blue-buggy: But it was the last one. ;) Thank you. :D
jedi71: You might be right … Obi-Wan's in a hard position, isn't he? And little Luke? He's somewhere safe. ;) Thank you.
Jedi Delphi: Wow, thank you. :D The psychological aspects of this story are the most important – the entire thing hinges on that. So hopefully that and this last part make sense.
arliddian: I'm blushing - thank you. I think love is very important to the SW story, to the relationships Anakin has and where his life leads him. Hopefully this last part works with that. :)
iron-eyes24: Of course. ;) And hey! There's only this part left, so you do find a lot of those things out, quite soon. :p Some things I leave alone, though – because I felt they weren't necessary to the main theme of the story. Crossing fingers … Thank you.
Sonseeahray: Thank you, and here we go. ;)
Lanfear1: Thank you, and here you are. ;)
aelfa: The entire thing is odd, I'm not afraid to admit that. ;) Hopefully this last part will make sense to you, because everything comes to head … Well, actually I hope it's believable. :p Thank you!
Kenobisaqt: Hehe, thank you!
Audreidi: Struggle makes you stronger. We never learn anything when we're happy. ;) I hope the progression of that relationship (between Obi-Wan and Anakin) makes sense to you, how the story ends. And can I say, I love that you said 'focii' instead of 'focuses'? ;) Thank you!
Aelan Greenleaf: Well, I suppose it will be ready and waiting for you, then, all nice'n'complete. ;) Thank you. :D
IntelEwok: He did! And yep. You'll see whether that decision was a wise one. ;)
KnightAragorn: I'm glad you like how I'm doing Anakin. He was – tricky to do. Not quite as much as Obi-Wan, but close. It's hard for me to understand his mindset because what he does is so incomprehensible. And yeah, Padmé is definitely Anakin's weak spot, and she knows it. ;) Thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying, and I hope you like the ending. :D (And I'm glad I put that link in my sig. ;) )
Poet317: Thank you!
All right, here's the last part. I hope you all enjoy. Feedback is, as always, really adored and appreciated.
I am lightly dozing when you arrive.
You stare down at me, and I blink at you, struggling to wake fully. Your expression is fierce, but your gaze strangely flat.
"I killed the stormtrooper," you say matter-of-factly. "I'm sure you're aware that I keep everyone away from here. Can't mindtrick a droid, after all." You pause, smiling. "So tell me, Obi-Wan, was it fear that kept you from escaping?"
"I don't know what you mean," I deny, staring into your eyes without flinching.
Your eyes narrow. "So you deny your weakness?" The idea seems to amuse you.
"I do nothing of the sort," I say evenly. It wasn't weakness. What it was, entirely … you always followed your instinct, your heart, and that was something that the teacher learned from the student.
"You stayed," you state darkly, and there is a hint of confusion in your eyes.
I almost speak, then stop myself, the only words I can think of not expressing my thoughts. So I nod.
You step over to me. "Are you suicidal, Obi-Wan? I can't really see that of you. I always thought you wanted to die fighting, not in a cell that you couldn't leave because you were too afraid. Too afraid of me."
"You think I fear what you can do to me?" I ask sharply. "What is there left, Anakin? Tell me, Anakin! What is there left?" My voice rises, becomes unsteady. All I can fight for is what is left of you.
You rock back on your heels, momentarily startled by my emotion. Your face twists into a sneer, but I can tell it's half-hearted. "You're just an old fool."
"Perhaps I always was," I say slowly.
You meet my gaze, and there is skepticism in your expression. "Why, Obi-Wan?"
Is that your refrain, Anakin? Do those that love you always confuse you so? You seem not to understand Padmé's refusal of you, though I don't know how complete that truly is. The rightness of your decisions must be all so clear in your mind, for it to be so clouded to us.
I shake my head silently and close my eyes, taking a deep breath to quell the emotion rising within.
A scuffle and you're here, next to me, and staring into my eyes as I finally gaze at you. "Tell me. I demand you tell me." But you don't threaten.
"Because I wish love were enough," I say softly. I wish you loved, Anakin, not in this desperate manner that consumes you utterly. All love is consuming, I suppose, but yours destroys more than it protects.
You stand up as if rejected, a kind of hopeless pain in your eyes. "I love Padmé," and the words almost seem to come from nowhere, but I know what you're thinking of, that's my Anakin I see in your blue eyes, tainted with yellow.
"Then love her more than you love anything else. Make it for her, Anakin. A selfless love." As I hope mine is for you, for all that I want you back as you were, to the boy I knew, to the man I respected.
You shake your head, and your lips curl in derision. "Don't lecture me."
You walk away, as you never did as my student – as you never could, then.
I sigh and place my head in my hands, this gentle curling in on myself a comfort.
You enter silently and stare at me suspiciously. I rise from my position lying on the cell floor, and look at you.
You say nothing to me.
"Anakin?" I ask at last. More silence, and there is a growing emotion on your face that I can't identify, some complexity that I am not used to seeing. I wonder if you will hurt me again; my leg is almost healed, but there are other ways to cause me pain that I remember distinctly.
You walk out.
I wake to someone coming, and it isn't you, or a wayward stormtrooper.
It is a mind I recognize, a soothing warm presence. I rise to my feet, awkwardly on my sore – but healed – leg. The door opens, and it is Padmé standing there. She looks so different from when I last saw her. Thinner now, the curls of her hair tangled and in the way. She holds a bundle in her arms, and I step forward, but am stopped by my chains.
"Padmé?" I whisper.
"Obi-Wan," she returns, voice calm, but her breathing uneven. "There isn't much time. We have to go."
This is an escape from you, Anakin. "I can't," I blurt. "He'll know, he'll sense it. You have to go, Padmé, run as far as you can."
She shakes her head, and her jaw clenches as her eyes fill with tears. "I need help, Obi-Wan. I can't do this alone. I don't know how to escape off a planet unseen – I'm not a Jedi, I'm not a soldier." She looks away briefly, and when she meets my gaze, there is a command there to obey.
I hesitate. I can't hesitate. "Do you know how to get these chains off?"
"I think – I think there's a control," she mutters, and almost moves off to go find it, distracted and fear in her eyes, but instead she pauses. She steps forward, holds Leia out to me, and I take her, this … perfect baby. Leia looks up at me and I look down at her, seeing brown eyes, but somehow your spirit.
I look up, but Padmé is gone.
I stare down at Leia, thinking of you. How did Padmé escape? How could that have escaped your notice? Do you already sense what is occurring? Your senses must be attuned to this place, for you to know when someone even wanders near. I am nervous and hopeful, but I can't feel those things, this is dangerous, I wonder if Padmé realizes how dangerous. How close to the brink of breaking or shattering or … rebuilding you are, beyond what is recognizable to Padmé or I.
What should I do, Anakin? Once I stayed; now I hold a child in my arms, your child, but we who love you can't trust you for that alone.
My chains abruptly go slack, and Padmé returns a few moments later, and there is no more hesitation in her step, some inner balance reached.
I reach out for the Force, for the Light and feel it reach back for me, and I wrap it around the three of us. There is no invisibility in using the Light Side, but it will muddle your senses, if you reach out with Darkness.
Padmé doesn't reach for Leia, her hands trembling, and I carefully let the chains slip off my wrists, then nod to Padmé. She nods back, as if to assure herself of her own confidence, then she sets off, me following. We move slowly – I am weak, my muscles unused, and Padmé walks with a strange uncertainty. I don't know how to get out of this place, but I assume that she does.
"How did you escape?" I ask.
Padmé shakes her head, "My – my handmaidens, they were working with some Senators." Bail, I automatically think. "They were careful, never coming when Anakin was around …"
"Luke is safe?" I ask, desperate in my own way.
"Yes," she sighs, and smiles, glancing back at me.
We are running from you, Anakin. Would you realize, will you realize, that I don't love you any less for that?
I almost ask her if she still loves you, but I see the pain in her eyes as she glances around for marks she has memorized in these dark halls, and I know I have my answer. She begins to run, her gait as unsure as mine, but I sense that even still my body is more accustomed to this than hers.
Then I sense you.
You are alone. Deliberately, I sense. But we are still in this prison, inside these blank walls and blank doors. I reach out for Padmé and she stops running. She's breathing hard, clearly weak.
"He's coming," I say. "Are you all right?"
She shakes her head in dismissal, but there is a helplessness in her eyes. "We can't get out?"
"No." I wish. I wish.
She nods. "Luke is safe," she says, looking at me. Her skin is pale, she looks so fragile, but behind that I sense her renewing her strength, her will to live on. This is not the end, not for her. "Safe," she murmurs, and steps close to me, touching Leia's face. Leia is awake, but not upset, and I feel her clumsily reaching out in the Force.
It's startling, Anakin, how much she feels like you when you were young.
Now you are furious. Your rage burns in the Force, and I instinctively reach out for Padmé and Leia, trying to shield them, be a break in the wave of your fury.
I turn, and you're standing there.
I see betrayal in your eyes, rage ready to be obeyed in the fact you hold your lightsaber in your hand. I wonder if you feel betrayed by both of us, or if only Padmé's escape hurts you, surprises you.
You don't speak for a long moment. Then you turn to Padmé. "How could you do this to me, Padmé?" you whisper.
"Because I want our children to be safe," Padmé says, her voice shaking, but outrage in her eyes. "Because I wanted our children to be safe from you. Look at what you are, Anakin, look!"
Your lightsaber snaps on. "Give me my daughter," you demand, turning to me, deliberately turning away from Padmé.
I exhale slowly, unsure of what to do. I turn to Padmé, and hold Leia out to her.
"No," Padmé says, looking at me, then glaring at Anakin. "If you kill Obi-Wan, you will have killed family. Will you kill my daughter? My son?"
She says what I do not dare.
But she is your wife, Anakin, and you stare at her, and you look so absolutely helpless, because what you demand is only worth something when freely given. "I love you," you say. "I love our children. How could I not love our children?"
"How did you stop loving freedom, Anakin? The Jedi? Will your love for us pass away one day, in some decision of our imperfection?" Padmé whispers. She holds out her hand, and you stare it as if it unfathomable.
You step back, confusion running rampant – I can sense it, Anakin, your control is shattered. Your control was always shattered by Padmé, and now I see that this is not a bad thing. The influence of those around us, Anakin, those that love us and those that we love … How often did I strive to be a greater Jedi because of my love for my Master? Or yours for me, as the father you always wanted?
"How long do you expect her to stay, Anakin?" I ask. "To love when she is not certain of your love for her, when everything that she knew about you is gone or twisted?"
"Shut up," you snarl. "You don't know anything." Your grip on your lightsaber shifts, as it did when you were my Padawan and I would warn you about showing your intent - where you are going to swing, how you intend to attack …
"I love you," Padmé says, her voice breaking. "But you've broken my heart. What am I to do, Anakin? I don't know you anymore."
"You don't understand," you insist, briefly glaring at me, then returning your gaze to Padmé. "You don't understand," you plead. "I have power now. Power to save you, power to do what is right."
"Power to consume you, to blind you," I interrupt, reckless now.
"Why can't you see?" you shout, the rage in your voice equally matched with pain. "I have tried –"
"I don't believe you, I don't believe you," Padmé says, her voice low. Your fury builds at her words, at her further attack of you. You reach out as you did on Mustafar, and Padmé's hands go to her throat.
"Anakin, stop!" I yell. "Please, Anakin."
Padmé gasps for air.
"Anakin, you can't love and hurt what you love," I say desperately, and I'm tightening my hold on Leia, hoping I can protect this small child. Can your own child enrage you? I never saw glee on your face when you killed the initiates, but Anakin …
You let Padmé go. She breathes deeply, massaging her neck, but there is something steady in her eyes now. "How can I love you?" she mutters, and a tear slips down her cheek.
"Anakin, if all this is true, if what you say is true, then you haven't lost the reason you were fighting for," I say. "If all that remains, reach out, Anakin. Reach out to her and your child with your love for them, if you love them."
"I don't have to –" you snarl.
"Prove it to her, Anakin," I insist, looking at Padmé, who looks back at me with desperate, uncertain hope in her eyes. Speak, the emotions in her eyes almost seem to say. Say what needs to be said.
You look at Padmé.
All this weighs on how much you love her; whether, indeed, you still love her at all, or if only desperate need remains.
I feel the Force shift as you touch it, as it comes to you as easily as it always has. You touch Padmé's mind, and though I know she can sense nothing of this beauty in silence, that which is the Force, I feel emotions rising in her. Love, hope, uncertainty, fear.
You shut your lightsaber off, but I don't move. I don't dare move. Leia is still and silent in my arms, her eyes wide and her fear oddly quiet.
You step forward, to Padmé. She seems unafraid in this, and I admire that. She reaches out to you, her hand open, and you take it. But the Force does not tell me what I want to hear, what I hope to sense. Still, you teeter on this precarious moment, and I wonder, was that all it was, Anakin? Was your fall determined by the slightest movement, the barest fraction of uncertainty?
Can you fall back to us, Anakin?
Your mind alights on Leia's. You squeeze Padmé's hand, and look at Leia.
Your eyes fill with tears, tears of regret. Helpless love flails from your mind, and I gasp aloud at the force of it. Padmé stares at the both of us, breathing hard in near panic, in near hope.
Selfless love, Anakin.
Your surrender crashes into the Force, and you collapse. Padmé falls with you, holding onto you, and you cry into her arms, as she doesn't hesitate to stroke your face and kiss you, and love you.
You reached for the Light in your love, Anakin, but you never thought it would reach back. You grasp it weakly and clumsily, seeking comfort from it, and Padmé tries to soothe you to calmness. This is more than what you wanted, Anakin, it is what you needed.
I kneel beside you, and you reach out. I take your hand, and you squeeze it so tightly it hurts, but I don't care. I hold Leia in one arm and you in the other.
It is a precarious hold you have on the Light, that I sense, but there is something solid for you to hold onto: Padmé and Leia. Your son, soon, I suspect. And I think, there is emotion now, later there must be reason, because reason guides when emotion is out of control, and you must learn that as you didn't – couldn't? – as a Jedi, to hold to reason as well as love, as well as Padmé.
But no. Meaningless, I think. My thoughts are fractured, out of control, these are merely snippets of plans and dreams. You are crying and holding onto me, and I can't help but weep. You are the man that I respect, the boy I raised, and I love you. I love you.
I hope now. I hope.
I care about this person, regardless of what it means to me. I will throw away everything that I have, everything that I've grown to love -primarily the Emperor- and throw away my life to save this person. And I'm going to do it because he has faith in me; he loves me despite all the horrible things I've done. I broke his mother's heart, but he still cares about me and I can't let that die. – George Lucas on Anakin/Vader.