The Coldest Twilight By LuvEwan


A scathing gust swirled around them, carrying the coarse debris of a desert: small stones and sand grains left the apprentice's cheeks raw. His throat was dry, coated with dust. He allowed himself two gulps of the sweet, lukewarm water before pressing the opening to his Master's parched, cracked mouth.

The man sealed his pale eyes, and weakly turned his head away.

"No, Master. You have to get this down." Anakin persisted. His hands, displaying aged, irritated scratches, forced the other to accept the life- giving liquid, bracing the hot temples with unyielding strength. He had spent a significant portion of his childhood among the dunes, and knew what dehydration entailed; had watched over tall shoulders a thirsting man reject a generous offering of water. He had been delirious, his Mother said sadly, her ever-compassionate gaze sweeping to the man, writhing in the bed of sand. They reach the point where water seems poison to their lips, Ani.

The Padawan tipped the canteen, so every drop would slide out, and nourish his ill mentor.

Obi-Wan took a tiny swallow before shuddering. He lifted heavy limbs to push Anakin back. "No." He rasped. A clear stream trailed from his mouth, down his sweaty face and dripped from his round jaw.

Anakin cursed under his breath, wiping the water from burned skin.

A distant animal howled. A piercing, forlorn sound, that caused the young Jedi to look quickly behind him. The cave was still empty. It was a claustrophobic space, barely enough room for him to move his elbows without bumping into hard, red rock. His leggings were wearing thin as they rubbed against the dusty ground.

A trio of suns were slowly descending, casting a subtle orange glow on his Master's face.

The beard was growing from its neat, short length. Damp, ginger hair was plastered to the blistering hot forehead. Obi-Wan's eyes opened to drooping slits, revealing orbs that were, in the glory of his prime, striking cerulean. Ache bloomed in the apprentice's heart, as he witnessed the brilliance reduced to dim cobalt.

The epidemic spread throughout the area with lightning speed. Each strike brought disease to the humble, if hermit-like, inhabitants of Tlesin.

Tlesin. In native tongue, it means 'blessed by sun rays', Padawan.

Master Obi-Wan enjoyed learning the rich pasts of a culture, and this tidbit caused a huge, blinding smile to spread. His quiet reserve had been abandoned to experience the pure, rather innocent, pleasure of receiving knowledge.

And Anakin had loved him then, with an affection that ran deep in his spirit. When Obi-Wan Kenobi grinned, troubles could be forgotten, shed as if they were a flaking skin.

His Master had not smiled since that moment.

For the cruel malady consumed his noble body, crippling him as he attempted to aid another. His knees had buckled, and his skin was drained of healthy color. Anakin found him crumpled on the floor, barely awake.

The transport was still miles from the dank little cave. But after carrying the burden of his limp Master for hours, he couldn't take another painstaking step.

The land was in the ruin of disease. The streets were deserted. Everyone was to fend for themselves.

In the end, Anakin decided, you could only rely on yourself.

He glanced down at his Master, watching the fading light flicker on his ashen countenance. A sickly gaze was loosely focused on him. The man was fighting to regain control of the situation.

It was killing him to be this helpless, lying in flat dirt, grime caked in his dirty mane.

The temperature flared suddenly. Waves of intense heat assaulted them, and Anakin loosened Obi-Wan's tunic, exposing a slick, perspiring chest, in attempts of cooling him.

For once in his life, Anakin Skywalker wished for nightfall. He could battle the dreams that threatened his sleep once dark blanketed the sky. He would handle anything thrust upon him.if it meant his Master would receive a measure of relief.

Obi-Wan moaned, thrashing suddenly.

Anakin brushed his fingers across his forehead. "Master, just sleep." He said shakily. "Go to sleep, alright?"

Moist eyelashes fluttered, and those pallid eyes opened fully. "Anakin." Obi-Wan whispered, staring at his apprentice, vision bleary.

Anakin gently gathered the smaller form against him, wrapping his arms around the only man that did not glance at him with fear. The man who understood his dreams---and wanted to make them come true. He cradled Obi- Wan, ignoring the threat the raging illness posed. "Yes, Master?"

The ailment seemed to dissipate from the haggard visage. "I need to talk to you about Anakin."

Anakin smiled, but his brow creased. "What do you mean?" Confusion and mounting dread trembled in his voice. He touched Obi-Wan's cheek. "Master, it's me."

The intent expression did not falter. "I---I can't." He said brokenly.

"You can't what?"

Obi-Wan swallowed with an audible click. Tears gleamed in his glassy eyes. "I tried. Every day, I woke and went to the mirror. I m-m-made myself look at who was there. And I thought of what I used to be. What I--what I wanted to be."

"What? Master, what are you---"

"Not me." He shook his head, laughing softly, hoarsely. "It isn't me, Master. Anakin has made me someone that I don't.that I don't like." He paused and took a shuddering breath. Sweat rolled down his face. "I wanted to like him. B-Because he is what you wanted. What you told me to become, when you were---dying. I want to be good, like you wanted."

Anakin inhaled. Sobs tightened in his chest, yet he would not allow them liberation. He listened.

"I want to run. Sometimes. I look out my window, and think of escaping into the endless c-city. Where nobody can find me. Where Anakin wouldn't be able to f-find me.

"I teach Anakin, Master. Like you needed me to, right? So I teach him, and try not to remember what I wanted. I try to make myself love him."

Anakin bit his quivering lip. Tears dripped silently from his red-threaded eyes.

"And he is not what I wanted for s-so long. Be-Because he has the power to kill the Universe, doesn't he? Like what the Council says to me. Not out loud. In my head, I can hear them warn me. I'm scared of what---of what he could be." He coughed harshly into his hand.

"But h-he's why I'm here, isn't he, Master? Why you." The words were spoken in a tiny, husky voice. Black from the approaching night edged his face. "Why you stopped loving me. "

Anakin shook his head. "Stop." He commanded raggedly, shaking Obi-Wan. "Stop it!"

Obi-Wan seemed unaware of his protégé's distress. "I tried to hate him, you know. I really tried to hate him."

Anakin threw him to the ground and sprang to his feet, a miserable, guttural cry ripped from his soul. Pain lanced through the young man.

Obi-Wan lay sprawled, panting, wisps of ginger falling in his eyes. "And I can't." He murmured.

Anakin stopped. His heaving gasps echoed in the cave, but those bare, honest words rippled in his ears, etched into his heart. He studied his companion, heard the rattling congestion in his lungs.

"H--He took you f-f-from me.but I can't." Obi-Wan's eyes closed. His body was motionless, save the uneven movements of breathing.

The Padawan sniffled, rubbing his face. Numbly, he collected Obi-Wan in his arms again, resting the fevered head on his shoulder. "You just sleep now." Anakin said in dead monotone.

He shuffled to the corner, and with his back against the wall, slid to the floor.

Anakin blinked. The disbelief fled, and terrible realization dawned in him. His Master had been a child that day on Naboo, when his only family was torn from him. It was a bewildered, grieving child who wove Anakin's braid, and ushered him into his home. An uncertain boy, shoved roughly to full manhood, who worried that he would never live up to his slain, beloved Master's expectations.

Who forced himself to care for the apprentice he had never asked for.

Anakin kissed Obi-Wan's forehead, a feather light touch that betrayed the fervor of the hour. "You want to---hate me." He said. "And I want to hate you."

He looked at the horizon, a quaking hand stroking his guardian's arm tenderly, shivering.

The suns had set.