It was raining on Coruscant.
It didn't often rain, for the creators of the planet's weather control programs had assumed that most of the inhabitants disliked being drenched. But tonight, it rained.
Obi-Wan watched as the drops of water sluiced down the outside of the window and ran away down the outside wall. At one corner the static seal had been broken and the raindrops trickled in to form a small puddle on the sill. I need to fix that, Obi-Wan thought, but still he sat and watched the drops of water running down. There were drops of water on his face too, but they were salt.
Here, in the quarters in the Temple he had shared with his Master, the events of the past few weeks seemed unreal, a forgotten nightmare--
except Jedi don't have nightmares
forgotten, that is, until he remembered that it was his Padawan not his Master who slept in the other room behind the closed door. His Padawan. He,Obi-Wan, was meant to be the Padawan. Had been the Padawan until the Sith with the face like fire and shadows had arrived in the hangar on Naboo, fighting like a fury, his red blade stabbing into Qui-Gon's body and driving the life from it.
He is the Chosen One...he will bring balance...
Qui-Gon's dying words had been all for the boy, the talented child he had picked up by chance,
in my experience, there's no such thing as chance
not his Padawan, the one he had chosen, to teach and to guide. The Padawan he had been ready to rush through the trials so he could take on the child in Obi-Wan's place. Anakin, that vergence in the Force, that volatile bundle of latent raw power. Despite Obi-wan's eagerness to be Knighted, his eager protest to that effect, it had stung bitterly. The journey to Naboo had been awkward, strained, because of that rejection. If he had known...if only he had known! On Naboo, he had apologized to his Master, but it had been a mere retraction of statements of fact, not a trure healing of the breach between them. And then the Sith had come, and he had failed, and it was too late.
Obi-Wan was so caught up in his thoughts that he failed to hear the door opening, and failed to sense the vergence in the Force until it landed in his lap with the impact of a small proton torpedo.
"Uffgh!" Obi-Wan said. "Anakin, is it necessary to be quite so enthusiastic?"
His dignity as he uttered this rebuke was futher injured by the fact that he had to sniffle like a youngling with a head cold in the middle of it.
"You're sad about Master Qui-Gon, aren't you?"
"Yes," Obi-Wan admitted, wiping his eyes. A pair of small arms wrapped themselves in a stranglehold around his neck.
"I'm sad too, Obi-Wan. We can be sad together."
Obi-Wan put an arm awkwardly around Anakin. He had had no contact with younglings since he had been one himself, but he suspected that even if he had it wouldn't have helped him much. Anakin was hardly a typical Temple initiate. His warm little body was taking shuddery breaths, his head pressed down agianst Obi-Wan's shoulder. Obi0-Wan could sense his child's grief.
"Master Obi-Wan?" Anakin asked presently.
"Why do people have to die?"
Obi-Wan put a hand on Anakin's little stubbly head, half-smiled. "It is the way of the Force, Ani."
Anakin sat up. His bottom lip pushed his top one out of line and his blond eyebrows were knotted together. "Isn't there a way to stop people from dying? Couldn't someone fix them so they don't?"
"You can't fix humans like you can droids, Anakin."
"The Thing," Anakin said, going off on a new tangent. "If I had shot the Thing before it killed Master Qui-Gon..."
For a moment Obi-Wan saw the red-and-black demon face filled with evil glee as it felled Qui-Gon, and felt as trapped and helpless as he had at that moment.
"The Sith. I tried to stop it, Ani, to help Qui-Gon defeat it, but as Master Yoda says, there is no try, only do or do not."
"What's a Siff, Master Obi-Wan?"
"The Sith use the Force for evil, the Dark Side."
"Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate," Anakin said glibly. Obi-Wan was impressed. Anakin could hardly have hear the Old one say that more than once. he was evidently retentive of memory.
"But, Obi-Wan, I can't help getting scared sometimes. Or mad."
"You can stop yourself from acting on those feelings though."
"But Master Qui-Gon said Feel, don't think."
Obi-Wan sighed. Bad choice of words. Anakin not only had a retentive memory, he had an overly creative way of interpreting commands.
"Qui-Gon meant for you to trust your instincts, to let the Force guide you. Wasn't that how you blew up the droid control ship? Wasn't that how you won that podrace. But you have to choose between serving the good side of the force or the bad."
"Oh," said Anakin, and Obi-Wan realised suddenly how much Anakin didn't know about the Jedi way, how many gaps there were in the knowledge that the Temple younglings learned at Yoda's—well, not knee. Ear level perhaps. What have I taken on? he wondered. Anakin, with a child's mercurial attention, was looking at the window and the rain beyond it.
"Your window has water coming through it," he observed.
"The seal has broken," Obi-Wan said, and Anakin slid off his lap amd pattered over to the window. He reset the seal, but not before puttering his fingers about in the little pool of water beneath the window. Desert-bred, Obi-Wan remembered, and for the first time he felt affection for his Padawan.
"Thank you," he said, and after a moment added Qui-Gon's term for himself, "my young apprentice."
My very young apprentice, he added in his thoughts.