Archive: Please ask first
Summary: Obi-Wan has been sent on a mission to apprehend a dangerous man from his past, leaving Anakin behind at the temple. When Anakin suspects that things are not right and goes in search of his Master, things take a turn for the worst. Imprisoned and tortured, the question arises: to what lengths will Anakin go to save his Master's life? And will Obi-Wan's life come at the cost of Anakin's soul?
It had been six years since the Naboo incident. That's what people were calling it now, an incident. It wasn't referred to as a war; most wouldn't even admit that it was a battle.
It was just an incident.
Perhaps that is what bothered Obi-Wan Kenobi the most, hearing that dreadful thing referred to only as an incident, not even important enough to be determined a conflict.
In the years that had followed, a pattern had developed for Jedi Master Kenobi. During the day he trained his Padawan, another one of the results of that fateful day, and during the night he dreamt of the past. Not even in his sleep could the Jedi Master escape the terrors of Naboo that plagued his mind. He dreamt of other things too; people long past dead, most of whom would gladly die again to exact their revenge on the young man.
However once daybreak began, Obi-Wan would rise and become the epitome of a stoic Jedi, and very few suspected the tears and sweat that accompanied his nights. The older Jedi guessed that his padawan knew he didn't sleep well, but the boy also left the issue alone, respecting his Master's privacy. During the day he kept a close eye for the slightest bit of weariness or signs of trouble, his admiration for his Master showing strongly in his actions and in every word he spoke.
Now however, it seemed that the pattern of life which had become routine to this master-padawan pair, was going to be shattered, possibly forever, because of one man from the past long since thought dead.
It was far into the evening, nearly midnight, when one of the honored members of the Jedi Council placed a call to one of the most prestigious Jedi Masters in the order. The news was disturbing to the young man in question, and even more so was the information that he would be departing with the sunrise.
And that was how this Master had ended up here. In a darkened room on one of the upper levels of the Coruscant Jedi Temple, standing watch in the doorway of a child's room. While the rest of the Temple was sleeping, this Master could not, his mind too preoccupied to rest, even though at least a few hours remained before sunrise. Silently he walked across the room and sat in the chair beside the bed of his protégé. The master's blue eyes took in every feature, every line, and every curve of the boy's face before he spoke, albeit just a whisper."I don't want to do this, you know. It's only for your own good. You're going to be angry with me for this…perhaps even attempt to defy me. But I hope you know, Padawan that I care about you and only want to protect you for a little longer while I still can. I only hope that you can understand." The whispered words were lost on the sleeping teen, but he stirred slightly, sensing the other presence in the room, and opened his eyes.
"Master?" The boy asked, voice groggy with sleep. He wondered why his Master would be sitting beside his bed without waking him. "Is something wrong, Master?"
The older of the two shook his head slightly, brushing the hair from his eyes before speaking, "Not exactly, Anakin. I need you to wake up for a few minutes though."
Anakin Skywalker sat up almost immediately, all sleepiness gone. The few times that his Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, had woken him in the middle of the night were always important, and he didn't doubt that this one would be, as well.
Obi-Wan continued, though he seemed to find it difficult to look at his padawan. "The Council has contacted me." He paused, seemingly reluctant to continue. At Anakin's questioning look he continued, "There's a mission I must attend to immediately."
Before Obi-Wan had finished, Anakin was rising to dress, but found he was being restrained, Obi-Wan's arm rested firmly on his shoulder. "Master?" For the first time Anakin realized that Obi-Wan didn't look to be his normal stoic, composed self.
Obi-Wan glanced away for a brief moment before continuing, his actions were unnatural and only went to further Anakin's growing fear that this situation was much graver than he had originally thought. "Alone padawan. I'm going on this mission alone. You can stay in our quarters if you wish, but you'll report to Garen Muln. He's agreed to continue your training during my absence."
"Alone?" Anakin was more than confused, and seeing Obi-Wan start to rise from his seat, he realized that his time was short, "Where Master? What's going on? Why can't I come with you?"
"I can't tell you much Anakin, just that this is something I need to take care of by myself. I depart at daybreak." Obi-Wan could see the fifteen-year-old struggling to understand and coming up short. He saw a look cross Anakin's face that he was very much familiar with, a look that meant only one thing – absolute defiance. His voice grew stern, "What is the first rule of a Padawan?"
Anakin fidgeted slightly and muttered, "Obedience."
Obi-Wan nodded and turned to leave his apprentice's room when Anakin's voice stopped him.
"But, Master, you can't go alone!" Anakin nearly shouted, "A padawan is supposed to go with his Master! What if –" He stopped but the slight, almost unnoticeable waiver in his voice gave away his underlying, unsteady emotions. The Master understood that Anakin, not having been raised in the Temple, made attachments. He also understood that Anakin often feared losing those close to him, perhaps because throughout his young life as a slave, there was no steady role model in his life except his mother, and now, he had lost her too. In the past, when Anakin expressed feelings of fear about losing his mentor, Obi-Wan would look him in the eye and promise to return home safely.
This time, the Jedi only looked at him with eyes full of sadness and spoke quietly, "Then it is the will of the Force, young one."
The words, coupled with an uneasy stirring in the Force, would have brought Anakin to tears, had he not held such a tight reign on his emotions.
"No!" Anakin's voice resounded through the room. His defiance would have been unexpected of any normal Jedi Padawan, especially as they were trained to accept death from an early age, but for Anakin defiance was almost second nature. "No Master! I'm coming with you." The words, brave yet futile, made Obi-Wan smile, though the smile never seemed to reach his eyes.
"My young apprentice, you have much to learn." Gently he brushed Anakin's cheek with his thumb, callous skin running over the boy's smooth cheek in an unnatural show of affection, "You'll stay here with Garen. I expect you to behave for him. He's taken a new apprentice only a few months ago and you are to be a good role model for Padawan Willow, understand?" Anakin could scarcely nod in reluctant acquiescence before his mentor turned and walked from the room.
Anakin stood in room in silent shock, listening to his Master preparing his things in the adjacent room. He could hear Obi-Wan rummaging through the common room, throwing last minute things into his survival pack. The younger Jedi didn't need to see his Master to know exactly what he was doing. He could imagine Obi-Wan rummaging through his pack, double checking he had everything that was absolutely necessarily. Perhaps throwing in an additional datapad containing vital information on the mission.
His thoughts turned from his Master's actions in the common room, and the teen wondered briefly at his master's unusual show of emotion. Their relationship was close, so that Anakin often found himself describing the relationship to himself as finally having the father he never had as a child. The apprentice always knew he was cared for by the look in Obi-Wan's eyes, the praise he spoke, or the way Obi-Wan would correct him in training; everything in their interactions showed a caring and deep commitment to him. But even with such a close-knit relationship, Obi-Wan's affection was usually more reserved. Rarely did Obi-Wan show open displays of fondness or gentleness to anyone.
It took only a few seconds before understanding hit, and when it did Anakin felt his knees weaken. The apprentice suddenly realized that his Master was saying more than just a standard "I'll see you after the mission".
He was saying good-bye.
In the other room Anakin could hear Obi-Wan gathering up his travel pack and suddenly a feeling of dread and fear welled up in the boy so powerfully that he couldn't help but rush out to the common rooms.
Obi-Wan came out of the kitchen as he stuffed some ration bars into his travel bag. "Padawan, I must go soon." He grasped Anakin's shoulders tightly, searching the boys eyes, "I want you to promise me you'll stay here, promise me that no matter what happens you will not follow me, nor will you try and find me if I do not return."
Anakin shook his head, fighting back the tears that pricked at his eyes. Even he was surprised at the amount of emotion he was feeling, let alone showing, "Master, please don't."
"Promise me, Anakin!" Obi-Wan's voice was harsh, his urgency to get said promise making him sound almost angry. But Anakin knew it wasn't anger that compelled his master, but fear instead. It was a well known fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi never got angry, but he occasionally did combat with the emotion of fear. Anakin recognized that Obi-Wan was often concerned for his safety, and when he was, he would often come across as sharp or callous. "Padawan, promise me!"
Anakin looked into Obi-Wan's stormy eyes, begging for a reprieve, but at finding none he nodded reluctantly, "Yes Master, I promise."
"Good boy." Obi-Wan reached down and ran his fingers through his apprentice's hair, in another rather uncharacteristic show of affection. This alone made Anakin tremble with fear at the idea of what his Master was going to face, and going to face alone.
"Please, Master," Anakin begged, his heart beating wildly against his chest. Even with his Jedi training he couldn't seem to get his emotions under control, "before you leave, tell me why."
For a moment Anakin wasn't sure he would get an answer. Obi-Wan was checking his bag and seemed to not have heard the question. Just when he was about to ask again, Obi-Wan finally spoke, his voice distant.
"There once was a Jedi Padawan who turned to the Darkside. He was thought to have died, but those who reported his death were mistaken, and he has come out of hiding. Stronger now than he ever was before." At last Obi-Wan looked at his apprentice, holding his gaze, "The Council is sending me after him, to bring him in to be tried for his crimes against the Republic and against the Jedi Order."
It was then that Anakin finally understood why Obi-Wan was leaving him behind. It was a dangerous mission, to go against a fallen Jedi. It was a rare thing for one to fully turn to the Darkside, but it was a terrible thing for any Padawan or Jedi Knight to witness, and many young minds were not yet strong enough to withstand the influence of the Darkside when yielded by one powerful enough. In Anakin's case there was a strong need to keep him away from such a tempting and terrible power. He was not yet strong enough, and to expose him to such raw power could be dangerous. Obi-Wan was simply trying to protect him.
There was one thing, however, that Anakin had to know before his Master walked out the door, possibly for the last time.
"Who is he, Master?"
Obi-Wan's step faltered and his head bowed. The weight of a thousand galaxies seemed to stand on the Master's chest, and he found himself struggling to breathe. He had vowed never to speak this name again, and yet here he was, searching for the very man he had watched to die before his eyes. Finally, after a long moments pause, Obi-Wan replied, his eyes on the door in front of him, unable to look back at his Apprentice. "His name is Xanatos DeCrion." And with that statement, Obi-Wan turned and left, leaving a very confused and somewhat apprehensive Apprentice in his wake.