I was lying on a hard surface and a voice was trying to wake me. "Not now, Anakin, please," I mumbled, trying to fall back asleep.
I should never have told Anakin about that use of the Force. It started innocently enough.
After close to a year together, young Anakin and I were feeling comfortable with each other. I no longer choked on the words when I called him "my padawan." The words now slipped off my tongue with no difficulty, though my heart clenched with unreleased pain at each utterance, for it still thought that title belonged to me. Padawan of Master Qui-Gon Jinn – I had worn that proudly for over ten years. I had lost that title when I had lost my master to the blade of a Sith, there on Naboo.
I ached, every time I spoke that title, but the ache would quickly be thrust away, deep within, for I had no time to grieve. Perhaps that is why the pain was still there, at each word and each thought that brought my master to mind.
I had never had time to fully face, accept, and release my deep grief. Anakin kept me too busy: I had no time to think of the past. I had returned from Naboo with Anakin already my apprentice, a boy with innate talent and no training, a boy starting training far older than most Jedi apprentices. There was so much to try to catch up on, and it was hard to know where to start.
He was bright and quick, my young padawan learner, but he hadn't learned that knowledge of some things did not give him mastery over them. I had to constantly supervise him to see that he mastered one skill before attempting to learn another. I didn't always succeed, as I was now discovering.
I had never known how much energy it took to keep up with a rambunctious, eager ten year old. I was only twenty-six, in prime physical condition, and I was always worn out from chasing after Anakin. I even slept with one eye and one ear open, for the little scamp would sneak out to scrounge for parts for the endless mechanical tinkering he did during his free time. Many a time I would follow him to some disreputable spot and keep watch over him, for I seemed unable to restrain his nocturnal rambles. Someday, when I felt he was skilled enough to protect himself, I would probably turn over and go back to sleep and let him fend for himself.
This time, it had been ten straight nights of interrupted sleep, made worse by the fact that it was almost the anniversary of Qui-Gon's death. Because I had had no time to mourn a year ago, it was only in the all too short hours of the night when the pain of watching my master die in front of me, unable to help, surfaced. My dreams were even more troubled as the date approached: more insistent now, as if I needed to be reminded of Qui-Gon's death. When I caught glimpses of my eyes, they were red and dull with lack of sleep and my tongue seemed wrapped in wool.
My friends were concerned about me, and even Master Yoda peered closely at me as we passed in the hall one evening. Paradoxically, the more exhausted I felt, the harder I found it to sleep.
When even Anakin asked if I was feeling okay, I knew I had to get some rest. I muttered something about trying a sleep suggestion on myself. He asked how one did that. I should never have answered him.
I was amused when I felt him try one on me. Of course, I knew he would, though I had not really told him how it was done, just that it could be done. I kept my eyes focused on the datapad I was trying to read, though my eyes kept insisting I was staring at two datapads side by side. Double the work, I thought darkly at the twin pads, before chuckling at Anakin.
"Won't work, Anakin," I advised. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, to see his disappointed look. I put down both datapads and waited for him to speak.
"Well?" I encouraged him, when he was uncharacteristically slow to ask why he wasn't able to succeed. He just stared at me. I raised an eyebrow and enumerated several reasons.
"One, it only works on weak or sleepy minds. Two, I expected it. Three, I didn't tell you exactly how it's done and I don't plan to. Four, you won't learn how until you know enough when to use it and when to refrain from using it. Five, don't try it until I tell you how, because if done improperly it can have unintended consequences and can be dangerous. Six…."
I hid a grin when I saw him get this glazed look in his eyes. I usually lost him about the third "why you shouldn't." This was no exception. That was the second mistake: reason number five should have been first.
I hid a yawn behind my hand, but Anakin saw it.
"Is it past your bedtime, Master?" he asked with an impertinent grin.
"Young scamp," I lunged at him, hiding my amusement. I almost got him, too, but he was quick and was over by the doorway laughing at me. I stood up and crossed my arms, glaring at him, while inside I was laughing at the expression on his face. Even now, he wasn't always sure what effect his antics had on me.
A Master should always keep his Padawan off guard – keep them on their toes, keep them from getting complacent. So Qui-Gon had always told me. It did make me stop and think before some of my pranks got a little too out of control – fear of my master's reaction if it went too far.
I never wanted to disappoint him. That one time was enough. I still shrink inside each time I think of it. He forgave me, of course. As I would forgive Anakin if he disappointed me, only, I suspected, Anakin didn't have quite the same fear of letting me down. His fear was of me holding him back. He absolutely delighted in testing my limits when testing his own.
Insolent whelp! Of course I was laughing, as much as it pained me. I suspect his life as a slave taught him the only way to be in control was through such sly testing and seemingly innocent pushing of boundaries. I didn't want to squash such independence and spirit, yet Anakin needed to learn at least some self restraint along with control of the Force. To him, the Force was a tool to follow his commands.
I wanted and needed to teach him that being a Jedi had nothing to do with controlling the Force, it was mastering oneself and working in tandem with the Force.
I was trying to meditate but Anakin was far too full of questions today, and wouldn't take a gentle hint that he wait a while. I had already spent several hours in training with him, and I needed a break. Badly. He needed answers. Right now.
I had finally sent Anakin off to do some research in the Archives. He probably wouldn't do much studying, but he would be under the watchful eye of Jocasta Nu and I – I would finally find some quiet moments to reflect and meditate in. I was on my way to the Room of a Thousand Fountains, when an alcove in the Grand Hall seemed to invite me in.
That was my third mistake. I didn't know I had already made the first two.
I made myself comfortable and quiet, and closed my eyes. Quite possibly that was the fourth mistake I made. From there the mistakes kept escalating, and I stopped counting.
I was deep in meditation, when my realization that it was a year ago today, almost this very moment, that Qui-Gon had died on Naboo pulled me from my peace and opened the door to my too-long denied pain and grief. To my horror, I couldn't control the sobs that wracked my body or the shaking of my shoulders as I shrank into a corner, all but collapsed in pain. It was all I could do to keep my sobbing silent. I huddled in my corner until I could finally draw breathe and dry my tears, and that's when I became aware of a small hand patting me on the shoulder and a worried face staring at me.
"Anakin," I croaked in surprise.
"Are you okay, Master?" Those mischievous, devious eyes of my precious charge were solemn and far too wise for his years. "Are you crying because today marks the year since Master Qui-Gon died?" His lips quivered, just a bit, for he, too, had loved my master though their time together was far too short.
I nodded, as the tears started afresh and slowly slid down my cheeks, but this was not the storm of remembrance that had so shaken me but minutes before. This was now a quiet sorrow, of a remembered grief that was no longer fresh. I had finally come to terms with Qui-Gon's death, and I had found peace.
Wordlessly, I opened my arms, as Qui-Gon had always opened his heart to someone in need, and my young Padawan, my oh-so-young and oh-so-old Anakin, leaned against me and we hugged. Our bond was the widest open it had ever been, and for the first time I felt we really connected. It brought me great satisfaction, and I gently tousled his hair. He always hated that, but it had been the one act of physical affection I felt comfortable bestowing on him, I who longed for the emotional closeness such as Qui-Gon and I had shared, and he desirous of the physical.
He merely sighed, straightened his hair, and hugged me closer. I smiled against his soft silky hair and patted his back, thanked him, and told him to be on his way.
He asked if I would rest now. I smiled and answered, soon. Not yet, for I had things to do, but tonight, tonight I knew I would sleep.
That was probably my last mistake.
Anakin squinted at me, and rather quietly nodded and left. I wasn't watching him – that might have been the final mistake. I dragged my hand across my face, straightened my tunic and stepped forth into the hallway.
There was that soft voice again, trying to wake me.
"Not now, Anakin, please," I pleaded, wanting nothing more than to bury my face under my pillow and just go back to sleep. My bed did feel rather hard, and my cheek was not lying on a soft pillow.
I realized my nose was squished against a cool tile floor and as I dragged my eyes open, I realized there was something dark just inches from my eyes. I groaned and let my addled mind try to decipher it: smooth with soft indentations, softly curved, and tapping in an amused rhythm. Hide…footwear… boot. Jedi boots. A Jedi!
I winced and turned my head and found myself staring up into the stern eyes of Mace Windu. I almost thought I saw a sparkle of amusement deep within. I groaned, and the tall figure of Master Windu crouched beside me and a cool hand touched my cheek.
"Sleeping on the floor or are you sick?" he inquired with a frown.
"Uh?" I said. The man of a thousand words, me, the one starting to gain a small reputation as a good negotiator, and "uh" was the only response I could think of.
"Ah," I added for good measure, as some semblance of coherency came back. I lifted my head and blinked, then sat up and rubbed my cheek. "Hmm."
I looked at the floor, at Master Windu, at the passing Jedi in the distance who had stopped to look at me, and felt my face flush with sudden realization.
"Anakin!" I bellowed as I surged to my feet, only this bellow came out as a tired whisper. My mind was finally – almost - awake and trying to reconnect with nerve and muscle, and not succeeding too well. I almost collapsed back to the floor and only Master Windu's grasp on my arm and subsequent tug got me to my feet where I wavered unsteadily.
Anakin's scared face swam in and out of focus as I tried to pin him down. "You…tried – sleep suggestion…me." I tried to sound indignant, but I merely felt sick. I tried again, but my tongue didn't seem to work any better than the rest of me. "Told you – dangerous – when…when don't know – how…."
Mace rolled his eyes and tightened his grip on my arm. It was the only thing keeping me upright.
"Up to the healers with you, Obi-Wan," he said. "Anakin, you should heed your master's words of caution. He's going to be very sick, I'm afraid. Take his other arm, he's not going to be very steady on his feet, and help me get him upstairs quickly."
At least I didn't throw up in the Grand Hallway. Or on Mace's boots, or on Anakin. It was pure misfortune that Master Yoda showed up when he did.
At least I got a good couple of night's sleep up in the Healer's Ward. Someone else had to keep an eye on Anakin. I don't think either Mace or Anakin appreciated it.
And me – I would never live this down. Obi-Wan Kenobi, falling asleep in the Grand Hallway, snoozing in the middle of the floor. I swear I never – it was all his fault.