Anakin feels unworthy. Ep. III AU, vignette, no spoilers.


by obaona

Author Note: Not beta'ed, though honestly it should be. :p I actually wrote this  to cheer myself up. (I'm a little strange sometimes. )


I am not worthy.

Anakin Skywalker opened his eyes to the dim light of the run-down motel. The faintly blue light hardly illuminated the room, but Anakin didn't need it to see. Faintly ironic, when he considered the symbolism. Theme, myth, symbolism . . . He remembered the teachings of the Jedi at the Temple well, as useless as he had thought learning about art and literature was then.

He sighed, rising from his knees awkwardly. As fit as he was, remaining in meditation for days took a toll on his body. His muscles ached from the stillness, from the contrary nature of exhaustion, in that being so still could be that tiring. He didn't mind it, though; the pain was transitory. It would last minutes before the Force would rush through him in a healing wave, and those insignificant aches would pass away.

Meditation had always been something he had privately dreaded as a Padawan. That was not proper, of course, but he had felt it nevertheless. His Master had never commented on it directly, but made allowances for it anyway, letting him find momentary peace in building things, in fixing things. Anakin had always failed to see the correlation. He had desired to build and repair, because the act had been soothing and comforting, but he had never done so inside himself, which was the whole point of meditation. How long had his Master waited for him to see that?

Too long, he supposed. Too patient, his Master, to the last.

Anakin walked to the broken window, drawing the tattered remains of a curtain out of the way. It was night outside; the faint light came from the sun and the garish lighting of nearby bars and even less discretionary places. Anakin let the thin cloth drop and turned away, going to the table by the single bed, picking up the ration bar he knew to be there. He looked at it for a few seconds, judging how much needed it rather than how much he wanted it.

He tore off the wrapper while heading for the refresher. He looked at the chrono he kept in there, noting that more than a day had passed. The chrono was wet again, though, which meant two things: one, the refresher was leaking rain like the rest of the room now, and two, the time might be off, because the chrono wasn't a very good one and wasn't waterproof.

Feeling somewhat puzzled, Anakin threw the thing in the trash, not bothering to salvage the parts. He didn't remember it raining. And he didn't feel wet.

Definitely more than a day had passed.

He might need to pay for the room again. Or perhaps he should just move on. He didn't feel particularly restless, but the Force did not always announce its guidance loudly. It might be time to move on, to go seeking another place, in search of what he could not find.

Only the innocent and truly good sleep dreamlessly, Anakin reminded himself. And that is why I dream.

Jedi don't dream.

Anakin stared at the useless mirror for lack of anything else to look at. He could have cleaned it, so its surface was once again reflective, but he hadn't wanted to do so. He rubbed the scar by his eye again, though.

The Force told him nothing. It did not tell him to move, as it always had before; it whispered to him, as it always did, of the people outside, of the motel manager who was vaguely grateful for Anakin's intimidating presence, and somewhat frightened of it, too. Impressions of drunken beings flitted by, quickly rising and fading in intensity. As always, the clean nature of the Light overlaid the muddled lives it touched.

But it did not tell him to move on.

"What am I supposed to learn?" Anakin whispered, setting down the ration without eating it. He was a Knight; he should be self-sufficient enough to discover his path on his own, without the prodding of a Master. And yet, at that thought, he could practically hear his Master's voice: Learning never stops, Anakin. And teachers are everywhere.

Anakin stepped back into the main room, staring at the unused bed and the pack that lay upon it. He could search for whatever he was supposed to find. That he could do. He would act, continue onward, until he knew what the Force wanted him to know. But again, that was external; Anakin could go everywhere and learn nothing.

"Master, help me," Anakin said into the quiet.

Always, if it is in my power.

The words were not quite spoken. A wave trembled and halted in the Force, and Anakin stopped all other thought, startled and seeking in the Force. What did he sense? It was some – unique wave, some distinct part of the Force itself settling here, with him.

"Master?" Anakin called to the empty room, voice breaking.

As Anakin's eyes shifted from one spot to another, Obi-Wan appeared. He was indistinct by sight, not quite glowing, but not as solid and real as Anakin was. He looked as Anakin had last seen him. But his presence in the Force – it was like a sea abruptly stilling, the Force waiting, keeping this place unmoving, as if time itself had stopped. An amazing aberration.

Obi-Wan walked to Anakin's side. "Anakin," was his greeting.

Anakin's next words came easily, rehearsed often for no reason at all. "I'm sorry."

"A failure is a lesson in disguise," Obi-Wan said with mischief in his eyes.

A slight smile rose to Anakin's lips. "Then this is a spectacular lesson, Master," he said, his words light, but his tone sad.

"What are you to learn?" Obi-Wan asked softly.

Anakin exhaled. "I don’t know." The Force had led him from place to place for months, not granting him any rest, any peace. Whether he deserved it or not was inconsequential; the Force didn't work that way. It worked in balances and through change.

"Perhaps," Obi-Wan said, moving to sit on the bed, "the lesson is in the journey. Why can't you find peace, Anakin?"

Anakin suddenly didn't want to meet that direct gaze. "Maybe there's some vestige of darkness still in me." He paused. "Something . . . that I haven't let go of. Padmé and the Order took me back when I had mourned their loss and let them go, but . . ." He met Obi-Wan's eyes. "I know you'd forgive me for what I did. For what I almost did."

Obi-Wan bowed his head in acknowledgement, closing his eyes briefly. "Yes."

"Something feels incomplete," Anakin whispered.

"Do you remember those first months when you were my Padawan, Anakin?"

Startled, Anakin answered, "Of course."

"I remember," Obi-Wan said fondly, "when I left you with Master Yoda, I came back to learn that you had run away."

Feeling an absurd twinge of embarrassment, Anakin nodded. The memory was still quite vivid.

"I had thought that it would be a good experience for you, because Yoda was such a wise teacher, and I was so horribly new to the whole thing." His mouth twitched. "Yoda made some comment to you, I never got exactly what the point was, but you took it as a remark about your former status, and decided you could never be a Jedi."

"Master Yoda excels at speaking in confusing conundrums," Anakin said dryly.

"I remember when I got you back, Master Windu kept trying to ask you why you had run away, and he wasn't understanding. You were in tears you were so upset."

Anakin nodded, knowing the story well, listening to Obi-Wan's voice, the cadence of his speaking, more than his words. Going over the memory, from Obi-Wan's perspective this time. He had forgotten Windu's demands for an explanation, as well as his confusion with himself over what to say.

"I finally just sat you down and asked you a question. Just one question. And you answered me, and I understood why you had left," Obi-Wan continued gently. "I never told you, but that instant of understanding – that I had grasped, even as Yoda in his wisdom, Mace in his intelligence, could not – was a powerful moment for me." He paused, and almost unwillingly Anakin met his eyes. "That is when I knew you were meant to be my apprentice, and I your Master. And that was far more than any promise, Anakin."

"Master," Anakin gasped. He knelt before Obi-Wan, like a Padawan in need of apologizing for a grave error, not touching him, not quite daring to test the insubstantial. Obi-Wan was here by such a fragile gift, he could not disturb it. "How can I find your peace in your death?"

"What is the lesson, Anakin?"

Anakin stared at Obi-Wan for a moment longer, than sighed, letting go of his anxiety, his sadness, even – yes – his fear. He closed his eyes. Anakin had returned to the Light, as he held his dying Master in his arms, but the shadow of that death had remained with him, haunting him. Obi-Wan had been the first and last victim of Anakin's Jedi purge. Palpatine had died not long thereafter, the Jedi's reluctant cooperation with Anakin ultimately leading Anakin to the old Sith and his death.

One death. It was one death, Obi-Wan refusing to fight him, that had swayed him away from the dark path. Why Obi-Wan? Why the man he had loved as a father, the man who had raised him? Why did the Force set him in search of nothing, going from meaningless place to meaningless place?

"It's me," Anakin said suddenly, his eyes snapping open. "I'm the one who keeps me here." In the shadows. He had let his old life go, and remained in the Light despite his grief. He survived the exile of the Jedi Order, Padmé's refusal to speak to him. Padmé had, with time, forgiven him of his failure, of taking those first steps, willing and aware, by Palpatine's side. The Council had seen Anakin embrace his destiny, and embraced theirs, in a new future.

But doubt remained for Obi-Wan's death. It could not be undone more than anything else he had done, but he had not let go of it. He could not have peace because he would not give himself any. He could not step onto his path as a Jedi until he let it go. Until he let the Force have it all.

All his grief, all his guilt, all his pain, all the selfishness in wanting to keep whatever remained of Obi-Wan.

Dreams pass in time.

Obi-Wan smiled. "You are a Jedi Knight," he said softly. "Be one with everything you are. The past is gone, and you know you are forgiven."

Anakin nodded finally, his vision blurring, but no tears falling. "Are you going now, Master?" and he sounded so much like a child, when he said that.

"I'll always be with you," Obi-Wan said simply, and the stillness of the moment was fading. "The Force will always be with you."

Anakin exhaled slowly at Obi-Wan's last words, the ultimate comfort for any Jedi. When Obi-Wan faded away, between one glance and the next, he wasn't surprised, and he did not mourn the passing of the last, comforting mental touch of his Master. The Force was balanced, and everything was changing. He was worthy to be a Jedi Knight; he knew that because he was a Jedi in his soul. He would be one for however long he would live, and he was still living. Work had yet to be done. He had accepted this life of service to the Force, and it had given him so much in return.

It was time to move on. It was time to go home. His aimless journey was over.

All things pass away.