Friends


Disclaimer: I don´t own the characters and money is not in it either.


Obi-Wan Kenobi stood facing Darth Vader in the deserted corridores of the Death Star.
His former student stood tall and forbidding, sure of his power and unafraid to challenge his friend. "We meet again," he said, his deep voice calm and resonating. The corner of Obi-Wan´s mouth twitched: "Yes, so we do," he answered, wishing his own voice didn´t sound so old and tired. Igniting his lightsaber he felt the peaceful calm of the Force settle over him. The answering hum of Vader´s lightsaber buzzing in his ears, lulled him into a battle trance. Deep inside he knew very well that this was a fight he could not win. Vader was stronger, younger and faster. But the Princess had to get away. And Luke. He smiled at the Dark Knight, then feinted, testing his adversary´s reactions. But Vader was in no mood for games. Instead he moved in for the attack with a brutal, powerful slash at his former master, driving him back a few steps. "You have become weak and slow, old man," he hissed viciously. "Really," Obi-Wan answered between clenched teeth, not knowing what else to reply. After all, it was the simple truth. "Maybe there is still a lesson waiting for you here," he added suddenly. "What, like: Never underestimate your enemy? I don´t think so. I have defeated you once before, remember?" the sarcasm in his tone was unmistakable and cut at Obi-Wan deeply. So much had passed between them, that instead of friendship and understanding only deep regrets and sour feelings were left.

Their blades met again and again, and Kenobi´s arms slowly tired under the relentless assaults of the Dark Lord, who seemed to want to went all his anger and frustration at once. To Obi-Wan´s mild surprise the fight was leading them towards the space station´s main hangar bay. No, not the battle, the Force. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw the Princess and Solo race for the Millenium Falcon, the wookie Chewbacca hot on their trail. But where was Luke?
Suddenly, Vader changed his strategy. Instead of employing the red blade, he slammed the Force into the older man, sending him flying to the slick metal floor. Kenobi´s lightsaber clattered away, out of his reach, into the hangar bay. "Ben!" a young voice shouted, deeply concerned.

"Who is he?" Darth Vader asked, standing over the doomed Jedi Master, the tip of his blade nearly brushing the other´s face, staring at the blonde youth. "Noone," the old man hissed and tried to scramble out of the way. Vader stepped on his long robes, laughing. "Noone? Then he truly must belong with you. You are nothing, Obi-Wan, nothing but an old man who was once a hero. But no more." - "A hero? I never was a hero. I am a Jedi," There. He´d said it. The other one was looking down, his masked gaze unreadable, but Obi-Wan did not need his eyes to feel the Dark Lord´s sudden anger. "Never, ever come under my eyes again," he spat and turned away, black cloak billowing behind him as he strode down the corridore, vanishing from sight as he rounded a corner. That had been close. Scrambling to his feet,
Obi-Wan ran towards the ship, where Luke still stood, mouth agape. Together they ran up the ramp, which closed behind them the second they had passed the entry hatch. When the Falcon shot out of the hangar bay, throwing the two men back, the old Jedi Master found himself cradled in Luke Skywalker´s arms, the boy grinning at him ruefully, slightly embarrassed and more than relieved. "Who was that guy in black?" - "His name is Darth Vader. I have told you of him." Luke nodded, his mouth suddenly grim and Obi-Wan hoped that he did not notice the fear and pain in his mentor´s eyes.


The rebels were delighted to see the princess safe and Mon Mothma shook Obi-Wan´s hand, smiling warmly: "Welcome, Master Kenobi, welcome," she said and led him away from his protégé. "It has been such a long time." - "Indeed, it has," he answered, but his thoughts dwelled on something else entirely.


Yavin 4 was a jungle world, full of life, full of the Force. Training Luke here would have been just perfect, but there was no time. The Death Star had followed Solo´s freighter into the system and alarms blared throughout the rebel headquarters, getting on Obi-Wan´s nerves.

He stood at the ladder leading up to the cockpit of Luke´s x-wing, wishing there was a way to keep him here, keep him safe. But the boy was determined and the old master saw a light shine in his blue eyes that he had seen years before in those of a friend. A friend who had become an enemy. Luke would survive the battle, that he knew for certain. But where would he go from there? What was his destiny? Obi-Wan shook his head sadly. "Ben, what is it?" Luke asked, a smile on his face. "Nothing, it is nothing. Just be careful up there, o.k.?" - "I will." - "Good. May the Force be with you, Luke Skywalker."

The battle seemed to last longer than it truly did. For Luke, flying in combat for the first time, it seemed both like an eternity. With adrenaline rushing into his brain and giddy with the speed of his fighter, he was enjoying this ride despite the deadly danger it meant for him.
But the exhiliarating feeling of the vastness of space embracing him made his head spin with joy. Now, racing his tiny ship along the trench leading up to his assigned target, he felt peace settle over him. The Force, he thought, smiling. "Luke!" a voice suddenly boomed in his headcomm, "You got one on your trail!" He checked his screens and immediately spotted the TIE Interceptor swooping down on him, laser cannons blazing away. I cannot break now, I am nearly there, Luke thought frantically, unsure of what to do.

Then suddenly the Millenium Falcon appeared out of nowhere, covering his run. The TIE broke away, spinning out of the way of the Falcon´s weaponry with ease. Then Luke released his proton torpedoes and followed Han out, trying to get away from the doomed super-weapon. The explosion was the most impressive thing he´d ever seen, but he was brought out of his awestruck staring by Han Solo´s voice yelling at him: "Come on, kid, let´s join the fun!" Turning his fighter around he saw the TIE Interceptor dodge the combined fire of the surviving rebel ships, twisting and turning and always avoiding the deadly bolts by inches. The Millenium Falcon was already headed towards the battle, when Luke followed. Obviously Han wanted to match his flying skills against those of this Imperial pilot. And the man was good, incredibly good.

The Falcon hot on it´s trail the ship suddenly danced out of the way and dove underneath the freighter´s broad belly, twisted around and came up behind the other ship, moving in for the kill. The game had become deadly and Luke cried out in dismay, as he realized the danger his friends were in. Pushing the throttle forward he raced his x-wing over to the two combatants, nearly ramming into the TIE, who broke away in the last possible second, right into Wedge´s fire. One of it´s solar panel´s damaged, the tiny craft spun out of control towards Yavin 4´s atmosphere. The two x-wings followed. "What do we do?" Wedge asked so suddenly that he made Luke jump. There was something about the ship, something familiar, but the youth could not place the feeling. "Let´s guide him in," he asnwered, not knowing why he even proposed such a thing. They could just as easily blow the ship up. But, to his surprise, Wedge did not protest his decision and so they moved to flank the tumbling ship, which gradually straightened it´s flight path again. The pilot really must be very good. With the x-wings by his side and the fighter damaged, he had no choice but to follow their lead. Simultaneously, the three ships landed in front of the Great Temple, where other rebel troops had already assembled to watch the aftermath of the Death Star´s explosion. Among them Luke could make out the figures of Ben Kenobi and Leia standing at his side. Overjoyed at having survived and even saved Han´s and Chewie´s lifes, Luke hopped out of his ship and ran to meet his friends, completely forgetting about the TIE pilot. The sudden roar of the assembled crowd brought his head around and he stared, awestruck at the huge armored form of Darth Vader.

The Dark Lord stood tall and proud, facing his enemies, but the rebels needed no excuse to attack. The snap-hiss of a lightsaber being ignited assaulted Luke´s ears and he saw Ben Kenobi standing at his side, his laser-sword´s blue blade shining. The look the old man gave him before striding into the fight, was one of deep regret. Luke stared after him, confused. Then Leia was there, eyes wide with fear and he instinctively lay a protective arm around her shoulders. "C´mon, kid!" Han yelled at him, blaster in hand, and tore him away from the princess. The youth fumbled for the lightsaber hanging at his belt and it´s cool weight in his hands was more than welcome when they hit the fray. In the middle of it all he could hear the clash of lightsabers, once or twice the sound of blaster fire, but mostly the crowd had turned from attackers to onlookers. Pushing forward, Han reached the edge of the crowd first and took aim immediately. Luke followed closely and saw Ben duck out of the way of Vader´s blade, when Han´s first shot hit the Dark Lord´s right hand and sent the lightsaber handle flew out of his grasp. The tableau was frozen for a few seconds: A surprised Ben Kenobi staring at his adversary´s empty hands, the crowd shouting at him to finish the fight, the Dark Lord standing calmly. Then the spell broke and Vader moved. He dropped to one knee and swept Kenobi off his feet with the out-stretched other leg, came up again in time to deflect Han´s blaster bolt with his gloved left hand. Luke had followed his friend in, and now ignited his own lightsaber. Chewbacca suddenly rose out of the crowd and grabbed the Dark Lord around the waist with one long arm. The other hand was formed into a fist and rammed hard into the other´s back, paralyzing him for precious seconds. Seconds the wookie emblyoed to hold his prize high over his head and hurl him towards the Great Temple with all the strength he could muster. Vader hit the ground hard and slid even further, until he bounced against the temple wall once. Standing up slightly dazed, he found himself trapped, as several rebels opened fire on him again.

Luke, Han, Chewie and Ben raced towards the temple, towards the shooting and shouting, and the old Jedi Master managed to get there even faster than his much younger companions. "Stop!" he shouted with a voice of command, searching the Force for the Dark Lord´s life presence. He found it, weak, but definitely there. Upon reaching Vader he knelt down a t his side, shaking his head regretfully. "We meet again," he whispered for the Sith´s ears only and smiled sadly. The masked head looked up at him, and Obi-Wan quickly added: "Please stay calm. There is no need...Not now." He was interrupted by Luke´s arrival at his side. The boy ´s face was flushed red with excitement. "Put that weapon away," Kenobi admonished him, gesturing towards the lightsaber in his hands. He felt Vader´s surprise when he recognized the weapon, then his anger flared again. "You bastard!" he hissed viciously and threw all his weight into a punch that sent Ben flying into the crowd with some force. Then, his strength gone, the Dark Lord simply slumped foward, unconscious.

General Dodonna ordered an immediate evacuation of the planet and the rebels relocated unto a fleet of starships hiding in deep space. Obi-Wan had spent the trip mostly at Vader´s side, although there was no need for him to be there: the Dark Lord was drugged and unconscious most of the time. So he would just sit cross-legged on the floor and watch him.
Today it was the same. My friend, my friend, how I wish you could forgive me at last, he thought, sighing inwardly and, on impulse leaned forward to touch the unmasked face, trace the old scars, where skin had had to be replaced, the shock of blonde hair, implants, of course. He has been hurt so much. And maybe, just maybe I can make some of it right again.
But that was not for now. It was time for Luke´s next lesson. Leaving the Dark Lord´s cell Obi-Wan strode along the ship´s corridores to meet his student. It should be students, but he was still afraid to ask the princess, because her inquisitive nature would demand an explanation. One he did not want to supply right now. But when he arrived at the boy´s quarters noone was there. Frowning, the Jedi Master let his mind wander and his eyes widened in shocked surprise, when he finally found him. Cursing loudly he sprinted back toward sthe prison complex.
Luke Skywalker stood in silence for a while, appraising the man who lay slumped against the wall, metal cuffs around his wrists and eyes closed tightly. Suddenly Vader opened his eyes. They were a cool blue and unreadable as he looked up at the youth. He frowned. "What do you want?" his voice was rough, the tone gruff. Luke didn´t mind. Instead of being affronted he came closer, kneeling at the prisoner´s side, but kept a short distance. The man was dangerous, after all. But those eyes fascinated him. There was a depth to them that wanted to swallow him whole, wanted to draw him in it´s dark embrace. And before he even knew the Dark Lord´s mind enveloped his own. Jerking back in surprise Luke tried to push the presence out of his head, but the other man was far stronger. So Luke decided to attack.

Luke pushed harder at the prisoner´s mental barriers and suddenly they gave way, broke under the brute force of his assault. A small, triumphant cry issued from the youth´s lips and he knew that he had won. He could feel the Dark Lord´s anger, could feel the sudden fear.
You are mine now, Luke thought viciously, half-torn between drunken curiosity and a cruel need for vengeance. He wanted to know how his father had died, wanted to see for himself. But still Vader fought him, blocking the young Jedi´s mind where he could, dodging his mental attacks, desperately trying to protect himself. Angrily, Luke abandoned all caution, not caring wether he hurt the Dark Lord or not. He burrowed deeper and deeper, feeling that there was something Vader wanted to hide, some unspoken secret, some terrible truth.
The sudden pain burning his cheek brought Luke out of his trance and he could still hear Vader´s scream linger in his ears. Looking up in surprise he saw into the cold eyes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. "What do you think you are doing?" the Jedi Master asked slowly, driving home every single word like a whip-lash The boy flinched back from his mentor´s stare and looked over to where Vader lay on his side, panting loudly, blue eyes half closed and his lips pressed tightly together. "What you have done to him is rape his mind," Obi-Wan whispered harshly,
- " Whatever got into you?"
- "I wanted answers," Luke replied, sulking glumly. What did his master care? Vader was a Dark Jedi, an enemy.
- "Answers? What did you ask?"
- "I wanted to know about my father," the boy said, not knowing what to make of this
suddenly strange conversation. Obi-Wan turned his gaze towards the Dark Lord, his eyebrows raised slightly: "Tell him," he ordered and blue eyes met blue ones in a silent contest of wills. In the end Vader subsided and looked straight at Luke: "I did not kill your father." - "You didn´t?" - "No, he is alive. He was....Betrayed by a friend of his." - "By you." - "No," a tiny smile appeared on the Dark Lord´s lips," Not by me. Badly injured and abandoned...." - "No more," Obi-Wan hissed at him, suddenly furious, but his anger reflected the shame he felt for having left a friend to die many years ago. Vader´s cool blue eyes did betray no emotion when he turned his face to look up at Kenobi. "Maybe you want to tell the story?" he asked calmly. "Wait!" Luke had enough of all those confusing words, of unspoken secrets," My father. He is alive, you say. Where is he now?" Still, blue eyes met blue ones as Dark Lord and Jedi Master continued their silent match for dominance. It was Obi-Wan Kenobi who finally faced the youth: "You are looking at him." The old man saw the rapid change in Luke´s eyes, from confusion over shocked surprise to a look of horror, as he realized who his father was. Then, after a few seconds of staring wide-eyed at the Dark Lord, who met his eyes levelly, he stood slowly, turned around and left.

Obi-Wan Kenobi made as if to follow, but Vader´s voice stopped him:
- "What exactly are you trying to accomplish here? Twist the truth around again?"
- "How can you stay so calm?"
- "I have known the truth for a long time, as have you. No need to make a fuss over it now. The boy will recover. And maybe, just maybe, you can regain his trust by telling him everything."
- "You should be doing that, my friend."
- "Are you quite finished?" the Dark Lord´s anger hit Obi-Wan like a blazing fire. Obviously
he was in no mood to continue their little conversation.
- "Do you need anything?"
- "What do you care, old man?"
- "Then I will leave."
- "Do that."
Throwing a last glance over his shoulder, Obi-Wan Kenobi stood in the doorway, regarding his friend for some time. Under the cumbersome life-suit armour he could still see the young Jedi Knight the man had once been, grown into a man, more powerful than ever, and caught in a net of his own pride and vengeance. "Anakin?" he whispered. The scarred face turned to look at him and suddenly a most sincere smile blossomed on those twisted lips.
"Just ask," the Dark Lord answered. Obi-Wan hesitated before replying, his voice nearly too low to hear:
- "Will you forgive me?"
- "Forgive you? Why should I forgive you? Bail has payed the price already."
- "Alderaan died with him, millions of people. Don´t you think that this was too high price for a child?"
- "She is my child. Mine, do you hear me? He had no right to take her from me. I would never have harmed her."
- "But you did now. You killed her family. And Bail knew that you would be powerless against Palpatine. Amidala was right."
- "So she was. But what you did..."
- "I was scared."
- "I saved your life, Obi-Wan, and you left me to die."
- "There was no time. Besides, how was I supposed to know anyone could survive that fall?"
- "You can´t even say it, right?"
- "I am sorry, Anakin. I am really, truly sorry. I failed a friend and i take the blame for what happened next."
- "It is not yours to take, old man, that decision was mine. You had betrayed me, like Palpatine said you would. I was so angry, and then Amidala died."
- "I understand your pain, believe me."
- "And yet you chose to take my son and give him to your brother to raise. What was he, your life assurance?"
- "i already asked you for forgiveness. I cannot do anymore."
- "Yes you can."
- "What is it?"
- "My children...deserve to know the truth. You will tell them. That is your punishment, Obi-Wan Kenobi."
- "And a fitting one. I will do as you ask. And then?"
- "We shall see."

Leaving his friend behind Obi-Wan felt truly at peace for the first time in many years. Anakin had not changed as much as he had feared, as anyone had feared. But still, the service to Palpatine had cost him. Once you submit to the Dark Side it will forever determine your destiny. How often had he heard this sentence spoken in the halls of the Jedi Council, in lectures, everywhere. Well, maybe here was one Jedi who could prove them all wrong.



The End