Cut to the top of a Coruscant building where we see Anakin sitting, repeating his attempt at meditating. From behind in a low shot, a figure is seen slowly walking up to him. Without turning around and with much reaction, Nik addresses him. “You didn’t need to come all the way up you know? My comlink’s always active if you need to reach me.”
Its Kenobi’s voice that responds as he explains that he wanted to talk face to face and that when he heard Anakin was here that it seemed better than another loud docking bay again. He says the latter as he sits down next to Nik, the two of them now side by side looking over the vast capital city ahead of them.
Noticing that Skywalker still has his eyes closed, Ben comments that he didn’t know he came up here to mediate. The younger man replies that he didn’t used to, but he’s found himself here more and more. Obi-Wan nods at first and takes in the surroundings. He inquires if he prefers the solitude. That’s the question that finally gets Anakin to open his eyes, which still seem bit weary.
“There’s not enough quiet anywhere else… I miss the quiet.” After a pause, he turns to see Kenobi’s somewhat concerned look and in response develops a small smirk. “I can’t believe I once thought wamprats were the loudest distraction a man could have.” Ben slightly smiles at the remark but his concern doesn’t go away.
Sensing the mood, Nik breaks the silence again, saying sorry for his outburst earlier and he’ll send a formal apology to Organa soon. Obi-Wan tells him its a good gesture, even if the latter has probably heard worse at most Senate hearings. Anakin has his own small grin at that, however the lightness of the moment passes and the awkward silence returns.
Ben is the first to speak, asking him straight up if he’s alright, and that he’s not asking as a teacher or a Jedi Knight, but as a friend. Skywalker appears to quickly answer, but seeing Kenobi’s penetrating expression, he has to pause and can only respond that he’s managing well enough. Ben’s reply cuts straight to the point. “Managing what?”
The words have Nik standing up and getting some distance between the two. Clear empathy in his voice, Obi-Wan says he can tell him whatever the problem is and that the two have never needed to hide anything from each other. Skywalker flinches at that last remark which isn’t caught by Kenobi, the latter only noticing Anakin seemingly nodding in agreement afterward.
His tone now both nostalgic and a bit embarrassed, Nik begins to talk. “When we left Tatooine the second time, you know the one really stupid question I couldn’t get out of my head those first couple of days? How would I look as an old Jedi? How much hair would I still have? Which joint would give me the first bit of trouble? Hell, just how wrinkled was this brow going to get?” The queries have Ben bemused, but interested as the other man continues.
“Its funny, all those times over the years I’d get hurt by something, blaster shot that got too close, bad landing on a platform, things like that and with the Force I could get calm and stay focused. But every once in a while the first thought I’d actually have was “Well, there’s another old man scar.”” Anakin says the last bit snickering, and adds that he used to able to clearly imagine the scratched and bruised codger Carima would be putting up with one day and the image of it always made him chuckle.
The wistfulness of the idea lights up Nik’s profile and for a beat its the happiest he’s looked for some time. Just as quickly however his face drops and his voice his marred by the same touch of melancholy as before. He moves back closer to Obi-Wan when he speaks again. “I can’t picture the old man as much these days, and when I can, I don’t laugh at him anymore, Ben. He’s- he’s like… a dream that I just don’t know how to remember now.”
The severity of what’s been said is not entirely lost on Kenobi and he gently places his hand on Skywalker’s shoulder. “Anakin, fear hits all of us, soldier and Jedi alike. You have to know you aren’t in alone in that. I’ve felt the same way many a time.”At that Nik looks genuinely surprised and his eyebrows go up, the smallest hints of hope that the other man gets what he’s trying to tell him.
Obi-Wan goes on. “My friend, we aren’t the first, nor will we be the last Knights to carry a fear of death in us. Its the enemy we defend against every day. And its the connection with the Force that let’s us accept its place without deciding our destiny. Whatever we lose, faith in that link is what guides a Jedi when they need it most.”
Skywalker’s face is rigid, but his eyes subtly reveal the quiet disappointment at Ben’s incorrect assesmeent of what his real fear is, and Nik manages a few faux nods of agreement as his old friend finishes. Kenobi tells him that with the war also close to over, and his student’s continued success against so many odds, he senses Anakin will be a Jedi whose long life will be more inspiring than he himself realizes. “I can’t imagine someone like the Darth Vader would be capable of anything less.”
They’re words that have Anakin quietly agreeing afterward, but its a subdued concurrence on his part, only unnoticed by his mentor because of Nik’s forced display of relief. He thanks Ben for his reassurance, and says he’ll think about what he’s said. Before the conversation can continue, Obi-Wan’s comlink goes off with a message from Organa, telling him of one last necessary briefing before his departure. The former answers that he understands and says he’ll be there soon.
He once again tells Skywalker that his fears aren’t unique and compliments him, saying he’s never known a man who’s embodied the best aspects of a Jedi Knight like him. As Ben’s leaving, Nik’s initially tempted to say nothing, but then asks that when the mission’s over if they can have a real conversation about what they’ll be doing after the war. Kenobi nods matter of factly and replies that peacetime will have a different role for both of them, but a better one.
This time, Anakin’s small smile is genuine. “I hope so.”
Well folks, this has been a very tricky scene to do, and is one of many reasons updates have taken so long as I’ve was stuck at it for a long time. A lot of earlier drafts of it I’ve done simply didn’t work, and its such a critical scene, I knew I had to get it right. That doesn’t excuse the long delay, and I’m sorry that Episode 3 has moved at such a glacial pace.
The key tragedy of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship is the latter simply not understanding what’s really eating away at the former and that Skywalker can’t bring himself to outright tell his old friend about his growing mental struggles from the war and the guilt stemming from a desire to step away from being a Jedi. Both men had to be sympathetic while still making mistakes in their assumptions; with a lot of the motivations more in the subtext than anything else. That’s proven harder than I expected writing wise and is why only now I have a scene I’m actually satisfied with.
Act 1 is officially done though, and while I make no promises about speed of progress, getting this particular bit done has been a big relief, and hopefully future character scenes won’t be as difficult to get work done on. As always thanks for your continued interest and I always appreciate the feedback.