Title: There Is No Crime Without Punishment
Timeframe: Prequel Trilogy
Character(s): Anakin Skywalker, Other: Obi-wan Kenobi, Shmi Skywalker
Warnings: Death, Angst
Summary: There are many ways in which one can perceive justice.
Disclaimer: This is purely a work of fiction, and nothing in here belongs to me. Well, my unruly imagination does, but I don't think anyone would ever want that, so I'll keep it peacefully and continue to feed it every six hours.
"There is no crime without punishment"
The blue flame of energy that is your lightsaber- that is you, in some sensual, spiritual way the universe wouldn't want to know and ever find out- moves without your consent, without your will towards the other's throat. Your will- or what should be your will- is gone in the momentary fog of "now" and "do it" and "slaver".
The will of someone ( you? maybe) who is training to be a Jedi (the best, most powerful Jedi there ever was) is gone together with the knowledge that your opponent's weapon is gone, as well.
The keen eyes of the warrior you are notice it, catalogue it, and narrow in the before the strike thrill.
"But, Obi-wan... He had a weapon. He was a dangerous criminal! A criminal that would continue one day to enslave other beings!"
"Jedi are supposed to deal justice. He was a criminal. An armed criminal."
Why do you cry?
No, you don't.
Why do you want to cry?
"He deserved it," you whisper quietly, when your Master is long gone to discuss something important with somebody important. Your numb brain supplies the details and names.
He did. That gives you a peace of mind and trembling- tentative at first- feeling of pride. He was a slaver.
That was justice.
"What's th..." Obi-wan cut himself short, eyes closing for a moment in displeasure (it is always that). Was it a curse? Yes. Anakin wanted to scold his Master- the teasing smile never far behind- for improper language, but he, too, cut himself short, in bewilderment.
The first stone flew from the left, the mass of faces from that area- including the thrower's, surely- contorted in unspeakable pleasure
"Primitive," Obi-wan spat quietly, before striding in powerful steps towards the middle of the clearing.
The stone hit its target moments before another followed it.
You don't know whose cries are stronger, the painful choked sobs that should in all reasonable ways be hard to distinguish in the commotion, or the gleeful jeers of the crowd.
"Veesto! Veesto! Veesto!" The crowd is getting angry when Obi-wan starts protesting, Anakin's Master's form drawn to its full height (something that isn't so impressive in itself, but Obi-wan is nearly furious under his civilised countenance, and the grey thunders sparkling in his eyes are altogether a different matter).
And finally, you know what you have to do.
Anakin made his way to the middle of the angry circle, to stand next to his Master and over the lying woman.
"Veesto is for justice in Hindrin?"
The only response you get for a moment is an offended silence. Obi-wan tends to the semi-lucid woman they extracted from the clearing with sharp, rapid movements that speak of his growing irritation.
He sighs, closes his eyes (Henya, quick meditation- in cases when releasing stronger emotions to the Force does not work, your mind supplies readily) and finally looks at you.
"Yes, Anakin. Veesto means justice in the language of people of Hindra."
Obi-wan looks at you with those eyes of his that always think of you as inexperienced, uncontrollable child that does not know anything and whose reaction to the world is "dangerous".
"But what we've seen there, in the front of the Temple of Mistho, didn't have anything to do with justice. It was barbaric. That woman was sentenced to death without even standing a trial!" Obi-wan looks at you again, probably knowing what circles in your head before your thoughts form any coherency, and you sometimes think you hate those eyes.
Then you're blushing slightly, embarrassed, and murmur a barely audible agreement to your Master's words.
"Mom?" Her presence is near you, reassuring, warm and loving in a way only she can be. You grasp her hand more tightly with your own. "What's happenin, Mom?"
She doesn't answer for a moment, and you look at her imploringly, not understanding. Shmi forced a smile and looked at her son's face, the hand Anakin wasn't holding drawing his face into her clothes, shielding his eyes.
"Mom!" he protested, wriggling away, his eyes holding a teasing light that dimmed quickly, replaced with even more confusion.
Their blue held no comprehension, and for that she was thankful.
"Toobu!" A voice disentangled itself from the crowd for a moment, everybody falling silent at its rawness and pain. Shmi tightens her hold on you, but when you look up at her, you see what you almost expected to see: a desire to protect you, love, determination to keep you away from the thick crowd where something bad was happening- you heard the scream of pain (one scream, there was no more, so it couldn't be so bad, Watto had sometimes beaten you and you had screamed more, and even the bruises had disappeared usually several days later) over the reaction of the satisfied crowd.
Everything was there, in Shmi's eyes, but you startle to see the shade of grim satisfaction as well. Your mother looks briefly to the side, where the crowd is thinner, and where a woman is weeping openly, demanding to know where was her daughter, and asking the sands and the winds and even the Hutts to let her see her child.
Shmi pushes you forward, her hand tight and almost painful on your shoulder, but you don't complain, because she would never cause you any pain, and you're big enough not to complain, and you don't.
The shape which you only managed to catch a glance of through the rough fabric of Shmi's dress looked like a mass of red and swollen fresh, and was probably a man once.
Shmi tightens her hold on you, and you look up to peer into her eyes. She looks lost and angry, and you're afraid for a moment, before her eyes are soft and on your eye-level and she's hugging you to her and everything is alright, once again.
Her embrace is tight and her eyes are hard as she looks at the men around her, as if looking for danger and daring anyone to hurt her son, but you cannot see it, not buried in her arms like you are.
You feel it, though, in that way neither you nor she ever speaks about.
"Mom? Was this man... a bad guy?"
She looks at you hesitantly, but there is a distant memory of flame in the brown eyes. "Yes, Anakin. He was a bad man," she says at last, quietly, her hand instinctively searching for you, as if to make sure you haven't dissolved into dusty air before her eyes.
And her words are enough to calm you, knowing that whatever the man has done, the justice has been dealt.
You're distinctly aware of movement in your own bed, and were you not so worried (terrified) about different matters, you'd have done something about that... intrusion.
Or whatever else it was.
You think you're dreaming; you have to. You haven't travelled to Tatooine in the last months (years, no...you haven't traveled there ever, only away from it, and the guilt gnaws at your insides like a Krayt dragon, that you've escaped so cowardly, so willingly) and so the fact that you're seeing your mother now, before your very own eyes, is enough to prove that whatever it is, it is not a reality.
You try to smile, say something, touch her hand, run your hand through the coarse hair, but there's enough blood and pain- her pain, it is your fault- on your hands. and you're afraid to make a step in her direction.
Her skin is broken, purple bruises shining like shards in the glass, and your fingers itch to touch, to mend it, make it right, but you know it'll break further if you do, and so you stay frozen by the harsh suns of Tatooine.
You can't do anything.
The blood is fresh and the copper scent in the hot air almost make you gag, and you're crawling away, the sand turning a bloody shade from the amount of life liquid soaking into it- only nothing made you ever think of death more profusely, and nothing will, and she's dying, right there, and you do nothing.
Like you did nothing when Qui-gon told you you were leaving her behind.
The stretching pool of copper desert reaches your palms, and you finally, brokenly, accept it that it taints your hands and always will.
When you wake up, beads of sweat covering your forehead and your Padawan braid plastered to your heaving and wet chest, you take a moment to realise the movements in your bed have not been that of an enemy (or another intruder like Obi-wan, who sometimes checks on you when you're having a nightmare), but the vehement thrashing of your own limbs. Another moment and you relive the dream, the vision of what could never be, no please, and you force yourself- willingly- to see every detail of the ordeal, every inch of pain on your mother's beloved face.
You know you deserve to see it. You deserve the turmoil and suffering and pure hell it gives you, for it is only just that the son who cannot protect his mother and the son who left behind the mother who loved him and cared for him and who was his world suffers appropriately for his crime.
If only the Force would grant it that he'd be the only one suffering for this, he'll gladly take the punishment. He's the one who deserves it, no one other.
Background information regarding the beginning: Anakin was fighting with Krayn, who was a slaver and kept Anakin as a slave in mines for some time; during the fight, he probably lost his weapon and was killed by Anakin. When later asked about this, Anakin kept claiming that his adversary was armed when he delivered the killing blow.
Any feedback would be lovely.