Cutting Away

by Tenshi

There was little besides the actual presence of a padawan to separate a Jedi who had taken a student from one who had not. While a knight who had successfully trained a padawan to be a knight was often made a Master, it was not the only path to Mastery in the Order. In fact it was often said that the best way to know if a Jedi had trained another was simply to test his patience a little, and those who endured it longest were the ones most likely to have taken a student at some point.

Only one item in a Jedi's belt pouches gave it away entirely, a rather odd archaic thing jumbled among rebreathers and comm chips and water purification tablets: a simple pair of folding shears. They were small, quite old, and very sharp, and returned to the Order to be passed to another teacher when there was no longer any call for their use.

Anakin had first seen them in Obi-Wan's hands the morning after Qui-Gon Jinn's funeral. On that day, they had been a strange mystery. As an older boy, they were a trial of his patience. Now, they were a small sort of ritual that he never admitted was a comfort to him.

"It doesn't seem like it's been that long," he said, settling still in his chair and experimentally closing gleaming mechanical fingers.

"Time flies when you're having fun, you know." His master unfolded the delicate tool with a deliberate motion, and eyed the bowed head in front of him. "Consider yourself lucky yours doesn't grow as fast as mine."

"Still." Anakin said, looking at the joints of his new hand, "It seems like a lot has changed since last time." He closed his eyes as Obi-Wan's fingers slid into the soft gold tufts of his hair, and the scissors clicked open and shut with quiet efficiency. "...I remember you wore yours longer."

Obi-Wan smiled in a way that Anakin could not see, and slowed a little trimming the hair that jutted up between his fingers. "I remember Qui-Gon had much bigger hands than mine." The pause did not last long. Obi-Wan continued his task, his fingers gentle, familiar in Anakin's hair. A fine dusting of dark blonde gleamed on Anakin's bare shoulders.

"You're due for a trim yourself, you know," Anakin reminded his master, as Obi-Wan flicked the padawan braid to the side and navigated the tricky area around his apprentice's ear.

"Don't think I need reminding," Obi-Wan said, blowing his own trailing hair out of his eyes, as his hands were both occupied. "It's not as though we've had a chance before now to fuss over such things. I was weedy long before I went to Kamino."

Anakin shifted his weight a little, and when he spoke, it was that same, authoritative voice he had used when he told Qui-Gon Jinn that the Jedi knight had come to free slaves. It often struck others as arrogant, even condescending, and it had taken Obi-Wan some getting used to. Now he only knew it came out when Anakin was most sure of his words, when his own promptings from the Force left no doubt in his mind as to the accuracy of his statements. "You should let me do yours for you."

The scissors stopped for a moment, then started again. "Considering a career as an valet droid, Padawan?"

Anakin lifted one shoulder slightly, not enough to disrupt his master's task. "I just thought it might be nicer than having to do it yourself."

Obi-Wan slowly brushed the trimmed hair from Anakin's shoulders. "You'll have to promise not to make me look ridiculous."

"More than you do now?" Anakin grinned, knowing the sharp point of the scissors were well out of range. "It's not like you have much to lose."

"Besides my dignity? Besides, I'm not sure how good you are with that new trinket of yours." He nodded to the golden robotic hand.

Anakin stood up, holding out his skeletal droid hand for the shears. "Trust me on this one. I've been doing some tuning up."

Obi-Wan had stood by his apprentice through many a hasty decision and Council scolding; he would be the first to accept Anakin Skywalker's word as good or better than that of any other being in the galaxy. Still, once he had shed his tunic and large hanks of his hair fell on the floor in discarded locks, he began to have a few niggling doubts.

"Really, I'm only after a reasonable trim, here."

"Too late for that," Anakin answered, entirely too cheerfully. Another handful of Obi-Wan's hair showered to the floor. "You've been a knight for years you know, you don't have to try and prove you're not a padawan anymore."

"What," Obi-Wan countered, trying not to picture himself showing up before the Council looking like a half-shorn Alderaan mountain sheep, "you aren't going to grow your hair out when you can?"

"I cannot wait," Anakin breathed, fervently. "But it doesn't suit your style, Master."

Obi-Wan stifled a cough, not wanting to jostle Anakin's hands. "Yes, well. Let's hope this does."

"It will." Anakin paused, considering, and then the scissors began clicking again. The point of the cold blade made a tickly, decisive path across Obi-Wan's scalp, raising the hair on the Jedi knight's forearms. Anakin flipped the part over and kept working as though he had done so all his life.

"Tell me," Obi-Wan said, his tone wry, "are you good at everything you put your hand to, or does it just look that way?"

"I stink at trajaar," Anakin offered, and raked both hands backwards, smoothing his work. "There," he said. "Try that."

"I'm almost afraid to," Obi-Wan said, looking at the fluffy piles of discarded hair around the bottom of the chair. The back of his neck was cold in a way it hadn't been for years. There was only one mirror in their rooms at the temple, a small one for basic hygiene purposes. Obi-Wan caught his first glimpse of the Jedi there, and blinked in surprise.

There was nothing fancy about what Anakin had done, no trendy double part or whatever they were doing to their heads down in the lower sections these days. It was simple, close cut, one off-center part, and somehow in no way Obi-Wan could place, made him look more like himself. He admitted he had been trying for a touch of Qui-Gon's maverick flair, as much as he tried to teach Anakin like his old master would have, a role he took upon himself. But it was a robe that had never quite fit until Anakin simply cut away his disguise.

Obi-Wan wondered who he had been fooling for the past ten years.

"It's okay," Anakin said, slapping the scissors in Obi-Wan's palm, his satisfied grin unchecked. "I don't need a tip."


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