Remember how I said a month would be the longest wait about six months ago? I'm really, really bad with time. Also, I ship it again. :)
Tatooine was a wretched, miserable hunk of rock floating in its own filthy corner of the galaxy. A slave planet, run by slimy Hutt lords and home to the vile Sand People who terrorized the scant inhabitants unable to live anywhere else. Only the filthiest of scum willingly chose to live there, hiding like cowards from whatever cruel deed sent them scuttling to lay low in the most despicable rock the galaxy chose to recognize as a planet.
Anakin fit right in.
The bar was unusually crowded tonight; beings from moisture farmers to bounty hunters gathering in one of the few meeting places Mos Eisley had to offer. Anakin sat in the darkest, most isolated corner the bar had to offer, his robotic hand clasped loosely around a glass of hard liquor. The planet's two suns had long since been replaced by its three moons, and the only light in the dank, putrid place was the dull glow of the overhead lights and the Holonet player.
From under the hood of his cloak, Anakin could see the smiling visage of the Republic's new Chancellor addressing the public. Bail Organa had been the hot topic around the galaxy since his election into office, the Holonet abuzz with his promises of reform—rebuilding civilizations torn down by the Empire, sending food and supplies to war-ravished planets, reinstating the Jedi Order as the galaxy's peacekeepers. After a year of being ruled by the Sith, the public was all too happy to follow his lead.
Not that Anakin had a problem with that. He'd always liked Bail more than the other senators (excluding the, ahem, incident from a month ago).
Behind Bail stood three achingly familiar faces. Mace Windu, with his scarred eye and bionic hand that made Anakin cringe with guilt. The ever-elusive Master Yoda, whose complete disappearance without a trace had driven Sidious mad (rumors swirled about the Grandmaster's whereabouts, yet he was never found. All for the best, Anakin realized now).
Obi-Wan, dressed in his former cream tunics and brown robe, hands lightly crossed at the small of his back, standing as prim and proper as ever just off the Chancellor's left shoulder. His lips were quirked upwards in that oh-so-familiar half grin, blue eyes sparkling with mirth even through the Holonet viewer. Anakin's heart clenched as the camera angle cut to just Obi-Wan and Bail, two smiling, champion keepers of order, heroes to the Galactic Republic. He looked away, feeling nauseous.
Anakin had fled to Tatooine after Palpatine's death and the fight with Windu and Vos, newly returned from the Dark Side, nearly insane with guilt and horror at his own actions. Tatooine, in Anakin's mind, was his punishment. The planet he swore he'd never step foot on again, where memories of slavery and his mother's death ran rampant in his mind. He would spend the rest of his miserable days he wallowing in his own guilt and self-pity, exiled from the universe and any forms of comfort. Anakin knew he didn't deserve to live even in such a vile place like this, but he was too much of a coward to face his wrongdoings. Part of him wanted to turn himself in, to let the Republic and the Jedi take their revenge against his atrocious actions as their saw fit. The other part, the part that was still just a bit too steeped in Dark Side, selfishly wanted to keep his life intact and free from the tortures that were sure to come should he ever fall into Republic hands.
There was a tiny corner of his mind that gave another reason for his unwillingness to turn himself over, but Anakin squashed it down without mercy. Because if he allowed himself to think of Obi-Wan, of the horrible things he'd put him through, Anakin very well might just break down then and there. Obi-Wan had been his brother, his friend, the only one he still lo—was attached to. The very thought of having to face his former master again made him want to throw up.
So he stayed put on his homeworld, making a small living in a hovel on the edge of the Dune Sea, choked by remorseful memories during the day and reliving the mistakes of his past at night. As long as he kept his head down and his hood up, no one could recognize that the mysterious man appeared in the town's bars every so often was the sought-after Lord Vader, whose head had a bounty of nearly a million credits commissioned by the Republic.
Anakin downed his drink in one gulp, slamming the glass on the table hard enough to crack it.
"I'm sure we all know why we have met here today," Mace began, looking around at the three other Jedi council members in the room. Shaak, Quinlan and Yoda stood encircled around him in the center of the Council Chambers, as the chairs were still broken and charred from the attack on the temple. Blaster scars littered the floor and walls; one window had been replaced entirely. The heavy weight of the younglings slaughtered by Vader permeated the air. Mace repressed a shudder.
"No, but since there's only us four, I'm gonna take a wild guess and say it has something to do with either Kenobi or Skywalker. Or both." Quinlan folded his arms over his broad chest as he spoke. As carefree and aloof as his reputation was, Quinlan was obviously worried for his friend. Obi-Wan had only been allowed to leave the Healer's Ward the prior week, having been kept there to make sure he had not been tainted with the Dark Side from his long year spent in the company of Sith. Physically, he was fine—cuts and bruises healed well with a little bacta, and the effect of the Force lightning had vanished after a few days' rest. Mentally, however—no one was certain. Shadows lingered in the normally calm blue depths of his eyes that were ringed by dark circles, the occasional shudder wracking his too-thin frame. He flinched sharply at sudden loud noises or unannounced touches. Obi-Wan's personality was intact; the same charm, wit and kindness that made up the man that was Obi-Wan Kenobi continued to show through. But there were times where he would fall silent, eyes clouded, mind distant and wandering.
It was worrisome, to say the least.
"Troubled, young Kenobi's mind is," Yoda grunted, "To terms with his ordeal he has not come. Still occupy his mind, Skywalker does."
Quinlan snorted, "He's claiming Anakin saved him when he killed Palpatine. Windu and I didn't get there in time to see it, so we don't know if that's true, but Obi-Wan's convinced Anakin's good again."
"Hmm. Let go of his attachment to his apprentice, Obi-Wan has not."
Shaak's eyebrows furrowed. "We know they were together for a large amount of the time Obi-Wan was his prisoner," she said carefully, "Perhaps what we're seeing is some sort of brainwashing? They had the emotional attachment before the Purge, that we know. Perhaps Skywalker used this to his advantage somehow."
Mace frowned. "In any case, we need to keep an eye on him. We have had no success with our hunt for Vader, and I fear Obi-Wan may try to see him out himself." Mace refused to call Anakin anything but Vader; in his eyes, the Sith would always be just that—a Sith.
"How about we have a couple people volunteer to make sure he doesn't go off and do something stupid—"Obi-Wan Watch", we'll call it," Quinlan suggested with a smirk, "Us, Bant, Garen—even the Chancellor could help out with making sure he has someone to talk to."
Shaak nodded her agreement. "Unless he is in his quarters or in an otherwise secure environment, one person will be with him at all time. We cannot allow him to go after Skywalker."
"Not yet, at least," Quinlan grumbled under his breath.
"Agreed," Mace said, ignoring Quinlan's addition, "I will contact Knights Eerin and Muln immediately."
Quinlan turned to leave. "I'll get first watch," he called over his shoulder. Shaak bowed and followed him, leaving the room along with the two men left in it muffled by silence. The last rays of sunlight were just receding across the scorch-marked floor when Yoda spoke again.
"Let go of Skywalker, Obi-Wan will not," he mused, ears drooping sadly. After that day in his quarters, when Obi-Wan had broken down and revealed every detail of his ordeal to Yoda, the Grandmaster had spent days immersed in meditation, seeking an answer through the still muddled Force. So far, none had yet arisen.
"He will in time," Mace assured him, "Obi-Wan has been through far too much. We need to give him time to heal first."
Yoda nodded, silently disagreeing with the other Jedi. His feelings told him otherwise.
"Then give him time, we will.
I blame the new teaser for Episode VII for my sudden and all-encompassing revived obsession in Star Wars and my rewatch of the Clone Wars for helping write this next chapter. I should have a couple more coming (this time I am not putting a time frame on it because, as we all know, AxO loves to lie about that) and after that I have a few oneshot and multi-chapter fic ideas that should be coming fairly soon.
It's been brought to my attention that certain chapters of this fic aren't very well done (aka chapter 10, which I totally agree) and after a read through I was wondering if anyone would mind if I rewrote this fic? I feel like my writing has strengthened since I started this and I would love to see how much better I could make it, but I guess my question is would any of you read it or would you like me to just keep going and end this one as it is? Please review your thoughts, and I'll try my hardest to get another chapter posted soon!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! :)
EDIT: If I'm being a butt and forget to update anything, and you've already reviewed or something, PM me or send me an ask on tumblr ( .com) and I'll respond (I'm a lot better at responding to people than updating, trust me :P)