her duty to her people they only become more so.”

Anakin was nodding, but he still looked confused. “Why didn’t you just…”

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow, waiting patiently for Anakin to finish the question.

Anakin let out a breath. “Why didn’t you just have both? You could have done it.”

Obi-Wan was unsurprised by the question, what Padme had told him had made it clear that that was exactly what Anakin would have tried to do.

“Could I have?” Obi-Wan looked down at his own cup of tea. “Or would I have ruined both love and duty?” He gave Anakin a considering look. “I love Satine, even now. That has not changed, nor do I suspect will it. We are still good friends, but to pursue a relationship, given our stations in life, would not have been possible without one of us sacrificing that same station.” Obi-Wan sighed. “But I’m not going to get into the different decisions we might have made.”

Anakin shrugged, and he was looking uncomfortable now. “Why’d you bring it up in the first place?”

Obi-Wan hid a quiet scoff behind taking another sip of tea. “Come now, Anakin. Neither of us is so tired that we don’t know the answer to that.”

Anakin glanced up at him, gaze darting up at him and then back down to look at his mechanical hand. “I don’t know.”

Obi-Wan felt the disappointment weight heavier. “She talked to me, Anakin.”

Anakin pursed his lips, a stir of anger in the air. “Fine. So this is about Padme.”

“You and Padme.” Obi-Wan corrected. “There is nothing wrong with loving her, Anakin. There is nothing wrong, inherently, with having a relationship with her. You know—” or should know at the least, Obi-Wan thought, a little tiredly, “—that there are many within the order who have relationships.” The shocked look Anakin gave him reminded Obi-Wan that Anakin sometimes seemed completely oblivious to anything that didn’t fit into his view of life, it was somewhat ironic that, having wanted to pursue a relationship with someone, he was so intent on ignoring others’ own relationships. “But they are all built off of the understanding the duty come first…”

Something flickered across Anakin’s face. “That’s not really love.”

“Isn’t it?” Obi-Wan asked quietly.

“No.” Anakin paused, looking unsure. “Love’s supposed to…”

“Conquer all?” Obi-Wan suggested, and he kept his voice gentle. “Be unstoppable, be consuming, be everything.”

Anakin nodded. “Yeah.”

“If that’s what you want,” Obi-Wan continued, “then you are free to pursue a relationship where you can put your love before all, but you can’t be a Jedi if you do.” Anakin looked offended, and Obi-Wan continued before Anakin could argue. “Because when you make the vows to be a Jedi, you swear an oath, to yourself, to the Force, and to the people we’re meant to protect, that you will put nothing before doing your duty. That your own personal self is less important than protecting others.”

“But I want…” Anakin trailed off. “I want to be a Jedi.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “I know, yet you want a relationship you can devote everything to, as well.” He gave Anakin a sad smile. “So you must do what Satine and I did. You have to choose one.”

“That’s not fair.”

Obi-Wan sighed, but some part of him wanted to laugh. “Nothing in life is, Anakin.”

Anakin made a face. “Whatever.”

Again, Obi-Wan wanted to sigh in exasperation, but he held it back. Anakin would think about what Obi-Wan had said, or he wouldn’t, but that was Anakin’s choice. It was time to move on.“But, since you’ve shown some concern over what the repercussions of your choices on Geonosis will be, let me address that.” He paused, watching Anakin for a long moment. “You’re not being punished for your choices on Geonosis, but nor will you be rewarded for them.”

Anakin’s eyes widened, looking relieved but confused. “What do you mean?”

Obi-Wan pursed his lips. He had deliberated for quite some time over whether he should tell Anakin that the Council had—until they’d gone over Anakin’s choices on Geonosis—considered Knighting him. “You won’t be Knighted.” He said finally. “There had been discussion, before Geonosis happened, that you were ready.”

“I am ready!” Anakin protested.

Obi-Wan looked down at the table. “Anakin, you put your own feelings over that of our mission. You’ve told me time and again that your senses are stronger and more attuned than mine, yet even I could see that, while startled, Padme wasn’t hurt, nor was she in danger. It was your own feelings that pushed you to jump from the gunship.”

Anakin flinched. “If I’d realized you were hurt…”

“It shouldn’t have been about me.” Obi-Wan said. “It should have been about stopping the war.” He looked down. “But yes, I can acknowledge that my own feelings were hurt by your decision to abandon me, even after I told you that I couldn’t take Dooku on my own. That you chose to consign me to die. But those are my own feelings and I’m working through them.”

Anakin looked like Obi-Wan had hit him. “Never. I’d never… Not you Master, I can’t… I won’t…”

Obi-Wan sighed, because that was yet another conversation that needed to happen. “We all die, some time, Anakin. You won’t be able to stop it.”

“No. You’re not…”

“We’re at war, now, Anakin.” Obi-Wan said quietly. “My chances of dying, just like all of us involved in this war, have just gone up. It’s something we’ll all have to come to terms with.”

“I won’t let you die,” Anakin snapped.

Obi-Wan gave Anakin a firm look, and Anakin looked down, a little abashed. “I’ll certainly be doing my best not to die, but Anakin—”

“I know, I know.”

Obi-Wan wasn’t sure he did, but he could see the stubborn clench of Anakin’s jaw that meant he’d stopped really listening. “I wanted you to know that I understand, Anakin. The choice you have now is an important one, and I will love and support you whether you choose to stay a Jedi or leave to try and have the sort of relationship you want to find. But I also want you to know what you face if you stay. You’ll stay my padawan, for now, until the time comes when you are ready to be Knighted.”

Anakin nodded, but he looked tired. “Can we be done with this conversation now?”

Obi-Wan considered that, there was more that needed to be said, but Anakin wouldn’t really listen to any of it if Obi-Wan continued. “We can be done, but Anakin, you need to meditate.”

Anakin made a face. “Ugh.” Obi-Wan gave him a stern look and Anakin threw his hands up. “Fine, fine, I’ll go meditate.”

Obi-Wan sighed, and watched as Anakin left, a stir of anger trailing behind him. In some ways that had gone better than he’d thought… in others… well, hopefully something Obi-Wan had said had made it through to Anakin.

-_-

The Senate’s war subcommittee was terribly understaffed, Jango noted. As though, for all that the Republic had been blustering about war, none of them had truly expected it to happen.

Stupid, Jango thought, to threaten something they were not prepared to follow through on.

They were waiting for the Chancellor, a development that had genuinely taken Jango by surprise. He had not expected that the Chancellor would get personally involved in something as simple as contracts. Of course, the Chancellor was late, leaving Jango to stand before the subcommittee, trying to be on his best behavior. He was wearing his armor, though his helmet remained beneath his arm—he’d apparently been making some of the Senators feel uncomfortable, and Jango was trying to create a contract. That unfortunately also meant he had chosen to bring no weapons.

Not that Jango would need weapons if he decided he wanted to get rid of this subcommittee, even with the different guards that were settled at the entrances of the room, there wasn’t exactly anyone that would be a true threat to Jango.

Especially since Ruusaan and Cort were standing just behind him, acting as escorts. The three of them could probably rip this place to pieces with their bare hands.

The door opened and a pair of guards stepped through, examining the room before the Chancellor was gestured in.

Behind him came two of the Jetii. Since his last meeting with the Jedi, Jango had set some of his people to gathering together dossiers of each of the Jetii, particularly those on the council, to see what they were dealing with. He eyed the two that had entered, Windu and Yoda.

The heads of the Order. Windu held the current title, from what Jango had read, but it was Yoda who had been guiding the Order for literal centuries. It was difficult to get true reports of the inner-goings of the Temple, but there was still enough for Jango to start making plans.

Centuries at the head of the Order meant that Yoda would have instilled a deep trust in the rest of the Jedi… that was a strength and a weakness both, and one that Jango thought he would be able to use to his own benefit. Trust that deep… well, it would hurt when that trust shattered.

The Chancellor went around the room, greeting everyone and Jango kept half an eye on him as he continued to watch the Jedi. Windu was looking at him, and while the Jedi wouldn’t be so unprofessional as to actually glare at Jango, Jango could still see the flint in Windu’s eyes as he looked at Jango.

Jango smiled at him, a slow, lazy smile with just a hint of sharpness.

Finally, the Chancellor finished his rounds around the room—avoiding Jango at the front, a small slight, but one that Jango was unsurprised by—and Jango watched as he and the others all took their seats.

One of the Senators stepped forward, a tall, serious man, who had been watching Jango with keen eyes, Bail Organa if Jango’s intel was right. “This meeting over the hiring of advisors for the war effort, in accordance to the advice given to us by the Jedi Council in their roles of High Generals, is called into session. Master Mace Windu, head of the Jedi Order, and Jango Fett—” the man glanced down at the data file he’d been given, “—given the title Mand’alor by the group known as the True Mandalorians are here to present their case.”

There was a slight stir at that. Jango couldn’t quite blame them. He knew what game he was playing and it still felt odd to have anyone state that he was working with a Jedi. Anyone who knew anything about the history between the True Mandalorians and the Jedi should be shocked.

“We already have the Jedi!” Someone spoke immediately, as soon as Organa had sat down. “Why should we need anything else?”

Someone else spoke up, near in unison. “Are the Jedi admitting that they are not up to the task?”

Jetii Windu stirred just slightly. “The Jedi have taken up the roles of General due entirely to the nearly unanimous demands of the Senate. Should the Senate feel that we are not equipped, then we shall, of course, stand down.” Jango noted that the Jetii’s eyes were sharp as he took in the subcommittee. “But likewise, should you give us this role, then you should allow us to take it up as we see fit.”

Jango heard someone scoff. “And give you free reign? I think not.” The words were clearly not meant to be part of the conversation, but it was clear they’d been heard.

“If you do not trust us to perform the task you’ve given us—” Jetii Windu continued, voice mild.

“Master Windu,” the Chancellor’s voice was soft. “Senator Misbrak misspoke. The Republic is in grave peril with this Separatist threat, and we trust the Jedi to help see us through.”

The tension in the room increased slightly and Jango let his eyes flicker across the different Senators. Senator Misbrak had tensed at being called out, but nodded grudgingly.

“Yes.” The first Senator agreed, returning to their first protest. “We trust the Jedi to manage this war. So why should we pay a group of mercenaries to do what we already have the Jedi to do.”

Eyes flickered between Jango and the Jetii and Jango stepped forward. “While the Jedi are capable, there are still a limited number of them, and many of those are young and new to war. They would be one of your more valuable assets,” the words felt bitter on his tongue, “and it would be prudent to give them as much aid and protection as possible. The soldiers are capable and have been well trained, but there is an adjustment period to such things.”

“And you’re prepared?”

Jango let his smile grow a little sharp. “I’m Mandalorian. Some might say that’s answer enough.”

The air seemed to tense at that as people remembered what that meant. The current Duchess might promote pacifism, but people remembered what it meant to face a Mandalorian.

Jango continued. “When I was hired to work with the soldiers, I was told to prepare the men to defend the Republic—”

“Speaking of,” someone interrupted, “you did not find it suspicious the lack of involvement with the Republic? What right do you have to even stand before us?”

“Should I have expected to see the Republic warmongering?” Jango deflected. “The Kaminoans had records that satisfied me and my experts to the veracity of their claim that we’d been hired by the Republic.” And Jango still wanted to know how Dooku had managed that. “We presumed the silence from the Republic was because to have declared the presence of an army would have called for war.”

The Senator glared at him, and Jango was sure he’d have plenty of questions aimed at his role as progenitor to an army brought into question plenty for the next while.

Jango smiled back at the bristling Senator. He wasn’t a politician, but he wasn’t Mand’alor simply because he could shoot a blaster. He was more than prepared to get these Senators to see things his way.

His glance took in the Senators and Jetii in the room again, and he prepared himself for a long, drawn out discussion.

For a second his gaze met that of the Chancellor’s.

The short glance seemed to extend beyond the moment, and then the Chancellor gave him a small nod. An ally, Jango realized. At least for now.

How interesting.

-_-

His thoughts were on Satine again, Obi-Wan noted as he began scrolling through the holo-news to see how the news of the war was being taken throughout the galaxy. It was understandable, of course, that his mind would go to her, the conversation earlier with Anakin about Satine had been… well, it had been necessary, but it had dredged up many memories.

But still, the thought that there was more to the way his thoughts turned constantly to her plagued him. That there was something essential that he was overlooking.

He wondered what Satine would think about the direction the galaxy was headed in. Mandalore, for all that it had it’s ties to the Republic, was not actually a member of the Republic.

With any luck they would be able to be spared most of the death and destruction that the Republic was currently on a collision course with. He knew, without a doubt, that if Satine had any say in the situation that Mandalore wouldn’t get involved at all.

He could recall, with a fond exasperation, the many, many lectures Satine had given him during their year on the run, about the inherent fallacy of peacekeepers who chose to fight. Obi-Wan had always quietly pointed out that, without him and Qui-Gon there to fight for and defend her, that her dreams of peace were impossible. It was a point that Satine couldn’t dismiss, but neither was it an argument she was willing to concede.

He hoped, for her sake, that she was able to keep Mandalore out of what was to come.

A small article proclaiming that the Senate was in talks to bring in advisors for the Jedi caught his attention. The article didn’t name the advisors, but they had to be talking about Fett and his—

Oh.

The True Mandalorians. Led by the one they called Mand’alor.

Did Satine know? Did she know that Fett was alive? That he was in discussions about allying with the Republic?

Obi-Wan had thought the man was dead, had been given that impression by both those of Death Watch he’d run into (and run from), and from Satine and her party.

Had anyone from Mandalore known about Fett’s continued existence? Or had they truly convinced themselves of his death?

He was aware that Satine would… prefer to consider that Fett wasn’t Mandalorian at all. And during the time that the True Mandalorians had disappeared from public view, that had been an easy enough idea to propagate.

Especially when the Senate and the Republic had been in support of New Mandalore and it’s goals.

But that had been a Republic at peace, and a peaceful Mandalore had been something they would want. Would they continue to want a peaceful Mandalore, though, when the Republic was at war?

Obi-Wan dropped the datapad on the desk, running his hand through his hair as he considered everything he knew—and he didn’t know enough, not yet—as he tried to determine the fallout.

It didn’t take long to come to one dismal prediction.

Satine was in danger, the peace she’d worked so hard to build was in danger.

Jango Fett was far more dangerous to Satine than even Death Watch was. Not necessarily because he thought Fett would kill her—and Obi-Wan felt his heart ache at the thought of her dying—but he could overthrow her. Because Fett’s presence would speak to the deeply traditional elements still within the Mandalorian culture, and his willingness to join the fight—where Satine would not—would buy him the support of the Republic and that of more traditional Mandalore.

It had been the Republic’s support that had helped Satine win Mandalore in the wake of the many civil wars. Not that Obi-Wan would deride the charisma and passion of Satine, nor Mandalore’s willingness to hear a new message of peace, because those had undoubtedly played a part as well.

But would Mandalore stick to that determination of pacifism? Or would the call to fight, one that Mandalorians had answered for centuries, win out?

If Mandalore fell to Civil War again, who would win this time?

He stood, striding quickly to his room. He searched through the top drawer of his desk for the little-used comm her knew was there. There was only one comm id plugged in, and he sent out a plea to the Force that Satine had kept her own comm, a matching set of unused comms.

He waited impatiently for the comm call to go through. After a long moment where Obi-Wan thought that perhaps Satine had gotten rid of the comm, the message went through, and Satine appeared before him. Her long blonde hair was a messy tumble around her shoulders and he could see that she was wearing her night shift.

He felt a moment of embarrassment; he hadn’t thought to check at what point in the day’s rotation Mandalore would be right now, but clearly he’d woken Satine up.

“Ob’ika”

“Satine.” His voice choked a little at the name slipping from his lips.

“Is something wrong?” She asked, and her eyes were wide and so very concerned. Obi-Wan couldn’t help the swell of love he felt for her. It’d been years since they’d last truly talked, but here it was, the middle of her night cycle, and Satine answered an unused comm, her only thoughts concern for him.

“You’ve heard about the war?”

Satine’s brow furrowed. “Yes. But you know Mandalore will not get involved.” The look she gave him was sharp. “Or at least you should know that.”

“I do.” He admittedly wasn’t sure what he thought of it, but he didn’t know what he thought of so much of this war, other than the fact that it filled him with deep dread. The Republic, no the entire galaxy would not be the same. But he did not yet know whether that would be for better or worse. “I did not know, however, if you were aware of who the Republic has found to advise the Jedi in leading the war.”

“The Jedi shouldn’t be—”

“It is the Senate’s decision, Sat’ika.” Obi-Wan interrupted. “The Jedi are under the purview of the Senate for reasons you well know.” She had agreed with those reasons, had said she thought it prudent that the Jedi be kept in check. But then at the time, that had suited Satine’s purposes well. “I did not call in order for you to regale me with the many missteps you are sure I am making.”

Satine sighed. “I know.” Her shoulders slumped a little. “But surely you know this is wrong.”

He did. And yet at the same time he didn’t. He did not want to go to war. He did not want to lead in war. But these men, property of the Republic—and the thought made him sick—needed protection, and Obi-Wan could not, would not, abandon them. Nor could he abandon the Republic.

There were no good options. Obi-Wan could only do what he could.

“Jango Fett is alive, Satine.” He said.

Satine froze, and even in the blue tint of the holo he could see her eyes flickering through the same thoughts that Obi-Wan had just gone through.

“He is no Mandalorian.”

“You say that.” Obi-Wan said, and Satine could clearly hear what he wasn’t saying as well. That just because Satine said something, didn’t make it so.

For just a moment, Obi-Wan could see Satine’s doubts. “How certain are you, that it is really Fett?”

“As certain as I can be.” Obi-Wan had never met Fett before now, so he couldn’t verify it beyond a doubt. But still, the knowledge felt right in his gut. “And as for how I know he’s alive, Fett is currently in discussion with the Republic to work as advisors to the Jedi. He, and many of his people.” Through the comm Obi-Wan met Satine’s eyes, he was grateful that this information was not sensitive or secure information, it was not being widely broadcast at the moment, no, but Obi-Wan was not breaking his own oaths to speak of it. “There are still those who follow him, and they call themselves Mandalorian.”

“Scoundrels. Hunters. No one reputable.” Satine argued. “Mandalore won’t follow him.”

Obi-Wan bowed his head. “I wouldn’t know, Satine. But I thought you should be aware, that you should begin to prepare.”

Just in case.

Perhaps Obi-Wan was wrong, and Fett had no interest in Mandalore.

Obi-Wan just didn’t think he was.

“Thank you, dear heart.” Satine whispered. “For the warning.”

Obi-Wan smiled at her. “Always.”

They stood there, both silent, as they took in the image of the other.

She was still the most beautiful woman he had ever known. Not just physically, but her very soul was beautiful.

“I must go.” Obi-Wan said quietly.

Satine smiled at him, and there was something sad in her eyes. “Always in a hurry, Ob’ika.”

“I’m sorry I woke you.”

“The sight of you is well worth a little missed sleep.” Satine said, voice quiet but sincere.

They did not say they loved each other. Those were words that wouldn’t pass either of their lips, not now, not with the choices they’d both made. But as Obi-Wan ended the comm he thought that some words didn’t need to be spoken at all.

-_-

“Boba.” Jango knocked impatiently on the door to his son’s small room. “Did you want to come or not?”

The door slid open to reveal a bleary-eyed Boba. His son blinked up at him slowly. “What?”

Jango couldn’t quite help the way his lips tugged up into a smile at the sight of his kid, as Boba rubbed at his eyes. “You said yesterday that you wanted to come to the first part of lunch.”

“Lunch?”

“Did you just wake up?” Jango glanced at his chrono, it was nearly noon and his son, while not an early riser, did not normally sleep the day away.

Boba yawned. “I was up late. Researching.”

“Researching.” Jango repeated. “What were you researching?”

Boba nodded, and he was starting to look more awake. “Bandomeer and it’s relation to the Jedi Order.” Boba made a face at the last few words. “It’s primarily a mining planet. But did you know the Jedi have a subdivision of the Jedi Order called the Agricorps there? It’s actually one of their newer outposts, only been there 50 years.” Boba yawned again.

“I didn’t know that.” Bandomeer, that had been the planet that Obi-Wan had said was his favorite, wasn’t it? “Figured out why Obi-Wan likes it?”

Boba furrowed his brow. “I’ve got suspicions. I’m trying to hack into the agricorps database, but it’s got the same security system as the rest of the Order’s things, as far as I can tell.”

Jango raised an eyebrow, a little impressed. His kid really was a talented one. He’d be far better than Jango ever could be. “Any progress?”

Boba shook his head, looking a little disappointed. “I might get Ruz to help me, he’s good at this sort of thing.”

Ruz was, he also had a weak spot for Boba. Ruz and his wife had spoken of adopting several times throughout the years, but for reasons Jango didn’t know, had never gone through with it. But Ruz’s weak spot for kids was well known, and Boba was shameless about taking advantage of it.

“Well, keep me updated.” He gave Boba another look. “Are you going to come with to lunch, or going to stay here?”

“What are we doing for lunch.” Boba asked as he yawned again.

Jango rolled his eyes. “We’re meeting Obi-Wan at Dex’s.”

Boba’s eyes lit up, already moving back into his room. “That’s today!? I forgot. Let me get ready.”

“You’re not staying for the whole thing!” Jango called after him. “Ruusaan has invited herself along and you’re going to stick to her.”

“But Dad!

“No, Boba. I want to spend some time with my soul mate, alone.”

A moment later Boba was back, pulling a cleaner tunic over his head. “But he’s going to be part of the family. He’ll be aliit! Shouldn’t I get to know him too?”

Jango rolled his eyes. “You will. Just not today.”

-_-

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Obi-Wan?”

Obi-Wan jerked back, Mace’s blade missing his arm by a hair’s breadth. They were nearing the end of their spar, and he was starting to tire. “Of course I’m not.” He deflected the next three slashes from Mace’s blade before spinning back and getting a little bit of space. “But I’m still doing it.”

Mace huffed, and Obi-Wan watched his friend eye Obi-Wan’s stance critically, looking for weaknesses. “But lunch with Fett, how did you let that happen?”

Obi-Wan opened his mouth, knowing that Mace would use the second he seemed distracted as the opportunity to strike. Sure enough, Mace jumped forward and Obi-Wan ducked, sliding his own blade low under Mace’s guard and forcing him to twist out of the way.

“He asked.” He swung his lightsaber back, beckoning for Mace to come at him with a teasing gesture.

Mace rolled his eyes, but attacked. “And you agreed.”

“He seemed rather insistent.” Obi-Wan acknowledged, as he let Mace push him back steadily, on the defense but never out of control. “But we’ve had this conversation. He wants to be assigned to work with me, you and I think that’s a bad idea, the majority don’t see a problem with it.” He twisted, bringing his saber up. Mace hissed a little, barely catching Obi-Wan’s saber in time. “And you won’t distract me with this.”

Mace snorted. “I would never.” The smile he sent Obi-Wan was sharp and dangerous and Obi-Wan knew that whatever came next would absolutely be a distraction. “I just think that Fett wants to get you in his bed and I don’t think you should make it easy on him.”

Despite his determination to not let Mace distract him, Obi-Wan found his mouth dropping open in shock. Mace threw himself into a fierce blur of offensive slashes, driving Obi-Wan back.

Obi-Wan pushed all thoughts of Fett and Mace’s insinuations about what Fett wanted out of his mind, busy trying to keep Mace from winning this spar.

“You’re the worst.” Obi-Wan told his friend as their sabers locked. He pushed with the Force at the same time Mace did and they both skidded a little on the training floor. He didn’t let Mace get a chance to catch himself, throwing himself forward in his first real offensive strike of the spar. Mace kept him at bay easily enough, his purple saber a blur of color as they exchanged blows.

The chime of the timer rang and Obi-Wan pulled back. He was breathing a little heavily, but Mace was breathing just as hard and he could see the sweat beading on his friend’s face.

“Good spar.” Mace said, and he was smiling. Obi-Wan couldn’t help but smile back. It had been a good spar.

Together they moved to the bench where they’d left their water. Obi-Wan dabbed at the sweat on his own face with the edge of his discarded robe, he was that perfect mix of tired yet energized that followed a good spar.

“I was serious, though.” Mace said suddenly, though he wasn’t looking at Obi-Wan. “Fett wants you, Obi-Wan.”

Obi-Wan looked away. “That’s not possible, Mace.”

“You’re an attractive—”

“No.” Obi-Wan shook his head. “There are Mandalorian traditions that Fett wouldn’t break, especially not for a Jedi that he’s only just met. Is he trying to make it seem like he wants me.” He shrugged. “Possible, though not the type of mind game I’d have imagined him engaging in.”

“What sort of traditions?” Mace asked, a tone in his voice that Obi-Wan had a hard time deciphering.

Obi-Wan eyed his friend, wondering what it was Mace was thinking. “I don’t know them in their entirety.” He said finally, a truth that didn’t answer Mace’s question at all. “Satine felt they were old fashioned.” He knew enough though. Both the True Mandalorians and Death Watch still held to the adage that their leader, their ‘Alor, would carry a soul mark. Satine thought it was a disingenuous way to choose a leader. But then, she didn’t have a soul mark, so for her, the leaving behind of that tradition was something of a necessity. Fett, however, would have a soul mark. And Mandalorians were fiercely devoted to their soul mates, certainly enough that Fett would never risk disparaging that future partner for a bit of sex with an enemy.

It was almost a solace, Obi-Wan thought. Even if he still found himself… questioning and confused about everything to do with the Mand’alor who looked at Obi-Wan the way he did.

Mace sighed. “Just be careful, Obi-Wan. I don’t trust him with you.”

Obi-Wan felt a small swell of pleasure at Mace’s concern for him. “I will be.” Then he narrowed his eyes. “But I can take care of myself. It’ll just be a lunch, like any other political lunch I’ve done before.”

Mace snorted at that, but didn’t contradict him. “Yoda wants to let it happen, you know.” Mace said quietly, and there was an unmistakable tone of displeasure. “He wants to assign you to work with Fett, now that the Senate has agreed to provide them contracts.”

Obi-Wan frowned. “You disagree.”

It wasn’t that Mace never disagreed with Yoda. He just rarely made it so clear. And Obi-Wan had the sense that there was something Obi-Wan was missing.

Mace sighed. “I do.”

“Why?”

Mace just shook his head, lips pursed. “Just be careful, Obi-Wan. Please.”

-_-

This, Jango thought, was starting to feel like a bad idea.

“He’s late. That’s just bad manners.” Skirata was grousing.

Jango had chosen a smaller booth in the corner, where he had a clear view of both exits and could watch the streets easily enough without being too easily seen. He glanced at Skirata who was scowling at the entrance. “Your chrono is five minutes early.” Jango pointed out.

“Exactly. Early is on time, on time is late, and late is—”

“Oh shush.” Ruusaan interrupted, rolling her eyes. She gave Jango a long-suffering look. “Why did you invite Skirata again?”

“I extended him the same invitation I extended you.” Jango answered, voice neutral. Ruusaan frowned for a moment, before clearly remembering that Jango hadn’t invited her. Ruusaan had just never had a problem inviting herself along when she felt it necessary.

Jango had allowed the two of them—plus Ruz and Cort—to get away with it because it had felt like the easier option at the time. He’d rather they were here at the beginning so they could meet Obi-Wan and then he could make them leave rather than having to deal with them showing up in the middle of his lunch with Obi-Wan.

He refused to feel anxious about it. Obi-Wan would show up, the group would meet him, then Jango would kick them out and he would enjoy a lunch with Obi-Wan where there was nothing to distract the two of them from starting to get to know each other on a personal level.

Still, as Skirata glanced again at his chrono, Jango wondered if he could get away with shooting the man.

As if responding to his thoughts the door opened with the sound of a bell and he looked up to see Obi-Wan enter.

He couldn’t quite help the way his breath caught in his chest as he watched Obi-Wan step in, keeping the door open behind him so two twi’leks could exit. It had been too long since Jango had seen him, and it hadn’t even been a week. Obi-Wan’s hair was a little wet, as though he’d recently showered, though he was distinctly less disheveled then the first time Jango had met him, when he was still trailing water from the rain.

“Dex,” Bo’s voice was familiar in it’s grating, tin-like tone, cutting through Jango’s thoughts. “There’s someone here to see you. It’s a Jedi by the look of him.”

Jango stiffened a little, he’d already spoken with Dex, telling him that Jango was meeting with a Jedi, and to please restrain himself from some of his more abrupt manners, but there was no telling whether Dex would go along with it.

Dex’s scowling face appeared in the kitchen window. And then he caught sight of Obi-Wan.

Jango watched in surprise as the scowl disappeared to be replaced by what appeared to be a genuine smile. “Well if it isn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi!” Jango felt his eyebrows raise in surprise at the greeting. A moment later Dex appeared in the kitchen door. “Twice in one month, I’m feeling special.”

“Hello Dex.” Obi-Wan’s voice was far quieter than Dex’s booming tones, but he seemed just as genuinely happy to see Dex as Dex seemed to see him, and did nothing to evade the four-armed hug that Dex greeted him with, Obi-Wan’s feet actually leaving the ground in the besalisk’s exuberance. Jango’s fingers curled into a fist, nails digging into his skin. That was far more comfortable a greeting then Jango had expected. “It’s good to see you.”

“Take a seat, take a seat, I’ll have Bo bring out a special.” Dex said cheerily, gesturing Obi-Wan toward a table furthest from where Jango sat.

Obi-Wan’s smile went a little stiff. “I’m actually here to meet someone. A Jango Fett?”

Dex’s back was to them, so he didn’t see whatever expression Dex was wearing, but Jango could see the way his back stiffened for a moment. “Jango Fett, huh. So you’re the Jedi he asked me not to throw out of my diner.”

Obi-Wan laughed at that, and Jango soaked up the sound. “Yes, that would be me. Thank you for not throwing me out.”

Dex shrugged, the movement impossible to miss as all four hands came up. “You’re fine, I suppose. But you know how it is with Jedi. On that note, though. You mark my words, the next time that Vos character saunters into my diner without your supervision I’ll throw him out on his ear. Friend of yours or no.” Dex swung an arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulders, leading him over to Jango’s table.

“I’ll let him know.” Obi-Wan said, and his lip was tugging up in a barely restrained smile.

“You do that.” Dex agreed. He stopped just beside their table. “You’ll be wanting the special then?”

Obi-Wan nodded. “Yes, thank you.” He was glancing around the table with carefully blank eyes, and Jango had the feeling Obi-Wan didn’t really want to be there, and Jango hated it. Hated that his soul mate didn’t want to spend time with him.

Dex’s eyes turned to the rest of them at the table. “And the rest of you?”

Jango glanced around the table to see that Skirata was giving both Jetii and besalisk a narrowed-eyed look. Though there was no missing the near greedy way he took in the sight of the Be’alor. Ruusaan looked like she was planning an interrogation—her eyes fixed, not on Obi-Wan, but on Dex—and Jango would have felt bad for Dex if it weren’t for the fact that he both wanted to know what Dex knew about Obi-Wan and was still a little annoyed with the way Dex thought he could be so familiar with his soul mate. Cort was glancing around the table, taking in everyone else’s expressions while carefully masking his own, gaze landing twice as often on Obi-Wan as anywhere else, while Ruz simply looked amused.

Boba was staring at Obi-Wan with the sort of serious stare that meant he wanted someone’s attention.

Cort seemed to realize that Jango was in even less of a mood to share his soul mate then he’d been earlier, and stood. “The rest of us don’t need anything, we were just having a quick chat.” He nudged Skirata, forcing Skirata to stand with a dark mutter. “You coming Boba?”

Boba pouted, giving Jango a pleading look, but Jango shook his head, gesturing for him to go with Cort. “Next time, Bob’ika.” He assured him.

Boba acquiesced with a poorly hidden pout, but gave Jango a hug and let himself be pulled from the bench.

Cort gestured for everyone to leave the table, and Ruusaan gave Dex a bright smile as she passed. “I’ll be back for dinner, Dex. Save me something good.”

Dex just shook his head, a mildly entertained look in his eyes. “And you?” Dex asked Jango. “What do you want?”

“The special’s fine with me.” Jango answered, he wasn’t particularly choosy, and his attention was already being diverted to Obi-Wan who was sliding into the empty space across from Jango that the others had just vacated. Dex eyed them both, but then left them to head back to the kitchen.

Boba was being ushered away by Cort, but was digging his heels about it. “Wait.” Cort hesitated and Boba rushed back, eyes fierce on Obi-Wan. “No fighting my dad this time.”

Obi-Wan nodded seriously. “Not unless in self defense.”

Boba rolled his eyes, but Jango approved of the answer, even if there was no reason Obi-Wan would need to defend himself from Jango. “And next time you have to have lunch with me.”

This time Obi-Wan seemed mildly entertained, but he kept his face serious. “Of course, Boba. We’ll schedule lunch for just the two of us.” He gave Jango a look. “With your Father’s permission.”

Jango shrugged. “We’ll discuss it.” He rather liked the idea, his mate and his son bonding, and was proud of Boba for demanding it.

Boba nodded, satisfied, and let an amused Cort usher him out of the diner.

Obi-Wan turned to watch them go, a small smile on his face. Though there was a level of guardedness there that Jango didn’t like. “I imagine he keeps you on your toes.”

Jango snorted. “Like you wouldn’t believe.” He shook his head. “I’m fairly certain both my parents and Jaster are laughing at me from the beyond, they’d call it karmic justice for all the trouble I caused them.”

The corner of Obi-Wan’s lip seemed to be fighting to not slip up into a smile.

Jango glanced towards the kitchen. “You know Dex.”

“Yes.” Obi-Wan said placidly, and then his smile went a little sharp. “How do you think I found you?”

That stopped Jango a little bit, both the question and the reminder that Obi-Wan had found him, and that Jango had found him in return. “Dex huh.” He gave Obi-Wan a once over. “I admit I’m impressed.”

Obi-Wan scoffed. “You used a Kaminoan saber dart, not so impressive.”

“Most people don’t even remember Kamino exists.” Jango pointed out, defending himself. “Dex is probably one of four people who could have made the id of that dart.”

Obi-Wan shrugged in acknowledgment. “Yes, that does sound like Dex.”

“Still, you and Dex seem… friendly.” He tilted his head in question. “I admit I’m surprised. Dex doesn’t much like Jedi. How did that happen?”

Obi-Wan considered him for a long moment, then shrugged. “Oh, you know how it is. I was fourteen and seemed to fall into trouble everywhere I went, and Dex is nothing but trouble. We’ve been unlikely friends since.”

Jango accepted that and decided to leave it for Ruusaan to get out of Dex. “That doesn’t seemed to have changed much.” He gave Obi-Wan a long look. “I’ve only just met you, but you don’t seem to have lost your knack for finding trouble.”

Obi-Wan tilted his head. “Well, I did find you.”

Jango felt his own lip curl at that, and his voice dropped a little. “Oh, I promise I’m trouble.”

A faint hint of pink brushed along Obi-Wan’s cheeks and Jango couldn’t help but think he was going to enjoy this. “Yes, well that much I’ve put together for myself.” Obi-Wan said, his tone a careful neutral.

Bo appeared at their table with their food, and Jango watched as Obi-Wan quickly cut himself a bite, eyes closing for a moment as though savoring the bite.

Jango took his own bite of food. It was excellent, as always, but not enough to take his attention from Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan’s eyes opened on a quiet sigh of enjoyment, and another tinge of pink brushed across his cheek as he noted that Jango was watching him. The pink disappeared to be replaced by an analyzing look, as though Obi-Wan was trying to figure out his motivations.

“The Council has agreed to your request.” Obi-Wan said, and Jango could tell that Obi-Wan was watching for his reaction.

“Oh?” Jango asked, keeping his own voice neutral. “Which request.”

“To pair us together for the war effort.” Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. “Unless, perhaps, you’ve changed your mind.”

“I haven’t.” Jango said, and kept it at that. “But I didn’t bring you here to talk about the war, Obi-Wan.”

“And why did you?” Obi-Wan said, and his voice was tired. “What do you want?”

Jango leaned back in his seat, stretching his legs a little foot brushing against Obi-Wan’s leg in a way that could easily be seen as casual. Obi-Wan shifted away, his face giving away nothing. “Because I want to know you, Obi-Wan.”

“And what do you want to know, Fett. I can’t imagine that a Jedi—”

“Jango.” Jango interrupted. “Call me Jango, Obi-Wan.”

Obi-Wan paused, but then nodded. “I can’t imagine that a Jedi is of much interest to you, Jango.”

Jango felt a thrill of pleasure run down his spine at his name on his soul mate’s lips, even as coolly as it’d been said. “Jedi aren’t, for the most part.” Jango agreed. “But you’re something of an exception.”

Obi-Wan pursed his lips. “Am I.” Obi-Wan seemed unimpressed and skeptical.

“You’re the first Jedi who has ever apologized for what happened on Galidraan.” Jango said, diverting the topic a little to something Obi-Wan might be more inclined to believe. “You’re one of the first people outside of the True Mandalorians who has recognized me as Mand’alor. You immediately realized that my men, the clones, were real people and you jumped into protecting them.”

“Real people?” Obi-Wan said, sounding surprised. “Of course they are.”

Jango considered his options carefully, he’d gotten a little bit out of Obi-Wan at the beginning, but too quickly, that guardedness had come back. That suspicion. Jango… he had to do something. And so he was drastically, brutally honest.

“It took me over two years to realize it.” He said finally, and the terrible admission caught in his throat. He didn’t want Obi-Wan to see this part of him. Didn’t want Obi-Wan to see the worst of him until Jango could also show him the best. Could show Obi-Wan that Jango was worth it. “It shouldn’t have. But I was… I was lost, for a long time. All I wanted was a son, all I wanted was something for my people. And in the process I condemned thousands upon thousands of children to a life of war. I condemned my people.” Obi-Wan’s brow furrowed, but he didn’t interrupt, and Jango was grateful. “I’ve tried, since then, to do everything I can for those men. To make their lives better. To protect them as much as I could from the Kaminoans. But I don’t have the resources to free them.” He met Obi-Wan’s eyes, let him see his desperation, to protect his people, to have Obi-Wan at his side, to finally have his people whole. “At least, not without help.”

-_-

Obi-Wan would never in a hundred years have expected Fett—Jango, he’d told Obi-Wan to call him—to admit what he had. But there was a stark honesty in the Force, a bitter self-recrimination lacing Jango’s spirit.

It was… startling. The honesty, the vulnerability.

The insight freely given.

And that was… odd. Fett had willingly shown Obi-Wan a dark, terrible part of himself.

It made Obi-Wan a little sick, to think that any one could look at those bright souls that Obi-Wan had seen and not see real people.

Fett met his eyes calmly, as though he thought that Obi-Wan deserved to see this… darkness, this cruelty.

It… it frightened Obi-Wan, a little. That this person in front of him was capable of such terrible malice, such cruelty.

But there was also a part of him that felt… he wasn’t quite sure how he felt. Because with that insight into that darkness, Fett had also shown him an equally stark regret. Too few people could see when they’d been wrong, and fewer still would admit it. “That’s one of the reasons, isn’t it.” Obi-Wan said quietly. “That you’re willing to help the Jedi.”

Jango just nodded, no hesitation. “They’re my people. It’s my fault they’re in this position, my… ignorance, foolishness. I won’t abandon them.”

Again, the stark honesty threw Obi-Wan a little. It was… too much. Everything in Obi-Wan demanded that this must be some sort of trick, that there was no other reason for Fett to show this vulnerability, this regret.

He didn’t understand what game Fett was playing. He acted… well, the way he acted he understood why Mace had his concerns. But if that was the act he was playing then he wouldn’t have shared such a terrible truth. That was… that was…

It just… it had to be a trick.

And yet… and yet the honesty seemed to crash into Obi-Wan, begging to be believed. And… and Obi-Wan did. He believed Jango could have been that cruel, that was almost easy to believe. But Obi-Wan also found that he believed the part of Jango that so clearly regretted it, believed that Jango wanted nothing more than to fix the mistake he’d made.

“I would help you with that.” Obi-Wan said finally. “I would help you see these men free.” His lips twisted bitterly. It should be easy. The Republic didn’t support slavery, and yet some part of Obi-Wan…

Obi-Wan had seen some of the worst sentience had to offer, had seen corruption twist good people into monsters.

Too many people would look at those men, see clones, and then see nothing more. Would fail to see the life in them, the humanity, the souls.

“Thank you.” Jango smiled at him, and Obi-Wan felt his stomach twist at the—no. Obi-Wan briefly shook his head, knocking away the foolish thoughts. Jango was grateful, that was all. There had been no possessiveness in the look he’d sent Obi-Wan. There hadn’t been any desire lacing it.

And Obi-Wan absolutely hadn’t felt a reaction to it. He hadn’t.

Jango Fett was Mand’alor, and that came with specific traditions, specific ties. And even with how little Obi-Wan had seen of him, he somehow knew that to Jango Fett, those traditions meant something to him. That to Jango Fett, his soul mate was it for him.

And yet, Fett still looked at him that way.

It was a Mandalorian thing, Obi-Wan decided. And Obi-Wan had gotten out of practice with dealing with Mandalorians. Everything about them was intense, so of course, even their casual glances could take on attributes they hadn’t intended.

Even if he didn’t remember people looking at him that way back on Mandalore when he’d been protecting Satine. He had probably been too young to see it then.

But every Mandalorian he met these days seemed to have just that sort of look in their eyes. Force, half of the group that had been sitting with Jango when Obi-Wan had shown up had looked as though they thought Obi-Wan belonged to them. It was just… just Mandalorian arrogance. Yes. Yes, that was it. And if Jango seemed to have that look with ten times the intensity of anyone else, it was likely because Jango was a naturally intense individual.

It had nothing to do with Obi-Wan. There was nothing there. It was just how Mandalorians were. He was sure if he asked others who’d met the clones or Fett or any of the other Mandalorians that would be joining them, then they’d all say they’d seen the same sort of look.

It had nothing to do with Obi-Wan.

With that determination firmly in place, he let himself relax and smile back at Jango.

They’d found a true common ground now. A desire to help protect these men whose only protection from the whims of the Senate was a Mand’alor with no planet to call home and a Jedi whose only political power could be taken from the Senate in a fit of pique. But they’d be successful, Obi-Wan couldn’t bear the thought of anything less.

“I was serious before, though.” Jango said suddenly, and the intensity of the moment broke. “I want to know you.” Jango’s smile went mischievous, and Obi-Wan refused to find it charming. They’d found common ground, but that didn’t make this man any less dangerous. “After all, we’re partners in crime now.”

Obi-Wan frowned, because that was not what he’d meant. Still, Jango was right, to a degree. They would be working together, and a little easy conversation would hopefully make that working relationship easier to navigate.

“What do you want to know?”

“What are you willing to tell me?” Jango retorted casually, but the look in Jango’s eye seemed to have an altogether different answer.

Everything, tell me everything.

Obi-Wan ignored it. He was probably just imagining it anyway.