Title: Behind Closed Doors
Characters: Obi-Wan (35) /Anakin (20)
Summary: Obi-Wan learns the truth of Anakin's time on Tatooine.
Disclaimer: The characters (Obi-Wan and Anakin) belong to Lucas. I make no profit from this. It's just a hobby.
Author's Note: This was originally posted at theforceDOTnet. (Please do not archive without obtaining permission first.)
Behind Closed Doors
Leaning against the open doorway leading to the flight deck, I watch as my padawan once again switches tools in an attempt to fasten the new part onto the underside of the ship. Working with machinery has always been his source of comfort, his source of peace. A place where he achieves the tranquility he hungrily craves but cannot find through meditation.
His movements are restless and agitated. When he arrived home from his final escort mission to Naboo, he seemed almost at ease with himself and the world around him. Over the course of the last few months his restlessness has once again come to the surface. He spends every moment of his spare time, when not in training or in the field, involved in some type of project. The Temple mechanics haven't been able to stop talking about how much help he has been in fixing the ships that have been damaged due to the war.
Anakin shifts onto his side and with the aid of the force, he pulls the small tool chest closer to his work area. His hand rummages through the many differently shaped items before grasping an odd angled welding tool. The brightness from the blue white glare causes my eyes to glance away until he is finished.
From my peripheral I see him pause several times before being satisfied that the part is firmly secured in place. Without thought, I stretch my conscious toward his seeking the comfort of his presence through our bond. What I find instead are tightly secured shields blocking my attempt at contact.
He thinks I don't know what really happened. He believes me to be 'left in the dark' so to speak. And perhaps I am in a way; all I really have are my suspicions. He hasn't told me of his time on Tatooine other than to inform me of his mother's death. The anger he barely managed to keep a tight rein on, while telling a limited amount of details, leads me to believe that he blames the Order for her demise. His dreams were well known by the Council. Having dealt with too many sleepless nights in an attempt to comfort him, I brought my padawan before the two lead council members.
Masters Yoda and Windu were of no help in Anakin's eyes. He saw their assessment of his visions, as he termed them, as being nothing more than mere dreams that would – in time – pass away without further thought. I too had come to believe that perhaps they were only dreams. My own master had never placed any significance in dreams as his talent had lain within the Living Force, not the Unifying, where my gift and Anakin's lie. The Council failed him in this, as did I.
I hear him cry at night when he believes no one can see or hear. I feel the grief he tries so desperately to keep from me. Does he not know that I understand his plight? Throughout my years as a Jedi and especially during this war, I have seen many friends slain. My mind drifts a moment, wondering if Anakin remembers that I too lost my only parent. And then I realize that perhaps our limited time with him wasn't the best show of our relationship. What my padawan witnessed during the last leg of our Naboo mission was the tension that lay between my master and I due to our differing opinions of a young boy's future. Perhaps I should explain that grief is an emotion that I am well familiar with. If I know anything of my apprentice, it is that he blames himself for not being more forward in the desire to go to his mother.
And yet, I am partly to blame to. I have not allowed my padawan the extension of having a master like Qui-Gon Jinn. So many times I have wondered if my master would have been the better choice in training him. And then I hear the Force whisper that it is I who has been chosen, that it is I who can make the difference in this child's life. But is it too late? For ten years I have sheltered and protected him, guided and followed him, praised and reprimanded his actions. Had I ever truly shown him what he has meant to me as a friend and brother and when he was younger, my child? We have both grown and yet the distance that separates us though once narrow, is now the width of a great canyon.
Is it too late to reach across the gorge to take his hand and lead him back to my side? Is it too late to offer direction in his relationship with the senator? Yes, I know of his attraction to her, and I know of what they have done.
Tell him, the guiding voice I have listened to for so long directs. For too long it has asked and pleaded with me to be more open, to be more rebellious in certain areas but I always stayed my hand and refused to acknowledge the will of the one entity that has repeatedly tried to mend the rift that I have been so blind to. Or perhaps I haven't been blinded. Perhaps I've been too wrapped up in a grief that I thought I had gotten over long ago.
Nodding in agreement, I once again reach out to my padawan only this time he acknowledges my presence. He rolls from beneath the fighter. Sitting up, he replaces the tools and wipes his hands on a stained cloth in an attempt to partially clean some of the grease and grime away.
He catches my gaze as I study him from my post; his eyes narrow slightly and then look away. He rises from his seated position and walks toward me.
Without a word, I turn and walk toward our quarters knowing that he will follow.
The trek home was silent at best, both of us keeping our thoughts to ourselves. Hanging my robe on the hook next to the entrance, I turn to see that Anakin has entered and is staring off into the distance beyond the balcony door.
Making my way to the kitchen, I rummage through the cabinets a moment before pulling out the tea and cups. Filling the familiar container with water and setting it on to the heating unit, I wait for the water to boil.
Anakin isn't much one for the various herbal teas that I acquired a taste for while under Qui-Gon's tutelage, but he humors me nonetheless.
He watches the city traffic speed by determined not to make a sound. His posture is tense and his senses are bouncing chaotically throughout the room as if he's waiting for some threat to make itself known. My brow furrows in worry. "Anakin?"
His shoulders rise slightly with the deep breath he has just inhaled. Turning to face me, he answers, "Yes?"
Gesturing toward the seat at the kitchen table, I silently ask that he sit down.
He looks toward the empty chair as if it were his doom. Hesitantly, he moves forward and takes the offered seat. His hands rest atop the table nervously entwining the fingers of his real hand with the long metallic ones of his artificial one and then releasing them to lay his palms flat; a repeated gesture that ceases when I sit down across from him.
He looks up, his eyes capturing mine. The intensity of them causes me to mentally take a step back. The kettle whistles, signaling that it's ready for tea. Rising from my seat, I remove the canister from the heating unit, add the tea and pour two cups.
Settling Anakin's in front of him, I watch as he grasps the warm cup with one hand while running the other through his hair. Settling myself down, I take a sip before responding to his silence.
"Are you all right?" I question as I set my cup down. A soft knock echoes slightly from the contact between the mug and the table.
Both hands hold onto his cup as he turns it around. "I'm fine; why do you ask?" he responds, his eyes briefly coming up to make contact before sliding back to study the porcelain within his grasp.
"You seem restless."
"We've been here for months, Master. There's a war going on out there and we're stuck here," frustration leads his words.
"Don't!" he snaps not noticing the now warm liquid in the cup between his hands splashing over the side. "Don't lecture me about a Jedi not seeking adventure because that's not what this is about!"
Waiting until he has regained a semblance of control, I respond, "What is this about then?"
Shaking his head, he releases the cup and runs his hands across the table palms down. "I hate it when you do that." A ghost of a smile escapes but is quickly reined in.
"What would that be, padawan?"
"That," he emphasizes the answer with a gesture of his hand. "Why did you bring me here? What's going on in that dusty old attic of yours?"
Grinning, I allow the barb while gathering my thoughts. "You've been distant since we've arrived back from Geonosis, Anakin…." trailing off I wait to see if he will pick up. He doesn't.
He scans the room, looking anywhere but me. "I understand a lot has happened since our mission to protect Senator Amidala but it isn't like you to close yourself off this completely."
His eyes dart to mine. "You understand? You have no idea."
"Then why don't you tell me."
Standing up, the chair forcefully falls behind him. Standing there he gauges my reaction, not receiving what he thought would be a reprimand for his quick temper he turns his back and walks over to the counter. His hands come to rest atop the ceramic surface, a slight clicking sound as his artificial hand touches the delicate countertop. Leaning forward on his arms, he shakes his head. "You don't know what it's like to have someone you love die right in front of you." He steps back; his hands absently rub against one another as if trying to remove something he may have picked up from the countertop.
Lowering my gaze to the table's surface, I release the cup I've been holding tightly to and push it aside. Raising my gaze (my eyes somewhat moist) to look his direction, I reply, "Do you not remember my own master's death, Anakin? Do you not remember Qui-Gon's funeral?"
Anakin nodded. "I remember. But he was just your mentor, your instructor," he said as he turned toward me. "He wasn't anything of consequence."
Faster than Anakin could've thought possible, I was out of my chair and pinning him against the cabinets, my hands at his throat. "You will not disrespect the dead, do you understand?"
Swallowing with difficulty as my grip had yet to loosen, he struggled to nod, his eyes wide with confusion and pain.
Realizing the example I was setting, I released my hold and stepped back. "Qui-Gon was the closest thing to a father I could've had, Anakin. He wasn't just a mentoras you so callously label him. He raised me and all that implies," the tone of my voice is firm with no room for reproach.
Seeing a pained expression briefly cross Anakin's features before quickly being schooled into a more serene expression, I exit the kitchen and walk into the common area. This is becoming harder than I had imagined.
Quite some time went by before Anakin entered. He didn't speak but sat down and waited. Closing my eyes, I took a leap. "I know what it's like to lose a parent, padawan, surrogate maybe but a parent in every aspect that counts. I also know what it's like to hold him in my arms and watch as the life drains out of him, to feel his body become limp and as time passes his skin cool to the touch."
A tear courses its way down Anakin's cheek, but only one. "You never really told me what happened," he said.
Our eyes met; the sincere wish to know more was evident in the way he allowed his emotions to surface, as does the apology for dismissing my master as nothing more than a tool I used to learn from.
"During the battle," I begin, having wished many times – with everything I am – that I would never have to relive this again. "I was knocked off the catwalk. I barely managed to catch one farther down. Hoisting myself up, I found my lightsaber and looked for Qui-Gon and the atrocity we were fighting. They were one level up moving toward a corridor with multiple energy shields. Force jumping onto the deck they were on, I ran toward them only to be caught by the last shield, blocked from the impending duel. Time seemed to slow as we waited for them to cycle down, inching by as if it had nothing better to do than to make us wait and wonder. Master knelt in the midst of it and entered into a meditative trance–"
"He meditated?! He let his defenses down?!" Anakin's look of utter disbelief had been echoed within my own thoughts long ago.
"Qui-Gon was able to meditate anywhere in any circumstance. A level I still do not believe I have reached, but steadily work towards."
"You're one of the most annoyingly calm people I have met, Master. Then what happened?"
"The barriers cycled off and Master Qui-Gon and the Sith began as if there had never been a pause. I raced down the passage but was again caught by the generator shields. I was trapped one cell away from the fight. Qui-Gon held his own until the Sith caught him off guard with a hit to the face. That was…when he was run through," I finish, the anger and anguish of the moment so fresh within my mind as if it had happened yesterday.
Taking a deep breath, I conclude the events, "After I was freed from my temporary prison, I struck out in anger. I wanted that monster to pay for what he had done. I didn't have to think about each move they came so naturally, so aggressively. He ended up getting ahead when he force shoved me into the pit. While hanging from an outcrop, I managed to calm my mind enough to hear Qui-Gon calling to me, offering strength with a hint of fear for my well-being. I was able to regain my center and strike the Sith down."
"Why was Qui-Gon fearing for you, Master?"
"He didn't want me to follow the same path his first apprentice traveled."
With Anakin's questioning glance, I decided to explain, "Qui-Gon's first apprentice turned to the dark side. I won't go into detail; we'll save that for some other time. Just know that it hurt him deeply. So deeply in fact that he nearly didn't accept me for training."
Anakin's eyes widened and I was somewhat pleased to sense the sadness that he had been harboring, along with the anger, melt away because something else had momentarily taken it's place; a part of my youth he had never heard before. I haven't shared my past with my padawan, not all the details. He only knows of events that I have shared in which I felt would help his training along and even those snippets have been limited in quality.
Seeing that Anakin was still trying to absorb the information he had just received, I decided to give him a bit more. "For many years and possibly even now, I have felt that it was my fault that he died."
Anakin wrapped his arms around himself as if to ward off a phantom chill. He leaned forward in his chair and listened intently. I would have laughed at the undeterred attention he paid, but this wasn't the time or the situation for such.
"I wasn't fast enough. If I had jumped sooner or if I hadn't been thrown from the walkway or I had somehow been able to find the controls to the shields; if I had just run faster then Qui-Gon would still be alive. If I had trained as a healer instead of a warrior, or if I had combined the knowledge of the two then he might have lived. For years I relived that event every night. My dreams were caught up in what I could've done better or what the Force could've done to prevent such an occurrence from happening. I kept thinking that it should have been him that trained you, that he could have done a better job. That he would have given you what you needed, he would have taken you to your mother," my vision blurred, but no tears fell. "I wasn't fast enough, padawan.
Anakin's hands gripped opposite arms, the knuckles on his real hand white from the pressure he was inflicting. His eyes were glistening, but his cheeks were dry. "I wasn't strong enough," he whispered, his gaze distant and unfocused.
"What?" I question gently, not wanting to disturb this moment, a moment when he may finally open up to me.
"After we arrived on Tatooine, I went to Watto's shop to see my mother only to find out that he had sold her to Cliegg Lars. Watto gave us directions to the homestead but when we got there, Cliegg told us the Tusken's had taken my mother and they had been unable to bring her back. When I left, all I could think about was the day that I had left her. Maybe if I hadn't left I could have protected her," Anakin paused, taking a deep breath. I could see the fallacy of that thought and after studying him, I saw that he could too.
A cool breeze passes by. The moment is crucial, padawan. Listen, do not instruct. The well placed advice is taken to heart, as I remain silent. He needs me to listen, not teach.
"I made it to the encampment late that night. When I found her, she was bound within one of the tents. She was the most beautiful site I had seen in so long," he released the death grip he had on his upper arms and clasped his hands together. "When I took her from the frame she had been tied to, she all but fell against me. She was so weak that she could barely speak. I held her begging her to stay, asking that she just hold on. I knew I could get us out of there but I couldn't move her…she was so weak. She told me that she was proud of me, that she loved me, and then she was gone. I couldn't hold on to her, she kept slipping through my grasp, every time I tried to hold onto her she would slip away," Anakin quieted, his head resting within the palms of his hands, his elbows resting upon his knees. A tear falls from its precarious position on his chin landing on the toe of his boot, splashing up and out as it makes contact. "I couldn't save her, Master," he looks up, a questioning doubt lingering in his eye. "I wasn't strong enough to save her."
Reaching over, I place a hand upon his shoulder. "How were you not strong enough, Anakin?"
Shaking his head, he rises from the chair and paces the common room. "Me, the Force, my ability to harness it, I don't know!" He throws his hands in the air with exasperation trying to come to some conclusion as to what part of him wasn't strong enough to save his mother. "When I," he stops pacing and raises the hand encased in flesh; he stares at it, it clenches into a fist and then releases. His silence is deafening.
"When you what, padawan?" I prod as he seems to have become a statue.
He turns to look at me, his hand dropping to his side. He shakes his head as he assures me, "Nothing. It's nothing."
Standing, I make my way to him and grasp his arms. "If it's something that haunts you or makes you question you're path or even if it's just something simple, then it is not nothing."
"I can't," his voice is low, slightly quivering with an obvious remembrance that he would like nothing more than to forget.
"I can't help you unless you tell me," my grasp on his arms gently tighten, refusing to release him to the nightmares I know still occur.
He pulls back but doesn't break my hold. "I can't tell you. You wouldn't understand; you would walk away. The Jedi would expel me." The desperation in his voice raises a notch; he jerks from my grasp and turns for the door.
I step around him effectively blocking his only exit. "It looks to me as if you're the one walking away. You may believe you know me, young one, but there is much about me that would surprise you. Don't attempt to gauge my reaction based on the only image you seem to have of me." My peace said, I stand and wait as he weighs my words, his gaze desperately seeking something within my own. Lowering my shields, I allow him access to areas that I have long kept hidden and private. His eyes widen slightly, surprise, disbelief, and finally, acceptance. He lowers his head slightly, nods to himself and then looks back.
"I killed them," he whispers. "I allowed my anger and hurt, my sadness and overwhelming fear to lead my actions." Steadily searching, watching, for the moment my reaction will reach that of what he fears most, abandonment. "I avenged my mother's death with the total annihilation of the camp. Every being: every man, woman, and child was struck down by my blade, by my hand."
I steady myself, refusing the automatic reactions that begin to rise. Shock, revulsion, disbelief that the little boy I raised could be so callous as to strike out and cut down innocent beings that had nothing to do with his mother's entrapment: the women and the children. My eyes betray nothing. The deep-seated lessons I have learned since birth does me credit in hiding the nauseating disgust that rises as a result of my mind's possible imagery of what the scene may have looked like. The attempt to take over, to call down my padawan and rebuke him for his misdeeds is strong as is my duty as a Jedi Master. But then I would be playing into his hands, becoming the very person he felt he couldn't trust with this knowledge. I knew. I knew before he said the words but hearing them from his perspective, from his emotional standpoint, I now know I wasn't as prepared as I had thought.
"After, I did what my mother had always told me," he continued, breaking me from my thoughts. "I didn't look back. I went to the tent, wrapped her body and took her home." His voice is now emotionless as if citing this from a book he had read.
I reach out to him and he steps away. "Isn't this where you run to the council and tell them that I fell? That I embraced the Darkside for a short time and found it to be strength when I wasn't strong enough? Isn't this the moment when you turn from me and walk away?!" Tears were now coursing down his cheeks. "I've broken the Code, Obi-Wan. I've turned away from the Jedi's teachings, I've –" he stops and once again shakes his head as if trying to clear out all the thoughts that have entangled themselves together in an attempt to rush out an opening too small for the massive knot.
"There's more," I say, giving him time to calm his breathing and his mind.
He laughs, but there is no humor or joy in the sound. "Yes," he agrees, "There is more." His eyes meet mine and he shrugs. "How much more can you stomach?"
"As much as you are able to tell me," I answer, taking a seat in the chair located nearest the door. The action, as well as the reason behind it, doesn't go unnoticed.
"Afraid I'll try to leave again?"
"Perhaps," I answer, offering a small smile.
Anakin paces the room before stopping in front of the opening that leads to the balcony. "I meant it when I said I broke the Code, Master."
He pauses and waits. When I say nothing, he continues, "I formed an attachment."
"The Senator, Amidala," I respond.
"Yes and no." At my confused expression, he explains, "Senator Amidala Skywalker," he concludes. "We were married when I escorted her back to Naboo."
Nodding, I surprise him. "I figured as much."
His brow furrows and he walks toward me. "How? We didn't tell anyone."
"You didn't have to, Anakin. I've seen you together. Your act of a professional relationship does little to hide what lies in your eyes and in your case, the window to your heart and soul."
"So you knew and you didn't say anything?"
"Why would I?"
He stops suddenly and sits down across from me. "Did you know about Tatooine?"
"I had my suspicions. As I said, your eyes have always been a well of information to me. That is, after I learned to look."
He's silent. Sitting forward, I attempt to comfort him, an odd thing my mind tells me as I should be hauling him before the Council, reprimanding him for his actions, expelling him from the Order. But my heart contradicts those formalities and I offer this instead. "Even though I had found my way back while hanging in that pit, I know that I avenged Qui-Gon's death, that's how I still see it. I don't see what the Council sees or believe what the soul healers have told me. I didn't strike down an enemy, a threat to the Jedi because it was what needed to be done; I struck down the monstrosity that killed my master. I don't know if that makes it right or wrong. I don't know if that makes me less of a Jedi but I do know that the Force still inhabits my very being and that my thoughts and actions are still led by those of the Light…." I pause a moment, trying to consider how to continue.
"There are still trials, Anakin. I go through them with each and every mission as well as during my time here at the Temple. And this war is something that has triggered many emotions within me, has tried my patience and strength of will time and again, feelings that have many times cried out for the power I felt when fighting the Sith. I choose to ignore it," I finish, hoping that he will somehow understand what I have tried to say.
"And as for you and Senator Ami…Skywalker, I choose not to interfere as long as it doesn't impede with your present course."
Anakin's look of utter disbelief is almost amusing. "You're not going to…no reprimand, no…"
"No. I cannot lecture you on things I have done myself, even as far away as those things seem to me now."
Anakin sits a moment, a quiet reflection upon his face. He smiles as a revelation comes to him. "Things you have done yourself? Who was, or is, your attachment, Master?"
"You know her quite well, actually. Besides, that's not up for discussion." His expression falls as he hears the warning within my words. He knows that will be the end of it; that part of my life is off limits. Feeling as though I was too sharp with him, I amend, "The situation is best left alone for now. There are many things that need to be worked out."
Nodding as if he understands what is not being said, he takes a deep breath. His posture is relaxed and the light that once adorned his eyes is returning. Not as brightly as before but returning nonetheless.
"Anakin, I need you to promise me something," I begin. "I need you to promise me that you will not give into the Darkside, and if you do tap its power for even a moment, you will not remain there. I need you to promise me that you will always reach for the Light."
"As long as I have your guidance and understanding, Obi-Wan, I don't think it will be a problem."
"I will not always be here young one. There will come a day when you will have to face this life on your own."
He smiles. "When that occurs, I promise to heed your words, Master."
His answer wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. There is a long road ahead of him if he is to make it back from the abyss he fell into while on Tatooine. I will be here for him as long as he will allow me to do so and I will see him through this. I don't tell him of my musings, instead I answer, "That is all I ask."
Rubbing his hands together with barely contained energy, he stands and walks over to stand in front of me. "Now, are you going to allow me passage to leave or do I have to sit here and poor out my heart some more?" The twinkle in his eye is contagious causing a slight laugh escape me.
"How about a round in the training sallé, no holds bar?" I question as I stand and lead him to the door.
Grinning in delight, he responds, "I thought you'd never ask."
Our paces are evenly matched; side by side we journey toward the gymnasium. Everything isn't fixed between us, there have been too many years of underlying tension and mistrust, but a step has been taken and in that lies hope.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the story! :-) Reviews would be greatly appreciated!