… He had the audacity to scream. He’d worked Ahsoka like some uninterested puppeteer would a two-bit, sideshow marionette… but he had the audacity to scream over his sister’s death. He’d flung his padawan away like some child bored with an outgrown toy… but he had the audacity to scream over his own sister’s death. When the Son had looked at them, as if begging for an explanation as to what had taken place — for what he himself had done — Obi-Wan held no mercy for him. His lack of empathy would have left him nauseas under any other circumstances, but these weren’t normal circumstances. Obi-Wan didn’t make a habit of cradling his padawan’s lifeless body on dying planets. He didn’t make a habit of whispering a hundred, useless apologies against her temple, while trying (and failing) to stave off the encroaching cold clamming up her skin.
Just two hours ago, she’d been offering him tea — orlong, with a hint of sweetener that had left him baffled as to how she’d procured it. She’d merely smiled and patted her utility pouch, before placing Anakin’s steaming cup of GAR-issue caf down onto the control panel. Obi-Wan’s tea found a home on the navigation console as he’d set about plotting a course away from this planet of extremes. As she took her seat, kicking her feet up onto the shoulders of his seat, she struck up conversation about some obscure piece of literature she’d stumbled across in the Archives. Whilst Anakin gently (a relative term in regard to Anakin) piloted, and Ahsoka sat blowing on her tea, he set about inputting data into the navigational computer and offering a response to her question on the epistemological differences between the value of originality over recreation… That was until Anakin’s head hit the console and he’d accused their philosophical debate of causing him physical distress.
“Geez… sorry, Skyguy. Just trying to make conversation.”
Obi-Wan had sighed, understanding in that moment what neither seemed to understand about the other — namely, how stress tended to manifest itself in each respectively. Ahsoka was often one to talk about anything, even if it had little relevance to the situation at hand, whereas Anakin preferred to internalise his problems until he was left with an electrified rayshield pulsing around his aura. As per usual, Obi-Wan had to act the part of mediator for his unruly padawans. “How about we set about getting out of here, then we can discuss as much of Fré`ksli’s theories on artistic merit as you like, Ahsoka.”
She’d amused herself for another ten seconds by gently twisting his chair side-to-side with the hold her booted feet had on each armrest, before she'd grown bored with that. Instead, she’d dived up to retrieve something from the drive section. It was only another five-seconds before both his and Anakin’s respective beverages were sent flying into (and were left decorating) the view-screen. In all the sudden chaos that had split the silence, Anakin had reacted to the abrupt appearance of the Son by flinging himself at him. The controls were the unfortunate victim of Anakin’s desperate bid to save Ahsoka. Obi-Wan was left to fight for control of the ship, unable to help when Anakin missed Ahsoka by a hair’s length. Her outstretched fingers had brushed the pads of Anakin’s, and that muted scream her mind gave across their shared bond as she’d plummeted through the bay doors…
After that, Obi-Wan had been left to merely catch glimpses of her and the Son between the towering columns of rock that Anakin ripped through in hot pursuit.
… Obi-Wan wasn’t one for dwelling on the ‘what-if’s’… but perhaps if he hadn’t pulled the controls out from under Anakin’s hands, they might have reached her in time…
Perhaps if Anakin had listened to him in the arena, and had actually saved Ahsoka rather than listen to her desperate cries to “… respectfully shut up, Master,” then they might not be here.
Obi-Wan recoiled at the memory — after he’d spoken the command to save her, she’d stilled like a tooka caught in lights, and then the thrashing had begun. Kicking and screaming beneath the Son’s winged-form, he was sure she’d worn a permanent snarl into her features, and had willingly twisted her own arms off in the attempt to escape and reach him, Obi-Wan. She was young and stubborn, an unfortunate combination that often led to him running aground with her obstinance… and that heart of hers, so full of love and joy.
… Well, at least, it had been.
Now she was a dead weight over his lap — a pair of soulless eyes, glazed over and peering into an endless oblivion. He couldn’t sense her in the Force. No matter how far he stretched himself — as the whole planet churned in violent upheaval and threatened to dispose of them in open space, Obi-Wan couldn’t find her. A death would leave the aura to linger… Qui-Gon’s had blanketed him with the faintest trace of sorrow and sadness before he’d departed… Ahsoka left nothing. There was nothing but a husk strewn over his lap, growing cold fast.
Was it a betrayal to the young woman she’d become, to see that giggling three-year-old who’d once flung modelling clay at him, and proceeded to hide beneath his robes when Master Plo had begun scolding her for “… painting Padawan Kenobi’s face purple?” Was it a betrayal to the memory of how far she’d come, to remember that inquisitive nine-year-old who spent her spare time following him around the Temple, armed with a litany of questions that had the uncanny ability to leave him pondering on her questions later that night? … He never did quite figure out what a ‘shurple’ was. Even with the combined effort of his unmatched research skills and her boundless imagination, they were left bamboozled.
The fourteen-year-old who’d almost jumped for joy when Cody first picked her up and set her on his shoulders (in response to her complaint about supposed unfair height advantage); the one who’d single-handedly dragged them both (fully grown men, clad in battle armour) from the battle on Veractus VI after half the company had met a fiery end, and then ran back in to save as many more as she could; the one who’d wholly embraced Anakin’s maddening attempts to adopt her as a surrogate sister; the one who laughed at all his jokes and scolded him for his supposed foolishness — that little girl lay limp in his arms.
He wasn’t sure when exactly he’d ripped his gloves off, but now the pads of his fingers were mapping the latticework of veins corrupting what remained of her complexion. The heavy grind of his jaw exacerbated the bitter taste of blood lining his tongue. No.
The ground shook, trembling with such intensity it sent them both toppling once more. This time, however, it was his weight that dragged them down — when he shifted her, he was left with the endless whites of her eyes glaring directly at him, accusing him. Obi-Wan seethed, and again bundled her close. Another barrage of useless apologies sounded along her montrals. And perhaps just to mock him, those veins continued to leech and move beneath her skin and against his lips.
He should have saved her. He should have been fast enough…
She’d entrusted her life to his care, that worrying dependency on him something that had been proven once more only the night previous. Bundled together by the fire, he’d been awoken from his slumber by Ahsoka’s incessant nudging, to find himself face to face with some sickly apparition of her future self. The apprehension and unease she felt surged across the bond, and took flight in her bared teeth and narrowed eyes. With their lightsabers thumbed on in tandem, and Ahsoka deferring all control of the situation to him, the vision of his padawan’s future self had snarled back at the display before her. “You are too dependent, little one.” Her eyes flashed an angered yellow. “Once, the warning might have been to the stray from Skywalker’s path… now it is to mind your dependency on present company.”
Ahsoka had barked back something that had really only served to further illustrate the apparition’s point, and Obi-Wan had spent the remainder of the night pacing the length of the cave and pondering on the predicament they found themselves in… as well as the apparition’s words. Intermittently, Ahsoka would wake and encourage him towards sleep, but he’d ward off her concern with a dismissive wave of his hand.
“Make sure you get some rest too, Master. Wake me up when you get tired.” She’d folded her arms to the rock face, and dropped her head. But, “Oh, and make sure you don’t wear a path in the cave floor with your pacing.”
“Go to sleep, Ahsoka.”
She cared too much. She’d always cared too much. She had saved his life on the cliff face earlier that day by pulling him to — he’d heard her shriek his name, accompanied by that powerful heave at his waist as she’d plucked him from the path of the incoming rockfall via the Force — just a shame she’d overshot the intended destination and he’d gone from the threat of death by pulverisation, to death by thousand-foot-drop. Still, she’d remedied her mistake by helping him up. She’d bypassed the expected sheepish smiles and apologies in favour of scanning him over. “Isn’t that my job?” he’d quipped, but she’d merely narrowed her eyes.
“I won’t be laughing when I have to tell Anakin what happened to you.”
“Yes, well… perhaps you should improve your aim for next time.”
She’d rolled her eyes. “I sincerely hope there isn’t a next time, Master.”
… And there never would be a next time… because he’d failed to return the favour.
He’d failed to save her; he’d failed to protect her. He’d failed.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
He’d failed that youngling who could quote the collected works of Bregsus III to him, but couldn’t remember what followed Peth in aurebesh without having to sing the alphabet to herself under her breath in a panicked whisper…
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
He’d lost the little girl who’d hide under his robes and huddle to his body heat whenever it began to rain, always absently humming that blasted tune from the crèche about rainclouds and honey bears whenever she did. Of course this habit died a quick death when she reached the age of sixteen due to the onset of teen angst and a budding sense of dignity… but he liked to think that she’d stopped only because she could no longer fit beneath his robe.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
He couldn’t save her; the young woman who’d made a ritual over finding an awful pun to share with him at the end of every day — something that never failed to have Anakin or Cody eliciting a despondent groan if they happened to be present. Captain Rex could be counted on, though— he’d chuckle and ask for another, something she was always more than happy to provide (much to the dismay of Anakin or Cody).
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
The youngling who’d spent a week on Bracca wearing his socks and spare trousers (due to the onslaught of torrential rain soiling her own clothes), and somehow managing to pull Boil’s helmet over her montrals and lekku whenever she had to make a mad dash from one shelter to another through the incessant rainfall…
There is no death, there is the Force.
The student who’d become a daughter, the young woman who could outsmart pirates, bounty hunters, and earn the begrudging respect of Sith Lords… she was gone.
A broken sob from beside him somehow tore Obi-Wan away from the memories he’d barricaded himself behind, and he found himself staring at the Father, cradling his own daughter in his arms not three feet away from him. Obi-Wan knew exactly what he was whispering along her temple, knew exactly how the old man’s heart was trying to claw its way out of his chest. But at least she was staring up at him… at least he could hold her hand and promise impossible things… at least he had a chance to say goodbye.
There was no greater empathy than that brought about by a shared experience. A traitorous smile curved Obi-Wan’s lips at the absurdity of the situation. Two parents had their worlds end today. Two brothers lost a beloved sister, an irreplaceable part of themselves… all in the space of a few fumbled moments. It all seemed so senseless. They were gone, and what had the Son accomplished?
Finally, Anakin’s belligerent yelling broke through the haze, and Obi-Wan was left recoiling at the deafening howl of his only remaining padawan. And if the roar of Anakin Skywalker’s temper wasn’t enough, the sight of him sent a chill down Kenobi’s spine — ashen white, any inch of him that wasn’t the pallor of snow was a violent red. The boy pulled at the length of his hair, hurling obscenities and charging up and down the space of the same three paces in a muddled rage until the Force came to simmer in lashing waves around them. The fuming call of its Chosen One sent the Force churning.
And it served as a reminder to breathe. To loosen his grip on Ahsoka, and finally run a gentle hand over her wide eyes and whisper goodbye.
And perhaps, if he were a better Jedi, he might have been able to do just that. Perhaps, if he hadn’t made this same mistake once before with his Master, and had been cursed to repeat it with his own padawan, he’d be able to let her go.
In another life, I might have saved you, Ahsoka Tano. I might have been fast enough.
His forehead pressed further into her ribcage until he was sure he could hear her bones groaning in protest. Obi-Wan seethed.
I’m so sorry, my darling girl. Please forgive me.