Author's Note: As my first fanfic ("Qui-Gon's Heirs") was – more or less – a standard AU (Qui-Gon lives, early Vader redemption etc.), I was looking for a new AU scenario, which has not been done so often yet, and so I came up with one where Anakin and Obi-Wan are of the same age and grow up together in the Temple. Obviously, this will change a few things, so be warned: If you're looking for a story where Anakin is a headstrong Padawan and Obi-Wan is his strict Jedi Master – then you're wrong here. Both of them will sometimes act out of character (compared to the movies) but I think they're still recognisable.
I use characters and scenes from episodes one to three and also from some books (like Jedi apprentice). I only use OCs if it's absolutely necessary for the plot or the narrative point of view – like in this prologue: I could hardly have written this from Anakin's or Obi-Wan's point of view, right?
It was night on Coruscant. But the bustling city never rested. Traffic lights illuminated the huge skyscrapers, neon advertisement holograms flared up every few seconds and for the bar keepers, club owners and other – much more dubious – people in the lower levels, the day started just now. Being a multi-species world, Coruscant housed also several species which were nocturnal. So the fact that the Coruscanti suns had set did not mean there was silence, darkness and peace in the city.
There was, however, one place on Coruscant which was very different: The Jedi Temple. Huge and majestic it loomed over the city, both imposing and calming to the spectator's eye. A foreign building in the life radiating around it. And so were its inhabitants. Many myths entwined around them. Legends. Wizards, serene warriors, grim religious from another time and place. Somehow they seemed to be above everything. Above the Coruscanti business and agitation.
Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn did not agree to that. He thought the truth was much simpler. The Jedi believed in the importance of peace and rest for both the body and the mind. The Jedi listened to their body, to their feelings and to the midi-chlorians, which incessantly and gently whispered to them about the will of the Force.
This was because the Jedi Temple was silent. The lights were turned off and thick jalousies blocked out the Coruscanti lights and noises. Above them, beneath them, around them and between them, the Force swayed peacefully, covering them all like a large, soft blanket. Everyone was asleep. Almost everyone.
Grand Jedi Master Yoda sat deep in meditation. The Force told him something (or someone) was arriving. It was coming closer and closer. It was neither good nor bad. It was the will of the Force. The will of the Force was neither good nor bad – it just was. But Master Yoda felt it was something important.
In another room, a young Padawan lay sleeplessly in bed. It was his first night in his new room. Xanatos – no, Padawan deCrion, he corrected himself, smiling happily at the dark ceiling – was still overexcited from last day's events. He had been chosen a Padawan by Qui-Gon Jinn. Smiling proudly to himself, Padawan deCrion reached out with his "tentacles" in the Force in order to sense his Master's presence in the room next door. Assured his Master was still there and this was reality and not just a pleasant dream, he turned around in his bed, wondering what the next day would bring. His first day as a Padawan. He knew he would make a good Padawan. No, the best Padawan ever. Master Qui-Gon was going to be so proud of him...
Another Jedi, Srilt Ma'Lia, custodian of the Jedi crèche, was still awake too. Srilt Ma'Lia (often called "Father Lia") was responsible for the youngest of the Jedi, the babies who were brought to the Temple from all ends of the galaxy when their Force-sensitivity was discovered by a Jedi. Srilt had been woken by a soft whimper from one of his protégés, a human boy called Obi-Wan Kenobi. Little Obi-Wan had caught a cold, probably on his way to the Temple when Master Dooku had brought him here five days ago. Srilt's ears were extra-sensitive: He jumped at the smallest noise because one crying youngling could easily wake up the whole crèche and that was something Srilt liked to avoid. Although he had six arms and could so carry several younglings at a time, it was difficult to calm all of them down. Obi-Wan's forehead felt hot. Srilt brought him some warm milk to drink. Before he had reached Obi-Wan's cot, the bottle was being pulled out of his hands by the Force and flew towards Obi-Wan's little, greedy, outstretched hands. Millimetres before Obi-Wan could grab it, the bottle turned upside down and some milk spilled on the floor. Srilt Force-caught it and handed it to Obi-Wan, who thirstily poured it down immediately.
Srilt chuckled softly. "Well, little one, you need a bit more control if you want to do something like that." Obi-Wan, however, paid more attention to his milk than to Srilt. He emptied the bottle quickly and then coughed and burped a bit. Srilt took the bottle from his hands, pulled the blanket around Obi-Wan's body and sent him calming waves through the Force. When Obi-Wan had fallen asleep again, Srilt went to bed too. But not for long. Soon he was woken up again by someone screaming. But it was distant. Probably Bruck Chun. Last night, he had simply wandered off. That was something that happened frequently. No cot with bars could help against the younglings' Force-sensitivity. Normally, the Force would warn him early enough if someone from his protégés left their bed. This time, however, he did not recognise the Force signature. The screaming got nearer. It was definitely a human baby. Already someone new again? Srilt hurried of into the direction of the screams. When he turned a corner in the dark hallways of the Temple, he saw a small shadow quickly moving down the hallway towards him. Srilt lifted up his glowstick. Its orange flicker illuminated the bent figure of Master Yaddle. She was carrying a bundle in her arms, which was screaming at the top of its lungs. Yaddle hobbled up towards him and pushed the baby into his lowest pair of arms. Srilt immediately started a cradling movement, sent calming waves through the Force and murmured soothing words. In most cases that helped. Not with this one, however. But Srilt had seen many complicated babies before. He was not so easily discouraged.
"Well, little one, what's wrong with you? Are you hungry?" The baby simply cried more loudly. Most of it sounded like "Mum". "Of course you miss your parents," Srilt gently told it. It was a normal thing. Most of the babies cried for their parents during the first days. "But you'll get over it. You'll see, it's nice here. Now I'm going to be there for you."
"Calm him, you can?" Master Yaddle asked above the screams. "Show him to the Council, I must."
Srilt frowned. That was unusual. Why would Yaddle bring a baby before the Council? "Can't it wait a little longer? I bet the journey has been exhausting to the little one. He needs a bit of rest. Why is it so important to show him to the Council?"
"Feel it, you do not? Strong the Force is in this one. Stronger than usually."
"Is it?" Srilt had not remarked something special about the baby yet. It surely had strong lungs, but right now it was difficult to sense if it was unusually strong in the Force.
"Examined his midi-chlorian account, I have. Very high it is, hmm, very high indeed. Heard about the prophecy you have?"
Srilt helplessly shook his head. There were many Jedi prophecies. Right now, his mind was too busy to calm down the crying infant in his arms, to wonder about prophecies. "Master Yaddle, what is his – you said he was a boy, right? – name?"
"Well, hello, Anakin Skywalker." Srilt held the glowstick up in order to take a closer look at Anakin. He was wrapped into a thin, dirty, grey blanket. His face was contorted because he was still screaming like mad and so Srilt could not really determine what he looked like. "I'm going to bring him to the crèche now," he told Yaddle. "Master, if there's anything important you want to discuss concerning him, I suggest you come back tomorrow. Presenting him to the Council in his current state probably wouldn't help anyone."
"Hmm." Yaddle nodded. "Come back, I will. May the Force be with you."
"And with you too."
Srilt carried Anakin along the hallways, humming soft lullabies. It did not help. Then he fed him and changed the diapers. It did not help either. When he searched the crèche for new clothes for Anakin, Anakin's high pitched cries woke up Obi-Wan too. He joined in the crying. A few moments later, the whole dormitory – that is eleven younglings – were crying in unison. To make matters worse, the whole Jedi Council decided to enter the room in that instant. Srilt hastily bowed to them while busily hurrying around the room, four younglings in his arms, trying to soothe everyone at the same time. Some of the dignified Jedi Master shrunk back from the noise. Master Yoda, however, walked unperturbedly through the room, hitting his gimer stick against the bars of a bed and telling the youngling to be quiet. Which, miraculously, even worked – though only for a little moment.
"We'd like to examine the new Jedi brought here by Master Yaddle," Master Dooku declared imperiously.
"Sure. It's the one who screams the most loudly," Srilt said and showed them towards the bed where he had just laid down little Anakin. The boy just screamed more loudly when twelve Jedi Masters gathered around his bed and stared down at him.
"Quiet you be, young one," Yoda told him gently. "Sad you are? Angry you are? Hmm, peaceful the Force is. Listen to it, you will learn. The –" Next moment, the Grand Jedi Master flew backwards in a crazy arc and smashed against another bed (making the infant who lay within scream madly, of course). Alarmed, the other eleven Masters immediately drew their lightsabers in one swift move. Yoda, however, just cackled.
"Hohoho, strong the Force is in this one." He hobbled back to Anakin's bed. Meanwhile, the other Masters relaxed and switched off their lightsabers. "Taught old Yoda an important lesson, you have. Never underestimate a youngling, I must. Never underestimate someone who looks small, I must. Hehehe. Not in the present, my mind was. Hmm. Wandered off to your future, my thoughts have. Hmm." He turned to look at the other Masters. "The Chosen One, he may be. But, for now, a little boy he is. Sleep he needs, rest he needs. Disturb him and the other younglings – and Father Lia – we should not." Srilt nodded gratefully. He was starting to worry for Anakin. His face had already turned an unhealthy colour of dark red. Yoda walked out of the room. Trying to look dignified and respectful, the other Masters followed in a row. Srilt knew most of them were either puzzled or just relieved to leave this place full of bawling infants. To Srilt, however, there was no better place in the galaxy – no matter how much the infants screamed. He had started as a Jedi Knight who went on missions too. But then he had lost his Padawan in a battle. She had been only fifteen. It sometimes happened that Padawans lost their Masters. But rarely a Master lost his Padawan. Because a Master was meant to protect his Padawan with his life. Srilt had failed in doing so. It was then that he had sworn to never go on a battlefield again. Afterwards, he had worked as a healer for a few months. But there he had seen many more wounded Padawans and Masters. Too many. Too many battle injuries, too much blood, too many tears. There had been some for whom any help had been too late. Srilt had been forced to helplessly watch them die. And that's how he had ended up here, in the crèche. Every day, he thanked the Force for bringing him here. He never complained about being woken up at obnoxious times at night, he did not mind changing stinking diapers, he had no problems with cleaning up the mess the infants created while eating or even their puke. There were of course other things he preferred: feeding them, playing with them, singing them lullabies...
With two younglings in his arms, Srilt went into the little kitchen in order to make some warm milk, honey-tea, sprinkling saltwater, bamboo beer or dactyl – he knew each of his protégé's favourite. Mixing all the different drinks took some time of course but Srilt had perfected the task over the years. Anakin was human – so it was one more bottle of milk... Suddenly, Srilt stopped in his task. Something was wrong. Frowning very hard, he tried to decipher what it was. The Force was perfectly calm... wait, calm?!
He went into the dormitory. Miraculously, everyone had calmed down. Some were still whimpering softly but most of them were babbling happily: "Mum", "milk", "Lia", "Force", "honey", Yoda", "baboobeer", "Daddy" or each other's names. Bruck Chun was doing a new attempt to escape his bed: He whirled above the bars, landed on the floor and bounced up and down like a bouncy rubber ball, giggled madly and crawled off. Chuckling to himself, Srilt grabbed him with one free arm and put him back to bed. "If you go on like that, I'll have to bind you to your bed", he told the little boy. Bruck just stared innocently at him and kept on giggling. Srilt checked on Anakin next – and two pairs of blue eyes stared back at him. Obviously, Obi-Wan had crawled into Anakin's bed while Srilt had made them something to drink. It was a cute sight of course, but Srilt did not like it if the younglings decided to huddle together in one bed. Because – normally – it meant just one of them was going to sleep under the blanket and the other was most likely to get a cold. In addition to that, Obi-Wan was already ill.
"Sorry, you two," Srilt said apologetically, "but you can't sleep in one bed. Obi-Wan is ill and if you stay so close together, he's going to infect you, Anakin." With that, he lifted Obi-Wan out of Anakin's bed. The two boys started protesting at once and the rest of the dormitory chorused in their screaming. As Srilt had expected Anakin's Force-push, he was able to block it. Still, he was impressed of the little boy's strength. He had never seen someone his age who had such powers. Anakin's powers, however, did not stop him from screaming as if his life was being threatened. Oh dear, he is a difficult one. Unexpectedly, Obi-Wan, who was still on Srilt's arm, bit with his two tiny, little teeth into Srilt's arm. "Hey, that's not a nice thing to do," Srilt chastised the squirming boy. Until now, Obi-Wan had not been one of the difficult ones. A little whiny sometimes and then he had had that cold, but not complicated.
Srilt was said to be a very patient man. Tonight, however, when he had fed all the infants with their favourite drinks, had sung all the lullabies he knew and had carried all of them around the room again and again, and they still did not stop screaming, he gave up.
"Alright, alright," he grumbled and put Obi-Wan into Anakin's bed again, enwrapping ill Obi-Wan carefully in his own blanket. Anakin grasped Obi-Wan's arm very tightly and, for a moment, Srilt feared he might broke Obi-Wan's arm with his uncontrolled Force abilities. When Obi-Wan, however, did not complain, Srilt was relieved and let them be. Half an hour later, the whole dormitory had calmed down again and Srilt was even more relieved. Tiredly, he worked a circuit again, assuring each youngling was well. This was why he liked his job so much. Having hard days but seeing them sleep peacefully, some chewing on their tentacles, others mumbling in their sleep, some snuffling and some emitting little clouds of steam out of their nostrils. Srilt stopped at the bed in which Anakin and Obi-Wan slept. Anakin still clung tightly to Obi-Wan's arm while Obi-Wan had pulled half of Anakin's blanket around himself. Sighing, Srilt put Anakin back under the blanket. It was too late to separate them now. The two had already bonded. It was unusual for babies to bond at such an early age. But then again – Anakin definitely was an unusual boy with unusual abilities. Srilt wondered what the Jedi Masters had been so excited about. What was it that Master Yoda had said? Something about the Chosen One, yes, and Yaddle had talked about a prophecy. Srilt had put his priorities in other domains than Force philosophy. After all, when spending time with Force-sensitive babies from all different species, nothing could really surprise you anymore. And still, somehow they managed to surprise him every day anew. Srilt thought they all were special – whether Chosen One or not. Each and every one of them was very, very special.