Title: Whatever You Say
Author: Erin Maloney
Distribution: The Achieve. Anyone eles, just ask.
Disclaimers: I don’t own anything, George Lucas does. The song is by Martina McBride and was written by Tony Martin and Ed Hill.
Warnings: None that I can think of, possible OOCness. Possible foreshadowing.
Category: Inspired by a song fic cause it ain’t really a songfic. Possibly pre-slash, though it can be seen as general. Angsty.
Pairings: Since its pre, are Obi and Ani really a couple in the true sense of the word? Ani/Amidala may sneak in, but not in a true romantic sense, thought I should warn you about it anyway.
Summary: Anakin’s thoughts mostly, though Obi-Wan sneaks in, as does Palpatine.
Anakin sighed and it echoed loudly in the rooms he entered, the ones he now shared with his Master. Typically, he was the only one there.
Upon reaching his fifteenth birthday, he, like other Padawans his age, had moved from the Padawan quarters to those of their Masters. It wasn’t that he minded his new accommodations; he loved having more room to himself.
After a long day of classes that failed to capture and hold his attention, he loved to kick back and relax. The kitchen was stocked with good food or ingredients if they decided to make a meal from scratch. Or a snack, he was rather fond of the Coruscant cakes.
His Master had given him his choice of rooms and he had chosen one with a view of the city. The first thing he had done-secretly, of course, was find out which direction Tatooine was and accepted that one, it made him feel closer to his mother. Something he knew that his Master and the Jedi Council would not approve of.
They feared the bond of love between them. But it didn’t matter to him, not in the slightest. She was his comfort, his strength. He missed her, wished that she was here with him.
Of all the things he regretted, losing her was the only thing that came to mind instantly. As he stood in the room, the silence around him was deafening, reinforcing his feelings of total and complete abandonment. If she were here, things would be easier for him to bear.
Not that he regretted coming to Coruscant with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon or helping them. Training to be a Jedi was everything to him. It was something he had always dreamed about and knew that his mother had hoped for when she realized he had unusual abilities.
But…looking around, he couldn’t help but feel misplaced.
Incongruous among the calmness of the place. Obi-Wan had done his best to make it a center of warmth and security for him. Somewhere that he would feel welcome and accepted. Anakin appreciated the gesture. Really he did, even if he felt it was utterly wasted on him.
It was just that…the loneliness of their quarters depressed him.
As much as he hated to admit it, he found that he needed more than just a surface of welcome and acceptance. He needed to have more than his thoughts for company. He was no longer as self-sufficient as he had been on Tatooine, no longer satisfied with just himself for company.
Not that he didn’t have companions there, he had several he loved to spend time with. And there was his mom. It was just that, being a slave automatically put fences between him and the other children.
He had gotten used to having others around him, being included in their days off and general horseplay. Here there were no boundaries between him and the others. He loved listening to their chatter. About how well they got on with their Masters and in their studies, how they were proud of them.
All he ever heard from his Master was how much he could improve. That he needed to focus more, to prepare more, and be mindful of his future. That he was better than his mediocre work showed.
They were no closer now than when they had first met.
He felt more like an obligation than a person to his Master…and he needed to be so much more. Not just feeling like it, but actually being it. To his Master, to his Master’s friends, and to his own peers. He felt so far behind all the students here, even though he knew he was far more advanced than they were.
And it wasn’t his arrogance talking. Anakin liked to think that he had a realistic view of his own capabilities, though there were those who would gladly disagree with that assessment. Yet, he knew this for truth.
They may have more training than he did having lived here for most of their lives. But when it came to using the power of the Force instinctually, none of them could reach him. Not even the Jedi Masters came close to touching his abilities.
Many considered him this “Chosen One” for his incredible talent. For his unusual birth and the way he could tap directly into the Living Force. Anakin had known himself that he was not exactly normal, even as a Jedi.
Of course, no one bothered to tell him this. What? Had they thought that he wouldn’t want to know about this? He had to find out in the usual way, through the rumor mill.
It was a very lonely path he walked.
And the one person who was supposed to help him, help ease that burden was nowhere to be seen. Master Obi-Wan Kenobi was there for him in the physical sense of the word but he denied him the support he really craved. He couldn’t complain about that even if he had wished to.
Oh, he realized that his Master was busy completing his own training under the tutelage of Master Yoda. Though Master Ginn had thought him ready for it and he had passed one of the greatest of trials ever put before a Jedi, Obi-Wan himself felt unprepared for the title and job.
Not to mention the other burdens that went with it.
From past experience, he knew that his Master would be of fulfilling one of them. Obi-Wan was either in a meeting with the Jedi Council about him, planning for their next mission, or, and this was the most likely possibility, meditating somewhere in the Jedi Palace.
He would rarely be found in their own quarters meditating.
Nope, that would mean that he might have to spend more than a few minutes with him. Sometimes it felt like he could barely stand to be around the young man he’d willingly made his Padawan six years ago.
The door chimed and in walked his Master. Instantly, Anakin turned to him, a tentative smile crossing his face. “Good afternoon, Master.” He greeted once his Master had removed his outer cloak and placed it on the hook.
After one serious mishap in the past, he knew better. Obi-Wan had to become acclimated to the safety of their home environment before he said anything.
Obi-Wan looked up, startled out of his thoughts by the voice. The surprise didn’t last. “Oh, hello, Padawan. Aren’t you supposed to be out with your class? I could’ve sworn Master Windu was giving a lecture on the spatial equinox.” He spoke with a slight disapproving sniff in his voice, as if he suspected that Anakin had cut class.
The Padawan hid his disappointment over the lack of warmth in the greeting by lowering his head, his braid lightly smacking his cheek. His braid was such a joke, he thought bitterly. It isn’t as if he even notices me standing here, begging for some scrap of affection.
“Master Windu had to cancel, he was called into a meeting with Master Yoda and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine,” he quietly explained. He didn’t bother to elaborate, his Master would believe him or not, depending on his mood.
“Oh, I hope everything’s all right,” he said tiredly, rubbing his head as he walked by him. Entering the kitchen, he looked about absently, searching for something. Finding the kettle where he’d left it, he filled it with water and set it on the stove to boil.
While he waited for it to warm up, he became aware that his Padawan was behind him and asked him, only partially listening to the answer. “Was there anything in particular you wished for dinner?”
“Whatever you wish, Master,” he said dully. Unbelievable, he thought angrily, how one person could so reduce him to feeling like a child with so little effort and so unknowingly.
“Padawan, I don’t believe that I am an unreasonable man. If there is something you wish, let me know. I am sure that we can find it. Or order it,” he replied, pouring the water into his mug. “We can afford to be indulgent every once in a while.”
Anakin shrugged, not really knowing what to say. He knew it for the concession it was and he couldn’t help but wonder what it was about.
While the water was still steaming, he added his special blend of herbs to it and inhaled the fragrance before blowing on it and sipping it. Feeling it work almost instantly, he sighed in relief as the headache he’d felt coming on since the early morning recede. It was only when the pressure inside his skull was relieved that he picked up on the vaguely disturbed feelings from his Padawan.
Turning to face him, he asked, cradling the mug in his hands. “Anakin? Is everything all right?”
Anakin visibly started and stared at him, startled to hear his name. Usually, his Master addressed him with a look or by his title, never by his name. He’d begun to wonder if Obi-Wan had even remembered he had a name before they had come here. “I’m all right, Master.”
“Classes are going well?” he pressed. “You aren’t having any trouble, are you?”
“Fine,” he brushed that question off. His coursework never troubled him. It may have bored him, but he never found it troubling. Most of it was things he had learned by observation or listening to the talk about Tatooine. Also, his connection with the Force revealed many of the deeper things to his mind.An eyebrow rose at that statement. “Really, Padawan? That’s rather funny because it is not what I hear from your teachers. They tell me that you are inattentive and lack discipline. That you constantly challenge them and their teachings. Occasionally, you have been blatantly rude and argumentative. And during one class, if you would kindly remember, you got up and left the room using a very colorful colloquialism as you did. I had a difficult time convincing them to let you back in.”
He shrugged, looking faintly uncomfortable at the pointed reminder. It wasn’t like it happened in every class, only when he felt that what they were learning was wrong. He also knew that a lecture was sure to follow it and he didn’t really want to hear it.
“Anakin,” Obi-Wan warned.
Sighing, he relented and gave him the answer he knew Obi-Wan was waiting for, though he knew it would annoy his Master. “I can’t help it if I think some of the things they are saying are wrong.”
“But you can help when you mention it,” he replied.
“Oh, please. They won’t listen to me outside of class anymore than they do in the classroom,” he snorted.
“Nevertheless, it is unbecoming to mention their perceived failings in front of your peers. The classroom is their arena, not yours. They need to maintain discipline if they are to teach anyone effectively,” he lectured. “And if you keep mouthing off or showing them disdain, it does not help your case.”
“I know this,” he started.
“Not does it make a good impression on those you wish to impress,” he went on ruthlessly. “ It only enforces their opinions of you as an irresponsible and reckless youth. Not only that but it gives our impressionable children a bad example. Whether or not you see it, they look up to you. For all your young years, you have accomplished much. You are supposed to be a good role model for them, not a rebellious one.”
“Yes, Master.” He traced an invisible pattern in the ground, only half listening to him. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t heard all of this before and from others. They all pushed at him to conform. “I have been trying. You know I have, Master.”
“I know. It’s just that you don’t seem to try hard enough. You seem so,” he started to say when the com beeped. Reaching over, he picked it up and answered it with a curt greeting. “What?”
“Interrupted you, have I?” Yoda asked, a sharpness in his voice that caused him to wince. “Important work you are doing. More imperative than what words I have for you, sure of this you are? Call back later when less busy you are, should I?”
“No, Master Yoda,” he quickly said. “I apologize for my rudeness. What is it that you wish of me?”
“Wish to see you and Padawan Skywalker in our chambers, I do,” he replied.
“As you wish, Master Yoda,” he said good-bye and put it down. With a deep sigh of regret, he poured what was left of his drink down the drain. It wouldn’t do to keep the Council waiting for them. “Padawan,” he started but stopped at the sight that met his eyes.
Anakin stood in the doorway, his formal robe already on. A resigned look on his face, as if he had been expecting this. He held out Obi-Wan’s own cloak and helped him into it without complaint. Though the alarm bells were going off because he knew his Padawan was never this obedient even after a lecture, the Jedi ignored them for the moment.
There would be time to talk to him later.
At seventeen, Anakin had given up hope that his Master would see him as anything more than an unwelcome burden placed on his shoulders. A burden that had forced him to grow up and adapt faster than he would’ve liked.
Oh, he understood the reasons behind the behavior well enough. It was also true that in recent years, his Master tried harder to be a friend and confidant to him. Still, the memory of their first years together haunted him. Even now, he could still hear the tone in Obi-Wan’s voice when he spoke to Master Jinn about him.
Obi-Wan had never really approved of his presence. Like everyone else, he thought that he was too old for the training. He had told Master Jinn in his hearing no less that he felt that ‘the boy’ was dangerous. His Master truly felt that there was nothing to be done for him, that they should have left him alone on Tatooine, and had only took him on as his Padawan Learner because he had promised Qui-Gon that he would train him.
And the Council decided that he was too dangerous to be left to his own devices, especially when they found out that the Sith had returned. He had tried to convince himself that their feelings and treatment of him didn’t matter, that he would prove them wrong and make them proud of him.
And he had a true friend and ally in Palpatine. Palpatine helped him, in ways that the others never thought about. He always made time for him, always sought him out. The senator always had an ear ready to listen to his troubles and advice to go along with it.
That thought only worked for so long before the need to be accepted, to be loved, came over him. For the senator was never there when he really needed someone to be there for him.
Sighing, he pushed back the covers and went to sit in front of the window, staring out at the darkening sky. Once the stars came out, he let the darkness embrace him before he felt like he was drowning within it. The thought made him shiver momentarily before he pushed it aside as absurd.
He knew the night as no one else did. He did not fear it for he knew there was nothing in it that had the power to hurt him. Drawing his legs up under his chin, he stared aimlessly out the window, the dream still echoing in his mind.
Remnants of it reached out to him still, causing a shiver to rock through him, buffeting him under its intense waves. Closing his eyes against the light, he gave into the weight of the despair he’d felt calling to him. There was something unnerving about the light that hurt him. Within his soul, he felt a craving for the night to ease his aches.
On the same level that he now recognized the voice of the Force, he knew that it was not right to feel this way. To hear beyond what the Jedi did. Yet, something was out there, something that wanted desperately to talk to him.
Yielding to it, he fell into a deep trance-and woke up from it screaming.
Obi-Wan bolted straight up in bed, his covers falling unheeded to the floor, chilled to the bone by the sound. Leaping up, he left the room at a run and entered his Padawan’s room. Eyes searched the whole room, seeking out the source of Anakin’s distress.
Upon finding nothing, he faced his charge, puzzled. There was nothing in the room or the Force when he searched that should cause such an extreme reaction in him. Anakin was not one for flights of panic. It worried him, especially the pale complexion of the normally healthy youth.
Carefully, he approached the wide-eyed young man. As slowly as possible, he sat down. When the terrorized blue eyes met his, he tentatively rested a hand on the bare shoulder. “Anakin?” he found the name came easily to him.
It always did when he saw, not the Jedi Knight in training, but the young boy he had taken on as his Padawan Learner.
Anakin vaguely heard the voice and leaned instinctively into the half-hearted embrace. After a tense moment, the arms of his Master closed firmly about him, holding him securely to his warmth. One of his hands gingerly rubbed his back, as though afraid of how he’d react to it. Letting go of the dream, he relished the contact that happened so rarely in his life.
He felt…safe. Protected from the darkness that kept hounding him. It did not burn as the light at times did, nor did it feel cold like the dark. He recklessly drank it in, feeling rather drunk on it, all the while knowing it for what it truly was.
He couldn’t help himself, though.
False though the sense of security was, he let himself believe that Obi-Wan would keep him safe from the demons that plagued every one of his dreams all to often lately. It was the only thing he could do to prevent himself from going completely mad with confusion and anger he felt at his own helplessness.
Through their teacher/student bond, he could feel the younger man relaxing and realized that he would soon be asleep if he didn’t do something. And if he slept, Obi-Wan would never learn what had just happened. Though part of him wished to let it go, let the troubled young man sleep, he knew it was not the wisest thing to do.
From past experience, he knew that his Padawan would either deny it had happened at all. Or take his troubles to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. He knew that was partly his fault. He had not paid as much attention to him as he should’ve. There was always something else to do, something that came up and he just let Anakin and the full extent of his training slid by him in a rush to do what was required of him by the Council.
Still, that it was the senator that Anakin trusted with his inner thoughts, with his deepest secrets and worries, it galled him. For no matter what anyone said, he couldn’t find it within himself to trust the senator. The man reminded him of a large, greedy, poisonous spider, spinning a large and complex web about them all.
The analogy did little to comfort him.
Clearing his throat in an effort clear him mind, Obi-Wan tried to get Anakin to speak about his terror while it was still fresh in his mind. “What is wrong, my young apprentice?”The words threw cold water on his feelings of well being, even though he had been expecting it to happen. I am only an apprentice to him, he reminded himself both harshly and sadly. Obi-Wan can’t even bring himself to think of me as a friend, as a trusted companion.
Sniffing disdainfully at his thoughts, he shoved his feelings as best as he could into a small corner of his mind. His soul cried out from the loss of the comfort and connection it had felt only seconds before, craving them with every fiber of his being.
“Do the Jedi truly not dream?” he asked, half evading the question.
“It depends on what you mean by dreams, my Padawan,” he said after a bit of thought. Though he knew what Anakin was doing, he thought it best to let him compose himself, to gather his thoughts together. Looking out the window, he contemplated the night sky. It seemed different to him somehow, an oddly ominous coloring to it.
Shaking himself a little for his fanciful thought, he answered the question, perhaps with a little more honesty than he normally would’ve shared. “Most of the time, we do not. Before we go to bed, we usually meditate upon the day and cast our worries out into the Force.”
It was a pointed, but gentle remonstration.
“Our minds must be clear for anything the Living Force may wish to reveal to us at anytime, night or day. We as Jedi have visions, not dreams. For as you know, dreams are the way a mind entertains itself, we do not need to be entertained in such a manner. But dreams can occur, although that is a very rare happening. Dreams teach.”
“Really?” he pulled back and stared up at him, noting the way the moonlight threw his face into a stark relief. It made him look both wise and mysterious, dangerous even. It reminded him of how he looked on some of their missions, that strange mix of danger and wisdom had helped them out many times.
He wished that he knew the man behind the serene looks, what had gone into the creation of him as a person. May be, he thought, he’d get some answers tonight. It would be nice, he added wistfully. His Master seemed to be in an unusual mood, sharing his confidences easily rather than shutting down.
“No, I made that up to see if you were listening to me. I have to test you every now and again, wretched child,” he teased lightly. Once he got a small smile, he told him truthfully. “Master Qui-Gon told me that after I had had a particularly bad night.”
Tweaking the braid affectionately, he shook his head. Though there was a voice inside telling him to confide in his Padawan, he couldn’t bring himself to trust it. Besides, with that confidence, they would be crossing a line from student/teacher to friends. Obi-Wan felt it was to soon for them to attempt to cross that line.
So, he discounted his strong impression. “Anakin, this isn’t about what happened to me all those years ago. That is ancient history, which I know you find utterly dull. This is about what happened to you.”
“Nothing more than a bad dream,” he said, shutting down. It stung him, this reticence on his Master’s part to open up. How was he to feel anything more than a child when Obi-Wan refused to treat him equally? And he could feel his Master’s reluctance to trust him in this.“Are you sure?” he asked, not convinced by his words.
Oh, he felt that Anakin truly believed them, but there was something more, something resting beneath that surface of calm. Something that he wished he could put his finger on. Anakin was disturbed about something important, that much was obvious. Why wouldn’t he speak of it? “I can’t help you if you don’t let me know what you need.”
“Positive, Master,” Anakin shrugged off the concern like a duck shaking off water. He firmly pulled away and stood up, watching him from the corner of his eye.
“If you’re sure?” he hesitated as he rose. He felt as though he had let the situation slip out of his hands and didn’t know how to reclaim it. Still, he couldn’t push him to speak, it would only further separate them. He could only hope that Anakin would one day start to confide in him.
“I am,” he asserted. Straightening the sheets, he sat down, waiting to see what he would do. “Sorry for disturbing your rest, Master.” He finished, noting when he just stood there.
“Anakin,” he paused, studying his Padawan’s face. It was too calm for his liking, to still. It was so unlike him, that he hesitated in accepting his words as truth. “You do know that you can come and talk to me about anything that troubles you, right?”
Nodding, he watched as his Master slowly left the room giving him one final, searching look. Yeah, he thought with a ironic twist on his lips, I know. But it’s not like you really pay attention to what I have to say to you. You hear me, you just don’t listen to me.
When he met the Ambassador Amidala once again, he felt a connection with her he couldn’t explain. He was nervous to see her again, it had been ten years since they had. What if she didn’t remember him? Or he disappointed her?
Their meeting was anything but ordinary, due to the circumstances. An assassin trying to kill her was not the kind of meeting he’d wanted to have with her. Of course, it was highly reminiscent of their first encounter, so he wasn’t to upset. Danger brought them together then, it seemed only appropriate that it would reunite them now.
And, other than the assassin and the tragic circumstances of her arrival, she seemed genuinely pleased to see him again. It was not the uncomfortable meeting he had dreaded, far from it. It felt a bit like coming home to a good friend
Talking with her, laughing with her, he felt at ease with himself for the first time since leaving Tatooine. She listened to him and heard what he had to say with an open mind. She even had some words of encouragement for him, though she occasionally seemed to feel uncomfortable around him.
It must be love, he thought dreamily, but how does one know what love is?
Glancing around the room, he noticed his Master’s concerned look and felt a wash of comfort rush over him. Recognizing the tilt of his head, he nodded that he was well and went back to studying the room, relieved when he felt that all to often knowing gaze leave him.
On the other side of the room, he nodded his greeting at the Chancellor. The man crooked his finger, inviting him to join him. Anakin walked slowly over to him, a great reluctance weighing down his feet. For the first time, an uneasy feeling filled him.
His internal warnings were going off.
Suddenly, his Master’s words came back to him and he wondered if he was letting his suspicions cloud his own judgment. It was possible, he thought unwillingly, except that he’d never before let his words bother him. The two of them had had many arguments over his relationship with Palpatine. Why would they affect him now?
The Chancellor was a good man, he knew this. The Republic would be in greater trouble without his able guidance. Senator Amidala trusted him, he had helped her. He had helped them all in those days after the Qui-Gon’s death and the fight on Naboo.
It was he who helped guide and direct her through the complicated peace talks with the Trade Federation. As talented as the queen had been in the political arena, she didn’t have the same amount of credibility and pull as the Chancellor did among the other members of the Senate. Sure, they listened to her and valued her opinion. But it was not enough to propel them into actually helping her or siding with her.
Then why feel this doubt about him?
“My boy,” he greeted, “you seem most troubled. Surely you are not worried about this assignment? I recommended you for I feel that you will do your very best to protect the Senator.”
“Thank you, Chancellor. I do appreciate the vote of confidence. I do not believe that my Master feels the same way,” he said, feeling a twinge of disloyalty at the words. “Though I am sure it is only because I was a bit rash in our earlier discussions with my lady,” he hurriedly added.
“No need to explain, dear boy,” he soothed him. “Your Master is one of the wisest of the Jedi. I am sure that he honors your opinions, even when he cannot properly say so. There are certain constraints upon him, you know, for the things you do reflect upon his ability to train you.”
Anakin thoughtfully turned to look at Obi-Wan across the crowded room, trying to see him as the Chancellor said. “Do you really think so?”“Of course I do. Master Kenobi sees your potential as easily as I do. He is just bound by the code he lives by,” he smiled and accepted a glass from one of the passing waiters. “Tell me, what do you think you should be doing about the attempts on the Senator’s life?”
“I think that we should find out who’s behind them,” he decisively said. “Don’t get me wrong, Chancellor, I think we do need to protect her from these attacks on her life. We should avenge the loss of life on the landing. But it isn’t enough to merely protect her from these attempts. That only burns out our energy. Rather, we should spend that energy seeking the one who put the price on My Lady’s head. If we do this, then we can definitely stop them.”
“Would it help if I spoke with the Jedi Council?” he asked, watching him carefully. As good as his shielding had proven to be, there were still some cracks in them.
“Oh, don’t do that!” he protested furiously. A quick, furtive look around showed that they were alone and he went on, frantically. “Mas…I mean, they would think that I put you up to it.”
“Do you think that I am incapable of protecting myself from them? That I have so little ability to protect myself against suggestions from a Jedi? Even one as gifted as you have proven to be?” he teased, watching the young man color slightly. He found it most amusing to bait Anakin.
Had the boy but known it, he had given him a key to help drive a wedge between the Padawan and his Master. It troubled him that the two had been growing into their bond. They weren’t yet at the point were Kenobi allowed himself to see that they were equals and friends, but it was getting there.
“Chancellor,” he began to protest.
“No, Anakin,” he firmly interrupted. “I believe that you are quite right in your assessment of the situation. I shall speak with Master Windu. It was I, after all that suggested she have the Jedi protect her from these attempts. It will not seem at all out of place if I ask that they find the perpetrator of them.”
“I don’t know,” he hesitated. It was a nice way out and would give Amidala peace of mind to know that those who had killed her beloved friend would be found. Still, should he accept it? “I would hate to disappoint anyone.”
“You could never be a disappointment to anyone,” he paused, catching the startled look on Anakin’s face. “What is it?”
“I’ve got to go,” he walked as quickly as he could after his Master. “Master!” he yelled out, watching the cloak turn the corner. “Wait for me!” The demand left his lips, though he knew it was most unwise of him to request it.
If his Master had found the assassin, he should not wait.
Turning the corner at a run, he came to an abrupt stop. His Master was no where to be seen. In fact, the hallway was completely empty. “What?” he started to turn when a familiar feeling trickled through his consciousness. It was the feel of his Master nearby.
Glancing up, he saw that one of the tiles from the ceiling had been moved. A tile that lead into one of the utility pipes. “Go to the docking bay,” he whispered urgently to his Padawan. “I’ll try to intercept our friend from here. If not, the assassin will have to go there.”
“How will I know?”
“I tagged it,” he replied. “Quickly now, we can’t let it slip away.”
It? Anakin wondered, even as he followed his orders. And why hadn’t he noticed when the attack had been made? He cursed his unobservant attitude, knowing he’d never hear the end of it from his Master. He would have to be more observant in the future.
‘Yes, my Padawan?’
Why did I not hear or feel the attempt made on My Lady’s life?
‘There was no attempt, just a feeling I had.’
Oh. But I did not feel it.
‘You were otherwise occupied’, the reply sounded dry.
Still, I should’ve felt something. A sense of…he trailed off, realizing that he had been feeling uneasy all night. He had thought it had to do with a wave of doubt about the Chancellor. Obviously, the Force had been warning him about the assassin’s arrival.
‘A sense of what?’ Obi-Wan asked, pulling himself free from the large pipe he’d been climbing up.
Unease, Master. I realize that I had felt it but thought it was nothing more that being upset to be at that function. You know how I hate them. He tolerated them at best, endured them as a test of his patience at most. There seemed to be nothing to accomplish standing around and exchanging small talk with people one had little in common with.
‘Padawan, these functions are very important. They serve a very important role.’ He half-heartedly scolded as he scanned the room with his eyes and the feel of the Force. There was no point in bringing up an old debate. On this subject, his Padawan was as stubborn as his old Master was.
I know, Master, I know. There was a snippy sound to the rejoinder, he’d heard this lecture before to. It hadn’t impressed him then either. This was one subject he refused to bend on.
‘If you know of their importance, then why don’t you act like it?’ Turning towards the door, he made his way up to the rooftops.
Knowing of their importance and actually caring are two different things.
For a moment, he was tempted to scold him but gave up. It wouldn’t do either of them any good. Besides, he seemed to be at a dead end. Though he did not want his charge in danger, he hoped that he’d have more luck. ‘Padawan?’
‘Where are you?’
Near the docking bay. Why?
‘Be careful. The one we’re looking for isn’t here.’
And if I don’t find it down here?
‘Take your pod and meet me on the roof.’
Yes, Master. Master?
Why do you keep referring to the assassin as an it?
‘Because it’s a shape shifter.’
‘Keep your focus, Padawan.’
You too, Master. Though he was worried for his Master, he pushed it aside to focus on the matter before him. Slowly, he crept into the darkened area and felt about. Nothing.
Getting into his pod, he started up the engine and drove off to meet his Master on the roof. As he neared it, he felt a prickle of warning and glanced around, then up. He should’ve known, he thought ruefully.
Battling against a changeling, his Master waltzed around in a familiar dance to the young Padawan. For a moment, he just watched in awe before recalling his duty to his Master and the Order.
Guiding the ship as close as he dared, he levered it just right over the building before activating his saber and joining the fight. He caught his Master’s glare and shrugged, moving into a defensive position to best protect him.
Between the two of them, they forced the assassin to the edge.
Looking between the two and knowing this was the end, the body seemed to wilt before leaping off the building. If this was going to end, it was going to be by the assassin’s own wishes. Not the wishes of some Jedi Knights.
“Master!” Anakin yelled, shocked by the turn of events. He’d been so sure that they had her, then this happened.
Obi-Wan rubbed his face. “It is their own code of honor. They would rather die by their own hand.”
“But that is our only lead to who is trying to kill the Senator!” he protested.
“Do you think that I am unaware of that, my Padawan?” he sharply asked him. “What would you have me do?”
“How about stop it?” he snapped.
“I can no more stop that downward fall than you can, powerful though you are becoming,” he mildly retorted. “Have you not learned that there are limits to even the power of the Jedi?”
“We have to do something!” he argued, glaring down at him. It was on the tip of his tongue to point out that if they’d been searching for the real villain behind these attacks, this one wouldn’t have gotten away. Only the fact that he’d talked to the Chancellor stopped the words cold.
Palpatine would take care of everything.
“And we will,” he replied, picking something up off of the floor. “We can trace this weapon and find out where it’s from. I will go to the achieves tomorrow while you will watch the Senator. Right now, I must see the Council, tell them what has occurred. You will go back to the party, reassure everyone that all is well and remind her to leave the cameras on in her room. We shall have one of the other Jedi watch over her tonight.”
Anakin’s shoulders slumped, all the fight leaving him. “Yes, Master.”
“Anakin,” he stopped him from leaving, squeezing his shoulder. “This isn’t a punishment. This is for her comfort, as well as your own. I don’t think that you are as focused on this assignment as you should be. You seem distracted and worried. Have your dreams been troubling you?”
“No, Master. I can honestly tell you that it is not my dreams,” he said, walking beside him to the still hovering pod.
“Then is it your feelings for the Senator? Do you feel that we should turn this over to someone else?”
His head shook and he leapt up to the ship, extending a hand to pull Obi-Wan up to him. They climbed into the seats and started to descend, he answered the question. “No. She’s merely a friend that I wish to protect. My Lady has helped me out several times in the past, I’m returning the favor.”
“We need to get the body before it causes a scene,” he said, not wanting to get into further argument. Though he doubted it was as simple as Anakin was making it out to be, he knew that his Padawan felt that it was. No point really in trying to push him, he sighed to himself. “Then what is it?”
“It is nothing,” he insisted.
“Are you sure?” he pressed.
“I’m fine,” he said.
“You’re so fine that you missed the warning signals the Force was sending out about the assassin being there? So fine that you can’t seem to control your impetuosity for a few moments to hear when I’m speaking to you?”
He flushed, knowing that his Master was referring to the order to stay on the pod and keep their prey from fleeing. “All right, I let my worry overwhelm me. It won’t happen again.”
“I certainly hope not,” he said. "I need you to be at your best, Padawan. If you can’t give me that, then I need to know it now. I need you to be here with me, not worrying about something.”
“I will be, Master. I won’t let you down,” he said, landing them as close to the unmoving body as he could. Getting out, he waved casually at the gathering crowd. “This is official Jedi business, move along.” His voice was soft, but powerful in the Force.
Obi-Wan got out slower and knelt beside the body. Examining it, he noted that the face was an unknown. Meaning that this assassin had never troubled them before. Or had never been caught. “Contact Master Windu. Tell him we have a Clawdite female, who may be behind the attacks on the Senator’s life.”
“You know that this one didn’t work alone, Master. The attacks are to spread out for it to have been just one person.”
“I will neither agree with those statements, Padawan, nor will I refute them,” he sternly said. “Do not push your luck.”
It was quiet as Anakin sat in the living room, his Master was still at the meeting with the Council over the assassin. Though he knew he should be in bed, Anakin couldn’t settle down. A feeling of unease filled the pit of his stomach and he couldn’t rest.
He’d tried meditation, but without knowing where the unease was coming from, it felt unfocused. Useless. It was merely a matter of time before Obi-Wan came in, then he’d be able to talk to him. See if he could shed some light on the subject.
As the hour crawled slowly by, he felt his lids begin to droop and sleep claim him, despite the fact that he tried to fight it.
It was hot. The air was sticky with the smell of sweat and animals. Looking around, he couldn’t see why he was there, among this crowd of raiders. He recognized them for who they were, Tuskin raiders from Tatooine.
Watching helplessly, he noted the careful way they moved towards the moisture farm. It was a farm like any other, though he’d never been to one before. It seemed to be a nice, safe place, if a little to staid for his taste. But nice for the people he saw laughing and joking about a small table.
He gasped as one face turned to the window, a slight frown on her brow. Even though she had gray in her hair and more lines on her face, he recognized her for his heart felt the call. The claim of familiarity.
Mom, he mouthed.
Suddenly, the scene exploded in pain and blood. The house seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye. Anakin winced back, shattering inside with the pain he felt coming from them.
He watched helplessly as the peace all came apart.
Hopelessly, he witnessed the sheer brutality as the raiders attacked. Death was a savage song they sang expertly until there was no one left alive, save the women. Turning towards them, their eyes seemed to leer at them. On their banthas, they dragged them off into the hot desert.
“Anakin!” his mother screamed. “Please, help us.”
“Mom!” he sat up, panting. “Oh, Force. Mom.”
“Master?” he asked, looking up at him dumbly.
“What are you still doing here? Shouldn’t you be with My Lady?” he asked.
“I’ve got to go,” he started for the door.
“Not like that,” Obi-Wan objected. “It wouldn’t do to see the Senator in your night clothes. Why were you on the couch?”
“Not to Padme,” he corrected his Master. “To my mom.”
“Anakin,” he started.
“Don’t!” he yelled, whirling on him, blue eyes flashing angrily. “Just don’t! I know what the Council says about this. I know what you have to say. Don’t you think I’ve haven’t heard you! Every time I bring it up, you tell me why the reasons that I can’t go. But I have to go this time, Master. I have to. She’s my mother.”
It was the whisper of despair at the end that stopped anything Obi-Wan had been about to say.
“Is there nothing I can do to stop you?” he asked softly, sadly.
“No,” he firmly stated. “There is nothing.”
Obi-Wan closed his eyes and bowed his head. After a tense moment, he nodded in resignation. “Take your clothes and the pack we set aside for the camping trip we were going to take to Da’tara 4. I will delay the Jedi Council for as long as I am able to.”
“Thank you,” he whispered. Quickly, he went into his room and changed, throwing on one of the worn robes he had. Pulling out his pack, he began to go through it to make sure that all was well.
Once he was sure he had everything, he went into the fresher and packed away a few necessities. Catching his image in the mirror, he stopped and stared at his wide-eyed reflection. Trembling fingers felt his Padawan braid and knew that he was going to lose it.
Permanently this time.
Blinking back the tears, he straightened his shoulders and walked out. In the room, he Master still waited. Walking over to the drawer, he pulled out a pair of scissors and looked at them reflectively. Coming to a decision, he approached his Master and held them out to him.
Blankly, he stared at them, then up at him. “What?"
“I would rather you take my braid then someone else, Master,” he said.
Obi-Wan shook his head. “No.”
Stumbling back, his own head shook. “Please, Master,” his voice cracked under the strain of his emotions and he swallowed, trying to regain his calm. “I would rather you do it then someone I don’t know. Or someone who never really gave me a chance. You may not have liked me, but at least you helped me.”“
You misunderstand,” he gently calmed him. “I will not take your Padawan braid. Not will anyone else. It is yours.”
“The Jedi Council would not agree with you,” he spoke bitterly.
“They have approved of this mission,” he calmly countered.
“What?” he gasped. “How did you? I mean, what did you do?”
“I did nothing,” he denied. “It was all Master Yoda’s idea. I take it you did not hear him?”
"No,” he said. His face brightened. “ Are you to come with me then?”
Obi-Wan smiled sadly. “No. This is what you have been waiting for, a chance to prove yourself. May the Force be with you. And may you have the wisdom to listen to its guidance.”
“May it be with you as well, my Master,” he repeated. Turning, he went to the door and paused in the entrance, turning to face him. “Are you sure that you cannot come with me? I want my mom to meet you.”
“Go on, Anakin. I believe that you can do this,” he watched as his Padawan walked away. Closing his eyes, he felt a wave of sadness fill him with an almost unbearable pressure. In his mind, a door he’d kept firmly locked out of necessity opened. As much as he thought it would be wrong to look, he did.
And he saw all that he needed to see. In seeing it, he understood for the first time what he was looking at. Suddenly knowing what he had to do, he rushed out the door and after Anakin.
His Padawan stood by the pod, a sorrowful look on his resolved face. Hearing his approach, he turned towards him, a fearful look in his eyes. “Have they changed their minds so soon?”
“No,” he said, smiling. “I just forgot to tell you something.”
“What?” he asked, titling his head curiously.
“I love you,” he simply replied.
“Master?” he whispered shakily, taking a step forward. It was unbelievable, he numbly thought. He couldn’t have said what he thought he said. And even if he did, how did he mean it?
“Go,” he gently ordered, knowing what Anakin was thinking. His own thoughts echoed it. But it didn’t matter, he said what he’d wanted to say for a while. The rest would come in time and only if the Force felt it was right. “Your mother will not wait for you forever.”
“Right,” he stopped, undecided. Finally, he nodded and got into the pod. As he flew away, he suddenly realized that he never told his Master how he felt about him.
Feeling through their bond, he felt a wave of reassurance hit him. There was also more than a little hint of uncertainty there. Master?
Thought you should know, I love you as well. He felt the pressure ease and a wave of happiness fill him. It was going to be all right.
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