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Being Kenobi: Life of Lies

Chapter Text

Korkie stared at the starfighters in awe. He was close enough to see his reflection in the gleaming metal, close enough to touch them if he wanted to. There were two, one yellow and the other red, the latest model available. The Jedi crest painted on the wings left no room for doubt as to who they belonged to, and he couldn’t help but hope that he might catch a glance of the pilots.

An r4 unit tootled cheerfully from it’s hardwired position at the front of the red starfighter, conversing eagerly with a blue r2 unit and gold protocol droid. Even though he wasn’t fluent in Binary, Korkie could pick up a few words in the rapid fire conversation between the three. From the protocol droid’s occasional cry of dismay or frightened inquiry, the astromech’s were relating some sort of detailed retelling of a mission they had lately been on that included several harrowing escapes.

Glancing around to see if anyone was watching, he cautiously reached a hand out to touch the shining hull of the ship. As long as he could remember, he had wanted to fly a starfighter, and this would likely be the closest chance he would get. But a second before his finger made contact with the small craft, the r4 unit let out an indignant beep, trilling something in binary that he didn’t understand.

“May I help you?”

He whirled at the sound of the voice behind him, completely caught off guard. Almost immediately he recognized Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, having seen him across the holonet hundreds of times. He looked only slightly different in real life, the dark circles under his eyes and fine laugh lines at the corners of his eyes a telling sign that war was not as glamorous as it was pronounced to be.

But that wasn’t how Korkie knew him. To this day, he remembered the Jedi from a time far before the war, when he’d only been Padawan Kenobi. He’d only been five when the Trade Federation had occupied Naboo, but he still remembered the news anchor reporting the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, Kenobi’s master. His aunt had explained to him then how she knew the two Jedi, who seemed to be the only ones she had an amicable relationship with.

And here he was, in the flesh.

Suddenly, he realised the man was waiting for him to answer his question. Korkie felt his face flush. “I… I just wanted to look at your starfighter. I’ve never seen one up close.”

The Jedi smiled, the hint of a dimple appearing in his cheek. “Is this your first time on Coruscant?”

“Yes.” He’d been once before, but only on a school trip when he was seven. “Is it new?”

“Not new, no. Just recently cleaned.” The man touched the fighter fondly. “There’s word that we’ll be getting replacements soon. I’ll miss her.”

“Miss who, Master?”

Obi-Wan glanced up at the blonde Jedi approaching them. “Nothing of importance. Where did you disappear off to?”

Anakin Skywalker--it was impossible not to recognize one of the most famous people in the entire galaxy--mumbled something unintelligible before turning to Korkie. “And who’s this?”

“Korkie Kryze, of Kalevala.”

Recognition lit in Kenobi’s eyes. “You’re related to Satine, then?”

Satine . So the Jedi did remember her. “Yes, I’m her nephew.” Curiosity rose. “You know her?”

Something--he didn’t know exactly what--clouded Obi-Wan’s eyes. Bittersweet was the only word he had for the emotion. “I did.”

Skywalker raised a skeptical eyebrow, but said nothing.

“Korkie!”

Hearing his aunt’s call, he turned to see her and the Senator Amidala approaching them. Her eyes flickered over his shoulder briefly, and he immediately sensed the shift in her attitude.. Though her smile remained the same, he could see her closing herself off. “Master Kenobi, Jedi Skywalker, a pleasure to see you here.”

The Jedi bowed, Obi-Wan’s a bit stiff and formal, and Skywalker’s full of dramatic flair as he offered the two women a wink. “Duchess, Padmé.”

Senator Amidala smiled fondly at the Jedi. “Anakin, Obi-Wan, it’s good to see you again. I hope you’ve fully recovered, Obi-Wan. The Republic is deeply indebted to you.”

Obi-Wan’s face relaxed somewhat, and he offered the Senator a small smile. “I’m… better, thank you. I’ll certainly feel better once I have a bit of leave.”

Anakin grinned. “Which he’s been avoiding like the plague. I don’t think he even sleeps anymore.”

“Death has a way of rearranging one’s priorities,” Obi-Wan murmured softly, frowning. “If you’ll excuse us, Senator, Duchess, we must be going.”

He sensed her words a few seconds before they left her mouth.

“Obi-Wan, wait.” There was a desparation in her voice that Korkie hadn’t heard in years. Desparation that echoed with a sadness that seemed to roll off of her in waves.

The Jedi hesitated for a single second. Then, with a small smile, he bowed again. “Take care of yourself, Satine.”

He thought she was going to break, but she didn’t. Instead, she drew herself together and forced an understanding, if pained, smile. “Don’t die this time, if you please.”

A moment of mutual understanding passed between the two before Kenobi turned to climb into his starfighter. “Come, Anakin, we were supposed to be halfway to the rendezvous point by now.”

“Yes, Master.” The younger Jedi offered them a salute before dramatically flipping into his cockpit. “See ya, Padmé, threepio. Ready, artoo?”

The blue droid trilled a response as he settled in his spot, prompting a grin from Anakin, and a shake of the head from Obi-Wan. Before he knew it, the fighters hummed to life, and his aunt was pulling him back. A small but enthusiastic wave from Skywalker, and the tiny ships were lifting off of the landing pad and speeding off into the busy world of Coruscant.

The Senator and his aunt both sighed gently and turned to walk back in the direction of where the speeder was waiting, but Korkie stood there for a few more moments, straining to catch the last glimpse of the Jedi duo.

Kenobi and Skywalker. The Negotiator and the Hero with no Fear. Considered by most to be two of the best Jedi in the galaxy. Anakin Skywalker alone was widely considered to be the best Jedi, if the media were to be believed. But even though Korkie had little doubt that it was true, it had been the Master who had caught his attention.

Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even from the short time he had met the man, he instinctually knew this would not be the last he saw of the Jedi.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter One: The Beginning of the End

His aunt would never approve.

Korkie Kryze sipped on his whiskey, doing his best to blend in with the other bar occupants. It was his third time there, but there were still a few curious glances turned in his direction on occasion. Even now, he could feel eyes on the back of his head, likely from the smuggler in the leather jacket. Each night, he had watched him, to what end, Korkie didn’t know.

But he had a feeling that he would find out soon.

Cheers went up from all around him, drawing his eyes back to their original focus. Bathed in pulsing blue and purple lights, the stage at the front of the room was the main attraction. The first act, two scantily dressed purple twi’leks, sauntered off the platform, hips and breasts swaying sensually. But their movements went unnoticed by him, even when one shot him a sultry wink.

His eyes were fixed on the stage entrance, waiting for what he knew was coming. Only three nights and he already knew her. Not that there was much to know.

Tonight. He would approach her tonight.

If he lasted that long without embarrassing himself. He shifted uncomfortably, remembering with keen regret that alcohol and self-control rarely went hand in hand.

She was younger than most of the other performers, but nothing about her body said it. Generous curves gave her figure a stark contrast to the girls he was used to seeing, the honeyed skin only serving to increase the difference. Tonight, her hair was a curly gold, contrasting sharply with the startling deep purple of her contact lenses. Just like the heavy makeup and skimpy silk garb, they changed every night.

His aunt would never approve.

Her hands, the only small thing about her, grasped the silver pole in the center of the platform, and with a strength that seemed almost impossible, she pulled herself a full two feet off the ground before spinning around.

He was ruined.

“Sir?”

Korkie started, nearly spilling his drink. Relief filled him when he saw one of the bartenders, but it did nothing to assuage the guilt gnawing in his gut. “Yes?”

“There’s a gentleman at the bar who wants to speak to you.” The barkeeper pointed to a patron sipping on a drink, and Korkie was sure his heart stopped.

Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Well, shavit.

Of course he would have to be at the same bar as the only Jedi in the galaxy who knew his aunt personally.

Blast all the force-forsaken kriffing bantha poodoo.

Abandoning his drink with a hefty tip, he glanced back at the stage one more time, catching a fleeting glimpse of her voluptuous figure curved around the slender silver pole gracefully.

Goodbye .

When he looked back to the bar, Kenobi was watching him with a small, amused smile, twirling his shot around in its glass before tossing it back. Korkie didn’t say a word as he followed him out of the bar and into the dimly lit Coruscanti underbelly.

“Does Satine know you’re here?”

“Yes.” The lie slipped out easily, too easily.

The Jedi raised an eyebrow. “A word of wisdom, young one. Don’t ever lie to a Jedi.” His eyes flickered to the doorway as bawdy cheers erupted, signalling the climax of the performance. Korkie flinched, knowing that even as they stood there, one of the audience members was likely approaching her, touching her, asking her what no decent man would.

Would she say yes?

His gut twisted at the very thought.

“You’re no better than them, though, are you?”

For a moment, he thought the words were from his seemingly dormant conscious, but the distinct Coruscanti accent suggested that it was not so.

“She doesn’t want to be in there.” It wasn’t the first time he had said it, but it was the first time he had said it aloud, to anyone other than himself.

Kenobi seemed unconvinced. “And you know this how? I suppose you asked her?”

Warning bells went off in his head, but he didn’t know why. “I don’t… No, but…”

“But?”

“I just… I know, okay?” Something in the Jedi’s eyes made him uncomfortable, and he forced himself to look away. “I know.”

More cheers wafted through the air, likely signalling the beginning of the next act, and he could feel his blood boil. Not five minutes ago, they’d been cheering for her, and already their attention was diverted. Momentary entertainment, that was all she was to them. No sooner than she was out of their sight, their lusts were focused on the next set of tits.

Three nights. It had been all it took to be completely taken. He’d never touched her, yet he could have sworn that it was her skin that he felt in his dreams. He was obsessed with her, with the mystery that was her.

“Hey, Kenobi!” A dark skinned man with a yellow stripe tattooed across her nose jogged up to them, followed closely by a blue twi’lek woman and green nautolan man, both who looked slightly familiar. “You just making it?”

Kenobi’s eyebrows raised, seemingly amused. “Actually, Vos, I was on time. Just stepped out to speak to this young man for a moment.”

Immediately, the man’s focus switched to him, curiosity shining in the dark eyes. “Not another fan?”

“Hey Quinlan, Aayla, look at him. Who does he look like?” the Nautolan grinned, seemingly oblivious to his presence. “The hair, the eyebrows, the chin…”

The twi’lek burst out laughing, leaning against Vos’s shoulder, who also broke into a grin. “He does look a bit like our Oafy, doesn’t he? You didn’t tell us you had a kid, Kenobi.”

The Jedi Master’s amusement was clear as he crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m afraid I must have also been excluded from the secret, for no one told me. But on a serious note, Quinlan, Aayla, Kit, this is Korkie Kryze.”

The Nautolan’s eyes seemed to grow larger than ever, and Vos and the twi’lek’s laughter immediately turned to a hacking cough, “What the hell, Kenobi?” the man sputtered. “You know I was joking, right? Kriff, I knew you and the Duchess were tangoing between the sheets, but I didn’t know…”

“If you had let me finish,” here, Kenobi pinned his friend with a stern look, “I would have mentioned that he is Satine’s nephew .”

The hacking discontinued, and relief crossed the trio’s face all at once. Quinlan punched his friend in the shoulder indignantly. “Gods, Kenobi, you nearly gave me a heart attack. Don’t ever do anything like that again.” He grinned at Korkie, seemingly back to normal. “Though Force knows the kid looks like you. Sure you didn’t leave more than your robe with your little Duchess?”

Kenobi didn’t hesitate to contradict his friend’s jab, returning it with one of his own that was taken with equal good humor. But for some reason, the exchange didn’t sit well with Korkie. It felt as if something inside of him was trying to tell him something from it, something about himself. But what?

“Korkie,” the rich Coruscanti accent startled him out of his thoughts once again, and Kenobi raised an eyebrow. “Remember what I told you, and tell her Grace I might be by soon.”

“Yes, sir.” He backed up quickly, suddenly wanting to be anywhere except for there. The whiskey was finally effecting him, muddling his sense of truth. Suddenly--- he had no idea why--- the Jedi’s teasing words all seemed to ring true to his mind. And surely he hadn’t meant… that… when he said a tango between the sheets, right?

Back inside the bar, any trace of her was gone. A trio of Togrutans were on stage, the lights glinting off of glittering piercings and metallic tattoos as they displayed feats of flexibility. Someone had taken both his seat and his whiskey, but he had no interest in either anymore. The room felt close, the music too loud, the company bawdy and uncivilized. Quickly retrieving his jacket, which was thankfully still under his seat, he was about to leave when one of the patrons waved him over.

The smuggler, the one who’d been watching him. Glossy, jet black hair was carefully combed back, reflecting the same arrogance as the smirk he wore. His jacket and leather holster looked expensive, but there was nothing cultured about the man.

Everything about him screamed snake .

“Hey, kid.” An ostentatious gold tooth glinted in the strangers mouth, further confirming him to be rich but uncultured. “Your old man making you go?”

It took him a few minutes to realize he was talking about Master Kenobi, but when he did, Korkie bristled. Why did everyone think the man was his father tonight? “He’s not my old man. I don’t even know him.” The alcohol was slowly taking over his senses, making him lose grip on his temper, already always on a thin leash. “I’ve seen what I wanted to see. You got a problem with that?”

The man’s greasy eyebrows shot up, and he grinned. “Easy, friend. I don’t mean no harm.” He tried to clap him on his back, but Korkie shrugged him off, stepping away. “A bit feisty, are ya? Well, no harm done.”

Something about the man’s nonchalant attitude irritated him. “What do you want?”

The grin slipped for a moment. “Saw you watching Amadi.”

“What?”

He nodded to the stage. “The girl on the pole. Amadi.”

Amadi. His chest clenched some. That was her name. “Ah, her.”

Shrewd eyes watched him from over a glass of whiskey. “You like?”

Never let them know they have your interest . It was one of his aunt’s favorite things to say, though she probably meant about politicians instead of smugglers. Okay, scratch that. Definitely. “She’s okay.”

“She’s okay,” the smuggler repeated, eyes narrowing. He tried a different tack. “I know her.”

Korkie hummed noncommittally, drumming his fingers absently on the table top.

Frustration radiated off of the man, showing in the way he sat forward tensely. “I’m supposed to meet her, tomorrow night. Take her home, that kind of stuff. Thing is, I’ve got a load early tomorrow morning, and I might not get back in time, but I paid her good money.” The corner of his mouth tugged up in a smirk. “I might be persuaded to let someone else take her, if they’re interested.”

Money. Of course that’s what it came down to. “And what would someone need to persuade you?”

“Two and a half grand would about do it.”

Korkie scoffed. “Twenty five hundred credits? No girl’s worth that.” The man must be desperate.

“Amadi is.” He grinned, leaning back and making obscene motions with his hands. “That girl knows how to give it to you. Mind you, I paid almost twice that much for her.”

Everything rang true, and blast it, the offer was tempting. “Even if I wanted her…” which he did, and badly. “...I’m sure it would be much simpler to deal with the woman directly. After all, what’s to say you’re not lying to me?”

The man tossed back the remainder of his drink, seemingly unconcerned. “Nothing. But then, what’s to say she’ll be here for anyone to ask her? You see, my friend, girls like her move around often. A few days here, a few days there. Never too long in one spot, or things start to look suspicious, if you know what I mean.”

Korkie didn’t, but he sensed the truth in his words. “Two thousand.”

A smirk, and the man sat back. “Done.”


 

Something was off.

Satine watched Korkie carefully as they ate breakfast. For the past few days, he’d seemed absent, and today more than usual. There were dark circles around his eyes, suggesting that he hadn’t been sleeping well. It was his first time being on Coruscant with her; it was too risky to bring him, though it was better now. Perhaps the thrill of being on the city-world was keeping him up.

“Auntie?”

Her heart stuttered at the title as it always did. “Yes, Korkie?”

“Who were my parents?” Ocean blue eyes--- she would be lying if she said they were not identical to her own--- gazed back at her, seemingly unaware of what they were asking. “I mean, I know I’m your nephew, but how, exactly?”

Of course he would want to know. She had known this day would come, and had honestly thought it would come sooner. Yet, she still wasn’t prepared. “You were my brother’s son, as I told you before. Your mother was a nobody, a girl who didn’t want a child.” The lies tasted as foul on her tongue as the parfait she’d been nibbling at. “He was killed several months before your birth, in a bombing on Kalevala, and she disappeared shortly after you were born. As my only living relation, I took you in.”

His brow furrowed, and he stroked his chin thoughtfully. “The bombings… that’s wrong.”

She blinked. “What?”

“They only bombed Kalevala twice. The second time was over a year before I was born.”

A quick mental calculation proved he was right. Blast it, why hadn’t she realized it before? “There must have been a mistake.”

His eyes narrowed. “Or my mother was lying.”

“I’ll check the files after breakfast,” she promised, knowing that there were no such files to look at. “Someone probably made an error.”

He grunted, turning back to his food. She sighed in relief, glad that he had let the subject go. But peace could only reign for so long.

“How did you know Master Kenobi?”

She choked on her tea, forcing her to cough into her napkin. Surely he had not asked what she thought he asked. “What?”

Blue eyes bored into hers, and she knew he knew something. What other reason could there be? “I asked how you met Master Kenobi.”

“He and his former Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, were sent to protect me when Sundari fell.” Best to go with the truth. “Why do you ask?”

Korkie ignored her question. “Were you close?”

He knew, oh Force, he knew. But how? What had he seen or heard to make him put two and two together? “We were… friends, if you will. As you may imagine, the war didn’t give us much time to build relationships.” She tried to search his expression for any clue of what had brought this on, but his face remained impassive. “What is it, Korkie?”

“I went… out… last night, to clear my head, and I ran into him and some of his friends. He recognized me.” Here, his eyes dropped, and Satine knew there was more to the story than what he was telling. “When he told his friends who I was, they made… insinuations… that you were… you had…” His face turned bright red, and Satine knew exactly what had been said.

“That we had sex?” His face flushed brighter, and he nodded. Damn you, Obi-Wan and your uncouth friends . “I see.”

“He’s a Jedi.”

The reminder was a swift, cruel dagger to her heart. “Yes.”

“Did he…” The boy swallowed, seeming almost afraid to finish his question. “Did he force you?”

Force, this was one of the strangest conversations she had ever had. And with Korkie , nonetheless. “It was consensual.”

“Did you love him?”

“He was a Jedi.” Tears pricked her eyes, and she looked away so he wouldn’t see them. “He never could have stayed.”

 

Chapter Text

“Oh hey, Kenobi, there’s your kid again.”

Obi-Wan frowned as he saw the boy enter the dimly lit bar, immediately taking the same seat as he had the night before. “He’s not my kid, Quinlan.” In the beginning, the Kiffar’s teasing hadn’t bothered him, amused him even. But now, it was plain annoying. “Remember what we’re here for. If Mandalorian heirs want to spend their evenings in drunken debauchery, that’s their choice.”

Quinlan backed off, raising his hands defensively. “Easy, Kenobi. I was just messing with you. What’s got your boxers in a twist?”

“Nothing.” The word came out sharper than he meant it, and he looked away from his friend’s inquisitive gaze. “I’m going to get another drink. Anyone want one?”

“You sure that’s a good idea?” Aayla asked, frowning.

He stiffened. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

Kit’s brow furrowed. “What’s up with you, Obi-Wan? If you’ve got an issue, go ahead and spit it out.”

Obi-Wan drummed his fingers on the tabletop idly. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long few days. I don’t think I’ve slept since…” he exhaled slowly. “Force, I don’t know when. Since my last mission, maybe?”

“Shavit, Obi-Wan, that’s been almost a week ago!” Aayla glared at him. “What are you doing with your time?’

“Teaching meditation in the mornings, helping Ahsoka with homework in the afternoons, council meetings in between, and this at night. I don’t think I’ve recovered since the mess with Hardeen” More likely what had happened after that. Trying not to think of it, he let his gaze drift to the boy. Satine’s nephew. He was sitting alone, sipping on something that the bartender had brought him. Did she know this was where he came, drinking and watching the girls dance? “But don’t worry about me. As soon as this mission is over, I’ll rest. I sense that we’re close.”

His friends exchanged looks, but didn’t say a word.

Good. The last thing he needed was more people worrying about him. For force sakes, he was beginning to worry about himself.

He needed another glass of whiskey.

Cheers erupted, and Aayla stood. “That’s my cue. Sit tight, boys, and watch the show.” The metallic tassels adorning her skimpy outfit shimmered and glittered as she sauntered towards the stage.

Quinlan nudged him with a grin. “Hey, eyes where I can see them. That’s my padawan you’re looking at, perv.”

Irritation welled. “I wasn’t…”

“Look, I know you’re not getting a lot of action from your little Duchess…”

Something in him snapped. “She’s not my Duchess, damn it! She never has been, and never will be, so just shut the bloody hell up Vos, before I do it for you.” He swore when the glass in his hand cracked and a shard lodged in his palm. He knew his friends were watching him oddly, but for once he didn’t care. Closing his eyes, he leaned back in his seat, exhaling slowly. “The purple twi’lek with a Krayt tattoo talking to the spacer at two o’ clock. She’s our target.”

“What…”

“Unarmed, only a messenger. Likely a dropoff girl. I’ll wager our friend won’t come here.” He opened his eyes again, ignoring the incredulous look the Kiffar gave him. “She’ll meet him tonight. The question is simply where.”

Quinlan threw up his hands. “I give up.”

Aayla was on the stage now, and nearly every eye in the place was focused on her.

Then there was the boy.

Why did he keep thinking of him? He was Satine’s nephew, yes, but surely that was no reason for this… fascination?

But why? What was so special, so different about him? He was just another boy, sitting in a bar and watching the girls dance.

Except he wasn’t.

Korkie’s eyes were not fastened to the stage where Aayla danced, but instead were going around the room absently, as if he was bored with the performance. It was something completely different from the intent gaze Obi-Wan had seen the night before.

She doesn’t want to be in there .

The girl. He was here for the girl. But why? What connection was she to him? What was it about her that made him deceive his aunt to come here?

Obi-Wan sighed, running his hand through his hair distractedly. So many questions, so few answers.

“And there’s the signal. Let’s move, boys.” Quinlan rose, tossing back the remainder of his drink. “Let’s get this done so we can go home.”


 

Korkie paced the hotel room anxiously. She wasn’t coming, he was sure of it. He’d shelled out a good portion of his savings for this, and he was almost positive that the smuggler had stood him up. He had a bad feeling about the whole thing, but he couldn’t put his finger on the source.

He wanted to dismiss the feeling, but he’d learned long ago not to. Even his aunt had said that he almost seemed to be able to sense things before they even happened, a trait he had gotten from his father.

Or had he? Korkie had seen the panic in her eyes when he’d asked about him, about both his parents. She hadn’t told him the full truth, of that he was sure, but he wasn’t sure what she had been lying about. What need would there be to lie, about any of it?

Then, all thoughts fled his mind.

She was here. Except…

She wasn’t alone.

In three steps, he was across the room, pressing his ear to the door. There were two presences besides her, and one of them was suspiciously familiar.

The smuggler.

But what was he doing here?

Korkie could hear him speaking, but the language was foreign. He recognized one or two words and Amadi’s name, but that was it. But there was a feeling of urgency, of deception about the situation that made him uneasy.

The smuggler was leaving now, but he didn’t go far. The third person--- he was pretty sure it was a woman--- was talking quietly, but authoritatively. Then, she too left.

Stepping back from the door, Korkie tried to assume a casual stance at the window. His heart was beating a staccato rhythm, and he had to pause to calm himself. His aunt had taught it to him when he was young, to find focus amongst the chaos. Even now, he focused on her voice, trying to follow her instructions.

Concentrate on the hear and now, young one. Focus. Reach out and feel the peace, then find it within you .

As usual, the pounding of his heart eased and a sense of calm flowed through him. The technique had been one of the many she had taught him as a boy, and probably the one he used most often. That, and tracking people, which was more of a subconscious thing.

It was also the only thing she had made him swear never to tell anyone. It was a gift, a talent that he had gotten from his father, but it was also something that people would want to use. Some for good, some for bad.

He’d been five then, too young to really know what exactly he was promising.

Then, a few months later, just before his sixth birthday, everything changed.

One day, she’d sat him down and told him that he would no longer live with her. The Royal Academy had just been completed, and he would be one of its first students.

That had been the first of many birthdays he’d spent alone. For the first few years, he’d held out hope. After all, his birthday had always been a much celebrated event at the palace. But there was nothing but a short comm call late that night, and the next morning a model ship and a VIP pass to the space museum. After that, the calls became shorter, later, more distracted. Once she’d forgotten completely and hadn’t remembered until a week later.

He should have been used to it. Shouldn’t have been upset when the IOU came like it always did. Should have been grateful that he had an aunt that usually remembered to take time out of her busy life to send him a message and a gift. Should have contented himself with whatever extravagant present showed up at the Academy.

And yet, he wasn’t.

But two months ago, something had happened. His aunt had made an emergency trip to Coruscant to attend Master Kenobi’s fake funeral. She had never offered him an explanation of what had happened during that time, but he was certain that it had been the beginning of the change.

She’d gotten quieter, more reserved, but at the same time, it seemed like she was trying to mend the rift that had grown between them over the past decade. Inviting him to dine with her twice a week, Taking a full week off from work for his seventeenth birthday, bringing him to Coruscant despite the fact that she’d always avoided taking him there as if there was a plague.

He remembered asking her why. Why he had to live with her. Why he couldn’t live with her. Why the techniques she’d taught him never seemed to work when he tried to teach his friends. Why she never would take him with her to Coruscant.

Then, there were all the questions he’d wanted to ask, but never seemed to get around to asking her. Why he dreamt about seeing her, but never his mother. Why she’d distanced herself from him. Why she’d always discouraged him from talking about his family situation around any of his friends. Why she’d changed over the last two months. Why she’d suddenly become so interested in his life. Why she lied to him about his parents. Why he was different. Why he seemed to feel a connection to her former lover.

So many questions that had no answers in return.

The gentle creak of the mattress behind him reminded him that he wasn’t alone in the room. He exhaled slowly, relaxing as he gently probed Amadi’s presence. She’d taught him that as well, telling him repeatedly that his emotions influenced the people around him, and that if he could not at least actually release his feeling, then he needed to hide them.

He’d proven especially adept at that, to the point that he could usually hide things from her, and she had practically raised him as her own.

So now, when he turned to face the skimpily clad girl kneeling on the bed, he knew that his face was impassive. The last thing he wanted was for her to realize how absolutely terrified he was about the whole situation and read his fear as anger.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering…

Now where had he heard that?

Amadi knelt in the very center of the king size bed, head bowed and full lips parted. Now that he as so close, he could see slight details that he had missed before. The delicate lashes, dark eyebrows. She was wearing a green wig and contacts, hiding their true color, but he’d already made up his mind not to ask her to take them off.

He had very few goals for the night: talk to her, convince her not to leave, and earn her trust. Three very simple, but very difficult tasks to complete.

“Amadi?” She didn’t look up, keeping her eyes focused on the silk sheets covering the bed. So, she was shy. Another minor obstacle to overcome.

Kneeling on the bed in front of her, he hooked a finger under her chin to bring her gaze up to meet his. Almost immediately, she responded, pressing her lips to his.

Shock. It was the first thing he felt. He’d never kissed or been kissed, and this was unfamiliar territory that he was treading. For a few seconds, he froze completely, not sure what to do, but she took the reins, coaxing his lips apart with her own until he slowly figured out what he was supposed to be doing.

That brought a whole new sensation. Desire, red hot in its intensity and begging to be obliged. In an instant, it took over his natural instincts, somehow kindling the innate knowledge that he’d been programmed with from birth.

Unlike most children, whose parents took the time to explain what happened beyond kissing, Korkie had been obliged to find out the majority of what he knew through his own resources. He wasn’t sure if his aunt had purposefully or accidently neglected to tell him that information, but most of what he knew came from overheard descriptions of lewd acts from fellow students at the Academy and what he’d seen on his infrequent trips to bars.

Man kiss woman, woman kiss man. Both man and woman mysteriously lose all clothes, closely followed by the man sticking his now substantially stiffer richard into her substantially softer and wetter kitten, whereupon some motion would happen until both would secrete.

It had always been a mysterious process that he’d never endeavoured to find out more about. But at this moment, when her lips were sealed to his as if he was her last source of oxygen, he was beginning to regret his utter lack of interest.

His hands, desperate for some occupation, found her waist, bare and smooth. Before, he had noticed her clothing (or lack thereof), but hadn’t really paid any attention to it. But now, as his hand instinctively found the curve of her hip, something told him that she was too far away, that they needed to be closer.

Korkie wouldn’t lie and say he’d never been attracted to a girl, or that he’d never woken up with an uncomfortable issue after dreaming of a sensual tangle of feminine arms and legs, but it had never been like this. This… this was more than a slight urge. It was full blown need , taking all of his good intentions and throwing them out the window.

He had to get a grip.

Dragging himself away from her with a gasp, he forced himself to look her in the eye. He’d come here for a reason, and it wasn’t a tumble between the sheets.

“Amadi…” Her eyes snapped to his face, and a small, hesitant smile crossed her lips. In that moment, he saw something flash in her eyes. A hint of childish innocence had flickered there, followed by a flare of anticipation and desire. Strange. It didn’t look anything like the knowing leers other women had offered him.

A warning echoed through his mind, causing him to tense.

Something was wrong.

Amadi stiffened in his arms, her eyes widening slightly, the fear clear in them. He wanted to comfort her, to soothe her, but his mind was far away, trying to identify the source of his sudden panic.

Focus .

He blinked. Where had that come from?

Heavy footsteps sounded in the hall, and he immediately recognized the presence as the smuggler, inebriated and unfocused. A moment later, the door opened, and he stumbled in, clutching a holdout blaster tightly. His eyes were glazed over and wild as they fastened on them, and Korkie fought the urge to recoil as the scent of drink soured breath hit him.

“What are you…”

The smuggler immediately charged forward and grabbed Amadi’s wrist, saying something harshly. She cried out in pain, reflexively resisting his grip. Before Korkie even realized what was happening, he’d dragged her across the bed, ignoring their cries of protest.

Korkie started up to stop him, but stopped abruptly when he was faced with the end of the blaster. He’d never been shot, but he’d been born with the innate knowledge that it was not something he ever wanted.

A satisfied gleam flickered in the smugglers eye, and he began to back away, dragging Amadi with him. “There, boy. I’m sorry about this, but we’ve got a ship to catch.”

“What do you want her for?” His voice was calmer than he felt as he eyed a large pot on the shelf by the door. “We had a deal. My money for your time with her.”

“Yeah? Well time’s up.” He hauled her up, rebuking her sharply when she whimpered in pain. “Look, kid, I don’t want to hurt you. So if you just sit quietly while we go, everything will be good, see?”

Korkie didn’t see anything besides the pain on Amadi’s face. “Look, I’ll pay you whatever you’re out for the night. Just… don’t hurt her, please.”

The smuggler’s eyes narrowed, and he jerked her up roughly, wrapping his arm around her neck. “Who do you think you are, kid? You can’t just go around buying up every slave that catches your eye.”

Slave . Amadi was a slave, to this greasy, arrogant, vulgar smuggler. Suddenly, everything made sense. His offer, the threat of leaving, his knowing so much about her…

She was a slave .

Kriffing hell. What had he gotten himself into? There was no way… there would be no way to save her without buying her, and there were two minor problems with that.

First, the amount of money he would have to hand over would mean that his aunt would immediately be notified of his purchase. Secondly, and more importantly, even if he could bluff his way out of telling his aunt what he’d spent the credits on, where would he keep Amadi?

The sound of the door opening as the smuggler attempted to escape shook him out of his thoughts.

“How much?”

The smuggler paused, one greasy eyebrow raising incredulously even as a sparkle of greed lit in his eye. “Look, kid, she’s valuable. You could never hope to…”

Korkie pulled out his wallet and opened it, pulling out several credit chips, each worth a few hundred credits. He tossed them on the bed, halfway between the two of them. “How much?”

The smuggler’s eyes widened, fixated greedily on the currency. “Fifteen thousand.”

“Three. With the two I gave you, that will make five.” He had five in cash, but there was nearly twenty in his savings. One of the perks of being the ducal heir, especially since he’d hardly ever spent any of it. But he was willing to give it all to see her safe.

The smuggler--or should he be called a slaver?--scoffed, yanking Amadi up by her arm. “You want me to give her to you? This is prime entertainment material, never been touched. Fifteen will make sure you’re the first.”

Korkie didn’t let his surprise show. Most show girls were rented out every night, if not several times a night. That much he knew from his social studies class. It was also yet another reason why women like her were so much more valuable. “I only have five in cash.”

The greasy smile was back. “I take card.” Pushing Amadi away from him, he pulled out a card reader, much used. “But that will bring the price up to Eighteen thousand. Fees and surcharges, you understand.”

Enough with the haggling. He had a feeling he needed to get out of here, and soon. “You’ll take fifteen thousand,” he replied calmly, staring the man straight in the eye. He’d learned in public speaking class that if he spoke authoritatively enough, no one could refuse him anything--- within reason, of course--- and he’d been right.

Something in the man’s eyes changed, and he nodded obediently. “I’ll take fifteen thousand.”

Bingo . Korkie made a mental note to close his account as he pulled out his card. That is, if his aunt or financial advisor didn’t beat him to it.

Credit signs seemed to appear in the slaver’s eyes as he took the card and scanned it, keying in the amount and grinning widely when it checked out. No doubt he recognized the name of Korkie’s bank. “You know, if you’re ever in the market again, I’ve got a contact that I keep around. Purple twi’lek with a Krayt tat on her arm. Tula. She’ll be able to tell you anything you want to hear.”

“Thank you.” His mind racing, he pocketed his card again. “Actually, my mother’s birthday is coming up in a few months. She’s been thinking about getting a girl to do some stuff around the place. Unless you only deal in the entertainment area.”

Another flash of the gaudy gold tooth. “I don’t, usually, but I might be able to make an exception. For a bit extra, even, I might be able to deliver her a few days early.”

So he wasn’t planning on being on Coruscant for a while. As unintrusively as possible, he grazed the man’s mind. Corellia. Interesting. Korkie filed that bit of information away, not sure yet how he was going to use it. “I’ll be sure to let you know.” Name, name, he needed a name. But was there any way to get one without giving his own in exchange? “Ben, by the way.”

The greasy hand clasped his. “Solo.”


 

Korkie crouched in front of her, damp towel in hand. Carefully, he wiped the heavy makeup from her face, satisfaction filling him as he was finally able to see her.

Amadi. Not the girl in the bar, or the pretty entertainer to admire from afar.

She was Amadi. And she was his.

Was this why people bought slaves? To experience this euphoria of owning something so beautiful, so precious? Possesiveness unfurled, stoking the heat that burned within him. Every wipe of the towel took away the makeup and what it symbolized, breaking down the barriers between them one by one.

Her eyes appeared to be fastened to his shoulder, but he could sense the tiniest bit of trust slowly extended itself. Earlier, she’d been scared, even if she’d tried to hide it. The fear had been clear in her eyes from the time Solo had drawn her aside after their transaction. He’d read somewhere that slaves hated being sold, no matter how bad their current owner was, just in case the next one was worse.

He’d wanted to assuage her fears, tell her that everything was going to turn out all right, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it when he didn’t know himself what was going to happen. They’d been fortunate enough to sneak in without waking his aunt and calling down her wrath. Force knew he’d have hell to pay in the morning. But despite knowing that he was definitely going to be in trouble, he couldn’t find it in himself to be worried about that when there was the possibility that she might leave Amadi to fend for herself.

He pushed that particularly unpleasant thought aside, choosing to concentrate on what he was faced with at the moment.

Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment .

Wiping the last of the thick makeup from her face, he paused for a moment to take her in. Finally clean, her skin glowed the color of warm caramel. A tiny smattering of honey-colored freckles adorned her nose and cheeks, making her seem even younger than he’d initially thought. A small, pale scar ran from the left corner of her mouth to disappear into the metal choker around her neck.

Setting aside the towel, he began to meticulously take off the gaudy collection of costume jewelry that adorned her. Earrings, choker, nose ring, and some sort of forehead chain were carefully removed and set aside, as was the half a dozen gold-colored cuffs and numerous bangles on her arms and wrists.

Next, he began the tedious job of pulling the seemingly endless hairpins from the wig. It was a long and tiring process, to hunt for the tiny pins through the cheap and badly kept green hairpiece, and it took him a good five minutes to find them all. But once he had, he was rewarded with a soft sigh of relief and a tightly coiled braid of hair so black and glossy it almost appeared to be blue.

Another few dozen pins anchored it in place, and he wondered how anyone could bear having so many sharp pieces of metal digging into their scalp for any period of time.

Eventually, he set aside the last hairpin and began uncoiling and unbraiding the thick braid. It was oddly satisfying and soothing to see the long, curly strands come undone, to feel them flowing through his fingers, like rivulets of water.

She had beautiful hair.

He sensed a want to ask him a question, colliding with a fear of speaking without being spoken to.

“What is it?”

She gasped softly, and he knew she hadn’t realized she was broadcasting her thoughts. “Nothing, Master Ben.”

She’d spoken. And she’d called him Ben. He was surprised she’d remembered, for he certainly hadn’t.

“Korkie.” It would profit him little to have her call him by his middle name. “And you needn’t call me Master. Just Korkie is fine.”

Amadi paused for a moment, and he could sense her mulling over the thought. It was strange, how easily he could read her, so unlike anyone else he had ever met. Either she trusted him more than she was showing, or she had weak shields. Perhaps both.

“Korkie…” she tested the name out on her tongue, slow and precise. Her voice was soft, heavily tinted with an accent he didn’t recognize. “Master. It… pleases you… to… assist me?”

He couldn’t stop the smile that touched his lips at the blatant disregard of his request, put so innocently. “Yes, it does. You are very beautiful, Amadi, and any man would be proud to take care of you.” Unless, of course, they were a fool, like Solo no doubt had been.

Her face flushed slightly, and he detected the smallest amount of pleasure at his words. “Shall I… assist… Master?”

“I’ll manage.” he quickly rebraided her hair, securing it with one of the few unbroken rubber bands that had previously served the office. “You can take your contacts out yourself, I’m sure?” At her nod, he gestured to the closet. “You can take anything from in there to sleep in. I highly doubt what you’re currently wearing could be comfortable. The fresher’s through there, and there’s towels already in there. I’ll be right back.”

She nodded obediently, still unmoving. When he closed the door behind him, though, he could sense her getting up and heading in the direction of the fresher.

More than a little relieved that everything had gone so smoothly, he walked quietly past his aunt’s room and into the kitchen. A quick rummage through the cooling unit and cabinets found a cheese and fruit platter, accompanied by a small tin of salt biscuits. Even though he’d eaten dinner before going out, it was well past midnight and his body was demanding nourishment. And if he was hungry, he had no doubt she was.

Armed with spoils, he crept back through the hall, carefully monitoring his aunt. Satisfied that she was still sleeping soundly, Korkie quickly slipped back into his room.

Amadi had obviously made quick work of the shower and was once again kneeling on the bed, nearly swallowed in one of his robes.

No, not his robe. His father’s robe. His aunt had given it to him when he was very little, and he’d  carried it with him everywhere. The thick, brown fabric--somehow coarse and soft at the same time--had always been a comfort to have, wherever he was. Long ago, it had even smelled like his father, though any scent had disappeared among the rest of his laundry. It was still in excellent shape, even if some of the color had faded and the fibers were a bit smooth in some places.

Korkie had never worn it out, because it had always been a bit large, but he’d often used it as an impromptu blanket as a child. Now, it mainly occupied his travel bag as a cherished heirloom. Now that he thought about it, it was a bit strange that it was the only thing left behind. According to his aunt, the bombings on Kalevala had destroyed most of the family’s property, but how was it possible that a robe survived?

He needed sleep.

“You found something. Good. Are you hungry?”

 

Chapter Text

 

Satine gazed listlessly at her hard boiled egg, her stomach turning at the very thought of consuming it. It was so shiny, and rubbery, and it wobbled whenever her fork touched it in the disconcerting way that eggs did. Not that she’d ever minded them before, but surely the way that it resembled an eyeball had never appealed to her before.

Had it?

She sighed, taking the small glass cylinder and dusting it with a layer of pepper. Better, but still not appetizing. A tentative stab with her fork did nothing to increase it’s desirability, and finally, she set it aside in favor of her tea and toast.

Force, she hated morning sickness.

She was fortunate in the fact that it rarely made her physically sick, but perhaps that was simply because very little of anything ever made it into her mouth.

Nibbling at her toast, she absently wondered where Korkie had gone to the night before. He’d arrived back at the apartment late, over an hour after she’d already gone to bed, and she had yet to see him this morning.

Satine would let him sleep. It wasn’t as if she had any appointments today. She’d cleared her calendar for this trip, intent on giving him her full attention.

Guilt gnawed at her, different and yet the same as the guilt that she’d felt for the past eleven years. When she’d decided to rebuild bridges, she’d thought it would assuage the ache, but it only made it worse. What else could she feel when she wasn’t truly fixing the problem?

Trust and transparency. It had been the two principles she had prided herself on when she’d first ascended the throne. And yet, somewhere along the way that had changed.

If only she’d stopped at the beginning. That one, small lie could have prevented everything.

She’d been selfish. She’d known what he had been thinking, what he’d been asking, and she’d taken advantage of him She’d lied to him that night, using every excuse she could think of.

What a foolish, idiotic girl she’d been. So blinded by what she wanted that she hadn’t stopped to consider what the consequences might be. Or rather, when she had, she’d pleaded ignorance.

Nine months later, when Korkie was born, she’d been forced to lie again. She’d made a promise, a vow that she wouldn’t ask him to stay, and she was going to stick to it. Away on vacation at the secluded family home on Kalevala, she’d met her dead brother’s girlfriend, who’d pled for her to take his child before disappearing forever.

Korkie had been accepted by the masses as the beginning of a new generation, and she’d hoped that would be the end of it. He’d grown up in the palace, and she’d spent as much time as she could with him. No matter what biological title he held, she’d wanted him to grow up knowing that he was her son. She’d taught him everything she’d known about the Force, made sure all of his needs were met, bathed him in affection. Satine had to blink back tears now, thinking about that time. In a life banished to eternal sadness, those years had been the closest to perfectly happy that she’d ever been.

Then, Qui-Gon had been killed.

She’d never wanted to push him away, but she hadn’t known what else to do. Naively, she’d thought it wouldn’t matter. Korkie had been so young, after all. He would forget he had any life before the Academy, where he would be safe.

The regret she’d felt had been instantaneous and crippling. She’d cried in her bed the first day that he was gone, and had refused to call him for fear of losing her resolve. It was for his own good that she didn’t see him. That way, he would forget about her, and she wouldn’t do something stupid and rash and bring him back home.

When his birthday had come, she’d struggled the whole day before finally allowing herself to call him.

It had been a mistake.

He’d been so excited to see her. She’d been able to see the tear stains on his cheeks even through the comm, and it had nearly broken her. She’d feigned disinterest as he enthusiastically told her about the Academy, though every word had torn into her like daggers. The longer the call went, the thinner her resolve grew, until she knew she was at her breaking point. She’d cut him off then, trying to ignore the obvious pain and sadness in his eyes. The two tickets to the space museum she had bought months before were set aside, replaced by a single VIP pass.

The call had been a test, and she’d failed.

Satine had avoided calling him after that, telling herself she needed to heal before she did so again. She’d also told herself that he was too young to care, even though that had been harder to believe.

Contrary to her hopes, it never got better. The pain was still as fresh now as it had been eleven years ago. She’d just learned to work around it.

And now she was about to go through the whole thing all over again.

It was ridiculous, if she was honest. She should have learned something from the first time around. Always use protection when you plan to drunkenly seduce Jedi Masters, or even better, don’t seduce Jedi Masters at all. The latter was definitely the one she should have gone with, but it was also the one she regretted the least. What she did regret was allowing herself to bring yet another child into the world that she would never be able to truly care for as her own. And unlike with Korkie, she was all out of family members to blame.

Satine groaned, burying her face in her hands as she thought about it. There was no options like there had been with Korkie. She couldn’t pass it off as another niece or nephew. It was certainly too risky for her to adopt a foundling nine months after Obi-Wan’s resurrection. She didn’t have anyone she could trust to take care of a child 24-7, as they would most definitely have to do. Unless some other option appeared out of the sky, she’d have to give him or her up, and she wasn’t sure she could do that.

There was always the honest method, in which she would bite the bullet and admit her pregnancy to the world. Even though it wouldn’t be something she wanted to admit to her people, it wasn’t highly uncommon for such things to happen. Mandalorians were passionate people, and considered sex to be one of the basic necessities in life. If their duchess decided to indulge, it likely wouldn’t be considered the worst thing she could do.

But there was no practical way to admit her condition without him finding out about it. And considering how his friends had spoken to Korkie, it was highly likely they would immediately put two and two together as well. Which led her full circle to her promise.

She wouldn’t lie and say she hadn’t considered asking him to leave either time, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She’d made a promise, to herself, to him, to Qui-Gon, that she would let him choose his own path, and he had. She could never fault him for leaving, no matter how much she hated that he did.

Satine glowered at her lukewarm tea. Where was a stiff drink when she needed one?

Then again, a stiff drink had been what landed her in this situation.

Pushing her cold breakfast aside, she was moving to stand when a shadow caught her eye.

Two shadows, to be exact.

She swore under her breath, abruptly dropping back in her chair in an effort to hide her as of yet invisible baby belly.

Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.

Why the kriffing hell was Obi-Wan doing at her apartment at this hour in the morning? And furthermore, why was he accompanied by an eerily familiar blonde woman?

Siri Tachi didn’t even hesitate to walk straight in the open entryway. “Satine, I hope we didn’t interrupt your meal.”

The lack of formality rankled, and Satine made a mental note to choose an apartment with an actual door next time, fresh air be damned. “Thank you, Master Tachi, but I was just finishing.” She forced herself not to look at Obi-Wan as she folded her hands on the tabletop. “Can I get you anything? Tea, perhaps?”

“We’re not here for a social call, Satine,” the blonde replied curtly. “We’d like to speak with your guest.”

Bile rose in Satine’s throat, and her stomach began churning with renewed antipathy. So this was how the end began, led by the old flame of her previous lover. “Korkie is still asleep, but I can tell him you came.” The last thing she wanted was to accelerate the end that was most assuredly coming. “Is there a message you would like to leave for him?”

Siri laughed humorlessly. “I’m not here to see your nephew, Satine. I will ask you again, we’d like to see the girl.”

“Siri, please.” Obi-Wan sighed, and for the first time, she looked at him. He looked more tired than she’d ever seen him, shoulders rounded and dark circles under his eyes. “Satine, I need to speak with Korkie about a matter that is… quite delicate.”

She stiffened. “As I said, he’s asleep. If you have anything you wish to say to him, you may tell me and I will relay the information to him as soon as he is awake.”

“This is a Jedi matter, Duchess, that deals directly with your nephew and not with you,” Siri replied, any guise of friendliness gone. “Now if you please…”

“I am his sole guardian, and as such, am legally entitled to hear of any matters that surround him, Jedi or not.” Satine refused to be bullied by anyone, Siri Tachi especially. “Is there anything else?”

Siri opened her mouth to say something, but closed it when Obi-Wan shot her a look. “Actually, yes. I assume that, as his guardian, you are privy to any purchases your nephew makes?”

“Of course.” The question struck her as odd, and she tried to study his face for any reason why he would ask about her finances, and found none. “I have control over his finances until he is of a legal age, though I rarely check it. I trust him implicitly.”

Understanding seemed to dawn on his face, followed closely by a grim reluctance that frightened her. “I see. I presume you are unaware of any purchases he’s made in the past few days, then?”

Panic began to settle deep in her gut. “Cut to the chase, Obi-Wan, and tell me what this is all about.”

He sighed. “Go get your nephew, Satine, and I’m sure he’ll tell you himself.”

Satine wasn’t sure what to think. Her first thoughts had been that the Jedi had somehow found out about everything, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Siri had said something about a guest, but she couldn’t imagine who that would be. And for Obi-Wan to ask about Korkie’s finances… she was utterly confused.

Rising, she crossed the dining room and stepped into the hall that led to the bedrooms. Stopping at Korkie’s door, she knocked once before opening it, hoping that he was up and dressed. As it turned out, he was, but that wasn’t the first thing that caught her attention.

He had dived forward to block her from entering, eyes wide and guilty, but her focus was somewhere else. To be exact, on the skimpily dressed, generously endowed woman curled up sound asleep in his bed.

That would explain why he’d slept so late.

“Aunt Satine, it’s not what it looks like, I promise.” Korkie was bright red in the face, copper hair sticking straight up. “She was…”

She groaned, massaging her achy temples. This was not what she had envisioned her morning going like. “We’ll talk about this later. For now, there’s someone wanting to see you.”

His eyes seemed to widen further, and Satine immediately knew he had recognized Obi-Wan’s force signature. Kriff. The last thing she needed was for him to give away some sign of his force-sensitivity to the Jedi.

He followed her docilely into the dining room, eyes going from the Jedi to her rapidly. Something in Obi-Wan’s eyes shifted, but whatever he was thinking didn’t show.

“You wanted to see me, Master Jedi?” Like Obi-Wan, Korkie’s face was entirely blank, an art they both had that she envied, especially in times like this.

Siri pursed her lips, fishing a small holo out of her pocket. “Where were you last night between 23.00 and 2.00?”


 

Obi-Wan watched his expression closely, but no trace of emotion showed on his face. “I was out, meeting someone.”

“A woman?” Siri pried.

“No. If you must know, I met an acquaintance of mine, who was visiting here from Corellia.” His steady gaze dared them to contradict him. “We went to a bar and had a drink before we parted ways, and I came back here.”

Siri frowned, seemingly bewildered, but Obi-Wan wasn’t phased by his answer. “Did you see her while you were there?”

“Her?” Blue eyes, the same shade as Satine’s, blinked innocently.

“The girl. Amadi.”

“Yes.” He raised an eyebrow, continuing on as if he had sensed what Obi-Wan was going to ask next. “And no, I didn’t speak to or approach her, if that was your next question.”

Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes, trying to find the fine line between truth and lie. “Not even after you left the bar?”

Korkie hesitated for the first time, eyes searching the his face. Seeming unsatisfied with the results, he nodded. Once. “I did.”

“And I assume she’s here now?” It was a redundant question, really, seeing as he had sensed her presence the instant he’d walked in.

“What are you really trying to say, Master Kenobi? Korkie picked up a small piece of fruit off of the table, weighing it in his palm absently. “That I should have told my aunt sooner? That I should have gone to the proper authorities and let them handle the matter? That a young, naive person such as myself should not be spending my money on enslaved entertainers? Or perhaps this really isn’t about her, and you’re simply here to play the good Jedi come to inform his old friend that her nephew is spending his evenings in idle debauchery.”

Annoyance flared at the boy’s casually stated observation. He’d spoken every one of Obi-Wan’s thoughts, and he didn’t like it. “How much did you pay for her?”

“Fifteen thousand.”

His eyebrows shot up before he could stop them. Even though that was the going price as far as he knew, the very fact that the boy had access to such funds seemed ridiculous.

“And I suppose this friend of yours was the one who sold her to you?” It was the only logical answer, as illogical as this whole situation was.

“Acquaintance, and yes. He was leaving Coruscant, and she seemed uncomfortable with him. So I offered to take her off his hands.”

Siri crossed her arms. “You’ve trampled on a Jedi investigation. Your “acquaintance” is over a human trafficking ring that not only funds the Separatists, but also kidnaps individuals of small royal households, weakening their systems and making them prey to occupation.”

Korkie looked between them, seemingly undisturbed by this revelation. “And what does this have to do with me?”

“We had tracked his operation as far as his second in command.” Siri turned on the holo and a small image of a twi’lek they’d apprehended the night before appeared.

Immediately, his eyes lit in recognition. “Tula. Purple with a Krayt dragon tattoo.” He nodded. “Solo told me she’d be around for the next couple months.”

Obi-Wan and Siri exchanged looks. Either the boy had seen her at the bar, or he was further involved in the investigation than they had thought. “We apprehended her, but she didn’t know where he was going next, only that he planned to leave early this morning with the girl.”

“He’s gone back to Corellia for a while, though I don’t think that’s where he’s operating out of. I’m pretty sure that he knew you were on to him, and he wasn’t keen on coming back to Coruscant.”

“And how would you know this?” Siri challenged, peeved that an outsider knew more of the situation than she did. “What are we supposed to believe, you pulled out a wad of cash and he just told you all of this?”

Korkie shrugged. “I told him I wanted to buy a maid for my mother’s birthday and was willing to pay well for it. He proved exceptionally agreeable after that.” If Obi-Wan hadn’t been watching, he might have missed the brief glance in the direction of his room. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Master Jedi, or will that be all?”

The girl was awake, but there was no possible way that he could know that. Obi-Wan frowned. Was there? “If it’s possible, I’d like to speak to the girl for a moment.”

The boy’s eyes narrowed slightly, his gaze probing and guarded. “She’s asleep.”

It was a straight lie, the only one Obi-Wan was truly certain of. The boy knew she was awake, which seemed impossible, unless they had some sort of hidden surveillance system he didn’t know of.

Siri stepped forward, her presence threatening. “You can’t lie to a Jedi.”

He tensed, and Obi-Wan could feel a thread of anger unfurl. “I’m not…”

“Korkie.” Satine’s voice was sharp and authoritative, immediately commanding his attention. A silent exchange seemed to pass through their eyes, giving Obi-Wan the distinct impression he was being left out as she spoke. “Apologize.”

He mumbled an apology, seeming unrepentant.

Obi-Wan glanced at Satine, trying to read her emotions. She’d been nervous and on edge since they’d arrived, but that was no doubt due to Siri’s presence. Obi-Wan hadn’t wanted her to come, but the Council had wanted to send someone who the Duchess was familiar with. He’d never confronted her about what had happened between her and Satine, mainly since doing so would doubtless encourage her, which was the last thing he wanted. Quinlan was the only other person who knew what had gone down, and his subsequent late night visit.

The guilt assaulted him afresh as he remembered. He’d left while she’d been asleep, unable to face her after what he’d done. She’d told him she wouldn’t ask him, but it hadn’t made him feel better about the situation. From the time he was a padawan, he’d never liked the idea of using women for personal pleasure, and that was exactly what he’d done. He’d used her, selfishly, with little to no regard for her feelings on the matter.

The nightmares would haunt him for the rest of his life.

“Obi-Wan?”

Siri’s voice jerked him out of his thoughts. “Yes?”

She raised an eyebrow. “You’re blocking me. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Just thinking.”

“About?” She sidled closer to him, tucking her arm through his. Seeing him frown, she laughed softly. “It’s fine, Satine already knows. She’s not going to tell anyone, are you Satine?”

The Duchess didn’t reply, looking somewhat pale as she turned away. Blast it all, why did Siri have to be so kriffing competitive?

She stepped closer, and he grappled for an excuse. “Her nephew…”

“You can sense him as well as I can. If he’s coming, we’ll know it.” Her blue eyes--so vastly different from Satine’s--searched his face. “You’re hiding something from me, aren’t you?”

That was a slight understatement.

She pouted. “We’re supposed to be partners, Obi-Wan. You can’t hide things from your partner.”

He shrugged. “I’m not hiding anything.”

His denial seemed to uncover a sliver of irritation. “Yeah? So what was that stunt earlier? Why didn’t you say that you knew the kid had the girl?”

“I didn’t. It was a lucky guess.”

Her eyes narrowed. “There’s no such thing as luck. You knew he’d taken the girl. That’s how you knew to come here to find her, isn’t it?”

“Fine. I had a suspicion.”

“A suspicion,” she repeated, completely unconvinced. “And where did this ‘suspicion’ come from?”

He glanced at Satine, who was studiously ignoring them, staring down at her egg as if it was evil. “He was there, last night, but he left almost immediately after she did. I didn’t suspect anything until this morning when I was going over the hotel footage again and saw the girl.”

“And you didn’t see fit to tell me this?”

“It slipped my mind.” Still a lie, but it was the closest thing to the truth that he dared admit.

She didn’t seem completely convinced, but she let it slide. “Anything else you want to tell me about?”

“No.”

“Aayla told me you’ve been pulling all-nighters again.”

Sithspit .

She twined her arms around his waist. “You’re not having nightmares again, are you? If you want, I’ll have Quinan run interference. Now that Anakin’s gone all the time, we can finally…”

“Master Kenobi.” The boy’s voice, cool and unfriendly, made him tense. How had he not sensed him coming? “I thought Jedi weren’t allowed promiscuity. Or is it fine as long as everything is kept within ranks?”

“Korkie…”

“Apologies, Aunt.” There wasn’t a hint of regret in his voice as he led the girl to the table. “I was simply curious. Having heard so much about the famed Jedi, I wanted to see how they live up to the expectations.”

Never one to step away from a challenge, Siri sneered at him. “And how do you find us, your Grace?”

He flashed a smile. “Please, call me Korkie. After all, we’re all friends here, apparently.” At her puzzled look, he chuckled. “You couldn’t have possibly thought I couldn’t hear every word you said, could you?”

Siri shot Obi-Wan a puzzled look, but he was just as confused as she was. Had the boy really heard them?

It’s fine, Satine already knows. She isn’t going to tell anyone ,” Korkie mimicked Siri’s words from earlier, blue eyes dancing with mischief. “I have to say I expected more from you, Master Kenobi, especially with such glowing references. But time changes people, I suppose. After all, eighteen years is a long time.”

“Korkie Kryze.” Satine’s voice was cold and harsh, and even Siri flinched. “The Jedi are my guests. You will be courteous to them.”

“Yes, Aunt.” He crossed his arms over his chest, but the sparkle didn’t disappear from his eyes. “You wanted to speak with Amadi, Master Jedi?”

Obi-Wan opened his mouth to answer, then snapped it shut again when he noticed the familiar brown robe draped over the girl’s shoulders.

His robe.

Siri seemed to notice it at the same time he did. “Where did you get that?”

The girl blinked in surprise at the harshness is Siri’s tone, cowering behind Korkie, who shot her a glare. “What?”

“The robe.”

“It was my dad’s.”

Siri scoffed. “Do you think we’re dumb? That’s a Jedi robe.”

Genuine confusion crossed the boy’s face. “No it’s not. I’ve had it since I was a baby. It was the only thing my dad left when he died.” He turned to Satine, who looked pale and sick. “Right, Aunt?”

“You must be mistaken, Master Jedi.” Her voice was thin and quiet, and she avoided his gaze. “After all, what’s to tell one robe from another?”

Was he imagining things? True, he hadn’t worn that exact type or robe since he’d been made a Master, but he could have sworn…

“Now, if you could conclude your investigation, my nephew and I have business to attend to.”

Siri straightened. “As the interrogation will likely take some time, we’ll take the girl to the temple until the investigation is concluded. I apologize for taking so much of your time, Duchess.”

“Amadi stays,” Korkie retorted.

Satine hesitated for a second. “Is it possible for you to question her here?”

“We can.” Ignoring Siri’s glare, he continued, “As long as you remain on Coruscant, I’m sure there will be no issue.”

The Duchess blanched slightly, but nodded in acquiescence. “May I enquire on how long it will take you to conduct this investigation? I’m afraid I had not planned on an extended visit here.”

“Three weeks at most. Just until we can find and apprehend this Solo.” A month would be far better, but he had a few favors that he could call in if need be. He could hear Siri’s voice through the Force, asking him what he was doing, but he blocked her, not wanting to question himself anymore than he already was.

“Thank you, Master Jedi. Now, if you’ll excuse us,” Satine stood slowly, her hands clasping together tightly in front of her. “Korkie and I must get ready for the day.”

He saw the brief look of panic that crossed the young man’s face, and knew that, despite the apparent nonchalant attitude he had been displaying, he was not looking forward to the discussion he and his aunt were undoubtedly about to have.

Remembering the numerous tongue-lashings Satine had given him before, Obi-Wan didn’t blame him one bit.


Chapter Text

Korkie followed his aunt into her quarters glumly, already dreading the talk that was certain to take place. Even though she appeared calm, he could feel muted anger seeping out around the edges, like a pot of boiling water beginning to crack. There was also something else there, something that felt like sadness, regret.

Disappointment.

And the strange thing was, only half of it was directed towards him.

“Sit.” Her hands, slender but strong, motioned to her massive four-poster bed that dominated the large space. It was always interesting, how her hands remained so firmly fixed in his mind. Since forever, they’d been there, in different measures.

Soft and gentle as she cradled him as a baby. Firm and steady as she helped him take his first steps. Light and delicate as she played his favorite song on the ancient harp. Cool and comforting as she held him through the fever. All the same hands, even as they performed in hundreds of ways.

They never changed. Fine lines had etched around her eyes and her figure was a little older, but her hands were the same. Pale and refined, with the same small, birthmark just above the second knuckle on her left ring finger, identical to his. No doubt a family trait.

They smoothed her skirt now as she sat opposite him before settling just below her abdomen. “I knew I never should have brought you here.”

He hung his head in shame. “I’m sorry, Aunt Satine.”

“Are you really?” Her voice was quiet, so quiet that he wondered if she even expected him to answer. “Are you honestly sorry for what you did, or that you’ve been found out? Or are you just sorry that I don’t approve of your little escapades?”

If he was honest, it was mainly the last one, but he had a suspicion that she wouldn’t appreciate that answer. “I’m sorry for not telling you everything immediately. It wasn’t right, neither was it fair.”

She made a noise that hinted that she didn’t believe him. “I’m sure. What the hell were you thinking, getting mixed up in a Jedi investigation?”

“I didn’t know they were looking for her, I swear it. But I couldn’t leave her there, with him. He treated her as if she was some cheap possession, a…”

Her eyebrow raised. “Slave? Perhaps because that is exactly what she is?”

“She’s a human, and no one should…”

His aunt held up her hand to stop him. “We’re not here to talk about the morality of slavery. You know that I’m proud of you for standing up for what’s right, but…” She seemed conflicted, and he could sense the frustration radiating off of her as she rose abruptly and walked to the transparisteel wall that bordered one side of her room. “Fifteen thousand pounds? For a prostitute?”

“Dancer,” he inserted meekly, cringing.

“Prostitute, dancer, stripper, entertainer… different names for the same job.” The Duchess crossed her arms over her chest. “Whatever possessed you to buy a slave for the price of a small ship? Have you no regard for your upbringing?”

He felt himself wilting into the mattress, suddenly feeling like a child again. “He was going to take her away…”

“...as was his right.” Seeing him wince, her eyes softened a bit. “I’m sorry, it’s just… I love you, and I don’t want anything to happen to you. What if this slaver hadn’t had the same regard for life as you do?He could have injured you, or worse.” Tears gathered in her eyes, and she sniffed. “I don’t know what I would do if I lost you.”

Damn it, he’d made her cry. Korkie hated it when she cried. “It won’t happen again.”

Even through tears, Satine’s glare was frightening to behold. “Is there something else you’d like to tell me?”

“N… no. I was just… just saying…” he stuttered, honestly frightened. “There’s nothing else. Nothing at all.”

“So help me, Korkie, if there’s another girl…”

“No!” The word came out too quickly, too emphatically, and he flushed. “There’s no one else.”

She watched him for a moment, and he could tell she was trying to gauge his emotions. He stared back at her, unguarded and unashamed. Finally, she nodded. “I see. And what exactly do you plan to do with… what’s her name?”

“Amadi.” He contemplated the question for only a moment. “I have enough money in my savings to get her accomodations for a few months. Since I’ll be beginning my official government training at the end of the year, I suppose I’ll let her choose what she wants to do after that.”

Her eyebrows raised. “That’s it?”

He shrugged. “What else can I say? I want to give her a chance to decide her own path. Whatever it may be, I plan to support her in it. The last thing I want is for her to feel like she’s still a slave.”

For the first time that day, his aunt smiled. “Gods, you’re so much like your father. He would have been so proud of the man you’ve become.” The barest of sheens lit her eyes, and he got the sudden feeling that she was going to cry. “I’m proud of you, Korkie, more than you know.”

Kriff. He hated it when people got all dewy-eyed over him. “Thank you, Aunt Satine.”

She sniffled a little, but managed to keep her composure. “I am sorry that I haven’t been available to you. There were… issues… that occured, and I didn’t want them to have a negative affect. Later, I came to regret the radicality of my decision, but I felt like it was too late.” She bit her lip, but didn’t look away. “Sending you away was not the right decision, but completely ignoring you… that was inexcusable, and I truly am sorry that you had to grow up with strangers, when I was barely a speeder ride away.”

Somehow, he’d not only avoided her wrath, but he’d made her feel guilty. It hadn’t been intentional, and it nearly hurt to feel how sincere--how sad--she was. “I never blamed you. How could I? You were the closest thing I had to a mother, and you’re not someone who makes a decision without a reason. I was upset, but I always knew that you must have had a reason for sending me away.”

Contrary to his expectations, that did not seem to make her feel better. “You never should have had to justify my behavior. I never expected you to. I don’t expect you to, even now. I make mistakes, both blindly and knowingly, but that does not give me leave to turn my back on it.”

Why did he get the feeling they weren’t talking about just him anymore?

“I have something I need to tell you.” She looked a bit sick when she said it, but she didn’t lose her composure. “I…”

Her comm beeped suddenly, startling them both. She glanced at the name and hesitated before reaching for the reject button. “I can call him back.”

“No, don’t. We can talk later.” He was curious, but also knew that very few people called the Duchess for a casual chat. “I’ll just… go get ready. You said we’re going somewhere?”

“Lunch with the Senator Amidala.” She looked a bit relieved as she stood and smoothed out her skirts. “Thank you, Korkie.”

He nearly replied, but stopped when he heard her greeting one of Mandalore’s education executives.

She was a busy woman. Whatever it was that she had wanted to tell him, it could wait.


 

The boy had good taste, Obi-Wan would give him that.

By all appearances, Amadi was a decent girl. Quiet and reserved--honestly, what else could one expect--but ready to answer the questions put to her. Apparently, she’d been a slave for as long as she could remember, but hadn’t come under Solo’s supervision until a few years earlier, just before the Clone Wars had begun. What had been surprising was the fact that she was relatively new to the entertainment scene, though she wouldn’t tell him what had been her duties before that.

Obi-Wan wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know.

“Did he treat you well?”

As she had for the whole conversation, she kept her eyes fixed on her lap and nodded. “He always fed us well,” she said softly, her fingers smoothing over her robe-- his robe--as close to fiddling as he supposed she got. “He only beat us when we had to leave a place, or when someone asked too many questions.”

Siri released a soft sigh, signalling that she was tired of being left out of the conversation. In the beginning, they hadn’t anticipated that the girl may not speak Basic--which she did, but only poorly--so there hadn’t been any viable reasons for Siri not to come. But very early in the conversation, he’d decided to switch to Durese, which she appeared to be fluent in. It also happened to be one of the many languages Siri was not fluent in.

“One more question, and we’ll be done,” he said, as much to Siri as the girl.

“Finally,” Siri breathed, rising. “I’m going to run to the fresher.”

He ignored her. His final question had the potential to be more useful than the rest of the conversation. “Did you ever meet your master?”


 

Obi-Wan stifled a yawn as he left the council chambers, ready to go to his room and get some rest. The past few days had been draining, and he felt as if he might finally be able to sleep.

He’d brought the council up to speed on the mission, leaving them to mull on the supply of new evidence. Amadi hadn’t been particularly forthcoming on the subject of her master, but he had gotten the sense that it was more out of fear than particular stubbornness. No doubt he would have to speak with her several more times, but at least they had made definite progress.

Now if he could only find a way to take someone else--anyone else--other than Siri with him to the next meeting. Even though he had no way of being for sure, he was almost sure she’d said something to Satine before they’d left. He hadn’t thought anything amiss when she’d excused herself to go to the fresher, but after she’d come out nearly a half hour later with a satisfied look and Satine had never reappeared, he’d begun to suspect that something had happened.

But what was he to do? He couldn’t well confront her without rumours being spread throughout the temple, something that he couldn’t afford at a time when the Council seemed to be scrutinizing his every move. Satine’s appearance at his funeral had raised more than a few eyebrows, and it was doubtless that everyone would jump on any testimony Siri might give.

He didn’t dare apologize to Satine. She already knew all there was to know about what had transpired between he and Siri, and he knew that she’d likely not want to rehash it again. Not to mention he already felt guilty enough for what had happened between them.

So, he would hope that some other lead to Solo would arise and the council would find Siri’s skills necessary elsewhere.

Running a hand through his hair exhaustedly, he palmed open the door to his quarters and stepped in, happy to finally be alone.

Only to find himself immediately surrounded by more Jedi.

Quinlan, Aayla, Kit, Anakin, Siri, and Ahsoka were all lounging across his living quarters, engaged in various stages of repose and reclination. The padawan-and-a-half noticed him first, though it was the half that got to her feet first. “Master! Are you okay?”

“Ye...es?” he frowned. “Should I not be?”

Anakin joined Ahsoka now, worry filling his eyes even as he forced a smile. “Can I get you anything, Master? Tea? Caff? Aayla smuggled in some ginger biscuits, if you’d care for one.”

What in the blazes… “er, yes, I’ll have a tea.” Six pairs of worry filled eyes were turned toward him, and he was at a loss why. “Did something happen that I should be aware about?” Surely Satine couldn’t have managed to get in some scrape so quickly.

Aayla sighed, exchanging glances with her former master. “Please, Obi-Wan, sit.”

He obliged her, though reluctantly, accepting the cup of tea Anakin brought him solemnly. “What’s all this about?”

“We’re worried about you, Master,” Ahsoka said softly, as if afraid that he was going to bolt if she spoke to loudly. “You haven’t been yourself lately. Not to be rude, but you’ve been a bit… cross.”

He looked at all of them, surprised to find them all seemingly completely serious. Even Anakin made no joking comment as he was apt to do in a serious situation.

Setting his tea on the table, Obi-Wan offered what he hoped to be a reassuring smile. “I’m perfectly fine, thank you. Just a bit tired.”

Not even a fleeting flash of relief. Siri perched on the edge of his chair, wrapping her arms around his shoulders confidingly. “You’re going to work yourself to death if you keep this up. Let me--us--take care of you.”

He wanted to shrug out of her embrace, but couldn’t find the energy in himself to move. He was tired, more so than he dared let on.

Siri began to nuzzle the back of his neck, and he flinched away. Even in the sordid state his conscience had sunken to, finding any form of pleasure with Siri was not something he was willing, or even wanted to do. She pulled back, and he could sense the hurt radiating off of her.

Oh well. She would have to get over it.

Quinlan stood. “Come on, let’s give the guy some air to breathe. He can’t very well rest if we’re all looming over him, can he?”

The others grudgingly rose as well, all continuing to give him skeptical and worried looks.He did his best to appear in good spirits, despite the fact that he was feeling quite the opposite.

“Rest well, Kenobi. I’m sure the council won’t grudge you a couple hours of sleep.” Kit smiled, patting him amicably on the shoulder. “If you ever need someone to talk to about anything, don’t hesitate to drop by.”

“The same goes for me, Obi-Wan.” Aayla hugged him gently, almost cautiously. Blast it, did everyone think he was on the verge of a mental breakdown?

Even Anakin was maintaining the guise of a properly concerned former-padawan. No doubt the boy was eager to visit the Senator Amidala--he’d heard that the Senate had declared recess for the rest of the evening--yet, here he was, dutifully doing his part to uphold his position in Obi-Wan’s-mental-health support group.

A bloody nuisance was what it was.

Ahsoka and Siri both gave him more of the same delicate embraces that spoke of a silent fear that he was going over the deep end. Finally, it was only him and Quinlan, who had poured himself a mug of caff and was watching him with an unreadable expression. But it wasn’t until the door closed and Obi-Wan sank into his chair that he spoke.

“It’s the Duchess, isn’t it?” When Obi-Wan didn’t reply, he chuckled softly. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it before now. Well, if it isn’t little Oafy, thwarted in matters of the heart.”

Obi-Wan glared up at him balefully. “What makes you think that?”

The Kiffar shrugged, sitting down across from him and sipping on his caff as if it was the finest brew and not the sludge provided by his Excellency’s Grand Army of the Republic. “What else could it be? As far as I can see it, this whole mood thing started right after some newly resurrected Jedi disappeared for a whole night after going to make his apologies to Her Grace. Not to mention Siri’s been hanging off of you like a leech, which she only does when there is doubt about the loyalties of your non-existent affection.”

When put in those terms, it was hard to deny it. He stared down at the tea in his hands, suddenly wishing it was something stronger. A whiskey, or even a mug of the foul and inherently strong Corellian brandy that Anakin kept.

As if by magic, a decanter of the former appeared on the table in front of him, accompanied by a pair of glasses already half filled with the stuff. It was warm from being out, but that hardly deterred him from consuming the entire glass in one go. “I slept with her.”

To his credit, Quinlan didn’t make any lewd insinuations or bawdy jokes, as he was wont to do in past times. “Was her Grace in possession of such unreasonable desires as ladies of a romantic nature tend to inconveniently get when engaging in a brief but passionate tryst?”

“Very eloquent of you, Vos, but also incorrect to the extreme.” He contemplated refilling the glass briefly, but decided against it. “Her Grace made it clear to me, that despite any personal feelings on the matter, she would never ask such a thing of me and wouldn’t want me to do such a thing for her.”

“You know, Kenobi, there’s men across the galaxy--some of them Jedi--who long for what you have.” Quinlan sat across from him, downing his whiskey and pouring them both another with the Force. “I mean, think about it. You’re having a passionate and illicit affair with a attractive, intelligent, rich woman who--correct me if I’m wrong--will continue with said affair as long as you don’t give up anything to be with her, and you’re complaining?”

Of course Quinlan wouldn’t understand. “I don’t… Satine’s different, Quinlan. I… I care for her, and I don’t… I don’t want to mess this up. I don’t want just have a quick lay, not with her. But I can’t give her the life she deserves.”

Quinlan stared at him with wide eyes. “Stang, Kenobi, she’s got you whipped good . I’ve got to meet this woman.”

“I have to go back there in the morning. You’re welcome to come.” He would likely regret the invitation tomorrow, but he would deal with that then. “As it is, even you’ll be better to take than Siri.”

“Well, thank you, Kenobi, for that vote of confidence.” Downing his second glass of whiskey, Quinlan eyed the one he’d set in front of Obi-Wan. “Speaking of Siri, though, did you ever find out if she said something that time?”

It was a conscious decision not to pick up the whiskey, as tempting as it was. “Satine wouldn’t tell me what she said, but she asked about the status of our relationship, which leaves little doubt, if there was any in the first place.” He scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling more exhausted by the second. “Today… I didn’t know what to do with her. She has to know more about Satine than she lets on. Siri isn’t a mean person…”

“...until she’s jealous,” Quinlan finished for him. “Let me guess, there was a good deal of hugging and covert conversations. Same as when she thought you had a thing for Shaak back before you went to Mandalore.”

The memory made him smile. “She did, didn’t she? How did I ever convince her otherwise, that time?”

Quinlan raised his eyebrows. “You went to Mandalore and every other word in your comm calls were either the Duchess or that girl, depending on the occasion.”

“Oh. I suppose that wouldn’t help me now, especially with all the suspicion the council has placed on me after Satine came to my funeral. They’re especially not pleased that she’s taken in the girl, and even less so that I’m likely the only one who would be welcome in that ladie’s abode.”

“How did that work out, anyway? Siri told us that the girl was there, but not exactly how that came to be.”

Obi-Wan crossed his arms over his chest and sat back in his seat. “You remember the boy?”

“The nephew?”

He nodded. “He bailed her out. Fifteen.”

“Fifteen hundred?”

“Fifteen thousand.”

Quinlan choked on his caff. “Fifteen grand? What kid has that sort of cash?”

“The ducal heir, I suppose. And considering that our twi’lek friend was squealing about Solo going to pick up the girl, I wouldn’t doubt that wasn’t the only thing he gave him.”

“Solo?”

“The slaver.” He tossed him the datapad with all the information Korkie had given them. “Somehow, our young friend not only bought himself a private entertainer, but also managed to get the man’s name and address, not to mention contact information.”

His friend whistled long and low as he scrolled through the information. “Maybe we should reconsider our interrogation tactics. Is this how pacifists operate? Just pay off everyone? Because it certainly seems easier than chasing down mercenaries at the end of a lightsaber.”

“Maybe that’s why we always seem to be on the losing side of the war. According to some of our esteemed senators, the Republic is bleeding money at an alarming rate.”

The kiffar snorted. “I don’t see how. It’s not like they’re paying us bantha poodoo.”

“Have they ever?”

“True.” With a sigh, Quinlan rose. “Well, I’m going to leave you to get your sleep, old man. You going to drink that?”

He shook his head, getting to his feet as well. “No, you’re welcome to it. Force knows I don’t need any more.”

Grinning, his friend downed the glass in one swallow. “As my rule goes, never turn down free alcohol. See you in the morning, Obi-Wan.”

He yawned, gathering the empty glasses and mugs with the Force and setting them in the sink. “Good night, Quinlan.”

“Get some sleep,” Quinlan called from the door. “We can’t have you keeling over in front of Her Grace, can we?”

Obi-Wan would have replied, but the door had already slid shut behind his friend, leaving him alone. Exhausted, he slowly made his way to his room, doubtlessly to sleep and dream of the Duchess.

Chapter Text

The girl was sweet, she had to admit.

Satine hid a smile as she watched Korkie tried to coax the girl to eat her dinner. They’d spent the evening getting the girl fitted for new garments and collecting other necessities, and were now back at the apartment eating dinner.

Well, eating was a bit of a stretch. She was pushing her meager portions around her plate to hide the embarrassingly small amount that she’d actually consumed, and Korkie was too busy trying to convince the girl that it was okay for her to eat to swallow more than a few bites himself.

It was endearing to watch them together. Korkie truly cared for the girl, that much was clear to see. With an attentiveness that did him credit, he’d been careful to assure her of her freedom while taking the fact that she was used to being a slave into account. Apparently, he’d done some studying earlier that morning, and had read about former slaves going wild once they realized they were free. His plan, as he’d explained to her, was to slowly help her adjust to freedom by offering her small choices on mundane things. What color robes she wanted, which scent perfume she wanted, what restaurant she wanted to eat at, etc. Little either-or questions of small consequence that would give her a chance to explore her will.

And if Korkie seemed to care for her, Amadi was enamored by him. Doubtlessly some of it was because she thought of him as her Master, but there was always seemed to be an element of unabashed fascination in her eyes whenever she looked at him, as if he was some sort of God.

It reminded her of how a certain young Jedi she knew looked at a certain Senator. Maybe it was the look of a slave to their liberator? Or was it the look of someone quickly losing their heart?

If Korkie was anything like his father--he was, overwhelmingly--she couldn’t blame the girl. Perhaps it was the mother in her talking, but she couldn’t blame anyone for thinking highly of her son. She was proud of him, she wouldn’t lie about it. She’d thought of him as something that needed to be protected, and here he was taking the role of the protector.

Yes, she was proud of him.

After another ten minutes of fruitless picking at her dinner, Satine pushed her plate away. Korkie had already finished his several minutes ago--one minute, the food had been there, the next, gone--and Amadi had eaten a decent portion of hers. When she saw that Satine had stopped, however, she rose and took all of their plates to the small kitchen, immediately setting to washing them.

Korkie watched the girl in amusement for a moment before getting up to join her. Despite her small sounds of protest, he gently took the dishes from her and put them in the dishwasher. Seeming a bit miffed, the girl immediately took up a towel and began wiping down the countertops and table.

Before he could stop her, Satine stood and motioned him over. “Let her clean up if she wants to. Come, I need your help with something.” Seeing his hesitation, she gave him a reassuring smile. “I’ll be brief.”

Seeming a bit appeased, he followed her into the living area. Not quite out of sight, but just far enough that the girl wouldn’t be able to hear them.

Now that she was here, what was she going to say? “I told you that Obi-Wan--Master Kenobi--and I once pursued a relationship.” There, that was a decent beginning. If she felt really brave, she could probably tell him that he was her son as well. “What I didn’t tell you was… A couple months ago, I came here for his funeral. A few days before I left, he came to inform me that he was not, in fact, dead.”

Even without the Force, she could tell that the subject wasn’t one that he wanted to talk about. “And I suppose he brought his girlfriend with him to gloat over you?”

How was she to know he would be so protective? “He didn’t ask her to. Somehow, she’d found out that we’d been close before and took it upon herself to let me know that I had lost my grip on him.” It didn’t occur to her until just then that Siri probably had known Obi-Wan was alive from the beginning. Why else would she want to make the ex-lover of her deceased flame jealous? “Later that night, he came back alone, I assume to apologize for her behavior.” She paused, suddenly at a loss for words.

It didn’t matter, for judging by the growing scowl on Korkie’s face, he knew exactly what she was going to say. “Kriffing bastard.”

She was mildly surprised at his language, but didn’t remark on it. After all, hadn’t she said worse before? “I asked him to stay.”

“He forced you.” The agitation was clear in his tone. “Do you even know what Jedi do? They make people believe ideas they think are their own.”

“And you don’t?” She’d known he hadn’t been comfortable in the Jedi’s presence, but this was a whole new dynamic. “I assume that the slaver just told you all about his business?”

He paused, and the conflict was clear in his eyes. “That’s different. Anyone could have known that, but…”

“No they couldn’t.” It took tremendous effort not to shout, but she knew that it wasn’t his fault, that the lie had been created by no one other than herself. “You are different, Korkie, you can do things that others can’t. You’re father was the same way. You have intuitions that can be frightening in their accuracy. You have the power to know things, to do things that others can’t.”

His eyes dimmed, and she could see him beginning to close off to her. “You lied to me.”

The betrayal in his eyes hurt, even if it was justified. “I didn’t know what to do. People hated your father for his gifts, and I didn’t… I couldn’t watch you grow up with the same stigma.”

He made a soft sound of derision, rising. “Do you think I’m stupid? Dortri Kryze wasn’t the one people hated. It was you. That’s why you lied. You lied because you were jealous. Jealous of the fact that people wanted him to be Manda’lor so bad that they were willing to kill you for it. When he died, you probably didn’t even care, did you? You knew you’d won, that Mandalore would be yours. Too late, you realized there was something wrong, because you’d missed something in your plans. Me.” Tears glistened in his eyes, and she could feel the years of pent-up anger, fear, and agony rolling off of him in suffocating waves. She wanted to interject, to soothe the aching hurt that had been no doubt a long time coming, but she restrained herself, letting him speak, lest she cause even more damage.

Korkie was pacing now, hair spiked up from where he’d run his hands through it in perturbation. “You thought you could control me, use me to win the hearts of the public, didn’t you? But you made another mistake; you realized that I was too much like my father, so you had to get rid of me. That’s the real reason why you sent me away, because you knew you couldn’t control me. Because you were afraid . And you still are. You know that I’m more powerful than you, and now that you’re on shaky ground again, you want to use me again. Well, you can just go kriff your Jedi and hope that he’ll help you, because I’m not going to be your slave.”

She was being torn apart. She’d been shot, beaten, and burned before, and nothing had been as painful as this. But even as much pain she was in, she knew that it couldn’t come anywhere close to what Korkie was feeling. She’d chosen her path. He’d been given no choice.

What had she done?

Tears were rolling freely down her cheeks, but she couldn’t bring herself to wipe them away. She didn’t deserve to. This was her son , and she’d hurt him in a way that she wouldn’t wish on anyone. Not death watch, not the Republic, not even Palpatine.

Okay, maybe Palpatine, but that was beside the point.

“It’s true isn’t it?” All the anger had left his voice, and there was only despair, disappointment, a sorrow so crushing it seemed to press him down. “It’s all true.”

“No.” There was a fierceness in her tone that surprised her, but she clung to it. “Gods, Korkie, I never wanted to hurt you. Somehow, in my ignorance, my pride, I thought I was protecting you. Force knows if I could go back and change everything, I would, but I can’t . Believe me when I say I’ve tried.”

He snorted. “Why should I believe you? All you’ve ever done is lie to me. How do I even know that all this isn’t just another hoax? You always say things, but where’s the proof? Where are any of my files? Medical records, DNA proof, birth certificate… If you have them, why can’t I see them? I don’t know anything about who I am. For all I know, I may not even be your nephew, or…”

Kriff it all to hell. “Do you really want to know? No, you are not my brother’s son. No, you are not my nephew. No, your mother wasn’t some anonymous person that abandoned you on my doorstep. You are my son , and more than that, I love you.” She couldn’t even see through her tears now, but she couldn’t stop. “Yes, I lied, to you and to everyone else, and yes, I was afraid. But know this right now, everything I ever said about your father was true. You are just like him, so much so that it hurts to know that he never knew you existed, never got to see you grow up, never knew how proud he would be of you if he saw you now. It hurt me that I couldn’t tell you how proud of you I was. It hurt me every day that you were gone, and it hurts so kriffing bad to know that I have irreparably hurt you.”

It wasn’t until he wrapped his arms around her did she realize that he was beside her. Somehow, knowing that he knew everything and still was here beside her broke whatever resistance was left in her, and she felt herself crumble into a heap of sorrow.

She didn’t know how long she sat there and cried in his arms. It could have been a matter of minutes, or it could have been hours. It could have been days for all she cared. Every word, every tear had felt like a boulder being lifted off of her back. Even amidst the anguish she felt, there was a hint of lightness in her heart, something that hadn’t been there in years.


 

She was his mother.

Korkie sank back down onto the couch, unsure if he wanted to laugh or cry. It was a relief to know that his fears were unfounded, but this… this was so far removed from everything that he’d ever known.

For seventeen years, he’d been living a lie. How could he not have known?

But the thing was, he had, all along. No matter what title he’d called her, deep down, he’d always thought of her as his mother. He’d even called her mom by accident a few times. Before his sixth birthday, she’d treated him as if he was her son, and he’d fantasized about a day that she’d adopt him and make it official.

He wanted to be angry, to hate her for lying to him for so many years, but he couldn’t. What would it have changed if he had known, anyway?

But there was another question that he had now. If she was his mother, and Dortri Kryze was not his father, who was? Already, he had an inkling of suspicion, but it was so absurd, so strange that he didn’t even want to consider it.

But it made so much sense.

His father was Obi-Wan Kenobi. What other answer could there be?He would have been on Mandalore at the time he was conceived, and his aunt had admitted to having relations with him. Not to mention he’d been mistaken as the Jedi’s son thrice in the matter of a day.

Wait. If he was the son of a Jedi… did that inadvertently make him a Jedi of sorts? The thought was both horrifying and intriguing. He’d been fascinated with Jedi as a child, and to know that there was a very real possibility that he was one of them…

His mind raced as he tried to recall everything he had ever read and heard about them. They had special powers--was that was his aunt had meant when she’d said he’d inherited his senses from his father?--but he’d never really been able to find out what they were. The thing was, it had been hard to find anything written about the Jedi that wasn’t biased in the Mandalorian libraries. He knew they were prime fighters, and could use their powers to persuade beings to participate in their will, but that was nearly it.

Oh, and they had the best ships.

That brought him up short. A starfighter. Was it truly possible that he could fly one? Any time he’d asked his flight instructor about it, she’d insisted that only Jedi were able to fly their ships, which were made and modified to the particular use of them. Only the most seasoned and steady-handed pilots could possibly fly the crafts.

Unless, of course, they were Jedi.

He’d need training, of course. The Jedi were infamous for their extensive training. It wasn’t as if he could just go up to the Jedi temple and ask for training, at least not without being suspicious. So that left only one option: to watch and learn. Once he saw it, then he could surely learn to mimic it, right?

Korkie flopped back on the couch, pleased with his reasoning. The Jedi--his father--would be coming back in the morning, no doubt. Even though it would be risky, perhaps he could garner an invitation to the Jedi temple to see what exact training Jedi did.

Now that was an idea.

The Jedi had wanted to investigate Amadi in their own quarters. Maybe if his aunt--mother--was indisposed one day, he would be forced to escort her there. Subtlety was the key, but with the proper amount of grudgefulness and muted disdain, he could probably pull it off.

That night, Korkie’s dreams were full of Jedi starfighters and lightsabers.


 

Obi-Wan was beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea.

This whole thing felt like a disaster. First Siri, and now Quinlan. Who knew what the Kiffar would say? The man had no filter, and knew far too much about him, both past and present. If he’d found it necessary to apprise the boy of the full history betweeen Obi-Wan and his aunt, who knew what he would say when he met said aunt himself.

“Your Grace, may I say that my poor friend has not done your beauty justice?”

Well, that, he supposed.

Satine blushed a little, something she’d never done with him . Blast Quinlan for being the charming bastard he was. “Master Vos, I presume. I see that you are as well acquainted with my name as I am with yours. Though it seems that you might have been more accurately described than I have been.”

Quinlan winked, dropping a kiss on her proffered hand. “The report was accurate, but your beauty could hardly be captured by mere words.”

“That’s enough,” he hissed through clenched teeth, hating the way Satine’s eyes sparkled. “Is the girl awake?”

“She is, though I don’t believe she’s ready yet. Can I offer you anything while you wait? Tea? Caff?” She raised an eyebrow at Quinlan. “Spirits?”

The kiffar grinned broadly. “My reputation proceeds me, but no thank you. I will take some caff, though.”

“Tea, thank you.” The last thing he needed was alcohol. He’d been consuming far too much of the foul stuff of late, as it was.

Korkie strode into the room, nodding hello before kissing Satine affectionately on the cheek. “Master Jedi. Aunt. Is the tea for me?”

“It’s for Master Kenobi, but you’re welcome to make some of your own.” Taking down two dainty cups and filling them with the steaming beverages, she offered them an apologetic smile. “I’m afraid I don’t have any mugs. Cream or sugar?”

He was about to object when she dropped a single cube of sugar in his, just as he’d always drunk it.

Quinlan drowned a snicker in his caff, coughing a bit when the scalding liquid hit his mouth. “Hell, that’s hot.”

Satine hummed softly, offering him a napkin. “Is Master Tachi not well?”

“She’s fine.” He didn’t want to talk about Siri. Honestly, he’d put her name out for every mission that had come through the council that morning, but not either they’d seen through his schemes or they thought they were doing him a favor by leaving her on his team.

“I expected her to be here this morning.” There was a hint of a challenge in her tone that let him know she wasn’t going to let the topic go.

Blasted women.

Thankfully, Quinlan stepped in. “We decided I would be a better choice since Siri doesn’t speak Durese. I hope that won’t be a problem.”

She smiled. “No problem. I simply was concerned after she assured me she would be here.”

So Siri had talked to her. Bloody hell. “I’ll be sure to tell her of your concern.” Just after he sensed her, Amadi appeared in the doorway, eyes still a bit bleary from sleep. “Good morning, young one.”

She dropped a small curtsy, stifling a yawn. Almost immediately, Korkie was at her side, handing her a cup of tea and murmuring something in her ear. The boy was utterly infatuated, even if he didn’t know it yet, and the girl seemed equally besotted with her young savior. Much like how Anakin looked at Padmé, and vise versa. Perhaps it was a slave-savior sort of thing. Who knew?

Swallowing the rest of his tea, he rose. “I don’t want to keep you from your day. Shall we get on with it?”

Chapter Text

Perhaps not all of Obi-Wan’s friends were completely horrible.

Satine liked Quinlan infinitely more than she’d liked Siri. The kiffar--he’d explained his heritage readily, despite the fact she hadn’t asked him--was very easy going, something that seemed like it could be his best and worst trait. Good in the sense that he immediately put people at ease, bad in the sense that it seemed to irritate Obi-Wan to no end.

The Jedi had been there for nearly an hour, but there had been no questioning to speak of. Mainly because Quinlan was too busy trying to tell Obi-Wan’s most embarrassing secrets to allow them to do what they’d come for. She wouldn’t deny that it was highly entertaining, but it was also only prolonging the time she couldn’t be at ease.

During her first pregnancy, she’d been paranoid that she’d accidently run across a Jedi and they’d sense her condition. Thankfully, it had never happened, but this time… She might not be so lucky.

Quinlan drained his third cup of caff, setting it back on the table with a flick of his fingers. “And then there was the time that he convinced us all to go skinny dipping in the temple gardens…”

“I think that’s enough stories for today,” Obi-Wan interrupted, cheeks flushed a bright pink in embarrassment. “I’m sure her Grace has a busy day planned, and I wouldn’t want to keep her from her duties any longer than necessary.”

She was about to thank him for his consideration and excuse them when Korkie spoke up. “Please, continue. The only thing we have scheduled is brunch with Senator Amidala, and she’ll be coming here.” Whether or not he was purposefully ignoring her pointed gaze, she couldn’t tell. “I would have thought that the Jedi don’t allow such activities.”

“You’d be surprised at what all happens in the temple, kid, and how much is actually allowed.” Obi-Wan made a warning noise, but Quinlan ignored it, sitting forward confidentially. “When most people think of Jedi, they think of some strict, innocent do-gooder whose life is devoted to helping people and spreading peace.”

Obi-Wan raised an amused eyebrow. “We’re not?”

The kiffar waved him off. “See, here we have a perfect example. Many would call Obi-Wan the perfect Jedi. Rational, reserved, completely unattached. Knows the code inside and out and could probably recite the entire history of the Jedi. But I’m here to tell you that’s all just a facade.”

“Quinlan…” There was a warning tone in Obi-Wan’s voice, though his face remained completely blank.

“Calm your tits, Kenobi. I’m not going to pick apart your manhood in front of the woman.” He grinned, winking at her. “Anyway, I’m sure she’s probably already done that herself.”

She flushed hotly, catching the not-so-subtle innuendo partially buried in his words. Force, Obi-Wan hadn’t been kidding when he said the kiffar said whatever came to his mind.

Quinlan sat back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “Look, it’s probably apparent that Obi-Wan and I are polar opposites. He’s got a golden tongue that he knows how to hold when the situation calls for it; I say what I mean when I think about it, regardless of the consequences. When we have a mission, he likes to sit down and think about the best way to get the desired result while my only concern is the end, and I’m going to get there no matter what it takes. He sees things as black and white, I see everything as shades of gray.” His smile slipped a bit, eyes meeting Obi-Wan’s for a moment. “He has horrible taste in people and loves too easily, yet somehow is able to remain wholly unattached; I, on the other hand, rarely love anyone, but somehow manage to kriff up everything when I do.

“The thing is, despite the apparent differences between us, we’re still both Jedi at heart. We may not do the same things, or even think the same way, but we both dedicate our existence to following the will of the Force.” Obi-Wan snorted derisively, but Quinlan ignore him. “‘There is no emotion, there is peace; there is no ignorance, there is knowledge; there is no passion, there is serenity; there is no chaos, there is harmony; there is no death, there is the Force’.”

Satine smiled at the familiar words. “The Jedi code.”

Quinlan nodded. “Different Jedi view it different ways. Obi-Wan is a part of the category that believes that it’s meant to be taken literally. I, much like Qui-Gon and Skywalker, prefer to look upon it as a general guideline that one should be aware of, but not build their life upon. Generally, other’s fall somewhere in the middle.”

“But which do you believe is right?” There was no questioning Korkie’s interest in the discussion, blue eyes riveted to the Jedi with keen interest. “And how does that translate into your personal life?”

This time, Obi-Wan answered. “The code reflects the thoughts of a Jedi at their full potential. The farther away from it a Jedi strays, the weaker they become. Inherently, some Jedi are born stronger than others. Quinlan is more Force-sensitive than most, and as such is able to perform at a level higher than myself and others with less effort.”

“What he’s trying to say is that I’m lazy and won’t work to make myself better because I’m already better than him without even trying.” There was no malice or disappointment in Quinlan’s voice, and if he was bothered by the fact that Obi-Wan didn’t disagree with him, he didn’t show it. “As for how this affects our personal lives? It doesn’t, really. As long as we’re available when they need us and aren’t addicted to anything, the Jedi don’t really care what we do. It’s pretty much up to us to know when and where to draw the line. Does that answer your question?”

Korkie nodded, rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he rose. “If you’ll excuse me.”

Satine met his gaze briefly before he left the room, trying to figure out what had triggered the sudden change in attitude. The small, consolatory smile he offered her did nothing to ease the concern building.

She had half started up to follow him when a flash of light from outside told her that Padmé had arrived. She smothered a sigh as she excused herself from the Jedi, wishing not for the first time that she actually had all the time in the world to take with her son.

But, like so many other things that should be important in her life, he would have to wait.


 

Obi-Wan had a bad feeling about this.

He stood in the center of the council chambers, a place he hadn’t been in since he’d been elected onto the council. Even now, his chair sat empty, seeming to call to him.

Mace steepled his fingers, avoiding his gaze for the first time ever. “Master Tachi came to us this morning in your absence.”

Bloody hell . He stiffened. “I don’t…”

“She believes that you are allowing personal matters to cloud your judgement when it comes to this mission.” Shaak Ti’s gaze was somewhere above his shoulder, something that was odd for the Togrutan master. “Hence, your choice to take Master Vos this morning in her stead.”

“Siri and the Duchess don’t get along well.” Someone snorted, though who, he couldn’t tell. “As it is, the girl speaks Durese, which Quinlan is fluent in.”

Mace raised an eyebrow. “The Duchess made known to you her discomfort?”

Blast. “No, but…”

“Siri Tachi was chosen due to her previous meeting with the Duchess. It seems to be her opinion that Duchess Kryze enjoys her company, and that it was your feelings on the subject that called for her removal.” Shaak sighed. “Look, Obi-Wan, your regard for the Duchess has hardly been a secret. Until now, it hasn’t been a problem, but…”

“It isn’t…”

“If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Mace frowned. “We haven’t pulled you from the case because of your relation to the Duchess. However, that will change if you allow your feelings to cloud your judgement.”

He clenched his jaw. “And Siri isn’t?”

Kit sat forward in his chair, interest sparking in his eyes. “Are you saying you have reason to believe that her motives are not unadulterated?”

He hesitated. Despite her flaws, she was his friend. “I do. I had occasion to speak to the Duchess during her previous visit here, and she revealed that Siri had said… things… to her, in regards to our previous involvement.” He sighed, raking a hand through his hair. “I hadn’t confronted her in hopes that she would let it be. After seeing that her attitude was unchanged yesterday, Quinlan agreed to go with me today in an effort to avoid any more unpleasantness.”

“And when did this talk with the Duchess occur?” Kit’s eyes sparkled, as if he knew something.

Blast. “Senator Amidala told me that she’d attended my funeral, and I felt that it was only right that I tell her the truth. I went to her the evening I returned to Coruscant.”

“Is it safe to assume that a little more than talking occured?” Mace asked drily. “I find it hard to believe that Her Grace simply told you that Siri told her of your previous sex life and nothing happened.”

He was not discussing his sex life in front of the council. “Is that a problem?”

“Perhaps you should answer that yourself.”


 

Korkie yawned quietly, palming shut the door to his room. Amadi was sound asleep in his bed, meaning that he was going to have to endure another night on his aunt’s--mother’s--couch. It wasn’t a horrible couch, as many of her pieces were made for comfort as much as they were for elegance and style. But it was still no bed.

Thank goodness he was relatively short.

Gathering the blankets from the linen closet, he was about to make up his makeshift bed when he saw there was a light on in the kitchen.

Was the Duchess still awake?

Not ready to give into his self-imposed exile just yet, he made a quick detour to the lit room. Sure enough, his aunt-- mother --was there, fast asleep at the counter. She had a cup of tea at one elbow that, upon closer inspection, was still warm, signalling that she’d only fallen asleep recently. The fact was solidified by the datapad still powered on in front of her.

Absently, he picked it up, looking over what she had been reading.

Upon entering the second trimester, some symptoms begin to decline, such as morning sickness, cramping, breast tenderness, etc. At this time, abdominal growth, false contractions, and mild moving sensations may also become noticeable…

It took him too long to process what he was reading. When he did, however, he dropped the datapad as if it was on fire. It clattered onto the countertop loudly, immediately rousing the Duchess from her rest.

Blonde wisps of hair stuck up in all directions as she squinted up at him, eyes bleary from sleep. “Korkie? Where am… Did I fall asleep?”

He gaped back at her, at a loss of what to say. His brain felt fried, the words he’d read looping endlessly through his vision.

“What…” Her fair skin paled as her gaze landed on the datapad, and she exhaled slowly. “Oh. I had planned to tell you.”

“You’re…” The words stuck in his throat, and he swallowed. “How?”

She sighed, avoiding his gaze. “Does it matter?”

“Does it…” he trailed off in disbelief. “Of course it matters! Do you even hear yourself? You can’t raise a child alone..”

“I’ve done it before. Granted, it was a task that I did not complete gracefully, but does it even matter?” He could hear the frustration in her voice as she stood, taking her mug of tea and setting it in the warmer. “I made an ill-fated decision, and now I must face the consequences. Circumstances dictate that I must face them alone, just as I did eighteen years ago.”

“Eighteen years ago was a mistake.”

She turned on him then, eyes snapping angrily. “ You were not a mistake. If you think that I ever regretted anything about the circumstances surrounding your conception, then you are mistaken. The only thing I ever regretted was not being able to provide you with a whole family, or even a home. You were a treasure that I was fortunate to receive, a reminder of the love that I lost. How could I regret that?”

If she could be stubborn, then so could he. “You sent me away.”

“You were in danger, damn it!” She let out a string of Mandalorian expletives under her breath. “I didn’t think I had a choice. I was young, naive, and terrified that they would find out who you were and take you away from me.”

“They?”

She flinched, cursing again. “I’m sure you must have already guessed who your father was.”

“Kenobi?”

“I never told him that I was pregnant with you.” She swallowed. “I knew he would have wanted to do the right thing, to leave the order, but I couldn’t… he’d made his decision, and I thought I was completely capable of raising you on my own. By the time I realized that you were Force-sensitive, I believed it was too late.”

Force-sensitive . He’d heard the Jedi say that, and knew it had something to do with how they worked. “You taught me how to control it.”

“As best I knew how.” Taking her tea out of the warmer, she took a sip of it. “I’d learned enough from Obi-Wan and Master Jinn to teach you the basics. I contemplated sending you to the Jedi, but couldn’t bear the thought of parting with you at such a young age.”

“They found out?” Though it was the logical answer, it didn’t ring true in his mind. “Is that why you sent me away?”

She shook her head. “No, they never knew. At least, if they did, they never confronted me of it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Qui-Gon found out at some time, or even Master Yoda.” She sat down again, taking his hand. “No, it wasn’t the Jedi I was afraid of. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Sith in your studies?”

Of course he had. Every true Mandalorian had to know their history, a history much intertwined with the Jedi and their enemies, the Sith, though their presence had been eradicated over a millennia ago. “I’ve read a bit about them.”

“Do you remember, the day before I sent you away, we were watching a news program about the Trade Federation’s occupation of Naboo?”

“Yes.” The day was forever engraved in his mind.

“The Zabrak who killed Master Jinn, and was in turn killed by Obi-Wan--Padawan Kenobi, at the time--” She paused, swallowing. “I later found out from your father that the Jedi suspected him to be one of them, a Sith.”

Korkie inhaled sharply. “I thought they were extinct.”

“So did the Jedi.” She smoothed back a loose strand of hair off of his forehead, eyes softening. “I knew that they would be looking for someone to take advantage of, someone open and receptive to views other than the Jedi. My story was never strong--I honestly have no idea how no one questioned it for so long--and I was afraid that someone with an interest might notice that you were different, gifted. By sending you away from me, and thus putting you out of the public eye, I believed that you would be better protected.”

“What changed?”

She looked away from him, blue eyes clouding over with shame. “I needed you,” she admitted softly. “When I found out… I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made with you. I never should have sent you away…”

“You were afraid.” He couldn’t blame her for that, even if it had hurt him. “You made an ill-advised decision, and we both suffered because of it. But that’s in the past. You chose to change something--a choice that you see as selfish, a choice that I see as redeeming. You are my mother, and it’s not wrong for you to want to change your life for the better.” He sat back, running a hand through his hair tiredly. “Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s move on to the matter at hand. Was it my father?”

She exhaled slowly, nodding. “The day he came back to Coruscant, after the whole thing with him faking his death, the council sent Master Tachi here to make sure my apartment was secure.”

So that was how they’d known each other. “Master Kenobi came with her?”

“He came by himself, not knowing that she was here. I expect that he’d come to explain his faked death, but he could hardly do that with a fellow Jedi present.”

Korkie frowned, trying to process the information. “But… you’re… they’re… she said…” he made a vague motion to her stomach, feeling his cheeks redden. “If they are… er… together… how did you and he...”

She smiled, seemingly amused at his discomfort. “Have sex? Again?” Flushing hotly, he nodded, prompting her to chuckle. “Since he had been unable to speak to me with Siri present, he came back that night. I asked him to stay.”

“Did you know, then? About them?”

“I asked him, yes. He confessed that they had been involved some time back, but their dedication to the Order had caused them to drift apart. From what I gathered, he had been unaware that she hadn’t realized that he’d moved on.” Sighing, she rubbed her stomach slowly. “I had thought that to be the end of it, as I had no intention of seeing him again, but a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Then, of course, you asked to come here, and somehow managed to entangle yourself with the very people I was trying to avoid within a week.”

He winced at the sarcastic exasperation in her voice. “I’m sorry.”

Her expression softened, a slight sheen glossing over her eyes. “You did nothing wrong. It was my fault, for trying to keep everything such a secret. You only made me admit the truth.”

Kriff. The last thing he needed was for her to get emotional on him. He searched his mind frantically for a change of subject. “So… I’m going to be a big brother?”

She laughed softly, wiping away the fledgling tears. “Yes, in about six or seven months.”

Six or seven months. He would already be a few months into his position as regent. Even though the position held no real power, except for whatever the ruling Duke or Duchess bestowed upon them, it was an important part of a ruler’s training, and a Mandalorian tradition. “Do you plan to tell him?”

“No.” The word was low but emphatic, her eyes turning flinty. “I know that I should, but I can’t. I made him a promise, that I wouldn’t try to influence him to leave as long as he was needed elsewhere. If he were to find out…”

She didn’t have to finish the sentence. He’d heard the sincerity in the Jedi’s voice, the dedication in his eyes as he’d spoken about his work. It had never occured to him, before, that the way of the Jedi could be a choice rather than a mandated rule. It wasn’t a job, but a way of life.

A way of life that could--would--be ruined if he ever found out that his actions had resulted in something so irreversable, so permanent.

For a moment, Korkie considered what his life might have been if his father had known about him. He may have grown up with both of his parents, but at what cost. Would he have admired his father if he’d never known him as Master Kenobi, The Negotiator? Would he have appreciated his mother, or would he have taken her love for granted because he’d never known what it was to be without it?

What was the use of even thinking about it? He would never know, and even if he did, what would it profit him now?

“So what will they be recognized as? I doubt Aunt Bo would allow you to pass off any child as hers, so another neice or nephew is out.” He sat back, rubbing his chin contemplatively. “Adoption would be too suspicious, and I’ll already be in place to ascend the throne.”

She looked down at her mug, her shoulders sagging. “I’ve already thought it through My only options are to either raise it in secret--something that will be difficult now that so many of my alliances have fallen through--or give it up.”

He shook his head. “Hiding won’t work, especially now that you’re in the focus of the media.” He didn’t want to even think about the other option, as horrible as it was. Hell, he would never want that to happen. He would do anything to stop that from happening, even if it meant… “That’s it.”

“What?”

“Well, a niece or nephew wouldn’t work, but how about a grand- niece or nephew?”

 

Chapter Text

“Obi-Wan!”

He exhaled slowly, his eyes meeting Quinlan’s briefly before he turned around. “Siri.”

“You weren’t going to leave without me, were you?” She asked teasingly, striding toward them. “It’s almost as if you don’t want me to go.”

He didn’t, but something kept him from saying that aloud. “I didn’t think that you’d want to go.”

She propped her fists on her hips, raising an eyebrow. “And what would make you think that?”

He needed to tell her, but how? It wasn’t as if he could forbid her from seeing Satine, and the last thing he wanted to do was give her any indicator that he still cared for her. Despite a several hour meditation session the night before on the subject, he was at a loss of what the will of the Force was.

Whatever it was, it would have to wait.

Sighing, Obi-Wan nodded to the speeder. “Never mind. Shall we go?”

He could sense Quinlan’s disapproval, but he ignored it. In typical Quinlan fashion, he had wanted Obi-Wan to call Siri out after hearing that she’d taken the situation before the council. Even though the idea had it’s merits, the last thing he needed was to have the news spread around the temple, as it would be sure to do. The Jedi was a tight knit community with thin walls and subsequently very healthy gossip line. No doubt the news that he and Siri were having a spat would be all across the temple by lunch if he wasn’t careful.

Siri hopped into the open topped speeder, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder. “So, catch me up. What have we learned?”

Quinlan grunted, obviously irritated. “She speaks Durese. She’s had four or five masters, and Solo’s had her for the past two years. Oh, and she adores the kid. Anything else?”

“Amadi was the property of someone who goes by the name stone,” Obi-Wan cut in, stopping the imminent retort before it was released. “She had only seen him once, when she and a few others were brought to an unknown location before being handed over to Solo. From what she has described, he’s approximately my height and of slender build.”

“No facial features?”

He shook his head, turning on the speeder. “Hooded, of course, though she believes he also had a mask on beneath that. The only distinguishing features she was able to give us was that he had a heavy accent and a withered hand.” Obi-Wan sighed. “Because of the utter lack of information we have on the subject, we’re going to instead try to find Solo first. The twi’lek--Tula--still hasn’t made a reappearance, according to Kit and Aayla, so we’re being forced to settle for finding a pattern in Solo’s movements, or at least as many as Amadi remembers.”

“Have you talked to the kid at all?” Siri asked, leaning over his shoulder casually. “I mean, he was the one who got most of the information. Perhaps he might know a little more?”

“Korkie?” He contemplated the thought for a moment before setting it aside. “Even if he does know something--which is doubtful--I very highly doubt that Satine would be open to him being questioned, or involved in this investigation at all.”

He felt her tense when he said the Duchess’s name, but she didn’t remark on it. “The only thing you can do is try. If it would help, I could talk to them.”

Obi-Wan hesitated, not entirely sure of her motives. “I’m not sure that would be the best course of action, given the current circumstances.”

“You’ll have to enlighten me on what those circumstances are,” she breathed, saccharine sweetness seeming to ooze from her voice. “As far as I am aware, there can be no reason for me not to talk to them, could there?”

She was baiting him, but he refused to step into it. “I simply got the impression that Korkie is not especially fond of us.”

“I can’t imagine why.” In the rearview mirror, he could see the anger in her eyes. “I mean, from everyone’s account, it seems that he likes Jedi well enough. If I didn’t know better, I would almost think he has something against me in particular.”

Blast, she wasn’t going to give up. “You have to admit you weren’t very cordial during your first meeting.”

She glared at him. “And neither were you, if my memory serves me correctly.” When he didn’t reply, she scoffed. “Anyway, the kid had it coming to him. I don’t know who he thinks he is, to talk to us like he did.”

“The future Duke of Mandalore, perhaps?” Quinlan interjected. “You can’t go around insulting people just because they don’t like you.”

“As if you’re so innocent.”

“Drop it, both of you.” The apartment building Satine was staying in came into view as they turned a corner, and the last thing he wanted was for either of them to take their anger into her apartment. Force knew that they already would have more than enough tension without them bringing anymore in with them. “Siri, I would appreciate it if you would try to be nice to Korkie. And Quinlan, it would be nice to actually get some work done today, besides drinking all of the Duchess’s caff.”

Siri wrinkled her nose. “Who made you the boss? We’re not your padawans, you know. Technically, we’re both older than you.”

Technically , I outrank both of you.” He was trying and failing miserably to not be irritated. “But I was only making a suggestion on how to make this process easier. You’re welcome to do the same, if you wish.”

Despite the fact that he could clearly sense that she did have something to say, she remained silent, which was fine with him. He knew he would eventually have to confront her, but he was willing to put off that day as long as possible. The council would continue to fuss, Quinlan would badger him, Siri would hint, and he would do his best to ignore them all.


 

Korkie collapsed onto the couch, exhausted. The sun was already beginning to rise on the city, but he wanted nothing less than to go to sleep. He’d stayed up far too late researching his mother’s condition and what it entailed--sex ed was not a class in most Mandalorian schools, as parents or guardians were expected to explain to their children the workings of their bodies, and Korkie had consequently grown up with a very slim, almost pitiful knowledge.

The holonet, however, was full of details and facts. Many of which he quickly regretted learning.

Why did women even choose to have children, with all the difficulties it caused?

His research also told him that faking a pregnancy while attempting to disguise another would not be as feasible as he had assumed. Though, with care, it was possible, if risky.

Not that his aunt--mother--had even agreed to the scheme. She’d protested sharply, insisting that the burden was hers to carry and she wouldn’t dream of putting it on his shoulders--ignoring his argument that she had come to him for help in the first place--and attempting to find a better solution.

A solution she would be hard pressed to find, especially with so little time to prepare. By his calculations, it would only be a matter of weeks before she would begin to show, and disguises would begin to take the forefront.

She would have to make a choice, and soon.

Until then, he’d planned to be prepared. Whether he took the role of father, brother, cousin, or even friend, he wanted to be aware of what to expect.

Now, he wasn’t sure if that was even a possibility.

It had been late when he’d set aside his datapad in favor of a few hours of sleep, but that had quickly been interrupted by a pang of distress from Amadi. He’d found her in the throes of a nightmare, and had spent the next hour coaxing her back to sleep. Somehow--he still wasn’t sure how exactly--he’d fallen asleep with her in his arms, and had woken an hour later to find himself in an embarrassingly compromising position that had warranted an agonizingly long, extremely cold shower.

He was quickly beginning to understand his fellows’ enamorment with the opposite sex. Even in his sleep--especially in his sleep--he was constantly assaulted with memories of her lips on his, the softness of her skin, the feeling of her in his arms…

Kriff .

Korkie stood abruptly, pacing the confines of the living area as he wrestled with the lust that seemed to take over his very being. Amadi was hardly the first woman he’d ever seen, or even desired, but never had he felt it as strong as this. The sensations both terrified and disgusted him, the words of Kenobi replaying in his mind in an endless loop.

You’re no better than them, though, are you?

He raked a hand through his hair, distressed to realize that he had been right. How could he call himself her rescuer when he wanted the same thing? It hurt to know that the first person he’d even considered seriously would forever be out of his reach.

If only he could convince himself not to care.

Korkie paused, wondering if this was how his mother felt. Caring so deeply for one person that she knew she could never have because she loved him?

At least she wasn’t being punished to a lifetime of celibacy.

He laughed bitterly. Becoming a Jedi seemed more and more realistic every day.

“Korki?” He turned to find his mother standing in the doorway, faint dark circles under her eyes and concern etched into her features. “What are you doing up at this time?”

“Couldn’t sleep.” Admitting it only increased the feeling of exhaustion weighing on him, and he let his head fall to her shoulder when she hugged him. “Besides, the Jedi will be here soon.”

She cursed softly. “Why they insist on arriving at such an ungodly hour is beside me.” Pulling away, her eyes searched his. “If it’s too much for you to have him here, I can make an excuse to go somewhere. We still haven’t visited the Space Museum and seen your starfighter.”

Even though the idea was tempting, he shook his head. “No, I couldn’t do that to her. I don’t doubt that they’ll treat her right, but…” He trailed off, unable to put his thoughts into words. “Anyway, I don’t mind being around them. It’s… enlightening, and gives me something to think about.”

Regret flashed through her eyes. “I’m sorry about all of this. You shouldn’t have to be forced to deal with all this…” the Duchess exhaled slowly. “Korkie, I can’t make your decisions for you. I can’t stop you from telling him, if you want…”

“No.” Even though a part of him longed for the family he’d never had, he knew that the chance to make things right was long past. “He chose his path. If he didn’t love you enough to stay without an additional sense of obligation, then I doubt that his finding out he has a son will spark anything other than guilt.”

Something--sadness?--lit in her eyes, and she whispered something in Mandalorian that he didn’t hear before turning away. “I’m going to make myself some tea. You should try to rest before the Jedi get here.”

“Too late.” Even in the short time he’d known Kenobi, he’d already memorized his presence. It was familiar, like a long lost memory that he couldn’t place.

It took him a few minutes, however, to recognize and place the two presences accompanying him. Quinlan Vos had been an easy guess, but the woman… He scowled. Master Tachi, with all of her smooth talk and baiting words. Why did she even come, if not to torment his mother?

Shavit . His mother. Though she’d tried to hide it, he sensed the pain when she’d spoken of his father and Siri’s relationship, and the not-so-subtle animosity that emanated from the blonde Jedi had been hard to ignore.”

“On the other hand, the space museum doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea.”

The duchess glanced back at him, brows furrowing. “Really?”

He shrugged, realizing too late that his sudden about face was likely to make her even more suspicious. “I’m just saying, you don’t have to stay on my account. If you’d rather not be here, for any reason, I’m sure Amadi and I could very well hold down the fort while you go.”

He could sense that the idea appealed to her, but she was also skeptical of his motives.

Well, why shouldn’t she be? He would have been skeptical of his motives as well.

Understanding lit in her eyes, and the blue orbs narrowed. “You want to get rid of me.”

“No, no, none of that.” Korkie did want to get rid of her, but only for her own good. “I’m just saying, I understand that things aren’t exactly all amicable between you and my father, and I’d hate to make you feel like you have to be here for this if you’d rather be elsewhere.” To his despair, she did not look convinced, instead folding her arms over her chest. “I mean, your vacation is almost over as it is, and I’m the one who made us extend it. If you need to go to your office and take care of some paperwork, you can, and…”

“Korkie.” Her lips had thinned into a straight line, and he flinched at the harshness in her voice. “What is it? You know something, and you’re not telling me.”

He hesitated, trying to find the better of two solutions. Tell her and risk her choosing to stay simply to prove that she was strong enough to handle Siri Tachi--she was--or not telling her and feigning some inane excuse that she would likely see right through and chastise him for lying when she found out the truth.

Neither was a pleasant option.

Thankfully--or not, depending on how one looked at it--he didn’t have to choose, for the unspoken third option was chosen before he could either say the woman’s name or think of an invisible excuse.

The Jedi herself strode into the living quarters as if she owned the place, dragging behind her her two very reluctant male counterparts who were offering each other furious glares and--he was almost sure--telepathic communication.

He wondered for a moment if he would be able to figure out what they were saying--he was kind of a Jedi, as it was--but a brief attempt found him faced with a thrumming barrier that he supposed was the product of actual Jedi.

“Duchess.” Siri dropped a quick bow before his mother, though the respect in it--if there even was any--was very small. Her eyes flicked to him, giving him a brief once over. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to do something a little different with our investigation today.”

The Duchess stiffened, and he could sense her barriers quickly rising defensively, both toward the intruder and said intruder’s brisk manner. “Master Tachi. I was unaware you had any authority on this case.”

Though he could sense Siri’s irritation at the barb, she did an admirable job of hiding it. “I suppose that shows how little you know of Jedi investigations, Duchess,” she replied evenly. “But, as it is, I’m not here to speak with you, but his Lordship .”

It took Korkie a few minutes to realize she was talking about him, so rarely was the title used. Technically, since Mandalore’s highest ruler was the Duke or Duchess, he was crown prince--or ‘his highness’--a title he was called by when attending formal events or his friends used when they were looking for a fight. Everyone else generally referred to him as Korkie or Cadet Kryze, depending on how well they knew him.

It only took him a few moments to decide that Siri definitely didn’t know enough about him to call him by his name.

“And how could I be of assistance to you?” he crossed his arms over his chest, hoping it made him look taller than his one-point-seven meters. His height, or lack thereof, was likely to forever be a source of constant ire for him. Few people could respect someone who was shorter than themselves.

“How did you meet this Solo?”

With great effort, Korkie tried his best to appear relaxed and ignore the niggling feeling in the back of his mind. “He approached me at the bar, after I spoke to Kenobi that night.”

“Was that the first time you’d seen him?”

“No, I’d noticed him two other evenings.” He frowned. “What is this? Am I under investigation, now.”

“Yes,” Siri replied decisively.

“No,” Kenobi said at the same time, shooting her a silencing look. “No, you’re not suspected of any wrongdoing. We simply wanted to see if you might have unconsciously gathered pertinent information during your interaction with Solo. We’ve been, as of yet, unsuccessful in collecting useful information from the girl. You have provided the majority of the evidence that we have, and we only want to make sure that we’re not missing anything.” He paused, hesitating as he glanced at Satine. “That is, if it’s agreeable to Her Grace.”

Her Grace did not seem to find it agreeable in the least, but she allowed him to speak.

“My aunt would be the last person to stand in the way of a Jedi investigation, and I’m sure she’ll be  understanding if I’m needed to provide evidence.” Though he doubted that she would like the fact that they were questioning him, she would want the process to go as quickly as possible. As it was, he was old enough to rule Mandalore, which meant that he should at least be able to answer for himself. “Please, have a seat. May I offer you something to drink, Master Jedi? I was just about to have my morning tea, but we have caff as well.”

“We’re not here for a social ca--” Siri began, but Obi-Wan cut her off.

“Tea, thank you.” He offered Korkie the barest of smiles, the fine lines around the corners of his eyes crinkling up and a hint of a dimple visible through his beard.

So that was where he got the dimple from.

Quinlan took a seat at one end of the sofa. “I’ll have a caff, as dark as you can get it. Siri?”

“Nothing, thank you.” The woman sat stiffly as Korkie relayed the orders to the waiting protocol droid. He could sense some of the air go out of her, as if her confidence depended on intimidation.

Actually, it probably did.

Taking a seat in one of the two armchairs, he crossed one leg over the other, assuming a casual position. “So, Master Jedi, what exactly do you want from me?”

Quinlan leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “You say you noticed the smuggler before he approached you. What about him stuck out to you, that you remembered him?”

Korkie thought about the question a moment before answering. He was suddenly aware that simply saying that he had sensed that Solo was watching him would likely seem a bit too suspicious, though it was the truth. “I like to be aware of my surroundings. The first night, I was paranoid that someone would recognize me, and quickly noticed that he was watching me. I simply thought he was a smuggler looking to gain a sponsor in the industry. I didn’t know he was connected to Amadi until he approached me.”

“And what was your impression of him?” Kenobi accepted his cup and took an appreciative sip. “Whatever you remember about him, no matter how small.”

“Arrogant. No doubt intelligent, but it was diminished by the fact that he was overconfident.” He ran a hand through his hair. “There was a slimy quality about him. Relatively new to the business, from the way he was dressed. I suspect that he’d come into some sort of windfall or bonus relatively recently, and saw me as easy pickings to gather just a bit more loot before he had to make his big getaway.”

“You think he knew we were looking for him?”

“No. He’s a nomad, never staying in one place long enough for anyone to get too suspicious,” Korkie amended. “He realized I had money, and that I was interested in Amadi, and likely would have left earlier if he hadn’t thought that he’d be able to get something a tidy sum out of me. When he saw me speaking to Master Kenobi, I think he began to get suspicious, but greediness won out in the end. I think he began to panic when he saw you come back again.”

Quinlan nodded. “He went back to cover his tracks.”

“Or he thought I was one of you.” He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Which I think he quickly realized was not the case. He wasn’t expecting me to offer him money for her, and especially not in such quantity. He tried to get me to pay eighteen, but I managed to talk him down. After I paid him and he realized that there was likely more where it had come from, he proved to be much more cordial.”

“I’m sure.” Siri looked up from the datapad she was collecting the information on. “And I assume that’s when he gave you his name and address.”

Blast. This was where things got tricky. “He told me he was going back to Corellia for a bit and where I could find his contact if I needed anything else. After that, we exchanged names and went our separate ways.”

Kenobi frowned. “You gave him your name?”

“Middle name,” he amended. There was a minute flash of panic from his mother, but why, he wasn’t entirely sure.

“You’re middle…?” Siri paused, stylus poised in the air.

“Ben.”

 

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan was actually surprised that Siri kept her cool as long as she did. Of course, both he and Quinlan could sense the very tangible anger radiating off of her, but she did an admirable job of managing a blank facade.

At least, until they made it back to his quarters in the temple.

“Ben?” She seethed, eyes shooting daggers. “His middle name is Ben ?”

Kriff . He raised his hands defensively. “Believe me, I’m just as surprised as you are.”

Siri scoffed, tugging on her ponytail in a familiar gesture he knew to be one of frustration. “Don’t tell me it’s just coincidence.”

“Then I won’t.” He couldn’t , after all, when he didn’t know the answer himself. “Why do you assume it has anything to do with me, as it is? Ben isn’t even my name.”

She offered him nothing more than a sardonic glare. “You said she called you that.”

“Did I?” Appearing innocent felt like it was his only option now.

“Yes, you did.”

“Oh.” Mind racing, he tried a different tack. “She called me that because it was the name of one of her friend’s brother.” It didn’t matter that that brother was him , only that she’d called him it before she knew that.

Siri snorted and stomped into the kitchen. “Right. And she just happened to name her brat the same name.”

He glanced around for Quinlan, but the bloody bastard must have sneaked off. “You can’t hold me responsible for whatever she decided to do. She’s had him since he was an infant, and likely had to choose a name for him. What am I to say if she chooses my nickname for his middle name ?”

Despite that his words made perfect logical sense, she turned her back to him with a sniff.

He didn’t blame her, but blast it all to hell. What was he to do? He was just as at a loss by the revelation as she was. “What if she’d named him Jinn? Would you think she and Qui-Gon was involved?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Obi-Wan. That’s completely different.” She yanked open a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of brandy. “Unless you’re trying to completely deny that you guys were involved now.”

Well, he’d walked right into that one. “So what if we were?” Appearing defensive would likely not be the wisest choice when dealing with Siri, but he was quickly becoming just annoyed as she. “That has nothing to do with this--whatever this is. She was given her dead brother’s child, and decided to give him the same middle name as my nickname, her friend’s brother’s name, and the name of millions of other people across the galaxy, if she was even the one to name him.”

She didn’t say anything for a moment, pouring herself a glass of brandy and tossing it back as if it was a shot. Setting the empty tumbler on the counter, she pulled off her ponytail holder and shook out her hair before plaiting it into a single braid. “You know what, I don’t even care anymore.” Sighing, she came over to where he was standing and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I don’t want to fight, not with you, not tonight.”

Obi-Wan stiffened, automatically moving to pull away. “Siri…”

She sighed, and he could feel the genuine exhaustion and sadness radiating from her. “Please, Obi-Wan. We’re both tired. I just want you to hold me.” When he didn’t relax, she looked up at him beseechingly, blue eyes soft and careworn. For a moment, he was transported back to a time before teenage hormones and immature infatuations had tainted their relationship.

He was torn. She was his friend , even if she wished that they were something more. It wasn’t her fault that he hadn’t loved her like she’d wanted, or even that he’d fallen for someone else.

Yet, he didn’t feel right about holding her, especially when he was still upset with her.

Thankfully, backup chose that exact moment to effectively rescue him from making a far too difficult decision that he wasn’t yet ready to face.

The door to his quarters slid open and Quinlan, Aayla, and Kit stampeded in, carrying bags and boxes of what looked to be takeout from the cafeteria.

Silently thanking the Force for the opportune interruption, he pulled away from Siri and took one of the boxes from Aayla, brushing past Quinlan with a whispered, “bloody finally.”

The kiffar offered him a glare of silent disapproval, but Obi-Wan could sense his thoughts as clearly as if they’d been yelled in his face.

You owe me.

He sighed, avoiding Siri’s hurt gaze as he helped to lay out the spread across the coffee table. Aayla and Kit wanted to be caught up on all the particulars of the case, which gave him something to think about other than his utter lack of courage in confronting Siri.

And the fact that Satine had named her nephew after him.

“So what’s our method of action from here?” Aayla popped a piece of fruit into her mouth, leaning back on the couch.

“Korkie has agreed to help with the investigation, provided that we ensure Amadi is cleared to leave Republic airspace within the week, no matter the outcome.” An ultimatum Obi-Wan had been unwilling to agree to. “We’ve negotiated it down to a trial run tonight, to make sure we’re getting worth our while.”

Kit’s eyebrows raised. “And your girlfriend didn’t object?”

Great, just what he needed. More people teasing him about Satine. “Even if her Grace was to make an objection, she has consideration for the boy and lets him make his own decisions in most matters. He is of age, as it is, and will begin taking on duties at the end of the year.”

“And what does this trial run consist of?”

“He’ll go back to the bar tonight and try to meet the Twi’lek who Solo works with under the guise of buying another slave,” Quinlan explained, swallowing an entire meat roll. “Obi-Wan and Aayla will be monitoring everything via the surveillance system, Siri will provide physical backup if necessary, and I’ll be running perimeter just in case our friend decides to run.”

Aayla seemed dubious. “You’re virtually sending him in alone? Where in your mind is this a good idea?’

Obi-Wan frowned, immediately put on the defensive. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“He’s a spoiled rich kid not even out of school, and you’re sending him to take down a crime ring we’ve been tracking for weeks ?”

“You forget, Aayla, we have that spoiled rich kid to thank for all of the information we have had so far,” he retorted. “And who are we to talk? We’re sending children younger than him onto the front lines every day.”

Her eyes narrowed. “A decision I had no part in. It was your council that sent them.”

“You speak as if we had a choice, when the Senate gave us none.”

“Of course, blame the Senate. That’s what you do best when you’re not kriffing them.”

Obi-Wan stiffened. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Easy, guys…” Kit looked between the two of them nervously, trying to insert some measure of calm into the situation. “None of this has anything to do with the case…”

Aayla scoffed. “Oh, but doesn’t it? Are we just going to ignore that he won’t take responsibility so he can keep kriffing around with his little Schutta of a Duchess?”

Padawan .” Quinlan’s tone was sharp even as he placed a firm hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “That’s enough.”

“But it’s true, isn’t it?” Aayla shot him a venomous look as she ignored her former master. “He even tried to get Siri kicked off the team because she and the duchess don’t ‘get along’, apparently.”

Both Quinlan and Obi-Wan turned to glare at Kit, who shrugged guiltily.

Bloody hell.

Feeling Siri’s eyes boring into his back--no wonder she had been so suspicious this morning--he grappled for the words to say.

“I never tried to remove Siri from the team. As Kit can obviously testify--considering that he seems to have no qualms about speaking on confidential matters--Siri does not speak Durese, which is the only language Amadi appears to be fluent in. Thus, her presence was not needed.”

Aayla crossed her arms over her chest and raised an eyebrow, still unconvinced. “And that’s why you magically changed your mind this morning.”

“The council thought it best. I was unaware that they had sent Siri because of her previous acquaintance with the Duchess.” He raised his eyebrows. “Happy now?”

She wasn’t, but she dropped the subject. “I still think you’re making a mistake, sending the kid in there. This is a Jedi problem, and Jedi should be the one to save it.”

Quinlan shook his head. “It isn’t a Jedi problem. It’s a Republic problem that the Senate has made into a Jedi problem.”

“Even worse. It’s a Republic problem, one that the Senate has entrusted us to handle, and we’re sending in a Separatist to do so.”

“Mandalore is Neutral, and pacifistic at that,” Obi-Wan pointed out.

Siri snorted. “What’s the difference? If they’re not for us, they’re against us, right?”

Kit frowned and shook his head. “I’m pretty sure…”

“Shut up and eat your seaweed.”

Quinlan stood, taking his empty plate to the kitchen. “I, for one, have every confidence that the kid’s going to be okay. He’s got a solid head on his shoulders, and hasn’t managed to get himself robbed or beaten up, which is something more than many of us can say at that age.” He swilled the remains of his cup of caff and tossed it in the garbage. “Anyway, there’s something about him. Mark my words, the kid’s going to change the galaxy someday.”


 

Korkie gazed at the starfighter in awe, completely unaware of anything except the craft in front of him.

“A beauty, isn’t it?”

He turned to find Skywalker standing beside him, smiling fondly at the light craft. “It is.”

“It was my Master’s, you know. Obi-Wan’s, that is, until a few months ago.” The exceptionally taller Jedi crossed his arms over his chest, nodding to a Senator who passed by. “Delta-7 light interceptor.”

“Aethersprite class, right?”

Skywalker grinned, eyebrows raising in surprise. “You know your ships.”

Korkie shrugged. “I wanted to be a pilot when I was younger.”

“When you were younger? What changed?”

“I’m the future Duke of Mandalore.”

“So?” Skywalker looked a bit confused. “What’s that got to do with anything? Dukes fly too, don’t they?”

He shook his head and turned away from the exhibit, remembering his aunt’s--mother’s--words from his childhood. “We don’t have time to be pilots.”

“Then don’t be one. A duke, I mean.”

Korkie turned to see if the Jedi was joking, but his face told him he was dead serious. “I can’t do that. I have to be a Duke.”

“But at what price?” Skywalker walked alongside him comfortably, directing him to the next display, a LAAT/i surrounded by clones. “You’d give up your dreams, everything you care for, to do something simply because you’re expected to?”

He gave him a quizzical look, not understanding. “Of course. It was wait I was raised for. It’s my duty.”

Skywalker scoffed. “Now you sound like my master. Always duty, obligation, what others want. Don’t you ever just do what you want?”

Knowing that Skywalker thought he was like his father buoyed him a bit. “Not at the injury of others. There are over a hundred million people whose livelihoods rely on me taking over Mandalore after my aunt retires. I can’t give that up.”

“What about the girl?”

He glanced back to where Amadi was standing  with his mother and the Senator Amidala. “What about her?”

“You’re going to be a duke. They’ll want you to marry some rich girl from a good family.”

Korkie raised an eyebrow. “I’m Mandalorian. We might have a bloody past, but we’re romantics at heart. Even with the assumption that I would pursue a relationship with Amadi, I have little doubt the people would support us, even if it’s just to rub it in the face of other systems.”

Anakin looked surprised. “You don’t have a thing for the girl?”

“I like her, if that’s what you’re asking.” Korkie paused to read the plaque on a display, unsure how to continue. Like seemed to tame a word for what he felt, but he wasn’t even sure in his mind of what it was, and putting it into words was impossible. “But it doesn’t matter. Anything between us is out of the question.”

“Why?” The Jedi stopped, brows drawing together. “You like her, and she seems to adore you. What’s to stop you?”

He swallowed. “She was a slave. I couldn’t… How could I call myself her saviour if I do the exact thing that I tried to take her away from?”

Skywalker laughed. “Kid, that’s some screwed up moral system you got there. It’s different.”

“How?” Korkie demanded. “How could I ever ask anything of her, knowing that she’ll feel obligated to me because I rescued her from a life she didn’t deserve?”

“Now you really sound like Obi-Wan.” Running a hand through sandy blonde hair, Skywalker winked at the Senator Amidala as they passed on the other side of the hall. “Let me tell you something you probably don’t know. I was a slave, for most of my life.”

Korkie raised his eyebrows. “Actually, I did know that. The Senator--Queen, then, I suppose--rescued you. You supposedly took down the Trade Federation single handedly when they occupied Naboo, right?”

Some of the steam seemed to go out of Skywalker, and he frowned. “Who told you?”

“I saw it on the holonet, a couple days before my sixth birthday.” A couple days before his life had been shattered. “What about it?”

Skywalker continued, though he still seemed a bit disgruntled that the wind had been taken out of his sails. “I was just saying, you can’t worry about that stuff. I might have been a slave, but I sure as hell didn’t let anyone make me do what I didn’t want to when I was free.”

Korkie didn’t doubt the truth of that claim, and felt a bit bad for his father.

“Here, kid, let me tell you a little secret that might change the way you see this situation.” Skywalker glanced at the Senator Amidala and grinned roguishly, earning a small blush and disapproving glare from the woman. “You see that angel over there? She was my saviour, and I fell in love with her. We’ve been together for two years now.”

Korkie couldn’t have been any more surprised if someone told him that there was a war going on. “I see.”

“It worked out for us, but only because we saw what we wanted, took it, and didn’t give a kriff what anyone else thought.”

“But isn’t that against the Jedi Code?”

Anakin shrugged. “The Jedi believe that love is a bad thing. I believe that it makes us stronger.”

Korkie noted that the man seemed to think of himself and the Jedi as two separate entities. “I thought that it was attachments that the Jedi forbid.”

“Same thing, to them.” Skywalker scowled a bit, the topic obviously a sour one. “They think that caring about something greater than themselves is the sure path to the darkside.”

“Then why would they be fighting in this war? If they truly cared only for themselves, don’t you think they would have chosen some other way to go about this?”

Skywalker hesitated, and Korkie could sense that the man was debating whether or not to trust him. “The Jedi…” He stopped, thought, then started again. “I--and certain others--believe the Jedi are beginning to lose their way. I’m not saying they’re doing it because they’re evil--they have good intentions, I’m sure--but the war has changed them. Originally, the goal was to restore peace, but now, even though the Separatist have come forward with peace treaties, they continue to fight. Not for peace, or harmony, or any of the other things they profess to teach, but instead for power. There is no compromise with them, nothing satisfies but for everyone to believe as they do.”

Something about the words sent chills down Korkie’s spine. “You believe the Jedi are wrong?”

“I believe that they have noble intentions, but they are blinded by their greed, to the point that they can’t see the solution right before them.”

“And you do?” He didn’t mean for the words to sound like a challenge, but they did.

Skywalker shrugged. “I’m not the only one who has my doubts. There are others, especially in the Senate, who are dissatisfied with the progress we have made. The Chancellor himself has said that they are dragging this on far too long.”

“If you were in a position of influence,” Korkie said slowly, choosing his words with care, “What would you suggest they do?”

“End this war. The council is content to remain on the defensive and simply fight to keep what ground we have, instead of just going in and taking out the leaders.” His jaw clenched, giving Korkie the feeling that this wasn’t the first time he’d given this speach. “It’s just like the Occupation of Naboo. When they sent the starfighters up to take out the main control ship, everyone’s concern was wearing down its defenses. Do you know how we won? By blowing the thing up from the inside. By not being scared to take the heat, and hitting at the heart of the problem.”

No doubt a good strategy, but one that even Korkie could see the holes in. The risk could easily outweigh the results, the prospect of winning only a drop in the bucket of loss. He might be willing to give up everything for it, but would others be as willing?

Not to mention… “You speak of dealing with the heart of the issue as if it’s easily available. If the answer was such a logical one, wouldn’t the Jedi have considered it before?”

“The Jedi--mainly the council--are blinded by obstacles of their own creation. Laws, rules of engagement, the code--all must be followed, even though the enemy doesn’t. There are ways to find out things, though perhaps not directly in line with the law, but they refuse to take advantage of them. If they would only… well, what’s the use?” Skywalker laughed, a bit bitterly. “What do I know, anyway? I’m just a slave kid from Tatooine.”

It was at this point that the others joined them, effectively closing the conversation, but Korkie couldn’t help but continue to think about it.

Though Skywalker likely had good intentions, his view of the Jedi and the war was a bit disconcerting. Their discussion had likely only scratched the surface of a much deeper hurt and anger, but what little it had stirred had given Korkie a vaguely familiar feeling that he couldn’t place but didn’t like at all.

It wasn’t until later, when they’d left the museum, that he remembered where he’d felt that cold, dark ache before.

Once, as a little boy, only five years old, looking into the eyes of the red and black zabrak that his father had killed.

 

Chapter Text

“You need to get your shab together, Obi-Wan.”

What Obi-Wan needed was a drink. “What do you suggest?”

Quinlan snorted. “Stop ignoring your problems and just deal with them.”

“I’m too far in, now. I don’t even know where to start.” His entire life felt like a wasteland of problems he’d blocked out for too long. “I don’t even know what way is up anymore.”

Sighing, his friend decided to take a bit of pity on him. “First things first. What are you going to do with Siri?”

“I don’t know.” Despite his best efforts, the misery he felt crept into his voice. “We’ve been friends since we were younglings. It isn’t her fault that I don’t care for her…”

“She doesn’t love you,” Quinlan said shortly. “She loves the idea of loving you, but that’s where it ends. She doesn’t want you, but doesn’t want anyone else to have you even more.”

It was probably true, but what did that help? “I don’t need a definition, I need a solution. The council refuses to take her off the case unless I can provide reasonable evidence that she makes Satine uncomfortable--something Satine would never admit to, bloody martyr that she is. I could resign from the case, but then no one would be there to act as a buffer between the two of them. Satine is attached to her nephew, and Korkie to the girl, so bringing her here and avoiding the whole business is well nigh impossible unless we’re able to separate one of them from the other. Or, we could just go on as we are now, living in a perfect hell.”

“Or you could tell Siri in no uncertain terms that there is nothing between the two of you and she needs to stop,” Quinlan suggested. “Deal with the root of the problem instead of just lopping off the branches whenever they hit you.”

Obi-Wan snorted. “If you must liken Siri to a plant, then let it be one of those that no matter how you chop at it, it never dies. She’s stubborn, and doesn’t change until one gives her space. Even if I was to confront her--perish the thought---she’s not one to be daunted by such measures. Not to mention she has an entire army behind her. Do you know how many toes I’d be stepping on if I tried to talk to her?”

Quinlan raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never known you to be one who cared about appearances.”

“I don’t, it’s just that…” He stood, pacing the confining space of the living quarters. “Satine never asked for this. All she wanted was a night, and now she’s being pulled into a drama that she didn’t want. And what’s worse--I did nothing to start this, and thus can’t do anything to end it. How can I regain control of a situation I never had control of in the first place?”

His friend shrugged, popping a bite of leftover nuna in his mouth. “Well, if you’re not going to confront Siri, then I suppose you’d better get your ass over to your Duchess and beg her forgiveness. You’re not going to help the situation by pretending it’s not happening. If I’ve learned anything about women, it’s that they can take most things that are thrown at them as long as they know it’s coming.”

Obi-Wan frowned. “Do you even remember what happened last time I went to ‘apologize’ to her?”

“So she gets a bit amorous when you do something nice. If you don’t want to get a good lay--which you desperately need, by the looks of it--then don’t hop in bed with her.”

“What would you have me do?” It made him feel very much like a padawan again, to be asking Quinlan Vos for advice. On sex, nonetheless. “I told her no.”

“And yet you staid.”

He huffed. “I may be many things, but unaffected when an amative woman approaches me in nothing but a silk robe is not one of them.” Particularly if that woman was Satine. “And I was feeling particularly guilty that evening.”

“So you shouldn’t have any problem now. And I highly doubt she’s going to be walking around in lingerie with her nephew underfoot.” Quinlan shrugged. “That’s all I got. If you still manage to fall in bed with her, don’t come crying to me.”

Obi-Wan rose, refilling his cup. “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”

“Good. And now that that is all cleared up…” the Kiffar crossed his arms over his chest. “What the hell is this nonsense with the kid?”

“Korkie?”

Ben .”

He’d tried to forget about it. “How am I supposed to know? I wasn’t the one who named him.”

“Don’t you wonder…”

“No, I don’t.” He did . “Satine would never have done that. For my sake, perhaps, but not for his. She’s too selfless to do that.”

“But doesn’t it all seem a bit too…”

“Coincidental?” he finished. “There are no coincidences, Quin, only the will of the Force.”

Quinlan swore soundly. “He looks…”

“Red hair is fairly common on Mandalore, and especially in her family. Satine’s sister has it, her mother had it, even her cousins had it.” He scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling far too old for a man of his years. “You can’t go around assuming that every child she brings under her wing is mine. Don’t you think there would have been some breath of a rumor if he was my son? Even if not from her loyalists, her enemies would surely have said something.”

“But…”

“Drop it, Quinlan. You’ll only hurt the boy and Satine by continuing this nonsense.” Not to mention perpetuating the odd pain that seemed to have appeared in the vicinity of his heart. “I’ve already got enough worries, as it is. No need to add a baseless suspicion to it as well.”

His friend scowled. “The Council will have questions.”

“The Council won’t know.” He chose to ignore the fact that the Council technically did know, as he was one of them. “They will know that the Duchess has a nephew called Korkie, and even if they hear the name Ben, few in the temple would pin the name to me. You and Siri knew only because I told you, in a lapse of judgement due to an excess of alcohol. For Force sakes, it isn’t even my name.”

“What isn’t your name?” The door opened and Anakin stepped into the room, tossing his robe onto the couch.

Out of habit, Obi-Wan picked up the excessively large piece of fabric and hooked it properly onto the coat rack. “It’s nothing, Anakin. Why are you coming back so late? I thought it was just supposed to be lunch.”

“We popped on over to the space museum with the Duchess and her nephew.” His former apprentice sank down onto the sofa, calling a bottle of water to him with the Force. “That kid needs a lesson in fun. No offense, but the Duchess has sucked all the happiness out of the boy with her expectations. Padmé was right when she said he reminded her of you, though. You know he wanted to be a pilot?”

Obi-Wan ignored the pointed look that Quinlan gave him as he left, shaking his head. “I hadn’t, but I’m not entirely surprised. Most people do, before life knocks them over the head with a dose of reality.”

Anakin snorted. “I told the kid he sounded like you. Whatever is wrong with becoming a pilot?”

“Becoming a pilot isn’t a profession, Anakin, unless you’re a smuggler. You can’t just cart across the galaxy for the fun of it, especially not for free.”

“He’s filthy rich. He wouldn’t even need to work.”

“He’s crown prince of Mandalore, of course he has money. But only as long as he remains crown prince.” He knew that Anakin’s defense was deeply rooted in his own previous desire to be a pilot, among a half dozen other impractical careers. “You can’t be upset that the boy understands how the world works, Anakin. One isn’t always able to chase their dreams.”

“I did, and you see where it got me.” There was a hint of smugness in the young man’s tone that rankled. “I’m not a slave, I won a podrace, and I’m a Jedi Knight and a pilot.”

Obi-Wan was almost surprised he didn’t add his affair with the Senator Amidala to his list of accomplishments. “You speak as if you’re satisfied with what you have.”

Anakin laughed. “Satisfied? Come on Master, I’m just beginning. I’ve still got a lot of things to do yet.”

Even though he didn’t say it, that was what he worried about the most.


 

“You and Master Skywalker seemed to have gotten along pretty well.”

Korkie looked up from his dinner. “He was… interesting.”

“Radical, from what I’ve heard.” She raised an eyebrow. “Did you not like him?”

“I didn’t dislike him,” Korkie said, choosing his words carefully. “But… our views are widely different. He didn’t seem like a Jedi.”

“In what way?”

“He’s very… passionate.” It wasn’t the word he was looking for, but it would have to do. “And transparent. From what I’ve seen, the Jedi try to keep what little emotion they have to themselves. Even Master Vos always seems calm and collected, if somewhat loud. Master Skywalker… it’s almost as if he’s unbalanced.”

His mother froze, something changing in her eyes. “Unbalanced?”

He hesitated, not wanting to make too much of a simple feeling. “Maybe that’s not the right word. Frustrated. He doesn’t like the way the war is turning out.”

“No one does.” Her eyes searched his face, still seeming somewhat unconvinced. “Did you sense something, Korkie?”

Were his thoughts so apparent? For a moment, he considered telling her about the fleeting chill he had felt from the Jedi, but decided against it. If there was any resemblance between Skywalker and the Zabrak on Naboo, the Jedi would have surely sensed it. As it was, he’d only seen the Zabrak through a holo image; to sense anything would have been physically impossible.

Nothing is impossible with the Force .

He pushed the thought aside as he sensed a presence he’d rapidly become accustomed to approaching. Thank the Force for small favors. “Da--Master Kenobi’s here.”

His mother paused in pushing her food around and looked out the doorway. “So early?”

If she’d heard his slip up, she didn’t comment on it, something that he was grateful for. “We have a long night ahead of us. Best to get a head start.” He tossed his napkin onto the table as he rose. Shrugging into his jacket, he dropped a quick kiss on her cheek. “I’ll see you when I get back. Don’t wait up for me.”

“But… you haven’t even finished your dinner.” He could tell that the Duchess was stalling--she hadn’t liked the idea of him going with the Jedi from the beginning, and he could tell that she hadn’t warmed to the idea over the past twelve hours. “I’m sure the investigation can wait for you to finish your…”

Dutifully, he stopped long enough to scoop up the last of his vegetables and drain his glass of tea before sprinting out the door. “‘Bye, Aunt Satine.”

Kenobi was waiting in the speeder, talking with a slightly familiar looking Twi’Lek on his wrist comm. He didn’t even bother to look up when Korkie climbed in, ending the conversation as he sped off into the sky.

“Anakin told me you like ships,” Kenobi said eventually, breaking the tense silence.

“I do.” What was he supposed to say? Korkie realized belatedly that he had no idea how one was supposed to speak to a man who he hadn’t known was his father until a few days ago and who didn’t even know he was his father. “I used to collect models, when I was younger. My father--” he paused, swallowing when he realized that the man beside him was his father. “My father was a pilot.”

Was it just his imagination, or did Kenobi tense? “Do you fly often?”

“Never, actually,” he replied ruefully. “I fly the sims at the Academy, but I’ve only taken a ship out twice in my life. Most cadets get practice flying their family’s crafts or such, but as I’ve only my aunt, and she stays primarily in Sundari, I’ve never gotten the opportunity to take more than a couple experimental hops when my friends let me.”

“They don’t let you fly a real ship at the Academy?”

“Not without a license.” Something that Korkie coveted dearly. “And you only get that after you’ve logged four hundred hours on the sims, a semester of mechanics and a semester of computer apps.”

Kenobi’s eyebrows shot up. “All that on top of your academics?” When Korkie nodded, he made a sound of disbelief. “And the padawans complain that they have it bad.”

“What is a padawan, exactly?” Korkie asked, curious. He’d heard the word used as a title, like Master, but never as a noun.

“It’s a stage all Jedi go through before becoming Knights. An apprenticeship, of sorts.” He must have sensed Korkie’s interest in the subject, for he continued. “When an initiate--that is, a Jedi youngling--is about nine or ten, a Master may express a wish to train them. The padawan will then spend the next fifteen or so years with their master, learning everything first hand. Then, they take a test of sorts--the trials--and those that pass go on to become Jedi Knights.”

“What about the younglings that don’t get chosen?” If masters got to choose their own padawans, there was surely to be some who was left on the sidelines.

“Initiates age out when they turn thirteen, and those that aren’t chosen to become padawans are sent to one of the four Service Corps--Agricultural, Medical, Explorational, or Educational--depending on their affinities and abilities.” He smiled. “I was chosen to join Agricorps, where we grew crops for those whose systems were unable to.”

“You…” Korkie shook his head, not understanding. “How?”

“I had a volatile temper as an Initiate. Still do, if I’m honest. I was hardly the idea of an ideal Jedi, and no master wanted to take a chance on me.” His father ran a hand through his hair, just a shade darker than Korkie’s. “It wasn’t until after I assisted Master Jinn on a mission that he took me as his padawan, a position I took for granted. But that’s a story for another time.”

Korkie hadn’t realized until then that they were nearing the sector of Coruscant where the bar Amadi had been in was located. In the pit of his stomach, a thread of excitement unfurled. The Jedi had explained what they were looking to gain out of this ‘experiment’, and what he was supposed to do. Though his mother had been very much against it--especially when the Jedi had admitted that there was a threat of injury or even death--there hadn’t been a doubt in his mind that this was what he wanted to do.

And it definitely wasn’t because this was the closest he would ever get to being a Jedi, unless some sort of miracle occured.

“You sure you’re ready for this?”

He flashed what he hoped was a confident smile, for despite the excitement, there was also a hint of trepidation stubbornly remaining in his gut. “Of course I am.”

Kenobi’s chuckle was one that made it clear he wasn’t fooled. “Siri will be there if you need her. She may be a bit prickly, but she never fails to come through in a pinch.”

He snorted. A bit prickly? Did the Jedi even see the same person he did?

His father raised an eyebrow. “You may laugh now, but I’ve known her most of my life. Siri was the same way towards me during our early years as padawans, but she came around eventually.” He shook his head. “She doesn’t like change, and meeting new people almost always guarantee that.”

Was that all it was? “I don’t think she likes me.”

“Well, the feeling seems to be mutual.” Slowly lowering the nondescript and slightly beat up speeder into an empty spot, the Jedi made a soft humming noise. “If it changes anything, she’s under the impression that you don’t like her either.”

He didn’t, but he could hardly say that. Instead, he hopped out of the speeder and stretched. The bar was still a couple blocks away, but they could hardly arrive at the same time without appearing suspicious. Even though Kenobi would be in the security room, beside the bar, they didn’t want to take any chances.

Adjusting his jacket--the same one he’d worn before--he nodded to the other Jedi as they approached. It was a bit odd, to see them in anything other than their typical Jedi robes, especially his father, but they’d wanted to appear as inconspicuous as possible. That meant very visible blasters and holsters, and tight fitting leather and neoprene. Siri had even added some dark makeup that further enhanced to the sexy-spacer vibe created by the skintight leather jumpsuit she’d donned.

She raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest. “Nice pants, Oafy.”

Kenobi wrinkled his nose, looking down at the leather leggings in distaste. “Talk to Quin. He’s the one who found these abominations.”

The twi’lek--Aayla?--smirked, looping an arm through his. “I thought we’re not supposed to be drawing attention to us? You’re going to have everyone in the bar after you.”

“Hopefully, I won’t have to go in there. We should be inconspicuous enough in the surveillance room.” He ran a hand through his hair, ruffling it up further. “Siri and Korkie are going to be the ones dealing with advances.”

Siri smirked, sashaying over to Korkie and slinging an arm over his shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him.”

Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. “If you think that inspires confidence, you’re sadly mistaken.”

She laughed, a pleasant, warm sound that surprised Korkie. Somehow, he hadn’t thought she would know how to do anything but sneer. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you the one who was always put on creche duty because you didn’t want to work with the team?”

“And you weren’t?”

“I volunteered. Basically. I couldn’t let you have all the fun, could I?”

“Looking after crechelings is hardly what I would think of as fun.”

“It had its good times. Remember Reá? The Nautolan?”

“The one who puked all over me and made me sick for weeks. A true highlight in my life.”

“Kor says that she’s already studying to take her trials. Remember when we did that?”

“Studied, or took the trials? You didn’t do one, and I never did the other, so you’ll have to find something else to reminisce about.”

Aayla flicked a lekku over her shoulder with an impatient toss of her head at the same time that Korkie sensed Master Vos passing them. “Well, you can do that later. Master’s here, so we’d better get moving if we want to get any sleep tonight.”

Siri sighed, finally taking her arm from over his shoulders. “Spoilsport.” Leaning against the speeder, she checked her wrist chrono. “Do we have everything? Lightsabers?” They each nodded, though where they were keeping such conspicuous weapons in their skintight clothing boggled his mind. “Obes, did you give Korkie a comm?”

His father looked suitably chagrined as he produced a small earpiece and tossed it to him. “Siri will show you how it works. If it turns out that you need it, don’t be afraid to ask what’s going on.”

“Obi-Wan tends to go radio silent when he’s concentrating, so we generally use the force to see what’s going on,” Siri explained. “Because you’re here, we’ll all be wearing one, but don’t be surprised if its a bit quiet when things get intense.”

Korkie nodded, remembering belatedly that he didn’t have the Force, and thus couldn’t join the conversation.

“Now that that’s taken care of, lets get moving.” Aayla gave them all a no nonsense look. “Stay focused, and may the Force be with you.”