A/N: A new Star Wars fic! just when all of you guys thought that I had dropped off the map completely, I'm sure. (laughs). Whoo, boy this story was a long time in coming. Which means that it has a story of it's own. I shall be -somewhat- brief.
I heard what was, at the time, the new Nickelback song "Photographs" and fell in love with it, downloaded it, and listened to it on repeat while banging out this story. Then it sat no my computer for a few months while I wrote other things, until wordplay on Livejournal was talking about songs to make vids of. I suggested this song, and mentioned that I had made written a fic based on it. From this, a top-secret project of a ficvid being made was born.
The vid is beautiful. I cried when I first watched it. If I had a link for it at the moment, I would be sending you all there, but if you check out livejournal in the next week or so, in teh "ewanhayden" community, this fic will be posted there and will hopefully contain a link at that time.
But she found a different song than Nickelback to vid to, "Twilight and Shadow" from the ROTK soundtrack. And it fit perfectly and looked beautiful, and my wonderful beta told me "the title Photographs doesn't do so much for the fic you know", so... I changed it.
Well. Kinda. Because when you have a fic sitting on your computer for three months, you tend to associate it with its original title. And I do owe something to the song that inspired it, after all.
Subtitles are love.
hope you enjoy the fic!
(Twilight and Shadow)
Every memory of looking out the back door,
I had the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It's hard to say it, time to say it:
Footfalls sounded along the arched hallway of the Jedi Temple. They echoed loudly in the stillness, reverberating off the marble floor and vaulted ceilings. The noise was oddly flat, as though the years of undisturbed quiet simply devoured sound. Once vibrant and full of life, it was now empty, silent, abandoned.
Luke shivered instinctively, pushing back the hood of his robe and staring up at the ceiling, shrouded in shadow above him. Solemn statues stared down at them from their elaborate plinths, eyes cold and remote as they observed the intruder into their sanctuary. Luke couldn't completely shake the feeling that their blank gaze was following him as he picked his way through the rubble and debris that marred the grandiose hall. One of the solemn figures had been toppled to the floor at some point in the past, shattering against the hard marble. Luke bent down to brush his fingers across the pale stone cheek, wondering who this Jedi had been, where she had come from, why she had been immortalized in stone for future generations.
The serene features held no answer for him. Luke stood once more, feeling a faint chill shiver down his spine. The very air here felt heavy, thick with dust and memories. Dead-feeling, as though the entire Temple were no more than a mausoleum.
But the Force…the Force was very much alive in this building, giving the abandoned old building a sense of hushed, reverent awe. If Luke closed his eyes, it was like seeing into a world of light. Echoes of the past surrounded him here; if he concentrated, he could see shades of the Jedi Order layered one over another, years of history in one place. Noble, robed figures talking in sun drenched alcoves, or walking solemnly in pairs down the wide hall.
The hairs on Luke's neck prickled as he reluctantly opened his eyes once more, seeing scorch-marks on the walls and floor that were clean and shining in his mind's eye. This place was full of the past. The people of Coruscant might have forgotten the Jedi, but the Force still remembered them. The place still remembered them. Standing among the echoes of his past, under the watchful eyes of Masters long gone, Luke suddenly felt very small and uncertain of his purpose. The Force was still alive here, whispering against his heart and mind.
It was what Luke had been hoping for, but also what he had feared. There were more memories held here than just peace and serenity.
Luke tugged his hood back up, shadowing his face as though that would drown out the faint whispered echo of stormtroopers and screams, and continued down the long hallway.
---------Obi-Wan walked swiftly down the corridor, ignoring everyone and everything around him… including the little boy who stumbled in his shadow, jogging every other step in an effort to keep up. Even though the sun was shining through the arched windows, muted by a high layer of clouds, Obi-Wan kept his hood pulled up firmly. He wanted to keep his eyes shadowed, so that no one would see how red they were from the effort of containing his tears.
A muted thud from behind him, with a quiet gasp, and Obi-Wan turned impatiently. Anakin scrambled to his feet immediately, biting his lower lip. The boy was trembling; Obi-Wan could see his hands quiver, fisted against his sides as they were.
His own hands clenched in sympathy; Obi-Wan knew how intimidating the Temple could seem when trying to impress a stern Master. Hadn't he spent his entire childhood doing just that? At least he had had friends to cheer him up. Obi-Wan sighed, taking a step back towards Anakin to extend his hand to the kid.
'Promise me you'll train the boy… he is…he is the Chosen One.'
Qui-Gon's dying words suddenly echoed in his ears once more, and Obi-Wan stiffened, keeping his hand tightly twined in his robe. Twelve years of his life devoted to his Master, the man who was mentor, partner, and father to him, and the only words Qui-Gon could spare at the end of his life were about this child. And Obi-Wan, like the obedient little Padawan he had always been, had agreed without hesitation. He hadn't wanted Qui-Gon to see his jealousy, his anger… his fear.
Master, I'm not ready for this. I can't do this without your guidance….
Obi-Wan shoved that thought to the back of his mind ruthlessly. He wasn't a Padawan any more. He was a Knight, with a responsibility to fulfil. He had to train Anakin, but he didn't have to be a friend to the boy.
"Keep up, Padawan," Obi-Wan said sharply, feeling a momentary pang of remorse as Anakin blinked sharply as though he had been struck. Pushing it aside, Obi-Wan spun on his heel and continued striding along the corridor.
Anakin swept down the long marble hall, a faint smile tracing his lips as he easily slipped past the groups of conversing Masters and wide-eyed Padawans. The sun poured through the floor-to-ceiling windows, pooling on the floors in long puddles of light. Anakin let his eyes fall half-closed every time he crossed one of the pools of brilliant sunlight, drinking in the warmth with the contentment of a cat. The golden glow made the warm marble gleam soothingly, and made Anakin want to run laughing down the hall, yelling nonsense for the pure joy of being alive.
His mission report to the Council was done, and all he had do for the next week was relax on Coruscant, away from the war, away from death and injury and blood. He had been fighting in the Clone Wars for two years now, on one miserable battlefield after another.
Somehow, all of those memories slipped away in the tranquility of the Jedi Temple. Coruscant was still safe, a haven from the war that was consuming the galaxy. Things like armies and generals and defeat seemed so surreal and implausible in the summer sunlight. As if the entire war was nothing more than a bad dream….
Anakin paused next to one of the windows, pressing his hand against the cool glass. He smiled, catching a glimpse of his ghostly reflection in the glass transparently overlaid on the vision of the towering cityscape beyond. In the distance he could see the towering building of 500 Republica, a stark metal contrast against the powder blue sky.
Turning his head, Anakin focused once more on his own ghostly image, almost unfamiliar to him now. The absence of his braid still caught his attention every time he saw his reflection, though Obi-Wan would tease that Anakin was just getting vain.
Anakin's smile grew wider, as he turned his face away from the view and the sunlight, unerringly seeking out the even brighter glow that filled his senses. Obi-Wan was back at the Temple as well.
Anakin did break into a run then, laughing as he dodged through the other Jedi: those who looked offended and those who smiled secretly at each other.
The Senatorial Apartment building that Anakin had been regarding slowly slipped into shadow as a cloud passed over the sun, slowly swallowing the light as it moved towards the Jedi Temple. The abrupt shade cast an almost sombre pall over the brilliant glow that had filled the hall moments before.
Only for an instant, before sunlight was filling the rooms and painting the walls with gold.
"Is it on yet, Mom?" the young boy demanded, dashing into the room and throwing himself down in front of the Holoviewer. His face was flushed; he had dashed all the way home so as to not miss the broadcast.
"No dear, it's just about to start," his mother chuckled quietly to herself from the kitchen. She had never expected her boy to take such an interest in the HoloNet News of all things. Boys his age were supposed to want to watch cartoons and movies, to want to play space pirate and bounty hunters.
"Mom! Look! They're on! They're on!" an excited squeak called her attention back to the viewer.
"The Jedi Team of Skywalker-Kenobi managed to secure the planet, beating back the Separatist factions against overwhelming odds…"
The boy's eyes were huge as he scooted closer to the screen, wanting to take in every detail of the broadcast, of his two heroes. The arrogant stance of Skywalker, his lazy smile and easy grace that contrasted against the quieter, more intense Kenobi, formal and reserved.
He knew everything about them, obsessively searched the HoloNet and vidcasts for every scrap of information of his two heroes. He knew that Obi-Wan Kenobi, although renowned for negotiating, was really the only Jedi ever to have killed a Sith Lord. He knew that Anakin Skywalker had been found on Tatooine and had helped win the Battle of Naboo (he was envious of that, knowing that if he had been alive back then and the Jedi had come to Corellia instead, that he would have helped the Jedi, and then Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker would have liked him. They would have taken him back to the Temple to be a Jedi as well, and they could have gone on missions together, which would have been wizard.)
He had the posters, the trading cards, the action figures. He knew all their battles by heart, every triumph of the Jedi Team. His favourite daydream was to one day come to the rescue of Team Skywalker-Kenobi – not that the best team in the galaxy would need help ever – and then he would be their partner and best friend as well.
Reluctantly tearing his eyes away from the viewer, the boy called over his shoulder to his mom. "Someday, I'm gonna be a pilot, and I'm gonna help them fight," he vowed with all the solemnity of a ten year old's dreams.
His mother smiled back quietly, not trusting herself to speak. Every boy needed a hero, and a Jedi was better than a bounty hunter or a space pirate. But she worried nonetheless. She worried about the war, and how long it would last; she worried that her boy would someday be caught up in it.
She worried about the rumours she had heard about the Jedi. How they could turn to the Dark, just like the Separatist Leader, Dooku. She didn't want her son to have his dreams brought crashing down too early in his life.
"Now Han Solo, if you want to watch your Jedi show tonight, you need to get your homework done," she reminded him teasingly, leaning in to press a kiss against his unruly brown hair.
"I know, I know….." he responded automatically, rising to dash down the hallway to his room. He was flying in his Delta-6, distracting buzz droids so that Anakin and Obi-Wan could make it to Dooku's ship. The space-battle quickly turned into lightsabre combat as he reached his room. Valiantly, Han battled and defeated a million enemy droids, rescuing his captive Jedi friends, before throwing himself down onto his bed.
Sunlight poured in through his window as Han gazed in admiration at his wall, covered with posters of the Jedi Team, his eyes eagerly drinking in the camaraderie of his two heroes. He wanted to grow up to be just like them, brave and loyal and true.
It was late at night, as dark and silent as Coruscant ever was. A muted, artificial glow through the windows of the Temple was the only light across the force that silently approached.
Vader smirked thinly under the cover of his hood. It was fitting that he should bring death to the Temple in the cover of darkness. The Jedi Order would now feel the power of the Dark Side. And come the light of day, the entire planet – no, the entire decadent Republic – would see what happened to corrupt fools who dared to defy his Master.
Vader's footfalls echoed loudly in his ears as he strode down the empty hallway, abandoned at this time of night. They were magnified a thousand fold by the platoon of troopers that followed behind him in perfect rhythm. A cavalcade of death for the outdated Jedi.
Vader chuckled quietly to himself, tugging his hood up farther, and shading his face as he illuminated his sabre. The blue cut through the darkness, brilliant and harsh, throwing distorted shadows over the walls.
Leia hadn't wanted to come with him. Luke couldn't really blame her, in the end. His sister had never been able to forgive Vader – Anakin; his name was Anakin – for all the atrocities that their father had committed in the name of the Empire. In the name of the Emperor – Luke always made that distinction to himself. His father had been enthralled by the Emperor, and had been obliged to act on his evil Master's will. It was a division that his sister had never been able to comprehend. But unlike Luke, Leia had only ever seen the evil side of their father. She hadn't seen the good that remained in their father, the good that had managed to triumph at the end of Anakin's life.
'My father is dead, Luke. And he died when Alderaan was destroyed by that monster.'
Luke pressed one hand against the transparisteel of the elevator wall, staring blankly over the imposing city of Coruscant. He had to shield his eyes, squinting, as the elevator pierced the low cloud-layer. Golden light flooded the small room, dancing over the gleaming buildings and painting the top of the clouds with light. It looked like the desert back on Tatooine, endlessly rippling. But it was softer here, a shimmering veneer of light broken by spires that dwarfed even the Jedi Temple.
'My father is dead…'
Yes, Vader was dead, but he had been killed by Anakin Skywalker, not by the Emperor's Sith lightning. Anakin Skywalker had died in his son's arms, at peace with the Force. It was the memory of that man that had dragged Luke here inexorably. He wanted to know more about Anakin; the Jedi, the husband… the father What had his father been like?
There had been no answers at the abandoned Senatorial Apartments, where Luke had searched for memories of his mother. Most of the rooms were still rich and ornate; remnants of the Imperial Moffs who had taken up residence there after the Senate had been dissolved.
Only one room had been completely destroyed. Scattered pieces of glass and shreds of cloth littered the floor, covered by an undisturbed layer of dust. Bits and pieces of a shattered life, and a balcony that faced directly towards the imposing ziggurat of the Jedi Temple.
There was no echo of the woman who had inhabited the place that Luke could detect, but he was still certain the ruined room had belonged to his mother. But any hopes he had of finding any trace of his father there were soon crushed. There was no remnant of Anakin Skywalker; only of Vader's destruction. All the ruined items in the room were feminine, and the Force only carried mind-numbing grief and anger.
But the Temple…Luke was sure that the place where his father had grown up must carry some memento, some sign. Unlike the Senatorial Apartments, it had been sealed after the Jedi Purge, to stand as a reminder.
As a warning.
Artoo had found records of quarters assigned to Kenobi and Skywalker in the main computer of the Jedi Temple at Luke's request. Luke hoped that the room was still intact.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes as the elevator doors hissed shut, hating that his hand trembled slightly as he pressed the button for their floor. The closer he got to his quarters, quarters he had shared with Qui-Gon, the worse his shivering became; the harder it was to hold back his grief.
The Temple staff would have already been there, of course. Efficient as always, they would have changed the small nameplate to read Kenobi-Skywalker in place of Jinn-Kenobi. They would have moved his meagre possessions, such as they were, into the larger room. Qui-Gon's room. And Anakin would now live in what had been his room for thirteen years.
The kid was staring wide-eyed out the side of the elevator, taking in Coruscant in all its decadent grandeur. The rows of skycars that whizzed past in ascending levels seemed to captivate the boy; his excitement bled out into the Force, irritating in its persistence. But as they rose higher, it was the skyscrapers that Anakin gaped at. The monstrous towers of Coruscant that pierced the sky, and stretched down into the depths of the lower-levels, too far to see their ending.
Endings. The word resonated in Obi-Wan's mind painfully.
The chime sounded, breaking him from his reverie as the doors hissed open.
"Come along, Padawan."
The elevator ride had never seemed to take so long before. Anakin frowned impatiently, blind to the beautiful vista laid out behind him. His eyes were fixed on the metallic door in front of him, as though glowering long enough would force the doors to open at his floor. His mind was busy running through and discarding a myriad of ways to make the Sith-cursed conveyance run faster.
Of course, Obi-Wan would kill him if he started messing with the elevators again.
Anakin's face split into a grin as the door chimed softly and slid open.
She gently teased the blanket out from underneath the curled up form of her sleeping son, careful not to wake him as she tucked him in. Han whimpered quietly in protest, curling up tighter as she pressed a kiss against his rumpled hair. He was far away, dreaming of Delta space fighters and lightsabres and far flung adventures.
The children fell easily before his 'sabre, too young to have mastered more than the most rudimentary of forms. The blue light of the moving blade threw writhing shadows on the wall, and reflected off the gleam of tears on Vader's face.
Luke's hand trembled slightly as he traced the graven letters on the nameplate. It was the only identifying mark on a room that was identical to all others in the hallway. But no other room with its forgotten names inscribed next to the door could make his heart pound with dread and anticipation.
Kenobi – Skywalker.
It was funny; Luke had known for years now that Old Ben and his father had been Jedi during the Clone Wars era. But somehow, he had never been able to reconcile their images with the Knights of legend. The crazy old man living alone in the Dune Sea and the scarred man behind Vader's black mask never seemed to fit with his preconception of a Jedi.
Not that he had any idea what made a Jedi; Luke had to admit to himself. But seeing their names here, in this austere Temple, made that fact more real than it had ever seemed on the Millennium Falcon, or on the Death Star where he had watched his first lightsabre battle, and later fought one of his own.
Kenobi – Skywalker. They had been legends once upon a time. They had been heroes.
For some reason, that made Luke's heart ache as he palmed open the door. For what had been, and for what would now never come to pass.
He hadn't slept well. The bed was too big for him after years of sleeping in the Padawan counterpart. He had called down to the Temple cafeteria for dinner upon arriving back at his apartments before leaving his new Padawan to fend for himself and retreating to Qui-Gon's room. His room now, of course.
It still felt strange to think of it as such. His room. It was as though the home that he had known for most of his life had changed completely in his absence… while in reality, staying exactly the same.
Obi-Wan sighed, burying back under the blankets and squeezing his eyes tightly shut. He should get up. It was getting late, and Anakin had nine years worth of instruction to catch up on. But he couldn't force himself to move. Because rising from this bed and going to face the day would be facing everything that had changed in his life.
And Obi-Wan didn't know if he was strong enough to accept those changes yet.
He didn't realize he had fallen back to sleep until a tentative knock sounded on his door. Obi-Wan pushed his face deeper into the pillow, half-hoping that a wormhole would open up and take him into another universe, far away from here.
Soft footsteps padded across the carpeted floor and Obi-Wan swallowed his growl of frustration. Sith, the kid had been in his room for ten seconds and already he wanted to just be left in peace. Not that that luxury was ever going to be granted him again.
"Master Obi-Wan, sir?"
Reluctantly and with a resigned sigh, Obi-Wan sat up, and stared bemusedly at the tray that Anakin held tremulously in his hand.
"I… my mom used to make me breakfast in bed when I wasn't feeling well, Master, sir… so… so I thought…."
You would never know that the kid was destined to bring balance to the Force to look at him, Obi-Wan mused. Anakin looked caught between furious embarrassment and sheer terror, hesitating with his offering clutched in shaking hands.
Obi-Wan mustered a smile, sliding over in unspoken invitation. Anakin's face instantly split into a grin and he clambered onto the bad, careful not to spill the caf he had made. Obi-Wan bit his lower lip, looking at the dubious blackened piece of something that might have once passed for toast, and its suspiciously runny egg counterpart.
"Er… thank you, Padawan."
Anakin beamed at him, hugging his knees against his scrawny chest. "Try it!"
Of course, the kid didn't leave until Obi-Wan had choked down every bite. But somehow, the huge smile and affectionate hug that followed that trial made it all worthwhile.
"NO! They're lying!"
He didn't listen, pushing away his mother's comforting embrace and running to his room. The door he slammed shut with all his might, before flinging himself down onto his bed, sobbing as though his heart was broken.
In a way, it was.
"They're lying," he whispered against his pillow, hugging it tightly against himself. Skywalker and Kenobi were the Jedi team. They couldn't be dead. They couldn't be. And the new Emperor was wrong. The Jedi couldn't be bad. They were heroes. Heroes couldn't die. It wasn't supposed to be like that.
They had to be wrong. He would see them both again. And he would help them, and then he would be a hero too.
The apartment was bare, and Luke remembered with a rush of disappointment that the Jedi of the Old Republic didn't have possessions or attachments. The furniture had a fine layer of dust covering it; the filterbots would have stopped working a long time ago, of course. Brushing his fingers over the back of a chair, Luke sighed to himself.
Stupid, really. He should have known that there wouldn't be anything here. But Luke still couldn't help the crushing sense of loss that hit him, even though nothing but his naïve hopes had been taken away. He new no less about Anakin than he did before, but it felt like losing his father all over again, to come this far for no purpose.
A glimmer on the carpet caught Luke's eye as he started to turn away, and he moved instinctively to investigate. The glittering fragment was a shard of glass. Touching it, Luke suddenly felt a ripple in the Force, an echo of fury laid thinly over intense grief.
Brushing his hand over the top of the dresser below which the fragment lay, Luke found similar splinters of the glass. He hissed slightly as one nicked his finger; the pain sensors in his mechanical hand were completely true to life, though there was no drop of crimson blood welling up in the miniscule wound.
Ignoring the small cut, Luke tugged the dresser forward, coughing at the dust that was stirred up. Something clunked to the floor behind the piece of furniture. Calling it into his hand, Luke saw that it was a holograph, obscured by the spider-webbed cracks of glass. Heedless of the answering shocks that ran through the mechanical nervous system of his hand, Luke dug his fingers into the holed glass, pulling away the rest of the shattered pane.
And slowly sank to the floor with a soft cry.
Obi-Wan looked up with a smile as Anakin sauntered into the apartment, setting aside the datapad he had been studying, and rising to greet him.
"Well, Master Skywalker, I trust that your meeting with the Council went well?" Obi-Wan's voice was ostensibly serious, but Anakin could see the mischievous glimmer in his former Master's eyes. "Now that you're a Knight, you realize you have to stop baiting Master Windu."
Anakin resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the teasing way Obi-Wan insisted on emphasising his new title. He secretly loved it, getting such a thrill from the acknowledgement. Master Skywalker. He was a full Knight now, his Master's equal in everything.
"I'll behave myself if he does, Master," he responded flippantly, sliding easily past Obi-Wan to claim his vacated chair, a territory constantly in hot dispute in their shared apartment.
However, Obi-Wan merely smirked at him and sauntered past the chair without a word of protest to sprawl out with deliberate lascivious intent on the couch. Anakin suddenly decided that it looked much more comfortable over there. Who needed a stupid chair anyways? And it wasn't because Obi-Wan was (sliding out of his tunics and oh Sith, had the temperature regulator become faulty or was it suddenly a lot warmer in the room?) over there, either. Anakin merely preferred the couch sometimes. That was all.
Obi-Wan's throaty chuckle as Anakin pinned him down on the cushions proved that he didn't mind sharing this space at all.
Obi-Wan was gorgeous, Anakin decided. The river of yellow light that filled their quarters highlighted the copper in Obi-Wan's hair and beard, turning his eyes to laughing silver and defining the muscles on his chest. Perfection. Too good to sit back and appreciate, certainly; Anakin had always been much more of a hands on kind of person….
He stood on the shores of Mustafar, numb and exhausted. He wondered why, even now, he couldn't cry. Inside his heart was screaming. Screaming like the broken man who clawed at the banks below him.
"I loved you!" the words were raw in his throat, clawing at him. Loved. No, he was still in love. He would never stop being in love, though his heart had already shattered.
Anakin – but no, Anakin was dead, leaving only Vader. Vader stretched up to him, holding out one hand. Screaming his hate.
Obi-Wan turned and walked away.
There was something about the old coot's eyes that bothered him. It niggled at Han, making him retreat to the cockpit with Chewie. Away from the crazy old man and the kid he was foolin' with all that Jedi and the Force hocus-pocus.
But he still couldn't shake the strange feeling of deja-vu. Like he should know who the hell this Ben Kenobi was. It was something about those eyes….
And come to think of it; the kid looked kinda familiar as well.
Han shook himself roughly, scoffing at his own thoughts. He was getting paranoid in his old age; that was it. The Force. Hah. He had never seen any proof of it before. And he knew that it couldn't save a person's life. He had learned that as a kid. It was all a load of stupid superstitious mumbo-jumbo. The Force wasn't real, and heroes? They were just suckers waitin' for their turned to get killed.
He still couldn't shake the feeling that he had seen both of them before. Like a signal comin' in over an encrypted frequency; the words were there, but Han sure as hell couldn't make any sense of it.
Probably wasn't important, anyhow.
Luke stared at the picture in his hands for a long time, the two figures almost unrecognizable and yet so achingly familiar. It was their eyes; their eyes hadn't changed over the years.
The men were complete strangers to him though. The copper-haired man who stood, arms folded into his sleeves with perfect Jedi poise. It was a pose that he had seen Old Ben adopt more than once, but this man was so much younger. Back in the days when he had been Obi-Wan Kenobi.
He looked happier, Luke noted numbly. There were lines next to his eyes, and streaks of grey at his temples, but the aura of sadness that Ben had always carried with him was absent.
And the taller man, with his arm thrown so casually over Obi-Wan's shoulder…. Dressed all in black, but with long, tousled blonde curls and a confident grin. Anakin Skywalker. His father. The source of the future sadness in Ben Kenobi.
Luke held the picture closer, until his nose almost brushed the surface, seeking any details that could have been captured to tell their story. He saw the faintest quirk of a smile, almost hidden by Obi-Wan's beard, the way his head tilted ever-so-slightly towards his younger partner. The possessive grip his father had on Obi-Wan's robes, making the companionable gesture into almost a one-armed hug.
Turning the picture over, he saw writing on the back, faded with age. Squinting, Luke peered at the tight lettering.
'I've always warned you not to listen to your own press, Anakin, but this time you deserved every bit of praise they gave you. A memento of today's victory. I still think this should have been a solo-shot, however. You are, after all, their poster boy: The Chosen One, the Hero with No Fear… and my closest friend.'
Standing slowly, Luke walked towards the broad window, staring with unseeing eyes over the city of Coruscant. The holograph dangled loosely in his fingers, its shiny surface catching winks of sunlight that filtered in through the windows. Tilting his face up to catch the sun's rays, Luke closed his eyes and opened his mind to the Force.
Faces swirled, blending one over another in transparent layers of history. Holographs, faded and blurred with age, running into each other.
A gangly boy with a braid behind one ear, who frowned at a data pad. No more than fourteen, but with Old Ben's eyes.
A young boy, stretching up on tiptoes to reach the cupboards in the kitchen, while smoke drifted alarmingly from a pan on the stove.
A young Knight who stood by the window, the rain streaked on the transparisteel echoing the tear-tracks on his cheeks as he spoke a name Luke didn't recognize.
A teenager, yelling something irately at his Master, gesturing furiously with his black-gloved hand.
A kiss. Tentative and soft at first, but building in intensity until he was pushed roughly away. The tall Jedi Knight crossing the room slowly to the window, whispering soft apologies. His Master closing his eyes as though scared, before turning back into that welcoming embrace.
A laughing argument in the kitchen, one trying to keep the other from snatching tidbits of food, slapping at straying hands. Until those hands pushed at tight robes, caressed revealed skin, and pinned the older Jedi back against the counter.
A man who stumbled blindly across the room, collapsing in front of the window and sobbing. Hands fisted in the carpet, body shaking violently with the force of his tears. He was still young; his hair was only just starting to be sprinkled with grey. But his eyes, when he turned them up towards the dying light, were already ancient.
A tall figure, shrouded completely in black, who stared at a holograph for a long time before hurling it against the wall and storming away.
Luke curled his arms around himself, sinking to his knees as he was overwhelmed with the images and emotions of the past in this place. He hadn't known. He had blithely assumed that he knew most of what had transpired between his father and Obi-Wan, but he hadn't had a clue. He wanted to scream at Ben for never telling him, for keeping this from him. It hurt far worse than when he had discovered his father was Darth Vader, somehow. It was worse knowing that Anakin Skywalker had betrayed his wife, Luke's mother. All this time Luke had been defending his father, citing the Dark Side of the Force as controlling Vader's actions. To know that he had been betraying his wife while still a Jedi, and with Obi-Wan, no less.
Or maybe it was the other way around? Luke didn't know when his father had met their mother. Maybe he had loved Obi-Wan first? Who had betrayed whom? Had Luke's mother ever even suspected…? Had Obi-Wan known his former apprentice was married?
It was a circle of secrets and lies and infidelity all tangled together and spiralling out of control, with Anakin Skywalker at its centre. Luke suddenly understood a lot better the depth of sadness and regret that he had felt surrounding his father. But Luke knew he would never know the entire truth. Somehow, he knew it was better if some things remained buried in the past.
Luke couldn't hold onto his anger for long, even if he had wanted to. There was nothing he could do to alter the past now; and Yoda had taught him to accept with grace those things beyond his control. Besides, every memory here with his father and Ben together was tinged with such happiness: bright and pure and singing even though the layers of pain the intervening years had brought. It was love. And no matter what else had happened in their lives, that love had still been strong enough to reunite the two of them in the Force. How could something that felt so pure be wrong?
Luke couldn't find it in himself to begrudge them their happiness, such as it was.
"Kid. Hey, kid. Luke!"
Luke rose to his feet, startled, his hand instantly going to his lightsabre. "Han?"
The older man spread his hands warily in a gesture of peace, a mocking grin teasing at his features. "You go somewhere, kid?" his joking smile faltered when Luke quickly ducked his head and looked away, brushing what looked suspiciously like tears from his cheeks. "You all right Luke? I… I didn't want to interrupt or anything; your sister said that you'd be in here somewhere, and she was starting to get worried about you."
Luke smiled faintly, glancing back down at the holograph trapped in his fingers. "I wanted to know more about my father; that's all."
Han shifted his weight from one foot to the other, leaning against the back of the couch in an effort at nonchalance. "Did you find what you wanted to know?"
"More than I expected, actually…" Luke laughed quietly, biting his lower lip. "I still don't understand. They loved each other Han. How could Vader… how could my father do that?" his blue eyes were earnest as he stared at Han, his expression tight, brow furrowed. "How could he just turn away from everything that he loved? And how could Ben just give up hope on him like that?"
"Well…" Han cleared his throat. Love wasn't exactly a topic that he was an expert on. Aside from a few dalliances here and there in the seedier Corellian districts, he hadn't ever had any real experience of it before. There wasn't time to fall in love when you were a smuggler for the Hutts, after all. It would only be more leverage against you. Then this Skywalker kid had come into his life and turned everything upside down, making everything complicated. Love could screw you up royally if you weren't careful.
But telling that to Luke wouldn't be helpful in this situation, so Han awkwardly put his arm around the Jedi Knight, a rough half-embrace. "Well… love makes people do crazy things sometimes, kid…."
Luke chuckled at the cliché and the persisting nickname, tilting his head back to smile at the flustered Han. The fading sunlight should have softened the ex-smuggler's features, but somehow just highlighted how uncomfortable he was with the conversation. "Crazy things, huh?"
Han shifted slightly, wrapping his other arm around Luke as well and pulling him closer so that they were standing back to chest, facing the Coruscanti sunset. Luke fingered the holograph absently as he relaxed into Han's uneasy embrace. He wasn't sure if he had learned the answers he had hoped for, but it was enough. For the time being, it would be enough.
"You were right about me. Tell your sister…you were right."
Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for,
It's hard to say it, time to say it:
Hope that you liked it! Feedback is pure caffeine and hugs and love! Oh! And I neglected to mention that this fic is also for Jen, because I kinda wrote it for her birthday (which, um... was in January... but it's the thought that counts, right Jen? Right