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The food in the commissary isn't the most refined in the galaxy but the familiarity of it is rather comforting in times of stress. Obi-Wan's found himself missing it during long deployments, though that could just be because anything is preferable to field rations. He and Anakin are sitting in their now-usual spot in a corner of the room, backs to the wall with full unobstructed views of the room and the entrance. There's only a couple of senior Padawans and Jedi Knights scattered around the room, looking haggard and worn, sitting alone and eating mechanically. It's a far cry from how the commissary used to be—loud, boisterous with the laughter and chatter of over a hundred Jedi of all ages. The silence feels almost oppressive but he and Anakin have made a studied effort to ignore it, though they can't help keeping their voices lowered.

"Anakin, you've already tried that!" Obi-Wan protests when Anakin (blatantly) misuses the Force to levitate a piece of tauntaun meat off of Obi-Wan's plate and onto his fork.

"I know," Anakin says with a wide grin. "But I really like this." He makes a show of chewing it and moaning lowly in appreciation.

Obi-Wan flushes. He glances around furtively in case anyone's noticed but the others all seem lost in their own thoughts. "Then go get a full serving of it for yourself!" he hisses.

"I like it better when it's from your plate." He flashes him a cheeky grin.

Obi-Wan sighs and goes to pinch the bridge of his nose but then the door opens across the room and a gaggle of Initiates spill in, jabbering at each other. They catch sight of him and Anakin immediately and break out into even more excited chatter. He can make out "Master Kenobi" and "Knight Skywalker" among their words and sighs again. "Oh, no," he mutters when the group heads straight for them. It's not that he doesn't like the Initiates; he's just not very good with them. Anakin, though, basks in their curiosity and attention. Obi-Wan sneaks a glance at him and indeed, he's watching the group with a bright smile. There's a bit of wistfulness in his eyes and Obi-Wan knows that he's remembering Ahsoka. Obi-Wan feels a tinge of nostalgia himself and a bit of regret for how that situation had ended. Anakin had been a great Master for the Togruta; it was when Obi-Wan was watching the two of them together that he saw not just how great of a Jedi Anakin had become but how great of a person too.

"Master Kenobi!" the first of the younglings pipes up. "May we ask you a question?"

Obi-Wan bites back a grin at their proper manners and simply nods, gesturing for them to take the seats around them. The group scrambles to obey and Anakin stifles a snort next to him.

"Master Kenobi, we heard you rescued the Chancellor! Was it very dangerous?" the first youngling asks when they're all situated.

"Oh, well. I'm afraid I can't take the credit for that. I was hardly of any help whatsoever. Knight Skywalker here did all the, ah, heavy lifting, you can say," Obi-Wan murmurs, remembering coming to in the elevator shaft being carried by Anakin.

"Master Kenobi's being far too modest," Anakin breaks in. "It was his plan to begin with. I wouldn't have gotten very far without him."

"Would you like to hear about the mission?" Obi-Wan asks. He knows full well that that's why they've come over but he's willing to indulge them. It was a successful mission and hearing about one of those is always good for morale, even if it's just the barebones non-classified parts of the mission. The Initiates all nod eagerly. "Well, it started when we got a message from the Council that we were being recalled from the Outer Rim because the Chancellor had been taken...."

 


 

In the Room of a Thousand Fountains, they select one of the meditative areas that are hidden within a grove of trees and near one of the smaller waterfalls. The water burbles gently over rocks instead of crashing loudly down from a great height. Obi-Wan finds that quieter background noise helps him focus on the Force and he's always hopeful that tranquil environments will help Anakin feel settled though it's had limited effect thus far.

They kneel in the traditional meditative poses close to each other—near enough to be aware of the other's presence but not so close as to intrude upon the other's meditation. Obi-Wan takes a deep, slow breath in and then out. In again. Out again. In again and this time when he breathes out, he opens himself to the currents of the Force around him. He's always had more of an affinity for the Unifying Force but for now, he recalls the teachings of his former Master and looks to the Living Force for guidance.

This new level of relationship between he and Anakin—it worries him, it feels overly indulgent, but it also feels inevitable in a way. Like everything they had been through has been leading to this development. There's almost a sense of breathless, weighted expectancy around it, like the very fabric of the universe is waiting to see what they decide and will go down one path or another based on that decision. No. He wrenches his thoughts away from future possibilities and destiny and back to the present and, more pressingly, to the events of the previous night and that morning.

He combs through everything that happened, examines his feelings at every point, considers Anakin's and his own reactions and behaviors. His former padawan has always been prone to mood swings and extremes of temper; he swings from one end of the spectrum to the other like a pendulum and they last just as long. He doesn't know if this is simply a phase for Anakin, if he acted out of concern that he was losing Obi-Wan's affections but will revert back to his usual behavior when he's been reassured adequately of his importance to Obi-Wan and return to his affair with Senator Amidala. Obi-Wan snorts mentally, thinking of all the times Anakin had thought he was successfully sneaking around with the Senator behind Obi-Wan's back. He's a little disappointed in the Senator, actually. He'd have expected her to be able to be more subtle. But then again, it's impossible to completely curb Anakin's recklessness and the fact that they haven't been discovered by the public and made into the galaxy's latest fad yet is quite impressive. Obi-Wan changes his mind and lauds her for her strong will and level-headedness.

Obi-Wan is fairly sure that Anakin's going to tell him about the Senator later that night; he hopes so, anyway. If the two of them plan on continuing on like this, there can't be anymore secrets like that between them. If not, then they need to end this before it becomes dangerous to them both.

He's interrupted in his musings by a gentle tug on the Force bond he's shared with Anakin since his days as a Padawan learner. They'd both shielded their ends of the training bond once Anakin was Knighted and with time and disuse, it had faded to just the barest of threads. He's a little startled that Anakin is reaching out through it now. In all the years since his Knighting, neither one of them had used it to communicate with the other, even when it may have been easier for a mission. On his end, he's been determined to give Anakin complete privacy and freedom to think and feel without worry of possible censorship; he doesn't know what Anakin's reasons have been.

He lowers his shields enough to send a formless query at the other man and gets back a wordless desire for closeness. Obi-Wan sends back an agreement and drops his shields. Almost immediately, he senses Anakin using the Force to revitalize their old bond. He channels his own strength into it as well and can tell already that the bond is changing. When they had first formed it, Anakin was untrained so it was mostly grounded in Obi-Wan's Force ability. It was still stronger than that of other Master-Padawan pairs because of Anakin's innate Force sensitivity but it didn't draw on his power at all. Now, though - now Anakin is the driving Force of the bonding. Obi-Wan lets him decide how strong he wants the bond to be and simply matches whatever Anakin is putting in, to keep the bond balanced between the two of them.

He expects that Anakin will stop weaving the bond at the point where they can comfortably communicate images, thoughts, and feelings to each other and even share some of the other's strength so he's surprised when Anakin sends to him, I want to go deeper. He can sense that Anakin's paused in his bond making but feels hopeful that Obi-Wan will agree to it.

Are you sure, Anakin? Any deeper and you're going to be giving me access to your thoughts, even when you're not consciously sending them to me.

I don't want there to be any secrets between us.

Really. Obi-Wan thinks wryly, though he feels gratified that Anakin seems to be thinking along the same lines as him. Then do you want to tell me whatever it is that you're planning on telling me tonight now instead? Because that is what will happen if you tighten the bond any more now.

At that, Anakin hesitates. Through what's already been established with the bond, Obi-Wan can tell that he's grappling with conflicting desires and feeling equally torn between them.

Obi-Wan takes pity on him and suggests Let's wait until after we talk tonight and reassess what we want to do.

There's a sense of relief from Anakin as he concedes but he declares firmly, My answer will stay the same.

It doesn't have to, Obi-Wan thinks at him. He wouldn't be surprised, though, if it does stay the same; Anakin can be quite stubborn at times. Most of the time, actually. He snorts mentally and redirects his thoughts back to his review of his and Anakin's new intimacy. Distantly, he's aware of Anakin fiddling with the bond, radiating happiness and pleasure.

 


 

They use one of the smaller training rooms for their sparring session but manage to draw a bit of a crowd anyway. It's a mix of junior Padawans and injured Knights and Masters, loitering around the edge of the room and murmuring to each other. Anakin resolutely puts them out of his mind, though he can't help throwing a couple of extra twirls and spins and flips into his moves. Obi-Wan rolls his eyes at him for it but keeps his peace. They alternate wielding and defending against two sabers, voltage set high enough to sting but not enough to leave burns.

They throw taunts at each other and it's as much a verbal match as much as it is a physical one. And it's fun . Anakin's missed this, more than he's realized. They do spar on deployment, of course, but there's limited room on the ships and there's always a sense of hyperalertness because they could be attacked at any time or are headed into a warzone. Here, in the heart of the Temple, they can relax and throw themselves fully into a friendly duel.

He meets Obi-Wan's eyes and grins fiercely, blood pumping through him and heart beating fast. The other man's eyes are alight with fire and there's a thin sheen of perspiration on his forehead; his hair is slicked back and darkened with sweat. He returns Anakin's smile with a bright one of his own. He looks beautiful and ferocious right now and if it wasn't for their audience, Anakin would tackle him to the floor and channel their energy and passion down a different path.

"Come on, then, Hero With No Fear! Won't you live up to your title?" Obi-Wan calls out sweetly, gesturing with both of the sabers in his hands.

"Why, General Grievous, I'm flattered that such an ugly collection of mismatched droid parts wants me so badly!" Anakin says with a smirk.

Obi-Wan barks out a laugh. "That's all you've got?"

"Well, excuse me, O Renowned Negotiator, he of the flowery prose and a way of saying nothing while talking for hours. Not all of us share your great talent."

"That's a tried and true tactic right out of Beginner's Negotiations, I'll have you know," Obi-Wan says and Anakin strikes. He leaps in and slashes down, trying to take Obi-Wan by surprise. He doesn't, of course. Obi-Wan brings up one of his sabers to block him and Anakin bears down on it with all of his strength, leaning close to the other man. It's a little distracting, actually, being that close. He has to fight the urge to lick a stripe along Obi-Wan's jawline.

"Are you negotiating me, then?" he murmurs into Obi-Wan's ear instead.

Obi-Wan's face contorts as he tries to contain his laughter. " What? That doesn't even make any sense, Anakin!"

Anakin breaks hold and propels himself with the Force out of the path of Obi-Wan's second saber coming in on a downswing. He grins and shrugs. "You're just not as smooth as I am. It's okay."

Obi-Wan loses his battle for composure, then, bursting into chuckles. He steps back and waves his hand, saber switching off. "Let's break. I need water. Force, the things you say sometimes!" He switches off the other saber and tosses it idly into the air.

"It wasn't that bad," Anakin protests. He doesn't think it was anyway and it made Obi-Wan laugh, so he's counting it as a win. He follows Obi-Wan's lead and turns off his saber. A Padawan runs up with two bottles of water and hands it to them, eyes shining in awe.

"Oh, thank you, young one," Obi-Wan says, looking startled. Anakin doesn't know how the other man has missed the hero worship that he gets from the Initiates and the Padawans but he think it's a rather endearing blind spot.

Anakin nods his thanks as well and chugs down the water. He tosses the empty container into a nearby bin. "Ready to go?"

"Yes, let's. I've worked up quite an appetite." Obi-Wan returns the extra practice blade they had borrowed and leads the way back to their quarters for a shower.

 


 

Dex is happy to see them, as usual, and even more so when they tell him that they're there strictly for good food and no business. He seems to know in one glance that something's changed between them because he claps them both on the shoulder, shouts a "congratulations!" and leads them to a private booth at the back of the diner. Then he serves them two plates of the chef's special but only one plate of dessert. With two spoons. Obi-Wan looks mildly mortified but Anakin's delighted. He spends the entire meal sitting on the edge of his seat so that he can casually knock his knees and feet against Obi-Wan's and rest his legs against the other man's. If he could have gotten away with holding hands, he would have. Obi-Wan tries to give him a stern look but Anakin can see the small smile nearly hidden by his beard. He reaches out and rubs a finger gently against the ginger colored bristles.

Obi-Wan pauses in his eating and raises a brow at him questioningly.

"I was just thinking that I barely remember when you didn't have this."

"I started growing it as soon as I was Knighted. I looked too young to have a Padawan of my own otherwise."

"I like it," Anakin says. "It makes you look distinguished. But I wonder what you would look like without it now."

Obi-Wan gives a small shrug. "Probably much younger."

"Hmm," Anakin says but leaves it at that. Out loud, anyway. Through the bond, he sends a sense memory from that morning: Obi-Wan kissing his way down his body, beard scratching lightly at Anakin's over-sensitized skin. He shivers remembering it; he'd loved the sensation, had gotten even harder from it and not just from the physical feeling of it but also from the undeniable reality that it was Obi-Wan that he was in bed with.

Across the table, Obi-Wan flushes. With widened eyes, he hisses, "Anakin! That is not an appropriate use of the bond!"

Anakin grins, unrepentant. "Sorry, Obi."

Obi-Wan narrows his eyes, takes a quick assessing glance around the diner and then Anakin suddenly gets a memory of someone biting down and sucking hard on the skin of his right shoulder. He gasps when he realizes that it's Obi-Wan's memory from the night before. With it comes the ghost of a spike of arousal that Obi-Wan must have felt when Anakin was doing that. Anakin bites his lip to keep from groaning. He's glad Obi-Wan had liked that. He had liked marking the other man, leaving a visible reminder that he was there and he intends to do it quite often. Especially now that he knows how much Obi-Wan enjoys it.

"Let's get back to the Temple," he says in a rush.

Obi-Wan chuckles, eyes dancing, but doesn't disagree. They leave a credit chip, call out a goodnight to Dex who's in the kitchen and collect their speeder. Anakin drives, as usual, though he does make an effort to adhere somewhat to the traffic rules. He spends the drive back with his gloved cybernetic hand clasped around Obi-Wan's. He feels genuinely happy in an uncomplicated way, which is rare enough these days that he marvels at it. He doesn't want anything to ruin this but a tiny part of him is terrified that such a good thing can't possibly last. Not without conditions. He gets a bit somber when he remembers what they still have to talk about that night and hopes that it won't be the thing that ruins this.