A/N: Here we are, guys. The last chapter. I'm pretty sure this is the longest chapter I've ever written, too, but I couldn't end it without writing so much. Thank you all so much for the lovely reviews, the follows, etc. They all mean so much to me because I loved writing this story. Fortunately, this isn't the absolute end. The sequel is well on its way and will probably be posted within the next few days since I've gotten a couple chapters written in my notebook already. Again, thank you all so much. I hope you continue to stick with the story as I write the sequel.

POV: Obi-Wan Kenobi

My phone buzzed, drawing me out of my daydream. I glanced at the top to see a new snapchat from Anibanani. I chuckled and unlocked the phone, turning the app on so I could see what silly picture he'd sent me this time. He was sticking his tongue out at me with oil all over his gorgeous face. I couldn't help laughing at how adorable he looked like that. Silly boy had gotten me into snapchat about a week ago and it's all we could do when we weren't actually together. Well, unless I was asleep. When I was sleeping, he'd take advantage of it and snapchat me with drool on my face or he'd be pressing his lips against my skin and snapchat that. He kept actual pictures of those times, which I loved even though I acted like I resented him. At least he knew it was only an act.

I decided to take a picture of myself even though I was sitting in my office at the station. I sighed and turned the view of the screen so it was facing me and I smiled a little as I took the picture. I looked at it once it was finished and raised an eyebrow, not particularly liking how I looked, but oh well. It was Anakin. It's not like we wouldn't be getting into bed later tonight just because I sent him a picture of me. It was quite the opposite and it didn't matter if we sent pictures or not. I added the caption 'very attractive, young man' and sent it. He was always attractive and he knew it.

I chuckled to myself again, looking back at the past week. Anakin had learned of the app from his co-workers and he'd brought it home, showing it to me and getting me addicted to it since it made him happy. Over the course of the week though, he'd managed to swallow Quin into it as well. ManneQuin sent me a nude picture last night and Anakin saw it. Being the brat that he is, he took a picture of his ass and sent it to Quin, requesting that he kiss it.

Sighing, I realized how young Anakin truly is at times. He can send me adorable—and sometimes inappropriate—pictures and he'd seem so childlike to me. Then there's Quin who sends far too many of the latter. For instance, Quin took one while taking a shit in the station bathroom and sent it to both of us. I'd been sitting at my desk, red faced, until he came in and had a laughing fit. From what I'd heard later, Anakin had retaliated with a picture of the urinal at the garage...

Over the course of the next few hours, Anakin and I sent each other a few more snapchats, but it slowed down as I typed up a report and he got more cars to work on. I brought a shoplifter in this morning and they'd done it five times before finally getting caught. On top of that, they'd pulled a gun on me.

I paused to check my phone to see if he'd sent me a text or snapchat or an email of some sort. It was well past the time when he'd leave work and he usually texted me to tell me he was on his way home and that he'd miss me until I came home, too.

Seeing nothing from him, I reluctantly went back to blankly staring at my computer screen. Quin came in a little while later to remind me that we had a meeting tomorrow evening. I was leaving for the night in a few minutes, but Quin still had two more hours left.

I sent my report to Mace, shut the computer off, and began to pack my things so I could go home to my lovely fiancé.

The drive home was silent and I was relieved when I pulled up in the driveway to see Anakin's car. Maybe he was just really tired after work and passed out before he could message me. He knew I worried about him all the time, but he still fell asleep at will whenever he could without texting me to let me know he'd gotten home all right.

I smiled at the thought of him lying on our bed, exhausted. He always looked so sweet like that. Not that he looked otherwise when he was awake, but it was just so...much cuter. Geez, it was almost like I was insulting him when he was awake.

I got out of the car, locked it, and made my way up to the door to unlock it. When I got in, all of the lights were off and it was disconcertingly quiet. It was never that quiet regardless of Anakin being asleep or not. "Ani, I'm home," I called out, closing the door and dropping my keys onto the kitchen table. There was no response, which I suppose I should have expected if he were asleep. I decided to check the bedroom just to be sure that he was actually asleep. As irrational as my thoughts may be, I love this man and I would worry until all of my hair was gray. I flipped the light on in the bedroom and the bed was empty. "Anakin?" I said a bit louder, turning to look out into the living room. "Love, this really isn't funny." I was trying to mask the panic in my voice just in case he was within hearing range.

However, as the minutes flew by and I heard absolutely no movement whatsoever, I panicked. Where was he? I went further into the bedroom and scrambled about, searching for a note and finding nothing of the sort.

The shower wasn't on, so he wasn't in there. He wasn't in bed, on the couch, or anywhere in the kitchen. The kitchen. He'd left me a note there once when he left to go to the store one evening. He knew I'd panic if I hadn't heard from him and his phone was dead that evening, so he'd written out exactly where he was going and why he was going. Perhaps he'd... But that didn't make sense. He would've taken his car.

There was no note in the kitchen either. He definitely wouldn't have left without his car or without leaving some note behind. This wasn't making sense. He'd obviously come home. Where the hell did he go?

A sudden chill shot through me then. What if he hadn't come home?

What if he'd been kidnapped at work? Oh, God. Oh, please. Please be some kind of stupid joke. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and immediately dialed Quin. "Hel—"

"Anakin's gone," I said abruptly, cutting him off. The silence that ensued with painful. Quin knew how much Anakin meant to me, how much I treasured him. Losing Qui-Gon had left a hole in my heart twenty years ago. Losing Anakin would leave me empty.

"Gone?" He said the word incredulously, sounding just as afraid as I felt. I started imagining all kinds of horrific scenarios where Anakin was hurting, screaming, crying, begging. I could see him breathing what may be his last breaths. He would die painfully and alone. He didn't deserve that. "Obi-Wan, what do you mean gone?"

I closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead, taking deep breaths. "His car is here. He isn't. There's no note." I paused and opened my eyes. "He would never go home without texting me or calling me. He can't go very long without writing me, Quin." Tears were falling freely now and I hadn't even realized I'd begun crying. "I need to find him. He needs me. He could be hurt or—" I could see Anakin lying on the ground, a bruised and battered heap, cold and alone. The thought of him screaming for me and getting no answer in reply was absolutely horrifying. I couldn't help sobbing now. Absolutely sobbing.

Quin was babbling on about a number of things, but I knew he was trying to calm me. He knew how much Anakin meant to me, how desperately I needed Anakin in my life. He might be a manwhore, but he could understand how much Anakin meant to me. He saw how Anakin looked at me and the way I looked at him. He knew that there was a connection between the two of us that I've never had once before in my life, that Anakin hasn't entirely experienced himself either. "Obi, I'm on my way to the house, okay?" I made some strangled noise to give him the affirmative without actually having to force myself to speak just yet. Once I'd gotten off of the phone with him, I'd found myself drowning in my insane thoughts. Drowning.

Anakin was screaming, crying. He was slowly dying at the hands of some cruel bastard. There hadn't once been a time where Anakin had done something so wrong to deserve this. This young man is the sweetest man I've ever had the luxury of meeting. To have him to call my own meant the universe to me. He was the half I'd been missing all of my life. When he smiled, he did so beautifully. His eyes would light up in such a way that I thought they were actually twinkling. The way he looked when he was happy made my heart stop. It was beautiful. He is beautiful.

Who could possibly want to harm such an angel?

Then it dawned on me and my sobs died down. What if Qui-Gon had something to do with this? He didn't want me with Anakin. There were a few suspects as to who might be responsible for his disappearance, but Qui-Gon… He is Anakin's father and my ex-lover. The likelihood of Qui-Gon kidnapping his own son to get to me was very plausible. Granta could seek revenge on Anakin for the way their relationship ended, but I couldn't see him going to this length just to get back at Anakin. Xanatos might have some vendetta he wanted to clear up with Anakin, but he… He was just as likely to be the kidnapper as Qui-Gon. After all, he'd raped Anakin. From what I'd gathered recently, he'd raped Anakin a few times. I couldn't get any more out of Anakin than I already knew and I would not force him to rehash the past if it hurt him, but I wished that I could do something. Right now, Xanatos and Qui-Gon were the main suspects.

If it were either of them, Anakin would at least recognize them and be able to remain as calm as he could manage instead of wondering who had him, fearing what they were capable of doing to him. If Qui-Gon took him, I truly could not see him harming Anakin at all. The man may be demented in what he's done with his life, but I couldn't see him harming a child, even if that child was now an adult. To me, Anakin was still so childlike and that didn't really make me feel any better. Knowing that I was dating—engaged to someone I considered a child was like committing a huge felony. Anakin was a consenting adult though and he'd fallen for me just as much as I had for him.

Pounding on the door drew me out of my reverie and I quickly moved to unlock it. As soon as the lock was undone, Quin burst in, looking at me briefly before his eyes began roaming about the room. "It has to be Qui-Gon or Xanatos," I whispered, staring up at the taller man. He didn't respond. Instead, he moved further into the house. I shut the door and turned to watch him as he moved cautiously, his eyes taking in every last detail.

He was looking for something as he ventured into the kitchen. Within seconds of entering the small kitchen, he'd kicked something. My heart leapt out of my chest at the sound. He bent down to pick it up and when he stood he was holding Anakin's keychain with the house key and our car keys on it. I gaped silently at the metal he held. He'd been in the house. Someone broke in to kidnap him. It wasn't a simple jumping at work or outside of the house. Someone came into our home to take him.

We decided to wander around on our own shortly thereafter and I'd calmed myself enough to focus on the fact that I truly needed to look around me. Anakin's life could be riding on a very small detail and there was a distinct possibility that I could miss that detail and lose him forever. I went back into the bedroom, finding a piece of black cloth ripped on the carpet. Now that I looked at the bed, I knew there had been a struggle here. Since I left the bed before Anakin even woke up, he'd taken up the responsibility for making the bed after getting out of it in the morning. I knew he'd made it this morning, so it shouldn't have looked like this. Even if he'd been exhausted, it wouldn't have looked this messy. I circled to the other side of the bed and saw papers scattered across the floor, papers that had been in a neat pile on his nightstand this morning. Amongst those papers was his phone. "Obi!"

I turned quickly, heart leaping out of my chest, and darted out into the other room. He was standing by the side door and it was the first time I realized that there was blood on it. Looking down at the floor revealed more blood and I desperately hoped that it wasn't Anakin's. Deep down, I knew it was his though... I swallowed and Quin was looking at me with apologetic eyes. "This just proves that there was a struggle, Quin. Whoever came in followed him into the bedroom."

I led him back into my and Anakin's bedroom and circled around to Anakin's side of the bed. I knelt down to grab his phone as Quin inspected the bed sheets. He leaned over and touched where Anakin must have dug his knees into the mattress when the intruder grabbed him. I unlocked Anakin's phone and saw my contact info immediately. My heart hurt at the sight of it. He tried to call for help. He tried to call me for help. If he'd been able to press the button, I would have rushed home for him. I might have been able to save him. Instead, he was kidnapped hours ago. The fact that he put that much trust in me, that he had faith that I would rescue him... It meant more to me than he would ever know.

My eyes were watering as Quin came closer to me. He glanced at the phone before frowning and resting a hand on my shoulder. "Obi, you couldn't have known this would happen. He tried to..." He trailed off, looking down at the floor sadly.

"I should have known," I said angrily. "He would never go that long without telling me he was leaving work or that he'd gotten home safely." I snarled in outrage and found myself staring at the bed. He'd been forcibly taken from our room, our home, and that killed me. I could see him lurching across the bed to grab his phone from his nightstand now. I could see him scrambling to unlock it and call me, only to have the phone knocked out of his grip. The look of terror on his face... Quin was looking at me sympathetically. He'd never seen me so distraught before. Since meeting me, Anakin has been injured a few times, but he'd never been taken from me. Losing Qui-Gon in the past was nothing in comparison to the black hole left inside my heart at the thought of losing my Anakin. "I want him back."

"We'll get him back," he said sincerely, promising me something that he couldn't entirely guarantee. "I love him, too, Obi. I don't want to see anything happen to him either."

•◊•

I stared unseeingly at the report in my hands. It was Anakin's missing profile and his picture smiled up at me, despairing me even more. Three almost four days had passed and I honestly couldn't remember the last time I'd even contemplated sleeping. I was worried sick about him. Well, more than usual. I'd tried to sleep in our bed, but I'd only been able to toss and turn restlessly. The bed was too cold without him in it. It wasn't comfortable to be in unless he held me or I held him. It just wasn't the same without him and I'd been unable to stay there for a long period of time. It dawned on me two days ago that the longer he was gone, the more likely it was that he was already dead.

I leaned forward, resting my elbow on my desk, holding my head in my palm. I set Anakin's profile on the desk and stared at it. Why would anyone want to cause him pain? He'd done nothing wrong, nothing to deserve this torment.

I looked up when the door to my office opened; Luminara walked in, smiling sadly. "Hey," she said timidly. "How are you holding up, dear?" I shrugged, moving my gaze from the profile to my laptop wallpaper—Anakin asleep in our bed, his hair an adorable unkempt mess of slight curls. "Obi, honey, he's out there." I looked at her again and I'm certain that she saw the hopelessness in my eyes. "You know he wouldn't give up if fighting his captor meant he could come back to you, honey. He knows you'll come for him. He has a reason to fight, sweetie."

I didn't want to hear this. It wasn't that I doubted Anakin by any means. I just... I didn't want to accept that perhaps he was dead, but I didn't think he'd be kept alive either. People who were kidnapped in this day and age were usually killed within a matter of days if not before that. Unless they were determined to hurt him, in which case I would return the hurt tenfold. For every scratch Anakin came home with, I would destroy them. That son of a bitch would not get away with harming even a hair on his head.

The lack of hope inside of me continued to grow day by day and it made me feel terrible. I shouldn't give up on him. If he put his mind to it and had all the right reasons, he was a very strong man. If he tried, he could probably tackle me to the ground and put up a good fight. "What if he's dead?" I said suddenly, the thought once again occurring to me. "I'll never forgive myself." I couldn't meet Luminara's gaze without fearing she would get up and smack the back of my head or something. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "I promised him that no one would hurt him ever again," I whispered, my voice breaking. I'd disregarded that promise entirely by allowing this to happen. Yes, it wasn't entirely my fault, but it was at the same time. I should have assumed something was wrong since he hadn't spoken to me for hours. I should have called him to check on him.

"Sweetie, he's alive. I know it." She came to sit in front of me, taking a seat on my desk. She touched my hand that was resting on Anakin's file. "Have faith, my friend. Anakin will fight his captor."

Without any notice at all, Quin burst into the room like a bat out of hell, completely out of breath. The two of us looked at him, perplexed and concerned. He ran to me immediately and grabbed my laptop, opened the browser, and entered a hyperlink. When he hit enter, a website with a small video in the center appeared and it was being streamed live. There was a man sitting there on the screen and the more I looked at his body, I knew who it was. "Anakin!" He was tied to a chair, doubled over, and bleeding. "No, no, no," I muttered repeatedly, my eyes never leaving the screen.

"I warned you, Kenobi." It was that damned altered voice. "I told you I'd kill him and I intend to do just that." Anakin was trembling and my heart ached. He was so afraid and I couldn't bear thinking about how terrified he was, but I couldn't not think about it. "Why don't you show him how I've...decorated you?" The bastard cackled like a mad man and Anakin didn't even attempt to acknowledge him.

However strong that made him look, it wasn't always the best option. In a split second, a man ensconced in all black appeared on the screen. It still stunned me how easily he shrouded himself, but I was only stunned a moment more. He yanked Anakin's hair so painfully that I thought he'd ripped some of it out. "Fuck you," Anakin hissed. His face was bleeding. His lips looked like they'd been split; a bloody line crossed his cheek, and a deep trail of blood slid down his face as it poured from where he'd been cut above and below his right eye. I covered my mouth, sickened by the sight of what they'd done to him. "Obi, don't come for me. Please, don't." Anakin was desperately pleading with me. He didn't want to be saved.

"He screamed, Kenobi. He screamed for you." The more I thought about it, I realized Anakin did want me to save him. He just didn't want me to get hurt, but he needed to understand that I love him too much to just leave him like that. Even if it was his dying wish that I stay away, I would never do that to him. I love this man more than I ever thought I could love someone and I wasn't about to let him die because he asked me not to help him.

The man released Anakin's hair and Anakin slumped forward. I could hear him trying to hold back frustrated sobs. "Ani..." I whispered as tears pricked at the backs of my eyes. He was so angry and resentful and I couldn't blame him. This man would pay. Whoever this was would burn in hell eternally for what he did to my lover.

"You have thirty minutes to transfer three million dollars into account seven-seven-eight."

"Three million?" we all exclaimed.

"There's no way we can get that money in half an hour!" A countdown was at the top of the screen. Anakin struggled as the man wrapped a cloth around Anakin's head, effectively covering his mouth. He thrashed around wildly, making as much noise as he could. "Obi, what are we going to do?"

I stared at my lover on the screen as he cried frustrated tears. A long silence ensued as I tried to think of a way to rescue him without wasting time trying to scrounge up millions that we don't have. "That looks like the cellar beneath the old Gala Pub." Luminara and I turned to stare at Quin. Of course he'd know that... For the first time in forever, I was thankful Quin went to pubs all the time and got drunk. He was the only one of the three of us to recognize the place.

"Get two squads down there," I ordered, getting up. I raced around the office, gathering up my gun and my cruiser keys. Quin grabbed me when I turned and he was silently questioning my actions. He knew I wasn't going to be out in the front with him this time. "I'm going to find an alternative way to get in," I said fiercely. He looked concerned and I couldn't be upset with him for that. He's being my best friend and I've never appreciated that more. "I need to get him out," I whispered, lowering my gaze to the floor. He rested his hand on my shoulder and I knew he was smiling, the cheeky bastard.

"I know you'll get to him," he said. We exited our office and gathered up enough officers for this. Yes, it may be one man, but this one man is my life. I would rather die a horrible death than let him suffer. He's dealt with enough to last a lifetime. They'd all seen the stream and most of them understood the relationship Anakin and I had. It might be rocky on occasion, but this sweetheart of a man doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

Quin put his own gun on his belt as we walked out of the station together. Everybody was getting into their cruisers with their partners and I turned to Quin, gripping his shoulder. "Run silent. I don't want you to get hurt either, you crazy bastard." He grinned and nodded. The drive out would take twenty minutes, so I hoped I could get Anakin out in less than five.

When I got into my cruiser, I immediately began streaming the video on it, wanting to keep myself updated on Anakin's situation at all times. If something happened to him, even the slightest thing, I wanted to know. I would get my revenge on his captor. He wouldn't live long enough to do a tremendous amount of damage to Anakin.

Mace surprisingly gave everyone the proper orders: run silent, objective is rescue. I was relieved and appreciated that Mace softened up. I didn't think he'd ever accept that I love Anakin, but he seemed to have gotten used to it now. Everyone knew I was willing to risk everything for Anakin.

I lifted my eyebrows as the passenger door opened to my cruiser. Quin was riding with James, so– "You think I'm letting you go alone?" I gave her a small smile. "Sweetie, I've spent enough time with you and dorky Quin to know how a gun works."

I nodded, sighing as I gave in. It was risky to have a civilian in the cruiser during a situation like this, but I would let it slide for once. I held my phone out towards her, which she took almost immediately. "Please, watch him. If something happens..."

I trailed off, not wanting to think about anything else happening to him. "I know, honey." She rubbed my thigh gently, giving me a very sad, small smile.

I drove off then, my foot on the gas as I and several other cruisers raced across town. I heard Anakin sobbing and looked over. No one was doing anything to him. He was alone on the screen. Just hang on, baby. If only I could tell him I was coming for him. And if only traffic could move. We'd wasted precious time sitting behind a bunch of slowpokes who got nervous as soon as they saw police cruisers. "Clock's ticking, Kenobi." I risked another glance at the phone and he hit Anakin, then gripped his chin. The sight of that made my heart leap up into my throat. "Your pretty, little boy will be blown into a million pieces soon." I glanced back at the road to see if traffic had moved at all, which it hadn't. I looked at the phone again and my jaw dropped when I saw that he was smearing blood—Anakin's blood—across that gorgeous face. "I'm starting to think he doesn't really love you, child. Who knew that age does matter?"

That bastard. Anakin knew damn well that age meant nothing to me. I wasn't with him because he's so young, because I wanted something from him. I'm with him because I love him for all that he is. If Anakin could accept someone as old and decrepit as me, then he deserved that same love in return. I would never turn Anakin away, even if he were sixteen years older than me. I love him as much as I would if we were the same age.

After too many minutes, we'd reached the pub. I circled around to the back while the others who'd been pursuing me went directly to the front. Luminara and I got out of the car as soon as I'd parked it. The sounds Anakin made alarmed me and I looked over to see that he was frightened, more so than he had been before. That was when I realized he was completely alone now, and with only a minute left. No, no, no.

I ran forward to grab the door, only to find it completely locked. "No!" I screamed. I stepped back, pulling my gun from my belt, and blasted the handle, effectively unlocking it just as I heard a click from the phone and Anakin made a muffled sobbing sound. Luminara grabbed me as the phone clicked again and we were thrown back by an explosion that seemed to happen in slow motion. I hit the ground several feet away from where I'd been. My cruiser flipped over and crashed repeatedly. I watched as the building crumbled slowly, taking the man I loved from me forever.

Now the sirens were going off, screams echoing around me. I knew there was no scream to be heard, but I could hear Anakin screaming in agony. I looked over at my phone that was now lying on the ground, the screen cracked, and saw the static. My entire body froze and I felt like I wasn't even alive now. This couldn't have been real because this felt so surreal. He'd been alive. He'd been with me last night; we'd texted earlier today. He couldn't be gone. No, not Anakin.

It took several moments before the tremors set in and I began sobbing, grasping for my phone. The one man I'd give my life to had just been murdered. Staring at the crumbling building as bits and pieces of wood and concrete fell to the ground below made me feel absolutely numb. All of this felt so wrong, like it wasn't meant to end like this and it truly wasn't. My whole life just ended with him. He wasn't supposed to die like this. This wasn't the way he was meant to die. No, no, no… It was all so…wrong.

His eyes, that luscious hair, his soft lips and skin, the hard curves of his hips, the tight muscles all over his body… The way he looked when he wanted to say he loved me. It was all gone. He was gone. No. I couldn't accept that. Anakin wouldn't die. He wouldn't leave me like this. He would never do that. "Obi!"

Quin. He was coming closer. I didn't even bother to look until he was coming through the dust filled air. "Quin, he's in shock!" Luminara cried, her hands roaming over my back. Me? In shock? That seemed like the understatement of the damned millennia. How was I supposed to live without him? He is my other half, the only person I've ever trusted with everything and so much more. I couldn't have lost him, not that easily.

Quin forcefully pulled me up and crushed me in a bruising embrace. I faintly heard him sobbing against me and felt Luminara's face bury into my back, her slender arms coming around to rest on my chest. This couldn't be real, but it was beginning to sink in. The feeling of emptiness and utter loss was setting in, my blood running cold, head swimming like I was drowning, body boneless as I barely kept myself upright.

For a little while, I was too stunned to react to either of my closest friends. My eyes wouldn't leave that building, that hell. After several minutes, an agonizing scream ripped out of me and echoed loudly despite the sirens and screams around me. "Anakin!"

•◊•

I held Shmi's limp hand as she laid completely still on her medical bed. She was all I had left of Anakin now, not that I wanted to accept it. Part of me still wanted to believe he'd emerge from the rubble and come home to me tonight, tell me this was all just some damned nightmare, and make love to me like I knew he would. Even though Shmi was still in a comatose state, I thought it might be comforting to be around someone who just…felt like Anakin. What would she think of me if she were to wake up and discover that I'd allowed her son to be murdered by someone who we knew threatened Anakin? He was my fiancé, my lover, my life, but he was Shmi's son, her baby boy. She'd created him. I didn't even want to think about the other half of that creation, but Shmi had given life to the man I'd come to love with all of my being, the man I couldn't get enough of even when he was temperamental and downright emotional.

"I'm so sorry, Shmi," I whispered brokenly, my eyes beginning to water once more. I squeezed her hand gently, staring at her face. I could see bits of Anakin there and it made my heart ache more. I'd ultimately failed Anakin, but I'd also failed Shmi. I'd let everyone down. I'd let Anakin die. "I was…too late to save him… I… Anakin…" I breathed his name like a prayer, wishing that he were here to rub my shoulders, kiss my hair, something.

Strong, rough hands that were in no way the passionate ones I so craved rested upon my shoulders. I looked up to see my dreadlocked friend looking sadder than I've ever seen him. "How are you holding up?" he asked quietly.

I shrugged before my shoulders sagged entirely. "It should have been me."

"Obi-Wan—"

"He hasn't lived," I hissed. "I have. He deserved life." It just wasn't fucking fair. He was a beautiful man with a beautiful heart and that had been stripped away as though he meant nothing. He could have loved again if I had been the one to die. I would never be able to bring myself to love another man the way I love Anakin. "For he being dead, with him is beauty slain," I whispered, my voice shaking as the tears fell. "And…beauty dead…" I closed my eyes and bowed my head forward, gritting my teeth as I tried to finish the damnable quote that Anakin would have smiled at had it not been about his own death. "Black chaos comes again." My shoulders shook with the sobs then. "I failed him, Quin."

Quin knelt beside me and all I could do was stare at him through my teary vision. He clenched his fist and whispered, "Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives…" He inhaled slowly before releasing that same breath, "must die, passing through nature to eternity." That simple line… He had no idea how stunned I was to hear it come from him. For being the opposite of a Shakespearean lover, he quoted it very well. He lifted his hands then and took my wrist, gently flipping my hand to uncurl my fingers from my palm until it laid bare for him to set something on it. I looked at him curiously as he pulled his hands away from me. My heart, had it not been shattered enough, would have splintered and scattered across the room. In my palm was Anakin's engagement ring. "I'm so sorry…"

I caressed the ring with my thumb, biting my lip until I tasted blood. "I love him so much." The silence was deafening and I was beginning to feel sick with all of this guilt. Well, until a startled gasp shattered said silence. We both turned to see Anakin's mother who was now very much awake. "Shmi–"

"Where am I?" she asked, sounding bewildered.

"The hospital," I said simply. "Shmi–"

Her eyes widened and I forced myself to stop speaking. She looked like she didn't recognize me. The doctor warned Anakin and me that this might be the case if she ever woke up again. "Who are you?" Her eyes darted around, likening her to a skittish animal when it felt cornered by a predator. "Where's my baby boy? Where's my Ani?"

I tried to keep myself from heaving a sigh of frustration. I just couldn't forgive myself for allowing this to happen to Anakin, but I hadn't thought about how it would affect his mother until I'd gotten here. "Shmi, I'm Anakin's boyfriend. He–" Answering the second and third question would have been far too painful to bear, so I was kind of grateful for her interruption. Kind of.

"You're dating a child?" Her voice squeaked incredulously. "My child?" She sounded absolutely horrified and this felt very, very wrong. It dawned at me that she may have lost more than just the ability to recognize people in the here and now. She remembered Anakin, obviously, but… She may have lost a lot of memory if she believed Anakin was a child.

I gave her a wary look before continuing. "How old do you think Anakin is?"

"Thirteen," she immediately responded, as if that should have been obvious, as if she believed Anakin truly was thirteen. "I know how old my son is," she said indignantly. Ten years. She lost ten years of her life. "I will get my husband involved! He'll arrest you!"

"Shmi, listen to me." She was looking at me as though I might be torturing her baby. "I am Obi-Wan Kenobi," I said slowly. "Anakin and I have been together for a while now." I twisted a bit, slipping the ring into my pocket now and pulling my cell phone out. I unlocked it to find a nice, appropriate picture of Anakin to show her. When I turned it towards her, she looked absolutely confused. "This is Ani. He's…twenty-three."

"No," she said firmly, not wanting to believe me for a second. "He's thirteen," she said softly. The more she looked him over, the harder it was for her to deny that the man in that picture on my phone is her son. "He looks like his father." She brought the phone closer to herself, inspecting Anakin's face, tracing over his features. Watching her touch the picture with such love and care hurt me. She would hate me when I told her what happened to him. "I still see him as my thirteen year old baby. How is he twenty-three? Why can't I remember any of this?"

"You were in a terrible accident." I didn't know how much I should tell her. For one, she has severe brain damage. Her husband, Anakin's stepfather, died of cancer; the funeral had come and gone. I know the most devastating discovery would be that her son was dead as well. It felt like a knife was being twisted in my chest when I thought about it. No child should pass before their parent, and that's exactly what happened to Anakin. The man I love, woke up beside in the morning, held, cuddled, made love with… The man who became my everything was gone. Forever.

Explaining everything to Shmi was difficult, but I'd managed to stumble through bits and pieces of it. She was shaken by the knowledge of Palpatine's death and that she'd suffered through an abusive relationship that Anakin and I saved her from, but the fact that her brain was damaged hurt just as much. She wished she could have her memories back, that she could see the man Anakin became. We'd avoided talking about Anakin's present state as long as we could. Quin sat beside me, willing to give support if needed. I would break if I had to tell her the love of my life—her baby boy—was dead. And it was all my fault. Nothing would ever change the fact that I was responsible for his death. "Can you… Can you bring my Ani to me?" she asked quietly, innocently. She was still stuck in the frame of mind where Anakin was barely a teenager, where he was as innocent as he could be. Now that I thought about it, that was the age when Anakin had lost his innocence. I shuddered, coming back to reality.

Her eyes were pleading with me much the same as Anakin's did when he desperately wanted something that he knew I would give him. "I can't." Quin actually took my hand now. I looked at him and saw the apologetic gaze there. At some point during the conversation, I'd taken Anakin's engagement ring into my hand once again, and now I couldn't help the fact that I was clutching it tightly. "Shmi… He's…" She silently urged me to continue, unaware of my heart leaping up into my throat as tears formed in my eyes. She wouldn't understand until I told her what happened. I hadn't been able to kiss Anakin one last time, to hug him. I hadn't been able to stroke his cheek or brush his hair back, combing through it with my fingers. The last time we'd been together was this morning. We'd showered together and he'd sleepily told me he wanted to go on vacation with me soon. Then he'd crawled back into bed to get some rest and I'd pressed a gentle kiss to his lips before I left for work.

I'd liked his idea and his eyes lit up when I told him that. He'd kissed me, pressing me against the shower wall, and that led to him dropping to his knees to give me mind blowing oral sex. His excuse had been that he 'wanted to taste me.' We'd made it through the day as we always did, but I should have urged him to take more time off since he's been so stressed with everything that's happened to him lately. I let him go to work and I lost him permanently. "What happened to him?"

"He was abducted." She looked horrified, but if only she'd seen him so frightened, so sad… Her reaction paled in comparison to his. I could still see him on that small screen, sobbing and mumbling things into a gag, bound to a chair. He must have believed I'd abandoned him then and he'd died hopelessly. "He…was…killed."

"No," she said, laughing slightly. It was that nervous kind of laugh that represented denial, that meant she was going to seriously lose it. "No, no, no!" she screamed like an inconsolable child. "Not my baby!" She started screaming in agony even though no physical pain was wrought upon her. I was on my feet in mere moments, trying to help her at first. I decided to hit the emergency button and allow the staff to deal with this. About a minute later, a nurse rushed in. Shmi sounded like she was being strangled, maybe even mauled by a wild beast. Seeing her like this in the wake of Anakin's death destroyed whatever crumbs of my heart were left…

•◊•

Quin stood in the doorway of my and Anakin's room, staring at my back. I walked around the room, grabbing Anakin's shirt, and touched things that were his. I held his shirt against my chest, wishing the warmth of Anakin's chest were there. I grabbed a chain with a pendant from my dresser and ripped the pendant off without giving it a second thought. Qui-Gon had given it to me for my twentieth birthday and I honestly can't believe I kept it this long. In place of the pendant was the engagement ring I'd proposed to Anakin with.

I slipped the chain around my neck and clasped it, resting the ring on my chest. As I glanced at it, I tried to hold back the next dam of tears that wanted to break.

"Have I ever told you how lucky I am?" he whispered beneath me, his hair a mess in the aftermath of our lovemaking.

"I seem to recall hearing it once or twice, my love."

He arched up against me, our stomachs and groins brushing together. He shifted until he was comfortable, then he kissed my nose. "Obi, you are the most amazing man I've ever met. If I didn't have the chance to love you, my life wouldn't be worth living."

"Don't say things like that," I whispered. "You, my love, are exaggerating. There—"

"—is no one like you on this planet." He stared up at me lovingly, showing me just how young he truly was in that moment. "Accept it, damn it," he said, chuckling.

I sighed and shook my head. "Fine," I said, giving in. "But only if you admit that you're beautiful." He rolled his eyes at me childishly before pulling me into a deep kiss.

Lightning flashed and my eyes roamed over to the window now, which he stood before in dark clothing, leaning forward against the windowsill to watch the storm. We'd just gotten back together and he was really shaky about a lot of the things he did, thinking that they affected the way I felt about him. I laid on the bed, silently watching him. "I couldn't sleep." I hadn't realized he knew I was awake until he looked over his shoulder, glancing in my direction in the darkness. Lightning flashed once again, illuminating his face. "Did I wake you?"

I turned to throw my legs over the side of the bed, sliding off of it entirely so I could pad over to him. I rested a hand on his chest as he slid his arms around me, holding me close. "No, love. I think I just knew you weren't in bed." I now moved my arms to circle them around his body, resting my head above his heart as I watched the storm roiling outside with him. "What's wrong?"

He sighed, his chin coming down to rest on the crown of my head. "Must you always know when something's wrong?" he asked wryly. I wouldn't be a very good lover if I didn't know something was bothering him and I could usually tell even when he tried his hardest to act like nothing was wrong. "I'm scared." I wanted to ask him why, but I felt like I already knew the answer. "What if Granta comes back, Obi-Wan?"

Tightening my arms around him, I nuzzled my face into his chest. "I'm with you again. I'll protect you from him." You're mine was an unspoken thought that crossed my mind. "He'll never touch you again so long as I'm alive."

He breathed shakily, his body trembling slightly. "I don't want to be alone." His voice cracked and he kissed my hair. He was so insecure, but it was one of the many reasons I loved him. He had me to reassure him when he was like this. "You won't leave me?" Was that what this had all been about? Him thinking I'd leave him?

I took a step back to see the terror in his eyes as the question loomed over our heads. I reached up to caress his cheek, smiling gently. "Now why would I ever do that?" He closed his eyes and leaned into my palm. When he opened his eyes, I kissed his jaw, whispering, "I love you far too much to even contemplate leaving you, Anakin."

I blinked rapidly, trying to make myself believe he was still alive. He couldn't be gone. He's too young. He's… He's not dead—can't be dead. "Obi…" Quin whispered.

I looked up and felt something odd, something very out of place. I didn't believe in the ability to contact the dead, but…what if he was here? "You worry too much." There was a beautiful light in his eyes as he laid miserably on our bed. He'd gotten the flu and was extremely sick, so I'd had him bedridden for almost two weeks. "You're such an old man," he teased.

Making a face at him, I replied, "Perhaps you're too young. I do enough worrying to cover for the both of us." He rolled his eyes while I stroked his sweaty hair. "I love you even when you're like this."

He rolled his eyes and turned his head to cough for a few moments. "I'm disgusting when I'm sick."

I leaned over him, kissing his forehead. "Then I love your disgusting self."

I was drowning in all of the memories I shared with him. There were so many things I loved doing with him, but just being with him… Now, that was the magical part of our relationship. I saw his tear-stained face after an argument, the way he kissed me in the rain after twirling around with his tongue sticking out, how he looked when he slept, when he showered, when he was happy. I saw how the sun played wickedly in his hair when we were at the beach, how excited and overjoyed he'd been when I proposed to him. The idea of spending eternity with him was so…beauteous.

This was all so overwhelming to the point where I collapsed, sobbing, and Quin moved quickly to pull me into his arms.

•◊•

Two weeks after Anakin's death, I'd received a strange note that had been placed on my desk. That morning felt very off and the note was only an addition to that feeling. Nonetheless, I felt like I needed to make the trip that was requested of me without question. I drove down to the pier, vaguely hoping somewhere in the back of my mind that this would be Xanatos or Granta planning to kill me. I couldn't bear living without Anakin these past couple of weeks. There was no laugh when I burned my hand and immediately sucked on the spot I'd burned, nor was there a smile of pure joy when he realized I'd been staring at him while he slept. It was so damn hard to get out of bed, knowing I would be alone each and every time I came back to it.

I stared out at the gray sky. Rain was sure to come soon. I parked the car and waited then, as I'd been instructed. Nobody was here and I waited anxiously for the gunshot that would end my life, reuniting me with Anakin once more. I just wanted this to be over with already. I want to be with Anakin again.

After several, long minutes, a black, glistening car pulled up and parked directly across from me, the windows shaded so darkly that, if not for the motion of the vehicle, I couldn't even tell whether or not there was a driver in there. When the car turned off, nothing happened. Then the door began to open slowly, almost theatrically.

In response, I pushed my door open. As promised, I hadn't come with my gun. It's not like I wanted to put up a fight regardless. If this man killed me, I would be with the love of my life again, I would be happy again. I had nothing to live for without him here.

The other man was dressed in all black, his eyes covered by sunglasses that seemed very unnecessary considering the darkness outside, as he stood with his arm over the top of the door. We were both silent and I looked at him, scrutinizing him. He had no gun, or any weapon as far as I could see.

Slowly, very slowly, he removed his sunglasses. My heart froze and my breath caught in my throat.

"Hello, Obi-Wan."