Disclaimer: If I owned Star Wars, I wouldn't owe $20,000 to the government in student loans, and Jar Jar would never have existed.

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Anakin flexes the fingers of his new mechanical arm experimentally as the Jedi medic explains what can be expected from the prosthetic. But her voice is only that of a small insect, buzzing dimly in the background of his subconscious, though not annoyingly so. Beside him, Anakin's master and friend is listening to the medic's speech, unaware of his Padawan's inattention… or so the Padawan thinks until he feels the slightest of sensations from their shared Master-Padawan bond, and he knows he has been discretely disciplined.

"…up to your full potential," the medic is saying. "But with time and practice, you won't even know it's missing."

Anakin's eyes drop to his metallic hands, and he flexes the replacements again. He will always know.

Obi-Wan thanks the medic, and Anakin is quick to follow suit, bowing graciously before her as she dips her head in return. As they begin to leave, the medic once again suggests his master use a cane to ease his discomfort until the muscles of his leg have healed. Obi-Wan gently declines, but thanks her just the same. Mace Windu, who has been standing at the back of the room until now, strides forward and grips Obi-Wan's uninjured shoulder affectionately, murmuring something about Qui-Gon's stubbornness in his pupil before exiting the chromium room. Anakin cannot hear his muted voice, but whatever he says brings the lopsided smile he has been missing back to Obi-Wan's face.

Their second attempt to return to their shared quarters is successful, and it is now that Anakin notices his master's distinctive limp. Obi-Wan is trying to hide it, and Anakin wonders if he should run back to the medic, take up the cane, and force it upon his master. Obi-Wan might take it then. He makes no move to dash back and, instead, loses himself to the memory of the moments before their injuries.

Obi-Wan says his name in a way that makes it sound like a question.

"I was just thinking…" Anakin says.

His master's eyebrow arches as he takes another hobbled step, only offering a quiet "oh" that is another question.

Anakin does not respond though he knows the answer immediately.

He is thinking of Master Yoda's comments to him in the high spire of the Jedi temple. "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the Dark Side."

Anakin wonders if he has started on a path to the Dark Side.

He remembers the icy hand that seized his heart as he woke from unconsciousness to see his beloved master lying on the ground in agony, Dooku's thrumming blade poised to strike through his flesh in a killing blow. He knows he will never forget the terrifying fear that coursed through his veins as he imagined the outcome if he were only a half-second too late. The mental image of Obi-Wan dead beneath the red glow of Dooku's saber is imprinted on his memory as though the event had actually occurred.

The fear of that possibility still touches him to this day.

He is a great Jedi; everyone has made him aware of that fact. Even Master Windu has commented on his strong connection to the Force, even if Yoda is always quick to advise that Anakin must better control his emotions, as a true Jedi should.

"Jedi are not emotionless," Obi-Wan had once told him. "They embrace their emotions, then release them into the Force." Anakin has never truly understood how anyone, even the most accomplished of Jedi, can find a vent for the fear of a fallen loved one.

Even if he could let go of that fear, he knows that, no matter how strong he is, he cannot stop the inevitability of death. That is simply not within his power, and it clouds the edge of his consciousness every moment. He couldn't save his mother. Her life had slipped through his fingers as easily as the sand of their desert home world.

Watching his master's uneven gait, he still feels the relief as he did when green met red in an electric sizzle of energy, staying the deadly strike.

He could not find that vent, could not let the emotion dissipate into the Force as he had been taught; instead, he met fear with anger so blinding it had felt blazingly hot and numb at the same time. Dooku had dared to threaten a man Anakin had grown to respect, to love as both a father and friend.

Obi-Wan had raised him, had loved him even when no one else would. Though at first, Anakin had wondered if this was only for Qui-Gon's sake, Obi-Wan had slowly chased away these thoughts, and Anakin had never doubted him again.

It was with that respect and love in his heart that he had abandoned himself to the rage and fought tenaciously against his enemy. Never again would anyone harm the ones he loves…

"Anakin."

Obi-Wan's even tone reminds him that he has not answered the unasked question. A gentle pressure accompanies the single word, but it is not of reprimand this time: Anakin can feel his master's compassion and concern through the Force. Their pace halts, and as Obi-Wan turns toward his Padawan, his death at Dooku's blade flashes into Anakin's mind once again.

"Padawan?"

Solemnly, he meets Obi-Wan's gaze. "I think I understand how you felt on Naboo."

"Obi-Wan immediately understands the reference and a slow, sad smile crosses his face. Turning, they continue on as Obi-Wan deftly reaches up to tug affectionately on Anakin's braid.

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Written for 2 reasons:

1) The movie doesn't fully explain why Anakin turns to the Dark Side. It is not to figure out a way to save Padmé but because he's afraid that he can't save her.

2) To explain why Obi-Wan is so patient with Anakin's emotional outbursts. Watch the end of Phantom Menace if you don't believe me. Obi-Wan gives into his own anger; he can understand where Anakin is coming from.

Questions and comments welcome. Keep the flames to yourself. If you think you can do better, then do it. Out-write me. Otherwise, shaddup, troglodite.