Here Without You   Rating: PG
Iella

This songfic arose from a songfanpic that a friend created about Anakin and Tahiri. The more I listened to the song concerned - "Here Without You" by Three Doors Down - the more I agreed that it evoked their situation well. Below is the story based on the lyrics of the song. As you can see, the lyrics are italicised, and the story flows on from each song section.

I hope you enjoy it.



A hundred days had made me older
Since the last time that I saw your pretty face

It was a strange feeling to get used to, he decided, this other wordly continuation of his life -- this realm beyond the physical. If he'd been asked to explain it, he would have likened himself to a beam of light that had been refracted as it travelled through a lens and was now forced to travel slowly as it navigated its new medium. His body was no longer corporeal, and yet it existed in an illusory manner, as did those of the others he had met since he had been here. When he looked back he couldn't see the dividing line -- the refraction point. He could only sense it. On the other side was life, or at least what he had once thought of as life. On this side -- what others referred to as death.

Death was not something he had feared, indeed at the end he had embraced it willingly -- a welcome refuge from the maelstrom as the living Force filled him with its glorious energy and burnt his frail flesh as a living sacrifice. Yet, by the same token, death was not something he had thought much about -- not seriously anyway. There had always been too much to do, too much to strive for, too many things that he had wanted to be part of.

He had seen others die -- many, in fact -- some whom he had mourned deeply. As the war progressed he had learned to accept death, had even convinced himself at one point that he was used to it. But this, he realised now, was a delusion. It was merely his survival instinct at work -- his means of cauterising the raw edges of the emotional wounds. He knew in truth his every action had been directed towards ensuring that the galaxy he knew and loved survived. And he had disproved his own feigned acceptance, anyway, when the Force had whispered to him about the danger threatening his best friend. Had he stopped to analyse and rationalise it? Of course not. He'd barely stopped to pack. No, death -- because that had been his first fear for her when the warning had come -- was to be resisted at all costs when it preyed on those he loved. He hadn't been able to countenance the thought of his family and friends lying cold and lifeless. Most of all he hadn't wanted to imagine living without Tahiri, and having her thoughts and her warmth lost to him forever.

And yet, here he was -- without her. Here he was -- not living, and yet in some ways no different. Here he was -- in other ways vastly changed. One hundred days had passed in the world he'd left behind, one hundred nights when he could have held her, laughed with her, anticipated making her truly his. But in his world there was no day and night. There was only the infinite present and the endless light.

A thousand lights had made me colder
And I don't think I can look at this the same

No, even if he had made time to think about death, he would never have imagined it being like this. Cold was not quite the right word, and yet it was difficult finding one that could evoke precisely how he felt. Sometimes he wasn't sure himself. Distanced? Well, yes, obviously. Cleansed? Definitely. Purified by the white fury of his passing. He felt no hatred towards those who had severed his connection with his previous existence, no rage nor any desire for vengeance. The light permeated everything and allowed him to see through a number of his misconceptions with crystal clarity, but without regret. Life was, after all, never intended as home for the finished product -- it was merely the forge.

Maybe by cold he meant his sense of being disconnected from the emotions that had once inflamed him and incited him to react. Now, when he looked back on the life he'd departed, his gaze was tempered by his newfound knowledge. He was no longer the headstrong youth with the burning desire to save the galaxy. He had become like the others here -- patient, humbled to have been allowed to play his part, empathetic to those left behind, and yet detached from the immediacy of their struggles.

There was just one exception to this state of affairs. One powerful connection that his journey into the Force had left undiminished.

But all the miles that separate
They disappeared now when I'm dreaming of your face.

Miles, days, a hundred days -- it made no difference how much they were separated by distance or time. No matter where she was, he could sense her, just as he always had. If Tahiri had the power to live for a hundred generations he knew he would still be here waiting for her. And, yes, he did dream of her, but not in those fitful episodes that most people call dreaming. He could conjure her image in his mind as clearly as if she was standing in front of him. Most of all, he could hope -- hope for that day when she'd come to him and they would be together again.

I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby but you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight it's only you and me.


Watching over her Force presence during those first months -- hearing her calling to him during her long, lonely nights -- had been the hardest thing he'd ever had to do. At that stage, he was still in a fragile state himself and only just coming to terms with his new state of being. How he had yearned to be able to break through when he felt her reaching out for him, even though he knew intellectually that their separation was destined somehow as part of the mysterious purpose of the Force.

It was in one of those wishful moments that he'd felt a calming presence brush his consciousness as once he might have felt the soft brush of comforting fingers on his shoulder.

"You're troubled, Anakin." It was a kindly voice -- older and yet not so old. The presence was the same one that had greeted him with open arms when he arrived.

"Sorry, Grandfather. It's just so hard seeing Tahiri suffering. The last thing I wanted was to cause her pain."

"It is hard." The words had emerged as a sigh, and he'd felt his namesake settle beside him. "It takes a while to shake off the bacta patch philosophy and learn this new perspective on things."

"Bacta patch?"

"We sense pain and we want to fix it. We think leaving our loved ones to suffer is cruel."

"Isn't it?"

"Only if we're sure they're not strong enough to heal themselves."

He had pondered his grandfather's words and then nodded humbly. How many times in her fifteen years had Tahiri been tested? Of course she was strong enough.

The miles just keep rolling as the people either way to say hello
I hear this life is overrated but I hope it gets better as we go.

"Being dead isn't what I expected."

A ripple of amusement had tickled his senses. "What did you expect?"

"I hadn't given it much thought -- but I suppose if you'd asked me I'd have said I expected answers."

He had felt warm waves envelop him, alternating between warmth and approval. "They do come, Anakin, but not all at once. It's a gradual process, but it does become easier."

The pressure around him had flickered as if the older man was finding a more comfortable sitting position. "I remember feeling as you do -- in my case wanting to help Luke and Leia, feeling them struggling with the pain and guilt of their heritage, and wishing I could wash the slate clean for them."

"How did you deal with it?"

"Slowly." Soft rays of light as from a star signaled a smile. "For a while I was able to appear to them, so it took me a while to get accustomed to being one with the Force like this. Eventually I learned from the others here to listen for your mother and your uncle reaching out in the Force so I could focus myself into the flow and be there for them."

"I want to be there for Tahiri."

"You are. It's just not the way you want to be there for her. In those last moments on Myrkr, remember, you became one with the Force, and so you were already strengthening her then."

"I guess. But it just doesn't feel as direct as I'd like. And at the moment I don't seem to be helping her much at all."

"Be patient, Anakin. Things may look like they're not improving, maybe they even look like they're getting worse -- but if you believe in her, she'll find her way again."

"I've always believed in her. I keep sending that message into the Force. But I'm scared she's going to lose hope, and sometimes I think it's me making her give up."

"How?"

"Because I miss her so much I think those feelings are leaking into the Force instead of the good ones." He had stopped and considered this for a moment. "That doesn't make much sense, does it?"

"Well, yes, it does. You're still your old self in lots of ways, Anakin -- still doubting in other words. Remember that when Tahiri reaches into the Force it's not just you she touches."

He felt the sudden surge of luminosity around them as the others lent their strength.

A smaller presence had appeared beside him -- warm, as if covered with fur -- and he recognised Ikrit's affectionate tone. "She misses you as you miss her -- not because of it. The Force doesn't ask you to deny your feelings for her, otherwise it wouldn't have given you them in the first place. You found each other through the Force, remember."

"Yes," he had murmured softly. "I do."

"So don't be afraid to mourn, Anakin, or to reach out to her for comfort. Tahiri may not hear you yet, but one day she will. And when it's her time, she'll come."

I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby but you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight girl it's only you and me.

In the unity of the Force, energy ebbs and flows like the tides; time flows in currents revealing patterns on the surface of the waters. Empires rise and crumble; battles are won and lost; life thrives and then struggles, and yet it endures.

For a short time, he had been part of the glorious frenzy of that existence until the Force had claimed him. Now, he was beginning to understand the process called life, had begun to interpret its patterns and appreciate its balance.

Everything I know, and anywhere I go
It gets hard but it won't take away my love
And when the last one falls, when it's all said and done
It gets hard but it won't take away my love.

There was still a lot that he didn't understand about the ways of the Force, but where once he would have been disappointed with himself, now he was glad. Complete knowledge leaves no room for hope, no test for faith, and he had much for which to hope and in which to believe. It wasn't easy, but he wasn't alone. And most important of all, he knew love -- had known love -- and one day, in the twinkling of an eye, his special love would come to him again, and they would be together ... for eternity.

I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby but you're still with me in my dreams
But tonight girl it's only you and me.



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