AUTHOR: Diena Taylor
SPOILERS: Only for Jedi Quest #7
A/N: I know this is shameless pimping, but this story can also be found at the new (slash and concrit friendly) SW archive The New Empire (http://www.mynewempire.com)
Also, this story is an AU of the "Jedi Quest" universe, but I've been told you don't have to read the books to understand what's going on.
PAIRING: Obi-Wan/Anakin (implied, pre-slash)
SUMMARY: After coming out of the Zone of Self-Containment, Anakin searches for a way to duplicate the feeling.
Ö Iím getting too familiar with the floor
Trading in my talents by the mouthful.
Hate to break it to ya
But itís out of my control
Voices go to work while we are sleeping
If I could attack with a more sensible approach
Obviously, thatís what Iíd be doing. - ďGravityĒ, The Dresden Dolls
It was never truly dark on Coruscant. Lights from passing speeders, billboards, and massive buildings lit up the night sky like pinpoint beacons. Even in the lower levels, there were streetlamps and spotlights, and although it was darker, it still had the feeling of filtered daylight.
There were shadows in the lower levels. Losing oneself was easy down here, despite the light. Slip into the shadows and disappear, as so many had over the years. Anakin Skywalker had discovered that his dark-colored Jedi robes only helped him fade into the background. He skirted from shadow to shadow, ducking into the occasional club or bar, trying to find something - anything - that could give him peace.
Anakin hated what he was becoming. Since coming out of the Zone of Self-Containment, heíd been searching for something to duplicate the feeling - or lack of. The contentment, the pleasant awareness that the Zone had provided him was something he knew he would never achieve on his own. No matter how much he meditated, no matter how he tried to release his anxieties and anger into the Force, he couldnít seem to find that sensation again.
So here he was, in the lower city, trying to find it in a different way. He hated that he'd been lying to Obi-Wan, hated that his performance in his classes and on missions was suffering, hated the out-of-control feeling so many of the substances heíd tried provided.
Still, he searched. Still he tried anything handed to him, drank anything that even remotely looked like it would take the edge off his Force-sense. He didn't want to dull his powers, but he didnít want to _feel_ so strongly, so passionately. Time and time again he'd been told that a Jedi was calm and emotionally steady. Anakin was neither, and he had realized that he would never been a good Jedi if he couldnít find a way to damper his swirling emotions.
He kept the hood of his cloak up, partially to hide his Padawan braid, partially to provide himself with at least the semblance of security. He had his lightsaber, and so far hadnít had to use it - but given where he was, and who heíd been dealing with, it was better to be prepared.
He followed the shadows to a bar he'd never been to before. So hole-in-the-wall that it didnít even have a sign over the door, the bar was dim and smoky and Anakin knew that nothing legal was going on within its walls. The air felt as sticky as the floor, but Anakin ignored the unpleasantness and perched himself on one of the barstools. Apparently the bar only served one type of liquor, because before he could even order the bartender had slammed down a glass of something purplish and moved away.
Anakin picked up the glass and eyed the liquid critically. It didnít smell too foul, at least. Raising the glass to his lips, he scanned the bar, picking out the potential dealers - that Twi'lek in the corner seemed like a pretty good bet.
The liquor was sweet and cloying, and reminded Anakin of the medicine his mother would give him whenever he was ill as a child. The thought of his mother sent a cold stab of guilt into his gut. What would she think if she knew what he was doing? He'd wanted so much to make her proud... what was there to find pride in _here_?
To console himself, Anakin knocked back the rest of the drink and told himself that he was doing this to become a better Jedi. If he was going to be a great Jedi, a Jedi to fulfill a prophecy, he needed to be able to be free of emotions. The Zone of Self-Containment had given him that, but now...
The purplish liquor was replaced almost the moment Anakin set his empty glass on the bar. He scanned the dark room again, and again decided that the Twi'lek was his best bet for the time being. The other being didn't look armed - that didn't mean anything, but it didnít hurt - and seemed to be conspicuously trying to remain inconspicuous. Anakin made quick work of his second drink and made his way over to the Twi'lek.
"Want a favor?" the Twi'lek asked in heavily accented Basic. Anakin was disgusted with himself that he knew the street language as well as anyone who made their business in it.
Anakin flashed his credit chit, making sure to shield his actions from the rest of the room with his cloak. "What are you offering?" He didn't even sound like himself, down here. Anakin could feel something dark and fearful twisting around his heart, and he forced himself to ignore it.
The Twi'lek reached into the folds of his own cloak and drew out a vial of bright blue powder. "Crash and Burn," he said softly. "Best out there. Pure." He eyed Anakinís credit chit. "You can try some now, but then itís 20 credits per."
Anakin sighed, and waved his hand slightly. "10 credits," he murmured, feeling sick, his hate for himself and his wriggling twisting fear increasing. What would Obi-Wan say if he could see Anakin using his powers this way? What would any of his fellow Padawans say?
It didn't matter what they would say, Anakin told himself sternly, because they werenít going to find out. Simple.
"For you," the Twi'lek said, "ten credits." He held out the vial with two fingers, the long nails scraping against each other in a way Anakin was convinced only he could hear.
"Iíll try it first," Anakin replied, sliding into the seat across from his new business partner. He accepted the vial from the Twi'lek and held it up to the light. The powder was actually some kind of crystalline substance, and Anakin wondered what, exactly, was in it. Or what it would do. He was being foolish, stupid, taking substances like this, with no regard to their potential effects. He didn't care. He needed to be a better Jedi, be a better man. How could he do that with his emotions so out of control?
The Twi'lek raised a hand and a moment later, another glass of the purple liquid was deposited in front of Anakin. "Mix it all in," the dealer instructed him. "It's the best way. Less noticeable... evidence of use."
Ah. No track marks or corroded nasal passages or damaged lungs. It was quite clever, Anakin decided, doing as he was told. The blue crystals did not do anything to alter the taste of the syrupy liquor, but Anakin could feel them working almost instantly.
The first thing he noticed was calm. The voice in the back of his head yelling at him that this had all been a horrible idea was silenced; the slithering fear and shame had retreated. He could feel his perceptions shifting, becoming clearer, less addled by outside influence. This was what he'd been looking for. Although he felt slightly sluggish and lightheaded, he decided that the drinks heíd consumed could account for that.
This was _it_.
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