“I hear you got into a fight again today.”
His Master looked disappointed but resigned, and oh, that stung.
He’d had to defend himself.
“I didn’t start it!”
Tone dry, Obi-Wan said, “No one ever does, and yet they still happen.”
“What do you know about it, anyway?” muttered Anakin resentfully, scuffing a booted foot against the floor. “You were a perfect padawan, probably just like Ferus karking Olin.”
His Master’s eyebrows shot up nearly to his hairline, but the rest of his face remained frozen. Then his mouth began to twitch.
“My very young apprentice, what lies have you been told about me as a youngling?” Obi-Wan said, hand rising to cover his smile.
Anakin wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting – lectures, sighs of disapproval, scolding for his language – but it hadn’t been this.
“They’re always talking about how conscientious you were ‘n stuff.”
“Mmm.” Obi-Wan’s eyes were bright with mirth. “I… suppose so. But that’s only part of the picture. Anakin, I was far from the paragon that you’re doubtlessly imagining. Hasn’t anyone ever told you what terrible trouble I had controlling my temper? How impulsive I was? The number of fights I got into?”
Anakin’s eyes widened.
He couldn’t get his head around it. His Master was one of the most frustratingly levelheaded people he’d ever known. Even when Obi-Wan was angry, he acted all calm and cool and distant – which made his reprimands sting all the more.
“Sit, Padawan,” Obi-Wan said, patting the spot on the mat next to him.
“My failure to release my temper meant that I nearly didn’t get chosen as a padawan at all. I’ve learned control over the years, Anakin, as will you, but hopefully you at least won’t have to learn it the hard way.”
Anakin was still trying to reconcile the calm Master he knew (thought he knew) with the image that his Master was presenting him with.
Then one of Obi-Wan’s earlier sentences sunk in.
“Wait… you almost didn’t get chosen as a padawan? What were those wermos – blind?”
Anakin thought he registered a quick glint of – warmth? gratitude? something like that anyway – mixed in with the surprise and disapproval, but it was gone so fast that he couldn’t be sure.
“It is each Knight and Master’s right to decide whether or not to take a padawan,” Obi-Wan said in mild reproof. “And in retrospect, I can see that their worries about me were not without justification.”
Well that was just bantha podoo.
Anakin’s voice was full of righteous indignation on his Master’s behalf as he said, “Just because you got a little angry now and then doesn’t mean you were dangerous.”
“On the contrary. Anger leads to hate. Hate –”
“– leads to suffering, yeah, yeah, I know.”
His Master sighed.
There it was! A normal reaction.
“It wasn’t because I felt angry, Anakin; it was about how I chose to handle it. We are not saints, but seekers. No one can never get angry; but we are all capable of letting go of our anger.”
Now it was Anakin’s turn to sigh.
Not this again.
Next thing, Obi-Wan was going to say that this was why it was important –
“That is one reason why meditation is so important. As Jedi, we are but instruments of the Force. It is only by acknowledging our Oneness with the Force that we are able to release our feelings and gain new insight.”
Yeah, Anakin had heard this before.
“So you mediated loads when you were my age then?” he asked, hoping to interrupt the familiar lecture.
He couldn’t even imagine how much meditating someone would have to do to go from the way Obi-Wan described himself as a kid to how he was today.
A spark of humor crept back into Obi-Wan’s eyes, almost as though he’d heard Anakin’s thoughts.
“You could say that,” he said. “But it was rarely by choice.”
Now that Anakin could understand.
“Qui-Gon took a particular pleasure in having me meditate… for my own good, of course.”
His tone was fondly reminiscent, and Anakin hung on eagerly to every word. His Master rarely talked about Qui-Gon – or about himself, for that matter.
(Besides, maybe if he got Obi-Wan talking long enough, he’d forget about punishing Anakin for fighting.)
“I regret to say that I did not acutely appreciate Qui-Gon’s enthusiasm for meditation at the time, let alone the locations that he picked. Once, he had me meditate atop a rickety stool out of doors. We were on a tropical planet at the time, and between the heat, humidity, and frankly ridiculous number of insects out for my blood, I thought I’d never be able to reach a proper meditative state.”
“And?” Anakin asked when Obi-Wan paused, seemingly lost in the memory.
“I won’t lie to you; it was dreadful,” said Obi-Wan. “And every time I so much as twitched my pinky, Qui-Gon reset the amount of meditation time I had left.”
“Yes, I felt that way too at the time,” said Obi-Wan, lips quirking upwards in a wry half-smile. “I sat out there for more hours than I care to remember. But eventually it reached a point where I could… not ignore, precisely, but… embrace and transcend the physical discomfort of my body to accomplish my task. I had heard Master Yoda’s speech about how we are more than ‘crude matter’ many times, but it was only then that I truly understood it.”
Yeah, that sounded like a load of bumblefluffing flarg.
Pushing past pain to do what was necessary was one thing; Anakin had plenty of experience at that from his years as a slave. But to embrace pain – and for the sake of meditation? That was just crazy talk.
No sooner had he finished this thought than shame flooded his veins, and despair followed shortly on its heels.
I’m never gonna be the Jedi they all want.
Anger came next.
And why should I be, huh? I’ll be a different sort of Jedi, that’s all. A better one. I’m already better than half of ‘em anyway! Even the Chancellor can see that, so why can’t they?
He snapped back to attention when he realized that Obi-Wan was speaking to him.
Sithspit. Well, when in doubt:
Fortunately, Obi-Wan didn’t seem to notice that he hadn’t been following.
“That’s a very mature attitude, Anakin. I’m glad to hear it.”
His stomach sank like a stone.
What, precisely, had he just agreed to?
“Master Tachi and I will arrange a time for the two of you to meet.”
“And in the meantime, I think you might benefit from an extra half hour of meditation every morning for the next two weeks, and an extra mile of running as well. Clearly I am not doing my job properly if you have enough time and energy to get into all of these fights.”
This was better than being made to apologize to prissy Ferus, but not by much.
He sputtered in horror. “But –”
“What? You didn’t think I’d go easy on you just because I got into fights at your age too, did you?”
As a matter of fact, he hadn’t, but he had hoped that Obi-Wan might have forgotten about the incident altogether. But his Master was like a womp rat with a profogg between its teeth when it came to this sort of thing, apparently.
His voice sounded sullen even to his ears, but if Obi-Wan was going to inflict this sort of torture on him, Anakin intended to see to it that his Master suffered every bit as much.
“Really, Anakin, you’d think I was sentencing you to a month of hard labor in the Mirkanite mines of Mustafar from the way you’re acting,” Obi-Wan said, tone sharp with exasperation.
“I think I’d prefer it,” Anakin mumbled quietly… but not quietly enough, if the look Obi-Wan gave him was anything to go by.
“Think of this as an opportunity to improve your perspective on life,” Obi-Wan added, eyes glinting as though at some private joke.
His Master had better not be laughing at him.
“I ‘spose I’m restricted to our rooms for the rest of the evening?”
“I’ve trained you well, I see,” said Obi-Wan dryly. “Have you had dinner yet?”
And wasn’t that a piece of goola luck. Jedi seemed to think going without food every now and then was character-building or some such poodoo.
Anakin was never going to understand these people.
“I’ll bring you something back from the dining hall when I go, then. In the meantime, I’m sure you have classwork…”
He let the words trail off leadingly.
Huh. Guess he cares about me after all. A little bit, anyway.
Obi-Wan raised a pale ginger brow inquisitively when Anakin didn’t respond.
“Right. Yeah. I do.”
He fumbled in his pockets for his datapad.
As he made his way to his bedroom – the bed was the best place to study, Anakin didn’t care what Obi-Wan said about it – he added,
“I’m awful fond of puff cake, you know.”
“It’s ‘awfully fond’, and good try, Padawan.”