mattlauercansuckit: (i hope you're happy)
[personal profile] mattlauercansuckit
title without granting innocence
author [livejournal.com profile] patientalien
rating R
word count 1122
summary post-RotS AU, Anakin is cast out, and Obi-Wan is his warden
notes Written for the "ostracised from society" prompt on my [livejournal.com profile] hc_bingo card. Dear Lord, I used lyrics from "How to Save a Life" by The Fray for a title. WUT. I think this might be the darkest one yet (like, really dark) so, uh, be warned.
warning(s) self-harm, suicide, character death

-----

It's nothing less than he has expected. Even in less than right mind, he knows what he has done deserves punishment. Deserves death. One does not slaughter an entire Order without expectation of payment in kind.

While Darth Vader - Anakin Skywalker again, maybe - invites execution (he killed so many of his friends, his wife, his Padawan), the truth is much crueler. They don't even send him to the Citadel, where he would have been free to rot alone.

He is to be a free man, from a certain point of view. Removed from the Force, and from society at large, but free. Free to roam the planet of his exile, free to accept employment from whoever might employ a former Jedi-turned Sith Lord turned nobody. As his warden is the man who raised him, and Anakin is unsure if this is a punishment for Obi-Wan, too.

It is not rehabilitation. It is so he will wake every night to the screams of his victims with no recourse.

-----


Saleucami is not inhospitable, but it is remote, escape nearly impossible. Anakin has no desire to escape, not from Saleucami, anyway.

There are villages, and the two find themselves in one at the far side of a huge caldera, remnants of a meteor storm eons before. They are the only humans, which makes them curiosities. They have nothing with them indicating they were once Jedi and they are left alone.

-----


For weeks they live in silence. Obi-Wan does not speak to him, and Anakin cannot bring himself to speak. He doesn't know what to say. That he's sorry, that he wants to take it all back, that he surrendered on Mustafar not because Obi-Wan had the high ground but because Anakin wanted it to go back to how it was, before. He's said it all, and Obi-Wan has not believed him. Anakin doesn't expect him to start now.

That's not to say Obi-Wan ignores him outright. Usually they circle around each other, but Obi-Wan cooks their meals and they eat together. He rubs soothing circles on Anakin's back during the worst of the nightmares. He washes Anakin's hair when Anakin can't get out of bed on his own. He just does it silently, solemnly, sadly.

-----


No lightsaber means every cut wells with blood, every burn blisters and oozes. The first time Obi-Wan discovers him in their 'fresher, crouched beside the toilet, blood staining the white fixtures, is the first time he speaks. "Anakin, what are you doing?" He sounds horrified, as if he is surprised.

Anakin can only shake his head over and over, hot tears stinging the slashes in his flesh arm. He can't speak his agony to Obi-Wan, doesn't deserve to expound on his grief, not to this man he has hurt so violently, so personally.

Obi-Wan wraps his wounds in bacta patches and lapses back into silence.

-----


They get the holonet, and watch the galaxy rebuild. Anakin curls up on the sofa and stares through the projections. Whenever the news is on, Obi-Wan has to get up several times, unable to watch a world he is no longer a part of.

Anakin forces himself to watch the nightly tally of names of lost Jedi, and when his and Obi-Wan's names appear, he goes into the 'fresher and doesn't emerge again until he has blood-purged his grief.

-----


Anakin isn't sure if Obi-Wan begins talking to him again in an attempt to keep him from staining all of their towels with his guilt, or if it's because Obi-Wan finally cannot stand the silence anymore. In any case, when he greets Anakin at breakfast one morning, it's almost easy to forget they're not just on another mission. And then Anakin reaches out with the Force, meets a brick wall, and remembers.

-----


After three mornings of "Good morning, Anakin," Anakin responds. His voice is hoarse with disuse and the remaining effects of Mustafar's sulfurous air, but he manages to return the greeting. He feels shy, like his first morning as Obi-Wan's apprentice, but with an undercurrent there.

He's not sure what to call his old Master. Obi-Wan never feels right on his tongue, but he knows that 'Master' isn't right either, not after he'd sworn allegiance to another and then recanted.

He doesn't know what to call Obi-Wan, but he talks to him anyway.

-----


Talking doesn't fix anything, because they never talk about why they're on Saleucami to begin with. Neither of them can forget and neither of them can talk about it, so they talk about everything else. When he's wrapping up Anakin's arm or legs or stomach, wiping away the blood and thumbing away the tears, Obi-Wan tells stories. Usually they are about his apprenticeship, but sometimes they are ancient tales. They are never stories about Anakin's apprenticeship, because they both know how that story ends.

-----


Anakin has one scar per Jedi he's killed. He's keeping track, comparing his flesh to the lists read on the holonet news every night. Even when the lists stop, he continues, determined to pay his penance in blood. If he can't die, at least he can physically suffer. Because physical suffering he can deal with, can quantify, can understand. Emotional suffering is what got him into trouble in the first place.

-----


Obi-Wan kisses him one afternoon, and he's not sure what to do. While they'd once been lovers in the dark secret places between battles, since their exile they've barely touched each other beyond the clinical detachment of Obi-Wan's cleansing of his wounds. But then Obi-Wan kisses him, and Anakin realizes that he's wanted it all along. He kisses back, and then they're entwining their bodies and for the first time Anakin feels almost whole again, but then Obi-Wan pushes away, says it is a mistake.

And Anakin is empty again, and alone.

-----


Their lives unfold in spurts and spasms. Anakin goes between blood-stained bathrooms to sinking into glasses of whiskey and back again. Obi-Wan, always dutiful, follows and cleans up the mess, but does not initiate physical contact again. When Anakin wakes up screaming, Obi-Wan offers kind words, but no embraces. Anakin hugs himself, reverts, rocks back and forth, head buried in his knees.

-----


It is Obi-Wan that suggests the idea that both of their suffering can be alleviated. Anakin never thought he'd hear such words from his old Master, but he embraces the idea with a passion he's not felt in what seems like - and must be, by now - years.

-----


The poison is fast-acting, but not so fast that they do not have time to entwine their bodies, hands clasped, evil and pain and madness nothing but a bittersweet memory.

Date: 2011-09-22 05:17 am (UTC)
ext_25678: (rainygarden)
From: [identity profile] pronker.livejournal.com
Such a downward spiral can only end like this -- good, and sad, and good.

Date: 2011-09-23 12:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Thanks! Sad was kind of what I was going for, lol

Date: 2011-09-23 02:20 am (UTC)
ext_25678: (leiajacenjaina)
From: [identity profile] pronker.livejournal.com
I like tragedies so I liked it a lot.

THIS JUST IN; 'X-MEN:FIRST CLASS' WAS THE ANSWER TO WHEEL OF FORTUNE'S 'MOVIE TITLE' SECTION!!!

Date: 2011-09-23 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Hooray! If hooray can be used in such a circumstance.


YESSSSSSS

Date: 2011-09-22 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] citizenjess.livejournal.com
Seriously the most bittersweet thing you've written, I think. If I didn't know better, I would ask if you were okay because this is, wow, just kind of heart-shattering. OMG. ♥

Date: 2011-09-23 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
I am okay. I'm glad you liked it. :)

Date: 2011-09-22 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com

I often wonder how things might have gone if Anakin had surrendered or realized that the fight of Mustafar was unwinnable. This was a heartbreaking and well-written possibility.

Date: 2011-09-23 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
There are so many like "Anakin surrenders/turns back/whatever" RotS AUs that are just... ridiculously happy and hopeful and I just... don't see it going that way, like at all.

Date: 2011-09-23 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com
LOL, I've read some of those, and I just wonder how you figure after all the shit that went down. Not happy ending material indeed.

Date: 2011-09-23 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Like, even if he turns back from the Dark Side and Padme lives and so on and so forth, dude's still a war criminal and still is seriously unbalanced.
(deleted comment)

Re: Um...bit of disagreeing.

Date: 2011-10-10 12:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
I'm not saying the Council and Palpatine definitely didn't play a role in Anakin's fall. But by that time in the war, Anakin is very clearly suffering from serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and even if he were able to overcome the temptations of the Dark Side, and even if the Council took their heads out of their asses long enough to realize they'd been out of touch with reality, he'd still have some serious issues that he would need to work through.

Additionally, if he turned from the Dark Side after Order 66/Operation Knightfall, I honestly can't see a reality where a happy ending would be viable - even if it's the Council's fault/Palpatine's fault... and even if he weren't punished for it, per se, it's something that would gravely affect him for the rest of his life.

Re: Um...bit of disagreeing.

Date: 2011-10-10 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyhadhafang.livejournal.com
Ah. I see. :) *Sighs* I'm very sorry for the misunderstanding.

Re: Um...bit of disagreeing.

Date: 2011-10-10 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
I think the difference is I am definitely looking at this from a more clinical/mental health perspective when it comes to the fallout of the war and his turn, that's all.

Re: Um...bit of disagreeing.

Date: 2011-10-10 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyhadhafang.livejournal.com
Yeah, from a mental health perspective, it makes sense. He'd recover eventually, but I can't say it'd be easy. (Even then, the former part of the statement's...questionable. :/)

Re: Um...bit of disagreeing.

Date: 2011-10-10 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
It's a matter of degrees with recovery, I think. It's one thing to be redeemed at the end of Return of the Jedi, at the end of his life when he won't have to actually deal with the stuff he did. It's another thing to be "redeemed" early enough in the process to avoid Mustafar - he's still committed murder and still had to come to terms with being so thoroughly manipulated by Palpatine (and the Council, to an extent), plus the myriad issues that caused him to think turning would be a viable solution in the first place.

Re: Um...bit of disagreeing.

Date: 2011-10-10 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyhadhafang.livejournal.com
Very true. Very true...

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