It took him two months to discover the problem with the cybernetic arm.
Almost as soon as he recovered physically from the whole loss-of-arm, integration-of-new-arm thing, he'd married Padme, and what with one thing and another, that had covered the requisite bases. But eventually he ran out of plausible excuses why he shouldn't go back into the field - especially with the lid about to blow on the whole war thing - and Obi-Wan started giving him odd looks and even, on one occasion that Anakin would rather forget about entirely, a tentative talk on how the loss of a limb was a dramatic thing and could require time to deal with psychologically. It had been excruciatingly embarrassing, and after that, of course Anakin had to show extremely willing the next time active duty was suggested.
That was the end of connubial bliss for a while. And he missed Padme. Missed her laugh and her snippy little retorts and how good she smelt and the way she stole all the covers, but also the way she'd look at him from beneath her lashes, asking, "Is this all right?" (Was it ever.) And even more the way she'd lose that timidity, kiss him hard, dig her fingernails into his shoulders, even flip him entirely, push him down and...
Which was what led to the problem, that he didn't at that stage realise was a problem. One more evening of remembering with increasing vividness precisely what Padme had given him as a goodbye gift, and Anakin realised he was unlikely to be getting to sleep any time soon in his current state.
Obi-Wan was snoring gently across the room - always went out like a light. Anakin pushed the covers back and crept into the refresher. Closing his eyes against the sudden glare of the light, he tugged at the knotted ties of his sleep pants, remembering Padme on her knees in front of him. Looking up at him, saying, "You're not allowed to laugh." ("That's the last thing I'd do," he'd promised, fervently.) He hissed in a breath, slid his hand into his pants...
And swore viciously, a full-body flinch. He smacked his palm - his other palm, his human palm - against the wall.
He'd, well, taken himself in hand every time he relieved himself, but this... this was a completely different kettle of sliverfish.
From their room, through the 'fresher door, Obi-Wan called, "Anakin?" No bleariness in his voice. Out like a light, on like a light.
"Slipped," Anakin called back. "Sorry, Master."
Wordless grumbling. He tuned it out, staring at his hand. His metal hand, five spread mechanical fingers, smooth joints for knuckles. It didn't bother him. It never bothered him. He'd noticed it bothered other people, had thought perhaps a glove might be in order, just to stop them staring if nothing else, but it didn't bother him. Except in this one thing, apparently.
Cold. Hard. Alien. Unnatural. His hard-on had gone.
Padme hadn't said a thing. Did it bother her? Was she just trying to spare his feelings? She hadn't... well, she'd seemed perfectly comfortable. Quite happy, even.
If he started down that path of thought, he'd be back where he started, and he didn't think he could face that twice in one night. So he turned out the light, went back into their room. Obi-Wan was asleep again already.
It took Anakin a little longer.
"Does my hand bother you?" he asked Obi-Wan the next day.
"What?" Obi-Wan looked up from the report he was reading with that crease between his brows, an indication of irritation that Anakin knew had stopped being conscious or intentional or even accurate long ago.
He held up his right hand, wiggled the fingers at his Master. "Hand. Bother. You. Does it?"
The frown this time was perplexity, which was certainly still a response that was true, and frequent. "Would it matter in the slightest?"
"Yes," Anakin said, slightly affronted. "It matters to me."
The look Obi-Wan was giving him suggested he thought Anakin had gone a little bit mad. "What do you mean by bother?"
Make you stare, make you pause, make you flinch. Anakin didn't know. He tried to remember if he'd touched Obi-Wan with that hand. He didn't think so. They didn't touch very much these days. That was usual; Jedi were solitary and self-contained, and physical contact between Master and Padawan naturally decreased as the apprentice neared his Trials. He could remember touching Padme. That was not particularly helpful right now. "I don't know," he said, hearing something like grumpiness in his own voice. "Can't you just answer the question?"
Obi-Wan's look this time said, rather eloquently, that he didn't see why he bloody well should. He did anyway. He almost always did. "Your hand does not bother me any more than the rest of you does. There is the fact that I never seem to know quite what it's going to do next, but that is possibly not its fault. There's also the question of the way it seems to stray from what it should be doing." A pointed glance, there, to the Holopad that held the lessons Anakin was supposed to be working on. He was adept at ignoring things like that. Obi-Wan sighed. "Does it bother you, Anakin? Do you want to t--"
"No," Anakin said, picking up the Holopad. "Just wondering." He pressed a button (with his robotic thumb) and brought up the first lesson.
After a moment, he heard Obi-Wan sigh and return to his own work.
He tried it left-handed. In the 'fresher, with water beating down against the back of his neck, Anakin braced his metal hand against the wall and wrapped his left around his half-hard cock.
A bit strange. The grip was wrong. Reversed. Unexpected. Somehow unbalancing. But better. Human, at least.
One slow, firm stroke, making his lips press together. He tilted his head against the water spray. Stroked again, letting the sensation shiver along his skin, letting his eyes slip closed.
Fully hard now, he tried to shift his grip, get a better angle. Stroke faster now, firmer, trying to settle into a rhythm. Not much, it won't take much. But it wasn't right. Something in the turn of the wrist, the angle of his fucking elbow or something. No rhythm there, too slow or too jagged or too something. He didn't understand. Couldn't figure it out, and Obi-Wan would have said that there wasn't any problem in the universe that a Jedi couldn't work his way around, but you didn't think about this sort of thing, you just did it, and all he knew was that it felt just this side of wrong.
He also knew what that meant. This wasn't going to work.
Anakin grit his teeth, both his hands fists against the wall.
And then he flipped the shower to cold.
They sparred an hour every morning, and another hour every evening. Anakin knew Obi-Wan's reasoning was sound - as real as technology could make his new hand, it was still that: new. It had meticulous sensor arrays and synthetic nerve transmitters, but in combat he needed to know it like he knew his own body, intrinsically, subconsciously, completely. There would be no time for reasoning, for decoding the meaning of the information his brain was receiving. He needed, in essence, to be trained again.
He knew his Master's reasoning was sound. Still, in the depths of interminable training bouts, Anakin wondered if his hand did bother Obi-Wan after all. As a failure. As another manifestation of the violent potential of their fate.
He wondered if Obi-Wan would ever stop being afraid of death by lightsaber.
"First guard," Obi-Wan said, and they faced each other, sizzling blades ready.
Anakin, watching his Master (eyes, hands, shoulders, stance, balance, intent, future) felt his focus narrow. Hands. Obi-Wan's hands, wrapped around his 'saber hilt. His fingers, a slight flex, a wringing of his grip.
He struck, and Anakin parried, counter-struck, recovered. Still looking at Obi-Wan's hands. Two hands, human hands. He would not flinch from his own touch. No problems to be overcome with those hands on his own flesh.
"Anakin, are you paying any attention?"
He blinked, looked up, from his Master's hands to his familiar exasperated expression. Obi-Wan stepped back, shutting off his lightsaber with an eloquently affronted snap of his wrist. Anakin shut his off as well, bracing for the warranted whiplash of disapproval. "Sorry, Master."
"You've been distracted for the past three days," Obi-Wan said, accusatory.
Anakin dropped his head a little. He couldn't deny it.
A frown. Frustration. Arms folded, his hands at his elbows. "Whatever is bothering you," he said, "you are the only one who can work it out." That, too, was an accusation.
"Yes Master," Anakin admitted. He drew in a breath.
Obi-Wan lifted an eyebrow. "So do so."
He stood alone in their sleep quarters, and disrobed.
A long process, that. Many layers, each with their own fastenings. Not something that could be done lightly. Almost a meditation in itself. Bared, his skin prickled in the slightly cool air.
He sat on the edge of his bed and tried not to hear his own breathing. Silence behind it. Obi-Wan gone out. It was all a little bit ridiculous. More than a little bit. Such a stupid thing to distract him.
Anakin took a breath, and laid his hands - both hands - on his knees. Warm flesh, cold metal. He pressed his palms against his thighs, and grimly cast for an image, a memory, a spur.
Padme, in the firelight, the very same room where she had told him they could not possibly. Hands at her shoulders, unfastening her gown, letting it slither over her body to the floor. Firelight making a dramatic landscape of her body, sharp shadows and soft planes...
...enough. More than enough to have him hardening, even smearing his palms up his thighs, even pressing fingers into muscle.
He could do this.
He looked down, watched as he lifted his metal hand. Ran his thumb along the side of his cock, gritting his teeth against the sudden difference of it, thinking of Obi-Wan and his two human hands and the sharp snap of his disapproval --
He can do this.
-- and thinking of Padme, naked and holding out a hand towards him. There'd been a tremble in her fingers, and he'd taken them in his hand (his metal hand, now pressed again on his thigh, letting the skin warm the metal) and stepped close to her and said, "You're nervous."
She hadn't denied it; confirmation enough. He'd smiled against her hair. "Me too." (It had been all right, after that. Well and truly.)
Anakin curled his hand around his cock: thumb and one finger, two, all. Held himself, getting used to it, felt his pulse beat and remembered pressing erect against the warm sweep of her stomach. Slight give of flesh; that's what was missing here, Durasteel entirely unyielding. And smooth. Smoother even than Padme's hands. No print, no sweat, a perfect metallic surface. It was - he thought, breath hitching a little as he tried a stroke - not entirely unpleasant. Just different.
The other way, too. The sensors in the hand worked perfectly - he could feel the slip of skin, the hot, hard press of erectile tissue - but it wasn't the same. Some slight distance there, and that was something he knew he needed to work on without Obi-Wan telling him. If he didn't know his own body, how could he know the Force?
Faster now he stroked, and deeper, the angle and intent he couldn't get with his left hand. He paused to spit into his palm, resettle his grip. Felt his face twitch with the pull of it, and Padme had touched his brow once, laughing breathlessly, said she liked that, liked that she could make him do it.
"You're mine," she'd said, straddling his lap, fierce with him inside her. "All mine."
He tilted backwards, braced himself on his left hand, and now it was only his right touching his skin. His breath had started to pick up, syncopating the rhythm of his hand on his cock. Leaning back further, on his elbow now, and Padme in his mind, crystal clear and jumbled all at once, and he could feel it building.
Yes; a hiss of satisfaction, of the edge of triumph, of a problem solved, a challenge overcome. He knew he'd beaten this, even if he couldn't tell Obi-Wan, the thought making him half cough a laugh, and then he came.
With a gasp, and a grin on his face, and a sweet taste like victory beneath his tongue.
Wank by dee
All stories are works of fan-fiction by Dee. "Fan-fiction" means that she does not own any of the core creative concepts and characters, but she does heap adulation, appreciation and awe upon those people who do hold the intellectual property rights to those concepts and characters. Further, any instances of real people are fictional, and the author does not wish to suggest any truth should be attached to the actions, emotions and words attributed to them in these fictional stories.