This story was originally going to be a scene in my much longer work "The Souls of Demons." No matter how I worked, though, I can't seem to make it fit...so I decided to use its framework for a Obi-Wan challenge on another board I write on.
I don't usually write vignettes, but I hope this entertains!
Summary: While training with Luke aboard the Millenium Falcon, Obi-Wan remembers a lesson with Anakin that reminds him of what he is still fighting for.
Keeping the High Ground
"Ben…I've been meaning to ask you something."
Luke fiddled with the battered lightsaber in his hands as Ben looked at him from across the Falcon's small common cabin. "From your tone of voice, I would have to say your question has nothing to do with the meditations I'm trying to teach you."
Luke laughed a little, dropping his eyes. "No, not really."
"Well, then I suppose you should ask, Luke," Ben told him. "I can sense your mind is troubled, and meditation is rarely aided by the amount of squirming you were doing. What is it you want to ask?"
Now that he had permission, Luke found it difficult to speak. It took a moment before he found the words.
"Ben…please don't be offended," Luke began with hesitancy, "but I have to know. You told me that Darth Vader was once a student of yours."
Ben sighed and nodded, his face very grave. "Yes, he was. He was my padawan learner – my apprentice – from the time he was a very small boy."
"It's hard to think of Vader as a boy," Luke said, trying to picture it, and he laughed despite himself. Ben looked at him soberly, and Luke quieted. "I'm sorry. It's just…well, I just get this absurd picture in my head of Vader just as he is, only much shorter and with a schoolsack slung over his shoulder."
"Ah," Ben said, "I see."
"I'm sorry, really I am, I wasn't trying to make light of it," Luke said, hoping he hadn't insulted the old Jedi. "I mean, I realize that he once was human, but it's impossible for me to picture."
"I understand," Ben said. "Knowing what Vader has become is not the same as knowing what Vader is now. I know his past, so I see him very differently from you, I imagine."
"I'm sure you do," Luke said, looking at the lightsaber Ben had given him and absently playing with it. Your father wanted you to have this, when you were old enough, he remembered Ben saying.
His father would have been able to give it to Luke himself if Darth Vader hadn't killed him. "Ben…What was he like? Darth Vader…before he turned to the Dark side, I mean."
Ben was quiet for a moment. Luke sensed his hesitancy. "Please, Ben. I want to know."
"He was very brave," Ben's voice was very soft when he finally spoke, "and very loyal. He was a good man."
It was even harder for him to picture that description of Vader than the earlier one. "Did he fight in the Clone Wars with you and my father?"
"Oh, yes." Ben smiled sadly. "Vader was a very great Jedi. Our partnership earned us many commendations and medals – those pieces of paper and scraps of metal that are so very important to the politicians. I might even still have a few of them lying around back at home – worthless things cluttering up my desk, but I still have them."
Luke glanced at him in mild surprise. "But aren't those good things? I mean, if you fought bravely and did so much good…wouldn't you want some recognition?"
"Luke, remember that pride is another way to the Dark side," Ben warned. "We cannot begin to think of ourselves as above others merely because the Force touches us differently than them. We must have humility."
Luke nodded, rolling the lightsaber back and forth in his palms. "It's a fine line to walk, isn't it? Confidence, but no pride, justice, but no vengeance, resolve, but no anger." He sighed. "It must have been a very lonely life."
"It could be, at times," Ben agreed. "Then again, in a way, it wasn't. Remember, Luke, a Jedi is aware of the Force at all times, and every living being is bound together in its essence. In a way, a Jedi is never alone."
A flash of insight illuminated Luke's mind, and he looked at the old Jedi intently. "It hurt you very much, didn't it? When Vader turned to the Dark side."
Ben's eyes were sad as he nodded. "Yes, it hurt. More than I hope you will ever know, Luke."
"I'm sorry," Luke said, realizing how difficult this topic really was for the first time.
The Jedi shook his head a little and smiled. "Do not apologize for something you did not do, Luke."
"Not that," Luke said quickly. "I shouldn't have asked you about Vader. I didn't know…I mean, I didn't want to remind you of the pain it must have caused you."
"Even if you know now, you didn't know it would do so when you asked," Ben said after a long moment had passed, "so again, no apology is necessary. Come, Luke. I think we've meditated enough. Shall we try out that lightsaber you've been playing with for half the day?"
"Now?" Luke sat up straighter, his hand tightening on his father's Jedi weapon.
"There is no time like the present, my boy," Ben said, waving Luke to his feet. "I brought a target droid along, just in case we had the chance to do some training. Give me a moment and I'll retrieve it."
"Sure!" Luke couldn't keep the excitement out of his voice as he ignited the lightsaber, the weapon's hum quiet in the small space but somehow filling the room with just a soft whisper of danger. He swung it back and forth several times, listening to the rise and fall of that hum as it cut the air in front of him.
Ben paused in the doorway, watching him, a small smile on his face.
"Be careful, Luke," he said. "Your father's lightsaber has waited a long time to come to you. I wouldn't want you or it to be damaged so early on in your training."
"Don't worry, Ben," Luke flashed him a wide grin. "I'll be careful."
"Don't worry, Master," Anakin's eyes were bright with excitement as he swung his first true lightsaber in a wide arc in front of him. "I'll be careful."
"Yes, well, I certainly hope so," Obi-Wan jumped back a bit as the boy spun, holding his hands out in a defensive gesture. "You're not exactly inspiring me with confidence right now. That is no training saber you're flinging about there." "I know, Master, don't worry!" Anakin's grin was infectious, and Obi-Wan turned a little so that the boy couldn't see the smile it caused on his own lips.
"Yes, well, I certainly hope so," Obi-Wan jumped back a bit as the boy spun, holding his hands out in a defensive gesture. "You're not exactly inspiring me with confidence right now. That is no training saber you're flinging about there."
"I know, Master, don't worry!" Anakin's grin was infectious, and Obi-Wan turned a little so that the boy couldn't see the smile it caused on his own lips.
No, not a boy any more, Obi-Wan thought as he watched his padawan try and curb his excitement enough to practice the forms he thought he knew so well, but not yet a man, either.
"Anakin, remember that a true lightsaber has more substance to it than a training saber…it will move differently in your hand, only a small amount, but that slight difference could turn the tide of battle."
"It doesn't feel that different." Anakin spun, deflecting three shots from a target droid and landing in one-legged crouch, the other leg stretched out beside him and the fingertips of his left hand just touching the ground. The droid shot at him, and Anakin rolled, avoiding the shot, bounding to his feet a few paces away. Farther up the slope, the droid shot again but the red-white flash was easily reflected off the bright green light of Anakin's lightsaber spinning to meet it. The target droid's metallic body curled in on itself, preparing to retreat, but it hadn't even completed its transformation into defensive mode when the droid's body was cut in two, the halves splitting away from each other while it protested with one final, dying whine.
"See?" Anakin said, coming back to his full height – almost as tall as Obi-Wan already, though his child-like grin proclaimed his youth far better than any padawan braid could. "No worries, Master."
"Yes, well, I wouldn't be so sure if I were you," Obi-Wan said, looking at fractured remains of the target droid. "If I remember correctly, aren't you supposed to return that droid to the weapons master?"
"Oh," Anakin said, his face falling a little as he retracted his lightsaber, the green glow disappearing with a familiar snap. "Um…yeah. I am."
"In one piece, I would think," Obi-Wan said dryly.
Anakin stared at the droid for a moment, his eyes serious. He looked up at Obi-Wan. "I don't suppose you-"
"Oh, no, Anakin," Obi-Wan shook his head and put his hands up in protest. "This is your responsibility."
"I know," Anakin sighed, his finger playing absently with his padawan braid. It was a habit that Obi-Wan had been trying to break him of for years. "I just was in the moment, Master…I went on instinct."
"Yes, well, if you had been facing a real opponent, things could have gone very differently." Obi-Wan reached out and took Anakin's hand, pulling it away from his hair gently. "Can you tell me what you did wrong?"
"I won, Master!" Anakin looked at him, confused. "What do you mean, what I did wrong?"
"Just because you win doesn't mean you didn't make any mistakes," Obi-Wan reminded him. He crossed his arms and looked at Anakin firmly. "Now, what did you do wrong?"
Anakin looked at the droid, then at his lightsaber, and finally at his surroundings. He laughed a little as he realized his mistake, and his eyes were wry went they met Obi-Wan's.
"The high ground," he said. "I let the droid have the high ground."
"Exactly. Very good, Anakin." Obi-Wan's pride at his padawan's ability couldn't let him be any easier on him during training, though Obi-Wan knew that Anakin's lightsaber skills had begun to rival his own even when he was still limited to the training sabers. "You must never relinquish the high ground voluntarily. Like the distinction between the training sabers and a true lightsaber, the difference is small but can alter the outcome of battle."
"But I still won," Anakin shrugged him off, pulling a remote out of the pockets of his robe and calling another target droid to them. He flashed a grin at Obi-Wan. "So I might have made an 'official mistake,' but it still didn't change the outcome this time."
"We can never be sure that next time will be the same as this time, Anakin," Obi-Wan reminded him.
"Yes, Master," Anakin said obediently, but he was already shifting focus to the fresh target droid that had begun to flash blaster-bolts at him.
Obi-Wan sighed, shaking his head a little. Master Yoda was right, the boy was reckless…but as he watched his padawan spin and parry the blaster-bolts he couldn't fault his technique. So he had given up the high ground. His padawan had been right about one thing – Anakin had still won.
"Anakin, the slope?" Obi-Wan called out as Anakin dropped into a roll and began to head downhill again. His padawan leapt up, a blaster bolt stinging him on the back of his arm, making a sharp hiss of pain escape his lips.
"Yes, Master," he said with a bit of irritation, leaping up and flipping over the droid. "Keeping the high ground."
"Very good." Obi-Wan could have ignored it, true…but he knew that no matter how much raw talent Anakin might have, he didn't need to have his skills crippled by his own overconfidence. It would have been lax of Obi-Wan to overlook it. "You might make a Jedi yet."
"Only if I survive you, Master," Anakin said laughingly.
"And the weapons master. I'm not taking responsibility for that droid, you know," Obi-Wan reminded him pointedly. "Anakin?"
"I know, I know," Anakin said, a blaster bolt singing his boot as he jumped straight up, allowing the droid to roll underneath him and down the hill. "The high ground."
Obi-Wan nodded approvingly. "Very good."
"Very good, Luke," Ben said, watching Luke Skywalker as he performed the lightsaber maneuvers slowly, carefully following the forms the old Jedi had shown him. "Now, let's try it with the target droid, shall we?"
It had surprised him a little, how easy it had been to give Luke his father's lightsaber. Somehow Ben had thought it would be more difficult. Even if the memory would always come to him with a terrible grief attached to it, it was still the last thing he had to remember Anakin by. The fact that it would always remind him of his failure didn't change that.
"Ben?" Luke asked, dropping into stance. He held the lightsaber with uncertainty but he had an instinctual flair that had allowed him to learn the forms so quickly it was almost as if he were remembering them instead of learning them. The boy had talent. "I'm ready."
"Yes, I believe you are," Ben said, and smiled a little. This was why he had been able to relinquish his last piece of Anakin's past so easily – because he wasn't doing that at all. Anakin Skywalker lived on in his son's spirit far more than he could have ever possibly done through some inanimate object. He was in every move Luke made, every gesture, every word the boy spoke...and Ben suddenly realized he had not failed his fallen brother completely. He could still save Anakin by helping to save his son.
I promise you, my brother, I will not fail him as I failed you. I will not let him fall into Darkness. I will not lose this battle.
"Let's begin, Luke," Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi said.
I will keep the high ground.
So, this is my first vignette…did people like it?
I hope so...sometimes it seems like everything I write tries ot be an epic...so I hope my shorter stuff has some merit to it...
Anyways, I tried my darndest to keep everyone in character. Anakin, btw, is intended to be 14ish in this, though I've not read any of the EU about that time, so I'm going by movie canon only.
Thanks for reading!