A random one-shot. Unrelated to my current story (Soul's Poison), and just for fun. I don't own the song 'Those You've Known' from the musical Spring Awakening (nor do I own the musical itself) nor Star Wars or anything related to it.
Anakin opened his eyes. He had no idea why he had woken, but knew something was telling him to get up, to leave the small room where he was staying in the Theed Palace. Not fully awake yet, and still not knowing why, Anakin palmed open his door and stepped into the silent corridor beyond. It was almost completely dark, the only light coming from small globelights inset in the floor, and though the windows the outside world was an inky black, with no traces as of yet of dawn. Anakin wondered, fleetingly, what time it was. What had woken him?
He looked either way down the deserted corridor, searching for an answer. Had he heard something deep in his dreams, perhaps, or was sleep merely evading him due to the incidents over the past few days? Anakin hadn't even been sure if he could fall asleep tonight, not such a short time after Qui-Gon's cremation. But, surprisingly, he had, almost as soon as his head had hit the pillow.
His heart twisted painfully and more tears threatened to fall as he though of wise, gentle Qui-Gon. Anakin hadn't known what to think when he had been told Qui-Gon had been killed – people died in battle, he knew, but not Jedi, surely. They seemed invincible…Anakin had cried, in the arms of one of the handmaidens (but he couldn't remember which one – Padmé had been taking care of official business but had come to see him later). He felt so alone now – Qui-Gon had been the one he knew, the one who had really watched out for him. Padme was Queen and so couldn't neglect her duty for him, and Obi-Wan was…well, Anakin didn't know. The younger Jedi had treated him with politeness, but it was always distant.
At the cremation they had stood together, and there the Jedi had told Anakin that he would be trained, and he, Obi-Wan himself, would do it. Anakin had felt relief, though not elation, settle over him, but he could tell that Obi-Wan's heart had not been in his words. Anakin guessed it had been Qui-Gon's death – after all, Qui-Gon had told him Obi-Wan had been his apprentice for almost thirteen years. Anakin had tried to put it in the context of himself – his mother dying was the closest he could think of.
Anakin saw one of the doors, a little way down the corridor, was slightly open. A silver of pale light that came from it lay across the otherwise dark corridor. He crept towards it, trying to remember whose room it was. Who else had he seen come up this way when he was being taken to his quarters? A few of the Jedi, ones he had no clue about, and a handmaiden, and…Ric Ole, he thought. Who else?
Obi-Wan was sleeping in this part of the palace, and suddenly Anakin knew it was his door that was open. He paused, mid-creep, unsure of whether he should peek in. After all, Obi-Wan was now his Master…the last thing he wanted to do was annoy him. But something made him continue, some instinct, and as he was about to look in, he heard a soft curse and watched through the crack of the door as Obi-Wan buried his head in his hands.
Obi-Wan stood on the balcony of his room in the still night. The peace of it all, of Theed at rest, was both refreshing and sickening. The empty glass in his hand clinked softly as he placed it on the stone barrier. Nothing felt right anymore. Nothing did.
Turning away from the view of the city below, Obi-Wan threw himself on to the couch in the centre of the small apartment. His mind wouldn't still, his heart wouldn't stop hurting, he couldn't stop feeling sick. Softly uttering a curse – it would have made Qui-Gon glare, probably, if he had been still around – Obi-Wan put his head in his hands, wondering what he should do. Sleep evaded him like nothing else, replaced by grief and a deep sense of longing. He had tried not to think about it, and knew that if he did he would weep again.
Obi-Wan could sense someone at the doorway. Lifting his head, he was it was the boy. No, not 'the boy', but Anakin, his new apprentice. Anakin was standing just outside the room, looking in through the partially open door. For a moment, Obi-Wan did nothing but stare blankly at him.
"I thought…I guessed…that I could drink until I fell asleep." He said softly, motioning vaguely to a bottle on the table. Nothing incredibly strong, but alcohol did numb some of the pain. "It's not that easy. After only one glass, I couldn't bring myself to drink any more, to forget. It just…didn't do what I wanted it to."
Anakin, realising that Obi-Wan was actually speaking to him, edged around the door into his new Master's room. He closed the door softly behind him, watching Obi-Wan as the Jedi stared at the wall. Anakin could see that Obi-Wan had been crying – right now his eyes were dry, but the signs were there. Anakin stood a little way from the door, unsure of what to do.
Obi-Wan sighed. "He knew, he always knew, that I would have died for him. I almost did, once, when I was twelve…we were trapped, I was wearing a deactivated electro-collar – I was going to re-activate it to blow a door we were trapped behind. It would have killed me, but Qui-Gon would have escaped…I wasn't even his Padawan yet, but I would have done it."
Anakin was taken aback by this revelation. He started to move, slowly, towards the couch, remembering something his mother had once said to him. "Sometimes, Ani, people just need someone to listen."
Obi-Wan made no indication he had noticed Anakin sitting down next to him. He was still staring at the same place on the wall, eyes unseeing. "And now…it should have been me. I wasn't fast enough. I should have been there…I failed him." Closing his eyes, Obi-Wan began to weep, unchecked tears streaming down his face.
Anakin hesitated before placing a small hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. Obi-Wan didn't realise what it was for a moment, before reaching up and covering Anakin's hand with his own. Anakin stayed silent, waiting for Obi-Wan to speak again.
"I failed him…I should have been faster. It was only one gate! One gate between me and him, him and death…and I could do nothing but watch. Watch him as he fought…as he died."
Anakin didn't know exactly what Obi-Wan was talking about – what gates? – but kept silent all the same, knowing Obi-Wan would probably appreciate it. The silence stretched, and Anakin stayed where he was, one hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, the Jedi's hand on his.
"It's burned into my mind." Obi-Wan whispered, though to Anakin or to himself Anakin wasn't sure. "I've seen death before, true, but this will haunt me until my own…the look on his face…surprise mixed with intense pain."
His shoulders fell, his hand slipped off Anakin's, and he bowed his head, as a fresh wave of weeping came upon him. Anakin shifted closer to him, gently putting his arms around Obi-Wan's neck and resting his head against the Jedi's shoulder. Obi-Wan felt the comforting pressure and put an arm instinctively around Anakin.
"He should be alive, not me. He should be the one to train you."
"Come on, Obi-Wan," Anakin murmured huskily through his own tears – he couldn't remember when he had started crying again. "It's okay." His words sounded hollow even to him, but he couldn't think of what else to say. It seemed to help, because it made Obi-Wan lift his head and look at the nine-year-old beside him. He reached up with his free hand and wiped away some of Anakin's tears.
"Standing at the foot of the pyre, with the torch – my duty as his apprentice – he looked like he was sleeping. Even as I moved to light the pyre part of me was wishing he would wake, draw himself back to life, wake from a healing trance or something…the other part of me knew it was futile to wish for such things, knew the truth, but I still did."
He sighed, dropping his gaze. "How are you coping?" The question sounded slightly strained, almost forced, to Anakin, but he decided to answer anyway.
"I'm okay, I guess. I mean, I really miss him…" he trailed off, unsure of what to say next. "He wouldn't have wanted you to be like this."
Obi-Wan looked up at him, a strange look in his eye that Anakin couldn't place. "Yes, you're right. There is no death, there is the Force. Part of the Jedi Code", he added, for Anakin looked slightly confused, "And I know what it means, understand it…but when it comes to putting it into practice it's so hard."
He ran a hand through his short hair; still in its Padawan style. "It's like…I don't know. I want to scream, wake up from this nightmare – break something, for Force's sake! I feel so angry – yet when I think that is what I feel, I know it's wrong. I'm not angry, I'm…numb. I want to find something, some way, to express it…some extreme of emotion, but every time I want to, at the same time, I can't bring myself to. I want to leave this all behind me, but I can't. He was my best friend, my mentor, the closest thing I had to a father. And now, he's gone. One with the Force. And I suppose that means he will always be with me."
He looked down at Anakin, who still had his arms around Obi-Wan's neck. "When you learn to contact the Force, he'll be with you, too. So, in the Jedi way, no one is ever gone. But it takes a while to get over the grief all the same. And the guilt."
Obi-Wan looked close to tears again as he lapsed into silence. Anakin tightened his embrace. "It wasn't your fault."
"It was." Obi-Wan paused, calming the wave of guilt that had risen up inside him. "But I'll come to terms with that. I don't when, but I will."
He leant back, relaxing slightly into the couch. Anakin came with him, tucking his legs up underneath him and leaning on Obi-Wan. Anakin could hear the steady beat of Obi-Wan's heart, and he suddenly felt calmed, peaceful. Qui-Gon's death was still an ache, a steady one, and it would take him a long time to get over it, but something about this situation, about being here and talking to Obi-Wan, felt right.
Obi-Wan glanced down at the top of Anakin's head, leaning against him. He had felt cool towards this…stray, he was sure he had called him, and, yes, jealous over what Qui-Gon had said in the Council chambers on Coruscant. But now, he felt a kinship – and Anakin was only nine, on a strange planet, away from his mother, having the one person who he could rely on totally, killed a few days ago. He had no one, and neither did Obi-Wan. Master and apprentice, now, the two of them. So they had each other.
"There's a poem at the Temple. Those you've known…I learnt it as a Youngling, as a song…" Obi-Wan laughed quietly to himself. "That was a long time ago." He was silent for a moment, before he began to sing softly; Anakin relaxing against him, losing himself in the soft melody.
Those you've known and lost still walk behind you
All alone, they linger till they find you
Without them, the world grows dark around you
And nothing is the same until you know that they have found you
Those you've pained may carry that still with them
All the same they whisper: "All forgiven."
Still your heart says the shadows bring the starlight
And everything you've ever been is still there in the dark night
Thought you know you've left them far behind
You walk on by yourself, and not with them
Still you know they will fill your heart and mind
When they say there's a way through this
Those you've known and lost, still walk behind you
All alone their song still seems to find you
They call you as if you knew their longing –
They whistle through the lonely wind, the long blue shadows falling
All alone but still I hear their yearning
Through the dark, the moon, alone there, burning
The stars too they tell of spring returning –
And summer with another wind that no one yet has known
I'll walk now with them, I'll call on their names
And I'll see their thoughts are known
Not gone – not gone –
They walk with my heart –
I'll never let them go
I'll never let them go
Obi-Wan opened his eyes. When had he closed them? He could tell by the relaxed pressure of Anakin against him that the boy was sleeping. He smiled softly, down at this boy, this Anakin…his apprentice. Maybe, just maybe, he could be a Master to him.
Words that felt like they were from so long ago, spoken so many times. Qui-Gon's words, said to him on so many different occasions. Obi-Wan knew what he had said earlier, and what was reiterated in the song, was right. Qui-Gon would always be with them, and although his death was hard to bear right now, the initial pain would pass in time. The grief, Obi-Wan knew, would always sit deep inside him, and never truly heal, but it would lessen. And then memory would outweigh it.
And he would fulfil his beloved Master's last wish. He would train Anakin. Obi-Wan looked down at the sleeping Anakin, his arms still around Obi-Wan's neck loosely. Obi-Wan let his head tilt back against the soft couch and closed his own eyes.
Somewhere, he knew Qui-Gon was smiling.
Yeah, a little weird. Sorry to all those who thought Obi-Wan's singing was a bit OOC, but I liked it. Anyway, cheers for reading, and reviews repel the Dark Side!