Qui-Gon slid easily through the door leading into the Master's suite and glided through the common area. A glance at the chronometer told him that it was late, as did Coruscant's darkened skyscape beyond the plasteel windows. Pacing up to the table, the Master stared down at Anakin where he sat studying. Or, rather, where the boy sat fast asleep with his head down on the table, the edge of his dataslate pressing a groove in his cheek.

Running an ethereal hand through Anakin's hair, Qui-Gon stirred it vaguely before using the Force to gently nudge the boy awake. "Ani, don't you have a test tomorrow?"

"Huh, wuzzat?" He blinked muzzily at his visitor before sitting back and yawning. Shoving aside the slate he'd been lying on, Anakin rubbed irritably at the edged pattern now imbedded in his cheek. "Yeah, I've got a lightsaber test tomorrow, and just piles of homework tonight. We came home from Darvik IV so I'd be here for the test. Like I really wanted to rush back for that." He scowled at the books. "I'm all right with the saber stuff, that's easy, but I'm not doing such a hot job with the homework."

"Why are you so tired? Was the mission especially difficult?"

"It's not that," Anakin said. "My Master and I had to share a bunk on the ship back, and I didn't get much sleep."

"Why not?"

"He snores."

Qui-Gon smiled. "So did I. Ask him about it sometime." The Master watched while Anakin began nodding off again. "Where is Obi-Wan now?"

"He went to some Senate thing. Said he'd be back late. I didn't get to go because he didn't want to disturb my study time." Anakin scowled at his work materials again, then irritably pushed them further away across the desk top. "Doesn't want to disturb me. Huh, he disturbed the whole night, but he can't possibly take me away from this dumb stuff for something as 'unimportant' as speaking before the Senate. That's just...just *yawn* not fair."

Qui-Gon considered the nodding Padawan for a moment before falling back into the Master role that had come so naturally to him in life. He nudged Anakin once more. "You'll need to be well-rested for your saber test. Have you eaten?"

Anakin scowled at him with one eye as he rubbed the back of one hand into the other eye. "Hours ago."

"Then I suggest you get a snack now, and then get some sleep. Get up early tomorrow to finish your homework."

"You're telling me to quit studying?" he asked dubiously.

Qui-Gon nodded, and Ani brightened to his first smile of the visit. "Wizard. What a cool Master. Tells me to eat and to give up on the dumb books. That is stellar."

He grinned. Getting to his feet, he thumped the books and slates into rough piles, letting his annoyance out in his harsh handling of his educational materials. Qui-Gon gently interceded on the slates' behalf with a gentle Force nudge and herded the sleepy boy into the food prep area. Once there, Anakin needed no further urging, the combination of readily accessible food and growing body encouraging him toward the cold-keep. Qui-Gon watched while Anakin made a huge sandwich and poured himself a glass of juice.

Even with the customary speed with which the Padawan usually bolted food, he chewed the last few bites with his eyes closed. Sleep swiftly won over the last of the crumbs, and he left the remains of the sandwich--crusts, predictably--at the table before shuffling to the middle of the floor where he stood and wavering on his feet, more than half asleep. Giving a gentle push, Qui-Gon directed the boy toward the 'fresher.

"Brush your teeth and get ready for bed," came the directive.

Anakin went through the motions, exposing his teeth to the cleanser and making splashing noises that passed for washing up. Once he was done, a set of blue-tinged broad hands slipped over his narrow shoulders to guide him down the hallway and into his sleep chamber. Boots were tugged off, Padawan tunics were thrown in a heap, and Anakin slid into bed in his leggings. Qui-Gon decided not to press the issue; Jedi slept in far worse, and in worse conditions, in the field.

A gesture through the Force lowered the lights. Another slid the blankets over Anakin, who was already fast asleep. A hand smoothed over his brow.

"Sleep well, Anakin."

The Master left the Padawan's room to stretch out his ethereal form on the couch and wait for Obi-Wan's return.

Obi-Wan watched his Padawan shoot through the sleep-chamber door, bolt into the fresher, and return in a matter of moments.

"Fastest shower on record," Obi-Wan commented, slurping his tea as Anakin slammed into the chair at the table that he'd obviously vacated the night before, with datapad, scribbled notes, and books scattered about. "Did you even bother to use soap?"

"No time. Hafta finish this. Sorry about the mess, Master."

"That's fine, Ani."

Anakin worked for a few minutes, oblivious to his Master's amused watching and ignoring the water dripping off the end of his short braid, until Obi-Wan took pity on him, moved into the prep area, and returned with a bowl of cereal.

"You'll need to eat before the saber trial."

"Thanks," he muttered, grabbing the spoon without really taking his eyes off his work. "Oo's essing Ee?" he asked around a mouthful of cereal.

"Who is testing you?"

"Yeah," Ani answered before cramming another huge spoonful into his mouth.

"Master Gallia."

Anakin nodded briefly before wolfing down a few bites of cereal and then going back to work. "Qui-Gon was here last night. He told me to go to bed and finish my homework this morning. That's why I'm not already done. But he was right; it's easier to think now. "

"It usually is after a good night's sleep."

"He also said that he used to snore." Anakin slammed closed a book, shut down the data pad, and grinned. "There, I'm done. Did he really snore and keep you awake?"

Obi-Wan stared at his tea mug, turned it around and around in his hands. "He couldn't help it, Ani. He snored because of his broken nose."

"All the time?"

"Usually, yes."



"Ewww. Oh, that's grim. Couldn't you gig him in the ribs or something? Make him stop?"

Obi-Wan shook his head. "How he lay didn't matter, he still snored. And it was impossible for me to wake him up unless it was a genuine emergency, or unless I was in real distress."

"How'd he know the difference?"

"Our training bond was unusually close," Obi-Wan said softly.

"So what'd you do to make him stop snoring?"

"I didn't do anything. There was nothing to be done for it. It wasn't like an annoying habit, after all. It wasn't his fault."

"Huh. Why doesn't it matter? It's the NOISE that bugs you. How could you live with that? I mean, you've been sick so you snored for a little while, but you're gonna get better and quit that, and I can wait for that. That's okay. But...all of the time, Master? How could you live with that? Sleep with it?"

Obi-Wan almost smiled, though the sadness in his eyes belied any happiness or humor. "At first I didn't think I could. But he was my Master, and it wasn't such a major issue. Not compared to being shipped off to Agricorps, anyway. I looked at it as an exercise in patience and focusing."

Anakin wrinkled his nose. "Snoring and meditation exercises. That's awful. How did you do it?"

Obi-Wan smiled the almost-smile again. "After a time, I learned to live with it. Mostly. Let's just say it got easier. And now...." The Master didn't continue. Instead, he left the table to place his mug and Anakin's bowl in the sink.

"Now, what?"

Obi-Wan looked back at his Padawan and shook his head. "It's time you got ready to begin your day. You need to meet Master Gallia in the central gardens and meditate with her before your trial. I'll see you at mid-meal, and you can let me know how it went."

"Sure." Gathering his saber, Anakin gave his Master a brief bow before heading for the door. It slid back and he hesitated on the way out. "Now... what, Master?" he prodded again. "What were you going to say?"

Obi-Wan snorted and waved his Padawan on. "Not knowing will give you something to think about today."

"But Masteeerrrrr, how am I supposed to focus while I'm wondering what you were going to say?"

This time the smile was untinged by melancholy. "Consider it an exercise in patience and focusing," he said wryly. "Now begone with ye."

Anakin laughed outright in recognition of the Boss Nass imitation. "See you later, Master."

"See you, Padawan."

The door closed after Anakin, and Obi-Wan stared at it. Giving a deep sigh, he echoed Obi-Wan. "Now what?" Closing his eyes, he continued the thought aloud. "Now, I miss his snoring. Terribly. I'd give anything to hear it again."

He sighed and opened his eyes to stare blankly at the wall. The silence beat loudly in his ears, mocked him with the absence of the sound he remembered so vividly.

"Now I realize that the snoring meant that you were nearby and relaxed enough to sleep. It told me that, no matter what had happened to us or would happen to us, for this moment we were together and at peace.

"I never realized how lonely the silence would be. If someone had told me when I was Ani's age that I would miss your snoring so badly that it hurt, I'd have told them that they were crazy. But I'd give anything to hear it again, Master."

After a moment, Obi-Wan forcibly shook aside the depressed mood gathering about him. Waving down the lights in the food prep area, he went on with his day, and with his life.

The silence was still deafening.



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