A/N: This was inspired by TheMacUnleashed's collection of stories about Masters and Padawans–if you're at all interested in this go check out hers as well.


Duality

I. Anakin and Obi-Wan

I. First Impression

When he hears Obi-Wan call Qui-Gon Master, it is as if the ship has lurched beneath him; he has been terribly betrayed! But no–what slaver would go through such an elaborate ruse to capture one boy, even a top racer? And he can sense the rightness, as surely as if he were beholding the wonders of the Jedi Temple already. (He is not sure what those wonders are, as mostly when he imagined Jedi they were flying or fighting, but right now the air seems as imbued with promise as with oxygen.)

So he assesses Obi-Wan again, and sees a man younger, less scarred, than Qui-Gon's example had lead him to imagine Jedi to be; were he raised in Mos Espa, Anakin thought, Obi-Wan would be...what? A gambler, a farmer, a vagrant? He does not seem to fit any of those molds. On Tatooine, anyone with such...such a shy sort of politeness, paired with the authority and skill shown by the fact he carried a lightsaber, would be left alone.


II. Conflict

Obi-Wan was waiting when Anakin arrived in the apartment. He looked at the grease stains on Anakin's brown-clad flanks, at the dirt tracked in across the immaculate Temple carpets. He knew better by now than to ask where Anakin had been.

Instead, he chose, "What did you learn?"

Anakin looked confused. He passed into the suite, began to undo dirt-stained tabards with his back to his teacher. "I learned that winning a couple races means attracting young fans who want advice."

"Hmm. And do you advise them?"

"A little."

"Be careful. If too many beings recognize you–I've given up telling you not to flee the temple on every whim, but Padawan–"

Anakin disappeared into his room, leaving the door cracked open. Obi-Wan thought about when the carpet-cleaning droid next made its rounds.

Anakin said, "I know, Master. I never stay long afterward. And there's only so much to teach. They won't ever be like me."

The arrogance slipped out effortless and sincere, and Obi-Wan knew he was right; no one without the Force–no one with, if Obi-Wan were honest–could do the things Anakin did. But the difference between Master and apprentice was not as different as that between those with the Force and those without.

A memory came to Obi-Wan then, something that he wasn't sure would be right, but that nagged at his brain until he revealed it. "Qui-Gon once told me that a good teacher's greatest desire is for his student to become more talented than himself."

"I think that's a bit foolish," Anakin said, and it was as if he had insulted Qui-Gon. "That could leave the teacher in danger. And it might not be possible. Everyone has so much talent. So many midi-chlorians." He emerged into the sitting room, wearing a fresh tunic.

He felt what he had done and said, "I'm sorry," and then, "I mean, I just think as a statement it's too absolute."

"That it is," said Obi-Wan soberly.


III. Their Finest Hour

There is a moment, during the great hurtling final flight of the Invisible Hand, when in the storm of the Force Anakin slides aside into the calm center and sees Obi-Wan. He cannot spare a glance from the controls and readouts, but from the Jedi Master's presence in the Force he can picture his mentor's expression with almost no effort; jaw set beneath his beard, blue eyes straight ahead, hands loose but white on the armrests. Anakin knows how much Obi-Wan hates to fly, and so his unexpected, Force-borne calmness is a patch of serenity.

They could all die here, now, but Anakin has faced death before, and he cannot help but revel in speed, in how gouts of fire rip from the ship's hull and flash past, cooling from white to red. He hears every crack and strain of the hull and understands their meaning as if they were language, Huttese or Basic or the song of the Force. He has always met action with action, but here by his Master's example he meets it with silence, potential readiness, a calm center. For just a moment.


IV. Each Other's Creations

It is on Mustafar, as their lightsaber blades cross like reality and its reflection in the mirror, that he realizes without a doubt that he is stronger than Obi-Wan. Not more experienced or more controlled–certainly not a better teacher. But he has always been more talented, and this, he realizes, makes the Council's denial of his Mastery moot. He is apart from their system.

So they fight, strike-twist-strike-deflect-set, oh-so-precise, and Anakin thinks he has nothing more to learn.

***

And so, after another fight, in which the lightsaber blades were blue and green but nevertheless purer reflections of each other than were the blue and blue, one aspect of the Force asks another, "Master, can you possibly forgive me?"

"Of course. You have learned that no one should ever stop learning."

"I know." But a bit of rakishness remains. "That's such a cliche."

Obi-Wan had been trusting Anakin to pick up his platitude instead of the truth of what he said. "It isn't. I say that everyone should keep learning, not that it is impossible to ever stop. Many stop. They become too used to a repetitive world."

Anakin considers, replies; "I know now that we were all slaves to Palpatine; I was, and the Republic, and perhaps the Jedi. But I won't confuse a Master who restricts one world with a mentor, who expands it, ever again."

And because it is the Force speaking, two of its strongest aspects fused with itself again, Luke feels their thoughts, and breathes in deep the cool clear air of Endor, and smiles at his father.