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Jocasta Nu is watching him from across their shared desk, but if Anakin looks up now, it’ll all be over. She’ll ask him a serious question he cannot pretend to have not heard, one that he will have to answer lest his continued silence be answer enough. His master is smart like that. He often thinks his master is the smartest Jedi in the entire Order.

Sure, usually he thinks that while he’s trying to escape a lecture or an investigation into his life, but that doesn’t make it less true. She must be the smartest, wiliest Jedi in the Order.

“I heard from a few other padawans that Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi has returned from his mission,” Master Nu says, taking a sip of her tea. She’d made the cup a few hours ago, so there’s no way it’s warm. And there’s nothing Jocasta hates more than a cold cup of tea, so this must all be for show.

Perceptive old hag, Anakin thinks after making sure his shields are reasonably high and secure. “Are you eavesdropping on the senior padawans again, Master?” he asks without looking up from the datapad in front of him. Ostensibly, he’s been tasked with hypothetically building a rudimental Archival system for a hypothetical Mid-Rim planet that has asked his master for her help. She’s given him a list of materials he would have access to on the fictional planet, as well as a time frame for installation.

Anakin, as much as he complains about it, likes these sorts of assignments and the way they make it feel as if he’s actually…changing something. Creating. The Archives at the Jedi Temple are some of the most established and well-preserved in the galaxy. What mark can one padawan make on a system like that? What can Anakin’s hands do here that thousands of other hands haven’t already done?

“How else am I supposed to keep up with the happenings of the most recent generation of Jedi? Seeing as how my senior padawan has refused to say a single word not relating somehow to his training since a certain newly Knighted Jedi left for Valuk’ka?”

“Just because two events correlate, does not mean that one is directly caused by the other,” Anakin says quickly, staring hard at the datapad in front of him. “You taught me that, master.”

It has become dormant from lack of use, much like Jocasta’s cold cup of tea. Props, all of it. A farce. He pushes his glasses up his nose with his mechno finger. It’s supposed to help ground him, but it, like most things in the past three and a half weeks, just makes him think of Obi-Wan.

“Hm,” Jocasta hums and sets her cup delicately back onto her desk. “Padawan, are you accounting for the needs of the population or just the needs of the Archive?”

Anakin narrows his eyes at her and then down to the datapad in front of him. What does this have to do with Obi-Wan?

“Hm. Telling, padawan. But it doesn’t. The Archives you build must fit the needs of the inhabitants who use it. Create a system too complex, too reliant on constant upkeep, and they will fall into disrepair if the people do not have the time, energy, or understanding necessary to care for the archives.”

Blast, Anakin hadn’t been thinking of the hypothetical users at all in his calculations. But he doesn’t want to admit that now. Jocasta, though she’ll never say it out loud, prefers it when he argues with her. Maybe she just loves decimating his arguments with the firmness of her rebuttal. Maybe this is the closest thing she gets to sparring these days.

Force knows it is for Anakin.

“Perhaps something great and beautiful needs care and attention even when one is unfamiliar with how best to give it that sort of tending,” he says slowly instead, his mechno hand falling into his lap and clenching into a fist. “Wouldn’t the inhabitants, if they wanted the Archives enough, learn how to treasure them as they should be treasured once enough time has passed? Even if it at first inconvenienced them.”

“That’s a valid observation to an extent, padawan,” Jocasta tells him warmly. “But would you not still need to account for such a learning curve as those inhabitants puzzle out how best to support their archival system? The one with strange, alien needs must also have some capacity for forgiveness, for leniency, or it will be destroyed before the planet can work out how best to show it cares.”

Anakin’s throat is so tight it feels almost impossible to breathe. Oh. That’s what this has to do with Obi-Wan. They’re not talking about some hypothetical archival system anymore. Maybe they never were and the old hag had just led him into a false sense of security, and Anakin had trailed behind her. “You need to stop eavesdropping on the senior padawans, master,” he chokes out, knuckling at his eye beneath his glasses. They’re not wet. He’s just tired. He hasn’t been sleeping well.

He never does this time of year, but it’s worse this time around without Obi-Wan in his bed.

“Anakin,” Jocasta Nu tells him so firmly that his eyes snap to hers before he can stop himself. “Why have you not sought out Obi-Wan Kenobi? He has been back in the Temple for two hours. He’s not in the Halls of Healing, I know you checked as you forgot to close the screen—and we’ll have a conversation about slicing into medical logs at a later time, padawan, mark my words—so I am at a loss as to why you have not sequestered yourself and Knight Kenobi in one of your quarters as a means of catching up with your friend.”

Anakin can feel his cheeks flush a deep red. “We only did that when we were both padawans. He’s a Knight now. It’s inappropriate. We’re not children anymore,” he rattles off all in one breath, playing with the datapad in front of him. 

Jocasta’s eyes grow so soft that Anakin can’t bear to look at her. “You must know that is a weak excuse at most, padawan,” she tells him gently. “You have been my padawan for ten years and I have never once seen you hold your tongue or stay your hands because of propriety.” 

“He left,” Anakin admits finally, quietly even though it feels as if the words burst out of him. It was supposed to sound angry or harsh, but he’s missed the mark by several parsecs. He feels angry at having been pushed into talking about Obi-Wan. And he’s spent the last several weeks raging at Obi-Wan in particular. The words come out small in the end. “He knew what—that it was—he knew I—”

Needed him. Thank the Force his throat closes around the last two words before he can spill his heart out onto the desk for his master to see.

“A young knight does not get to choose his missions or the time of them,” his master tells him carefully. “Especially not one as gifted in negotiation as Knight Kenobi has proven himself to be. Valuk’ka was set to erupt into a civil war had the Council not sent him to intercede. From what I know of your friend, padawan, he does not seem capable of saying no when the greater good is at stake. Despite what he may want for himself.”

Anakin finds himself clenching his jaw tightly enough that his teeth hurt grinding together. “I know,” he bites out. He does. He knows. Obi-Wan had told him himself, the night before their departure as they lay sweating on clean sheets in his new quarters. It had been the coward’s way out. Obi-Wan had left in the morning. Anakin had left in the middle of the night, halfway through the screaming fight that had followed.

“He will never tell you this himself, I think,” Master Nu says, “but you should know that there isn’t a soul in the Temple apart from perhaps yourself who thinks Obi-Wan Kenobi would rather have been anywhere but at your side for the anniversary of that night, two weeks ago.”

Anakin flinches away from her like she has threatened to strike him. The skin that connects to his mechno arm burns. He resists the urge to scratch at it, only because the area is already red and irritated and his master is watching him.

She’s always watching him this time of year.

Perhaps she has more mercy in her than he’s ever thought possible, because she waves her hand in the air. “Think on it,” she tells him in the tone of voice she uses when she is finished discussing something. In response, his body relaxes completely and he nods.

He will, of course, think of little else.

“I must confess that I am a little happy that it was Knight Kenobi who was chosen for the mission in Valuk’ka.”

Anakin, who has gone back to intensely looking at his datapad, hums as if he’s not listening with every fiber of his being.

“Ever since I took you on as my padawan after your return to the Temple, Obi-Wan Kenobi has made it a point of bringing me baubles and gifts from his missions,” his master says with a sort of smile in her voice Anakin doesn’t want to think about. “Perhaps as payment for the times he steals my padawan away from me for hours on end. I rather liked the wool blanket he gave me upon his return from his first mission as a Knight.”

Obi-Wan had given Anakin a bad limp and a body full of hickies after his first mission as a Knight. “Hm,” he says instead.

“And Valuk’ka has some of the best spiced teas in the galaxy. I would trust no other Knight to pick the best selection for me,” Jocasta tells him lightly. “He promised to be down shortly to deliver them to me personally. What a sweet boy.”

As soon as the words have processed inside his head, Anakin is on his feet, chest tight with a hurt rage. He doesn’t want to see Obi-Wan. He doesn’t want his master to interfere. “How dare you.”

“If you had let me know of a problem between yourself and Knight Kenobi, I never would have overstepped in such a way,” Jocasta says as she looks at him coolly over the top of her mug.

Anakin fights the urge to snarl at her as he begins to gather his things together with sharp movements. “I’m going to find a quiet place to finish my assignment, master.”

Jocasta hums and turns back to her own datapad. The bond between them tinges with something like sadness and frustration. Not, Anakin notices, regret. “Very well, padawan. Hide yourself away.”

Anakin’s breath catches in his chest and he spins around to hurry further into the archives. Hide yourself away. Obi-Wan had said the same thing with so much more anger and hurt in his voice that Anakin hadn’t been able to articulate a response. He’d left so quickly that he’d forgotten his glasses on the knight’s bedside table, had had to navigate the Temple’s shadowy halls through eyes blurred both by genetics and tears.

He slams his way through several doors, not even having to think of where he’s going. He’s spent the last ten years learning the Archives and all of its secrets, all its hidden hallways and dark passages. Hiding away.

He falls into one room, rarely used and housing only a few historical datapads on Coruscant’s draining systems and lower level strikes. It’s warm here as these types of datapads need it to be, but not so overly hot that he finds it inhospitable. He likes the cold these days, can’t stand the heat. But if Obi-Wan were to look for him, he’d check those rooms with colder temperatures first, the knight so well-attuned to Anakin’s preferences that he might not even think to venture into the hotter rooms of the Temple Archives.

Surely, with all the terrible things Anakin had accused him of, Obi-Wan would not look very long or hard for him ay all.

Far from comforting, the thought only sends a lightning strike of irrational panic through his heart even as he twists himself further into the shadowy corner of the room, satchel lying untouched several feet away from him. Does he want Obi-Wan or not? It’s so hard to tell through the aching of his heart and his head.

Does he know how to not want Obi-Wan? He has spent every year of his life—save for two—so tightly entwined with the other boy that the mere idea of losing him is unfathomable and gut wrenching. 

But they’d never before had a fight like the one predating Obi-Wan’s second mission, not even when they were four and seven and Anakin had spilt his blue milk all over Obi-Wan’s favorite plushie and thrown it out so Obi-Wan wouldn’t see. No, this had been so much worse, and Anakin has so much more to lose now that they’ve grown. Now that they’ve started falling into each other’s beds for more than just a cuddle.

No longer is Obi-Wan just his favorite among the crechelings, nor is he the warmest thing to hold in his sleep. He’s everything. His lover, his brother, his best friend. His rock and sense of stability, his tether to the Force and some days to sanity itself.

And he knows Obi-Wan views him the same way, that they are so entangled with each other that it’s a miracle the Jedi Council has not stepped in and separated them on a more permanent basis. 

Maybe they thought that Anakin becoming an Archivist instead of a Knight would be separation enough. Maybe they felt guilty for what had happened to Anakin. Maybe they thought Obi-Wan would help him heal from his traumas and then respectfully put distance between them as befitting of a Jedi Knight. Maybe they didn’t care. Maybe they meditated on it and decided Anakin would kriff it up on his own with no outside assistance required.

Bile rises in his throat. He’d told Obi-Wan that he could always find someone else to fuck if Anakin’s ghosts were crowding up their bed. He’d meant the words to cut the Knight to the core but now he finds himself bleeding as well at the thought of Obi-Wan taking him up on it.

Of him laying back in a stranger’s bed and spreading his legs in ecstasy, golden-red hair fanned out on the pillow beneath him as someone who isn’t Anakin pounds into him and scratches down his chest and watches as he crests from the pleasure of the claiming.

Or what if Obi-Wan were to lay down a pretty, petite thing in his bed and rid her of her clothes so he could kiss down her stomach and bury his tongue in her warmth before rising to fuck his cock into her as well?

What if Obi-Wan has just been waiting for Anakin’s blessing and now that he’s gotten it, he’s spent the past three weeks fucking his way through Valuk’ka while Anakin had laid in his own bed and tried not to shake apart from the memories of—of—

The door to the room opens with an indifferent buzz. The first thing Anakin feels is Obi-Wan’s force signature expanding into the area and caressing every crevice of the room. He pulls his own force signature tightly inwards, cursing himself that he hadn’t thought to do that before, but it’s too late. Obi-Wan steps into the room itself and closes the door behind him.

Though Anakin is sat hidden in its corner, Obi-Wan walks through the room towards him unerringly, only stopping when they are right in front of each other. Anakin stays quiet and looks up at him defiantly. And, alright. Appreciatively.

In the six months since his knighthood, Obi-Wan has let his hair grow out long and roguish, following the age-old tradition amongst those newly freed from the awful padawan haircut. Anakin loves the long strands, loves pulling at them when Obi-Wan has his cock in his mouth or his tongue in his hole. He loves the gentle fall of those golden-red locks, a color so uniquely Obi-Wan that it has been ruined for everyone else. 

“I had hoped you might have been waiting for me in the hangar,” Obi-Wan admits with a slight jut of his bottom lip.

“And instead I listened to you,” Anakin bites out harshly, but when Obi-Wan kneels in front of him and presses his palm to his cheek, he lets him. “I hid.”

“I didn't mean it like that,” Obi-Wan looks pained. “Please, Anakin. Let’s…talk, alright, I have thought of little else even on my mission. It’s too warm in here, you cannot feel comfortable. Let’s go back to my quarters, alright? Please?”

Anakin wants to deny him. He wants to hurt him. He never wants to see him hurt. He doesn’t know how to say no to him.

He lets the knight pull him to his feet and then further until he’s wrapped into his arms and Obi-Wan has his nose buried in Anakin’s neck, squeezing him tightly. “I didn’t want to go,” he murmurs into his skin, lips brushing against it with every word. Anakin closes his eyes and tries not to whimper. It’s just that Obi-Wan knows his body so well, as well as Anakin does.

“You did though,” Anakin mutters back even as his arms wrap around Obi-Wan’s neck. “You knew I needed you, but you left anyway.” 

“There was a war, darling,” Obi-Wan tells him quietly, pulling away so he can stroke his fingers through the short, brown curls of Anakin’s hair. “What choice did I have? What can I do to make it up to you?”

Obi-Wan’s Force signature wraps around Anakin’s as tightly as it’s ever dared until Anakin can feel everything Obi-Wan’s feeling as if it were his own. Residual anger, guilt, sadness, frustration, hurt, love. Love, though he never said it back to Anakin when he’d confessed. Love still after everything. 

Anakin breaks their eye contact, unable to continue to look at the myriad of colors and emotions in Obi-Wan’s eyes. He rests his head on Obi-Wan’s shoulder and breathes out. And in.

Obi-Wan smells of space travel, of the sterile disinfectant of the Jedi ships. Perhaps there is a hint of sweat too, and maybe if Anakin strains far enough to the outer-edges of absurdity, a strand of sunlight.

“The night after you left, I woke up in the dark and I’d managed to get my shirt over my head but around my wrists. I thought I was bound again,” he mutters quickly and quietly. “I haven’t been sleeping well since. Not with. Not with it being that time. And. Being alone. In the dark.”

These are truths he hadn’t even thought to tell Jocasta, even though she must have noticed how his performance had flagged as the shadows beneath his eyes grew bigger. But she hadn’t asked outright. Neither had Obi-Wan, but he was Obi-Wan. 

All of Anakin’s truths were his as well and had been since they were babes, curled around each other like commas.

Obi-Wan’s hand smooths down his spine just this side of too harsh. The pressure feels wonderful and perfect, and Obi-Wan is wonderful and perfect and touches him as if he doesn’t know he will cut himself all along Anakin’s broken pieces.

“Then let’s get you to bed before anything else,” Obi-Wan decides softly, separating them just enough so he can grab at Anakin’s hand and pull him away from the corner. He stoops and swings Anakin’s satchel over his shoulder, as if Anakin is sickly and feeble, and Obi-Wan must carry the weight of his books as well.

But Anakin doesn’t protest. He cannot even tell if the walk from the Archives to Obi-Wan’s new apartments is a long one or a short one, so trapped in his own thoughts he is only anchored to reality by the grip Obi-Wan’s hand has on his own.

As docile as a youngling, he allows Obi-Wan to take his glasses off and set them on the bedside table, to strip away the layers of his Jedi robes and push him under the blankets of his bed in nothing but his smallclothes. The quarters are cool almost to the point of discomfort, but Anakin relishes in it, especially when Obi-Wan slips in behind him and folds him into his arms, a long line of firm heat to lean into.

Obi-Wan presses a kiss to his temple as Anakin turns to face him. Their legs entwine beneath the sheets, and one of Obi-Wan’s thumbs starts tracing mindless patterns on his lower back. Slowly, Anakin lets himself relax completely in Obi-Wan’s arms. Safe.

“I’m sorry, Ani,” Obi-Wan whispers, the childhood nickname tugging at something deep in his gut even as it soothes over fresh wounds. “I was angry at what you were saying, but I didn’t mean to imply that you…that you hid away. I just…”

Obi-Wan purses his lips and Anakin waits, breathless, hand pressed against the planes of his chest. There’s a fine layer of soft curls there, ones that will surely darken in time as he grows.

“I suppose I just cannot stand the idea of you hiding yourself away from me, too,” Obi-Wan finally murmurs. 

Anakin doesn’t know what to say to that, if there is anything to say to that, so he hums instead and presses a kiss over Obi-Wan’s heart.

“Sometimes it feels as if you never came back,” Obi-Wan tells him with a sad little smile. “That I’ve still lost you.”

Five minutes pass by, then ten. Anakin rests his head against Obi-Wan’s chest and feels the heat of him warm his own body. Their force signatures are so melded it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between them. There are moments when neither is watching where they become one and whole from the integration of separate parts. Maybe that’s what gives him the courage to admit, quietly, long after they both should be asleep, “Sometimes it feels like I’m still lost.”

Anakin had been brought to the crechè when he was one year old. His parents were from Coruscant, somewhere in the mid-levels. Perhaps they loved the Jedi. Anakin has always thought they had to, to have given him away. He remembers their love and the gentleness of their hands when they had held him. So they must have loved the Jedi or thought that he would be happier with the Jedi than with them.

They would, of course, be right in the end. The Jedi had the structure Anakin needed to control his powers. They had the patience to teach him how to center himself. They had never-ending food in the mess hall, a room of plants and falling water, and as many soft, stuffed animals a youngling could possibly want.

And they had Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Anakin can’t remember a time he did not need Obi-Wan like he needed air, though there must have been a period of time where he was at the Temple but had not yet become the other boy’s shadow. He can’t even remember how he and Obi-Wan had met, what sort of action led to them pulling away from all others in favor of only their arms and hands around each other, only their snacks shared between two, only their quiet voices murmuring together during naptime.

But change had come slowly and inevitably, as it is wont to do. Obi-Wan, by virtue of being three years older than Anakin, was picked by a master for a padawanship at the age of eleven. Anakin had cried and wailed and begged to come along, had gone so far as to sneak inside Obi-Wan’s bag of possessions and into his new living quarters. His new master had found the incident funny, which Anakin supposes now it must have been. 

Back then, all of eight years old, Anakin had never slept without Obi-Wan beside him in his memory. That first night he’d laid awake for hours, tossing and turning. Freezing down to his bones from the lack of Obi-Wan’s body heat, Anakin had resolved in that moment to become the best and most skilled Initiate in the entire group of crechelings. Because then a master would have to choose him. And then, as padawans, Obi-Wan and Anakin could see each other all the time. Maybe they would even go on missions together with their masters beside them. Maybe they’d be knighted at the same time and they could go on missions together all the time. 

Anakin had loved the idea of the two of them exploring the galaxy together so much that that had been enough to lull him to sleep.

It had taken two years before a master took Anakin on as his padawan. During that time, Obi-Wan remained the most important person in his entire life, maybe the most important person in the entire galaxy , and at every opportunity Anakin found himself sneaking away from the crechè to visit Obi-Wan. The older boy never complained, and neither did his master. Instead, a new, indulgent routine was formed wherein Anakin was allowed to sit in sometimes on Obi-Wan’s lessons, and Obi-Wan in turn was allowed to take double the creche duties as other padawans.

When Anakin was finally chosen and his hair cut in the padawan style, he’d been enthusiastic. At ten years old, he was young and confident and content. His master’s quarters were just down the hallway from Obi-Wan’s master’s quarters.

He’d excelled at his studies, basic lightsaber forms as well as the histories of different planets he was set to learn. The fighting was the most interesting by far, though Obi-Wan had instilled in him a patience for and a love of the quiet stillness of books and datapads as well.

He’d been ten years and four months old when his master decided he was old enough to accompany him into the field. The mission had been low stakes on a relatively harmless planet. A perfect introduction to the life of a Jedi Knight, he can still remember his master saying.

Perhaps it could have been.

But something had gone wrong, had gone sideways. They’d been captured by an unknown faction of greedy, delusional men, hungry for power. His master had been killed. Anakin had been taken and then, after several long months of testing the Jedi padawan and torturing him for little more than outright cruelty, they’d sold him to a slaver on a dry desert planet.

He’d had no concept of how much time it’d been since his capture, nor even of what day it was. Most of his time was spent alone in the desert wastes, harvesting what little could be torn from the hot earth. For almost two years, he’d lived in the crushing heat of the desert, Force collar around his neck to prevent incidents . Incidents that he would be punished for, real or not. 

His master had hated the Jedi, and seemed to take the slightest hint of defiance from Anakin as a reason for punishment so harsh it’d left him twitching on the ground for hours after the slaver had left.

And then he’d slipped up, the slaver had. He’d told someone where Anakin’s slave chip was without realizing Anakin was listening in. He’d bided his time until his owner had sent him to trade with a Hutt in a town called Mos Espa. Then he’d cut off his own arm where the chip was buried, and stolen a ship. If he’d been any less powerful in the Force, he probably would have died from blood loss in the pilot’s seat. Any less sensitive in the Force, he probably wouldn’t have picked a spacecraft with a top of the line medical droid in it.

But he was and he did, and he had survived. Mostly all in one piece.

Those first few days back at the Temple had been a blur, and Anakin doesn’t like thinking of them almost as much as he doesn’t like thinking about his time in chains. Obi-Wan hadn’t been there, though Anakin is sure he’d asked for him repeatedly and half out of his mind from the pain, the temperature change, the sheer amount of voices and hands touching him, examining him. He’d just wanted to see Obi-Wan and then maybe to sleep. 

The healers had given him one before the other. 

But when he’d woken up, it had been to a strange boy curled up in the chair next to the bed. Obi-Wan, but…different. Two years different and two years more reserved for it. There had been a second where the two boys had looked at each other assessingly, both somehow equally as afraid of being found a stranger, before one of them—no one knows who still to this day—had broken and Obi-Wan had climbed into his bed at the same time that Anakin had shifted to the side to make room for him. 

And they’d never really left each other’s orbit again. Through every healing session and screaming night terror, every mechno arm fitting and adjustment and late night regression, Obi-Wan had stayed silently at Anakin’s side. When he’d told the fifteen year old padawan that he didn’t think he could ever be a knight, that maybe there’d never be a place for him at the Temple again even though the idea of leaving the place terrified him, it had been Obi-Wan who had found him a less-traveled path. He’d brought Jocasta Nu in to meet with him over tea. The Jedi Archivists, after all, stay mostly in the Temple, too valuable to its operation as keepers of its knowledge and secrets to be sent away. 

It had been a near-perfect solution, and the first time Anakin had ever felt the stirrings of romantic love for his best friend. His best friend, who gave him presents from outside planets, who kept the temperature of his own quarters cold just in case Anakin stopped by, who never pressed or asked for more than Anakin could give.

It had been so easy to fall in love with him, yet so painstakingly forbidden. The Code must be followed above all things, even one’s heart, and Anakin had stood to lose everything should Obi-Wan reject him.

A secret that heavy had been impossible to carry for long though, even for one as strong as Anakin. He’d lasted all the way until Obi-Wan’s knighting ceremony before he couldn’t pretend any longer.

They’d fallen into bed together that night until they were so wrapped up in and around each other that it would be impossible to split them apart without destroying some integral aspect of both of their very selves.

And yet now, Anakin lays awake in the secure circle of Obi-Wan’s arms and wonders if maybe that’s what’s going to happen anyway, if the fight they’d had before Obi-Wan had left for his second mission—if it had been ugly enough to tear them asunder.

Obi-Wan isn’t holding him like it is, but they’ve never had a fight like that. Not since they started…not since they’ve changed the nature of their relationship.

He’s never been so mad at Obi-Wan, who has never been so mad at him in turn.

It’s just that Obi-Wan has never left him alone on the anniversary of his capture, not once in a decade. He’s had three and a half weeks to think on his reaction, think about why the knowledge that Obi-Wan was leaving had hit him so hard he’d thought he’d shatter from the pain of it. He’d said horrible things, accused Obi-Wan of…of horrible things, of pitying him, of using him, of ruining his future, of holding him back . Of being so tired of him and his issues that he’d jumped at the first chance to leave again. 

It’s because you chose the Order over me, he’d realized a week into refusing to answer Obi-Wan’s comm calls. It’s because I told you I loved you and you never said it back and then you left.

Across the scant few inches that separate their faces, Obi-Wan stirs from sleep and blinks his eyes open. He smiles when he sees Anakin and leans forward to rub their noses together.

“I missed you,” Obi-Wan confesses with a quirk of his lips like he’s ashamed to admit it. “I think I always will when I go on missions without you.”

“We’ve never been on missions together before,” Anakin points out because he has to. They’re both whispering. It’s better than screaming, probably.

“You’re right,” his best friend responds just as quietly. “But I always dreamt of it.”

Anakin doesn’t say that he had too, though it’s true. “I’m sorry,” he mutters. “I wish—” he cuts himself off. He wishes for many things.

Obi-Wan soothes him and places a hand against the back of his head to bring him forward fully into his arms once again. “I miss you because you are away from me. And given that you have not left the Temple in a decade, I find always that the blame for our separation rests on my shoulders. It is…something I’ve struggled with for years now. Leaving you. Knowing you would be…happier if I stayed.”

Anakin clenches his jaw. Obi-Wan makes it sound like he’s a burden . He doesn’t want that. He can’t stand the thought of it. He inhales to say something–though he doesn’t know what, but before he can, Obi-Wan continues.

“I’m sorry I hurt you last time. I didn’t mean to imply that I felt as if you were…that you were…weak or that you should be… above …the echoes of your trauma. If that’s how you heard it. I’m sorry. I never would….”

Obi-Wan looks frustrated, bottom lip jutting out so far Anakin wants to kiss it. But that won’t solve anything. Instead he moves his flesh hand to clasp around Obi-Wan’s throat. He can feel his pulse beating wildly.

“Archives have to be forgiving when their users don’t know the best way to care for them yet,” he murmurs in realization, sliding his hand around to the back of Obi-Wan’s neck and tipping their foreheads together.

Obi-Wan stares at him for a second before flinching back automatically. His voice, when he speaks, comes out small. “I’ve always thought I knew how to care for you fairly well. Anakin, if…if I’ve hurt you—”

“Stars, no,” Anakin says quickly. “I don’t even think you’re capable, not really. But we’re…this is new. Between us. We’re building something new. Or I thought we were. And I was talking with my master, and I thought the Archive was me, but it’s us, it’s this, and it was a mistake—” at Obi-Wan’s physical recoil away from him, Anakin sits up so he can lean over him. “Not it as in our relationship!” He corrects himself hurriedly. “I meant the fight, what happened before you left. It was just…a mistake. I…that was the first mission you’d gone on after I kissed you. I mean, I guess not the first one, because you left on a mission after we fucked the first time—but the first mission where I wanted you to stay. And you couldn’t. And I…”

He swallows and fights to maintain eye contact, to not hide.

“I get it. And I knew logically it was the right decision. But I also…we haven’t talked about us. Like this. What it means.”

“What what means?” Obi-Wan breathes, staring up at him with wide, pretty, blue eyes.

“What it means that I don’t want to kiss anyone else ever again in my life. That I love you. I’m in love with you. But you’re a Jedi Knight. You have to be the Council’s man, and I’m a padawan. Senior, yeah, but Knights and Padawans can’t be caught fucking. And…” he trails off and shrugs.

And you never said you loved me back feels too honest, too needy. What if Obi-Wan doesn’t say it again? What if Obi-Wan just…doesn’t really, actually love him back?

Maybe it’s best not to hear it at all.

“I’m not the Council’s man,” Obi-Wan tells him, raising his hand to cup Anakin’s cheek. Anakin doesn’t say anything about the way it shakes, and Obi-Wan in turn doesn’t point out the way he nuzzles into the touch. “I’m yours.”

Anakin shakes his head with a sad half-smile, an expression he picked up from Obi-Wan.

“No, Anakin, listen,” Obi-Wan nudges him backward until he’s sitting up too and when that’s not close enough for him he pushes him to sit flat on the bed so he can clamber into his lap and lock his arms around his head. “If I thought for a second that you could ever feel as safe somewhere else as you do in the Temple, I’d leave the Order with you in a heartbeat, Anakin.”

Anakin feels his eyes widen and his mouth fall open as he tries to process the words. Obi-Wan closes the distance to kiss him, gentle pressure that almost isn’t there at all. “But I do,” he says stupidly when Obi-Wan pulls away. “When I’m with you. I’m the safest.”

Obi-Wan stares at him in silence for several seconds before he breaks into a smile so bright and burning Anakin falls in love with his warmth all over again. “I love you,” he whispers as he tilts Anakin’s chin up for another kiss, one that Anakin at least remembers to return this time. “I thought I was saying it all this time.”

Anakin shrugs and kisses him back. “You probably were. But thank you for saying it again.” When Obi-Wan goes to say something else though, Anakin kisses him quiet, pressing his hand against his lower back as he slowly tips them over so that he’s on top of Obi-Wan’s body, between his best friend’s spread legs.

Huh. Best friend. It doesn’t sound right at all, not nearly descriptive enough for what Obi-Wan means to him. They’ve called each other brothers before, but it seems strange to invoke the word now when he can feel Obi-Wan’s cock beginning to harden against his. Lover sounds nice and soothes the possessive beast inside of Anakin’s chest that has spent three weeks frothing at the mouth at the idea of Obi-Wan bedding someone else. But lover sounds too temporary. Too breakable.

“Will you marry me?” Anakin asks when he pulls back from Obi-Wan’s mouth. Obi-Wan stares up at him blankly, lips red from the kissing and eyes blown from the arousal.


“I can’t think of something to call you that encapsulates all you are to me. Other than husband. So will you marry me?” Anakin, in a bid to strengthen his case, presses a flurry of kisses and short nips to the exposed column of Obi-Wan’s neck. Obi-Wan loves neck kisses. If they were married, Anakin would give Obi-Wan neck kisses all the time.

“Jedi Knights don’t get married,” Obi-Wan says dazedly, moaning when Anakin rocks his hips down pointedly.

“Jedi Knights also shun attachments,” Anakin responds, slipping his hands to run along the lines of Obi-Wan’s chest. “And we won’t be Jedi when we leave the Order.”

“Leave the—”

“Will you promise?” Anakin asks, retreating so he can hover over Obi-Wan’s body completely, barely touching him at all. “I would like to think of you as my husband. Even if only we know.”

Obi-Wan’s leg comes up to wrap around his hips and bring him closer, rocking their bodies together again. Anakin grunts from the feeling of arousal, intense and all-consuming. “Why?” Obi-Wan asks shrewdly, wrapping an arm around Anakin’s neck. “Honest.”

Anakin presses a kiss to Obi-Wan’s forehead because he loves his brain even when he’s being awfully inconvenient and clever. And then to Obi-Wan’s lips because maybe he really is a weak man after all. “Because when you leave me, I want to know that you have to come back,” he mutters. 

It sounds so illogical and childish out in the air like that, but it’s the truth. It’s all of his insecurities since they got together, all of his worries and his doubts from the past ten years compressed into a singular sentence.

Obi-Wan looks at him for several seconds that feel as long as hours are, before he rolls them both onto their side. “I’ll always come back,” he promises, interlocking their fingers and raising the back of Anakin’s hand to his mouth for a gentle kiss. “Husband.”

Anakin kisses him, and he’s home. He’s safe. He’s loved.

He's with Obi-Wan, which to him has always meant all that and more.