Disclaimer: I don't own the boys, George Lucas does.

Title and chapter headings taken from Pain's 'nothing remains the same' album

Summary: Maul/Obi-Wan slash AU, set six years pre-TPM… "In another life, he did not stop by the cactus garden. In another life, he was not punished for his tardiness, which was worth something. Anything. Nothing."

Rating for safety (some violence, some language and an orange)

Usual caveats: I'm German. If you find a mistake, please bother to correct me.

A/N: Yes, this is slash. If you don't like that, go somewhere else. Also, please note this is an alternate universe, so of course it's a stretch. EU will be ignored as needed. Likewise, I couldn't help to be influenced by the Maul/Obi stuff that is still left on the net, but I did try not to plagiarize. I bow to the respective authors.

Xxx

Nothing remains the same

Intro

In another life, he did not stop by the cactus garden.

…It was an arena-like structure on top of a building, terraced with dry-stone walls, allowing the cacti the maximum amount of sunlight without leaving them open to the wind…

He did not relish the smell of burnt earth and the feeling of sun on his skin. He did not allow himself to feel the peace there.

The little boy did not wander up to him.

… "Are you sick?"

Maul looked down. The child was hovering in front of him, nearly bursting with curiosity, all wide eyes and a shock of sand colored hair. Four or five years old, maybe. He didn't have much practice at guessing ages.

"Them lines on your face." The boy pointed. "They're scars, right? That's why you wear the hood."

Somehow, it was an apt description. "They are tattoos", he explained, and caught himself. He'd been told not to converse with strangers.

"Oh. What's tattoos?"

Maul was saved from an answer by a woman who came hurrying down some stairs, radiating worry. She was short, with the same sandy hair as the child, and had an aura of caring around her.

"Aiken", she scolded, softly. "You can't just run off as soon as I'm not looking."

The boy nodded guiltily.

"I hope he wasn't too much of a bother", she addressed Maul.

"No… it's quite alright."

She nodded, relief washing off her in waves, before she grabbed the boy's hand and they retreated. He could hear the child telling her happily about his little adventure; loads of idle chatter, and she actually seemed to be listening.

Maul couldn't think of a time he had spoken so much when not prompted. Shutting up was probably the first thing he had learned from his Master. He couldn't quite remember, his early years were just a haze of darkness in his mind.

It was also quite difficult to pinpoint the time when he'd realized that his bringing up was as far removed from normal as it could possibly be, and that he was, in popular language, completely and utterly fucked up.

Shying away from that line of thought, he grounded himself and went back to his assigned quarters.

In another life, he was not punished for his tardiness, which was worth something. Anything. Nothing.