Anakin Skywalker was an early riser.
At least, Obi-Wan thought as he felt the weight of all of Anakin's nine years bounce onto his chest, that would certainly be the logical conclusion. The chrono on the wall put it at approximately 0400 hours, which as far as he was concerned, was not an hour that ought to have existed.
"Are you awake, Master Obi-Wan?" Anakin poked his forehead, peering down with bright eyes that glowed in the dark, in a way that human eyes just weren't supposed to do. Obi-Wan really hoped that it was just the midichlorians that caused that, and not that Anakin was some sort of freaky shape shifter.
"I'm awake, Anakin," he said with a sigh, because apparently his open glare hadn't gotten the message across strongly enough.
"Good!" Anakin mercifully bounced off of his chest and onto the side of the bed. "Master, I'm nervous."
Oh. That was right. Today (if daycould really be applied to these unholy hours) was Anakin's first day of classes with the rest of the younglings.
He tossed his arm over his face, temporarily blocking out Anakin's head. Then, deciding to act properly master-like, he asked, "What exactly are you nervous about, Anakin?"
"What if everyone hates me?"
Oh. A self-esteem issue? How terribly clichéd. Everyone had those; he had hoped that this would be worth it, for the hour he'd been woken at.
At least he knew how to deal with these. He'd had plenty issues like that, and Qui-Gon had explained the whole thing out to him.
"It'll be unfortunate if everyone hates you, but as long as you meet your quota, you should be fine, though."
"What's a quota?"
"It's something you need to fill. Like a water bottle, or an empty heart. Your friends' quota refers to all of the friends that you need to have to live a balanced life."
"Is that in the Jedi Code?" asked Anakin.
"You know, I think it is." Obi-Wan had yet to actually let Anakin know that the Jedi Code was five lines long and extremely vague. He seemed to think of it as some lengthy, mystical document, and Obi-Wan thought that his naïveté was rather sweet. And it worked to his advantage to be able to make whatever amendments were needed.
"Okay. So what friends do I need to fill my...quota?" He wrinkled his nose as he said the new word, as if expanding his vocabulary left a rotten scent wafting through the air.
"Hmm." Obi-Wan rolled over and folded his hands behind his head, contemplatively taking in the ceiling. "Well, one of them has to be a girl."
"A girl?" Anakin made that look again, proving that learning new words was just as terrible a thing as gender diversity. "Girls have cooties."
"You don't have to be friends with someone who has cooties," Obi-Wan explained patiently. "You want to be friends with someone who's smart and vaguely tomboyish, but with whom you get along well. Eventually, there'll be sexual tension between you—but that won't be until you have hormones. Don't worry."
"Well, okay. I don't want to think about any other girls except for Padmé, but I guess I can if it's a Jedi thing. Who else do I need to be friends with?"
"Let's see." Obi-Wan counted on his fingers, ignoring the mildly unhealthy obsession that Anakin was hinting at having with Padmé (he was young; in a few weeks, surely, all thoughts of the young queen would be overridden by droids and speeders. Eventually he would forget all about her). "You'll need a Loveable Buffoon for comic relief. And it needs to be a boy."
"Can't girls be funny?"
"You already have a girl," Obi-Wan replied. "Everyone knows that it's silly to have more than one friend a different gender."
"That doesn't really make sense. Shouldn't I be making friends based on their personalities, not whether they're a boy or a girl, or anything like that?"
"Master Qui-Gon was extremely displeased with me when he learned that I was friends with three women—one named Bant, one named Siri, and the last one, Satine." Obi-Wan shuddered, remembering the weight of his Master's frown. "That's why you'll only ever hear about one of them."
"If a Loveable Buffoon is unavailable, you can probably substitute a Loyal Advisor. In fact, sometimes Loveable Buffoons are Loyal Advisors. A Loyal Advisor will always stick by your side. Their sole purpose is to validate you."
"You mean the world revolves around me?" Anakin grinned, all worry about having only one girl friend gone. "It's because I'm the Chosen One, right?"
"Yes, yes." Obi-Wan freed his hand from under his pillow and waved it impatiently, wanting to get on. Maybe he could get some sleep after the whole educating thing. "Most important, though, is your Foil. You have to have one of those."
"Why do I need foil? Do I need to wrap up hot foodstuffs? Or make a hat to protect me from the Senate's mindreading droid spies?"
"Not foil. A Foil. Whatever he does something, you try to do it better because you secretly despise him, even though you insist that you respect him and value him as a peer. And the reason that you hate him is because he's good. You know that, deep down, he's better than you. And for that, you will never forgive him."
"Mom told me that I should always forgive people, no matter how bad or mean they were. She said that otherwise, I'd be a bad person 'cause all of that hate would weigh down on me."
"It doesn't count with Foils. They're also known as Mortal Enemies. Or Backstabbers. Because you'll be their foil, and they'll hate you just as much as you hate them. Except they'll act as though they're morally superior to you, like they don't hate you. Like they're hurt by your backstabbing. But you'll know that they'll turn around and do the same to you, Anakin. You'll know."
"I guess I will. If you say so." Anakin nodded, frowning thoughtfully. "Is there more room for people on my friends quota than just that? I think I'd get lonely if I only had three friends, with only two that I could trust. And only one that doesn't have cooties."
"Oh, of course." Obi-Wan waved a hand. "Those are the fluff. You should have plenty of unimportant friends, people whose names you know, but who you don't really know. Names to beef up your amounts of friends on social networking sites, and to see that your cafeteria table isn't empty during midday break. You can like them if you want—you don't have to, of course—but the most important thing is just that they're there. They boost your ego and make you popular."
"Okay." Anakin nodded eagerly and then frowned, changing out of his enthusiasm like it was a pair of white robes that had been covered with Bantha poop. "What if I can't find these friends today, Master?"
"Then your social life is doomed, and you'll forever be an outcast among your classmates." Actually, that sounded kind of mean. That was the sort of thing that Qui-Gon would say to him, and he didn't want to be like Qui-Gon; he just wanted to pass along all of his advice. So he did his best to soften it by adding, "Of course, I'm just telling you what I learned from my master. And he might have been wrong."
"No way!" Anakin's sleep-mussed blond hair blew out of its normal bowl shape as he vehemently shook his head. "Master Qui-Gon couldn't do anything wrong. I'll have to make sure that I make all the friends I need today."
"You do that, Anakin." Maybe now that he'd done that whole "Mastering" thing he could get some sleep. "You'll need energy to be so social, Anakin. Why don't you head back to bed and—"
"I can't go back to bed now!" Anakin stuck out his lower lip and looked at Obi-Wan, his eyes larger than they ought to have been. "I'm scared that I'll fail. Can you talk me through it?"
Obi-Wan sighed and closed his eyes, forever cursing Qui-Gon for his death. "Okay, Anakin. We can talk."
a/n: So. It's been over three years since I started this. The idea that people are still reading this, after that long and through all of my erratic updates, despite the chapters in the beginning that even I don't find funny anymore-it's flattering, there's no other way to put it. And I appreciate it way more than I can say in a brief note like this.