When Obi-Wan opened his eyes, he found himself looking at the familiar ceiling that he quickly identified. He was in the Halls of Healing.
Obi-Wan frowned, confused. Try as he might, he couldn't remember how he had gotten here. He didn't feel injured or sick.
"I see you are awake."
Flinching, he looked at the unfamiliar Twi'lek female in the Healer robes. His confusion only grew. Who was she?
As if reading his thoughts, the Healer said, "I am Master Vokara Che. How do you feel, Obi-Wan?"
Obi-Wan stared at her in puzzlement. "Confused," he said slowly. "Which I think is justified, considering that Vokara Che is a twenty-three-year-old padawan."
The Healer smiled slightly. "I see your sharp mind is still very much intact, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan eyed her for a moment, and concluded that she really looked like a Vokara Che, just decades older. "Please explain," he said, an anxious feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. He already had a theory, one that he didn't very much like.
The Healer's expression became pinched. "What is the last thing you remember?"
Obi-Wan pursed his lips, disliking that she was evading his question. "I was packing my belongings to prepare for my trip to the AgriCorps."
The Healer nodded, looking unsurprised but unhappy. But before she could say anything, the door opened and Master Yoda and another Jedi walked in.
Obi-Wan was incredibly relieved to see a familiar face--at least Master Yoda didn't look any different--but when he looked at the younger Jedi that followed Yoda into the room, he couldn't help but stare.
The Jedi shone in the Force. He shone so brightly that for a moment, it overwhelmed Obi-Wan before he managed to bring his shields up and focus on the Jedi's face instead of his Force signature. He was a tall, handsome man with a mess of wavy golden-brown hair, sharp jawline, and equally sharp blue eyes that roamed over Obi-Wan with a strange expression. He was quite young, Obi-Wan noted with surprise. It seemed unthinkable that a Jedi whose connection to the Force seemed to surpass that of Master Yoda could be so young.
"Hmmphm," Master Yoda said. "Awake, you are, Young Obi-Wan. And answers, you want."
Obi-Wan nodded, sitting up in his bed. He still wasn't sure why he was in that bed--he felt fine. "What is happening, Master?" he said, trying to sound calm and patient. Unfortunately, he'd never been good at being calm and patient.
Which is why no one wants you and you're heading to the AgriCorps, came a bitter thought Obi-Wan couldn't quite suppress.
Master Yoda sighed. "Explain to him everything, you will, Master Che."
The Healer didn't look particularly happy by the order but complied.
"You are not thirteen, Obi-Wan," she said. "Yesterday, you were a thirty-eight-year-old Jedi Master and Council member. Unfortunately, there was something of an accident during your last mission. You touched an alien artifact that started de-aging you. By the time we were able to stop what the artifact was doing, you were already thirteen."
Obi-Wan stared at her.
Then he looked at Master Yoda, who just nodded, confirming the Healer's ridiculous, unbelievable tale.
"I don't believe you," Obi-Wan finally croaked out. "I was going to the AgriCorps. I could not have become a Jedi Master." Being a Council member by the age of thirty-eight was unbelievable. Did they take him for an idiot? Only a great Jedi like Master Windu had accomplished such a feat. If Obi-Wan couldn't convince anyone to make him a padawan, there was no way he would be a member of the Council by the age of thirty-eight.
"It is true," the unfamiliar Jedi suddenly said, forcing Obi-Wan to look at him. Once he did, he found it hard to look away again. The Jedi was so bright in the Force it was like looking at a star gone supernova.
"Here," the Jedi said, pulling out a datapad from his pocket, tapping it a few times, and then walking over to Obi-Wan.
"Skywalker," Healer Che said warningly, but the Jedi--Skywalker--ignored her and handed the datapad to Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan took it and looked down at its display.
It was a picture. It was Skywalker, perhaps a few years younger, and there was another Jedi with red hair and beard. He was--
Obi-Wan stared. "Is that me?" he whispered, his lips barely moving.
"Yes," Skywalker said. "It was taken right after my padawan braid was cut. You can see it in your hand."
It took Obi-Wan a moment to realize what that meant. His gaze snapped back to Skywalker. "Are you saying..."
Skywalker nodded with a small, twisted smile. "You were my Master."
Obi-Wan shook his head slowly, his mind reeling. "That cannot be true," he said at last. "You must be at least twenty-five, so I couldn't have possibly--"
"I'm twenty-two, actually," Skywalker said. "I became your padawan when you were twenty-five and I was nine. I was Knighted three years ago."
Obi-Wan stared at him. "No one gets a padawan at twenty-five."
Skywalker smiled ruefully. "Well, you were one of the youngest Jedi in history with a padawan--until I got my own at nineteen."
"Skywalker, you're just confusing him further," Master Che said sternly. "I think you should leave."
Skywalker shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest, his jaw set. "I'm not leaving. Obi-Wan has the right to know the full truth. He doesn't need to be spoon-fed half-truths you choose to give him."
"Skywalker," Che snapped, glaring at him. "You are forgetting yourself."
Skywalker glowered back at her. "I know Obi-Wan would have wanted to know the full truth--"
"This is not the Obi-Wan you knew," Che cut him off. "It's a thirteen-year-old boy who has never even been a Jedi padawan, much less your Master. You do not know him at all."
"I want him to stay," Obi-Wan said quickly, glaring at the healer. He didn't appreciate being treated like a dim-witted child. "Besides, what harm will knowing my future--past--do? I will remember everything when you fix me anyway."
Che hesitated and exchanged a look with Master Yoda, who had been curiously quiet so far.
"Impossible, it is," Yoda said at last, his ears turning down. "Reverse the artifact's work completely, we cannot."
"What?" Obi-Wan managed.
Master Che was frowning. "We can make the artifact age you up, but it will have to be a slow, gradual process so that your organs will not fail from such stress. And as we understand it, it will not give you back your memories past the age of thirteen. Your brain will mature as if you grew up naturally, and you will get some of your general skills back and likely your muscle memory with lightsaber, but you will never recover your more recent episodic memories. In a way your condition is similar to a person with retrograde amnesia: your episodic, autobiographical memory after the age of thirteen is gone, but your procedural memory will be intact. Your body will remember some of your past skills as you're aged back, but not how you learned them."
As he struggled to process it, Obi-Wan noticed Skywalker turning his face away, his shoulders stiff.
This must be difficult for him, too, Obi-Wan suddenly realized. If Skywalker really had been his padawan--his padawan!--then Skywalker's old Master was as good as gone, forever.
"Then... then what are you going to do with me?" Obi-Wan said. "I'll... I will be useless to you if I will not have the memories of being a Jedi when you reverse my age."
"Proceed with the original plan we shall, and send you to the AgriCorps." Master Yoda sighed. "Unfortunate it is, but little choice we have. At war, we are, Young Obi-Wan. Stretched thin, the Jedi are. No Master available, to train you there is."
Clenching his jaw, Obi-Wan swallowed and gave a tight nod, fighting back bitter tears. The hope, the elation he'd felt for a brief moment from the knowledge that he would be--had been--a Jedi now died again. Obi-Wan could only hope the other Jedi in the room couldn't sense the crushing disappointment he was feeling, but his shields were not at their best, and he was probably being painfully obvious--and painfully pathetic.
Obi-Wan lifted his head, looking at the source of the voice.
He was glaring at Master Yoda. "That would be a mistake. Obi-Wan is the best Jedi in the Order!"
"Was," Master Yoda corrected him, not unkindly. "Gone, your former Master is, Knight Skywalker. Accept it, you should. This boy, while gifted in the Force, untrained he is. Not enough, muscle memories are, to make a Jedi. Resources to train him, we do not have. Lose Jedi we every day. Too many padawans without their masters, we already have."
"I will take him on as my padawan."
Obi-Wan blinked, staring at Skywalker in amazement.
Master Yoda seemed equally taken aback. "Thought I that you would not want to take on another padawan so soon after the debacle with your former one."
Skywalker's lips thinned. He glared at Master Yoda.
It made Obi-Wan very curious. It seemed Skywalker no longer had his padawan for some reason.
"Well, you were not wrong," Skywalker said, his voice clipped. "But I'm not letting Obi-Wan waste his talents on farming."
Obi-Wan bit his bottom lip, trying not to show that Skywalker's words warmed him to his core. Skywalker was the first Jedi who seemed to really believe in him.
"Let me train him," Skywalker said. "I have the necessary experience. You know Ahsoka was as good as most Knights by the time she left the Order."
Yoda looked down, frowning.
"You know I'm right, Master," Skywalker pressed. "Obi-Wan deserves better than being sent to the AgriCorps."
"Affected by your attachment you are," Yoda said, shaking his head, but Obi-Wan could see that he was actually considering Skywalker's offer seriously.
Obi-Wan wasn't sure what to make of it. Either Master Yoda had so much respect for Skywalker's opinion or... perhaps he didn't really want to send Obi-Wan to the AgriCorps, after all. Probably the former. Skywalker was so incredibly strong in the Force. Surely he commanded a lot of respect in the Order?
"Very well," Master Yoda said. "Allow you to train young Obi-Wan, I will."
Obi-Wan tried not to grin but failed when Skywalker's gaze met his. The blue eyes softened considerably.
"With all due respect, Master," Che cut in, frowning. "But I advise against it. If the boy will be learning lightsaber forms, it will be beyond difficult for him to learn them while he is adjusting to his changing body and brain all the time."
Obi-Wan's face fell.
"Obi-Wan can handle it," Skywalker said with such supreme confidence that Obi-Wan could only stare at him, unsure if he was flattered or horrified. How was he supposed to ever live up to the man who had been Skywalker's Master?
"Besides," Skywalker said stiffly. "There is no need to age him too much if his memories will not be back. If you can slowly get him to the age of, say, eighteen or twenty, it will not be too much of a shock to his system. I would be against using that artifact on him at all, except Obi-Wan is going to need the muscle memory that he lost. We're at war. Muscle memory often makes the difference between life and death for us."
The Healer nodded slowly. "Aging him to the age of eighteen is probably the best option for him," she said. "That way, he will have his procedural memories up to the age of eighteen back and will be in a better shape physically, but it should not be too stressful for his body and mind."
"Decided, it is," Master Yoda said. "Age Obi-Wan you will to the age of eighteen over the next five months. Age naturally he will after that." He looked at the Jedi Knight. "Your padawan, he now is, Knight Skywalker. Your responsibility."
Obi-Wan sagged back, disbelief and elation making him almost dizzy.
A firm hand on his shoulder made him look up.
Into Skywalker's blue eyes.
"My name is Anakin Skywalker," he said, his voice oddly thick and strained, but his face solemn and determined. "And I promise you, you will be a Jedi."
Master Skywalker was the most unorthodox Jedi Obi-Wan had ever met.
For one thing, he didn't criticize Obi-Wan for getting moody and snappish whenever his training frustrated him. His Master just stared at him with something like bewildered surprise before shaking his head with a laugh.
When Obi-Wan finally found the courage to ask him about it, Anakin looked away for a moment before replying, "I have always thought my Master was born a perfect Jedi, that being a Jedi came as easily to him as breathing. When I was a padawan, I was just like you--easily frustrated and angered--and it always annoyed me that my Master was so kriffing unflappable and serene, no matter what I did." He smiled ruefully. The smile didn't touch his eyes. "I resented that, to be honest. I felt like I was a failure of a Jedi, that I was a burden to him."
Obi-Wan stared at him incredulously. Anakin was the strongest Jedi he'd ever met. Obi-Wan had been his padawan just for a few weeks, but he'd already noticed how much other padawans looked up to Anakin.
The Chosen One, they whispered about him. Hero.
It had taken Obi-Wan a few days to find out what they meant. He had been surprised to learn that Anakin was a war hero, famous across the Republic as General Skywalker and Hero With No Fear, his face plastered on countless posters--Anakin's and the Negotiator's.
Obi-Wan had been a little horrified when he realized that his older self was as famous as Anakin. It was flattering, yes, but it was also... more than a little daunting to know that he would always be compared to the man he had been, to the Jedi Master famous for his Mastery of Soresu, his perfect composure, wisdom, and negotiation skills.
So Obi-Wan pushed himself hard, wanting to improve as fast as possible and become as good as his older self had been--or better. He trained every waking moment, until his limbs were shaking with exhaustion. Usually he was so tired and sore that by the end of the day his body felt like it had been hit by a small shuttle.
Granted, his soreness recently might also have something to do with the first aging procedure that he had undergone last week: Obi-Wan was officially fourteen now.
One would think being fourteen wouldn't be much different from being thirteen--except it absolutely was. Obi-Wan hadn't realized how uncomfortable growing an inch in the span of a few moments would be. He felt sore all over, but the physical differences weren't the most unsettling part. Obi-Wan felt different. He even thought differently now, which was rather disorienting.
Now he understood why Healer Che was so reluctant to age him too much: each aging procedure would be as stressful for him--not only physically, but mentally too, since his brain was maturing, as well.
But there were positive changes too. Obi-Wan would now sometimes just know how to perform the lightsaber technique Anakin was teaching him--and his body would just take over. His muscle memory really was coming back to him, making his training much faster than it would have been, so it was absolutely worth it, in Obi-Wan's opinion.
His Master hadn't been convinced, however.
"Are you sure you want to keep doing this?" Anakin had said, frowning deeply when he saw how off-balance Obi-Wan felt after his first controlled exposure to the artifact. "You don't have to, Obi-Wan. Although it would accelerate your training, it's not necessary. We can do it the traditional way. Your training will just be slower."
Obi-Wan had shaken his head and assured Anakin that he wanted it. And he did. He wanted to improve. He didn't want to hold his Master back. If aging his body and getting his procedural memories back helped him learn faster, Obi-Wan was absolutely willing to do it. The truth was, the war wasn't going to wait for him. Anakin was needed on the front line, and Obi-Wan didn't want to be a liability--and he would be a liability if he barely knew what he was doing.
Healer Che had declared the first procedure a success, but she had also warned Obi-Wan to take it easy while his body and brain adjusted to the changes.
Obi-Wan had nodded, but he had no intention of listening to her. He wanted to improve as fast as possible.
He needed to.
That evening, Obi-Wan had sneaked out of his room in the Halls of Healing to the nearest training room, as usual. Ignoring his tired muscles, he focused on doing katas--he was so focused that he had failed to notice his Master's appearance.
"Enough," Anakin said.
Startled, Obi-Wan froze. "Master," he said guiltily, switching his lightsaber off.
He thought Anakin would be angry at his disobedience, but his Master looked... sad?
"Look, Obi-Wan..." he said, walking over. His gaze was difficult to read. "You have made incredible progress over the past few weeks. I'm beyond impressed."
Obi-Wan felt his face become warm and ducked his head.
"But," Anakin said, and Obi-Wan's heart sank. Sighing, Anakin put his hand on Obi-Wan's bony shoulder. "I'm concerned for you. I know you think you have to live up to the man you once were, but it's bantha poodoo. These kinds of expectations are never good for a child, trust me on that. You don't owe anyone anything." He met Obi-Wan's gaze and said, "You don't have to be him, Padawan."
"I'm not a child, Master," Obi-Wan said, glancing down to blink away the sudden moisture in his eyes. "But I... I appreciate you telling me that. You're a good Master."
When he looked back at his Master, he found Anakin smiling humorlessly. "I try," he said, averting his gaze.
Obi-Wan frowned, feeling a hint of sadness coming off his Master despite Anakin's shields. He wondered if Anakin was thinking about his first padawan--she had left the Order just last month, after all.
Whatever Anakin was thinking about, it didn't seem very pleasant. There was something in the tense line of Anakin's shoulders that betrayed it. He seemed... lonely. Anakin always seemed so lonely, even when he was surrounded by the other Jedi.
Following a sudden impulse, Obi-Wan stepped forward and hugged him tentatively. "Thank you, Master," he said, his voice catching. "I know this must be difficult for you."
Anakin was very rigid against him.
Obi-Wan was already starting to feel mortified by his impulsive behavior--what was he thinking? It wasn't the Jedi way--when two strong arms engulfed Obi-Wan in a hug so tight it took his breath away.
Smiling in relief, Obi-Wan tucked his head under Anakin's chin and melted into him, breathing deeply in his Master's scent: the scent of oil, leather, and fresh air, with an underlying pleasant scent that was probably just Anakin's. That scent was quickly becoming his favorite.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, relishing the way his Master's Force signature brushed against his. Their training bond was unusually strong, likely because they had once shared one even if Obi-Wan couldn't remember it.
"I know you probably miss him, but is it bad that I'm glad it happened?" Obi-Wan whispered, barely audibly. "I don't want any other Master but you." He had learned that originally Qui-Gon Jinn had been his Master, but the name meant nothing for him. He couldn't imagine having another Master but this kind, fiercely protective Knight.
The arms around Obi-Wan tightened briefly before loosening. "I do miss him," Anakin admitted quietly, his fingers playing with Obi-Wan's padawan braid in an absent-minded manner. "He was the closest thing I had to a father. But I have been missing him for a long time already. Master and I have been growing apart for years. I don't actually remember the last time we talked about something besides the war or the Jedi Order." His voice became bitter, harder. "Our relationship lately hasn't been what it used to be. He started lying to me, just like the rest of the Council."
Obi-Wan was unsettled by the deep resentment and hurt he could feel through their bond. "Lying how?"
"He faked his death for a mission and let me believe he was dead." Anakin chuckled harshly. "He used my grief to make it convincing."
Obi-Wan's brows furrowed. The more he learned, the less he was sure that he liked his older self. "That seems... cruel."
Anakin didn't say anything for a long while. When he spoke again, his voice was toneless. "He wasn't cruel, but I don't think he understood me. Duty to the Order always came first to him, and I'm not... I'm not made like that. I think he was glad when I was Knighted. He was fond of me, in his own way, but I was too much for him. He didn't choose me, Obi-Wan. Master Jinn all but forced him to train me."
Obi-Wan frowned. He had trouble believing that, but Anakin was the one with the memories out of the two of them. "I would choose you," he said fiercely.
Anakin laughed a little. He tugged playfully at Obi-Wan's braid. "That's very kind of you to say, baby Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan pulled back and glared at Anakin, retrieving his braid from his grasp. "I'm not a baby," he grated out, which only made Anakin grin.
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes and sighed. "But I'm serious, Master," he said, meeting Anakin's eyes. "You are amazing. I'm certain that my older self was very proud of you. Don't you see how much all padawans look up to you?"
Anakin smiled ruefully. "Do they?"
Obi-Wan nodded, his fingers playing with the button of Anakin's dark tunic. He kind of wanted to touch his Master's golden curls--they always fascinated him--but he didn't dare.
"Everyone is jealous of me," Obi-Wan said. "Do you know they call you Hero With No Fear?"
A laugh, harsh and humorless, left Anakin's mouth. "Hero With No Fear..." he repeated in a strange voice, his gaze faraway. "Sometimes that moniker feels like a joke. A mockery."
Obi-Wan frowned. He studied his Master carefully, for the first time noticing the dark circles under his eyes. "Master?" he said, a pang of concern twisting his insides. "Does something trouble you?"
Anakin's eyes focused on him again. He shook his head, his gaze tired but kind. "Just have trouble sleeping, Obi-Wan. Nightmares."
Obi-Wan pursed his lips unhappily. He didn't like the thought of his Master being plagued by nightmares. "Because of the war?" he ventured a guess.
Anakin shrugged and said nothing. Something dark and troubled seemed to settle over his mind. Obi-Wan could feel it acutely through their bond. He wondered if his other self had been able to sense it, too. He doubted it: Anakin had told him that he and Master Kenobi had severed their master-padawan bond years ago and could feel each other only very faintly.
"Master," Obi-Wan said. Finding the courage, he brought his hand up to push the stray lock of hair off Anakin's face. He met the blue eyes that were once again focused on him. "Is there anything I can do? I want to help you. Would you like to meditate together?"
A laugh left Anakin's mouth, but this time it was full of amusement and fondness. "Your older self would have suggested meditating away my problems, too, but I'm not good at it, Obi-Wan. Never has been, and probably never will be." He tapped his own temple lightly. "There is too much noise in here."
Feeling braver, since Anakin hadn't seemed displeased with his touching his hair, Obi-Wan slipped his hand into his Master's hair and started threading his fingers through it. It was thick but unexpectedly soft. "You should sleep, then. You look exhausted, Master."
Anakin's eyelids grew heavier. "Mmmm, this feels nice. You have good hands, Padawan."
Flushing, Obi-Wan was suddenly very glad that Anakin's eyes were almost closed. "Come here, Master..." He pulled Anakin down to the meditation rug and arranged them so that Anakin's head was in his lap.
Anakin humored him, looking at him with a strange expression Obi-Wan couldn't quite read. Trying not to blush, Obi-Wan put his fingers back in Anakin's hair. "You should rest, Master. There is still time until we leave with the 501st." As usual, the thought made him excited. Until this day, he and Anakin had been effectively grounded, but yesterday Master Windu and Master Yoda had evaluated his progress and deemed him ready enough to accompany Anakin on his next campaign. Although Obi-Wan wouldn't be allowed to participate in battles, he could actually be there for his Master, make sure he looked after himself.
"I don't want to sleep," Anakin said, but he already sounded sleepy, his eyes closed.
Soon, his breathing evened out.
Obi-Wan smiled down at him softly, hoping his smile wasn't as smitten as he felt. He was perfectly aware he had a...crush on his Master, but he'd been told by other padawans that it was perfectly normal. Everyone had a crush on their Master at some point. Kark, half of the padawans seemed to have a crush on Obi-Wan's Master, which miffed Obi-Wan a little, truth be told. Anakin was his Master, not theirs.
Obi-Wan winced, disturbed by his own possessiveness. It didn't befit a Jedi. He could only hope this embarrassing crush would be gone after the next aging procedure. Obi-Wan didn't want to ruin his and his Master's relationship with his crush. He wanted to be the best padawan Anakin had ever had.
I will make you proud, Obi-Wan thought determinedly, stroking his Master's hair. I will not leave you like she did.
As if hearing his thoughts, Anakin shifted a little in his sleep, his Force signature wrapping tightly around Obi-Wan's.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, allowing himself to get lost in the feeling of being enveloped in his Master's Force signature. It felt so nice. No one had told Obi-Wan that master-padawan bonds felt so good. So very warm and comforting. So right.
That was why Obi-Wan had trouble believing Anakin's opinion that Obi-Wan's older self had felt nothing for him but a sense of duty to a padawan. His crush aside, this... affection he had developed for Anakin over the past few weeks was too strong and deep, suspiciously so.
Or perhaps Obi-Wan just didn't want to admit that it was his own flaw, that it was just one more thing he wasn't as good at as his older self had apparently been: his proneness to attachment and emotion. Obi-Wan had always felt too much, too strongly, which was why no Master had ever chosen him--until Anakin.
The thought brought a giddy warmth to his chest. Anakin had chosen him, regardless of his strained relationship with the older Obi-Wan. Anakin clearly didn't consider Obi-Wan's emotional behavior a flaw.
It was a novel, strange thought. As far as Obi-Wan could remember himself, he had always striven to be less emotional and temperamental, because everyone had told him that it was a flaw, a weakness he needed to overcome. It seemed that Obi-Wan's older self had eradicated that flaw by the time Anakin had become his padawan.
But should Obi-Wan try to do the same? Anakin clearly didn't want him to be as emotionally unavailable as the older Obi-Wan had been.
Obi-Wan frowned. He wanted to be a good Jedi, but he also wanted to be a good padawan for his Master. Those two desires seemed to contradict each other.
Anakin's comlink chimed, tearing him away from his thoughts.
Obi-Wan opened his eyes and looked at the comlink in displeasure. He didn't want his Master to wake up.
Carefully, Obi-Wan untangled their Force signatures, not wanting to disturb Anakin's sleep. Then he focused on the comlink and summoned it with the Force. He caught it in his hand and smiled, pleased with his precision--it seemed Anakin's lessons on Force manipulation were already paying off--and looked at the Caller ID.
Obi-Wan's eyebrows flew up. He hadn't been aware that Anakin was such good friends with the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic that Palpatine would comm him on his personal frequency.
No matter; his Master needed rest. Even the Chancellor would have to wait.
Obi-Wan put the comlink on silent and slipped his hand back into his Master's curls, smiling when Anakin leaned into the touch in his sleep.
Don't go, Anakin said sleepily through their bond, his Force signature wrapping greedily around Obi-Wan's again.
His chest warm, Obi-Wan pushed his affection into their bond and closed his eyes, deciding to meditate. I'm not going anywhere, Master. Sleep.
Although Obi-Wan had been told about the Clones, meeting them was still surreal.
Captain Rex, Anakin's second-in-command, didn't even blink when he saw Obi-Wan, as if it was perfectly normal that General Kenobi was suddenly de-aged. In fact, the Clones treated him more normally than anyone else did.
"It probably helps that they can relate to your current situation," Anakin murmured into Obi-Wan's ear, likely sensing his confusion. "They aged much faster than humans normally do, too."
Obi-Wan nodded with a slight frown. He understood what Anakin meant, but he couldn't say he agreed. "The difference is, I'm choosing this, Master," Obi-Wan said quietly. "Do they have a choice at all?"
A shadow passed over Anakin's face. "I know what you mean, but let's talk about it later, all right?" he said, just as quietly. Putting his hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, he steered him toward his men. "Let's go, I'll introduce everyone to you."
The introductions went well. Obi-Wan didn't manage to remember everyone's names, but he tried his best. He was a little ashamed to admit that he made more effort to remember the soldiers Anakin seemed to like the best, but he rationalized it that he likely would see them more often if they were close to Anakin.
"Did you like them?" Anakin said as they headed back to Anakin's quarters.
"They seem nice," Obi-Wan said with a shrug. "Though, it was rather strange to be called General Kenobi."
Anakin grimaced slightly. "They are soldiers and they follow their orders. It's a tricky situation, because technically, General Kenobi hasn't died or been demoted. Until the Jedi Order sorts out the paperwork, they'll likely keep calling you General. I can ask them not to do it, but--"
"It's fine, Master," Obi-Wan said, touching Anakin's wrist and smiling at him a little. It warmed him to see how considerate Anakin always was of his comfort and well-being. He really was a wonderful Master.
Even Master Yoda seemed to agree with Obi-Wan on this. The old Grandmaster had come to see Obi-Wan before the Resolute II left. As always, his words were rather cryptic and vague, but some of them had stuck with Obi-Wan.
"Your safety, I do not worry about. Keep you safe, your Master will. Concern, that has never been. Responsibility for a padawan, does good for Young Skywalker. Being needed, he needs." Yoda looked Obi-Wan straight in the eye. "Dangerously unstable, Knight Skywalker is. Losing his first padawan, a wound inflicted upon him. Losing his former Master, another wound it was. Gave you to him I, in the hope that keep him in the Light you will. Need him in the Light, we do. Too powerful, he is. Lose him, we cannot."
Obi-Wan had been rendered speechless by that. He hadn't even known that Master Yoda was afraid of losing Anakin to the Dark Side. It seemed unthinkable. His Master was so kind.
But then Obi-Wan thought of the anger he sometimes sensed in Anakin, of the resentment toward the Council he often expressed, of the dark circles under Anakin's eyes, of his nightmares... It made Obi-Wan wonder--and worry a little. Aside from the short nap Anakin took that evening, Obi-Wan had never even seen him meditating or resting. That couldn't be good for his state of mind, coupled with the stress of the war and training a new padawan.
Though, according to Master Yoda, training a padawan actually did Anakin good. Master Yoda had implied that Anakin liked being needed, and that Obi-Wan could certainly give him. Needing his Master definitely wasn't a problem.
Far from it.
Obi-Wan blushed at the thought and hastily brought his shields up.
"Are you sure you want to share my quarters?" Anakin said. "I've ordered to have another bed installed, but--"
Obi-Wan nodded. "I don't want to take your former padawan's cabin, Master." It was the truth, but it wasn't the full truth. He wanted to be closer to Anakin, so he could observe how much sleep and meditation his Master was actually getting.
And because you just want to be closer to him, period, his inner voice said reproachfully, bringing a wave of shame with it.
"You can say her name, you know," Anakin said, looking straight ahead. Despite his causal tone, his shoulders were stiff. "It won't make me snap."
Obi-Wan eyed him skeptically. "I was not certain you wanted to talk about her, Master."
Anakin shrugged. "I don't mind talking about Snips," he said. "But there's not much to talk about. I'm sure you already know why she left."
Obi-Wan's forehead wrinkled in a puzzled frown. "Snips? I thought her name is Ahsoka."
Anakin chuckled. "It is. Snips is the nickname I gave her." There was unmistakable affection in his Master's voice.
Obi-Wan looked down, chewing on his lip.
"You do not have a nickname for me."
Anakin laughed. "You did tell me not to call you baby Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan glared at him. "That is not amusing, Master."
Anakin grinned. "What about Bambi? Like in that old holomovie about the Gasyonian deer? You do look like a Bambi to me: all adorable and--"
"On second thought, please don't give me any nicknames, Master," Obi-Wan said, pursing his lips tightly to hide his smile.
"No, I will just have to think about it..." Anakin said with mock thoughtfulness. "I'll come up with a perfect nickname for you, don't worry."
Obi-Wan elbowed him, which only made Anakin laugh.
Obi-Wan's lips twitched. He liked making his Master laugh, seeing him happy and carefree.
Of course, good things didn't last.
Once they were on board of the Resolute II, it didn't take Obi-Wan long to find out that the nightmares Anakin had mentioned were a frequent occurrence.
His Master couldn't hide them from him now that they were sharing a room. At the Temple, Obi-Wan had been sleeping in the Halls of Healing because Healer Che had insisted on keeping him under observation. Now Obi-Wan had the dubious pleasure of watching Anakin move restlessly in his sleep night after night, Anakin's anger, grief, and pain filling their room in suffocating waves.
On the third night, Obi-Wan couldn't keep watching it anymore. He got out of his bed and climbed into his Master's.
"Master," he said quietly, laying a hand on Anakin's bare shoulder. "Wake up."
Anakin didn't wake up.
Frowning, Obi-Wan focused and reached to him through their bond.
There is a woman dying in his arms--
a flash of blue lightsaber
the cries of horror and pain
dead bodies around him--men, women, children
he feels sick--what has he done--but they deserved it--
He turns, and there is a red-haired man watching him, deep disappointment on his face. "You have failed me, Anakin. I always knew you would."
"Master," he croaks out, but the man shakes his head and turns his back to him.
"Master!" he calls out desperately again, but the man doesn't turn back. He walks away until he is gone.
And then he is alone.
Everyone leaves him. His mother, Ahsoka, his Master. Everyone always leaves him.
Obi-Wan forced himself to pull out of the dream. Opening his eyes, he stared at his Master's restless form with a new understanding. Pushing away the disturbing contents of the dream to think about later--now wasn't the time--Obi-Wan whispered, "Master."
"Master," he said louder, trying to send warmth, comfort and affection through their bond.
Anakin's thrashing subsided, and his eyes opened, but they were glazed and faraway before finally focusing on him.
"Obi-Wan?" he said hoarsely. "What are you doing in my bed?"
Obi-Wan felt his face heat up. "You were having a nightmare, Master."
"Oh," Anakin said. "Sorry for waking you up. It's nothing. Go back to sleep."
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows and gave him a look. "You had this nightmare for the third night in a row, Master."
Grimacing, Anakin pulled himself up into a sitting position, the sheets pooling at his waist.
Obi-Wan swallowed and tried not to stare. Predictably, he failed. He was a teenager, and his Master was the most handsome man he had ever seen. He took in Anakin's broad shoulders and muscular chest before quickly looking away, his face warm and his mouth dry.
Thankfully, Anakin didn't seem to notice, running a hand over his face. Anakin sighed, his shoulders hunching.
Obi-Wan's heart clenched. He might be selfishly happy that Anakin was his Master, but of course it was different for Anakin. No matter how strained his relationship with his Master had been, Anakin had lost the closest thing he had to a father.
"It was not just a nightmare," Obi-Wan stated quietly.
Anakin grimaced and didn't say anything, his jaw tight and his gaze distant.
Obi-Wan watched him, feeling more inadequate than ever. Useless. His older self, the Jedi Master, would have likely known what to say, how to help.
Obi-Wan wasn't a Jedi Master. He didn't have any words of wisdom to offer. All he had was this shameful, inappropriate longing that had only been deepening despite his best efforts.
Hesitantly, Obi-Wan reached out and took Anakin's flesh hand. "You can tell me anything, Master," he said softly, his gaze on their joined hands. Anakin's hand completely dwarfed his slimmer, paler hand.
Anakin sighed and squeezed his fingers. "Thanks, but I can't talk to you about this, Obi-Wan. Not because I do not trust you. It's just..."
Obi-Wan pursed his lips unhappily when his Master trailed off.
"Oh, for kark's sake," Anakin said. "Please don't pout."
Obi-Wan glared at him. "I assure you I do not pout, Master," he said with as much dignity as he could muster.
Anakin gave him an amused look. "You are kriffing adorable when you get all offended. And yes, you absolutely do pout, my Padawan."
Obi-Wan's stomach clenched. He couldn't deny that it gave him a shameful thrill when Anakin called him his.
"I just want to help you, Master," Obi-Wan said, dropping his gaze. "I understand that you don't take me seriously compared to the man I was--"
"Obi-Wan. Look at me."
It was impossible not to obey the command in Anakin's voice.
He found his Master frowning deeply. "Have we not had this conversation already? I don't want you to be the man my Master was. I don't think you are in any way inferior." Squeezing his hand, Anakin looked him in the eye. "You are not inferior, Obi-Wan. I will not deny that I miss him, but I never wished you were him. You are very important to me, too. Very dear to me."
Obi-Wan couldn't quite contain his smile. "Careful, Master, or one might suspect you of attachment," he teased.
He expected Anakin to laugh at that, but Anakin just looked at him with a rueful smile.
Obi-Wan's heart skipped a beat. "Master?"
"I'm not very good at being a proper Jedi, Obi-Wan," Anakin said. "At least not where the non-attachment rule is concerned."
Obi-Wan blinked. And blinked again. Having grown up in the crèche, he felt like he should have been appalled by what Anakin was admitting. But the giddy feeling in his chest eclipsed it completely.
"Oh," he breathed, his cheeks warming.
Anakin pinched Obi-Wan's cheek, looking amused and fond in equal measure. "I hope that word doesn't offend you as much as it offended my Master. But I'm tired of pretending to be something I'm not. I'm quite attached to you, mini Obi-Wan."
"That isn't any better than calling me baby, Master," Obi-Wan protested half-heartedly, but he was smiling. "I'm not that short. I'm just a palm's width shorter than my older self was."
Anakin laughed. "So short. He wasn't exactly tall, either. But fine. I will call you Obi, then."
Obi-Wan scrunched up his nose. "Absolutely not," he said. "Obi-Wan is sufficient."
"If you say so, Padawan," Anakin said, tugging at his braid.
Obi-Wan bit his bottom lip. "I do say so, Master," he said, smiling at Anakin and trying to ignore the butterflies in his stomach.
He tried to focus on something else. "Do you still not want to talk about it? About your nightmare?"
Anakin sighed. "Not really," he said, his fingers stroking Obi-Wan's braid absentmindedly. "I don't think talking will help. I'm just...I'm not good at losing people I care about. But it'll get better, eventually."
Obi-Wan chewed on his lip. "I saw some of your dream through our bond," he admitted quietly and could see Anakin's muscles stiffen. "I saw you--I saw you killing people." Children.
His small hope that it had been just a meaningless dream was crushed when he saw how tight Anakin's expression became.
Anakin turned his face away, leaving Obi-Wan staring at his profile.
"They killed my mother, Obi-Wan," he said tonelessly. "Those animals raped her and tortured her until she bled to death." He turned his head and met Obi-Wan's gaze, his eyes full of pain and rage. "I slaughtered them like animals, because they were animals, and given a chance, I would do it again. They deserved it. Maybe their children didn't, but they would have just grown up to be murderers and rapists who would torture and rape someone's wife or someone's mother. The world is better off without them."
Obi-Wan could only stare at him, at a loss what to say. Rationally, he knew that what Anakin was admitting should have horrified him--and it did horrify him. But he'd seen Anakin's dream, had felt his devastation, his grief, and his rage--and he understood. He didn't think what Anakin had done was right, but he understood.
He may not remember his own mother, but he knew that for other children their mother was the most cherished loved one. Finding one's mother brutally raped to death... he couldn't imagine anyone being merciful in that situation. It didn't make what Anakin had done right, but it didn't make him a monster, either. It just made him a very flawed human being.
In a way, Obi-Wan was glad to learn about this, about this less than perfect side of his Master. He had been sort of idolizing him, and it was good to know that he wasn't actually as wonderful and perfect as Obi-Wan had thought.
"Say something," Anakin said hoarsely, his gaze searing him.
I don't know what to say.
Obi-Wan glanced around the room, deeply uncomfortable. "How did my older self react?"
"I never told him." Anakin's lips twisted into a humorless smile. "But I know he would have been horrified and disappointed in me. He would have never forgiven me."
Obi-Wan frowned. "You mean you have never told about this to anyone?"
Something flashed across Anakin's face. "Padmé--the Senator I was protecting at the time--knows because she was with me on Tatooine. The Chancellor does, too."
"The Chancellor?" Obi-Wan repeated, confused. Just how close was his Master to the Chancellor?
"Yes, he's my friend," Anakin said. "He's a very good man, and he told me that my actions were entirely justified."
Obi-Wan was a little disturbed. Was it naive of him to think that the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic should not be encouraging a Jedi Knight to slaughter entire villages?
"You think what I did was wrong," Anakin stated when the silence stretched. "You can't even look at me. You hate me now."
"I..." Obi-Wan said, but paused when he saw the expression on Anakin's face. His gaze was so intense. Desperate. He could feel that his reaction really mattered to Anakin. It seemed so ridiculous--he was just Obi-Wan, an initiate no one had ever wanted--and yet this immensely powerful Jedi Knight looked at him as if his negative reaction could break him.
And maybe it could, Obi-Wan realized with a sinking stomach. Perhaps Master Yoda had been right to worry about Anakin. He could sense a darkness rising in Anakin in response to his fear.
I'm not good at losing people I care about.
Now Anakin's words sounded completely different in the light of what Obi-Wan had learned.
"Master," Obi-Wan said softer, taking Anakin's hands into his own. "I think what you did is wrong." He squeezed Anakin's hands when his Master's jaw clenched. "No matter what you say, I can sense that you are not actually sure that what you did was justified. Instead of staying in denial about it, I think it's something you can learn from so that it can never happen again." He held Anakin's gaze. "I haven't known you for a long time, but I know you are better than that, Master."
Anakin's brows furrowed, his intense gaze becoming searching. "You mean... you mean you don't hate me."
Obi-Wan almost rolled his eyes. Honestly, his Master had a one-track mind. Was that what Anakin had chosen to fixate on? "No, I don't hate you," he said exasperatedly, but he suspected his voice sounded fond, because Anakin grinned widely, as if Obi-Wan had just given him the best present in the world.
"It doesn't matter what I think," Obi-Wan tried again. "The important thing is what you--"
He yelped in surprise as he was jerked into Anakin's lap and hugged tightly. "You're the best padawan ever," Anakin declared with a laugh.
"Master!" Obi-Wan said, but he suspected he didn't sound very reproachful. He couldn't be angry at Anakin when his Master was holding him as if he was something precious. Sighing, Obi-Wan hugged him back, guiltily allowing himself to skim his hands over the expanse of Anakin's strong, warm back and enjoying the way his Master's muscles moved beneath his hands.
Force, he smelled so good it was making Obi-Wan breathless. He had to be careful to keep his lower body away from Anakin. At times like this, he detested his teenage body. Anakin would no doubt be horrified if he realized just how much Obi-Wan was enjoying his embrace.
Anakin kissed the top of his head. "I thought you would hate me," he said hoarsely. "You have no idea how much this means to me."
Obi-Wan caught his bottom lip between his teeth. "Really?"
Anakin sighed and pulled back a little to look him in the eye. "Really," he said, cradling Obi-Wan's face. "You are the best person I know, no matter how old you are, Obi-Wan." He laughed a little. "If you don't hate me for this, then maybe there's hope for me yet."
Obi-Wan felt his face become warm. "Don't say that, Master. You're a good person."
Anakin shook his head with a crooked smile before leaning in and brushing his lips against Obi-Wan's temple. "Thank you," he said, tucking Obi-Wan's head under his chin and giving him another crushing hug.
Obi-Wan almost mewled from how good it felt. His Master gave the best hugs. Not that Obi-Wan had much experience with them--he only vaguely remembered being hugged once by a Crèche Master when he was five or six--but now he found that he was quickly becoming addicted to his Master's hugs. He wanted Anakin to touch him and hold him all the time. It was rather unsettling how much he wanted it.
"There is no need to thank me, Master," Obi-Wan said softly, running his fingers through Anakin's hair. "We are a team, right?"
A laugh, a little strangled but genuine, left Anakin's mouth. "Definitely," he said, kissing Obi-Wan on the temple again and breathing deeply. It made Obi-Wan wonder if Anakin found his scent as pleasant as Obi-Wan found his.
They sat like that for a long while, in companionable silence, Anakin's arms and Force signature still wrapped around him. Obi-Wan had never felt so content. So safe.
At last, Anakin sighed. "It's late. We should probably sleep. We'll arrive at the Sep planet early in the morning and we're unlikely to get much sleep after that."
Obi-Wan looked reluctantly at his own bed. His entire being seemed to rebel against the idea of leaving the safety of Anakin's arms. It unsettled Obi-Wan enough to actually force him to climb off his Master's lap. This...crush was getting ridiculous. Obi-Wan couldn't wait to get over it.
But as he turned toward his own bed, Anakin's hand caught his. "Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan looked back at him.
His Master's eyes were fixed on him with a very strange expression. "Do you know that ever since Snips left, I have felt completely disillusioned with the Order?"
Obi-Wan shook his head, not knowing what to say.
"I have," Anakin said, looking away. "The Jedi seemed like hypocrites, corrupt and dishonest. Even my Master has been lying to me lately, so my faith in the Order was very shaken." Anakin met Obi-Wan's eyes again. "Until you. You're so good, Obi-Wan. So uncorrupted by the war and the Order. You're already a far better Jedi than everyone on the Council."
Obi-Wan shook his head. "That's not true, Master--"
Anakin squeezed his hand. "It is. I'm not talking about your training, Obi-Wan." Anakin's intense gaze seemed to look right into Obi-Wan's soul. "You're so good, so pure, I feel lighter just from being around you--less bitter, less angry, more like the Jedi I should be."
Obi-Wan could only stare at him.
"I'm glad, Master," he whispered at last with a small smile, darting forward to give Anakin a quick hug.
But the quick hug turned into a very long one as his Master's arms came up around him.
When Obi-Wan finally slipped into his bed, he still felt warm and tingly on the inside.
At the back of Obi-Wan mind, a voice whispered that it wasn't normal for a Master and a Padawan to be so close and affectionate with each other, that it wasn't the Jedi way, that all these feelings were too intense and dangerous.
But at that moment, with Anakin's Force signature still wrapped around his, Obi-Wan didn't care.
He was happy.
"But are you sure he is all right?"
Kix suppressed the urge to sigh. He had a great deal of respect for General Skywalker--he was one of the few Jedi generals who actually cared deeply for his clone brothers. But at times like this, the General could be rather aggravating.
"His vitals are within the normal range for a healthy sixteen-year-old human male, General," Kix said.
The General's frown didn't disappear. "That's not what I asked, Kix. Obi-Wan was in a lot of pain, even though he was supposed to be unconscious. I could sense it."
Kix pursed his lips. "General, with all due respect, but you know I'm not Force-sensitive and can't explain something I cannot see. It is to be expected that he would feel discomfort--"
"But it wasn't discomfort. It was painful, more painful than when he was aged to fourteen and fifteen."
Kix rubbed his forehead, frowning. "That is not completely surprising. Healer Che hypothesized that each subsequent exposure to the artifact would likely be more painful for Commander Kenobi--"
"And why am I just finding out about it?" the General said, his eyes narrowing.
Kix suppressed another sigh and, not for the first time, wished Healer Che were here. But unfortunately, they had been stuck in the Outer Rim for two months already, and since Commander Kenobi was scheduled to go through one aging procedure a month, Kix was the one responsible for it--and the one who had to deal with General Skywalker's overprotectiveness.
Not that the General's overprotectiveness was all that surprising. The General had always been protective of General Kenobi, often defying the Jedi Order's commands if Kenobi was in danger.
But this... this was something else. Kix had never seen General Skywalker act this way. Kix'd had to pull his medical rank to force the General out of the infirmary, because the General's looming and questioning everything Kix had been doing just distracted him.
Now Kix understood what his brothers meant when they gossiped about the General and his new padawan. He had thought they were exaggerating, but it was obvious they hadn't been. General Skywalker doted on Commander Kenobi; there was no other word for it. As for Commander Kenobi, he seemed embarrassed by all the attention and yet he clearly blossomed under the General's care, becoming more confident with every day. When the young Obi-Wan had first boarded the Resolute II, he had been a mix of insecure and stubborn, but the former quality had become far less obvious as time went by and he was assured of his Master's affection.
Though "affection" didn't seem to be the correct word. Whatever the General felt for his padawan, it made him completely unreasonable.
"General," Kix said, adopting his most patient tone. "Commander Kenobi is fine now. If he tells me that the procedure was too painful for him this time, we will stop doing it. Let's wait and see until he wakes up."
General Skywalker looked back at the bacta tank. "And when will that be?"
Kix glanced at his watch. "Any moment now."
As if on cue, Obi-Wan's readings indicated that he was about to regain consciousness, and Kix drained the bacta out of the tank.
The teenager's eyes were already open by the time they retrieved him out of the tank.
"Master, I'm fine," were the first words he said, looking at Anakin with exasperated fondness.
At times like this, Kix wished he were Force-sensitive. It always felt like there was an entire separate conversation happening between the Jedi whenever Kix was in the room with them.
Anakin didn't say anything at first. His gaze swept over Obi-Wan from head to toe, intent and searching. Then he slipped his dark robe off and wrapped it around Obi-Wan's bare form.
"You always say that," he said, his blue eyes fixed on Obi-Wan's face as his hands fastened the robe on his padawan. "Are you sure you are all right?
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. "I am, Master," he said, dropping his gaze. "I feel well."
Anakin took Obi-Wan's chin into his hand and tipped it up a little, making the teenager look him in the eye. "You are not just saying that to make me stop worrying, Padawan?"
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, looking so much like General Kenobi at that moment that Kix hid his smile.
Not that either of the Jedi was paying him any attention. In fact, Kix got an uncomfortable feeling that they had both forgotten that he was in the room.
"When have I ever done that, Master?" Obi-Wan said innocently.
Anakin gave him a flat look, his lips twitching. "Just two days ago," he said wryly before his gaze became completely serious again. "You were in pain, Obi-Wan. I could feel it."
Obi-Wan grimaced slightly. "Maybe, but I do not remember it well. I was mostly unconscious. I am still a little sore, but it's nothing I can't handle, Master."
The General's lips thinned. "Is that what you thought when you defied my orders and got injured the other day?"
Obi-Wan flushed. "I was barely bruised, Master!"
"You wouldn't have gotten hurt at all if you didn't follow me down to the planet, Obi-Wan--against my orders."
Obi-Wan set his jaw and gave the General a stubborn look. "I was more than qualified to be there, Master. It was just unlucky that I was nearby when that house blew up."
Their gazes clashed, both of them too stubborn to admit being wrong.
Kix looked away, uncomfortable. Although the two Jedi seemed to have become much closer since the de-aging incident, their interactions also tended to be more...intense now. General Kenobi used to simply give General Skywalker a flat look and adopt a dry, patient tone whenever they disagreed. But Commander Kenobi was far more temperamental than his older counterpart had been and didn't hesitate to argue with his Master.
That said, there weren't many things the Master-Padawan pair disagreed on: the most prevalent issue was usually their different opinion on whether the Commander could participate in the battles or not. Kix was inclined to side with Obi-Wan on the issue: in his professional opinion, the teenager was in top physical shape and even General Skywalker had grudgingly admitted that theoretically Obi-Wan could handle himself. Theoretically.
Truth be told, Kix privately thought the General would happily lock the Commander up in his room for the duration of battles if he could get away with it.
"I have spoken with Master Yoda, Master," Obi-Wan said pointedly.
Anakin's jaw clenched.
"Master Yoda said he had told you to put me on active field duty," Obi-Wan said, crossing his arms over his chest and furrowing his brows.
Anakin shrugged, his jaw working. "It was the Council's recommendation. But they don't get to decide. You are my padawan. My responsibility, not theirs. I will not risk your life just because the Council needs more bodies to throw at the Seps."
Obi-Wan's mulish expression softened, his gaze filling with understanding. He sighed. "Master," he said quietly, looking Anakin in the eye. "I'm ready. You know I am. You can't keep sheltering me forever."
Anakin's expression became rather pinched. "Stop that. Stop giving me those eyes."
Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. "Those eyes?"
"You know what I mean," Anakin said with a snort. "It will not work, Obi-Wan. Not this time."
Obi-Wan's lips folded into what Kix could only describe as a pout.
Anakin's expression became even more pinched. "That won't work, either."
Obi-Wan didn't seem fazed. He cocked his head to the side and said thoughtfully, "If you don't allow me to accompany you, you know I'll just do it anyway--and get into danger without you there to protect me."
Kix smiled. General Kenobi could always talk circles around General Skywalker, and it appeared that hadn't changed with him becoming younger.
Anakin laughed. "You little menace."
"I resent that, Master," Obi-Wan said with a small smile, his eyes glinting with amusement. "I'm already as tall as my older self was."
"Exactly," Anakin said with a smirk, which made his padawan glare at him.
"That joke stopped being funny years ago, Master," he said with a huff.
Anakin's smirk only widened. He pressed his thumb against Obi-Wan's pursed mouth. "No, it hasn't, because your reaction to it is still the most adorable thing I have ever seen."
Kix cleared his throat.
The Jedi flinched and looked at him, surprise on their faces.
Kix suddenly felt uncomfortable for reasons he couldn't put his finger on.
He coughed a little. "Commander, you just said 'years ago.' Do you mean to say that you remember some of your older self's memories?"
Obi-Wan's brows furrowed. "Not... really. It's very confusing, to be honest." He chewed on his lip. "I feel like it's been years since Master first made that joke, but I don't actually remember those years." He grimaced, massaging his temples. "It gives me a headache when I try to focus on those memories, but it really feels like it's been years. I know it hasn't been, but it feels like it has."
Kix nodded thoughtfully and made a few notes on his datapad. "Healer Che said that phenomenon was likely. It feels strange to you because your brain has aged by three years since we started reversing the artifact's de-aging. You also have your older self's procedural memories now, so you feel older, and it's all confusing to you despite your knowing that it's been just three months instead of three years."
Obi-Wan was still frowning as he nodded.
Anakin put a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Are you sure you don't want to stop doing this?" he said, looking Obi-Wan in the eye. "Your training is progressing well. You don't need to do it anymore."
Obi-Wan shook his head. "There are just two procedures left," he said. Glancing at Kix, he lowered his voice a little, but Kix could still hear him. "I'd like to be considered an adult, so that the Republic officials and Admirals take me more seriously, Master."
A shadow crossed Anakin's face. Kix wasn't sure what that was about; there must be a story there.
"All right," Anakin said, to Kix's suprise. "I will take you with me when we make another attempt to destroy the droid factory."
Obi-Wan's answering smile was blinding.
Kix could only hope it was the right decision.
In and out, in and out.
Obi-Wan breathed evenly, trying to fall asleep.
In and out, in and out.
It didn't work. The faces of the dead clones were still imprinted behind his eyelids.
Eighty-nine people that had been alive this morning were now dead.
Obi-Wan bit the inside of his cheek hard, trying to rationalize with himself that it had hardly been the first time the clones had died during this campaign. But being there, being next to them as it happened, feeling them die, had changed everything. Made everything--the war--real.
His Master's sigh tore him out of his thoughts. Obi-Wan heard Anakin roll out of his bed and walk toward his.
He opened his eyes just as Anakin slipped between his sheets and wrapped an arm around him, pulling Obi-Wan back against his chest. "Stop thinking about it," he said. "Thinking about it all the time won't help, trust me. You did well today."
Obi-Wan stared at the dark wall opposite him. Did he?
"Does it get easier?" he whispered.
Anakin was silent for a while.
"Yes and no," he said at last. "Eventually, you will learn to compartmentalize it, but sometimes it still hits you hard." His voice became toneless. "You will still feel responsible, even if there was little you could have done to save them. You will still feel helpless. Powerless to stop death."
Obi-Wan frowned and covered Anakin's arm on his waist with his own. "It wasn't your fault, Master. You saved so many lives. You were incredible." He really had been. Anakin on the battlefield was a sight to behold--and downright scary. Now Obi-Wan understood why people called him Hero With No Fear.
Anakin sighed. "I still lost a lot of good men."
Obi-Wan winced. If feeling the deaths in the Force had been so difficult for him, he couldn't imagine what it must have felt like for Anakin, who knew his men so well.
"We did win the battle," Obi-Wan said, trying to focus on the bright side. "The factory is destroyed."
"One of many," Anakin said bitterly. "It feels like this war will never end. How many more of my men will I lose before this pointless war is over?"
Obi-Wan frowned. "Pointless? You don't believe in the Republic?"
Anakin didn't answer for a while. "I believe in it. I just don't think it's more important than people's lives."
"The Jedi are supposed to serve the Republic," Obi-Wan said slowly.
"The Jedi are supposed to serve its people," Anakin said. "Not the corrupt, useless politicians in the Senate, who do not care that people are dying while they're busy arguing with each other."
Obi-Wan considered it. Anakin's point of view made a lot of sense. But then again, he wasn't sure he could trust his judgment when his Master was wrapped around him, turning Obi-Wan's brain into a mushy, needy mess. It was becoming rather alarming, truth be told. His crush on his Master didn't seem to be going anywhere, no matter how old Obi-Wan got.
Obi-Wan pushed the thought away. Now wasn't the time to think about it.
"But if you do not believe in the Republic, then what do you believe in, Master?"
"I believe in people I love," Anakin said. "I believe in protecting them and keeping them safe." His arm tightened around Obi-Wan's waist, his face pressing against the side of Obi-Wan's neck.
Obi-Wan shivered as Anakin's mouth brushed against his oversensitive skin. The touch was likely accidental, but his body didn't care--it wanted. His body wanted to guide Anakin's hand lower until his Master wrapped his hand around Obi-Wan's aching length and took care of him.
The mere idea nearly made him moan, and Obi-Wan bit his lip hard.
"Whatever you are thinking about, it must be interesting," Anakin said wryly.
Obi-Wan flushed. "I do not know what you mean, Master."
Anakin gave a soft snort. "It's nothing to be ashamed of, Obi-Wan," he said, his voice full of amusement and affection. "I was sixteen not a long time ago, too."
Obi-Wan still felt beyond mortified. He tried to extract himself from Anakin's arms, but his Master didn't let him, his arm tightening. "It's fine, Padawan," Anakin said into his ear. "Don't be embarrassed. I don't care." His voice had a great deal of mirth now. "I remember getting aroused for no reason in completely inappropriate situations when I was sixteen."
"What situations?" Obi-Wan asked, curious despite himself.
Anakin laughed a little. "Master once got frustrated enough with me to make me meditate with Master Windu. But I couldn't focus on meditating--you know I'm crap at it--and instead I started thinking about the dream I had the previous night starring Aayla Secura, and got aroused, of course. Windu couldn't look me in the eye for months. It was hilarious."
Obi-Wan's lips twitched. But then he frowned. Aayla Secura? The twi-lek Master was undoubtedly gorgeous--curvy in all the right places--and the opposite of Obi-Wan in every way. Not that Obi-Wan had thought that his infatuation would ever be reciprocated, but it was still... a little disheartening to learn that Anakin preferred curvy females.
"What about your Master?" Obi-Wan finally found the courage to ask.
"Hmm? What about him?" Anakin sounded a little sleepy now.
"Have you ever... had inappropriate thoughts about him? Some padawans told me they had a crush on their Masters, and apparently, it's practically expected."
Obi-Wan was proud of himself for making it sound completely neutral, as if he didn't have a giant crush on his own Master.
Anakin chuckled. "Now that you mention it, I do remember getting aroused a few times during our sparring matches when I was thirteen or fourteen, but it was obviously just the friction. I never really thought of my Master that way. He was more of a father to me, though we obviously never talked about things like attachment." His voice became rather melancholic, and Obi-Wan winced. Making his Master sad was the last thing he had wanted.
"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan said awkwardly, interlacing their fingers.
Anakin sighed. "Not your fault, Obi-Wan," he said, his fingers brushing against Obi-Wan's bare stomach.
The slight touch made him shiver, his cock throbbing, and Obi-Wan bit his lip, beyond frustrated.
What is wrong with me? he thought angrily. Why couldn't he see Anakin as a father figure, too? All right, maybe not a father figure--their age difference wasn't big enough for that--but a brother figure. Why did he have these perverse desires for his own Master? Anakin didn't see him this way. If he ever found out how badly Obi-Wan wanted him--wanted Anakin's mouth and his hands on his body--their relationship would no doubt be ruined by awkwardness.
It was almost ironic. He finally had what he had always longed for: a kind Master who accepted him and cared for him deeply. But of course, Obi-Wan had to ruin it with his inappropriate lust.
Probably misinterpreting Obi-Wan's shame, Anakin squeezed their entwined fingers and kissed behind Obi-Wan's ear. "Not your fault," he repeated firmly. "I loved him as a father, but I love you, too."
Obi-Wan closed his eyes, marveling at how easily Anakin talked about love. But who do you really love? The man who raised you? Or the boy who replaced him?
As if sensing his doubts, Anakin said, "No. If by some freak accident my Master came back and you disappeared..." Anakin trailed off for a moment. "Part of me would be happy to have him back, of course--I do miss him--but..." His arm tightened around Obi-Wan's ribcage so much it was almost painful. "I can't even imagine anymore not having you with me. You're my Obi-Wan. Master was always the Jedi Order's first. You're mine."
The thought about the dangers of such possessive attachment crossed Obi-Wan's mind, but it felt distant, meaningless. It didn't seem to matter when his Master's fierce affection for him pulsed in their bond, spilling into Obi-Wan and warming him down to his toes.
"Master," he whispered, leaning back against Anakin's chest, the sides of their faces rubbing together. Obi-Wan almost moaned from how good it felt. It was pure bliss, Anakin's scent making him dizzy.
Anakin pulled him even tighter to himself, nuzzling into Obi-Wan's cheek. "I love you, my mini Obi-Wan," he said, his voice rough with emotion.
Obi-Wan didn't bother telling him that he was now as tall as his older self was; at this point, it was just a term of endearment.
"Say it," Anakin said. Ordered. Pleaded.
Obi-Wan swallowed. His voice barely above a whisper, he finally said those forbidden words for the first time, "I love you, too, Master."
Anakin's happiness flooded their bond in a tidal wave, sweeping away his reservations and shame. Obi-Wan basked in it, pulling Anakin's Force signature deeper inside himself until they were so entangled he wasn't sure where he ended and his Master began.
At the back of his mind, a voice tried to warn him once again that they were too co-dependent at this point, that there should be boundaries, that such deep attachment led to the Dark Side, that sooner or later, this would blow up in their faces, but Obi-Wan couldn't bring himself to care.
If today's battle had taught him anything, it was that life was a very fragile thing. They both could die any day. Enjoying rare moments of peace and happiness with the person he loved couldn't possibly be wrong. It may not be the Jedi way, but the Jedi way seemed distant and irrelevant when they were so far away from the Temple. How many months would pass before they saw Coruscant again? If they ever saw it again.
"Stay with me tonight," he said quietly. "I don't want to be alone, Master." I need you.
Sighing, Anakin squeezed his fingers. "Of course, Obi-Wan." He brushed his lips against Obi-Wan's hair. "Sleep. I'll be here if you need me."
Sometimes Obi-Wan couldn't believe how naive he had been.
Chronologically, it might have been just months, but not only did it feel like it had been years, but it felt like the young teenager that had stepped on board of the Resolute II months ago was a different person entirely.
Obi-Wan remembered that boy looking forward to finally being allowed to participate in battles, but now the mere thought of a battle--another battle--made Obi-Wan feel weary beyond his years.
The truth was, the war was horrifying, exhausting, and mentally draining. It changed him. It made Obi-Wan age in ways the artificial reversal of his de-aging could never have done alone.
He'd seen hundreds of people die, had seen the horrors of the war, the devastation it brought to the planets and people. He'd seen mothers sob as they clutched their dead children, had seen grown men weep as they lost their limbs, had seen clones hold their dying brothers and tell them that they were good soldiers, as if that made their life meaningful, as if they hadn't been born for the war just to die in that war, like cannon fodder, not people with their emotions and dreams.
Battle after battle, a swarm of droids that seemed to be never-ending, blood, gore, and death: it all was incredibly disheartening. By the end of a day, all Obi-Wan wanted was to crawl into his bed and sleep without dreams. Except sleep didn't come easily to him, no matter how exhausted he felt. He could sleep only if he had his Master's arms around him and Anakin's even breathing against his ear. It made him feel safe and grounded, reminding him that they both were alive and had each other.
Obi-Wan would feel guilty about it--about being so dependent and needy--except he could sense that Anakin took comfort in having him close, too.
They slept more nights together than they slept apart.
Some nights, Anakin was in a talkative mood and shared with him stories of his padawan days. Obi-Wan listened to them with mixed feelings: although he no longer thought that Anakin would have preferred to have his older self back instead of him, hearing Anakin talk about their shared adventures still made him feel strange. But he wanted to know everything about his Master, so he listened. He listened, threading his fingers through Anakin's curls.
Some nights were worse than others. Those nights usually came after a hard battle and too many lives lost. On those nights, Anakin didn't even bother with the pretense of them sleeping in separate beds; he took Obi-Wan's hand and pulled him toward his own bed as soon as they reached their quarters.
Obi-Wan both hated and loved those nights. He hated them because it was just Anakin's way to distract them from the horrible day they'd had, and loved them because Anakin was incredibly affectionate on those nights. He would kiss Obi-Wan's cheek and murmur that he loved him. He would press their foreheads together and let Obi-Wan breathe in his intoxicating scent. He would kiss Obi-Wan on the nose and tell him how glad he was that he had him. He would come up with increasingly ridiculous nicknames for Obi-Wan and they would laugh together, their pain and exhaustion forgotten.
Some nights, they didn't talk. Some nights, Anakin just held him so tightly Obi-Wan could barely breathe. They never really spoke about it anymore, but Obi-Wan knew Anakin had a deep fear of losing people he loved--and only holding Obi-Wan for a long time seemed to soothe him. Those nights were quiet, but they were Obi-Wan's favorite. They didn't really need to talk anymore to understand each other. It felt like these days they were one person in two bodies, linked in ways Obi-Wan couldn't explain.
Such codependency was extremely unwise; Obi-Wan was perfectly aware of that. Masters and Padawans were not supposed to be so close. There had to be boundaries, boundaries Anakin was supposed to set between them. But either Anakin wasn't good at setting boundaries or he wasn't good at setting boundaries with Obi-Wan.
But as unwise as it was, Obi-Wan could see how much sharing a bed with him helped his Master: Anakin seemed less stressed in the Force, the dark circles under his eyes a lot less obvious, and he carried himself in a more relaxed manner than he used to. It made Obi-Wan want to preen, because he was the one responsible for it. He was being a good padawan for Anakin.
Or was he?
One night, Obi-Wan asked Anakin if his relationship with his first padawan was like that, too.
It startled a laugh out of Anakin. "Not really. I think I hugged Snips three or four times in all the years I was her Master. Our relationship wasn't really the hugging kind. I called her Snips for a reason."
Obi-Wan's couldn't help but feel pleased, but he was confused, too. Why was their relationship so different, then?
"What about when you were the padawan?" Obi-Wan said.
That made Anakin laugh again, but this time it sounded a little strained. "Definitely not. My Master... In all the years I've known him, he's never hugged me once, Obi-Wan. I hugged him a few times, but he was always so stiff, as if I was doing something wrong, so I tried not to do it often."
Obi-Wan frowned. "Perhaps he wasn't the hugging sort of person?" he tried, acutely aware of how unconvincing it sounded. "You said he was a perfect Jedi."
Anakin snorted. "I've seen him hug other people numerous times. He hugged them easily enough. But never me."
Obi-Wan chewed on his lip, considering it. Everything Anakin had told him about his relationship with his older self--about Obi-Wan's distance and lack of affection for him--felt wrong. Deep in his heart, he could feel that it was wrong, that his older self had been as attached to Anakin as Obi-Wan was. Obi-Wan might be younger than Anakin's Master had been, but Obi-Wan was still the same person. He couldn't believe he wouldn't care deeply for Anakin if he were older.
"Master," he said, taking Anakin's hand and threading their fingers together. "Have you ever considered that perhaps my older self was scared to show you much affection? Perhaps he felt like it made him a lesser Jedi? Casually hugging friends is one thing. But attachment is forbidden."
Anakin laughed a little, his bitterness very clear in the Force. "It's nice of you to say that, but my Master wasn't attached to me, Obi-Wan. I'm sure he was somewhat fond of me, but he definitely wasn't attached. If he were, he would actually think about my feelings before pretending to be dead for a kriffing mission."
Obi-Wan winced. He still couldn't understand how his counterpart could have done that to Anakin, knowing about Anakin's deepest fears.
"I do not know why he did it," Obi-Wan admitted. "But I do know that he and I are essentially the same person, and I cannot imagine not... you know what I mean, Master." He blushed. Those words still felt so forbidden. He wasn't like Anakin. It was still difficult for him to say them.
Anakin squeezed his fingers, leaning in to drop a kiss to Obi-Wan's cheek. "I know what you mean and thank you," he said, nuzzling into the side of Obi-Wan's face. "I love you, too, Padawan mine."
Obi-Wan felt his face become warm again. No matter how many times Anakin had said those words, they thrilled him every time. He knew Anakin didn't mean the words that way--Obi-Wan wasn't sure himself in what way he meant them--but Anakin's words still meant the world to him. No one had ever loved him before Anakin.
Anakin smiled and kissed him on the nose. "You are ridiculously endearing when you blush," he said with a soft, amused smile.
Obi-Wan scrunched up his nose and glared at him half-heartedly. "I'm not 'endearing,' Master. I am sixteen, not a youngling."
Anakin laughed, tapping him on the nose. "As I said, endearing. Younglings are not the only things that can be endearing. Obi-Wans can, too."
Giving his Master an unimpressed look, Obi-Wan turned his back to him and switched the lights off with a careful application of the Force. "Good night, Master," he said pointedly. When Anakin didn't move, Obi-Wan said, "You may hold me."
Anakin chuckled and wrapped himself around Obi-Wan from behind, his body big, hot, and comfortingly familiar by now. Force, it felt so good. Obi-Wan was kind of dreading their return to the Temple. He had become used to this--too used, perhaps.
At this point, Obi-Wan had trouble imagining sleeping without his Master's firm body wrapped around him.
The thought was alarming.
At first, the Battle of Ringo Vindal seemed little different from the battles before it. The days bled into each other, and Obi-Wan was a little ashamed to admit that he kept losing track of where they were fighting and why.
The small difference was, this time the twin Jedi Masters Tiplee and Tiplar joined their forces as they attempted to retake the space station.
But what started as a routine military operation turned into a tradegy as one of their own men, a clone nicknamed "Tup," attacked Master Tiplar and killed her for seemingly no reason.
Obi-Wan hadn't witnessed it--he had been with Anakin, leading their men to the command center through a different corridor--but he was there for the fallout. Master Tiplee was understandably devastated by her sister's death, and Obi-Wan could only stare at her helplessly, unsure what to say.
"Why did you do that?" Anakin growled at Tup, his confusion, anger, and betrayal pulsing in the Force.
The clone looked at his General with a strange, torn expression. "I...Good soldiers follow orders."
Obi-Wan frowned. "What do you mean?" he said, taking a step toward the clone.
Tup's unfocused gaze shifted to him and became blank. "Good soldiers follow orders," he repeated before suddenly lunging for the discarded blaster on the floor and firing it at Obi-Wan's head.
It happened to fast Obi-Wan hadn't had the time to react.
But Anakin thrust his hand forward and stopped the blaster shot in the air--
And then there was chaos. Between one blink and another, Anakin slammed Tup against the wall with the Force and squeezed his fist, his blue eyes blazing with rage. Tup started choking.
Obi-Wan grabbed Anakin's arm. "Master, no!"
Anakin didn't even seem to hear him, the Force around him getting darker. Tup started losing consciousness, his face turning blue.
Desperate, Obi-Wan reached to Anakin through their bond. "Master, stop! Let him go, Anakin! Please, you are scaring me."
Anakin froze. Tup fell to the floor like a sack of rocks; other clones rushed toward him and restrained him.
"Take him to the brig," Anakin bit off before turning to Obi-Wan. His gaze roamed over him, dark and worried. "Are you all right?"
"Are you?" Obi-Wan said, gazing at him searchingly.
Anakin grimaced, looking a little sheepish. "Sorry about that. I didn't want to scare you."
Obi-Wan frowned. Knowing Anakin's history, it worried him very much that his Master could lose himself to anger--to darkness--so easily. Granted, both times Anakin had snapped because his loved ones had been killed--or almost killed. Still, it was a cause of concern. Something to keep an eye on.
They both flinched and looked at Master Tiplee. She was frowning, a disturbed expression on her face. "You understand that I will have to report this to the Council, of course," she said. "I do not know what's going with you and your troops, but what I was a witness to is alarming."
Anakin's jaw clenched. "My troops are the best in the Army," he ground out. "What happened to your sister was unfortunate--you have my condolences, Master--but I assure you, it was an isolated incident. I will investigate it personally."
Master Tiplee raised her eyebrows, glancing at Obi-Wan. "Perhaps it would be for the best if you didn't investigate it personally, Skywalker. You can hardly be objective on the matter."
Obi-Wan looked away, his face warm, even though he wasn't the one who had been rebuked. He suddenly thought of Master Yoda's words.
Dangerously unstable, Knight Skywalker is. Losing his first padawan, a wound inflicted upon him. Losing his former Master, another wound it was. Gave you to him I, in the hope that keep him in the Light you will.
Obi-Wan bit the inside of his cheek.
Was he helping his Master or was he making the problem worse?
As expected, the Council was disturbed by Master Tiplee's report. They ordered Anakin to send Tup back to Kamino and return to Coruscant--much earlier than expected.
Obi-Wan received his scheduled aging procedure a day before their return to Coruscant--the decision Obi-Wan was starting to regret. He was beginning to realize he should have waited until their arrival.
He did feel a little more functional as the day progressed, but he still didn't exactly feel at his best when they arrived. He tried to hide it from his Master, but it seemed he had failed, because Anakin was hovering protectively by his side, as if he was afraid Obi-Wan would fall and he wouldn't be there to catch him.
Obi-Wan hid his smile. It was rather adorable how hard Anakin was trying to tone down his overprotectiveness. He hadn't asked whether Obi-Wan was all right even once so far, which was something of a record for him.
A flash of a holocamera made Obi-Wan freeze.
Anakin immediately stepped in front of him, making himself the focus of the reporters.
Obi-Wan blinked in bewilderment before remembering how famous they were, even more so since Obi-Wan had gotten mysteriously de-aged four months ago and was now a seventeen-year-old padawan instead of a thirty-eight-year-old Jedi Master.
"No comment," Anakin said curtly, cutting off the reporters' questions. Laying a hand on Obi-Wan's lower back, he steered him away.
They managed to leave the crowd of paparazzi far behind, but before they could reach Anakin's speeder, a female voice called out, "Ani!"
Anakin came to a halt and looked around the spaceport before his gaze stopped on a beautiful woman half-hidden behind the column. Anakin smiled at her, but hesitated when she beckoned him toward her.
Obi-Wan's brows drew together. "Who is that?"
Anakin looked back at him, some emotion flickering in his eyes. Uncertainty? Doubt? But then something like resolve settled over his features.
"I will tell you later, all right?" he said quietly. "I need to talk to her now for a bit. Can you wait for me, or would you rather return to the Temple right now? You can take my speeder."
Obi-Wan glanced back at the woman--she was watching them curiously--before looking back at his Master. "I would normally wait for you while you talk to her, but..." He sighed. "My muscles are still really sore, so I think I would rather go to the Temple."
Anakin's expression changed into one of worry. "If you don't feel well, I will go with you. I can talk to her later."
Obi-Wan shook his head with a wry smile. "It's all right, Master. I think I can manage the few steps I need to take to your speeder."
Anakin was still frowning.
Stepping closer, he cradled Obi-Wan's face with his hands and leaned their foreheads together. "Be careful, all right? Comm me when you safely get to the Temple."
Obi-Wan's chest warmed with overwhelming affection. Running his fingers through Anakin's wild curls, he whispered, "All right."
Anakin started pulling away, and suddenly, Obi-Wan's stomach plummeted as he realized that they would be away from each other for the first time in months, in what felt like years. No. He needed--he wanted--
Obi-Wan closed the small distance between their faces and brushed his lips against his Master's.
Anakin went still.
Finally we get Anakin's POV! But please keep in mind that Anakin is a Mess. Even his POV is somewhat unreliable. There are things he's in denial about, things he refuses to admit even to himself, and things that he honestly thinks are normal (when they are not).
The touch of Obi-Wan's mouth was feather-soft, barely there, and yet it made Anakin feel like the ground was moving under his feet.
His padawan had just kissed him.
His padawan had just kissed him in front of his wife.
Ironically and somewhat amusingly, the first thought that crossed his mind was, What would his Master do in a situation like this?
Anakin almost laughed. For one thing, Obi-Wan would have never gotten into a situation like this. His Master had had a single padawan--him--and Anakin had certainly never kissed his Master on the lips.
Besides, Anakin could guess what his Master would have done if he were in Anakin's shoes: he would push his padawan away, give him a disappointed look, and lecture him on the Jedi way and dangers of attachment. That was probably what any good Jedi would do in this situation.
Except Anakin had never exactly been a good Jedi. He couldn't care about some kriffing rules and codes more than he cared about people.
He couldn't hurt Obi-Wan. Not his Obi-Wan.
Considering Padmé's presence, all Anakin could do was act as though it wasn't a big deal and nothing extraordinary had just happened.
And it hadn't. There were plenty of people who kissed each other on the mouth as a sign of affection, nothing more. Not that Anakin necessarily believed that to be the case for Obi-Wan, but right now he needed to act as though he believed it.
Giving Obi-Wan a short hug, Anakin brushed his lips against his cheek. "Don't wait for me. If the Council looks for me, tell them I'll give them my report in the morning, all right?"
When he pulled back, there was confusion in Obi-Wan's eyes, but he nodded. He was also blushing, looking a little mortified by his actions already.
Anakin forced a smile for his sake, wanting to make sure Obi-Wan knew he wasn't angry with him. And he really wasn't. Never mind that Obi-Wan's chaste kiss had landed Anakin in a world of trouble with his wife, if the disapproval and angry disbelief that were rolling off Padmé were any indication.
"Go," Anakin said, handing Obi-Wan the key to his speeder.
He watched Obi-Wan climb into his speeder and take off. Anakin smiled at the very conservative manner Obi-Wan drove it--just like his older self had. It seemed some things never changed.
His smile dropped as the speeder disappeared out of his sight. It felt... strange not to have Obi-Wan where he could see him or sense him after living in each other's pockets for months.
Pushing his unease away, Anakin finally turned toward his wife.
The withering look Padmé gave him made Anakin wince. Not exactly the happy reunion he had been looking forward to.
Sighing, he followed Padmé toward her aircraft at a safe distance, already weary of the conversation before it even started.
He got into the aircraft and sat opposite Padmé while her droid took them off.
They stared at each other.
It had been months since the Resolute had left for the Outer Rim, so Anakin drank in the sight of her, wishing their first meeting after so long wasn't an angry one.
"What was that?" she finally said, her voice sharp.
Anakin reached out and took her hands into his own. "Come on, angel. It was nothing. Just an innocent kiss-"
Padmé chuckled harshly. "Ani, it's not even about that kiss! Are you blind? Obi-Wan is absolutely besotted with you! The way he looks at you--"
"He loves me," Anakin said, his defensiveness rising. "What is wrong with love? Take your mind out of the gutter. He's my padawan."
Padmé stared at him incredulously. "And? It doesn't make him a child. I didn't see a child there. I saw a young man who knows what he wants."
"He's seventeen," Anakin bit out, starting to get irritated.
"And?" Padmé said again, raising her brows. "He's just five years younger than you, the same age difference we have!"
Anakin furrowed his brows. He had never really thought of it that way. Truth be told, he had never seen his padawan as a child, but he had never thought of him as a man, either. Ever since Obi-Wan had hugged him all those months ago, he was just his Obi-Wan. His age didn't matter to him.
Obi-Wan had always been a very mature teenager, and they had been friends from the beginning, so it wasn't as though Anakin truly registered that Obi-Wan had grown up beyond noticing the physical changes in him. In some ways, Obi-Wan had always been the mature one out of the two of them. He was definitely wiser than Anakin had been at that age.
Still, Padmé had to be wrong. Obi-Wan wasn't... besotted with him.
"He's seventeen," Anakin repeated faintly, not knowing what else to say.
Padmé huffed. "Did you see yourself as a child when you were seventeen? You were just two years older than him when we got married, Ani. I ruled a planet when I was much younger than him. Age is just a number. If he's old enough to fight in a war, he is old enough to have feelings."
Anakin averted his gaze. "He just has a little crush. I have been told most padawans have a crush on their Masters at some point. It'll pass."
"Did you have a crush on your Master?"
Anakin laughed a little. "That would have been weird, considering that I saw him as a father figure. I wanted his love, but not that kind of love. Not that it mattered--I didn't get any kind."
Padmé's eyes softened. "Oh Ani. Obi-Wan loved you."
Anakin shrugged and looked away again. He didn't want to listen to Padmé platitudes on the subject--they always felt like platitudes, because Padmé hadn't known his Master well. They had been friendly enough, but his Master had always been unfailingly polite with her, the picture of a perfect Jedi. Anakin wasn't sure how she even deduced that Obi-Wan had loved him from that.
"Anyway, the situation is obviously different," Anakin said, his gaze on their joined fingers. He suddenly had a strange thought that Padmé's hands were smaller and softer than he remembered. They fit awkwardly in his.
Shaking the thought off, Anakin continued. "Our age difference isn't big enough for Obi-Wan to think of me as a father figure, so obviously he's just confusing the strong bond between us with romantic feelings. That is all."
"Then tell him that," Padmé said. "Don't encourage him."
Anakin frowned and glared at her. "I'm not encouraging him."
Padme pursed her lips. "Aren't you? From what I have seen, you seem to have forgotten the meaning of personal space between you two, Ani. You may not mean it, but kissing him on the cheek and touching him all the time will not exactly help Obi-Wan get over his 'crush.' Far from it."
"What are you suggesting?" Anakin said, his frustration making his voice sharper. He let go of Padmé hands and raked his fingers through his hair. "Do you want me to hurt my padawan?"
Her expression softened. "Of course not, Ani. It is not his fault. But you should reject him--gently--instead of inadvertently encouraging his crush. No one has died from an unrequited crush yet. In fact, it's normal for teenagers to have them."
Their aircraft stopped and Padmé got out.
It took Anakin a moment to follow her, his mind a mess of contradictory thoughts and wants. He wanted to appease Padmé and make her smile at him, but what she wanted from him--to make Obi-Wan feel unloved and upset--made everything inside Anakin seethe. He couldn't do it.
When they entered her apartment, Padmé sighed upon seeing his stubborn expression. "Look, Ani, I don't want to fight. I was so happy when I heard you were coming home. I thought it would be a happy day for us." She smiled hesitantly. "I have news."
"What news?" Anakin said distractedly. How could he make Padmé understand that there was nothing wrong with his relationship with Obi-Wan?
Anakin stared at her. The words registered, but his brain seemed unable to process them.
"That's... that's wonderful," he managed finally, forcing a smile. He was happy, of course he was, it was just that he couldn't focus on anything but the problem at hand right now.
But when Padmé's face fell, Anakin felt like the worst piece of bantha fodder. "I'm happy, angel," he said, pulling her into his arms and kissing the top of her head. "It really is wonderful." He smiled more genuinely, thinking about having a child, maybe a little girl, who would love him unconditionally. He would like that. Anakin could already imagine Obi-Wan holding his child and pulling funny faces at it when no one was looking. Anakin knew Obi-Wan had a soft spot for children--both Obi-Wans did.
Smiling, Anakin squeezed Padmé in his arms. "Thank you. I love you." He kissed her tenderly, a little surprised that he didn't feel as desperate and hungry for her as he usually did after a long time apart. But then again, Anakin supposed it made sense. He was usually so touch-starved when he was away from her, but this time his tactile needs had been completely satisfied by all the hugs and cuddles he'd gotten lately, so it probably made sense that the desperate hunger he usually felt for her wasn't there.
But Padmé clearly felt differently, her body surging against him in a way that wasn't subtle at all. Anakin laughed and, lifting her, carried her toward the bedroom.
Anakin stared at the ceiling of Padmé's bedroom, wide awake despite the late hour.
He couldn't sleep.
It wasn't even the nightmares, for once. There was strange anxiety under his skin, a gnawing need deep in his soul that refused to go away even though he felt physically tired after hours of making love to his wife.
Kark, what was wrong with him? He was finally with his angel after months apart. They were together at last and they were going to have a child. A real family. Something he had always craved.
So why did he still feel like this? Why couldn't he be kriffing satisfied?
Anakin heaved a sigh. He knew why, of course. How could he not, when he had been thinking about Obi-Wan for hours? Kriffing hell. It had been just a few hours. He could manage without seeing Obi-Wan for a few more hours. He shouldn't be fixating on the fact that Obi-Wan hadn't messaged him after getting to the Temple. Obi-Wan was fine, safe in the Temple. Anakin had checked--twice. He'd traced his speeder's signal to the Temple's hangar bay, and when it hadn't seemed like enough, he messaged Healer Che, who confirmed that Obi-Wan had recieved a full physical upon arrival at the Temple and his readings were within the normal range. Obi-Wan was fine. Obi-Wan was safe. He had nothing to worry about.
For kriff's sake. It was pointless. No matter what Anakin told himself, it didn't work: part of him was still convinced that something was wrong.
He had a bad feeling in his gut.
What if Obi-Wan felt worse than his physical indicated? It wouldn't be the first time Obi-Wan--both Obi-Wans-- had lied to the healers in order to escape the Halls of Healing.
Even if Obi-Wan was fine physically, what about his emotional state? What if he was embarrassed or upset over what had happened at the spaceport? What if he thought Anakin was angry at him? What if he was hurt by his lack of reaction?
You are obsessing, Anakin, his inner voice chided him in a tone that sounded depressingly like his former Master's. The problem is, you have made your padawan your emotional anchor, and now you feel anchorless away from him. Good job, Anakin.
Anakin clenched his jaw, his face heating. But he couldn't deny that he really had been leaning emotionally on his padawan. Lately, he had noticed that he felt significantly more relaxed when he was around Obi-Wan, the ever-present noise in his head curiously absent. Obi-Wan made him feel lighter on the inside. Better. Obi-Wan made him want to be a better man and a better Jedi. Obi-Wan could calm him down when nothing else could. Anakin could still remember the overwhelming, burning rage he had felt as he choked the life out of Tup, the powerful need to hurt, to kill, to destroy what had threatened his. And yet somehow, Obi-Wan had been able to reach him and banish the angry haze from his mind simply by telling him that Anakin was scaring him.
But having Obi-Wan as his emotional anchor didn't entirely explain how on edge he was feeling.
He shouldn't need Obi-Wan close to be able to fall sleep. He shouldn't be thinking about him non-stop--it just made him more frustrated and worked up. He couldn't exactly leave his wife in the middle of the night to check on his padawan. It was his first night back. Padmé wouldn't understand.
He had to stay put. He would see Obi-Wan in the morning.
But what if... what if Obi-Wan couldn't sleep, either? What if Obi-Wan felt sore and uncomfortable after his recent exposure to the artifact?
What if Obi-Wan needed him?
The thought was like a jolt to his heart, wiping away all his doubts. Padmé didn't need him. She was perfectly healthy and in her own home. Obi-Wan did need him. He likely still didn't feel well, and he was probably upset, and needed Anakin to make it better. It was Anakin's duty as Obi-Wan's Master to make sure his padawan was well, wasn't it?
Anakin rolled off the bed. He reached for his clothes and quickly dressed, glad that he'd already taken the shower after their activities.
He left a message on Padmé's comlink, telling her that he decided to return to the Temple in case the Council looked for him, which, strictly speaking, wasn't a lie.
But immediately, Anakin felt a twinge of guilt. It was still a lie. After a moment of thought, he deleted the message and left another one, telling her that he was returning to the Temple because he was worried for his padawan.
Why should he lie? He had nothing to be ashamed of, after all.
Whether she liked it or not, but Obi-Wan was very important to him too and Padmé would have to learn to accept it and stop being so unreasonable about Obi-Wan. Anakin didn't blame his angel; she was just poorly informed. She didn't know Obi-Wan--just like she hadn't known Anakin's Master well enough and yet she had opinions she wasn't qualified to give.
It irritated Anakin a little, if he was honest. Obi-Wan was his padawan. He didn't tell Padmé how she should do her duties in the Senate; why did she feel like she could interfere into the Jedi part of Anakin's life? It was only fair if they kept the other parts of their lives separate from their marriage.
Pulling on his boots, Anakin glanced back at Padmé sleeping form. He smiled fondly and pulled the covers higher so she wouldn't get cold before slipping out of the room.
The taxi ride to the Temple seemed excruciatingly long. Anakin drummed his fingers over his knee in impatience, feeling jittery and anxious. He was also tired as hell; his eyes felt like they were full of sand. Dawn was just a few hours away.
Finally, the taxi arrived. Anakin jumped out of it and strode toward Obi-Wan's old rooms before changing direction as he realized that he could sense Obi-Wan's Force signature in the other part of the Temple--where Anakin's own quarters were.
Feeling now glad that he had keyed Obi-Wan into his quarters' security settings before leaving for the Outer Rim, Anakin walked faster.
At last, he entered his room and came to an abrupt halt. His chest warmed with affection when he saw Obi-Wan sleeping on top of the covers, a datapad in his hand. He must have been waiting up for Anakin, despite Anakin telling him not to, before his exhaustion got the better of him.
He stared at his sleeping form, noticing with some surprise that Obi-Wan really was on the verge of adulthood. He looked barely different from the young Knight that had taken Anakin on as his padawan all those years ago.
The memory made Anakin's throat close up. Force, he missed his Master. But at the same time, he couldn't imagine his life without his Obi-Wan. He didn't know what he would do if he lost him. The mere thought made his chest tight with panic.
Pushing Obi-Wan into a deeper sleep with a nudge of the Force, Anakin carefully tugged off Obi-Wan's boots and removed the outer layers of Obi-Wan's Jedi tunics, smiling fondly at the sheer amount of them. Some things really didn't change.
After making certain that Obi-Wan was somewhat comfortable, Anakin undressed and slipped into the bed.
He slung an arm around Obi-Wan's waist and pressed his face against the back of his neck. He breathed in deeply, and felt his body relax, the maddening tension under his skin finally dissipating. He was finally where he was supposed to be.
Obi-Wan made a sleepy noise, leaning back into into him. "Master?"
"Shhh, sleep, sweetheart," Anakin murmured, kissing the side of Obi-Wan's neck and inhaling his scent greedily. Force, he smelled so nice. Like everything good in the world. Like home. "I'm back."
"I thought you were angry with me," Obi-Wan said, still sounding half-alseep, but his uncertainty was obvious.
Anakin's heart clenched. So Obi-Wan had been worrying about it. He should have come home earlier.
"Never," Anakin promised, tightening his arm around him. "There's nothing you can do to make me angry with you." Anakin kissed the back of Obi-Wan's head and closed his eyes, breathing him in. "Go back to sleep, love. We'll talk tomorrow." Frankly, he wasn't looking forward to that talk. He wanted to enjoy this while he could, because he had no idea if...
Anakin's stomach twisted with dread and he pulled Obi-Wan closer to him.
He felt Obi-Wan's mind reach out toward him through their bond, and Anakin met him halfway, their Force signatures intertwining tightly like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Anakin exhaled shakily and slid deeper inside Obi-Wan's mind. Force, he had never felt closer to another person. At that moment, Obi-Wan was everything.
Humming sleepily in contentment, Obi-Wan took Anakin's hand and laced their fingers together too.
They fit perfectly.
"All right, that's enough. Obi-Wan."
Reluctantly, Obi-Wan opened his eyes and looked up at Anakin. "I was meditating, Master," he said pointedly.
Anakin gave a laugh and sat down opposite him. "No, you weren't. I know what you feel like when you are deep in meditation, and that wasn't it. You were pretending to be in meditation when I woke up, and I was gone for hours to get chewed out by the Council, but you're still 'meditating.'" His smile dropped, his expression becoming serious. "We can't avoid this conversation forever." Anakin gave him a rueful smile. "I probably would avoid it, too, to be honest, but I can't stand this awkwardness between us."
I can't stand not feeling close to you, came a thought through their bond.
Anakin winced, clearly not intending for Obi-Wan to overhear that.
Obi-Wan swallowed and dropped his gaze. He looked at his hands, feeling painfully awkward. He still wasn't sure what had possessed him to kiss Anakin yesterday, but it was very obvious it hadn't been welcome.
"There is nothing to discuss, Master," Obi-Wan said stiffly. "What I did was... uncalled for. I know what you are going to say, and I agree. I shouldn't have done it. It is not the Jedi way. There is no emotion; there is peace." He bit his bottom lip, fighting a blush. "There is no passion; there is serenity."
"Obi-Wan. Look at me."
He forced himself to look at his Master. Anakin was gazing at him intently, a deep frown on his face. "If I said that, I would be the biggest hypocrite in the Order. Maybe that makes me a bad Jedi, but I can't be angry with you for having feelings."
Obi-Wan looked around the room, unable to look Anakin in the eye. "But you can't return them," he stated.
Anakin's jaw worked. Obi-Wan could feel his frustration as if it were his own.
"Obi-Wan, I don't mind," he said at last.
Frowning, Obi-Wan looked back at him. "You do not mind?" he repeated slowly, confused.
Anakin nodded, giving him a smile that seemed both forced and desperately genuine. "Weren't you the one who told me that most padawans have a crush on their Master at some point? I really don't mind. It's harmless."
Obi-Wan's stomach dropped.
He didn't know why his Master's dismissal of his feelings made him feel worse. It was good that Anakin wasn't making a big deal out of it, that he wasn't angry or disappointed with him.
But his chest felt awfully tight. At that moment, these feelings didn't feel harmless at all. His heart ached. It felt like a deep, old wound, one that he couldn't explain.
"You don't have to placate me, Master," Obi-Wan managed, looking down at his folded hands in his lap. "Thank you for not being angry with me. I am... glad. I promise you that I will not force my... affections on you anymore."
Anakin reached out and took his hands into his. "Sweetheart, don't do this," he said in a soft voice, blue eyes fixed on him with scary intensity. "You know I love you." He brought Obi-Wan's fingers to his mouth and nuzzled into them. Kissed them, one by one, making them tremble. "I love you so much."
Obi-Wan almost hated Anakin at that moment. He could feel the sincerity of Anakin's words through their bond--he was loved--but it wasn't enough.
Not when Anakin's words still rang in his ears.
If I said that, I would be the biggest hypocrite in the Order.
Considering the beautiful woman that had called his Master "Ani" and the fact that Anakin had been gone until the dawn, it wasn't difficult to put two and two together.
"You are in love with her, aren't you?" Obi-Wan whispered, his lips barely moving. "The woman at the spaceport. Who is she?"
He felt Anakin's hands tense--his entire body tense.
There was a long silence, Anakin's turbulent emotions filling their bond like a storm. There were too many for Obi-Wan to recognize all of them, but one was unmistakable: fear.
Obi-Wan braced himself, but he still felt completely blindsided when Anakin said hoarsely,
Obi-Wan stared. "Your... wife?" he heard himself whisper.
Anakin nodded, a muscle in his jaw twitching. "We married in secret three years ago. I'm sorry for not telling you sooner. No one knew. Even my Master didn't. It was a secret, but she's pregnant, so people will likely found out sooner rather than later."
Obi-Wan's chest felt so tight he could barely breathe. He couldn't breathe. Any delusions he'd had about his feelings being a simple crush were absolutely gone now. He felt like his soul had just been crushed.
He extracted his hands from Anakin's and hid them in the folds of his robe.
"Obi-Wan," Anakin said, reaching out for him again.
But Obi-Wan got to his feet, out of Anakin's reach. "I think it will be for the best if I return to the quarters my older self occupied," Obi-Wan said evenly, without meeting Anakin's gaze. "Masters and padawans are not required to share quarters."
"I apologize, Master," Obi-Wan said, looking at the door. "For trying to violate your marriage vows. I will apologize to your...wife too if I see her again."
"Don't," Anakin snapped, his desperation filling their bond in tidal waves. "You have nothing to apologize for. Please, Obi-Wan--"
"Master," Obi-Wan said, and there must have been something in his voice because Anakin fell silent.
"Please don't make this harder for me," Obi-Wan whispered, meeting Anakin's eyes. "I would like some distance between us while I deal with my... unacceptable emotions." And he brought his shields up--up and up and up, until he could no longer feel the bond between them.
Anakin paled, looking sick. "Don't do that. Please. Don't shut me out."
Obi-Wan bit his bottom lip. He... hated not feeling their bond too, hated not feeling his Master's presence inside him, but the mere fact that he hated it proved that he should have never allowed their bond to become so deep, so intimate, so essential.
If Anakin wasn't going to set some boundaries between them, Obi-Wan would have to do that for them.
"It clearly is for the best, Master," he said with forced calm. And avoiding his Master's gaze, Obi-Wan all but ran out of Anakin's rooms, his heart aching with every step he took.
The strangest part was, this feeling, this heartache didn't feel new. Part of his soul recognized it like an old friend, echoing the feeling back at him, and Obi-Wan had a sneaking suspicion what that meant as his mind went back to what Healer Che had told him yesterday.
While your older self's memories will never return to you, there are indications that the artifact doesn't affect your Force signature--your soul, one might say--what makes you Obi-Wan Kenobi. It might mean that your older self's strongest beliefs and feelings will remain the same in you, no matter how old you are--probably suppressed, but there.
Obi-Wan entered his older self's quarters and looked around.
Nothing felt familiar. Nothing triggered a memory.
Undeterred, Obi-Wan started searching. There had to be something. There had to be something that would explain why this heartbreak felt so deep, why it felt so familiar. There had to be something.
He found it two hours later.
There was a wooden box hidden behind a panel in the closet. Inside it there was an unfamiliar lightsaber, the sight of which brought a twinge of sadness Obi-Wan couldn't explain. Could it be Master Qui-Gon's lightsaber?
Setting the lightsaber aside, Obi-Wan turned his attention to the other object in the box: a smaller black container.
He opened it.
Obi-Wan stared at the dark gold padawan braid before carefully setting it aside too.
The rest of the items in the box were pictures. Dozens of pictures. Some were candid, some were clearly taken by a professional for some official purpose.
All of them were of Anakin.
Anakin, laughing with his first padawan, sunlight catching in his hair. Anakin, looking incredibly dashing in his black dress robes and a silver jacket as he danced with some foreign official. Anakin, still with a padawan braid, doing katas, his muscles gleaming with sweat, his jaw set with determination.
They were not the kind of pictures one would keep of one's padawan. Obi-Wan could practically taste the desire, the want these pictures caused in his mouth as he stared at them. They were almost indecent.
He was like a father to me, but we've obviously never spoken about attachment.
He hasn't hugged me once.
I hugged him a few times, but he was always so stiff, as if I was doing something wrong, so I tried not to do it.
Obi-Wan closed his face with his hands and laughed. He laughed, and laughed, and laughed, an ugly, broken sound that seemed completely jarring in the silence of the room.
It was quite ironic, really.
Obi-Wan Kenobi had managed to fall in unrequited, inappropriate love with the same man twice: with his own padawan who considered him a father figure and with his own Master, who was a married man and soon-to-be father. Obi-Wan couldn't decide if he was the most unfortunate person in existence or the most pathetic.
His vision suddenly darkened, and time seemed to slow down, and then go faster, and faster, and faster, until Obi-Wan found himself drawn into a Force vision. He knew immediately it wasn't a vision of the future. It was a vision of the past.
It's strange. He doesn't feel like he's the Obi-Wan in the vision, but he knows what he's feeling. This Obi-Wan is in his early thirties, a strong Jedi Knight in his prime.
But the ancient woman is looking at him with endless pity as she lifts her gaze from his palm.
"That bad?" Obi-Wan says with a smile. "What do you see?"
A heavy hand lands on his shoulder. It's Anakin, of course. His seventeen-year-old padawan is never far from him. "Come on, Master. Do you really believe that bantha poodoo? Let's go. I'm hungry."
"You're always hungry, Anakin," Obi-Wan says, trying to keep his fondness out of his voice.
"I'll have you know, saving your life requires a lot of energy," Anakin says with a laugh.
His hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder feels like a brand. "Come on, Master."
Obi-Wan ignores him and meets the old woman's gaze. "Just tell me. What do you see?"
It's not that he necessarily believes in Fortune tellers, but he can feel that the old woman has a deep connection to the Unifying Force.
She stares at him with dark eyes and says, "Only sadness. Infinite sadness."
The vision faded and Obi-Wan snapped his eyes open, goosebumps crawling up his spine.
The seer's words had been laced with the Force, and Obi-Wan knew that at least in some other life they would have come true.
Some other life?
Obi-Wan chuckled harshly and bit the inside of his cheek hard, his eyes stinging. His throat ached, and his heart hurt. Everything hurt.
Anakin was married. Married and in love with that beautiful woman. They were going to have a child together.
Infinite sadness sounded about right.
When Padmé returned home, she was so tired that all she wanted was her bed. The frustrating part was, her day hadn't even been as busy and stressful as it usually was, but the child growing inside her seemed to sap all her energy.
She tried not to resent that, but on a day like this, she couldn't help but resent her pregnancy--and her wayward husband, who didn't have to feel exhausted all the time, and who hadn't even been home when she woke up in the morning.
Went to the Temple. I'm worried for Obi-Wan.
When she had seen that message, Padmé barely stopped herself from throwing her comlink at the wall.
How could he? His first night back in three months, and Anakin had left in the middle of the night? Just because he was apparently "worried" for his padawan, who was absolutely infatuated with him, no matter what Anakin said. Sometimes Anakin could be so blind--and so infuriating.
Padmé was still scowling as she entered her apartment--and nearly tripped over a droid part on the floor. "Ani!" she said exasperatedly but then froze as she saw Anakin surrounded by countless droid parts and tools. Her entire living room looked like a workshop. Anakin didn't even look up from the mechanism in his hands, his jaw clenched tightly and his expression dark.
She had seen that before. After his mother's death. After Ahsoka left the Order. After Obi-Wan was "killed" by Rako Hardeen. And most recently, after Anakin had been told that his Master was gone, forever, replaced by a teenage version of him who wouldn't even recognize him.
"What happened?" she said, her anger with him forgotten for a moment.
Anakin's jaw worked, his gaze still fixed on the droid part in his hands. Although Padmé wasn't Force-sensitive, even she could feel that there was something off about Anakin's aura, something dark and dangerous.
"What happened," he repeated flatly. "What happened is that I did what you wanted. I made Obi-Wan miserable. I made him hate me."
Padmé would have rolled her eyes at Anakin's penchant for drama--at times like this, she could feel the five years of age difference between them acutely--but she could sense it wasn't an emotional exaggeration this time. He was dead serious. His wide shoulders carried incredible tension in them. He was more than just upset. It was something else.
"Ani, I'm sure he doesn't hate you. He'll get over it--"
"Don't," he gritted out, glaring at the mechanism in his hands. "Just--leave me alone. Please. I don't want to lash out at you."
Padmé's heart sank, her stomach clenching in fear. In all the other times Anakin had been this upset, he had never turned her away. Never rejected her comfort. Never made her feel unwanted. She could feel the anger in him, and the most unsettling part was, she wasn't sure it wasn't directed at her.
It scared her.
She didn't know what to do--what to say.
Their marriage had never been all sunshine and roses. The constant need for secrecy, the rareness of them actually being in the same place, the lies they had to tell: it all inevitably put a strain on their relationship. It also didn't help that she didn't really understand the Jedi part of Anakin's life, and he didn't care for her work in the Senate.
But the bad had never outweighed the good before. They still had each other; they were the most important person in each other's life--that was the important part.
Now... she was no longer sure that was still the case. She couldn't reach him, couldn't feel him through the walls of anger, pain, and misery he had built around himself.
"Ani," she tried again.
Anakin shook his head, his jaw tightening. "Go to sleep, Padmé. You look tired." He glanced at her stomach and looked away. "I think the baby is Force-sensitive. It doesn't like being around me right now."
Padmé frowned and put her hand on her stomach. She was still barely showing, and she had trouble believing that the baby inside her could actually feel its father's Force presence enough to be bothered by it.
And what did that mean? That the baby was bothered by Anakin's Force presence? Was Anakin... was Ani turning dark?
Once again, Padmé found herself missing Obi-Wan--Jedi Master Obi-Wan. She used to contact him for advice when she didn't know how to handle Anakin. Obi-Wan had never even questioned why she was asking about Anakin--she was certain he knew about their love--and he always had something encouraging and helpful to say. His manner had always been so very soothing and kind. She could use Obi-Wan's kindness right now.
Glancing at Anakin for the last time, she went to her bedroom. It was probably telling that even after years of marriage, she didn't think of it as theirs.
She was so exhausted she fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow, but she slept fitfully, her anxiety affecting her dreams.
When she woke up, the sky was already brightening outside. She must have slept for over ten hours, but she felt like she hadn't slept at all.
Sighing, Padmé went through her morning routine and then left her bedroom to get herself something to drink--and eat. Now that she was pregnant, she needed to eat more regularly than she used to.
She didn't feel fully awake yet, which was probably why it took her a moment to register what she was seeing.
Anakin was where she had left him last evening, still working on some droid parts. There were dark circles under his eyes, and the agitation he was giving off seemed to have become worse since last evening.
"Have you slept at all?" she said.
He didn't answer. He didn't even look up. She wasn't sure he had even heard her, but then he said without looking at her, "Can't sleep."
Padmé frowned. She hadn't expected that his falling-out with his padawan would affect him so badly.
"Oh, Ani, I'm really sorry," she said with a sigh. "I know you didn't want to ruin your relationship with your padawan, but it was the right thing to do--"
"The right thing?" Anakin snapped, finally looking at her--glaring at her, his blue eyes red-rimmed. "Kark the right thing! You weren't there, you didn't see his face, you didn't feel how hurt he was."
Padmé felt a twinge of guilt, and it made her angry. She had nothing to feel guilty for. Anakin had no right to use this accusing tone, as if it all was her fault.
"Do you even hear yourself?" she said. "If I didn't tell you to do the right thing, what would you have done? Kept indulging him? Just let him kiss you whenever he wanted? Kissed him back because it would make him happy?"
Anakin went still. His expression was distant, but Padmé suddenly had a horrible thought that he was actually thinking about it--thinking about kissing his padawan.
"I don't know what I would have done," he said at last, his voice toneless. "But don't tell me hurting Obi-Wan was the right thing to do. It wasn't." He looked through the floor-to-ceiling window at Coruscant skyline.
She followed his gaze and realized he was looking at the Jedi Temple in the distance. There was such yearning in his eyes it made something in Padmé's chest twist.
When he met her gaze again, his eyes were dark and glistening. "He has blocked me out. I can't feel him at all, Padmé." His voice wavered. "It's just like when Master 'died'--there's only that kriffing silence--except so much worse, because Master has never let me in as deeply as Obi-Wan did, and now I feel like I'm drowning and don't know how to breathe. I feel like I'm slowly going insane without being able to feel him."
Padmé stared at him, more than a little disturbed.
She understood nothing about Force bonds, but she was reasonably sure that they didn't--shouldn't--make a person feel like that.
"What about Ahsoka?" she said. "You didn't feel that way when she left."
Anakin's lips twisted. "Snips was my first padawan and I loved her. But our bond wasn't even a pale shadow of the bond I have with Obi-Wan." He was still staring at the Jedi Temple, but his gaze was distant, unseeing. He wet his lips. "I can't even describe what my bond with Obi-Wan feels like. His mind is like... like cool, refreshing water after spending days in Tatooine heat. I wish I could spend all my time inside it. It feels so right, as if it was created to hold me. I kriffing hate not feeling him, Padmé. It feels like I'm coming apart at the seams."
Padmé could only stare at him. Did Anakin not realize how that sounded? Or was she completely misinterpreting it because she didn't understand Force bonds?
Gods. It wasn't the first time she felt like an outsider when it came to Anakin's Jedi life, but it was the first time she realized that she would always be an outsider. She couldn't even begin to understand what Anakin was talking about--some mystical Force bond, she guessed, but she had no idea how it worked or what it felt like to lose it. She would never understand. What she was beginning to understand was why normal people didn't marry Jedi.
Padmé sighed, feeling so very tired despite just waking up. "Why are you here, Ani?" she said quietly.
Anakin's expression looked haunted. "Obi-Wan asked me to give him space. I'm giving him space. I can't--I won't be able to do that if I'm at the Temple."
Padmé closed her eyes for a moment. "That wasn't what I asked. Why are you here?"
He looked at her strangely. "What kind of question is that? Aren't you my wife?"
She smiled humorlessly. Am I? She saw him so rarely because of the war that she still didn't feel like a wife. She was only four months pregnant, and it was still a longer time than the accumulated time she and Anakin had spent together as a married couple.
"Are you here because you want to be? Or because you can't be where you want to be?"
A muscle jumped in Anakin's jaw. He looked away, toward the Temple in the distance.
Padmé stared at his handsome profile wistfully. She was honest enough with herself to admit that she'd fallen in love with Anakin's looks first. He had been so very handsome and deliciously forbidden as a Jedi--of course any girl would fall head over heels for him. He was even more handsome now, a man rather than the boy she had married, every inch a man, and he still made her breath catch when she looked at him.
But was it enough for a strong marriage? Their romance had felt like something from a dream. But real life wasn't a dream. Married people should have things like common interests, shared passions and life goals. Married people shouldn't spend most of the time apart, living separate lives that had nothing to do with each other and coming together only for a few stolen nights.
Should she hold onto their marriage just because she was pregnant? A baby wouldn't fix anything--wouldn't fix them. It would only make the cracks in their relationship more obvious. Truth be told, Padmé had kind of hoped Anakin might decide to leave the Order once he heard of her pregnancy, but it hadn't even seemed to occur to him. With the way Anakin talked about his bond to his padawan, it was becoming glaringly obvious that he would never willingly leave Obi-Wan--and the Jedi. If Anakin was such a wreck after a day away from his padawan, Padmé could only imagine how much worse it would be if he actually left the Order for good.
And it wouldn't be fair to ask that of him when she would never leave her political work for their marriage, either.
So should they hold onto this marriage when neither of them was willing to give up their real lives for it? There was the baby to think about, of course. But she was perfectly capable of raising her child by herself--with the help of her handmaidens, of course. In fact, Padmé knew she would end up doing so anyway, since Anakin was always off-world. Her child would see its father rarely regardless of whether they were married or not.
When the silence stretched and Anakin still didn't say anything, his gaze fixed on the Temple, Padmé nodded to herself, smiling sadly. All right.
She felt unexpectedly lighter once she made the decision. No more hiding. No more worrying about how she would hide her pregnancy from the world. No more lies.
She would always love Anakin, but sometimes love wasn't enough. Sometimes love didn't make one happy. She was young--they both were. She could eventually find love that would make her feel happy instead of lonely, stressed, and on the outside.
Padmé took a deep breath and said,
"I think we should get a divorce, Ani."
Anakin's head snapped toward her. "What?"
Anakin left Padmé's apartment an hour later, still angry and confused as he climbed into his speeder.
I can't do this anymore, Ani.
Our marriage exists only on paper. What we have is not a marriage.
It wouldn't be fair to subject our child to this, too.
What kind of bantha shit was that? They had been perfectly happy, hadn't they? At least Anakin had thought they were, but apparently Padmé thought differently.
He would never understand women. Scratch that, he would never understand people. First Obi-Wan, now Padmé.
The mere thought of him made Anakin grind his teeth in frustration. He reached habitually to the back of his mind, trying desperately to feel something, anything, but the bond between them might as well have not existed.
Padmé. He should think about Padmé, not Obi-Wan. Padmé, who wanted a divorce. It seemed unthinkable. It seemed unthinkable that he had lost both his wife and Obi-Wan in the span of a day.
No, he hadn't lost Obi-Wan, kriff it. He couldn't. He would fix them, fix everything.
But the pain, the sheer hurt in Obi-Wan's kind, pretty eyes still stood at the forefront of Anakin's mind, and Anakin knew it wouldn't be simple. Fuck, he'd really had no idea. He'd had no idea Obi-Wan would be hurt so deeply.
He'd had no idea Obi-Wan loved him so deeply.
The thought made Anakin's body warm, his heart beating faster.
From his first days as a Jedi, all he had ever wanted was his Master's love. But his Master had been such a perfect Jedi that he had been very good at the whole non-attachment thing, too. It had always been "Jedi do not feel attachment, Padawan" or "The only love a Jedi feels is for the Republic, Anakin." It had used to make him so angry that Anakin had wanted to shackle his Master to the wall and refuse to let him go until Obi-Wan admitted that he loved him and cared for him as deeply as Anakin did. It had always been his dream to hear those words from his Master.
But with Obi-Wan, with his padawan Obi-Wan, those words hadn't been enough. Anakin wanted more. He always craved more. Obi-Wan made him greedy. He wanted to be the center of Obi-Wan's world. Wanted Obi-Wan to love him more than anything. No matter how many times Obi-Wan had told him that he loved him, Anakin wasn't satisfied; he needed more proof, more proof of his importance to Obi-Wan, more of his attention, affection, and love.
Anakin hadn't realized just how much of Obi-Wan's love he was getting on a daily basis until it was all gone.
Now he felt like he was starving after feasting for months.
Hunger was actually a good word to describe how he felt. Or thirst. He felt thirsty. Restless. His skin was crawling with agitation and longing. He felt like a death sticks addict in need of his fix.
It was so bad that Anakin couldn't even kriffing focus on Padmé's desire for a divorce--which should have been the bigger problem on his mind; Anakin realized that rationally. There was something wrong with his priorities. Wrong with him.
He also had a message from Palpatine, inviting him for tea, but in his current state, Anakin didn't feel like going and making small talk. A kind old man like the Chancellor deserved better than his inattention.
The screech of brakes and angry shouting tore Anakin out of his thoughts. Kark! Only his war-honed reflexes saved him from colliding with another speeder.
After flipping the other driver off and cursing him in Huttese, Anakin forced himself to take a deep breath, then another. He was a Jedi Knight. He should act like one. Calm. He could be calm.
He looked around, only now realizing that he was near the Temple.
Anakin stared at the majestic building. He had never considered it a home in a way the Jedi who had grown up in it did, but for the first time in his life, he longed for it. Ached for it.
No. He couldn't go inside, not when he felt like this. Obi-Wan had asked for space. Anakin had to respect that. He couldn't go to the Temple when all he wanted was no space between them. He didn't trust himself to stay away.
But why should I stay away? a voice whispered at the back of Anakin's mind. His marriage to Padmé was the thing that had upset Obi-Wan so much. All he had to do was tell Obi-Wan that they were getting a divorce, and then everything would be back to normal and Obi-Wan would let him inside again.
Anakin shook his head, trying to shake off the treacherous thought. How could he even think that? He loved Padmé, he was going to make her change her mind, he shouldn't even be considering this. What the kark was wrong with him?
Clenching his jaw, Anakin turned the speeder around, heading toward the Senate building. He might as well pay the Chancellor a visit. Maybe the Chancellor would help him figure out how to win Padmé back.
He wouldn't tell Palpatine about Obi-Wan's feelings--that was private, just his--but he really could use a friendly face right now.
And most importantly, he could use a distraction, something to keep him away from the Temple. Away from Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan was probably still asleep anyway. He was probably curled up on his side--he always slept like that, to make room for Anakin behind him--and he was probably warm with sleep and smelled like--
Anakin swore through his gritted teeth and made his speeder go faster, fixing his gaze on the Senate building.
Stop thinking about your padawan, damn it.
Palpatine was happy to see him, as always.
It did put Anakin in a slightly better mood--at least there was one person who still wanted him around.
But of course, the ever-observant Chancellor noticed that something was amiss immediately. "Is something the matter, Anakin?" he said, frowning in concern.
Anakin sighed, dropping himself into his usual seat and looking at the rising sun. He hadn't gotten a wink of sleep last night, and it did nothing to improve his disposition.
"Padmé wants a divorce," he said tonelessly.
"What? Why?" Palpatine seemed shocked, and when Anakin looked at him, he found a bewildered expression on his friend's face.
It wasn't often the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic looked so caught off-guard.
Anakin smiled humorlessly. "Your guess is as good as mine, Chancellor," he said. "I thought we were happy, but... She said our marriage wasn't real. That she feels like an outsider."
"I see. Because of your being a Jedi, I presume?"
Anakin gave a clipped nod. It was an oversimplification, but he didn't really want to talk about Obi-Wan with the Chancellor. It felt... wrong to share Obi-Wan's hurt without his permission. It was private. Just between them. No matter how much he trusted Palpatine, he wasn't comfortable discussing Obi-Wan's feelings with him.
"I'm so sorry to hear that, my boy," Palpatine said. "From what you have told me, your marriage was the one bright spot in your life."
Anakin grimaced. He didn't remember telling Palpatine that, but four months ago he probably would have said that. It wasn't true anymore. Even though he obviously wanted to win Padmé back, she was no longer the only bright spot in his life. Anakin no longer felt like she was the only one who loved him, and that certainty did wonders for his mental state, no matter how stressed he now was.
"She's pregnant," Anakin said with a sigh, running a hand through his hair. "Could it be the reason? All those hormones are probably just making her irrational, right?"
"Pregnant!" Palpatine said excitedly. "Congratulations, my boy."
Anakin forced a smile. He didn't really feel like celebrating. Although the baby's Force signature was still barely noticeable, he had distinctly felt its discomfort in his presence. Anakin's agitated state had probably been the reason, but still, it was disheartening to be rejected by his own child.
"It is so unfair that you cannot be open about being the father," Palpatine said. "Fatherhood is a wonderful thing, but I imagine your Jedi Council will not be happy if they learn about it."
Anakin shook his head without much emotion. Any other day, he would have likely been righteously indignant at the unfairness of it all, but not that day. He felt drained already.
"Perhaps your wife will change her mind if you reject the Jedi way," Palpatine said carefully. "You do not need to be a Jedi to bring peace to the Republic, Anakin."
Anakin shook his head again. "I'm not leaving the Order, Chancellor. I have a responsibility to my padawan."
"Ah, yes, young Obi-Wan," Palpatine said, his expression turning sad. "I still cannot believe what happened to Master Kenobi. You must be devastated, Anakin. To lose a father figure, no matter how distant and unfeeling he was, is incredibly difficult. And now you have to teach the boy who replaced him, even though he will never be able to truly replace Master Kenobi. I admire your generosity of spirit, Anakin. Any other person would have resented the impostor--"
"It isn't Obi-Wan's fault," Anakin bit off, irritated.
Palpatine blinked. "I did not mean to imply that it was," he said after a moment, eyeing Anakin carefully. "I simply cannot help but notice that it was unfair of the Jedi Council to put such a burden on you on top of the war--"
"Obi-Wan isn't a burden," Anakin snapped, getting to his feet. "Excuse me, Chancellor, I just remembered that I have somewhere to be."
It was a blatant lie, and Palpatine was unlikely to have been fooled by it, but he still bid Anakin farewell in a kind tone of voice, even if it was slightly strained.
Anakin felt a little bad for snapping at the old man, but not bad enough to stay. He knew the Chancellor meant well, but he didn't know Obi-Wan, and Anakin was in no mood to listen to another person he cared about speaking ill of Obi-Wan.
He left the Senate building in an even blacker mood than he'd arrived. Sith's hells, it felt like his life was coming apart: he was at odds with Obi-Wan, Padmé, and now his old friend too.
At least he still had his men.
The thought brightened his mood a little, and Anakin headed for the spacesport. At least his men would be glad to see him and were highly unlikely to talk shit about Obi-Wan.
Except as he got on board of the Resolute II, the clones didn't look all that happy to see him, shooting him wary glances and backing out of his way.
When he asked Rex what the hell everyone's problem was, his Captain winced. "With all due respect, General, but your murderous expression is making the boys uneasy, especially after the incident with Tup. Why don't you get some sleep?"
Anakin grimaced, gave a clipped nod, and headed toward his and Obi-Wan's cabin.
Once there, he undressed and crawled into their bed. The pillow smelled good, and Anakin buried his face in it, taking greedy lungfuls of Obi-Wan's scent. Although it wasn't the real thing and only made his longing sharper, it helped him trick his mind into believing that everything would be all right.
"I'll get you back," he mumbled as sleep finally claimed him.
He dreams of cries: men's, women's, children's. He kills them all, his rage and grief making him numb to their horror. He doesn't care if they are scared. They should be scared. His clothes are still sticky with his mother's blood. He can still smell those animals' arousal in the room his mother had been brutally raped in. They will die, all of them. Those animals deserve nothing less.
Finally, the cries are gone. There is only him, surrounded by countless bodies.
"You have failed me, Anakin. I always knew you would."
He turns and there's his Master, watching him with a sad, endlessly disappointed expression.
A part of him recognizes this, recognizes it as the dream he has had so often. He knows how it goes: his Master will walk away, and he will be left alone, forever.
But his Master doesn't walk away, not this time. He walks closer, toward Anakin, and with every step he takes, the years are melting away from his face until Anakin is looking at his padawan.
Anakin stares at him hungrily, feeling like he hasn't seen him in ages. He takes in his smooth face, dimpled chin and kind eyes, his padawan braid, his lips pursed into a slight pout. He's perfection.
Anakin reaches out to him, his hands trembling with longing, but Obi-Wan steps back. "Your hands are bloody, Master," he says, his brows furrowed in disapproval.
"I'll wash them," Anakin says, stepping closer.
Obi-Wan looks at him sadly, and his gaze is uncomfortably like his older self's. "You can't simply wash away the hurt you have inflicted on others, Master."
Anakin swallows. "I'm sorry for hurting you. Come back to me. I miss you."
Obi-Wan shakes his head and turns away.
"Obi-Wan, please," Anakin says, grabbing his shoulders and pulling him flush against his chest. He buries his face against Obi-Wan's nape, inhales--and he can't smell him. He can't feel him. He can't sense him. He's holding Obi-Wan in his arms and it feels like he isn't holding him. The hunger in him, the yearning, is still there, unsatisfied.
"No," Anakin says, not understanding, nuzzling desperately against Obi-Wan's neck, to no avail. Why can't he feel him?
"I don't love you anymore, Master."
Anakin goes rigid.
"You are lying," he whispers. "I know you're lying."
Obi-Wan turns around, and it isn't his padawan. It's the older Obi-Wan, with a neutral expression and distant gaze. "I never loved you."
"You're lying," Anakin says, less sure.
His Master gives him a patronizing look. "Jedi do not love, Anakin. I was fond of you, I will not deny that, but I would not have chosen you as my padawan if I were actually given a choice."
Anakin glares at him and looks away, his throat uncomfortably tight. When he looks back, he's looking at his padawan again.
"Choices are important, Master," Obi-Wan says. His pretty, blue-gray eyes are glistening with unshed tears. "You have to choose. You can't both be a good Jedi and a good husband. You can't have her love and mine. Don't be greedy. Let me go. Leave the Order. You should be with your family."
"I can't," Anakin says hoarsely, cradling Obi-Wan's face with his hands. He presses their foreheads together. "I'm a mess without you, sweetheart." He inhales shakily, but he still can't smell him. "And there's no law that says you can't love two people. Love can come in different forms. You can love someone as a man, and you can love someone as a brother."
Obi-Wan's lips twist a little. He pulls back and gives Anakin a look. "Are you saying you love me as a brother, Master?"
Anakin swallows, his heart beating faster. "Of course."
Obi-Wan cocks his head to the side and purses his lips, looking thoughtful. Anakin watches him greedily. He loves watching Obi-Wan think. He loves watching Obi-Wan, period.
Obi-Wan says slowly, "So you wouldn't mind it if I loved someone else as a man as long as I loved you as a brother?"
Anakin frowns. The mere thought... it bothers him immensely. His first instinct is to say that Obi-Wan is allowed to love only him, but that would be... highly hypocritical of him.
"You are too young for relationships," he says instead. That sounds like a good enough reason. A brotherly reason.
Obi-Wan's face shifts into his older self's again. Anakin's Master raises his eyebrows. "I caught you in an intimate situation with Padawan Deira when you were fifteen, Anakin," he says dryly.
Anakin flushes and glares at him. He hates that his conscience is taking the form of his former Master. "Go away, Master. You aren't real anyway. You're gone. Dead." His voice cracks on the word, and Anakin hates it. "Go away. Let me talk to my Obi-Wan. The one who actually loves me."
His Master gives him a judgmental look. "Your Obi-Wan? Such possessiveness doesn't befit a Jedi, Anakin. Besides, why should I let you speak to my younger self? So you can break his heart again?"
"I will not break his heart. I love him."
"Like a brother," his Master adds mockingly.
Anakin glares. He's almost forgotten how infuriating his Master could be with his words. "Yes, a brother."
His Master strokes his beard thoughtfully. There is a knowing glint in his eyes. Anakin feels uncomfortably transparent under that gaze. "You have always been excellent at lying to yourself," his Master says.
Then his Master's face shifts back into Obi-Wan's.
"Stop lying to yourself, Master," Obi-Wan says softly.
"I'm not lying," Anakin says. He strokes Obi-Wan's smooth cheek with his knuckles. Force, he misses him.
He leans in and nuzzles into Obi-Wan's cheek, wishing he could smell him and feel him, wishing it were real.
Obi-Wan threads his fingers through Anakin's curls and murmurs, "Are you saying that when you kissed my face, you never wanted to slip your tongue into my mouth?"
Obi-Wan whispers into his ear, "You never wanted to have no layers between us when we cuddled? You never had impure thoughts when you held me against you? Are you saying that when you put your mind inside mine, you never wanted to possess me in another way too?"
Anakin snapped his eyes open, breathing hard. His face was hot--his entire body was hot. Still half-asleep, Anakin slipped his hand downwards and wrapped it around his aching length.
He groaned and turned onto his stomach. Breathing in the scent lingering on the pillow, he rocked against the mattress, fucking into his own hand, hard and fast, not thinking about anything, just needing release.
He wasn't thinking about Obi-Wan or cuddling him naked. He definitely wasn't thinking about slipping his tongue into Obi-Wan's sweet mouth or imagining the sounds his padawan would make as he sucked on Anakin's tongue. He definitely didn't think about putting his cock into his padawan and fucking him hard, Obi-Wan's body writhing under him as his pretty mouth opened in pleasure.
Master, Obi-Wan would say, pushing back onto his cock--
Anakin came, groaning into the pillow as he spilled his release into his hand.
He lay still for a long time, breathing hard, as pleasure and satisfaction gave way to shame and guilt.
Obi-Wan was his padawan. His seventeen-year-old padawan. His responsibility. A boy who had once been a father figure for him. It was wrong. It was wrong on so many levels Anakin felt like turning his lightsaber on himself.
What the kark was wrong with him?
His Master would have been absolutely disgusted with him if he found out about this.
The mere thought made Anakin cringe and bury his face under the pillow with a groan.
He could practically see the disturbed, judgmental expression on his Master's face.
This is sick, Anakin, he would say. He is still me. I raised you. And no good Jedi lusts after his own padawan.
Padmé was absolutely right to want to divorce him. She deserved better than a pervert like him.
Check out the lovely fanart by @amiro_orac!❤️
I have an important work project that'll keep me very busy in the next few weeks, but I'll try not to keep you waiting too long.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath before knocking.
"Enter, you may."
He entered Master Yoda's meditation chamber and bowed deeply. "Master," he murmured and lifted his gaze, hoping his lack of serenity wasn't obvious. He had barely slept last night, falling asleep closer to the dawn from sheer exhaustion, and now found himself increasingly weary with every hour. Being summoned by Master Yoda didn't help matters at all, his nerves making his mental and physical exhaustion worse.
All he wanted at the moment was to have his Master's arms around him, Anakin's breathing against his ear lulling him into sleep.
Even thinking about it made his insides ache with longing, and Obi-Wan had to reinforce his mental shields.
"Sit, Obi-Wan," Yoda said, watching him carefully.
Obi-Wan sat opposite him.
"In the eye, you cannot look me," Yoda noted. "The reason for that is there?"
Obi-Wan shook his head, still looking at his hands. "No, Master."
"Seventeen you now are. A padawan you have been for four months--or four years, from your perspective. Satisfied, are you with your Master?"
Obi-Wan frowned, unsure what Yoda was talking about. "Pardon?" he said, shooting Yoda a confused look.
Master Yoda's gaze seemed assessing. "Troubled, you are. Your distress in the Force felt I yesterday. Uneasy, does your Master make you?"
Obi-Wan gnawed on his lip, his mind racing. "Uneasy?" he managed. "In what way?"
"Troubling, Master Tiplee's report was," Yoda said, frowning deeply. "Troubling powers, Young Skywalker demonstrated. Anger. Vengeance. Darkness."
Obi-Wan exhaled, both relieved and nervous as he realized what this meeting was about: his Master's... leanings toward the Dark Side. The incident with Tup had slipped from Obi-Wan's mind because of what happened later, but he could understand why Master Yoda was so troubled.
"Master is overprotective of me," he said, choosing his words carefully. "And he feels very strongly when someone he cares about is threatened."
Yoda didn't look reassured by his words. "A sign of attachment it is," he said, a disturbed look on his face.
Obi-Wan felt a surge of annoyance. "Forgive me, Master, but weren't you the one who said that you let my Master take me on as his padawan in the hope that his attachment to me would keep him in the Light?"
Yoda narrowed his eyes. "Not his attachment," he corrected sharply. "Responsibility to a padawan, a fondness. Attachment, they are not. But drawing on the Dark Side because of the attempt on your life, a sign of attachment it is. Attached, Anakin Skywalker is. Such attachment leads to possessiveness, the shadow of greed, that is. Greed is the emotion that to the Dark Side leads. Disappointed in you, I am."
Just a few months ago, Obi-Wan would have been crushed by Master Yoda's disappointment. Now, tired, sleep-deprived, and heartbroken, Obi-Wan found himself growing irritated, his temper rearing its ugly head.
He had never been a mild-tempered person. As he aged, Obi-Wan had found it much easier to control his natural temper and he suspected that he would have eventually mastered control over it completely, just like Master Kenobi clearly had--if Anakin didn't encourage him to express his emotions instead of suppressing them.
"Have you ever had this conversation with my older self, Master?" Obi-Wan grated out.
Yoda nodded. "Agreed with me, Obi-Wan did. Distance to his padawan he promised to put, to destroy Skywalker's growing attachment."
Obi-Wan thought of the photographs in the box and his lips twisted. "What about his own attachment?" he said. "Or did you think my older self wasn't attached to his padawan, too?"
Yoda stared at him before shaking his head slowly. "An exemplary Jedi your older self was. Cared for his padawan he deeply, but attached he was not. Let go, he could."
Obi-Wan almost laughed. Master Yoda had no idea. For all of his wisdom, he really had no idea. Suppressing one's emotions--literally putting them into a box--wasn't the same as letting go of them.
"I cannot claim to be an exemplary Jedi, Master," Obi-Wan said, looking at his own hands again. "I admit that this war has shaken many of my beliefs about what a Jedi should be." In his peripheral vision, he could see Yoda's shoulders sag, his Force signature emanating sadness. Obi-Wan continued, "But I'm... grateful that I have had my Master always there for me on my journey to becoming a Jedi. It has been a learning experience, and I think not only for me."
Master Yoda made a thoughtful sound. "Turmoil I sensed in Young Skywalker," he said. "Darkness in him there is, but the Light, too. When he spoke of you, closer to the Light he felt, calmer in the Force. But closer to the Dark he was when he spoke of the attempt on your life."
Obi-Wan looked up and found Yoda's piercing gaze on him. "Disturbing it is how strongly he feels about you," Yoda said. "Unnatural it is. Improper."
Obi-Wan tried not to blush. He told himself Master Yoda didn't mean it that way. Even if Yoda meant it that way, Obi-Wan knew the Grandmaster was wrong: Anakin didn't love him that way. Would never love him that way.
Because he was married.
Obi-Wan looked away again, his throat tight with emotion and his discomfort twisting his stomach. He knew so many of his Master's secrets--secrets that would likely end Anakin's Jedi career if Master Yoda learned of them. The existence of Anakin's wife alone would likely mean expulsion. If the Council found out about the Tuskens... Obi-Wan wasn't sure of the consequences. Could his Master be arrested for that? Although it had happened in the Outer Rim, where the Republic law couldn't be enforced, it was still wrong.
But it was Anakin. Regardless of their current... difficulties, Obi-Wan still firmly believed that his Master was a good person. A good person who had slipped, consumed by his grief, and done some terrible things.
"Something you want to tell me, is there?" Yoda said, looking at him sharply.
Obi-Wan swallowed and shook his head. "No, Master."
As he left Yoda's room, Obi-Wan paused outside, his shoulders sagging.
He was a liar now. A liar on top of a person who was in love with someone's husband.
His guilt weighed heavily on his mind, but betraying Anakin's trust felt unthinkable. Wrong. He could not do it.
Obi-Wan wondered what his older self would have done if he learned about the Tuskens or Anakin's marriage. Only a few days ago, he would have been sure that Master Kenobi would have been honest with Yoda, but now... he didn't know anymore. Master Kenobi had been, by all accounts, an exceptional, serene Jedi who never betrayed the Jedi way, but Obi-Wan now suspected it had been just a facade, a mask his older self wore for the world.
He wondered if he could do it, too. Could he pretend not to feel anything? To smile when he wanted to scream? To preach the Jedi Code about no emotion like a hypocrite? Could he do it?
Probably. They were the same person, after all, regardless of the twenty years that separated them.
Obi-Wan sighed. He probably could do it, but the mere thought of facing his Master and having to pretend that he didn't feel anything made his insides churn with nausea. He couldn't imagine doing it for years.
And he couldn't... he couldn't imagine keeping distance from Anakin. He missed him already.
Though, the word "missed" didn't seem adequate at all.
It was the longest time they had been away from each other, and Obi-Wan felt strange, off-balance, as if the world was tilted wrong. He felt like he was drifting, like a planet without a star. The silence at the back of his mind certainly wasn't helping. Obi-Wan had grown used to always feeling Anakin to some degree, even if the sensation was vague with distance.
Now there was nothing.
He wondered if Anakin was with his wife.
Obi-Wan quickly pushed the thought away. It was none of his business. He had no right to feel hurt if Anakin really was with her. His place was with her, not Obi-Wan. He was just a padawan to Anakin, nothing more.
"Obi-Wan!" someone called out.
Confused, Obi-Wan turned around. It was Dameyn Mais, Master Korah's padawan. They had gotten along very well during their joint mission on Fioli... Obi-Wan frowned. Because of his latest aging procedure, it felt like it had been a long time ago, even though Obi-Wan knew that it had been just a few weeks. Force, he was looking forward to not having to deal with such confusion between his memories. Just one more exposure to the artifact, and it would finally be over, his procedural memories no longer so disconnected from his normal ones.
"I didn't know you were back," Dameyn said, smiling. "You didn't say you were returning to the Temple soon."
"We were recalled to give our report," Obi-Wan said. "We would likely be leaving soon. We're waiting for our next orders."
Dameyn's face fell. "That's a pity," he said before looking at him intently. "Are you busy now? Would you like to share a meal with me? I have made a supper, but my Master is unavailable."
Obi-Wan hesitated. It hadn't escaped his notice that Dameyn's interest was more than friendly. Any other time, he would have declined the offer, but... Any distraction from his thoughts was welcome.
So he went with Dameyn to his quarters.
The meal was fine. The conversation was easy enough, and while Dameyn's interest was obvious, he wasn't pushy, and soon, Obi-Wan found himself relaxing. Good food and good conversation put him in a better mood, and by the end of the evening, he was smiling at Dameyn's jokes.
Dameyn walked him back to his room. "Well," the other boy said with a smile as they stopped in front of Obi-Wan's door. "I had fun tonight. I hope you did, too."
Obi-Wan nodded, suddenly uncomfortable with where this was going.
His suspicions were confirmed as Dameyn stepped closer and put a hand on his cheek. "Obi-Wan..."
Obi-Wan sighed inwardly. He had hoped they could be friends.
"Obi-Wan, I..." Dameyn trailed off, his pupils dilating as his gaze moved to Obi-Wan's mouth. "You're very pretty, you know," he said, his thumb brushing over Obi-Wan's bottom lip.
Obi-Wan tried to lean away, but he wasn't sure how to do it without offending the other boy. He had a bad feeling about this.
Dameyn started leaning in, but as his lips almost touched Obi-Wan's, an invisible force shoved him away from Obi-Wan. Dameyn staggered on his feet, his eyes widening. "Master Skywalker."
Obi-Wan froze, caught off guard more than anything. He wasn't used to not feeling Anakin approach, their bond always warning him about it.
"What do you think you are doing?" Anakin growled.
Slowly, Obi-Wan turned around. For a moment, he could barely recognize Anakin: so hard and downright scary his expression was as he stared Dameyn down. He had seen Anakin look like this only once: when he choked the life out of Tup.
"I'm..." Dameyn swallowed before setting his jaw mulishly. "We weren't doing anything wrong, Master. Fraternization between padawans is not forbidden by the Code."
A muscle twitched in Anakin's jaw, the Force around him becoming heavier, darker. "Fraternization?" he bit off. "Obi-Wan is seventeen. If you--"
"There's no fraternization," Obi-Wan said quickly, stepping between them before Anakin might do anything unwise. Unwise like Force-choking a Jedi.
When Anakin's gaze focused on him, a storm of different emotions flickered over his face, so quickly Obi-Wan wasn't sure what they were.
They stared at each other, the silence stretching as the tension in the air thickened.
Obi-Wan felt like his skin was too small for his body, his heart pounding in his ears.
Damen cleared his throat. "I'll go, Obi-Wan," he said.
'Yes," Obi-Wan said absently, unsure what he was replying to.
The footsteps receded.
Anakin walked toward him, their gazes locked.
Obi-Wan's hand found the door handle behind him and gripped it hard.
"Did he touch you?" Anakin said, something dark and almost feral in his gaze. His Force signature seemed to expand, pushing against Obi-Wan like a physical thing.
It was overwhelming, but a part of Obi-Wan wanted--needed--it, craving the touch of his Master's presence inside him.
Obi-Wan moistened his lips with his tongue, barely keeping his shields up. "What are you doing here, Master?" he said. "I distinctly remember asking for some distance while I get my emotions in order."
"But it has been two days," Anakin said, laying his hands on the door and bracketing Obi-Wan between them.
Obi-Wan breathed shallowly, trying not to breathe in his Master's scent.
He lowered his eyelashes, unable to look Anakin in the eye anymore. "It is not enough," he said. "I still haven't found my equilibrium, Master."
Anakin let out a harsh laugh. "Welcome to my world, Obi-Wan."
Against his will, Obi-Wan's lips twitched. He looked up at his Master and found him staring, blue eyes incredibly intense.
Anakin's hand cupped Obi-Wan's cheek. His gaze transfixed, his thumb brushed against the corner of Obi-Wan's mouth. "I missed your smile. You should always smile."
Obi-Wan tried not to shiver, tried to pretend the touch of his Master's hand after days of his absence wasn't a shock to his system.
"I'm sorry for making you hurt," Anakin said quietly, leaning in and pressing their foreheads together.
Obi-Wan inhaled shakily. How did Anakin always smell so good?
"I'm sorry for not being a better Master for you," Anakin said, his voice hoarse and barely audible. "I adore you, you know that, right?"
Obi-Wan nodded shakily, his skin prickling, tight and oversensitive. He wanted to rub his cheek against Anakin's. He wanted to rub his body against Anakin's.
He did neither, gripping the door handle hard.
Anakin took a deep breath against his cheek. "I wish... I wish I were a better Jedi," he said, his breath hot and unsteady, his lips brushing against Obi-Wan's jawline.
A whimper escaped Obi-Wan's mouth.
Anakin froze before practically jumping away, his face flushed and eyes dark and a little unfocused.
He swallowed visibly, his adam's apple jerking. "I..."
Obi-Wan licked his trembling lips.
Anakin's expression became tight, his jaw clenching. "I have to go," he said in a clipped voice.
"To her?" Obi-Wan said before he could stop himself.
Anakin shook his head, raking a hand through his hair. "We... she wants a divorce," he said stiffly, without meeting Obi-Wan's gaze.
Obi-Wan frowned, unsure how to feel about it. Truth be told, he still had trouble thinking, his mind slow and hazy with need and longing. Why was Anakin so far away?
Their gazes met again and locked, and time seemed to slow down.
Obi-Wan felt raw, naked. He suspected that his every emotion was written on his face. I need you.
In two steps, Anakin was back in his personal space, their Force signatures reaching out wildly and joining in a rush of need you, need you, need you, their bond flaring to life, all shields gone.
Anakin groaned and pressed his mouth to Obi-Wan's cheek. "Obi-Wan." He kissed his nose, his other cheek, his forehead, his chin--his mouth.
Obi-Wan shuddered and parted his trembling lips, and Anakin's tongue slipped inside his mouth--Force. Obi-Wan moaned. It was pure bliss, their bond pulsing with relief and need as their mouths slotted together. Obi-Wan sucked on his Master's tongue, and Anakin made an inhuman sound, kissing him deeper, pinning Obi-Wan against the door, his body heavy and perfect, his mouth hot and insistent.
"We shouldn't," Anakin said through their bond even as his hands cradled Obi-Wan's face, his mouth kissing Obi-Wan's as if he were starving. "This is wrong, Obi-Wan." His hand closed around Obi-Wan's padawan braid and tightened. "I shouldn't--"
"Don't stop," Obi-Wan told him, soaking up his Master's hungry kisses and trying to pull him him closer, tighter, deeper.
"You will be the death of me," Anakin said dazedly, mouthing at his jawline before returning to Obi-Wan's mouth and licking into it. "I feel like I want to devour you, to crawl inside you. Force, your mouth--" Anakin kissed him deeper, so deeply it really felt like he wanted to get inside Obi-Wan's body through his mouth.
Obi-Wan's head was spinning with pleasure, all his senses focused on Anakin's mouth and the hardness pressed against his stomach. He wanted--he wanted--
Anakin went rigid against him.
Obi-Wan blinked his eyes open and found himself staring at Master Windu.
Obi-Wan had never felt so scared, embarrassed, and giddy at the same time.
His body was still tingling pleasantly from the rush of oxytocin, and his lips felt puffy and well-kissed--Anakin wanted him, too!--but the two pairs of judgmental eyes on him crushed any happiness he might have felt.
Anakin stood rigidly beside him, his face grim but full of defiance. Master Windu and Master Yoda's hard gazes didn't seem to bother him at all. Obi-Wan wished he could be as unconcerned.
Master Windu was still radiating fury.
"We will obviously assign Obi-Wan to another Master," the Korun said. "That's not even a question. The question is: what are we going to do with Skywalker."
Master Yoda made a thoughtful sound, his gaze flickering from Obi-Wan to Anakin.
"Expel him from the Order, do you suggest?" Yoda said.
Windu's lips thinned, his disgust obvious. "We should. Any fraternization between a Jedi and their underage padawan is grounds for instant expulsion. The problem is, Skywalker is too famous. Palpatine made him the face of the Republic Army. If the press gets wind of this..." He shook his head. "The Order's reputation would be destroyed."
Anakin laughed harshly. "Force, you are such a hypocrite. You care more about the Order's reputation than you care about the Jedi principles. If you expelled me from the Order, I would have respected you more."
A muscle twitched in Windu's jaw.
Obi-Wan glared at Anakin. "Stop trying to get yourself expelled, Master," he told him through their bond.
Anakin's lips twitched. He shot Obi-Wan a look that was somehow full of amusement, want, and tenderness at the same.
It made Obi-Wan blush.
"May not be necessary Skywalker's expulsion," Yoda said, making Obi-Wan return his gaze to him.
"What do you suggest?" Windu said. "I doubt Skywalker has the decency to stay away from Obi-Wan, so we will have to forcibly keep them apart--"
"You will try," Anakin said.
The withering look Windu gave Anakin made Obi-Wan shift uncomfortably, but Anakin didn't look fazed in the least.
"You insolent, arrogant, shameless--"
"Unnecessary, it is," Yoda cut the Korun off again.
Obi-Wan frowned, confused. Surely Master Yoda wasn't going to just let them get away with it? It sounded too good to be true.
Even Anakin seemed confused by the grandmaster's lenience. "Master?" he said.
Yoda looked from Anakin to Obi-Wan, his gaze unreadable. "News, Master Che brought just an hour ago. A discovery, she has made. A storage crystal, she has found in the alien artifact. Believes she that restore Obi-Wan's memories fully, she can."
Obi-Wan stopped breathing.
"What?" Windu said. "You mean our Obi-Wan will be back?"
Master Yoda nodded. "Great relief, it is. Need him back, we do--"
"What do you mean, need him back?" Anakin cut him off, his voice ringing with tension. "What about Obi-Wan? My padawan?"
Yoda gave him a hard look. "Thinks Healer Che that overwritten your padawan's memories will be by his older self's. And for the best, it is. Horrified, your Master will be, when he learns of this. Ashamed, you should be."
Anakin flushed, but Obi-Wan knew it wasn't only from embarrassment. He could feel anger building in Anakin, anger and fear.
"You can't do this," Anakin bit out. "You can't just decide it for Obi-Wan. It is his body, his brain you want to mess with--again!"
Yoda's eyes narrowed. "Selfish, you are being. Needed for this war, General Kenobi is."
"Yes," Windu cut in. "Not to mention that you are delusional, Skywalker, if you think Young Obi-Wan will continue being your padawan if he decides against restoring his memories. He would be assigned to another Master and sent to a different part of the galaxy--far away from you. I will personally make sure your paths will never cross."
Rage rolled off Anakin and sent ripples through the room. Was there a hint of gold in his eyes or was Obi-Wan imagining it?
"Master, don't!" Obi-Wan pleaded through their bond, knowing that Anakin was this close to Force-choking Mace Windu. There would be no going back from that.
Anakin went still. He closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath. "But they want to take you away from me," he said, his Force signature reaching for Obi-Wan and wrapping around him so tightly it made Obi-Wan's knees a little weak. "They want to turn you back into my Master."
Obi-Wan bit his bottom lip hard. "But is there another option, Master? You know Master Windu will separate us if I do not agree. He is spiteful enough to arrange for our missions to never coincide."
Anakin didn't say anything, his jaw locked, but Obi-Wan knew he didn't disagree.
"We can leave the Order," Anakin told him at last.
Obi-Wan's eyes burned. He crossed his arms over his chest, all but hugging himself. "And then what?" he said. "Master Yoda is right that my older self is very needed in the war. We are losing Jedi generals every day. How can we abandon the Republic in its time of need? We would never be able to live with ourselves. I know I wouldn't be."
Anakin glared into nothing. He didn't say anything.
Sighing, Obi-Wan looked at Master Yoda. "Is there a chance I will keep my current memories when my older self's memories are restored?"
Yoda bored his eyes into him. "Hope for it, you should not. Highly unlikely, Master Che said it is."
But not impossible?
Obi-Wan's heart jumped, but before he could get his hopes up, Yoda said sharply, "A very small chance for it, there is. Such foolish hopes, entertain you should not." He looked between Obi-Wan and Anakin before returning his gaze to Obi-Wan. "Unhealthy your connection is. Unnatural. Disturbing. Too young to understand it, you are, Obi-Wan. Break this connection, your older self will."
"It's not your place to decide," Anakin snapped. "But I'm sure love and affection seem like very unnatural emotions for you, Master."
"Skywalker!" Windu snapped. "Do not test my patience."
Master Yoda didn't seem offended. He stared at Anakin almost sadly. "Wrong I was, to assign Young Obi-Wan to you. Closer to the Dark, you now are. But left us with no choice, you have. Hope I that your former Master bring you closer to the Light, he can. Your padawan you will not keep, regardless of Young Obi-Wan's decision."
"I want to talk to Healer Che before making any decision," Obi-Wan said, interrupting Master Yoda before Anakin could snap at the old grandmaster or do something even more ill-advised.
"Why are you even considering this?" Anakin said through their bond, sounding deeply wounded.
Obi-Wan swallowed. A part of him ached to do as Anakin suggested and just leave the Order, together. But that would be irresponsible. Selfish.
Obi-Wan tried to explain his reasons to Anakin as they all walked toward the Halls of Healing, but it didn't seem to be working. Obi-Wan could feel the growing tension in his Master, the anger, the fear, the desperation. The darkness.
Obi-Wan could only hope that Healer Che would give him some good news.
But Healer Che's words weren't very reassuring. "I feel rather foolish now," she said, sighing. "I should have known there had to be a memory storage device somehere in the artifact. To my understanding, this artifact was originally designed by ancient Theilorians to prolong their lives: they kept de-aging their bodies as soon as they reached a certain advanced age. Losing all their memories and accumulated knowledge would have defied the purpose of the artifact--I should have guessed there would be some kind of memory storage. In my defense, the crystal was very well hidden and I would have never discovered it if we didn't finally manage to translate those Theilorian documents."
"So you really can restore my older self's memories?" Obi-Wan said.
She smiled. "Not just memories, but his knowledge, his personality, his feelings: everything that made him the person he was."
Obi-Wan could feel Anakin tense, like a string ready to snap. "But what about me?" he said before Anakin could. "Will my memories, my personality be gone?"
Healer Che frowned. "I honestly do not know. The documents say that Theilorians usually restored their lost memories immediately after the de-aging procedure, so there were no new memories to preserve. Since your case is unique, it is impossible to tell whether you will keep any of your new memories." She gave Obi-Wan a somewhat sympathetic look. "But if I had to make a guess, in the best case scenario, your memories would likely feel like a strange dream, not something authentic. For all intents and purposes, you will be Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi again, no matter how young you now look."
Obi-Wan swallowed. He stared in front of him, refusing to look at the other Jedi in the room--especially at the dark cloud of emotion that was Anakin.
What were his options, really?
If he refused to have his memories returned, he would be forcibly parted from his Master and probably would not see Anakin for years. The mere thought of such existence made Obi-Wan nauseous, his chest growing tight with panic. No, he couldn't do it.
There was the option to leave the Order with Anakin, but while it was far more bearable--and infinitely more tempting--that option didn't feel right, either. The Force whispered that it would be a wrong choice, and Obi-Wan didn't need the Force to know that his guilt wouldn't let him live with that decision. They were needed in this war. People were dying. The Republic couldn't afford to lose its best general--generals. Hero With No Fear basically deserting would be a crippling blow to the troops' morale. Even if they chose to help in the war like civilians, they would not be allowed to participate in any major battles if they were not Jedi. They would be forced to watch the war unfold from the sidelines, largely helpless.
His guilt would eat him alive if he chose that option. Not only over abandoning the Republic in its time of great need, but over ruining Anakin's life too. His Master had already lost his wife--his family--because of him; if Anakin lost the Jedi Order and his men too, Obi-Wan wouldn't be able to live with himself.
No, leaving the Order wasn't the solution, either.
That left only the third option: to do what Yoda and Windu wanted and restore his older self's memories--and personality--and hope that some part of what made him him would survive.
Obi-Wan reached toward the Force, seeking guidance from it, but the Force was frustratingly unclear on the matter. It refused to tell him if it was the right decision. But it didn't feel like a terrible one, either.
Taking a deep breath, Obi-Wan wet his dry lips and said, "I will do it."
"No!" Anakin grabbed his shoulder and forced him to turn around. "Don't do it, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan fixed his gaze on Anakin's chest. "I believe compared to all realistic alternatives, it is the best option available to us, Master," he said evenly.
"Look at me," Anakin said, his voice ringing with tension and desperation. "Look at me, love."
Distantly, Obi-Wan was aware of Windu making a choked noise and saying something sharply, but Obi-Wan didn't care. All he could see was Anakin's blue eyes, full of desperation and pain.
"Don't do this," Anakin said, his grip on Obi-Wan's shoulders tightening. "Please. I don't want to lose you. I can't lose you."
"But you will have him back. You miss him, Master," Obi-Wan reminded him softly.
Anakin glowered at him, his eyes suspiciously bright. "I don't want him. I want you." His adam's apple bobbed. "I need you, not him."
Obi-Wan's heart broke all over again--for Anakin, for himself, and for his older self.
His fingers unsteady, he threaded them through Anakin's curls and brought their foreheads together. He breathed in Anakin's scent, greedy and desperate, and murmured, just for Anakin's ears, "Even if this me is gone, I want you to know that I will always love you." His throat felt so thick he could barely speak. "Always."
The sound that left Anakin's mouth was that of a wounded animal, his arms wrapping around Obi-Wan and crushing him against his chest. "Don't leave me," came a thought through the bond, desperate and full of grief. "Not you too."
Obi-Wan's heart ached. Ached and hurt. He pulled back and smiled at Anakin, even though he felt like crying. He wondered if this was how his older self had always felt, too. "I'm not leaving you, Master. Even if I do not remember any of this, you will see me in his eyes. We are the same person, Anakin."
Anakin shook his head, his jaw clenching.
Obi-Wan stared at him sadly, wishing he could tell him that his older self was in love with him, too. But he didn't think Anakin would believe him, and his older self would likely feel humiliated if Obi-Wan revealed his most carefully guarded secret without his consent.
He wondered if he would feel humiliated too once he recovered his memories, or if the other Obi-Wan's personality would just replace his.
"Decide, Obi-Wan, you should," Master Yoda said, impatience in his voice.
Swallowing the painful lump in his throat, Obi-Wan turned to Healer Che and said, "I'm ready."
Anakin felt like his world was coming down on top of him, destroyed in the span of a few hours.
He stared at Obi-Wan's peaceful face, desperate for him to wake up and dreading it at the same time.
He hoped with every fiber of his being that Master Che was wrong and Obi-Wan's personality would be intact, with his Master's memories being just an information dump, nothing more.
Anakin couldn't lose him. He couldn't. No matter how wrong his feelings for his padawan were, the thought of losing him was... he couldn't bear it, his insides twisting into a tight knot.
Even the prospect of having his Master back didn't make him feel better. If anything, Anakin could only cringe thinking about his Master's reaction to the inappropriate, deviant feelings Anakin had developed for his younger self.
No. He didn't want his Master back, especially not if that meant he would lose his Obi-Wan.
"How long until he wakes up?" Windu said.
"Should be any moment now," Healer Che said.
Windu looked at Yoda. "Let's hope it works. I do miss Kenobi. The boy was nice enough, but he wasn't our Obi-Wan."
Anakin wanted to hit him. He wanted to put his hands around Windu's throat and choke the life out of him. He wanted to put his lightsaber through Windu's smug face and--
A weak groan snapped him out of his rage-filled thoughts.
Obi-Wan was waking up.
His heart pounding, Anakin watched Obi-Wan blink his eyes open, an endearing frown forming between his brows.
He looked so much like his padawan that Anakin's heart soared with wild hope. Maybe Che was wrong, after all.
Obi-Wan's Force signature radiated confusion and something else--Anakin couldn't tell for sure, because Che had forced him to block their bond for the procedure.
Obi-Wan frowned, rubbing at his temples--and brought his mental shields up, protecting his thoughts from everyone in the room.
Anakin sucked a breath in. Those kind of shields... his padawan had never had shields like that.
Those were the kind of shields his Master had always used to protect his thoughts.
Obi-Wan sat up in his bed. "Master Yoda?" he said, looking from Yoda to Windu, a puzzled expression on his face. "What is going on?"
Anakin's eyes burned.
This wasn't his Obi-Wan. This Obi-Wan might look like his padawan, but his mannerisms were completely different. The cadence of his voice, the calm, self-possessed way he held himself--it was all wrong.
When Obi-Wan's gaze moved to him, something flickered in his eyes, but it was gone so quickly Anakin wasn't sure he hadn't imagined it. "Anakin?" he said, his gaze fond but distant. "Is anyone going to tell me what I am doing in the Halls of Healing?"
Anakin wanted to scream. He wanted to shake that impostor and make him give his Obi-Wan back.
Not an impostor, a voice said at the back of his mind. The man who raised you--who will be sickened once he learns that you had your tongue down his throat just an hour ago.
Anakin found it hard to care.
He turned around and walked out of the room, a hollow feeling spreading through his chest as his padawan's soft voice echoed in his head, I love you, Master.
His vision blurred, and Anakin could no longer see where he was going.
It didn't matter.
He had nowhere to go anymore.
Obi-Wan stared at his reflection in the mirror, fighting the disorienting feeling of finding it both familiar and strange.
He looked too young. He looked just right.
He missed his beard. He was too young for a beard.
Obi-Wan sighed and did a few mental exercises, trying to find his equilibrium and failing, once again.
It had been a day since his memories were returned to him, and he was still struggling to separate his thoughts and emotions from his younger self's. Master Che couldn't have been more wrong: his younger self's memories and emotions didn't feel any less real than his own. At least Obi-Wan's personality seemed to be predominant, which was...a relief. It helped him fool Master Yoda and Master Windu into thinking he was the same Obi-Wan they wanted back, untainted by Padawan Kenobi's emotions.
He frowned, and caught his young face's pout in the mirror. It was rather disconcerting how much less in control of his expressions he now was. Obi-Wan couldn't remember being so expressive in his youth.
But then again, perhaps it was Anakin's influence.
Obi-Wan ground his teeth and breathed deeply, fighting the surge of need at the thought about Anakin.
That was the most disconcerting part. No matter how many times he meditated, he seemed unable to push that yearning into the mental box he had kept all his undesirable emotions in.
At least the bond was still blocked, which made things easier--somewhat.
Obi-Wan still did not know what to do about the bond. He knew Master Yoda was correct: the bond was disturbing. Disturbingly strong. It was no normal training bond between a Master and a padawan. The training bond he and Anakin used to share hadn't been a fraction as strong as the one they currently had.
Although Obi-Wan had alluded to Master Yoda that he would sever it, he found himself hesitating.
He feared for Anakin. His mental state was not good, and breaking the only remaining human connection Anakin had would almost certainly be detrimental for his emotional state.
It isn't the only reason why you don't want to break it. Stop lying to yourself, Kenobi.
Obi-Wan grimaced and ran a hand through his hair. His short, padawan hair.
His gaze fell onto his padawan braid.
Obi-Wan stared at it with mixed feelings.
He should cut it off. He was no padawan. He was a Jedi Master and Council member. He should have severed the braid already--being attached to it was illogical.
Obi-Wan sighed. No matter what his rational mind said, he failed to convince himself. A part of him was still irrationally attached to the braid and felt like cutting it off would be wrong.
His Master should be the one to do it.
Obi-Wan gritted his teeth, frustrated with himself. He had no Master. Anakin wasn't his Master. Anakin was his former padawan, a fellow general, and a friend. Nothing more.
I love you, Padawan mine.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes and breathed, trying to banish the memory from his mind.
Hot mouth pressed against his, Anakin's breath hitching as he licked into Obi-Wan's mouth, desperate and hungry--
Obi-Wan open his eyes and glared at his reflection. If he was so determined to remember irrelevant memories, perhaps he should remember the most relevant of them all.
I don't want him. I want you. I need you, not him.
Obi-Wan's throat tightened. The sting of rejection was sharp and painful, but almost welcome. It was a good reminder that he should just forget what happened while he had been Anakin's padawan.
As far as Anakin was concerned, he was no longer the boy Anakin had been so enamored with. He was a "distant father figure," nothing more.
Anakin didn't want him, never wanted and never would. He had wanted an emotional, affectionate boy Obi-Wan no longer was.
Obi-Wan's lips twisted into a humorless smile. It was hardly the first time he felt inadequate in his life, but he had to admit feeling inadequate compared to himself was a new low.
Obi-Wan knew he could not avoid Anakin forever. In fact, he was certain that the only reason he had been able to do it for days was because Anakin was avoiding him, too.
He could feel that Anakin was in the Temple: not because of the bond between them--it was still blocked--but because Obi-Wan knew his padawan's Force signature better than anything in the galaxy.
And currently, that Force signature was darker than it had ever been. By the end of the third day, Obi-Wan's concern outweighed his discomfort and irrational hurt, and he went looking for Anakin.
To his surprise, Anakin was in his own quarters.
Obi-Wan paused outside, hesitating, before using the scanner to enter. He felt awkward, as though he was breaking in. He hadn't been keyed into Anakin's security system before the de-aging ordeal. Although Anakin had offered to do it after he was Knighted, Obi-Wan declined, determined to put some distance between them, since he needed to get rid of his inappropriate attachment to his former padawan.
Considering how disturbingly codependent Anakin and his younger self had become in close proximity, it obviously had been the right decision.
It didn't feel like one, not when he now knew what it felt like to be loved by Anakin, unconditionally and without restraint.
Pushing the thought away, Obi-Wan crossed the living room area and stopped in the doorway of Anakin's bedroom.
Anakin was stretched out on the bed, fully clothed. He wasn't asleep. His eyes were open and fixed unseeingly on the ceiling, his expression blank. Obi-Wan's heart skipped a beat from fear, but then he realized how ridiculous he was being: if he could feel Anakin's Force signature, he was alive.
But being so still... it was completely unnatural for Anakin.
"Go away," Anakin said hoarsely, without looking at him.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath, fighting the yearning inside him. Master. He needed his Master. It had been too long--
Obi-Wan clenched his jaw and released those feelings into the Force. "I'm wounded, Padawan," he said lightly.
Anakin flinched at the word, as if Obi-Wan had hit him. He still wouldn't look at him.
"Have Yoda and Windu filled you in?" Anakin said.
"They have," Obi-Wan said. After a moment's hesitation, he added stiffly, "But I do remember, too."
Anakin visibly tensed, but his gaze remained on the ceiling. "How much?"
Obi-Wan hesitated again. He didn't want to admit just how vivid his memories--and emotions--were. A white lie wouldn't change anything. "It all is rather vague," he said. "Like something that happened in a dream. But I believe I remember everything."
If possible, Anakin seemed to tense even more. "Why are you here, then?" he said, his voice hard. "Are you here to lecture me for my marriage? For killing a bunch of savage animals that killed my mother?"
Obi-Wan grimaced, running a hand over his face. He didn't know what to say to that. He had been thinking about those issues and meditating for days, and to his shame, his feelings on the matter were not any different from his younger self's: although he was disturbed and disappointed, apparently he could forgive Anakin a lot.
That was precisely why Jedi were not allowed attachments.
Anakin chuckled when he didn't say anything. "Or are you here to tell me how disgusting I am for loving my underage padawan? Save your breath, Master."
Obi-Wan stared in front of him. He couldn't help but compare the way Anakin used to say Padawan--affectionate and warm--and this cold, sharp Master.
Although he and Anakin had had their share of issues, especially after the Rako Hardeen debacle, Obi-Wan had never before felt like Anakin hated him.
Now it felt like he did.
His eyes stinging, Obi-Wan had to swallow a few times before he could speak again.
"I am here to tell you that I am concerned for you, Anakin. I do not know what is going on with you, but--"
Anakin laughed, the sound sharp and ugly.
When he stopped, the sudden silence was even more jarring.
"You know what's going on with me, Master?" Anakin gritted out at last. "I have kriffing no one anymore. No one who loves me. Everything I loved was taken away from me. My mother was brutally murdered. My first padawan left me. My wife wants a divorce. My child will grow up fatherless. And my--" His voice wavered. Anakin closed his eyes and breathed. When he spoke again, his voice was less hostile but incredibly strained, "Last night I had a dream--it felt like a vision--about Padmé dying in childbirth." His voice became so toneless it sounded dead. "A month ago, that vision would have driven me crazy. I would have done anything to prevent it from happening, but now... now I know better. There is nothing I can do to stop people from leaving. They will do it anyway, so why bother? There is no point. I'm not strong enough to stop them. I never am."
Obi-Wan frowned deeply. That dejected attitude sounded nothing like Anakin. He had never seen Anakin like this. "This is not healthy, Anakin. You are depressed."
"Depressed," Anakin repeated, looking at the ceiling with the same disturbingly blank look. "Maybe I am. I feel like a river without water. Like there is a dark hole inside my chest eating me from the inside out. I know there will be nothing left once it's done with me."
Obi-Wan's heart clenched. "You shouldn't say that, Master."
Anakin went rigid.
After a moment, Obi-Wan realized what he'd just said, and flushed.
"I..." he tried, but Anakin was already moving.
Between one blink and another, Anakin was in his personal space, looking at him desperately, his gaze searching, hungry and intent. "Obi-Wan?" he croaked out, his hands gripping Obi-Wan's shoulders.
"Let go of me, Anakin," Obi-Wan said evenly, even though his heart was pounding, the bond pulsing with terrible yearning. Obi-Wan tried to release the emotion into the Force. He was a Jedi Master. He was stronger than that. "I am not him."
Anakin's searching gaze intensified, his confusion and frustration mounting. "You somehow look and don't look like him," he said. He bored his eyes into Obi-Wan's, his gaze managing to be both demanding and pleading. "Master, don't lie to me. Is he really gone?"
Obi-Wan swallowed. He wanted to say yes. He should say yes.
"Your attachment to my younger self is not healthy, Anakin," he tried. "You need to let go."
Hypocrite, a voice said at the back of his head.
"You are evading the question," Anakin said, his eyes narrowing. His gaze moved to Obi-Wan's braid and stared. Anakin's hand curled around it, something greedy in his expression. Something deeply possessive. It made Obi-Wan's insides quiver.
"Why do you still have this?" Anakin said, stroking the braid reverently. "It's been days. Surely you have had more than enough time to cut it off."
Obi-Wan dropped his gaze, not knowing what to say. He had no excuse. No easy way to explain why he hadn't removed his obsolete padawan braid.
"You called me Master," Anakin said.
Obi-Wan felt heat travel to his ears. "I misspoke," he said stiffly.
"I don't believe you," Anakin said. His hands moved along the slope of Obi-Wan's shoulders, up his neck, before cradling his face. He tipped it up, forcing Obi-Wan to meet his eyes. "You are trembling," Anakin said, watching him in fascination.
Obi-Wan glared at him. "Remove your hands, Anakin," he managed. "I realize that you did not understand the concept of personal space with your padawan, but I'm not him. Just because I look young, it does not mean I am not your Master."
Anakin stared at him with a strange, fixed look. "I know you are my Master. I would recognize this lecturing, superior tone in my sleep." Anakin's jaw clenched, his expression almost pained as his gaze roamed over Obi-Wan's face. "It's strange. I know you are the man who raised me, but I still see my Obi-Wan in you too. It's kriffing messing with my head."
"There is no your Obi-Wan," Obi-Wan said in a clipped voice. "There should never have been. What were you thinking, Anakin? Your underage padawan? The relationship you cultivated with him was bordering on unhealthy."
Anakin's intense, pinched expression didn't change. It didn't seem like he had heard him at all. He stared at Obi-Wan, his gaze lingering on his mouth. "This is really messing with my head," Anakin muttered, his brows drawn together.
Obi-Wan glared at him. "Unhand me, Anakin," he said, licking his dry lips.
Anakin's gaze followed the movement of his tongue, transfixed.
Obi-Wan breathed shallowly, his heart beating so fast he felt nearly dizzy. Or perhaps it was Anakin's scent in his nostrils, achingly familiar and good. He missed his Master. He missed him so much.
"Anakin, you don't want this," he managed as Anakin started leaning in. "I'm not him." Not only.
Anakin stopped and looked him in the eye. "Your pupils are blown, Obi-Wan." His thumb stroked Obi-Wan's bottom lip. "You are trembling. If my Obi-Wan isn't now part of you, then why?"
Obi-Wan swallowed, blushing. He could hardly tell Anakin the full truth: that he'd had inappropriate feelings for him since Anakin was seventeen.
"I understand, Master," Anakin said with something like sympathy. "All these pesky feelings and needs must feel strange and terrible for you."
Obi-Wan almost laughed--or would have laughed if Anakin didn't crowd him against the wall and press his nose against his cheek.
Oh.The feeling of Anakin's firm, muscular body against him was achingly familiar, just what he had needed all these days. Obi-Wan's eyes slipped shut, his body going pliant. It was as though his body was conditionined to this.
Anakin's parted lips skimmed over his cheek, his breathing ragged and hot. "You are not gone," he whispered, covering Obi-Wan's face with fervent, adoring kisses.
Obi-Wan's knees were so weak he would have fallen if Anakin wasn't supporting him, his breath coming in hitched gasps at every touch of Anakin's mouth.
"Sweetheart," Anakin whispered hoarsely, brushing their lips together. "Open your mouth for me."
Obi-Wan told himself to push him away. But his body no longer felt like his own, the endearment making his insides melt. His trembling lips parted and they both moaned as Anakin slipped his tongue into his mouth. Need this need you need you. Anakin's body surged forward, pinning him to the wall, and he kissed Obi-Wan ravenously, his mouth hot, possessive, and demanding. Obi-Wan could only take it, overwhelmed, small sounds slipping out of him as Anakin made love to his mouth.
Obi-Wan couldn't think anymore. It was like every touch of Anakin's tongue stripped his reservations and doubts away, leaving only the base, raw need and want. The bond between reopened, strong and thick, and Anakin groaned, sinking into him, hunger and elation filling their bond and making Obi-Wan's head spin. Yes, yes, please. Love you need you love you.
Obi-Wan shuddered, his body tingling all over as Anakin took both his mouth and his mind, Anakin's Force signature wrapping around him, oppressively strong but addictive. Anakin slipped deeper into him, their bodies grinding against each other, their gasping mouths locked in a hungry kiss.
It was an exquisite torture, because it somehow wasn't enough. Obi-Wan felt hot all over, his nipples oversensitive, his cock aching as Anakin kissed him like he wanted to consume him. Obi-Wan wanted to consume him, too. He sucked on his Master's tongue, needing him deeper, body and mind.
Anakin growled, probably catching the thought. Soon, Obi-Wan's mind was full of filthy, lewd images. Anakin's head between his legs, his tongue deep inside Obi-Wan as he reduced him into a trembling mess with deep swipes of his hungry tongue.
Obi-Wan wasn't even sure whose thought it was: Anakin's, his younger self's, or his own. To his shame, he had imagined that scenario quite a few times in the privacy of his rooms, stroking himself desperately as he imagined his padawan sucking his cock before eating Obi-Wan out, Anakin's tongue circling his sensitive rim before pushing inside.
Obi-Wan wrenched his mouth away, scared that Anakin would catch the thought and know.
"That was a mistake," Obi-Wan managed, still panting, his face hot. What had he been thinking?
Anakin was watching him with a strange, fixed expression, his pupils blown, and mouth red and shiny. "You lied. You said it was all vague, but I could feel him when I kissed you. You are still him."
Obi-Wan looked away.
"Look, Master," Anakin said. His jaw worked, his frustration clear. "I realize that all these feelings are not yours, that you never wanted them, that they confuse you and maybe even disgust you. But..." Anakin cradled Obi-Wan's face with his hands again, looking him in the eye desperately. "Don't take this away from me. Please. I need you. I do realize that it's not very healthy, to need so much, but..." His adam's apple jerked as he swallowed. "I felt like I was coming undone, but knowing that my padawan still exists in you..." Anakin smiled, a little brokenly, but mostly happy. "I feel whole again. Let me have this. Please. If you care about me at all."
Obi-Wan stared at him, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Until this de-aging ordeal, he hadn't realized that Anakin truly had no idea how much he cared for him. Obi-Wan had always felt like he was very obvious about his attachment, but it seemed he had been painfully wrong about it. Anakin wasn't good at reading between lines. Anakin needed the words. He needed physical proof of love. Obi-Wan's younger self had given him both.
Obi-Wan had given him neither.
If he were a better man, Obi-Wan would tell Anakin that he knew what it felt like to have inappropriate feelings for one's padawan.
If he were a better Jedi, Obi-Wan would say no to Anakin's request. What Anakin was asking for was a recipe for disaster, with Anakin having feelings for a boy who was only a part of Obi-Wan, a boy who would exist only if Obi-Wan allowed him.
But it seemed he was neither a better Jedi nor a better man. He couldn't deny Anakin anything when Anakin was looking at him like a drowning man at a straw held out to him.
And he couldn't tell Anakin the truth about his...feelings, either. Obi-Wan had always had trouble accepting his inappropriate attachment to his padawan. It was something he had always carefully suppressed. Acknowledging his feelings aloud seemed unthinkable, especially when they were not returned.
And they were not returned, not truly.
"You cannot be serious, Anakin," he said quietly, clenching his hands into fists to stop them from stroking Anakin's messy curls. He had become rather used to doing it as Anakin's padawan. "You need to learn to let go, not cling to an attachment that is--"
"I can't, Master," Anakin said hoarsely. "At least not yet. I'm sorry. I know it's not fair to you, to force you to deal with alien feelings you do not want or approve of--"
"Very well," Obi-Wan said, cutting him off before his guilt could overwhelm him.
Anakin stared at him, his eyes wide and searching. "Really?" he said, a smile lighting up his face.
Obi-Wan's foolish heart skipped a beat. "I believe I said so," he said.
Anakin grinned and squeezed his shoulders with his hands. "Thank you, Master," he said. He dropped his gaze and said quietly, "I missed you, you know."
Obi-Wan bit the inside of his cheek. "Did you?" he said lightly--or at least he hoped it sounded light.
But it seemed Anakin wasn't fooled. He looked at Obi-Wan with a frown. "I did," he said. He winced, looking a little sheepish. "I know I said that I needed my Obi-Wan, not you, but I didn't mean--it doesn't mean--"
"It's fine, Anakin," Obi-Wan said with a smile that hurt his face a little. "I'm sure you preferred having around my younger, much easily impressed self."
He was surprised when Anakin didn't take the bait, still frowning at him.
Right. The bond. It probably betrayed how raw Obi-Wan was feeling.
"I love you differently from the way I love my padawan, but I do love you, Master," Anakin said, looking him in the eye. He seemed a little uncomfortable and unsure, as if he wasn't at all certain his declaration was welcome.
Obi-Wan felt a rush of overwhelming affection for him, even if his heart broke a little.
"I know, Anakin," he said with a smile. "My memories are fully intact. I do remember you telling my younger self that I'm the closest thing you had to a father."
Anakin grimaced, his expression becoming vaguely sick. "Do you have to remind me how wrong it is?" he said, his gaze anywhere but Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, amused despite himself. "You have most puzzling ideas about wrong and right," he said. "You are more uncomfortable about doing inappropriate things with the man who raised you than you are about doing them with your underage padawan learner. The former is just a moral issue. The latter is punishable with expulsion from the Order and sometimes even imprisonment."
Anakin chuckled, a sheepish, slightly pinched look on his face. "You know me, Master. I'm driven by my emotions more than I'm driven by some rules. I mean, I knew that it was wrong to want my seventeen-year-old padawan, someone I was responsible for, but it didn't feel wrong. But you... I loved you since I was a kid, and it feels wrong to..."
Obi-Wan lifted his eyebrows.
Anakin flushed, raking a hand through his hair. "I know I just kissed you, but... It's hard to explain. Sometimes I look at you, and you seem like you're the same person as my padawan--you look and feel exactly the same, and it feels so right." He looked down at Obi-Wan's mouth and licked his lips. He wrenched his gaze away, back to Obi-Wan's eyes. "But then I can see only my Master in you, no matter how you now look, and it feels... weird and wrong, and I feel guilty and ashamed for needing things from you I shouldn't want, things you don't really want."
Obi-Wan felt a twinge of guilt. He crossed his arms over his chest. "I admit I am rather confused. What do you want from me, Anakin? You should spell it out, to avoid any misunderstandings."
A look of frustration flickered over Anakin's face. "I promise I'll try not to ask for too much," he said. "Just give me something, Master. Don't distance yourself from me. I'm not asking you to do anything you are uncomfortable with. Just don't break the bond. Let me feel you. And if you... if you let me hold you and touch you sometimes, it should be enough."
Obi-Wan's heart clenched. Oh Anakin.
He has never hugged me once.
Obi-Wan hadn't realized how much it bothered Anakin that he never willingly initiated physical contact with him.
Perhaps it was time to change that.
His heart in his throat, Obi-Wan stepped forward, and tentatively wrapped his arms around Anakin's larger frame.
Anakin stood frozen, his muscles rigid.
Obi-Wan had a strong sense of deja vu, reminded of the first time he had hugged Anakin as his padawan. Somehow, this was scarier. His impulsive, teenage self hadn't had decades of Jedi teachings weighing him down. His teenage self could simply do as he wanted, without feeling guilty and ashamed. Obi-Wan wasn't sure he could.
After a moment, Anakin crushed him with his arms, so tightly it hurt Obi-Wan's ribs, and buried his face against Obi-Wan's ear. "Thank you, Master," he said, his voice thick. "I love you so much."
Obi-Wan smiled, his chest full with affection and hope, even though he wasn't sure what kind of relationship they could have going forward. He hoped they could be friends--real friends, without secrets and lies between them--but he wasn't sure how feasible it was when part of Anakin clearly wanted more and Obi-Wan was still lying to Anakin, in a way. Not to mention there was a part of Obi-Wan that craved to have that codependent relationship back, craved being the object of Anakin's love, the feeling of being protected and cared for, craved the snuggles and hugs and kisses.
"No more kisses, though," Obi-Wan said, trying to sound firm.
"All right," Anakin said, his mouth brushing against Obi-Wan's earlobe.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes in exasperation.
He had a bad feeling about this.
The next morning they received their orders. Anakin was to head out with the 501st to check the latest intelligence reports on Dooku's location while Obi-Wan was to join Master Windu in his efforts to reclaim Anaxes' shipyards from Admiral Trench's fleet.
"No," Anakin said.
Windu's eyes narrowed. "I beg your pardon?" he bit out. "That was not a request, General Skywalker."
Before Anakin could tell him what he thought of him, he felt a soothing brush of Obi-Wan's mind against his. "Calm down, Anakin. I'm sure it will be another cold trail, and after a few days, you will be able to join us on Anaxes."
So Anakin swallowed his anger and accepted his orders.
But as they said their goodbyes at the spaceport, Anakin had to suppress the violent urge to grab Obi-Wan and drag him onto his ship, where he belonged, kriff it.
But Windu's hawk-like gaze on them prevented that. Obi-Wan likely wouldn't be impressed, either.
"I will see you soon," Anakin said roughly, pressing their foreheads together.
Obi-Wan was blushing, clearly uncomfortable with such a public display of affection in Master Windu's presence, but Anakin didn't give a kark about Windu's opinion.
"Promise me you will be careful," he said, wrapping his Force signature around Obi-Wan's. Be safe.
Obi-Wan sighed. "I'm not an unexperienced padawan, Anakin. Stop fretting."
He sounded unconcerned, even exasperated, but Anakin didn't believe him for a moment. He could feel Obi-Wan's discomfort at the thought of being parted from him, the discomfort Anakin fully shared.
They hadn't been apart for more than a few days in months, and considering the fragile, uncertain state of their relationship since their talk last night, now was a bad time for them to be headed to different parts of the galaxy.
"Promise me," Anakin demanded.
"I promise, Master," came a thought through their bond.
Anakin's breathing hitched.
Obi-Wan pulled back, grimacing slightly. He was blushing, unable to meet Anakin's eyes. He cleared his throat, crossing his arms over his chest. "You are the reckless one, Anakin, not me," he said dryly.
Anakin played along, slipping back into their usual banter, but he watched Obi-Wan's face carefully. It was still throwing him off every time, the fact that he could see both Obi-Wans in him. The way Obi-Wan stood was all Master Kenobi, as was the cadence of his voice, but his expressions were closer to his mini Obi-Wan's. The way Obi-Wan pursed his lips into this cutest pout and furrowed his eyebrows made Anakin's heart clench with relief and elation. His padawan really wasn't gone.
He was just now part of his Master.
Which created one hell of a mindfuck. To say that it was awkward was to say nothing. Anakin had to actively fight the urge to yank Obi-Wan into his arms and kiss him greedily by reminding himself that he would also be kissing the man who was the closest thing to a father he had ever had.
Not that he wasn't glad to have his Master back; he was. Anakin hadn't realized how much he missed his Master until he got him back.
But Force, he wished he could have two separate Obi-Wans--his Master and his padawan--instead of having them inhabiting one body. That way he wouldn't have to worry about offending his Master with his affections and could actually kiss Obi-Wan without feeling guilty and weird about it.
"Master Windu is waiting," Obi-Wan said, glancing at the Korun. "I have to go, Anakin. May the Force be with you."
Despite Obi-Wan's self-possessed facade, his Force signature was all but clinging to Anakin's.
Anakin's hands twitched toward him, the temptation to grab him and haul him toward his ship nearly irresistible.
"May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan," he said and quickly walked away while he still could.
Sithspit, he could only hope Obi-Wan was right and Anakin would be able to join them on Anaxes soon.
Though, maybe some time apart would actually do them good. Maybe it would help him figure out how to lock away this inappropriate, gut-wrenching want.
The search for Dooku was as fruitless as Obi-Wan had predicted.
By the end of the month, Anakin was so frustrated he wanted to punch someone, preferably Master Windu. It didn't help that he could barely sleep, missing Obi-Wan like a lost limb. But unlike his lost limb, it wasn't as easily replaceable. He woke up thinking about Obi-Wan and went to sleep thinking about him, if he could sleep at all.
Was Obi-Wan safe? What if he got hurt without Anakin there to watch his back? What if he had changed his mind about his promise and would be distant and aloof when Anakin saw him again?
The thought made his stomach twist into a painful knot. Only thinking about the hug his Master had given him made it loosen somewhat. Thinking about that hug soothed him in a way nothing else did.
It was strange. Anakin had hugged and held his padawan countless times and had thought he had become used to it. But somehow, being hugged by his Master felt... different, even though Obi-Wan's body fit against Anakin's exactly the same way his padawan's did. The euphoria he felt might be similar, but it was caused by different emotions, different feelings.
He loved his padawan so much--too much, probably--but that wasn't the painful, conflicted, one-sided love he had harbored for his Master for over a decade. His love for his mini Obi-Wan was an all-consuming fire and adoration. His love for his Master was a poison that had eaten him from the inside for over a decade. He had always craved his Master's affection and love, despite knowing that he shouldn't, despite Obi-Wan telling him that a Jedi wasn't supposed to have attachments. He had hated the distance between them--didn't Obi-Wan consider him family too? That resentment had driven him to other people, Padmé and the Chancellor, people who openly supported him and loved him, unlike Obi-Wan, who kept him at arm's length. So getting an actual hug from his aloof Master brought him the kind of joy that threatened to choke Anakin from the inside.
Did his Master love him after all?
The problem was, Anakin couldn't know how much his mini Obi-Wan influenced the older Obi-Wan's actions. He had no idea how it worked: were the two Obi-Wans separate personalities in one body, or were they one person, inexplicably merged? If it was the latter, he had no way to be sure that his padawan's emotions weren't simply bleeding into his Master's.
Force, what a mess.
These thoughts plagued Anakin's mind over and over, and he could barely sleep, thinking in circles and obsessing.
Even when he managed a few hours of sleep, the nightmares about Padmé's death ruined it.
He didn't know what to think of them. Were they visions? Anakin wasn't certain anymore that they were. The nightmares were nowhere near as vivid as they had been on Coruscant, more distorted and vague. If they were true visions, shouldn't they feel the same? Why were they so distorted?
Real or not, they still worried him, adding to his anxiety.
Force, he missed Obi-Wan. He wanted to bury his face against Obi-Wan's nape, breathe in his sweet, familiar scent, and forget about everything else. He wanted to forget about the nightmares, the divorce files Padmé had sent to his datapad, his concern for Ahsoka, his frustrations with the Council, and his twisted, contradictory feelings for his Master and his padawan.
He wanted Obi-Wan, ached for him in a way he had never ached for anyone in his life, not even Padmé.
By the time he was finally allowed to abandon his pointless mission and join Obi-Wan and Windu's forces on Anaxes, Anakin was a right mess. His own men were avoiding him, eyeing him like a ticking bomb, and frankly, Anakin couldn't blame them: he felt like he could go off at the slightest provocation.
He marched through the camp, heading straight to Obi-Wan's familiar tent.
He entered it and came to an abrupt halt upon seeing Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan was bent over the maps, studying them with a frown, but his head snapped up the moment Anakin entered the tent.
They stared at each other. Anakin licked his lips, feeling like a thirsty man in the desert, yearning for water he could see but not drink.
"You look different," Anakin heard himself say.
Obi-Wan shrugged slightly and didn't say anything, his expression a little wary--and something else.
Anakin walked closer. "How did it grow so fast?" he said, looking at the red strands framing Obi-Wan's face. Obi-Wan's hair was almost as long as it had been before the Clone Wars.
"I requested one other exposure to the artifact," Obi-Wan said, his gaze flickering around the room before settling on Anakin. It seemed he was having trouble maintaining eye contact. "There were some technical problems with restoring my rank of a general while I was still registered as underage. Getting me physically of age was the easiest route we could take without dealing with mountains of paperwork." He touched his hair, a little self-consciously. "I simply didn't bother getting a haircut after the last aging procedure."
Anakin nodded, still staring at Obi-Wan's hair.
Obi-Wan crossed his arms over his chest. "It is just hair, Anakin," he said.
Anakin frowned and gave him a sharp look. Although Obi-Wan's tone was light, he could sense something off through their bond. "Of course it's just hair. But I like it--I have always liked the haircut you had before the Clone Wars."
'Liked' was something of an understatement. Anakin had always thought his Master looked kind of lovely with longer hair, like those old artworks of beautiful gods, untouchable and perfect: one could look at them but not touch. Never touch.
Obi-Wan studied him with a strange expression before averting his gaze. "Well, it is not the same haircut exactly," he said, touching the--
Anakin stared at it. "You still have it," he said. His heartbeat picking up, he looked from the braid to Obi-Wan's eyes. "Why?"
Two spots of color appeared on Obi-Wan's high cheekbones, a look of discomfort on his face. He looked down, his long, red-gold eyelashes almost touching his pale cheeks.
Anakin's mouth went dry. Kriff. He had expected that this perverse attraction, this want would fade once he adjusted to the fact that his Master was back, but so far it didn't seem to be happening. He just felt like a bigger pervert, for wanting to shove his tongue down his pseudo-father's throat.
Cutting that train of thought off--what the kriff was wrong with him?--Anakin studied the other Jedi. He gently probed Obi-Wan's mind.
"What is it?" he asked through the bond, trying not to lose himself in the exquisite feeling of touching Obi-Wan's mind again. Obi-Wan felt confusingly like his younger self, and it was increasingly difficult for Anakin to remember that it was his Master, not his padawan. His Master, who didn't have those kinds of feelings for him and who disapproved of attachment.
"Tell me," he said through the bond, knowing it would be more difficult for Obi-Wan to lie to him when they communicated mentally. "You can tell me anything."
Obi-Wan sighed, emanating indecision. He still didn't speak, but a memory flashed through their bond. A slightly older Obi-Wan, his face terribly blank as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror, his eyes shiny with unshed tears as he cut off his own padawan braid.
The memory was gone as fast as it appeared, the bond filling with Obi-Wan's discomfort and shame.
Oh, Anakin thought, his heart clenching. He hadn't known who had severed Obi-Wan's padawan braid after Qui-Gon's death. For some reason, he had assumed it was Yoda or Windu; he'd had no idea Obi-Wan had been the one to do it. A padawan should never cut their own braid.
Pulling out of the connection, Anakin met Obi-Wan's eyes. "Do you want me to cut your braid?"
A series of conflicting emotions flickered over Obi-Wan's face. "That would be illogical," he said, avoiding his gaze. "I am no longer a padawan. I was knighted years ago. It is just a braid."
"Obi-Wan," Anakin said. "Look at me."
Obi-Wan did, his expression a little guarded.
"You lost your first Master before he could cut your braid, and I lost my first padawan before I could cut hers," Anakin said, taking Obi-Wan's braid into his hand. He stared at it, remembering the first time he had made it for Obi-Wan, the excitement and pride in his padawan's eyes. Anakin's throat closed up a little. "Let me do this for you," he said, looking Obi-Wan in the eye. "Please. I want to."
Obi-Wan's face softened. He gave a small nod.
Anakin ignited his lightsaber but paused, looking at the braid with mixed emotions. He did want to do this for Obi-Wan, but part of him didn't want to cut it. With the braid gone, it would be as though his mini Obi-Wan had never existed.
"Do not cut it off completely," Obi-Wan said suddenly. "Leave one-third of it."
Exhaling, Anakin gave a clipped nod. He brought his blade to the braid and cut most of it, leaving a short braid that wasn't much longer than the rest of Obi-Wan's hair. If one didn't look too closely, it wasn't noticeable.
But it was still there.
Tearing his greedy gaze from it, Anakin handed the severed braid to Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan shook his head. "You should keep it," he said, his voice light and casual. "If you want it."
Anakin looked down at the braid and back into Obi-Wan's eyes. "Thank you," he said, carefully folding the braid and putting it into the pocket of his robes. He cleared his throat, trying to get rid of the lump in it. "It means a lot to me. You were the best padawan one could ask for."
Obi-Wan pursed his lips tightly and nodded, dropping his gaze again. He looked... There seemed to be something almost fragile about him at that moment.
Anakin frowned. He had thought his Master would be relieved to be rid of the last thing that would remind him of his surreal experiences as Anakin's padawan, but Obi-Wan looked tense. Small.
Anakin's hands twitched toward him and he had to clasp them behind his back to stop himself. He was just misreading it. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't need comfort. He was a perfect Jedi. He was kriffing perfect, period.
"How is the campaign going?" he said, breaking the strained silence.
Obi-Wan launched into the mission report, his tone official and very neutral, as if Anakin was the Jedi Council and not his friend.
Anakin hummed and nodded at appropriate times, eyeing Obi-Wan carefully. Try as he might, he couldn't get a read on him. Although his shoulders looked tense and his body language was off, Obi-Wan was shielding himself hard, not allowing Anakin to sense his emotions.
It was starting to make Anakin angry. Despite his promise not to distance himself, Obi-Wan was doing it once again: building walls between them and keeping him at arm's length. As usual, his Master was too much of a perfect Jedi to ever admit that he could be upset and in need of comfort. Obi-Wan was clearly back to his "there is no emotion" shit. Untouchable. Aloof. A model Jedi. Some things never changed.
We are the same person, Master.
The memory of his padawan's words cleared the angry haze starting to cloud Anakin's mind.
I'm not leaving you. We are the same person, Master.
Anakin frowned, unsure if he believed it. Despite loving both Obi-Wans, he couldn't quite think of them as the same person. He fucking adored his padawan, loved his warmth, his kindness, his emotional face and his soft smiles, the way he needed Anakin and looked at him as if Anakin were his everything, the way he never judged him for being less than perfect. Anakin wanted to give his mini Obi-Wan the world, keep him safe and happy and his.
His love for his Master was... different. More frustrating, more bitter, harder. It was a toxic yearning Anakin had been trying to extinguish for over a decade, knowing that it was unwanted and disapproved. He both hated and loved his Master for being so inherently perfect and good, worshipped him and loathed him, wanted to be important to him and resented him, wanted to own him, to force Obi-Wan to love him.
Those two loves were nothing like each other, so it was no wonder he kept thinking of two Obi-Wans as different persons.
But were they?
Hesitantly, Anakin laid his hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, interrupting him mid-sentence. His Master stiffened, looking at him with an unreadable expression.
Oh, kriff it. If he was wrong, he would just get a lecture on attachments and the Jedi way; it would hardly be the first time.
Anakin pulled Obi-Wan close.
He had expected resistance. He had expected stiffness. He hadn't expected for Obi-Wan to melt into him.
It was all the permission Anakin needed to crush him in his arms. Obi-Wan made a small sound, his arms coming up to hug him back. They clung to each other desperately, not a hair's breadth between them, their bond going wild with joy. "Force, I missed you," Anakin said, burying his face against Obi-Wan's silky hair and breathing, for what felt like the first time in forever.
Obi-Wan didn't say anything, but Anakin didn't expect him to. His body language said it all: the way he melted into Anakin, his Force signature radiating relief, need, and joy.
"You feel thinner," Anakin said, running his hands over Obi-Wan's back, up and down. Obi-Wan trembled and remained quiet.
Anakin's brows furrowed, concern twisting his stomach. "Talk to me," he said softly, nuzzling against Obi-Wan's ear and breathing in his addictive scent. "What do you need, Master?"
"Please do not call me that."
Frowning, Anakin pulled back to look him in the eye. "Why not?"
Obi-Wan sighed, a deep wrinkle appearing between his brows. Extracting himself from Anakin's arms, he walked to his bed and sat down. Looking down at his own hands, Obi-Wan said quietly, "I am still having trouble adjusting to two sets of memories and beliefs. It is rather disorienting to be called Master when I feel like you are both my former padawan and my Master." He ran a hand over his face and heaved a sigh again, looking very tired, the dark circles under his eyes suddenly obvious.
Worried, Anakin walked over and dropped to his knees before him. Taking Obi-Wan's hands into his own, he looked him in the eye. "That is not all, is it?"
Obi-Wan shook his head, his jaw clenching. "I find myself questioning everything I am, everything I believe in. My experiences as your padawan have changed me, shaken my faith in the Jedi Code and the Council: two things I have always firmly believed in. The part of me that was your padawan can't help but notice the hypocrisy of the Jedi Council, things I would have ignored before. I feel... conflicted, Anakin. I do not know who I am anymore, what I believe in." Obi-Wan closed his eyes, and Anakin could sense him release his emotions into the Force--try, and fail.
Anakin had never before seen his Master fail to give his emotions to the Force. Never. That, more than anything, made it obvious how much Obi-Wan was struggling.
"It must be really confusing," Anakin said sympathetically, stroking Obi-Wan's fingers. He braced himself and forced out, "Do you... do you want me to go?" Although he hated the thought of any distance between them now that they were finally close, Obi-Wan's mental state was more important. He was probably the biggest source of inner conflict for Obi-Wan, his younger self's love for Anakin a foreign, strange emotion that likely unsettled and maybe even disgusted his Master.
Obi-Wan opened his eyes and stared at him for a long moment.
"No," he said at last. His adam's apple bobbed up and down. "I have always felt better with you than without you, Anakin. That has never changed, no matter how old I am."
Anakin's heart jumped into his throat, elation coursing through his veins. This was the closest his Master had ever come to admitting attachment to him.
He brought Obi-Wan's hands to his mouth and kissed them, reverently. He felt Obi-Wan's fingers tremble.
"Tell me what you need," Anakin said, looking at Obi-Wan intently. "I will do anything for you."
Obi-Wan just stared at him for a while.
"Who do you see when you look at me, Anakin?"
Anakin hesitated, unsure how to respond. It felt like a trick question. "I see Obi-Wan," he said, hoping the answer was good enough.
Obi-Wan shook his head, a wry, twisted smile on his lips. "Imagine that I have never been your padawan," he said. "You would not be kissing my hands like this."
Anakin scowled, feeling guilty and frustrated--he didn't understand what Obi-Wan wanted from him. This hot and cold treatment was getting old. How could Obi-Wan be so needy for affection one moment and then criticize Anakin for giving him the affection the next?
"I'm sorry," he bit out stiffly, letting go of Obi-Wan's hands. "I will not touch you anymore if it offends you." He got to his feet and turned away, but a hand on his wrist stopped him.
Anakin clenched his jaw.
He turned--and his anger lessened when he saw the vulnerable, lost expression on Obi-Wan's face. He had never seen his Master look this unguarded. Obi-Wan dropped his gaze, his long eyelashes almost touching his cheeks. "Don't go," he said, looking anywhere but Anakin. "Stay with me for the night."
Anakin's heart skipped a beat. Licking his lips, he stared at Obi-Wan, confused, delighted, and frustrated in equal measure.
What the kriff do you want from me, Obi-Wan?
Obi-Wan's cheeks were a little pink. "I have been having trouble sleeping," he said stiffly, almost defensively. "I have not slept in almost three days--"
Anakin cut him off, "All right."
The tension in Obi-Wan's shoulders eased slightly. He pulled off his beige tunic and reached for his belt.
Anakin tore his gaze away and started undressing, trying to calm his racing heart.
Nothing was going to happen. This was his Master, not his padawan--at least not only. His Master didn't want him. And Anakin didn't want him that way, either. That would be gross and wrong.
Anakin could see in his peripheral vision that Obi-Wan was looking at him. His blue-gray eyes were following Anakin's fingers as he unbuttoned his shirt.
Anakin's abdominal muscles clenched as Obi-Wan's gaze moved to them before shifting downwards, to Anakin's fly.
Anakin felt himself start to harden, to his frustration and bewilderment. Kriff, his body was just confused.
Turning his back to Obi-Wan, he undid his fly and slipped his Jedi pants off, staying only in his black undergarments.
When he turned back, Obi-Wan was already in the bed. He was lying on his side, in his off-white undershirt and undergarments.
Anakin stared at the vulnerable curve of his shoulder and neck, his mouth dry.
Swallowing, he climbed into the bed. For a moment, he just looked at Obi-Wan's tense back, hesitating. He shouldn't presume.
But Obi-Wan had asked him to stay and help him sleep. And there was only one thing that had helped his padawan sleep in the past: being held by Anakin. If his Master and his padawan really were one person, it should still help.
The problem was, Anakin wasn't sure he could cuddle Obi-Wan in his current state. He hadn't shared a bed with his padawan after stopping being in denial about his feelings, so Anakin had no idea if he could keep his hands to himself. He had never exactly been good at self-restraint, and for some reason, his body didn't seem to realize that this was his Master and not his padawan.
All right, there was no need to be weirded out. It would obviously take time before he adjusted to having his Master back. This problem would likely go away after a while.
"What are you waiting for, Anakin?" Obi-Wan said, his voice sardonic.
Anakin took a deep breath, willing his arousal away. The mental image of Yoda having sex with Windu finally did the job.
Feeling more or less in control, he draped himself behind Obi-Wan's back, putting his arm around his waist. He felt Obi-Wan exhale and sag back into his embrace, felt his muscles become loose and relaxed. They still fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Within moments, Obi-Wan's breathing evened out, as if his body had been waiting for this--waiting for him--to finally relax and fall asleep. It filled Anakin's chest with fierce protectiveness and strange, twisted satisfaction.
He should have told Windu to go kriff himself. He should have come here sooner. Obi-Wan clearly still needed him, no matter what he said--at least the part of him that was Anakin's padawan did.
Obi-Wan needed him.
Obi-Wan needed him.
The thought was like a powerful drug.
Heat traveled down Anakin's body, his cock hardening again. Trying to will the inappropriate arousal away, Anakin buried his face against Obi-Wan's nape. Force, that was a terrible idea. Obi-Wan's scent assaulted his senses, and Anakin shuddered, wanting. He nuzzled into Obi-Wan's neck, inhaling that scent deeply, unable to get enough.
It took him a long time before he finally drifted off.
Anakin wasn't sure what he was doing in his rooms in the Jedi Temple. Last he remembered, he had fallen asleep in Obi-Wan's tent.
His room looked like it should, but there was a strange, surreal quality to it.
He was dreaming, Anakin realized. But everything felt too vivid for a normal dream.
Anakin whipped around and his eyes widened when he saw Obi-Wan sitting on the bed.
It was his padawan. Anakin knew it instantly from the way Obi-Wan held himself, from the soft, affectionate expression of his eyes, the way he looked at Anakin, his face open and trusting.
How? Why? Where was...?
His mind was racing in confusion, but his body was already moving. Anakin dropped to his knees in front of Obi-Wan, his hands cradling that beloved face. "Obi-Wan?" he whispered, his voice cracking.
Obi-Wan smiled crookedly. "I told you, Master: I am not leaving you."
Anakin pressed their foreheads together, his breathing ragged. "I don't understand," he said, hugging Obi-Wan tightly, joy spreading through his entire being. "How? Is this a dream?"
"It is, and it isn't," Obi-Wan murmured, threading his fingers through Anakin's curls. He leaned his cheek against Anakin's and all but purred happily. "I am using our bond. My older self is asleep, and it is easier for me to communicate when his thoughts and emotions are not clouding mine. I wanted to talk to you without him noticing. I need your help, Master. Or rather, we need your help."
Anakin's brain tried to process that, but it was difficult to focus on anything but Obi-Wan. He sat down on the bed, pulled Obi-Wan into his lap and wrapped himself around him. Force, he couldn't hold him tight enough. There was something unsatisfying about this, because he knew it wasn't real. He couldn't smell Obi-Wan. He could feel him in his arms, but it felt surreal. "I thought I lost you. I thought I would never see you again."
Obi-Wan sighed. "Don't be silly, Master. You are happy to have him back."
"You know it's not the same," Anakin said. "I love him, but... I wish I could have you both."
"But you can, Master," Obi-Wan said, stroking Anakin's hair. Anakin caught his fingers and brought them to his lips. Obi-Wan let out a shuddering breath. He cleared his throat before continuing. "We are the same person. We are just diffirent shades of the same soul. I do not really think of my older self as 'him'--I'm using that term for your sake. He is me. We are us. We are trying to adjust to each other's beliefs and emotions, and it is more difficult than I expected, but when our personalities will eventually merge, neither of us will disappear. We will be just more in balance, the boundaries between our thoughts and feelings gone."
Anakin scowled, unconvinced. "Are you calling the hot and cold treatment he just gave me 'balance'?"
Obi-Wan looked a little sheepish. "That was my fault," he admitted, dropping his gaze. He chewed on his bottom lip. "I might have been... too forceful about needing you close. It exhausted him. He is tired, conflicted, and sleep-deprived, Master. Be kind to him. He is not like me. He is more vulnerable in some ways."
Anakin made a disbelieving noise. His Master was the strongest, most resilient person he knew.
The look Obi-Wan gave him was a little disapproving. "Unlike me, my older self has not grown up being confident in his self-worth. He didn't have a Master who treated him like he was his personal sun." Obi-Wan's cheeks pinked a little when Anakin mouthed you are. "He had a Master who didn't want to take him on as a padawan and even after he did, Qui-Gon was still cold to him, half-expecting him to Fall, like his old padawan did. So he always strove to be better, to be good enough, and that is why you have this impression of him being perfect and unemotional when he actually is anything but. His sense of self-worth is... very messed-up, Master. It didn't help that you never chose him as your Master, either, that he was just a replacement for Qui-Gon."
Anakin opened his mouth to say that it wasn't true, but... it kind of was, at least for his first few years as Obi-Wan's padawan: as a boy, he had resented that he had such a distant Knight for a teacher instead of Master Qui-Gon, who had actually seemed to like him and had been fatherly and friendly, unlike Obi-Wan, who had stared at Anakin like he was a strange creature he didn't understand. And Anakin knew he hadn't been subtle about that sentiment. I wish Master Qui-Gon were my Master, not you. How many times had he told Obi-Wan that when he was angry? Too many.
"You can still fix it, Master." Obi-Wan said, as if reading his guilty thoughts. "That's why I'm telling you this. You need to know this to understand our current difficulties--and to help him."
"Help him?" Anakin said.
Something like hesitation flickered in Obi-Wan's eyes. "You are the only person who can. You are... important to him, Master."
Before Anakin could ask what the kriff that was supposed to mean, Obi-Wan continued quickly, "My point is, he has never considered himself good enough. He has always felt rather inadequate as a padawan and then as a master. No one has ever put him first. But my experiences were completely different thanks to you." Obi-Wan smiled softly at Anakin, his smile small but breathtaking. "You doted on me and catered to all my needs as I grew up, you encouraged me to express emotion and showered me with affection and care. You have always put me first."
Anakin nuzzled into his cheek. "You deserved it."
Obi-Wan's cheek warmed against his mouth. He cleared his throat. "My point is, our experiences were completely different, Master. And that's probably the biggest reason why our personalities are having trouble merging fully: he cannot accept that he can feel the way I feel, that y--other people can feel that way about him."
Anakin frowned, his stomach twisting. Surely that couldn't be right.
But Obi-Wan's gaze was completely serious as he pulled back a little to look Anakin in the eye. "Even though he pretends to be strong, pretends that he doesn't need anything, it is not true. Please keep that in mind, Master. I think if you can make him believe that he is good enough the way he is, he will stop trying to reject my emotions and thoughts and will stop tearing himself--us--apart over it."
Anakin furrowed his brows, unsure what to think. He still had trouble wrapping his mind around the idea of his Master feeling inadequate and insecure. Obi-Wan Kenobi, the model Jedi, the famous Negotiator and one of the youngest Council members, inadequate? It seemed ridiculous.
But his padawan wouldn't lie to him.
Running a hand through his hair, Anakin heaved a sigh, looking at Obi-Wan curiously. "How does it even work? Two personalities in one body?"
Obi-Wan shrugged, forcing a weak smile. "I have to admit it is rather exhausting to constantly fight myself and question every emotion I have."
Force, that sounded fucked up.
"That sounds horrible," Anakin said.
Obi-Wan sighed. He put his head on Anakin's shoulder and clung to him like a child. He didn't say anything, but he didn't need to: Anakin could feel how unhappy he was. How tired he felt. How badly he needed comfort.
Anakin's heart clenched with worry. "Tell me how I can help." I will do anything for you.
Obi-Wan pulled back and smiled at him softly. "You already know what to do, Master. And you are good at it. His needs are not that different from mine."
Anakin snorted. "Right."
"We are not that different."
Anakin smiled, pressing his thumb against Obi-Wan's nose. "You literally just told me you are different, baby Obi-Wan."
The unimpressed look Obi-Wan gave him was the cutest. "I told you of the differences between our upbringing so that you would realize he and I are not that different fundamentally, Master."
Anakin sighed. He needed time to think about it. It all was making his head hurt.
But they didn't have time, did they?
Anakin's stomach dropped at the thought, his arm around Obi-Wan tightening.
He pressed their foreheads together, suddenly acutely aware that he might never see his padawan again--at least not this him. "You know what I mean, love," he said, his voice rough. "There are things he can't give me." Anakin trailed his mouth over his padawan's smooth cheek, looking at his plush lips, his heart beating fast against his ribcage. "Force, I love you so much I want to consume you, to crawl inside of you, and never get out."
"Master," Obi-Wan whispered, his pink tongue emerging to lick his lips.
They stared at each other longingly, their bond pulsing with raw need.
And Anakin snapped.
He slammed their mouths together, and it was like a dam was finally broken: they moaned and grabbed each other, need washing over their bond and overwhelming all their senses as they kissed desperately. They toppled onto the bed, lips locked, straining close, arching hungrily into each other, Obi-Wan sucking on his tongue with small, shameless moans, his legs locked around Anakin's waist.
Anakin tore his mouth away and latched onto his neck, sucking hungry hickeys, his hands working on Obi-Wan's clothes.
"Stop," Obi-Wan whispered breathlessly. "Master, stop."
Anakin went rigid, breathing hard.
He lifted his head and stared at Obi-Wan's flushed face, his red, swollen lips and eyes glazed with want. Force, he was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. "Why?" he croaked out.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath. "It would only make everything worse, Master," he said, looking pained. "When it happens, I should not be the only one you see."
It took Anakin's hazy brain a few moments to understand what he meant. He flushed. "I told you: I don't want my Master that way."
Obi-Wan eyed him for a moment before sitting up. "Are you saying the idea repulses you?" he said curiously.
Anakin's jaw tightened, his face hot. "He's like a father to me, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan cocked his head to the side. "You always say that, but I'm not sure you know what it means, Master. You have never had a father. How do you know that the love you feel for him is that for a father?"
"What are you hinting at?" Anakin said testily.
Obi-Wan kissed his cheek and hugged him. "Don't be angry, Master. I'm not hinting at anything. I'm just saying that you are always so... intense about him. You have so much pent-up bitterness and yearning, and they're passionate--not exactly the kinds of feelings one normally feels for a father, to my understanding."
Anakin's lips thinned. "Of course I'm passionate about him. I have loved him for half of my life. Doesn't mean I want to stick my cock in him."
Obi-Wan chuckled. "So are you saying the idea disgusts you?"
Anakin opened his mouth, wanting to say yes, but then he paused and actually imagined it: his Master under him, naked, his eyes glassy with pleasure as he came apart on Anakin's cock.
Fuck. It was so wrong. That was the man who had raised him, but instead of repulsing him, the thought brought a twisted surge of arousal through his body.
He imagined thrusting into his Master, fucking him for hours, until Anakin's name would be the only thing Obi-Wan would remember. He imagined coming deep inside his Master, filling him with his seed, marking him up from the inside, dirtying him up with his bodily fluids.
Anakin let out a shaky breath.
Obi-Wan smiled against his cheek. "Well, that definitely makes things easier," he murmured, kissing the corner of Anakin's mouth. "Think about it, Master. You can have us both."
Anakin woke up, breathing raggedly, and stared at the ceiling of the tent, his cock painfully hard.
A dream. Just a weird dream.
But was it?
Turning his head, he found his Master sleeping peacefully beside him.
Anakin stared at him, guilt and confusion churning his insides. Had he really gotten so aroused imagining fucking his Master and dirtying him up with his come? The man who had raised him? It was fucked up.
Kark. Windu was right to want to expel him: he was a kriffing pervert.
But no matter how hard he tried, Anakin couldn't push Obi-Wan's words out of his mind.
Think about it, Master. You can have us both.
You can have us both.
You can have us both.
Warning: explicit sexual content
Check out the fanart of a gorgeous young Obi-Wan with longer hair by @dalbe_retusa! Of course Anakin can't keep his hands off him!
And also thank you to @just_kiss_already who has sketched a very lovely fanart inspired by this fic.
Thank you, guys, you're amazing! ❤️ And also thank you to all the lovely people who commented on this story: your comments and kudos mean so much to me. I hope you and your loved ones are all well and healthy!
He couldn't stop thinking about it.
Anakin would have liked for the Seps to provide some distraction, but as luck would have it, the shipyards were completely secured next morning after a brief battle, and for the rest of the day he had nothing to do but obsess about the dream he'd had last night.
To make things worse, Obi-Wan's flagship had suffered heavy damages and the 212th--and their General--were transferred to Anakin's ship.
"It's good to have you back, Commander," Rex said before wincing. "I mean, General."
Obi-Wan smiled at him genially. "I do not mind. Your confusion is understandable. It is good to see you again, Captain."
"I'm really glad you are back, General," Rex said with a smile. "The boys can finally breathe out."
Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. "Pardon?"
"The General's had a bit of a temper lately," Rex said before snapping his gaze to Anakin and grimacing. "No disrespect meant, sir."
Anakin snorted, but before he could say anything, Obi-Wan cut in, "Have you been terrorizing your men, Anakin?" He had a deeply unimpressed look on his face that somehow managed to be a mix of his Master's sardonic amusement and his padawan's gentle disapproval.
Anakin wanted to kiss that look off his face.
He took a deep breath, more than a little freaked out. Had he always had these thoughts about his Master? Or had his padawan just put them into his head?
Either way, once the idea had taken root in his mind, it wouldn't kriffing leave.
Now even his Master's mannerisms in Obi-Wan didn't weird him out enough to stop Anakin from wanting. Now those mannerisms, mixed with his padawan's, just fascinated him. Made him stare.
He knew Obi-Wan had caught him staring a few times, but he hadn't addressed it so far, just shooting him slightly puzzled, questioning looks.
He was giving Anakin that puzzled look again, and Anakin flushed, realizing that he'd been just staring for a while without saying anything, like a besotted fool.
"No more than usual," Anakin said, looking away before his gaze was drawn back to Obi-Wan's face.
Force, he was just so lovely. Anakin's hands itched to touch, his mouth dry with the urge to kiss that dimpled chin and those pretty, soft lips.
"I respectfully disagree, General," Rex said dryly.
Anakin flinched, having forgotten about his presence.
The amused, understanding look in Rex's eyes made Anakin scowl and then glare at his second-in-command until Rex mumbled something and excused himself.
"You are just proving his point, Anakin," Obi-Wan said.
Anakin decided to change the subject.
"You look tired, you should rest," he said, laying a hand on Obi-Wan's lower back and gently steering him down the corridor toward his room. "We are a bit overcrowded right now. I hope you don't mind sharing my cabin." He cleared his throat a little. "Your bed is still there."
He carefully didn't look at Obi-Wan, bracing himself for No.
But Obi-Wan just nodded after a moment and allowed Anakin to lead him toward his cabin.
Once they reached it, there was an awkward moment when they just looked at the two beds. Anakin hoped Obi-Wan wouldn't notice that his bed was rumpled while Anakin's own was pristine, untouched.
But of course Obi-Wan noticed. He noticed everything. "Have you been sleeping in my bed, Anakin?" he said, a strange inflection in his voice.
"Technically, it is mine. This is my ship." Anakin winced as soon as the words left his mouth. That wasn't exactly his best moment.
Obi-Wan's raised eyebrow conveyed his amusement. "I'm sure you do not sleep in Rex's bed just because it is technically yours," he said wryly.
"I could, if I wanted to," Anakin said, taking a step toward Obi-Wan, then another, drawn by the pull of his eyes.
The tip of Obi-Wan's tongue emerged to wet his lips, and Anakin had to suppress the urge to lick his own, too.
"Have you not been sleeping well, either?" Obi-Wan said, standing still as Anakin moved into his personal space.
"What do you think?" Anakin said with a rueful smile. "I missed you," he admitted, looking into Obi-Wan's eyes.
Obi-Wan swallowed, something conflicted about his Force signature.
"You mean you missed your padawan," he said lightly.
Anakin frowned, suddenly remembering what his mini-Obi-Wan had told him about the older Obi-Wan's low sense of self-worth. He hadn't thought of it much, his mind fixating on the last part of the dream, but now... Could it be true?
"No," Anakin said before sighing. "Didn't we have this conversation when you were my padawan? You don't have to be someone else, Obi-Wan. You don't have to be anything. I will not deny that I miss the simplicity of you being my padawan, but it doesn't mean I wish you were my padawan. I don't."
The skeptical, uncertain expression in Obi-Wan's eyes made Anakin's heart clench. Could his Master really be so insecure? It still seemed unthinkable--he had always thought of his Master as perfect: Obi-Wan Kenobi was so charismatic, intelligent, capable, and inherently good. Anakin often felt like he was none of those things, which was partly why he had rebelled so often as a padawan despite worshipping his Master.
The puzzling part was, he couldn't remember his Master ever being so transparent with his emotions. His Master had always seemed to have an easy smile on his lips and a sardonic tilt of his eyebrow regardless of what he was doing, even when he was fighting for his life or being tortured. This vulnerability Anakin could now glimpse was more than a little surprising.
But then again, maybe it shouldn't have been. His mini Obi-Wan's more emotional mannerisms clearly affected his Master. That was why Anakin could now see what he would have missed before; not because his Master had never felt uncertain or vulnerable.
The realization was startling.
And it made Anakin realize that he needed to make himself vulnerable, too, to make Obi-Wan feel more on an equal footing.
But Force, it was nerve-wracking: to talk about attachment with the man who had always discouraged it.
Anakin cleared his throat. "I was--still am--a mess without you. Sleeping in your bed helped a little, but it was not the same." He took Obi-Wan's hand into his flesh one. Looked him in the eye. "I'm so kriffing attached to you I have no idea how to unattach myself, how to live without thinking about you all the kriffing time."
Obi-Wan caught his bottom lip between his teeth before releasing it, red, pretty, and shiny, and Anakin tried hard not to stare.
Obi-Wan remained quiet, just looking at Anakin. But he wasn't lecturing him on the Jedi way, either.
Encouraged, Anakin said, "Sleep with me tonight?"
Anakin smiled at him, squeezed his hand, and let go of it. "You can use the fresher first."
By the time Obi-Wan returned to the room, Anakin had convinced himself that nothing was going to happen. Just because he got inappropriately aroused thinking about fucking his Master, it didn't mean reality had anything to do with it. People got aroused by the strangest thoughts they would never act on.
Nothing was going to happen.
Anakin repeated it in front of the mirror in the fresher as he finished his nightly routine before returning to the room.
Obi-Wan was already in his bed, lying on his side. His beige undergarments were very modest, but his smooth, shapely legs were bare.
Anakin didn't imagine them wrapped around his waist, or thrown over his shoulders as he--
Licking his lips, Anakin climbed into the bed and lay on his back beside Obi-Wan.
He looked at the ceiling of the room unseeingly, his cock half-hard. He gritted his teeth, frustrated and disgusted with himself.
This was the man who had raised him. What the kriff was wrong with him? It was one thing to want to stick his cock into the younger version of his Master, whose personality and mannerisms were different from his Master; and it was completely another to still want to stick his cock into his Master, the man he had adored as a young boy.
Though how is it any different from you and Padmé?
The thought made Anakin frown. It was true that he had loved Padmé and Obi-Wan since he was a boy. The difference was, he had always seen Padmé as a love interest while Obi-Wan had been a father figure from the beginning. But no, that wasn't true: Qui-Gon had been. Anakin couldn't deny that his brief acquaintance with Qui-Gon had left an impression in his young mind. Qui-Gon had seemed so wise, kind, and fatherly. When Obi-Wan replaced Qui-Gon, Anakin kind of... just transferred the fatherly role to him, even though it was ill-fitting.
Sithspit, could it be possible that he had simply tried to fit his feelings for his Master into those for a father, because he had wanted a father figure?
His mini Obi-Wan was right that his feelings for his Master were too intense and passionate to fit the role of a father. It probably wasn't normal to need one's father so much, or yearn to possess him, make him belong to him.
Kark, had he been just deluding himself all these years?
Mulling it over, Anakin turned his head and looked at Obi-Wan. He didn't need to poke at their bond to know he wasn't asleep: the tense line of Obi-Wan's body betrayed it.
Anakin hesitated, wanting to hold him but knowing that he couldn't while his cock was still half-hard.
Taking a deep breath, he willed his erection down, imagining the most disgusting things possible.
Yoda and Windu.
Yoda and Windu, naked.
Yoda bouncing on Windu's cock and saying, "Harder, you must plow me."
Ugh. Sometimes Anakin kriffing hated his brain, but the mental image did the job.
He moved closer and spooned Obi-Wan from behind, putting his arm around his waist.
He felt Obi-Wan tense for a moment before relaxing back into him.
Anakin was the opposite of relaxed. His body felt hot, his cock becoming hard again. Trying to keep their hips apart, Anakin buried his face against Obi-Wan's silky hair. Force. He nuzzled against Obi-Wan's neck, inhaling his scent shallowly, unable to get enough.
Was he imagining it or was Obi-Wan trembling?
Anakin mouthed behind Obi-Wan's ear. This was platonic enough. It didn't mean anything. He had promised Obi-Wan he wouldn't kiss him anymore, but surely this didn't count as kissing.
His heart pounding, Anakin held his breath, waiting for Obi-Wan's protests.
There were none. Obi-Wan was very quiet, his breathing slightly uneven but his body pliant in Anakin's arms. Trusting.
Anakin trailed his mouth to Obi-Wan's earlobe and nipped at it.
Obi-Wan shuddered, his breath hitching.
Anakin told himself to stop. This was wrong. What was he doing, molesting the man who had raised him? Part of Obi-Wan might want this--the part that had been Anakin's padawan--but his Master surely didn't. This was wrong. He should stop.
But it was as though his body was no longer his own. His hand slipped under Obi-Wan's shirt and stroked his soft, silky smooth stomach. His tongue was now grazing Obi-Wan's ear, licking it--
"Anakin," he said breathlessly. "What do you think you are doing?"
Anakin forced himself to stop, but his hand remained on Obi-Wan's quivering stomach. He just couldn't kriffing pull it away. The need to touch was making him almost dizzy, his cock so hard he could probably pound nails with it.
"I'm not doing anything," he said hoarsely. "Just holding you."
Obi-Wan made an incredulous sound and fell quiet. Anakin couldn't help but notice that he wasn't telling him to remove his hand.
Was he... Could he possibly be...?
Curious, Anakin moved his hand lower and found what he was looking for: the hot, hard bulge under Obi-Wan's thin underwear.
Anakin chuckled. "You don't have to sound so scandalized, Obi-Wan. This is hardly the first time you got an erection when I held you."
"This is definitely the first time you are groping it," Obi-Wan said, managing to sound as if they were talking about the weather.
Anakin bit his earlobe again, massaging the bulge.
Obi-Wan gasped. "S-stop.This is unwise." But despite his words, his mind said, More. Anakin could feel it through the bond, could feel Obi-Wan's need.
"No one would call me wise, Obi-Wan." Anakin licked his ear, tearing an inhuman noise out of the other Jedi. "Or should I call you Padawan?"
He felt Obi-Wan shiver violently, his cock throbbing against Anakin's palm through the thin cotton, Obi-Wan's arousal pulsing in their bond like a hungry thing. Fuck, the fact that Obi-Wan wanted to be called padawan shouldn't be so arousing. Anakin said softly, "Does your cock hurt, sweetheart? Do you want me to make it better?"
Obi-Wan moaned. "Anakin--what--"
"You want me to take care of you, don't you?" Anakin said, slipping his hand into Obi-Wan's underwear and taking his leaking cock into his hand. "Kriff, look how wet you are for me, sweetheart."
Obi-Wan gave a full-body shudder, fucking into Anakin's fist helplessly. Kissing the side of his face, Anakin ground his own erection against Obi-Wan's ass, so aroused he couldn't think. He just wanted.
"Can I take your underwear off?" Anakin heard himself say.
Obi-Wan made an affirmative sound, still thrusting into Anakin's hand.
Anakin sucked a hickey on Obi-Wan's neck. "Say it."
"Yes," Obi-Wan said, sounding completely out of it already. And so vulnerable. "Master, please."
Kriff, that went straight to Anakin's cock. He yanked Obi-Wan's underwear down, then his own, groaning as his erection nestled between Obi-Wan's plump, firm cheeks.
Obi-Wan made a small sound, grinding back against Anakin's cock as he fucked into Anakin's hand.
His mind spinning with arousal and want, Anakin was barely controlling himself as he said, "Can I put it in, love? Just the tip, I promise."
Obi-Wan's whispered "Yes" was all he had waited for before Force-summoning the bottle with lube from under his bed. It had gotten a lot of use over the past month as he wanked himself, thinking about Obi-Wan, thinking about fucking his mouth, putting Obi-Wan on his hands and knees, fucking him against the wall, on his back, Obi-Wan's pretty eyes clouded with desire as Anakin thrust into him.
Taking his hand off Obi-Wan's cock, Anakin quickly slicked up his erection before returning his slick hand to Obi-Wan's cock. Obi-Wan moaned beautifully, thrusting into his hand, but then went still as Anakin's lubed cock head bumped against his opening.
"Just the tip," Anakin ground out through his gritted teeth as he slowly pushed the head in. Kriffing hell, he was so tight. He focused on Obi-Wan's emotions through the bond, determined to stop if he was hurting him, but fuck, it felt so good to finally be inside Obi-Wan, to be allowed this deepest intimacy. Mine, he thought reverently, moving his hips just a little.
"Master," Obi-Wan whispered, his voice shaky.
"Does it hurt?" Anakin said, kissing the side of his face, sucking hickeys into his jawline as he ground his cock head into his padawan's tight little hole.
"No," Obi-Wan said, sounding dazed.
"You feel so good. So good for me. So tight and perfect." Anakin stroked Obi-Wan's cock faster, his breath catching when Obi-Wan began shifting against him, his hole squeezing the tip of his cock so beautifully. Kark.
"More," Obi-Wan said suddenly, squirming back onto his cock. "Need more."
"Are you sure?" Anakin said, but he was already moving, pushing his aching cock deeper into the tight hole slowly enveloping him like a perfect glove. He was afraid of hurting him, since he hadn't done any prep, but--
"Oh," Obi-Wan breathed out. "Harder."
And something in Anakin snapped. He lifted Obi-Wan's knee to his chest and pushed inside him. Obi-Wan cried out, his pleasure rolling through the bond in tidal waves.
The rest was a blur.
Anakin was only vaguely aware of the sounds they were making, moans and groans, the slaps of their bodies. A distant part of him was ashamed of rutting into his padawan like a savage animal. Obi-Wan deserved slow love-making, face to face, not this base, carnal fuck.
Thankfully, Obi-Wan seemed to be enjoying himself, his noises and his whispered Master growing in volume with every thrust of Anakin's cock. Soon, Obi-Wan was on his hands and knees, rocking back onto his cock and moaning loudly.
Mine-yours-mine-yours, pulsed in their bond, filling it with need and devotion. Anakin had never felt such an insane urge to merge with another person, to put his cock so deep into them he wanted to change the shape of their body with it. "Mine," he ground out. "You're mine."
Obi-Wan moaned into the mattress and whispered, "Master."
Anakin slammed into him, sucking hickeys on his bare shoulders, his hand still jerking Obi-Wan's cock off as he fucked him.
"Come for me," Anakin croaked out, his hips starting to lose rhythm as his own orgasm approached. "You're so gorgeous, so beautiful, so perfect. Come on my cock, love."
Obi-Wan was practically sobbing with pleasure now. "Anakin," he moaned, pushing back onto his cock. "Anakin."
Anakin's muscles locked up, his eyes snapping open. He would recognize that voice anywhere. His padawan had never said his name like that. This was his Master, moaning his name as he came undone on Anakin's cock.
He was fucking his Master, the man who had trained him since he was a young boy.
Instead of making him feel weird, the thought brought an insane surge of arousal to his body. Anakin groaned, his metal hand tightening on Obi-Wan's hip as he pistoned his cock into his Master. Yes, Obi-Wan was his, his Master would finally be his, Anakin was going to come inside his Master and make him full of his seed.
"Mine," he bit out deliriously, slamming hard into him, again, and again, and again. "You'll always be mine. Always. I love you, Master."
Obi-Wan cried out his name and came, squeezing him hard.
Kriff. He'd just made his Master come on his cock.
The thought was enough to push Anakin over the edge. Shuddering, he spilled deep inside Obi-Wan and fell on top of him, his arms no longer holding him up.