main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Saga - PT Then the dreadful night shall break [Fallen Obi-Wan - Post Zygerria arc]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Blue_Daddys_Girl, May 8, 2021.

  1. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Title: Then the dreadful night shall break
    Author: Blue_Daddys_Girl
    Timeframe: post Zygerria arc [TCW S04e12] - 20 BBY
    Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, CT-7567 | Rex, Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Vokara Che, Ahsoka Tano, and more.
    Genre: Drama, Hurt (very little) comfort, whump, angst, character driven
    Rating: Mature (for early depictions of torture and very mild suicidal ideation)
    Type: Completed multichapter. There will be 12 of them, posted bi-weekly.
    Keywords: AU canon divergence, Dark side of the Force, Living Force vs Unifying Force, Making up Force lore, Protective Mace Windu, Ahsoka Tano is a sibling to the clones, Clone shenanigans, Jedi Temple, Healing Halls, Dreams, Nightmares, Slavery, Feelings, Introspection, Heavy Mood, Hurt Obi-Wan, Dark Obi-Wan, Minor Amidala, Minor creepy Sheev

    Summary: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a slave to the Zygerrians. To protect the togrutas he was tasked to rescue, he must endure. But how much can an already exhausted general withstand? How much sleep can Obi-Wan lose, before something in him breaks? This is an AU where Anakin did not show up in time. Obi-Wan makes his own way back to the temple, and the consequences of his fall ripple out through the Order.

    Notes:
    Heya everyone! This is my first post on this forum. I joined recently but was a lurker on and off. I don't have a strong grip of how this forum works yet, and I might put myself up for adoption... In the meantime though, I'd like to share with you all a bit of Sad Kenobi, it is our speciality!
    This story was originally written as a one shot in response to my friend KitePiper's fic, The Pipe.



    Price of Silence
    [1/12]
    All day Obi-Wan toils, sweat dripping in thick rivulets through the grime, striping his face in a mockery of the skin markings of his fellow slaves.

    He keeps to himself unless forced to join a group for work. He speaks to no one, and no one speaks to him. They all know better by now.
    If he helps them they are flogged. If his collar is set off, so are theirs. If he shares food, they are made to starve. And if he begs, the Zygerrians only laugh.

    If he speaks...

    But he doesn't, not any more, not for days.

    At night, the guards wake them constantly.
    They all grow weaker, each day of teeth-grinding labour blurring into the next. Obi-Wan can feel the resentment and the twisted hate in the silence. He feels weighted stares trailing like broken nails along the whipped planes of his back.
    He is the fallen saviour, the source of additional suffering in a place where the minimum is already unbearable.

    Jedi training should keep him strong. It ought to reassure him that all this darkness is but a step towards greater light. That someone is coming, that hope never fades.

    The lashes fall, the collars shock, the slaves sob in the night and their masters barge in, batons ringing against the metal bed frames, lights flashing.

    Obi-Wan stays silent, curled up on his bunk, and blows on the ember of his optimism, worried he might not know how to rekindle it, were it to fade.

    At first he doesn't mind the lack of sleep. His hunger would have kept him awake if the guards hadn't.
    He watches them, notices how they return every twenty minutes during the first half of the night, and then every hour in the second. He sleeps in stolen snatches, accepts this as just another form of torture, another thing to get used to and wait out.

    And wait he does.

    He shambles off to work, wondering when will Anakin come, prodding weakly at their bond and feeling nothing. The force is pain all around, the darkness a suffocating presence, numbing his senses.

    The day passes and night returns, still devoid of comfort or respite.

    Obi-Wan starts awake, again and again, and again...

    He prods at the hairline fractures spreading inside his self. He keeps his eyes tightly shut, tries but fails to meditate, fails to block out the sounds. The constant hum of machinery, the wet rasps of the sick, the moaning of the injured, the sobbing of the broken, and faint over it, echoing down the hollow corridors, the shrieks of those being put to... more strenuous methods of conversion.
    It all rubs his nerves raw, corrupts his thoughts, turns him on his fellow captives, so noisy, all of them.

    'Stop it,' he snaps at a whimpering woman. 'Just–' his voice cracks, rusty with disuse, 'be quiet.'

    Obi-Wan isn't sure if his Zygerrian overseers know what they are doing, if they realise how tired he’d already been before all this, and how far they are pushing him.
    He isn't sure they even care to know.

    He works, silent, and his thoughts fester. Doubt gnaws at his heart, and the code rings in his mind until the repeated words lose their significance and turn to a sludge of meaningless phonemes.
    Hope needs no words to be kept alive, it needs no mantra, but it still eludes him in the night as more noises jerk him away from his rest.

    'Shut, UP!' He screams.

    Fear and anger ripple back towards him through the force and oh, but he hates them too. The cries, the sobs, so damned loud! Why can’t they be quiet? How can they not crave silence? What does he need to do, to get some kriffing peace?

    The voice that whispers that these poor togrutas are victims too is so dim and far away, it might as well not be there at all.

    Obi-Wan seethes, his frustration rising through him on a tidal wave of hot tears. He only wants this all to stop. He only wants to sleep. At this point, he would not mind never waking up.

    His eyes flutter, mind adrift and drowsy, ready to fall into the oblivion of sleep... But yet again the lights come on, and the guards, pummelling random victims with their batons. They holler, rattle beds, same as before. Same as next time.

    The guards leave and hushed, anxious silence falls over the room. They’ll have peace for twenty minutes. And then twenty more, and then, if he hasn't lost track, he'll have an hour.

    Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi master, rolls himself into a ball and weeps.

    He's lifting rocks, pushing carts, choking on his daily portion of mouldy bread, staring into the middle distance.
    He keeps his thoughts far from the things and people he loves, afraid that handling such precious memories might sully them, taint them with the same revolting grime that mats his hair and cakes under his nails.

    He feels his soul unravelling. The once thick and vibrant weave of his personality a moth-eaten rag, fraying under his touch. The person he was... The calm, collected man, sometimes to a fault... Sometimes a little too cold and obedient...

    Where has he gone?

    Like a shade into darkness, swallowed by something greater than himself.

    Reality ebbs away. Day and night, nightmare or wakefulness, it all tastes like blood and ashes, it all feels like pain.

    These slavers, they truly don’t understand what they’re doing, tearing him up like this. They can’t even start to guess at what happens, when you truly break a Jedi. They’re playing with fire, with rhydonium! Obi-Wan tries to make Agruss see. First he tries to reason with him, but before long he grovels in front of the Zygerrian. He pleads.

    The man laughs, driving his hovering seat out of Obi-Wan's reach.

    'You beg nicely, Jedi, I'll have to admit. Say what you will, but I think our program is working just fine on you.'

    'Obi-Wan!' Rex calls out, forcing his way from his group to get closer to him. 'Don't–'

    Don't what? Obi-Wan wonders. He'll probably never know. Rex is beaten up and taken away, of course, and Obi-Wan is ordered to return to his line.

    That evening he climbs in his bunk, arms shaking, stomach aching, back itching.
    A man coughs and Obi-Wan growls.

    Don't what? There are so many things he doesn't do already. Right now for example, he doesn't sleep , because a woman is wailing. Someone else tells her to can it. Another voice rises, saying they should be quiet. The argument builds, droning over the crying.

    Something snaps in Obi-Wan then, the last thread that held the tapestry of his being together finally succumbing to the strain.

    He watches himself rise and walk to the woman. Watches as he grabs her by her tattered shirt and brings her close to his twitching face.

    'Why won't you shut up?' He screams, shaking her. 'Shut up! Shut up!'

    A hand falls on his arm, trying to drag him away, someone yells at him, and Obi-Wan lashes out. It's a pitiful melee, full of weak punches and desperate clawing, but the guards are prompt to come and break it up.

    Far beyond himself, Obi-Wan pushes. The collar snaps from his neck, clattering on the floor. The guards rush him, brandishing their weapons, but really, these slavers don't understand.

    Obi-Wan grips them both through the force, right at the throat, and squeezes. With a crunch they stop their struggle, and when he releases them they collapse like broken puppets, dead.
    The silence is resounding, a pure and precious thing, and Obi-Wan cries even as he breaks it with his own manic laughter.

    This was so easy. And it feels so good.

    The slaves step away from him, shuffling back into their cots, wanting no part of this. Fools. Animals, the lot of them. Noisy and wanton creatures, worthless shackles he has finally freed himself from.

    Obi-Wan walks through the dormitory's door. He slams the warden against the ceiling and back down to the floor. He paws his broken body, fingers trembling as he takes his keypass and his comlink.

    Freedom. Sweet freedom within his grasp.

    Obi-Wan makes his way through the compound, prowling the corridors like a starving nexu. He kills every Zygerrian he encounters, and thinks nothing of it. He has a plan now, an escape route he can see the end of.
    He'll steal a ship, and then he'll sleep. After that he doesn't care.

    Don't, a voice whispers at the back of his mind. Don't, as he crushes windpipes, squashes organs, pulverises bones. Don't, as tears stream down his face, adding new streaks in the filth and blood. Don't, don't, don't as he forces his way through Agruss' quarters, watches the life drain from his eyes.

    Obi-Wan recovers his lightsaber, a sliver of his soul, singing to him, trying to worm its way back into the shattered mess at his core. He leaves it on his belt, untouched. He doesn't need it. It's a civilised weapon, and nothing here is civilised.

    For a moment he titters, uncertain on his feet in the middle of the heady quiet of Agruss' bedroom. His head pounds, his eyes sting. If he closes them he might well fall asleep standing there.

    Don't, the voice says.

    Rex!

    Obi-Wan gathers himself once more, grimacing with the effort. He must rescue the man first. Then find a ship. Kill more Zygerrians? Rescue… then sleep. Even thinking hurts.

    He lurches forward, and with a snarl, Obi-Wan Kenobi proceeds with his plan.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
  2. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Ouch. That's all hurt and definitely no comfort. Poor Obi-wan. Sleep deprivation is a horrible torture that breaks people and it's certainly broken our beloved Obi.

    Welcome to the boards too, that's an amazing start :) If you have any questions, just ask :)
     
    Blue_Daddys_Girl likes this.
  3. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Thank you Kithera! Nice to see you here as well, browsed a little bit and see a lot of your OC works I recognise! Now I'll be torn between reviewing here or AO3... Though tbf I'm not entirely sold on the forum experience just yet, when it comes to fic. I'll be sure to ask when questions arise, thank you very much!
     
  4. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Weight of Days
    [2/12]
    By the time Obi-Wan gets Rex out of the compound and on to the landing pad to steal a ride off that cursed place, the clone has gotten his hands on a blaster and is shooting every Zygerrian who rears their hairy head. Which is good, because Obi-Wan barely has the strength to shuffle after him.
    He boards a ship, slaps the controls to close the landing ramp behind them and collapses onto the walkway.

    'General!' Rex calls out, shaking his shoulder. 'Sir!'

    Obi-Wan cracks his eyes open, the familiar face swimming over him in his blurred vision. Anger swells again. Rex is wasting time. He's keeping him awake.

    'Go,' he growls. 'Take off.'

    Rex drags him to the cockpit and dumps him into the copilot's seat, ignoring all his grunted protests.

    'Sir, the towers! They'll shoot us down.'

    'Just... go...' Obi-Wan replies, pleading now. 'I'll keep us safe.'

    Rex grimaces but knows better than to disobey a direct order. He does all the work, fingers tapping through the unfamiliar controls of the Zygerrian ship, prepping them for take off even as an alarm starts whining, no doubt from the damage they're taking from blaster shots.
    Obi-Wan closes his eyes and steps out of himself and into the twilight plane that lives between the here and there, between sleep and wakefulness. It is a crepuscular world, vibrant with the force, in which he has been spending much time in recent days, lingering there instead of falling further into the numbing shades of sleep.
    He shines in this place, a force user radiating power, he can reach out far. One, two, and then, because there is nothing stopping him from doing so, three, four and five hands. He holds Zygerrian hearts, fluttering in ungentle fingers. It's easy to squeeze, to snuff their light and let the shadows deepen all around.
    Obi-Wan hears Rex whoop and speak to him, but he's already tumbling down into senseless slumber.

    At first he does not dream. His mind is too deeply wounded for that, too focused on healing itself.

    When someone carries him, touches him, his eyes flutter and his senses reach out before recoiling. It's only Rex, stretching him down somewhere, spreading a thin thermal blanket over him. Time has passed, Obi-Wan can tell. His sleep was thick and abnormal, but it is the sweetest thing, and he returns to it like a lovesick man to the arms of his beloved.

    Eventually, the dreams come. Tentative at first. Snatches of events, reels of images and bursts of sound and smell, as if his broken mind were slowly knitting up nightmares out of all the strands of horror he's experienced.

    But first, the wool of his memories must be carded.

    He screams, he runs, he falls from great heights. He hungers and he begs.

    The experiences must be spun into black thread.

    Dry crumbs choke him, electricity courses through him, acrid water burns his skin, mottled with rashes and bruises.

    His emotions are plied in, the yarn rolled.

    Voices whisper poisonous words in a language he does not understand, eyes lock on him, judging, hating, following his every move.

    A hand grabs him, shakes him forcefully, tearing him away from his repose and his terrors both and Obi-Wan comes out swinging.

    'Ow! Gene–'

    The offender croaks as he chokes against the wall. Obi-Wan presses, pushing all around himself as he scans the unknown room he's woken in, confused and lost.

    'K– ke– no...' A voice croaks.

    His attacker. Obi-Wan turns around back to him, lightsaber igniting in his hand, ready to strike him down.

    A clone looks at him, face an ugly shade of purple, eyes bulging. He waves his hands at him. Don't.

    Rex.

    He gasps when Obi-Wan releases him, and the two of them find themselves shaking on the floor, though for different reasons.

    'We– We're home,' Rex manages eventually, scrambling towards the Jedi, wrapping him in a reassuring embrace. 'We're on Coruscant.'

    ———

    That's it for chapter 2! Next update this weekend.
     
    Kit' likes this.
  5. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Head to the Writer's Forum and introduce yourself and check out some of the prompts and competitions there as it's a good way to meet people and get a feel of the board. It's definitely a very different experience from AO3, and people here are friendly - just it moves at a slower pace then reddit, discord or the AO3. I was really happy to see you, as new people are always very welcome and you're a fantastic writer so it's great to have you. :)

    On to the story!

    No Obi! No! I read this sentence, kept going and then frowned and came back and read it again as my over tired brain suddenly released what you were implying. That was a brilliantly subtle way to show that Obi-wan has really lost his sense of self and his moral compass because of the sleep deprivation. I also loved how you described the sleep/dreams as it was almost poetry and very evocative.

    Hopefully being back on Coruscant can fix Obi, but somehow I doubt it. I think it's going to get a lot darker for our beloved Jedi.
     
    Blue_Daddys_Girl likes this.
  6. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    I'll do that, thank you! I don't mind a slower pace actually, I'm pretty close to swamped as it is these days, so a slow pace fits me just fine! Good to hear people are friendly. Somehow I don't doubt it. What browsing I've done has shown me nothing but nice interactions.

    Thank you so much! I hope I keep doing it justice! A wounded, OOC Obi-Wan was excellent to explore. Much room for my wilder tendencies!
    The temple isn't going to fix Obi, no. Well... Maybe in some ways. But it'll fix others! Your instincts are pretty correct :-x
     
  7. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Taste of Shame
    [3/12]​

    Anakin feels like he has something lodged in his throat, rotten and the size of a fist, refusing to go away no matter how hard he swallows against it. He recognises it of course, how could he not, raised on Tatooine before his years as a Jedi? He hasn't been coddled by life, not then, and not since the start of the war either.
    From what Anakin can sense, he isn't the only one in the Council Chamber today tasting guilt's nasty flavour, seasoned with shame.

    He sits in silence, only half listening to the report, and avoiding looking at Rex. His mind is stuck, like a podracer with a blown gyro, going in ever tightening loops on a circular track.

    They're asking his captain about the bodies he's seen, about leaving the togruta slaves behind, about Obi-Wan's "state of mind" during their escape, his orders and why Rex hadn't challenged them. Like the man ever had such a choice.

    Anakin spins back to the worst of his days as a slave, as a commodity and possession, and re-imagines them compounded by the grim understanding of adulthood. At least as a child he'd often been too happy or naive to grasp all the implications of his situation. His mother had shielded him from so much. And then Watto had bought them and made him work on something he'd come to love. Something he still practices as a hobby.

    He doubts Obi-Wan will want to keep ore processing as a hobby, after this.

    ‘Did you see him kill?' Someone asks Rex.

    'I suppose so,' the captain answers, shuffling on his feet, 'I've seen the general kill people with his lightsaber before, but he wasn't using it. I thought it was to knock them off.'

    'Can you elaborate?'

    'Well, he was throwing the Zygerrians we came across against the ceiling or the walls. I heard some telling sounds from some of them, but we were in the middle of an escape, and Zygerrians are very tough. I didn't give it much thought at the time. Once I got my hands on a blaster I was the one doing much of the killing. General Kenobi was struggling to keep up.'

    'I see. What of the men he killed in the compound's defence turrets?'

    'I don't know, master. He said he'd protect us and to just fly on. He reached out with his hands and no one shot at us.'

    'Right. Nothing let you discern that he'd killed all the Zygerrians manning these turrets?'

    'Ah– No. He just passed out, his nose and ears were bleeding so I–'

    Rex's voice drones on, drowned out by the beat of Anakin's heartbeat, thumping in his ears. His breath hitches, comes fast and shallow. His palms grow clammy and cold and a little self-derisive voice chirps at the back of his mind. Really? Going for a panic attack in the High Council Chamber?
    He tries to collect himself, to master his breath. Swallowing is painful, and Rex is looking at him like he knows exactly what's going on. He's not the only one either. Anakin notices the masters' attention, the pause in the conversation, the worry buzzing through his bond with Ahsoka.

    'I'm sorry, was there a question?' He asks.

    For once, the councillors' faces hold no censure. A Jedi surviving their master's fall is a much less common occurrence than the reverse.

    Maybe they believe that a master's long years of experience and accumulated wisdom would help them weather the sufferings brought on by an apprentice's fall, while a young Jedi would find themselves challenged in a more fundamental way, seeing the person who has guided and shaped them to knighthood turn from the light.

    They would be right.

    And Anakin carries the burden of knowledge to boot. While a master might wonder if it was something they lacked, something they could have prevented, forever unsure of their part in their student's downfall, Anakin knows exactly how he failed his master and why the man is now a broken Jedi, treated like a dangerous beast in the high security wing of the Healing Halls.
    Because he couldn't stomach bedding a slaver, to cheat on the wife he's not even supposed to have, and curtail his master's suffering.

    'Much to think about, young knight Skywalker has,' master Yoda says, a thoughtful hum complementing his words and kindly smile.

    'Yes. I'm sorry. I... It’s been a lot to take in... I'm not sure it feels real to me yet.'

    'Real?' Mace Windu asks, a bitter chuckle on his lips. 'Surely, if we all could feel Kenobi's fall, it must have been quite real for you.'

    Anakin grinds his teeth but says nothing. The Korun master is right. But he knows what Anakin means. Feeling it and believing it are two different things.

    He also notices how it's "Kenobi" now, without honorifics.

    'Perhaps it is time for Skywalker to be allowed to see Obi-Wan,' Plo Koon suggests softly.

    Ahsoka shuffles behind Anakin, but remains silent. He can feel her uncertainty through their bond. Her discomfort with the idea.

    'I'd like that, yes,' Anakin says, hopeful.

    The council rustles, silent agreement sweeping through its members. Anakin can imagine what goes on between them in these meaningful glances and imperceptible nods. More than half of them are holograms, out on the field. The war is still running. They need him. Losing Obi-Wan is already such a blow... So they’ll want him back on the field as soon as possible and so–
    Anakin stops himself before his distaste can overpower him. He doesn't know. He must not assume. The inner voice that chides him still speaks in Obi-Wan's voice.

    'Alright, I'll take Skywalker to the halls once we are done but first,' Windu gives Anakin a pointed look, 'we were wanting to hear about your interaction with Count Dooku again.'

    ————
    And that was chapter 3! Next update on Wednesday!
     
  8. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I love your depiction of Anakin. I really, really struggle with writing him. I end up usually going fairly naïve in comparison to Kenobi's worldly diplomacy, but you got him spot on. I like the reflection about the Council's shock that Kenobi had fallen, but also their unstated demand that he go back on the battlefield. Kind of reminds me of the WWI commanders and soldiers with shellshock, and fits with my pre-existing notions of the Council (which is that they care about victory and ideals more than people).
     
    Blue_Daddys_Girl likes this.
  9. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Gods yes. It was so daunting. I passed these chapters around to several Anakin lovers to see what they thought of the voice. I never intended to make him a thing... But people wanted a follow up to chapter one and Anakin wrote himself in as second lead. I was dragged along for the ride. I'm glad it worked for you early on... Hope I manage to sell you the whole of his arc! x'D

    Very much my own vision of them too. I think it's particularly glaring with the Box/Deception arc, they're so far up the "succeed at all cost" mentality they don't realise how incredibly toxic their decision is.
     
  10. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Let's catch back on Obi-Wan before Anakin's visit.

    Risk of Trust
    [4/12]​
    Obi-Wan's perception of his dreams is changing.

    He is no stranger to nightmares, and an old hand at distressing visions and precognitive dreams. But this isn't either of those. Something's wrong, he can tell, even as he wades through them, as he claws his way out of their suffocating embrace.

    He has told the young healers, Bedara and Se'bi, and Vokara Che's padawan, the sweet Nautolan Kasaemasin who radiates love and warmth like no Jedi Obi-Wan has ever met.
    They take notes and give him medicine to induce dreamless sleep, and still they come, twisted and malign, quivering with a darkness that is not his own.

    The healers shake their heads, incredulous. They up the dosage, and Obi-Wan sinks deeper into the soiled abyss of his subconscious, hating the feeling of being haunted even here, in his last refuge.

    More than once he lashes out in his sleep, defending himself from ghosts, sending the halls into a groggy frenzy in the middle of the night. The lack of proper rest takes its toll, and Obi-Wan isn't healing as fast as he ought to.
    He is moved to a new room in an empty wing where his damaging things won't matter as much.

    He's tired, but he relishes the quiet. Now if only they would ban visitors...

    What few he has think him all washed and scrubbed. They can smell the aseptic floral scent of the halls' soap, and they smile at him, try to comfort him, share inoffensive news and well meant platitudes.

    Obi-Wan suffers them in silence. He knows the filth is still there. His entire self is slick with it.

    He looks down at his hands, folded in his lap. They were cleaned and brushed to a bright pink, although the grooming did nothing to get rid of the thick calluses or the dark scars from cuts and scrapes that healed while still full of the sooty gunk of the Zygerrian refineries. They're a part of him now, tattooed into his skin as surely as the experience is etched onto his soul.

    Ah, how they all act so sorry. Yoda, Mace, even Plo who rescued Rex and him, apparently. They come and go, they try to make him talk, they command or coax or coddle.

    Obi-Wan can sense the entire Council's mood all the way down here, sense the uncertainty and the damned sorriness, trickling through the ranks of the order.

    Like he used to be such a lovely thing, neat, sturdy and obedient.
    He'd been a master! He'd sat on the Council! He'd been at the top of his art! One of the best swordsmen in the order. A general! A role model! Shining so bright in the light.

    Yes, Obi-Wan had been many things to them, and now he is many others; broken, his pieces held on together by a sack of skin, but shattered all the same.

    They wish to glue him back on, to puzzle him back into a pretty Jedi picture, only to frown and huff when they realise some of the pieces are gone. Burnt by the fires of Kadavo's furnaces, splintered to dust by the batons of his Zygerrian masters, or crushed in his own hands.

    Oh, they don't like that, and Obi-Wan pities them, because he understands. He doesn't like it either, but he has long resigned himself to the truth.

    Well, has it been a long time? Was it last week? No one is giving him dates, and he isn't asking. The young healers offer him soothing tea instead of information, and Obi-Wan drinks it, glad for the small gestures.

    The highlight of his days is when Vokara Che visits him.

    Master Che is special.

    He'd never known before, never noticed. Obi-Wan never spent enough time in the Halls, not even when he needed it. He respected master Che of course, she'd worked such wonders on Anakin after Geonosis, how could he not? But he had not realised. He'd been blind.
    Now he sees her, walking the same dusky world at will, looking at him directly with eyes unclouded, her presence brighter even than his own, a blue fire, its touch fresh and invigorating.

    He speaks with her there, because he can share his hurt without words. He can ask questions without opening his mouth, and she can answer in that same silence, their minds brushing without bond, the simplest flicker of their will as strong as the tightest grip of their hands.

    She is curious, she listens, and she has answers for him.

    And unlike the others he's seen so far, she has no pity for him, only the same sort of warmth her padawan exudes in such ludicrous quantity.

    Do people usually treat the shards of a broken cup with such delicacy? He asks Vokara one evening as she rubs bacta gel into the worst of his cuts, still inflamed and weeping.

    He has dismissed two of his most persistent visitors earlier with a well aimed toss of his teacup, and the image seems most appropriate.

    'They might break further,' she answers, knowing full well whose shards he's talking about. She gives him a hard look, prompting him to use his voice.

    'And is that ever a concern?' He croaks.

    'You're not a broken glass, Obi-Wan.'

    'Quite right. I'm a broken Jedi. Apparently much more complicated to dispose of.'

    'No one is trying to dispose of you.'

    'Oh, I wonder...'

    The healer sighs, her lekku twitching in frustration.

    'Your sarcastic repartee used to be exasperating at times, but seeing it replaced with such pessimistic self-defeatism is not actually an improvement. You know that the Council isn't trying to get rid of you. Nor I. Come, you're one of the greatest masters of our generation. You're strong, well loved.'

    'I'm afraid my popularity does not play in my favour in this scenario. Quite the contrary.'

    The Twi'lek's blue fingers tap along the sore muscles of his neck, press against his swollen abdomen, tracing a new and updated map of his injuries.

    'You're a collection of hurts,' Vokara says, her voice neutral and matter of fact, 'but you're in my care Obi-Wan. You're my collection of hurts. I want to take all of them away, until you have no reasons to ever lay eyes on me again. And I won't let anyone get their hands on you until then. After that, you'll be back to fending for yourself.' She gives him a knowing look. 'I suspect that'll be a lot of work, so let's make sure you're in your best shape, mmh?'

    He grunts, a non-committal vocalisation of his defeat.

    She opens a fresh bacta canister, dips her fingers into the translucent paste.

    'It's because of bacta, actually.'

    Obi-Wan gives her a perplexed look, his mind racing back through the conversation to make sense of the statement.

    'What? That Mace and Yoda treat me like vitrithin ceramic? Does the smell of bacta turn them into idiots?'

    Vokara laughs, a rare sound, high and girlish.

    'No, I don't mean the councillors, to whom you're being quite harsh... I'm talking about the Seam. You asked me earlier why I was the only one there with you, why Kasaemasin's presence is so faint in it. Well, the short answer to that is bacta.'

    It's Obi-Wan's turn to laugh, a raspy chuckle. So, the cunning master is out to get his mind off of his brooding, and she knows exactly how to go about it.

    'It has a name then? The Seam? It rings a bell.'

    'You must have studied it a little during your initiate days, as part of your general courses. You would have studied it more if you'd joined the medical corps. Though not that much. As you can see, few of us know how to use it fully. Or bother to. If master Kridd was here, she could join us in it. Her master and my own both believed bacta to be a crutch, and that the decline in mastery of the Seam was serious proof of the degradation of the order. To hear them talk about it—and stars, did they ever—it was like the Jedi order was forgetting its forms and katas for lack of using lightsabers in combat. To them a healer relying on bacta was like a Jedi with a blaster.'

    Obi-Wan watches her spread said bacta against his ribs, the fast acting gel dissolving before his eyes. Even then, Vokara Che's fingers pulse through the force, radiating in the Seam, as she calls it.

    He looks at her, truly looks, and she looks back, a shining presence, extending many hands to him, brushing his body, tugging and pushing at the force inside of him, redirecting it to mend the most damaged parts of him, shifting its flow to bring him back into balance.

    'I don't understand. If it is a healing tool, how could I–'

    He can't finish his sentence, can't put words to his slaughter.

    'It is just one of the aspects of the Living Force. You've changed your ways. Or were forced to.' She brushes strands of hair away from his brow, her fingers alighting there with suggestions of calm. 'You had to let go of yourself, rely on your instinct. You were made to live in the present to survive your day-to-day conditions. You became more attuned to your feelings than to your thoughts, maybe to protect yourself. These are the tenets of the Living Force. I'm sure you know. Qui-Gon Jinn must have drilled the here-and-now quite hard into you, didn't he?'

    'I– You can't be saying–' Obi-Wan struggles, mind reeling even under the mindhealer’s soothing trick, 'I can't have been doing the will of the Cosmic Force by kil– By doing what I did... To a campful of sentients.'

    Vokara shrugs.

    'I wouldn't know, honestly. All I'm saying is that a strong mastery of the Living Force must be attained to enter the Seam, and from there it becomes much easier to touch bodies and minds. It opens new horizons. What you do with it is up to you, and your ability to focus and to forget about yourself.'

    Obi-Wan relishes the woman's bluntness, not trying to excuse his actions. He mulls on the new information in silence as she redoes his bandages and jots down notes on her datapad.

    He wonders if Qui-Gon knew. If he was able to access the Seam, and why he'd never mentioned such an important aspect of the Living Force. Maybe he hadn't wanted to distract his padawan, so strongly anchored in the Unifying Force, constantly racked by visions. Maybe he thought nothing good could come of its use, for non-healers.

    He'll never know.

    His eyes droop as he begins to drift off, and he wakes back up with a start at the sensation of falling, heart racing.

    'What is it?' Vokara asks, pushing him back down onto his bed.

    Obi-Wan groans, feeling his anxiety bubble over. He's been so alone for so long, solutions stubbornly evading him. And now these nightmares... He can't exactly force-choke them to death.

    It's the dreams, the nightmares, he sighs through the Seam to Vokara. I talked to your padawan this morning...

    'Yes, Kasaemasin told me about that, how the drugs aren't helping.'

    There is something wrong, he insists, his anguish colouring the words.

    I understand. If sleep is to be your sanctuary, we must make it a safe one.

    Obi-Wan's breath catches in his throat, a little whimper escaping him before he can quite control himself. Tears threaten to spill over. He can feel the ticks pick at his mouth and cheeks, triggered by his emotions.

    You believe me.

    Of course I do.

    She pats his shoulder, waits for him to calm down.

    'Let's do a trance dream. I'll come down with you and observe, see if there's anything I can do to help directly, instead of medication. What do you think?'

    Obi-Wan thinks he'd love some company to shed light in the gloom within him, yet he can't help but wonder about the influence his dark-touched mind will have on her.

    'Don't worry your pretty head over it,' she says when he shares his concern, 'I'm a mindhealer, and I didn't get to lead the Halls by being a bad one. Now just relax, as much as you can, and we can get started.'

    Vokara Che drags her stool to the head of his bed, orders the lights down, and waits for Obi-Wan to open to her. And so, for the first time in what feels like forever, he extends his trust to another.

    She reaches out through the Seam, and with the touch of a brilliant finger between his eyes, puts him to sleep.
     
  11. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Risk of Trust
    [5/12]​

    Obi-Wan is sprinting down a warren of durasteel corridors.

    He has this faint notion that he should be dreaming, not running away from... whatever is chasing him.

    But he has no time to think, and hardly any time to breathe. At each junction of the corridors, rayshields snap up, blocking some of the paths and driving him deeper into what starts to feel like a one-way maze. Panic builds, lapping at his heels like a racing current, catching up with him. The slap of his booted feet echoes ahead of him till he stops, finally meeting a dead end. Obi-Wan curses and wheels around only to slam into the searing heat of another rayshield.

    Beyond it his master sits, kneeling, peaceful. And beyond him, Darth Maul paces, his smile confident of the future, his amber gaze taunting.

    When Obi-Wan screams, Qui-Gon Jinn turns to him, a disappointed look on his face.

    So noisy.

    Qui-Gon opens his hand and pushes. Obi-Wan tumbles back, and Cody catches him.

    'Careful general, it's very dark.'

    Yes, Umbara is dark, and cold, and foggy. He extricates himself from Cody's arms, half formed excuses dying on his lips, and runs on, fleeing from something he can't put a name to, something coming for him.
    He stumbles on the corpses of his men, trips on their torn limbs and falls back into the gory muck. He loses all sense of direction. The plants' red bioluminescence and the blue and green bolts of raging war his only spatial references.

    Obi-Wan scrambles back up, clutching a blaster rifle in stiff hands.

    A white light catches his attention. It weaves around the clones, moving in a rhythmic pattern, following a grid. He shoulders his rifle and fires, again and again until the room grows quiet, the light stopped at last.

    'Good job,' says a familiar fizzing voice behind him, 'Hardeen...'

    Obi-Wan turns around to meet the red lambent eyes, ever so captivating. Blue fingers curl around his throat, pulling him close.

    'I think... I'm dreaming,' he whispers to Bane.

    The bounty hunter's face contorts in rage, hatred, betrayal. The red of his eyes expands, permeates everything.

    'Kenobi!'

    He shoves Obi-Wan away and he falls, crying out, knowing there's nothing but flames waiting bellow, nothing but the oppressive red that swallows him whole.

    He opens his mouth to scream and the red plunges in, fills his lungs, his entire being, oozing back out through his every pore. His eyes burn, his tears scorch his face, digging like acid into his distended flesh. He writhes, mouth smacking mutely, a helpless fish drowning in this red light thicker than blood.

    A hand, hard and metallic, clasps his wrist, pulls him up roughly.

    Anakin.

    The young knight smiles. He's full of teasing remarks and easy charm as he weaves an arm under Obi-Wan's, supporting him and helping him walk.

    There is an odd reverb to their footsteps, an echo out of kilter, the soft padding of a stalking predator, matching step for step. Before Obi-Wan can turn around and identify the presence that has been chasing him all this time, Anakin falters.

    The red stuff is sloughing off of Obi-Wan and squirming and slimming its way on to Anakin, melting against his skin, absorbed as easily as bacta gel.

    'No!' He bats his friend's hands away in vain, tries to keep this red pain inside himself, to contain it. 'Don't touch me!'

    But the redness sublimates, great clouds of it engulfing them both.

    Anakin doesn't see it, he doesn't get it! He shakes his head at Obi-Wan, puzzled, smile vacant, and tries to grab him again and again, and he won't listen!

    'I said stop!'

    Anakin stumbles back from Obi-Wan's force shove, shocked.

    'Master, why?' He reaches out again, but his skin is motley red now, and his eyes shine through the haze with the Sith's golden hue. His smile twists, his voice husky as he whispers: 'just embrace it.'

    Obi-Wan screams until his voice cracks, until the world splinters around him, and blue hands seize him and wrangle him away from himself.

    ————

    Just a wee one this time! Next one on Wednesday again.
     
  12. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Sorry for the delay everyone [anyone lol] Life got in the way!
    Anakin finally gets to see Obi-Wan and we're halfway there.

    Haze of Disbelief
    [6/12]
    Anakin speaks to a few of the councillors as the meeting disperses. Or rather a few councillors drift up to him, forming a loose queue of people eager to express their condolences, though of course they don't use that term.

    They're sorry anyway. Shocked. Never saw it coming. Who would have, really? Obi-Wan of all people? Then they extend offers of help and advice and proclaim their doors open, for when they're in the system, and their comm otherwise.

    Anakin nods, numb to his core, too busy keeping his mental shields as high as they'll go to pay attention to the details of this onslaught of suspicious sympathy.

    Finally Mace Windu gets impatient and swoops to Anakin's rescue.

    'Skywalker. Let's go,' he says, giving Ki-Adi-Mundi a sharp nod that is probably Council shorthand for that'll do, or some other form of dismissal.

    Anakin follows him down the corridor to the lifts and frowns as he spots Ahsoka making her way towards Rex and the turbolift to the landing pads. She isn’t leaving, is she?

    'Snips... Are you coming?' He calls out, and though he means the question as rhetorical, clearly his padawan doesn't.

    She stops short. Anakin doesn't need their bond to tell she's conflicted, nor the force to sense her reluctance. She's showing all her telltale signs of anxiety as she turns to face him, as obvious as when she was a scrawny padawan with her lekku grazing her shoulders: rolling on the ball of her feet, shifting her weight around, rubbing her arms.
    Avoiding his eyes.

    'I don't know, master. I don't feel like I have anything positive to say to him.'

    'What do you mean?' Anakin asks, confused.

    He doesn't feel like he has anything positive to say to Obi-Wan either.
    Their relationship had already been strained before Zygerria, still on the mend from the whole Hardeen affair, and now this... Anakin feels like he's walked into a bomb's blast radius not days after recovering from a concussion. At times during the Council meeting he'd wondered if he had enough grey matter left to ever focus on anything again, let alone come up with a compelling apology and something positive to say to his old master. But surely he has to try, doesn't he?

    ‘I don’t know. Just what I said. I don’t want to see him like that. Not now.’

    'We owe it to Obi-Wan. We were his mission teammates and we let him down. He needs to know why we didn't come for him, why-'

    'Look, I didn't rescue him because I spent days hanging in a cage like a bird treat! I lost my first kiss to Zagerria's prime minister! I– I don't know what to say to master Obi-Wan. Of course I'm sorry for him. And I'm sorry for myself, and I don't want this to be some– some grief competition!' She pauses, a little breathless. She lowers her voice and shifts her gaze to the floor. 'I don't know. I just– I don't want to see him hanging in his own cage.'

    On these words she turns around and leaves Anakin to hang, too stunned to call her back, to act the master and reprimand her outburst.

    'It looks like you will have to address that in your meditation exercises with your padawan,' Mace says as he watches Ahsoka join Rex at the lift.

    Any other day, Anakin might bristle at the comment. Today, he lacks the energy. He still has the persistent sensation that his brain is leaking out of his ear, and anyway, the master is right.

    'Shall we go?' Windu asks.

    His hand alights on Anakin's shoulder, a fleeting touch, anchoring him.

    'Please.'

    ————

    They are alone in the lift, so Ahsoka can let her breath rattle out.

    'I should have gone with him... I know I should have, but I can't.'

    It's not that Rex doesn't know what to say, it's that he knows there is nothing that needs to be said. So he envelopes her into a quiet embrace, a safe world of fresh pressed blacks for her to sob against.

    ————

    A young Nautolan healer welcomes Anakin and Windu at the Halls' entrance and guides them to a room full of weeping crechelings and four healers doing their best to calm the storm of tears. One of them, a blue Twi'lek Anakin immediately recognises as the formidable Vokara Che, turns around as she senses their approach and bears down on them, a storm of her own brewing on her face.
    She stops in front of Anakin, scans him silently from head to toe, and seizes his bicep in a pinching grip. His mechanical hand jerks in reaction, fingers curling. Vokara Che nods to herself, obviously satisfied with this spot check of her old handiwork.

    'I imagine you're here to torment my patient?' She asks, turning her attention to Windu.

    'His former padawan has expressed the desire to meet him, and the Council agreed.'

    'That's a "yes" then. No need to use official lingo on me Mace.’

    Anakin has to hand it to him, Windu can keep a straight sabacc face. Master Che huffs when he doesn't relent. She steps with them in the corridor and shuts the door behind her, bringing the noise back to tolerable levels.

    'Fine,' she says, sounding like she's being forced into a stupid plan at blaster point. 'Go and see him. I'll be with you shortly, I need to finish here.'

    She catches Anakin's sleeve, tugging him to a stop. 'Hold on!'

    'Sorry I-'

    'Yes, you're impatient to see him, I can sense it.'

    Anakin smiles, making a mental tour of his shields just in case... But his week in Che's care after Geonosis had been uncanny enough that he suspects she's perfectly capable of reading him right through them. Or maybe he’s just that obvious.

    'I need you to manage your expectations,' she says, serious. 'Obi-Wan has had a really bad night. So have I, for that matter. I'll be surprised if he wants to speak with you. Try not to upset him.'

    She gives a pointed look at Windu, who still does his best imitation of a duracrete wall, and finally nods to her padawan before returning to the crechelings.

    The young Nautolan guides them further into the Halls and past a security door that makes Anakin shiver. The corridor beyond it is darker and seems much older. There are no more windows on the right side, just a thick white wall, probably as reinforced as the door to the wing itself.

    'We haven't housed anyone here since the last great Bantha Flu epidemic,' padawan Kasaemasin says in response to Anakin's concerned looks. 'And then we didn't keep the door shut.'

    'It's a containment area, isn't it?'

    She nods but gracefully doesn't mention what it is meant to contain.

    'He's in the fifth room,' she says, and with a small bow to the Master of the Order, 'I'll wait out here.'

    The two men walk on, and Anakin can't help but wonder why the fifth room. He looks into the first four through their reinforced transparisteel windows and sees much of the same. Dark medical equipment, empty beds. There is nothing unique about the fifth room, except for the patient occupying it.

    Anakin can feel his own sickly-sweet misery billowing out through the force around him, can hear his conscience chiding him in Obi-Wan's voice still, lecturing him on attachment and strong emotions.

    But from the man himself, nothing.

    Obi-Wan sits in a loose lotus position on his sick bed, hooded eyes fixed on a teacup cradled in his hands over his lap, his presence in the force incredibly muted. He does not look up at his visitors, does not react to their approach in any way.

    He is gaunt. His cheeks are hollow, the flesh under his eyes is dark and puffy. His hair is not only longer and lank, but several strands of white stand stark against the coppery brown. Gauze bandages peak out of his loose gown, wrapping around his neck and down his wrists. An IV drip is hooked to his left hand.

    Anakin is silent for an indefinite amount of time. Just... staring, processing the sight in front of him, Ahsoka's words ringing in his mind.
    I don't want to see him hanging in his own cage.
    That's what he looks like, behind the thick pane of transparisteel. A sickly, exotic exhibit in an aseptic white cage.

    It's made worse by that sullen, downward gaze, not acknowledging them, not even as Anakin prods at their old bond.

    Won't he give him a chance? Won't he acknowledge him, even in anger, so Anakin can apologise? Or at least... try.

    Again Windu's hand settles on his shoulder, firmer this time. Anakin turns to him and it's not the Master of the Order looking back, but a man with understanding plain on his face, his mouth twisted by his own unspoken emotions.

    'Can I talk to him?' Anakin hazards, uncertain now.

    'You can, by pressing the intercomm there, but like master Che said, it's best you don't get your hopes up too much. He hasn't spoken to anyone since he's arrived here. At least beyond Rex, and some of the healers, as I understand it. He's ignored all the masters who've come to visit him so far.'

    'Who is that?'

    'Master Yoda, master Plo Koon and myself.'

    'Is it due to trauma, some kind of mutism or...?'

    'Or wilfulness? Because Rex was there with him and we're the ones who left him there? We don't know, he won't tell us. Maybe it is just resen-'

    A loud crash makes Anakin almost jump out of his skin, and Windu flinches, taking an automatic step back.

    'What the-'

    There are cracks radiating through the transparisteel window, and tea dripping down it. Obi-Wan, still in his meditative pose, is now empty handed.

    'Did he just throw his teacup at us?' Anakin asks, incredulous.

    'What's going on now,' comes master Che's booming voice. The healer approaches them in long strides, a datapad in hand.

    'Not sure...' Anakin mumbles, speaking the truth.

    'More teacup throwing,' Windu says.

    'More?'

    'Yes. Master Yoda and I were treated to much of the same the last time we came to see him,' Windu explains, before turning to master Che, his frown deepening. 'Except last time he didn't go and crack the window. This is reinforced transparisteel Vokara, what is going on?'

    'Well, did you say something to upset him?' The healer asks, sounding very matter of fact.

    'Not to him, we-'

    'Between yourselves.'

    The two men exchange a confused look.

    'What if we were?' Windu asks. 'He can't hear us.'

    Vokara Che's exasperation burns so bright, Anakin can feel it like sunlight on his skin.

    'What do I write reports for, if you won't read them?' And then, in the same conversational tone, her eyes never leaving them, 'Obi wan, do you care for another cup?'

    'If you please,' comes Obi-Wan's voice, crackling over the one-way sound system of the intercomm.

    'How-'

    'Let's go.'

    'I haven't spoken to-'

    Anakin interrupts himself as Vokara Che grimaces. It isn't directed at him, though she's looking him in the eyes. It's the scowl of someone in pain. 'We're going now, so stop.'

    She turns around and stalks off.

    'Stop? I'm not doing anything!'

    Mace Windu is behind him, pushing him forward to follow in Che's footsteps with a strong hand pressed against his back. 'I don't think she was speaking to you,' he murmurs to him.

    Anakin twists around to catch a last glimpse of Obi-Wan, still in a peaceful lotus, hands empty now, and eyes firmly closed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2021
  13. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I've been faithfully reading every update but haven't commented in ages. So sorry. This is so good.

    Oh Obi-wan. Even broken crayons still colour. Just want to reach into the story and be 'with' and give him hugs.

    Yeah, I'd be in a pretty bad mood after a dream like that. Normally dream sequences are hard to pull off, but you nailed it. Lovely blend of surreal and realism in that sequence.

    Ouch! What an amazing line. Then to have Anakin reflect on it in the next scene. Just amazing.

    Have I told you that I love her? I think I have. If I haven't then I'll repeat it. I love her. She's what I want to be when I finally grow up (and yes, I'm an adult...but you know what I mean.)

    Oh Obi-wan.
     
    Blue_Daddys_Girl likes this.
  14. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Update? Please????
     
  15. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Oh gods, sorry. Bad stuff happened last week (I carried my injured flatmate to the couch and heard the loudest CRACK my spine ever produced). Been in pain ever since and both distracted and not writing. I'm struggling with all my deadlines!! x'D
    Thank you for the reminded!!

    Ah yes, but I think Obi is in that state where you want to bitch and moan, and you don't want to hear good counsel. Everything is dark, you say so, and you don't want to be proven wrong. Though, tbf, I'm not sure what the policy on fallen Jedi was at the time, but I doubt they'd let him near a white sheet to try his colouring after this lol

    Very flattered to hear you say so! They're a fav thing of mine. I have an Obi sickfic (of course I do) that is mostly a fever dream, and the bounty on the discord this month is nightmare *rub hands*. I really like writing dream segments, but I know what you mean. They're dangerous. It's easy to bore people with them, and you shouldn't confuse readers either. Glad I avoided such pitfalls.

    I know she's amazing, right? I got introduced to her in a fic (Reprise by Elfpen), and it's the only place I know her from, so she's a rif on that character, but also half of an OC. Never seen her in canon besides her Wookiepedia page. She looks like she rules, so I made her rule lol
     
  16. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Confusion of Feelings
    [7/12]​


    Anakin sits in Vokara Che's surprisingly comfortable office, blows on the tea he’s been handed, rich green liquid swirling in a teacup similar to the one that had just come hurtling at him. Che speaks, Mace Windu replies, and Anakin tries to keep up with their back and forth, full of information that sometimes skims over his overloaded brain.

    'So you're saying he's using a healer's technique to get into people's heads?' He asks, trying to sound like he understood everything.

    'This is not quite what the Seam is, nor how he uses it,' master Che says. 'This was in my morning report to the Council, did you not–'

    'It was a long and intense session, and we clearly weren't looking at your most recent update,' master Windu cuts in. 'You have my apologies, master Che, but please, it bears repeating.'

    The healer sips on her tea, collects herself for a moment.

    ‘Most of the speaking Obi-Wan does is through the Seam. He can be quite persistent with it, as earlier, to the point of it being painful. He has not mastered its subtleties yet.'

    'So he talks to you?'

    'A little. He'll answer questions from Bedara or Se'bi vocally, but he tends to answer my apprentice through the Seam because he knows she can hear him there. He's very polite to all of them. However the only person he speaks with in whole, meaningful sentences, so far, is me.'

    Anakin blinks, surprised; Windu frowns, and Che looks back at them knowingly. Obi-Wan's reputation for hating the Halls, medbays and healers at large, despite having quite the collection of wounds and injuries to his name, is unrivalled.
    Anakin’s confusion boils into something else, some acid reflux closer to indignation or jealousy, he isn’t sure, he doesn’t care, he just recognises the hurt: his master is speaking after all, but not to him.

    'I know exactly how you feel,' Vokara Che goes on, shaking her head at the mystery of such a docile and compliant Obi-Wan, 'I was expecting him to try and squirm his way out of my care as soon as he could wobble back on his feet, but he's been reluctant to even leave his room for his physicals. He's like a wounded lothcat, trying to sleep his hurt away. But I'm getting sidetracked. The Seam. I will demonstrate.’

    She puts her teacup down and stretches out her arms along the armrests of her seat, palms up.

    ‘You're both great swordsmen—it's not a question, no need to give me coy shrugs—I'm sure you've experienced that sensation, in the middle of a duel, when everything flows, and you feel like you've become your own lightsaber, or your saber has become an extension of your self? A form of meditative combat? Well, healers lean into the Living Force, and we can enter a meditative state as we heal. Those trained to truly let go, who are capable of erasing their ego and enter a perfect state of flow, can step into the Seam. And there—'

    Che flicks a finger, the smallest of gestures, and Anakin's breath freezes like the air has solidified in his nose. There is no pain, like with a force choke, no pressure on his throat, yet his diaphragm lays limp and unresponsive in his chest, and no mental effort of his manages to make it pull any air in.

    Mace Windu jerks in his seat, tea sloshing out of his cup.

    '—we have a much stronger and more precise control of the bodies—and minds—around us.'

    'Right–' Windu says with a slight hitch in his voice as Che releases them. 'That was a convincing demonstration. So you're telling us Kenobi can enter the Seam at will.'

    'Now yes. Sleep deprivation isn't how we train healers to access it, but it seems to have done the trick for him. Through it he has a heightened sense of everyone around him, and can connect to people in a different way. I didn't put Obi-Wan where he is because of security concerns. I put him out there so he could have some quiet.'

    Anakin perks up. 'Why the fifth room?'

    'Because it's far enough that he can't hear the door noises in the middle of the night, and we don't have to trek half a klik to get to him.'

    'So you keep him isolated so no noise will irritate him?'

    'Wake him, Mace. So we don't wake him. But yes. We haven't had any accidents since he's been able to manage his own sleeping schedule without interruption.'

    'You did mention he's had a bad night, anything special about this one?'

    Vokara Che's lekku curl. Anakin's first reading is that she's annoyed, but that comes from his experience with Ahsoka. Twi'leks are different however. The healer is hesitating.

    'I suggested we try a trance dream. He accepted. He claims something is wrong with his dreams, so I went in with him.'

    Windu exchanges a look with Anakin. Clearly they shouldn't have missed Che's morning report.

    'What did you see?' Windu asks.

    Anakin's mind is somewhere else. 'Was something actually wrong?'

    Master Che leans back into her seat, hands neatly folded over her crossed legs. She looks at them both, inscrutable but for her pursed lips, parsing what to share.

    'There was something wrong, yes. They were dark, not just in theme, there was actual darkness there. I don't know what causes it either but in the depth of his nightmare he couldn't wake himself up, the way we would. He says that's what has been tormenting him for several days now.'

    'But you isolate him from noise to protect his sleep? Isn’t that worse then?' Anakin asks.

    'You don't spend all of your sleeping time dreaming. And when he isn't dreaming, the smallest noises can startle him awake.' Master Che sighs. 'He's having a hard time with it either way, and while I expect the noise sensitivity to get better, I don't know what's happening with the dreams. I've started some research, but we know precious little on the topic.'

    'What topic,' Anakin asks, frowning, 'dreams?'

    His own have a tendency to make him anxious, particularly when on Coruscant, for some reason. He's curious for a healer’s perspective.

    'Dreams and nightmares in darksiders. It's not like our fallen members often return and let themselves be–'

    'What are you saying?' Anakin exclaims, lurching forward in his seat.

    'Skywalker!' Windu snaps. 'Control yourself.'

    'Obi-Wan, a darksider?! No way! He’d never abandon the Code.'

    'Anakin,' Che says, her voice heavy with soothing force influence, 'I saw him use it. The dark side. That first day after he came in? We woke him up and he... I'm sure you've seen that report.'

    'Yes, we have,' Windu says, eyes throwing daggers at Anakin. 'How is padawan Chikssee doing?'

    'She'll leave her tank tomorrow. Her vitals are all fine, we're just not sure yet about her throat but well... We have the cybernetics for that sort of fix if need be.'

    Anakin scoffs. 'But that was an accident!'

    'Well–'

    'What are you trying to say?' Windu asks.

    Anakin can feel he's being baited, but he doesn't care.

    'All I'm hearing is how Obi-Wan snapped at someone and–'

    'If by snapped you mean blindly grabbed a fourteen years old padawan through the force by her throat and threw her out of the room through a window, then yes, he did snap. Go on.'

    Anakin grits his teeth, frustrated. Why is talking with Windu always like this?

    'Obi-Wan hurt someone in his confusion, but master Che says he's using a healer's power, so how can he be a darksider? How can he be one if he did not intend to break the Code? This was done to him! He freed Rex and himself using all he had at his disposal in a time of great distress, and now you're saying something is playing with his mind? Labelling him like that is unfair!'

    Vokara Che goes to speak but Windu cuts her off with a gesture and brings all the intensity of his Councillor persona to bear on Anakin.

    'Using a healer's state of flow or ataru or one's bare fists has nothing to do with falling to the dark side. It’s all about how and why you use it, and you know this!'

    'And as far as we know Obi-Wan's intent was good! He won't speak to the Council, but Rex swears he only killed slavers!'

    'Including unarmed ones, asleep in their bed!'

    'Who would have gotten up the next day to beat him up! Had tortured him for weeks!'

    'Are you suggesting the Jedi Order should adjust its Code to make the slaying of unarmed sentients a legitimate action, so long as we disagree with the morality of their trade? Where would we draw the line? Would you see us become executioners?'

    'I–'

    He what?

    Wants to clear his master's name, wants him back in his quarters so Anakin can care for him, wants to talk to him, wants to hear him say it's fine, all's fine, and he's forgiven.

    Anakin looks down at his cup, already empty, though he doesn't remember taking a sip from it and his mouth is dry.

    He wants his master back, to reassure him and nag him into being a good knight.

    His anger deflates as the sense in Windu's words finally hits home. There's been a lot of that today, and it's not an enjoyable experience.

    'No. Of course not. I'm sorry,' he says, biting down on all these wants. 'You're right, master. The Order can’t change for one member. But I wish Obi-Wan would not be judged so quickly. He needs time to heal and speak for himself. He needs a fair hearing.'

    Windu sighs. Che pushes her lekku behind her shoulders, maybe to keep their twitching private. The two masters appear older in that moment, almost as old as Anakin himself feels. There appears to be no winners in this argument.

    'I understand your concerns, Skywalker. If there is one thing I can promise you, it's that the Council will take its time in handling this situation. We're all waiting on master Che's permission first anyway.'

    Che nods. 'And you won't receive it anytime soon, the pace things are going. I want to return him to a normal sleep pattern and a clean bill of health.’

    Anakin nods absently. He sits in silence, busy trying to manage his thoughts while the two masters resume the conversation, covering Obi-Wan's health, poor as it is. It isn’t long before the Master of the Order calls the meeting over by standing up.
    He thanks master Che for the tea, congratulates her on her good work, and makes his way to the door. Anakin goes to follow him, bowing to the healer, but she stops him.

    'Skywalker, a word if you please.'

    'Yes, master Che?' He says, watching Windu leave the office without a backward glance.

    'What I said about the dream...'

    'The one you witnessed last night.'

    'Right.' She is silent for a spell, her eyes distant, lost in her memories.

    Anakin doesn't interrupt her. He's too tired to worry or even dread. This cannot be good. Nothing Obi-Wan dreams up right now can be any good.

    'A lot of what I saw was personal in nature, and I'm not obligated to discuss it, not even with the Council,' she says, refocusing on Anakin. 'I intervened in his dream when things got too... Too harrowing for him. He was dying. Something was eating him alive, tearing him apart. He was in actual pain, I was feeling it too, it was ludicrous, honestly. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I was about to wake him, but then you appeared. You grabbed his hand and helped him up.'

    Anakin nods, the hefty weight of defeat draping itself on his shoulders. 'I hurt him, didn't I?'

    Vokara Che gives him a sad smile. 'No. You truly helped. You refused not to help actually, even as he saw that his touch was contaminating you. That you were being eaten alive in front of him.'

    'So I died?'

    'No. You turned into a Sith. You looked at him with yellow Sith eyes and told him to join him, or something to that effect—oh, come now, breathe. You're alright. Here, sit down.'

    'I– I’m fine,’ Anakin mumbles even as Che grabs a hold of his arm to stabilise him. Maybe he understands Obi-Wan a little better, he thinks. The healer is such a grounding presence, and right now he feels like he has no choice but to lean into her. ‘You said he couldn't wake up on his own.'

    'That's right. Not during the nightmares at least.'

    'But you woke him then, right? After that?'

    'Yes. You know why I'm telling you this, don’t you?'

    Of course, Anakin knows. People often assume his hot-headed tendencies mean he's got brains for little more than off the cuff battle tactics and droid mechanics. Anakin is used to being misjudged, and he appreciates Vokara Che's bluntness for its implied trust.

    'Good. Now go, and don't come back until you've adjusted your emotions accordingly. Obi-Wan can sense you across half the Temple I'm sure.'

    'I understand.'

    Anakin steps out of Vokara Che’s office with his feelings in such a mess, he’s actually looking forward to settling down on his meditation cushion for once, but the day still has another surprise in store for him, in the shape of Mace Windu, arms crossed, looking unusually broody and clearly waiting for him.

    ‘Skywalker. A word from me too.'

    'Master?'

    ‘Let’s walk.’ Windu says, jerking his head in the direction of the lifts.

    Anakin follows the Korun master, half a step behind to give him the thinking room he seems to need, but Windu slows to match his pace.

    'Look. I know you've been hearing a lot of this but…’ Windu waves the sentence away, starting over. ‘After Qui-Gon Jinn's death, I spent quite some time with Obi-Wan. He felt like he needed to do a lot of field work to be ready to begin your apprenticeship, and I took him under my wing, so to speak. We became good friends. What I mean is that you're not the only one getting frustrated and upset over tossed teacups and cold silences. I might be better than you at managing my feelings, but it does not mean I do not feel.'

    'Master, I would not presume...'

    'I'm telling you, so you don't have to presume anything. Just know this, you're not alone. And whatever the Council ends up deciding regarding Obi-Wan's future in the Order, never doubt that he trained you to the best of his excellent abilities. He had faith in you, so should you.'

    'Have faith in him?'

    'No, Anakin. Have faith in yourself.'
     
    JediMaster_Jen likes this.
  17. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Should have posted yesterday, since I promised Wednesday updates, but since everything has gone to kark recently, I assume a Thursday will do lol

    Strength of Ties
    [8/12]​


    Anakin sits in the same lotus pose as Obi-Wan's.

    He has not tried to reach Padmé and the comforts she might offer, nor has he tried to contact Ahsoka when he did not find her in their shared quarters. Instead he went straight to his meditation cushion and set himself to work.
    He won't abandon his master again, so he isn't going anywhere.

    The light falls slanted over him, pink and golden as the sun sets. Twilight flits by, quickly chased away by the electric brilliance of the Coruscanti night coming to life.
    Anakin is too preoccupied to notice any of it. His mind rings with Vokara Che's words. It is as if the healer had offered him a mirror. A remote perspective from which to look down on himself, the man who Obi-Wan dreams with Sith eyes.

    It's not a pretty sight.

    Anakin sees himself as a bundle of raw emotions, the luminous being he is supposed to be almost invisible within the gnarly tangle of anger, fright, confusion, denial and jealousy. There's also love in there, more than the order would like there to be, and doubt. More than any knight ought to have.
    If Obi-Wan could sense that whole mess while in his darkest place, well... No wonder Anakin had gotten a teacup tossed his way.

    The change of perspective is like whiplash, but Vokara Che's trust is a steadying comfort. A new emotion comes washing over him, clean and simple: gratitude.

    He wonders if meeting Che sooner might have helped. Would he have listened to her, if he weren't trawling the bottom, desperate for a hand out of his own unshakable nightmare?

    Anakin works to steady his breath. He has time, but he has a lot of work to do. He picks a dark thread in the knot in front of him and pulls on it.

    Guilt should go first.

    He won't run now. He will face himself, and the consequences of his actions. He won't let guilt get in the way of becoming better.

    Of course it snags on memories, catches on anger, coils itself around shame. It resists. It's a pervasive emotion, at home in many of his mind's darker corners.

    But Anakin has time, and he's nothing if not obstinate. He'll disentangle himself if it's the last thing he accomplishes.

    ————

    When Ahsoka comes home, she flips on the lights and gasps, startled. Anakin has withdrawn far into himself and away from their bond, she probably didn't sense him, and it's not like sitting alone in the dark is his usual go-to for late evening activities.

    'Master I–' she interrupts herself, shuffles, awkwardness radiating through the force. 'Are you alright?'

    'I am. Are you?' Anakin asks, looking at her.

    Ahsoka's shoulders droop, resigning herself that they are going to have this conversation now. 'Yes, I'm fine. Should I make some tea?'

    'Not for me, thanks. I've had my fill for today, even though I don't really remember drinking it.'

    Ahsoka walks up to him, curious. 'How was master Obi-Wan?'

    Anakin isn't sure how to answer that, but resigns himself to the truth. 'Hanging in his cage, as you suspected. Though as I understand it, he sees it more as a mudhorn's brooding den.'

    'Did he say anything? Did you talk?'

    'Come Snips, sit down with me.'

    Ahsoka gives him a surprised look, her left lekku jumping in a more insolent "really?" but she settles herself down on her cushion all the same.

    Anakin sighs. He's so not ready for this. But it's another step he's resolved on. Ahsoka, apparently misinterpreting his reaction, launches herself in a flurry of excuses.

    'I'm sorry for my outburst earlier master, I shouldn't have spoken to you like this, and I realise I should have come with you even if–'

    Anakin channels some of master Windu's authority and interrupts her with the same gesture he used on master Che earlier. It works like a charm, and Anakin takes notes.

    'It's fine. I'm not telling you off. I wasn't really in a better place than you were. But we need to talk.'

    'About Obi-Wan?'

    'No. About us.'

    She frowns but says nothing and waits for him to go on.

    Yes, it's the master's role to lead, and too often that dynamic is unclear between them.

    'I've been meditating,' Anakin starts, 'and I've come to some conclusions.'

    Ahsoka's frown deepens, her white markings twisting and bunching. Anakin deserves it. When was the last time she'd seen him meditate? A year ago? When was the last time they meditated together? It's easy to blame the war, but Anakin feels like he has neglected his duties as a master all the same.

    'We're going to meditate together, then we're going to sleep. In the morning I'll go ask for a meeting with the Council, and your first task will be to find Vokara Che in the Halls and ask for a mindhealer to talk to.'

    Ahsoka's reaction is just as fiery as expected, her outrage and disbelief as vibrant as Anakin's would have been if he'd received such an order from Obi-Wan.

    'What? Master, why? It's not necessary I'm fine! I–'

    'Ahsoka!' Anakin snaps, raising his voice. 'Was what you said to me outside the Council Chamber, in front of Mace Windu, the words and actions of a padawan who is fine? Can't you feel the emotions you're letting out? How is this fine?'

    She rocks back, almost falling from her cushion. 'But, like I said–'

    'Are you really alright? After Zygerria? Does that not bother you any more? And what's happened to Obi-Wan? Nothing about the war has been on your mind?'

    He watches her sway, watches her wring her hands, and it hurts him to see her that upset. Anakin doesn't need to pull any thread to know how deeply enmeshed Ahsoka is in his heart and its fierce attachments, how far he'd be willing to go for her sake.

    'Still master, I don't see how–'

    'Snips, look... It's going to sound terrible coming from me, but you need to stop and listen to yourself. What do you really feel? You don't need to rush forward and make excuses. This... This pushing it all down and moving on without thinking... It's my worst trait, Ahsoka. Seeing it magnified in you isn't a good thing.'

    She sighs and settles herself back in a lotus matching his. She's clearly thinking his words through, which is a quality all her own. Anakin is sure Obi-Wan would have paid dearly to see him be this mindful.
    Well, maybe it's not too late.

    'Your apprenticeship isn't normal. Padawans aren't usually leading armies on their own. And then there's the fact I didn't choose you, that you were assigned to me... It can't have been easy for you. We should have spent more time talking about it, earlier on.'

    Ahsoka's hand catches his, squeezing his flesh and blood fingers. 'You're a great master. It wasn't easy at the start but I wouldn't change anything.'

    Anakin squeezes back. 'But I'm not always a great example or a reliable master. Honestly? Sometimes it feels like we're both Obi-Wan's kids.'

    They chuckle at that, knowing how painfully accurate the image is.

    'I want us to help him,' Anakin goes on, 'I want us to be anchors in the light for him. We can’t abandon him again. I mean, we owe him that much, don't you think?'

    'Of course master... I just... I guess I didn't think a mindhealer would help? So, what you’re saying is that we can’t really help him if we're all confused and unhappy ourselves?'

    Anakin smiles. Trust Ahsoka to get there ten times faster than him.

    'That's right. It won’t be easy, but we’ve pulled crazier missions, haven't we?'

    He looks into her eyes and slowly lowers his shields, letting his anxieties slip out through their bond, to show her she's not alone, an unspoken invitation to rely on him. Ahsoka smiles back at him and mirrors his emotions, their bond singing with the symmetry of their pain. For a long time their stay like this, hands locked, staring at each other, a silent conversation flowing between them, binding them closer.

    'Let's meditate,' Anakin whispers.

    'Yes,' his padawan agrees.

    And together they dive into the force.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
    JediMaster_Jen likes this.
  18. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Relief of Certainty
    [9/12]


    When Vokara confirmed his suspicions in the morning after the trance, relief washed over Obi-Wan like a spring rain over parched ground.

    Of course she hasn't come to the conclusion that someone is interfering with him, only that something is keeping his head down under dark waters. But Obi-Wan feels it again the following night, the subtle pressure of an unwanted guest, chasing him this way and that down the endless warrens of his nightmares. Now that he knows what to look for, he can sense the fading tracks, ephemeral footprints of a ghost come to haunt him in the night and gone by morning's artificial light.

    He frets for a while, which is unlike him. He does not like the explanations he comes up with on his own.

    It would be easiest to ask master Yoda. The old troll has such profound knowledge of the force, he might have answers and fitting solutions, some old practices long forgotten, to strengthen the shields of a dreamer. But Obi-Wan is wary of the old master's antics. Such knowledge would end up used in a tug-of-war with him, some ploy to make him talk. Make him reasonable.
    Life is challenging enough at the moment, he simply does not need an ideological debate with the Council on top of it.

    Instead he minds Vokara's advice and focuses on the meditative exercises she has asked him to perform.

    To find your balance within the force, she'd said. A solid ground to stand on, no matter which side of the force that ends up being.

    But as Obi-Wan stands in the Seam and looks down on himself, all he sees is the glow of his own shape. There is no Light, and no Dark.
    He's a luminous being still, as if the force cares little for his actions. As if it acknowledges nothing but power. The implications leave Obi-Wan uneasy. Life was simpler when he had no reason to question his understanding of the force.

    To find your own peace. Do an inventory of your soul.

    His soul, regrown from its tatters, scarred and patchworked as it might be, is still made of the same stuff. There is no discontinuity in his personhood. He carries the same memories, albeit buried and muted, as the old Obi-Wan.
    It's his point of view that has shifted.

    In his despair he tried forbidden ways, and found they served him well. They gave him relief, saved him, when nothing else would.

    Easy solutions are a shortcut to the darkside, Qui-Gon used to tell him. And he was right, of course.

    But if Qui-Gon had been there, watching over him on Kadavo as he was being ground into the charcoal dirt, what would he have said? Would he have understood, or wished for him to endure, no matter the cost?
    If he'd witnessed Obi-Wan in the Seam, blinding in his presence even as he wielded the force against the Code, what conclusions might his old master have drawn?

    How much of a change of perspective does it take, Obi-Wan wonders, to change who you are?

    And at his darkest time, at his lowest, when he watched himself shake a woman as if it would make her shut up, punch a man for daring to touch him and raising his voice, had he not been himself?

    When he decided to kill, when he reached out through the force to snuff out lives, had it not been his own choice? Some raw version of himself, lurking under the polish of civility, eager to strike back?

    Would that same beast have reared its snarling head, if he had been raised as a Stewjoni farmer and put through a similar ordeal?

    Surely, he has to believe so to accept himself, to make peace.
    Has to believe that he's a person in his own right first, and not a set of values. That his oath, his adherence to the Code, can be the thing that shattered, and not Obi-Wan Kenobi himself. That one does not equate the other. That his duties shouldn't define him.

    The idea is as tantalizing as it is frightening. Breaking his vows in the depth of sleep-deprived despair is one thing. Maybe the Council would even accept that "he was not himself" at the time. Beyond reason.
    But accepting such concepts as personal truths would be tantamount to rejecting the Order and its Code entirely.

    He'd be Jedi no more.

    Obi-wan stops himself in the middle of chewing on a hot rii cake, head cocked to the side as the pernicious question asks itself: is he even a Jedi now?

    'Everything alright master Kenobi?'

    He smiles at Kasaemasin, who for one has not written him off yet, despite everything she's witnessed.

    'I'm fine. Sorry, a thought just struck me a little late.'

    'Oh? I'll trade you another rii cake for that thought.'

    Obi-Wan chuckles. He doesn't mind being treated like a crecheling, not by this gentle padawan. The Council would love to know his thoughts, but he suspects Kasaemasin only wants him to eat more.

    Before he can make up his mind on what to answer, the force ripples, a faint but tumultuous stir that comes from up top.

    'What has the Council this rattled?' He asks.

    'Mmh?' Kasaemasin looks up, squinting her eyes as if she could see through the hundred odd levels separating them from the Council Chamber. 'What time is it? Ah, it must be your old padawan.'

    Obi-Wan blinks at her dumbly. 'Anakin?'

    She grins, more mischievous than he's ever seen her before. 'My master told me a meeting was scheduled at his request, and she was asked to attend. It must be an interesting one.'

    Obi-Wan huffs, surprised, and a little... Pleased? Worried? Definitely curious.

    He has avoided thinking much about Anakin, among others, to focus on his brittle self. He had not wanted to taint his relationships by dwelling on them while he was—

    Obi-Wan sighs. Above them the swell in the force slowly dissipates. Calm returns to the temple, as much as it ever does in these dark times.

    'Will you tell me what it was all about?'

    'Of course!' Kasaemasin agrees, pleased he asked, 'as much as I'm told, and allowed to pass on. But you know, I'm sure master Che will share the news with you if you'll ask her!'

    But Vokara does not visit him that afternoon, and in the evening it is Se'bi who comes with medication and questions and a droid for another round of tests. Obi-Wan lets himself be prodded. He falls back into the shades of in-between, where all his meditation takes place these days. He thinks of the people he's kept hidden away, resigned now that the filth won't go, that it is just a part of him he has to come to terms with.
    He remembers Siri, Garen and Bant, his youth in the temple, thinks of Qui-Gon and their early missions, of Satine. Ah. He wonders if anyone told Satine about him.

    Probably not.

    The duchess of an independent world has no business being kept apprised of the goings-on of Jedi. Then he wonders how many in the senate know, and by extension, how much of the galaxy.

    Someone, somewhere certainly noticed.

    That someone plunges after him into the night, holding on to his mind with greasy hands, clawing through his shields, pawing at his psyche.

    He should have left Satine sealed away... Maybe then he wouldn't be made to dream of her being beaten and shocked until her nose and eyes bleed into the ground, until her gaze falls away from him in death.

    Obi-Wan wakes up shaking, laughing, hearing the manic rage bubbling in the sound and unable to do anything about it. The alternative to laughter would be costly, and not just mentally.

    So. He has attracted the attention of a powerful Sith.

    Obi-Wan Kenobi, fallen Jedi, Sith honeypot. Lovely.

    He rises, trembling hands reaching in the dark for the warm outer robe Vokara gave him to wear outside the room he never leaves. He struggles to calm his breathing, to push back against the echoes of Satine's screams, the accusing words, the smell of charred flesh.

    His hands settle first, so Obi-Wan fastens the robe and pads across the room to the corridor outside, bare feet silent on the cold floor, nothing to be heard in the deserted wing but his own laboured breath.
    He makes his way to the small garden at the far end of the wing. It is a little room jutting out of the temple's bulk, its ceiling perforated in a geometrical pattern that lets in some of the moonlight. Or what passes for it on Coruscant.
    Obi-Wan sits down on a patch of moss and gazes up, to the twinkling of the stars, marred by busy orbital traffic, and the galaxy beyond.

    But the object of his thoughts isn't out there. No, he's much closer.

    Obi-Wan can tell it isn't Maul or Dooku. He knows their signature as it were, and besides, he doubts they would be strong enough for this.
    Obi-Wan's status in the Order is irrelevant. They could repudiate him and toss him out tomorrow and it wouldn't erase his skill, a lifetime of hardships and experiences that earned him the title of Jedi Master.

    Yet there is a Sith on Coruscant who can slide into his mind against his will, corrupt his dreams and keep him from waking. This would be no student, no betrayed reject like Ventress. No. No...

    This could be the Master.

    A small voice screams at him from the far reaches of his mind. We should tell the Council, it begs, they must know! Obi-Wan ignores it. It's our duty, it whispers still, but it's the voice of a foolish man, who accepted slavery and its horrors as part of his duties. One who sacrificed everything for nothing at all, who placed his trust in undeserving hands.

    Obi-Wan Kenobi watches the sky pale and the sun rise, and in the end, keeps his own counsel.


    ———

    Almost done folks!
     
    Kit' likes this.
  19. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I'm leaving this here to remind me to post. I've read it all, I'm just terrible at actually posting replies!
     
  20. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    I love all of this and I had the plan of going through and picking my favourite bits, and then I started (because I've been slack and not being replying to every post) and I got about half way throguh the second post and then realised that I'd quoted wwaaaayyyy too much stuff.

    I love your characterisation of Anakin and Obi-wan, they are both different to their depictions in media but I love the softer and more realistic edge to them, plus there is just something about a broken Obi-wan which...I don't know....I think I have a problem where that is concerned.
     
  21. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Bahaha, no quote or too many doesn't matter, so long as you're enjoying it! I'm happy to hear my characterisations work, because while I'm rather confident of Obi-Wan, Anakin was getting pretty OOC and I was never too confident about him... I guess I'll see what you think by the end :p

    Points of View
    [10/12]​


    'Master, I don't think we can do that.'

    'Are you getting cold feet now Snips? Of course we can.'

    Ahsoka shuffles. They are alone in the lift, so she doesn't have to hide her concerns or be quiet, but she still lowers her voice. 'No, I mean, we probably shouldn't.'

    Anakin smiles his confidence down on his padawan. 'Says who? Just stick to your lines and it'll be fine.'

    'Surely lying to the Council goes against the Code?'

    Anakin shrugs. 'I feel like we took quite a lot of steps to make sure we're not technically lying though...'

    'Wow, technicalities master? Really?'

    'Since when have you stopped trusting me?'

    'I don't know? When did this conversation start?'

    'Four days ago. You've had the time to voice your complaints, it's too late now.'

    She sighs and looks like she might keep arguing, but the doors whoosh open and they walk to the Council Chamber in silence.
    Anakin can sympathise with her. They aren't supposed to lie to the Council, but then again they aren't supposed to disobey its orders either and that's something both of them have polished to an art.

    Why stop now?

    Only Windu, Yoda, Plo Koon, Kit Fisto and Ki-Adi-Mundi are present in the flesh, but all the other seats are filled by holograms.

    All but Obi-Wan's.

    Curious eyes turn to them, scanning Anakin and his antsy padawan. He hasn't stated his reasons for requesting this meeting, though they probably all think it has to do with his master, and would be right, in a way.

    'Everyone is present,' Mace Windu declares. He reclines into his seat and waves a hand at Anakin. 'Skywalker, if you please, we'd like to hear what you have to say to the Council.'

    'Thank you master—masters—for giving me this opportunity.'

    Yoda harrumphs, Ki-Adi-Mundi waves the politeness away, Shaak Ti smiles. They all await in expectant silence. Ahsoka's nervousness seeps through their bond.

    Anakin squares his shoulders. He has made up his mind, and he knows he's right. More, he knows he's in the Light. This choice sings to him, vibrant and clear.

    'I'd like to request a formal leave of absence of undetermined length,' he says, 'and be relieved of all my duties, both in the GAR and the Order, until I'm fit to return.'

    Anakin expected a reaction, but nothing on the scale of what he gets.

    He looks on, stumped by the onslaught of arguments, questions and backhanded compliments. It turns out he is valued. One of the best generals in the GAR, an invaluable asset! He can't be spared at such a crucial time, and won't he reconsider?

    Windu massages his brow in silence, leaving Yoda to strike his cane against the ground, mustering order back to the room.

    Baffled, Anakin presses his point, reminds them—not hiding his shock that he has to—that his master has fallen.

    'I'm not exactly taking it in stride,' he says.

    And still, they push back. 'No one is better qualified to replace you in this post,' Agen Kolar insists.

    Anakin bites down on his feelings before they can get a hold on him, and channels them instead in a fervent diatribe.

    'Rex could! He's an exceedingly talented clone captain, and I believe him to be perfectly capable of leading the 501st on his own for some weeks. Rex has more military victories to his name than many officers three times his age. He's already back on duty after his ordeal on Kadavo, he's just that strong and devoted to the cause! You could not find a better stand-in. He's loyal. Loyal, even by clone standards.'

    Councillors bicker, argue. 'A clone couldn't be promoted to General, not even an acting General.'

    'Then make him a commander!'

    Voices rise. Tones grow clipped. 'We need a Jedi leading the 501st.'

    Ahsoka is struggling to hide her own mounting fury, her lekku twitching with emotions. But she stays put, biding her time. Not that she has to wait long before Ki-Adi-Mundi suggests that she should replace Anakin at the head of the 501st.

    He expected it, but his indignation is still real when he confronts the Cerean master. 'A padawan's place is at their master's side.' He counters sternly.

    This gives them pause. Anakin Skywalker is not known in the Order for his orthodoxy.

    'Don't you feel that your padawan is ready for this assignment?' Kit Fisto asks, leaning forward, smiling kindly. 'Wouldn't she be a good fit? She has experience leading men.'

    'Master, are you suggesting that one teenager who was raised to be a diplomatic peacekeeper is better than another teenager who was born and bred for war?' Anakin retorts, working hard to keep his face neutral. He wants to snarl at him, at all of them. 'I think Ahsoka could do it, absolutely. I also think Rex is just as qualified, and that neither of them should really be running a war. But at least Rex doesn't need to sort through his lineage falling to the dark side for the second time.'

    'Peace, Skywalker. It is not for us to decide on Clone promotions.'

    'Councillors, I thought that breaking the Code was frowned upon? Is sending a padawan to war instead of their master, and despite their master's will, really a precedent you want to set?'

    Ki-Adi-Mundi scoffs, but Yoda speaks up. 'A good point, knight Skywalker has,' he says. 'Requested the presence of a healer, Skywalker has too. Maybe time it is to tell us why, mmh?'

    'I was the one who requested Vokara Che's presence, master Yoda,' Ahsoka says, stepping forward. 'I have... I have not been well either, since the...' She falters, gives Anakin a sideways glance. He puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder, encouraging her to go on. 'I've been seeing a mindhealer and I believe I would benefit from more sessions. I'd like to stay with my master.'

    A heavy silence settles in the Council Chamber. They all turn to Vokara Che, who steps forward and does nothing more than confirm Ahsoka's words.

    'Matters discussed during sessions are private, and master Sha-Xan has not seen fit to share the details, but he believes padawan Tano would do well with a leave and more sessions with him.' She gives Anakin a sideways glance. 'I think knight Skywalker could also use our help, if he's willing to take it.'

    Huh. She really is amazing, Anakin thinks, biting into his cheeks to keep his victorious smile in check.

    While the councillors exchange glances and meaningful nods and shakes of their wise heads, Mace Windu catches Anakin's eyes. A cocked eyebrow is all he gives him, but it carries a lot of meaning. Anakin even reads some respect there. Well played, it seems to say. Surprise that he's taken his advice and ran off with it.

    Windu looks away to survey the room, and with his usual tone of authority, asks Anakin and Ashoka to leave so the Council can discuss the matter.

    'We will get back to you after this meeting is done, but we need to discuss other matters first.'

    Anakin and Ahsoka bow and walk out of the Chamber, alone. Ah, so Vokara Che stays, and next on their agenda is a certain Jedi in her care.

    'I think we got this, Skyguy,' Ahsoka whispers as they step back into the lift.

    'Yeah,' Anakin agrees, shaking the last of the anger still clinging to him and grinning down at her, 'I think we do, Snips. Now to wait and see...'

    ————

    Ahsoka watches her master meditate with mixed feelings.

    When on Coruscant, Anakin is usually out and about, off to visit Senator Amidala, thinking himself wickedly discreet, and leaving Ahsoka to roam the Temple or the city as she pleases, keeping her own hours.

    But if he left twice after their return from Zygerria, he hasn't been out of the Temple grounds since Obi-Wan's rescue. He only ventures out of their quarters for katas or duels in the dojos, working through the worst of his emotions physically, and walks in the gardens. She caught him napping on the grass once.

    It's a serious change of pace for their duo.

    Anakin has led her in more meditations in that time than in the past two years, not even counting the ones he does on his own.

    Ahsoka grumbled exactly once, their first time, before she sat cross-legged in front of Anakin and joined him in the deep eddies of the force he always takes her to, farther than she can go on her own.

    There she met another version of herself—became her, for a moment.

    She felt powerless and alone, standing on a slab of stone, a featureless expanse only broken by the silhouette of Anakin, not as he was, but as he could be: hunched over, golden eyes smouldering behind a curtain of drab hair, his face twisted in a scowl dripping hatred.

    The air between them was tinted an oppressive red by the lightsaber in his hands.

    He didn't move, didn't even look at her, really. He just faded away, leaving Ahsoka to wrangle with the hurt and despair that wasn't truly hers to feel.

    Perspective, that's what the vision gave her.

    She has been diligent ever since, joining her master in meditation, visiting a mindhealer as instructed... And now she keeps a journal for said mindhealer, a little flimsi booklet in which she jots down her worries, the questions she struggles to ask, the doubts that always come gnawing back.

    She has sketches in there too, the same face drawn from many angles, scars and tattoos distinguishing them. In the margins are all her misgivings, scratched in her messy hand, all the fears she feels at the idea of losing one more clone, one more friend.

    Is it not wrong, to mass produce soldiers? Sentient weapons?

    Aren't we to blame for every clone death?

    Why can't we retrieve their bodies and give them proper burial? There's never any time... Why can't we make it? Does the Order not care?

    I don't even remember the names of all the clones who died under my orders. Why was I given men when I didn't know how to care for them?

    I feel like the respect they give me was earned with so many of their deaths... How can I deserve it?

    She sketches Rex, looking at her askance. She doesn't have the skill to do him justice, to render the quiet sadness that has flickered in his eyes ever since his rescue from Kadavo. Or was it since Umbara? She isn't sure.

    As if picking up on her unease, Anakin sighs from his cushion. But he has his eyes closed, head tipped forward, chin resting on his chest.

    Ahsoka reaches out to him, but their bond is fuzzy again. He has gone far, working on himself. Processing backlog was the term he'd used, grinning proudly. Right now though, she suspects he's simply running away from the tedium of their wait, killing time by sorting out his feelings.

    Ahsoka slaps her notebook shut, pushes her feet back into her boots, checks her wristcom, and grabs a holopad to leave Anakin a note.

    I'm off to process some backlog too, the hologram spells out, you can comm me when you know. I'll be with Rex and the gang.

    And with that she's off, jogging towards the barracks, to ask her friends some questions she should have asked long ago, to share feelings she shouldn't be releasing in the force.
     
    Kit' likes this.
  22. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    So many quotes. So much good stuff...

    This made me snort with laughter. There was pea and ham soup in my mouth at the time. It was almost not pretty.

    Ahh, in this Anakin is a Jedi after my own heart. Technicalities but only when they suit you.

    I think your Anakin and my Namia would get along like a house on fire. Actually they'd probably set the house on fire and then blame Obi-wan or technicalities...or both.

    Superb line. I think this whole scene really gets to the heart of the problems with the Jedi Council during the Clone Wars. They stop seeing Jedi as people and start seeing them as things. Actually I'd go so far as to say that happened a long time before the Clone wars.

    To quote the honorable and marvelous Sir T. Pratchett GNU — 'Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.'

    Speaking of which, what does the wonderful Miss Amidala think of this whole thing?

    Rubs hands together gleefully at the prospect of being able to use her philosophy teaching on Ashoka.

    Yes, technically. I mean their sentience would classify them as beings with their own rights. They would need to choose to be soldiers, otherwise they are no better than slaves. So yes, Ashoka - it is very, very wrong...but then your Order takes children away from their parents at a young age and turns them into child soldiers as well...so there is that...

    Not you personally, but definitely the Order and the Senate. The Jedi were given a gift but haven't exactly been wise in not looking in its mouth....

    Good Jedi follow orders...

    Uh...I'm not answering that...

    That was a really sweet and lovely point to end this scene on. Amazing work as always!
     
  23. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    Ahaha, I'm so glad to see you vibing with Anakin. Though I didn't know that quote from Pratchett I agree. I think the moment the deception arc rolled around, it was clear as day the council had lost touch with the humanity of its members and shifted its priorities dramatically.
    Please don't make me cry over my own story by such simple and devious means!! And yes, the Senate definitely carries the heaviest blame. We can only dream of a galaxy who cares about sentient life... There wouldn't be enough wars probably!! :D

    Ok we're almost done now!!

    Touch of Darkness
    [11/12]​

    Obi-Wan can sense Vokara approaching like a storm front eating up the horizon. There is an electric quality to her aura, static rippling through the Seam ahead of her.

    'Everything alright?' He asks as she enters his room, curious.

    She grabs a stool and sits herself across from him. While her presence is turbulent, she appears perfectly composed, face as uncommunicative as her lekku, which are rolled up and tied to the back of her head like a human’s chignon.

    'I've insisted on being the one to tell you, because I think you'll take it better from me than from Mace, but the Council decided to rescind your rank of councillor,' she says, blunt as ever. 'You're just a Jedi on indefinite probation right now, as far as the world is concerned. Ah, and you're not a general either anymore, of course. I don't know the details there, but I assume you have no rank at all.'

    'It's fine. I expected as much, and sooner, to be honest.' Obi-Wan huffs. 'I suspect I'm not the one who'll be most upset by this news.'

    'You mean Anakin?'

    'He's always been very emotional. He loves me too much for his own good.' Obi-Wan says wistfully, feeling his own love like a fist clenched around his heart. 'Or Ahsoka. Even his R2 unit, I swear, he'd probably disembowel anyone putting a scratch on it, let alone us.'

    Obi-Wan leaves it at that. In the not-so-distant-past of just a few weeks ago, he would have added some judgemental quip, some shake of his head to show his disapproval.

    But he has no energy left for lies. In a way he envies Anakin his unabashed attachments. Sure, they bring him closer to fear and hate and grief, and all those emotions that could tip him to the dark side, but then again he isn't the one getting a briefing about the Order divesting him of rank, Obi-Wan is.

    Obi-Wan, who spent his life holding the people he loves at arm's length, outright pushing others away before bonds could take root. Obi-Wan, so good at releasing his emotions into the force, denying his heart, turning away from his true self. And for what? To fall in the end, when he’d been most alone.
    He's left to wonder how he would have weathered his ordeal on Kadavo if he'd had stronger ties to support him, or enough selfishness to save himself sooner.

    Vokara clicks her tongue, bringing him back to the present.

    'I'm not worried for him,' she says, brushing the idea away with a flick of a blue hand, 'he's turned out to be thick-skinned and a lot smarter than I gave him credit for. Oh, you should have seen it. I thought I was going to have to pull Ki-Adi's tongue out of his throat before the end.' She shakes her head and turns a piercing glare on Obi-Wan. 'No. He'll be fine, but I'm not sure the Order will be.'

    'Oh?' Obi-Wan searches in himself, but struggles to find the will to care. He has much bigger issues at hand, plans he's not sure he'll even survive, and little empathy to go around. 'I'm sure the Order will manage without me.'

    'Yes, but can it manage without Anakin and maybe his padawan too?'

    Obi-Wan gapes at her. 'You don't think-'

    'I don't know him like you do, but if the Council wants to earn his favour, I think they're going about it the wrong way.'

    Obi-Wan bites down on the first words coming to his mind. Surely he sees that it is the minimum they can do... Must do. Anakin could be an idealist at the weirdest of times, and with the strength of his attachment to him, he'd probably champion Obi-Wan to the bitter end.
    Yet the idea that Anakin would leave the Order in protest of his demotion is ridiculous, and he tells Vokara as much.

    'He's too fervent. He believes in doing the right things, even by the strangest means. If he leaves the Order, it'll be for multiple and serious reasons.'

    Vokara gives him a sad smile, a rare look of pity.

    'And you don't think you'd be a serious enough reason to him?'

    Obi-Wan bristles at the remark. A flurry of feelings wash over him—indignation, alarm, concern, bitterness and regret—but he shoves them all away. It doesn't matter any more. He has taught Anakin everything he could, he's done his best, and has to have faith it’ll be enough to guide his friend down his best path.

    Yet Anakin has never truly learnt to let go. Maybe now is the time for that lesson to finally sink in, but it won't be Obi-Wan teaching it.

    He has his own plans, a trap to set up and spring.

    He has noticed patterns in his ghost's visits, never too late in the night and often early in the morning. Clearly a man with a schedule, who isn't nocturnal and can't afford to be, even for the sake of seducing Obi-Wan—if the visions of horror he is subjected to are intended as such.
    Obi-Wan suspects the Sith's true goal is to break him further, to whatever end. Maybe just out of spite. Maybe they know each other? Obi-Wan can't imagine a Sith would like him much.

    He is in a unique position with a singular opportunity, and can’t afford to be distracted by Anakin’s decisions.

    Obi-Wan stares back at Vokara, wondering how far she's reaching with this comment, what reaction she is hoping for, pulling on this emotional thread.
    Whatever it is, he won’t give it to her.

    'Let him do what he wants.' He says with a tone of finality. 'I'm done mothering him. Anakin is his own man, a knight, and the Order should reap what it sows. We all do, after all.'

    ———

    Anakin navigates the Senate's corridors on autopilot.

    He dodges senators, aides and protocol droids unconsciously, picking up his pace to match the raging noise in his head. His body is homing in on Padmé's location like a hunter missile, his mind churning with the news.

    Master Windu has had the decency of telling him in private before tomorrow's official announcement.

    Obi-Wan, stripped of all rank.

    Obi-Wan, withdrawn from the war effort, and unlike Anakin and Ahsoka's new medical leave, there is no "until further notice" attached at the end. No, Obi-Wan got the boot, and all for killing slavers at the wrong time of day... Slavers that Anakin would have come and gladly killed for him if only he'd known his location.

    Anakin just can't reconcile the acts with the punishment.

    Of course, he has his own massacre tight under wrap, a nexus of darkness in the knot of emotions at his core. He's still haunted by it, and there's not a day that goes by where he doesn't wish he could go back in time, fix all the things he did wrong.
    It’s guilt. No matter how Anakin tries to free himself of it, the damn stuff only regrows as his thoughts circle back to his failures. Still, he likes to think he's walking in the light. After all, no one has pointed fingers at him, calling him fallen. No one has suggested he be stripped of his rank.
    Maybe the difference is that nobody knows. Or maybe he was already too dark for anyone to notice his own fall. And wouldn't that make Obi-Wan's situation even more meaningless? A fall only in name, more like a tripping, a mistake, something that could be excused and moved past? If Anakin could return to the light, can’t Obi-Wan?

    But Jedi aren't allowed to make mistakes. Not ever.

    Anakin is so preoccupied, he nearly slams into Chancellor Palpatine.

    'Oh my!' The man exclaims, throwing a hand out to balance himself.

    Anakin catches him by reflex, eyes wide, brain just catching on. 'Chancellor! I'm so sorry, I was walking too fast!'

    The old man chuckles. He waves his guards away to give them some space and pats his robes down. 'No harm done my boy, I only wish I had half your enthusiasm getting places. All these emergency meetings these days, quite kills the spring in a man's stride. Anyway, what has you so distracted? I understand you have a lot to worry about...'

    Anakin blinks in surprise at the open question. Chancellor Palpatine only smiles at him, his kindly face showing polite curiosity and nothing more. But how? He can’t possibly know.

    Obi-Wan's fall is the Council's best kept secret at the moment. Even the healers hadn't been told, before he'd gone and tossed one through a window. Surely Palpatine isn't actually talking about that? But Anakin's own leave isn't official yet either.
    Doubt worms its way into his heart.

    'I'm sorry Chancellor, I'm not quite sure what you mean?'

    Palpatine's smile twists, turning into a politician's coy grin. He wraps an arm around Anakin's shoulder and walks him away to the relative privacy of the other side of the corridor, by the windows overlooking the Coruscanti skyline.

    His voice grows hushed and his tone secretive as he prods him. 'I've heard the most terrible news concerning your master. Tragic, really. No one could have predicted it. Of course I lack the details, but I'm sure the Council has made you aware of the situation?'

    Anakin reels, barely managing to hide his shock. Just, how?!

    More importantly, what is he trying to say here? What is he trying to achieve? Is he taking him for a gossip? Putting him up against the Council? It's not like he's even offering condolences, he's just... Yeah, baiting him.
    Like Obi-Wan’s situation is something to spread about in whispered rumours.

    Anakin gives the old man a tired smile, tinged with some of his own coyness. He doesn't employ it often, but Obi-Wan did teach him diplomacy.

    'I'm sorry Chancellor, but there is nothing to say about my master. He's fine, if you want to know,' he adds, resisting the urge to grimace, because Palpatine certainly hasn't asked. 'Recovering from a bad mission. I saw him just the other day. You must have heard about the Council giving him some leave, though I don't know how.'

    'Oh, I have my ways,' Palpatine croons, squeezing Anakin's shoulder. 'You have me reassured. I had heard much worse, the sort of development I'm not sure the Jedi Council can quite manage with grace.'

    So he knows, somehow, and still shows no concern for Obi-Wan, the one person who matters here. Or for Anakin himself either.

    It needles him. This isn’t even the first time. Yes. It's always the Council this, the Council that, isn't it. It breaks Anakin's heart a little, to come to this conclusion. Just a fraction of the ache of recent events, but still... He'd thought the Chancellor a friend. Yet it turned out Obi-Wan had been right all along.

    This is no friend, just a politician, gaming their relationship to get ahead.

    'The Council can fend for itself, I think. Now if you'll excuse me,' Anakin says with a small bow, stepping out of the man's hold.

    'Of course,' Palpatine agrees, his more genial smile making a flawless return. 'We both have places to be and people to attend to.'

    They part ways, and Anakin's stride grows even longer in his eagerness to put distance between them.

    ———

    When the Sith comes, Obi-Wan is waiting for him.

    He sits on his bed in a meditative lotus, head lolling forward, hands loose in his lap, using all the patience raising Anakin has gifted him.

    He breathes in the silence of the darkened room, breathes out his murky emotions, tittering on the edge of sleep, holding onto the Seam by his fingertips.

    He bides his time, listens to his chrono chiming the minutes that coalesce into hours. Waiting, waiting.

    And then he's here, like a monstrous mynock, latching onto Obi-Wan's mind, teething its way to the thoughts below.

    Obi-Wan's head snaps back with a gasp as he jerks himself through layers of awareness, a climber cresting a cliff from a dead hang, his psyche screaming through the effort even as it collides with the intruder's.

    It's an invisible battle, a confusion of incorporeal limbs jostling madly, metaphorical teeth and claws tearing and snapping. Obi-Wan, fuelled by sheer spite, barely holds on to the abhorrent stuff writhing and pulsating under his grip.

    It's the smallest of scratches, but he pierces his enemy and viscous ichor comes pouring out, inundating him in flashing thoughts, images and overpowering feelings—pain, dismay, and hatred, so much hatred in so many different shades and flavours, an acid bile coating everything—and underneath them an identity, an intellect sensing him, probing back, ready to lash out.

    Obi-Wan recoils, horrified. He comes crashing down into his own body, fighting for breath.

    He hears the screams long before he recognises his own voice.

    Kasaemasin is by his side, cooing him like a child, wiping his tears away, wrapping him in a smothering hug, her tendrils falling down over his shoulders, enveloping him.

    Everything is alright, everything is fine, she whispers through the Seam. You're here, and I'm here. Safe, safe, safe.

    She holds his quivering body and rocks him. She doesn't know what happened and doesn't ask, content with soothing him, attuned to his distress like a mother to her infant's cries.

    Oh, she doesn't know, sweet Kasaemasin! She isn't safe. None of them are.

    Obi-Wan sobs in her embrace without restraints. That's the good side of being a fallen Jedi. If you can crush a heart without remorse, you can cry without shame.

    Obi-Wan cries for his time of unknown servitude. Years of his life, shifting perspective, now devoid of meaning.

    He cries for his old master's death.

    He cries over the lives lost, over his blind Order, over the leering face of Sheev Palpatine.

    He cries for what he must do.
     
    JediMaster_Jen likes this.
  24. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Sorry, not sorry. :p

    Oh no Obi-wan! Not someone else who actually cares about your well-being. Maybe you should start listening to them.

    Or Maybe not...

    *sigh*

    Not ever. No mistakes. The perfect beings. Perfectionism no matter the cost. To themselves, to others.

    Definitely not a concept that appears in my stories...definitely not.

    I do like how you summarized it though and made Obi-wan realise that was exactly what they were asking of him.

    Yes! That's the way Anakin! See through the mask and into the face beneath.

    Oh Obi-wan. Why must you break my heart.

    Oh Obi....
     
  25. Blue_Daddys_Girl

    Blue_Daddys_Girl Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    May 8, 2021
    And finally... Here we are, all done.


    Leap of Faith
    [12/12]​


    Anakin lays sprawled across Padmé's bed, his head resting on her belly, listening to its soft gurgles with a smile.

    'Your stomach is trying to tell me something,' he says, 'but I don't think I understand that language.'

    Padmé shoves him off, laughing. 'It's trying to say your nerf-head is too heavy for it.'

    They roll across the bed, playful fight turning to an embrace and soft kisses. Anakin brushes his fingers through his wife's hair, looks into her warm brown eyes, smiles against her lips, and feels himself stir again.

    Of course that's exactly when Padmé's office comm starts to ring.

    She rolls her eyes and pushes herself off of him, gesturing for Anakin to stay put. 'I'll be just a minute, I think I know what this is.'

    Anakin watches her lithe figure as she pads away naked to take the comm call on audio. Seeing her like this, spending time with her intimately, is such a rare gift. Yet it’s not the sort of pleasure that one grows accustomed to. He could watch her move about like this every day of his life and feel the same giddy joy as the first time she'd kissed him, or the first time she'd rolled off the bed to fetch water for them, a little nothing moment that was carved in him as a most precious memory.

    Why can't he do this every day, and be drunk on the sight of her, always?

    'Are you really alright?' Padmé asks.

    Anakin jerks, surprised to find she's finished her call and is sitting by his side of the bed. He sits up, ready to placate her with half-lies, but stops himself short, the words dying on his lips.

    She knows about Obi-Wan, and about him... So surely she can hear the truth, the extent of his rebellion?

    The words are sticky in his throat at first. He hardly makes sense when he relates his disappointment in Palpatine, the way the politician had shoved the friend aside.

    She holds his hands, comments here and there, nods in encouragement, and Anakin finds himself sharing more and more, the words tumbling out of him, escaping before he can censor them.

    He tells her about his meditation, about the knot in him slowly unravelling, and the awkward truths that slip from it.

    Anakin tries to explain how beautiful the Temple is, the home of an Order where thousands of force sensitives work on the will of the force. He tries to put into words the way he has seen this work shift to become more the will of the Council, and how that now means the will of the Senate.
    Thousands of Jedi turned into political tools, fighting a war that is so wrong, it broke Obi-Wan, his Obi-Wan, the brother who raised him, the man he loves most.

    He cries, hot tears full of pent up anger, and Padmé brushes them away. She listens, encourages him, and Anakin goes on.

    How can he give Ahsoka the best upbringing, when he risks her life on the front every day?

    How can he be a good husband, when he barely sees Padmé enough to count as a lover?

    How can he walk into the light, carrying so many lies, so many doubts?

    Between hiccups he tells her of Tattooine, of promises of freedom made and forsaken, of dreams and ideals of a world free of slavery. How he abandoned them for the ideals of an Order that dictates his every move, that he has to fight at every turn to protect Ahsoka or his men. An Order that turned its back on Obi-Wan not once, but twice.

    Obi-Wan's break is a shattering of the Order's values to Anakin. How can it be worth fighting for anymore?

    Beyond the broken pieces he can see a world where he's free to let go, to listen to the force, to do what feels right, and not what he's told. Free to marry Padmé again, publicly. Free to see her walk away from him, and back, every day, whenever they want.

    A world without hiding, without anyone chiding him for daring to love.

    She's hugging him, crying and shaking in his arms, and Anakin feels a little silly, rubbing her back, asking her, 'would you? Would you marry me again?'

    She slaps his chest. 'Of course,' she says, laughing through her tears as she pushes herself away to look up at him, 'of course I'll marry you publicly. No matter what you want to go on to do, I'll support you.'

    Anakin shudders. He feels like a fist unclenching after being held in a vice for decades, stiff fingers unfurling, tingling as blood rushes back in.

    For a while all they do is cry and laugh, whisper plans and sweet nothings, brushing each other's cheeks dry.

    'I'll go fetch some water,' Padmé says, getting up, and Anakin watches her with a private smile.

    As he sighs, a great weight leaves his body riding his breath. Anakin Skywalker has never been brighter in the light than in the moment he decides to leave the Jedi Order.

    ————

    'But what if I left?' Ahsoka asks the clones around her. 'Took my, like, five things, and flew off.'

    She's drunk, and making no efforts to clear the intoxication away with the force.

    Rex chuckles, just as tipsy. 'Could you fit me in your luggage?'

    She snorts, puts a hand to her mouth to keep the beer from escaping her, and nearly chokes on it.

    Jesse makes no such effort, showering Kix and Vaughn in a spray of spotchka.

    Screams and raucous laughter ring through the hangar they’ve turned into an impromptu club house—booze coming out of privates stashes and a portable stereo blasting the latest hits out of Mandalore, for some reason—and they only get louder when Fives wobbles back to them with a small cart on wheels.

    'Can you fit, Rex? Can you?' He asks. 'Denal, you fetch five things. Guys, we're making this work!'

    Rex kicks and fights the whole time, obviously, because that cart is way too small, but he and Ahsoka have been drinking all afternoon before the rest of Torrent Company got wise and joined them, and he's toasted enough to end up stuck in there, legs poking over the edge, to everyone's delight.

    Jesse brings a datapad, Kix offers up a wrench—'always need a good wrench!'

    Denal has gathered another bottle of spotchka and a bag of emergency rations. 'That makes four,' he declares as he places them on top of Rex's chest.

    'Only needs your lightsabers, 'Soka,' Fives hiccups.

    'Err, isn’t that six things? Ow– What was that for?'

    'Then you're ready to go!' Vaughn declares.

    The men start slapping a rhythm on their thighs, hooting as Ahsoka titters up to her feet and goes to Rex.

    She grins down at him, handing him her lightsabers. 'You asked for this.'

    Rex squints his eyes up at her. 'I'm not so drunk that I'm not– I won't– I'll remember this tomorrow!'

    Ahsoka laughs. 'I'll buy a larger suitcase,' she says, and starts pushing the cart to general applause and cheers.

    It says a lot about how far they're all gone that in the end she has to use the force to coax Rex out of the cart, and Jesse never gets back up from where he has collapsed in his effort to help. Rex stumbles off, chasing after Fives for some swift justice.

    Ahsoka basks in the mood, happiness bubbling in the force around her. They haven't answered her question, not really, but they don't need to. Their camaraderie, the way they accept her as one of their own—as much as a Jedi can be—warms her to her core, more even than the bourbon Kix has been handing out.

    Rex circles back around and settles down next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

    'C'mander,' he says, words slurring a little, 'you're too good. You'd never leave me t'run this crazy bunch alone. I know it. And you're my favourite c'mander too!'

    'I'm your only commander,' Ahsoka laughs.

    'Even if you want to go,' Rex continues, 'just, don't go anywhere I can't follow, 'kay?'

    'Alright,' she says, leaning against him. 'I promise.'

    ————

    Obi-Wan escapes from the Halls of Healing. Although, as he encounters no locked doors, escape might be an overstatement. He slinks like a thief in the night all the same, avoiding the rare Jedi still up and about. He has left a note behind for Vokara, apologising for his stealthy departure and detailing his revelations, in case he doesn't make it. If anyone will take him seriously, it'll be her.

    I hope I never need to see you again, he’d concluded, but I'd like to all the same.

    Obi-Wan carefully makes his way to the southern landing pads, where he hopes to grab a civilian speeder, anything to get him to the Senate in an anonymous manner and without raising the alarm in the Temple.
    He still isn’t sure whether Palpatine has sensed him peering into him, recognising him, or if he believes he was simply shaken off. Obi-Wan could well have the element of surprise, or be about to walk into a trap. He is going anyway.

    He will fight, and no matter the outcome, finally sleep. A long and dreamless slumber at last!

    The voice returns, weak and plaintive, pleading him to talk to the Council, to trust in someone. We're stronger together, it whispers, like the word together hasn't lost all its meaning by now.

    The Council would doubt him. They would debate forever. They would require evidence Obi-Wan could not provide.

    They would alert him. Darth Sidious.

    No, he has to do this himself.

    He does consider Anakin. He knows he could ask, and that Anakin would rush to his help.
    That is, until he learns the target’s identity. Obi-Wan would rather not know who Anakin would choose to believe, put on the spot between Palpatine and his fallen master. When he reaches for the frayed end of their bond, he finds it bright and warm, and he abandons the idea completely.

    It is fitting that he would go alone. This has become personal. Was personal from the moment of Qui-Gon's death, really.

    Striking Palpatine down would be both a revenge and a grace. The most selfless of selfish acts.

    It's a task Obi-Wan would have wanted as a Jedi, but would never have been granted. Oh, and he would have accepted the Council’s decision, would have watched them botch it themselves, would have returned to years of war, loyal, faithful to the end.

    But Obi-Wan is the Sith-killer, and the leash of duty has snapped.

    He can hear the force now, stronger than ever. It sings to him, hums to the cadence of his step, guides him through the Temple in its ebb and flow. It warns him too, before Mace steps out of the intersection ahead.

    'I figured you wouldn't leave through the front door.' The Korun master says, the shadow of a smile playing on his lips. He was always one to favour ambushes. His eyes trail over Obi-Wan in a deepening frown. 'Force, you look like a shade.'

    Obi-Wan smirks. He supposes he does, between the pale outer robe and the white strands of hair tumbling across his face.

    Mace closes the distance between them. 'I was hoping you'd come talk to me before leaving.'

    For once in Obi-Wan Kenobi's life, the right words elude him. He hesitates, torn. At first silence had been the easiest, but somewhere along the way, it has become the default. Now it feels like there is too much that he would need to say to explain himself, to convince or persuade.
    He forces himself to speak, wrenching the words from his paralysed throat, even if he won't answer the unspoken questions.

    'You wouldn't believe me Mace.'

    Hurt ripples over his old friend's face. 'You can't know that. Not until you try.'

    Obi-Wan wants to scream.

    He wishes he had a teacup to throw, to chase away this friend before he can pain him further, or himself.

    'There's... Something I need to do, I–'

    Mace stops him with his signature hold on gesture, the same wave of the hand that has interrupted many a Council argument.

    'I'm not interested in justifications. I'm simply concerned for you, Obi-Wan. Just the other day, I was lecturing your former padawan on trust and faith. I know better than to try that with you, but I wish you would trust me. I wish I knew what to do, to make you trust us again. I still believe in you. I believe you can come back, that you can master dark and light both.'

    'Hah!' Obi-Wan lets out a raspy chuckle at that. 'Would you try to sell a spiritual form of Vaapaad to the Council for me? Good luck.'

    Mace puts his hand down on his shoulder, firm even as Obi-Wan tries to shirk away from the touch.

    'I don't want to stop you from going where you see fit. You're not a prisoner here. But you reek of rage. You feel... You feel two twisted maxims away from a Sith. What can you do, in that state of mind, that won't make your situation worse?'

    'My situation could hardly be any worse, but I'm doing the will of the force.'

    'By seeking out revenge?'

    'What makes you think that’s what I’m doing?'

    'Now you insult my intelligence.'

    They exchange guarded smiles, the situation too grim for anything more.

    'Vengeance,' Mace continues, serious face back on, 'even in the name of many, is still not justice.'

    'My friend, we lost the privilege of making righteous truisms when we lost the war.'

    'Oh? And when did that happen? I must have missed a briefing.'

    'When we picked up the banners,' Obi-Wan says, 'when we accepted to fight.'

    He thinks of the GAR, of the countless identical faces of his men, turning to him like flowers to the sun, awaiting his orders. Of intel coming in, from the Chancellor's office, strings being jerked, pulling them towards a doom he can barely fathom.
    He thinks of Dooku, his grandmaster, warning him of Sidious and his hold in the Senate all the way back on Geonosis, offering an alliance Obi-Wan is years too late to accept.
    If only, he thinks. If only...

    'We lost a long time ago, but this thing I must do... Maybe it'll temper the loss. I don't need anyone to call it justice.'

    'And must you do it alone?'

    To that Obi-Wan offers nothing but stubborn silence, and Mace sighs, resigned.

    'Here. I figure you'll need this.'

    'I–' He looks down at his lightsaber, shocked, words fleeing from his grasp again.

    Obi-Wan's eyes sting as he curls his fingers around the hilt of his weapon. A Jedi's only true belonging. A sliver of his soul, returned to him once more.

    He takes a step away from Mace, then another, hesitant, wondering if the Master of the Order will override the friend and try to stop him. But Mace simply stands there, looking stern, arms crossed behind his back, watching him retreat to the intersecting corridors.

    Obi-Wan looks down the path to his left, to the landing pads, so close now. He turns around one last time, asks the question that burns on his lips.

    'Why?'

    'Like I said. I have faith in you. Now go, and don't make me regret this.'

    Obi-Wan gives Mace something between a nod and a bow, packed with gratitude and relief, eyes brimming with tears. He’s just a fallen knight from a failing Order, and yet that some would still have faith in him...

    He runs, and in his heaving chest the ember of hope rekindles.

    END
    ———

    And that's it! No fight scene, no strongly cut decisions. You can make up your mind as to how it goes.