Author's Note: my first Obi/Ani one-shot! Not slash, I'm afraid. Can be read as a companion to Freefall and Gravity, or can stand alone.

Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to George Lucas, and I am not making any profit from this work of fanfiction.

Whatever Haunts Your Dreams

I watch you sleeping, and something softens inside -- something that, in a Jedi night, should always hold firm.

I can't help it. You look so different when you're sleeping -- the fierceness in your eyes is gone, hooded by slumber, and the tension that always holds you coiled like a spring is relaxed, the tautness in your face eased so that you look, just for a little while, like an innocent.

Maybe you are an innocent. There is something in you that believes passionately in the essential rightness of the universe, that truth and justice are not only real but attainable, that you can fix anything if only you try.

You believe in trying, even if Master Yoda doesn't. And sometimes, watching you, I almost believe it, too.

You don't believe in darkness. Oh, you know it's real. But you believe it can be defeated by will alone, as if your determination were enough to make the universe the haven of peace and justice you've always wanted it to be.

Is this the legacy of Tatooine? I wonder. Did all the meanness and suffering you saw as a child forge in you this determination to change the universe: to fix the galaxy, the way you fix broken droids and broken hearts and the loneliness and loss around you? Did it make you who you are?

A shadow crosses your face, and my heart contracts painfully in my chest. Even in your dreams, you get no rest: another gift from Tatooine, I suspect. You've never mentioned the thin, faded scars on your back, and I have pretended, because you seemed not to want to remember, that I don't see them anymore. But because I am a Jedi in an ugly galaxy, I know what the trace of a whip-weal looks like, years after the blood has dried and the skin has healed. The marks fade each year; they are almost invisible now.

Those are just the marks I can see.

You stir in your sleep, a low whimper of pain or fear escaping your lips, and I wince, because I know I can't wake you. I learned long ago not to wake you: you were so afraid for me to know what you felt, it was like a trespass on your soul. So I turn away, and leave you to whatever darkness haunts your dreams, the small moment of peace broken.

In a few minutes, you'll wake up, panting and choked with fear, and you won't go back to sleep for the rest of your night. In the morning, the circles under your eyes will be dark, and I will bite my tongue rather than point it out, yet again. You'll push yourself harder than usual, trying to defeat your dreams, and then you'll go back to bed to do it all again.

The other masters talk about how reckless you are, in a fight or any kind of vehicle. They don't understand that after your dreams, nothing else can ever scare you.

The bravest thing you do is dream.