AN:Took a quick break from Split the Night to fulfill a tumblr prompt! hope you enjoy!
The place was a warzone.
Droid parts lay scattered across the floor, scraping against Obi-Wan's boot as he picked his way through the wreckage. Wires poked out from the piles of debris that were shedding rust onto a floor hardly seen beneath the mess. Cursing, Obi-Wan caught himself before he nearly slipped on a small patch of oil that had evaded his eye.
One of these days, Anakin would clean his room. And for both their sakes, Obi-Wan hoped that day would come very soon.
I could not have been this messy as a Padawan, could I? Obi-Wan asked himself as he toed a spare circuit board out of his way. Qui-Gon hadn't been messy, at least according to himself. "Clutter is not mess, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon would say as he walked through his room watering an overgrown collection of plants and rearranging the odd assortment of tokens and gifts he had acquired over years of missions. "Not when everything has its place."
That was one tidbit of wisdom he had chosen not to share with Anakin. He could just imagine the rebuttals. "Everything has its place, Master. That battery is supposed to be on the laundry. The Force willed it."
Thoughts drifting, Obi-Wan continued his search. He was on the hunt for a datapad that had been due back to the Archives a week ago. "Nine days, to be precise," he muttered, mimicking the serene yet severe tone of Master Jocasta Nu. Normally, he would have dragged Anakin into this hoarder's paradise and make him take the walk of shame back to the Archives with the overdue datapad. But Master Nu did not discriminate between Master and Padawan when a datapad was missing. She'd corner the first member of the household she could find and unleash her wrath. Which was how Obi-Wan found himself sifting through droid wreckage in order to return this datapad. Promptly.
Perhaps Obi-Wan would misplace one his datapads soon. Perhaps coincidentally on a day Anakin was due to take lessons in the Archives.
Revenge is not the Jedi way.
"Finally!" he grumbled as he at last located the errant datapad under a pair of leggings. At least it wasn't cracked this time he mused as he examined it. They had both gotten an earful for that one. Shaking his head he prepared to pick his way back out of the room without damaging a toe when something caught his eye. It was hardly the most remarkable thing in the room (Anakin had a variety of admittedly impressive creations strewn about) but it drew Obi-Wan's attention nonetheless.
It was a piece of paper neatly folded into the form of a bird.
Curious, Obi-Wan walked over to the dresser where the folded bird lay. The folds were crisp and neat, edges lined up perfectly. The beak and wings were distinguishable enough, though perhaps the bird's most unique feature was a small series of triangles folded between the wings, like spikes.
Paper was not Anakin's medium—he preferred metal and wires, things he program and weld and hammer. But the care that had gone into the bird was clear, the paper expertly folded, as if Anakin had made a million such birds before.
Perhaps it was a gift from a classmate. But Anakin still had few friends in the Temple, much to Obi-Wan's sadness. And the oily fingerprints that dotted bird suggested otherwise.
A panicked cry from the living room distracted Obi-Wan.
"Master!" said Anakin running into the room. "I forgot to return a datapad and Master Nu looked really mad, like she was gonna have a fit-" He stopped as he found Obi-Wan waiting for him in his room, datapad in hand, and foot tapping dangerously.
"Oh, uh," said Anakin nervously, "Looks like you found it."
"Indeed I did," said Obi-Wan raising an eyebrow at his sheepish Padawan, "After I had the most enlightening chat with Master Nu in the hallway."
"Come along, Padawan," said Obi-Wan walking out of the room with Anakin in tow. "It seems you have a visit to make to the Archives."
"Master," whined Anakin as he followed Obi-Wan, droid parts and paper birds forgotten behind them.
The place was a warzone.
The field was littered with the remains of battle droids and fallen clones. Medics still bustled around, energy fading as they found fewer and fewer brothers that they could save. The Separatists had caught Anakin and Obi-Wan's squads unawares, unleashing an ambush the Jedi barely survived. It had been a bloody day, one that neither general would likely forget.
Anakin stormed into their shared tent, ripping off his armor as he threw himself onto his cot. Obi-Wan looked up from his mission report, suddenly engulfed by the swirling emotions of his former apprentice.
"Anakin," he said tiredly, already knowing it was futile, "There was nothing we could've done. We could not have predicted the attack."
"We should have," said Anakin, voice muffled by the pillow. "Somehow, we should've. We're Jedi, we should've sensed it."
Obi-Wan sighed. "But we didn't. And the best we can do now is move on."
Anakin ignored him, laying resolutely on the cot as feelings of guilt and anger and frustration continued to seep out of him. Obi-Wan watched him helplessly. Despite all their years together, Obi-Wan often found himself at a loss of how to comfort Anakin, how to reach across the widening gap that so often separated them. And in wartime, with so little comfort to be found, it became even more difficult than before.
Sighing again, Obi-Wan cast his eyes around the room, thoughts wandering aimlessly—with Anakin's tumultuous presence in the tent, meditation seemed out of reach. Eventually, his gaze settled on a few stray pieces of paper laying on a crate beside Anakin's cot that they called their nightstand. A memory floated into his mind, unbidden, of a paper bird laying on a dresser, carefully folded and tucked.
Without thinking much of it, Obi-Wan leaned over the crate, smoothing a piece of paper and experimentally folding it into triangles, rectangles, corners. However did he make that bird? wondered Obi-Wan, frowning in concentration, troubles sliding to the back of his mind. A fold here? Perhaps I should make a line here…
So absorbed was he in his task that he didn't notice Anakin staring curiously at him, finally shifting off the bed. "Obi-Wan? What are you doing?"
"Oh," said Obi-Wan looking down at his rather mangled piece of paper. "I just remember seeing something like this in your room once. A bird. It was rather lovely—I thought perhaps I could replicate it, pass the time…"
"Stop torturing that piece of paper," said Anakin, amusement trickling into the Force. "Here, let me," he said reaching out to take the paper from Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan watched, fascinated as Anakin slowly, methodically smoothed the paper and began to manipulate it into the bird he'd seen years ago, with two wings, a beak, and spikes down the middle. He felt a sense of calm embrace his apprentice as he lost himself in the task, with a warm hint of nostalgia filling the tent, though its origin Obi-Wan could not place.
At last, Anakin triumphantly presented Obi-Wan the bird, far more wrinkled than the version Obi-Wan had seen years ago, but bearing the same distinct shape. "And that," said Anakin grinning, "Is how you do it."
"It seems I find myself in the presence of a Master," said Obi-Wan dryly, though his smile gave him away. "Where did you learn to make them?"
Anakin's smile slipped for a moment as looked down at the paper bird in his hands. "My mom," he answered quietly, "It was easy enough to find scraps of paper in the town, in the trash. We made a game of finding some to take home to have fun with after work." He fiddled with the bird. "She taught me how to make all the animals on Tatooine."
"Oh," said Obi-Wan, unsure of how to handle the moment. Anakin spoke so rarely of home planet, and of his mother even less. But Anakin didn't seem angry, didn't seem to be pulsing with the hurt that often accompanied conversations of Tatooine. Nothing but a soft sadness filled the space between them.
"I would always make her krayt dragons," said Anakin after a moment, "The strongest animal on Tatooine. I'd leave them in her workspace or in her room. She was a kind women, but she was the strongest person I'd ever met. She'd fight like a dragon to make sure we had what we needed. To protect people she cared about."
"I would have liked to have met her," said Obi-Wan quietly, sincerely. What kind of women could have raised Anakin to be so full of compassion, so full of goodness despite the nightmare they found themselves in?
"I think she would have liked you," said Anakin smiling sadly and the two fell into a thoughtful silence, lost in their own memories.
After a long moment, Obi-Wan broke the silence. "What about the bird? You seemed awfully good at making it."
Obi-Wan could feel a string of embarrassment float through the Force, and for a moment he thought Anakin wouldn't answer, but he did.
"It's a bonegnawer," said Anakin slowly, "It's one of the most respected creatures on Tatooine. It's a predator and it's powerful, but it's the most graceful animal you'll ever see. Lots of people admire them for their ferocity, but also for their courage." He fiddled with the bird again. "I actually practiced this one a lot when I became your apprentice."
"Really?" said Obi-Wan, surprised.
Anakin nodded. "Uh huh," he said nervously, "I made the dragon for my mom, but I always thought you shared of lot of those qualities with the bonegnawer. I made them to give to you at some point, but I, um, I never did."
Obi-Wan wanted to ask Anakin why he had never shared them, but he supposed he could guess the answer. After all his lectures on letting pieces of the past go, lectures on material objects, how would he have reacted? The birds were just another link from Anakin's past life, one he should have let go of, to add to the clutter.
Perhaps he understood why, after all.
Obi-Wan looked at Anakin, who was avoiding his eyes, focused on creasing the folds of the bird, making sure they were crisp. He gently took the paper bird from Anakin's hand, cradling it in his own. "I would be honored if you'd share this one with me," he said looking at Anakin earnestly.
Anakin blinked, surprised at the request, before his face split into a grin, fondness and affection for his Master soaking their bond. "It would be my honor it to give it," he said smiling as he watched Obi-Wan carefully tuck the bird into his belt, to carry with him forward through the many battles ahead.