Title: Fault

Author: karebear

Timeframe: some time after Revenge of the Sith

Characters: Ahsoka, Vader

Notes: "Conversations" series alternate ending. I will say right here, that, like LucasArts and their video games, I view the "light side" ending and Conversations With Dead People, as the "real" one. But since I started writing about Anakin and Ahsoka, I always wanted to write about what happens when she stays with him even after he becomes Vader. It is a fascinating possible path that I can easily see them heading down. I hope I did it justice.

"I fight for the chance to be lied to again."

- Evanescence

She focuses on the pattern. The hissing intake and release of breath reverberate under her feet, amplified by the metallic walls around her. It's constant, steady, like a heartbeat, and it settles her. Curled up halfway to a meditation pose, she waits. The shadows cluster around her, easily overpowering the dim, slightly red-hued lighting. Anakin keeps it dark, because bright light hurts him now, and the visual filters in his new armored helmet don't need light for him to be able to see. Ahsoka still can't see in the dark any better than any others of her species, unless she concentrates enough to focus the Force to that end, but she's gotten used to it.

Rustling fabric and metallic clanks and the clicks of machinery let her know that the med droids are tending to her Master.

He doesn't let anyone see him outside the suit, not even her, but she can feel him underneath, damaged but not destroyed. And she isn't afraid of him anymore, not even a little. His presence now is the one solid, stable thing she can count on in this new galaxy where things change with no more warning than a heartbeat, or a breath, and the ones she'd been taught to trust turn into traitors.

Anakin's taught her a lot of things: how to overcome uncertainty and pain, and it's those lessons she holds onto as she stalks through the hidden places of the Emperor's castle on Coruscant. She shies away from the Emperor's throne room, the high point from which the broken Jedi Temple is still visible through the panoramic windows. Anakin too avoids the place unless summoned. He thinks she hasn't noticed, but she has.

The Jedi had been so sure about so many things, that she was hopeless and that he was broken. They'd abandoned them in their death throes, sure that, with all their prophecies shattered, a renegade Jedi who broke all their rules and his wild and reckless Padawan would have no impact on the galaxy at large, one that even then was teetering toward the brink.

"The Jedi were wrong," she insists, willing the words to be true. "About both of us." After all, they'd been wrong about so many other things.

She's already more powerful than all but the strongest of the Masters. And Anakin... well, even death doesn't stop him, barely even slows him down. She's felt the liquid heat burning at him in his nightmares, in those small, rare moments when his control slips, and even those brief glimpses are enough to shock her every time with the awful truth of his survival. He is stronger than anybody could ever have predicted, and she appreciates every moment he lets her stay within his orbit, trusting only her with the lessons he can teach.

In exchange she works with him, for him, going the places that he can't go and becoming the incarnate instrument of his obsessions.

She holds her blade in a tight grip, one she built, with Anakin's careful teaching. It fits in her hands, way better than the one she'd been given during the war, borrowed from a Master she never knew, one of the hundreds killed in battle long before Order 66.

The red light plays off her features, reflecting, blood-bright.

A young Bothan boy, barely old enough to be called a Padawan, cowers behind it, helpless, defenseless. "Admit it!" she yells, pushing her anger outward, harnessing it into a weapon she can use. Cargo crates crash violently against the far wall. "Say it!" she yells. "Say the Jedi were wrong!"

He nods, his eyes wide with fear and desperation. "The Jedi were wrong!" he stammers, agreeing, believing, in these last moments of his life, everything she tells him. Things even she can't believe herself, not all the way.

His fear is so overwhelming she can taste it, and it bleeds into her power, an irresistible feedback loop. She smiles, twirling her weapon casually in her hand, cutting through him on a backswing.

She walks away without a second thought, vindicated once again by the reassurance that it never was her fault.