Disclaimer: It's George's sandbox, I'm simply destroying the sandcastles
Title: Attachment is Forbidden
Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker
Genre: Song-fic, angst, drama
Era: Post Tragedy on the Landing Pad - post AotC AU
Summary: Obi-Wan broaches the subject of Anakin's unique connection to Barriss Offee and the conversation turns into something he wasn't expecting...
Notes: The song "The Dance" belong to Garth Brooks and is his property. The partial lyrics used here at the beginning of the story are used without permission and are in italics.
It will not be necessary to read "Tragedy on the Landing Pad" to understand this fic, however, it is recommended that you do so
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance
-The Dance by Garth Brooks
Attachment is Forbidden
Obi-Wan settled onto the edge of the bunk where Anakin lay polishing the outer casing of his lightsaber. They'd been on the front lines for months now, commanding the clone armies and securing victory after victory. The Skywalker-Kenobi team had already proven to be a lethal and effective force against the enemies of the Republic - and Anakin hadn't even been Knighted yet.
Whatever had happened between his Padawan on Geonosis with Barriss Offee had given Anakin a determination and drive that was insatiable. The younger man seemed to be arrowing towards his Knighthood with such speed that Obi-Wan was concerned as to his progress - and the reasons behind it. He wasn't the only one. He'd been fielding the concerns of the council members for weeks now as to Anakin's single-minded focus and the dangerous path he appeared to be treading as he established himself as an exceptional leader and warrior.
Barriss Offee's career was also a shining star but one of strength and compassion. Obi-Wan wasn't the only Jedi to note that, since her adventures on Tatooine and Geonosis with Anakin, she was able to tap more directly into the Force. Not just tap into it, but seemed to feed off it, a conduit for its will. The Jedi Master, however, was one of the few who knew firsthand what could cause such drastic changes in Jedi and he was concerned.
Broaching the subject had been painful before. Since their last mission, it had become necessary, no matter how much it stung. Luminara's death, her sacrifice on Geonosis so he, Anakin and Barriss could escape, was still a heavy weight on his heart and one that he had to constantly strive to move past.
"Padawan, we need to discuss your tie to Barriss Offee."
That drew Anakin attention. His hands stilled on the hilt and his head came up sharply. "What tie?"
Anakin's guarded look was a confirmation Obi-Wan hadn't wanted. He'd been hoping Dooku had been wrong. Bracing his forearms on his knees, he linked his fingers together. "I had been hoping we were wrong."
"We?" Anakin straightened on his bunk. "Who's we?"
"Luminara," Obi-Wan cleared his throat to continue steadily, "voiced her concerns on our way to find the two of you before her sacrifice on Geonosis. Recent months have shown both a marked difference in your behavior and your outlook. The same can be said for Knight Offee. Your reaction just now confirms it."
Anakin shrugged. "Barriss is my friend and we've spent a lot of time together. Even you've picked up some of my habits, surely that's not so strange."
"Just as you've picked up mine," Obi-Wan agreed. "But this is deeper Anakin. You shield your thoughts and feelings very well - and you've learned control. Something is driving you towards your Knighthood; something that has nothing to do with your desire to be a Jedi Knight."
"On the contrary, Master, it has everything to do with why I wish to become a Knight."
"Anakin, I'm worried about you. This isn't healthy."
"And you'd know all about that wouldn't you?"
"All about what?"
Anakin resumed polishing his lightsaber hilt. "Nothing."
"Not nothing; you said that for a reason."
"Just something someone once said to me."
Obi-Wan reached across and placed his hand over Anakin's. "What did this someone once say to you?"
Anakin lifted his gaze back to his Masters and his smile turning slightly mocking. "I've been told about a certain Jedi Master who claims to follow the code, but spent the better part of his term as an apprentice developing an indiscretion with another Padawan. Not only developed it, but continued it well into their Knighting and Masteries."
"I will assume from your tone you are referring to me."
"You and Luminara, Master." Wincing at the harshness in his voice, he tempered his tone. "I was told that up until the day she died, you and she had been... involved."
"Few knew of it."
"So you admit it's true."
"I will admit to having a physical agreement with her, yes."
"You make it sound so tawdry."
"It wasn't." Obi-Wan folded his hands together thoughtfully. "And it was not what you seem to believe it was either."
"You can't possibly know what I think you shared with her."
"No?" The older Jedi shook his head. "Your earlier sentiments expressed it well by calling it an indiscretion, Anakin."
"An indiscretion is something that is considered a black mark against your record. The Council knew of my agreement with Luminara. Yes, she was my friend, just as you are, just as Barriss is - except she and I did get involved in an indiscretion as Padawans. Then, it was something that was frowned upon, something that could be considered dangerous to our training. Just as it is to yours now."
Anakin snorted. "There's nothing dangerous happening Master. You're worrying for nothing."
"She turned you down, did she?"
Shooting his Master a look of disgust, Anakin pushed himself further away so he was leaning more completely against the wall at the head of his bed. "Unlike you and Luminara, Barriss and I have chosen to wait."
"Her choice from the sound of it. Padawans don't have the maturity to deal logically with a physical relationship like the one you're thinking of with Barriss, Anakin." He held up his hand to forestall the argument he could see brewing in Anakin's eyes. "You've grown a lot, seen and done things most men your age haven't in the last two years and yes, you're almost ready to face your trials. Despite this, I don't think you realize what a dangerous path you're contemplating."
"Barriss is a Jedi Master, just like Luminara was. Whatever happens in our friendship won't endanger the Jedi."
"No?" Obi-Wan watched his Padawan solemnly. "Can you honestly tell me that you would have left Barriss behind, as I did Luminara, on Geonosis, Anakin? Could you have respected that kind of sacrifice without making some kind of an attempt to save her?"
Anakin blinked, surprised by the question - and the raw emotion in Obi-Wan's voice. It took a moment before it all registered and he opened his mouth to respond only to snap it shut quickly. What could he say to that? Barriss had been in trouble when she was fighting Dooku and Anakin hadn't been able to step back; he'd stepped in and nearly cost them both their lives.
"I thought not."
"I didn't say I couldn't."
"Anakin." The look his Master shot him was knowing. "I know you better than that. Leaving your mother took courage, only you couldn't leave her to her fate when the Force showed you what it would be. You chased after her and Barriss, you put all of you in danger by your rash actions and almost cost Barriss her life."
"It worked out in the end."
"And if it hadn't?"
"This is what I mean, Anakin. Luminara and I entered our friendship as younglings, well aware that Jedi serve the people and not their own personal desires."
"Yet you served those too, didn't you - you said it yourself."
"Not without an understanding between us, Anakin." Obi-Wan regarded the younger man solemnly. "Luminara and I had more than your typical friendship, but we entered into that agreement with the knowledge that one of us would likely fall before the other. That we would be asked to give our lives for the very causes we fight to protect. We knew that we could be placed in a position where one of us would have to leave the other behind, sacrificed to save the lives of others."
"You thought it would be you."
"And it wasn't. Could you have made that decision, Anakin? Until you can honestly answer yes, you are not ready for more than what is already between you and Barriss."
"And if she dies before I am ready?"
"Count your blessings." Pushing to his feet, Obi-Wan took two steps away and then turned back. "If you're never ready, then you will not know the ache of that absence, nor what it is to lose someone who not only understood you as a friend, but at your worst."
Anakin was silent until Obi-Wan reached the door. "Did you love her Master?"
One hand reached out to clutch the doorframe as his back went rigid and Obi-Wan paused. It took a moment for him to find his voice to answer. "Not in the way you mean, Anakin. I loved her, but I was not in love with her. I am a Jedi and do not have that luxury - and neither do you. Good night."
Author's note: This turned out differently than I was expecting it to, but I'm actually pretty happy with the final product. Thanks for reading guys!
Oh - this is #1 in a duology of Vignettes about the time between "Tragedy" and the sequel, which will be called "Balance". The Next Vig is for all you Barriss/Anakin fans... to be posted at the end of the month!