Title: Second Person, Tense

Author: pronker

Rating: M

Pairing: Anakin/Obi-Wan

Summary: In Sugnid's impenetrable swamps, a third party aids Anakin and Obi-Wan in reaching the next level of their relationship.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars, as I am not George Lucas, and no money is being made from this fanfiction.

Warnings: Second person. Tentacles. Not very graphic, but still ...

a/n: This was a gift for obiwanamidala on LJ on the Jedi Mistletoe 2009 gift exchange and written with great hubris.

IOIOIOIOIO

Anakin's hands can fix anything except themselves. The arms that hold you nightly on ice planets and more temperate ones lie folded on his chest, flesh atop mechno. "What's wrong with him?" you ask.

Master Vokara Che's gaze is shuttered. "He needs your bond, Master Kenobi. I can't reach him. He's catatonic." She looks robust in her medical scrubs despite her years, ready for anything but this. As a lead Healer on combat duty, the Chosen One is her greatest responsibility. Her concern ripples through the Force as she tucks his flesh hand under his golden one, which has been stripped of its glove and looks deceptively delicate. Both hands freeze as she'd placed them, stiff as a wax doll's hands. In the same Force, you consider The Go-To Team's past half-day and then shunt the memory aside until you can deal with it in privacy.

"Why catatonic?" Your own arms ache from carrying him to the Jedi med-tent just after dawn. It is now mid-morning and you have work to do. "Both of us fell victim to that creature and I am all right." You still feel slimy after a change of clothing and are glad that you have the distraction of planning tomorrow's campaign. But you'd expected Anakin to be recovered enough to plan it with you and to resume training his Padawan upon her return later today. Ahsoka accompanies Captain Rex at this very moment at the repple depple, handpicking replacements. The two are unaware of last night's events, all to the good. It is you who must face facts this sultry morning on Sugnid. "My troops need me. I am not his Master anymore and our bond is different now." Your disquiet grows. "You know this from your own Padawans, Master Che. Is there any treatment that you can give him?" He will conquer this on his own, he will. He is simply ... resting.

Perhaps Aayla will look like this in forty Standard, solemn, intent, no humor. You don't want to think it. "Master Kenobi, you say that the being appeared neither plant nor animal nor mineral to you in the Force?"

"Neither or both or all three. It happened so fast and then the trooper freed us. I suppose I should have brought a sample of the tentacles back here to you, but it seemed urgent to bring him to medical help straightaway." And you didn't want to harm the creature further, but you don't say that. No need to display everything to her. You suspect she will know more than you want her to before the end of this morning. And what will she do with that information?

"His psyche is injured, not his body. I cleansed him myself and there were no marks on him inside or out, once the petechiae from the suckers faded." She touches her cool healer's hands to his rigid shoulder through regulation pajamas the color of Anakin's eyes. She concentrates. "No progress."

Your healing talents are nothing out of the ordinary. "So what do you want me to do? Commander Cody and my troops need me." You are repeating yourself. You suspect where this conversation is going and don't like it. Her aged eyes judge you and you don't like that, either.

"He is immured in his catatonia. He could die of exhaustion." Then she murmurs, softly as a crecheling, "We could lose our Chosen One, Obi-Wan."

This needs to be done and you are the only one who can do it. If you are appointed a member of the Council as you hope to be, unpleasant challenges must be met. It isn't as if you don't want to help, it's simply going to be onerous and you need to save your strength, for Anakin's sake as well. He couldn't possibly die from this when he'd survived much worse situations, you tell yourself. "Of course I'll help. Tell me what to do."

Twenty minutes later, pity touches Che's lined Twi'leki features despite her Jedi reserve. She knows something. You shut her out more roughly than you mean to and lean into the task she's set for you. Cruising along your bond, Master Che kneeling beside you for support should you weaken, the currents of the Force sweep you away. The galaxy's color today is green as Qui-Gon's blade, living pulsing green, beautiful green, awe-inspiring green. The mute essence of Anakin joins you through your bond as you relive your encounter twelve hours before. Just before you slip away to the recent past, you hear Anakin's breathing turn to a stridor. You must hasten into the timeless plane of the Force before your mission becomes meaningless, before your life becomes meaningless.

Yesyesyes, do that again! You quashed the thought as you twisted by one ankle in mid-air. The tentacles surrounded, filled, smothered you and you had never felt so safe. Under an orangish-black sky and in the midst of war, this was unfathomable.

"Obi-W--- " choked Anakin, likewise dangling and the suckers shifted their grip on you both, almost-but-not-quite drawing blood. They would in a minute, though, if their prey continued to squirm. In the bright moonsglow, you two must have been a sight to behold.

Inverted, flipped, and palpated to an obscene degree, you fought nausea as you were searched. For what, you didn't know. Anakin was able to control the reek in Petranaki's savage arena, so why not this monstrosity here, now? But was this thing a beast? "Mrrrkkk --- " You saw one tentacle taste Anakin's scar as another fondled your tonsils, withdrawing before you could gag. The thing rumbled in a low register as it explored the inside of your cheeks. "Aaarghrrr --- " you forced out and then, in a completely different context, you whimpered in your distraught mind the words you regretted saying to Anakin last night.

No! Not this way! It had been such a small variance in your nights together; he'd wanted to do it and you'd denied him. You'd fix that error, if you could. You hoped you'd get the chance.

Obi-Wan? Anakin Sent back. Since when can we Hear each other?

You'd not expected the creature to act as a conductor of your heart's cry and you scrambled for composure. Never mind that now. We can. Do what you did to the reek before we get too comfortable.

Comfortable?

Shut up and just do it. Sliding past undergarment sleeves and over sweat-sticky skin, the unnerving beast twined a fine tip of itself into your left ear. You snapped your head sideways, but then into your right ear spiraled into another ubiquitous tentacle. You shouted around the bulbous gag in anticipated pain, quite unlike yourself, but the pain never happened. Instead, a mstkmstk lapping reverberated in your head as the humid appendages caressed your ear canals, stopping short of the tender eardrums, creeping out to suckle the pinnae and then delving in again. It was like being kissed by tiny pursing lips and you quivered. The puckering lips advanced, retreated, they drove you mad. You were as hard as if you were in your shared tent just after lights out, tortured by sheer anticipation of Anakin's sublime frotting. The shame of it burned you. When the fibrous ballgag pulsed larger and then shrank by turns, never quite cutting off your airway, you nursed primally at it. Hurry, Anakin, you Sent as you drowned in sensation. Please ---

You knew it when Anakin gathered the Force and layered his own will onto it. You smelled it when he blanketed the entire creature with his memories of Hutt musk, pungent enough to shoo away any sentient, non-sentient or a category yet undescribed. Even the sands of Tatooine would drift far from this miasma. This was not helping your nausea.

The green skin of the beast faded to a ghastly chartreuse visible even in the slowly growing daylight, three shades paler than its natural state. Anakin grinned, as much as he was able. A blast of the creature's own memories peppered you both like shrapnel, memories of growth under orange skies, waxing and waning of seasons, all recollections of this creature's version of happiness. The tentacled behemoth sought you both out, but for what? Was there a science to its attraction? Alien memories shifted to Anakin's happiest experiences, Shmi and Padme and love, tender maternal hugs, blazing nuptial nights. You would look away from these memories, if you could. What you'd suspected became troublesome reality. Anakin and Padme were married. And you and he were still imprisoned by a creature the size of a transport.

In a great shift of perspective, Anakin found his voice in his catatonia and Spoke to you outside of the reenactment's limited reality. You sensed Master Che's discreet attention. You came back for me! I love you, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in any number of ways.

You sensed Master Che's shock. No, not now, Anakin, impossible! This was denial on your part, but what of it?

For me? The tendril of Anakin's thought shrank to a thread, repulsed by your harshness.

For me, Anakin! You clutched at the thread before it disappeared. What we do, what we've done for months now is all about the sex, the letting go of the war, the comfort! I cannot handle love! It wasn't in my training! A proposed Councilmember should not splutter.

A smile that you didn't need to see must have been on Anakin's face as he lay on his cot. I can handle it for both of us, love, he said, his message heavy and so full of meaning that you wanted to explode with joy, though you foresaw that this situation will be messy. You ha--- strongly disliked messes. A sigh twined its way from your very soul. Then Anakin formed in front of you in his usual cocky stance, looking as he did before Geonosis, arms intact. The perspective became queerer when you both withdrew from Master Che's range of view and stood hand in hand, looking down at Anakin's rigid, panting body.

What happened to you?

Anakin glowed with secrets. When you left, it was the only way to get you to come back, at least here in this reality. I thought of staying here forever and my body froze in time, I guess.

Your condition is hurting you and we can't stay here. It pained you to think this. You took his face in ephemeral hands and kissed his transparent lips. There is the war ... and Padme, too. You twined his reconstituted braid around your thumb.

Was that a smirk in your bond as he squeezed your insubstantial waist? I will be fine if you do to me what I wanted to do to you last night.

The Force turned red with betrayal as you pulled away. I do not believe it! This was a ploy to get us to --- I was worried sick, Anakin! You truly had not fathomed the measure of the man before this. As a proposed Councilmember, you should have known better.

Red shaded into an honest yellow the color of Coruscant's primary. Believe me, Obi-Wan, it wasn't! I didn't realize my body would seize up like that! It was like a, a cramp, or something! Anakin's desires purred over the bond. But now that you're here ... and I'm here ... won't you agree to do it ... before Ahsoka and Rex return ... please … the creature showed me that it would work .. please …

You're impossible. The Force turned a soft, companionable blue. You looked around. The surroundings appeared pleasant enough, but you weren't ready for this place yet. Oh, all right then. Let's get on with it. The reenactment took up again as ...

... this tentacled thing blurred everything together as it left your mouth, scratching a palp through your sweaty hair before it traced your spine to its end. You had never felt so cosmic, so attuned to the Living Force. It made everything that Qui-Gon had taught about it more than a prophecy, more solid than that --- it was a surety. You gave in to the tentacles' embrace for it was an embrace, not a capture. You will hate for this to end because you knew now, you knew that Anakin loved Padme and he loved you and both your destinies were entwined with his even more than in your obvious roles of wife and Master --- for you will always be 'Master' to him. His own will bound the three of you together. When a voice barked a familiar title, you jolted out of your reverie.

"Sir!"

How long had you been in your trance? Daybirds twittered now. It was too good to last; there was another presence here, formed by nothing so natural as this creature, yet existing all the same. You opened your eyes. Chopper stood two meters below, tense and uncertain, deece at the ready. If Chopper supplanted either you or Anakin in this three-way communion, there would be hell to pay. You would see to it.

The clone caught your eye. "Sir, I'm here! Will the thing hurt you if I fire on it? How can I get you down?"

The tentacles ignored the intruder as they continued their probing for who-knew-what. Was this because you and Anakin were engaging all its mental capacity and it was vulnerable? The tentacled thing became something to protect. And you excelled at protecting. "No, trooper, don't fire. Give uhhn g-give me a minute."

Anakin was out of it still, face dreamy, peace suffusing every pore. You treasured the sight for half a minute. Then with newfound knowledge wrested from your communion, you said, "Don't ... chop it ... aim ... at the ... base and it will release us. Lowest power." The words were wrenched out of your mouth, their edges rough as slag. You heard reluctance in every syllable. A hum from the deece and a quivering and the tentacles withdrew, shivering their way out of every place they had entered. Your moan mingled with Anakin's, half ecstasy, half mourning. You were profoundly grateful that Master Che's ethics prevented her from grasping anything but the basics in her perception of these events.

Anakin's eyes opened halfway, closed and opened again. "Obi-Wan --- " it was ending too soon too soon even in this reenactment and with a grunt, Anakin came full back to himself. As dawn broke, you felt exhausted as you'd never been and Anakin looked as if he were about to weep. Everything slid into focus, your knowledge of his marriage, your knowledge of his hidden, delicious love for you, your acceptance of it. And, you realized, swallowing hard, your love for him, deeper than any Master/Padawan bond, deeper than life, almost as deep as the Force. You saw Master Che's lips gasp as if through a shadowed windowpane.

The worried cant of Chopper's shoulders relaxed. "You're all right."

"I'm n- yes, Chopper. I think it's letting us go." Anakin dropped the same time as you.

Chopper shouted, braced himself against the impact, blocked out genetically enhanced arms to control your drop and almost slapped your faces as he broke the brunt of your fall. On velvety loam more unyielding than the tentacle's embrace, Anakin groaned.

"Sir, you're hurt!" Chopper made to kneel by Anakin, but you waved him off.

No, it wasn't that sort of hurt, you felt along with Anakin, it was regret, regret that you couldn't stay here forever. But that would mean disregarding your duty and you wouldn't do that. You were fairly certain that Anakin wouldn't either. but seeing the man curled into a fetal ball beside you, face pressed into the crook of his arm and his shoulders shaking, maybe you were wrong about that. "Anakin, Anakin," you muttered, too low for Chopper to catch. "We must come back. I'm sorry."

"I know," Anakin said into his elbow. "But I wish we didn't have to. It's cold out here." Anakin shivered harder and then the shivering stopped. His breathing almost stopped, too.

The glow remained of your and Anakin's and Padme's love, surrounding you, filling you. Was this the creature's purpose? No matter. It was the creature's legacy. You rolled over to face the clone, an unlikely smile on your face. "Chopper?"

"Sir?" Chopper kept a discreet distance, deece trained on the quiescent form. Clones could be caught, entrapped forever, dreaming and drifting. The Council and the Supreme Chancellor wouldn't like that.

"Cordon off the area. Put up flash markers around the perimeter and watch yourself. You don't want to be caught by it, trust me. And no souvenirs this time."

Chopper stiffened. "Yes, sir."

You checked Anakin over after the clone moved off. Your partner's breathing was steady, but his eyes stared through you and his athlete's body was as rigid as the metal skin of the larty you'd all flown in on. You closed his eyes as if he were dead. Your happy glow dissipated as much as the morning mist did on this swamp-riddled planet called Sugnid.

"It was the only way," you mumbled, distressed for your former Padawan. You know it to be true as present time closes in on you and you find that Vokara Che is gently wiping tears from your cheeks. You blush as you hadn't in years and she allows you the grace to recover yourself.

"It hurt like nothing else to withdraw from the shared bonding," you confess to her five minutes later. You want to be anywhere but here, bracing her wise, calculating face. Anakin's breathing is eased, but his entire body remains a rictus of pained tension.

She taps her skillful fingers against her arm, thinking hard. "The loam that I washed off him tested a high degree of silicon and from that I'm assuming that the being was mostly a plant form, since plants in general need silicon more than most animals do to survive." Her compassion shines through her aura, nova-hot in contrast to her cool words. "Silicon is an excellent conductor of energy and in your case, thought energy. That was why you could Hear each other and why you three combined psyches so easily." She exudes such integrity that you know she will hold your secret safe until her dying day.

Tears film your eyes again. So it is a plant, nearly, and it sucked you in for no higher, better reason than that it reacted to stimuli. The togetherness was an accident, and all your fine feelings are left on the beach as much as driftwood pulled up from oceanic depths and spat out to dry on the summer sand. This is the Living Force to an unheard of degree. You would rather not have known. Master Che regards you as you pull yourself together. You want Anakin back to explain some things and there he lies, needing you as much as when he was nine.

"Leave us alone. I know what to do." Master Che bows deeply before departing. You arrange Anakin to your satisfaction as you veil the med-tent in the Force.

"I'll make it good for you."

IOIOIOIOIO

The End.