Obi-Wan sat pensively and worked very hard to both appear very engaged, but not so engaged as to warrant any involvement from him. It was a balance he was looking for, and one he was sure he wasn’t achieving in the least. His gratitude to the other councilors for their discretion was practically boundless.
Discussing initiates who were about to be kicked into the corps or completely out of the Order was still a bit of a sore subject for him.
Whatever the other councilors thought of him, Obi-Wan had been, and had seen, one too many Jedi with great promise thrown to the way side over such an archaic rule. What was the point of it? One of the core teachings of the Order was that Jedi could learn at any age, and another was to accept the will of the Force. Well the Force might know that some Jedi simply wouldn’t be ready until later in life. Who were they to say, “Good try, you were given a great gift by the Force to serve and I, a lowly mortal being, am telling you to leave your only home and only family you know because, you know, 13-17 is so very old. You are just not what we're looking for. And, you know, we tried. Good luck out there feeling terrible because we promised you great things and then told you that you aren’t worthy.”
Obi-Wan acknowledged his bitterness and worked on letting it pass.
That was the problem though, his inability to be unbiased in these discussions. So Obi-Wan kept his mouth shut because every initiate whose image flickered to life made him want to scream and start throwing a hissy fit about reformation. The rest of the council would certainly not approve and that would hurt his ability to make actual changes. So Obi-Wan acknowledged his outrage, then that there was nothing he could do about it right this second, and let it pass to reflect on later. Over, and over, and over again. As many times as he would need to acknowledge and release his emotions. He passed a great deal of time this way.
What a waste of potential.
Some sort of decision was made regarding the current initiate, as the twi’lek’s holopic faded quickly away with a hiss before a new image flickered to life in it’s place. A togruta girl was now projected in front of them. Her initiate robes were immaculately pressed and her face as carefully blank as everyone else when their holos were taken for the archives. There was nothing to be gleaned from the image at all except to familiarize the council with her face.
Obi-Wan didn’t know her, but the extremely awkward pause let him know that someone here did. Which meant this was bound to be explosive by council standards, he did his best not to snicker.
“Ahsoka Tano, age 14, Clawmouse Clan Leader. Noted for her raw talent in the living force, compassion, and readiness to learn. She has good grades, and gets along well with many of her instructors. That said, she has a notable lack of a social group. She posses unrefined skill in the Force, a thirst for Knowledge, but a noticeable lack of self-discipline when any emotions are involved. Tano is also noted for her stubbornness, willingness to take justice into her own hands, violence, and for her inability to release her negative emotions. Tano was brought in front of the Disciplinary Council for aggressively beating a Padawan in the training salles after the Padawan had told a youngling in Clawmouse that he would not make it as a Jedi.” Mace paused and Obi-Wan did his best to ignore the way a few councilors glanced at him. “Frankly, Tano is walking a tightrope right now. She is top of her class and one of the most promising Initiates the Order has seen in years, but her emotional issues are becoming more of a problem as time goes on. Interventions, so far, have been unsuccessful.”
Plo shifted forward in his seat. “I believe that these issues, while occasionally severe, come from a misunderstanding of some of the Order’s tenants. Ahsoka believes strongly in protecting the weak and bringing people to justice. She can be trained so those become assets instead of hindrances.”
Sasee snorted. “Those misunderstood hindrances landed a Padawan in the Healer’s Ward with a broken nose, severe bruising, and a missing tooth Plo. She is dangerous if left unchecked.”
“I agree, that is why I believe that she should not be left unchecked in the corps or by releasing her back to her family.” Plo spoke softly, fingers steepled as he settled in for a fight.
Oh. Oh dear, Master Plo? Obi-Wan smothered his smile with a free hand. This had to be one of his foundlings for Plo to come out the gate swinging for her. Honestly it made Obi-Wan instantly a bit more fond of the girl. While Plo could be shockingly obstinate he was at least a good man, and anyone he would choose to defend was certainly going to be worthy of the honor.
“I agree,” Mace said, shocking nearly the entire room. Mace was usually far more reserved in his recommendations. “Tano’s power and her anger would not be passed over by Dooku. If we sent her to her family, she would not make it home. If she did, she would hurt someone and he’d hear of it there. We all know he’s been recruiting some of the more...unstable of our Initiates who leave the Order.”
Recruited was a terrible euphemism. It was also a depressingly true fact, one the council had fought tooth and nail to keep under wraps. That Dooku had successfully taken (whether kidnapped, coerced, or recruited was currently a topic of spirited debate) a handful of washouts, and no one knew what had become of them since. Obi-Wan was certain they were being trained in darker arts. The council was practically just waiting for them to be released on the galaxy as Sith Apprentices, and those that were not, well, Sith are not known for allowing failure lightly. All that said, it was a well accepted truth that one must be open to darkness before one can fall. However, Jedi had a bit of trouble discerning between being open and actively wanting. They also had a problem with taking action when their reputation was on the line. He understood there were politics in play that could prevent their involvement, but that was not always the case.
The way that Plo Koon leaned forward spoke a bit too much to his own issues with attachments. He was cut off before he could even start.
“Plo,” Shaak’s voice was still soothing even with the slight fuzziness to her hologram, “no one is suggesting that Ahsoka is dark. I agree that she would be very dangerous if taken.”
“So we allow her to run free amongst our ranks? No, she must be brought to heel and the potential darkness stopped before it can grow. Tano’s record shows little sign of slowing down; all attempts to stop her propensity for violence have not worked.” Kit rested his elbows on his knees, his eyes trained not on her holopic but on the datapad in his hands. Obi-Wan hummed softly to himself. Well that was industrious of him wasn’t it? “I am not convinced that she would make it as an apprentice. She may do better pursuing a career within the Service Corps. She is noted as a calm and dedicated educator for youngling classes, and handles her clan well. Perhaps the Edu-Corps could provide her structure and purpose without risking her being dismissed?”
“If her issues are truly so deep, should she be trusted to educate future Jedi? Besides, I cannot see Tano willingly becoming an archivist.” Coleman’s voice warbled and clicked from the far side of the room filled with his amusement at the idea.
Even laughed, apparently tickled by whatever image was dancing through his head. “She would leave the Order if she was sent to Agri-Corps.”
“Not if she understood the importance of the group. She is strong in the living force, and if she understood the way she would be aiding those who have been hurt-”
“No really, imagine a togruta with anger issues nurturing a little green shoot-”
“If there is darkness in her then we are obligated to ensure that she-”
“Master Piell, I am not sure I appreciate the very broad brush you are using-”
“Frankly the Edu-Corps could use a kick in the pants-”
“There is concern if she is put on the battlefield, surrounded by ‘the glory of war’-”
“Lets not mince words, when former Jedi are abducted like this we must-”
“Imagine Madame Nu’s face-”
“Ahsoka is perfectly fit to be a Padawan, some simple guidance is-”
“Master Plo, attachment is dangerous-”
“I am not suggesting myself!”
“You’d think holocrons couldn’t burn but she could probably-”
“No, no, no, she is too dangerous to leave in the Order, if we just keep an eye on-”
“She can learn to appreciate life through her work restoring biospheres if-”
“Where are you seeing her as fit to even remain-”
“And give Dooku a new apprentice? I think not!”
Obi-Wan sat silently in his chair, one leg crossed over the other and stared at the slowly rotating hologram. None of the other Initiates they had discussed had garnered such a robust discussion. He glanced around the chamber and noted that Master Yoda was also silently observing, and perhaps communing with the Force. Obi-Wan sighed and refocused his gaze. He would be asked to weigh in on this one, but it was just so similar to his own situation. How had the Council discussed him as his 13 birthday arrived? Had Master Poof firmly insisted that Obi-Wan be released from the Order? Had Master Yaddle tried to convince them that he would work well in the archives? For the first time he wondered who had put forth the Agri-Corps for him. An old wound pulled painfully. Perhaps the Agri-Corps had been suggested for him to help control his anger as well.
From his seat, Obi-Wan could see her in profile now. Her face was blank, but her jaw seemed tight now that he was looking. Fists clenched behind her back. Brow lifted in nervousness.
It was like looking at a distorted hologram of his younger self.
A tingle ran up his spine and his breathing picked up. Like himself. The room seemed to fade away, carrying his fellow council members voices and their concerns with them. Every Jedi has potential. Every single Jedi is deserving of their compassion, and deserving of their consideration. No sentient being deserves to be thrown aside or tucked away as a problem to be solved by someone else. They all have worth. Everyone of them. Even those with darker inclinations deserved a chance to rise and thrive. There is good in them. There was good in him. There was good in this Initiate.
She was a protector. A guardian. A beacon of light and hope and safety to those that she had saved.
Obi-Wan felt the tingle spreading to the rest of his body. Just like he was, just as Anakin was. And stars above if he could help Anakin to grow into the Jedi he was today perhaps...perhaps...oh dear. What could he do? It wasn’t as if Obi-Wan wasn’t still being used to shepherd Anakin and teach him even past his apprenticeship. Was he suggesting he should take her on with all he had during a war? Could he give her the time and effort she deserved? Another question taunted him from the edges of his mind.
If not him then who?
The Force sang softly to him. The council was in favor of sending her to the Service Corps unless someone declared their intent to teach her. The council would throw her away when she could be so much more. He was spinning his own mental wheels. The Force sang to him.
“If I may,” Obi-Wan was somewhat shocked to realize he’d raised his voice in his bid to be heard. The council grew silent, turning to look at him. Well might as well finish what he’d started. Trust in the Force. “Masters, if there are no objections, I would be honored to take Ahsoka Tano as my apprentice. I believe I can assist her with her more emotionally driven issues, and it allows a Council Member to keep a close eye on her progress. If that progress does not appear satisfactory we can revisit assigning her to the Service Corps at a later date.”
There was a beat of silence where he had to wonder if he’d grown a second head. He’d already trained one Padawan, he could train another. He could do this if they would stop worrying that the Sith Killer was going to train her. Obi-Wan managed to keep a bland smile on his face and let the thought pass like a cloud breaking in the sunlight. He was Master Kenobi. He was a council member. He was assured of his place, talents, and knew his own weaknesses. He could train her.
Master Yoda chuckled, drawing attention to himself. “Assist initiate Tano through her emotional turmoil you can? Yes. Yes, similarities you see?”
Obi-Wan inclined his head. “Of course, anyone here could see the parallels between us. I believe those similarities would allow me to teach her how to release that anger. To take more caution and to allow her compassion to overcome her more violent inclinations.”
“Perhaps,” Yoda said with his own bland smile.
Obi-Wan felt a small flare of annoyance. Was his own originator implying that he was a poor teacher? He could feel his pride prickle and allowed himself a moment of foolishness. “I am formally declaring my intention to take Ahsoka Tano as my Padawan. If there are no objections I shall make the offer this evening.”
Obi-Wan mentally cringed. Oh this had Qui Gon’s dirty fingerprints all over it. Of course, his Master would have simply asked her and then next morning arrived at the council chamber to have the bonding ceremony. Obi-Wan was simply not able to come up with the attitude to do so. Not that this wasn’t about as close as he’d ever come to spitting in the council’s face. Why did he always have to piss off the bulk of the council when deciding to take on a Padawan? Obi-Wan’s smile turned sharp at the edges. Well, he was still Qui Gon’s Padawan he supposed. Shocking and enraging the council was probably his entire future.
Well, some of the council. Plo’s warm gratitude and Shaak’s gentle agreement cut a dazzling path through the rest of their jumbled emotions.
“No objections this council has,” Yoda said, still hiding his true thoughts behind a wooden smile, “when the time comes, be Tano’s Master you may. However, wait you will, much to discuss we still have.”
Well, that was unexpected. Obi-Wan blinked and the hologram shifted, a human girl now in her place. Once more Obi-Wan leaned back in his seat, content to let the conversation drift around him. That had not been outright approval from Master Yoda, that hadn’t even sounded like grudging approval. It had been almost cryptic sounding. The Force was gone from him now, quiet and still as he struggled to understand why there had not been more of a fight. With so many against her, Obi-Wan had full heartedly expected to argue his case a bit more thoroughly. Especially as he didn’t even know her. The fact that they moved on was a clear signal that his claim had been accepted on some level, and yet he’d been ordered not to ask her until Master Yoda gave him the go ahead. That was a problem. Obi-Wan hoped the 212th wouldn’t be deployed immediately or else he might not have a chance to speak with Initiate Tano until that had ended. There were many problems he could see with their partnership if not handled well, and that was on top of him keeping an eye on Anakin. Perhaps his life was about to become that much more interesting when-oh. Right. How was he going to explain to Anakin that he was taking on a new apprentice? Anakin was jealous at the best of times, no matter how he worked not to be.
Well, perhaps that was why he’d been allowed to make a claim but not speak with her? Yoda would allow this apprenticeship because it would force him and Anakin a bit further apart, and he wished to first see some results from that. Teach them both lessons on attachment while saving the great potential in one of their own. It was the most likely answer, but it still sat wrong. For the rest of the afternoon Obi-Wan attempted to find other solutions and found none. Not until he had gotten comfortable in bed, drifting near sleep, had another thought occurred to him at all.
When the time comes he may be Ahsoka’s Master. May as in might. May as in let us placate Obi-Wan now and allow this issue to resolve without his input. There was a hot spike of righteous outrage at the realization and absolutely chilling guilt afterwards. May as in, Kenobi is too volatile to train someone like Ahsoka Tano. May as in, we already gave you the once in a lifetime chance to train someone you shouldn’t have trained. May as in, we cannot trust you to do this right as you did not train him right. May as in, you two are too similar. It always came down to that didn’t it. His past and his anger always coming back to haunt him. So many of the council members today were those that had known him as a brash Initiate who washed out. Someone they hoped would be tempered by the Agri-Corps. So much wasted potential, they must have bemoaned as they’d sent him away. Of course he was too similar and they didn’t approve of Anakin fully. With the two of them still attached at the hip...
Perhaps they thought worse of him and Anakin than Obi-Wan had thought.
Here and now Padawan, you cannot know the past and the future is not yet set. Do not lose yourself to them. Be present, be mindful, and if you do not like your future change it.
Qui Gon’s words floated through his memories and Obi-Wan slowly smiled. Yes Master. Catastrophizing his past and mind reading were unbecoming and unhelpful. The future was still in motion. Well then, well then he was just going to have to prove how serious he was. He was just going to need to convince the council through his actions that he would make a good Master for her.
And the first step was to help ease Anakin into the idea that he would have a sister Padawan.
He could practically hear his own Master laughing.
“Yes,” he muttered and closed his eyes, “prepare yourself for my great rebellion...taking on a second Padawan. Shocking.”
Sleep came far easier than he’d expected once he had that rough sketch of a plan. Tomorrow, he would start it off tomorrow.