A muffled clinking registered faintly in his ears. A small splash. Rustling. More clinking and splashing.
With a groan, Anakin forced his eyes open. Yellow light seeped through the curtains above his bed, lending his room a sickly glow. He didn't think he'd ever get used to the unending light. There were so many lit buildings on Coruscant, it was as if they combined to make a second sun that shone only when the first set. The idea of two suns was comforting, even if their discordant schedules weren't.
The clinking continued for a few more seconds accompanied by the sound of running water. Anakin lay still on his sleep couch listening to the gentle melody.
Mom didn't wash the dishes with water; they hardly had enough water for themselves, let alone the dishes. Instead, she cleaned them with a chemical spray. Wealthier households in Mos Espa had sonic cleaning units. He'd never seen a working one, but they'd had a few scrapped in the junkyard. He'd been in the process of considering how to sneak one out of the shop back home for Mom to use when Qui-Gon and Padme had appeared. She worked so hard. She deserved a little bit of luxury to ease her life, but he'd left before he could finish making plans, let alone enact them. No way would Watto just gift her one. And in any case, who would fix it? Who would fix the water purifier, the droids, and everything else with him gone? How would Mom get along without him there to help out?
The sound of running water was abruptly shut off. The clinking and rustling had also stopped.
He could just make out the sound of footsteps making their way towards him, pausing outside his door, then continuing on to the room beside his. The door hissed shut.
Well, not really. It was never totally quiet, just like it was never totally dark. The same way the city's lights seeped through his curtains, so too did the noise. There were a couple highways which ran parallel to this side of the Temple, plus those that ran above it, right between the massive spires. They made for plenty of ambient noise: engines, horns, sirens, and the like. At first, he'd liked listening to the engines, trying to identify their type and make. Unfortunately for him, there were far more types than he'd ever encountered before and he couldn't identify them all, but that just made it more challenging. Challenge accepted, he'd thought. But that was a while ago. Now he just wished the engines would quiet. Even the bellows of a sandstorm couldn't pierce the thick stone walls of their home like this. The walls were thick here, too; the noise was stronger and more pervasive, though. Even during a sandstorm there was an ebb and flow. It wasn't the constant, unending white noise the speeders produced here. Sometimes there'd be a particularly noteworthy honking competition, but aside from that it just...existed. The noise.
He needed to get back to sleep. It was an early day tomorrow. Well, all days were early days. They were back home, too, but sometimes he and Mom had days off, like during sandstorms, and they could sleep in. Not so here. Schooling, learning, practicing, meditating, listening, becoming Jedi-- it never abated, much like the speeders outside the Temple walls.
He closed his eyes and attempted to will himself to sleep. The darkness behind his eyelids only made himself think of Mom sitting alone in the dark.
Breakfast was a quiet affair.
Anakin sat across from Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan diligently ate his meal, forking up small slices of bantha meat with the utmost care and dignity, like eating a meal required as much precision as meditation or katas. A cup of tea sat steaming by his elbow. For his part, Anakin also ate his meal, if less diligently. He didn't really like whatever these leafy greens mixed in with the meat were supposed to be, but Mom taught him never to waste food, so waste it he did not. That didn't mean he had to like it, though. He'd gobbled down the meat immediately upon receiving his plate and now only the greens remained, taunting him with their bright colors. They were fresh, crisp, moist, like water but tangy, iron-y, and weird. Water was good. Meat was good. These were no good. Anakin finally speared a hunk of green on his fork and shoved it down his gullet.
By now, Obi-Wan had finished his meal and was sipping regally at his cup of tea. He'd made Anakin a cup, too. He always did, even though Anakin scrunched his face up in disgust every time. He also drank it every time-- waste not, want not-- but, again, he didn't like it. Obi-Wan knew he didn't like it. So why did he keep wasting water making a disgusting concoction he then silently pressured Anakin into drinking by way of existing? He'd have to drink it eventually, just like he'd had to eventually give in and start eating his greens. For now, though, he also had a better drink: a glass of bantha milk.
Anakin liked bantha milk. He liked it a lot. It was considered a luxury in the slave quarters. Free people could get their hands on it no problem; sometimes they didn't even drink their entire cup of milk, and one of his friends who waited tables would filch the remains and auction them off for favors. Anakin won those auctions a lot. Everybody had things that needed fixing. And Anakin especially loved the look on Mom's face when he came home with a cup of precious, life-giving blue bantha milk to share with her.
His next sip of milk was more bitter than the last.
Finally, his plate was clean and his milk was gone. All that remained was the tea. By now, steam no longer billowed above the rim. Honestly, what was the point? All that moisture lost to evaporation... Wasn't a cool drink more refreshing? What was the point of this gunk? It tasted like watery leather and burned his mouth and wasted precious resources. Well, they weren't so precious here, but Mom raised him to cherish drink and food, so cherish it he would, no matter where he was. So it was time to drink the tea.
As per his usual ritual, Anakin scrunched his face up, attempting not to smell the tainted drink as he held the cup close to his mouth. A deep breath through his mouth to gather his courage. Then, all in. He chugged the tea as fast as he could, doing his best not to taste it-- and failing miserably, but at least he'd tried-- and then returned the cup to the table with a satisfied clink. He'd done it. He'd drunk the stupid tea. He was free from that particular chore for a time.
A quick glance at Obi-Wan showed... Was that an amused grin? It was gone faster than he even registered it. Clearly, he was hallucinating. See? That's how bad the tea was. It was inducing hallucinations! Honestly.
Obi-Wan began picking up his dishes, and at his pointed look Anakin followed his example. Anakin loaded his plate and glass in the cleaning unit alongside Obi-Wan's, setting his teacup on the counter next to the sink. He returned to his room to the sound of clinking, rustling, and running water.
One thing the stories never talked about was how a Jedi dressed. He'd always had this image in his head of flight suits and armor. Jedi were warriors, so of course they'd need armor; and they traveled the galaxy, so of course they'd need flight suits. The truth couldn't be farther from reality, however.
After he figured out Qui-Gon was a Jedi, he'd figured his garb was a disguise to blend in with the locals of Mos Espa. Specifically the poorer locals. And the slaves. But no. That was how all Jedi dressed, apparently. Neutral, rough, rather shapeless robes. What a let-down. He hardly felt like he looked any different now as a Jedi than he had as a slave. His robes were the same color, the same scratchy texture... The only difference was the layers. So many layers. First the undergarments, then the under-tunic and pants, then the outer robe, then the tabbards, then the obi, and finally the belt. How had Qui-Gon not melted under the twin suns in all these layers? Anakin was actually a little grateful for them, though, despite the trouble of putting them all on properly. It was a lot colder here than back home. Not as cold as on Padme's Nubian beauty of a ship, but not too far off. He was always cold, and for now he huddled gratefully in his many layers. Maybe he didn't look like a grand warrior in a flight suit complemented with strategic body armor, and maybe he still basically looked like the slave he'd once been (and sometimes still felt like), but at least he was warm.
Last but certainly not least, he clipped his training saber to his belt. It wasn't a real lightsaber. It couldn't slice evil Sith in half or cut through blast doors, but it could deflect blasterfire, plus it looked cool. The blade was shorter, thinner, and slightly dimmer than real lightsabers, but only a keen eye could tell. He'd bet he could fool Watto with this thing. One day, he'd march into the storefront, holding a real lightsaber menacingly in his hands, and order Watto to hand over Mom. Free of charge. Watto would blubber about in fear, begging Anakin not to kill or maim him, and Anakin would laugh at how pathetic he was. To think he'd feared this pathetic Toydarian for so long. Look at him cower before the power of a lightsaber! And then he'd free all the other slaves, too. And he and Mom could live together in an apartment here in the Temple. Maybe Mom could work with the cleaning staff. She'd certainly live here with him, no matter what the Council kept going on about with this "emotional attachment" stuff. His place was with her, as hers was with him. Surely the Council would see that for the unequivocal truth that it was.
After tugging his boots on-- the nicest part of the outfit; they were made from real nerf leather, with a soft wool lining-- Anakin headed to the 'fresher. Obi-Wan showered everyday, but Anakin really didn't see the point, let alone the appeal. He was perfectly clean, and what a waste of water. Who used water to wash their body every single day? Why would you dirty perfectly good water when you could use it for drinking? Absurd. His fingers were awkward as he watched them plait his Padawan braid in the mirror. It was slightly crooked, nowhere near as nice as when Obi-Wan did it for him, but it was just a braid. Granted, the most important braid of his life, but still. He could do this. That done, he brushed his teeth, swallowing the toothpaste, rather than waste saliva from spitting. Besides, it tasted clean and helped wash out the lingering taint of the tea.
And just like that, he was ready for the day.
Walking into the living room, he found Obi-Wan dressed, combed, and regal, sitting on the couch reading something on a datapad. Seriously. Who lounged with posture that perfect?
He must've scuffed his boot on the floor upon entering-- or Obi-Wan sensed his "Force Presence" or whatever-- because Obi-Wan looked up at him and turned off the 'pad.
Anakin impatiently waited for him to announce their itinerary for the day. Would it be katas? He hoped they'd practice katas. On the other end of the spectrum, Obi-Wan might want discuss some ancient historical political stupid bantha poodoo. At least his class had talked about the Sith yesterday, so he might be able to steer the conversation towards theoretical katas... Yeah, that could work.
Or they would meditate. He hated meditating more than he hated tea or the cold. Let it be kata-related!
"Let's meditate, shall we?"