Qui-Gon Jinn was gone. The Sith had been killed, the Viceroy Separatists taken prisoner. Padme Amidala had stepped into the open as Queen of Naboo. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were heroes, but neither felt it. Qui-Gon was dead.
Anakin woke late that night in the Theed Palace. The small room was dark, and he blinked sleepily, hoping to fall back asleep but feeling exhausted and somehow scared. He thought for a moment, and his dreams came back to him. He squeezed his eyes shut and pinched his lips together, trying to force the images out of his head, without success.
The Sith, face painted red and black, leering at him from the shadows…a blood-red lightsaber…Qui-Gon buckling, sinking to his knees, eyes cold and dead…Obi-Wan lying lifeless on the ground…Padme slumped against a wall, eyes shut, face pale…the Sith turning to face him with another cold smile…
A tendril of something touched his mind, and his eyes jumped open, staring into the darkness until they adjusted. A shadowy shape was sitting by his bedside, silent and unmoving, but unmistakably awake. A hand reached out and touched his tentatively, soothingly.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
It was Obi-Wan. Anakin hesitated. He didn't know the younger Jedi well; he had only spoken directly to him half a dozen times. It had been Qui-Gon he had been close to, Qui-Gon he had grown to love so quickly. This apprentice was withdrawn and quiet, too serious and aloof for Anakin to feel drawn to. And yet here he was, sitting in Anakin's room in the middle of the night.
"It's ok," he said.
"You were dreaming."
"How did you…" the question died in his throat. He nodded instead, realized that Obi-Wan couldn't see him, and then thought that maybe it didn't matter. If the Jedi had known he was dreaming, he could probably sense Anakin's nod.
"Do you want to talk about it?" the question was soft, hesitant, and Anakin felt a sudden pang of irritation. Was it only now that Qui-Gon was dead that Obi-Wan would consent to talk to him? Would ask to talk to him? The desire to brush the young Jedi away was quickly overcome by his desire for comfort.
"It was bad dreams."
Obi-Wan stirred a little, but didn't say anything. Anakin took a deep, shuddering breath, fighting tears.
"I watched Master Qui-Gon die."
At this, Obi-Wan's arm moved as if he were about to each out again, but decided against it at the last second. "You saw it?"
"I don't think it was real, because you were dead too. And Padme. And…" Anakin felt the corners of his mouth pulling and fought to regain control. "My mother."
"I'm sorry." Obi-Wan's voice was nearly inaudible, a whisper in the blackness. "I'm glad you woke, then."
"Me too. Master Obi-Wan…I'm sorry. For Qui-Gon."
Obi-Wan didn't reply. A low sigh emanated from his outline, and he slumped backward into his chair. They sat still for a long moment. Anakin discreetly watched the Jedi Apprentice, wondering if he should say something. Finally, the Jedi spoke, and his voice was thick and hoarse.
"How are you coping?"
Anakin felt the tears rise to his eyes again as he thought of Qui-Gon. "It's so hard."
"I know." Obi-Wan swallowed audibly and his head dropped forward onto his chest. "It is, isn't it?"
Anakin wiped his cheeks, but the tears wouldn't stop now that they had started. He could feel his crying turning toward sobs, but he suddenly didn't care. As much as he wanted to maintain a brave front for this Jedi, he thought crying sounded the better option. As soon as he had let his reservations go, he felt the Jedi beside him. Obi-Wan eased onto the bed gently, gingerly, and one arm crept around Anakin's back. Anakin melted instinctively into the broad shoulder and he buried his face in the rough tunic. Obi-Wan tightened his grip, and the other hand went to Anakin's hair, the surprisingly gentle fingers twisting the hair comfortingly.
It was not until a tear dripped onto his forehead that he realized that Obi-Wan was crying too. As soon as he had discovered this, he became aware of the slight shaking in Obi-Wan's chest and shoulders, and heard the soft, hitching breaths above his own sobs. This alone nearly stopped his crying, but Obi-Wan only pulled him closer, as if desperate for human contact. Anakin allowed it, feeling safe and secure in the strong arms of the Jedi.
They sat that way for a long time, crying together. Anakin could feel Obi-Wan's pain like he could his own; he was sure that Obi-Wan could feel his too. He reached out nervously and felt Obi-Wan's presence on the edges of his own consciousness. Obi-Wan was like a waterfall, a bright, clear, powerful, but gentle waterfall of light and warmth. He felt the soothing radiance of him, and felt suddenly as close to the apprentice as he had to Qui-Gon.
Underneath the waterfall was a torrent of darkness and pain. He felt that too, and tried to wish it away, to stop the hurt. In response, he felt Obi-Wan squeeze his shoulders gently, and he smiled through his tears. And then a light, ethereal touch brushed at his mind, and he felt some of the hurt start to fade. Obi-Wan's aura caressed his, and Anakin let his meet the apprentice's. The auras wrapped about each other, comforting, healing, and Anakin's tears slowed.
Obi-Wan shifted, and Anakin sat up a little straighter, ready to pull away if Obi-Wan wanted to leave, yet hoping that he did not, that he would stay a little longer. Obi-Wan gently pulled him back, and Anakin relaxed again.
"Are you sleepy?"
Obi-Wan's voice was full of unshed tears, carrying quietly through the darkness. Anakin's own voice cracked as he responded.
"Yes. But don't go."
"I won't. Are you comfortable?"
"Yes." And it was true. Anakin felt perfectly at home in the Jedi's embrace. The young man smelled like earth and ocean and rain all at the same time, and Anakin thought it was wonderful. It was nothing like his mother's soft, lemony scent or Qui-Gon's faint aftershave, but he thought it suited Obi-Wan perfectly. He breathed in deeply through a stuffed nose and the breath came out in a shudder. Obi-Wan's hand resumed its stroking of his hair. Anakin focused on it, feeling the calluses and hard skin brush against his face occasionally, wondering at how tender the touch was, yet how unlike his mother's the strong, rough fingers were.
The tears had stopped, and his face felt cracked and rough. He licked his lips and tasted salt, and licked them again. He sniffed, feeling suddenly exhausted. Obi-Wan's hand stopped stroking his hair, and a second later he felt the blankets being drawn up around his shoulders. He snuggled in deeper into Obi-Wan's chest and let the warmth lull him further into sleep.
Obi-Wan started to hum. His voice was shaky and thick, but it was a nice voice, and Anakin's mind went once again to his mother. She had used to sing him to sleep. Now maybe Obi-Wan would. But the Jedi did not sing, only hummed a simple, haunting, slow tune that sounded vaguely familiar to Anakin.
"What is that?" he murmured when Obi-Wan had finished.
"It's a Core Worlds lullaby," Obi-Wan replied. "From my home world."
"I like it."
Obi-Wan said nothing, but after a moment he began the song again. When he had finished the second time through, he began another one, this one a little brighter, but still slow and peaceful. He finished, but did not begin again.
"What's that one?"
Obi-Wan took a long time in answering, and when he did Anakin could barely hear the reply.
"It's one Qui-Gon wrote, a long time ago."
Anakin squeezed his eyes tightly, but the tears did not return. He felt himself slipping away, and let the welcome darkness take his mind, sure that with Obi-Wan there, the dreams would not return. As he entered the realm between awake and sleep, he heard Obi-Wan start Qui-Gon's song again. Another tear dropped onto his hand from the Jedi above him, but Anakin had barely registered it before he had succumbed to sleep.
That was the last time he saw Obi-Wan cry until Mustafar.