If you pick up the pieces,
I'll put them together,
Only time can be the glue,
Only time will let them dry.
Only you and me inside my head,
Time and time again.
These talks turn to stone
And when they dry we will be ready!
Only time can keep your heard steady
On beat, on beat.
We've been searching the sky for answers,
Look to the stars so that I feel small
And my problems don't seem so big…
Searching the Sky for Answers - Playradioplay
Obi-Wan taught Anakin that he was accepted.
"Extraordinarily well done, Padawan!"
A small and a taller body slumped down on a bench, both completely out of breath. Nevertheless, both Jedi were grinning happily – Anakin because of the received praise and the excitement of wielding a real lightsaber, Obi-Wan because of the impressive proof of talent his young ward had once again displayed. It seemed as if the basic steps and stances of the first Katas were natural to Anakin, his balance was impeccable, his shielding instinctively right. Sure, there were missteps and overly-enthusiastic movements, and they had started practicing with Anakin's strong right hand, but for a first-timer, Anakin was once again the most promising student Obi-Wan had ever met.
Somehow, the ease with which Anakin seemed to manage everything was starting to worry his Master. He had never been taught the alphabet – and one day after starting to learn, he already wrote short letters. He had never been sitting in the cockpit of a starship, and had effortlessly left battle-tried pilots behind. He had never known about the Force, but his grasp on it was so instinctive as if he had been trained since crawling stage.
The boy hadn't had much contact to his fellow Initiates, he was only sitting in lessons with them, and the knowledge to be gained here he had to revise like everyone else – more than that, he had to catch up on several years of intense lessons. And until now, he was excluded from fighting classes, everyone had thought it best to let him make his first steps alone without a mob of over-eager Jedi students around him. But there would come the time when Anakin had to vie with the others, and they would soon notice his talent, his easy ability to learn things he was interested in, his innate comprehension and grasp of the Force – and then jealousy would be bound to arise. Already, Obi-Wan heard the whispers on the corridors, about the magically talented Chosen One who had been a slave for the most part of his life. His own Padawan time was not so far behind him that he couldn't remember the fierce desire to prove himself, to be the best, and to finally win a Master's affection and faith. There were many Initiates that were far older than Anakin who had to fear for a chance to become a Jedi, who were faced with the very realistic possibility of being shunted and forgotten on some AgriCorps station in the galactic nowhere. Anakin had not had to compete for a place under a Master's wings – in truth, there had been even two men, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan himself, who had been willing to train him - other Padawans would give several fingers for being in this situation. And although none of this was Anakin's fault, he would pay the price for it – and he already did.
The boy didn't speak much about his time at lessons, but from what he could gather, Obi-Wan reckoned that he hadn't been able to make friends yet. The other students had grown up together, had known each other for their whole life, and Anakin was as alien to them as anyone could be. Their sheltered upbringing collided with his harsh slave life. Their ignorance about their backgrounds and heritage was met with Anakin's yearning for his mother. Their meticulous training clashed with Anakin's raw potential and uncut talent – Obi-Wan feared for his young ward's well-being, and for the effects on his character this complicated situation could have.
But right now, it seemed almost ridiculous to be worried about anything. Anakin had showed an impressing performance, Obi-Wan had found great pleasure in teaching the movements that had been second nature to him for decades. And, he thought with a slight surge of pride, he had shown the whole Temple that the crazy Kenobi was more than just a wayward kid who only wanted to have his way with the young, hopeless slaveboy, more than just someone who had managed a lucky strike against a maybe-or-maybe-not-Sith. He knew that he had been blessed with incredible luck fighting this unknown power on Naboo, luck his Master had not been granted. But he also started to see his own share in influencing fate in the fight – he no longer was a clumsy, oafy Padawan, he was a fully-trained Jedi Knight, a Master – and no bad one in that, a fact that was proven by the head of a small, honey-blonde boy that had sleepily sunk against his shoulder.
Smiling slightly, he gently nudged his young protégé.
"Get up, Anakin – before we can get a little rest, we need to go back to our rooms – and first, take a shower. You will catch a cold running around sweaty like that!"
With these words, Obi-Wan got on his feet and started walking towards the changing rooms – leaving a suddenly very wide awake Anakin behind. Basically, he very much liked taking a shower. On Tatooine, he had washed himself with a towel and as little water as possible, for it was a valuable good on a desert planet. So when his Master had shown him the luxuries of showers and faucets and water that just came from out of the walls, he had had great fun ducking his head under the lush stream, feeling the soft, pleasant feeling of being truly cleansed by the warm rivulets flowing down his slight frame. But that was in the secure little bathroom he shared with his Master in their quarters, where he had his privacy.
He jumped on his feet and run after Obi-Wan, who had not yet noticed his Padawan's loitering, a sinking feeling in his stomach, that only intensified when they arrived at the shower room. There were no dividing walls, no small cubicles, no curtains, no…nothing he could inconspicuously dive behind, wash and be dressed before anyone would notice - just two rows of showers at each wall and white, immaculate tiles.
Obi-Wan, completely oblivious of his Padawan's anguish, was already halfway undressed and waved encouragingly to Anakin while turning on one shower on the right. Sure, the light in here was dim, but Anakin didn't want to imagine what his Master would say when seeing his bare skin. Involuntarily, he started to tremble – the image of Watto was once more vivid in his head. How furious he had been when he had seen Anakin's back, his arms, his tighs, he had called him damaged goods, no good for nothing, and then everything had started all over again, just worse, because Watto didn't need to be careful anymore – the damage was done. And Obi-Wan would think the same. How could he be a fighter for peace mauled like that? How could he become pure as a Jedi had to be when carrying such signs of darkness? How could he be a decent and adequate apprentice when he was that ugly? Obi-Wan would only need one look at him and all the nice things he had said and done wouldn't count anymore – he would send Anakin back to Tatooine, and Anakin would be a slave again and… It had been foolish to believe that Obi-Wan really liked him. Nobody really liked him, that was what Watto had always said, except his mother, and somehow she had to, right?
A sudden touch on his cheek made the boy jump. Obi-Wan crouched on eye-level in front of him, a towel slung around his hips, his face an image of concern. Anakin hadn't noticed his approach, neither had he been aware of the tears that had started leaking from his eyes. Instinctively, he jumped back and tried to dash away, he didn't want to see Obi-Wan's disgust and anger, but a strong hand caught him around his waist and held him back.
"Anakin, what's the matter? Did I say something wrong?"
Soft blue eyes gazed from under a dropping mop of ginger hair. Obi-Wan was soaking wet and wore nothing but the towel, but Anakin had nevertheless instinctively snuggled close to his chest – if he couldn't run away, he could at least try and enjoy the last peaceful moment.
"Come on, Ani, we need to get you out of those clothes! You're all sweaty and wet…!"
Strong hands were pulling at his tunics, and Anakin sobbed and fought…but it was too late. Obi-Wan had caught a glimpse of his back, and he could feel the man stiffen. Anakin closed his eyes, and waited, prepared for the worst.
Anakin carefully opened his eyes – and gazed in the face of an avenging angel. Immediately, he closed his eyes again and shuddered even more violently, a single word echoing in his head – over, over, over…
"Anakin." Obi-Wan's voice sounded hoarse. "Anakin…what have they done to you?"
Even if he had wanted, Anakin couldn't answer – he felt as if he would never be able to say anything again. But Obi-Wan wasn't stupid. In his years as a Jedi, he'd had more than just his share of the evil side of the galaxy, but it was something totally different if it had happened to someone he knew – someone he cared about – someone as innocent as his little Padawan learner. Anakin still sobbed and shivered, but he didn't move as Obi-Wan approached again and gently lifted off the boy's tunic, studied every scar and weal caused by whips and canes and sometimes by Watto's blunt hands. Bruises and wounds caused by objections and slowness and sometimes just because Watto had needed someone to vent his anger on. Marks and gashes that criss-crossed over the soft skin of a child, nothing more than an innocent child – Obi-Wan had rarely ever felt so powerless. He engulfed his little, shivering Padawan in a tender hug and whispered, just loud enough for Anakin to hear:
"I will never let anything like that happen to you again, my Padawan. Do you hear me? Never!"
Anakin was so surprised he found his voice again.
"But…you don't think I'm damaged goods? Am I still good enough to become a Jedi?"
"Anakin, there's only one thing that decides if you're good enough! It's your faith in yourself and in the things we fight for! No bad things from your past can take this away, only if you let them change you. No scars could make you lose your apprenticeship, we all do have scars!"
Obi-Wan stretched out his right arm and pointed on a curved red scar, interspersed with darker dots of torn flesh. It looked like the remnants of a cruel rope that had curled around him.
"There, I was hit by a thorned whip when I was fourteen…"
Then he turned slightly so that Anakin could see his surprisingly broad, slightly freckled shoulders, one of them marred by a pointed oval fleck.
"…here, someone shot at me with a Blaster and I wasn't quick enough to get out of the way…"
Now, he motioned for Anakin to look down at his bare feet, one of them shimmering slightly pinkish.
"…and that's from when I tripped into a fire on Stianon. Still itching sometimes."
Again, serious blue eyes met his.
"Anakin, I got most of these because I was reckless or unfocused – you got yours because you suffered great wrongs in your life. So you have even less reason for being ashamed about them – I certainly won't think any less of you. It rather shows the difficulties you managed to live through, without losing your spirit and wish to bring blessings to the Galaxy – and for that I am very proud of you."
Anakin made wide eyes. Suddenly, his own scars didn't seem to be any more ugly than the ones of his Master – and those weren't ugly at all, because they were signs of the bravery the man had shown, whatever he might say about recklessness.
Obi-Wan smiled as he watched Anakin nodding slightly and losening his shorts, too. It would be a long way until they both could forget what they had been – Anakin the young, mistreated slave boy, Obi-Wan the insecure, aloof young man, but every day, they learned so much from each other. And that was how a good Master-apprentice-relationship should be.
"Master?" A little voice jolted him from his musings. Anakin stood under the shower next to him, equally wet and spluttering a little as some foam trickled into his mouth.
"Will you tell me the stories of the whip and the fire and the blaster shot?"
Obi-Wan smiled a very big and very wet smile.
"I will, little one – when we're both well and dry at home with a cup of tea!"