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Bathe in the fire (save your soul)

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Qui-Gon wanted a vacation. Honest to Force, at least monthly length vacation, preferably on some nice, warm planet with a lot of vibrant greenery. Maybe some animals to pet too. He could pretend that he didn’t adopt one of them, and he had absolutely no idea how it found its way on his ship. Obi-Wan would– 

 

He felt tired. He didn’t know what Obi-Wan would say or do now. Usually, he pretended to grumble quietly about pathetic lifeforms to himself, because he didn’t want to hurt Qui-Gon’s feelings. It amused him since for all Obi-Wan’s irritated mumbling he liked animals and he got along with them better than Qui-Gon. But now things were different.

 

He knew, he knew, that Obi-Wan hadn’t lost his kindness, his soft, tender heart, but he guarded himself so strongly, it was hard to say what he really felt or think. It was unsettling, for a Padawan to shield themselves from their Master, as if said Master was the enemy? Even Xan– he hadn’t done it, he just snapped the bond as quickly as he could. 

 

But Obi-Wan… he just had walls around his mind and around his heart, and apparently Qui-Gon wasn’t the one to see what’s behind them.

 

But the strange teenager that appeared out of nowhere a couple of days ago was.

 

Qui-Gon spent some time with them in the Halls of Healing, while the teenager – Cody – had been there. From what he had gathered, he had a chip in his brain – which was outrageous, he hadn’t heard before of such bestiality; arms, legs, yes, the worse he had heard of was neck, but brain? Who did that to him? – and even though the extraction had been fairly easy, Vokara wanted to keep an eye on them (them, because Obi-Wan hadn’t left his side for a second, so she let him stay even during nights, but only if she could check on him too) to make sure that everything was alright. So all things considered, Qui-Gon shouldn’t really be surprised that they came home together one evening, arms full of things from the Quartermaster, clearly intending for Cody to sleep there.

 

“Things haven’t changed much, I think. Less droid parts, more plants. Definitely more tea than caff and food in the cabinets.” He heard Obi-Wan’s light voice and he thought oh, it’s been a while since I heard it.

 

Cody didn’t say anything, but Qui-Gon was sure that he rolled his eyes. He stood up.

 

“Obi-Wan, is your friend going to stay with us permanently?” He asked and couldn’t help but notice his shoulders getting tense. Cody shifted his weight subtly and his eyes darted to him carefully, measuring, but defensive. He didn’t know what he was thinking, because Obi-Wan had his shields around him. Interesting.

 

“Yes.” His answer was short and Qui-Gon hadn’t expected him to elaborate.

 

“In your room?”

 

“Yes.” He repeated, face carefully blank, but something in his eyes dared him to challenge it. Qui-Gon was ashamed to say that he took the bait.

 

“Obi-Wan, you should know that you’re walking dangerously close to attachment.”

 

His Padawan’s spine tensed and he squared his shoulders in something that resembled a military pose. Cody did the same thing simultaneously. 

 

“You don’t get to lecture me on attachment, Qui-Gon Jinn,” His voice was perfectly calm, but there was a note of something dangerous in there. He was once again reminded that his Padawan was more than he seemed to be. “Not with your attachment to Master Tahl, not with your attachment to Xanatos. I let everything and everyone go, and you have no idea how it feels. I know what attachment is, Master, but I’m tired of denying myself the simple comfort of companionship when I lacked it for so long. What’s more, I am perfectly aware how it could lead good people to do terrible things, I had witnessed it first handedly, and I know I won’t Fall just because I slept in the same bed with someone. So stop projecting your issues on me, I have enough of them on my own. Come, Cody. I’m tired.”


Qui-Gon had been, frankly speaking, stunned. Cody, even though he kept his face blank and unemotional during this rant, frowned. He did something weird with his free hand, some kind of signals, which made Obi-Wan shake his head, as he went to his room, not waiting for Qui-Gon to react.

 

“No, it’s fine. I just want to sleep.” He said and courteously opened the door and held it for Cody, who muttered something along that doesn’t make me feel reassured at all, sir, but he went quietly. The door closed behind them and Qui-Gon was left behind with his own thoughts.

 

He needed to meditate. Badly.

 


 

He quietly opened the door to Obi-Wan’s room, ignoring the voice at the back of his head, sounding very similar to Master Dooku’s, chiding him about frivolous use of the Force. He ignored it, as he always did - he had his hands full with tea, and it would be a travesty to drop it. And no, it wasn’t because he wanted to spy on two teenagers, although the thought had been tempting for a minute, but let’s be clear, Qui-Gon was shit at apologising. So he made Obi-Wan’s favourite tea for the boys, hoping that it would make them less… prickly. 

 

He set the mugs on the desk, which was organised as always - datapads were in neat stocks on the one half, things they got from the Quartermaster stood in line on the other. It looked like they were used to sharing a small amount of space, and they could do it very effectively, but it also looked… sad without any personal touches. Obi-Wan wasn’t much of a collector, but he liked books of all sorts, and they always felt like him in the Force. Cody didn’t have any personal belongings in here and Qui-Gon was a bit upset. What in the Sith Hell had happened to these kids?

 

Qui-Gon felt eyes on his back, so he slowly turned. It was time to go anyway, he didn’t want to interrupt the boys, especially when Obi-Wan had been sleeping in his own bed for once. Warm, amber eyes had been watching his every movement warily. Obi-Wan was tucked under Cody’s head, and they had been wrapped so tightly in the blanket, that he could see only his Padawan’s auburn hair. Cody had one of his hands in it, threading slowly every once in a while, keeping him relaxed, and hopefully, deep asleep. Qui-Gon smiled softly at them and mouthed “tea”, pointing at two mugs he just brought. Cody nodded, and rolled his eyes a little. Ah. Another caff drinking heretic. 

 

It wouldn’t take long for boys to wake properly. Obi-Wan went to the bathroom wordlessly. It wasn’t anything unusual, he wasn’t a talkative person in the mornings, much more after the Force incident. But Cody, on the other hand, approached him carefully. 

 

“Thank you for the tea, sir,” He said, and it was quite nice to hear him calm and collected. He wasn’t afraid of himself any longer, but Qui-Gon had a feeling it won’t be easy to gain his trust either. “Obi-Wan appreciated it. And you don’t have to worry. We know our duty and responsibilities we have.” He added, a bit hesitant.

 

Qui-Gon sighed, putting his cup of tea down.

 

“I believe you. And I guess I should be thanking you. It was the first night he slept without nightmares for a long time, if he slept at all. He kept calling for you. Someone was hurting you, I assume since he never told me. I learnt to leave him alone after he almost broke my arm when I tried to wake him up. He avoided me for three days after.”

 

Cody’s eyes looked sad, older. Tired, just like Obi-Wan’s. He didn’t say anything, but he clenched his jaw, probably in guilt, Qui-Gon couldn’t tell. Obi-Wan’s shields held tight, but also the teenager’s body language was exceptionally guarded, in control. It was the control of an adult, trained one and tested through various trials. Obi-Wan was the same, these days.

 

“You went through a lot, didn’t you,” It wasn’t a question. “Will you tell me, one day?”

 

“Yes, we thought about it, and we’re aware we’ll have to share some things with you and the Council. But it’ll be on his terms, I’m sure. He always does hard things only when he’s sure nobody will get hurt beside him.” His face hadn’t changed much from the calm neutrality, but something in his voice had softened, “He’s a stubborn di’kut like that.”

 

“Why, such compliments you say, my dear. I haven’t earned those yet, I think,” Obi-Wan came to the kitchen, his hair wet, but his eyes looked much brighter. He didn’t look so tormented anymore, but there still was a cloak of sorrow and determination around him. Cody smiled with just the corner of his mouth. “Want some eggs?”

 

“Please. Sunny side up?”

 

“Of course,” There was a slight pause. “Master?”

 

“Oh no, thank you, I’m fine, I’ve already eaten.” Cody narrowed his eyes on him and suddenly Qui-Gon had a very uncomfortable feeling of being strongly judged. And then another one, but it was only something he felt in the Halls of Healing. Someone will start pestering him about his health.

 

“And now there’s two of them.” Cody said, totally deadpan, while Obi-Wan groaned. 

 

“Cody, there’s no need to–” He started to protest, but he interrupted him quickly.

 

“Oh no, I’m gonna. I just need to redo my presentation. It’ll be glorious. You’re going to hear it again, since you clearly forgot everything we said to you back then. Self-care is important, and that includes food, cyare.

 

“Kote, please.” Obi-Wan’s voice hitted very interesting, albeit exasperated tone. Qui-Gon was mostly content that the attention was off him for now. He had a feeling that the boy could be a total terror if he wanted to be, and Obi-Wan certainly knew it.

 

“Don’t “Kote” me, Obi-Wan. You know better than that, some negotiator you are.”

 

The two of them started bantering over eggs, some were made for him, so he started to munch on them quietly, lost in thought.

 

He meditated a lot last night over some things Obi-Wan said, and others that he left unsaid. He was worried again, worried about what that meant when he said that he craved companionship. What happened to him? He wasn’t alone in the Temple, he wasn’t lonely. He wasn’t, right?

 

But it wasn’t even that. His Padawan had strong opinions on attachment, and frankly speaking, he was looking forward to seeing how it would unravel in the Council room, because the Force was clear: it wanted change. And it wanted change now. Furthermore, for some reason it chose Obi-Wan and Cody to make it so. 

 

Qui-Gon, for one, wanted to see it. And right now he saw a soft look on Obi-Wan’s face when he watched Cody struggling with a slippery piece of egg. He sighed internally.

 

They were his boys now, weren’t they? 

 

(Mace will ground them all so quickly, he felt it in his bones.)

 

 

Chapter Text

Quinlan Vos wasn’t a person who was angry very often. Irritation, yes, maybe sometimes he was annoyed, but that was usually solved with a duel or two. So no, he wasn’t angry very often, even though he tended to be a bit impulsive and hot headed. Master Tholme said it’ll get better in time, and he was almost always right, so whatever. 

 

He wasn’t angry at Obi-Wan now. A bit worried, and he assumed that everyone was these days, but it was hard not to be worried about Obi-Wan, given the messes he was landing in since his time in the crèche.

 

And things were weird these days. Obi-Wan closed off from them, Qui-Gon got unusually considerate, from what he’d heard, and then they disappeared for a while, to Ilum, of all places. Quinlan would rather think they went to some place like Mandalore for them to go, not Ilum. But whatever. He could yell at him later.

 

(And he did yell, but Obi-Wan only hugged him tightly in response. That worried him a lot.)

 

Now they lay down in bed together, watching some shitty holodrama, while Obi-Wan tried to pretend that the world (and painkillers in it) didn’t exist.

 

“Obes, you have to do something with these migraines, you know,” He said quietly, when Obi-Wan pressed hand to his forehead and frowned. “It's the third this week alone, that’s not normal.”

 

Obi-Wan only grunted in response. Quinlan sighed. He wasn’t even surprised, Obi-Wan was the most stubborn being in the whole universe, after all. He just wished he would let himself help, every once in a while.

 

“Come on, you idiot, lay down. I’ll give you head scratches, you big tooka.” 

 

Younger Padawan surprisingly complied. He hid his face in Quin’s clothes. Quinlan tried to suppress a sigh – it wasn’t a good sign if Obi-Wan craved comfort without denying it first. So stubborn.

 

“It’s just a lot,” He said, after a while. “Being here and now. With everyone. And I try so hard to remember, to control everything… I can’t stop.” His voice was almost a whisper by the end, and not from pain. 

 

Quinlan honestly didn’t know what to say.

 

“Is this why you’ve been isolating yourself?” He asked after a while. Obi-Wan shrugged in response.

 

“Maybe? I don’t know. I guess I forgot more things than I thought.”

 

“You forgot that you have friends? Not only you’re an asshole, but also an idiot,” Quinlan’s response, while harsh, was mostly affectionate. Mostly. “We care about you, you know.”

 

He didn’t answer. Quinlan thought he managed to fall asleep, but then he said:

 

“Do you sometimes get this feeling that no matter what you’ll do, which path you’ll choose, you’re going to fail anyway?”

 

“No, but I’m pretty sure it’s called anxiety.”

 

Obi-Wan huffed. Quin didn’t stop moving his gloved hand through his hair. It was a nice colour, and he was always fascinated by it. 

 

“Thanks, Quinlan, you’ve always been a source of support.” He said, dryly.

 

“What I can say, Obes, I ace at everything I touch.”

 

“I doubt that.”

 

They were silent for a while. He watched that holodrama, but didn’t really pay any attention to it. He could rewatch it with Master Tholme later anyway.

 

“I have so many regrets these days,” Obi-Wan spoke up again. “Things I’ve done wrong, things I haven’t done, things I won’t do again or I can’t repeat them. I’m tired and maybe a bit upset.” 

 

That was way too much honesty he expected from Obi-Wan. He was always like this: talking a lot about things he was passionate about, about lectures, lightsaber duels, anything that caught his attention at the moment. But when it came to his feelings, either those deeply personal or superficial, he always hid behind durasteel hard walls. You could spill a soup in his lap and he’d apologise to you, and never, ever said a word of complaint. 

 

“You, mister, are a sad bundle of issues and Force-related migraines, but I don’t have to tell you this.”

 

Obi-Wan was quiet again. 

 

“I miss someone,” He admitted softly. Quinlan was, frankly speaking, more than surprised to hear that, but at this point, he suspected that today’s just going to be like that. Nothing to be done with it, just roll along as it goes. “I miss them, because they were steady and supportive, and always did the right thing. They would make an amazing Jedi, if they were Force-sensitive. And I think they were, considering how often they managed to… help me.”

 

His shoulders shook a bit. Quinlan swallowed, preparing an answer to that. The thing is, the two of them didn’t really do emotions, so he felt the importance of Obi-Wan confiding in him. He didn’t want to betray that trust by saying something playful, like the two of them tend to communicate – by snark and sass, and just the right amount of awful jokes. But that was serious, Obi-Wan was serious. Something in him settled, buried underneath the pain and sadness.

 

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have told you this. It’s not your burden to bear.” He said almost immediately. Quin gritted his teeth, because that was stupid.  

 

“Don’t be daft.”

 

Obi-Wan snorted.

 

“No, seriously. We’re here to help you, whether it is about pulling a prank on Qui-Gon – we can do that later if you want, think about it – or about something definitely less fun and more serious, like, for example, someone’s existence. And by the way, I’m great at multitasking.”

 

“I doubt all my problems could be solved with a prank, Quin.”

 

Yeah, me too, pal.

 

“But it is an option.” He said it with just the right amount of humour, so Obi-Wan could imagine a smirk on his face.

 

Obi-Wan answered softly: “Yes, it is.”

 

They both fell asleep not long after that.

 


 

 

The thing about the Force was, in Quinlan’s opinion, that sometimes it could be as annoying, as it was helpful. Which meant: a lot. For example, right now, it pushed him quite insistently, towards the lower levels of the Temple. Kriff, if he knew why, but he went, sighing heavily, thinking that by the time he’ll go back, he could dream of eating that nice, spicy pasta dish they had been serving today in the refectory. But alright, needs must, such is the will of the Force.

 

The Force flickered around him playfully, probably knowing what he thought. He also thought that the Force was weird for quite some time, there were weird anomalies, felt not only by those more tuned to Unifying Force, but by everyone. Still, it didn’t change the fact that he had no kriffing idea why it chose him to do its will. Couldn’t it choose someone else? Siri maybe?

 

No.

 

Okay then. Good talk.

 

Five minutes later he wished he didn’t go to the refectory instead. In the middle of the room stood a very dazed teenager, maybe around his age, frowning and pressing a hand to his temple. He wore the most basic white clothes, with a number stitched on the left side of his chest. CC-2224. Interesting, but it didn’t explain a single thing.

 

“Hi. You seem lost, mate.” Quinlan tried to be as casual as he could, considering there was a stranger in the Temple, and the Force seemed to be in a very good mood, if the Force had, indeed, had moods.

 

Teenager flinched, suddenly looking terrified. There was an aura of panic around him, and he said, as if he didn’t believe his own eyes:

 

“General Vos?”

 

What.

 

“You have the last name right, but it’s Quinlan. I’m a Senior Padawan. Who are you?” He really tried to be polite; he could easily imagine Obi-Wan smacking him if he did otherwise. Usually, he wasn’t patient enough to be polite, especially when it didn’t suit his needs, but something told him that jumping ahead of himself wasn’t the right route in this case.

 

“Padawan?” Teenager asked, stepping back. Quinlan could hear other people coming into the room, all as curious as he was. Maybe they followed the Force as he did.

 

“Yeah, like an apprentice? You’re in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.”

 

And that was the wrong thing to say, because the teenager paled so quickly, Quinlan was afraid he’ll faint, but that wasn’t the weirdest thing, no. The panic intensified, he could see it on his face right as he, very slowly, kneeled with his hands up in the air. Quinlan could bet everyone was as surprised as he was – and now he could see Master Windu coming closer, frowning, and Master Koon looking concerned, but none of them tell anything about his presence here. They probably were used to him getting into these situations.

 

“That’s impossible,” The teenager muttered and then he looked right into Master Windu’s eyes. His body was steady, but he could see fear in his eyes – tightly controlled, impressive, but fear nonetheless. Why he was afraid of them, Quinlan had no idea. “That can’t be… The Temple… But–” His eyes widened further. Now he was properly terrified.

 

“Young one–” Master Koon began, stepping closer, but he stopped moving when he saw the teenager flinching. He still kept his arms up, it must have been really uncomfortable, but he didn’t seem to acknowledge it. Quinlan was sure he saw something similar once, with Master Tholme, on the Outer Rim.

 

“Please, stay away, it’s still in me, I don’t want to hurt you, please,” He sounded desperate, like he wanted them to believe him, but expected the complete opposite. “You should put me down, so I won’t hurt you, please.”

 

Oh. He did see it once. He couldn’t remember the name of the planet, but he remembered clearly the look on the face of someone forced to carry explosives. He couldn’t see anything like that on the teenager, but his fear itself had been overwhelming. He tried to hold it back, for their sake probably, but it was still there. 

 

And then Quinlan heard a whine behind his back, but before he could move to see who made that sound, the blur of beige robes and auburn hair moved forward. Of course. If he tangled himself in some mess, Obi-Wan wasn’t far behind. Quin could bet some money that the vein on Master Windu’s temple throbbed. 

 

Obi-Wan had been saying something, but he only caught the name Cody. Then the both of them had been speaking, the weird mix of at least three different languages. Another polyglot, nice. But what caught Quinlan attention was how quickly they touched, how familiar with each other they seemed to be. Because, the thing is, that Obi-Wan was very particular with the touch. He usually craved it a lot, but he had to initiate it, and he really didn’t like when strangers touched him. It had to be, indisputably, on his accords. But he seemed to be comfortable with the teenager they all had seen for the first time five minutes ago. They were comfortable and intimate.

 

And what was that part about the beard?

 

Yes, dear hearts. All is fine, the Force whispered.

 

Oh, alright, that explains everything. 

 


 

 

He saw them, later on, curled up together in the Halls of Healing. Cody had a bacta patch on his temple, and Obi-Wan looked more peaceful and rested than he looked in weeks.

 

Quinlan smiled.

Chapter Text

They were fighting again. 

 

He could feel the eyes of at least two Masters of them, but he was sorely focused on Cody. He already tried to roundhouse kick him in the face, missing only by inches. He muttered a Mando’a curse under his breath as he lost a second or two so he wouldn’t fall down. Obi-Wan graciously let him recover, but he was ready to attack him any second.

 

Yeah, alright. They weren’t fighting, they were sparring.

 

They needed a healthy outlet after the Council meeting, and it’s not like Cody was used to meditating his feelings away (as he was, Obi-Wan thought grimly), so Obi-Wan offered to help. He could use hand-to-hand sparring anyway, he was focused on regaining his lightsaber skill, and didn’t even think about situations where he couldn’t use a lightsaber. Cody would probably like to shoot some blasters too, but he assumed that some Masters would end up having a heart attack. If he asked Master Drallig though…

 

He ducked another kick and ran to miss an incoming fist to the face. He used the momentum to jump and try to wrap his thighs around Cody’s neck. He mostly succeeded, giving as they both tumbled down and Cody ended up with his face between his legs.

 

“As alluring as the sight is, darling, I think I won this one.” Obi-Wan said, breathing heavily. Cody patted him twice on the ankle and he immediately loosen the hold he had on him. He grinned wildly, his amber eyes twinkling in the way, as Obi-Wan learnt, meant he was being a little shit now.

 

“You gotta wait for this one, though, cyare. I am a respectable soldier, I require at least a drink and a dinner first.”

 

“That can be arranged,” He purred in response and took the hand Cody held for him to help him get up. He always did that. “Just let me know where and when.” He winked, and Cody rolled his eyes.

 

“You can’t buy alcohol on Coruscant, you’re fifteen.”

 

He lifted up an eyebrow.

 

“Oh, can’t I? I didn’t know that.” He said drily, indicating that he very much could buy any amount of alcohol he wanted to. He knew it, because he did it before. You aren’t friends with one Quinlan Vos without learning some things along the way. Cody sighed.

 

“I am not going to ask. One more round?”

 

“As much as I adore your hands around my neck, I’d rather take a shower and have a cup of tea. I need to meditate on conversations that have happened today.” He gathered his things, not wanting to see the serious face of his cyare. He was quiet during the talk with the Council, letting him handle things, but he knew he was worried. 

 

I don’t want to be an inconvenience or a burden. I’ll leave if I have to, Cody said before their meeting today. Obi-Wan felt a flood of panic and then his blood boiled. He took a deep breath to calm himself, because him being angry wasn’t going to help anyone. He needed to be in control if he wanted to make precise, logical arguments. He couldn’t lose his composure.

 

Because, the thing was, the Council was getting impatient. And Obi-Wan didn’t have all the answers ready. Some of them, yes, but he wanted to build a good, irrefutable case, so they wouldn’t brush it aside as just a Force vision. The Force was unusually clear in its wanting these days, but he couldn’t put it past some councillors that they would just… pretend it means something else, for their own comfort, because it was more convenient this way. They did it before and look where it got them. 

 

Dead, all of them. The children, the elders. Burning in one enormous funeral pyre without any sacrum, without any respect. All because they were too blind, too prideful, too– 

 

“Obi-Wan?” He flinched when Cody’s hand carefully touched his own. He looked concerned, and Obi-Wan’s heart broke again. He had so much to do. And so much to lose. “Are you alright? And please, don’t say ‘fine’, you know I hate it.”

 

That was a change, one he was thrilled to notice. Cody was more open now. He tried to close the gap of ranks between him and the troopers as much as he could, to make them comfortable, to see them at ease on board of The Negotiator, but he wasn’t aware that the habit was still there until Cody let himself be more free with his words and affections. Obi-Wan wished he could do the same for him, but he knew he was closing off. It wasn’t intentional, but he was afraid, and tired, and there was so much to do.

 

“I’m alright,” Cody scowled at him. “No, seriously. You’re here. I can’t ask for more.”

 

Somehow, he only frowned harder. It was the look he had when they were strategizing over extremely hard campaigns, once that ended up with them drowning their sorrows in moonshine that was absolutely terrible, but at this point they didn’t care at all. 

 

“Let’s go to the rooms,” He said quickly. Cody nodded quietly, taking his hand shyly. Obi-Wan appreciated it. It kept him grounded.

 

He argued hard and for so long over such small details today, he didn’t want to argue with Cody too. 

 

The Council genuinely didn’t know what to do with them. Obi-Wan wasn’t surprised, it truly was an unusual situation, but he couldn’t let them send Cody away, even to AgriCorps or wherever they saw him suited for. The Order had the resources, they could house one more teenager, give him education, roof over his head and some freedom to be who he wanted to be. They argued that they would be setting a precedent, that they couldn’t let themselves house every child found on their steps, what would he learn if he’s not Force-sensitive anyway?

 

In that moment Obi-Wan could understand how the Jedi Order was destroyed in mere seconds. It was rotting from the inside for a long time.

 

He knew that Cody was getting more uncomfortable with every passing second, but he stood calmly, the Marshall Commander in every inch of his being. 

 

What would they be in the eyes of the Republic, in the eyes of the galaxy, if they refused shelter and some basic education in the time of need? And Cody had some education already, maybe he wasn’t refined when it comes to Chandrillan poetry, but he was good at mathematics and astrophysics, he had the greatest logical mind he had ever met, and knew three languages (Cody tried to argue that his knowledge of Stewjoni was… incomplete at best, but Obi-Wan also knew that he had a good grasp on Ryl and knew some basic Huttese, it was more than half the galaxy could say about themselves and he wasn’t shy to emphasize it). What’s more, he was great at combat and he was very observant. 

 

If the Council wanted to do quid pro quo, Obi-Wan thought bitterly, they had something to pay them back. 

 

In the end they let him stay, providing Master Jinn didn’t mind it, since technically Obi-Wan was still his Padawan (they probably thought that Qui-Gon would raise a protest, as he always did when the Council was making him do something he didn’t want to, tough luck that he seemed to like Cody – he made him tea), and was personally responsible for Cody’s behaviour. He scoffed internally. As if that was a problem. Additionally, Cody didn’t hold any status in the Order, since he wasn’t a part of it. At best he could be considered a ward of the Order. He was sixteen anyway, in the eyes of Republic law he could be seen as an adult, so it was only the courtesy of the Order that they had been taking care of him.

 

It’s not like someone had custody rights over Cody anyway.

 

“Here’s your tea, cyare. Do you want something to eat with that?” Cody pulled him out of his thoughts with a quietly placed mug. “Why am I asking anyway, you’re terrible with food.” He muttered under his breath, already snooping through the cabinets to make some kind of dinner. Obi-Wan wasn’t a poor cook, but he noticed that Cody seemed to like making food – and therefore eating – that wasn’t ration bars, and he was glad to let him enjoy it. He still did breakfasts for them, and they ate lunch in the refectory. They had it all worked out quicker than the Council assumed they could. 

 

They were used to sharing.

 

Speaking of which… 

 

“Cody, there’s something I want to talk to you about,” He said when they ate some simple stir-fry. He was glad that Qui-Gon was still tangled up in Archives, but he assumed that Master Nu would throw him out in an hour. They left him a portion to heat up when he came home. “And I don’t mean to presume anything, love, it was just… hanging around my head for some time. It’s a stupid, little thing, I admit, but… it is something that you need to consider.”

 

Obi-Wan was probably making him nervous with his rambling, but he needed him to know that he wouldn’t pressure him to do anything. He only wanted to see him happy.

 

“What is it?” He asked softly, but his eyes were sharp and focused.

 

“If you’d like it, because of course you have the right to say ‘no’, we could come up with something else entirely, would you–,” It was unusual for him to be this anxious and fumbling with words. “Would you consider taking my last name, maybe? If you want? We need papers for you, and while I can arrange them easily, there’s still a matter of your last name. And I assume that taking Fett’s last name would cause some unwanted attention. Not that this wouldn’t, but–”

 

“Cyare, shut up for a moment.” Cody said.

 

Obi-Wan did as asked.

 

“This is a lot,” He said after a while. “And frankly speaking, really unexpected. Are you sure that you wished to share some identity with me?”

 

Obi-Wan took his hand.

 

“It’s different for me than it was for the Vode. My identity doesn’t lie in my name, it wasn’t chosen, like the Vode did it. I’m not even exactly sure what it means on Stewjon, I didn’t really want to know,” He was afraid of another disappointment, another proof of him being… lacking. So he never checked. “If you wish to choose for yourself, I’m perfectly fine with it. I just thought–”

 

“I never said that,” Cody interrupted him again. “I just wanted to be sure that you’re aware of the weight your proposal has. We never talked about things like that before.”

 

Well. There was war after all. And neither of them lived through it. Not in the way that matters.

 

“You know I couldn’t marry you. I still can’t, I’m fifteen, “He tried to joke, but it fell flat, even in his own ears. “But love, we can be aliit in whatever way we want. Aliit ori’shya tal’din.”

 

Family is more than blood.

 

“I would never ask you to do that.” He said, squeezing his hand, with the hint of desperation – desperate hope – in his voice.

 

“I know. I’m offering. It’s yours, if you want it.”

 

I’m all yours. Body and soul.

 

He knew, both of them knew, that he was still very much committed to the Jedi Order. That his duty was in the first place. But he was through so much, stopped lying to himself, stopped denying that he was clinging to attachments. Because he was very much attached. He needed these attachments to be reminded of what he’s fighting for. Otherwise he would be like this grain of salt, alone in the universe much bigger than he is, overwhelming and powerful, on the mercy of forces tossing him where they seem to like it. And he did not want to be a puppet in the great scheme of evil, a dog on Sith’s leash. Not that. Never again.

 

“Oh, cyar’ika. Oh, my love,” Cody seemed to be as lost for words as he felt. “ Vor entye.” He said with the full force, the weight of the meaning hung between them.

 

“There’s no debt here, mo chridhe.” He answered quietly. If there’s someone in debt that would be him. Because he owed him more than anyone could have ever imagined.

 

Cody looked him in the eyes. There was so much love, he could drown in it. He lifted their intertwined fingers and lay a tender kiss on the top of Cody’s hand.

 

He would not fail to love him. Not again. 

 

Cody smiled softly in return.

Chapter Text

Feemor didn’t understand shit.

 

Oh, pardon, that was highly unbecoming of a Jedi Knight. Feemor was wildly confused, and as he thought to himself, in the privacy of his tight shields, he didn’t understand shit.

 

It started, as all things, with the Force. It prodded him to get back to the Temple a couple months back, so he – although reluctantly – complied. He wrapped up all his things and came back to Coruscant. Master Windu was surprised, but quite content to have him back, Yoda (that sneaky green troll) had been suspiciously glad to see him, and Master Nu asked him if he’s going to take up his academic work now he’s in the Temple, but otherwise things had been… normal? 

 

That is, until he caught up with the gossip mill. 

 

Fucking Qui-Gon.

 

Feemor suspected that the whole ‘Force anomaly’ thing Archer told him about lined up neatly with the Force’s very insistent prodding he felt a couple of weeks ago. He hoped, he really hoped, that his former Master didn’t have anything to do with that, but apparently it was too much to ask. But, as his crèchemate, who was now a Healer (and they always were the best informed people in the whole Order, gossiping in the Halls was the only way to stay sane, as he said), summarised: it was a classical, a ‘Qui-Gon trademark’ mess. Or rather, his Padawan was a mess after that anomaly.

 

He wasn’t feeling guilty, per se, for not wanting to meet his Padawan brother (because Qui-Gon can’t even stick to anything, even stupid, hurtful promises he made when his ego got the best of him, which was almost always), but he wasn’t really keen on meeting anyone who must’ve been similar to Xanatos – because Qui-Gon was interested in characters. Always were. But the Force was… radiating encouragement at him. And maybe a little bit of sadness. It wasn’t enough for him to change his mind, so he tried to stay away from his former Master for as long as he could, although he decided that he could keep his ears open for some gossip. 

 

Only for gossip.

 


 

 

He took up his academic research, no need to ask twice, Master Nu, and he taught younglings some Shii-Cho katas. Days were, frankly speaking, peaceful, and he didn’t realise how much he needed a change of pace until he actually did it. Nevertheless, nagging feeling at the back of his head, making him wait for something in anticipation, never left him for good. He tried to ask the Force what it meant, but it just swirled around him, comforting as always, and told him to wait.

 

So he waited.

 

In the end, he didn’t have to wait long, but everything that happened later was making him… confused. For some reason, the Force decided he was a perfect witness, and who was he to deny it? That was how he found himself, among a couple of Jedi (that included Qui-Gon and small, auburn haired boy who was his Padawan), watching a terrified teenager apologising, almost hysterically, for Force-know what, to another teenager – said small, auburn haired boy – who tried to calm him down. He couldn’t follow their conversation, they seemed to talk in three different languages – was that Mando’a? – but he could read a lot from how they touched each other, how they were comfortable around each other, and what’s more important: how the Force seemed to twirl around them in happiness, in love.

 

Feemor didn’t have any special talents, like Master Windu or Master Sifo-Dyas, but he was hardworking and a lot of his successes as a Jedi Knight came from him being a silent observer – that also meant he was good at observing the Force. Sometimes he even saw it as colourful currents or simply flashes of light, helping him understand people or situations better. It was enough for him – he was perfectly fine with being mediocre, if that meant the Council left him alone and didn’t pester him to come home. Xanatos could suck his d– 

 

“Padawan Kenobi, if you were so kind as to explain what in the seven Sith Hells is going on here?” Master Windu’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts, and Force, wasn’t he familiar with that tone? It usually meant that Mace wanted to throttle someone and/or curse them, but he was too polite to actually do that. Oh, to have the control of a Jedi Master.

 

Padawan Kenobi turned his sharp gaze away from the teenager, focusing on Master Windu. Now, Feemor was surprised. He was looking for anger or arrogance in his face, but he could only see fierce determination in his face, and his body language wasn’t speaking of aggression, but protection. And if that wasn’t enough, the Force around him swirled in various colours: he could see mourning blues, speaking of sadness, and the depth of it made his heart ache; there also were pretty, dark greens of reliability and responsibility, and light, almost creamy browns of honesty. But what caught his breath, were strings of gold among it. He never saw such a shimmering colour in the Force before. The interpretation was too vast to capture in one word: it was honesty, loyalty, perseverance, steadiness. It was love and glory in its purest form: selfless, coming from sacrifice, coming from duty.

 

And then they walked away and all he could do was stare at them silently. He ignored Qui-Gon following them, thinking about what he had seen. Master Koon put his hand on his shoulder; he was one of the few Jedi who knew how the Force spoke to him sometimes. He actually asked for his advice when it started to happen, shortly after Qui-Gon’s repudiation of him. 

 

“You saw it too, didn’t you?” Master Koon said to him quietly, as they left the room. “The Force? The change they’ll bring?”

 

Feemor nodded quietly.

 

“I thought he’ll be different, Padawan Kenobi, I mean,” He admitted. “More like him.”

 

“Oh no, you couldn’t find more unlike souls. Padawan Kenobi had already been through trials that most Knights are not prepared to take,” Master Koon answered. He seemed sad and Feemor could see why. “He’s hardworking, and so bright in the Force, but he’s humble, and has a lot of self-restraint. He had this aura of sadness and sorrow around him ever since the first Force anomaly, and it looks like he works even harder ever since. I don’t know if he has time to sleep. The Council didn’t want to pry, but we are getting more and more curious, especially with today’s event. What are we going to do with these boys?” He sighed mournfully.

 

The Force also sighed mournfully, but it also sung of hope.

 

Feemor could feel a migraine coming.

 


 

 

It looked like the Force didn’t care one bit about Feemor’s wishes, because he truly thought that he could come back to living his life, peacefully (and Jinn-less), doing some less significant work for the Jedi Order in the Outer Rim. But no, the Force just could not leave him be. He sighed internally.

 

“Excuse me, could you repeat that, please?” He said, looking at Padawan Kenobi’s serene face. He couldn’t believe his own ears. He didn’t just ask him– 

 

“Absolutely. Would you be so kind and join Cody and me for dinner tomorrow night in our quarters?” He was perfectly composed, too composed, considering Feemor’s surprise he didn’t bother to hide. It was as if Kenobi had been speaking with some senator or an ambassador, not a lowly Knight, he probably didn’t even know that was (technically) his Padawan-brother. Or maybe he knew, given the nature of his request. “Of course, I understand if you made plans and I apologise for such short notice, I’ll be more mindful in the future.” 

 

“No, I don’t– I mean, you must know– I’m not–” Feemor uncharacteristically fumbled for words. He might not be working for the Order as a diplomat, but he learnt a few things under Qui-Gon. It was mostly bluffing, gambling and drinking other people under the table (all very useful traits to have when you work in the Outer Rim), true, but he knew his way around the words. Yet, something in the Padawan’s eyes, that steely determination wrapped in simple politeness, was convincing.

 

“I’m doing Alderaanian Charlesworth’s Flaming Cake for dessert.” He added, as if that could make him change his mind. 

 

Damn it, he had a sweet tooth.

 

“Why?” 

 

Padawan Kenobi raised his eyebrow. Feemor had a strange feeling that it was a look that belonged in a much older face. And it looked well practised too.

 

“Because it’s a very nice dessert to have, not too sweet, and just fancy enough to satisfy even the most sophisticated palates. Relatively easy to make too, I once tried making Andarian High Tower, that was a disaster,” He smirked to him as if he was sharing the greatest joke with him. Against his better judgement, Feemor felt less tense. He also recalled Master Koon’s words: Kenobi truly was a different person than Xanatos. He never gave anything from himself, and he would never share his failures, no matter how small they were, with someone he didn’t even seem to know before. “And Cody hadn’t had the occasion to eat it before, I thought he would like it. He enjoys trying new things. But forgive me, I strayed away from important things, would seven o’clock be alright with you?”

 

It was the second time he mentioned that name. He assumed it was that teenager from the other day, he never caught his name, lost in his own head. He wondered what was the nature of their relationship. And what Qui-Gon had to say about that.

 

Many things, he was sure. 

 

“That’s not what I’m asking.” He deflected, because he wanted to know why he invited him to dinner, from all people. 

 

“I know.” There was this smirk again, too adult for the teenager’s face, yet so fitting. He was a clever one, wasn’t he? Kenobi’s comm chimed and he didn’t wait for his answer. “In any case, there’s a lot of space in our quarters, and we’re cooking better than certain Masters. We would like to have you. It could be interesting.”

 

And with that he left him alone, in the gardens, where he came not wanting to be found, and yet he had been found anyway.

 

Oh, for Force’s sake. 

 

That kid spiked his curiosity. And it didn’t help that the Force seemed to be excited, from all things, at Kenobi’s very polite request.

 

Maybe he’ll bring some finer wine from Christopsis. There’s no way he’ll make it through it perfectly sober.

 

He moaned.

 

Archer was going to laugh his ass off.

 


 

 

“Cody, can you open the door, please?” That was what Feemor heard when he knocked on the (once very familiar) door of the Jinn-Kenobi quarters. What he saw was a neutral looking face with sharp, curious, very intelligent eyes. 

 

“Hello there.” Somewhere in the background Kenobi said I heard that, and Feemor frowned a little. Teenager ignored that and moved to let him in. “I’m Cody, nice to meet you. Obi-Wan will be glad you decided to come.”

 

“Hi, I’m Feemor. I brought wine?” He wasn’t sure about giving alcohol to teenagers, but he really wanted to drink that. Before Cody could take the bottles (yes, he bought two, sue him) from him, Obi-Wan gracefully snached them to inspect the labels.

 

“Oh, you have an exquisite taste, it’s a fantastic vintage. Master Dooku will certainly be satisfied with your choice of beverage.”

 

Cody made a choked sound. Wait, what?

 

“You invited him?” His voice was almost an octave higher. The Force laughed.

 

“Yes, it’s a lineage dinner. I told you that, I’m sure of it.” He disappeared in the kitchen, Cody went after him, not angry, but not pleased either. Feemor didn’t really have a choice but to follow them, especially if he wanted to have some answers. Dooku?

 

“You didn’t invite Yoda though.” Cody accused him. Both Kenobi and Feemor cringed.

 

“If you want to have a taste of Yoda’s swamp stew, feel free to meet with him without me, cyare. Besides, if Yoda came, Master Dooku wouldn’t. I have a plan, trust me.” He winked and began stirring something in the pot. Cody sighed, and Feemor took the opening presented to him.

 

“Sorry, I don’t follow? Master Dooku is coming too?”

 

“Yes.” Kenobi said cheerfully as Cody simultaneously muttered:

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

 

Auburn haired Padawan frowned.

 

“Now, now, there’s no need to be that pessimistic, my dear. In any case, he’s going to leave early and we’re going to eat his share of cake. Nothing more drastic, I assure you. He’s polite.”

 

Polite, my ass, Feemor thought. He saw his politeness once or twice.

 

“Can I leave early too? Like, right now? Preferably with at least one bottle of my wine?” Feemor asked, but contrary to his words he took a seat on a high stool on the other side of a small kitchen island. Everything looked way more tidy than it did when he was a Padawan. Kenobi just gave him a look that would put Masters to shame. That was impressive, he needed to learn it.

 

He was surprised to notice that he actually began to like the kid. He had that air of mystery around him, but he seemed to be an honest soul. A good Jedi. Maybe Jinn didn’t fuck everything and everyone up.

 

“No, but I’ll be happy to offer you some tea. I apologise for not doing it earlier, that’s terribly rude of me. Cody, would you be so kind?” He asked without looking up from the stove. Whatever he was doing, he seemed to have it under control. And it couldn’t be worse than Qui-Gon’s attempt at cooking.

 

“Sure.” 

 

Feemor quietly observed the two of them. They moved gracefully around each other, like two stars – flawlessly, never colliding, always in perfect synchronisation. He never saw anything like that. He wondered if Cody was Force-sensitive or if it was just familiarity between them. He drank his tea (very nice blend, and not Qui-Gon’s favourite) in small sips, watching two teenagers finishing up preparations for dinner when the doorbell chimed.

 

“I’ll get that.” Kenobi slipped away. Cody just nodded, occupied with setting the table, but he noticed how tense he seemed to get. He moved closer to offer him some silent support. “Hello, Master Dooku. Please, come in. How was your flight?”

 

Kenobi really should be a diplomat. His bow was perfect, and his face betrayed nothing but friendly politeness. Nevertheless, Feemor noticed that he also was tense, whether that be some nerves or something else. Dooku seemed to be pleasantly surprised, even though he probably was as uncomfortable here as he felt. They chatted a bit, some mindless small talk about hyperspace lanes and the weather, as they came further into the rooms. Dooku looked every bit as regal as he remembered him to be, and – which Feemor noted with pleasure – he couldn’t hide a tiniest bit of surprise from his face.

 

“Feemor.” He nodded to him in greeting. Feemor answered him as well, he wasn’t raised by wolves, after all. “It’s good to see you, it’s been a while.”

 

“Yes, it was, Master Dooku. It seems like neither of us are in the Temple for long periods of time.” I wonder why.

 

Dooku gave him a measuring look, as if he knew what he thought and whom he meant.

 

“Ah, yes. Such is the life of a Jedi. But forgive my rudeness,” He turned to Cody, who suddenly had this rigid posture that he only saw in soldiers. “I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Jedi Master Yan Dooku. I wasn’t aware that there was more to this lovely party than the two of us,” That part was directed to Kenobi whose posture was less tense than Cody’s, but still guarded. It didn’t escaped Feemor’s attention that his body was slightly between the two of them. That fierce, cheeky Padawan was truly a protector in every bit, wasn’t he? Pour him that wine already, this is getting interesting. “But as they say: the more the merrier.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Master Dooku,” There was a strange emphasis on Dooku’s title, as if Cody forced himself to say it instead of something else. “I’m Cody.”

 

Dooku lifted a brow. It seemed to be a lineage trait and Feemor was falling behind. He needed to practise it more.

 

“Just Cody?” The teenager nodded, his face guarded, but not hostile.

 

“Just Cody.”

 

“The names are important in the culture Cody’s from,” Kenobi interrupted them swiftly, and gestured for all of them to sit down. “But enough chit chat, the soup is ready and Master Jinn will probably finish his meditation in less than two minutes. He’s always punctual for dinner.”

 

Feemor snorted just as Dooku coughed. It was the fakest cough he had ever heard. 

 

“Yes, only for dinner.” And wasn’t their timing ironic? In that moment, from one of the rooms came disheveled Qui-Gon Jinn in the flesh.

 

“Someone said dinner?” He stopped in tracks, noticing everyone around his small dining table. Feemor never saw someone getting this red in the face so quickly. It looked like even the Jedi Masters couldn’t keep their serenity all the time. But from the one look at Obi-Wan, it seemed that Jedi Padawans could.

 

“Yes, Master, I told you twice this week we’re having it today,” He turned, and only because Feemor was the closest to him he heard muttered: “And you were supposed to wear your nicest robes,” Then, louder again: “Please, have a seat, I’ll serve the soup shortly. Cody, if you were so kind?”

 

Cody happily got up and followed Kenobi into the kitchen, leaving the three of them in the most awkward silence ever. Dooku inspected the bottles Kenobi had put on the table, and Qui-Gon looked like a sulky teenager whose parents forced him to eat with distant relatives (which, when think about it more, wasn’t that far from truth).

 

“This is a fine vintage, it was a good year for Christopsis’ grapes. Not my first choice, but it’ll do nicely.”

 

“Thank you. The governor of Zolan recommended it to me a couple of years ago. It’s actually one of my favourites.” Feemor said, standing up to pour all of them (adults) a glass of red wine. Dooku looked positively surprised.

 

“My, my, Feemor. It looked like not all of your education had been in vain. You certainly have a taste.” Well, that stung a bit, but he didn’t answer. Qui-Gon, on the other hand, flinched and looked down. Ever the coward.

 

Thank the Force that Cody and Kenobi came with soup. 

 

“No appetizers, Grandpadawan mine?” Did Dooku cope by teasing everyone? Just have a glass of wine like everybody else, for Force’s sake. “Not even an amuse-bouche?”

 

“Not this time, Master. I aimed for more… domestic atmosphere. I thought it’ll be more suitable for a lineage dinner. I apologise if I ever gave you the wrong idea.”

 

Not teasing. Dooku was testing him. 

 

“No apologies needed, Obi-Wan. I’m sure you did fine.”

 

That made Qui-Gon’s head jump, but he didn’t say anything, just observed his former Master, frowning.

 

“This is very good, Padawan,” He said, for the first time since he sat down with them. “But I haven’t taken you for a fan of Serennian cuisine.”

 

“That’s because I’m not a fan of Serennian cuisine – no offence meant, Grandmaster. I simply prefer more seasoned dishes, when I cook for myself. Actually, Mandalorian cuisine is my favourite,” That got the faintest trace of smile from Cody. He seemed to agree with this sentiment. “But I thought that Master Dooku might appreciate it.” 

 

There was something undefined in his gaze, a sharp focus that hid more than a simple sentence indicated. Dooku looked at him curiously, but also there was some regret in his eyes? Feemor wasn’t sure, and the Force didn’t help either, just swirled around them, wanting to comfort, to support.

 

“As a matter of fact, I do. But you shouldn’t trouble only for me, Padawan. I enjoyed tiingilar, even though it burned like a Sith hell.”

 

Cody made a face, and Feemor was sure Kenobi kicked him under the table, but neither of them made a sound, they just calmly continued eating.

 

“Nobody makes them like they once did,” Kenobi said with a pang of sadness in his voice. Dooku seemed to catch it and he straightened up. Teenager’s face looked too serious, yet compassionate. “But there’s nothing to be done with that. Even the wisest can be fooled. Many small enemies indeed,” He said quietly, looking wistfully at his plate, and Cody needed to nudge him to move. “Yes. There’s still the future ahead. And in a very close one, we can serve a main dish. Excuse me.”

 

He fled the room and Cody followed him. Dooku seemed to be a bit uncomfortable, not in a mood for teasing. Qui-Gon was more focused, torn between following his Padawan and mulling over his words. Was he always so mysterious? Because it seemed like a trait inherited from Yoda.

 

“If that’s a lineage dinner, why Yoda hasn’t been invited?” Jinn asked sharply, after downing the rest of his wine. Dooku almost rolled his eyes. Feemor only shrugged.

 

“Obi-Wan said something about swamp stew.” Swamp stew, magic words that everyone who descended from Yoda’s lineage understood. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for humans and near-humans, and Yoda, that damned green troll, was aware of it.

 

“Yes, maybe next time.” Qui-Gon said, pouring himself another glass, and once again teenagers’ timing saved them from awkward conversations.

 

Somehow they managed not to kill each other right to the dessert, which in fact was Alderaanian Charlesworth’s Flaming Cake. He was impressed; it was really good – wet, but light, with a layer of sourness that balanced it nicely. He never had the original cake before, only variations of it.

 

“Is this Alderaanian Charlesworth’s Flaming Cake?” Dooku’s surprise rang in the Force. Obi-Wan looked smug. “How in the Force did you manage to do it?”

 

“The recipe isn’t difficult, only getting it is. Which reminds me: Master, do you know if Queen Breha announced her engagement already?”

 

Feemor once again felt as if he lost the train of thought. Kenobi was either insane or insanely intelligent. Maybe it was both.

 

“That recipe is the biggest secret of Alderaanian cuisine, only the royal chefs know how to make this cake.” Dooku stressed out. Or he would stress out, if he weren’t a composed Jedi Master.

 

Simultaneously, Jinn said: “As a matter of fact, she did. It was last year, when you were… away.”

 

A shadow ran through Kenobi’s face, but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Qui-Gon winced, and Cody gave him the scariest look. Feemor was never a part of a military, but this was how he imagined the highest ranking officers to look at the most irritating troopers who did the dumbest thing possible. It was a powerful thing and he envied that flawless delivery. Obi-Wan put a hand on his arm, and the tense atmosphere relaxed a bit. 

 

“Good, it means I still have to send them a wedding gift. Something nice, but tasteful. Hm, I’ll think of something. Bail would appreciate the thought anyway.”

 

Feemor liked that he wasn’t the only one confused in this room. Only Cody looked composed and not surprised at all.

 

“How do you know his name?” He asked, because three seconds ago he wasn’t aware when the Queen got engaged. Why did he care about the Alderaanian royal family anyway?

 

“Oh, Bail Prestor Antilles was an obvious choice. Successful man, an honest one. He’ll be – and I mean every word – a good politician. He’ll make a wonderful career in the Senate, I’m sure of it.” And he ate his cake contently. Cody rolled his eyes at him. He just smirked.

 

“Jedi shouldn’t maintain such a close relationship with any politician or the head of the government. It’s blatant favouritism, and Jedi should be neutral.”

 

Kenobi’s eyes got that sharp edge again. The air seemed to move around him, the Force gathered, and in that moment he looked larger than his lithe form, larger than life.

 

“Some friendships are more valuable than others, you must agree with me,” Cody muttered something under his breath, but he couldn’t hear what; however, he could hear Qui-Gon’s surprised cough. He was red as a beetroot. Good. “Some of them need time to flourish first. Everything will be as the Force wishes anyway.”

 

The Force didn’t seem to have a strong opinion on that one, but he could swear he heard a delighted laughter. Maybe it was his imagination, maybe it was a wine, maybe it was the will of the Force. 

 

“Hey, hey, wait a minute,” He interrupted him, because now he got invested, and Dooku might have an aneurysm in three seconds, right after Qui-Gon. This was the best lineage dinner, and not because someone actually knew how to cook. Yes, he didn’t speak to Qui-Gon, he still hadn’t apologised to him, but that tiny Padawan was making him feel things. Not that he liked it, but that was the best entertainment he had in years. “Come on, how did you meet the future royal couple of Alderaan? Because I assume that’s how you got that recipe. And Force, you’re – how old are you?”

 

Obi-Wan had this unimpressed look of a Master again, but he answered, sighing.

 

“I’m fifteen. And let’s say that from a certain point of view, Bail Organa saved my life. Twice, actually,” There was something distant in his eyes. He didn’t like it, neither the way the Force gathered closer around him, again full of mourning, sad blues. Cody drew a sharp breath. “He deserves to have his kindness repaid. Not because he saved my life, of course, even though I still owe him for this, but because he always keeps fighting for the right thing. It’s not about political influence or favouritism,” He said to Dooku. “It’s about having a good man in our corner. We’re going to need every ally, no matter how small they are.”

 

The silence that came after was heavy. Qui-Gon looked horrified, Dooku got lost in thoughts, only Cody was thinking about something without the chill of dread that Feemor definitely felt.

 

“Did you…” Cody asked him, tilting his head a bit. There was curiosity, but also something else. Something deeper.

 

“Mmm, yes. It was after– Well, do you remember that time, shortly before–” He made a few signs with his hands, Feemor saw them for the first time, but Cody nodded, prompting Obi-Wan to continue. “I wasn’t at my best then. It was before we all knew each other better, and I didn’t know whom I could trust. And he was there, so he understood. It helped. But duty always comes first. I never minded that. They were good friends of mine till the very end, and I trust them with more important things than my life. Anyway, enough sad stories for one evening – does anyone want some tea?”

 

It wasn’t the smoothest opening, but something in Obi-Wan’s posture spoke of bone-deep tiredness and hidden pain. He saw this look quite enough in people in the Outer Rim. He didn’t want to think of the connotations.

 

“I’ll make it.” Feemor offered, already standing up. He needed a break. The Force made him nauseous, and Qui-Gon already looked green in the face. When he was leaving, he saw him opening his mouth, but Dooku beat him to the punch:

 

“Why do you think so lowly of yourself, Grandpadawan? We’ve only just met, but I can see the potential in you, and you’re already well educated on things no teenager should have been. And I had a conversation with Master Drallig yesterday, he’s very impressed with your skills, and he’s not the one to say such praises lightly.” Feemor glanced at them one more time, before focusing on the task. Cody looked at Dooku and Kenobi with a quite adorable ‘this unbelievable, someone pinch me’ look on his face. It was as if getting the most unusual ally in a long time argument – he was familiar with this look, Archer made it a lot, especially when he admitted voluntarily that he might have been in need of medical attention. 

 

The tea steeped quickly. He was sure he made the same kind Kenobi made earlier for him, but he couldn’t be sure. He got used to cheap caf they served everywhere in the Outer Rim. But he admitted he missed the calming scent of a freshly made tea. 

 

Surprisingly, there was a content silence when he came back with the beverage. Everyone looked lost in thoughts. Feemor couldn’t help, but think, as if prodded by the Force, that maybe this lineage wasn’t unsalvageable. Maybe Yoda will stop getting in other being’s businesses and start listening to them more closely. Maybe Dooku will learn how to be more present without being overbearing in his sharp remarks. Maybe Qui-Gon will learn how to apologise and think about long-term consequences of his poor decisions. Maybe he will learn how to stop holding a grudge and not run away from the confrontation. And maybe even this sad, determined Padawan, who was completely opposite of Xanatos, he actually felt a bit ashamed for comparing them (he didn’t know better, but it wasn’t a mistake he was going to repeat), will learn how to love himself more.

 

And the Force, once again, sang of hope. 

 

Chapter Text

Cody has found him in the bathroom after some time. He had no idea how long he had been sitting, curled up between shower and a towel cabinet, muffling any sounds coming out of his mouth. The air had been cold and humid, and not at all like on Tatooine, it made him even more confused and frightened.

 

“Obi-Wan?”

 

His voice was so loud in the quiet of the bathroom, and he barely resisted hitting his head on the side of a cabinet so he could stop hearing it. He knew that the ghosts won’t stop haunting him. He muttered some apologies, but he doubted that his faults could be forgiven, not when he was the cause of Cody’s demise, Cody’s and the Vode’s as well.

 

“Love, can I touch you?”

 

No, no, no, no, no. 

 

Nobody touched him for so long, but that was fine, it was fine, he didn’t deserve it anyway, he didn’t deserve when he was an angry and brash thirteen-year-old Initiate, he didn’t deserve it when he was stupid, inconsiderate Padawan who draw his lightsaber on one person who took pity on him and was willing to train him, he didn’t deserve it when the Galaxy tumbled down in pain and agony, so he definitely didn’t deserve it now. He would only stain him with his darkness, with his faults, with his mistakes. He can’t fail again. He can’t. He can’t.

 

“Okay, okay, it’s alright, I won’t touch you. You need to breathe, though, can you breathe with me? Can we do the same exercises you showed the shinies after a battle? Maybe this one that calmed Wooley down on Felucia?”

 

He couldn’t remember Felucia or the exercise he had been talking about, but he remembered Wooley. His kind eyes and the fact he liked knitting. He came to the medbay often when he was in there, he knitted a pair of socks for him once. Blue. They were blue.

 

“Blue socks? The one that Wooley made for you? I remember them, they were awful, keep matching my breaths, alright? You’re doing great, just keep breathing.”

 

He made a noise of disagreement. They weren’t awful, it was a present and he– and he– he couldn’t remember what happened.

 

He failed them. He failed them all. And now he was made to repeat these mistakes, these faults, the Force couldn’t leave him alone, couldn’t leave him to die in a sandstorm, he was in the past and all he could was–

 

He could only observe history repeating itself.

 

“Obi-Wan!” 

 

The voice was now full of authority; he couldn’t not obey it. It was his Commander’s voice. He gathered the last of strength to look up at him. He was scared – his amber eyes were open wide, shimmering. Was he failing him already? He wanted to stop failing people, but he didn’t know how to do it.

 

(He once hoped that Qui-Gon would tell him how to stop disappointing him, and he pushed himself harder and harder to do it without his instructions – instructions he never gave – but all he accomplished was just another failure. And another. And another.)

 

“You didn’t fail me. Keep breathing, I’ll show you how.”

 

He obeyed. He was tired of struggling. He fell, too tired to keep his body up, but Cody caught him in his arms. It was a familiar place, comforting, well known. Safe. He was safe there.

 

“It’s alright, you’re safe. Keep breathing.”

 

It was both easier and harder to do it while his face was just above Cody’s elbow and his knees dug into his ribs uncomfortably. He didn’t mind the pain though. Pain was grounding. He knew pain. In his life there were two constant things: the Force and the pain.

 

There was the weird wheezing sound coming from somewhere, and he didn’t realise he made them until Cody started to rub circles on his back in a steady motion. It calmed him down, because this too was familiar to him, therefore he could relax a bit, even if somewhere deep in his brain, it felt undeserving. He felt undeserving.

 

It took a while before he could find his voice, but he hadn’t had much to say anyway. But this was important. It was all he could think of right now.

 

“Promise me,” He rasped, clinging desperately to Cody’s arm, trying to look into his eyes as well as he could, “Promise me… I can’t fail again, I can’t see it all happening again. I won’t survive it, I’d rather die than see them all perish again. Promise me…”

 

Cody rarely cried, but he could see tears in his eyes. Oh no, he hadn’t meant to make him sad. 

 

“We won’t fail, love. We won’t.” That’s all he said before he hid his face in his hair.

 

He was probably unfair, he shouldn’t ask him that just after getting him back, after they got each other back, but he couldn’t do anything much longer without saying it. Because it was an honest truth: he won’t survive seeing the Jedi Order getting destroyed, torn apart, murdered, again. But he also didn’t think logically at that moment, his head was a mess. There was a pain of incoming migraine and unpleasant disorientation – the aftereffects of a panic attack were well known from his time on Tatooine, but it didn’t make it any easier to bear. Or for people to deal with him, but he didn’t have much experience in that regard.

 

“Shh, cyare, it’s alright. Don’t cry.” Cody’s whisper was heartbreaking, but it only made him cry harder. 

 

It was overwhelming. 

 

The love he felt for him, the desperation, the sorrow, the guilt. He kept everything so tightly inside his shields, but right now his emotional control had gone to Sith Hell. He didn’t even care that much – he was so tired.

 

“I know, love, I know. Let’s get you some painkillers and those fancy muffling earphones. We’re going to lie down and have a nap, okay?”

 

He whined, because he didn’t want to move, but he nodded. He trusted Cody with his life. He was a good man. He’d make an excellent Jedi, much better than he was, but then again, it wasn’t that hard to be a better Jedi than him. But Cody was good.

 

And he was so tired.

 


 

 

The apartament reeked of despair and panic, it was almost painful to come inside. Nevertheless, Qui-Gon tried to do better by his Padawan, and it was obvious to him that something had happened during the couple of hours he’d been gone in the Archives, so he bravely came into the rooms. He expected to see at least a small armageddon inside, but the rooms were dark and quiet – the only light was an artificial glow of a working datapad, illuminating Cody’s face. He was sitting on a couch, his arm was bending awkwardly, so he suspected that his Padawan was lying on him. Obi-Wan was muted in the Force, probably sleeping or on painkillers. It was hard to tell, these days.

 

“Hi,” He greeted the teenager quietly and Cody nodded at him in response. “Obi-Wan’s asleep?”

“Migraine,” He answered shortly, always to the point. “I played him some soothing static sounds and gave him some painkillers. It was a bad one. He had a panic attack before, I found him in the bathroom, he was already scratching hands, I don’t think he was aware of doing that.”

 

Qui-Gon felt in the Force that he didn’t like sharing this information, and furthermore, that he was hiding something. On the one hand he wanted to pry so badly, he wanted to know everything that happened in his home, but on the other… Well, he knew already that Obi-Wan inspired an unwavering loyalty in the boy, he doubted that even under the worst circumstances he’d sold Obi-Wan’s secrets. It’ll be a futile job to pry, and Qui-Gon hardly liked wasting his energy on things when he knew it wouldn’t change a thing.

 

“What are you reading?” He changed the topic, while getting some herbal tea for Obi-Wan to drink later. He never drank anything hot when he was nauseated anyway.

 

Cody hummed in response.

 

“Not much. Mostly organising some data.”

 

“Obi-Wan’s research?” Okay, so he wanted to pry. But his Padawan was so tight-lipped about everything lately, and he understood that things were different now, but he was used to Obi-Wan asking him about some cultural differences for whatever assignment he currently had, and last week he caught him reading a paper written entirely in Ryl while talking to Cody in Mando’a and making notes in Basic. He never shared anything with him, because he didn’t need to.  

 

He wouldn’t say it out loud, but maybe he liked being needed.

 

“Yes,” Qui-Gon poured some hot water into the teapot and thought that it was the end of conversation, no more small talk for today, but Cody, like Obi-Wan, had a knack for surprising people. “He was busy completing data concerning his participation in that Force anomaly, or whatever you jetti are calling it. I’m organising it, because I think it’s the highest time to share it with the Council. We need help. He needs it.”

 

Qui-Gon didn’t need the light to know that Cody was giving him one of his stares. It was a deeply protective, and frankly speaking, scary look on his face, and he was raised by Dooku, he was familiar with the whole spectrum of scary looks on human and near-human faces. And Cody had mastered it perfectly, because even in darkness Qui-Gon felt the strange need to defend himself.

 

“I didn’t want to push him into anything.”

 

Cody hummed again, but it wasn’t a sound of consideration, like before. It was a sound of judgement.

 

“I doubt you could push him into anything if he didn’t want to be pushed. He just needs support, I can take care of everything else.”

 

“How? You just said…”

 

“Let’s just say that I have years of experience under my belt. And I know just the right arguments. You do your job, I’ll do mine, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll actually be fine, as he says he is when he’s not.”

 

Qui-Gon could admit it: Cody was right.

 

“So. Council meeting?”

 

Cody sighed.

 

“Also a lot of experience. You’ll probably get invited too. Get yourself the strongest tea you can get, that’s my advice. And save some stronger alcohol for later, but you haven’t heard that one from me.”

 

They heard a rustling of a heavy blanket and some muttering. Cody reacted immediately, turning his gaze in Obi-Wan’s direction.

 

“Shh, you can sleep a bit longer, cyare.”

 

The only response they got was more rustling, an unintelligible murmur and a deep, heavy sigh. Cody also sighed, relieved this time.

 

“He’s still asleep, that’s good. I doubt he slept more than three hours.”

 

Qui-Gon frowned.

 

“This night?”

 

Cody’s answer was flatter and drier than the Geonosian landscape.

 

“This week. I threatened to sedate him, but without Bo– without a medic nearby he just flat out ignored me.”

 

“I didn’t know his insomnia got this bad again. I thought that after Master Drallig had found him in the salle in the middle of the night, he dropped that habit.”

 

The teenager snorted at him.

 

“It was always bad. He was hiding it better. That’s why we need to act. We need to start with taking some of the responsibility from him. Hence the Council meeting.”

 

It was Qui-Gon’s turn to get a bit cynical.

 

“You think they’ll help with anything? They’ll just quote some useless parts of the Code at him, tell him some bullshit and be done with it.”

 

“You also told him some bullshit and were done with it, you have something in common then,” He didn’t expect that harsh and sarcastic reply from the usually withdrawn teenager. It stung a bit. “Why do you think we had been collecting all that data? If you want to plead your case successfully, you need good evidence supporting it. Or a large amount of money, but I don’t think the Jedi High Council is prone to corruption – or at least one in a conventional manner.”

 

Qui-Gon didn’t want to ask. He really didn’t.

 

“But they might not listen to you anyway.”

 

“We have a backup plan.” And with that, he focused again on his datapad. That was the end of the conversation and Qui-Gon was partially happy that it was over. 

 

These damn teenagers were way too confusing for him.

 

But for the first time, he couldn’t stop thinking about what the future had in store for them all. The Force had been frustratingly vague about it.

 

Wait. Trust. Support. A change is coming. Follow me, child, and listen. Listen.

 

‘Follow me’, what kind of advice is that? He was nothing but a follower of the Force since he began his training.

 

He felt an unpleasant shiver down his spine. 

 

Listen!  

 

He sighed. All right, he’ll listen then.

 

Good.




 

 

Mace Windu wasn’t feeling peachy if you asked him.

 

He really tried not to blame anyone, but it was hard not to feel the pressure of a headache, building at the back of his head every time Padawan Kenobi was somewhere nearby. He became a walking shatterpoint since that day when the Force anomaly happened, and it only got worse after the second incident, mostly because a second walking shatterpoint arrived at the Temple.

 

Mace was a bit suspicious, alright? Padawan Kenobi had been showing a set of skills way too advanced for a child his age – he’d even taken earlier exams from a couple of seminars (instructors would probably be more irritated if not for spectacularly high grades he got) – and he was good at avoiding Council Members. Then Qui-Gon seemed to get more considerate – it was something that the Council hadn’t managed to pushed him into for almost three years (when it concerned Kenobi, of course) – he even went to the meeting to ask for the permission to go to Ilum with his Padawan, Force knows why, but it looked like Jinn had finally starting behaving like a Master for young Kenobi. Mace was glad, or rather would be glad, if it wasn’t for shatterpoints growing and growing around the teenager. He wanted some answers already, but something in the Force stopped him from searching them.

 

Not yet. Wait.

 

Every time he seeked guidance, the answer was the same.

 

Not yet. Wait.

 

So they waited until the second anomaly happened, and things got worse, because now there were two of them: scarily competent (and way above their age group) teenagers, with a big aura of mystery and bigger shatterpoints around them. Also, if that wasn’t enough, the Force seemed to be fond of them. What can he do then? He persuaded the other Council members to give them space, to accept Cody as a ward of the Order – he couldn’t say that they regretted that particular decision, the boy was polite, disciplined and his grades were high; he seemed to enjoy learning, whether that be Kenobi’s influence or his own trait (also, from one brief encounter he observed, he could shut Qui-Gon up with one look) – to wait for them to come. There wasn’t any need to scare them more than they probably were. Mace could be sympathetic, even if most of said sympathies were Depa’s influence.

 

But it was easy to say that Mace was getting frustrated. But also curious. He was a fighter at heart and he was keeping an eye on the teenagers – how they fought together and with each other spoke of things that Mace wasn’t keen on accepting. The Force was getting restless with anticipation and worry, but it was still holding them back. As if not all pieces of the riddle came into its right places. He didn’t know what they were waiting for, but when he asked the Force… 

 

Not yet. Wait. Close, but not yet.

 

In the end, the answers came without any dramatic flair that Yoda’s lineage was known of. He just got a message from Padawan Kenobi on his private comm number (Force knows how Kenobi got it), asking for a special Council session as quickly as possible. He hadn’t explained much, just requested they meet in the biggest conference room they had in the Temple.

 

The Force broke. Or rather one of the biggest shatterpoints just broke. It felt like a shockwave, one right in front of him. It blinded him for a minute or two, and he suspected that other Council members could feel some waves in the Force as well, even though they didn’t have his talent.

 

The Force hadn’t asked, hadn’t guided. It demanded.

 

So in the end they all meet outside the conference room, all members of the Jedi High Council, and two masters who weren’t on the Council: Master Jinn and Master Tholme. Without further ado, they came inside.

 

What greeted them was a deadly serious face of Padawan Kenobi, staring at them relentlessly; his whole body language – stiff and steady, perfect posture of a soldier – spoke of persistent determination and a goal he came to achieve. On his right stood Cody, his body mirrored Kenobi’s, but his face betrayed nothing – if Mace wouldn’t so concerned about shatterpoint that had blown right in his face not so long ago, he would be a bit impressed about the teenager’s control, some Jedi Masters could learn from him. 

 

Council Members slowly sat around the table. It was a bit unusual for them to gather in one of the conference rooms, since they preferred to discuss things in the main chamber, but Mace saw a holoprojector blinking in the corner, and a stack of datapads and some other materials (wait a second, was that a Sith holocron?) ready for whatever Padawan Kenobi had planned for this meeting.

 

Kenobi’s grey eyes hardened as he took a breath to compose himself. His right hand made a sign which resulted in a single nod from Cody who punched something on his personal datapad. Both teenagers straightened, as if their postures hadn’t been perfect already, and they square their shoulders simultaneously, bracing for something.

 

Mace could hear another shatterpoint growing, as if the previous one hadn’t been enough for one day.

 

“The esteemed members of the Council,” Kenobi began and something in his voice was full of authority he should not have at this age. The shatterpoint grew further. “I scheduled a meeting hoping I could clear some of the Council’s doubts, as well as answer the questions regarding Force Anomalies that had been happening for the last couple of months. I did not want to do so unprepared and I sincerely apologise for the delay. However, it has come to my attention that this issue cannot be put aside any longer, as we do not have much time to pursue any necessary actions regarding our survival as a Jedi Order.”

 

The shatterpoint was ready to break.

 

“We need to talk about Sith Lords.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Yan Dooku was a seasoned Master. He saw a lot, he did a lot (some of those brought him a great shame, which he tried to, unsuccessfully, ignore and move on), and he found himself straining further and further away from the Temple. He couldn’t recognise his home in this place, and what’s more important, he didn’t feel worthy of his home.

 

(But that was until Obi-Wan Kenobi quietly sneaked into his life.)

 

It didn’t mean that Yan cut himself entirely from the Jedi. He kept in touch with some people – mostly with those who actually wanted to keep in touch with him in return (something he couldn’t say about one of his Padawans). Hence, Jocasta was the first person to notify him that very peculiar things had been happening in the Temple recently and his lineage was, obviously, in the middle of it.

 

There was a Force incident in the Temple.

 

He wouldn’t believe her words if it wasn’t for two things: Jocasta would never lie to him. She never did, even if it hurt him – she believed in truth and knowledge and he admired her for it. They knew each other from the crèche – their crèchemasters jokingly called Jo, Sy and Yan “a golden trio”. They were unstoppable when they wanted to get to the bottom of things. There wasn’t a mystery they couldn’t solve together. So if Jocasta said it happened – then it happened. Besides, why would the Head Archivist ever lie to him?

 

The other thing was more personal – he felt that Force anomaly himself. It was like a deep vibration down in his bones, a calling, mournful and full of longing. An echo of a despair he felt only in his darkest moments followed by a sense of unbelievably light thread of hope. It was calling him with a promise of peace, with a promise of belonging once more.

 

He tried to ignore it and stay away from Coruscant, even if it started to feel like something done not out of (misunderstood) preservation, but against himself. He was truly torn, because he didn’t want to go and live in the Temple again, but he was still a Jedi. It was still his duty to follow the will of the Force, even if it was getting harder and harder to accept it – the corruption, rotten political machinery, and living on the Senate’s leash was getting under his skin more and more with every passing year. Jo seemed to understand that, but she also knew him better than almost anyone else. She would never ask him to come home, even if he could read it between the lines of her messages. 

 

Sifo-Dyas, however, wasn’t as tactful as Jocasta. His messages were also more surprising than hers. Yan almost choked on a quite wonderful blend of tea from Chandrilla – he should never check his datapad in the middle of breakfast. The message itself was nothing special, but the annotation at the end was a bit of a revelation to him.

 

Sy wrote: Your grandpadawan has a very good taste when it comes to teas, literature and, surprisingly, blasters – no need for any remarks about it being ‘uncivillised’, he admitted it as quickly as that topic arrived; honestly, Yan, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he is your blood – and if you won’t come back any time soon, I might stole him as my own grandpadawan. We’re already meeting semi-regularly; can you imagine that he managed to take his ‘negotiation and persuasion techniques’ exam earlier? And yes, before you ask, it’s still taught by Master Eliot. I am truly in awe. 

 

The rest of it was gibberish (well, it wasn’t, nothing that Sy wrote was meaningless, but it wasn’t as significant as what he wrote about his grandpadawan) – mostly teasing and goodbyes. And repeated request for him to come back to the Temple. 

 

Said message had the kind of impact for two reasons: Yan didn’t know much about his grandpadawan. Qui-Gon didn’t write to him often, and if it weren’t for Jo and Sy keeping an eye on him, he wouldn’t even know his former Padawan had taken a new child under his wing. From what he had gathered – again, Jocasta was very discreet and not prone to gossiping – they weren’t a very well-matched duet. He admitted that it made him a little worried; well, worried enough to read Padawan Kenobi’s file (it was blank – it shouldn’t be, only Shadows and very determined Masters, like himself, made it so). Also Yan was a man of endless curiosity. To this point he tried to restrain himself and respect Qui-Gon’s need for distance. It hurt him, but it was a boundary he wouldn’t cross.

 

His other reason was much less complicated. These days, Sy’s messages were full of bits and pieces of his visions. He learnt to recognise if he had a good or bad day just by the style of his letters to him – if they were composed and readable, it was a very good day. At his worst, it seemed like he wrote down everything he saw not in his personal diary, but directly in the message meant for Yan. He always apologised afterwards, and Yan always said that he had nothing to apologise for. It wasn’t his fault that they all were just puppets in the hands of the Force. Nevertheless, on days he and Padawan Kenobi met to drink some tea and talk about poetry or lightsaber forms – Sy was still mildly surprised that there was a teenager that wasn’t interested only in small talk in the salle or trying to gain some kind of favour (like trying to switch hours to practise katas in said salle) – his letters were always coherent. He was excited, yes, but there was not even one mention of a vision.

 

Yan could freely admit to himself that his curiosity was truly getting the best of him.

 

But what truly made him come back from his self-made exile was a short message from his Padawan-cousin with a holofile attached to it.

 

You should watch this , the message said. Yan wasn’t in the mood for surprises lately, but something in the Force made him reconsider his initial desire to delete that message immediately. He sighed, a bit undignified, but he poured himself a glass of the finest whisky, imported straight from Stewjon – something he kept for special occasions (and somehow, it certainly felt like one) – and played the file on his datapad.

 

It was a security recording from a training room. On the one side stood Cin, in the opening stance of Ataru – quite an unusual choice for him, he usually went for Soresu when he trained with Knights or Masters. What was even more unusual, besides a choice of form, was that Cin wasn’t, in fact, training with a Knight. On the other side stood, calm and poised, in a perfect opening stance of Soresu, Padawan Kenobi. Cin almost never practised with Padawans – he taught classes, but one on one duels with younger members of the Order weren’t that common, he was a Battlemaster after all – and he almost never practised against Soresu. So, a Padawan choosing Soresu for sparring with the Battlemaster? That was just unheard of. Teenagers were usually too energetic and vain to try using any other form than highly offensive ones – that’s one of the reasons why he rarely saw his beloved Makashi being butchered by a bunch of overzealous children. They lacked patience to outmatch and outwit their opponents. However, it looked like Padawan Kenobi had what his peers couldn’t find in themselves. Cin made him wait for such a long time, Yan almost checked to see if his datapad was working properly. It was, they just stood there, in their opening stances, for more than two minutes. Cin was testing him from the very beginning, and Obi-Wan did not fail.

 

Ten seconds after that thought, Cin moved and surprised Yan again. His opening stance was one of Ataru, but his body, and Yan knew it from the moment his Padawan-cousin had taken the first step, moved in the way Makashi users did. And Padawan Kenobi was not surprised. He straightened up, however impossible it seemed to be in his current position, and blocked the move. Seventh kata, then third, and fourth, disengage. He was fast, smart and effective. Cin changed the form again – a bit of unsportsmanlike behaviour on his part, but Yan quickly understood that this duel wasn’t about teaching Padawan Kenobi, it was about learning what he could do. And the fastest way to understand if Soresu wielder knew, intimately, passionately, to the core of his very being, what his form of favour truly was and by that what kind of person was someone who used it in the battle, was making one surprising move after another. Therefore, the Battlemaster, and even more experienced Masters knew that the easiest way to surprise someone Temple trained was to change forms during a spar.

 

But Cin didn’t surprise Padawan Kenobi. It was Kenobi who surprised Cin, because he managed to switch between forms as quickly as the Battlemaster did. There was a bit of Djem So in his attacks, quite graceful usage of Makashi in parry and riposte sequence, and wasn’t that move from Jar’Kai? Yan couldn’t really tell without a shoto, it was his least favourite form to learn.

 

When they disengage again, Cin swirled his lightsaber in his hand, as did Padawan Kenobi – that movement made him focused on the weapon itself. He couldn’t see the hilt properly, the quality of the recording was good, but not that good. However, he could see the colour of his lightsaber. His Padawan-brother sent him that file in an old-fashioned format – it wasn’t three-dimensional video, but in exchange, it also didn’t have that dreadful blue afterglow. His grandpadawan had a saber in the deepest blue colour he had ever seen. How interesting.

 

The wielder of that weapon had also struck his interest. With that little twirl Padawan Kenobi loosened up, but it wasn’t the change that came from relaxation – it was the stance of a warrior who knew their blade intimately, and knew what they were capable of while wielding it. It was a peculiar feeling to see something so familiar in his grandpadawan’s movements. Especially when he was deeply aware that a fifteen year old child raised on Coruscant shouldn’t behave like that. When Cin attacked again Yan could tell he stopped playing. He stuck to Djem So with sporadic Ataru jumps. The rules of the game settled to something more traditional, and so did Padawan Kenobi. He rarely used a move outside Soresu, but when he did, it was to outsmart his opponent, not to show off his skills. And it was clear that he had plenty of those.

 

Yan wouldn’t say it out loud for a million years, but never in his life saw such beautifully executed Form III in practice. He wanted to spar with that boy almost as bad as he wanted to see that duel again, but not on a small datapad screen – he wanted to be present in the room, he wanted to feel the Force around him; how it hummed or twisted between one parry and another. What it whispered when he had deflected the heavy rain of blows, how it moved him when he had used it to support a jump. It wasn’t satisfying enough to see him on the screen, because he felt deprived of the full experience that came from observing a Force user actually using it in practice, and how the Force user used the Force during situations like these told him a lot about the person.

 

Yan couldn’t say it for sure, but from what he had seen to this point, without any first-hand experience on his own, he still had a feeling that Obi-Wan Kenobi was, in few words, a true eye of the storm.

 


 

 

Journey from Outer Rim back to the Core was a long, tedious one, but somehow it didn’t stop messages from coming. And not a single one of them helped him unravel the mystery of his grandpadawan. There was some vague news (although he felt like ‘rumours’ was a more appropriate word to describe the quality of information) about children appearing from thin air, duels in the middle of the night, negotiations (or wars?) led by teenagers, child-soldiers in the Temple and even one about some anonymous papers written by someone about corruption in the Senate. The last one actually caught his attention enough to try and verificate it – it was quite an impressive piece of writing. Yan was sceptical about the impact it could have on the Republic – which meant he thought it’ll be swept under the rug by the end of the fortnight – but nonetheless, someone did a solid work with it.

 

Then the same author wrote a paper about the Ruusan Reformation. Now, that was a controversial choice of topic, but frankly speaking, Yan regretted he wasn’t in the Temple to see the uproar made by it. After all these years spent on travelling in the galaxy he could recognise signs of someone getting ready to start a revolution. And these papers weren’t written just by a simple, but talented scholar. They were written by someone who understood what kind of war they began to wage and how to wage it for their own profits. Clearly, they wanted a new reformation. Yan personally thought it was too late for it, but youth has no measures – and only a young fool could still find it in themselves to try and change unchangeable.

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about these papers even when he should be completely focused on landing his ship in the Temple hangar. Evidently, some of the Knights were surprised to see him, but he was more surprised to see a lonely silhouette of a Padawan near the entrance to the Temple. When their eyes met, the first thing Yan noticed was not how unusual the colour of Padawan Kenobi’s eyes was, but how exhausted and old they looked. His eyes seemed to change from blue to gray, or maybe it was just the artificial lightning, and he suppressed a flinch when they made eye contact, but he wasn’t fast enough to hide it entirely. Yan saw the deep breath he took to calm himself before bowing deeply. It was a traditional, very respectful bow, and Yan could admit he was pleased to see that someone in his lineage understood the importance of politeness and good manners. He nodded, not as deep, but enough to express mild satisfaction with his grandpadawan’s behaviour.

 

“Master Dooku.” He said. The tone of his voice was perfectly neutral. Interesting. 

 

Suddenly Yan remembered that he managed to take his negotiation exam early – way too early, given it was one of the most demanding classes and Master Eliot demanded perfection.

 

“Padawan Kenobi”, he responded. “I must say, I didn’t expect anyone to welcome me in the Temple.”

 

Steel in the Padawan’s eyes softened as he smiled briefly, kindly, but without any familiarity. After all, they just met.

 

“Ah, yes, I’m afraid if it wasn’t for tea with Master Sifo-Dyas I wouldn’t be here either, but I’m glad he told me about your arrival. You have been missed.”

 

“There’s no need for such pleasantries, Padawan, I know that my popularity in the Order is nonexistent and I never strived to be perceived as such. It’s undignified.”

 

His tone was cold, but Padawan only tilted his head in contemplation. He wasn’t afraid of him, but Yan could tell he was assessing him quietly. Not judging, only trying to analyse if there’s a threat or how much trust he can put in him. It was familiar behaviour for Yan, and another quite worrisome thing to witness in such a young man. What had Qui-Gon been teaching him? 

 

“Indeed, but nonetheless, Jedi are quite the gossipers when they want to be,” he said it with humour, leading him through less frequented halls of the Temple. “But popularity and gossip aside, I think Master Nu would be pleased to see you. She never said it directly, but she mentioned that she valued your friendship very highly.”

 

Two more corridors and they would arrive at his rooms. Surprisingly, he didn’t want this conversation to end, and there was one thing that was bothering him.

 

“Did she? Say, Padawan, does your Master know you’re here with me?” Qui-Gon’s silence was quite telling about the place he wanted his Master to have in his grandpadawan’s life. Which meant that Yan was almost one hundred percent sure that he wouldn’t want them to meet or otherwise he would be there with him. Yan tried to honour his wishes, even though it made him feel strangely disconnected, not that he would admit it to anyone, including himself.

 

“Oh, that’s not really relevant, Master Dooku. Master Qui-Gon does what he wants most of the time, I’m sure you know it more than anyone. I’m allowed to form my own opinions as I am capable of making them without any external influences. Only fools judge someone by other people’s experiences. I’d like to know my grandmaster as he is, since it’s only fair, wouldn’t you say?”

 

The Force was silent, but it swirled around them, and if Yan wouldn’t know any better, he’d say it was anxious to hear his answer. Padawan Kenobi, on the other hand, was harder to read. His body language was neutral, but there was something pressing in his eyes. He had a mild, kind smile on his face, one that assured you that your interlocutor was nothing but honest and had your best intentions in mind. On any other face it would be highly suspicious, but the teenager was calm and patient in the Force.

 

Yan rarely trusted anybody. And no, he didn’t trust Padawan Kenobi, but it didn’t mean he didn’t want to get to know him. There was another matter to consider – the child came to him by his own will. He wouldn’t be crossing any boundary or doing anything against anyone’s explicit wishes. It was, from the lack of better phrasing, a win-win situation, and Yan had a feeling like Padawan Kenobi was not only aware of it, but also not afraid to use it for his own gain, whatever that may be. Maybe he’s in his ‘teenage rebellion’ phase? In Yan’s opinion, meeting an old man for tea was better than all the shenanigans his own Padawans were up to when they were in that age.

 

“Well said, grandpadawan. Master Sifo-Dyas was quite impressed by your taste in tea. I would like to see it out myself, since only fools judge someone by other people’s experiences.”

 

Padawan Kenobi smiled knowingly.

 

“Splendid. I let myself leave you my comm number and datapad address – I helped Master Nu gather a few things from the Quartermaster when she learnt of your arrival. I’ll be looking forward to your message, Master Dooku. May the Force be with you.” With the final, as respectful as the first one, bow, he left.

 

This child was unbelievable, and Yan was surprised by that thought. Already thinking so fondly of him?

 

Sy and Jo had much explaining to do, and more importantly, some apologies to make for not warning him about what a force of nature this child seemed to be.

 


 

 

Yan used his sudden arrival to his own favour and manipulated the Council into thinking that yes, they wanted to keep him in the Temple, and making him teach a Makashi class to the Senior Padawans was indeed a punishment for straying so far away with so little contact. Both of the sides were aware that they weren’t fooling anyone, but Yan was, for once in his life, looking forward to some downtime on Coruscant. Maybe in time he’ll start taking missions, but right now, he wanted an opportunity to observe what was truly going on in his lineage.

 

Results were mostly as such: Yoda was still a green troll and Yan tried to avoid him as much as possible. Rael was actually a decent Padawan and he tried to keep in touch every once in a while, so he knew that on a diplomatic mission with his second Padawan (his first had been somewhere in the Mid Rim as a part of humanitarian aid). Feemor clearly didn’t want to be bothered by anyone from his lineage, although Yan was aware that Jocasta wanted him to take up his academic work, so if Feemor didn’t want to talk, that’s his right, but Jo would at least tell him some basics. Qui-Gon also didn’t want to talk, but it wasn’t like he was hiding, so Yan actually could observe him.

 

He changed. Not like he did after that foolish child, Du Crion. Most of the time he was chasing after his Padawan, exasperated, but in the fond way Masters were when they didn’t want to admit they were mother hens. Personally, Yan was a firm believer in letting children be independent, but he also treated them accordingly when they made some mistakes that needed to be corrected. Padawan Kenobi was clearly an self-sufficient person, but – and that surprised Yan even though he had already witnessed manifestations of it – not in a ‘I’m a headstrong maverick and I won’t listen to anyone’ way, like Qui-Gon once, and still, was. No, he was mature and quite sensible, but it seemed like he was sometimes forgetting that he was still a Padawan.

 

What a strange child he was. Calm and poised, observing the world serenely, but wary of anything that might be thrown at him. They once met briefly in the Archives, Dooku leaving after meeting with Jo, Padawan Kenobi entering, with a stack of datapads higher than it should be possible for a Padawan his age. Not one fell as the teenager was gracefully moving through the sea of his peers and other Jedi members. He greeted Yan with a brief nod, but hadn’t stopped to chat. Other times he found him in the middle of the night in the various places in the Temple – salles, when he was going through katas of every form, including Vaapad (he was good, but not as nearly as he was at Soresu; his Jar’Kai was also surprisingly well-developed and there was some fondness in his movements, it almost felt like a dance); or gardens, usually a desert one (what a peculiar choice), but sometimes he saw him entering one that imitated weather conditions on planets similar to Stewjon. Once they met in the refectory, he was holding a cup of caff in his hands, and he looked unusually disarrayed: his face was paler than fresh snow on Hoth, with dark circles around equally pale, although red-rimmed, eyes. His auburn hair was dishevelled, as if he was moving his hands through them countless times – and he probably did, given he did it right before Yan’s eyes, sighing heavily. He looked plagued by nightmares, and honestly, Yan could relate, since he wasn’t having the best night either. He decided to join his grandpadawan in that silent vigil over a cup of caff (and contrary to the popular opinion, he enjoyed caff, as long as it was a good one). They weren’t talking, just silently keeping each other company. Yan had no idea what demons this child could have, but he knew his own – some things you just don’t ask about.

 

Shame and regret were familiar feelings, even though he tried to outrun them. In the end, even their galaxy ended somewhere, and he’d be forced to stop running. He didn’t want to know who he would be then.

 


 

 

Turns out, one did not change his lifestyle overnight – Yan quickly became restless and he wanted to get out of the Temple. Padawan Kenobi shot him a knowing look, when they met for their weekly afternoon tea, but he didn’t comment further until the very end of their encounter.

 

“If you really need to get away for a while, grandmaster, maybe consider doing something different than strictly diplomatic work. There’s a lot of hope in the galaxy, not only rotten insides of the Senate.”

 

Yan looked at him questiongly, but Padawan chose not to elaborate. He only bowed and said his goodbyes. His words, however, stayed with him for a while.

 

Week later, when he left the Temple, it was to meet with Rael’s Padawan, hoping he could be of help in the Mid Rim. Once he would think of it as less than distinguished work, but in the last couple of weeks he started to think more about his personal wrongdoings than others’ faults. It was due to loose comments that Padawan Kenobi made on the various occasions, but each of them struck quite close. It was almost as if that child knew things he certainly shouldn’t have been aware of.

 

In the end, maybe he’ll just awoke an ungodly terror in reluctant officials or other bureaucrats. It might not be as satisfying as a good lightsaber fight, but it will be a change of pace. Perhaps even a welcomed one.

 

After one relief mission there was another one, then negotiations and one more mission in the Mid Rim – and then Yan found out, with a startling realisation, that he actually missed the Temple. The correspondence from his friends, and more importantly, his grandpadawan had been coming steadily; it made him feel less as if he had been running from everything and everyone.

 

Then, just when he was on his way to Coruscant, he got the letter. In said letter, Padawan Kenobi attached a formal invitation to dinner in his quarters. He RSVP’d, saying that he’ll be delighted to meet, but he expressed the greatest hope that his former Padawan would not be included in the delicate process of preparing food for the dinner. To that Padawan Kenobi responded, much less formally, that he counted on spending a pleasant evening in the company of his grandmaster, not in the Halls of Healing. Yan was glad they were on the same foot when it came to Qui-Gon’s culinary talents.

 

Yan was also too easily reassured by his grandpadawan’s cunning way with words. He truly expected just two of them meeting over some nice soup and maybe sweets from Serenno. What he didn’t expect was Feemor, looking longingly at wine he must have brought with himself, and another child, with oh, so familiar face, who carried himself like a soldier and seemed to be living with Qui-Gon and Padawan Kenobi.

 

He honestly had no idea what Mandalorian teenager with the face of Jango Fett had been doing in the Temple, but he wasn’t going to ask it right now. It would be highly impolite. But he’ll be observing him cautiously, even though (or especially because) he seemed to be comfortable around Obi-Wan, to the point they seemed to understand each other without words.

 

Then Qui-Gon arrived and the atmosphere had been… tense. The only person in the room who looked, well, not at ease, but at least composed enough to pretend that nothing unusual had been happening, was Obi-Wan. Obviously, he wanted to gain something, and Yan was curious about how this whole endeavour at unifying their lineage will end.

 

And Yan needed to admit: the food was exquisite. His grandpadawan’s commentary on Mandalorian cuisine: less so. The thought of it still brought him pain and regret. He wished for many things to happen differently in his life, but nothing would bring him more pleasure (and peace of heart) to see change in the Order. He once thought it to be unchangeable, but many conversations with grandpadawan made him rethink his stance on that. Padawan Kenobi desperately wanted the Jedi Order to change, to reform. He could see it in every argument he made, every unorthodox behaviour, every paper he wrote and pretended he didn’t do that (yes, Yan realised quite fast that it was his penmanship that caused the uproar all around the Temple).

 

Even now, Yan was mildly impressed with his light banter with every member of this little party, his commentary on Alderaan’s future royal couple, insinuations he made that only the Mandalorian teenager seemed to understand, sharp and intelligent remarks – how he hoped it would meant that the change was coming. Or maybe he just projected his wants and desires on this eccentric child, because yes, he wanted him to be the one who would bring change to the Order. How much faith he put in him, simply because he was nothing he expected, and instead he was constantly surprising him, because Obi-Wan wanted him to change too. As if he knew something nobody else did. As if he decided he was someone worth saving.

 

And all his strange comments, ones that belonged in the mouth of someone much older, much more experienced, someone tested by many trials, each one of them endured by sheer force of will – it only added to the mystery. The Force swirled around him in the picture of pure perseverance and resistance in the face of troubles, but other than that he was perfectly shielded, almost to the point of invisibility.

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi looked like someone who had the entire future of the galaxy on their shoulders and didn’t think themselves worthy of that task. Someone who would move even if their entire world had been falling apart. There was his wit, his cleverness and caring heart, his abilities that came not from talent, but years and years of hard work, but it was only one side of the medal. There was also his exhaustion, self-deprecating comments and need to lay down at the altar of the Force, sacrificing himself while thinking that he’s not enough to be a worthy sacrifice. It all painted an interesting picture of someone much more complicated that an average teenager had been. But he already knew that, didn’t he?

 

Yan had much to think about after that dinner. It was both a disaster and splendidly spent time. 

 

He couldn’t wait for another one to happen.

 


 

 

Yan asked Sifo-Dyas about that Mandalorian teenager.

 

Sy laughed at him.

 

“You have no idea, haven’t you?” Yan’s flat stare caused another salve of laughter. “Alright, I’ll stop. Long story short, he appeared out of thin air – quite literally, Plo and Mace were there and they wouldn’t lie about something like this – and young Kenobi decided he was his to protect and he did. I have not once seen someone, much less a teenager, to avoid questions from the Council so effectively when he didn’t want to give a plain answer. He also viciously negotiated terms and advocated personally for this child to stay in the Temple. You should have heard him, Yan. It was truly glorious. What will we be in the eyes of the Republic, in the eyes of the galaxy, if we refuse shelter and some basic education in the time of need? Where’s our compassion, our kindness? It’s almost as if we’re more concerned about what a couple politicians, hiding in the safety of their immoral wealth, thinks of us, than the whole galaxy which we should serve. I’m not lying, those were his words. At least three Masters were on the brink of having a heart attack, but the rest thought about his words a lot. I sure did.”

 

Yan drank some tea and mulled over what Sy just told him, but his dear friend wasn’t done.

 

“Frankly speaking, I think that kid is good for Kenobi. There were some strange things going on with him after the first Force anomaly – Jo found him sleeping in various sections of the Archives a couple of times, I think she’d be furious with him if it wasn’t for the cleanliness and respect he shows to her precious texts – and that child was a wreck. It calmed down after his arrival. They take care of each other.”

 

“And what does the Council have to say about attachment?” Yan asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Yoda in particular would have many, very strong, opinions he wouldn’t hesitate to voice.

 

“They would probably scold them if they weren’t shocked by their blatant flirting, fighting and flirting while fighting. Honestly, Kenobi has no filter when it comes to that. It would be concerning, but Qui-Gon seemed to be more than shocked when he first heard him making insinuations with a lot of finesse. It reminded me of you when you were younger, you know? You also had your way with words, my friend.” Sifo-Dyas sent him a sly smile, which Yan responded to with rolling his eyes. Not entirely dignified of him, but it was Sy, he could let himself be less strict in his presence.

 

“Are you saying that I’m not having my way with words now? They say that with age comes knowledge, and with that – wisdom.” He wanted to tease him, just a little bit, for old time’s sake.

 

“Oh, you were never wise, Yan. Cunning and talented, yes. But fret not, there’s still some hope.”

 

Something in the edge of his voice sent shivers down his spine. It was almost as if something disastrous were barely avoided. As if they missed a shatterpoint. Sy took a deep breath.

 

“More tea?”

 


 

 

In the end, Master Dooku didn’t learn as much about his grandpadawan as he had wanted. He didn’t get to witness his strategic mind in the heat of battle, but in the middle of a board game. He didn’t see his compassionate heart, because he refused to leave his men on the battlefield, but he saw it during a mission he asked to accompany him on. He didn’t duel with him to death, but to three touches, all under the cautious eye of Cody the Mandalorian.

 

However, he learnt about his war experience (that particular conversation ended in a three hours long fight with Qui-Gon and Dooku leaving for a month long mission in the Outer Rim), his language skills (he still mostly talked in Mando’a to Cody when they talked about something that was connecting them stronger than any bond, their past lives as Obi-Wan tended to joke), his taste in alcohols (that shouldn’t even happen and they decided to never speak about it to anyone) and his brief premonitions, many of them turned out to be accurate.

 

So when he asked him once, almost pleading, really, not to trust the senator from Naboo, he listened. 

 

He never knew that Sifo-Dyas stopped having terrible visions of men in white armour killing their children in the Temple.

 

He never knew that Mace Windu had a three days long migraine from shatterpoint that burst and healed and burst again.

 

Yan Dooku only enjoyed the company of his lineage and drank a cup of his grandpadawan’s favourite tea in peace. He was finally home.