Characters/Pairings: Anakin/Obi-Wan, mentions of Padmé and Qui-Gon
Word Count: 2,742
Summary: It was our word.
Author's Notes: This should have been posted last week, but for various reasons that were largely beyond my control, it unfortunately wasn't. Anyway, better late than never, I suppose! This is a birthday gift for my very good friend Deborah, aka gizzi1213, whom I feel so privileged to have been able to get to know and chat with over the last six months or so. We've had our occasional shipping differences (*cough*Obidalarules*cough*) and we are both extremely opinionated (*cough*KaraThraceistheonetrueStarbuck*c
It was our word.
It always felt weird to me when someone else said it. Often it came as part of another sentence. That’s the way most people use that word, after all. But to us it meant something special, something real, something almost comforting.
As I walk through the field the word comes to my mind again. Hungry for the approval and the love I could no longer have from my mother, I naturally gravitated towards the man who in my mind should have taken over. My Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The truth was, I felt just as opposed to being his apprentice as he felt towards being my master. I can look back now and realize that we were both grieving, that we should have had some time apart after Qui-Gon’s death to contemplate and accept everything that was going to change about our lives. But that realization has only come with the wisdom of years – many, many years. And the reality is probably something else, that the Force had this kind of relationship in mind for us, that everything which happened after the Battle of Naboo happened for a reason.
Of course, it was hard to convince myself of that at the time (and it’s even harder to do so now). In the first weeks we barely acknowledged each other. Obi-Wan insisted on the politeness of “Good morning” and “Good night” and “Please” and “Thank you” and “Excuse me,” which felt silly to me because I already knew all of those rules. He made me call him Master even though I would have much preferred to call him Obi-Wan. At night we retired to our separate rooms in his quarters and missed Qui-Gon terribly. He never said anything to that effect, but I sensed Obi-Wan had loved him as a father.
I felt guilty after I came to that realization, because I knew simultaneously that I did not love Obi-Wan as a father. I did not love him as an anything, really. He was just another new face. But it seemed to me that Masters and Padawans should have close relationships, and since most Jedi did not have parents they could remember, that relationship should be almost familial. Or at least friendly. Obi-Wan and I were not friendly. We followed his rules, but we were not friendly.
I make my way over the crest of a hill. I’m wondering when I’ll see him, or even if I’ll see him. I’m remembering that word.
I think it started when I’d finally had enough of being polite, and decided to confront him about it. This was a supremely dangerous thing to do, but I don’t recall being scared. I figured the worst that might happen was that they’d send me back to Tatooine, and since I missed my mother in equal if not greater measure to Qui-Gon, this didn’t seem like a punishment. I was going to complain to Obi-Wan about how he was treating me, about how we treated each other. Through an accident of misfortune (or good fortune, I suppose, depending on how you want to look at it), the confrontation occurred on the first anniversary of Qui-Gon’s death.
I knocked on his door with all of my words prepared and memorized, only to have them flee from my mind when he called, “Come in,” and his voice was a barely-audible croak. He tried to camouflage the streaks of wet on his cheeks, but I saw them and I remembered Qui-Gon had been killed that very day, one year ago, and immediately I felt abashed. I made up my mind that my Master needed comfort, needed to smile, and that I would arrange that somehow.
Of course, I was a child. And in my mind, the only way to cheer someone up was to make them laugh. And the only way to make them laugh was to tickle them.
It felt indescribably strange to walk up to Obi-Wan with those intentions. It felt stranger still to climb onto his bed, ignoring his questions and protests, and to tell him that I was sorry about Qui-Gon’s death, but that he needed to be cheered up and that’s what I was going to do. Strangest of all was when he finally stopped trying not to laugh and submitted, and then the moment when he turned what was previously a one-sided fight into a two-sided fight.
One of us said the word. Who and why are blurred in my memory and they aren’t important, anyway. It probably began as a request to stop, a plea for mercy. But someone shouted, “You!” and the other person shouted it back and suddenly, inexplicably, the frost was gone.
So many meanings, I muse as my feet slide over the warm grass. We must have used every one of them. Where were you? I’m so angry at you. I’m very disappointed in you. What were you doing? Why do I even bother with you? I was so worried about you. You seem a little on edge. I’m glad you are safe. May I make love to you? I’ve disappointed you. You are strong and wise. I don’t know what I would do without you. You were the Chosen One. I hate you. I love you.
For something that began as a joke, and then evolved into a tension reliever, those three letters became vitally important to us. We would use them to comfort each other, to confound those around us, to console one another when things turned difficult. And although we were often at each other’s throats because we were so different, there was a simple way to stop the flow of hurtful words and frustration. Obi-Wan, who despised arguments in general, was usually the first to make use of it. He’d look me in the eye – I can still see his blue eyes as clearly as if I’m looking into them now – and say calmly, “You.”
I would release a deep breath, often unclenching my hands, and look into his eyes in turn and repeat our word. “You.”
I see him now, on the other side of the clearing. He’s sitting cross-legged, probably meditating. That was one of his favourite activities and I always used to tease him about it because I hated doing it myself. I see him as he was when we last parted, amicably, with a gentle smile on his face, his hair flopping over his forehead and his eyes, those eyes I have never been able to forget, even through everything. His countenance is light, miraculously free of the frown lines that pervaded it in life. I feel the word slipping onto my lips but I hold it, just a little longer. There will be time. An eternity’s worth of time.
During the war, the word was our lifeline. We started saying it to each other at the end of every day and it became a way for us to check on the other’s feelings, to make sure that the battles we’d had to fight had not affected us too deeply. It became as much about releasing tension and connecting on a human level as it did about resolving the occasional arguments we still had. In my view it became even more.
Then one night Obi-Wan did not respond to our word. It had been a difficult day; an entire unit of clone troopers had been wiped out by a new type of mine the Separatists had invented. We weren’t able to warn them not to cross the field until it was too late. The unit leader had died in my Master’s arms.
Obi-Wan sat on his narrow cot, staring at nothing. His breath was ragged. I tried again, my voice rising with concern. Still he did not answer. He didn’t even move. Feeling as nervous as I had when I was eleven years old, as nervous as I had on my wedding night, I approached him. I laid a hand on his shoulder, and although it was not my intention, my fingers began to knead, gently massaging the stiff knots of tension he was carrying within him. More surprising still, he leaned into my touch and his lips parted in a soft moan.
“Obi-Wan?” I whispered, suddenly afraid of myself.
“Don’t,” he whispered back, so low I had to lean forward to catch the words, “don’t stop. Don’t stop.”
I added my mechanical hand. The servomotors whirred loudly as I massaged his shoulders.
I realized I was still leaning forwards, that I had not drawn back. Even more, that I did not want to. And it seemed such a simple leap from that realization to the fact that Obi-Wan was turning his head, inching closer, pressing his lips to mine. You can’t refuse a kiss. At least, I would never refuse a kiss, not from someone so close to me. It seemed natural to respond.
So I did.
We did nothing else that night. I had a horrible sense that I had wronged my wife in some way, and I tried to imagine telling her that I had kissed my Master. Padmé was open-minded and would never have objected to such a relationship between strangers. But she loved me. She loved me, and I had made a vow forsaking all others. Surely that meant not only women, but men?
But I loved Obi-Wan.
I realized that the very next time we completed a difficult mission, a mission in which we needed to sacrifice many innocent lives. I realized it when Obi-Wan removed his tunics so that I could clean the cuts and soothe the bruises along his back and chest, and when I removed mine so that he could do the same thing. I realized it with every catch of his breath. And so I used our word, and I bent to kiss him again.
I did not love Obi-Wan the way I loved Padmé. I knew that at the same time I knew that what I felt for him was more than brotherly. We shared a bond that ran as deeply as the one I had established with my wife. But it traversed different paths in my psyche. It triggered different feelings, different emotions, different thoughts. And, I soon came to understand, different desires.
The night that I kissed him for the second time was also the night that we made love for the first time. My newfound feelings were roiling inside me and I wanted desperately to do something with them, to experience them, to examine them and understand them and … embrace them. I deepened the kiss we had begun moments earlier and pushed at his lips with my tongue, seeking entrance, seeking consent. Both were granted.
The act itself seemed for me to be the culmination of everything we’d said to each other and done for each other and felt for each other. As was usual in every other aspect of our partnership I took the lead, pleasuring Obi-Wan first and bringing him to fulfillment, a smile on my lips as they encircled his cock and accepted him as he thrust into me. When I’d milked him for the last of his seed I licked my mouth and kissed him, letting him taste himself on me. His eyes were a shade of blue I’d never seen before, a shade I had not known could exist in the universe. They darkened as he teased my entrance, evidence of my own arousal bobbing against the bed.
No words were spoken as he took me to my own climax. Things were different than with Padmé and I was grateful for that. It helped me to cleave my two loves apart in my mind. If I could focus on my wife while on Coruscant and Obi-Wan while on the battlefield the act itself would not seem so abhorrent. It would not seem so much as though I was giving in to a kind of temptation that ought to be forbidden me as a married man. But another part of my mind insisted that this was not wrong, that in fact nothing could have been more right. I listened to that part because I had always wanted to do the right thing.
And I loved Obi-Wan. I loved him with all my heart and mind and soul.
The feel of him moving inside me and of us shattering simultaneously was one I wouldn’t forget. I wouldn’t forget it and so I would ask for it, or he would, many more times. I would ask for it when the separation from Padmé became unbearable. He would ask for it when a battle maneuver had gone particularly poorly. It was a way for us to keep our connection to each other and to the Living Force so omnipresent in the life of the man who drew us together. It was a way for us to fulfill ourselves. It was a way for us to bring our word into a new meaning, a new context.
One of us always said it when we came, and then it would be the other’s job to answer. Sometimes I would pound it out as he thrust into me. Sometimes he would moan it obscenely as I licked his cock and fingered him. But it was still inexplicably and indisputably our word.
You, you, you.
I pause in my meandering through the field. I have reached him, and I wait patiently for him to come out of his meditative trance. I realize I am admiring Obi-Wan, unabashedly, but I don’t want to stop. I have missed him. I am only starting to rediscover I, what I truly means, because for so many years I was buried beneath layers of black armour and scar tissue and anger and guilt and regret. The emotions were as impenetrable as the armour if not more so. The emotions kept me shackled to another Master, a Master whose lies and tricks I should have seen through. I began my life as a slave and I would have ended it as a slave had it not been for my son, and for Padmé, and for Obi-Wan. Especially for Padmé and for Obi-Wan.
He looks up then and his eyes are clear, bright, pleased, and a smile comes to his face. It’s that smile I remember, that smile that always manages to say so little and so much at the same time. It’s that smile that could always make me smile back.
I do so, now, and I remember the time I said goodbye to him.
Of course he could not have known it, but I like to think he did anyway. I like to think he felt it in his subconscious. I like to think he brought it to the surface of his memory in those nineteen years of exile watching over Luke. I like to think he took it for what it was: a goodbye, and an honest apology. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I could not be the man we both thought I was.
I revisit the memory now, though it is painful. I remember Obi-Wan slipping into Soresu, as he always did, and the entity that was consuming me fighting him into the control room and bending him back, back, one mechanical hand around his neck. I remember the noises he made as he choked, his windpipe being forced closed. I remember fighting myself, fighting the darkness, fighting the part of me that had my love in his grip, and my lips moved as I whispered it.
I have blotted out much of what follows. But I know that Vader released Obi-Wan shortly after this declaration.
I like to think it was my love for my Master that made the Sith do this, although of course I know otherwise.
Shaking my head I watch as Obi-Wan rises to look me in the eye. His auburn hair and beard catch the sunlight and my breath. I watch his hand come to my shoulder and squeeze, much as I did for him all those years ago. When around us there was nothing but war and death and pain.
Now we are both a part of the Living Force, and it seems fitting.
I look him directly in the eye. I owe him that much.
“You,” I say.
The smile grows wider.
“You,” he replies.
He is warm against me as we embrace.