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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.

“You’re bleeding.”

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.

“Ha-kriffing-ha.”

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.”

Chapter Text

The force looked to the lifespan of Anakin Skywalker, a blink in the stretch of time, but also a stretch of three billion heartbeats, each pump and surge of blood echoing and lingering for an eternity through the matter of the universe. While the cosmic force did not feel pleasure, a mortal emotion born from chemicals and electrical pulses, it did revel in equilibrium and balance. Anakin Skywalker had found balance and brought balance to the galaxy around him. And yet, the force looked closer, for Skywalker had not found balance yet, yes that was to come, for the force still worked to bridge the bonds of the dyad.

But the force was patient, and it recognized that the youthfulness of Skywalker which had already transitioned into old age and the passing of star dust, and the cells of his body which it had not yet created, and the living force which breathed in him during this very moment, held the padawan and his master apart. The mortals lived by societal rules, implemented by the structures all living things sought in the greater universe. While such frameworks were the inventions of lifeforms, the force understood them, in their birth, prime, and death, for the very concept of invention was born from itself.

Although the pillars in the dyad moved closer in axis, master and apprentice still kept each other at arm’s length. The force noted with displeasure, that young Skywalker still hid the dark aspect of the force’s nature which had called to him, did call to him, and would call to him, from his master’s knowledge. While Kenobi would, and had, and does live and breathe in perfect balance, Skywalker believed him to uphold the same imbalance of light the other Jedi existed in. Skywalker feared the siren’s song of the force’s balance, of the longing in his own soul to commune with the light and the dark. But fear was not within the will of the force, even as it recognized the necessity of its existence within the lifeforms it designed.

Fear would, and did, and had lived on in Skywalker, but the force looked closer at the mortal’s heart and understood that the fear was more deeply born from his terror at failing and losing his soulmate, his other half of the dyad, than any fear he felt towards the melody of the dark within himself.

Well, the force decided, it would resolve this problem, and did resolve it, and is resolving it now.
________________________________________
Obi-Wan stood silent and posed casually against the wooden wall of the sparring ring. To any of the onlookers he appeared a languid drape of limbs, but any closer inspection revealed clenched white knuckles and the taught line of the tendon in his neck. In the sparring ring Anakin pivoted sharply, stirring up dust under his boots, and swung the thick blade of a double-handed sword to parry his opponent’s bone rattling downward swing.

The Yuuzhan Vong, with his scarred face and sagging eye sockets, bared his teeth in a snarl. The other Yuuzhan Vongs encircling the ring bared their own teeth in answering laughs, and Obi-Wan dug his fingers into his sides. Under any other circumstance Anakin thrown into a sparring ring would incite little reaction from him beyond a brief sympathy for his padawan’s opponent. But in this ring Anakin wielded a metal blade instead of his saber, and while he stood only a couple years’ practice away from being the best fighter of Djem So to ever live, he had never fought with a metal sword before.

But even having never battled with a traditional blade, Anakin still fought beautifully, the force guiding his long drilled and disciplined movements. To the other viewers, he dueled like a true master, one of the best in the galaxy’s history. But Obi-Wan felt Anakin’s strain in the force, the quivering of his arm muscles from fighting so long with the heavy weight of the sword against the brutally strong strikes of the Yuuzhan Vong. He also felt the sweat slicking Anakin’s fist around his blade’s handle, and the way his under tunic plastered to the small of his back from the heat and damp.

The strength of their bond, wound tight and visceral, should have worried him in moments like these, when both of their mental guards were lowered from shared stress or fear. But since their marooning on Bahryn a year before, neither of them could bare the emotional distance of before. Perhaps the other Jedi would condemn how tangled their bond and force signatures were becoming, but Obi-Wan could not be bothered when the only result of their openness was the newfound durasteel strength veining through Anakin’s psyche.

The Yuuzhan Vongs on the other hand, completely lacked force signatures, and Obi-Wan felt as if trying to see the sucked in light of a black hole might prove more successful. Their species were completely unable to be sensed in the force, and he felt Anakin’s anxiety through their bond at his inability to read the intentions of his opponent beyond the physical.

Anakin in turn, while primarily focused on the enemy at hand, could also feel Obi-Wan’s worry from his periphery, wavering through the force. It battered at the edge of his mind, distracting and equally as insulting. He kept his annoyance tucked away from his master’s sights, a skill he had vastly improved in the past year or so, leaving himself open to Obi-Wan, while also keeping the violence and biting edge of his mercurial emotions hidden so as not to aggravate their tenuous and newly settled relationship.

He parried a particularly brutal clash of blades and Obi-Wan felt the rattle in his own teeth even as Anakin absorbed the shock into his aching knees, then spun and ducked to direct a viper quick strike at the Yuuzhan Vong’s calves. The Vong hissed and kicked a cloud of dirt into Anakin’s face, who tumbled back to fall on his elbows, legs splayed out and sword dropped to his side. The match would be ceded in victory to the Yuuzhan Vong warrior. Anakin had fought long and hard and with honor, all crucial components for good footing in the trade negotiations they were sent to fulfill on behalf of the Senate.

But a cold chill shot down his spine as the force went cold and staticky in warning, and before he could draw his sword from the dirt the warrior hurled his full strength into the widely arched swing of his blade. Fear surged through the force, though it did not come from Anakin. The Yuuzhan Vong brought the pommel of his sword against the back of Anakin’s skull with a gut turning crack and he dropped to the dirt, his force signature and side of the bond flaring in pain before falling shrouded and muffled, as if stuffed under wool.

“Anakin!”

Obi-Wan lept the sparring ring wall and fell to his knees by Anakin’s side, scooping his padawan into his arms and frantically reaching out through the force to find the extent of the wound. Anakin’s head lolled back, exposing the stretched length of his pale throat and his braid swayed through the air with the movement. The sand by Obi-Wan’s knees glistened wet and shockingly red and he gently cupped his hand to the back of Anakin’s head. Their bond twisted in pain at the action, though he could feel nothing more concrete through the force beyond muted unconsciousness and throbbing hurt. He lifted his head to the Yuuzhan Vong warrior watching the spectacle with dispassionate eyes.

“Get me a healer,” he spit through gritted teeth.
________________________________________
Anakin pried open his eyes, which felt horribly gritty and heavy. He blinked against bright artificial light, which stirred a deep ache behind his sockets and at the base of his skull. He licked dry lips which felt gummy and thick, dead skin sticky and catching at the seam of his mouth.

A voice from his left sighed. “You had me incredibly worried, Anakin.”

“I need water,” he croaked.

A plastasteel straw prodded at his mouth and he sucked down several desperate gulps before focusing on the man holding the cup for him. He smiled from under a short red beard and he wore his darker auburn hair long and tucked behind his ears, well-kept and dignified. But beneath the facial hair his light blue eyes betrayed his youthfulness. He wore a cream tunic, belted and folded beneath traditional Jedi robes. So not a healer then. He let the straw drop from his mouth and the man moved the cup to the bedside table.

“I’m—I’m confused. Where am I?”

The man leaned forward and petted Anakin’s head for a moment, ghosting fingertips against his temple. He went stiff with discomfort, shoulders pulling up to his ears. The man noticed and quickly withdrew his hand, though he wore an odd expression as he did.

“The temple. The Yuuzhan Vong’s technology is incredibly primitive and I felt their medical facilities were in no way equipped to help you.” He paused to frown and stroke his beard. “Which they did not, though your internal bleeding was less than I feared. I don’t want you to fret, Anakin, that disgrace of a Vong Warrior is being dealt with, and this won’t negatively impact the trade agreements, so you can rest easy, you did not fail.”

Anakin blinked slowly and cautiously reached out through the force, though quickly retreated the questioning tendrils at the spike of pain which lanced through his head. He rubbed at his eyes and squinted at the man. “I’m sorry—I don’t—I don’t know what’s going on. Who are you?”

Even though he had just pulled into himself, shying from the force and the pain, a biting wave of panic and shock crashed over him, driving the breath from his lungs. He dug his hands into the bed and gasped, only realizing after a lagging moment that the fear and horror washing around him were not his own.

Even though he could feel the man’s torrid emotions, he stood smoothly with a placid expression. “I’ll find the healer then.”

Anakin blinked after him and breathed heavily, his panting echoing loudly into the stillness of the room. The force roiled around him, though he could no longer discern if the discomfort stemmed from himself or the man whose emotions he could feel through the force. He returned a handful of minutes later, a Twi’lek in healers robes close behind him.

She pressed rosy pink fingers against his cheekbones, and he winced against the brush of her force signature against his, head throbbing with the thudding of his pulse in his ears.

“Can you tell me your name?” She asked.

“Anakin Skywalker,” the name slipped from his mouth though he felt no deep connection to it.

“Can you tell me who you are, what you do?”

“I’m a Jedi—” He stumbled over the words, and he squinted, the answer feeling wrong. “I think I’m a Jedi? I’m a pada—” His lips felt numb and the words slippery and hard to pronounce, like an alien dialect he had heard but did not speak fluently. “I think I’m a padawan.”

The man, the Jedi, behind the Twi’lek healer made a breathy noise of distress. Anakin glanced to him and felt anxiety, his own and not his own, pull taught between them.

“What is the last thing you remember?” She asked.

His vision swam the harder he though about it and his stomach turned over from nausea as his head rushed with dizziness even though he sat perfectly still.

“I don’t know,” he said. Panic clawed its way up his throat, and he swallowed down the sudden feeling of claustrophobia, his force signature choking on the sense of being trapped in the broken-down machine of his body. The auburn-haired man pushed serenity to him through the force, though Anakin could feel the man felt none of it himself.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know who you are.”

The Twi’lek prodded at the back of his jaw now, at the juncture under his ear where skull met neck. “He is Obi-Wan Kenobi, your Jedi master.”

For some reason he could not name, tears sprang to his eyes and he shrank from the man, shrank from the word master though his mind made no further connection than bad and wrong.

“My master?” He asked.

Although the man’s, Obi-Wan’s, face had remained mostly impartial until now, devastation seemed to break across his features and he sat on the bedside, crowding close to Anakin.

“Not in the way you are thinking, young one. You are no slave and I am no slave master. You are my padawan, my apprentice. I am your teacher.”

Anakin scrunched his brow and fought against the cotton crammed inside his head, making the connection of facts and thoughts sluggish and difficult. Behind the curtain of his own bruised thoughts and the curling protection of the force, he could still feel the Twi’lek’s probing force signature, methodically brushing against the corners of his kaleidoscopic and dizzying mental scape.

“You’re my friend,” he tested the words uncertainly.

Obi-Wan crowded even closer and wrapped his hands around Anakin’s fingers to squeeze them uncomfortably tight. Every iota of self-control and mastery of his emotions, both inward and outward, wavered in this moment. In all the years of his and Anakin’s relationship, even during the darkest moments of purposeful hurt, when he wondered if Anakin would leave the order and abandon the Jedi because he could not bare the creed and dogma, the thought had never crossed his mind that one day he would have to face his padawan not knowing him.

Years of teaching, laughter, conspiratorial mischief, endless support and encouragement and shared love and pain, all so easily gone with the swing of a blade. He had never for a moment considered their bond to be so easily broken, for their years to so easily be taken away.

“Yes,” Obi-Wan squeezed Anakin’s fingers like a vice before making himself relax his hold. “Yes, you are my friend. And my brother too.”

Anakin made a face at that, and Obi-Wan released his hurt into the force before his injured emotions could bleed through their connection.

“That doesn’t feel right,” he said, his young features twisting into a confounded and repulsed grimace. “We’re brothers?”

He did not understand why the concept aggravated his padawan so, and he released another bout of injury to the force, though it did not seem to help. “Not by blood, but we are brother in arms as Jedi. You are my force brother.”

The Twi’lek healer cleared her throat and pulled her fingers and force signature away from Anakin, although he had all but forgotten her presence beside him.

“You have post-traumatic amnesia from your brain bleed, which is not terribly surprising.”

Anakin blinked at her, eyes achingly childlike and wide in fear. “Is it permanent?”

“Almost certainly not,” she consoled. “You seem to be remembering this conversation rather well, which points to retrograde amnesia. It is, however, unusual that you are struggling with long term memory, especially with your force fortified bond with Obi-Wan.”

Master and padawan made identical noises of distress and unconsciously reached for each other’s hands.

“How long will it take him to recover?” Asked Obi-Wan.

The Twi’lek shrugged. “A day, a month, brain injuries and memory loss vary by extremes. We will keep him here for observation for a standard rotation to keep a watch on his short-term memory retention, but the force does not feel a permanent disturbance. He will heal Master Obi-Wan.”

Obi-Wan looked to Anakin’s wide eyes and a surge of primal protectiveness spilled from him into their bond, inky and thick with its potency. Anakin’s lips parted and his eyes clouded, dazed by the strength of it.

“Trust in the force, Anakin. Everything will be alright.”

A standard rotation later and Obi-Wan fought to believe his own words. Anakin stood in the doorway of their shared quarters, eyes lost and drifting to take in the spartan space, though no recognition shone in the force or through his expression.

“Tea, padawan?”

“Sure,” he answered, and folded himself onto a meditation mat, legs crossed.

He had not breathed the word master since he woke, and Obi-Wan could not help but notice the awkward empty hole in Anakin’s speech pattern where he had never noticed the word appearing so often or taking up so much space in his syntax. His responses sounded off rhythm, less lyrical and teasing where before his sentences were full of “sure master” or “no of course not master” in his soft and musical way of speaking which always managed to surprise Obi-Wan with its gentleness. Anakin’s classically delicate features and melodic voice had never matched the supernova of his force signature, or the fiery hell storm of his personality.

“The council would like to meet with us soon to review our mission, and to examine your memory loss themselves,” he called from the kitchen.

Anakin harrumphed from the other room as Obi-Wan ground tea leaves while the water began to boil. Out of habit, he flicked a spark of affection towards Anakin at the sound, long suffering amusement surfacing at his padawan’s distaste with any dealings with the Jedi high council. A beat later and he grimaced at the action, though Anakin only curled an answering affection back to him, hazy without intent, though automatically given without knowing why.

He poured hot, though not boiling water over the delicate white tea leaves and carefully carried the two ceramic cups into their shared living space. Anakin reached up for his mug, appearing like a prodding youngling tugging at his master’s robes for a moment. Tea received; he tucked the steaming cup against his chest to inhale the floral steam while Obi-Wan sat with his legs crossed on his own meditation mat. Anakin took a hesitant sip from his cup only to abruptly lower it, mouth pursed in befuddlement.

“This is my favorite isn’t it? But you don’t like white tea, you think it’s too dry and astringent,” he said accusingly.

Obi-Wan smiled and Anakin frowned at him for a moment before his expression cleared, understanding and joy blooming in the force between them.

“I did not realize you knew my distaste for it,” Obi-Wan admitted.

“How can I remember this, but I can’t remember how old I am?”

Anakin rubbed the back of his head where his skull still ached, tender to the touch despite the bacta and diligence of his Twi’lek healer.

“You are seventeen,” Obi-Wan offered kindly.

“Seventeen,” he muttered, now rubbing at the hinge of his jaw. In recent months his face had lengthened and narrowed, weight fluctuating to accommodate another growth spurt, though Obi-Wan could not fathom what he would do with him if he grew much taller. For now, he was all sharp edges, a man’s frame appearing in the width of his shoulders and length of his limbs, though most noticeably in the cartoonishly severe cut of his strong jaw and high cheekbones. The new severity in his emerging adult features was especially prominent when juxtaposed with his femininely full mouth and the way his dark under lashes made it appear as if he wore kohl around his eyes.

Anakin despised when others called him pretty, prideful in almost every other facet of himself except for his appearance. Obi-Wan often wondered if his years as a slave left unseen scars that Anakin never left open in the bond, his acute discomfort when others perceived him as attractive a primary example. He prided himself in his strength, in his body’s ability to perform masterful saber fighting, but never in conventional allure as most other attractive youths were want to do.

“Seventeen and shaping up to be a strong, good, and handsome young man,” he found himself prodding the sore point despite himself.

Anakin did not react in any way he anticipated though. He expected a grimace or grumble, possibly outright anger as he had in the past, especially when the female padawans loved to tease him and call him beautiful. But instead Anakin went bright red, and a surge of emotion zipped through the bond, too fast to identify beyond its white bright intensity.

He rubbed his face, eyes not meeting Obi-Wan’s as embarrassment made him feel overheated and flustered. He could not say why Obi-Wan’s words incited the reaction, not when any memories tied to the man were fleeting and difficult to recall. His memory loss, especially with Obi-Wan, felt like waking from a dream, the specifics escaped him, though the emotional ties and residue left their imprint.
The embarrassment also burned deep and hot in the pit of him, morphing into shame, because he knew in his heart of hearts he had been lying and keeping secrets locked away from the Jedi. He did not know if their relationship and force bond was as strong as Obi-Wan believed, how could it when Anakin felt the dark side of the force whispering to him? He may not remember, but he instinctively knows he has kept these anguishes to himself. He is not a good Jedi, and certainly not a good padawan to this kind man who leaves himself so open and vulnerable in their bond.

“I am not good, Obi-Wan,” he hung his head. “I may not remember, but there are so many secrets I have not told you, so many horrible things locked away inside myself.”

Obi-Wan startled, his worry and comfort wrapping around Anakin. “Anakin, not telling me every thought you have isn't keeping secrets from me. Privacy is not a luxury of the Jedi, but I do not resent your desire for it, especially with your upbringing.”

Anakin set his tea aside and wrapped his arms around his knees. “It’s not that,” he said dejectedly. “I can feel this dark hole inside myself that I know I have kept hidden from you, the constant call of the dark side. I have these—I know these feelings; they burn like a sun inside and I know I’ve lied to you about them. How have I been lying to you, when I can feel how good you are and when we have—this?” He gestured to the ethereal bond between them as his voice broke, tears gathering in his eyes.

“Anakin—” Obi-Wan took his hands in his and squeezed. “I know, I know, it’s alright.”

Anakin sobbed openly now, breath stuttering as panic and sorrow squeezed at his heart, though he could not remember why.

“Anakin, it’s alright, I know. I know it calls to you; I can feel it. I feel your struggle, your conflict, you’re really—padawan you’re a terrible liar.” He broke off with a laugh and Anakin chuckled wetly around his tears. “You have always abhorred untruth, from others and yourself, and I am sorry this has eaten at you. I kept silent to give you privacy, I never imagined you felt you were keeping it from me because you felt you had to.”

“I can’t remember, I can’t remember, but I know with every drop of the force in my body that I am so kriffing terrified of making you hate me—” He broke off, choking down the ache in his throat as more tears spilled openly down his ruddy cheeks.

Obi-Wan let go of his hands only to settle himself closer to Anakin, side by side on his meditation mat so that he could wrap his arms around him. Anakin collapsed into his embrace, weeping against the warmth of Obi-Wan’s neck.

“I could never hate you, Anakin Skywalker. You are—” He stumbled over the words, for the answer twining itself and whispering through the force was, you are my everything. But it unsettled him, felt wrong and as violently unstable as Anakin’s tidal wave of emotions on most days. It went against everything the Jedi code and order taught, went against everything he believed. He tucked away the automatic response and settled on a far safer and more appropriate answer.

“You are so very very important to me.”

Anakin shuddered against him and prodded against his mind, to be let deeper than surface level thoughts and emotions. Despite how open they kept their force connection; they so very rarely opened their minds to each other. It was deeply vulnerable and intimate, and afterwards Obi-Wan always felt ashamed with himself, for he knew the council would be livid with him if they knew he allowed it outside of life or death circumstances. But he opened himself anyway, instantly and without question.

His reward for the action so far outweighed the embarrassment of bearing himself to another living being. Love burrowed its way into his force signature, blossoming behind his eyes and under his ribs, such deep, unending and terrifyingly deep love, as bottomless and limitless as the universe itself. His mouth opened and shut, no sound spilling out, so breath taken he felt by the magnitude of which Anakin always managed to feel.

“I may not remember you, but I know you, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and I know what you mean to me.”

In the end they both collapsed into sleep on their shared couch, too emotionally tender and exhausted to willingly part ways. Obi-Wan woke with the first light of dawn shining through the temple window, a sunbeam catching dust motes in its path. He stretched, every muscle in his back and neck aching and tight, though he felt no regret as he regarded Anakin’s wadded up body. He had contorted himself into the most painful looking ball of limbs during the night and would most likely be a cantankerous wretch when he woke.

The gentle swell of Obi-Wan’s force signature lulled him to a syrupy slow wakefulness and he blinked tiredly against the morning’s weak light. They quietly regarded one another, Obi-Wan mentally fortifying himself to shoulder the quiet heartache of his padawan’s lack of memoires, and Anakin with a still hazy but resolute recognition.

Anakin’s eyes crinkled and mouth widened into a toothy grin. “Good morning, master,” he said.

Chapter Text

There was a disturbance in the force. Through the far reaches of the cosmos, across the multi-trillion interconnections of galaxies and never-ending cascade of stars, interdimensional pockets, black-holes, supernovas, and superclusters, came a rending scream of agony. The force does not feel surprise when it knows all that has been and all which will ever be. But the eternal echoes of grief and fury were so violent in their strength, perhaps the force startled. It looked closer, for it could be none other than Anakin Skywalker.

The young mortal’s mother is dead, and yet, she will not die for many millennia to come. But ahh—the force sees, for she died many millennia before, already scattered into stardust and reborn a thousand lives over. The son of the force, the chosen one, beloved of the stars, feels world rending devastation at her loss. And world rend he does, giving himself to the dark aspect of the force, enacting rage and despair and blind grief. The lifeforms around him blink out like the deaths of stars. But the fear inside of Anakin Skywalker is its own dying star.

Pain is not the will of the force, but much like fear, it is an elemental foundation of reality, much like ecstasy and love. Skywalker’s pain and fear are especially potent and visceral, a great beast of flame rearing its head inside of him. But the force sees all, and it looks to fault lines which spiderweb like spun shattered glass through the very core of itself, the silvery lines shimmering like dewdrops where they reach greedy tendrils into the keystone of the cosmic force. These fault lines, these shattered hairline fractures in reality itself, are the result of Anakin Skywalker. For though his grief and despair and welcoming of the inebriation of the dark aspect of itself are staggering in their strength; joy and peace are ever stronger.

The force looks to these shatter points and they are Skywalker’s rapture, his reality shifting love and euphoria and blissful joy. When the dyad is in equilibrium, in true unity, it brings balance to the universe, to the cosmic force itself. These shatter points are important, the happiness of Anakin Skywalker is important, it is—

– Another event horizon of pain. Anakin Skywalker is in agony again, but now, and in the past, and far in the future, it is physical pain. The mortal has lost a part of himself. He is now blood and bone, midichlorian and durasteel. Fear chews away at Skywalker’s insides. The mortal does not fear for himself. Unlike most lifeforms, and even unlike most of the other Jedi, despite what their doctrines dictate, he does not fear his own death, the living force within him understands the necessity of his own passing so it can be remade and reborn, again and again and again.

But the terror of losing those he loves gnaws at him, eating away a maul, a sunken pit of darkness inside him which devours all light and hope—
But Obi-Wan Kenobi is hope personified. He is faith, unending and brimming with balance and kindness and patience.

But war is coming to the galaxy, or rather the galaxy saw war long ago, and yet war has finally come. Heartbeats falter and millions upon millions of stars blink away to be remade anew, for there is no true death, no permanence to it, only the force. The greater matter of importance is that the young mortal’s attentions are being swayed by the ethereal beauty and grace of the young senator. But down that path of love only lies ruin. The force gentles the attentions of the senator away from its son. Her own brilliant lifeforce is much better suited to saving the entire galaxy in her own right, rather than in the shadows and second loved by a Jedi whose soul belongs to another.

The force must guide Anakin Skywalker, for these are dark and dangerous times. A storm cloud gathers, an unnatural accumulation of its dark aspect, brought on by the mortal who calls himself Darth Sidious. But the rebalance of the universe is a simple quest, one which must be fulfilled by the dyad, and so the force will give Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi a push, and yet it already has, and yet the will of the force will play out in many millennia to come.
________________________________________
“Rise Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight.”

Anakin raised his head, wide mouth pulled into a ginormous white grin, and rose to his feet. Obi-Wan gripped his shorn padawan braid and wore an answering bittersweet smile. Although Anakin’s shields were impenetrable, he radiated incandescent joy into the living force around them, shining bright and blinding in the room.

The council sat respectfully quiet around them, although they all exchanged quirked smiles and dancing eyes, partaking in the humming joy brimming through the force. Even Master Windu gazed at Anakin with a rare expression of fondness. This was a victorious moment, today the chosen one took his place as full Jedi knight in the order.

“Mmm-Knight Skywalker, the council speak with you, we shall,” said Master Yoda.

Anakin and Obi-Wan both turned in confusion to face the halfmoon of masters. Master Windu leaned forward in his seat, steepling his fingers.

“This is highly unorthodox to knight a padawan so young, but it seems we must push the unorthodoxy a little further today. Knight Skywalker, due to our desperate situation the council has decided to, along with your knighting, assign you as general to the 501st Clone legion. All of the hyperspace lanes have been seized by Separatist forces in the last standard week. You are being dispatched to retake the Rimma Trade Route in the Vondarc System. We must retake the hyperlanes or the Republic will lose the entire Outer Rim within a matter of months.”

Anakin stood ramrod straight with his shoulders pulled back, chin lifted-for once not in obstinance-but at military attention. Obi-Wan noted with a deep pang, which felt suspiciously like fear, that his now former padawan looked so very young. Barely eighteen and a Jedi knight, unheard of, but now a war general too?

“Am I being sent alone or is Master Obi-Wan being assigned with me, Master Windu? He asked.

It was Yoda who answered. “Another system Master Kenobi will go, his own clone legion he will have. The pair of you, to be sent out immediately hmm?”

“Of course, Master Yoda,” Anakin responded quickly.

“—Skywalker,” Master Windu began, “although the speed of your knighting and deployment goes against my better judgment—”

Anakin scowled for a moment before wiping his expression. Beneath his shields, through the underwater lifeline of their bond, Obi-Wan felt the coiling sensation of dislike and frustration, fat from years of feeding off the taste of resentment. Normally, Anakin shielded these sentiments with almost flawless talent; but his attentions were focused on the council, rather than his former master, and the dark side emotion carried the taste of black char through their bond.

“—the council does not want you to feel that your knighthood and deployment has only been rushed by necessity and is undeserved. You have already sacrificed much to war.” He glanced to Anakin’s gloved hand. “We do not send you away on your knighthood day callously. Please understand these orders in light of the trust the council is surrendering to the will of the force, that you are ready.”

Surprise, bright and tart as ripened fruit, burst through the force, furling further open to carry the sugary sweetness of shocked happiness. Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows at Master Windu, who only leveled a stern expression back which could be described as a glare. The council had resisted his entreaties for years, that Anakin responded far better to positive reinforcement than lecturing and chastisement. Master Windu always scoffed, hotly responding that he would not pander to Anakin’s childish pride. Strange times indeed.

“Thank you, Master Windu.” For the first time, Anakin’s words carried sincerity.

The council chamber sat quietly for a moment, a long inhale of paused time amidst the wider chaos which raged in the galaxy around them.

“Hmm—” said Master Yoda. “Leave now, you must.”

A curious feeling bubbled in the force then, roiling and torrid though Anakin held his shields clamped down so tightly Obi-Wan could not identify the emotion even through their bond. They both bowed and exited the council chamber to a chorus of ‘may the force be with you.’ The walk to their shared quarters felt unusually strained, reverberating with an off-kilter silence which was never the norm in their relationship. As they stepped into their shared living space, Obi-Wan realized he still gripped Anakin’s severed padawan braid in the sweaty choke hold of his hand and tucked it inside of his tunic.
Anakin hovered for a moment and then turned to catch Obi-Wan in his wide panicked gaze. He now understood the squirming and ever moving emotion Anakin so sought to keep under control in front of the council, blind panic.

“I didn’t expect for us to be split apart so soon.”

“Nor I,” said Obi-Wan. “But I know you will make an excellent leader of your troops, Anakin.”

“I—” Anakin looked utterly lost. Young, he still looked so young. “I have an embarrassing request, master.”

He could not find the heart to correct the title so soon. He could not be prouder of his former padawan, but the loss ached, deeply and unexpectedly. Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, playfully mocking.

“If you find it embarrassing, I can’t possibly imagine how shocking this might be. Should I sit down?”

Anakin flushed and broke eye contact to rub uncomfortably at his gloved durasteel hand. He hesitated long enough that Obi-Wan’s teasing now sat uncomfortable, the force between them pulled mutually taught but silent otherwise.

“I wasn’t expecting to leave so fast, I thought we would have more time to—to acclimate.”

He realized, with a sudden clarity, what Anakin hesitated to ask, but thought important enough to fight through his rarely felt mortification for.

“You don’t want to break our force bond,” he said.

Anakin’s face went tense, though he still kept a durasteel hold on his shields in an unusual act of emotional withdrawal.

“Just until we see each other again. I wouldn’t ask you to break the code, master, but this entire situation is very unusual and surely the council doesn’t expect us to just snap off our bond just like that and go racing to opposite sides of the galaxy to fight in a war by ourselves without the other by each other’s side for the first time and—”

“Anakin!” Obi-Wan seized him by the shoulders and shook him gently. “Calm down pada—” He trailed off and Anakin grinned at him before his brow furrowed, expression pulled back to seriousness.

“What can I say to convince you to go against the council on this?”

Obi-Wan withdrew his hold from Anakin’s shoulders, though he squeezed them fondly before letting go. “I do not need convincing. I do not believe the council would force a master and padawan to break their training bond so quickly and violently, only to send them away while still injured in the force. It can certainly wait, after all, we will see each other again very soon.”
________________________________________
Ten Months Later

Anakin paced the transporter bay, the force and his muscles coiled tight and ready to spring. If only the kriffing hunk of metal would move faster than an ambling Shaak. Rex leaned against the transporter inner docking doors, helmet tucked under one arm, and his eyebrows arched in befuddlement.

“You alright, general?”

“Fine,” he muttered.

Ten kriffing months on the backside of the outer rim, jumping from one force forsaken system to the next. As soon as the 501st managed to recapture a new trade route or hyperlane, the Separatists were always ten parsecs ahead, already wreaking havoc on an innocent third-class planet who was barely technologically capable of space travel. Ten months of war felt never ending, living through constant mud and blood and blaster fire.

He felt unfathomably old, as if he had lived a hundred lifetimes in the past months. He felt hardened, beaten down, wrung thin and gray and ragged. But the truth was, it could not entirely be blamed on the war. Leaving his former master on Coruscant felt like carving a hunk of his chest out to leave behind, and the past ten months the gaping chasm of the wound followed him in every waking moment. Across lightyears and parsecs and entire solar systems, their bond held on in the back of his mind by the most tenuous and gossamer thread.

In his weakest moments, in the dark of night sleeping in a bedroll on the battlefield while blaster fire lit the sky above, when he burned with such loneliness for his best friend that his throat ached with choked back tears; he worried at the thread of the bond like a child wiggled a sore, loose tooth. Push and pull, push and pull, he yanked and petted and thrashed and laved the spider silk line until sometimes, just before he sank into unconscious exhaustion, Obi-Wan tugged back from 190 trillion lightyears away.

In his even darker moments, when the black hole inside him threatened to swallow everything whole, alone under the turning wheel of stars, he gripped and worked himself beneath his robes and armor, scrabbling at the distant pull of the bond. In those darkest and loneliest nights, it only took the reassurance of Obi-Wan’s continued existence in the base of his skull, deep within their force bond, for him to come silently in his tight grip, tears trapped behind his closed lids from shame and despair.

He would not be this beaten down, so already worn into a man in the span of months, had Obi-Wan been with him. How could he live the rest of his life like this? The thrill and excitement of Jedi missions entirely lost their appeal when his best friend, his brother, his entire world was months and lightyears away. It might as well be a lifetime.

But ten months of death and misery washed away as if nothing in this moment. He would wait ten lifetimes to see Obi-Wan again, if he had them to give. The transporter’s propulsion engines roared, and he swayed easily with the movement of their smooth landing. He wiped sweaty hands on his blue outer tunic and Rex shot him another look.

“Are you sure you’re alright, general? I haven’t seen you like this since we landed on Vondarc.”

He willed his ridiculous fear and nervousness into the force and gathered any peace it offered him. “Just ready to see old friends.”

Rex smirked. “By all the stories you’ve told me, Kenobi better be a god.”

The outer docking doors hissed, and Rex straightened from his slouched position as the inner doors unlatched and released. A gush of fresh air filtered in and Anakin inhaled the smell of home. He brushed past Rex and only barely restrained from full tilt running down the docking ramp, impatience practically steaming in the force around him. He stepped foot into the hangar bay, turning and ready to grab the first lifeform who stepped in front of him to demand the whereabouts of General motherkriffing Kenobi.

But then, for the first time in ten months, the bond surged with full life and snapped taught like a caught durasteel cable. It rang with an audible snap in his head, and he nearly went to his knees with the marrow deep relief of feeling Obi-Wan’s force signature twining through his own as if their bond never felt the absence.

He pivoted, intent on finding him, only to stumble directly into his former master. They both reared back and barely looked at the other before grappling each other into a violent hug that sent them stumbling, knocked off balance from the strength of it.

“Master!” Anakin heard himself gasp.

“Anakin!” Obi-Wan answered, smashing Anakin’s forehead to his with a heavy-handed grip on the back of his head. They stood like that for a moment, sweaty foreheads pressed together and splashing through each other’s force signature’s like children wading through water. The force practically thrashed around them, rising and cresting to crash through the hangar like a great wave of pure, unadulterated joy.

A throat cleared behind Anakin, and the pair pulled apart, realizing they entirely blocked the docking ramp. He stepped aside and Obi-Wan followed. Now untangled from the other they fully took each other in. Anakin noticed the shortness of Obi-Wan’s hair first, shorn close to the neck and side parted. His beard looked shorter too, which made him look younger despite the tiredness rimming his glittering blue eyes. He looked good, healthy, strong, mostly unchanged; much better than Anakin felt.

But Obi-Wan blinked and regarded his former padawan, who seemed entirely altered. At eighteen Anakin’s frame hinted the promise of the man he would become. But that promise had been greatly understated. Ten months, the progression of time from eighteen to nineteen, and to twenty soon. Nearly a year and the sculpting mallet of war’s hands etched a looming figure of sinew and stone. Somehow, in ten months, Anakin had completely transformed from youthful athleticism and delicate features to all the hard lines of a man.

His shoulders and chest seemed impossibly wide, the high cut of his cheekbones and square set of his jaw now filled out so that the sharpness of the features no longer seemed cartoonish in their intensity, but rather startlingly masculine and handsome. The padawan haircut he knew for all of Anakin’s life was grown out into a disheveled mop of dark golden curls.

But what sent a true shock through Obi-Wan, the grounding reminder the past ten months had been war for them both, was the thin pink scar now bisecting Anakin’s left eyebrow, skating past his eye to arch down his cheekbone. Deep bruises circled under his eyes, and he seemed to carry exhaustion on those newly grown shoulders of his. But despite the weariness of war, he looked good, healthy, oh so grown, and good.

Obi-Wan realized, with a sudden sick lurch, that he looked quite beautiful. Oh bantha shit.

Anakin turned and grinned, beckoning a blonde clone in blue hand painted armor to step closer.

“Rex, this is Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

The clone commander smirked, and Obi-Wan flicked confusion through the bond.

“It’s an honor general. General Skywalker hasn’t talked about anything but you for the past year.”

Anakin went an alarming shade of red and clamped his durasteel hand on Obi-Wan’s armored shoulder to steer him away from the docking ramp.

“We’ll catch up later Rex, the council wants a direct report!”

Obi-Wan laughed and gently shook off Anakin’s hold while they walked. Always so tactile, even now. They both walked silent, even as they cast side glances at the other, taking in the small and large changes of the past months, even as their force signatures sang into the living force with euphoric triumph at the long-waited union of their bond.

“I never noticed the scar in the holos.”

Anakin traced the jagged line with his gloved hand. “I forget about it. There were no reminders of it in the field.”

“It’s quite roguish.”

Anakin laughed, all teeth and flushed happiness. “So is your new haircut. Has the council been sending you on honeypot missions?”

“That’s right, while you were getting your face carved in the outer rim, the council actually sent me to seduce half of the senate.”

“How terrible for you. I’m sure every breath of flirtation was agony. I can’t believe I didn’t feel it in the force.”

“Well,” said Obi-Wan, “It was quite traumatic, choking down all the Corellian wine and Nabooian pears.”

Anakin howled. “You karking jerk!”

Obi-Wan grinned, curling fondness with an embarrassingly strong undercurrent of affection through their bond. But ten months had softened his recollections of just how strong Anakin’s emotions always felt. Any embarrassment was mute when Anakin answered his fondness with a charged current of utter devotion in the force.

“Sithspit Obi-Wan, I missed you.”

It wasn’t becoming of a Jedi to say. An admission of longing spoke of attachment, spoke of misplaced attentions when they should have been on battlefield objectives rather than wishing for reunion with another that a good Jedi would have placed faith in the force to see again. But Obi-Wan admitted attachment in a cave with a half-frozen padawan four years before. Despite what the council said, no matter how much he willed it into the force, attachment did not fade, rather, his attachment to Anakin had only deepened with the years, and now, deepened further through the separation and anguish of war.

They stood outside of the council chamber now, the least appropriate place to verbally admit a breaking of the Jedi code, but Anakin had never regarded such improprieties.

“I missed you too, Anakin.”
________________________________________

Anakin toggled a navigational switch and pressed forward on the ship’s steering yoke. Outside of their viewport rose the mass of a verdant planet, emerald and hazy with life and an atmosphere thick with humidity.

“I know this goes against every atom in your body, but please nothing fancy for the landing,” begged Obi-Wan.

“Explain to me how one of the best pilots in the galaxy hates flying so much.” He snarked but eased up on the yoke none the less.

The tension in the force eased around them, Obi-Wan’s nervous choke hold on it relaxing as the ship’s descent slowed to a less breakneck speed.

“Flying’s for droids. Besides, it’s your flying I don’t like.”

“So when we’re hightailing it out of here later, inevitably escaping whatever is moving the force like this, I should let you be the escape pilot?”

“That is absolutely not what I said—hold on, the council said nothing about this force movement being malevolent. Why are you planning an escape flight?” Obi-Wan sounded truly alarmed now.
Anakin grinned, though kept his glee at how easily riled Obi-Wan was to himself. “The force is calling me, like it did when I was younger. If you’ll recall, the last time that happened I lost a duel and had my head knocked in.”

“You’re back for one day,” Obi-Wan complained, “and I can already feel my beard graying.”

“You’re twenty-nine, master.”

Obi-Wan glared balefully at him and Anakin ignored the expression, attention temporarily diverted to landing amongst a thick grove of towering trees. The curling limbs stretched impossibly long, sagging to the ground like twisting snakes, weighed down by their own size and the thick blankets of eye seering green moss which hung from the trees like curtains.

Anakin took a deep breath of air which clung to them the moment they exited the ship, sticky and soupy with humidity and life. His head swam, vision sparking with bright dots of black and white behind his eyes.

“Woah, oxygen must be really high.”

“I see what the council meant about a surge in the force, it is truly overwhelming.”

“Stars it is—feels like the whole planet is breathing with it.”

They panted in the humidity, gazing around the clearing with swimming vision and the force pulsing around them, within them.

Anakin pointed to the far side of the clearing. “It’s stronger that way, I can feel it calling me.”

Obi-Wan followed him without question, just as he always did when Anakin cited the calling of the force, even when it got them stuck in ice burrows and Anakin with his brains and memories knocked clean out of his skull. When he bothered to bring it up, how strange it was, but also how much he appreciated Obi-Wan’s blind faith in his callings through the force, Obi-Wan merely shrugged and said he didn’t have any brains to be knocked out of his skull in the first place.

The clearing, bedded with thick spongy moss and blankets of orange ferns, gave way to stone. Obi-Wan hummed and brushed past him to drag his hands against the ruins rising from the foliage.
“An ancient temple, it must be on a nexus for the force to feel like this.”

Anakin stepped over rubble and through a half caved in archway, vines nearly obscuring its existence from casual view.

“Yeah but why has there been such a movement of the force now? Master Yoda said it felt like a star going supernova.”

Inside of the ruins, amongst piles of collapsed stone and sprouting trees, the force swam with such strength it visibly wavered through the air like a mirage on the Tatooine desert. Anakin sagged sideways, stumbling into Obi-Wan, who barely caught him from sending them both tripping over loose rocks and roots.

“What’s wrong?” He demanded.

Anakin’s vision danced with bright spots, and he felt the blood drain from his face. “There, it’s coming from just up there.”

He pointed through another stone archway, though his extended hand weaved through the air as if he were blind drunk. Obi-Wan eyed his blanched face, which made his pink scar and the darkness beneath his eyes stand out as if they were painted on. He pitched himself through the archway without warning, darting out of sight within a blink.

Obi-Wan rushed after him, alarm surging uninhibited through the physical force around him. “Anakin!” He cried. “Anakin, hold on!”

Inside of the ruin’s next room, amongst the wild growing forest and crumbling stone, a holocron glowed from a half-collapsed stasis. The force did not sing to him, did not call enticing words through the cosmos as it did to Anakin. But even he could feel the calling of the force, its sweet siren song pulling him to the blue glow of the holocron.

He watched in horror, as Anakin slumped forward to half collapse against the stasis, reaching his durasteel hand out.

“Anakin no!”

Obi-Wan lept forward, grabbing Anakin’s shoulder to yank him backwards the moment his fingers wrapped around metal and the heat of a sun.

The world lit blazing white, completely blinding and heat from the holocron expanding like blaster fire to envelop the room in its grasp. He gasped, or they both gasped, he couldn’t tell, didn’t know who he was. Their force bond felt stretched beyond any comprehensible limit, their psyches inseparable and indistinguishable. Were there two of them? It did not feel so, no—because Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were one, of the same being, of the same life force, of the same soul.

But the force receded as quickly as it came, and the light died away. Obi-Wan blinked and Anakin blinked.

“What in the kriffing seven sith’s hells was—” But Anakin broke off his curse with a shriek, because the words were not his own, or rather, the voice was not.

He gaped at Obi-Wan standing beside him, at himself standing beside him, because while Anakin lived and breathed, Anakin Skywalker’s body blinked back at him with a stunned and slack expression.

“Oh stars,” Obi-Wan croaked, with his lilting Corruscant accent but in Anakin’s voice. “Oh stars—Anakin—what did you do?”

Chapter Text

Anakin blinked at himself, at Obi-Wan looking back at him from behind Anakin’s eyes. Panic and confusion tilted between them in the force, boomeranging in a nausea inducing tumble and roll of a perpetual feedback loop. He felt squeezed inside a plasteel mold, his mind and force signature ill fitted to the foreign flesh encasing his soul. But the force itself also felt muted, less visceral and ever violently present. The ruins and world around him felt oddly still and quiet.

Looking at his body and the halo of force light which shrouded it, he recognized that his own strength in the force stayed with his physical biology, with the midichlorians which ran through the flesh of Anakin Skywalker’s veins. Many had told him through the years that he shown like a sun in the force, but visibly perceiving it with Obi-Wan’s eyes felt earth shattering. Inhaling air into Obi-Wan’s lungs felt earth shattering.

He realized, blinking at his master in the humidity, that Obi-Wan saw colors more deeply than he did, the blue of his tunic he always thought cobalt now seemed closer to navy, the brown of his glove almost imperceptible from black. His glove—

“Master—” He stepped forward and almost tripped over his own feet, Obi-Wan’s feet.

“We must get to the council at once, and we must take the holocron with us,” said Obi-Wan. His accent sounded odd in Anakin’s voice, especially lilting with his younger and higher vocals.

“How does the force feel, master? Is the holocron calling to you?”

“Now why would it call to me?”

Anakin huffed and approached the stasis, eyeing the holocron which still glowed, though less brightly than before.

“Because my force signature didn’t jump into your body with me. I can’t feel anything. If it is still calling, it’s to you.”

Obi-Wan looked extremely perturbed, and he reached up to stroke a beard which was most certainly not there. Hysterical amusement bubbled through their bond, perhaps mutually felt, though their signatures and minds were so deeply enmeshed and twined between their split spirits and bodies, that any emotion or tugging of the force felt almost impossible to discern its origin.

“I suppose you’re right, though it doesn’t feel like before, more asleep.”

“Well in that case—” Anakin plucked the holocron from the stasis and examined it closely. Obi-Wan made his usual outraged noise, though from Anakin’s throat it came out like a squawk.

Anakin grinned at him, noticing how Obi-Wan’s mouth pulled more tightly than his own, his lips thinner and opening less wide than his. The beard felt especially strange and ever present.

They picked back through the ruins and forest in silence, tripping awkwardly and swaying from the dizzying reality of moving in a body that fit like another Jedi’s robes. Anakin’s legs were longer than Obi-Wan’s, even though he only had two inches on his former master, but the minor difference was enough that they both trampled through the undergrowth like newborn foals.

Anakin collapsed into the pilot’s seat and handed the holocron off to Obi-Won, who took the object with trepidation. In Anakin’s body, with Anakin’s strength in the force, it crooned to him, though quietly as if a lullaby. He shoved it in a satchel between their feet, feeling quite literally wrong footed and emotionally frayed.

“Do you really see blue like this?” Anakin asked.

Obi-Wan blinked as he toggled switches to retract the landing ramp and begin ground takeoff procedures. The ship’s engines thrummed beneath them, seeming especially loud and vibrating with alarming strength under his boots. After a moment he realized it was the strength of the force he felt in the ship, humming around him, practically thunderous with the living force. Stars how did Anakin exist under this bombardment of force sensations every moment?

“See blue like what?” He asked after too long a silence.

The ship ascended into orbit, lifting above the treetops and the oddest thrill swooped through his body, reminiscent of an adrenaline rush in the middle of battle. He cast his gaze to his own body beside him, to see that Anakin wore an expression of rivetted concentration, steel-blue eyes narrowed, and mouth drawn tight and thin.

“You see colors darker than I do.”

“Yes,” Obi-Wan found himself answering. “I didn’t realize you saw my eyes this light, or my hair. No wonder you always say I’m so pale.”

They both laughed, though the force felt tight between them as if they both had mental hands bound up in its fabric, mutually pulling from opposite ends of a linen tunic. Looking too closely at their bond left him nauseous, as their emotions seemed to ricochet endlessly between them, like a loose blaster bolt in a ship’s hull.

Obi-Wan rubbed at his eyes, only to pull his hands away, one flesh and the other durasteel. He flexed it curiously beneath the leather glove, its small metal components whirring and shifting to curl fingers into a fist. He glanced over to Anakin, who refused to look at him, jaw clenched and muscle in his neck bouncing. Did he always look like this when angry?

Outside of the ship the stars bled into rays of light, the ship jumping to hyperspeed.

“How do you possibly exist like this, Anakin?”

Anakin startled from his intense focus on the methodical requirements of taking them to hyperspace. He glanced to the leather gloved hand curled in Obi-Wan’s lap, a tight ball of embarrassment and shame curling low in his stomach. On the steering yoke he flexed the grip of two flesh hands, both warm and sticky with sweat.

“With one hand? With half the itching,” he joked.

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. Anakin delighted at how oddly Obi-Wan’s haughtiness played across his own features.

“Not the hand. How do you feel the force like this, every waking moment? I feel battered, as if the living force is a raging tempest that I must fight to simply survive.”

“Stop fighting it, master, you’ll make it worse. Let it flow through you.”

Obi-Wan placed a flesh hand on his chest, feeling the heavy thumping of Anakin’s heart beneath his breastbone. “Stars—Anakin, it feels like the whole galaxy is trying to tear me apart.”

“And it’s so quiet for you,” Anakin said in wonder.

They gazed out the viewport in silence, unbeknownst to either of them, their breathing and heartbeats perfectly synchronized.
________________________________________
They walked before the council, steps perfectly in time with the other and hands swinging in synch, much like a pair of marching clones. Master Windu furrowed his brow and blinked perplexedly at them.

“Something dramatic occurred, it has,” said Master Yoda. “Your auras, indistinguishable, they are.”

“Quite dramatic, Master Yoda,” said Obi-Wan.

The entire council drew themselves up in their seats. The force burst startled and flummoxed through the chamber, all from Obi-Wan’s accent lilting through Anakin’s mouth.

Yoda leaned forward, resting his small hands on his staff. “A holocron, did you touch?”

Obi-Wan cut his eyes to the side to lift one eyebrow in Anakin’s direction. The expression which always looked so sly on Obi-Wan appeared especially sardonic on Anakin’s face. Anakin cleared his throat and stepped forward, holocron in tow.

“I did, Master Yoda.”

“Hmm Skywalker, surprised I am not.” Master Yoda chuckled for a moment, shaking his head. “Hundreds of years ago, seen this before I have, during the High Republic I did. Teaching you both a lesson, the force is.” He chuckled again, closing his eyes and shaking his little furry head.

“So, our situation is not dire then?” Asked Obi-Wan.

“Hmm—dire, no, though confusing for you it will be, last weeks it may.”

Master Windu sighed. “And weeks we do not have. We received word the Seperatists have attacked the Savareen Sector and Dooku is on the move to retake the Corellian Run and bid the Huts for use of Christoph System's Hyperlanes. Given the—current situation with you two, we’re sending out the 212th and 501st together.”

Despite the situation, pleasure curled through the bond between them. Deployment to an outer rim system promised many months together. The hollowness and aching loneliness of the past ten months of separation still haunted Anakin, and he fought the urge to cling to his former master. Although clinging seemed redundant when he now took breath with Obi-Wan’s lungs and felt his master’s heartbeat echoing through his body and pulled on the man’s very life force.

“Of course, and we will leave the holocron in the council’s safe keeping I presume?” Asked Obi-Wan.

“In your safe keeping, the holocron will stay. The will of the force, it is, for when it returns you.” Master Yoda’s eyes practically sparkled with mirth at them.

Obi-Wan could not discern what about the situation amused the Grand Master so but his lighthearted enjoyment in the force put the entire room at ease and made the bizarre nature of their predicament seem far less important than the greater matters of war.

After the dismissal of the council Master Windu called out to them as they exited the chamber. “Chaos and yet harmony you two, please be careful and may the force be with you always.”
________________________________________
“We should spar.”

Obi-Wan looked up from his data padd, while absently stroking Anakin’s smooth jawline in lieu of his beard. Anakin paced around him, arms clasped behind his back and the force sparking in pent up energy.

“We board the Resolute in a couple of hours.”

Anakin arched his eyebrows. “More than enough time. This is the perfect opportunity to practice fighting in each other’s bodies, master.”

“You’re just restless,” Obi-Wan grumbled even as he set the data padd aside. “We should meditate afterwards, find some sort of—mental balance.”

Anakin snorted. “Can’t wait to watch this. A hundred credits says you can’t find harmony with my force signature.”

Obi-Wan’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll take that bet, but if I win you can never complain about meditating again.”

“And if I win?” Anakin asked with a laugh.

“You won’t.”

Anakin thought they might receive curious attention or odd looks as they strode through the halls of the temple to a training room. But as they brushed past tumbling padawans and their more serene masters, they received only the usual nods and absentminded hellos. He felt starkly out of place, walking in Obi-Wan’s strong body, felt the stiffness with how he moved must be obvious as a star destroyer.

Beyond his own feeling of conspicuousness, the mirrored synchrony between them felt staggeringly apparent. If he focused too heavily on their bond, which sang like a bow on a string between them, he noticed the ebb and flow of their life force that moved in perfect alignment with their shared heartbeats. But perhaps to the other Jedi, this synchrony between them and muddling of their force signatures was not so out of the ordinary.

In the sparring room Anakin stripped off Obi-Wan’s brown robe and unclasped his belt to shrug out of his cream over tunic. Opposite of him, Obi-Wan did the same, revealing Anakin’s darker undertunic. They grinned at one another, both hyperaware of the movements they normally payed little attention to, taking in the bared shoulders and arms of their own bodies.

They ignited their sabers, which seemed a deeper and richer blue to Anakin, when seen through Obi-Wan’s eyes. His former master smirked at him for the briefest of moments, and then leapt forward, both physically and through the force. Anakin startled and tilted sideways, already swinging his body, Obi-Wan’s body, around his opponent’s pivoting form through sheer instinct. The aggressive movement surprised him, when Obi-Wan usually took the offensive, especially early on in a spar.

But then, Obi-Wan didn’t usually have Anakin’s force signature thrumming electrically hot and staticky through his veins like a charged wire. It made him as impatient and bottled full of ready to burst energy as Anakin on most days. How much of this restlessness and jittery unease he had attributed to Anakin’s persnickety nature truly stemmed from the firestorm of the living force inside of him?
But in this moment, larger thoughts of the power of the force and a frenetic former padawan slid away to be replaced with whited out adrenaline and Anakin’s pulse thudding in his ears. They moved as one, surging and crashing to meet their sabers between them, shoved tight and glancing, as if waves cascading against a shore’s rocky and jagged cliffs. The bighting crackles and pops of their colliding blades lit the air warm and hazy, the spraying mist of their tempestuous collisions.

Anakin spun Obi-Wan’s saber in his hand, on each upswing twirling the blade overhead left or right, or underhanded with the brief snapping movement of his wrist, darting beneath his former master’s reaching guard. Obi-Wan’s normal tight control and closely guarding movements of Soresu bled into the viperous quick counterattacks of Djem So, and he answered each of Anakin’s lunges and arced swings with his own.

The force surged with their power and energy, screaming as loudly and violently as a spacecraft collision in sub atmosphere. It sang in their veins, a crescendoing chorus, a high and triumphant note that rang through their bond. So long Anakin had pushed and pushed to find an equal in this intimate field of battle, another who not only answered the swing of his blade as instinctually as he did but fought against his force signature just as powerfully. Obi-Wan’s answering violent attacks felt like a benediction, breathed out from behind clenched teeth and pouring sparking magma down his spine, lit luminously white with euphoric heat.

The crescendo built—so that twin sets of lungs heaved gasps and muscles screamed from exhaustion, their past spars never began with nor maintained the true violent energy of actual battle. But in this moment, with the force screaming to egg them on, and their auras twined and grappling tight so that any other force user could not distinguish where one soul began and the other ended, they fought as if it were some epic tectonic collision to the death. But crescendos can only build so long—the heaving gasp before descent only able to last as long as there is breath in the lungs.

And so their crescendo crashes, thunderous and tumultuous. Anakin wrenches his saber away from Obi-Wan’s bracing weight behind his own blade, crackling and hissing with the grind of the sabers’ lighted blades. In the next blink Obi-Wan tackles him, full body plowing into his side so heavily it sends them both crashing into the mat. But his pulse is high in his throat, energy pounding in his head and he counterattacks blindly, caught up in the animal instincts of survival. They roll and scuffle, knees and elbows digging into each other’s abdomens and thighs. Finally, Anakin sinks against the mat, going loose with muscle quivering exhaustion. For a moment Obi-Wan stares down at him, the heat and violence of the fight brimming in his eyes, his force signature feral and snapping, the caged animal set free to run and now resisting its bid to be tamed. Anakin wondered, gazing warily into the fever bright eyes of his own face, if this is what Obi-Wan saw when he felt the siren call of the dark side, cooing its promises breathily into his ear.

He swallowed thickly, bobbing movement of his neck coming dangerously close to the hissing heat of his own lightsaber blade held against his throat.
“Master?” He asked.

In an instant Obi-Wan rolled off of him, collapsing beside him onto the mat and switching off his blade. They both laid in silence, sweat cooling on their skin. Their lungs took in sharp breaths, oxygen sweet and cool in only the way it could be after the recession of adrenaline and the calm after exertion.

“Well,” Obi-Wan said, “I think I understand all your restless energy.”

Anakin closed his eyes and sniggered silently, shoulders shaking against the mat. From across the room, one of their comms chimed in alert. They both groaned and rolled to their feet and Anakin scooped up his comm, thumbing on the holo. Rex’s projection blinked at him for a moment and then grinned widely.

“General Skywalker.”

“Rex,” he answered simply. The council had alerted their clone commanders of the situation at hand, though his captain seemed unworried and deeply amused at the sight of Obi-Wan Kenobi answering the comm.

“The Resolute is fully boarded and ready for ascent, sir, whenever you and General Kenobi are ready.”

Anakin glanced to his own sweat drenched body blinking at him, wearing Obi-Wan’s patient and mild expression.

“We’ll be on board within the hour.”

“Yes sir.”

The holo snapped a smart salute and then blinked away. The silence which echoes through the sparring room after is deafening, and Anakin’s ears ring for a startling moment before he grabs up Obi-Wan’s robes.

“We should shower and—” begins Obi-Wan.

“Meditation on the ship then—” Anakin says.

They grin at one another and their bond resonates with the hum of its plucked synchronous string. Anakin looks into his own eyes, his own oddly angular face that he could not reconcile as handsome no matter how many times he examined it in a mirror, but it was only Obi-Wan he could see blinking back at him. It was in the gentle curve of his mouth, the always loving and mischievous glint to his eyes. He could not imagine his own face ever looked so gentle and fond without Obi-Wan behind it.

Distantly he recognizes the sticky heat which bubbles in his veins, and pools low in his core like boiling syrup. But he cuts his gaze aside, embarrassed by the simmering arousal sparked by their fight and his ever present, visceral and aching love.

When they reach their quarters Obi-Wan graciously offers him the fresher first, and he closes the door, clean robes in his arms, with the sinking feeling of already sinned temptation. He cannot keep his eyes from the mirror as he pulls off his under tunic. The sight of Obi-Wan’s bare shoulders and chest is nothing new, not after years and thousands of hours of saber training. But in the dim fresher light, he is able to look his fill of Obi-Wan’s bare skin for the first time in his life.

He cannot help himself from dragging his own fingertips against the curve of Obi-Wan’s bicep, the ridge of his pectorals, the slope of his abdomen and hipbones. Even though his master tries to hide his youth with his demeanor and facial hair, the sharp cut of his muscles is testament to his training and twenty-nine-year-old body.

His mouth falls open, as he watches himself drag his own hand across the ridges of his abdominal muscles. His own expression of desire plays out across Obi-Wan’s features and he feels a sudden sharp surge of arousal at the reflection of Obi-Wan Kenobi looking back at him with darkened eyes and parted lips.

He knows it is a wretched thing to do, to take advantage of this body when Obi-Wan would not only be absolutely mortified, but also would never commit the same violation to Anakin’s body. But oh—the thought of Obi-Wan doing the same, pulling his tunic from his shoulders and running his fingertips down the slope of his long waist and sharp hipbones.

He cannot stop himself from brushing his hands across the waistband of his pants at the thought, and he watches the reflection of Obi-Wan pushing that waistband down to expose his legs and hardened cock. He is thicker than Anakin, and the weight of him juts forward, where in his own body, his cock curves straight against the flat of his stomach. Anakin takes it all in, drinks in the reflection of Obi-Wan, bare and muscled and hard, blinking at him with heavy lidded eyes.

But this violation has gone on long enough, and despite how he aches and longs to take Obi-Wan’s cock in his hand and grip himself hard and brutally fast, he could never do this to his master, could not live with himself knowing he had. He could not keep another secret from him, when the first was massacre and the second would be the deepest personal violation. He turned away from the mirror and flipped on the sonic. Under the hot spray of water, he tipped his master’s face to the ceiling and willed away the want brimming through him, willed away the force forsaken want and love for the man whose body and force signature he wore.

On the opposite end of the bond Obi-Wan sat on the end of his bed and slowly pulled off Anakin’s leather glove. The durasteel fingers and joints glinted in the low light and he turned the hand, curling and flexing the appendages, listening to the faint whir in fascination. Anakin never removed the glove when he thought Obi-Wan could see, always spilling shame and embarrassment into their bond when he did catch sight. He could not understand why he felt this way, not when Obi-Wan had been there during the fight, not when he had seen the stump where Anakin’s hand had been. But then, maybe this was the reason why.

But in this moment, he could look his fill and not feel Anakin’s shame. Guilt curled low in his gut, from the way he let himself lose control in their fight, the euphoric surge of the force inside him egging him on to take. To take what he wasn’t sure. Take blood, more control? But now guilt curled even deeper as he regarded Anakin’s durasteel hand. His former padawan would not forgive him for this, would not forgive him the violation of such privacy. He quickly pulled the glove back on and went to his dresser to pull out a new set of clean tunics when he glanced up to take in his reflection in the mounted mirror.

Anakin’s dark gaze blinked back at him, with his deep bruised under eyes and long golden lashes. Without conscious movement he found himself reaching up and tracing the curve of his jaw, of Anakin’s jaw with his flesh hand. Stubble scraped against the pads of his fingers and he drug the lightest touch from jawline to the corner of his mouth. Anakin blinked back at him, heavy lidded and full mouthed. Before he could stop himself, he traced the full curve of Anakin’s lips with his hand. He really was so deeply beautiful. But the expression on his face wasn’t right, didn’t have enough spark and snarl behind the eyes, didn’t have the right petulant curl to his full mouth.

He sighed and cast his eyes away from the reflection, lowering his hand with deep embarrassment. Anakin would be mortified if he knew, would be mortified if his former master touched his body in such violation.

Unnoticed by both, the taught pulled string of the bond sang between them, humming out the mournful note of a lone cello string into the force.

________________________________________
They boarded The Resolute skittish and neither looking each other in the eyes. Rex looked at Anakin oddly and for some reason he knew it had nothing to do with him being in Obi-Wan’s body. Obi-Wan clapped Anakin on the shoulder and steered him to a clone in yellow painted armor, who eyed them with bemusement.

“Anakin this is Commander Cody, Commander this is General Skywalker, although—” he gestured to himself, to Anakin’s body with a smirk.

Rex laughed at the pair of them and the perplexity playing out on Cody’s face. “How long will you two be stuck like that?”

“Awww Rex, don’t tell me you think this is weird or something!”

Cody’s face seemed to twitch at the sound of Anakin’s softer voice falling from his general’s mouth, devoid of the lilting Coruscant accent which seemed as much a part of him as his copper hair.
“The force,” Obi-Wan began solemnly, “cannot be questioned in all its ethereal plans.”

Anakin cut his eyes sideways though Obi-Wan refused to make eye contact with him. Anakin bit back a smile and tittered through the bond, Obi-Wan trying to hush him but mentally snickering behind his own shields.

They ultimately excused themselves, barely keeping serious expressions as they left Rex and Cody on the bridge wearing identical confounded expressions. Their bond still resonated with bright flashes of intensity, laden from their earlier spar and now fostering a buoyant mood between them. They found themselves unwilling to part from the other’s company, even when they had not slept since being thrown from their own bodies and they both sagged with exhaustion.

They hovered outside of Obi-Wan’s personal quarters and he smiled gently at Anakin. “I’ll hold you to our meditation session now, if you are not too tired.”

Anakin shouldered past him with an eye roll and settled on the floor in the middle of his quarters, crossing his legs. Obi-Wan lowered himself, folding Anakin’s long legs to press his knobby knees against his own body’s. They closed their eyes and the room settled into silence beyond the dull hum of the ship.

Obi-Wan breathed, though the force did not settle peacefully around him as he was used to. Rather, it seemed to rear its head and eye him with hungry interest, as if a great beast formed of fire and desire. He quelled at this feeling, of being certain he sat before the living force under examination and had been found wanting.

Across from him, Anakin tugged on the bond gently to garner his attention and surged his own lifeforce against him. It was the oddest of feelings, understanding that the other—the outside lifeforce brushing against his own felt so familiar because it was his. It gentled the fear building in him, of trying to fight or contain or even stand his own against the great beast of Anakin’s lifeforce.

Anakin curled around him in the bond, ushering in the warm spark of peace and comfort. It’s alright, master, he thought. Just let it flow through you. Obi-Wan did not understand how he could let such a beast flow through him, but piece by piece, he forced himself to lower his guard and open the maul in his chest to the wider force.

The beast of fire seemed to eye him for one heart stopping moment, and then surged forward to engulf him. Obi-Wan gasped, and in the physical world Anakin took his hands in his own. Dimly and distantly, he felt that Anakin squeezed his gloved durasteel hand so tightly the metal joints ground against each other.

It felt like cowering under blaster fire, like standing in the blast zone of a propulsion engine. He swallowed thickly, and then let himself sink into the flames. Outside of himself, the force seemed to rage all the harder at the action, invigorated and enlivened by his opening himself to the wider force, but then Anakin was there, meeting him amidst the torrent of the storm.

I’m here, master.

And then—and then the most blessed and beautiful peace. Between them, within the bond, their signatures twined and wound through each other, the threads which made up the very conceptions of two separate minds molding into one singular, unbreakable thread.

He breathed, Obi-Wan—or Anakin, he did not know who he was. But he was Anakin, wasn’t he? No, he was Obi-Wan? But did it matter, when one set of lungs breathed oxygen into one singular body, and one singular heart pumped blood to house one mortal soul? He had found perfect and tantamount balance, in the force, in the greater universe. This feeling was euphoria, it was rapture—nirvana.

For one single moment, he felt the answer to the universe lay at his fingertips. The entire focus of the cosmic force seemed to regard him, caressed him lovingly and whispered in his ear, my children, my beloved.

Anakin gasped and wrenched open his eyes, across from him Obi-Wan did the same. The world felt shaken up and yanked sideways and he blinked at his master, confused as to why his brain felt liquified and poured into a container too large. He flexed his hands, one flesh and one durasteel, and then realized Obi-Wan smiled at him from behind a red beard and with light blue eyes.

“Oh,” Anakin said.

Between them, their bond sang as one golden lit line, their signatures irreparably fused into one whole.

Chapter Text

The universe still hung in imbalance. The force looked closer, to the two mortals who seemed to perpetually dance around each other. This was the right time, not many millennia in the past, or many a trillion years far after the brief flicker of time in which Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi breathed in the universe. This was the right time, and the two Jedi loved the other, ardently and all-consumingly, and yet the universe still spun and spun and spun without balance.

The force considered the life force of Anakin Skywalker, and then considered the universe, in all of its existence, the countless millennia which had already played out in the grand symphony of life itself. The music had many quintillions more millennia to play out, before this universe collapsed in on itself. But there is no true death, not even for the universe, for when this reality finally blinked away, there were countless others to take its place.

From those other worlds, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi lived on, again and again and again. Often their mortal life forces screamed out in agony, rending tears through the fabric of reality. Existence may have been a symphony, but the lives of Skywalker and Kenobi were an opera, a triumphant chorus, the magnum opus of the force’s lyrical cosmological genius.

In other universes, the dyad tore each other apart, eating the other alive to consume themselves. In other worlds one half of the whole left the other broken, severed and shattered and burned, or abandoned and scarred and forgotten. The saddest realms of existence were the worlds in which the pair did not meet at all.

But not in this world, not this plane of existence and reality. The force will bind the dyad, two halves of one soul, one life force, many many a year in the future, and many years ago in the past. But no—the force binds them together now. In this world, Skywalker and Kenobi fall in love, in this reality, they bring balance to the universe.

And yet, the force regards the pair closely, for balance has yet to come. It works to remedy this.


“Senator Amidala, I hope you are doing well.”

Padmé smiled tentatively at him through the holo. Her expression seemed genuine enough, although her gaze flickered to a line of sight outside of her projection.

“I am, I hope you are doing well also, or as well as you can fighting a war.”

As a politician she was a master at double speak and innuendo, lightyears better than he could ever hope to be. Her tone might not have revealed much to any outside listeners, but it spoke of her concern to him, despite her rejection, despite her knowledge of the blood on his hands.

“Oh, you know me, Obi-Wan and I are having a grand old time.”

At the mention of Obi-Wan’s name her expression softened into wry amusement and she tittered lightly. “Now that I believe. But your message said this was urgent? What could I help you with after all this time, Annie?”

“Well,” he said, “Obi-Wan and I have been assigned an undercover mission. I don’t have permission to give you many details in case—well.”

She nodded seriously and he crossed his arms, feeling suddenly flustered. Immediately following the council’s orders, he had thought of Padmé, although it now seemed a touch idiotic and overdramatic. Seeing her face again, he felt cowed and embarrassed just by breathing. The last he saw her she told him she could never marry a man who killed children. Years past, her words filled him with the blind rage only made known through absolute mortification. He burned with shame now, though he mostly fought to ignore the memories.

“We are assuming the aliases of two Coruscant billionaire socialites to have access to a certain—situation. The problem is, the Jedi have never been talented at incorporating ourselves with what’s fashionable, certainly not with the societal norms of the avant-garde.”

Padmé laughed delightedly, her voice bright and bell-like. “Anakin Skywalker, did you contact me for fashion advice?”

He rubbed the back of his neck with his gloved hand, laughing self-consciously. “Not so much advice as we need your expertise. The roles we’re assuming are social elites, and we have the funds for disguises, but no one in the temple knows—couture.”

Her eyes went exceptionally fond. “I understand, the people you need to convince will be experts on such things by your talk. I can have some bespoke wardrobes made up for you two, although you should both be measured.”

He grinned, letting his thankfulness bleed into the force from sheer habit. From across the temple and through their bond Obi-Wan prodded a lazy question in answer to the emotional dispersion.

“I can’t thank you enough, Senator. I know you’re exceptionally busy and this seems mundane, but we would be lost without your guidance in these matters.”

“Of course, Annie,” she said around a suppressed smile. “The Republic depends heavily on the aid of the Jedi, and if I can assist in an episode of subterfuge, I will do all I can.”

He nodded, though his next words lodged in his throat. In his fingers and high in his breastbone his pulse hammered. “We did not—part on good terms last time,” he began.

“Oh Annie,” she interrupted. “Please tell me you do not still think of me.”

“Only as my conscious, only to remind myself of the evil I am capable of.”

She reached out to him, her blue fingers extending in the holo. “You are a good man. Even the best of us make the gravest mistakes. I couldn’t marry a hurt and grieving boy in secret, but I never hated you.”

Relief bloomed in him like the fading of an aching wound. “You should, but I’m glad to hear you say otherwise.”

Padmé’s gaze flickered away from him for a moment, her attention diverted before she smiled back at him, eyes crinkled with fondness. “I have to go. It was so good to see you, Annie, truly. I will send you the details for a tailoring appointment.”

“Of course, Senator.” He reached to switch off the holo though her voice stopped his movement.

“Oh, and Annie,” she said. “Don’t tell Obi-Wan, but we really must do something about his hair.”


Anakin stood in the pedestrian decking area on a central drydock, tapping his flesh fingers against his crossed forearms and idly checked his comm. This mission was far too important to kriff up with a mistake as small as their identities being questioned by the convenience of he and Obi-Wan flying straight to the outer rim from Coruscant together. He had flown into Kwenn Space Station the day before and chartered a private cruiser under his alias, Flash Starkiller.

Obi-Wan was due any moment, arriving under his own alias, Ember Knight. The Utapaun mother and child waiting beside him shot subtle glances in his direction, recognizing the style and credits infused into his high collared tunic and sweeping black cloak. He had never paid much attention to the fashions of Coruscant beyond his enamor of Padmé’s gowns and the sometimes-ridiculous appearances of night life prowlers on the lower levels.

But here, he stood in all black leather and heavy fabrics, in the clear imitation of a Jedi’s outer tunic and belt, with all the dramatic cuts and tight fit of aesthetic over any real function. Padmé insisted all the Core world elites and social high to dos with big names in the avant-garde sphere were imitating the Jedi look these days, although he felt like some skulking darksider in the ridiculous all-black ensemble.

The warning of a docking alarm trilled through the hangar as a civilian transport cruiser descended on the pad. His dark cloak caught a gust of wind from the engines and the hiss of the cabin depressurizing with the lowering of the ship’s ramp. A myriad of travelers spilled from the ship and the two Utapauns beside him made a joyful spectacle as they greeted the third of their little group.

Obi-Wan came trailing down the ramp dead last, his dark clad silhouette cutting through the steam of the cooling engines. Anakin blinked dumbly, feeling so completely and utterly shaken by the sight he made, the gentle brush of a hand would surely knock him over.

Obi-Wan cut through the crowd to him in long strides, wearing all black velvet, tightly belted so that he was all broad shoulders and cinched waist. His former master always carried himself with quiet self-assurance, all pulled back shoulders and steady movement. His usual body language, conveying a militaristic and I’m in charge demeanor when in his armor and robes, translated to power and danger in his obscenely expensive black velvet.

Anakin continued to blink dumbly, taking in Obi-Wan’s clean shaven face and dark slicked back hair. His jaw was sharper than he recalled from his hazy childhood memories, his chin far stronger and squarer than the rounded softness his beard had lent his face for many years. There was nothing soft about him in this moment, except for the ever-present gentleness to his light blue eyes, and the revelation of the broad slant of his mouth and the sloping cupid’s bow of his lips.

Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, poking amusement through their bond, which Anakin suddenly realized with horror he was bleeding his stricken awe freely into. He resisted the urge to snap up his shields, though he mentally stuffed down his embarrassed mooning.

“You have a cleft chin,” were the utterly moronic words that managed to fall from his mouth before his brain could realign a single synapse to fire properly.

Obi-Wan rubbed his chin, more amusement bubbling between them. “Vanity is not very becoming, but I’ll admit I am not enjoying prancing around like this. I find I quite forgot how much I dislike my own face beneath the scruff.”

Anakin’s eyes danced across him, taking in the shortness of his hair, dark with product and styled from his face, the open blue of his eyes, all the smooth sleek lines of him.

His expression grew incredibly earnest as he said, “Don’t be ridiculous, master. You just look—” he trailed off, eyes going wide. “You look so young.

Obi-Wan rubbed his jaw and sighed. “That was rather the point.” His expression immediately flickered with mischief and his voice went sly, Coruscant accent tilting into an even more rounded lilt than usual. “After all, Flash, you and I are childhood best friends, we grew up together and I’m only a couple years older than you.”

The dark blue of Anakin’s eyes glinted in the artificial light of the hangar. “Nowhere I would rather be, Ember. Now I believe we have some Separatists to collude with and crimes against humanity to consider.”

They did not speak further of the mission until they safely boarded their chartered cruiser, which was far sleeker and more luxurious than they were used to. Anakin didn’t understand why a civilian ship needed a navigation system so advanced, but as he programmed their route with multiple jumps at bisecting hyperlanes into the autopilot, he figured they should only take advantage of it.

“Ahsoka didn’t happen to see you in all that before you left the temple did she?” Anakin asked around a laugh.

“If you think I allowed a single living soul we know to see me dressed as some bawdy Coruscant playboy you are somehow stupider than you look.”

When Obi-Wan glanced sideways Anakin was all toothy grin and radiating devilish glee so vibrantly through their bond it left the physical taste of a sour sweet in his mouth, tart and sparking. Since the force returned them to their bodies just before Christophsis, their bond had been something else entirely. In the immediate weeks following the holocron incident, in the midst of leading planetary assaults and engaging Separatist fleets, the bond was so alive and unifying between them, they had trouble functioning and interacting outside of the other.

The bond had writhed and hissed like a livewire, pulling them into each other’s orbits so that their minds and force signatures overlapped. For weeks they finished the other’s sentences, or entirely forgot to speak in the physical world outside of the far more intimate planes where their souls were in constant dialogue. While a sight to behold on the battlefield on any given day, when their very beings felt tethered and reformed into a singular atom, they fought like gods. Amidst the arcing lights of blaster fire and their twin sabers, they slashed and twirled with their backs together, moving as two parts of one whole.

Rex and Cody, and the rest of the 501st and 212th fought with their own generals for months, long ingrained to the idiosyncrasies of their leaders. But even the clones, who understood their predicament better than any other, were often taken aback by the perfect dyad the two generals made. Their unity left such an impression, the troopers began painting a red and yellow open circle on their gear and ships, a calling card to the Seps that General Skywalker and General Kenobi sent their regards. When Obi-Wan noticed the symbol left sprayed on Separatist wreckages with the same paint the clones used on their armor, curiosity won out and he asked Cody what in the sith’s hells his men were doing.

“It’s the Open Circle, general,” Cody responded in embarrassment. “One half is General Skywalker, the other half is you, two halves of the same whole. I can tell them to stop if you like.”

“No,” he had said, exorbitantly pleased, “I rather think we should invest in more paint.”

The absolute synchrony and acute tension did eventually slacken to bearable levels, so that Obi-Wan felt he could actually breathe without his force signature trying to climb out of his throat to abandon ship so that it could crawl inside of Anakin’s skin and live within him. It left them exhausted and unspooled, though even now they existed constantly in the other’s gravitational pull, always aware of the other.

In moments like this, when they fell to long hammered and comfortable banter and their attentions were solely directed on each other, the bond made itself known in physical manifestations. Anakin’s emotions now carried the impressions of colors and tastes in their wake, his anger blooming with purples and greens like old bruises behind his eyes, his delight and teasing bursting like citrus flavored candy in his mouth.

Anakin tugged on their bond, seeking his attention. Obi-Wan blinked at him, still mulling the taste of lemon in his mouth.

“The archive confirmed to you that they didn’t find any holo images of Ember or Flash, right?” He asked.

“They are elites in Coruscant mob families, Anakin, I was highly doubtful of any public images to begin with. Why are you being unusually paranoid about this?”

“I dunno, I’ve just got a bad feeling about this.”

“Just stick to the briefs and we shouldn’t have a problem, no one this far out has any intimate knowledge of the Starkiller and Knight clans.”


Anakin overrode the autopilot and dropped the ship out of hyperspace. The swirling blue mass of Eriadu leapt into their field of vision. The force hung heavy in their cabin, palpably anticipatory as Anakin keyed in the coordinates of the Tarkin palace, propulsion engines humming as they dropped into sub atmosphere.

Although they both read the briefs, the sight of the palace’s sprawling white architecture and gleaming spires rising from the planet’s smog still managed to shock them with its grandeur. The family called it the Tarkin Compound, although any word but palace felt an understatement as Anakin landed the ship on one of the many estate’s private landing pads.

A gaggle of servants greeted them at the bottom of their docking ramp, and the sight of at least another dozen private ships, all sleek and dripping with credits, exactly as their rented craft appeared. A humanoid man, toweringly tall and alarmingly thin, bowed to them with his fingers pressed together under his chin, all subservience and lowered eyes.

“Master Knight and Master Starkiller, the Tarkin family welcomes you with such esteemed honor, my good sirs,” he said. “The Lord and Lady of the house welcome you to take afternoon tea with them, if you are not too tired from your journey.”

“Not at all,” said Obi-Wan, his usual Coruscant accent thickened to emulate the lilt of the Inner Core’s highest elites. “Flash and I would be honored to join them.”

Anakin effected a charming lopsided smile at the mention of his name, though the tall servant never lifted his eyes from the ground to see the gesture. The horde of servants led them as a ridiculous procession through the many grand halls of the palace, which alternated between towering white columns of marble and looming cathedral ceilings of onyx and obsidian. Grand double doors opened to a drawing room filled with lavishly dressed humans, drinking tea out of porcelain saucers in the Inner Core style.

“Ahh! My two little Coruscant peacocks! Let me take a look at you!”

They both startled, the bond jumping between them as they grabbed at it, mentally jumping. Obi-Wan recovered smoothly and advanced in long strides to the Lady Thalassa where she stood at the center of the room, taking her hand with a flourish to plant a kiss against her knuckles.

“My lady, it is such an honor. Flash and I are ecstatic to be invited to your stunningly gorgeous home.”

Anakin adopted the same lopsided grin from outside and kissed Lady Thalassa’s hand with a wink. She scoffed but grinned none the less, gesturing for her husband to step away from the circle he conversed in. The lieutenant governor ambled over, a glass of scotch in his hand.

“My husband, Lord Wilhuff,” she introduced.

“Knight, Starkiller,” he said with a clipped nod, not bothering to shake their hands. The Lord and Lady immediately seemed an odd pair, the drawn sternness to his pale face contrasting greatly with her soft satin curves and piles of voluminous brunette curls.

“You two have arrived at an exceptionally convenient time, are all Inner Core socialites so punctual?” Lady Thalassa laughed.

Anakin flashed a blinding grin and adopted an embarrassingly thick Coruscant accent, long practiced from his many years of mocking Obi-Wan. “Only when a beautiful woman is waiting for our arrival.”

Obi-Wan jabbed him through the force. Fair enough, probably too strong. But Lady Thalassa only laughed, even as her husband stepped away without a word, returning to his circle of equally sour faced friends.

“Don’t mind him, the Quintad were in session all morning and he’s in a fowl mood. But you two have arrived at the perfect opportunity to escape horrid trade talks and drink to your hearts’ content.”

Obi-Wan’s expression slanted into a long-suffering expression. “How unfortunate that we are here for trade talks then.”

She laughed again, angling her body to flit her fingers against his chest, feather light for a passing moment. Anakin bubbled with immediate annoyance in the force, though Obi-Wan brushed against him with gentle amusement. This he could do, charm and flirt his way through negotiations. Anakin only needed to say as little as possible at his side and flash his alarmingly large smile when spoken to.

Anakin certainly looked the part in his tight black tunic, cut high at the collar to show off the broad line of his shoulders and long column of his throat. The sharp masculine lines of his leather gloves and belt juxtaposed with his tousled curls and pink lips. Just as long as he didn’t open his big mouth and contented himself with silently charming.

“You’ll be happy to know we are hosting a little gala tonight then, where you two can barter and weasel all you like—Don’t look at me like that, I know your sort, the Coruscant mob families can certainly charm and dazzle with style, but this isn’t the Inner Core, darling. You’ll find we may be more rustic, but we are far less easily charmed then your little crime syndicate social climbers.”

“And here I thought to find a woman who could appreciate me for my brains instead of my pretty face. I’m hurt,” said Anakin.

Obi-Wan mentally clapped his forehead and then slapped Anakin through their bond. He answered the sting with a mental kick to the back of the shin. Outwardly they both smirked.

Lady Thalassa rolled her eyes, but her attention momentarily flickered over their shoulders and she smiled. “Ahh—Jasper, Ember Knight and Flash Starkiller are here, come introduce yourself.”

A striking man with corn silk blonde hair and pale eyes stepped into their circle, wearing a plum tunic cut in similar style to Anakin’s. He carried a teacup in one hand and spoke with the same stuffy Coruscant accent they had adopted for this affair. He clapped Anakin’s forearm in greeting.

“Jasper Fortuna, wonderful to finally meet you two, though the circumstances are a little odd, all three of us so far from home.” His tone spoke of only friendliness, though the force seemed to whisper the faintest warning in Anakin’s ear. Through their many years together, Obi-Wan always listened when he spoke of the force, but now, with the bond spooled taught as one golden thread between them, he felt the warning echoing to him through Anakin, wordless and subtle as a sigh.

The Fortunas, alongside the Starkillers and Knights, made up one of the largest mob families on Coruscant. Within Republic Space and outside the territory of the Hutts, the triad controlled a fair number of the Inner Core. This man was only here to bid against their overtures to the Tarkins for trade deals, trade deals between the five ruling families of Eriadu who called themselves the Quintad, and the Seperatists parked in this very sector looking for soldiers and weapons.

Obi-Wan shook Jasper’s hand with a sardonic smile. “It truly is, how strange the whole triad is here.”

Lady Thalassa’s expression went annoyed. “Now Ember, no need for dramatics.”

Jasper only smirked. “He means no offense my Lady. He only meant things have been a little tense between our families after he refused to marry my cousin Elaine to run away with this trollop—oh I’m sorry, Flash wasn’t it?”

Under normal circumstances Anakin would be fighting the urge to bash the motherkriffer’s skull in with the hilt of his lightsaber for talking to him like that, but his attention was diverted to the more urgent point. The bond thrummed between them, the sweet note of its synchronous plucked string calling out through the force as they both mentally turned to the other in silent exclamation. That sure as sith’s hells hadn’t been in the council’s briefing.

Anakin pulled his lips into as snide a smirk as he could manage and subtly leaned into Obi-Wan’s space, though they already stood elbow to elbow. “No offense to Elaine, but I am far prettier.”

Lady Thalassa’s eyes went wide and delighted as she smiled into her teacup. “Forgive my obviously outdated gossip but I was under the impression you two grew up together?”

Anakin nearly jumped out of his skin at the feel of Obi-Wan’s hand pressing against the small of his back. “Makes for quite the holodrama doesn’t it?” Obi-wan asked. “Growing up in rival mob families with the love of your life?”

He went instantly scarlet and so flustered he could only turn his face partly into Obi-Wan’s shoulder. Under the choking confines of his fitted tunic he broke out in a sweat and his heart jackhammered a panicked staccato behind his ribs.

“Oh,” Lady Thalassa laughed, pity written clearly on her face. “Ember, you’ve absolutely mortified him.”

“Funny you’re so demure now,” Jasper said, baring his teeth. “When word from the triad is you’re like a bitch in heat for him.”

Anakin flushed florid and blotchy, heat rising so high in his face his eyes felt over warm and blurry. Through the bond Obi-Wan felt Anakin’s humiliation, blazing silver white with its intensity and carrying the acrid taste of bitter Jungun berries. He pressed on Anakin’s low back to pull him further into his side as he pushed cool soothing touches to his mind, as if rubbing a menthol balm into sunburned skin.

“We may be guests in the Lady’s home but speak to him like that again and I’ll break every bone in your hand one by one,” Obi-Wan said, Coruscant accent lilting and inflecting all false pleasantness and nicety.

Anakin willed away his embarrassment, releasing his anxieties to the force. Now was not the time to let his emotions control him, to let the words not meant for him incite such a reaction. He was not Flash Starkiller, and no matter he burned for Obi-Wan, had consumed himself in the fire of his own need since he was sixteen. Jasper Fortuna did not know of the times he fingered himself under the spray of water in their fresher through his Padawan years, thinking of Obi-Wan inside him, owning him. He did not know of how he clung to their bond with every aching heartbeat, desperate and kriffing terrified beyond articulation of losing him. He did not know of how achingly and all consumingly he wished to be Obi-Wan’s.

 A bitch in heat he may have been, but no one in the universe was privy to that knowledge and so he seized violent control of himself, boxing away the twisted and knotted ball of his emotions. Obi-Wan brushed wordless worry against him with the gentle caress of his mind. His former master always controlled how he fed his emotions into the bond far better than he did. He felt, deeply and passionately, despite his cool persona, but he reigned himself in, the living embodiment of passion yet peace. Anakin knew his own uncontrolled emotions left streaks of color and taste in Obi-Wan’s mind, though he kept too tight a reign of himself for the stimuli to be reciprocated.

But against the scalded mortification and sorrow of his own mind, like a lamp whose wick caught aflame and burned too bright and too fast, Obi-Wan pressed to him cool and sweet relief that carried the taste of honey and mint. The comfort lent him the fortification to plaster a self-satisfied smirk on his face.

“Don’t mind him, darling,” Anakin drawled. “We were thrown out of that club on Riosa when I sucked your cock on the dance floor, he may have a point.”

Obi-Wan’s hand on his back slid down so that he dug his fingers into Anakin’s sharp hipbone. “It was Bastatha,” he mildly replied.

In the end Lady Thalassa excused them to catch naps and refresh themselves for the gala that evening. “You three shall be the diamonds in my crown tonight,” she said with a wave. “This backwater must be shown the grand couturier of Coruscant.”

She clicked her tongue to summon the looming tall servant, her eyes going cool and assessing in the way it always did for the powerful when they were done pretending. “It seems the amenities we have provided for our guests are based on outdated knowledge; you will show these two gentlemen to a new room.”

When they opened the door of their suite their bags sat in the entryway even though they were supposedly moved in the time it took them to walk across the palace. Obi-Wan briefly regarded the large four poster bed which dominated a large swath of space in the bedroom and understood why their rooms were changed. At the thought he side eyed Anakin while he dumped a bag onto the bed and rifled through the bundles of black clothes. He still felt jittery through their bond, his force signature feeling flustered and equally shy.

Instinct demanded he reassure and ask after the well being of his padawan, but many long years of being Anakin’s friend also taught him the inquiry would only anger Anakin in this moment, when he already felt off centered and high tempered in the force. So he squirrelled away his worry and turned to his own bags.

“Fortuna’s presence here may be a problem,” said Anakin.

“Yes,” admitted Obi-Wan. “We are incredibly lucky he’s never met Ember or Flash in person. What do you know of the Fortuna family’s involvement with the Separatists?”

Anakin shrugged and laid out sheer black fabric which looked more like women’s lingerie than real clothes. “All I know is they’re notorious in the black market for human trafficking and illegal slave trading. They were known on Tatooine to deal Twi’leks to the Hutts. Do you think the Tarkins would be involved with something like that?” The muscle in his jaw bounced, teeth grinding at the thought.

“With how desperate they are to provide security forces for the Seswenna Sector? I wouldn’t be terribly surprised.”

Anakin hummed, the force curling tense and thoughtful between them. “We need to talk with Wilhuff tonight, discuss weapons trades with the Quintad.”

Obi-Wan nodded, feeling the anger raise its unruly head in Anakin’s force signature, uncurling like some great slothful creature of flame. This time he could not suppress his question of worry no matter how much he knew it annoyed him. “Are you alright?”

Anakin sighed and released some of his anger with the exhale, the creature lowering its head down to fall back into smoked wreathed sleep. “Fortuna being here puts me on edge, the thought that we have to worry about stopping slave trading along with weapons deals. The stakes just feel much higher than when I thought we were just stopping some rich assholes from making credits off Seps.”

“The stakes were always high when we can blockade weapons and resources from reaching the enemy.”

“Children, Obi-Wan,” he said softly. “They sell children to be fed as cannon fodder against us.”

He had no reassurances to offer him, no wise words to comfort the rage when Anakin’s horror came from personally lived trauma. In the many years between them, in all the many ways he knew to heal Anakin’s wounds or lend support and love when even that felt impossible, he had never known how to sooth this particular ache.

“I know, and we will stop them, I promise you.” In the end, he only had his loyalty to offer.

Anakin shoved a wave of warm devotion and gratitude through the bond and cast him a watery smile before he retreated to the fresher with a bundle of clothes. Obi-Wan sat on the edge of the bed in contemplative silence, the background noise of water and Anakin’s movements filling the bond. He scrolled through encrypted data on his padd, considering the many angles they needed to approach the Quintad from, although Jasper presented a unique wrench in their plans neither had anticipated.

Anakin emerged from the fresher in a cloud of steam and damp curls. He lifted his gaze to take in leather and tan skin clearly visible under the sheer black button down he wore tucked into his waistband. Obi-Wan blinked rapidly, eyes skipping like a pebble on water as his gaze followed the line of Anakin’s collarbones to the pink of his nipples and down the ridged line of his stomach. He flicked his gaze back up and blinked some more at the sight of Anakin’s kohl rimmed eyes and the delicate draping gold chain he wore from an ear cuff.

“I look like a lower level hooker,” said Anakin. “Are we sure we weren’t tricked with these wardrobes?”

Obi-Wan swallowed around the asteroid lodged high in his throat and wrenched his eyes away from his former padawan, even as Anakin’s earlier words came back to mind, when I sucked your cock on the dancefloor. Immediately after he felt a well of shame bubble up inside him. Anakin had squirmed in discomfort at even playing the part of the flirtatious and self-absorbed Flash Starkiller, who called himself pretty without care. Such things had always embarrassed him and sent him into fits of self-consciousness.

They were friends, once teacher and student, brothers, closer than lovers and above the pettiness and weakness of human wants. Anakin trusted him, depended on him, loved him; and oh, the betrayal he would feel if he knew Obi-Wan had sullied their bond and force ordained unity with something as low and degrading as lust.

But as he lifted his eyes back to Anakin’s face, to the smoky cast of his eyes and the pink sinuous line of his full lips, he dully acknowledged that Anakin would never know—could never know. For as much as Anakin was known in The Order for the depth of his attachments, perhaps Obi-Wan’s greatest secret was that in his heart of hearts, he knew himself just as unwilling to ever let Anakin part from him.

Chapter Text

Anakin lifted a crystal tumbler to his mouth, sipping carefully at Corellian brandy, which lit his lips and tongue, throat and then stomach aflame. He didn’t drink enough to have any sort of palate to tell the difference between what he drank now, and the usual swill he sometimes partook in on the lower levels. It all tasted like fire to him, though he’d bet his lightsaber Obi-Wan enjoyed the high credit liquor, even if he couldn’t feel his curling pleasure through their bond.

And oh what pleasure he did feel, twisting on itself in delight between them every time Obi-Wan lifted his own glass to his lips, delightedly holding the drink in his mouth before swallowing slowly, letting the mouthful of heat trickle past his tongue and down his throat. It left Anakin sweating in his sheer shirt, perspiration gathering in the crook of his elbows and at the nape of his neck to dampen and plaster curls to skin. Under his matching gloves, his flesh hand pulsed hot and damp in its encased leather.

His nerves felt singed, blistered and tested to their limit when he never conceived he needed to mentally fortify himself against this kind of burn. In the atmospheric candlelight, Obi-Wan glimmered, gorgeous and oblivious in his white and black costume.

“What a handsome couple you two make! Lady Thalassa told me you grew up together on Coruscant?”

Obi-Wan winked at him above the curve of his raised tumbler and turned his infamously charming grin on the woman batting her eyes at them. She came from the Valorum family, one of the representative cousins within the Quintad, distant relations to the previous Chancellor, Finis Valorum. The Valorums on Eriadu profited from several generations of starship production, earning their place within the quintad and at the gala tonight, even though their sources confirmed Wilhuff Tarkin might blast them off the face of the planet as readily as he entered trade agreements with them.

“You’re all flattery Lady Valorum, when we can all see I am blessed by the stars to have caught the eye of someone as beautiful as Flash.” Obi-Wan said, all teeth and dancing eyes.

Anakin took a sip of brandy to cover the flicker of his expression and then grinned around the fire behind his lips. “Don’t listen to him, he’s taken the greatest joy in embarrassing me since I was nine.”

Obi-Wan’s eyebrows lifted above his raised glass, the force singing with his delight. It made Anakin flush all the deeper, sweat pricking under his arms and at the hollow of his collarbones. Sweat glistened against his master’s throat as well, and at his temples where his newly cut hair fell rakishly over his forehead in a damp swath of auburn.

The crowded and dimly lit ballroom felt overstuffed with warm bodies, the air sticky and thick with perfumes and the overripe sweetness of liquor and wine. It lent an atmosphere of intimacy, gossiping socialites and elites gathered in tightly pressed circles to murmur and laugh with the kind of abandonment only found through the release of flirtatious and alcoholic intoxication.  

Lady Valorum laughed. “It must have been difficult to maintain such a romance, torn apart by rival families like you were?”

She giggled through the question, though Obi-Wan caught the inquisitive gleam to her eye. She fawned well enough, tittering with rosy cheeks and a crystal goblet half full of Twi’lek port, but there was no deception in the force, only the laid bare truth that she was stone cold sober and probing investigative questions, rather than nosy ones.

Through their bond, Anakin thrummed with barely restrained energy, his muscles held taught and at the ready for a fight. He felt the danger around them, oozing through the force viscous and dark, making the hairs on the backs of their necks stand on end. Someone watched them, or suspected, or held special attention or intentions for them, though the force was clouded and unclear.

But Obi-Wan felt the intent of Lady Valorum, and the imprint of another gaze behind them, watching them from across the ballroom. He stepped closer to Anakin and pressed his hand, gloved in black leather, against the damp curve of his low back. Although they held their bodies in poses of practiced ease, they gripped at opposite ends of the bond so tightly it felt as solid and tightly drawn as a durasteel coil, buzzing low in their ears with an electric current.

“Incredibly so, the Knight and Starkiller families have always been—ah, at each other’s throats shall we say?”

“You did almost take my head off with a blaster when I was fifteen,” Anakin cut in smoothly, lowering his coal smudged lashes to smirk at him. Obi-Wan flicked mental fingers his way, to which he responded with a warming roll of mirth through the bond that bubbled in his mouth like champagne.

“You deserved it you brat.” He turned to Lady Valorum with an earnest expression, still feeling the ever-present warnings of the force, curling around them like oil in water. “This little schutta threatened to sell me out to my family.”

“What ever for?” She simpered, eyes sharp and evaluating.

He felt Anakin’s barbed glee a heartbeat before he opened his mouth, long enough to steel himself against the vulgarity his former padawan often leapt to in situations like this, always trying to throw or disarm his enemies.

“He wouldn’t fuck me,” he said with a sharkish grin, falling to the filthiest outer rim curse he knew; far too profane for the company of a high-born lady, but perfectly in character of the mobster personas they wore tonight.

Oh Anakin. “You were fifteen,” he answered, letting exasperation and fondness color his voice, a tone he knew rather well.

He saw the interest in Lady Valorum’s eyes die out in a second, her opinion of them officially solidified. He credited her ability to make idle conversation for several more minutes until she finally excused herself, disappearing into the throng of compressed bodies. Anakin immediately stepped closer to him, so that he pressed into Obi-Wan’s side and their shoulders knocked.

“It’s Fortuna watching us,” he whispered.

Obi-Wan pulled him tighter into his side, murmuring around the rim of his lifted glass. “I have little doubt. Can you sense anything beyond that?”

He laughed. “I don’t need to sense, I can see him staring at us, has been for the last half hour.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “The Quintad meets soon, what are the odds we can keep the skulking predator at bay?”

Anakin threw back his head and laughed, as if Obi-Wan had said something riotously funny and laid a warm, gloved hand against his shoulder. A beat later the force shifted, the tension around them cinching tighter like a drawn bootlace in warning, and then Jasper Fortuna stepped into their intimate corner.

“Gentlemen,” he greeted, raising his glass in a salute.

Anakin sneered around his brandy and angled his body to press the long line of his chest into Obi-Wan’s side. Through the bond he felt Anakin moved unconsciously, his mind puffed up and quilled like an angry Loth-cat. The dislike he felt towards Fortuna was not Flash Starkiller, was not a subtlety of the part he played. No this felt personal, all hot-blooded disdain and the laser focus of all his biting emotions. Fortuna profited from slavery, his family’s success built from the foundations of trading living beings, and Anakin reserved a special deep hatred for slavers. Jedi did not hate, but Obi-Wan did not lecture him for this, could not condemn his scars and trauma which he fought everyday to help Anakin heal.

Perhaps the wounds would last a lifetime, perhaps this vein of darkness would always mar Anakin’s force signature, the hatred darkening his inner light. But the knowledge did not keep him from trying, did not hamper his quiet, everyday trod to tend the aching bruises of Anakin’s soul.

He wrapped an arm around Anakin, pressing a hand into his side, digging fingers into the grooves between his ribs, the heat of his flesh warm through his sheer shirt and the delicate leather of Obi-Wan’s glove.

But on the opposite end of the bond, behind the shuttered fortress of his shields, Anakin burned with dislike fed by the fuel of his earlier mortification. His thoughts laid with his urge to wrap his durasteel fingers around Fortuna’s neck and choke until blood vessels burst, especially if he kept looking at him like that, as if he were some whore or pleasure slave.

“Fortuna,” Obi-Wan answered easily, even as Anakin bristled in his hold, muscles flexing angrily in the slippery grip of his hand.

“You know, Flash,” Fortuna said, “you are nothing like I expected.”

“Oh to be another disappointment,” Anakin lilted. “Whatever would my father say?”

“Funny you mention him. You look nothing like him you know.”

The room stilled; all the air driven from both of their lungs. Even the force felt as if it wavered, taking a pause before the next breath. Obi-Wan felt the spike of adrenaline in Anakin’s veins, felt the surge of energy and will of the force gathering at his fingertips. They both itched to move for their saber hilts stashed in the legs of their boots, metal jammed against their inner calves and ever present.

But then Anakin laughed, breathy and high-pitched and flirtatious. “That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

Fortuna’s eyes glinted mean and pleased in the low light and Obi-Wan braced himself, pulling the force close to him in preparation, itching to lunge for his saber.

But the tension loosened its hold when Lady Thalassa appeared, draped in scarlet and glittering jewels. She stepped in between Anakin and Fortuna and laid a feather light hand against Fortuna’s arm and smiled graciously. “The Quintad is gathered, if the three of you are quite ready?”

The force palpably eased, or maybe their high-strung mental grips on the bond did; but either way Anakin’s muscles relaxed under Obi-Wan’s hand as they followed Lady Thalassa and Fortuna through the ballroom and into an even more dimly lit dining hall, where the Quintad sat at a long, low table, pouring drinks from crystal decanters and smoking tabac.

Lord Wilhuff sat at the head of the table, the other representatives of the five families surrounding him, the patriarchal head of the Mosbree clan, cousins from the Snopps family, Lord Omonda, and then Lady Valorum at the opposite end of the table.

“I’ve brought the triad of scoundrels,” Lady Thalassa said.

Obi-Wan arched his eyebrows as they sat, still with his hand on Anakin’s side, all the while Fortuna eyed them with the same dark glint in his eyes.

Lord Wilhuff lit a cigar and leaned back in his chair. “Our planet, and the manufacturing dynasties made by this Quintad have long offered goods of paramount importance to the Inner Core. My question is, when you contacted us, what do you believe you have to offer Eriadu in return?”

Fortuna immediately leaned forward in his seat, eager to speak, though Obi-Wan smoothly cut him off, as if the man were never there. “I beg your pardon, goods of paramount importance? I give you that your exports of droids and computer technology serve this sector, and certainly the outer rim, very well. But Coruscant is not the outer rim, admiral, and the Knight and Starkiller families have no interest in your—manufacturing or textiles.”

Anakin felt his exuberance through their bond, Obi-Wan’s excitement sparking and buoyant. His former master could deny his enjoyment of antagonizing others till he went as blue as a Twi’lik, but their bond did not lie, and the simple truth was that Obi-Wan Kenobi thrived off irritating his enemies as thoroughly as Anakin thrived off surprising them.

Lord Wilhuff’s eyes narrowed sharply and the entire table stilled. “Did you come to my home to insult me? The families of Eriadu have no use for the petty offerings from mob families,” he spat. “Do you think we are in such desperate need of Lommite, of spice and black-market goods far cheaper to obtain through the Hutts?”

“Oh?”

Anakin knew that tone, he should, after hearing it every time he irreversibly and galactically karked up during his padawan years. It was Obi-Wan’s playful interjection, to give his opponent a moment to reconsider, to realize they really kriffing stepped in it and should immediately disengage or retreat.

“I didn’t realize you were already receiving carbonite missiles and Sienar cloakers from the Hutts—well if that’s the case this really is embarrassing.” Obi-Wan dimpled a crooked grin. Anakin could taste his glee, as warming as the brandy he sipped.

Fortuna sneered. “You don’t have missiles and cloakers, as if the Knights or Starkillers had access to that kind of technology.”

Anakin laughed, sharp and mocking. “Oh, like the Fortunas don’t have access to the soldiers you so desperately want to offer?” Throwing out the accusation without any evidence to support his theory was the kind of off the cuff decision Obi-Wan usually sharply reprimanded him for. But the immediate fiery look in Fortuna’s eyes proved his whisperings through the force dead on.

Fortuna glared, his eyes darting between Lord Wilhuff and the two of them sitting pressed close together. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Oh I’m sorry,” Obi-Wan said in a plainly not sorry tone. “Did we ruin the surprise?” He turned back to Lord Wilhuff. “But if the great Tarkin family has already obtained such weapons and technology through the Hutts, who are we to presume on another trade agreement?”

Lady Valorum cleared her throat. “And why do you think the Quintad would need such illegal goods? What could we possibly need missiles and soldiers for when we fight for the Republic?”

Lord Wilhuff threw her a sharp look. “While the Lady speaks out of turn, I cannot help but agree. What does the triad possibly think we need such goods for? Or that we cannot produce our own weapons for that matter?”

“I didn’t realize we were ignoring the Separatist fleet parked in your outer sector. Was I mistaken in my understanding that you are supplying their troops in order to barter your own family and planet’s autonomy? A truly shocking turn of events—” Obi-Wan tutted, “when you fight for the Republic, admiral.”

By the sudden cold in the room, the force frozen over and still, Anakin thought Obi-Wan had gone too far and far overplayed his hand. Every member of the Quintad at the table looked ready to draw vibroblades and make moves for their throats. Beside them, Fortuna’s expression bounced between his own fury and grudging pleasure at Obi-Wan’s audacity.

Lord Wilhuff puffed on his cigar, brow furrowed though he said nothing for several long seconds. “You have no proof of this.”

“No? I really must tell my cousin stationed on the Invisible Hand only a parsec away that he is entirely misinformed. It couldn’t possibly be that he is in the Seswenna Sector.”

Several pairs of eyes flickered, furtively looking to the head of the table to await the admiral’s response.

He nodded, slowly. “And why would the triad stray so far from Coruscant to involve themselves in our messy business? It cannot possibly be worth the credits.”

It was Fortuna to answer. “The Senate have taken recent measures to restrict the trading of our goods within the Inner Core. Believe it or not, you are the easier answer at the moment.”

Anakin felt Obi-Wan’s annoyance through the force and set his own gloved hand over Obi-Wan’s hand still against his side. Obi-Wan threaded their fingers, brushing his mind with distracted fondness.

“Well yes, if you want to grossly simplify it,” Obi-Wan sniped in Fortuna’s direction. “Or rather, in a pinch the triad is known to supply the GAR with much needed supplies, when more traditional sources have been cut off by blockade or materials run short. It’s simple business, to sell your esteemed and highly valued Quintad weapons and soldiers, and what you do with those supplies after it leaves our warehouses is beyond my concern. But if those supplies were to reach the Confederacy of Independent Systems, well surely we must do our duty to the Republic and ramp up production to meet the higher needs of the GAR to stand against the threat.”

Lord Wilhuff sneered. “I should have guessed such dealings from the likes of your sort.”

Anakin scoffed. “Bold of you to act as if you have morals when you fight for the Republic and then sell weapons and soldiers for profit, just the same as us.”

“The trade is to protect this system when the Republic would do nothing,” gritted Wilhuff.

“Oh?” Anakin spit. “How selfless and brave of your family to make billions of credits, while not wanting to further burden the GAR.”

Obi-Wan raised his hand from Anakin’s side to squeeze his shoulder, visible to the others sitting at the table. “Enough, Flash.”

Fortuna braced his elbows on the table, lacing his fingers under his chin. “Starkiller is right, you have little room to act morally superior here, admiral. Either you want our weapons and men, or you have no need of us. What is your answer?”

Lord Wilhuff stubbed his cigar against a porcelain saucer and lifted his tumbler to swallow down two fingers of whiskey in a single long gulp. “The Quintad will trade with you.”

The conversation slanted to discussions of prices and the practical exchange of illegal goods, freighters and drop-off points and movements of funds to various outer rim accounts. Obi-Wan’s voice dipped into a deeper and deeper lilt, as sweet as honey, lulling the conversation into all pleasantries and false security. Even after a lifetime of knowing him, Anakin nearly missed his sly interjection to Fortuna, said off-hand as if merely a suggestion.

“Of course we could transport the weapons with your men, Fortuna, and eliminate separate shipments and consolidate our transaction to one exchange. You would oversee the transport and drop-off, as an act of good faith.”

Anakin felt suddenly overflowing with love for the man, practically brimming with thankfulness and affection so deeply entrenched it was inseparable from his force signature and the foundational core of him. If the council were to ever demand they break their bond he knew it would leave him shattered, as mentally broken as physical brain trauma could inflict on him. Because his love for Obi-Wan dug roots so deeply into him that he could not comprehend his own existence without it. His love made him Anakin Skywalker; Obi-Wan Kenobi made him who he was.

Without him, he knew himself to be incomplete, utterly imbalanced and unmoored, like a ship lost to the unknown regions. He knew the all-consuming nature of his love bore fear, because he did fear the loss of Obi-Wan, more than anything else in the world. But fear had no place in this moment, only unending love and gratefulness to a man who could save the lives of slaves for him in a single sentence.

Obi-Wan visibly jerked and Anakin felt his intent to lift his arm up through the bond before the muscles in his arm even shifted. A heartbeat later and Obi-Wan wrapped gloved fingers around the back of his neck in a tight, squeezing hold, even as he pushed his own affection and understanding against his mind.  Anakin’s eyes went perfectly round, cheeks going blotchy red as his lips parted on a silent exhale.

Obi-Wan turned his outward attentions back to Lord Wilhuff, though he kept the hold of his hand, warm and heavy, against the back of his neck. Within the embrace of the force he continued to lave Anakin’s mind with gentle strokes, which tasted of the everlasting sweetness and patience that was Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Anakin blinked rapidly, feeling like he might boil alive in his own skin. His hairline and shoulders felt suddenly damp with sweat, his cheeks seared with heat. Even from behind his shields, Obi-Wan felt some form of Anakin’s distress, though he could not know the source. In answer he tightened his hold, digging fingers into muscle and pressing fortitude and worry to him.

Anakin felt himself sway a little, even as his eyes fluttered, heavy lidded and scalded from the inside out, as if the living force within him might rupture into a supernova. He dazedly met Fortuna’s gaze, and tried to blink away the heat in his eyes. Fortuna arched one pale eyebrow at him, smirking.

Obi-Wan sensed the star of heat and light ready to denote in him, though Anakin felt he misunderstood the emotions, though as what he did not know. But in answer, as if he were afraid Anakin might stand or cause a scene at the table, with his palm still firm against his neck he twisted his fingers in the curls at his neck and tightened his fist.

A high reedy noise escaped his throat as he gasped out a single breathless, “master” barely audible as it fell from his lips.

Obi-Wan instantly lowered his hand while he rattled on about the raised prices of fuel and how transport costs would of course need to be higher and no the Quintad would pay extra if they expected the shipment within the next week. Anakin blinked, panting and dazed, feeling rather like the burned-out ashes of anthracite. He mistakenly lifted his eyes to meet Fortuna’s stare, who looked equally scandalized and intrigued, though the same darkness as before glinted back at him.

Eventually, Lord Wilhuff dismissed them, voice still disdainful around his newly lit cigar. “You and I will speak again in the morning, Knight. No, Fortuna, you stay, we have more to discuss about your men.”

Anakin followed Obi-Wan meekly out of the room, close on his heels and eyes planted firmly on his own boots.

“What was that?” Obi-Wan asked mildly.

Anakin still felt like a frenetic and frazzled storm cloud of light and energy, though he could not understand why his former padawan reacted to the negotiations the way he did. He recognized his dislike for Fortuna, though he did not think the third member of their little triad to be the problem, at least not in these regards.

“Not what you think,” Anakin shot back, blood high in his cheeks. “But that’s not the problem, Fortuna is going to double cross your collaboration deal and we’ll never catch the soldiers at the supposed drop-off point.”

“Obviously,” he shot right back. “That type of eel can never be trusted. That is why we are going to put a tracker on his data padd. We need to find his rooms, now.

Anakin’s eyes danced. “I can feel where we need to go, follow me.”

He darted after Anakin down the hall, following the lean lines of his running form, muscles of his back taught and visible under the sheer stretch of his shirt. They wound past the ballroom, still brimming with the sounds of a party in full swing, and stumbled past servants, laughing and cavorting, playing the roles of staggering drunks.

Anakin slumped against him, grinning and wobbled a too loud, “You did! I saw the way you looked at her you no good laser brain!”

They turned the corner and Anakin straightened in front of the third door on their left, only just down the hall from their own room.

“This is him; can you feel it?” Asked Anakin.

He did, the chiming sense of here, look here, whispering to him, though so faintly, without Anakin and the gold lit line of their bond, it would have gone unnoticed.

“Here,” he passed the tracker, smaller than his pinky nail, to Anakin. “You will be much faster than me.”

Anakin winked. “Back in a flash,” and disappeared into Fortuna’s room. Obi-Wan leaned against the wall just outside of the door, stretching his awareness to encompass the entire length of the hall. His thoughts again fell to Anakin’s strange behavior during the negotiations. Though he also considered the bombardment of love and affection Anakin practically clobbered him with, so devastatingly strong and heartfelt it nearly sent his head to the table. It never failed to humble him, the depth of their bond, and the limitless affection which Anakin gave to him so freely. He did not suffer the same self-consciousness over his emotions as he did other things, somehow so self-aware and Jedi like, and yet so very far from it in another ways.

A minute passed, and then two. Obi-Wan felt a presence nearing, coming dangerously close to rounding the corner of the hall. He tugged urgently on their bond and a passing second later Anakin yanked open the door and skittered out so quickly the soles of his boots skidded on the marble floor.

He realized in the same moment as Anakin, that they could not move across the hall and away from Fortuna’s door quickly enough. Their bond sang with the synchronous thought and Obi-Wan shoved Anakin against the wall.

“Uhh—” Anakin startled, even as their bond jumped in alarm, the force swelling with the cry of danger. Obi-Wan pressed him against marble, Anakin’s breaths coming quick and shallow, the rise and fall of his chest light and fluttery against him. He ducked his head and pressed his lips against the curved underside of Anakin’s jaw. He did not dare open his mouth, did not dare taste the salt of his skin, did not dare move from the press of them. Anakin wound his hands up Obi-Wan’s back and held the stretch of his shoulders with the press of painfully hard fingertips.

They stood like that for less than a second, a heartbeat, for less time than it took either of them to draw breath. But stars how the force sang, how it thrummed in his blood and loud in his ears, jubilant and pounding at him with the beat of his pulse.

A throat cleared. “I do hate to interrupt but, that is my room,” Jasper Fortuna said, dry as dust.

He pulled his mouth from Anakin’s skin and they both blinked at him, dazed. In the dim light and with his lids rimmed in kohl, Anakin’s dark eyes blinked sultry and slow. “Oh,” he said. “Is this not our room?”

They did not laugh until long after they escaped to their own room and were safely in bed, staring at the dark ceiling. Anakin broke first, the bed shaking with his silent laughter. In the complete black of the room it burst behind his eyes in yellow sparks and carried the visceral taste of Anakin’s favorite sweet from Coruscant, even though he had no name for the flavor, he knew this, as if the inherent knowledge of a dream.

He shook in his own silent laughter, the force flowering with pinpricks of light and joy between them. Quietness eventually settled and peace blanketed the room, Anakin’s presence almost immediately lulling him into sleep.

“I wasn’t angry,” said Anakin.

Obi-Wan blinked open heavy eyes and pondered the words, pondered the night. He strove, always, to understand Anakin, but often, no matter how he pushed himself past his comforts and conceptions, the man he called padawan and friend and brother, confounded him more than any other living thing in the universe.

“You were unsteady. I worried you might lose your temper.”

“I wasn’t angry,” he insisted. “I swear, I wasn’t going to do anything. I was—I was flustered.”

“Flustered?” He asked, fully awake now.

Anakin revealed embarrassment to him. “I—you—well, what Fortuna—said about me—and then you were—well, force master, don’t make me say it.”

Obi-Wan stared at the ceiling, dumfounded, and then he felt like an utter moron. “Oh, because I was holding your side, holding your neck.”

Anakin bled more embarrassment into the bond. “I was just flustered is all.”

He hadn’t felt flustered, he had felt as hot and sparking as a lightsaber, a kyber crystal ready to crack.

“I’m terribly sorry, padawan, I know you—I know sometimes things bother you from your time on Tatooine and I rather mucked it up and made it worse.”

“It has nothing to do with Tatooine, master,” Anakin said, all exasperation. “It’s because it was you.

He flushed, horrified beyond words and slammed up his shields to keep his instant terror and mortification from bombarding Anakin. “I—I’m terribly sorry, Anakin.”

Anakin huffed and the bed shifted as he rolled over to curl near Obi-Wan, close enough that his body heat warmed his side. “How can you be the smartest and yet the stupidest person I know?”

“Long exposure to you I’m sure.”

“Obi-Wan, you have always been very reserved. What I’m saying is that I was thrown because, well you barely hug anyone and then you just had your hands on me all night. I was flustered, but I’m trying to say I didn’t mind it.”

Force preserve him. “We need to work on the balance of your emotions.”

“I know,” Anakin said morosely. “There is no passion, only peace.”

“Entirely impossible with you, passion yet peace. I thought you were going to detonate, Anakin.”

He went sheepish in the force and shifted to lay a tentative hand against Obi-Wan’s arm. “I am sorry, master. I’ll do better next time.”

He pressed his own hand over Anakin’s, flesh to flesh for the first time tonight, finally rid of their leather gloves. “And I apologize for manhandling you about tonight. No matter what you say, I know you do not like being seen or talked about—in any way that reminds you of Tatooine, as if you could ever be property.”

Their bond stilled, and then thrummed as if Anakin plucked it, purposefully drawing attention to the permanent and singular cord between them, irreversible since Christophsis.

“In a way, we do belong to one another. You have never made me feel like that, master, and I do not believe you ever could. You will forever be my master, and I will forever be your padawan, just as we will forever be friends, forever be brothers.”

“I think,” Obi-Wan confessed. “I have carried this wariness since you lost your memories so long ago. When the healer called me your master, I saw the horror in you, and I do not think I could ever bear you looking at me like that ever again.”

 Anakin squeezed his hand. “You’re smarter than that, Obi-Wan. You are everything to me, and I do belong to you.”

Please, don’t say that,” he begged. “Anakin you cannot say such things.”

“Whether I say it or not changes nothing. It is you who are uncomfortable with the idea, not me.”

“How—how could you ever be alright with thinking such a thing, saying such a thing?” Obi-Wan knew that despite himself he oozed lost confusion into their bond.

Anakin answered his bewilderment with the same devotion and love as before, no less powerful or staggering than any other time he decided to open the dam of his emotions to the bond. “Because you have never failed me, and when the day comes that I give myself to the force, it will be with the same answer. Because you could never fail me.”

“I am human, Anakin. I have failed you, many times, and force know how many more times I will do so again.”

“No,” he said, a sudden vein of durasteel in his voice. “You are human, and you make mistakes, but you have never failed me. You are the best of the Jedi, the best there is.”

He sometimes wondered why and how he ever managed to earn the never-ending trust and devotion of a mistreated slave boy who lost his mother and home. After the force showed him the tempest of the world Anakin lived in, he often wondered how Anakin wrangled his power and stayed the course, to follow the light and tread his path as the chosen one. Anakin’s love shook his very foundations and stripped him of any pretense that he did not reciprocate the same consecrating devotion, though he did not understand why it was so freely and unrestrainedly given to him.

Bathed in the warmth of the other’s force signatures they fell asleep like that, curled into each other’s body heats and with one hand laid across the other.

Chapter Text

They were close, the force saw, to finding one another. The moment their collision occurs, it ripples through the fabric of the cosmos like the breaking of an atom. It is, quite simply, utterly magnificent. To combat the total darkness of the mortal called Sidious, balance and stability within the pair is tantamount to success, to balance within the force itself. The final destruction of the beings cloaked in its dark aspect hinges on the spark which ignites Skywalker’s powers to their true potential, to the vibrancy and strength of a celestial body gone nova. The spark has always been Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The force sees and feels their tectonic collision, their molecular and atomic break that erupts with the heat of a galactic sized solar flair. It is glorious, ordained, the perfect alignment of eternity’s very will.

But that blast of golden light twinkles like a star to the eyes of mortals, for it is the light from eons ago, which has only now reached the force’s notice. And yet, it is a premonition, a vision of a future full of hope and which foretells the eons to succeed it.

And further yet, eternity is only the present, one conscious deep breath, on and on and on. Eternity is this, the cataclysmic shatter point of the dyad. There are trillions of other shatter points that shine with similar light, which garners the special notice of the force and its gentle hand that guides all living things. The force is all, the foundation and molecular bricks of the universe, and it does not have favorites, but perhaps the story of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi receives just a little more patience than others, a little more meddling and attention.

And the force lays one final piece, breathes one final whisper into the Chosen One’s ear, and watches the twin pillars of their light go aflame.


Obi-Wan smirked into his porcelain teacup as Anakin grimaced and did the equivalent of sticking his tongue out in disgust through the bond. Anakin sipped from his own porcelain cup and couldn’t hide his dislike very well for the cloying and milky sweetness of his tea. Thankfully, Lady Thalassa did not notice Anakin’s curled lip and smiled over the rim of her own cup.

“And you’re very sure you would not want to stay longer? I didn’t expect to like you rascals, but I’ve found your company quite entertaining.”

Anakin shuddered through the bond as he took another sip and Obi-Wan nearly snorted tea out of his nose as he choked back a laugh. “We really do appreciate your hospitality, but we must get back to Coruscant to oversee the movement of our goods

She tutted and smoothed her skirts, then sat her cup on the saucer in her lap with a gentle clink. “I find your romance so invigorating, when I have little of it in my own life.” She glanced over to the stern figure of Lord Wilhuff, who stood in a tight circle of other members of the Quintad, speaking lowly and with drawn faces. Her expression drooped for a moment before she blinked it away and turned back to Obi-Wan and smiled. “I would say young love but considering your unique relationship I find your loyalty quite charming.”

Anakin leaned into Obi-Wan’s side and smiled, even as he still grimaced at the taste of the tea in his mouth through the bond. “Oh please continue, maybe if someone besides me harasses him he’ll finally propose.”

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes though his barbed reply was interrupted by Fortuna approaching their settee, holding two crystal glasses of liquor. He sat beside Lady Thalassa and offered out a glass to Anakin with a charming smile. “It may be a little unrefined to drink brandy this early, but you don’t look like the tea drinking sort.”

He raised his eyebrows when Anakin took the glass with a thanks and downed it in two long swallows. He smacked his lips and grimaced, “What kind of brandy was that?”

 They continued small talk while he tried not to watch his commlink on his wrist where he knew several urgent messages from Cody would blink at him. Both his commander and Rex woke them earlier in the morning with urgent updates from the fleet and they needed to make lightspeed as soon as possible, though neither of them could figure how to extract themselves from Lady Thalassa without seeming suspicious.

But as Lady Thalassa continued to prod them with questions about their relationship, Anakin shifted and rearranged himself. Only to do it again…and again. Obi-Wan arched a single eyebrow at him and he stilled, only to keep shifting after the briefest pause. Through their bond he absolutely squirmed, almost as if he itched uncontrollably. He shot Anakin bewilderment but instead of any normal response Anakin undammed his shields and unleashed a torrent of unhinged control, desperation and panic into the bond. His mind throbbed against his, florid and molten like a pulsing hot coal.

Obi-Wan jerked his chin to look at him and Anakin met his gaze with wide glassy eyes and an unhealthy ruddy flush staining his neck and cheeks. He looked feverish, though that didn’t account for how worried he felt through the force. Anakin reached over and dug painful fingers into the meat of Obi-Wan’s thigh and projected unhinged fear that made his own hands go numb and icy.

“We—I need to go,” Anakin breathed.

Obi-Wan leveled Fortuna an expression of pure fury and snatched the empty glass from Anakin’s durasteel grasp. “What did you give him?” He demanded.

Fortuna smirked into his brandy and crossed his legs with an air of lazy indifference. “Nothing sinister, Knight. Think of it as a—parting gift, a present for our brokered peace.” He winked at the end and downed the rest of his brandy with a self-satisfied smirk.

Sweat gathered under Anakin’s arms and in the small of his back, soaking into the layers of his long black jacket. Underneath the high collar of the coat, his curls stuck to damp skin and he felt choked by the rigid clothing, like a burning ember buried beneath ash so that the heat of him could find no escape. His skin felt suddenly tight and sore and the living force around them as violent and terrifyingly wild as a firestorm. He grasped at it with desperate mental fingers, clutching at any sense of balance and control, though in the deepest part of his mind he recognized this unhinged sense of freefalling from the darkest night of his life on Tatooine.

Obi-Wan grabbed the underside of his bicep and yanked him to stand, where he swayed and wavered as if drunk beyond measure. “What…did you give him?” He bit in a slow and dangerous tone that promised any kinds of danger if the question was not answered.

Fortuna’s expression slanted for a moment, the amusement in his eyes replaced with a dawning understanding that he had greatly miscalculated. He cleared his throat. “Triglobulin, it’s nontoxic and perfectly harmless, just—livens you up a bit.”

He jerked Anakin by the hold still on his arm, and he swayed easily with the movement. “Does this look perfectly harmless to you? Lady Thalassa I thank you and your husband for your hospitality, rest assured the Quintad will have their shipments as we agreed. We are leaving now.”

Anakin stumbled behind him, led out of the room by Obi-Wan’s durasteel grip on his arm. He felt like a ship’s overheated engine, a powerful and intricate machine shifted out of hyperspace and his force signature, the reactor within him, ready to blow. It made him ache as if his entire body was one pulled muscle and his vision swam with sparking white and black dots.

“Obi-Wan,” he gasped, “something is—something is terribly wrong.”

Obi-Wan tried to soothe him through the force, the brush of his much cooler side of the bond like bacta to the molten core of him. “I know, stay here with me, Anakin, do not drift, stay in the present.”

“The present,” Anakin gritted, “is the problem.”

Obi-Wan drug his stumbling body through the halls and to their room to gather their bags, before he shoved him back out the door and further through the palace. Anakin followed his movements like a limp doll, sweat plastering his hair to his forehead and soaking the collar and lining of his jacket. Obi-Wan radiated worry when he brokered no complaints at the manhandling, and his worry only deepened when Anakin fell into the copilot’s seat without a word.

“I can feel how the force is for you, but how do you feel besides that?”

Anakin panted, open-mouthed and head tilted towards the ceiling. Obi-Wan felt the oddest heat building in his force signature, not quite feverish, but oversaturated and brimming through their connection. “Overstimulated, jittery, sore—like I’ve been electrocuted. Obi-Wan I—” his voice broke, “I don’t have any control, the force feels—”

“I know.” He squeezed Anakin’s shoulder and pushed down his own worry. “Stay anchored to me, Anakin. I’m right here, I have you.”

Anakin squeezed his eyes shut and pulled back his lips to grit his teeth. “There’s—there’s something else I—”

True panic fluttered in his veins now at the tears Anakin held back and choked down in his voice. He barely kept his attention on guiding their ship into a hyperlane and shifted them into lightspeed, the stars outside of the viewport bleeding into arcs of blue light. He toggled switches to give the controls to the automated systems and swiveled his boots to face Anakin in the seat beside him. “Anakin—Anakin tell me what else is wrong.”

Anakin panted quietly and then cracked his eyes open with a groan. He licked suddenly dry lips and eyed Obi-Wan, embarrassment and marrow deep shame flooding the bond. “It’s an aphrodisiac—Obi-Wan I—” he broke off on a choked down sob.

He curled fingers around Anakin’s durasteel hand and squeezed, brushing his ever sweet and soothing force signature against the ash heap of his own mind. “Alright—you’re going to be perfectly alright,” he lifted his commlink to his mouth, “Commander Cody?”

“General Kenobi, we’re very glad to hear from you sir, we were beginning to worry.”

Obi-Wan squeezed Anakin’s hand in an even tighter grip when he couldn’t hold back a pained groan, the ache in his skin and the pressure in his gut building to a painful throb.

“Anakin and I are on our way to the fleet. Give me the updates.”

“We’ve rendezvoused with the 501st under the temporary command of acting General Tano, sir. We tried to stall engagement but the Seps were hungry for an altercation. Commander Rex is currently leading a ground assault with a 501st regiment on Toydaria near their capital where the enemy attacked the natives.”

“Do we know how the Separatists learned of Toydaria’s breach of their neutrality?”

“King Katuunkko informed us one of their relief freighters was apprehended.”

Anakin shuddered in his seat and swallowed down the cry building in his throat, feeling as if he could peel his skin from the frame of his body and slip out of his own flesh. Obi-Wan surged calm and protective concern over him, wrapping the writhing storm of his force signature in the comfort of his own.

“Understood, proceed with tactical assaults but refrain from destroyer engagement if at all possible. And Cody—I need information on a drug or poison called Triglobulin.”

The comm fizzled with silence and Obi-Wan reached out to jerk Anakin’s chin towards him. He blinked blearily, flushed and eyes rolling back before he jerked to refocus on him. “Master,” he whispered, “I can’t—it’s like Tatooine—I can’t control—”

Obi-Wan squinted at him, his hand still firmly holding his chin so he could look him directly in the eye. “Like what on Tatooine?”

He jerked, his eyes rolling back again. Obi-Wan shook him, his fingers extending to press into Anakin’s jaw so he could swivel his head side to side. “Anakin, what are you talking about? What happened on Tatooine?” He groaned and a lancing agony echoed through their bond, piercingly sharp, though it was emotional pain which caused them both to gasp, not physical.

Cody’s voice blipped back over the comm. “It’s a biochemical substance produced from the Axanar zymuth gland, sir. It’s biologically similar to human lymphatic fluid and sold on the black market as an aphrodisiac. It’s not very popular amongst humanoid species, looks like homo sapiens’ metabolisms burn through the chemical compound rather quickly.”

“How long and how severe are the effects?”

“Let’s see, increased blood flow, unusually high brain activity, dilated receptors, dilated synapses, lack of coordination and other symptoms similar to inebriation. It shouldn’t last more than a few hours. Ahh—but sir.”

“What is it, Cody?”

Anakin arched his back from his seat and hissed, sharp pain and discomfort surging through their connection. Obi-Wan hushed him, letting go of his jaw to drag a soothing hand down his shoulder and arm.

“There’s a note on the compound from the Jedi archives, says it reacts quite poorly to force sensitives and, hold on—quote, opens the brain’s pathways to the user’s connection to the force and destroys balance and control. Sir, are you alright?”

“Perfectly fine, Cody, I’m afraid it’s Anakin suffering at the moment. Is it safe to give him a sedative?”

“From a medical standpoint, it could make the effects longer lasting if his metabolism slows, but it says nothing in the files, sir.”

“Thank you, Cody. We’ll see you in a few hours.”

“Yes General”

Obi-Wan stood after the commlink’s connection broke and Anakin jerked his hand out to wrap durasteel fingers in his tunic, panic lighting his eyes wild and afraid. “Where are you going?”

Obi-Wan brushed his fingers over his forehead, wiping sweat drenched hair out of his eyes. Quietly, so soft it was almost unnoticeable buried beneath their mutual panic and Anakin’s throbbing pain, gentle affection uncurled between them, raw and heartfelt even in the turmoil of their situation.

“I’m just going to find the medkit and give you a sedative so you can sleep through this.”

He nodded, stiffly, and sank back into the copilot’s chair as Obi-Wan disappeared into the back of the ship. The moment he left sight Anakin jerked his flesh hand down to press the heel of his palm against the agonizing erection, thankfully well hidden under the knee length folds of his black jacket and the thick, combat grade fabric of his pants. The pressure did nothing but make his stomach clench painfully, and he dug his palm harder against himself until a different pain from the ache in his balls and low in his abdomen bit at his senses.

He wrenched his hand back to his side as Obi-Wan entered the cabin with a syringe and a grim face. “Anakin, I will be right here with you. You can hold onto me through the bond. Everything is going to be alright.”

He wrapped clammy fingers around Obi-Wan’s arm at the sting of the needle in his leg and bit from behind grinding teeth. “I know, master.”

And then he slurred something indecipherable and slumped unconscious, his stranglehold on the force and their bond loosening through the cabin. Obi-Wan rocked back on his heels and sighed in relief, the piercing tension headache which had been building behind his eyes easing with the feeling of Anakin’s pain dissipating.

He sat back in the pilot’s chair and rubbed at his eyes, gentling his force signature against Anakin’s, which still felt sparking hot and singed as if he had grabbed a live wire. He sighed and glanced to him, who breathed deeply through parted lips and furrowed his brow in sleep, still obviously in pain or discomfort. Of all the ridiculous and force forsaken scenarios for them to wind up in. He knew Anakin’s delicate hold on the tempest of the living force inside of him. He had felt it, intimately, the raw power and charged life brimming within his veins.

Even after years of living inside of each other’s back pockets, of thousands of hours of training, and hundreds of shared meditations, and a constant connection through the force, even after literally melding into one unbreakable force signature and feeling Anakin’s blood pump through his heart, the uncontrollable strength of him managed to awe him.

Even sedated and drugged out of his mind the force pulled taught around him, ebbing and flowing with his pulse as if it only moved by his command. It worried him, sometimes, this thoughtless power Anakin wielded on the world around him when his sanity sometimes seemed to hang by a thread. It worried him even more now. What happened on Tatooine?

He closed his eyes and let his head fall back to the seat, their bond droning around him as if he held a shell to his ear. It eased him, the gentle pull and tug lapping at his mind so that he opened himself further to it, opened himself further to the tide of Anakin’s mind. Between one heartbeat and the next, it lulled him into a doze.

In his mind’s eye, he knew he stood on the command deck of the Resolute, though it looked nothing like it, in the peculiar way dreams work.  The edges of his vision were soft and hazy, and no matter how hard he concentrated he couldn’t comprehend if he saw color or not, or why the ship’s long hallways stretched an eternity and narrowed so that he stooped in their tight confines. He came to walk the length of the command deck until it became the Jedi temple, though it too, looked nothing like the actual temple.

A breathy voice moaned in his ear, “Master—master pleaseeeee.

He spun and spun, confused and lost until he noticed, somehow right in front of him, Anakin shoved against a wall, pinned by his doppelganger. But he must have been confused, because he blinked and he realized he had Anakin pinned against the wall, with his lips open against the underside of his jaw and his hips pressing him against the durasteel.

Oh force how he ached. His cock throbbed, trapped between them and Anakin moaned as if he knew this, rocking his hips to grind them together. He trailed open mouthed kisses down his neck, but Anakin wrapped fingers in his hair to lift his head so that their mouths met, hazy and unfocused in his mind.

“You’re dreaming,” he muttered against Anakin’s mouth. And he knew they were, because he could not smell Anakin’s scent, could not taste his mouth, and the press of their cocks brought no relief, only a deeper ache low in his core.

Anakin bit at his lips and dug fingers in his shoulders so that he could wrap long legs around his hips. Obi-Wan lifted him to further press him into the wall, though he could have easily held his dream-weightless body against him with one hand. “I know,” he breathed, “fuck me, Obi-Wan. Stars, please fuck me.”

He gasped, open mouthed against Anakin’s jaw and dug teeth into him. Anakin keened, though in this dreamed mental scape he could not have actually felt the pressure, only the intent behind it.

Obi-Wan!”

“I know, dear one,” he murmured against his lips.

And then he fucked him, or at least, he knew in his mind’s eye that he pressed his cock into him where he held Anakin against the wall. But he felt no relief, no warmth or pressure, only lust as Anakin sobbed against his mouth and writhed to create some kind of friction which could not be achieved here.

“Please Obi-Wan, please.

He rocked into him and ached, and pressed kisses to his tasteless skin, and held the body of the man he loved but couldn’t actually feel. But he could hear Anakin’s gasps and the way he begged, in that soft and lilting voice, the way his mouth said his name, like a prayer. But it was the way his voice broke on the word master that surged the deepest jolt of want through him. There was no room for shame here for that.

“Please Master.”

He thrust and thrust, but no relief came, and Anakin continued to breathe pleas in his high, shaken voice.

“Force—I need you; I need you inside me.”

“I am, dear one.” But when he thrust his hips forward Anakin arched into it and moaned as if he felt it, as if he could actually feel Obi-Wan’s cock inside of him.

He groaned and sunk his teeth into Anakin’s shoulder and bit as hard as he could, but no matter how hard he worked to clench his jaw he could do no more than press his lips to his skin.

Master!”

He jolted forward in his seat, knees colliding with the controls panel. The navigation system trilled through the cabin, alerting him they were dropping out of lightspeed. Obi-Wan rubbed discombobulated sleep from his eyes and flipped off the autopilot to transition power to the sublight engines. He shifted, still achingly hard and he realized with mortification, that he had leaked precome into his pants where they stuck to him damp and uncomfortable.

He brushed aside the bone deep embarrassment wanting to take over his entire mind. Anakin was drugged and his mental shields gapingly open, and his own mind responded to Obi-Wan’s presence because of it. It did not justify his own willingness, but even he was not self-hating enough to think he could control the blurry imaginings thought up when asleep. He had dreamt of Anakin often in the past year, but never in Anakin’s own mind. But they faced immediate battle, and now was not the time to dwell on these things. He released his anxieties and calmed his mind, focusing on the tasks at hand.

Anakin’s calm and unconscious force signature offered him a still, strange peace in their ship. It felt cooler and far calmer than it did in most waking moments. Even in meditation, Anakin so rarely achieved what the Jedi considered true calm. But here, in sleep, it brushed against him with the sweetest tenderness.

It struck him then, with shocking clairvoyance, that Anakin cared for him as more than a brother, more than a friend. He could explain away Anakin’s dream with the drug, but in the face of so many other things, he could not explain away this quiet and ever present devotion that had been a part of Anakin’s force signature so long Obi-Wan could not remember how it felt to him before it. It stunned him so, a kick to the solar plexus couldn’t have driven the air more thoroughly from his lungs. But it wasn’t the time, and perhaps it never would be.

He could not tell Anakin he reciprocated the emotions. What purpose did it serve beyond deepening their longing, to know the devotion was returned? They swore an oath to the order and their loyalties laid with the Jedi, with protecting the Republic during this war. He could never ask Anakin to leave the order for him, when he had wanted nothing more his entire life, than to be a Jedi knight, to be a master and be respected and recognized for his talents. Leaving the Jedi could only drag Anakin into darkness, and so he would say nothing.

He did not wake Anakin until the view of Toydaria and the fleet filled their shields and he pressed forward on the ship’s yoke to guide their docking procedures. He prodded him through their bond, perhaps too harshly, for Anakin wrenched forward with a garbled sound, and smacked his own knees against the controls panel.

“What’s wrong?” He demanded, taking in the sight of the Negotiator as they drew close to its side port to dock. He blinked and then folded forward to brace his elbows on his knees and rest his forehead in his open palms. “Ughh, I feel like I’ve been beaten with a rock.”

“Do you remember everything alright?”

Anakin lifted his head to squint at Obi-Wan, taking in the sharp lines of his own black jacket and the way his hair fell forward into his eyes from where it was supposed to be slicked back with product. Sure, he remembered being drugged like a karking moron and having to tell Obi-Wan it was an aphrodisiac and then—sithspit—almost telling him about Tatooine. He remembered dreaming of him too, though the specifics beyond being pinned to a wall and begging evaded him.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m sorry master, I don’t know why I took that drink from Fortuna.”

“Well,” Obi-Wan’s lips twisted wryly as their ship juddered, fully docked. “You couldn’t have known he was going to dose you with a sex drug. How are you feeling?”

He shook out his limbs when they stood, feeling as wrung out and shaky as if he had spent their trip in the fresher puking his guts up. “Weak, but in control at least.”

Obi-Wan nodded as they descended the docking ramp. “Good, but don’t think for a second you’ll evade telling me about Tatooine.”

Anakin blanched and their bond went odd and staticky with his instant terror before he managed to throw hasty shields over his emotions. Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes at him but was interrupted by Cody half jogging to them in the hangar, brushing past other troopers who sprang out of his way to snap smart salutes.

“Generals, it’s good to see you two. How are you feeling General Skywalker?”

Anakin flushed. “Much better, commander, thank you.”

“I’m afraid ground assault has taken a bad turn. Commander Rex hailed us ten minutes ago requesting reinforcements. The seps have an entire regiment pinned with armored assault tanks and an unreported number of droids but—sir, they’re terribly outnumbered, it doesn’t look good.”

Obi-Wan clapped him on the back. “Lucky we arrived with impeccable timing then. Anakin and I will lead a 212th regiment, you and acting General Tano will continue your stations in the fleet. If the Separatists are throwing that much power on the ground, they are sure reinforcements are coming and we must be sure none of their destroyers are able to deploy troops past sub orbital.”

“Yes sir”

They stopped in the hanger and Obi-Wan still held his hand on Cody’s shoulder, with a drawn and weary expression. “Commander this is the Separatists’ first move for the Mid Rim; we cannot give ground here. Choose your regiment to send planetside, Anakin and I will convene with the men in the transporters. And Cody—”

“Yes sir?”

“May the force be with you.”

“And may the force be with you, generals.”


Anakin held an overhanging balancing strap as their transporter shook, descending through orbit and into the planet’s sub atmosphere. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

“I know,” Obi-Wan stroked his stubbled jaw, a faraway look in his eyes. “I do to.”

Anakin eyed him, and an odd, melancholy notion unfurled within him, a delicate bloom of sadness. “Master I—”

Obi-Wan turned his full attention on him and he felt caught by his light blue eyes, pinned like a bug in a glass.

“I’ll tell you about Tatooine after the battle.”

He nodded slowly, and their bond went tense, unsure. “This is about your mother, isn’t it?”

“You know it is.”

“Then after the battle.”

The transporter shook and they landed just outside of the capital, though Rex reported through distorted comms that their regiment had been pushed back towards the city, bottle-necked and caught between the skyscrapers and wreckage. Anakin descended the ramp and shielded how his legs shook with fatigue from their bond.

Obi-Wan cut him a sharp look anyway as the other transporters landed and the regiment swarmed down the ramps to step into lined formation as best they could between the obstacles of exploded tanks, eviscerated battle droids, and downed troopers.

“You would tell me if you didn’t feel strong enough for this?”

“I’m perfectly fine, Obi-Wan, only burning off the last of the sedative.”

He nodded and turned back to their troops, brushing against him through the force with absentminded affection.

They swept through the streets and followed the distant thunder of tank fire and blaster cannons, which lit the horizon hazy and orange. The separatists’ at least did not have shields here, unlike the nightmare on Christophsis, and they engaged the enemy forces from the rear, sandwiching the thousands and thousands of droids and tanks between their regiment and, hopefully, Rex and the 501st regiment on the opposite side of the city.

He unclipped his saber from his belt, forced his hand not to shake, and dove into the fray with a pillar of light and Obi-Wan by his side. They worked their way to the center of the city, cutting through droids like water. The tanks were their real goal.

“Rex,” Anakin yelled into his commlink, ignoring how his fist shook with fatigue simply from raising it to his mouth. “Make sure the men are as cleared from that central battalion of tanks as they can possibly get, Obi-Wan and I are going to blow them sky high.”

“You got it,” Rex answered, sounding extremely chipper given the situation.

Obi-Wan pressed soft fingertips against his elbow, worry written clear in the blue of his eyes. “Anakin, you’re shaking.”

“Just the adrenaline, master. Come on, we have to reach those tanks.”

But the closer they pressed, the thicker and more concentrated the droids became, tightly packed in durasteel walls and reigning blaster fire on their advancing ranks. He spun his saber in a constant circle of blue light, warding off the fire from the men directly behind him, and Obi-Wan did the same in a dazzling arc of cerulean and white sparks of thwarted blasters.

His shoulders and arms ached when they shouldn’t this early into the battle and his knees might as well been made from Corellian jelly. That kriffing drug had done something to him, beyond its initial fire and destruction of his control. His limbs didn’t feel right, almost disconnected from what his brain urged them to do. In the back of his mind panic clawed its way forward, and he wondered if it had done something to his neural pathways, permanently damaged his receptors or misaligned something in his head like a faulty engine.

But he didn’t have time to dwell, and he smartly snapped his arm out to deflect a stray bolt from finding its target in Obi-Wan, the fire hissing down the length of his blade with worrying strength. He dropped his saber to his side the moment it defused and gritted his teeth against the ache in his arm, the hurt which thrummed through his skin and into his muscles and bones.

Obi-Wan shoved worry through the force, quickly followed by a gentle reprimand, a wordless reminder to pay attention. He did, devoting every iota of his strength and faculties to warding off any blaster fire which could reach the Jedi beside him, and cutting down any battle droid in their way. They reached the tanks and Anakin took a handful of grenades from the trooper behind him and he vaulted himself to the turret gun closest to him, though his feet slipped from the shaking of his legs, and he barely made the landing.

He pulled the force tight around him to shield himself from blaster fire and the world went quiet and muffled, the ear-splitting sounds of battle falling away to his momentary bubble of peace on top of the tank. He pulled the pin with his teeth, dropped the grenade and leapt to the next tank, where he pulled a pin, dropped the grenade and continued on. Behind him he felt the heat wave of the explosions, even through the protection of the force.

It sang in his veins and thrummed in his fingertips, high and euphoric to be called to full attention. So little from everyday life required his absolute attention of the force, not when he sloshed overfull of power. But on the battlefield, amidst the smoking wreckage and flashing lights of blaster fire, adrenaline and relief coursed through him when he could finally stretch himself to dredge up everything within him, to push himself to his limit.

But even though the force ran hot and charged across his skin, his limbs still shook, and he labored to breath properly, body exhausted and weak as a lothkitten. But he could collapse later and be drug to a bacta tank for Obi-Wan to yell at his recklessness, for now he had one goal, to put one foot in front of the other so they could cut an open path to his men, to the 501st.

He pulled the last pin and tossed the grenade, but his hands shook, and it bounced off the head of a droid poking its head from the top of the tank to roll back to his feet. He had only a moment to take in the sound of the droid shrieking an alarmed ‘woahhhhh’ before the force went ice cold and then the world exploded into nothing but heat and pain.

He felt the force of the explosion throw him off the tank and he flailed through midair before colliding with something that tore such white, blazing agony through his back and into his chest.

“AHHH!”

Anakin thought it was him screaming, but the pain muted to a hazy throb and he felt entirely disconnected from his body, from the jagged shard of warped metal protruding from his chest. He knew that the blood soaking his tunic and flooding from under his chest plate meant the very opposite of good, but his worry felt an entire parsec away.

He knew he should worry when he struggled to inhale, could barely draw breath into his lungs that he, in the very farthest parts of his mind, recognized were probably punctured. But for once in his life, he had no room for fear inside. The beast of flame and terror which always reared its ugly head to snarl and snap like a cornered animal did not surge with life inside him. Anakin felt nothing but a sudden and all-encompassing peace.

The force cradled him in its loving hands and whispered in his ear that everything would be alright. It had never lied to him before. And even though he shuddered to breathe, and his face felt terribly cold and he gagged on copper climbing up his throat to fill his mouth and pool past his lips, he felt nothing but peace.

But through the peace, absolute agony rent through him. Pain, so much pain, but not his own.

Obi-Wan collapsed beside him and wailed, hovering hands over his chest though there was no way to staunch the bleeding when the metal spike still twisted through his chest.

“Anakin! Oh force Anakin!”

He lifted his hand to him, or at least he tried, but his fingers only twitched limply by his side. “It’s alright,” he muttered dimly, “everything is going to be alrigh’.”

Obi-Wan knelt by Anakin’s slumped body, which half leaned against the wreckage of a decimated tank. A gut turning spike of twisted plate jutted from Anakin’s chest and his tunics gushed scarlet with bubbling pooled blood. More blood dribbled from his blue tinged mouth, dark and thick and clotted.

No matter how desperately he grasped for it, the terror filling his body with ice kept the force from him. Anakin felt distant and smudged to him, the brilliant light of his force signature dimmed to a flicker. In all his years, in all the battles he faced, even as a boy when his own master was killed and he faced a sith lord, Obi-Wan Kenobi had never faced such all-consuming terror.

He reached a shaking hand to his mouth and spoke wavering words into his commlink. “I need an emergency evac team to my location now. General Skywalker is down.”

He coughed and a string of blood drooled from his mouth. Obi-Wan jerked forward and cupped his face gently between his hands. “Anakin look at me. I’m here with you. I’m here. I’m going to get you out of here.” Raw and festering fear sprouted in their bond and Obi-Wan pulled at Anakin’s dimming force signature, his throat aching and tight with unshed tears.

Anakin did lift a hand then, wavering and weak, before he held blood smeared fingers against Obi-Wan’s cheek. “It’s alright, master. It’s the—” he slurred, “will of the force.”

Such grief as neither had ever felt spilled between them. It left him breathless, or maybe he felt Anakin’s physical pain through the bond. But this kind of pain lacked definition, some hurts are beyond words. Obi-Wan pressed his forehead to Anakin’s and wept.

Anakin cooed to him; his fingers still pressed against his cheek. “Please don’t cry, master. The force is with us, always.”

“I can’t lose you!” He cried.

“Master Yoda would be—would be terribly disappointed in you,” he gurgled out a wet laugh. “I will be with you, master—always.”

“But it is not your time,” Obi-Wan wept, his forehead still pressed tenderly to Anakin’s. “You cannot leave me here alone.”

“I’m sorry, master,” Anakin swept his bloodstained fingers across his cheek to cradle his face in a shaking hand and then said. “I love you.”

Obi-Wan shook and drew back to meet Anakin’s hazy eyes. But still he felt no fear, even as he spoke the words he had kept stuffed deep and hidden for so many years. Perhaps it was selfish, to know he didn’t have to fear because he had no repercussions to face when any of his next breaths were probably his last. He only felt the force’s calm and the same knowing peace. And maybe it was cruel to laden Obi-Wan with the knowledge of his love, to leave him with guilt for thinking he had encouraged or fostered his feelings. But he could not die with the secret, could not die with Obi-Wan thinking he wouldn’t have sacrificed himself a thousand times over to protect him.

But then Obi-Wan bent his head and pressed his lips to Anakin’s blood smeared mouth. The force jolted, white-bright and shocked through their bond.

He pulled back, gently cradling Anakin’s head and with heartbreak written across his face he said, “And I love you.”

In the force, the golden lit thread of them sang its synchronous, mournful song.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan felt the light of Anakin’s force signature darkening like a sunset, felt the heat of his mind pressed against his through their bond, cooling and gentling to a whisper. He wheezed with more blood bubbling past his teeth and tears brimming in his wide eyes. “You love me?” He gasped out, with hardly any breath left in his lungs.

“I do,” Obi-Wan sobbed, “force help me I do.”

A gentle hand pulled him back and he glanced up to see one of Anakin’s men, Kix, he thought vaguely.

“Alright general, you can rest, sir, we have him.”

Obi-Wan collapsed back and let the medical team crouch around Anakin, who grinned at Kix with red stained teeth.

Kix shook his head, “Oh sir, what have you gotten yourself into?”

Obi-Wan pulled desperately on their bond, clutching at Anakin through the force, pawing at his lukewarm signature with blind, unhinged desperation. And he continued to hold on, his mind aching with grief and shock, even as the medical team cut the lance of metal from the tank, even as they rushed him to a transport and he forced himself to turn his back on him to return to their troops. The constant thread of him, dark and hazy in the back of his mind, was the only thing giving him strength to finish off the tanks and join with the 501st.

Rex turned to him after they dispatched the last of the droids, voice confused even through the filter on his helmet. “Where is General Skywalker, sir?”

He asked the force to give him strength, to lend him whatever it would so that he may continue to put one boot in front of the other. He felt emptied of all warmth and light, his chest some cold and hollow thing where his heart rattled loose and numb.

“On the Negotiator, he was wounded, medical are—” He blinked against the sudden tears blurring his vision and took a shaking breath. “Medical has him,” he finally said.

They worked to load all of the wounded men onto the transporters and he moved through a haze, even the force feeling muted and far away. Rex kept casting him side glances, as if he thought Obi-Wan might shatter apart beside him. It was a fair worry, when he felt his ribs might buckle under the weight of the unfathomable terror that lived in him, that at any moment the cobweb of their faded bond might flutter away entirely.

His comm chirped. “General Kenobi,” Cody’s voice filtered from his wrist.

“Yes commander?”

“General Skywalker has been stabilized, sir. Kix wanted to personally let you know he’s in a bacta tank and will live.”

He went to his knees, wet grass soaking through the linen of his pants.

“General Kenobi?”

“I—thank you, Commander. Captain Rex and I will be off planet within the hour—tell—please tell Kix of my deepest thanks.”

“Of course sir.”

He let himself breath, and shook on his knees, shuddering through a relief so profound he felt unmade by it, gutted open and his organs burnt to ash, only to be sewn back up and his pulse still somehow beating through it.

Rex crouched beside him with a bleak expression, face drawn and gray. “General Skywalker is he—?”

“He’s alive,” Obi-Wan gasped, “he’s alive.”


In his drug hazed dreams, he felt the pull of the many starburst lights of force signatures around him, floating through the blackness of space and twinkling with their warmth. He felt the spark of Ahsoka from the Resolute, snappish and sharp even in the force.

 Master?

I’m here.

We thought you were dead. I’ve never been so karking afraid.

It’s alright, padawan, I’m alright.

And he continued to drift, touching the ripples of light from other signatures he did not recognize, but who returned his gentle and curious prods with their own warm answers. And he extended further, washing through an endless wave of sounds that overlaid into a universe of music. But the stars of light went dim and then dark, though he still felt the draw of some far distant and foreign presence, cold and menacing.

Have you come to me, my apprentice?

The cold did not frighten him, but its absolution of darkness felt wrong all the same, its malicious attentions unwanted.

No, who are you?

Your rightful master.

You are not, my rightful master is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

He drew away from the darkness and found the warmest light, the star which burned the brightest to him, full of love and goodness. It laughed in his mind, teasing and flirtatious.

You’re drifting, dear one.

I know, but I came back to you.

You did and I am so grateful, my love, I could not bear losing you so young.

You can’t lose me, master, I’m yours.

The star burned hotter against him, possessive, but still oh so loving.

You are.

Will you kiss me when I see you?

The star curled mischievous and pleased in his mind.

Oh Anakin, I’ll do more than that.

He drifted on, lost in the tides of the cosmic force, the stars of light and their conversations already forgotten.


“You can’t take it back,” was the first thing Anakin said a week later. He laid on a med table, so deathly pale he looked blue, still covered in gelatinous bacta slime. He shivered violently, completely exposed to the icy recycled air of the medbay, in nothing but a pair of standard trooper shorts.

He wiped strings of dark hair from his face and glared at Obi-Wan standing stoically by his beside. “I mean it, you hear me? You can’t take it back.”

Anakin,” his eyes darted to the medical team taking his vitals and wiping bacta from his frozen limbs, “this is a conversation to be had later.”

His bones still ached and his chest spasmed under the pink jagged line of his scar as he sat and grasped at Obi-Wan’s hand. His medic, Kix, made a noise of protest but he ignored everything save for the blue of his master’s eyes and the feel of his warm hand in the hold of his flesh and naked durasteel fingers.

“Tell me you haven’t changed your mind,” he begged.

Obi-Wan squeezed his hand and brought it to his lips to gently kiss his knuckles, furtive and tender. “Of course I haven’t. Now rest, we can talk about it later.”

He did then, collapsing back against the durasteel and staring dizzily at the overhead lights, vision swimming with relief and sensory overload after the long meditative state of suspension in the suffocation and deprivation of the bacta tank.

Obi-Wan wiped viscous goo from his cheekbone with the gentle swipe of his thumb and brushed the golden sunrise warmth of his mind against Anakin’s. For the first time, he cradled his mind against his with no shields, no barriers to hide the infinite cascade of his love. He twitched against the table and gaped at Obi-Wan, stunned and utterly overwhelmed.

“You should rest, Anakin.”

“I’ve been asleep for days,” he grumbled.

But Kix injected him with painkillers to dull the ache of his newly regrown bones, muscles and tissues, and he passed out cold, head lulling against the table.

He woke in his own bed in the temple, feeling oddly vibrant and refreshed and with no sense of how much time had passed since his submersion in the bacta tank. Weak with hunger he stumbled from his bed, into the sonic and clothes that didn’t smell like medbay disinfectant and collapsed onto a meditation mat with a cup of caf and several ration bars.

Obi-Wan walked through the door halfway through his third bar and with only grounds in the bottom of his mug. They blinked at one another, Obi-Wan with his hand still on the open door and Anakin with ration bar in his mouth. Then Obi-Wan closed the door and dropped to his knees in front of him on the mat and brushed his hand against wayward drying curls flopped across his forehead.

“I didn’t expect you to wake before I returned from the Council. How do you feel?”

Anakin tilted his face into Obi-Wan’s palm and they both took shuddering breaths, their faces mere inches apart and sharing the same lung warmed air.

“Surprisingly well, when last I remember I was staked on a tank.” His expression shuttered, with his cheek tilted into his fingers. “Obi-Wan—I—I’m sorry, for telling you like that.”

Obi-Wan pressed their foreheads together, dragging his head side to side to brush their noses back and forth. “I don’t care about that. I thought—I thought you were going to die in my arms. I thought the force was taking you from me.”

“Not when I finally had Obi-Wan Kenobi telling me he loved me. After that I would have fist fought the force itself to stay with you.”

Obi-Wan drew back and laughed, his warm breath fanning against his cheek. “I know you would have.”

“You promised,” Anakin said, with heavy lidded eyes and golden lashes fluttering against his cheeks, “to kiss me.”

“So I did,” Obi-Wan said against his mouth, and then wound his hand in his hair, cupping the back of his head to pull him forward and slant their lips in a breathless kiss.

Never had the force sang like this before, never their bond surged so synchronous and euphoric. Their joy bled into each other’s minds, as golden as a Tatooine sunrise and twice as warm. In the locked entangle, the tug and pull of their force signatures, they fell into each other effortlessly, moving in perfect tandem to the shift of the other’s mouth.

Anakin moaned and opened himself to Obi-Wan, letting his tongue slip past his lips, slick and wanting. The bond throbbed between them, heat brimming in the force. Obi-Wan pushed deeper, canting Anakin’s head back by the pull of his hair and the slow grind of his lips, his tongue flicking against his in mimicry of the roll of hips.

His mouth tasted like caf, but Obi-Wan didn’t seem to care, humming pleased and incandescent in the force.

Anakin broke the kiss with a gasp, panting against Obi-Wan’s jaw, wet lips brushing his chin.  “I love you, and nothing will change this, master, not the war, not the Council, or the kriff-all code. I love you.”

Obi-Wan planted damp, open-mouthed kisses against his cheek, his jaw, and down the stretch of his throat, biting at the ridge of his collarbone before raising his head to nip at his bottom lip. “And I love you—and I am—so sorry you might not have known it until your last breath. I have tried not to love you like this—but you are so easy to adore my padawan, so easy to want and fall in love with.”

Anakin brushed the side of his thumb against the laugh lines at the corner of his master’s eye, spilling ardent adoration through their bond. “I’ve never seen you so afraid,” he murmured, “how long have you loved me?”

“Two years, maybe more, since your knighting at least.”

Anakin’s eyes danced as he dragged his hand down Obi-Wan’s cheek to scrape his fingertips through auburn stubble. “Your beard is finally growing back.”

Obi-Wan pressed against his shoulders and leaned Anakin back, pressing him down to the meditation mat and tipping his chin to the ceiling to press more kisses to the underside of his sharp jaw. “And how long have you loved me?” He asked.

He laughed, high and breathy. “Since that mission to Akiva, remember it, when that priestess wanted to marry you?”

Obi-Wan blinked down at him, with his hands planted on either side of Anakin’s head. “You were fourteen,” he said incredulously.

Anakin laughed, bright and unashamed. “I was so incredibly jealous. I wanted to abandon her at that temple for the jungle creatures to drag away.”

“Jealous,” Obi-Wan grinned and brushed his fingers beneath Anakin’s undertunic and against the sensitive and delicate skin just below his navel, “jealous for me?”

His stomach jumped against the touch, want pooling in his gut and spilling openly through the bond. “Of course I was,” he rasped. “I’ve ached for you since I knew how to ache.”

Obi-Wan pushed his hand higher under his tunic, dragging his hand over ribs and pectorals, over the fresh, ridged scar on his chest and pressed his fingers into the sensitive skin. Anakin curled durasteel fingers against his back, pressing cold metal into the bone of his shoulder blade, and arched his spine into his touch.

Their mouths met between sharp inhales, fast and surging like waves, throbbing heat building between them. Anakin snapped his hand to Obi-Wan’s neck and yanked him down so that their mouths pressed harder and more biting, teeth catching between their lips to tug and lave.

Between the sloppy movements of their tongues Obi-Wan blindly reached down and tucked his hand behind the crease of his knee and hitched Anakin’s leg to hoist behind his hip and ground the hard line of their cocks together. Even through two layers of linen it felt exquisite, the pressure against his aching balls and the way Anakin’s breath stuttered with his tongue in his mouth and their hips pressed together. It sparked honey rich arousal in his veins, a need so deep his mind felt feverish with it.

Anakin dug his heel into his back and canted his hips up, sharp pleasure crackling down his spine as he thrust against him. He made a small sound at the feeling, tight and keened from the back of his throat and Obi-Wan bared his teeth at the sound, dropping his leg to yank Anakin’s unbelted pants to his knees and then all the way off in quick, short movements.

He raised both his knees and crossed his ankles behind the low curve of Obi-Wan’s spine, pulling him back in to the cradle of his hips to squirm against him, frustration mounting in his force signature with his rising need. He needed more, needed Obi-Wan inside of him, needed to feel his cock so deep inside himself it could only be defined as owning, needed to know what having come inside him would feel like.

His thoughts must have leaked openly through the taught tether of their joined force signatures, because Obi-Wan snarled against his throat and pushed him harder against the floor, pulling his thighs higher so that his spine arched from the mat, his ass lifted in the air for him to grind against.

Anakin scrambled to find purchase on his shoulders and his underwear stuck to his cock, damp with precome he felt himself leaking and rubbing uncomfortably with every scrape against Obi-Wan’s linen pants.

“Ahh—” he finally said, “I need—off—please—”

Obi-Wan grinned at him with a wide flash of teeth, his eyes darkened to a stormy blue. “Not that I wouldn’t love to make you come right here, darling, but I would rather take you on a bed.”

Anakin threw an arm over his eyes, heat scorching his cheeks. “You can’t just say things like that, master.”

“And why not?” Obi-Wan laughed dark and smoky against the paleness of his inner thigh, dragging his tongue against the sensitive skin. Anakin shuddered, breaking out in gooseflesh and tightening his muscles reflexively, ticklish but brimming with a heated bolt of want.

“I want—” his voice broke, suddenly overwhelmed.

Obi-Wan worked his jaw, biting against the tender skin inside his leg and his cock throbbed at the little jolt of pain. “I know, come on, let me take you to bed.”

He pulled Anakin to unsteady feet and tugged him towards his bedroom, but he stopped him, and led Obi-Wan towards his own room. “I have—” he trailed off, flushing, “lubrication.”

Anakin slid backwards onto his narrow bed and Obi-Wan settled over him, the perfect mirror of their positions on the meditation mat, only now his master pulled his tunic over his head, leaving Anakin bare beneath him, except for his precome damp underwear that stretched across the bulge of his hardened cock.

Obi-Wan sat back on his heels and appraised him, still fully dressed and appearing unruffled except for his hair falling rakishly into his face. His eyes dragged across him, following the long lines of his muscle corded limbs, across the sharp cut of his broad shoulders and chest, and down the sweep of his stomach to rest on his precome darkened underwear.

His eyes stayed there as he leaned forward to pull them down his hips and to his knees, before yanking them past his calves and bare feet to drop them over the bedside. Anakin laid there, flushed and hard with his knees bent and feet planted against the bed on either side of Obi-Wan.

With dark eyes and his cock damp and aching against his stomach, Anakin reached up to unclasp his belt and pull away the layers of his outer and under tunic, leaving him in his low-slung pants and boots. He grinned at the sight, and ghosted durasteel fingers down the muscled ridges of his bare stomach to his waistband and then cupped his hand to squeeze his master’s cock through his pants.

Obi-Wan moved like lightning, kicking off his boots and shucking his pants and underwear off together and fell into the frame of his legs in a deluge of movement, his hands braced against the bed under Anakin’s arms and his mouth sucking at the juncture of his jaw.

He rocked their cocks together then and they both breathed shaky from behind clenched teeth and shuddered pulsing want into the force. Everything moved faster then, Obi-Wan shoving his legs wider to grind their hips as Anakin panted increasingly breathy noises against the salt slicked skin of his throat.

Master,” he finally cried, “please.

Such incredible want lanced through Obi-Wan then and he shoved Anakin’s thighs wider, tracing the curve of his inner thigh to follow its path to the divot of his hip socket and behind the weight of his balls to stroke the pads of two fingers against the seam of his ass and against his hole.

Anakin tilted his face to the side, throwing his durasteel hand over his eyes and arched his back, quivering desperation into their bond.

“Where is your--?”

“Bedside table,” Anakin moaned.

He wrenched open the drawer and found a myriad of items; batteries, a miniature soldering pen, durasteel screws and a half empty plastisteel bottle of anal lubricant. He flipped the cap, dribbling the thick liquid over his hand and pressed the greased fingers against him.

“When have you possibly had the time for enough dalliances to go through this much lubricant?” He asked incredulously, breath huffing with his laugh across Anakin’s hipbone.

He didn’t lift his arm from his eyes and throbbed ardent want into the force, but also fierce embarrassment. “It was just me,” he admitted, “I’ve never—done this with someone else.”

Obi-Wan froze, with a single finger pressed inside of him. Anakin lifted his arm when he didn’t move and peered down at him with cheeks so rosy, he looked feverish, sweat flattening his curls against his temples. “Master?”

“You’ve never—had intercourse before?” He choked out.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Anakin complained, and wriggled against his finger inside of him. “Of course I haven’t, I’ve loved you since I was fourtee—ahh!” He broke off on a jolting cry as Obi-Wan surged against him, sucking bruising marks against his stomach as he curled a second finger past his rim and thrust it inside of him.

Anakin rocked against his hand, fisting his fingers into the sheets. “Fuck—ahh—fuck!”

Obi-Wan licked the underside of his cock then, tracing the veins with the tip of his tongue and then sucked the fat head of him into his mouth, curling his fingers deeper inside of him so that Anakin dug his heels into the mattress, tendons straining at the core deep pulse of pleasure that settled hot and tight at the base of his cock and in his balls.

He let his cock fall from his mouth, a string of saliva trailing from his leaking slit to Obi-Wan’s swollen lower lip. He withdrew his fingers with a twist and poured more lubricant over them to shove them back inside Anakin, less carefully then, as he traced a third finger against the stretch of his rim.

“Did you do this to yourself?” He rumbled, glancing up to Anakin’s face with dark, dilated eyes. “Did you put your fingers inside of yourself, my love, and imagine it was me?”

Anakin moaned then, embarrassingly high pitched and wrenched from the back of his throat. His thighs shook against Obi-Wan’s shoulders and the muscles in his stomach quivered as his master ground his fingers deeper inside of him, undulating his fingertips against his prostate.

“Of course I did—master—please—I want—I need you inside me.”

Even Obi-Wan Kenobi had a limit to his patience, and Anakin wanting and begging beneath him was it.

He pulled his fingers out and poured more lubricant into his hand and slicked the heavy weight of his cock, dragging his fingers across his weeping slit.

“This might be easier on your hands and knees.”

“No, I want to see you, master.”

Obi-Wan dropped to his forearms, hovering over him and nestled between Anakin’s slicked cheeks. They stayed like that for a moment, blinking hazy and heavy lidded into each other’s eyes, sweat glistening on their foreheads as they spilled unrestrained, marrow deep arousal and love through the force.

Anakin smiled, crooked and beautiful and then reached between them to guide Obi-Wan’s cock against him and tilted his hips higher to let him bear down and slowly, excruciatingly slowly, press the head of his cock past his fluttering and slicked rim.

They both hissed shaking exhales from behind their teeth and Anakin quaked through their bond, need and desperation palpitating against Obi-Wan’s mind in time with the hammering of his pulse.

He tilted his hips higher, taking his master deeper, and Obi-Wan dropped his head between his hunched shoulders.

“I’ll let you—let you set the pace my dear, I do not want to hurt you.”

Anakin choked on his exhale and grasped at the back of his head, pulling their mouths together in a wide, open mouthed kiss as he dug his heels into the low curve of his back and forced Obi-Wan’s hips forward, driving him deeper inside of him.

“I want—ahh—all of you, master.”

So Obi-Wan fucked him, braced his weight onto his arms and thrust completely inside of him, driving him further up the bed with the movement.

Oh,” Anakin moaned, and echoed toe-curling pleasure against his mind.

And they fell into a gorgeous rhythm, rocking against each other as they rolled squirming pleasure into the force, panting into each other’s mouths and moaning with every reverberated spark of want and gratification.

“Lovely,” Obi-Wan crooned, “so good for me, you’re doing so well, dearest one.”

Anakin clenched around him, hard, and went impossibly wide eyed, the jolt of his want crackling through their bond white bright and electric.

“Say it again,” he begged, clenching down, “nnh—please.”

Obi-Wan felt his control slipping, his handhold on the force and the will to gentle the thrusts of his hips flitting away from his lust fogged mind. “You feel so good for me, my love, you’re so—good for me.”

 He had difficulty keeping tethered, struggled to remember why he held onto that control and muted the wanting harshness of his hips. With the lapse of that control he thrust inside of Anakin, deep and hard, hard enough that he instantly feared that it hurt him.

But Anakin twisted beneath him and moaned—loudly.

“Ahh—Master!”

All control flitted away like a distant breeze and he snarled, grabbing Anakin’s hips to snap inside of him, violently. He could feel the low surge of pleasure in his gut, the tightening of his balls as his cock hardened further inside of him.

Anakin felt him teetering on the edge, his arousal hot and shivering through their bond.

“Come for me, master,” he moaned against his throat, “please, I want to feel your come inside of me.”

Anakin—” he gasped.

He pulsed inside of Anakin, his orgasm wrenched from the center of him and cascading through the force like a tide with every jolt of his cock, with every spurt of his come. Their bond thrummed and snapped abruptly tight, perfectly aligned and chorusing between them in their shared ecstasy.

Anakin felt it, felt Obi-Wan shatter apart through their bond, and he felt the warmth of his semen inside of him. Obi-Wan only had to wrap his fingers around him and dip his thumb into his drooling cockhead and he clenched around him where he was softening, but still inside of him, and came over his fist in four, long, shuddering spurts.

Obi-Wan felt his orgasm in turn through their bond, Anakin’s pleasure aching in his skull and causing him to shiver from overstimulation and pull out of him gently, though he still hovered over Anakin on quaking arms.

They kissed through heaving breaths, jarringly gentle after the force of their orgasms. Obi-Wan petted Anakin’s sweat drenched hair and smiled widely, blossoming brilliant and bright through the bond.

“I love you, dearest one, with such strength it frightens me.”

Anakin glowed even more brightly in the force than he normally did, luminous with joy so fervent he blinked back sudden tears, overwhelmed and moved so deeply it felt beyond expression, though Obi-Wan understood it, understood his emotions pressed reverent and shaking against his mind like a mental kiss.

“I love you,” he answered, even though Obi-Wan felt it, only had to look into his eyes to know. “I love you so much sometimes I think it might consume me, might burn me away to leave nothing but ashes behind.”

After cleaning themselves they laid side by side on his too small bed, basking in the gentle lapping movements of their force signatures against each other. Long after the sweat had cooled on their skin and they pulled the blankets over their naked hips from the cold, Obi-Wan suddenly laughed, loud and mirthful.

“On Eriadu, during out meeting with the Quintad, it was your arousal you were blocking in the bond that I felt wasn’t it?”

Anakin groaned against his throat, refusing to lift his head and meet Obi-Wan’s eyes. “You were squeezing my neck and then you pulled my hair, in front of a whole table of Separatist sympathizers, how could you have been so oblivious?”

He wound his hand into the still sweat damped curls at the base of his neck and tugged playfully, grinning at the throb of arousal Anakin did not shield from the bond, even though he still kept his face tucked away, cheeks hot and mortified where they were hidden against his throat.

He could feel Obi-Wan mulling past interactions over in his mind as if he were examining precious gems, buffing and tilting their facets to catch the light.

“You liked me clean shaven too,” he said with a grin in his voice.

Anakin finally raised his head to glare at him. “Is there a reason you’re trying to make fun of me?”

Obi-Wan reached up to hold his cheek, palm against his chin and fingers hooked behind the hinge of his jaw so that he could tilt his face up to him. Anakin blinked, eyes dark and heavy lidded from the forced handling.

“I’m not making fun my darling, simply understanding my own obliviousness under a new light. I never expected—or conceived to receive your attentions, your attraction. I am ten years older than you, Anakin,” he reminded him gently.

He frowned at the reminder. “What are we going to do, Obi-Wan?”

He released his jaw and they settled back onto the bed, cradled in each other’s arms and with Anakin’s head resting on his chest.

“There is still a war to fight, still the Republic we must defend.”

“And what about after, what about the council, the code?” Anakin’s voice quavered, his unease clear.

  Obi-Wan ran a soothing hand down his spine and settled his hold under the covers on his sharp hipbone. “If we wish to continue then we must leave. We cannot live the lives of Jedi and love one another as we do, Anakin, you know this.”

“No—I do, that’s not what I meant. I would leave the Order for you in a heartbeat, Obi-Wan but I—I never imagined anything in the entire galaxy could entice you to leave, to abandon your vows.”

He kissed the crown of Anakin’s head and unleashed a tidal wave of marrow deep love and devotion into their bond which sang from the echoes of Anakin instantly returning it in kind, thoughtless in his easy and giving love, as he had always been since he was a boy.

“Anakin,” he said in that tone, filled with exasperation and fondness all in one. “I would have left the Order for you simply to protect you as my padawan, to help you. Since I have known you, I would have always left if you had asked.”

He felt utterly shaken by the knowledge, and especially small in the towering shadow of his master’s goodness and selflessness. “I don’t deserve you,” he said meekly. “Master—I need to tell you about Tatooine, I can’t keep it from you any longer.”

“I thought you had forgotten,” Obi-Wan said softly.

“No, it has haunted me every day since, and I—you might hate me for it,” he whispered, quavering against him, “you won’t forgive me. But I cannot keep it from you—not anymore.”

“I may be disappointed, but I could never hate you.”

Anakin clenched his eyes and opened his mind to him, completely unguarded and terrifyingly vulnerable and in the shaking, fearful press of himself against Obi-Wan through the force he revealed to him his red tinged memories from Tatooine.

Through the bond they both felt his terror, his blind rage, the atom deep sorrow and grief that had gripped his mind in their talons. He showed him every innocent who dropped to the sand at the end of his lighted blade, showed him the animal terror in the children’s eyes, and the special maliciousness he devoted to cutting apart the men he knew raped his mother, small butchered piece by piece.

He showed him the sludgy darkness which gripped his soul afterwards, that filled the cracks in his shattered chest with its malignant ooze. He showed him that deep, deep inner darkness that still filled those cracks, that fed the creature of smoke and flame within him.

Obi-Wan pulled away from him and sat, covers pooling around his waist. His face was drawn and pale, and he looked at him in the way Anakin had lived in terror of since that day. He looked at him and he saw the darkness, saw the murderer he was.

Obi-Wan slid to the edge of the bed and grabbed up his pants. He glanced back and saw the raw terror on his face, felt his bleak acceptance through the bond.

“I’m coming back,” he said gently. “I just—I’m going to meditate, before I can say anything.”

Anakin curled into the fetal position after he left and shook alone on his bed, filled with a self-loathing so deep he wished that kriffing tank had done him a favor and finished the job of killing him. He wondered why the force had spared him. He wondered if he had fought its will and survived from the strength Obi-Wan’s words filled him with when neither of them should have breathed their secreted wants and let him answer for the evils he committed.

But even filled with wretched self-hate and nauseous, he eventually fell into a fitful doze, sure when he woke, he might never see his master again.

But hours later, Obi-Wan slid onto the bed and pulled Anakin back into the cradle of his body. He jolted awake, confused but hope filled at the press of their skin and love in their bond.

Obi-Wan kissed the back of his neck and then gentled him onto his back, where he gazed down at him, his blue eyes glinting from the shallow light spilling from under his bedroom door.

“I love you, and I will never stop loving you,” he said. “But what you did—oh dear one, you committed such horrible things. What you did was evil.”

Anakin shook underneath him. “I know, and I’ll never stop being sorry, but there is no taking back lives lost.”

Obi-Wan studied him. “What you did was evil—but I know you and you are not evil, Anakin. There is darkness in you, but it is far overshadowed by your light.”

Anakin laid silent as Obi-Wan continued to stare down at him, his expression unreadable and his emotions oddly quiet and neutral in the force.

“This is something we will always have to work past, and nothing like it can ever—you can never give into the darkness like that ever again, Anakin. But I forgive you.”

His bottom lip trembled then, and he blinked rapidly, willing away his tears. “You forgive me?” He said with disbelief.

“I do,” Obi-Wan murmured and cradled his face between the delicate press of his hands. “Force help me I do. It gave you back to me—and I cannot bear—I cannot live without you. That is what you told me on Eriadu, that you are mine, and I am yours.”

Anakin did cry then, his face so stricken it looked like heartbreak, but Obi-Wan knew better from the inconsolable relief-gratitude-love he threw at him.

“I love you,” he sobbed.

Obi-Wan shushed him with a kiss, sweet and kind and patient.

Together they tilted their heads, slanting their mouths and through the force, their synchronous, singing bond, shone golden and brilliant, the echoes of its starlight glimmering trillions of years into the past, and yet trillions of years into the future, and yet it shines now, on and on and on.