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what we were and what we could have been

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Anakin had landed on Mandalore, and though he would never admit it to Snips, he was glad to be reunited with his young padawan. It was lonely out in space, even with Rex and Obi-Wan. As he exited the craft onto the landing dock where Snips, the Duchess Satine, her guards and some schoolchildren (presumably Ahsoka’s pupils), he smiled.

 

“I hope this assignment wasn’t too boring for you.”

 

Ahsoka’s grin matched Anakin’s. “Ah, it had its moments.”

 

Thankfully, Obi-Wan wasn’t here, or Anakin might have had to hide his growing pride in his padawan’s dedication to doing what she thought was right. “Huh, like the one where you convinced untrained children to help you overthrow a corrupt government?”

 

As he was speaking, he flipped Ahsoka’s lightsaber in his hand before handing it to her. She grabbed it with a smirk. “That was a highlight.”

 

“Sounds pretty risky. You’re lucky you didn’t get hurt.”

 

“Nothing you wouldn’t have done.” And wasn’t that the root of his problem. If Obi-Wan was there, he surely would have had some snarky comment about Anakin’s “lack of decorum” and “disregard for political nuances” or something of that nature and how Ahsoka shouldn’t emulate such behaviors. 

 

Instead, Anakin smiled. She was right, as Snips usually was, but don’t tell her that---it’ll go right to her head. As she bounded up into the ship, with the enthusiasm of the child Anakin sometimes forgot she was, Anakin paused and turned around to glance back at the Duchess and the young strawberry blonde boy beside her. In the Duchess’ report on Ahsoka’s… adventures on Mandalore, she had mentioned her nephew, Korkie, and Anakin assumed that the boy was said nephew. Though the glance was quick, the odd sensation of familiarity the boy exuded was one that almost overwhelmed the Jedi. Confusion swarmed Anakin’s mind. He was sure that he’d never met Korkie, so why did it feel like he’d known the kid for years?

 

Once aboard the ship, some clanky transport he had used to go from Mandalore back to the Resolute, he decided to bring up the oddity to Snips. Once they had settled into the cockpit in the pilot and co-pilot seats respectively and Artoo had greeted Snips, he began to question.

 

“So that Korkie kid… what’s his deal”

 

“Deal? What’re you talking about Skyguy?”

 

“Like his thing? What’s up with him?”

 

“His thing? I don’t know, he’s a student, he’s the Duchess’ nephew, he’s cool, what kind of answer are you looking for here?”

 

“You mean you didn’t feel it?”

 

“Feel what? Skyguy, are you losing it? I’ve only been gone a few standard days,” Ahsoka chuckled, through her eyes scanned Anakin’s face, seemingly trying to determine if there was some truth behind her jibes. 

 

“His Force signature, it feels weird. Like familiar.”

 

At this Ahsoka paused, and scrunched her forehead together, clearly trying to remember what the boy had felt like. She bit her lip. And then, after a (surprisingly long) few seconds she responded.

 

“You know, now that you mention it, I think you might be onto something. But I can’t place it.”

 

With Anakin’s uneasy nodded agreement, that topic of conversation fizzled, and the pair instead turned to lighter topics, like battles that had been won or lost in the days she’d been gone, and what had precipitated her Mandalorian escapades. The oddity, though a seemingly ever-present thought, slipped into the background noise of a life spent in war. 

 

Anakin’s questions were left forgotten and unanswered until a nameless battle on a planet Anakin won’t remember the name of in five years has Obi-Wan injured severely enough that he’s heavily medicated (though Obi-Wan’s tendency to escape the med bay, and not the injury, might be the reasoning behind the medication.) 

 

As the medication wanes, and Obi-Wan has just enough awareness to feel a bit like himself, but not enough to control his shields as well as he had since the War had begun, Anakin is reminded what Obi-Wan’s uncontrolled Force signature feels like. Much like a voice, quickly forgotten once it’s not heard everyday, Force signatures don’t keep well in the mind when they aren’t felt often enough. And on that day in the med bay, the truth behind the strangeness of Korkie Kryze’s Force signature seems abundantly clear. 

 

Anakin’s first response is, as per the usual, not one of great logic, though it is a response very understandable when you have just discovered that your mentor in an organization that does not allow you to have a family, and so has acted as your father/older brother figure, has, contrary to your belief that he was the perfect member of the aforementioned organization, a child. He denies it. He writes it off as coincidence, a fluke of the universe, some random quirk in the endless randomness of space.

 

But, like a bad rash, the complete coincidence never seems to leave Anakin’s mind. And so, with a little help from a certain blue-and-white astromech, Anakin may or may not have hacked into Mandalore’s birth records (which cannot be proved in a court of law). And (again allegedly) he may have peaked just a tad into the birth records of one Korkie Kryze. And he may have (though he will deny it) have checked the birthdate of one Korkie Kryze against (completely legally obtained) files from the Archives that detail Obi-Wan’s mission to Mandalore. And with that, the quirk no longer seemed so quirk-y. So, naturally, Anakin Skywalker, General of the G.A.R., highly trained Jedi knight, and secret husband of Padmé Amidala (a.k.a. the most fearsome woman in the Senate), freaked the kriff out.  

 

Anakin, though extraordinary in many ways, freaked out like most people do. He paced. He fidgeted (though his fidgeting resulted in a small droid that was promptly lost somewhere on the ship, and would wreak havoc on the clones.) He paced some more. He contemplated calling his wife (and decided against it). He contemplated calling his padawan (and decided against it.) And after all this comes to the conclusion he most dreads--- he has to talk to Obi-Wan. 

 

By the time Anakin has the chance to talk to Obi-Wan alone, several more battles have passed and the war has, bit by bit, continued taking its toll. The opportunity arises after the clones are given the day off on a planet they have to make a supply stop on, and Ahsoka has hours of temple-assigned homework to catch up on. So naturally, as had become their routine sometime early in Anakin’s training, Anakin and Obi-Wan go to a diner. 

 

They order, though the menu is odd this far out in the outer rim, and they’re far enough from Tatooine that Anakin doesn’t even recognize any food from his childhood (though that would imply he had had a full range of Outer Rim foods to have access to), but anything better than rations. The conversation wanes, as it now does so frequently, and Anakin works up the nerve to say something.

 

“You know, sometimes I wonder how you can do what you do.”

 

Obi-Wan is visibly confused, though that is how he typically looks around Anakin (either that or exasperated). “And what is that?”

 

“You know, make hard choices when it comes to attachment even when it comes to the really really close ties.” It ought to be noted, to you the reader, that at this point, Anakin believes he is being abundantly clear in his discussion of Korkie, Obi-Wan’s son. However, Obi-Wan believes Anakin is talking about Satine (and maybe a little bit about Anakin’s attachment to Padmé).

 

“Making hard choices is a fundamental skill for Jedi, in all areas of life, be that in attachments or negotiations,” Obi-Wan responds, ever the teacher.

 

“But how do you not regret it everyday, not long for what you’re missing out on?” Again, Anakin is talking about missing out on the raising and growth of Korkie. Obi-Wan is not. 

 

“Anakin, though you may think me the perfect Jedi, I too sometimes doubt the choices I made on Mandalore all those years ago. However, when I begin to feel that doubt, I name it and I let it into the Force. The choice has been made, there is no going back.” 

 

“You don’t think it’s better late than never?” Anakin asks, remembering his nights so long ago longing for a father to save him and his mother. 

 

Before Obi-Wan can answer however, their food arrives, steaming hot and smelling deliciously like not-rations, and the thought is forgotten and never picked up again. It's lost like so much else from these years is, when Vader is too angry to remember and Old Ben too sad.