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TITLE: Division of Forces
AUTHOR: Joanne
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, never will be.
DISTROBUTION: Want. Take. Have. Just leave me the URL.
RATING: At the moment, PG, but likely will go up.
SUMMARY: Obi-Wan is sent off on a mission without Anakin.
A/N: Just for the sake of removing the Padme-factor in the easiest way possible, this fic is set a bit before AotC.

Part I

Anakin could still remember the the first heavy rainstorm he'd witnessed. It was roughly a month after Obi-Wan had begun instructing him in the ways of the Force. Even with all of the new knowledge he had gained since leaving Tatooine, Anakin had still been awed by the sight of so much rain pouring down from the heavens. His failure to heed Obi-Wan's warning to stay indoors had left him sick for much of the following week.

Still, nearly ten years later, Anakin found it impossible to remain indoors when the clouds unleashed such a torrent. He stood on the balcony that opened from the common room in their quarters, his right hand held out from under the protective overhang so that the rain spattered onto his fingertips. The rain beaded against his skin, pooling in the indentations between his fingers.

Bringing his hand back under the awning, Anakin shook the moisture from the limb before removing his outer robes. Glancing over his shoulder even though he knew the room to be empty, Anakin stepped fully into the rain. He tilted his head back, eyes closed and allowed the rain to soak into him. The two tunics that he wore received the brunt of the rain's effects, the linen fabric offering little protection. Had it not been for the speeders and other personal crafts zooming past the balcony he would have shed all his clothes in order to feel the rain more completely.

Had he seen him, Obi-Wan would have no doubt laughed at him. His master had always found his fascination with water amusing. Obi-Wan was an indulgent mentor, though. When Anakin was fourteen, Obi-Wan had taken him to one of the moons of of Endor. This moon was riddled with rivers and waterfalls, an unexpected treat for a boy who had grown up on a desert planet. They had been unable to stay as long as Anakin would have liked, but the memory remained vivid during the years that had passed.

"I thought we had come to the agreement that standing in the rain was decidedly harmful to an individual's health. Yours in particular."

Anakin grimaced at the sound of Obi-Wan's voice. He had been so caught up in his memories that he had not paid any attention to what was happening around him. He should have sensed, if not physically heard, his master's return to their shared quarters.

Turning slowly, Anakin met Obi-Wan's gaze briefly before bowing his head. "I sought to clear my mind, release any negative thoughts in my subconscious."

"A noble intention," Obi-Wan conceded, the corners of his lips curving upwards ever so slightly. "I would suggest in the future, though, that you seek such meditations in the fresher. There you will at least be able to control the temperature of the water. Come now, back indoors."

With one final glance skyward, Anakin reluctantly stepped back into the building. Obi-Wan ushered him immediately towards the fresher, ordering him to removed his soaked clothes while he began to pat the younger man dry with a fresh towel. This last act was done in silence. Whatever his master's intentions were, Anakin could not sense. Anakin meanwhile allowed himself a small measure of comfort as Obi-Wan smoothed the towel over his body, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He reveled in every touch, which seemed to be a caress.

"You, my young padawan, will one day be the death of me," Obi-Wan said lightly as he rose to his full height which, over the past year, had become shorter than Anakin's own. "Now go put on some dry clothes while I prepare you something hot to drink."

Anakin did as he was instructed without secondthought. Entering his own sleeping quarters he dressed in a pair of dark brown trousers and a loose, black tunic. His feet he left bare, preferring to feel of the ground beneath his soles. He felt far more grounded barefoot, linking him to the world around him not only through the Force, but through physical contact as well.

As he emerged into the common area a short while later, Obi-Wan was already seated on the sofa. Anakin himself felt oddly subdued as he padded across the room, stopping near the arm of the sofa opposite from where his master sat. His hesitation was long enough for Obi-Wan to notice and look up. Before their eyes had a chance to meet, Anakin scurried around the arm of the sofa, stepping one foot onto the cushion nearest his end, swinging the rest of his body up so that he sat cross-legged. It surprised him that with this position he faced Obi-Wan fully for he had meant to face away from the older man.

"Much better, Anakin," Obi-Wan murmured, handing over one of the steaming mugs in his hands. "It has been some time since you partook in that particular activity."

Anakin stared down into the mug he held in his lap. "You had been stranded on that system in the Outer Rim and no one could get in contact with you. The Council feared the worst."

"When in fact it had simply been my own less than exemplar piloting skills that led to the whole mishap," Obi-Wan admitted, his lips quirking slightly. "I believe that is how you managed to convince the Council that you should be allowed to upgrade my arfour unit with all of those after market alterations. I have not crashed a starfighter or personal shuttle since. Which begs the question of what it is that is troubling you this time."

"I do not care much for this new mission you have been given," Anakin admitted, pursing his lips.

Obi-Wan twisted his upper body so that he faced the younger man more fully. Then he lifted his left hand, touching it to Anakin's temple. Anakin leaned immediately into the touch, savouring the wash of comfort that it filled him with. He focused on the feel of his master's fingertips which did not stray far from his temple, venturing briefly into his short-cropped hair for a moment before returning to their earlier location.

"It will only be for a few days, Anakin. Not even a full week," Obi-Wan reminded him, not withdrawing his hand as Anakin tilted his head into the Jedi's palm. "I had thought you would rejoice from the reprieve you have been given from my constant supervision."

"The Council's orders are too contradictory. They say that I may not accompany you because it is too dangerous, yet they send you alone. If something should go wrong you could be killed or captured before the Council even knew about it." Anakin turned his face fully into Obi-Wan's palm so that the older man would not see the tears glittering in his eyes. "They should not endanger you so."

Obi-Wan shifted about slightly and then Anakin felt the mug being extracted from his hands. Even as Obi-Wan moved to set the mug aside he did not remove his hand from Anakin's cheek, something which greatly comforted the younger man. Obi-Wan fanned his fingers across Anakin's still exposed cheek, thumb ghosting over the upper swell of his cheekbone.

"You worry needlessly, Anakin. I have been to this system before and have friends there," his master assured him as he carefully nudged Anakin's head back around to face him.

Anakin blinked repeatedly to hide his tears before meeting Obi-Wan's gaze. "If it is so safe why am I not permitted to accompany you? I am your padawan learner and I can hardly be expected to learn if I am stuck here on Coruscant."

Obi-Wan's eyes twinkled with amusement that immediately helped to soothe his nerves. "You are, as you so delicately put it, 'stuck here' because of your penchant for finding trouble where none otherwise exists."

"Oh."

"Precisely," Obi-Wan grinned, allowing his right arm to fall away. His left hand remained where it was and he leaned his elbow against the back of the sofa to support it. "Matters are somewhat delicate at the moment and both the Council and the Senate would prefer it if we could refrain from more aggressive negotiations for the time being."

While he understood the Council's logic, Anakin didn't agree with it. He would not agree to anything that left Obi-Wan trapped on an alien planet with no back-up. If anything should go wrong on the mission, Obi-Wan could be in serious trouble before any aid the Council could send would arrive. Imprisonment, torture, death; all of those were practically guarantees that the Council was ensuring by sending Obi-Wan to the Ranth'fer system alone.

"You could tell the Council that you were unaware that I had hidden myself on your shuttle," Anakin suggested, staring up at his master hopefully.

Obi-Wan smiled at him fondly, but still shook his head. "I cannot allow it, Anakin, and you know it. The Council has made its decision and it is not for us to question it."

Though he still felt the need to argue, Anakin remained silent. There was no point to it. Obi-Wan would follow the Council's directives above all else. And while Anakin respected his master for his utter faith in his beliefs, it was at times utterly frustrating. Anakin couldn't do that. Like Obi-Wan he believed in the philosophies of the Order, but he couldn't follow them as steadfastly as his master. After ten years it was unlikely that he ever would.

"Do not think for one moment that I believe you have given up so easily," Obi-Wan chided, leaning back to retrieve the mugs of tea. "You are far too tenacious, my young padawan."

"You are my master. It is natural that I should be concerned for you."

Obi-Wan nodded his head slightly and took a minute sip of his tea. "So I see that it is my sentiments you will play against. How very underhanded of you."

Anakin's smile was unrepentant even if it didn't entirely reach his eyes. "I am only doing as I myself was taught, master. Was it not you who used such tactics to reveal to me the truth of Palpatine's intentions?"

"I merely appealed to your better judgment," Obi-Wan amended, his lips tilted up in a slight smile. "I was most relieved to find some of it remaining."

Anakin scowled, but did not retaliate verbally. He was content at the moment to enjoy Obi-Wan's presence for as long as it would be allowed. For Anakin to simply be near his master was a soothing balm to his soul. It had been so for many years. There had been many nights those first few months on Coruscant that Anakin had been woken by nightmares. Those nights, once he had woken, Anakin had climbed into Obi-Wan's bed where he'd sleep peacefully until dawn. Even when he was older, Obi-Wan would not turn him away.

That night was no exception. The exception was that he did not even attempt to sleep in his own bed. He followed Obi-Wan into his sleeping quarters, hovering near the door until his master noticed him. For a time, Obi-Wan didn't say a word as he stripped out of his clothing, donning a pair of loose sleep pants.

"You do not intend to sleep fully dressed, do you?"

Anakin released a shuddering breath, dispelling his fears into the Force. He could not manage to rid himself of all his fears, though. Not with Obi-Wan still intending to leave come morning. He could not help but fear for his master.

"You worry too much, Anakin," Obi-Wan murmured against his temple as he drew the younger man into his arms. "It is not for a Jedi to worry so over matters that are not within their control."

"It would be within my control if the Council would allow me to accompany you to Ranth'fer," Anakin protested as he attempted to mold his body to Obi-Wan's.

"This is likely a test for you. It is the Council's way of seeing whether you will obey orders that are not necessarily to your liking," Obi-Wan offered, sinking his fingers into Anakin's hair. "It is a test we all must endure at some point during our times as padawans. As you can well imagine, mine involved a great deal of flying."

Anakin allowed himself a brief smile. He had never been able to comprehend how a being who had traveled the galaxy as extensively as his master could be so nervous about flying. Anakin suspected that there had been some type of crash or accident when Obi-Wan had been younger; some mishap that had created his master's well documented phobia.

Lying wrapped in Obi-Wan's arms, Anakin began to feel much more relaxed. The uneasy humming that had been buzzing in the back of his mind faded almost to non-existence. As he hadn't wanted to leave Obi-Wan for the time it would take to go to his own room, Anakin wore a pair of sleep pants borrowed from the older man. The bed they lay in was no different than the single bed in Anakin's own room. Jedi were not meant to form attachments so there was no need to give Obi-Wan a larger bed. Anakin was glad that the bed was small as it gave him an excuse to lie so close to Obi-Wan that they were pressed together from shoulders to knees, their legs entwined.

And though he had stopped wishing for things long ago, Anakin pleaded with the Force to keep his master safe on his mission to Ranth'fer.

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