Author's Note: This is set during the story arc of The Clone Wars where the Jedi fake Obi-Wan's death so he can go undercover, without telling Anakin it was faked. This was written to show not only how Anakin felt about Obi-Wan's "death" but basically just to shed light on how I feel about their relationship in general. And more or less, it's just me getting my feels out (not that it really helped of course, cry with me guys).
I'm serious, though. If you haven't read the ROTS novel or watched the Clone Wars, at least these episodes, you really should. They're...just beautiful. BEAUTIFUL.
Disclaimer: Everything here belongs to George Lucas and Matthew Stover and a bunch of other guys.
The Storm is Here
"That is the kind of fear that lives inside Anakin Skywalker: the dragon of that dead star. It is an ancient, cold dead voice within his heart that whispers all things die...
"In bright day he can't hear it; a battle, a mission, even a report before the Jedi Council, can make him forget it's even there. But at night –
"At night, the walls he has built sometimes start to frost over. Sometimes they start to crack." -Revenge of the Sith novelization by Matthew Stover
Anakin gripped the two steering yokes of his fighter so hard the skin on his human knuckles stretched white. He kept his gaze firmly ahead, his eyes focused on the invisible path he was following, breathing in and out with the hum that the twin engines rumbled, obscured by layers of the thick yellow-painted durasteel of the Jedi Interceptor.
In, and out. In, and out.
It was all he could do to even hope to keep himself steady.
This way, he could become one with his ship; he piloted it as smoothly as he moved on his own feet. The control panel was his brain, the yokes he gripped were simple extensions of his arms. He blended into the chair so deeply that he was one with it. R2-D2 in the droid socket did the thinking for him. The only thing he no longer had was his heart. But he didn't need it, anyway. Droids got along fine without them, didn't they?
Anything, anything at all to get away from that stuffy and regal Jedi temple. Anything to get away from the Masters who looked down on him for being reckless and too old to have started his training, anything to get away from the younglings that admired him for the hero he knew he wasn't.
The Hero With No Fear, they called him. What a load of poodoo. He wasn't a hero. He never had been, really. He had thought he was, but it was just an illusion. And the people who looked at his figure on the Holonet would never imagine how much fear was buried in his heart.
He had never hated that nickname more than he did now.
Was it the Hero With No Fear that had led hundreds of clones to their deaths in this war? Was it the Hero With No Fear who stood by while so many Jedi were killed just because he had obliged the Council and not gone in with his assistance? Was it the Hero With No Fear who slaughtered an entire tribe of Tusken Raiders in the triple moonlight of Tatooine? He gritted his teeth. No, but they had deserved it.
Was it this hero that had failed to protect his mother, his master, and now was fleeing as far away from the Jedi Temple he could get, all because of the things he knew he was too afraid to feel?
He wished they were right. He wished he could do all the things the Jedi told him to do: let go of his fear, his anger, his attachments. But it wasn't as simple as that, was it? They always told him what to do; they never told him how. They never understood. They would never understand.
And there they were now, after the funeral of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was so much more of a hero than Anakin Skywalker ever would be. All those Jedi, simply accepting what had happened and moving on. No regrets, no doubts, no remorse. Nothing. No emotions. No attachments.
That would never be him. He lived with his emotion. He lived for his emotion. Anakin Skywalker was driven by his emotion. It was how he always managed to save the day. It was the reason that he was given that stupid nickname in the first place. He had saved so many lives with this shameless determination, but Obi-Wan had always reminded him:
"You cannot save everyone, Anakin. I know you think you can, but you can't."
Anakin could hear his voice. It echoed through his mind, through this starfighter that he shared his body and mind and soul with; it would never leave him. It would guide him, lead him, remind him, pester him, and now it would haunt him. A living memory of yet another life form that he couldn't save.
Then what was the point of him?
To disappoint? But who was he disappointing, if everyone thought of him as the hero? Himself?
It was like his life was a lie. A deception, a pointless enigma, a shadow of someone who had once known laughter and friendship and love – what was the point of him?
There was only one person who had ever seen beneath his brave facades. One person who was there for him, at any hour of any day of any year for the last almost thirteen years. There had only ever been one person who knew what went on behind the Holonet as well as he did, and it was never and would never be Padmé, or Palpatine, or Ahsoka, or even his mother all those years ago. It was Obi-Wan.
Anakin furrowed his eyebrows, and slammed his starfighter forward with a thrust forward of his hands on the steering controls. He embraced that lightheaded sensation, that rush, that flying frenzy of being miles above the silicate surface, miles above even some of the tallest skyscrapers. Miles above all the people who didn't even give a second thought to the fact that the most admirable man, the best Jedi, and the greatest friend in the galaxy, was...
Vaguely, Anakin heard a fweeeep! from the droid socket and glanced at the translation screen: AND YOU SAY I'M THE RECKLESS ONE.
Despite himself, Anakin snorted. Good old Artoo. Maybe heartless, thoughtless droids had the right idea. They didn't know pain. How could they? For a long moment, Anakin considered what it would be like if more than just his right forearm and hand were robotic. Everything would be a lot easier.
"I know, Artoo," he said tiredly, more to himself than to the droid. "Obi-Wan always said you're just a machine, but he never took time to learn more than two phrases of binary."
As he should have expected, another rush of emotion came upon him. Instead of roughly abusing his fighter, this time he just swallowed thickly. Forced the pain down and locked it into the deepest reaches of his brain.
It never worked.
He leaned over and glanced down towards the planet's surface. Brown. Black. Colorless factories, pillars and columns emitting yellow smoke into the already permanently damaged Coruscanti atmosphere.
He hated this planet.
He pressed on, tilted the control yokes downward so he fell into a gradual decline towards the planet. He was thousands of miles away from the Jedi Temple and Senate area now, he was sure, steadily flying through the more residential part of Coruscant. He wanted to leave, get out of the atmosphere and break into hyperspace and head for another planet, another sector, another galaxy, somewhere where no one could possibly know him and he could just have a while to himself. But that was hopeless.
Anakin reached out and pressed a few buttons on the control panel screen, searching for a map of the nearby features of the planet. He just wanted somewhere to breathe, somewhere without toxic fumes and milling people and Holonet cameras, no Jedi and no scanners and no politicians or life forms of any sort. A small, abandoned landing platform popped up onto the screen: an area belonging to no one, an old surface probably used for refueling but now nothing more than a rest stop of sorts for people who needed to get away. People like him.
"Artoo," he said, "Lock onto this landing platform and set a course directly for it."
Wooooo... Artoo tootled, and Anakin mentally thanked him for not asking what was wrong. Artoo knew, somehow. Understood. As much as a droid could, at least.
Anakin set the interceptor lightly on the steel of the landing platform, felt himself touch down as one unit with the ship. He waited a moment, gathering himself, before pressing one button to his left and opening the hatch of the viewport. He undid the safety belt, stood up, and hopped out of the fighter.
It wasn't until his feet were planted firmly on the artificial ground that he truly just...stopped. Considered. Observed, for once. Stopped to think. All the things Obi-Wan always told him to do, but he had always ignored. He had always just rushed into action without any regard for his own safety.
As the wind whipped his hair lightly and howled softly, Anakin leaned his mechno-arm on the warm yellow side of his starfighter and sighed. Artoo wiggled out of the lock that had kept him firmly in place when the fighter was in motion.
"What are we doing there, Artoo?" he muttered, getting a whistle in response as he ran a human hand through his light brown hair.
"Obi-Wan would be scolding me right now...telling me I must learn to let go, Anakin!" he said in a perfect impression of Obi-Wan's elegant Coruscanti accent. "But I...I can't..."
He took his arm off the fighter and sat down on the flat wing. It creaked under his weight, but remained standing. Behind him, he heard a buzz as Artoo fiddled with something he couldn't see. Artoo always thought he knew the fighter better than Anakin did – and hey, the little astromech probably did. They were a pair of mechanics, together they could fix anything, together –
He shuddered suddenly, pulling his robes tighter around him. The wind was still whipping at the hems of the cloth near the artificial floor as he leaned over and put his head in his hands. The human one was hot and slightly sweaty, the mechno cold and hard. It didn't matter. None of it mattered. Nothing.
"What are we doing here..." he mumbled again, this time to himself.
He closed his eyes. Tried to connect with the Force. That's what Jedi are supposed to do, right? Find within the Force calm and serenity, peace and rationality. The Force was his ally, he was the Force, he –
There was no point. He tried something else.
Instead of trying to find a calm that didn't exist, he instead tried to remember something that made him calm. Something that was the essence of calm. Something that was calm. Something green...something warm, something with water and sunshine and something the opposite of cityscape Coruscant or dusty Tatooine...
Something...like Naboo. Yes, Naboo. The fluffy clouds, the pleasant sunshine, the big marble buildings and the kind, peace-loving people, the serenity that was Naboo. He remembered lying on the grassy plains, picnics with Padmé, the Lake Country... the swamps and the smell of nature that he could never even imagined as a slave boy on Tatooine. And the water. He loved the water. There was none of it on this stupid planet, or his home planet, or any planet that he would ever be able to call home. Because he was a Jedi. And Jedi never got the things they loved.
He shook his head roughly, still leaning over with his hands on his temples. Naboo...remember, he told himself, the smell, the softness, the sunshine, the...the...
There was something else, too, in his memory. There was light, so much light, but in the middle of that light was dark. A dark cloud of terror and fear, one so pounding it threatened to press in on his head and squeeze him until he was thinner than the blades of grass he dreamed of, and there was anger, red hot anger and sorrow, so much sorrow and so much pain, and it didn't end there. There were cries, he could hear them, he didn't know what they were but they were closing in on him, crushing him and he had to help but he couldn't, he couldn't save everyone. He couldn't save everyone, and he couldn't fix anyone.
There was just so much, so much anguish and horror and terror and fear and sorrow and pain and all these horrible, dark, cloudy emotions against a light backdrop, so many emotions that he didn't know one person could be exposed to at once, but he was, because he was the only one of the entire Jedi Order who wouldn't, couldn't, block out his fear. Anakin Skywalker was fear.
And finally, he realized: that dark spot in the light, terror, the anger, the sorrow and pain - it was him. The pressure pounding in on his head was him, his hands were gripping his hair and he hadn't been aware of the tremendous force with which he had been pressing on his temples, trying to squeeze the fear enough that it left him alone. The anger was him, he was angry at the Jedi and at Obi-Wan for leaving him and at himself for not being there to protect the ones he loved and especially at himself for being reduced to this. And the sorrow, and the pain, and the horrible anguish was all him, and the cries that he had heard, he suddenly realized, were coming from himself, too.
Shaking, shivering, freezing down to his core he moved his palms to cover his eyes, and he just sobbed. There was no one to help him, no one to comfort him, no one in this entire universe that could help him now because the only person, the only individual out of trillions of life forms that were living and breathing and functioning and laughing and living were not Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan Kenobi was dead.
He wanted to go back, thirteen years, so that none of this had ever happened. He wanted to be a child again, crying over something silly and his mother would pull him into a hug and tell him everything was okay. He wanted to go back to his simple slave life on Tatooine in an alternate reality where the Jedi had never come, where he had won his freedom by himself and taken his mother off that dust ball and gone to somewhere like Naboo. He wanted his old friends, his old rivals, he wanted to go back to a simple life of fixing his pod to race against that annoying Sebulba, working on C-3PO in his spare time, back to a life where he was just a simple child who didn't know any better, who had nothing but his mother and that was all he needed.
But his mother... His mother was...
He shook even harder, one hand grabbing his hair and tugging at it. He was sobbing again, his shoulders heaving and trembling, and the bitter high-altitude wind was biting at his skin and his robes and his covered metal arm. He felt sick, he wanted it all to end, he wanted to go back in time and fix this all and for the Force's sake he wanted this horrible dragon in his chest to leave him alone!
What was he saying?
He was kidding himself. He was lying. He thought maybe if he said it enough, it would come true - but it was a lie. Plain and simple. He was lying to himself. And lying...he hated when people lied to him.
He didn't really want to go back in time. If given the choice, he knew he would never give up all the chances he's gotten, the completely unlikely probability that the Jedi Council would let someone start their training at any time other than infancy. He was grateful for the training he had received, the exception that had been made for him, grateful that he had been freed from slavery to get a chance that no one, no one in his situation ever would have gotten...
He wouldn't give up the time he had spent with Obi-Wan Kenobi for anything.
Vaguely, as if from another world, Anakin heard wheeeeep! boofweep, beep! behind him, and raised his hands from his eyes. His vision was still distorted by a layer of tears, his nose stuffy and his hair disheveled and his skin clammy, his whole body still shaking and shivering, and for a long moment, he didn't know what to do. But with another binary word from Artoo, he turned around partially to look at the droid.
The disc that served as Artoo's eye was facing toward him, the red light blinking as he beeped, and finally, a wave of calm seemed to pass over Anakin. Not commanding, all-powerful Force calm, but a strange sort of comfort that he usually only got from Obi-Wan. And this time, the thought of Obi-Wan didn't send as many tears to his eyes. Instead, it helped Anakin to stand up, mutter an "I'm all right, buddy," to Artoo and step back into the starfighter, more than ready to get off this fake landing platform.
As he sat himself back in the cockpit, buckled the restraint and lowered the viewport, he could have sworn, just for a second, that he felt something...something...
It was that same comfort that he always got when Obi-Wan lightly put his hand on Anakin's shoulder...or when he calmly treated Anakin not as a student or as a Jedi, but as a friend. A brother. Like somewhere, Obi-Wan was still with him, feeling his pain, ready to help him and be there for him and be all he needed...
Anakin almost smiled, almost, as he raised the fighter back higher into the atmosphere and set the fastest course for the Jedi Temple, trying to think of an excuse to tell Ahsoka about where he had been.
Brothers...that's what he and Obi-Wan were, weren't they?
And they always would be.
"A Jedi does not cling to the past.
"And Obi-Wan Kenobi knows, too, that to have lived his life without being Master to Anakin Skywalker would have left him a different man. A lesser man. (...)
"He is the ultimate Jedi.
"And he is proud to be Anakin Skywalker's best friend." -Revenge of the Sith novelization by Matthew Stover