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time after time

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i.

we were lovers in a past life

i can see it in your green eyes

“You should come with me,” Ben says, and tries not to think about the hand that’s brushing against his with every step they walk. He focuses, instead, on how dark it’s getting, how the only thing that remains of the sun is the echo of it’s light. How the stars are already visible and filled with colors he could have never imagined before. There’s no city light here to pollute them, not like back at Oxford, and not for the first time he looks up and loses himself. Sometimes, he thinks he was meant to walk among the stars and the galaxies, but that - that’s just a fantastical dream. “I think you would like England.”

Anakin looks over to him, and closes his eyes. There’s a scar that runs through one of his eyes, one that he alternates between hiding behind his hair, and being displayed proudly. “I can’t leave,” he says softly, firmly. 

Ben doesn’t ask, ‘can’t, or won’t’ because he isn’t in the business of being cruel. He knows the obligations Anakin has here - just like Anakin knows why Ben can’t drop everything and move to the middle of the desert. He knows, in the back of his mind, that war is coming and that they’ll be on separate sides. It’s much better for their separation to happen here, instead of on a battlefield. 

He knows that Anakin can’t leave. Ben knows that he can’t stay.

It still feels as if someone’s sliced through his stomach with a hot sword. 

Anakin stops suddenly and grabs Ben’s hand with his own (he only has one - sparring accident was the only explanation he gave) and tugs him to a halt. Ben can feel his heart pound against his ribcage, feels like he can’t inhale enough oxygen -

and then Anakin is kissing him. It’s not a light kiss, this kiss. It’s rugged, it’s hard. Anakin’s hand leaves Ben’s to grab at his jacket, his cheek, to pull him in until there’s nothing left. Ben’s too hot - hotter than he’s ever been in this godforsaken desert, he feels as if he’s being consumed by the magma of a volcano, like he’s being absorbed into the sun. 

“Goodbye, Obi-Wan,” Anakin says against his lips.

ii.

there's just somethin' 'bout you I know

started centuries ago though

you see your kiss is like a lost ghost

only I would know

“I love to fly,” says the pilot sitting across from him. He’s holding his hand around what’s left of his right arm. “Have you ever been flying?”

Ben leans over and tries to finish bandaging his own wounds. His stomach is bleeding too much and too fast. “I don’t care much for flying,” Ben mutters, and licks his lips. “I like to be firm on the ground, thank you very much.”

Anakin laughs. “We all got our quirks, I guess.” He closes his eyes. “I love flying ‘cause I feel free. You don’t have a worry in the air when you’re up there.”

Luckily, Anakin’s eyes are closed so he doesn’t see the look Ben sends him. “Right,” Ben says, dryly. “Nothing bad at all can happen when you’re hundreds of feet above the ground.”

“If we get out of here, I’ll take you up,” Anakin says, and his voice is trembling. He stops for a moment, and inhales. “Ever been up the East coast? It’s the prettiest thing in the goddamn world.” He opens his eyes and gives Ben a blinding grin. “Prettiest thing in the goddamn world.”

It is suddenly so important to Ben that he returns the smile. It doesn’t matter that he’s sure he’s dying, that there’s no point even listening to this stupid little boy who had the unfortunate pleasure of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t matter that the war has just begun and the two of them are already out for the count. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t goddamn matter.

“I’m very happy I had the pleasure of meeting you,” Ben says, softly, and tightens his grip around his stomach. 

There are tears in Anakin’s eyes. 

“Yeah,” he says, and scoots over to Ben’s side and kisses his head. “Yeah, I’m pretty happy I got to meet you too, Obi-Wan.”

iii.

but I, I keep on falling for you

time after time, time after time

i’ll make you mine, time after

time after time

The room isn’t especially dark. He never closed the blinds, so the sunlight floods through the window, spilling over the couch and the carpet. It turns the walls a blinding white, makes the room feel alive, alive, alive.

Hey,” the recording says. “I think I’m going to pick up some milk too, while I’m out.

Ben keeps the picture frame in his fingers. It feels fragile - a million times more fragile then he could have ever imagined. There’s a scratch on the frame, right over Anakin’s face, cutting through his neck. Ben’s disgusted. He feels sick. He’s disgusted. 

Snow’s coming down pretty heavy and I don’t think we’ll be able to get out for awhile. Better to have more milk then no milk. How else will you manage to drink your minimum three cups of heart attack inducing coffee every morning.”

It’s too bright outside. There’s too much snow. It’s all fresh, he’s remarkably aware how fresh the snow is outside, how the sun bounces off it and reflects back into the house. 

I wouldn’t have you any other way,” the voicemail says. “I’ll be home soon.

He knows he should delete it, that it’ll be better in the long run if he gets rid of it before the hurt sinks in. He tries to think of what he has left of Anakin. Recordings, messages, post-it notes with grocery lists and doodles. A few pictures, a few gifts. Nothing too substantial. He could throw everything out and it wouldn’t even fill up the trashcan. 

Ben doesn’t cry. He doesn’t know why he can’t cry. He didn’t cry when he got the call, or when Padmé drove him to the station. He might be incapable of crying, of feeling. Maybe he had forgotten to get his heart back from Anakin before he went and died. 

Love you, Obi-Wan,” the recording finishes, and he doesn’t feel anything except empty.

iv.

seems millenniums ago, love

we were nothing more than stardust

just the galaxy beneath us

we found weight

Anakin’s shirt is loose, pulled out of his trousers. He’s leaning against the stone wall separating the patio from the garden. His eyes glisten in the starlight. “Do you reckon there’s anything out there?”

Ben’s smoking, a horrible habit - he hates it - but it’s freezing and Anakin managed to loose his (very warm) jacket within two minutes. He’s sure it’s somewhere. Hopefully dry. Hopefully within range. “What, in the sky?”

“It’s possible, isn’t it?” Anakin asks, and turns so that his back is to the wall and he’s facing Ben. Ben flicks the cigarette away and watches it smolder into the ground, before he steps onto it with his heel and snuffs it out. 

“Anything’s possible,” Ben says, and walks forward until Anakin’s in his arms - right where he belongs. 

“I feel like…” Anakin starts, and trails off. He’s still looking up, staring at the cluster of purple, orange, blue above him. “I feel like I’m supposed to be up there.”

“In the stars?” Ben says, into his shoulder, trying to leech some of the warmth Anakin’s radiating. “How much did you have to drink?”

Anakin pinches him. “I feel like you’re supposed to be up there too. I feel like we’re all supposed to be up there.”

Ben stares at him, studies him. Anakin refuses to turn his gaze away from the nebulae in front of him. “Would you go?” Ben asks, and that - that gets Anakin to look at him. “Would you leave me behind?”

Anakin gives him the most offended look and kisses him, surely, firmly, and pinches him again. “You’ve got a few screws loose if you think I’d ever leave you,” he mutters, and kisses Ben again for good measure. 

Ben hums against his lips, and feels content, content, content. “You need to go,” he says, softly, and tries not to think about pulling Anakin towards the garden and staying there for the entire night, cold air be damned. “People’ll ask where you are.”

“Let them ask,” Anakin says, and kisses Ben’s cheek, his forehead, his lips. “You’re better company.”

“Nevertheless,” Ben says, and kisses Anakin again for good measure. “Go.”

Anakin twists his lips into a scowl that comes off more like a pout. Ben steps back so that he’s no longer pinned between him and the wall, so that he’s free to go.

“Tomorrow,” Anakin says, and holds Ben’s hand with his own. “Promise.”

“Of course,” Ben says. “Always.”

“Tomorrow, Obi-Wan,” Anakin says, as he walks away.

v.

but I, I keep on falling for you

time after time, time after time

i'll make you mine, time after

time after time, yeah

It takes Padmé a couple hours to fall asleep. It’s oddly calming to watch her sleep, even though he feels a wince of sympathy for her. She’s curled up in a plastic chair, hands between her thighs to keep warm. He wishes he could at least move his arm to call for a nurse to ask for a blanket, but that’s all but impossible at this point. 

She’ll kick herself when she wakes up and finds him dead, Ben’s sure, but he also knows it’s for the best. He can feel it with every second that pasts, as inevitable as the sun rising over the horizon and setting each night. Padmé has the twins at home, and once she moves past the initial stages of grief, she’ll throw herself into the motherhood she never thought she’d have.

He feels something, then, closing up his throat. Fuck, he wanted to see Luke and Leia grow old. He wanted to see them live their lives - and he wasn’t their father, he knows that, just as Padmé wasn’t their mother, but he wanted to raise them as his own. He feels like shit for leaving Padmé on her own but it’s for the best, it’s for the best.

The door cracks open, just a tad, and it takes Ben what feels like hours to turn his head to see who’s entering the room.

It’s a boy, longer than he expected. His right arm is in a sling, heavily bandaged, but it doesn’t take much to realize that half of it is missing.

“I’m sorry,” the boy says, after spying Padmé in the corner. “I’m super sorry, mister. I’m in the wrong room.”

Ben clears his throat three times before he feels confident that sound will come out. “That’s quite alright.” His voice breaks half way through. He clears his throat again. “What room are you looking for?”

Like little boys do, with no fear, the boy walks to the chair by Ben’s side and forces himself up onto it. “615,” the boy says. “I wanted some water and the nurses took too long.”

Ben almost manages a laugh. “Did you find some?”

The boy nods. “Yup.”

“You’re on the wrong floor,” Ben says, and closes his eyes. “This is 415. You have to go up two floors.”

“Oh,” the boy says, not worried at all. “My name is Anakin.”

“Ben,” he introduces himself. Anakin gives him an odd look and stares at the sheet next to the head of his bed.

“No it’s not,” Anakin says. “This says your name is-“

“My father has an odd sense of taste,” Ben says, quickly, and manages a smile. “You should go, Anakin.”

Anakin slides off his chair. “Mmkay. Can I come see you tomorrow?” He grins and shows two missing teeth. “I really like you.”

“Sure, Anakin,” Ben says, and licks his lips. “If you’d like.”

Anakin carefully puts the chair back to it’s original position, and heads towards the door. He stops, though, and looks back, smiling. “I like your name, Obi-Wan.”

+i.

(Time after time)
(Time after time)
(Time after time)

“Do you believe in reincarnation?” Anakin asks, and he’s holding his hands as close as he can get to the fire. It’s the best source of heat they have right now, especially since both bikes are fried. When Ben gets out of the middle of fucking Kashyyyk the first thing he’s doing is sitting his ass in front of a heater and not moving for a couple dozen cycles. 

“Do you?” Ben asks, looking up at Anakin across the fire. 

“Master Skywalker once said that all the energy in the universe has been the same since it was created.” He looks at Ben, then. “They’re got to be someone who’s been made twice by now.”

“I think you need to lay off the holonovels,” Ben mutters, and moves closer to the fire. “Yeah, it’s possible, I guess.”

“It’s weird,” Anakin says, and stares into the fire. Stares right through it. “I feel like I’ve met certain people a million times over. Like I’m just rereading the same holonovel with different characters.”

“I think you need sleep,” Ben says, and shakes his head. “Maybe you’re Anakin Skywalker, reborn.”

Anakin twists his lips. “That would explain why Master Skywalker cried when she first saw me.”

“Let’s be real, Ani,” Ben says. “It was because of your ugly mug.”

“Maybe,” Anakin says, firmly, glaring, before he softens and looks into the fire again. “Maybe you and I are just supposed to be together.”

Ben feels his heart skip a beat, but he clears his throat. “That would explain a lot - I didn’t volunteer to keep your ass out of trouble, you know.”

Anakin looks up at him, stares, and turns away. He huffs out a short laugh and Ben watches the oxygen curl out of his mouth and into the air, turning into white condensation. 

“You’re so full of shit,” Anakin says, but he winks over at Ben. “You couldn’t leave me if you tried.”

Obi-Wan turns away, and stretches out so that he can look up at the stars. “No,” he says. “No, I really can’t.”