Title: Everything You Wanted
Summary: A ROTS AU where Anakin is now Emperor and has captured Obi-Wan. What next?
Rating: Teen, I suppose. Contains mature themes.
A/N: Many thanks to Pallas-Athena for beta'ing and helping me through this dark story. This was a bit of a purge of emotion for me, in reaction to Ep. III. I'd also like to add that for those who visit the JC boards, I won't be posting this there due to its rating. Feel free to spread the word. ;) And, a little warning ... yes, this is a bit stylized. Here's to hoping it works.
Feedback is always appreciated. :)
You got everything you wanted, Anakin.
You saved Padmé's life.
You saved your children's lives.
You have power.
But you've still lost.
I don't know how you found this place. Or if you found it at all; the thought that this dungeon was made especially for me is somewhat disturbing. It feels old, though; the cold metal is tarnished, scratched, and filthy. The chains on my wrists are stained with blood that is not mine.
The chain does not have much length to it; it's attached to the wall, and so I'm left here, sitting with my arms above my head, the weight of them on my wrists. It's the most comfortable position I can manage for any long length of time.
I sense you coming before you arrive. Your presence is different now, Anakin. You were always strong and powerful, but there's an air of darkness around you now, so thick it feels like it's throttling you.
It makes me uncomfortable, in the sense that I want to reach out and … help you, as I always did before, calm you and help you meditate, find your center, find the Light.
You would certainly not welcome that now.
The door opens with a harsh, grating sound, and you enter. The door closes behind you, but I do not sense another living presence; perhaps it is a droid that guards me, then. I look at you, seeing the physical changes: your eyes still carry a tint of yellow, and I wonder if it's a permanent mark. You wear dark gloves on both hands now, to hide the metal limbs I left you with. Your walk is slightly off, but I have no doubt that will fade in time; you were always excellent at adapting, Anakin.
You glare at me, and I feel … I strive for calmness, but something about you has always made me feel helpless.
You feel angry, and I feel regret.
"Where is my son? Where is Padmé?" you snarl, and clench your fists.
"I don't know," I answer honestly.
"Don't lie to me, Obi-Wan."
I told you to call me that. Equals, weren't we …
"Look at me."
I look at you, and you step up to me; something is angering you further. You crouch, gracelessly, and stare into my eyes. I feel your forceful touch on my mind, but I'm prepared for that. You strive to break my barriers, and you are strong, Anakin. But not quite skilled enough, not yet.
As if hearing my thoughts, you say, "Soon," as if it's a faithful promise.
"You will find nothing," I tell you, knowing you will not believe me. I am not the grand manipulator you think me to be. Did you think I wanted you to fail, that I said you should not be a Master because of some grand plot to keep myself in a higher position than you? That is Sith thinking, Anakin … but I know you've denied that to yourself on a level that I cannot reach.
Your lips twitch, as if you want to reply but know better of it. It's odd, Anakin, that the Sith ways have taught you when to be silent, where I never could.
You rise quickly and walk out without any hesitation. I feel you going down the hall, away, but not too far; I know I am on Coruscant, and Coruscant is where you will be, managing your fledgling Empire until you find Padmé and Luke.
I sigh, as your presence vanishes from the immediate area. It is so hard for me to sense far beyond where I am, now. You have inundated this place with darkness, and I feel blind and stifled.
Is this what the Darkness inside feels like when you let it loose … a heavy chain that chokes the life out of you?
I wake to find you coming again. You are furious.
My skin tingles.
When the door opens and you enter with graceless rage, you don't ask me any questions.
You choke me. I struggle to breathe against nothing, and reach out for the Force, but it feels so muddled, and I can't fight you off. Ani – Anakin, you're choking me, I can't breathe, ah, the darkness …
You let me go, and you seem to watch me attentively as I gasp.
"What was that for?" I manage to get out, my voice little more than a rasp, but I am truly curious. My life has been constrained to about a meter, in which I do everything. What could I possibly do to enrage you so, Anakin? You can snap this thin thread that connects me to life at any time. We both know that.
You don't answer me, just glare, and I feel you pull at the Darkness like it's a comfort to you.
You stalk out, and I stare after you, confused.
My body is aching and weakening. At this rate, if an opportunity to escape came, I probably would not be up to taking it.
But I have learned to compensate for the darkness I sense in the Force, here. I almost constantly meditate. It is all that brings me solace, something which I think you never understood about me, Anakin. The price of the Force is high, but it always gives much in return.
I hold the Light to me, and like a dim glow, it surrounds me. It binds me. I am it and it is I.
You walk in quite calmly, Anakin. But I know it is a deceptive serenity that I see, a smothering cold rage instead of that which burns.
You smile at me.
I raise my chin, determined to be dignified in this, for I have an ill feeling about it, Anakin.
"I want to know all the secret codes the Jedi use," you say. "I know only Council members are aware of them all, and, well, I know you didn't trust me." You say it with an icy smile.
"I will not tell you anything, Anakin," I reply evenly.
You frown for a moment. And you are oddly mild in this. "Vader. I am Anakin to no one but Padmé."
Yet I cannot help what is in my mind, Anakin. I separated you into distinct creatures, but you don't know that. My Anakin and this other Anakin, who murdered mine. My thoughts that day when I scarred you so were not of duty, not quite, something more akin to vengeance.
Perhaps we are more alike than I realized.
And you do not tell me to call you Lord; perhaps you know I have my limits. Or my pride.
You don't continue the conversation, simply stare at me. You don't seem overly enraged over my refusal; you were expecting it, I suppose.
"What are the codes?" you repeat.
"Are you going to kill me?" I ask. In truth, I am surprised I am still alive. I would have thought you would want to satisfy your rage, after what I did to you.
Your eyes narrow. "Yes, eventually." A pause. "Not soon enough," you say softly.
For which of us, Anakin?
You fold your arms and stare at me. I feel the Darkness gathering around you, clamoring and ready to be used, but your intent is still not clear to me, and I wander in a darkened fog that is smothering me.
Then my bones begin to break.
The first is in my arm, and I groan, grasping for the Light and control. The second is in my leg, and I let loose a gasp at the shattering pain. I sense they are not simple fractures, and … it hurts. It hurts.
"What you did to me," you snarl, "is nothing compared to this."
Remembering the agonizing, stilling pain of Dooku's so-very-correct strikes to my shoulder and leg, I realize that's probably true.
You reach out with your hand, a gesture.
I see lightning began to flick at the corners of the cell, and you smile at my horror. Have you grown powerful enough for this, Anakin?
If I had breath, I would say it's not an abstract sort of pain, this Force lightning. It brings to mind every agony I've ever felt, from Qui-Gon's death and your fall to the physical breaking of my body. It burns and aches and groans deep within, and I feel myself falling
my control shattering
I wish it would stop
will my scream stop it?
it won't stop
You walk away, and I wonder how I will survive.
Anakin, I miss you.
It's difficult to hold my arm up, to keep it from being jarred by the chain on my wrist, but neither can I stand to relieve the pressure, so I try to heal my arm first. That break is not too bad, and, though I am not nor ever was a skilled healer, I am generally adequate.
This is going to be difficult. The bone is split into two pieces. I use my good arm to support it, and struggle to knit the bone together, falling as deep into the Force as I can, becoming it as much as I can. The Force, after all, neither feels pain nor gets broken bones.
A lifeless droid drops a sealed can into the cell, and, as usual, I use the Force to bring it within my reach. It's not much, just something to keep me hydrated and with sufficient nutrients. I stare at it for a moment, realizing I can't let go of my bad arm to open it without undoing the healing I've done.
This is going to be difficult.
When you enter, you do so casually. This is getting to be a part of the routine, I suppose.
You study me, no doubt noting my somewhat-healed arm and my still painfully broken leg. I am not certain if you feel any satisfaction for your work.
You fold your arms, and speak. "My Empire grows strong, Obi-Wan. The people love me as their Emperor, they love me as their Hero Without Fear."
I have no doubt of this. This is you we are talking about, Anakin. Impulsive and dangerous, yes, but also charismatic. You endear people to you, even when fallen, it appears.
"The loss of Palpatine saddened them, of course."
"It will only be a matter of time before I find Padmé."
"And your son," I say evenly, watching.
Ever watching, Anakin, and you see this, narrowing your eyes. "Yes." You smile suddenly. "You see, Obi-Wan? Everything you've ever cared for is undone. The Republic is dead, and the Jedi dying like a weak disease."
"You've lost all you've ever loved," I retort sharply, your own strike hitting its mark.
Your smile vanishes, and a subtle pressure eases up on my throat. "Because you took it from me!" Then you calm, with effort. "I have my daughter. You were not able to take that from me."
"I'm sure Bail was a good father to her," I murmur. For all three months he had her. It had been wise to separate the twins.
Your anger burns, Anakin. I stare into your yellowed eyes, and I feel it across my soul.
"I saved them. I saved her," you tell me, your voice scraped and raw.
Perhaps you did did, Anakin, but at what cost? I felt you stretch your presence to her while Padmé gave premature birth on that ship on Mustafar, as I struggled to help her, feeling your Master near. I felt your Darkness touch her, and Anakin, she did scream.
I feel suddenly grieved for Leia. She's young enough that you would ignore her yet, I think – I hope. The Sith always did prefer others to do their training for them, I muse somewhat bitterly.
"Say something," you demand.
"I hope Yoda was able to heal her," I say simply. Heal her from your dark touch. "You were right about one thing; Padmé is a good woman, so uncommon in politicians." Your defiance then, at meeting the Senator for the first time in ten years … ah, Anakin, I always was one for willing blindness. An old fool.
This takes you aback, but I'm not sure why. "I did heal her," you mutter.
"Darkness does not heal, it …" I struggle for words, but you don't wait.
"The Dark Side is merely the other side of the coin, Obi-Wan. The balance." You smile bitterly, a bitterness to match that which I try to make myself stop feeling. "That's what I'm about, isn't it, my old Master? Balance." You were supposed to be, Anakin. You were supposed to be.
You turn sharply, but then wait a moment.
"I'll have everything I want," you say, and leave.
I wish that were so, Anakin. But you'll never get Padmé or your children walking down this path, because they would have to be as twisted and unrecognizable as you, and what would you have then?
I am so tired. How long can I survive, unable to move and with a food supply meager at best? If you hope to weaken me, Anakin, it is succeeding, but I do not know how far this will go. My arm is healing enough that I have turned attention to my leg, but will you give me this chance to heal?
When you arrive, I don't say anything. There is not much to say, in and of itself. I can only respond to you, it seems.
"Did you really think I was the Chosen One?" you ask.
Does that mean you don't think you are anymore, Anakin? "Sometimes," I say at last, which is the most truthful answer I can give. My opinion varied at times. When you were young, a Padawan, I sometimes wondered if Qui-Gon was right. As you matured, I knew he was.
Looking at you now, I find myself still certain that you were meant to be.
You look tired, Anakin. Your hair is dirty with sweat, and I wonder if you appear in public like this, like you've been practicing with your lightsaber to the point of exhaustion. The Darkness gives power, but does it give strength of will?
"You are weakening, old man."
I smile sadly. "Yes."
You walk over to me, crouch next to me, and I tense, wary. You are more graceful now, Anakin – you move more easily, you are quicker and lighter on your feet. I knew you would be.
You don't jar my broken leg as you get close to me, and I'm not sure if that's kindness or a lack of pettiness.
You place your hand on my throat, and I can't help myself; I feel a flicker of fear. There is no heat of battle to distract me, nor is there any for you, and this feels … oddly intimate.
"I know you can kill me," I say to you, because I still can, and I'm not sure how much longer that will last. "Is that what you want from me, Anakin? An admission? You are more powerful than I, Anakin." I pause, and add, knowing this is somewhat suicidal, "I meant it when I said you were a far greater Jedi than I."
You suddenly seize my throat, choking me, and your anger …
But in a moment, you release me. You grimace, then you almost smile. "I'm not going to kill you yet, Obi-Wan. You still have to live to see your Jedi Order fall, to see the end of everything, the beginning of everything." There is an insane light to your eyes, Anakin, like you can see something that I cannot, something wondrous and frightening at the same time.
You still want something from me, Anakin, but I'm not entirely certain defeat is it.
Perhaps there is something wicked in brotherhood, some desire to hurt when hate takes the place of love.
You pause before leaving, looking at me.
What do you want from me, Anakin?