(AN: You know, Attack of the Clones really had so much potential, and George Lucas wasted it. For instance, the line that Obi-wan said to Luke from A New Hope concerning Anakin and Owen Lars was something I always wanted to see played out. And the only time we see the two together in AotC, they share almost nothing! So here's a little something to compensate for that error)


(Disclaimer: Star Wars, all characters, situations and related information, belongs to George Lucas. This short story is a work of fan-fiction, and no monetary gain was made from it in any way.)

Anakin Skywalker wanted to be alone.

His little tirade in front of Padme was hardly warranted. He had let his feelings escape, let anger and hate master him. Thank the Force that Obi-wan wasn't here, or he'd never heard the end of it. The Jedi told him that such feelings were a way down the path of the Dark Side, while Padme told him that it was just human nature. It didn't matter to him, he just wanted to be alone, away even from her. Though it hurt being away from her for any length of time, the reality that he could not be with her, that he could not have her, hurt more than being with her.

Sitting alone in the garage of Cliegg Lars' homestead, he had time to think, to meditate, to calm himself. But he couldn't think of anything other than the face of his mother as she died in his arms. He had never fulfilled his promise to return and free her. He felt like a horrible son to her, having abandoned her for the life of the Jedi and never even thinking of her until now.

Until it was too late, it seemed.

Just then, there was a knock on the adobe wall of the garage.

"Anakin, isn't it?"

He turned around, seeing the form of the young man who called himself his 'step-brother'. Owen Lars was shorter than he, with dirty blond hair and a face that was already seeing the stubble of a beard. He looked older, more weathered, even more mature, than the nineteen-year-old Jedi padawan.

He didn't look like the type who could slaughter a whole village of Sand People.

"Heard some noises coming from over here," Owen said as he walked into the garage. "Wanted to know if you were alright."

Who was he to care about him, Anakin thought. He wasn't even related to him. He might have called Shmi Skywalker 'mother', but Anakin knew, as surely as he knew that there were two suns on Tatooine, that only he was her true son.

"We're leaving today," Anakin said. "After I bury my mother."

Owen didn't say anything. This must be hard for him, a matter for silence more than for words. It made Owen's head ache. He didn't have patience with sentimentality or idealism, that was for artists. He was a farmer, plain and simple. If there was a simple answer to solve their problems, he could definitely find the answer.

Delicate things, however, were not exactly his strong-point.

"Do you have to leave?" Owen asked.

"We're not even supposed to be here in the first place," Anakin answered. "I only came here because I felt my mother was in danger."

"Well, you know, you don't have to." Owen said. Anakin slowly turned his head toward the youth.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm just saying, you could stay here with us." he began. "Dad's not gonna be of much use working on the farm, so I'll have to end up taking care of things around here sooner or later. My girlfriend...well, I like her and all, but she doesn't know a vaporator from a cargo hopper."

Anakin didn't say anything. Part of him was trying to get over the loss of his mother, while the other was trying to comprehend his step-brother's offer.

"While you were away," Owen continued. "Padme told me a lot about you. She says you're a good pilot and know how to handle machines. Think about it! We could settle down here, back home, make a nice living for ourselves."

Anakin shook his head.

"What?" Owen asked, his brow crinkling in surprise. "What's wrong?"

"I'm not a farmer, Owen." Anakin returned. "I'm a Jedi, and a Jedi is not free to do as they please."

"Yeah, yeah, I've heard all the stories about Jedi knights," Owen dismissed. "And that's all fine and dandy, but that doesn't put food on the table, or pay the bills or-or get the moisture out of the ground."

"I have to protect Padme until my mandate is complete," Anakin returned. "I have a duty to the Republic."

"To hell with the Republic and to hell with all that damn-foolish Jedi dogma!" Owen said with enthusiasm. "There's no Republic in the Outer Rim. All those fine ideals about equality and free trade and rule of the people mean nothing on Tatooine, where the Hutts dictate everything. Look, out here, the only thing that matters is what a man can do, what he can make with his own two hands and the strength of his arm."

"Padme has to be protected." Anakin said. "She is important in vetoing a bill that will mean certain war."

"What do the wars of the Republic mean out here?" Owen asked. "Anakin, you're safe out here, safe from the Republic, safe from the Jedi, safe from all that Core World nonsense. Why don't you stay here with us, huh?"

Anakin did not spend much time pondering this proposal. For all that he had against the Jedi and how 'unfair' they seemed to him, they were the closest thing he had to a family. Obi-wan was, as he had told him to his face many times before, the closest thing Anakin had to a father. He couldn't betray that trust: he loved Obi-wan that much.

But the Republic needed him also. Chancellor Palpatine, for all that the HoloNet made him out as a kind, well-meaning yet reclusive upper-class Naboo senator now made Supreme Chancellor, was actually quite close to Anakin's heart - maybe even closer than Obi-wan. Palpatine was not a Jedi, so Anakin could confide things to him that he could not before Obi-wan or the Jedi. As surely as Anakin believed that Palpatine had the Republic's best interests at heart, he also saw that the old man paid attention to what Anakin felt and thought. Obi-wan's approach was always seasoned by his years of training and the Jedi Code. Palpatine was different.

"I couldn't bear wasting my talents like that." Anakin said simply. He got up off his feet and left the garage, leaving Owen Lars behind looking quite offended. He had offered his step-brother the chance at making something, of being a somebody, of having a simple, hard-working honest life - everything his father had taught him was what made a man - and he turned it down.

Worse yet, he called it all a waste. How dare he!

(AN: Rather short, but I wanted to produce something else from my main stories. It helps me get back into doing the others. Hope you liked it, and I hope my Anakin was more bearable than...well, you know.)