C 1: Obedience
968 Ruusan Calendar, Jedi Temple, Coruscant
"Obi-Wan...." His name was spoken in a tone that clearly conveyed the speakers exasperation and a little bit of impatience. Suppressing a flare of annoyance, Obi-Wan ignored his Master and continued to stare at the looming Council Chamber doors. The engraved pattern was beautiful. Why had he never paid attention to it before? Had it always been there?
Next to him his Master sighed and a moment later a large hand settled on his shoulder, squeezed it affectionately and gently pushed until he was forced to turn around and face the older man. Obi-Wan winced as the movement sent a new wave of agony through his barely healed left side. However, the physical pain paled in comparison to the utter fury that raced through his veins at the casual gesture that spoke of so much familiarity. Still refusing to look at his Master, Obi-Wan focused his gaze on the wall behind the older man's shoulder
How dare the man? Suddenly his Master remembered Obi-Wan's existence, now that he wanted something from him. Where had Qui-Gon been when Obi-Wan had lain helplessly on the floor of that reactor complex with a gaping lightsaber wound in his gut? Where had he been while Obi-Wan had fought for his life in the medic center on Naboo? Where had the man been when he had woken up all alone after three weeks of artificial coma? Where had his Master been when he had barely managed to crawl into the 'fresher during their week-long trip back to Coruscant?
He had been too occupied with fawning over his precious Chosen One to speak more than ten words with his Padawan, that's where he had been. Only now that he needed Obi-Wan's help to convince the Council to get what he wanted had he deemed it necessary to talk to Obi-Wan and inform him of his latest defiance of the Council's orders.
A gentle, probing thought was sent across their training bond, undoubtedly in response to Obi-Wan's barely contained fury, and Obi-Wan instinctively tightened his mental shields and clamped down hard on the bond to keep the older man out of his mind. Qui-Gon's only reaction was another sigh before he grabbed Obi-Wan's chin and forced him to look at the older man. Against his will, Obi-Wan found himself gazing into midnight-blue eyes burning with determination and not the slightest bit of remorse. A new wave of bitterness swept through the Padawan. Of course Qui-Gon did not feel the slightest bit of remorse, he never did.
"Obi-Wan, I understand that you are not happy abut the fact that I have gone behind your back and defied the Council, but this childish behavior is unbecoming of a Jedi. You are better than this."
Obi-Wan only wrenched his face from Qui-Gon's hand and glared at the Jedi Master. He answered in a tight voice,
"You want me to lie to the Council, Master."
Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows.
"No, I want you to trust my judgment and support me, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan couldn't help it, he barked out a laugh.
"Your judgment has been lacking since the second you have laid eyes on that boy, Master. You were prepared to bet our ship and with it all our lives on the outcome of a podrace, you made promises you knew you could not keep, you dragged a nine year old boy into a war zone and you blatantly lied to me, Queen Amidala and the Council. And for what?" Obi-Wan took a deep shuddering breath. "Because you are convinced you are fulfilling a prophecy! What happened to your mantra of focusing on the here and now?"
Qui-Gon's midnight blue eyes flashed and his face hardened.
"Careful, Obi-Wan. I am still your Master and I do not owe you any justifications for my actions. I follow the Will of the Force above everything else and you would do well to remember your place, Padawan." Obi-Wan cringed at his Master's unusually harsh tone. Unfaced, Qui-Gon continued with absolute conviction in his voice.
"Anakin is the Chosen One. Do you understand? Nothing is more important than ensuring that he is trained. Nothing!"
"Master -" Obi-Wan's voice was pained.
Qui-Gon cut him off.
"You know that I am right." He gave Obi-Wan a sharp look. "I trust that you will do your duty and not fail me." He did not say 'like you did when you failed against the Sith' but Obi-Wan heard it all the same. If Obi-Wan had managed to defeat the Sith, he would be a Knight now and Qui-Gon would have been able to claim Master's Right and choose Anakin as his Padawan, no matter what the Council, Obi-Wan or anybody else thought about it. But Obi-Wan had lost and almost died in the process. Obi-Wan's shoulders slumped in defeat and he bowed his head in a demonstration of obedience.
"Yes, Master." It was the only acceptable reply.
Without another word Qui-Gon turned away, folded his arms into the sleeves of his cloak and proceeded to wait for the doors to open and admit them into the Council Chamber. The man's leonine features were set into an unreadable mask that most people would describe as peaceful or serene, but Obi-Wan noticed the determined set of his Master's jaw and the intensity in his eyes. His Master was prepared to march into battle and backing down was not an acceptable option. Qui-Gon Jinn had set his course and would not deviate from it, no matter the price.
The Council Chamber doors finally swished open and without hesitation Qui-Gon strode into the chamber and towards the center of the circular room, his wide cloak billowing imperiously behind him. He did not look back at his Padawan, certain in his knowledge that Obi-Wan would obediently follow. And why should he doubt Obi-Wan's obedience? In the end, Obi-Wan always did as he was told even if he did it with gritted teeth. The day he had become a Padawan he had sworn to obey his Master and whatever flaws Obi-Wan might have, breaking his word was not one of them. However, he couldn't lie to the Council either. His only hope was that the Council would not ask him any questions.
With slightly shaking hands Obi-Wan straightened and limped after his Master at a much slower pace than Qui-Gon, careful not to aggravate his only partly healed injury unnecessarily. With dread pooling in his stomach, he took up his proper position a step behind and to the side of his Master. He had a bad feeling about this.