Obi-Wan is shaking. Why is this happening? Why can he see the truth only now, as his love, his partner in this cosmic dance, lies dying on the field of battle?
"What can I do?" he whispers, stroking hair out of the boy's face with bloody, shaking fingers.
The young security guard, shot during the invasion of the palace by Obi-Wan's military unit, sighs, his eyes slipping closed. “Just hold me.” His voice is rueful, like he knew this was how it would happen. Maybe this is how it always happens. Obi-Wan doesn't know; he is freshly awakened to the reality of their eternal existence together, and he doesn't have any past memories to draw on.
Obi-Wan cradles him close, heart aching as it swells with a desperate tenderness. “How... how will I find you again?”
The boy laughs bitterly; it sticks in his throat and he begins coughing, blood dribbling over his lip.
"If I knew that - d’you think I'd - I'd - " He starts hacking, body shaking in Obi-Wan’s arms. Obi-Wan holds him closer.
“I will find you, dear one,” he murmurs against his beloved’s temple. “Don't be afraid. I will find you.”
Maybe this is the way it always is.
She knows him when she sees him. She wasn't sure she would - this is the first time she has ever remembered to look - but she does, and she sheathes her blaster and puts up her hands.
“Hold your fire!” she shouts over her shoulder at the commandos covering her back.
The dark one spins at the sound of her voice, lightsaber at the ready - and then his whole demeanor changes, opens up. He drops his weapon to his side, the blade sliding back into the hilt, his shoulders loose, his face crumpling.
“It’s you,” he says.
“It’s me.” She moves toward him unreservedly, taking him at once into her arms. “It’s me. I've got you.”
“How did you find me?” he mumbles, pressing his face into the curve of her neck.
“Hush. I found you, that's all that matters.” She speaks over her shoulder to the commandos behind her. “Bring the binders. Be gentle.”
He can hear them moving around behind him. He nestles deeper into her, making a soft, distressed noise.
“It's alright, darling. I’m taking you with us. I promise, I’ll be with you every step of the way.” She holds him more tightly, whispering against his hairline, “I’ve found you. I'm not letting you out of my sight.”
She takes the seat next to him in the troop carrier. "I don't even know your name."
"Vader," he says, "but I think it was something else before that. How did you find me?"
Covering his cuffed hands with her own, she replies, "I don't know, but I knew it was you. The moment I saw you."
He leans sideways to rest his head on her collarbone. “You've never remembered me before.”
“I’ll never forget you again,” she says.
The court rules for his execution.
She doesn't get the chance to talk to him before it happens. She tries - pushing her way through the rioting crowd, shouting that she's with Capital Security, move aside - but they're already walking him up to the temporary gallows erected for the event. A gallows, and she thinks, is this what we've become? A state more interested in letting the crowd slake its bloodthirst publicly than in a man's fair trial and possible redemption?
He does catch her eye as he's being pushed along. He gives her a sad smile, and she thinks again, maybe this is the way that it always is.
Chapter 3: forward
it's the first time they've kissed in lifetimes.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
His palms are sweating, and he keeps wiping them on the pants of his suit over and over. It’s becoming like a nervous tic. His eyes rove the selections behind the bar - it’s too expensive to drink here, he blew all his money just getting here, and on the stupid suit, and now he’s broke and doing anything to keep from having to look over at -
“Sir?” the bartender asks pointedly, and Hayden realizes that the flat-faced biped has asked him what he’s drinking twice already.
“Oh, uh. What’s your cheapest - ?” Hayden swallows at the alien’s expression. “Uh. Corellian whiskey, please. A shot.”
The bartender serves him his drink; he knocks it back, stomach turning. Come on, Hayden. You gotta do this. You spent everything you had getting here, and if you won’t even look at him -
So he looks, glancing over to where the object of his attention is laughing at a table with a lot of glamorous, good-looking people, Coruscanti types - and then he looks away, feeling hot all over. The person he came all this way for is right there, but what is he going to do? March over and announce that he knows he’s the soul-mate of a holomovie star? True, his partner had promised that he (although it had been she, at the time) would remember him the next time, but who could trust a promise made under such -
A hand comes to rest on the small of his back, and a figure leans past him, speaking directly to the bartender: “Can we get two more of these, please? On me.”
He turns, ready to be indignant, and Force, there are those steel gray eyes just a few inches away, that mischievous smile close enough to kiss. Hayden remembers seeing him in a holomovie for the first time, being jolted like he always is when he makes the connection, and he remembers thinking, how are you always so beautiful? A hundred lifetimes, a hundred different appearances, but always, always -
“What’s your name?” his lover asks softly, leaning conspiratorially close, and Hayden’s dazzled, electrified by those blue-gray lightning-strike eyes.
Mouth dry, he replies, “Hayden.”
“Hayden, I’m Ewan.” Ewan’s eyes sparkle knowingly. “Would you like to come home with me?”
Hayden’s still not sure that Ewan knows who he is, but he can’t say anything but yes.
Ewan takes the shot that the bartender set on the counter, swings by his table to say goodbye to his beautiful friends - who laugh and waggle their eyebrows at Hayden - and then comes back, placing his hand on Hayden’s waist.
“Shall we?” he murmurs, low and smooth.
Hayden takes a moment to down his shot before they go. (If Ewan doesn’t remember him, he’s going to need it.)
They catch an air taxi. Tucked tight against Hayden in the back seat, Ewan reaches for his hand, and brings it to his lips to press a soft kiss to Hayden’s fingers.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” he says over the rush of the wind around them as they buzz through the skylanes. “How did you find me?”
Hayden lets out a soft breath, the knot in his stomach finally coming loose. Ewan remembers him. “I saw you in a holomovie. After that, it was just… research. And… saving up the money.” The tips of his ears go hot, but Ewan doesn’t ask about his financial situation.
Instead, Ewan just says, “I’m glad you did,” and then leans forward and takes Hayden’s mouth with his.
It’s the first time they’ve kissed in lifetimes, three or four, or a dozen, or fifty - he doesn’t know. After three or four, his memory gets less specific. But anyway, it’s been ages, and Hayden can’t imagine it was ever this good - Ewan is very good at kissing, and Hayden doesn’t want to think about how he got that way, doesn’t want to think about him kissing other people while Hayden was alone, wondering if they’d ever find each other again -
They part with a soft noise, and Ewan’s hand comes up to cup the back of his head, fingers running through his short hair.
Pressing their foreheads together, Ewan breathes, “Was that too forward?”
“No.” Hayden goes for his mouth again.
“Will you stay the night?”
Ewan sounds almost anxious, and he touches Hayden’s arm as he says it, his eyes large and pleading. They’re both curled up on the couch in his luxurious Coruscant apartment, and Ewan is leaning in close enough to be intoxicating, and Hayden can’t say anything but yes. (Anyway, it’ll save him from having to find a hotel on Coruscant, and good luck to the poor soul who has to do that on a budget.)
“It’s just,” continues Ewan as if he didn’t hear Hayden’s agreement, as if he thinks he still has to convince him, “the last time I let you out of my sight, I lost you. After I promised - ”
Force, he really does remember.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Hayden mumbles. “Sometimes we just - things just don’t work out.”
“You trusted me.” Ewan’s running his knuckles down Hayden’s jawline, now. “You let them take you because I told you that you would be safe. I didn’t even know until it was too late - ”
Hayden turns, presses his face into that hand. There’s still so much that Ewan doesn’t know.
“It’s not the worst thing we’ve ever been through,” he admits.
Ewan’s watching him with wide eyes. His hands, trembling just a little, mold along both sides of Hayden’s face, holding him in place. “There’s been worse?”
Hayden nods. “At least I got to see you. At least you - ” forgave me, there on the tip of his tongue, but he won’t say it. You always forgive me. No matter how bad I screw everything up. And there have been times when I screwed up so, so badly.
“There’s been worse,” he confirms, instead.
Ewan tugs him in, and Hayden goes willingly, thinking that he can’t believe how good this feels, how desperately he’s missed it.
“Not this time,” Ewan whispers against his hairline. “This time, I’ve got you.”
They sleep in the same bed, Hayden divested of his ill-fitting suit, Ewan curled warm and comfortable around him, occasionally giving him a loving nuzzle.
In the morning they will talk. Ewan will offer to have his mother flown in from the Outer Rim, to move them both into his spacious Coruscant apartment. Hayden will tell him more about their lives together, so many histories that Ewan still doesn’t remember, and together they will wonder about the future.
But for now, they are together, and Hayden will not waste this time wondering when it will disappear. This is what he lives for.
Didn't really want this to be RPF, just borrowing the names to keep up the variety of the different lives. Plus... Obi-Wan's a movie star in this one. It just seemed fitting.