"Ever? … It's Obi-Wan."
Ever almost starts when she hears the voice in the comlink. Obi-Wan never called her before. Not that he would have reasons to - they only met a couple of times, and have not seen each other in years.
She stays silent as the young man speaks up again. His voice is cold and devoid of emotion, just the thing she has always hated about Jedi - her father being the only exception, of course. But then again, he is not a quite regular one.
"Qui-Gon is dead."
And the entire universe comes crashing down. Ever cannot breathe, cannot see anything. She has to grip the table's edge in order to stay upright.
" What ??"
No, no, no, no, no, no… He is not gone, he cannot be, he cannot be, he cannot be…
"Ever… I'm so sorry… Do you think… Do you think I could come to your apartment tomorrow? There are some things I need to discuss with you."
His voice is far softer by now, but still casual. He does not care. He does not care. Qui-Gon was just his Master . He does not care. He can have another one. He can even become a Knight.
Oh, how she hates Obi-Wan in this moment! That ungrateful bastard who cannot even begin to imagine how lucky he is! He spent twelve years (almost half of his life) with Qui-Gon, twelve being raised and loved by her father, the most wonderful man in this entire galaxy.
Discuss with him? But of course! Why not? … She is going to yell at him until he no longer have eardrums. To punch the life out of him!
"Sure, come over," she hisses.
And she hangs up.
She cries herself to sleep, that night. The grief is so heavy… It is like a shroud of darkness suffocating her and wrapping itself around her heart. She cannot make it go away - she screams until her voice is hoarse, breaks furniture until her hands are covered in blood and tries to meditate until her legs are numb from kneeling on the floor, but it simply will not disappear.
She feels like she drowning in her own emotions, sorrow, anguish, pain and anger all blurred and mixed together.
And even when she finally falls asleep, she cannot find any rest.
I never got to say goodbye.
She is not awake when Obi-Wan shows up the next morning. It is the doorbell that jolts her out of sleep. She falls down from the sofa, panicked. Her hair is all tangled up and she still wears the same clothes than yesterday. She cannot greet her father's apprentice like that! Even if said apprentice is an insufferable jerk she is about to murder in a metaphorical way.
"Give me a second," she tries to yell with more or less success (the hairpins in her mouth being quite a hindrance), wriggling in a most undignified manner to put fresh pants on and struggling with her hairbrush at the same time.
She almost falls down twice.
When she finally opens her door (after a long minute of hesitation during which she just stares at it), she looks nearly civilized, her wild dark mane relatively tamed and her clothes almost neat. She has even scrubbed her hands to get rid of the dried blood.
Taking a deep breath, she lets the plastoid panel slide open, revealing a young man barely five years her senior. He looks like a soldier standing to attention, very straight and very still, light auburn hair neatly cropped in the classic Padawan haircut (though no braid dangles behind his ear anymore), and Jedi tunics and robes impeccably adjusted. Even his boots are shining. Ever's eyes unconsciously trails up to his face, and her eyes narrow when she remarks the blank expression he displays.
He is exactly like in her memories.
She beckons him inside half-heartedly, and he bows low as he enters, his manners still impeccable. Just like the last time they saw each other - which was at least four years ago. That is when she notices the small bag hanging by his side. And the lightsaber. Qui-Gon's lightsaber.
She is about to make a scathing comment when their gazes meet. And her heart stops. His eyes are a startling mix of grey, blue and green, two bottomless lakes of sheer, raw emotion. Two windows made or clari-crystalline - beautiful and pure but ready to shatter at a simple tap - offering a clear view of his broken heart.
And she realizes he must have cried too.
Strange, how eyes can give so much away.
Wordlessly, she guides him to the sofa and they both sit down. Obi-Wan clears his throat, clearly uncomfortable.
"I… I am sorry we meet again under such circumstances, Ever. My Master… I mean, you father, Qui-Gon, always wished we would spend more time together. He spoke much about you," he murmurs, eyes cast down.
Lame. But true. Her father wanted them to be friends. And since it looks like a fragile truce just called itself, she is not going to ruin it all by being rude.
"He often spoke about you, too."
And to her surprise, he glances up, his face suddenly lit with something that strangely looks like hope mixed intense despair.
"Really?" Obi-Wan asks, though it sounds more like a desperate plea.
She can hear the tears he refuses to shed, the hoarseness in his quivering voice.
And they stares into each other's eyes, finding the same anguish and suffering. They could be friends. Brother and sister, even. Just like Qui-Gon wished.
But it is still too early. Too much resentment still lies between them.
… At least on Ever's side.
"Tell me what happened," she requires, dreading the answer and craving for it at the same time.
"… We were on Naboo, in Theed - it was just a diplomatic mission, in theory. It happened in the Plasma refinery complex. There was that Zabrak warrior… He was a Sith… He had a double-bladed red lightsaber… And there was those laser doors. Qui-Gon and I got separated. I couldn't do anything. I… I had to watch when… When the Zabrak…"
"Go on," she demands, jaw clenched.
"The Sith… stabbed your father through the chest. I… When the laser doors opened… I rushed to that… monster and we fought. I was unbalanced, unfocused - my rage clouded my judgement. I lost my lightsaber at some point. I had to use you father's to kill the… Sith."
"I cut him in half."
"What happened next?"
"… I got Knighted. Just before the funeral."
And Ever exhales slowly, unsure of what answer to that. The silence stretches between them, putting both Obi-Wan and she ill at ease.
But then the young Jedi notices her hands, and how they look stiff and swollen. He does not say a word - he probably understands. Instead, he rummages in his bag and retrieves a small tube of bacta, along with bandages.
WHO carries bacta and bandages on their bag even for a twenty minutes trip? she cannot help but think. This is just ridiculous.
But the bacta feels really nice when Obi-Wan's surprisingly gentle fingers apply it on the deepest cuts. He even delicately wraps the white bands around her knuckles and palms, pausing and muttering an apology every time she hisses in pain.
Ever studies him carefully as he keeps his eyes cast on the floor. He does not look so… bad. He certainly is not as heartless as she pictured him. She is still angry with him, angry with herself, and she wishes he could just go, but yet… his forlorn and almost shy expression makes it ten times harder to dislike him.
Once he is done with the bandages, he puts the bacta back into his bag, and, to Ever's infinite astonishment, hands her his lightsaber. Qui-Gon's lightsaber.
She stares at him blankly.
"I already have a lightsaber. My father gave me a crystal and we built it together."
"I know," he replies quietly. "I just thought it belonged to you. Along with this."
And Obi-Wan also presents her a black riverstone and Qui-Gon's robe.
She almost slaps him.
"Are you trying to get rid of everything he left you? Doesn't the stone matter to you? Didn't my father matter to you?"
His eyes widen in shock and hurt and he takes a step back, staggering.
"I… I… No, I just wanted to… I thought… Of course he mattered! I only…"
But Ever cuts him off, cheeks red with shame. Her words were uncalled for.
"Forget it, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that," she mutters, eyes cast down.
"You will not take them then?"
"Keep the stone. He gave it to you, not to me. But I'll take the robe and the 'saber."
Obi-Wan nods in gratitude, and she can feel his relief seeping in the Force, though his shields are quite strong. That is probably the answer he hoped he would get.
"Okay," he murmurs awkwardly, pocketing the riverstone and absently rubbing the back of his neck like a nervous Initiate. "I guess I'll just leave then."
And he turns away, already heading toward the door.
Ever cannot help but feel… odd, as he walks away. Strangely empty.
"When we first met… I instantly hated you, you know," she abruptly says, though she does not understand why on Coruscant she would confess something like that.
It stops Obi-Wan dead on his tracks. He does not face her, but she can see how his shoulders tense and how he clench his fists tightly, nails digging into his palms.
"What about now?" he asks quietly, and there is deep sorrow in his weary voice.
"… I am not sure. What about you?"
But he does not answer, and five seconds later he is gone. And Ever feels like the worst person in the whole Galaxy, because there is a minuscule water drop on the floor, right where he was standing. The lonely tear of a Jedi forbidden to cry.
She wishes she could run after him, shout she is sorry and hold him as they grieve for Qui-Gon together - because she sees now how much they need each other. They are both incredibly lonely and heart-broken, and Obi-Wan is the only person in the universe who can understand her, just as she is the only one who can understand him. She was foolish to reject him, foolish to be so needlessly aggressive and spiteful. Her father would be so ashamed if he could see her!
But it is too late, and there is little chance they ever speak to each other again.
And after a long day spent brooding and meditating, she cries herself to sleep a second time.
The next morning, Ever makes herself a cup of Sapir tea, careful not to spill the water as her hands are still a bit sore despite the bacta. She has her father's robe wrapped around her lean frame and her long, dark brown hair is untied and flowing freely in her back. Her eyes suddenly fall upon her comlink.
She still regrets her attitude toward Obi-Wan, though she is not completely free of her anger and resentment, and the sight of that comlink elicit the powerful desire to just pick it up and call the young Knight right away.
Not that he would answer, but it is worth the try.
Obi-Wan, this is Ever. I wondered if you'd care to come over today?
No, too curt.
Hi Obi-Wan. It's Ever. Can you please meet me at Dex's? I assume you know the place, Qui-Gon used to take me there…
Obi-Wan, can you please come to my apartment so I can apologize for my rudeness? I really need somebody to talk to, and my friends wouldn't understand, and nobody knew my father as well as you did, and I wish we could be friends after all, even if there is still a small part of me that blames you for Qui-Gon's death - I know it wasn't your fault, though! I promise I know it! I know you probably did everything you could to protect him, and I'm sorry you had to watch… I'm such a horrible person! I'm so sorry!
No. Definitively not.
The doorbell's ringing startles her and she almost drops her cup.
"Ever? Can I come in?"
She runs to the door and all put punches the digital lock, using the Force to slide the panel open faster.
"Obi-Wan! What are you doing here?"
She grabs him by the wrist and drags the bewildered Jedi inside, determined to apologize properly before he has the chance to say anything.
"Listen, I am really sorry for the way I treated you yesterday, and I meditated on it all day, and the Force showed me how much of a jerk I've been. And no, I don't hate you anymore, and I was stupid to do so, and if you hate me then it's okay because I deserve it!"
And blinks again.
And there is a long silence.
"I don't hate you either. I never did," he finally answers, and his eyes shine with honesty.
Kriff the Code, Ever is no Jedi.
She pulls him into a hug and sobs her heart out.
And he hugs her back and sobs too.
"I… m-miss… him… so… m-much," she tries to say, but it is difficult since she can barely breathe.
"Shh… shh… I know… I know… I do too…"
And nothing more needs to be said.
Obi-Wan ends up staying for lunch. And then for supper. And then she makes him promise to spend the night here with her, the two of them huddled on the sofa with an holo-movie, Qui-Gon's robe and lots of Sapir tea.
And he accepts, and just sends a message to the Temple asking to one of his friend to take care of his Padawan.
And they talk, talk, talk and talk. That's why he came by, he explains. he wanted to tell her about Anakin. He doesn't know why he didn't do it earlier. Probably because he's still afraid of his new role.
She wanted to send him a message, she explains back, but she didn't know what to say.
It's okay, he tells her, and his smiles is just like Qui-Gon's.
Obi-Wan drops by every time he is on Coruscant, and they spend at least a night together, watching holovids and drinking tea. He leaves early the next morning, before sunrise, but always take the time to buy her pastries for her breakfast.
Once, he takes her to Dex's and it turns out to be the best evening she has ever had. They eat junk food and drink a bit more than wise, but it is worth it since Dex himself sit at their table and tell them funny stories of when he was younger. Ever laughs so hard her ribs hurt.
They are still far from okay, and there still is this horrible pain in their chest whenever they stop for a mere second and remember - but they are slowly healing, and it is something.
Right now, Ever is sitting on the sofa, leaning on Obi-Wan's shoulder, the two of them wrapped in blankets and half buried under mountains of pillows. They are watching a sappy holo-movie (a tragic romance between a Togruta and a Twi'Lek slave), and it is so sickeningly sweet it is giving her cavities. But at least they have food with them and it is relaxing, so there is no reason to complain.
They have worked on her katas and sparred all evening, and then tried to build a fort using only pillows and the Force. That is Obi-Wan's method to train her. Games. It works well, but it is kind of exhausting, and they deserve a little rest.
"Hey, Ever… Do you have a boyfriend?" Obi-Wan suddenly asks as the Togruta passionately kisses the Twi'Lek, the two illuminated by the soft glow of the moonlight.
Great. "Questions and answers" time.
"I just wondered if there was any idiotic, muscular and overly hormonal boy I needed to scare out of his wits amidst your acquaintances," he replies with cheeky grin, frivolously using the Force to steal some of her chips.
"I date whoever I want, and you're not allowed to scare my possible fiancés with your "I'm a Jedi Knight" look and your lightsaber!" she exclaims playfully, smacking him on the forearm as he tries once more to snatch her tumbler still full of soda.
The Togruta and the Twi'Lek are now fully engaged in the process of making young Hybrids.
"Ugh, gross," Ever and Obi-Wan say at the same time, wrinkling their nose.
"You know, one of my friends asked me if it wasn't too hard to be engaged in a long distance relationship. I think she's certain we are in love," Ever confesses, snorting at Obi-Wan's appalled expression.
"That would be disgusting! That would be like dating my…"
He hesitates, unsure whether this is a limit he is allowed to cross.
"Your?" Ever urges, hope swelling in her chest.
"… My sister."
She smiles broadly, resting her head on his lap and waiting for him to play with her hair as if she was some kind of gigantic cat.
"… You look like your mother, you know," he remarks softly, staring into her luminous green eyes. "That's why I worry about you - you're just as beautiful as Tahl, and I'm often far away from Coruscant."
And he sighs seriously, stroking her dark brown locks. She makes an offended face, poking at his belly.
"Hey, you're not my bodyguard! I don't need protection. I've got my lightsaber and I'm pretty good at Ataru. I can even use Jar'Kai."
And Obi-Wan unexpectedly bursts out laughing.
"Just as I said, exactly like your mother."
"Can you tell me about her?"
And Ever listens avidly to his tales. His gentle voice gradually lulls her to sleep against her volition, and an hour later she can no longer keep her eyes open. She is already almost slumbering when she hears Obi-Wan's contrite chuckle.
"The Council would have my hide for this. I'm not breaking the rule of non-attachment, I'm trampling on its remains."
She smiles fondly and lets out a content sigh.
"Our father would be so proud of you," she whispers with a minuscule giggle, just as dreams finally claim her.
And Obi-Wan can only stares, agape, emotion threatening to shatter his composure.
About two months later, Ever receives a call from the Jedi Temple. The call is not from Obi-Wan's comlink, and she stares at her own device suspiciously, before hesitantly accepting the communication.
"Are you Ever Uvain-Jinn?"
Time itself seem to freeze as Ever stares the comlink, horrified. A thousand thoughts rush into her mind, colliding, giving her a terrible headache. Somebody in the Jedi Temple knows who she is. Somebody who is not Obi-Wan. She hyperventilates, she is going to pass out, she…
"Are you okay?"
The voice again.
Calm down, Ever. Calm down. Breathe. The Force. The Force, remember? Focus on the Force, focus on the here and now. Worry for the future later.
"Y-Yes, yes," she stammers. "I'm all right. I… Who are you?"
"Are you Ever Uvain-Jinn?"
It hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts… Qui-Gon…
"You are Qui-Gon Jinn's daughter, aren't you?"
Cold. Emotionless. Jedi-like. This is more than she can take.
"WHO ARE YOU?!?" Ever yells, on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
"My name is Feemor. Obi-Wan just returned from a mission and is severely injured. I thought you might help."
And it is the nightmare of Qui-Gon's death all over again. Ever is beyond panic now, beyond denial and fear. She staggers, collapses on her knees and throws up, again, again and again, her mind numb with all encompassing dread.
Distantly noticing the voice in the comlink, Ever stands up, shaking, and goes to the refresher. Wipes away the vomit from her lips. Takes several deep breaths in front of the mirror. Dresses with fresh clothes. Brushes her hair. Takes several deep breaths again. Drinks some water. Leaves the room and picks up her comlink.
"I'm on my way."
And she rushes out of her apartment, running to the nearest air taxi station. Her blood pulse wildly and her heart feels like it is about to explodes, while oxygen burns her lungs and leaves her breathless. The taxi driver glances toward her with compassion as she collapses on his backseat, breathing heavily. His green lekku twitch as he starts the engines, still studying her curiously.
"Jedi Temple, please," Ever murmurs wearily, closing her eyes and ignoring the cabman's surprise. "As fast as you can."
Obi-Wan, please don't die, please don't die, please don't die.
"It'll take quite some time, ma'am. The Jedi Temple ain't too close," the Twi'Lek points out, one eyebrow arched. "And it's gonna cost ya no small amount of money."
"I don't care ! Just get me there!" she snaps.
And the desperate edge in her tone closes the argument.
It takes indeed almost two hours to reach the Temple, during which Ever is so nervous she is afraid the windows might break under the strain of her anxiety. The Force around her is unbalanced and disturbed, and she is not sure she can control its power in her state.
Unable to relax or meditate, Ever just stares at the traffic, chewing her nails.
Please don't die, Obi-Wan, please don't die.
… If you die I kill you.
And then her comlink beeps again, and she all but yelps in surprise.
"Feemor, is that you?? Is Obi-Wan okay?" she exclaims in the device, not caring if the driver can hear the entire conversation.
"… Who the kriff is Feemor, Ever? It's Alka, by the way. You remember we're going out with Rahel and Ni-Ara in less than an hour, right? I was just calling to check if you were ready. Is everything okay?"
Ever rubs her eyes and lets out an exhausted sigh.
"No… I'm sorry, you'll have to enjoy yourselves without me. Somebody whose name is Feemor just called me - apparently Obi-Wan is hurt."
Severely injured. He returned from a mission severely injured. Oh, please don't die Obi-Wan! Please don't die!
"Oh no, sweetie, I'm so sorry. I hope it's not too bad"
Alka's heavily accented and slightly too compassionate voice to be entirely genuine does nothing to help Ever's nerves, and she snaps harshly at her friend.
"I hope too. Is that all?"
"Yes, I won't bother you any longer. I'll tell Rahel and Ni-Ara you can't come since your Jedi boyfriend is hurt."
"Alka! He is not my boy-"
Ever stares stupidly at her comlink for a few seconds and then pocket it without another thought, too worried to care about her classmates anymore. Even the inquisitive glances from the taxi driver leaves her indifferent.
Please don't die, Obi-Wan. Don't leave me like he did. Don't. You're not allowed too.
At long last the air taxi arrives at the Temple, and Ever all but jumps out of it, tossing three credit chips at the driver, unconcerned by their worth.
"Keep the change," she shouts over her shoulder as she runs toward the nearest entrance.
A tall, blond Human is standing there, apparently waiting for her. His Jedi tunics are white instead of cream, and he wears a black robe, which is fairly unusual, but apart from that there is nothing particular or even remotely shocking about him. He has a slightly tanned skin that cannot compete with Ever's dark honey complexion, and his pale blue eyes are a mockery to Qui-Gon's or Obi-Wan's, but he has still a rather pleasant face, and wears a kind if somewhat tired smile.
He must be Feemor , Ever thinks absently as he greets her with a small bow and hands her a hooded robe.
"Is Obi-Wan okay?? Can I see him??"
"Calm down, Ever," he says soothingly gently, motioning her to put on the robe. "I am the one who called you. Obi-Wan is not dying, I can promise you that. Now, I need you to wear this - without the hood, mind you, you would only draw attention on yourself - and act as if everything was normal. I am going to take you to the Hall of Healings. Do not stare. Understood?"
She nods and follows him as he guides her inside.
"How do you know who I am?" she cannot help but inquires as they enter the Temple.
"Obi-Wan asked for you."
"But how do you know my last names? How do you know… who my father was? Who else knows about me?"
Feemor does not look at her, but the Force swell with emotion and his eyes shine with a strange light when he answers quietly her questions.
"I knew you father. He told me about you, but we never met because I thought it would be best to limit your interactions with Jedi. Beside, Qui-Gon and I were not really close at the time, which I direly regret now. Apart from Obi-Wan, a Healer named Vokara Che and myself, I am not aware of anybody knowing about your existence, and certainly I hope it remains that way. The fact you could be easily be mistaken for a younger version of your mother is not helping."
And Ever suddenly has an epiphany.
"… You were my father's first Padawan, weren't you? I remember now! He told me about you!"
Feemor smiles, but stays silent as they encounter several Knights and Masters. The more they walk, the more Ever realizes how immense is the Temple. There are hundreds of people, all looking different and similar at the same time. Things are peaceful yet busy, and Ever is filled with an agreeable sensation of calm and tranquility. A sentiment of belonging.
She almost forgets her concern for Obi-Wan. Almost.
When they finally arrive to the Halls of Healing, a tall blue Twi'Lek woman looks at her suspiciously, before letting both of them in with a curt nod.
"Do not stay too long, young one. And be careful not to wake up his Padawan, who is resting in a room nearby - the lad is very inquisitive and would not doubt ask a lot of questions."
Ever acquiesce a bit reluctantly and enter one of the individual chambers with Feemor. The room is dimly lit, and it takes a few seconds for her eyes to adjust, but she can distinguish a bed. She has to bite back a cry of dismay when she eventually catch sight of whose is lying on it.
Obi-Wan is tossing weakly, eyes rolling restlessly beneath closed eyelids, clammy brow furrowed in pain, a wince on his boyish features. His shirtless torso is swathed in bandages and the air smells heavily of bacta, though its synthetic scent cannot completely mask the blood's iron-like one.
The young Knight moans quietly as Feemor gingerly touches his shoulder, a deep affection perceptible in the gentle gesture.
"Obi-Wan? Obi-Wan, can you wake up for me?"
But the wounded Jedi only mumbles incoherently, and Feemor sighs, shoulders sagging in defeat.
"I will leave you two alone," he says to Ever, and he gets out.
She slowly approaches her wounded "brother" and sit carefully on the bed.
Obi-Wan looks smaller than he uses to, she notices as she takes his limp hand and gently squeeze the unresponsive fingers.
The despair and suffering emanating from him are almost unbearable. Leaning forward, Ever is able to hear what he is mumbling about, and it chills her to the bone.
"No no no no no… Master… Please… Master… it's not too late… No…"
"Obi-Wan! Obi-Wan, wake up! That's not real," she urges, tears blurring her vision.
But Obi-Wan keeps mumbling, and Ever cannot do anything but listen and watch, helpless, as he lives Qui-Gon's death once more.
"Master… my fault… I'm sorry… it's my fault… don't go, please… it's my fault…"
"Please stay with me… Master… should have been me… my fault… no, please no…"
The heartbreaking murmurs carry on for another excruciatingly long minute, but at long last the closed eyelids flutter open, and teary blue grey eyes find Ever's emerald ones.
"Why? Why did he have to leave?" comes the broken whisper.
"I don't know," Ever replies quietly.
And she lays beside him, and they cling to each other like drowning people. They do not cry this time, because they are too empty. The half-healed wounds in their hearts have been brutally torn open by the razor-sharp memories, and they bleed together.
Ever do not feel the tender fingers stroking her cheek, and Obi-Wan is unaware of the gentle hand ruffling his hair. They are not the only ones who are hurting, though they do not know it.
They fall asleep fast and nothing can seem to awaken them, not even the two Masters coming into the room.
Vokara Che has tried to keep Master Yoda and Master Windu from entering Obi-Wan's rooms when they required it, but she is not particularly worried about their reaction is going to be when they do it anyway. She even winks reassuringly at Feemor.
Indeed, there was no need for concern. The Council Members just stares at the two young ones silently, and they both exit the chamber without a word.
When Feemor asks Mace if he knew about her , the other only shrugs and smiles ruefully.
"I never thought Coruscant could be so beautiful," Ever remarks quietly a few weeks later, as Obi-Wan and she contemplate the traffic down below, and the billions of minuscule lights flickering in the night as far as the eye can see.
He hums softly in answer.
"Wanna go to Dex's?" she inquires after a few minutes.
And they jump from one rooftop to another, relishing the sensation of flying.
They are still far from okay, but they are slowly healing, and that is something.