Author's Note: Just one thing you should know... Deciding that at some point in his life, Anakin must necessarily mature, I tweaked the storyline a bit so Ferus Olin and he become good friends sometime in their late teen years. Also, Padme Amidala has mysteriously disappeared from the universe for the time being, so don't go looking for her in this story, because you won't find her. Chapters might be a little slow in coming, but I shall do my best. --PKSkywalker
The galaxy was in a state of turmoil. Karan Toi, unquestionably the most dangerous assassin ever to set foot on a planet, had recently escaped from Galactic Prison, where he had been held under highest security. The citizens of Coruscant especially were terrified that each one of them was Toi's next target. The level of unrest was getting out of control, the Jedi Council decided, so they selected two of their most accomplished Master-Padawan teams to recapture Toi. These four brave warriors accepted willingly, though they knew the danger into which they put themselves—for after all, not a single one of Toi's targets had ever lived a day beyond his promised end for them.
They tracked the assassin to a large city on Tatooine known as Mos Osel. There, the Jedi lost the trail, and were forced to wait in hiding, emerging into the streets only at night. Should Toi discover where they were before the opposite happened, their lives would end as swiftly as the squashing of a myrmin—and each one of them knew it. It was an ever-present, haunting knowledge that seemed to taint even the air around them. Not a one of them doubted the seriousness of their position.
Anakin swore under his breath and tossed two chips in Ferus's direction. His friend slipped them into his hand with a grin and asked again.
"Got any Sith?"
With a cry of frustration, Anakin slammed his chips down onto the floor. "You're cheating!" he accused Ferus angrily. "You have got to be cheating, there's no way you're that good!"
"Anakin, anger leads to the Dark Side," Obi-Wan reminded his Padawan from the window, without any real conviction. He didn't even bother to turn around as he said it.
"Yeah, well, tell that to Mister Straight-and-Narrow over here," Anakin grumbled over his shoulder. "Everyone's always talking about him; no one ever mentions that he cheats at chips!"
"I don't cheat," protested Ferus mildly, obviously enjoying Anakin's intense aggravation. "I merely remember what you've already asked me for and what you've gotten from me, and from there it's usually quite easy to think of what you might be holding in your hand."
Anakin did not appreciate this explanation. "Whatever, Ferus," he muttered. "I still say you're checking my chips."
With a mock sigh, Ferus gathered up the loose chips with a wave of his hand and neatly stacked them back in their box. "You'll never be a Master if you can't learn to accept defeat," he told Anakin sagely. "I'm sure Master Yoda has been beaten several times."
"Yeah, fairly." Anakin rose from his seat on the floor and walked over to Obi-Wan, leaning against the inside of the open windowsill with him. They were on the second story of this building, and below them he could hear the shouts and clatter of the afternoon traffic. The noise was welcomed—he had quite finished talking to Ferus. "Has Siri come back yet?"
"Not yet," Obi-Wan answered. Behind him, Anakin heard Ferus's sigh, and knew it was genuine this time.
"I wish she wouldn't go out so much during the day," Ferus fretted, sitting down on his bed. He and Anakin shared this room at night, but in daylight it was open to all. "The way she's dressed—anyone with half a brain could see who she is."
Obi-Wan turned away from the sill and touched Ferus's shoulder. "Siri's not stupid, Ferus," he said in a comforting tone. "She'll be back soon, I'm sure."
Ferus said nothing, only made a noncommittal noise and turned away from Obi-Wan's hand. Anakin supposed he couldn't blame him for being worried, although he'd like to—if it were Obi-Wan out there, he would be just as frightened for his Master's safety.
But suddenly, as though reading his thoughts, Obi-Wan stood. "If it makes you feel better," he told Ferus, "I'll go out and look for her, and bring her back. Siri does have a habit of staying out longer than she should."
Anakin's stomach lurched, and a smile broke over Ferus's face. "Thank you, Master Kenobi," he said sincerely. Obi-Wan left the room, and in a few moments, Anakin saw him exit the building from his perch at the window. He watched his Master walk away until he was out of sight, lost among the many speeders and nuuku driven along the road. Suddenly the rough stone walls of the little room seemed much closer to each other.
"This is stupid," said Anakin suddenly, practically spitting out the words. "We're not going to find anyone like this, hiding all day! For all we know, Toi could be half across the galaxy already."
"It's all we can do," Ferus reminded his friend patiently. "And you know that's not true; Poika would have told us if a transport had left the planet." Poika owned and ran the bar that occupied the first floor of this building, and Ferus was correct in saying that she would have informed them of any departing transports. Anakin had established her alliance on the day of their arrival, sensing that it would come in handy, and he had not been wrong. Poika had already given them several useful leads, though they had all run out by the time the Jedi managed to follow them. At least three-quarters of all her patrons were pilots, and if a transport left Tatooine, which was rather rare, she would have known about it within an hour.
Anakin's only response was a somewhat whiny, "Well, still…" at which point he couldn't think of anything else to say and simply left it at that. When it all came down, he would have much preferred Siri to be in danger than Obi-Wan. With nothing better to do, he moved to the open space in-between the two beds and began practicing katas. He could have moved to another room, as this one did not allow much room for wide kicks and the like, but right now he needed to be around another human being, and Ferus was the only one available.
"Where'd Siri go again?" he asked between katas. Ferus looked up at the ceiling.
"She said she was going to get some food, but we've got plenty of that. I think she just wanted to get out; she hates being cooped up inside."
"It's not safe," Anakin grumbled. "She could ruin everything for us."
"Don't you think I know that?" Ferus snapped abruptly. Two bright spots of red had appeared in his cheeks. "You don't think I know that she could be out there right now, telling Toi exactly where we are because he's torturing the life out of her?"
Anakin, stunned by his friend's vehement response, stopped practicing and sat at Ferus's side.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean that," he said quietly. "I just get worried—I don't like Obi-Wan being out there either."
Ferus managed a grin. "So we're both unnecessarily paranoid."
"Guess so," Anakin admitted sheepishly, flopping onto his back. "I mean, they're both experienced Knights. We should probably be more worried about ourselves."
It was at least an hour, spent in meaningless conversation, before they heard the door open. Immediately the two Padawans were on their feet with an insensible gladness. No matter how they tried to convince themselves that there was nothing to worry about, both wanted their Masters right where they could keep an eye on them, as though Anakin was Obi-Wan's guardian and Ferus Siri's, and not the other way round.
They stepped out into the kitchen and saw Siri unloading a couple bags of fruit onto the table.
"Hey, you two," she greeted them, in the informal manner so typical of her. Her straight blond hair, recently grown out long, had been tied into a sensible bun at the back of her head, and her features looked merely normal and faintly pretty—without the Jedi cloak and tunics, she would have looked like any ordinary woman out for a day of shopping. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to get pallies at a decent price? I practically had to threaten the vendor to get anywhere near a fair deal."
Ferus grinned, relief written all over his face. "You sound like a housewife, Master," he teased her. "Thinking of leaving me and getting married?"
"Maybe," Siri said, with what sounded like complete seriousness. She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and tossed two pallies in Ferus and Anakin's respective directions. "Eat up."
Ferus bit into his fruit immediately—Anakin ignored his. "Where's Obi-Wan?" he asked.
Siri looked up at him and frowned. "How should I know?" she asked. "Wasn't he back here with you?"
"He was," Anakin said, a slow sense of dread creeping up into his stomach. It was beginning to sound like the classic "well-he's-not-with-me-I-thought-he-was-with-you" conversation, and he didn't like that at all. "He went to go look for you."
"How long ago?" Siri finished taking the various fruits from their individual bags and shoved all them into one, which she put in the middle of the table.
"An hour," replied Anakin, with stony finality. Siri did not look as concerned as he had thought she would be, and that reassured him slightly. If Siri wasn't worried, maybe he didn't need to be, either. She only shrugged.
"He's probably still looking for me," she said, smiling. "Obi-Wan's not completely stupid, Anakin; he knows enough not to get caught."
The confident tone in her words, as well as the 'completely' that Siri had added to Obi-Wan's earlier statement, made Anakin smile. He took a bite of the pallie and felt its sweet juices fill his mouth. In this spirit, he made a promise to himself that he would not worry, that he would not check the window every few moments, and he would most certainly not go out looking for Obi-Wan.
Three hours later, dusk was falling—Anakin had broken all but the last clause of his vow, and that only because Siri and Ferus wouldn't let him go anywhere. Not only was he worrying, Anakin had begun to panic. Though he hadn't said a word to his friends about it, his terror was almost palpable, radiating easily out for them to feel.
Ferus found him standing at the window, chin propped up on his fists on the windowsill as he stared tirelessly out into the ever-growing darkness, hoping to see Obi-Wan's shadowy form among the dozens of others. The only light in the room came from the lights outside on the street.
"Anakin…" Ferus began softly, but there was nothing to say, and his voice faded into empty silence. 'He'll come back soon' was obsolete—they'd already tried that several times today, and "soon" always came and went, with no sign of Anakin's Master.
"What if he doesn't come back?" asked Anakin in a small voice, not moving from his watchful pose.
"He will!" Ferus said fiercely. "Obi-Wan wouldn't want you to worry like this, you know that."
"Something is wrong, Ferus," Anakin whispered. "That's what I know."
With a sigh, Ferus turned away. Then a sound from behind stopped him in his tracks, a loud cry that seemed almost inhuman. He whirled, to see Anakin on his knees, gazing wide-eyed at something before him that Ferus could not see.
"Anakin!" Ferus cried, rushing to his friend's side. Anakin's mouth was open in horror.
"I can feel it," he breathed hoarsely; his hands touched the sides of his neck. "I can feel you, Master…"
A tremendous shudder ran through his body, and a scream tore from Anakin's lips, and then he fell to the floor. Ferus felt as though he had been hit in the stomach as a cold wave slapped over him through the Force, and Siri ran into the room.
"Oh, Force," she gasped when she saw Anakin; her hand flying up to cover her mouth. "No, it can't be, it's true…"
Ferus was trembling violently. "What's happening?" he demanded shakily, looking from Siri to Anakin's prostrate form, and then back again. Siri slowly lowered her hand; her face was white.
"Obi-Wan is dead," she pronounced simply.