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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.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan Kenobi had felt pain before. The War had taken its physical cost. It had taken its emotional cost. Obi-Wan was far from a stranger to tragedy and yet, he had felt nothing quite felt like this. Holding the woman who could have been his epic romance was unlike holding Qui-Gon or one of his men. It was an agony like no other. And yet, he suspected that what he was feeling was nothing compared to the pain this course of events had wrought upon Korkie, Satine’s young nephew. He felt for the child, he really did, especially after Ahsoka had met Korkie and mentioned how similar their force signatures were. Out of a sense of duty to the young boy, Obi-Wan had taken on the responsibility of delivering the news of Satine’s untimely passing. Korkie’s anguished cries and visceral shock shook Obi-Wan, as both a man and a Jedi, someone particularly susceptible to the suffering of others.  

 

Against the Code-restricted, wiser part of his brain, the part that urged him to leave, to meditate, to forget, to be Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ben held the boy as he cried. Korkie was in no condition to be alone, and if he was being honest with himself, which he so rarely was, neither was Ben. 

 

After what felt like minutes, but very well could have been hours, or days, Korkie began to stir. The boy pulled away from the man. He made unflinching eye contact with Ben, his blue eyes drinking in every microexpression the older man made. Slowly, as if gathering courage, Korkie asked a question, one that had more weight behind it than the entire planet of Mandalore.

“Would you really have stayed,” Korkie asked, eyes wide with a combination of fear and anticipation, “if… if it was asked of you?’

 

Ben paused. The wording of the question, so close to what he had said on the Coronet, what now seems like forever ago, and yet with a significant enough change, the elimination of the subject of Satine, that the meaning was clear to Ben. He would make the same promise to Korkie he had made to his dear Satine. 

 

“Should the word have been said, I would leave in an instant.”

 

Korkie’s eyes, still so big and so sad, held his unshed tears that seemed to twinkle with just a glimmer of hope. The swelling of his heart flooded into the Force, affecting Ben as if their shared blood let Korkie have a comm line directly into Ben’s own heart. 

 

At that moment, the comm line on Obi-Wan’s wrist began to chirp. Begrudgingly, the Jedi stood and answered the call.

 

“General Kenobi,” Mace Windu greeted Obi-Wan and then, before waiting for a response, jumped directly into his commands.

 

“The siege of Wesovo is falling apart. General Omeeg has been killed, and her strategy seems to have failed. We believe the Separatists are planning an imminent attack on Republic forces. Though we have pulled out most of the civilians, we need you to help evacuate a children’s hospital. How soon can you be in the Outer Rim?”

 

Obi-Wan looked at Korkie, hoping that his already-present regret would be conveyed through a simple glance. Then, like nothing had happened, the fatherly man of before was gone and replaced with High General of the Grand Army of the Republic and Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Negotiator.

 

“I am finishing up on Mandalore now, and should be able to be in the Wesovo system by early tomorrow morning, Coruscant time.”

 

“Very well Kenobi” And with that, Mace hung up.

 

Obi-Wan says his goodbyes to Korkie and leaves him with nothing but condolences and a comm frequency, should he ever need it. 

 

Later, in the dunes of Tatooine, Old Ben Kenobi will reflect on his life and wonder what could have happened had he given the part of his mind that knew of Korkie’s origins the time of day. If he had not buried even the thought of Korkie being his so far into his subconscious that it had taken genuine effort to recover it. 

 

In the dunes of Tatooine, Old Ben Kenobi dreams of those worlds. Where he had lived a good, long life with Satine and a gaggle of children. Where he had seen the boy on the Holonet when he definitely wasn’t stalking the Duchess and hijacked a craft to be with them. Where he had left with a young Anakin and ran to the love of his life. Where he had claimed the boy after the Coronet. Where he had brought Korkie into his life after the murder of Satine. Where he had worked to change the Code, where he had exemplified the difference between love and dangerous attachment, where he had made the Order a place Anakin Skywalker could belong. 

 

In the dunes of Tatooine, Old Ben Kenobi has regrets and he will never forgive himself for his mistakes.

Chapter Text

Korkie had had a difficult nearly two decades. The end of the Clone Wars had been rough on the entire galaxy. The Separatists had lost their leaders. The Republic had fallen into tyranny. And Neutral Systems, like Mandalore, were one by one invaded, brutalized and conquered by the Empire. 

 

The end of the War was shrouded in as much mystery for Korkie as it had been for nearly everyone else. After the clones had left Mandalore with Satine’s killer, the monstrous Maul, the political arguments between Korkie and the other New Mandalorians and Bo-Katan and her Death Watch broke out at full strength. Those arguments soon became irrelevant--- in a startling short period the Empire arrived, led by Vader, who no one could identify. Korkie suspected he had been a Jedi--- where else would someone receive that kind of training--- but without insider knowledge, there was no way for Korkie to identify who the tall man had been.

 

Much to what he suspected would have been Auntie Satine’s chagrin, Korkie had left Mandalore after her fall, a decision he still doubts, to join the Rebellion as a political aid to Mon Mothma. It felt good, to help people, and now, with the destruction of the Death Star, there seemed to be tangible proof that they were doing real good for real people. 

 

Korkie’s excitement at this success was not entirely selfless. Korkie had learned, through Mon Mothma, that Princess Leia had sent the Death Star plans to a hermit called Old Ben Kenobi, out on Tatooine, and the droids sent on that mission had returned with a man called Luke Skywalker. Those two facts combined--- that a Skywalker was coming with a man called Kenobi--- lifted Korkie’s hopes that maybe Obi-Wan had survived the end of the War after all. 

 

Luke Skywalker, as well as his friend Han Solo were due to receive medals of honor any minute now, and so Korkie filters into the large throne room along with hundreds of others that had joined the rebel cause.

 

The ceremony is nice, though not all that different from any other celebration, and after the medals are given and the Princess of Alderaan speaks, the crowd erupts into a party with more drinks than a lower-level Coruscanti club, the kind where a death stick dealer would have without a doubt approach you.

 

Korkie’s mission is clear: find Luke Skywalker

It takes a bit of maneuvering and more elbowing that his Aunt would have liked, but eventually, Korkie squeezes through the crowd and gets a moment with Skywalker, though Korkie has to sort of insert himself into the conversation. As soon as the others wander off, the smuggler and Wookie to get refills, and the Princess to talk to another friend, Korkie takes his chance.

 

“You’re Luke Skywalker? From Tatooine?” Korkie asked, hope just beginning to bud in his chest.

 

“Yep,” Luke replied, popping the letter ‘p,’ “and you are?”

 

“Korkie Kryze, from Mandalore,” Korkie responded, “Ben Kenobi was with you on Tatooine, right?”

 

“Oh yeah, he lived out in the Jundland Wastes. He was supposed to come with me to Alderaan, but Vader killed him on the Death Star.”

 

Korkie’s mind came to a complete stop. Ben had been killed? By Vader? It didn’t make sense. The Obi-Wan Korkie had known was a fearsome warrior--- to the point that Auntie Satine had criticized it endlessly---the idea that he could be struck down in some random battle with a masked assailant refused to compute in Korkie’s mind. Obi-Wan couldn’t be dead. He just couldn’t His spiraling thought process was interrupted by a question from Luke:

 

“You knew Ben?”

 

“Yeah, we...uh… met once, during the Clone Wars. He was… close with my aunt.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry then, he was a great man.”

 

“Yeah, I guess he was.”

 

Years of political training kicked in as Korkie excused himself (in what he thought was a graceful manner) and walked, then ran to his quarters further into the base. He shut the door to his small room, and slid against the shut door to the floor. Something in him stopped him from crying. He had never known the man, their only relation was one of blood, but the possibility had still been there. This war, the symptom of another war, which had come on the back of yet another war, could have ended. They could have been together. But that possibility was now well and truly gone. The loss of Obi-Wan was not like the loss of Satine so many years earlier. Obi-Wan had not raised him, had not held him as he cried, or expressed pride at his successes. Korkie mourned a dream, if he was being completely honest with himself, he was mourning a complete fallacy, something that could never have come true. And somehow that hurt just as much.