mattlauercansuckit: (defying gravity)
[personal profile] mattlauercansuckit
title Hero With No Fear
author [livejournal.com profile] patientalien
word count 1050
rating PG
summary After a particularly harrowing mission, Anakin finds himself unable to do something he loves.
notes Written for the "phobia" prompt on my [livejournal.com profile] hc_bingo card.

-----



The yellow Delta-6 rips through the trees, engines flaming, controls shot. This is not a controlled fall, it is a crash in the most basic definition of the term. It is not the kind of crash even the best pilot in the galaxy can turn around, and so when the starfighter buries itself in the soft soil, the expectation is to find a body, not a survivor.

But since the pilot is Anakin Skywalker, body recovery turns into a rescue mission. He is alive, barely, protected by his skill with the Force and his stubborn determination to live.

-----


The bacta heals the worst of his injuries. His Master and Padawan come to see him, he complains about the food in the Halls of Healing, and about being sidelined from the war. He is eager to be back in the fight, always on the move.

He wants to get back out as soon as he is released, but he is given the instruction to build up his physical strength again. He does not want to; he just wants to fly.

-----


His fighter is destroyed beyond repair, but they provide him a new one, yellow and gleaming in the hanger. He grins; a new fighter means more opportunities for customization, it means he can tinker with it all he wants until it hums better than the old one.

He climbs into the cockpit to give it a test run, but as the canopy closes, he smells fuel, feels the engine shudder, the sweltering heat of re-entry. The galaxy tilts as his heart hammers in his chest, knowing the impact is going to come, that he's going to be stuck in the cockpit and no one will ever find him.

The Hero With No Fear panics, and jumps out of the cockpit, down to the ground, crouching with one hand on the deck platings, panting. He doesn't understand his physical reaction; he's crashed before.

He's never been stuck in his downed fighter, injured and alone, for five days before.

-----


He avoids the hanger, instead working with Ahsoka on sparring and trying to meditate. Neither help the sick feeling in his gut every time he thinks about his fighter. He wants to work on it, wants to play with the engines and the manifolds, but going near the hanger gives him cold sweats.

He doesn't mention it to anyone, doesn't want anyone to think him weak, stupid, childish. He is the Chosen One, and he can get over this on his own.

-----


He leaves his window open at night so he can escape if he needs to. He dreams about the crash, wakes up and stretches his limbs out to prove he can still move them, isn't stuck in the tiny cockpit, inspects his body to make sure he is not bleeding. He hoards bottles of water to stave off the throbbing ache of dehydration.

Soon, he doesn't even bother trying to sleep. His bedroom is too claustrophobic, and so he rests in the Room of a Thousand Fountains, underneath a blanket of artificial stars.

-----


Obi-Wan asks why he hasn't taken his fighter out yet, why it's still sitting on its hardstand gathering dust. He can't say. Just shakes his head, claims other obligations.

He knows Obi-Wan does not believe him.

-----


He tries again one night, when he's sure no one else is around. Steps tentatively into the hanger, trying to calm his breathing through the Force. He manages to make it to his fighter, and he runs his hands lovingly over the wings. He loves his fighter, loves to fly, he reminds himself.

He pulls himself into the cockpit and sits with the canopy open, inspecting the control panel, testing the start-up protocols. His heart pounds painfully in his chest, but he tries to ignore it, finally allowing the canopy to close around him.

He lasts exactly two and a half minutes.

-----


The ritual repeats itself every night for the next week, until he is able to close the canopy and start the engines and remain seated, eyes squeezed shut, for twenty minutes. Thirty. An hour. He still can't bring himself to take off, but he can at least sit in the cockpit and breathe, now.

-----


Eventually, they are called back to the war. A fleet of Separatist ships surround a vital Republic world, and it's up to Anakin, the Resolute, and the 501st to break the blockade. They've done it a hundred times before.

Anakin stands in the hanger bay of the Resolute beside his fighter, Gold Squadron standing at attention in front of him, waiting for his order. He knows they expect him to be out in the fight with them; he has never once willingly sat out a space battle. With his troops, and Ahsoka, looking to him expectantly, he knows he has to swallow his dread and do his duty.

He expects once he's out there it will all be fine, he just needs to take that step.

-----


He is wrong. He leads the fighter squadron, his shiny-new yellow fighter streaking out from the Resolute, the Clones' ARC-170s dutifully following behind. The first Separatist cannon bolt screams past him, and he forgets everything. He feels like he is going to pass out, hyperventilating, heart racing.

He curses himself for his weakness. He is the Hero With No Fear, and he's paralyzed by his terror. He feels ridiculous, stupid and very, very young.

Taking a moment to regroup, he calls on the Force, sinks into it, trying to regain the kind of single-minded battle meditation he has always excelled in. Everything else fades away.

-----


Anakin hardly realizes he's back until Ahsoka is tugging on his tunic. He blinks, discovers he's standing on the landing deck. He takes stock, counts his men. Only two lost, and the others are in good shape. He feels better, relief making his shoulders feel lighter, the dread that has clutched his insides melting.

He knows that it will take longer; one time out isn't enough to undo whatever's wrong in his brain, but it gives him the strength to keep it to himself, to continue to act as if everything is fine. He is the Hero With No Fear, and he cannot be stopped.

Date: 2011-10-07 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] citizenjess.livejournal.com
I think my favorite part of this was Anakin trying to like, coax himself that the fighter isn't going to hurt him, and kind of running his hands over and trying to get comfortable again. He sees it the way someone might see a horse that's thrown him from its back; it's kind of heartbreaking to see him trying to learn to get back in the saddle.

Date: 2011-10-07 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
♥ You just made me feel better about this thing.

Date: 2011-10-07 12:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] citizenjess.livejournal.com
What, it's a good story, farthead. :P

Date: 2011-10-07 12:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
I just, IDK, I wasn't sure what to do with the prompt so I really feel like it's the weakest of the bunch. I like parts of it, but it's not one of my stronger stories, I don't think.

Date: 2011-10-07 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] citizenjess.livejournal.com
I mean I think you're going to be hard pressed to write something as palpably horrific as Obi-Wan and Anakin drinking poison together or the scary-ass therapy Anakin is submitted to in order to get over Ahsoka, but I still like this. Again, Fartheaaaaddd. :P

Date: 2011-10-07 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Well thank you. :P I have a couple other prompts where my outlines kind of just say "Uh, something something Anakin, something Ahsoka, IDK...." so maybe this will not be the one that sucks the most.

Date: 2011-10-07 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wyncatastrophe.livejournal.com
Gosh dang it, now you've made me cry. ;( But it is a beautifully written fic.

Date: 2011-10-07 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Many thanks! I fear PTSD!Anakin is kind of a running theme...

Date: 2011-10-07 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wyncatastrophe.livejournal.com
Well, the canon does sort of set that up …

Date: 2011-10-07 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
Yeaaahhhhh, it really does.

Date: 2011-10-07 02:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com
He is the Hero With No Fear, and he's paralyzed by his terror.

Which just pretty much sums up Anakin as an adult and more and more as time goes on. Great story.

Date: 2011-10-07 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
That's kind of what really gets me, especially reading Stover's novelization and stuff - Anakin's public persona is almost a complete opposite of his private life in terms of that sort of thing.

Date: 2011-10-07 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com
I know! That's what I loved about his novelization is that you see how his external and internal self are completely at odds. He's the Hero With No Fear, except he has so many fears, probably more than any other Jedi around him, and they eventually consume him.

I think you did a great job here of showing how Anakin slowly copes with his fear about flying. I've said it a lot, but you just write Anakin very well, and I always understand a little bit more about him after I read one of your stories. Those are the best stories.

Date: 2011-10-07 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
I love how Stover works in like the media's role in the war. He does it with Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor too (which has some really interesting Luke-learning-about-Anakin stuff), and I think it plays on that whole celebrity isn't always what it's cracked up to be, and don't believe the hype about a person because chances are that person might just kill all the Jedi or something.

:D That's such a major complement. I try to focus on a different... aspect... with each of my stories so they're not just the same thing over and over. Plus I just love writing about Anakin because I'm a horribly-horrible fangirl.

oops

Date: 2011-10-07 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-erupt.livejournal.com
I can't help but wonder if the hype around him helped in making him feel trapped with his fears. I mean, certainly the Jedi dogma about letting go and all this, but I figure the media painting him as this fearless hero didn't help matters. Now, I need to pull that book of the shelf and re-read. I don't keep a lot of SW novels, but I held onto that one.

I think what you've done with these stories for you hc bingo card is shine a light on various facets of Anakin and what makes him who he is and also, very importantly, the relationships in his life which I think pretty much define Anakin. So, you just keep being a horrible fangirl. :D

Re: oops

Date: 2011-10-07 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patientalien.livejournal.com
There was definitely a lot he felt like he had to live up to - the Chosen One thing, the fearless hero thing. I think his early performance in the war built up expectations, both his own and others' - and as things progress and the war starts to really affect him and he just can't anymore, he pushes himself harder because he doesn't want to let anyone down.

:D Well, I will do that, then. I've come to really enjoy writing about Anakin from other characters' POVs - it's kind of interesting.

Date: 2011-10-07 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sileri.livejournal.com
I really like this. It makes you wonder what happens when he goes careening off into space before the Death Star gets blown up.

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