Note: This is a sequel to "Horse with No Name" and "Fragile," and will probably make more sense if you read those first.
Disclaimer: Obi-Wan's umbrella is mine. :) Everything else belongs to George
I Can See Clearly Now
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright
Anakin always loved the rain.
It is raining now. Here. You are one with the Force, and yet it is raining. You know, somehow, that it must be his fault.
Vader is dead now, you are certain of that. You felt his death, felt the vast shift in the Force, and moments later, the darkness was gone forever. You have a suspicion that you ought to be happy about this, but you cannot quite manage to feel it.
You try to tell yourself that you are pleased. After all, Anakin's murderer is dead, and your padawan has been avenged. But somehow, you cannot quite manage to forget Luke's anguished question, "Ben, why didn't you tell me?" or the calm, accepting way he called the monster Father.
And you cannot escape the fact that, though Anakin has been avenged, he will never be here beside you. There is nothing of him left any more.
You are slowly being drenched, the droplets falling in fat, lazy splashes atop a hooded cloak that does you little good. You could leave this open place, go back to the others—but you do not want to face them just yet. You are uncertain which would prove worse: the terrible pain you know you will find in Shmi's eyes, or the detached joy that must light Master Yoda's face, now the Sith are destroyed.
You do not know how long you sit in the rain, numb to the refreshing coolness of the sky's tears, before you become aware that the drops no longer reach you, and a shadow has descended above your head.
You glance up with vague interest, and then your eyes move to your right hand, and you realize that you are holding an umbrella. It takes you a moment to wonder how it got there.
It is a surprisingly great relief to be out of the rain. You try not to think about why.
Behind you, and a bit to the right, you hear the polite muffled cough of someone who wishes to draw attention to themselves, and for the first time you realize that the umbrella is in your hand, protecting you from the rain, because someone gave it to you. You almost smile, and turn to thank your benefactor.
And the words die on your lips. Because he cannot be here.
He inclines his head as though acknowledging your thought, then gestures to the umbrella in your hand. "I know how you hate getting wet," he says, and there is the barest hint of humor in his voice.
He does not look quite the way you remember him, and you find that odd. After all, he is an apparition of your mind, and you have had this dream before. He ought to look the way you remember him. Instead, there is something ineffable about him. He is older than you remember, but younger, too, and there is a quiet wisdom tinged with grief in his eyes that you have seen only once before. You wish you could remember where.
"Vader is dead," you tell the man who is not there, and there is a certain numb finality to your voice.
The apparition before you—he cannot be real because if he is real then everything you have ever believed was a lie—just grins. "Yes, I am," he says.
He looks like Anakin. You could almost hate him for the way he so easily equates Vader with your padawan. But like Luke, he has never shared your certain points of view.
"Vader is dead," you tell him slowly, "and Anakin ceased to exist a long time ago. You are nothing but a dream."
The man who is not there says nothing in reply, but simply holds out his arms to the rain. You are reminded sharply, almost painfully, of Luke—Luke laughing under an open sky full of tears, foolishly believing that his father could be saved.
You do not know whether you are more angry with Anakin for turning, or with Luke for being wrong.
You clutch the umbrella more tightly in your hand, clinging to it as though it were your life line, the only thing keeping you sane. And perhaps it is. It is the only thing between you and the rain.
The man who is not there laughs suddenly, spinning childlike under the rain, his face filled with a radiant wonder. His laughter sounds so much like Luke's that for a moment you wonder if you have not mistaken the son for the father.
He stops spinning abruptly and turns to you, voice gentle but insistent as he says, "You think the Force is weeping for me, don't you?" And then, before you can react to save yourself, he comes forward and puts his hand—his warm, flesh hand!—on your shoulder.
And then you are weeping with the sky and laughing as the rain falls, because it's true, and everything you ever believed was a lie—he's real, and he's here, and Luke was right.
"It's crying because it's happy," Anakin says, and you finally understand what he has always meant by that.
Laughing, you fold up your umbrella and toss it aside. You will not need it again.
And as the rain falls all around you, drenching you hair and clothing and disguising your tears, you realize that for the first time in your life, you can see clearly.