His son's eyes were blue; akin to that of his own, the real ones though, and not the desperate and tormented yellow of the monster he had become.
His son's eyes were kind, but bore the heavy burdens a young soul shouldn't have carried..
His son's eyes, beautiful and perfect as they were, were the last things Anakin skywalker had seen before he was surprisingly taken by the light, and not by the darkness that he had so long served.
He thought death would be empty, hollow, and unyielding. Just as he had felt when his mother perished, just as he had suffered when he had killed Padmé.
But somehow, as Anakin Skywalker allowed the streams of death to take him to wherever oblivion he deserved; he felt light thriving instead. Similar to the small yet perduble light nagging at the very corner of his mind and of his heart throughout his life. The very same that screamed in horror and trembled his conscience upon every atrocities he committed for the vile emperor.
That light had finally succeeded the life-long struggle, and it was all because of his son.
Luke. His precious Luke, had saved him.
"Lost, were you, young Skywalker?" A voice suddenly spoke. A voice he distinctly and instantly recognized as Yoda.
"Glad to see you, I am."
Anakin tried to trace the source of Yoda's voice; wondering if what he was hearing was real and not some delusion that he was sinking himself into. Even if that were so, Anakin knew Yoda was not the one he would have imagined to hear from.
"Open your eyes, young Skywalker." Yoda spoke again. "Returned home, you have."
How was he supposed to open his eyes? He was dead, he knew as much. He felt as much. But somehow, he also felt the truth in Yoda's words. And so, Anakin obliged without a linger of doubt for the first time in a long while.
Anakin sucked in air he hadn't known to be capable of. (At least not without his mask). He rose up from where he laid, panic flaring inside of him as his eyes started to blur and all he could make out was immeasurable, beaming light.
When his eyes adjusted, the high ceilings of the Jedi Temple were the first one that greeted his sight. He turned, and therein stood the grand pillars that supported the entire temple from within. Blinding light flashed from the tall windows of the temple, masking what he knew to be the Coruscanti landscape.
Anakin turned to his right, and there stood Master Yoda.
He looked exactly the same as the last time he had seen him. The same few strands of gray hairs nestled atop his head, as well as his wrinkled skin that evidently showed his old age as he unnecessarily leaned unto his gimer stick.
Anakin failed to understand what was unfolding before him. Nor of why, among the rest, had Yoda decided to welcome him in his death. But much more when he took notice of himself and how he looked .
In place of his mechanical arms and limbs were his flesh ones. Anakin eyed them intently, and slowly attempted to move them in accordance to the command of his neurons, and not the stiff movement his prosthetic extremities ever offered. He squeezed his hands shut, balling them into a fist so tightly just so he could see the blood being held inside.
Then, Anakin tried his legs; wondering if it would be able to keep his weight up as it used to, if it would allow him to stand again, after constantly falling for so long.
To his surprise, they did. Anakin could not do anything but to stare at them for a while, before finally deciding to turn to the large glass windows looming behind him.
Anakin wasn't able to contain the flinch that had involuntarily passed through his body. His reflection bore nothing but the ghost of a man he had long betrayed. The very same whose allegiance laid with those he loved, and not with an abhorrent warmonger whose thirst for power seemed unquenchable.
He was whole again, complete .
He could feel again.
He could see with his own , natural eyes again; without the complications of his mask, without everything being filtered into the blood red that had been his world for so long.
He turned to master Yoda, a frown etched on his face. For even if having been graced for the return of what he had, Anakin only had one thought.
He didn't deserve any of this.
"W-Why…" He tried to speak, visibly flinching upon hearing his own, young voice coming from his mouth, and not the low and dark one that came out of the modulator Palpatine had given him. "W-Where am I?"
"Hmm?" Yoda responded, a smile forming on the esteemed Jedi's face. "Forgotten so quickly, you have?"
Anakin hadn't. Anakin knew exactly where he was, because this was his home. For all his frustrations then, this had always been his home. But it was also the site of his betrayal, one of his most horrid crimes. He forced his eyes closed, guilt gnawing every fiber of his being after being reminded of one of the many terrible atrocities he had done.
What he does not understand, however, was the fact that he was here when had just been dying in the Death Star mere minutes ago in the arms of his son. What confused him more was the fact that he was physically reduced to his younger self, the one he had forsaken for power.
Anakin hadn't expected death to be this forgiving, especially to him who had eternally tainted his soul with the blood of others.
"Not what you thought, death is." Yoda spoke again, chuckling to himself much to Anakin's further confusion. "Come with me, you must, young Skywalker." Yoda encouraged, as he began to wobble off to wherever he was intending to go.
Having nowhere else to go, nor was he having any semblance of understanding of what was really occurring, Anakin followed Master Yoda.
The temple was seemingly empty, nor was he able to observe anything from the outside. Nothing but his awkward footsteps and the continuous tapping of Yoda's gimer stick resonated through the halls of the Jedi Temple.
"Long, your journey may have been, young Skywalker." Yoda began, his voice calm as he turned his head up to meet Anakin's gaze. "But found your way back, you have nonetheless. Young Luke, believed in you he did."
"A misplaced faith." Anakin grumbled, much more to himself than to master Yoda.
"Misplaced, it was not." Yoda quickly countered, fixing Anakin with a firm gaze of his own. "For if it was, be here, you would not." He ended his argument, chuckling to himself.
Anakin Skywalker fell back to his silence, unsure of what to respond, because, again, Anakin failed to understand why the Force was so gracious to him. He failed to understand how master Yoda attained the lighthearted facade he was keeping in front of Anakin. He failed to understand why he was reclaimed by the light, and given penance when all he had done his life was to wreak terror and inflict fear, pain, and death to the galaxy.
This was unfair to every single being Anakin ever hurt. This was unfair to every individual he had murdered with his own hands.
This was not the punishment he was expecting when the seas of death carried his soul back to the Force. And yet somehow, Anakin felt he had no other choice but the path given to him by the Force.
He was about to speak, to coax Yoda into shedding off the cloak masking his true feelings and be furious with Anakin because that is what he deserved.
But all that came from Anakin's mouth was a soft gasp, for before him stood countless Jedi Knights and padawans, who looked just as he had remembered them to be on a regular day in the Temple, stopping in their tracks upon seeing him and Yoda.
He felt his knees buckle, feeling weaker than ever as he was reminded of every strike of fury he had personally inflicted with his lightsaber to them. Or how he allowed the clones to bring upon their path the terrible fate of death. (Or how he also failed to protect the men he cared for from the grasp of the Sith, of how he made them into the mindless murderers they were not.) What made it even more painful, was that he could not sense any form or feeling of resentment radiating from them.
Instead, Anakin Skywalker was offered a genuine smile by each and every one of the Jedi, as if welcoming the homecoming of an old friend; not the cold rejection a monster like him should have earned.
Anakin wanted to run, and yet his feet refused to do so. Because Anakin was starting to realize the implication of the scene before his eyes.
The Jedi were taught to be compassionate, to be selfless, to forgive even the grievest of circumstances, to let go the feeling of revenge or resentment. And to that they still hold, even in the presence of the Jedi Order's greatest mistake; even in the presence of the person who destroyed them.
This was Anakin's punishment, to live through his death with the people he had betrayed. To be under the good graces of their kindness despite his unspeakable sins.
This was what he was destined to: eternal guilt and conscience of all that he had done.
Yoda turned to where Anakin stood frozen in his place, a smile softly plastered on his face. "Come with me, you must. Important matters, we have to handle."
Anakin had not the will to refuse. He walked behind Yoda, shame and guilt accompanying his steps as tears began to stream down from his eyes. He dared not to look, for he was afraid of what he would see if he did.
But he refused to deny them their right to see the guilt he felt, so Anakin Skywalker sobbed openly, as this was the only apology he could offer at the moment.
When Anakin finally opened his eyes, he recognized the halls leading to the Council Chambers. Before him, stood Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu and the rest of the Jedi Council.
Almost the rest of the council.
Anakin was then again frozen from where he stood, as he gazed in horror at Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu. But just like the rest of the Jedi Knights, he sensed not a hint of hatred radiating from any one of them. Instead, he felt an overwhelming beam of pride from his grandmaster Qui-Gon Jinn. And although this may have brought joy to Anakin decades ago, he only felt dread.
"You have finally joined us, my young friend." Qui-Gon remarked, as he began to thread closer to Anakin
But Anakin took a full step back in panic, his eyes avoiding that of every Jedi master present in front of him. "D-Don't." He stammered, raising his trembling his hands in front of him as if to shield himself from any amicable contact with any of them. "Y-you do not know what you are saying."
"Fact of the matter is that we do, Anakin." Mace Windu supplied.
"Then you do not know enough." Anakin responded abruptly.
"We do, Ani." Qui-Gon insisted, but Anakin quickly cut him off.
"You don't !" He exclaimed, frustration laced in his voice. "I do not deserve your kindness, your acceptance! My treachery led to your undoing!" He exclaimed, now turning his attention at Mace Windu. "I have allowed the galaxy to fall into darkness and turmoil. I've taken countless lives with my own hand! And I did that because I wanted to!"
"I've hurt my own children, when all they ever did was to be the person I should have been! "
Anakin remembered the utter horror in Luke's eyes when he heard of his true parentage. He could never forget how the boy chose death by falling instead of his own father. It had always stung, and even now that he understood the pain remained as it were. He had no doubt that his daughter who he had never known would have a similar reaction regarding this matter as well.
"I killed my own wife because of a power I couldn't let go!"
The last thing he ever heard from Padmé was her undying love for him. All she wanted was to be with him and care for the family they were supposedly going to have. And yet Anakin turned his back to her, and chose a path of miserable and endless torment than what they could've had had he chosen to take her hand. Anakin robbed Padmé of her children, as he robbed his children of their mother, of a life without having to endure too much pain that they never deserved.
" I abandoned Ahsoka because I feared the light!"
Ahsoka vowed she would never leave him again. But it was he who turned his back to her that fateful night. Ahsoka, his padawan, his younger sister , was asking for his hand the way all those he loved did. And Anakin, yet again, chose the darkness over his remaining connection to the light because he wasn't strong enough to turn back.
"I betrayed every sacrifice of the man who raised me. All I ever wanted was his death ." Anakin whispered, tears continuously streaming down his face. "Obi-Wan was my father, and I took it upon myself to see him to that fate with my own hands."
It was beginning to get too much for Anakin to handle. He knew he had not done anything in his life to earn the peace that has long eluded him, but that never stopped Anakin from yearning for it.
Wiping the tears off his face and ignoring the pitied glances the rest of the council was giving him, Anakin knew there was one thing he could do, at least for the time being. "Follow his lead and show me the resentment I deserve."
Then, Anakin Skywalker did what he should have done all those years ago. He ran .
He ran as fast as his newly refurbished legs could take him.
He ran aimlessly anywhere just as long as he could have a moment to himself, and put a distance from the people he still had not a strength to see.
But anywhere in this temple reminded him of his past, both the good and the terrible. There was no place he could run to now. No place that could provide solace which he was desperately searching for.
He stopped sprinting, leaning against the wall as he allowed himself to truly express the burdens of his heart. Dropping himself down the floor, Anakin allowed the tears he had refrained for so long to break out of his sturdy hold.
He embraced his knees as tightly as he could as he buried his tear-stained face on them to stop his frame from shaking violently, just as he had always done when he was a mere youngling. Anakin then mourned for the time he wasted in darkness. He mourned for the people he loved; those who were ruthlessly taken from him and those he had shoved away himself, and allowed the regret and guilt to engulf him for every sin he had committed to the innocent, to everyone . Even to his own family who he claimed to love.
Sidious was evil, and he manipulated Anakin into destroying his own life. But it doesn't make Anakin any lesser evil than his former slaver, because he allowed his tyranny to spread all the same.
There was no better word to describe Anakin Skywalker than a monster. Because he was a monster, he is a monster, and forever will be a monster. For his sins are too terrible for forgiveness, for repentance, nor for a right to a redemption of his weary soul.
"There you are." Suddenly, a voice with a thick Coruscanti accent rang through the air. Anakin felt his world tumble, instantly recognizing that voice as if it were his own.
He wanted to look, he desperately wanted to. But he was afraid that this was just a mere illusion; a cruel trick his mind mercilessly played on him.
His old master will never come for him. It was impossible.
"I have been looking all over for you."
But it was just as difficult as it was in life to resist illusions of the heart's desires as it is in death.
Anakin heard footsteps emerging from his right. It stopped right in front of him, and he felt whoever it was looming above him, a man whose presence greatly mirrored that of his master. Even so, Anakin still refused to look.
"Show me your face, please." The voice spoke so softly that it made Anakin sob even harder. The Force presence, so warm and bright, began wrapping itself around Anakin's troubled one, reminding him of how a young Knight shielded him, a young stranger, from the raging energy circulating around the temple all thosenyears
He can't be here.
But the presence was far too familiar for him to deny anymore. Much more when a gentle handed landed atop Anakin's shoulder. "I have longed to see the boy I loved hiding behind his mask."
With all the remaining strength left in Anakin's weary soul, he lifted his head and was met by Obi-Wan's soft smile.
Anakin wasn't able to do anything but to stare at his master. Just like himself, Obi-Wan looked as young as he was back in the clone war; and not the dismally exhausted old man he had fought with in the Death Star.
"M-master?" He stammered, the word being spoken still positively anew to him once again. Since master had changed drastically albeit horribly after his betrayal.
Anakin had to ask; he had to make sure that the Obi-Wan Kenobi staring right back at him was real and not something manifested by his discrete longing.
Obi-Wan offered Anakin a soft smile, "Sorry for my being late, I just had to check on Luke and make sure he is alright." He replied, then took Anakin's hand in his own just as he always did and squeezed it gently, "Welcome home."
He felt their long-severed bond pulse back to life, as if it was Obi-Wan's way of showing him that he was real and as was his acceptance of Anakin's return.
Disbelief coursed through Anakin's mind, but he welcomed this dream nevertheless.Now that Obi-Wan Kenobi was at his side, Anakin Skywalker allowed himself to fully break.
He took Obi-Wan's hand and bent as low as he could as he shed all his guilt, all his fear onto the man who was once his best friend, his brother, and his father all the same. "I could never ask you to forgive me...–"
"There isn't a need for you to ask." Obi-Wan replied, "Because I already have forgiven you, dear one."
Dumbfounded, Anakin only stared at Obi-Wan, his face contorted into a frown of utter confusion and awe at his old master's words. "There is nothing you do that I cannot forgive."
Anakin's heart ached at how his master used the same line as his mother when he was a stubborn, unruly bot. And while his mother had always been enough for Anakin, he was grateful that he had found a father of his own in Obi-Wan as well. A father who accepted him back not because of a Jedi mantra, but because of a love so tumultuous to accept the monster Anakin had become; to even acknowledge the regret of the monster who had took his own life. "I'm sorry, Obi-Wan." Anakin whispered, pushing his face on the back of Obi-Wan's palm. "I never hated you, I love you master and I'm sorry for all the pain I've caused. If only I could take it back, I would but–."
"Hush, dear one." Obi-Wan softly smiled. "I would not trade you for any thing in this galaxy. Even if I had to go through all the pain again." A tear escaped Obi-Wan's eyes as he began to cup Anakin's face with both his hands, "You were my light, Anakin. And I love you just as I did when you were a small bot." He said through his tears, a smile fondly forming on his lips. "And I am profoundly glad that you have found your way back to me."
"I do not deserve any of this, master." Anakin whimpered, bowing his head in defeat as he repeated the same words all over again.
"You cannot undo the past, Anakin. You have learned that the hard way. And dwelling on it would not bring back those who were lost." Obi-Wan reminded him, hastily wiping off the tears welling up on Anakin's eyes. "I am just happy that at the end, you chose to do what is right."
"Isn't it a little late for me?" Anakin admitted. "I don't know how to do this anymore, master."
"Regardless, you will have me by your side. You are not alone, Anakin. You never were." Obi-Wan promised, pulling Anakin's head into his arms as the younger man began sobbing once again. Obi-Wan then nestled his cheek atop Anakin's hair as he smiled to himself that now, even in death, his dearest one had finally returned to him. "You have me."