Title: No Hiding, No Safe Covers
Artist(s): nerd_girl1138, AKA Rin AKA lady-anakin-skywalker
Fandom(s): Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Word Count: 7446
Characters/Pairings (if any): Anakin Skywalker & Obi-Wan Kenobi
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers to the end of Season 5 of The Clone Wars
Summary: Anakin and Obi-Wan are captured (as ya do), but the Force-inhibitor they are given has a strange effect on Anakin. Obi-Wan is forced (heh) to examine what he knows about his friend, and Anakin is forced to channel and control his powers in order for them both to survive.
Author's Notes: Thank you SO much to Rin for the gorgeous artwork; I am completely in awe of it. Also thank you to citizenjess for the beta and title even though I was rude and told her nothing about the fic whatsoever beforehand. Title comes from "Truce" by Amanda Palmer/The Dresden Dolls.
The agony that came from the first injection was so penetrating and all-consuming that it nearly circled around again to forbidden pleasure. Every nerve ending blazed with fire, every synapse opened to the elements. And the Force…
The injection was meant to keep him from feeling, from manipulating the Force, and yet somehow he could sense not just the Living Force, but the Unifying Force. He could feel the midi-chlorians in everything he touched, in everything that touched him. He could manipulate them and make them become completely different. They obeyed his command, and through his torment, he could make them show him the future. It was a future of flames and pain and loss, but it was the future nonetheless, and it was exhilarating.
All this, without rising from his cot, without opening his eyes.
A sharp cry brought Obi-Wan Kenobi to the bedside of his former apprentice. Without their Force bond, Obi-Wan found himself obliged to use other methods of seeing to the well-being of the young man. "Oh, Anakin," he sighed, and ran his hand over his sweaty brow.
Anakin Skywalker simply moaned and arched away from Obi-Wan's touch. His fever had not subsided, and Obi-Wan was beginning to truly and completely worry about his friend. Although they had been given the same Force-stifling drug, Anakin's reaction had not, to say the least, been the intended one. Although he had no proof and no way to really find out, Obi-Wan had a suspicion that it was Anakin's astronomically high midi-chlorian count that had made him so susceptible. He truly wasn't sure, since Anakin had been given Force-suppressing drugs before, but never to this effect.
He could only hope the drug would begin to wear off soon. He didn't know how much more he – or Anakin – could take of this. The absence of the Force was a dull ache in the back of his head. He felt lost and alone without the humming of life through him, and to be isolated from Anakin like this was torment. While they were frequently separated for missions, the younger man's vivid presence was always there in the back of his mind. Being torn so violently from him now made him think, unpleasantly, of the Rako Hardeen mission, about the pain of being tossed into Force-blankness. It was torture of a kind only a Force user could experience.
"Anakin," he repeated, more for his own sake than his friend's. Anakin moaned softly and turned towards Obi-Wan, his eyes slitting open. Relief rushed through Obi-Wan, making him dizzy, making him lose his focus. No. He should be perfectly capable of worrying about Anakin and dealing with their situation at the same time. He couldn't let his emotions rule him. Even without the Force, he was a Jedi first and foremost.
"M- Master?" Anakin's voice was gravelly, and it was clear just forming that simple word was causing him pain. Obi-Wan felt something reach out from Anakin, and it took a moment to recognize it as a tendril of Living Force. If he could sense it… and if Anakin was projecting it… Obi-Wan reached out and tried to touch Anakin's Force signature, but he couldn't feel anything other than that one thread coming from Anakin.
Obi-Wan gently ran a hand through Anakin's hair. "Rest, Anakin," he instructed. "I'll be right beside you." Just as he always was, and just as Anakin always was for him.
Anakin let out a shuddering sigh. "It hurts," he hissed through clenched teeth. His eyes shot open, and Obi-Wan was horrified to see, instead of Anakin's usual clear gaze, angry red hemorrhages filling the whites and threatening to overtake the blue irises. As those inhuman eyes raked the room, Obi-Wan noticed something strange. Wherever Anakin's gaze landed, small cracks appeared in the stone walls. Could Anakin still harness the power of the Force? Or was this just coincidence – a doomed prison buckling under its own weight while two Jedi were being held captive. Obi-Wan had no idea, and that made him nervous.
The lock on the cell door clanked, and Obi-Wan sprang to his feet, feeling naked without his lightsaber and his ability to tell what was going to be entering their cell. As he had expected, though, it was one of their captors, carrying a wooden tray with steaming bowls and mugs. "You will free us," Obi-Wan commanded, remembering halfway through that he didn't have the power of the Force behind his words. Not that his mind tricks would work on this woman, of course. "We did not come here to do you harm, you must realize that!"
The Witch shook her mangy head. "You think your words convince me, Jedi?" she snarled, placing the tray on the floor. "Your kind has betrayed us, and you will be the ones to pay." She looks up at Obi-Wan with venomous eyes. "Our sister Asajj knew, she started her magic before the decimation but it was not finished until now." With a hiss, she turned and stalked out of the cell, slamming the door behind her. Dooku's devastation of the Night Sister clan had, obviously not been without wider-reaching repercussions. And Ventress... when she'd returned to the Nightsister clan of her birth, she had been angry at the galaxy. Obi-Wan supposed he was not surprised he and Anakin got caught up in her schemes of revenge. She was powerful enough, after all, that whatever she'd done had endured long enough on the planet to draw them in.
Obi-Wan dropped to the floor again with a sigh. On the bed, Anakin echoed his sigh, and moaned softly. Glancing up at his friend, Obi-Wan scooted over to the tray the Witch had left them with. Two bowls with some kind of stew, some hard bread, and mugs of water. Obi-Wan was suspicious the food would contain more of the drug, but neither he nor Anakin had eaten in at least a day and a half, and his hope that some nourishment would help Anakin's state overrode any other concern.
He sat on the small bed beside Anakin, and helped the younger Jedi into a sitting position. "No, no, no, no," Anakin whimpered, tears springing to his eyes. That he was protesting, that he wasn't putting up a brave front or soldiering forward meant the pain was likely overpowering, but he needed to get Anakin to at least drink some water.
Picking up the mug, he ran his hand soothingly through Anakin's tangled and sweat-dampened hair. "It's okay, my friend," he whispered, and raised the mug to Anakin's lips. At first, Anakin resisted, but finally his struggle lessened, and was able to drink the mug down. One hurdle crossed, Obi-Wan thought, and grabbed the stew. "Anakin, you must eat," he insisted, and tried spooning some of the stew into Anakin's mouth. Anakin shook his head, but again allowed Obi-Wan to feed him the rich stew. Once the bowl was empty, Anakin sagged back against Obi-Wan's chest, fast asleep. Apparently, just the simple act of sitting up and eating had sapped his energy.
Obi-Wan gently rearranged Anakin in a prone position, and lowered to the floor, quite ready for some sustenance himself.
Anakin woke feeling much more clear-headed than he had in quite some time. Although his entire body still ached, and it still felt as though a lightsaber was piercing his head, he didn't feel as muddled. He could still grasp the Force, and he traced his finger down the wall beside him, watching the cracks that appeared in its wake.
"Master?" he tried, pleased that his voice seemed to be clearer as well. He didn't try sitting up yet – he felt better, but not that much better – but he turned his head to face the rest of the cell.
Obi-Wan's face swam into view. "How are you feeling, Anakin?" No shadows, no empty cloaks. His Master was truly there – whatever he had seen before must have been a dream.
Anakin offered a one-shouldered shrug. "It still hurts, but I'm thinking better… I think." He tried to smirk, but that hurt his face, so he just shrugged again. "Where are we?" He really didn't remember much past the warning sirens that told them their ship was in trouble. It had become a common occurrence during the war, but very rarely had the outcome been something like this. He was a little chagrined at that, not even being able to stay conscious during his own crash-landing.
His master knelt beside the bed. "We're on Tatooine," he said, and Anakin felt a flicker of panic cut through him. How could they be on Tatooine? Unless his memory was even more faulty than he realized, they hadn't been anywhere near Tatooine when the alarms had started.
"Tatooine?" he asked, hoping that he had misheard Obi-Wan. He didn't want to be on Tatooine. He never, ever wanted to be on Tatooine. He'd thought after the mission to save Jabba's son, the first mission with Ahsoka by his side (gone now, he remembered, pain blossoming in his chest at the memory), that he would be free to never return to this Force-forsaken planet.
Obi-Wan nodded. "We were captured by a band of Tusken Raiders," he replied grimly. "Something about… retribution for past wrongs. I don't know what they're talking about."
Anakin's stomach twisted violently. He had, wisely he thought, never told anyone but Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Padmè about the slaughter of the Sand People, and now it looked like his actions and his silence were going to be his and Obi-Wan's death sentence. It just wasn't fair!
"I… I think I know, Master," he stammered out. He needed to tell Obi-Wan. It might mean the difference between life and death, at least for the older man. Obi-Wan wasn't called the Negotiator for nothing – if anything, he might be able to convince the Sand People that he was not associated with Anakin and would be set free. "The Sand People… they killed my mother." His voice gained strength as the memory of his mother dying in his arms rushed through him. "And so… I… I couldn't control myself." This was much, much harder than he had expected it to be. Then again, what he had done had been in complete and utter violation of every aspect of the Jedi Code. Just one of many things, now, that he had done that could have him expelled, have him sent to the Citadel or worse.
"What happened to them?" Obi-Wan asked gently. Too gently, more gently than he deserved.
Anakin took a deep breath. "I killed them. I killed them all."
Obi-Wan blinked in utter shock at Anakin's terse statement. He tried to think back in the conversation to the point it had ceased being about their imprisonment and had turned towards Anakin's mother and the Sand People, but realized he wasn't entirely sure. And what Anakin had said…
"I'm sorry, I'm not sure I heard you correctly," Obi-Wan sputtered, trying to make sense of it. "I thought I heard you say you killed an entire village of Sand People." Surely Anakin couldn't be serious. Surely this was just his old apprentice making a sick joke. Then again, Anakin wasn't one to make light of his mother's death. Could this be one of the reasons he'd been so withdrawn after returning from Naboo? Obi-Wan felt sick as he considered the implications.
Anakin swallowed heavily. "I killed them," he repeated, his eyes glazing over.
Obi-Wan shook his head. It couldn't be true. Anakin would never…
But the Jedi stopped himself. Would Anakin never? Is this what the Council had been talking about when they had said they'd sensed darkness in the supposed Chosen One? Was this the first manifestation of the darker side of his apprentice that was becoming more and more prominent as the war dragged on? No, no, Anakin was good - even if his actions sometimes bordered on the edge. But the Council. He was bound to inform the Council, if this were true, and if he did that, Anakin would be expelled from the Order. And if what Anakin had said WAS true, leaving the protective structure of the Jedi would be very dangerous.
It would also mean Obi-Wan would be cut off from the one person he had allowed himself to betray the Jedi Code for. He had allowed himself to become attached to Anakin, and as much as his training screamed against it, and as much as he strove to hide it from himself, hearing Anakin say those horrible words only made the realization more clear.
Anakin fell back on the bed with a sharp cry of pain, and Obi-Wan suddenly remembered the true depth of their plight. He had been so caught up in Anakin's confession that he had lost focus, and since the young Jedi had seemed so lucid at the beginning of the conversation, Obi-Wan hadn't even considered that Anakin hadn't been in tune with reality.
A great wave of relief washed over Obi-Wan. Although he was afraid of what hallucinations might mean for Anakin, he felt better in the knowledge that what he had said was simply due to an effect of the Force-dampening drug. And no wonder the hallucinations were about his mother – after all, it had been a traumatic experience for him, compounded by the loss of his right arm. And now after Ahsoka's departure from the Order - Anakin was feeling the stinging talons of personal loss more acutely now, feelings previously thought buried bubbling up again.
Obi-Wan supposed it was a good thing Anakin was able to express his anger in this environment, without having to worry about the manipulations of the Force or the Council finding out about Anakin's feelings towards the Sand People. If he had killed them in his hallucination, perhaps he was simply slaying his demons… A subconscious effort to set his mind at ease.
Even so, it pained Obi-Wan to see Anakin this way. He sat on the bed and brought Anakin partway onto his lap, holding him close and trying to stop the young man's shaking. "Hush, Anakin," he whispered. "It will be all right, I promise you."
It was the first time Obi-Wan had made a promise he wasn't sure he could keep.
Anakin was confused. Obi-Wan had hardly reacted at all to his confession, which made him wonder if Obi-Wan had even heard what he'd said. He had expected a lecture at the very least, a promise to remove him from the Order at the worst. But instead, Obi-Wan had gathered Anakin into his arms and said nothing. The young Jedi wondered if Obi-Wan was plotting his escape, and reached out with the Force to touch his old Master's mind. What he found there was, amazingly and dishearteningly, fear.
Fear? When did Obi-Wan Kenobi start experiencing fear? Probing deeper, Anakin was staggered to discover that Obi-Wan's fear wasn't for his own safety, or of the Sand People who would surely take both their lives. Rather, the fear was for Anakin.
Anakin was used to members of the Council being afraid of him – the distinction of being the most powerful Jedi in history coupled with the prophecy of the Chosen One made him something of a pariah, even among his friends - what few he had, anyway. Never had anyone expressed fear for him. (He knew this wasn't entirely true, but the though still seared across his mind anyway). This realization sparked a fire in his chest that threatened to consume him, and he nestled in the warmth of Obi-Wan's arms, trying to find some modicum of comfort there.
He had to save them, Anakin decided as Obi-Wan's steady breathing began to lull him to sleep. He could deal with his own fear - he had been doing so for years - but he would not allow Obi-Wan to continue being fearful. He would save them both, and then he would make sure he never went anywhere near Tatooine again.
Obi-Wan's legs were beginning to cramp, but Anakin had fallen asleep in his arms, and the Jedi Master was loathe to interrupt the younger man's rest simply because of his own discomfort. Instead, he focused his attention outward, struggling to connect with the Force, struggling to come up with some kind of plan of action.
Physically, he knew he could overpower the Witch when she returned. But she had the Dark Side as her ally (or if not the Dark Side, then the Force taking form as the primitive magics of the Nightsisters) and Obi-Wan had nothing with which to counter it. And he certainly didn't want to do anything that would put Anakin in harm's way – for his friend was in no shape to do battle, even if they weren't cut off from the Force's guiding light.
The door and Anakin's eyes opened at the same time. Obi-Wan looked up to see the Witch, flanked by two others of her kind. The Witch was carrying a satchel, and one of her cronies closed and locked the door behind them. Obi-Wan glanced down at Anakin, who had closed his eyes again, feigning sleep. Obi-Wan had to wonder if his former Padawan had something foolish in mind, particularly if he thought these women were Sand People. While Anakin's foolhardy plans usually worked, Obi-Wan doubted his friend would be able to save the day this time.
"Hold out your arm, Jedi," the lead Witch hissed, and Obi-Wan sighed. He had been so hoping they wouldn't administer any more of the drug – he could feel the Force trying to break down the last barriers left from the first injection, but it wasn't enough to fight with.
"Wait," he heard Anakin whisper, almost imperceptibly. Sithspawn. There was a plan. He just didn't know what it was, and he doubted if Anakin had a full grasp of it either. He was tempted to hold Anakin down to keep him from doing anything stupid, but then again, keeping Anakin from doing stupid things when he felt they were the right things was like trying to catch starlight between his fingers.
So Obi-Wan waited.
Anakin knew the time to act was upon him. If they had any chance of getting out of this alive, he had to take this opportunity, despite the protestations of his body. He focused on the Unifying Force, letting himself forge a new identity in the swirling maelstrom of light and dark. He was Obi-Wan, he was the Sand People, he was this cell and this planet. He was the drug the leader was pulling from the satchel.
The drug. Without a conscious thought, Anakin knew exactly how they would survive. Letting the Force take away his pain and fatigue, he sprang to his feet, clenching his gloved mechanical hand into a fist in the direction of the Tusken with the bag. The Force snaked out of his arm and curled around the neck of the reprehensible monster that Anakin so hated. As he tightened his fist, the curls of Force tightened, and soon the Tusken Raider was on the floor, clutching at its throat. The other two looked at each other in confusion, and Anakin took that opening to snatch up the hypo-syringe and fill it with all of the drug contained in each of the four vials in the bag.
Anakin Skywalker was an artist of the Force, and this would be his masterpiece.
The bag fell open, the contents scattering across the floor, talismans that Obi-Wan recognized as those Mother Talzin had used and the drug vials scattering across the floor before Anakin pulled them to himself with the Force.
Obi-Wan couldn't believe what he was seeing. He couldn't even logically work out what it meant that Anakin had been able to choke the Witch from across the cell. All he could see was his friend rolling up his sleeve and pressing the hypo-syringe against the bare flesh of his arm. What was he doing? Dread welled up in Obi-Wan's stomach, and he couldn't keep himself from crying out. "Anakin! Don't!"
Anakin turned to him as he pressed down, the quadruple-strength injection surging into his veins, his eyes shining strangely with unnameable power. "Don't worry, Master. Just take cover." His voice didn't sound like Anakin's (except it did, it sounded like Anakin under the sway of the Dark Side on Mortis, dark and menacing, reverberating as it did in the Arena on Mortis, reverberating the same way the Nightsisters' voices do) but Obi-Wan did as he was told.
The lead Witch had recovered from Anakin's assault, and was advancing on the Jedi. "You foolish boy!" she screeched. "You think you are a match for the Nightsisters?" She held up her hands, and Obi-Wan shielded his eyes as lightning sprang from her fingertips towards Anakin.
Anakin simply stood calmly in the center of the cell, and raised his hands in reply. The lightning absorbed into his palms and shot out again from his flesh hand, striking the Nightsister in the chest and throwing her backwards. With his mechanical hand, Anakin reached out towards the other two Witches, clamping them both with the Force, cutting off their oxygen. Even without the ammunition provided by the head Witch's onslaught, Anakin's flesh hand continued to erupt with purple electricity.
Obi-Wan was glad he couldn't see Anakin's face. Even as powerful as Anakin was, no Jedi could produce Force lightning – not even Yoda. The only other person Obi-Wan had ever seen employ that skill had been Count Dooku – a Sith Lord. Surely the drug had simply amplified Anakin's considerable power, surely this wasn't a manifestation of the Dark Side in him. Obi-Wan wanted to ignore the memories of Mortis, wanted to pretend this wasn't happening. It was happening, though, and he couldn't escape from it.
"Do you think you are a match for me?" Anakin snarled back at the Witches, and with a strangled cry, he crushed their tracheas. The three bodies hit the floor simultaneously, and the lightning winked out. Anakin stumbled backwards a step or two, but quickly straightened and reached down into the satchel again, pulling out their lightsabers. Still facing away, he clipped his own to his belt.
Obi-Wan felt sick, dizzy, and horribly confused. "Anakin…" he started, but found he couldn't form any more words. Anakin turned to him, and held out his hand. Obi-Wan grasped it, and allowed Anakin to haul him to his feet and hand him his 'saber. This is wrong, his rational mind told him. Something is horribly wrong. The problem was, he couldn't quite put his finger on why it was wrong - Anakin has used his power to help them escape, as he had countless times before.
"Are you hurt, Master?" Anakin asked, his voice husky and strained. He was shaking from head to foot, and a large purple bruise was forming under his right eye, beside his burn scar, the result of a burst blood vessel. Never had the sight of a bruise caused Obi-Wan to feel like he'd been kicked in the gut in quite the same way.
Instead of voicing his trepidations – after all, Anakin had been acting defensively, and this new surge of power in him was their one chance of escape – he touched Anakin's cheek. "I'm fine. Can you open the door?"
Anakin grinned. "I can do better than that," he replied. "You'd better hold on to me." And impossibly, a wind began blowing in the small confines of the cell, surging into a tornado of incredible velocity, with Anakin and Obi-Wan at its eye. Obi-Wan closed his eyes and held on tight to Anakin, not wanting to see, not wanting to know what was happening.
With a thunderous crack, the walls exploded outward under the gale-force winds, and the roof shot upwards and away. When Obi-Wan felt the winds subside, he opened his eyes…
And found himself outside, the cell and the building housing it having completely disappeared from the foundation. He released his grip on Anakin and turned to face him. For his part, Anakin looked on the verge of physical collapse, but the fire in his eyes was glowing stronger than ever. With a confused expression, Anakin glanced at their surroundings. "This isn't Tatooine…" he murmured, and shook his head.
Obi-Wan's breath left him in a gasp as the Force broke through the final remnants of the drug. Once again, he could feel, and he could become. He reached out to Anakin through their bond, and winced at the heat radiating from the connection. It would not be wise, Obi-Wan realized, to maintain such close contact while Anakin was under the drug's influence. The older man needed his wits about him, and had a feeling he would very quickly be overwhelmed by the strength of Anakin's flame.
Amazingly, the talismans remained rooted to what was left of the stone floor, glowing with otherworldly power. One in particular caught Obi-Wan's attention; he could feel Ventress' unique Force-signature on it, roiling with dark energy. He considered picking it up, bringing it with them to examine, to determine how exactly it had brought them here, but he cast aside the thought. Bringing it with them would expose Anakin to even more unknown power, and Obi-Wan knew that would be a catastrophically bad idea. Some mysteries, Obi-Wan decided, were better left unsolved.
"The ship is this way," Anakin said, walking quickly away from the ruins, towards an opening in the trees that Obi-Wan estimated to be about a kilometer away. He reached out and saw that Anakin was indeed right. The ship was there, but inoperable. When he told Anakin as much, Anakin simply turned to him, his lips twitching into a semblance of a smirk. "That's why we need to hurry," he said. "I don't know how long this will last. And we need to get off this planet."
That, at least, Obi-Wan could whole-heartedly agree with.
They advanced as quickly as they could through the dense undergrowth, but Anakin's physical condition was deteriorating with each step. Twice already they'd had to stop so the overloaded young man could vomit. Obi-Wan, not for the first time, wished Anakin could have just left well enough alone. The drug overdose was allowing him more power than any Jedi could wish for, was allowing them to escape, but at what cost?
"Stop, stop, stop," Anakin panted, and Obi-Wan slowed. Anakin was leaning against a tree, his hands on his knees. Obi-Wan wondered if it would be possible to simply sling Anakin over his shoulder for the duration of the hike, but quickly dismissed the idea. Anakin was certainly not going to admit to needing help, especially now that he could finally prove the extent of his powers.
Obi-Wan reached a hand towards Anakin's back, noting with alarm that the dark cloak and tunic Anakin was wearing were both soaked through with sweat. Certainly the air was thick and humid, but it was not particularly warm, nor was their trek particularly difficult despite their attempts at speed. "Do you need to rest?" he asked, already knowing Anakin's answer.
"No, I just… I need to catch my breath. If we don't get to the ship before this… this… wears off, we'll never get out of here." He glanced up at Obi-Wan, and there was a flash of familiar humor in his eyes. "Don't worry about me, Master."
"Well, one of us has to," Obi-Wan countered, and things felt almost normal. He was about to speak again when he heard something pounding through the forest. Something big. From the widening of his eyes, Obi-Wan knew that Anakin heard it too. Reaching out with the Force, Obi-Wan tried to sense what could possibly be coming, and he reached a solution just as the creature broke through the trees at the edge of the clearing they were in.
Anakin pushed himself away from the tree and stood in the center of the clearing. He raised one hand toward the towering rancor, and the creature paused, gazing at the two Jedi curiously. "She says she'll help us," Anakin told Obi-Wan softly, and before Obi-Wan could ask when Anakin had begun communicating with living things as well as machines, the rancor had picked them both up in her massive clawed hands and placed them on her knobby shoulders.
"Where are we, Master?" Anakin asked as the beast began loping through the forest. "I've only ever seen a rancor on Tatooine, and even then, it was less than half this one's size." He looked meaningfully at Obi-Wan. "And this is not Tatooine." He seemed to be saying it mostly for his own benefit, Obi-Wan recognized.
"I'm not entirely sure," Obi-Wan responded cagily. He did know, though, especially given the women they'd had to deal with, and now the rancor – the rancor that had followed Anakin's mental commands without question. He didn't want to distract Anakin, though, would wait until the younger man could parse it out for himself on the ship.
Anakin eyed Obi-Wan curiously. "Well, what's your suspicion?" he asked, and Obi-Wan felt a creeping sensation in his skull. "Dathomir?" Anakin made a noise that sounded halfway between a laugh and a cough. "Come on, Master. We were nowhere near Dathomir."
"We were also nowhere near Tatooine, but you seemed quite convinced that it was possible to be there," Obi-Wan reminded him, sending a pulse through their bond that said Please don't root around in my head. It was bad enough, really, having seen the extent of Anakin's new powers, but to feel it in his mind was something else entirely. For reasons Obi-Wan couldn't completely grasp, he was beginning to become frightened. Anakin was frightening him, with his easy willingness to use his enhanced powers to such ends.
Anakin tightened his grip on the rancor's ridged back plates and closed his eyes, trying to will away the rolling nausea that had begun to plague him. He was having a difficult time differentiating real reality from the reality being molded by the Force. He could see all the threads tying everything together, and everything they passed took hold of him and entered his being. His vision blurred, and he wiped sweat out of his eyes. His burn scar and the bruise beside it throbbed with each beat of his heart, and his right arm ached violently where it was connected to the metal prosthetic.
And yet, the power. The lightning, the Force-storm… all of that had been child's play compared to what Anakin knew he could do now. If only they didn't have to be anywhere, if only he didn't have to waste his energy getting off this planet. He could make a difference with this kind of power. He would have to be listened to, with this kind of power. Certainly the ability to control the very galaxy outweighed physical discomfort.
Many times over the course of Anakin's training, Obi-Wan had felt uneasy, but never had he felt this near-overwhelming sense of dread. He wanted to believe that he was merely concerned for Anakin's welfare, but it was something deeper than that, something… elusive.
It frustrated him that he couldn't put his finger on what, exactly, it was about Anakin that was scaring him so badly, and it frustrated him more that he couldn't seriously think about it without Anakin picking up on it.
As their mount crested the hill, Obi-Wan could see the glittering form of their ship, half-buried where it had crashed into the forest floor. His relief was so sudden and strong that he felt slightly lightheaded, and he shook off his dizziness as the rancor lifted him and Anakin off her massive shoulders.
Anakin turned and bowed unsteadily towards the rancor. "Thank you," he said respectfully, and Obi-Wan wondered if this really was the first time he'd ever heard Anakin speak like that, to anyone.
The rancor bowed her head slightly in response, and took off into the forest again, leaving Obi-Wan and Anakin alone with their ruined starship. "So," Obi-Wan said, approaching Anakin, "what now?" He put a hand on his former Padawan's shoulder.
It was a mistake, a mistake he realized as soon as he made contact with the younger man.
Searing heat climbed up his arm and burst through his shields. Pain and desperation filled him completely, and Obi-Wan wondered distantly if this was what Anakin was feeling. He tried to sever the connection, but something was keeping him from doing so. He couldn't think well enough – he was sluggish and confused, and the bond remained. He could practically see flames leaping from Anakin and into his own head.
With a slight grunt, Obi-Wan fell to his knees. Distantly, he heard Anakin's voice asking what was wrong – as if he didn't full well know. Instead of answering, though, Obi-Wan pitched forward into the dirt.
Anakin stared in disbelief as his master fell to the ground. He looked up at the half of the ship that was visible above the trench it had dug, then down at Obi-Wan again. He had been expecting at least a little help in getting them off this god-forsaken planet.
But then again, he reflected bitterly, picking Obi-Wan up by the Force with a mere flick of his wrist, this was how it always went. Obi-Wan would get hurt, or kidnapped, or pass out for no apparent reason, and Anakin would be expected to perform a daring rescue. The Hero With No Fear had to live up to his title, didn't he?
Frustration bubbled under Anakin's skin, and his vision tunneled. He felt a surge of power, but he wasn't sure what to do with it besides hope it lasted long enough for him to get the ship out of the ground.
He opened the hatch with the Force, and stormed up the ramp, pulling Obi-Wan along behind him, hovering just above the ground. Dropping the Jedi Master unceremoniously onto the deck, Anakin stalked into the cockpit, his discomfort and increasingly blurred vision only serving to fuel the fire of the Force that was keeping him upright and moving.
Sitting in the pilot's chair and closing his eyes, Anakin focused on the dirt and debris covering the front end of the ship. He became the debris, the dirt, and the air, and with a shove backed by anger and pain, he backed the ship out of the trench it had dug for itself. Focusing with every fiber of his being, Anakin reached into the heart of the ship, manipulating the very molecules to seal bulkhead ruptures and kick-start the sublight engines. The craft lifted off the ground, and Anakin threw out a quick prayer to any deities that might exist, as well as to any of the Masters who might be around, that this plan would work.
It was too late to stop now. Under his expert hands and drug-enhanced powers, the ship rose quickly. The Force flipped on the communication systems, and Anakin spoke in a voice he didn't recognize as his own. "To any Republic ships in contact range: this is General Anakin Skywalker. My ship is damaged and I need immediate assistance."
There was a long pause, and Anakin was certain he'd been abandoned. They were ignoring him. They didn't realize how serious this situation was, how close the ship was to falling apart around him, how close HE was to falling apart, how very, very alone he was.
"General Skywalker," came the voice of one of the Republic clone troopers, the hologram of his armored figure flickering in and out of focus. "This is Commander Jace aboard the Freedom Republica. We'll be in intercept range in five minutes."
Anakin nodded blankly. Five minutes. Could he keep this up for five minutes? It seemed like an eternity. He could feel his grip on the ship's innards weakening already, and the realization that he was going to be the cause of yet another person's death knifed him. First his mother, and then he'd lost Ahsoka (she wasn't dead, but she may as well be for all he was allowed to try and look for her), now Obi-Wan. If he let go, Obi-Wan would die too, and Anakin would not let that happen, would not even consider it. What good was ultimate power if he couldn't save the people he loved? Heart pounding, Anakin felt a surge of rage. Why couldn't he do this? He was better than this – he was more powerful than this. He should be able to work through his weakness, overcome and be able to save both himself and Obi-Wan.
The rage added fuel to the fire, and Anakin suddenly realized the ship was holding itself together and he could see the Freedom Republica through the viewscreen. He had done it.
He had done it.
And with that breathless thought, Anakin slumped forward onto the control panel.
Obi-Wan woke to stark whiteness. Turning his head, he saw a TC-class medical droid hovering in the doorway, carrying a tray of food. "General Kenobi," it said in its pleasantly soothing tone, "how wonderful to have you awake. Please, eat." The droid entered the room and set the tray on Obi-Wan's bed.
Picking up the glass of water, Obi-Wan was suddenly struck by a silence in his bond with Anakin. Dread pierced him, and he nearly dropped the glass. Surely something couldn't have happened to Anakin. If he was here, in a medical bay, Anakin must have gotten the ship off the ground, which meant he was fine.
Probably meditating, Obi-Wan told himself, knowing even as he thought it how ridiculous it was. Anakin hated meditation, and even when he did settle down enough to do it, Obi-Wan could always still sense his presence.
But, Obi-Wan thought, he would know if Anakin was dead. He remembered the searing pain he'd felt when his bond with Qui-Gon had been severed, and when he'd taken the vital and Force suppressors as Rako Hardeen, and there had been nothing like that. Unless, of course, he was still feeling the effects of whatever they'd been given. That couldn't be the case, though, because he'd felt Anakin's presence from the time of their escape right up until he'd lost consciousness.
"Where's Anakin?" he asked, finally deciding he was too tired to argue with himself. Somehow he knew that he would have been woken sooner if Anakin were dead. Right?
The droid paused for a moment, and for a brief instant, Obi-Wan felt panic. "General Skywalker is recovering in the next room." The droid turned and moved towards the door.
Relief washed over Obi-Wan. Anakin was alive… but why hadn't the droid said anything else? Why weren't they in the same room? "May I see him?" Obi-Wan called after the droid, swinging his legs off the bed.
"When he is ready," the droid responded, and whirred away.
I will train…
Clouded this boy's futu
You'll be…. Of all Jedi…
even stars die out
not all power all powerful
I truly deeply love deeply love you
stop the suns
Stop the suns from setting
Tired of lying in bed waiting to be released, Obi-Wan decided to take matters into his own hands. Pulling his robe around him, he walked out of his room into the main medical area. Reaching with the Force, he tried to sense Anakin's presence, but all he got back was a confused whisper.
"General Kenobi, you should be resting," the medical droid admonished, floating over to him. Obi-Wan waved his hand dismissively. He wasn't worried about himself.
"I must see Anakin," he insisted, leaning close in to the droid, making sure it understood exactly what would happen if he was kept from his former apprentice. His desire to see his friend was bordering on overwhelming, and he struggled to control his emotions. He was better than this, wasn't he? Wasn't he simply acting in exactly the way he'd chastised Anakin for so many times?
The medical droid seemed to realize its very existence was at stake, and gestured for Obi-Wan to follow it. It buzzed down a long corridor, Obi-Wan trailing behind, growing more and more apprehensive with each step. Reaching a door at the far end of the corridor, the droid punched in a security code.
"His body is still detoxifying itself. He is restrained for his own safety."
Obi-Wan almost laughed. Traditional restraints would be useless against Anakin, especially considering what it was his body was ridding itself of. "Thank you," he said, shaking his head and brushing by the droid.
The room was smaller than the one Obi-Wan had woken up in, and already he could see signs of Anakin's increased power. The medical equipment had folded in on itself, and there were cracks in the mirror on the far wall. Unsurprisingly, Anakin had freed himself from the restraints, but for the moment seemed to be asleep.
"Oh, Anakin," Obi-Wan breathed, and approached the side of the bed, probing carefully with the Force. Still nothing but the whisper, but at least now he could see Anakin, could touch him. He brushed his fingers over Anakin's cheek, taking care not to be too rough against the bruises.
Anakin nestled his face against Obi-Wan's hand, and slept on.
Obi-Wan had given the Council report himself. He still didn't have an answer as to how they'd ended up so far off-course (visions of Mortis clouded his mind), nor did he have an explanation as to Anakin's reaction to the Force suppressor.
He left out Anakin's use of Force lightning, the choking, and the terrible sound of his voice in the throes of the drug. He left out Anakin's confession about the Tusken Raiders (because it might not be real - it likely was not real).
He'd wanted answers, but the Council seemed willing to chalk it up to the will of the Force, something they did with increasing frequency as the war dragged on. He merely bowed and returned to the med-bay, where Anakin was still recovering.
"Well?" Anakin asked as Obi-Wan entered the room. "What did they say?"
"How are you feeling?" Obi-Wan side-stepped the question. He didn't want to get in another fight with Anakin about the Council's inaction, not today.
Anakin shrugged. "I have a headache," he admitted. "And the Force feels really quiet." He waved his hand and a nondescript piece of medical equipment raised in the air. "Kind of nice, though," he mused. "For a change. I... did you feel it? Back there?" He frowned slightly. "It felt like..."
Obi-Wan didn't say it, but he knew Anakin could tell he was thinking it. That it felt like Mortis, like the Arena, like the Well of the Dark Side, except Anakin had been in control of his powers there. On Dathomir, there had been no control, and nothing to reign him in. The implications were staggering, but Obi-Wan knew better than to dwell on them. He hoped Anakin knew better as well.
"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan said instead of any of that, and it was for so many things. Anakin's current condition, the stress the young man was under, the changes he had undergone, the fact Obi-Wan was afraid when the war was over, his friend wouldn't even be the same person anymore. He was sorry for all of it, but couldn't fix it - and he was sorry for that too.
"It's okay," Anakin replied, gesturing Obi-Wan closer. "Just keep me company, would you? It's boring here."
Obi-Wan settled into the chair beside Anakin's bed, ready to do spend as much time as he needed, until Anakin was ready to move on.