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The New Master

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When Qui-Gon entered the Council Chamber, rather than turning towards Yoda, as he usually did, he bowed towards the newest member, who was sitting with his back to the windows. His eyes twinkled as he intoned the familiar greeting for council members. "Master."

Obi-Wan nodded in return, his expression serious, but his eyes telling a different story.

Their little performance hadn't gone unnoticed by Anakin and the rest of the council. Anakin merely smiled at Obi-Wan, but Yoda had an amused look on his face.

No one commented on it, though, and Yoda spoke if Qui-Gon and Anakin's next assignment, which was yet another stuck on Coruscant, playing bodyguard. Beside him, Qui-Gon could feel Anakin's impatience. Anakin disliked missions consisting largely of inactivity - much like Qui-Gon's former Padawan had been at the same age. By now Anakin had learned not to voice his thoughts to the council, but Qui-Gon felt compelled to speak up for him. Not least because he was starting to feel the effects of their relative inactivity himself.

"Masters, I beg you to consider whether this is the best use of our time. This mission would be better suited to a younger, less experienced team."

"Presume to know the future, do you?"

As Yoda intended, Qui-Gon was reminded of the many times a mission had not gone as planned. However, their last missions had been quiet and it didn't sound as if the council expected anything different of this one. He glanced over at Obi-Wan and was surprised to see an expression on Obi-Wan's face he recognised: Obi-Wan had something he was dying to tell. For him to look like that now meant it was related to their current mission. Something that the council was hiding that none of them were saying. Obi-Wan had long since grown out of his tendency to blurt out information, but Qui-Gon was sure Obi-Wan would tell him in private.

So he merely said, "No, Master," and left the chamber, an unhappy Anakin trailing behind him.

Qui-Gon sent Anakin to do some research, just in case the mission turned out not to be simple, while he lingered in the corridors for Obi-Wan. When Obi-Wan arrived they spoke of the progress of Obi-Wan's Padawan, until they were further down the hall and wouldn't be overheard.

When they stopped, Obi-Wan looked out the window over Coruscant, his gaze following the lines of traffic in the sky. "The council wants to keep Anakin close. They are concerned."

So was Qui-Gon, sometimes, but Anakin just needed more time to learn how to be a Jedi. After all, even Obi-Wan hadn't been perfect as a teenager, and he'd grown up in the Jedi Temple. Yet even after he'd left the Jedi on Melida/Daan the council hadn't expressed their concerns quite like this. Which meant it was something else - something worse - that bothered them. "He won't turn to the Dark Side," he assured Obi-Wan. Of that he was confident.

Obi-Wan was quiet, which Qui-Gon took for uncomfortable disagreement, until he looked closer. Although Obi-Wan's hands were tucked in the sleeves of his robe, they were not still. Just as Qui-Gon opened his mouth to ask, Obi-Wan blurted out, "They want me to keep an eye on you both."

Qui-Gon turned to the window himself, frustrated that the council didn't trust him and disliking the position Obi-Wan had been put in. He'd always been loyal to his former master and to the council, but now he was torn between both. Qui-Gon could understand why Obi-Wan had wanted to speak of this and why he'd been uncomfortable to. Despite Obi-Wan now being a member of the council, Qui-Gon still felt like it was his job to counsel Obi-Wan. He put a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, reassuring his former Padawan that he wasn't upset. "I look forward to working with you again."

With Obi-Wan it was always easy to find the right thing to say and this time was no different. Obi-Wan finally turned to look at him and smiled.

"If anything is wrong with Anakin, we will find it together," Qui-Gon assured him. And he found he was not finding the prospect of being watched so bad, when it was Obi-Wan doing the watching.