I just saw the Clone Wars movie with a good friend, and she said something that stuck with me until now: "If Ahsoka is his Padawan, then he would have had to kill her in the Purge, right?" Hence this little fic. This is what happens when I try to write angst.
It is the last place left in the Temple to destroy.
The Council chambers, the inner sanctum of the Jedi, and the almost sacred enclave from which peace is -- was -- enforced lies before him, the sinful bliss of total control almost in his grasp. He can still feel some of the old tranquility and calm now, despite the gunfire and the screams and the ripping, tearing sounds of his soul splitting into shreds and flaking away (and there was, of course, that old Jedi adage that every time you kill, you break a little piece of yourself inside and he's done more than enough of that).
He takes the elevator, because he will do so for the last time. After that, the signal will be given and the strong threads that have served the Jedi for a thousand and half an eternity of years will be slashed away (like his promises, now he thinks of it, but it's not the time for self-recrimination) and he will exit the Temple via the ten thousand stairs, where the entrance hall will greet him with its crumbling pillars and the bodies will glare at him with empty, accusing eyes. But no; he has neither the resources nor the strength to think of such things (although the Dark Side is ultimate strength, and hasn't he shed enough blood to receive that yet?) --
-- and he still hears an innocent voice asking him what he has done, and the truth is that he still doesn't know.
By all accounts, the tiny antechamber where those summoned to the Council would wait (and he'd certainly done enough waiting there, and for no good reason or cause) should be empty. The guard would have fled, because the Jedi are cowards -- although he is (no, was) a Jedi, and he doesn't even want to think about what that means for his mission -- and the doors would be unguarded, the hall deserted, his path unblocked. But there is the eerie, ethereal light of an ignited lightsabre, and the slight inhalation that marks a crescendo of breathy, tangible fear and the slight scuff marks of movement and --
"Oh, thank the Force, it's you!"
-- and all his self-imposed walls come crashing down and his grip on his sabre falters and he feels for the first time in nigh on two hours. And his feelings suffocate him with guilt and lies and what have you done, and for the first time since accepting the evil that is Sidious, he falls, his knees catching on the limestone floor and his breath sounding harsh and hoarse in his ears.
She is beside him in a heartbeat (because she always is -- was -- there to bail him out of danger, no matter what he has -- had -- told her to do) and trying to see his eyes, beyond the confines of the Darkness that cloaks his face in more ways than one. And at the back of his mind, as he looks into the calm, beautiful features of the girl -- no, the woman -- before him is the thought that she has never, in all the years that he has known her, changed. It is the moment, now or never, and he knows, instinctively, what the outcome will be.
You're not all powerful, Ani.
Well, I should be.
"Hey, Skyguy?" Uncertainity. That is something that he has never -- had never -- heard in her voice before (and he knows that he will not hear that voice again) and it burns him almost as much as the moment does. "You do know what's going on, right?"
"Palpatine is the Sith Lord." He says and he can sense her recoiling from the news and the shock.
"Palpatine! No!" And then, "How could we have been so blind?"
(We. The Jedi.)
"You were blind, Ahsoka, because you shut yourself to the true nature of the Force." He snaps, desperately wanting -- needing -- to distance himself from the Order that he just betrayed (and what of his family-to-be, too? Would he turn on them in the dead of night with a sabre in his palm?) for everything and nothing. "The Jedi take-" took, "-a narrow, dogmatic view of the Force, which blinds them to the strength and power of the Dark Side." The words pour from his mouth like water, and he feels their sticky trails on the surface of his heart.
And it is then, and only then, that he looks up and into those fiery, dark eyes for the first -- and last -- time (because Watto had told him that it was impolite to look one's betters in the eye and a Dark Lord of the Sith is almost always courteous) and it is then, and only then, that he sees her break. His eyes reflect her gaze like tainted gold and deep inside him, a part of him weeps for what had been, and what would never be.
"Join, me Ahsoka and we can defeat my Master and rule the galaxy together." He pleads -- asks, orders, even, for a Dark Lord of the Sith never, ever pleads -- grasping her callused, crimson hand in his, because he loves her, and would never, never see her hurt by any other hand than his own. And for the first and last time ever, he senses her thoughts, as clearly as if they were spoken into the dead, screaming air.
(This is her decision and it's resolute and he knows from experience that he will never be able to change her mind. So he does not plead again, even though the tears are on the tip of his tongue and the Force is weeping blood.)
"Only then will you be strong enough in the Dark Side to save Padmé."
And it is then that Anakin Skywalker falls, on the shining limestone floor of the once-sacred Council. As if in a dream, or as if swimming underwater, his (now bloodstained) sabre finds its way to his steady hand (he didn't know when it stopped shaking, and now is not the time to care) and swings once, twice, thrice in a flash of blue flame. And it is then that Ahsoka Tano dies, convulsing on the threshold of the home that she had sworn to protect.
"You never … once … called me … Ahsoka … Skywalker."
And it is then that he falls. The last name shatters as it leaves her cooling mouth and she then relaxes into death on the now-crimson floor, empty, accusing eyes glaring up at the man that is now Darth Vader.
He does not care. He has lost nothing.
And at the back of his mind is the niggling sensation that comes with the shattering of a lifelong bond. But Darth Vader does not feel. He simply accepts, and moves on.