Shadows of the Future
By: Stormqueen

Timeframe: Starts out at the end of RotS, then shifts to about the middle of TPM
Genre: Big ole fat AU, with lots of humor, angst, and family bonding stuff- I feel like it's a mix of everything.
Characters: Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, nine year old Anakin, and a touch of Mace, Yoda, and Padme.
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me; it's all property of the Great Bearded One. I'm just borrowing the characters for a short stint; I swear to put them back when I'm done.

Notes: Well, welcome to my epic. I started this thing over a year ago after I saw RotS and felt like my heart had been ripped out, which automatically makes me want to search for/ write fanfiction. I started to explore reasons why Anakin turned in the first place, and kept coming up with the same conclusion, which will be examined in this fic. It deals with lots of "What ifs?" and starts with the "What if Anakin had succeeded during the duel on Mustafar?" and then leads into the "What if Obi-Wan, instead of dying, found himself sucked back in time over ten years?" Hope you all enjoy it; I tried to put everything I had into this fic, and I'm extremely proud of the results. :)

A very big thanks to Nienna, Wyn, and Alethia, who all helped me beta this monster in some way, shape, or form. I know it took a long time, considering the length, but it was worth every minute. So thanks you guys; you're the best! (hugs)

Now, without further ado, the story. Please read and review!

Time: 13 years after the Naboo Crisis
Place: Mustafar


Obi-Wan pondered the question silently, air rushing up around him and the wind roaring in his ears as he stared up at the receding catwalk. Ana- no, Vader's face sneered down at him and the Sith's laughter rang out, sending chills down Obi-Wan's spine. It was sad, he decided absently. Anakin had been such a charismatic young man, and to see him reduced to something so vile, so twisted, was a true crime.

Why did you do this?

A crime against what though, Obi-Wan really didn't know. His mind was behaving oddly, which was why, he decided, he was moving so slowly. Gravity on Mustafar was no different from what would be considered normal, as the planet was the same relative size and mass as most populated worlds. Surely his mind was playing tricks on him, or he had to be defying a natural law. While the wind in his ears was awfully loud, Vader didn't seem to be getting any further away. What was happening to him?

Why did you betray us?

Obi-Wan decided that he was dying. Everything was slowing down because his brain had decided to draw out his last moments, to savor the few seconds he had still to live. Surely that was a rational thing for the brain to want to do; surely he was still being rational?

Why did you kill everyone?

Obi-Wan frowned slightly; why was he falling in the first place? Was he even truly falling? There was a catwalk above him that he dimly remembered standing on and he knew there was a river of molten lava somewhere down below him. But what had happened? Had he been pushed? Had Vader pushed him?

Why didn't you spare anyone, even innocent children?

Obi-Wan thought for a moment. Yes, he decided, Vader had pushed him, as they'd been dueling. It had been quite foolish of them, to do so near lava, completely exposed to the toxins it released and unprotected from the heat. Yet they'd been dueling just the same, taking out their anguish and frustrations in the only way they truly knew how. Neither of the two really talked to each other, after all, when it came to dealing with their emotions.

Why do you hate us so?

Someone was screaming.

What did we do to deserve such hate?

Just screaming and screaming, never to be silent and give him the peace he so desperately craved.

I want to know.

Obi-Wan started when he realized it was him; he was screaming. His mind tried shake himself out of whatever strange state he'd locked himself in, telling him to do something, to fight back, to grab the Force and save himself from certain death in the lava…

I want to know why.

His mind was succeeding; he was returning to reality. The screaming grew louder, the wind howled as it tore at his tunics and scorched his skin. Vader's laughter echoed off the volcanic rock, his yellow eyes piercing the dark clouds that billowed between them, and time sped up. Obi-Wan's throat was raw, his eyes burned, and his hand was out-stretched, reaching desperately for the catwalk, to the person who hated him with such sickening fervor…

I'm going to die, but before I do, answer this one question.

Obi-Wan breathed in, his lungs protesting when noxious fumes filled them, the air scalding sensitive tissue. He shut his eyes then, though Vader's bitter face rose before him just the same, the yellow eyes taunting, accusing, hating. Where had he gone wrong? When had Anakin become this monster, and why hadn't he been paying attention? Would he have been able to stop it?

It's a simple request.

Not that it really mattered, part of him added, because he was going to be dead soon anyway. He had failed; it was time to let everything go.

Just answer this one question, and I'll never bother you again.

He had failed in nearly every way possible, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Why did you do it?

Part of him rose indignantly at that; hadn't he done what his Master asked and made Anakin into the best Jedi Knight in the galaxy?

What made you do it?

No, his mind countered, he'd failed in that.

What made you hate us so?

Because Anakin had fallen.

What have we ever done but love you?

He'd meant to be the best possible Master to the boy, to help him curb his anger, to help him follow the Code, but Obi-Wan had failed there too.

Is that why you hate us?

Because Anakin had fallen.

Because we don't show our love?

Quite spectacularly in fact, a little part of him added, and now he was in the process of falling to his death. It was rather ironic, actually– a master falling to his doom because of a fallen apprentice. He would have laughed if he'd been able.

Because we aren't as blatant as you are?

At least he wouldn't suffer when he finally hit. He still had the Force, after all. Obi-Wan stretched out his mind, pushing aside his exhaustion, and called upon as much of it as he could possibly handle.

Because we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves for you to examine?

Let it take his regret; let it take his pain. Let it erase everything so he could at least die in peace, so he could leave the galaxy to its fate and finally rest. Part of him felt he should care, but honestly, why should he even bother? Anakin had fallen. He had failed. He was nothing; he could do nothing. He couldn't change anything.

Because we never said anything?

After all, what had happened was the past, and the past was immutable.

Why couldn't you see how much we cared?

He wanted to die, he realized. He wanted it to be over. He didn't want to have to live knowing that the young man he'd loved like a son, like a brother, had sold his very soul to darkness. Anakin had become a twisted monster, and Obi-Wan couldn't begin to fathom the reason why.

I thought it was obvious; I thought you knew.

The galaxy had been turned on its head and no one cared. No one had even tried to stop the genocide of the Jedi, standing on the sidelines as they were butchered, and Obi-Wan just wanted it all to end. No more chaos, no more Clone Wars, no more ambiguous sides and betrayals. Just him, the Force, and utter peace.

You were my family; I loved you.

He found himself smiling when the Force wrapped around him like one giant security blanket, its arms cradling him in their warmth.

You don't care; you don't care if I love you.

In a way, it reminded him of Qui-Gon. There was a kindness, a grounded feeling he'd always associated with his late master that suddenly encircled him, gently touching his mind and soothing away any lingering anxiety.

I poured my soul out to you, but it wasn't enough.

It was then he knew.

Answer this: why wasn't love enough for you?

He knew he was ready to die.

Why, Anakin?

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