“This is ridiculous.” Obi-Wan says for the second time. “You can’t just throw away your studies to go travelling.”
“I had an epiphany.” Qui-Gon’s voice is crackly on the other end of the phone, like he’s on another planet and not Kings Cross Station. “I don’t want to sit in a room with dusty professors lecturing me about Plato. I want to actually travel, to explore the world that Plato was writing about, to see philosophy and ethics in action.”
“So you’re dropping out of the Master’s program that you worked so hard to get into, and going on a trip to Greece.”
“Not just Greece.” Qui-Gon says. “I want to go everywhere.”
“With what budget?”
“Jesus Christ.” Obi-Wan says. “You’re going on a gap yah.”
Qui-Gon bristles on the other line. “Not like that.”
“You’re literally going off to Thailand on Daddy’s money to stroke some drugged tigers and find yourself.” Obi-Wan shakes his head. “Think of me when you’re smoking pot and hallucinating Socrates.”
“It’s not going to be like that.” Qui-Gon says. “I’m not going to stroke any tigers.”
“That’s what they all say.”
“Obi-Wan, shut up.” Qui-Gon says. “This is just showing how juvenile you are.”
“I am not juvenile.” Obi-Wan says indignantly.
“Haven’t you ever considered the idea that the way Philosophy is taught in British universities isn’t adequate? That we need to go out into the world to explore the ideas and manifestos?” Qui-Gon asks.
“No.” Obi-Wan says plainly. “I haven’t.”
“I don’t want to spend another moment in Professor Mundi’s class.” Qui-Gon says. “I want to experience the trolley problem for myself.”
Obi-Wan doesn’t say anything. He’s been friends with Qui-Gon since Fresher’s Week, and they’d plans – Masters, then PHD, then Professor’s together, teaching new ideas about Philosophy.
“What about me?” Obi-Wan says.
“What about you?”
“Didn’t you think about me before you decided to drop out?” Obi-Wan asks.
“I knew you wouldn’t want to come with me.” Qui-Gon says, like it’s obvious.
“But you never thought to ask?”
Qui-Gon sighs on the other end. “Obi-Wan. This is something I need to do alone.”
“We were supposed to be living together this year.” Obi-Wan says. “I can’t pay rent for two people.”
“You’ll have to figure something out.” Qui-Gon says. “Find a new place.”
“At such short notice?”
“Surely one of your other friends has a spare room.” Qui-Gon pronounces ‘other friends’ the same way that another person might say ‘sewer rat’.
“They’re all settled for the new term.” Obi-Wan says. “Why didn’t you think about this earlier?!”
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t thinking about your accommodation.” Qui-Gon says sarcastically. “What about your little friend, the one with the scar? Can’t you live with him?”
“That’s the one.”
Obi-Wan pulls a face even though he knows Qui-Gon can’t see him. “I don’t want to live with Anakin.”
“Why not?” Qui-Gon’s voice goes sly. “I thought you liked him?”
“Shut up.” Obi-Wan says. “He lives with his girlfriend anyway. I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“Fair enough.” Qui-Gon says.
There’s a muffled train station announcement on Qui-Gon’s end of the phone call, that Obi-Wan can’t quite work out.
“I’ve got to go. My trains just arrived.” Qui-Gon says.
“I still wish you’d thought about this.” Obi-Wan grumbles.
“The best time to plant a tree is yesterday-“
“Oh, fuck off.” Obi-Wan says before Qui-Gon can spout out Chinese proverbs. “Get on your train.”
“Fine.” Qui-Gon says. “Good luck Obi-Wan.”
“Don’t stroke any tigers-.” Obi-Wan starts, but Qui-Gon has hung up the call.
Obi-Wan stares down at the phone in his hand, and the screensaver of him and Qui-Gon dressed as ancient philosophers with matching togas.
“We’re really in the deep end now.” He says, and wonders if Anakin has a spare room after all.
“You know Anakin,” Obi Wan says, “When you said you had a place for me to stay, I wasn’t expecting this.”
The room in question is pastel pink, with fairy lights strung up on the walls and embroidery hoops with empowering quotes hung on the walls. The bed is covered with throw cushions, and one of Anakin’s cats has also taken up residence on the equally pink bedspread.
The cat glares at Obi-Wan and swishes his tail in a threatening way. Obi-Wan frowns.
Anakin shrugs from where he’s holding the door open. “It’s Padme’s.”
“I can see that.” Obi Wan steps inside, and even though he’s wearing socks, he feels like he’s going to make a mark on the fluffy white carpet. “And where is she going to sleep whilst I’m taking up space in her room?”
“With me.” Anakin replies.
Obi-Wan looks at Anakin. “I thought you said you were taking things slow?”
“It’s only sharing a bed.” Anakin says, but the tips of his ears go pink. “We already share a flat. And anyway, it was her idea.”
“She didn’t like the idea of you not having anywhere to stay.” Anakin says. “So, we had to come to your rescue.”
“I didn’t need rescuing.” Obi-Wan informs him. “I would have figured something out if you weren’t available.”
“Yeah yeah.” Anakin folds his arms. “I’m sure you would have.”
Obi-Wan looks around the place again. “It’s very... pink.”
“It’s very Padme.” Anakin replies. “She says you can keep the pillows.”
“Very kind.” Obi-Wan sits down on the end of the bed. The cat meows at him, extending out one leg to prod him.
“Artoo!” Anakin chastises, “Be nice to our guest.”
“Does the cat come with the room?” Obi-Wan asks.
“He likes to sleep in here with Padme. I’m sure he’ll move out once he realises that she isn’t here anymore.”
Anakin joins Obi-Wan on the bed and pulls the cat forcefully onto his lap. The cat glares at Obi-Wan, and then starts to make biscuits on Anakin’s ripped jeans. Anakin makes little cooing noises and strokes Artoo’s head.
“You spoil that cat.” Obi-Wan says.
“No, I don’t.” Anakin gives Artoo a chin rub. “I spoil Threepio more.”
“Why do your cats have such silly names?”
“I was drunk.” Anakin says. “They seemed good at the time.”
Obi-Wan shakes his head. “Most of your drunken ideas that ‘seem good at the time’ always turn out wrong.”
“Hey,” Anakin says, “Putting a traffic cone hat on the statue of Phanius was worth it.”
“You fell off and broke your wrist.”
“But it looked funny.” Anakin reminds him. “And they couldn’t get the cone off for ages.”
Obi-Wan rubs the bridge of his nose. “I’m staying with a child.”
Anakin smirks and leans back on the bed. “It’s your choice.”
“Mm.” Obi-Wan says. “Where is Padme anyway?”
“In class.” Anakin says. “She goes in Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Fridays are study days.”
“Yeah.” Anakin gets a sappy look on his face. “But she works really hard and she loves what she does.”
“What about you?” Obi-Wan asks. “Do you miss being at university?”
The sappy look disappears and Anakin snorts. “Nope. I’m glad I dropped out.”
“Yeah!” Anakin looks at Obi-Wan. “I hated being told what to do.”
“University isn’t just that-“
“Well it was for me.” Anakin says. “And I’m having a much better time doing YouTube stuff and setting my own schedule.”
“Ah yes.” Obi-Wan says. “Your You Tube career.”
“You say it wrong.” Anakin says. “It’s one word. YouTube.”
“That’s what I said.” Obi-Wan says. “You Tube.”
Anakin is apparently a highly popular content creator who films himself playing a game called Battle of The Republic. From what Obi-Wan has seen, it involves a lot of fighting random creatures and blowing them up.
Anakin shakes his head, smiling. “You’re like an old man.”
“I feel like an old man.” Obi-Wan replies, and Anakin laughs.
“So,” Anakin says. “Will you take it? The room?”
Obi-Wan looks at Anakin’s smiling face, his hair falling into his eyes.
“Yes,” He says, “I’ll take the room.”
The cat looks smug.
Obi-Wan moves all his things into the room the next day. He doesn’t have much, Communist philosophy and all that, but he still owns clothes and toiletries. Padme has removed most of her clothes from the ornate wardrobe, so Obi-Wan hangs up his outfits and looks around the room.
There are polaroid pictures stuck on the back of the door that he didn’t see beforehand. Upon inspection, they’re of Anakin and Padme on various dates, holding hands and kissing each other. Obi-Wan has never seen Anakin so happy before.
Obi-Wan and Anakin have never been extremely close. They only know each other because of Fencing society, which Obi-Wan still attends. They’d hung out in the library together to write essays, even though Anakin mainly used to play about on the swivel chairs and annoy Obi-Wan, and they sometimes went out drinking with other mutual friends. Obi-Wan never could have imagined them living together.
Still, there’s something about Anakin. He’s clever, far too clever for his own good, and funny when he wants to be. Obi-Wan likes his smile too, and the way he grows his hair long, to the point that he can pull it back into a loose bun.
It’s a silly sort of friendship really.
Someone knocks on the door, and Obi-Wan steps back. It’s Padme, holding a large ginger cat in her arms.
“Hello there.” Obi-Wan says, “Sorry, did you need to get something?”
“I was just checking on you.” Padme smiles. “And I wanted Threepio to see that you weren’t scary.”
The cat in her arms, Threepio, wails pitifully. Padme sighs and holds the cat like a baby so that he can see Obi-Wan’s face.
“Look Threepio, it’s nobody bad. It’s Obi-Wan.” She kisses the cat on the head. “He’s staying with us for a while.”
“He’s been kicked out of his flat.” Obi-Wan says.
Padme pulls a face. “I can’t believe Qui-Gon would do that to you. I thought better of him.”
“I can’t believe it either.” Obi-Wan says. He always forgets that Padme and Qui-Gon knew each other from Debate society.
Padme releases Threepio onto the floor who dives under the bed. She pouts. “He’s not very good with people.”
“Takes after Anakin then.”
Padme laughs, and it fills the room. “Exactly. Kindred spirits.”
“I like the room.” Obi-Wan says, because he can’t think of anything else to say.
“You do?” Padme seems genuinely pleased to hear it. “I spent so long decorating. I even made the drapes and the embroidery myself.”
She gestures towards the curtains which description.
“You’re really talented.” Obi-Wan tells her.
“I know.” She says, and then laughs at Obi-Wan’s expression. “My New Year’s Resolution was to be proud of my achievements and acknowledge compliments. Most people just think I’m being stuck up.”
She sits down on the chair next to the desk. “You can change the room if you’d like. I know it’s too girly for someone like you.”
“I think pink goes well with my complexion.” Obi-Wan tells her.
Padme studies him for a moment. “You’d look good in earth tones. Something form fitting around the waist but loose everywhere else.”
“Are you going to make me an outfit?” Obi-Wan jokes but Padme pulls a small notepad and pen from her trouser pocket.
“How tall are you?” She asks, flipping through to a blank page.
“Around 6 foot.” Obi-Wan says. “You don’t have to make me-“
“No, no, it would be good for dissertation practise.” Padme looks up at him. “I’m looking at fashion in politics and I need a wide range of models. Can I use you?”
“I suppose so?” Obi-Wan says cautiously. “As long as you don’t take any naked photographs of me.”
Padme laughs. “Who would want to see that?!”
She scribbles a few more notes into her notepad and then tucks her pen behind her ear. “This is really helpful. Thank you.”
“My pleasure.” Obi-Wan says, wondering what he’s gotten himself in for.
Padme folds her notepad back into her pocket, and then frowns down at the bed. “Threepio’s still under there.”
“I forgot about that.” Obi-Wan also looks at the bed. “Do you think he’s alright?”
“I’ll have to try and get him out.” She looks at Obi-Wan. “Can you help?”
“I can try.” Obi-Wan says. “But I can’t promise you anything.”
It takes them half an hour and the lure of freshly cooked chicken to rescue Threepio from under the bed. Obi-Wan makes a mental note to never get a cat.
It’s the middle of the night and someone is screaming. Obi-Wan sits bolt upright in bed, heart racing. The room is dark, stillness in the air, and for a moment Obi-Wan thinks he imagined it.
Then someone screams again. It’s Anakin, Obi-Wan recognises his voice. He sounds angry, or in pain.
Obi-Wan clambers out of bed, pulling on his dressing gown from the back of the door. He barges out of the bedroom and along the corridor where Anakin and Padme are sleeping. He shoves the door open, expecting to see Anakin in pain, an intruder perhaps, a dangerous situation-
Anakin is sitting at his desk, surrounded by screens and a camera set up. The monitor on Anakin’s right displays the words YOU DIED :(, and the options RESTART, NEW GAME, or MAIN MENU underneath.
Obi-Wan stares at Anakin incredulously. Anakin pulls off his headphones and spins around in his fancy chair to look at Obi-Wan.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought-“ Obi-Wan starts. “I was worried!”
“Why?” Anakin frowns.
“Because you were screaming!” Obi-Wan says. “I thought you were hurt.”
Anakin rolls his eyes. “I’m filming.” He says, like Obi-Wan is stupid. “I make a lot of noise.”
“You could have warned me!” Obi-Wan says. He glances over at the bed, Padme is fast asleep, covers pulled up over her head. “I thought someone had broken in.”
Anakin glances back at his right-side monitor which seems to be full of people typing. “People like your dressing gown.”
“I don’t care that people like my dressing gown!” Obi-Wan says, pulling it tighter around himself. “Why are you filming in the middle of the night?”
“There’s better sound quality.” Anakin says. “Are you finished?”
Obi-Wan opens his mouth to yell some more and then decides against it. “We’ll speak in the morning.”
“Cool.” Anakin says. “I’m going to carry on playing my game. I suggest you ignore any screams you hear.”
“Don’t worry, I will.” Obi-Wan snaps. "And if I hear you getting murdered, I'll just ignore it."
"Nobody is going to murder me."
"I might." Obi-Wan says and storms out of the room.
As he stalks back to the bedroom, he hears Anakin pull his headphones on again. "Sorry everyone, that's just my new roommate. I don't think he quite understands how online gaming works..."
"Doesn't understand how online gaming works." Obi-Wan mimics, slamming the bedroom door shut and hopes that it messes with Anakin's sound quality. "No, because I'm a normal person, who sleeps at night time, and doesn't play silly shooting games with random people!"
He throws his dressing gown onto the floor and climbs back into bed. He pulls one of the many pillows over his face, either to smother himself or block out the sounds. There's quiet for a blissful moment, and then Anakin shrieks as he either kills someone, or is killed himself.
Obi-Wan is in for a restless night.
Anakin is waiting for Obi-Wan when he comes into the kitchen for breakfast. Padme is there too, spooning cereal into her mouth whilst studying a textbook at the same time.
"Hello." Anakin says.
Obi-Wan ignores him and goes to the cupboard to find something healthy to eat. Anakin follows him.
"About last night..." Anakin says. "I didn't realise you'd think I was being murdered."
Obi-Wan forcefully pulls a box of muesli out of the cupboard and pours it into a bowl. Anakin hovers behind him.
"I thought you would have realised that my videos involve a lot of yelling." Anakin tells him. "Nobody plays video games in complete silence."
Obi-Wan forgets that he's meant to be ignoring Anakin. "I play in complete silence."
"You don't play the kind of games that I do." Anakin says. "You play online scrabble and mah-jong."
"I'm not one hundred years old." Obi-Wan says, "I've played Call of Duty."
"Yeah, when I've forced you to play!" Anakin's voice raises and Padme shoots him a look. Anakin takes a deep breath and levels with Obi-Wan. "I apologise for waking you up last night. I should have told you beforehand."
Obi-Wan looks at Padme. "I'm guessing this apology is your doing?"
Padme finishes her mouthful of cereal. "Yes. And he's very sorry, aren't you Anakin?"
"Yes." Anakin says. "But I won't say it'll never happen again, because it probably will."
Obi-Wan fills up his bowl with milk and sits down at the table. "How do you stay asleep?" He asks Padme.
"Ear plugs." Padme says. "And I take half a sleeping tablet on the nights before big tournaments."
"It's hard keeping up with Pacific Time." Anakin says, and drops down into the seat beside Obi-Wan. "Did you honestly think I was being murdered?"
"You were screaming in the middle of the night." Obi-Wan says. "What was I supposed to think?"
"It's cute that you worry." Anakin says, and steals Padme's slice of toast. He ignores her noise of protest and bites into it. "My chat really liked you though."
"Oh, did they?" Obi-Wan asks dryly.
"They thought you were very handsome." Anakin says. "And they liked your beard."
"I like your beard." Padme adds.
"Everyone likes your beard." Anakin agrees. "I should try and grow one."
"Please don't." Obi-Wan says. "I can't believe your... fans saw me in my dressing gown."
"Stormtroopers. It's what we call our fans." Anakin waves his hand. "It's a whole thing."
"It’s weird." Obi-Wan says and eats his muesli.
Padme closes her textbook. "Anakin and his online friend have a whole fanbase set up."
"Don't call him my online friend, you make us sound about twelve." Anakin complains. "He's Scottish, and his grandson got him Battle of The Republic for his birthday, and now he's obsessed like me. We play together almost every day, and we've set up ."
Obi-Wan raises an eyebrow. "How do you know he's real?"
"Who’s going to pretend to be an elderly Scottish man obsessed with Battle of The Republic?" Anakin says. "And anyway, I've seen his face. He sent me a selfie once."
"What does he look like?"
"Old. Wrinkly. Exactly how I pictured." Anakin says sarcastically. "He streams with a helmet on though. He doesn't like the idea of people seeing his face."
"God forbid that." Obi-Wan says.
"You just don't get it." Anakin shakes his head. "This is the future."
"I'll believe it when I see it." Obi-Wan says. "I'll stick with my online scrabble."
"See, you do play it!" Anakin says triumphantly.
"It's Words With Friends!" Obi-Wan protests. "It's an app, and you collect things."
"You're so lame." Anakin grins.
"Both of you are lame." Padme stands from the table, abandoning a slice of toast to Anakin. "I'm going to shower and get dressed for my lecture."
"I'll walk you to campus." Anakin says, "I need to go into town."
Anakin looks across at Obi-Wan. "Coming with?"
Obi-Wan shrugs. "I've got nothing else to do. I'll tag along for the day."
"Excellent." Padme leans down and kisses Anakin on the nose. "I'll be about an hour."
"We both know that's a lie." Anakin smiles up at her. "You take an hour to pick an outfit."
"Cheeky." Padme says, but she kisses Anakin again before leaving.
Anakin waits until she's gone before turning to Obi-Wan. "People on my stream thought you were hot last night."
"And why are you telling me this?" Obi-Wan asks.
"I thought you'd be interested in what my fans thought of you." Anakin shrugs. "I'm pretty sure some of them thought you were my boyfriend."
Obi-Wan splutters. "What? Why!"
"I don't know, a half-dressed man stumbling into my bedroom at night?" Anakin raises a scarred eyebrow. "Pretty suspicious."
"You're just making something out of nothing." Obi-Wan says, uncomfortable. "Now stop talking to me so I can eat my breakfast in peace.
"Fair enough." Anakin says, holding up his hands. “Although people wanted you to make an OnlyFans-“
“Anakin.” Obi-Wan says. “Shut up.”
For once, Anakin follows instructions.
After they've dropped Padme off at her lecture theatre, (which involved too many goodbye kisses for Obi-Wan's liking), Anakin drags Obi-Wan into town.
"I need to get an upgrade on my mouse." Anakin says, leading Obi-Wan through crowds of hungover students. "The Emperor thinks it'll improve my playing style."
"Maybe you should just try and get better at your game." Obi-Wan says.
"I am good at my game!" Anakin protests. "But the technology matters too."
"Mm." Obi-Wan says.
Rebel Gaming is a tiny gaming store in a back alley that Obi-Wan is sure he's been mugged in. The facade is an off-white colour, with stencils of characters from the Portal game franchise sprayed onto the wall.
Anakin pushes open the door, which rings out the TARDIS landing noise to signify a new customer. Obi-Wan wonders the last time they changed the decorations.
"Skyguy!" A black girl behind the counter with braided hair waves enthusiastically. "You've come back to me!"
Anakin holds out his hands. "How could I resist your womanly charms Snips?"
Obi-Wan looks suspiciously at both of them. The girl is wearing a brown shirt with the shop name embroidered on the front, and dark coloured leggings. She pulls Anakin into a hug, and then steps back to inspect him.
“You look tired. Are you filming at night again?”
“No.” Anakin says, and the girl laughs.
“Yes, you are! You can’t lie to me Skywalker. I can read your mind.” She wiggles her fingers at him and Anakin bats them away.
“If you can read my mind then you can see how annoying you are to me.” He says, and she laughs.
They playfight with each other for a bit, and Obi-Wan realises he does know the girl from someone. She used to attend Fencing society with Anakin, but he hasn’t seen her since Anakin dropped out.
"Obi-Wan, this is Ahsoka." Anakin introduces. "She's my friend."
"Best friend." The girl, Ahsoka, corrects. "You're Obi-Wan! You're just like Anakin described."
"Is that good or bad?" Obi-Wan asks and Ahsoka laughs, turning to Anakin and ignoring the question.
"What are you in need of?" She asks. “How did you get on with the Nintendo Switch?”
"Padme stole the Switch from me.” Anakin says. "She plays Stardew Valley constantly."
"It's a good game." Ahsoka leans against the counter. "I like killing all the monsters."
"Of course, you would." Anakin says, and pulls out his phone. "I'm looking for a mouse actually. I've got the specs here..."
Obi-Wan looks around the shop as Anakin spiels off into computer talk. The shop is dark, with strip word lighting hanging from the ceiling. The shelves are stacked with tabletop games, D&D, Ticket to Ride, and various coloured dice. Obi-Wan steps towards a silvery-blue set that shine in the terrible lighting.
"It's 3 for 2." Ahsoka calls to him.
"Three sets of dice for the price of two." Ahsoka says. "If you wanted to get anything."
"I'm just looking." Obi-Wan says and puts the dice back.
On the other side of the shop are electronic games. There's a whole section dedicated to Battle of The Republic, with a cardboard cut-out of one of the characters. Stuck to the cut-out is a sign proclaiming:
DARTH VADER IS A FRIEND OF THE SHOP. PLEASE ENQUIRE FOR SIGNING.
Obi-Wan looks over his shoulder at Anakin and Ahsoka who are comparing computer mice. The sign doesn't lie, Anakin seems to be friendly with this girl. He wonders if Padme has met her before.
Obi-Wan sits down at one of the rickety chairs and picks up a guide on Battle of The Republic from the shelf. It proclaims that it can get the reader to an Expert Level by the time they've finished the book, with tips and tricks on how to score the best attacks. Anakin seems like he isn't going to be finished anytime soon, so Obi-Wan settles down to read.
He doesn't know much time passes, but the next thing he knows, Anakin is tapping him on the shoulder. Obi-Wan looks up from where he's learning how to decapitate Ewoks and blinks.
"Oh. Are you done?"
"Yeah." Anakin shakes a paper bag at him. "Spent way too much money. Are you getting your book?"
"No." Obi-Wan sets the book back on the shelf. When he stands up from the chair, his back clicks. "Do I want to know how much you spent?"
"Nope!" Anakin says cheerily. "Ahsoka gave me her staff discount though."
"I'm good for something." Ahsoka says, hands on her hips. "Do you play any games Obi-Wan?"
"Nothing like this." Obi-Wan says.
"He's very vanilla." Anakin rolls his eyes. “He’s on level 500 Candy Crush.”
“He’s making that up.” Obi-Wan says quickly and Ahsoka laughs.
“We’re welcome to all gaming types here.”
Anakin gives Obi-Wan a little shake. “You hear that? Even noobs are allowed in this shop.”
“I don’t even know what that means.” Obi-Wan says and both Anakin and Ahsoka laugh.
"I'll see you around Ahsoka." Anakin says.
"Come and visit me anytime!" Ahsoka waves at them both as they leave the tiny shop.
"Thank god for fresh air." Obi-Wan says, breathing in deeply. "What do you want to do now?"
"Lunch?" Anakin says.
"We only just ate breakfast."
"But lunch." Anakin pouts as well as Padme. "I need sustenance."
"You need something." Obi-Wan sighs, "Alright then. Cafe. I'll pay, seeing as you just spent your life savings on a mouse."
"I got some screen wipes too."
"How exciting." Obi-Wan says dryly, and they fall into step together.
Obi-Wan begins to get into a routine. He wakes up in the mornings and eats breakfast with Padme and Anakin, they walk to campus together, he fights with the cats for sofa space, they eat dinner together in the evenings, and then Obi-Wan goes to bed and firmly plugs noise cancelling headphones in his ears.
Not that they entirely work. Obi-Wan can still hear Anakin screaming at the computer screen, to the point that Anakin infiltrates his dreams. Obi-Wan will be having a nice normal dream about debating Philosophy with Professor Windu, but every time Windu opens his mouth, Anakin's screams comes out.
It's all very annoying.
"How do you cope with it?" He asks Padme as she measures him for her dissertation project.
"With what?" Padme asks, writing down Obi-Wan's inside leg measurement.
"The fact that Anakin only seems to film at night and spends most of the time screaming?"
"I told you, I have excellent ear plugs." Padme says. "And I'm used to it by now."
"I don't know how you cope, sleeping in the same room as him." Obi-Wan says. "It's like he's screaming directly into my brain."
"You poor thing." Padme measures how long his arm is. "I can ask him to tone it down. Say that it's upsetting me?"
"No, I don't want to cause problems." Obi-Wan says. "Maybe we should invest in soundproofing."
"I'll get him to look into it." Padme says. "Have you spoken to Qui-Gon recently?"
"Unfortunately." Obi-Wan says, and then sighs. "He's in Athens. Apparently, he's never felt so close to understanding the true meaning of life"
Padme laughs. "I'm Jewish. The true meaning of life is to argue."
"Try telling Qui-Gon that." Obi-Wan tries to imitate Qui-Gon's voice. "Listen... Philosophy.... It's about the true belief, on the inside. Not what you say to impress others, but how you truly react, how you would split-second respond to an ethically dilemma."
"Sounds fun." Padme says. "I'll stick to my politics."
"How are you even balancing a combined Fashion and Politics degree?" Obi-Wan asks.
"Carefully." Padme says, and then shrugs. "I'm good at multi-tasking. And I couldn't decide which one I'd rather study most."
"Which would you rather have a career in?"
Padme thinks for a moment. "Politics. I’m going to be the youngest female leader of the Labour party.” She says confidently.
“You think you’re better than Corbyn?”
Padme turns to him with steely eyes. “Corbyn couldn’t find his way out of a greenhouse, let alone start a socialist revolution.”
“Righty-ho.” Obi-Wan says and reminds himself never to bring up Jeremy again. "What do you think Anakin is going to do?"
"What do you mean?" Padme asks.
"When you finish your dissertation and become British Prime Minister-" He's interrupted by Padme laughing. "It could happen! Is Anakin going to join you?"
"Of course." Padme says, and begins to measure the circumference of Obi-Wan's chest. "We'll get married, and Anakin will continue with his YouTube channel, and I will be both fashionable and political."
"Do you honestly think he can have a career in gaming?"
Padme looks up at him. "Ninja has a net worth of 15 million. It's a valued profession."
"Would your political career be dampened by your husband having such a niche career? A career that people look down on?"
"I don't know." Padme says, and thinks for a moment. "I don't think I'd care either. Let people think what they think. I'm proud of Anakin."
She writes down Obi-Wan's measurements in her notebook and steps back. "You're free to go."
"Am I the ideal body type?" He asks.
"Obviously." Padme says, and folds her notebook shut. "Listen, why don't you watch Anakin game some time?"
"What do you mean?"
"Watch one of his streams or sit in the room whilst he practises. It's hard to understand what he does if you're not there." Padme says. "And he'd like it if you took an interest."
"I do take an interest."
"You judge him for it." Padme says. "Don't lie. Everyone does."
Obi-Wan sighs. "I know. I guess I'm old fashioned. I don't understand all of this."
"Have you tried to understand?"
Obi-Wan doesn't answer.
"Please." Padme says. "Just hang out with him when he's playing. I thought I wouldn't be able to understand what was going on either, but it's easy once you try."
"Okay." Obi-Wan says. "I'll watch him play."
Padme smiles. "Thank you."
Obi-Wan knocks on the door of Anakin's bedroom a few days later. It's a Friday, so Padme is studying in the library with her course mates. Normally Obi-Wan would join them and work on his own essays, but he's stayed behind to talk to Anakin.
"Come in?" Anakin calls, and Obi-Wan pushes the door open.
"I wanted to see what you were doing." Obi-Wan says.
Anakin is sitting in front of his monitor again, camera aimed at his face. The left-hand screen is displaying Anakin's character hopping about the place, but the right-hand screen is off. Artoo is curled up on his lap, and glares at Obi-Wan at the intrusion.
"I'm filming?" Anakin says slowly, like Obi-Wan is an idiot. "I'm not streaming, don't worry."
"Can I join you?"
"If you want."
Obi-Wan sits down on the edge of the bed. Somebody has made the covers and arranged more throw pillows. He suspects Padme.
"What's up?" Anakin asks.
"I wanted to watch you... play your game." Obi-Wan says.
Anakin blinks. "I thought you didn't care?"
"Well I want to care." Obi-Wan says. "I have no idea how Battle of The Republic works, and I want to see you play it. Plus I read that book in Ahsoka’s shop."
"You wouldn't find it interesting.”
"Try me." Obi-Wan says boldly.
Anakin pauses for a moment, and then nods. "Okay then. I'll show you how everything works, as long as you don't ask stupid questions."
"I won't." Obi-Wan says. "Promise you won't film me?"
Anakin holds up his hands. "I promise." He says.
Over the course of a couple of hours, Anakin teaches Obi-Wan how to play. Not that Obi-Wan is very good at it, he keeps walking into walls and ending up dead far often that he likes. Anakin thinks it is all very hilarious, especially when Obi-Wan curses and throws the controller down in frustration.
"I am useless at this." Obi-Wan announces as he blows up himself and the ship he was trying to liberate. "Honestly, how do you even play this Anakin?"
"It takes practise." Anakin takes the controller and restarts the level, hopping about the screen. Artoo raises his head and looks at the screen, then settles back down to sleep, disinterested. "You just weren't born talented like I was."
Obi-Wan grumbles in discontent. "When did you first start playing?"
"We had the first game in my Children's Home." Anakin says, with surprising frankness. "I used to play whenever I could steal the console from the older kids. I got obsessed from there.”
"I didn't know you were in a Children's Home." Obi-Wan says carefully.
Anakin shrugs, killing someone on screen. "My mum couldn't take care of me all the time. I ended up there. She visited every other weekend." His voice softens. "We'd get fish and chips and eat it together on the beach."
"That sounds nice." Obi-Wan says, not wanting to pry.
"It was." Anakin focuses his attention on the screen and Obi-Wan watches him. Anakin is frighteningly good at slaughtering bad guys.
"Do you speak to your mum nowadays?" Obi-Wan asks.
"Sometimes." Anakin says. "What about your parents?"
“I call them every two weeks.” Obi-Wan says. “They’ve retired to the Cayman Islands.”
“Sun, sea, and sex?” Anakin says and Obi-Wan pulls a disgusted face.
“Please Anakin. I don’t want to think about my parents having sex.”
“So wrinkly.” Anakin says, then promptly wins the mission and tosses the controller onto the desk. "There we go. Easy."
"I am, as always, impressed by your talent."
Anakin smirks and cracks his knuckles. "Post-game snack?"
"And a nice cup of tea." Obi-Wan agrees.
It’s 3 in the morning and Obi-Wan has a cat attempting to sleep on his face. He tries to push off the offending feline, but the response is only a hiss, and a claw near his eyeball.
“This is ridiculous.” Obi-Wan says finally, mouth muffled by fur. “You are an animal. I am a human. You are not winning this fight.”
He manages to push the cat off his face, which turns out to be Artoo. Artoo glares at Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan glares back.
“Do you know how difficult it is to get a good night’s sleep around here?” He asks the cat. “Your master screaming down the house, and now I have you smothering me? Do you understand that cat?”
Artoo yowls at him and swishes his tail. Obi-Wan sighs and clambers out of bed, pulling on his dressing gown. There’s no use trying to sleep, so he might as well fix himself a nice cup of chamomile tea and perhaps lock the cat in the cupboard.
Artoo follows him out of the room, winding his furry body around Obi-Wan’s ankles. Obi-Wan tries not to trip over him, and Artoo meows angrily that the human has not been sent crashing to the floor.
Obi-Wan goes to the kitchen and switches on the kettle. He leans against the kitchen counter as he waits for it to boil, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He’s got an assignment due next week, for a module he’s always hated. Not for the first time, he wishes Qui-Gon was here to complain with.
The kettle clicks and Obi-Wan fills up his mug with hot water, chucking in the tea bag. The mug changes colour with the water, changing from a plain black mug to a picture of Anakin and Padme kissing.
“Why are they like this?” Obi-Wan asks Artoo.
Artoo doesn’t reply.
When Obi-Wan steps out into the hallway, the light is on in Anakin’s room, and he can hear Anakin talking loudly. Obi-Wan pauses outside the door, staring down at the strip of light shining from underneath.
He could go back to bed, and drink his tea, and settle down under the covers. He could dream of university essays and stupid cats, and Anakin Skywalker’s face.
Or he could open the door.
Obi-Wan knocks on the door politely and pushes it open. Surprisingly, Padme and Anakin are both awake, and they blink at Obi-Wan guiltily, like they’ve been caught doing something wrong. Threepio is cuddled up in Padme’s arms, like a small baby.
“Sorry.” Padme says. “Did we wake you?”
They’re sitting in front of the cameras; Battle of The Republic open on the monitors. Padme’s character, kitted out in fancy modded clothing, spins about on screen with a ten-foot spear.
“No.” Obi-Wan says. “The cat did.”
Artoo licks Obi-Wan’s bare ankle. It feels like wet sandpaper, and Obi-Wan glares down at him. Artoo looks up at him smugly.
“He likes you.” Anakin says proudly.
“He likes my face as a pillow.” Obi-Wan says. “What are you doing?”
“Filming my girlfriend being much better at my game than me.” Anakin says. “Want to watch?”
Padme pats the seat beside her with a free hand. Obi-Wan looks at them both, and then steps into the room, shutting the door behind himself.
“Okay.” He says. “I want to watch Padme destroy you in combat.”
Anakin grins, and Obi-Wan takes his place between them.
Obi-Wan starts watching Anakin's channel. It's weird, thinking that the same man down the hall is a gaming celebrity, with thousands of fans. Obi-Wan likes reading the comments on the videos, people complimenting Anakin and quoting their favourite moments.
@nassty: He has the high ground baybee!
@bobatea2: When he decapitates four clones at once? Iconic.
@apailanaaaaa: Anakin....... hot..........scar boy...... handsome.....
He watches them during lunch mostly, in the university canteen. He has his favourite spot, the bar stools by the window, and sets up his phone against his water bottle to get the best angle. Several times he catches himself snorting with laughter at something Anakin says, and has to look around the room to make sure nobody is paying attention to him.
Sometimes he'll spot Padme grabbing a coffee before a lecture, and they'll wave at each other. She knows not to interrupt him during lunch.
"You should get a YouTube account." Anakin says when Obi-Wan is complaining that he can't like the videos.
They’re in the living room, Love Island playing on the television. Both Anakin and Obi-Wan are ignoring it, but Threepio is splayed out on the carpet, enraptured.
"I don't want to film anything though." Obi-Wan replies.
Anakin rolls his eyes. "You don't need to post videos to have an account. I'll set it up for you. As a favour."
Obi-Wan lets Anakin take control of his laptop, and soon enough, Anakin is setting up an account for him.
"What do you want your username to be?" He asks.
"Not my real name." Obi-Wan says quickly. "Data protection."
Anakin raises a scarred eyebrow.
"Use Ben." Obi-Wan says, because it was the name of his old family dog."1977."
"What's the date for?"
"It’s the year Niki Lauda won his second championship.” Obi-Wan says.
"God you’re weird." Anakin enters the username. "You can upload a photo or whatever now."
"I don't want to do that."
"Why do you hate technology so much?" Anakin asks incredulously. "Fine. No photo. Now you can like my videos and leave snarky comments."
"Thank you." Obi-Wan says sarcastically. "I'll comment on every video telling you how terrible you are."
"I think my Stormtroopers would have something to say about that."
"The stupidest name I've ever heard." Obi-Wan shakes his head. "Why did you even choose that?"
"The Emperor chose it." Anakin mutters. "He thinks it's a good name. He's a fan of World War Two."
"Of course he is." Obi-Wan says. "I bet he's got the uniforms and everything."
"Like you don't dress up in togas." Anakin points out.
"Only on special occasions." Obi-Wan says quickly.
Anakin smirks and pushes the laptop back towards Obi-Wan. "There's a tournament coming up this weekend. I need to go practise."
"Want me to watch?" Obi-Wan asks.
"What, to give me tips on how to get my limbs cut off?" Anakin says, referencing Obi-Wan's last disastrous playthrough of Battle of The Republic.
"That wasn't my fault, you distracted me!" Obi-Wan says. Anakin had been making snide comments next to Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan had got waylaid.
"You'll never make it pro." Anakin says.
"I don't want to be pro." Obi-Wan says. "I just like watching you play."
Anakin looks a little surprised at that. "Really?"
"Yes." Obi-Wan says. "It's interesting."
Anakin studies him for a moment but doesn't say anything.
"So, can I?" Obi-Wan asks.
Anakin raises and then lowers one shoulder. "If you want to."
"I do." Obi-Wan says, and he means it.
Padme and Obi-Wan are writing essays together silently in the kitchen when Anakin comes into the room, making as much noise as possible. Obi-Wan glances up at Padme, who rolls her eyes and goes back to her laptop. Threepio and Artoo, sitting on the floor next to their food bowl, meow pitifully like nobody has ever loved them.
"You two are very boring." Anakin announces, pulling open the fridge door and riffling through it.
"Some of us want to get an education." Obi-Wan tells him. "That involves completing modules."
"Exactly." Anakin says. "Boring."
He pulls a beer out of the fridge and sets it on the table between Padme and Obi-Wan. Before Anakin has a chance to sit down, Padme grabs it and pops the top, taking a long swig.
"Hey!" Anakin says, "Mine!"
"If you leave things on the table they'll get snatched." Padme says in a sing-song voice.
She pushes her chair away from the table slightly and Anakin sits down on her knee, like a St Bernard that thinks it's a lap dog.
"I am still working." Obi-Wan points out. "In case you hadn't noticed."
"So am I." Padme says innocently. She wraps one arm around Anakin's waist, using the other hand to type on her laptop. Anakin nuzzles into her, and she hums happily.
Obi-Wan doesn't say anything. His essay is on Sartre’s theories on sexual abuse, and he's slightly losing the will to live. Sometimes he wishes he'd never gotten into Philosophy.
"I have a question." Anakin says, interrupting the silence.
"Is it about the use of power suits in 1980's British politics?" Padme asks.
"No?" Anakin says.
"Then I probably don't have the answer." Padme teases and Anakin pulls a face.
"It's about my channel." He says. "The Emperor suggested something, and I need your opinion."
"I wish you knew his real name and we didn’t have to keep calling him The Emperor." Obi-Wan grumbles. "It makes me think you're talking about Napoleon, not an elderly man from Scotland."
Anakin ignores him. "He thinks I should wear a mask when I stream. Really lean into the whole aesthetic of being 'Darth Vader'." Anakin uses air quotes around the name. "Be spooky and scare people."
"But people already know what you look like." Padme says. "You use face cam."
"I know, but don't you think it would be cool?" Anakin asks. "The faceless Darth Vader. Who is he? Nobody knows."
"But we do know." Obi-Wan says. "You're a man with a scar down his face and hair that needs washing."
"I washed it four days ago!" Anakin protests.
"Gross." Padme wrinkles his nose. "I can't believe I let you sleep in the same bed as me."
"You two don't get it." Anakin takes his beer from the table and drinks it. "Don't you think it would be scary?"
"No." Padme says.
"Not at all." Obi-Wan adds.
"People like seeing your face." Padme tilts her head up to look at Anakin. “They don't want to see a masked figure. Plus, how would you speak?"
"I'd get a voice translator." Anakin replies.
"More money spent." Padme says pointedly.
"For good use." Anakin says.
"It's a bad idea Ani." Padme tugs him down to kiss him on the cheek. "Plus, I want to see your beautiful face when I watch your videos. So does Obi-Wan."
"Do I?" Obi-Wan asks.
Padme continues. "Plus, people like seeing their favourite creators. They want to know what they look like. I've seen people on The Emperor's screen demanding that he take his mask off so that they can actually see his face."
Anakin sighs. "Fine. I'll go tell The Emperor the bad news."
"And if he's got any problems with it, he'll have to answer to me." Padme says.
Obi-Wan smiles down at laptop keyboard. Padme may be small, but she is also terrifying.
"Okay." Anakin says. "Point taken."
"Wonderful." Padme closes her laptop screen. "I've been staring at this for too long. I'm going to make you wash your hair."
"It doesn't even smell!" Anakin protests.
"I'll wash it for you." Padme says, fixing Anakin with a look. "With my special shampoo and conditioner."
Anakin folds his arms. "Only if you blow dry it too."
"Deal." She says and stands up. "Good luck on your essay Obi-Wan."
"Thank you." Obi-Wan says, wishing he had a girlfriend or boyfriend to drag him away from work. "Enjoy taking your dog to the groomers."
Padme laughs, whilst Anakin makes a noise of outrage.
"I will." She says, and then waves her hand at Anakin. "Go get the water running."
Anakin doesn't need telling twice.
It's a couple of weeks later when Anakin barges into Obi-Wan's room. Obi-Wan, who is doing something, jumps and turns to look at him.
"Have you heard of knocking?" Obi-Wan asks politely.
"No." Anakin says. "Do you want to go get a drink?"
"Where's Padme?" Obi-Wan asks instead.
Anakin lays down on the bed and stares up at the ceiling. "She's having a girly sleepover with Sabé and Eirtaé." He says, sounding vaguely annoyed. "Without me."
"Anakin, why would you be invited to a girly sleepover?"
"I don't know!" Anakin complains. "They could have braided my hair or painted my nails."
Obi Wan looks down at Anakin's face. "Don't you think you're a little too attached to Padme?"
"No." Anakin says stubbornly. "She's my girlfriend."
"Yes, and she needs her own space." Obi-Wan sighs. "But I'll have a drink with you if you want."
Anakin pulls himself upright. "Do you want to go out? We could go to The Outlander club."
"I hate that club. It's full of people taking drugs."
"Yes, but I like it." Anakin says. "Come on. I'll pay for the first round of drinks."
"With all your amazing YouTube money?" Obi-Wan asks.
"Exactly." Anakin prods Obi-Wan in the side.
"Let me change my outfit." Obi-Wan says, "And then we'll go."
"You're a good friend." Anakin tells him, standing upright. "See you by the front door in five."
It's actually about ten minutes later when Obi-Wan is ready, dressed in brown chinos and a shirt that Padme bought for him. Anakin is hovering by the front door, dressed in customary black.
"You look like you're going to a funeral." Obi-Wan says.
"You look like one of Padme's mannequins." Anakin retorts.
"Touché." Obi-Wan and unlocks the front door. "Come on then."
They walk together side by side, even though Anakin is a little unsteady on his feet.
"Did you start without me?" Obi-Wan asks.
"Might have." Anakin says. "I had nothing else to do in my room."
"I thought you were meant to be practising for your big tournament?" Obi-Wan teases, but Anakin shrugs.
"I got distracted."
"You? Distracted? I never would have guessed." Obi-Wan says and Anakin huffs.
"Be nice to me. I'm buying you drinks."
"Yes, because you're forcing me out on a Wednesday night!" Obi-Wan says. "I hope it's not student night."
"That's Thursdays." Anakin says.
"How do you know that?"
"Ahsoka goes out sometimes." Anakin replies. "She drunk texts a lot."
"Ah." Obi-Wan says. "I don't think I've ever drunk texted someone."
"That's because you use ancient scrolls instead of texting." Anakin says.
"You send out carrier pigeons when you want to ask where I am." Anakin laughs as Obi-Wan storms off ahead. "Stop walking so fast!"
"I'm not that much of a dinosaur!" Obi-Wan calls over his shoulder, and Anakin runs to catch up.
The club is mildly busy, with mostly students that Obi-Wan recognises from campus. They get to the bar easily, and Anakin orders them both Lightsabres.
"You didn't even ask me what I wanted." Obi-Wan says as Anakin taps his credit card.
"You always order the same thing." Anakin says, "I thought I'd mix it up a bit."
Obi-Wan shakes his head and takes the drink from the bartender. It's a fluorescent red colour, with black sugar coating the rim of the glass.
"Is this safe?" He asks Anakin, who knocks his own back.
"Not dead yet!" Anakin replies cheerfully.
"Christ." Obi-Wan stares down at his drink, and then tastes a hesitant sip. It tastes of straight tequila and grenadine.
"What do you think?" Anakin asks.
“I’m not sure.” Obi-Wan says, just as the back of his throat starts to burn. “Oh God. What’s in this?”
“You don’t want to know.” Anakin says, and Obi-Wan hands his drink over to him. “You don’t want it?”
“Be my guest.” Obi-Wan says, and motions to the bartender. “I’m going to order us something that actually tastes good.”
“Your finest aged port, please Sir.” Anakin says in a bad impression of Obi-Wan’s voice.
“Insolent child.” Obi-Wan says and turns to the bartender. “Two Jack and Coke’s please.”
“Not what I was expecting.” Anakin says.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.”
“Like the fact that I enjoy Jack Daniels.” Obi-Wan says.
“I bet you were there when the original Jack invented it.” Anakin says as Obi-Wan pays for their drinks.
“You’ve got a mouth on you tonight.”
“I’ve always got a mouth on me.” Anakin takes his glass and drinks half of it at once.
They take a seat in one of the back-corner booths, Anakin stretched out on the seats like a snake. Obi-Wan nurses his drink, watching the groups of students attempt to flirt with one another.
“Were you and Padme ever like that?” Obi-Wan asks as a girl rejects a boy.
“No, I wooed her straight away.” Anakin says. “I called her an angel and she never looked back.”
“I didn’t realise you were Lord Byron.”
“I don’t know who that is.” Anakin says.
“How do you not know who Lord Byron is?” Obi-Wan says.
“Some of us fucked up our English GCSE’s,” Anakin informs him, “By drawing dicks all over their test paper.”
“How am I friends with you?” Obi-Wan asks.
“I’m pretty and I buy you drinks.” Anakin says, taking a sip.
“You’re my sugar daddy.”
Anakin snorts out Jack Daniels and Coke through his nose. “How do you know what that is?!”
Obi-Wan smirks and sips his drink. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
Anakin laughs, and throws one arm around Obi-Wan. “This is going to be a very good night.”
Obi-Wan doesn't know how late it is when they stumble out of the club, arms around each other. They've never touched so much before, but Anakin is warm against him, smelling of spiced cologne and something fruity.
"I can't even walk." Anakin laughs, leaning into Obi-Wan. "My legs have gone. And my arms."
"I am not carrying you home." Obi-Wan warns, and Anakin laughs again. "I'm not!"
"My prince charming." Anakin says and grins at Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan shakes his head, wrapping his arm around Anakin so he can direct him as they walk. He's never been more grateful that they live in the student district of the city, and everything is just a short walk away.
"Heyyy." Anakin says. "Did you know, my stormtroopers miss you?"
"Do they?" Obi-Wan asks, leading Anakin down the quiet road.
"Yeah." Anakin says. "They spam my chat, they ask, where is the beard guy! Where did he go! Is he still angry about the noise?"
Anakin looks at Obi-Wan, his face flushed. "Are you still angry about the noise?"
"No, I'm not." Obi-Wan says. "I wear ear plugs now."
"Like Padme." Anakin says. "You both block me out."
"Because you love screaming in the middle of the night." Obi-Wan reminds him. "But we listen to you during the day."
"You thought I was in pain." Anakin says, seemingly more to himself than Obi-Wan. "And you came to rescue me."
"It's becoming a theme." Obi-Wan says, dragging Anakin down the back alleyway. "You're a lightweight."
"I didn't start drinking till I was 17." Anakin complains. "You were - You were drinking whisky with your Dad when you were a child."
"It was Scotch actually." Obi-Wan corrects and Anakin laughs. "He said it was a distinguished gentleman drink."
"And are you a ...." Anakin clearly can't say the word distinguished and goes for, "Fire extinguisher gentleman?"
"I would like to think I am." Obi-Wan says.
They're coming up to their student house now, recycling bins set out for the morning. When did they ever get so domestic?
"I think you are." Anakin reaches out and touches the side of Obi-Wan. "I think you're a gentleman."
Anakin's hand is warm, and the skin is calloused. Obi-Wan stops dead, and almost drops Anakin. Luckily, he catches him at the last second, and they end up leaning against the wall outside their house.
Anakin looks at Obi-Wan and doesn’t speak. Obi-Wan realises he’s too close, he can smell the alcohol on Anakin’s breath, see the way that Anakin’s eyes are staring into his own.
“Obi-Wan.” Anakin says.
“Padme will be home tomorrow.” Obi-Wan says, and Anakin shuts his eyes. “You miss her.”
“It’s not like that.” Anakin says, “I’m not like that.”
“What are you like?” Obi-Wan asks before he can stop himself.
Anakin opens his eyes and pushes himself forward. He goes to kiss Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan still has the common sense to turn his face away. Anakin’s lips brush Obi-Wan’s cheek instead, but Obi-Wan wants to catch him by the sleeve and pull him closer. Anakin’s breath is hot against his face, and Obi-Wan steps away.
He silently unlocks the front door of Anakin’s house, and leaves Anakin on the doorstep outside.
Obi-Wan wakes up with a hangover. He lets out a long groan, rolling over and burying his face in the pillow. Even that simple action hurts, and Obi-Wan curses Anakin for dragging him out last night.
Oh god. Anakin.
Had they kissed last night? No, only on the cheek, but that was dangerous enough. Was that cheating? Had Obi-Wan just ruined Anakin and Padme’s relationship forever? Would Padme ever forgive him?
Are Anakin and Obi-Wan still friends?
He hears the front door open, and then slam shut again, the sound vibrating at the back of Obi-Wan’s brain.
“I’m home!” Padme calls. “Ani? Obi-Wan?”
Obi-Wan doesn’t answer. Instead he pulls the covers up over his head, comforted by the darkness. The noise is muffled too, Padme moving through the house until she opens up Anakin’s bedroom door. Obi-Wan hears them talking, and then the door is closed shut.
He wonders if Anakin is going to tell her about the kiss. Probably not. Anakin and Padme are hopelessly in love, Anakin would never ruin it.
His bedroom door opens and Obi-Wan sits bolt upright in bed, holding the covers up to his chest like a naked girl. The cat, Artoo, blinks at him, and then yowls.
“Thank goodness it’s you.” Obi-Wan tells him.
Artoo leisurely walks over to the bed, picking his way through the clothes that Obi-Wan stripped off last night. Artoo leaps up onto the bed, and pads over to Obi-Wan, mrowling all the while.
“Hello trouble.” Obi-Wan says.
Artoo sits down on Obi-Wan’s lap and Obi-Wan rubs him behind the ears.
“Why do you suddenly like me, hm?” Obi-Wan asks. “Is it because you know I’m about to get kicked out?”
If Anakin and Padme kick him out, where would he go? Obi-Wan isn’t that friendly with anyone on his course, nobody that could put him up at short notice. Maybe he’d have to ask his parents for a loan, find a studio flat somewhere. But who would have somewhere to let so far into the semester?
Artoo meows again and nuzzles his face against Obi-Wan’s hand. Obi-Wan scratches him underneath the chin and Artoo nibbles his palm with sharp teeth.
“Or are you just hungry?” Obi-Wan guesses. “Because Anakin is still in bed and hasn’t fed you yet?”
Artoo meows happily at the mention of food.
“Fine.” Obi-Wan says. “I’ll feed you.”
Obi-Wan slips out of bed, and then has to stand in the middle of the room whilst waiting for his head to stop spinning. He pulls his dressing gown on, wraps it tightly around his waist, and opens the bedroom door.
“Come on.” He says to Artoo. “Food time.”
Artoo springs off the bed, meowing. He wraps himself around Obi-Wan’s legs, purring happily, and then scampers off towards the kitchen. Obi-Wan follows, every footstep making his head thrum with pain.
“I’m suffering for you.” Obi-Wan tells Artoo, who leads him to cat food.
Obi-Wan fixes Artoo and Threepio a bowl of the finest Felix meaty chunks and sets them down on the mat. Artoo launches himself at it like the house haven’t fed him for months and begins to gobble it down.
“Manners, please.” Obi-Wan tells the cat.
Artoo ignores him and chokes on his chunks.
Obi-Wan leans against the kitchen counter and closes his eyes. He can see Anakin’s face coming closer to his own, the alcohol on his breath. Would he have done it? Could he have done it?
He thinks he could have done.
“Oh, you’re up!”
Obi-Wan starts and turns to see Padme in the doorway. She looks refreshed for someone who had a girl’s night out, immaculately dressed as always and hair braided up into a bun.
“I thought you’d still be asleep.” Padme says. “Thank you for feeding the cats.”
“Artoo bullied me into doing it.” Obi-Wan says. “I don’t know where Threepio is.”
“I think he’s hiding in Anakin’s wardrobe.” Padme says. “For some reason.”
She yawns, stretching her arms above her head. Her shirt rises up to reveal a strip of bare skin. Obi-Wan looks away. He needs a shower.
“Good night with your friends?” Obi-Wan asks.
“I’ve never drunk so much wine in my life.” Padme says, moving into the kitchen. “You should have seen Sabé, she fell asleep in the bathtub.”
“Why was she in the bathtub in the first place?”
“Honestly, I don’t even know.” Padme shakes her head. “I heard you and Anakin had a good night as well? Anakin was conked out when I came in, he only woke up when started unpacking my overnight bag.”
“Mm.” Obi-Wan replies, because he doesn’t know what Padme’s been told. “I have a headache.”
“Oh, you poor thing.” Padme reaches up before Obi-Wan can blink, feeling his head with the back of her palm. He leans into the touch without thinking, her skin is cool. “You seem hot. Have you taken anything?”
“Go back to bed, I’ll bring you paracetamol and water.” She says. “Do you want me to make you breakfast? I’m doing Anakin’s.”
“How is he?” Obi-Wan asks.
“About the same.” Padme wrinkles her nose. “Feeling sorry for himself. Day in bed I’m thinking.”
“I think he may have overdone it last night.” Obi-Wan admits.
“That’s Anakin.” Padme says with a smile. “Do you want toast or eggs?”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course.” Padme says. “You’d do the same for me.”
Obi-Wan realises that he would. “Obviously. Toast please, then. Just butter.”
“You like it on the cusp of being burnt, don’t you?”
“You know my toast order?”
“Yes.” Padme says, like it’s obvious, then reaches out and touches his arm. “Go back to bed Obi-Wan. I’ll bring it in to you once it’s done.”
“Okay.” Obi-Wan says and follows her instructions.
Obi-Wan and Anakin don’t talk for two weeks. They eat breakfast in separate rooms, Anakin walks Padme to class by himself, Obi-Wan doesn’t even watch any of Anakin’s streams. Obi-Wan thinks it’s the longest they’ve ever gone without speaking since they first became friends.
They don’t even text.
Obi-Wan doesn’t like it.
He’s writing an essay at his desk when the door bursts open and Anakin storms into the room. Obi-Wan opens his mouth to speak but Anakin pulls Obi-Wan up from his chair by the back of his shirt.
“What on earth-“ Obi-Wan starts, just as Anakin punches him in the face.
The pain is immeasurable. Obi-Wan crumples to the floor, clutching his nose, feeling the wet between his fingers of blood. He tries to speak, but the only noise that comes out of his mouth is a whimper.
“How could you do that to me!” Anakin yells. “You know how much that channel means to me!”
Obi-Wan blinks back tears and looks up at Anakin. “What are you talking about?”
“I stayed out of your way; I didn’t message you- Is this some sort of sick revenge?” Anakin demands.
“You just hit me!” Obi-Wan says stupidly, withdrawing his hands from his face. They’re stained with blood. “I think you’ve broken my nose!”
“Good.” Anakin snarls. “You deserve it!”
“I haven’t done anything!” Obi-Wan says. “I didn’t tell anyone about the kiss-“
“It wasn’t even a kiss!” Anakin waves his arms in the air. “It wasn’t even that much of a deal! But you took it fucking out of proportion and you froze my channel, for fucking what? Because you’re a homophobic asshole?”
“I haven’t done anything to your channel!” Obi-Wan argues. “I don’t even know how!”
“Liar!” Anakin exclaims, and Obi-Wan narrowly avoids being kicked by him.
Padme appears in the doorway and gasps, covering her mouth with her hands. “What on earth is going on?!”
Anakin turns angrily. “Don’t take his side.”
“What did you do?!” She shrieks, rushing into the room and dropping down beside Obi-Wan. “Anakin, did you hit him!?”
“He deserved it.” Anakin spits.
Padme carefully touches Obi-Wan’s nose and Obi-Wan hisses in pain, pulling away from her. Her face falls, and she pulls a handkerchief from her pocket to try and dab away the blood.
“What happened?” Padme demands.
“Anakin’s gone mad.” Obi-Wan says.
“I haven’t!” Anakin thrusts his finger towards Obi-Wan. “He’s frozen my YouTube channel and changed all the passwords, so I don’t have control anymore!”
“Anakin, I couldn’t even set up an account!” Obi-Wan raises his voice. “How could I have done all that?!”
“I think we need to go to A&E.” Padme interrupts. “This looks serious.”
“You took revenge because I tried to kiss you when I was drunk!” Anakin announces to the room. “By hurting the only fucking thing that matters to me!”
“Anakin!” Obi-Wan says incredulously. “I’m bisexual- I like men! I’m not homophobic!”
Anakin stops mid rant. “What?”
Padme gives a small cry of frustration and pulls Obi-Wan to his feet. “I told you he liked men.” She says Anakin. “But you wouldn’t listen to me.”
“Wait.” Obi-Wan looks at Padme. “You knew we almost kissed?”
“Yes.” She says, like it’s obvious. “Anakin told me the morning after.”
Obi-Wan turns to Anakin. “You told her?!”
“Obviously!” Anakin protests. “I tell her everything!”
Obi-Wan goes to bury his face in his hands and then remembers his nose is broken. “And you thought that I hated gay people and that’s why I was ignoring you- Not that I was worried that you’d cheated on your girlfriend and our whole lives would be ruined if she found out?”
“Oh.” Anakin says. “Is that why you were ignoring me?”
“Yes!” Obi-Wan says. “You idiot!”
Anakin looks down at his feet. “So you didn’t hack my channel?”
“Of course not!” Obi-Wan says.
“So who did?” Anakin asks.
They both look at Padme who blinks.
“Why would I hack your channel?” She says. “I don’t care about you two kissing.”
“You don’t?” Obi-Wan asks, alarmed.
Padme shakes her head and turns to Anakin.
“Show me your computer.” She says. “Let’s get to the bottom of this.”
Obi-Wan lays on Padme and Anakin’s bed with a frozen packet of peas resting on his nose. It’s numbing the pain very nicely, and he can almost forget that his best friend punched him in the face.
Artoo and Threepio are sitting on Obi-Wan’s chest, nuzzling against him. Obi-Wan’s heard that cats can understand pain, but he’s never seen it in action. Threepio, who thinks Obi-Wan is the Croydon Cat Killer, is currently licking Obi-Wan’s neck like they’re best friends.
Padme and Anakin are leaning over Anakin’s computer screen, muttering to each other. They’ve figured out that somebody has figured out the password to Anakin’s email account that’s linked to his YouTube channel, and taken control of the account.
“But who could have figured out the password?” Anakin complains. “It was something personal- and I never talk about personal stuff online.”
“Let me guess, your password was I Love Padme?” Obi-Wan says from the bed. Padme gave him a lot of painkillers and it’s taking effect.
Anakin ignores him. “Ahsoka might have figured it out but she wouldn’t do something like this.”
“Have you messaged her?” Padme asks.
“Yeah. She’s trying to figure out the IP address of the last person who logged into my channel.” Anakin runs a hand through his hair. “Fuck. I could lose everything.”
“We’ll figure it out.” Padme says, resting a hand on Anakin’s arm comfortingly. “And you could always set up a second channel. Your fans would follow you there.”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t have as many subscribers as I do now.”
“You’d make up the numbers.” Padme reaches up and kisses him. “You’re good like that.”
Anakin gives Padme a soft smile and Obi-Wan carefully moves the cats off his chest. They meow angrily but let Obi-Wan sit upright.
“Have they posted anything on your channel?” Obi-Wan asks.
“No.” Anakin says. “Which makes it worse. I want to know what they want.”
“What, like a ransom note?” Obi-Wan says. “Darth Vader or your life?”
“Not like that.” Anakin says, and rolls his eyes. “Like a payment for the channel back.”
“You think they want money?” Obi-Wan asks.
“Would you give them money?” Obi-Wan continues.
“Maybe.” Anakin says, and Padme shakes her head.
“You can’t. It’ll just make people try and do it again if you keep forking out cash.”
Anakin’s phone beeps just as he’s about to reply. He swipes it from the desk and reads the message, brow furrowed.
“Who is it?” Padme asks.
“Ahsoka.” Anakin replies. “She says she’s found the IP address from the last known log on.”
“And?” Obi-Wan asks. “Where is it?”
“The Outer Hebrides.” Anakin says and looks around. “Where the fuck is that?”
“Off the West Coast of Mainland Scotland.” Padme says.
“That’s odd.” Obi-Wan says. “I didn’t even know they had stable internet connection there. Anakin, do you know anyone from there?”
Anakin shakes his head, biting at the nails of his hand. “I don’t think so?”
“Are there even any young people living on random islands in Scotland?” Obi-Wan asks. “I thought it was just old farmers and several sheep.”
“And puffins.” Anakin says. “I like puffins.”
Padme makes a soft noise and very slowly turns to face Anakin.
“Anakin,” She says quietly. “Where’s your friend The Emperor from?”
“Somewhere in Scotland.” Anakin replies nonchalantly. “I don’t know exactly where.”
Obi-Wan and Padme look at him.
“Oh.” Anakin says. “Fuck.”
The Emperor is exactly as Obi-Wan imagined him, small, wrinkly, and shrouded in darkness on the other end of the Skype call.
"Anakin," He says, and his voice is crackly. "And friends."
Anakin is practically vibrating with anger. He's sitting in the middle of Padme and Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan has pressed himself against Anakin to ground him. It's like sitting next to a swarm of bees.
"You hacked into my email address." Anakin says. "And you stole my channel. Why?"
The Emperor lets out a long sigh. "So you realised it was me?"
"We tracked your IP address." Anakin says.
"My friends figured it out." Anakin says, and he sounds vaguely proud. "You're not as smart as you think you are."
"Hmm." The Emperor says. "So why have you called me?"
"I want my channel back." Anakin says.
"You don't know the power you have." The Emperor sniffs. "I had to take the channel from you. You could do so much more."
"Brand deals. Sponsorships. Professional tournaments." The Emperor says. "I could make you a millionaire. No, a billionaire."
"I don't want to be a billionaire." Anakin says. "I'm happy as I am."
"Really?" The Emperor asks. "That's not what you said a couple of months ago."
Anakin bristles. "Things have changed."
"You said everyone was holding you back." The Emperor says slyly. "That your girlfriend was stopping you from taking brand deals, and Obi-Wan wouldn't stop complaining."
Padme leans forward so that The Emperor can see her properly.
"Anakin isn't going to whore his channel out." She says firmly. "He has to be real to his audience."
"His Stormtroopers would be nothing without me." The Emperor says, and Obi-Wan snorts at the name. "Something funny?"
"I just think this whole thing is ridiculous." Obi-Wan says. "This is all because of a computer game?"
"Battle of The Republic isn't just a computer game." The Emperor says indignantly. "It's our entire lives."
"You are a man in your 70's." Obi-Wan says. "That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The Emperor looks at Anakin. “See? They don’t understand. This is why I needed to take your channel, to prove that I am the only person who cares about you.”
“We care about Anakin!” Padme interjects. “We support him, and we love him. You only care about ‘Darth Vader’, and how he can influence you.”
“They don’t get it,” The Emperor continues, “You and Darth Vader are one and the same. You cannot have one without the other.”
Anakin is quiet.
Obi-Wan clears his throat. “I like you as Anakin, and Darth Vader.” He says.
Anakin looks at him.
Obi-Wan continues. “I like watching you stream. I like being in the same room as you when you’re gaming. I like it when you get annoyed and have to pace around before you can continue fighting.”
“I like that too.” Padme joins in. “When you make a clever move and make happy noises. Or when you chat to your followers on Twitch and make sure everyone is okay.”
Anakin gives the sort of smile that makes Obi-Wan want to bury his face in Anakin’s shoulder in delight. Instead he smiles back at Anakin, and at Padme.
“Pathetic.” The Emperor grumbles. “The three of you. Useless.”
Anakin’s phone bleeps from the desk. He picks it up, reads the message, and then looks at The Emperor.
“My friend has just found out where you live, where you work, and the name of your new-born grandchild.”
“And?” The Emperor asks, but he looks a little pale.
“She says she’ll leak them online unless you give me full control of your channel back.” Anakin says, and studies The Emperor. “What will it be, Sheev?”
The Emperor makes a noise like a cat being strangled. Anakin grins at his reflection in the monitor, and Obi-Wan pities the parents who named their child Sheev.
Two hours, three arguments and a doxing threat to a Mr Palpatine later, Obi-Wan and Anakin are sitting in an A&E waiting room. Padme is at home, uploading Anakin’s explanation vlog and working on damage control.
“So,” Obi-Wan says after they’ve sat in silence for a good ten minutes. “Padme didn’t mind the kissing?”
“Uh, no.” Anakin replies. “She likes you.”
“Is this a regular thing? You kissing boys?”
The tips of Anakin’s ears go pink. “No. It’s just you.”
“Mm.” Anakin agrees and looks down at his feet. “Like I said. She likes you.”
“Likes me.... The same way that you like me?”
“Yes.” Anakin says.
Obi-Wan blinks. “I see.”
“It’s okay if you don’t.” Anakin says quickly. “If you think it’s weird. We discussed it- We don’t mind if you don’t like it.”
Obi-Wan thinks about Anakin and Padme, the three of them curled up together on the sofa watching television, making food for one another, hanging out in the university spaces.
It would be so easy to slip into something more.
“I like it.” Obi-Wan says. “You, and Padme.”
“You can’t have one without the other.” Anakin says, a smile playing on his face.
“Like Artoo and Threepio.” Obi-Wan says, and this time Anakin laughs.
“Exactly.” He says, and then studies Obi-Wan’s face. “I’m sorry I broke your nose.”
“We don’t know if you have yet.” Obi-Wan says. “Could be a fracture.”
“Yeah, but it’s more likely I broke it.” Anakin says.
“I heard a crooked nose is very handsome these days.” Obi-Wan says.
“You were handsome beforehand.” Anakin tells him. “Pre-nose.”
“Oh, was I?” Obi-Wan asks and Anakin grins.
Obi-Wan reaches out silently and rubs his thumb over the back of Anakin’s hand. Anakin is still, and then places his other hand over Obi-Wan’s own. They stay like that for a little while, holding each other, before the nurse steps into the waiting room.
“Mr Kenobi?” She calls.
Obi-Wan stands upright, motioning to himself. Anakin stands too, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“Only family are allowed in with the patient, I’m afraid.” The nurse says, smiling at them both.
“That’s okay.” Obi-Wan says before Anakin can speak. “We’re family.”
“Perfect.” The nurse says. “If you’d like to follow me?”
Obi-Wan and Anakin fall into step behind her. Obi-Wan can feel Anakin’s eyes on him, and he turns just before they walk into the doctor’s office together.
“Come along Anakin.” Obi-Wan says and holds out his hand.
Anakin takes it and squeezes it tight.