Title: Too Far Inside
Author: Laura of Maychoria
Summary: Obi-Wan dreams.
Author's Notes: For the "Obi dreams" challenge on the JC forums.
Disclaimer: Yeah, I own Obi . . . in my dreams. –sigh–
Too Far Inside
The world was bathed in red, all shades of it, from the rich red of arterial blood to the pale froth of the kind coughed from injured lungs, a color that would be called pink if it wasn't so obviously red. Obi-Wan screamed in shock, watching the red blade pierce the red chest. The blade was bright, burning, the hot red of coals cooling on a pyre.
He watched himself move forward, knowing that the red ought to be gone, if he was able to move. But the red still persisted, still painted the walls, the floor. All he saw was the red blade, flashing in loops and arcs that crossed the scope of his vision, filling it, and he barely noticed his own blade refusing it entrance to his body as he desperately wished it could have refused entrance to another. His own blade seemed tinged in red, too.
Only the hole was black, the pit in the middle of the floor, death pure and merciless. And Obi-Wan fell, tried to catch himself, but his heart continued falling, falling, falling . . .
He fell too far. Too far to get back. Too far inside himself, into depths that could never be plunged. He would never see light again. Unless it was red.
Obi-Wan opened his eyes, awake in an instant. He blinked, and the world resolved itself into the gentle shadows and outlines of his darkened chamber. For a moment he was confused, confused by the gray, the white, the black, the corner of yellow-white light from the hall. Shouldn't the world be a different color? Wasn't it always?
But there was the silhouette of his twelve-year-old apprentice at the door, and therefore no more time to indulge passing fantasy.
"Yes, Anakin? Is something wrong?"
The boy entered hesitantly, stockinged feet scuffing against the floor as if half-heartedly trying to prevent his progress toward the master's bed. But he pressed on, the stubbornness of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon living still in the next generation. Some things always persisted, Obi-Wan supposed, unsure whether he should be happy or disappointed.
"I sensed something . . . something sad . . ."
Obi-Wan sat up, blinking at his young charge. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said gravely.
Anakin had another trait of Qui-Gon's—this instinctive urge to rescue, to heal, to make everything and everyone safe. He was extraordinarily sensitive to the ripples of the Force, always open to any hint of sorrow or hurt. It was too bad it had disturbed the child's sleep, though. He had to be rested to keep up his training.
Obi-Wan sighed, knowing that the boy wasn't going to be able to rest until the issue had been resolved. "Well, let's see what we can do. Where was it coming from?"
The boy paused by the side of the bed, then hopped up to sit on the edge, his feet dangling, shadowed face turned to look into his master's eyes. "Here. It was coming from here."
"Oh." Sorrow and shame flooded through Obi-Wan, too quickly to be refused, and he grabbed the unworthy emotion and released it in a moment. But not swiftly enough. The assault left him shaken, staring beyond his apprentice to the open doorway.
"You were dreaming . . ."
Obi-Wan drew in a deep breath, and slowly looked back into the young face. He could not deny the truth. "Yes. I was dreaming."
"Do you have that dream a lot?"
Anakin tipped his head to study the man at a different angle. "It hurts you."
"Does it hurt every time?"
Obi-Wan looked away, his throat suddenly too tight for speech. He spent a few moments just breathing. "Dreams pass in time," he said at last, unable to offer anything else. "I'm sorry I woke you, Anakin. You need your sleep. Go back to bed now."
The boy stood slowly, his feet making no sound on the floor. For a moment longer he stood there, looking at Obi-Wan with a gentle penetration that seemed far too old and wise. He was a fey child, this boy from the desert. He saw too much.
Obi-Wan looked back. How much did Anakin see? Did he see how deeply the dream dropped him, how far inside he had to retreat in order to escape it? Did he realize that "sometimes" meant "often"?
He would have to strengthen his walls before he slept. Until now his usual medium shielding had been enough. But Anakin was growing, and his power was becoming more focused and concentrated with every passing day. It would not do to disturb the boy every time this dream returned.
"Dreams pass in time," Obi-Wan repeated gently, willing the conviction of the words to sink into Anakin's spirit and lull him to deep slumber. "Go back to bed now."
But the boy suddenly leaned forward and threw his arms around his master's neck in a tight hug. "I'll go," he murmured, his mouth close to Obi-Wan's ear. "But I don't care if you wake me up again. I really don't."
He released Obi-Wan's neck and stood back, suddenly fidgeting, as if uncertain that he had done the right thing. "Sleep well, Master."
"Sleep well, Padawan."
Anakin left, glancing back when he reached the doorway, then stepping quietly away into the bright hallway. Obi-Wan watched the door, waiting until the light turned off and he felt the boy crawl into bed and pull the covers up.
Then he lay down himself, and stared up at the black ceiling, lit with sporadic red streaks from the night traffic outside.
"Dreams pass in time," he whispered. And only the moonlight heard him.