I know, I know. I really should be working more on Chiaro (hangs head in shame) but this idea struck me on December 24th, (hence the subject matter, lol) and wouldn't leave me alone until I got it down! It's not my usual style of writing... at times there's far more of a "stream of consciousness" feel to it, I find. But... tell me what you thought! Reviews are always welcome!

The story will be 8-9 chapters long (I'm in the middle of chapter 8 right now... and if it gets too long, it will be split in two), each one of them set on the Solstice Night, each at a different time in Anakin's life - hence the chapter titles.

AU! The mission to Naboo did NOT include fighting off Darth Maul, so Qui-Gon is still alive. Obi-Wan was made a Knight for his courage in fighting back all enemies in rescuing the Queen.

THANK YOU to my darling twin, TM, who stuck by me when this story spiralled far beyond my original intentions, and painstakingly did review after review - on this chapter especially. You had the hard task of telling me to cut out 3 pages of stuff, darling, and it has made the story better because of it!

Also to Vee and Liana, HAPPY B-DAY to both of you on Saturday! Sorry that this isn't a PWP... I'll have to make it up to both of you, eh?

Disclaimer: I'm only playing in the universe until the big kids come and kick me off the swings.


Solstice Night

I – Anakin is 9 years old

It was Anakin's first Solstice on Coruscant, the first time he had celebrated the holiday at all. He hadn't even known that Jedi were allowed to celebrate, but Master Qui-Gon had smiled and laughed in that gruff way of his, and responded that even Jedi let their hair down sometimes. Of course, Master Qui-Gon had long hair that he kept down all the time, so Anakin didn't really understand. He certainly couldn't let his hair down, now that it was cropped so short. It felt weird when he touched it, prickling under his hands.

Obi-Wan had laughed when Anakin complained about that, ruffling the short bristles amiably saying only: "You'll get used to it eventually, runt."

It certainly didn't feel that way to Anakin. He didn't like being called a runt either. He wasn't a little boy any more; after all he was practically a Jedi. And Obi-Wan wasn't all that tall anyways, at least not so much that he should be allowed to call Anakin that.

Runt. It made him scowl just to think about it. Huh. Obi-Wan was a runt when compared to Master Qui-Gon. Anakin had already resolved to grow up to be much taller than Master Kenobi, just so he could laugh and ruffle the older Jedi's hair like Obi-Wan did to him now. See how much he liked it.

Anakin hated having his hair ruffled like that, it already stood up all funny since Master Qui-Gon had cut it for him; it didn't need any help to look messy. He didn't mind when Qui-Gon did it, or when the older Jedi pulled on Anakin's Padawan braid; he was gentler than Obi-Wan was. Besides, Qui-Gon was Anakin's Master, so it was allowed. It bothered him when Obi-Wan tugged his braid though – now that Obi-Wan was Master Kenobi, he no longer had a braid that Anakin could pull back. Not that Anakin would be allowed to anyways, since Obi-Wan outranked him.

Some things in life just weren't fair.

But it was Solstice Night, and Qui-Gon was excited to have Obi-Wan joining them. Anakin had never seen his Master so… agitated. Anakin didn't know what the big deal was. It was just Obi-Wan, after all. Sure, they hadn't really spoken to him that often in almost a year now; he'd been away too much. But that was no reason to get all wound up about him coming back to the Temple in time for the Holiday. Anakin certainly wasn't happy about it – he had taken it for granted that it was just going to be him and Qui-Gon spending the day together.

His Master had been so enthusiastic as he explained about the Solstice; the one night of the galactic standard year when all the Padawans and almost all of the Jedi Masters returned home to the Temple. It was a traditional gathering of families in the galaxy and, in a sense, the Jedi were a family as well. It was a time to be shared with loved ones. Qui-Gon's eyes had crinkled at the corners as he spoke – he always smiled with his eyes when he was really happy, Anakin had noticed.

He liked it when just the two of them were together. At home, Mom had always spent the entire evening with him on special days, if Watto gave them time off. And today was supposed to be special. All his classes in the Temple had been cancelled for the day, so Anakin had assumed that he was going to spend the entire time with Master Qui-Gon. He had really been looking forward to it.

Then Qui-Gon had told him that Obi-Wan was coming over. Anakin wanted to do nothing more than hide out in his room after hearing that. But Qui-Gon had been smiling for the whole week getting ready for tonight, so Anakin would behave himself.

Well… if Obi-Wan did, at least.

They didn't spend much time together, the three of them, but Obi-Wan always managed to make Anakin feel like a stupid little kid. All the other Padawans loved him, Master Qui-Gon obviously thought he was perfect, but all he did was tease Anakin in that quiet way of his. It didn't help that Anakin didn't know whether to love him or hate him. Sometimes Anakin wondered if that was what it was always like to have an older brother. A much older brother. One who was almost never home.

Obi-Wan was just so… so… cool. He had been a Padawan for long enough that he still remembered what a pain it could be. Even though he was an accomplished Knight now, he never got impatient when it was his turn to teach sabre forms to the younglings. Padawans were always stopping him in the hallways to ask him questions that they would ordinarily put to their Masters – Obi-Wan was just that much more approachable.

And he was strong. And brave. But not arrogant or scary, like Master Windu seemed to be. He was… he was just Obi-Wan.

Anakin wanted to grow up to be a Jedi Master like him. Better yet, he would be even better than Obi-Wan. He would become the best Jedi ever, to impress both Obi-Wan and Master Qui-Gon. That would be wizard.

But his trials were still a few years away, so for tonight, he would content himself with being the perfect Padawan. But only until Obi-Wan called him runt. That would be the end of the truce, as far as Anakin was concerned, no matter how special the Solstice was supposed to be.

He and Master Qui-Gon had spent the last few days decorating their small apartment, but most of today had been spent on last-minute details. Qui-Gon had been going in and out of the apartment all day, buying food, setting up the pinear tree – using the Force after it fell over twice – and moving different decorations back and forth around the common room, trying to find the perfect place for each one. All the while, he kept humming happy little Solstice jingles to himself.

Anakin had never heard Master Qui-Gon sing before. He had a nice voice, Anakin guessed – he had only ever heard his mother singing before that, so he wasn't sure how to judge. But it sounded all right, even if the songs themselves got irritating after awhile.

Thetree was Anakin's favourite part of the Solstice so far. They didn't have trees on Tatooine, and he hadn't seen any on Coruscant outside of the Temple Gardens. Now he had one of his very own, if only for a few nights. The pinear had ended up in one corner of the common room, right in front of the window, and Anakin loved to bury his face in the deep green needles, inhaling the fresh scent deeply. The entire Temple was decked out in similar greenery as well, and Master Yoda had used his Force-powers to levitate decorations onto the highest limbs – ones that even Master Windu and Master Qui-Gon couldn't reach.

Now that it was evening, Qui-Gon had turned down the thermostat in the apartment in favour of lighting a fire in the grate – the only time of year that they did so, he had explained, as wood was so scarce on Coruscant. It was a luxury that the Temple even procured the pinears, as they were extremely expensive; but some days were important enough to spend a little more than usual, Qui-Gon said.

Anakin glanced over at his Master again. Qui-Gon was sitting in his favourite chair. He had said that he wanted to catch up on a book that Master Windu (Qui-Gon called him Mace all the time, but Anakin didn't believe that the stern Jedi Master really had a first name) had given him, but Anakin knew better. His Master hadn't turned a page of the codex in the last hour, and Anakin saw how the older Jedi kept glancing towards the door, while drumming his fingers impatiently on the arm of the chair.

It made Anakin want to laugh, since Qui-Gon was always lecturing him to be patient. But it was the Solstice, and Anakin was on his best behaviour, so he decided not to point that out.

A chime on the door, and Anakin leapt from the couch, running to answer it as Qui-Gon glanced up from the book he was pretending to read. Anakin could feel his Master start to smile even before the door opened to reveal an impressively stern-faced Obi-Wan Kenobi.

"Good evening, Master," Anakin said as politely as he could, inclining his head as was expected of a junior Padawan. He had seen that the young Jedi Knight was trying hard not to smile, and staring at the floor let Anakin grin without it being seen.

"You've grown, runt," Obi-Wan quipped, a smirk lighting up his grey-blue eyes as he rumpled Anakin's hair with one hand – to a squawk of protest. "Master, you finally managed to teach the kid some manners?"

"I'm not a runt!" Anakin protested heatedly. Sith! The evening hadn't even started and already Obi-Wan was teasing him. He glared at the young Jedi's back, but Obi-Wan had already moved past him into the room, arms spread wide.

Qui-Gon laughed heartily as he seized his former apprentice into a tight bear-hug, making Anakin giggle as the taller Master lifted Obi-Wan clear off the ground in his enthusiasm.

"Master! Master! Put me down, I'm not a Padawan any longer!" Anakin laughed helplessly at Obi-Wan's desperate tone, seeing the way that the younger Jedi clung tightly to Qui-Gon's shoulders. Anakin loved being picked up like that, so he was certain that Obi-Wan was just pretending to be upset.

Qui-Gon laughed, setting Obi-Wan back on his feet. The younger man made a big display of straightening his rumpled robes with an air of injured pride. Qui-Gon just grinned, throwing one arm companionably over Obi-Wan's shoulders. "You never let me do that when you were a Padawan; it would have offended your dignity too much."

"And it doesn't, now that I'm a Knight?"

Qui-Gon's smile faded slightly into fond reminiscence as he clapped one hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "It's been too long, Obi-Wan," he said softly. "You were a good apprentice."

Anakin's eyes narrowed slightly at the subtle slur. Was Qui-Gon implying that he wasn't a good apprentice? That wasn't fair, Obi-Wan had been around for forever as a Padawan, but Anakin had only been in the Temple for a few months. But Qui-Gon, perhaps sensing Anakin's distress, caught his Padawan's eye over Obi-Wan's shoulder and nodded slightly. Anakin smiled back at him.

Obi-Wan had ducked his head at the compliment, but Anakin still saw the blush of pride that tinted his cheeks in the gleam of the fire. "I've missed you as well, Master…."

Anakin frowned, looking from one face to the other. That wasn't what Qui-Gon had said. Anakin didn't want his Master to miss Obi-Wan. The Jedi was still there, after all, but Qui-Gon was Anakin's Master now. And he could sense something else, something beyond what the two Jedi Knights were saying. It made him sigh quietly. His mom had always told him that it was best to be honest, because people only hurt themselves and each other by lying. He didn't think that Master Obi-Wan would try to hurt Master Qui-Gon, or the other way around, but they were obviously both keeping something secret. The Force felt… different around them. It was…brighter. Anakin didn't know how else to describe it. He could touch his Master's mind through their bond of course, but he didn't want Qui-Gon to get angry at him if this was something private.

It didn't last for long anyways. Obi-Wan was the first to recover himself, continuing his sentence with a wry smile, "only it's not Obi-Wan any longer, but Master Kenobi."

Anakin giggled at the obvious pride with which the Jedi pronounced his new title, earning a mock glare from Obi-Wan.

"Be careful runt, or else I'll assign you eight hours of extra lightsabre practice."

Anakin eyed the young Master warily, directing his words to Qui-Gon. "He can't do that… can he?"

"He most certainly can, my young apprentice. Although," and here Qui-Gon turned back to Obi-Wan, "if I may make a suggestion, Master Kenobi, extra meditation would be a worse punishment for my little imp here. He enjoys sabre training a little too much."

"Master!" Anakin protested, scandalized that Qui-Gon had taken Obi-Wan's side over his.

"Come in, come in…" Qui-Gon waved Obi-Wan towards the couch, pouring the Jedi Knight a glass of his favourite cognac. Anakin took advantage of his Master's distraction to hop onto the couch next to Obi-Wan, eyeing the young Jedi curiously. Obi-Wan stared back at him, looking a little unnerved by the scrutiny.

"Your hair has grown," Anakin finally pronounced.

"Well… yes…." Obi-Wan said slowly, self-consciously pushing one hand through the reddish-gold strands.

"You look older like that," Anakin professed frankly, stretching out to touch Obi-Wan's hair. It looked really soft. But Obi-Wan jerked his head away at the last moment, a frown of confusion on his face.

"See?" Anakin said matter-of-factly, sitting back on his heels and nodding. "It's because you frown too much." His mom had always told him that if he made faces, they would stick that way. Maybe Qui-Gon had never told Obi-Wan that, so he didn't know that his face would stick in a scowl some day. "That's why you look old!"

"I… I most certainly do not look old," Obi-Wan protested vehemently, but Anakin noticed the impulsive way he raked one hand through his hair again, the furrow that deepened between his eyebrows. "I'm only 26, for Sith's sake."

Anakin rolled his eyes. Some adults were just so dense. "That's ancient."

"Don't tell Master Qui-Gon that. He's a lot older than I am." Obi-Wan replied sharply, looking affronted as he folded his arms defensively across his chest.

Anakin dismissed that argument with a wave of his hand. "But he's a Jedi Master, so it's ok that he's old."

"Well, I am too!" Obi-Wan snapped, tugging Anakin's braid lightly. "I don't have one of these anymore, Padawan, which means that I'm a Jedi Knight as well."

Anakin snatched his braid away quickly, and studied the young Jedi's face, moving forward until Obi-Wan leaned back, brow furrowed. "You're frowning again!" Anakin pronounced finally, shaking his head in despair. "You're gonna get wrinkles if you frown all the time," he added helpfully.

Obi-Wan blinked for a moment at him, before scowling and shaking his head. "You're just abnormally cheerful!" he said sharply, looking away from Anakin to stare straight into the fire.

Anakin bounced on the couch slightly, pursing his lips. He didn't know if he had made Obi-Wan really mad or just kinda mad. Obi-Wan always looked stern, so it was hard to tell. He seriously debated asking Obi-Wan if he wanted to see the new droid that Anakin was tinkering with, as a peace offering. Fortunately, his Master spared him from having to make such a concession.

"Obi-Wan was always too serious for his own good," Qui-Gon agreed absently, returning to the couch and handing Master Kenobi his glass of the cognac. "I never met a boy who smiled less."

"Oh." Anakin looked up at the older Jedi, who was smiling fondly, then back at the bemused Obi-Wan. "I just thought it was because he didn't like me."

"Nonsense," Qui-Gon chuckled as Obi-Wan muttered "I don't."

Anakin, however, caught the younger Jedi's words, and his eyes widened in hurt surprise, his expression crumbling as he withdrew to his side of the couch with a wounded air. He had thought that Obi-Wan liked him, had hoped that the teasing was just Obi-Wan's way of showing affection. That's what his mom had always said when the girls his age on Tatooine had made fun of him. But Obi-Wan actually hated him?

He sniffled quietly, biting his lip and turning away from the younger Jedi so that Obi-Wan couldn't see the tears in his eyes.

"Oh for Sith's sake…" Obi-Wan muttered, rubbing one hand over his chin with a faint grimace. He really wasn't any good with children, Anakin noted blearily. Maybe he didn't like them. Maybe it was just Anakin that he didn't like.

"I… Anakin, I don't hate you at all," Obi-Wan floundered, looking desperately lost. Anakin didn't say anything, momentarily distracted from his sadness by the fact that the Jedi who had fearlessly fought against the Trade Federation on Naboo could find talking to a kid so hard. Qui-Gon never had that problem. Of course, Obi-Wan had never had a Padawan of his own, Anakin conceded charitably. Or maybe it was just hard to be nice to a… a…runt that he didn't like at all.

With effort, Obi-Wan continued, shrugging out of his over-cloak. "Look, I brought this back for you from the Outer Rim…," Obi-Wan fished into a pocket for something, extending it to Anakin with a worried half-smile.

Sniffling loudly, Anakin tentatively took the package from Obi-Wan's hand and tore at the wrapping. Obi-Wan had brought him a gift? He had actually thought to bring something? He did like Anakin after all! The other Padawans would be so jealous when he showed them! But his joy was short lived, as he realized that he had nothing to offer in return. It made him feel very small inside.

Obi-Wan was watching him closely, and that worried scowl was starting to appear on his face again. Anakin didn't want him to be mad when he found out that he wasn't getting a present.

"I'm… I'm sorry, I don't have… I don't have anything to give to you, Master Kenobi, sir," he mumbled, holding his small package tightly. It was the first thing he had ever been given of his very own – well aside from the robes and his room, but every Padawan got that so it didn't count, not really, – and he was terrified that Obi-Wan would want to take it back.

Obi-Wan looked perplexed. Anakin caught the glance that passed between him and Master Qui-Gon, and felt the warm rush of reassurance along his training bond.

"It's nothing very interesting, runt," Obi-Wan said quickly, staring down at his hands for a moment, before meeting Anakin's eyes. "I… I just thought that you might like it. I didn't expect anything in return."

"The point of the Solstice is just being together, Anakin," Qui-Gon added quietly. "Gifts aren't necessary, but something that is done for those we care about."

Anakin blinked tearily at his Master, casting an uncertain look in Obi-Wan's direction. So… that meant that Obi-Wan had actually… actually wanted to get Anakin a gift? That meant that he didn't hate Anakin after all! He smiled shakily, turning to beam at Obi-Wan, who still looked faintly unnerved. He really wasn't good with kids, Anakin noted with a silent sigh. It was obviously something that Obi-Wan would to have to work on if he was going to spend more time with Anakin and Qui-Gon. Anakin resolved to take on that responsibility as soon as possible. Somebody had to take charge of this relationship, after all.

Qui-Gon smiled, motioning elegantly towards the parcel and giving Anakin an encouraging nod. "Why don't you open it?"

Needing no further persuasion, Anakin ripped away the bright wrapping paper. "Wizard!" he exclaimed, holding up the small droid that was revealed.

"It was in the palace on Bocci, and the damn thing kept following me around when I was trying to sneak into the vizier's quarters," Obi-Wan said with a faint grin. "I don't think that it liked me being there at all. I'm afraid I… lost my temper with it," he reached out to poke at the silent droid. "The palace staff were just going to get rid of it – it was apparently the last of an outdated model. I thought that you might be able to fix it?"

Anakin nodded absently, already prying off a hatch on the side of the small droid, peering inside at the mangled wiring. Fixing this would be no problem, not after building C-3P0. Then he could have another playmate, or even better, maybe he could fix up the droid so that it could make his bed and clean up his room and….

"Bocci?" Qui-Gon was saying quietly. "That's on the Outer Rim, is it not? The entire sector is in the middle of a violent rebellion…."

Obi-Wan shot him a grin. "I'm sorry I didn't bring anything back for you Master, but I didn't know if you would prefer a corrupt adviser to the crown, a bribery shipment of glitterstim, or --"

"A vibro-blade attack?" Qui-Gon concluded softly, brushing Obi-Wan's neck lightly with the tips of his fingers, pulling back the fabric of the Knight's undertunic.

Feeling a wave of distress from Obi-Wan, echoed by a deep sadness from Master Qui-Gon, Anakin tore his eyes away from the droid in front of him. His eyes instantly focused in on where Qui-Gon's fingers rested on the younger Jedi's neck, allowing Anakin to catch a glimpse of an angry red scar twisting down onto Obi-Wan's shoulder. The sight made him feel ill. He had seen slaves with far worse scars than that on Tatooine of course; not all slave Masters were as… as kind really, as Watto had been. He had never beaten Anakin or his mother, after all, even though it would have been well within his rights to do so.

But a Jedi? They weren't supposed to be able to get hurt.

Anakin imagined what other scars Obi-Wan might have, wondered what kind of scars Master Qui-Gon had… and what marks he would carry by the time he was a Jedi Master. It was scary to think about. But Obi-Wan dismissed it, pushing Qui-Gon's hand away with a tight smile.

"I'm fine, Master," he assured Qui-Gon quietly. Anakin hoped that he would be that brave someday. The mark looked like it had hurt a lot.

"Obi-Wan, the Council should know better than to send you on these dangerous missions before you're assigned to a partner –"

Anakin looked up, startled. He had never heard Qui-Gon sound so angry before, and directed at the Council no less. He had moved from the chair to kneel in front of Obi-Wan. One hand was resting lightly on Obi-Wan's neck, but Anakin noticed that the other was gripping the younger Jedi's knee tightly.

"Master… Qui-Gon… please." Obi-Wan caught the hand on his neck in his own. "Please. It's the Solstice. Can you just let it go?" When he saw that Qui-Gon was hesitating, Obi-Wan leaned forward slightly, eyes pleading. "For my sake?"

With a sigh, Qui-Gon relented, letting his hand drop back to his side. Anakin hesitated, once again feeling something… else in the air. Qui-Gon felt… scared. It worried Anakin – he had never known his Master to be scared of anything. But he was now; he was scared for Obi-Wan.

Maybe Obi-Wan wasn't as strong as Anakin had thought…but no, that didn't make sense. Anakin had seen him fight on Naboo against all those droids, and besides, only the strongest of Jedi could have survived a vibro-blade slash to the neck like that.

But if Obi-Wan was so strong, then why did he feel scared as well? And what was surprising was that he was scared of Qui-Gon. It was a different kind of fear than Qui-Gon's was, resonating on a different level in Anakin's mind. Anakin shot a look at the older Jedi, but there wasn't any anger on his face. Besides, Qui-Gon had told Anakin Jedi didn't believe in beatings as a punishment, the way the slave masters did, so Obi-Wan didn't have to worry about that.

But Anakin could feel Obi-Wan's tension through the Force, could feel the way that his heart had sped up the moment that Qui-Gon had touched his neck. He was scared. While Qui-Gon was fearing for Obi-Wan's life, Obi-Wan…he was tense just because Qui-Gon had touched him. His nervousness flared brightly through the Force, edged with something… some sort of longing.

It passed in a moment, leaving Anakin reassured that his Master and the Obi-Wan weren't angry at each other for any reason. He wriggled away as Qui-Gon joined them on the couch, opting instead to move himself to a comfortable chair perpendicular to the chesterfield. He could tinker more with his new droid that way, as well as keeping an eye on both his Master and Obi-Wan just in case. But he had nothing to worry about, as the two older Jedi were already quietly discussing old missions – stuff that was frankly boring to Anakin's mind.

And the fire was warm, and the sip of cognac that Qui-Gon had let him try earlier was humming pleasantly in his brain, and the pinear tree smelled so good….

---

Anakin only realized he had drifted off when he woke suddenly. Somebody had covered him with a blanket, tucking it tightly in around his curled-up form. The room was darker, the fire having collapsed into a few fitfully glowing embers. Though his muscles shrieked in protest, he kept himself perfectly still; uncertain of what had woken him.

"Master Kenobi…"

That was Qui-Gon's voice, but it sounded oddly rough, strained almost.

"Don't… don't start calling me that as well." Obi-Wan's voice also sounded ragged. Anakin let his eyes open to blue slivers. The two Jedi were standing by the hallway that lead to Anakin's and Qui-Gon's bedrooms. Although they were doing nothing more than looking at each other, Anakin could feel the tension that thrummed through the air, twining between the two men.

"Obi-Wan –"

"Master, please…" Obi-Wan reached up, his fingers brushing faintly against Qui-Gon's cheek. Anakin heard how his voice trembled faintly. "Ever since I was a Padawan, Master, you know that I…." he trailed off, his breathing ragged. "I thought of you every day when I was in that hell-hole on Bocci, just waiting to see your face again. I've waited for so long. Please…."

Anakin held his breath as Obi-Wan took a step forward to wrap his arms around Qui-Gon's neck, running the fingers of one hand through the older Jedi's hair. Anakin could feel Qui-Gon stiffen in response, and gasped as he suddenly pushed Obi-Wan back against the wall. Qui-Gon wasn't angry at Obi-Wan was he? But no… he was kissing the younger Jedi Knight. And the tension in the air was gone, now that the two of them were tightly pressed together.

Anakin rolled his eyes, settling back more comfortably into his chair, though trying to be quiet. So that's what it had all been about; Qui-Gon being cheerful all week, Obi-Wan being scared around his former Master. It wasn't that big a deal, kissing somebody. Anakin had kissed girls on Tatooine before, just to find out what all the fuss was all about. He had even kissed Kitster on a dare once.

Maybe it was different for Jedi. Master Qui-Gon could have asked Anakin if he wanted help, though….

Anakin smiled to himself, closing his eyes tightly once more. He could feel contentment flowing through the Force now, and he sighed happily. He had a family again….

---

"Runt. Hey, runt."

Somebody was shaking him by the shoulder. Anakin whined a sleepy protest; turning away from the speaker and pulling his blanket up over his head. "Don' wanna get up…" he moaned slightly.

He heard a sigh, and opened his eyes a crack to see Obi-Wan, wearing a sleepy smile and dishevelled hair. Then strong arms were around him, lifting him effortlessly from the chair. Automatically, he curled his head towards the warmth of the Jedi's chest, one hand draping loosely over Obi-Wan's shoulders. He could feel the ridge of the scar Qui-Gon had noticed earlier under his fingertips, and another one under his cheek – right over Obi-Wan's heart.

Then he was being set down gently on his bed. Anakin whimpered as the warmth of his Jedi-pillow tried to pull away, and he wound his arms tighter around Obi-Wan's neck, curling closer. The mattress compressed next to him, and there was a hand stroking his hair. Murmuring in sleepy contentment, Anakin snuggled closer, sinking back into sleep.

---

"Obi-Wan…?" Qui-Gon paused in the doorway, a smile curving his tired features at the sight that met his eyes. The younger Jedi Knight had slipped away earlier on, muttering something about 'putting the runt to bed'. Too sleepy and content to protest, Qui-Gon had reluctantly let the younger man out of his arms; curling over into the warm patch of blankets that Obi-Wan had left behind.

Apparently, Anakin had equal difficulty allowing Obi-Wan to escape from his bed. The boy had his arms tightly wound around Obi-Wan's neck, his head pillowed against the young Knight's chest. The result was that Obi-Wan was forced to sleep in a half-sitting position, serving as Anakin's mattress. Qui-Gon chuckled, reaching over to gently unwind Anakin's arms from Obi-Wan's neck, easing his apprentice back down onto the bed proper and off of Obi-Wan.

Sleepy eyes fluttered open – the green predominating now that Obi-Wan was tired – and met Qui-Gon's own slowly. Realizing that he was free of his Padawan-barnacle, Obi-Wan stretched languorously and winced as his back cracked loudly in the silent room. "That runt of yours certainly is clingy, isn't he?"

"I don't know what it is about Padawans… somehow they always find a way to wrangle their way into the sternest heart." Qui-Gon leaned forward, brushing his lips against Obi-Wan's. "You certainly did, against my better judgement."

Obi-Wan purred in contentment, leaning forward into the chaste kiss. "Well, I'm still glad that you're the kid's Master, and not me. I have no patience with children." He replied, stifling a yawn as they broke apart again.

"You might surprise yourself one day," Qui-Gon replied calmly, gently tugging Obi-Wan to his feet. "For now, it's too early to think about that. Come back to bed…."

"Oh, I'm glad that you woke me up for that," Obi-Wan grumbled, but willingly allowed himself to be lead from the room.


TBC!

Please remember that reviews are love!

I want to take a moment to say HA! To TM as well, becuse she finally felt the Obi/Qui. I told you I just needed to find the right fic to turn your head! YAY!

Xtine