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In Sacrifice, Peace

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“If into the recordings, you go, only pain you will find.” 

 

“I must know the truth,” Obi-wan says tightly. “Master.”

 

Is he a selfish Jedi, perhaps? That he’s surrounded by the mass slaughter of all of his people, and all he can think about is Anakin? That he needs to know if Anakin, at least, made it out of this hell alive?

 

All this death and all he can think about is his former padawan, his brother.

 

“I must know.” he says again, and Master Yoda looks at him sadly. 

 

He switches on the recordings.

 

The Temple is quiet, at first. Jedi are milling around, Masters, Knights, Padawans and younglings alike. There are younglings playing in the Room of a Thousand fountains, padawans drilling in the training salles, a fair number of Knights meditating in their rooms. He bypasses all of them and finds Anakin, pacing outside the Council Chambers, trying very hard not to think about the fact that he could be watching his last moments.

 

No. No. He can’t think like that. If anyone can survive this mass slaughter, it’s Anakin. Anakin, who can lead his men to the most impossible victories, Anakin who makes it out of every battle, Anakin who defeated Count Dooku single handedly. Anakin, who can survive anything.

 

The feeling of death and despair is so heavy in the Temple it clouds all of his senses. He can’t actually tell who survived; whether any even survived at all.

 

It’s easy to let himself get swept away by the peace; live in a world, for a moment, where nothing happened to the Jedi and the Temple is still standing untouched. But the illusion is abruptly shattered when Anakin keels over suddenly, head in his hands, breathing laboured and raspy. “What . . .” Anakin says, and Obi-wan very nearly chokes because what if this is the last time he’ll ever hear Anakin’s voice? He pushes the thought away stubbornly as Anakin keeps muttering to himself, “what the hell?”

 

He feels it, then, the echoes of the massive force disturbance that must have been affecting Anakin in the recording. Then he hears the footsteps.

 

The clones.

 

They’re marching on the Temple.

 

Anakin doesn’t know this; he rushes out to the entrance, lightsaber in hand, in time to see a Padawan taken by surprise and shot through the heart.

 

“No!” he shouts, but then the clones start shooting at him, and he barely deflects the bolts in time before ducking for cover. He still has a communicator on his arm, even in the Temple—one more thing the war has ingrained in him. He switches it on, not daring to go back out and speak to the clones directly, and says, “Commander Appo, stand down. I repeat, stand down! What are you doing?”

 

He’s trying to keep his voice steady, commanding, but it’s shaking with rage and fear and Obi-wan thinks Commander Appo can probably tell. It means nothing, though, because Appo rips off the communicator and throws it to the side as soon as he hears it beep. Anakin’s expressions flit between utter confusion, betrayal, fury, and. . . fear.  

 

It’s the 501st, Anakin’s men, attacking, the ones Anakin taught everything he knows to. Along with the Coruscant Guard and all the other battalions stationed nearby. It reminds Obi-wan of the unending waves of battle droids the Separatists employ, but it’s so much worse because these aren’t battle droids. They’re men. Men who served with them, who they were loyal to and who were loyal in turn to them. And they really betrayed them, just like that?

 

The blaster fire increases and draws nearer to Anakin’s corner, the sounds of various Jedi deflecting bolts and eventually being overwhelmed accompanying it. Anakin looks deeply conflicted, and Obi-wan’s sure he’s trying to stop himself from rushing out there in an attempt to help the others, which he most definitely knows will just get him killed. Finally, Anakin turns and rushes away from the entrance, steps light and quiet. 

 

He runs for a while, stopping to warn various Knights, Padawans, and Masters to escape the Temple, that they’re under attack. It’s only been a few minutes but the clones’ presence is increasing; every now and then Anakin has to stop to deflect a bolt. 

 

The first time one of the deflected bolts kills a clone, Anakin subconsciously lowers his lightsaber, devastation clear on his face. But the blaster fire continues and he has to keep running.

 

“The younglings.” one of the Knights he comes across says, “What about the younglings? Who will protect them? We can’t just abandon them.”

 

“Are they in the Council Chambers?” Anakin asks, an unreadable expression adorning his face. When the Knight nods, he says, “Don’t worry. I’ll get them out. I know a safe passage.”

 

“I’ll come with you, we’ll get some more Knights and Masters--”

 

“No.” Anakin says firmly, hand twitching in a way that usually means he feels guilty (Why? Why does Anakin, of all people, feel guilty?), “The more of us that make it out of this alive, the better.”

 

 The Knight’s eyes widen. “Knight Skywalker. . .” 

 

“Trust me.”

 

She nods hesitantly, and Anakin runs in the direction of the Council Chambers, slipping through side passages and shadowy corners. Obi-wan can see the way he tries not to look when a patrol of clones passes by, when he sees the dead body of yet another Jedi on the floor. 

 

At the first padawan’s body, he can’t stop himself from approaching slowly, cautiously, and closing his eyes. With an anguished look back, he keeps going.

 

It feels like hours until Anakin reaches the Council Chambers, but Obi-wan’s sure it’s just been minutes. He unlocks the doors with a wave of his hand and a key code, and enters, closing it and barricading it behind him. 

 

“Master Skywalker,” One of the younglings scurries out in a panic. “What are we going to do?”

 

There are at least thirty in the room, maybe more. This could very well be almost all the younglings in the Temple; the war has drastically reduced their numbers as more have been sent away to the other Temples, less focused on the battle efforts, and recruitment has decreased.

 

Now that Anakin’s entered, the rest of the younglings leave their hiding places, relaxing somewhat. They’ve probably been trying to desperately keep it together, but it proves too much. One starts crying.

 

“Shh. . .” Anakin says, gathering the younglings around him, reminding Obi-wan of all those whispered arguments where he had insisted to Anakin that yes, he was good with children, he’d be just fine teaching Ahsoka. He can almost feel the terror rising off Anakin from the hologram; Anakin doesn’t know what’s happening either. But he isn’t letting the younglings feel it. “You need to listen to me very carefully, okay? This—” his voice breaks, "—this is going to be scary. But you have to be calm, and strong. Just like Master Yoda taught you.”

 

The younglings look at him with stars in their eyes, nodding along and practically radiating relief that he’s there to help them. They must have been terrified when they were barricaded in the Chambers. Those emergency protocols haven’t been used in centuries.

 

“Why are the clone troopers attacking us?” a younger one pipes up—Obi-wan thinks her name is Ashla. There are murmurs of assent, of accompanying questions: “What’s happening?” says another, “Why is the Temple being attacked?”, yet another.

 

Anakin takes a breath, looking hesitant and faintly overwhelmed. “The Supreme Chancellor.” he says, finally, “He’s a Sith Lord. And he’s trying to wipe the Jedi out.”

 

There are gasps of horror, and shock, Obi-wan wants to flinch at the tactlessness, but Anakin continues, “I know it sounds scary. But take heart. We will survive this.”

 

“What are we going to do?” another whispers again.

 

“We’re going to get you guys out of the Temple, somewhere safe.” 

 

“But Master Shaak Ti said—”

 

“I know,” Anakin continues, still gentle. “But she didn’t know how many troopers there were at the time.” He doesn’t say that if they stay, they’ll be sitting ducks for sure. But Obi-wan’s certain all the younglings know it. “There are hidden passages that lead out of the Temple. I’ll lead you there, then you need to get to the apartment of Senator Bail Organa. He’s a friend to the Jedi. You all know how to get to the Senate Building?”

 

Nods from everyone. The younglings, Obi-wan remembers, are taught how to get to the Senate buildings safely and efficiently in case of an emergency at the Temple. Because the Senate—the Republic—is supposed to be their ally.

 

“Senator Organa has a hidden passage—” How does Anakin know about this—oh, Padme, of course, the Senators suspicious of Palpatine must have used it often for secret meetings— “from underneath the building, where the statue of the Republic symbol is. Tell him Anakin Skywalker sent you, and that the Jedi are being attacked. And. . . that you need his help.” 

 

One of the younglings looks up at him, a spark of something in her eyes, and says, “What about Senator Amidala? Isn’t she a friend to the Jedi too?”

 

Cheeky.

 

Anakin clenches his jaw. Looks to the side. After a couple of breaths he turns to answer, “Senator Amidala. . . is in danger too. From the Sith.”

 

Oh. Padme has always been vocal in her opposition of Palpatine’s emergency powers. Now that he’s formed his empire, she’s probably one of the first on his list of politicians to eliminate.

 

The youngling utters a soft “Oh.” and says, “I’m sorry.”

 

“What for?” Anakin says, pretending for the sake of them all that rumors about him and the Senator haven’t been repeated by nearly everyone in the Temple. “Now come on. Let’s get out of here.”

 

Anakin opens the doors slowly, pushing the younglings behind them. He leads them through the side halls with the most nooks and crannies to use as cover, making it a point to go first and leave them out of sight until he’s confirmed there’s no danger. Anakin’s so much more cautious then he usually is on the battlefields, but the motions are the same. He usually keeps the clones behind him too.

 

Every now and then Obi-wan catches him closing his eyes, feeling for the presences around. If he senses something, he leads the group backwards, through another twisting route entirely. There are times where he can’t avoid the stray clones, and he raises his lightsaber to deflect the bolts back at them before they can spot the younglings.

 

At one point, there’s a whole squad of them he can’t avoid.

 

“Stay back.” he cautions the group, “and whatever you do, don’t be seen.”

 

They give him nervous glances but stand firm, and he jumps into the fray, catching the soldiers by surprise. He deflects the bolt and targets the blasters rather than the clones themselves; Obi-wan supposes he can’t bring himself to kill them directly, despite their betrayal. Maybe he would have been able to, before the Krell debacle. But he’d sworn, after that, that he’d never hurt any soldier of the 501st, that his purpose was to protect them as much as it was their job to fight for the Republic.

 

A blaster bolt grazes Anakin’s left arm as he dispatches the last one. He looks at the bodies, face unreadable, before hurrying back to the younglings. 

 

“Master Skywalker,” Ashla says timidly, “are you okay?”

 

“I’m not a Master—What?” He looks down at his arm. “Oh, yeah, I’ll be fine. Come on, we’re almost there.”

 

“What do you mean, you’re not a Master?” another asks, making a valiant attempt at keeping his voice a whisper.

 

“I’m just a Knight,” Anakin says. “and we should be quiet.”

 

“But you’re on the Council!” Ashla says with all the incredulity her ten-year-old self can muster.

 

“I—no, not really.” Anakin says with a bit of a nervous laugh. “The Chancellor actually put me there; I think he was trying to spy on them.”

 

“Well,” another youngling says, a blond boy who reminds Obi-wan a bit of a young Anakin, “I think you’d make a great Master.”

 

Anakin laughs again, both surprised and amused. “Well, thank you,” he says, “but I’m only twenty two. I think you have to be a bit older.”

 

Well. That’s certainly a change from a few days ago. Then again, that whole episode had seemed rather out of character for Anakin. Obi-wan had suspected there was something else behind it; Anakin had never expressed much interest before in a seat on the Council or the rank of Master, and he knew that he’d only been knighted for a few years, and Obi-wan, in his late thirties, had been one of the youngest Masters in quite some time.

 

“You remember what I said, right?” Anakin says once they reach the passage, hidden behind an alcove in an out-of-the-way corridor. He tries to look at the younglings but his eyes keep flicking back to the corridors, paranoid the clones will find them any second.

 

“Go through the passage, use the hidden route to get to the Senate, go to Senator Organa.” the younglings repeat dutifully, one going so far as to rattle off all of the directions, right turns, left turns, and ups and downs.

 

“Good.” Anakin says. He turns on his saber and turns to look at the group, taking in their faces.

 

“You’re all Jedi,” Anakin says, with a try at a comforting smile, “We Jedi—we’re survivors. And we always have the force. Now, go!”

 

Ashla looks back at him, eyes wide in a way that suddenly reminds Obi-wan of Ahsoka. “Will you be alright?”

 

Anakin hesitates. “Of course.” he says at last. “Of course I will. I have the force.”

 

The last of them scurry into the passages, and Anakin barricades it behind them. Then he rushes off—where in the galaxy is he going?

 

“To the Chambers, he went.” Master Yoda says solemnly, “Know of Jedi emergency procedures, the Chancellor did.”

 

And. . . oh. If the younglings were supposed to be hiding in the Council Chambers, where the Temple’s security is tightest, and the clones see Anakin there, allegedly guarding it, they’ll—swarm him. Swarm him until they can get past to the children they think are inside. 

 

And Anakin. . . is Anakin. He’ll be able to hold them off long enough for the younglings to escape the Temple entirely—he’ll hold them off as long as he possibly can.  

 

Until he’s dead.

 

“He shouldn’t—” his hands are over his mouth, they’re shaking, “he shouldn’t be doing this, this is suicidal—

 

He can’t bring himself to switch the recordings over to the Council Chambers; Master Yoda, face solemn, does it for him.

 

Anakin stands in front of the Council Chambers, pacing. He’s pacing, Obi-wan thinks hysterically. He’s about to die in some insane, stupid, self-sacrificing plan to buy the younglings more time and he’s pacing. 

 

He’s running his flesh arm through his hair while the other rests lightly on the hilt of his lightsaber, and Obi-wan can almost feel the residual emotions from the moment. Concern, for the younglings, for—Padme, for Obi-wan, for Ahsoka. Fear, that he’s trying desperately to suppress. Anger, at the Chancellor. And—resignation.

 

Resignation, because he doesn’t think he’s going to make it out of this one.

 

He stops, suddenly, and leans against the doors to the Chambers. Obi-wan can just barely pick out his shaking from the recording. He’s hiding it well. Anakin sweeps his gaze over the surroundings, the empty hall, cocking his head and listening for the sound of footsteps and blasters. His eyes focus on the corner of the ceiling where one of the holorecorders is located, and he quirks his lips sardonically. 

 

He gives a jaunty little wave.

 

Of course he would, Obi-wan thinks, half-delirious, of course he would.

 

The footsteps grow louder, and louder, and suddenly the clones are rounding the corner, blasters raised.

 

“Commander Appo,” Anakin says, voice surprisingly steady. His stony expression gives him away; he’s furious. 

 

“General.” Appo says. He’s twitching strangely; Obi-wan doesn’t know Appo particularly well, but something about his mannerisms seems off.

 

The rest of the clones shift uneasily, waiting for orders to fire.

 

“You know, you never did tell me why you’re doing this, Commander.”

 

“Order 66.” Appo says blankly, “We were commanded to carry out Order 66.”

 

“And you just. . . followed it? Slaughtered the Jedi? Innocents? You’re ready to murder children?” Anakin’s voice is disbelieving, jagged.

 

“Good soldiers follow orders.”

 

“I disagree.” Anakin says, “Good soldiers know how to think for themselves. How to figure out when an order is wrong.”

 

“Under the protocol Order 66,” Commander Appo says, far more monotone than Obi-wan is used to hearing from the clones, “all Jedi are identified as traitors to the Republic and to be executed immediately.” 

 

“They’re children, Commander.”

 

“Under the protocol Order 66,” he repeats, “they are traitors to the Republic and must be executed for their crimes.”

 

“Children.” Anakin says, nearly screams, voice shriller and angrier than Obi-wan’s ever heard it in his life.

 

“Good soldiers follow orders.” Commander Appo gives the signal for his men to fire and Obi-wan’s heart nearly stops then and there.

 

“I can’t let you do this, Commander.” Anakin says, shifting into a defensive position. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Blast him!” 

 

Anakin’s a blur, suddenly, moving faster than Obi-wan’s ever seen him, even on the battlefields. There’s a solid minute, at least, where he just seems untouchable; the bolts that he doesn’t dodge are reflected back to the clones, to the walls, to the ceiling. Bodies begin to litter the floor.

 

“Reinforcements,” one trooper calls into his communicator, “We have Skywalker in front of the Council Chambers, we need reinforcements!”

 

It’s at this moment that Anakin stops holding back. 

 

He throws himself into the fray, moving quicker than most of the clones can react, lightsaber a deadly blue arc cutting through the bodies like they’re butter. He’s still deflecting blaster bolts at the same time; the hallway is quickly destroyed beyond repair. He deflects three in quick succession before stabbing clean through another soldier, and Obi-wan sees Commander Appo go down.

 

“Where are those damn reinforcements?” another clone shouts, and Anakin lets loose a hiss as a blaster bolt slips past his defenses. It’s just a graze, but it slows him down.

 

At first, Obi-wan had held on to a wild hope that Anakin might actually win this, outnumbered as he is, but he knows deep down that Anakin can’t hold out like this forever.

 

Another light explosion as a bolt hits some delicate circuitry. Another two clones down. Another blaster bolt grazes Anakin, this time his thigh. Anakin’s fighting is slowly shifting, becoming more and more on the defense rather than the offense. His moves are slowing, too; he’s beginning to use shorter, precise moves reminiscent of Obi-wan’s own fighting style. 

 

A couple of troopers push forward, nearing the door. Anakin, holding up a hand and screwing his face in concentration, stops their shots and throws the two back against the wall. Obi-wan can hear a distinct crack.

 

The sound of footsteps, steadily drawing closer. Anakin looks up in alarm, then turns his attention back to the fighting as he’s forced to deflect another hail of shots. He’s solely relying on deflecting now; no more dodging and flipping back and forth. Obi-wan can’t see from here but he imagines Anakin is probably covered in a sheen of sweat.

 

The reinforcements round the corner.

 

Force, there’s so many of them. It’s as if the whole Coruscant Guard has packed itself into this hallway; they just keep coming, streaming like a wave of battle droids.

 

“What took you so long?” a trooper pipes up and Obi-wan squashes down the sudden rage—how dare they joke, how dare they banter, when they’re trying to murder Anakin right that second, to murder Anakin then all the Jedi younglings he’s supposedly protecting—and takes a shuddering breath.

 

“The hell happened here?” one of the new ones says, readying his own blaster. “Skywalker did all this?”

 

Anakin isn’t talking or reacting to their words at all anymore. His eyes are narrowed, movements quick and calculated, trying desperately not to get pushed back too far.

 

Another blaster bolt makes it past Anakin’s defenses. This time, it’s a hit. The left shoulder.

 

Features twisted in pain, Anakin throws his right arm out, still holding the saber, and scatters the troopers in front of him in a wide arc. He rushes to bring up his lightsaber to deflect a round coming from the troopers in the back, who’ve taken a sturdy position, one knee on the floor, an arm propping up their blasters.

 

A bolt makes it past again. The torso, this time.

 

Anakin’s leaning heavily against the doors now for support. He shoves the clones back again with a powerful force push, and does the same to a couple more who have started nearing the doors. 

 

A hit, again. The right leg. It starts shaking from the effort not to crumple to the ground. Actually, all of Anakin is shaking; it’s a miracle he’s still deflecting shots.

 

Finally, one clips the right arm.

 

Anakin drops the saber.

 

Another shot and Anakin crumples to the ground. The troopers rush forward, shoving his form aside and prying at the doors. Anakin, from his position on the floor, struggles to push himself back up and shoves a couple aside with the force. Another shot—Obi-wan doesn’t see where this one hits—and he drops to the ground again.

 

The clones get the doors open.

 

Silence.

 

Then, finally, “There’s no one in there.” says a trooper disbelievingly.

 

“Are you sure?” another says. “That’s where the kids are supposed to be hiding.”

 

“Yeah, I know. There’s no one.” 

 

There’s a guttural, croaking laugh from Anakin’s position on the floor and the clones whip his heads around to look at him.

 

“He tricked us.” one states simply, coldly. “He probably told the kids to run.”

 

“Come on, then. We have our orders. They can’t have gotten far. We’ll find them.”

 

“And Skywalker?”

 

One laughs. “Please. He’s been shot, what, eight times? Even he’s not invincible.”

 

Obi-wan flinches.

 

"And besides," another says, already heading down the halls to begin searching, "Lord Sidious will want to see him."

 

There’s a couple minutes where nothing happens, the clone troopers having spread throughout the Temple trying to find the missing children. Anakin tries to prop himself up, once, twice, but it’s a failed effort each time and eventually he just collapses, breathing looking more and more uneven, eyes glazed with pain. 

 

He lies there, barely moving, and stares up at the ceiling. For the first time in what feels like forever, Obi-wan has absolutely no idea what is going on inside his head.

 

Is this how I watch Anakin die? he wonders, some foolish, foolish part of him still holding on to the hope that Anakin survives this somehow.

 

Then a dark, suffocating presence Obi-wan can feel even through the recording.

 

“Anakin Skywalker,” says the Supreme Chancellor—no, wait, the Emperor now—entering the hallway with eyes gleaming a sickly yellow, Obi-wan’s sure. Obi-wan can imagine it now, him walking through the corridors, looking over the bodies in satisfaction once the Temple has been overwhelmed. He’s followed by a couple troopers Obi-wan vaguely recognizes from the Coruscant Guard. “I’m . . . disappointed.”

 

 Anakin laughs, again, trying and failing to turn his head so he can look Palpatine in the eyes. “Get. . . used. . . to. . . ‘t.” he rasps, barely understandable.

 

“You could have had it all, you know,” Palpatine says, ignoring Anakin’s words and looking with a faux regretfulness into the distance. “Power, fame, adoration. Your loved ones, safe.”

 

He draws out the silence. Anakin’s breathing sounds weaker and weaker by the second.

 

“I gave you the opportunity.” the Chancellor sighs. “You rejected it.”

 

Anakin tries to say something in response, but it comes out so slurred that not even Obi-wan can tell what he’s saying.

 

“And look where you are now.” the Chancellor leans down towards Anakin, sprawled on the floor, still alive but barely. Even from the recording Obi-wan can see that Anakin’s breaths are short, pained gasps more than anything else, “Your Master is dead. Your padawan is dead. All your precious Jedi—dead. Your wife and child, soon to be dead.”

 

He gets up, watching in satisfaction as Anakin’s eyes, glassy as they are, don’t even track the motion. “Only at the end do you understand, Skywalker.”

 

Palpatine turns over the hilt of his lightsaber, the lightsaber that must have killed Master Windu and the other Councilors, “You really ought to have joined me.”

 

He ignites the lightsaber and brings it down.

 

The worst part, Obi-wan thinks, is that for Anakin this was a mercy. A short death, instead of the hours it would have taken him to finally succumb to the blaster burns.

 

“Do what you want with him,” the Chancellor tells the clones, gesturing carelessly to Anakin’s corpse. “He’s none of my concern anymore.”

 

Obi-wan doesn’t wait to see what the clones do; he can’t, he physically can’t keep watching. He switches the recording off, shaking. “I can’t watch,” he says hoarsely, “I can’t watch anymore.”

 

He sprints for the door, for the Council Chambers, vaguely aware of Master Yoda calling after him.

 

He realizes, as he’s running, multiple things. The first is that he has no idea if Anakin’s body (it feels wrong to even think the words) is still there, what it is exactly that the clones did “want to do with it”. The clones had always treated the dead with respect on the battlefield—he can’t imagine them defiling any of the dead, enemy or ally—but then again, he can’t imagine the clones, his men, Anakin’s men, slaughtering innocents and betraying them all, yet here they are. 

 

The second thing he realizes is that he knows, now, why exactly the Chancellor had always seemed so interested in his padawan.

 

“You really ought to have joined me.” The Chancellor (the Sith) had said, before killing him.

 

He had wanted Anakin as his apprentice.

 

So Anakin had spent a decade and a half in the company of a Sith Lord, trusting a Sith Lord, considering Palpatine a mentor, a friend. And then found out the truth. Found out he was being used all along. And died.

 

Died believing that Obi-wan was dead.

 

Why hadn’t he seen it sooner? Why hadn’t he protected Anakin, like he was supposed to? 

 

I have failed you, he thinks, imagining he can see Anakin standing before him, with the same expression on his face he had worn after the Hardeen debacle, I failed you.

 

The imaginary Anakin in front of him clenches his jaw and looks away, fidgeting with his mechno arm the way he does whenever he agrees but doesn’t want to admit it out loud. “I didn’t know,” he would say, Tatooine accent slipping in the way it did when he was distressed, “I didn’t know he was a Sith.”

 

“I know.” Obi-wan says out loud. “I’m the one who should have known.” Then he realizes he’s slowed down and pushes himself forward again, Council Chambers coming into view.

 

The hall is almost unrecognizable. The walls are charred and cracked with holes from blaster bolts and deep gouges from what must have been Anakin’s lightsaber, and chunks of duracrete and plaster are missing everywhere he looks. And the floor is littered in bodies.

 

As he gets closer, he sees that the bodies are those of clones, painted in the bright blue of the 501st. A distant part of him is shouting in anguish; these are Anakin’s men and they killed him. Were ready to kill the children. And for what? For a set of orders? For a feeble excuse of “treason” that anyone with common sense could see was a blatant lie?

 

He can’t reconcile everything he knows of these men, these brave, loyal, creative, independent men (the men who had survived Krell, who knew following orders wasn’t everything) with the legion that marched on the Temple and murdered their General.

 

He spots Commander Appo, who had been promoted in Rex’s absence, laying dead to the side. His helmet is off. 

 

So it seems the survivors had at least had the time to lay the dead off to the side, in lines, to remove their helmets. He swallows back his bile and wonders what they did to Anakin.

 

Anakin.

 

He sees a flash of dark robes amongst the sea of bodies, and rushes forward, hoping, hoping, hoping, he made it, he made it, he’s alright—

 

He sinks to his knees next to Anakin’s body. He has no idea what came over him. He had seen Anakin die.

 

Anakin's eyes stare vacantly at the ceiling. His hands are cold to the touch and slick with blood, and Obi-wan can count, even through the dark fabric, each and every hole left behind by a blaster bolt. And, of course, the charred hole in the center of his chest where the lightsaber had gone through.

 

“Anakin,” It slips out before he can stop it, “Anakin, Anakin, ” and now he’s shaking him, the body of his padawan, his friend, his brother, irrationally hoping that if he shakes hard enough, Anakin will just wake up and give him that force-damned smirk saying, “The war could never keep me down, Master.”  

 

Anakin’s head lolls to the side and Obi-wan drops him as if he’s been burned. He has no idea what came over him. Again. 

 

Anakin is dead.

 

“I’m so sorry,” he says aloud, “I’m so sorry.”

 

Anakin can’t hear him.

 

Anakin is dead.

 

His eyes, usually so bright blue, are watery and pale, he realizes, cradling Anakin’s body in his lap, and his hair is matted with blood. The glove covering the mechno arm is torn and burnt in places, exposing the metal and wiring underneath, and Anakin’s other hand is cold to the touch. He’s so. . . still.

 

It feels wrong.

 

He chokes on a sob pushing its way out of his chest, and lowers his head.

 

The tears don’t stop for a while.

 

He doesn’t feel Master Yoda joining them (him) until he’s right beside Obi-wan, radiating sorrow. It takes Obi-wan a while to finally tear his eyes away from Anakin’s face and make an effort at wiping the tears from his face. It isn’t particularly effective, but what did he expect?

 

He takes a deep, shuddering breath, and closes Anakin’s eyes.

 

It feels like he’s tearing apart a piece of himself.

 

He stands up, taking Anakin’s body in his arms. It’s heavy; logically, getting out of the Temple inconspicuously while carrying his body will be impossible. Master Yoda surely realizes this, because he raises an eyebrow and opens his mouth to speak. Obi-wan cuts him off.

 

“I am not leaving Anakin here.” he tells Master Yoda, pointedly ignoring the way his voice shakes, “I am not leaving his body here to be—to be desecrated like an animal. He deserves—” his voice breaks, “—a proper funeral.”

 

For a moment, he thinks Master Yoda is going to protest, but instead he closes his eyes, and after some time, nods. 

 

“Padme,” Obi-wan says suddenly, “—Palpatine said wife. And child.

 

Anakin had married her. 

 

Well. Obi-wan doesn’t really know why he’s so surprised.

 

But child? Padme is pregnant?

 

“Why did he do it?” he asks, not sure who he’s directing the question at, “Why did he do it? He was going to be a father, his child needs him, his wife needs him—why couldn’t he try and survive?”

 

There’s a crack of a stick hitting his shins and Obi-wan almost laughs hysterically. “Dishonor your padawan’s sacrifice, you must not, Obi-wan.” Master Yoda says, then gentler, “Perhaps, did it, he did, because he was going to be a father.”

 

Obi-wan closes his eyes and tries to stop the tears from welling up. It doesn’t work.

 

“I have to go,” he says, “to Padme. She’s in danger, the child’s in danger—Anakin would want me to make sure they stay safe. And she. . . deserves to know the truth.”

 

Master Yoda looks at him and gives him a slight nod. “Wise, it may be, to flee off planet. A safe place, Coruscant is not.”

 

“What will you do?”

 

“Face this Emperor, I must.” Yoda says, and Obi-wan can tell there’s no talking him out of it.

 

“May the force be with you.” The words are stuttered and hesitant, far more hesitant than Obi-wan would like. Was the last time he had said those words to Anakin? To Anakin, when he was still alive, before it had all gone to hell?

 

“And you, Obi-wan.” Yoda says, and he leaves him behind there in the Temple, walking on unsteady legs, Anakin’s body in his arms, to find a speeder or ship to get him to Padme’s apartment.

 

He has to get her and the baby off-planet, somewhere safe. He has to make sure that the younglings are alright, that they reached Bail and that they’re in hiding. He has to give Anakin a funeral.

 

“You’ll figure it out,” says another hallucination of Anakin, leaning on the side of the Temple walls, “you always do.”

 

We figured it out.” Obi-wan mutters. “Together.”

 

“Okay,” the hallucination says, still there for whatever reason. He looks like Anakin from a few days ago, not the crumpled, mutilated form in Obi-wan’s arms, and it almost hurts more than seeing the body for the first time had. “Let’s figure it out, then. What next?”

 

“I get Padme out.” Obi-wan says, rubbing a hand over his face. “I try to regroup with the others. I—” his voice breaks again, “I give you a funeral.”

 

“Even if I wasn’t a very good Jedi,” the imaginary Anakin says, and Obi-wan is suddenly disgusted with himself—is that what he thinks of Anakin? Anakin, who just died so that the Jedi might live on? “I think I would have liked to have a Jedi’s funeral.”

 

“I’ll give you a Jedi’s funeral,” Obi-wan whispers. Distantly, he realizes he should be concerned that he’s readily accepted the fact that he’s conversing with a figment of his imagination, “and I’ll protect them. Your child, and your—wife.”

 

“And then?”

 

Obi-wan closes his eyes, pretends he can’t feel the weight of the body in his arms, pretends it’s really Anakin he’s talking to and not some worrying coping mechanism. “And then we fight.” he says.

 

“We fight.”