The force regards the sweeping expanse of time and space, and the millennia long inhales and exhales of all life. There is no death, no true death in the way mortal life forms regard the concept, for while the heart may cease its beating, and the organic makeup which houses the spirit may rot, matter cannot be destroyed. Life never ceases to be in entirety, only reshapes itself and rebirths, stars and galaxies made up of the uncountable many which came before it.
But one life in particular draws the attention of the cosmic force, one Anakin Skywalker. His brief supernova of lifeforce holds the potential to shape fate for an entire galaxy, trillions of years from the birth of existence itself, far ahead in the future of the world. And yet Skywalker’s actions have already taken place, trillions of years in the past, for the galaxy’s very survival is a butterfly effect which began with the Jedi’s first breath, many eons ago in the world’s history. And also yet, the force regards Skywalker’s passion and pain as it exists now, for the young man still lives and breathes in his youth.
And he is brimming with passion and pain, bleeding red and vibrant through the fibers of the cosmos, so brightly the foundations of reality could not ignore it. Only a handful of other lifeforms could ever comprehend this degree of emotion, of connection to the force and energies of life around him. The Jedi which will serve, and do serve, and which have served the force are wrong in their comprehension of it. They tell the young Skywalker that his love and pain are weak, that they will lead to the corruption of his soul to follow only the dark aspect of its entirety. But the Jedi are themselves incomplete, their souls only filled with its light half, bringing imbalance to the cosmic stasis.
The force would remedy this, did remedy it, and is remedying it now. For Skywalker’s soul cries out because of its imbalance, and perhaps of equal importance, the mortal’s fragile heart cries out for companionship, for compassion, for understanding, for family, and for love. The answer is a simple one, in the form of the other life form, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Although his essence shines with less strength than Skywalker’s, his soul, unlike the other Jedi, is perfectly balanced. He is the balance, the other half, the completion to Skywalker’s soul, a perfect dyad in the force.
But while Kenobi is a simple answer, the force also sees the difficulty of the pair coming together in balance. The foundations of the galaxy they exist in pull at them, threatening to intervene in their unity. But this is also a simple problem, for the force is far greater than the foundations of a single galaxy, for it is the foundation of all. So the force enacts its will, to bridge the pair over a span of moments, of years, of eternities, and Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi will fall in love, have fallen in love, and are falling in love.
But first, the force decides, the story must begin with snow.
“Kriffing hell,” Anakin gasped.
His feet pumped under him, boots crunching through the hardened shell of frozen surface ice to sink into knee deep snow beneath. Sharp whirls of wind, carrying the thick fall of ripened, fat snowflakes buffeted against him and he gasped against the forced air. His eyes watered in protest to the sharp cold, but through his swimming vision he pelted after the silhouette of Master Obi-Wan running through the gales. Against the fading light of the setting purple sun the snow looked to him like the stars racing past at light-speed.
From behind him came a wailing screech, the sound much closer than a minute before. Anakin yelped and leaned forward into the wind, willing his legs to carry him through the snow faster. Smudged in the distance rose the shadow of a barren and twisted tree, its roots roping down a jagged rock outcropping. Obi-Wan slid to his knees and then disappeared amongst snow and roots. Like most near death moments with his master, Anakin followed without question and felt the ground fall beneath his feet. He tucked his knees and slid, the hard line of his shoulders and elbows rolling through half frozen soil and the grabbing fingers of the trees’ roots.
He finally crashed to a stop, head bouncing off Obi-Wan’s lightsaber hilt, gravel and dirt washing around their tumultuous heap like an afterthought. They both gasped for a moment, blinking at the earthen ceiling above them, and then Anakin rolled to his hands and knees and groaned.
“What in the seven sith’s hells was that?”
Obi-Wan sat and hissed, rolling a shoulder. “Haven’t a clue, but I doubt we’ll be getting out of here until morning.”
Anakin regarded their little frozen burrow. “If we don’t freeze to death before then, I only have enough anthracite to burn for a few hours.”
Obi-Wan rummaged through his satchel and sighed. “My canister is half full, it may be enough till morning.”
Anakin crossed his arms and glowered, sitting in a miserable, still half dirt covered heap. “Should have known the fuel base would be abandoned this far out. This force forsaken moon is nothing but ice and something that wants to pick its teeth with my spinal column.”
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “If you had listened to me and not gone outside the base we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Anakin pursed his cracked lips and glowered under furrowed eyebrows. At sixteen his features were still softened by baby fat. The roundedness of his always petulant mouth and long lashed eyes gave him a more feminine look than he liked. When he was angry, like now, he only ever felt Obi-Wan’s annoyance or amusement through their strained master/padawan bond. Obi-Wan told him often, when he attempted to glower, he looked like a pouting youngling, which only made him glower all the more.
“I told you, I felt something in the force.”
Obi-Wan didn’t argue. Even at so young an age, and despite Anakin’s outward teenage cavalierness and aloofness towards the entire galaxy, his master especially, his padawan never spoke of the force lightly. Perhaps because Anakin felt it so much more acutely than the other Jedi, or perhaps because he felt more in general, but the force often whispered to him. Although their training bond felt strained and either tightly wound or shuttered closed most days since Anakin hit puberty, Obi-Wan felt Anakin’s awareness of the force and the sheer emotional strength of which he reacted to it.
Obi-Wan nearly always questioned Anakin’s idiotic decisions, but he did not question his force led intuitions. So he did not question him now, even though they sat in a frozen hole after outrunning some Bahryn creature, miles from their ship and the abandoned fuel base. While he could not see why the force led them here, he also could not tell his padawan, who already felt so isolated and mistrusted, that the callings he felt through the force were wrong.
“So you did,” said Obi-Wan. “We shall have to trust in the force.”
The bond bloomed between them and Obi-Wan’s head swam with the strength of Anakin’s gratefulness he pushed through the force. Any emotion Anakin revealed through their bond shone with the same brilliant strength, but Anakin had taken to sharing his emotion less and less, keeping the writhing maul of his passion locked away for only himself. Obi-Wan could not tell him, as it reeked of bias and attachment, but he cherished every vulnerable moment Anakin had allowed in the past couple years, hoarding away the rare memories of shared gratefulness, kinship, and comradery between them. It soothed his own unhappiness and despair when he floundered in his teachings, when Anakin’s stubbornness and rebellion threatened the code and order they lived by.
Anakin further offered a tremulous smile, casting his eyes away in embarrassment though the bond still sang with gratitude. A last gleam of twilight through the small burrow entrance above them caught Anakin in its path. Obi-Wan frowned at him.
Anakin prodded at his temple, fingers coming away smudged dark. “Got the wrong end of your saber, or the right end I suppose.” He grinned.
Obi-Wan dug through his satchel. “A bacta patch for you then my padawan. We’ll start burning the fuel when we can’t take the cold anymore, and as a special treat, I have the feast of a ration bar for us to split.”
Anakin groaned. “If it’s that Stewjon cocoa flavored bantha shit you love I’d rather starve.”
An hour later they sat opposite of one another with their legs crossed and knees pressed together. Between them Obi-Wan suspended the burning anthracite canister. The weak golden light flickered across both their faces and cast sputtering shadows on the earthen walls.
Anakin sat hunched, gloved hands tucked under his armpits and teeth chattering. Every few moments his muscles seized, and he’d lock still before shuddering violently. Obi-wan fared little better, but at twenty-six he benefited from far more muscle than his rail thin padawan, who had shot up another couple inches in the past year and consisted of nothing but teenage boy sinew and limbs.
“I’m going to kriff—kriffing freeze to death out here,” Anakin muttered.
“Now now,” said Obi-Wan mildly. “I’m sure the force is reserving a far worse death for the chosen one.
Anakin shuddered again and folded his head and shoulders into the space of his crossed legs. He radiated misery through their bond, and the force seemed to writhe unhappily because of it.Obi-Wan sighed and pushed himself to sit with his back against earth. The canister bobbed through the air to follow him. Anakin raised his head with a frown, a question curling through the bond.
Obi-Wan opened his arms. “Here, padawan.”
For a moment his jaw set obstinately, but his entire frame shuddered, and he fell back to curl himself against Obi-Wan’s chest, knees tucked under his chin and head bowed to make himself as compact as possible. He wrapped his arms around Anakin, and they shivered in silence for a few moments.
Anakin muttered, “If you tell anyone about this, I’ll throw myself off the roof of the temple.”
Amusement burst through the bond so simultaneous neither of the pair could distinguish whose emotion belonged to who.
“I’ll be sure to tell Master Yoda of your cuddling humiliation the moment we’re planet side,” said Obi-Wan dryly.
Anakin sniggered though quieted as he continued to shake in Obi-Wan’s arms. He tightened his hold and laid his head to rest on the padawan’s head, tufts of spiky hair tickling his cheek.
“I’m sorry, master.”
“For what, little one?” He grimaced at the slippage of the years old and long dead endearment.
“For not listening and getting us stuck here, for never listening really.”
Obi-Wan frowned. “I know you’re cold, but you can’t possibly think you’re dying right now, Anakin.”
Anakin barked out a laugh. “I don’t think I’m dying, master. I’m just trying to apologize.”
Obi-Wan’s frown deepened. “Anakin, in the seven years I have been your master, you have never once apologized for not listening.”
Outwardly Anakin silently shivered, but through their bond he tentatively lowered his mental shields and offered out something more heartfelt, something more real.
I’m sorry. He said.
But more than the mental words pressed forward carefully, he also offered his secretly walled in feelings, preciously tucked away and kept safe. While every emotion Anakin felt always shone blindingly bright, and usually felt violent to experience, these emotions were pressed through the bond with gentle hands. Imprinted into the emotions themselves were their thousands of mental ties and associations.
Anakin offered him remorse and guilt and written into the little tangles of sorrow were other ties and impressions. Guilt for Qui-Gon’s death, for every moment he let his temper shape his words.
Apology for ignoring Obi-Wan’s orders again and again, but also apology for letting the last years come between them. Intertwined with this rode the brief sentiment of sorrow, that their relationship had drifted, when Anakin lived in constant fear of losing him and when their bond and relationship seemed the center of his world. Obi-Wan also recognized these last lightning fast thoughts as an unintentional and unrealized transference of information.
Anakin continued to shake, though his curled-up knees offered the smallest sense of protection against the vulnerability of opening himself to Obi-Wan through the bond. He offered one final emotional boon, pressed carefully into Obi-Wan’s mental open palms, repentance. I am so sorry, he thought, for not being a better padawan, for not being the Jedi he should be.
Obi-Wan squeezed his arms so tightly Anakin gasped, pressing him into his chest, and then he kissed the top of his padawan’s head.
"You are not a bad padawan, Anakin, and you are certainly not a bad Jedi.”
Tears gathered in Anakin’s eyes and he blinked rapidly, willing them away. “I am though. I’m just so angry all the time and all of the council’s stupid rules are so unfair. But you—you’re the perfect Jedi. You follow the code, the rules of the council, you’re so at peace with the force, so in control. I’m not like you, master.”
“Force,” breathed Obi-Wan. “Is that what you think of me?”
He placed his open palm on the top of Anakin’s head and tilted his face away from its tucked and hidden position in his robes. His eyes remained lowered, not wanting Obi-Wan to see the tears, the weakness in his eyes.
“Anakin look at me.”
He did, embarrassment furling between them through the force.
“I am not the Jedi, nor the man you think I am. I was just as willful a padawan, with as much disregard for the council’s rules as you. Qui-Gon chose me as an apprentice for a reason. How many missions do you think we fulfilled which disregard or twisted the will of the council?”
Anakin’s mouth curled. “You’re awfully strait laced to go against the council.”
Obi-Wan tousled Anakin’s head in exasperation. “Because I was going to lose you, padawan.”
Anakin froze, dangerous words he knew and feared well and that he certainly never expected to hear from his master.
“Anakin I was so very much like you when I first became a knight. Nineteen is very young to be knighted, too young really, but I was the first Jedi in a thousand years to kill a Sith, what else could the council do? I was certainly too young to be a master, and I was angry and rash and prideful. The council told me that if I didn’t shape up, they would—that they would take you away from me.”
Anakin blinked at his master, utterly dumfounded and tears now forgotten. He felt like the galaxy were cracked open and made new. “They tried to take me away?”
Obi-Wan let go of Anakin’s head and pulled him back into his arms, re-tucking him against his chest as he shivered. “No, but they told me if I ever put a toe out of line again that you would no longer be my padawan. Anakin, I am strict with you because I do not wish to lose you, and I would see you become a better man than me. We both know you will be a better Jedi.”
Anakin scoffed. “I don’t know why they call me the chosen one, you are the best of the Jedi, master. You are a great mentor; as wise as Master Yoda, and as powerful as Master Windu.”
Now Obi-Wan scoffed.
“It’s true, master. Maybe you should relearn some of that pride,” Anakin said slyly.
Obi-Wan cuffed his head and they shivered in silence, the quiet huffs of their breathing and the intermittent crackling of the fuel the only sounds to fill the sill emptiness of the icy burrow.
“Why did you never tell me?” Anakin asked suddenly. He thought of the many years which had spanned between them, misunderstood and strained because it always felt like Obi-Wan took the council’s side. Especially the last two years, which left nothing but aching loneliness and isolation in the force’s memory and felt like nothing but him against the world.
“Because I was and am afraid. It is shameful, Anakin, and not the Jedi way.”
Anakin could feel him release a sudden burst of shame and despair into the force.
“I am so very afraid of losing you. Fear can only lead to the dark side, and more than fear, it speaks of my attachment to you.”
Anakin’s heart seemed to suddenly ache, sweetly and piercingly. He uncurled a gloved hand from its cocooned warmth to clasp it over Obi-Wan’s.
“Master, all I have ever wanted, is to be worthy to be your friend.”
No not friend, while certainly true, the word ill fit the much greater definition of importance Obi-Wan meant to him. Master befitted the council’s regimented structure of mentor and apprentice, unattached and unemotional, and while he certainly flung the word at Obi-Wan as an endearment, it too lacked the definition. Brother settled wrong, not because of his deepest and most secreted thoughts, of Obi-Wan’s bare shoulders in saber practice or the sharp blue of his eyes, but maybe because of its invoking of the word soldier with it. Brother in arms, the closest Jedi came to expressing affection for one another. Partner perhaps came closest to what Anakin yearned for, a kinship, a unity of equals.
But none of these could truly match the ineffable and tantamount centrality of Obi-Wan in his life. Without his master he felt lost in the chaos of the cosmic force, truly alone in the universe. But that wasn’t true was it? Not with the whispered directions of the force, like the one which led them to their current predicament.
Obi-Wan made a pained sound, squeezing his hand. “You are my friend.”
“Not really, not yet.”
Obi-Wan made another noise of protest.
Anakin laughed. “It’s alright, master. You have always been, and you always be my family, no matter what the council says.”
Obi-Wan had no words to offer in response, so they fell into silence, shivering and wrapped around each other for warmth. Anakin somehow managed to fall into a doze, lulled into dreams by the rhythmic hissing and popping of the fuel burning, and rise and fall of Obi-Wan’s chest against his cheek. He woke as the first breaking of the purpled dawn cast lavender light beams though the burrow’s entrance. He yawned, jaw cracking, and came aware of the cold sweat soaking his tunic, and that the dirt beneath them had frozen solid during the night.
The anthracite canister no longer burned, though smoke curled from it, evidence it had only recently burnt out. Obi-Wan shifted under him, uncurling the still tight grip of his arms. The bond went taught between them, both pulling the force in the same moment to curl identical questions through their connection. Are you alright? Through the years, moments of perfectly enacted unity played out often between them. It always made their bond sing, thrumming like a plucked string. Anakin didn’t know if their synchrony was the norm for master/padawan pairs, the force bond creating harmony and a feedback loop of perfectly aligned emotions and actions, or if he and his master were just really that similar.
Obi-Wan voiced his concern aloud, enforcing the wordless query. “Sleep well, padawan?”
Anakin rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, though when he met his master’s eyes they only glinted back mischievously, though darkened by bruised circles.
“Sorry, master. Did you not sleep at all?”
Obi-Wan knocked out the ash from the fuel canister and stowed it away in his satchel. “No but I’m perfectly alright. I’ll be even better when we get back to our ship.”
Anakin watched his master pull himself through the burrow’s entrance, loose dirt and pebbles raining beneath him. He scrambled after him, emerging into fresh air so sharply cold it stole the breath from his lungs. He gasped out, wrapping his arms around himself. They looked out across the snow-covered planes, ice crystals glinting indigo under the sunrise.
“How is your head?”
“Fine, bacta did its job.”
"And how does the force feel, anymore whispers?” Asked Obi-Wan.
Anakin felt a deep surge of devotion and affection well up in him for his master. These types of feelings made the other Jedi, not just deeply uncomfortable, but upset, and he was long used to boxing them away to hide how deeply he felt. But Obi-Wan proved the night before, he was not like the other Jedi, but better. Anakin opened himself to the bond, releasing his affection.
Obi-Wan startled, nearly bowled over by the sudden intimate onslaught. But he immediately responded with his own surge of affection, and gratefulness for Anakin’s willing vulnerability through their bond after so many years of walls and barriers.
Anakin took a deep breath of cutting air and opened himself to the wider living force around them, searching out the whispers which led them astray yesterday.
“What?” Obi-Wan questioned his padawan’s pleased expression.
“The force feels balanced.” He closed his eyes and tilted his face to the violet sun. “I feel peaceful, grounded.” He opened his eyes to smile at his master. “I don’t feel the pull of the dark side at all right now, do you think it’s the moon, master?”
Obi-Wan’s eyes softened. “No Anakin, it’s just you.”