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Title: Watching
Author: Jennifer, twolettersapart@yahoo.com
Rating: PG for absolutely nothing at all graphic except two men lying next to each other in a bed. Scandal! The slash is subtle.
Archive/Distribution: Go ahead and archive. If you want to distribute, ask please. I'll say yes, I just like knowing where it's going.
Spoilers: AotC and something really, really mild for RotS.
Disclaimer: If I owned them, I'd be rich but since I'm not, I don't. George Lucas owns all.
Author's Notes: It's in a bunch of little segments that jump time but stay pretty linear from before AotC to before RotS. It's the first SW fic I've ever written and as such, I feel like I struggled both with cannon and characterization (despite there being no dialogue) so feedback on that aspect would be very helpful.
Summary: Obi-Wan watches.

*****

He watches.

In their cool quarters, night after night, Obi-Wan watches the young man, grown from the boy he once knew, underneath layers of blankets that he'd wrapped around himself in a desperate attempt to retain heat. He had always craved a warmth that was unobtainable. Obi-Wan suspected it was a remaining shadow of his youth on Tatooine and, though the dust had long been washed away, the sun and heat remained somewhere deeper inside of Anakin.

He remembers that Anakin was cold the first nights here, away from his mother, away from his home. He'd held the boy those first nights, trying to bring some warmth to him, to make the shivering stop and it had, for a time. Until the night years before when, unspoken between them, Anakin had stopped wandering into Obi-Wan's room in search of some kind of comfort. Now he stayed alone, buried under blankets. The attempt to obtain this comfort was never desperate, just constantly present. Never overwhelming, it was just there every evening.

Since he stopped coming, Obi-Wan has gone to him. Standing in the doorway, the way he does every night, he just watches, guarding even though there is nothing in these moments about his apprentice that needs protecting. If Anakin is aware that Obi-Wan watches from that spot every evening, a silent understanding between them had kept the topic from conversation. He suspects that the young man knows if only because his senses are finely tuned to Obi-Wan's presence. Still, he's thankful that he has never been forced to explain himself. He's not sure how he would.

Anakin draws the blankets around him in his sleep, clutching at them with hands rough from his training. There is a shiver of limbs; before he knows what he is doing, Obi-Wan is standing only inches from the bed, looking a place beside Anakin that is empty, that would fit his body. A place from which he could make the shivering stop. He shouldn't. A path of temptation is one that he should never walk if he can avoid it. When did his Padawan become temptation? He's not sure anymore.

Obi-Wan returns to his quarters with reluctance in every footstep. This evening, they feel extraordinarily cold.

****

He watches from across the hallway.

His glance meets Anakin's from a distance but the young man has only a nod to send in his direction. He is sitting with Palpatine, the two of them hunched over together in quiet conversation, the topic of which Obi-Wan has no idea except that Anakin is smiling. He theorizes that it's praise; the type the Chancellor heaps upon him during every given opportunity. Anakin's pride keeps him seated, listening and bowing his head to hide the pleased expression on his face that would betray his emotions.

The chancellor touches Anakin's shoulder and something twists in Obi-Wan's gut, down in the deep part of his belly where fear and anger and things that are to be unknown to Jedi reside in brief traces that he refuses to touch. The swell there makes him expel a harsh breath but he cannot or will not turn away.

He pushes those feelings down and averts his eyes for a moment until the ring of Anakin's laughter draws him back to the young Jedi and the Chancellor. Palpatine's hand has migrated from his shoulder to his back, making the knot in Obi-Wan's stomach tighten. Something about Anakin changes in the presence of Palpatine and though he has never been able to put his finger on the exact shift, he just knows that he doesn't like it. He's almost grateful when he is summoned away but one last turn of his head back in Anakin's direction allows him a fleeting glance at the smile that the Chancellor has put there.

He shouldn't be bothered and yet, he is. And yet. It's merely because he doesn't entirely trust the Chancellor, he reminds himself. No other reason.

****

He is watching again.

This time, it's accidental when he finds Anakin in the meditation chambers. It surprises him, knowing that as a boy, Anakin was never one to sit still long enough for such activities but as he has pushed into adulthood, there has been a change, albeit a subtle one that never struck Obi-Wan until this moment when he finds his apprentice in the chambers without coaxing, without orders to be there.

With his legs crossed and his hand pressed firmly against his knees, the young Jedi's eyes are closed and he is unaware of Obi-Wan's presence, at least seemingly. Obi-Wan is never sure of what Anakin knows and what he does not; even in the years of his tutelage and the span of their friendship, the young Skywalker has always remained something of an enigma. Something is bothering Anakin if he is here but he knows that even as his Master, Anakin will most likely never disclose the secret of what goes on behind those eyes. His expression is troubled, deep in his own mind in a place where Obi-Wan can never follow. Obi-Wan suspects that it's the dreams again. The images of his mother that haunt him at night have been getting worse but the details are never shared between them. Anakin keeps those closely guarded.

He's been worried.

But when Anakin comes out of his trance and opens his eyes to meet Obi-Wan's gaze, he smiles. And for some reason, that's enough to make the worry disappear, if only for a moment in a gentle smile.

****

He watches with a lump in his throat.

Anakin is tracing the wound at his eye with the tips of his fingertips. He doesn't know that he's doing it. His attention is elsewhere, staring out the window, deep in thoughts where Obi-Wan cannot follow. The young man's expression is troubled but he doesn't ask, knowing that he will not receive an answer. So instead, he watches Anakin's fingers trace the jagged line that crosses from forehead to cheek.

It's just a scar. They all have them, Obi-Wan reminds himself, but one thought invades his mind, no matter how much he tries to banish it: they all don't have a face like Anakin Skywalker's.

****

His ears still ring from the explosions and blasts of the day, but he still watches.

There is a peace in it as war rages on around them. The constant fighting to win the day has taken away almost all of the tiny pleasures of life, but not this one.

Anakin's breathing is slow and shallow in his sleep. It's the way that it always sounded and there is comfort in that. Something has changed about him; something that is not the war or the hardships but instead, something greater and deeper. There is an expression in his eyes that never was there before but for the moment, it is hidden and Obi-Wan is grateful for that. For now, the young man that he has cared for and loved for years is resting peacefully with nothing haunting in his gaze.

He should be resting, too. The day was long and the battle hard. He knows there will be another like it tomorrow and the day after until an ending that he cannot possibly foresee.

Anakin moves and the thoughts of leaving, of returning to his make-shift quarters vanish from his mind. There is a flash of metal when his robotic hand, flailed in his sleep, reflects the light from one of the control panels. He should have spared Anakin that, but he could not. Sometimes, he sees Anakin flexing the robotic hand as though trying to find feeling again, trying to draw something from nothing. He often sleeps with it above the covers, away from his body and its heat because that hand will never get warm.

Obi-Wan rests his back against the wall, his gaze fixed on the metal hand. He tells himself again that he should be resting, preparing. He has almost convinced himself to move, to leave when Anakin stirs, his peaceful sleep becoming fitful. He's dreaming again.

It doesn't surprise Obi-Wan when a muffled groan escapes Anakin's lips carrying the cry for his mother. They are Jedis, not meant to mourn but Anakin does. After his own loss of Qui-Gon, he did his best to follow the code and not ache for his loss but he knows that he failed and that failure is tempered only by the knowledge that he had wanted to adhere to the teachings and that he had tried. Anakin never tries. He simply feels and Obi-Wan knows that nothing good can come of that. Nothing good can come of these dreams or the way that a once peaceful sleep is disturbed by the shifting of limbs in desperation.

Nothing good comes of it, he reminds himself, and that is the reasoning he uses as he approaches, pulling the blankets away so that he can rest his body beside that of his student. Anakin stirs with the movement on the bed, his eyelashes fluttering open for just a moment until he senses his companion and allows himself back to sleep. Obi-Wan is thankful. He's not sure how he would explain a hope that his presence and maybe his warmth would be enough to make the nightmares go away, to bring peace to a battle-weary mind. He is absolutely unsure of how he would explain the other part of why he wants to be here.

The cool night air exposed on Anakin's skin by Obi-Wan's arrival forces a shiver through the young man. Acting on instinct and maybe something more, Obi-Wan's arms are immediately around him, allowing him to draw on his warmth until the shivering stops.

They look awkward, Obi-Wan's smaller frame wrapping around his student. Anakin's head is pressed against Obi-Wan's chest to allow the pounding of the Jedi's heart to lull the young man to sleep. It does and Anakin is peaceful again as the dreams that were plaguing him seem to have vanished with the touch of a warm hand. His features are relaxed now, the corners of his mouth not quite turned into a smile but still something that Obi-Wan finds inherently pleasing in the darkness.

He strokes Anakin's hair for a moment before he forces his hand to stop, fearing that he has stepped over some impossibly invisible line that has always had to exist between them. He stops, focusing on warm skin, closed eyes and that same breathing that has been there since boyhood.

It's not enough, but it has to be.

Anakin sleeps. Obi-Wan just watches.

****

The End

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