The first time that Anakin has a nightmare about his mother, he and Obi-wan are coming home from an assignment. The assignment was nothing more than a simple negotiation between two disagreeing tribes on a small, sparsely populated world. In all honesty, it hardly even warranted Jedi attention--it certainly wasn't the sort of mission that should have given Anakin nightmares, and even if it had been, he can't fathom why it would give him nightmares about his mother.

Anakin wakes, sweaty and gasping for breath, in the cabin that he's sharing with Obi-Wan. The room isn't large at all—big enough only for their two bunks and a small table with two chairs—and so when he hears Obi-Wan stir in the other bunk, he can't say that he's surprised his master heard him.

Obi-Wan can't have missed that he's awake. He knows. A Jedi of his caliber won't have missed something so obvious, and with that in mind, Anakin waits. Seconds slip by, seeming longer with each that passes, and in the dragging silence he's surprised to find that he actually wants Obi-Wan to take an interest. Lately, he's been wishing that his master would make more of an effort to stay out of his business, but this—this is something entirely different. This matter is something far more phantasmal. He can't fight this off like he can the tangible things in everyday life, and that scares him in a way that eats down inside of him and erodes his confidence.

In this matter, at least, he still needs his master. For what, exactly, he's not sure, but there's something inside of him that wishes for Obi-Wan's attention when it comes to this new and troubling turn of events. A listening ear, perhaps, or maybe just someone to tell him it will all be fine.

"Anakin?" Obi-Wan finally asks, his voice as smooth and cultured as when he's fully awake. That's Obi-Wan: never seeming shaken, even if he's caught off-guard. "Are you all right?"

"I..." He thinks about lying, just for a moment, but Obi-Wan will know, and it's really altogether pointless. "Not really."

Silence. For the space of a few heartbeats, Anakin is sure Obi-Wan isn't even going to respond, and the thought hurts him more than he cares to admit. But instead of the silence he fears, he's answered with the soft rustle of bed sheets and then the sound of bare feet on the floor. Before he's really even processed what's happening, Obi-Wan is pulling one of the chairs up next to his bed and taking a seat.

"What's wrong?" he murmurs quietly.

Anakin wishes he could see his face. Obi-Wan doesn't sound annoyed at being woken, but that doesn't necessarily mean—

"Anakin, I can sense your tension. Tell me what's wrong."

"I'm sorry for waking you, Master—"

A soft sigh drifts through the dark. "It's fine, Padawan. We're going home for a few days anyway. I'll have more than enough of a chance to rest then, which means that right now I have plenty of time to discuss what's troubling you."

Anakin can almost see the smile on his master's face, even in the darkness of the room. At the very least, he can hear in his tone the traces of the emotions that cause that smile, and it allows him to begin to relax. It's unusual to have Obi-Wan's full focus on him like this, and he's surprised to realize that he sort of likes it—at least, he likes it when Obi-Wan is acting like this. There are no reprimands or lectures, just a willingness to listen, and he finds himself wishing Obi-Wan would give him this a little more often. Of course, to be fair Anakin knows that he very seldom asks for this kind of attention and sometimes even rebuffs it when it's given.

"Just a nightmare," he finally answers.

"Just? It sounded like far more than that."

"I—it was about my mother."

Obi-Wan sighs again, and Anakin knows that he's probably thinking about attachment. Thankfully, he doesn't put voice to that thought. "What happened in your dream?"

"She... was being hurt. The Tusken raiders—they were torturing her—and she was crying—crying for me. It felt so real. I'm afraid it wasn't just a dream."

"There is no reason to think it was anything more, Anakin," Obi-Wan replies gently, with such certainty that Anakin feels himself calming, if only marginally. Faintly, he is reminded of the times when he was younger and still believed that Obi-Wan could make just about anything better. Looking back, he finds it ironic that even if he and his master had a good many rough spots in their relationship, he always trusted him to fix things.

"What if it wasn't? What if she's really being hurt? What if she needs me...?" His voice catches on the last few words, and he's beginning to be glad that the lights are out, because he's pretty sure he can feel tears pricking at his eyes.

"You must trust in the Force."

Just like that, all the affection Anakin is feeling for his master vanishes.

The Force. Obi-Wan has no idea, and it's beyond annoying that a cliché like that is the only answer he'll give. Anakin doesn't want to hear about the Force right now. He knows he should—knows that's what a good Jedi would want to hear—but there's a part of him that fears the will of the Force, because what if that will is ultimately something he doesn't like? What if the eventual will of the Force is for his mother to die? Right now, he'd prefer to see his own will accomplished… but he knows he can't tell Obi-Wan that.

"I know, Master."

Obi-Wan clearly senses the clipped annoyance in his voice, because he says nothing more for a few moments. When he does finally speak again, his voice is heavy with the undercurrents of sympathy. "I know you're worried for her, Anakin."

Yes, he is, and he can feel the tears beginning to trickle down his face at the mere thought. He hates himself for it, because he's too old to be crying and, more importantly, he doesn't want his master to know he's this weak. "I—just—I just want to know that she's all right."

When Anakin hears the scrape of the chair on the floor, he squeezes his eyes shut and tries not to be hurt by the fact that his master is going back to bed. Almost before he starts, he fails. The idea of his master leaving him now does hurts, because he doesn't want Obi-Wan to leave him. He wants him to, just this once, throw aside that Jedi self-control and tell Anakin that he cares. Anakin wants to know with absolute certainty that he means something to Obi-Wan.

It's a complete surprise when the blankets tighten over him; it takes him a moment to figure out that it's Obi-Wan's weight that's pulling them down. He's settled himself on the edge of Anakin's bunk. "I know," he says simply, laying a hand on Anakin's arm. "I know, Ani."

"How could you?"

"I may not have known my mother, but I know what it's like to hold the closest thing I had to a father as he dies. I know what it's like to want nothing more than to save him. Unfortunately, Anakin, sometimes it's just not possible."

"You're saying I should let my mother die?"

"I'm saying that you should give that up to the Force."

"I don't want to hear anything more about the Force."

Fuming, Anakin turns over in his bunk. Sometimes, he hates the Force. Occasionally, he even hates Obi-Wan. Why can't he ever just say the things Anakin wants to hear? Just once, couldn't he put aside Jedi logic? Why can't he just tell him it's all going to be fine?

"I'd be doing you a disservice if I told you anything else, Padawan."

It irritating that Obi-Wan knows him well enough to know what he's thinking.

"Leave me alone," he snaps, letting his annoyance boil over. Release it to the Force, Obi-Wan would say. Release your anger.

Yeah, he'll do that just as soon as Obi-Wan stops being a sanctimonious, Jedi platitude-spouting fool.

"That's not what you really want. What you really want is for me to tell you that everything is going to be all right. Then, you want me to fix things so that everything is all right." Obi-Wan's touch on his shoulder tightens, and he rolls Anakin over so that he's lying on his back. Anakin doesn't bother to fight that; suddenly, he's just too worn out and frustrated to make the effort.

"If I could make things better, Anakin, you know I would. Unfortunately, things like this aren't as easy to fix as a harsh reprimand from one of your schoolmasters or a fight with a fellow Padawan over who's more skilled with a lightsaber. I'm afraid that the days of me being able to satisfactorily solve all your problems are just about over."

Yes, they are... and Anakin misses them already. "You don't really believe these are just simple dreams, do you?"

"I don't presume to know," Obi-Wan replies tiredly. He slowly disengages his touch from the shoulder he's holding, and then surprises Anakin by slipping down to lay on his back in the bed. "But I do know that with you, things are seldom simple. Whether this is a dream or something more doesn't matter—it's still affecting you."

That's... somewhat of a shock. Obi-Wan never comes so close to outright saying that he cares about something just because it's affecting Anakin. He isn't good at spelling out what he's feeling and, for Anakin, that's difficult to deal with. His mother always said what she was thinking, but Obi-Wan's feelings only ever show up in his actions—the two parental figures in his life have such different ways of dealing with emotions, and the discrepancies between their styles have always left Anakin somewhat confused. Times like these, when Obi-Wan says what he's feeling—they're rare.

Anakin wishes they were a little more common.

There's an odd comfort in lying shoulder to shoulder with Obi-Wan like this. He likes that contact with his master. When they're like this—when Anakin knows that Obi-Wan is giving him his full attention, even if he isn't speaking—the silence seems more bearable.

For a few minutes, neither of them speaks. When the silence is finally broken, it's Obi-Wan's doing. "I can't promise you that I can fix this," he tells Anakin slowly, "but I can promise you one thing."

A promise from his master is dependable. Obi-Wan keeps his word, and that knowledge alone is enough to make Anakin take very seriously whatever Obi-Wan is about to say. "And what is that?"

"I might not be able to fix all of your problems anymore, Anakin, but I can promise that I'll be there with you through them. I'll help you find an answer, and if an answer can't be found, I'll stay with you anyway."

It's what he needed to hear. Just something so simple, but still comforting, and in the dark, Anakin smiles. He doesn't think he can ask anything more from his master and, somehow, he's content with just this anyway.

Suddenly, his nightmares seem a little more manageable.