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28 October 2005 @ 11:50 am
[J/D] [Obi-Wan/Anakin slash] [drama/angst] [PG-13] "Eye of the Storm":  
It was mutually decided by patientalien and citizenjess that "Star Wars" fandom could use some more gratuitous angst over Anakin's facial scar, and 'lo and behold, out popped another collaboration 'fic!

Summary: Obi-Wan deals with the fallout, both physical and emotional, of Anakin's final battle with Asajj Ventress. Based heavily on the Clone Wars comics. Rated PG-13.

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Eye of the Storm

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Obi-Wan Kenobi knew he should be relieved. Asajj Ventress was dead; she would never kill another Jedi, would never torture another being. But his first thought was not of Ventress - it was of the long lightsaber burn on Anakin's face.

Anakin sat in Obi-Wan's worn leather chair in their shared apartment. His eyes were still a bit wild - it always had taken Anakin a while to get himself out of battle mode and back into the mindset of a Jedi ... even moreso as the Clone Wars dragged on, requiring all Jedi to think extraneously about strategies and fighting. Obi-Wan quite hated it, hated the senseless killing and constant waryness and especially the toll it had taken on Anakin. A boy who had seen enough senseless violence during his nine years spent on Tatooine, Obi-Wan wished he could pluck Anakin out of the middle of this universal mess the Jedi were in, to find a way to spare him of coming home with blood - a nameless somebody else's, as well as his own - on his hands anymore.

That wasn't to say that Anakin wasn't a brilliant warrior. Quite the contrary, rather. If Obi-Wan was known for his diplomacy skills, Anakin was brilliant at planning and executing attacks. He had acquired the moniker of the Jedi With No Fear shortly after his Padawan braid had been severed, and the nickname stuck. Anakin WAS fearless; he often performed feats as a pilot that made Obi-Wan's heart stop to see, things an ordinary man - even an ordinary Jedi - should never have been able to accomplish. But Anakin had never been normal by any denomination, and being one of the Order's biggest assets at this crucial juncture in its history seemed as natural to him as breathing.

Obi-Wan often wondered if it was too much to place on Anakin's shoulders, if the conglomeration of being the Chosen One and whatever other titles people could stick to him was not inevitably just asking him to break down. It was something he questioned after nearly every battle these days, and when he came out of the fresher with a med kit to tend to his former Padawan's injuries and saw the young man gripping his knees, his head turned downward as tangled hair fell into his eyes, shaking slightly, Obi-Wan silently cursed anyone who had ever been involved with bringing the Clone Wars into fruition.

"Anakin," he said softly, crouching down beside the young man and setting the med kit on the floor. "Anakin, look at me."

Anakin turned away, presenting the side of his face - the left side of his face - to Obi-Wan. His shaking, it seemed, had only gotten worse with Obi-Wan's presence, but Obi-Wan knew that Anakin's injury needed to be tended to - and he needed to be examined for any other injuries he might be hiding. Obi-Wan often got the feeling that, had it not involved losing a valuable limb, Anakin would have tried to shrug off the results of their ill-fated battle with Dooku.

"I'm fine," Anakin responded, his tone belying the truth of his words. He turned his face completely forward, more to take the strain off of craning his neck than anything. Glittering, narrowed eyes scrutinized Obi-Wan's own face. "Are you okay, Master?"

Obi-Wan shrugged Anakin's worry aside, wanting quickly to placate him. "I did not nearly have my eye gouged out by a Sith lightsaber," he said softly. His hand came up to cup Anakin's face, his finger gingerly trailing along Anakin's latest battle scar. Anakin flinched a little, almost imperceptably, but Obi-Wan noticed anyways. "Does it hurt?" he asked. Anakin's jaw tightened in response.

Obi-Wan dug into the med kit, pulling out the small bottle of bacta it contained. The smell was clean, antiseptic, and he began gently swabbing it onto the mark. "I'm sorry, Anakin," he murmured, his head bent towards Anakin's in concentration. "I don't think we've gotten to it quickly enough. There's going to be a scar."

Anakin's eyes glinted. "It's a small price to pay," he rumbled quietly, "for killing that monster."

Obi-Wan sighed, wishing that he did not have to have this conversation with Anakin again… not now. "Be mindful of your thoughts, young one," he said, deciding for the time being to forgo the actual lecture. Instead, he closed his eyes and sent soothing pulses through their Force-bond.

"She almost killed you, Master." Anakin did not sound as though Obi-Wan's efforts were working. His voice had taken on a flat, distant tone, and Obi-Wan opened his eyes again to see Anakin staring at him, the angry red wound prominent now that he wasn't trying to shield it from Obi-Wan's sight.

Obi-Wan shook his head and stood. "Revenge is not something a Jedi pursues, Anakin," he admonished gently.

Anakin stared at him petulantly. "It needed to be pursued," he retorted quietly, crossing his arms. Obi-Wan pursed his lips and he continued. "You act like you've forgotten what she did to you, Master," he said, louder this time. "You act like you weren't beaten and starved and tortured." His voice welled up with emotion, and Obi-Wan sighed.

Of course he remembered; he remembered long nights spent in chains, of the smell of his own blood, dried onto the sensory deprivation mask he'd been placed in. He remembered Asajj's own scarred, cruel face, taunting him, telling him his Padawan was dead, doing everything she could to catch him off-guard. The fact that she was dead did not bother him; it was that Anakin had killed her in cold blood, had taken a life with his bare hands and seemed to feel no remorse for it. Even the most vicious and deadly of living things were still alive at some point. He wished desperately that Anakin could see that.

He wished ... that Qui-Gon were here to put this into words. Despite the fact that Obi-Wan was renouned for his debate skills, he always felt wholly inarticulate when it came to arguing with Anakin. His former Padawan was adept at turning everything Obi-Wan ever thought or said or did on its ear; he had long gotten used to feeling off his guard around his apprentice, but that didn't mean he liked it.

He sighed again, deciding to try a different approach, deciding to voice the one thing he'd had on his mind since he'd learned of the battle. "Your actions could have gotten you killed," he said, trying to keep his voice even. "Did you even consider that?"

Anakin turned away again, pulling his knees up closer to his chest and letting out a breath of annoyance. It was as though he were a stubborn teenager again, a realization that made Obi-Wan even more aware of how close he had come to losing his apprentice.

"What if… what if something worse than that scar had happened?" he asked, wrapping his robe around himself in a comfortable, protective stance. "You could have been further maimed. You could have been killed."

Anakin shook his head, eyes lowered. "I wouldn't have been, Master," he said, still in that eerie flat voice.

Frustration welled up in Obi-Wan faster than he could release it into the Force. Why couldn't Anakin understand? Why was he so insistent on making Obi-Wan fear the worst? "But you could have!" he exclaimed.

A twisted smirk flitted across Anakin's face. "A Jedi has no attachments," he intoned, touching his new scar tenderly with his mechanical hand. "You'd survive."

Obi-Wan struggled not to clench his fists. Trust Anakin to turn well-learned Jedi platitudes against him. He knew countering this argument would be countering the very oath he'd taken when he became initiated into the Order. He knew Anakin knew that as well, and that he'd purposely set it up so his Master would have no way to assuage his fears. Obi-Wan vacillated harshly. Sometimes, he hated how wise Anakin had become.

He swallowed the lump in his throat and set to work applying a second coat of bacta, the first having already soaked in. Anakin winced minimally once again, and Obi-Wan leaned in, blowing lightly across the scar as the medicine did its job. He had no idea truly if that helped, but Qui-Gon had done something similar when Obi-Wan got himself banged up during lightsaber practice and later, on missions, and something about it - possibly just the intimacy and close proximity to his Master - had always made him feel better. Judging by the way Anakin blinked up at him, more calmly than before, told him that he felt the same way.

And then something in the young man's expression changed. Obi-Wan wished he had time to ponder this, to react to it properly, but the swift tugging on the front of his robes to bring his face down to press against Anakin's took away any opportunity to do so.

He groaned helplessly into Anakin's mouth, his former apprentice's robotic hand tangled in his hair. The smell of bacta invaded his nostrils, and Anakin grunted as Obi-Wan made a vague attempt to pull away. He gave up when the younger man's tongue rubbed against his, seeking entrance into his mouth, allowing the intrusion with faint distress. This was most assuredly not the way Qui-Gon would have handled this situation.

Obi-Wan felt a shiver in the pit of his stomach at that thought, and finally disengaged himself from Anakin's desperate embrace. "Anakin…"

Anakin lowered his head, but Obi-Wan could still see tears glistening in the corners of the younger man's eyes. Maybe he shouldn't have been so hasty to pull away. Maybe Anakin simply wanted physical contact. Maybe… Obi-Wan mentally shook his head. No, this was not the time to think about whether or not he should be kissing Anakin Skywalker.

"I did it for you, Master," Anakin breathed. "I was only thinking of you."

The revelation hit Obi-Wan like a kick to the gut. He knew with sudden clarity that he could not rely on Jedi teachings for this lesson, Qui-Gon's seemingly infinite wisdom be damned. Placing comforting, bracing hands on Anakin's shoulders, he spoke softly to the boy. "I would feel very much the same way if the situation had been reversed," he murmured, then took a shaky breath before going on. "But that doesn't mean you can't get past it. You must, Anakin. You can't live in the past."

Anakin squeezed his eyes shut as if in pain. "I've tried," he choked out, his voice almost tearful. "I try all the time to forget about it, but I can't even get past thinking about all the things she did. To all of her victims, but mostly to you, Master." He sucked in a sob. "And now I ... I can't stop thinking about what I did to her, either!"

He fisted Obi-Wan's robes suddenly, hands both metal and flesh clenched in the folds of the worn brown fabric. "Help me, Obi-Wan," Anakin pleaded in a near-whisper. He tilted his face up desperately. "Help me to forget."

Longing welled up within Obi-Wan, and he struggled to quash his hormonal response. He knew perfectly well what Anakin was asking of him, but he could not bring himself to give his former apprentice what he wanted. As tempting as it was, as much as Obi-Wan wanted to give Anakin anything he wanted, the Jedi Master knew that to do so would be counterproductive, and indeed even damaging.

Instead of pulling Anakin into another kiss, he drew his friend into a tight embrace, feeling Anakin's fists close around his robe, Anakin's tears soaking into the heavy material. "Don't fight it," Obi-Wan urged, rubbing Anakin's back. "Just let it flow through you."

He could feel Anakin open his connection to the Force fully, and nearly was overwhelmed at the strength of it. He was always surprised by Anakin's relationship with the Force, the strength with which he was able to manipulate and communicate with it. And there, in Anakin's Force-connection, was something twisting and dark, something Obi-Wan wanted very much to ignore. "It's okay," he crooned softly as Anakin began sobbing into his shoulder. "It's okay. Just let it flow through you, Anakin," he continued, rubbing soothing circles into the young man's back. "That's the only way for you to heal."

Anakin continued to clutch at him, gasping as he tried to get his breathing under control. "Promise me," he choked out. "Promise you won't leave me."

Obi-Wan was alarmed. "Anaki-" he started to say, but he was interrupted.

"Everyone I ever l-love leaves me," Anakin said in a shuddering whisper. He sniffled and wiped at his eyes, finally glancing up at his Master again.

Obi-Wan was aghast. "A-Anakin," he said, his voice trembling slightly. "Anakin," he tried again, calmer this time. "It ... it's the will of the Force ..."

He was cut off by the sudden jerky movement of Anakin's body slamming him against the nearest wall. His breath was knocked out of him in a 'whoosh', and he gaped at the younger, slightly taller man now glaring at him, his expression feral, his mood shifting in two seconds flat.

"I am so tired," Anakin snarled, "of the will of the Force!" His eyes glinted, and Obi-Wan could feel dark energy swirling around them like a maelstrom. "It wasn't the will of the Force that left my mother on Tatooine as a slave, was it, Master?" This wasn't even Anakin's voice anymore.

Obi-Wan struggled to extract himself from Anakin's grip, but Anakin's rage was making him strong - stronger than Obi-Wan had thought possible. "Anakin, I'm sure if there had been another way…" It probably wasn't the right thing to say, Obi-Wan realized as Anakin's grip tightened.

"It wasn't the will of the Force," Anakin continued, leaning forward, his lips dangerously close to Obi-Wan's ear, "that kept me from her for ten years, Master." The fingers on his robotic hand closed around Obi-Wan's throat, squeezing with no small amount of pressure.

"A-Anakin --" Obi-Wan gasped, prying at them, his heels digging into the wall as he struggled to get his bearings back.

"It wasn't the will of the Force that killed her, was it, Master?" Anakin's voice rose another octave.

"Anakin!"

"AND IT WASN'T THE WILL OF THE FORCE THAT KILLED THEM!" Anakin's eyes were furious, blurring now with tears, and Obi-Wan used what little initiative it gave him to uncurl Anakin's hand from around his neck. He held fast to the younger man's metal fingers, his other hand steadying Anakin's arm should he make a move to attack again. Obi-Wan's mind swam with confusion and hurt; he had taken special pains never to strike his apprentice, difficult though it was with as sharp-tongued as Anakin could sometimes get, and Anakin had never so viciously went at him before. It both puzzled and dismayed him.

However, now was not the time to worry about his own needs; he had to get Anakin stabilized, no matter what it took. "Killed who, Anakin?" he said quietly; cautiously, he brought one hand to Anakin's chin, tilting it upwards slightly so he could see his former Padawan's glassy eyes.

Anakin wet his lips, obviously struggling to keep his composure now. The anger seemed to have gone out of him just as quickly as it had appeared, and now he sagged enough in his own frame that it was almost strange to see him still upright. "My mother was tortured," he said, his voice a hollow whisper. He reached forward and allowed Obi-Wan to act as a brace again. "She was killed by Tusken raiders," he continued. "She ... she died in my arms."

"Oh, Anakin," Obi-Wan breathed.

But Anakin wasn't finished. One last burst of anger propelled itself forward; his eyes glinted anew, glittering murderously. "And I killed them back," he rumbled softly. "All of them. Not one survived. I made sure of it."

Obi-Wan could do nothing, could say nothing. He stood impossibly still and silent as Anakin sank to his knees, his expression open and agonized. This was obviously something he'd held inside himself for a long time, and to voice it was exhausting. But Obi-Wan could not respond. All he could do was think about Anakin on Geonosis, attacking Dooku in anger, attacking without thought or plan. He should have seen it then, should have seen it in Anakin's eyes, should have sensed it in his bond with the boy. And in the aftermath, he should have talked to Anakin, should have asked why he had been on Tatooine, why he was so guarded and why Padme looked at him with such pity and fear in her eyes.

Obi-Wan had assumed it had to do with the mechno. Anakin's anger and frustration with the loss of his arm and what he had considered to be the failure that it had resulted from had been all Obi-Wan could focus on for the weeks of Anakin's rehabilitation. Then more weeks of re-training with Anakin to make sure the cybernetic arm did not interfere with his lightsaber skills or his piloting, and Obi-Wan had forgotten all about the haunted look in Anakin's eyes the first time they'd seen each other in the arena on Geonosis.

Anakin's next words were so soft that Obi-Wan at first wondered if they had been spoken aloud. "I'm not going to be allowed to continue in the Order, am I?" he asked hoarsely, tears spilling silently down his cheeks. "I just did… I just did what I thought…" He trailed off, and Obi-Wan was glad he had not continued the thought, had not outright lied. 'What I thought was right,' was what Anakin had started to say, but they both knew it was not the truth.

He huddled in front of Obi-Wan in a pose similar to the one he'd found him in originally. "You hate me now," he moaned brokenly, the tears coming freely now. "You think I'm worthless. You won't ever want to be my Master after this."

Obi-Wan exhaled slowly, wearily, and crouched alongside Anakin. "That's not true," he said softly, yet firmly. He heard Anakin snort doubtfully and placed a hand on the back of his head, forcing him gently to meet his gaze. "I absolutely do not hate you, Anakin. I dislike some of the things you do, the choices you make. But I care very much for you, and that will not change, ever." He held out his arms and Anakin curled into his embrace, looking very much now like the little boy Qui-Gon had first discovered on Tatooine. So young, Obi-Wan thought. Too young to carry the weight that he does on his shoulders. And yet, definitely old enough to know better.

"Will you ... will you tell the Council?" Anakin murmured, the crown of his head nestled against Obi-wan's throat.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes reflectively. In truth, he knew the Council scrutinized Anakin much more closely, reprimanded him more harshly than the other Jedi. It was a precautionary move, as well as sheer curiosity in just how far the Chosen One could be pushed and prodded, though they would never put it in quite that sense. And though HE would never admit it, he found this rather unfair, though he understand their rationale for such a thing.

"Obi-Wan." Anakin's voice had a tinge of desperation in it, now, both hands fisting tighter in his Master's robes.

Obi-Wan pushed a shock of curls off of the boy's forehead, kissing the expanse of skin he'd just uncovered. "What makes you think they don't already know?" he asked.

Anakin blinked. "But you seemed ... surprised," he said, looking confused.

Obi-Wan smiled sagely. "Perhaps I was not meant to know until now," he said simply. It was not, perhaps, the Jedi-like answer, but it was the only way Obi-Wan could think to put them on equal footing, or as close to it as they could be, still steeped in tradition and titles denoted by the Order they both served. Another day, Obi-Wan promised himself, he would remind Anakin that they could never completely be equals; another day, he would make sure Anakin thought the way he was technically supposed to. For now, though, he would let the young man think he was above all that - that he was special.

After all, Obi-Wan thought hazily, watching out of the corner of his eye as Anakin pressed soft, remorseful kisses to the flesh of his Master's throat, bruised by his hand, he was.

*


Potentially Interesting Sidenote: This was almost entirely constructed from Y!M chats consisting of almost nothing but "askldgha;hklas" and various smiley faces. We hope it translated well. :D
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