Title: It's The Thought That Counts
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story or the world in which they belong to that honor goes to Mr. George Lucas.
Summary: On the day of his 10th Birthday Anakin wonders what, if anything, Obi-Wan will get him and as he braces himself for disappointment he realizes that not all gifts are material or even tangible…
Author's Note: As November comes to a close I've decided to give myself a little birthday present by writing this short one piece. However as much as it is for me it is also for those loved ones of mine that share my November birthday J Finally I hope it is also something that many of you will also enjoy. A special thanks to all of you who have read my other stories and a special special thanks to those who have reviewed and/or added them to your favorites! Hope this one doesn't disappoint and as always your comments and reviews are most welcomed!
The annoying chirping coming from the bedside alarm brought Anakin slowly and very reluctantly from sleep. With a moan he pulled his arm from his covers and slammed his hand rather forcefully on to the alarm, the chirping stopped. Determined to go back to sleep Anakin rolled over and placed his head under his pillow. However, as the fog of sleep began to lift Anakin realized with a jolt what day it was.
Sleep completely forgotten he bolted from bed and ran to the refresher. With a speed that took him even by surprise he was washed, changed and ready in less than 15 minutes. Looking at himself in the mirror he had to admit that he still looked the same as he did yesterday. Still that didn't change the fact that today he was one year older. It was his Birthday!
With a quick smile he left the washroom and made his way into the living area. Expecting to see something, what exactly he wasn't really sure, but something none-the-less that marked his birthday he was slightly disappointed when he was met by an empty living room.
A noise from the kitchen drew his attention and with his hopes renewed he entered it, only to be nearly barreled over by his Master who was it seemed in a great hurry.
"Oh Anakin, sorry. Your breakfast is on the counter. I have a meeting with the Council today so I don't know how long I'll be. I'll see you later young one, have a good day." Obi-Wan all but called out over his shoulder as he exited their apartment.
Fighting down his rising disappointment and hurt Anakin turned and walked over to the counter where his breakfast waited. Upon inspection his spirits rose somewhat when he saw that Obi-Wan had made him his favorite; scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast.
Taking his breakfast to the table he sat and began to eat. However, the silence of the apartment did little to alleviate the sadness he was beginning to feel.
He had not even received a Happy Birthday from Obi-Wan let alone any type of gift that showed his Master even remembered or cared that it was his birthday. By now his Mom would have awoken him to hugs and kisses wishing him the happiest birthday ever. And even though they rarely had any money to spare she would always manage to get him something wonderful and useful as his gift. The day would also be sprinkled by other rare things like his favorite meals and the day off from working at Watto's shop.
He knew that things would undoubtedly be different now, for starters he couldn't imagine Obi-Wan waking him up to hugs and kisses, but even a simple hug and a Happy Birthday Anakin would have been nice. Another thing that added to the boy's ache was that he was alone. No matter what, his Mom would always be with him on his special day, it was one of the only days the two could share completely undisturbed in each other's company. As Anakin gazed around the empty room which suddenly seemed a lot colder and bigger Anakin knew that things would never be the same again.
As much as he tried to make the Temple his new home he knew that it would always fall short and it was never as painfully obvious as it was right now. Obi-Wan was not his Mom and even if deep down he knew it wasn't fair of him to want his Master to fill every role his Mom had, it was only natural that he expected it from the man who was now the one thing that seemed familiar and comfortable in such a foreign and often times confusing place.
Still the differences were clear. Where his Mom always made sure that Anakin's birthday was a special and happy day in which she never left him alone, Obi-Wan had not only not even mentioned his birthday but had also chosen to go to a Council meeting then spend it with him. He had chosen duty over Anakin and Anakin had the feeling this was going to be a reoccurring thing.
Apart from being sad this new revelation made him angry, it wasn't fair! As warm tears of anger and hurt rolled down his face he pushed his half eaten breakfast away and quickly grabbing his cloak he left their apartment, not really knowing where he was going.
Sometime in the afternoon Anakin grudgingly made his way back to the apartment he and Obi-Wan shared. His spirits which had been greatly improved from the visit he had just made to the Chancellor were quickly dissipating. Unlike his Master, Chancellor Palpatine had not forgotten his birthday and upon arriving at his office he had been greeted warmly and affectionately. As he regarded the new state of the art datapad the Chancellor had gifted him, his ill-feelings towards his Master resurfaced. As he palmed open the door to their apartment he couldn't help the feeling of hurt and resentment that welled up in him.
Upon entering,his Master who had his back to him and was talking to someone over a comlink turned and regarded him with a look of relief and vexation.
"Never mind, I've found him. Thank you." He said in a cool tone that usually meant Anakin was in trouble.
Obi-Wan walked over to him taking in his appearance in an almost casual observance, but Anakin knew he was looking for any signs of injury. "And where have you been my Padawan?" he asked, his voice soft but clipped.
As anger began to well up inside of him Anakin walked past Obi-Wan, "Why do you care?" he shot back.
Immediately Anakin knew he had said the wrong thing, Obi-Wan's face became an emotionless mask as his eyes darkened from their usual blue to a steely grey.
"You know you cannot leave the Temple without supervision and express permission from myself. Yet you have done so today, without even a note as to your whereabouts. Coruscant is a large and often times dangerous place, a number of things could have happened to you and as it is my duty to keep you safe you still have the nerve to ask why I care?" Obi-Wan responded without raising his voice but the reprimand was clear in his cool and clipped tone.
Unable to contain himself Anakin threw his newly gifted datapad on the floor and looked up into Obi-Wan's impassive expression. Trying desperately to hold back the tears that where threatening to spill Anakin shouted back: "Duty, it's always DUTY! That's all I am to you. You want to know where I was, Fine! I was with Chancellor Palpatine who's the only one who actually seems to care about me in this place enough to remember that it's my Birthday today!"
Without giving his Master a chance to answer back Anakin stormed out and quickly closed the door to his room before sinking to the ground as the tears he had kept at bay streamed freely down his face. Through their bond Anakin could feel his Master's confusion, guilt and regret but he refused to go back out there. He couldn't.
About an hour had passed since Anakin's outburst but he still had not moved from his spot on the ground. However, he wasn't angry anymore. No instead he was sad, disappointed and just plain tired. When Obi-Wan knocked on the door he didn't answer but not out of spite, rather he just didn't have anything left in him; he felt empty.
As the door slid open the light from the partially sinking sun caused Anakin to blink but he was saved from further discomfort by the shadow of his Master standing in the doorway. Obi-Wan entered the room quietly and knelt before him. As his Master took in his disheveled appearance Anakin in turn took the time to regard his Master. Like usual Obi-Wan was closed off, showing nothing of what he was feeling on the inside. However, Anakin was sure he detected something close to remorse in his eyes, but there was something else he couldn't quite describe.
As Obi-Wan rose he gently pulled Anakin up with him. Briefly placing a hand on his small shoulder he said; "Go wash up. I want you to come with me." his voice gentle.
Not even thinking of disobeying his Master Anakin went to do as he was told. When he re-emerged Obi-Wan was waiting for him by the door. He was wearing his cloak and in his hands he held one of Anakin's clean ones. As Anakin approached him Obi-Wan handed him his cloak and opened the door motioning for Anakin to exit.
As they walked through the Temple anxiousness gripped Anakin. Where exactly were they going? Was Obi-Wan taking him before the Council to be disciplined? Was he going to demand that Anakin be given another Master? With all these thoughts whirling in his head he started a little when he realized they were in one of the main hanger bays walking toward a speeder.
As he entered it at Obi-Wan's nod Anakin couldn't help the small bubble of fear that was beginning to expand within him. Was Obi-Wan so upset and disappointed in his outburst and disrespect that he was going to take him to the Chancellor to be reprimanded by him? Or worse yet, was Obi-Wan taking him to a civilian transporter to ship him back to Tatooine? Needing to say something, anything, Anakin tried talking but gave up when all he could manage to do was feebly open and close his mouth.
Risking a sideways glance at his Master, Anakin was surprised to see not anger, frustration or even disappointment on his face but a small tired smile. Being so caught up in his worries and fears Anakin looked around quickly when they pulled to a stop.
Instead of being in front of the Senate Building or the docking bays they were parked right outside a Diner. The shinning neon sign read Dex's Diner, and though it seemed worn and old the place looked comfortable and clean enough.
Turning to regard his Master in confusion he watched as Obi-Wan gave him a quick smile followed by a quirk of his eyebrow. "Shall we?" he asked as he jumped lithely from the speeder.
Even more confused by his Master's odd behavior Anakin followed him into the little diner. Upon entering his Master was suddenly and shocking enveloped in a strong and many armed hug from one of the strangest creatures Anakin had seen.
"Obi! I was wondering what time you'd show up! How are you my boy?" asked the creature as his deep laughter filled the room. Obi-Wan's greeting smile was no less than that of his counterpart. He patted the creatures large back affectionately as he pulled away from the embrace.
"Hello Dex!" he greeted warmly his own low chuckle joining Dex's. "I do hope our table is open" he added as he glanced at Anakin, his smile making him look years younger.
Dex followed Obi-Wan's gaze and turned to regard Anakin who unconsciously took a step back. "So this is the young fellow I've heard so much about. It's about time you bring him around. It wouldn't do you too good to be hanging around this guy too much, way too serious! Names Dexter Jettster" replied the Besalisk as he extended an enormous hand toward him.
Hesitating slightly he looked up at Obi-Wan, who gave him an encouraging smile. Anakin moved forward and graced Dex with a genuine smile of his own as he accepted the offered hand. "Pleasure to meet you Mr. Jettster, I'm Anakin Skywalker, Master Obi-Wan's Padawan" he replied.
Dex laughed as he ruffled Anakin's hair, "Pleasure's all mine Kid, call me Dex. Well come on you two, your usual table's waiting just like you asked."
As Anakin and Obi-Wan took their seats an awkward silence had settled on the pair. Anakin could feel Obi-Wan's gaze on him as he looked anywhere but his Master. Finally sighing Anakin began to speak: "Master, I'm sorry about earlier. I was...out of line. I didn't mean to be so...I was just..." he mumbled still not meeting Obi-Wan's gaze.
Obi-Wan's firm but gentle grip on his chin stopped his stammering and as he was forced to meet his Master's gaze he was afraid of what he was going to see.
He shouldn't have worried.
Obi-Wan regarded him with a gentle smile. "Yes you were out of line earlier Anakin and we will discuss the matter later. However now is not the time or place. I also know why you acted as you did and though it does not justify your behavior, I understand." said he Master as he withdrew his hand from under his chin.
Obi-Wan chuckled softly. "Am I so old in your eyes that you think I don't remember the importance of birthday's to one so young?" he asked his eyes alight with mirth.
Anakin shook his head vigorously. "No! I don't think your old Master!" he said afraid of offending Obi-Wan. Instead Obi-Wan just laughed.
"You thought I had forgotten your birthday young one, did you not?" he asked his laughter dying out as he regarded Anakin seriously. Before he could answer Dex brought out their food. He handed Obi-Wan his plate without a word then as he handed Anakin his he smiled.
"There you go Kid. From what a little bird has told me this is one of your favorite dishes. Dig in boys, but remember to save some space for desert birthday boy" he said as another deep laugh followed his wake.
Anakin took a moment to take in his plate and what Dex had just said. Then he thought about breakfast and his Master albeit quick but none-the-less telling farewell. Suddenly it dawned on him and when he looked up into his Master's face he knew he had made a big mistake.
"I thought you had forgotten my birthday...but you didn't did you Master? You knew all along...and you planned all this for me, just for me...and I ruined it!" he stuttered feeling worse by the minute at what he had done.
"Anakin you didn't ruin it, you didn't know. Besides it was partially my fault I don't know what your used to and I didn't take your feelings into consideration. Granted a little more patience on your behalf would have saved us this misunderstanding, but alas no lasting harm was done." replied his Master smiling kindly down at him.
Giving his Master a huge smile he tucked into his meal and enjoyed the the companionable silence as they finished their meals.
After Dex had brought out the cake and had sung Happy Birthday to him along with his staff they ate what they could. Finally saying their thank you's and good-bye's Anakin and Obi-Wan had made their way back to their apartment.
Upon entering Anakin's flurry of chatter stopped as he turned to regard Obi-Wan.
"I was just wondering why that diner, how did you know about it, not that I'm complaining I loved it!" he asked.
Obi-Wan looked at him a soft smile on his face but their was a touch of sadness that lingered in his gaze. As he answered his voice was soft and almost wistful.
"Qui-Gon first took me there for my 14th birthday and every birthday after. I thought you might like it and perhaps we could carry on the tradition if you would like?"
Without thinking Anakin rushed up to his Master and hugged him as fiercely as he could. "Thank you Master I...thank you. This birthday has been wizard!" he said, his voice slightly muffled.
Anakin heard as well as felt Obi-Wan's soft chuckle as his hug was returned, slightly hesitantly, but returned none-the-less.
"Happy Birthday Anakin"
With reluctance Anakin pulled away from Obi-Wan.
Kneeling down so that he was eye level with him Obi-Wan placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I may not always understand you just as you may not understand me, however, it doesn't mean I don't care. We may come from different backgrounds but know this my Padawan. The biggest, showiest, most expensive and often overt gifts are not necessarily the best or most sincere. Rather I've come to find that the thought and care put into anything is often times what counts the most even if it isn't immediately obvious."
Anakin smiled as Obi-Wan tugged affectionately at his Padawan braid. "Now go ahead and choose whatever holo-movie you would like to see." he added as he stood and made his way over to the sofa and took a seat.
This birthday had been different from anything his Mom had ever done for him, but at the same time it wasn't. Even though they had different methods and ways of showing it, at the end of the day he knew he was cared for and even though his missed his Mom, he couldn't help the swell of love he felt for his Master who had done just as much for him today to ensure he had the best birthday he could.
As Anakin settled in beside his Master on the sofa and waited to watch the holo-movie he had chosen to see he couldn't help but smile. Despite the rough start, Anakin decided this was one of the best birthday's he had ever had, and he knew this was only the beginning.
Obi-Wan was right, it wasn't about the price or size of the gift that mattered, rather it was the thought and care put into it that counted and Chancellor Palpatine's rather impressive datapad which lay forgotten on the floor was testament enough.