Title: For What You Dream Of
Rated: PG (Slight implied slashiness)
Summary: Obi-Wan, Anakin and the balance of the Force.
Disclaim: George Lucas owns the Jedi and their side of the schism. Planet name theived from the sublime Paul Magrs. One random Oscar Wilde quote.
Etc: This is the longest thing I have ever crafted. By quite a lot. kbk is my funky beta. Written for fun, finally finished for the Obi- Ani 'Angsty Anakin in August' challenge. I think I've finally managed to purge medieval history from my system. *fingers crossed*
_Hi, I'm standing in for italics_
_his earliest memory is of being held underwater_
He has been to Hyspero many times since. It is, as they say, beautiful. The sunlight glistens on the lakes, the vast banks of solar cells along the equator shimmer like seas themselves, the night side glows with the lights of cities that never sleep. It is a world where life itself is art.
_closing his lips against liquid death, eyes wide and stinging_
The Jedi are not welcome on Hyspero. For the planet and its people have their own ways of doing things, their own ways of listening to the Universe. They build sculptures of glass and steel to venerate it, they sing to it in the streets. The disciplined ascetism of the Jedi insults the Force of the Hysperons. They are, quite simply, heretics.
_the air boiling in his lungs, blood churning as it's oxygen disappears_
On Hyspero the Jedi have to flaunt their difference. The lightsabers on their belts become a warning rather than a utility. The cold cylinders reinforce the idea that the Jedi are dangerous. Sometimes this fear can be useful.
_carbon dioxide building up to attack the body that gave birth to it_
* * * * *
"I'd like you to go to Hyspero."
"Why?" The question comes out harshly, the tone bordering on confrontational. The thin, quiet aide in the corner of the room raises an eyebrow and leans forward slightly. Obi-Wan mentally berates his lack of self-control. He keeps his gaze level, but at the back of his mind he wishes that the thick carpet were just a little softer, to allow him to sink silently into its depths.
The Chancellor smiles slightly. "Kenobi is a Hysperon name, isn't it? I thought they might find you a little more...acceptable than most. One of their own."
"I am Jedi, Chancellor. Not Hysperon."
"Of course." The smile again. Unsettling, isn't it? "But every little helps in these situations. There is an ambassador from Alderaan leaving the planet in two days. The Republic wishes to provide an escort for him."
"The Republic security forces are perfectly-"
"The Seperatists are strong on Hyspero, Master Kenobi. The ambassador has survived two assassination attempts there. His bodyguards have not. He would feel safer under the protection of the Jedi." Palpatine lowers his voice significantly. "He has made a specific request."
"Then he shall have our protection. I'll leave as soon as I can arrange alternative care for my apprentice." Obi-Wan suppresses a shudder as a chill starts to snake its way down his back. He wonders if the air-conditioning needs repairs.
"Why not take young Anakin with you? I'm sure he'd be very interested to see your home planet. You must have a lot of fond memories." He smiles.
Obi-Wan freezes, just for a fraction of a moment. _He knows. He must know. He has access to the archives, he..._"Yes, Chancellor."
He bows low, forcing his eyes downward. Membership of the Jedi Order demands that he trust this man implicitly, trust all the Chancellors of the Republic. They would not hold their power if it were not the will of the Force, and a Jedi must respect that will. Even if they do not always respect those it chooses.
* * * * *
Halfway up the building, on the northern side, there is a garden. This in itself is not exceptional, the garden is one of many crowded along the terraces of the Jedi Temple. This one juts out from the structure, daring gravity to blink first. On two sides the garden ends at a wall and a rail, enough to stop you falling, not enough to prevent a jump. The other two sides are cloister. The plants grow wherever the architecture allows and a few places where it doesn't.
The centre of this improbable courtyard is the purpose behind the overhang - a shining floor of glass, seemingly to wide and too thin for such a height.
Anakin, nineteen and brazen with it, stands in the centre.
Anakin's earliest memory is of sand in a cup of milk. Sharp little remnants of rock floating in the liquid, coating his tongue and scraping the inside of his throat.
Glass is just heated sand, he tells himself.
"I'm not going out there." Fenri, who runs faster and has a longer braid, looks at Anakin with a mixture of incredulity and trepidation. She is scared of heights despite her training, and more to the point she has told Anakin about this on numerous occasions.
"It's not going to break. Look." He jumps up and down a few times. Fenri winces slightly. Anakin grins, suddenly sly. "Well, if you're scared..."
She glares at him. "I'm not!" Her lightsaber is in her hand in an instant, her feet moving purposefully across the glass. She doesn't look down.
Lightsabers ignite, green and violet. "Just remember," she tells him as they circle each other, "that there is no shame in losing to me. I've got two years plus early childhood on you. Your victory is measured in how long you can hold me off."
Anakin nods. "So what's your victory measured on?"
"How quickly I can-" Anakin almost isn't fast enought to stop her winning immediately. Almost. He parries the blow with millimetres to spare, stumbling back slightly.
Fenri jumps over his first attack, ducks under the second. Anakin manages to maintain the stalemate longer than she had expected.
He tries to work out where his advantage lies. Not in agility, speed only barely. She is slightly more predictable in her movements. He is taller. She is scared of heights.
He drops to the ground, rolling to avoid her blade. Fenri keeps her eyes on her opponent, closes her mind to him when he projects a sensation of falling. Anakin realises that this isn't going to work. He pushes himself up, he needs to take back the advantage of height. He leaps, somersaulting over her head.
His foot slips as it makes contact with the glass. He feels his centre of gravity tip backwards, his feet leave the ground and the air leaves his lungs at the impact. He looks up to see Fenri's blade at his throat. His own lightsaber is gone, fallen from his grip as he tumbled.
"Very good, Skywalker." She switches off her lightsaber and returns it to her belt. "Do you know what you did wrong?"
"I fell." He picks himself up, cataloguing each of the new pains he has just discovered.
"You underestimated her." The padawans turn guiltily as Obi-Wan emerges from the cloisters. "Well done, Padawan Modiki, that was an impressive victory."
Fenri bows and mumbles her thanks, blushing slightly.
"If you'll excuse us, Fenri, I must speak with Anakin."
He watches as the girl scurries off. Back to her books, probably, thinks Obi-Wan. Apparently this is what most Padawans do with their time, instead of foraging for parts to build yet another slightly pointless machine. "She doesn't like me," he comments.
"She thinks you're mean." Obi-Wan looks surprised. His skin flushes and he stares down at the distant streets of Coruscant.
Don't you worry about falling?" he asks.
"If it wasn't safe it wouldn't be here, Master." Anakin gazes past his own feet and through the glass. "Everyone's afraid of it. I don't think I've ever seen anyone walk on it that didn't have to."
"You're not scared of anything." Anakin's voice holds such conviction, and Obi-Wan has to hold back the reflexive laugh at the statement.
"I don't like water," he says finally.
"You taught me to swim."
"I had to. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to lose your Apprentice? I'd never live it down."
Anakin blinks. "You're teasing me again!" He grins as Obi-Wan gives in to the smile trying to form on his own mouth.
* * * * *
They leave mere hours later - the Jedi are renowned for travelling light. A space-scarred red transport rises slowly above the Coruscant skyline, solid and nondescript. It carries a crew of twenty, a large cargo of machine parts, a small, carefully hidden quantity of semi- contraband tropical plants, and two slightly tired Jedi.
Obi-Wan shrugs his robe from his shoulders and produces, from somewhere, a thick, leather-bound book. He hands it to Anakin.
The teenager frowns as he takes it, "What is it?"
Obi-Wan raises his eyebrows and Anakin looks down at the object in his own hands. He squints to read the faded black lettering, "A Short History of Hyspero." He opens the book carefully and flicks through thin, rustling pages.
"Which I expect you to have read by morning, Padawan."
"Master..." he begins, but Obi-Wan raises a hand to silence him.
"A Jedi is always prepared, Anakin. What if you were unwittingly to break a cultural taboo and cause some sort of incident? Again."
Anakin flinches, ever so slighty. "You know that was an accident, Master. How was I to know that-"
"Well, this time you _will_ know." He smiles wickedly and turns towards the door.
"Aren't you going to help me?" Anakin looks confused. The book is suddenly a little heavier, the thin pages a little more numerous.
Obi-Wan doesn't turn around, calls over his shoulder; "I'm going to bed."
Hearing Anakin follow him, Obi-Wan stops at the doorway, spins round to face Anakin so suddenly that his apprentice almost stumbles into him.
"No." He stretches his arms out to block the entrance.
"I want to."
* * * * *
"I like it here."
"Why?" They are in the streets, where they are unwanted and where they have no real reason to be. The closest Obi-Wan can find to reason is that Anakin is young and restless and doesn't want to spend their only free afternoon in a palace. "Palaces are boring," he'd complained. So here they are.
"There's no sand." Anakin grins, because in this hostile city he is in his element. He fits in best, Obi-Wan notes yet again, in places where he can never hope to never fit in. It's the strange mix of infamy and anonimity, being unusual makes the boy feel acceptable.
"I expect you to pick up a little more about this planet than the lack of sand, Padawan. Looks around you. Learn."
Anakin blinks at him. "Can't we just have fun? We have nothing better to do." Which isn't true, he knows, but he says it anyway. Obi-Wan had been becoming as claustrophobic as his Apprentice in the palace.
"Anakin if you were a little less worried about 'fun' and more concerned with..." He tails off.
Anakin sees his Master staring up at a red and yellow sign above the entrance to a canvas tent: _Fortunes Told_. "You have _got_ to be kidding..."
Obi-Wan smiles at him. "Well, I have nothing better to do. It might be fun."
"Never be closed to local cultures Anakin. I won't be long." He produces some coins and hands them to Anakin. "Why don't you have a wander round, hmm? See what you can find."
"Oh, and Anakin?"
"Don't break anything."
The boy grins, "Yes, Master."
* * * * *
The fortune teller's tent is dark and cool. It smells of spices and lingering smoke. Obi-Wan finds it quaint. He smiles a little, but he wonders if this is a mistake. At best, the mystic can tell him a few stories and take his money, at worst he lends credence to a heresy. He realises that he is nervous.
He jumps at the sound. The reaction makes the old woman smile as she pulls the tent-flap closed. She shambles over to the pile of cushions at one side of the tent, half-sits, half-collapses onto them.
She gestures for him to sit, and he sinks onto the threadbare carpet crossing his legs under him.
"Eretychi. It's my name. Now tell me yours, boy." From somewhere in her layers of clothing she produces a pipe and lights it. She draws on it, breathes in deeply, then stares at him through a cloud of exhaled smoke.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi." He looks up as the smoke rises to mingle among the ribbons and feathers hanging from the ceiling of the tent. Very ethnic, he thinks, very traditional. The old bat probably lives in a high-rise in the suburbs. Does this all for the tourists.
"Your boy," she nods her head to one side to indicate the doorway, "He's got that Force of yours dripping off him."
"Yes." He is perfectly calm, now that he knows this all about illusion. Anakin is a Jedi, and this woman hasn't shown any magical insight.
"Frightening, isn't it?"
The skin on his back begins to chill as the tiny hairs along it lift from his skin. His heart beats slightly, almost imperceptibly faster. He forces the breath from his lungs. "The Force isn't frightening, Mother," he uses the honorific in the lightly condescending fashion of the young, "It never causes harm to any lifeform. It is benevolent."
She fixes him with a steady gaze, still smoking on her ridiculous pipe. "Is that what they teach you in that temple of yours?"
"Yes." Cold, almost aloof.
"Then may the gods protect us. You all running around the galaxy with your fancy laser swords and your silly haircuts and that's what you think you're serving. There's no hope for any of us, is there?"
* * * * *
Meanwhile, in the air and in the sunlight, Anakin stands on the corner of the street, trying to make up his mind. The force is indeed dripping off him. It gathers in clumps and bundles, disperses into waves and swirls. Today it is green, with shades of violet. But Anakin does not know this, because this is not the way the Jedi think that the Force should be.
He looks up at the towers and the domes. The people of Hyspero have made their world beautiful by viewing every object as a work of art. The buildings are not simply shelters from the elements, they are poetry in stone and glass and metal and plastic. Wooden spires climb from concrete, copper mates with transparency. Hyspero is a popular destination for tourists.
Anakin is also, in his own way, a tourist. He decides that he wants to see some art.
* * * *
_There was a time, so long ago now, when wars were fought on Hyspero. 'Religious conflict', said the star charts of a thousand worlds, and Hyspero was carefully and studiously avoided. Trade routes were moved and tourism became a footnote in history. There was espionage and there was intrigue, but nothing could get better until the worst was gone. _
_Hyspero was a pariah by this time anyway, the worlds around it sought the protection offered by Jedi Order, which was newly-formed and stonger than the strange, stubborn faith of the Hysperons. The Jedi had said that the Force could not be vicious and could not be sensuous. Schism had arisen and divided._
_So the Hysperons fought alone, amongst themselves. First one side then the other triumphed with the destruction of cities and continents. "It's Hysperic," said the people of far-off stars when the wanted to suggest chaos._
_Towards the end of the wars, the Jedi turned up, but no one these days is entirely sure what happened next._
* * * * *
Obi-Wan is not weak-minded, or so he likes to think. He is not impressionable. He is not susceptible to suggestion. He is Jedi.
He stares at the old fortune teller, her papery skin and her smoking pipe. He remains, he tells himself, in control. "I shouldn't be here," he says, and considers standing up.
"But you are." The woman looks amused but her tone is not quite disinterested and he knows that she is intrigued.
Obi-Wan nods, slowly, "Yes, I am." He laspes into silence for a few moments. Smoke swirls past his eyes as he unconciously bites his bottom lip. He stares at the edge of his own sleeve, at the point where skin meets cotton.
"I have...dreams," he says finally.
* * * * *
Anakin finds his art, as one does on Hyspero, everywhere. He follows elaborate plazas and exotic streets, staring at anything and everything. He runs his fingers over shining surfaces and widens his eyes to take in all the colours. He wanders, not quite realising how far he has come from the street market where he left his Master. When he sees how far the sun has moved across the sky, he shrugs off the worry and starts slowly back the way he came. Everything will be fine, he tells himself and breathes in the hot dry air of the city.
He meanders, enjoying himself. He wishes he could do things like this more often. He passes back along a row of shops, bright canopies stretching out over the cobblestone street. He sees a stall selling small smooth fragments of Hyspero. A round, grey stone sits among the blues and the reds, calling to him with its simplicity.
He lifts it from the shaky table, tilts it round a dozen angles to watch the light skitter across its dull surface. It fascinates him. The light rushes over it, pulling the stone from pitch black to brilliant white and back again. He wonders at the sense of unity.
"How much is this?" He cradles the stone protectively in his palm, the fingers of his left hand running over the coins in his pocket. He wants this.
He can have it, because the price the trader asks is lower than the value of the currency in his pocket. For once, Anakin doesn't have to be denied beautiful things. He slips the polished stone into his robes, feeling its weight pressing against him. Possession is forbidden, but this is not really possession, is it? It conducts the heat from his body through the fabric of his clothing, it adds sensation to his life.
He thinks of Obi-Wan and of firm hands against his own skin. He closes his eyes for a moment, the illusion shattering as he breathes in entirely the wrong scent. His eyelids flutter open again, he feels slightly embarrassed.
He moves on a few stalls, to where a man is disembowelling fish. The smell of decay is overwhelming this close to, but Anakin has never minded the scent. Fish, after all, live in the ocean, and when you are near the ocean you are far away from the desert. But for the moment, he isn't hungry and he moves to turn away from the stall. But as his feet begin to move his eye catches the bright and badly- spelled sign above his head; _Aurim Kenobi Qualti Fishmungers_. He stops at this at reads the words again. He blinks once or twice. Finally he drops his gaze to the man gutting fish and asks him, "Is your name Kenobi?"
The older man looks from Anakin's eyes to the lightsaber and back again. "Why? What do you want?" Already the man is beginning to pack up his stall.
Anakin spreads his hands in the galactically-recognised gesture of the non-confrontational. "Nothing, I'm just...that's my Master's name. Is it Hysperon?"
"A Hysperon Jedi?" The fishmonger continues filling crates as he looks sceptically at the teenager before him. "I don't think that's very likely. We don't-"
"Like the Jedi."
"Well, you could put it like that, if you felt like it. Wouldn't be too far off."
"But the name, it's Hysperon?" Anakin feels himself getting irritable. He tries the meditative techniques Obi-Wan has taught him.
"Yes." The man has stopped packing up now, evidently convinced that the Jedi won't cause any trouble. Not the physical kind, anyway. The boy just wants some information. Best just to give it to him until he goes away.
"What about Obi-Wan? Is that a Hyspero name?"
"Never heard it my quite considerable life."
"Well then," says Anakin carefully, tension barely hidden in his voice, "Is there anyone who would have heard of it?"
The fishmonger looks at the boy, steadily. He raises his arm and points to a doorway further along the street. "Constantine."
"I'm very grateful for your help," lies Anakin. He turns from the man and starts towards the mysterious doorway. After two steps he pauses, looks back. "May the Force be with you," he says, and smiles to himself.
* * * * *
The woman, the fortune teller, the mystic, the heretic...hold Obi- Wans hand in hers, palm facing upwards.
"Is this really necessary?" he asks, his voice a little too high.
She looks up into his eyes. "Do you want answers?"
"Then you'll have to trust me, won't you?" She grins, toothlessly. Obi-Wan wonders what he is scared of. "You Jedi," she continues, "Always so hesitant, always so orthodox about everything."
"Have you met many of us?" He finds that he is intrigued despite his misgivings.
The old woman looks back at his palm. "Just you and your boy."
"Then how do you know what we're like?"
She doesn't answer. "This is the bit where you give me money and I tell you that you're going to settle down with a nice young woman and have three beautiful children."
Obi-Wan rolls his eyes and reaches his free hand into his pocket. He produces the correct amount of the correct currency - a Jedi is always prepared. He places it on the floor next to the fortune teller. She nods approvingly. "Good boy."
"The dreams," he prompts.
"I thought you lot were supposed to be patient?"
He sighs and lets her examine the lines on his hand. He shifts uncomfortably.
"A darkness," she says finally, and he stares at her.
"Yes. What else?"
"Nothing you don't already know. An enemy you thought you could trust, deaths..." her eyes are glazed now, she seems blind to the world. Obi-Wan hears his blood pounding in his ears. "Fire...pain..." Her eyes widen suddenly and she stares up at him, sightless. "Balance."
The old woman flinches suddenly and Obi-Wan moves forward to catch her. When he is certain she is fully conscious he sits back down, legs folded beneath him.
"It's him." She says, her voice shaking as she speaks. "Your boy." The old woman closes her eyes.
"He'll bring balance." Her eyes snap open, "Why did you bring him here?"
"We were sent by the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic."
"Get him away from here. As soon as you can."
She looks at him sadly. "You know how we feel about the Jedi on Hyspero. You of all people."
He doesn't ask how she knows. He has learned that sometimes acceptance is the only path.
"Balance isn't what the Jedi think it is, Obi-Wan. Although you're wondered about that yourself, haven't you?"
He nods. The admission, strangely, doesn't seem such a betrayal anymore. He worries that this world is starting to affect him.
"You can't stop it," she continues, "It's too powerful."
"Will I be ready?" He wants some comfort, a logic with which to pull apart his nightmares.
"Just keep the boy safe. Do whatever you have to, but keep him safe."
"Is something going to happen to Anakin?" He is alert, worried.
"I'm not talking about Anakin," she says. Obi-Wan feels confusion swarming in his mind.
"You'll find out," she says. "You'll find out eventually." She pulls back a curtain and looks at him, eyes glistening. "Once everything's balanced."
She disappers behind brightly coloured fabric and Obi-Wan is left standing alone and trembling. He breathes in slowly, and walks out into the sunlight.
* * * * *
"I'm looking for some information." Anakin has found the door and the room and the man. The young Jedi stands by a tall glass sculpture, staring at his would-be informant.
"Oh are you now?" The old man is unimpressed.
"I was told...they say you..."
"Out with it boy, I haven't got all day." He glares at Anakin with sightless eyes.
Anakin swallows, realises that he is thirsty. "I was told you know about names."
"That all depends on the name. And who you are." Constantine smiles tightly, but there is no pleasure on his face.
"I'm someone who wants your help." Anakin is impressed by his own avoidance of the question. "Do you know anyone called Kenobi?"
Raised eyebrows and a mirthless chuckle. "Oh, plenty. Useless, the lot of them."
"It would be a while ago." Anakin guesses. "About thirty-five years ago."
"Oh." Constantine gazes at nothing. "That."
* * * * *
_On Hyspero, all life is art. But as the say in the desert, all art is quite useless..._
The street bustles with talk and trade. The planet continues as it has always done.
Obi-Wan closes his eyes, and tries not to remember.
* * * * *
"We knew they'd come for him. We said he'd bring nothing but grief."
"The Jedi?" He asks, but the old man ignores him.
"One of them came for him to take him back with her to that palace of theirs. Had officials in from the Republic telling us that we were doing things wrong. Took the Universe away from us." Sigh. "A few moments more and we would have been safe. Just a few moments and they wouldn't have been able to do anything."
"What did you do?" Like ice, like a blade.
"He was in the water when she came. His mother held him under herself. Tears almost drowning her but she knew it had to be done. Had to keep the Jedi away from Hyspero. Had to do what was needed."
"You tried to kill him." Anakin is quiet. He is surprised by how dangerous his own voice sounds.
"Of course. That Force that they like so much had plans for him. A part to play in dreadful things. The Jedi trust that thing, they've got no idea what's going to happen to them."
"What?" Almost silent now, a low whisper.
"Darkness. It's going to bring darkness. Some obscure reason of its own, but it's going to kill so many people to do it. It wants balanced. We took that little Kenobi brat to the Elders and they looked at him and they saw it. Not him, but he's a part of it. Better for all of us if he was dead. Better for all of us."
He doesn't see Anakin start to move, because of course the old man is blind, but he feels the fingers close around his throat, he feels them tighten. He feels his lungs burning. He is drowning in the air, suffocating in a wide room. His hands move to cover Anakin's, but he knows that the boy is stronger. He wonders what he has done wrong.
Anakin lets the body drop from his grasp and stares at it in confusion. He has never killed before, not like this. He wants it not to have happened.
He needs to find Obi-Wan.
* * * * *
Anakin is breathless and stumbling. It hadn't seemed so far the first time.
"Are you alright, Anakin?" There is concern in the voice and Anakin bites back the urge to tell him everything. It wouldn't do, he decides, to upset his Master needlessly. Anakin can keep this secret, what difference will one more make to anything?
"I'm fine, Master," he manages. "I just worried that you'd leave without me. I thought I'd gotten myself lost."
"Well, you're back here now. Not to worry."
Anakin notices that his master is distracted. "Did she tell you something bad?"
Obi-Wan makes himself smile. "She told me I'd meet a wonderful woman and have too many children."
Anakin laughs, because he feels he is expected to.
Obi-Wan places a hand on his shoulder. It is a welcome heat. "We'd better get back. We have people to protect."
They leave the streets together, and the bustle continues behind them.
* * * * *
Obi-Wan kneels on the deck of the Ambassadorial ship, his Apprentice standing guard in the next room while he meditates. He breathed slowly in and out as he runs the mantra over and over in his mind:
_There is no emotion, there is peace._
_There is no ignorance, there is knowledge._
_There is no passion, there is serenity._
_There is no death, there is the Force._
_There is no emotion, there is peace._
_There is no... _
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