If the word had been said with Obi-Wan’s usual irreverence, Anakin wouldn’t have stopped. The day had been long, and he was tired down to his bones. And somewhere under the exhaustion, there was the fear that the darkness stretching out before him would swallow him, would devour the best of him.
So he stayed.
Obi-Wan was afraid. Anakin could feel the fear coming off of him in palpable waves, rolling and roiling over him the nearer he walked to where Obi-Wan was seated in the shadows.
“Can’t you feel it?” Obi-Wan asked. His voice was trembling, and when Anakin stood in front of him and gripped his shoulder, he found that his body was shivering, too.
“Feel what?” Anakin asked. But he knew. Of course he did.
The end. Of everything. Of the Republic, of the Jedi.
His fingers dug down into Obi-Wan’s shoulder, and when Obi-Wan pressed his face against his stomach, Anakin closed his eyes and moved his fingers to the nape of Obi-Wan’s neck.
“The dark,” Obi-Wan whispered, arms wrapping around Anakin’s waist and breath hot and fast against his stomach.
Yes, he felt it.
Nothing had ever been more intimate with him than the dark.
Not even Obi-Wan, when his lips pressed where his breath had touched.
And in that moment, Obi-Wan knew that Anakin loved him.
Not as a brother loved his brother, or a friend loved his friend, no – Anakin loved him as he loved Padme, deeply and wildly and passionately. It scared Obi-Wan, not because of its intensity or its heat, but because of how immensely he enjoyed the way Anakin cared for him. It should have been a burden, it should have made him recoil, should have made him warn his former Padawan to tread lightly where attachment and affection and want were concerned.
But instead, it only made Obi-Wan warm, to look into Anakin’s eyes, to look into the eyes of the boy he had trained and the man that he called friend and brother, and to know that he loved him enough to throw aside his entire future in the Order. That Anakin would die for him was not surprising – Obi-Wan had witnessed his short-sightedness before, and on more than one occasion had been on the receiving end of his misguided heroism – but what was surprising was that Anakin had chosen to live for him too.
Leaving was for the best, Obi-Wan knew that. Ending the war was far more important than whatever painful, beautiful love existed in Anakin’s eyes when they watched him. It would do both of them good to be apart from one another, to let the stars separate them and know that they were strong enough to survive without one another. Attachment was forbidden for a reason, it clouded the senses and confused the mind, and the sooner Anakin realized that, the better.
He stopped, sure that when he turned around Anakin would have that same damnable look in his eyes, that cut him to the quick and made Obi-Wan feel that he could never survive so far from him. Stars, Anakin would look half-starved for him, and Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if he was strong enough to not sate his hunger.
His eyes, while needing, weren’t at all primal with hunger when Obi-Wan faced him. They were soft, pained, and Obi-Wan had to keep himself from reaching out to him.
“May the Force be with you, Master,” Anakin said.
There was a goodbye in his voice. Not only because Obi-Wan was leaving. He felt it, and there was nothing he could do but nod and smile, to wish him the same.
There was something else, hidden under his words, buried beneath his farewell.
Something like ‘I love you.’