Title: As Clear As Mud

Rating: M

Characters: A/O, A/P

Time: Anakin is twenty.

Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable.

Summary: After being thrown into a survival situation, Anakin and Obi-Wan question their Master/Padawan roles. AU. Slash later on. There is a missing moment scene in another, briefer fic entitled, "Trailer Park Princess," set when Anakin is fourteen.

Part One

The planet Trow was a study in blandness. Its Galactic-Average-sized humanoids ate plainly, eschewing any spices for a nutritious though monotonous diet. Its terrain had hills, but no mountains; its oceans had no islands whatsoever, and its trees never topped five meters. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, newly appointed to the High Council, hated to bring excitement into its ordered existence, but his SoroSuub V-35 Courier was on fire.

"Master! Look out!"

Kenobi's twenty year-old Padawan, Anakin Skywalker, tore his gaze but not his hands away from the ship's dual controls, in time to see their little dejarik table torque loose from the cargo space behind the two pilot seats, rotate in midair, and crack the viewport, clipping Obi-Wan's skull along the way. The Master slumped in his seat, his hands still loosely clasping the control yoke. The approach vector wavered onscreen while Anakin watched. It blacked out for a second, then flickered into a sharp clear diagram before a final flare into blankness. Kriff. System after system shut down. He pressed the distress beacon signal just before it, too, winked to blackness. A quick visual above Trow's rapidly approaching surface confirmed that their destination, the southern regional capital of Nepsa, lay some fifty kilometers away. Anakin would worry about getting there when and if they set down onplanet.

Growling deep in his throat about funding for the Jedi Temple's Fleet Maintenance Program and grateful that this did not happen when he took the Supreme Chancellor out for a much-needed private getaway spin around Galactic City last week, Anakin spared a hand to snug down the straps on the crash webbing surrounding Obi-Wan. The Courier's ablative shielding kept them from incinerating as Anakin's firm grip guided the ship bumpily from the clear upper atmosphere through high clouds and then dense low fog. He cast about blindly, though in the Force, he was sensing a flat meadow with a broad river snaking through its wide expanse. The river could break their momentum if they hit it at the right angle. A last tug at the controls and then they hit, bouncing, splashing, finally settling half-submerged.

Fast-moving brown river water surged over their viewport as the Courier slowly sank. Flood conditions. Anakin scrambled for food pellets, shed his cloak, checked for his rebreather in its pouch on his belt as he tucked in the food pellets in the pouch beside it. A final tug to ensure his lightsaber's position and he was ready. The raging water now blocked the viewport completely. The ship began to plane slowly to the river bottom, who knew how many meters below. "Come on, Master." He undid Obi-Wan's crash webbing, said the Respect-for-Master's-Authority release in a breathless gabble while grabbing his collar with his left hand as the Master slid forward and shucked Obi-Wan's rich chestnut travel robes. Anakin began to cough in the growing smoky atmosphere. Fighting the deck's slant with difficulty, he swiveled Obi-Wan's seat before opening the man's legs widely and reaching in to grip one thigh for a shoulder carry. He clenched Obi-Wan's upper right arm over his shoulder and heaved.

Obi-Wan's eyes flickered open as he felt himself hoisted, swaying into the air giddily. "S-s-s-stop, Anakin. I can walk." They coughed together as flame finally overcame wires and safety circuits, touched the spilled nerf shortening in the galley from lunch and flared into something to fear. Anakin steadied a woozy Obi-Wan as the Master pointed to the emergency raft rolled around two segmented oars, all an easy-to-spot yellow. Their teamwork need no words at this point. Still with an arm about Obi-Wan's shoulders, Anakin punched the button to lower the ramp, hoisting the raft away from the ramp's sharp edges. The river attacked the cruiser, swirling muddy water into the passenger space, up to knees, thighs, necks quickly. Seeing that Obi-Wan carried a purpling bruise on his temple, but no other outward damage, Anakin lunged into the murk and stroked far enough away to twist the nipple that released the pressurizing gas. The raft leaped into being. He flung himself onboard with a loud squelch before grabbing Obi-Wan by arm and thigh, dragging him roughly over the gunwale.

They gasped together, wet though not cold in Trow's reddish sunlight. There was no sign of the Courier. Obi-Wan lay back, blinking in returning Masterly form as he asked, "Any idea where we are?"

"About fifty kilometers from Nepsa. River seems to be heading towards it." Anakin nodded in satisfaction. His Master was back with him; he had no desire to revisit the circumstances of Sugnid, when a variant of sleeping sickness claimed Obi-Wan for its next victim and Anakin had toted his Master in Tatooine-like heat for two solid days, all the while hydrating him forcibly. Anakin didn't think he would have made a very good healer then and he didn't think so now. The feeling of absolute helplessness during a loved one's suffering rankled his pride, and his knowledge of disease etiology was minimal.

"So the best place in the entire galaxy to be is here, floating towards our destination," Obi-Wan said with a small grin. "We're alive, my Padawan, we're alive."

The river abided.